Bob Winsor, 1939–2021 (Photo by Martin Beaulieu)
Celebrating Bob Winsor’s life: Inventing for society and caring for nature
Best known for his inventions that transformed the railway industry, Robert Beck Winsor, known as Bob, left behind many a legacy. Have you heard of the wheel chock? Bob engineered it to secure vehicles on rail cars and it is still used to this day. Bob was head of Holden America Inc., served on boards and committees at Mount Allison and McGill universities, both of which awarded him with an honorary degree, and was involved in the community by supporting a variety of non-profit organizations, including the Atlantic Salmon Federation, Special Olympics Canada and the Adaptive Sports Foundation.
Another important legacy to the world and future generations was his contribution to protecting nature. Bob was a long-time supporter of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), not only as a donor, but also as an active ambassador. In 2007, he led a $ 1.3-million fundraising campaign that resulted in protecting rich and diverse natural areas in the Sutton Mountains (Green Mountains Nature Reserve, Eastern Towships), which provide vital habitat for barred owl and bobcat.
A stream running through the Green Mountains Nature Reserve (Photo by Martin Beaulieu)
“I have always been an outdoor enthusiast, so I was an easy convert to NCC’s mission,” Bob said about his involvement in the fundraising campaign. As a nature lover and avid fly fisher — a sport he learned from his father and passed onto his grandchildren — he ensured that he released any endangered species he caught.
“Bob’s early days of salmon fishing found him a lifelong passion for nature. He was around 10 years old when he went flyfishing for the first time with his father in Newfoundland,” explains Sue Winsor, Bob’s spouse. “He gifted each grandchild a fly rod to pass on the interest, and they even got to choose the colour of their rods. One wanted green, another wanted pink! It was an exciting activity to do as a family.”
Jean Laporte, former regional vice-president for NCC in Quebec, remembers Bob’s integrity and the learnings he shared with him. “Bob passed on business advice, and it included showing appreciation for staff, being loyal to staff, associates and suppliers, choosing good partners — ones you trust — and demonstrating integrity in dealings,” Jean explained. “I think this really corresponds to who Bob was and what he wanted to leave behind. He had a great appreciation for nature, which connected him to NCC. We’re forever grateful for his contribution and loyalty.”
Marie-Josée Auclair, President of the board of Appalachian Corridor, and Bob Winsor at the Mont Echo opening ceremony (Photo by Martin Beaulieu)
In 2019, he donated welcome signs to NCC for the Green Mountains Nature Reserve and took care of getting them installed at the Mont Echo entrance, where he co-hosted an opening ceremony. It was his last gesture in support of NCC, and one that won’t be forgotten.
Next time you go hiking in the Eastern Townships, visit the Mont Echo entrance and you’ll see Robert Winsor’s name listed on the welcome panels alongside the other donors who supported NCC’s conservation work in the area. We are so grateful to all our donors. Thank you for your invaluable support!
In memory of Robert Beck Winsor, 1939–2021
Learn more about how to make a difference for nature here.