Lorne Forster Swannell, BA’30, BASc’31 (Forest Engineering, Hons)

Lorne died peacefully in Victoria on May 18, 2011, in his 103rd year. He was predeceased by his wife, Grace, in 2004. Lorne, with the help of devoted caregivers, continued to live in his own home, exercising daily and attending the symphony, opera, ballet and charity events until his death.

Lorne was born September 2, 1908, to Frank and Ada Mary Swannell. Frank was a BC land surveyor who for many years recorded BC history in photographs.

Lorne Swannell 1908-2011
Lorne Swannell 1908-2011

Following Lorne’s early schooling in Victoria, he left for UBC in 1927. Living in a boarding house just outside the university gates gave Lorne and his house-mates ample opportunity for cross-country runs, ingraining in Lorne a lifelong passion for exercise. His classes developed in him a quest for knowledge in the arts, history, music, and science that continued to grow throughout his life.

After receiving his degrees, he began 41 years of service in the BC forest industry, rising from a survey crew rodman to chief forester of BC in 1963. After retiring in 1972, Lorne travelled as a consultant, taught at Camosun College and later became a student at the University of Victoria and Open University. Over the years, he received many honours and awards. On his 100th birthday in 2008, the province of BC created a bursary in his name at the University of Northern BC in recognition of his service to forestry.

Lorne joined the Armed Services in 1939, arrived in England 1940, and then served in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany until he was discharged at the end of the war with the rank of major (battery commander of the 2nd Survey Regiment, Royal Canadian Army). Returning to Canada, Lorne rejoined the BC Forest Service as assistant district forester at Prince George and was promoted to district forester in May 1947. In September 1949, Grace Wisenden became Lorne’s bride and lifelong companion. Strong believers in education in Canada and internationally, both Lorne and Grace will be well remembered for their generous donations to scholarships, charities and educational institutions over the years. Lorne believed money was “no good” unless it was being used to benefit society. Living this statement until his death was a testament to a life well lived with generosity.

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