President & Chair, Alaska Pine and Cellulose Ltd.
Walter Charles Koerner was born in 1898 in Czechoslovakia. He developed his expertise in the forestry industry there, through his family’s lumber business.
Walter and his brothers immigrated to Canada in 1939 and founded the Alaska Pine and Cellulose Company of which he was President. In 1957, the company became Rayonier Canada Limited and Walter became President and later Chairman of the Board until his retirement in 1973.
Shortly after his arrival in Canada, Walter made the University of British Columbia (UBC) a focal point of his philanthropy. He believed that a strong university was critical to building an engaged and successful society. He served as a Member of the Board of Governors of UBC as well as the Chair. Not only that, Walter was the founding Chair of UBC Hospital.
Walter was also committed to preserving Indigenous art forms and supporting the re-emergence of Pacific Northwest Indigenous art. His multiple initiatives included supporting Indigenous carvers, repatriating Indigenous works from abroad and negotiating with then Prime Minister P.E. Trudeau for financial support for the construction of the Museum of Anthropology, to which he donated his extensive collection. In recognition for his efforts in supporting Indigenous culture, the Haida Nation celebrated Walter as an honorary Chief of their Nation.
Walter was a notable philanthropist, who donated millions of dollars to educational institutions and other public organizations and endeavours.
Among his many honours, he is a Companion of the Order of Canada, and holds an honorary Doctor of Laws from UBC.