Barney Thorvardur Stephanson was born in Elfros, Saskatchewan in 1918. He graduated from the Universities of Saskatchewan and Manitoba before joining the faculty of the University of Alberta in 1946 as a Professor of Agricultural Engineering. He retired from the University in 1983.
He married Ida Magwood in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1946, and together they had five children. He died in Edmonton in 1990.