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 18, 1978
Discipline / contribution: community service
Citation / biographical information:
Eminent chancellor, on behalf of the Council and Senate, I present to you William Burton Tufts.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Bill Tufts was born in Winnipeg on May 21, 1905. He attended public and high school there and took medicine at the University of Manitoba, graduating in 1928. He came to Saskatchewan to get some experience in general practice, planning to go to Edinburgh for his FRCS later. He practiced in Redvers and Arcola where he met a Manitoba nurse, Marion MacMurchy, and he forgot all about Edinburgh. In 1932 he moved to my part of the province to Outlook and soon after, to the dismay of all the single girls in Outlook, he and Marion were married. She is here this afternoon with her children, Ann and Bill. They lived in Outlook for the next twenty five years through the drought and the depression. Some of you grandparents here may recall, as I do, the hardships country doctors experienced in those days, the house calls by horse and sleigh whatever the weather, the long hours, no other doctors available to assist at operations, the lack of money and facilities during the thirties. Bill would take the train to the next town and walk back. He also found time to work for many community causes, serving at one time or other as chairman of every project they had in Outlook, including mayor. In 1957 he moved to Saskatoon as director of MSI, a prepaid medical care plan. In 1961 he moved to Regina as medical director of the Workmans Compensation Board. He is now retired and the Tufts still live in Regina and Bill is still active in the Rotary Club working to improve recreational facilities for the senior citizens of Regina.
But Bill's concerns during his days in Outlook were wider. The drought and dust of the thirties and the despair and desperation of his farmer patients led Dr. Tufts to work for a plan to build a dam on the South Saskatchewan River to provide irrigation water, a plan proposed by Pearce late in the 1800's. He got the municipal councils to band together for this project and then merged this group with the South Saskatchewan River Development Association headed by Harold Pope of Moose Jaw so that support could speak with one voice. Bill became chairman and for the next ten years Bill and the SRDA met the federal cabinet of Louis St. Laurent in Ottawa every year.
Their efforts kept this project before the federal cabinet and even though the Hogg Commission said it was too early to build the dam their persistence for this Saskatchewan project was rewarded when you, eminent chancellor, pushed the button on May 27, 1957, creating that big puff of black smoke that scared all of us. The SRDA philosophy that "the only heritage any race can leave their children is that they leave the country better than when they came" had paid off and in 1968 Bill was named Saskatchewan Salesman of the year. On the dam there is now a plaque which reads:
"Great enterprizes fail because people grow tired and faint hearted. But a country is built on the dreams of those who will not let them die."
I now present such a one to you, eminent chancellor, and ask that you confer on William Burton Tufts the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Degree presented by: Williard Kallio (University Senate)
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