International Dredging Review

International Dredging Review

The Western Dredging Association (WEDA) announced that Gary McFarlane, P.E. died on May 1. Throughout the years, McFarlane contributed both personally and professionally to WEDA and the entire dredging community as an innovative marine engineer working on several key dredging projects. Below is a message from his son Shaun:


“Gary McFarlane, passed away unexpectedly on May 1, 2018 at the age of 78 in the home he built on Three Mile Lake in Katrine, Ontario, in the care of his loving wife Joyce of 55 years. The past few years were challenging, as he struggled with declining health and the loss of strength and energy to carry on. He worked hard all his life, on the job and at home, and his body quite simply wore out. He was fiercely proud of the profession and his calling as a Professional Engineer and the Mar-Land Engineering “single shingle” hung (figuratively) outside his home right up until he left us this week. He started the company in 1973 at age 33 and continued consulting right up into 2018.

“Gary was one of the finest engineers I ever met. I looked through one of his early design files some years ago: some very complex principles of structural design wrestled to the ground long before the advent of battery powered calculators; articulated into durable and innovative designs. I heard stories of running logarithms on the abacus, manual adding machines, and remember vividly visiting the office as a child with the blinking rotary phones, horrible coffee, cigarettes burning on every desk, and everyone dressed in jackets with patches on the sleeves, wide ties and lapels. From an early age, I aspired to “be like Dad” and work alongside him as a Consulting Marine Engineer. (An aspiring nerd!)

“Dad gave me my first job at age 13, doing summer work on the dumb end of a survey tape at $5/hour (possibly breaking one or more child labor laws in the process). By 16, I was working summers destroying Leroy pens on his drafting boards, and all but two of my co-operative work sessions were spent doing “real engineering work” at Mar-Land, while others in my cohort photocopied and stapled their way between school semesters. When I graduated, Dad “ringed” me as I made my own obligation to our profession. He and the company supported me through my Master’s degree in Ocean Engineering, and I returned to work the first 7 years of my career designing and managing projects. (Hardly anyone’s dream job; it was “reverse-nepotism” at its best.) I learned a lot: I was pushed beyond my years and training, and I learned on-the-fly and from his example what hard work and professionalism looked like in daily practice.

“I had the honor of eulogizing Dad, along with my younger sister, yesterday afternoon, May 3. At Dad’s request he was cremated and his memorial service carried out without delay; austere and frugal. (On schedule, on budget, no bells and whistles; surprising no one.) We are planning a small family ceremony to sprinkle his ashes this Fall at Gettysburg National Monument, his favorite place. His church in Burks Falls was packed yesterday with family and a loving congregation of friends he made by serving faithfully for years as an Elder and Treasurer. At his funeral, I read the “Sons of Martha” by Rudyard Kipling and spoke of Dad and his reputation for hard work and dedication to his profession. As colleagues and clients, you already had a strong sense of the commitment, challenge and enjoyment he demonstrated in his career, without my having to offer a word. As a fellow Engineer, now 28 years into my own career as a Marine Consultant, I can appreciate his perspective at a deeper level; as I feel it and carry it with me daily, to his credit. I am now proudly wearing Dad’s Iron Ring and will until the end of my career.

His obituary will run in the Toronto Star on Saturday, May 12. If desired, memorial donations may be made to Burks Falls United Church, 135 Yonge Street, Burks Falls, ON P0A 1C0.”


~ Shaun McFarlane