Norman Charles Stewart
1885 - 1965
Norman Charles Stewart was born in Algoma County, Ontario, on January 9, 1885. In 1888 he moved to Vancouver with his family and then to Nelson in 1896 where he completed his high school education. In 1906 he enrolled in the School of Practical Science at the University of Toronto and obtained a diploma in Civil Engineering with Honours in 1909, and a Bachelor of Applied Science degree, again with Honours, in 1911. In 1912 he qualified as a Dominion Land Surveyor and then returned to British Columbia and obtained his Commission as a Land Surveyor.
Until 1930, when he joined the Topographical Surveys Division of the British Columbia Department of Lands, Stewart was engaged in private practice in many parts of the province, including work in 1924 on the Alberta - British Columbia boundary survey under Arthur Wheeler who was then Commissioner for British Columbia.
During the depression years of 1932-1933, many surveyors found themselves unemployed, however, in 1933 Stewart, Alan Campbell and Robert McCaw, rather than see their life work cut off, offered to take to the field without pay, but supplied with field expenses.
From 1934 to 1938 Stewart was in-charge of the survey of Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island. Stewart was assisted by William Moffat, another British Columbia Land Surveyor who had immigrated to Canada from Ireland in 1912 and Alfred Slocomb, who was in the process of becoming a commissioned land surveyor. Together Stewart, Slocomb and Moffat took photo-topographical triangulation readings from the top of many of the park's mountains and in the process gave nomenclatures to numerous unnamed peaks.
1934 saw Stewart and Moffat surveying the eastern boundary of Strathcona Park. Stations were made by Moffat on the summit of Mount Albert Edward in July while Stewart was on Alexandra Peak and then they began moving south along the ridge towards the Comox Glacier. It was during the survey in 1935 that Stewart wrote in a report: " an unnamed peak near the headwaters of the Wolf Creek, Strathcona Park, has an altitude greater than any other so far recorded on Vancouver Island." Stewart later found the peak had been given the name Rooster's Comb (Golden Hinde) on a manuscript map of the area, drawn by W.W. Urquhart of the 1913-1914 survey. However, unbeknownst to Stewart was fact that Urquhart, W.R. Kent and Einar Anderson had made an ascent of the mountain sometime in 1913 or 1914. Stewart surveyed many other of the island's mountain regions taking readings from summits such as Big Den Mountain, Abco Mountain, Mount Cotter, Mariner Mountain, Lone Wolf Mountain and many more.
As the surveying of Strathcona Park continued on into 1936, they surveying party found themselves at the base of the Roosters Comb. Norman Stewart and his assistant Dan Harris were eager to reach the top and confirm this as the island's highest mountain. On July 21 they reached the summit and upon returning to camp found a party of climbers from Courtenay, which included Sid Williams, Geoffrey Capes and young Roger Schjelderup, who had the intention of climbing the Roosters Comb.
In 1946 Stewart supported the historian and fellow surveyor Captain Richard P. Bishop's suggestion that the mountain should have a more fitting name than the Rooster's Comb which gave it a barnyard, down to earth flavour. Bishop had put forward the name Golden Hinde for the mountain after Sir Francis Drake's flagship which had sailed up the west coast of North America. Their combined effort eventually convinced the British Columbia Geographic Board to accept the Golden Hinde as the official name.
Norman Stewart was Surveyor-General and Director of Surveys and Mapping from 1946-1951; and also British Columbia Boundary Commissioner. He was a Life Member of the association of Professional Engineers of British Columbia, and in 1962 was elected to Life Membership in the Corporation of British Columbia Land Surveyors.
Norman Stewart died in Victoria on June 19, 1965, at the age of eighty leaving his wife Muriel, two daughters and six grandchildren.
"Highest Peak on Vancouver Island." Comox Argus. [Courtenay, B.C.] (May 14, 1936.) p. 1.
"Highest Peak on Island." Comox Argus. [Courtenay, B.C.] (May 21, 1936.) p. 3.
"Will Locate Roosters Comb." Comox Argus. [Courtenay, B.C.] (June 18, 1936.) p. 5.
Nichols, Robert H. "The Golden Hinde." The Island Events. (July, 1946.)
Aitken, Major G. G. A Memorandum to the Prime Minister, February 11, 1946. On microfiche in the B.C. Archives and Records Service.
Stewart, N. C. " Topographical Surveys, Vancouver Island." Report of the Minister of Lands. Sessional Papers. B.C. 1939, Vol. 2. p. Y 29-Y 31.
Stewart, N. C. " Topographical Surveys, Vancouver Island." Report of the Minister of Lands. Sessional Papers. B.C. 1937, Vol. 1. p. O 30-O 32.
Stewart, N. C. " Topographical Surveys, Vancouver Island." Report of the Minister of Lands. Sessional Papers. B.C. 1936. p. EE 29-EE 31.
Obituary. Corporation of
Land Surveyors of the Province of British Columbia. Report of Proceedings
of the Sixty-First Annual General Meeting. 1966. Burnaby, B.C. p. 88.