By Ted Simpson –
Glen McInnes says it’s his curiosity that takes him places in life, from entrepreneur to art collector, traveller, to most recently, a spot in the Order of Ottawa.
McInnes joined the Order of Ottawa in late 2014 after a nomination from former Kitchissippi Ward Coun. Katherine Hobbs. It happened after he struck up a conversation with Hobbs about his involvement in the local art community.
McInnes’s body of work has been significant for the city. He was the founding chair of the Ottawa Art Gallery when it was incorporated, 25 years ago. The institution McInnes started is about to receive a $25 million addition, assuring the gallery will continue on for at least another quarter century.
The founding of the OAG is a keystone in McInnes’s commitment to supporting young and emerging artists. “I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get young artists into public collections. I feel if they don’t get into those collections, they are going to be in garage sales in 15 or 20 years,” he says.
Together with his wife Barbara, the pair have bought, sold and donated hundreds of pieces of art, always with the goal of giving exposure to great work that might otherwise go unseen.
1. Glen and his wife are giving their art collection away.
“We’re giving it all away, we don’t want it to be a burden for our kids,” says McInnes. Though the couple are still very much full of life (they were vacationing in Spain at the time of writing) they lament that their art should not necessarily be destined to become their children’s art. They have already donated over 300 pieces to various galleries across the country, with over 250 works still in their home collection.
“The ones that we haven’t given away yet are the closest to our hearts,” says McInnes.
2. He’s a vegan.
McInnes has been on a religiously vegan diet for over six years. The change came after he and his wife both experienced heart problems that led to surgeries. Glen never breaks vegan code, although Barbara has been known to order chicken from time to time. Being passionate about cooking his whole life, it took McInnes a while to learn some new recipes.
“Now I can make a shepherd’s pie that’s to die for, or a macaroni and cheese that’s way better than one with real cheese,” he says.
3. His day job is at a land development company.
McInnes is in the process of selling 500 housing lots in the Greeley area. He admits the job may be diametrically opposed to his persona as a globe-trotting art connoisseur, but it is work that he loves.
“That gets me just enough loose change to buy some art,” he laughs.
4. He was educated as a civil engineer.
Though best known for his time spent in the world of business and art, McInnes was first trained as an engineer and graduated from Carleton University. He’s never really been able to stay at anything for too long.
“My wife says I’m a serial entrepreneur,” he says, summing up his career to date. “I’ve founded a university, a couple of high tech companies and now, land development.”
5. He has some unusual shopping habits.
“My wife says I should mention that I love shopping for women’s clothes. She says that’s very unusual.” Considering his love for art and design however, it isn’t too strange.
“Really well designed women’s clothes are not unlike a really good work of art,” he adds. He has been known to spend hours looking for that one perfect piece of clothing for Barbara or his daughters.