Emeritus faculty

Phil Dearden (Chair, 2009-2013)

Mike Edgell (Chair, 1989-1999)

Mike Edgell first came to the Department in 1965, via a BA and PhD from the University of Birmingham, and a Masters in Conservation from University College, London, UK.  In 1968, he moved to Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, returning to UVic in 1972 to strengthen the Pacific, physical, and biogeography foci of the Department.

Drawing on his experience at Monash, where he had been involved in implementing an interdisciplinary field studies centre, he quickly became involved with the establishment of the Environmental Studies Program (later the School of Environmental Studies).  He also assumed Directorship of the Pacific Studies Program, providing guidance during its transition to the Centre for Pacific and Oriental Studies (later the Department of Pacific and Asian Studies).  During this time, he taught a wide range of introductory, regional, and resource courses, and researched and published widely in resource management, plant ecology, forestry, and avian biogeography.  Very active in the graduate program, he also served on, and consulted with, a number of CRD and local community committees, and developed courses for the (then) Open University of BC.

Assuming the Chair in 1989, Mike established and expanded significant computer laboratories in the Department.  While a number of geologists (including President David Strong) were appointed to the Department during his term, he also guided the transfer of the Department’s geology program to the Centre for Earth and Ocean Research (now Earth and Ocean Sciences).  He also transformed and edited the Occasional Papers of the Western CAG into the Journal “Western Geography.”

After 10 years as Chair, Mike spent his last 7 years at UVic as Director of Academic Advising and Assistant Dean, expanding and improving the services and responsibilities of the Academic Advising Centre for Humanities, Science and Social Sciences.  He retired (reluctantly) in 2006.

Bryan Farrell (Chair, 1963-1969)

Charlie Forward (Chair, 1969-1979)

Charlie Forward was born in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, November 25, 1927. He attended UBC and received his BA'49 and MA'52 in Geography. Upon graduation, he was hired by the Geographical Branch of the Federal Government Department of Mines and Technical Surveys Canada in Ottawa. Charlie received his Ph.D. from Clark University, Worcester, Massachussetts, and joined the Victoria College Geography faculty in 1959.

From its inception, Charlie was integral to the growth and development of the UVic Geography Department which was formally established in 1963. He taught urban studies and development in Canadian regions and researched urban historical and port operations, shores and waterfront land use in Canada, Australia and elsewhere. Charlie served as Department of Geography Chair from 1969 to 1979 and was elected President of the Canadian Association of Geographers in 1978. In 1999, he was honoured to receive the Distinguished Geographers Award from the Canadian Association of Geographers. Charlie's contributions and unfailing service to the discipline of the UVic Geography Department will always be highly regarded.

Harry Foster

Harry Foster of the Department of Geography passed away on August 15, 2009, succumbing to cancer, one of the diseases for which he had done so much to increase understanding. It was an enormous shock to the department, who had so recently and exuberantly roasted Harry on his retirement just a few short months earlier.

Harold Douglas Foster was born in Yorkshire, something that might account for his direct manner and well-known sense of humour. He attended University College, London, where he obtained his PhD in 1968, and was appointed to the Department of Geography at the University of Victoria in that same year.

In 2008, he received his 40-year service commendation from the university. Harry was ostensibly a geomorphologist, but soon expanded his interests into a wide variety of applied topics, often working in concert with W.R. Derrick Sewell.

Harry went on to author early books on solar power, climate change, resilience, water management, disaster planning, and many other areas that are now looked on as much more mainstream than in the years when he wrote them. Over 30 years ago he was writing books on renewable energy and 25 years ago warning of water shortages in Canada, seemingly impossible in those days.

However, Harry will be best remembered for his contributions to medical geography, where he developed many early concepts regarding the spatial distribution of diseases and environmental causality behind certain diseases long before such relationships were recognized.

He wrote books on schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, AIDS, and cancer, to name a few. He was enormously productive, with some 400 articles and over 16 books published. He was also the series editor for the department's well known Western Geographical Series of book publications.

Harry also developed and sponsored programs that implemented some of the measures that he suggested to "make things better," such as AIDS initiatives in Africa. He will be sorely missed.

Charles H. Howatson

Professor Charles H. Howatson was the pioneer of both geography and geology at Victoria College. He joined the faculty in 1949 and was acting head of the Department of Geography from then until 1963.

During his first decade he accepted heavy teaching loads in order to offer, single-handedly, a variety of geography courses, along with one in geology. Beginning in 1960, he was able to expand the department, adding a new faculty member each year until 1963 when Victoria College became the University of Victoria.

In subsequent years, he concentrated on teaching his special fields of physical geography, remote sensing, geology, and the geography of Western Canada. After setting a longevity record as a geography faculty member, Professor Howatson retired in 1983 to pursue his many other interests.

C. Peter Keller

David Chuenyan Lai

David Chuenyan Lai received his BA (First Class Honours) in Geography in 1960, and MA in Geography in 1964 from the University of Hong Kong.  He was awarded a British Commonwealth Scholarship and entered the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London, and received his PhD in Geography in 1967.  He joined the Department of Geography in 1968 after he came to Canada as a landed immigrant. 

He retired in 2003, having taught at UVic for 35 years, and was named Professor Emeritus of Geography. He is a Research Affiliate at the Centre on Aging. After he joined UVic, he concentrated his research on the Urban Development of Chinatowns and History of Chinese Canadians. 

Over half of his 300 publications are related to these two areas.  He has surveyed over 30 Chinatowns across North America and has been an honorary consultant to the Chinatown gateway projects of Victoria, Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Portland.

David started developing the Asia-Pacific program with other faculty members at UVic in 1970.  His film program on the Pacific Rim countries in 1971 was so successful that it was brought to the attention of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at its meeting on 18 February 1972. 

With the support of the Chinese community in Victoria, David set up 9 undergraduate course awards and travel grants, and 4 graduate awards and scholarships to promote the study of China, Overseas Chinese, and Chinatowns.  He received the UVic Faculty of Social Sciences Award for Excellence in Teaching in April 2002, UVic Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching in November 2002, and Asia-Pacific Service Award in April 2003.

David has received 30 awards in recognition of his scholarship and community service.  Notable academic awards are Applied Geography Citation Award by Association of American Geographers; Award of Merit by American Association for State and Local History, and Award of Merit by Education Foundation of Chinese Canadian Professionals (Ontario).  

Significant non-academic awards are Member of the Order of Canada by Government of Canada, Honorary Citizen by City of Victoria, Gabrielle Leger Award by Heritage Canada Foundation, and Heritage Award by British Columbia Government.  On 5 April 2003, the Development Office of UVic honoured David by initiating the Dr. David Chuenyan Lai Scholarship.  The scholarship fund will provide a lasting legacy to support ongoing researchers in the field of aging.

David passed away in the summer of 2018.

Steve Lonergan

Steve Lonergan was a member of the faculty from 1989 until his retirement in 2011. He holds a BSc from Duke University and an MA and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Lonergan began his academic career at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and has held visiting posts at the University of Auckland (New Zealand), the University of Malaysia, and Monash University (Australia).

From 2003 to 2005, he was Director of the Division of Early Warning and Assessment (DEWA) at the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi, Kenya. Dr. Lonergan’s research is on water resources and conflict in the Middle East, environmental change and population movement, and assessing the impacts of climate change, and he is the author of two books and over 60 journal articles and reports.

He continues to work in the environment and development field, and now focuses on mediating disputes over natural resources in countries emerging from conflict.

Larry McCann

Larry McCann taught in UVic's Geography Department from 1992-2012, but his UVic 'roots' include graduating as the Department's first honours student in 1966. His post-graduate studies in urban geography were carried out at the University of Alberta.

Larry taught for many years at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick (1974-1992), where he held the position of Davidson Professor and Director of Canadian Studies (1987-1992).

During his 40-year teaching career, he authored or co-authored some 70 scholarly papers and wrote or edited 10 books on the geography and history of Canada's regions, cities, and suburbs. He was the editor of Heartland and Hinterland: a Geography of Canada, a university text which has sold over 80,000 copies.

Larry McCann received numerous scholarly and community service awards. In 1999, he was the first recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award presented by UVic's Faculty of Social Sciences. In 2001, in a ceremony at Rideau Hall, the Governor-General bestowed him with the Royal Canadian Geographical Society's Massey Medal for his many scholarly and community contributions.

In 2006, his teaching of students the value of heritage conservation and his research on Oak Bay were honoured by the Victoria Hallmark Society and the Heritage Society of British Columbia.

In June of 2020, we lost an amazing and admired colleague in Larry McCann. He was a pioneer in regards to Canadian, urban geography, landscapes and planning . He was also an innovative and creative scholar who emphasized experiential learning for his students through field trips and journal activities long before ‘experiential’ was the buzz word of the day. As an outstanding teacher, great listener, and tremendous mentor and colleague, he will be deeply missed by all who knew him.

Mick Micklewright

Olaf Niemann

Aleck Ostry

Aleck Ostry recently retired from the department in 2018.  He taught Medical and Environmental Health Geography.

Aleck holds a Canada Research Chair in the Social Determinants of Community Health. Over the past decade he hasbeen both a Scholar and Senior Scholar with the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research in British Columbia.

Dr. Ostry holds an MSc in Health Service Planning, an MA in history (specializing in the history of public health), and a PhD in epidemiology.

Dr. Ostry conducted an extensive program on the social determinants of health with a focus on food security, rural health, and a more recent focus on the impacts of mining/energy sector development on the health of remote and rural Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. In terms of the latter he continues to be particularly inernested  in improving community health impact assessment and monitoring methods. His research has, over the years, been based on better understanding how social and economic conditions impact the health of populations. His research career began with a focus on the health of workers, later shifting to food security and food and agricultural policy in relation to health. His research also expanded to include rural health mainly in British Columbia. His current interests lie in the impacts of mining and energy sector projects on the health of rural, and especially First Nations communities in British Columbia.

Doug Porteous

William M. Ross

William M. Ross joined the Geography department in 1974. He died in 1989 when he was only 43 years old. Bill was dedicated to his discipline and his students, and the department lost a true friend and respected colleague when he died.

Students, perhaps, suffered the greatest loss. As teacher, advisor, co-op education coordinator, and member of various academic and curriculum committees, Bill was completely and energetically committed to their academic and personal well-being.

That commitment is reflected in the Ross Geography Scholarship Fund that he bequeathed in his will for the benefit of Geography undergraduate majors and honours students.

W.R. Derrick Sewell (Chair, 1979-1984)

W.R. Derrick Sewell served as a member of faculty of the Geography department from 1966 until his untimely death in December 1987. He was Departmental Chair from July 1979 to June 1984.

Derrick was one of Canada's best known and most widely travelled geographers; the author or editor of some 180 books and articles. Much of his research dealt with environmental management, especially water resources. In addition, he made major theoretical contributions to benefit/cost analysis, public participation and perception studies, and to energy policy design.

Derrick appeared 160 times on national and international environment committees. In 1985, for example, he was the dynamic Vice-Chairman of the BC Wilderness Advisory Committee, set up to help resolve a multiplicity of environmental conflicts.

Gil Sherwin

Gil Sherwin came to the Geography department in 1969, and within a year she became Senior Laboratory Instructor. She held that position until 1991, when her failing health at last forced her retirement. In large part, the department's present lab program is a legacy to Gil's energy, organizational skills, personality, and professionalism.

A true friend to TAs and undergraduates, Gil was an important role model at a time when there were few women in the University's departments. She fought a long and inspirational battle against cancer — a battle that she lost in 1992.

Two weeks before Gil's death, the department decided to establish an annual Gil Sherwin Teaching Workshop in honour of her life and work. The Gil Sherwin Excellence in Teaching award, recognizing TA teaching endeavour, grew from that workshop.

Dan Smith (Chair, 2000-2008, 2013-2015)

Martin Taylor

Martin Taylor has a BA in Geography from the University of Bristol (UK), and an MA and PhD from the University of British Columbia.  He was appointed at McMaster in 1974, where he served as Chair of Geography (1991-1997), founding Director of the Institute of Environment and Health (1991-96), and Acting Vice-President of Research (1994-95). 

He moved to UVic in July 1998 to be the University's first Vice-President of Research as well as being appointed as a full professor in the Geography department.  He was seconded from his UVic position until 2012 to serve as President and CEO of The University of Victoria's Ocean Networks Canada Observatory, the agency responsible for administering the NEPTUNE Canada ocean network and VENUS coastal network. 

His research and teaching interests focus on environmental health and health promotion issues. He has co-authored two books and more than 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals.

Stanton Tuller

Stanton Tuller obained his BA degree from the University of Oregon and his MA and PhD degrees from UCLA. He taught undergraduate courses in the department every year from 1969 until his retirement in 2010 with the exception of a one-year visiting appointment at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand in the mid-1970s.

Although specializing in climatology and physical geography, Stan is interested in all aspects of geography. This is shown by the regional geography of Japan course he taught for 32 years during the winter session in addition to a number of times in summer session. This course included sections on the culture and economy as well as the physical environment of Japan.

His research has focused on ground-surface-based applied climatology, the study of how people change local climate by altering the ground surface and how climate affects people. Examples include urban climate, human body-atmosphere energy exchange, and wind climate.

Rudy Wikkramatileke

Colin J. B. Wood (Chair, 1985-1989)

Colin J. B. Wood graduated in Geography and Anthropology from the University of Wales in 1963, obtained his MA (1966) and PhD from McMaster University (1970). He joined the Department in 1969 and retired in 2001.

He taught in the area of human geography with a particular focus on economic and cultural geography - specifically innovation diffusion, resources management and decision making. He was also very active in the Graduate program.

He authored many articles published in a range of international scholarly journals, proceedings, chapters in books, and several monographs. The topics ranged from Land Ownership in 19th Century Wales, Forest Management and the Miang (Tea) industry in Northern Thailand, to Simulation Gaming as applied to Disaster Management.

He served as Chairman 1985-1989, helped establish the GIS and Remote Sensing specialities in the Department, and promoted the expansion of the Co-op Program. He was a member of the Department’s CIDA funded team that worked in North Thailand in 1988-1992.

He is currently working on the analysis of crime data.