PIKE, Warburton

Author Tags: 1900-1950, Outdoors

The explorer, failed entrepreneur and naturalist Warburton Pike wrote two books about the north and once visited Triangle Island. The highest hill on Saturna Island, where Pike owned property, is now named Mount Warburton. St. Mary Magdalene church on Mayne Island is on land donated by Warburton Pike. Once provisional director of the newly incorporated Cassiar Central Railway, he became hopelessly mired in debt towards the end of his days after some brief success with a small gold placer operation near Dease Lake in the Cassiar region. Sometimes known as 'Crazy Pike', he explored northern and south-eastern B.C. and was granted membership in the Royal Geographical Society of London prior to committing suicide with a pen knife in an English sanitarium in Bournemouth in 1915. It has been speculated that his erratic behaviour and his solitary lifestyle was due to his contraction of syphilis as a young man after dropping out of Oxford and prowling London's West End with his older brother Marmaduke. The six Pike siblings had inherited considerable money upon reaching age 21 after their father, a member of a Dorset clay-mining family, had died rich at age 55 in 1869. Warburton Pike was the youngest son. His mother had died when he was age five. His books were The Barren Ground of Northern Canada (London: Macmillan, 1892) and Through the Subarctic Forest (London: Edward Arnold, 1896. Both were reprinted by Arno Press of New York in 1967. Peter Murray wrote about Warburton Pike in Home from the Hill: Three Gentlemen Adventurers (Horsdal & Schubart, 1994) and Gwen Hayball of Dorset published an appreciation of Warburton Mayer Pike in a limited edition of 200 copies, Warburton Pike: An Unassuming Gentleman (Poole, England, 1994).

[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2004] "1900-1950"