Hon. William Bernard O’Donoghue, St. Boniface

Links to Biographies:

• Dictionary of Canadian Biography http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=5194&&PHPSESSID=77p3ghoh45ah47i6qq5ggfkgf2

• Manitoba Historical Society http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/people/odonoghue_wb.shtml

• Lawrence Barkwell http://www.scribd.com/doc/34218641/Legislative-Assembly-of-Assiniboia


Biographical Notes:

Date of Birth: 1843
Place of Birth: County Sligo, Ireland.

Member of the Provisional Government of Assiniboia; Position in the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia:

  • Treasurer
  • Honourable Member for St. Boniface

Other Positions in Provisional Government:

  • Among the ‘French Members’ of 16 November 1869 ‘Convention of Twenty-four.’
  • Treasurer of Louis Riel’s executive council (27 December 1869).
  • Convention of Forty Member for St. Boniface (French).

According to his friend, in an affidavit of 1877:

“I, Jeremiah C. Kennedy, of the firm of Kennedy Bros. of the City of St. Paul, in the County of Ramsey, State of Minnesota, gunsmith, being first duly sworn, doth depose and say:—

1. That during all the time and dates hereinafter mentioned I have been personally acquainted with William B. O’Donoghue, late of the Province of Manitoba, in the Dominion of Canada. That I first met and became acquainted with the said William B. O’Donoghue in the month of June A.D. 1868, at the city of St. Cloud, in this State, where I then resided and did business; and that said O’Donoghue was then in company with the Right Rev. Bishop Grandin and a number of missionaries en route to the Red River; and from the advice and representations I received from them I determined to remove to that country and engage there in my business; and I did so the following month of July. While residing at Winnipeg I frequently visited Professor O’Donoghue at St. Boniface College, and enjoyed his confidence and association most intimately for the succeeding year and up to the breaking out of the insurrection in October, 1869.

2. That to my knowledge the said William B. O’Donoghue was not a party to the insurrection for several weeks after its inception, and then only at the urgent solicitation of Riel and other leaders and on the deliberate decision of his, O’Donoghue’s friends and associates. Guided by this advice and decision, and having the pledges of support from persons of position among the people, he joined the insurgents about two weeks after the capture of Fort Garry by Riel and his followers. Being, from the first symptoms of opposition to the proposed policy of the Canadian Government, in the confidence of the chief parties to the insurrection, I know whereof I speak when I say William B. O’Donoghue was in no manner responsible, or in any way instigated the rising of the Metis; and that all during the said insurrection I was Armorer to the Provisional Government, and had close and intimate business and confidential relations with its members; and what I here state is from personal knowledge and reliable information.

3. That I was a frequent visitor to Fort Garry and the headquarters of the Provisional Government, and from personal knowledge and information thus gained can say that O’Donoghue, while a member of the said Government, was chiefly instrumental in preventing it from going to excess, and in keeping its management within the bounds of discretion, having in view the object only of acquiring a just acknowledgment of the settlers’ rights, That he, O’Donoghue, put forth most vigorous efforts to suppress the use of intoxicating liquors, then the prolific cause of abuses in the Government. That Riel, after the arms in the possession of the Metis were repaired, proposed to contract with me for 300 small arms; and as I did not have them, he offered to furnish the money and send me to St. Paul to make the purchase for the Government; but O’Donoghue opposed the measure, and it was defeated; and I have attributed my loss solely to him.

4. That from personal knowledge and information I am aware that O’Donoghue was ever vigilant in suppressing disorders in the Provisional Government, and both in his public and private acts showed himself opposed to the shedding of blood; and through his influence many lives were saved. I have heard it frequently asserted, both by the friends and opponents of the Riel Government, and have always so understood, that O’Donoghue was instrumental in saving the lives of Major Boulton and William Gaudy, who were condemned by Riel and his Council; and these, and many other humane acts, O’Donoghue did at the risk of incurring the enmity of Riel and his immediate followers. By these acts of interference with and control exercised over the designs of Riel, O’Donoghue became on bad terms with the President, and no communication was had between them for weeks at a time; and Riel frequently called and held councils without O’Donoghue’s knowledge or consent. It was at the time of this disagreement between them that Scott was condemned and executed. During all my residency in Manitoba I never heard it stated by any one that O’Donoghue took any part in the trial or was in any way responsible for the murder of Scott, but on the contrary heard it frequently asserted that he was not only blameless in the matter, but strongly opposed to it; and on the very day of the execution he so stated to myself his condemnation of the act.

5. In the summer of 1860 [sic: 1870] a certain Captain Bodkin arrived at Fort Garry representing himself as on a mission from the Fenian Brotherhood. I was present when he was introduced to O’Donoghue in this character; and I can say that he, O’Donoghue, positively refused to recognize him, and declined to have any connection with his mission or its objects. From my long residency in the United States, and my knowledge of Fenian Organization, I can confidently say that O’Donoghue was not a member of it; and I know that the so-called ‘Fenian Raid’ on Manitoba had no connection with the organization, but was on the contrary publicly denounced by the Fenian newspapers of this country, and by the Fenian leaders through the public press of New York.

6. In the fall of 1870, while residing in this city, I became aware that O’Donoghue was the bearer of a Commission signed by several of the old leaders of the Provisional Government, authorizing him to bring an emigration to Manitoba for the purpose of enforcing amnesty and restoring the Metis to their rights. I saw several letters from signers of this Commission, and other gentlemen of position and prominence in Manitoba, written to O’Donoghue, urging him in the strongest terms and most earnest language to come on with the expedition. I myself had letters from some of the most prominent men of the French party in Manitoba, asking for information about the emigrants, and expressing the desire that they should come quickly. While the expedition was being organized in this city I was called upon at my place of business here by one of the chief representative men of Manitoba, who requested me to give him an introduction to the leaders of the expedition, O’Donoghue being then absent. This I did, and in my presence he gave them every assurance that the Metis were ready and waiting to join them as soon as they crossed the border. On my way to Manitoba on business I met parties from there who encouraged the expedition. I remained at Pembina some days, and know that O’Donoghue sent for Riel and the other leaders of the French to meet him at the line; and I know that some fifteen of them immediately responded and met O’Donoghue, O’Neill and others of the expedition at the house of Charles Grant, about 20 miles from Pembina, and agreed to call out all their forces and co-operate with the expedition; and after arranging matters in detail returned to their settlements for that purpose. I witnessed the crossing of the expedition on the day appointed and distinctly understood from all parties concerned that if the U.S. troops had not interfered and crossed the line in pursuit of the expedition, that in a very few hours it would be joined by Riel, then marching to meet them at the head of three hundred Metis. I then understood that on the interruption of the expedition by the U.S. troops a courier conveyed the news to Riel, who then retreated and offered his services to the Governor.

7. During all the time that I have known William B. O’Donoghue I testify to his unexceptionally [sic: meaning without exception] good character and uniform humane and gentlemanly conduct.

Jeremiah C. Kennedy.

Subscribed and sworn to before me this 18th day of May; A.D. 1877.

C.M. McCarthy,

Notary Public, Ramsey Co., Minn.”

[Source: “Professor O’Donoghue,” Toronto ON Irish Canadian (30 May 1877), 1.]

Date of Death: 16 March 1878, St. Paul, Minnesota.


Additional Sources:

Ruth Swan, “’Unequal justice:’ The Metis in O’Donoghue’s Raid of 1871,” Manitoba History 39 (spring/summer 2000), http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/mb_history/39/unequaljustice.shtml.


American Family Ties (through fiancée):

1. Callan, James. Born 1830, County Monaghan, Ireland (parents unknown); migrated to New York, 1847; married 1851; migrated to Ohio c. 1852; migrated to Minnesota, settled in Dakota County, 1854; farmer, Eagan Township; county commissioner of Dakota County; justice of the peace and Eagan town supervisor; “owner of the Callan Norman Canadian stallion, one of the finest horses in the state”; died 1913; buried St. Peter’s cemetery, Mendota, Minnesota.

Source: Ganaraska Pines Quarter Horses, http://www.ganaraskapines.com/images/horses_horse_runs_2_prv.gif:

— sp. HODT/HART, Elizabeth. Born 1835, possibly Berlin, or perhaps Ireland (parents unknown); died 1908; buried St. Peter’s cemetery, Mendota, Minnesota.

2. CALLAN, Benjamin. Born 1854; hired hand, Smith farm, Nininger; married 1880; settled in Hastings; operated a trucking business; died 1928.

— sp. SMITH, Mary. Raised on farm, Niniger; died 1926, Hastings.

2. CALLAN, Mary A. Born 1856; engaged but did not marry; died of tuberculosis, 3 May 1878, St. Paul, Minnesota.

— sp. O’Donoghue, William Bernard. Born 1843, County Sligo, Ireland, (parents unknown);  1878 transported while ill to St Paul, Minnesota; 26 March 1878, died of tuberculosis, St. Paul, Minnesota; buried St Joseph’s cemetery, near Rosemount. According to Ann Regan, The Irish in Minnesota (2002), 58,  William’s grave became the site of annual ceremonies commemorating the Easter Uprising.

O’Donoghue, W. B. – Claim of the late W. B. O’Donoghue to lot 1211 of the Hudsons Bay Company register in Manitoba – From Department of the Interior ;


2. CALLAN, Catherine. Born 1858; died 1863.

2. CALLAN, James. Born 1861; married 1889; moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, 1889; attended St. Michael’s church, St. Paul; farmer 1895, Inver Grove Township; died 4 April 1948; buried at St. Peters, Mendota.

— sp. KENNEDY, Mary. Born 1867, Inver Grove, to Henry KENNEDY and Maggy SULLIVAN; died 1913.

3. CALLAN, Agnes T.  Born 1890; married 1912.

— sp. BURKE, James.

3. CALLAN, Mary C. Born 1891; died 1970.

3. CALLAN, Joseph R. Born c. 1893.

3. CALLAN, William E. Born 1895.

3. CALLAN, George. Born 1896.

— sp. Ethel.

3. CALLAN, Emma M. Born 1898.

3. CALLAN, Elizabeth. Born 1900.

3. CALLAN, Florance.


2. CALLAN, Elizabeth. Born 1863; died 1919.

— sp. HANDRAN, William.

2. CALLAN, Margaret. Born 1865; died 1944.

— sp. WATSON, Robert.

2. CALLAN, Frank L. Born 1867; died 1915.

— sp. Bertha.

2. CALLAN, Bernard. Born 1869; married 1898; died 1933.

— sp. KRENGEL, Louise.

3. CALLAN, Aurelia. Born 1900.

— sp. CAMPBELL, Peter.

3. CALLAN, William J. Born 1905; died 1980.

— sp. Irene. Buried Resurrection Cemetery, Mendota.

2. CALLAN, Andrew. Born 1873; died 1940.

— sp. STEWERT, Emma.

2. CALLAN, Charles. Born 1874; died 1945.

2. CALLAN, Robert. Born 1878; married 1907; died 1955.

— sp. HOSCH, Catherine.

3. CALLAN, Raymond J. Born 1908.

3. CALLAN, John.

3. CALLAN, James.

3. CALLAN, Clarence. Born 1910; died 1985.

— sp. Gail.

3. CALLAN, Arthur.

3. CALLAN, David.


[Credit: The original research on which this page is based was commissioned for the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia Project, by Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Manitoba. The current page is presented gratis — I have no funding from any agency.]


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