Member Biography

Francis Alfred Wilkin

(1872.?.? - 1950.11.11)
Commission #062

Lt-Col. Francis Alfred Wilkin, 78, retired University of British Columbia engineering professor, died in a private hospital in Vancouver on Remembrance Day 1950.

A popular member of the engineering department for 20 years where his humour endeared him to succeeding generations of undergraduates before retirement in 1941, Lt-Col. Wilkin led a colourful life.

He was born in Yokohama, Japan in 1872, son of Alfred John Wilkin, and graduated from McGill University in 1895 with a B.A.Sc.

Six years later, he was with the CPR, west of Winnipeg penetrating wilderness and prairie ahead of the steel the followed in his path. As a locating engineer from 1901 to 1905 and a reconnaissance engineer in later years, he worked on lines in Saskatchewan.

In British Columbia, he located the Kootenay central lines for the CPR, negotiating Coquahalla Pass and paddling around the Big Bend in a canoe. He was accustomed to all forms of transportation - pack horse and boat in summer and dog team in winter.

Mr. Wilkin was registered as Alberta Land Surveyor #100 on June 26, 1913 and Saskatchewan Land Surveyor #62 in the same year.

In September 1914, he joined the First Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade as lieutenant and won his lieutenant-colonelcy and the Military Cross in the Somme in 1916.

After the war, he came to Vancouver and rejoined the CPR from 1919-1921 and then joined the faculty at the University of British Columbia. He was also a member of the American Railway Engineering Association, Association of Professional Engineers, and the Church of England.

Col. Wilkin was survived by his sister, Miss Mary Wilkin of Midnapore, Alberta, who was in the city at Hotel Georgia for the funeral.

A copy of the death registration states that he had been married to a Mona Pirrie but had been divorced. Mona Pirrie was not mentioned in the funeral notice or the obituary.

Source: Early Land Surveyors of British Columbia, Corporation of Land Surveyors of the Province of British Columbia (1990) based on Vancouver Sun (November 13, 1950) and BC's Who's Who (1937-1939).

Many thanks to Chris Pickering for providing additional information on Col. Wilkin.

(Adapted from Alberta Land Surveyors' Association)