Legislative Assembly of Alberta
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HOMEVISITOR

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The Honourable Sir Francis G. Johnson, 1872

The Honourable Sir Francis G. Johnson was the only man to be appointed, but not invested, as Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. His appointment was cancelled before he took the oath of office.

Francis Godschall Johnson was born on January 1, 1819, at Oakley House, Bedfordshire, England. He was the son of Godschall Johnson, an officer of the Tenth Royal Hussars, and his mother was Lucy Bisshopp.

He was educated at St. Omer, France, and Bruges, Belgium, and came to Lower Canada (Quebec) when his father moved to Quebec City in 1834. He continued his education at that location, studied law, and was called to the Lower Canada Bar in 1848.

In 1840, he married Mary Gates Jones of Montreal. Following her death in 1853, he married Mary Mills of Somerset, England, in 1857. There were three children from each marriage.

Francis G. Johnson's association with western Canada began in 1854 when he was appointed Recorder of Rupert's Land. From June to November, 1855, he served as Deputy Governor of Assiniboia in the absence of Governor William B. Caldwell. Then in November of the same year, he himself was appointed Governor of Assiniboia, a position he held for the next four years.

From 1858 to 1865, he practised law in Montreal. Francis G. Johnson was then appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Montreal in 1865 and from 1870 to 1872, he also served as a Special Commissioner assisting in the organization of the new Province of Manitoba.

On the advice of Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, Francis G. Johnson was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories effective April 9, 1872. This appointment was made by Lord Lisgar, Governor General of Canada. However, the matter of appointing someone Lieutenant Governor who did not intend to relinquish his position as a judge in the Province of Quebec became a political issue in the House of Commons. Consequently, his appointment was cancelled before he took the oath of office.

Francis G. Johnson was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1848 and Chief Justice of the Superior Court of the Province of Quebec in 1889. He was knighted the following year.

He died on May 27, 1894, at Montreal, Quebec, and was buried in the Mount Royal Cemetery in that city.

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