The history of the Waugh family in Nanaimo dates back well over 100 years. For more than a century the Waughs have contributed to the community, in early days as workers in the nearby mines, then as teachers and police officers, and their family members have served in both World Wars. Originally from Scotland, the family travelled great distances before arriving in Nanaimo, the town which would be their home for many generations to come.
The Waughs arrived in Nanaimo in 1899 when John Waugh (affectionately nicknamed “the Joker”), his wife Christina (née Orr), and their four children came from Montana, where John had worked as a miner. It is likely they would have travelled an exceptionally long distance by train, and would have probably come via the Great Northern Railway as far as Alberta before making the journey to Vancouver on the Canadian Pacific Railway.
John Waugh arrived in Montana in December 1892 when he was twenty five, carrying only one suitcase with him. It appears he and Christina Orr had already been together in Linlithgow, Scotland, as he came the United States to be with Christina and their infant daughter. John and Christina were married in 1893.
According to the 1901 Canadian Census, John was illiterate, yet he nevertheless became an important member of the community, at first working as a miner, and later being appointed police constable in 1909. John and Christina went on to have a large family that would lay down strong roots in the Harbour City. They had eight children, four of whom were born in Nanaimo. One of John and Christina’s daughters, Agnes Waugh, become a teacher at South Wellington School at least as early as 1914. Another family member, Jock Waugh, taught at Harewood School in Nanaimo from 1925-1929, and became principal in 1926, when he was only 20 years old.
The Waughs were prevalent in Nanaimo not only because of Christina and John’s own large family, but they had other family members join them in the city. One notable family member, James McLean or “Daisy” Waugh (the son of Sarah Waugh, and an unknown father), became a famous football player for the Nanaimo City Team. Sadly, James “Daisy” Waugh died in a tragic mining accident in 1936. A number of the Waughs served, and died, in the First and Second World Wars.
Many years have passed since the Waugh family arrived in Nanaimo, but their legacy lives on––the house they purchased when they arrived in 1899, at 471 Selby Street, is still standing, and is now a registered Heritage Home.