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Douglas Tomlinson was born in Toronto in 1919. He moved to Montreal in 1929. He grew up in the working-class district of Verdun. The poverty he witnessed in this depression era community inspired him for a career as a social activist. After a 4-year career in the RCAF he was discharged in Winnipeg in 1945. From there he went to Edmonton where he pursued his political interests in a variety of groups including Technocracy and The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). The many campaigns he participated in included organization for unemployment insurance, nationally funded health care, and the union movement.