Our History 1947 - 1956 Building a Vision During the Second World War the cost of labour, equipment and materials required for highway construction increased dramatically - materials by 68 per cent, wages by 45 per cent. Substantially reduced labour productivity also had a negative effect on costs. As a result, many Nova Scotia contractors, who had done no highway work during the war, bid too low in 1946 and 1947; and were on the verge of bankruptcy.
On April 9, 1947 with H.W.L Doane chairing and Gus Comeau as secretary, a group of contractors met in the Lord Nelson Hotel to discuss the industry's problems. The names of those present as recorded in the minutes include many of the legends of Nova Scotia roadbuilding in the post-war period: E.D. Hennessey and W.W. Spicer, Ralph Parsons, H.S. Dunn, Mike McManus, H.H. Latimer and Wayne Boucher, D. MacIsaac, P.F. Law and D. Norman, R.K. MacDonald and D. Chisholm, Don MacKay, Colin R. MacDonald, A.E. MacMillan, Warner Bickle and Thomas Currie.
The contractors felt it would be beneficial to have a permanent organization similar to the Ontario Road Builders Association. A close and friendly working relationship with the Department of Highways would be to everyone's mutual advantage. It would not only advance the interests of the province’s road builders but also help raise industry standards, encourage efficiency and, by the exchange of ideas and expertise, help members keep up to date in their practises.
That evening, back at the Lord Nelson, with the assistance of R.W. McColough; P.F. Law, president of Municipal Spraying and Contracting Ltd.; J.B. Waterhouse, president of Warren Paving Co.; and solicitor J.E. Rutledge, the Nova Scotia Road Builders Association was formed. The meeting authorized an organizing committee consisting of D.F. MacIsaac, M.H. McManus, W.P. Bickle, D.H.Norman, Allen MacMillan and H.W.L. Doane to draw up constitutional by-laws and a proposed slate of officers.
The first meeting of the Board was held on October 14, 1947. The association established operations with two classes of membership: Ordinary (firms engaged in road building and having completed one year's work satisfactory to the Department of Highways) and Associate (firms supplying equipment or materials to contractors). Fourteen ordinary and two associate members are recorded at the first meeting.
As early as that first meeting some concerns arose that would become perennial issues for the Association. Most members felt the Department should call and award highways tenders in the fall, so they would know what work they could anticipate and prepare for during the winter. Specifications and contract agreements were another issue that regularly caused difficulty between contractors and the Department. A contract committee was formed to negotiate with the department on work methods and specification interpretation. An early rental rate schedule had been prepared with the monthly rates based on six per cent of the new purchase price. Members decided to hold an annual meeting to which friends and people involved in the industry would be invited. Membership fees were $1.00 for both ordinary and associate members.
On December 10, 1947, the Association elected its first directors:
President, H.W.L Doane; Vice-Presidents, D.F. MacIsaac and W.P. Bickle; Secreatry-Treasurer, G. Comeau; Executive Members, E.A. MacMillan, D.G. Norman, M.H. McManus, R.E. Parsons, and D.A. Chisholm. Four committees were also established: Membership, Contracts, Public Relations, and Organization.
The first annual meeting and banquet set the tone and standard for what quickly became a tradition. It was held on February 12, 1948 at the Lord Nelson Hotel with 40 invited guests, mostly Highways' personnel and other prominent people. Following contractors' meeting in the morning, engineers joined for the afternoon's activities. Membership by this time had grown to 15 ordinary and 19 associate members. In co-operation with the Nova Scotia Accident Prevention Association, the Road Builders arranged to hold an annual safety competition. Warren Paving Co. Ltd. was the first winner. At the annual general meeting, members voted unanimously that to be a member a contractor should be a Nova Scotia organization established permanently and paying regular taxes in the province.