Member Biography

Charles Richard William Leak

(1903.08.22 – 1991.10.06)
Commission #085

Dick Leak passed away on October 6th, 1991 in Victoria, BC. He was born in Manchester, England on August 22nd, 1904. His parents ran a small grocery store in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and he obtained his early schooling there. His Mother was a registered nurse, who graduated in England. In 1926 he was working for K.N. Crowther D.L.S., S.L.S. in Regina at $40.00/month and spent winter of 1927-28 studying at Calgary Tech. In the field season of 1927 he acted as level-man and was in charge of various drainage schemes in southern Saskatchewan under D.A. Smith, D.L.S., S.L.S.. In the same year he successfully passed his Dominion preliminary exam.

From 1928-31, he became articled and worked with the office of The Topographic Survey of Canada, Ottawa. During this time, he worked on Topic sheets adjacent to Calgary using vertical air photos, a plane-table, and an Indian Clinometer.

In 1929 he worked in Saskatchewan and Manitoba under A.O. Gornvan, D.L.S. on various legal surveys and the following year worked on Township subdivisions in the Peace River under J.A. Calder, D.L.S.. In 1931, as the extent of the Depression became known, "800 civil servants were released by Ottawa" and Dick joined the Department of Natural Resources, Saskatchewan under E.C. Coursier, D.L.S., S.L.S. as Assistant to the Supervisor of Surveys, where he remained until 1937. In September 1936, he went onto the Saskatchewan Land Surveys retirement list, and during this year he also obtained a job as Assistant Recorder at the new mining strike at Goldfield, Saskatchewan. One of Dick's favourite stories from the pre-war days, which he used to like to tell, was as follows, from his own words:

"To those who have heard this story before this is it's origin. It goes back to those halcyon days when one would sometimes pass on country roads a man driving a horse and buggy or sometimes a sulky, and leading a big, powerful, well groomed and be-ribboned stud horse. This stallion was taken from farm to farm to service mares. When with Alpine Smith in 1927 we stayed overnight at a boarding house in Caron, Sask., there being no hotel. After dinner we worked on our calculations on a table in the lobby. On completion of which we re-filled our pipes and relaxed. A young man sitting nearby said: 'I have been watching you two gentlemen and I certainly envy you your knowledge and education. Do you know, if I'd had an education I could have had a job traveling a stud-horse.'"

During the years 1940-44 he saw military service in Canada and England, and obtained the rank of Lieutenant and Captain in No. 1 General Holding, 13th Field Company and No. 1 Survey Company R.C.E.. He had previously held a commission with the 14th Field Company R.C.E. and Headquarters from 1931-39 in Regina. During the war years he spent his winters in Calgary and, in Ottawa, worked on Vertical and oblique Air photos with early great names - in what later became known as photogrammetry - such as M.P. Bridgeland, John Davidson, Eric Fry, Max Cameron, Cecil Dunnelly and John Carroll. Dick found the training of recruits for survey work in the summer of 1943 at Dalhousie University particularly worthwhile. At the end of the war he joined the Surveys Branch of the Department of Lands for the British Columbia government and remained with them until his retirement in 1965.

One of his earliest jobs with 'Lands" were topographic sheets in the Williams Lake -- Soda Creek areas. In 1953 he was assigned to the Legal Survey division of Lands and worked on the Alaska Highway survey from mile 304 to 351, with Joe Brooks as assistant. The camp was apparently bothered by a large number of Black bears that year. The following year he was surveying the Hart Highway between Little Prairie (Chetwyn) and East Pine and were camped at Dinner Creek. His assistant was N. Gustafson. That year the army engineers were also working in the area and Dick, being an ex-army engineer, occasionally flew off in a helicopter to some distant triangulation station with them.

In 1955, he was assigned to the Cariboo Highway at Lac La Hache, and the following two years was surveying the Northern Transprovincial Highway from Bednesti to Sinkut River, staying one year at Tapping Resort on Clucutz Lake and the second year in Vanderhoof.

In 1968 he continued on the Northern Transprovincial from Houston to Pleasant Valley at Burns Lake to Decker Lake with M.Tipton acting as his assistant.

From 1959 to 1963 he was assigned highway surveys in the Lumberton, Moyle Yahk and Golden areas, and in 1954 completed his last major highway survey near Sparwood, B.C. and some work at Fort Steel. In 1965 he retired from the service thus ending a survey career of 39 years.

The writer had the privilege of knowing Dick In 1962, while working on and adjoining survey near Golden, on the Columbia River, and staying at a common lodging in the town. Dick's standards were very high and his work meticulous. His personal strong character and quiet dignity were quite exceptional.

During his retirement years he enjoyed playing golf and tennis and lived for some time at Sooke, B.C. before eventually moving back Into Victoria.

He is survived by his wife Margaret (Peggy).

By John W. (Last name illegible)

(Any additional information would be appreciated)