Alan James Campbell
1882 - 1967
Alan John (A.J.) Campbell was born on October 1, 1882 in Collingwood, Ontario. He attended Public Schools and Collegiate Institutes in Collingwood and during the school holidays he worked chiefly on ships as Collingwood was a ship building port, however, in 1901 he was a helper to a civil engineer in Sault Ste Marie. This led him to an interest in civil engineering and at the end of that summer he entered the School of Practical Science at the University of Toronto. He graduated in 1904 with a diploma in Civil Engineering and in the following year took a post graduate course specializing in Hydraulics and Strength of Materials, obtaining the degree of Bachelor of Applied Science.
Campbell found work on Township Subdivision in Northern Ontario but had aspirations to become a railway construction engineer so in 1905 he joined a Canadian National Railway party in Northern Ontario where he remained for two years. During this period he worked in the bush, summer and winter, and became instrument man and for a short time was in charge of a small party on a hydraulic survey. In 1908 he articled under W.J. Deans, a prominent Dominion Land Surveyor on Correction Surveys in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In the spring of 1909 he received his D.L.S. commission and in the summer of that year began work under Arthur Wheeler on Land Classification of the Railway Belt of British Columbia. It was during this time that he also met Robert McCaw and in 1911 the two worked with Wheeler in the vicinity of Tetachuck Lake (in Tweedsmuir Park.)
In 1912 Campbell received his British Columbia Land Surveyors Commission and went into partnership with Wheeler and McCaw and in 1913 located the road along the Kennedy River between Sproat Lake and Long Beach on Vancouver Island, however, the road wasn't constructed until 1956. The partnership lasted about one year and then Campbell started on work that developed into the major work of his career, photo-topographic mapping. Wheeler was appointed Commissioner for British Columbia on the BC/Alberta Boundary Commission in 1913 and he asked Campbell to take charge of the mapping operations, both in the field and office, which was located in Sidney, Vancouver Island. In the field season of 1914 Campbell made the first ascent of Mount Tyrwhitt with Rusty Westmorland and Conrad Kain. This mapping took twelve years to complete from 1913 to 1924. Campbell continued working in photo-topographical surveys until 1930 when this method of mapping was abandoned for a new technique using vertical air photos in combination with controlled ground pictures, a method evolved manly by Campbell.
In the depression year, 1932, all the Topographical Division except Campbell were cut off the pay list because of money shortage. That year he mapped in the vicinity of Schoen Lake and Victoria Peak. In 1933 there was even less money available for surveying, so Campbell, McCaw and Norman Stewart, rather than see their life work cut off offered to take to the field without pay, but supplied with field expenses. The field work would provide office work if and when the Topographic Division was re-established. At the end of the season this strategy paid off as funds were obtained and the Topographic Division re-instated. Campbell mapped all over BC until 1945 when he was given the task of surveying the BC/Yukon boundary, however, illness and subsequent surgery kept him at home for that year but over the next four years he completed the survey.
In the early 1950's he was involved with the legal survey of the Hart Highway at Summit Lake and then three years office work and drafting with the P.G.E. Railway Location Survey, where his early training in Northern Ontario was invaluable. In his later years Campbell would often come into the Mapping and Survey Branch of the Department of Lands to keep in touch with what was happening and talk with the younger surveyors. For him it was more than a job, it was his chief hobby.
Campbell spent more than fifty summers in the "bush" and in 1936 was elected a member of the Corporation of BC Land Surveyors and served as President in 1942. In 1956 he was made a life member. In 1910 he married Alvena Pengally and had three sons and one daughter.
It was said
in 1957 that "A.J." has probably climbed more peaks in the Canadian
Rockies than any other man, and that his wonderful physique and placid
nature carried him through the difficult task of surveying in the rugged
mountains. Arthur Wheeler with whom he was associated for many years claimed
that "A.J. was a born topographer, one who could see behind ridges.
He had one weakness though - his pipe, without which he is lost."
On December 24, 1967, in Victoria at the age of eighty-five Alan Campbell's
pipe went out for the last time.
of Life Members. Corporation of Land Surveyors of the Province of British
Columbia. Report of Proceedings of the Fifty-Second Annual General Meeting.
1957. Victoria, B.C. p. 69-71.