Dr. J. Howard Richards was born in Wales and attended the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. In 1941 he moved to Canada as a meteorologist with the RAF and later joined the Canadian Army, serving in Canada, Great Britain and other parts of Europe. Howard earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in geography from the University of Toronto and taught land use and regional geography at Syracuse University, University of Manitoba, University of Toronto, and Royal Military College.
In 1960 he moved to Saskatoon and founded the Department of Geography at the University of Saskatchewan. In 1968 he established the Regional and Urban Development program (now called the Regional and Urban Planning program), Saskatchewan’s sole professional planning program, and one of the oldest undergraduate planning programs in the country. Howard stepped down as Head of Department in 1979, after having made the Department of Geography and the Regional and Urban Development program an incredibly strong and vital part of the University and of Saskatchewan.
He served on a variety of boards, including the Saskatoon District Planning Commission and the Grasslands National Park Board of Enquiry. Howard served as Director of the Saskatchewan Land Capability Inventory and also as President of the Canadian Association of Geographers.
By all accounts, Dr. J. Howard Richards was a tremendous force for innovation and change within Saskatchewan’s planning community, giving life to its planning education program and playing a vital role in the life of the growing profession across Canada.