Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: James Dickson McLean (1875-1972)

Hardware merchant, horticulturist.

Leaving Paisley, Ontario, James Dickson McLean came west with his parents in 1881 at the age of seven. J. D. grew up in Shoal Lake attending school there. He opened a tinsmith shop in the rapidly growing village in 1900 adding a hardware store shortly after. In 1906, he married Barbara Ross and built their lovely Queen Anne style house on South Chestnut Street. J. D. pursued his interest in landscaping and created an eye-catching display of plants and trees to highlight his new home. James and Barbara had one daughter, Christine, born in 1920.

Much of the landscaping around Shoal Lake can be attributed to McLean. Trees, shrubs and flowers were J. D.’s passion, anything that had to do with horticulture sparked his interest. McLean sold his hardware to O. C. Snyder in 1921 and became an agent for Patmore Nursery in Brandon. As their representative, J. D. created award-winning Patmore Nursery exhibits at the Brandon Fair.

In 1928, he planted the spruce grove at the north end of the lake. He chose special trees that could withstand the prevailing northwesterlies that swept across the lake. Although past maturity now, the spruce grove has been the subject of many tourist photographs for its luxurious green against the blue lake water. At the Lakeview Park official opening in August 1967, J. D. had the honour of unveiling the cairn that still overlooks the park and his grove of spruce trees.

Predeceased by both his wife in 1962 and his daughter in 1968, J. D. McLean lived to be 97 years old. He passed away in 1972 but his legacy to Shoal Lake continues to wave in the prairie breezes.


Ripples On The Lake, volume 1.

This page was prepared by Reid Dickie.

Page revised: 22 February 2016

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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