Dr. Hans Kivisild

An innovative engineer who spearheaded numerous projects throughout the world, Hans Robert Kivisild designed the George Massey Tunnel. It was the first earthquake-proof public structure in Vancouver. He also designed numerous terminals and structures in Canada's Arctic.

Dr. Hans Kivisild was a highly acclaimed engineer who, upon retirement, volunteered his efforts and knowledge towards the improvement of Estonia's infrastructure. Hans Robert Kivisild was born in 1922 in Tartu, Estonia. He grew up in Estonia's capital city of Tallinn. Hans excelled at school, particularly in mathematics and physics. During World War II he fled to Finland on a fishing boat. Having moved to Sweden, he graduated from the Royal University of Technology in Stockholm in 1946 and married Livia Martna, also an Estonian emigrant. The family moved to Canada in 1951 after the birth of their first daughter. Kivisild worked in Montréal, Quebec for a short period before returning to Sweden to complete a PhD. Applying mathematical concepts with an intuitive grasp of physics, Hans was able to think beyond conventional engineering methods. Work allowed Dr. Kivisild to travel to many parts of the world including the Netherlands, Taiwan and Sierra Leone. Hans created a new field of study based on quantifying structural properties of ice. He developed criteria for ice accumulations, ice floods, storm surges and ice forces.

Livia is an active members of the Alberta Estonian Heritage Societyand is a highly-skilled translator of English and Estonian material. In 1973 Hans moved to Calgary to become the vice-president of Fenco, a large engineering firm. During his retirement, Dr. Kivisild returned to Estonia as a volunteer with the Canadian Executive Services Organization. He advised the Estonian government on the reconstruction of a port in Paldiski. He returned to Calgary and died 6 May 2001. He is survived by his wife Livia and four daughters, Maria Ogrydziak, Ann Smith, Julia Bailey and Emma Kivisild.

Alberta's Estonian Heritage