Robert W. Passfield
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Professional Activities - External

International Awards Committees.

As a member of the Society for Industrial Archeology, Passfield served on two awards committees:

Norton Prize Award Committee, (1997-1999).
Served on the committee in evaluating articles in the Society’s journal, IA: The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology, to select the annual winner of the Norton Prize (now Robert M. Vogel Prize), awarded “ for outstanding scholarship in industrial archeology”.

General Tools Award Committee (2001 to 2003).
As a member of the committee reviewed award nominations to select an annual winner of the General Tools Award for “sustained, distinguished service to the cause of industrial archeology”. In 2003, Passfield chaired the committee, and prepared the citation in recognition of the award winner.

Consulting Work

During his career, Passfield served as a consultant in providing historical research support, and bringing a historical perspective and professional evaluation of historic significance, to a number of projects undertaken in the engineering field outside of Parks Canada.

National Capital Commission (1983).
At the request of the National Capital Commission, Ottawa, provided historical information, historic drawings, and technical information in support of a project to construct a replica of a Durham boat.

Canadian Public Works Association (CPWA)/American Public Works Association (APWA), Spring 1987.
Prepared a chapter on “Waterways” for the joint CPWA/APWA project to produce a history of Canadian public works, which culminated in the publication of Building Canada: A History of Public Works (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988). Support requested by Project Director, APWA, on behalf of APWA/CPWA; and participation approved by Assistant Deputy-Minister, Parks Canada.

Welland Canal Preservation Association (WCPA), July 1987.
In 1987 an extant timber lock, Lock #24 of the First Welland Canal (1824-1833), was excavated at St. Catharines, Ontario, and recorded by Historica Research. After the excavation was completed, Passfield served as a consultant in providing historical and technical information input into the analysis of the lock design features of the excavated lock, which was examined during a site visit.

Giffels Associates Limited, Consulting Engineers and Architects (Rexdale, Ontario), November 1993.
Invited by the consulting firm to comment on the environmental impact, from a heritage perspective, of three proposed alternative designs for twinning the Blue Water Bridge between Sarnia, Ontario, and Port Huron, Michigan, as part of a Federal Environmental Assessment and Review Process in Canada. Prepared a brief commentary assessing the three alternative designs from a heritage policy perspective, from site aesthetics considerations, and according to the degree to which view scapes of the existing historic structure would be obscured.

Transport Canada, December 1997.
At the request of Transport Canada, prepared a report in support of a federal government review of a planned expansion of the Peace Bridge linking Fort Erie, Ontario, and Buffalo, New York: viz. “Cultural Resource Impact Considerations: The Peace Bridge Project, Fort Erie, Ontario”, December 1997, 19p. illus. The report assesses the impact of two alternative bridge construction proposals on historic cultural resources at the proposed bridge approaches in Canada. The report was distributed by Transport Canada to the local Member of Parliament, to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (the Ministry sharing responsible for environmental impact assessments for bridges spanning navigable waters), to the Canadian Embassy in Washington, and to the international Peace Bridge Authority; and was cited by Transport Canada as being “of great benefit to the federal government in dealing with the issue of additional capacity at the Peace Bridge” .

Québec ministère des Transports, Direction des Structures, August 2000.
At the request of the Ministry, served as a consultant in commenting on a proposed provincial historic bridge recording form, and on an evaluation system for historic bridges.

Cadw:Welsh Historic Monuments, August 2001.
Received a request for technical information on Parks Canada’s experience with grit blasting, priming, and painting cast iron components on canal structures, to aid Cadw in determining the best conservation approach to adopt in undertaking a planned painting of the historic Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Wales. Passfield consulted with heritage conservation experts within Parks Canada, and in the United States, and forwarded a summary of technical information on the composition of the primers, paints, and painting processes, that have worked the best in North America in conserving cast iron canal components.

Consulting Historian, Heritage Conservation Directorate, Public Works and Government Services Canada, January-February 2009.
This consulting work was undertaken to enable the Heritage Conservation Directorate, PWGSC, in support of Engineering Assets Strategy, PWGSC, to assess the heritage value of 21 engineering assets slated for divestiture. Its purpose was to increase the understanding of the engineering assets, which were no longer required for program purposes, and to position PWGSC to contract out the preparation of heritage evaluations of its engineering assets. The resultant report – Robert W. Passfield, Evaluating Heritage Value, Engineering Assets Assessment Project (March 2009) – provided Criteria of Evaluation for assessing the heritage value of engineering assets at a national level; and a standard format Heritage Value Report template, as well as Explanatory Notes that provided guidance for the identification, evaluation, and recording of the heritage value of an engineering asset in the template report format. In addition, another section of the report, Existing Heritage Designations, identified existing national and/or provincial heritage designations, and engineering society heritage designations, that pertained to any of the 21 engineering assets under study, and noted the particular heritage value recognized by these other agencies. A final section, Engineering Assets under Review, provided basic data on each of the 21 engineering assets under review, and a preliminary screening. On the basis of the consultant`s report, PWGSC ultimately decided to let a contract for a heritage value assessment of fifteen of the twenty-one engineering assets under review.

Consulting Historian, Heritage Conservation Directorate, Public Works and Government Services Canada January-October 2010
In January 2010 Passfield was engaged as a Consulting Historian by the Heritage Conservation Directorate, PWGSC, to provide a quality review of the work of a 3rd party contractor undertaking the preparation of a heritage evaluation for 15 engineering assets. The engineering assets under evaluation were located across Canada, and included an historic dry dock complex, a number of interprovincial bridges of various types, a low-head hydro-electric power generating site, a marine railway dry dock, a moveable dam/canal lock/machine shop-powerhouse complex, several low-head water control dams, an interprovincial  bridge crossing containing seven bridge structures, and ten bridges of various types on a section of the Alaska Highway engineering asset maintained by PWGSC.

The engineering assets heritage assessment project contract was let by competitive bid to URS Canada Inc., Consulting Engineers & Architects (Markham, Ontario), and subsequently, owing to the time constraints in force, several of the engineering asset heritage evaluations were sub-contracted to Golder Associates Inc. (London, Ontario), and to Contentworks Inc. (Ottawa). The Heritage Value Reports were prepared by the contractors utilizing the Criteria of Evaluation, the recording Template, and Explanatory Notes guidelines, designed earlier by the Consulting Historian for the recording and analysis of the heritage value of engineering assets.  During the period January-October 2010, Passfield provided a quality review of the contractors’ draft report submissions at the 90% and 99% stage for all 15 engineering assets under evaluation; and the Heritage Conservation Directorate, PWGSC, was responsible for overseeing and coordinating the engineering assets heritage value assessment project, as well as for the earlier contracting and scheduling.

Heritage Presentations.

Over his profession career, Passfield made a number of audio-visual presentations, related to his work at Parks Canada, to historical societies, heritage organizations, and on one occasion a graduate school program.

Historical Societies of Eastern Ontario, 1982.
Five audio-visual presentations on "Building the Rideau Canal", were delivered during the Rideau Canal Sesquicentennial Year. Presented at Heritage Ottawa, Carleton University, April l982; Glengarry, Stormont and Dundas Historical Society, Cornwall, Ontario, June l982; Carleton Board of Education, Sir Robert Borden High School, Ottawa, June l982; Ottawa Historical Association, Carleton University, October l982; and Rideau Township Historical Society, Manotick, Ontario, November l982.

Eastern Ontario Archivists' Association, Carleton University, November 1984.
Presentation on "Historical Research and Industrial Archeology".

Friends of the Trent-Severn Waterway, Peterborough, Ontario, October 1989.
Presentation, "Technology Transfer: The Peterborough Hydraulic Lift Lock".

Historical Society of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, November 1992.
Presentation on "The Military Significance of the Rideau Canal".

Architectural Studies Program, Carleton University, School of Graduate Studies, March 1994.
Presentation on "Industrial Archaeology".

Media Interviews

Over the years Passfield has been interviewed on radio and television, and has served as a consultant on a made-for-television program on subjects related to his work at Parks Canada.

Rideau Canal Sesquicentennial Year, 1982.
During the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the Rideau Canal, Passfield was interviewed on a number of occasions by the media.

Radio: Interviewed on CBOT ; and CFMO (taped five Q & A segments).

Television: Interviewed on CHRO-TV, and Global-TV, and more extensively for a CJOH - T.V. film production, "Rideau Reflections: The First l50 Years".

More Recent Interviews

Television Series: “Modern Marvels, The St. Lawrence Seaway” (Los Angeles: Actuality Productions, June 2004); produced for the History Channel. Passfield was interviewed, and served as the Historical Consultant for the program on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Television Documentary: Interviewed for “ The Rideau Canal” (CPAC, Canada’s Political Channel, April 2005).

Heritage Activities

Ottawa South History Project: In the fall of 2008 Passfield provided support for the Ottawa South History Project in producing an historical overview of an early effort by the federal government to beautify the nation's capital through the work of the Ottawa Improvement Commission. The overview expounded on the layout and design character of a parkway developed from Rockcliffe Park to the Experimental Farm at Dow's Lake, as well as the location and character of the access boulevards and urban parks constructed by the Commission in Ottawa during the period 1899-1914. The overview was published in the community newspaper: viz. "The Government Driveway", OSCAR, The Ottawa South Community Association Review, vol. 36, no.9, October 2008, pp. 18-19.

UNESCO World Heritage Committee
ICOMOS Desk Review, August 2016

At the request of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) -- the advisory body to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee -- a desk review was prepared for a landmark engineering structure that a State Party had submitted to UNESCO for potential inclusion on a revised version of that nation’s ‘Tentative List’ of projected future nominations to the World Heritage List.

The anonymous desk review was prepared as part of a process by which ICOMOS draws on the advice of outside ‘experts’ in advising State Parties on the outstanding heritage properties within their respective countries that are considered suitable for nomination to the World Heritage List. The Preliminary World Heritage Justification, which was submitted by the State Party, provided a number of themes which pertained to the physical properties of the landmark engineering structure, and conveyed its purported outstanding universal value in keeping with Criteria i and iv of the World Heritage Criteria for Cultural Properties.

The desk review analyzed the appropriateness of the proposed themes -- under the World Heritage Criteria for Cultural Properties – and examined the significance of the design and aesthetics of the engineering landmark structure in the evolution of its structural type. A brief commentary was provided on the integrity and authenticity of the historic engineering structure, inclusive of its design, original fabric, function and use, its setting and landmark status, and the maintenance system in place to conserve the landmark structure. Comment was provided as well on the outstanding engineering achievement embodied in the historic engineering landmark and its suitability for inclusion on the revised ‘Tentative List’ of the State Party for a future nomination to the World Heritage List. Lastly, several different themes were recommended for analysis by way of evaluating the outstanding universal value of the historic engineering landmark.

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