- September 11, 1914 - 1999
Hugh Aikens was born on September 11, 1914 in Port Arthur (Thunder Bay), Ontario. Later in life he was nicknamed ‘Torchy’ because of his red hair. In 1919, the Aikens family moved to Vancouver. As a teenager growing up in the middle of the Depression, Hugh got a job with Cleland-Kent Engraving Company, Ltd. to help support his parents and four siblings. He worked for Cleland-Kent for the next 51 years, first as a delivery boy, and then as a trained photoengraver and electrotyper. In the early 1930’s, Hugh’s love of the outdoors drew him to Hollyburn Mountain. Within a couple of years, he became a partner in a cabin with Johnny Gibson and Ray Smith, a family friend. Hugh’s passion for photography developed during this period. Hugh joined the Canadian Army Engineers in 1941 or 1942. In 1943, both Hugh and his close friend, Bill Irwin (a renowned skier and ski jumper from Princeton), qualified as trainers in mountain warfare. This training took place near Jasper, Alberta. While in the Rockies, the regiment learned to ski and climb under harsh mountain conditions. After WW II, Hugh returned to Vancouver. He again took up the ‘Hollyburn lifestyle’ that involved summer hiking, winter skiing, and socializing with other cabin people on the Ridge. He was rarely seen without a camera. Around this time, Hugh became an account executive for Cleland-Kent. Hugh shared his Hollyburn cabin with Bea and Eric MacIntosh (sister & brother-in-law), and Naomi Wilson, (who later married Bud MacInnes). The cabin was appropriately called “Pack-Em-Inn”. In 1947, Hugh and his younger brother, Bert (still in high school), moved to Mt. Seymour where they leased a B.C. Forestry site and built a cabin. Around the same time, Hugh added a movie camera to his collection of photographic equipment. In the late 1940’s, Joyce Hall began to join Hugh on Seymour outings. They were married in 1950. During the next half-century, Hugh and Joyce spent much of their free time in the mountains. Garibaldi Provincial Park, Mt. Seymour, Mt. Hood, and the Canadian Rockies were among their favourite destinations. Both Joyce and Hugh became active members of the BC Mountaineering Club and the Vancouver Natural History Society. Hugh ‘Torchy’ Aikens passed away in 1999. Joyce died a year later.