SAGD steam generators at Christina Lake, Alberta

Collecting the Science, Technologies, and Culture of the Oil Sands

Our guide points to a pink portable toilet, as I make a mental list of technologies that I want to acquire to document everyday life at a Fly-in Fly-out oil sands camp in Northern Alberta. She tells me that the toilet is a symbol of the changing workforce. Now almost 40% of workers at the site are women; they occupy administrative as well as technical positions. This is an important story that shows the transformation of Canadian society that we are mandated to document in the national collection. Yet only 12 % of our natural resources artifacts depict women’s professional lives. Looking at the collection, you would think that 88% of women in Canada still stay at home.

 

Christina Lake in-situ operation. Photo: Cenovus

Christina Lake, Alberta in-situ operation. Photo: Cenovus

I am visiting in-situ oil sands operations with Jason Armstrong, Coordinator of the Canadian Energy Literacy Network. It is an opportunity for us to see and better understand these sites. It is also an opportunity to connect with people in the field, talk about their and our work, and lobby for artifacts. We have a small, but significant collection of petroleum-related objects: prospecting and exploration technologies, drills and drill bits, artifacts from Petrolia, and the Ocean Ranger forensic collection. My focus during this trip is on collecting SAGD (Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage), CSS (Cyclic Steam Stimulation), directional drilling, and hydraulic fracturing technologies.

SAGD steam generators at Christina Lake, Alberta

SAGD steam generators at Christina Lake, Alberta

I also want to provide some social context to these technologies, including gender representation. Who are the people improving, running, and monitoring these technologies? What is their education? What are their values? How do they deal with the constant criticism directed at their industry?

CSS wells at Cold Lake, Alberta

CSS wells at Cold Lake, Alberta

 

I talk to scientists at Imperial Oil, some of the best–and the most humbled–in their field, about decreasing the environmental impacts of the CSS and SAGD. This is definitely on their minds. We talk about challenges around proprietary research and scientific cooperation in a very competitive industry. It is difficult to “collect” what they do, but we try to make a list together: smaller test instruments and crucial parts of larger equipment, the first SAGD test devise, which sits in the corner of the lab (sorry, no photos in the lab), and well monitoring software and communication equipment.

Directional drill bent at 2 degrees to create a horizontal well

Directional drill bent at 2 degrees to create a horizontal well

Precision seamed slotted liner for horizontal  wells. Oil seeps into the pipe, while sand is too large to go through the slots

Precision seamed slotted liner for horizontal wells. Oil seeps into the pipe, while sand is too large to go through the slots

Collecting from a Fly-in Fly-out camp is equally challenging. The camp works as a technological and social system. A piece of technology that we can accession to the collection will never truly preserve this system. The camp employs several hundred people from cleaners and cooks to power engineers. A typical shift is eight to twelve hours, and the people that we talk to, stay at the camp for between seven to eighteen days at a time. There is a gym, a squash court, a music room, a theatre to socialize after work, and there is apparently lots of dating going on too. Any acquisition from a Fly-in Fly out camp will have to include objects related to work but also leisure. We need SAGD and CSS technologies, but we also need a treadmill, and a drum set. And we definitely need one of the pink, portable toilets.

Kitchen at Christina Lake, AB camp open 24-hours

Kitchen at Christina Lake, Alberta camp open 24-hours

 

Illustration 7 – Photo of the first prototype of the SR.A/1 taken around 1948. (Aeronautics, 1949 special issue, p. 55)

Tracking down the story behind our Beryl Jet Engine

When collecting artefacts, museums strive to document them as much a possible. The information thus gathered will allow future researchers to better understand the history of each object and the context surrounding its use. This kind of research connects us to many people and institutions across the country. In the project described below, the lack of information within the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation led me to reach out to the University of Toronto’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. My contact there was kind enough to get in touch with the university’s Archives and Records Management Services.

Illustration 1 – The Metropolitan-Vickers Beryl jet engine owned by the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation No. d’artefact no. : 1969.0269

Illustration 1 – The Metropolitan-Vickers Beryl jet engine owned by the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation, Artefact No. : 1969.0269

This project began as a result of the collection rationalisation project of the corporation. Given its limited storage space, the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation needs to reduce the number of duplicate and / or superfluous items. A jet engine I considered for de-accession is described in the catalogue as an Armstrong Siddeley Beryl (catalogue number 1969.0269). This in itself was puzzling given that the Beryl was designed and produced, in small numbers, by Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Company Limited of Trafford Park, a suburb of Manchester, England. Correcting the data in the catalogue might be a good idea. More importantly, I could not figure out what this engine, donated in 1969 by the University of Toronto, was doing in Canada’s national aeronautical collection. After all, the Beryl had not contributed in any significant manner to the development of science and technology in Canada. A search of the supplementary information files held by the corporation was of no help. As far as I could tell, the Beryl had been sent here for testing or study. The university might have acquired it directly, either from the manufacturer or a British government agency. On the other hand, the engine might have been donated to the university by Canada’s National Research Council.

Metrovick, as the company was commonly called, was a highly diversified heavy industry firm known and respected for its steam turbines, electronics, electrical generators and equipment, and diesel locomotives. Its facilities were among the largest in Europe. Possibly less known is the fact that Metrovick was a pioneer in the development of jet engines in the United Kingdom, both before and during the Second World War. Building upon its experience with steam turbines, the company developed the first Allied axial flow turbojet, a configuration that dominates today’s jet engine industry, and one of the first engines of this type in the world. The F.2, one of the most impressive and advanced jet engines of the mid 1940s, ran for the first time in December 1941. Flight tested in June 1943 aboard a suitably modified Avro Lancaster four-engined heavy bomber, the F.2 powered a modified prototype of the first Allied jet fighter, the Gloster Meteor, in November of that same year[1].

Illustration 2 – Advertisement for the Saunders-Roe SR.A/1 jet-powered flying boat fighter plane and its Metropolitan-Vickers jet engine. (Aeronautics, September 1947, p. 86)

Illustration 2 – Advertisement for the Saunders-Roe SR.A/1 jet-powered flying boat fighter plane and its Metropolitan-Vickers jet engine. (Aeronautics, September 1947, p. 86)

The F.2/4, a version known from 1945 on as the Beryl, was the power plant chosen for the world’s first jet-powered flying boat fighter plane, the Saunders-Roe SR.A/1. The first of three prototypes of this twin-engined aircraft, affectionately known as the “Squirt,” flew in July 1947. It soon demonstrated excellent flying characteristics[2].

Illustration 3 - The Metropolitan-Vickers F.5 open rotor engine. (Automotive and Aviation Industries, 1 January 1947, p. 21)

Illustration 3 – The Metropolitan-Vickers F.5 open rotor engine. (Automotive and Aviation Industries, 1 January 1947, p. 21)

The F.2 was used to develop the world’s first turbofan, the most widely used type of jet engine in the world today. Better yet, it was used to develop what many see as the ancestor of the open rotor engine, a type of power plant with the best qualities of the turbojet and turbofan engines that could revolutionise the design of future short to medium range airliners. More interesting still, Metrovick came up with a derivative of the F.2 designed for use on ships. An example of this power plant was used as a boost engine on the world’s first naval vessel powered at least in part by a gas turbine. As well, a derivative of the Beryl was the first gas turbine used to deliver electricity to the national grid of the United Kingdom. Sadly enough, none of these engines was produced in any number. In 1947, perhaps short-sightedly, Metrovick put aside its aeroengine design work. It seemingly did so under pressure from the British Labour government, which wanted to reduce the number of aeroengine makers in order to better support them. Armstrong Siddeley Motors, Limited thus took over the development of Metrovick’s latest project, the superb and powerful Sapphire. Now deemed superfluous, the Beryl was soon abandoned[3].

Illustration 3 – Advertisement for the Saunders-Roe SR.A/1 and the Metropolitan-Vickers Beryl. (Aeronautics, November 1947, p. 129)

Illustration 4 – Advertisement for the Saunders-Roe SR.A/1 and the Metropolitan-Vickers Beryl. (Aeronautics, November 1947, p. 129)

The SR.A/1 was abandoned as well. Reengineering its hull to accommodate another type of jet engine would have been expensive. Saunders-Roe Limited had little incentive to do this given that neither the Royal Air Force nor the Royal Navy showed much interest in the SR.A/1, or any other type of flying boat fighter plane. The performance limitations inherent to such aircraft were such that they could never fight in equal terms with land-based or ship-based jet fighters. The loss of two of the prototypes, in August and September 1949, and the death of a pilot only made things worse. The renewal of interest caused by outbreak of the Korean War, in June 1950, and the ensuing fear of a broader conflict soon petered out. The sole surviving SR.A/1 is on display at the Southampton Hall of Aviation. This aircraft seems, however, to belong to the Imperial War Museum of London.

Illustrations 4. Photos of the first prototype of the SR.A/1 taken in late July 1947 during test flights made off Cowes, Isle of Wight, England, near the Saunders-Roe factory. (Aeronautics, November 1947, pp. 90 to 92)

Illustration 5 – Photo of the first prototype of the SR.A/1 taken in late July 1947 during test flights made off Cowes, Isle of Wight, England, near the Saunders-Roe factory. (Aeronautics, November 1947, p. 90 )

Given the lack of significant Canadian context for the Beryl and the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation’s limited storage space, I concluded that this British engine would be a good candidate for de-accession, within the collection rationalisation project of the corporation. I made this case to a few colleagues at the museum in late July 2014 and contacted the Manchester-based Museum of Science and Industry to see if it might be interested in acquiring a jet engine designed only a few kilometres outside its doors. For one reason or other, the museum could not get back to me.

In early September 2014, while gathering information for a corporate monograph on the history of the Canadian aircraft industry, I came across a three paragraph article, entitled “Turbojet Gift,” published in the July 1953 issue of the Canadian monthly magazine Aircraft. The first two paragraphs are worth quoting at length:

“This month two turbojet engines will arrive at the University of Toronto, a gift to the Mechanical Engineering Department from Britain’s Ministry of Supply.

This gift is the result of a request made to the Ministry some time ago by the University. The two engines – a Rolls-Royce Derwent I and a Metropolitan-Vickers Beryl – will be used for study purposes. They made the trip to Canada from the U.K. aboard the HMCS Magnificent.”

Illustrations 5 – Photos of the first prototype of the SR.A/1 taken in late July 1947 during test flights made off Cowes, Isle of Wight, England, near the Saunders-Roe factory. (Aeronautics, November 1947, p. 91)

Illustration 6 – Photo of the first prototype of the SR.A/1 taken in late July 1947 during test flights made off Cowes, Isle of Wight, England, near the Saunders-Roe factory. (Aeronautics, November 1947, p. 91)

Duly intrigued by this piece of news, I re-contacted the colleagues I had talked to and went looking for additional information. I also sent an email to the University of Toronto’s Department of Mechanical Engineering to see if it had anything on the Rolls-Royce Derwent and the Metropolitan-Vickers Beryl. My contact found nothing but was kind enough to contact the university’s Archives and Records Management Services. The people there have yet to find anything.

Illustration 6 – Photos of the first prototype of the SR.A/1 taken in late July 1947 during test flights made off Cowes, Isle of Wight, England, near the Saunders-Roe factory. (Aeronautics, November 1947, p. 92)

Illustration 7 – Photo of the first prototype of the SR.A/1 taken in late July 1947 during test flights made off Cowes, Isle of Wight, England, near the Saunders-Roe factory. (Aeronautics, November 1947, p. 92)

My efforts closer to home were not all that successful either. This being said, according to the July 1953 issue of another Canadian monthly, The Engineering Journal, a professor of Mechanical Engineering, E.A. Allcut, had gone to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to take delivery of the Derwent and Beryl on behalf of the University of Toronto. He was apparently there when there were unloaded from HMCS Magnificent, a small aircraft carrier operated by the Royal Canadian Navy. A quick search revealed that Edgar Alfred Allcut (1888-1979) was the long time (1944-56?) head of the department of Mechanical Engineering. A master’s graduate from the University of Birmingham, in the United Kingdom, Allcut had joined the University of Toronto in 1921, as an associate professor of thermodynamics. He retired in 1956 and was immediately named Professor Emeritus. Allcut certainly had an interesting and varied career. Besides chairing municipal and national air pollution committees, in Toronto and Ottawa, Allcut had sat on the National Research Council’s motor fuel committee. He had also advised the government of Ontario on matters of mine safety.

Before the First World War, Allcut managed the engineering and testing department of a Birmingham company located in the shop used a long time before by steam engine pioneer James Watt. During the conflict, he designed numerous machines for testing the materials used in the manufacture of warplanes and their engines. By late 1918, Allcut was chief inspector of materials at Birmingham-based Austin Motor Company (1914) Limited. In 1921, the company sent him to France to reorganise the farm tractor factory operated by the Société anonyme Austin. Allcut had just set up a consulting engineer practice when the University of Toronto informed him he had a job in Canada.

As interesting as all this information was, it added very little to the history of the Beryl jet engine currently held by the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation. This being said, Allcut’s life story is a textbook example of the ties that bind the many subject areas of the corporation (agriculture, aviation, land transportation, mining, scientific instruments, etc.).

Illustration 7 – Photo of the first prototype of the SR.A/1 taken around 1948. (Aeronautics, 1949 special issue, p. 55)

Illustration 8 – Photo of the first prototype of the SR.A/1 taken around 1948. (Aeronautics, 1949 special issue, p. 55)

Further research provided additional information on the Beryl. A look at KE EMU, the Australian-designed collection catalogue of the corporation, showed that this engine was donated in late January 1969. Interestingly enough, it came with twenty other piston and jet engines. The maker and type of one of the latter (catalogue number 1969.0271) are not known. The little information present in the catalogue led me to hope that the mystery engine could be the Rolls-Royce Derwent I mentioned in the articles published in Aircraft and The Engineering Journal. This would be doubly good news. On the one hand, a mystery artefact would be identified. On the other, the corporation would find itself the owner of one of the earliest types jet engines ever put in production. With a few early exceptions, the Derwent I powered the first jet fighter flown by an Allied air force. Introduced in 1944, the Gloster Meteor was a robust and reliable aircraft. A few Canadians serving in the Royal Air Force piloted this aircraft during the Second World War. Again, however, as interesting as this information is, it adds very little to the history of the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation’s Beryl engine. In any event, the exact location of the unidentified engine has yet to be determined.

Indeed, I do not feel any real need to modify the decision that I had reached before stumbling across the three paragraph article published in the July 1953 issue of the Canadian monthly magazine Aircraft. As interesting as it is, the Metropolitan-Vickers Beryl turbojet did not make any significant contribution to the development of science and technology in Canada. Transferring it to another institution thus remains a valid option.

References:

[1] The compressor of an axial flow jet engine is made up of many rows of blades mounted on a rotating shaft that mesh with non-rotating blades fixed to its internal walls. Interestingly enough, American companies with experience in steam turbine design, i.e. General Electric Company and Westinghouse Electric Corporation, also developed axial flow jet engines during the Second World War. Metrovick itself was born British Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company Limited in 1899. It became a British concern controlled by Metropolitan Carriage, Wagon & Finance Company and Vickers, Limited in 1917.

[2] The Beryl was the first of the precious stones series of jet engines developed by Metrovick. Interestingly, the very first ejection seat delivered to an aircraft manufacturer by Martin-Baker Aircraft Company, Limited, one of major pioneers in the field, went into the Saunders-Roe SR/A.1

[3] A turbofan is a type of axial flow jet engine with a fan mounted in front of the compressor. An open rotor engine, on the other hand, is a type of jet engine with two sets of propeller-like blades mounted at the rear that turn in opposite directions. Individuals, families and groups visiting the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, in Ottawa, will find information on these engines in Green Skies Ahead, a fascinating exhibition inaugurated in June 2011.

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Henry Hughes & Son Deviascope ca 1912

Thanks to the good fortune of a local collector, our acquisition committee recently voted to acquire a rare navigational instrument for the national collection. The deviascope is a practical tool for demonstrating the magnetic forces which cause compass deviation on ships and for instructing students on how to compensate for these forces.

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Magnetic deviation describes an array of compass errors caused by a ship’s own residual magnetism. That magnetism resides in the iron and steel parts of the ship. In wooden sailing ships iron parts like nails, bolts, spindles, anchors, stanchions and chains became magnetized by the Earth’s magnetic field. This caused the compass needle to deviate from magnetic north, with the error varying according to proximity to the pole, among other things. Iron or steel-hulled ships had an additional form of magnetism: permanent or hard magnetism caused by the pounding and riveting of the metal during construction. Each ship had “a unique magnetic signature” but that “could change at sea under the pounding of waves or the shaking of the hull by engines, paddle wheels, or screw propellers.”[1] Also, the magnetism of iron hull plates changed polarity after crossing the equator. Finally, “heeling error” occurs when an iron or steel ship rolls changing its magnetic field in relation to the compass and causing “wild oscillations” of the compass card. [2]

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The complex nature of magnetic deviation made it a difficult but essential subject to teach to mariners. In the 1880s, Captain George Beall, Principal Examiner of Masters and Mates to the Board of Trade in the UK, recognized the need for a tool to help mariners to understand the behaviour of the magnetic compass. In 1886 he introduced his deviascope which was immediately embraced by the marine training community. Instructors and other experts produced manuals and textbooks to go with the deviascope – we have examples from 1943 and 1970 though they apparently go back as far as 1886 – and instrument makers created their own versions of the device to meet the demand from teaching establishments.

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This particular deviascope was made in London by Henry Hughes & Son and dates from about 1912. The current owner, Mr. Murray Shaw, acquired it from the Montreal firm of Harrison and Company in 1978. Harrison was a Montreal firm that made and sold scientific, marine and surveying instruments from the 19th century until it closed its doors in 1978. Mr. Shaw is a collector of instruments and lived in Montreal in the late 1970s. Knowing that Harrison’s was closing, he paid them a visit and asked if they had any objects that they might be willing to part with for a reasonable price. They took him into the basement and showed him the deviascope. It was wrapped in newspapers from 1912 suggesting it had languished there for some time. 
Who knows what they would have done with it if Mr. Shaw had not come along when he did. Thanks to him it has been well preserved for future generations of Canadians.

References:

Babaian, Sharon. Setting Course A History of Marine Navigation in Canada. Ottawa: Canada Science and Technology Museum, 2006.

 Brooks, Randall C. and William J. Daniels, “Surveying Instrument Makers of Central Canada,” Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering. 20 (1993) 1037-1046.

Brown, Charles H.  Deviation and the Deviascope Including the Practice and Theory of Adjustment. Glasgow: Brown, Son & Ferguson, Ltd, 1943.

Gurney, Alan. Compass A Story of Exploration and Innovation. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2004.

Grant, G.A.A. and J. Klinkert. The Ship’s Compass. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd., 1970

Kemp, Peter, ed.  The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979.

[1] Gurney, 216

[2] Gurney, 221, 278. See also Charles H. Brown, Deviation and the Deviascope Including the Practice and Theory of Adjustment (Glasgow: Brown, Son & Ferguson, Ltd, 1943) 53-92; G.A.A. Grant and J. Klinkert, The Ship’s Compass (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd., 1970) 119-192 and Kemp, 382-3.

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Collecting an Aircraft and a Community

From the earliest bush planes to post-WWII aircraft, Canada has a long tradition of aerial photographic surveying and exploration. In the 1970s, the newly formed CCRS (Canadian Centre for Remote Sensing) developed a pioneering remote sensing program, which used both optical and radar-based technologies for imaging the earth. Through the RADARSAT program, Canadians took this enterprise into space.

Recently, the curator of Aviation, Renald Fortier and I proposed the acquisition of an aircraft used for some of the earliest remote sensing research in Canada. Many logistical and financial challenges lie ahead, but research into the potential acquisition continues. From 1974 to 2012, the Convair 580 was the experimental platform for radar remote sensing. It performed research for application development in forestry, agriculture, geology, hydrology, oceanography, ice studies, environmental protection, cartography, oil and gas operations, mineral exploration, and arctic navigation.

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Photo: The present location of the Convair 580 at the former hangar for the Geological Survey of Canada now owned by Environment Canada. The CV 580 has a colourful biography – from Johnson and Johnson executive transport in the 1950s to rugged scientific vessel for the Canadian government from 1974-2012. Photo from www.ottawaairportwatch.ca

In the process of researching this proposal, we were struck by the wide range of people, institutions, disciplines, and regions touched and shaped by this aircraft. Many people heard about our proposal and wrote personal, emotional testimonials about their experience with CV 580. As the research progressed, and we heard from people around Canada and the world, we realized we were collecting an entire community, not just an aircraft and its instruments.

Photo: CV 580 as ambassador. The Convair 580 on a 1981 mission with the European Space Agency. The CV 580 flew in missions in over 70 countries and contributed to earth and space-based remote sensing programs in several countries.

Photo: CV 580 as ambassador. The Convair 580 on a 1981 mission to Europe with the European Space Agency. Over the years, the CV 580 flew in missions in over 70 countries and contributed to earth and space-based remote sensing programs all over the world.

Aircraft, instruments, people and places

The CV 580 represents a fascinating integration of the social and material dimensions of scientific practice. The inside of the aircraft could be a vessel from any scientific voyage in history.

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Photo: Inside the CV 580. The CCRS and industry partners such as MDA custom built almost all the instrumentation for the aircraft.

There were specialized instruments, skills and communications at work, with many changes dependent on the mission, and/or the introduction of new technologies over the years. A few things were fairly constant. There was a station for real-time processing and radar control, a station for monitoring the imagery and many associated recording systems, and stations for flight scientist and mission manager. The crew managed their instruments and stations while coordinating and communicating with colleagues through the vibrations and noise of the aircraft. Research scientist Bob Hawkins flew on many missions with CV 580 since 1978. He recalled the unique social conditions that developed on the aircraft:

“There is camaraderie like I suppose happens in a military unit as everyone focuses on making his part of the task fit and integrate with the rest of the crew.  We are each aware of one another’s foibles yet confident in the ability of the team to come through..” (Personal correspondence, March 2014)

Photo: Doug Percy at the real-time processing station, c. 1990s.

Photo: Doug Percy at the monitoring and recording station, c. 1990s.

For Pilot Captain Bryan Healey, who flew the CV 580 for 34 years, the instruments were delicate passengers in need of special attention:

“The aircraft has operated in the Canadian Arctic and Archipelago out of Inuvik, Frobisher Bay (Iqaluit) and Resolute Bay on many sorties, on ice identification, mapping and behaviour and was a major contributor to the success of the Canadian Ice Service.  For these trips, we have operated in temperatures as cold as -52 C (and high as +45 elsewhere in the world), a bit of a challenge for a CV580 at times not to mention crew and equipment.  In the early years in the Arctic we had electric blankets on certain pieces of equipment so it wouldn’t take more than 4 hours of warm up before flying because the aircraft was often -40 or less inside after cold soaking outside.” [February 2014, correspondence]

Photo: Each piece of equipment had a weight label iin order to create a precise audit of cargo weight for each mission.

Photo: Each piece of equipment had a weight label to create a precise audit of cargo weight and balance of the aircraft for each mission.

Captain Healey also recalls danger for the flight crew working with the early high power C-band transmitter (used to extend the range and quality of the radar imagery):

“Every once in a while this thing would send a lightning bolt
(literally) from the high power conductors to the cage in the rack. We’d get thunder and all, and you could hear it in the cockpit. Of course the back end crew would have the hell scared out of them particularly the first time it happened. Of course there were so many blown IC’s [integrated circuits] and capacitors when this happened the radar was broken and we’d have to go back and land for repair, which was a problem if it happened early in the flight because we’d be over landing weight with the fuel load. Every once in a while Chuck Livingston (the designer of this thing) would have his hands in there and this thing would let go and “Pow”, 50 thousand volts would flash across to the cage. I don’t know how he never got electrocuted. The unit was subsequently retired by Chuck, I’m not sure if it was because of his fear it would blown up the whole radar or it just didn’t prove particularly beneficial to the operation.”

Healey characterizes the CV 580 as a “phenomenal war horse of science and adversity. I use the word adversity with passion because having flown this airplane for 34 years, I know the veracity of this word as it applies to C-GRSC, its’ crew and all the science and people behind it.” [February 2014 Correspondence]

Photo: The heart of the aircraft – one of two Synthetic Aperature Radar (SAR) antennas designed by Chuck Livingston and made by COMDEV, Cambridge, Ontario

Photo: The heart of the aircraft – one of two Synthetic Aperature Radar (SAR) antennas designed by Chuck Livingston and made by COMDEV, Cambridge, Ontario with Dr. Livingstone as Scientific Authority.

In developing the RADARSAT 2, scientists and engineers drew heavily from the CV 580 experience. All of these social and material lessons are now buried deep inside instruments far from the grasp of museum curators. The CV 580 is the last earthly bridge to that history. Frank Carsey, a long-time CCRS user from the Jet Propulsion Lab at Caltech wrote: “Engineers and scientists worked hard, scrabbled for funds, flew out of uncomfortable distant sites, dealt with balky electronics and yet delivered good, insightful science. The CV 580 connects us to those roots.” [Correspondence, March 2014]

References:

Doris H. Jelly, Canada: 25 years in Space, 1988.

Gerard McGrath & Louis Sebert (Eds). Mapping a Northern Land: The Survey of Canada, 1947-1994. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1999

Gordon Shepherd & Agnes Kruchio, Canada’s Fifty Years in Space: The COSPAR Anniversary, 2008

Photo 2. Land Cruiser dans la mine de potasse K1\K2 de la société Mosaic

Collecting a Land Cruiser

Toyota Land Cruisers are the mining industries’ vehicle of choice. In fact, the mining sector is one of Toyota’s largest clients in Canada. The customized vehicles are made on order in Japan. Their engines and exhaust systems are adjusted to meet air quality standards and operate within requirements of the mine ventilation system. The trucks are durable and require minimum maintenance. Since driving in an underground mine can be tricky, the vehicles have to respond fast to speed change, and allow the driver to maintain precise speed under varying loads and turn around on the spot. The Land Cruiser is the longest running series in Toyota’s history. This vehicle is a legend!

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Photo 1. Toyota Land Cruiser at a mining show in Toronto, 2013

I have been trying to acquire a Land Cruiser for the collection since 2009. It was not an easy task. The large trucks barely fit into an elevator. They go down the shaft in pieces; they are assembled and maintained underground; and they are used for decades. At the end of the truck’s working life, miners salvaged any spare parts, and transport the remains of the vehicle back up the shaft to the surface.

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Photo 2. Land Cruiser in Mosaic Company’s K1\K2 potash mine.

Land Cruisers from an underground mine rarely or never make it to an Auto Trader or Kijiji. My best bet for acquiring an operational Cruiser in a good condition was a Canadian distributor. The Land Cruisers are sold in Canada to the mining industry since 1975 by ENS Industrial, located in Saskatoon. At the time when I contacted ENS, the Museum was working on an exhibition on Potash. The exhibition gave us some leverage. I discussed a potential donation of the Land Cruiser to the national collection with ENS in exchange for sponsorship credits in the exhibition. The vehicles are very expensive, and a donation or even a discounted price would be of substantial value for the Museum. ENS expressed interest. However, since the vehicles are made on order, we would have had to wait over two years to move ahead through the priority list.

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Photo 3. Mock-up of a Land Cruiser in the Potash exhibition

The only option was to appeal to the mining industry. As I mentioned above, it is very difficult to remove the Land Cruiser from an underground mine without compromising the integrity of the artifact. I was asking the industry to go into a considerable expense and inconvenience. Fortunately, the Public Affairs Department at the Mosaic Company proved sympathetic to my plight. The Mosaic PA staff listened to my material culture arguments for saving one of the Cruisers and removing it from the mine in one piece.

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Photo 4. Land Cruiser, 1 km underground, in Mosaic Company’s K1\K2 mine

Although it took months, they finally located a decommissioned, but still complete vehicle for the Museum in the K1\K2 mine complex in Esterhazy – the largest potash mine in the world. The Public Affairs staff then arranged with the miners underground to preserve the truck intact until it could be brought to the surface. Finally in October 2013, the Toyota Land Cruiser arrived in Ottawa, complete, functional, and still full of potash dust.

Photo 5. Toyota Land Cruiser in the collection warehouse

Photo 5. Toyota Land Cruiser in the collection warehouse

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The War of the Agitators

I recently made the trip to Fergus, Ontario to conduct some research at the Wellington County Museum and Archives. I am working on a project about Canadian innovations in washing machines in the 1920s and 30s and looking specifically at agitators manufactured and designed by Beatty Bros Ltd. The company was founded in Fergus in 1874 and was based there until 1961. The archives in Fergus have an amazing collection of the papers, advertising campaigns, financial and miscellaneous company records of Beatty Bros. Ltd.

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1920 Beatty washing machine (art. no. 1992.1580)

Upon my arrival I was struck by how beautiful the building was, well-kept and very modern. I was greeted by two of the archive’s staff, Kim and Elysia, both of whom were extremely helpful throughout the day I spent there.

I was looking for any documents, trade literature and advertising material relating to the invention of the agitator. Prior to my visit, some sources suggested Beatty Bros Ltd invented the agitator, while others stated that it was in fact Maytag’s invention and I wanted to clear that up. As it turns out, the agitator was invented by Maytag in 1922 but the patent didn’t hold up so every washing machine company in North America came up with their own version. The historical files in the Beatty Bros Fonds had a lot of documents on the subject including internal correspondence, ad campaigns and what appears to be an internal presentation on the agitators of the competition and how Beatty’s design compares. It was an incredible peek at what I now refer to as the ‘War of the Agitators’ in the 1920s and 30s.

1984.0716.001.cr 090

An agitator from a Beatty washing machine c 1930s (art. no. 1984.016)

Kim also served as the liaison between myself and the museum’s Curatorial Assistant, Amy Dunlop who, despite having 3 exhibits opening that very day generously found time to show me the museum’s Beatty Bros washing machine collection. She took me to the museum’s storage facility where we saw a collection of Beatty washing machines. I was so pleased to see a Beatty Red Star (a wooden tub, lever-operated machine in production from 1914 to the 1930s) intact, as well as a few other machines we don’t have in our own collection. Such a treat!

Beatty Bros instruments are a window into domestic culture and industry in Canada at a transformative time. Amy and I discussed working together in the future on a project involving our complimentary collections of artifacts, archival material and trade literature. My visit was a success through connecting artifacts, history and place. Our files will be greatly enhanced thanks to our colleagues at WCM&A.

BeattyDocs

Copies of documents found during my visit to the Wellington County Museum and Archives.