History of Lodge 146
In 1948 bread cost 10 cents a loaf and Boilermakers earned $1.40 an hour. The world was emerging from World War II with visions of a bright future. It was during these times that 63 men at the Sparling Davis plant in Edmonton, AB voted to join the National Brotherhood of Boilermakers and Iron Ship Builders of America.
On May 12, 1948, the National Brotherhood of Boilermakers and Iron Ship Builders of America granted a Subordinate Lodge Charter to form Local Lodge 146. National Vice President Mr. Archie Milligan, who spearheaded the organizing drive, installed the charter at a specially called meeting in June, 1948. Mr. Gerry Carr acted as temporary Chairman while the membership elected Brother St. Pierre as the first President and Brother Neil McEwen as the first Recording Secretary.
The discovery of Leduc #1 in February 1947 created an economic chain reaction that brought new opportunities for Boilermakers in Alberta. New refineries and petrochemical plants were under construction and new power plants had to be built to meet the growing industrial needs. Contractors such as Sparling & Davis, Foster Wheeler, T.I.W., Kellogg and Burns & Dutton were employing Boilermakers from Lodge 146 and so the little local grew. In 1952 Brother Ray Weeden was elected to be the first Business Manager of the Lodge.
Although by this time the wage rate for Boilermakers in Construction had risen to $2.20 an hour the boom was beginning to slow. The economy would remain that way until the early 1960s when construction began at Dow Chemical in Fort Saskatchewan and Wabamun Power Plant. In 1964 construction began on the Great Canadian Oil Sands project in Fort McMurray. It was the world’s first major oil-mining complex and employed a peak workforce of 4,000 tradesmen during construction.
By the end of the 1960s, the Lodge added Business Representatives to meet the needs of a growing membership and discussions began on building a suitable home for the Lodge.
The early 1970s was a period of huge growth for the Lodge. In 1971, the membership endorsed the Executive’s recommendation to purchase our first location at 14705-116 Avenue. In 1972, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Lodge 146 purchased our 1st building for $110,000 and paid off the $70,000 mortgage five years later in 1977.
A Training Coordinator was added to the staff and in February 1972 the first training class was held at the hall. Over the years Lodge 146 has produced many winners of the National Apprenticeship Competition. For example, Kem Fredericksen, National Champion in 1995, went on to become the first Canadian to win the International Championship in Kansas City and Curtis Booth took top honours at the 1998 National Competition.
In July of 1973, the members of Lodge 392 in Calgary voted overwhelmingly to join forces with Lodge 146, with the main Lodge in Edmonton and sub-office, complete with training facilities, in Calgary. The growth continued as construction began on the massive Syncrude Oil Sands project that at the peak of its construction employed 7,900 construction workers. In 1976 the Lodge was granted an extension of its territorial limits to include the District of Mackenzie in the Northwest Territories. By 1978 the rate for Journeymen Boilermakers had reached $12.21 per hour.
The late 1970s and early 1980s saw the economy slide rapidly. After the huge boom of the early 1970s, the recession hit Alberta with a vengeance. New construction rates dropped off sharply and the demand for skilled construction workers diminished. However, the Boilermakers persevered by performing maintenance work on plants they had constructed many years before.
In spite of the faltering economy, the membership continued to look to the future. A computer system was installed in 1982, making Lodge 146 one of the first in Canada to enter the computer age. New training programs were developed to ensure that Lodge 146 members were among the best trained in the country.
The Lodge was able not only survive the downturn of the 1980s, but was able to move forward at a time when many organizations were struggling to stay alive. Much of this can be attributed to the “Can Do” spirit of the Boilermakers. The membership’s reputation of getting the “job done on time, the first time” has won the respect of contractor and client alike. In 1994, the members of Boilermakers Lodge 146 were nominated by Horton C.B.I. and subsequently awarded the International “Can-Do” Spirit award for completing the construction of two storage tanks at Suncor on schedule, on budget and without lost time incidents. Working with contractors and clients, the Lodge continues to expand its horizon to secure the future of its members.
In 2002 our members invested in a world-class training and administrative facilities, in both Edmonton and Calgary, to provide security and stability for Local 146 for many years to come. We purchased our current location at 15220-114 avenue for $6.5 million and paid off the $5 million mortgage five years later on September 3, 2007.
As well, in 2010, the members made the decision to invest in a facility to add to the training opportunities for the Boilermakers of Lodge 146. Two more acres of property were purchased adjacent to the current administration building which allowed for the vision of post journeyman skills training to be achieved by the members of Lodge 146. The Boilermaker Apprenticeship and Mechanical Training Center was opened in 2013 and exemplifies Lodge 146’s commitment to skill development and ongoing training. This facility is close to 60,000 sq ft and will be the core provider of ongoing skill upgrades now and well into the future.
We continue to forge ahead, building for the future with new administrative and training facilities for our Calgary office to better serve our members in the south of the province.
Our “little local” has grown to approximately 5,000 members and we are now the largest Local in the International Brotherhood. We continue to be recognized throughout the industry as having the most highly-skilled and qualified tradesmen and women that can be counted on to get the job done right.
Sixty seven years ago, a group of men saw an opportunity to improve their lives through solidarity with one another. They joined together with others from across North America with the same vision and forged an organization that we can all be proud of. Throughout the years, many individuals have made great contributions to the growth of Lodge 146, sharing their vision, their wisdom and their leadership. Today the membership of Lodge 146 continues to build the future on a solid foundation forged by those 63 men at Sparling Davis.