Richard F. Haskayne OC, MD, PhD, LLD (hon)
Richard (Dick) Haskayne’s many contributions to Alberta reflect his considerable work ethic, his reputation for upholding the highest standard of personal and business ethics and his considerable pride in his province. He has been an important contributor to Alberta’s business community and the quality of life and opportunities enjoyed by all Albertans, particularly those in rural Alberta.
Dick’s strong ethical compass and sense of community comes from his childhood in Gleichen, Alberta. He was born on December 18, 1934 as the province was struggling through the final years of the Great Depression. His parents, Robert and Bertha Haskayne, were English immigrants who operated butcher shops in Gleichen and Bassano and who followed their hearts when it came to helping families unable to afford meat. Working alongside his parents and his older brother, Stan, Dick learned valuable lessons about having compassion for others, maintaining scrupulously honest practices while working hard to create a successful business.
After graduating from high school, Dick debated staying on to run the family butcher shops or accepting an offer to play junior hockey in Medicine Hat. Eventually, he decided to study at the University of Alberta. He graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1956, moved to Calgary and began articling to qualify as a Chartered Accountant. Dick married Lee Murray in 1958 and became a Chartered Accountant one year later.
Dick’s early days as a Chartered Accountant helped to lay the groundwork for his later career. He performed audits for a wide range of companies, describing the work as “an excellent opportunity to get inside an operation and see the big picture…the principles of what the numbers mean.” His ability to see the big picture allowed him to expand his résumé to include duties as President of major companies such as Hudson’s Bay Oil and Gas, Interhome Energy and later Chairman of the Board of MacMillan Bloedel, Nova, TransAlta Corporation and Fording. Dick’s peers in the business community have described his work at these organizations as “classic business case studies.” Dick modestly describes his approach as “doing the right thing and respecting the responsibility the business sector has to society.”
In 2001, the University of Calgary recognized Dick’s leadership by creating the Richard F. Haskayne Chair in Accounting. The following year, the school’s Faculty of Management was renamed the Haskayne School of Business.
Throughout his career, Dick has taken care to ensure a healthy balance between work, family and giving back to the community. He has applied his enthusiasm and determination to various duties, including Chair of the Board of Governors for the University of Calgary, as trustee of the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, as a board member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute and the Alberta Bone and Joint Institute and as an Advisory Committee member for the Order of Canada. He has also supported community, health and arts organizations, including the United Way, the Calgary Foothills Hospital, the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Society, the Canadian Cancer Society, the ALS Society, the Olympic Trust of Canada, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Theatre Calgary, the Esther Honens International Piano Festival and the Banff Centre. As well, throughout his life, Dick has continued to support numerous organizations with a focus on community, health, arts and education.
Dick lost his wife, Lee, to ALS in 1993. He married Lois Heard in 1995, joining a family that includes five children and eleven grandchildren.
In 2005, Dick and Lois created the Haskayne Gleichen Cluny Bassano Community Fund and Scholarship Awards in honour of his beloved home town. They also maintain several other scholarships for rural students attending the University of Calgary, Mount Royal College and SAIT. These programs all make significant contributions to the opportunities and quality of life enjoyed by rural Canadians.
Dick Haskayne has received numerous awards and recognitions, including honourary Doctor of Laws degrees from the Universities of Alberta and Calgary, the Award of Excellence in International Business from the University of Calgary, a lifetime achievement award from the Institute of Chartered Accountants and membership in both the Canadian Business Hall of Fame and Canadian Petroleum Hall of Fame. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1997. In 2004, he joined the very small number of Canadians who have received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship from the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institution.
Dick has always taken care to follow the advice of his father, who always told him “good ethics make good business. You never know who is watching.” Dick’s fellow Albertans have been doing more than simply watching his actions. They’ve been learning and benefiting from his considerable integrity, dedication and generosity of spirit. His contributions will continue to have a positive impact on Alberta and Canada for generations to come.