Saturday, May 16, 2015

Fred & Henry Dawson spanned Modernity's biggest to the smallest

After 1930, Frederick James (Fred J) Dawson was the eldest (in the talk of children : "the biggest") of the surviving Dawson children and and Martin Henry (Henry) Dawson the youngest ("the smallest").

Appropriate then that engineer and heavy construction magnate Fred built some of the biggest things on Earth that had ever been made by living beings.

In the very demanding geography of rugged British Columbia he successfully built gigantic bridges, long highways and tunnels, military airports, large hospitals and deep water piers --- even helped build entire frontier towns like Kitimat.

In the 'bigger, faster, higher is always better' culture of Modernity, he clearly was one of the heroes of the most complex and advanced forms of civilized progress.

And appropriate too that Henry was a microbiologist, a scientist who specialized in studying lifeforms far too small to see with the naked eye.

Invisibly small and helplessly immobile sacks of liquid, ancient beyond time, Henry's microbes seemed almost too simple and too weak to even foot the bottom left hand corner of "The Arrow of Progress" that brother Fred's construction feats topped in the upper right hand corner.

But little brother Henry saw them as capable of creating incredibly complex structures, far more complex than any others had imagined possible.

Even more complex, in some ways, than the very big but comparatively straight forward structures that his big brother built.

And while brother Fred constructed enormous institutions to house the chronically ill (such as Vancouver's East Lawn Riverview) Henry beavered away inside similar chronic hospitals , trying to help the weakest and smallest in society because he felt his society was too quick to write them off.

Perhaps, like me, you are beginning to see a suggestive pattern in all this...

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