Fred Mannix is a remarkable businessman and philanthropist whose belief in our country has led to his generosity in promoting and preserving the best of Alberta and Canada. His areas of service include education, military history, wildlife conservation and sports.
Born in Calgary on February 24, 1942, Frederick Philip Mannix is the eldest son of Frederick C. and Margaret Mannix. He is part of the third generation of a pioneering family that has played a significant role in building the province. Early in life, Fred was introduced to the business created by his grandfather, Frederick S. Mannix, and to the principles of discipline and hard work. At the age of 12, he accompanied his father to New York on a summer business trip. What was to have been a week-long endeavour stretched into months and young Fred became restless. Seeing an opportunity for his son to begin learning the ropes, Fred’s father sent him to Quebec to serve as a general labourer on a company project. Fred spent subsequent summers working on the family farm in Alberta and as a labourer, CAT operator and foreman for various Mannix companies.
While becoming familiar with the family businesses, Fred also enjoyed an early introduction to the Canadian military. As a student at Ridley College in Ontario, he joined the Army Cadet Corps and thrived under the discipline and the sense of tradition. During his early days progressing through the business ranks, Fred also got to know co-workers who were veterans of the Second World War and Korean War. He appreciated their perspectives and everything that they, and all veterans, had sacrificed for the nation. These experiences helped to shape his philanthropic work to come.
Fred attended the University of Alberta and earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1966. Two years later, he became VP and General Manager of the Mannix enterprise Loram Company Ltd. and continued to work his way through the family businesses. Along the way, Fred met Li-Anne Smith. They married in 1982 and began raising a family that grew to include five children. In 1998, Fred became Chairman and Director of seven Mannix companies.
While business acumen is part of the Mannix DNA, so is giving back to the community. A family culture of philanthropy can be traced back through Fred’s parents and grandparents who believed that investing in the community was a key responsibility. In 1998, Fred and his siblings, Ron and Maureen, made a significant donation to mark the 100th anniversary of Mannix operations. It was the largest single donation ever made by private individuals in Canada at that time. Half of the donation endowed the family’s Carthy Foundation, which supports a range of causes with a general focus on youth and the environment. The remaining funds went to charities across Canada. Fred further supports community, education and social endeavours as a Director of the View West Foundation.
Above and beyond these already impressive acts of philanthropy, Fred has made sustained contributions in other areas of personal interest. These include supporting the military, promoting awareness of Canadian and military history and advocating for Canada’s continued involvement in international affairs in order to preserve the diplomatic legacies at the root of the economic opportunities we enjoy today. All of these are areas that Fred sees as inextricably intertwined.
Fred has applied his audacious vision, keen intellect and tireless generosity to the creation of numerous initiatives related to these areas. He is the primary funder and guiding force behind the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary. One of the best of its kind in North America, the centre has assumed an instrumental role in fostering Canadian studies and ensuring that key elements of our heritage are passed on to future generations. Fred is also the founder and Honourary Director of Calgary’s Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute which works to promote understanding of how international issues impact the nation’s prosperity and freedoms. He has further served as an Advisory Board Member of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and is Past Director of the Canadian International Council Senate.
Fred has applied his vision to the creation of a 10-day military journalism course at the University of Calgary and the University of Montreal. Prompted by inaccurate media coverage of the Balkans conflict in the 1990s, Fred set out to provide journalists with the tools they needed to accurately report on military conflicts, including an overview of the Canadian military and background on the history and various perspectives at play in any deployment. Fred underlines the importance of this work, saying “good reporting and strong democracy depend on an informed public.” His profound commitment to that principle is evidenced in his own enrollment in the year-long National Defence College Course 32, which he completed as a civilian in 1979.
Fred’s understanding of what the military needs to succeed is reflected in his stalwart support for all of Canada’s men and women in uniform, with a particular focus on the nation’s reservists. In 1980, he was named Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of The Calgary Highlanders and became Honourary Colonel in 1986. He has generously invested considerable thought, time and resources to ensure the ongoing success of the Regiment. This includes preserving regimental history, ensuring members are well supplied and prepared for deployment and creating an endowment to meet the needs of Highlanders for generations to come. Hon. Colonel Mannix may have stepped down from his official role in 1994, but his unconditional support for the Regiment has continued unabated. His record of service to Canada’s reserves also includes duties as former Alberta Chair of the Canadian Forces Liaison Council and founder of Reserves 2000. Future members of the military and budding Alberta leaders alike also benefit from his unstinting support of Canada’s Cadet Corps programs.
In his efforts to help the Highlanders find adequate housing for the Regiment’s archives, Fred began working with other Calgary units facing the same challenge. He went on to become a founder of the combined Museum of the Regiments which led to service as a lead donor and visionary behind The Calgary Military Museums. His extensive support has included fostering interest in the museums at Buckingham Palace and negotiating a deal to transfer a rare British, European and Commonwealth military history collection from Bletchley Park in England to Calgary for cataloguing and preservation. Curated by the University of Calgary and housed at the museums, the Chicksands Collection is now an integral part of Canada’s largest military library.
The love Fred Mannix has for history and tradition is further reflected in his support of polo, a sport rooted in the early days of the province. Like his grandfather, Fred is a keen horseman and is passionate about sharing the long history of polo in Alberta. He has fostered the resurgence of Canadian players at the sport’s elite international ranks and knows the pride of seeing his own sons compete at the world’s premier events. Fred is founder and former Chair of the Polo Training Foundation Canada and Past Director and President of the Canadian Polo Association.
The field of conservation has also benefited from the work of Fred Mannix over the years. Driven by his dedication to the wise use of natural resources and protection of natural habitats, he became one of the founders of the World Wildlife Fund. He has coordinated events that have generated more than $20 million for Ducks Unlimited and funded waterfowl research and conservation projects in Alberta and across Canada. Working with Ducks Unlimited and the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Fred has placed easements on tracts of Mannix land, thus protecting habitats and the wildlife they sustain.
Fred Mannix has received many prestigious honours including the Vimy Award, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Canadian Forces Decoration, the Canada 125 Medal, the Alberta Centennial Medal and Special Edition Centennial Pinnacle Award, the Chief of Defence Staff Commendation and the General Sir Arthur Currie Award. In 2006 he became an Officer of the Order of Canada and received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Calgary.
Fred offers insight into the characteristics behind his success when asked to state what he most appreciates about his province. He says, “We’re very proactive and don’t really worry about impediments. We just get the job done, whatever it may be. Alberta is a can-do province and a powerful contributor to all aspects of Canadian life.” Albertans can claim that as part of our proud legacy thanks to citizens like Fred Mannix.
Fred and Li-Anne Mannix live in Calgary. They enjoy spending time with their five children and four grandchildren - Margaret-Jean & Alex (Angus & Alistair), Fred & Kelsea (Brooklyn & Frederick), Alexandra, Vanessa and Julian.