1970s

Water Birds

UBC 8 in Coal Harbour, summer of 1970 (L-R) Mike Conway (coxswain), Edgar Smith, Karel Jonker, Rod Bell Irving, Mike Neary, Ian Gordon, Doug McKegney, Benj Clark, Bob Advent
UBC 8 in Coal Harbour, summer of 1970 (L-R) Mike Conway (coxswain), Edgar Smith, Karel Jonker, Rod Bell Irving, Mike Neary, Ian Gordon, Doug McKegney, Benj Clark, Bob Advent

Back Row (L-R): Doug Cox, Bryce Leigh, Milton Stevenson, Trevor Josephson, John Richardson, Doug McKegney, Edgar Smith, Sandy Manson, Karel Jonker. Middle Row (L-R): Ian Hunt (coxswain), Benj Clark, John Rogers, Ian Gordon, Jack Nelson, John Wilkinson. Front Row: (coxswain) Mike Conway. 
Missing from photo but in attendance: (Coach) Alan Roaf
Back Row (L-R): Doug Cox, Bryce Leigh, Milton Stevenson, Trevor Josephson, John Richardson, Doug McKegney, Edgar Smith, Sandy Manson, Karel Jonker. Middle Row (L-R): Ian Hunt (coxswain), Benj Clark, John Rogers, Ian Gordon, Jack Nelson, John Wilkinson. Front Row: (coxswain) Mike Conway. 
Missing from photo but in attendance: (Coach) Alan Roaf

Last summer, members of the 1970-74 Thunderbird rowing crews met for the first time in over 40 years. Held at the lakeside Whistler home of crew member Karel Jonker, BA’72, and his wife Karen Jonker, BEd’73, on August 20, the reunion was a chance for these sporty alumni to reminisce about their shared experiences, on and off the water. Attendees included competitors from the World Rowing Championships (1970), Pan American Games (1971) and the Olympics (1968, 1972, and 1976).

The idea for a reunion came from an exchange between rower Dr. Trevor Josephson, BA’73, and former coach Dr. Peter Klavora, MPhysEd’72. Once the idea spread to other team members, enthusiasm was quick to build. “Rowers develop a special bond,” says Josephson. “I think because the training is so intense, and we focus completely on teamwork as the very nature of the sport.”


Charting the Course

This April, George Mapson, BPhysEd’74, MEd’79, was awarded the Marilyn Pomfret Alumni Award, given annually in recognition of the accomplishments of those who have volunteered in the UBC Intramural Recreation Program.

Upon arriving at UBC as a student, Mapson had his heart set on a sports career with the Thunderbirds. Of average height and build, however, he found himself excluded from the basketball and football teams. Instead, his focus shifted to an area of athletics he hadn’t previously considered: UBC intramural leadership.

In September 1970, Mapson took on the volunteer role of publicity director for the men’s intramural program. Under the mentorship of Nestor Korchinsky, long-time director of Intramural Sports at UBC and Mapson’s “lifelong inspirational rock,” he rose to the rank of director of the men’s program in two short years. His impact was significant, particularly in the acquisition of new funding sources for the program. He secured sponsorship from local breweries and lobbied for increased budgets from the School of Physical Education and the AMS – a task made easier by the fact he was simultaneously serving as president of the Physical Education Undergraduate Society and AMS Treasurer. The intramural program flourished beyond expectations.

George Mapson (r) and Dr. Nestor Korchinsky
Mapson (right) with his friend and mentor Dr. Nestor Korchinsky, former director of Intramurals and Recreation at UBC. The trunk is a time capsule put together during UBC’s centennial in 2015, and intended as a gift for the future student leaders of the UBC REC program.

With so many priorities competing for his attention, however, Mapson’s grades did not enjoy the same level of growth – a trend that continued through his first year of graduate studies. Fortunately, his prowess for campus leadership was then well-established, and in 1974 he was recruited by Malaspina College (now Vancouver Island University) to serve as their first athletic and recreation director. By 1979, he was able to complete his master’s degree in education, commuting to UBC from Nanaimo.

After a brief sojourn as a PhD student, Mapson finally left academia in 1982 to establish his own business, Trainingworks, which focused on building leadership and talent management in the private sector. This gave way to a long career in executive leadership, and in 2010 he retired in Kelowna with his wife, Heather, where he now enjoys hiking, biking, kayaking, and curling.

“I clearly underestimated the impact my involvement in student activities would have in my career and business life,” says Mapson. “Leadership skills and knowledge honed by students, outside of the classroom adds significant value to UBC life. Employers mining for future leadership talent need to look no further than what is being grown in the ‘extracurricular classrooms’ at UBC.”

Would he change anything about his time at Point Grey? “Probably attend more classes… if there was enough time.”


Ron Newman, BSc’70, has been elected vice president of the Glencoe Club in Calgary, Canada’s pre-eminent sporting facility. He has also been elected president of the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists, effective April 1, 2018.


John MacLachlan Grey, "The White Angel" cover
John MacLachlan Grey, “The White Angel”

Hailed as “one of the best novels of the year” by The Globe & Mail, John MacLachlan Gray, MA’72, has published The White Angel, a novel based on the 1924 murder of Janet Smith in Vancouver – a city at the edge of the empire, still reeling from the Great War with a barely functioning police department and a thriving criminal class. As a playwright, composer and theatre director, Gray has created many acclaimed productions, most notably Billy Bishop Goes to War (1978), which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, was produced on and off Broadway, and was released as a feature film in 2011. As a writer, he has authored several books, fiction and non-fiction, including a series of mystery-thrillers. He is an officer of the Order of Canada, and lives in Vancouver.


Brent Elliott, BA’73, MA’74, (PhD’78, U of London, UK), has retired after 40 years as librarian, then historian, for the Royal Horticultural Society. Among his books are Victorian Gardens (1986) and Federico Cesi’s Botanical Manuscripts (2015, in the Paper Museum of Cassiano dal Pozzo series).


Frances Pohl, BA’77, MA’80, has published the 4th revised edition of his textbook Framing America: A Social History of American Art (Thames and Hudson, 2017, 2012, 2008, 2002). This edition appears for the first time in two volumes and continues to be one of the most widely used textbooks in college and university classes on American art. It extends from prehistory to the present, covering the work of Indigenous peoples as well as those of European, African and Asian descent.

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