James (Jimmie) Spencer is one of Canada’s titans of the ski industry. His work in Western Canada and internationally has brought numerous accolades, not least of which was the Order of British Columbia in 2007 and an induction into Canada’s Ski Hall of Fame in 2011.
With a military career that spanned more than three decades, Spencer served in Italy, Austria, Germany, Norway, United Kingdom and the Middle East, rising to the rank of colonel with the British Military before retiring.
It was during the occupation of Austria that Spencer became interested in skiing. Sir Winston Churchill had called for an alpine command unit, and Spencer was trained to become a skilled skier and marksman. He eventually won the British national championships in winter pentathlon in 1952 and 1953 and captained the British Nordic Biathlon teams in the 1952 and 1956 Olympic Winter Games.
Spencer brought his passion for alpine adventure to the Canada West Ski Areas Association in 1979 through his leadership as executive director, president and chief executive officer. This work has brought a series of honours over the years. He is distinguished for his ability to lead collaboratively and to help grow a small group of committed ski operators into a vast network stretching from British Columbia to Manitoba and the Yukon with 100 ski areas and 180 associate members.
For his leadership, entrepreneurial spirit and service to Britain and Canada, and for his extraordinary contribution to Western Canada’s ski industry, Royal Roads University is pleased to present James (Jimmie) Spencer O.B.C. for the honorary degree, Doctor of Laws.