Derek Ford

Photo image Derek FordDerek Ford was born in the limestone city of Bath in southwest England in 1935, educated at the local grammar school and Oxford University. He and his wife, Margaret, emigrated to Canada in 1959, where he taught at McMaster University, Hamilton, until taking early retirement from undergraduate teaching in 1996, but continuing graduate and post-doctoral supervision until 2009. Their four children are Hamilton-born and educated, and they have six grandchildren, five of whom are also living in Ontario.

Dr. Ford is a physical geographer and environmental geologist specializing in geomorphology (the study of landforms) and water flowing through rocks and soils (hydrogeology). His principal specialty is ‘karst’, the study of landforms such as sinkholes at the surface and systems of caves underground, that are created by dissolving comparatively soluble rocks like limestone, dolomite and gypsum, plus the associated groundwater flow systems. He has studied or directed graduate study of these features in every province of Canada except PEI (no karst rocks there!), in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, throughout the USA, and in more than 30 other countries around the world. With McMaster colleague, Henry Schwarcz, and their graduate students he was a pioneer of U series dating and paleo-environmental studies of cave stalagmites (‘speleothems”). He has published more than 300 papers and letters in scientific journals, written, edited or contributed to a dozen technical books, many consulting reports, one coffee table book of photographs to celebrate the centennial of Parks Canada, and produced one movie for the National Film Board of Canada. He has 25 academic honours and awards from 14 different countries.

The Fords retired to Orillia (Ontario) to be near their daughter and two grandchildren, and now live on Pumpkin Bay, Lake Couchiching, where he keeps a sailboat at the bottom of the garden. Derek Ford continues to be active in research and lecturing around the world, consulting for Parks Canada, the UNESCO World Heritage programme, other governmental agencies in Canada and abroad, and for the private sector. Two recent matters of particular interest for Dr. Ford are the big expansion of South Nahanni National Park in 2009 that incorporated the most accentuated karstland known in arctic and sub-arctic regions, and in 2011 the creation of a provincial park that protects a beautiful marl lake in Manitoba; he was deeply involved in both.

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