Quebec Engineering A legacy for future generations
With the disappearance of engineer Armand Couture, Quebec became even more orphaned of the human witnesses of its historic rise in the 1960s and 1970s.
Posted on August 24
Collectively, I encourage us to cherish the memories of our great creators, including Mr. Couture. Their immense legacy has shaped Quebec. This memory, if we can maintain it, will accelerate our social performance.
50 years ago, the hydroelectric development of Grande Riviere was born. To generate real energy power, among other things, it was necessary to create a huge basin of 175,000 km.2. Objective: To electrify our region with water, a renewable resource.
Where did our builders find the courage to undertake this “project of the century”, as it has been called? I asked myself this question while doing an internship at the Société d’Energie de la Baye-James (SEBJ) during my undergraduate degree in civil engineering. I didn’t have the courage to ask them directly, so I still ask myself today. The foresight and courage of these builders, who decided to brave the uncertainty and immense responsibility for the proper functioning of these infrastructures, should be a source of inspiration for us all today.
Massive works such as the Baie-James or the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine bridge-tunnel, another major project to which Armand Couture contributed, transformed the talent of Quebec and made it known to the whole world.
Spin-offs have gone beyond the technical field alone, they have also stimulated the field of higher financing, which is essential for international projects. Of course, they would be done much differently today, but that in no way diminishes their significance.
Engineering training in Quebec has also been affected. During this period, we saw enrollment in the civil engineering skyrocket at Polytechnique Montreal. Professionals trained in this way, in turn, developed the practice of engineering in Quebec, notably enriching it with new environmental dimensions. The heritage of builders has thus been enhanced over generations of engineers.
We are also indebted to Armand Couture, long-time chairman of the board of the National Institute for Scientific Research (lNRS), in advancing the benefits of research.
When we bear in mind that the Association Francophone pour le Savoir (ACFUS) will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year, we can appreciate even more the importance of its contribution to the knowledge economy — its professional activities have marked a large part of this history (more than 65 year). Above all, he helped establish beyond doubt that the applied sciences could excel in French-speaking Quebec.
With the disappearance of Armand Couture, a page is turned, but the great book of Quebec genius is not about to be closed.