This portion of the interview is about Merrill Gordon’s political career and his volunteer work with Cliff Avenue soccer, the Burnaby Mental Health Association, the library board, and the New Vista Society. He talks about his association with Alan Emmott and the founding of the Better Burnaby Commi…
This portion of the interview is about Merrill Gordon’s political career and his volunteer work with Cliff Avenue soccer, the Burnaby Mental Health Association, the library board, and the New Vista Society. He talks about his association with Alan Emmott and the founding of the Better Burnaby Committee (BBC), his election to Burnaby Council in 1972 with BVA, and his membership in and work for the federal NDP
Burnaby Alderman Merrill Gordon (second from right) following a candidates' meeting, 1973. Item no. 480-263
Recording is of an interview with Merrill Gordon, conducted by Rod Fowler.Gordon Merrill was one of eleven participants interviewed as part of the SFU/Burnaby Centennial Committee's oral history series titled, "Voices of Burnaby". The interview is about Merrill Gordon’s childhood in the Depression, including his story about the family’s difficult trek to Burnaby from Alberta; his education, teachers and first volunteer activities at Grandview High School; his career at Fleck Brothers and the start of his own company Blaze Industries and later work in India; and his many volunteer activities in Burnaby. He describes how he started the Cliff Avenue United Football Club, the soccer club's subsequent growth and development, some of the people involved, and the founding of the youth soccer exchange. He also describes his work on the Parks Board and in the arts community, including the 1987 arts centre referendum, and involvement with the Burnaby Mountain Preservation Society (1988- ), and mentions his work for other groups including the New Vista Society, library board, and Burnaby Mental Health Committee. He also talks about his political career with the Better Burnaby Committee and Burnaby Voters Association, resulting in his 1972 election to Burnaby’s 1973 council. To view “Narrow By” terms for each track expand this description and see “Notes”.
Merrill M. Gordon was born in Saskatchewan in 1929 to parents farming north of North Battleford. After a fifth year of crop failure the family of four left the farm in 1934 to join relatives living near the corner of Union and Sperling in Burnaby. With little resources the family adapted as well as possible in the Depression years, moving often in the East Vancouver/North Burnaby area in an attempt to better their situation. Merrill’s father obtained work at sawmills including Kapoor’s Sawmill at Barnet, walking to work over Burnaby Mountain. After attending numerous public schools, Merrill Gordon eventually spent three years at Templeton School and then completed his education at Grandview High School of Commerce, majoring in accounting and commercial law. He worked a few years at Canadian Industries Ltd., then joined Fleck Brothers. In 1965 Merrill Gordon and his wife started their own company Blaze Industries of Canada that manufactured wood burning fireplaces, selling the company to AB Electrolux in 1980. After a short retirement, Merrill Gordon went back to work in 1981 for a company manufacturing solar panels, one project taking him and his wife intermittently to India over a four year period. Merrill Gordon helped found the political group Better Burnaby Committee, later the Burnaby Voters Association, with Alan Emmott and Bill Lewarne, ran for Burnaby Municipal Council and served one year as councillor in 1973. Merrill Gordon is well known for his over 40 years of volunteer work in Burnaby, particularly as founder in 1956 and director of the Cliff Avenue United Football Club, one of the largest soccer clubs in BC. He was also the founder of Burnaby Youth Soccer and the first youth soccer exchange with Washington State. His other volunteer work includes library trustee, Parks Commissioner (1987-1992), Director of New Vista Home for Seniors, Chair of campaign raising funds for building Shadbolt Arts Centre, and Chair of the Burnaby Mental Health Committee. In 1988 Merrill Gordon, Betty Gordon, Dean Lamont and several others formed the Burnaby Mountain Preservation Society, which advocated for the return of unused land to Burnaby from SFU and the subsequent creation of Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area. Merrill Gordon and Elizabeth Balfour (nee Leitch) (1926-2012) married in 1953 and had two children.
Rod Fowler returned to university as a mature student in the 1980s after working about twenty years in the field of economics and computerization in business in England, Europe and Western Canada. He graduated with a BA from SFU in both History and Sociology in 1987, his MA degree in Geography in 1989, and his PhD in Cultural Geography at SFU. He taught courses in Geography, Sociology, History and Canadian Studies at several Lower Mainland colleges, before becoming a full time member of the Geography Department at Kwantlen University College.
Interviews were digitized in 2015 allowing them to be accessible on Heritage Burnaby. The digitization project was initiated by the Community Heritage Commission with support from City of Burnaby Council.
Track seven of interview with Merrill Gordon
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