On February 3, 2022, five business legends will be the first inductees into the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame. They’ll represent what the Chamber says is a “legacy of pioneers and leaders” who have played a role in the region’s economic growth and prosperity.
“The Chamber has always been the voice of business in Greater Victoria, and we want to make sure the stories of our region’s champions are recognized,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says. “This first group represents people who were innovators, who broke through barriers and helped our community become the truly extraordinary place it is today.”
The inductees are:
Helen Beirnes, the first woman president of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce (1971-1972) and first woman president of a Canadian chamber in a major Canadian City. Known as a tireless advocate for restoring Victoria’s historic character and bringing greater tourism numbers to the region, Beirnes travelled across Canada and the U.S. promoting tourism and investment in Greater Victoria. She was a trailblazer for women at the executive level in business, large organizations, and the media. Beirnes passed away in 2013.
Clare Copeland, the man who was instrumental in developing CFAX radio into a regional presence by boosting its transmission power and making it a 24-hour station. He later established Copeland Communications, serving businesses on Vancouver Island and British Columbia for more than three decades. He passed away in 2010.
Ron Lou-Poy, senior partner in the Victoria law firm of Crease Harman and Company.
He has the legal distinction of Queen’s Council. Lou-Poy was deeply involved in the reconstruction of the Gate of Harmonious Interest in Victoria’s Chinatown cultural area — the symbolic entrance to Canada’s oldest Chinatown. He is an avid promoter of education and culture through the Chinese Heritage Foundation, the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and the McPherson Foundation. He received the Order of Canada in 2004 and the Queen’s Gold Jubilee Medal.
Ian Maxwell, the owner of Ralmax Group of Companies, a hardhat visionary who champions the protection and preservation of industrial lands and the jobs they provide in Greater Victoria. In 2003, Maxwell led the rescue of Point Hope Shipyard from bankruptcy. In 2020, Ralmax acquired a majority stake in the Harbour Ferry Service to keep the operation running. Maxwell has also actively engaged and supported Indigenous businesses. In 2012 he co-founded Salish Sea Industrial Services with Esquimalt First Nation Chief Andrew Thomas and Songhees First Nation Chief Robert Sam.
Chief Robert Sam led the negotiation processes to create a settlement with the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia over dispossessed land now occupied by the BC Legislature Buildings. He also played a key role on behalf of Songhees Nation within the Te’meux Treaty Association. Chief Sam crafted an agreement with the Greater Victoria School District and Camosun College to enhance access to education for Indigenous students. He was also a founding member of the First Nations Finance Authority, a Board member of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority and a member of the Association of First Nations Chiefs Committee on Treaties. He passed away in 2012.
“This is the inaugural cohort selected for the Hall of Fame, and it’s an excellent reflection of the diversity of Greater Victoria’s business community,” Dan Dagg, Chair of The Chamber’s Board of Governors, said. “Their stories are unique and inspirational, and their induction into the hall will be something we want to celebrate.”
The five inductees for 2022 will be joined at a gala ceremony on February 3 by previous winners of The Chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Business Award: Bill McCreadie, Gordy Dodd, Eric Charman, Mel Cooper, Murray and Lynda Farmer, Naz Rayani, Bob Skene, Keith Dagg, Terry Farmer, Cedric Steele, Gordon Denford, Alex A. Campbell, Robert H. Wright and John Chew.
The Chamber says it will induct new recipients each year to “recognize positive role models in the business community who have shown regional leadership, insightful vision, and a sustained and significant commitment to the prosperity of our region.”