Don Allyn Gill (1934-1979)


  • G.P. Kershaw



Biographies, Boreal Institute for Northern Studies, Coyotes, Education, Geography, Plant distribution, Plant-soil relationships, Plant-water relationships, Research, River deltas, Taiga ecology, Teachers, University of Alberta, Mackenzie Delta, N.W.T., Mackenzie River, Mackenzie River region


Professor Don Gill, Department of Geography, University of Alberta, Canada was born 10 August 1934 in Kitchy, a small Swedish settlement near Kenton in northern Michigan. ... On Saturday 28 July 1979 while enroute to the Northwest Territories, the auto which Don was driving collided with another vehicle just outside Peace River, Alberta. Don was dead before an ambulance could arrive at the scene while the other 11 involved in the accident sustained minor injuries. Don was the eldest of 11 children and spent his early years in close contact with the outdoors. During 1950-52 he worked as a hunting and fishing guide in northern Michigan, and in 1952-53 served as a Marine Ranger with the United States Marine Corps in the Korean conflict. It was in the service that he completed his high school education; later, while working with the Marquette City Police, he completed his undergraduate training at Northern Michigan University. He moved in 1961 to California, taught secondary school for two years and then started graduate studies at the University of California at Los Angeles. His M.Sc. thesis, "Coyote and urban man - an analysis of the relationship between coyote and man in Los Angeles", was completed in 1965 and he then started a Ph.D. programme at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. At U.B.C. Don worked with J. Ross Mackay and Vladimir Krajina, completing his programme in 1971 with a thesis entitled "Vegetation and environment in the Mackenzie River Delta, Northwest Territories - a study in subarctic ecology." From 1966 on Don was active in the north conducting field studies, teaching courses, consulting for private and governmental sources, and leading or participating in professional field trips. ... In 1968 he was appointed to the Department of Geography at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Between 1973 and 1976 Don was director of the Boreal Institute for Northern Studies at the University of Alberta, an institute which is one of the few independent bodies supporting faculty and graduate student research in the north. ... It is a great loss to the science of northern ecology that he was deprived of his life while at the peak of his academic career and with a creative and productive future ahead of him. Don Gill was "one bad-ass dude", to borrow a phrase he often used, whom many will miss.