Nunavik co-op pioneer, ex-First Air boss named to Order of Canada
HBC veteran Peter Murdoch, aviation executive John Crichton win country’s highest civilian honour
Peter Murdoch, 84, a veteran Hudson’s Bay Co. clerk who helped start the co-op movement in Nunavik and John Crichton, 68, the man who ran First Air for many years and became the founding CEO of Nav Canada, are named as members of the Order of Canada, the Governor General’s office announced Dec. 26.
Murdoch will receive the honour for “his contributions to the economic development of the northern regions of Quebec as a driving force behind the co-operative movement,” a Rideau Hall press release said.
Known as “Pitaaluk” in Nunavik, Murdoch moved to the eastern Arctic from Newfoundland in 1947 at the age of 17, when the Hudson’s Bay Co. hired him to work as a clerk in Kimmirut, then called Lake Harbour.
Through the late 1940s and 1950s, Murdoch worked for the HBC in Cape Dorset, Pangnirtung, Pond Inlet, Clyde River, Kangiqsualujjuaq, Kangirsuk, Puvirnituq and Kuujjuaq.
During those years, Murdoch developed an interest in Inuit art, and in Pond Inlet he met the late Henry Evaluardjuk, a legendary soapstone carver.
“I think Henry’s were the first all-soapstone carvings I ever saw. His work was highly developed and he told me that he had carved a lot in Igloolik before moving to Pond Inlet,” Murdoch told researcher Marybelle Mitchell in 1985.
In 1958, Murdoch and Father André Steinmann started a sculptor’s association in Puvirnituq that in 1960 became a co-operative.
He also developed financial systems for co-ops that sprang up in Kuujjuaq, Kangirsuk, Kangiqsualujjuaq and other communities.
And in 1967, when the Fédération des coopératives du Nouveau-Québec was founded, Murdoch became its first general manager, serving in that job until his retirement in 1997.
John Crichton, who became a commercial pilot in 1969, worked for many years as executive vice president of First Air prior to its sale to the Makivik Corp. in the early 1990s.
In 1995, Crichton became chair of Nav Canada, the privatized air navigation service that in 1996 replaced the air navigation service formerly provided by Transport Canada.
In 1997, Crichton became president and CEO of Nav Canada, a position that he still holds.
Crichton also served as president and CEO of the Air Transport Association of Canada between April 1994 and November 1997, and in January 2011 was named to the Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame.
The Governor General’s office said Crichton is being honoured for his “contributions to the safety and efficiency of air transportation in Canada.”
Murdoch and Crichton will be inducted into the Order of Canada at a ceremony to be held at Rideau Hall some time in 2015.