He personally often went broke between paydays

Walter Gage came to Victoria College in 1927, young enough to be older brother to its freshmen and sophomores. He brought with him a quick, cheerful understanding of people – he liked them, they liked him – that rare ability to give meaning to mathematics which years later won him UBC’s first Master Teacher award, boundless vitality, a readiness to take over on any job nudged his way, exceptional organizing ability, a well-developed sense of the ridiculous and an infectious grin.

Laughter exploded readily in his classes, easing the concentration he inspired in his students.

In a way no other professor attempted, Walter altered the tone of the College. He held to its high regard for scholarship, but injected a touch of merry nonsense into relatively staid student-teacher relationships. From his UBC alma mater he cribbed a song book and team yells. Lunch-hour pep rallies gave boisterous life to the halls of Craigdarroch – Walter leading with an enthusiasm that at time left him fizzing at the mouth. “Billy McGee McGar”, “My Girl’s a Hullabaloo”, and the Skyrocket chant were adopted as easily as Walter assimilated the student body into his own family.

Work was meat and drink and fun to him. Non-athletic, he was the leading booster of all College teams. When the Players’ Club started annual activities, Walter was the dynamo that beefed up its momentum. To him fell registrar’s duties and the handling of day-to-day finances.

An odd trust, the latter, because he personally often went broke between paydays. Not that he spent lavishly on himself, but inevitably some boy needed a hand. The hand was Walter’s, reaching deep into his pocket until the pocket was empty. It could have been empty anyhow. When the College crowd jammed into Terry’s, on the corner of Fort and Douglas, after the game on Saturdays, Walter had the fastest draw in town as the check for malts, shakes, cocoa and buns hit the table. Money, he reckoned, was useful if it could help or give enjoyment to somebody else.

His departure to resume a lifelong love affair with UBC left the College feeling sad but not jilted. The older brother had just moved out to begin setting up a home of his own.

Art Stott
Victoria newspaperman and a Victoria College student