C.N. (Norman) Hanson

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Carl Norman Hanson, ALS, was a professional engineer and land surveyor dedicated to the field aspects of conducting survey projects throughout western and northern Canada. He was born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan on April 20, 1916, the only child of John and Frieda Hanson. They operated a small mixed farm in the Rabbit Lake area where Norman grew up and attended school. He showed a strong aptitude for learning at an early age, skipping four years of school and going from Grade 6 directly to Grade 11.

His father passed away when Norman was 19 years old. Not wishing to continue working the farm, he moved with his mother to Edmonton, Alberta. In 1943, he joined the navy and was stationed in Victoria, British Columbia. Until 1946, he was a leading seaman on board naval ships plying the western coastal waters of north and central America. Upon re-turning to Edmonton, Norman worked for an oil company while building his own two-storey house and taking the engineering course at the University of Alberta. The house on 76 Avenue, east of 109 Street, was on the outskirts of the city at that time, but did have the advantage of a streetcar going past the front.

While working on survey projects in the New Westminister area of BC, Norman would have plan copies made at a local print shop where Anna Drake worked. They were married on August 15, 1953. They had two sons; Carl Erik and John Oscar were born in the 1960s. Both boys worked alongside their father on survey projects at various times.

Norman received his degree in civil engineering in 1950. He continued his education in the field of surveying and obtained commissions as an Alberta Land Surveyor on February 8, 1955 (#212), a Dominion (Canada) Land Surveyor in 1956, and a Saskatchewan Land Surveyor in 1958.

Norman worked for Canadian Engineering Surveys in the 1950s and early 1960s. About 1964, he joined UMA Engineering Ltd (known as Underwood McLellan & Associates at the time), to assist Doug Hornby, ALS, P.Eng, in the operation of their new Edmonton branch. He continued with UMA until his retirement in the 1990s.

Norman was most happy when in the field; searching for survey evidence, planting posts and putting in the physical effort required for a good, accurate legal or construction survey. He enjoyed working with John Anderson Thomson, P.Eng., CLS, SLS, renowned surveyor and mining engineer in Yellowknife, NWT. Many mining claims and subdivision surveys were done in places such as Norman Wells, Pine Point and Rankin Inlet and areas in between. His mining claim and oilfield survey projects often involved the difficulties of working in deep snow, in -50 weather, travel by float plane or nodwell, fighting off the mosquitoes and black flies, living in tents, taking star observation for bearing and location control - all part of getting the job done!

He also worked on pipeline surveys along the Interprovincial Pipelines Ltd. transmission system through the prairie provinces. Since Edmonton was his base of operations, many of the subdivision and rights-of-way surveys for clients in that region were prepared under Norman’s direction and the legal plans of survey bear his signature.

His career spanned a period when significant technical changes swept over the survey industry. He willingly adapted to these changes in computation instruments (slide rule, hand-operated, then electric adding machines, log tables of trig functions, Curta hand-held calculators for field use, HP45s, Wang computers, IBM XTs, to the current Pentium PCs, are but samples). Similarly, new field measurement instruments were also put to use, from plane table to transits and chains, tellurometers, separate EDMs, total stations and GPS instruments. It involved a lifetime of continuous learning to be able maintain the standards of the survey profession.

Over the years, Norman attended many ALSA and SLSA annual general and regional meetings. He also participated in other affairs of the associations as time permitted.

Many of those who worked with or knew Norman will still envisage him in a new subdivision area, with his favourite truck; canopy door open and tailgate down; shovels, lath, sledge hammer and legal survey posts laid out for ready use; tripods with prisms set up at required locations; and assistants carrying out their tasks or waiting for further instructions. He could be operating the total station, making copious notes in the field book or perhaps searching for legal survey evidence or pounding in the iron legal survey post that so many others would depend upon to identify their property boundary far into the future.

Carl Norman Hanson passed away on October 27, 2004, at the age of 88 years. He was interred in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery Field of Honour in Edmonton, Alberta.

R.E. (Bob) Mayne, ALS