In Memoriam

Bob Phillips

 

Robert Arthur John (Bob) Phillips

(1922 - 2003)

The citation for Bob Phillips’ membership in the Order of Canada awarded in 1987 is: 
“A former soldier, diplomat and public servant, this writer and lecturer has laboured for many years, personally and through organizations at the local and national level, to increase public awareness of our Canadian heritage. His pioneering work in this field was acknowledged by his appointment as the founding President of Heritage Canada.”

Bob dedicated most of his life to heritage conservation. At the grassroots level, he wrote several books, hundreds of articles about heritage conservation for newspapers and feature stories in magazines, and travelled across Canada, U.S.A., Europe and even Iraq to examine international heritage conservation strategies and to give speaking tours about heritage conservation.

With his wife Mary Anne and friends, he created “A Capital for Canadians” in 1967, which evolved into Heritage Ottawa in 1975 with Bob as its president. They were responsible for saving such historic Ottawa landmarks as the Ottawa Union Station, Fraser School House, Byward Market Building, Nicholas Street Jail, Parliament’s East Block, the Aberdeen Pavilion, the Billings Estate, Sunnyside Fire Station, Rideau Street Convent, Ottawa Teachers’ College and was part of the discussion to transform the Rideau Canal into the world’s largest skating rink! He was awarded Ottawa’s Civic Appreciation Award for heritage.

In 1976, he moved to Cantley Quebec. He became president of the Gatineau Valley Historical Society, which awarded him an honourary lifetime membership in 1989 as: “a leader in the heritage movement in Canada, the founding director of Heritage Canada, and a former president of our Society.” He is credited with discovering the burial plot in Chelsea of Pte. Richard Thompson, Canada’s only winner of the Queen’s Scarf”.He founded the local historical society in Cantley and wrote thebook “The History of Cantley”. In 2005, the Regional Association of West Quebec presented posthumously his award for “Outstanding Leadership”.

Convinced of the need for a non-governmental heritage organization to play the role of a national trust, Bob helped convince the government of Canada to create the Heritage Canada Foundation in 1973 with an endowment of $12 M. He was its founding Executive Director until 1978. Heritage Canada Foundation is now called the National Trust for Canada.

As a project for Canada’s centennial in 1967, Bob and Mary-Anne rescued an endangered 1860’s pioneer log cabin from a farm west of Ottawa then moved and resurrected it on their 28-acre Cantley property in the Gatineau. From 1967 to 1982, Bob and Mary-Anne moved and restored 6 endangered pioneer log buildings on to their Cantley property. The largest was La Grange, one of the largest log house restoration projects in Canada. A devastating fire in 1992 destroyed everything in this massive log barn except for its log walls. It was rebuilt within a year. It has taken on yet another life today as “La Grange de la Gatineau”, a favourite spot for meetings and weddings.

During his retirement, Bob purchased, and was editor of, two community newspapers. He also wrote 646 weekly columns for the Ottawa Citizen, many of which had a heritage theme. He continued with his writing, volunteer work for local heritage groups and taking care of his beloved Grange and log buildings on his Cantley property.

Margaret Phillips. June 21, 2017

[click] Heritage Canada Magazine 1974

[click] Obituary - Gatineau Valley Historical Society Newsletter

[click] Obituary - Ottawa Citizen newspaper

[click] Ottawa Appreciation Award

Images

Bob Phillips

Bob Phillips had a remarkable career as a diplomat and journalist

Bob Phillips

Bob Phillips

He wrote several books, hundreds of articles about heritage conservation for newspapers and feature stories in magazines.

Union Station Ottawa

Union Station in Ottawa. One of the many buildings that Bob helped to save. Following are other buildings that he helped to save in the national capital region.

Fraser School House Ottawa

Parliament East Block

Aberdeen Pavilion

Billings Estate

Sunny Side Firestation Ottawa

Rideau Street Convent Ottawa

Teachers College Ottawa

Bob Phillips Order of Canada

Bob Phillips & Heritage Canada HQ

Bob Phillips - La Grange

Bob Phillips - The grange

Bob Phillips