The Canadians arrive late

In September 1954, Dick Hearn, an ambitious engineer with Ontario Hydro, Canada’s largest electricity utility, made his second trip to England. Ben Lewis, the key Canadian physicist, also came. Accompanying them, or rather ruling over them, were two more senior businessmen, namely Bill Bennett, the president of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, and Geoff Gaherty, head of Montreal Engineering. Lewis and Hearn had been a few months ago. The Canadian and English scientists, engineers, and public servants were pursuing the possibility of Angl0-Canadian atomic collaboration, not a trivial opportunity.

On the 23rd, the diary of Christopher Hinton, the engineer in charge of building and running reactors, includes: “The Canadians turned up this morning – Bennett, Hearn & Gaherty very late as they lost their way. We had an interesting day of discussions – they have changed their plans materially & we shall have to reconsider ours.”

I confess to some mild amusement. I picture the Canadians driving around the British countryside, baffled amidst the pretty landscapes, more and more frustrated as the morning wore on. What if they’d been even later? What if the “interesting day of discussions” had not taken place?


Hinton, Christopher. 1954. Hinton diary 1954. Folder “A.40”, Box “Hinton of Bankside – A.32 – A.45, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, London.