About Malcolm Telford

Age 5 Wartime Britain

Glasgow (1956)

The student (1958)

In Northwest Territories (1959)

A number of people have asked about my background: where did I grow up, become a biologist, go to university and stuff like that. So here is a condensed history of an unremarkable life.

Much of my childhood was passed in wartime Britain. Not the best of times but we were very lucky, enduring only the privations shared by all, and spared major trauma. I was five when the war started, as in the scrubbed and nicely turned-out photograph.

To escape bombing of our industrial home city, I was packed off to boarding school just before my seventh birthday. Over the following ten years I racked up a thoroughly mixed record. On one hand I became the most punished boy in the school. On the other I achieved an excellent academic record in which I indulged my delight in Natural History. But through it all I had an uneasy relationship with authority, sometimes a temporary truce but at other times mutual hostilities. Yeah, I was probably an insufferable brat!

After a couple of intense years in Technical College I was admitted to a university program in Bacteriology. A sad mistake. Goofing off and endemic irresponsibility got me kicked out in short order. I then spent the worst two years of my life as a pharmaceutical salesman.

Thereafter my fortunes turned around. Miraculously my girl friend agreed to marry me and seek our future together in Canada. The picture on the left was taken in Glasgow, 1956, by a street photographer. We arrived in 1957 with a hundred bucks between us. My favorite picture of Sally is shown on the right, taken late April, 1959. Kept this on my desk top for years.

In 1958 I was accepted into the Zoology program at McGill University in Montreal. Graduating with Honours in 1961, I spent a year at Dalhousie in Halifax, taught for three years at Sir George Williams (now Concordia) and then completed a PhD program at McGill in 1967, ten years after arriving in Canada.

We moved to Toronto that same year, to a faculty position in Zoology for me, and back to school for my very supportive wife, Sally. She graduated with a degree in History from York University and then completed a master’s degree in Library and Information Science at the University of Toronto. We both retired in 1997.

I dabbled in a few things since retirement: restoration of antique furniture and art; painting and folk art; gardening; and then took up writing about three years ago. My first project, called “Legs, Jaws and Fangs,” was about creepy crawlies. It was probably too technical or too off-beat because I could raise no interest in it. “Flying Sand Dollars...” is much more personal, more fun, less didactic, and intended for all readers. It also provided me with a welcome opportunity to reflect on a life of ups and downs, teaching and research, and insatiable curiosity about the world in which we live. Right now I’m relaxing before starting my next project — whatever that will be.

Malcolm Telford, June, 2016.



Sally (1959)

Field Course Biologist (1969)

Gray-haired Professor (1979)

Retired Professor needs haircut (1999)