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Memorable Manitobans: William D. Douglas (1835-1906)

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William D. Douglas
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Ship captain, hotelier.

Born at Armagh, Ireland on 4 August 1835, he emigrated to Canada with his parents in 1847 and settled at Ekfrid Township, Ontario. At the age of 14, he became a sailor aboard ships on the Great Lakes, going in 1856 to Panama from which he sailed on the South Pacific and South Atlantic oceans until 1866 when he took up residence at Buffalo, New York.

There he worked for 14 years with the Union Steamship Company, as a captain of ships plying between Buffalo and Chicago. He came to Winnipeg in 1881 and, the next year, opened the Douglas House (later known as Roblin House) on Adelaide Street. In 1884, he went into partnership with A. F. Wright as proprietors of the Leland Hotel, retiring in 1902 and selling the business to J. C. Kavanagh. At that time, he was appointed provincial hotel inspector.

He was a member of the Masons (Ancient Landmark Lodge) and Anglican church. He had one son, Alexander J. Douglas.

He died at Winnipeg on 21 January 1906 and was buried in St. John’s Cemetery.


Death registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Capt. Douglas summoned,” Manitoba Free Press, 22 January 1906, page 3.

We thank Alex Collins for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 9 October 2013

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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

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