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Gryphon Gallery: Distinguished Through Service

Walter Franklin McLean was a student at Glenlyon Preparatory School from 1944 to 1950. He studied at the University of British Columbia, University of Toronto, University of Edinburgh and Knox College—after which he and his wife were designated as presbyterian missionaries.

In 1962 Walter became the first coordinator of the Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO) in Nigeria. He shared a vision of a more connected world, a world where the social constraints people are born into wouldn’t dictate the entirety of their life.

He spent seven years there, mostly in Biafra, and was horrified by the poverty and violence. Upon his return to Canada, determined to make a difference of a different kind he pioneered “Miles for Millions,” created to alleviate third world hunger and poverty, and served as a parish minister in Waterloo, as well as an alderman on the Waterloo City Council for eight years.

In 1979 he decided to run in the federal election as a Progressive Conservative. Duly elected until 1993, he served in the Canadian Cabinet as Secretary of State, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women and Minister of Immigration. McLean also served as the Special Representative to the Commonwealth, was the Parliamentary delegate to the UN General Assembly, and was co-founder of the international organization Parliamentarians for Global Action, promoting disarmament, development and environmental protection. 

Post-parliamentary work has included chairing an alternative Dispute Reconciliation Program, consulting on Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, advising with the UN Association of Canada to mark the Declaration of Human Rights, being a member of several boards, and remaining in close contact with African affairs. In 2012, the Hon. Rev. Walter McLean was honoured with the Distinguished Service Award from the Former Parliamentarians Association. He lives in Waterloo, Ontario with his wife Barbara.

This is part of a new series entitled “Gryphon Gallery” created by our School Archivist that will provide snapshots that celebrate the achievements of a variety of alumni and staff from throughout the history of GNS.