John Samuel Gibson Kirkaldy, BASc’49, MASc’51
“Jack” passed away on April 17, 2013, after a long illness. He is predeceased by his wife, Anne, in 2011, and survived by his children, John, Lorne, Barbara and Jennifer.
Born in Terrace in 1927, Jack was a brilliant student who pursued a distinguished career as a university professor and scientific researcher. He obtained a doctorate in nuclear physics at McGill University in 1953 and served in the Metallurgy Department. In 1957 he became a founding member of the Department of Metallurgy and Material Sciences and Engineering Physics at McMaster University, and held the Steel Company of Canada Chair of Metallurgy from 1966‑69. In 1967, he was president of the Ontario Confederation of Faculty Associations and from 1969‑71 served on the Wright Commission on post‑secondary education in Ontario. During a career spanning more than 40 years, he published over 250 peer‑reviewed academic papers and received numerous awards, including three honorary doctorates. He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Engineering and the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers. He’s been described as the “father of Metallurgy” and “a national treasure.” He continued publishing scientific papers and mentoring post‑doctoral students from all over the world long after he retired from McMaster. He’d often entertain the foreign and Canadian students at his Ancaster home, where Anne was known as a gracious hostess with exceptional culinary skills. Jack was a rugged outdoorsman who worked as a lumberjack during his BC student days. An avid hiker and camper, he helped blaze the Bruce Trail in the early ’60s.
In the last 30 years, he spent his summers at a rustic cottage on Georgian Bay. No stuffy academic, he was well known as a party animal who, in the early days, often regaled his guests with renditions of Fats Waller on his baby grand piano.