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Not an Ordinary Brain-Drain: Francois Leblanc to join the Getty Institute
By Paul Stumes, P.Eng

François LeBlanc, Chief Architect of the National Capital Commission has accepted an invitation for a senior position at the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles, California. Notwithstanding personal acclaim, this invitation represents the recognition of the excellence of Canadian historic conservation movement.

The Getty Conservation Institute is the world's foremost organization for research and development of advanced restoration and conservation techniques. It supports numerous conservation projects in many corners of the world. François LeBlanc as the head of Field Projects, with the assistance of his staff of 20 conservators, will work on various locations to test newly developed technologies. Depending upon the test results he will initiate the adjustment and improvement of the applied technologies. In completion of the process the perfect techniques will be published and made available for conservators worldwide.

François is well qualified for this responsible and demanding task. Graduated in architecture at Montreal University and in historic building restoration at the University of York in England. After completing his education François practiced for some time at a private consulting firm. Later joined Parks Canada where first he was Chief Architect for Historic monuments of the French Regime and then became the Chief of Engineering and Architecture for Historic Sites in the Province of Quebec.

His first major venture in international affairs was between 1979-1983 when he became the Director of ICOMOS at its headquarters in Paris, France. Upon his return to Canada he joined the Heritage Canada Foundation, where among others he managed the Main Street Program for the revitalization of traditional downtown in 100 Canadian Municipalities.

In 1992, François was appointed to the position of Chief Architect of the national Capital Commission, where he was responsible for1600 buildings, including numerous heritage structures. His brave interventions frequently prevented the destruction of major historic buildings in the Capital.

Because of his internationally recognized expertise François was many times asked to provide assistance to the restoration of historic monuments in foreign countries. Among others, Lebanon, Yemen, Sri Lanka, and Greece profited from his visits.

While François' new headquarters will be in the USA we should not classify his departure as an other case of "brain-drain". Everybody knows that he is a Canadian and his actions are always thought of as a gift from Canada. We are proud that this important post was assigned to the best of our brigade and wishing him good luck in his work as Canada's ambassador to the world of heritage conservation.

Paul Stumes, Dec. 12, 2000

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