William John Percival Selby (1883-1945)
Founder of the Saskatchewan Boy Scouts
Our first stop on the tour recognizes the first white male born in Regina. He was born May 25, 1883, in the first properly constructed house built in Regina (with homemade iron nails used entirely in its construction), on the corner of 2300 llth Ave. at Lorne Street. The house was later moved to 2614 Albert St. He was also the first baby christened at the new St. Paul’s Anglican Church later that year. During his adult years, Percy lived at 2243 Albert St. — currently downtown.
Anyone who has ever been a member of the Boy Scouts may recognize Percy as “the Father of Scouting in Saskatchewan”. He was active in the scouting movement for 35 years, forming the first Boy Scout troop in Regina in 1908. Our first-born citizen was presented with scouting’s highest merit, the Silver Wolf Award, in 1929, by the founder of the Boy Scouts Movement, Lord Baden-Powell.
On May 25, 1883, Percy was born in Regina’s first house, which was built a year earlier and owned by his father, Colonel J. W. Selby. Later in December of 1883, when Bishop McCrae came to Regina to hold dedication services for the newly constructed St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Percy was christened, the first in the new church. Although his later life mirrored the lives of many other Reginans, Percy did make some exceptional contributions to the social life of the Queen City.
After attending school in Toronto, he moved west to Elgin, Man., where he farmed
for a number of years. In 1905, he returned east to Royal Standing College and qualifiedas a Captain in the Governor-General’s Body Guard. After returning to the Queen Citylater that year, his growing interest in outdoor camping and tracking prompted him to look for an organization that would sponsor various outdoor excursions. However, finding that there were no local organizations or clubs associated with his interests, he created the St. Paul’s Church Boy Cadets the following year to promote wilderness activities. By 1908, he formed the first Boy Scout troop in Regina, St. Paul’s Regina Troop Number One; and nine years later, he was appointed district commissioner and organizer. The St. Paul’s troop maintained a long and proud record under the direction of Percy. In 1911, he organized the Coronation Contingent of Boy Scouts and sent 36 scouts to represent Saskatchewan in a European jamboree. Percy formed the first Boy Scout band in 1912. Devoting his full efforts to scouting in 1917, he took 25 Saskatchewan scouts to The World Jamboree in Britain in 1929 and also attended the Prince Albert jamboree in 1930. Upon relinquishing his full-time scouting duties in 1938, he joined the provincial government, accepting an appointment with the Seed and Feed Grain Division of the Department of Agriculture. In 1941, he took a position in the Saskatchewan Department of Publications and served in that position until 1945. At that time, he held the longest scouting record in Canada. He was associated with the movement from its conception and served full-time for 35 consecutive years. He served in St. Paul’s Church for 36 years, which his father helped to build.
A member of the Saskatchewan Historical Society for many years, Percy later
served as president of the Old Timers’ Association in 1943. In 1929, Lord Baden-Powell awarded Percy scouting’s highest decoration, the Silver Wolf Award — an award which he wore proudly as the “Father of Scouting in Saskatchewan”. He married Nellie Hall Reagh (1889-1962) (Block 260) of Prince Edward Island in 1908. His five-day-old daughter is buried by his side. Two streets in Regina are named after him, Selby Place and Selby Crescent.