WHITTON and RITCH -Surname Studies and people from the Island of GRAEMSAY, Orkney

Tommy Douglas

Tommy Douglas

Male 1904 - 1986  (81 years)

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  • Name Tommy Douglas 
    Born 20 Oct 1904  Falkirk, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 24 Feb 1986 
    Person ID I18826  My Relatives
    Last Modified 22 Jan 2019 

    Father Thomas Douglas,   b. Abt 1880 
    Relationship natural 
    Mother Annie Clement,   b. Abt 1880 
    Relationship natural 
    Family ID F6773  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Living 
    Children 
     1. Living
     2. Living
    Last Modified 22 Jan 2019 
    Family ID F6772  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • Thomas Clement "Tommy" Douglas, PC CC SOM (20 October 1904 – 24 February 1986) was a Scottish-born Canadian democratic socialist politician and Baptist minister. He was elected to the Canadian House of Commons in 1935 as a member of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) party. He left federal politics to become the Saskatchewan CCF's leader and then the seventh Premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961. His government was the first democratic socialist government in North America, and it introduced the continent's first single payer, universal health care program. After setting up Saskatchewan's medicare program, he stepped down as premier and ran to lead the newly formed federal New Democratic Party, the National CCF's successor party. Douglas was elected as its first federal leader in 1961. Although he never led the party to government, through much of his tenure, the party held the balance of power in the House. He was noted as being the main opposition to the imposition of the War Measures Act during the 1970 October Crisis. He resigned as leader the next year, but remained as a Member of Parliament until 1979. He was awarded many honorary degrees, and a foundation was named for him and his political mentor Major James Coldwell during 1971. In 1981, he was invested into the Order of Canada; and became a member of Canada's Privy Council in 1984. He died in 1986 after a battle with cancer. In 2004, a CBC Television program named him "The Greatest Canadian," based on a viewer-supported survey.
      Douglas was born in Falkirk, Scotland, in 1904, the son of Annie (née Clement) and Thomas Douglas, an iron moulder who fought in the Boer War.[1] In 1910, his family emigrated to Canada, where they settled in Winnipeg.[2] Shortly before he left Scotland, Douglas fell and injured his right knee. Osteomyelitis set in and he underwent a number of operations in Scotland in an attempt to cure the condition. Later however, in Winnipeg, the osteomyelitis flared up again and Douglas was sent to hospital. Doctors there told his parents his leg would have to be amputated. Fortunately, a well-known orthopedic surgeon took an interest in his case and agreed to treat the boy for free if his parents would allow medical students to observe. After several operations, Douglas's leg was saved. This experience convinced him that health care should be free to all. "I felt that no boy should have to depend either for his leg or his life upon the ability of his parents to raise enough money to bring a first-class surgeon to his bedside", Douglas told an interviewer many years later.[3]

      During World War I, the family returned to Glasgow.[4] They came back to Winnipeg in late 1918, in time for Douglas to witness the Winnipeg General Strike.[5] From a rooftop vantage point on Main Street, he witnessed the police charging the strikers with clubs and guns, a streetcar being overturned and set on fire. He also witnessed the RCMP shoot and kill one of the workers. This incident influenced Douglas later in life by cementing his commitment to protect fundamental freedoms in a Bill of Rights when he was Premier of Saskatchewan.[6]

      At the age of fifteen, Douglas began an amateur career in boxing at the One Big Union (OBU) gym in Winnipeg.[7] Weighing 135 pounds, Douglas fought in 1922 for the Lightweight Championship of Manitoba; and after a six round fight won the title.[7] Douglas sustained a broken nose, a loss of some teeth, and a strained hand and thumb.[7] Douglas successfully held the title the following year.[7]

      In 1930 Douglas married Irma Dempsey, a music student at Brandon College. They had one daughter, actress Shirley Douglas, and they later adopted a second daughter Joan, who became a nurse. His grandson is the actor Kiefer Sutherland.[8]