Deane Finlayson, described as a "visionary leader, truly great Canadian and fine human being" will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree posthumously from Malaspina University-College during the spring convocation ceremony at the Port Theatre on Tuesday, June 7.
Finlayson passed away May 17 at the age of 85. His wife Joan and daughter will attend Tuesday’s ceremony to accept the award on his behalf.
"We’re honoring Deane for his exemplary service during his lifetime to his country, his province and his community," said Malaspina president Rich Johnston. "Deane helped shape Nanaimo and, because of him, this community is a better place to live - culturally, economically, environmentally and socially. He was a mentor, a leader and an inspiration to all. In spite of his multitude of accomplishments and the respect he commanded from those around him, he was a humble man, never seeking glory for his contributions."
Johnston described how Finlayson served Canada as a pilot in the Second World War, earning The King’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air. While serving British Columbia as a politician in the 1960s, he was well respected for his honesty and integrity.
The Shushwap First Nations gave Finlayson the title of Honourary Chief and the Indian name "Chief Straight Tongue."
Finlayson served his Vancouver Island community of Nanaimo for more than half a century. Johnston noted some of his most significant achievements including:
* Finlayson initiated the transaction which led to the dedication of Piper’s Lagoon as a park. This unique natural parkland is situated on one of the most beautiful pieces of waterfront in the province, and has been preserved in perpetuity for the benefit of present and future generations.
* He developed Woodgrove Shopping Centre, which became the catalyst for the future growth of Nanaimo, employing thousands of people and greatly stimulating the local economy.
* Finlayson was one of the main forces behind the building of the Vancouver Island Natural Gas Pipeline. Bringing natural gas to the Island provided a tremendous boost to the economy and, also made a major contribution to the protection of our environment.
* He was involved in the planning of the Nanaimo Parkway, an essential transportation link for Vancouver Island.
* Finlayson initiated the restoration of Cameron Island, which has become one of the jewels of Nanaimo’s downtown harbourfront.
* He was one of the first and foremost supporters of The Port Theatre, the centre of Nanaimo’s cultural community, working tirelessly - over a span of 17 years - to bring a performing arts theatre to Nanaimo.
"Deane Finlayson committed his life to community service," added Johnston. By the time he was 21, he had already founded the first Junior Chamber of Commerce on Vancouver Island, as well as the Mt. Benson Outdoor Club, which is still in existence today. Before he was 30, he organized the first Tourism Association for north and central Vancouver Island. Over the past 60 plus years he served, and in many cases presided over, numerous boards and organizations. In his business life, Deane helped make a difference and displayed excellence in bringing higher standards and professionalism to the real estate industry."
Johnston said everyone in the Malaspina community was "deeply saddened" by Finlayson’s passing on May 17 "but his spirit lives on, as do the many results of his labours of love in the City of Nanaimo and beyond."