Government of New Brunswick

The 10 recipients of the Order of New Brunswick, the highest distinction awarded by the province, were invested into the Order today.



Biographical Notes


Frederick Beairsto


Frederick Beairsto is known for his passions for business, the political arena, animal welfare and the University of New Brunswick, and is renowned as an honest player who cares about his community and fellow New Brunswickers.

Beairsto’s zeal for business and economic opportunity has gained him respect from colleagues, customers, employees and competitors.

Always active in the industry, Beairsto has participated in, chaired and served as member, director, and president of several organizations, including serving as president of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce and co-founding the Construction Association of New Brunswick.

Beairsto’s knowledge of industry and labour standards, and his reputation as an impartial broker, has often led to his expertise being sought as an arbitrator during disputes over labour management issues.  He has also served a member of industrial relations boards in both the public and the private sectors.  He has consistently displayed his belief in justice, equality and fairness.

Beairsto is acutely aware of provincial and federal politics, with experience in a number of election campaigns.  He has served on the federal management committee and as a member of the New Brunswick Board of the Progressive Conservative Party.  He has been recognized for the depth of his work with the national party, being awarded its highest honour, the MacDonald-Cartier Award.  He has built an extensive list of friends and colleagues, and maintained excellent working relationships with those in political parties, both those whom he has campaigned for and those whom he has campaigned against, the latter being something that he speaks of with pride.

Animals have also played a key part in Beairsto’s life.  After serving on the board of the New Brunswick Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, he co-founded the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), now one of the world’s largest such organizations.  He was its founding president, and served for many years in that capacity during its informative years. He has played a central role in protecting and promoting the responsible care of animals in New Brunswick and abroad.

Beairsto graduated from the University of New Brunswick’s civil engineering program in 1963, and has remained actively involved with the university, including work with the faculty of forestry and environmental management, as well as serving as a member of the board of governors and the senate.  He and his wife established the Fred and Dixie Beairsto Emergency Loan Fund for students in need.  His work at the university has been widely praised, and rewarded with the prestigious Alumni Award of Honour.

Beairsto played a role in improving relations between the two official language groups in New Brunswick, speaking publicly on the subject in New Brunswick’s three largest cities at a time when language tensions threatened the social and cultural fabric of the province.

Beairsto also served as the New Brunswick campaign manager for the Yes side in the 1992 referendum on the Canadian Constitution, the results of which he proudly claims brought a significant victory in New Brunswick, and was an important element that helped entrench Bill 88 in the Constitution the following year.

Fred Beairsto is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for his role in the economic development of New Brunswick, his passion for animal welfare, his contribution to the political arenas in New Brunswick and Canada, his interest and involvement in Canadian constitutional and language matters, and his consistent support for the University of New Brunswick.


Claudette Bradshaw


Claudette Bradshaw is known for her warm personality, strength of character, and generous hugs.  During her career she has championed numerous social, economic and health issues that have left a profound impact on Moncton, the Province of New Brunswick, and Canada.

Bradshaw’s career started in 1968 with the Boys and Girls Club, where she learned about poverty, abuse, parents, and the system, and where she met her husband, Douglas.  Her involvement with the Boys and Girls Club led to her founding the Moncton Headstart Program in 1974.  The agency continues to offer education and support services to low-income families, and is a tribute to her hard work during the years.

This organization has led to other efforts in the area, including programs for at-risk youth, the Mapleton Teaching Kitchen, Future Horizons Social Housing, and Headstart Recycles.  The volunteers, colleagues and support groups engaged in these efforts all hold Bradshaw in high esteem, and respect her for her tireless efforts to promote social programs and assist youth.

Bradshaw’s accomplishments in the areas of social and economic development have led to her receiving numerous awards for community leadership, including Business Woman of the Year from the chamber of commerce, the Ann Bell Award from the New Brunswick Child Welfare Association, the Community Leadership Award from Family Services Canada, and three Paul Harris Awards for Community Leadership (in Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe).  Bradshaw has also been awarded an honorary PhD in social work from the Université de Moncton.

Bradshaw used her experience and talent to serve in the Parliament of Canada as an elected member for Moncton from 1997-2005.  During that time she occupied several seats in cabinet, being minister responsible for La Francophonie, minister of labour, and minister for co-ordinating services on homelessness in Canada.

After retiring from the House of Commons, Bradshaw continued her work in social causes by becoming the co-ordinator for the Mental Health Commission of Canada, and pursuing projects exploring homeless persons with chronic mental health issues.

Claudette Bradshaw is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for her passion, pursuit and promotion of social issues in Canada, and her efforts in supporting youth in New Brunswick.


Elphège Chiasson


Elphège Chiasson is one of the most prominent business leaders in New Brunswick, and is known for his proud sense of heritage and devotion to the Acadian Peninsula.

Starting as a journeyman in rural New Brunswick, Chiasson became one of the province’s most successful entrepreneurs through hard work, determination and a passion for the Acadian culture.

In 1965, Chiasson established Acadian Peat Moss Ltd. as a family-owned and -operated business on Lamèque Island in northeast New Brunswick. Since the 1960s he has expanded his business into a thriving entrepreneurial operation with multiple locations and subsidiaries, employing hundreds of people on the Acadian Peninsula, and exporting products throughout the world.

Chiasson is also known for his work with the Lamèque International Baroque Music Festival, which has operated each year since 1975, and brings tourism, music and culture to the small town of Lamèque.  Chiasson has acted as honorary president, and helped organize, fundraise, and develop the festival into the inspiring, successful celebration that it is today.

Chiasson’s generosity has included contributing to and raising funds for the University of Moncton’s Shippagan campus so that Acadians can live, work and attend post-secondary education, all in the same region. He is a member for life of the alumni association, and has ensured that the campus is closely connected to the community.

By actively participating in the community through dozens of economic clubs, charity organizations, business associations and cultural festivals, many of which he co-founded, Chiasson has raised the profile and economic prospects of the Acadian Peninsula.

In recognition of his successes, he has received honours such as the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the New Brunswick Economic Council, an honorary doctorate from the University of Moncton, and Canada’s highest award, the Order of Canada.

With a love of the outdoors, a passion for fishing, and a deep faith, Chiasson remains a valued Acadian leader.

Elphège Chiasson is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for his leadership in business, his promotion of the Acadian culture and economy, and his activism in the community.


Thomas J. Condon


Thomas J. Condon may have been born and educated in the United States, but he has made New Brunswick and Canada his home.

In 1962, a young Condon, fresh with a PhD from Harvard University, began his professional teaching career at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton as an Assistant Professor of History. Over the ensuing decade, Condon excelled in the academic world, accepting teaching positions and fellowships in Indiana and New York, and London, England. However, despite his global appeal, Condon returned to New Brunswick and held the positions of Professor of History and Dean of Arts at UNB Fredericton.

In 1975, Condon became a Canadian citizen, and eventually took the position of Vice-President for the University of New Brunswick of the Saint John Campus. For over two terms, Condon worked tirelessly to improve the facilities and education at UNBSJ and expand its academic potential into the world renowned campus that it is today.

In 1996, Condon retired from teaching after serving in numerous UNB positions both academic and administrative, as well as authoring dozens of publications and studies. For his efforts, he was named Vice President Emeritus of the Saint John campus and the Thomas J. Condon Student Centre at UNBSJ was named in his honour. He has also been named as Governor Emeritus of the UNB Board of Governors.

Condon is also well known for his massive support and dedication to a significant cultural piece of Saint John’s heritage. In 1982, he accepted the chair position of the community effort to restore the Imperial Theatre, located in the heart of King’s Square, Saint John, and a centerpiece for the city. For over 12 years he orchestrated community support for the project and oversaw the restoration of the building. In 1996, he was awarded a plaque by the Mayor and City Council of Saint John for his years of service and commitment to the city, and named Honorary Life Governor of Imperial Theatre Inc, Saint John.

Over the years, Condon has sat on community and cultural boards and directorships, academic societies, and regional advisory committees. He has given his time and valued service to important bodies including the Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, the Canadian Conference of the Arts, Festival by the Sea - Saint John, Symphony New Brunswick, and many others.

In 2004, the Governor General and the Government of Canada rewarded his service by appointing him a Member of the Order of Canada.

Thomas Condon is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for his incredible work in the academic community, his effective administration of post-secondary institutions and organizations, and his remarkable dedication to culture in New Brunswick.


Flora MacDonald Dell


Flora MacDonald Dell is an outgoing, vibrant, and passionate community activist who has spearheaded dozens of programs and activities in New Brunswick.

As the first female town councilor in Riverview, New Brunswick, she chaired the Cultural and Recreational Affairs portfolio, and fostered programs for reading as well as physical activity in her community.

MacDonald Dell is well known for her role in the development of the Riverview Library and Arts Council, and is respected for her promotion of women as leaders in community affairs.

A strong advocate of French as a second language, she is also credited for developing second language curriculums and criteria in southeastern New Brunswick, as well as Nova Scotia. These programs were specifically targeted at pre-school and elementary school students.

Perhaps her largest efforts have been in the promotion, protection, and support of senior citizens in New Brunswick. Her efforts have been wide-spread and multifaceted, sitting on dozens of local community boards, physical activity programs, and healthcare foundations. In particular, MacDonald Dell served for over 15 years as a Provincial Consultant for Special Populations focusing on persons with disabilities and older citizens.

She has also been actively involved in the Osteoporosis Society of Canada, bringing local chapters to Moncton and Fredericton, and sitting on their national board.

MacDonald Dell is a member of the Canadian Arthritis Network, National Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis Knowledge Exchange Task Force, a founding member of the Active Living Coalition on Physical Activity and Older Adults organization, has served on the board of the Canadian Institute of Health Research, the Moncton Mayor’s Committee for Senior Citizens, and dozens of other charitable organizations and is the current President of the Moncton Rotary Club.

Her work has been recognized by journalists, municipal and provincial politicians and councils alike. She has also been received into the Order of Canada by the Governor General, and been awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal.

Flora MacDonald Dell is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for her years of passion and dedication to the citizens of New Brunswick in areas of second language training, senior citizens programs and community partnership activities.


Shirley Downey


Shirley Downey is an outgoing, proud New Brunswick resident who has spent a great deal of time and effort ensuring that children in the province receive kindness, compassion and love. In 1991, Downey was a Royal Bank of Canada employee, avid church participant, and local community volunteer with a busy schedule, but with the help of her local IODE chapter, she decided to pursue an education program for newborn babies. She had heard of a program in Quebec called Born to Read, in which a bag of books was presented to new parents, along with information on the importance of reading to children from birth. After researching the topic she became convinced that this program could be of great value to the children in our province.

Since the program began, Downey has spent considerable effort expanding and strengthening the program through fundraising and partnerships with the provincial government, libraries, hospitals, and Literacy NB. Now, each year more than 8,000 families receive Born to Read bags in either English or French. The program has been provincewide since 1998, and has served as a model for other provinces to implement similar programs.

As an active member of her local chapter of the IODE, Downey has led numerous chapter committees, and has also led fundraising and sponsorship ideas, such as annual golf tournaments. In 2006, Downey began an annual used jewelry sale to raise funds for the IODE bursary fund, which has totalled more than $10,000 in the last few years. Her skills in fundraising and organizing major events have earned her the respect, admiration and support of many organizations and charities.

Downey is also an accomplished author, writing four children’s books: “Mud, Muddelicious Mud,” “Puddle Jumping,” “Snuggle Bug,” and her latest, “Fishes in the Sea: Poems for Maritime Kids.” She has written a program called Way to Go for children from kindergarten to Grade Five, for School District 10, which uses rhythmic poetry to teach healthy lifestyles. She has also partnered with the Early Childhood Centre at University of New Brunswick to provide books, written by New Brunswick authors, in the Born to Read bags. Downey holds workshops in schools to encourage children to have fun with words. They always begin with the children talking about the Born to Read bag they received as babies.

After retiring from the Royal Bank of Canada in 1991, Downey has continued to provide financial planning assistance and advice to families in her community, and sits on several community organizations in St. Stephen and Charlotte County. She is also involved at the provincial level in literacy forums and committees about early childhood and family literacy.

Shirley Downey is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for visionary work in the field of social programs for children, and her specific work in fostering reading as a component of early childhood development.


Bertrand Johnson


Bertrand Johnson is a New Brunswicker who believes in equality of opportunity for everyone, regardless of abilities or personal situation. He is well-known for his compassion for the disadvantaged, the homeless, offenders, and people struggling with literacy.

For more than 50 years, Johnson has given his time, money and enthusiastic support for programs that help the disadvantaged find employment, get a second chance, and put their lives back on track.

Now in his 70s, Johnson still spends more time per week volunteering with various initiatives than many New Brunswickers spend working.

The number of accomplishments that Johnson has helped realize is notable. He helped establish the Mountain Top House in Dorchester, where he remains on the board of directors. Mountain Top House is a facility where the families of offenders in Dorchester Penitentiary or the Westmorland Institution may stay when visiting their loved ones. It is a volunteer-sector initiative that has been constructed by inmates, and has brought the community, offenders and their families together in a productive way that has assisted in many rehabilitations of offenders.

Johnson has also been instrumental in the development of literacy programs in the Moncton and southeast region, and currently acts as vice-president of the Regional Literacy Board. His efforts and volunteer hours have helped improve literacy and learning among many young adults.

Another major project supported by Johnson is Maison Nazareth, a temporary emergency shelter in Moncton dedicated to the support of homeless and disadvantaged people in the Greater Moncton community.

In 2003, Johnson incorporated his years of experience and knowledge of the Internet, local social services and the non-profit community, to help create the community network. The network is a web-based community tool that people looking for answers can use to reintegrate with their communities, find employment, seek support services, and establish productive lives. It is recognized as one of the successful programs of its kind in Canada.

For his work in providing social and economic support to so many New Brunswick residents, Johnson has been recognized with the Taylor Award by the Correctional Service of Canada.

Bertrand Johnson is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for his dedication to volunteerism, his efforts to assist in the rehabilitation of offenders, and his belief and support in improving literacy and learning in southeast New Brunswick.


Clare Whelton-McCain


Clare Whelton-McCain is a passionate promoter of the arts in New Brunswick, and has contributed heavily in the resurgence, expansion and strength of theatre programs in New Brunswick.

Whelton-McCain earned her doctor of medicine from Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and interned at McGill in Montreal. After her internship she practised in Hartland before beginning her training in internal medicine at Dalhousie University. After one year she married and moved to Australia.

She has practiced medicine in Australia and the United Kingdom, and participated in numerous non-profit organizations, including the Action Medical Research children’s charity in Great Britain.

In 1999, Whelton-McCain returned home to New Brunswick, and took a special interest in promoting the province’s arts community. She served as a member of the New Brunswick Foundation of the Arts, and encouraged young performers to take part in many of New Brunswick’s theatre programs and activities. She also served on the board of directors of Literacy New Brunswick, and as a member of the board of fellows of Populomix Cancer Research Institute.

In 2001, Whelton-McCain became chair of the Theatre New Brunswick Foundation. At that time, Theatre New Brunswick (TNB) was at risk of discontinuing. She led a successful fundraising effort to highlight the importance of TNB’s mandate in the province, and oversaw a $2.5-million capital campaign to ensure that TNB would be a lasting and permanent fixture in the cultural communities of New Brunswick. Because of her efforts, numerous programs for youth, New Brunswick artists, and community activities will continue with the full support of the Theatre New Brunswick Foundation.

Whelton-McCain has also instituted the McCain Student Ticket program, which allows any student of any educational institution to attend any performance that TNB offers, for only $10. McCain Foods automatically pays the remainder of the ticket price.

Under her leadership, TNB has seen its attendance and fiscal resources grow exponentially in the past few years. TNB now consistently provides entertainment and youth programs of the highest quality for participants all over the province.

Clare Whelton-McCain is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for her support and leadership of theatre programs and cultural activity in the province, and for her attention and focus on youth in theatre.


John McLaughlin


John McLaughlin is well known for his role as president of the University of New Brunswick. In addition to being an effective administrator, he has been an accomplished academic, a strong servant of the public, and a proponent of next-generation leadership in New Brunswick.

With a background in engineering and environmental studies, McLaughlin began his teaching career as a UNB faculty member in 1972. Since then, McLaughlin built an extensive set of expertise in his fields. He has provided advice and support to organizations such as the Association of New Brunswick Land Surveyors, the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of New Brunswick, the Champlain Institute, the New Brunswick Geographic Information Corporation, and the Research and Productivity Council.

McLaughlin is a strong academic and author, having published more than 200 works and supervising or co-supervising more than 100 graduate theses. He has been published by the National Academy of Sciences and Oxford University Press. He has helped countless students achieve great success at the University of New Brunswick in both Fredericton and Saint John.

The Province of New Brunswick has relied heavily on his expertise over the years. McLaughlin has served on dozens of regional, provincial, national, and international boards including: Service New Brunswick, the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, the Premier’s Roundtable on eNB, Geoconnections, and the Canadian Space Agency. He is past president of the Canadian Academy of Engineering. He has worked in more than 30 countries on behalf of the World Bank and the United Nations in the development of property systems.

McLaughlin believes in youth and the future of New Brunswick. In keeping with his vision, he has fostered leadership and public policy initiatives such as Next NB, a UNB-led initiative involving public forums and discussion papers on the future of New Brunswick. He was the founding Chair of 21 Inc., a non-profit organization promoting original and talented young leaders from across the province.

In 2002, McLaughlin was appointed president and vice-chancellor of UNB. In the following years, he strengthened, expanded, and united the university in incredible ways. He has led a fundraising campaign, Forging our Futures, which has raised more than $100 million for the university. He has incorporated the community and city population into future plans for the school, and he has worked tirelessly to acknowledge the extra-curricular contributions of UNB students.

John McLaughlin is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for his dedication to post-secondary education, his lifelong efforts to improve public policy in the province, and his promotion of youth accomplishments and participation in the local community.


Wendy Nielsen


Wendy Nielsen is an internationally recognized soprano who has represented New Brunswick in sold-out concerts around the world.

Nielsen’s distinguished career has seen her perform in Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Canadian National Arts Centre, and other major venues in the United States, Europe and the Far East. Her voice is sought after to perform with dozens of major international orchestras, and she has performed alongside the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, the Budapest Festival Orchestra and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.

Nielsen also serves on the faculty of the University of Toronto’s COSI Centre for Opera in Sulmona, Italy, and teaches students there each summer.

In 2007, Nielsen performed her first Canada Day concert in the southern Italian city of Capri, to an audience that included Canada’s ambassador to Italy, and many other dignitaries. Throughout her many performances, Nielsen always represents New Brunswick with pride, and serves as a global ambassador for the kind of talent coming from the province.

With her international career taking her to exotic locations all over the world, Nielsen could live anywhere. However, she has always loved this province, and has maintained Cambridge Narrows, as her permanent home and family residence.

In keeping with her New Brunswick roots, Nielsen has continued to perform with Symphony New Brunswick at venues across the province, including the Imperial Theatre in Saint John and the Capitol Theatre in Moncton. She has lent her expertise as a vocal adjudicator to the New Brunswick Music Festival, served as chair of the Opera New Brunswick Advisory Council, and is a visiting faculty member of the music department at Mount Allison University.

Her talents as a vocal coach are highly sought after by schools and institutes from across the province, and she has encouraged many young artists to pursue their goals in music. She is a remarkable example of a top-rated artist with an incredible career, who still works, lives and enjoys the opportunities and lifestyle that New Brunswick provides.

Wendy Nielsen is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for her tremendous talent, her mentorship of young artists, and her impeccable representation of New Brunswick on the international stage.