Dr. George Richard Agar Rice was born in Teddington, Middlesex, England on January 24, 1901. He came to Canada in 1919, and by 1922, was operating one of Alberta’s first radio stations, CJCA Edmonton. His “Hello to the North” radio service in the 1920s is a classic in Canadian Broadcasting.
In 1934, Dr. Rice started Sunwapta Broadcasting Ltd. with the operation of radio station CFRN Edmonton. FM was added in 1951, followed by the launching of CFRN Television in 1954. In 1964 FM licensing was completed for full stereo broadcasting by CKXM.
Dr. Rice was the first Canadian broadcaster to establish yearly scholarships for Canadian journalism students through the Radio Television News Directors Association, and he also established other scholarships for promising young Canadians in the Arts through the Banff School of Fine Arts and the Montreal School of Fine Arts.
His ongoing contributions in the field of broadcasting were formally recognized in 1976 with the presentation of the Ted Rogers/Velma Rogers Graham Award, honouring “the individual making the most significant contribution to the Canadian broadcasting system.”
Extremely active in community activities, Dr. Rice served three terms on the University of Alberta Senate and was general chairman in 1969 for the $25 million fund raising campaign for the three Alberta Universities. He was chairman of the board of Alberta’s Government House Foundation and was a founding subscriber and honourary director of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame. Dr. Rice was also a strong and consistent supporter of the arts, education, health and welfare, and youth organizations in the province.
He received numerous honours, such as: honourary doctor of laws (LL.D.) University of Alberta 1965; first Premier’s Award for Service in 1977; Award for contributions to the Arts from the Financial Post and the Canadian Conference of Arts and Council for Business and the Arts 1980; Canadian Business Leader of the Year Award from the Faculty of Business, University of Alberta 1982.
In 1984, Dr. Rice was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada, received the Western Broadcaster’s Award for Broadcaster of the Half Century, and was named to the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame.
During his active and dynamic role as President of Sunwapta Broadcasting Ltd., Dr. Rice still found time to pursue his lifetime interest in theatre and entertainment.
Executive Director, The Alberta Order of Excellence