Remembering Walter Gage – Famous JO Grads

Written by Ken McLeod, BA 1968, appeared originally at http://waltergagebook.engineering.ubc.ca/i-couldnt-help-be-good-at-mathematics/

“I couldn’t help be good at mathematics”

I developed an interest in Walter Gage upon entering the University of British Columbia in September 1962. Walter Gage as Dean of Inter-Faculty Affairs in charge of student bursaries and loans, when he learned that my mother was a widow, provided me with two $100 bursaries.

He also placed me in his first year calculus and trigonometry class where I witnessed first hand his remarkable teaching ability and quick wit. I was a graduate of John Oliver High School, Walter Gage’s alma mater when the school was known as South Vancouver High School.

Walter Gage was a protégé of Principal JTE (“Jake”) Palmer, who trained at Cambridge University, was a noted mathematician, and coach of track and field and girls field hockey, in addition to being a stern disciplinarian. Walter Gage was one of JTE Palmer’s most distinguished mathematics students. Professor Gage once said, “I couldn’t help be good at mathematics when I had Jake Palmer and Dan Buchanan (UBC) as mathematics teachers.”

I recall returning to UBC in 1966 as a part-time student and visiting Dean Gage’s office to apply for a student loan. The Dean informed me that as a part-time student I wasn’t eligible for a student loan, “How much do you need, Son,” enquired Gage. “Oh, about $300,” I replied. Dean Gage then reached into his pocket, pulled out a wad of bills, peeled off six $50 bills and said, “Pay me back when you can.”

Ken MacLeod
BA 1968

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