Spotlight on George Carscallen
interviewed 2010.01.12

George Carscallen was born on April 5th, 1935 in Tamworth, Ontario, a village northwest of Kingston. His family moved to Kingston in 1939 where he attended public and high school, and Queen`s University graduating in 1959 with a Bachelor of Applied Science degree.

While at Queens, George had met Mike Overbury, who was now working as a sales engineer with Dunham- Bush. Al Gray was the office and heating sales manager, Mike Overbury handled cooling sales, and George accepted an offer to work with Al doing takeoffs and costing the heating equipment for construction projects available through the Builders Exchange office as his introduction to sales. At that time, mechanical cooling was new whereas all buildings had heating and ventilating systems, heating being mostly hot water convection type but some still using the Dunham vacuum steam design giving George a broad introduction to heating and ventilating design.

Al Gray

Unfortunately by February 1960 the Ottawa office could not support three engineers and George was asked to relocate to the Toronto Plant Engineering Department of Dunham Bush. His role there was to receive orders, prepare shop drawings, and create detailed fabrication drawings. He was told that this would only be a temporary position until things improved and he could return to sales. This did not happen fast enough for George and during his time in Ottawa he had made contact with Gordon Goodkey of Adjeleian, Goodkey Weedmark. He arranged an interview there and accepted a position as a design engineer on September 1st 1960. The office was located in the old Commonwealth building on Metcalfe Street, and engineering drawings in those days were produced with pencil on paper. Occasionally a better standard was required using ink with Leroy stencils for lettering. In 1962, Adjeleian and Goodkey, Weedmark became separate firms but have continued to work very closely with each other.

Early design projects for George included new Change Rooms and Training facility for the Ottawa Football Club at Landsdowne Park, upgrade of steam distribution piping systems at the Civic Hospital, local schools and churches.

The mid 1960`s brought about the decision by Carleton University to relocate to its present site which led to the formation of an architectural and engineering consortium led by Balharrie, Helmer Associates, Adjeleian and Associates and Goodkey, Weedmark and Associates responsible for design of this undertaking.

At Goodkey, Weedmark, the primary personnel were Gordon Goodkey, Stirling Weedmark, George, Mark Clemann, Gerry Patterson and Bob Cornwell with all playing important roles in the design of the new buildings – Tory, Patterson Hall, Library, Steacie, Eating Centre/ Commons, Southam Hall, Loeb – George’s specific projects were the Central Heating Plant, site layout and size of the combined pedestrian and service tunnels including high pressure steam, condensate and compressed air piping distribution systems, Lanark and Renfrew residences. Although cooling equipment was not included in the initial designs, the designs were based upon its future addition - he remembers attending the residence design meetings where he was asked how much warmer the buildings might be if they faced east or west and if trees were planted for shade. He recommended north-south orientation to minimize exposure to the sun and concrete fins to provide shading over windows in lieu of trees, and it still works. Part of the rational for a high pressure steam system was its compatibility to absorption type chillers which would provide a summer load for the steam plant and minimize the electrical requirements in the terminal buildings whenever cooling would be affordable. At one time, virtually all of the buildings received cooling from multiple mini-central absorption type chilled water plants. George`s work at Carleton University continued over the years to include Grenville Residence, Central Heating Plant expansion, evaluation and conversion of the tunnel piping systems and various buildings from the ground water system back to the central plant system and various building upgrades.

Other projects George was involved with were the central heating plant for Riverside Hospital, the central heating & cooling plant for the ADRI Complex, Barrhaven, the high pressure steam distribution from the Tri-Service Hospital central heating plant to the Postal Terminal and RCMP Headquarters, evaluation of the Confederation Heights high temperature water system and modifications to improve summer operating efficiency to mention a few.

One project that George remembers fondly was a 21-storey apartment building on Rochester Street, built by the Ontario Housing Corporation. Traditionally, OHC projects were design/build with loose requirements (number of units and cost) the result of which was buildings that performed very poorly. By an unusual happening, McLean and McPhadyn, Architects with Goodkey,Weedmark as mechanical and electrical Engineers were appointed to do a new apartment building, an arrangement with which OHC was not happy - resulting with the strong proviso that the cost per unit could not exceed that of their previous buildings. To meet that budget electric heating was the only option so George designed a system with in-slab electric heating that offset most of the heat loss supplemented with perimeter baseboards for individual room temperature control. The thermal storage capacity of the heavy concrete slabs allowed the in-slab heating to be cycled via an electrical load monitoring system to maintain the building electrical demand to a design limit and minimize demand charges. Also, a central rooftop makeup-exhaust air unit with heat recovery reduced the heating coil size from 150 kW to 30 kW. The happy outcome of this was the cost came within the budget and when taken over by the Property Management Department, told that it was their best building.

In 1971, during the ADRI project, Goodkey Weedmark was introduced to RON Engineering and their developer counterpart Arnon Corporation. This relationship flourished and the two firms worked together on many projects including apartment buildings, the Meriline Court complex at Merivale and Baseline Roads, and eventually many of the Nortel buildings where the standard for lab air conditioning was packaged DX Liebert systems with air-cooled condensers. At Meriline Court, as lab space grew, the number of air-cooled condensers also grew, taking so much space that adjacent car parking was being infringed upon. These DX systems were running year round and gobbling energy so, after many attempts, George convinced them to convert to a central chilled water plant coupled with plate heat exchanger and fluid coolers for winter free cooling - and suddenly there was space for the Buicks!

In 1983 Gordon Goodkey was diagnosed with a brain tumour and eventually died in early 1986 after a long battle. This paved the way for George to purchase the company and Goodkey, Weedmark (1985) & Associates was born.

Gord Goodkey

George’s relationship with RON Engineering continued to flourish and a highlight of his career was his involvement in the planning of a new city hall complex for the City of Jerusalem. Olympia York and Ron Engineering were developing a four-building complex and George was invited to provide mechanical and electrical design concepts and space-planning for the project. He worked with Jack Diamond, a heritage building architect from Toronto to prepare the preliminary documents which outlined core details, shaft locations, energy concepts, and proposed the incorporation of an ice plant. However, there was a Tel Aviv based consultant responsible for the final design, who had already decided on a conventional central heating/cooling plant and could not be convinced that ice storage was the way to go. George remained involved with the project and eventually made three trips to Jerusalem with the final trip in 1991. During this trip he was able to see a front lawn where a Scud missile had landed (this was at the time of the first Gulf war) and he was impressed that the site was cleared up with new landscaping within days so the uninformed would not know.

Stirling Weedmark

In 1988 Goodkey Weedmark was awarded the M&E design for the expansion of the Tilley Building which is occupied by
CSE. The expansion was constructed in such a way that the entire structure is screened for radio transmissions – nothing gets in and nothing gets out. All penetrations of the screened walls for ducting had to incorporate wave-guide filters – this was all very interesting stuff at the time. The design incorporated DDC controls which were fairly new in those days and everything was automated. George remembers getting a call from Stirling Weedmark one day to report that the huge fluid coolers on the roof had completely iced-up over the Christmas /New Year holidays –the systems were in the commissioning stage, the controls had malfunctioned, no service personnel were around, and the frustrated commissionaire had simply turned off his computer when its printer ran out of paper because of the number of false alarms coming from the fire alarm system! (I should perhaps note here that I was working for George in those days, and I was the guy who designed the control system – oops – ed.)

More recent projects included working with Subash Vohra of NRC, on their Co-Gen plant at the Montreal Road Campus adding 200 tons of absorption chilling to pre-cool the turbine intake air and prevent the 20% loss in power output during the summer period. Another interesting project with NRC was their ice-storage plant for cooling the wind tunnel in Building M-02.

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I have always thought of George Carscallen as being “Mr. ASHRAE” because of his seemingly endless support of the Society. He attended his first meeting with his pal Ian Paterson at the Beacon Arms Hotel in May 1959. ASHRAE Ottawa was a fairly small operation in those days and George has fond memories of playing “bullshit poker” with the likes of Jimmy Moore, Dick Chiarelli, Bob Legare, Gord Goodkey, and Ginger Colcough to name a few after the meetings. This involved playing poker using the unique serial numbers on dollar bills. Another is the time after an ASHRAE golf tournament at Cedarhill playing BS poker at the bar for drinks, perhaps too noisily for some likes when a certain Bob Irving of Irving Contracting dumped a full ice bucket over George’s head to quiet things down but the game continued with little notice. Other great ASHRAE pals were George McRae, Al Oakes, Don McKeen, Jack Bowie, Dalton McIntyre, John Dugan, Charlie Hobbs, Bob McKee, Doug Proctor, Norm Johnston (Toronto) ,Gordon Weld (Halifax) to name but a few and the most rewarding part for George is that they have been lasting friendships.


Ian Paterson
Dick Chiarelli
George McRae
Al Oakes
Don McKeen
Jack Bowie
Dalton McIntyre
John Dugan
Charlie Hobbs
Bob McKee

George went through the ASHRAE OVC chairs to eventually become President for the 1969-70 chapter year. He made many great contacts and attended many functions through these years and for example enjoyed inter-chapter curling bonspiels, the Montreal Chapter golf day in Lachute where Ottawa members and guests frequently outnumbered those from Montreal, and the Ottawa/Montreal ski weekends at the Chanticler(?) . Typical of the antics that took place in those days was at the Quebec Chapter bonspiel sharing a motel room with George McRae who had a box of new Cuban cigars. He decided that the humidity in the room was too low, and set them on top of the frame of the shower stall, turned the shower on hot and went visiting next door leaving the door to the outdoors wide open to probably -20C ambient with George Carscallen continuing to enjoy his sleep. George was eventually awakened by the noise of splashing water to see the room full of vapour and the entire floor covered with water; the shower floor mat had covered the drain - but to George McRae`s delight, the cigars were fine! While attending that bonspiel in Quebec City in 1978 George was approached by Bill Hole, ASHRAE Society President, and encouraged to get active at the Society level. George did so serving on the Meetings and Exposition Committee (twice), Members Council and Standards Committee over a period of 20 years and thoroughly enjoyed the networking that ensued.

George organized a Chapter Research Promotion fund raising evening consisting of cocktails, dinner and a “night at the races” but the difference being films of races, not at the track. All were given wine with dinner to stimulate participation, a brief preview of the horses before each race, followed by an auction to buy the horses and par mutual betting so even if you did not own a horse you could bet and share in the action - all under the stewardship of our own barker, Paul Baker in his floppy fedora. When all horses were sold and the betting closed, the horses were off. To those of us knowing Dalton McIntyre as poised, quiet and reserved, wife Edith was most exuberant organizing a consortium of owners at her table and using her past experiences playing the ponies in Montreal, Edith and ASHRAE Research were the big winners of the evening and Dalton was smiling. Although much of this may sound frivolous, the Ottawa valley Chapter members worked hard, played hard and enjoyed a close and friendly relationship with one another.

In 1984, the CRC was hosted by the Ottawa Valley Chapter at the Four Seasons Hotel with George as General Chairmen and ably assisted by Charlie Hobbs and Bob McKee. The highlight of the banquet evening was Holly LaRocque`s singing “steam heat” to Society guests, President Don Banfleth and Vice President Fred Kolhoss.

In 1988 the ASHRAE AGM was held in Ottawa, at the Chateau Laurier, and Gerry Patterson took the role of Chairman for this grand evening. George, Bob McKee and Charlie Hobbs were co-chairs.

George was the Meetings and Exposition Committee liaison to the Society Centennial Planning Committee with Presidential Member Lou Flagg its Chairman. Lou decided to invite all of the 100 year old ASHRAE members to the meeting (there were actually about 7 of them at that time) but by the time the meeting happened, there was only one left, Milton Garland. George remembers Milton attending the plenary session and jumping up on to the stage, Milton being ahead of him in line for bar tickets at the welcoming party and continuing on late into the evening. Milton was eventually honoured at the Whitehouse as America’s oldest engineer – a function he had to leave early because he had a course on refrigeration to teach at a local university! At a later summer meeting in Toronto George had reserved seating at the evening banquet and was pleasantly surprised to find Milton at the same table (with wife number 3 mind you).

One suggestion that George made for the Centennial banquet was that historical photos and videos be displayed on TV screens around the room. He did not know that this suggestion had been taken seriously until he arrived that evening to see Edith and Dalton, and Carole and himself dancing around the room.

In addition to the foregoing, George served as a fund raiser for the YM-YWCA, United Way and Ottawa Heart Institute, Director and President of the Rideau Curling and Laurentian Clubs; but his biggest love and devotion has been and is to his wife Carole (49 years), daughters Catherine, Kristen, son-in-law Rich and granddaughter Kate, and he believes that life has been kind to him.

George Carscallen

Roderic S. Potter

This article was first published in the March 2010 issue of the Capital Communiqué.