Book Outline

The Age of Walter Gage: How One Canadian Shaped the Lives of Thousands


Who was Walter Gage? If his name is recognized at all today, it is most likely associated with a building, a road, or an award related to his memorable stewardship as the ‘dean of everything’ at the University of B.C. in the mid-20th century. But Walter Gage also left an indelible personal impression on the lives of literally thousands of young Metro Vancouverites, British Columbians, Canadians and international students during his 50-year career.

He was an enigmatic man, with a ready smile and gentle sense of humour. A man who was academically brilliant and multi-talented and yet lived modestly with his mother in a small apartment for much of his career. A generous man who, unknown to others, often reached into his own wallet if a bursary could not be found for a desperate student. A caring man who left the keys in his jalopy during the ‘Hungry 30s’ to allow errands to be run by needy students, no questions asked. A man with a seemingly photographic memory when it came to each of his students, his colleagues and his friends. A man who asked nothing in return of the many who benefitted from knowing him, other than asking that they consider helping others in a similar manner in future, if their circumstances permitted.

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This book tells the story of Walter Gage through a collection of stories and anecdotes of those who knew him, combined with biographical information, photos from pivotal times and some key personal documents. Together, this collection forms a unique mosaic picture of a boy born in 1905 in South Vancouver to recent immigrants with limited financial means. As a teenager, Gage was the first in his family’s history to go to university and, as a man, he would become renowned as a talented master teacher and revered professor of mathematics during the Great Depression and Second World War. He became the inspirational ‘dean of everything’ for thousands of students, and a trusted president of UBC during turbulent times in the 1960s, culminating in his appointment as a Companion of the Order of Canada as he neared retirement.

Walter Gage never married, and for more than five decades his students and his colleagues were his family. To the British Columbians who became our engineers, teachers, professors, physicians, nurses, accountants, business leaders and knowledgeable citizens, Gage was a man of great integrity who touched individual lives in very meaningful ways and helped many achieve their personal potential, allowing them to contribute their best to their families, to their professions and communities, and to our society.

Walter Gage’s selflessness and humanity, centered on his ability to recognize students and others in need of help, and to help them in ways that had a positive and lasting impact, enabled them to lead in the development of Vancouver, British Columbia and Canada into what it is today.

This book tells the personal story of Walter Gage through the reflections of some whose lives he touched, in a way that should inform and inspire us, and future generations, to follow his example.

The book was written to appeal to all UBC alumni and faculty emeriti, all current UBC students, faculty and staff, all of the tens of thousands of Vancouverites, British Columbians and Canadians whose lives he touched, all B.C. high schools, universities, colleges and bookstores, all past and current recipients of the Order of Canada and, of course, those long-time and newer British Columbians who are interested in the province’s history and the stories of those who shaped it.

The finished size of the book is 8″ x 10″ with 123 text pages and 115 images. It will be an attractive addition to one’s library and/or proudly displayed on a coffee table.