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Memorable Manitobans: John Andrew Davidson (1852-1903)

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John A. Davidson
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Merchant, MLA (1879-1883), MLA (1883-1886), MLA (1892-1895), MLA (1900-1903), MLA (1903-1907), sportsman.

Born in Thamesford, Ontario on 19 August 1852, son of Isaac and Chrystann Davidson, brother of James Henry Davidson, he came to Manitoba in 1871 and settled in Gladstone as a general merchant, where he lived for ten years. He was secretary of the Palestine Baseball Club. He later moved to Beautiful Plains, where in partnership with Jonathan Joseph Hamilton he established the town of Neepawa, building a store, hotel, flour mill, and blacksmith shop to start it in business. They later added a real estate agency. Davidson was an early Mayor of Neepawa and was President of Neepawa Mining as well as the Register Printing Company. He also helped establish the Neepawa Curling Club. In 1878, he married Sophia Ellen, daughter of Josiah Hamilton of Beautiful Plains, and they had five children.

He was elected to the Manitoba Legislature as a Conservative from Dauphin in 1881 and re-elected in 1883. He was defeated in the Beautiful Plains riding in 1886 and 1887 but won it by a slender margin in 1892. Two years later, his seat was voided, he was defeated in a by-election by John Forsyth, and was defeated again in 1896 and 1899 general elections. In January 1900, despite not sitting in the Assembly, he became a member of the Macdonald administration as Provincial Treasurer and Minister of Agriculture and Immigration. He was elected to the Legislature on 10 March of that year in a by-election, replacing Robert Crosby Ennis. He became Provincial Treasurer in the Roblin administration on 29 October 1900, which office he held until his death on 14 November 1903. A special train ran to Neepawa from Winnipeg for his funeral, conducted with full Masonic ritual.

He is commemorated by Davidson Street in Winnipeg.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Davidson House (344 Main Street East, Neepawa)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: La Riviere Brickyard (La Riviere, RM of Pembina)

John Andrew Davidson, Dictionary of Canadian Biography XIII, 242-44.


Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by J. M. Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 11 January 2015

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