Alfred George Slocomb
1906 - 1991
Alfred George Slocomb was born in Waterloo, Liverpool, England, on August 31, 1906. He came to Prince Rupert, B.C., as a child with his parents. After elementary school in Prince Rupert he attended high school and business college in Victoria. He was book-keeper for Shawnigan Lake Lumber Co 1926-27, and Junior Clerk for the District Forester's office, Prince Rupert 1927-29. He then joined the Surveys Branch, Victoria where between 1929 and 1931 Slocomb helped with compilations of air photos for the PGE Resources Survey under the supervision of Norman Stewart.
Slocomb continued working as an assistant instrument man for Stewart on topographical surveys in Strathcona Park for the field seasons 1935 to 1938. In April 1937, Slocomb passed the Preliminary B.C.L.S. exams and articled to Stewart. In 1939 and 1940 he was "instrument man" again for Stewart only this time in the Rocky Mountain Trench for the 100 mile span centered on Sifton Pass. Slocomb then passed his final exams in 1941 and again worked with Stewart for the field season. Stewart's Assistant Chief during those years was the Irish immigrant surveyor William Moffat, so he enjoyed the benign influence of two exemplary "seniors" at a critical time in his chosen career.
Slocomb enlisted in the Royal Canadian Airforce in December 1941. After qualifying as Lieutenant at the OTC, Gordon head, Victoria, he was an instructor in Eastern Canada and later went overseas. He was demobbed in February 1945 with the rank of Captain. This was early enough that year for him to take charge of triangulation on the Yukon Boundary Survey. In 1946, 1947 and 1948 he was in charge of topographical control surveys on the west coast of Vancouver Island from Flores Island northwest to Brooks Bay. On July 1, 1948, Slocomb succeeded Alan Campbell as Chief Topographic Division, holding that position until he retired in August 1971 after thirty-five years of service.
Slocomb witnessed vital changes in surveying technology such as: air photo mapping, air transport; both fixed and rotary wing; radio communications; electronic distance measuring and computations. Slocomb was President of the Victoria Branch of the British Columbia Historical federation around 1972, a member of the Provincial Council 1974 to 1979, and President 1976-77. Alf Slocomb, along with his wife Mabel, was a loyal parishioner of the old St. Luke Anglican Church in Victoria.
Although he was not particularly known as a mountaineer, Alfred Slocomb, in the course of his profession, climbed many peaks on Vancouver Island especially in Strathcona Park. In 1936 he made an ascent of Mount Colonel Foster claiming he had reached the highest point. He definitely reached the Southeast Summit and possibly reached the higher Southwest Summit. Although only about three metres lower than the main summit further to the north, it is hard to distinguish the difference as the peak one stands on has the optical illusion of being the higher. He also made an ascent of the Nootka Matterhorn (Conuma Peak) during the 1946-48 surveys on the west coast.
Alfred Slocomb died in Victoria on January 2, 1991, at the age of eighty-four. He was devoted to his surveying profession and his contribution to mapping in British Columbia was exemplary. Mount Slocomb, a prominent peak near Sifton Pass in the far north of British Columbia is a fitting memorial to the surveyor.
"Highest Peak on Vancouver Island." Comox Argus. [Courtenay, B.C.] (May 14, 1936) p. 1.
"Atop 'Unclimbed' Peak." Times Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (July 13, 1954) p. 1.
Corporation of Land Surveyors of the Province of British Columbia. Report
of Proceedings of the Eighty-Sixth Annual General Meeting. 1991. Victoria,
B.C. p. 16-17.