Hilborn named to Order of Canada

A well-known local resident and long-time nuclear researcher will receive one of the country’s highest honours this year.

John Hilborn was named last week as one of the 2018 recipients of the Order of Canada.

The announcement was made Friday by Governor General Julie Payette.

Hilborn is one of 125 new appointees to the Order. Recipients will be invited to accept their insignia at a ceremony to be held at a later date.hilborn

Created in 1967, the Order of Canada is one of our country’s highest civilian honours, and recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.

“Close to 7,000 people from all sectors of society have been invested into the Order,” according to the announcement.

“Their contributions are varied, yet they have all enriched the lives of others and have taken to heart the motto of the Order: DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM (They desire a better country).”

Appointments are made by the governor general on the recommendation of the advisory council for the Order of Canada.

Hilborn’s citation notes that he will receive the Order, “for his innovative contributions as a physicist in the development of Canada’s nuclear industry.”

Hilborn began his career in the nuclear industry in 1949, at the Eldorado uranium mine in the Northwest Territories.

Joining AECL in Chalk River in 1954 following the completion of a PhD program in Nuclear Physics at McGill, Hilborn participated in the reactor startups of NRU, NPD, WR-1 at Whiteshell, and the Steam Generating Heavy Water reactor physics experiment at Harwell in England.

In 1964 he demonstrated the feasibility of the self-powered neutron detector for reactor in-core monitoring, patented in 1967.

He was also co-founder of the manufacturer of those detectors, Reuter-Stokes Canada Ltd.

Dr. Hilborn’s most significant contribution to reactor research was the SLOWPOKE reactor concept which resulted in the SLOWPOKE research reactor, the SLOWPOKE demonstration reactor (SDR), and the SLOWPOKE Energy System (SES-10).

From 1972 to 1977, he headed a new branch at Chalk River to develop special methods and tools for the non-destructive inspection of Candu pressure tubes and steam generators.

In addition to the Order of Canada, Hilborn was awarded the Eadie Medal by the Royal Society of Canada and the WB Lewis Medal by the Canadian Nuclear Association in 1974.
In 2013 he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and in 2014 he received the WE Havercroft Medal from the Canadian Institute for Non-Destructive Examination.

Most recently he has been active with the NRU Alumni Group, trying to build a new business case to keep the NRU reactor at Chalk River running beyond March 31 of this year.