Biography of Barett, John K. (John Kelly), 1850-ca. 1921

Born in 1850, John Kelly Barrett was superintendent and inspector of separate schools in Ontario and a federal civil servant who held several posts with Inland Revenue, including that of inspector of weights and measures in Winnipeg. He was also the director and managing editor of the English-language Catholic publication The Northwest Review. Barrett was the Catholic ratepayer of Winnipeg who refused to pay the municipal tax for the support of the public schools of the city, alleging that, as a Roman Catholic, his constitutional rights, as outlined in section. 22 of the Manitoba Act, were being violated as a result of the Public Schools Act of 1890. The City of Winnipeg brought the case to court. With the support of the federal government, Barrett’s case went all the way to the Privy Council and ultimately resulted in a negotiated settlement between the federal and provincial governments known as the Laurier-Greenway compromise. Barrett died about 1921.

Mentioned in:


  1. "Cour Suprême du Canada dans l’affaire des règlements 480 et 482 de la cité de Winnipeg requête de John Kelly Barrett pour faire décider de la validité de l’acte des Écoles Publiques Du Manitoba de 1890" dans Documents concernant les Écoles séparées du Manitoba, Ottawa, 1891, extrait
  2. Document presenting the case being submitted to the Supreme Court of Canada with respect to the admissibility of an appeal in Barrett vs the City of Winnipeg, excerpt, E0136-E0137
Digital Resources on Manitoba History