Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient: A Life of Public Service | Work of Arts
Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient: A Life of Public Service | Work of Arts

Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient: A Life of Public Service

by | September 7, 2016
Photography by John Ulan
As a minister of several federal departments and as an advocate for tourism, Judd Buchanan worked for the people

As we look forward to Alumni Weekend (Sept 22-25, 2016), the Faculty of Arts is proud to share the stories of our inspiring alumni award winners!

053016DA-Buchanan01_Credit John UlanFrom a young age, Judd Buchanan (’53 BA) displayed a strong work ethic. Beginning with his first paper route, he moved on to work as a “redcap” with CP Rail, unloading luggage and pocketing tips.

In university, Buchanan was a sociable student who loved history and languages but didn’t attend classes regularly, again because of his work life. “I wasn’t a very good student because I had a job with the post office,” he says. “I went to class when I could squeeze it in.”

He earned an economics degree while serving as president of his fraternity, Kappa Sigma, and the U of A Liberal Club. His interest in politics began when he worked for his father’s provincial Liberal campaign. His father, Nelles V. Buchanan (’21 LLB), didn’t win, but the teenaged Buchanan was hooked nonetheless.

“My first Liberal convention was in 1944 at the Masonic Temple on 100th Avenue,” he says.

Buchanan launched his own political life serving on the board of education in London, Ont. He was elected to the House of Commons in 1968 and appointed to the cabinet in 1974 by then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau (’68 LLD [Hon]). Buchanan served as minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, where he put together the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement in 1975, the first modern treaty signed. Buchanan also worked as minister of Public Works, minister of state for science and technology and president of the Treasury Board.

In the late 1950s, he used his experience in public speaking to help form one of the earliest Toastmasters clubs in Canada: the Forest City Toastmasters in London. “It was a great confidence builder,” he says. “People learned to stand on their hind legs and speak in front of an audience.”

“Skiing is a wonderful business. If you start with a reasonable fortune, it’s a great way to lose it all.”

Buchanan enjoys working with people, and his early days serving travellers at CP Rail foreshadowed things to come. He became the first chair of the Canadian Tourism Commission, and his report on ways to improve the industry, known as the Buchanan Report, was recommended by then-prime minister Jean Chretien (’87 LLD [Hon]). Buchanan served as chairman until he retired in 2002.

His post-politics career in tourism extended to investing in Silver Star Mountain Resort near Vernon, B.C. “Skiing is a wonderful business,” he says with a chuckle. “If you start with a reasonable fortune, it’s a great way to lose it all.”

Buchanan was also the first chair of the group that built the Wickaninnish Inn, a well-known hotel on the beach in Tofino, B.C.

His volunteer work has included serving as chair of the Greater Victoria Hospital Society and working with other organizations in London and Victoria. In recognition of his public service, he was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 2000.

 

First published in the Autumn 2016 issue of New Trail, the U of A’s alumni magazine.


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