July 1, 1929 to Nov 27, 2019 ~ Passed away peacefully on Wednesday, November 27, 2019 at Extendicare Maple View at the age of 90 as a result of end stage Alzheimer’s.
Husband of Linda (Savory) and the late Jeanne (MacLean). Predeceased by his parents William and Sarah Gordon, and sister Margaret. Will be missed by children Andrew (Shelley) of Haliburton, Robert (Katie) of Oakville, Valerie (Dan), spirit son John Laford, and long-time friends the Bateman family, Gord Burke and Dave Morris; grandchildren Robyn, Sam, Sophie, Ross, and Lillian. Will also be missed by many brothers and sisters-in-law, as well as many nieces, nephews, and Scottish family.
Alan graduated from Forest Hill Collegiate, Toronto, the University of New Brunswick in 1954 (B.Sc. in Forestry) and completed his Ph.D. in Forest Ecology at the University of London, England in 1958. He had a lifelong career with the Ministry of Natural Resources (Ontario Department of Lands and Forests) as a research scientist focusing on forest genetics, soil chemistry and ecosystem productivity. Alan was one of the first people to document the effects of acid rain on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and was the first to ‘discover’ and document red spruce in Ontario in 1950. Alan developed working plantations of spruce species in many areas of Ontario and around the world, which are still generating scientific information today.
From a very young age, Alan’s pursuit and interest in ornithology was infectious; he was a naturalist and an avid canoeist throughout his life and was a passionate advocate for environmental conservation. He was a proficient wood sculptor and photographer.
Dr. Gordon was a planter of trees and was locally known as the ‘tree doctor’. He inspired and mentored Junior Rangers and shared his knowledge of the forest and his powers of observation with many student field crews inspiring them to appreciate the natural world. His passion for forests and forestry lives on in all of the forests he created. The Alan Gordon Acadian Park, in Ottawa, and Gordon’s Grove, in Algonquin Park, are named after him.
Drawn to the spirit and beauty of Canada’s Indigenous art he helped establish a significant gallery (Tundra) in the 1970’s and developed many significant friendships with artists across Canada such as John Laford, Goyce Kakagamic and James Simon. He served on the Board of the Art Gallery of Algoma and Art Procurement Juries for Ontario Government buildings. He always advocated strongly for Indigenous culture and rights.
He loved all genres of music. In the 1960s, he was a primary organizer of the Algoma Folk Festival, bringing the likes of Gordon Lightfoot, Ian and Sylvia, and Alanis Obomsawin to Sault Ste. Marie. He was notorious for telling the widest and longest stories ever.
Alan was a long-term active member of St Giles and Westminster Presbyterian Churches.
The family wishes to express our sincere gratitude to the staff at Maple View as well as to special friend Linda Wigmore.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Nature Conservancy of Canada would be greatly appreciated. To those he loved, you will be visited by a red-shouldered hawk in the next little while.
Cremation has occurred; a celebration of life will be held in the spring. Arrangements entrusted to O’Sullivan Funeral Home and Cremation Centre (215 St. James St., Sault Ste Marie 705-759-8456)