Basics learned in school served Max Ward well

David Kirkham

Max Ward

"I have a very pleasant glow when I think back on my school years."

—Max Ward, aviator and businessman, reflecting on his education

Max Ward is best known for founding Wardair, a company that grew to become Canada's largest international air charter carrier. He joined the air force after completing Grade 11 at Victoria High School in Edmonton. While he regrets not having finished school, Ward sees the value of an education. "I've often thought, had I a better education, I could have cut down the many years I had to put in the hard way."

Ward wishes he had learned to speak other languages, especially as his aviation business developed and he had to travel. "It would have been a great leg up if I could have held my own in the various foreign languages. So that's why I encourage my children to speak as many languages as possible because it's a shrinking world."

Ward remembers his early years in elementary school. He admits he wasn't the easiest student to handle. "I had a lot of fun, maybe more fun than work. The teachers persevered with me because I was a little over-energetic and quite a handful. They treated me so well. If they had been harsh with me, I would have fought back." Ward has a particular fondness for a teacher called Annie. "When you're young and vivacious and you like the outdoor world, it's a very difficult job to teach people, young boys who were full of vim and vigor. But the number one thing is how kind she was despite my actions, to interest me in what she was doing and encourage me."

Ward credits public education with giving him the basics, especially writing skills. "The fundamentals have to be there if you're going to run a business. You've got to be able to express yourself." Ward admits the great outdoors interested him more than school, but he says "despite that, the system was capable of teaching me the basics and getting me through to the point where I could carry on."