BIOGRAPHIES AND INTERVIEW EXCERPTS
Alan Herbert Emmott | The Freeman Legacy
Alan Herbert Emmott
"What happens in one community affects all other communities," Alan Emmott says. His philosophy of thinking globally while acting locally has served Emmott, and the City of Burnaby, well throughout his career in civic affairs. Serving first as Reeve (Mayor) from 1958 to 1968, then as a councillor in 1971 and again from 1974 to 1987, Emmot holds the record as the longest-serving member of the Burnaby City Council.
Fresh out of the provincial Normal School (teacher's college) in 1941, Emmott followed his older brother into the Royal Canadian Air Force. His first overseas posting was with the Advanced Flying Unit in Dumfries, Scotland. From there he trained with the Pathfinder Force Night Training Unit, and became a member of the RAF No. 635 Squadron, with whom he completed two tours, with a total of 56 missions. Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal in 1945, he celebrated VE Day at Exeter Cathedral, and VJ Day at Trafalgar Square.
Returning to Canada, he attended the University of British Columbia, and became a high school teacher in Burnaby. In 1957, he embarked on a political career, running for reeve of Burnaby. Elected in December of that year, he led the city for 10 years, becoming its first mayor, when, in 1968, the Municipal Act of BC changed the title of reeve to mayor. After stepping down as mayor, Emmott returned to civic politics in 1971 as an alderman, a role he filled again from 1974 to 1987.
Emmott's long list of contributions to the community include such highlights as establishing Burnaby's first Sister City relationship with the city of Kushiro, Japan; involvement with the site selection and development of Simon Fraser University, initiating Burnaby's first Park Reservation bylaw, and supporting the formation of the Greater Vancouver Regional District.
In 1983, Emmott was recognized for his contributions to the city and to SFU with an honorary degree. Ten years later, the City of Burnaby bestowed on him the title of Freeman of the city. In 2002, the city paid further tribute by renaming the former Burnaby South Secondary school site as the Alan Emmott Community Centre.
Emmott died on September 20, 2010.