Who’s that building named after? : Burnaby campus edition

Thanks for the funding and dedication to science, y’all!

Image credit: Chris Ho / The Peak

By: Juztin Bello, Mishaa Khan, Jennifer Low, Lubaba Mahmud, Gabrielle McLaren, and Olivia Roberts

W.A.C. Bennett Library
As a place that adheres to different student needs — whether that be as a spot for exam cramming, a trove for the perfect essay sources, or an escape for a solid mid-day nap — the W.A.C. Bennett Library has been there for us all at one point or another. Despite this familiarity, many might not know that the library is named after a former Premier of British Columbia. Born in 1900, William Andrew Cecil Bennett is the longest running premier in BC history. Before entering the world of politics, Bennett started as a hardware store owner in 1930, owning and operating the very successful five-chain Bennett’s Hardware. Following various other ventures (including a wine-making company) Bennett eventually pursued politics in 1941 as a Conservative member of the BC Legislature.

After failing to be elected as a member of the Conservative party, Bennett eventually became premier as the leader of BC’s Social Credit Party in 1952. He successfully won seven consecutive elections, with his run eventually ending in 1972 at the hands of Dave Barrett and the New Democrats. The two-decade premier died in 1979, where he was buried at Kelowna Municipal Cemetery. You can find a photo of Bennett in the library on the third floor, opposite the south west elevators.

Fun fact, Bennett was often called “Wacky” Bennett by enemies and “CeCe” by close friends. So for the days where the book you need has been taken out by someone else, or that perfect nap spot has been claimed by another, feel free to vent your library frustrations in the name of good ol’ Wacky himself. — JB

Maggie Benston Centre
Maggie Benston Centre, commonly referred to as MBC, is a place to find all your student service needs neatly housed in a mundane looking, blue-gray building. However, it is named after someone who could not be farther from mundane: Margaret Lowe Benston, an SFU professor in computing science, chemistry, and women’s studies.

It’s hard enough to be a professor in one department, but Benston managed to be in three! She advocated for women’s rights and co-founded the Women’s Studies program in 1975 and the Vancouver Women’s Caucus in 1988. Even though Benston unfortunately died of cancer in 1991, the progress she made for women’s rights, chemistry, and computing science will always serve as a reminder of her greatness. SFU honored her legacy by naming a building and a graduate bursary in the Gender Sexuality and Women’s Studies department after her. —MK


Trottier Observatory

The Trottier Observatory is named after two brothers with a passion for science and the Trottier Family Foundation, which donated $2.7 million to help fund campus’ $4.4 million telescope.

Older brother Lorne Trottier discovered a love of science and technology at a young age after building his first crystal radio and feeling fascinated by how it worked. This curiosity later helped him become an electronics engineer and a cofounder of Matrox, a technology company in Montreal that produces computer graphics and video products. He and Louise Rousselle Trottier established the Trottier Family Foundation in 2000, an organization interested in supporting innovations in health, education, science and the environment.
His younger brother Dr. Howard Trottier became a physics professor at SFU, and an amateur astronomer and astrophotographer. Dr. Trottier fell in love with the night sky at a young age, after being introduced to its beauty by a camp counselor in the Laurentians. He would go on to share this passion with others by founding the Starry Nights at SFU program in order to increase science outreach to young people. — JL
Diamond Alumni Centre

Jack Diamond was a self-made millionaire, philanthropist, sportsman, and community-minded person. Diamond came to Canada from Poland at the tender age of 17 as a poor boy. He first made his living here by selling potatoes on the streets, when he often went hungry. Working his way up, he later purchased the Pacific Meat Company in 1940 and transformed it into the largest packing house in BC. When he became a member of SFU’s board of governors, he included a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of milk for $1 on the cafeteria menu, so that students would never go hungry like he once did. He even visited the cafeteria to ensure that the cheese was thickly sliced!

He served on SFU’s board of governors from 1967 to 1973, and was elected chancellor from 1975 to 1978. The Diamonds helped to raise over $1 million for the university while undertaking various other civic projects focussing on health, welfare and education. Jack Diamond was bestowed with Canada’s highest honour, the Companion of the Order of Canada, for his countless philanthropic and civic endeavours. With its stunning panoramic view of the mountains and sophisticated interior, the Diamond Alumni Centre (DAC — previously named the Jack and Sadie Diamond University Centre) is easily one of the most beautiful places on Burnaby campus. We are eternally thankful to Jack and Sadie Diamond for their generous and heartfelt contributions to the SFU community. — LM


Blusson Hall

Blusson Hall is one of the nice, luminous, shiny new parts of campus — which checks out since it was named after someone literally rolling in diamonds. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but Stewart Blusson is truly a pioneer as far as mining and geological research and exploration goes. Educated at UBC and the University of California in Berkeley, Blusson has worked for the Geological Survey of Canada among other initiatives. He was central to the discovery of diamond mines in the territories in the early 1990s and the ensuing development of a Canadian diamond industry. His efforts were originally discouraged by traditionalists, but Blusson’s ingenuity and perseverance paid off. He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2004, and given the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal and the Logan Award — which is the highest award that the Geological Association of Canada gives out. While Blusson Hall is far from being his only philanthropic activity, we’re certainly thankful to Stewart Blusson for giving us one (1) safe haven from the construction noise and convocation hullabaloo. — GM


Robert C. Brown Hall

Following the long and storied SFU history of naming buildings after presidents, Robert C. Brown Hall, a maze of (rumoured) asbestos filled classrooms is no exception. A man close to my geography-laden heart, Robert (Bob) Brown got his BA and MSc in Geography from Oregon State University, and his Ph.D in Geography from Michigan State University. He spent his career focusing on ichthyology — literally fish science — and fishery research. He was SFU’s Dean of the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies (1972–1976), Faculty of Arts (1976–1991), as well as the Acting president in 1993. Additionally, he was President of the Burnaby Mountain Development Corporation (Univercity Project) from 1996–1999. So, if you’re currently paying thousands of dollars for the honour of living near Nesters and MINISO, he’s the one to blame. — OR