Alexander Cameron

Alexander (Sandy) Craig Cameron

September 9, 1925 – May 10, 2006

It is with very great sadness that we announce the unexpected death of Alexander (Sandy) Craig Cameron.

Sandy passed away in mid-stride while walking in Kalamalka Park – near his favourite bench overlooking Cosens Bay – in glorious sunshine, full of plans and projects for the future.

Although of Scottish extraction Sandy was born in Tientsin, North China, and went to school at the China Inland Mission at Chefoo (now called Yentai) on the Shantung Peninsula. In 1937, while enroute to boarding school, the ship Sandy and his two older siblings were aboard was overtaken by Tung Chow pirates. Sandy and said siblings were instrumental in instigating their own rescue by signalling SOS to the shore.

His mother had been one of the first women to graduate from the University of Saint Andrew’s, Scotland, with a Master’s degree in Classics in 1912. She became a missionary in China where she met and married John Watt Cameron, also from Scotland, who was working as a Marine Engineer for the Asiatic Petroleum Company. They had five children, of whom now only Susan Dorothea in Ontario survives.

The family returned to Scotland in 1939, en route traveling through Canada by train. Sandy graduated from Edinburgh University with a First Class Honours in Mechanical Engineering in 1945. He joined the British Army in 1945 and served as a Captain in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers seeing service in Palestine, Egypt and Greece, until his discharge in 1948.

In 1950 Sandy joined Shell in Holland (then called BPM), where he met and married Louise (nee van Poelgeest). Soon afterwards they left for Pladju, Sumatra, where Sandy worked at the Pladju Oil Refinery for three years. Their first daughter, Emily Constance, was born there.

On their return to the U.K. in 1953 Sandy was a Plant Engineer at the Imperial Chemicals Plant (ICI), at the Billingham in England, on the river Tees. Their second daughter, Heather Mary, was born in Stockton-on-Tees.

Shortly thereafter Sandy took up a position with BAPCO (Bahrain Petroleum Co.) in the Persian Gulf. At the time the refinery was one of the biggest in the world, with a large Fluid Catalytic Cracker, and Sandy was involved in the design of pressure vessels, heat exchangers and piping. A third daughter, Susan Dorothea, was born and the children grew up in Awali until 1966. The school system incorporated only the primary grades and this was a factor in the family’s decision to return to Surrey, England in 1966.

But Sandy loved the sea and outdoor activities offered by life in Bahrain and would recall this period as an idyllic one, sailing in his GP14 (he built his own boat, The Jolly Roger, with his great friend, Roger Hambridge), and waterskiing (he built that boat too – The Buccaneer). He won many sailing races, often with Louise as his crew, and had a term as Commandeer of the Sailing Club. He was a champion slalom water-skier, and awarded a Rolex as first prize from the reigning Sheikh. He also played squash and tennis avidly, and was a ballroom dancer, analyzing the requirements of each sport in his own inimitable way.

From 1966 until 1969 Sandy worked at the Caltex office in London, England doing design work for other Caltex refineries around the world. Then in 1969 he moved to Fort McMurray, Alberta, joining Great Canadian Oil Sands (now called Suncor). The family followed in 1970 and had their first experience of a severe Canadian winter (-40!). Sandy took the family to Banff that winter and typically was the only beginner to master parallel turns in the first set of lessons. (He practiced by jumping over telephone books in the basement.)

In 1972 Sandy joined Syncrude and was based in Edmonton, travelling frequently to the San Francisco and Houston offices of the design contractor, Bechtel and initiated major improvements in the layout of the refinery. At the Syncrude start-up Sandy and Louise moved back to Fort McMurray. Sandy retired to Sherwood Park in 1989, but his granddaughter Gwen, a chemical engineer with Syncrude ,still comes upon his signature.

In 1993 Sandy and Louise moved to Coldstream where they were active and much loved grandparents to Joshua, Alysha and Gareth Armanious.

Louise predeceased Sandy in May 2005, which was a debilitating blow. But in the last few months of his life Sandy deliberately set about taking part in new activities, enrolling in windsurfing lessons and taking up snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Scrabble remained a passion; he was a regular at the swimming pool and also played tennis when the weather permitted; but his defining traits were an amazing capacity for analysis and knowledge as he absorbed new technologies and approaches with great insight – he was e-mailing recommendations to various software companies within a few months of discovering the capabilities of the Internet. His family finds comfort in knowing he was striding forward to embrace life when it was so abruptly snatched from him.

He is survived by his three daughters and their children; Emily Constance and grandchildren Jennifer, Brendan and Graham; Heather Mary and grandchildren Joshua, Alysha and Gareth; Susan Dorothea and grandchildren Gwen (and great granddaughter Amelia), Rachel, Dianne and Russell.

The funeral will be held on Friday, May 19th at 1 p.m. at All Saints Anglican Church, Vernon.