My first encounter with Doug was an indirect one: on the evening of the Provincial General Election of 1996, before the phones started to ring with results, I was in “election central” chatting with Charles MacKay, Clerk Assistant of the Legislative Assembly, who was running the logistics operation.
Charlie described to me how he’d gone into the attic of Province House to retrieve the materials for election night, and found there an impeccably organized collection: in-boxes and out-boxes and signs and instructions. This, he told me, was Doug Boylan at work, Doug from whom Charlie had inherited the election central managerial role.
Eventually I got to meet Doug himself, at several of Catherine Hennessey’s parties over the years, but our relationship didn’t really cement until, many years later, we ended up as breakfast regulars at Casa Mia Café on Queen Street. Every morning for several years, after dropping Oliver off at school, I would walk down to Casa Mia for coffee and a muffin and, more days than not, I would find Doug at a table near the front, carefully writing in a complex-looking set of books and binders I never learned the nature of.
Every now and again, when it looked like I wouldn’t be disturbing him too much, I’d stop for a chat on my way out the door. We’d talk politics, and Province House, and the Development Plan, and all manner of topics around and about Prince Edward Island. Doug had a cynical air about him, but it was a cynicism born of experience, and one rooted in a love for this province and its institutions. I suspect that, given his many roles in the public administration of the province, there was no single person who knew where the bodies were buried more than he (I may, in his memory, finally seek to determine which former deputy minister absconded with the cannons that formerly graced the front yard of Province House).
Doug became an enthusiastic supporter of my letterpress printing efforts, and was one of my Mail Me Something subscribers in 2011 (he was among the few the contributed financially to the effort: upon my return from Berlin that summer I found an envelope with a $20 bill and a thank you waiting in our mailbox). We exchanged more than a few emails over the years about typefaces and design.
Goodbye, Doug; you will be missed.