Born in Southampton, England, on August 18th, 1891, Wilf taught school in England before coming to Canada because of lung trouble in 1910. He worked with F.A. Wilkin, ALS, in 1912 and H.C. Stewart, DLS, in 1917 in British Columbia. He worked with W.J. Deans, DLS, in Manitoba and Saskatchewan in 1913.
Wilf stayed with an older brother in the Dafoe area north of Regina for some time, where he acted as secretary for the local council and also taught school. Journeying to Manitoba, Wilf again followed the teaching vocation in Riverton. It would seem, however, that he preferred land surveying as a career, because in 1919 through 1921 and from 1923 to 1932 he was employed with the Canadian Pacific Railway under J.L. Doupe.
The early years saw Wilf earning recognition in his chosen profession, first with his commission as a Dominion Land Surveyor on May 22nd, 1926, followed by his Alberta commission on February 28th, 1927, his Saskatchewan commission on October 3rd, 1927, his Manitoba commission on April 12th, 1928 and his British Columbia commission on April 15th, 1930.
The early years, in that more or less prosperous period following the Great War, were years of great expansion in railway branch lines throughout the West, providing the young surveyor with a crash-course of experience in the field and he learned well. Generally speaking the "tools of the trade" have improved vastly over the years with the application of optics and electronics, making for more accurate results and increased production. However, one tool remains and Wilf was past master in its proper use the sharp edged and well-polished shovel, prime factor in the continual pursuit of evidence. Those fortunate few of us who were introduced to the technique by the master will always remember the ability displayed reading the signs.
The post-war period of railway expansion ended with the Depression years, with a consequent reduction in survey personnel. When J.L. Doupe retired in 1932, Wilf was appointed chief surveyor of the Canadian Pacific Railway, however, the survey department was reduced drastically for a number of years. There was still a requirement for survey operations, which then became a case of filling out the manpower requirements of each job by borrowing from the local engineering staff on a day-to-day basis, and so it went until his own retirement in 1959. This was, however, a period which marked the development of other talents of great benefit to his company. His professional contacts with all provincial land registry staffs and fraternal association with the members of the provincial organizations provided opportunities to present the railway's construction and revision plans to the proper authorities in the proper manner, greatly facilitating the documentation of the surveys for both parties. Wilf was appointed right-of-way and lease agent for the company on January 1st, 1951.
Throughout his career he maintained an active interest in the affairs of all the associations. He served as president in his home province of Manitoba in 1946; was president in Saskatchewan in 1938; was president in Alberta in 1944; but his proudest moment was in Ottawa, when he was honoured as president of the Canadian Institute of Surveying in 1950-1951.
Following his retirement in 1959, he continued to reside in Winnipeg devoting his well earned leisure to his interests of good music, good books and good friends.
He passed away on February 9, 1978 at the age of 86.
Prepared by R. Grahame Cairns, MLS, SLS, ALS, BCLS