Furrows in the Sky

Jay Sherwood


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Historian Jay Sherwood tells the story of Gerry Andrews’ remarkable century of life as a rural school teacher, forester, soldier and surveyor. He relates how Andrews became the province’s longest serving surveyor general and how he pioneered aerial surveying in British Columbia, a process that Andrews claimed was like “ploughing photographic furrows up and down the sky at 16,000 feet”.

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2012, paperback, 240 pages

100 b/w photographs

ISBN 978-0-7726-6491-4

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Gerry Andrews had many adventures in his 102 years. He was born in Winnipeg in 1903 and one of his most profound memories was to see Halley’s Comet on his seventh birthday. The Andrews family moved to Calgary in 1918. From there his could see the Rocky Mountains and he became fascinated by the lands that lay beyond. In a later diary, he wrote, “I did not know then that my professional life in British Columbia would be largely devoted to mapping and revealing the mysteries behind that panorama.”

And so it did. In 1922, he became a rural school teacher in Upper Big Bar, a small community in the Cariboo, then at Kelly Lake, an even more remote settlement in Peace River country. In the late 1920s, he took up a new career as a forester, which he continued through the next decade. As a forester, he developed an interest and a skill in aerial photography to survey forests for resource planning – developments in aerial photography dramatically changed forestry in BC. But like so many others, Andrews’ life changed when the World War II began. He enlisted as a soldier and helped take high-altitude photographs to help the Allies in the D-Day landings.

When Andrews returned to BC in 1946, his skills in surveying from the air helped land him a job as a surveyor. In just five years, he became BC’s surveyor general, a position he held until he retired in 1968, making him the longest serving surveyor general in BC’s history. During his tenure the province went through an industrial boom, especially in forestry and power generation, and Andrews supervised the mapping of many large construction projects.

Andrews’ multifaceted career took him throughout most of British Columbia. He made many friends on his travels. Surveyors in the field looked forward to his visits because he always had a kind word, a genuine interest in their work, and a red flannel sock containing a bottle of hooch.

Jay Sherwood tells this compelling story based on Andrews’ personal correspondence, his unpublished manuscripts and diaries, interviews with people who knew him, and published articles by and about him. The book includes a selection of the many photographs that Andrews took during his adventures.


About the Author

From 1979 to 1986, Jay Sherwood lived and taught school in Vanderhoof. There, he learned about the ledgendary land surveyor, Frank Swannell, through his involvement with the local history society. A former surveyor himself, Sherwood embarked on a study of Swannell that would result in the publication of three books about him. His research also inspired him write about other important land surveyors and explorers.

Other books by Jay Sherwood
In the Shadow of the Great War
Return to Northern British Columbia
Surveying Central British Columbia
Bannock and Beans by Bob White (edited by Jay Sherwood)


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