Global Adventurer
Redefines Retirement

A decade ago, Dr. Roger Morton, P.Geol., took an early retirement. But no rocking chair awaited this gem-seeker — the mineral-rich wilds kept right on beckoning.

Freelance Columnist

Students frequently complain that their professors seem two or three steps removed from the real world. Dr. Roger Morton, P.Geol., has never suffered such knocks — before or after he bid farewell to academia.

In fact, this guy is real world to the extreme.

Since he took early retirement from the University of Alberta 10 years ago, the proprietor of Edmonton’s Diamori Fine Jewellers has personally prowled some of the most remote and unruly landscapes on the globe.

He narrowly escaped death from typhoid while hunting mineral wealth in the wilds of Indonesia, recovering at last when a helpful veterinarian prescribed a massive dose of livestock antibiotics. He also suffered an altitude-induced heart attack while scouting for precious metals high in the Andes.
Long since recovered, he says with a shrug: “Tootling around the mountains of Bolivia, looking at copper and silver deposits — people don’t always realize that a little oxygen in your blood can be a useful attribute.”

Dr. Roger Morton, P.Geol.
...a lifelong seeker shuns traditional retirement

Exotic Meal, Anyone?
As the Edmonton Journal reported last year, Dr. Morton, who speaks seven languages, has occasionally been forced to dine on snakes and lizards. In a real pinch, he’s even eaten jungle rodents.

But at 70, his skin glows and his eyes dance, revealing the health and passion of a lifelong seeker.
One of the most sought-after mineral exploration geologists in the business and a self-described travel addict, Dr. Morton has never considered slowing down. It’s simply not an option.

Although “professor” is no longer part of his official job description, he hasn’t really stopped teaching, either. On any stroll down Jasper Avenue, he’s likely meet a former student who’s gone on to a successful career. And Dr. Morton is frequently hired as a consultant or adviser by companies exploring for sapphires and rubies in Greenland, emeralds in the Yukon or gold just about everywhere else.

“While I was still at the U of A, I jumped at every opportunity to go out as a teacher and come back with a knowledge of places my students had never been. In that way, I could teach them about the real world,” he reflects.

Prior to the death of Mao Zedong, Dr. Morton taught the Communist Chinese how to prospect for uranium. Another time, working with the Canadian International Development Agency, he mapped the volcanoes, hot springs and potential mineral deposits on every island between Bali and New Guinea.
An association with Dave (Dr. Death) Fennell, an Edmonton Eskimo defensive star from the mid-1970s to early 1980s, led to the discovery of a major gold mine in Guyana. He also helped make another major gold score in Uruguay.

Diamonds in his Future?
Despite these accomplishments, one prize has eluded the peripatetic gem hunter.

“I’ve never discovered a major diamond deposit,” he concedes, quickly adding that he doesn’t expect to be shut out for much longer. He’s a principal of Sola Resource Corp., a junior currently doing business in the southwest Amazon basin of Brazil.

Dr. Morton and his associates are excited about a mineral lease of 3,500 square kilometres, which he believes has a chance to yield a treasure trove. “This is going to be one of the big diamond discovery areas. I really think we’re on the verge.”

In the same area, the international resource giant Rio Tinto has identified 34 kimberlites, the carrot-shaped geological bodies that can signal the presence of rich diamond deposits. “Fifteen of those are diamond-bearing and, of those, seven are rated high priority.”

Impressed by the dynamic Brazilian economy, Dr. Morton has found government regulators reasonable and been pleasantly surprised by local working conditions.

“We are up and running relatively easily. Operating costs are reasonable and it’s warm. Yes, it rains but one can always put up an umbrella. It’s certainly easier and cheaper than trying to operate in northern Canada’s diamond fields.”

It looks like the adventure continues for this geologist’s retirement. That’s something he saw coming, back in 1996.

When Dr. Morton left the U of A, a colleague congratulated him warmly, saying he’d now have time to read books and listen to music.

The reply? “Good gosh, no. I couldn’t stand that.”