Geoffrey B. Leech, BASc’42

Geoffrey LeechGeoffrey was born in Montreal in 1918 and raised in Salmon Arm. His BASc in geology at UBC was followed by an MSc from Queen’s in 1944. Geoff spent the next two years with INCO at Copper Cliff and in exploration in Venezuela and southwest Yukon. During these years he married his life partner, Jean Winters. Following graduation from Princeton with a PhD in 1949, he joined the Geological Survey of Canada in Ottawa and spent 33 years in a productive career as a field geologist/research scientist. He became a respected expert in the geology of southeastern BC, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1960. During his field work, he discovered deposits of gypsum and magnesite (MgCO3) that subsequently became mines, still in production.

During the late 1930s, Geoff attended a BC government-sponsored course on gold placer mining on Emory Creek and nearby lower Fraser River. That experience enabled him more than 70 years later to critique a paper published in BC History in 2006, in which the author deplored the impact of gold dredging and supposed excessive use of toxic mercury along the Fraser near Emory Creek. Geoff argued in his well-documented critique that the alleged environmental destruction was simply not so. His paper will be published in 2013.

Geoff loved the mountains and the “bush,” and died peacefully walking in the woods west of Ottawa in April 2012 at age 93. In his honour, his extensive collection of geological publications has been donated to Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. His ashes have been scattered at the foot of Mount Brussilof, and a plaque with a prospector’s pick and the epitaph “with my boots on” has been placed in the Mount Ida Cemetery overlooking Salmon Arm.

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