CHERITON, William Ross

In over a century of living, Ross Cheriton was a farm boy, naval officer, professional engineer, forensic expert witness, sailor, and adventurous traveler as well as a husband and father, grandfather and great grandfather.

Born in Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, William Ross Cheriton was the eldest of five children. Growing up on a farm during the Great Depression, often needing to analyze and improvise, led him to study engineering physics at the University of Saskatchewan, graduating in 1943. After serving as an officer on Corvettes in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II, he earned a further Professional Engineering degree at the University of British Columbia.

Hired at Canadian General Electric in Toronto, in 1947 he met and married Edith Muriel Smith, an electrical engineer who also worked at CGE. Ross and Muriel raised six children: Lorna, Glenn, David, Ruth, Mary, and Kyle. The children attended Mount Royal, Highlands Junior High and Eastglen schools as well as Highlands United Church (where Ross served as an elder and taught Sunday school) before the family moved to Belgravia in 1969 and the younger children attended McKernan and Strathcona schools.

An active father, he took his family for Sunday drives, taught his sons woodworking skills and how to shoot guns safely. He took his children camping, showed them how to pan for gold, and taught them to ride horses, water-ski, kayak, and sail. The family vacationed at Lake Wabamun, where Ross sailed and competitively raced monohulls and catamarans and was a long-term member, supporter and 1969 Commodore of the Wabamun Sailing Club. In 1977, he fulfilled a lifelong dream by commissioning a yacht, manufactured by Rival Yachts in Britain, and sailing across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. Muriel predeceased him in 2016. Besides his six children, his legacy includes eighteen grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.

His career included work with electrical contractor firm Hume and Rumble in Vancouver, Wirtanen Electric in Edmonton, and later Allsop Morgan Consulting and Canadian Engineering Surveys on projects such as the Edmonton International Airport. In 1963, Ross went into business on his own. His companies included the partnership Cheriton Bolstad Engineering Consultants, W.R. Cheriton & Associates Ltd., and Cheriton & Associates, offering the pioneering services of “non-destructive testing.” Assisting as an expert witness with a court case in 1965 led to his specializing in forensic engineering. Ross’s area of expertise was the failure of electrical equipment and the explosions, electrocutions and fires that occurred when something went wrong. In 1982 Ross joined the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and presented papers at their annual meetings. He also taught at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Alberta.

He travelled extensively, especially with Muriel, including to England, Scotland and continental Europe, Montréal for Expo ’67, Florida and the Grand Bahamas, Tahiti, Martinique, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, and South Africa as well as in University of Alberta tours. In connection with his work and his interests in arctic Canada, and the history of the World Wars, he travelled to southeast Asia, to Ellesmere Island and to the battlefields of Europe.

The family wishes to express their sincere gratitude to Comfort Keepers caregivers for their support and care shown to Ross, our mother, and our family.

A Celebration of Ross’s Life will be held at a later date.

Memorial donations in Ross’s honour may be made directly to the Ross & Muriel Cheriton Fund at Edmonton Community Foundation or to a charity of your choice.

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