Great Canadian Dyslexic: Dr. Angus Reid

GCD Angus Reid


Angus Reid


Regina, Saskatchewan — December 17, 1947

Current home: Vancouver, BC


Dr. Angus Reid is one of Canada’s best-known and longest-practicing pollsters; he is Chair of the Angus Reid Institute, which he founded in October 2014. This is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of public opinion research in Canada on critical social, economic and policy issues.

He is the recipient of a Canada Council Doctoral Fellowship, the Entrepreneur of the Year award, and was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Legends (2010).

angus-reid-David Clark Post Media News
Photo credit: David Clark, Post Media News


Dr. Reid says dyslexia (likely combined with ADHD) and a speech impediment meant he struggled to get through high school. He failed grade 12 English, and describes himself as a “high school drop out.”

He eventually went to night school to complete his high school education, and went on to get a B.A. and M.A. in Sociology from the University of Manitoba. In 1974 he received a Ph.D. in Sociology from Carleton University in Ottawa.

His experience is described in a 2017 Maclean’s article by Sarah Scott:

“Angus Reid used to sit in the classroom watching the clock to see how long he could hold his breath before getting out of there. Reid was dyslexic and had to complete Grade 12 English in night school. Then, he says, “I began to read stuff I wanted to read,” and he ended up with a doctorate.” (Source: Maclean’s)

He has written numerous columns on economic, social and political issues as well as the best-seller “Shakedown: How the New Economy is Changing our Lives” (1996).

Life with dyslexia

Self-esteem, hard work, faith and family have been important in Dr. Reid’s life.

He underlines the importance of getting through school with  self-esteem intact in order to succeed later on in life:

“To be successful, everyone needs the same thing — a sense of self-esteem,” Reid says. “The most important ingredient, whether the academics are good, bad or ugly, is that your self-esteem is intact at the end of the day, so you don’t leave high school thinking you’re a loser, that you’ll never get anywhere in life. I think that’s the single most important ingredient, and the one that parents unwittingly steal from their kids.” (Source: Maclean’s)

He believes that his faith and his family (and love!) carried him through the tough times:

“I grew up in a large Catholic family with eight kids; a hardworking Dad and a smart Mom who had acquired a university degree by the age of 18 on a Catholic Woman’s league scholarship in Saskatchewan. We were a close and very religious family. Sunday Mass was just the start of a week that included prayer on our knees (the rosary) and visits to church services during the week. When I was in high school I suffered from dyslexia, I probably had ADHD and had a speech defect – my mother used to go to mass before my exams to pray for my success.

Despite my Mom’s prayers I failed grade 12 and spent a year working at various unskilled jobs which made me highly motivated to do a university degree. But it’s always hard to know God’s plan. During my year in the academic wilderness a life altering event occurred. On a Sunday night in the Fall of 1965 a cousin of my Mom’s, who was a Catholic priest, invited me to his parish on the other side of town where they were having a teen dance in the church basement. As a high school dropout I didn’t have to worry about my studies getting in the way so off I went.

Across the dance floor stood a beautiful girl named Margaret who would become my life partner and wife of almost fifty years. We married after I finished my first degree and then I went on to do a PhD. My Mom’s prayers had been answered but via a somewhat circuitous route that also produced two children and five grandchildren.” (Source: Angus Reid Website)

Dyslexia hacks

Dr. Reid sites faith, family, hard work, self-esteem, and reading books he wanted to, as important ingredients to his success.

Why this person is “great”

Dr. Reid is one of Canada’s most respected (and perhaps most independent and irreverent) pollsters. His company doesn’t rely on government or corporate funding, and publishes objective polling data a wide array of social issues.

He is also gives back through  many philanthropic efforts.

He has written numerous columns on economic, social and political issues as well as the best-seller “Shakedown: How the New Economy is Changing our Lives” (1996).

Dr. Reid has openly discussed his learning challenges and the pitfalls of the education system. Like many Canadians, he quietly and diligently works to improve the lives of others. His work is social-justice driven; as he told the National Post in 2015:

“I’m totally enjoying giving voice to a lot of people who have no voice.”

More information

Angus Reid’s biography

Freedom to annoy (Post Media News, June 2015)

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