MacEachern‑Ponsford Memorial Award

This award commemorates Ian Joseph MacEachern (1960-1984; B.Sc. Honours, 1983) and Mark Anthony Peter Ponsford (1961-1984; B.Sc. Honours, 1984) - two enthusiastic young geologists who had recently graduated from Dalhousie University with the degree of Bachelor of Science (Honours). On December 12, 1984, they were killed when the trench in which they were working collapsed. Gary Frotten was extremely fortunate to escape with minor injuries. All these fellows recently graduated from the department, and Ian had just commenced his Masters studies.

Shock and grief was felt by everyone who knew Mark and Ian. Mark and Ian were fun-loving, congenial individuals with a special interest in mineral exploration. Their families, friends, and colleagues have established a memorial award to commemorate their achievements and to encourage similar dedication to geologic field studies. It will also serve as a reminder of the need for safety precautions while in the field. It was proposed that a week at the beginning of each school year be designated "Safety Awareness Week" in order to stress safety consciousness to future graduates.

This award is to be made on the recommendation of the Chair of the Earth Sciences Department after consultation with the Dawson Geology Club and the staff of the department, to a student who has excelled in field school and has completed the second year of a program majoring in Geology, whose academic performance is of honours calibre, and who has been an active participant in student activities.

N.S. cave-in kills two

New Glasgow Bureau

HARDWOOD HILLS - Two men were killed Wednesday in a cave-in of a trench alongside a road in this west Pictou County Community.

A third man, Gary Michael Frotten, 24, of Halifax. a member of a federal-provincial geological team, was buried to his neck when part of the trench collapsed. He sustained a sprained left leg, and was rescued by members of the Scotsburn fire department.

One of the two men killed is Ian Joseph MacEachern, 24 of Halifax and formerly of Port Hawkesbury, the team leader and an employee of the federal mines and energy department.

The identity of the other victim, an employee of the provincial mines department was withheld last night pending notification of the next of kin.

The three, who were conducting mineral inventory work, were working in a trench at least 12-feet deep on the highway right-of-way near the intersection of the Hardwood Hill and Condon Roads.

Around noon a large chunk of the bank of the ditch collapsed burying the victims and burying the survivor up to his neck.

The backhoe operator who was working with them went for help and within minutes members of the Scotsburn fire department arrived on the scene. The two buried men were dead when the rescuers reached them.

Because of the danger of a second cave-in, the rescuers were hampered in their work, and it took more than two hours to extract the survivor from the trench.

The clay soil in the area gave way at times during the rescue, and made shoring of part of the trench necessary.

The bodies were recovered about five hours after the cave-in.

Mr. Frotten, an employee or the provincial mines department, was taken to the Sutherland Memorial Hospital in Pictou where he was in satisfactory condition last night.

To donate


If you wish to make a tax-deductible donation, please send cheque or money order payable to the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Dalhousie University (for MacEachern-Ponsford Memorial Award), 1459 Oxford St., Rm. 3006, Life Sciences Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 4R2 or call (902) 494-2358 or email for more information.


2022 recipient - Megan MacDonald

This year’s recipient of the MacEachern-Ponsford Award is Megan MacDonald. She is a 4th year Honours degree student in Earth Science and Physics with minor in Math. Megan excelled in her Field Methods and Field School courses. Her instructors noted that she was always prepared for field work and would often bring extra supplies, which her peers appreciated very much. She also demonstrated high awareness for safety and was supportive of others, boosting the morale of those around her. Even when not in the field, she is dedicated to safety; she recently completed Dalhousie’s certification for laboratory safety. What distinguishes Megan is her involvement in student activities. She is the current President of the Dawson Geology Undergraduate Society, and has held leadership positions in the Undergraduate Physics Society.


Previous recipients

2021 Michael Powell
2020 Michael Kishchuk
2019 Anna Ryan
2018 Kanwar Multani and Bay Berry
2017 Charlotte Adams
2016 Raymond Craddock
2015 Erin Anderson and Patrick Manion
2014 Sean Kelly
2013 Jillian Kendrick and Elizabeth Lymer
2012 Rhea Hurnik and Siobhan McGoldrick
2011 Zoe Braden
2010 Beth Cowen
2009 Anne Belanger
2008 Robin Buckley
2007 Adam Leather and Megan MacGillivray
2006 Duncan McLeish
2005 Krista Sutton
2004 Sheila Ballantyne
2003 Maureen White
2002 Laura Ritchie
2001 Mark Berry
2000 Simon Newton
1999 Andrea Hawkes and Krista McCuish
1998 Katherine Muir
1997 Jeff Seburn
1996 Pradeep Bhatnagar
1995 Greg Pemberton
1994 Vanessa Gale
1993 Matthew Fraser
1992 Neil Tibert
1991 Laurel McDonald
1990 Davis Bennett
1989 Kenneth McKenzie
1988 Andrew Henry and Helen McLaughlin
1987 David Ritcey
1986 Jordan Mooers