Passed away peacefully at home in Victoria following a brief illness.

Predeceased by daughter Lucile and son Michel, Fernand is survived by his wife Mary McAllister; his children Nicole (Michel Paradis), Philip (Manee Khamto) and Catherine; his sister Denise Ledru and nephew Christophe Roussel; his granddaughter France Cordier (Christopher Delassus); and his cousin Constant Cordier.

Fernand was born in Evin-Malmaison, a commune in the Bassin minier du Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France. Although the family experienced the hardships of wartime occupation, education was always a priority, and Fernand was the recipient of a number of scholarships and prizes. A keen student of language, as a teenager he practised his skills interpreting between the French Resistance and Allied soldiers during the liberation of France; for this he earned  the “Médaille Commémorative Française de la Guerre 1939/1945” with the bar “Libération”. After completing his education at the Université de Lille in 1946, he took a position as an English teacher at the Lycée d’Arras.

He seized an opportunity to come to Canada, arriving in Montréal in June of 1947 to join the newly formed International Civil Aviation Organization, a specialized agency of the UN. There he excelled as a translator and was a pioneer in the emerging field of conference interpretation. As an interpreter he was respected and admired for his exquisite fluency in both French and English, for his calm, unassuming demeanour, and for his kindness and generosity towards newcomers entering the profession. When he retired in 1982 he was the Director of all ICAO language services.

In its early days, ICAO held many meetings in far-flung places, and Fernand enjoyed those opportunities to see the world before the advent of mass tourism. He was seconded to interpret at Expo 67 and at the 1976 Olympics, and he was often called to Radio-Canada to interpret during important events, such as the moon landing.

Always a keen athlete, Fernand’s first love was and remained soccer. In his retirement, however, he also came to love curling and was an active member of the Baie d’Urfé Curling Club. Fernand was an enthusiastic art collector, and over the years built an eclectic collection.

A gathering to share memories of Fernand will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 in the Sequoia Centre at McCall Gardens, 4665 Falaise Drive, Victoria, BC. The family requests that all attendees be fully vaccinated.

Condolences may be offered to the family below.

McCall Gardens







  • Patricia Leguen

    Mes sincères condoléances à toute la famille de ce compatriote interprète comme moi et précurseur.

  • CORDIER Constant

    Chère Mary
    Les souvenirs d’enfance me reviennent. Fernand était un super doué et avait une mémoire impressionnante.
    A six ans, il dessinait le portrait de la vieille dame voisine.
    Il était doué aussi bien au football qu’en musique quand il jouait de l’harminoca.
    A l’arrivée des Amùéricains dans Evin, nous étions tous les 2 sur le trottoir devant la droguerie Martinache et je l’ai vu partir avec eux pour leur servir d’interprète.
    Je te souhaite bon courage et t’embrasse ainsi que toute la famille.

  • Linda Anderson

    I was so saddened to read in the Montreal Gazette that Fernand had died. I have such strong and fond memories of Fernand: interpreting with him, of course, the master that he was, and also his impatience with speakers who blathered on endlessly without saying anything much, the cigar eternally clamped between his teeth up until the day he gave up smoking (and informed me so irritatingly how easy it had been for him to give (when I myself was suffering from acute cigarette withdrawal (in the pre-Nicorette days), his fabulous garden in Baie d’Urfe where he showed me around so justifiably proudly – I was blown away by the beauty and imaginativeness of it. He was a steadfast friend and colleague whom I will truly miss. You will not be forgotten, Fernand. My deepest condolences to Mary and the rest of the family.

  • Joane Painter

    I was sorry to read of Fern’s passing. I have many happy memories of golf games and dinners shared by friends. Sincerest sympathies.

  • Denise LEDRU

    Denise LEDRU
    C’est avec émotion que je me souviens des moments passés avec mon frère lorsque nous habitions Evin Malmaison puis de son départ au Canada;
    Il revenait ensuite tous les deux ans avec sa petite famille et nous passions des vacances sur la Côte d’Azur en famille.
    Entre-temps quand j’étais enfant il m’envoyait parfois des colis de jouets et de friandises.
    J’ai toujours été fière de mon frère et ne l’oublierai jamais.

  • Patrick Raineri

    Chère Mary,

    Je vous adresse mes sincères condoléances.
    Je me souviens avec émotion de Fernand, grand ami et collègue de mon père, de l’homme à la main verte qui murmurait à l’oreille des fleurs et grand boucanier de l’île aux pins.
    Je suis de tout cœur avec vous et avec toute la famille Cordier.
    Patrick Raineri

  • Marie-Jeanne Martinache

    Affectée par le décès de Fernand, mon ancien beau frère.
    Acceptez mes sincères condoléances.
    Une Evinoise. Marie-Jeanne

  • Carolyn Meleras

    My heartfelt condolences to you and the Family Cordier, on the loss of your beloved Fernand.
    I hold dear many many sweet memories of the times we all spent together in Montreal and the friendship we shared.
    Fernand was indeed a unique and splendid Gentleman. He was admired by many-Simon always spoke so highly and affectionately of Fernand—he was amongst those colleagues and friends who looked up to Fernand as a mentor and sage.- as did I.
    I wish you G-ds grace as you go forward without him.
    May he Rest in Peace.
    Sending my love,

  • John D Northcut

    Dear Mary, all of us here in Montréal are thinking of you. CAFIFs Members on Facebook contains more condolences.

  • Sheila Elle

    Dear Mary,

    My condolences on the loss of your dearest Fernand. That you and Fernand were able to spend many retirement years together must bring you solace at this sad time.

    Sheila Elle

  • Les Blatchford

    Mary – So sorry to learn of Fernand’s passing – he led a long and full life, and hopefully his later years were in decent health. Fernand was well-thought-of hereabouts, and I’m sure his old buddies at BDCC shed more than a few tears, as did Marilyn and I. He was the original “renaissance man”, learned and sophisticated, and a thoroughly nice guy to boot. Won’t bore you with updates on us at this point, but if and when the time seems right, would love to hear from you…it has been too long. Our e-mail is attached. Please know that our thoughts are with you..

  • Morag Masterton


    I knew Fernand after meeting Mary and singing with her in a choir here in Victoria. He was a lovely, gentle man and I loved spending time in his company. I am sad to hear of his passing.

  • Paul & Bev

    Fernand, gone from our sight but not our hearts. It’s the friends we meet along the way (and the sights we enjoy with them) that make the journey worthwhile. Fondest wishes to Mary and your family.

  • Nicole Cordier

    Mon père, qui a passé une bonne partie de sa vie dans le Nord de la France et à Montréal, m’a transmis son amour de la culture et de la langue française. Il appréciait beaucoup les chansons de Georges Brassens et de Barbara, le jazz de Django Reinhardt et de Sydney Bechet, la poésie de Jacques Prévert, les œuvres de plusieurs peintres canadiens, et l’excellente cuisine traditionnelle de sa mère Joséphine, d’autant plus que mon grand-père Épiphane était un bon chasseur de petit gibier.

  • Rita Poirier

    Dear Mary,
    I was so sorry to hear of your loss. My sincere condolences to you and the family. He will be missed by all who knew him.

    Fernand was a remarkably accomplished and yet modest man, with a wide range of interests.
    You were his perfect partner!

  • Evelyn and Gerry Nye

    I joined ICAO in 1958 and over the years worked with Fernand on a number of occasions until his retirement in 1982 and mine in 1990 which found us both in Victoria, BC to enjoy our retirement years. We made many wonderful day trips together exploring our new surroundings. It is with sadness that my wife and I have learned of his passing. In his memory we have donated to the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund – United Nations Crisis Relief – a fitting tribute to Fernand’s many years of service to the United Nations we both served. My family extends their heartfelt sympathy to Mary, a devoted wife and partner and to Fernand’s family.
    With our love and fondest wishes,
    Gerry, Evelyn, Adrienne, Gabrielle, Michael, Maisie and Malachi

  • Pat and Mike W.

    Fernand, we will miss your modesty, intelligence, gentle humour, discernment and impeccable manners. Our heartfelt sympathies to your family and especially your beloved, devoted Mary. What an interesting and accomplished life you led and what a store of memories you have left to all who knew and loved you. Rest in peace.

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