Mayor Daniel Nicholson

1906 & 1908-1909

Mayor Nicholson in car
Mayor Nicholson on First Avenue

Daniel (Donald) Nicholson was born in Roseburn, Inverness County, Nova Scotia on December 31, 1866 and attended the public schools in that community until he was fourteen years of age whereupon he began an apprenticeship in the carpenter’s trade. He worked in this vocation during the winter and assisted his father with the family farm the remainder of the year until he was twenty after which he engaged in contracting and building on his own account.

In 1896 Daniel came to British Columbia and after a brief stay in New Westminster, continued on to Wellington where he was employed at the mines for nearly a year before returning to the carpenter’s trade for about three months. At the end of this time he again started his own contracting and building business until the discovery of gold in the Klondike prompted him to try his hand at prospecting.

Disembarking at Dyea, Alaska Daniel joined the thousands of other get rich hopefuls and set off for Dawson City in the Yukon, some five hundred miles away over the famous Chilkoot Pass, a former Tlingit Indian trade route over the Coast Mountains. He spent 36 days en route. That fall he returned to Dyea arriving on October 31, 1897. The following year he returned to Dawson over the Skagway (White Pass) route but only stayed long enough to sell his outfit before returning to Wellington to resume his contracting business.

Now intent on settling down, in 1899 Donald built a honeymoon cottage for his future bride, Isabella McKinnon on a piece of property that is now the heart of the downtown business district on First Avenue. The couple were married on June 28, 1900 in Strathlorne, Cape Breton Island and Donald brought his wife to their new home on the west coast. The following June, Isabella gave birth to Florence who was to become Mrs. Thomas Strang. Two more daughters and a son were to follow; in November, 1904 Jessie Euphemia (later to become Mrs. James Jennings), February, 1909 Myrtle (who taught school in Ladysmith for many years) and Charles the youngest (1911?).

A pioneer resident of Ladysmith, Nicholson was an Alderman on the first Council during the term of John Coburn then became Mayor himself in 1906 and again in 1908 and 1909. He also served on the Ladysmith Board of Trade being elected Vice President on March 24, 1906 and later served as President of that body.

In his construction business, Daniel built many of the historic buildings in Ladysmith including the Opera house (formerly the Oddfellows hall), the Nicholson Block which was the first home of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, He also built the Nicholson Building on 1st avenue where the Wigwam Restaurant is now as well as the first hospital in Ladysmith. Nicholson eventually bought the Coburn Lumberyard in Ladysmith and had the contract to haul coal in the town.

Another project of his was the Speedway where horse races were held on Sunday mornings. In October 1908, Daniel disposed of his interest in the Ladysmith Opera house to Mr. James Dudley Skipp, who the Chronicle reported was having the place put in shape for a permanent moving picture show.

In 1910 Daniel gave up his contracting business when he was appointed Superintendent of government roads for the districts of Newcastle and Nanaimo. His office was where the Pentecostal Church now stands at the corner of Bay View Avenue and Dogwood Drive. He held this position for several years and was also a Justice of the Peace for many years.

Both Daniel and Isabella were very active in community affairs. Daniel was fraternally affiliated with St Johns Lodge #21, AF&AM in which he was a PM, Keystone Royal Arch Chapter, Nanaimo, and Columbia Preceptory, AF&AM. He was elected a life member in the Gizah Temple, AAONM shrine and was treasurer of the Harmony Lodge, No. 6 IOOF for over twenty years. The family launch was always at the service of the Rebecca Lodge to take members to picnics at Evening Cove.

Daniel Nicholson died in Vancouver on Monday, February 3, 1936 at the age of 69.

In October 1984, the former mayor was honored by the town council headed by Mayor Frank Jameson by having a new road off Ludlow Road named after him.