• Left to right: Alberta Lt.-Gov. Donald Ethell, Derald Smith (with his Massey Medal), Nancy Smith and Linda Ethell

    Left to right: Alberta Lt.-Gov. Donald Ethell, Derald Smith (with his Massey Medal), Nancy Smith and Linda Ethell. (Photo: Lynn Moorman)

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society remembers the late Derald Smith, an outstanding geographer and the 2014 Massey Medal winner, for his exploration and explanation of Canadian landscapes. The Society was saddened to learn that Smith died on June 18 at age 75, after a brief battle with cancer.

Smith was internationally recognized for his work in identifying and mapping the effects of glaciation in western and northern Canada, and discovered the processes and deposits of river systems that create oil and gas reservoirs. He was also a pioneer in the application of ground-penetrating radar, and his research has helped Alberta’s oil and gas exploration and development. Smith’s work also helped the oil and gas industry to reduce the environmental footprint of deep-oil extraction sites.

Perhaps his biggest impact, though, was as a teacher. At the University of Calgary, Smith taught his geography students to see the “the big picture” in a way that helped them apply geography to their everyday lives.