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Florence and George Klein

 

Honourable senators, I rise today to recognize an outstanding Canadian couple, George and Florence Klein, long-time residents of Ottawa, and to congratulate Florence on reaching her one hundredth birthday on January 20.

Florence Elizabeth Klein was born in 1916 in Pembroke, Ontario. She moved to Ottawa in 1935 to work with the federal government — quite an accomplishment for a young woman in those days. In 1940, Florence married George Klein, and since a married woman could not hold a position in the federal government at that time, Florence resigned, raised two children and embarked on a life of volunteerism.

During the 1950s and 1960s, she was an active volunteer in a number of areas. She helped nursing staff of the City of Ottawa Health Unit in the local schools. She was a long-time member of the Auxiliary of the Island Lodge, Home for the Aged, on Porter's Island, knitting hundreds of items to support the auxiliary's work at the lodge. She knitted toques for premature babies at the Grace Hospital and hats for newborns at the Almonte General Hospital. For her 40 years as a volunteer, Florence was awarded the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal and recognition from the City of Ottawa.

During the terms of Governors General Roland Michener, Edward Schreyer and Jules Leger, Florence worked at Government House to organize and hand-address over 3,000 Christmas cards each year.

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Her beautiful, flowing cursive writing was instrumental in securing this position and she still maintains this skill today. Florence loved working at Government House.

When Florence married George in 1940, they began a partnership that lasted 52 years. Gorge passed away in 1992, at the age of 88 years.

George Klein is known as the foremost Canadian inventor of the 20th century. He was a quiet, modest and kind man who worked 40 years at the National Research Council laboratories in Ottawa. Among his many accomplishments was the design and building of the National Research Council's first wind tunnel in the 1930s.

George and his team built the first practical electric-powered wheelchair for veterans of the Second World War. He was the chief engineer and mechanical designer for the first Canadian nuclear reactor at Chalk River. He was internationally recognized in the mechanics of ice and snow and designed an international system for classifying snow.

After retirement, and well past the age of 70, George worked as chief consultant on the gear design for the first Canadarm.

George received numerous recognitions as one of Canada's most successful inventors and design engineers. He was made a member of the Order of the British Empire after the Second World War for his contributions to science in support of the Allies. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada. He was honoured by international organizations such as the Royal Aeronautical Society and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He received a Doctor of Engineering from Carleton University and a Doctor of Laws from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Throughout George's career, Florence was the rock that kept the family together, and she gave George the space, support and freedom to work on his numerous inventions.

Honourable senators, please join me in recognizing Florence and George Klein, and in congratulating Florence on the occasion of her one hundredth birthday.