glenn ryder

Biography of Glenn Ryder

I am looking forward to continuing to work with Phil Henderson, of Strix Environmental Consulting, to write a biography of field naturalist Glenn Ryder.  We began this project over a year ago, and we knew Glenn would be a big part of it, eager as he was to share his stories and his profound respect for the natural world.  After his death in early October, we decided to continue on, and are hoping to work closely with Wayne Campbell of the Biodiversity Centre for Wildlife Studies, who has become the steward of Glenn’s papers.  The biography is scheduled to be released in  2016.

Glenn’s obituary — written by Wayne Campbell with the assistance of Phil Henderson — is posted below.

Glenn Roderick Ryder (1938-2013)

Glenn R. Ryder, 75, died on Wednesday, October 2, 2013, of respiratory seizure at his home in Aldergrove, British Columbia. He was born in Vancouver, BC, on January 31, 1938 to Elizabeth Ryder [née McDonald] and Delbert G. R. Ryder. Glenn was predeceased by his older brother Donald G. and was estranged from his eldest sibling Helen. Glenn never married nor had children. His early life was unsettled. Glenn was moved between orphanages and foster homes and separated from his brother and sister while living in Marpole, Penticton, Kelowna, Celista, and Scotch Creek.

Glenn never comleted his formal elementary school education because he was more lured by Nature than to a single-room school house. He was born a naturalist and before he could write was identifying wildlife that was then recorded by his brother and foster parents. He had an acute sense of observation and passion for Nature, which guided the rest of his life.

In 1954, when he was 17 years old, Glenn moved to the southwest mainland coast and lived in Abbotsford, Aldergrove, Bradner, Langley, Mount Lehman, and Surrey until his death.  He spent most of his time in the field observing and recording wildlife, collecting artifacts, and exploring new habitats near home and around the province. He treasured his time in the field. For many decades he participated in volunteer surveys such as Christmas Bird Counts. He was recognized for his commitment to build, erect, and monitor nest boxes for cavity-nesting owls, especially the threatened Western Screech-Owl, in woodlands throughout the Lower Mainland.

Glenn was an accomplished artist. His line drawings and watercolours were meticulously executed. Frequently his field notes were adorned with his drawings that greatly added value to his observations. His artwork appeared in many publications over the years.

Occasionally Glenn accepted work as a consulting naturalist. For four years, he was employed by the BC Parks Branch as the summer warden and naturalist at Stum Lake, near Alexis Creek, where his presence helped protect the only colony of nesting American White Pelicans in British Columbia from human disturbance. Glenn’s many friends supported him in his endeavours and often accompanied the renowned naturalist on trips. He was dubbed “The finest field naturalist in British Columbia.” Glenn’s legacy will endure in his collection of detailed field notes, artwork, and written works that will help us understand and ultimately conserve wildlife in British Columbia, the goal of his quiet and determined efforts.

Over the past nine years, Glenn published many accounts of his wildlife observations in Wildlife Afield, the bi-annual journal of the Biodiversity Centre for Wildlife Studies (BCFWS). These accounts contained significant and previously unknown information about rare, endangered, and even extirpated species in British Columbia. In 2012, Glenn was the recipient of the Steve Cannings Award for contributions to ornithology in British Columbia from the BC Field Ornithologists.

If you wish to make a donation in Glenn’s memory, please consider giving to a conservation organization or program of your choice. Contributions will also be accepted by the Biodiversity Centre for Wildlife Studies and will be used to help publish and distribute a 100-page memorial volume of Wildlife Afield high-lighting Glenn’s fascinating and challenging life and his significant contributions to natural history in British Columbia. BCFWS is a provincially registered non-profit society and federally approved charitable organization located at 3825 Cadboro Bay Road, PO Box 55053, Victoria, BC V8N 6L8. Tax receipts can be issued for all donations. Whatever you choose, please indicate clearly that the donation is being made for Glenn Ryder.

An outdoor memorial service will be held in spring 2014. The date, as well as updates on progress of the special memorial publication, will be posted at 

The feature photo of Glenn on Sumas Mountain was taken by Phil Henderson.