Image of the City of Regina

Charles H. Willoughby (1857-1932)

Regina College Founder

Born in Brockville, Ont., Charles came to Regina with a Winnipeg construction firm contracted to build Regina’s first post office and jail. He was present at the trial of Louis Riel. He stayed on to help meet Regina’s quickly growing housing needs. In 1899, with W. H. Duncan, he established the Beaver Lumber Company. Charles was also active in civic affairs serving on town council twice.

He was an eminent businessman who had interests in Saskatchewan Life Insurance, the Regina Brokerage and Investment Co. and a wide variety of other interests. Charles was a founder of Regina College and a member of its board of governors for 22 years. He was truly a pillar of the early Regina community.

Charles was born in Brockville, Ont., attended public school at Almonte, Ont., then worked as a bricklayer and builder for a number of years in the East. In 1885, he came to Regina and worked with the Winnipeg contracting firm of Jelly and Soucie in supervising the erection of Regina’s post office and jail. When his contract with the Winnipeg firm ended, he established his own contracting business in the city with an eye towards meeting the increasing demand for housing. This firm constructed some of the largest and most substantial buildings in Regina. Charles married Mary Ellen Rea (1859-1943) of Almonte in 1889.

In 1899, he formed a partnership with W. H. Duncan and together they established the Beaver Lumber Company at Wolseley. Success soon came to this pioneer business. Indeed, although the company started out on a small scale, by the mid-1920s Beaver Lumber could boast over 150 lumber yards throughout Saskatchewan. In addition to holding executive positions in other companies, Charles was also active in many civic organizations.

A member of the town council in 1897-98 and the city council in 1911, he was also a founder of Regina College and served on the board of governors for 22 consecutive years. His success in the construction industry also made him a leader in Regina’s financial realm. A president of the Saskatchewan Life Insurance Company and the Regina Brokerage and Investment Company, he also served as vice-president of the Western Manufacturing Company and the Regina Foundry Company, and was a director of the Saskatchewan General Trust Company, the Regina Trading Company, and the Capital Ice Company.

Besides his business associations, he was a member of many social organizations: the Assiniboia Club, the Wascana Country Club, the Regina Golf Club, the Masonic Lodge, the Oddfellows Lodge, and the United Church. During his tenure as city alderman, he served as chairman of the Board of Works. After Charles’ death, Mayor James McAra stated that, as a long-time Regina contractor, he “was one of those Regina citizens who always had the interests of the city at heart. He had a real pride in the city and its development.” Willoughby Crescent is named in his honour.