Biography of John ‘Jack’ Henderson Mitchell & Mabel Margaret Lee


Mitchell Family Stamford ON circa 1910

John Henderson Mitchell (b. Dec 24 1877) was the eldest son of Hugh and Sarah (nee McMicking 1846-1926) Mitchell who lived on farm in Stamford Township in Ontario just outside of Niagara Falls. His brothers were William, Hugh, Gordon, and Robert and two sisters, Mary and Janet. His father, Hugh Mitchell, (1844-1926) took over the farm from his father, John Mitchell Sr. (1806–1890) who had cleared the property as a homestead.

After graduating from high school he went to Hamilton, Ontario, took a business course and lived with his Aunt Mary Jane Dobbie. After graduating from Business College he got a job with Wood, Alexander and James, a wholesale hardware firm where he met Mabel Lee, his future wife. He worked there one or two years and then he asked to be transferred to their Brandon, Manitoba operation. He had been a YMCA member in Hamilton so he joined the YMCA in Brandon and met George Bell. George Bell was telegrapher for the C.P.R., and they became very good friends.

Mabel Margaret Lee was the eldest daughter of Christopher (1859-1937) and Mary Ellen (nee Gawley 1859-1933) Lee. Chris was from Morpeth Ontario and Ellen was from Binbrook. They ran a general store on King St. in Hamilton. Her brother Harry (1885-1972) joined the RCMP at an early age and was posted out to Western Canada around 1900. One sister Blanche (1883-1957) married Edgar Billing (1877-1941) and they lived in Buffalo, Chicago, Niagara Falls, and Philadelphia. They had no children. The other sister Elizabeth (1890-1972) went with her parents when Christopher heeded the call of the West, left his general store on King St., took his family out to Saskatchewan and homesteaded 60 miles south of Regina at Forward near Pangman. A few years later Harry left the police force and took over the homestead with his father. Later Christopher and Ellen moved to an adjacent farm and farmed there for several years on the semi-arid, ‘dirt farming’, western plains.

Mabel Lee also worked in Hamilton for Wood, Alexander, and James as a secretary and she moved to Brandon MB in 1905. John and Mabel became reacquainted in Brandon and very shortly went to Winnipeg to get married (Aug 29 1909) then returned to Brandon.

George Bell and John Mitchell decided to move further west to Regina. They set up a farm insurance business, Bell & Mitchell - Hail, Wind, and Crop Damage Agents, and later on George Bell moved to Calgary to set up a business. His brother Gordon Bell set up a branch of the same business in Vancouver. John stayed in Regina as secretary/treasurer and manager of the Regina Branch. Bell & Mitchell were regular supporters of UBC Graduates.

For a few years John and Mabel lived in an apartment on 12th Avenue in Regina, and they were there at the time a tornado (June 30, 1912) swept through Regina and destroyed a number of blocks in the center of town. The apartment wasn’t damaged but some buildings were torn apart. Shortly after that they bought a house at 2139 Robinson St. in Regina (shown at right).

On Feb 5, 1917 a son John Hugh Mitchell (1917-2005) was born and on Nov 14 1922, a daughter Dorothy Ellen (1922-1985). John Hugh graduated as an Engineer from the U of Saskatchewan in 1941 and was employed by Westinghouse back in Hamilton ON where he married Mary Davey and raised a family. Dorothy also moved to Hamilton and married Bob Hamilton.

Around 1915, John Henderson’s brother Hugh Mitchell (1883-1938), graduated from the U of Toronto with a Doctor of Medicine (1910) went down to Boston for a post graduate course, and then came back to Regina (1913) and set up his medical practice at John Mitchell’s family home, 2139 Robinson St. Hugh married Myrtle Acton (1890-1964) on April 21, 1915 and they bought a house on Ray Street. In 1929 John and Mabel built a new home at 2700 19thAve at the corner of Angus Boulevard in Regina.

John was an early president of the ‘Gridders’ Regina Rugby Team who were Western Canadian Champions in 1912. The Gridders became the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League (CFL). He was also secretary/treasurer to the Agriculture Insurance Company of Sask Ltd. which was the first Financial Company to be owned by farmers. John and Mabel were also avid curlers and golfers.

Mabel organized the Self Help League in 1932 which was a Regina city- wide organization designed to combat the effects of the ‘Great Depression’. She was active in the Women’s Missionary Society in Westminster United Church Regina.

The Mitchells like to travel and camp. They visited Waskesiu National Park in Northern Saskatchewan, Riding National Mountain Park in Manitoba and Banff National Park in Alberta. They travelled many times on the train to the Bell & Mitchell office in Vancouver and back to the family farm in Ontario for reunions. Here John, John Jr, and Dorothy are shown forming a family chain across the great divide in the Rocky Mountains between Alberta and British Columbia. John Jr. kept up the family tradition. He and his family travelled and camped extensively.

John sold his ownership in the business to a long time employee in 1946 and built a home in St Catharine’s Ontario to be near his children and the old Mitchell family farm. Mabel was partially paralyzed by a stroke earlier in life. She died on Nov 30, 1951. John remarried a woman named Ann L. in 1953. He died of a heart attack on Jan 6, 1955. John is buried in the family plot in the old Stamford Presbyterian Cemetery alongside his wife Mabel and his numerous Mitchell ancestors. Here John Jr and his son Robert D. stand next to the family burial plot.

Robert D. Mitchell

November 16, 2011

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Saskatchewan, Sask, Sk, Canada, biography, John Henderson Mitchell, Hugh Mitchell, Sarah McMicking, Myrtle Acton, Grodon Mitchell, Robert Mitchell, Mabel Margaret Lee, Ellen Gawley, Christopher Lee, Blanche Lee, Edgar Billing, Elizabeth Lee, John Hugh Mitchell, Dorothy Ellen Mitchell, Forward, Pangman, Regina,
A submitted addition to Pioneers and Prominent People and Saskatchewan and Its People
Regina Gen Web Region

Photographs and Bibliography submitted by Robert D. Mitchell to the Sask Gen Webmaster, Julia Adamson.

It is the intention of this site to place online this genealogical primary source record of a biography with photographs to make it available to persons with a historical or genealogical interest in this area of Saskatchewan, Canada. There are no service charges or fees for use of this biography with photographs, and use of this site constitutes your acceptance of these Conditions of Use. This website is dedicated to the free sharing of this historical data. Persons or organizations desiring to use this material (which would include photographs, notices and submitter information), must obtain the written consent of the contributor: Robert D. Mitchell or the legal representative of the submitter and author: Robert D. Mitchell and contact the listed Sask Gen Webmaster, Julia Adamson. with proof of this consent. We encourage links to this page.
Saskatchewan, Sask, Sk, Canada, biography, John Henderson Mitchell, Hugh Mitchell, Sarah McMicking, Myrtle Acton, Grodon Mitchell, Robert Mitchell, Mabel Margaret Lee, Ellen Gawley, Christopher Lee, Blanche Lee, Edgar Billing, Elizabeth Lee, John Hugh Mitchell, Dorothy Ellen Mitchell, Forward, Pangman, Regina,