Dr. Victor Milligan (1929 – 2009)

Victor Milligan early head shot

Victor Milligan has been viewed as an outstanding athlete, leader and civil engineer.

He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and early on was a gifted middle distance runner. He captained the Northern Ireland team at the 1954 British Empire Games in Vancouver, where he finished fourth in just over 4 minutes in the “Miracle Mile,” an event that pitted the only two people up to that point to have run sub 4-minute miles against each other for the first time. Victor looked back at sport as a recreation, but emphasized the importance of embracing many different aspects of life – recreation, vocation, family, friendships, travel – in a well-rounded life.

After completing a master’s degree at Purdue University, he worked on geotechnical projects in the UK, and then spent four years as District Engineer, then Assistant Chief Engineer at Geocon in Toronto.

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Victor was only 30 when he accepted the challenge of running an expanded consulting practice with Dr. Hugh Golder in 1960. Starting as a Principal, Victor became President, then Chairman from 1974 to 1984, and then served as a Senior Principal until 1994. After that time, he set up his own consulting practice, often acting as a Consultant to Golder Associates, and also serving on consulting boards to international clients.

John Boyd wrote in Golder’s 50th anniversary historical overview in 2010 that Victor Milligan “was an incredibly talented, warm, and personable individual. Everyone he met came under the spell of his charm and, perhaps more importantly for the company, succumbed to his vision of an open, collegial environment for people with strong technical capability, focused above all else on doing high quality work. He set the philosophical groundwork for the firm and persuaded all of us to take on the world.”

In 2004, while thinking about his contribution to Golder and the way he ran the company, Victor made a series of comments about life, including:

  • Live a broad life and live with passion.
  • Always go for the best you can in everything you do – from food, to people, to work to sport.
  • Success is like a moving target that you can never quite achieve. The journey is the most important.
  • Measure yourself against the best and be on a constant search for excellence.
  • God has given us life to enjoy it. Make the most of life. Life is not always kind, but is always rich – you learn from every experience – good or bad.
  • Treat a client as a person – they are people first and a client second.

 

 

Victor Milligan was an acknowledged world expert in dams, embankments, and soft-ground tunnels, working on over 150 dams up to 200 m in height. He delivered the 38th Karl Terzaghi Lecture to the American Society for Civil Engineers in 2002 in Washington, where Alan Macnab, in his introduction commented “Victor Milligan has only one standard. Whatever he does, it must be the best.”

Victor’s lifelong commitment to being the best was acknowledged by the Professional Engineers of Ontario, which awarded him a Gold Medal posthumously, “in recognition of outstanding accomplishments and contributions made to society and the engineering professional as a citizen and as a professional engineer.”

 

 

 

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