Humanitarian, "fossil man" Ferguson honoured

Jamie Heap
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Dr. Laing Ferguson, Mount Allison University Geology Professor Emeritus, sits near an exhibit at the Joggins Fossil Centre after being honoured at a recent dinner there. Jamie Heap - The Citizen

JOGGINS - Over 110 people were in attendance on Wednesday evening, Oct. 20 at the Joggins Fossil Centre to pay tribute to renowned geologist, humanitarian and community volunteer Dr. Laing Ferguson, Mount Allison University Geology Professor Emeritus.

Master of Ceremonies Dr. John Read kept the mood light while other guest speakers reminisced about the many significant contributions that the highly decorated Ferguson has made over the years to the Joggins Fossil Cliffs/geology; Sackville/Mount Allison and, for that matter, Canada and the world through his involvement with Amnesty International.

"Up until three years ago, the Joggins Fossil Cliffs were provided with only limited protection under provincial law," said Joggins Fossil Institute director Jenna Boon, who said she learned from Ferguson to "be critical, yet open to alternative scientific theories." What helped to change that was the utilization of a quote lifted from a two-decade old scientific article written by the Atlantic Geoscience Society's ‘Distinguished Service Award' recipient Laing Ferguson himself. "The Joggins Fossil Cliffs," states Dr. Ferguson, "are worthwhile standing by and need protection."

Dr. Robert Campbell, current Mount Allison president and vice-chancellor, stated that it was "a pleasure to be here tonight on behalf of Mount Allison in this fantastic facility and to celebrate the continued relationship between Mount Allison, Joggins and Laing Ferguson," a relationship that was forged in 1966 when the Scottish born "Fossil Man" discovered the two metre-long (arthropod) tracks on the beach of Joggins.

Dr. Ken Adams discussed Dr. Ferguson's community involvement, especially his participation in Amnesty International; Ferguson's inner passion for human rights issues was "awakened in 1968 when the Soviet Russian Army invaded Czechoslovakia." Ferguson went on to found the Sackville chapter of Amnesty International and was awarded the Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship "in appreciation of the tangible and significant assistance given to furthering and betterment of the peoples of the world" through Amnesty International (AI).

Ferguson's son Neil, the evening's final guest speaker, shared several fond childhood memories that he and his brothers, Kirk and Andrew, had growing up as children of Laing and Joyce Ferguson.

The honoured guest himself, who taught from 1962-1998 at Mount Allison, said he found the evening particularly "well-organized."

Organizations: Amnesty International, Joggins Fossil Centre, Mount Allison University Joggins Fossil Institute Atlantic Geoscience Society Distinguished Service Soviet Russian Army

Geographic location: JOGGINS, Canada, Czechoslovakia

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