Nicholas Davin and the Rise of Regina. ('as We Were')

Canadian Speeches, May-June 2003 | Go to article overview

Nicholas Davin and the Rise of Regina. ('as We Were')


Nicholas Flood Davin, the man who in 1883 established The Regina Leader(now The Leader-Post), was an adventuresome Irishman whose energetic life spanned a variety of careers: lawyer, journalist, publisher, politician, author, and poet.

From an affluent family in County Limerick, Davin was educated by private tutors, admitted to the English bar when he was 25, and two years later was a war correspondent for London Standard during the Franco-Prussian war. He came to Canada in 1872, working for two years for the Toronto Globe and then the Mail before establishing a law practice and running unsuccessfully for Parliament.

The Canadian Pacific Railway was still being built across Canada in hopscotch fashion when Davin and a party of other prominent Ontarians made a tour of what was then the North West Territories (now Saskatchewan and Alberta) on a private railway car, as guests of the CPR.

In a later interview with a reporter for The Chicago Tribune, Davin talked about how impressed he was with the potential of the new territory and its embryonic capital, where he felt he could make more money in five years than he could in Toronto in 10. Regina was then no more than a collection of "a dozen or more tents and shanties," but the price of town property was said to have jumped during a 10week period from $250 to a range of $450 to $1,000 per lot. At breakfast -- also in a tent -- Davin was impressed by "the gentlemanly bearing of the waiters," who turned out to be English aristocrats, nephews of a Duke who were employed by the nephew of an Earl who also owned a "hotel" at Brandon. They were among the first of the many English "remittance men," the disinherited second sons who sought their fortunes on the prairies, not al ways with

The territory, Davin told the Tribune, held great promise. …

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