THE ADVOCATE ADVOCATE V O L . 7 8 P A R T 2 M A R C H 2 0 2 0 175
LEONARD T. DOUST, Q.C.
By Ken Smith, Lisa Martz, Bronson Toy, Michael Feder, Q.C., Bill Smart, Q.C.,
and Pike Bishop
Len Doust was born on February 5, 1941 in Geraldton, Ontario, a
gold-mining town north of what is now Thunder Bay, where his
father worked as a miner. In 1943, his father obtained work with
the Canadian National Railway in Fort William (now Thunder
Bay) and, chasing his father’s employment, the family (Len, his mother and
father and his beloved sister Donna) moved between Fort William, Rainy
River and then finally to Sioux Lookout, a small town on the CNR mainline
in northwestern Ontario.
Len worked too. He started out delivering newspapers—and, later, medical
prescriptions—on his bicycle, sometimes in temperatures as low as
-45°C. In Sioux Lookout, he had a trapline for rabbits, which he sold to a local
mink farm. He also worked during school holidays in the local creosote plant
on the midnight shift, stacking green railroad ties to dry before they were
infused with creosote. Leaving his shift at 8:00 a.m., he began a second job
at 8:30 a.m. unloading the green ties from the boxcars that delivered them.
Len’s father was the local union shop steward in Sioux Lookout, and the
Doust house was subjected at all hours of the day and night to union members
calling on him for his assistance with their disputes with railway management.
Len recalls that his father was genuinely liked and respected by
the working men and their families, and he wanted to strive for that esteem
himself. Len has never forgotten a conversation that took place when he
was 15 years old and he and his friends were discussing what they would
become after high school. When Len said he would be a lawyer the others
scoffed at his pretentiousness, but one of his closest friends said, “You guys
don’t know Len. If he says he’ll be a lawyer, then he’ll be a lawyer.” Following
an unsuccessful tryout for the Regina Pats, the western junior affiliate