Brink on Davidson
Vernon Cuthbert “Bert” Brink (1912–2007) was a student of John Davidson’s who later became a UBC professor in agronomy, the science of soil management and crop production. Brink often accompanied Davidson on Vancouver Natural History Society field trips and had a close relationship with him. Listen to an interview with Brink or read the transcripts of Brink’s detailed memories of John Davidson.
Please note: In the transcript below, Vernon Brink (VB) is always the speaker unless noted otherwise. David Brownstein (DB) is the interviewer.
It’s a long time ago when I first met John Davidson, Mr. John Davidson. I was born in 1912, and I remember the Armistice quite clearly of course. So it must have been about 1920, I would have been about 6 or 7 years of age when one of the veterans of World War I ran a cub pack in Trafalgar Street in Vancouver. My dad thought it was not a bad organization and he thought perhaps I should attend. From there on we went in to scouts, both in the cubs and scouts and the boy scout movement we were urged by Canon Sovereign, Canon Arthur Sovereign of the Anglican Church called St. Marks in Kitsilano, to go on field trips with John Davidson. There weren’t very many of us went, but some of my friends went along, and we were visiting local areas and took part in John Davidson’s field trips. One of them I remember very clearly is the Musqueam Reserve and in that case it was an annual event with Professor Davidson. There used to be meadows at the Reserve, which are now grown up in alder, because the meadows have been diked.
That was my first acquaintance, those cubs and scouts, through the urging of Canon Sovereign, to become to know John Davidson. I could digress and talk about the meadows on Musqueam that are no longer there, they are completely gone which is a disappointment of sorts. But I shouldn’t take time to. But as you know the Iona Island plant is right across the river, and to reach the plant they put very large conduits and then they diked the area and the conduits went across to Iona Island. That was later, but.
Some decades ago anyway, when I was in the teens, I was able again to, on the odd field trip, Mr. Davidson didn’t attend many of the trips that were scheduled with the Vancouver Natural History Society for the reason that he wasn’t an entomologist, he wasn’t a birder, he was particularly a botanist, so occasionally he went on to trips which were not John Davidson trips Saturday afternoons, never Sunday with John Davidson though. Sunday was a day of rest with him, and I think he had to adhere to it very closely. I could expand on the trips we went; well they were important destinations to John Davidson because there was a special purchase, the flora. I would say the flowers at Caulfields in the spring on West Vancouver, Rocky Bluff flora at the time was of great interest and quite colourful. It’s not there now of course, totally urbanized. Another trip would be Crescent Beach, which again has been substantially urbanized, but there were summer cottages there and sandy areas were quite colourful. Also there were some outlying areas with mud buttons and things like that which were at that time quite colourful. There were trips Burnaby Lake, to the I guess you’d call it the western end of Burnaby Lake, not the Brunette River end, but the… and the bog was very well developed there. It had been crossed by BC Electric, very urban at one point. The bog was a floating bog, so that John Davidson used to take great pleasure in taking his stick and putting it through the bog to the water below.