Fonds 1326 - David Morgan Grenville fonds

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UTA 1326


David Morgan Grenville fonds


  • 1942-2009 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

1.62 m of textual and graphic records, and publications (11 boxes)
66 sound recordings
47 digital files (3 MB; .doc)

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Name of creator


Biographical history

David Morgan Grenville was born February 16, 1928 in London, England, the eldest child and only son (he has two sisters) of Harry Morgan-Grenville OBE & Mary Murray Morgan-Grenville. He attended Stowe School in Buckingham from 1941 to 1945 and was then commissioned in the British Army from 1946 to 1948, seeing service in India in 1946/47. From 1948 to 1950 he studied at Cambridge University where he received his MA in economics. In 1950-1951 he took his MBA at the University of Kansas. He married Nancy Martin of Washington DC in 1951 and they had three children, Sally, Geoffrey, and Andrew. She died in 1994 and in 1996 he married Patricia Jequier.

Following the completion of his graduate work at the University of Kansas, Mr. Grenville worked as a roughneck in the New Mexico oilfields. In 1952 he joined Rycade Oil in Houston, Texas as an oil scout and landman. In 1954 he emigrated to Canada and began work for the British Newfoundland Corporation (Brinco), based in Montreal. From then until 1970 he was at various times assistant to each of Brinco’s presidents; he was also development manager, and finally Brinco’s assistant general manager. From 1966 until 1969 he was responsible on behalf of Brinco’s subsidiary Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation for planning and managing the provision of construction and town-site services for the $1 billion (1969) 6 million horsepower hydro-electric project.
In 1970 he moved to London to join Rio Tinto-Zinc’s group planning department. He was then transferred as administrative general manager to RTZ Development Enterprises, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto acting as British Project Manager for the Anglo-French Channel Tunnel project between Britain and France. He acted as joint secretary of the project management executive committee, which coordinated the activities of the British and French teams. After successfully completing a one mile pilot tunnel in 1975, full-scale construction was about to begin; but the project was abandoned by the British government at the time as a result of rising interest rates and escalating inflation due to the OPEC oil crisis.

Mr. Grenville then returned to Canada in 1975 to help establish and develop C-CORE, the newly-formed Centre for Cold Ocean Resources Engineering at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Funded by a major grant from the Devonian Foundation in Calgary, C-CORE’s mandate was to work with government, university and oil industry researchers to establish the engineering qualities of sea-ice and icebergs, and to determine how offshore exploratory drilling and subsequently the production of oil from the continental shelf off Newfoundland and Labrador might be safely undertaken. He was C-CORE’s administrator from 1975 to 1982, during which period the Captain Robert Bartlett Building was built for the Centre adjacent to Memorial University’s Engineering Building. C-CORE celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2010 and continues to serve a wide range of international clients.

Mr. Grenville first met Omond Solandt when he joined C-CORE. Dr. Solandt was on C-CORE's Board of Advisors appointed by the Devonian Foundation, and Grenville was the secretary of the board. They worked together quite closely at that time and gradually became friends. Although Dr. Solandt was his senior by 19 years, they had quite a lot in common: both had been at Cambridge, Solandt just before the war, Grenville just after it; and he had lived in England through the war years. His second wife, Vaire, was English. He used to come to the house for dinner when he was in St. John's, and took an interest in Grenville’s young teenage son Andrew, who was already deeply interested in computers.

As Mr. Grenville worked with Dr. Solandt and the other advisors in those early days of C-CORE, he became aware of the breadth and depth of his experience and qualifications, and realized the extent and nature of his reputation as an engineer and medical scientist in the field of operations research, and as a manager of research.

Following the loss in a storm of the giant semi-submersible drilling rig Ocean Ranger in February 1982, the Canada/Newfoundland Royal Commission on the Ocean Ranger Marine Disaster was established to enquire into the causes of the loss, and to carry out a comprehensive study of safety offshore Eastern Canada. Mr. Grenville was appointed Commission Secretary in 1982 with responsibility for managing its operations. He quickly saw that the six commissioners, all Newfoundlanders, and the Commission based in St. John's far away from Ottawa, would need to win credibility as they set about tackling a task that was of significance both nationally and internationally. He could see that someone like Dr. Solandt, who had run the Ontario Commission of Inquiry into the Transmission of Power between Nanticoke and Pickering (the Solandt Commission), had a great deal to contribute to their work. His national and international reputation would also prove to be a major asset. Alex Hickman, the Commission chair, prompted by Mr. Grenville to consider Dr. Solandt as senior advisor to the Commission, asked him to approach him. Dr. Solandt was looking for something new to do and he agreed to take it on. Art Collin, the Deputy Minister responsible for supporting the work of the Commission, subsequently said to Mr. Grenville when he heard about Dr. Solandt coming aboard, "I see you are mobilizing the best brains in the country to tackle the job." The inquiry was completed in 1985 after an extensive technical investigation and wide consultation involving regulatory bodies and the international oil industry. Dr. Solandt’s final service to the Commission was acting as Chair of the Safety Offshore Eastern Canada Conference, held in St. John’s in August 1984, that wrapped up the second phase of the enquiry by gathered the expert testimony necessary for the report.

Following the winding up of the Commission, Grenville worked for two years on a number of consulting assignments. These included setting up Seabright Corporation, Memorial University’s innovation and technology transfer agency. He then joined former colleagues from C-CORE at Canpolar East, an engineering and technology innovation start-up company engaged in developing new processing methods and technology for the fishery industry.

He then retired to the Eastern Townships of Quebec in 1989, and served as Chairman of Canpolar East from 1989 until 1995. He died on 14 November 2013 in Knowlton, Quebec.

Archival history

In the mid 1980s David Grenville began assembling material for a biography of Omond Solandt, concerned that Canadians had forgotten a man who had played a pivotal role in the transformation of Canada during and after World War II into a nation that was "first amongst the second tier powers…By his outstanding intellectual abilities and his considerable leadership this man had helped found a modern scientific discipline, Operational Research, which sprang into prominence during the war and showed great potential as a science-based aid to executive decision-making in the years since. Solandt had gone on to found several significant Canadian scientific institutions and to display a remarkable level of innovative leadership in matters which had both national and international implications. [1]

Mr. Grenville soon discovered, however, that it was very difficult, with the limited time at his disposal, to collect sufficient material for and to grasp thoroughly Dr. Solandt’s extraordinarily varied and numerous activities – he has been described as having five careers at a time when most people were satisfied with one – and their implications. With reluctance he abandoned his effort, after having taken a sabbatical in which he had visited England, written an outline of the project, assembled some textual material and conducted many interviews, including some with Dr. Solandt himself. Determined that his efforts would not be in vain, Mr. Grenville then assisted Dr. Solandt in depositing his voluminous personal records in the University of Toronto Archives. In 1992, he turned to several of Dr. Solandt’s old colleagues from operational research days to organize in his honour the Solandt Symposium on Organizing and Managing the Practical Application of Science to Problems in War and Peace, held in Kingston, Ontario in May 1994. Unfortunately, Dr. Solandt died the year before.

In the years since the Symposium, Mr. Grenville has continued to encourage anyone interested in Dr. Solandt’s life. The most promising prospect has been Jason Ridler, a doctoral student at Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario. Mr. Grenville wrote, "I am more than ever convinced that the heart of the Solandt story is that 15 year period from 1940 to 1955 when he became so deeply involved in defence-related operations research, and demonstrated his unique qualifications and talent for that work. It was a time when Canada was punching above its weight due to the quality as well as the quantity of its contribution to the US/UK alliance both during and after WW2. I think that Ridler is well placed to deliver a very useful assessment and insight into what Solandt's role was in that period, as well as to do justice to the rest of his multi-faceted career." [2]

Jason defended his thesis, "State scientist : Omond McKillop Solandt and government science in war and hostile peace, 1939-1956," in 2009 and is currently seeking a publisher. He also compiled tape summaries of the interviews that Mr. Grenville loaned him for his thesis research.

The files in this fonds are grouped into series that reflect the various actions that Mr. Grenville took in his endeavours to ensure that Dr. Solandt was properly honoured.

[1] Law, C. E., G. R. Lindsay and D. M. Grenville. ed. "Perspectives in science and technology – the legacy of Omond Solandt". Proceedings of a symposium held at the Donald Gordon Centre, Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario, 8-10 May 1994. Kingston: Queen’s Quarterly, 1995. Foreword, vii.

[2] E-mail from David Grenville to Harold Averill, 2007-03-12

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Records assembled by David Grenville relating to two projects on Omond McKillop Solandt: a proposed biography of him (never completed) and a symposium in his honour (1994) that was published as Perspectives in science and technology: the legacy of Omond Solandt. The files for the biography include original documents, research notes, correspondence, notes, manuscripts and addresses by Solandt (1957-1980) and 66 audio cassette tapes (with tape summaries by Jason Ridler) of interviews Grenville did with Solandt and his colleagues. The files on the symposium contain correspondence, minutes of meetings, notes, financial records, and partial drafts and copies of the book. There are also a number of accompanying photographs.

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Finding aid prepared by Harold Averill, 2010
Added to AtoM by E. Sommers, March 2017




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