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G.Edward Ebanks (1938-2021)

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Dr G.Edward Ebanks (1938-2021) passed away on Monday, November 8, 2021 at the Elisabeth Bruyere Health Centre Hospice after a brief battle with Cancer.


Eddie grew up in a small rural community on the south coast of Jamaica, where he excelled in school, winning scholarships throughout this period. He studied Mathematics at the University of the West Indies. He then went to Cornell University for post graduate studies with a full scholarship from the Population Council in 1964. He got the prestigious Population Council scholarship for three years, 1964-1966 and again in 1967-68. By 1968 he had completed his M.A and Ph.D. in sociology, specializing in Demography.


He joined Western University in 1968 as an assistant professor in the newly established department of Sociology with a specialization in Population Studies. His unique combination of a strong background in Statistics and Quantitative methods and Demography was valuable in developing a strong Population Studies program at Western. He rapidly progressed through the ranks and became a tenured full Professor in a short time. He spent 35 years at Western University till his retirement in 2003. He literally spent his whole academic career at Western.


Eddie took great pride in the achievement of his students. He supervised a large number of Masters and Ph.D. students, and took great interest in their achievements after they left Western. A number of them work in various other universities, governmental institutions such as Statistics Canada and abroad such as the World Health Organization, CIDA etc. He kept in close contact with many of them.


Eddies large research output in scholarly journals, and in research monographs, reveal a careful attention to rigour and practical relevance. Many of them are interdisciplinary. He researched and published seminal works on fertility, migration, and urbanization. Further they can be broadly classified into three geographical areas; Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America. Much of his work is based on data collection and rigorous statistical analysis. His sabbaticals took him to U.N. Demographic centres in San Jose, Costa Rica, Santiago Chile, and to the World Fertility Survey offices in London, England which enabled him to do research in other Latin American countries. He did extensive field work in Barbados. These sabbaticals resulted in monographs establishing his reputation as a specialist in his field. His many consultantships with the Population Council, CIDA, IDRC, and the International Statistical Institute are a tribute to his standing in the field. His research has appeared in such prestigious journals as Demography, Population Studies, Studies in Family Planning, as well as in publications of the United Nations.


At Western his efforts went beyond the basic duties of teaching and research. His leadership qualities and his innate ability in governance and administration resulted in his being the Chair of the Sociology Department for five years. During his term, a number of young talented faculty were recruited. He was a champion for graduate students often finding resources for them to travel to conferences to present papers as well as to network for further opportunities. At the wider university level, he was three times President of the Faculty Association, member of the University Senate for many years and member of the Board of Governors of Western. In his note of condolence, former Western Provost J. Clark Leith noted that Eddie was very effective in representing the interest of the UWO faculty at the bargaining table. The result on each occasion was an agreement that was in the interest of the Faculty and the University as a whole”. Eddie’s love affair with Western was life long and included cheering on the Western Mustangs football and basketball teams.


Eddie was a founding member of the Canadian Population Society in 1973-1974. He served on the council of CPS for many years, and finally as the President of CPS in 1998-2000. From small beginnings CPS has grown as a major demography association with its own journal and is now respected as a national professional association. During his career at Western, Eddie probably attended every annual conference of CPS and the Population Association of America where he participated in various capacities. He was elected to the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) in 1972 at the young age of 34.


Throughout his career Eddie made regular time to join friends in a game of golf or a tennis match. Joining a running group in his early days at Western, he continued to run most lunch hours of his career, forming enduring friendships with his running mates.


Eddie had a fine mind and an adventurous spirit that took him from rural Jamaica to an Ivy League University to a long and successful academic career. He had an intellectual curiosity that led him to collaborate with geographers and explore social anthropology in his spare time. Much of what brought joy to Eddie was his family and his numerous close friends. He delighted in family and the many friends made in his field of expertise, colleagues across the university, fellow champions of causes, neighbours and most recently his caregivers. Each felt the warmth of his huge heart and generous spirit. He will be missed.

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