SMEETON, Miles




Author Tags: Maritime

Born in Hovingham, Yorkshire on March 5, 1906, Miles Smeeton attended Wellington College, joined the British army and transferred to the Indian Cavalry. In 1930 he married solo explorer Beryl Boxer, born in Tolpuddle, England on September 21, 1905. They attempted to climb Tirich Mir in the Himalayas, at which time she reached the greatest height ever climbed by a woman (7,000 metres). After World War II they tried operating a small farm on Saltspring Island, purchasing land there sight unseen near Musgrave Landing and farming from 1946 to 1950, then from 1952 to 1955. Unable to transfer some of their money from England, they visited Britain where they found a sailboat yacht called Tzu Hang. They taught themselves how to sail on their way to Spain, proceeding to the Canary Islands, through the Panama Canal and back to Vancouver Island. For 20 years they sailed around the world and wrote about their adventures, recalling their first maritime adventures in The Sea Was Our Village (Gray's Publishing, 1973). Previous titles by Miles Smeeton were Once is Enough, Because the Horn is There, The Misty Isles, Sunrise to Windward, A Taste of the Hills and A Change of Jungle. Smeeton's oft-reprinted description of trying to round Cape Hope in their small boat, Once is Enough (1959), is considered a sailing classic although the couple have been criticized by seasoned sailors for their prideful foolishness at sea. He also wrote some whimsical titles for children, Moose Magic and Alligator Tales, plus Competely Foxed. Beryl Smeeton wrote two books, The Stars my Blanket and Winter Shoes in Springtime. The former describes some of her remarkable pre-war adventures that included a thousand-mile trek on horseback in the eastern foothills of the Andes and and a hike through the jungles of Burma and Thailand.

The Smeetons raised their only daughter Clio aboard their boat, then eventually settled near Calgary in 1969. There the Smeetons founded the Cochrane Ecological Institute in 1971 and initiated the swift fox reintroduction program in Canada in 1972, six years before the species was declared extirpated in Canada. The CEI is a family founded, charitable, not-for-profit organization devoted to breeding endangered species for reintroduction, wildlife rescue, rehabilitation, and release, educating the public, monitoring habitat and species, and developing non-intrusive wildlife survey methods. Management of the CEI was taken over by Clio Smeeton. Beryl Smeeton died in Cochrane, Alberta on November 14, 1979. Miles Smeeton died in Calgary on September 23, 1988. Miles Clark wrote a biography of the Smeetons called High Endeavours: The Extraordinary Life and Adventures of Miles and Beryl Smeeton (1991).

[BCBW 2003] "Maritime"