Carleton University Magazine, Fall 2002
It is with great regret that we observe the death of Tom Brewis in April 2002 in Victoria, British Columbia. Tom Brewis served Carleton University, specifically the Department of Economics and the School of Commerce (now the Sprott School of Business) with affection and distinction from 1953 to 1979.
Tom was born in Britain in 1916. Leaving school at age 15, he entered the insurance industry and qualified as an associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute in 1936. An award from this institute permitted a year of study at the Sorbonne followed by a bachelor of commerce degree program at Durham University. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Tom enlisted in the British army. He was posted to India and served in the First Punjab regiment of the Indian army. He ended his service with the rank of major.
Following the war, Tom entered the British Foreign Service, and was posted to Berlin and Washington. During his diplomatic posting in Washington, he met and married his wife Dorothy, a citizen of the United States. After two years he returned to Durham University where he completed a master of commerce degree followed by a doctorate in economics. His master’s thesis focused on the re-construction of the German economy following the war, while his Ph.D. thesis dealt with the post-war “dollar problem” and Britain’s international economic relations.
Tom came to Canada in 1952, working at first at the Dominion Bureau of Statistics (now Statistics Canada). He then joined the faculty of Carleton’s nascent Economics department, which at the time included departmental founders such as H.E. (Ted) English and H. Scott Gordon. Tom served as Chair of the Department from 1956 to 1959. He later was the director of the School of Commerce and played a major role in its evolution from an accounting-centred program to a broader program of the sort we have today in the Sprott School of Business. He also participated in the program of the School of International Affairs in its early years, teaching the seminar on economic integration with Bruce McFarlane (Sociology) and Michael Dolan (Political Science). Tom retired from the University in 1979 and moved to Victoria, B.C.
In the early years of the 1950s, Tom, of necessity, taught a broad range of courses in view of the small size of the Economics department. However, his research work focused increasingly on issues of regional development, particularly in the Canadian context. He published many papers, some edited books, and a major work in this area—namely, Regional Economic Policies in Canada (Toronto: Macmillan, 1969)—and was recognized as a foremost expert in the area for many years. He also co-edited with H.E. English, Anthony Scott, and Pauline Jewitt an important collection of essays titled Canadian Economic Policy (Toronto: Macmillan, 1960), which I remember studying carefully many years ago. He also edited another volume for the Carleton Library Series, Number 39, Growth and the Canadian Economy (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1968), which included essays by Gilles Paquet, Harvey Lithwick, Bruce McFarlane, T.K. Rymes, and H.E. English.
Tom made a major contribution to all the faculty members at Carleton through his early work in the establishment of the Carleton pension scheme. Some retired Carleton professors, such as Gordon Merrill (Geography) and Bruce McFarlane and David Farr (History), emphasize the pivotal role that he played in its establishment and basic design—one of the most generous pension schemes in the province. He also served as chair of an advisory committee thereafter.
Tom maintained an affection for Carleton even after retirement. He generously endowed a scholarship in applied economics for an undergraduate or graduate student who has shown aptitude in this area. He has provided subsequent support for scholarship programs as well.
One interesting sideline of Tom’s life was his love of the Canadian wilderness, which he combined with an entrepreneurial flair. With a friend, Jim Gander, Tom acquired a large island known as Forty Acre Island or Bridgen’s Island on Eagle Lake, southwest of Ottawa. He proceeded to establish an ecologically-friendly co-operative arrangement for maintaining the wilderness character of the island, and to provide shares in the co-op to various persons including some from Carleton.
Tom’s son, Dr. Clive Brewis, wrote of Tom’s years in retirement in Victoria in the following words: “My Father maintained a keen interest in world affairs but turned increasingly to his family and grandchildren for sustenance. He enjoyed tending his large English garden, enjoyed music and playing the piano, and took great pleasure in the writings of William Shakespeare. He also made frequent trips to Great Britain to spend time with old friends. Judging by the comments at his memorial service, my Father was blessed with a number of good friends in Victoria as well.”
Tom’s wife Dorothy survives him in Victoria. They have two children, Clive, who is a professional psychologist at a hospital in Calgary, and Valerie, who owns and operates a small tourist hotel in Jamaica.
Archibald R.M. Ritter, Department of Economics and School of International Affairs