Portrait of Robert and Margaret Hurley
Photo of Robert and Margaret Hurley in 1965. (Provided by the Hurley family)
  • National Philanthropy Day

Creating possibility for future engineers

Morrison Hurley was sorting through his dad’s Canadian army items when he stumbled upon an acceptance letter to Queen’s engineering program from 1937. 

But, being the second youngest of seven children during the Great Depression, Morrison’s father, Robert, could not afford to follow his dream. Instead, Robert made the decision to go to work in a Northern Quebec copper mine and, when the Second World War started, he joined the armed forces as a part of the Grey and Simcoe Foresters in June 1940.

Robert, who grew up in Owen Sound, Ont., trained as a signalman but was transferred to the artillery unit to learn radar – an area that was kept secret and those involved were sworn to secrecy for 50 years. Morrison says he does not know exactly what his father did, except that he told family he was sent to radar school many times over the years. He progressed through was ranks and was finally commissioned as a lieutenant in charge of the radio control station at Chebucto Head, N.S. 

In November 1945, Robert was discharged from the army and came home. According to his discharge interview, which Morrison found in his father’s record of service, he was thinking of setting up a radio repair shop with his brother and/or applying to Queen’s to study electrical engineering.

For whatever reason, Robert did not reapply to Queen’s. He then spent 27 years at RCA Victor Canada as the quality control supervisor for the company that made wood cabinets for radio, stereo consoles, and, eventually, television sets for North America. After a few more years in similar roles at smaller companies, he retired. His hobby throughout all this time was fixing radios and TVs – a hobby passed on to his grandson who builds amplifiers, preamps, and other electronics from scratch.
Robert died in 1983 at age 65.

Unlike his parents, Morrison, a retired medical doctor living in London, Ont., was fortunate enough to pursue higher education, as was his wife, Brenda, and their two children. Along with Brenda, Morrison decided to establish The Margaret and Robert Hurley Award in his parents’ honour, so others don’t miss out on their goals like his father did. 

“My father was unable to follow through with his earlier plans in engineering, so we hope this award will help the recipients follow through with theirs,” Morrison says. 

About The Margaret and Robert Hurley Award

The Margaret and Robert Hurley entrance award is given on the basis of demonstrated financial need and academic achievement to students entering their first year of a Bachelor of Applied Science in the Faculty of Engineering.