ROBERTS, John E. (Ted)




Author Tags: Maritime

"Roberts laboured long and mightily to see that his hero got the attention he deserved." -- Barry Gough, British Columbia History, 2009

John E. (Ted) Roberts of Victoria was one of the foremost experts on the life and work of Captain George Vancouver, having self-published a 450-page work on Vancouver's first survey season in 1792, A Discovery Journal (1991). It includes the work of Captains Galiano and Valdés during the same period. This work was republished by Roberts, just prior to his death, in an new and slimmer paperback edition of 353 pages that he had printed by Trafford Publishing of Victoria.

Roberts fronted a group of three individuals, calling themselves The Friends of Vancouver, who deplored the lack of recognition for Vancouver's remarkable accomplishments "and the deprecations made on his character by historians and others who should have known better."

In the late 1960s Roberts consulted with the provincial museum in Victoria for its display of the blunt end of the Discovery. According to historian Barry Gough, who called him "Captain George Vancouver's most diligent champion," Roberts also arranged a special Vancouver Sunday event at the Christ Church Cathedral Victoria on May 18, 1990 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Vancouver's internment in St. Peter's Church, Petersham, Surrey. He has also published A Vindication of Capt. George Vancouver (1996) that attempts to set the record straight on the character of George Vancouver and refutes some of the charges that have been brought against him by writers and historians over the years.

Born in Victoria on November 23, 1922, Ted Roberts was educated in Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto. He became interested in the life and work of Captain Vancouver during a trip down the coast in 1943. Roberts worked in the iron and steel business, as the purchasing agent of materials for AIM Steel Ltd (1950-1960), purchasing rebar for some of B.C.'s most important structures such as the Deas Island Tunnel (10,000 tons), Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge and the B.C. Museum and Archives buildings. AIM Steel also built the Queensborough Bridge, Deas Slough Bridge and the Alexandria Bridges and supplied the post-tensioning wire for the approaches to the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge and fabricated material for the Crofton Pulp Mill. In 1960 Roberts went to work for Kurt Orban (Canada) Ltd. and from 1970 to 1977 was its CEO. His travels took him to Japan, Taiwan, Korea, England, Belgium, Switzerland (where the parent company had offices) and the U.S. He retired to Victoria at age 55. In England he met the Fraser Valley pioneer novelist George Godwin, who wrote a biography of Captain George Vancouver, and stayed in touch with Godwin.

In his retirement Roberts continued in his efforts to promote Captain George Vancouver Day on May 12, a formal declaration he established, perpetuity, to mark the date of Vancouver's death in 1798, at age 40. Roberts also provided the impetus for the recreation of the Captain's Cabin of HMS Discovery for the Royal British Columbia Museum, providing drawings for the museum.

John Edmund (Ted) Henry Roberts died of cancer on December 25, 2005 at age 83.

BOOKS:

A Vindication of Capt. George Vancouver (s.p. 1996; The Vindication of Capt. George Vancouver: Let's Play Fair--Refuting the Unjust Charges Against George Vancouver (2000; 2005).

A Discovery Journal of George Vancouver's First Survey Season on the Coasts of Washington and British Columbia, 1791 (Victoria: privately printed, 1997; 2005 $40.75).

[BCBW 2009] "George Vancouver" "Maritime"