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Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission's (CNSC's) past presidents

Explore the lives and contributions of the CNSC's past presidents

Andrew McNaughton
General Andrew McNaughton

General Andrew McNaughton (1946–1948)

A jack of all trades and significant presence in Canadian history, General Andrew George Latta McNaughton was the first President of the Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB), the CNSC's predecessor. Renowned for his keen intellect and innate leadership capabilities, he initiated a tradition of providing Canadians with a safe nuclear industry. McNaughton held the AECB presidency from 1946 until 1948; however, his involvement with the AECB was just one of many significant positions he held over the course of a demanding and diverse career.

General McNaughton was born in Moosomin, Saskatchewan (formerly of the Northwest Territories) in 1887. Demonstrating an interest in science at an early age, he attended McGill University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree in physics and engineering.

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Chalmers J. MacKenzie (1948–1961)

Chalmers J. MacKenzie
Chalmers J. MacKenzie

Chalmers Jack Mackenzie was born in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, on July 10, 1888. The son of a master mason and builder, he was the youngest of six children. Mackenzie forged his way to the top of his peer group at Dalhousie University while pursuing an engineering degree. In 1909, he graduated from Dalhousie with a degree in civil engineering.

After attaining his baccalaureate, Mackenzie was invited to create an engineering program at the University of Saskatchewan. Mackenzie dedicated a couple of years to the program but shortly after commencing his position as a professor of engineering, he interrupted his post to pursue further education at Harvard University. Completing his degree in record time, Mackenzie graduated from Harvard with a master's degree in civil engineering and returned to teach at the University of Saskatchewan.

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George C. Laurence (1961–1970)

George C. Laurence
George C. Laurence

George Craig Laurence was born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, in 1905. Laurence attended Dalhousie University in Halifax, where he graduated with degrees in science at the bachelor's and master's levels. Although Laurence eventually found himself immersed in the field of physics, his initial intention was to study general arts. After discovering a passion for physics, he pursued a doctoral degree at Cambridge University under the guidance of Ernest Rutherford. Rutherford and his colleagues at Cambridge University were positioned at the forefront of the nuclear field when Laurence began his doctoral degree. It was during this time that Laurence began to understand the complexities of nuclear physics.

In 1930, Laurence returned to Canada to work for the National Research Council (NRC). Laurence was tasked with establishing a laboratory for studying radiation. The primary focus of Laurence's laboratory was to develop methods of measuring radiation in the treatment of cancer. Practitioners were aware of the need to protect patients from radiation, but this field of study was still new.

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Donald G. Hurst (1970–1974)

Donald G. Hurst
Donald G. Hurst

Donald Geoffrey Hurst was the President of the AECB from 1970 to 1974. During his brief four-year term as AECB President, Hurst was challenged with an influx of activity within the nuclear sector. Following the tumultuous Cold War era, the nuclear industry faced several monumental events. From the development of international non-proliferation strategies to the discovery of radioactive contamination in Port Hope and the construction of the first nuclear reactors in Canada, Hurst and the nuclear community were immersed in a significant transitional period. Further increasing the pace of development was an oil embargo, which placed renewed importance on domestic and diversified energy sources. Nuclear advancement and regulation became a focal point in national and international political arenas.

To tackle the challenges of an evolving industry, Donald Hurst was selected for his comprehensive understanding of nuclear science and his experience within the Canadian nuclear sector. Hurst had significant experience working within the Canadian nuclear sector, which allowed him to address challenges presented during the early 1970s and to become known as an influential AECB President. Hurst dedicated his life to the development of the nuclear field, as a student, a physicist and administrator.

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Alan T. Prince (1975–1978)

Alan T. Prince
Alan T. Prince

Dr. Alan T. Prince was the president of the AECB from 1975–1978. A geologist by trade, Prince was recognized for his expertise in the geological field, receiving the Coleman Gold Medal in Geology from the University of Toronto. Preceding his term as the AECB president, Prince held senior positions within the energy sector and the mining industry.

For three years, Dr. Prince was the president of the AECB, a deceptively short period of time given the events that occurred. During this time, communication with the Canadian citizenry became a priority for the AECB; a priority which remains central to the present day. The AECB placed renewed importance on the nuclear sector's responsibility to be accountable for their decisions. Consequently, The Nuclear Liability Act came into force, the Canadian Safeguards Support Program was initiated, The Nuclear Control and Administration Act was tabled in the House of Commons, and radioactive contamination clean-up initiatives were implemented.

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Jon H. Jennekens (1978–1987)

Jon H. Jennekens
Jon H. Jennekens

From 1978 until 1987, the Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB) was led by Jon Jennekens. During his time as president, Jennekens was faced with two of the world's most significant nuclear incidents in the history of the nuclear sector : Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.

Jon Jennekens was born in Toronto on October 21, 1932. He began his university career in Kingston, at the Royal Military College (RMC) in 1950, studying mechanical engineering. After graduating from RMC in 1954, Jennekens attended Queen's University and graduated with a degree in applied sciences in 1956.

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René J. A. Lévesque (1987–1993)

René J. A. Lévesque
René J. A. Lévesque

René J. A. Lévesque was the president of the AECB from 1987 to 1993. Originally a career academic in the field of nuclear physics, Lévesque dedicated his working years to the betterment of nuclear sciences and the Canadian nuclear sector.

In 1952, Lévesque obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Concordia University. Acquiring a taste for academic life, he spent the next five years at Northwestern University, working towards his PhD.

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Agnes J. Bishop (1994–2001)

Agnes J. Bishop
Agnes J. Bishop

Agnes J. Bishop, MD, was the president of the AECB/CNSC from 1994 until 2001. Expertise in the medical field positioned Dr. Bishop as an ideal candidate for this post, reassuring Canadians of the nuclear sector's prioritization of health and safety. 

Before joining the AECB, Bishop practiced medicine in Winnipeg. A renowned pediatrician specializing in pediatric hematology and oncology, Bishop was the physician-in-chief at the Children's Hospital of Winnipeg, the head of Pediatrics at St. Boniface General Hospital and the chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Manitoba. Bishop was also the first woman to be selected by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada to be their president, an opportunity she turned down in exchange for the position of AECB president.

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Linda J. Keen (2001–2008)

Linda J. Keen
Linda J. Keen

Linda Keen was the CEO and President of the CNSC from 2001 to 2008. A scientific background and extensive experience in natural resources management rendered Keen well suited to the challenges inherent to the nuclear sector.

Originally from western Canada, Keen graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and a Master of Science degree in agricultural sciences. Beginning her career as a chemist, Keen worked within several fields, namely: agriculture, mining and nuclear.

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