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With input from a panel of experts, Founder’s Day tackled issues that were foremost on the minds of the Macdonald Community. Click to read more...

Homecoming 2012
| Anna Duff

PHOTOS: Chancellor Emeritus Richard Pound (top left); Distinguished Alumni recipients Eugene Terry (top right), Nathalie Zinger (bottom left) and Prosanta Chakrabarty.

Over 250 alumni were on the Macdonald campus over the course of the day on Saturday October 12th participating in a variety of events – Speed Research on Sustainability; Official Opening of the Helen Neilson Classroom; the Sir William Macdonald Luncheon; a visit to the Macdonald Farm; and the Bar Disco Reunion. Five Macdonald Professors spoke to alumni at round tables for 10 minutes about their work on Sustainability as part of our first, and highly successful, Speed Research forum. We recognized 3 distinguished alumni during our luncheon – Eugene Terry BScAgr’64, MSc’66, Nathalie Zinger BSAgr’81 and our young alum Prosanta Chakrabarty BScAgr’00. Our MC for the event was Ariane Gauthier BSc(FSc)’11 who kept the event running smoothly. She introduced our guest speaker Chancellor Emeritus Dick Pound BCom’62, BCL’67, LLD’09 , whose topic was Sports: Evolution or Revolution? He provided an enlightening talk on the IOC and drug use.

The Class of 1952 presented a cheque for $61,182 to the Dean as part of their fundraising efforts for two work stations in the food lab. The Class of 1962 presented a cheque for $61,718 which is for the Macdonald Class of 1962 Scholarship. We also recognized the efforts of several classes, alumni and friends in raising $250,000 for the Helen Neilson Classroom, with Byron Beeler BScAgr’58, Anna Hobbs BSc(HEc)’58 and Linda Jacobs Starkey MSc’72, PhD’99 as co-chairs of this initiative to honour the many contributions she made to the Faculty and the School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition. The Bob Pugh Classic committee (Don Grant BScAgr’60, MSc’62, PhD’66, Bob Pugh DipEd’52, Tom Clapp BScAgr’65, Richard Gilmer BScAgr’75, Pat Parker (past student) & Byron Beeler) presented a cheque for $67,346.69 which was an accumulation of money raised over two Classics and through alumni and friend support to establish a scholarship to honour Emeritus Professor Dr. John E Moxley BScAgr’47, MSc’52 and Valacta for their work in the Canadian dairy industry.

The night was capped off with a Bar Disco reunion organized by Peter Knox BScAgr’74 – alumni and friends came from all over to reminisce and kick up their heels on the dance floor.

Founder’s Day 2013
|Tim Geary

We all make choices, every day, about what we will feed ourselves and our families. But what drives those choices? What are the consequences? Do we really know what we are putting into our bodies? Is there a better way to get the nutrition we need?

The 2013 edition of Founder’s Day tackled these questions and more, approaching the very serious issue of the dietary choices we make, the costs to our economy and our health, as well as solutions to solve a growing crisis.  Through an innovative panel discussion on “The Industry of Food: Why We Eat what We Eat”. Moderated by Prof. Timothy Geary, panelists Andrea Donsky (author and founder of naturallysavvy.com), Daniel Meikleham (Chairman and CFO, Urban Barns) and Paul Thomassin (Department of Natural Resource Sciences and World Health Program, McGill University) conducted a discussion and audience question-and-answer period that proved to be stimulating and thought-provoking. Important topics included the role of citizen activists in establishing regulatory policies for artificial food preservatives and coloring agents (Donsky), the development and implementation of mass-produced products, and novel strategies for increasing local production of organic vegetables in urban buildings (Meikleham) generated a great deal of discussion. Prof. Thomassin concluded the presentations by considering some of the economic influences on food production and distribution, which are especially important in thinking about global issues related to this topic. The discussion concluded with a vigorous audience participation session, demonstrating the appeal of the topic, the format, and (most importantly) the panelists.

Two young Mac alumnae and entrepreneurs shared their personal stories of passion, hard work and perseverance to succeed. Click to read more...

Mentoring Event (March 2013)
| Anna Duff

Two very successful Mac alumnae and entrepreneurs gave a presentation to our students as part of the Mac DAR Mentoring Program. Paula Cook BSc(AgEnvSc)’06 and Marie-Chantal Houde BScAgr’04 talked about their businesses and how they achieved their goals. Paula owns and operates a vineyard in Tuscany Wine Estate Le Miccine and Marie-Chantal is a cheese maker and owner of Fromagerie Nouvelle France in Quebec. Even though they studied different programs at Macdonald it was Mac that provided the interest to pursue their passions. Their personal stories had many similarities - follow your passion, work hard and persevere. The students in attendance asked many interesting questions and then had the opportunity to taste the wine and cheese.

Generations keep coming back to Mac: two alumni share their stories on the influence that Macdonald College had on their families. Click to read more...

Generations at Macdonald:

Hooker Family story
as told by Trinkie (Mary) Hooker Coffin


1930 - Grandma (Willa McNeil Hooker) photo and certificate of her Macdonald College book prize; 1964 - Four generations (Great Grandma Mary Whiteford McNeil, Grandma Willa McNeil Hooker, Mother Mary Catherine (Trinkie) Hooker Coffin and baby daughter Judy Coffin Hargrave)...three of the four graduated from Macdonald College; 2006 - Judy and Trinkie outside Judy's office; Three-generation Mac quilt - made by Willa for Judy in Mac colours (green and gold) from Trinkie's old Home Ec uniforms

I listened to stories told to me by my mother, Willa McNeil Hooker who grew up in Ormstown, Quebec, and at the age of 15  had completed High School, so went to teach in one room schools until she was old enough to come to MAC to learn how to  be a teacher. She made MAC sound like a magical place where a young woman with very limited resources could become whatever she wanted to be and she graduated in 1930 as a teacher.

I listened to stories, some quite exotic and magical, from my big brother Lyndon who graduated from MAC in 1959. He played hockey, was President of the House Committee, had a busy social life, went on to do a MBA and represented Ont. Agr in England for 4 years, just what he wanted to do. I listened to stories from my brother Brian, who spent 2 years at MAC before going to Guelph to become a veterinarian. His summer escapades in the Apple Orchard trying to keep interlopers from stealing apples that were likely part of someone’s research are legend and quite magical in the telling. With the foundation from MAC he too went ahead to do just what he wanted to do.

I was next in line and the history of the family connection, the influence of an exceptional Home Ec. Teacher, Elaine Aiken, and the visit of Professor Isobel Honey to a career night at our High School all helped to make Macdonald my choice as well. It was quite an adjustment at that time, coming from a small town to stay in residence, have a roommate you never laid eyes on before and finding your way around but it was the place I wanted to be and there were magical things that were to happen to me also. I graduated in 1962 and became a High School Home Economics teacher, just what I wanted to be. Macdonald College is an excellent place to get to know a person who might become more than just a friend and yes, I met my husband, Garth Coffin here.

Wouldn’t you know it, the magic worked on our daughter Judy who is a MAC grad also. She graduated in Food Science in 1987 and after a number of years working in the Food Industry and with a great science background, she went back to school and has worked in Graphic Design ever since.

Laurie Family story
| as told by Jim Laurie

The Laurie family of graduates owes much to Macdonald College. Not the least is the fact that Douglas Melrose Laurie and Edna Marguerite Cowper met at Macdonald one hundred years ago. Family careers in farming, teaching, dietetics, food science and business were all influenced by and related to our years at Mac.  

My father Douglas Melrose Laurie (1896-1965) received his BSA in 1921 and was an Orchardist in Hemmingford. He married Edna Marguerite Cowper (1896-1982), who received a Macdonald Teaching Diploma in 1917 and taught in the Montreal area.  They had 4 children.

My aunt Jean Isabel Laurie (1899-1989) received a Macdonald Teaching Diploma in 1920 and taught in the Montreal area. She married George Wright and they had 3 children. One daughter, Jane Barbara Wright (b. 1938) – received her Intermediate Teaching Diploma at Macdonald in 1955-1957 and later taught in the Montreal area.

My first year at Macdonald was in 1944. The class of ‘48 consisted of 57 students - 28 Home Ec. and 29 Agr. This was during the war when the women's residence was taken over by the Canadian Women's Army Corps and the Men's residence was divided between women and men students. Many of the first year men students were living in private homes in Ste Anne de Bellevue. At the end of the war, our third year class numbers swelled with the return of many ex-servicemen and women. By graduation, we numbered 100 - 23 Home Ec. and 77 Agr grads.

My siblings also have ties with Macdonald. Margaret Mary Laurie (1925-1989) received her BSc(HEc) in 1946 and taught Home Economics at Quebec High school before she  married Robert Yeoman Grant (1920-1996), who completed his BScAgr in 1948 specializing in Bacteriology. James Melrose Laurie (1927-) completed his BScAgr in 1948 and was an orchardist and teacher in Hemmingford and Ormstown for his career. Jim married Carman Ruth Laurie (1928-), who is an RN (1950); they have 4 children. My other sister Carol Edna Laurie (1930-) graduated with a BSc(HEc)’52 and worked as a dietitian; she married Robert Francis Petch (1927-2005), a Mac BScAgr’48 grad,  who was an orchardist and teacher in Hemmingford and Ormstown. They have 3 children.

Juliana de van der Schueren (1990-),who graduated in 2012 with a BSc(NutrSc) and is pictured above with grandfather Jim Laurie, is the great granddaughter of the first Laurie graduate Douglas Melrose Laurie and granddaughter of James M Laurie.

This year, 2013, marks the 65th anniversary of my graduating class. It is hoped that there will be several of my classmates taking part in October!

At Homecoming 2013, the McGill School of Environment will be celebrating 15 years since its founding with an exciting lineup of events for everyone. Click to read more...

MSE 15th Anniversary – Environmental Education for Choices that Sustain

The MSE is celebrating their 15th anniversary this October and is welcoming all grads back to campus. There is a special event taking place on Friday October 18th (MSE) Happy Hour and Poster Presentation – The History of Environment 401. It is a celebration of the 15-year history of MSE Undergraduate Research Projects (ENVR 401). Alumni will have the chance to meet up with some of the original ENVR 401 student pioneers and associated clients and discover the outcomes of these projects. On Saturday the MSE will shift gears out to Mac Campus and host the Speed Research forum: A Plot of Environment. McGill School of Environment Researchers will unravel environmental mysteries.  Professors Sylvie de Blois, Jeffrey Cardille, Grant Clark, Joann Whalen and Marilyn Scott will speak about biodiversity conservation in Quebec, tracking large scale changes across Canada, ecological engineering and management to reduce disease and improve soil fertility, and health and global food security.  Each will share with you the world as seen through their kaleidoscope.

The MSE has also embarked on a multiyear graduating class project – from 1997 to 2013 – which recognizes all 15 years since the founding of the school. The project is to raise money for the Undergraduate Experiential Learning Fund with a goal of $15,000. We all know that learning occurs beyond the classroom and the MSE is constantly finding new ways to make this happen.  They organize public lectures, encourage students to participate in their “Thoreau Retreat” at Mont St Hilaire or provide support for an extracurricular project.  This fund will continue to support undergraduate research awards, the new Montreal Urban Sustainability Experience.  Maybe you received an MSE award to help support your undergraduate research!

Can technology be used to significantly boost the production of food? The A. Jean de Grandpré Lecture Series tackles the question. Click to read more...

The A. Jean de Grandpre Lecture Series

With increasing scarcity of land and water resources, as well as rising energy prices, there are major concerns about the ability to secure the necessary food supplies for a growing world population. Global food production is further constrained climate change, droughts, natural disasters, demand for biofuels, imperfect market arrangements, and changes in dietary patterns of a growing middle class in the emerging economies.

The need for food security and access to safe and healthy food is forcing us to examine how all types of technology can be used to significantly boost the production of food, particularly in the developing world.

Join our panelists, Dr. Morven McLean (Director, ILSI Research Foundation), Mark Lynas (author, The God Species) and Jay Bradshaw (President, Syngenta Canada) as they share their views on these issues, presenting insights on practices and policies that may help to alleviate world hunger and malnutrition. 

October 16, 2013 at Moyse Hall 853 Sherbrooke St. West, Arts Building, McGill University
5:30-8pm lecture/presentation; reception to follow
Cost: $15
Online registration information will be available soon.

The inaugural Ian and Jayne Munro Chair in Food Safety, Dr. Lawrence D. Goodridge, is poised to lead the program into the future. Click to read more...

Meet Lawrence Goodridge, Inaugural Ian & Jayne Munro Chair in Food Safety

McGill University’s Food Safety and Quality Program (FSQP) received a major boost in 2011 with the establishment of the Ian and Jayne Munro Chair in Food Safety. This $1.5-million gift from leading food safety researcher and McGill graduate Dr. Ian C. Munro, and his wife Jayne Munro gives McGill the means, in perpetuity, to fund world-class scholars, lead new research initiatives, attract talented students and work with the food industry to meet their needs.

Dr. Lawrence Goodridge is the Ian and Jayne Munro Chair in Food Safety. Before joining the faculty, Professor Goodridge was an Associate Professor of Food Microbiology in the Centre for Meat Safety and Quality, Department of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University.  His research focused on the development of rapid tests to detect foodborne and waterborne pathogens with an emphasis on bacteria including E. coli, Salmonella spp., and Listeria monocytogenes, as well as foodborne viruses, foodborne toxins and fecal contamination in food and water.   Dr. Goodridge has published 36 peer-reviewed journal articles and 13 book chapters and currently serves on the US National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods, and the National Academics of Science National Research Council Committee on the Use of Public Health Data in FSIS Food Safety Programs.

Several recent outbreaks of foodborne disease have served as a reminder that there remains an acute need to improve the safety of the Canadian food supply.  This includes food produced within Canada, as well as foods imported from other countries for Canadian consumption.  The challenges associated with the production of safe food in Canada generally mirror those in other developed countries and include the need to ensure that the chances of microbial contamination are reduced for foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables that are consumed raw; that foods of animal origin are processed and handled adequately such that the chances of cross contamination (the spread of bacteria from one piece of food to another) are minimized; and a need to ensure that water used in food production (irrigation water, water used to wash foods etc.) is of potable quality.  Other challenges include the need to train the people who produce and consume food including farmers, food processors, and consumers with respect to proper food handling and storage techniques to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. 

As the inaugural holder of the Ian and Jayne Munro Chair in Food Safety, Dr. Goodridge plans to address these challenges by targeting the three pillars of a modern food safety research and education programme, including cutting edge research on food safety problems, training the next generation of food safety professionals, and outreach to the Canadian food industry to provide assistance with any potential issues that may arise.  These pillars are more fully expanded upon below. 

Food Safety Research

As we consume more foods that are imported, it is important to understand that many of the countries producing these foods do not have food safety guidelines that are as stringent as Canadian guidelines.  This means that there is the potential for many imported foods to be contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms and harmful chemicals.  Research conducted as part of the food safety programme will be aimed at developing more robust, rapid methods that can be used to test foods for the presence of contaminants and deliver test results within hours as opposed to days, which is the current paradigm.  Other research projects will focus on the development of natural antimicrobials (compounds that are naturally present in the environment that are effective at killing bacteria and virsues in foods), and methods to ensure that water used in food production is safe for consumption.


As food production becomes more and more industrial and global, it will be important to ensure that the next generation of employees in the food industry is adequately trained to handle not only the current challenges associated with food production, but also future challenges that may arise.  Undergraduate and Graduate students in the Food Safety Programme at McGill will receive enhanced training in food production, food process control, public health, food regulations (laws) and food economics through interactions with Professors across many of McGill’s Faculties as well as internships with Canadian food companies.  The goal will be to produce well-rounded students who are immediately prepared to enter the food industry, and who have an effective blend of theory and practical knowledge.  In addition to training students, it will also be necessary to conduct continuing education for professionals who are currently working in the food industry.  This is needed because regulations and technology are often introduced to the food industry at breakneck pace, and keeping up with all of the advances on a continuous basis can be daunting.  Training of food industry professionals will occur through short 2-3 day workshops that will be offered on a variety of topics that are important to the Canadian food industry.

Food Industry Outreach

Perhaps the most important aspect of the Food Safety Programme will be to continually reach out to the food industry to provide assistance with acute issues (recalls of product, implementing new food regulations), as well as to provide an avenue for ongoing dialogue with respect to exploring ways to improve Canadian food safety.  Dr. Goodridge plans to be in constant contact with Canadian food companies through food safety forums that are held on the Macdonald Campus, as well as through targeted visits to companies, and the afore mentioned training workshops.

"The need for a safe food and water supply is a discussion that is often overlooked in developed nations such as Canada, where economic prosperity and a high standard of living obscures the fact that such issues persist.  In general, there is a reactive approach to food safety where no actions are taken until there is a large outbreak of foodborne illness." says Dr Goodridge. "We need to move from a reactive approach to a proactive one, in which problems associated with food production are solved before they cause illness.  As the first holder of the Ian and Jayne Munro Chair in Food Safety, I am pleased to return to Canada, and to help lead the food industry in such a transition."  

International collaboration on water issues
|Courtney Mullins

As water scarcity concerns become increasingly prevalent due to climate change, environmental degradation, and rapid population growth, students of McGill’s Integrated Water Resource Management and Environmental Sciences programs have been working to uncover solutions on the global stage.  International exchange opportunities have been made possible with the financial support of generous donors, who have created dedicated travel awards that aim to foster deeper international partnerships and innovative research between McGill’s Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and universities abroad.

Seawater desalination, streamflow forecasting, hydrological modelling, and effluent upgrading for wastewater reuse are among the research areas McGill students have had the opportunity to be involved in thanks to these travel awards. They are topics of increasing importance in water-rich Canada, but of utmost significance in drier parts of the world, such as the desert regions of Israel and Gaza, where Jane Morrison spent a summer doing independent research on greywater recycling and wastewater treatment systems.

“I was exposed to many innovations in permaculture and was fascinated to see how these practices could be applied in poor environmental and political conditions,” states Jane, who observed the Israeli-Palestinian water conflict firsthand during her internship. “By working proactively to restore the environment, these community members can achieve self-sufficiency and are able to provide for their families in a way that is honest, sustainable, and healthy for the people and the environment.”

Her experience at the Technion-Israeli Institute of Technology was made possible by the Casgrain Travel Fund for Water Resource Management.  The Douglas H. Macaulay McGill-Macaulay Institute Student Travel Fund provides similar international exchange opportunities in Scotland, and the Norman Zavalkoff Family Foundation Travel Fund for Water Resource Management does so with the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research in Israel.  After successful internships, several McGill graduates have returned to their host academic institution to pursue their studies.

Not only have these international exchanges given students an invaluable opportunity to advance their academic careers, but they have also provided them with an appreciation for how water resource management research is having a concrete impact on the quality of life of the families they have met along the way.  

As more and more countries around the world face increasing uncertainty about their ability to provide ample, safe, and sustainable potable water, local solutions need to be exported. Thanks to the Casgrain, Macaulay, and Zavalkoff travel awards, McGill students are on the ground where the needs are significant and are well poised to help facilitate this international collaboration.