Henry Black (Saskatchewan politician)

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Henry Black, CBE (1875 - 1960) was a contractor, real estate developer and apartment block owner in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. He served as an Alderman, Mayor, member of the Regina School Board, Regina Collegiate Board, Regina General Hospital Board and as Chairman of the Saskatchewan Relief Commission. He was married to Jennie Lenore Barker and they had five children: Henry Kenneth, a Regina architect and engineer, Charles Russell, a physician in Toronto, William Franklin a property manager in Regina, Elizabeth Lenore and Thomas Murray, a Regina obstetrician and gynaecologist.

Black was born in Grenville County, Ontario in 1875, one of a family of nine.[citation needed] After completing his education, he managed the general store at a railway construction camp in Leonard Station, Ontario. In 1899 he moved to Kaslo, British Columbia, a mining town, where he operated a lumber, coal and cartage business.

He arrived in Regina in 1902 and became a contractor, first specializing in house building, then commercial and public buildings. In the years before Black arrived in Regina, there was only one house builder, but in the next few years the boom came and he built around 150 houses - a record for those days.[citation needed] In partnership with A.W. McGregor, he built early Regina landmarks such as the Glasgow House department store, the Kresge’s store, the Regina Farmer’s Market and numerous apartment blocks. Eventually, he became one of the largest property owners in the city.

In 1917 he tried his hand at the wholesale baking business and along with a group of local investors, established the Prairie Biscuit Company. This pioneering attempt at local value-added manufacturing couldn’t withstand the sugar shortage imposed by the First World War and it ceased operations before the end of 1919.[citation needed]

He served as alderman in 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1922. He ran for the Conservatives (unsuccessfully) against Premier W.M. Martin in the 1921 provincial election. He was Regina’s Mayor in 1918 and 1919. During Black’s first term as Mayor, Saskatchewan was ravaged by the influenza epidemic. More Saskatchewan residents were killed by influenza than died on the battlefields in Europe. Virtually all public gatherings were banned, including movies, vaudeville performances, concerts, and even church services. Black was re-elected Mayor for 1919. During his second term as Mayor he was credited with helping the city avert a major crisis by convincing Regina labour groups not to participate in the call to join the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike.

In 1931, Black was asked by the government to assume Chairmanship of the Saskatchewan Relief Commission. The Commission managed the provincial government’s relief programs until August 1934. Black oversaw the spending of $31.5 million ($428 million in 2005 dollars).[citation needed] On January 2, 1935 in recognition of his voluntary work with the Relief Commission, he was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) by King George V.[citation needed]

In 1937, at the age of 63, he once again ran for mayor of Regina, but was soundly defeated. He continued to manage his business interests in Regina until his death in 1960.