Fifty years is a long span in anyone’s lifetime. In a province as young as British Columbia, it also amounts to an impressive slice of history.

That being so, the Dawson Group of Companies has much to celebrate. Dawson’s 50 years of operation in the construction industry have become part of provincial history.

It all started quietly enough. Back in 1922, a young civil engineer went into business on his own as a contractor. After graduation (Dalhousie and McGill) he had practised in Kamloops, been commissioned in the Royal Canadian Engineers for service in the First World War and come back in one piece to take over as district engineer in Merritt.

Fred J. Dawson’s first contract was construction of a waterline in the Kootenays – and it led to plenty more.

Outstanding among those early projects was the building of the Burrard Street Bridge for the City of Vancouver. There was defence construction throughout World War Two, with the building in record time of airports at Boundary Bay, Patricia Bay, Kamloops, B.C., and at Dafoe in Saskatchewan.

Later there was the arduous engineering of major highways throughout the B.C. hinterland.

There was growing expertise, the adoption of modern techniques and diversification.

There was the erection of the Granville Street Bridge in Vancouver, the building of the Fraser Canyon and Kicking Horse highways. Dawson was caught up in unusual and challenging projects – installation of metal binwalls, drainage tunnels, pipeline crossings, so many others.

Always, the combination of the experience of handpicked personnel with imaginative use of technology. How else to get into and to keep in the forefront of the industry?

Dawson became member of the consortium building the Peace River Dam. It constructed the aluminum plant at Kitimat. The experienced so gained brought more diversification as other industrial contracts came in, like the pulp mill site at Castlegar.

Fred J. Dawson had the training, the expertise, the flair to lay sound engineering foundations for the development of the Dawson enterprise. His son, Graham, also an engineer, came into the business and it was a rare and successful father-and-son team – not always the best working combination – that made the transition into the world of modern change and technology. Expanding, earning, learning-yet always retaining the close-knit family business relationship that sought out the best of help and encouraged employees to seek promotion within the company. They lent their full weight and talents and flourished with a flourishing concern.

Who better than Dawson to build the $7 million Centennial Block in Vancouver General Hospital to mark the hundred ·years since the entry of British Columbia into confederation?

The Dawson working record bears comparison with any other, and it is a source of legitimate pride for all British Columbians that the company that celebrated 50 years of achievement on August 9 is wholly British Columbia owned. Even more remarkable, all shares are held by past and present employees.

Dawson – the world of construction salutes you.

Photo Caption: GRAHAM R. DAWSON, a UBC graduate in civil engineering, is chairman of the board and president of the Dawson companies.