Dr. Reginald Brock

Dr. Reginald Brock

Back in 1915 UBC’s Dr. Reginald Brock was serving as the President of the BC and Yukon Chamber of Mines. But Brock—his term as president barely begun—was asked to join the British Army. It was 1915, World War One was in its second year, and Brock’s expertise in geology was needed in Palestine. He was 41 years old at the time, one of Canada's leading geologists: from 1907 to 1914 he was Director of the Geological Survey of Canada. He’d been named Dean of Applied Science but the war took him away before he could begin his duties.

And why Palestine? It seems the Germans had a monopoly on potash, and the British wanted to find out if the Dead Sea could be a source. Brock did his studies—where temperatures can reach 45 Celsius in the shade—and reported that the Sea contained vast amounts of potassium chloride (potash) with reserves estimated at 2,000 million metric tonnes! A later survey (1922) put the value of the Sea’s contents at £8,000 million. To this day, millions of tonnes are extracted annually from its waters.

Incidentally, Dr. Brock was the father of the late David Brock, who long-time CBC viewers will recall as a delightfully puckish on-air personality.


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