Biography

Nicholas Flood Davin (January 13, 1840 – October 18, 1901) Nicholas Flood Davin was a lawyer, journalist and politician, born at Kilfinane, Ireland. The first MP for Assiniboia West (1887–1900), Davin was known as the voice of the North-West.

A spellbinding speaker, Davin founded and edited the Regina Leader, the first newspaper in Assiniboia. He tried to gain provincial status for the territory. Davin produced the Report on Industrial Schools for Indians and Half-Breeds, otherwise known as The Davin Report, in which he advised the federal government to institute residential schools for native youth; a recommendation that decimated Canadian Aboriginal families.Davin was a parliamentary and war correspondent in England before arriving in Toronto in 1872, where he wrote for the Globe and the Mail. Although a fully qualified lawyer, Davin practised little law. The highlight of his legal career was his 1880 defence of George Bennett, who murdered George Brown.

A chance visit to the West in 1882 determined his future. In 1883, he founded and edited the Regina Leader, the first newspaper in Assiniboia; the paper carried his detailed reports of the 1885 trial of Louis Riel. A spellbinding speaker and Conservative MP for Assiniboia West from 1887–1900, Davin tried to gain provincial status for the territory, economic and property advantages for the new settlers–even the franchise for women–but he never achieved his ambition to be a Cabinet minister. A mercurial personality, he became depressed by the decline of his political and personal fortunes and shot himself during a visit to Winnipeg on October 18, 1901. Davin wrote The Irishman in Canada (1877), as well as poetry and an unpublished novel.

Davin used, among others, the literary device of intertextuality to draw upon British canonical writers including Tennyson, Bryon and Shakespeare to connect the associations of empire with his 19th-century audience. In 1876, Davin wrote an adaptation of Shakespeare The Fair Grit; or The Advantages of Coalition. A Farce, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The play is a farce on governmental coalitions and the corrupted role of media in Canadian politics – a power fully realized by Davin as a writer and founder of the Regina Leader newspaper located in Canada’s North-West.

Three years later, Davin produced the Report on Industrial Schools for Indians and Half-Breeds, otherwise known as The Davin Report (1879), in which he advised John A. Macdonald’s federal government to institute residential schools for Indigenous youth; a recommendation that decimated Canadian Aboriginal families. In 1884, while visiting Ottawa, Davin wrote Eos – A Prairie Dream (1884), a collection of poems that, in his own words, "strike a true and high note in Canadian politics and literature" while he represents, through his poetry, the destruction of Aboriginal culture (Moll, "The Davin Report: Shakespeare and Canada's Manifest Destiny," Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project, par 2).

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