CDA/ACB Gazette

Oral History Project – Preserving Canadian Engineering Achievements

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Oral history is known to be the oldest type of historical inquiry predating the written words - a knowledge domain and a praxis of collecting, conserving, and explicating the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants of previous events. The most modern oral history was initiated with tape recorders in the 1940s with the latest transition into using 21st-century digital technologies.

In 1999, the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC) established the Standing Committee for History and Archives with a mandate that includes "Publish or broadcast through the various media, historical information on the Institute itself, the engineering profession, Canadian engineers and their activities, and specific engineering projects". EIC's charitable arm, the Engineering Institute of Canada FUND, supports this committee's work to sustain the recognition of excellence and the progress of engineering and engineering education in Canada. Professor Michelle Hamilton (Western University) along with the Engineering Institute of Canada FUND and Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE) has initiated a research project that will support this mandate by conducting oral-history interviews of engineers who have made significant contributions to Canadian achievements in Engineering, including Dam Engineering, since the 1960s. The recordings and transcripts of these individuals' recollections will become primary sources for researchers, provide professional guidance for current engineers-in-training, and inform high-school students about potential engineering careers.

As one of the seven participating constituent engineering societies, the Canadian Dam Association (CDA) will be represented on the Steering Committee by Dr Michael Davies, P.Eng., P.Geo. (Teck Resources Limited), Jean-François St-Laurent, ing., P.Eng. (SRK Consulting (Canada) Inc.), and Syed Iftekhar Ahmed, P.Eng. (Ontario Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines). They will be primarily responsible for developing the shortlist of potential Narrators from the Dam Engineering discipline and assisting the Interviewer to determine the necessary background research within this discipline. It is intended that at least 48 interviews will be conducted, documented, and permanently archived due to this project. The breadth and depth of the proposed research eclipses that from past initiatives and the findings will be readily accessible to the public. Therefore, the Steering Committee's CDA representatives encourage CDA Members to forward, in confidence, the name and biography of any potential Narrator to the following email address -


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