John Donald Scott


It is with sadness and gratitude that the family of John Donald Scott announces his passing on July 1, 2023, age 95 years, after a long life of engineering and adventure.

Don is survived by his two children, Ivy and Mark, his two grandchildren, Jacob and Jenna, and his wife of 22 years, Mary-Lou Hogg. He was predeceased by his parents, Oswald Arthur and Adeline Emily (nee Williamson) Scott, as well as his sister Mary Patricia Down and brother Terrance Lee Scott.

Don was born February 11, 1928 in Transcona, Manitoba, now part of Winnipeg. He spent his childhood playing outdoors with his friends and managing his paper routes.

After graduation from highschool, Don worked for a seismic/survey company, starting as a chainman, with projects mainly in southern Alberta. He realized that he was interested in the engineering part of this business and set his sights on obtaining a civil engineering degree. He graduated from Civil Engineering at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario in 1954, and worked for a number of years with an engineering firm before returning to study for his Masters and PhD at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the field of geotechnical engineering. He then embarked on an academic career as a professor of civil engineering at the University of Ottawa, University of Kitchener Waterloo and finally at the University of Alberta, where his focus of research became tailings in the oilsands industry. Forced to retire from U of A at age 65 years in 1993, Don was happy to forgo the teaching commitments of being an active professor and became committed to mentoring masters and PhD students in the field of geotechnical engineering, and maintaining his interest in research projects related to tailings as a professor emeritus. He very much enjoyed these years, keeping current with the field of geotechnical engineering, “keeping his fingers on the pulse”, as he called it, and he remained active in this capacity well into his 80s.

Don had a keen interest in the sport of orienteering, a navigational sport using a map and compass to navigate from point to point, a type of treasure hunt, you could say. Don enjoyed the challenges of this sport, both mental and physical, and his fierce competitive spirit in the sport helped him win many medals at the local, provincial and national levels in his age categories. Don enjoyed orienteering locally, across Canada and internationally, the challenge mainly being the varied terrain one would encounter in these different regions. He and Mary-Lou enjoyed many adventures together traveling to many destinations worldwide and always with an orienteering component included.

Don was an active man to about age 88, when medical conditions began to affect his physical strength and endurance. The isolating restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic from 2020 to 2022 probably added to some mental decline and Don moved into care late February 2023, shortly after celebrating his 95th birthday at home with family.

A Celebration of Life to remember Don will be held at the University Club of the UofA (formerly the Faculty Club) on Friday, October 13 from 2-4pm. The location is 11435 Saskatchewan Drive, Edmonton, Alberta.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to your charity of choice.

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Rob and Brigitte Rondeau

Again, Brigitte and I send our deepest condolences to you and your family. We are away this weekend, and will not be able to attend your Celebration of Don’s life. We will be there in spirit, and will share a thought of our neighbour who enjoyed a life well lived.