When Alan was first told that he had but a short time to live, his reaction was immediate: He held a party for some 80 of his close friends to say farewell.
Alan was born in Liverpool, England, in 1927 of Welsh and English descent. Although Alan never learned Welsh, he retained a lasting spiritual affection for Wales.
Too young for the Second World War, Alan's education and army experience drew him into civil engineering. His construction career began in England, but took off in Canada after he came here in 1952. Canada badly needed houses; Alan built houses from Comox, B.C., to Cornerbrook, Nfld. In 1960, he built the town of Candiac in Quebec as a founding director of Candiac Development Co. Then he branched out to building schools, churches, government and industrial buildings with Seal Construction, a company he started with his good friend Abe Elias. Overseas projects took him to West Africa, Mexico, Malaysia and the Bahamas, where he assumed responsibility for the E. P. Taylor interests.
Alan had many lives and it was his pioneering social and charitable activities that became his passion. He was a leading force behind The Learning Associates, one of Montreal's foremost centres for remedial learning research. He was instrumental in establishing the pain centre at McGill University, for which he raised $18-million. He started the Louise Edwards Foundation, in memory of his second wife who died in 1979; it is devoted to pain research.
Alan enjoyed Montreal life unreservedly. Art, music and books were important ingredients in his life. He had an abiding interest in people, and valued his friends highly. His cosmopolitan dinners were unforgettable events.
Alan was a devoted family man. His first marriage was to Susan Kilburn, and their daughter Jane was the apple of his eye. In his second marriage he found happiness with Louise Taylor, and her son Eric became Alan's chosen son. His grandchildren, Alec and Hamish, were boys in whom he took enormous pride. Late in life he found happiness with Sarah Gillett, whom he met in Montreal when she was the British Consul General.
Alan's high energy levels found outlets gliding in Vermont, riding his motor-bike across Canada, sailing, tennis and skiing. Although he retained his British characteristics, Alan was a proud Canadian. He loved life, and relished the opportunities Canada gave him. He succumbed to what he styled as his "brief argument with leukemia" on March 11 "peacefully at home" in the company of his family and closest friend.
Roy Heenan and Stephen Jarislowsky are friends of Alan Edwards