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YOUNG, DAVID, merchant, railway promoter, and civic official; b. 14 Jan. 1848 near Glasgow, Scotland, son of David Young; m. 31 July 1875 Lydia Marion Brown, and they had two children; d. 5 Aug. 1887 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

David Young was an orphan when he came to Canada at the age of ten to live with his uncle, Robert Young, in Georgetown, Canada West. In his early teens he ran away from home and over the next six years was successively an errand boy in a grocery store in Toronto, a sailor out of Oakville (Ont. ), and a soldier in the United States army in which he became a quartermaster sergeant. After three years of army life, he obtained his discharge and entered the dry goods business as a clerk, initially in Georgetown and subsequently at St Louis, Mo., Natchez, Miss., Mobile, Ala, and New Orleans, La.

Returning to Canada in 1870, Young joined the Ontario Rifles and that autumn arrived in Winnipeg with the 3rd company as a part of the Red River expedition. He took his discharge in June 1871 and joined John Higgins’ Winnipeg dry goods firm as a clerk. By “tact, perseverance and energoung helped to build the firm into one of the largest and most prosperous in the city. On 1 Feb. 1875 Higgins admitted him as a partner, and in 1880, when the two men retired from active business, they were each worth close to a quarter of a million dollars.

During the 1870s Young was a leading figure in Winnipeg sporting, cultural, and political life. He was a founder, and for many years president, of the Dufferin Park Association, formed by the leading athletic clubs in the city to build an athletic facility for field sports; he was also a member of the Garry Lacrosse Club, the Manitoba Turf Club, the Winnipeg Amateur Literary and Dramatic Association, the Ariel Club, and the Assemblies Club.

From its inception, Young took an active interest in the Winnipeg Board of Trade and in February 1879 was elected to its council. There was considerable anxiety in Winnipeg in the late 1870s over the proposed route of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Initial plans called for it to pass through Selkirk to the north of Winnipeg. Young associated himself with the various efforts of the Winnipeg business community to attract the main line of the CPR to Winnipeg and to build a line from Winnipeg to the southwestern portion of the province. He was one of the original promoters of the Manitoba South-Western Colonization Railway Company, incorporated in May 1879, and later served as its secretary-treasurer. A major point of conflict between this railway company and the city of Winnipeg was the construction of a bridge over the Red River in the area of Point Douglas (now part of Winnipeg). Young won a seat on the city council in the election of January 1879, and for the year that he sat on council he remained a director of the railway, an apparent conflict of interest which was questioned by other council members.

Young was equally active in provincial and federal politics. An ardent Conservative, he supported Alexander Morris against Donald Alexander Smith* in the Selkirk constituency during the federal election of 1878. When Morris was narrowly defeated, Young and Archibald Wright immediately launched a suit protesting Smith’s election on the grounds of corrupt practices. The petitioners were initially unsuccessful but their appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was upheld and Smith was unseated. By then Young had broken with the Conservatives in the province, and did not aid Thomas Scott in his successful campaign against Smith in a by-election in September 1880.

In 1881, because of ill health, Young began spending considerable time in Florida where he established a nursery and an orange grove. After the loss of his wife in 1884, his health deteriorated. A popular man in Winnipeg, Young left the city permanently in November 1885, and died in Saratoga Springs in 1887. He was buried in Winnipeg.

John E. Kendle

PAM, MG 7, 137, Marriages, no.124; MG 12, A; B2. Alexander Begg and W. R. Nursey, Ten years in Winnipeg: a narration of the principal events in the history of the city of Winnipeg from the year A.D. 1870, to the year A.D. 1879, inclusive (Winnipeg, 1879). Can., House of Commons, Debates, 1880–81; Journals, 1880–81; Parl., Sessional papers, 1880–81, IX, no.46. Can., Statutes, 1879, c.66. Manitoba Daily Free Press, 1878–80, 1887. A. F. J. Artibise, Winnipeg; a social history of urban growth, 1874–1914 (Montreal and London, 1975). W. T. R. Preston, The life and times of Lord Strathcona (London, 1914). [H.] B. Willson, The life of Lord Strathcona & Mount Royal, G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O. (1820–1914) (London and Toronto, 1915).

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

John E. Kendle, “YOUNG, DAVID,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 11, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed May 24, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/young_david_11E.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/young_david_11E.html
Author of Article:   John E. Kendle
Title of Article:   YOUNG, DAVID
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 11
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1982
Year of revision:   1982
Access Date:   May 24, 2024