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St. Michael’s mourns the loss of former board member and donor Wallace McCain

Toronto, May 16, 2011

Wallace McCain Wallace McCain

St. Michael’s was deeply saddened to learn of the death of long-time hospital supporter and co-founder of McCain Foods, Wallace McCain over the weekend. McCain passed away Saturday at age 81 following a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer.

A member of the hospital board of directors from 1999 to 2009, McCain also served on the hospital foundation board. He held positions on the hospital’s business services and audit committees and worked tirelessly to make hospital priorities a reality.

McCain launched a fundraising campaign, in honour of former hospital physician Dr. Joe Connon, for a new surgical robotic device with a $1 million lead donation. The device allows doctors to perform complex operations through tiny incisions, reducing complications and long hospital stays for patients. Thanks to McCain’s efforts, the hospital became the first in Toronto to purchase the robot and perform surgery using the groundbreaking technology.

“Wallace McCain was a tremendous visionary and inspiring leader who had a deep admiration and great respect for the work of staff and physicians at St. Michael’s,” hospital president and CEO Dr. Robert Howard said. “Yet he had an ability to ask the tough questions no one else wanted to ask in a way that endeared himself to others. He will be sorely missed by the entire St. Michael’s family and his legacy and contribution to St. Michael’s will not be forgotten.”

In March, Wallace and his wife Margaret donated $5 million to the hospital’s therapeutic endoscopy program in honour of hospital physician Dr. Paul Kortan and his colleagues. The donation allows St. Michael’s to recruit a world-class physician-researcher for the program — one of the largest and most advanced in Canada. This individual will hold the Wallace and Margaret McCain Chair in Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

“Wallace McCain was a great friend of St. Michael's Hospital and everyone he touched,” former hospital board chair Bill Downe said. “His generosity went way beyond philanthropic giving. He gave of his time, his judgment and advice and he cared deeply about St. Michael’s and everyone who is a part of the hospital community.”

McCain co-founded McCain Foods Ltd with his brother Harrison in 1956 in Florenceville, N.B., and began operating their first frozen french fry plant a year later. Today, the company is an international leader in the frozen food industry and the world’s largest manufacturer of french fries. In 1995, McCain acquired Maple Leaf Foods and later became chairman of the board until his death.

“Wallace McCain was a brilliant businessman who always challenged St. Michaels to do better,” former St. Michael’s president and CEO Jeff Lozon said. “He remained committed to helping set St. Michael’s apart as a true leader in health-care.”

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