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Memorable Manitobans: Walter Reginald Nursey (1846-1927)

Journalist, librarian.

Born in England in 1846 and educated at Marlborough and Wilts, he served in the Royal Navy then was a civil servant in India before coming to Canada in 1864, intending to farm. He worked at a bank in Upper Canada [Ontario] for a time, then traded in the Rainy River district. He worked briefly for the Hudson’s Bay Company then accompanied Col. Dennis and Alexander Morris in aboriginal treaty negotiations in Western Canada. He was justice of the peace for the Keewatin District from 1875 to 1877, then served as Manitoba’s deputy minister of agriculture in 1878 and provincial auditor from 1879 to 1889.

During a 1877 smallpox epidemic at Gimli and Sandy Bar on Lake Winnipeg, he was appointed chief health officer of the infected district. He was a founding member of the Manitoba Historical Society (1879). A reporter for the Winnipeg Herald and the Winnipeg Times, he co-authored Ten Years in Winnipeg (1879) with Alexander Begg. He constantly tried to start new newspapers in Winnipeg, such as the Manitoba Merchant and Manitoba Celebrities. During the 1885 North West Rebellion, he served as a member of the Winnipeg Field Battery at Fish Creek and Batoche. In 1908 he published a biography of Isaac Brock. He was appointed inspector of Ontario libraries in 1910.

He died at Toronto on 14 March 1927.

More information:

Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B8, page 91, obituary for W. R. Nursey.


A Political Manual of the Province of Manitoba and the North-West Territories by J. P. Robertson, Winnipeg: Call Printing Company, 1887.

Ontario death registration, Ancestry.

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

“W. R. Nursey Was Prominent Here in Early Days” Manitoba Free Press, 4 February 1927 [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B8]

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 16 July 2010

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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