The NAC lowers flag at half-mast to honour his memory and legacy

August 17, 2022 – OTTAWA (Canada) – It is with much sadness that the National
Arts Centre (NAC) learns of the passing of Dr. David S. R. Leighton, O.C., who served
as Chairperson of the NAC’s Board of Trustees for seven years (1999–2006). The NAC
will lower its flag at half-mast this week to honour the memory of Dr. Leighton and his
contribution to the arts sector.

“Dr. David Leighton was a nation builder. He cared deeply about our country and its
institutions, and to that end, he accepted to act as Chair of the National Arts Centre’s
Board of Trustees in a time of great need,” said Adrian Burns, current Board Chair of the
NAC. “His formidable intellect and vast corporate expertise remain an inspiration to all of
us who worked alongside him at the NAC. We truly mourn the loss of this great man.”

“On behalf of the National Arts Centre, let me share my most sincere condolences with
the family of Dr. David Leighton, who must feel his loss keenly,” said Christopher
Deacon, President and CEO of the NAC. “David Leighton and my predecessor, Peter
Herrndorf, made a dream team that turned around the good ship NAC at its most
tumultuous time. He was a figure of sound governance with a genuine passion for the
arts and, most especially, classical music.”

“What an extraordinary loss the passing of David Leighton is for this country as a whole,”
added Peter Herrndorf, former President and CEO of the NAC (1999–2018). “He was a
towering figure in the arts, in business, in the university world and in the world of the
Olympics – a man of vision, integrity, kindness and honour. All of us who were lucky
enough to know him mourn his passing. David was truly a great Canadian, and I can’t
imagine our country without him.”


Dr. David S. R. Leighton was born in Regina,
Saskatchewan, on February 20, 1928, and attended
school in Regina, Calgary and Ottawa. He obtained a BA
from Queen’s University, a MBA with High Distinction and
a DBA from Harvard University, as well as LLD degrees
from Windsor and Queen’s. He became Professor
Emeritus at the Ivey Business School. He has held
teaching appointments at Harvard University, the
University of Western Ontario, Stanford University,
Emmanuel College in Cambridge, England, the University
of Lausanne, the University of Tel Aviv and the University
of London, England.

In 1970, Dr. Leighton became President and CEO of the Banff Centre, where he served
for 13 years. He guided the Centre through a period of unprecedented growth. He later
became Chair of the Board of Trustees of the National Arts Centre, from 1999 to 2006,
leading the NAC through a challenging time, working alongside then President and CEO
Peter Herrndorf.

Renowned for his understanding of corporate governance, Dr. Leighton published
books, including Making Boards Work: What Directors Must Do To Make Canadian
Boards Effective (McGraw-Hill Ryerson Trade), and advised governments on board
appointment process. In addition to serving as Board Chair of the NAC, he served as
Chairman of Nabisco Brands Ltd, and as a board member of numerous corporations and
non-profit organizations such as Gulf Canada, Rio Algom, Telemedia, Montreal Trust,
GSW, Scott's Hospitality, GW Utilities, Camco Inc, and Cambridge Shopping Centres.
Upon his appointment as Officer of the Order of Canada in 2003, the Office of the
Secretary to the Governor General issued this citation:

“Dr. David S. R. Leighton was a visionary who was instrumental in the development of
education, business and the arts in Canada. Professor Emeritus at the University of
Western Ontario, he has co-authored many seminal works on business management
and corporate governance that reflect a uniquely Canadian perspective. He has served
on the board of directors for a variety of organizations that have benefited from his
expertise and financial acumen. In addition, he served as president of the Banff Centre
for the Arts, where he transformed a small, seasonal school into an internationally
renowned institute. The first Canadian to be elected president of the American Marketing
Association, he [was] chair of the National Arts Centre Board of Trustees.”

Full Obituary:

The National Arts Centre is Canada’s bilingual, multi-disciplinary home for the
performing arts. The NAC presents, creates, produces, and co-produces performing arts
programming in various streams – the NAC Orchestra, Dance, English Theatre in
collaboration with Black Theatre Workshop, French Theatre, Indigenous Theatre, and
Popular Music and Variety – and nurtures the next generation of audiences and artists
from across Canada. The NAC is located in the National Capital Region on the unceded
territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg.


Annabelle Cloutier
Executive Director, Strategy and Communications
National Arts Centre
613 301-2764