Winegard had a distinguished career as an engineer, researcher, professor, university president, and politician. He served on IDRC’s Board of Governors from March 1974 until June 1980, covering a crucial period in IDRC’s history following its founding in 1970.
Born in 1924 in Hamilton, Ontario, Winegard earned a BSc and PhD in metallurgy at the University of Toronto, where he became a professor and assistant dean in the university’s School of Graduate Studies. In 1967, he became the second president of the University of Guelph, serving in that role until 1975.
From 1984 until 1993, Winegard served as a Member of Parliament in the Progressive Conservative government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. In the Commons, he chaired the Standing Committee on External Affairs and International Trade, and later became Canada’s first Minister for Science.
Winegard’s experience with IDRC stayed with him during his time in politics. At one point he referred to IDRC as “the jewel of Canada’s ODA [official development assistance]”. He led a report on Canada’s international assistance that recommended that IDRC research be built into and more effectively relate to projects run by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Officially the report was called The 1987 Report of the Standing Committee on External Affairs and International Trade on Canada’s Official Development Assistance Policies and Programs, but it became commonly known as “the Winegard Report”.
Winegard’s career reflected his life-long commitment to research and to empowering communities in developing countries to identify and implement sustainable solutions. “Long-term charity is not acceptable to any nation; in the short-term it is tolerable,” Winegard said in a 1974 convocation address at the University of Guelph. “There is only one answer — we must make it possible for the developing nations to feed themselves. Those are high-sounding words, but it is possible according to [then-IDRC President] Dr David Hopper of the International Development Research Centre.”
IDRC extends its deepest sympathies to William Winegard’s family, friends, and former colleagues.