George and Joanne MacDonald, painting by Chris Hopkins.

FASS News, Faculty

In memoriam: Dr. George F. MacDonald (1938-2020)

January 27, 2020

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) at SFU is greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. George F. MacDonald. Dr. MacDonald was an adjunct professor in the Departments of Archaeology and Indigenous Studies at SFU.

“Simon Fraser University and FASS extend our deepest sympathies to George MacDonald’s friends and family,” says acting dean Lisa Shapiro. “George MacDonald was an impressive individual with an encyclopedic knowledge of the archaeology and ethnohistory of First Peoples across Canada, and especially coastal British Columbia.”

MacDonald rose through the ranks of Canada’s National Museum to become its president and CEO in 1983. He was the guiding force behind the conception and development of the Canadian Museum of Civilization (CMC, now the Canadian Museum of History), now a world class institution and monument to the rich cultural diversity of our country.

MacDonald’s appreciation and respect for the First Peoples of B.C.’s Northwest Coast opened his interest in the diverse cultural expressions that occupied so much of his life. MacDonald’s work was truly his passion. Among many of his contributions to Canadian museology and heritage studies was his early embrace of technology and his recognition of how it can bring cultures together.

Following his tenure at the CMC, MacDonald played a pivotal role bringing to life the Bill Reid Foundation and Gallery in downtown Vancouver, as well as the Bill Reid Centre at SFU which cares for the George and Joanne MacDonald Northwest Coast research collection.