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Social/Personal – Dr. Shadd

Jeannette Simpson with Garrison and Lavina, c. 1914. Photo supplied to the Saskatchewan African Canadian Heritage Museum by Lynn Vickson. Click to enlarge.

In 1906, Dr. Shadd married Jeannette (Jennie) Simpson, an immigrant from Scotland. They had two children together: a son, Garrison (named for Dr. Shadd’s father), in 1910 and a daughter, Lavina in 1912.

The Shadds were active in their community. They regularly received visitors and hosted meetings of a youth group in their home. The couple also hosted distinguished guests such as Sir Frederick Haultain, first Premier of the Northwest Territories.

Dr. Shadd was also involved with the Anglican Church in Melfort. He was on the 1905 planning committee for the construction of a new Anglican church in Melfort and campaigned to ensure the church had a large bell.

Anglican Church, Melfort. This is the church that Dr. Shadd worked to establish. Photo supplied to the Saskatchewan African Canadian Heritage Museum by Lynn Vickson. Click to enlarge.

The church opened in September 1906 with a 1,200-pound bell in its tower, just as Dr. Shadd had wanted.

Yet another way Dr. Shadd was involved in his community was through the publication of a newspaper. In 1908, he purchased the Prince Albert Advocate newspaper, moved it to Melfort, and renamed it The Carrot River Journal. Having seen his aunt’s success at sharing her ideas through the publication of a newspaper, he took this opportunity to spread his ideas after being unable to win elections.

1910 postcard featuring the Shadd home. People posed in front of the house include Dr. Shadd (far right). Photo courtesy of Saskatchewan African Canadian Heritage Museum. Click to enlarge.

He worked as editor for the publication for a number of years. However, it seems that even Dr. Shadd had limits on his time. Between his work as a town councillor, a doctor and a farmer, he had little time to work on the newspaper. In 1911, he announced that he would be handing over more of his responsibilities to others. In 1912, he stepped back as editor and sold the newspaper. The Carrot River Journal continued to publish for decades after Dr. Shadd sold the paper.

Dr. Shadd fell ill with appendicitis in 1915 and died in Winnipeg on March 9, 1915, due to complications from his illness. He was 46 years old. Whether he had been in Winnipeg when he fell ill or whether he made the trek there to seek the best possible medical care is unclear. His body was returned to Melfort where he was buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

Photo of the funeral parade for Dr. Shadd in Melfort, March 14, 1915. Photo: Melfort & District Museum. Click to enlarge.

His funeral service was a large affair. Though the main service took place in the Anglican Church, the town hall was set up to accommodate all the people who could not fit in the church. His funeral was attended by The Right Reverend J. A. Newman, Bishop of Saskatchewan, among many others. Observers remarked that the funeral procession was over a mile long, longer than the distance from the church to the cemetery.

In 1920, a committee was formed in Melfort to create an appropriate memorial for Dr. Shadd, out of concern that his grave was not prominently marked. After fundraising, the committee had more than enough money to fund the purchase of a large memorial stone.

Dr. Shadd’s memorial stone, paid for by community contributions. Photo: Garry Forsyth. Click to enlarge.

Dr. Shadd’s memory carried on. A lake in northern Saskatchewan was named “Shadd Lake” for him, and a street in Melfort is named Shadd Drive. A cairn was built in front of the Melfort Union Hospital to honour Dr. Shadd, dedicated in 2009.

Dr. Shadd memorial cairn in front of Melfort Union Hospital. Photo: Garry Forsyth. Click to enlarge.

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