Dr Jefferson Davidson – Scientist and Politician

By Victor Laptiste

One of the most familiar personalities in East Tobago is Dr Jefferson Davidson who was one of the pioneers of the Tobago House of Assembly. For several decades he has studied and shaped for himself careers both as a Research Scientist and later as a Politician in the service of the people of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago.

He was born in Roxborough and attended the Ebenezer Methodist Primary School from which he won a Government Exhibition to Bishop's High School.

He was a student there for three years then moved on to Queens Royal College where he met two other brilliant students from Tobago – Dodderidge Alleyne and Eugenio Moore who were from Charlotteville. He took the Cambridge School Certificate Examinations and won the General Science Prize.

He was a voracious reader and while he lived in Port-of-Spain he spent hours in the Knox Street Library each day. There was also time for activities at the Moulton Hall Literary and Cultural Club where he served as President for nine years. His first job was as a Teacher at the Charlotteville Methodist School where he taught for one year then worked in Works Department, Scarborough as an Accounts Clerk.

While considering his options for further education he was transferred to Trinidad where he worked in several Divisions before leaving to further his studies. He chose to attend Acadia University in Nova Scotia to pursue a Bachelor of Science Degree specialising in Bacteriology and Physiology.

He had excellent grades and was on the' Dean's List' so he obtained scholarships for years three and four. He featured in debates and at their Mock Parliament was chosen as Speaker of the House.

He was intrigued by this experience and it served him well in later years; he was also Captain of the University's Track & Field Team.

He worked as a Porter on the Canadian National Railways to earn extra funds and to gain work experience. He also taught for a year at a Junior Secondary School and the Principal was so impressed with the standard of his teaching that he paid him extra wages.

After graduation in 1958 he journeyed to Cornell University in the United States to study for his Masters Degree majoring in Animal Genetics.

He decided to do Research instead of Medicine and his Thesis was on Fetal Mummification in Animals. He returned to Canada where he enrolled at McGill University to pursue his Doctorate; there he did studies in Physiology and Genetics. His Thesis was on 'The Study of the Genetics of Hare Lip and Cleft Palate.'

Back home in Trinidad he was eventually assigned to the Ministry of Agriculture as the first Livestock Officer in a Project at the St Joseph Government Farm where the Government was trying to develop a breed of cattle which would produce much milk and not be susceptible to tropical diseases. As a Livestock Officer he was chosen to go to farms in North America to purchase nine-month old Holstein calves for the Project in Trinidad & Tobago; there was also the study on pangola grass for pastures in the country.

On his return to Trinidad he had teaching assignments at the University of the West Indies where he lectured part-time for two years on Animal Genetics. He resigned from the Public Service and purchased a Dairy Farm at O'Meara where he successfully reared up to 50 head of dairy cattle for a few years .He then had an assignment with the Caribbean Development Bank with a Team which was doing an assessment of Agricultural Lending Policies throughout the islands.

In 1980 a new chapter in his life began when he was called to the service of Tobago as the struggle for autonomy was one step closer with the passage of Act 37 of 1980 in Parliament and the imminent establishment of the Tobago House of Assembly. He was to play a key role when he was elected as the Representative for the Belle Garden/Goodwood Constituency and was sworn in as the Deputy Chairman and Secretary for Agriculture.

For 15 years until 1995 he represented the people of that District and for the last four years (1996- 2000) he was elected as the first Presiding Officer of the House after acting as Chairman for a period.

This Senior Statesman is enjoying his golden years as he works along with his wife Barbara at their Medical Laboratory and finds great satisfaction in updating himself on current issues and singing in the Ebenezer Methodist Choir.

His message to Tobago is: 'Given the present environment of Constitutional Reform I would like to see the people of Tobago be given responsibility to manage their own affairs within the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago.'

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Ingram said on Tuesday, Apr 3 at 9:38 PM

If my memory serves me right I think Dr. Davidson was Secretary for Education in the THA at one time.

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Sandra said on Saturday, Mar 31 at 3:10 PM

It is so refreshing to read these types of articles. It would be a beautiful idea to develop a series about inspirational persons from Tobago, from ALL walks of life, as a motivation to the community. If this is already being done....Kudos to you!

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