Archibald Cockburne Bain, BA’42

Archibald BainArchie was born in Vancouver on October 31, 1919, and passed away on June 4, 2010. After receiving his BA and subsequent teacher training in 1942, Archie enlisted in the RCAF. During a short Christmas break, he married fellow student Jean Anderson, BA’40, Dip (Soc WK)’41 on December 24, 1942. Specialized radar training followed immediately at MIT Barton and Corpus Christie, Texas. He was then posted with one other Canadian radar technician to a remote RAF station at Cruden Bay in Scotland.

Archie’s five years at UBC were rewarding ones because of the many activities he enjoyed, including the Players Club, Debating Society, History Club, Social Problems Club, Student Christian Movement, and student politics. In first year, he took the lead in Playboy of the Western World, then several other roles such as Lord Bingley in Pride and Prejudice, followed by some directing – Trojan Women, for one. In his graduate year, the Players Club alumni had Archie do an evening of Shakespeare readings with the visiting young Leonard Bernstein –  this memorable event was in honour of Leonard, friend of the prominent Buckerfield family. Leonard and Archie made a handsome pair indeed. These extra-curricular activities earned Archie a Literary and Scientific Executive Honorary Award.

At war’s end, after teaching for a year in Vancouver schools, Arch made a complete career change. Remarkably, with no farming experience, he decided to apply under the Veteran’s Farm Act to purchase an ocean front acreage in Greater Victoria, an area later becoming Central Saanich. This was a bulb-growing area at the time, and Archie became acquainted with the Saanich Penninsula Bulb Growers Association, who employed him as secretary-manager and encouraged him to try to make a go as a bulb grower. This led to building greenhouses and starting the first tropical plant business on Vancouver Island. Archie Bain tropical plants soon began to appear in government and business offices, florist shops throughout the Island, supermarkets and in shipments to the western provinces.

Throughout, Arch continued a lifelong interest in acting, singing and music, and playing guitar and piano. He took several roles in the Victoria Theatre Guild such as The Heiress, and Chekhov’s Marriage Proposal –  both plays winning Drama Festival Awards. There were also singing roles in the Victoria Operatic Society, such as Annie Get Your Gun, Oklahoma and South Pacific. Music played a big part in Jean and Archie’s home life with their three daughters, Lynne, Lesley and Jill who graduated from the University of Victoria. Lesley and Jill later attended UBC for graduate studies in social work and art history. With a strong belief in the value of any kind of education, they established a scholarship at UVic in social work with a child welfare specialty.

Because the UBC auditorium holds so  many memories, a donation was made for its refurbishment, thus putting Archie’s name on one of the beautiful new seats in 2010.

There had been time for travel, often with family, to the UK, Europe, Turkey, Buenos Aires, the United States and Mexico. Truly, Archie found a remarkable and rich balance in life, as student, entrepreneur, actor, musician and much-loved family man. He will be missed forever.

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