Canada's "Cranberry King" donates $1 million to Macdonald Campus

Published: 22 May 2009

Canada's "Cranberry King" donates $1 million to Macdonald Campus Gift helps Agricultural and Environmental Sciences students launch careers

As McGill University's Macdonald Campus celebrates its 2009 Convocation today, a gift of $1 million has arrived to help food sciences students at the Macdonald Campus better prepare for their transition to the work force.

McGill alumnus Marc Bieler - known as Canada's "Cranberry King" - has stepped forward to donate $1 million, the single largest gift from a graduate to the Macdonald Campus. President of Canneberges Atoka Cranberries Inc. of Quebec, Bieler and his family have created the Bieler Family Internship Fund, which will establish a work internship program for food sciences students in McGill's Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The new program will increase internship opportunities in the food industry by forging stronger ties between the entire McGill community and major food industry partners in Quebec, Canada and internationally. Leveraging the University's world-class expertise and resources, the gift will help open doors for students to gain experience in the real world, develop their knowledge in new areas, and begin building a fulfilling career path. McGill students will benefit from increased work opportunities prior to graduating, while food industry stakeholders will gain access to a pool of emerging young talent.

"McGill is an important institution - important to me and my family, to the Quebec community, and to the larger world," said Bieler, DipAgr'58, BA'64. "The Macdonald Campus is where I started my formal education and developed my passion for agriculture. I want to give something back to help students gain practical experience and figure out what they want to do in life."

Canneberges Atoka Cranberries Inc. is the biggest independent cranberry processor in Canada. Bieler is also President of Bieler Cranberries Inc., the largest single-site cranberry farm in the world, located in Manseau, Quebec. A loyal annual donor since 1964, Bieler has strong ties to McGill reaching back to the early 20th Century. His grandfather, Charles Bieler, was a professor of theology, his uncle Etienne was a professor of physics who worked with Nobel Prize winner Sir Ernest Rutherford. Eight members of Bieler's family are McGill graduates including his father Jean, BA'13, BCL'19; his uncle Jacques, BSc'23; his brother Philippe, BEng'55; his brother-in-law, former Montreal Neurological Institute director Dr. Donald Baxter, MSc'53; his wife Marie Bieler, BScAgr'80; and his daughter-in-law, Jacinthe Côté-Bieler, BSc(NutrSc'99), MSc'04.

"With this landmark gift, Mr. Bieler and his family have made a major contribution to McGill's Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences," said Dean Chandra A. Madramootoo. "We are sincerely grateful for their visionary support, which will help us provide real-world work experience for our food sciences students who will be tomorrow's leaders in the field."

Located on the green jewel of the Macdonald Campus at the western tip of the island of Montreal, McGill's Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences offers unique multidisciplinary programs that bring together health, environment, food and nutrition, bioproducts, biotechnology and the agriculture sectors. The Faculty is at the forefront of advances in applied bioscience, food, nutritional and environmental sciences research and teaching.

Publicly launched in October 2007, Campaign McGill: History in the Making seeks to raise the funds needed to attract and retain the world's best students and faculty, increase access to quality education, and enhance McGill's ability to address critical global challenges. To date, the Campaign has surpassed the $475 million mark, thanks to more than 67,600 donors worldwide.

For more information on the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, visit

For more information on Campaign McGill, visit

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