Doug P van Wolde
President 2018

by Myra Chepack

Doug, the eldest of two boys was born on May 4th, l969 to Chuck and Gail (Gallagher). Mom grew up in Sturgeon Falls, Ontario and Dad came to Canada from Holland, arriving at Pier 21 in Halifax. Doug has journeyed twice to Halifax to further research his Father’s arrival. Dad’s middle names were given to each of his sons and Doug was given his Father’s name as a middle name, which was Petrus, Dutch for Peter. Doug’s Dad was an auto mechanic, providing him with skills his folks utilized in their enjoyment of cross country car rallies.

Doug P van Wolde  President 2018

Doug P van Wolde
President 2018

Brother, Eric and wife Sue, live close by, in Claremont, Ont. Their son, Finley, who is ten years old is right into hockey and loves the monster truck exhibition at the Fair.

The van Wolde family lived in Scarborough, at Midland and Finch, when Doug was young. His elementary school was Saint-Jean-de-Lalande at Sandhurst Cirlce and Finch, which was only the second French School in the Toronto area at the time. His first language being French, Doug graduated grade eight, despite the fact that the family had relocated to Markham and Doug’s Mom had to drive Doug daily after the move. Doug lived next to MDHS on Church Street and eventually stopped carrying all of his daily requirements to school in the morning. It was just as easy to slip home for supplies/lunch, etc.! Doug had been involved with the Boy Scout movement in Scarborough and continued his interest in this organization when he moved to Markham. It was to be his key to making new friends and developing new interests. He was offered a part-time job at the Mister Pet store, located in the first version of Markville Mall. Tropical fish had been one of Doug’s passions and combined with his knowledge of rodents and reptiles, he brought an air of expertise to those areas of the store. The pet store (along with the entire mall) closed on a Sunday. The three employees took the kittens and puppies home overnight on Saturdays, so that they would not be alone all day Sunday. Doug bred and maintained the same fish colony for eighteen years in his home, in an outstandingly beautiful and massive tank. While in grade nine, Doug purchased his first SLR camera and proceeded to participate in the co-op program with Markham Photo on Main Street and also Wellington Photo, located in Sherwood Plaza. By grade ten, he was a knowledgeable and aspiring professional photographer. His experience allowed him to mentor other students in his photography classes and introduced him to a lifelong pursuit.

After high school, Doug worked for Honda in sales and parts and then moved into marketing with Levi’s. While in the garment industry he attended trade shows and discovered the value of learning from others in the trade. Later in life, Doug went on to graduate from Durham College in Project Management providing him with skills he uses in his everyday life and particularly helpful at the Fair.

Although they had both attended MDHS, Doug met his future wife Sarah (Hamnett) through mutual friends. Doug was an active volunteer at the Fair when they met and he pointed out to Sarah that if she wanted to see him on Fair week-end, she would have to attend the Fair! In fact, Doug maintains becoming a member of the Fair was a condition of their continued dating! She did and they were married on August 23rd, 1997. Sarah was smitten by the Fair and ultimately became Home Craft President in 2002, as well as volunteering on the Beef Cattle committee. Sarah is employed in the finance industry working with a team who help Canadians export goods to all parts of the world. They currently reside in Goodwood, but lived for a number of years in Brooklin, which is very close to where the President of 1917 lived years ago!

Doug exhibited for the first time at the Fair when he was in grade nine. He was a volunteer by his second year and became a Board Member in 2003. He has been involved with the Fair for thirty years, working on many committees, including governance, and staff support. The experience he gained developing the Canadian version of Levi’s first web site defined his specific interest in the Fair back in the late nineties. He was encouraged by Past President Paul Donahoe, whose influence allowed Doug to be part of an IT team evolving a computer program for the Fair that is still in use to-day. Despite the usual resistance to change, he was able to register a domain name, in 1996 and create a web site, in 1997 with the blessing of the then General Manager Dave Morrison. Doug operates his own internet marketing and web development business at the present time.

Doug brings a strong corporate style leadership to his role on the Board. He has been a strong advocate for the implementation of producing an animal care guide, the public safety program, the crisis management plan and standard operating procedures. He takes the long view on sustainability and the longevity of the Fair. He spends much of his family vacation visiting other fairs and employing the skills he learned many years ago at trade shows. Those being, the art of talking and listening to others about their thoughts regarding many of the same issues Markham Fair faces. He is also an active participant in Agricultural and Fair Management groups.

Doug considers the members of the Board along with many volunteers and staff to be his long time friends as well as advocates for the Fair. He is excited to fulfill his role of President this year but his focus is very much on the future needs and betterment of the Fair, in years to come. He envisions growth and perhaps community partnerships to address the very real and expensive infrastructure maintenance required. The Fair can only benefit from the foresight and commitment Doug brings to the 2018 Presidency.