THE ADVOCATE 901
VOL. 79 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2021
By R.C. Tino Bella
Wilf Wakely, most commonly pronounced “Wirofu
Waekuri” in his beloved and enchanting Japan, died
peacefully in Tokyo on February 2, 2021 after a twoyear
battle with brain cancer.
The loss of this foremost advocate of closer and
more harmonious Canada–Japan relations brought
much sorrow and grief to literally countless people,
on both sides of the Pacific and across the globe, whose lives, in one way or
another, had been truly enriched by him in his many roles and endeavours.
Wilf was at times a comedian, a businessman, a bureaucrat, a diplomat, a
community leader and a mentor, and much has been said and published
elsewhere on that score. His achievements of high office in commerce and
government and as a member of numerous board and trade commissions
included postings with the Department of External Affairs, appointment as
British Columbia’s Trade and Investment Commissioner in Kobe, and
appointment as president and chair of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Wilf’s entrepreneurial skills were honed at an early age. As a grade 10 boy
at St. George’s, he bought day-old pastries from a delicatessen shop on Dunbar
St. on his way to school, and then at morning break he sold the pastries
to the other boys. There would be quite a crowd around his locker. We
understand that the headmaster was not impressed.
Wilfred Cowan Wakely was also a lawyer.
His appearance at UBC law school in 1977 as “a man with a plan” was like
that of some exotic creature come among us. A YMCA exchange visit to
Japan in 1965 when he was 15 years old had led, after his completion of
high school in Vancouver, to a career as a highly popular commercial front-