Memorable Manitobans: William Hill Nash (1846-1917)
Soldier, lawyer, civil servant, MLA (1879-1883).
Born at London, Ontario on 15 March 1846, he first arrived in Manitoba in 1870. Serving as a 24 year old Ensign with No. 1 Company of the First Ontario Rifles in the Wolseley Expedition, he returned to London later the same year. Remaining in the militia he was promoted to Lieutenant of the 7th Battalion at London.
Returning to Manitoba in 1874, he settled at Emerson and became a large property holder. He set up a law practise and started to develop his property. He remained active in military matters and, in 1879, was appointed Captain in the Volunteer Militia of Manitoba. Thereafter he was often referred to in Emerson as “Captain Nash.”
His continuing involvement in military matters resulted in him organizing and taking command of two impressive sounding local militia units—the Emerson Infantry Company and the West Lynne Artillery Battery. In politics he was elected to the provincial legislature in 1879 and served until 1881. He resigned his seat to take up the position of Dominion Lands Registrar. He also served as Mayor of Emerson for three terms from 1882 to 1885. He was active in the Orange Lodge and served as Master of Lodge #1332. He was also secretary of the County of Provencher Lodge. He was a founding member of the Emerson Masonic Lodge.
He was married to Katherine Margaret Armstrong (1860-1891, daughter of Edward Armstrong) and they had five children: Claude Wearing Nash, Louise Nash (1882-?), Mabel Nash (1884-?), Henry Nash (1885-1917), and Charles Constantine Nash (1889-?).
In April 1885 he enlisted in the 91st Battalion and served as a company commander in the North West Rebellion. In May he was promoted to Major and returned to Emerson in June to a hero’s welcome. Poor health and his complicity in Emerson’s financial problems forced him to resign permanently from political and military life. He moved to Winnipeg in 1886 to take up a position in the Land Titles office there.
Manitoba Gazette, 2 January 1880.
Birth registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
Death registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“Wm. Nash passes away,” Manitoba Free Press, 27 April 1917, page 3.
“Major Nash, pioneer of Winnipeg, dies,” Winnipeg Tribune, 27 April 1917, page 4.
Members of the Legislative Assembly (deceased), Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.
We thank James McClelland, Stan Barclay, and Oliver Bernuetz (Legislative Library of Manitoba) for providing information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 13 April 2022