Mayor Murphy sitting for a black and white photogrpah, he is wearing a suit and has a moustacheJames Murphy, born in Iowa, moved to Winnipeg in 1882, and was employed by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Fuel Department. He then moved to Port Arthur at the age of 21 to work for the newly incorporated Dominion Coal, Coke and Transportation Co. It did not take long for Murphy to become foreman of the company, and in 1886, he was contractor for all the company’s coal. When the CPR moved their coal handling operations to Fort William, Murphy went with them and was in charge of running their coal dock on the Kaministiquia River until August 1903, when he opened his own coal-handling dock and yard. Murphy later established the Western Navigation Co. Ltd. in partnership with his brother Harry Murphy, was president of the Western Stevedore Company, supplied tug boats, and was involved in real estate.

Murphy embarked upon his political career in 1898, when he was made Commissioner of Electric Light and Water. In August 1905, after the resignation of two Aldermen, Murphy and George Graham were elected to Council in a by-election. In 1907, Murphy was elected Mayor and when Fort William was incorporated that same year, he had the honour of being the first Mayor of the City of Fort William. He was re-elected in 1908 and served a second term.

During his Mayoralty, Fort William saw the construction of its first high school on Marks Street, the establishment of the first Police Commission in 1907, the opening of the Loch Lomond Tunnel, and the start of major sewer construction. Both his brother Harry and his son Eugene also served as Mayor of Fort William.


Born: August 15, 1863, in West Liberty, Muscatine County, Iowa

Died: June 15, 1928, in Fort William Ontario at the age of 65

Councillor: 1905 (September - December), 1906

Mayor: 1907-1908


Previous Mayor: Mayor Edward Saunders Rutledge

Next Mayor: Mayor Louis Lawrence Peltier


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