Robert Daniel McCaw
1884 - 1941
Robert Daniel McCaw was born on May 24, 1884, in Welland, Ontario. He was the eldest of four sons of John and Fannie McCaw. His early education was in Welland, however, he also took a correspondence course through an institute in the USA.
In 1903 McCaw was articulated to the surveyor George Ross and later Edward Gardiner. In February 1907 he received his Ontario Land Surveyors Commission and entered into partnership with George Ross and in 1909 he received his Dominion Land Surveyors Commission. Later that year the partnership dissolved and McCaw was given work under Arthur Wheeler, topographer for the Department of the Interior, on examination of lands in the Railway Belt in British Columbia, with headquarters in Calgary. He received his Alberta Land Surveyors Commission and then in 1910 after Wheeler's resignation from the Department of the Interior, McCaw was placed in charge of the work in the Railway Belt. In 1911 he left this work to go on land surveys in Northern British Columbia, again under Wheeler, who was located at Sidney, Vancouver Island.
In 1912, McCaw received his British Columbia Land Surveyors Commission and became a member of the firm Wheeler, Campbell and McCaw. He was then engaged in road location on the West Coast of Vancouver Island for the Public Works Department in Victoria during the years 1912 and 1913. In 1913 he made a photo-topographical survey along the route of the Banff-Windermere Highway for the Public Works Department of British Columbia and also married Ethel McConnell. In 1914 the firm of Wheeler, Campbell and McCaw was dissolved, and in May of that year McCaw began to make photo-topographical surveys for the Surveys Branch of the Department of Lands of the Province of British Columbia. He was the first to make such surveys for the Department.
On April 1, 1929, he was appointed a member of the permanent Provincial Civil Service. In 1935 and 1936, McCaw was working on Vancouver Island and the West Coast; in 1937 and 1938 he was on the Findlay River, and in 1939 was again on Vancouver Island and worked around Alberni in 1940 and 1941. During those two years he made ascents of many of the peaks surrounding the Kennedy River including Pogo Peak and Steamboat Mountain taking photo-topographical readings.
McCaw was on the Board of Management of the Corporation of British Columbia Land Surveyors in 1931 and 1932, Vice-President in 1933, President in 1934, and an ex-officio member in 1935.
It was through his association with Arthur Wheeler that McCaw first met Colonel William Foster, then British Columbia's Deputy Minister of Public Works. In 1912, the Victoria Section of the Alpine Club of Canada was formed with Foster as the Chairman which he held until 1915. McCaw then took over the Chairman's reins and held that position from 1916 to 1922.
Robert McCaw was working in the field during the summer of 1941 when he was taken ill and had to return to Victoria where he was given sick leave. It was thought he was on the road to recovering when he died on August 22, 1941, at the age of fifty-seven. On the west coast of Vancouver Island, McCaw Peninsula is named in his honour.