Doug was born in Calgary, Alberta and raised in the city’s Crescent Heights neighbourhood. 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.
He and his wife, Lois, and their first child returned to Doug’s native Calgary where he started with the law firm of Howard, Mackie. When he initiated the firm’s merger in 2000 to become Borden Ladner Gervais, Doug also assumed responsibilities as National Co-Chair.
Throughout his legal career, Doug 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 the arena. During the early 1980’s, Doug also served as a member of the National Hockey League Board of Governors.
For many years, Doug provided colour commentary for the Calgary Stampeders. He developed Legacy Sports Inc. as a part owner of the Football Club. From 1984 to 1989 he served as Commissioner of the Canadian Football League. Throughout his career, Doug 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 more recently the U Sports Alumni Awards to recognize former university athletes who have become successful in their careers and continue to give back to their communities and alma mater. Doug also founded Makadiff Sports, a non-profit organization that grants funds to grassroots sports initiatives. The Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre on the campus of UBC and the Mitchell Bowl semifinal of U Sports Football are named in his honour.
In addition to sports, Doug generously shared his time and skills with a wide range of organizations. He served as Chairman of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, the Campbell McLaurin Foundation for the Hearing Handicapped, the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Bar Association, the Alberta Economic Development Authority, the Calgary Airport Authority, and was founder and Co-Chair of the Global Business Forum. He was also a Director for the United Way of Calgary, The Calgary Booster Club, Theatre Calgary, the Calgary Zoo, the Canadian Olympic Foundation, EPCOR and AltaLink.
Doug was 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 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, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Football 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. He was inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2007.
Doug Mitchell was a respected business and community leader who brought great energy and commitment to a wide range of organizations. He made invaluable contributions to the strength and viability of amateur and professional sports in Canada.