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WAUGH, RICHARD, builder, office holder, and journalist; b. c. 1830 in St Boswells, Scotland; m. Janet Deans, and they had six children; d. 27 April 1908 in Winnipeg.

The eldest of five children, Richard Waugh was very much the self-made man. His father died when he was eight, and thus his opportunities for formal schooling were limited. His extensive education was the result of his own efforts. In spite of these difficulties Waugh taught night school in his mother’s house in St Boswells. Tuition was free but each student had to donate in turn a tallow candle to provide light.

In his teens Waugh was apprenticed to a stonemason and until 1882 he would work as a mason, builder, contractor, and architect. He designed and built farmhouses and churches throughout Scotland. Among other accomplishments, he participated in the restoration of Dryburgh Castle and was responsible for the design and construction of the New Congregational Church in Govan.

In 1882 Waugh, his wife Janet, and five of their six children left the family home, Abbey View, in Melrose. In the spring of that year they settled in Winnipeg. Both Waugh and his wife worked hard to keep their Scottish connections. Their house was open to all young Scots who came to Winnipeg and soon after his arrival in Canada Waugh acted as a correspondent for the Scotsman (Edinburgh).

At first Waugh continued to make his living as a builder and he also acted as inspector of street paving for the city. His love of writing and his intimate knowledge of sound agricultural practices, gleaned while building farmhouses in Scotland, served him well as he moved into agricultural journalism. This new career was launched in 1885 when he wrote an article for the Manitoba Daily Free Press about the farm and farming methods of a veteran of western agriculture, Kenneth McKenzie of Burnside. Waugh travelled extensively throughout western Canada and the United States, where he observed and talked to farmers. The information he gathered became the basis of many articles.

As a result of his interest in agriculture Waugh developed a close association with the Nor’-West Farmer that would span almost 20 years. The newspaper had been founded in 1882; by 1908 it would claim to be the agricultural paper of a region stretching from Manitoba to British Columbia, with a circulation greater than that of all its competitors combined. Waugh started as a “special contributor and travelling correspondent” and he continued to hold that title for several years. In 1886, however, he joined the newspaper’s editorial staff; he would serve as editor or co-editor until 1904. A practical man, he was a strong opponent of the single-crop wheat farms so common in the west. He wanted them replaced by mixed farms and wrote and lectured aggressively to bring about that change. In his columns he supported practical farming experiments since he believed they were of great benefit to the ordinary farmer.

Waugh and the Nor’-West Farmer also took a keen interest in the development of the dairy industry, devoting four pages in November 1886 to the new Manitoba Dairy Act, which called for the establishment of a dairy association. Waugh and his friend Henry Cameron, secretary-treasurer of the Nor’-West Farmer Printing and Publishing Company, were charter-members of the Manitoba Dairy Association, the founding meeting of which was held on 13 Dec. 1886 in the newspaper’s office. In 1888 Waugh became a director and in 1889 second vice-president of the organization. For the next six years he served as its unpaid secretary-treasurer until he was replaced by Ella Cora Hind*. From 1895 until he retired in 1904 he held the post of first vice-president.

In August 1904 Waugh’s wife, Janet, died and that December he decided to retire as editor of the Nor’-West Farmer. The news of his retirement prompted letters from the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., the North Dakota Agricultural College, the Agricultural College of Manitoba, and the experimental farms at the University of Minnesota, at Brandon, Man., and at Indian Head (Sask.). All expressed the sentiment that Waugh’s writings had helped advance western agriculture and the interest of farmers. The strong supporter of the agricultural industry would be missed.

Following his retirement Waugh visited Scotland. While there he acted as a correspondent for the Manitoba Morning Free Press. For many years he had written under the heading “A Scot abroad”; his letters from Scotland appeared under the title “A Scot at home.” Sometime after his return to Winnipeg in 1905 he took over a special department of the Manitoba Weekly Free Press, a newspaper with mainly rural subscribers. In this position he continued to write articles on farming and related topics until his death at age 78.

Richard Waugh died with his pen in hand. The eulogies, tributes, and editorials which followed his death were numerous and glowing. A widely attended funeral attested to his prominence and that of his family, in Winnipeg and the west. Friends and associates in the agricultural community from Fort William (Thunder Bay), Ont., to the Pacific coast valued Waugh for speaking out and promoting dairying, mixed farming, and other aspects of agriculture. To honour the man who many said was a unique and outstanding figure in western agriculture, the Nor’-West Farmer organized a subscription so that a painting of him could be commissioned and hung in Convocation Hall at the Agricultural College of Manitoba.

Henry Huber

PAM, MG 14, B4. St John’s Anglican Cathedral (Winnipeg), Reg. of burials, 29 April 1908. Farmers Advocate and Home Journal (Winnipeg), 1908. Manitoba Morning Free Press, 1882–1908. Nor’-West Farmer (Winnipeg), 1882–1908. Weekly Free Press and Prairie Farmer (Winnipeg), 1904–8. Bryce, Hist. of Man. Fifty years of dairying in Manitoba: memorial souvenir presented by the Manitoba Dairy Association on the occasion of its fiftieth annual convention (Winnipeg, 1935). Pioneers of Man. (Morley et al.). F. H. Schofield, The .story of Manitoba (3v., Winnipeg, 1913).

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Cite This Article

Henry Huber, “WAUGH, RICHARD,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 13, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed March 20, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/waugh_richard_13E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/waugh_richard_13E.html
Author of Article:   Henry Huber
Title of Article:   WAUGH, RICHARD
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 13
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1994
Year of revision:   1994
Access Date:   March 20, 2023