Winter 2012

Your Letters

School’s In

As a retired high school teacher, I still like to teach. Here are two comments about the New Trail Autumn 2011 edition. On page eight, Harry Ainlay should be spelled just as Mr. Harry Ainlay spelled his name: with an a.

A more serious error is found on page 31: See column two above the picture of the car—“about a generation who may have sang...” Ouch! I have sung. You have sung. We have sung. The past participle of sing is sung. I sang a song yesterday. You sang several songs.

There is your grammar lesson for the day. Please consider it a gift from me to you. It is important to learn something new every day.

Alberta Boytzun, ’50 Dip(Ed), ’51 BEd
Edmonton, AB

Can Do

Having been on the U of A campus in the early seventies, I was interested by the report on those years in the Autumn 2011 edition of New Trail. Unfortunately there is a mistake at the end of page 31 about the first CANDU reactor in operation. It must have been in Ontario and certainly not in Gentilly where I was working during commissioning in 1983.

Luce Gauthier, ’73 PhD
Saint-Irénée, QC

Editor’s note: In 1971, the 250 MW Gentilly-1, a prototype CANDU reactor, came into operation in Quebec. It was taken out of service in 1979 due to design and operational problems that made it uneconomical. Gentilly-2—equipped with a 675 MW CANDU 6 reactor—was constructed on the same site as Gentilly-1 and came into commercial operation in 1983.

All A-Twitter

Cindie LeBlanc @cleblanc24
@UofA_Alumni just read recent New Trail..*love* the new look!!! And great features!!! See you at Week of Welcome events and Alumni Weekend

Diane Lee @Argenplath
Read @riskindan’s interview in the @UofA_Alumni mag and it just reminded me about the importance of being passionate about (my?) research...


Picking Nits

Permit me a nitpick. In the Autumn 2011, pg. 29, you say that, in 1961, “Niagara Falls starts producing hydroelectric power.”

In 1955 I was one of a group of engineers who designed, built, and installed eight of the big generators at Sir Adam Beck #2 power plant. At that time, Sir Adam Beck #1 had been in service for many years. They are at the foot of the falls. Upstream, above the falls, are the generator halls of the much earlier power plant of the Canadian Niagara Power Company, dating from before the First World War.

Frank Gue, ’51 BSc(ElecE)
Burlington, ON

Editor’s note: It was the Robert Moses Niagara Hydro-Electric Power Station that was opened in 1961. Frank left us with this brain teaser: “The canal system at Niagara Falls requires that two canals cross at the same level without tunnels, siphons, or pumps. Can you figure out how to do that?” Bragging rights to the first person who can.

Not Amused

I am appalled that New Trail would carry an article as flawed as the one Aritha van Herk contributed to your Autumn 2011 issue [pg. 9]. “The adamant egocentrism of this age, manifested by disregard for and the discourtesy to others, is a deplorable symptom of the 21st century.” Was the example from the 20th century quoted from Robert Kroetch’s “brilliantly evocative essay” not exactly that?

How could workmen “dying of thirst” be faulted and made fun of for trusting the boy? This is a horrendous distortion of what is fair and right in our world. To then blame the current modern age is ridiculous in the extreme. I am thankful that “no mere words will deter us from what we believe.” I believe that thirsty workmen deserve to be treated with respect and that they should receive the cleanest, freshest water that could be carried to them.

Ellis Bartkiewicz (Devine), ’58 Dip(Nu)
Calgary, AB

Another Perspective

I served as the Minister of Advanced Education of Alberta from 1979 to 1982. Having read the 100th anniversary publication of the book All True Things—A History of the University of Alberta, 1908-2008, [by Rod Macleod, ’62 BA], I take issue with the characterization of the relationship between the Government of Alberta and the University, particularly as they are portrayed in chapters 14 and 15. Especially troubling are the allegations that premiers Lougheed and Getty were “anti-intellectual.” I hope you will see fit to allow me to present my argument that quite the opposite was true.



“truth is incontrovertible,

Panic may resent it;

Ignorance may deride it;

Malice may distort it;


Winston Churchill, 1915

The Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical research was established in 1980 by the Lougheed government with an investment of $300 million from the Alberta Heritage Savings and Trust Fund.  That was proved beyond a shadow of a doubt to have been one of the most significant legacies of the Premier Lougheed’s years of service.  By 2010 the value of the Foundation had grown to over $1Billion.  During the three decades from its inception, the following funding was invested in medical research within and by Alberta universities:

1980-1989-$323 Million

1990-19999-$299.8 Million

2000-2009-$553.4 Million

Total - $1,176.2 Billion

8,700 awards to 6,800 trainees and 700 primary researchers have been assisted by the fund during the same period.  The great majority of the research activity has been carried out at the University of Alberta and has greatly increased its research reputation.  Nothing in comparison has been accomplished by provincial government initiatives within Canadian post-secondary systems and should be a source of great pride to the University of Alberta and the other Alberta universities.


The Walter C. MacKenzie Health Sciences Centre at the University of Alberta was opened in two stages in 1983 and 1986.  Phase 1 was funded by the Alberta Heritage Fund at a cost of over $500 Million and phase 2 at $42.8 Million.  That major investment in the university of Alberta compliments and facilitates the world class medical research carried out at the University of Alberta.


University of Alberta funding by the Government of Alberta 1977 to 1982:

Year                 Provincial Grant          Tuition             Capital             Matching         Enrolment

1977/78           $104,254,000              $12,141,000    $18,918,000    $701,000         19,491

1978/79           112,868,000                 12,825,000      22,735,000      617,000         18,764

1979/80           122,703,000                 12,510,000      31,177,000      448,000         18,117

1980/81           136,253,000                 13,684,000      42,119,000      237,000         18,237

1981/82           157,009,000                 14,803,000      57,029,000    5,631,000         19,571

Despite declining enrolment for the better part of the period, the provincial grant increased by over 50%.  There is no doubt that difficult decisions were necessary to meet the changing needs of society.  Most post-secondary leaders met those challenges with fortitude and resolution.  Capital expenditures met the determined needs of the University.  Matching grants rose after the introduction of the 1980s Advanced Education Endowment Fund which did not replace regular capital funding requests.


In 1980, as part of the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Province of Alberta, the Province created the 1980’s Advanced Education Endowment Fund.  Its intent was to provide $80 Million in matching grants for the decade of the 1980s.  All eligible donations received by post-secondary institutions were matched on a 1:1 or 2:1 basis depending on the nature of the donation.  This fund was totally expended in five years.

In 1986, Alberta created the Endowment and Incentive Fund of a further $80 Million with criteria similar to the original 1980s fund.  The new fund was intended to last for five years but was totally expended within two years.  A further $40 Million in additional support was added to cover donations that otherwise would not have been matched.  In 1989 a further $24 Million was added prior to being concluded in 1993.

During that period, the post-secondary system acquired over $400 Million from the generosity of the private sector and the Government of Alberta.

The lackluster efforts by the University of Alberta to benefit from the opportunity provided by the program was in sharp contrast to the vigorous and immediate action taken by the Universities of Calgary and Lethbridge.  The argument that the University of Calgary benefited more because “there are more rich people in Calgary than Edmonton” rang hollow given the vastly greater pool of Alumni from which the U of A could have drawn support.  In the end, by 1993, the U of A still lagged the U of C in matching Alberta Government grants $75,249,536 to $77,843,150.


The Alberta Heritage Scholarship Fund was introduced in 1980 as well.  With an investment of $100 Million from the Heritage Fund.  Designed to recognize scholastic, sports and other achievement at the high school, undergraduate and post graduate levels.  The fund has grown to $713 Million.  In the thirty years of it’s existence, tens of thousands of Albertans have received scholarships and awards totaling over $450 Million for a wide range of academic achievements.  Many University of Alberta recipients are amongst those numbers.  For 2010/11, 37,500 Alberta students will receive $70.8 million in scholarships.


All the above achievement are without precedent in Canada.  All were introduced after close consultation with the leaders of post-secondary education in Alberta.  Peter Lougheed is convinced that a highly educated citizenry is the key to the long term success of the Province he led as Premier.  Don Getty followed on all these initiatives.  To suggest anti-intellectualism on the part of the two premiers is not only unfortunate but unfounded.

All Albertans and those he calls his fellow alumni of the University of Alberta should be proud and grateful for the great initiatives in university education and research Peter Lougheed encouraged during his years of service to our province, to Canada and our greater global society.


James D. Horsman, A.O.E., LL.D
Medicine Hat, AB


On page 28 (Autumn 2011) we incorrectly identified the Van Vliet Centre as being named after Maury Van Vliet, 61 BSc, ’64 LLD. The Centre is actually named after his father, Maury Van Vliet Sr., ’79 LLD (Honorary). Over a 33-year career at the U of A, beginning in 1945, Maury Sr. was a teacher, scholar, coach, administrator and dean of the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, building it into one of the strongest physical education facility’s in Canada with the first PhD program in the Commonwealth. We apologize for any confusion that may have resulted from our error.