Douglas, Thomas Clement, 1904-1986

Identity area

Type of entity


Authorized form of name

Douglas, Thomas Clement, 1904-1986

Parallel form(s) of name

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

  • T.C. Douglas
  • Tommy Douglas

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence



Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas was born in Falkirk, Scotland on October 20, 1904 to Thomas and Annie (Clement) Douglas. In 1910, he immigrated with his family to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Douglas attended elementary school in Winnipeg and continued his education in Glasgow, Scotland, where he and his family relocated during World War I. Upon moving back to Winnipeg in 1919, Douglas apprenticed in the printing trade and worked as a Linotype operator. In 1924, he enrolled at Brandon College to pursue his ambition to become an ordained minister. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1930 and was ordained a Baptist minister in Weyburn. During the summer of 1931, Douglas studied sociology at the University of Chicago but never completed his doctoral thesis. Douglas earned a Master of Arts degree from McMaster University by correspondence in 1933 while serving at Calvary Baptist Church in Weyburn.

Douglas's political career began in the early 1930s, when he helped establish the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). After running unsuccessfully as a Farmer-Labour Party candidate in the 1934 Saskatchewan general election, Douglas was elected to the House of Commons in 1935 and served as the CCF Member for the Weyburn constituency until 1944. In 1941, he was elected president of the Saskatchewan CCF and became the party's leader in 1942. On June 1, 1944, Douglas resigned from the House of Commons to run in the Saskatchewan general election. On June 15, 1944, the CCF was elected into power, becoming the first democratic socialist government in North America. Douglas became the CCF Member for Weyburn, the seventh premier of Saskatchewan and the president of the Executive Council. While premier, Douglas also served as Minister of Public Health (1944-1949) and Minister of Co-operation and Co-operative Development (1949-1960).

Premier Douglas and his government introduced many innovative social and economic reforms. The Crown Corporations Act created numerous publicly-owned agencies, including the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (a provincial bus line), the Saskatchewan Power Corporation (which extended electrical service to isolated rural areas), and the Saskatchewan Government Insurance Office (Canada's first publicly-owned automotive insurance service). During his tenure, The Saskatchewan Bill of Rights was passed and legislation allowing for the unionization of the public service was brought in. A program offering free hospital care to all citizens was also introduced. As well, Douglas's government introduced universal health care legislation in 1961, although the resulting Medicare program was launched by Douglas's successor, Woodrow Lloyd, in 1962.

In November 1961, Douglas resigned from provincial politics to become leader of the newly-created New Democratic Party (NDP), an amalgamation of the CCF and Canadian Labour Congress. Douglas ran in the Regina City riding in the 1962 federal election but was defeated. Later that year, he was elected to the House of Commons in a by-election in the riding of Burnaby-Coquitlam. Douglas remained in that seat until his defeat in the 1968 federal election. He was elected in a 1969 by-election in the riding of Nanaimo-Cowichan-The Islands. In 1971, Douglas resigned as NDP leader but remained in his seat in the House of Commons and served as the NDP energy critic until his retirement from political life in 1979. Douglas died in Ottawa on February 24, 1986.

Douglas received numerous awards and honours, including: the Saskatchewan Order of Merit (1985); a Companion of the Order of Canada (1981); membership in the Queen's Privy Council for Canada (1984); and induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (1998). Douglas also received numerous honorary degrees from Canadian universities. Douglas Provincial Park in Saskatchewan was named in his honor. In 2010, a statue of him was erected in Weyburn.

Douglas married Irma Dempsey in 1930. They had two daughters: Shirley and Joan.


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Internal structures/genealogy

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Relationships area

Related entity

Douglas, Irma May Dempsey (Mrs. T.C. Douglas)

Identifier of related entity

Category of relationship


Type of relationship

Douglas, Irma May Dempsey (Mrs. T.C. Douglas)

is the spouse of

Douglas, Thomas Clement, 1904-1986

Dates of relationship


Description of relationship

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Control area

Authority record identifier

PA 487

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used

Rules for Archival Description (RAD)



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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Authority record created on 2010-12-29. Approved 2012-03-06. Last modified on 2017-11-29.




AMICUS Authorities - no entry found.
Various Internet sites
Saskatchewan Politicians: Lives Past and Present
Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan

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