Cowan Tetrapod Collection Contributors

Citizens scientist, game wardens, researchers plus their students and even a few bonafide professional collectors explored western Canada plus other parts of this vast continent. Some journeying around the globe. What unites them all is their trust in the Cowan Tetrapod Collection to house in perpetuity their biodiversity legacy. Only a few have been honoured so far.  If you are interested in contributing to this archival project please contact us.

Learn more about these intrepid Citizen Scientists and Researchers.


* Please note this webpage is under construction. Please check back soon!

Ian McTaggart Cowan with Kenneth Racey canoeing at Chezacut Lake in British Columbia. (1931)

 

 

Kenneth Racey bringing down a porcupine at Mount Whistler. (1927)

 

Ian McTaggart Cowan pushing the train-car on Whitesail/Eutsuk portage (Jim Van Tine Portage) during his and Joyce’s honeymoon. (1936)

 

Ian McTaggart Cowan and Bristol Foster at Rose Spit, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands). (1960) – Bristol Foster was a grad student and contributed specimens to the Cowan Tetrapod Collection. Bristol and artist Robert Bateman did a famous drive across Africa in 1961 in a Land Rover.

 

Ian McTaggart Cowan, Frank Bryant, Syd Williams, and Kathleen Bryant in front of a cabin at Snaring River, Jasper. (1930)

 

Ian McTaggart Cowan with V. Udvardi and cameraman Robert Reid filming for his television series The Living Sea, a precursor to the Nature of Things. Photo by UBC Dept. of Extension Services.

 

Ian McTaggart Cowan (back row, right) with classmates at the University of British Columbia. (1931)

 

Ian McTaggart Cowan and Joyce McTaggart Cowan with Provincial Museum truck. (1937) – Ian married Kenneth Racey’s daughter, Joyce.

Images have been made available for research and study by UVic Special Collections and University Archives. For other uses, please contact UVic Special Collections and University Archives (250) 721-8257.

A. Best, 1910-2001, Curator of Stanley Park Zoo

Contributor Snapshot

Alan Best was Curator of Stanley Park Zoo for over 20 years. Previously, Best worked for Julian Huxley and was appointed Assistant Zoo Curator of the Regent’s Park Zoo, London, when Huxley was appointed the Curator. In his early years, Best studied art in Paris and as a professional sculptor designed figurines for Wedgewood. After serving in WWII, he made a living as a professional zoo animal collector for a few years prior to returning to his boyhood home on Saltspring Island.


Contribution to the Cowan Tetrapod Collection

B009582: On display in the large avian display cabinet, this Emperor Penguin which formerly lived at the Stanley Park Zoo is often mentioned by BBM visitors as one of their very favourite specimens.

The Cowan Tetrapod Collection has an excellent penguin collection due to Alan Best’s keen interest in these bird and his international recognized expertise of the care and breeding of this taxa. Best made several expeditions to the Antarctic to capture different penguin species for the Stanley Park Zoo much to the delight of zoo visitors. Birds that died often found a new home at the Cowan Tetrapod Collection. One such bird is the taxidermied Emperor Penguin on display at the BBM. The number of birds directly attributed to Best in our collection is small but they greatly contributed to the biodiversity of the collection (King Penguin egg, Peruvian Meadowlark and an Australian Black Swan). The Cowan Tetrapod Collection has many avian and mammal specimens from the Stanley Park Zoo which either have no collector listed or the preparator’s name is listed. This include numerous monkeys and kangaroos, a Red Panda, an Asian Elephant, a flamingo, toucans and off course many of our penguins. The friendship between members of the Stanley Park Zoo staff and what was then the UBC Vertebrate Museum created a wonderful legacy which greatly expands the biodiversity of our collection for everyone to enjoy.

 

 

Researched and written by: Ildiko Szabo

Contributor Snapshot

Professional avian collector and preparator, the life of Abidul Rasool is a bit of a mystery except for for the years of 1950 and 1951. During this period, Rasool and Wilfred J. Plowden-Wardlaw were under contract to the Yale Peabody Museum to collect and prepare avian skins from Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Dominic. The Peabody Museum Rasool Collection of ~813 birds is referred to in numerous journal articles about the avian fauna of Trinidad and Tobago.


Contribution to the Cowan Tetrapod Collection

It is safe to conjecture that the Cowan Tetrapod Collection acquired its Rasool specimens via his expedition mate, Plowden-Wardlaw, a BC resident. Often prepartors trade skins with each other for inclusion in their personal collections. Plowden-Wardlaw is one of the major contributors to the Cowan Tetrapod Collection avian collection. The majority of these 33 Rasool Trinidadian avian study skins are tanagers and all of them are passerines. The 3 Rasool study skins from what was then British Guiana (Guyana) are all Charadriiforms (2 shorebirds and a tern). As per VertNet, the Peabody and the Beaty are the only two museums that house A. Rasool 1950’s avian specimens.

B005478: Over 2/3 of the 33 Rasool birds from Trinidad and Tobago are tanagers as is this male Purple Honeycreeper. Despite its name, this bird has magnificent blue plumage.

Researched and written by: Ildiko Szabo

Contributor Snapshot

First (BC) Provincial Game and Forest Warden . The BC Department for the Protection of Game and Forests was created on 1st July 1905. Both as BC’s first Provincial Game and Forest Warden and as head of this newly created government department, A. Bryan Williams helped shape what is today’s BC Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations.


Contribution to the Cowan Tetrapod Collection

The oldest mammal sourced from the Thompson-Nicola region housed at the BBM was collected by Williams in 1908. This Mule Deer skull from Lillooet is the first of many tetrapod specimens donated to the Cowan Tetrapod Collection by BC Game Wardens. Today this tradition lives on. Annually BC Conservation Officers plus many other BC Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change Strategies staff donate a wide variety of common, unusual and occasionally blue listed birds, mammals, and reptiles frozen cadavers that are turned into government offices.

This image is page 2 of a BC Conservation Officer Service report: The Beginning 1905-1918. Click this link to read all 7 pages.

Researched and written by: Ildiko Szabo

Donald E. McAllister, 1934-2001. First Curator of Fishes at the Canadian Museum of Nature (photograph courtesy of the Canadian Museum of Nature).

Contributor Snapshot

Born in Victoria, Don McAllister did three degrees at UBC finishing his PhD in 1964: The evolution of branchiostegal rays in teleostome fishes. At what is now the Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN), McAllister was hired as the first Curator of Fishes, a post he filled from 1958-1986. Under his watch, this national collection grew from ~4,638 specimens to over 410,000 specimens. From 1986 until he retired from the CMN in 1993, McAllister devoting his time to environmental issues. In 1950, he married a fellow UBC doctoral student, Nancy Mahoney.

 

 


Contribution to the Cowan Tetrapod Collection

The UBC Fish Collection has 9 specimens collected by Don McAllister. Ever interested in aquatic vertebrates, Don donated 3 frogs, 3 toads, and 1 snake to the Cowan Tetrapod Collection. He also donated a North American Deermouse.

M006855 & M006858: Neither Nancy or Don McAllister studied rodents but this did not deter them from donating specimens unrelated to their study species (grebes and fish). They each collected one of these North American Deermouse on Saturna Island on March 16, 1956.

Researched and written by: Ildiko Szabo

E.E. Sechrist, 1890-1964

Contributor Snapshot

Sechrist was an amateur naturalist who collected eggs principally in Southern California plus many of the pacific island of the coast of Mexico. He was active in the Cooper Ornithological Society throughout his lifetime and his egg collections have been deposited in many museum including the Yale Peabody Museum, the Chicago Academy of Science and the San Bernardino County Museum.


Contribution to the Cowan Tetrapod Collection

The Cowan Tetrapod Collection has 7 egg clutches collected in California by Sechrist. The oldest is the Hooded Oriole clutch collect on May 9, 1911.

Researched and written by: Ildiko Szabo

B0020146: Farallon Cormorant is a name rarely used nowadays for the Double-crested Cormorant subspecies Phalacrocorax auritus albociliatus (Ridgway 1884). This is the resident subspecies we see in British Columbia. They are named after the Farallon Islands, a small group of craggy islands and sea stacks off the coast of San Francisco, California. These hazardous cliffs are perfect for nesting cormorants and are sometimes referred to as the Devil’s Teeth Islands. On May 12, 1912, Sechrist collected these three Farallon Cormorant eggs halfway up a seaside slope on Coranoda Island, Mexico; a much more hospitable place.

 

Contributor Snapshot

For his groundbreaking research on island populations, Frank S. Tompa was awarded a UBC PhD and a diploma from the University of Science, Szeged, Hungary. In 1960, Tompa initiate the now famous Mandarte Island Song Sparrow study. Recently the Mandarte study of individually marked sparrows celebrated its 60th anniversary. Mandarte Sparrows have been extensively studied by UBC students and professors. The list of researchers that have participated in this project reads like a celebrity column and includes Peter and Rosemary Grant whom later replicated many aspects of the Mandarte Island study on Daphne Major Island (Ecuador) with Galapagos finches.

Later in Victoria, Tompa worked for many years in Carnivore Management for the BC Ministry of the Environment.


Contribution to the Cowan Tetrapod Collection

There are 25 Tompa avian skins in the collection. The 6 Mandarte Island skins are shorebirds (5 Black Turnstones and a Surfbird). Tompa was a master preparator. Two of his skins (a Black Turnstone from Mandarte Island and a Townsend’s Solitaire from Loon Lake) were included in a set of 13 birds specimens traded with the Naturhistoriches Museum, Vienna.

Today, UBC Arcese Lab members are still conducting sparrow research on Mandarte Island. This photograph was taken by a member of the lab in 1964 (Digitizing Sponsor: Harvard University, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Ernst Mayr Library).

 

Title: The Canadian field-naturalist Identifier: canadianfieldnat1964otta (find matches) Year: 1964 (1960s) Authors: Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club – Wikimedia Commons

Researched and written by: Ildiko Szabo

H. A. Hochbaum, 1911- 1988, Founding Director, Delta Waterfowl Foundation, Manitoba

Contributor Snapshot

H. Albert (Al) Hochbaum excelled as an artist, a writer, and an ornithologist. The most famous of the three book he authored and illustrated is: The Canvasback on a Prairie Marsh. It won a Wildlife Society Award, one of many writing awards Hochbaum received. His writing is described as poetic observation of ecological landscapes. Hochbaum, a student of Aldo Leopold, was the Founding Director of what is now the Delta Waterfowl Foundation, Manitoba. He held this post for 32 years. For part of this time, he was also an Honorary Professor at the University of Manitoba.


Contribution to the Cowan Tetrapod Collection

Hochbaum prepared and shipped 4 ducklings (Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Pintail, and Blue-winged Teal) to the CTC while he was the Director of the Delta Waterfowl Research Station, Manitoba.

B002464: Hochbaum prepared this 5 day old captive reared Gadwall duckling. It died on July 7, 1938 near Delta, Manitoba.

Researched and written by: Ailsa McFadyen-Mungall

J.H. Bedard, 1938-2019, UBC PhD student, Founder of DuvetNor, Quebec

Contributor Snapshot

Originally from the Rivière-du-Loup area, Jean H. Bédard returned to Quebec after finishing graduate work at UBC. With funding from the University of Laval and other sources, he conducted St. Laurence River waterfowl research. Bédard has over 30 publications to his credit plus in 1972 he released a CD: Guide Sonore des Oiseaux du Québec. Bédard is best known as the founder of Duvetnor. In 1979 in order to protect eider duck nests from relentless harvesting, Bédard and some biologist friends obtained eiderdown collections rights to several private and public St. Lawrence Islands. Using the profits, their NGO Duvetnor started purchasing these seabird breeding islands. Today the society owns 9 islands in the upper St. Lawrence Estuary. As well as ongoing ecological research, Duvetnor is known for its ecotourism and educational programs. On Pot á l’Eau-de-Vie Island, Duvetnor converted the abandoned lighthouse into a spectacular 3 room inn plus a visitors centre. Check out this interview with Bédard titled: “A Rare Bird“.


Contribution to the Cowan Tetrapod Collection

Ecological Segregation among plankton-feeding Alcidae (Aethia and Cyclorrhynchus) is the title of Jean H. Bédard’s 1967 PhD dissertation. All 47 skins deposited at the CTC by Bédard are from Alaska (St Lawrence Island or the Nome Census Area). 28 skins and 2 skeletons are alcids, his study species: Crested Auklet, Parakeet Auklet and Least Auklet.

B011868: The flip side of this King Eider’s label states it was collected on June 17th, 1964 near Gambell, Alaska by J. Bedard.

Researched and written by: Ildiko Szabo

Contributor Snapshot

Leo Jobin was born in a trap-line tent in Arctic Quebec. In 1929, he was hired as a BC Game Warden initially working in the interior of BC. From 1940 until he retired in 1955, he worked out of Williams Lake. In total, Jobin published 19 papers. On Sept 8, 1946 Jobin photographed the first known sighting of a Barred Owl in BC, a species that was at the time rapidly expanding its western range across North America. Jobin is credited with collection the first Canadian record of a European Kestrel on December 10, 1946 at Alkai Lake (RBCM No. 15934). The Canadian Museum of Nature houses ~1,013 avian specimens collected by Jobin and the Royal BC Museum has ~425 of his avian specimens.


Contribution to the Cowan Tetrapod Collection

The Cowan Tetrapod Collection has 14 avian specimens and 56 mammal specimens procured for the museum by Leo Jobin. All these specimens were obtained while he was a Game Warden in the Cariboo District.

M000878: Joban donated this American Martin Skull in 1945. Also include this years gift to the museum was a Hawk Owl, plus skulls of Lynx, Bobcat, Fisher, otter, beaver, fox, mink, marten, wolf, and badger.

Researched and written by: Ildiko Szabo

Contributor Snapshot

When Mary F. Jackson finished her Masters in 1952, the UBC Zoology Department had yet to granted a female a PhD. This did not happen for another 11 years. Jackson taught at UBC from 1958 until 1990. Though only having a Masters degree, she was promoted to Assistant Professor in 1966.


Contribution to the Cowan Tetrapod Collection

Mary Fairfield Jackson specimen legacy is 95 mammals and birds specimens. The majority are extremely small mammals reflecting her thesis topic: Variation in an Isolated Population of Shrews of the Vagrans-obscurus Group. While teaching at UBC she conducted many studies on waterfowl resulting in 23 of her avain donations being goldeneyes and other ducks.

B004472: “On May 13, 1954, a drake goldeneye in full nuptial plumage was picked up in a moribund condition on Westwick Lake, 12 miles south of Williams Lake, BC. The specimen is intermediate between Bucephala islandica and B. clangula and is probably a hybrid. It was prepared as a study skin and is now N. 4472 in the collection of the Museum of Zoology, University of BC. The trachea was preserved with the specimen.” Extract from Mary. F. Jackson. 1959. A hybrid between Barrow’s and Common Goldeneyes. The Auk 76(1): 92-94.

Researched and written by: Ildiko Szabo

M.D.F. Udvardy, 1919-1998, UBC Assistant Professor (1952-1966); worked at other universities before and after his UBC appointment.

Contributor Snapshot

Dr. Milkós D. F. (Nick) Udvardy was born and attended university in Debrecen, Hungary. His PhD was on the avian ecology of the Hungarian Plains. As well as 100’s of avian museum skins which he prepared himself, Udvardy left a legacy of 191 published papers and 8 books. He is best known for his textbook: Dynamic Zoogeography (1969). Speaking 6 languages and reading 5 others, Udvardy linked UBC ornithologist with colleagues from around the world. Udvardy assisted the 210 students and 30 faculty and their families from Sopron University’s School of Forestry to flee the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and migrate to Canada, many of whom came to UBC. After leaving UBC, Dr. Udvardy worked as a Professor of Biological Sciences at California State University, Sacramento from 1967 until his retirement in 1991. Both at UBC and at the many other universities he worked at, Udvardy was an inspiring mentor and grad student supervisor for a myriad of students.


Contribution to the Cowan Tetrapod Collection

From 1952-1966 Udvardy worked as a UBC Zoology Assistant Professor lecturing on comparative anatomy and ornithology. During the 1958-59 academic year, Udvardy was a visiting professor at the University of Hawaii. Out of the 316 Udvardy specimens housed at the Cowan Tetrapod Collection, 133 birds were prepared by Udvardy while in Hawaii. They include Hawaiian endemics honeycreepers. The Cowan Tetrapod Collection is very fortunate that Udvardy contributed a pair of Laysan Ducks and a few Laysan Finches; species which are rarely found in small museum collections.

B011830: BirdLife International states that the breeding and resident area of Laysan Finches is 4 square kilometers on the small northwestern Hawaiian island of Kauō, formerly called Laysan Island. The finch populations fluctuate between 7,000 to 1,500 birds depending on when the last tropical storm hit the island. This endemic is a large billed honeycreeper; a generalist feeding on insects, albatross and other seabird eggs, carrion, as well as seeds and fruits.

Researched and written by: Ildiko Szabo

Mrs. T. L Thacker, 1871-1953, citizen scientist, farmer, pioneer homesteader and mother of 4 children

Contributor Snapshot

Mrs. T. L. Thacker (née Beatrice Muriel May Sprague) was a keen Natural History observer keeping records of flora and fauna as well as weather. She was born in England and grown up in Scotland. Beatrice Sprague’s father made it a condition of marriage that she travel to Hope, BC to check out the town and the homestead her fiance’s, T. Lindsay Thacker, was proposing as their permanent home. Beatrice’s journals from this 1906 journey are full of the scientific and common names of all the flora and fauna she was seeing as she and her companion (her fiancé’s sister) travelled across Canada by train and during their travels in southern BC. Both with her husband or solo, Mrs. T. L. Thacker published many articles in peer reviewed journals. This couple deposited many specimens at what is now called the Royal BC Museum and also to the UBC Museum of Zoology after it was founded in 1943.


Contribution to the Cowan Tetrapod Collection

Beatrice M. M. Thacker, who was better known as Mrs. T. L. Thacker, donated an eclectic variety of specimens to the CTC. They include a Rubber Boa, several Ermine with either winter white or summer brown colouration, hawks, owls and other birds. Mrs. T. L. Thacker and her husband were friends of Kenneth Racey, and Ian McTaggart-Cowan. They were members of the same natural history societies. At some of these meetings, Mrs. T. L Thacker played a leading role.

Photograph courtesy of Beatrice M. M. Sprague’s granddaughter, Rene MacDonald of Quesnel, BC. 

B003519: The label closest to the tail of this Cooper’s Hawk states: received in flesh, Collector Mrs. Thacker. In 1935, this bird was given to and prepared by Kenneth Racey who later donated it to the CTC.

Researched and written by: Laura N. Webb and Ildiko Szabo

Contributor Snapshot

Nancy Mahoney McAllister (nėe Nancy Ann Mahoney), first female UBC Zoology PhD graduate (1963), University of Ottawa Professor of Biology. Nancy Mahoney McAllister was the first female to be granted a Ph.D by UBC Zoology. She published her thesis material on Grebe behaviour in the prestigious Wilson Journal of Ornithology and The Auk. McAllister pursued diverse avian topics while a Professor at the University of Ottawa. As a Yoquot Project team member, she identifying and publishing on the avian remains found at this First Nations archeological site on Nootka Island, BC. During her UBC studies, she meet her husband who later became the Curator of Fishes at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Their busy life together include raising five children.


Contribution to the Cowan Tetrapod Collection

McAllister’s supervisor for both her Masters and her Doctorate was the founder of the Cowan Tetrapod Collection, Ian McTaggart Cowan. Nancy contribution to the collection is small: 1 North American Deermouse and 1 previously banded Brewer’s Sparrow.

B016278: McAllister recognized the importance of salvaging this banded Brewer’s Sparrow when she found it at Kilpoola Lake in the BC Okanagan. Banded bird specimens are sometimes called double databirds. Information is gathered the day they are banded and again when they are recaptured or found dead.

Researched and written by: Ildiko Szabo

T. L. Thacker, 1878-1961, Citizen scientist, professional plant surveyor (worked under contract for Dr. Davidson, founder of the UBC Herbarium), farmer, pioneer homesteader

Contributor Snapshot

In Hope, T. Lindsay Thacker and his wife Beatrice homesteaded at the top of what was then Little Mountain. Today Little Mountain is called Thacker Mountain and the lower portion is a regional park. The Thacker Homestead (which includes the family gravesite) near the top of the mountain was donated to UBC with the idea that it be maintained as an ecological reserve and research site. This couple were keen amateur naturalist and published extensively. Together, they conducted many field project including: Bird notes made at Vaseux Lake, South Okanagan, BC, April, May and June, 1922, published in Canadian Field Naturalist. The following year, the Canadian Wildlife Service designated Vaseux Lake as a migratory bird sanctuary in part due to the findings of this intrepid duo. In September 1953, the couple received an award for outstanding service as cooperative weather observers of the Meteorological Division of the Canadian Department of Transport.


Contribution to the Cowan Tetrapod Collection

Thacker went on collecting trips with the founder of the UBC Herbarium, Dr. Davidson. The UBC Herbarium houses 43 vascular plant specimens collected by Thacker. The Cowan Tetrapod Collection has 2 bird and 17 mammals specimens. Thacker published frequently, including an article about bat species overwintering in Hope, BC

Photograph courtesy of Beatrice M. M. Sprague’s granddaughter, Rene MacDonald of Quesnel, BC. 

M005480: “An early spring specimen was captured in the house on April 3, 1932. This proved to be an adult female Myotis californicus caurinus. The specimen is in the Kenneth Racey Collection where it was examined and identified by I. McT. Cowan of the Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia.” Excerpt from: T. L. Thacker. 1944. Winter occurrences of bats in Hope, BC. The Murrelet 25: p. 10.

 

Researched and written by: Laura N. Webb and Ildiko Szabo