Dr. Gordon Hartman was a highly respected figure in fisheries and natural resource management for his skill as a researcher, his integrity and vision, and his lifelong commitment to the protection of the environment.
Born in Fraser Lake, BC, on September 20, 1927, he was the fifth in a large family growing up on a hardscrabble, depression-era farm. Despite its challenges, this childhood instilled a deep connection to nature that would ultimately form the foundation of his professional life and an abiding personal philosophy centered on environmental conservation. From his beginnings as a reluctant student in a one-room schoolhouse, he ultimately journeyed to the University of British Columbia to pursue a career in fisheries. He received his PhD in biology in 1964, and embarked on a rich and diverse career in research, university teaching and fish and wildlife management that took him, and his family, across Canada and throughout the world.
After publishing his seminal graduate dissertation on salmonid behaviour and ecology, he worked with the Fish and Wildlife Branch conducting research and assisting graduate students at UBC. He then accepted a position at the University of Guelph teaching fisheries biology from 1968-72, before returning to his native BC. From 1972-77 he served as Regional Supervisor of the Fish and Wildlife Branch in the West Kootenays. During this time he took a leave of absence to spend an incomparable year with his family living in Malawi, on what would prove to be the first of several trips to work on fisheries in Africa. From 1977-80 he served as Director of Wildlife for the Yukon Territorial Government, before returning to the rewards of research as Coordinator of the landmark Carnation Creek Fish-Forestry Study.
Although Gordon officially retired from his position as a government scientist in 1986, he continued to work on many projects, including teaching and supervising graduate students at the University of Addis Ababa in 1987-88, serving as a member of the Scientific Panel for Sustainable Forest Practices in Clayoquot Sound from 1993-1995, and returning to Malawi in 1997-98 for the Lake Malawi Biodiversity Conservation Project. In 2004 he contributed to and co-edited the book “Fishes and Forestry - Worldwide Watershed Interactions and Management,” that presented fish-forestry perspectives from scientists from the world over.
Perhaps most importantly, throughout his career and his retirement Gordon felt a strong responsibility to speak publicly about the threats to fish habitat, and natural ecosystems in general, posed by major resource extraction projects such as the Kemano Completion Project, Enbridge pipeline, Old Man River Dam and others. His expertise and principled approach, combined with the scope of his vision, produced scientific assessment and commentary that was an enormous contribution to society.