Robert William Reford


May 1, 1921 to May 9, 2006



Robert (Bob) Reford passed away peacefully at home on May 9th, just a week after being honoured at his 85th birthday party. He will be missed by his beloved wife and eternal partner of 34 years, Stephanie, his daughters Lisa and Sharon (Gary Perkins), his grandsons Rob Reford Patton and Nick Reford, his step grandchildren Michael and Andrew Payne, his caregivers in LaHave, and nieces, nephews, family and friends around the world. Robert was the oldest living Reford; Ribby's sister Maryon died in 1967 and his brother Michael in June 2005.

Robert was born to Canadian parents in London, England, the eldest child of Brigadier Bruce Reford, M.C. and Evelyn MacInnes. He was educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford. He served with the Irish Guards from 1940-1946 with the rank of Captain, seeing action as an intelligence officer in France, Germany and Malaysia.

After the war, he began a career in journalism. Beginning with the British United Press, for 12 years he headed the Ottawa office of Radio Canada International, was an editorial writer for the Ottawa Citizen and served as correspondent for Canadian newspapers at the United Nations. He then joined the staff of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research as special assistant to the director. In 1971, he was appointed Executive Director of the Canadian Institute of International Affairs, where he served until 1978. With his wife Stephanie, he founded an international affairs consultancy and in collaboration with the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education developed INTRODUCING: THE WORLD, a pioneering initiative to promote the study of world affairs in schools in Canada and the United States.

A journalist and writer for more than four decades, Bob Reford wrote thousands of articles and editorials. He edited and wrote several books, notably Canada and Three Crises on Canada's foreign policy during the international crises of the offshore islands of China, Suez and Cuba. During the 1980s, he wrote and lectured widely on arms control and disarmament and Canadian foreign policy. He succeeded his friend Senator Douglas Roche as president of the United Nations Association in Canada in 1985. He had a lifelong involvement in the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs and was a founding director of the Canadian Centre for Arms Control and Disarmament. In 1988, he was appointed to the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board where he served until his retirement in 1994.

He had two children (Lisa and Sharon) with his first wife, Ginger. He met Stephanie McCandless at the United Nations in 1970 and they married in 1972. He shared with her a love of international affairs and travel. In their homes in Toronto and LaHave, they entertained regularly, bringing together friends, family and acquaintances, young and old, from all parts of the world. Proud grandfather to Rob and Nick, Robert was a favourite uncle and cousin and a mentor to women and men of several generations.

An avid bird-watcher, he was also an excellent golfer and skier. A wine enthusiast and lover of fine food, he wore the chain of Confrerie of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs with particular pride. Robert was an agile wordsmith and was regularly called upon to recite poetry, doggerel and limericks at celebrations. With his exceptional height and full head of white curly hair, Bob was a striking figure wherever he travelled. Even after a stroke diminished his mobility, his twinkle and charm never left him and he often bested his caregivers, Amy, Debbie, Joanne, Marina, Marphy, Mary Ann and Scott with his repartee and wordplay.

A memorial celebration of his life in Nova Scotia will be held at the West Dublin Community Hall on Friday, May 12th at 3 p.m.

A memorial service to celebrate Robert's life and achievements will be held for family and friends on Sunday, September 3 at Les Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens, the gardens created by his grandmother in Grand-Métis, Québec.

In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to: Les Amis des Jardins de Métis, 200 Route 132, Grand-Métis, Québec G0J 1Z0 (Charitable Reg. # 896573383 RR0001), or the United Nations Association in Canada, 300 - 309 Cooper Street, Ottawa, Ontario K2P 0G5 (Charitable Reg. # 11927-6855 RR0001).