Corner Post
Quarterly Newsletter of the Saskatchewan
Land Surveyors

Councillor Corner

Dan D.L. Codling

SLS, P. Surv.



I volunteered quickly for my turn to write in the “Councilors Corner.” Much like the feared anticipation of the sharp pain from the removal of a bandage, I felt that I should attempt to try and get this over with quickly. I wondered what I could offer the membership. I have only received my commission in 2011; in fact, there are still a large number of practicing members who received their commissions around the same time that I was born.  Then it dawned on me… my total survey experience goes back about 13 years, I doubt that some of these old guys can even remember what happened 13 months ago.  In fact, I’m pretty sure Pat Maloney considers it a personal victory when he arrives back to the correct home at the end of the day.  So, what do I have to fear?? I did ask Carla for some guidance as to what to write about and received none, so here I am rambling on about my trepidations on what I would fill my obligation with. One bit of solace though; I did not receive a quota. So here goes.


I somewhat stumbled into the field of surveying. Love struck, I moved to Winnipeg, following after my new bride, not exactly sure what the future would have in store for me. Only to find out that the University of Manitoba would not transfer my University of Saskatchewan credits; something along the lines of, “It is not in the best interest of the college to give you credit for courses that someone else is willing to pay full price for.”  After a series of events I found myself enrolled in Civil Engineering Technology at Red River College, a program which reaches into a number of different fields of study, one of which is Geomatics. 


I still remember my opening geomatics class and my instructor’s first words, “Welcome to the Art of Surveying!”  That statement always stuck with me and for a long time it seemed counter-intuitive.  I thought of surveying as a measureable science. I had the assumption that you would learn the skills, make the measurements and get the results. There is no gray area. It is either right or wrong.  Keep in mind that I began in this industry with the Total Station and the GPS. I was used to setting up instruments, pressing buttons and having a distance displayed.  I have next to no experience running offset lines and measuring cutoffs.  I have no idea what it would have been like to work with Don Franko during the Grid Road Program, chaining along the roads.  I certainly can’t imagine how Wes Jamieson was able to do such a great job with the chorobates when he was surveying the Roman aqueducts. 

It took me a number of years working under Rob Morrison, to see what  the Art of Surveying looks like. To see that “look” of exasperation in his face as he tried to make measurements fit with plans.  That is the art, the skill, the craftsmanship, the knack, the know-how.  As surveyors we all have the same simple problem; to take a perfect drawing and fit it into an imperfect world. No total station can do it for you.  Repeatable measurements won’t solve it either. It takes experience, knowledge, skill, technique and sometimes a little luck.


Even though I no longer work for Rob, I hope that he can see that his legacy lives on in me. I also hope that the other senior surveyors can see their art living on through the litany of students that they have articled. (Even if their glasses may be covered in cream of wheat)


I’m getting this out a little late so hopefully our Corner Post editor can get this chiseled into the tablets in time for the next edition.