James Wheeler Davidson has been described as a modern Marco Polo and a renaissance man. Born in the United States in 1872 but later becoming a naturalized Canadian, Davidson was an Arctic explorer, war correspondent, author, US consul agent in the Far East and recipient of the Japanese Order of the Rising Sun.
Davidson was involved in a number of successful business ventures, including the Calgary Colonization Company, the Crown Lumber Company, and the Royalite Oil Company, and was also actively involved in a number of initiatives in Calgary, including the construction of the Lougheed Building, the founding of the Calgary Symphony Orchestra, the Alberta Motor Association, and the Calgary-Banff Tourist Development Association.
Davidson dedicated the last years of his life to the international expansion of the Rotary Club and travelled first to Australia and New Zealand and later embarked on a thirty-two month trip with his wife and daughter to Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Jerusalem, India and the Far East. His efforts resulted in 23 Rotary clubs chartered in 12 different countries.
In 1933, at the age of 61, James passed away. Tributes poured in from all over the world after his passing, as he had met and touched so many lives. A lasting tribute to James -- proposed by the Alberta Motor Association and the Rotary Club of Calgary -- was the dedication of Mount Davidson, near Banff, Alberta.
Lillian and Marjory continued their involvement with Rotary for the remainder of their lives, speaking at Rotary events about James and the family’s international travels promoting the organization.
This collection contains a selection of textual records and images from the James Wheeler Davidson Family fonds housed in Archives and Special Collections. The Davidson Collection webpage provides access to a finding aid which describes the original records held in Archives and Special Collections, and to subject-specific browses of the digital collection which will assist researchers in locating items in the collection that are relevant to their research.