Gateway Gazette

Big Rock Brewery: Remembering Ed

Posted by Big Rock Brewery – August 20, 2014

Edward E. McNally, O.C., LL.B, B.A. Calgary Business Hall of Fame Laureate 1925 - 2014
Edward E. McNally, O.C., LL.B, B.A.
Calgary Business Hall of Fame Laureate
1925 – 2014

On behalf of Big Rock Brewery, it is with great sadness that we must report that our founder and friend, Edward McNally, passed away on August 19, 2014.

Ed was the driving force behind the creation of Big Rock and his name has, and always will be, synonymous with our brewery. We will be forever grateful for his unique vision, this great company he built against all the odds, and for the incredible legacy he has bequeathed to craft beer lovers everywhere.

Since he didn’t found Big Rock until he turned 60, fathering some of Canada’s most sought-after craft beers was only part of a life well-lived for Ed:

He was born in Lethbridge in 1925 and so he witnessed, first-hand, the effects of the Great Depression. He started his working life as a journalist, then a newspaper editor, where he learned the value of words and how less invariably equalled more, before becoming a lawyer in Calgary.

After completing his law degree he married Linda and had four children. Weekends were spent on a family farm south of Calgary where he discovered the joys of growing his own produce. His passion for farming grew and expanded to include growing barley and raising cattle.

A voracious reader and entrepreneur at heart, Ed read about the “Mushrooming Microbreweries” in the US and believed that there was a market for “real beer” in Alberta; beer that was flavourful and true to the Reinheitsgrebot (The Bavarian Law of Purity of 1516). Big Rock Brewery was established in 1985 because a few brave people understood the simplicity and truth of Ed’s belief.

While he graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1951 with his Bachelor of Laws and Arts Degrees, he also received an Honourary Doctorate of Laws Degree from the University of Calgary in 1998. Directorships held by Ed, include positions with: Alberta Barley Growers, Alberta Genetics, Algonquin Oil and Gas Ltd., Huntly Cattle Company Scotland and the Western Barley Growers Association.

Ed was frequently honoured for his vision, business acumen and community involvement through receipt of awards like: the Governor General of Canada’s Order of Canada in 2005; the Mount Royal College Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award in 2004; the Ernst and Young, Canada’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 1995; the Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP, Pinnacle Award of Business Excellence in 1992, and the University of Calgary, Haskayne School of Business, Distinguished Business Leader Award in 1992.

His philanthropic contributions and donations are notable, and much too numerous to mention individually. Ed was particularly focused on supporting organizations and causes in the areas of education, healthcare and agriculture. He was incredibly generous with both his time and financial support.

Ed’s life experiences, determination, hard work and commitment to the community have culminated in the success that is now Big Rock Brewery – the second largest Canadian-owned brewery dedicated to the production of a vast selection of pure malt, unpasteurized, preservative-free craft beers. Thanks to Ed’s unique vision and tireless perseverance, Big Rock Brewery is a true Alberta success story. Today, it is a public company with over 130 employees, its own distribution network, and soon, breweries in three provinces across the country.

Rest in peace, Ed. Thanks for everything. Literally.

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