Glen Alexander PATTERSON
23 September , 1921 – 15 May , 2018
Glen Alexander Patterson was born in Calgary Alberta in 1921. After serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II helping train pilots in the Commonwealth Air Training Plan, Glen married Isobel and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry and Commerce in 1947.
His first job was with Canadian Forest Products in the Nimpkish Valley of northern Vancouver Island, a place he described as a paradise with its snow-capped mountains and lush virgin forests. He worked as a Fire Warden, burning slash and maintaining forest fire equipment. He also did forestry projects as well: timber cruising, planting, pruning and thinning trials. Glen and Isobel stayed in the Nimpkish Valley for 9 years in isolation in remote Woss camp in an uninsulated house built on a gravel bar with a wood stove and were blessed with three healthy children: two boys and a girl: Dennis, Bruce, and Sheila.
Glen and Isobel loved gardening so he brought soil in from a swamp on the railroad line one sack at a time, eventually building up enough soil to grow a few vegetables, a lawn, and huge dinner plate size dahlias. He planted trees around the house which quickly grew and provided shade in the hot summers. Isobel was active in a Women’s Institute which brought in speakers and instructors from Vancouver and organized teas and bake sales. They also hosted priests from the Anglican Church from the Mission Ship Columbia or the United Church Mission Ship Thomas Crosby and a stream of other visitors. Glen cherished lifetime friends they made in those years.
In 1956, Glen was transferred to work in Canfor in Vancouver at a time when the company was expanding rapidly into northern BC and Alberta. He was offered the position of General Manager of Alberta operations based in Grande Prairie, where there were an integrated sawmill and plywood enterprise. He pioneered the use of small diameter timber which had been unused until then. It was a huge challenge bringing in a whole year’s supply of logs for the mills in only 100 bitterly cold days, building roads after freeze up and building ice bridges across rivers.
Although he then had no experience or training in management, Glen described those years building up the enterprise from a seemingly hopeless position to a very successful profitable business as the happiest days of his long forestry career, culminating in the negotiation of a 1,000 square mile Forest Management lease which ensured a long-term sustainable timber supply. He was also proud to have developed the best safety record in the industry in the process.
Continuing his lifelong career with Canfor, Glen moved to head office in Vancouver as President of Takla Forest Products, with two pulp mills in Prince George and again acquired adequate timber resources for lumber and pulp chips through a sustainable Tree Farm License, the last one to be granted in BC. He worked for Canfor for nearly 40 years until he retired in 1985.
That marked the beginning of another active life of over thirty years gardening, traveling, photographing nature and wildflowers and volunteering. He also kept in close touch with his 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
One of the highlights of his retirement years was giving up his large, and much celebrated and much-visited garden in West Vancouver to buy a condo in Coal Harbour in downtown Vancouver and downsize his gardening activity to a 2,000 square foot roof deck overlooking Coal Harbour, Stanley Park and the North Shore mountains. Glen called this initiative, undertaken at 80 years of age, ‘achieving new heights in gardening.’ He brought his favorite trees shrubs and perennials to the roof garden and built ponds and a waterfall for his koi fish and rocks for the habitation of his treasured alpine plant collection. The garden was built using ancient Japanese inspired techniques to bring, as he described it: “tranquility, peace and a feeling of true nature to this garden in the midst of a hectic urban environment.”
Glen plunged into a massive undertaking: dealing with the challenges of deck strengthening, rock walls for the ponds and garden, a suitable soil mix (primarily pumice, coconut fiber) and beginning root pruning two years ahead of the move of 35 tons of soil plants and rocks to the new rooftop garden. An automatic sprinkling system made the garden almost completely sustainable with little human effort required.
Glen became an enthusiastic and eloquent advocate of roof gardens for energy conservation provided by heat and cold insulation, the absorption of carbon dioxide and restoring of oxygen to the atmosphere, the storing of excess rainfall, harbouring birdlife and providing, as he described it: “beauty so badly needed in the noisy, ugly concrete jungles of the city.”
As Glen said years after its installation, the roof garden more than lived up to all expectations: a beautiful miniaturized replica of his much treasured West Vancouver garden, discrete lighting at night creating a magical effect. The garden was an oasis amidst the ever expanding concrete jungle below. With no lawns to mow, no slugs pests or weeds and only a little light pruning required, it was what he described as ‘a sustainable refuge perfect for one’s eighties.’
Glen’s exploration of new peaceful milieus in which to live did not stop in his eighties. His last move, in his nineties, was to Tapestry near his beloved UBC Botanical Garden and the Pacific Spirit Park, where Glen carefully installed a well-displayed wall of superb west coast First Nation artworks and selected succulent plants growing on tufa rocks on his balcony.
From Tapestry, he continued to travel the world on his own or in latter years accompanied by beloved family members on cruise ships to Denali, Alaska, the Northwest Passage, North America’s east coast for fall colours, photographic journeys exploring the slot canyons and petroglyphs of Utah, Colorado or Arizona or flying to Ottawa for the Tulip festival and in the winter months to his favourite Hawaiian Island of Maui, where he revelled in the views from Haleakala Crater and glimpses of the rare silversword cactus.
For all his 96 years, he expressed boundless joy and curiosity about the natural world, which he has explored from the remote far north, east and west with enthusiasm and a spirit of adventure, amassing a superb collection of National Geographic quality photos. He has been to Libya exploring antiquities, Kazakhstan and China to view exotic rhododendrons, climbing in the High Sierras of California to view Bristlecone Pines, Australia to see a still living stand of Wollemi pines that is 200 million years old and to the Atacama Desert in Chile to photograph Andean flamingoes, salt lakes and lava.
He maintained active internet research and correspondence, sending family and friends streams of articles and viewpoints from his eclectic internet research. Glen was active and independent to the end of his 96 years, attending daily personal training sessions as his ability to travel diminished.
We remember Glen for his intellect that never faded in his later years, his many pronouncements on diet, health and fitness, his fierce commitment to his numerous opinions, his shrewd investing, the utter joy he derived from photography and being in the mountains, especially the Rockies, his exquisite penmanship, his yearning for travel, being such a crazy cat person, his perfect pitch and passion for music, his steadfast commitment to his independence in the face of the vagaries of age and his lifelong grief over losing Isobel in 1971.
Throughout his life Glen has constantly passionately expressed his enthusiasm and gratitude for the gift of life and the rewards of hard work and being active. He has been an inspiration to his family and all who know him.
Our most sincere sympathies to the family and friends of Glen Alexander PATTERSON 2018.source