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Remember This? Full-time scientist, part-time politician

Famous for the bug-killing bacteria he discovered, Tom Angus also went on to make a name for himself at city hall

From the archives of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library:

Remember This . . . Dr. Tom Angus

Thomas Anderson Angus was born in Toronto in 1915.

After completing high school he began working in a men’s haberdashery until the Second World War began. This actually became a turning point in his life. He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar for his service as a bombardier navigator. At the end of the war, opportunities were provided to veterans to further their education so Tom Angus decided to attend the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph in order to obtain his degree in biology. He eventually continued on to obtain his masters from the University of Toronto and his PhD in microbiology from McGill University.

Beginning in 1948, he came to Sault Ste. Marie to spend the summers working at the Insect Pathology Laboratory (commonly referred to as the Bug Lab) as a student assistant. After he graduated he was then hired as a research officer (research scientist). In 1958, he gained worldwide acclaim with his discovery of a toxin-producing bacteria, and working with Dr. Arthur Heimpel this led to the development of the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) which was then used around the world as an environmentally friendly way of controlling insect pests in forestry and agriculture.

In 1970, Tom Angus was appointed as the Associate Director of the Insect Pathology Research Institute, which later became the Forest Pest Management Institute. Well-liked by his fellow researchers and staff he was known for his sense of humour and was often in demand as a public speaker.

Perhaps it was this love of public speaking that inspired Dr. Tom Angus to pursue an additional “career” in municipal politics. Tom Angus was quoted as saying, “Some guys golf, some guys fish, I just dabbled around in politics.”

This “hobby” lasted for 31 years!

He was first elected to council as a Ward 1 alderman in 1959 and continued to be re-elected in each election until 1991 when he decided to step down from municipal politics. Due to a restructuring of ward boundaries in 1980, he eventually ended up representing Ward 2. Although he was often approached to run for mayor he felt that he could be more effective as an alderman.

In 1991, then Mayor Joe Fratesi described Dr. Tom Angus as “intelligent, sharp, dedicated and an excellent asset to council.” When asked about this political experience, Dr. Angus said, “he tried to stand for a reasonable point of view. I looked at issues and tried to decide them in a sound way, bearing in mind there is only so much money and only so much you can do. You can’t solve all the problems in the world.”

He would often look at both sides of an issue and frequently would come up with a compromise that both sides could accept.

Dr. Angus loved his adopted community and spent his entire life trying to improve the life of its citizens. He married his wife Jane and they raised their family in Sault Ste. Marie. He was a founding governor of Sault College, chairman and board member of the Algoma Health Unit, sat on the Algoma University College board of governors, the city’s emergency planning committee and was a director of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Despite his many accomplishments, both as a research scientist and as an alderman, he remained very humble and was a friend to many. When his heath began to fail he moved to London to be near his two daughters and their families. Four years later he passed away on June 16, 2005, shortly before his 90th birthday.

Perhaps the highest compliment that could be paid to Dr. Tom Angus was that above and beyond everything else, he was described as a real gentleman.

Each week, the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library and its Archives provides SooToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.

Find out more of what the Public Library has to offer at and look for more Remember This? columns here