D.R. (Don) George

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By David Thomson, on the occasion of the presentation of Honorary Life Membership to Don George, 2012

Council may award honorary life membership to any Alberta Land Surveyor or retired member who has rendered signal service to the Association and the betterment of society. This year, Council decided to present an honorary life membership to one very deserving candidate. Our newest honorary life member has been a member of the ALSA staff and, just when we thought he was going to retire, he decided to run for vice-president and president of the Association.

Don George began his surveying career in 1966 and received his survey technology diploma from NAIT in 1969. He articled to Hugo Engler and received ALS commission #397 in 1975.

He was manager at W.D. Usher & Associates in Camrose and started Cam-Alta Surveys Ltd. in 1984. In 1994, he joined the ALSA as Assistant to the Director of Practice Review and became Acting Director of Practice Review in November 2007.

Don George served on the ALSA Council from 1988 to 1990 and, again as vice-president, president and past-president from 2008 to 2011. Over the years, he has been a member of various committees and sub-committees of the ALSA (Standards and Legislation Ad Hoc to name a few). He is currently on the Historical & Biographical Committee.

On the occasion of his nomination for Council, 2008

  • Began surveying career in 1966.
  • Received diploma in Survey Technology at NAIT in 1969.
  • Articled to Hugo Engler and received ALS commission (#397) in 1975.
  • Shareholder and manager of W.D. Usher and Associates (branch office) in Camrose in 1975.
  • Sold shares in W.D. Usher, bought assets and started Cam-Alta Surveys Ltd in 1984.
  • Sold Cam-Alta Surveys Ltd. to Maltais Associates Surveyors Ltd. in 1993.
  • Joined the ALSA January 1994 as Assistant to the Director of Practice Review.
  • November 2007 became Acting Director of Practice Review and Assistant to the Acting Director of Practice Review until the present.
  • Member of Council 1988 to 1990.
  • Over the years I have been a member of various committees and sub-committees of the ALSA [Standards and sub-committees of Standards (13 years), Legislative, ALSA Liaison, to mention a few.]
  • Was a presenter at various seminars (Getting It Right, Evidence and Field Staff).

By David Marquardt on the occasion of receiving the Professional Recognition Award, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen, honoured guests and students and fellow colleagues:

The Alberta Land Surveyors' Association Professional Recognition Award is awarded to recipients who have obtained high levels of office, national or international recognition, or have developed new system or methods for outstanding contributions to the profession of surveying. Past recipients have included Ken Allred, Walter Bright, Jim Clark, Bill Dabbs, Don Dawson, John Deyholos, Bob Fulton, Duncan Gillmore (Sr.), Jack Hill, Alex Hittel, John Holmlund, Bill Hunter, Syd Loeppky, Army MacCrimmon, Norm Mattson, Al Nelson, Gord Olsson, Jerry Rasmuson, Ed Scovill, Dave Usher, Charlie Weir, Bill Wolley-Dod and last year's recipient, Lyall Pratt.

This reads like a surveyors' hall of fame and it is not every year that this award is given out; only those years in which a suitable candidate comes to light. Even though each one of these individuals I have named certainly has their own unique character and reputation, I can assure you that there is a common thread among many who have received this award and this year's recipient. For one thing, it is a thread of honesty, integrity and professionalism that equates to a high level of respect amongst your peers. For another, they did it not for the award or recognition, but for love of this profession; this business of surveying. This year's recipient deservedly joins an elite band of brothers.

Going back a bit to this past January, Brian Munday asked me if I would like to follow through with my nomination. I replied back to him in Dr. Seuss language, which Brian is very familiar with, "I meant what I said and I said what I meant, a surveyor's faithful one hundred percent." So, to go about getting endorsements, I mentioned this in strict confidence to three colleagues and promptly received back four e-mails and four voice messages from individuals wanting to endorse the nomination form. That tells me two things, that surveyors really suck when it comes to keeping a secret and that the guy that we were nominating was, indeed, the right one. One land surveyor even insisted that his name be on the endorsement form. Can you believe that? I thought about it for a little while and I said to myself, "well you know, he is bigger than I am, his voice is louder, he's probably more respected than I, he's been in this business a lot longer, he might be considered good looking but, on the other hand, he's much older than I am. So, I came to the decision and e-mailed him back, "your endorsement has been accepted. Thank you very much Mr. Nelson."

This year's recipient, I am sure, will take that as a great compliment. He was born in Alberta—Barrhead to be exact, attended high school there and went on to graduate from the survey tech program at NAIT as part of the infamous class of 1969 with a few others of this Association. He articled under Hugo Engler while working at Usher and received his commission in September 1975 as ALS #397. In 1975 he moved to Camrose, first as a branch office and then as a partner with his company Cam-Alta Surveys. His name, if you haven't guessed it by now is Donald Richard George.

For the last thirteen years he has been an integral part of this Association in the position of Assistant to the Director of Practice Review where his responsibilities were to head up the field component of a systematic practice review program. Working closely with each of the directors since 1994, he has helped develop what started out as a very tough-going controversial, not too popular program, into a widely-accepted, educational tool that is the standard and the envy of many of our sister associations in this country and around the world. It takes special people to do something like that—to become an educator, a teacher; sometimes in the face of unwarranted opposition. And, like I said, not for any physical or monetary rewards but for the love of this business of surveying. As an add-on to his responsibilities with Systematic Practice Review, Don was intimately involved with the evolution of the Getting It Right seminars, presenting the field component on so many occasions. Many of you land surveyors who have received your commission in the last ten years, I am sure, have been a student of these seminars and, like the rest of us, have seen the tell-all pictures he has taken over the years of the kinds of evidence and missed evidence he has dug up.

Some seventeen years ago when I went to work and article for Don in Camrose, I got introduced, not only to his laid-back lovable personality, but also to his very simple method of evidence assessment. In two words, they are the same first two words we came across in the very first Dick and Jane book we ever read in kindergarten, "look" and "see." So I did and when that option was exhausted, he gave me his next set of instructions. He handed me a brand new shovel and he said, "here, dig." And trust me, after two years of that, I was really exhausted.

If there is a committee within this Association that Don has not been involved in in his thirty-two years as a land surveyor, I am not aware of it but I know his favourites were the ones that involved education, standards, professional development or legislation. Last year, Don, in this very same speech indicated that Lyall Pratt's integrity, ethics and knowledge of the legislation goes unmatched in our Association. I am here today to say Lyall, you now have company.

Many students and surveyors alike, as I have done on numerous occasions, have phoned Don up to ask him his take on some survey problem or an evidence issue and, always it was met openly with fact, opinion, legislation, experience and advice. I'm so glad he wasn't charging lawyer's fees because otherwise my house would now be in his name.

I put together a brief collage of comments I have received back from fellow land surveyors and I would like to read them to you now.

He not only has the professional skills and desire for the SPR program but he unquestionably had the best interests of each and every member of this Association in his heart in aspiring to the challenge.

It is abundantly clear that after all these years as an Alberta Land Surveyor, Don has the impeccable duty to serve the best interests of the public.

That quiet, but steadfast quality in Don is one which is the cornerstone of our professionalism and one which sets him a little above the others as an example to our employees, articling students and to the members themselves.

Become a better person in the journey, ...seemed to be a fitting model for the example he sets.

Don did not mind an argument and interestingly enough he seemed to enjoy losing one as much as winning one as long as someone learned something from the process.

His tenacity in remaining with the SPR through thirteen years of various directors will likely earn him sainthood in itself.

In my opinion there is no more deserving member of this profession to receive this award. Many of you know that as of May this year, Don will be taking a six-month leave of absence from his position to do a bit of travelling. And if we, as an Association, are lucky enough we get him back for another six months. After that, I can bet he'll want to spend time with the things he loves more in his life these days, his wife Eileen, his kids, his grandkids and last but not least, his God.

It is a privilege on behalf of the Alberta Land Surveyors' Association and a personal honour to present the 2007 Professional Recognition Award to Mr. Don George.