BUREAUCRACY RUN AMUCK
As I sit down to start writing this, it is 12 oíclock on a Friday in mid-October in the year 2012. We are expecting snow tomorrow. The idea to write this book came about five years ag0 when I was writing our family history in Canada from the 1830ís. It was an enjoyable experience, telling the story of each ancestors life based on the research that I had undertaken. Each research component took from several months to a year or two, similar to solving a detective mystery, following clue after clue
It was fascinating to see the stories take shape and literally come to life along with pictures, information from historical research and maps. My thinking eventually evolved to what else I could write about and several ideas came to mind. The first was about my dadís trip to New York by car in 1931 with a teacher colleague, and then to Boston and the Maritimes to his colleagueís home, all of this recorded in a daily journal.
Another idea was to record the history of a large engineering Department which I had led in the mid-seventies out of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and which was completely disbanded after just 10 years of existence. From there my mind arrived at the idea of a book on my engineering and management career across four prairie cities, four Provinces and the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. Ten different positions in three federal and one Provincial Department. Three and one half decades of public service, so many unique experiences, people met and lessons learned.
Would this be of any interest to anyone, of any benefit, or would this be just an egotistical self-serving initiative. All valid thoughts. By way of reflection I thought back to my family history research and the chance discovery of a letter to my father from a Saskatchewan Educational official setting out my dadís teaching record in one room schools in central and southern Saskatchewan from 1919 to 1921. This was a very enlightening discovery, as I had previously no idea that he had taught there before coming to Manitoba. Later in 2007 I was able, assisted by my wife Jackie to search out these schools, now long since gone, but most commemorated with a cairn and plaque. This was greatly aided by a website called the Saskatchewan One-Room School Project which contained a list of some 5000 one room schools with their section-township Ėrange location. There was a school on every 36 square mile quadrant. . We were able to locate two of the three schools he taught in, now literally in the middle of nowhere, with farms in Saskatchewan now miles apart and far from any town or village.
The point of the paragraph above is that on any number of occasions over the last five years I have thought, would it not have been something unique if my dad had kept some kind of diary or journal about his time living with those farm families and teaching at those one room schools. To be able to read about what life was like in that era, in those locations, no electricity, no vehicles, different ethnic groups, social activities largely unimaginable today, some ninety years later.
Framed in this historical type context, it seemed to make more sense writing about my engineering and management experiences in the 20th century, we now already being in the 21st. Also of merit would be to show the positive side of working in Canada for governments in Public Service, which seems to be so denigrated in anti-government sentiment in todayís world. Finally I believe that the occurrences in my work life can demonstrate many valuable lessons learned, how one can innovate, provide leadership, show the value of perseverance , the importance of consultation and people involvement . Throughout the book, as experiences are described I will note LESSON LEARNED where applicable. I have also added some personal glimpses of my life along the way to provide some context
Finally, for someone reading this account say in 50 years, perhaps a descendent, it would be an interesting historical look back on some infrastructure, geographic and transportation realities of the times.
One final note regarding the names of people in this book. Sometimes I will use just a first name, sometimes just a last, based on privacy concerns or in some cases just a loss of memory.
BECOMING AN ENGINEER
It has always intrigued me as to why or how a person ends up becoming an engineer. Is it a nature or nurture thing ie. genetic, based on some passed on trait or brought about by your environmental surrounding and how you were raised. In my case my great great grandfather Adam Mihm was a Stonemason, my grandfather Michael Murphy was a Toolmaker in an automobile factory in Flint, Michigan when he died in 1920, and my great uncle George Herriot was a Civil engineer and Land Surveyor, so there was lots of ancestors building stuff.
Perhaps all of that helped somehow. As a young boy I was very interested in building things, starting with a Mechano set, an old form of metal building pieces long before Lego. Then came model airplanes, in those fifties days the kits were Balsa wood which you cut out, then glued the pieces into a frame and wings with airplane glue, This glue came with the kit and had a unique smell and once set could not be pulled apart. The frames were the covered with a special paper. For many years I kept a scrapbook of airplanes, cutting out any picture I could find. In those days I wanted to be a Pilot. Later on there was an endless number of wooden revolver s, tommy guns and forts or airplane cockpits with controls to build in a nearby bush.
Later around age 11or 12, I asked Santa Clause to bring me a hammer and saw for Christmas and thatís what I got. One summer I remember cutting both ends off of tin cans and making a pipe which I buried to carry water for one point to anotherí Around that same age my twin brother John and I assumed a paper route, delivering the daily Winnipeg Free Press in our 500 population town of Rossburn, which we had moved to from Winnipeg in 1948, dad being a teacher.
Later still, my father wanted to put concrete walls along the sides of our earthen basement where the furnace was and the next year to build a concrete coal bin with walls and floor at one end of the basement where there was a coal chute opening. I remember building forms and mixing and pouring concrete and how nice and functional these looked. This may be where I got my great love for reinforced concrete design and construction, which we will see later I was extensively involved with in my early career and still love to read about and view today.
Then came High School and lots more sports, tennis in the summer and skating and shinny hockey in the winter, there being nothing organized. For lack of anything else to do, playing Pool at the towns two Pool Rooms became popular as part of the hanging around downtown component of teenage life in a small town in those days. John and I started Curling with the School at age 12 and continued every winter, eventually curling in the Menís Club with a High School team while in Grade 11. In those days every man, women and child curled in the townís 2 sheet rink.
Rossburn house as seen in 2007
At High School, academics started to become more important and my ability and liking for Maths and Physics came to the fore. In 1957 ,dad moved our family 27 miles west to become Principal at the Russell High School, this being a larger town of about 1000 people. Mother taught lower grades here as well, just like she had done at Rossburn. That summer however before moving, my mother though her Uncle George Herriot, a Civil Engineer and Dominion Land Surveyor in Winnipeg got me a summer job as a rodman/chainman for a Winnipeg Surveyor named Mc Philipps with an office on Kennedy St. I moved to Winnipeg so to speak for 4 or 5 weeks, taking the Wolsley bus everyday from where Uncle George and Aunt Mae lived on Lenore Street to downtown near The Bay where McPhillips had his office. I carried one of those old metal lunch buckets on the bus. There was another high school boy with us and we would travel around the city doing various surveying jobs.
John and I made many new friends almost instantly with our new classmates in Russell almost The Grade 12 class was about 14, three girls and 11 boys, quite a mature and smart group, Again, John and I formed a High School curling team and curled in the Menís Club with the writer skipping the team, eventually winning the Club Championship. Our team picture still hangs in the Clubhouse, at least it did in 1994 at a High School Reunion. In the Spring I joined a High school Fastball team called the Giants, that we entered into a six team menís Town League, and we were successful in winning the Championship that summer!
With dad as the Principal a lot of emphasis this year was about after High School and my strength in maths and Physics led me straight into applying to the University of Manitoba to the Engineering Faculty. It all seemed so natural and logical at that point and an easily made decision. Two of my classmates Lawrence and Ron also applied as did brother John to Science and we were all excepted. It was the summer of 1958.
RUSSELL GR 12 GRAD CLASS
JOHN RON MARY DON TODD LAWRENCE BETTY WILMA BOB EVIE GORDON
So that is how I basically ended up in Engineering. Some beneficial ancestral genetic traits. A proclivity for building things as a boy, a Great Uncleís assist in a summer job, and gift for the logic of mathematics and Physics in High School. It is interesting to add a note here, that many decades later I had occasion to lead an engineering organization through a Myer-Briggs Personality Type exercise, with some very interesting results applicable to this subject and dealt with in more detail later in this book.
Arriving at Tache Hall on a Sunday afternoon on an early-September day was the kind of transformative experience that one experiences only a few times in life. John and I had been driven by our parents to the Student Residence on the University of Manitoba Campus in Fort Garry ,then a Winnipeg suburb city. The building was located on the south side of the campus quadrangle, which itself was the length of a football field on all sides. The Residence housed about 500 students, half men, half women. The men were at one end, women at the other, separated by a giant dining room, secured on both sides by locked doors except during dining hours, for this was long before the era of co-ed dorms, and no visiting or liquor either. Above the Dining room was a hall used for Friday night dances.
The Residence had 4 floors, the first being at a half basement level.. It had three arms extending back towards the River, the two end ones containing rooms and the central one a gym. The womenís side was basically identical. There was also a laundry room for doing your laundry and a TV room. Maids came and changed bedding once a week.
I was assigned a basement room to be shared with my Russell classmate Lawrence, as was appropriate for first year, younger more noisy students. Beside us would be Ron from Russell and his roommate John, also from Russell and also enrolled in Engineering, but who had taken his Grade 12 at United College in Winnipeg. John had signed up with the ROTP ,so would have his education paid for by the Canadian Army. Brother John was on the second floor with an assigned Science roommate
Tache Hall with location(green) of dorm room, 1st&2nd year
The room was furnished with two beds, one on each side at the front and two desks behind the beds. A large window looked out at the quadrangle at ground level. There were no bathrooms, this function being provided by large common washrooms with about ten sinks, showers and toilets ,one located at each end of each floor. The showers were fantastic! A room key and meal card were the keys to living here, lining up during designated dining hours cafeteria style. If you slept in or missed a meal you did without.í Unless you had goodies from home. There was a Canteen open in the evening in the sub-basement where you could buy a chocolate bar or drink and the best milkshakes ever tasted! There were a couple of pay phone booths on each floor, giving short shrift to external communications. One of the first things done was to sign up for daily delivery of the Winnipeg Free Press, conveniently dropped at your room door in late afternoon.
Looking out the window from my room you could see the Administration Building across the Quadrangle. Beyond, but not visible was the Science Building. On their left was a row of Engineering Buildings, from the very first 60 years ago to the newest, and on the west side of the Quad was the Arts Building. Directly to the left along the road was Aggie Row, a long series of Agriculture Faculty buildings. In the far left corner of the Quad, across from the main Engineering Building was the Campus Book Store. This also served as a bus stop for buses from the city, there being a turnaround loop just in front of the store. Just beyond the store was the big Student Union Building containing giant gyms where our exams would all be written.
Far over to the left at the edge of the Campus was St. Paulís College, with its large Chapel Building, Residence and Lecture Buildings. All of this would be my new universe for the next eight months as life shifted dramatically to a new dimension.
THE FACULTY OF ENGINEERING
A little more than 54 years ago as I write this from memory now ,come Monday morning the four of us Lawrence, Ron, John A and myself headed out the front door of Tache Hall, down the sidewalk along the west side of the Quad and into a new future, entering the main Faculty of Engineering Building. Memories are dim as to how it all progressed, but we were assembled and given orientation information by both Professorial staff and the Student Council ,the latter, probably from the Senior Stick, which is what the head of each Facultyís elected Student Council was titled.
There were some 300 of us first year Engineers, not a single female amongst us, that trend not yet under way. We were broken into six sections of 50 each and assigned a home room where we would take our lectures. Half our time would be spent in a very large Drafting/Drawing Hall where each sat on a stool with a Drafting desk in front. Depending on the Section one was in, you spent either the morning or the afternoon here and the other half day at lectures, three 50 minute sessions in a row each day.
We were given a list of text books that we needed, plus a list of drafting equipment and tools, and of course the all important Slide Rule, the precursor to todayís calculator, which we would become expert at in a matter of weeks, given the nature of Engineering. Also required were a dozen or more Notebooks as one had to take notes at every lecture. Our drawing equipment would consist of a Drafting Board about 30 inches by 36 and 1 inch thick, which was laid flat on your drafting desk/table, along with a T-Square, 2 large plastic triangles, 2 three Ėsided plastic scales ,one Imperial, the other Metric and a set of Protractors or Compass instruments of various sizes. All of these books, equipment, slide rule and required 2H pencils would have to be bought at the Campus bookstore over the next few days. Even then it was several hundred dollars. To carry things around one required a fairly large Briefcase, which I still have today. Nearly everyone on Campus carried a briefcase in those days
THE ENGINEERING INDOCRINATION The Student Council sessions were aimed at properly initiating us into the Facullty in terms of its history and tradition. Information was provided on the Engineering sports program and teams, how to participate and earn your Letter (E).Also sheets of engineering songs or cheers such as "We are, we are, we are the Engineers; we can, we can, we can drink 40 beers! And the" Lady Godiva "one who "Through Coventry did Ride; to show to all the villagers, her pretty bare white hide"! These things were so pounded into you in first year that one literally can never forget them!
THE WORK BEGINS
Classes started in a couple of days. Subjects were many, with several having two lectures per week. Algebra, Trigonometry, Calculus, Physics, Chemistry, Mechanics and English were all taken in our home room, and over to the Science building for Geology. Engineering Drawing was 3 hours 3 times a week. For the first few weeks in the latter, all we learned was how to print. Endless plates to do and be marked 1 to 10. Eventually we started on different shapes and items. In those days an Engineer had to draw whatever he designed, so the next two years we would turn us into pretty good draftsmen.
About three weeks in it was time for Freshie week with stunts all over the campus and a Freshie parade through downtown Winnipeg Friday evening. By then we had all bought and received new Engineering jackets, a dark brown color ,fairly heavy material with a n Engineering Faculty crest on the front. Most engineering students had one and they were everywhere on campus.Each Faculty recruited a female to be their Freshie Queen candidate and events were held around the Campus.Friday evening we took the bus downtown and walked and rode floats in the parade outfitted in our new jackets. Our favorite stunt was to surround a policeman and circle him while chanting one of our Engineering songs above.
Life in Residence settled in, we got used to the mass produced food and standard rotating menu; breakfast was the best. Notes were taken at all lectures and evenings were almost entirely spent on homework assignments which had to be handed in regularly. Subjects like Algebra Calculus and Mechanics involved much analysis, reasoning, and trial and error problem solving. Assignments counted as part of your final mark. We went to a few Friday night dances, but for some reason that soon gave way to games of pickup basketball in the gym, and there were always clothes to wash, and Mike Hammer was a standing room only draw in the TV Room. Sometimes we would go for a milkshake at the canteen which opened at 9. On Sundays there was the walk over t St Paulís on the other side of campus for Mass. As the year went on there was more and more pressure to play cards as a diversion from homework and this eventual it led to more problems getting people out of your room so you could work.
A hi-lite later in the fall at the end of November was a Grey Cup party that 6 or 7 of us organized at one of the Pembina Strip motels. We rented a room and managed somehow to get some liquor, we all being 3 years below the legal age of the day,21. It was a great celebration as we watched on TV as our beloved Blue Bombers beat Hamilton 28 to 27.
At Christmas we took the bus home to Russell for a weekís break but not before writing at least a half dozen mid-term exams, sitting with hundreds of other students at long tables in a large gym, the students on each side of you, from a different Faculty writing their own exam. Most of these exams were 3 hours
Then it was back again for the second semester where a new subject Surveying was added. Even though I had curled every winter since 12 years old, a game I loved, a decision was made to forego it this year in the interest of maximizing attention to studies. Then on February 2nd on the morning radio news came the shocking plane crash death of Buddy Holly, in a field not that far south of Winnipeg. later immortalized in song as "the day the music died"
There was a midterm break in February and a 3 day break at Easter. In April came a very long stretch of final exams, pretty well every second day for about three weeks. There was no time for anything but studying and concentrating and in effect surviving . Never having experienced anything like this grind before, we faced the reality that if you failed more than three subjects you would be kicked out of Engineering and have to sit out for a full year before you could be re-admitted, so you were literally driven by fear and of course possible major embarrassment, never mind your desired whole life direction being at stake!
Immediately after exams were over, and first thing in May we started two weeks of Survey School. We were divided into teams of three or four and shown how to set up and operate a Transit(officially a Theodolite) and a Level. Then we were given circuits to run keeping notes in a standard Survey Notebook. Team members took turns running the instruments, chaining measurements and holding the elevation rod or picket when using the transit. This continued for a period of two weeks around the campus, with half day shifts. Today the Transit instrument and the Level as we knew them are obsolete and can only be found in museums, like the Slide Rule. This type of work while still critical to engineering survey and construction is now done with modern laser instruments with different technical names.
UNDERGRAD SUMMER WORK-YEAR 1
During April it was time to start writing letters to try and get an engineering related summer job, to start getting some related experience towards an eventual position after graduation, but also to help to find out more about the kind of work you liked. Also of critical importance was earning money to pay your tuition fees and living costs which my parents had to endure the full burden of in first year. Letters were sent to different Dept. of Highways offices, Provincial Water Resources and Manitoba Hydro.
It took a little while after finishing Survey School and returning to Russell, but about mid June I received a letter offering a job with the Manitoba Highways office in Swan River as a rodman on a survey crew. Swan River was a tow n of about 2000 at that time, located about 100 miles straight north of Russell on Highway 83.
Going to this job sticks in my mind because my dad drove me up there and I ended up getting a room on the 3rd floor of an old rooming house. I had recently bought a big Nordmende radio which had short wave on it and beingI a bit of a fight fan at that time I remember hunkering down in my room after Dd left and listening to short wave on my radio to the heavyweight title bout between Swedish champion Ingemar Johanson and Floyd Patterson from Yankee Stadium. This was held on Friday night,June 26th, which I canít totally square with starting work on a Saturday, but in those days Highways offices did work 6 days of the week.
So I must have got signed up on Saturday for start of work Monday. I met the District Engineer Merc Corkel , a recent graduate Engineer and his Assistant Hec Peden, a non graduate engineer. Again in those days Highways promoted many experienced non graduate technical officers to management positions as they were just starting to hire graduates as the work load exploded under the catch up program of the newly elected Duff Roblin Government.
I stayed in my boarding room over the week-end, walking downtown to the Valley Hotel for meals. Monday I met my Party Chief/Instrument man Bob Feery and a local high school graduate Alfred and we headed out down the highway to work.
The job we were assigned to was located about 50 miles south of Swan River and involved the rebuilding of a secondary highway from Highway 83 through the little town of San Clara located a mile in, and from there 5 or 6 miles through to Boggy Creek, a Post Office and store. Further along, this road led to Duck Mountain Provincial Park where Childs and Blue Lakes were located,. We had a construction Foreman with us and a couple of cats and scrapers, a dozer and grader as our equipment. They worked by the hour and were supervised by the Foreman. Time was kept track of by so called "shaker cards" inserted into a devi ce attached to the machine. As long as a machine was moving the card would be marked with a squiggly line. Our job was to provide the alignment and the cuts and fill stakes for the Foreman and equipment operators to go by.
Map of Manitoba showing first year summer work location
Pay was $8.80 per day and our room and board was paid at the job location. We stayed at the San Clara Hotel, each having a room on the second floor. The bathroom was a common one, down the hall. We ate our meals at the hotel dining room, whatever was being served that day, driving to and from the worksite. One memory is that at the noon meal we would have a large beer glass full of tomato juice which always seemed to hit the spot after a hot dusty morning! San Clara only had about 100 people and a large old Catholic church, the community being a French speaking enclave. There was absolutely nothing to do at night, but there was a small pool hall which we made lots of use of.
We returned to Swan River either Friday evening or Saturday afternoon depending on the work progress and weather. If it rained we were shut down. Back in Swan River I was able to rent a room in the basement from a family for use on weekends. Life was dull, I would walk to the Valley Hotel for meals, to the laundrymat to wash clothes and maybe to the Theatre depending what movie was playing. I would buy paperback books to wile the spare time away. Dad came and picked me up at San Clara for the August long week-end and for a final time for the Labour day weekend in September which concluded by summer job.
LESSON LEARNED: Much Engineering work, particularly construction takes place away from populated areas and living away from family or friends during the week or even a month can be normal and is a part of serving ones apprenticeship so to speak in terms of getting work experience. This was also the first exposure to heavy equipment on construction and again valuable lessons were learned about heavy equipment, how dirt was actually moved, and the noise and safety awareness in proximity to such equipment.
We all passed to second year with a clear pass in all subjects and returned to the Tache Hall Residence on Campus in mid September. As we were now a little older and presumably more serious returning students we were awarded rooms on the third floor, again adjacent to each other. These rooms looked straight out on the Quadrangle and were ideally located. Second year continued the heavy grind with many subjects particularly second year Calculus and Mechanics. Thermodynamics was a nemesis for everyone, it involving unique concepts such as Entropy
As the year went on it became easier and easier to slake off studies and spend time in the gym playing basketball and cards in our room. The latter was a real challenge in terms of getting friends out of your room. During the last half of the year I resorted to spending a lot of time in the third floor study room, even to do regular homework and assignments .Interwoven into this life style with so many friends was a strong sense of stagnation in terms of breaking from the routine and getting outside the Building. It was all too convenient and easy with the rooms, dining hall, Gym, TV room just to follow the routine .Again I wasnít Curling or doing anything outside the Residence and Engineering Buildings. In some ways it became a little like the movie Groundhog Day. There were only two memorable events that I can remember. One was another super Grey Cup party at a motel on Pembina with the Blue Bombers winning another Grey Cup.
The other was a panty raid that broke out of nowhere one night in February when large numbers of students began milling around on the third floor hallway near the locked doors to the hall between the menís and womenís residences. Eventually the door was pushed open and somehow access was gained to the womenís residence. Everyone was running around with bandanas over their faces so they wouldnít be recognized. Ron and I joined in with our own similar disguise and ended up carrying a girl by the arms and legs into the hall of the menís residence. Someone took a picture of this, of which I had a copy ,but since have lost track of. These pictures were later used to identify people and large numbers of students were fined including both of us. So many students were involved they couldnít kick us all out of Residence, the normal penalty.
As the year ended I knew that somehow I had to break out of that routine the next year. Second year finally ended in mid-May after our second Survey School practice field work session. It primarily involved more complicated circuits including use of the Sextant.
MORE WORK EXPERIENCE
This Spring I was successful in getting work out of the Birtle District Highways office (See map below) being much closer to home. Birtle was a town of perhaps 800 people 25 miles southeast of Russell. Here the District Engineer was John MacDonald, a non-graduate but a very capable and personable fellow, who everyone called Johnny. I met him my first morning and then was off to work on the reconstruction of the road from Russell to Angusville about 10 miles away. My job was as a soils density man to take density tests as the work progressed to ensure compaction was adequate for the material.
I was outfitted with several sample jars, a digging tool and a jar of silica sand and metal cone attached. On a portion of the grade behind or away from where the equipment was working I would scrape away loose material, getting to a compacted surface, level it and using a template scoop out a 2 or 3 inch depth of clay material into an empty jar. I would then put the cone with the silica sand jar over the hole and fill it, letting the sand find its level in the jar. I would then take the dug out material and the silica sand jar minus what had gone in the hole and by weighing these two and knowing the weight/volume ratio of the sand I could determine the density of the compacted material. This Silica sand was a unique product that had a standard weight to volume ratio that was always constant. Today that test is done with a hand held sensing machine that is calibrated to send an infra ray into the material and give a readout of density.
My boss during this time was a Grade Inspector named Eddie Liefer who lived in Russell so he picked me up each morning and we would go out for the day. He would drop me off at spots to test and moved me back and forth to the lab trailer as necessary. We ate lunch at the Contractors camp where his trailers, cookhouse and my lab was located. We would have had a survey crew setting line and levels, but I canít recall who they were. The pay this year had increased to $11.40 per day with my increased responsibilities, so that over the summer I was able to add about $1,000 towards my University costs.
The Contractor on the job was Widdicombe and Lowe from the nearby Town of Foxwarren. I met the owners Ted Widdicombe and Andy Lowe the first day. Ted basically ran the operation on a daily basis while Andy spent his time farming. Their equipment spread consisted of a half-dozen motorized scrapers, a couple of D8 pusher cats, graders and sheep-foot packers. Ted was not hesitant to stop nearby from time to discuss the quality of compaction. He was a very nice man who I would meet up with more than once over the years.
This job lasted to about mid July after which I was assigned to a Gravel crushing job near Shoal Lake. My boss was a Gravel Inspector whose name is lost. The Contractor, Chegwin Construction was set up in a gravel pit a few miles from town and had to crush and haul to a stockpile a few miles further south on Highway 21 towards Hamiota. I was asked to run the Scale, weighing trucks to determine their payload before heading to the stockpile. There was a third person with us doing Sieve Analysis to ensure the gravel stayed within specification. I would have preferred that job but didnít get it, so I ran the scale for the month I was there.
One of the things I was asked to do as Scaleman was to make sure no overloaded trucks were allowed out on the haul highway to the stockpile as it had load restrictions on it. Each truck axle was allowed a certain load, I think 18,000 pounds. If the load was over I had to ask them to pull off the scale, dump some gravel and return. Each driver had to have a weigh ticket, which was also used to pay each trucker.
One driver ,Iíd say about 30 was always overloading his truck which was a semi-trailer, trying to earn more money. I would send him back to dump and he would get quite mad, as of course it cost him both time and money. On several occasions he would come into the Scalehouse to argue and ask me if I wanted a black eye. We ate lunch at the contractors cookhouse and he would sometimes make loud reference to the problem he had with me for others to hear. I never backed down and made my boss aware of the threats and he finally got the message to stop overloading . He would do this by asking the front end loader operator to put on another half bucket or so.
We stayed at the Shoal Lake Hotel at night ,each having a room on the second floor and ate breakfast and supper there. Friday night or Saturday morning we would either drive to Birtle or my dad woud pick me up at the Shoal Lake Hotel for the weekend back in Russell.
LESSON LEARNED: When it comes to ethics and doing your job right, in the face of bullying tactics I reinforced my confidence by sticking to my instructions, maintaining the integrity of my contract oversight . Two years later I would take the Kipling Oath of Ethics to receive my Engineering Ring.
That job was finished about mid August and my last assignment that summer was as part of a 3 man survey crew taking cross-sections on the highway between the Town of Kenton and Highway to the north. The Birtle office brought in an Instrument man/Party chief from Dauphin , named Ed Knacknishne to head it up. Bill Whally who normally worked in the office and I were the chainman/rodman crew. We had to take a cross-section of the road every hundred feet for its approximate 10 mile length. Ed did the instrument note keeping while Bill and I walked from fence to fence holding a chain to measure the distance and holding the rod for an elevation reading at each surface elevation change. The weather was hot that year and we would spend the whole day for about a month until mid September outdoors on this job. At night we stayed at the Kenton Hotel, separate rooms and common washrooms again. Saturday we would head back to Birtle for pickup at noon and Ed would head home for Dauphin.
During the summer I made a final decision to move out of Residence and find board and room in the city. The place had become a distraction in terms of stagnation, lethargy and doing something different and there was a feeling of needing to go in a different direction in terms of life style.
By watching the ads in the Winnipeg Free Press I was successful in arranging to board at a private residence at 1079 Corydon Street, which was in the central part of the city where many university students stayed and had excellent bus connection to both downtown and the University. The Corydon bus stopped a few houses away and went downtown. The Stafford bus was 2 blocks away and connected directly to the University bus on Pembina Highway.
The house was owned by Mr and Mrs Harry Siddon, and was a bungalow where I had a room in the basement. The Siddonís two daughters were married and their young son Lorne had jus t moved to Calgary to apprentice so to speak as a managerial trainee with Dominion Stores. They were looking to supplement their income with a boarding student. Harry worked as an aircraft mechanic with Air Canada at the airport.
Another friend, Del Stitt from Rossburn days, was a year older than me and had taken Engineering the year before me but had failed out, then sat out a year and worked . He was boarding nearby and had a car and I was able to join his carpool. My brother John had also moved from Residence and was living nearby , so their were the three of us plus two girls that Del added from other contacts. We would each contribute 2 or 3 dollars a week for gas, and he would pick us up in the morning, drive to the University and walk from the parking lot to our various Faculties. Around 5 P M we would meet at the main Library, walk to the parking lot and drive home. The briefcases came in mighty handy now! Mrs Siddon packed a lunch for Del and I each day. On Sundays I would walk down to church at St. Ignatious on the corner of Stafford and Corydon.
LESSON LEARNED: By taking a personal initiative I was able to break out of a stagnant situation, make new friends and reinvigorate my life including sporting activities, while creating a much superior study/work environment. This move built up confidence and would serve me in good stead as I faced similar dead ends and dealt with them as my Engineering career moved along.
Meanwhile back at 3rd year Engineering two of our four Russell engineering guys succumbed to the inattention/distraction disease associated with Residence life and failed out. Ron never returned, moving back home and eventually getting a job in the just beginning computer field at the IMC mine at Esterhazy Saskatchewan, the first such mine in Canada. We lost touch with each other for a long time, but would reconnect again in Winnipeg in 1969. Ronís roommate John was booted from the Army, but to his credit returned to Engineering after sitting out a year and eventually graduated in Electrical. My roommate Lawrence passed and remained in Residence.
Third year was the first year of specialization and Civil Engineering was my choice. Finally we were getting into more hard core engineering technology and design. Subjects like Soil Mechanics, Hydraulics, strength of Materials, Reinforced concrete, Water and Sanitation came to the fore. Mornings involved lectures on theory and afternoon labs on design. Our class of about 50 were all that was left from the 300 in first year in terms of Civil Engineering. My former roommate from Russell, Lawrence was there plus a couple of good acquaintance classmates from Residence and years 1 and 2.
On the Social/Sports side I decided to play hockey again for one of the Engineering teams. These were organized on an ability level basis and entered into a grouping with other Faculties teams based again on ability. We had several practices at the University rink in December, then started league games in January. We were in with a bunch of small Faculties like Law, Medicine, Dentistry etc. All our equipment was supplied including sticks and Engineering Hockey sweaters. The only thing we needed were skates and a jock strap.
Early in October when I made the decision to play I started going out to the Winnipeg Arena by bus on Sunday nights for public skating and later, when it got colder to the outdoor skating oval at Crescentwood Community Club a couple of blocks further down Corydon from the house. Our team was the third best Engineering team of four and was about half made up of second year guys who seemed to know each other plus 7 or 8 individuals like myself from 3rd and 4th year. I ended up playing on a lined with two other loners like me, and to the surprise and shock of the second year guys who had made up their buddy lines, we did really well. I recall scoring 6 goals that first year in 10 or 12 games and I was only an average player.
I also decided to get back into Curling, the Engineerring league being Sunday morning at the Pembina Curling Club. I joined a team with a classmate/Residence friend ,Bryan Purdy who had lined up a 4th year Civil, Clarence Jack from Strathclair to skip. Our 4th man escapes me. We were all equals so to speak in this league, and had an average year including participation in the annual university bonspiel held across all City curling clubs.
On an overall basis the year was very successful. I had broken out of the Residence rut and stagnation , made some new friends and acquaintances and taken the initiative to get out in the city and back into active sports. After Christmas Del Stitt ran into a problem with his boarding place and Harry and his wife, having met him through our morning pickup routine asked if he would like to stay with them, also in the basement in another little room they had there, so I ended up with a roommate so to speak ,and like to think that Del being asked to stay there was based on their positive experience with me and the fact that Del and I had grown up together in Rossburn.
Map showing summer engineering work in Birtle Highways District in 1960 &1961
THIRD YEAR SUMMER WORK
This summer I realized my ambition of being an Instrument man and leading my own survey crew. I was back at the Birtle Highways District (See map above) and was assigned to a paving contact on PTH 83 immediately south of Birtle and through the Assiniboine Valley just south of Miniota, a small hamlet at the top of the valley. My brother John was working at this District also and he was one of my crew, along with Gary, a local non university man who owned a car for which he was paid $6.00 a day as our crew vehicle. We stayed at the Birtle Hotel and drove to the job each morning, eating lunch at the Contractors camp.
The Project Engineer for Highways was Al Melnyck a recent graduate to whom I reported. We had a Paving Foreman overseeing the work at the Ashphalt Spreader and laying the Base Course and a Lab man regularly testing the Asphalt at the Batch Plant. The latter was set up on a hill overlooking the valley as was the Contractors camp.
My crews job was to run centreline for our Foreman and the Contractor to allow the setting up of a twine string line to guide the Spreader. The work was not that onerous as such but the Highway was not engineered that well and there were many curves up and down through the valley that were eyeballed a bit during initial construction and sometimes had to be run 3 0or 4 times, using trial and error to fit a properly engineered curve to them.
This was a big paving job and lasted until late July. We then moved to a Grading job on Highway 41 between St. Lazare and McCauly about 8 miles to the south. This job was underway when we arrived and our crew supplemented the one already there. It was nice to renew acquaintances with Ted Widdicombe again, his outfit having been awarded this contract.
There were 6 or 7 of us in the two crews and we stayed at night in a large bunkhouse, eating breakfast and lunch at Widdicombeís camp. At night we would drive to St. Lazare and have supper at the St Lazare Hotel. One of my negative memories is having so many of us sleeping in bunks in this small garage size bunkhouse, but a good memory was supper each night and being drinking age 21 and having a cold beer or two each night in the beer parlour before supper.
We were there till about the end of August, and then moved back to Birtle for 2 or 3 weeks doing quantity calculations in the office and the odd day fieldtrip with one of the Engineers. A real benefit of being in Birtle much of this summer and being with Bill Whalley who was now in the office full time is that I got an opportunity to learn how to play Golf. Birtle had a beautiful little 9 hole course with sand greens and Bill convinced me to try it out. I ended up buying a cheap set of clubs and getting quite a few games in September on Monday y to Friday evenings.
There were a number of students staying at the Birtle Hotel the last few weeks of the summer work season. One or two of the local guys had access to cars of their parents and some nights a few of us might ride around town. There were a few good looking girls around that summer and sometimes they would let us give them a ride to where they were going, or ride around with us for a bit.
LESSON LEARNED: This is not so much an Engineering lesson as a university one in terms of the value of undergraduate work experience. As a result of my highways work I decided that It was not either interesting or challenging enough and that I did not want to be a Highways Engineer. Consequently I did not apply the following year with Manitoba Highways for a permanent Engineering position, even though with my experience I should have had no problem getting one.
FOURTH AND FINAL YEAR
Our last year was much like year three but heavier on design. We still had some lectures on things like Hydraulics and Soil Mechanics and Sanitation or Structural design, but much of it then led directly to problem solving assignments. In the second half of the term we had major design projects having to do the design and engineering drawing for a large steel truss girder bridge, literally member by member. Also a sewer system for a subdivision and finally we were given a contour map of an area in Labrador and asked to do a route location, design and quantity balance for a mine access road. Much time was spent in not only doing the designs, but doing the engineering drawings for these assignments. There was also my Thesis project,for which I paired with a classmate Peter Rebizant. The study and report involved testing steel beams which we had cut holes in and using strain gauges and a hydraulic press determining the stress and strain impacts. For that we won a small cash prize from the Canadian Institute of Steel of Construction.
Meanwhile I was back boarding with the Siddons again, as was Del and our car pool was pretty much the same, again with Brother John living nearby. I continued playing hockey for a second year, the team being more or less the same group of guys as the year before with a few changes. Again I curled in the Engineering league Sunday morning at the Pembina Club. This year I skipped the Rink and took us into the big University Bonspiel, where we did fairly well. The end result of all this sport was that I earned my letter "E", which I still have, so I lettered as they say.
On the social front, fourth year being the last, was organized to have a Graduation Ball just before final exams began. This was a formal affair with a Dinner and orchestra dance with graduates in tuxedoes and their dates in formal gowns. It was my ambition to attend and experience this event in my final year. Accordingly I looked up a girl from my Ross burn days, who was now in Winnipeg. Her name was Eunice and she accepted my invitation to be my date.The graduation was particularly memorable because we had a pre-dinner reception at the Officers Mess at HMCS Chippewa, one of our class being in the Naval l ROTP, followed by dinner and dance at the Ballroom of the Fort Garry Hotel.
GRADUATION DINNER &BALL FROM LEFT PETER REBIZANT,THESIS PARTNER. THE AUTHOR, FRONT EUNICE,FAC.REP,FRIEND BILL RIPAT. WE ARE HOLDING OUR GRAD MUGS. WOMEN DATES UNKNOWN
I do not recall much from our actual Graduation ceremony in May when we received our degrees but it does seem to me that we wore Cap and Gowns, although there are no pictures with my parents that I ever recall seeing. Then there was the "Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer" as we received our Iron Rings, and finally that long awaited first day of work as an Engineer!
FROM BROWN&GOLD 1962 YEARBOOK: MURPHY, Donald Joseph---comes to University from Oak River, Manitoba, Junior Matric at Rossburn, Senior Matric at Russell, Manitoba. Inter-faculty hockey, curling.
ENGINEERING CERTIFICATE RECEIVED AT GRADUATION IN CIVIL ENGINEERING
PRARIE FARM REHABILITATION ADMINISTRATION (PFRA)
During the second half of the final year the Author went to a number of job interviews with organizations which set up interviews on campus. By that time he had decided that he wanted to work in the field of Hydraulics (water resources) or Structures. PFRA was an Agency of the Federal Department of Agriculture with offices on the Prairies, and as fate would have it their recruitment objectives and the Authorís work interests coincided almost perfectly. A very good interview was had in that regard and a month or two later a position was offered as a Water Resources Hydraulic Engineer in their Winnipeg office, at an Engineer I, pay at $430 per month. It was a perfect beginning. Their offices were located right in downtown Winnipeg at the corner of South Main Street and Water, on the 6th floor of the Federal Building.
PFRA was established in 1935 under federal legislation under Minister Gardner, the Agricultural Minister of the time, to provide assistance to prairie farmers who were suffering from severe drought conditions. Its main role would be for Engineering and financial assistance with respect to the provision of water. Its mandate was only toward the three Prairie Provinces with headquarters in Regina. Regional engineering offices were established in Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary, each charged with working closely with Provincial Governments. A central Engineering Design section was set up in Regina under a Chief Engineer, along with a major Soils Engineering and laboratory on the University campus in Saskatoon, under a Chief Soil Mechanics Engineer.
The first day of work was the 7th of May, 1962. The Engineering office was located on the west side of the 6th floor of the Federal Building It consisted of the offices of the Regional Engineer, Herman Riesen, Assít Reg. Eng. George Forsythe, an administration, financial, secretarial office, a large office for Staff Engineers, an office for the Senior Regional Hydraulics Engineer, Jim Berry, and finally a large drafting room for 8 to 10 draftsmen under Head Draftsman Ron Down. There were also 2 or 3 four man full time survey crews working construction or field surveys of proposed projects.
The Author was of course located in the staff engineers office where there were six desks for six engineers age 22 to 40 working on different proposed dam projects and assignments under the direction of the Senior Hydraulics Engineer. Most of them were recent graduates under 30 ,so we had much in common and friendships flowed quickly. As luck would have it the Author was replacing a just departing engineer and his desk was in front of the main office window, looking down on the junction of South Main Street and Graham Avenue. During the summer 1or 2 of the engineers would be in the field supervising dam construction projects.
Herman Riesen, our Regional Engineer was probably in his mid fifties, a very stern looking man who was rarely seen smiling. He was known for this manner and as our offices were all connected by interior doors, he was prone to suddenly bursting through the side door into our engineers staff office on his way to Jim Berryís office on the other side. We engineers would dread such occurrences for fear of being caught talking or joking about something ie. not heads to the grindstone!
PEMBINA RIVER PROJECT-WINKLER AREA IRRIGATION SCHEME
From his very first day the Author began work on a major project, that through a variety of studies would keep him busy for a full two year period. It involved the proposed construction of a large dam on the Pembina River by the Americans in North Dakota and a conveyance system in Canada to bring water to an irrigation project immediately south of the towns of Winkler and Morden. The irrigated area could vary from 7000 to 20,000 acres
The Author was the only engineer in the office working on the project although others did bits and pieces from time to time, and work had been going on with PFRA and the Manitoba Government since 1959. Jim Berry supervised and directed the work and every few months would attend meeting with the Americans who were simultaneously working on their components, primarily the main dam.
After graduation and in May the Author along with Del Stitt and his younger brother Bob, a Royal Bank employee rented a one bedroom apartment in Palmer House on Assinaboine Ave. Later in October a friend of Delís Gary Smith from Birtle joined us. We had many friends from my Highway days in common. We learned to batch, cook clean and buy food From there. the Author walked to work and back. For entertainment we played golf on Saturdays, visited with friends at their place or ours, went to the races and in winter curled at the Grain Exchange and watched a lot of junior hoclkey at the Arena. That first winter the Author ordered and built a Heathkit Amplifier and with a record player we had music when needed. In January of 1965 Bob was transferred to Churchill and in July Del got married. Another friend Ab Clearwater , a Law student and football player moved in.
During the first two years at work five reports were produced, the covers of which are shown below. Each of the reports covered a different component , ie. the Water Conveyance system from the dam, the water distribution system to the fields, land levelling, waste water collection, evapo-transpiration and percolation losses, cost estimates for all components and cost benefit studies of the 5 alternative sized schemes evaluated. The work involved detailed sizing and preliminary design of canals and structures for all five alternative size projects including inverted siphons, drop and turnout structures etc
Much of the project was developed following the concepts developed by the U S Bureau of Reclamation many years prior in the San Joaquin Valley in California, known as the breadbasket of American irrigation agriculture. The Bureau had produced dozens of Bulletins on their work there and these were available to us. As regards the Land Levelling requirments and design, our office brought in an experienced Engineer from our Lethbridge office who had worked on earlier PFRA irrigation projects in Alberta. The Author worked with him for several days as he instructed on the techniques involved. His name was Garland Laliberte and after his departure it would take several months to complete this aspect of the work, quantify and cost it for the large plan alternatives proposed. As a point of interest Mr Laliberte would progress in his career and sometime in the mid nineties would become Dean of Engineering at the University of Manitoba.
PRODUCTIVE ACREAGE STUDY REPORT-FEB. 1963 IRRIGATION SCHEME DESIGN REPORT-OCT. 1963
WATER CONVEYANCE SYSTEM REPORT-MAR. 1964 PLAN ALTERNATIVES FOR PEMBINA DAM-APRIL 64
The report above was the final PFRA Report done for the project and would have been provided to the Manitoba Government and Canadian and U. S. members of the Engineering Committee of the Pembina River Engineering Board of the International Joint Commission. The acknowledgements and PFRA staff credits in the Report and the Authors role are shown on the right. The Reports Biibliograpry section includes Interim Reports 3 and 7 shown on the previous page. Unfortunetly this project was never approved for actual implementation.
During the winter of 1963-64 the Author and a fellow Staff Engineer Victor Lysack enrolled in a gtraduate course in Hydrology at the University given by one of my former professors Ed Kuiper, who was the engineering brains behind the Winnipeg Floodway The course was taken Saturday mornings from Sept to April 1964 and gave the author a one course credit towards a Masters Degree in Water Resources
By late Spring the Author was assigned to do work on water control structures on the Boyne River which shall be referred to later. He also received his P.Eng designation and stamp fom APEM, this requiring two years of supervised practise at the time.
It was also the time in late Spring to have the regular evaluation done and this time, surprise, it was done by the Regional Engineer Herman Riesen described earlier, rather than by my regul ar manager Jim Berry. The eva luation was good and the Author took the opportunity to make two requests of him. First he asked to be promoted to the Engineer 2 level, having moved quickly through the Level 1 salary grid . All of the staff engineer positions were designate 1-3 ,so it was just a matter of moving through the grid based on satisfactory performance.
Secondly,having worked in the office now for two full years, taken a masters course In Hydrology, done very Interesting work and written many reports, the Author had decided that he could not necessarily see himself doing this kind oof work on a permanent basis.The work atmosphere was great, but on a career basis it didnít seem that exciting, there was no visible promotion path and there was a desire to do something a little more challenging and interesting. The decision was made to ask to go out on construction, ie oversee constr uction of a dam, based in part on many very intriguing discussions the Author had held with the field Engineers when they came into the office for the winter Mr. Riesen accepted the request, noting that this would broaden my experience, but that at the moment there was no opening. Nevertheless this proved to be a suburbly timed move on the Authors part, and Herman Riesen, despite his stern appearance proved to be a good and fair man.
LESSON LEARNED: As was the case when moving out of Residence, this move/request again gave confidence to pursue my own career directions, even though a good safe job was in hand, but the perfect niche had not yet been found.
LESSON LEAERNED: This was not so much aparrent at the time but in retrospect the time spent writing reports, learning how to layout and organize material, utilizing the well used office copy of Rogets Theesaurus, and the structuring and organizing of reports, with Introductions, Synopsis, Tables of contents, Appendices,Drawings, Biliography etc, would all come in very handy years later in terms of the writing of treasury board submissions, position papers and proposals, contracts and RFPís.
MOSSY RIVER DAM
Next came one of those moments when fate intervenes so to speak and an event occurs that is career changing. It was a little past mid June in 1964, a Friday morning with the Author sitting in the office working on an assignment, perhaps thinking about a golf reservation on Saturday morning, and the Assistant Regional Engineer, George Forsythe, who was in charge of all field operations, walks through the door and asks to see me in his office. What could this possibly be about? Had something gone awry somewhere with my work?
It was a bit of a shock and pleasant but a little unnerving surprise! Bill McQuay our senior construction engineer, who was referred to earlier as having had interesting discussins with about his field experiences, had just resigned and accepted a position with B C Hydro. He was currently overseeing construction of the Mossy River Dam, north of Dauphin and was leaving in one week. Mr Forsythe wanted me to replace him and go to the Dam on Monday with Bill for a one week transition handover, then take over as Resident Engineer to completion.WOW! This just weeks after asking Mr Riesen to go into the field on construction.
Come Monday morning, loaded with a suitcase and sleeping bag, we headed north to Mossy River, Bill, Wes Powell and myself. Wes was the Technical Oficer assigned to the job and both he and Bill lived in Winnipeg with their families, returning to the cty every couple of weeks. The third PFRA person at the site was Walter Brodowski from the Saskatoon sils office.
The project was located at the mouth of the Mossy River which was the only outlet from Lake Dauphin ,draining it north to Lake Winnipegosis.. It was located a mile or two off the Highway ,adjacent to a farm house and barn, the site being known locally as Terinís Landing, Mr Terin being the adjacent land owner. The strucure being built would act as an outlet control structure for Lake Dauphin.
We arrived without incident and a new adventure and learning experience ensued. The pictue below show how the job looked when the Author arrived. The week was spent going over the plans and specifications with Bill, Wes and Walter, meeting the contractors Superintendent Ivan Green and going over work completed to date. We stayed in two small PFRA trailers along with a laboratory, set up on the lakeshore a few hundred feet from the construction site itself. The contractors camp was next to the work area.We made our own meals, the trailer having electricity from the nearby farm service and propane gas for cooking. We heated water for washing ang the bathrom was a constructed outhouse. It was like camping beside a large lake, the main disadvantage being thatfor late June and most of July, the lakeshore air would be full of fishflies in the evening.
THIS PICTURE OF THE STRUCTURE FLOOR SLAB WAS TAKEN JINE 19,1964 ,3 DAYS PRIOR TO MY ARRIVAL ON SITE TO REPLACE BILL MCQUAY
The Contractor worked a 12 hour shift ,6 days a week,so there wasnít much time left at night after making supper, doing the dishes and maybe a few games of crib. We took turns with the cooking and chores. My cooking experience while living with three friends at Palme House served me well and as for the outhouse that only took me back seven years to Rossburn . We could take a bath in the Lake anytime we wanted and on weekends when we didnít return to Winnipeg we would stsay at the Dauphin Hotel on Saturday night, have a restaurent meal and shower.
My job as Resident Engineer was to in charge of administering and enforcing the Contract in terms of the quality of the material and workmanship which were all spelled out clearly in the contract document. It meanít constant communication with the contractors superintendent to discuss his daily plans and schedule and ,monitering material tests and above all inspecting workmanship during forming for and placing of concrete, This included detailed checking of reinforcing steel (rebar) ie. bar size,spacing tying ,all as shown on the plans and in the steel suppliers shop drawings. All concrete was placed using an elephant trunk and required proper vibration to ensure it was adequatly consolidated around the rebar and there would be no rock pockets and the trunk was placed such that concrete never hit the rebar causing segragation.
It was Walters job to moniter and test the aggregate and sand being used in the bin batcher and test for slump and air entrainment regularly while the pour was under way. It was Wesís resonsibility to provide and check all elevations,measurements and allignments for the forms before, duringa nd after the pour.He also kept a daily teperature and rainfall record using our rain gauge. The Author kept a daily diary of work progress and issues. All of this to be able to deal with potential claims or delay penalties.This was a great learning experience for me, having designed reinforced concrete in 3rd and 4th year and built forms, mixed and poured concrete with my dad as a boy.It was a kind of love at first sight!. We had to wear hardhats at all times, the greatest danger to us and the crew being during pouring using the dragline with and bucket to dump into the elephant trunk placed in the forms.
CONCRETE WEIGH BIN-BATCHER-MIXER SETUP AT MOSSY RIVER PROJECT
About mid July my now boss George Forsythe dropped in to check on progress, this being part of his overall responsibility. We had a good discussion while showing him a round the work and discussing technical issues. The contractors Superintendent was an experienced and knowledgeable man so there were not many issues. The weather had been good and we we pretty welkl on schedule. After George left and we were talking about his visit the Author wondered aloud why he had come and was he checking up on us/me. The next time he visited about two or three weeks later he pulled me aside and raised a concern with me that he had heard about me being worried or annoyed about being checked up on. This was very embarreassing for me and an apology lef my mouth immediately. He went on to explain in a calm manner that as my boss and given his overall resposibility for the work that these visits were monitering ones keeping himself up to date, learning about any potential problems and to offer advice and assistance where appropriate or needed.
LESSON LEARNED: This was a valuable lesson in learning to keep ones negative or speculative thought to oneself when with other employees. More importanly it gave me insight into the role and resonsibility of a supervising manager and the absolute importance of a trust relationship that was required between supervisor and employee.A lesson was also learned in regard to the very calm professional way this was brought up with me by Mr Forsythe and the teaching manner he used to explain his and my role.
After completing the concrete work, the structureís wingwalls were backfilled using clay material, compacted with a crawler tractor and hand tamping machine powered units . Field stone riprap was then placed n the slopes using dump truck and dragline. During this work the Author was standing, watching inspecting this operation when for reasons unknown he turned his back to a truck backing up with a load of rock. Suddenly he truck box struck me on the shoulder pushing me to the side. There were no back-up beepers in those days.
LESSON LEARNED: The occurrence described above could have done the Author in should hehave been standing more in front of the trucks wheels and been knocked down.Add this lesson to the awareness learned during highway heavy equipment work in 2nd and 3rd year summer workí In this case no one except the Author knew this ever happenned, and over the next four years on heavy onstruction the Author made sure such a thing never happenned again!.
The contract for the Damís costruction was with----- for $94,000. Ivan Green the Superintendent was wel experienced and cooperative. His son worked as a labouurer for a while as did sevetrAl Indian men from the Ebb and Flow Reserve near the town of St Rose du Lac. One rainy Saturday with work stopped , his son and several of the Indian workers went to St Rose du Lac to spend some time in the Beer Parlour
One of the unique things about constructionis you often meet different and odd people. ONE OF THESE WAS Bob RTerin the farmer living next to our construction site. He was a grizzled old guy about maybe 65 who liked to tell stories. He often weould bring up stuff about the strange relationship he had with his wife ,wherein he had negotiated a deal that he woyuld provide her with room and board in exchange for which she had to cook and sleep with him so many times a week. This was his favorite story and he liked to repeat it to us and the contr actors men. Strange but true!
The project was completed by August 20th and the Author returned to the Winnipeg office. Over the next few months the Author spent his time assebling documentation, photographs,drawing and records and in writing an As Constructed Report . This report basically described the contractors efforts, problems encountered and how they were overcome by the contractor and our onsite team, final costs,quantities and test results, all for provision to the Manitoba Government who would assume on-going operational responsibility for the dam
MOSSY RIVER AS COSRTUCTED REPORT JANUARY 1965
My experience during this two month period was critical to my finding a niche and my decision to continue in this career direction. The key elements were the opportunity to manage construction and people, in the building of a Work and to see it develop piece by piece. It started a love for concrete which the Author would become quite expert at, a love of heavy construction equipment, and of managemnent of people in terms of staff and the planning organizing and problem solving necessary for and associated with the work.
MOSSY RIVER DAM AND CONTROL STRUCTURE-COMPLETED AUGUST 1964
WATER IS COTROLLED BY REMOVABLE TIMBER STOP LOGS. WATER FOR DOWNSTREAM USE FLOWS THROUGH A CENTRAL OPENING WITH FISH LADDER
BOYNE RIVER PROJECT-SMAL DAMS CARMEN-NORQUAY REACH
After returning to the office and undertaken intermittently when doing the Mossy River As Constructed Report, the Author was assigned to do a preliminary study and design of small structures in the Boyne River immediately west of the Town of Carmen. Cattle farming and some irrigation farming in this area was solely dependent on the Boyne River, ground water being of por quality., The Synopsis contained in theEngineering Report completed by the Author appears below and summarizes the nature of the proposed Works and study.
The engineering work on this project involved a full hydrology study and analysis of the Bovne River drainage basin and preparation of frequency curves ,calculation of reservoir capacities and design and costing of the three structures involved. This work allowed me to take full advanta ge of the hydrology expertise learned in last winters Masters course . The structures themselves were very similar to the one just constructed at Mossy River and with full knowledge of that structures parameters and the real time availability of quantities and costs from that contract experience, the Author was able to build effectively upon his Winkler project experience to complete this Study.
LESSON LEARNED: Competing this study with minimum supervision was gratifying acknowledgement of the progress that can be made in less than three years ,combining experience from the Winkler project, my initiative on the Masters Hydrology course and the decision to seek construction experience on Mossy River.
BOYNE RIVER PROJECT ENGINEERING REPORT--FEBRUARY 1965
PILOT MOUND DAM
In spite of success on the Boyne River Project in the Spring of 1965, the Author was looking forward to getting back in the field. A conract had just been awarded to Swanson Construction for a Dam near Pilot Mound for $118,000 and George Forsythe had advised the Author that he would be the Resident Engineer on the job. With last years departure of Bil McQuay and the departure six months before that of Mike Hermansen to Monntreal Engineering in Alberta, another staff engineer with construction experience ,the Author was now the most senior construction engineer in the office. This would play to my advant age in a major way over the next several years in terms of advancing my career.
The Author had just returned from a well earned trip overseas with friend Bryan Purdy. After spending a day in New York City we flew Iberia airlines to Madrid, then Barcelona and the Balearic Islands, back to Valencia, followed by a rental car trip along the Costa del Sol to Malaga and Grenada, a day in Gibralter, an overnight to Tangiers to visit the Cas-bah, to Seville and finally Lisbon, Portugal and home again.
BRYAN PURDY AND THE AUTHOR DISEMBARK IBERIA AIRLINES FLIGHT FROM NEW YORK
While in Madrid we contacted Professor Kuiper who had been our 4th year Water Resources professor and who the A uthor had taken my Hydrology course from lsast year.He was in Madrid on a project assignment with his wfe and family with the Spanis h GOVERNMENT. We visited for awile at his home and he recommended an authentic Flamenco Club. We took the subway there and it proved to e outstanding!
Meanwhile back at the office after returning perhaps a month was spent reviewing the plans and specifications of the Pilot Mound Dam. The Author then relocated so to speak as regards his work location during the first week in May when Swanson set up on site and began work. Assisting me was Technical Officer/Survey Head John Bodner and John Dyke a second year engineering student who would act as rodman, chainman and my Soils man. We would stay at the Pilot Mound Hotel where we each had a room with a private sink. The common bathroom and shower were down the h all. Meals were taken in the hotelís restaurant.
The Project involved construction of a small Dam about 500 feet long and 30 feet high on Pilot Creek a small tributary of the Pembina River. The site was located two miles west of the Town of Pilot Mound and was primarily for the supply of agricultural water, but also for municipal purpose s when needed. The Dam included a Drop Inlet Structure overflow conduit and Spillway as well as a gated pipe for riparian releases. The Contract included an extension to a 10 foot diameter culvert taking the creeks water under an adjacent road and a 60 foot timber Bridge over another road affected by raised water in the reservoir Also involved was an emergency spillway on one bank of the valley should a very large historical flood occur.We also had to construct a dugout for one farmer, a small machinery access bridge for another and re-locate a power line, all matters relating to land purchase.
The Author was very much looking forward to this job, it providing an opportunity to oversee a project and contract from the beginning, having also the chance to review the plans and specifications in detail ahead of time to assess possible problem areas.This project had a wide variety of work and would be an excellent adjunct to the experience at Mossy River
Starting in May the Author would leave his basement apartment at 6.am each Monday morning with the Government car and head for the Salisbury House in the lower floor of the CN station on South Main for a breakfast of sausages and eggs. A move had been made in November from friends in Palmer House to room with friend Bryan Purdy from my University curling days . My fiend Gary Smith was getting married in July with me as best man, so it was a good time to relocate to Lynnwood Drive with Bryan, having recently run into him
.After breakfast the Author headed over to Windsor Park to pick up John B odner and then around to the southeast to pick up the other John, Dyck, whose father would bring him to the Highway 2 and 3 junction. Then down highway y 3 to Car men, further through Winkler and Morden, trough the ski resort town La Riviere in the Pembina River Valley, usually arriving a t Pilot Mound in about 2 hours at 10.00 a.m. The contractor worked Saturdays so we usually stayed for the morning ,leaving for Winnipeg right after lunch. There was no overtime in those days, you worked what the job required.This routine was continued from early May when site work began until early October when the job was completed . A very busy summer, essentially gone in a flash, no socializing, golfing, girls or booze, but it was an outstanding career learning and construction work experience , in capitalizing on a unique opportunity presented.
At the site work started with excavation for the Drop inlet structure and pipe stilling basis. A pad of compacted clay base was required on the foundation material and the contractor struggled with this as a result of wet weather and or drying out from exposure to sun. The contractors superintendent was named Bill and he proved to be competent, knowledgeable and cooperative throughout the project
Concrete aggregate was trucked in from Winnipeg and mix design adjusted as work proceeded. Initial results of air entrainment tests were low requiring changes in the sand quantity . The mix designs were prepared by the Soil M echanics office in Sakatoon, and their assistance was provided through four site visits during the course of the overall work. Training was provided to our summer student and we carried on from there with testing monitoring and cylinders which were sent to Saskatoon for testing.
Once the structure had obtained a certain height the dams cut-off was excavated by dragline. Here certain soft or organic pockets were encountered due to an old creek bed traversing the location. These had to be recognized and cleaned out to foundation shale.The main dam consisted of two zone, the central impervious one consisting of compacted clay from an adjacent borrow pit. All material was excavated and hauled with a single TS14 motorized scraper.
The borrow pit consisted of clay material with some silt. It was found to have too high a moisture content and required tilling and drying at times before being hauled to site. Procter tests were run on site and in Saskatoon to determine optimum moisture/compaction performance and volumeter tests were taken throughout the work. An additional problem was encountered getting maximum compaction from the sheeps -foot packers and an additional packer was added with a larger footprint to optimize results
One disappointing event that summer occurred during George Forsytheís visit to the site in July when he advised me that he was leaving for a PFRA promotion in Regina as Regional Engineer for Saskatchewan. Despite a bit of a rocky start with George we had developed a good relationship and the Author would have to start over in that regard with a new boss coming in from Alberta, Bill
The final aspect of the work involved construction of the timber pile bridge. Here the creosote piles could not be driven by the contractors pile driving hammer, likely as a result of the dense shale. A drill was brought in to predrill these to a significant depth after which the piles were driven to refusal.
At one point we were in the process of driving a pile when the drop hammer let go before it had been lifted all the way up by the dragline. A workman holding the Leads in place somehow got his head too close to the open side of the Leads and the hammer weighing a few tons hit him a glancing blow on the way down. He was thrown to the ground by the force of the blow and for a moments we feared for the worse. He was fortunate to have been wearing a hardhat and it was only a glancing blow and after some minutes of recovery he proved to be ok.
The project proofed to be an excellent forum for experience and learning, adding to my concrete knowledge and having the opportunity to supervise and manage the soil mechanics aspect of the work and to add metal pipe, piling and bridge building. After returning to the office the As Constructed Report below was completed March 1966. But prior to that there was more work yet to do in the Fall of 1965!
LESSON LEARNED: The lesson here, more to be realized later was the decision to give up ones private live so to speak for 5 or 6 months in advancement of ones career and the judgement of whether that was worth it.
STEPHENFIELD DAM SPILLWAY REPAIRS
Immediately after completing work at Pilot Mound ,my boss, now Assistant Regional Engineer Bill Hall asked me to undertake a repair job at the Stephenfield Dam which had been damaged by spring runoff that same year in 1965.The Dam had been built in 1963 by PFRA
STEPHENFIELD DAM AND TIMBER CHUTE SPILLWAT-IN POST 2000 PHOTOGRAPH
The main damage was erosion and undercutting of the material below the spillway. This spillway was somewhat unusual because it involved a concrete weir and a timber chute spillway supported by driven timber piles. Water had leaked through the timber deck at its upper area due to inadequate timber surface and installation errors in the fastening nails/lag bolts. This leaking water had eroded deep gullies between the piles below.
GULLY BETWEEN PILES FILLED WITH GRAVEL
The Author visited the site with Bill Hall and directed to repair the deck as recommended in a report prepared by our design office in Regina and to fill the eroded gullies with gravel. . No specific instructions were given on how to get the gravel into the gullies, about 200 feet long and 4 to 5 feet deep between piles as can be seen in one of the photographs. The implication was though that the gravel would have to be carried up from the end somehow ,below the structure
The Author was given a handy-man carpenter Bill Machuga to help. He did odd jobs around the office and Region. Several days were taken examining and thinking about how to do the gravel work, and driving around the areas to Roseisle and Notre Dam de Lourdes, looking for men and equipment. A Purchase Order book was used for hiring/contracting.
The Author by now had had 2 years of PFRA construction experience plus three summers at Highways and as a result had a very good knowledge of what could be accomplished by men and/or equipment. It became very clear that it would literally take dozens of men a very long time to wheelbarrow gravel from the spillway outlet channel never mind getting the gravel anywhere near the downstream end of the spillway chute without road access. Also there was very little if any labour available in this area and only limited equipment. It was late fall October and winter was coming.
ROAD BUILT DOWN UPSTREAM SLOPE TO MOVE TRACTOR OVER WEIR TO DUMP GRAVEL IN GULLY
After careful study a scheme was devised whereby a road would be built by dumping gravel along the upstream bank of the abutment of one side of the concrete weir. A rubber tired tractor would then descend this road and go over the weir and onto the timber deck. Gravel would be pushed and carried down the bank by a crawler tractor and also pushed over the weir wingwall to provide material for the gullies as shown on the accompanying photo.. The tractor would then carry gravel and dump it through holes in the deck made by removing selected plywood deck sheets.
Removing the deck sheets involved cutting tongue and groove joints joining plywood sheets. When these were later replaced special blocks were placed underneath at these joints and mastic asphalt coated to ensure a watertight seal when cured. The Author bounced these ideas off of Bill Muchuga and got thoughts from him but otherwise made the decision to go ahead on his own without consulting any superiors. The pictures above and below show the methodology. The overall work took about 3 weeks and as the picture at the beginning shows the structure continued to function well for many decades. On a social note Bill, who was a very nice man, invited the Author for supper in November, perhaps to meet his two twenty something daughters , but no sparks flew that evening.
LESSON LEARNED:l The lesson here was when faced wih a difficult problem, to not be afraid to innovate based on common sense and practicability and to mitigate any negative risks.
LESSON LEARNED: There is a lesson first learned here and used throughout my career that Tgoes.." It is easier to seek forgiveness then to ask permission" In the face of practical common sense there was no way to fill these gullies than from above. To seek agreement from above would have meant consultation with the REGINA design office and who knows what kind of bureaucratic process and delay almost certainly to next Spring when another flood was coming. It is interesting that the Author never received either criticism or praise for this initiative taking.
BILL MACHUGA SHOWING METHOD OF DECK SHEET REINSTALLATIONóREPAIR REPORT-JAN, 1966
Back in the office in November, much of that winter was taken up with the As Constructed reports on the Pilot Mound Dam and the Stephenfield Spillway Repairs However after a busy summer my room-mate Bryan Purdy and myself took a 3 week vacation in midwinter to Jamaica. We rented a villa apartment just outside Montego Bay at Coral Gardens, along with a car, learning to drive on the left in this former British colony. We shopped at the local outdoor market and did our own cooking. The Villa had a small pool but most afternoons wre spent at Doctors Cave Beach.
AUTHOR, CORAL GARDEN VILLAS,REENTAL CAR DOCTORS CAVE BEACH
Day trips were made to Negril which was nothing but glorious white sand in those days. Also to Ochios Rios and the Dunn River Falls, featured in the James Bond movie Dr No. Also a train ride and tour of the famous Rum factory, Bryan was not much of a water person so the Author signed up alone for Scuba lessons at one of the Resort hotels and after a 2-3 hour lesson in the pool in the morning we went out in a boat for a 1 hour dive offshore staying within the 1 atmosphere-30 foot depth limit. To conclude the trip we drove to Kingston, entering the city through a road with tar paper shacks on both sides, a memorable but disheartening experience, and became informed about the extreme poverty in this country. We spent a couple of days in Kingston, staying at a hotel where the yard gates were locked at night. We met two American girls there who joined us at a local nightclub, they being fearful of venturing out on their own.
After finishing the construction reports the Author started working on his next posting as Resident Engineer at the Shellmouth Dam on the just awarded contract for the 15 foot diameter Boston Horseshoe Conduit. A month was passed doing rebar takeoff/checkoff sheets for the conduit which would involve over 50 concrete pours and several thousand yards of concrete. In mid-April the Author moved to the site where excavation for the conduit was already underway.
The Author spent most of the subsequent three years on the Shellmouth Project except for short periods in the winter months when work was shut down due to cold and snow. My time at Shellmouth will be covered in a separate chapter.
This project study was undertaken in late December 1966 and through the early part of 1967 after returning to the office about mid December after winter concrete work on the Shellmouth Dam Conduit was completed.This study was a joint cooperative effort with a new office engineer Alex Kulak who had been hired from Manitoba Water Resources
The project was of special interest to the Author because it involved a dam on the Birdtail River just north of Birtle where he had worked for two summers with Manitoba Highways, but also the reservoir reach flowed back past Rossburn where the Author grew up. The Birdtail River flowed southerly near Rossburn, about a mile and half just west of town, and in a very deep, forested valley in that location, with many hills, gullyís and creeks, and where many enjoyable Saturdays had been spent hiking and hunting in these environs as a boy. A synopsis of the project copied from the preliminary engineering report appears below
From an engineering perspective this was the first full blown large dam project for the Author involving a full hydrology study, reservoir analysis, design of a concrete chute spillway and reinforced concrete gated conduit. Very similar in fact to the Shellmouth Dam where the past summer, fall and early winter had been spent on construction.. Alex Kulak must have done some work before the Author got back to the office from Shellmouth as we completed the report by January 1967, albeit the Author by now had significant design and construction experience to contribute. This PFRA Report like all others, contained an inside cover page showing at the bottom Prepared By: A G Kulak, D J Murphy PFRA Engineers
PRELIMINARY ENGINEERING REPORT-TITTERTON DAM-JANUARY, 1967
JOUBERT CREEK PROJECT- GRUNTHAL DAM
The village of Grunthal is located 20 miles straight east of the Town of Morris on Highway 75 south of Winnipeg. The proposed dam is nearby on Joubert Creek, a tributary of the Rat River, itself a tributary of the Red River. My Report deals with a rework and costing of the original study after a soils investigation by our Saskatoon Soils Office found important foundation concerns. A Synopsis follows
The Report was completed by the end of March 1967 ,just prior to returning for a second year to Shellmouth at the end of April. Between the Titterton and Grunthal Dam project work the Author escaped to Jamaica for a second time for a well earned holiday, this time solo, but to familiar surroundings at Montego Bay and Coral Garden Villaís
JOUBERT CREEK PROJECT-GRUNTHAL DAM MARCH, 1967
CHAPTER IV SHELLMOUTH DAM
BOSTON HORSESHOE CONDUIT-1966
The Shellmouth Dam opportunity was like hitting the mother lode of hea vy construction for the Author, a once in a lifetime chance to be involved in the largest non hydro dam ever built in Manitoba and the second largest earth dam behind the Gardiner in Saskatchewan on the Canadian prairies. As a result of fortuitous circumstances, some of my own making, some accidents of timing, the Author was about to take charge of the construction of the key components of the Shellmouth Dam.
The Shellmouth Dam was one of three elements of the Manitoba and Federal Governments strategy for Flood Control of the City of Winnipeg, Brandon and Portage la Prarie. The first and major initiative was the construction of the Winnipeg Floodway to divert the Red River around Winnipeg. The second leg was the Portage Diversion to divert a major portion of the flow of the Assiniboine River to Lake Manitoba via an in-river gate structure and excavated channel to the Lake. These two structures would be constructed by the Manitoba Government. `
The third leg would involve the construction of a large dam on the Assiniboine River in western Manitoba to hold back spring flood waters in its reservoir. This dam was to be paid for and constructed by the Federal Government through its P F R A organization, part of the Dept. of Agriculture. P F R A had the credentials to undertake this project by virtue of several large dams constructed in Manitoba and Alberta and the huge project it currently had under construction on the South Saskatchewan River, south of Saskatoon.
The Shellmouth Dam was located some 20 kilometres north of the Town of Russell, Manitoba where the Author had spent four years of his life. Highway 83 ran straight north from Russell and beyond to Roblin and Swan River.The Assiniboine River ran in a north south direction more or less parallel to the Highway, but a few miles west of it, just inside the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border. Its valley was several hundred feet deep and probably a mile across from valley hilltop to hilltop. The Dam itself was located just downstream from the junction of one of its tributaries the Shell River which came in from the east.
The Author arrived at the site about mid April 1966, with my 1961 Pontiac full of my key earthly possessions as this would be home for the forseable future .Construction on the main embankment had been started the previous summer and upon arrival that contractor was beginning his second years work by excavating the trench at the valley floor of the east abutment where the 15 foot diameter Boston Horseshoe conduit would be constructed. This contact won by BACM or British American Construction and Materials would be under my supervision as Resident Engineer in charge of the site, at least for the time being.My key living in camp needs were my Nordmende radio for listening to Blue Bomber games and my Winnipeg Free Press which was ordered to received daily bvy mail ,but one day late, a service that had been offered to rural residents for decades.
PFRA had constructed a good sized camp for its employees and families who wanted to locate there. The projects construction would take about 5 years so staff could locate there in their private trailers or if they preferred buy or rent a house in Russell or Roblin to the north. A third alternative was Inglis a small town of two or three hundred just east of the Highway and was the Post Office and supplies center that we would use for the Camp. The Camp and Office was located on top of the valley immediately above the dam on its east side and on the point of land abutting the Assiniboine on the west and the Shell River on the north.
PFRA OFFICE AND CAMP SETUP. AUTHORS TRAILER NEXT TO PERSON IN RED JACKET
The camp was located in a pretty spot as shown above and was serviced with water supply from a deep well in a pumphouse shown in front of the large house trailer to the far right. A sewer system throughout the camp was pumped to a large disposal field behind. Our main office buildings were at the back of the parking lot, and the large building on the left was our soils and concrete laboratory. A row of single mens trailers and bunkhouses ran next to the parking lot and parallel to that row closer to the hill and bush behind was a line of house trailers for families. A large wash house and cook and eat house for single men and visitors was located in the back right side of the picture. Everything was fully winterized for year round use.
About a thousand feet backup the road seen in the foreground was a turnoff to an overlook viewpoint where visitors could park and watch the work taking place below. A large sign advertising the project was erected at this location. The road beside our camp and office was the main road to the dam and just past the camp one turned left and entered a winding road to the valley floor. All men and materials to the site descended by this means. Our PFRA engineering and technical team went as high as 15 people at peak periods and our trucks cars and 4 wheel drive vehicles were parked behind our office/lab.
NOTICE SIGN AT TURNOUT VIEWPOINT JUST BEFORE PFRA OFFICE AND CAMP
MAIN ACCESS ROAD DOWN TO DAMSITE SHOWING SPECTACULAR VIEW OF VALEY AS ONE DESCENDS
Arriving at the camp-office was a positive experience and the first item of business was to renew acquaintances with Wes Powell who had been here the last year as Head Technician and camp manager. Wes of course had been part of our Mossy River team two years earlier and had now moved his family to Roblin from which he would commute daily and remain for the 5 year duration of construction. Also there was Walter Brodowski also at Mossy River, in charge of the Materials Lab and Bob Galitiuk, a more recent Engineering graduate with our Winnipeg office who had been at Shellmouth the previous year as Resident Engineer on the Stage 1 embankment contract.
Keith Smith was our Survey Party Chief, who would handle all our structure control surveys on the conduit contract , and had a crew of three, There were also several lab tech/soils/concrete inspectors who were from Saskatoon and were either with the lab or seconded to our Winnipeg office for inspection work on the embankment or concrete operation. The Camp was already in full operation with Mrs Galitiuk, an Aunt of Bobís as our full time cook and a fulltime handy man for camp maintenance chores and daily trips to Inglis or Russell for mail pickup, food purchase and laundry. Our cookhouse provided 3 meals a day Monday to Friday and breakfast and lunch on Saturdayís. The evening and Sundayís we were on our own, either go to Russell or for most do something else for the weekend. The contractors worked 6 days , so working till a least noon on Saturdays was standard. Our cook Mrs Galitiuk was outstanding, and her beef stew and gravy with carrots and dumplings was to die for!
My first trip down to the work area was an interesting one. The eastern bank of the valley abutment was the main borrow pit for the damís embankment, but was underlain by a porous sand layer at its lower level and immediately above the shale bedrock of the valley floor. Excavation at the base of the east abutment to prepare the trench for the Boston Horseshoe conduit was underway as part of the Stage 1 embankment contract. In order to control the water in the porous sand layer above the shale bedrock it was necessary to sink wellpoints about every 5 or 10 feet and to install a large header pipe and suction pumps to draw up the water and pump it downstream
JETTING IN WELLPONTS INTO PERVIOUS LAYER USING HYDRAULIC PRESSURE
As the excavation progressed lower a new row of wellpoints was required as suction would only lift water about 15 or 20 feet, based on the same simple hydraulic principle as with a handpump and one atmosphere raising a column of water a maximum of 30 feet at perfect vacuumThre were already 3 lines of wellpoints when the Author arrived and this was my first inspection stop that first morning.
There checking that the pump set up was working well was Ted Widdicombe. Hehad been the successful bidder last year on the Stage 1 Embankment contract and was now finishing off the excavation for the conduit before going forward with Stage 2 which was part of his contract. So this was a nice coincidence and opportunity to renew acquaintances with Ted who had been the grading contractor in 1960 on my summer job just east of Russell and again in 1961 on my McCauly to St Lazare job.. My impression was that Ted felt as good about this meeting and ensuing discussion as the Author, each knowing you would be working again with quality people you trusted and could work with.
In the days ahead the excavation reached the shale bedrock, carved into it for a few feet and then a compacted clay pad was placed to form an impervious base for the conduit. The conduit contract was won by BACM , A large Winnipeg based heavy construction contractor. Meeting were held with BACMíS site superintendents, Peter regarding their proposed concrete batch plant operation, forming methods, construction joint location preferences and sandblasting treatment, reinforcing steel drawings and placement, ,slab steel support, and methods of concrete batching and transport, concrete placement, vibration compaction and curing and finishes.
It was of critical importance that all of these methods, techniques and procedures be agreed to in advance as all pours would be large and take several hours from start to finish. It was equally important to both BACM and us as owners that the end product obtained in each single pour was as per specifications, while proceeding efficiently from the contractorís perspective with no surprises.
BACM CONCRETE BATCH PLANT SETUP JUST IN FRONT OF AND UPSTREAM OF CONDUIT
There was a concrete batch plant located in Russell which BACM either had an interest in or wanted to contract with. This meant that we would have to have personnel in Russell to monitor the batching and mixing which wasnít a problem., but the transport time and scheduling of deliveries were a major concern especially with the old trucks which this plant had. This discussion, evaluation and testing went on for a number of weeks and finally BACM was convinced for their own good and efficiency to set up a more modern plant on the valley floor and bring in new trucks. The Superintendent Peter was a well experienced man and could see that with our detailed concrete specifications and inspection force that this would be a much more controlled operation than he was perhaps used to. PFRA had a reputation on the Parries for tight specifications and inspection control.
Bill Hall, our boss from Winnipeg visited a couple of times to see how things were going and check on the contractor start up, and one day two technicians from PFRA in Saskatchewan dropped by for a tour. Oneís name was Hugh McNaughton. S sometime around mid-May Bill Hall advised that Regional office and Regina HQ had decided to bring in an engine r from the Regina Design office to be in charge for the summer. His name was Bert Lukey and he was taking his Masters and had been involved in Regina with the design of the conduit structure. This was a bit of a surprise but it didnít affect the Authors job as Resident on the conduit. It was thought that this was really something sprung from Regina by Chief Engineer Watson for a favourite up and comer,even though he had no construction experience. About this same time an Engineer from Saskatoon was sent to site to take charge from Walter . His name was Ted Jurgens and he bunked in with Bob G alitiuk. Bert was 2 or 3 years older than the Author, Ted a year younger. The three of us soon became good friends and several times on long weekends or other occasions would head to Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park. Bert was a good golfer, we were all single, hence would get a motel at Wasagaming, the Parks townsite, and take in the Saturday night dance. Sunday morning we would golf 18 holes at the Parks classy and well known golf course.
POURING CONCRETE ON CONDUIT FLOOR SLAB . JUMBO FORMS FOR HORSESHOE SECTION
Meanwhile back at the dam, by early June forming started on the first Horseshoe section which would be the upstream am inlet structure. Nick Verklan was the Head carpenter and Concrete foreman with a crew of several carpenters and additional labourers,. All rebar placement and tying was done by a contracted crew who were led by a very competent foeman who was a whiz at reading the rebar shop drawings that he worked from. As work progressed both the Author and my inspector would engage with him on friendly debates and discussions on the interpretation of some of the drawings. The foreman took great pride on his ability to read and interpret rebar drawings and he was good!
The finish on the floor slabs was critical in terms of design flow paramet4ers and required a steel trowel finish which took a little practice and a number of debates with Peter and Nick to get correct in terms of technique.The timing for completing the screed leveling and initial trowel finish and when to start and how long to take on the steel trowel was critical, These slabs were some 15 feet wide and 20 feet long so access to the surface had to be planned ahea d and managed carefully particularly on hot days. .Also causing some delays and controversy was the contractors ability to apply a" stone rubbed finish" to the interior of the horseshoe sections. This unusual finish had to be done by hand and involved smoothing the surface with a rubbing stone and filling and smoothing any pinholes with grout. All of this to guarantee flow design characteristic, and no pitting.
Within a month of staring BACM brought in a second carpenter crew.. This crew was all Portuguese but competent and the foreman knew enough English to eliminate problems although Nick was iin overall charge of this under Superintendent Peter
With increased manpower and startup issues finally resolved the pace of work increased. At the beginning of July the Saskatoon office sent an intermediate engineer Al Kohuska to be in charge of their lab. He had been heavily involved with the soil mechanics of the embankment design and th e test installations.
Also in early July the Author was involved in the marriage of his twin brother John, whose bride Velda Safronetz coincidently was from Roblin just to the north. Friday evening was the dress rehearsal at the Roblin Catholic church and Saturday the wedding and reception. As the Best Man the Author was paired with the Maid of Honour a nurse friend of Veldaís, they both graduating from S Boniface Hospital nursing school that spring. Everything went well and my wedding partner who was from nearby Langenburg got along so well that it led to a few dates in the weeks following.
FORMING AND POURING BOSTON HORSESHOE CONDUIT SECTIONS
Meanwhile back at the Dam Al Kohuska was proving to be more aggressive that his younger predecessor resulting in at least one major confrontation with the Author on his involvement in being consulted about certain quality control decision the Author was making. Al Kohuska was a knowledgeable engineer no question and we both had our say and the air was cleared. Our individual roles and responsibilities were clear and there were no territorial issues or claims , we were all on the same team with the same objective.
LESSON LEARNED: This was a good lesson and experience in understanding the need to consult other expertise or persons or stakeholders who felt they had some ownership, and a first experience in understanding the functional responsibility role versus line responsibility in large bureaucratic organizations, particularly governments. Consultation is very important in team work initiatives, but judgement is required to avoid conflict with the criticality of timing and the lesson earlier about permission vs forgiveness.
POURING CONCRETE FOR THE CENTRAL GATEWELL SECTION
The Labour Day long weekend brought a variety of personnel changes. Gone back to Saskatoon was Al Kohuska, replaced by a younger engineer Harvey Filson. Also gone to a Masters degree at Waterloo was my golfing companion Ted Jurgens. More importantly also gone back to his Masters course was Bert Lukey and now the Author was once again in charge of the project for the foreseeable future. The contractorís superintendent Peter returned to Winnipeg and Nick Verklan over for BACM.
LESSON LEARNED: My experience with Bert Lukey was edifying as he was a bit of a nitpicker and close supervisor which was not appreciated, given my previous four years under Jim Berry, George Forsythe and Bill Hall, all of whom gave me lots of room to manoeuvre. A good lesson in perfecting my own style which followed my earlier supervisors in terms of delegation and monitoring
Camp weekends fell into a routine with a drive to Russell for a steak sandwich supper at the Russell Hotel, followed by a visit to the laundry mat to was clothes and then take in the second show at 9 oíclock at the Russell theatre. Sundays involved another trip to Russell for Sunday mass and renewing friends with an old bachelor friend Frank Schentag from my fastball days Frank was a golfer and there was a course in Russell. After the snows came there simply wasnít much to do in Russell , but work at the dam was so far behind that forming and steel work often continued on Sunday, with the men in camp anyway so that was a diversion
But also as the project moved into September and the evenings cooled closer to freezing it became clear that we were not even going to come close to finishing before the snow began to fly. That meant winter concrete, both batching, transporting placing and curing, so discussion began with the contractor on how they intended to make these changes. The specifications were very clear on the requirement for winter concrete and as in the Spring we and the contractor had to agree on protocols and procedure s to avoid quality problems for us and delays for BACM
In order to produce winter concrete it would be necessary to heat both the mixing water and the sand prior to batching. Rather than try and winterize the plant at the site for say 2 months BACM choose to partner or contract with the Russell based Plant owner and arrange for the conversion of that Plant to winter concrete capability where permanent value would be obtained. It basically involved installation of a propane fired boiler with temperature controls as part of the batching operation and the construction of a heated enclosure around the sand pile and to ensure it was maintained at a reasonable temperature before being placed in the batching bin The other aggregates would also require protection but nor to the same degree.
As regards the pour locations, they had to be hoarded with lumber framing and heavy polyethylene as protection from snow and cold and then kept at a temperature inside of 10 degrees Celsius with large propane fired heaters of 200-250,000 btu per hour. These temperatures had to be maintained for a 10 day curing period with wet burlap kept on slabs.
HOARDING PROTECTION IN STILLING BASIN AREA AND PFROJECT STATUS IN LATE NOVEMBER 1966
Work progressed into October as the pressure mounted to finish by Christmas. Tensions rose also as productivity dropped with the cold, snow caused delays to clear and fix damage and daylight work hours dwindled . There were constant problem s with concrete mixes transported from the plant in Russell, low slump concrete was rejected and temperatures underneath the hoarding dropped at times and the curing slabs were not kept wet enough. Our inspection staff had a real challenge trying to get minimum performance while maintaining some kind of basic communication relationsi with the contractor s supervisors and foremen.
Then in mid-November came a big blow-up! The Author was in his office late one afternoon while another pour was taking place below. Out of the blue Harvey the engineer in charge of the lab comes through the door and says that while he was trying to do a slump test at the pour location he got in a confrontation with Nick Verklan and that Nick had kicked over his slump test. He was adamant that the Author had to kick Nick off the jobsite permanently... This was a very serious demand /request and is the type of thing that theoretically under the contract could be done, but to boot a contractors superintendent off a work site had all kinds of implications both legal and cost claim wise and would cause big time damage with contractor relations, already stretched, but would be fought tooth and nail by the contactor!. It would end up with the owners and my bossesí n Winnipeg and could escalate to lawyers and to our HQ in Regina.
What to do! Harvey was my employee and had to be supported against the contractor. But at the same time, and while the Author was only 26,yet with experience on 3 jobs with 3 different contractors in the Last 3 years and 3 undergraduate years on construction he instinctively knew that there was simply no way this demand could be enforced in terms of its gravity and its implications. The first thing to determine was the status of the pour. Whatever the result of the slump problem, the work was continuing so that was not an immediate issue. Harvey was then interviewed in detail to get a complete picture of what happened and why. This gave him some time to settle down and he was assured that the Author would go to see Nick right after supper and deal with it.
After supper a visit was made to the contractors camp about one half mile away to meet with Nick Verklan. Nick and the Author had met and talked and sometimes argued many dozens of time over the last 7 months. He was a knowledge, able man, a capable manager and organizer and there was never a serious problem between us to date. One of his favourite comments was" how come you guys are always right" in terms of arguments/discussions over the specs or corrective actions required. This is something the Author kept in mind since in terms of contractor dealings and has never forgotten.
Nick acknowledged the confrontation but denied knocking over the slump cone pile. However it occurred it was accidental. It was a case of conflicting stories with no witnesses so there was no way to substantiate what had happened, The Author asked Nick in the future to not confront my staff and if there was a future issue on site and the Author was not down, then to come up to see me or send someone to get me.
The next morning the A author filled in his boss Bill Hall in Winnipeg and dis cussed resolutions. Harvey by then had called his boss in Saskatoon Al Kohuska and Kohuska had talked to Bill in Winnipeg. Both Al Kohuska and Bill Hall agreed with the Author that we could not ask the contractor to remove his Superintendent. Bill was advised of the actions taken with Nick last night. Harvey was advised accordingly by both the Author and Al Kohuska by telephone from Saskatoon
LESSON LEARNED: This was a very valuable lesson in resolving conflict as well as problem solving. Remain calm, use your instincts based on your experience, listen to all sides carefully and consult all parties and supervisors where appropriate.
CONDUIT INLET TO GATE WELL BEING BACKFILLED STILLING BASIN COMPLETE WITH RIPRAP
Having seen the worst, and while contractor relations were strained, the winter concrete work continued without further incident or crisis and the work concluded about mid December and camps closed for the winter, although our office remained open with Wes and Keithís crew working out of Roblin. The Author returned to Winnipeg and other design work while bunking in with his parents who had now moved to an Apartment on Assiniboine Ave. and looking forward to another southern vacation
SPILLWAY CONTRACT- 1967
After another relaxing vacation in Montego Bay, Jamaica, this time solo, and completing design work on the proposed Titterton Dam project discussed earlier, the Author returned to Shellmouth in early May to assume responsibility as Resident Engineer on the Spillway contract recently won again by BACM. This was a good happenchance as we would not have to go through the whole education, feeling out process with a new contractor and BACMís key personnel and ours were now very familiar with each other, They already had a camp at the site, having to return anyway to concrete the inside collars of the conduit, and therefore it should be an easy and quick startup on the spillway y contract.
On the home front it was 1967 and Canadaís centennial year and Prime Minister Pearson had lit a new centennial flame on Parliament Hill that would signify our growth and prosperity. Greater still, a World Exposition known as Expo 67 would open in Mont real in late April and the airwaves were full of the Bobby Gimbey theme song "C A N A D A WE LOVE YOU" playing everywhere all day long. The countr y was giddy with excitement!.
So was the Author as he looked forward to another season at Shellmouh on the large concrete spillway structure. He also had serious thoughts about making a trip down to Montreal at some point this yea r to get a first hand look at Buckminstir Fullerís Geodesic Dome and he more than 70 other pavilions from around the world. It was a unique year in Canadaís history ,not to be ignored!
Meanwhile over the past year the Author had fell even more in love so to speak with concrete and all aspects relating to it, aspiring to become as much as an expert in it as possible. In the past year he had joined the American Concrete Institute (ACI) receiving a regular research and Development journal, access to conferences and seminars and in fact in the Spring of that year had attended at PFRA expense a two day concrete seminar in Saskatoon.
This year there w ould be more staff changes with our personnel at Shellmouth. With work starting to wind down a little at PFRAís major project on the South Saskatchewan River, the organization decided to move several employees to our Winnipeg office and our Shellm outh project. The key one was Bob Thomlinson, who would assume responsibility as our head Engineer at the site and my new boss. Bob was a well experienced construction engineer, about five years my senior and would move to Russell with his family for the final 3 years of our project. Two other employees from the SSRP would join us, Dwayne Sutton and Robert Harris.Both were concrete/soils technicians, so now we had our own inspection staff and did not have to depend on secondments from the Saskatoon office. Both men moved their trailers and families to the family row in our camp.
Both of these men ended up reporting directly to me as Resident on the Spillway contract. As it turned out Dwayne loaded his own shotgun shells and was an avid skeet shooter. The Author had his Remington Wingmaster pump shotgun with him at the site and over the summer we did some skeet shooting from time to time and became good friends in the process.
Saskatoon Engineer Filson returned along with as new Lab supervisor Jim Carter.
Late last fall the Author had also decided to get rid of his second hand 1961 brown Pontiac and step up to something a little more spiffy, now that my career was getting established, the chattel mortgage ha d been paid off. A decision was made to custom order a new Buick and by Spring just in time to move back to Shellmouth my new vehicle ,a 2-door teal coloured Lesabre model with a black hardtop roof had arrived.
At the Dam the contractors first order of business was to get started on the pressure relief wells at the upstream end of the spillway structure. There were 4 wells drilled to bedrock shale, deigned to allow a means of pressure release from the weight pressure of the reservoir water, so this pressure would not create uplift, negatively affecting the structure. This work was sub-contracted to a thought to be expert driller from Alberta, who was required to use the reverse circulation method to drill and complete pipe placement in these wells.
As things turned out this driller was not familiar with this method which used a 3 foot drill bit and drilling mud circulation to keep the hole open to completion. It took him 3 weeks to figure it out with a lot of help from our Saskatoon staff, but he eventually succeeded. Once drilled, an 8 inch slotted wooden pipe was placed in the center and the sides filled all around with so called pea rock gravel to provide a filter size protection layer all around that would not enter the pipe slots.. These wells were then connected and capped as per the picture below and buried.
PIPE AND COLLECTION APPARATUS AND ACCESS WELL-SPILLWAY PRESSURE RELIEF WELLS
Meanwhile work was begun on filling the inner collars of the conduit section joints using a concrete pump set up at the conduits entrance. Again some problem were encountered getting started as the pipe had to be properly wetted and the concrete just the right slump or the friction of the concrete would stall the hydraulic pump and the pipes would have to be disconnected, cleaned out and pumping started again. When starting a worker would walk along the pipe banging it to check and see if the concrete was moving properly. Concrete pumps have improved many times over, today.
Work also started again on the main embankment, Ted Widdecombeís outfit being back for the third year. Placing and compaction of fill around the conduit was also commenced. The concrete work noted above and the embankment and backfill work was overseen by Engineer Bob Galitiuk and his inspectors while the Author managed the spillway contract. Also new to the soils lab this year was a bachelor, Tom Lamb from the Saskatoon office. Tom was an interesting character, often travelling to exotic places in the winter. He soon became good friends with Bob and as time passed with the Author as well.
Once the pressure relief wells were completed, BACM moved quickly into forming and concrete work, starting on the upstream end with the weir section, wingwalls and bridge which would be part of new crossing of the valley. The concrete plant was moved from the west side to just beside the west walls of the spillway chute and its capacity upgraded to meet the demands to come.
WEIR, WINGWALLS, AND BRIDGE PIERS IN PROGRESS
Around the end of July BACM brought in a giant truss like concrete paving machine from California that was used to place concrete on the water supply and irrigation canals in that State. It was owned and opera ted by a specialty contractor from California and contracted to use on the spillway chute floor and well as placement of the mass concrete section in the S tilling Basin. These operations were the construction highlight of the summer in terms of the use of unique quipment and techniques were concerned
THE AUTHOR, WES POWELL KEITH SMITH -CALIFORNIA CONCRETE PLACING MACHINE
The work of the concrete placing machine was done primarily in August and was substantially complete by early September.. The pictures following show more of the work.
Around the same time the possibility of getting down to Expo 67 was dimming ,with so much interesting and challenging work not to be missed.
CALIFORNIA CONCRETE PLACING MACHINE DOING WEST SITE SPILLWAY CHUTE FLOOR
OPERATOR PLACING/SCREEDING CHUTE FLOOR CONCRETE. PLACE MASS CONCRETE-STILLING BASIN
Getting back to the idea of going down to Expo, by coincidence or whatever happenchance the Author returned to his office from the worksite below one afternoon in late August to find a letter with an Ottawa return address. Surprisingly it was from my Langenburg nurse friend from my brother Johnís wedding last year. She had gone to Europe shortly after missing our Labou r Day Winnipeg rendez-vous. and when returning to Canada had taken a nursing job in Ottawa.
So here was a catalyst opportunity to go east to Expo and visit her in Ottawa . My mother had an Uncle Bob Herriot living in Montreal and The Author had previously discussed the possibility of staying a couple of days with his son Jim and his wife, who were really not known to me. My mother made the contact and they were happy to let me sleep at their place for 2 or 3 nights given the uniqueness of E xpo and the pressure on hotel accommodations
My trip was made in mid-September by air to Montreal . Each morning a bus was taken from Jimís place downtown to the Queen Elizabeth Hotel where you caught the special elevate train to Iíle Notre Dame, an island in the St Lawrence River where the Expo was held. Over the next three days m any of the ninety pavilions were visited including the Geodesic Dome The site was quit e large and it took a lot of walking. It seemed that each location featured unique video or film projection this being long before the invention of computers and digital media. Lunch and supper were eaten at Expo minimizing any disruption to Jim and his family.
On Saturday a car was rented at the Dorval airport for the two hour drive to Ottawa where the Author checked into a small hotel near the outskirts. My friend was living across the River in Hull and after picking her up we spent an enjoyable evening at a good restaurant and night club. The next day we spent a couple of hours walking around the Parliament Buildings and viewing the Centennial flame. Then it was time to drive back to Montreal and catch my evening flight to Winnipeg. We exchanged a few letters after that and she returned to live and work in Winnipeg at Christmas.
Back at the Dam, work was progressing rapidly and we would not be seriously concerned with winter concrete this year, although precautions were ta ken the last few weeks. By Remembrance Day the spillway structure was complete and it was back to the Winnipeg office and again bunking in with my parents for the winter months. During the Fall Frank Schentag continued to be a good golfing buddy on Sundays and we made a visit also to Regina to take in a Saskatchewan RoughRider football game. It was about an hour shorter to cut across to Melville to get to Regina than to go to Winnipeg.
NEARLY COMPLETED SPILLWAY LATE FALL 1967 COMPLETED SPILLWAY STRUCTURE SPRING 1968
Things were slow in the office this time compared with pr evious years and one could see the future a bit, as the PFR A mandate for water conservation projects was slowing in terms of new project initiatives.
By this time it was late January and time for my holidays. Before leaving the site Bob Galitiuik, Tom Lamb and the Author had decided to take a winter trip to Florida and Venezuela. We bought a 2 week excursion to Miami, then another 2 week excursion from Miami to Caracas. We rented a car in Miami, staying in the Surfs ide area of Miami Beach. From there we had access to the beaches ,nightclubs and sports venue s like the dog races and Jai-Alai, the latter being big in Florida at the time.
Then it was off via Pan-A m airliner to Caracas where we spent 3 days exploring the city with another rented car. Even in those days Caracas was a city of high-rise offices, apartment buildings and freeway interchanges. We then set out to explore some of the country. We drove to Merida a small University city in the Andes mountains where interestingly Professor Ed Kuiper was working on another project. We did not attempt to contact him this time, but took the opportunity to ride up the highest and longest gondolaís in the world, the Teleferico de Merida. It was a 4 stage ride to the top of Pico Espejo at 16,000 thousand foot elevation. We had to climb a couple of hundred feet up at the top, and the lack of oxygen at that height and the burning sun without much air to filter through, made you feel like you were carrying a hundred pounds in terms of how heavy your legs felt.
After leaving Merida we continued on towards Maracaibo, the gulf city on the Caribbean where the oil fields were. In a never to be forgotten sight, nearing Maracaibo we rose over a hill and in the horizon was the Lake Maracaibo, and as far as the eye could see it was covered ,literally dotted with hundreds if not thousands of drill derricks. It apparently was the practice to just leave these in place even after the well was completed. We then continued on to Maracaibo itself and stayed at one of the main downtown hotels. This place had all the airs or feeling of a British place with the way people were dressed in the hotel and its tea room et c. WE assumed that this was due to the major presence of British Royal Dutch Shell which had major operations in Venezuela at the time.
TELEFERICO de MERIDA GONDOLA UP PICO ESPEJO STATUE OF VIRGIN MARY TOP OF PICO ESPEJO
OIL DRILLING DERRICKS IN LAKE MARACAIBO TRAVEL COMPANIONS BOB GALITIUK AND TOM LAMB
We returned along the coast to Caracas and had a few days t spare on our 14 day excursion ticket. In discussions with Pan Am we discovered that their return flight to Miami stopped in Montego Bay, Jamaica, so we left Venezuela after about 10 days and stopped in Montego B ay. From the airport there, the Author contacted Henry Chin who was my Coral Gardens contact from 1966 and 67. We were able to rent one of his villa apartments for a few days and rented a car and was a able to show Bob and Tom a bit of Mo Bay, especially Doctors Cave B each. We then went on to Miami Beach again before returning to Winnipeg.
FINAL EMBA NKMENT, RIVER CLOS URE AND RIPRAP CONTRACT-1968
After returning to the Winnipeg office after the trip to Venezuela , things were very quiet there in term s of work. There were no new planning or design projects to undertake or help out on a s in e earlier years. This yea assignment would be back to Shellmouth a s resident on the final contract referenced above. This would be my final year there and what the future held beyond that was unknown. There simply were no new projects coming forward from the Province and for that matter it was similar circumstances in Saskatchewan an Albert a as the post war/depression period of water conservation and development on the Prairies wound down.
There was no fear of losing ones job, just of not having anything interesting and challenging to do .An era was in affect ending and it had the same personal impact on me as in 1964 when a decision was made to go out on construction. It had worked out magnificently in terms of tiiming and construction jobs. . The Author loved construction and management and wanted to continue a career in these areas.
And so it was that initiatives were started to find a new Employer, hopefully by next winter when the final Shellmouth contract would be complete. This period was a foreboding one, not a crisis or filled with urgency., but you could see the change starting across the organization as Stuart one of Keithís key survey staff at Shellmout h accepted a job at Gillam wih Manitoba Hydro who were just starting up the massive Kettle Rapids Dam. Our assistant concrete engineer Carl from Saskatoon also went there, and not known then, but by mid-summer ,my colleague from Mossy River and Shellmouth would also be on his way there. These were good moves for men with a wife and family.
My first opportunity for change came in March when an ad in the Free Press for a construction engineer for a local small contractor was answered..Thjeir name was McKaw- MacDonald, who built mostly small bridges and other structures including PFRA dams.. Ken McKaw was an Engineer and his assistant was Dave Ennis who graduated one year ahead of me. We had two lunch based meeting and interviews and while it was a good opportunity to go to work directly for a contractor, a lot of time would be spent estimating and doing quantity calculations in the office. .good thing was that the job was in Winnipeg and would give me a chance to get more direct experience in actual construction contracting.
Things went well with Dave and the job appeared to be mine if I wanted it, but was subject to a final meeting interview with the owner and boss Ken McKaw. Again another lunc meeting at a local Club with Dave and Ken McKaw. This session was a major change from the previous two as Ken McKaws whole approach was to try and intimidate me in terms of the difficulty of this job and the long hours etc,etc, etc . Up until that point the Author was very close to making a decision to accept the job, but after this strange occurrence a major problem arose in my mind ie. what it would be like to work for what appeared to be an ogre of a taskmaster and boss! The Author was no stranger to long hours given his 6 day a week and late nights over the past 3 years at Pilot Mound and Shellmouth, but there were no ogre bosses. In the end after careful thought the Author turned this job down, and have always admitted to myself that McKawís intimidation was this a part of it. This man was a real ogre..
In hindsight this gut reaction type decision proved to be a very good one. To wit,his assistant Dave Ennis was a a real straight forward professional who had worked for Mckaw for 5 or6 years on the generall basis that someda y he would buy or take ownership. Four or five years after the Author turned this job down, Dave Ennis was out of the Company and left with nothing. The Author does not know what happened but the word among colleagues was that Enniis got schafft ed by McKaw. When this happened my meeting with McKaw was recalled and my decision thankful for.
This initial experience gave me the impetus to press on with my objective. PFRA was a very good organization and my boss at Shellmouth, Bob Thomlinson was very good, giving me the room and flexibility to do my job My status had progressed to level Engineer 3 and at just 28 years old it would have been nearly impossible to pack in a more varied and comprehensive range of experience. It was well known that at PFRA ,you would get your promotion if you remained loyal and waited for it. But for me there in Winnipeg, Bob was ahead at the 4 level, then Bill Hall at a 5 and finally Herman Riesen probably nearing retirement. And the organizations mandate was shrinking fast, no ,it was time to move on!.
It was also time to reinvigorate my social life. Substantial career goals had been accomplished and now time could be taken to broaden my horizons in terms of my lifeís aspirations.The past years interlude with the Langenburg nurse had reawakened my interests in things beyond my engineering career. Gillam with the big Manitoba Hydro Dam was a possibility, but that was small town northern wilderness and work camp territory, not quite what was in my mind
Over the next few months, four or five jobs were applied including some in the U. S. clipped from the Engineering News Record magazine which we got at the office, which was published weekly and which I would subscribed to directly. A job offer was received from a good sized contractor in Ohio, starting as an estimator, but concern about the ongoing Vietnam war and eligibility for the Draft after 2 years of moving there nixed that idea. An offer was made to join the Saskatchewan water resources branch building the large irrigation system supported by the just being completed SSRP by PFRA, but here again the Author would be located in a small town on the treeless Saskatchewan prairie, not the improved social life being envisioned. Then there was the New Brunswick Hydro Electric Authority opportunity a t the just starting Macktaquak Dam on the St John River halfway between Fredericton and St John, but again an out of town camp situation, but it was an excellent job opportunity.
April was a pretty drag month as all there was to do was to review plans and specs for the upcoming final contract, again won by BACM with Ted Widdecome as his main earthmoving subcontractor. Finally it was May and we were able to get back to the Shellmouth site. Our PFRA crew were all back and in efficient team mode as work started on the embankments final sage. Our inspection and testing processes were well established with BACM from previous years so there were few problems encountered
BACM got right into the harvesting of riprap from fields within about a 5 mile radius where agreements were made with farmer. We observed this activity but at this stage there was re ally nothing to inspect.
HARVESTING LARGE RIPRAP ĖSCREENING WITH GRIZZLY-SHAKER FOR SMALLER RIPRAP BEDDING
Once the Spring freshet of the Assiniboine ha d passed a and the River flow reduced work began on the river closure operation. This was accomplished by bulldozing material into the River from both sides just upstream of the dam until blockage occurred. Pumps were then set up to move water downstream overland as many farmers and towns and cities like Brandon and Port age l a Prairie depended on the river for water. By late June, with the river closed work started on cleaning the old riverbed of all organic or unsuitable material to a good bottom and major embankment construction in that area got underway. Around the same time lights were set up on the east hill borrow area and the main embankment area and a 24 hour a day earthmoving operation begun. This attracted many evening viewers to our east hill viewpoint site as people drove in to watch an army of twenty to thirty pieces of equipment moving up and down the worksite below.
Sometime around the end of May or early June an ad appeared in the Free Press for a Regional Engineer for the Dept of India n Affairs , Manitoba Region. The ad was for a n Engineer 4 level surprisingly ,given the supposed responsibility and would look after all construction and maintenance on Indian Reserves in Manitoba . The job was based in Winnipeg where their Regional office was located. This looked like a good opportunity to me, just the level above me and another Federal Department, so an application was submitted with nothing to lose.
As things turned out the Author had to make a visit to the SSRP project, about 60 miles south and west of Saskatoon the first week of July to study the placing of riprap ,to be prepared to properly moniter and supervise the work to be done here. This trip would take 3 days and my own car would be used with a mileage allowance paid. Coincidently the week before leaving a call was received form Indi an Affairs looking to set up an interview for their Regional Engineer position that had been applied for. Great stuff! We set it up for immediately after July 1st , so that following the interview the Author could leave for the SSRP in Saskatchewan.
The Author knew literally nothing about Indian Affairs except that in Canada they looked after everything to do with Indians on Reserves there being no Provincial involvement. A map was checked to see where the Reserves were, and at least half were up north In isolated areas. like the Godís ake Fishing Lodge that you would read stories about. One of the main things going for me was that I had grown up next to the Waywayseecappo Reserv e, had played baseball against them on the Reserve and they came into town every Saturday. They could not go into the beer Parlour in those days at and we bought sleighloads of cut trees from them to be cut into wood for our stove and furnace.
The interview seemed to go well. They told me about the job and reviewed my experience. There was Stan Knapp Superintendent of Community Development which supposedly included Engineering. Also F rank Joyce Head of Personnel. There may have been a Public Service person there a s well. They had only had an Engineer for a few years and the first one had just quit.. In the end it was hard to say how I did, these people were not Engineers, they had a group in Ottawa with a Director and a small design unit in Saskatoon for the Prairies. But they were Professionals and in that regard there was a good comfort level in discussing Indian Reserve and infrastructure needs and the idea of providing a service to Indian communities. Housing was a major theme. A very unique job that if offered would be accepted!
So on to the SSRP to riprap school so to speak and then back to Shellmouth where riprap placing was set to begin for the conduit and spillway structures completed in the past two years . The Indian Affairs position was all the Author had going at that point, but the embankment grew higher quickly now as the work surface narrowed as we went up and the24 hour work shifts grew more efficient e ach day. Golf continued with Frank on Sundays, a nice break, either at Russell, Yorkton. In early August a letter arrived from Indian Affairs and before opening it seemed doubtful that a job offer would come this way as opposed to a phone call, and sur e enough that was correct, the Author being advised that my qualifications were not good up to the position requirements.
Work continued, my Detroit Tigers were doing we ll and would be in the World Series, but the Bluye Bombers were not having a good year. Wes and Keith were both St, Louis fans. We put a good bet on the Series, but St Louis took an early lead. It looked like we would be able to finish up work by late October as the placing of riprap on the main upstream embankment was now well underway.
PLACING RIPRAP BEDDING ROCK AND RIPRAP ON MAIN DAM EMBANKMENT
A LIFE CHANGING EVENT
Then suddenly, absolutely out of the blue the office phone rings one late September afternoon and someone asks to speak to me. It is Frank Joyce with Indian Affairs in Winnipeg. He is calling to tell me that they(Indian Affairs) were unable to find anyone qualified in their search and interviews for the Regional Engineer position ,but that Stan Knapp was impressed with my potential and they wanted to get someone into the posit ion. Would I consider accepting the job on an underfill basis at the top of the Engineer 3 level and then if my performance was satisfactory after six months , I would be raised to the Engineer 4 level .If agreed to they would formalize the offer in writing.
WOW! What a surprise! At that point my answer was a no-brainer and the process unfolded quickly from there. I told old Bob Thomlinson what was happening and formally accepted the offer as soon as the letter was received and gave two weekís notice. During that 2 week period my Tigers had fallen behind 3 games to one. That year they had the great Denny McLain Mickey Lolich on the mound but couldnít seem to get rolling. Wes and Kei th were giving me a hard time over our bet and offered jokingly to go double or nothing.. I accepted, and Mickey Lolich went on to win 3 games as the Tigers won the series .These two events, occurring in the same time period became memorialized in my mind.
LESSON LEARNED: If you somehow know that itís time to move on, persevereuntil it happens!
On my last day at the Dam in mid-October there was a little gathering after work and the staff presented me with an engraved pewter mug to remember my time at Shellmouth and a card signed by everyone as shown below. These people ha d been my friends and colleagues for the last three years ,some for as long as five. I knew most of their wives and a few of their kids from Camp, so it was an enjoyable but thoughtful goodbye. A day or two later a visit was paid to the Winnipeg office and at night as was the custom there a stag and poker gathering where another engraved mug was received.
A VERY NICE GOODBYE
SHELLMOUTH STAFF FAREWELL CARD
SHELLMOUTH DAM AS SUBSTANTIALLY COMLETED IN OCTOBER 1968
PARTIALLY FILLING RESERVOIR AT MY DEPARTURE IN LATE AUTUMN 1968
GRATEFUL FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO WORK AT THIS SCENIC LOCATION FOR 3 YEARS!
After the Dam was completed, the Manitoba Government constructed a paved road from Highway 83 to across the dam to the existing north south road on the west side to Saskatchewan. They also built a Provincial Park "Assessipi "at the mouth of the Shell River which became a major tourist and cottage area for the Russell area, including a ski hill. A naming contest for the reservoir resulted in it becoming known as the "Lake of the Prairies".
Before reporting for work at my new position F rank and the Author decided to take a little holiday break. Accordingly we flew to Montreal, spending a day touring the city including S t Catherineís street and Mount Royal. We then picked up a car, driving to Quebec City to tour the Plains of Abraham and the old city . From there we drove up the north shore of the S t Lawrence , crossing the Saguenay R river to Tadoosac. Today the town is the centre of a large Whale watching tourist industry but in those days it was all we could do to find a tea house to get something to eat after a long drive
That evening we took a ferry a c ross the S t Lawrence to Riviere du Loup on the south shore, spending the night there before setting out to Rimouski and the Gaspe Peninsula. We arrived a t the town of Gaspe which was just a sleepy little place then, eating in a bar type place. Today Gaspe is a city of about 25,000, The next morning we continued on a round to Perce Rock , the famous landmark and then on to overnight at Bathurst New Brunswick. , the pulp and paper town that R on and Carol Cartwright moved to for a few years around this time, but it was not known to me then.
On to Moncton which was a small city but as the old joke goes looked like they rolled up the s ide walks at night it seemed so deserted. Next was S t John and the Reversing Falls before continuing on into Maine in the U S ,staying overnight at Bangor. We were particularly interested in seeing the beautiful fall foliage in the New England States and chose secondary highways through Maine, New Hampshire and Massachutes and were rewarded with gorgeous red, yellow and orange foliage scenery throughout.
Finally we arrived in Boston, and checked into a motel on the cityís outskirts. We noticed that the Detroit Pistons were in town that night to play the Boston Celtics. We decided to go, and drove to a park and ride train/subway station closer in. It came in below the old Boston Gardens downtown. Somehow we got ticket s way up high near the top. The only player remembered from that Celtics team was Bill Russell. After the game we took the subway y back to our parking area and then went through a nightmare in city driving for 2 or 3 hours. We got on the Freeway going the wrong way and kept going back downtown across the Mystic Bridge.. We would get off at spots to turn around, but these all seemed to be into 200 year old narrow streets where we would have to figure how to get back on and ended up going the wrong way again. It was a tolled expressway through downtown Boston. We finally got turned around by begging a toll attendant to let us turn around at at a tollgate where the roads were together. The Author was driving and it was an experience never to be forgotten kike the the Kingston Trio song Charlie and the MTA, which he couldnít get off!
From Boston we headed up to the New York State Capital, Albany and then up to Montreal and our flight to Winnipeg. This was a nice break as I prepared to start a new chapter in my life, which would prove to be a transformative experience in more ways than one!
THE DEPARTMENT OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT (DIAND)
INDIAN AFFAIRS BRANCH (IAB)
It was a cool brisk day on November the 4th,1968, there was as yet no snow on the ground, as the Author walked down Edmonton Street from his parents apartment on the corner with Assiniboine. The Indian Affairs office was located in the McDonald building on the west side of this same street, mid way between Graham and Portage. On entering the building you were immediately in a lobby with an elevator to the side. In the elevator I was joined by a young blonde women. We were both going to the 3rd floor, Indian Affairs. She disappeared into the offices while I stopped at the counter to register my arrival.
Frank Joyce soon joined me there and we made our way to Stan Knappís office and then to that of the Regional Director Bob Connelly. After a short wait we entered and was introduced to Bob to whom my reporting relationship would be, as opposed to Stan Knapp. This was due to a push from our national Director of Engineering George Bowen as well as Bob Connelly himself, who wanted the Regional Engineers reporting directly to the Regional Directors similar to Personnel and Finance. The f our of us talked for a few minutes, the Author being surprised a t how young he was, perhaps in his late thirties, and how open and informal the conversation was.
From there I was introduced to my staff members, located quite nearby, Hank Mitchell the Regional construction supervisor, my secretary, Valerie Solomon, my office clerk Lloyd Nerbas and E d Young my draftsman. Then a few others around the office, Jerry Kelly, Bob Connellyís executive assistant, Bobís secretary Helen, Fred, head of Finance. And Elva Stanís secretary.
Before there was any time to digest this, I was taken to my office where Vic the Head of water and sewer from Ottawa and Eric Hulsman, Community Planner from the Saskatoon Design office were waiting to brief me on my job in terms of what was currently happening. Vic had been coming out every three or four weeks acting as Regional Engineer during the last 6 months or so.
The next four days were spent with Vic and Eric reviewing six community planning studies that they had contracted for over the past year. Done by Winnipeg based consultants, the studies on the Fort Alexander, Peguis, Buffalo Point, Sandy Bay, Roseau River and The Pas Reserves, looked at the roads, location of housing and schools etc. and made recommendations for changes aimed at locating housing closer together so they could be served by sewer and water. Generally speaking Indian people liked to live separated a bit from others except perhaps for family groupings, there being no land subdivision or individual l ownership of land on Reserves. There was a Certificate of Possession system in the Department but few Bands used it.
Each of these report s were 30 to 40 pages , maps, figures, descriptive analysis, comments. suggestions and recommendations. They also had a large mosaic map made from aerial nphotographs with geological soil interpretation of the Cross Lake Reserve and contours, all done by J D Mollard of R egina At night I would go home with my head bur sting only to start again the next morning. B y Friday much sleep had been lost , it seemed that responsibility for acting on these studies was being passed to me. Was this all there was to this job and where was the construction stuff so to speak.? Thank God there was a weekend to recover and give myself a chance to finally get away from these two men and get some sleep and pull my thoughts together! Had I bitten off more then I could chew? There was a point on Friday night that I seriously questioned what exactly I had got myself into.!
UNDERSTANDING INDIAN AFFAIRS
On the next Tuesday following Remembrance Day things were much quietter at the office and time was able to be spent with Hank Mitchell my key Construction Supervisor and to review the housing program in the Region and what other construction projects we had underway. Hank did not know much about the Community Planning studies these being managed on their own by Vic and Eric from Ottawa and Saskatoon. What did become clear was that all of our planning and construction projects were authorized and paid for by either the Community Affairs Branch run by Stan Knapp or by the Education Branch which was headed by John Slobodian who the Author had met last week.
We in Engineering were a service Branch that provided our expertise to these Program Branches, the third one being Economic Development. Housing, roads and water and sewer were Community Affairs programs and anything to do with the planning, design and construction of schools belonged to Education. Community Planning belonged to Community Affairs and all of these studies reviewed last week would have been authorized by them ie. Stan Knapp. That immediately raised the question as to why no one from that Branch was involved in all those briefing meetings and discussions last week? As time went on a little further it became clearer the the Saskatoon Design office had recently added a couple of Planners staff and between them and Ottawa had encouraged/pushed to have a bunch of studies done, which now completed Community Affairs didnít re ally understand or know what to do with. In fact they had no one on staff other than the Director S tan Knapp to even deal with the issues which went a long way to explain their absence from the briefings last week.
Nevertheless these w ere needed and valid studies trying to establish some order on these Reserves and especially helpful in terms of planning water and sewerage services. However the decision and direction regarding outcome s from these studies were the sole responsibility of Community Affairs . One could grasp now the very rudimentary and rural nature of Manitoba Reserves and the hugh challenge presented to the B ranch in trying to improve the infrastructure , standard of living and health of these people all in a w ay that they could support and agree to. The Author would go on from here to become very proactive and involved with the Community Affairs Program in working towards these objectives and integrate himself into this work.That included conceiving, initiating and proposing projects on Reserves that were achievable and beneficial to the residents and then with Program approval and funding, implementing and managing all aspects of their planning, design and construction. This Department/Branch offered me the opportunity to do this given the near vacuum of knowledge on the Program side,allowing me to step in and contribute and in the process opened up a whole new world for me.
ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE OF MANITOBA REGION-INDIAN AFFAIRS BNOVEMBER 1968
From that beginning through December and into January most of my time was spent in meeting and talking to more people and learning the organizational structure of the Region, the delegation from Ottawa HQ to the three Programs as well as in our Engineering Branch, the role of Public Works Canada in larger school projects and the relationship with my Construction Supervisors and Maintenance Craftsmen in the District and Agencyís There was a coffee room with several tables in the office, and our total Winnipeg staff was only 30 to 35 staff and thisl facilitated communication and easy mingling, and overall it was a congenial atmosphere with everyone working to the same end, service to Indian people
Two other unique things about working in this Department whose organizational structure is described below and shown on the map was that it generated a lot of paper in terms of inter-Regional, Ottawa communication and all the managers dictated their letters and all the secretaries took shorthand. So "when in Rome so to s peak," I took that challenge up immediately, never having dictated anything before. It took about a week to get comfortable, feeling strange at first having a secretary across the desk in front of you hanging on your every word, going not to fast,not too slow. The secret was to be prepared with a short list of headings for each letter with the things you wanted to deal with in each.
Also unique given the total isolation of the Island Lake Agency was that the only communication was by single side band radio via radio telephone. Manitoba Telephones had a radio operator in Selkirk and you called her and she put in the radio call. Conversely she called the office when they connected with her. Talking on the radio the use of OVER after each speaking instance so the other pers on would know to go ahead and as well the frequent use of ROGER to convey your agreement.
Regarding the organizational structure,the Directors in the Regional office did not deliver any services directly to Indian Bands, rather they set policy, procedures and Program budgets which were then delegated to 3 District and 2 Agency Superintendents to deliver and control services. These
had from 2 to 5 or 6 assistants reporting to them and responsible for from 1 to 3 Bands depending on their size and location. These positions were in effect the evolution of the old Indian Agent who controlled all aspects of an Indian persons life including permission to leave the Reserve. These Assistants dealt with their client Bands daily and were the main contact/liaison people for our construction initiatives, especially housing
There was an exception to this with Education where unlike the rest of the Country, in Manitoba the Director of Education ran the Education Program through ugh 2 subordinate managers, Western Education District in Dauphin headed by Jim W right and E astern in co -located with the Clandeboye D district office on Garry Street in Winnipeg. These two Districts managed all joint school agreements with the Manitoba Government on Reserves, the Federal schools on Reserves and the operation of ten Residential Schools located throughout the Region.
The organization is shown on the previous page. Those Reserves, mostly in the north, which had a map name, are highlighted in red. All other Reserves are shown in their genera l location in red ink on white background. The Residential schools which would have between 100 and 200 students each from ages 6 to 14 are shown in green.. The District/Agencyís are in large green or black. This map looks very busy in ter5ms of its illustration but is intended to show the complexity of administering and serving 45 or so Reserves holding about 50,000 people with about half being in totally isolated area in the north and east of the Province. These latter Reserves were all fly-in only locations accessible only by float or ski equipped bush planes , except for spring break-up and freeze up when for 4-6 weeks no access was possible. These communities were resupplied once a year by winter freight cat trains, and for a few on Lake Winnipeg by barge in the summer. There would be a Hudsons Bay store and Indian Health Nursing Station on pretty well all communities.
In each District/Agency there was a Construction Supervisor reporting to the District Superintendent with one or two Maintenance Craftsmen. These people were functionally responsible to me only, and for the construction of housing, small projects and maintenance of schools, staff housing, water and sewer systems and Residential schools in the District. The Maintenance Craftsman usually had 2 or 3 tickets like Electrical, plumbing, gas etc.. Our housing plans were pretty well standardized and all work was done by day labour using the process for employment and training of Indian workers
While Indian Affairs had had a house building program for many years, it had recently been greatly expanded to meet demand. A maximum of $7000 was allowed for each unit so these were without basements or plumbing. At the time of my arrival we were building about 300 houses per year throughout the Region. All so called Major Projects were managed by Regional Engineering; these being small schools, water, sewer, and roads where engineering or architectural principles and contracts were involved as well as liaison with Ottawa and S Saskatoon Design offices or local Consultants were involved.
On the personal front by the end of November the Author had established himself in an one bedroom apartment on the 6th floor of an apartment building a t the end of Roslyn Road just over and a block west of the Osborne Street bridge. This location, relatively close to downtown and the office. I still had my stereo and encyclopediaís, and a cast off sofa and chair from my parents, a single bed and table and chairs added new and I as good to go! Also re-joined the Grain Exchange Curling Club, being assigned to a 3 man team that was short a lead. Mavbe not the most challenging but it got me back on the ice and in the game, got me some exercise and kept my mind off the job 2 nights a week in a position that was quickly becoming all consuming.
In January the Author dealt with two more aspects of his job. The first of these were negotiations with Manitoba Hydro over the Electrification of northern isolated Reserves. A few years earlier the Branch had struck a contract arrangement with Manitoba Hydro to place diesel generator installations in our northern Reserves along with an overhead distribution system We would pay the full Capital cost and they would operate the plants and collect billing from the residents. Indian houses were limited to a 15 amp fuse so as to ensure a constant load while our schools , residences etc ha d no limit. Hydro proceeded at a pace of about two Reserves or so a year, so this process continued for many years, and as it did we were able to phase out our own generators, which were primarily for our schools only.. Indian houses had no electric power until this was done.
The second item was the resupply operation to northern Reserves. In this era this was accomplished through the construction of ice or winter roads through the bush, muskeg , across rivers and lakes, primarily by the Sigfuson company. This Company would take out a land lease from the Manitoba Government for the roads and build them by clearing bush and snow allowing deep freezing of the ground and muskeg and drilling holes in a river or lake and pumping water on top of the existing ice to create an ice bridge where necessary. This work would start shortly after the first deep frosts in December and continue until about late January depending on weather conditions . Swain Sigfuson also had a world famous fly in fishing lodge at Gods Lake Narrows.
.Once the road was ready Sigfuson would use so called cat-trains to move building materials, fuel, food etc up the roads to each location.. A cat train would consist of several dozers each pulling a number of large sleighs loaded with supplies, taking days some times to reach their destination.
Our Engineering unit managed a big part of this operation coordinating the with the District/Agency construction supervisors and working directly with Sigfuson in terms of loading from different supplier and scheduling, as everything had to be unloaded from trucks or railcars at the winter road start and placed on sleighs, a logistics challenge just by itself.. Hank Mitchell handled this operation for us and Lloyd Nerbus was closely involved as all our contacts were handled by Supply and Services ,for the most part setting up Standing Offers which had been previously arranged through them.
PICTURE OF SINGLE CAT TRAIN COMPONENT IN THE FORTIES OR FIFTIES USED TO GO FROM NILFORD TO YORK LANDING. CABOOSE WOULD BE USED FOR SLEEPING AND EATING ON 24 HOUR NON STOP TRAVEL AND AT DESTINATION DURING TURN-AROUND ON LONG HAULS. BY THE MID SIXTIES CRAWLERS WERE LARGER WITH MORE POWER PULLING SEVERAL SLEIGHS
For the Reserves on the east side of Lake WInnipeg the winter road started at Manitowagen., serving Bloodvein, Berens River and Poplar River with a side road to Little Grand Rapids. The road continued north to Island Lake to the communities of Garden Hill, St Theresa Pt. and Wasagamack. A further road to the north east went to Red Sucker Lake. Oxford House, G odís Lake and Gods Lake Narrows were served from Ilford on the CN rail line , and a second road north from there went to Split Lake and York Landing, while a third road went east to Shamattawa. Another road from Waboden, also on the CN rail line went southeast to Cross Lake and Norway House as necessary.
As one can see from all of the descriptions given above, the Indian Affairs program faced huge challenges in trying to provide basic services to all of the Reserves in Manitoba, but especially to those northern isolated areas where conditions were largely unchanged from hundreds of years prior. The residents relied entirely on fishing and hunting and gathering for sustenance. There was no electricity and water for drinking, cooking and b bathing had to be taken from the adjacent river or lake. Fortunately these waters were largely uncontaminated at this point in history.
INDIAN COUNTRY AND THE NORTH
As late January approached it was time to get out in the field and visit some Reserves and District and Agency managers and take a look at Reserve situation first hand. M y first trip was to The Pas to meet Superintendent Garth Crocket and his staff and to visit the Pas Reserve which was right across the Saskatchewan n River from the town of perhaps1000people in those days. Transportation from Winnipeg was on a Transair plane, likely a DC4. The Pas was basically a frontier town in those days, a resupply and jumping off point for trappers, mining explorers and prospectors . I went into t own in a taxi entering a wide main street with stores on each side heading for The Pas Hotel. While driving down main street we met a bombardier snow machine going the other way. We had one of these at Shellmouth with PFRA, used for winter surveys of the reservoir area ,and as I would soon see they were the main winter means of transportation for our staff in isolated areas.
The Indian Affairs office was nearby and there the Author met Garth Crocket and spent considerable time meeting and discussing how my unit could support and be of service to him and his people. He was a younger man, perhaps in his mid thirties, had endured a lengthy sensitivity trainings session with the famous Doctor Toombs, and was totally dedicated to doing everything he could to help advance Indian people.
With the racial situation in the U S getting regular attention from the media, the plight and living conditions of Indians in Canada was drawing a lot of attention. The Indian Affairs Branch was trying to modernize and sensitize its approach by phasing out the old Indian Agents, many of whom were older structured war veterans, and to bring in younger people, move A gents off Reserves where possible,. and organize service delivery with more profession al expertise. One of the initiatives in this regard was to establish an one month or so in residence Sensitivity Training somewhere outs ide Ottawa to indoctrinate and restructure managers and staff. The sessions separated people from their job for a full month or so, were very intense, with stories going around about people being "broken"
We toured the Reserve in all its aspects and discussed the recently completed Community planning study to get a more practical feeling of its application and possibilities from his perspective. Also toured with a walkthrough and discussion with the Priest in charge, the McKay Residential school located right on the Reserve. This was my first look at one of these schools, it being three stories including a basement with dormitories, eating halls, classrooms etc.
As noted above Mr. Crocket was totally dedicated to Indian people and we would become good friends often getting together for supper and more conversation at the Sherwood Polynesian room near the office, on occasions when he would make work trips from The Pas to the Regional office.
However he did have problems with trusting the wrong people too much and not understanding the implications of some of his decisions related to construction of engineered projects. Within the first year of meeting Regional Director Bob Connelly, with my assistance had to bail him out of bad decisions which he didnít have adequate knowledge or the authority to make.
The first concerned a commercial trailer Park which he started on the The Pas Reserve as an economic development project, making a deal with the contractor who had previously held the position the Author was in. This man continued active ownership of his Company even when he was Regional Engineer. Fortunately he had resigned the Spring of the year I was hired before he got the Branch into a major conflict of interest/ legal problem. The problem started when this contractor ran out of money and refused to finish the job unless he was paid more.
Garth Crocket didnít have any more money anywhere in his budget, so had to call Regional Office for help which then blew the whole mess wide open.The Author had to fly up there with my Water and Sewer technical officer Ken McLelland, assess the situation on the ground in terms of design and the contract status, and prepare a so called bail out plan to complete the work and cancel/conclude the contract, all this for Regional Directors Connellyís approval. This all got done in the end and the project completed, but the whole thing was an eye-opening adventure for myself as well as for the Regional Directors trust in his District managers
About nine or ten months later he got in trouble again when an old folks home he had approved the Band to build, again ran into problems with funding but more particularly with standards. We were allowing some more capable Bands to build their own houses using our plans and in this case allowed them to use funds from 4 or 5 houses to build a large so called old folks home. After getting it half built or so, someone ,likely from Indian Health found out what was going on and raised a concern because it would have to be licenced by the Manitoba Government. .
Such a building would have to meet stringent standards in terms of room sizes, cooking, fire alarm systems ,exits etc and for this building under construction there was in effect no design. We had to call in our Saskatoon design people to measure the whole thing up, redesign it to meet all standards and prepare a cost estimate to complete. Once again, this eventually all got done but not without a lot of pain and overspent budgets and hopefully as before some lessons learned about the importance of Regional engineering expertise and services.
My role in these problems was to act as an expert advisor and fixer, but our gung ho attitude to supporting the managers and Regional Director Connelly greatly enhanced the Authors unit in the eyes of Director Connelly and solidified his direction to keep all major projects and their budgets under my control. It also demonstrated to District managers that we were there to help them and to please involve us at the beginning so we could work together to develop a successful project. Another benefit was the opportunity to interact with Bob Connelly and his Executive Assistant Jerry Kelly frequently and to develop a very positive relationship with both and a reputation as a team player.
Bob Connelly was a very personable person, outgoing, good humoured and extremely knowledgeable about his job and the Region. He had come up through the Education program , starting as a teacher and rising to Regional Director about a year earlier at about 38 or 39 years of age. He had been raise d in the French speaking town of Laurent just north of Winnipeg a and was fluently bi-lingual
About two weeks after the Pas trip, another was ma de with Hank Mitchell to Churchill via Thompson to take a look at the recently constructed Dene Village adjacent. Bud Schroeder was the Assistant here and he toured us around the community including the unique port facilities used to export primarily grain overseas. We stayed overnight at the Churchill Hotel, checking out the Lounge at night which as suspected as a bit of a zoo!
Dene Village was a brand new settlement built in a bush area just outside the town with roads winding through and houses built perhaps a hundred feet apart. The story here is quite tragic as these people were forcibly relocated from a place called Duck Lake near the NWT boundary in 1957 by the Northern Affairs Branch of DIAND and the Manitoba Government , because there were presumably a dwindling caribou herd that they depended on in their traditional hunting and gathering life style. They ended up living in tents and shanties on the edge of Churchill until finally in 1967 , DIAND and the Manitoba Government agreed to build this village
Hank had been somewhat t involved in this but it was basic ally handled from Ottawa . The houses were built high above the ground and under were placed fibre glass tanks , one for water and the second for holding sew age. These tanks were regularly filled or emptied by truck as needed.. Vic ,the he ad of water and sewer in Ottawa had played a major role in designing this set-up. And the main reason we were looking at them was because Vic thought this approach could be used elsewhere
A s these people were C hipeweyan Indians known as Dene people and living across the northern prairies and I n the Territories they were the responsibility of DIAND and our IAB. The Manitoba Government involvement stemmed from the fact that these people h ad no Reserve an d therefor were living on Provincial Crown la n d. Not too many years later these people decided to relocate themselves to Tadoule Lake about 200 miles west. By then Manitoba had determined that the Cariboo herdís survival was not at risk after all. Overall, in retrospect the whole thing was a massive piece of Federal/Provincial bureaucratic bungling.
. The Author does not recall any further trips to Churchill. A couple of weeks later a trip was made with Eddie Daggitt, the Superintendent of the Clandeboye District to the large Peguis Reserve in the inter lake district to attend a Band meeting and general familiarization.
After that it was time to take a shorty break in accordance with an arrangement made when I signed on, to let me use up my remaining holidays before April 1st. Bob, Tom and I had agreed to take a trip to Mexico in February. They went down ahead of me and I followed several days later connecting through Chicago to a direct flight to Mexico City. One firm memory is that as I pulled up in front of the hotel we were staying at there was a Mariachi Band playing on the street. The boys were waiting inside and we spent the next hour or two taking tequila shots, licking s alt and biting into limes as was supposedly the technique to use.
From there we spent 2 o3 days walking and riding buses around the City. One further memory is of spending an afternoon in Chapultepec Park. We then rented a car and drove to Acapulco and spent time back and forth between the Afternoon and Morning be aches, one was called Los Hornos. At one of these beaches I availed myself of another opportunity to Scuba dive. T he guy had his setup right on the beach and we went out about a half mile in his boat and did about a 1 hour dive with him. My memory was strong from my previous Jamaica experience even after 2 years and there was no problem. Again, the water was warm here, no wet suit was necessary. The equipment was quite rudimentary still in those days, a mask and regulator and tank on your back with a pin that you pulled to get one more minute of air if you were running out, and of course a pair of flippers.. Bob and Tom waited for me on the beach. The only other thing that sticks in my memory other than a few night clubs is the Cliff Divers which are still world famous.
After returning and displaying my tan, my next trip would be to Cross Lake, my first to an isolated Reserve. Bob Connelly had to make a visit there with the Assistant Deputy Minister for Manitoba Northern Affairs and he invited me to go with him as a way to familiarize myself with this location. The Reserve had a population of perhaps 1200 residents at the time at time and was strung out on both sides of the Nelson River about 100 miles south of Thompson. It also had the only isolated Residential School in Manitoba at that time ,run by the Catholic church. When Bob told me who he was going with I advised him that I thought I knew the Provincial ADM accompanying us.
We flew to Thompson early on a Friday morning in mid March and headed for the Lamb Air hanger at their float/ski plane base. On the nearby Burntwood River. After arriving to meet the Provincial ADM, and sure enough just as I thought it was Johnny MacDonald, the District Engineer at Birtle Highways who I had worked under in the summers of 1960 and 61. He h ad advanced in Highways to their Winnipeg Hea d office and then got the new ADM job when they created it to look after their growing responsibilities in the North, particul arly Metis settlements adjacent to many northern Reserves . This w as the case at Cross Lake, and we and Northern Affairs would mount small joint projects where it made sense, usually a small community dock or short piece of road where we would walk a dozer in in winter and have him push dirt up all summer creating an improved vehicle access. For them it meant getting Federal money spent, and maybe some votes, for us it meant getting Provincial money helping out Indian people for which they had no direct responsibility,.
It was good to meet Johnny again after some 8 years and know that in the future you would be working with a manager whom you knew. There would be any number of meeting, discussions and letter exchanges over the next years. He had four officers working for him called Northern Cordinators each covering an area and whom I worked closely.
Johnny was fairly outgoing and made it a point to connect with influential people. He used to sometimes take the MLA, Bob Smellie, a lawyer from Russell who I also knew on tours of highway projects. Smellie later became Minister of Municipal [al Affairs and was no doubt helpful to Johnny in getting this job. He was the perfect candidate, a wheeler dealer who knew how to manipulate the system to get things done. In his own way Bob Connelly was similarly minded, very common sense based and interested in results, so they had a close relationship. Johnny was also a Shriner and a member of the motorcycle squad. Talk about connecting to influential people
LESSON LEARNED: The importance of every work superior or acquaintance and of good relationships cannot be over emphasized in terms of future opportunities that may present themselves.
At the hanger the three of us climbed into a dehaviland Beaver equipped with wheel skis and taxied toward the runway for takeoff using wheels. Bob and Johnny were in the two seats behind the lone pilot and I was sitting behind them on a canvas sling seat, easily removed by pulling the bar out, for cargo room . We were all we all in parkas or similar as there was not that much heat in those planes in winter. The flight took about an hour and we landed using the skis on the Nelson River ice s trip near the HBC store, nursing station and our Indian Agency office and residence. Our resident Assistant Jerry Allen was there to meet us with the Agencyís Bombardier snow machine to transport us around the community in terms of Bobís and Johnnyís business which has long since escaped my memory.
BOMBARDIER SNOW MACHINE. DEHAVILAND BEAVER BUSH PLANE ON WHEEL SKIS
The Bombardier invented snowmobile or ski-doo was invented in 1957 but did not come into wide spread use in the north until it was developed and sold as a recreation vehicle in the early 1970ís.
During the afternoon and at a lunch break at Jerryís residence we seemed to get along quite well. He was about my age with a wife a n d small child living with him there in an Indian Affairs house.T he Beaver came back about 4 oíclock to pick us up and Jerry asked me if I would like to stay the weekend and see more of the community I had no reason not to, so agreed and Bob and Johnny went back to Thompson and arrangement ma de for the Beaver to come back Sund ay afternoon to pick me up. We contacted Transair in Thompson by radio to re-arrange my Sunday flight to Winnipeg
On Saturday Jerry and the Author took the Snow machine and explored more of the Reserve,. As previously indicated it was spread out 2 or3 three miles on each side of the Nelson River. Even on the same side some groups of houses were inaccessible to others without a boat or walk across a tributary river in winter. There were five primary house grouping areas with elementary schools in each. There were no r9oads. At the south end where the Nelson narrowed, Catholic Church had built a large s tone Residential school pictured below. We took some time touring through the facility looking at the dormitories, halls classrooms etc. It was effectively 4 stories tall built entirely from fieldstone and masonry. It had a large cistern pumped full regularly with water from the Nelson immediately adjacent and a sewage outfall dumping directly into the river. Not, the greatest for the community which was mostly downstream. There is an excerpt below from a historical document on the operation of the school
CROSS LAKE CATHOLIC RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL 1909-1969. CONTINUED AS A DAY SCOOL UNTIL 1972
According to historical records this school housed 303 students at one time with ten Sisters assisting the Oblate Fathers. While most of the children came from Cross Lake itself, others came from as far away as Oxford House and Gods Lake as well as Island Lake. These students would have travelled initially by canoe, later by bush planes like the Norseman
Saturday was a beautiful sunny day as we travelled around on the ice and snow trails and in some sense the whole scene was like a continuous picture post card !. That Jerry invited the Bay store manager over to play cards and the evening was spent accordingly. As the Author recalls it Jerry had been the Bay manager at Cross Lake for a year or so before joining Indian Affairs. On Sunday my plane arrived about mid afternoon and I flew back in the co-pilots seat, getting a first hand look at flying, all planes having a complete set of dual controls.
My next trip came about 2 weeks later at the end of March up tp Island Lake, about 300 moles northeast and on Ilford-Riverton Airways. Some of these trips are bes t remembered for the wrong reasons, this being one of them. We started out at the Airlines hanger at the Winnipeg airport and 6 or 7 of us climbed into a Beechcraft 18 , sitting lined up sideways on a bench on each side of the plane. We than taxied to the runway and took off on a 2 hour journey. We were all fairly snugged together ,all wearing heavy parkas side by side and across from each other. One of the passengers was Lonny Moorehouse, District Education manager for the Island Lake Agency area. I had not met Lonny at that point, but had heard of her and recognized hearing her name in the hanger. The story around the office was that she and the Principal at Garden Hill, Connie, lived together as lesbians ie. Lonny and Connie. Nothing of consequence today, but at that time, a big story.
As we headed out over Lake Winnipeg and up its east side it was warm and stuffy in the plane and shortly after takeoff someone near the back had got sick and puked in a barf bag, and that smell permeated itself throughout the cabin creating a nauseating feeing and the possibility of getting sick myself, covering my nose to protect myself. It was very noisy in the plane as the twin engines were only feet away, the plane was bouncing a little and sitting sideways the motion was kind of disorienting, and the warmth and lack of any kind of ventilation seemed to go on forever. Finally we got to our destination and landed on the ice strip beside Steveson Island where our Agency was located.
BEECH 18 AIRCRAFT AS FLOWN ON IN MARCH TRIP TO ISLAND LAKE
Island Lake itself was of irregular shape, perhaps 20 miles long, 7 or8 miles wide, dotted with thousands of islands large and small all covered with northern spruce growth. At one end where we landed was Steveson Island, provincial land and across about a quarter mile was the Garden Hill Indian Reserve. At the southwest corner of the Lake, about 12 miles away was the St Theresa Point Reserve ,and about 4 miles north from there was another Reserve Wassagamach. Garden Hill had about 1200 residents, St Theresa maybe 800 and Wassagamach say 400.
We unloaded our stuff from the plane, mainly a large sleeping bag which all our staff carried on pretty well every trip , both for safety if ever needed and as a bed on a floor or mattress depending what was available with the house or line shack where you were. There was of course no airstrip at Island Lake ,although Johnny MacDonald had brought a couple of dozers in on the winter road and they were starting to build one at one end of the Island. The Agency had a Bombardier snow machine here as well and so we had some form of transportation, but for most it was walking.
The rest of the day was spent looking around the Agency set-up and office and meeting the various staff there. Bob Lauze was our Construction Supervisor, Norm Campbell our Maintenance Craftsman. The Agency Supertendent was Cliff Dowson, Hugh McNaughton the Assistant for Garden Hill, Ron, a native man for St Theresa and Wasagamack and Mike Kirkpatrick the Economic Development officer Lonnie Moorehouseís office was in the Garden Hill school.
The Agency was also responsible for the Red Sucker Reserve, about 40 miles to the northeast, the Gods Lake Reserve, population 800, about 50 miles northwest of Island Lake, Gods River Narrows ,population 300,about 20 miles east of the lake and finally Oxford House, population about 1000, a further 30 miles northwest of Gods Lake.(see map).We had an Assistant resident at Gods Lake, Brian Eardly, and the specialists at Agency headquarters covered all Agency Reserves.
Stevenson Island was about a mile long but very narrow and was Provincial crown land about one quarter mile off the Garden Hill Reserve. Indian Affairs had a lease at one end where an office had been built for the Agency and just beyond 5 or 6 staff house ,on either side of a short piece of road, The houses faced the road but each backed on the lake. There was a water line and pumphouse, but each house had its own sew age field. There was a large dock on the shore near the office where the Agency boats were moored, one for each staff member
Cliff Dowson was batching in his house, as was Hugh McNaughton, the others had their wives and children here. Cliff cooked supper for us and later I would spread my sleeping bag on a bed with a mattress in an empty room. But before that and sometime after supper Mike and Hugh came over and bottles were pulled out and we had a very long yakking session that went on past midnight all getting to know each other, where we were from and our backgrounds. Lots of discussion about the work we were trying to do in terms of Indian people, and lots of stories . Hugh started off with describing how we had met before at Shellmouth, as mentioned in that chapter. He had transferred to a job in the Yukon with Indian Affairs and about a year ago had got the job as an Assistant for Garden H ill. His story was about walking into the PFRA Office at Shellmouth after ta king in the view of this large undertaking and meeting the man in charge, the Author, and being non-plussed by my relative youth, ie. 26 at that time!. These men were all seriously dedicated to their jobs and the overall session was invaluable to me in understanding the northern challenges and building permanent relationships with these colleagues.
The next day Huh took me in the snow machine across to Garden Hill and we looked over the community stretching 2 to 3 miles along the waterís edge. As at Cross Lake with the snow and lake ice,rocky outcrops along the shore, bright sun and spruce tree backdrop everywhere it was quite scenic. The main feature s beyond the housing were the Band Hall, Nursing station, Hudson Bay store and the large two level school complete with water pump station and sewage lagoon and an introduction to Lonnie Moorehouse. Later in the day the Author spent time with Bod Lauze and Norm Campbell to talk about, issues or concerns and make sure our Winnipeg support was ok. Thereafter another batched meal at Cliffs , another bight in my sleeping bag and more discussions with Cliff about projects that we could recommend or promote and a return trip to Winnipeg on the Beech 18. Overall an excellent outing
CONSOLIDATION AND IMPROVEMENTS
Back in Winnipeg it was a time to consolidate where the Author was at and consider some organizational issues. It w as also break-up in the north so no travel would be possible until the water was open and you could get in on float s. In May my promotion to Engineer 4 came through without issue respecting my performance. By then I had settled in well, gained the respect of my client managers at both Region and District/Agency, grasped the issues being faced and begun to make recommendations and take initiatives.
One of thee was to solicit a vacant position from compliment and convert it to a Water and Sewer Construction Supervisor. Hank Mitchell ha d hired Ken McClelland on a casual basis before my arrival and his knowledge and experience in t at area was proving invaluable. He had a solid background not only in construction, but had worked as Town Superintendent/engineer in Grandview and was fully conversant with system operating procedures and Provincial standards
Another initiative was to organize our engineering plans and documents area where our draftsman Ed worked. He had drawers full of plans and drawings and stuff lying everywhere,. We had no idea of what we had nor where anything was. I talked to Ron Down the Head Draftsman at my old PFRA office and whom I had worked with on many projects, and he agreed to look over our situation and to advise how to implement the cataloguing and control system that PFRA had. We hired an Engineering student for the summer, coincidently the son of George Torpey, the Head of DSS Manitoba,whose office did all of our purchasing Under Ronís direction and instructions Ed and our student spent the summer implementing a roll stick marker and index car d for each document/plan/drawing.
Another change was the preparation of a large drawing schedule for all of our projects, showing the name ,location and timeline of each initiative. This was sent out to the Indian Bands and Regional and District mangers whose projects were designated..
Now it was June, construction season was starting and over the rest of the summer and F all as well as into 1970 the challenge was to visit every remaining Reserve, and District/ Agency as well as Residential school. A good start was made to Brandon with Superintendent Dick Bell, a kind of out spoken, old school ma n with a West Coast background. His favourite saying was that India n Affairs was responsible for Indi ns " From the Erection to the Resurrection".
His construction supervisor Doug Dobbie was the most common sense/wisdom person you could ever meet. His favourite saying when driving through a Reserve and observing the helter skelter way houses were located was "that nothing was built straight with the world". Doug and the Author visited some of the larger Reserves,Waywayseecappo, Birdtail Sioux, Keeesekewin, and Sandy Bay and toured the Residential schools at Birtle, Brandon and Sandy Bay
Then it was June, breakup was complete and the northern Rivers and lakes were open again. This summer we were putting in a water line with watering points in Nelson House, 40 miles west of Thompson and on the Burntwood River, tributary to the Nelson. This was our first such initiative of this type. There was nothing similar anywhere, with all northern residents pailing their water from the adjacent river or lake. For the most part the water was uncontaminated with residents adapted to it. If there was a problem, boiling for 2 minutes would kill all bacteria and there was the old standby of a couple of drops of javex, mostly chlorine in a pail to kill bacteria. Interestingly that in my almost 6 years as Regional Engineer, I do not recall a single outbreak of contamination on our Northern Reserves. The most dangerous time was during the Spring freshette when plant material could get picked up in the water.
Ken McClelland had researched and found a poly ethylene pipe supplier that could get the pipe coated with 2 or 3 inches of insulation by a Shaw company. Using an electric welding type machine the pipe joints could be fused together and then the joint insulated and shrink wrapped with another torch like device to seal it. We could bury the pipe 6 or 7 feet to get it substantially below frost ,and at or near the bedrock. Ken had developed a watering point stand, that would not freeze either due to a at pipe valve or heat tape from a nearby hydro pole . Nelson House being near Thompson had been one of the first Reserves to get Diesel generators from Manitoba Hydro,. The advantage of polyethylene pipe was it would expand without cracking under frost or ice . and the insulation ensured that if freezing temperatures did occur ,there would be minimal frost in the pipe.
We had been able to locate a backhoe owner operator who was willing to take his machine and a trailer to live, in over the winter road and sign a contract with us for about 60 or more guaranteed hours a week through the spring, summer and Fall, as we built an inlet into the lake, a pump house with chlorinator and installed about 2 miles of water line. Ken went in in March to install the polyethylene intake line, laying it out on the ice with prebuilt concrete weights we had shipped in. A trench had to be excavated a short way s out to get the pipe below ice/frost level.. All and all the whole operation was tricky, but Ken and the backhoe guy were good innovative construction people. We used available Indian labour throughout all the work
So in June, I was heading up to Nelson House with Ken to check out this operation. A flight to Thompson, then out to Lambairís Float Plane base. We climbed onto the back of an old single Otter dehaviland bush plane that Lamb was using, there were no seats but must have been some kind of restraint. This craft was a little larger and more powerful than the Beaver and was used more for cargo than passengers.
DEHAVILAND OTTER ON FLOATS AS FLOWN TO NELSON HOUSE
These older Otters were northern work horses powerful but slow, put, putting along so to speak.There was a strong west wind blowing and it seemed we were hardly moving, it taking an hour to go the 40 miles. We landed on the water without incident, getting out on the float as the plane pulled in, stepping on to the dock and grabbing the wing, helping the pilot maneuver the plane adjacent to the dock. This would prove to be standard disembarking procedure as I became float plane savvy, although sometimes there were people at the dock to help with pulling in and it also depended on the skill of the pilot and what wind and water currents were like.
The rest of the day was spent inspecting work progress which was just getting started. There was no transportation so walking was it. For lunch we bought some bars or nuts at the Bay store. The Otter came back to pick us up in the evening. A bite to eat at the Thompson airport and we were back in Winnipeg by eleven. A very successful trip, but almost surreal in terms of a single days reality from big city to remote, isolated wilderness and back!
The next week the Author made the first of what would be many trips to the Bloodvein Reserve, located on the eastern shore of Lake Winnipeg, pretty well right at the the Narrows. The Bloodvein River had its headwaters about 100 miles to the east in the pre-Cambrian shield and flowed easterly emptying into Lake Winnipeg as described Its name was derived form the reddish color of its water itself resulting from the earth and rock material that it flowed through and an old legend about a bloody tribal battle from the past.
Last Fall our Ottawa office had designed a four room plus auxiliaries school plus a seepage type well water system and a sewage lagoon, and we had tendered it in the winter with the contractor taking in his material by winter road. We would soon tender another contract for a Tank Farm, short pipeline to the school and pump facilities. These components would come in by barge , and a tanker barge operated on Lake Winnipeg would bring in a years supply of fuel oil for the schools furnace system
In the Spring Hank Mitchel had recruited a clerk of the works who would live at Bloodvein while the work was going on and inspect and manage quality . He would live in a line shack witch the Branch maintained there for staff who had to visit the Reserve or overnight. It was about the size of a garage with a small cook stove probably kerosene, an outhouse and bunk beds.
Hank had taken our man John up as soon as the ice cleared off the River and now Hank and I were going up to check on progress and to, see how John was doing and do a familiarize for the Author. We drove to Selkirk in the morning to the water base of Selkirk Air with whom we had arranged a charter flight to Bloodvein. Today they were using a Norseman on floats, a plane just a little bit bigger and more powerful than the Beaver and capable of a bigger cargo load. Selkirk Air serviced these communities in the summer using its base just north of Winnipeg and providing summer passenger and cargo to places like Bloodvein, Hollow Water, Berens River, Poplar River and Little Grand Rapids
NOORDUYN NORSEMAN DEVELOPED IN MONTREAL IN 1935 SPECIFICALLY AS A CANADIAN BUSH PLANE 905 WERE BUILT
Selkirkís water base was located on a one mile straight section of the Red River. We took off without incident and after a one hour flight landed on the Bloodvein River about a half mile in from the Rivers mouth where the main Reserve living area was located. John was waiting for us on the dock and we proceeded from there to inspection of work and quality. There were really very few issues and John was on top of things quite well, and the work was just really getting started. I had a good walk around to get a feel of the land and as arranged the Norseman returned around 4 pm and Hank and I headed back to Selkirk. John would fly out for a weeks break about once a month.
After returning to the office next day I advised Hank that I was going to assume direct responsibility for the project and would be making these inspection trips about once a month. This was done for two reasons. First the Author wanted Hank to concentrate more on the housing program, particularly at Norway House and Cross Lake where e had no construction or maintenance staff, and ensure he had adequate time to manage the construction of several temporary classrooms being added to our northern schools. I also acknowledge that I wanted to get some direct exposure to building construction which had not been part of my previous experience.
Thereafter I would make overnight trips every few weeks to Bloodvein, hauling along my sleeping bag for bedding, in the line shack and spending the afternoon and next morning on inspection as work progressed rapidly on the school and sew age lagoon as summer advanced. John ha d wrangled the use of an old boat from one of the locals and on at least one occasion we went fishing on a near perfect still warm evening. John was also not a bad cook., and on at least one occasion Hrold a young social worker from the Clandeboye office joined us.
Meanwhile into August Selkirk Air put an old Bellanca aircraft into use . This plane on floats,was again a little more powerful than the Norseman, just a single engine but actually capable of carrying passengers or a considerable amount of cargo/freight, remembered primarily for its large very noisy radial engine. I was usually alone going up on these trips and would sit in the co-pilot seat. By now I had become quite enthralled by these bush planes and particularly enjoyed the rough wilderness, lakes, rivers, swamp and bush and rock terrain that we flew over, having a unique adventurist feeling far removed from city urban confines or even the heavy construction scenarios of Shellmouth.
BELLANCA FLOAT PLANE DEVELOPED IN NEW YORK IN THE 1930íS
BACK TO GODí(S ) COUNTRY
This heading has a double meaning in the sense that the northern wilderness of Canada has always been referred to as Godís Country in terms of its majesty and beauty, but early July the Author was returning to the Island Lake Agency, this time to visit Gods Lake and Oxford House Now that it was summer and the water was open, a new form of transport north was introduced by Ilford-0 Riverton Airways.
They had acquired a Widgeon amphibious plane and were continuing to fly from their hanger at the Winnipeg airport, landing on the water at Stevenson Island . The pla\ne had 2 engines mounted on the above roof wings, was flown by a single, and carried ,about 4 or 5 passengers, sitting in the belly of the plane. The next year the airline used a slightly large Gruman Goose. There were several small wheels on the belly allowing for take off on land, which were then retracted into the belly for water landing.
GRUMAN GOOSE ON LAND GRUMAN WIDGEON DURING TAKEOFF
GARDEN HILL SCHOOL SUMMER 1969
THIS 2013 MAP SHOWS THE ISLAND LAKE, GODS LALE, OXFORD HOUSE AREA ESSENTIALLY UNCHANGED FROM THE AUTHORS FIRST VISITS IN 1969. WHILE THERE IS SWTILL NO LAND ACCESS OTHER THAN WINTER ROAD, ALMOST ALL COMMUNITIES HAVE MODERN AIRSTRIPS WITH DAILY SERVICE BY FAST TWIN ENGINE TURBO AIRCRAFT FROM WINNIPEG OR THOMPSON. ALL COMMUNITIES NOW HAVE INTERNAL ROAD SYSTEMS, HIGH SCHOOLS, IMPROVED WATER AND SANITATION. POPULATIONS HAVE DOUBLED OR TRIPLED,HOUSING CONDITIONS REMAIN POOR, UNEMPLOYMENT IS HIGH AND HEALTH CARE PROVIDED ONLY BY LOCAL NURSING STATIONS.
Once I got to the Agency again, meetings were held with Superintendent Dowson and I left my sleeping bag at his house where I would once again bunk in. Arrangements were then made for flying visits to the Red Sucker, Gods Lake and Oxford House Reserves
Ilford-Riverton had a Cessna 185 on floats based at Garden Hill. The pilotís name was Jackie Berton, a local man ,perhaps aged 32 or 35. The Agency staff knew him well and used his aircraft many times each week for trips within the Agencyís geographic area, tis being the only means of summer inter community travel.
We ma de a trip to Red Sucker one day and to Gods and Oxford the next, returning each evening to the Agency at Garden Hill which was the planes base and refueling facilities. Red Sucker was about 5o miles northeast and while unmarked can be seen on the map. It was a small Reserve with not much there but scatted housing and a couple of school classrooms and resident teachers, likely a married couple. Population four to five hundred.
Gods Lake was about 50 miles straight north and consisted of two large lakes joined at what was known as Gods Lake Narrows, where Swain Sigfuson had his fly in fishing Lodge.The northeastern lake, by far the largest, stretches 60 to 70 miles further northeast and at near northern point is drained north by the Gods River, where there is located another small community. The Gods River then runs more or less straight north about 200 miles where it empties into the Hayes River ,which then flows into Hudsons Bay at York Landing. About half way up, the Gods it is joined by the Echoing River, d raining a large piece of northwestern Ontario. Located here is the Shamattawa Reserve which I was unable to visit until the following year 1970.
We picked up our resident Assistant Brian Eardley at Gods Lake and after a good look around at the community of about 1000, we continued on in the Cessna 185 to Oxford House. Brian was a former Bay manager who had joined the Branch after first spending time with them. Oxford House Reserve was located about a further 50 miles northwest of Gods Lake and had about 1000 residents, a basic school, Bay store and Nursing Station. This community had a strong historical significance as it was a main stop and trading post for the Hudson Bay Company for its York boats travelling to its Canadian outpost and headquarters at York Factory at the mouth of the Hayes River on Hudsons Bay, from Norway House at the top of Lake Winnipeg and from Lower Fort Garry near present d ay Winnipeg. The Hayes River rose at a height of land east of Norway House,then flowing northeast to Oxford House and after its junction with the Gods River on to York Factory on the Bay. Many years later I would regret that I had not been able to visit and see this place and the magnificent post building that the Bay had built there in the late seventeen hundreds for its headquarters for all of western Canada
YORK FACTORY HUDSON BAY CO. HQ AS RESTORED BY PARKS CANADA
After returning to Island Lake later in the day, I made arrangements with Cliff to travel to St. Theresa Point and Wasagamack the following day by boat with Norm Campbell, our maintenance Craftsman who had his boat set up with twin 90 HP outboards for safety reasons. This trip was particularly memorable because of the beautiful pristine nature of Is land Lake , the many islands, rocky outcrops and spruce tree covering. It was ten miles to S t Theresa, where about 700 people lived and another four to Wasagamack and another 400, and you h ad to know the route to avoid the frequent and dangerous shoals.
HEADING TO ST THERESA PT. IN AGENCY BOATWITH NORM -- ST THERESA POINT AND CATHOLIC CHURCH AND CONVENT (NUNS WERE SCHOOL TEACHERS)
THE AUTHOR AND S;TOON DESIGN ENGINEER WAYNE MAGRATH AT STEVENSON ISLAND SUMMER 1969 PHOTO BY KEN McCLELAND. WE WERE FOGGED IN OVER A WEEKEND.
Ttere were several more northern trips planned by the Author before the snow flew so to speak. The next on the schedule was to Norway House Agency where John Geisbrect was our Superintendent. This Agency served only two Reserves Norway House and Cross Lake, and had no other esident staff. Both communities were fairly advanced particularly Norway House where there were 50 metis living in adjacent Rossville and our 1500 Reserve people. Hank Mitchell was handling the housing construction from Winnipeg and the Provincial Frontier School Division operated the schools under a Joint scool agreement with the Branch.There were trades people available locally so no local maintenance people were needed. Norway House was the gateway to northern Manitoba and to Hudsons Bay and had served as such for almost 200 years.
The Indian Health Branch of the Federal Health Department had a large hospital here serving the entire north, they having a second one at Hodgeson in the interlake south of Peguis. Norway House was resupplid by during the summer by the Marine barge company operating on Lake Winnipeg. Northern Affairs under Johnny MacDonald was just starting to build an airstrip here, and the Branch was negotiating a greatly expanded joint school agreement with Frontier that would include some 20 miles of road to bus children to school. But for now the only air access was by amphibious aircraft and this time it was a Canso, vintage World War II PBY-5 Catalina flying boat ,as it was known to the Americans and used by them in the Pacific Theatre throughout the war.The RCFA also used them calling them the Canso.
Transair had converted several to passenger use . It was much larger than the Widgeon or Goose, had twin engines mounted on the wing above the aircrafts body. There were two pilots sitting high up front and maybe 20 seats down below in the large belly of the plane. In later years many of these aircraft were converted to water/fire retardant bombers for fire fighting.
CANSO AMPHIBIOUS AIRCRAFT(NOT TRANSAIRíS) SERVING NORWAY HOUSE IN 1969
The Author does not recall much about what happened during his visit except to be impressed by the general conditions here especially housing and overall appearance, likely due to long exposure to Southern civilization, the presence of the hospital and Provincial Government and a Residential School several decades prior. My main memory is of sitting in the belly of this seemingly giant aircraft, looking way up at the pilots in the cockpit as can be seen in the picture above and being amazed at how they were able to manoeuvre in to the dock after our water landing at Norway House. Later reality would result in us never doing a project here other than on-going housing, because in terms of need in more isolated communities and Provincial Frontier running the schools, it never rated as a priority. Another visit was made years later to inspect the new roads after the airstrip was completed.
Next up as a trip to Little Grand Rapids, a Reserve of about 700 people pretty well straight east of Bloodvein near the Ontario border. It was on a large but extremely irregular lake called Fishing Lake as can be seen by the map following. Public Works Canada was designing a school there for the Branch and it would be tendered this Fall nfor construction in 1970. We were involved with them on all these projects including site selection, maintenance implications etc. Hank went in with me again on this trip using Selkirk Air and also wanting to take a look at Paungassi, a satellite Reserve about 8 miles away from the main settlement area but also on Fishing Lake. W e kept the aircraft with us during the day, it making no economic sense to send it back and then return, given the distances involved.
This lake was absolutely in the real middle of the Precambrian Shied and there was literally rock everywhere, many of the houses actually built on it. Beautiful and pristine was an apt description from an outdoorsmanís perspective, but you really wouldnít want to live there, except on a camping trip.
MAP SHOWING LOATON OF BLOODVEIN AND LITTLE GRAND RAPIDS, EAST OF THE LAKE WINNIPEG NARROWS
THE BEST DAY OF THE REST OF MY LIFE
Finally, my hectic summer travel schedule eased and in mid August there was a week in the office where I could take stock, catch up with my correspondence and organize myself for the period ahead. A notice or something came around about a ball game get together one night at Assiniboine Park, or was it the Assiniboia Student Residence, I canít be sure. This seemed to be a weekly outing for staff of the Regional and Clandeboye offices, married or single,men and women. The Author was usually away travelling or didnít know anyone who was going so had never participated.
So I went and had a good time playing fun pick up ball with the group, not having had a glove on I think since my High School fastball days.There were both men and women there including two blondes from the Clandeboye office. One of them was Jackie, whom I had rode up the elevator with the day I started. She was a social work secretary and was seen around the office, including the coffee room sometimes, but disappeared during the winter, accepting a new job in the Clandeboye office.
After the game it was the custom to go to the St. James Hotel on Portage for a beer, so most of us headed there as did Jackie. We all had a few laughs and as I recall only a single beer and then it was time to all head home. Jackie was attracting my attention and I took a chance and asked her if she would like to go for a coffee somewhere. She Accepted and asked me to follow her in her dadís car as she drove home first. She was not a slow driver and the main thing remembered is going down Route 90 at a brisk pace and her peeling off rapidly to the right to head down to Dublin , then across to Notre Dame, me trying to stay close. We got to Bannytyne where she lived, stopped in front of her parents house and asked me to wait until she put the car in the garage at the back.
She came back quickly and we drove back to Notre Dame and to the A&W just before McPhillips which is probably still there today. We did not know anything about each other, but had the office and Indian Affairs in common so conversation was easy. She had a fairly outgoing, teasey personality and as you read about in books or see in the movies we just kind of clicked. She gave me her phone number, and in a couple of weeks went to the Happy Vineyard, a German restaurant on Ellice. It went from there, nobody at either office knowing we were dating except Jackieís friend Carol at Clandeboye. Early December was the annual Christmas party and of course it was a kind of coming out surprise for everyone .
CHANGE WAS A CONSTANT AT INDIAN AFFAIRS
Unlike PFRA where not much ever happened organizationally, Indian Affairs was just the opposite. A large National Department with eight large Regions and thousands of staff. This was made even more so in April 1968 with the election of the Trudeau Government and the appointment of Jean Chretien as Minister of Indian Affairs. Human Rights issue involving Black people were sweeping the U S and in Canada with Trudeauís Just Society, the attention was on Canadaís long under privileged people, our Indians. The Department was rapidly modernizing from a supervising approach to one of service and this leaped forward even more with Minister Chretien.
Then with the Author just settling in to his job came the unexpected tabling of the White Paper on Indian relations in Parliament in September, 1969. So much for my new job and career direction. The Department would be abolished in 5 years as would the Indian Act., all responsibilities transferred to the Provinces and Reserves privatized so to speak to I Indians and special status ended. The country was in shock, the Provinces completely blindsided, the Indians were enraged about the complete lack of consultation and our staff who would be impacted in a major way pretty well just shook our heads, kind of knowing that our roles as things currently existed, could simply not be changed very rapidly.
Our Departmental roles and services carried on normally as Indian outrage spread across the country, their Provincial associations were empowered, demonstrations began, the Opposition in Parliament opposed it all, and for the most par the Provinces said they werenít interested. So began a long period of consultation between the Trudeau Government and Indian Associations which went essentially nowhere.
The whole idea that the Federal Governments responsibility for Indians, first entrenched in the Royal Proclamation of 1763 by the British Parliament and subsequently enshrined in detail in the Indian Act of 1876, could be simply sloughed off to the Provinces was constitutionally and legally absurd@! Indian organizations like the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood under Dave Courchene and the Indian Association of Alberta under Harold Cardinal took the lead in talks that dragged on forever and were eventually abandoned years later. In the meantime the Department carried on, but now with the focus on improving the lives of Indians which fairly quickly brought new policies such as the closing of Residential schools, much more emphasis on building joint schools with Provincial Boards, greatly increased capital dollars for new and upgraded federal schools on Reserves and many more dollars for water and sanitation infrastructure and housing. Our work started to increase substantially as the Capital budgets grew. The fear of September of a short truncated career as Regional Engineer quickly disappeared and instead it soon became the place to be!
At the office change was also underway. Stan Knapp Superintendent of Community Affairs, who hired me, was gone, I think to Ottawa. He was a strange fit with Bob Connelly as I saw, Bob being such a people person, kind of gruff and a man of few words. You couldnít really see him dealing with Indian leaders and in terms of his infrastructure and housing program, and Community Planning which I was implementing, didnít seem to have much interest. He was replaced by Eddie Daggitt from the Clandeboye District who brought along John Yachucha as a program officer. So at last t there w s a full time person dedicated to planning and developments at the community level that t the Author could work with in terms of projects, budgets and community contact in terms of promotion, needs assessment etc. Eddie soon became me a close confidant of Bob Connelly and for me this four person input worked out perfect for me.
Later in the month the Author would head to Ottawa to attend a meeting with our Director of Engineering George Bowen and the seven of us Regional Engineers from across the country. Indian Affairs headquarters was located in the Centennial Building, right downtown and hats where we met.I t was a motley mix of different personalities, all working under different conditions and mandates depending on their Regional Director. Some had different government experience, some had been hired directly from the private sector. The were all much older than me mostly in their forties or even fifties. These Regional positions had only existed for a few years. Many old time managers at the District and Regional level didnít see why Engineers were required. The hiringís were directed from Ottawa and the mandates in each Region depended on the enlightenment of the Regional Director. Ottawa had tired of embarrassments similar to those described earlier regarding The Pas trailer Park and old folks Home These Regional Engineer jobs were not sought after , leading to what the Author said earlier about a motley collection of characters.
Much of the time at the meeting was spent in complaining how things were run in various Regions and what could be done to get more control or authority. The B C Region was the best with a longer history of building community infrastructure and more indolent of Engineers or Consultants. B C even had a few staff Engineers. Two other related topics included how we could go about getting the Department to undertake a study of the long term Engineering needs of the Indian Affairs Branch and how it should be organized given the anticipated growth in demands and budgets. At the same time we needed to be leery of the Department of Public Works who were keeping a close eye on us, that we didnít exceed the $250,000 project level which was the agreed cut-off for our project contracting authority.Another item was how to get the Branch to allow us to add Assistant Regional Engineers in the short term and how to get the required man-years. My conclusion after returning home was that we were in pretty good shape here in Manitoba given our relationship with managers and control of Major Capital Projects
Other changes in the summer/fall saw George Ross Superintendent of Eastern Education move to Region as Assistant Education Superintendent under John Slobodian where he would among other things be in charge of all Capital projects. Later that Fall we made an arrangement with G eorge that each Fall he would formally gather together and provide us with a list of all minor Capital projects they wanted for the next year. The value of these projects was rising substantially and they involved renovations and/or temporary classrooms often in isolated Reserves and we agreed we needed to provide some lead time, structure and organization to this budgeting and construction process. Hank Mitchell was assigned by the Author to project manage this program, start to finish.
Elsewhere at the Eastern Education office Paul Bisson was named a s Georgeís replacement and Bill Rees moved from High Level, Alberta to replace Eddie Daggitt as District Superintendent Clandeboye. My girlfriend Jackie Cewick was working at this office as Secretary to George Ross and now to Paul Bisson.
TRADGEDY AT ISLAND LAKE
In very early October Hank Mitchell and the Author planned a trip with Harvey Douglas whom I had hired in the summer as our new construction Supervisor at The Pas . This would take us to Iiford on the CN rail line, a major transfer point for winter freight, which was new to Harvey, and then on to Fox Lake just outside Gillam where a few houses were planned for a small Indian Band located there. My memory fails as to how we got to Ilford, but after checking out the logistical infrastructure regarding storage yards and rail/cat train, truck set-up, we boarded the train in the late evening heading for Gillam. This small town was a long time rail stop and now primarily a living area for Manitoba Hydro personnel and contractors working on the massive Kettle Rapids Dam on the Nelson River, which had gotten underway a year or so previous.
We spent the night on the train arriving in the morning then making the short trip to Fox Lake and going about our assessment. That evening we stayed at the Gillam Hotel and I looked up the name ofWalter Browdowski who left our Shellmouth crew in mid 1968 to accept a job with Manitoba Hydro at Gillam. The Author was successful in waggling a tour of the Kettle Rapids site and we spent an enjoyable hour or two especially for Hank and Harvey who had not experienced heavy construction before. Then before flying out in the afternoon we got word that a float plane with Indian Affairs personnel l we s missing at Island Lake, but we had no details.
Back in the office Friday it was learned that the missing plane was Jacky Bretonís Cessna 185 with Superintendent Cliff Dowson and an education Councillor Ed Flett in his twenties. The plane had left Gods Lake in the late afternoon, I believe on Thursday and never arrived back at its Island Lake base .There was no emergency call or any other alert. RCAF Search and Rescue, based in Winnipeg at that time were notified immediately and began a search. This was quite a shock because the Author had stayed at Cliffís house two or three times this past Spring and summer and ha d flown with Jacky Berton several times on that plane within the last few months
Frank Joyce was a former RCAF Fighter pilot having dropped out after jet training. The Search and Rescue people were using DC 3ís for their search efforts going up to Island Lake and searching as long as possible before returning to Winnipeg. Frank said that they were always short of Spotters so volunteers were welcome., Saturday morning I drove out to their Base at the airport and signed on as a Spotter for that days search trip. The planes fuselage was equipped with single seats every 4 or 5 feet next to or facing a window both sides. It took about a hour and a ha lf to get up to Island Lake . We had been briefed before leaving about how to search and what to look for. After getting to the search area we dropped to a lower altitude and flew around a bit looking for clear spots through the clouds, but in the end could find none
.I donít recall now how many spotters were on the plane with me, maybe 4 or 5. One remembers strange things in these circumstances, like how there was a curtain at the back of the plane and behind it a big pail to pee in if required . The whole trip took about four hours so I did use it.on the way back.
The search continued for perhaps a week or two and there was also local searching by boat to the extent possible. It was freeze up and conditions were difficult. It is impossible to know what happened or exactly where on the way from Gods the plane was when it went down. There were numerous small lakes, streams and plenty of swam between Gods and Island. Jacky was a very good pilot but as noted it was freeze up. On these short trips the pilot never flies that high, just enough to see landmarks for navigation and to provide a margin of safety for a catastrophic event. He could have been forced lower by a low ceiling, could have encountered icing, even sudden fog or cloud. I donít know whether or not he had an instrument rating, it seems unlikely.Regrettably the plane was never found, at least up to 1976 when the Author left Manitoba, and even in Saskatchewan till 1983 and then Alberta I believe would have heard or read had it been found.
Overall this was a sobering experience at the time, given that the Author was flying in these bush planes almost every week as were all Indian Affairs personnel. It was just something that came with the job, if you didnít like it you either put up with it or went somewhere else. As for me I was young, and loved the engineering and logistics elements and client/public service aspects of the job, the north, the adventure of it all and flying itself, so wasnít going anywhere.!
FILE PHOTO OF DC-3 AS FLOWN BY RCAF SEARCH AND RESCUE IN 1N 1969
FILE PHOTO ABOVE IS A CESSNA 185 ON FLOATS AS FLOWN BY JACKY BERTON AT TIME OF CRASH
INTO THE SEVENTIES
The rest of the year was uneventful except for Jackie and my coming out appearance at the annual Indian Affairs Christmas party. Much surprise , but would never have happened if we both werenít confident, trusting and serious! 1970 was Manitobaís centennial celebration, I was with the girl I wanted to some day marry, the Regional Engineer job was turning out excellent , with a suburb boss and good staff, and a management challenge that was unlimited.!
Next on the agenda was a long planned and much needed Construction Supervisors conference in Winnipeg at a downtown hotel. It was organized to let the technical staff get to know each other better and to review our housing plans and establish clea rer understanding and agreement of Regional versus District responsibilities, how to better support each other and work effectively with Thei District Superintendens. ONE NIGHT the Author had everyone over to my apartment for a few drinks and yak session
BACK: BOB LAUZE, AUTHOR, DOUG DOBBIE, HANK MITCHELL, LLOYD NERBAS, LLOYD JOHNSON, FRONT: ED YOUNG, UNKNOWN, HARVEY DOUGLAS
One of the major changes this Spring was that after many years of building the northern roads, Sigfusson had got to the point of improvement this year that he would be going to all truck utilization. This was a significant improvement because it meant that for all east side Lake Winnipeg communities, trucks could be loaded in Winnipeg and go straight through to the community without offloading to cat train sleighs where the ice road started just north of Winnipeg at Hole River. This also meant that we could organize and much better control shipments by combining many orders in a single truck. A t this point we hired a full time winter assistant, Tony to assist Hank and control and manage the semi-trailer trucks and orders.
Then in February it was once again time for a short vacation break. Tom and I had talked about one more trip and so this time we flew back to Miami and then over to the Bahamas for 4 or 5 days. Returning to Miami we rented a car and drove to Orlando and then to Cape Canaveral, before its re naming to Kennedy. We saw the huge square building where the moon rockets were readied, the Trans porter and the launching pad apparatus. This was a few years before the opening of Disney World, although it was probably under construction
During the same two week period that Tom and I were away Jackie flew to New Orleans with her friend Carol from her office. They saw the French Quarter and many other sites and sounds of this famous city before returning home.
Then it was April and Easter and it was time to move on with my personal life. Jackie and I got engaged and planned our wedding for late August. She had long since met my parents and on the Christmas just past I had spent the night at her parentsí house on Christmas eve, going to midnight mass with her family at their nearby parish church , coincidently named St. Patricksíí. Her father Tony was of Ukrainian extraction, his parents having moved to Rathwell after the turn of the century. . Her mother France was born in St Claude ,her parents having immigrated directly from France, again early in the century Jackie had two younger sisters Marilynn and Elaine
We met with Father McIsaac of St Patricks and secured a wedding date on August 29th. Shortly after we visited my brother Ted at his farm near Souris to introduce Jackie to him, his wife Louise and their family.
That summer was a very special one for us as we prepared for the wedding. On July 1ST We walked down to the Legislative building from my place and watched a spectacular firework display celebrating Manitobaís 100th birthday. The weather was suburb that summer, especially weekends. Every Sunday in July and August Jackie and I would head out to Grand Beach on Lake Winnipeg which had these spectacular sand dunes She would make some chicken and potato salad, I would pick her up and we would spend the day at the beach, returning in the late afternoon after a picnicking supper on the beach
Our wedding went off as planned, Brother John was my best man, old friend Ron Cartwright and nephew Pat Murphy as ushers.. Jackieís best friend Linda Mitchell was her maid of honour and sisters Marilynn and Elaine as bridesmaids. The day after the wedding we headed south in my car for our honeymoon. First to Minneapolis, then to Chicago, staying in Skokie and riding the train down to the Loop and viewing the city from the top of the John Hancock Center. Then into Indiana and a stop at South Bend to see Notre Dame University and its Grotto. From there we went to Cincinnati and Indianapolis ending up in Lexington Kentucky where we spent several days driving around looking at the country side and horse farms. We then went west to St Louis and made a sojourn up the St Louis Arch which had recently opened. Then back home through Iowa and North Dakota to Winnipeg.
We moved into my apartment for a few weeks before moving into the new apartment that we had rented in the brand new No 1 Evergreen Pl ace just a block away on -----Street. It was on the 25th floor overlooking the Assiniboine River with an excellent view of downtown Winnipeg.
JACKIE AND DON 27 august, 1970 ST PATRICKS CHURCH, WINNIPEG
Meanwhile it was also another busy construction season with plenty of travel. Visits were made with Harvey Douglas to Pukatawagan and Lac Brochet, the latter in the very far northeast and surprisingly a very sandy location. A trip was made also to Shamattawa, a fairly desolate barren community on the Gods River 100 miles north of Gods Lake and near the Ontario border. Education ha d a few classrooms there and there was a Bay Store, but not sure about a Nursing Station. Even then there were problems getting the kids to go to school and soon enough a gas sniffing problem would hit the headlines. It was a community of about 500 and aptly fit the old joke about not being the end of the earth, but you could see it from there! We never did anything there but housing and I never ha d any reason to make another visit.
Another thing comes to mind as I write this, is that in those days none of these isolated Reserves had RCMP officers stationed in them. Now there are detachments in every one. Most of these communities had some sort of alcohol control problem, either the community voted to be dry and some ignored it and there was no police or they voted WET and alcohol was abused. In some communities locals brewed alcohol from beans or potatoes or whatever they could get their hands on. The social problems, aided by little employment, welfare and lack of parenting skills and the slow loss of hunting and gathering skills, particularly among the children, made many of these communities difficult places to live. It was easy to fly in, do your business then fly out and not have to think about it, but is not something that you can totally forget either in terms of the despair that was in these places. There was some solace in the knowledge that your Engineering and construction job was a positive contribution , adding benefit to the communities in building housing, schools, water lines, roads docks etc.
This year we undertook a second community water supply line, again taking a backhoe into St Theresa Pt and doing an intake and pumphouse and an insulated polyethylene through the community with watering points at appropriate intervals.
That year the Author also made visits with Jim Wright Superintendent of Western Education District to the Dauphin and Pinecreek Residential schools. Also made a trip with Hank to Berens River and Poplar River, north of it on the east side of Lake Winnipeg. Berens had a landing strip and in population was pretty well divided between status Indians on the Reserve and Metis adjacent to it. It was a more modern place similar to Norway House where it had early contact and involvement with the fur trade, York boats and later steamships.Similar to Norway House we had a joint school agreement with Manitoba to run the schools. We would have taken a wheel plane to Berens and a locally based float plane to Poplar.
Visits were also made to Fort Alexander across the Winnipeg River from the town of Pine Falls, which was basically a Company town for the adjacent pulp mill. There was a lot going on at Fort Alex including an existing townsite and a Catholic run Res identical school. It was here that I first met and dealt with Phil Fontaine, Band Administer for the Band. Sometime this year of 1970 the Department made a decision and agreement of sorts with the Indian Associations to close all Residential schools as soon as possible and to accelerate the building of schools on Reserve This was basically a fallout of the Indian blowback from last yearís White Paper, but there was long standing grievances about forced removal of children from their homes and preventing them from using their own language at the schools. There was also continuing but unsubstantiated stories of physical, emotional and even sexual abuse by nuns and/or clergy at some of these schools.
The decision to build more schools on Reserves was a great boon for us as well as Public Works in terms of our work activity. Also late in the year Ottawa came through with funds and person-years for our Regions to hire Assistant Regional Engineers a t the Eng 3 level. We advertised the position and by early 1971 the Author hired Doug Holmes as my assistant, 3 o4r 4 years younger than the Author, had been working for the City of Winnipeg and had good experience in municipal services which is was exactly what we were looking for.
Another critical thing that was done this year was to establish a more formal relationship with the Saskatoon Design office to discuss and formally create a written protocol on the responsibities of each office on projects being undertaken for us. There seemed to be a bit of a laissezy fair relationship without policies, procedures timelines etc. resulting in ad hockery. John Hughes, head of that o0ffice came to Winnipeg and we worked out a form al agreement.
This established the Manitoba Region and my office as the Client on behalf of our Program Branch, and that we would formally request projects in writing with appropriate definitions , standards and timelines, and that final plans and specs were subject to our approval. Their office would accept projects as proposed, or we would negotiate agreement or they could advise they couldnít handle and we would be free to go to local consultants, as we would on projects where they had no capability
As we entered the new year our group was working well with the two Program branches to plan and develop timelines and costs for three or more years of future budgets and to get these to Ottawa to make our cases for funding. With the Residential schools now closing there was major school development to be done in the north We had to commence planning initiatives to coordinate water supplies and roads and sometimes sewage disposal to ensure that as school projects proceeded that the infrastructure was there Even more critical was that water and where possible sanitation services were made available to community residents , not just teachers from the south. This problem was made difficult because Education funds in their separate Vote could only be used for schools and teacherages.So When we built a water intake and pump house for the school we had to try and get much more stringently available dollars from the separate Water Vote for a line to serve the community. All of this in mostly isolated northern communities .
Between 1971 and 1974 we built through Public Works large 8-10 classroom schools with full sized gyms , full teacherage complexes ,water systems and mechanical sewage treatment plants in Nelson House, Split Lake, Gods Lake and Oxford House. Also a major renovation and addition designed by Saskatoon at Red Sucker Lake. Finally s two classroom addition, well and sewage field at York Landing which we designed ourselves.
In the south there was growing pressure for water and sewer services for housing groups on several Reserves. As an overall result of these pressures we were commissioning aerial interpretation studies on many northern Reserves with Jack Mollard, related to road, school site, and water system locations.
In regard to housing groupings on southern Reserves we were commissioning preliminary engineering studies with a number of local consultants, Templeton, M M Dillon, Wardrop, Reid Crowthers to name some. These consultants specialized in Municipal design and Doug Holmes took the lead on these initiatives.
Through all of our work we became expert at working with and within the Government Contracting Regulations which were a part of the Financial Administration Act. These allowed sole source construction contracting to $15,00 and 3 quotes beyond that. We had wider authority on Service contracts which we used for aerial interpretation and the Consultant contracts, soliciting quotes against terms of Reference , then a simple contract form. Our use of Saskatoon resources as now structured as described above, and wide use of the Dept. of Supply and Services (DSS) FOR Standing Offers or for specific purchases such as Insulated Polyethylene pipe or Mechanical Sewage Treatment Plants, gave us almost unlimited flexibility within my $50,000 signing authority to mount an extensive array of planning, design and day labour construction projects.
Below is a letter to the Prairie Provinces Engineering Office requesting design services, giving a good indication of project workload in January 1971
At the end of January there was another tragedy at one of our schools at Cross Lake although thank goodness no one was hurt. The geography of C ross Lake community spread out on both sides of the Nelson River and even then divided by streams or swamps resulted in Education having five schools of different sizes here, including the old Residential school which had been closed as a residence in the Fall of 1969.The largest school was 5 or 6 old building put together, and it burned to the ground in late January, creating an immediate crisis.
Education and my unit faced an immediate problem as to how to replace this facility ad we were both on the phone to Ottawa looking for assistance. I do not recall where the idea came from, our Region, Ottawa or Atco in Calgary, but within days we were working with Atco and Ottawa to get a portable school moved in over the winter road before the end of March. Atco had experience in building portable buildings and camps in Alberta and offered a turnkey service in remote areas to transport and erect their product We met with Atco to discuss a proposal they had put together, including Karl the head of purchasing from HQ. In this regard the Head of Material Management was part of our HQ Engineering unit, and was located there because of their responsibility for the Arctic resupply operation to our Northern Affairs Branch.This was the Branch of the Federal Government that managed communities and resources and transportation in the NWT before devolution to the Territorial Government.
The key to this initiative was for Ottawa Education to come up with the funds for this contract and for them to be satisfied that the proposal was practicable, sound and doable. This would be an emergency sole source purchase order for about $10K far beyond our Regional Directors authority. We had the local knowledge and experience regarding Cross Lake and its winter road access , so all around their was expertise. The project was approved, the purchase order/contract signed and we were in business. This meeting and sharing of our experience on winter roads and resupply was a fortuitous occurrence for the Author as will be seen a little later.
Soon it was March and our attention turned back to Cross Lake and the Atco school replacement. Education had made sure to get a couple of extra classrooms for expansion and with a library, home Ec and full washrooms it was a pretty large set up of 30 by about 10 foot modules to me moved by Atco. We had agreed to build two new teacher residences for their expansion and to provide a full water and sewage disposal system. We had experience with a water intake, wet well and polyethylene pipe at Nelson House the previous year and Ken McClelland would manage this again. He had been doing research on mechanical sewage treatment plants and we decided to experiment with one here. The plant was made of welded steel, about 20 feet long, 8 feet wide and 10-12 feet deep. This was ordered and shipped in by winter road from Wabowden on the CN rail line., as were the the Atco trailer module units. These units would be supported on timber block foundations, all supplied and erected by Atco who brought in equipment to manage transport and erection as well as site clearing and leveling.
We ha d another outfall to place underground and ice into the Nelson R iver downstream of our water intake. Ken had recruited an experienced water/sewer construction Superintendent to help him. Ernie was also an experienced amateur blaster, as there were was rock to get through for the intake and outfall. As before we brought in our backhoe contractor, another Ken that we had used at Nelson House . All and all with the Atco school, two residences and full water and sewer system, intake and treatment plant we had a pretty large and complex day labour project which would serve a s excel lent experience for years to come. Interestingly we didnít seem to require any Provincial approvals regarding the Nelson River intake and discharge, or maybe we did and just barged ahead being wholly on the Cross Lake Reserve.
THE MANITOBA PARTNERSHIP
During the last year, particularly since the White Paper, our Regional Director Bob Connelly and Dave Courchene, President of the Manitoba Brotherhood(MIB) and Daveís consultant/advisor Frank Price had been working on some type of plan to create a more devolved structure in terms of Band autonomy and less IAB oversight and control at the District and Agency level. Notwithstanding the foregoing, no one was aware of these discussions, and some time around mid March B ob Connelly called an evening get together with MIB people and all our mid level to senior staff in the Region at the Vis count Gort hotel on Route 90 near Port age Ave. I believe it was a dinner affair with presentations following
One of my main memories of the event is an incident that happened in Garth Crocketís room before the dinner started. Frank Joyce was there along with the Author with Garth and an Assistant Cal Slobodian who I believe was at Norway House at the time. All Assistant Indio Agents were there because they would be seriously affected by what was going to be announced. The four of us were sitting around having a drink and talking shop and at one point Garth and Cal got into a discussion/argument about trusting others relating to sensitivity of relationships with Indian people. Both men had taken the Sensitivity training course in Ottawa and were really into the trusting or not thing. Sitting opposite each other in chairs Crocket was raising his fist and threatening to poke Cal and asking if Cal believed he would or not. Cal said h wouldnít and Garth said yes he would. This went back and forth a few times and then suddenly Garth unleashes a mighty punch to Calís jaw. His chair goes over backwards, knocks over a lamp crashing to the floor and Cal is lying there pretty well knocked out. After checking to make sure Cal was OK Frank and the Author got out of there immediately. It was never known how it all concluded and who paid for the broken lamp!
Later at the meeting Bob Connelly and Dave Courchene explained the new Manitoba Partnership and that it had been approved for implementation by Ottawa . The meeting was about informing and involving staff and getting buy in. Basically, District Superintendents and their key Associate Superintendent would be abolished, as would most Assistant Indian Agent positions A certain number of Local Government Advisor (LGA)positions would be established at a high classification level, based on expertise and knowledge factors as opposed to the current structure, so supervisory oriented. I t would not apply in The Pas for the time being due to isolation factors. The current vacant Suprintendent positions in Island Lake and Norway House would remain vacant. Social Service, Economic Development and Engineering/construction/maintenance staff in Districts would report to Region.
The whole hierarchical bureaucratic structure overseeing the lives of Indians would in a single stroke be upended, effectively abolished ,and Band Councils required to take on much more active involvement and control of what was going on in their communities. The two District Education structure remained unchanged. For the Author it meant 7 or 8 more staff reporting to my unit and a much clearer enhanced role in overall infrastructure planning . This major change was not well received by all staff especially some Assistants whose jobs it threatened. Across the Country there was also dismay in some Regions, similarly as a threat in their future should this experiment succeed in Manitoba .
CONFLICT AND TAKING A STAND
Referring to the letter a couple of pages earlier respecting the Peguis townsite design an issue had arisen with the Saskatoon office.The project brief spelled out in detail that a subsurface investigation was to be done, given that suspect soil conditions were thought to exist. When the drawings arrived without this requirement the Author raised objections. This was particularly disappointing given the formalized protocol agreed to just last year on our role as client..
Following are partial copies of the resulting correspondence, which included reference to our agreed to protocol letter. The Authors point by point deficiency letter was four pages. Mr. Hugeís point by point rebuttal was six pages, never mentioning our 1970 protocol agreement. I do not recall exactly how this all ended, but we did add the soils data to the plans before tendering .In some ways this does look like a couple of bureaucrats arguing over turf, but the key here was quality service to the Indian client, which is what the Manitoba Partnership was all about..
The above described situation is a good example of how one can get into conflict when you least expect or want it when roles are not respected and professional engineering matters and liability re involved
A similar situation occurred just a few months later regarding a major study of how future Engineering services could be best provided to the Indian Affairs Branch undertaken by management consultant Urwick-Currie. Recall that in our National Engineering group meeting in 1969, such a study was proposed to support a request to Treasury Board for a greatly expanded organization for Engineering Services to handle the accelerated influx of funds and projects
The Report looked at two options (1) expanded Regional capability and increased staff and classification levels , and(2) greatly expanded Ottawa headquarters and Prairie Provinces Saskatoon offices. My Regional Director Bob Connelly asked me for my comments and I provided him with a letter with my arguments for the Regional option. It was in Regional offices where the Program managers were in each Province and this was where the Indian Bands dealt. To establish large engineering capability away from these locations, not only created needless communication problems, but put us in potential conflict with Public Works who had large design operations in each Provincial Capital and were already doing all our large schools. Setting up more engineering capability separated from the Indian client would contradict our main argument, and be a difficult sell at Treasury Board who were likely to just say give the work to Public Works.
Bob Connelly sent my letter to Ottawa, along with his own support for the Regional option which did the Author no favour with Director George Bowen. Who was not similarly disposed! Career limiting, maybe!
Late that year an initiative was taken regarding the function and management of our winter freight resupply operation. We expanded the position to take coordinating responsibility for all Regional winter and summer barge resupply as well as purchase and other construction tender contracting and liaison with DSS and Regional and District program m managers. I took advantage of an offer Karl our national materials management chief had made and with his help in finessing the job description we were able to get a PG4 level .The idea was to do a major upgrade of our purchasing from theCR4 level of Lloyd Nerbus who was doing half the job and Hank the other half. Lloyd ha d just transferred to Brandon and we were successful in recruiting a well experienced Material Management person Ivan Galvin who had a DND background. This was a huge coup for us and a National first. With Doug and Ivan on board we were becoming much more robust, able to provide much better service and response to our Regional and District managers!
1972 began on a nice note with Jackie and I moving into our new house at 31 Emory Road in Fort Richmond, which we had bought in September. We commuted by car, me dropping her off at her Garry Street office before heading to mine.
At the office we were gearing up for a big winter freighting year with our new material management manager Ivan Galvin settled in. Over the past six months and going forward the Author had developed a growing friendship and rapport with Frank Price, advisor to Dave Courchene, confident of Bob Connelly. Frank was a partner in the firm Price &Balcoan, who had done a recreational planning study at the Buffalo Point Reserve during the flurry of community planning studies mentioned much earlier just before I joined the Branch.. Frank was the conceptual brains behind the Manitoba Partnership and at that time I was becoming very interested in Local Indian or municipal type government. How we ended up getting together on this subject long since escapes me, but we spent several good jawing sessions over drinks over a period of a year or so including one where he invited me back to his home at night to continue our discussion and listen to his state of the art stereo system.
This association along with my interest in local government led to my inclusion in an unofficial believers group a t the office involving Bob Connelly our boss, his EA Jerry Kelly and Eddie Daggitt. As an illustration of this Jerry Kelly, a former priest and a bachelor invited a number of people for Christmas drinks and a view of the city from his 40th floor apartment in mid December. Jackie and I walked over from our nearby apartment joining Bob and his wife, the Daggitts, Dave Courchene and Art Carriere, another former priest, former Branch employee and now a MIB advisor.
Later that Spring we would again take our backhoe contractor, some living trailors and shipments of insulated polyethylene pipe into Garden Hill at Island lake where we would for the third northern community, put in a water line and watering points.
That summer the Saskatoon office undertook a road mapping and classification study and report on all our southern Reserves, a very valuable and important information to have. Our national once a year Engineering meetings continued. In addition this year the Department initiated a three day management training seminar for all senior staff at a Quebec ski hill resort Mount Gabrial. Motivated by that in the Fall the Author enrolled in a 4 year management training course for government emplyees( all 3 levels) at the University of Manitoba. Monday nights for 3 hours September to April. The course would give me the equivalent to an undergraduate degree in Business Administration.
That Spring, Bob Connelly and the Author met Johnny McDonald at his office in the Legislative Building to discuss a number of northern projects and issues. The Author wanted to stop putting a single dozer and scraper into communities in the winter to piddle away at shared cost road projects the next summer. This was proving inefficient from a dragged out project and community planning perspecctive.
We agreed to concentrate on just one or two communities at a time , although Johnny liked the Provincial politics of spreading money around. We also discussed the road network being built at Norway House as part of the Joint School expansion with Frontier, and the simultaneous construction of the airport and Educations concerns about who was paying for what. Johnny candidly admitted that he would have the equipment spread work on the roads in the morning, a largely IAB cost project, then send them to the airstrip in the afternoon , a Provincial cost responsibility, but not change where the costs were charged ,ie. the roads! Bob did not react! There was only so much money available to spend in Norway House and the community was 85% Indian vs Metis and benefit accordingly. Finally we discussed the pro[posed building of a suspension footbridge at the narrowing of the Nelson River a t Cross Lake near the now closed Residential school. Johnny wanted us to cos t share and to knock down the old school and use the stones for protective riprap for the bridge. We agreed.
CONSTANT CHANGE THE REALITY NOW
Just when the Region and staff were getting used to operating in the new advisory/service structure and LGAís appointed , came another thunderbolt,. Bob Connelly was leaving and going to Ottawa.He got along well with the new Program ADM who was bilingual and it seems he wanted Bob in Ottawa to promote his Indian self government ideas nationally. He pushed aside the national Director of Community Affairs, a Mr McKillip giving the position to Bob.. The surprise to me was that Bob would leave so soon after his Manitoba Partnership plan to make sure that over two or three years at least that it was success fully implemented. There was a big farewell luncheon for him in July with many Federal and Provincial colleagues attending, and then he was gone.
That summer was a busy one for Jackie a and I as we ha d our first child born on A august 21st a daughter whom we named Stephanie
We were very busy with a heavy workload going into the Fall. The Branch made a surprise appointment to the Regional Director position, Bill Thomas, an Indian Educator originally from Peguis in the interlake but working in Alberta. It was the first of a number of Indian Directors appointed at the time including Harold Cardinal in Alberta who was the President of the Indian Association of Alberta fighting the White Paper. These were good examples of where the Department and Branch were going at the time as it literally grasped at straws to innovate and meet Indian demands. Bill was a congenial enough guy, but didnít seem much interested in consulting or meeting with staff. It was quite unclear what his management style and priorities would be and he had no experience outside Education or knowledge of Manitoba Indians nor the north.
As we moved into late Fall and early w inter the Author had several changes underway including the hiring of two new Technical Officers to deal with our growing work program.
Also hired Gunnar Peterson an experienced Construction Superintendent to help with winter freight loading and manage a large day labour job at York Landing next year. We also moved our Engineering offices down to the second floor to greatly expanded space which we badly needed. In the winter we hired an architectural technologist, Ted Bosack to redesign and update our housing plans and specs and to do plans for our York Landing school two room school addition.
A SLOW END TO A ONCE-IN ĖA-LIFETIME WORK EXPERIENCE
That early winter there was a sombre unsettled feeling around the office with new Director Bill Thomas settling in. He was not much for sharing ,meeting or listening to staff or for that matter asking for biefings on issues. He had no program background other than Education ,the school program basically ran itself. All the action and issues were in Community Affairs and Economic Development He had no Federal connections or contacts in Manitoba, none with the Province, didnít really know the Indian Bands or the MIB. In many ways it was unfair for the Branch to have put him there without more of a Manitoba or Program background. Still if there were no issues there was no problem as things went along. But change was happening and with the elimination of District Managers and now an Indian Regional Director with no previous knowledge of past issues, Band chiefs started making the trek to Winnipeg for private meeting. With the new Schreyer Government in place ,the MIB also gained influence there.
Then in December of 1972 the Manitoba Government under leader Ed Schreyer,elected in 1969 and influenced by a relatively new Minister from The Pas, Ron McBride decided under pressure from the MIB that they would dramatically change how the northern road system would be run. They eliminated the winter road land use permit system thus hanging Sigfusson out to dry, and awarded a contract to build the roads to a new Indian corporate entity of the MIB. The MIB then created a second corporation in effect in name only, hiring Gardwine Transport to do the actual trucking. We were appalled at this blatant political move, particularly regarding the building of winter ice roads of which the MIB knew nothing. Without a single contact in the Manitoba Government, Bill Thomas was rendered mute and as an Indian with no personal knowledge of winter freighting couldnít/wouldnít point out the MIBís lack of qualifications or capability,. Yet the whole system was there about 99 percent to serve Indian Reserves and Indian Affairs and Indian Health and there was no consultation whatever.
Below is a letter dated January 2nd 1973 which shows the state of affairs at the time focusing on the recently awarded Oxford House school contract. To the best of my knowledge Bill Thomas made not a single intervention initiative on behalf of the Department on this matter. As per the top of page 2 below He could not even attend the meeting with Premier Schreyer on December 14, sending Eddie Daggitt and myself with no authority to take a position.
Then a couple of weeks later as we see in paragraph 3 page 2 he refuses to take my advice regarding getting a road built to Oxford House, instead advising that he will contact Dave Courchene! End of story! Bizaar! You could see who was running things.
PAGE 1 OF THE AUTHORS LETTER OF JANUARY 2, 1973 TO BILL THOMAS ON WINTER FREIGHT ROAD TO OXFORD HOUSE
PAGE 2 OF AUTHORS LETTER OF JANUARY 2,1973. NOTE PARAGRAPHS 1 AND 3
The anticipated disaster unfolded from there. The east side roads were never completed. About mid February Swain Sigfusson asked me to meet him for lunch at Rae and Jerryís to discuss what was going on. He was a very fine businessman and gentleman, seriously hurt by what was going on. I told him what I could without breaking confidential ethics and that it was basically NDP Government and Indian politics and my concerns, but that my influence on the Regional Director Thomas was zero.
About the first week in March Bill Thomas asked me to accompany Minister McBride and the head of GardwineTransport George on a so called inspection flight to Garden Hill up over the east side roads. We departed on Saturday morning from the Provincial Government hanger at the Winnipeg airport. They had a MU-2 twin engine turbo prop with seating configuration like a restaurant booth. McBride sat on the aisle with George beside him. The Author sat opposite in the window seat. Shortly after take-off George pulls out a flask and offers to both of us.. The Minister takes a small amount in a glass, I decline We are fairly high up, canít see much below, for sure there are no trucks traveling below. Neither men have any interest watching out the window below. They talk, looks cozy but never to me
We land at the recently completed airstrip on Stevenson Island at Garden Hill ,on Stevenson Island Johnny MacDonalds project now operational. We walk around a bit, the Minister talks to a few people. After an hour or two we take-off again and fly back to Winnipeg, a complete and total waste of time, but McBride probably got some publicity for his "concern", as the road fiasco was a big public issue!.
No roads were ever completed and we had to get space at the DND compound in Winnipeg to store all our purchased housing and other items. Somehow the Oxford House school contractor was able to get most of his materials in, likely with Sigfussonís help. There is no recollection of me talking to Johnny MacDonald my A DM friend at Northern Affairs. I know he wasnít involved in this because the Deputy Wallace was handling everything. Johnny may have been moved out of there by then. Also around this same time George Bowen our National Director of Technical services transferred or was promoted over to Public Works. He was kind of a mentor guy for me ,who had supervised me functionally for nearly 4 years and who was copied on my key letters to Thomas. Not a comfortable feeling for ne , he being replaced by an outsider to Indian Affairs, Bill McKim whom I donít think I ever met.
After that the Indian leaders kept coming so to speak. Next up was For t Alexander who wanted their north shoe access road rebuilt and paved Doug v Holmes and the Author met with now Chief Phil Fontaine. At Ft Alex on March 8th where he advised that he would not accept anything less than a paved road. Our investigation showed that the road was badly rutted due to a lack of regular grading because the B and wasnít paying their Provincial Highway bills. Finally , ast fall the Premier intervened after Ft Alex complained there. Highways advised that paving would cost 400,000, that the road base was good, only needing regular r maintenance. THE Author advised Thomas in a memo March 16th of what t was really going on here. Not sure how it went between Thomas and Fontaine, but we didnít have this kind of money in Roads for the whole Region and no paving was ever done.
Next came Sandy B ay who wanted their access road paved. M y investigation and meeting with Chief Howard Star led to the reality that here again the Band was not paying Provincial Highways bills resulting in a 1971 bus drivers strike and rutted roads in 1972 and again this Spring. Again the base was good according to our 1972 road classification study. In my April 27 report to Thomas the Author made this all clear and could not support or justify paving. It ended with that.
Till now the relationship between Bill Thomas in spite of the fact he would often not accept my advice,was professional and respectful,. But this took a sour turn regarding a situation at the Fort Alex Reserve. He and I attended a Band Council meeting on April 6 th to discuss water contamination regarding the schools water supply. The Band made several charges regarding the adequacy of our facilities and our oversight. A doctor from nearby Pine Falls made several incorrect statements/charges setting himself up as knowledgeable about water treatment and sewage disposal which he wasnít. Bill Thomas prevented me from addressing these matters and correcting the doctor. After returning and on April 10th the Author wrote to Mr Thomas, criticizing him for not letting me speak and advising that my professional reputation may have been damaged and that I was considering making a complaint to the Manitoba Medical Association and the Professional Engineers Association over the doctors statements. Also, that in any similar future situation I would be speaking up without hesitation. Below is a portion of the letter
Things went downhill from there. On May 11 the Author asked him in writing to convene a meeting with the MIB freight contractor corporation, ourselves and DSS to discuss and agree on what had been moved to where, if anything, so we could take action moving the large amount of materials at the DND compound. With all the confusion over the winter roads,would they be finished and to what quality, the MIB/Gardwine Corp. had an inside edge and had won the DSS contract. That meeting was held May 24th . Basically almost t nothing had been moved.The Author and George Torpey Director of DSS considered the freight contracts to be in default. Torpey advised that they would not be amended to provide for the MIB Corp to move the freight by air. I t was assumed by the Author that we would have DSS call new tenders for moving the freight to various communities by air.
A few days later out of the blue Bill Thomas orders Eddie Daggitt to authorize the MIB Corp to fly all the material at our cost to all the communities. Eddie Daggitt was a good work friend and colleague but he and Jerry Kelly, Thomasís EA still, had been reduced to foot soldiers carrying out orders both totally vulnerable to instant transfers somewhere! The Author was quite upset with this and dated June 4th wrote Thomas disassociating himself and Ivan Galvin from this action in terms of its legality under the contract regulations. In turn Thomas s wrote me a long letter to me dated June 20 admonishing me for not being a good team member. Copies by both of us to McKim in Ottawa.
His letter was fairly lengthy and in re reading it now, to give him some credit was actually quite good in the sense of its emphasis on teamwork and accepting the decisions of superiors after receiving your input. No mention of the immorality, potential illegality and complete lack of rational or pre discussion or how it was communicated!.The Author has copies of those letters but nothing is accomplished by including them here. Nothing more happened between us on this matter and work went on. We handed over the freight to the MIB Corporation and Ivan and the Author stayed out of the way.
The Author realized at that point that he could no longer work for this man and that these battles with the copies to Ottawa were putting me in a dangerous situation with a functional supervisor that didnít know me at all and the likelihood of misunderstanding or miss interpretation of what was happening in the Region vis Bill Thomas. The Author concluded at the time that Bill Thomas would sooner or later have to be fired, but that was unlikely to be soon. People were leaving or transferring out and morale in the Region was at a low ebb.
Consequently the Author immediately started looking in the Winnipeg Free Press and Globe and Mail for job opportunities and answered two ads almost right away. The first was for a Manager to head up the Mission B C MUNIPALITIES Engineering Division. A reply was received, but no interview
The second was for an Executive Director for an Engineering Group being set up in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan for a new Department being set up by Allan Blakeneyís new Government to handle all services to Northern Saskatchewan. It was in effect a mini Indian Affairs ,but provincial and primarily relating to Metis settlements and their people. The new Deputy Minister was Wilf Churchman who had been an Associate Deputy with Indian Affairs and whom I had met during a Regional visit last year.
This was a Saskatchewan Public Service position and the Author was invited for an interview to Regina. They sent me an airline ticket and I met Mr. Churchman in his office at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building. I t was an odd kind of interview in some ways as we sat in his office and he asked me questions as he kind of went about other work with telephone call and interruptions. It wasnít possible to get much of a feel for the job, mainly because it didnít exist yet or even been clearly defined and he wasnít an Engineer so couldnít answer much. A couple of weeks later a letter was received saying that I didnít get the job.
Meanwhile it was now summer and while my job search continued we had a busy year ahead particularly in the north, which I loved and would get me out of the office and away from frustrations with Mr Thomas. First up was a trip to Pukatawagan, where the Saskatoon Road guys were laying out a road right of way for clearing and later construction. Pukatawagan was completely isolated except had access about six miles away to the CN main line north..A float plane was chartered from The Pas and the Author met the Surveyors there ,who had gone in earlier. One of my strange recollections of that visit was that a number of young Indian men were wearing T-shirts that had University of Pukatawagan on the front and on the back they had PUK U. Also that summer we hired a 3rd year Engineering student Darryl Danyluk to work with Doug Holmes on his Municipal, water, sewer projects.
In late July Cece Smith, Northern coordinator for the east side for Johnny MacDonald wanted to take a tour of some communities with Manitoba Hydro to look at facilities in Oxford, Gods Lake and Gods River. The Author had dealt with Cece regularly over the years, so flew to Thompson for a n overnight stay before starting out the next morning. Manitoba Hydro had a Turbo Beaver at Thompson at the water base and their Engineering Manager, Ed Tomofachuk joined us to provide our transportation with this plane. We landed first at Oxford House, looking at the Diesel installation that our Department had contracted for, took a look at our school under construction, which was just getting underway after last winters freight fiasco and also had a god inspection of the road that we and northern Affairs were building there that summer.
We moved on to Gods Lake and h Narrows in the afternoon, flying conditions were excellent with calm waters in both locations with just enough breeze to facilitate takeoffs. The Turbo Beaver was a powerful machine, a little bigger than n its piston forbearer. After a good look around at Gods we ate supper and spent the night at fishing Lodge that Cece had arranged for. Ed, the Pilot and I slept in one room and Cece in an adjacent building. About 6.30 or 7 in the morning Cece suddenly burst through the door shouting" drop yourc___s and grab your socks." Somethings just stick in your mind forever!
After a hearty breakfast we took off for Gods River. As we are coming in to land there were Indians on the shore waving there arms at us, which we find out later was to warn us that there were subsurface rocks in the area we were going to land in. However we had no problems and after spending time there looking at the Diesel set up we took off and headed back to Thompson Gods River was a very small community, only about a hundred people and we never really did anything there, maybe a couple of houses a year and maintain a two room school. The Author didnít know it then, but this would be the last time he was ever in these three places, perhaps thatís why my memory is so clear on the trip.
Then it was mid August and a trip to Split Lake that the Author will never forget, partially because of a stupid decision made along the way, but mostly for the scare it generated. It began with a discussion with Jim Wright, District Manager of Western Education, office in Dauphin, where we agreed to accompany him on a trip to Split Lake to look at the just completed school built for us by Public Works, then on to York Landing on the other south side of the lake to inspect a two room plus residence plus sewage field that we were doing by day labour. Our site Superintendent was Gunnar Peterson.
Accompanied by Hank Mitchell, my man in charge of minor education projects the three of us chartered in from Thompson on a Lambair float plane in the morning leaving instructions with their office and later the pilot to return in mid afternoon to take us over to York Landing where we would bunk in for the night. After completing our work there we walked down to the dock to wait for the plane, but time went by and it never showed up. We tried to contact Lambair by radio without success and had pretty well decided to bunk in one of the teacherages for the night. Then Jim who was a very impatient person roused out the school janitor and convinced him to take us across the lake to York Landing using the school boat.
This never would of happened except for Jimís impatient nature, but we loaded up our sleeping bags into the boat, about a 16 foot outboard, with I think two cans of gas and took off. The lake was a bit choppy but didnít look that bad at first, but as we got into more open area of this very large lake the water got rougher with small whitecaps and it became clear that this would be a white knuckle trip. We had no life vests and while there was room for the four of us ,two front, two back, the boat was well loaded ,with not that much freeboard above the water. Our driver had to keep circling back and forth and in more than one direction in order to keep the boat into the waves and to try and stay as much as possible in the lee of islands that he kept moving around to avid open water stretches. and from being swamped from the side .It seems that we were always turning which we were going no more than 5 or 10 miles an hour, with now no option but to keep going. It was a very scary trip as you get that fear feeling in the pit of your stomach regularly during dicey moments as our driver tries a different direction or turns to better position the boat. There was never an actual storm as such, just constant wind. He was of course a local man experienced with boats and the lake and we eventually got there after 5 hours in what normally would be a crossing of 30 miles in 1 and1/2 hours. Gunnar said that when he saw the boat as we neared his location that he couldnít believe it was us crossing in that kind of weather.
We got there about 9.30 p.m., no problem with light being summer and so far north. Gunnar made us some hot food and we had a good look at progress the next day. Gunnar was an excellent supervisor and organizer and our client Jim was happy. We had made sure that we had a good single side band radio at the job and were able to contact Lambair regarding our plane which picked us up in the afternoon and back to Thompson for a Transair flight to Winnipeg.
BOAT TRIP SPLIT LAKE-YORK LANDING SHOWN IN RED
The remainder of the year was generally uneventful with the exception of the idea coming from several quarters including our Region to try and maximize employment and training opportunities by building our large schools by day labour. These schools as we have seen earlier were now being built under contract by Public Works with only a minimal local employment and training benefit. This idea gained quite a bit of traction both in Ottawa Education and Engineering and in the Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta Regions where very large outlays were being made on new schools on Reserves.
We had two large schools under design right now at St Theresa Pt and nearby Wasagamack and we had some hopes that this could be taken up by our Manitoba Engineering unit. Unfortunately that was not to be as Public Works Canada made a major proposal at a high level to set up bat special Project team on the Parries to manage the process, establish deputies in each Province, and use their mandate authority to hire tradesmen and supervisors at going Provincial rates, an absolute critical need. Public Works was basically protecting its mandate and if it came down to an inter Departmental fight we had no chance of winning with Treasury Board.
Then, kind of out of the blue a family tragedy occurred when Dad suddenly passed away on New years eve. He had been losing weight over the last little while and not looking that healthy, but there didnít seem to be any known problem although for many years he had anti acid type stomach problems and wa s always taking milk of magnesia for that. He may have had a couple of mini strokes but I have no memory of knowing that at the time but mother must have. He was taken to the hospital earlier that evening and had a heart attack in the hospital that he did not survive. He had not had a previous heart attack.
The funeral was held from St Maryís Cathedral where they had been going. Mother and dad had purchased a plot at the Glenlawn Cemetery at Souris and Ted looked after the other arrangements at that end. John and his family came in from Edmonton where they were now living and Dorothy from Vancouver. After the funeral mass at St Maryís we all travelled to Souris for the burial in the afternoon.
DAD AND MOMS GRAVE STONE GLENLAWN CEMETERY SOURIS, MANITOBA
Sometime in late January of 1976 the Auther flew to Edmonton and took a train to Jasper to attend an Alberta technical seminar that newly appointed Regiona l Engineer Stan Kolomijec had initiated. I AHe h ad taken over from Les Clarkewho went to the recently established new Parks Regon in Winipegt was held at the old Palisades an old Parks Canada conference centre just outside the Jasper townsite. It was incredibly cold, the train was stopping frequently to out thaw itself and the old centre was not properly winterized. The s leeping building were separated from the eating and conference atrea.Overall a memorable but not pleasant experience.
Meanwhile as of very late January, the Province was continuing its last years approach to building winter roads again giving the contract to the MIB again. As can be seen from the memo below the whole fiasco from last year looked like it was going to be repeated
MEMO TO BILL THOMAS FEB 8, 1974 DESCRIBING RESULTS OF WINTER ROAD INSPECTION TRIP
Fortunately a second disastrous year was averted when the Province took more aggressive action to intervene, the matter being raised regularly in the Manitoba Legislature. Luckily also we got several weeks of cold weather in March which extended the use of the roads considerably.
Another positive benefit of last yearís freighting problem with the MIB/Gardwine outfit is that it discontinued and Pauls Hauling won the DSS freight contract now that the road ownership responsibility was clearly established with the Province.
In the week prior to our winter road inspection trip, Derm Dumphy Manager of Design and Construction for Public Works Western Region headquartered in Edmonton and to which the Winnipeg office reported ,arranged a meeting with George Ross and the Author in our Winnipeg office. George was now the Regional head of our Education program a after John Slobodianís retirement. Derm Dumphy brought a Earl Bauckman with him ,who they were moving from Halifax and promoting to the En 6 level to head up the Prairie day labour Schools Program. We spent a couple of hours discussing our needs regarding hiring and training, sharing our experiences and listening to their implementation plan
They had already hired an experienced Material management director, Ralph and started ordering material for the schools at St Theresa Pt and Wasagamach using a Quantity Survey firm in Winnipeg, Hanscomb and Roy. Clyde Lennerton, who had been part of our winter road inspection team had been assigned as technical officer on the project. The recruitment of a Deputy Project Manager for Winnipeg reporting to Earl Bauckman was pending. The Author knew Clyde from previous Public Works jobs done for us and also Stan Pupek, Architect in charge of these two essentially identical school building being designed in-house. . The meeting went well and a good professional working relationship was established.
Then the unexpected happened.! The week after the winter road inspection trip the Author received a call from Earl Bauckman in Edmonton, enquiring whether I would be interested in the Deputy Project manager job in Winnipeg reporting to him. He had been surprised to learn that my job was only at the Eng 4 lev el and my experience made me an ideal candidate. The new position would be established as a 5 year term initially then converted to full time. As unexpected as this was it came at the perfect time for me , what w with my problems with Bill Thomas, the new technical head in Ottawa who didnít know me, my opposition to the Urwick -Kirby recommendations and the pending reclassification of my position for which I would have to compete!
The Author realized that in some ways this position was less responsibility than I currently had, but we were looking at 6 or 7 schools over the next few years, I would have design responsibilities as well, and report to Edmonton, being my own boss. For the last 5 and1/2 years I had done it all and learned much, but with a deteriating situation here the opportunity for more was no longer there. It was time to move on, consolidate my experience in more design and construction. The opportunity to set up and build a construction unit from scratch was an extremely exciting and challenging one. Below is a copy of the offer
LETTER OF OFFER. THERE WERE NO APPEALS.
My reporting date to Public Works was April 22nd. On my last day a farewell coffee/cake session was held at a nearby hall. Unfortunately not much can be recalled about it, even forgetting what my departing gift/memento was.
A fortunate circumstance of this change was that Frank Joyce head of Personnel who had hired me, had moved last t year to Public Works Edmonton as their head of HR so my transition was eased in this regard, Frank and the Author becoming good friends at IAB during his tenure.
Bob Connelly lasted less than 2 years in his Ottawa position. The ADM changed and put the man Bob replaced back in
The Manitoba Partnership continued for many yea rs, but was never emulated in any other Region, some opting instead to withdraw into Super Districts to make room for Indian Governments
A few months after my departure Eddie Daggitt transferred to the Yukon as Regional Director
One year after my departure from Indian Affairs Bill Thomas was fired as Regional Director, Manitoba
Approximately three years after my leaving Garth Crocket committed suicide in the basement of his home in The Pas
One year after leaving, the Regional Engineering position and organization was upgraded as the Author recommended and the Saskatoon Prairie Engineering office closed
My Assistant Doug Holmes acted as Regional Engineer for a year but did not get the upgraded position, then resigning and returning to work for the City of Winnipeg.
LESSON LEARNED: There were many, some personal, some more organic. I absolutely loved management and the challenges associated with it. Building a team, developing them, delegating responsibility and trusting on results. Working for and with clients, again building trust and rapport. Learning sensitivity when dealing with Indian leaders, how to negotiate and compromise to solve problems.All aspects of planning and organizing in terms of future events, allocating manpower and resource s. Perhaps the greatest love of all was that of innovating and creating, experimenting and managed risk taking.
Organically so to speak, major insights were gained into how best to manage, control and survive in organizational politics, local and headquarters, client wise and with regard to personal, ethical and moral issuesí For instance if a do over was possible I would not send copies of my dispute/challenge letters to Bill Thomas to headquarters, leaving us to work out our differences. There was only silence from HQ anyway when I was looking for ethical support.
CONCLUSION: This period was the most learning and growth of my career, juxtapositioned by the job itself, my age and the incredible need for engineering services and management . It was for the most part pure adventure, sparked by the northern visuals of rock, spruce trees and water, isolation, ice roads and float plane only access. And add in a team of dedicated clients, engineers, technical officers, construction, material and support staff whose attitude was to "get it done" .
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS (DPW)
So here I was ,aged 34, twelve years into my Engineering career starting my third job with my third Federal Department, having risen from the Eng I level to now Eng 5. The whole thing seemed a little unreal as the Author walked into the Federal Building at Main and Water in Winnipeg, just as had been done almost exactly 12 years ago less 15 days!.The same doors, the same lobby, the same elevators. But it was now April 22nd 1974 and even though huge experiences and changes had taken place, including marriage and fatherhood there was this strange weird feeling of dťjŗ vu! Was I really getting anywhere or just constantly starting over like in some demonic dream!
Then I arrived at the 3rd floor Personnel office, met Barbara Murphy (crazy name coincidence) and got signed up so to speak and a new reality began for me as new people were met, new circumstances were dealt with and the new work started.
Our office space was being renovated in an old old Federal building across the street from the Grain Exchange Building, the one with the muffin top and for a few weeks we would be in a large room crammed with desks on the fifth floor. Thatís where I headed next, Clyde ennerton was there along with our Material Management officer Freeman Fjeldstead who Clyde and Ralph from Edmonton had hired along with two clerks Kathy and Gert. I had negotiated well with Earl Bauckman that we would have our own senior Purchasing officer independent of the regular DPW staff, deal directly with DSS on all purchasing and process all our own paper and goods received documents and cost accounting, leaving only actual payment to DPW finance staff
The Author had major input to the job descriptions and obtained the same levels the Author had at Indian Affairs allowing us to hire excellent people all.. We agreed to tender our construction contracts through the DPW contracts section where the head officer was a colleague enrolled and attending the 4 year management course at the U of M that I was and who was already known to me. Later that day I met and reviewed our operation with Roy, head of DPW Finance Winnipeg and how we would work together.
St Theresa Pt and Wasagamach were both located on the east side of Island Lake, the latter about 5 miles north of St Theresa Pt. This Band had about 1000-1200 residents and Wasagamach about 600. The two schools were being designed in-house by DPWíS Winnipeg office and were essentially identical except Wasagamach had several fewer classrooms. The buildings were about 25 thousand square feet, with full sized gyms and ancillary rooms such as library, home etc., science etc. The project included several fourplex teacherages and full water and sewage disposal systems including wet wells and water intakes and mechanical treatment plants and outfalls and large fuel oil tank farms.
Clyde Lennerton my Technical officer was about 50, had worked in the construction industry for many years as a supervisor. He had then joined Indian Affairs in Winnipeg and was their main construction Supervisor until eventually leaving to Public Works. His position at Indian Affairs was filled by Hank Mitchell who was of course my main Construction Supervisor when the Author joined the IAB some 6 years ago. So Clyde and I were both very familiar with the north and Island Lake and were able to hit the ground running as a tea m.
Cyde had purchased major equipment and moved it to the site, a large backhoe with loader and excavator attachments, two fully furnished trailers for immediate accommodation, two 18 foot boats and motors and two ski-doos. freezers and cooking equipment and beds for the camps we would build. Also good single side band radios so our two projects could communicate with each other and with our Winnipeg office. All costs would be expensed against the project or partially transferred to future ones. Due to several circumstances we were unable to get all materials to the sites that we required for this first season of construction. Firstly the decision that DPW would be the Day Labour contractor, as it were was not made until January. Secondly as we saw in the previous chapter the winter road to Island Lake in the Spring of 1974 was not opened until late February. And finally Stan Pupek, Winnipeg architect in charge of design was late in completing details of the work. As a result there was inadequate time to order and have manufactured the long roof trusses for the school building itself and there was no time to get trucks and equipment to the site to excavate and haul gravel over the ice roads for the concrete foundations of the two buildings. So right away we were behind the eight ball looking at extra costs and or delays.
Within a few weeks we were able to move into the so called old old federal building across the street from the Grain Exchange building. We had lots of room with a combination of old and new furniture. We were the only Public Works staff there and it felt good to settle in with room for our various Superintendents to come in as required, to have all the phones we needed and to start to really bond as a team, go across the street for coffee together. Often Clyde and I would lunch together at a nearby sandwich shop.
The next critical thing was to find and retain our two site superintendents which thanks to Clydeís connections we were able to do quickly. Romeo Lesage was from Treherne and his friend Steve from nearby La Riviere. They were both experienced small town contractors looking for something a little more permanent for a while. They were hired on Personal Service contracts at the top Provincial wage rate for 60 hours per week plus all travel and living expenses. These contracts were critically key for us, and approval had been especially obtained for this Day Labour schools initiative.
In quick order we hired an Equipment Manager/operator, Nick, A mechanical Superintendent , Stan and an Electrical Superintendent Lefty.. Later in the summer the Author brought Ernie, my former water, sewer, blaster man from Indian Affairs. In the Fall we brought an assistant purchasing agent Cam on board and again into my past to retain Ted Bosack as an Architectural technologist/Quantity Surveyor. The Author had spent some time writing a complicated position description for this job and was successful in getting a high classification level. The work of this position became critical as the plans and specs had been poorly done by Stan Pupekís staff and everything required review and upgrading to prepare sub trade packages for supply and installation through the coming winter freight season for millwork, flooring, ceilings, doors and windows, hardware, and sprinkler systems.
Immediately after breakup we got our two guys up to site, Romeo at Wasagamach and Steve at St Theresa Pt. The first job was to get the trailers set up and then to start construction on 20 man camps at each site required for our journey men carpenter, electrician s and plumber trainer/supervisors in terms of apprenticed local labour. The camps consisted simply of insulated house shells which would be moved and used latter by IAB as Indian housing. These were connected by corridors for camp use and included and a large kitchen/dining room We were able to hire local women as cooks and all food was purchased and flown in weekly from Winnipeg.
CONSTRUCTION CAMP ADJACENT TO SCHOOL AT ST. THERESA PT.
Also as of 1974 the Manitoba government had completed a 3000 foot runway on an island immediately adjacent to Sat Theresa Pt , so we had direct access there or via Garden Hill/Stevenson Island. Also on the island was the local Bay store and the St Theresa Pt Nursing Station. As things had evolved air service to Island Lake was now being provided by St Andrews Air from St Andrews Airport just north of Winnipeg. The owner George, a scot had started it up just a few years ago to supply his Northwest Company store at Garden Hill. Needless to say this service was a major benefit to us in terms of the transportation of workers, food, repair and other urgent supplies.All men, food and supplies other than winter freighted had to go the 5 miles to Wasagamach by boat. There was no Nursing Station at that location.
The next major job was to find and get the gravel that we required for the foundation to bedrock of all the buildings. We were able to locate a source within a few miles with the help of locals who knew the lake well. We set out and built from scratch a large barge using lumber ordered for the school. It would of been maybe50 feet by 30, which we powered at the back with two large outboards which were purchased and flown in. The barge was supported, floated by a large number of empty and sealed 45 gallon drums which were not difficult to round up in these locations, they being the garbage scourge of the north! We would load the backhoe on the barge and take it to the gravel pit,. offload the hoe, excavate and carry the gravel to the barge then reload the hoe and barge to the school sites for similar unloading .At each g location we built large docks made from locally cut timber , creating cribs filled with rock, standard fare for these locations.
CONCRETE FONDATION PUMPHOUSE WASAGAMACH . TANK FARM ST THERESA PT
It took a lot of trips but with Nick in charge and a good crew and equipment it went well. Now it was time to turn our attention to the trussís which we had been unable to move to the sites by winter and which were critically required in order to close in the main buildings before next winter to maintain work schedule. We needed an aircraft that was big enough to carry these approximate 3 feet deep by 25-35 foot trusses and there was nothing in Manitoba at the moment that met that need. However there was a Bristol freighter that was working in the Prairies/Territories and we were successful in contracting its services for a couple of weeks. Clyde and Nick oversaw the operation, moving the trusses by truck to Thompson, and from there by the aircraft to the S t Theresa airstrip. Again it involved many trips and from the airstrip we used our barge to move them to the nearby school at St Theresa Pt and the 5 miles to Wasagamach.
FILE PHOTO BRISTOL FREIGHTER USED TO MOVE TRUSSES
These two major logistical and cost challenges we overcame with good men and management and thought that OK, we can now really get into high gear on the structures, but suddenly were hit with another problem. Out of the blue about mid August the Wasagamach Band wants to kick our superintendent Romeo Lesage off the job for some incident relating to a local women believed to be one of the cooks. Clyde and the Author flew to St Theresa the next day and went over to Wasagamach by boat for a meeting with the Band Council that evening
The meeting went on for several hours, Romeo was excluded. Given Wasagamachís population size and its more isolated location and limited exposure to outsiders like St Theresa with the Nuns, English was not spoken or understood well here, so the whole meeting was through translators who knew English with the local language being Cree. Parts of the meeting we were involved in, other parts were only among themselves in Cree. It was never clear at any time what the incident was, only that it involved one of the cooking women. In talking to Romeo before and after the meeting, he vehemply denied anything untoward involving any of the women. There was no reason for us to believe otherwise. He was a married man with a wife and family back in Treherne. For him to be involved with a local woman would have been incredibly stupid and totally out of character for the man that Clyde and I had come to know.
The meeting just went on and on, the room heavy with cigarette smoke, we unable to get any clarity, thinking that it was some accidental collision or some conflict among the women, who was head cook who wasnít or to do with one of their husbands who was or was not working for us on the job. We stressed Romeoís importance to the job, how hard he would be to replace. Much was probably lost in translation, we not knowing what the translator was telling them or how much local politics was involved. The bottom line was that they wanted Romeo to leave Wasagamach and all we could do in the end was to ask for some time so the job would not suffer.
A real dilemma which fortunately for us we were able to resolved by quietly moving Romeo to the St Theresa job and Steve agreed to change with him And go to Wasagamach. We did this very quietly and low profile without any announcements as Romeo gradually started work at St Theresa keeping a low profile. Given that these two Bands lived close together and probably had inter marriages we were extremely concerned that the St Teresa Band Council would hear something and object to Romeo coming there. Thank goodness nothing happened and within a month or so both jobs were humming along fine.
ROMEO LESAGE AND CLYDE LENNERTON, AUTHOR BEHIND CAMERA ON WAY TO ST THERESA PT
FRAMING THE MAIN CLASSROOM BLOCK AT WASAGAMACH and FRAMED IN SCHOOL AND GYM ST THERESA POINT
On the architectural design side of our operation Earl Bauckman set up a meeting in Edmonton to organize our approach. He had seconded a senior architect from the main building branch in Edmonton often called the main frame, Les Humphreys to head our prairie province group. We also had a young recently graduated architect . We decided to retain consultants for all our projects and eventually hired four Winnipeg firms including G reene Blankstein, LM Group etc. We had approval from Indian Affairs to start construction of the school at Lake Manitoba in the Spring of 1975 and approval to retain Architectural consultants to begin planning on schools at Pukatawagan, Poplar River and Shamatawa
All of these projects involved teacher ages and full water and sewer systems, the latter three all in northern isolated locations. The three of us worked a s a team on these projects developing needs and project briefs with Indian Affairs and reviewing draft design and layout proposals, material issues and the production of working drawings for Lake Manitoba in preparation for construction Spring 1975
.On the persona l side the Author decided to start curling again, joining Terry ,one of my former Technical officers and Hank Mitchell both of Indian Affairs. They both lived in south Winnipeg and we found a fourth person skip who was looking for a rink at the Wildewood club in the Jubilee area near the Red River. I also continued on with my Business administration course a t the University.
SEWAGE OUTFALL LINE FROM TREATMENT PLANT WATER INTAKE PUMPHOUSE WASAGAMACH
BLAST HOLES FOR WAT6ER INBTAKE LINE and TEACHERAGES ST THERESSA POINT
As we moved into Fall and freeze-up our main concentration on the two northern projects was to get the specialty subtrade package s out well ahead of winter freight season. For these packages it was critical that the work and living arrangements at St Thesesa and Wasagamach were crystal clear to eliminate all risk and unknowns to ensure bids were optimized. In that regard our bid documents stated that camps for sleeping and eating were available at each location, at a charge of $10 a day, that would be made and deducted from their contract payments. Contractors were responsible for their own travel to the St Theresa airstrip with St Andrews air and DPW would be responsible for local transportation to the school/camp sites at each location. That Fall also involved major orders and sipping of mechanical components, furnaces ,and electrical panels and specialty wiring and controls, the two large sewage treatment plants ,manhole sections and PVC pipe for intakes and outfalls.
These efforts , along with preparation and purchases for the Spring start on Lake Manitoba consumed all time available. There was on going need to send monthly cost and progress to Indian Affairs and cost accounting records and projections were a critical requirement of each months work. That winter the Author was successful in hiring Gunnar Peterson ,who had worked for me at York Landing as our Superintendent for Lake Manitoba
LAKE MANITOBA SCOOL NEARING COMPLETION SRING 1976
AN UNEXPECTED OPPORTUNITY AND SIX MONTHS OF FRUSTRATION
Returning to the two northern projects ,Spring 1975 brought good feelings as we had just completed an excellent contracting, winter freighting season. Both projects were on budget and on schedule, our office and site teams were working well together and good prices received for all specialty subtrades,and their materials expedited to site.
Then around the beginning of April a unique opportunity arose out of the blue that would lead to the unfolding of a series of sometimes bizarre, sometimes bureaucratic happenings which would ca use the Author much frustration and test the Federal Governments whole internal promotion system
It started innocently enough with the Author being contacted in early April in regard to my interest in competing for two Engineer 6 positions, one in Calgary, the other in Halifax. These were Regional managers of Engineering and Architecture, with four reporting Eng. 5 section heads for the Western and Eastern Regions of Parks Canada, which was a part of the DIAND. My name had come up out of a computerized skills inventory system, DATA STREAM, inaugurated by the Government a few years earlier. Parks Canada had delegated authority from the Public Service Commission to staff these positions. The competition interviews were held in Ottawa and while I was interested for sure, werenít expecting much having just got my Eng. 5 last year. However, to my surprise I was the top candidate and after an initial phone call received the letter below dated April 21 from the Calgary Parks Regional office.
What a pleasant and unexpected surprise!. The Author knew he had a good interview given my answers to the Boards questions and the fairly good chemistry developed during the one hour interview.
I had fairly good familiarity with the Parks operation as in DIAND they were part of our Department and we shared a common Engineering Service group at Headquarters in Ottawa. They had many more Engineers in their Regions and better classification levels. In 1973 they opened up a new Region out of Winnipeg and the Author had inquired about being considered for the senior Engineering position, but didnít make it to an interview. My then colleague from Alberta Les Clarke won the job and moved to Winnipeg. A few months after moving to Public Works I helped him one of his managers, Les Blight on a Board for a water and sewer Engineer, at which time we selected Darryl Danyluk as the top candidate. Darryl made an interesting but wise decision to stay with Reid Crowthers who he was then with. Les Clarke moved to Fort Richmond when he came to Winnipeg and Jackie and I would run into him at the local Safeway every now and then.
But I digress . The Public Service Commission issued a document for the competition results showing me as number one, a Mr Deckers from Ottawa number two and Mr Deslauriers from Quebec as number three.. An appeal date ending May 14th was set. A few weeks later I received another letter from Calgary saying an appeal had been received and would be heard May 29th
The Author was now excited about going to Calgary, a real good further promotion and Calgary was booming with the rapidly rising price of oil. I decided to take a one day trip to check out the city and price of housing. I flew out one morning the following week and was able to meet Regional Director Robinson and Mr Gauthier in the morning for a half hour and also Dave Street who had vacated the position to move to the Parks program side. In the afternoon I drove out to the booming southern suburbs, the Lake Bonivista and Fish Creek areas. Street after street of houses under construction, an amazing site and while expensive they were affordable especially with my anticipated big raise. A perfect time to move to a booming Alberta!
Nothing was heard for a while, then the Author heard through Calgary Parks that three of the four Engineer 5ís in Calgary reporting to the position had appealed the Board results. Then lasted a lengthy period where nothing more was heard. Finally dated July 22 nd the Author received a letter from the PSC Ottawa that I was the winner of the competition and creating a new appeal period expiring August 25th. Bizarrely they were literally doing the whole thing all over!
Things really dragged on now. Every few weeks I would phone Calgary Parks to see what was happening. I tried again on October 7th only to find that Mr Gauthier with whom I had been dealing had left Parks, and after some confusion was told that an appeal had been upheld. All of this was unofficial. After waiting a few days and hearing nothing more the Author wrote a somewhat critical, somewhat sarcastic but polite letter to the Commission in Ottawa decrying the way the matter had been handled. The letter follows. The details of what happened next are a little dim. No reply to my letter was ever received, but I think I got a phone call from Ottawa formally apologizing and officially advising me verbally of the final result.
On October 28th a notification was received that a completion would be held for the Halifax position and was I interested. A trip was again made to Ottawa for an interview and on November 23rd the Author was formally advised that Mr Dekker had been the successful candidate. No new competition was ever held for the Calgary position; instead they transferred a senior Architect already at the 6 equivalent level. Certainly understandable given the sloppy bureaucratic mess made of the competition and appeals and the morale/personnel issue now existing in Calgary with the three unsuccessful reportees. Also coincidently Bill McKim, formerly Director of Engineering for DIAND to whom I copied my letters to during my battles with Bill Thomas, was now ADM of the Parks Program. This raised some suspicions on my part of the final role he may have played, being now Regional Director Robinsonís boss, but I had no way of knowing whether he had intervened against me or not..
So at last the circus and the having your life on hold was over. The real disconcerting thing was that Jckie became pregnant in March/April of 1975 and this whole moving thing ,while welcomed by me, was not something needed by us as a family as such. Had an appointment been made as it originally looked in June then we could have re-located in the summer well before our baby arrived. But once all the delay started the whole thing got more and more upsetting. Our baby son Bryce was born on December 17th at Victoria hospital near Fort Richmond and it looked like life would settle down again
The Author was in his fourth and final year of his Business Administration course, all three construction projects were going well, we had a well honed team. The only concern was that while we had finished and obtained approval of the preliminary drawings of the next three schools at Pukatawagan, Poplar River and Shamatawa, no money was coming forth for construction. The basic problem Indian Affairs had was that as a Country we were in a period of rapidly rising inflation and interest rates and the cost of all schools had increased by up to 50% across the country creating a serious cash flow problem.
This was of particular concern in our Day Labour program because we had to transfer part of our equipment capital costs to new projects as well as cover or office staff salary costs which except for the Authors were all charged to projects. Earl Bauckman had written George Ross head of Education IAB Manitoba last Fall but as we approached the beginning of the new fiscal year on April 1st, 1976 the issue was not resolved.
So as we went into May the Author was finalizing plans for Earl Bauckman to make a visit to St Theresa Pt and Wasagamach, something long over due, but for one reason or another never got around to. Derm Dumphy Director of Design and Construction would come along as well. I t was the first week in May, breakup was complete and we could get off the Island airstrip by boat. They came in to Winnipeg the night before and spent some time at the office meeting and talking to my staff. Then we headed out for lunch, down Notre Dame Avenue to the Canadiana Hotel, not sure why we went that way, then down McPhilips to the Perimeter Highway and north to St Andrews Airport. We had my car which I always used when going there.
The flight directly to St Theresa Pt airstrip was scheduled for about one oíclock. We would be on a twin otter , St Andrews Air Chief Pilot, Ben was at the controls alone, there was some freight but only the three of us as passengers the best I recall. The weather was cloudy but not threatening. The passenger cabin in the Otter was narrow with two seats each side of an aisle. We sat separately in the small seats, near the front, about 20 seats in all. There was to cockpit door, so Ben was just up there in front of us .
Takeoff was routine and the flight without problems, but as we got closer and closer to Island Lake the weather got more closed in with some rain and it wasnít clear at that point whether we would be able to see enough to land. This premonition turned out to be true and after several dicey dip down passes at where Ben thought the airstrip was ,he decided to give up and head back to Winnipeg. That was in some ways the good news, the bad news being that the aircraft wss starting to pick up ice on the wings and propeller area. We were getting quite nervous as you might expect, there was limited visibility in heavy cloud and Ben was maneuvering the aircraft in different direction trying to avoid the icing conditions . We were fortunate in not encountering snow squalls which would have created whiteout conditions and put us in extreme danger.
FILE PHOTO OF TWIN OTTER DEHAVILAND AIRCRAFT
Ben was also working the de-icing controls on and off as needed while keeping the aircraft level or higher or lower, up or down depending on the icing conditions. Fortunately the twin Otter aircraft was equipped with top notch de-iceing equipment and we had the Head pilot at the controls. We were mighty nervous and donít mind saying a little bit scared. This was made worse every ten minutes or so when a chunk of ice or two would break loose and bang onto the wing or tail of the plane with a loud banging noise literally causing us to jump in our seats, although not really because we all had tightly fastened seatbelts on. We were now many hours into this flight, could clearly see the propellers spinning out the window, unable to see ground, cringing every time another piece of ice banged off part of the aircraft. Meanwhile Ben sat calmly in the pilotís seat in the cockpit working the controls and de-icing equipment. Eventually the cloud started to thin a bit and we could see pieces of land or lake, likely Lake Winnipeg. Finally we landed back at St Andrews Airport and taxied to the hanger. Iím not sure if we kissed the ground when we got out of the aircraft or not but we did thank Ben for a safe trip and figured that this one would be not soon forgotten, which it wasnít! We had been in the air five full hours!
All of this was quickly forgotten as fate one could say intervened to determine the direction of my career and of Jackie and our familyís lives. Things were good for us in Winnipeg. My mother and Jackieís parents relatively nearby. We had settled in nicely in Fort Richmond, a new neighbourhood with young families like us as neighbours. We were visiting back and forth every now and then with Ron Cartwright and his wife Carol, also with Jackieís girlfriends Linda and June, husbands Alex and Gary. I had renewed friendships with Gary Smith and Peggy and old Palmer House roommate Del Stitt and wife Elaine who had recently returned from Thunder Bay. There was a Grey Cup group that took turns hosting such parties. We had one at our place on 31 Emory Road. I was curling at the Wildewood with Terry and Hank and golfing every Saturday morning with Ron Cartwright. And in April I had received my Certificate in Public Administration from the University.
Things were certainly lagging at work with no new school construction dollars in site, but the Author had no fears about his job nor was he looking for a new one. Admittedly however having now built three schools and managed everything but the actual working drawings on three others there probably was not that much more to learn or experience in this position. And so it was that the week after the aborted air flight to Island Lake a big ad appeared in the Careers section of the Free Press ,that I always looked at, for an Executive Director of Project Management for the Department of Northern Saskatchewan(DNS) based in Prince Albert. The exact same position that the Author had been interviewed for and failed to secure three years ago!
This had been a very intriguing and challenging position at the time and the description was equally appealing now,. With nothing to lose the Author applied for it to the Public Service Commission of Saskatchewan and within about a week received a call from a Jim Materie in Prince Albert asking me to come there for an interview with Jim Stobbs, the Assistant Deputy Minister. He wired me a ticket and before long I was on an early morning Air Canada flight to Saskatoon, connecting with a Norcanair flight to Prince Albert (P A). The small city had a nice airport, but only a portion of the World War II Norcanair hangar as a terminal, but a taxi was no problem as I rode through the forest and along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, about 5 miles distance, across the bridge into downtown P A and to a 3 story office building on 1st Ave E for my interview.
I asked for Jim Materie who was the head of Personnel for the Dept. in P A who took me into the office of Jim Stobbs theADM. After a short wait I was in his office with Wilf the Sask. PSC man and the interview proceeded. It was learned on my part that Jim Stobbs was a former Sask. Highways Engineer who had won the job that the Author had competed for three years ago and had now moved up to ADM and was thus filling his old position. I answered questions about my experiences primarily relating to Indian Affairs, as this position was very similar to my former job as Regional Engineer but with a much higher level of responsibility and many more staff. My responsibilities would be for a Housing Branch building about 300 houses a year by day labour, a Road Construction Branch building roads and airstrips with three fleets of own forces heavy equipment and men,and the management of three repair and overhaul depots. Also a Central Services Branch with purchasing, leasing and maintenance responsibilities for all office buildings and staff housing. Finally an Engineering Branch with three Divisions, a transportation unit ,designing and building roads and airstrips, a Building Division designing and building schools office buildings and staff housing accommodation and thirdly a water and Sanitation Division designing and building community systems using own forces/day labour
In total there would be about 300 permanent staff ,maybe 4o Engineers and Architects and perhaps a work force of 1000 people during construction season. It was a staggering size job, but it did not in any was intimidate me because the Author had undertaken all of these responsibilities in his previous three position and it was only a matter of scaling up to many more projects. I was able to answer all of their questions from day labour housing and school construction to water and sewer day labour, to total familiarity with facility maintenance and purchasing, expediting, northern construction isolation and winter roads.
All of this took place in the morning and by noon I was free. Not sure what was done for lunch or in the afternoon but think I walked around downtown a bit and went over to the Marlborough Hotel for lunch. Prince Albert was a city of about 35,000 people nestled in the valley of the North Saskatchewan River. Eventually grabbed a taxi back to the airport, a transfer to Air Canada around 7 pm and back in my home in Winnipeg by 10 pm. It had been quite a day1
The following week a phone call was received from Jim Materie saying the job was mine and asking if I would accept it. It was agreed that the PSC would send me a formal offer and I would talk it over with my wife Jackie and let them know after the letter was received. In some ways this decision was easy enough this being a magnificent job and opportunity. On the other hand as described above we ha d an excellent life in Winnipeg, our families were there, Bryce was barely six months old. Jackie had never lived anywhere but Winnipeg and I would have to go ahead while she stayed behind with the kids and to sell the house and all of this would be hard on her. In the end we did decide to move, the house w a s put up for sale and my starting date was to be June 21st 1976.
So the Author was on his way to Saskatchewan after two years with the DPW. Actually it had worked out more or less as hoped, getting away from Indian Affairs, taking a more technical job for a couple of years, getting some different experience and getting a couple of years older, and then go for the Golden Ring job again!.The benefits of that change were clearly evidenced with the Parks offer and then again with this DNS offer, going from an Eng 4 to a 6 and1/2 in two years! Now the only question was how would we deal with the overall move as a family?
THE DEPARTMENT OF NORTHERN SASKATCHEWAN (DNS)
GO WEST YOUNG MAN ! GO WEST! GETTING STARTED (AGAIN) !
Looking back now it seems a little surreal that here was the Author starting his fourth job since graduation, some 14 years ago! This time it was not just a matter of walking down the street a few blocks to a different building, then home as usual at night. NOW IT WAS TO A NEW Province and new city which was entirely new to me and everyone was a stranger. Scary, yes in a way, but having done this twice already before, the relocation was the only thing new, but with a whole family involved the implications were much greater.
On the other hand the possibilities were endless. It was an exciting opportunity, a big job, my first Executive position, my background and experience were perfect for it. Manitoba was becoming a dull place to live and work. Saskatchewan was starting to boom with major uranium exploration and development in the north. The Department of Northern Saskatchewan had just been created in 1973 to develop the north, its people and respond to the uranium mining potential. The position ad, the letter of offer from Jim Stobbs and my letter of acceptance follow below. Jackie and I left the kids with her parents and drove to Prince Albert for a couple of days in late May to look around the City a little and get a feel for the housing market and what might be available. Also where I could stay for awhile till the house was sold and Jackie, Stephanie and Bryce could join me.
The Author intended to fly to Prince Albert via Saskatoon on the morning of Monday June 1st and all my arrangements were made, but then out of the blue the air traffic controllers start a wildcat strike the night before, so instead I had to take our car and drive on Monday, phoning to advise my new boss that I would be a day late and unfortunately leaving Jackie without a car in Winnipeg.
It is about a 9 hour drive and I found a cheap mote l with a restaurant where I COULD STAY FOR A WEEK OR SO UNTIL A room or suite was found. Jim Stobbs and I spent some time together Tuesday morning and the rest of the next two weeks was spent meeting my many staff and time with my direct reports gtting briefings and some tours of our Repair Depot, fabrication shops and warehouses. I also drove to La Ronge our Departmental Headquarters to meet our Deputy Minister Marcel LíHeureux and get fully signed up with Personell.The Headquarters at that time was two large prefabricated Atco buildings on a small hill area, the lower one being the initial office in 1973, the upper the newer office was more modern and where most senior staff were. Met a few Branch Directors and at least one of the other Assistant Deputy Ministers on the social-economic side.
The car driven to La Ronge was assigned to me and the Saskatchewan Government had a policy of allowing a certain amount of personal miles which you paid for. The road to La Ronge was paved about two thirds of the approximate 150 mies with the remainder gravel but under paving construction. The very well known Prince Albert National Park was 50 miles north of P A and a few miles off the Highway to the west.There was a townsite there, Waskesue and same named lake and a spectacular golf course. Later in the second week the Author was fortunate to get a basement suite in a house a few blocks from the office. A bedroom, bathroom and small kitchen/living room. Any kind of rental accomadation was in extremely short supply as with the northern thrust P A, Gateway to the North and also from a tourism perspective.All and all a very productive and informative week getting started . The most common theme everywhere visited and with everyone met was the friendliness and welcoming and the energy and enthusiasm of people who you could tell immediately were proud and happy with the work they were doing. A the end of the second week I droive back to Winnipeg for the long weekend mightily impressed with Department and the opportunity that had been seized!. I would return on Monday by air now that the controllers strike was over.
COPY OF AD IN THE FREE PRESS FOR THE DNS DIRECTOR POSITION