JOHN FRANCIS BRETT
John Brett, a member of both the American Alpine Club and the Alpine Club of Canada, died in October 1982 in Montreux, Switzerland. His death was preceded by that of his wife Elizabeth in September of the same year. John spent his youth in Geneva and began his climbing in the Alps before coming to Canada in 1913. He was trained as an engineer, worked in Montréal for the Canadian Pacific Railway, then joined the army and served in France with the Engineering Corps. He returned to Montréal, worked with the Montréal Water Board, and became an engineering consultant. He served as an army mountaineering instructor in the Canadian Rockies during the Second World War.
John’s love of the mountains kept him active in climbing for many years of his life. He was particularly active with the Alpine Club of Canada; he was Eastern Vice-President from 1941 to 1947, and again from 1950 to 1954 and was President of the ACC from 1958 to 1960. He received a Silver Rope award for climbing leadership in 1948. He was an honorary member of the Geneva Section of the Swiss Alpine Club.
I was fortunate to have met John while climbing at Val David almost twenty years ago. Although at the time he did not lead the harder climbs, he was still prepared to follow many routes even into his late seventies. He was a tremendous example to all who knew him, no matter what their ages. His great love was the rock climbing in the Laurentians which he helped to discover and tirelessly promoted.
In 1942 in recognition of his founding of the Montréal Section of the ACC and his contribution to rock climbing in Québec, the club presented John with a Service Badge. He was touched by this and deeply grateful for having been remembered in this way. Before he died, his account of the founding of the Montréal Section and various climbing anecdotes which had originally appeared in the Canadian Alpine Journal in the fifties were republished in the Montréal Section Newsletter.
John will be missed by all who knew him as a climber and a friend. He enriched our lives in many ways whether or not we knew him personally. Perhaps the finest tribute we can pay him is that the mountain spirit he nurtured lives on through the club he supported and the section he helped to found.
Kevin O'Connell, Alpine Club of Canada