Bob Forshaw was born in Phoenix , BC , in 1914. He graduated from UBC with a BSA (Major in Animal Husbandry) in 1936. Following graduate work with Dr Earl W Crampton at Macdonald College , McGill University , he obtained an MSc in Animal Nutrition in 1938.
In 1943 he became an Assistant Professor at the University of Saskatchewan , and in 1947 moved to the Ontario Agricultural College as an Assistant Professor of Animal Science. He remained there on the faculty until his retirement in 1980. During his career at Guelph , Professor Forshaw became well-known for his work in swine production and his prominence in this area resulted in his being invited by CIDA to undertake swine production programs in Jamaica . He also earned recognition for his work in the Cooperative movement and for his efforts to improve the welfare of rural people, including working towards the establishment of medical insurance for students and farmers before the introduction of the Ontario Health Insurance Program.
Professor Forshaw became a charter member of the Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists and of the Ontario Institute of Agrologists. In addition he held several positions in the Canadian Society of Animal Science and served as President of the Society in 1961-62.
The Class of 1955 at the School of Agriculture , University of Guelph , in 2000 decided to recognize the contributions of Professor Forshaw, who was their Honorary President. Teaming up with the graduates of five other years in which Bob Forshaw had served as Honorary President, they established the R P Forshaw Recognition Fund with a goal of $400,000. The funds allowed Lab 102 in the Animal Science and Nutrition building to be refurbished and renamed the Prof R P Forshaw lab.
Other honours received during Prof Forshaw’s career included a Distinguished Teaching Award from the OAC Faculty Association in 1979, an AIC Fellowship in 1981 and an Honorary Life Membership of the Canadian Society of Animal Science in 1980.
“After graduation from Grade 11 – Junior Matriculation at that time in 1931 – I intended to take senior matriculation at John Oliver in Vancouver ” recalls Prof Forshaw. “Having won the Governor General’s bronze medal for district number 8 while in Grade 8, I was persuaded by G L Landon, our fine Ag Rep, to apply for one of the two hundred BC government awards for entrance to UBC. He thought me a better scholar than I did. However, only three awards came to the Interior and I was not one of the lucky three.
I should mention that in Greenwood Superior school as it was classified we had only one teacher for grade 8 to grade 10. Eight of us took grade 11 after school and each paid $10.00 per month. As our teacher had only grade 11 himself, he had to teach everything in 4 different grades – Latin and French, algebra and geometry, physics (but no chemistry). On reflection it is easy to realize why we were not well taught.
As the time to enroll for senior matriculation had passed, I stayed out a year. The next year (1932-33) I took senior matriculation at John Oliver High school in Vancouver, a school which at that time had a tremendous reputation. My classmates were either those that John Oliver had put through the four-year course in three or those who had failed in 1931.
In the fall of 1933 I enrolled in Agriculture at UBC because of my mother’s background in farming and the great 4-H training I had had under G L Landon. Actually my dad being interested in mining wanted me to take geology. I was by the way the only student from that outstanding class at John Oliver that went directly to UBC. A number did later and have done well after graduating. Coming in from senior matriculation I had a fairly mixed course-load, including Animal Husbandry 19, which was basically a judging course, because of my 4-H background. As a result I was on the UBC dairy cattle judging team that competed at the Portland Exhibition a year earlier than I should have been. Two of my teammates were Don Black and Alex J Wood. Dr J C Berry was our coach.
I remember fairly well the material that we took in my 6 terms at UBC. One course was Agriculture 1. It would be a 100 series course today. I remember a particular lab given by Frank Buck. He made no mention of the fact that he was not a faculty member at that time and was actually working as a day labourer tagging the trees and shrubs. That lecture-lab made the UBC campus and other properly planted areas that I have seen come alive.
As I mentioned above, I came to UBC with a somewhat weak background. In some subjects I did very well and in others quite poorly. My first year was no exception. I had 5 good first class marks and one supplemental (English). When it came to awarding scholarships I was nominated. Naturally the faculty from the English Department said “But the student recommended has failed English”. Despite my failure I received the $150 award which paid my next year’s tuition and gave me $5 over.
The following points (not in order of importance) stand out in my mind.
1. The Aggie Discussion Club which used to meet in the homes of various professors for a good get-together and refreshments. How so many people crowded into even a large living room I shall never understand. I remember Mrs Violet Eagles explaining to us how cake-making was an example of applied colloidal chemistry when we met at the Eagles’ home on Deer Lake.
2. The annual tug of war between the UBC Aggies and the University of Alberta when UBC played Alberta (the Golden Bears I think) at rugby. Some one (I think it was Mrs Clement) gave us tickets and Ragbir Singh Bans convinced us to keep our backs straight when we pulled. I believe that I was a member of the Aggie team for three years.
3. The annual judging field trip to the Agassiz Experimental Farm and Colony Farm was followed by an awards banquet. I was fortunate to win a trophy in each of the three years in which I competed, including the Lady Jane Trophy (awarded to the student with the highest overall total) in my final year. The faculty used to enjoy taking shots at each other during these events. I can remember Dr Gordon Moe rubbing it into Professor King when a crop science major won a trophy. I shall always remember Professor King’s reply. It was “And I would remind Dr Moe that in Ontario I was known as Alfalfa King.” Apparently as an Ag rep Harry King had introduced alfalfa into Haldimand county.
4. I recall as if it were yesterday the dinner that Dean Clement tendered our class out of his own pocket. In it I remember him saying that we were not overall as outstanding as the Class of ’35 which had been the best class since the veterans of World War I, but that the better students were equal to any they had ever graduated. Dean Clement told me years later that he continued the tradition as long as he was Dean even though it became pretty expensive when classes became larger.
Having wandered on far too long I shall close with one of the events that determined my future. In 1936 (during the Depression) only one of our class had a job. I went to Professor King and asked “What is the possibility of me doing graduate work?”, to which he replied “And what field would you like to do it in?”. My reply “Ever since taking Professor Biely’s course in Nutrition (the first time he ever gave it) I would prefer nutrition. With that, Professor King reached down through a neat pile of papers on his desk and pulled out an announcement of an assistantship (in the amount of $720 per year) at Macdonald College of McGill University. My first remark was “But I don’t have the amount of chemistry they require”. Professor King’s reply “I agree, but you have an excellent record.” As a result I drew up my application. Professor King, Dr Moe and Dr Laird provided recommendations. All were typed by Marcia Harris and Professor King drove me to the downtown post office because the last day for making submissions was very close. I was awarded the assistantship and I later found out that Macdonald College had gone over the resumes of the 13 applicants very carefully in selecting me.
I must draw to a close. My 3 years as an undergraduate in the Faculty of Agriculture at UBC were years that I will always remember, with outstanding professors and fine fellow students.”