A Champion for Child Welfare and Early Childhood Education

Wallace F. McCain tribute

The University of Toronto mourns the loss of Wallace McCain—an icon of international business, a devoted family man and a philanthropist who transformed higher education, health care and the arts in Canada.

“Wallace McCain was an extraordinary Canadian,” said University of Toronto President David Naylor. “From tiny Florenceville in New Brunswick, Wallace and his brother built McCain Foods into a world-wide business, and then he did it all over again with his sons at Maple Leaf Foods here in Toronto.

“Together with his brilliant wife, the Hon. Margaret Norrie McCain, Wallace generously supported a wide range of activity in the arts and education, and gave his time and wise counsel as a volunteer to many non-profit organizations. Wallace’s success made him a national icon and global business leader, but Wallace never forgot his roots. He was an unpretentious, straightforward, and big-hearted man who made a huge mark on Canada. I and countless others will miss him.”

Mr. McCain, who died at age 81 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, was a long-time supporter of the University of Toronto. Inspired by the work of his wife, Margaret, Mr. McCain was passionate about the University’s research and teaching on child welfare and early childhood education.

Together they established the Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Chair in Child and Family Studies at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. The chair is enabling Professor Faye Mishna, dean of Social Work, to conduct vital research on cyber bullying, cyber counseling and school-based interventions for students with learning disabilities.

Most recently, the McCains named a new wing of the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study. The Margaret and Wallace McCain Pavilion will be a centre of excellence for early childhood education, offering professional, academic and family outreach programming to the community.

Over the years, the McCains’ generosity also extended to U of T’s Faculty of Arts and Science, the Faculty of Music, the Faculty of Law and the Rotman School of Management.

Mr. McCain received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Toronto in 2007. Paul Martin, a former Canadian prime minister and a University of Toronto graduate, said what Wallace McCain built “is now part of our history. But what should be known as well was his infectious sense of humour, his compassion and generosity to so many causes dedicated to making the lives of Canadians better.” 

Wallace McCain certainly touched the lives of many at the University of Toronto. Thanks to his generosity, our researchers and students have an opportunity to strengthen the welfare and education of children for generations to come.

The entire University of Toronto community would like to extend its condolences to Wallace McCain’s immediate family – Margaret, Scott, Michael, Martha and Eleanor – and to the extended McCain clan and Mr. McCain’s many friends across Canada and around the world.
For more on the life of Wallace McCain, please visit the Wallace McCain tribute web site http://www.wallacemccaintribute.ca.