Matt Wuhr

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Matt Wuhr, ALS

Matt Wuhr was born in 1929 in Minto, New Brunswick where he lived throughout his early years graduating from high school in 1946 from the Minto Newcastle Consolidated School. After graduation, Matt worked for a while in the coal mines in Minto where he had often worked during his summer vacations from high school. He next had a brief stint as a mariner on a merchant ship plying between Europe and North America. He also worked for a while in a logging operation in the Queen Charlotte Islands off British Columbia but a falling log broke his ankle and that sent him back home to Minto to recover.

In November 1949, he joined the Topographical Survey of the then Department of Mines and Technical Surveys and spent two years working on various phases of topographic mapping both in the office and in the field. In 1951, he spent the summer in Newfoundland working under Howard Spence on mapping control.

In 1952, he jumped at the chance to go to the Northwest Territories with the Legal Surveys Division to work on the survey of the highway right-of-way west of Yellowknife. That summer he also worked on townsite surveys in Pine Point, NWT and some township subdivision surveys in Pigeon Lake Indian Reserve in Alberta. In the following years, still with Legal Surveys, Matt earned himself the reputation of being a bit of a prankster. While working with Lorne Anderson and Bob McCurdy on mineral claim surveys in the Yukon, he succeeded in setting the cook's alarm clock ahead during the night and then surreptitiously turning it back during the day so that the cook got the breakfast ready an hour early on several occasions.

His experiences on property surveys in the West convinced Matt that he wanted a career in land surveying. He immediately started studying for the Dominion Land Surveyor commission and successfully completed the examinations in 1956. In the same year, he also acquired his Alberta and Nova Scotia Land Surveyor commissions. In the years that followed, he certainly did have a most successful career as a land surveyor, working with the Legal Surveys Division until his retirement in September 1989.

He spent many summers doing settlement surveys in the arctic and surveying Indian Reserves and National Parks in Alberta and was never happier than when he was clambering up and down the Rocky Mountain peaks and foothills in western Alberta. It was during this era that the Division received a letter from a Banff Park official expressing high praise for Matt who, at considerable risk to himself, had recovered the body of a park visitor who had died in a climbing fall. In later years, he preferred to work in less arduous terrain and was assigned to surveys in his native Maritimes where he soon acquired both the Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick Land Surveyor commissions.

In 1979, Matt reluctantly gave up the pleasures of an outdoor life doing surveys. He returned to a sedentary position in Ottawa where he took on the task of evaluating the operational effectiveness and efficiency of completed survey projects that had been managed by the Division. Declining health obliged him to continue in this function until his retirement in 1989. Matt married Yvonne Gallant, also a native of Minto, New Brunswick in 1965 and had two sons, Matt Junior and Konrad.

Matt was at home in Ottawa with his family when he died peacefully on July 21, 1999 following a long struggle with cancer.

Bill Blackie