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Robert "Rob" W. Reid

Rob Reid, a native Albertan, forest entomologist and outstanding horseman, passed to the great mountains December 27, 2016 in Lethbridge, Alberta at the age of 91. He is survived by his wife Betty, daughter Heather, and sons Michael and David. The son of a railroad man, Rob grew up in Vermilion where he excelled in school and learned to fish and hunt in the nearby fields. But his greatest love was driving horse drays for people in town and riding horses. In 1942, Rob enlisted in the Air Force and was assigned to the northern coast of British Columbia. He was a gunner on a Canso Flying Boat (PBY) for the remaining war years looking for Japanese submarines and incendiary balloon bombs. After the war, he studied forestry at University of British Columbia and received his PhD. from Montana State University.

1955 cfs people at Seebe_1.jpgRob began employment in 1949 at the Calgary Forest Zoology Laboratory, assigned to studying the biology of the mountain pine beetle in lodgepole pine. His summer field work was conducted in the Invermere, B.C. area, with home bases maintained at the Castle Mountain Field Station (Banff National Park) in summer and at the Calgary lab in winter. Other WFIWC members then at the lab were Ron Stark (lodgepole needleminer) and Roy Shepherd (two-year cycle spruce budworm).

 Rob summarized his early work in a three part publication (Reid 1962a,b; 1963) that included interaction between the beetle and its host. Based on those findings, he formed a research team with Malcolm Shrimpton (tree physiologist), and Stu Whitney (pathologist) to study the interaction between the host tree and the mountain pine beetle with its associated blue stain fungi. Les Safranyik, who succeeded Rob at Calgary, recounted [paraphrased]: “Rob showed the importance of resin production in brood establishment and survival [Studies on the role of blue stain fungi in tree resistance had not been reported previously]. This work was followed by investigations of the host defensive response [for which they coined the term, “secondary resinosis”] to the beetle and inoculation with blue stain fungi (Reid et. al 1967).Their studies showed for the first time the importance of lodgepole pine-beetle-blue stain interaction and that management needs to focus on the host, not the mountain pine beetle itself.” (Safranyik 2002)

Rob Reid’s pioneering multidisciplinary approach to bark beetle research was utilized by others in subsequent studies of tree resistance and associated microorganisms involving other bark beetles, including the work of Erik Christiansen on Ips typographus in Norway and Alan Berryman on Scolytus ventralis. His own study of fecundity and internal changes in the female beetle (Reid 1962b) contributed to later work by Mike Atkins at Victoria on the Douglas-fir beetle.

In 1970, Rob transferred to the Northern Forest Research Centre in Edmonton where he became Program Manager for the Entomology and Pathology program and, later, Assistant Director of the Centre. Rob and Betty purchased a small farm near Millet, south of Edmonton, in the early 70’s.There, Rob raised quality horses and became well known, having learned firsthand from professional trainers that he associated with over the years. Rob trained his quarter horses in many disciplines including show, trail riding, cutting, and even fox hunts in Texas. Along the way, he developed friendships with many accomplished horsemen who he describes in his publication “Our Alberta Home On occasion, Rob was a guide with renowned outfitter, Jim Thompson, of Invermere, B.C., including a hunting trip with John Diefenbaker, Prime Minister of Canada. Rob commented many times about the humor, and friendship of John Diefenbaker around the camp fire.

Rob Reid 2004 Ya Ha Tinda.JPGAfter retirement, Rob travelled extensively with his “live-in horse trailer”, to ride his horses into favorite Rocky Mountain locations, including Willow Creek, Ya Ha Tinda Ranch, Ram River, Whitehorse Creek, and the Willmore Wilderness and adjacent Jasper National Park. Bob Stevenson rode with Rob to some of these places. One always knew where Rob was in the pack string by his happy, in-tune, whistling, which cheered up the riders during a long day. Rob’s last pack trip, at age 75, was for ten days in the Willmore, ending in a terrific snow storm at the top of Jack Pine Pass. Rob and his long time friend, Jack Gosney, were merrily talking about the old days, oblivious to the storm, and at the end of the day Rob was still whistling a happy tune.


Reid RW (1962a) Biology of the mountain pine beetle, Dendroctonus monticolae Hopkins, in the east Kootenay region of British Columbia: I. Life cycle, brood development, and flight periods. Can Entomol 94:531–538

Reid RW (1962b) Biology of the mountain pine beetle, Dendroctonus monticolae Hopkins, in the east Kootenay region of British Columbia: II. Behaviour in the host, fecundity, and internal changes in the female. Can Entomol 94:605–613

Reid, R.W. 1963. Biology of the mountain pine beetle, Dendroctonus monticolae Hopkins, in the East Kootenay Region of British Columbia. III. Interaction between the beetle and its host, with emphasis on brood mortality and survival. The Canadian Entomologist. 95:225-238.


Reid, R.W.; Whitney, H.S. Watson, J.A. 1967. Reaction of lodgepole pine to attack by Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins and blue stain fungi. Canadian Journal of Botany. 45:1115-1126.

Safranyik, L. 2002. Founders Award address. 53rd Annual Western Forest Insect Work Conference, Whitefish, Montana. April 23-25, 2002.

Photo captions.

Rob Reid, standing at far right, and personnel of the Calgary Forest Zoology Lab, 1955. Other WFIWC members in photo are Ronald Stark, standing at far left, and Roy Shepherd to his left.

Rob relaxing at end of a day’s ride at Ya Ha Tinda.ranch, north of Banff, 2004.Photo by R.E. Stevenson.

Submitted by Robert Stevenson and Malcolm Furniss with contributions from Herb Cerezkeand Rob’s fellow horsemen, Cliff Henderson and Dennis Quintilio