McLEOD, ANGUS JONAS, Presbyterian minister and educator; b. 1861 in Kincardine, Upper Canada; d. 20 Nov. 1900 in Regina.
After receiving part of his early education in Kincardine, Angus Jonas McLeod was registered at the University of Toronto for 1881–82. His studies were temporarily interrupted in 1883–84, presumably because of financial difficulties, before he obtained his ba in 1885. The next three years were spent studying for the ministry at Knox College, University of Toronto, where he earned several awards before his graduation.
On 30 May 1888 McLeod was ordained a minister of the Presbyterian Church in Canada by the Calgary Presbytery, and he then served for nearly two years as missionary in the Banff (Alta) area. In May 1890 he was called upon by the members of St John’s Presbyterian Church in Medicine Hat to replace their minister, the Reverend James Herald, who had died suddenly two months earlier. McLeod occupied this post, also conducting occasional services at the coal-mining community of Stair (northwest of Redcliff) and at Dunmore, until March 1891, when he left to become first principal of the Regina Industrial School.
Built in 1890 by the Department of Indian Affairs for the training of young Indians, the school’s two-storey brick building was situated on 320 acres of farm land on Wascana Creek four miles northwest of Regina. McLeod was assisted by a staff of nine, including an assistant principal, a carpentry instructor, and a farm instructor. At the outset McLeod’s wife served as matron for the female pupils. The first year 32 Indians (17 boys and 15 girls) were enrolled. Most of the pupils were Crees from the Piapot, Muscowpetung, and Pasqua reserves north of Regina, but there were also 12 Assiniboins in the group, 7 of whom came from the reserve near Indian Head. Enrolment tripled in 1892 and increased to an average of 120 students a year by 1900. McLeod reported in the second year of operation that under the supervision of the farm instructor the pupils had put up half a mile of wire fence and had planted 4 acres of potatoes and vegetables, 9 acres of wheat, 19 acres of oats, 27 acres of mixed hay, as well as some barley, rye, and millet. The carpentry instructor and the 8 boys under his instruction had built a three-truss bridge over the Wascana, an ice-house, a root cellar, a laundry, and a building that housed a carpentry-shop, a paint-shop, a shoe-shop, and bedrooms for employees. In 1895 a printing-shop was added where pupils learned typesetting and turned out a monthly paper, Progress.
The primary purpose of the Regina Industrial School was to transmit to the native students an appreciation of Christianity while preparing them to adapt and conform to the Canadian way of life by learning English and mastering a trade. By all accounts the institution was one of the most successful in the Canadian west, a glowing testimony to the administrative ability of its principal, who was also well known for his support of missionary activity in foreign areas.
In November 1900, at age 39, McLeod was seized by an extraordinarily violent attack of hiccups. Not responding to treatment, he died one week later as a result of this unusual ailment. Following a funeral service in Regina, his body was taken to Kincardine for burial.
Knox College (Toronto), Bursar’s Office, registration cards. UTA, B65-1061; P78-0158, 1881–85. Can., Parl., Sessional papers, 1890, no18; 1892, no.14; 1893, no.14; 1911, no.27. PCC Acts and proc., 1892–94, 1899, 1901. Leader (Regina), 22 Nov. 1900. Saskatchewan Herald, 28 Nov. 1900. History of St. John’s Presbyterian Church, Medicine Hat, Alberta, 1883–1973, comp. Margaret Dowkes, ed. Michael Hope ([Medicine Hat], 1973). Eleanor Brass, “Indian school’s fine record,” Leader-Post (Regina), 8 July 1955: 15.