Breaking New Ground—Stories from Defence Construction Breaking_new_ground - Page 42

Did You Know? Materials required for the construction of the Northern Ontario Pipeline included 223,800 tons of line pipe, 229,700 tons of concrete weights, 6,890,000 square yards of rock shield, 53 tons of kraft paper, and 42,700 gallons of primer. Project: The Northern Ontario Pipeline By 1956, all of the elements needed to build a pipeline to export Alberta natural gas to eastern Canadian markets were in place—except the money. Natural gas transmission company Trans-Canada Pipelines Limited (TCPL) had raised only 70 per cent of the $375 million that was required to start construction. DCL founder C.D. Howe believed that creating a Crown corporation to build the stretch of pipeline north of Lake Superior and then lease it to TCPL until TCPL could purchase it outright was the fastest, most effective way of getting the pipeline built. With the pipeline considered a crucial supply line from the west to the east—and government debate threatening the loss of a year’s construction—the Liberal government invoked closure in order to obtain Parliamentary approval by early June 1956 for the $118 million that would fund Howe’s Crown corporation. The resulting entity, the Northern Ontario Pipeline Crown Corporation (NOPL), was established immediately, but, despite the eventual success of the pipeline, the debate tarnished both Howe and the Liberals, and contributed to their defeat in the following year’s election. 32 NOPL and DCL signed two agreements: the first, on June 7, 1956, was for the provision of administrative and supervisory personnel, reviewing the estimates provided by TCPL and reporting on the construction’s progress. The second, on December 27, 1956, was for construction and engineering services and administra- tive assistance. DCL would provide engineering liaison with TCPL, and would call tenders and provide general field supervision and progress and cost reports. In turn, DCL was paid the salaries of staff involved in the work plus 50 per cent to cover overhead costs. Joe Bland was the project engineer for most of the construction. “It was a real opportunity to work with an excellent firm… (which) had wonderful personnel from the president down. I learned a lot from them. Guy Coates was president and I always marvelled at how he always knew everyone in the company right down to the office boy.” By October 1958, the pipeline was complete. Along the way, DCL and its contractors had to overcome a number of challenges posed by terrain that consisted largely of rock and muskeg. In muskeg, the pipe had to be held in place by concrete weights of three to five tons each—55,000 weights in all, placed every 11 or 24 feet for 150 miles. And some 250 miles of the section were built through rock, which required shielding BREAKING NEW GROUN D DEFENCE CONSTRUCTION CANADA