Editor-in-Chief of the Manitoba/Winnipeg Free Press (1901 - 1944)
John Wesley Dafoe was chosen in the historical category, which focuses on those individuals who make their contributions to Winnipeg in the first half of the 20th century or before. Dafoe was the chief editor of the Manitoba Free Press from 1901 until his death in 1944. He brought international recognition to the newspaper and in doing so was very influential in making the case for western issues (e.g. low tariffs, low freight rates, immigration policy etc.) that were critical to Winnipeg’s future growth and prosperity. He was a member of the Rowell-Sirois Commission on Dominion-provincial relations and was appointed Chancellor of the University of Manitoba in 1934, a position he held until his death. The university has a J.W. Dafoe graduate fellowship of $15,000 per year and it is open to students in the Departments of Political Studies, Economics or History.
In a review of his accomplishments, it states that while Dafoe never held elected office, he was one of the most influential political figures in Canada in the first half of the twentieth century.
Dafoe had an understanding of what it meant to be Canadian that sometimes alienated him from other social elites, and he was sometimes called anti-British. He saw Canada as a Dominion rather than a British colony, and he supported the creation of the Commonwealth.