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Kell Antoft was a professor in Dalhousie's School of Public Administration and had a distinguished research career in local government, municipal planning, taxation and non-resident land ownership. Born on 24 July 1923 in Roskilde, Denmark, at age seven Antoft immigrated to Canada with his parents, Otto and Asta (Rump) Antoft, eventually settling in Lakeville, Nova Scotia. He received his early education at the King's County Academy and later at Sir George Williams College, Montreal, and Dalhousie University.
Antoft was a keen hosteller and founded the Nova Scotia branch of the Canadian Hostelling Association in 1938, remaining active in the hostelling movement for many decades as a member of the Trustee Committee. From 1943-1946 he served as a Royal Canadian Air Force navigator and settled in Montreal after the war, where he founded two successful businesses: Viking Air Service and Nordic Biochemicals Ltd. Under his presidency of Nordic Biochemicals (1951-1956), the company conducted foundational growth hormone research.
In 1966 Antoft sold his business interests and moved to Toronto to work as the Assistant Executive Director of the National Cancer Institute of Canada. In 1969 he returned to Nova Scotia to take up an appointment as Assistant Director of the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). He served as Director from 1977-1984, when he took up a full-time professorial appointment at Dalhousie's School of Public Administration. On his retirement in 1989, he was appointed as an adjunct professor at Henson College, which in 2003 amalgamated with several other historically separate institutions to become Dalhousie's College of Continuing Education.
Antoft was a member of the Canadian Cancer Society in Nova Scotia for over twenty years, with a two-year term as president (1980-1982); he was involved in both provincial and national public issues committees and the Nova Scotia and Canada Councils on Smoking and Health. His papers help to document the Cancer Society's move towards an active role in voicing opposition to tobacco advertising campaigns and sponsorship and in supporting anti-smoking campaigns.
An avid lifelong skier, Antoft worked in various capacities with many ski clubs and programs in Canada, including co-founding with Al Raine the Nancy Greene Ski League. He served on boards and committees with various clubs and associations, including the Canadian Ski Association, the Atlantic Ski Zone, the Wentworth Valley Ski Club, the Nova Scotia Ski Areas Association, the Nova Scotia Seniors' Ski Club, Dalhousie Alpine Ski Team and the Dalhousie Penguin Club. He was inducted into the Nova Scotia Sport Heritage Hall of Fame in 2000.
Antoft's work with young people led him to serve on both the national and Atlantic Region boards of Katimavik. He was also actively involved in politics, working on behalf of the New Democratic Party from the mid-1980s and running for Halifax City Council in 1985. He co-founded Veterans Against Nuclear Arms (VANA) and its affiliated organization, the Defence Research and Education Centre. Kell Antoft was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 2001 and a Member of the Council of the Order of Nova Scotia in 2002. He died in 2005, survived by his second wife, Mary Lou Courtney.