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In loving memory of our founder

Stuart Hunt

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the loss of our founder, Stuart Hunt. Stuart passed away peacefully in hospital in St. Albert, Alberta on January 14, 2019.   Stuart was a man who lived his life guided by the principles of fairness, decency and hard work.  His life embodies the Outward Bound motto he loved to quote, “To serve, to strive, and not to yield”.

In 1955, at the age of 19, Stuart immigrated to Canada. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force where he spent 5 years at radar stations on the Mid Line.  His career in the radiation protection field began because he was late for a meeting.  He was stationed at Canadian Forces Base, Borden in Ontario and a meeting was called to choose a Nuclear Warfare Officer. No one wanted the job so they picked the one man who wasn’t there to object – Stuart had a new job. His tardiness launched a career spanning over 60 years of practical radiation protection.  His initial skepticism about the position gave way to enthusiasm for his new profession. When it came time to leave the Air Force, it only made sense to move up the road to Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. and the Chalk River Labs.

At AECL in the early 1960’s, Stuart honed his radiation protection skills as a Health Surveyor, eventually being promoted to supervisor of the unit. In 1966, Stuart left AECL for Ottawa to take a position with Health Canada in the Radiation Protection Bureau (RPB), where he investigated radiation incidents and performed inspections of AECB licencees across the country. Later, when Stuart was finally a licencee himself, and he didn’t see eye to eye with these new inspectors, he liked to tell them “you can’t tell me what to do, I was an inspector when the AECB was still just a president and a secretary!” He would however, begrudgingly comply and always aimed to meet or exceed the expectations set for him.

During his time at the RPB he was involved in a number of interesting inspections.  One in particular was somewhat out of this world; the Falcon Lake UFO sighting.  When samples from the suspected landing site indicated high levels of radioactivity, Stuart was dispatched to investigate. His findings determined that there was in fact radioactivity present, but he determined that it was from radio-luminescent paint rather than alien life form.

It was during an inspection at the University of Alberta, that he would once again, unwittingly make a decision that would impact his life. During the inspection, Stuart found numerous non-compliances revealing a program without leadership.  He recommended to the University that they hire their own RSO to help guide the program.  When the job got posted, Stuart applied and got the position. It probably had something to do with the fact that he knew where all the problems were.

 In 1970, Stuart packed up his young family and moved to Edmonton, Alberta. It didn’t take him long to get the program under control and functioning smoothly. During his tenure, he was instrumental in getting the university a waste management licence to look after the waste generated by the permit holders and the installation and commissioning of the SLOPOKE reactor. During his time at the university, his superiors encouraged their professional staff to look outside the university to see if their skills could help industry improve safety. Stuart advertised his occupational and radiation safety expertise and within a year he was working out of the university more than he was within. He decided it was time to start his own business.

During this time, Stuart was also actively working with other renowned members of the Canadian radiation protection community to start the Canadian Radiation Protection Association (CRPA). He firmly believed in a Canadian association that would recognize the skills that practicing radiation protection professionals brought to the table. In 2007, he was recognized by the CRPA with the Richard V. Osborne Founders’ Award for his contributions to the association.

In June of 1982, he founded Stuart Hunt & Associates and set up shop in a home office with one employee, him! The company was the first of its kind in Western Canada and Stuart was right, Canadian industries were in desperate need of a “one-stop-shop” for their radiation safety needs. Stuart travelled all over the country, using his extensive knowledge and experience to teach radiation safety, service radiation devices, conduct surveys and provide a wide range of consulting and regulatory services. His motto was that he needed to be everything to everyone, and his vast experience gained over the years allowed him to provide this level of service. Demand for his expertise was high and Stuart wasn’t alone at the company for long. He soon moved the office out of the house and hired some employees. In the 1990’s both of his children, Jennifer and Sean, joined him at the company. Stuart Hunt & Associates was now a family affair with Jennifer looking after the books and Sean also providing radiation safety services. For nearly three decades Stuart has taught thousands of students from organisations all across the country from a wide range of industries. He has gained a reputation as a knowledgeable man, a great teacher and a decent and honourable businessman. Over nearly 40 years Stuart Hunt & Associates has grown from that one-man home office in St. Albert, Alberta, to employing 27 people at locations in Edmonton and Mississauga. Stuart’s dedication to providing quality radiation safety services for Canadian industries is, to this day, the guiding principle of the company which bears his name.

Stuart was not all work and no play. He was an avid outdoorsman who loved to canoe and hike. In the 1970’s and 80’s he and his friends would pack up their gear, climb onto a plane and head 500 kilometers west of Yellowknife to canoe the Nahanni or Coppermine Rivers, long before it was cool or hip to do so. He also loved to cross-country ski and even took up downhill skiing later in life with his kids. He was a dedicated rugby player and fan. When midlife meant he had to leave the game behind as a player, he became a referee, often officiating his own son’s games. As anyone who knows Stuart would know, he didn’t cut Sean any slack on the rugby pitch, often calling penalties on his own son and even giving him a talking to when needed. As Stuart loved to say, “soccer is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans but rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen.” In later years, Stuart could often be found down at the St. Albert Rugby Club checking out the new crop of young players or catching an overseas match on TV. 

The foundation of Stuart’s life was his family. He has been married to his wife, Aldis for 54 years. Together they have built a business, a home, and a family – a life to be proud of. Stuart was also a dedicated father to Jennifer and Sean. Stuart could often be found looking after the kids, taking them to swimming lessons, teaching them to play soccer in the backyard, even making sure that Jennifer was signed up for highland dance lessons! He watched with pride as both of his children came to work for the company that he founded and were able to support their growing families. 

Stuart was a man with a tough exterior but his softer side was brought out by his three grand-daughters. The first to capture his heart was Jennifer’s daughter, Jessica. When she was little, Stuart was still travelling all over the country for the company but he would always return with a little something for Jessica, a toy, doll or a beautiful dress, once he even showed up with a traditional Inuit parka from the North West Territories. A few year’s later Sean’s daughters, Katherine and Elizabeth came along. Although they lived in Toronto, Katherine and Elizabeth were never far from Grampa’s heart.  He would stay with them when he would come to town on business. He would always take time out to join them at the local fun fair, play dress up in the basement or take them to the park. These three young ladies were his pride and joy.  

After Stuart retired, he and Aldis would travel together, checking out the vineyards of France, visiting family in England, even cruising the Panama Canal. They escaped the frigid Alberta winters in Florida where Stuart never missed his long, daily walks along the beach.   

In recent years Stuart’s health had failed him but his dignity and determination were never diminished. A man of few words, Stuart’s honourable approach to business and his family speak volumes about the kind of man he was. He will be dearly missed by his family and friends.

For those wishing to express their condolences or share an experience they had with Stuart, an email address has been set-up, condolence@stuarthunt.com for you to share your thoughts.

If desired, donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Society of Alberta and NWT, 10531 Kingsway Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta T5H 4K1 or a charity of one’s choice.