June 2017

Martha Billes

Outside War Memorial Hall, University of Guelph, during summer convocation ceremonies

“A University of Guelph graduate can do anything.” That was a key lesson from what Martha Billes calls her transformational education at the University of Guelph. She shared that message with new graduates during summer 2017 convocation ceremonies — her first as U of G’s chancellor.

She is the first U of G graduate to serve as chancellor.

Billes, the controlling shareholder of Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd., is a 1963 graduate of the Macdonald Institute, one of U of G’s founding colleges.

The Canadian business icon and well-known philanthropist was installed as chancellor in June. During the ceremony, she reflected on U of G’s role in her life, recalling her days as a “Mac girl” and acknowledging former classmates among her audience.

“It was at Mac that our world broadened,” she says. Her professors fostered a desire to learn, she says, “but more importantly, they were always pulling us forward and inspiring us to look way, way ahead.”

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