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It's a small world

Jennifer's Journal

It is true what they say - we are all connected by six degrees of separation.

I realized this recently at a book launch held at the Tommy Douglas Centre. It was an appropriate venue considering the book was a biography of the many people that supported former Premier Tommy Douglas.

Through this book I was able to work out my own connection to T.C. Douglas.

Tommy first came to Weyburn as a student minister from Brandon College, at the request of Norman McKinnon, one of three governing deacons for Calvary Baptist Church. McKinnon also served on the senate for Brandon College, established in 1899 to train ministers for the Baptist Church.

Norman's father Neil, "Saskatchewan's Merchant Prince," opened McKinnon's Department Store in Weyburn in 1902. He and his spouse were one of 14 Baptists to form Calvary Baptist Church in 1906. His swift success allowed him to build a three-story stone house in 1905 - the house that I currently live in.

See how easy that was? I didn't even get to six degrees!

As for the rest you, "The Greatest Canadian" had many connections to our city. Maybe you can connect yourself to him through these other members of "Tommy's Team."

When Tommy became Premier in 1944, he hired Eleanor McKinnon to be his private secretary. Eleanor started her office career at the Weyburn Mental Hospital, as secretary to Dr. A. D. Campbell.

Another Weyburn Mental Hospital connection surrounds architect Kiyoshi Izumi, who was hired in 1954 by the provincial government to redesign its mental hospitals.

Izumi experimented with LSD in order to gain a patients perspective of the Weyburn Hospital, working closely with superintendant Dr. Humphry Osmond. His experiences with the hallucinogenic drug allowed him to come up with a design that would be comforting and therapeutic for patients, particularly those suffering from schizophrenia.

In 1960, the Douglas government approved the Izumi-inspired mental hospital for the Yorkton Psychiatric Centre.

Former Weyburnite Tommy McLeod had his own six degrees of separation involving Douglas.

When Douglas' father moved to Winnipeg from Scotland in 1910, he and his brother stayed at a boarding house, operated by McLeod's great-grandmother. When the Douglas men paid their rent with two gold sovereigns, the coins were passed down to two motherless granddaughters in the family, one being McLeod's mother. She passed it along to her daughter-in-law, McLeod's wife..

Although McLeod went on to become Douglas' financial advisor, he didn't learn about the coin connection until after Douglas' death in 1986.

Many people call occurrences like these coincidences, but I tend to agree with Walt Disney - it's a small world after all.

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