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Rev James Moffat Douglas





Rev James Moffat DouglasJames Moffat Douglas (May 26, 1839 – August 19, 1920) was a farmer, missionary and politician from western Canada.

James Moffat Douglas, the son of John and Euphemia (Moffat) Douglas, was born and received his early education in Linton, Bankhead, Roxburghshire in Scotland, and came with his parents to settle on a small farm near Cambray, Ontario, in 1851. Through studies at the University of Toronto, Knox College, and Princeton Theological Seminary he obtained a degree in theology, and was ordained a minister of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, serving with churches at Cobourg and Uxbridge for a number of years. His studies included a short course in medicine, in preparation for service in the field of foreign missions.

In 1878, James Douglas went to lndore in Central India where he served as a medical missionary and chaplain of a British Army garrison. On his return to Canada in 1882, he became minister at Morris and later at Brandon, Manitoba, serving there until 1887.


On 6 Aug. 1861 he married Jane Smith of Darlington Township, Upper Canada, and they had four sons and three daughters.

In 1883 Rev. Douglas and two of his sons, John and Robert, drove west by team and buckboard to Fort Ellice in the Qu'Appelle Valley. Impressed by the beauty of the Valley and its resemblance to their homeland in Scotland, the Douglas family acquired homesteads near the site of the village of Tantallon, named by Rev. Douglas after the ancestral seat of the Angus branch of the Douglas family.

Rev. Douglas continued in the ministry until 1898; in rural charges he learned at first hand about the problems faced by his farmer-parishioners in the marketing and transportation of their grain, and their uneven struggle to secure something resembling economic justice at the hands of railway and grain handling companies. That struggle led James Douglas, a man of great compassion, to become involved with the agrarian movement. He was active first in the short-lived North-West Farmers Protective Association in 1883, and in the early 1890s became an eloquent and effective spokesman for the Patrons of Industry, an organization which was largely responsible for his nomination as an Independent candidate in the federal election of 1898. He was elected with a large majority, and in the House of Commons at once became recognized as a staunch advocate of the rights of western farmers.

The legislation he introduced in 1898 to compel railway companies to improve loading facilities at grain elevators, to distribute boxcars more evenly among farmer patrons, and to curtail the many abuses suffered by farmers in the marketing of their grain, was embodied in the Manitoba Grain Act of 1900. That Act provided western grain producers with a greater measure of economic justice than they had ever known.

James Douglas withdrew from politics in 1904, but continued to be actively interested in farmers and their welfare. He nominated Walter Scott, Saskatchewanís first premier, for leadership of the Liberal party in 1905; in 1908 he was appointed as one of the four Senators to represent the new province of Saskatchewan.


d. 19 Aug. 1920 in Tantallon, Saskatchewan

Brother: Thomas


  • Janet, who married Mr Williamson

  • Christina Susan. She was the youngest child

  • [Primary and secondary sources give three different birth dates for Douglas. An 1841 entry in the register of births and baptisms for Linton, held by the General Register Office for Scotland (Edinburgh), indicates that John Douglas of Linton Bankhead and Euphemia Moffat had a son named James on 1 June 1836. Another date, 26 May 1838, is given in the CPG for 1897 and in a profile of Douglas that appeared in the Vidette (Indian Head and Fort Qu’Appelle, [Sask.]) on 5 May 1897. The third date, 26 May 1839, appears in the CPG for 1903, an obituary notice that was published in the Regina Morning Leader on 20 Aug. 1920, the 1898 and 1912 editions of Canadian men and women of the time (Morgan), and many other sources. The author regards the date 26 May 1839 as the most likely; the General Register Office entry may simply mean that John Douglas and Euphemia Moffat had two sons named James, the first of whom died as a child. Most of the evidence suggests that James Moffat Douglas himself regarded 26 May 1839 as his date of birth]



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