Robert Chapman is a long-standing member of the Edmonton business community who has played a leading role in developing many of the city’s seminal business and social service organizations. His extensive resume of service to Edmonton and Alberta spans almost 70 years and touches on a wide range of sectors. While Robert’s activities and interests have been diverse, they all speak to his singular commitment to making his city and province a better place to live.
Robert came to Edmonton in 1918, when his father moved the family from Medicine Hat to pursue opportunities for his insurance business. He joined Chapman Weber Ltd. in 1936 and quickly developed an interest in the aviation industry as he worked to expand the company’s role as a major aviation insurance broker in Alberta.
Robert put his budding business career on hold in the early 1940s to join the Loyal Edmonton Regiment. He received an honourable discharge for medical reasons, but his knowledge of aviation allowed him to continuing serving the war effort by working as a civilian advisor with military airports across Western Canada. Robert continued serving as a Loyal Edmonton reservist after the war. In 1945, he married Dorothy White and they began raising a family.
Over the years, Robert expanded his business interests to include Capilano Motors, Chapman Weber Motors, Mayfair Developments, Chapman Developments and Edmonton Travel. He also worked to build on the health of businesses in Edmonton and across the province through his 60 years of involvement with the Chamber of Commerce. In his service as president of the Edmonton and Alberta Jaycees and Chamber of Commerce, and as a member of the National Chamber of Commerce Executive, Robert helped open doors for many businesses around Alberta and across the country. He took that work a step further in 1971 when he became the first chair of the Alberta Opportunity Company. For the next 14 years, he took great pleasure in helping countless Alberta businesses take flight.
Robert has given equal attention to fostering the opportunities available to Edmontonians in need of social supports. In the late 1930s, he helped create the Edmonton Council of Social Agencies and, later, the Edmonton Community Chest and the Edmonton Family Welfare Bureau. These agencies were among the first viable social service agencies to take root in Edmonton. They not only provided much-needed help for a city recovering from the effects of the Great Depression, but also served as the basis for a number of the city’s current social service agencies. Robert has also volunteered with the Salvation Army for more than 40 years at both the local and national levels.
His extensive list of community work also includes duties as founding chair of the Medical Services Research Foundation, and as a founder and board member of the Citizen’s Committee. Over the years, Robert has also shared his energy and expertise as a member of more than 40 charitable and community organizations, including the University of Alberta, the Boys and Girls Club of Edmonton, the Charitable Foundation of Alberta, the Edmonton Regional Airport Taskforce, the Conference Society of Alberta, and the Canadian Arthritis and Rheumatism Society.
Mr. Chapman has received numerous honours, including the Order of Distinguished Auxiliary Service from the Salvation Army, and a Community Achievement Award from the Alberta government. In 1991 he was appointed Honourary Colonel of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment.
Robert Chapman approaches every challenge with the same trademark qualities that have defined his career and his life - with great energy and optimism for the future, and with a desire to create new opportunities for the city and the province he is proud to call home.
Executive Director, The Alberta Order of Excellence