Bernard Lamarre of Lavalin dies at 85
April 12, 2016
SNC-Lavalin says he was a pioneer of Quebec engineering, and his projects helped shape modern Quebec.
A Quebec engineer who played a major role in consulting engineering in Canada during the last century died on March 30.
Bernard Lamarre was president and chief executive officer of Lavalin from 1972 until 1991, when it merged with SNC and became the largest engineering company in Canada with approximately 37,000 employees worldwide.
Lamarre was born in Chicoutimi, Quebec in 1931, son of an engineer and construction contractor. He obtained a civil engineering degree at the Montreal Polytechnique in 1952, and went on to win an Athlone scholarship which took him to the U.K. to study, where he received a master’s degree in the plasticity of concrete from the University of London.
When he returned to Quebec he was given a job by his father-in-law, Jean-Paul Lalonde in his firm Lalonde et Valois. This firm evolved into Lalonde, Lamarre, Valois, and then changed its name to Lavalin in 1972.
During the following decades Lavalin expanded into countries such as Algeria and Niger, and at home it completed major projects such as the Ville-Marie expressway in Montreal, the Louis-Hipployte-LaFontaine bridge tunnel, and Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. The company was also involved in the James Bay hydroelectric project and aluminum smelters in Saguenay.
By the beginning of the 1980s Lavalin had around 6,000 employees and had diversified into petrochemicals and transit. However, it floundered financially, as a result of which it was merged with SNC in 1991. Lamarre was on the SNC-Lavalin board until 1999.
SNC-Lavalin has issued a statement saying it is “mourning one of its founding fathers: Mr. Bernard Lamarre was a pioneer of Quebec engineering, and projects he has led have shaped modern Quebec. He leaves an indelible mark on our company, our industry and our entire society. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends.”
Mr. Lamarre was actively involved in the arts and a wide range of other activities. He served as chair of the board of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for periods covering two decades beginning in the 1980s, and chaired the Old Port of Montreal Corporation for 15 years between 1992 and 2007. He also chaired the board of the Polytechnique Montreal from 2002-2012.
In the professional engineering sphere he was chair of the Quebec licensing body, the Ordre des ingénieurs du Quebec (OIQ), between 1993 and 1997.
He was an Officer of the Order of Canada and a Grand Officer of the Ordre national du Québec. He had 11 honorary degrees, and in 2000 he was presented with Beaubien Award, the highest recognition of an individual, by ACEC-Canada.
Mr. Lamarre was 85 when he died. He was predeceased by his wife Louise, and had seven children and 17 grandchildren.
A funeral service will take place at Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal on Friday, April 15 at 4 p.m.
To read the obituary in the Montreal Gazette, click here.