John Vardon was born in Toronto in 1931, the son of Lester Vardon who was also a transportation person (retiring after a career with the Toronto Transit Commission in a senior management role). John attended the University of Toronto and graduated in 1953 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. He then worked for three years as a Route Analysis Engineer in the Traffic Section of the Ontario Department of Highways (now the Ministry of Transportation), and participated in the Joint Research Program at Queen’s University. John then enrolled in the Masters program at Queen’s University in Kingston (ON), receiving his degree in 1959 and returned to the Department of Highways. In 1965 he joined the Metropolitan Toronto Planning Board where he became the Director of the Transportation Division.
One of his first tasks with Metro was establishing guidelines for a major transportation study with the purpose of guiding the corporation for the next twenty years. He was Secretary of the Transportation and Technical Planning Committee and participated in the evaluation of the future Spadina Subway line. The Planning Board work was comprehensive and innovative for the time as many of the transportation planning techniques were considered state of the art; particularly the modelling of future travel demands. What came out of this exercise was a system of transportation improvements that responded to growth in the fast expanding Metropolitan area. During this time there was extreme controversy with respect to major transportation facilities in Toronto, and it was in this context that Mr. Vardon’s leadership stood out. He was politically astute while still maintaining integrity in the technical aspects of the planning process.
John lived life to the full being active in squash and skiing. In 1972, he died suddenly at the age of 40. He left behind wife Shirley, and three young children; Susan, Christopher and Andrew.
A Committee of Friends consisting of Philip E. Wade (Chairman), Alan E. Argue, Walter Q. Macnee and John R. Crosby began fund raising for the scholarship. They wrote: “John was a man whose work and ideas were consistently excellent, but his finest qualities were essentially human ones. His friendship and integrity were valued by all who knew him, and he extended dignity and honour to his profession.”