McCall Gardens

Julian lived a full life, with joy in his family, satisfaction with his work, and enthusiasm for his outdoor pursuits and creative interests.

Julian Michael Henry Coward passed away peacefully, with family by his side. Loved and sadly missed by his wife Mary, sons Andrew and Michael, daughter-in-law Joan Marie, grandsons Matthew, Andrew and Patrick, his sister Tessa Kirby in England, and many relatives and friends.

Julian was born in England. He studied electrical engineering at the University College London. In 1966, he met Mary who was on an exchange year from University of Toronto. In 1968, he followed her to Canada – and also to do a Ph.D. in hydrogeology at McMaster University in Hamilton. They married in 1969 and for their “honeymoon”, drove with eight friends from England to Nepal on a caving expedition.

Julian’s first job was in Toronto with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. In 1976, the family moved to Edmonton where Julian worked for Syncrude for almost 30 years in the Research Department. Life in Edmonton was rich with family, community, and work. Julian enjoyed outdoor activities – skiing, hiking, and camping. Also, indoor pursuits – woodworking, science projects, and acting as an “extra” in the Edmonton opera.

Caving, or spelunking, was a passion from his university days. He explored the caves in England and Europe, went on expeditions to Nepal, Peru, and Mexico, and expanded caving knowledge through research, mapping and “speleo electronics”.

Travel was also an ongoing enthusiasm. He hitchhiked through Norway as a teenager, travelled with Mary as a student to Nepal, South and Central America, made many trips with his young family to visit grandparents in England and Toronto, and finally, in retirement, enjoyed tours and cruises with friends.

He took great pleasure from his children, and now with his grandchildren, passing on his engineering talents and love of “making things” as well as his outdoor pursuits and travel.

In 2005, Julian retired to Victoria, where he and Mary enjoyed an active retirement. They loved their house on the Gorge, enjoyed hiking and bridge with friends. Julian bought a small wooden steamboat named “Hotspur” to putter up and down the Gorge. He volunteered at Heritage Acres and enjoyed the Victoria Symphony. And he found time to write a history of himself and his family.

Despite coping with Alzheimer’s for 10 years, and melanoma for the past two years, Julian always found the best in life. He always expressed his gratitude for his full and satisfying life of family, work, travel, and interests. He faced his challenges with patience, humour and gentleness.

The family would like to thank the Alzheimer’s Society of BC, the Day Programs at Sunset Lodge and Elk Lake, and HandyDart. Also, thanks to the BC Cancer Agency. And special thanks to those at Douglas Care, who cared for Julian, and our family, through his final months.

A Celebration of Life will be held Wednesday, September 13, 2017, at McCall Gardens Sequoia Centre, 4665 Falaise Drive at 2 pm with a reception to follow.

Condolences may be offered to the family below.

McCall Gardens




  • John Balcomb
    November 22, 2017

    Dear Mary,
    I was saddened to learn just yesterday, of Julian’s passing. I wish I had known you had retired to Victoria…we attend an annual reunion on the Hood Canal, and it would have been fun to get together. I was in many of Julian’s classes at Whitgift. He amazed me with his scientific brilliance, building a small robot that would follow a light beam. We had fun riding in his Austin 7 and toured the breaker’s yards for spare parts. After Whitgift, Julian and I made a tent from a parachute on his Mother’s sewing machine, and flew off to Norway. We hitch-hiked up Norway, down Sweden, and back home through Denmark and Belgium. I treasure our friendship and the memories. My sincere condolences. John Balcomb

  • Oscar Torres
    September 19, 2017

    I didn´t get to know you Julian, but I did knew Mary, your lovely wife! I know we are here for a purpose and is our job to do it with graceful, and I am sure you did it! A big hug for Mary and kids!

  • Roger and Maggie Melley
    September 17, 2017

    Mary and Family,

    Please accept our deepest condolences. Our thoughts are with you.

    Roger & Maggie

  • Terry Ward
    September 15, 2017

    Mary and Family

    Julian was a man to be admired and we send my condolences on his untimely death.

    Terry and Patricia Ward

  • Jean Cooley
    September 14, 2017

    I worked with Julian for many years at Syncrude. I am sorry to hear of his passing. He was a fine person. My deepest sympathies to you and your family.

  • Russ and Susan Costello
    September 13, 2017

    Susan and I are saddened by the news of Julian’s passing. Though out of touch with both of you for many years, the loss is still deeply felt. Julian was always a source of optimism and humour and he made our lives better for it. To Mary, Andrew and Michael go our sincere condolences and best regards.

    Russ and Sue

  • John Adjaye
    September 13, 2017

    My deepest sympathies to the Coward family. It was a pleasure to have worked with Julian at Syncrude R&D. Julian had a strong but gentle heart. He’d be missed.

    John Adjaye

  • John Adjaye
    September 13, 2017

    My deepest syspathies to the Coward family. Julian was a pleasure to work with here at Syncrude R&D, a strong but gentle heart. We share in your grief and loss

    John Adjaye

  • Brenda Lodovice
    September 12, 2017

    Julian was a pleasure to be around

    He was so very kind .I will deeply

    missed him.

    My deepest sympathy to the family

  • Pamela & Dennis Sutton
    September 12, 2017

    We are saddened to learn of Julian’s passing. We appreciated his good-humour, calmness and willingness to participate in every activity he became part of. Our time with Harbourside was greatly enhanced by Julian being a frequent visitor and volunteer in its activities.

    We offer our condolences to Mary and the family

  • Ken Porteous
    September 12, 2017

    Dear Mary,

    We were very sorry to learn of Julian’s passing.
    From a professional perspective, his contributions at Syncrude were significant and valued. His wide range of interests and his willingness to share his experiences in a calm and often humorous manner made him a wonderful colleague and friend.
    Our sincerest condolences to you and your family.

    Ken and Helen Porteous

  • Carla Gerein
    September 11, 2017

    I worked with Julian at Syncrude Research for 13 years. Julian shared many photographs and stories of his caving and spelunking expeditions, in which I found fascinating. He was a pleasure to work with. My condolences go out to Julian’s family.

    Carla Gerein

  • Jerry Fairbridge
    September 11, 2017

    Dear Mary and family,

    You are central to our memories of Edmonton and we loved seeing you later, when we had opportunities to meet. Both of you had a positive, quiet wisdom and always a cheering word. We send our deepest sympathies.

    Jerry and Eija

  • Sanci Solbakken
    September 11, 2017

    Mary – my thoughts are with you and your family at this time. I always enjoyed having Julian and yourself in the office, to discuss tax issues, but also just to catch up and visit. His smile was always welcomed and appreciated.

    Take care.
    Sanci Solbakken

  • Wayne Ford
    September 11, 2017

    Quiet, smiling Julian, a great, smiling volunteer for Harbourside Rotary projects.

    Julian exemplified the qualities outlined by Albert Schweitzer:

    “The purpose of life is to serve, and to show compassion the will to help others.”

    Our sympathy to the family

    Wayne Ford

  • Eugenia Durán
    September 11, 2017

    Estimados Mary y familia, mi más sentido pésame por su pérdida. Cristiana resignación.

  • Marilyn Brown
    September 11, 2017

    Mary Dear, I was so sorry to read of Julian’s death and send sympathy to you and yours. You were kind to me in a similar situation and I appreciated it. Julian was a lovely man (very English, that) and enjoyed life to the fullest. I am sorry his last years were spent dealing with illnesses but I know you and the boys handled those last years well.

  • Ron Hierlihy
    September 11, 2017

    Dear Mary. My sincerest condolances to you and family in passing of your husband Julian. My thoughts and
    prayers are with you at this difficult time.

    Best personal regards,

    Ron Hierlihy, St. Albert,

  • Monica Nasmyth
    September 10, 2017

    Dear Mary and Family;

    I heard the sad news of Julian’s passing this morning from Trevor (Tich). I’m so sorry for your loss. The lovely obituary brought back many memories of long ago. I hope happy memories will sustain you and your sons, and lighten your burden as time goes by.

    Sending you our heartfelt condolences, Monica and Gord

  • Neil MacLean
    September 10, 2017

    Sorry to read about the loss of your father Andrew. Our thoughts are with you and your family.

    Neil and Gayle

  • Suping Song & Yingfeng Xu
    September 10, 2017

    Dear Mary and famly:

    Yingfeng and I are so saddened by Julian’s passing. Our deep condolences. Our heart and thoughts are with you during this most difficult time.

    Julian really had a great enviable life : satisfying work, happy marriage, great children, active retirement. I have always seen Mary and Julian as an inspiration and a model to follow in living life to its fullest. I remember Julian’s participation in the Edmonton Birkebeiner, the wood shelves that he made to display Mary’s collection of Altaglasses.. He was always at Mary’side, smiling and enthusiastic… He will be dearly missed, but he will always live in our memories.

    Suping and Yingfeng

  • Phyllis & Dave Saunders
    September 9, 2017

    Mary, our thoughts have been with you & Julian in the past few weeks, and we were saddened by the news that he had passed so soon. We’re glad to have known him & to have shared the past year of Sunday morning hikes with you both. He’ll continue those walks with us all in spirit, with his characteristic long easy stride. Our thoughts are with you & your family at this difficult time.

  • Pamela Farron
    September 9, 2017

    I worked with Julian for many years at the Syncrude Research Centre. He was always a joy to be around, contributing extensively to the many projects he was involved in. Julian will truly be missed by many of his friends, both work and personal. Wishing Mary and her family my condolences at this difficult time.

  • Marlene Dick
    September 9, 2017

    I am so glad that, through Tai Chi, you and Julian came into my life.

    If all the leaders and diplomats of the world had Julian’s nature, I am

    sure there would be harmony and not wars. With Respect, Sympathy and Love – Marlene

  • Ken Chekerda
    September 9, 2017

    We are so sorry to learn of Julian’s passing. We both worked with Julian on various projects through out the years. He lead a more amazing life than many people know. Our sincere condolences to his family.
    Love, Ken and Lonnie

  • Bob Graham
    September 9, 2017

    Dear Mary and family,

    I send my sympathies from Guatemala.

    Many blessings, Bob Graham

  • Robin Preece
    September 8, 2017

    Mary, I was truly saddened to get the news of Julian’s passing. I remember fondly our kids playing together at the little Idylwylde park, playing cards together and touring your wonderful gardens in Grandview and in Victoria and always admiring Julian’s handiwork. I know that during this difficult time Michael and Andrew will be such a help and wonderful memories, as well as your grandchildren, will be a comfort! Take care of yourself, Mary.
    Love, Robin

  • Rick and Jan Ball
    September 8, 2017

    Mary and family
    Thinking of you. We share fond memories of Julian. He was a very sweet man and will be missed . Our deepest sympathies to you and your family.
    Jan and Rick

  • Val Hemminger and Jameson Long
    September 8, 2017

    We have had the pleasure of living beside Mary and Julian for more than 17 years. We benefitted greatly by having Julian next door. He built a ladder for our dock, helped in our garden, and welcomed the addition of our chickens and ducks. Julian was always a bright light of positivity. His warmth and fun nature were contagious. Our hearts and love go to Mary and all of the family at this time. Some people just make the world a better place for having lived in it. Julian is one of those souls who did just that. He will be dearly missed by us.

  • Branwyn Kew
    September 8, 2017

    My condolences to you and your family, Mary. My thoughts are with you, and have been since hearing of Julian’s recently declining health. It was such a pleasure to spend time and work with you both in the recent Rotary garage sale. Julian was such a sweet, polite man and you were such a caring, kind-hearted and patient spouse. The love between you was very clear. I’m so sorry for your loss. Branwyn Kew – Harbourside Rotary Club

  • Gillian Manson
    September 8, 2017

    Mary, I am deeply sorry for your loss. Julian was truly one of a kind and I would often see the two of you walking together deep in conversation. I know he will be missed by all of his friends and family and I wish you strength and comfort in your grief.
    With love

  • Peter Baillie
    September 8, 2017

    My deepest sympathies to the Coward family.

  • Angus & Stephanie Macpherson
    September 8, 2017

    Dear Mary and family,
    We are saddened by your loss yet heartened by the legacy of memories and accomplishments Julien gifted, to to his family, friends and the world around him, from a life well lived.

  • Keith and Susanne Phillips
    September 8, 2017

    Mary and Family:

    Our condolences in this difficult time. Out thoughts are with you.

    Keith and Susanne

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