On June 30, 1984, Bill Mathews retired from full-time teaching in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of British Columbia (UBC). On October 10, 1984, a large group of his friends and admirers met in a symposium to honour his immense contributions to science and to students of the Earth, but more importantly, to celebrate his continuing intense scientific activity. His personal and scientific vigour continues unabated, and "retirement" only means the opportunity to concentrate on his research, full-time.Bill Mathews is a phenomenon. It is not easy to keep up with the list of his publications, let alone to emulate his productivity. Since his first scientific publication in 1942, he has written 125 papers, which translates into three papers every year for 42 years! Now that he can devote himself entirely to this work, we can only suppose that this productivity will increase.W. H. Mathews received the B.A.Sc. degree in Geological Engineering from UBC in 1940 and the M.A.Sc. from UBC in 1941 and spent the war years in strategic minerals research with the B.C. Department of Mines, following which he continued his studies, receiving the Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley, in 1948. In 1951 he joined the faculty at UBC, and he served as Head of the Department of Geology from 1964 to 1971. Dr. Mathews has been honoured by scientific societies and is a Professional Engineer, Fellow of the Geological Society of America, a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists and of the Geological Association of Canada, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.Perhaps the most striking feature of the symposium to honour Bill Mathews was the recognition of the breadth of his contributions. He calls himself a geomorphologist and Quaternary geologist, but the titles of his papers tell a different story. They tell of a man interested in everything at a fundamental and penetrating level, who has made important contributions to glaciology, volcanology, Tertiary tectonics, coal geology, mineral deposits, structural geology, geochronology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, engineering geology, and marine geology. It is very rare to find such a person, who can carry on a high-level scientific conversation with any specialist in the subdisciplines of the Earth sciences. Most of us are content to struggle with some mastery of a single subdiscipline, but Bill's curiosity reaches into every corner. This catholicity of interest has been a wonderful stimulus for his graduate students, undergraduate students, and colleagues.The four papers that follow this introduction were presented at the symposium and are kept together in this issue of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences as a tribute to Bill Mathews and in recognition of the astonishing range of his interests and contributions. We are pleased to celebrate in this way his return to full-time research after a career of combining his research with the full-time work of a distinguished professor.As is always the case, many of Bill's scientific friends could not produce a manuscript and symposium lecture in time to appear in this issue. Without exception, however, they join us in our applause of Bill Mathews' distinguished and continuing scientific career.