Peter M. Brown

Civic Duty Takes Centre Stage

The mantle of civic duty is one that’s been handed down from generation to generation in the Brown family. Brenton Brown Sr, an executive with Crown Life Insurance, helped found the Non-Partisan Association (for decades, Vancouver’s dominant municipal party) in 1937 and served as president of the Vancouver Board of Trade. His son, Ralph, ran the British Empire Games in 1954 and helped launch the Vancouver Aquarium in 1956, recruiting Ralph Shaw, then president of MacMillan Bloedel, to serve as the aquarium’s first president.

Today, Peter M. Brown is following in his father’s and grandfather’s illustrious footsteps. (“We’ve always had a long history of ‘doing our bit,’” he says.) After building a brokerage business over five decades into what would become Canaccord Genuity, the largest independent investment dealer in Canada, Brown is now investing in the next generation of leaders through the Peter & Joanne Brown Foundation, which supports not-for-profit projects and charitable causes that “strengthen community and contribute to the health and vitality of Vancouver and British Columbia” with a particular focus on youth and education.

Peter and Joanne Brown Family Centre Stage

The Browns have been generous supporters of Science World for 13 years, with the Centre Stage at TELUS World of Science named in their honour since July 2006. Millions of visitors have been able to enjoy daily interactive shows on the Peter Brown Family Centre Stage, which sits at the heart of Science World.

For Brown, the impact of the institution can be seen in the eyes of children passing through its doors. That includes his own grandkids. “When they were young, we’d take them to Science World, and all sorts of lights would turn on in their heads. ‘Oh, look at this, look at this, look at this!’” He sees Science World playing a vital role in what he calls “jumpstarting the interest. Jumpstarting a level of curiosity that can change their life, change the way they look at things.” The advocacy for children’s education is elementary, he argues. “Where are we going without them?”

More than a Tourist Attraction

Beyond the excitement generated within its walls, Science World has also played a central role in the life of the city over the past 30 years, says Brown. “People come here [Vancouver] quite often to go skiing or do other outdoor activities. What we need are things that keep them here for a few days, in the heart of the city. And there’s no question Science World is one of them.”

As Chairman of the Finance Committee for the Expo 86 Corporation, Brown was a pivotal influence in the formative years of Science World. But the longtime financier is the first to admit that he wasn’t initially convinced that the Expo Centre, the bedrock of today’s Science World, should survive beyond the World’s Fair.

"It was built as a temporary facility, with the view that it would come down at the end of the fair,” he explains. “When Jimmy Pattison resigned as Chairman of the Fair, I took over the disassembly plan, and I was part of the decision to take the ball down. At the last minute, Grace McCarthy [BC’s Economic Development Minister at the time], came in and said it was an iconic part of BC and had to stay, and I’m glad she did.”

When the organizers behind a proposed science centre said they wanted to take on the Expo building, Brown remained skeptical. “My view then was, ‘They’re crazy! It’s a temporary building and the maintenance costs are huge!’ But you know, they took it on, they bit the bullet, and they managed to do it. And I think it’s iconic. So, I’ve gone from being the guy who was going to tear it down to being a fan.”

As Science World at TELUS World of Science celebrates our 30th anniversary, we are connecting with people who have made an impact on our physical space and in the community of science enthusiasts and supporters in British Columbia. We present here a selection of their stories, and hope that their words will inspire you to continue to help us ignite wonder and empower dreams for the next generation of STEAM leaders and the people of British Columbia. If you have a story to share about how Science World has impacted your life in a meaningful way, please share it with us online on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.


Previous: Rob Lunde    Next: Max Donelan-Cloud
Ignite Your Wonder at: