Charles “Lofty” Alexander Aird

Charlie Aird was born in London, England, on October 18, 1925, and was a true Cockney having been born at Rose Alley, within the sound of Bow Bells. Son of a London “bobbie”, he served in WW II, first as a youthful homeguard member, and later in the Royal Navy where he served as a seaman on several of Her Majesty’s frigates, including the Cleopatra and Ramelies. After being invalided out of Portsmouth Naval Station where he contracted pneumonia while on nightwatch, Charlie was treated at Gosport Naval Hospital and then while recuperating, for the good of his health was sent to the Mediterranean and subsequently the Far East where he participated in the liberation of Singapore. The pneumonia resulted in a lung infection that dogged him for the rest of his life.

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Post-war, Charlie came to Canada and was employed in Alberta as an electrician and later in Whitehorse by the Army in support of maintenance of the Alaska Highway where he developed a fascination with the wilderness and began prospecting. In 1953, with partners Wally Green and Chuck Hankin, he discovered the Wallgreen nickel-platinum property in the Kluane Range of Yukon that was subsequently explored by Hudson Bay Mining and Exploration and which enabled Charlie to buy a Chev car, the future classic 1955 model, and enter the University of British Columbia as an undergraduate. As a summer student he was employed by Mackenzie Syndicate, managed by Len White, that explored what became the Cantung tungsten mine. With Don Rotherham he co-authored the first technical report on the deposit. After graduation, he was employed by Utah Mines Ltd. in southeast Alaska and also participated with Art Humphrey, Ed Rugg, Gerry Noel, Harold Jones and others in the discovery and exploration of Gordon Milbourn’s Port Hardy, B.C. prospect that became the Island porphyry copper deposit. Employment as a senior geologist for Vangulf Exploration and district exploration manager for Esso Minerals followed.

Both in Whitehorse and Vancouver, Charlie was active in the BC & Yukon Chamber of Mines (now AME) as a member of several committees and served as President from 1986 – 1987. The Wellgreen deposit that propelled Charlie into university has undergone several generations of exploration and academic studies have contributed greatly to the understanding of alpine-type ultramafic-hosted mineral deposits but the discovery never gave Charlie any further rewards.

Charlie married Audrey Muncey in June 1961. By coincidence, Audrey had been employed as nurse at the Wellgreen minesite by HBM&S but they only met in Vancouver! They enjoyed 57 years of married life and enjoyed sailing the “Scalawag” in the Strait of Georgia, even circumnavigating Vancouver Island, and traveling with Elderhostel and UBC tours and with their sailing comrades among the Greek islands. In retirement, they maintained strong friendships with colleagues in the mining industry, attended numerous jazz festivals, and travelled to Ireland and Norway. A visit to London enabled Charlie to revisit his roots and to his delight, find his birth records in St Botolph church in Aldgate.

Charlie and Audrey lived in Point Grey until 2014 when failing health required a move to Yaletown House in Yaletown, Vancouver where they received the best of kind and gentle care and where Audrey continues to reside. In addition to many friends and colleagues in the mineral exploration industry, they are remembered by Lorne and Anne Ball and Erik and Lynne Ostensoe and their families, their lifelong friends with whom they spent many happy times.