Oilpatch Veteran, Philanthropist Charlie Fischer Dead At 70

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Oilpatch veteran Charlie Fischer died this week in Calgary. (JWN file photo)

A member of the Canadian Petroleum Hall of Fame and the Order of Canada, who was well known for his contributions to both his industry and his community, died Wednesday in Calgary. Charlie Fischer was 70.

A native of Saskatoon, Sask., he graduated from the University of Calgary in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering and earned a Masters in Business Administration - finance degree in 1982, also from the UofC.

Following graduation, Fischer began his career at Dome Petroleum Limited and in 1972 joined Hudson’s Bay Oil and Gas Company Ltd., where he worked in several areas before joining Bow Valley Industries Ltd. as vice-president in 1982. He moved to TransCanada Pipelines Limited as president of its upstream oil and gas subsidiaries, TCPL Resources Ltd. and Encor Energy Corporation Inc. in 1988, serving as president and chief executive officer of Encor Inc. until it was acquired by Talisman Energy Inc. in 1993.

In February 1994, Fischer joined Canadian Occidental Petroleum Ltd. (later Nexen Inc.) as senior vice-president of exploration and production for North America. Named executive vice-president and chief operating officer in 1997, his role was expanded to include Nexen’s international oil and gas operations. In June 2001, Fischer was appointed president and chief executive officer, a position he held until his retirement at the end of 2008.

Fischer served as a leader both within the industry and in helping those outside gain a better understanding of the industry. He served as chair of both the Independent Petroleum Association of Canada (IPAC) and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), and in those capacities worked closely with government, regulators, the press and the public to ensure that the industry was properly understood.

He had been a member of the Enbridge Inc. board of directors since 2009.

At the provincial level, Fischer co-chaired the board of Climate Change Central and served on the boards of the Climate Change and Emission Management Corporation (CCEMC) and Alberta Innovates – Energy and Environment Solutions. Nationally, he was a participant in the Clean Energy Dialogue between the governments of Canada and the United States, co-chairing the carbon capture and storage discussions. Fischer also served as vice-chair of the Canada West Foundation.

A major volunteer force within the Calgary community, he served on the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation board for 12 years — two as chair. Following that, Fischer co-chaired a capital campaign that raised more than $50 million to support the building of the new Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary.

He also served as a vice-chair of the UofC board of governors, was a member of the Calgary Airport Authority business development advisory council, and a special advisor to SAIT Polytechnique, supporting its capital campaign.

In 2019, Fischer and his wife, Joanne Cuthbertson, were invested as members of the Order of Canada. “This devoted couple has, with unwavering commitment, spearheaded and taken action on a broad range of initiatives related to public education, children’s health, the arts and responsible business practice in Calgary and beyond,” said Governor-General Julie Payette in the announcement. “As prime funders of the Cuthbertson-Fischer Chair in Paediatric Mental Health and the Chancellor Cuthbertson Centre for Student Success, they are lauded for their transformational donations and positive, energetic spirits.”