26 Robert Bonner

The Hon. ‘Robert Bonner’, LL.B. (September 10, 1920 — August 12, 2005) was
a Canadian lawyer, politician, and corporate executive. He pursued his career
working in the British Columbia government and in B.C.-based companies.

Robert Bonner was born and raised in Vancouver. His father was from New Brunswick and his mother was from Kells, County Meath. Robert served with the Seaforth Highlanders in Italy in the Second World War. Upon his return to Canada, Bonner took a law degree from the University of British Columbia in 1948, and joined a practice in Vancouver. Active in politics from an early age, Bonner became a supporter and confidant of W.A.C. Bennett, who would go on to lead the Social Credit Party to victory in the 1952 provincial election. To the surprise of many, Bennett appointed the unelected, 32 year-old Bonner as the province’s Attorney General — the youngest in B.C.’s history. Bonner would be elected
to represent the riding of Vancouver-Point Grey in the provincial election of 1953, which was also the first Social Credit majority government in the province. He would retain the position of Attorney General for the next sixteen years, quickly becoming one of the most powerful ministers and closest advisors to Bennett in the Socreds’ long spell of governance.

During his time in cabinet, Bonner also served at various times concurrently as Minister of Education and Minister of Trade and Commerce. In the legislature, Bonner proved capable, serving as Bennett’s House Leader. Contemporaries described him as “articulate, urbane, and always well prepared, with a demonstrated air of superiority and a ready laugh.

Bonner left provincial politics in 1968 to become vice-president of MacMillan Bloedel, a Vancouver-based logging and lumber company. He would later go on to become the firm’s president and chief executive officer. Bonner left Mac Blo in 1976 to become chairman of BC Hydro, the provincial crown corporation responsible for producing and supplying hydroelectric power. He retired from that position in 1985.

Robert Bonner died in Vancouver in 2005.