Morton House – Where Transition Leads to Transformation

Doug Morton, born in rural New Brunswick in 1916, was a man of many accomplishments. Raised on a farm alongside his siblings Lloyd and Doris, his early life was shaped by his father Harry’s grocery store business, which unfortunately went bankrupt during the Depression. This led to the family’s relocation to Toronto, where Doug took on a summer job at a popsicle factory while attending school.

His path took a turn towards law when he enrolled at the University of Toronto, only to be interrupted by World War II. Despite wanting to serve closer to home, social restrictions at the time led him to join the New Brunswick-based North Regiment as a lieutenant. While stationed in England, his legal talents were recognized, keeping him busy as a court-martial lawyer.

Finally deployed to Europe in 1943, Doug fortunately returned home safely after the war. He resumed his studies, graduating from law school in 1947, the same year he married Mona. Together, they raised three children: Murray, Bruce, and Jean.

Doug’s dedication to public service went beyond law. He entered politics in the early 1950s as a school board trustee, eventually becoming its chair in 1956. This was followed by his election to Parliament in 1957 and 1958, representing Davenport riding under Prime Minister Diefenbaker. Though defeated in later elections, he continued his legal career alongside partner George Malo.

In 1970, Doug’s life took another turn as he was appointed a family court judge for Simcoe County. This tenure saw him leave a lasting mark with the establishment of Morton Youth Services in 1980. This organization’s crown jewel was Morton House, an innovative open custody facility for juveniles, founded in 1980. Here, young offenders received rehabilitation instead of traditional incarceration.

Doug retired as a judge in 1996, with Morton House continuing its mission until its closure by the Ontario government in 2019. However, the story doesn’t end there. Partnering with Youth Haven, Morton House found a new purpose during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its industrial kitchen became a lifeline, preparing meals for youth experiencing homelessness. Today, Morton House continues to serve as a youth transitional home, a testament to Doug Morton’s legacy of service.

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