William Holmes Dougan
1872 - 1962
William Holmes Dougan was born near Seattle, Washington, on December 8, 1872, and was a member of a very old American family. He was a nephew of the late Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was Chief Justice of the USA during the Roosevelt administration. His climbing career began in the mid 1890's and he was a member of the newly formed Mazamas from 1899 to 1903. The Mazamas was founded in 1894 on the summit of Mount Hood and became a non-profit mountaineering education organization based in Portland, Oregon. An old newspaper clipping records an ascent of Mount Adam in 1902 with the Mazamas that included Oregon Governor Theodore Geer and William Dougan.
Dougan was an experienced mountaineer by the time he moved to Victoria in 1911 and subsequently joined the Alpine Club of Canada. Dougan then attended a number of ACC Annual Camps from 1911 to the late 1920's and became a close friend of Arthur Wheeler. From 1924 to 1927 he was Chairman of the Vancouver Island section of the ACC and was active in the section until about 1940. In 1928 he was involved in the exploration of the Forbidden Plateau region with a party from the Vancouver Island section of the ACC and local Courtenay mountaineers. After striking up Mount Becher the party proceeded on to Eugene Croteau's camp and then a large group ascended Mount Albert Edward. With the weather being in their favour and plenty of food in camp a party then decided to make an ascent of the unclimbed Castle Mountain (now Castlecrag.) Dougan was a member of the party that included Claude Harrison, Ben Hughes, Sid Williams, C. Berkeley and his daughter Alfreda, Miss Rena Jones, C.K. Chadwick and Dick Todd.
He was an extremely active man; a great lover of the outdoor's and had little interest in anything that didn't involve hard work. To get him to go on a trip merely for pleasure was next to impossible, but for a work party he was the first to volunteer. He lived in the present and around the campfire would discuss the job to be done tomorrow. Today and yesterday's work was past so there was no point in discussing it.
During the 1940's his eyesight
failed, forcing him to give up most of his associations, but he never
forgot a voice he had known. One could pass within a few feet of him on
the street and he would not recognize you, but say "Good Morning,"
and he would call you by name. William Holmes Dougan died in Victoria
on August 19, 1962, at the age of eighty-nine.
"Scale Virgin Peak on Plateau." Comox Argus. [Courtenay, B.C.] (July 26, 1928) p. 1 & 8.
"Castle Mountain is Picturesque." Comox Argus. [Courtenay, B.C.] (August 2, 1928) p. 1 and 4.