June 10, 1927 – May 24, 2006
Bernard Ostry, the former chair and president of TV Ontario, was born in Wadena, Sask., and spent his youth in Winnipeg, Man. He earned his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg in 1948, and studied in London, England. While in London, Ostry taught at the University of London and at the London School of Economics, as well as at the University of Birmingham (1951-1958).
Ostry began a second career in 1959, when he was appointed executive secretary-treasurer of the Commonwealth Institute of Social Research, a position he held from 1959 to 1961. When he returned to Canada in the latter year, he held similar roles in both the Social Science and Humanities Research Councils (1961-1963). He joined the CBC as an on-air personality in 1960 and was named supervisor, Department of Public Affairs (radio and television) in 1963, serving until 1968. In that year, Ostry was appointed chief consultant to the Canadian Radio-Television Commission, and served on the prime minister’s task force on Government information.
In 1970, Ostry began his career in the federal civil service, first as assistant under-secretary of state (citizenship) until 1973, then as deputy minister and secretary-general of the National Museum (1974-1978), and finally as a deputy minister of communications (1978-1980).
Following a year in Paris, Ostry joined the Ontario civil service and served successively as deputy minister in the following portfolios: Industry and Tourism (1981-1982), Industry and Trade (1982-1984), and Citizenship and Culture (1984-1985). In the following year, he was named chair and president of the Ontario Educational Communications Authority (TV Ontario), remaining in that post until 1991.
In addition to his professional activities, Ostry was a member and officer in several bodies in Canada and abroad, including the Canadian Conference for the Arts, Heritage Canada, the Administrative Council of the International Fund for the Promotion of Culture, UNESCO, Paris, the Canadian Museums Association, the International Institute of Communications, Guelph University, the Stratford Festival, the Canadian Native Arts Foundation, the National Ballet School (Canada), and others.
Ostry authored several books, articles, and reports, including Research in the Humanities and in the Social Sciences in Canada (1962), The Cultural Connection (1978), and, with H.S. Ferns, The Age of Mackenzie King, Vol. 1 (1955).
In 1988, Ostry was made an officer of the Order of Canada, for being an outspoken advocate of cultural sovereignty, ethics in the public service and the preservation of public broadcasting. In 2006, he was promoted to companion. He also received honorary degrees from the University of Manitoba, the University of Waterloo, and York University.
Featured Photo: Bernard Ostry, R.W. Mouland, 1974. Canadian Museum of History, 74-11945
Clipping: Ostry Named Head of Modern School. (1964, June 24). Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, p. 3.