Fonds MSS 53 - H.M. Speechly, Margaret Stansfield fonds

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H.M. Speechly, Margaret Stansfield fonds

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  • Textual record
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  • 1902, 1925-1953 (Creation)
    Speechly, H.M
  • 1902, 1925-1953 (Creation)
    Stansfield, Margaret

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1.6 m of textual records, 1 photograph.

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Harry Martindale Speechly was born in Cocin, south-west India, November 1, 1866, the son of the first missionary bishop of the Episcopalian Church in the semi-independent states of Travancore and Cocin.

When he was three years old, his parents returned to England. He received his early education at Perse Grammar School in Cambridge, and the Monkton Combe School located in Bath. He was an academically sound student, but his first love was sports. While in school he playeed cricket, soccer, rugby, and lawn tennis.

He began his medical studies at the London Hospital located in Whitechapel, England in 1884. Five years later he graduated with the degrees of M.R.C.S. Eng. and L.R.C.P. Lon.

With school and college days behind him, he began his medical career as a physician with England's North Sea Fishing Fleet. However, the long months at sea were not to his liking so he resigned his position to accept an appointment as the house surgeon, house physician, and casualty officer at the London Hospital. In 1893, he resigned this position to become the medical officer at a boy's prep school in Chesire, England. He practiced medicine in Chesire for eight years.

While in Chesire, two things happened that changed his life forever. The first was his marriage to Mary Barrett, the eldest daughter of Reverend W.F. and Mrs. Barrett of Neston, Chesire, in 1895. The second event was the opportunity to view some lantern slides depicting scenes of Canada. Dr. Speechly promptly fell in love with the country of Canada, and began to make plans to move his family to Canada.

In 1901, he moved to Pilot Mound, Manitoba. His wife and family joined him the next year. In Pilot Mound he practiced medicine for fifteen years in a manner that was marked by skill and faithfulness. He also served as community Coroner.

During the First World War, he left Pilot Mound to serve as an Army Medical Officer in the Fleet Military Hospital, near Aldershot, England. He served in this position from July 1916 to April 1919. During this period of time, Dr. Speechly did the work of two physicians, and was awarded the Red Cross Medal for meritorious service.

In 1919, he returned to Canada to set up a successful medical practice in Winnipeg. Ten years later he was appointed Provincial Coroner, and served in this position until his reluctant retirement in 1942. Meanwhile his wife, Mary Speechly, also very community-minded, became involved with many committees and associations connected with improving the quality of practical education in Manitoba schools. She was the first female appointed to the Board of Governors of the University of Manitoba.

From 1942 to 1945, Dr. Speechly was Assistant Medical Officer at the King Edward Hospital in Winnipeg. Dr. Speechly sincerely believed that "no man should presume to live in a community without working for it." As a result of this belief, the communities that he lived in have been blessed with many outstanding contributions. His community activities make a formidable list, so only a few of his many accomplishments are detailed in this short biographical sketch of his life.

Dr. Speechly helped found and was President Emeritus of the Manitoba Natural History Society and the Manitoba Museum. He also served as President of the Winnipeg Health League, was a life-time member of the Manitoba Medical Society, and served as president of the Manitoba Horticultural Society and of the Winnipeg Boy Scouts Association.

Dr. Speechly served his church as lay reader for over fifty-five years. He was a member of all the synods of the Anglican Church, and Dominion President of the Brotherhood of St. Andrews. He also served as the president of the Manitoba Branch of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and of the Lord's Day Alliance.

Dr. Speechly is probably best known for his ongoing battle against mosquitos. In 1927, he took his first step in eliminating this pest by asking the Natural History Society to appoint an expert committee to examine the feasibility of a mosquito control campaign for Greater Winnipeg. Since that time, almost to his death, he served permanently as president and chairman of the Greater Winnipeg Anti-Mosquito Campaign.

Dr. and Mrs. Speechly are the parents three children; Margaret, (Mrs. E.J. Stansfield), William G., and Leslie B.

Dr. Speechly died in Winnipeg, March 17th, 1951, at the age of 84, after a short illness.

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Biographical history

Margaret Mary Speechly was born at Neston, England on May 21, 1896. She came to Manitoba in 1902 with her mother, Mary Barrett to join her father, Dr. Henry Martindale Speechly who had moved to Pilot Mound, Manitoba in 1901. She graduated in home economics from Manitoba Agricultural College. On November 14, 1925, she married Edmund John Stansfield (1891-1959).

She worked as an editor for the Grain Grower’s Guide in the 1920s, and later became a pioneer in the consumer rights movement, being honoured by the Consumers Association of Canada in 1976 for her work. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Manitoba (1977), received the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal (1977), and was given the YWCA Woman of the Year Award (1979). She died at Winnipeg on June 3, 1990.

Custodial history

The Speechly, Stansfield Family Collection was transferred to the Department of Archives and Special Collections on September 10, 1982, by H.M. Speechly's oldest daughter, Margaret Stansfield.

Scope and content

The scope and content of this collection is best described in the appraisal report of the National Archival Appraisal Board, dated January 20, 1983. The following is a quotation from that report:

"This collection will be of particular value to anyone studying social, political, land economic conditions in Winnipeg, especially from the mid-twenties to the mid-forties. In addition to chronicling events in that city, the papers trace the activities of prominent community leaders and the various associations of which Speechly was an active member. The unpublished autobiography provides a detailed account of the life and career of an active and vigorous civic leader.

The papers include correspondence, photographs, published articles, notes, pamphlets, and memorabilia and an unpublished autobiography of a prominent Winnipeg doctor over a period of almost four decades (1925-1961). The 1,329 letters to his daughter (Margaret Stansfield) written between 1925 and 1943, provide an interesting and relatively detailed chronicle of events and prominent people in Winnipeg. The collection is in excellent physical condition and occupies 75 cm."

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This collection is organized into 7 series:

Correspondence 1925-1943
Autobiography 1944
Articles 1902-1939
Notes by Dr. H.M. Speechly: 1941-[19-?]
Honorary Doctorate of Law: 1943
Articles About Dr. H.M. Speechly: 1919-1971
Photograph Collection (PC 75)

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A finding aid can be downloaded from the fonds-level description by clicking on the “Download’ link under “Finding Aid” on the right hand side of the screen.

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Finding aid created by David L. Innes (1989). Encoded by Julianna Trivers, Brett Lougheed (August 2002; edited July 2003). Revision History: July 26, 2005 - MSS 53, PC 75 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
Revised by N. Courrier (September 2019).

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