The Making of a Socialist: The Recollections of T.C. Douglas

Description

400 pages
Contains Illustrations, Index
$24.95
ISBN 0-88864-070-6

Author

Year

1982

Contributor

Edited by Lewis H. Thomas
Reviewed by Agar Adamson

Agar Adamson is the author of Letters of Agar Adamson, 1914–19 and former chair of the Department of Political Science at Acadia University in Nova Scotia.

Review

This reviewer opened this work with great anticipation, for T.C. Douglas is one of the most colourful and articulate politicians to appear on the public stage in Canada in the last 40 years. Many an audience, no matter what its political beliefs, has been entertained by the Douglas wit. One can imagine the reviewer’s shock when he found that this book was not as it is advertised to be: the recollections in question cover the period only to 1958. The work is a printed record of tape-recorded interviews conducted by C.H. Higginbotham, a Saskatchewan journalist, during the final stages of Douglas’s premiership in Saskatchewan. There is also a conclusion by the editor, L.H. Thomas, with respect to the final period of what could be referred to as the “Douglas government.” The questions are certainly minute in detail: What were your grandfathers’ names? What do you have for breakfast? Do you remember what your house in Scotland was like? Of course, there are other questions and responses of greater interest. For example, “All our politics have stemmed from the price of wheat in Saskatchewan”; “There was always a radical ferment in Saskatchewan that could be awakened.” Readers interested in Canadian history, particularly Canadian Socialist history, will find this work to be quite useful, especially as it gives Tommy Douglas’s views on many of the events that surrounded the formation of the CCF and the Regina Manifesto. It is also a useful reference work on the growth of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation in Saskatchewan and, of course, Douglas’s views on the early days of his government.

One would suspect that the interested reader would very much enjoy the chapter entitled “First Months of Office” and the subsequent chapter, “Saskatchewan Government Reforms.”

Readers will also find the editor’s conclusion interesting, for in it he discusses the Medicare debate and the events that surrounded the introduction of Canada’s first government-run medical insurance programme.

One would hope that the editor would carry on the work started by Higginbotham in 1958 and record Douglas’s recollections from 1958 to the present time. Certainly, Douglas deserves a full treatment, not just the period covered in this work. However, this type of research deserves razor-sharp editing, something this work lacks.

Citation

Douglas, T.C., “The Making of a Socialist: The Recollections of T.C. Douglas,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/38063.