T. Patrick Boyle helped found the Fraser Institute in 1974 while he was a vice-president with MacMillan Bloedel in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Institute’s evolution into Canada’s leading public policy think tank can be directly traced back to Mr. Boyle’s vision, persistence and dedication.
Mr. Boyle was born in England in 1918 and emigrated to Canada in 1927. Attending high school in Montreal, he began a life-long interest in radio technology, obtaining a federal amateur radio license. After graduating, he joined the Canadian Marconi Company, becoming the youngest foreman in the firm’s history before resigning in 1938 to begin a degree in science at Bishop’s University.
Upon graduating in 1942, Mr. Boyle joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. After successfully completing assignments to establish ground radar stations to guard vital bases and resources, he was appointed special officer to the North Atlantic anti-submarine warfare airborne campaign. In this key post, he was responsible for the installation and maintenance of secret radio/sonic weaponry for all Newfoundland-based squadrons, and for training crews in the use of this equipment, which played an important role in winning the Battle of the Atlantic. Mr. Boyle later served in H.Q. Eastern Air Command and in No. 6 Bomber Command.
At war’s end, Mr. Boyle resumed his civilian career, completing a degree in business administration at the University of Western Ontario in 1946. After joining the Northern Electric Company, he decided to quit the field of electronics, and left the firm in 1947 to pursue broader interests in industrial finance.
Over the following years, Mr. Boyle sought challenge after challenge, playing an important role, as Controller or Chief Financial Officer, in improving the profitability of a number of major companies. In 1963, he joined MacMillan Bloedel Limited as Vice-President and the firm’s first world-wide Corporate Controller. In addition to being intimately involved in the in-province operations of the firm and its 20,000 employees, Mr. Boyle was also instrumental in the company establishing profitable operations abroad.
During his climb up the corporate ladder, Mr. Boyle became increasingly concerned with the content of debate in Canada about the most important economic and social issues. He observed that there was little or no effort being made to ascertain the role that competitive markets could play in solving economic problems and in improving the well-being of Canadians. Indeed, the drift of opinion in the country was strongly in favour of increasing government intervention in the economy and society.
It was Mr. Boyle’s genius, not only to recognize these realities and the grave dangers they posed for the country, but to understand the vital role played by public education and to envisage and establish an organization to act in this field. He realized that such an organization, by bringing high quality research on public policy issues to the attention of Canadians and their elected leaders, could play an important role in improving public policy.
To this end, the Fraser Institute was established in 1974. The early years were difficult ones, and the Institute could not have survived without Mr. Boyle’s vigorous and principled pursuit of the goals he had set out for the organization. In 1977, he retired from corporate employment to devote more time to the Institute, and he has remained active in Institute affairs since that time. In 1984, he wrote Elections British Columbia, the first complete analysis of electoral outcomes in the province, which resulted in several important electoral reforms. For many years he served as Vice-Chairman of the Institute’s Board of Trustees.
Mr. Boyle was a founding trustee of the Atlas Foundation, which was established in 1975 to support the growth of public policy institutes around the world, and served on its Board until 1988. As a result, the Fraser Institute was able to establish important research alliances, which continue to the benefit of all parties concerned.
Today, Mr. Boyle’s vision has been vindicated. The Fraser Institute is now Canada’s leading independent public policy research and education organization, and its research has been used to improve public policy in Canada and around the world.