Image of the City of Regina

McDougall, Donald C.

Pioneer, Railway Worker, Carpenter, Fireman
1854-1914

Regina's first dwelling with Mr. McDougall standing out front with buggy and horse

Donald McDougall and his wooden house, believed to be the first such house in the district. 1883.

Like many young men, Donald C. McDougall came in search of a better life on the Canadian plains.

In 1882 his quest for land and adventure took him west from Port Elgin, Ontario to Pile of Bones, North West Territories . McDougall staked his claim to SW 14-17-19-W2, a patch of land that is just north-west of the corner that is now the intersection of Prince of Wales Drive and Arcola Avenue . He immediately set about building a structure from the only readily available building supply – sod. His 10'x14' soddie would later serve him as a stable when a more permanent dwelling was built.

McDougall's homesteading experience was identical to thousands of others in all but one factor. McDougall arrived in Pile of Bones a full 3 weeks before Lieutenant Governor Edgar Dewdney arrived and declared the area to be the new capital of the North West Territories. This meant that his soddie was one of the first buildings constructed in what is now Regina.

McDougall came to Canada from the Hebrides island of Colonsay , Scotland . He travelled out to the 10t settlement that would become known as Regina with a large group of Gaelic-speaking family and friends. After setting up his homestead, McDougall returned to Winnipeg. (It was common for homesteaders to work off-farm for several months of the year in order to make ends meet while proving up their homesteads.) He wound up in the hospital when a runaway team of horses ran him over.

After recuperating in hospital for the summer, McDougall got a job working for the Canadian Pacific Railway – he made railway ties in the months of December 1882 and January 1883. With cash in hand, he returned to Regina, building a wooden house in the town. This house is thought to be the first wooden structure built in Regina and is thought to have been located on what is now the 1700 block of Cornwall Street.

McDougall made ends meet while proving his homestead by working as a carpenter in Regina 3 days a week. It is likely that McDougall, a building framer, was kept quite busy in the burgeoning frontier town! Although McDougall had to apply for a leave permit on his homesteading duties in 1884 (which was granted), he did eventually finish proving up his claim. He was granted patent on his land in April 1888.

Eventually McDougall moved into Regina full-time. He was the second lieutenant in the volunteer Fire Brigade when it was organized in 1886. He joined the Sons of Scotland and was a member of the First Baptist Church.

McDougall retired to Victoria in 1911, where he lived until his death in 1914. He was survived by his wife (whose name is unknown) and his daughter, Lucy Ada McDougall Grimes.