Reginald E. Balch, ESA Fellow (1944)

Reginald E. Balch(deceased 14 April 1994)was elected as Fellow in 1944. He specialized in forest entomology, but, as he stated in his short Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) radio series in 1965, he was “conscious of the dangers of the specialist.” He saw himself as an ecologist and was instrumental in introducing the word "ecology" to the public. He was also well known for his photography.

Born in Sevenoaks, England on 29 December 1894, Dr. Balch immigrated with his family to Canada in 1913 when he was 19.  After serving in WWI, he enrolled in the Ontario Agricultural School from which he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1923. He earned his M.S. in 1928 from Syracuse University. From 1928 to 1929, he worked as a forest entomologist at Coeur d’Alene, a forest insect laboratory in Idaho. During the winter of 1929, he completed a detailed study of a budworm on lodgepole pine (the insect is now known to be the western pine budworm, Choristoneura lambertiana (Busck)). He then was appointed officer-in-charge at the Dominion Entomological Laboratory, a government facility located on the campus of the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, NB, Canada. Later, he led the Forest Biology Laboratory of Science Service, Canada Department of Agriculture.  He also served as the first president of the Canadian Institute of Forestry and as president of the Canadian Society of Forest Engineers.

One of Dr. Balch's major accomplishments was the development of methods for controlling the European spruce sawfly (Gilpinia hercyniae(Hartig))in eastern forests. This development stimulated the creation of an insect pathology organization in Canada. In 1952, he helped found the Fredericton Tree Commission, which advises and works with the city council. He also reached out to the public. In 1965, through a series of five half-hour radio shows on the CBC, he discussed the importance of ecological studies and expressed his concerns about widespread chemical spraying. The transcripts were published in paperback under the title The Ecological Viewpoint. Not only was Dr. Balch an entomologist, he was a passionate photographer as evidenced by two published collections, A Mind’s Eye in 1985 and Celebrations of Nature in 1991.

Dr. Balch received the Barrington Moore Award from The Society of American Foresters in 1961. In 1963, the University of New Brunswick recognized him with an honorary doctoral science degree. In 1978, the Canadian Institute of Forestry elected him as Fellow of the Institute. He was an honorary member of the Entomological Society of Canada.  In 1991, he was inducted into the New Brunswick Forestry Hall of Fame.

He was married to Martha, and enjoyed travel in Europe, especially Ireland, and photography.

(updated February, 2015)