Ian E. Efford, retired professor in the Department of Zoology at UBC, died peacefully on June 7th, 2020. Ian joined Zoology and the Institute of Animal Resource Ecology from the late 1960’s through the 1970’s. He was a wonderful character who approached ecological research with boundless enthusiasm. He initiated and ran one of the first whole-ecosystem research studies during the International Biological Program, on Marion Lake in the UBC Research Forest. At its peak, this project had as many as 25 graduate students, technicians, and post-doctoral fellows. It was a truly giant undertaking for those early days of cooperative ecosystem research. A few of Canada’s leading aquatic ecologists, now mostly retired, got their start as students “doing” (in Ian’s words) one species or another in Marion Lake, which meant anything from careful population census work to basic physiology and energetics.
Ian also served as an ecological consultant on the Skagit Valley project designed to raise the height of the Ross Dam on the Skagit River. The proposal would have resulted in the flooding of some 5,000 acres of the Skagit Valley in British Columbia to provide more hydroelectric capacity for the City of Seattle. Together other numerous interest groups, Ian opposed the development.
Besides his academic work, Ian was a devoted gardener, passionate about rhododendron and iris species propagation. He wrote The Rhodo Book (2013), The Public Rhododendron Gardens of Vancouver Island (2015), and History of Vancouver Island’s Public Gardens. In Verna Buhler’s own words - current editor of the Cowichan Valley Rhododendron Society: “This is an extremely sad period of time for those of us in the Cowichan Valley who were blessed with enjoying Ian’s presence in our lives. Positive impacts of Ian’s life abide in any community where he spent time.”
Ian will be fondly missed by his former colleagues and students at UBC, associates in the Federal Government, by the gardeners on Vancouver Island, including the Cowichan Valley Rhododendrom Society, all for whom he was a mentor and friend.
Our condolences to his family and friends.
Top Photo: Ian E. Efford, circa 1960’s-1970’s. Source: UBC Archives Photograph Collection
Bottom Photo: Ian Efford with the first copy of his book at the 2015 Cowichan Valley Garden Fair (May 2) at the Cowichan Exhibition. Source: Rhodoholic Cowichan Valley Rhododendron Society, vol 26:5 June 2015.