Honorary degree citation - Mel Hurtig
By: Abdul Rahman, June 1990
Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you a great Canadian and eminent book publisher, Mr. Mel Hurtig.
Mr. Hurtig occupies a unique position in the book publishing milieu of this country and has won the admiration and respect of all Canadians for his intense loyalty to Canada.
Born and raised in Edmonton, Mr. Hurtig opened a small bookstore in 1956 that grew into one of the largest retail book operations in Canada. Mr. Hurtig sold his bookstores in 1972 to concentrate on publishing Canadian books. He was named Canadian Book Publisher of the Year in 1975 and again in 1981.
He is a former President of the Edmonton Art Gallery, a former member of the University of Alberta Senate, and a past Chairman of the Board of the Canadian Booksellers' Association. In 1976, he received the City of Edmonton's Performing and Creative Arts Award, and in 1979, the City of Edmonton's Outstanding Service Historical Award. In 1980, Mr. Hurtig launched one of the largest and most ambitious projects in the history of Canadian publishing, the new $12 million dollar, comprehensive Canadian Encyclopedia. The Canadian Encyclopedia, published in 1985, is the largest publishing project in the history of our country. A new, updated and substantially expanded four volume edition was published in September 1988.
Mr. Hurtig has received many distinguished awards, and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1980. In early 1985, he formed a new national organization, The Council of Canadians which is dedicated to preserving Canadian economic, cultural and political sovereignty. Mr. Hurtig is the Honorary Chairman of The Council.
In January of 1987, Hurtig Publishers announced another huge, multi-million dollar project, a five volume The Junior Encyclopedia of Canada, to be published in September of 1990. In October, he was elected Honorary President of the Library Association of Alberta.
In July of 1988, Mel Hurtig received the Lester B. Pearson Man of the Year Peace Award and in October he received the Corporate Citizen of the Year Award from the Community of Business and Professional Association of Canada.
Mr. Chancellor, it is a privilege to present to you, on behalf of the Senate and by the authority of the Board of Governors, Mel Hurtig, so that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.