Virginia Isabel Douglas (01/28/1927 - 12/08/2017)

Professor Emeritus

Virginia Douglas
Dr. 'Ginny' Douglas

Professor Douglas was the former Chair of the McGill University’s Psychology Department, former president of Canadian Psychological Association, and a Canadian Psychological Association Gold Medal winner.

Viginia Isabel Douglas passed away in her residence in Halifax on December 8, 2017. Virginia was born in London, Ont., on January 28, 1927 to James Clifford Baker and Isabel Morton Hird. She was predeceased by her second husband, John Bradley Lewis. Virginia is survived by her son, Donald "Don" James Douglas (Jessica); grandchildren, Heather Alix Douglas and W.J. Robertson "Roby" Douglas; first husband, W.J. Murray Douglas and her stepchildren, Deborah (Wolfgang) Judith and Michael Lewis.

Virginia was born into a Scottish family where "education was everything." She completed her BA (Queen's University) followed by her Master's Degrees in Social Work and Psychology and PhD in Psychology (University of Michigan). Her career was spent as a psychologist and Professor Emerita at McGill University. She served as both Chair of the Department and leader of the clinical program at McGill's Department of Psychology. Virginia went to the office and participated in departmental meetings well into her late 80's.

For most of her years at McGill, Virginia also held a clinical position at the Montreal Children's Hospital. This was important as it provided direct interaction and the capacity to help children and their parents to better understand and cope with ADD/ADHD. In the early 1970s, Virginia made major contributions to the understanding and treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

As a result of her research, the diagnosis of attention deficit disorder (ADD) (with or without hyperactivity) was formalized into the medical literature. Virginia was a pioneer for women in Canada who wanted to work in science/psychology.

Virginia served as the President of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) and received the Association's Gold Medal for Distinguished Lifetime Contributions to Canadian Psychology in 2004. Virginia received numerous other honours and awards including: the Canadian Silver Jubilee Medal, First Recipient of the Canadian Psychological Association's Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology and the Distinguished Contribution Award by the American Psychological Association. Virginia pursued her efforts to improve both academic and practical understanding at the international level, promoting child psychology in Cuba and travelling across China as a member of Canada's Science-Technology organization.

Virginia enjoyed being in - and on - the water. She spent happy times over many years in Barbados. She loved to assist her marine biologist husband, John Lewis in skin diving, observing and collecting specimens on the coral reefs. Whether atthe cottage in the Laurentians or in tropical water, Virginia was an avid swimmer and particularly loved a last swim late in the day when everything was calm.

Virginia loved being in boats both large and small. She took every opportunity to spend time sailing in the family's boats in the waters off Nova Scotia. Virginia was able to blend her formidable career with being a wonderful and caring mother and grandmother. She loved to tell people that she had made a great return on her investment of having only one child in having two grandchildren. Virginia enjoyed time with her family and provided both wisdom and praise right through to her last day on Earth.

Virginia was an absolute Montrealer and active member of the McGill University community. She loved the content, style and colour of Montreal and its surroundings. Virginia had an great eye for style, colour and fashion and was on a first-name basis with many of the sales ladies at her beloved Ogilvy's.

While living in Montreal, Virginia shared close to 40 years of love as wife to John Bradley Lewis (1925-2017), Professor Emeritus at McGill's Department of Biology.

Virginia was a very much loved and revered wife, mother, grandmother, friend, teacher and mentor. The family wishes to thank the wonderful caregivers who spent time with Virginia, together with the kind staff at Parkland at the Gardens and Home Instead. The family is having a private get together in Halifax and a Celebration of Life is being planned to take place in Montreal in Spring 2018.


Wikipedia article highlighting Prof. Douglas’ research career.


Selected references highlighting Prof. Douglas’ research:

Berman, T., Douglas, V.I., & Barr, R.G. (1998). Effects of Methylphenidate on complex cognitive processing in Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 108, 90-105.

Douglas, V. I. (1972). Stop, look, and listen! The problem of sustained attention and impulse control in hyperactive and normal children. Canadian Journal of Behavorial Science, 4, 259-282.

Douglas, V. I. (1999). Cognitive control processes in Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In H. C. Quay, & A. E. Hogan (Eds.), Handbook of disruptive behavior disorders (pp. 105-138). New York: Plenum Publishing Company.

Douglas, V. I. (2005). Cognitive deficits in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A long-term follow-up. Canadian Psychology, 46, 23-31.

Douglas, V. I., Parry, P., Marton, P., & Garson, C. (1976). Assessment of a cognitive training program for hyperactive children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 4, 389-410.

Weiss, G., Minde, K., Werry, J.S., Douglas, V., & Nemeth, E. (1971). Studies on the hyperactive child: VIII. Five-year follow-up. Archives of General Psychiatry, 24, 409-414.


Photo Credits:

Don Douglas

Cook, Maria (2001, December 9). Young and disorderly. The Ottawa Citizen.


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