2019 Training House Sponsors Recognized at the CHBA CI Private Reception


Chris deHaan accepts Certificate of Recognition for Underhill Geomatics Ltd. sponsorship of the CHBA 2019 Training House

Kamloops, BC – May 24, 2019 – Sponsors of the 2019 Training House/ Y Dream Home were recognized at the Canadian Home Builders’ Association Central Interior (CHBACI) private reception in Tobiano last night.

The Training House is a 29-year-old program in partnership with Thompson Rivers University that includes the collaboration of professional builders and educators with trades students to build a home with the express purpose of providing real-life training to those working towards a rewarding career within the residential construction industry. The home once completed, was once again sold to the YMCA/YWCA as part of their annual program fundraiser to be raffled off to one lucky winner.

“This unique off-campus, real-life training opportunity would not be possible without the amazing contributions of our local sponsors and we were so happy to have had the chance to acknowledge their shared efforts and give praise where praise was due this evening” says Kelly Reid, CHBA Central Interior President. “We hope members of the public will notice the generous contributions made by our sponsors year after year and turn to them when they are in need of products and expertise for a renovation or new residential construction project”.

Presenting, Diamond and Platinum sponsors were given plaques, Gold, Silver and Copper sponsors were given certificates and the CHBA CI received a plaque from the YMCA/YWCA Board representing their long standing partnership.

Remembering Helen Underhill

Helen Blair Underhill
October 22, 1913 – March 28, 2019

Helen, the matriarch of the Underhill Family, was also known as “Mother, Grandma, Grannie, Great Grannie or GG” to her family and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.

Helen met her husband, one of Underhill’s founding partners Frederic Clare Underhill in 1944 and they were married in January 1945. Helen and Clare’s family grew with the birth of their daughter Patricia, in 1946 and son Bruce, in 1947.

While raising her own two children, and to the present day, Helen had a huge presence in the lives of her step-sons’ families and their many children. All of her 16 grandchildren and many of her 30+ great grandchildren will remember her for her enjoyment and zest for life, sense of humour, and the support and encouragement she has given us all.

Helen celebrated her 100th birthday in 2013, the same year as Underhill’s centennial.

Helen is pre-deceased by her husband Clare, step-daughter Anne, step-sons Peter, Ken and wife Kay, and step-daughter in law Betty (husband David). She is survived by her step-son David and step-daughter in law Eve (husband Peter), her daughter Patricia (husband Roy) and son Bruce (wife Dawn).

We will remember Helen as the inspiration she was to all of us and will miss her dearly.

Remembering James William (Jim) Sharpe

It is with great sadness we at Underhill hear of the passing of Jim Sharpe, BCLS. Jim had a long and storied career at Underhill’s. Jim came to work at Underhill & Underhill after he was introduced to Clare Underhill by his old pupil, Ken Wong, BCLS, in 1955. In Ken’s letter to Clare he wrote:

“Dear Clare,

I am dropping you a few lines inquiring whether you, Jim, Dave, or Art will be taking on an article pupil the coming year. There is here, a young fellow, Jim Sharpe, aged 20, who is very earnest in becoming a qualified Land Surveyor…

… You will find him, as I have, a very energetic, willing, apt, and keen Surveyor. He is prepared to assume any duties required of him, and is available on a moments notice.

Your faithful “Old” Pupil,
Ken Wong”

Jim entered articles in 1956 with W.G. (Bill) Robinson, P.Eng., BCLS, CLS. He was commissioned as a BCLS on April 30th, 1959, along with Jack Parnell. In 1961 Jim and Jack left Underhill & Underhill to start their own firm, Sharp & Parnell. On the retirement of Clare and Jim Underhill in 1964, Jim and Jack returned to become partners in Underhill & Underhill.

Jim was the Vancouver office manager for many years. He retired from the partnership in 1980, and moved to Cranbrook, taking with him Keith Ekman, BCLS. In Cranbrook they formed Sharpe & Ekman. Jim was elected to the Board of Management of the Association of BC Land Surveyors in 1989, and served as president in 1992.  He was awarded Life Membership in the Association in 2001.  Jim, while at Underhill’s, articled quite a number of Land Surveyors into the profession, including:  Tim Koepke, Samuel Maynes, Philip Asher, Keith Ekman, and Martin Schulze.

He will be sorely missed.

Yukoner a recipient of literacy award

Yukon, YT

CBC News - Isabelle Salesse is executive director of the Association of Franco-Yukonnaise, which created a "one-stop shop" for services involving literacy. She is one of 14 Canadians recognized this year with the Council of the Federation Literacy Award. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

CBC News – Isabelle Salesse is executive director of the Association of Franco-Yukonnaise, which created a “one-stop shop” for services involving literacy. She is one of 14 Canadians recognized this year with the Council of the Federation Literacy Award. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

Isabelle Salesse was named one of 14 Canadians this year to receive the Council of the Federation Literacy Award. According to Canada’s Premiers:

“The Council of the Federation Literacy Award recognizes outstanding achievement, innovative practice and excellence in literacy. The awards are presented annually, in each province and territory, to recognize the excellence of educators, volunteers, learners, community organizations and businesses in many areas, including family, Aboriginal, health, workplace and community literacy.”

Isabelle has, throughout her career, focused on literacy in French minority environments. Félicitations from everyone at Underhill’s!

Whitehorse Daily Star – Yukoner among literacy award recipients

CBC News – Yukoner recognized for work promoting French literacy

Canada’s Premiers Announce 2018 Literacy Award Recipients

The Mystery of the J. Underhill Chisel – the Link MAGAZINE – issuu

April 2018

In the April issue of the Association of BC Land Surveyor’s Link MAGAZINE Robert Allen writes on The Mystery of the J.Underhill Chisel. J.T. Underhill was one of the founders of Underhill & Underhill. The chisel was found by treasure hunter David Gunner at Lone Butte Ranch in Ashcroft, BC. Robert’s story follows the trail of a century’s worth of clues to arrive at a compelling explanation for why the chisel ended up where it did.


Carl Friesen Appointed to the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments

April 13, 2018
Ottawa, ON

Today the Acting Minister of Democratic Institutions, the Honourable Scott Brison, announced the appointment of 10 individuals to the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments, an independent and non-partisan body mandated to provide the Prime Minister with merit-based, non-binding recommendations on Senate nominations. Underhill Vice-President, Carl Friesen, was one of 10 appointees.

Carl Friesen, P.Eng., CLS, BCLS, FEC

Carl Friesen, P.Eng., CLS, BCLS, FEC

“I would like to thank these distinguished Canadians for accepting to serve on the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments. The Government is committed to making the Senate more independent and the Prime Minister looks forward to receiving your recommendations to fill Senate vacancies.” ‑ The Honourable Scott Brison, Acting Minister of Democratic Institutions

The Partners of Underhill & Underhill and the staff of Underhill Geomatics Ltd. congratulate Carl Friesen, P.Eng., CLS, BCLS, FEC on his being selected to the Board. Congratulations Carl!”

Press Release – From: Democratic Institutions

Biographical Notes on Members

F. B.(Bruce) Underhill granted the Tim Koepke Award of Merit

March 2018

Victoria, BC.


The Partners of Underhill & Underhill and the staff of Underhill Geomatics Ltd. congratulate retired partner Bruce Underhill, DLS, BCLS on being the fifth recipient of the Tim Koepke Award of Merit. This award was named after Tim and created to recognize individuals who have made an extraordinary contribution to the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors (ACLS).

Long before the actual award (say February 15th) a little soirée was held in Whitehorse.  Titled the “Ernie Cook Night & Underhill Reunion Party”  it brought together Underhillions from the early days of the Whitehorse Office, up to the present.  When everyone who nominated Bruce for the award was in attendance it was pretty hard for them not to spill the beans.  They did.  In a big way. It was a great reunion.  Thanks to Ernie Cook.  We all miss ya!

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The award was announced at the Joint Canadian Hydrographic and National Surveyors’ Conference (CHC-NSC 2018) this March in Victoria, BC. Jean-Claude Tétrault spoke at the presentation from the following:

FREDERIC BRUCE UNDERHILL, DLS #964 (1978), BCLS #528 (1975)

“Bruce” Underhill was nominated by Tim Koepke, DLS (CLS), Bob Gray, CLS and Katie Munroe, CLS to receive the Tim Koepke Award of Merit. The ACLS Council has unanimously granted the award.

FREDERIC BRUCE UNDERHILL, DLS (CLS) #964 (1978), BCLS #528 (1975) was born in Vancouver, in 1947 to the late Frederic Clare Underhill, DLS (#695)(1921), BCLS, PEng and Helen Underhill. He is brother to Charles David Underhill, PEng, BCLS and nephew to the late James Theodore Underhill, DLS (#696)(1921), BCLS, PEng.

Bruce Underhill’s career started with summer work for his father and uncle at Underhill & Underhill in the mid-1960s in the lower mainland. Southern BC transmission line R/W’s in BC’s Cariboo Country and large timber land parcels in the Duncan River valley were the flavour of the day.

In 1966 Bruce attended the University of BC in the Faculty of Science. In 1972 he transferred to BCIT and received a Diploma of Technology in Surveying.

Through the 60s and 1970 Bruce was mentored by his father, uncle, brother and other Land Surveyors in the Underhill firm, obtaining his BCLS Commission in 1975, having Wm. G. Robinson, DLS (CLS), BCLS, PEng as his Master. He joined the Underhill partnership that same year and received his DLS (CLS) Commission in 1978. All through the 70s and until the mid-1980s he travelled and worked extensively throughout BC and Yukon, managing numerous large and small projects too numerous and diverse to list. As one might expect, having been the youngest of a successful clan of Land Surveyors, he was expected to toil and succeed on the toughest and most difficult projects the firm had to offer and succeed he did. All the while his wife Dawn and his two children understood his lot and supported him in his often remote assignments.

In 1984, he relocated to the firm’s Whitehorse Office to assist in developing the firm’s northern operations, joining Tim Koepke, DLS (CLS), BCLS, PEng. In 1986, after Tim’s decision to become a land claim negotiator for the Federal Government, Bruce began managing the Whitehorse office and remained there and in that position until his retirement from the firm in 2008.

Bruce’s resident career in Whitehorse spanned 22 years, where he skillfully guided the continued building of a lasting professional survey enterprise in Yukon. He supervised many large projects involving complex legal issues and detailed logistical planning. He managed and grew the firm’s Whitehorse office to be the largest Land Survey company north of 60°, guiding surveys in Whitehorse and the entire Yukon while also contributing significantly to the firm’s many Land Claim surveys across Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon.

He made many early contributions to the profession under the CLS system and in northern Canada. He is an expert on the Yukon Quartz Mining Act, early Photogrammetric project design and Land Titles Act surveys. His commitment to the highest standard of integrity, client satisfaction and innovative approaches made him a respected surveyor in Yukon.

Bruce’s contribution to the CLS system itself and the ACLS spanned an important development era of Land Surveying North of 60° and evolution of the ACLS to a self-governing profession. He served as Chair of the ACLS Yukon Regional Group numerous times since 1984. He served on the ACLS Council becoming President in 1993. And he continued to contribute to the ACLS on Committees leading up to the ACLS becoming self-governing in 1999 and beyond.

During his many years of practice Bruce served on the Surface Rights Board of Yukon from 1996 to 2005 and on the City of Whitehorse Board of Variance from 2003-2005. Upon his retirement he served as Executive Director of Engineers Yukon from 2008 to 2012 and still serves as an ex-officio member of Engineers Yukon committees.

One of Bruce Underhill’s lasting legacies is his mentorship of many prominent northern Canada Land Surveyors during his career including Carl Friesen, CLS, Bob Gray, CLS, Brian Thompson, CLS, Joe Iles, CLS, Elden Pfeiffer, CLS, Michael Kearney, CLS, Katie Munroe, CLS and Sandy Cooke, CLS. That list includes the majority of the currently practicing CLSs in the Yukon.

In the words of Tim Koepke, CLS, BCLS, PEng:

“One would be hard pressed to find a Canada Lands Surveyor who has made such an extensive and valuable contribution to the profession and to the improvement of our practices in the ever-changing modernization, designed to better serve our clients, government and the public interest.”




Underhill’s Chris El-Araj wins David Thompson Award

Victoria, BC

At the Joint Canadian Hydrographic and National Surveyors’ Conference (CHC-NSC 2018) in Victoria, BC, Chris El-Araj, BCLS of Underhill Geomatics Ltd. was awarded the 2018 David Thompson National Geomatics Award in the category of “Challenging Non Cadastral Survey Project”.  Chris was assisted in the preparation of the poster by Thael Hill, CLS, and Lorelei Smith, BSc, AScT, both also of Underhill Geomatics Ltd. The poster detailed the George Massey Tunnel Automated Survey Monitoring Program installed during bridge test pile driving. Details of the project were reported in Underhill News in July 2016. For further information see: George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project – High-Tech Real-time Survey Monitoring of Test Geotechnical Pile Driving a Success

According to the David Thompson awards website:

“The David Thompson National Geomatics Awards were created to honour the innovation, dedication and creativity of professional surveyors in Canada.

The program is presented by Professional Surveyors Canada and the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors to celebrate professional excellence in the field of geomatics. Named after David Thompson, an explorer and surveyor who almost single-handedly mapped Canada’s vast, unknown interior 200 years ago, these awards represent the pinnacle of work.”

The awards are given out each year at the National Surveyors Conference.


Also at the conference Christopher de Haan, CLS, BCLS gave a presentation on the Survey of Natural Boundaries Using Drones. This presentation is related to the 2017 winner of the David Thomson Award for Innovation in Cadastral Surveying – Christopher de Haan, CLS, BCLS | Lorelei Smith, BSc, AScT Poster – Survey of the Limit of the High Tide of Theodosia Inlet


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Underhill Geomatics Ltd. was also a runner-up in 2017, and was shortlisted and named a finalist in 2011.

Runner-up in 2017 for the David Thompson Award for Innovative Non-legal Survey – G.C. (Carl) Friesen, CLS, BCLS, P.Eng., FEC | Eric Bardin, MSc Geomatics Poster – Eric Nielsen International Airport Obstacle Limitation Surfaces Survey


Underhill was shortlisted for a David Thompson Award in 2011 and ultimately named a finalist in Innovation in Geomatics, and Unusual Application in Geomatics – Christopher Raymond El-Araj, BCLS | Mark Mason, BCLS Poster – 3D Laser Scanning for the Seismic Upgrade of Science World, Vancouver

Ivan Royan Honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award

16th March 2018

Whistler, BC

The Association of BC Land Surveyors posthumously honored retired Underhill partner Ivan J. Royan with it’s Lifetime Achievement Award, at it’s 113th Annual General Meeting in Whistler, BC. The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a member who has contributed many years of valuable service to the public and dedication to the land surveying profession and who is no longer actively practicing land surveying. Ivan is the 21st BC Land Surveyor to receive the award.

The award was presented to Ivan’s widow Valarie Royan by Association President Brian Brown. Valerie was accompanied by her son Stephen Royan. Kelly Stofer, Secretary/Registrar of the Association, introduced the presentation, as follows:

“The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a member who has contributed many years of valuable service to the public and dedication to the land surveying profession.

Ivan Royan was commissioned a land surveyor in the State of Queensland, Australia in 1972. Upon marrying his wife Valerie in 1977, they moved to Vancouver where Ivan joined the firm of Underhill & Underhill, receiving his commission as a BC land surveyor in 1979.

In many surveyor’s careers, there’s a project that stands out. For Ivan, that project was the BC Rail Tumbler Ridge Branch Line which included the survey of the Table and Wolverine Tunnels between 1980 and 1983. Ivan managed seven survey crews running some 30km of rail grade, placing 16 bridges, survey control networks over two mountain ranges, and two tunnels surveyed and driven from both ends to meet in the middle. Tunnels that don’t meet in the middle can end careers, and before the breakthrough, Ivan joked that he had already bought his ticket to South America. He never needed the ticket. Both tunnels met in the middle. They were almost perfect. When it was completed, the 9.6 km Table Tunnel was the longest tunnel in the Canadian Rockies. This was the highlight of Ivan’s career, and his reward was partnership in Underhill & Underhill.

But none of this is surprising. Ivan grew up on his family’s sugar cane farm in Bundaberg, a town in Queensland, Australia. Ivan’s father worshiped the ground, and his hard work resulted in the best cane fields around. He passed this work ethic onto his children. You might say Ivan was raised to serve the land.

Ivan loved coming up with new ways to survey things, and he encouraged young surveyors to come up with new ways of solving problems. Many lunch hours in the old Underhill & Underhill Vancouver office were taken up with Ivan leading some brainstorming discussion on how something could be done different or better. He loved the back-and-forth banter. If someone came up with a crazy new idea, or contraption, Ivan was “all in”. If it fell a little short of expectations, Ivan was the one who would “will it” into working with his persistence, and his “never give up” attitude.

Ivan was instrumental in introducing British Columbia to GPS satellite positioning. It was another “new wheel” with all the problems and headaches. In 1986, Ivan’s photo control survey as part of a Flood Plain Mapping Project in the Kootenays was the first GPS survey to be delivered to the Provincial government. This would lead to more GPS photo control surveys with a newly created consortium of 12 BC land surveying firms for the TRIM Digital Mapping Program from 1987 to 1991.

First Nations Land Claim surveys in the Arctic began in 1986 and Ivan worked for around two decades in the Yukon, North West Territories and Nunavut; producing hundreds of plans.

Ivan’s achievements are numerous. There aren’t many places in this Province he hasn’t surveyed. Ivan was fair, honest, loyal, hardworking, and determined. He never cut corners. There was only one way with Ivan – the right way.

In Ivan’s 38 years of practice in British Columbia, he articled 5 students – Chris Cryderman, BCLS #687, Dave Parkin, BCLS #748, Jason Whale, BCLS #764, Emily Freeman, BCLS #868 and Mark Mason, BCLS #929.
Ivan served on the Association of Canada Land Surveyors council from 2009 through 2014 where he was President for 2012-2013.

After a 4 ½ year battle with cancer, Ivan passed away in June of last year; but the evidence of his work is etched on the land in British Columbia forever. For contributing so many years of valuable service to the public and dedication to the land surveying profession, the Board posthumously presents Ivan Royan with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Val and Stephen, please come forward and accept this award on Ivan’s behalf.”

Following the presentation the Secretary continued with, “I would like to call on Chris Cryderman, President of Underhill & Underhill, to say a few words.”

Chris Cryderman: “Ivan’s achievements were numerous. There aren’t many places in this Province he hasn’t surveyed. In all his work Ivan was fair, honest, loyal, hardworking, determined. He never cut corners. There was only one way with Ivan – the right way. Failure was never an option. It was hard for him to let go of things he was passionate about, and sometimes his pride could get the better of him.

Ivan transferred his work ethic to his boys (Stephen & Anthony). Val says she got more grey hairs over the boys when they were teens than Ivan (he was out of town a lot). Getting Ivan to go on a holiday was like pulling teeth according to Val. It seemed every time they went on a holiday Ivan always seemed to have some job he had to finish at the last minute. Val would have to pick him up at work and drive him to the airport just to get away. It drove her crazy!

In 2016, Ivan finally retired. In typical Ivan style, he decided to go on his dream holiday. He went to Manitoba to help bring in the grain harvest for Val’s cousins Clare and Betty, and their son Derrick. He always dreamed of doing it. Now he had the time. His chance to combine a few thousand acres of grain. Uncle Ivan (the cancer patient) had them working around the clock till 3:30 in the morning on one field. Ivan wanted to keep going but everyone was getting tired. “Best to call it a night before someone gets hurt”, they said. Ivan begrudgingly agreed. That night — it rained. Ivan was not too pleased, “We could have finished it! That’s Ivan. Like a freight train barreling down the track – unstoppable. When there is a job to be done don’t get in his way.

A few days before he passed away Ivan said, “Surveyors have taught me a lot.” For all of the BC Land Surveyors who had the fortune to be acquainted with Ivan please know that he appreciated your counsel, and comradery, as much as you did his. He learned from you, as you learned from him. He was always excited about meeting new surveyors, and would talk about how impressed he was with their knowledge, maturity and professionalism. He loved Surveying like few others, and he loved and respected all those Surveyors who shared even a tiny part of his passion for the craft. He will be sorely missed.”

On “Frostbite and fuel shortages: The logistical challenges of a military operation in Canada’s Arctic – The National Post”

I picked up the newspaper this morning and started to read through it. Flipping the pages while drinking my morning coffee I’m faced with the headline: Frostbite and fuel shortages: The logistical challenges of a military operation in Canada’s Arctic. The photos brought back memories of the late 1990’s of working in the high arctic on the Nunavut Land Claim Surveys. My eyes hit a familiar face. Reading the caption confirms it. It’s Matthew Manik! One of our assistants on the Resolute/Eureka Nunavut boundary surveys in 1998. Now he’s a Master Corp. in the Canadian Rangers, teaching the Armed Forces how to survive in the Arctic.

The 1998 survey is now considered the highest latitude land claim survey in Canada (CLSR registry), it was an historic land claim survey. Boundaries were surveyed on Devon, Ellesmere, and Axel Heiberg Islands. Devon Island was otherworldly, the place where NASA goes to simulate Mars on Earth. Axel Heiberg Island had petrified(more like mummified and freeze-dried) 40 million year old tree stumps. Resolute was like an oasis in the middle of a frozen desert. The Polar Continental Shelf Program was there with their Arctic Logisitics Hub. They had spare everything – unheard-of most anywhere else so far north. We even borrowed one of their helicopters when ours broke down. Eureka was a lot more remote, halfway up Ellesmere Island, 1,100 Km from the North Pole. The most northerly place in Canada where you can still communicate with geosynchronous satellites over the equator. The satellite dish was pointed at the horizon. The only place further north was Alert at the northern tip of Ellesmere Island, the northernmost permanently inhabited place on Earth. Too far north for satellites, their communications came via land-line from Eureka. Quite a place.

All the photos below were taken on the “night-shift”. We learned early, that if you wanted to be efficient in the land of the midnight sun, you needed to work around the clock. Two, 10 hour survey shifts per day. To do it we needed day and night shift crews, two pilots, an engineer who maintained the helicopter between shifts, a GPS processor, and a CAD draftsperson. Fuel for the A-Star was cached all over the place by Twin Otter out of Resolute.

Realizing we were not that far from the north pole, it became something of a half-joking pipe-dream to fit in an expedition to it. “If we have the money. If we have the time.”, I’d say. We were using Twin Otters out of Resolute to cache fuel for our Nunasi A-Star Helicopter. When I broached the subject with the Twin Otter contractor they said, “Yea, we’ve done it.” I was pretty exited. This could really happen! It was short lived. The logistics on the Islands were simple compared to going out and and landing on the arctic ocean at 90 degrees North. “You need two planes because you never know if you are going to have to mount a rescue mission. You’ll have to cache fuel on the ice. It needs a beacon, because the ice and your cache are moving. It’s not so simple.”, the base manager said. That’s the day we lost the pole. Getting to some places in the arctic, despite all our modern technology, is still more dream than logistical reality.