Ross Mackay’s
90th Birthday Celebration

February 17, 2006

The University of British Columbia
Vancouver, Canada

About the Event

by Dr. Graeme Wynn

On February 17th, friends of Ross Mackay gathered in the Department of Geography for a day-long celebration of a remarkable man and a remarkable career.

Born in 1915, in Taiwan, the son and grandson of Canadian missionary parents, Ross Mackay has published over 200 scholarly works, the most recent of which appeared within the last few months. For fifty years between 1954 and 2004, Ross carried out field work in the Mackenzie Delta area, and on the basis of this ingenious work and other equally clever experiments conducted in freezing chambers in Vancouver, he became the world authority on permafrost and ground ice.

Since joining the Department at UBC in 1949, Ross has been an inspiration to many. Elected a member of the Order of Canada in 1981 he has also received the Massey, Miller, Logan and Vega medals and five honorary degrees. Over sixty friends, associates and admirers of Ross participated in a stimulating academic conference.

Colleagues spoke on such topics as "The Spatial Tradition in Permafrost Science"; "Experiments with Snow at Illisarvik and Garry Island " (Ross's long-term field sites); "Pingo-like features on the Beaufort Shelf..."; and "The Geomorphological Principles of J Ross Mackay" -- all of which reflected the intellectual impacts of Mackay's work. Participants then further honoured Ross at a reception in the Geography building and a dinner at Sage Bistro.

Organized and sponsored by the Department of Geography at UBC (with special thanks to Sandy Lapsky), and by Chris Burn the NSERC Northern Research Chair in Permafrost in Yukon and Northwest Territories from Carleton University, with the support of NSERC and the Canadian National Committee for the International Permafrost Association, the event attracted participants from England and Finland, Alaska and several other American states, BC the Prairie provinces, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

For additional information concerning the event, please contact

Pre-Conference Seminar

"Why palsas do not melt though the air temperature rises"
Matti Seppala, Professor in Physical Geography, University of Helsinki