'Time to refresh and renew the way Canadians study and celebrate their history,' says Wilson
Wilson, the chancellor of McMaster, and chairman of CAE Inc., is a founding co-chairman of the Historica Foundation of Canada. He has been a significant supporter of the University's Department of History for a number of years.
The formal announcement of his gift will be made tonight (Wednesday) in Toronto at 6:30 p.m. at the Rosewater Supper Club before members of McMaster's President's Club.
"We're delighted by this generous gift, but we are also extraordinarily blessed to have a remarkable person like Red Wilson champion McMaster, and also champion the cause of Canadian history," says Peter George, McMaster's president. "Red's gift will make McMaster University an important place to study Canadian history. With its emphasis on research and graduate and post-doctoral scholarships, this gift will train the next generation of historians."
Wilson, a 1962 McMaster Honours BA graduate, says it is time to refresh and renew the way Canadians study and celebrate their history, not simply to make it more accessible and more lively, but to show how it connects to the rapidly changing contemporary world.
"Canadians are very good at celebrating our music, the visual arts, and culture, but curiously we don't have the same interest in, or passion for, our history," Wilson laments. "Canada desperately needs more storytellers to keep alive the rich and valuable stories of its past, and we must find ways to nurture a new generation of historians."
McMaster historians, such as Viv Nelles, and John Weaver, have strengthened Canada's international reputation by fostering greater understanding of the strengths of our ideas and institutions, says Wilson. Significant strides have been made, through such initiatives as the Historical Atlas, the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, the Canadian Encyclopaedia, Heritage Minutes and history fairs, in making Canadian history more widely appreciated, both at home and abroad. The information technology revolution of the past two decades provides opportunities to do even more.
In the face of the escalating pace of change and globalization, a better understanding of Canadian history can help educate and inform, and place into perspective the development of Canada's interaction with the rest of the world in terms of, for example, international migration, civil society, social and educational institutions, and global business and finance.
George adds that this latest investment by Wilson is a strong vote of confidence for the work being done at McMaster through research and public outreach in Canadian history.
Wilson's previous gifts to McMaster include a $10-million donation to fund the University's Liberal Arts initiative, $1-million to establish the L.R. Wilson Professor in Canadian History and a gift of $500,000, matched by BCE , to fund the L.R. Wilson/Bell Canada Chair in Data Communications in the Faculty of Engineering.
Wilson is a former Ontario Deputy Minister of Industry & Tourism. He has been the president and CEO of Redpath Industries; vice chairman of the Bank of Nova Scotia, president, CEO and then chairman of BCE Inc., and chairman of Nortel Networks. In 1994 he received the International Business Executive of the Year Award. Wilson was chairman of the federal government's recent Competition Policy Review Panel and is a member of the Prime Minister's Advisory Committee on the Public Service. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and has received six honorary degrees, including a Doctor of Laws from McMaster in 1995.
McMaster University, a world-renowned, research-intensive university, fosters a culture of innovation, and a commitment to discovery and learning in teaching, research and scholarship. Based in Hamilton, the University, one of only four Canadian universities to be listed on the Top 100 universities in the world, has a student population of more than 23,000, and an alumni population of more than 135,000 in 128 countries.