K. (Ken) Pawson

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Ken Pawson, ALS
PawsonK.JPG
1958-1989
Known for Honorary Life Member

Ken Pawson was born in Yorkshire, England in 1923.

Ken was a Canada Lands Surveyor, a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and had memberships in the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping and the National Society of Professional Surveyors.

Ken served on Council in 1966-1967 and was a member of the Control Surveys Committee, Practice Committee, Education Committee and Metric Conversion Committee.

In addition to being our photographer at our annual general meetings for many years, he is the author of Antarctica: To a Lonely Land I Know (2001) and Brave Little Heart, a winner of the Dog Writer of America Award.

He was chief City of Calgary land surveyor 1962-1988.

Ken was ALS #246 and received his commission on July 30, 1958.

He was a principal to Ed Scovill.

He was made an honorary life member in 2002.

Ken passed away April 29, 2014. He is survived by his loving wife Jean, two sons Brett Pawson and Mark (Michelle) Pawson, five grandchildren Jonathan Fraser, Kailon Pawson, Duncan Pawson, Danica Pawson and Kent Pawson.


By Ed Scovill, as published in ALS News, 2014

He was born on a farm in the UK, served with the RAF and the Falkland Island Dependencies Survey while living in the Antarctic for two years. Returning to England, he continued his Surveying training at University College in London. While giving a talk about the Antarctic expedition, he met a young nurse from Tasmania and knew Jean was to be a part of his life from then on. For the next five years they lived in various parts of the tropics and finally settled in Calgary.

As the chief City of Calgary Land Surveyor, Ken was responsible for initiating a system of survey control stations which became the model for many other parts of Canada. Working for the City of Calgary, articled to Ken, I had a job I liked, a decent salary and what I thought were good hours. Little did I expect to find myself standing in the middle of the intersection of 17 Ave and 14 St SW well after dark, holding a flashing light on my head. According to Ken, this apparently was the safest and least travelled time to do second order to the geodetic framework. I wonder what the policeman circling around me really thought! We also used EDM across the CIL plant that made dynamite. Security saw the flashing lights and scrambled to find us, fearing an explosion could occur. One of the concrete companies had its own bridge across the river. This was the shortest route to situate a second crew on the other side. Again security attempted to put a stop to that. Problem solved—Ken was able to arrange a police escort.

For twenty years, he was active on the Calgary Mountain Rescue Group, from its inception to its close, when sufficient park wardens became available for this kind of emergency. Ken called one weekend wanting to lower me off Mount Yamnuska in a litter basket during a rescue practice session. He thought I’d be thrilled.

Ken was a hypnotist and liaised with the local Police Department. I can’t recall that he involved me in these practice sessions, although I have been known to cluck like a chicken!

He was also instrumental in getting some funding from the city while I went for post-grad studies at the University New Brunswick. It was certainly a learning experience to work with Ken and we remained friends through the years.


By Ken Allred, on the occasion of the presentation of Honorary Life Membership to Ken Pawson, 2002

Ken Pawson was born in Yorkshire, England and received his commission as an Alberta Land Surveyor on July 30, 1958 and was active for 31 years.

Ken was also a Canada Lands Surveyor, a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and had memberships in the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping and the National Society of Professional Surveyors.

Ken served in the RAF Transport Command during the war. His formal surveying education was obtained through the British Ordnance Survey at University College, London. His professional experience includes 2.5 years on a British Antarctic Expedition and several years with the Colonial Service in the Tonga Islands, Sarawak and Western Samoa.

Following three years in the private sector, he became city land surveyor in Calgary in 1961 and was responsible for the introduction of the control survey program in 1962. In fact, it was his continued pressure in pursuing the bureaucratic system that made the control system a reality.

Ken served on Council in 1966-1967 and was a member of the Control Surveys Committee, Practice Committee, Education Committee and Metric Conversion Committee.

In 1989, he won the Association's Outstanding Service Award. Ken lists his interests as medical hypnosis, astronomy, mountaineering, skiing, photography, canoeing, camping, and just being bloody lazy.

In addition to being our photographer at our annual general meetings for many years, he is the author of Antarctica: To a Lonely Land I Know (2001) and Brave Little Heart, a winner of the Dog Writer of America Award.

When Ken received the Outstanding Service Award, a letter from one of his former crew members was read, which said in part: Ken had the uncanny knack of combining boss with friend. When the going gets tough one could always count on Ken - he sticks by you.

His crews' attitude was never "that's good enough" it was, 'that's what Ken would like."

The crews that worked with Ken often said out of respect, "go spit in the Devil's eye and I will be beside you."


Mr. Pawson addressed the luncheon as follows:

My memory went back to surveying about a week ago when I saw a picture of the windmill down in southwest Calgary. First of all, we had to do a reconnaissance for the control surveys. Walter Stilwell and I were out there, when a great big black dog came out - as you looked at it, it got to be the size of a Belgian work horse. I positioned myself between two trees and the dog was so big he couldn't get back at me. Walter Stilwell was as broad as the dog and couldn't get through the trees either so he had to go up the windmill, leaving the dog to salivate down below. Eventually, a kid comes out of the house nearby and whistles at the dog to sit down. The kid answered the door when I had to go to the house later and indicated that he would get his mother to answer my questions. I expected a three hundred pound monster, when along came one of the best looking women you could see in a thin, blue, almost see-through night-dress. By that time, I forgot what I had gone to the door for. Coming from England, I used some different terms. I was sent out to "pick up the pavement." In England, we refer to the sidewalk as the pavement. I went out and meticulously surveyed about seven hundred feet of sidewalk. As an English surveyor, you can screw up sometimes.

It's been a good life. I've enjoyed it; even surveying among headhunters in Borneo. It was good fun; they are pretty decent guys, most of them. The only difference between the headhunters there and the people who murder and kill here is that over there they don't waste the head, they keep the damn thing.

I'm leaving a copy of my book with Ken for the Association library. It might be of use someday.