L.W. (Lou) Breton

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

Lou Breton received his commission as an Alberta Land Surveyor on May 23, 1958 and was an active member for 39 years.

He was also a Dominion Land Surveyor, now Canada Lands Surveyor. Lou articled to Oluff Inkster and Gordon Turnock and, in turn, articled Fred Hingley and Ken Drake. He started his survey career working for Imperial Oil (1953-1960) as a survey helper, party chief and, eventually, Alberta Land Surveyor. From 1960-1983, he worked for Midwest Surveys as an ALS, special projects manager, director and shareholder.

Lou has served on many Association committees, including the Oilfield and Northern Surveys Committee, Legislation Committee, Education Committee and Practice Committee. More recently, he has been an invigilator of ALSA professional practice examinations. In 1987-1988, he was president of the Association. As Council was considering his appointment as honorary life member, one Council member noted that the late 1980s were a period of significant change for the Association and Lou Breton was in the middle of it guiding us all through it.

In his presidential year, a new Surveys Act came into force. It is the same Act we have been working with ever since.

On June 22, 1988, when Lou was past-president, he, as a member of Council, was involved when the Association signed an agreement with the Government of Alberta giving the Association the sole right to sell iron posts and marker posts. This agreement, along with a grant of $100,000, allowed the Association to establish the Professional Audit Branch.

Mr. Breton addressed the luncheon as follows:

Thank you for making me an honorary life member, but I think you laid it on a little on the thick side. What I really enjoyed about surveying was the variety of experiences I had. Mind you, a high level of discomfort was often required. One day, we would be deep in the bush cutting line-up to our ears in mud and mosquitos. A day or two later, the mosquitos would be gone but there would be two feet of snow. The next week could find us flying in a chopper over a mountain range trying to pick a seemingly impossible location for an oil company. It was fun though.

Again, we could be in the Arctic trying to beat a white-out back to camp. Ken Drake remembers that one - I had to decide whether to leave him out there and bring a tellurometer in or leave the tellurometer and bring him in. Frankly, I had some reservations sometimes. Next, we would find ourselves in a posh hotel or at a convention, or a seminar or meeting with a client. I mentioned this contrast to the late Earl Little who we worked with at that time. "Lou," Earl said, "surveying is the best combination of physical and intellectual activity you can find." Of course, a lot of that time was spent in the office doing hum-drum things, but we had enough of these things that kept us on our toes. Surprisingly, it was the roughest jobs that we remember the most fondly - not at the time, mind you.

Again, Mr. President, I thank you for this award; I appreciate it very much. I have, as a senior, some advice to you new members. When you are in the bush, be sure you know where you are at all times, and if you get lost, don't admit it. Just remember, a pregnant prostitute or a lost surveyor are two people who don't know their business.