Campbell Mellis Douglas | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Campbell Mellis Douglas

Campbell Mellis Douglas, surgeon, soldier, writer, inventor and sportsman (b at Grosse Ile, Qué 5 Aug 1840; d at Wells, Somerset, Eng 31 Dec 1909).
Campbell Douglas

Son of Dr George Douglas, superintendent of the Grosse Ile quarantine station (1836-64), he was educated at St John's and Laval and the Edinburgh School of Medicine (MD, 1861). He entered the medical corps of the British army in 1862 and saw service in Burma, India and Canada.

As medical officer to the expedition to the Little Andaman Islands in 1867, he was awarded the Victoria Cross for piloting a gig through a raging sea to relieve 17 of his comrades who were under attack by hostile natives.

Upon his retirement from the military in 1882, he settled in Lakefield, Ontario. He served as a medical officer during the North-West Resistance in 1885. His posting to Saskatoon was reached after a 320 km trip down the South Saskatchewan River in a collapsible canoe of his own invention. In 1894 he returned to England and a retired pay posting in the British army.

Douglas designed and collected small boats: dugouts, open Canadians, decked sailing canoes, fold boats and small gigs. By sail and paddle, he explored the inland and coastal waters of India, Great Britain, the US and Canada. He had his own decked racing canoe, the Harmony, built in England in 1864 and raced it as a member of the Toronto Canoe Club. Douglas's passionate involvement in his avocation did much to promote and document the early years of modern canoeing.