Welcome to my personal website, GordMcKenna.com

Let me share with you my passion for sustainable mining, building landforms, mining geotechnique, and photography.

I’m hoping you’ll  contact me so we can talk about your experience or areas that we might be able to collaborate together.  See also our BGC Engineering website or the University of Alberta website .






Upcoming 2015 events….


Spring 2015. Ottawa, ON, Canada. Target release date of our Council of Canadian Academies expert panel report on The Potential for New and Emerging Technologies to Reduce the Environmental Impacts of Oil Sands Development. We’re in the final editing and production stages.


June 1, 2015. Vancouver, BC, Canada. Target release date of our new book Sustainable Mining Now.




2014 events….


January 2014. Vancouver & Victoria, BC, Canada. Had some quiet time in the mornings and evenings to catch some harbour photos of a couple of my favourite sites — False Creek in Vancouver and Victoria’s Inner Harbour.


February 2014. Palm Springs, CA, USA. We had a wonderful time on a Vancouver Sun mid-century modern tour in Palm Springs.  Photos from the trip are on my Flickr Site.


March 2014. Ladner, BC, Canada. I’ve started lessons for my private pilot’s license through the Pacific Flying Club at our Boundary Bay Airport CZBB. Loving it.


April 7-9, 2014. Whistler, BC, Canada. Seminar on Cold Regions Cover Systems and Mine Closure. I’m helping to organize this seminar and we’ll be presenting a landform and cover design course with OKC, IEG, and UofS. This work follows the new MEND Cold Regions cover manual that I helped author in 2010.


April 21, 2014. Richmond, BC, Canada. I took a one day flash photography portraiture course with 40 other students today. We focussed on using speedlights (camera flashes rather than big studio flashes) to light models and events. There was a day-long classroom style session followed by an evening master session photographing four models and receiving one on one training from the instructors. I learned some new lighting techniques, how to configure my cameras and flashes to all work together wirelessly, and got some good experience shooting. It’s nice to have these extra skills for photographing friends and family events. https://www.flickr.com/photos/gord99/sets/72157644788931363/


May 5-6, 2014. Edmonton, AB, Canada. Our Expert Panel on the Potential for New and Emerging Technologies to Reduce the Environmental Impacts of Oil Sands Development, as part of the Council of Canadian Academies, had its second meeting where we focussed on guiding the research and focussing the report. Our task is to answer the question: “How could new and existing technologies be used to reduce the environmental footprint of oil sands development on air, water, and land?” It is a delight to work with such a diverse, talented, and experienced panel and with the keen, professional, and efficient Council staff. http://www.scienceadvice.ca/en/assessments/in-progress/oil-sands.aspx. Our report is due out on schedule in March 2015.


May 14, 2014. Vancouver, BC, Canada. I was honoured to sit on an expert panel at the CIM 2014 Conference ESRS Session: Tailings — Pushing the Boundaries. We had about 50 people in attendance which gave us a good opportunity to discuss methods of making step changes to mine tailings management from  design, planning, environmental, and sustainable mining perspectives. There is talk of a special issue of the CIM Bulletin to highlight work in this area and findings from our session. http://vancouver2014.cim.org/en/Conference/Technical-Program.aspx


May 14, 2014. Vancouver, BC, Canada. The Syncrude Sandhill Fen received a 2014 TSM Award for Environmental Excellence for “innovative projects that raise the bar for corporate responsibility in the Canadian Mining Sector”. At BGC, we’re pleased to be part of the design for this instrumented watershed/wetland project and to contribute to the ongoing world-class research at the Syncrude Canada Ltd Mildred Lake oil sands mining operation. http://www.mining.ca/towards-sustainable-mining/tsm-awards


June 2014. Calgary, AB, Canada. Presented my 25th short course, Landform design for oil sands for a client in Calgary.
August 2014. Ladner, BC, Canada. I’ve been working on my private pilot’s license this year through Pacific Flying Club at Boundary Bay Airport (CZBB) near my home in Ladner. On August 9th I had my first solo flight (in a Cessna 172). Hope to complete the license early in 2015. It has been a real delight thus far.
September 2014. Prince George, BC, Canada. I was fortunate to attend and present a paper at the BC Mine Reclamation Symposium this year. We had two great mine visits too — Kemess Gold and Pinchi Mercury mine — both sites showing world class reclamation. I’ve added pictures from the tours on my Flickr Reclamation album.


September 2014. Hawaii, US. We took a cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii, then around the islands before flying back home. Thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing, a bit of a chance to work on my Sustainable Mining Now book, and some opportunities for photos.


October 2014. Fort McMurray, AB, Canada. Our two-year odyssey was completed this week with the online publication of the CEMA Guidelines for Wetland Establishment (3rd edition). A huge team effort and part of a wonderful series of oil sands reclamation guides. Nice to have this one done.
November 2014. Belo Horizonte, Brazil. I spent a week down in Brazil working with Pimenta de Avila Consultoria, providing review for a closure plan they are developing for an iron ore mine. My first time in Brazil. Great people, great food, and a chance to work with exceptional engineers, geologists, and scientists working on this project. A few photos from the trip are posted on my Flickr album.
December 2014. Lake Louise, AB , Canada. My colleagues and put on a short course at the International Oil Sands Tailings Conference on December 7 entitled: Hot Topics in Oil Sands Tailings Management. Well attended. Great discussions. And other colleages and I published a conference paper: Holden A, McKenna G, Fan X, and Biggar K. 2014. The potential impact of different types of tailings on water quality and quantity reporting to oil sands end pit lakes: a preliminary modeling exercise. International Oil Sands Tailings Conference (IOSTC 2014). December 7-10. Lake Louise, Canada. University of Alberta Geotechnical Centre, Edmonton.


December 2014. Edmonton , AB , Canada. Our report that introduces a new framework for designing oil sands mine reclamation was published. Eaton, B.R., J.T. Fisher, G.T. McKenna, and J. Pollard. 2014.  An Ecological Framework for Wildlife Habitat Design for Oil Sands Mine Reclamation.  OSRIN Report No. TR-67. Hopefully it will help my colleagues and I upgrade our design skills to make even better wildlife habitat. Hoping this framework will be useful to those intersted in mine reclamation for wildlife habitat elsewhere in the world too.


Earlier events








Sunrise on the Badwater Salt Flats in Death Valley, California (USA). (Photo by Courtenay Gilbert http://courtenaygilbert.com/)