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Henry's Story

Henry Black was born on February 14, 1875 on the family farm south of Ottawa, in a village called Oxford Station. There he attended public school and took a course at a local business college. He ran a general store in the village of Leonard, in Russell County, Ontario until 1898. At age 23 he left Ontario, accepted a parting gift of cattle from his father, set up camp in a boxcar with the cattle and headed west. He passed through Regina and in 1899 settled in Kaslo, British Columbia. The story is told that Henry (a teetotaler) operated a draying business in the small B.C. town. Business was good, but soon he was caught in a moral quandary. Customers asked him to transport beer. He refused, and the business failed. In 1903, Henry moved to Regina from Kaslo. His brother, Dr. John Calvin Black (aka ‘Uncle Doc’) arrived in Regina a year later, fresh from graduation ceremonies at McGill. Henry Black shared a room with ‘Uncle Doc’ in the Oxford House at 2216 Rose Street. During the first couple of years as a Regina resident, Henry Black operated a menswear store. Others had the same idea and the booming town couldn't support them all. Henry's store ceased operation. He turned to contracting and became very successful. The 1908 Henderson’s Directory lists the contracting firm of McGregor & Black as having its offices at #3 Black Block. Archibald W. McGregor was Henry Black’s partner for a year or so. Amongst the buildings constructed by the firm were the Glasgow House, which later became the Simpsons Department Store.

On December 15, 1910 Henry Black married Jennie Lenore Barker. The couple set up a household in Apartment C of the Rose Block at 2215 Rose Street. By 1911 the contracting firm of McGregor and Black had ceased to exist. In 1912 the Black family was living in the Crescent Apartments, a building that Henry Black had built. On May 19, 1912, the Black’s first child; Henry Kenneth, was born. On June 30, 1912 the Regina cyclone killed 30 people and destroyed 500 buildings. In 1915, the Blacks moved to a house at 2322 St. John Street where they lived until 1921. In 1921 Henry Black built the large red brick house at 2310 College Avenue - during construction the family lived at 2041 Smith Street. By 1922 the family had moved into 2310 College (then 16th) Avenue. Henry lived at 2310 College Avenue until 1950 when he moved next door to a house at the corner of College Avenue and Lorne Street. Henry Black's wife, Jenny Lenore, died in 1950.

The Black family included:

Henry Black built many of the brick houses on the site of the RCMP barracks, many houses in the downtown core, many commercial buildings including the one-story red brick farmer’s market building on the corner of Broad Street and Saskatchewan Drive, He built many apartment buildings, which he managed. Amongst these apartments were the Black Block on Hamilton Street just south of the train station, the Crescent, the Crescent Annex Apartments, The Franklin, the Andrew and others. He first became an alderman after the election of December 1914, was re- elected alderman for a two-year term in December of 1915 and first ran for mayor in December of 1917. He served as mayor during 1918 and was re-elected for the 1919 term. When the city switched from a ward system to proportional representation in 1922 he threw his hat in the aldermanic ring once again and was elected to serve as an alderman for 1923.  He was appointed to head the Saskatchewan Relief Commission in 1931 and served until the Liberals under Jimmy Gardiner took over in 1934. He was recognised for his work with the Relef Commission when he was awarded the CBE by the Prince of Wales in 1935. In 1937, following a persuasive visit by Saskatchewan Conservative Leader John Diefenbaker, he took another run at the Mayorality, and got thumped resoundingly. Following that defeat, he retired from active civic and political involvement, but maintained his membership on the hospital board and the collegiate board for a number of years. He passsed away in Regina in 1960.

The information on these pages has been gleaned from the Saskatchewan Archives including microfilm of that most liberal of newspapers, the Regina Morning Leader. The conservative daily - the Regina Star - also provided a somewhat different slant than the Sifton-owned Leader-Post. As well, a variety of local history books were used, including “Saskatchewan - A Pictorial History” by Bocking, “Regina from Pile O’Bones to Queen City Of the Plains” by Riddell, “Saskatchewan and Her People” by John Hawkes, Henderson’s Directories of the era and Regina city council minutes and source documents pertaining to the Street Railway System ‘scandal’.

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