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Geologist

Brock, Lieutenant-Colonel Reginald Walter

  • CA-BC-RWB001
  • Pessoa
  • January 10, 1874 - July 30, 1935

Reginald Brock was a geologist, army officer and university professor born in Perth, Ontario to Reverend Thomas Brock and Marian Jenkins. While studying at the University of Toronto, he served as a summer field assistant to Robert Bell, chief geologist of the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC). He later graduated from the Queen’s College School of Mining and Agriculture with an MA in geology and medals in chemistry and mineralogy. In 1897, he received a permanent employment to the GSC, becoming head of the organization in 1907.

In 1900 he married Mildred Gertrude Britton in Kingston, Ontario; they had five sons – Patrick Willet, Byron Briton, David Hamilton, Thomas Leith, and Philip ‘Pip’ Gilbert.

During the First World War, Brock served as an officer in the 72nd Battalion (Seaforth Highlanders) before becoming major of the 196th (Western Universities) Infantry Battalion. He was later transferred to the 19th and 15th Reserve Battalions. Brock’s accomplishments during this period included heading a college of the Khaki University of Canada and serving as a geological intelligence officer in Palestine.

After the War, Brock became Professor of Geology and Dean of Applied Sciences at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Throughout the 1920s and 30s he pursued fieldwork in remote regions such as China, Fiji, Scandinavia, and Hong Kong. These decades also saw the family seek refuge from their busy lives at a much nearer getaway – Alta Lake. Beginning in 1929, the family spent summers at their cottage, the Primrose, constructed by Bert Harrop at the southwest corner of the lake.

On July 30th 1935, Reginald boarded a Pioneer Airways flight from Vancouver to Gunn Lake. The plane stopped to pick up Mildred at Alta Lake and then attempted to take off again. However, pilot William McCluskey could not gain proper altitude and had to bank sharply to avoid the treeline. The plane crashed on the old Pemberton Trail, about 400 yards south of Mons Creek. Reginald Brock and McCluskey were killed instantly. Milred and passenger David Sloan survived the initial crash but later died of their injuries.

The death of the Brocks was major news in Vancouver. Reginald received a military funeral, and Brock Hall at UBC was named in his honour.