Tommy Douglas

Thomas Clement Douglas (1904 - 1986)

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Hon. Thomas Clement (Tommy) "TC" Douglas
Born in Falkirk, Scotland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Irelandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 30 Aug 1930 in Carberry, Manitoba, Canadamap
Descendants descendants
Father of [private daughter (1930s - unknown)]
Died in Ottawa, Ontario, Canadamap
Profile last modified 28 Jun 2019 | Created 26 Apr 2014
This page has been accessed 978 times.
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Preceded by
William John Patterson
8th Premier of Saskatchewan
10 July 1944 – 7 November 1961
Succeeded by
Woodrow Lloyd


Tommy was born in Falkirk, Scotland, to Thomas Douglas (an iron moulder who fought in the Boer War) and Annie (née Clement). The Douglas family emigrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in 1911, when he was six years old. During World War I, his father enlisted and his mother took the children to Glasgow. They returned to Winnipeg in time for Douglas to witness the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919.[1]

In 1919 he left school at the age of 14 to become a printer’s apprentice.

In 1924 Douglas began studies at Brandon College (BA 1930), then McMaster University (MA 1933), and the University of Chicago. After his ordination as a Baptist minister in 1930, he preached in Weyburn, Saskatchewan.

On August 30, 1930, Tommy married Irma Dempsey of Carberry, Manitoba,[2] a music student at Brandon College. They had one daughter, actress Shirley Jean Douglas, and they later adopted a second daughter, Joan Diane, who became a nurse.

In 1932 Douglas helped organize the Independent Labour Party, which co-founded the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) that year. In 1935 he was elected as a CCF MP, a federal position.

In 1944 Douglas resigned his federal seat to become the Saskatchewan CCF’s leader and then the 7th Premier of Saskatchewan, from 1944 to 1961. His government was the first democratic social government in North America and introduced the first universal healthcare programme on the continent where all bills were paid solely by government. For this he was nicknamed the "Father of Medicare".

In 1961 he stepped down to lead the newly formed federal New Democratic Party. Although Tommy Douglas never led the party to form a government, during his tenure the party held the balance of power in the House of Commons. He remained committed to his socialist ideals and was an MP until 1979. He was involved in the establishment of Canada's central banking, old age pensions, unemployment insurance, and universal Medicare systems.

In 1986, at age 81, Douglas died of cancer in Ottawa. He was named to the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2004, in a voted conducted by the CBC, Canadians elected him the Greatest Canadian of all time. In 2016 he was designated a National Historic Person.


  1. Census of the Prairie Provinces, 1916
  2. Shackleton, Doris. Tommy Douglas. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1975, p. 46

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Tommy is 42 degrees from Lizzie Griffiths, 37 degrees from Fred Rogers and 30 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.