About Lorne Trottier

Lorne Trottier

In 1976, Lorne M. Trottier co-founded Matrox, a privately held group of companies known around the world for its innovative products in the areas of video/graphics for the television and A/V industries and imaging for the machine vision and factory automation industries. Since the company’s founding, Lorne has been the key player in the engineering aspect of the business, originating many of Matrox’s most prominent products. To this day, Lorne works closely with key managers and engineers and maintains an active role in product development and innovation activities at Matrox.

In addition to his work in technology development at Matrox, Lorne has numerous other interests spanning various fields such as climate change, energy, astronomy and aerospace science. A benefactor, philanthropist, engineer, businessman, and visionary leader, Lorne has devoted his life’s work to advancing science and technology and building community.

In 2019, Lorne bought out his co-founding partner in Matrox and is now ready to lead Matrox through its next chapter.

Early interests in engineering and entrepreneurship

Lorne first discovered his passion for electronics as an eleven-year-old; a new friend’s hobby was building small electronic devices—crystal radios, telegraph communicators, ham radios—and Lorne was captivated by the exciting potential these devices afforded. His self-directed research into electronics opened Lorne’s mind to the fields of science, space exploration, and electronics. He was captivated not only with how radio and television worked, but how the entire universe functioned. By age 13, Lorne knew he wanted to become a scientist.

As a student, Lorne’s initial focus was to be an engineer in the space industry, merging his interest in electronics with his curiosity about space exploration. Instead, Lorne’s early career began in the broadcast industry, working first at Central Dynamics where he undertook a project developing a genlock broadcast sync generator. His second job at the Canadian Marconi Company, where he designed interface cards for minicomputers, the technological precursors of microprocessors. At this point, Lorne met his future business partner; the pair co-founded Matrox, based on the idea that there was a market for electrical components that could interface between microprocessors and video. His early professional experiences provided the technological framework that would go on to underpin much of Matrox’s technology for the next 45 years.

Education and awards

In 2016 Lorne Trottier received an honorary doctorate from l’Université de Québec à Montréal (UQAM).

Lorne earned a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from McGill University in 1970, when he was also the recipient of the British Association Gold Medal for outstanding academic achievement. In 1973 he earned a master's degree in Electrical Engineering from McGill, and in 2006 was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the same university. He is a Governor Emeritus of the University.

In December 2003, Lorne received the prestigious Prix Lionel-Boulet, the Government of Quebec's highest honor for economic development in the area of applied technology. In the same year, he was honored by the Fédération de l'informatique du Québec as one of the 25 Bâtisseurs des technologies de l'information et des communications (TIC). In 2007, Lorne was named a Member of the Order of Canada and promoted to Officer of the Order of Canada in 2016. In 2011, 2013, 2016, 2018, and 2019 he received honorary doctorates from l’Université de Montréal/Polytechnique (jointly), the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), l’Université de Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Concordia University (jointly with his wife Louise), and Simon Fraser University respectively.

Trottier Family Foundation

Since its establishment in 2000 by Lorne and his wife Louise, the Trottier Family Foundation has made gifts totaling approximately $180M CAD. Over the years the Foundation has expanded its activities and now has a full-time staff of 5 and a Board consisting of 5 family members. The Foundation has focused on support for the following areas: promote science education and technology literacy, climate change and sustainable development, research in astronomy and astrophysics, health care, and community. The Foundation has made major gifts to McGill University, l’École Polytechnique, Simon Fraser University, the Lakeshore General Hospital, the new Montreal MUHC and CHUM super hospitals, and provides support to hundreds of other charities. For example, in 2019 TFF gave grants to 115 registered charities.

McGill University

Lorne Trottier receives honorary doctorate from McGill University

Lorne and the Trottier Family Foundation have been generous benefactors of McGill University—his alma mater—over the years. The Lorne M. Trottier Building, dedicated in 2004, was the product of the first gift to the University.

This was followed by a second donation, in 2006, to establish the Lorne Trottier Chair in Astrophysics and Cosmology in the Faculty of Science, and the Lorne Trottier Chair in Aerospace Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering, and associated fellowships for graduate students in both faculties.

Lorne and his family also support the Mini-Science Series as well as the Lorne Trottier Public Science Symposium Series—a series of annual lectures organized by the McGill Office for Science & Society, featuring outstanding speakers from around the world and designed “to inform, inspire debate and raise public awareness on contemporary issues confronting society today.” The Trottier Foundation established an endowment for the McGill Office for Science & Society to ensure that their efforts in separating the sense from the nonsense can continue in perpetuity. In 2012 an additional gift was made to fund the establishment of the Trottier Institute for Science and Public Policy (TISPP) in the Science Faculty and the Trottier Institute for Sustainability in Engineering and Design (TISED) in the Faculty of Engineering.

Sustainable development and climate change

One of the major concerns of Lorne and the Trottier Family Foundation is the area of climate change. This is perhaps the most important challenge facing Canada and the world as a whole in the 21st century. The Foundation has funded a growing number of initiatives in this area including l’Institut de l’Énergie Trottier (IET) at l’École Polytechnique. The IET, along with TISED at McGill are charged with doing education and research as well as public outreach in the areas of sustainable development and clean energy.

The Trottier Foundation also sponsored a major study on pathways for Canada to achieve an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases (GHG’s) by 2050. The Trottier Energy Futures Project (TEFP) was conducted in collaboration with the David Suzuki Foundation and the Canadian Academy of Engineering. Released in 2016, the TEFP study was cited extensively in a recent report issued by the Government of Canada entitled Canada’s Mid-Century Long Term Low Greenhouse Gas Development Strategy. This report was released at an international climate change meeting in 2016 in Marrakesh, Morocco.

The Trottier Foundation also works on climate issues at the local level, from supporting local charities that helped bring Greta Thunberg to Montreal to collaborating with the City of Montreal to develop the city’s climate action plan for 2050. Very recently, the Trottier Foundation helped establish the Low Carbon Cities Canada initiative with an $183M endowment from the Federal Government aimed at accelerating local carbon solutions in seven Canadian cities, including establishing the Greater Montreal Climate Fund.

The Foundation has also pledged $5M a year for the next ten years, to fund strategic, innovative and catalytic projects with the aim of helping reduce emissions in Canada by half over the next decade. In addition to grantmaking, the foundation’s endowment, as well as personal assets, have been entirely divested from fossil fuels, positive ESG screens are applied, and various impact investments are being pursued.

Space exploration and astrophysics

Of significant personal interest to Lorne is space exploration and astrophysics. He has been a member of the Millennium Committee of the Planetary Society for many years. He has also served on the Canadian Space Advisor Board (SAB).

The Trottier Foundation has made major gifts to McGill University in this field. The first of these gifts established the Lorne Trottier Chair in Astrophysics and Cosmology in the Faculty of Science and the Lorne Trottier Chair in Aerospace Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering. More recently, the Trottier Foundation has pledged additional funding to support ongoing research projects at the McGill Space Institute (MSI) in the areas of astrophysics and exoplanets. Vicky Kaspi, a world-renowned researcher on neutron stars is the Director of this Institute.

The Foundation has also provided financial support for exoplanet research at l’Institut de Recherche sur les Exoplanètes (iRex) at l’Université de Montréal. René Doyon, head of this institute, is one of the world’s premier researchers in this field, and he is the principle investigator on the NIRISS instrument on the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope. In addition, the Trottier Foundation has helped establish collaboration between the iRex and the McGill Space Institute in the area of exoplanet research.

Science outreach

Bill Nye visits Matrox

One of the principal objectives of the Trottier Foundation is science outreach to encourage young people to pursue careers in science and technology and to promote science literacy with the general public. In 2013 the Foundation funded the Trottier Observatory and Trottier Studio for Innovative Science Education at Simon Fraser University, which are dedicated to science outreach. The Foundation sponsors multiple annual symposia on science, clean energy, and sustainable development through its support of the Trottier Institutes at McGill and l’École Polytechnique. The Foundation has also provided financial support for science outreach organizations such as the Montreal Science Center, Let’s Talk Science, ASTER, and many others. Lorne serves as the President of the Foundation of the Montreal Science Center and served as a board member of the US based National Center for Science Education (NCSE) for more than 10 years.

Local community support and international humanitarian aid

The Trottier Foundation supports many international humanitarian aid organizations such as UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, Médecins du Monde, and Oxfam.

The Trottier Foundation also supports organizations in local communities with a focus on helping the underprivileged in the Greater Montreal Area, and the Province of Quebec. Since the outbreak of the COVID pandemic, the Foundation created an additional $15M fund for 2020 and 2021. The Foundation has worked with a consortium of philanthropic actors to fund initiatives that aim to stem the spread of the pandemic, including a bottom up territorial approach wherein highly affected neighborhoods develop and implement emergency action plans in collaboration with key local actors. It has also provided funding for scientific research and collaboration between Canadian researchers.