A Brief History from our Founder Ivan B. Wallace

The Governing Body for all Land Surveyors in Ontario is known as the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors. This association was formed in 1892.

This firm, together with its predecessor firm Horton & Wallace, has been in business since 1951, with either Ivan or long time business partner Graydon Horton in leadership. Thus it can be said that we have been surveying in Ontario for virtually 50 percent of the time that the AOLS has governed.

As was the style in those days, the firm, generally speaking, worked within about a thirty mile radius from the office in Ajax. In the early seventies Ivan felt that the developing technology made it possible to move out from this self imposed bit of geography and began to open branch offices in Bowmanville, Cobourg, Trenton and Belleville. These were fully staffed, stand alone Survey Offices but operated under the umbrella of the Head Office. The technology that was available in those days was, to say the least, rudimentary when compared with today.

Portrait of Ivan B. Wallace

Funny now to think about it, but in the early seventies we were only ten years past the inception of dial telephones. Who knew then about 1-800 numbers, call display or call forwarding but as soon as such things became available we were ‘all in.’

Again, as was the style of the times, most land survey offices were comprised of one Ontario Land Surveyor who was expected to know all things surveying, a draftsman who enjoyed some level of artistic talent and several who were willing to work outside in inclement weather. How different it is today!

By 1990, in the midst of a deep recession in Ontario, it was decided to dismantle Horton and Wallace. The various offices were broken off from the head office. Ivan took over the Bowmanville office, renamed it Ivan B Wallace OLS and set out to reinvent himself.

A couple of early decisions were made, that today looking back, were simply brilliant. Crystal Cranch was hired as an OLS and put in charge of all surveying matters. Crystal and I then decided to utilize Gord Wallace in the leadership for all business matters for the firm. Thus began a journey that has been excitement personified.

It was then decided that we would expand out from Bowmanville by hiring anyone who was a University or College Graduate who excelled in computers and survey technologies, buy as many small or medium survey practices as possible and extend our business boundaries as far as we could reasonably accomplish. Indeed we now work from Windsor to Cornwall to James Bay.

To date we have purchased more than a dozen Survey Offices practicing from Toronto through to Kingston. We currently provide our services from offices in Durham Region, Hastings/Prince Edward Counties and Kingston.

With these purchases when combined with all the previous surveys of our own, we now have under our control hundreds of thousands of historical surveys throughout Central and Eastern Ontario. Some date back to 1912.

As I now play a different role in the firm, it is remarkable to see the evolution of the history of IBW Surveyors continue to unfold.

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