About Gord McKenna… a bit of background…

Gord McKenna at the Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton (his favourite home away from home).

Gord at the Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton (his favourite home away from home).

Gord’s Resume / CV


Geotechnical engineer – McKenna Geotechnical Inc

I’m a geotechnical engineer and a geologist with a BASc in Geological Engineering from the University of British Columbia (1987) and a PhD in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of Alberta (2002). I spent the first 17 years of my career at the Syncrude Canada oil sands mine in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, then 3 years consulting with Norwest Corporation,  10 years with BGC Engineering, here in Vancouver, and then with McKenna Geotechnical Inc since November 2017. Almost all of my consulting work is for the mining industry – oil sands, coal, and metal mines, with some hydro and other heavy civil work.


My current and previous geotechnical clients include…

Alberta Environment, Alberta Innovates (AITF), Barrick Gold, BC Hydro, BHP Billiton Potash, Canadian Dam Association, Canaus Coal, Cardinal River Coal, Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNRL), Cumulative Effects Management Association (CEMA), Faro Mine / Yukon Government / INAC, Imperial Oil, Molycorp, NovaGold, Oil Sands Tailings Consortium (OSTC), Oil Sands Research Information Network (OSRIN), PetroCanada, Shell Canada, Suncor Energy Inc, Synenco, Syncrude Canada, Teck Coal, Total E&P Canada, Western Canadian Coal


As an undergraduate engineering student…

For three summers in the 1980s, I was fortunate to work with the Geological Survey of Canada doing drift exploration research in Ottawa and Labrador, and marine geology off the BC coast. My undergraduate thesis was on submarine landslides at the mouth of the Fraser River, almost walking distance from where I now live.

Graduate studies…

My PhD thesis was on landscape engineering for sustainable mine reclamation — which has become about half of my work, doing closure planning and especially building new landforms. I’ve renamed this work landform design to be more including of the non-engineering specialists who make up the majority of the design teams.

Spreading the word…

I love to teach. Foremost I mentor about a dozen outstanding young people at BGC — the highlight of my career. I work in multidisciplinary groups building new landforms, teaching what I know, but more learning from others and the team. For five years, I was an adjunct professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan where I continue to help out, but less formally. Recently I was appointed an adjunct professor at the Department of Renewable Resources at the University of Alberta where I help with the Land Reclamation International Graduate School. I also give several lectures every year and put on one or two short courses. Most recently I’ve added new work into Sustainable Mining Now with Dr Rob Abbott of Victoria. I hope to write a few more books, but first we need to finish SMN.

Students work in groups of 3 or 4 to do an actual landform design for an actual mining landform during their one day course.

Students work in groups of 3 or 4 to do an actual landform design for an actual mining landform during their one day course.


A camera in my hand for 40 years…

I’ve been an avid photographer since the mid 1970s. I used to run Gordon T McKenna Photography in Fort McMurray with posters, post cards, some commercial work, but mostly hockey cards and weddings. Demands of work, school, and a young family meant that I needed to reduce my efforts for  a bit, but am back focused on raising the bar this past few years. I’m lucky, so lucky, to have such a supportive family.

And a pilot for two…

I’ve always dreamed of being a pilot, ever since my first flight in a DC3 when I was 6 years old, to a night familiarization flight in Calgary in as a teen in Scouts in 1979, and my especially the helicopter work I did as a student geologist in Labrador in the 1980s. And then Barry took me across Canada in a 182 a few years back and I was sold. My lovely wife gave me lessons at the Pacific Flying Club at Boundary Bay Airport (CZBB) near our house when I turned 50. I gained my Private Pilot’s License in 2015 flying the club’s Cessna 172s from great instructors. Got my night rating this year, next year is cross-country flying in the mountains.

And otherwise…

In the remaining time I like to read, travel, and play piano and bass guitar . I’ve been blessed all my life to have good teachers and mentors, through sports, school, university, and in my working career. And this is partly my motivation in giving back with my teaching and writing and this website.

I’m always looking out for new and interesting people to collaborate with or a group to talk to. Please let me know if there are items on the website that catch your eye.

Gord McKenna
Ladner, BC, Canada

Phone: 1-604-838-6773


Gord McKenna at Pacific Flying Club in Vancouver, August 2014.

Gord at Pacific Flying Club in Vancouver, August 2014.


Gord plays the piano, organ, and bass guitar

Gord loves music