James Richardson (Richie) Donald.
James Richardson Donald (Richie, Rich), was born in Montreal on October 7, 1890. After matriculation from the High School of Montreal, he entered McGill University and graduated with the BA and BSc degrees in 1913, a member of the first class of chemical engineers. Joining his father's company, he was soon immersed in the inspection work association with munitions production. In a remarkably short period of time (by 1917), he was advanced to be chief inspector, Imperial Munitions Board, agent in Canada for the UK, Ministry of Munitions. Meanwhile, he had married Pansy S. Irving (BA, 1914, Mount Allison University) of Vernon, PEI.
After the Great War and after a brief period in industry he returned to J.T. Donald & Co. becoming managing director and, on the death of his father in 1940, president. He remained actively involved in the management of the company and its associates until about 1970. He was responsible for enlarging its activities to include chemical engineering, and economic studies for business and several of the provinces. He was a strong advocate of natural-gas pipelines and of petrochemicals.
Dr. Donald was called back into the government service in World War II as director general of chemicals and explosives production, Department of Munitions and Supply, under the Rt. Honourable C.D. Howe and again during the Korean crisis. He held a similar position with the Department of Defence Production. In respect to World War II, Donald was particularly proud of the good relations which he helped to establish within the American authorities well before Pearl Harbour. For his outstanding service he was appointed to be an officer of the Order of the British Empire as early as 1943.
Dr. Donald's wise judgement was frequently sought by his Alma Mater (and other universities) on such matters as departmental administration and senior appointments. For instance, he was helpful when McGill wished to establish a separate Department of Chemical Engineering. His lasting interest in education is also indicated by this endowment of the J.T. Donald lectureship, in memory of his father.
Dr. Donald received many awards: Honorary Doctor of Science degree, McGill University (1951); Society of Chemical Industry (1952); Honorary Fellowship in and Montreal Medal medal of The Chemical Institute of Canada (1960, 1962); citation for "A Half-Century of Service" granted by the American Institute of Chemical Engineering (1978). At the time of his death, he was the oldest member worldwide, Society of the Chemical Industry.
Dr. Donald was an active churchman serving for many years as an elder of the Erskine-American United Church and as a director of the Montreal Protestant Homes. He derived much pleasure from sports, especially outdoor ones: fishing, skiing, golfing and curling.
After retirement to Brockville, he devoted much time to the preparation of an autobiography. He appointed Robert Nicholls, FCIC, and Mario Onyszchuk, FCIC, to be his literary executors. They edited his "Reminiscences of a Pioneer Canadian Chemical Engineer, 1890-1952", which were published in 1989. Students of the history of Canadian chemistry will find much additional material in the National Archives of Canada and in the McGill University Archives. And now, the many admirers of Richie Donald will be delighted that considerable attention will be devoted to his accomplishments in "Chemical Engineering in Canada -- An Historical Perspective", edited by L.W. Shemilt, FCIC.
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|Publication:||Canadian Chemical News|
|Date:||Feb 1, 1992|
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