2008 Recipients

Byron E. Beeler, BSc(Agr)’58

Byron Beeler’s humble, rural childhood roots are the legend of great success stories, as he went on to enjoy a distinguished career with several international companies. After graduating from Macdonald College in 1958, Mr. Beeler joined the Ontario Department of Agriculture before pursuing his studies and later embarking on a career in the private sector in 1971, with Stewart Seeds. The company was purchased by Ciba-Geigy Canada, and later acquired by Switzerland-based Novartis. In 2001, Mr. Beeler was named President of Novartis Animal Health Canada, Inc., where he remained until retiring in August 2001. Mr. Beeler, who has won countless citations, including the Canadian Animal Health Institute’s Honorary Life Member award in 2003 and the University of Guelph Honorary Companion award in 2004, remains a tireless consultant to companies in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. He is also a long-time member of the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame.


George L. Bovell, BSc(Agr)’45
Margaret Bovell, BSc(HEc)’44, MSc’46

George and Margaret Bovell have been inseparable for over six decades. Born in Trinidad, George Bovell graduated from Mac in 1945 with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Honours), while Margaret was born in Eganville, Ontario, and first graduated in 1944 with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition (HEc), before completing a Masters degree in 1946. Mr. Bovell was hired by the Soil Surveying Department of the Ministry of Agriculture of Trinidad and Tobago, where he surveyed, identified and established that country’s first soil maps. In 1946, he managed a 1,100-acre coconut site and introduced the mechanization of the entire operation. That same year, he married the love of his life – Margaret Francis Mills. Over the next 15 years, they had six children, five of whom followed in their footsteps and graduated from McGill. In fact, a total of 10 members of the Bovell family have passed through McGill, including one son-in-law and two grandsons. Mr. Bovell has had a very busy and dedicated professional life. In the 1970s, he served as vice president of the Agricultural Society of Trinidad and Tobago, and in 1976 was elected to the Senate as the Independent Senator for Agriculture. The Bovells are known for breeding some of the finest thoroughbreds in the Caribbean through their Malabar Farm in Port of Spain. They have entertained princes, presidents and prime ministers. Their daughter, Jennifer Avey, is accepting the Macdonald Distinguished Alumni Award on their behalf.


Mairi Elizabeth Matheson, BSc(HEc)’56

Mairi Elizabeth Matheson obtained her Bachelor of Science (HEc) degree from McGill in 1956 before entering the Post Graduate Dietetics Diploma Program at the Calgary General Hospital (CGH). Her long and distinguished career spans five remarkable decades. She was an administrator, educator and dietitian at the CGH. She also taught at the Universities of Alberta and Calgary in the 1960s. She founded the Dietary Technology Program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. She launched Cochran Consulting Ltd., becoming the first dietitian in Western Canada to incorporate her own firm. Between 1965 and 1980, she volunteered with the Canadian Dietetic Association. She oversaw the distance learning program with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, between 1980 and 1999, and became executive director of Calgary’s Meals on Wheels from 1985 to 1993. She was the founding chair of the Calgary Boys and Girls Club FANS program in 1988 – a program that feeds about 4,000 children a day. She continues to serve on the Board of Directors of the federal Liberal Calgary Centre constituency.


Alton W. McEwen, BSc(Agr)’66

Alton McEwen grew up on a dairy farm in Ormstown, Quebec, where, he says, he learned just about everything he needed to learn to gain success in his professional life. After graduating from Macdonald in 1966, Mr. McEwen joined Ogilvie Flour Mills in Montreal and later moved to Labatt's Food Service Division in 1968, where he enjoyed a long and distinguished career, all the while operating a hobby beef farming operation. Mr. McEwen moved to Toronto to become president of Laura Secord, which was later sold to Rowntree MacIntosh. In 1987 he became a partner and president of “mmmarvellous mmmuffins” and Michael's Baguette restaurants. He acquired Second Cup in a partnership and was named president in 1988. The company expanded into the U.S. and Mr. McEwen moved to California to become president and CEO of Second Cup’s U.S. subsidiaries. He then launched Second Cup in the Middle East. Second Cup was sold to Cara Operations in 2002 on the condition that Mr. McEwen remain with the company and manage it for two years. He considers himself retired now, but it appears that “retirement” for Alton is a partial concept. He sits on the board of directors of Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee, a Vancouver-based leader in chemical-free decaffeination, and Distant Lands Coffee, which operates very high quality coffee farms in Costa Rica and a roasting plant in Texas.

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