Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: John Douglas “Doug” MacFarlane (1920-2004)


Born on 15 October 1920, second son of Dr. John Miller MacFarlane (c1875-1954), his post-secondary education studies were interrupted by the Second World War. Enlisting in 1941, he serving overseas in the Royal Canadian Artillery’s Second Division, as a Gun Position Officer and, later, a Forward Observer Officer (FOO). While deployed as a FOO at Ebben, Germany, then with the rank of Acting Captain, his post came under fire. Injured, and with his communication link severed, he made his way back, repairing the connection, and returned to his post. All the while under enemy file, he then called in friendly artillery and silenced the hostile gun emplacement. For this action, he was decorated with the Military Cross (1945) for courageous display.

After his military discharge, he resumed attendance at the University of Manitoba, earning a BSc (1941), Diploma in Education (1947), BEd (1957), and MEd (1961), the latter for a Masters thesis entitled “A Follow-up Study to Determine the Effect of Enrichment Programs in a High School upon Achievement at University” (1961). He joined the teaching staff of the Winnipeg School Division, specializing in science education, and taught at Isaac Brock School (1949-1950), Cecil Rhodes School (1950-1957), and Kelvin High School (1957-1964) prior to being made Principal of Sir Sam Steele School (1964-1967) and Lord Nelson School (1967-1970). After brief tenure as Vice-Principal of Gordon Bell High School (1970-1971), he was the Principal of Sisler High School (1971-1979), after which he retired.

On 24 July 1948, he married fellow teacher Dorothy Helen Primmer (c1919-2008) at Chalmers United Church in Winnipeg. They had three children. Pastimes included church committee work, curling, bridge, and blueberry picking.

He died on 28 June 2004.


“Bachelor of Science General Course,” Winnipeg Free Press, 13 May 1941, page 8.

“Studies ended, many go into Armed Forces,” Winnipeg Tribune, 16 May 1941, page 7.

“Casualty List [Wounded],” Winnipeg Tribune, 19 August 1944, page 3.

“15 Manitobans are included in latest Army Casualty Lists [Wounded],” Winnipeg Free Press, 19 August 1944, page 5.

“Six Manitoba men receive awards for valorous action,” Winnipeg Free Press, 27 June 1945, page 3.

“Convocation to mark graduation of 650 [Diploma in Education],” Winnipeg Free Press, 13 May 1947, page 3.

“Bride given in marriage by her brother,” Winnipeg Tribune, 26 July 1948, page 7.

Death notice [Dr. John Miller MacFarlane], Winnipeg Free Press, 9 July 1954, page 23.

“Bachelor of Education,” Winnipeg Free Press, 17 May 1957, page 16.

“Master of Education,” Winnipeg Free Press, 17 May 1962, page 28.

“Racial fights unusual, principals say,” Winnipeg Free Press, 20 December 1977, page 64.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 4 July 2004, page A11.

Obituary [Dorothy Helen MacFarlane], Winnipeg Free Press, 5 February 2008, page 26.

Cosgrove/Danaitis/Nisby/Clifford family tree, Ancestry.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 16 March 2016

Memorable Manitobans

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