Douglas Mitchell is a respected business and community leader who has brought great energy and commitment to a wide range of organizations. He has made invaluable contributions to the strength and viability of amateur and professional sports in Canada. Doug was born in Calgary, Alberta and raised in the city’s Crescent Heights neighbourhood. Like many young Canadian boys, he grew up playing school and recreation league sports and dreaming of becoming a great hockey or football player. Unlike most, he was able to fulfill both those dreams.
After high school, he attended Colorado College on a hockey scholarship and completed a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration. Doug then decided to study law at the University of British Columbia where he proved his great focus and versatility by completing his legal studies while playing football for the UBC Thunderbirds and then the BC Lions. During his years at UBC, Doug exhibited two qualities that would come to define his later career. Playing the traditional supporting role of a middle linebacker meant focusing his energies on doing what’s best for the team rather than seeking out personal glory. Keeping on top of demanding scholastic and sports schedules meant using his time wisely and focusing his energy on where it would have the greatest impact.
While at UBC, Doug also made an important decision that would change his life. He found his best friend and life partner when he married Lois Boulding. Doug played briefly for the Hamilton Tiger Cats; however, the desire to settle into careers and family life led the young couple back to Doug’s native Calgary. Doug started with the law firm of Howard, Mackie where he specialized in Corporate and Commercial Law. Doug and Lois’s family grew alongside their careers with the arrival of children Shelley, Steven, Sue Ann and Scott. Doug assumed increasingly senior positions with Howard, Mackie and took the leadership role. When the firm merged to become Borden Ladner Gervais, Doug also assumed responsibilities as National Co-Chair.
Throughout his legal career, Doug has continued to find ways to contribute to professional and amateur sport. After watching Canada sit out hockey competitions in the 1972 and ‘76 Olympics, Doug dedicated himself to reinvigorating the Canada Olympic Hockey program. He was instrumental in building the Calgary-based program and bringing the national team back to full force and onto the Olympic podium. During the early 1980’s, Doug also served as a member of the National Hockey League Board of Governors.
In 1984, Doug took a five-year break from his law firm to serve as Commissioner of the Canadian Football League. For many years, Doug also provided colour commentary for the Calgary Stampeders and, more recently, developed Legacy Sports Inc., which is a part owner of the Football Club. Throughout his career, Doug has played a leadership role in many other sports endeavours, including the 2001 World Track and Field Championships. He founded a national awards program, the BLG Awards, to honour Canadian University Athletes and has also served as a volunteer amateur football, hockey, soccer and baseball coach.
Although sports have been a great passion throughout Doug’s life, it is not the only area to benefit from his leadership. He has generously shared his time and skills with a wide range of organizations, including Chairman of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, the United Way of Calgary, The Calgary Booster Club, the Campbell McLaurin Foundation for the Hearing Handicapped, Theatre Calgary, the Calgary Zoo, Chairman of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Bar Association. He has also served as a leading advocate of Alberta’s economic development as Chair of the Alberta Economic Development Authority and founder of the Global Business Forum. Doug is proud to give back to his province and country as Honourary Lt. Colonel of the King’s Own Calgary Regiment. Doug’s exemplary record of community service has earned him numerous honours. He received the Lester Pearson Award as outstanding alumni of the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union. He is also a member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. In 2004, Doug was named one of the most influential Albertans in the province’s first 100 years. That same year, he became a member of the Order of Canada.
When asked to offer leadership advice to young people interested in following in his footsteps, either in the field of sports or law, Doug offers the same guidance. His says, “Learn how to be a team player and be unselfish in putting the needs of others ahead of your own.” Doug Mitchell has always lived that advice and, in doing so, he has served as a consummate example of what it means to be a team player. He also offers an outstanding role model for anyone looking for a way to give back to their community, province and country.
Executive Director, The Alberta Order of Excellence