Dr. Walter Cowan (1865-1934)
Minnie (McCarten) Cowan (1863-1932)
Sinking His Teeth into Regina
Born in Guelph, Ont., Walter came west with his bride, Minnie, in 1889. He was one of Saskatchewan’s first graduate dentists, and was extremely active in political affairs. He sat on council for a number of years and later served as mayor in 1916 and 1917 (pictured bottom center). He played a role in provincial politics, being elected in 1917 and again in 1930. He was active in journalism, debating, church activities and community affairs as well as numerous dental associations.
Minnie was very active in the women’s movement, charitable work through her church and war relief. Both Cowans served the community well and were honoured by the city. Cowan Crescent was named in their honour.
Walter was born in Guelph, Ont. After coming to Regina with his wife, Minnie, in 1889 whom he had married in 1888 in Toronto, he became one of the first graduate dentists in the Northwest Territories. Regina’s pioneer dentist lived in the days when there were only two silk hats in Regina, of which his was one. In 1890, he organized and became president of the Dental Association of the Northwest Territories which later became the Saskatchewan College of Dental Surgeons. While serving in that position until 1915, he was also active in the Dominion Registration of Dentists and the National Dental Association, where he served as president in 1909.
Cowan was also interested in politics. A member of town council in 1891 and city council in 1907, he served as mayor in 1916 and 1917. He was the first dentist to sit in Parliament when he was elected as a Union Member of Parliament / MP for Long Lake in 1917. In 1930, he was re-elected as a Conservative MP for Regina under Prime Minister R. B. Bennett.
Walter’s political career fostered an active interest in journalism. While serving as associate editor of the Dominion Dental Journal and as a columnist for The West, he entered into a partnership with the McAra brothers and acquired a controlling interest in the Indian Head Vidette. He also organized a debating club in the late 1890s, which soon developed into a popular political and social forum.
Regarded as one of Western Canada’s leading dentists, he served as president of the Saskatchewan Dental Association and the Canadian Dental Association. Walter also aided his wife’s charitable work.
A native of Toronto, Minnie was active in many women’s organizations in Regina. When the First World War began in 1914, she joined the IODE, the Red Cross and the St. John Ambulance Association. She was a member of Knox United Church for more than 40 years.