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The Late Douglas McNeil

The Late Douglas McNeil

The Late Douglas McNeil

The Late Douglas McNeil


Published on 11 March 2015
Hansard and Statements by Senator Wilfred Moore (retired)

Hon. Wilfred P. Moore:

Honourable senators, I rise to pay tribute to Douglas “Dugger” McNeil, late of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Dugger McNeil was an athlete, a community man, a politician, a businessman and above all a family man. He passed away in Halifax on January 18, 2015, at the age of 87 years.

First coming to prominence in Halifax as an outstanding all-around athlete, Dugger starred as a defenceman with the St. Mary’s Juniors. He actually put himself through school on a football scholarship.

He played in the Montreal Canadiens’ organization for four years with the Montreal Royals. His teammates included Dickie Moore, Gerry Plamondon and Jacques Plante. As he put it, and I quote: “In the original six era of the NHL, with such deep talent, backup players spent their days checking the newspaper to see if a regular was hurt because it was the only way to crack the line-up.”

When he returned to Halifax after his stint in Montreal, Dugger was player-coach of the Halifax Atlantics senior team, which won the Alexander Cup twice between 1952 and 1954. It was a team he described as one of the finest clubs ever put together outside the NHL. Dugger was inducted into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame in 2002.

A solid community man, he was one of the original members of the Centennial Arena Commission, which led to the building of a much-needed ice surface in the west end of Halifax.

In 1960 he was elected to the Nova Scotia Legislature, representing the riding of Halifax West for the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia, with a majority of 2,666 votes. In 1967 he was re-elected to the newly formed riding of Halifax St. Margarets, with a majority of 1,120 votes.

As a businessman, he owned and ran Duggers Menswear in Halifax for over 40 years. It is in that capacity that I came to understand what a good man he was. A former colleague, the Honourable Brian Tobin, was to speak in Halifax at a community fund-raiser. To make a long story short, the luggage of the future Premier of Newfoundland was lost by the airline. The event was a black tie affair and it was 6:30 on a Saturday night. Stores were closed, of course.

I telephoned Dugger and told him of our predicament. He had just gotten home from work but told us to meet him back at his store, which we did. A tuxedo was promptly produced and the evening saved. Dugger closed shop with our thanks and returned home. It wasn’t until later I learned he was returning to resume his own birthday dinner with his family. That’s the kind of generous and considerate man he was. On his next visit to Halifax, Brian purchased a suit at Duggers.

Predeceased by his supportive wife, Marion, I wish to extend the condolences of this chamber to his family: son Ross, daughters Marie and Mary-Anne, brother Jack as well as his seven grandchildren.