Class Acts

A Memorable Paddle

A Memorable Paddle
Photo: Dawn-Marie Barreira

While some of us worked on our tans over the summer, Sean McBeath, BASc’13, Dion Maxwell and Liam Fisher were busy preparing for a memorable journey. On July 20, 2013, the trio kayaked from Victoria to False Creek to honour Sean’s late friend, and mentor, Tyler Lewis, and raise funds for the foundation created in his memory. Tyler – a UBC engineering PhD candidate, gifted researcher and avid outdoorsman – died in a skiing accident in 2012.

Training for the voyage was rigorous. On‑water training typically lasted two to three hours, with longer sessions running six to nine hours. Dry‑land training included gym sessions three to four times per week, running, cycling, yoga and swimming multiple times a week.

The non‑stop, arduous expedition had its challenges – the 135‑km distance, paddling in the dark, nutrition maintenance, and strong tidal currents. “There was a point where we were paddling as hard as we could, and just barely creeping forward,” says Sean. The team prevailed, making the crossing in 16 hours and 46 minutes, raising more than $17,000 for the Tyler Lewis Clean Energy Research Foundation.

What’s next for the team? “We don’t want to give too much away, but there’s been talk of circumnavigating Vancouver Island,” says Sean. For more information about the foundation, visit

The Ride Continues

The Ride ContinuesTrek readers lauded Michael Schratter, BEd’99, MEd’07, for sharing his inspirational story in the 2012 spring/summer issue. The article recounted how, after years of attempting to hide his bipolar disorder, Michael decided to tackle the stigma and ignorance surrounding mental illness head‑on by riding his bike around the world to raise awareness.

Michael cycled the equatorial distance of 40,000 km over 16 months, riding through 33 countries on six continents and raising over $100,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association BC (CMHA BC).

Since then, Michael and CMHA BC have worked tirelessly to take the program, known as Ride Don’t Hide, to the next level. Last year, Ride Don’t Hide held its first Greater Vancouver community ride. Approximately 500 riders participated, raising over $75,000 for CMHA BC. A big break came last year when Shoppers Drug Mart signed on as the title sponsor, and this year 2000 riders participated in 13 community Ride Don’t Hide events across BC (and a 14th community ride in North York, ON). The campaign raised over $500,000 for CMHA programs for women and families.

On a personal note, Michael still loves his job working as a teacher for the Vancouver School Board and last year he married his fiancée, Deborah So. They recently purchased a home and are expecting their first child this November.

On Sunday, June 22, 2014, there will be Ride Don’t Hide in a community near you. For more information, visit

A Freezeway for Edmonton

Edmonton Freezeway
Artwork by Matt Gibbs

Imagine ditching your car and your stressful rush‑hour commute, donning a pair of ice skates, and gliding to work on a crisp winter’s day in Edmonton. That’s exactly what Matt Gibbs, MLA’13, proposes with his award‑winning design – the Freezeway. The Freezeway, is an 11‑km year‑round greenway that serves as a cycling path in the summer and converts into one of the world’s first curbside skating lanes in the winter. His novel design, which began as his master’s thesis, recently won top prize in the Center for Outdoor Living Design’s 2013 Coldscapes international design competition. “Canadians (with many exceptions) often begrudgingly loathe the coming of the season,” says Gibbs. Accordingly, his design combats the typical sedentary nature of the winter season by simultaneously promoting winter programming, active lifestyles, sustainable forms of transportation, social activity and an iconic identity for the City of Edmonton. The Edmonton born‑and‑raised landscape architect has shared the idea with some staff and council members of the City of Edmonton and is hopeful that his concept will fit into the City’s vision for the future.

Conquering the Channel

Conquering the Channel
Photo: Ian Macmillan

In August, Michael Stamhuis, BASc’76, and four team members from the Okanagan Masters Swim Club completed a remarkable feat of endurance: swimming the English Channel in 13 hours and 41 minutes.

Taking turns to swim for one‑hour intervals, they had to contend with frigid and rough waters, jellyfish, strong tidal currents, and freighters. Michael says the biggest challenge was the preparation beforehand, specifically the cold water training. To qualify, each member had to complete a two‑hour swim in 15 degree water without a wet suit. “Training in the spring in Okanagan Lake when it was 12 or 13 degrees Celsius was probably the hardest!” says Michael.

Michael recently competed in the 2013 World Masters Games in Torino, Italy, winning gold in 200 free, 200 back and 100 free, and bronze in 400 free. He set two new Canadian records in his age group (60‑64) at the BC Masters Swimming Championships in Vancouver. Michael’s next challenge will be the 2014 World Masters Aquatics Championships in Montreal.

Library Dues

Emeritus Professor John “Jack” Foster from Queen’s University Belfast’s Institute of Irish Studies recently found a book of poetry by Victorian Arthur Hugh Clough after returning to Vancouver and clearing out a locker at UBC, where he had worked in the department of English for a number of years. The due date stamp reads October 11, 1966. Luckily for him, the McClay Library in Ireland waived the £8,577.50 fine owing, and he won an unexpected 15 minutes of fame with the story being relayed via several national newspapers. “I suppose the moral of the story if you discover an overdue book is make sure it’s really, really overdue before you think about returning it,” he said.

Trek Tracker

DC3 Wreck, Iceland - Jens PreshawJens Preshaw, BHK’94, BEd’96, took this shot of himself with the last issue in Seljalandsfoss, Iceland. “I’ve always longed to visit the land of fire and ice,” he says. “I finally had the chance this summer. The volcanoes, geysers, fumaroles, glaciers, waterfalls, Icelandic horses and funky churches make it difficult not to be touched by the island’s awesome beauty.” You can see more of Jens’ photography at

Rob Ward - Trek Tracker Rob Ward, LLM’85, sent in this photo from sunny Cyprus.


Last Man Standing, The Life of Smokey Smith, VC, 19142005 is a recently published book by Thomas Glen Lockhart, BA’57. Smokey Smith was a hero of WWII and Canada’s last surviving recipient of the Victoria Cross.


Jagdev (Jag) Dhillon, MSc’66, has been elected as a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) – the highest award the Institute can give to a planner. After receiving his Master of Science degree in community and regional planning, he was awarded a certificate of distinction by the Town Planning Institute of Canada for outstanding achievement. His master’s thesis was: The Zoning Board of Appeal: A Study of Its Role in the Implementation of Municipal Planning Policy in British Columbia. Dhillon has been a Member of CIP since 1967.

Peter MacLaurin, BEd’67, Dip(Ed)’95, and Dianne E. MacLaurin (née McBride), BEd’67, met in 1961 at UBC Summer Session. On July 5, 2013, they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at home on Quadra Island.


After seeing his first subalpine meadow almost 40 years ago, botanist Jim Pojar’s dream of writing a book about alpine flowers has been realized. Published by Lone Pine Publishing, Alpine Plants of British Columbia, Alberta & Northwest North America, was written primarily by Pojar, PhD’74, with editorial assistance from his friend, Andy MacKinnon, and contributions from three other botanists: his wife, Rosamund, Curtis Bjork and Hans Roemer. In the intervening years, Pojar worked for the BC Ecological Reserves Program and the Research Section of the BC Ministry of Forests, where he became a highly respected field botanist/ecologist, working on the further development and refinement of the BC Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem Classification system. He has written and published numerous scientific articles, reports and plant field guides, including Plants of Coastal BC (also co‑written with Andy MacKinnon and others) with 250,000 copies sold to date, and co‑authored the companion books, Plants of Northern BC and Plants of the Western Boreal Forest and Aspen Parkland. Pojar’s joy in writing these guide books is having the opportunity to share his knowledge as well as his passion and love of plants with others.

Exciting times lie ahead for Susie Nute, BEd’74, (née Jung) and her husband. In November, they’ll attend convocation for their youngest son, Thomas Nute, BEd’13, and in April 2014, their oldest son and his wife are expecting the family’s first grandchild.

P.W. Bridgman, BA’74, MA’83, LLB’87, recently released his book of short stories, Standing at an Angle to My Age. The book explores universal themes of forgiveness and redemption, of love and loss, of hope and hopelessness and darkness and light. Set mainly in Canada, Ireland and England, the stories cut across broad expanses of time, space, culture and circumstance.

March of Dimes Canada President and CEO Andria Spindel, MSW’74, was awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa from Guelph‑Humber University on June 17, 2013, for her tireless work in helping to create a more inclusive and accessible society for Canadians living with disabilities. The previous year, she was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal for her work with March of Dimes Canada and other voluntary organizations. Spindel joined Ontario March of Dimes in 1981 as executive director.

Tim Frick, BPE’75, MEd’80, has been inducted into the 2013 Basketball BC Hall of Fame. Frick is well known for his longstanding coaching career on Canada’s basketball wheelchair teams, including the BC Breakers Women’s Provincial Team and the Canadian Women’s Wheelchair Basketball National Team, who have won seven gold medals combined at both the Paralympic and World Championships under his tutelage.

Douglas Bing, BSc’76, DMD’77, retired after 36 years as a dentist and ran for the BC Liberal party for a seat in the provincial legislature. Bing, who was serving his third term as a Pitt Meadows City Councillor, is now the BC Liberal MLA for Maple Ridge‑Pitt Meadows electoral district.

On November 16, 2013, UBC Electrical and Computer Engineering professor Victor Leung, BASc’77, PhD’82, was inducted as a Fellow into the Royal Society of Canada – the highest honour a scholar can achieve in the arts, humanities and sciences in Canada. As a world leader in research on wireless communication networks, his research has advanced the adoption of wireless networks in the fields of healthcare, transportation and energy, for the betterment of society.

For almost 20 years, Ben Heppner, BMus’79, LLD’97, has fantasized about hosting Saturday Afternoon at the Opera – On September 7, 2013, his fantasy became reality. The highly acclaimed Canadian tenor is the new host of CBC Radio 2’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera and Backstage with Ben Heppner. Radio has been part of the Grammy and Juno-award winner’s life since he was a child – opening new worlds to him beyond his hometown in Dawson Creek, BC, and introducing him to a world that eventually included opera.


Mason Loh, BCom’82, LLB’83, was awarded the Governor General Caring Canadian Award, which recognizes Canadians who have made significant, sustained, unpaid contributions to their community in Canada or abroad. Loh has devoted over 30 years to a broad range of causes including the promotion of cross‑cultural understanding and the establishment of the first regulatory system for the professional practice of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine in North America within BC.

It’s been a good year for writer and freelance journalist Marjorie Simmins, BA’84. In May, she won gold at the Atlantic Journalism Awards for her article on Canadian actor and comedian Shaun Majumder featured in Halifax’s Progress magazine. The article chronicles his fascinating life story and his efforts to build a five‑star eco‑hotel in his home town of Burlington, NFLD, as an economic driver for a declining rural community. And in June, Vancouver‑raised Simmins received word that her memoir, Coastal Lives, which describes the 15‑year process of becoming a Maritimer, has been accepted by Pottersfield Press for spring 2014 publication.

On May 11, 2013, The Hon. Steven Point, LLB’85, LLD’13, received the Doctor of Sacred Letters from Saint Mark’s College. Reverend Dr. Mark Hagemoen, Principal of Saint Mark’s College and President of Corpus Christi College, said: “The Honourable Steven Point is an inspirational Catholic and First Nations leader who played a key role to bridge the cultural and generational needs of the peoples and citizens of BC and Canada and provide for the spiritual vitality of peoples of all faiths.” Point served as the first aboriginal lieutenant governor in the history of BC, the Chief of the Skowkale First Nation, Tribal Chair of the Stó:lō Nation, and Chief Commissioner of the BC Treaty Commission. He graduated from UBC Faculty of Law, living in residence at Saint Mark’s College during his studies. In 1999, Point became a Provincial Court judge and served as Lieutenant Governor of BC from 2007 to 2012. In 2000, he received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of the Fraser Valley. Most recently, he served as chair of the advisory committee on the safety and security of vulnerable women.

Winona Kent, MFA’85, recently published her fourth novel, Persistence of Memory – a mystery, love story and speculative novel about accidental time travel that combines the language, humour and manners of Jane Austen’s era with charming characters and colourful storytelling. Kent’s breakthrough in short fiction came many years ago when she won first prize in the Flare magazine Fiction Contest with her short story about an all‑night radio newsman, Tower of Power. Her spy novel, Skywatcher, was a finalist in the Seal Books First Novel Competition. Kent has been a freelance writer for assorted newspapers and magazines, a temporary secretary in London, UK, a travel agent and the managing editor of Prism International. After a career that’s included freelance articles, long and short fiction, screenplays and TV scripts, she’s now returned to her first love, novels. Writing is her passion. She currently lives in Vancouver and works as a graduate programs assistant at UBC.

John MacKay, BA’87, is professor of Slavic languages and literatures and film studies, and chair of the Film Studies Program at Yale University. He received his PhD in comparative literature from Yale in 1998 and became a full professor in 2008. John is the author of four books – Inscription and Modernity: From Wordsworth to Mandelstam; Four Russian Serf Narratives; True Songs of Freedom: Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Russian Culture and Society; and the forthcoming Dziga Vertov: Life and Work – and has published articles in numerous journals and essay collections. Along with teaching a wide variety of courses on cinema, media, literature, theory and Russian culture at Yale, he has also lectured in many places in the US, Canada, and Europe. Co‑founder of the Working Group in Marxism and Cultural Theory at Yale’s Whitney Humanities Center, MacKay lives in a lively household in New Haven, Connecticut.


Claire Wilkshire, PhD’97, published her first novel, Maxine, in March 2013. Wilkshire is a freelance writer, editor, teacher and translator in St. John’s, NFLD.

After her friends urged her to write down events from her life because they sounded so interesting, Gudrun Honig, BA’97, enrolled in a UBC Continuing Studies journal writing course. She recently published her first book, My Journey to the New World – an autobiography recounting her life during World War II and her subsequent emigration from Germany to Canada.

Alan Woo, BA’99, has won the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Award from the BC Book Prizes for his first book, Maggie’s Chopsticks, published by Kids Can Press.


Naben Ruthnum, BA’o4, has been named a finalist in the Writers’ Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize.

Since graduating, Ricky Shetty, BA’01, has gone from being a student, to an alumnus, to a worker and to a published author. After launching his blog, Daddy Blogger, his book, Wisdom from Daddies, was released on Father’s Day 2013.

Doretta Lau, BFA’01, BA’03, has been named a finalist in the Writers’ Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize.

Warren Smith, LLB’03, Managing Partner, The Counsel Network, has been elected as president of the National Association of Legal Search Consultants – North America’s largest industry association for legal recruitment. Smith is the first Canadian and the youngest person to lead the nearly 200‑member organization and is also heavily involved with the UBC Law School Alumni Board.

Kendall Titchener, BA’10, works for the Calgary Stampede in the events and entertainment department. Weeks after Calgarians experienced a devastating flood that immobilized their city, Titchener and her team worked relentlessly to ensure that the show would go on. Although hit by one of Canada’s largest natural disasters, community spirit prevailed and attendance records were broken at several of Titchener’s events – including the family event in which she arranged for 20 families to meet astronaut and Stampede parade marshal, Chris Hadfield. Titchener described the 2013 Stampede as an opportunity of a lifetime and was grateful and humbled to be a part of it.


Daniel Wood, BA’12, met his girlfriend, Jayde Wood (née Wang), BSc’11, in the Chem 100 lecture hall in 2007 during a chemistry 101 midterm. Six delightful years later they are now married and enroute to finishing their second degrees.


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  1. […] Magazine Click here to view the original Article Photo: Dawn-Marie Barreira via UBC’s Trek […]

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