Memorable Manitobans: Douglas Leader Durkin (1884-1967)
Born at Parry Sound, Ontario on 9 July 1884, son of John J. Durkin and Margery M. Leader, around 1898 he came to the Swan River Valley of Manitoba with his family and lived for a time at the Minitonas Tent Town. He taught at West Favelle School (1901-1902) then, in 1902, enrolled at Wesley College and graduated in 1908. He returned to teaching at MacGregor School (1908-1909) then spent a year at Spokane, Washington as Secretary of the local YMCA. He returned to Manitoba and taught at Brandon College (1911-1915) and Wesley College (1915-?). He published a collection of poems entitled Canada’s Fighting Men in 1918.
On 29 December 1909, he married Estella M. Thomson at Winnipeg. He wrote The Heart of Cherry McBain (1920) and The Lobstick Trail (1921), both stories about life in Manitoba. In 1921, he moved to the United States, abandoning his wife and academic career. There, he wrote his best-known novel, The Magpie (1923), set in Winnipeg after the First World War. In 1946, he married author Martha Ostenso with whom he had collaborated in the novel Wild Geese, published in 1925 under her name alone. He had limited success during the remainder of his career.
His work was rediscovered after his death, which occurred at Seattle, Washington on 4 June 1967.
Ontario birth registration, Ancestry.
Lasting Impressions: Historical Sketches of the Swan River Valley, Swan Valley Historical Society, 1984, page 189-192.
We thank Nonni Jonsson for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 11 January 2015
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