Manitoba Historical Society
     Keeping history alive for over 143 years

Memorable Manitobans: Douglas Leader Durkin (1884-1967)

Click to enlarge

Douglas Leader Durkin
Click to enlarge

Author, educator.

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.

See also:

Introduction by Peter Rider in: Douglas Durkin, The Magpie (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974).


Ontario birth registration, Ancestry.

The Development of Education in Swan River Valley by J. N. R. Clark, MEd thesis, Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba, 1949, page 155.

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: 20 February 2019

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

Search the collection by word or phrase, name, place, occupation or other text:

Custom Search

Browse surnames beginning with:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Send corrections and additions to this page
to the Memorable Manitobans Administrator at

Criteria for Memorable Manitobans | Suggest a Memorable Manitoban | Firsts | Acknowledgements

Help us keep
history alive!

MHS YouTube Channel

Back to top of page

For queries on the above page, please contact the MHS Webmaster.

Home  |  Terms & Conditions  |  FAQ  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy  |  Donations

© 1998-2022 Manitoba Historical Society. All rights reserved.