N.B.: The detail displayed about each honorary degree recipient varies, as
the database was compiled from a variety of sources. However, more information may
be available at the University Archives.
Convocation date: May 13, 1955
Discipline / contribution: public service
Citation / biographical information:
Eminent Chancellor, I present to you the Honorable W.J. Patterson, Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan. Formerly cabinet minister and premier, presently Lieutenant Governor of our province, the Honorable Mr. Patterson has earned great distinction in the eyes of the people of Saskatchewan and indeed of Canada.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
William John Patterson was born at Grenfell, Saskatchewan. He thus has the added distinction of being the only one of our premiers or lieutenant governors to be born within the area which now constitutes Saskatchewan. This makes even more appropriate additional recognition in this, our Jublilee year.
A soldier with the Canadian Army during World War I, Lieutenant Patterson was wounded and was in a London Hospital when the armistice was signed. He returned to Saskatchewan studying law for a time, later opening an insurance agency in Windthorst.
In 1921 he was elected to the legislature representing the constituency of Pipestone, later known as Cannington. The esteem in which he was held by the poaplo of his constituency, and one measure of the service which he gave, is noted by his re-election on every successive occasion when he presented himself for re-election. This recognition is further emphasized if we remember that to achieve this he had to successfully withstand the freshet of 1929, the flood of 1944 and the, somewhat, ebb tide of 1948.
He became a cabinet minister in 1926. From then until 1935 he was, at different times, minister of Telegraphs and Telephones, Minister of Natural Resources and Provincial Treasurer.
As premier of Saskatchewan he was “honored with the burden end burdened with the honor” of leading our people during some of the most difficult and trying times in the history of our young province. Those were days when some people were moved to say:
“God will it never rain again? What about those /
clouds out west? No that’s just dust ... /
No rain, no crop, no feed, no faith, only wind.”
Those were years when :
“Poverty hand in hand with fear, two great /
Shri11-jointed skeletons strode loudly out /
Across the pitiful fields.”
I remind you of this because few people, even those who experienced, the full bitterness of personal economic depression may be able to appreciate the problems of government under such conditions. Fewer still will appreciate the demands which such problems put on him who loads a government during such times.
“Before the depression had concluded its onslaught we moved into the dreadful days of World War II. This again imposed special responsibilities on the premier.
Under his leadership, far reaching debt adjustment measures were introduced, aid proposals for Dominion-Provincial surveys with a flow to building not only a greater Saskatchewan bit a greater Canada, were initiated.
In 1948 his knowledge of public problems was again recognized by his appointment to the Board of Transport Commissioners. Then on July 4, 1951, he was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan.
As civil servant, soldier, cabinet minister, premier, member of the Board of Transport Commissioners and Lieutenant Governor, Mr. Patterson has served this province, and its people, with integrity and with devotion.
In the midst of this busy career he found time to be interested in the development of community activities, and particularly, in the individual prob1ems of many people.
Eminent Chancellor, on behalf of the Council and Senate of this university, I ask that you confer the degree of Doctor of laws, honoris causa, on His Honor, Lieutenant Governor W. J. Patterson.
Degree presented by: the Honorable Woodrow Lloyd, Minister of Education for Saskatchewan
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