Esri Canada Honours the Life of Dr. Roger Tomlinson, the “Father of GIS”

Dr. Tomlinson’s invention of the computerized geographic information system changed the way the world uses geographic data and maps to solve problems

Toronto – February 13, 2014 – Esri Canada honours the life and work of Dr. Roger Tomlinson, who passed away on February 7, 2014, at the age of 80. Known as the “father of GIS”, Dr. Tomlinson was a visionary geographer who conceived and developed the first geographic information system (GIS) for the Canadian federal government in the 1960s. He initiated, planned and directed the development of the Canada Geographic Information System to create the Canada Land Inventory, a geographic database still used today by municipalities for their land planning. His innovation has enabled the development of modern mapping technology and techniques, and established a multibillion-dollar industry employing thousands of people worldwide.

“Roger was a great friend and an inspiration to generations of geographers,” notes Alex Miller, president and founder, Esri Canada. “He will be remembered as the inventor of GIS and its greatest practitioner. He pioneered the use of mapping to address many of the world’s complex problems and advanced GIS as a profession, art and science. Through his remarkable work, which spans more than five decades, he leaves a tremendous legacy of innovation that will have a lasting impact on geographers and the world’s mapping community.”

Dr. Tomlinson was the principal of Tomlinson Associates, a geographic consulting firm that served international clients including the World Bank, and the US and Canadian Forest Services. He was a sought-after speaker at GIS events worldwide and presented at numerous Esri conferences. For his outstanding work, he received the Esri Lifetime Achievement Award (1997), the Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s Gold Medal (2003) and the National Geographic Society’s Alexander Graham Bell Medal (2010). In 2005, he became the first recipient of the Association of American Geographers’ Robert T. Aangeenbrug Distinguished Career Award. He was made an Honorary Member of the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors in 2011 for his leadership in the area of GIS. In 2001, he was named a member of the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour, and was promoted in 2013 to an Officer of the Order of Canada for transforming the field of geography with his invention of GIS. Read more about the legacy of Dr. Tomlinson and his work in this article: The 50th Anniversary of GIS.

As a tribute, Esri Canada has set up an online memorial for the GIS community to share their thoughts and memories of his incredible life and impact on the world.

An obituary can be found here:

About Esri Canada
Founded in 1984, Esri Canada provides enterprise geographic information system (GIS) solutions that empower businesses, governments and educational institutions to make timely, informed and mission-critical decisions by leveraging the power of geography. The company distributes the world’s leading GIS software from Esri, along with a comprehensive portfolio of complementary GIS products and services. Headquartered in Toronto, the company serves over 10,000 customers from 16 regional offices across Canada. Esri Canada is a 2012 winner of Canada’s Best Managed Companies program and has also been named to the Branham Group’s Top 250 Canadian IT Companies and Top 25 IT Professional Services Providers in Canada, as well as Computer Dealer News’ Top 100 IT Solution Providers in Canada lists. Information about Esri Canada can be found at Follow Esri Canada on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.