1953-1954 "New Lines of Thought"

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During the next five years, there ensued the most active and progressive period in the Association's history. Rapid membership growth and the new demands presented by development and change in the provincial economy created a number of problems which could not be ignored, and in readjusting the outlook of the land surveying profession to these new conditions a great deal of good work was accomplished by the Association during 1953 to 1958.

At the 1953 Annual Meeting, interest in the short course approach to training was still keen and several members expressed the hope that another course could be provided in the spring of that year for the benefit of their articled pupils. However, it was found that only a limited number of articled students were ready for such a course and there was also an unexpected lapse of interest in land surveying among the current crop of engineering graduates, and no action was taken. Proposals for a similar course came up on one or two occasions in later years, but the demand was never great enough to justify its repetition, and the 1952 course was the only effort of that kind which the Association took part in.

In 1951 and 1952, the disciplinary cases which had come before the Council had made it evident that the provisions of the Act relating to malpractice contained a number of weaknesses. This was a subject of some concern to the 1953 Annual Meeting, and although there was still some reluctance about asking for changes in the Act, the Committee on Legislation was instructed to prepare suitable amendments for submission to the government at some propitious future time. The Committee got busy on this problem, but four more years had to elapse before any results were achieved, and it was not until 1957 that the contemplated changes in the Act were made. New disciplinary provisions were then enacted, largely on the model of similar changes that had been made in the Engineering Profession Act in 1956. At the same time, the Association also succeeded in getting articled service fully reinstated as a requirement to be met by all candidates who had not had suitable articled service elsewhere.

Meanwhile, difficulties arose with the DLS Board of Examiners who, understandably enough, were not disposed to give recognition to Alberta Land Surveyors who had not served under articles. Negotiations with the DLS Board continued for two or three years and satisfactory reciprocal arrangements with regard to examination exemptions were finally agreed to, but any Alberta Land Surveyor who had obtained his commission without articled service was obliged to serve at least one year under DLS articles in order to be admitted to the DLS final examinations.

Further evidence that 1952 had been the year of "the big leap forward" was presented in Mr. Hamilton's presidential address at the 1953 meeting, when he remarked that in 1952 Alberta Land Surveyors had used over 27,000 standard survey posts, as compared with 15,300 in 1950, and that between 1949 and 1953 the average age of the Association's members had dropped from 59 to 49 even though everybody had meanwhile become four years older. For the first time in living memory, the comparative newcomers in attendance at the 1953 meeting noticeably outnumbered the representatives of the older generation and made it conspicuously evident that for more than one-third of a century prior to 1950, there had been very few changes in the personnel of the profession.

Perhaps because of this infusion of youthful blood, the 1953 meeting opened up some new lines of thought. It brought forth not only proposals for strengthening the Act but also produced other ideas that later materialized in concrete action. There were suggestions for the re-introduction of a province-wide tariff of fees, for a two-day annual meeting, for the formation of a ladies' auxiliary organization and for the holding of occasional local meetings of land surveyors at Edmonton and Calgary. The Association was now beginning to move ahead again, and could turn its attention to matters other than the problem of new membership which had for so long been its major pre-occupation.

Three meetings were held by the Council between the 1953 and 1954 annual meetings. This established a pattern of frequency for, Council meetings which was repeated each year thereafter. The main item on the Council's 1953 agenda was the preparation of a new tariff which, after much labour, was made ready for presentation to the 1954 Annual Meeting, where it was adopted as "a recommended schedule of minimum rates to apply to all survey work performed after January 19th, 1954."

The Council also proposed the retention of legal counsel to advise the Association when future questions involving points of law or legal procedure arose. This action was partly prompted by the fact that in 1952 a judge of the Supreme Court on appeal had set aside on the basis of a legal technicality the Council's suspension of a member found guilty of malpractice. The Council also proposed to overhaul the Association's by-laws, and it was felt that legal advice in that connection might be needed.

The suggestion that two-day annual meetings be held in future was examined cautiously by the Council and left for the 1954 Annual Meeting to decide. Even more cautiously, the Council steered completely clear of the proposal for the formation of a ladies' auxiliary, largely out of deference to the attitude of some of the older members who felt that in the surveyor's scheme of things, wives are of less significance than the lowliest chainman. However, most of the younger members of the Association contended that the annual meetings should more adequately combine pleasure with business, and having reached the not necessarily logical conclusion that the best and least expensive way of livening up the social proceedings would be to have their wives participate in such fringe benefits as dining and dancing, they managed to persuade the 1954 Annual Meeting that the 1955 meeting should be "a two-day meeting with women," as the mover of the motion expressed it.

Another new development in 1953 that the Council was able to support more readily was the formation of a so-called "joint council of the Associations of the three prairie provinces. In November of that year, Mr. Hamilton was officially delegated to represent the Alberta Association at an initial joint meeting held in Regina, which was attended by Mr. F.S. Hyde, representing the Manitoba association, Mr. R.S. Galloway, representing the Saskatchewan association, Mr. R.A. Lellan, unofficially representing both Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and Mr. Max Viminitz, Secretary-Treasurer of the Saskatchewan association, who recorded the proceedings. These gentlemen discussed several matters of common interest to western land surveyors, including tariffs of fees, reciprocity of examinations and the operation of planning laws and regulations. They agreed to recommend to their respective associations that a similar meeting be held each fall at Regina and that the total costs be shared equally by the three associations. This arrangement was accepted by all concerned but it lasted for only four more years and then faded out, mainly because by 1958 the various associations had become financially able to send official delegates to each other's annual meetings, thus obtaining wider and more direct contact with the views and problems of the surveyors in other provinces.

Consideration of these matters occupied the attention of the members at the 1954 Annual Meeting, and some time was also spent in a discussion of professional ethics. This terminated in a resolution requesting the Committee on Legislation to prepare a code of ethics on the model of the codes in force in British Columbia and Ontario, for inclusion in the by-laws which the Council had instructed that Committee to revise.

The Committee on Legislation duly revised the by-laws during 1954 and added a code of ethics which, it was hoped, would cover some of the weak points in the disciplinary provisions of the Act and give the members a clearer idea of what was or was not to be regarded as unprofessional conduct. They also proposed the addition of another new by-law requiring the payment of an annual levy as well as annual membership fees. Rising costs and inflation of the dollar during the post-war years had reduced the Association's financial capability, and more revenue had to be found now that two-day annual meetings were to be held and a weightier annual report would have to be printed.

During 1954, the Secretary-Treasurer undertook the preparation of a revised edition of the manual, which was reprinted at the end of the year and paid for out of current funds that had been built up by the steady sale of copies of the first edition.

In 1954, the Council found it necessary to hold a special meeting, to which other surveyors in private practice were invited, for the purpose of considering the manner in which the regulations of the Board of Industrial Relations concerning hours of work and overtime applied to members of survey parties. A committee of the Council was appointed to discuss this matter with officials of the Board, and was later successful in obtaining the passage of special regulations relating to survey crews, which were much more acceptable than the Board's general regulations.


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