Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: John Daniel “Dan” Sprague (1908-1996)


Born at Winnipeg on 16 September 1908, he trained as a chartered accountant and became an active businessman in the Winnipeg area. He articled to Black, Hanson and Company in 1926 before receiving his degree in chartered accountancy in 1932 at the University of Manitoba. He later took courses in business administration at Columbia University in the summer of 1935. After his 1932 graduation, he became the senior auditor in the firm of Millar, Macdonald, a position he occupied until establishing the firm Laird, Sprague and Company with Gilbert Laird in 1938. Laird and Sprague joined with McDonald Currie and Company in 1956 and eventually with Coopers Lybrand. He also lectured to accountancy students at the University of Manitoba for six years beginning in 1938. During the Second World War, he acted as supervisory cost accountant to the department of munitions and supply (1941-1945). He retired from the accounting profession in 1958.

Sprague worked with other Winnipeg businessmen and invested in such local firms as Stovel Advocate Press, Selkirk Metal Products, Columbia Metal Products, and James B. Carter, an auto parts manufacturer. After Budd Automative bought Carter in 1971, he retired from business management. The organizations with which he was associated included the Bank of Canada, Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, Chamber of Commerce, and Canadian Manufacturers Association, which he served as President (1972-1973). He was also elected Chairman of the Industrial Development Board in spring 1948.

Sprague was active in the Conservative Party, and a member of the Manitoba Club (1935-1940) and the Kinsmen Club. A gifted athlete, he was a member of the St. Charles Country Club in Winnipeg and the Royal Poinciana Golf Club in Naples, Florida where he spent many winters. He and his wife Shirley Helen Stewart, daughter of James Stewart, who he had married in 1945, were active ice-skaters at the Winnipeg Winter Club. The couple had three sons: Steward Sprague, David Sprague, and John Sprague.

He died at Toronto, Ontario on 20 May 1996 and was later buried in Kildonan Cemetery.


Birth registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Cost accountant and athlete,” Winnipeg Tribune, 13 July 1948. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B20, page 25]

Obituary [Daniel Sprague], Winnipeg Free Press, 24 May 1996, page 35.

Obituary [Shirley Sprague], Winnipeg Free Press, 10 August 1995, page 66.

This page was prepared by Sarah Ramsden.

Page revised: 22 March 2015

Memorable Manitobans

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