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Memorable Manitobans: Daniel Emes Sprague (1848-1924)

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Daniel Emes Sprague
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Lumber merchant.

Born at Keswick, York County, Ontario on 1 December 1848, son of Daniel Sprague, he came to Manitoba in 1872 and entered in the lumber business with W. J. Macaulay. The partnership lasted for four years. From 1877 to 1881 he was connected with the firm of Stobart, Eden and Company and, in 1882, he erected a mill under the firm name of Sprague Lumber Company. It was incorporated in 1903 with himself as president and manager, his son Harold Champion Hawkins Sprague (?-1942) as vice-president and assistant manager, D. Boyce Sprague as treasurer, and J. D. Sinclair as secretary.

Lumbering as an industry commenced in Manitoba about the year 1872. Previous to that time the modest requirements of the settlers were supplied by means of the whipsaw or the most primitive kind of saw mill. The first introduction of what may be regarded as a modern saw mill was erected in 1872 by Macaulay & Sprague, on the banks of the Red River between Notre Dame and Lombard Streets; a small portable mill was built the same year by Dick & Banning in the same vicinity. At this time only a few million feet of lumber was manufactured here, the logs coming from the Roseau and Red Lake Rivers. The bulk of the lumber which was required in what was considered the extraordinary development of Winnipeg came down the Red River by flatboat or raft from Moorhead, to which point it had been shipped from Anoka, Minneapolis, Duluth and other American lumbering districts. Subsequently mills were built by D. E. Sprague, who had retired from the Macaulay & Sprague Company, Hugh Sutherland & Bros., Jarvis & Burridge and Clarke & Sutherland.

In May 1906 he was on the founding Board of Directors for the Happyland Park Company, along with Frank H. Phippen, J. H. Anderson, R. M. McLeod, William Blackwood, W. O. Edmounds, and G. A. Kobold. The firm operated an amusement park in Winnipeg for several years. He was also a director of the Winnipeg Industrial Exhibition Company, the Pacific Coast Lumber Company (Vancouver), and the Winnipeg General Hospital. He was a member of the Manitoba Club, Carleton Club, St. Charles Country Club, Adanac Club, Hunt Club, and the Masons. In 1879 he married Alice Hawkins of Connecticut. He was a candidate for the Winnipeg South constituency in an 1892 provincial by-election and the 1892 provincial general election but was defeated each time by J. D. Cameron.

He died at Ottawa, Ontario on 2 July 1924 and was buried in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery. He is commemorated by Sprague Street in Winnipeg.


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Manitoba As I Saw It: 1869 to Date, With Flash-Lights on the First Riel Rebellion

This book contains biographies ofsome prominent Manitobans in the early 20th century. It was written by Dr. John H. O’Donnell, and published by the Musson Book Company at Toronto in 1909. Most of those featured in the book were living at that time, so no information on death dates was provided. Where possible, these have been added to this online version.

Online version 2008, Manitoba Historical Society.

A History of Manitoba: Its Resources and People by Prof. George Bryce, Toronto: The Canadian History Company, 1906.

The Leading Financial, Business & Professional Men of Winnipeg, published by Edwin McCormick, Photographs by T. J. Leatherdale, Compiled and printed by Stone Limited, c1913. [copy available at the Archives of Manitoba]

“D. E. Sprague to be buried here,” Winnipeg Tribune, 4 July 1924, page 1.

“Sprague funeral today,” Winnipeg Free Press, 7 July 1924, page 8.

“Happyland Park the talk of the town in 1906,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 June 1974.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 9 December 2018

Memorable Manitobans

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