William John “Billy” O’Connor (1837-1910)
Born in Dublin, Ireland on 29 August 1837, he ran away to Boston as a boy, eventually becoming part owner of the Boston Hotel.
In ill health, he moved to St. Paul in 1876, where he was recruited by Edward Roberts, owner of the Grand Central Hotel in Winnipeg, to be its first manager. He later opened the Merchants Hotel but experience financial difficulties when the boom collapsed in 1882. Later he opened a succession of Winnipeg hotels, finally leasing and remodeling the old Bodega Hotel (renamed the O’Connor). In 1905, he opened the Corona Hotel.
He married Mary Jane Ivers (c1858-1943) and they had one child: William John O’Connor (1892-1943).
He was called “the dean of hotel men in Winnipeg”. He was a member of the IOOF, the Elks, and the Catholic Order of Foresters, and was president of the local chapter of the Eagles (as well as president of the Hotel Men’s Association of Winnipeg) at the time of his death. O’Connor was also president of the Fort Garry Turf Club and active in the Winnipeg Driving Club and the Buffalo Park Driving Club. In addition, he was a dog fancier.
He died at his summer home at Winnipeg Beach on 06 July 1910 and was buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
- Reprinted with permission from the Manitoba Historical Society and updated.
- Death Registration, Washington, USA.
- Obituary [Mary J O’Connor], Winnipeg Tribune, 03 December 1943, page 19.
- Obituary [William John O’Connor], Winnipeg Tribune, 04 November 1943, page 4.
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