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Remembering Tony Naldrett, 1933 – 2020



Photo of Tony

Tony on a field trip to Mexico 1981


Tributes can be sent to


to be shared at the end of this webpage and in the Alumni News.

In 2014 the A.J. (Tony) Naldrett Graduate Scholarship was created to honour Tony’s contributions to research and teaching at U of T.

Memorial donations can be made on our “Giving



It is with very great sadness that the Department has to report that Tony Naldrett passed away on Sunday, June 21st; he would have been 87 on June 23rd.

Tony Naldrett made many exceptionally positive contributions and helped many people – as one of his graduate students, who also graduated from Cambridge, U.K., wrote recently expressing many peoples’ thoughts, “I owe my career to Tony” and “Tony was truly one of the greats and his legacy will never be forgotten” (writer’s italics).

He was educated at St. Paul’s in west London, a very good school, for example Rosalind Franklin, who is considered to have deserved a Nobel Prize for her DNA research, went to the companion St. Paul’s Girls’ School. It can trace its origin back to at least ~1103 as the (old) St. Paul’s Cathedral School. He went to Cambridge from 1953 to 1957 where his college was Trinity Hall, founded in 1350 in order to rebuild the clergy after the Black Death. His M.Sc. and Ph.D. were both from Queen’s (1959-61; 1964) and he was a post-doc at the well-known Geophysical Lab. in Washington D.C. from 1964 to 1967.  

Tony was then a Professor in the Department for 31 years, from 1967 until retirement at age 65 in 1998. During this time he played what is generally regarded as the key role in making the Department of Geology at the University of Toronto the best university centre in the world for advanced scientific research on ore deposits and for dedicated teaching of undergraduate and graduate students in the field of ore deposits through passing on advanced knowledge and detailed understanding, thereby giving them a competitive edge. These commitments helped the Canada-based and international minerals industry.

His leadership was exceptional in this “golden age” and the contributions of people such as Greg Anderson, Frank Beales, Bill Gross, Steve Kesler, Steve Scott and Gordon Smith were also exceptional. In addition, Tony connected very well with other Profs., for example in the fields of field and experimental petrology/geochemistry, geochemical analysis and mineralogy (e.g. XRF; electron microprobe; neutron activation analysis) and field-based structural analysis, especially of Precambrian terranes. One of his most important, lasting contributions to the Department was exceptional leadership in building world-class geochemical analytical facilities at the U. of T., a tradition that continues to this day. Tony was very well aware that without cutting edge analytical and experimental equipment, operated by highly skilled individuals, there is no cutting edge ore deposits research.  

He and his graduate students/post-docs constituted the most important, scientifically rigorous and scientifically innovative research group in the world at the time in the field of orthomagmatic Ni-Cu-Co sulphide and platinum group element (PGE) deposits, maybe especially PGE because so little was known about their behaviour when they started, even their true concentrations were not very well known. They worked on the great Ni-Cu-Co sulphide and PGE deposits of the world including Sudbury, in the Abitibi, Lac des Îles (Ontario), Thompson, New Quebec-Raglan, Voisey’s Bay, Stillwater (U.S.), the Duluth Complex (U.S.), Norilsk (Russia), Jinchuan (PRC), the Bushveld Complex (South Africa) and in the Archean greenstone belts of Western Australia

Tony had an extraordinary ability to cut through information and see how to move scientific analysis forward in a useful time-frame; he was exceptionally perceptive and practical.

Altogether at the U. of T. he supervised/advised many Bachelors students, from Arts and Science and from Engineering, 20 Master’s students, 17 Ph.D. students and 15 post-docs. He was involved in >174 papers in refereed journals and conference proceedings and >50 contributions to books; and my numbers are out of date. He also wrote two books, one published by OUP in 1989 and one by St. Petersburg University Press in 2003 (in Russian) and by Springer in 2004 (English).  

Despite his exceptional involvement in advanced research, Department affairs as Graduate Associate Chair for seven years (1983-90), organisation of conferences and working in support of international scientific societies such as the Society of Economic Geologists and the Geological Society of America (e.g. President, 2001-02), Tony was absolutely dedicated to passing his knowledge and scientific insights on through teaching undergraduate and graduate students. Many times have I heard the deep appreciation of former undergraduate students for the very clear commitment to them, which they felt, and for this he is deeply liked and respected. For example, he participated in the Tweed field camp often led by Fried Schwerdtner and Pierre Robin for many years and his 4th. year undergrad. ore deposit field trips to Timmins or Sudbury were legendary in many ways including geology.  

Tony was personally recognised by many great and well-deserved honours. Three of the most important were being made a University Professor at the University of Toronto in 1984 (fewer than ~2% of U. of T. Profs. are granted this honour); being made the inaugural Norman Keevil Chair in Ore Genesis endowed by Mr. Robert W. McRae, in 1997; and receiving the Penrose Gold Medal of the Society of Economic Geologists in 2002.   

The Department, the University and ~140 attendees had the very great pleasure of honouring and thanking Tony for everything that he had done, and expressing their respect, at a great Dinner at the U. of T. Faculty Club on March 1st, 2013. It was attended by two of his daughters, Jennifer and Penelope, and also by Meric Gertler, three days later announced as the new President of the U. of T.   

A true measure of a person is related to what they give [quote modified from Robert South (1634-1716) D.D. Cantab. and Public Orator to Cambridge University for 17 years from 1660]. And Tony gave an enormous amount to a lot of people. He helped many people fundamentally, with their careers, lives and their families. 

A memorial service will be held when international travel is back to normal and his ashes will be scattered among the gravestones of his ancestors, going back to a great-grandfather, in a village in southern England, Lodsworth in West Sussex. The family name Naldrett can be traced in the area back to at least 1503. 

The Department expresses its profound condolences to his sister, Frances; his three daughters, Anne, Jennifer and Penelope; his two grand-daughters; further family; and his close friends, former students and colleagues throughout the world especially in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. 

                                                                                                                                    Ed Spooner / June 26th., 2020

“Professor Naldrett was “Dr. Nickel”.  The smile and twinkle in his eye gave the impression that he was always secretly amused by something.  His popularity with industry would ebb and flow with the price of nickel.  His smile was never broader than during the Voisey’s Bay nickel rush when every junior needed his insights.  A great mentor to the students.”

David Harquail  B.A.Sc.  1970

Tweed Field Camp 1979

Tweed Field Camp 1979








Professor Naldrett was “Dr. Nickel”. The smile and twinkle in his eye gave the impression that he was always secretly amused by something. His popularity with industry would ebb and flow with the price of nickel. His smile was never broader than during the Voisey’s Bay nickel rush when every junior needed his insights. A great mentor to the students.

David Harquail B.A.Sc. 1970