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Three Queen’s community members appointed to Order of Canada

[Ian Wilson, Britton Smith and Aubrey Dan]
Queen's community members Ian Wilson, Britton Smith, and Aubrey Dan were recently appointed to the Order of Canada. (University Communications)

Three members of the Queen’s community – an archivist who worked to make records more accessible to the public, and two business leaders whose generosity made a significant impact on the arts, education, and health care – have been appointed to the Order of Canada.

Archivist Ian Wilson (Arts’67, MA’74, LLD’09), real estate developer Britton Smith (LLD’09), and theatre producer Aubrey Dan were among the 83 recipients announced by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette on June 27.

Wilson is being honoured for his work on improving accessibility to public archives and for his published works on history and information management. His career started at Queen’s with a part-time job at Douglas Library before becoming the Queen’s archivist, a position he held until 1976. He was eventually appointed Canada’s chief librarian and archivist and was a big proponent of the shift to digitizing archival records and making the information more accessible to the public. He retired in 2008 and is currently a special advisor to the National Archives of the United Arab Emirates.

Smith is being recognized for his business leadership and philanthropy. He regularly donates to charities and non-profit organizations and has been a longtime supporter of Queen’s. His $9-million donation to the Queen’s Faculty of Health Sciences, which funded several new research chairs and new equipment, is helping develop new surgical procedures and train the next generation of doctors and nurses graduating from the university. His $1 million gift to the revitalization of Richardson Stadium helped build one of the top university football stadiums in Canada.

Smith’s business career started in Kingston in 1954 when he founded Homestead Land Holdings, which is now one of Canada’s largest residential companies, managing more than 26,000 apartments and several luxury residences.

Dan is a highly accomplished businessman and philanthropist, with a passion for the performing arts. He runs a successful private equity firm, Dancap, and is also a Tony Award-winning theatre producer with international and Broadway production and investment credits, including Jersey Boys, The Drowsy Chaperone, West Side Story, and A Streetcar Named Desire. Dan and his wife, Marla, have donated millions of dollars to charities, primarily focused on health care, education, and the arts.

In 2016, after their daughter graduated from the Queen’s Drama program, the couple made a $5-million donation to help Queen’s become the pre-eminent school for performing arts in Canada through investments in visiting professional instructors and increased support for scholarships and research. Queen’s named the Dan School of Drama and Music in their honour.

“I want to congratulate all three recipients on this well-deserved honour,” says Queen’s University Alumni Association President Jeremy Mosher, Artsci’08. “Through their hard work and generosity, they have made a tremendous impact on Queen’s, their communities, and across Canada.”

The Order of Canada was established in 1967. Queen’s alumnus and Member of Parliament John Matheson (Arts’40, LLD’80) was a driving force in its development. He said the Tricolour Society at Queen’s served as a model for the Order of Canada.

This article was first published on the Queen's Alumni website.