By Alex Hamlyn
Franc R. Joubin, a globetrotting uranium prospector, gave the school $600,000 on his death in 1997.
Joubin’s claim to fame was discovering one of the largest deposits of uranium in the world at Elliot Lake, Ont. in 1953. He served on Ryerson’s Board of Governors from 1963 to 1966.
He’s also one of four donors who have bequeathed a portion of their estates to the school as part of the Invest in Futures campaign. The school has recently begun actively encouraging donors to consider bequeathments to Ryerson.
“We are starting to focus more on planned giving at Ryerson,” said Bob Baker, executive director of development with university advancement.
He said the school has started placing ads in the alumni magazine, to let alumni know they have the option to set up such bequeathments. The school has only received one or two bequeathments in the last two years as hospitals are much more popular for donors, but Baker hopes that will change.
“It’s a wonderful way for people to leave a legacy with their chosen charities or institutions,” he said.
Ryerson President Sheldon Levy said bequests of money, property and art was common at the University of Toronto, where he worked prior to joining Ryerson in 2005.
Oswald Carter and Phyllis Anne Elizabeth Whitaker are some other donors who bequeathed at least $25,000 to the school. Joubin’s will ordered the money to go to Ryerson to help establish student bursaries.
In 2000, these funds were incorporated into the Franc R. Joubin memorial trust, as well as two other memorial funds. Joubin’s estate made similar donations to York University and the University of Victoria.
Marion Selig, Joubin’s daughter, said his father was always passionate about education.
“For my father, the whole concept of giving to education, and in particular to those who are returning to education, was a wonderful idea,” she said about his donation to York. “He wanted to help others also achieve something in Canada.”
His granddaughter, Marea Selig, described him as “a visionary with amazing persistance and with a quiet and original sense of humor.”
While very little is known of Joubin, his story is one of the more interesting at Ryerson. Francis Renault Joubin was born in San Francisco, Ca. in 1911. When he was three his family moved to British Columbia, but his father soon died and Joubin ended up in an orphanage at his mother’s behest.
He got his master’s in geology at the University of British Columbia and was soon out in the field with a $120 Geiger counter looking to strike it rich.
A preliminary survey near Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. indicated the site was bare, but Joubin felt the radioactive readings were a sure sign of uranium. He returned to the site in 1953 to make sure.
After he convinced Canadian mining tycoon Joesph Hirshhorn to put up $30,000 for another test, Joubin discovered massive uranium deposits. The pair spun their discovery into mining interests worth $30 billion.
For his efforts around the world, Joubin became a member of the Orders of Canada and Ontario. “I was, and remain, strongly attracted to vocational education,” Joubin wrote in his 1986 memoir, Not for Gold Alone.