Over the course of the next year, I will be delving into the mayoral history of Canada’s major cities. Since I live in Regina, I naturally chose the Queen’s City as the first city to be featured. Each of these posts will be long ones, but full of history related to the people who helped lead cities through the centuries.
David Lynch Scott (1884 – 1885)
Born on Aug. 21, 1845, in Brampton, Ontario David Lynch Scott had the honour of being the first man to ever take on the mayoral reins of Regina. Scott studied at Osgoode Hall and was called to the Ontario Bar at the age of 25 in 1870. Prior to becoming a lawyer, he served with the 36th (Peel) Battalion of Infantry during the Fenian Invasions of 1866. He would remain in the military until 1879, by which time he had become a Lt. Colonel. In his last year as a Lt. Col., he was able to ramp up recruiting in the 36th, helping bring in many able-bodied young men according to one report. From 1870 to 1882 he would practice law in Brampton and Orangeville before making the move to Regina in 1882. During his time in Ontario, he served as mayor of Orangeville from 1879 to 1880. One year later, he married Mary McVittie of Barrie, Ontario.
It was in Regina that Scott would make a major name for himself. Serving as a lawyer in Regina, he would act as junior counsel for the crown in the prosecution of Louis Riel, as well as Big Bear and Poundmaker after the North-West Rebellion in 1885.
Not only did Scott have the distinction of being the very first mayor of Regina, but he also organized the Regina Blazers on March 25, 1885 from the Regina Volunteer Corps. Many leading citizens in the community belonged the the unit, which had great rifles but no ammunition or uniforms. They would drill every day a from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and stand guard on Broad Street. Scot served as the first and only commanding officer of the unit until the unit was disbanded in 1886.
Named to the Queen’s Counsel that same year, he was the first person admitted as an advocate of the Northwest Territories. In 1894, he became a justice of the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories, based out of Calgary. In 1907, he became a member of the Supreme Court of Alberta.
When the role of Chief Justice came up following the resignation of Arthur Sifton, Scott had hoped he would become his replacement but he was passed over. As a result, he became a non-existent member of the bench for the next 10 years. Finally, on Sept. 15, 1921, he became Chief Justice of Alberta.
In 1924, he was awarded a Doctor of Laws from the University of Alberta. That same year, he died at his summer cottage in Cooking Lake, Alberta.
Daniel Mowat (1886 – 1887)
Daniel Mowat is in the back row, fifth from the right.
Born on May 9, 1848 in Ottawa, he was the son of a Scottish immigrant named Alex Mowat. In 1871, he would marry Amelia Hoy and become a member of the Ottawa public school board soon after. In 1880, he traveled to the Northwest Territories and has the distinction of opening the first store in the history of Regina. In the store, a young man named James Grassick worked as a clerk and then became a foreman, but we will get to more about Grassick later. The store was at first only a tent, where goods were sold from by Mowat and his brother. It did not take long for the business to begin thriving.
In 1885, he signed a petition, along with many other prominent Regina citizens urging that no leniency be shown to Louis Riel, and asking that he be hanged for treason.
Serving on council under David Lynch Scott, he would move into the mayor’s chair in 1886 and remain there for one year.
Mayor was not the only way that Mowat followed Scott. He also served as his second-in-command of the Regina Blazers.
After his time as mayor, he would go on to serve as the Conservative member of the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly from 1891 to 1898. During his time in the Legislature, he proposed that English should be the only language taught in schools in the territory. Eventually, a compromise was reached with French being taught as a course.
He passed away on Oct. 22, 1923.
W. Cayley Hamilton (1888)
It is unknown when Hamilton was born, but he worked as a barrister before he became a politician. He arrived in Regina in 1882 to work at the law practice of David Lynch Scott. He would serve on town council from 1886 to 1887 and then begin serving as mayor of Regina for the year of 1888.
Serving as a Crown prosecutor in Regina, he handled many cases including one on May 19, 1892 that involving Margaret Favel who was charged with stealing four silver spoons and forks, a neck tie, two yards of creton, one pillow case and a cap. In the end she pleaded guilty to stealing one spoon and received a suspended sentence from Hamilton.
He would found The Law Society of the Northwest Territories and serve as its first president in 1898.
Cayley passed away in 1891.
Jacob W. Smith (1889, 1902 – 1903, 1907 – 1908)
Born on Nov. 25, 1851 in Carleton County, Ontario, he moved with his family to the west only one year later. While growing up, he learned how to be a metal worker and would marry Mary Jane Bole in 1875. A few years later in 1883, he came to Regina and opened a store and began operating a hardware, plumbing and sheet metal business with a partner. He operated his business on South Railroad Street.
After arriving in Regina, he would serve as mayor for one year in 1889, and then again a decade later from 1902 to 1903. A few years later, he was once again in the mayor’s chair in 1907 to 1908.
During his time as mayor, Smith was heavily active in Regina, especially when it came to curling. He was the first secretary of the Regina Curling Club in 1906 and was a frequent winner of the Winnipeg annual bonspiel in the 1890s. In 1893, he skipped a rink that captured the bonspiel’s Galt Trophy. He would win three of the trophies in all. He would also win the Patterson Cup in 1897 and 1898. On interesting fact is that his photo was the first to ever appear in a Regina newspaper. After winning the 1896 Winnipeg Bonspiel, his picture and that of his teammates appeared on the front page of the Jan. 14, 1897 issue of the Regina Leader using the new coarse-screened tone process.
Every morning at the Regina Curling Rink, he would be the first person to the rink to write his name on the blackboard to ensure that he would be the one curling in the first game of the day.
In 1913, he would sell his business and begin working as a coal merchant.
In addition to serving as mayor of Regina, he also served on the school board for five years and was a justice of the peace.
One distinction Smith has as mayor is that he was a mayor when Regina was officially incorporated as a city in 1903. This technically makes him the first mayor of the City of Regina. During his time as mayor, he also purchased the privately-owned power plant and he developed a plan to bring in water from Boggy Creek for Regina.
He would pass away in 1926. While it isn’t confirmed, it is likely that Smith Street is named for him in Regina.
James A. McCaul (1890)
Living in Regina and running a lumber and coal business, McCaul would become mayor in 1890 and serve only that year. Prior to the incorporation of Regina, he would serve as a commissioner to look after the public interests of the young community. When the group became the Citizens’ Committee in 1883, he once again served on it.
In addition to serving as mayor, he was also the first president of the Regina Chamber of Commerce when it was established in 1886.
At the annual meeting of the Indian Head Curling Club on April 6, 1904, McCaul was appointed as a representative to help create a branch of the Royal Calendonian Curling Club in the Territories that would be independent of the Manitoba Branch. He presented the idea to Regina curlers who very much agreed with it, and this helped to form the Assiniboia Branch of the Royal Calendonian Curling Club. It would holds its first bonspiel in Regina one year later. In 1905, McCaul would then serve as the second-vice president of the new branch, which had just been established. In 1905-06, he served as president of the Saskatchewan branch of the club.
McCaul Crescent in Regina is named for him.
Richard Henry Williams (1891 – 1892, 1909 – 1910)
Born on June 13, 1852 in Toronto, Richard Williams would complete his education soon after losing his mother at the age of six. He would begin working on his family farm when he was 15 and would eventually start to work at a lumber mill. In 1874, he married Mary Reid and in 1881 they went west to Fort Garry. He never returned to Ontario and one year later, they moved to Regina where Williams started up a construction business. Starting out with just a cart and red ox, he would sell lemonade to people from the tail board of his ox cart for 25 cents per glass. Soon, he had $43 and used that to start up his business in Regina. According to written records, his wife was the second Caucasian woman to live in Regina. Richard was also the first person to build a ferry across Wascana Creek, charging 25 cents per foot passenger and 50 cents per wagon. He also sold water he hauled from the creek for one dollar a barrel. With his success, he built a home at 1827 Rose Street and built the first Regina Hotel. Committed to helping Regina grow, he also built sidewalks along the main streets of the city. In 1888, he established Glasgow House, which would be a popular department store for 60 years. One decade later in 1891, he would open a lumber supply mill. Beginning that same year, he would serve in his first term as mayor. He would once again serve as mayor from 1909 to 1910. In 1915, he began serving on the Regina General Hospital Board and remained on the board until 1921. He also served as a member of the school board. Both a street and a crescent have been named for Williams. He passed away in 1924.
Dr. John Henry Charles Willoughby (1893)
Born on July 3, 1861 in Coubourg, Ontario, Willoughby was educated at the Upper Canada College, before attending Victoria University and the Toronto Medical College.
He travelled west to practice medicine in Saskatoon and then Regina. Shortly after arriving in Regina, he began helping the sick people of the community. In 1892, he tended to people during a typhoid epidemic also worked as a farmer and even served during the North-West Rebellion. During the rebellion, he served as the Purveyor General in the Field Hospital Corps. At one point, it was reported that Dr. Willoughby was traveling with a Metis friend and had dinner with Riel and had a long conversation with him about leading a good life and what that meant. At that time Riel said he would strike a blow against the government for his people. During Riel’s trial, Dr. Willoughby was the first witness to give evidence of Riel’s plans for the capture of the North-West.
For a time, he served as the editor of the Saskatoon Phoenix, and served as a school trustee. In Regina, he served on council from 1891 to 1892, as mayor in 1893, and then on council again from 1894 to 1895.
Moving to Saskatoon in 1897, he would then serve on their council from 1903 to 1904 and from 1907 to 1908. He was also president of the Saskatoon Board of Trade.
Willoughby died in 1940.
Robert Martin (1894, 1913 – 1914)
Born on Jan. 14, 1858, Robert Martin grew up in Mount Forest, Ontario and began working as a clerk in a local pharmacy. Developing an interest in it, he got a degree in pharmacy in 1876 and came to Regina six years later. Working in a local drug store until 1888, he went into business for himself and helped to establish the North West Territories Pharmaceutical Association, and served as its first examiner and later its president. He would then help to form the Canadian Pharmaceutical Association in 1907 and serve as its president.
In 1908, he helped with the formation of the Saskatchewan Music Festival Association. He would help to organize the first festival in Regina, which happened on May 24, 25 and 26, 1909.
He would serve on council for the first time as mayor in 1894, and then again from 1913 to 1914. He also served nine years on council outside of being mayor.
He passed away sometime after 1924.
George T. Marsh (1895)
An employee of the Land Corporation of Canada, Marsh served as town councillor from 1891 to 1893. He also served as a member of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories. Marsh Crescent is named for him.
William Franklin Eddy (1896 – 1897)
William Eddy sits in the middle.
Born on Aug. 9, 1852 in Newcastle, Ontario, he would be educated in the community and go on to attend Albert College in nearby Belleville. Apprenticing as a mason and a builder, he would build a number of churches throughout Ontario before moving to Regina in 1882. Working with George Rice, he built several buildings in the community before going back to Newcastle to build a church in 1886. In 1890, he once again returned to Regina and built a number of buildings and houses. He would also build the Eddy Block in 1890, which was the first home of the YMCA.
He continued working in construction until 1905 when he officially retired. That being said, he built Eddy Apartments in 1911 and lived there later in his life.
He would serve as mayor of the community from 1896 to 1897 and was a town councillor in 1895.
He would pass away on Aug. 3, 1930.
Francis Nicholson Darke (1898)
Born on Oct. 25, 1863 in Prince Edward Island, he worked his family farm until he was in his late-20s. It was at that point he decided he wanted to move out to Western Canada. In 1891, he came to Regina and settled down in the community.
Working with Pople Balderson, a man also from Prince Edward Island, he raised livestock on a farm near the community. The two partners would then buy a butcher’s shop in the community and began supplying food to the Residential School system and the North West Mounted Police. He also built the first office building on the corner of Cornwall Street and 11th Avenue, which he did in 1906.
Taking his money, he then put the money into buying land in the town from the CPR. The money proved more than enough for him and he was able to sell his cattle business and he focused on buying land.
In 1895, he was elected to council and he would serve as mayor in 1898. At the time, he was only 35-years-old and remains the youngest person ever elected as mayor in Regina.
In 1910, he donated $85,000 of his own money, and raised another $40,000, to establish Regina College. This College would eventually become the University of Regina. He also helped to build Darke Hall for Music and Art through donating money.
In building a home for his wife and himself, he wanted to make sure it was tornado-proof. He constructed his house at 2210 College Avenue, which took two years to build. After surviving the Regina Cyclone in 1912, his wife wanted the house to be safe from tornadoes. The home, which became the Helmsing Funeral Chapel, is estimated to have cost $86,000 to build and for many years was known as the best built home in the city.
In 1925, he was elected as a Liberal MP to the House of Commons but resigned his seat one year later to allow Charles Avery Dunning, premier of Saskatchewan, to enter Parliament in a by-election. He also served on the Board of Governors for the Saskatchewan Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Fort Qu’Appelle, and on the library board in 1927.
He passed away on July 17, 1940. Several places including Dark Hall, Darke Crescent, Darke Street and Darke Park are all named for him. The Darke Mausoleum, while a target for vandals, is one of the most prominent features of the Regina cemetery.
John K. McInnis (1899)
The last Regina mayor of the 19th century, John McInnis was born on April 29, 1854 on Prince Edward Island. In 1874, he married Hanna Carr and became a principle at a series of schools in Manitoba. In 1891, he made the journey to Regina and began working as the editor of the Regina Journal, which would become the Regina Standard. Heavily investing in farm and city real estate, he was able to make a great deal of money as a result.
Serving on town council from 1896 to 1898, and as mayor in 1899, he would return to council to serve from 1915 to 1917 and from 1919 to 1922.
After running, unsuccessfully, for a seat in the House of Commons in 1896 and 1908. He campaigned for the Patrons of Industry Party, stating that “I am a farmer. I have a farm. Stable manure is on my pants at time and I have hay seed on my hat.” He would retire from journalism in 1913 to become a farmer. His farm is located where the Co-op Refinery Complex is now found.
He also served as a member of the Regina General Hospital board of governors. He served on council for roughly eight years outside of being mayor, including just before he died.
He passed away on Oct. 21, 1923. McInnis Crescent is named for him.
William Mollard (1900 – 1901)
Born on May 5, 1855 in Aurora, Ontario, he worked as a carpenter before making the trip out west to Winnipeg and eventually Regina in 1882. He began working on several buildings in the area and entered into a partnership with Charles Willoughby, another mayor, from 1894 to 1906. In 1889, he married Margaret Stewart and began working as the federal inspector of public works in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
From 1898 to 1899 he served on council and was mayor from 1900 to 1901. In addition to working with council, he served on the school board and was chairman for a time.
Mollard Crescent is named for him.
Harry (Henry) W. Laird (1904 – 1905)
Laird surveys the damage in his backyard from the Regina Cyclone in 1912.
Born on Jan. 4, 1868 in Port Dover, Ontario, Harry Laird began working as a journalist after graduating from the University of Toronto. Working as a journalist in Ontario for a decade, he served four years as a correspondent in the Ontario Legislature, and some time in the House of Commons. Going west to the gold rush in British Columbia in 1900, he would move east to Regina one year later to begin work as private secretary to Frederick Haultain, the first premier of the North West Territories. After leaving the position, he began a wholesale business, the first such business in Regina. From 1904 to 1905, he was mayor of Regina. In his first race as mayor, he beat J.E. Bole by only four votes. As mayor, he had the honour of turning on the city’s first waterworks on Jan. 3, 1905. He also served as mayor when Saskatchewan became a province in 1905, with Regina as its capital. Also in 1905, he ran for a seat in the Legislature but was unsuccessful both that year and in 1908. During the First World War, he served as a Lt.-Colonel and commanded the 3rd Divisional Train in France. In 1920, he established the Equitable Life and Accident Insurance Company, serving as its vice-president. He was also appointed to the Senate by Sir Robert Borden and held the position from 1917 to 1940. He died in his office at the age of 72 in 1940.
Peter G. McAra Jr (1906, 1911 – 1912)
McAra is in middle row, in the middle.
Born in Calcutta, India in 1862, he remained in the country until he was seven and the family moved back to Scotland and remained there for several years. In 1882, with the country suffering from a deep depression, the family moved all the way to Sifton, Saskatchewan. While there, they grew worried about the Cree First Nations people in the area during the Red River Rebellion. With everyone meeting at Peter’s home, they decided to erect palisades and dug rifle pits. For years afterward, they called his homestead Fort McAra.
In 1896, McAra opened up a fire insurance office in Regina and by 1904 he was on council as an alderman and the Chairman of Finance.
In 1906, he was elected as mayor and had the honour of laying down the first cornerstone of the first city hall for Regina. He would become mayor again in 1911 and remain so until 1912. During that time, he would see one of the darkest days in Regina’s history when the Regina Cyclone struck on June 30, 1912.
Peter’s brother, James, also served as the quartermaster of the 95th Rifle Regiment.
Speaking of his time as mayor, McAra said this:
“While I was mayor in 1906, I sponsored this system which is unique on this continent. We established a wholesale district and laid trackage and ground facilities to accommodate any wholesaler who wished to establish himself. This arrangement brought Regina into prominence as a great distributing center and almost every agricultural implement concern doing business in the west had a branch there.”
During his time in Regina, he would serve as president of the Regina Board of Trade, the Associated Boards of Trade of Saskatchewan and Alberta, and spent 12 years as chairman of the Regina Collegiate Institute.
In 1942, seven years before his death, he published his book Sixty-Two Years On The Saskatchewan Prairies.
James Balfour (1915, 1931)
Born in Mount Forest, Ontario on Jan. 4, 1867, James Balfour came to Saskatchewan to teach school. In 1883, he moved to Calgary to begin working in the lumber industry, before coming to Regina in 1885. He would teach school in the community, and later in North Battleford, before choosing to start studying law. In 1892, he began his schooling and was called to the bar in 1895.
In 1911, he was named King’s Counsel and he served as a member of the Regina Hospital Board from 1902 to 1905. He was also town clerk for a time in Regina, and was the first city clerk in Regina’s history after it became a city.
For over 15 years, he served on the board of Regina Collegiate, and as the first president of the YMCA from 1907 to 1912.
He would serve as mayor of Regina in 1915 and 1931.
Balfour Collegiate is named for him, as is the Balfour Trophy, which is presented to the champion of the Saskatchewan Amateur Men’s Golf Champion.
He passed away in 1947.
Balfour Drive is named for him.
Walter Davy Cowan (1916 – 1917)
Born on New Years Eve of 1865, Walter Cowan would attend the University of Maryland as a young man and graduate with a degree in dentistry in 1888. One year later, he moved out to Regina and became one of the first dentists in the entire region. As such, he was instrumental in organizing not only the first dental association in Canada, but also the Dental College of the Territories. He served as the president of the college until 1913.
A keen lover of debate, he also organized a debating club in Regina in the late-1890s.
In 1890, he served on town council for one year, and one year later became the associate editor of the Dominion Dental Journal. He would help form the National Dental Association in 1904 and was the first president of the organization.
During part of the First World War, he served as commander of the Dental Corps, District No. 12 and was promoted to the rank of major.
In 1916, he was elected mayor and would serve as such until 1917 when he chose to run in the federal election. Elected and serving under Sir Robert Borden, he would not run for re-election in 1921.
In 1930, he was elected back into the House of Commons.
During this time, he also served as the provincial treasurer of the Saskatchewan chapter of the Klu Klux Klan.
He died in 1934.
Cowan Crescent is named for him.
Henry Black (1918 – 1919)
Born in Kemptville, Ontario in 1875, he began operating a store in Leonard, Ontario after he had finished with his education. In 1899, he moved to Kaslo, British Columbia to operate a shipping, lumber and coal business.
In 1903, he came to Regina and began working as a contractor and real estate investor. Benefiting from the construction boom, he built apartment blocks, farmer markets, schools and stores. In 1910, he married Jennie Barker and they would have five children together.
Operating a sugar business for a short time, he would serve five terms as a city councillor and was very active with both the Regina General Hospital Board and the Collegiate Board.
As mayor from 1918 to 1919, he had to deal with the deadly Spanish Flu when it struck the city. Banning all public gatherings, his policies helped to keep the flu at bay in the city. In 1919, he worked with the Regina labour leaders to not strike along with the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike.
In 1931, he became chair of the Saskatchewan Relief Commission that was created to deal with The Great Depression in the province. Under his leadership, the organization delivered relief to 305,000 people in the province. He would manage the relief operations of the province until 1934.
For his work, King George V made him a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
In 1937, he ran for mayor but lost.
He passed away in 1960.
Black Drive is named for him.
James Grassick (1920 – 1922, 1940 – 1941)
Born on March 2, 1868 in Fergus, Ontario, James Grassick moved with his parents to Manitoba at the age of ten. The family then made the move to Regina four years later. During the North West Rebellion, Grassick drove a transport wagon carrying army supplies.
As a young man, Grassick worked for a local delivery company before he established the Capital Ice Company. For 50 years, he would haul ice from Boggy Creek and Wascana Lake to sell to hotels and butcher shops.
In 1907, he became a director in the Regina Exhibition, a role he would hold for 25 years. He also served as its president for two years.
Also working as an agent for Imperial Oil from 1888 to 1909, he married Jessie Beattie in 1897 and would serve on town council from 1898 to 1910.
In edition, he was a volunteer fire department and was often cited as the first person to respond to the fire hall.
In 1920, he was elected as mayor and would serve until 1922. He was mayor once again from 1940 to 1941.
From 1927 to 1938, he served on the public school board, and was the chairman and director of the Boxing and Wrestling Commission for 33 years.
From 1929 to 1934, he was a member of the Saskatchewan Legislature.
In 1943, Grassick became the manager of the Regina Exhibition and was also present at the first ever church service at the Presbyterian church.
Extremely well-respected in the city, he was called Mr. Regina by locals and Chief Strongheart by the Plains Cree of the Qu’Appelle Valley for his devotion to their causes.
He passed away after being hit by a car at the age of 88 in 1956.
Two parks and a street are named for him in Regina, as is a lake in northern Saskatchewan.
Stuart Burton (1923 – 1924)
Born in Lindsay, Ontario, Burton began working for the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1892. In 1903, he was hired by Cameron and Heap, wholesale grocers, in Kenora, Ontario. In 1907, he was sent to their branch in Regina to act as manager. Two years later, he married Helen Pope, the first premier of Prince Edward Island.
In 1915, he was the president of the Regina Board of Trade.
From 1923 to 1924, he was mayor of Regina.
In 1929, he became manager of the Saskatchewan Co-operative Creameries and served as chairman of the Regina Hospital Board and on the first public library board in Regina.
William E. Mason (1925 – 1926)
Born in 1866 in Toronto, William Mason would come to Regina in 1905 to open up a branch of the Canada Permanent Mortgage Corporation.
When the Regina Cyclone hit in 1912, Mason was extremely active in the efforts to raise money for the reconstruction of the Metropolitan Methodist Church, as well as the YMCA.
In 1920, he retired from the job and began his own company, the W.E. Mason Discount Company. He would manage that company until his death.
He also served as the head of the Prudential Trust Company, and was the first magistrate of Regina.
He served as mayor from 1925 to 1926.
Also serving as a founder of Regina College, he would remain on the board of the school for 23 years.
A hunter and lover of animals, he lived at 3118 Albert Street and his house always had an assortment of chickens, pigeons, cows, ponies and horses.
Those who worked with him and served with him remembered him as a man who was extremely patient and was always calm when under stress.
He passed away in 1951.
Mason Avenue is named for him.
Cornelius Rink (1934 – 1935)
Born in 1871 in Hedel, Netherlands and moving to South Africa in 1891 to work as a clerk for the Netherlands-South African Railway Company, Rink would lead an interesting life. He fought against the British during the Second Boer War, and in 1902 he moved to the United States.
In 1907, he moved to Canada, a country he fought against during the Second Boer War, and began working at a real estate business.
From 1911 to 1914, he served on town council. He ran for mayor in 1914 but lost. During his campaign his slogan was “The mayor’s office door is so seldom open that the hinges are rusty.”
From 1920 to 1923, he would live in Vancouver. In 1923, he returned to Regina and began working as the manager of the Western Financial Agents and Regina Distributors Ltd.
Rink would serve on council in 1931 and run for mayor again in 1932 but lose to James McAra. Finally, he was elected mayor in 1934 and serve until 1935. He was the first non Anglo-Saxon mayor in Regina’s history.
Ironically, after he had fought against Queen Victoria in the Second Boer War, he would be awarded the Silver Jubilee Medal by King George V in 1935, while he served as mayor of Regina. He was also the only Boer to be a member of the Regina Branch of the Boer War Veteran’s Association.