Breaking New Ground—Stories from Defence Construction Breaking_new_ground - Page 26

In the early 1950s, DCL’s Head Office was located at the CHMC Headquarters on Montreal Road in Ottawa. CMHC provided DCL with personnel, as well as manage- ment and supervisory services, until DCL assumed full administration and supervision of its contracts in April 1954. Appearing before Parliament In 1953, with government spending on defence reaching into the millions, Dick Johnson recalled that the opposition members of the House of Commons Committee on Defence Expenditures were rigorous in their questioning. They fielded a strong team: General Pearkes, Donald Fleming, Davie Fulton and several other leading parliamentarians. It was almost like a baseball game, with nine innings, each lasting about two hours, over a period of several weeks. At the end, DCL was rewarded by seeing that great family journal, The Toronto Globe and Mail, carry a headline that read ‘No Waste on Defence Construction.’ Asking for a raise… Ottawa, Early 1950s—Alec Lawson Back in the early 50s, we engineers felt ourselves to be underpaid. All of us were young and married with children, so times were rather hard. I remember arguing our case—without much success—with Don McLaren, the chief engineer at the time. About a week later, I was in his office discussing a project and, when I got up to leave, the cloth of my right trouser leg, 16 which was worn thin, caught on the front lip of his desk and tore horizontally about four or five inches. I hadn’t noticed, but Don had and, as I turned to go, he said, “Maybe we should look at giving you young engineers more money so you won’t be dressed in rags.” I didn’t understand him right away so he told me to look down at my right leg. After an embarrassed moment, we both laughed. Shortly afterwards, we got a modest raise. A former quarterback with the Ottawa Rough Riders, Alec Lawson worked three separate stints with DCL during his career: from 1954 to 1955; 1972; and from 1975 to 1986. He retired from the position of Manager of Technical Services at Head Office in Ottawa. Going out alone Late in 1953, defence construction began to slow down, just as CMHC was facing a significant jump in housing construction as a result of proposed changes to the Bank Act. It was the right time for DCL to cut the apron strings and go it alone, which it did officially in the spring of 1954 by assuming full administration and supervision of contracts. DCL handled those contracts on a centralized basis, with most of the responsibility BREAKING NEW GROUND DEFENCE CONSTRUCTION CANADA