Captain Doug Eaglesham’s contributions to community life in Alberta include mentoring countless young people through the Royal Canadian Air Cadets and as a leader and coach with various community activities. His long record of service also includes extensive contributions to the Village of Cayley, including duties as Mayor.
Douglas Elliott Eaglesham was born on November 26, 1952 in Kamloops, B.C. and raised in Cayley, Alberta, a small farming community south of Calgary. Doug and his two younger brothers, David and Denton, were kept busy with chores on the family’s mixed cattle and grain farm where they learned the value of hard work and gained inspiration from their parents’ strong example of citizenship. Doug took part in various youth activities, including Scouts and 4H, but didn’t find his niche until his father suggested he join the air cadets. The idea fed on a fascination for aviation that took root when an eight-year-old Doug watched the Royal Canadian Air Force demonstration team, the Golden Hawks, practice maneuvers above the Eaglesham farm in preparation for a Calgary Stampede performance. In 1965, he joined 187 High River Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Cadets, which later became Foothill Squadron, and was hooked on flying from his first trip in an old RCAF Otter. Although eyesight issues forced Doug to abandon any dreams of becoming a fighter pilot, he reveled in the traditions of the corps and embraced its central principles of discipline, teamwork, citizenship and leadership.
In 1971, Doug left home to attend Olds College where he completed the Agricultural Mechanics program and began working at a farm equipment dealership in Claresholm. In 1973, Doug married Marlene Wolfe, a fellow student from Olds College, and the couple went on to raise two sons, Douglas and Richard. A job with a large truck rental and repair firm in Edmonton allowed Doug to attend the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology where he earned certification as a Journeyman Automotive Technician in 1976. However, the Eagleshams knew that city life was not for them and decided to settle back in Cayley. Doug commuted to work at car dealerships in High River and Calgary and then, after more than 30 successful years with automotive firms, he left the industry to begin studies as an aircraft mechanic.
Throughout his career, Doug Eaglesham has always made it a priority to give back to his home and his fellow Albertans. His longest standing service has, without a doubt, been to the 187 Foothills Squadron Royal Canadian Air Cadets. In 1972, Doug was commissioned as a reserve officer in the Canadian Armed Forces and assigned to the Cadet Instructor Cadre. After a time with an Army Cadet Corps, he returned to his old squadron in 1976 where he would go on to earn recognition as one of the longest serving CIC officers in Canada. Thanks to Doug’s great devotion to the Canadian Cadet Organization, countless young Alberta men and women have been encouraged to embrace a spirit of adventure, learn valuable skills, develop their physical abilities and broaden their potential as strong and responsible citizens and future leaders.
Doug has served the squadron in every staff position, including four terms as the Commanding Officer. He has also made time for duties as a staff officer at the Air Cadet summer training centre in Penhold and the National Training Centre at CFB Cold Lake and as a member of the Cadet Instructor Cadre Regional Advisory Council responsible for guiding the professional development of CIC officers. One of his most important and enduring contributions to the organization began in 2000 when Doug undertook the task of creating a new home for the 187 Squadron. For years, the group had been subject to frequent moves and was at risk of collapse due to the lack of a permanent building. Doug led planning, fundraising and oversaw construction of an impressive new custom-built facility in High River. Completed in 2012 to mark the 70th anniversary of the squadron, the building offers a valuable new home and training resource that was built without incurring debt. It is owned and operated by the squadron and shared with other community groups such as the Navy League and 4H Club. The facility also provided a home for organizations displaced by the severe floods of 2013. Doug Eaglesham’s determination and vision with the project has ensured that young Albertans in southern Alberta will be able benefit from the cadet experience for generations to come.
Over the years, Doug has found further opportunities to give back as a member of the Cayley Village Council. He first ran in the 1979 municipal election and went on to serve on the council for 15 years, including two terms as Mayor. Doug’s work to foster the wellbeing of his home town and the general region include his 10-year term as Director of Disaster Services and his ensuing work to develop a much-needed disaster plan for the community. Doug also served as a member of the Cayley and District Recreation Board, which provided funding assistance for the building of the High River Recreation Centre and funded expansion and improvements to the International Order of Odd Fellows Lodge in Cayley and community playgrounds.
Other accomplishments on Doug’s long resume of community service include volunteer duties as a coach of junior curling teams in Calgary and Nanton, as a coach and umpire for Little League baseball and as a trainer for fellow league officials across Southern Alberta. He has further encouraged community youth as director of his local chapter of the Young Eagles Program which allows young Albertans to experience the excitement of flight. Doug is celebrated for his work to reestablish annual Remembrance Day services in Okotoks when the tradition was at risk following the closing of the local legion.
Doug has been awarded the Canadian Forces Decoration for his longstanding service, all served with the Cadet Instructor Cadre. He also holds the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, the Alberta Centennial Medal and the Officer Recognition Award from the Air Cadet League of Alberta.
Throughout his long tenure as a fixture of his community, Doug Eaglesham has offered a quiet and confident brand of leadership, humbly preferring to trumpet the accomplishments of the young people he mentors rather than his own. His guidepost for service along the way has been to remember three mottos: “If you never fail, you’re not trying hard enough.” “Service before self.” and “Did I make a difference?” If asked to answer that last question, all those who have worked with Doug and the countless young Albertans who have thrived thanks to his guidance and leadership would certainly offer a resounding “Yes!”
Doug and Marlene live in Cayley, Alberta. In addition to hobbies such as curling, cycling and hiking, Doug enjoys enjoy spending time with friends and their family which includes son Douglas Jr and Teresa and two grandsons Alexander and Elliott; son Richard and granddaughter Kaitrin.