D.A. (Dalton) Martin

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Dalton Martin, ALS
Known for Father of Allan Martin, ALS and Bill Martin, ALS

It is with great love and sadness that we announce that our father, Dalton Arnold Martin, a member of the Alberta Land Surveyors’ Association for 51 years, passed away peacefully on Friday, January 30, 2009 at the age of 85 years. Dalton was born July 2, 1923 in Kincaid, Saskatchewan.

He enlisted in the army in 1942. He tried to sign up for training in the new radar program but was forced to pick another program and ended up in surveying. Little did he know at the time that he was entering a profession that would be part of him for life. He served as an artillery surveyor with the 19th Field Regiment. Dad saw action in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany; landing with the first wave on D-Day at Juno Beach. Dalton spent his 21st birthday in a foxhole outside of Caen. He returned home in December 1945 and received certification from the army as an “instrument man” upon his discharge in 1946. He worked briefly for the CPR as a redcap which started a lifelong interest in the railway.

Dalton married Anne Semesock on December 31, 1949 in Windsor, Ontario. After living briefly in Moose Jaw, they settled in Lethbridge where Dalton (“Red”) worked for the federal government (PFRA) as a surveyor. He worked on the St. Mary’s Dam project and surveyed in the Hays area when irrigation opened up the land. He articled to Cecil Biddell and received his commission as an Alberta Land Surveyor, registration number 240, on January 20, 1958. He subsequently obtained his commission as a Canada Lands Surveyor. He went into private practice in 1962 and, subsequently, started his own survey firm, D.A. Martin & Associates, presently Martin Geomatic Consultants Ltd.

Dad raised a large family—six sons and four daughters. Times were tough for a sole practitioner. He did the field work by day and the drafting and administrative work at night. He often worked six days a week. Starting in the 1960s, his sons started working with him in the field. He passed on his ethics of hard work, resourcefulness and innovation. We learned a valuable lesson when he was trying to run profiles of the bed of the Oldman River when the first utilities were being run to the west side in Lethbridge. It was an early spring morning; there were still large chunks of ice on the banks and the river was flowing swiftly with the spring thaw.

We learned the importance of starting the motor in the boat before you push out into the current. We remember Dad desperately pulling on the cord, trying to start the motor, as he quickly disappeared as the current carried him away! We completed the profiling with cables, helium filled balloons and weights.

He taught us the importance of performing an exhaustive search for evidence; many times we were sent back out with instructions to “keep digging.” The holes we dug were often deeper than the length of our shovels but through his perseverance (and insistence) we experienced the thrill of finding a rust hole or the rotted remnants of a wooden post.

Dalton tried to participate and contribute to the Association. He spent a few years on various committees but the demands of his family, his business and the remoteness of Lethbridge (at that time) made it difficult for him to do more.

He was proud to be part of the Canadian Legion, and was a member of the Knights of Columbus and a past member of the Lethbridge Miners’ Library. His hobbies included darts, golf, and curling. He was a member of the Great Canadian Plains Railway Society and devoted much time in helping to get the old Coutts CPR train station moved to Stirling as a railway museum.

At one time or another, all of his sons and daughters worked for the family business. He taught them well; four became professional engineers and two became Alberta Land Surveyors. Dalton’s legacy continues with five sons still working for the firm that he started 47 years ago.

Forever, he will be in the hearts of his wife, children, 22 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren and one great, great granddaughter. Dad devoted his whole life to his wife and all of his family.

We are very proud he was our father and mentor.

Allan Martin, ALS, P.Eng and Bill Martin, ALS, CLS, P.Eng