Memorable Manitobans: Daniel Emes Sprague (1848-1924)
Born at Keswick, York County, Ontario on 1 December 1848, son of Daniel Sprague and Charlotte 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.
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 Hedley Phippen, J. H. Anderson, R. M. McLeod, William Blackwood, W. O. Edmounds, and Gustavus Adolphus 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 Masons. On 20 June 1879, he married Alice Wilhelmina Hawkins at Hamilton, Wentworth County, Ontario and they had a son, Harold Champion Hawkins Sprague (1880-1948). The family lived at 76 Edmonton Street in Winnipeg. 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 John Donald Cameron.
During the First World War, he enlisted as a Captain with the 190th Battalion in March 1916 and was made an Honourary Major and Quartermaster for the Battalion. In January 1917, by then a Major, he transferred to an Independent Forestry Commpany and sailed for England in May of that year. He was posted to and commanded several Canadian Forestry Corps betwen then and demobilization in July 1919. For his service, he was decorated with the Order of the British Empire (1919)
He died at Ottawa, Ontario on 2 July 1924 and was buried in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery.
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]
1901 Canada census, Library and Archives Canada.
Ontario Marriage Registrations, Ancestry.
Attestation papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.
“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.
We thank Nathan Kramer for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 2 December 2020