Obituary for Gordon Sabiston

Gordon Harvey Sabiston
1929 – 2024

It is with heavy hearts we announce the passing of our father, Gordon Harvey Sabiston on January17, 2024, in his 95th year in Kingston, Ontario.

Gordon was born and raised in Birsay, Orkney Islands, Scotland working the family farm Skedge with his parents and siblings during the height of the Depression.  Following the obligatory military service at the age of 18 – where he spent part of the two-year directive in Hong Kong – Gordon returned to Scotland to pursue a BSc. in geology and chemistry at the University of Aberdeen.  Here, he caught the eye of a young nurse, Alison, and shortly after his graduation they were married at King’s College Chapel on campus.

Having decided to emigrate to Canada, Gordon embarked on a scouting tour hoping to land a job as a geologist in Alberta.  Fate intervened, however, with a chance meeting on the streets of Montreal with a classmate from the University of Aberdeen.  He suggested Gordon investigate a company called Alcan (Aluminum Company of Canada).  Forty years later, Gordon retired from Alcan with working stints in Quebec, French West Africa (Guinea), Jamaica, Ireland, and Ontario.  His career endeavours were significantly diverse and challenging; field work in the jungles of Africa, discoveries in research labs, and organizing the transformation of a greenfield site into a modern efficient laboratory.

Gordon’s hobbies and interests were as varied as his career.  In the early years (Arvida, QC), he tried his hand at curling, broomball, and excelled at rifle/pistol target shooting.  He found his passion, however, in woodworking.  Undaunted by a lack of experience, his first major project was a wooden boat constructed in his garage.  This “chaloupe” saw plenty of action fishing on Lac St Jean.  And over the years, he produced beautiful pieces of furniture, grandchildren’s playhouses, as well as intricate mantel clocks.   The Jamaica years saw Gordon and Alison taking up Scottish Country dancing while the Ireland and Kingston years rekindled his interest in gardening – from neeps and tatties to assorted varieties of apples.

Gordon was kind, caring and empathetic – the embodiment of a true gentleman – with a strong work ethic.  His counsel was sought by colleagues, friends, and especially his family.  When Alison died, it was these characteristics that lead him to Mary.  And while their time together was short, they enjoyed each other’s company tremendously, traveling to Orkney, and spending many evenings Scottish country dancing.

He was predeceased by his parents, Charles and Williamina Phillips; his siblings, John, Helen (Jim), Annie May (John Robert), Jim (Wilma), Ivy (Charlie), Sheila (Charlie), and Jim (brother-in-law); his spouses, Alison Robb and Mary McClennan; and his elder son, Brian.  He will be sadly missed by his sister Alice in Orkney; his children, Judy (Ian), David (Teresa), and Fiona; his grandchildren, Melanie, Alison, Ailish, Graeme, Liam, Kiera, and Sarah; and his great granddaughter, Lyla.

His family would like to thank the staff at the Aspira Waterford Kingston Retirement Residence for the care Gordon received during the many years at the residence, CBI Home Health, and the staff at Kingston General Hospital on Connell 9 and Davies 5 where he lived his last two months.

In keeping with Gordon’s wishes there will be no funeral. A celebration of his life and burial will take place later in Birsay, Orkney. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Parkinson Canada or a charity of your choice.

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