Lawrence Gordon Ala, 85, passed away peacefully in his sleep on October 26, 2020, in the Ottawa Hospital (Civic Campus), Ottawa, Ontario. He was predeceased by his wife of 60 years, Friedericke (Fritzi) (née Lechner), who passed away in 2018.
He is survived by his three children: Laurinda, Byron (Judy), and Davin (Michelle, dcd); his six grandchildren: Madison, Kristin, Travis, Mikaela, Adrienne, and Ciarra; and his one great grandson, Damien.
He was born in The Pas, Manitoba to parents Irja (née Majonen) Ala and Lauri Ala, on March 14, 1935. His father’s original last name was Hakala, but he shortened it to Ala while still a young man. His parents were of Finnish heritage, his mother being born to new immigrants and his father immigrating as a baby, and they started out on homesteads in the area around Vermillion Bay, Ontario. He grew up in various places from Vermillion Bay west, following his parents as they travelled for work, ending up in British Columbia where he graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Geography in 1959, followed by a Master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning in 1961. He completed his formal education with a Certificate of Public Administration from the University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus, in 1963. Although he didn’t become the lawyer hoped for by his father, he did make his parents proud with his academic achievements, especially considering his father never had more than an elementary school education.
Although he spent his youth in numerous communities from Ontario across the Prairies to British Columbia, he spent most of his career in the National Capital Region, where he raised his family, and many of those years building his family home in his free time.
His career as a City Planner began in Regina, Saskatchewan, before he moved his family east to Ottawa, where he worked for the City of Ottawa as a City Planner, including on the Lebreton Flats redevelopment. He then joined the Federal Public Service where he retired in 1992 as a Director from the Department of Public Works and Government Services after a long, satisfying, and distinguished career.
He always loved to travel and visit new places and in his later years he derived enormous pleasure from planning a trip to assembling annotated photo albums detailing the trip’s experiences. One of his legacies is a vast number of photo albums, containing not only a history of his travel experiences, but of his family through the years, and finally a pictorial history of his family in Canada.
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