100 Years, 100 People: 1960 - 1969
Exploring thermal energy generation
George Harry Thompson
George Harry Thopmson was president of Calgary Power from 1960 to 1965. He was born in Oxford, Nova Scotia on May 11, 1889. After attending Dalhousie University and receiving a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from McGill University, Thompson joined Canadian Westinghouse Company Ltd. When World War I broke out, Thompson enlisted in the Royal Canadian Engineers where he attained the rank of captain and was awarded the Military Cross.
At his return in 1922 Thompson worked at West Canadian Collieries as an electrical engineer. He joined Calgary Power as an assistant superintendent at Seebe in 1925. In 1931 he became the general manager of the Company. And 29 years later, he became president of Calgary Power.
During his term as president he helped carry out several significant engineering achievements including: Ghost development 1929, Cascade 1941, Spray Lakes 1950, Wabamun steam plant 1956 and Big Bend on the Brazeau. These were all large scale projects that involved hard work and innovation. For example; the Spray Lakes plant upon completion was one of the highest head Francis-type turbine installations in the world, and the Wabamun plant was considered one of the continent’s lowest cost power producers at the time.
Thompson was also involved in the Montreal Engineering Company. He received the Julian C. Smith Medal from the Engineering Institute of Canada “for achievement in the development of Canada” and was also awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Calgary in 1967.
Thompson retired from Calgary Power in 1973 and passed away in Edmonton in 1975 at the age of 85.
Darrel Hansen, best known by his friends and coworkers as “Happy” was born in Lemars, Iowa in 1904. His family moved to Canada when he was only three months old, settling in the town of Barons, south of Calgary.
After graduating in 1928 as an electrical engineer, Hansen started his lengthy career with Calgary Power. His fist job in the company was in the Engineering department. It was here that he became one of the company’s early customer service representatives. As time passed, Hansen was promoted several times. In 1957, he became responsible for all power sales, industrial development, rates and franchises. With his expertise, the company was able to double the sales and the distribution of electrical energy across the province.
In 1969 after 41 years with Calgary Power, Hansen retired as executive assistant, in the Commercial and Marketing department.
Fern Collett started at Calgary Power in April 1928, five months after her sister Margaret joined the company. Fern was the second female employee to join Calgary Power. Like her sister Margaret, she was hired as an accounting clerk and an addressograph operator. An addressograph was an address labeling machine, first patented in 1896. After 12 years in the company, Fern got married and left to concentrate on her family life. In 1951 she returned to Calgary Power to work in the Accounting, Purchasing, and Tabulating departments.
Collett retired in 1969 after 31 years with Calgary Power.
Elizabeth Ann McDonald was hired by Calgary Power on Dec. 18, 1931 as a billing clerk in the Edmonton office. One interesting fact is that at this time all billing was hand written. On March 26, 1936 she moved to Calgary head office and assumed similar duties and her work continued in the accounting department until 1952, when she was transferred to the Payroll section as senior clerk. She married long-time heavy crew supervisor Stan Pickens in Edmonton on August 9, 1958. Pickens retired in February of 1964, having contributed over 32 years to Calgary Power.
Herb Hunter was a Calgary power employee for nearly 40 years. He was born in Didsbury, Alberta in 1906. After finishing his studies, Hunter operated a small electrical business in Gleichen, Alberta. He joined Calgary Power in 1929 at the age of 23. He left the position of assistant local manager in 1941 and became assistant district manager at Wetaskiwin. In 1945 Hunter became district manager at Holden where he stayed until 1953. Shortly after, he became district supervisor at Camrose and held that post until his death on March 25, 1969. He was widely respected in the company for his willingness to help others. He was past president of the Lions Club and the Chamber of Commerce in Camrose as well as Master of the Masonic Lodge and Scoutmaster in Rockyford and Gleichen, Alberta.
He was married to Virginia Hunter and had three children: Sharon, William and Joan.
When Ed Betts started in Calgary Power in 1969, he did not imagine he was going to stay in the company for over 40 years. Ed’s first job was at the Kananaskis plant as a floorman. In early 1970, Ed worked in the Pocaterra and Interlakes plants in the Kananaskis Valley. This job involved travelling from plant to plant using a snowmobile in the winter to reach his destination. “This job was not for the faint hearted as that year brought record snowfalls and we had to do a great deal of snow shovelling and snowshoeing,” said Ed.
By 1971 Ed had chosen his career path in the electrical field and became a technical operator in Seebe. “I lived in the town of Seebe for about 17 years. My wife, Elsie and I raised our two children there. The entire family enjoyed the great outdoor lifestyle of the Seebe and Bow Valley areas,” he added.
In 1986 the Bighorn Facility required year round staffing. Ed took the opportunity to work at the Bighorn facility as senior technical operator and relocated his family to the Rocky Mountain House area. When the transmission and distribution assets were sold in 2002, Ed moved back to the Bow Valley to accept a position as Foreman/Scheduler. In October of 2010, Ed moved out of the foreman role and into project management assisting in implementing the new work management process into Hydro Operations.
“All in all it’s been quite a ride. I had a lot of good times with a few bad ones as well. I made a lot of friends that will last a lifetime. I had a lot of support earlier in my career from superintendants like Ross Taylor, Bill Ketchin, Alister Moore, & Roy Cummings; great friends and leaders. And who knows where I’m going from here.”