Robert John Cathro, an AME BC life member and past president of AME BC, was born in Dauphin, Manitoba, on April 30, 1935, and died at home in Chemainus, British Columbia, on August 26, 2014, surrounded by his loving family. He was a proud, independent person and was known for his honesty, community service and his great sense of humour. A friend and mentor to many people, he will be greatly missed.
He leaves behind his wife Pat (née Scott), their three sons Mike (Suzi Tevendale), John (Kare) and Gary (Jessie Pratt), and five grandchildren, Claire, Callum, Zack, Reed and Fynn.
Bob met the love of his life when he showed up in the emergency room of the hospital in the mining camp at Port Radium, N.W.T. The nurse on duty rushed to assist and, after a quick examination, said, “This is only a pinprick, it doesn’t even need a Band-Aid.” Bob said, “Yes, but it’s the only way I could think of to meet the new nurse!” The two were married on April 29, 1961, and spent 53 happy years together.
Although raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Chilliwack, B.C., much of Bob’s identity was defined through his career in northwestern Canada. After graduating from UBC in 1959 with a degree in geological engineering, Bob worked in mines in Port Radium, N.W.T.; Uranium City, Saskatchewan; and Yellowknife and Keno Hill, Yukon.
In 1966, he and partner Al Archer struck out on their own, founding the consulting firm Archer, Cathro and Associates Ltd. The firm has specialized in Yukon mining exploration since then, and remains one of the top Yukon explorers after nearly 50 years. Bob was a partner in “AC” until his retirement in 1989, during which time the firm made several notable discoveries or advancements of important Yukon mineral deposits. These include Casino (copper-gold-molybdenum), Wolverine and Marg (copper-lead-zinc sivergold), Mactung (tungsten), Carmacks Copper (copper-gold) and Wellgreen (nickel-copper-platinum).
Bob was an important mentor for hundreds of young geologists, “dirtbaggers,” prospectors, bush pilots and engineers who discovered and shared his love of the wilderness, remote camps and hard, dirty work that builds character.
Over his career, Bob received several awards including the A.O. Dufresne Exploration Achievement Award in 1991 from the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) for his “outstanding contribution to mineral exploration in B.C. and Yukon, and for his commitment to the North.” In 1999, Bob and Al Archer were co-winners of the H.H. “Spud” Huestis Award for excellence in prospecting and mineral exploration, presented by the B.C. & Yukon Chamber of Mines (now AME BC). In 2003, the Geological Association of Canada presented him with a Distinguished Service Award.
Bob always believed strongly in giving back to his industry. He served as vice-president (1978–81), president (1982–83) and past president (1984–85) of the B.C. & Yukon Chamber of Mines. In 1984, Bob, along with Jack Patterson and Nick Carter, helped bring together the mineral exploration industry and the federal and provincial geological surveys to establish the first Cordilleran Roundup conference. This convention, known today as Mineral Exploration Roundup, is now recognized globally as one of the leading technical events for mineral exploration, attracting thousands of delegates to Vancouver every January.
Over his career, Bob participated as chair, co-chair or member on numerous committees and task forces, providing advice on programs, policy and research activities on behalf of the Canadian Geoscience Council, the Geological Survey of Canada, several federal, provincial and territorial government bodies, and other organizations such as Geoscience BC. Bob was a vital member of the group that administered the Rocks to Riches geoscience grants through AME BC, an effort that ultimately led to the formation of Geoscience BC.
A careful researcher and “data miner,” Bob played a leading role in the 1972 creation of, and annual updates to, Archer Cathro’s Northern Cordillera Mineral Inventory. Through the 1970s and 1980s, the Inventory, a private publication financed through annual subscriptions from resource companies, was the most comprehensive file on mineral exploration history and property data in Canada. It was sold to the Yukon Government in 1990 to become the foundation for the current Yukon MINFILE database.
Bob was a prolific technical writer and editor, having authored numerous articles on subjects as diverse as Yukon tungsten deposits, the metallogeny of the Canadian Cordillera, supergene copper mineralization and SEDEX lead-zinc deposits. He served on the editorial boards of several notable compendiums of mineral deposit geology, including both of the CIM Special Volumes on Porphyry Deposits of the Canadian Cordillera (No. 15, 1976 and No. 46, 1995), and Mineral Deposits Division of the Geological Association of Canada Publication No. 2 (2000) on VMS deposits of Latin America.
His passion for research and history flourished in retirement when he authored nearly 50 articles on the evolution of the science of economic geology (CIM Magazine) and edited a series on the great mining camps of Canada for Geoscience Canada. He also contributed to several books including Bowen Island: Reflections, a pictorial history, and Into the Mountains, a history of the first 100 years of AME BC.
Bob always felt that he was a very lucky person: lucky to be raised in a family that valued honesty and integrity above all else; lucky to work with great mentors early in his career; lucky to meet a great wife in Pat; lucky to raise three independent boys; and lucky in business, where he worked with many fine partners, clients, associates and employees.
In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer a donation to a charity of your choice, or to the Robert Cathro Fund for Geology at UBC (visit memorial.supporting.ubc.ca/robert-cathro).