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Manitoba History No. 89

No. 89

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Memorable Manitobans: David Merritt Duncan (1870-1951)

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David Merritt Duncan
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Educator, author.

Born at Chicago, Illinois on 7 January 1870, son of cleric James Burns Duncan and Annie Borthwick, he attended Galt Collegiate Institute, the University of Toronto, and the School of Pedagogy, teaching for a few months at Upper Canada College and Mrs. Neville’s Boarding School at Toronto. In 1895 he was appointed a master of classics at the Winnipeg Collegiate Institute, occupying the position until 1908 when he was appointed registrar of the University of Manitoba.

He left the position to teach at La Verendrye School. In December 1911 he was appointed Principal of the new Kelvin High School and, in September 1912, he was made Assistant Superintendent of Schools at Winnipeg, becoming Superintendent in 1929 after the retirement of D. McIntyre, and serving until 1935. He served as President of the Manitoba Educational Association (1913-1914). He wrote Prairie Provinces: A Short History of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta (1908), Story of the Canadian People (1909), and a chapter on the prairie provinces in Canada and Its Provinces (1914).

On 23 December 1897, he married Jessie Winter Macvicar (1874-1930), daughter of George D. McVicar, at Winnipeg. They had two daughters: Jean Duncan (1899-?) and Mary Duncan (1909-?). After his wife's death, he married Norah Evelyn Matheson (1891-1984), daughter of Archbishop Matheson, on 15 August 1931. He was President of the Amateur Lacrosse Association of Winnipeg. His recreations included canoeing and tennis. He was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Manitoba (1929) and was inducted into the Order of the British Empire (1935).

He died at his Winnipeg home, 34 Kingston Row, on 20 March 1951 and was buried in the St. Vital Cemetery.


Birth and marriage registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Important appointment,” Manitoba Free Press 28 December 1911, page 2. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B5]

The Story of Manitoba by F. H. Schofield, Winnipeg: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1913.

“Duncan funeral to be Thursday,” Winnipeg Free Press, 21 March 1951, page 36.

The History of the Manitoba Educational Association by Ernest Butterworth, MEd thesis, Faculty of Graduate Study and Research, University of Manitoba, 1965.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 8 July 2018

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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

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