Image of the City of Regina

Austin McPhail Bothwell (1882-1928)
Jessie (Robson) Bothwell (1883-1971)

Leaders in Literature & Education

Austin, a well-know educator, came to Regina from Perth, Ont., when he was 18. He was the first Rhodes Scholar to emerge from the Northwest Territories. After completing his education abroad, he taught at Wesley College in Winnipeg for seven years.  He returned to Regina in 1917 to head the English Department at Central Collegiate for 10 years, until he was appointed inspector for
public schools.  He held executive positions in a number of literary organizations.

Jessie was born in Regina. She moved to Winnipeg after the turn of the century and returned with her husband in 1917. She was active in a number of endeavours including membership on the newly-created Minimum Wage Board and as a member of the Regina Public School Board. After completing a degree in library science at McGill University, she became Legislative Librarian in 1931. She held this position for 23 years. She also was the first woman to head a government department when she was appointed Provincial Librarian in charge of Legislative, Traveling and Open Shelf Libraries.

These pioneer authors contributed much to the shaping of Regina and our province. In recognition of the couple’s lifelong investment to their community, Bothwell Crescent is named for them.

George Bothwell (1916-1996) was their only son. Austin was born in Perth, Ont. After receiving his early education there, he came to Regina in 1903. He taught in rural schools during the summer and attended Regina Normal School in the winter. He was selected as the first Rhodes Scholar from the
Northwest Territories and subsequently pursued studies in English and romance languages at Trinity College in Oxford, England. After graduation, he spent another year studying at Heidelberg University in Germany.  When he returned to Canada, he settled in Winnipeg and joined the staff of Wesley College where he taught for seven years before spending a short time in the army as a member of the Cameron Highlanders of Canada. In 1917, he moved to Regina and became head of the English Department at Central Collegiate where he remained until 1927, when he was appointed an inspector of public schools. He maintained that position until the time of his death.

Austin was well known for his active participation in many community activities: he was an active organizer and first president of the Saskatchewan branch of the Canadian Authors’ Association, vice-president of the Regina Canadian Club, on the board of the Regina Public Library for five years, and a member of Knox United Church. He was the first editor of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Alliance and he was the author of several school text-books.  Austin was also a book reviewer and critic. In recognition of his efforts as a leader in Regina’s local literati, the Austin Bothwell Memorial Scholarship was established in his memory at the Regina Collegiate Institute in 1929.

Jessie was born in Regina and lived in one of the homes that was originally located on the site of the present-day Regina Post Office. After finishing her education, she moved to Winnipeg with her family just after the turn of the century. She returned to Regina after her marriage to Austin and became active in many civic pursuits. 

She was the first female member of the first Minimum Wage Board that was created by Premier W. M. Martin, and later became the second woman elected to the Regina Public School Board. She also served as a member of the Regina Public Library Board, and the Saskatchewan Archives Board, as well as being vice-president of the Canadian Authors’ Association and the Regina Women’s Canadian Club, and life member for the Regina Council of Women / RCW. However, her most notable endeavors did not begin until after her husband’s death.

In 1928, Jessie was a newly-appointed member of the staff of the Saskatchewan Legislative Library. She completed a degree in Library Science at McGill University in Montreal, and became the Legislative Librarian in 1931, a position she held for 23 years. In 1944, she became the first woman in the history of the province to become head of a provincial department when she was promoted to Provincial Librarian in charge of Legislative, Traveling and Open Shelf Libraries. Her civic career continued until her retirement in 1954.  She wrote many articles on Saskatchewan history for
The Leader-Post, later collected in a book entitled "Pioneers! O Pioneers!"