OC, FRSC, D.Sc, Ph.D., P. Eng.
Hugh died at the age of 79 in West Vancouver, BC on May 22, 2013 of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He lived with quiet acceptance and grace in the face of this debilitating disease.
Hugh was born on January 19, 1934 in Montreal to his late parents Jeannie and Vero Wynne- Edwards. He leaves his beloved wife Janet; children Robin (Lynn), Katherine (Dave), Jeannie (Craig), Alexander (Lisa), stepdaughter Krista; grandchildren Michael, Gina, Alice, Hillary and Max; his sister Janet, and his three nieces and their families.
In 1947, Hugh's family moved from Montreal to Aberdeen, Scotland where he developed a lifelong passion for skiing, hiking and rock climbing. He always knew he would come home to Canada, and after graduating from the University of Aberdeen he rejected a scholarship to Cambridge and completed his formal education at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, where he received his Ph.D in 1956.
Following a year with the Geological Survey of Canada, Dr. Wynne-Edwards joined the faculty of Queen's University in 1959 and became Head of the Department of Geological Sciences in 1968. From 1972 to 1977 Hugh was the Cominco Professor and Head of Geological Sciences, University of British Columbia. During this period, Wynne-Edwards erected a building on campus and developed a new course based on the environmental concerns surfacing from energy crises and the Club of Rome reports.
In 1977 he became Assistant Secretary, Ministry of State for Science and Technology in Ottawa and was instrumental in the establishment of two new federal granting councils, NSERC for science and engineering, and SSHRC for social sciences and humanities. He was keen to promote closer collaboration between industry and universities, and obtained Cabinet approval and funding for centres of innovation and excellence at universities.
In 1980, Hugh and Janet moved to Montreal when he was appointed Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of Alcan International. His mission was to create a fit between R&D and Alcan's long-term needs and make Alcan a technology leader in its industry, targeting innovation in the application of aluminum in transportation. His initiative led to the development of two aluminum battery products which won the Gold Award for Invention in Canada in 1988 and the 1990 R&D 100 Award in the United States. He was pleased especially with his Project Panache, which spearheaded the development of a new "weld-bonding" system for manufacturing aluminum vehicle body structures. The first production car in Canada using this technology was the Jaguar XJ8, and Hugh proudly purchased one. With Alcan, Hugh spent much of his time globetrotting in order to develop the business, but he and Janet always found time to relax at their beautiful farm in the Eastern Townships. Later they crossed the country twice in his Jaguar.
In 1989 Hugh and Janet moved to West Vancouver. He became Chief Executive Officer of Moli Energy Ltd., an advanced technology company introducing the first rechargeable lithium batteries to world markets. Japanese interests through receivership later acquired the assets of the company. In 1989 Dr. Wynne-Edwards also founded Terracy Inc., an innovation management company designed to promote environmental sustainability through business development. He had coined the term "terracy" in 1976 when he recognized the need for a new concept of Earth literacy. After briefly joining Teck Corporation, Hugh and two partners acquired the assets of BC Research Inc. From 1993 to 2000 Hugh was the president and chairman of BC Research Inc. Wynne-Edwards refocused the technical consulting and contract services, and executed a culture change that included a "No Whining" rule.
Throughout his long and distinguished career, Hugh received a number of awards and citations. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1969. Hugh received the Spendiarov Prize at the International Geological Congress of 1972. In 1975 he received an honorary DSc from Memorial University. Hugh was given the R&D Management Award from the Canadian Research Management Association in 1987 and became a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering in 1993. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1991, an award that reflected his deep love of his country and a firm belief in Canada's future.
Hugh served as a director, chairman, or member of numerous business, professional and government bodies, including the Science Council of Canada (1983-90), the National Advisory Board on Science and Technology (1987-90), and the National Biotechnology Advisory Committee (1995-98). In the lead-up to the 1992 Rio conference, he was the Vice Chairman of the Technology Advisory Group of the Geneva-based Business Council for Sustainable Development. He was the chair of the Neuroscience Canada Partnership, and he served as a director of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and Photon Control. He was Chairman of Welichem Biotech Inc.
Dr. Wynne-Edwards was a visionary who will be remembered for his keen intelligence and drive, and his ability to communicate complex ideas clearly.
The family wishes to give special thanks to Dr. Annette McCall and the staff at West Vancouver Care Centre, whose compassion and attentive care guided Hugh in his final days. Hugh enjoyed spending time with Heather Wegner, his caregiver and friend for the past several years. Thank you to the UBC Alzheimers' Clinic, including Dr. Robin Hsiung and Benita Mudge, the coordinator of a two-year clinical study for a potential Alzheimer's drug.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the B.C. Alzheimer's Association at www.alzheimerbc.org
or by mail at 300 - 828 West 8th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V5Z 1E3.
A celebration of Hugh's life will take place on Friday, June 21 at 2 p.m. at the Capilano Golf & Country Club, 420 Southborough Drive, West Vancouver, BC.