Underhill Partner Honored with Engineering Fellowship

June 13th, 2014
Whitehorse, YT

The Partners of Underhill & Underhill and the staff of Underhill Geomatics Ltd. congratulate Carl Friesen, P.Eng., CLS, BCLS, FEC on his being bestowed with the honour, “Fellow of Engineers Canada”, or FEC. He received this honour for his noteworthy service to the engineering profession. He becomes the 13th engineer in the Yukon, and the second engineer from Underhill Geomatics Ltd. to be so honoured (the first was Tim Koepke, P.Eng., CLS, BCLS, FEC). Congratulations Carl!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In 2007, Engineers Canada created the Engineers Canada Fellowship to honour individuals who have given noteworthy service to the engineering profession. Being bestowed with this honour, means that these dedicated individuals have the privilege of using the designation of “Fellow of Engineers Canada” or FEC or of “Honorary Engineers Canada Fellow” or FEC (Hon.).

UAV Mapping Team Takes Flight

Seems UAV drones are all the buzz these days, and according to Chris Cryderman, President of Underhill Geomatics Ltd., they fill an important niche. Says Cryderman, “Before UAVs, mapping was done either via conventional aircraft with expensive aerial cameras and LiDAR, or by surveying on the ground. Each approach had its advantages. Aerial mapping covered very large areas with high accuracy. Surveying on the ground was better suited to smaller areas, but the accuracy was much higher. Small UAVs fall in between these two. Now, areas of several square kilometres can be mapped economically, and accurately, with an aerial drone.”

“UAVs are a game changer, and there are a couple of approaches you can take to get into the game”, says Bill Mah, Underhill’s chief drone pilot and engineer. According to Mah, “A number of systems are now available off-the-shelf. These turn-key solutions get you up and running with little intellectual investment, but at a much higher capital cost. There is also a large educational research and DIY hobbyist community that has pursued open source drone hardware and software development. This second approach is what we chose to build on. We found it was more economical, and provided greater flexibility. By developing the system ourselves, we really understand the issues, and how it all works.”

All of these small UAVs, and their payloads, are a compromise. Generally, the smaller the aircraft, the faster it must fly, and the smaller the payload must be. Underhill’s approach first defined an optimal payload (camera) that could do the work, and then an airframe was chosen that could easily carry it. They needed a two metre wingspan aircraft to fly the camera. This size of aircraft also had the advantage that it could fly and land quite slowly. The aircraft provided better flexibility in photo collection than its smaller “off-the-shelf” counterparts and provided greater control, and safety, in mission execution.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Insurance providers will tell you that you are likely to suffer a total loss of your UAV in as few as six flights. This fact really impacts how much of an investment you feel comfortable losing, and how you amortize that cost. “The DIY approach means we can keep the cost down to a minimum, while ensuring that we have a payload that can produce the goods.” says Cryderman.

These UAV drones are actually flying robots. They have a computer autopilot that can be programmed to tell the drone where to fly. With the autopilot, the UAV can then fly the programmed mission autonomously. This does not negate the need for a pilot. On the contrary, Transport Canada regulations treat drones much like conventional aircraft – but with greater restrictions. Public safety is the prime concern. In the event of a problem, a pilot must be able to take over flying from the computer – in an instant. This means the drone must not only be within line-of-sight of the pilot at all times, but he must be able to assess its flight status, and chose an appropriate course of action, in any situation. The Underhill system was designed with this in mind. Redundant backup control systems are built in to help minimize the inherent risks.

Aeroquest Mapcon Inc. has been pursuing a parallel UAV program to Underhill but using an Octo-copter (an eight rotor aircraft) instead of a fixed-wing aircraft. With its vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capability, this UAV excels in smaller, more confined airspace, while still being usable for larger areas. The Mapcon and Underhill systems are complimentary, both optimized for their chosen missions. “With the different UAVs, we can select which is better suited to a particular situation,” states Andrew Dawson, General Manager of Aeroquest Mapcon. Aeroquest Mapcon also brings their considerable aerial survey and photogrammetric experience to the fray. “We are excited about the establishment of the UAV division within Aeroquest Mapcon. It opens up new markets for our aerial mapping service offerings.” says Dawson.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Any mapping product produced from conventional digital aerial photography can be produced from drone photography. Orthophotos, digital elevation models, LiDAR-like point clouds, line mapping, multi-spectral imaging, and volume computations are all possible.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The above orthophoto can be viewed overlaid in Google Earth. It is about 450 Mb which, while much smaller than the original (2Gb), is still pretty big. If you load it, you will notice a difference between our photography and Google’s imagery at the northwest corner. The Google imagery is out about 22 metres east-west. This can be confirmed by loading the Canada Lands Survey System KML file of the property boundaries in the area. Our othophoto fits this data quite well.

The following Adobe Acrobat 3D pdf contains an interactive model of the above mapping project. If you are not familiar with viewing 3D pdfs, you must first place your cursor over the image and select “click to activate…”. Then, in the yellow pop-up menu bar, select “Options”, and “Trust this host one time only”. Finally, place your cursor over the image and select “click to activate…” again.

The model should now load. Once loaded you can:

1. Hold down the left button of your mouse to rotate the model,
2. Zoom in and out with the scroll wheel
3. Move the model by holding down both “Ctrl” and the left mouse button.

You can make the whole image area larger by  using “Ctrl +” in Windows.

This may not work in some browsers. You can download the file here(40Mb).

According to Mah, “The future is bright for drones. There is so much development activity going on…you really have to keep on top of it. Who knows where this will lead in the next few years? It can only get better, and we’ll be ready for whatever arises.”

Celebrating 30 Years with the Canadian Home Builder’s Association Central Interior

Recognizing the outstanding dedication of it’s members, the Canadian Home Builder’s Association (CHBA) Central Interior had their first ever Awards of Excellence/Milestone Awards dinner meeting May 14th at the Coast Kamloops Hotel & Conference Centre.

The evening provided the opportunity to recognize long standing members, as well as the opportunity to recognize member’s dedication to the association. Underhill Geomatics Ltd. was honored as a 30 year member. Chris deHaan (far left in the photo) accepted the award for Underhill.

Underhill’s association with the CHBA Central Interior originated with Bartell & Fiedrich Land Surveying Inc. which was purchased by Underhill in 2002.


The Underhill Centenial Celebration Wraps Up in Vancouver

November 15th, 2013

So, finally the fun had to come to an end at the Vancouver Convention Centre, just a few blocks from where it all started 100 years ago. Several hundred people attended from as far away as Calgary and Whitehorse.  Bill Chapman brought some old 1912-1913 field books from when Underhill co-founder Jim Underhill was a survey student at his father’s company (which at that time was called Elliott & Hewitt ).

The celebration was held in the presence of The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. Included amongst the distinguished guests were: Mr. Mike Thompson, Surveyor General of British Columbia, Mr. Ian Lloyd, President of the Association of British Columbia Land Surveyors, and Mr. Alan Zacharias, City Surveyor for the City of Vancouver.

Many members of the Underhill family were in attendance including Helen Underhill, the wife of Clare Underhill. Helen recently celebrated her own Centennial.

Angela deHaan was the Director of Ceremonies and introduced the Lieutenant Governor. Her Honour and the official party were piped in. Her Honour then delivered her opening remarks. Following Her Honour were: Mr. Mike Thompson the Surveyor General of British Columbia, retired Underhill partner Bruce Underhill, son of co-founder Clare Underhill, and current Underhill President Chris Cryderman.

Mr. Thompson also made a presentation of “out on the land, by Jorgensen” to Senior Underhill partner, Ivan Royan, on behalf of the Land Title and Survey Authority of BC, congratulating Underhill & Underhill on its 100th Anniversary.

Thanks go out out to Lynn Renaud, the Underhill staff, and their families in Vancouver for a well organized and fun time.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Amongst the invitees who were unable to attend was The Honourable John Allen Fraser. Mr. Fraser was the first elected speaker of the House of Commons but more importantly to us, he was the nephew of Horace McNaughton Fraser who was Clare and Jim Underhill’s first partner. Horace was with the company from 1922 to 1947. During that period, the company was known as Underhill, Underhill & Fraser. John Fraser worked summers surveying with his Uncle Horace while he was studying law at UBC and has shared many fascinating and colourful tales of those days.

Related News:
Looking Back – The Underhill 100th Anniversary Celebration hits Kamloops
Looking back on the Underhill 100th Anniversary kickoff in Whitehorse
Burnaby company maps B.C.’s past – Burnabynow
Underhill celebrates 100 years of surveying – VRCA News Supplement – Business in Vancouver
Professional Adventurers Celebrate 100th Anniversary – GIM International Magazine

Looking Back – The Underhill 100th Anniversary Celebration hits Kamloops

August 9th, 2013

The Underhill Centennial tour made a stop in Kamloops, on its way from Whitehorse to Vancouver.  Boy, was it hot! Cocktails at Thompson Rivers University for the Friday night celebration with friends and staff.  Amongst the speakers was Chief Shane Gottfriedson of the Tk’emlúps Indian Band, who spoke about the history of the Secwepemc people in the area.

Saturday, a historical tour of Tranquille on the Lake  followed by RibFest and Hot Nite in the City.  A great time was had by all.  Thanks go out out to Val Royan, Angela deHaan, and  the Underhill staff in Kamloops, for a well organized and fun time.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

From the Kamloops Daily News:

The company, which acquired a Kamloops office by purchasing another company in 2002, is holding a celebration hosted by local partners on Friday at Thompson Rivers University.

Ivan Royan, Kamloops operations manager, said the company has evolved through a succession of changes over the years. The Kamloops branch was part of a company sold by the original owners in 1952.

“Fifty years to the day (in 2002), we bought it back,” he said.


Underhill client Tim McLeod talks to CBC radio about the Tunnels of Tranquille:

Related News:
Underhill Surveys Tranquille Farm Corn Maze

Underhill supports Children’s Hearing and Speech Centre

Underhill Geomatics is a proud sponsor of the third annual Family Concert, a fundraiser for the Children’s Hearing and Speech Centre of BC.

The Centre is the only school in Western Canada that teaches deaf and hard of hearing children to listen and to speak – for themselves. With access to the right technology and teachers, deaf and hard of hearing children are learning to find their voices and fully integrate into the mainstream hearing world.

Underhill became involved with the Centre through one of our employees, whose daughter was diagnosed with hearing loss at birth and has attended the Centre since she was three months old. Now almost two years old, she is talking and learning just like any hearing child her age.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This year’s concert will feature Vancouverite Jennifer Gasoi, fresh off her win for Best Childrens Album at the 2014 Grammy Awards. Gasoi’s intelligent, jazz-based songs are winning over music lovers of all ages and earning her widespread critical acclaim.

Gasoi will perform a morning and an afternoon show on April 12, 2014. Proceeds from the event will go to the Children’s Hearing and Speech Centre.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit http://childrenshearing.ca

This video has been viewed 304 times.

Follow the Children’s Hearing and Speech Centre on Facebook.

Looking back on the Underhill 100th Anniversary kickoff in Whitehorse

April 5th, 2013

The Underhill Centennial celebrations were kicked off last year in Whitehorse at the beautiful Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre, on the Yukon River. Several hundred people attended from as far away as Kamloops, and Vancouver.  Pat Ross (former Underhillion) now with of the City of Whitehorse MC’ed the event, and there were numerous speeches including The Mayor of Whitehorse Dan Curtis along with Councillor John Streicker(another former Underhillion), and the Premier of Yukon Darrell Pasloski.  Retired Underhill partners Bruce Underhill, Terry Bidniak, and Tim Koepke were on hand.  Underhillions that spoke included Bruce, Tim, Chris Cryderman, and Carl Friesen. Underhill blue scarves were presented to all past and present employees. Thanks go out to Robyn Tripp-Friesen for a spectacularly organized event.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tribute to the First NationsCarl Friesen

In organizing this event, I wondered how best to acknowledge the First Nations. Possibly by prayer or
drums, but in the end I wanted to say something myself.

In what has been the last 26 years of my career I have worked side by side with the aboriginal peoples of
the north and I wanted to thank them on behalf of myself and my firm, for all of the incredible
enjoyment and camaraderie we have had in working side by side with them on the land claims and
economic development activities on their land.

Today, the communities of the north are on a path to success. Nunavut, Inuvialuit, Gwichin, Sahtu, Tulita
and most importantly to me, the 11 First Nations of Yukon have all completed their land claim surveys,
all of which Underhill has participated. Those surveys have taken me and our staff to some of the most
wonderful places on earth. I hope that the small part that these surveys will serve in assisting the First
Nation peoples to fulfill their self‐Governance and economic development aspirations they may have.
I would like to particularly acknowledge the Ta’an and Kwanlin Dun First Nations upon whose land we
are now. Fittingly, we are holding this event in this wonderful Cultural Centre of Kwanlin Dun First
Nation that our firm also had a hand in building. It is also fitting that we hold it in a Kwanlin Dunn facility
as our current First Nation employees are of the Kwanlin Dunn First Nation and proudly I can say that,
my son currently works with the Kwanlin Dunn.

I would also like to single out for particular thanks, John TomTom of our firm. John, in the 15 years of
work with us, in my mind exemplifies the hard working spirit of the northern peoples.

To the many community people of Yukon that we have worked with, many of whom are here today, it
has been that 26 years of camaraderie while performing the land claim surveys, that I personally wish to
thank you for.

Mahsi cho

Related News:
Letter from the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors – Underhill & Underhill Centennial
Underhill Geomatics Ltd. 2013 Centennial – Tribute in the Yukon Legislature
100 Years Strong – Yukon MINING & EXPLORATION Directory – Yukon Chamber of Mines
Meagan Gillmore of the Yukon News discusses Underhill Centennial with Carl Friesen
A New Day with Sandi Coleman, on CBC North, discusses Underhill’s Centennial with Carl Friesen
Underhill Commissions a Snow Sculpture for 2013 Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous