No history of the commercial and political development of Saskatoon
district would be complete without extended mention of James Clinkskill,
who is now living retired in Saskatoon. He was born in Glasgow, Scot-
land, on the 9th of May, 1853, a son of James and Josephine Katrine
Marie (Michel) Clinkskill. The father was an engineer and iron founder
and for many years manufactured mill machinery at Glasgow, and was
one of the foremost business men of his day. His death occurred in
1892, at the age of eighty-four years. Mrs. Clinkskill died in 1884, when
seventy-nine years of age.
In the pursuit of his education James Clinkskill attended the public
schools of Glasgow and subsequently entered Madras College of St. An-
drews. At the age of seventeen years he began an apprenticeship in the
cotton and yarn business, serving three years. He was then identified
with that line of business for a period of ten years. Subsequently he
went into the grocery business for three years and in 1882 he came to
Canada. He located in western Canada, at Winnipeg, and remained there
until the fall of that year, when he moved to Prince Albert. At that
early day there was no railroad crossing the Northwest Territories and
the entire region of the province of Saskatchewan had only a sparse
population composed of native Indian traders and stockmen. Those who
came into the region at that time were the advance guard of pioneers,
whose work finally disclosed the resources of the country to the modern
farmers and builders, and who made the history of the country. Mr.
Clinkskill formed a partnership with T. E. Mahaffy, for the conduct of
a general mercantile business, and they decided on Prince Albert as the
location for their enterprise. They shipped their goods by the Red river
and Lake Winnipeg and thence up the Saskatchewan to Prince Albert.
The shipment was retarded, however, when the water in the river became
so low that the steamer could not continue until the spring of the follow-
ing year-1883. In the intervening period Mr. Clinkskill and Mr. Ma-
haffy had brought some of the goods overland from Troy, now called
South Qu'Appelle. In the fall of 1888 they moved their business to
Battleford, which was then the capital of the Northwest Territories, and
they opened a store on the south side of Battle river, on the old town
site, conducting it until the spring of 1885, the year of the Riel Rebellion.
During that time the store was looted and burned by the Indians. Mr.
Clinkskill was a member of the Home Guards during the rebellion and
remained under arms for sixty days, awaiting the arrival of troops. At
the close of the rebellion he resumed business on the present townsite of
Mr. Clinkskill at once became active in civic affairs and for more
than a quarter of a century he served in one capacity or another. His
initial step was made in 1888, when he was elected to the first Territorial
Legislature as representative from the Battleford district. He sat as
representative of Battleford district, 1888-1898, ten years, and as repre-
sentative of Saskatoon district, 1902-1905, four years. In 1891 he was
chosen a member of the Executive Committee by Premier Haultain but
resigned from this committee the same session, owing to a difference of
opinion on school legislation. In 1898 Mr. Clinkskill and Mr. Mahaffy
had dissolved partnership and in 1899, while still retaining his mercan-
tile interests at Battleford, he came to Saskatoon and bought the small
establishment of Leslie & Wilson. Saskatoon in that year comprised a
railroad station, section house, two taverns and two or three dwellings.
The business purchased by Mr. Clinkskill was the only business enter-
prise west of the river. In 1903 at the by-election, he was chosen to
the Legislature as a representative of the Saskatoon district, to fill the
vacancy caused by the accidental shooting of the sitting member, William
Sinclair. Mr. Clinkskill continued to sit in the Legislature until the
passing of the old Northwest Territories. His service in that body had
been continuous from the first Legislature, with the exception of the
term 1899 to 1903.
In 1906 Mr. Clinkskill enlarged his store in Saskatoon and in that
year built the block on Twenty-first street, which he still owns. His
friends and many of the citizens of the town derided him at the time he
built the block, for it was so far out of what was then the business dis-
trict. It is now, however, practically in the center of the business dis-
trict and is one of the most valuable pieces of property in the city. Mr.
Clinkskill purchased the property for two thousand dollars and sold part
of the site for a post office for nine thousand dollars. In the fall of 1905
Mr. Clinkskill was elected mayor of Saskatoon and in July of the follow-
ing year, when the town became a city, he was chosen to fill the executive
chair of the municipality, an honor which will always be associated with
his name. He took an active part in drawing up a special charter for
the city. In the fall of 1910 he was again elected mayor of Saskatoon
and was reelected for the year 1912. In 1909 he was elected a governor
of Saskatchewan University and upon the expiration of that term was
reelected by the Senate. The Board of Governors chose him as its chair-
man in 1911 and he has since held this position.
In 1884 Mr. Clinkskill was married to Miss Dora Babington Taylor,
a daughter of Alexander Taylor of Winnipeg. In 1909 Mr. and Mrs.
Clinkskill celebrated their silver wedding anniversary. To Mr. and Mrs.
Clinkskill seven daughters and one son were born: Thomas, the only son,
was killed in the battle of the Somme. He was the first man to enlist in
Saskatoon, in the service of his country, and was but twenty-eight years
of age at the time of his death. The oldest daughter is now Mrs. W. W.
Ashley. The other daughters are: Mrs. C. R. Veannatter, of Ottawa;
Mrs. A. M. Hush, of Saskatoon; Mrs. H. S. Smith, of Saskatoon; Mrs. G.
B. Woods, of Saskatoon; and Mrs. Allan Smith and Jean of Saskatoon.
Mr. Clinkskill is very proud of his fourteen grandchildren, all of whom
are girls, with the exception of two. In September, 1917, Mrs. Clinkskill
passed away. In August, 1918, Mr. Clinkskill was married to Mrs.Gibson.
Throughout his life Mr. Clinkskill has given his political allegiance
to the Conservative party, having firm belief in the principles of that
party as factors in good government. His religious faith is that of the
Presbyterian church, in which he is a zealous worker. Fraternally he
is identified with the Masons, and since 1882 has been a member of the
Masonic order of Scotland and is one of the oldest Masons in Saskatoon.
He was active in the organization of the lodge here and also of the lodge
at Battleford. He belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and
the Knights of Pythias. In 1922 Mr. Clinkskill built his present beauti-
ful home, where he is living retired, enjoying well-merited rest. His life
has been useful and active and Saskatoon and the district are indeed
fortunate in having him for a citizen.
Visitor # [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Web Master: Sask Gen Webmaster,
for Sask Gen Web Project
Re-published ©: Monday, 06-Jan-2003 21:52:32 MST
We encourage links to this page.
These electronic pages may NOT be reproduced in any format
for profit or presentation by any other organization or persons.
Persons or organizations desiring to use this material, must
obtain the written consent of the contributor, or the legal
representative of the submitter, and contact the listed Web
master with proof of this consent.