In Memorium: Douglas Mac Murray "Murray" Young

Murray Young, radar mechanic passes


It is with great sadness that we report the death of DOUGLAS MAC MURRAY YOUNG at the Veterans Health Unit on December 18, 2017. Murray, the son of Harold M. and Amelia ("Millie" Foreman) Young, was born at Taymouth, N.B. on July 11, 1922.

Douglas Mac Murray Young 1922-2017.jpeg

Murray was educated in Marysville and Fredericton schools and received a teaching diploma from the Provincial Normal School. After teaching in rural schools for two years, he joined the RCAF, training as a radar technician. He was sent to Britain where, from 1942-45, he repaired radar equipment and monitored enemy aircraft and shipping. Returning to Canada at the end of the war, he entered the University of New Brunswick and graduated with an Honours degree in English and History. Like so many returning veterans, he took a lively interest in politics and, while still a student, he stood as a candidate for the CCF Party in both a provincial and a federal election. He then entered the University of Toronto to work towards a Master’s degree but an offer of a Beaverbrook Overseas Scholarship led to study at King’s College, London University, where he obtained a Ph.D. in Imperial History. His resulting book, The Colonial Office in the Early Nineteenth Century, is still a leading source on the subject.

After teaching for four years at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Murray received a Ford Foundation Fellowship to take a postdoctoral course on African History at Boston University. He then returned to his alma mater and taught at UNB for the rest of his career. He regarded teaching as the most important facet of his work. He always tried to give his students a wide understanding and was particularly good at placing events in a broad context. He served a term as departmental chair, supervised many theses, and was active on many university committees, including as a faculty representative on the Board of Governors. His well-received public lectures helped to expand the interest in local history, while his own broad interests ranged from imperial and colonial administrative history to the history of decolonization of Africa, and the evolution of New Brunswick as a province of Great Britain, then of Canada. He wrote numerous book reviews and articles, including biographies for the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. His extensive contributions to local history were recognized by the Fredericton Region Museum with the Martha J. Harvey Award (1993) and also by the Marysville Heritage Committee with the first D. Murray Young Heritage Award (2006), named in his honour.

Murray was always kind to others and his quick wit and sense of humour often led to family fun. He loved long walks in the countryside and we celebrated many happy occasions at family gatherings. Much beloved by his family, Murray appreciated the care given to him by his sisters in his early life, after the death of his mother. He is survived by Mary, his wife of 63 years; by his three children, Christopher (Pamela) Young, Graham (Vicki) Young, and Carolyn Young (John Thistle); by five granddaughters, Gillian and Rachael Young, Erica and Juliana Young, and Fiona Thistle; two sisters-in-law, Delia Hachey and Muriel Young; as well as many nephews, nieces and several cousins.

He was pre-deceased by his parents; step-mother, Jennie V. Young; his sisters, Rhoda Sandberg, Grace Bawn, Phyllis Burpee, Marguarita ("Rhete") Dorcas and Jean Burden; as well as two brothers, Mullan and Guy Young.

His family thank the staff of the Veterans Health Unit for their great kindness to Murray while under their care.

A celebration of Murray’s life will be held at J.A. McAdam Memorial Chapel on Saturday, January 13, 2018 at 2 pm with Archdeacon John Sharpe officiating. For those who wish and in lieu of flowers, donations in Murray’s memory can be made to the "Dr. D. Murray Young Fund" for hiring historical researchers at the University of New Brunswick, or to a charity of the donor’s choice.

A Typo Leads to a Tradition

Did you know that you can track Santa every December 24th? NORAD uses radar to track down Santa as he makes his way delivering presents around the world. (

Every year on Christmas Eve, NORAD watches for an unidentified aircraft—a sleigh and reindeer—with radar! Well, how did this tradition begin? It all goes back to a misprint in a Colorado Springs newspaper advertisement.

The Santa Tracker tradition started with this Sears ad, which instructed children to call Santa on what turned out to be a secret military hotline. Kids today can call 1-877 HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) to talk to NORAD staff about Santa's exact location.

The Santa Tracker tradition started with this Sears ad, which instructed children to call Santa on what turned out to be a secret military hotline. Kids today can call 1-877 HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) to talk to NORAD staff about Santa's exact location.

In 1955, Sears released an ad that read “Hey Kiddies, call me direct on my private telephone!” and gave a phone number. To the great surprise of Col. Harry Shoup, commanding officer at the Continental Air Defense Command (NORAD’s predecessor), the printed number went to the secret command hotline on his desk. Initially believing the little voice on the other end to be a prankster, Shoup got irritated, but realised when the little voice began crying that he was talking to a young child. One call after another came in and Shoup ended up assigning airmen to take the calls, posing as Santa Claus. The base had a large, glass board with the United States and Canada on it, on which they would track aircraft. On Christmas Eve that year, Shoup found that someone had drawn a sleigh with reindeer on the board, and an idea struck him. He called a local radio station, identified himself as the commander at the Air Defense Command centre and announced that they were tracking Santa. Over the course of the evening, radio stations would call in for an update on Santa’s whereabouts and a tradition was born.

NORAD was created during the Cold War to defend the North American continent from airborne attack. Even after the end of the Cold War, NORAD still keeps a vigilant eye on the skies over and surrounding North America, with interceptors on alert to respond to unidentified aircraft.

The Secrets of Radar Museum and 427 (London) Wing: the Spirit of Fight and Aviation Museum—located side by side at 2155 Crumlin Side Road—tell the stories of the Cold War veterans, who have direct experience with air surveillance. This would not have been possible without the expertise of thousands of men and women serving on and developing radar technology during the Second World War. Thanks to these veterans, the Santa tracking technology was developed!

SORM is open regular hours, 10AM-4PM Thursday through Saturday, even during the holidays.