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Remembering Wendy McDonald, The Board’s first female chair

January 07, 2013

Wendy McDonald, one of Canada's female business trailblazers, passed away on Dec. 30, 2012. McDonald served as the first chair of The Vancouver Board of Trade in 1990. Above is the cover image from the book You Got that Right! The Story of Wendy McDonald and BC Bearing Engineers.

The Vancouver Board of Trade’s first female chair, Wendy McDonald, passed away on Dec. 30 at age 90.

Over her 50-plus-year career, the former president of BC Bearing Engineers Ltd. broke down barriers for female business leaders across Canada. She built a hugely successful business empire, and in doing so, she garnered more than a dozen prestigious awards and accolades — including an induction in the B.C. Hall of Fame, a Canadian Woman Entrepreneur lifetime achievement award, and membership in the Order of Canada.

McDonald also left an indelible mark on The Vancouver Board of Trade. After being named the organization’s first female chair in 1990, McDonald launched a federal debt clock that drew attention to Canada’s rapidly growing debt. The clock travelled the country, raising awareness and changing public opinion.  At the time, Canada’s $363 billion debt was climbing at a rate of $53,300 per minute. In 1998, then-finance minister Paul Martin hit the gong and stopped the clock at a special Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon. The clock stopped just shy of $600 billion.

In the same year, McDonald also led a mission to Ottawa and Washington, D.C., with then-mayor Gordon Campbell, to lobby for fast border lanes for business. This led to the first incarnation of what is now known as the NEXUS system.

For more on McDonald’s life, read this tribute published in Sunday’s Vancouver Sun.

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