A Lifetime in Conservation

Dr. Harvey A. Buckmaster, April 8, 1929 – November 28, 2018

We at CPAWS Southern Alberta recently learned of the death of one of our founding family members.

Harvey A. Buckmaster grew up in Calgary’s Beltline area and, in his youth, won a free week at Camp Chief Hector, the YMCA camp near Seebe, Alberta. He must have enjoyed his time at camp as he returned for several years, eventually becoming a camp instructor. He enjoyed outdoor recreation, including nature photography, which he pursued throughout his life.

Harvey enrolled in physics at The University of Alberta but switched to mathematics for his undergraduate degree. He received a Master’s degree in mathematics and a PhD in Physics from The University of British Columbia. His interests led him to do his postdoctoral work at Cambridge University in the fields of radio-astronomy and astro-photography. He returned to The University of Alberta in the mid-1950s as academic staff but transferred to its Calgary campus (now The University of Calgary).

Harvey worked as a liaison between the two University campuses before The University of Calgary became a separate institution, and he also worked with The University of Calgary Faculty Association, which supported salary negotiations, bargaining rights and other faculty work-related concerns.

Off campus, Harvey continued his community work and devoted much of his time to photography, art, drama, outdoor pursuits, nature conservation and the establishments of parks. In the mid-1960s, several University of Calgary professors became concerned about increased development and ecological disturbance in Alberta’s rocky mountain parks. Harvey, along with a few of his colleagues and other members of the public, became a founding member of the Calgary/Banff chapter of the National and Provincial Parks Association of Canada, the precursor to CPAWS-Southern Alberta. As part of this group he fought for the establishment of Calgary’s Nose Hill Municipal Park and Fish Creek Provincial Park. Harvey was also a member and Chair of the Science Advisory Committee of the Environmental Council of Alberta. He voiced his concerns for the effects of climate change long before it became public dialogue.

Aside from his time away at university, Harvey lived most of his life in Calgary, just south of downtown, until he retired to the west coast. He was President of the Bankview Community Association for a time and was heavily involved in the area redevelopment plan. In 1991, the community honoured him and his wife Margaret by naming Bankview’s largest park Buckmaster Park.

CPAWS Southern Alberta recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary and acknowledges the hard work and dedication of early proponents of wildland and park protection. We are grateful to the forethought of people like Dr. Harvey A. Buckmaster who, so early on, saw the value in advocating for the protection of Alberta’s special places.