After more than four decades of dedicated service, Doug McCaig has retired from the Fort Frances Power Corp.
McCaig, who most recently was chair of the FFPC’s board of directors, said he stepped down due to recent health issues.
“Last summer I had a bad stroke,” he told the Times yesterday.
“I have trouble making some of the meetings because I have to depend on somebody else to get there, that sort of thing,” he noted.
“There’s some pretty interesting stuff coming in at the power corp. and I don’t know how much of myself I can give to it,” added McCaig, who has offered to serve in an advisory role if needed.
McCaig first was elected to the Fort Frances Public Utilities Commission in 1972, and remained with the utility through incorporation to its present incarnation as the FFPC.
Over the past 43 years, McCaig had tenures as chairman of the Municipal Electrical Association (now known as the Electricity Distributors Association) and chairman of the Municipal Electrical Association Reciprocal Insurance Exchange (MEARIE).
He also was appointed to Ontario Hydro’s board of directors.
When asked why he dedicated more than 40 years to the energy field, McCaig replied: “Because I like doing it.”
“I had a good career,” he noted. “I’ve had a pretty interesting time.
“I was with some pretty interesting people.”
McCaig said energy is “the top of the heap” when it comes to political issues and it’s kept him engaged for decades.
“You hear it every day and every election,” he remarked.
“We don’t have any friends in the government when it comes to electricity—we’ve got to fight for every inch of the way,” he stressed.
“We have the special power agreement and that’s one thing we have to fight hard for,” McCaig added, explaining the FFPC directors are the stewards of it.
“That was my pet project. I watched over that very closely,” he noted. “We have to preserve that power agreement.
“That’s worth a lot of money to the ratepayers and that’s who we’re supposed to be acting in the best interest of.”
Another highlight was the FFPC’s involvement in the Northwest Mobility cellphone service, which ended up making the town $1.5 million when it was recommended the town sell it to Tbaytel.
“It’s been an interesting ride,” McCaig reiterated. “I talked to my son, Mark, about it, and he said, ‘You know, you got no place else to go, Dad. You might as well go out while you’re ahead of the game.’
“And that’s true. I gave it my best shot,” he added.
“I hope it was good enough. I hope it sets a pattern.”
Mayor Roy Avis, who is the town’s rep on the FFPC board, said he sat down with McCaig to discuss his retirement and it was obvious to him that this was a very difficult decision.
“Considering his recent health issues, Doug felt it was time to step aside and focus on his family and his recovery,” the mayor noted.
“After working with him for many years, I can attest to the compassion and commitment [with which] he served our citizens and the province,” he added.
“Our electrical utility meant a great deal to Doug and his final words to me on the subject were to protect our power agreement at all costs.”
Mayor Avis and council thanked McCaig for his distinguished service, noting McCaig promised that if the town ever needed any advice, he would be there to help in any way he can.
Charlie Macaluso, former president and CEO of the MEA, also had kind words to share.
“I had the pleasure of working closely with Doug McCaig when he served as a member of the Municipal Electrical Association board of directors, including chairing the association in 1992,” Macaluso said in a press release from the town.
“He never failed to act as a champion of behalf of his community and the electricity customers of Ontario,” he added.
“Best wishes to Doug as he retires following decades of outstanding public service to the people of Fort Frances and, indeed, the entire province.”
Former MPP, Attorney General, and provincial NDP leader Howard Hampton noted in that same press release that McCaig nominated him the first time he ran for the party back in 1977.
He also gave “a wonderful and funny speech” at Hampton’s wedding when McCaig made the toast to the groom.
“Most of all, he has been a mentor and guiding hand for me since I was 13 years old and now I am 63,” Hampton remarked.
“Hundreds of students who passed through Fort Frances High School got both the guiding hand and the ‘kick in the butt’ from Doug McCaig—and have lived better lives because he cared about them,” he added.