Professor Edward McWhinney, 1924-2015
Professor Edward McWhinney, 1924-2015

Lawyer, MP, teacher: Ted McWhinney's brilliant career

EARLIER this year Edward (Ted) McWhinney died in Canada.

Although Wikipedia states he was born and educated in Sydney and a learned journal says that he was born in Canada, Edward was actually born in Lismore and received most of his schooling there before going to North Sydney Boys High School and then on to Sydney University where he studied law.

Ted McWhinney had an amazing career. One can be forgiven for wondering how he fitted everything he accomplished into one lifetime.

Born on 19 May 1924 he was the youngest of the three children of Matthew and Evelyn McWhinney of Lismore. His family had a history of professional and academic achievement.

Ted continued this tradition but his studies at Sydney University were interrupted by the Second World War. He was too young to enlist so obtained a post as secretary to the Premier of NSW, Bill (later Sir William) McKell.

He held this appointment until he enlisted in the RAAF in 1943. His brother, Joseph, was already in the Air Force and was to die in a bombing raid over Berlin in 1944.

As with many young Australian pilots Edward was sent to Canada to train.

He not only fell in love with Canada at this time but he also met his future wife, Amelia (Emily) Sabatzky, who had escaped Germany with her parents in 1938. The family had settled in Canada. She was to become an international expert in her chosen field of economics and commerce, including working for the United Nations. She and Edward married in England in 1951.

When the Second World War had ended in 1945 Edward resumed his studies at Sydney University and in 1949 he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship.

In 1950 he was called to the NSW Bar and in 1951 he was appointed visiting lecturer in Law and Political Science at Yale University where he also undertook his doctorate in Constitutional and International Law.

Ted later undertook research and taught at The Hague, Berlin, Pisa, and Geneva as well as Toronto and Vancouver in Canada. He also held positions at McGill University and Indiana University.

He was an accomplished linguist being fluent in several foreign languages including French, German, and Russian. He had also studied Japanese and Chinese prior to taking up positions in those countries.

He was especially interested in the French language and French culture, however, and was an Associate-Professor at the University of Paris (Sorbonne) on at least three occasions.

In his later years he served two terms as a Member of Parliament in Canada but then returned to the role he liked best as professional adviser, consultant and teacher.

He somehow found time to write 30 books, some of which were written in French and German, and he co-authored several others. He also contributed to many journals and other scientific works.

He and his wife established the Edward and Emily McWhinney Foundation and much of their income was used to fund this. It provides funding mainly for Scholarships and Research.

One such is a history award provided via the Historical Society for a student at Lismore High School. Emily McWhinney died in 2011 and Edward died on his 91st birthday in 2015.

They were an amazing and very generous couple. Edward's sister still lives in the Lismore area.

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