A Brief History of the Entomological Society of British Columbia*

by Peter Belton, Elspeth M. Belton, and H. R. MacCarthy, January 2000.

* Modified from Boreus 19(2), Dec 1999

The first meeting of the Entomological Society of BC was held on 13 Mar 1902 in Queen's School, now called Queen Alexandra's Elementary, on 10th Ave and Clark Drive in Vancouver where our first Secretary, Mr. (later Captain) R.V. Harvey was Principal. In 1901 the Dominion Entomologist, Dr. J. Fletcher, visited British Columbia to consult with an immigrant Scot, Mr. Tom Wilson, a farmer from Harrison who was running the Plant Inspection and Fumigation Station in Vancouver for the Government of Canada. Wilson introduced him to Harvey who was an amateur entomologist and they proposed forming a Society "to unify the work of those particularly interested in the study of insects in the province" (Wilson 1912).

The newly appointed Inspector of fruit pests, Mr. R. C. Treherne who at first worked out of the old Vancouver Court House, before moving to Agassiz, revived the Society with a meeting at Aberdeen School on 9 Dec 1911 (for 24 paid-up members). The next meeting recorded was not until 9 Jan 1913 in the Botany Room of the Parliament Building, Victoria. Tom Wilson, the President in 1912, gave a brief historical review in his address to the evening session (Wilson 1912). Also in this issue of the Proceedings there is a photo of 18 members, 17 of them identified. In the 1914 issue of the Proceedings (Number 4 N. S. Jan.1914), Treherne writes that the Meeting "on 23 - 24 Jan 1914 was the 13th Annual Meeting of the Society". Presumably the Executive or a few members got together in 1909, 1910 and early in 1912 to make up this number or perhaps Treherne included the summer meetings of the Society which appear to have been held in the Interior of the Province. It se ems most unlikely that such a meticulous Secretary could miscount by 3!

In 1932 R. Glendenning (1933) who replaced Treherne at the Dominion Experimental Farm at Agassiz, writing about some 'dusty ' old files of correspondence he obtained from the Plant Inspection Office in Vancouver, states that the Society was founded in 1901. He also refers to the Rules of the Society being adopted at the spring quarterly meeting in April 1902. Glendenning, who some of us remember well, was the witness to the application for our incorporation as a society under the Societies Act on 14 June 1923. The By-Laws of the Society were submitted as part of the application, and changes to them were made by Resolutions submitted to the Registrar of Companies, Victoria.

In the next piece of history we found, G. R. Hopping (1939) from Vernon mentions the 'original' document of the organisation of the Society. It was found in about 1938 by Francis Kermode, Director of the Provincial Museum which was originally in the Parliament Buildings. The document was dated 18 Jan 1902, and preceded the 1st Annual Meeting by 2 months making the Society 98 years old at the start of 2000.

Our 50th Anniversary was celebrated in Vol. 48 of the Proceedings, dated 1951, but not printed by the Editorial Committee until 15 Aug 1952. In accordance with Treherne's numbering, the meeting held on 14 June 1951 was called the 50th and a photograph of 53 members is included on p5 of that Volume. Some of them, including Don Chant, Ron Forbes, Doug Finlayson, Jack Gregson, Mac MacCarthy, Chet Nielson and Peter Zuk are sighted occasionally, and some of them are still interested in entomology nearly 50 years later! Volume 48 included historical papers covering our first half century by W. Downes (Vancouver Island), R. Glendenning (Lower Fraser Valley), E. P. Venables with E. R .Buckell (Interior of BC), J. D. Gregson (Ectoparasitic Arthropods), J. Marshall (Orchards), R. H. Handford ( Field Crops) and H F. Olds (Plant Quarantine). Several of them refer to the founding of the Society in 1901, but we believe that this was merely the year that the Dominion Entomologist, Dr. Fletcher met with Tom Wilson and Capt. Harvey, and between them suggested forming a Society.

We conclude that our Centennial Meeting will be in 2001 and that Vol 98 of the Journal will be our Centennial Number.

References:

  • Downes, W, 1952, Fifty years of entomology on Vancouver Island. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of British Columbia. (1951) 48: 9-16 (15 Aug 1952)
  • Glendenning, R., 1933, Notes on the life history of the Entomological Society of British Columbia. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of British Columbia. 30: 3-7
  • Hopping, GR, 1939, The Entomological Society of British Columbia. The Canadian Entomologist 71: 31-35 (Plate 14 reproduced the figure of the 19 Jan 1913 meeting in the Botany Room of Parliament Buildings, Victoria, from the 1912 Proceedings below).
  • Treherne, RC, 1914, Secretary-Treasurer's Report. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of British Columbia. 4(NS): 5-6
  • Wilson,T, 1912, Presidential Address. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of British Columbia. 2(NS): 74-77
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