The Honourable Douglas D. Everett served in the Canadian Senate for almost three decades and remains one of Manitoba’s most successful entrepreneurs.
Born in Vancouver in 1927, he grew up with the strong moral compass and work ethic displayed by his parents, and the competitive spirit of three siblings.
In 1943, he joined the Royal Canadian Navy as a 16-year-old cadet at Royal Rhodes Military College. He served for four years and retired as a sub-lieutenant. He graduated from Toronto’s Osgoode Hall Law School in 1950 and from the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law in 1951.
He charted a course in business at his father’s Winnipeg car dealership, Dominion Motors, which was Canada’s largest Ford dealership. In 1970, his entrepreneurial spirit pushed the company into an innovative foray to create a chain of gas kiosks at grocery stores.
Senator Everett leased a small spot of land on three Safeway parking lots, installing two-pump kiosks. Such low overhead created savings he could pass along to the customer and he had effectively levelled the playing field against industry giants Shell and Imperial Oil. The iconic Domo brand is now among Canada’s largest independent gas retailers with more than 90 locations across Western Canada. The company is one of several that make up Royal Canadian Securities, of which Senator Everett remains chairman emeritus and strategic advisor.
Humble by nature, he credits his business success to the individuals who made up his team. His visionary leadership earned their loyalty and many Domo employees enjoyed careers that stretched four decades.
As the company expanded and grew into a major industry player, the astute businessman caught the attention of Prime Minister Lester Pearson, who called him to the Senate in 1966. At the time, he was the youngest person to have joined our nation’s Upper Chamber, at just 39 years old.
As chairman of the Committee on National Finance, he sought out inefficiencies in government departments, and criticized policy on wage and price control, the inflation rate and our unemployment system. His convictions prompted him to sit as an Independent in the Senate and, in 1988, he made headlines around the world when he began to donate his Senate salary back to the Crown, which he did until his retirement in 1994.
He and his late wife, Patty, then turned their attention to philanthropy with transformational gifts in health care, the arts, and education that have bolstered neurodegenerative research, championed creative works, and enriched the experience of post-secondary students.
The University of Manitoba is proud to award a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, to the Honourable Douglas D. Everett, an entrepreneur and philanthropist who fulfilled his civic duty to the highest accord.