Bob Carkner

Bachelor of Physical Education, 1958

1958 Physical Education graduate Bob Carkner was a man with visions; visions of helping others while at the same time broadening the horizons and raising the social conscience of young people.  A teacher and coach and ultimately principal at several Vancouver high schools, Carkner possessed that special ability to inspire us, resulting in his team being able to fulfill his visions. His former students refer to him as a “bridge builder.”

During the last 30 years of his life Bob was dedicated to creating a positive world. One of his concepts was leading his high school students toward his quest to build an orphanage in Guatemala. With new students each year he would maintain and upgrade conditions around this self-sustaining facility thereby not only providing the orphaned children a better life but also awakening his students to the world and inspiring them to improve this world. For the hundreds of students who have participated in Carkner’s designed experience, it has been a profound influence, redirecting lives and careers.

Carkner also established similar projects elsewhere including Viet Nam with the net result a one-of-a-kind high school course being created combining the learning about and visiting different  parts of the world “ . . . fostering the ideas of understanding, tolerance, friendship and peace” in the words of Carkner.

Bob fondly remembered his UBC days and since the 1990s was widely acknowledged for his innovative work through articles, an Honourary Doctor of Laws degree, a TV documentary, the 1999 UBC Alumni Award of Distinction and the Order of Canada. Bob always insisted however that these acknowledgements not be directed toward him but instead cast a light and draw attention to the “bridge-building” that was required to be done.

Written by Fred Hume, UBC Historian