Dr. William Clarence Dawson was born in St. Thomas, Ontario, on the 14th of July, 1939, the only child of James Ernest Dawson and Anna Aletta (Bothwell) Dawson. His childhood was spent in Chatham, then the Dawson family moved to Ottawa. While at Fisher Park High School, Dr. Dawson joined the Canadian Armed Forces as a Naval Cadet.
While in the Navy, he continued his education at Carlton University, attaining a B.Sc. degree, then he attended the University of Ottawa Medical School, graduating in 1967. From 1967 to 1969, he interned at the Toronto Western Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children. He retired from the Royal Canadian Navy in 1977. He joined the Chatham Militia as a Medical Officer.
He also is a member of the Masonic Lodge in Chatham.
Dr. Dawson worked as a family physician in Chatham from 1977 until his retirement in 2001.
Dr. Dawson is married to Catharine Verhoeven-Dawson and they have two children.
Dr. Dawson has enjoyed music since his high school days and has played trombone in the Chatham Concert band for 15 years.
He also enjoys golf and travelling.