February 22, 1920 – July 20, 2012
David Golden, prisoner of war, lawyer, civil servant and telecommunications pioneer, was born in Sinclair, Man., to Russian immigrants Sholem Wilfrid Golden and Rose Perlman. He graduated from the University of Manitoba’s law school in Winnipeg in 1941, and was called to the Manitoba bar. He also received a Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford University in Oxford, England, but he put his career on hold to join the Army in 1941. He served with the Winnipeg Grenadiers, who spent nearly four years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Hong Kong.
After the war ended, Golden returned to a civilian li fe in Winnipeg. He accepted an offer from Sam Freedman, who would become Manitoba’s chief justice, to open a law practice, on the condition he could take up his Rhodes scholarship first. Golden married Molly Berger in July 1946, and the two later moved to Oxford.
In 1951, Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent requested Golden, who had been in Oxford for a year, move to Ottawa to establish a legal bureau for the Government’s new Defense Production Department. The Goldens packed their bags for the assignment meant to last only one year, but they ended up staying in Ottawa for more than three decades. In 1954, before his appointment ended, Golden was appointed deputy minister of the Defense Production Department. He served in this role for eight years.
In 1962, Golden left the Government for the private sector, and became president of the Air Industries Association of Canada. Yet nine months later, he returned to public service to assist Bud Drury, an old friend, in the set up of the new Department of Industry, where Golden served as deputy minister from 1963 to 1964.
In 1969, Communications Minister Eric Kierans approached Golden with plans for a new satellite communications company, Telesat Canada. Golden became its first president and chief executive officer – and as a result “is rightfully considered to be among the founders of the Canadian space program,” the Manitoba Historical Society states. After 11 years, Golden became a chairman of Telesat Canada.
Golden also served on the mayor’s advisory committee, the board of the national council of the Canadian Human Rights Foundation, and the board of Amnesty International. He was chairman of the Parliamentary Centre for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Centre for Legislative Changes. He sat on the Conference Board of Canada, and served a three-year term on the Conference Board of New York.
In 1977, the Queen named Golden an officer to the Order of Canada. He was also honoured with the Testimonial Award from the Public Policy Forum, the C.D. Howe Award from the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute, the University of Manitoba Distinguished Alumni Award, honorary degrees from the University of Manitoba and Carleton University in Ottawa, and the Canadian Space Agency’s John H. Chapman Award of Excellence.
Golden was also involved with the Jewish community. He was interested in Canadian organizations that supported Israeli academic institutions, and had a passion for Jewish culture and tradition. As a youth, he attended the Yiddish-speaking Peretz School in Winnipeg, and grew to become one of the first Jews to reach the top level of civil service.
Featured Photo: David Golden [ca.1959], Ottawa Jewish Archives, G-067
First Clipping: P.S.D. to fete David Golden on March 13. (1983, February 18). Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, p. 2.
Second Clipping: Support for Campaign. (1980, February 22). Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, p. 1.