Corner Post
Quarterly Newsletter of the Saskatchewan
Land Surveyors
Association

Fall, 2018

This photo was taken near Webb in May 2017 of Camara Miller assisting in putting out embers of a grass fire.  Our crew heard a lightning strike about a mile away and soon after could see smoke.  Thankfully there was enough help in the area between farm equipment, grader and oilfield operators and that the winds weren’t so strong that this fire was put out within a couple of hours.  There was no significant damage or injuries caused by this fire.  Unfortunately a couple of grass fires in the area in October resulted in some local ranchers getting severely burned after getting caught in a grass fire when the winds turned on them and howled at over 75km/h.  Another volunteer hauling water was fatally injured in a vehicle accident due to the smoke causing reduced visibility. This serves as a reminder of how powerful mother Nature is, and how fast the conditions can change.

 Submitted by Gerald Johnson

 

Alexander “Biddy” Livingstone McLennan

By Mike Waschuk

I was sitting in Florida and as the temperatures were cool for about a week I decided to go through our online biographies of our members and add information to some of the incomplete biographies. After researching some of our oldest members I realized a few things; given the tools Jack Webb had when he was working on these biographies he must have put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to do what he did; some of our old members have very interesting histories and there are a lot of helpful and nice people out there. The following is one of the interesting biographies I did research on.

 

I went onto our website and looked at the existing biographies and came across #050 Alexander Livingston McLennan. There were three bullet points underneath his name. He was born May 10, 1878; DLS Commission in 1905; SLS Commission in 1912 and a note: (Any additional information would be appreciated)

 

At the time, I thought this would be a good one to tackle. Surely there could be more information found on this surveyor. The internet is a powerful tool but can also lead you on goose chases. I went onto NRCan’s website and found no plans or field books under McLennan. I contacted Raelyn Armbruster at ISC and there were no plans of record there either. Why would a person have two commissions and not have a single plan to his name? Strange. I then stumbled on an article from ‘The Ontario Land Surveyor, Summer 1983’. The article was on Roderick M. McLennan (Civil Engineer, Land Surveyor, Explorer). I skimmed through the article and discovered, about Roderick’s family, that “All four boys became engineers; one of them was also a Dominion Land Surveyor and worked in Western Canada.” Bingo. This son had to be my guy. I also discovered in the article that Roderick was grandfather to Alex B. McLennan, OLS. After discovering Alex and his wife had both passed away I noticed that he had two children (Heather (Timmins, Ont.)  and Bruce (London, Ont.)). Using the internet I tracked down a Bruce McLennan in London, Ontario. I phoned him at work the following morning. When I asked him about his great uncle Alexander, he wasn’t really sure of who I was asking about but when I said the full name ‘Alexander Livingstone McLennan’, he said “Oh, you mean, Uncle Biddy!” We chatted on the phone and he gave me some much needed background information on ‘Biddy’. He told me that he was a football player at university, was a world traveler and even in his old age was very spry. Ok, this gave me a renewed hope of finding some more information on him.

 

Using the internet, I did some research on the University of Toronto’s archives. I am sure that in 1901 if you had been on the university campus and asked a student or professor about Biddy McLennan they would have replied that on the football field he was a god. More things began to fall into place. Using census records I obtained more information but it was not until I was going through the old field books on ISC’s website that I discovered there was a surveyor A.L. MacLennan. Really?! I was happy but not happy. I contacted Raelyn at ISC; did a new NRCan Plan Search and low and behold plans appeared. I was 99% sure that A.L. McLennan was A.L. MacLennan. How could there be two surveyors in roughly the same era with names so close and if they are the same person, why would you start spelling and signing your name differently? I contacted Ian Lloyd, BCLS (NRCan) and yes there was a A.L. MacLennan who received his DLS in 1905. This date made sense. I emailed Bruce McLennan and told him what I discovered. Bruce replied, “I remember asking my dad when I was a young boy, he explained: 1/2 the family used Mc, 1/2 kept Mac due to some difference of opinion. I have no idea why.” There was more proof found but low and behold, Alexander Livingstone McLennan = Alexander Livingstone MacLennan. Researching various records, I noticed the different spelling of his names as follows: Alex, Alexander, A.L., Livingstone, Livingston, McLennan, MacLennan, McClennan.

 

Before I tell you about Biddy I encourage you to read the very interesting article about his father Roderick. My story is basically confined to the information needed for his biography on our website. More research could be done as I am sure there is a great story looking to be told about Biddy’s later years and about him with his brother Colin as well.

 

Alexander “Biddy” Livingstone McLennan was born on May 10, 1878 in Port Arthur, Thunder Bay, Ontario to Roderick and Helen McLennan. He grew up with three sisters and three brothers. Biddy and his three brothers all became engineers. One of his nephews (Alex B. McLennan) became an Ontario Land Surveyor.

 

Biddy enrolled in the SPS (School of Practical Science) program at the University of Toronto in 1898. He was actively involved in the sports Rugby and Hockey. 

 

These are a just a couple of the many items written in University of Toronto publications:

 

“The senior S.P.S. team will, no doubt, uphold the reputation gained in the last three years, and, with proper management and the absence of such an attack of “swelled-head” as that which laid low the Juniors last year, there is very reason to expect that, for the fourth successive season, the Mulock Cup will remain with the Science Faculty.”

 

The loss of those stalwart wings, “Biddy” McLennan and “Baldy” Campbell, is irreparable, for to their “starry” performances is due, to a great extent, the unique feat of capturing the Mulock Cup three times in succession.”

 

“Alexander Livingston MacLennan, better known as “Biddy”, was born in the town of Port Arthur, Ont., where he resided for three busy years. He then moved to Toronto, where he attended the Public Schools and then Harbord Collegiate. On matriculating, he came to the S.P.S. as the best place to obtain thorough courses in manly sport and Civil Engineering. “Biddy” always took an active part in out-door athletics, and has made himself famous playing inside wing on the Rugby team, in the Autumns of 1900 and 1901. “Biddy” likes to play hockey. In the Winter of 1901, when the great match was played by the 2nd year Civils and Miners against the 2nd year Mechanicals, “Biddy” covered himself with glory and his opponent with battle-scars. Experience prompted him to suggest that a hockey player should have another pair of skates on his shoulders, and castors on his ears. In this position he could not fall so easily, and would also cover more ground. A detailed history of “Biddy” would fill volumes, but, as a right good fellow     and a true friend, “Biddy” is an ideal.”

 

He graduated in 1902 as an Engineer. After graduating he went to work at the York County Engineering Department.  In 1903 he was said to be out West in the Calgary area. He obtained his DLS Commission No. 293 on February 23, 1905.

 

From 1905 into 1913 Biddy worked as a DLS for the Department of the Interior performing mostly township surveys in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

 

Records show that he lived in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for at least a few years. Possibly 1906-1909 as he is listed on the 1911 Census as being back in Toronto.

 

On May 17, 1912, he received his Commission (#50) as a Saskatchewan Land Surveyor. He performed some subdivisions in Saskatoon, Yorkton and Moose Jaw. I am not sure if he had his own firm or if he worked with another surveyor.

 

In 1916 Biddy enlisted into the Canadian Engineers Corps and served overseas in WW1 into 1918. He ended up obtaining the rank of Captain.

 

 After being discharged from the military, Biddy worked with the Department of Soldiers’ Civil Re-establishment to help soldiers returning from the war.

 

From 1920 to 1944 he is listed (most of the years) as a Civil Engineer living in Toronto with his brother Colin. In 1945 he was a right of way agent with Ontario Hydro and then in 1946 until retirement in 1953 he is listed as a civil engineer with Ontario Hydro.

According to his great nephew, Bruce McLennan, his Uncle Biddy was a world traveler, member of the Toronto Lawn & Tennis Club and was a very active gentleman even in his later years.

 

Biddy passed away on May 30, 1962. 

 

“1 final story: when I was a pre-schooler and Uncle Biddy came to visit us in Sudbury (he would have been approx. 77 years old), I greeted him one morning by jumping on him in bed to start his day. The next morning when I went to do the same thing, he had removed the door knob! So, even in his senior years, he exhibited the practical approach that land surveyors always require.” – Bruce McLennan CPA,CMA, CIRP, LIT

 

Submitted by Mike Waschuk