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Things were changing

Heroes Remember

Things were changing

I looked around and realized that there wasn't a lot of civilian jobs for tank drivers. And, and I knew at some point, I was going to get out. I didn't know when, but I, I was planning a career, but you have to get out. And one of the things my father had, had seen my father do, and had learned from him was that, when you leave the military, you have to have something to do. You can't just retire and go home, sit in the yard and do nothing. So, you have to have something, so you have to work towards that. And, so I started looking at the remuster program and trade reassignments. And I applied for a topographical surveyor. And it took two years and I was finally given a position on their selection course. We learned surveying for map making, so I'm putting in ground control for aerial photography that's used in the process of making maps, as well as photogrammetry, making, taking measurements off of photographs to make the map. Photogrammetry is the art and science of measurements on photographs. A map is the graphical representation of the man made features, man made and natural features, of the earth. We had a large job that the military had taken on, as a training exercise, but also as a production exercise doing the photo control, the surveying for the map making for the Arctic Islands. It was a twenty-five year project. So I was, did a number of years up in the high Arctic doing survey jobs up there. And then we'd come back and we'd do, like, say the training area maps and that so you learn the whole aspect of making a map. And it was divided between two trades, topographical surveyor and the map reproduction technicians. Things were, were changing a bit, and we started getting into terrain analysis, terrain evaluations, and it's a whole, whole new study that was coming out. The, something that the Americans had been doing during the Second World War, Canadians as well, but not, more of the Americans at the time. Then it kind of fell on the way side for many years. It wasn't until Vietnam that they started, towards the end of the Vietnam war, they started bringing it back. And through joint projects, the Canadians, the British, the Australians, and the Americans, we all share a lot of high technical jobs and work loads and that. The terrain analysis started coming in, so my course, it was a six year course, six years of on the job training and, and, and lectures and stuff to get back up to the tech level. And tech level was a sergeant in the trade. So they did an experiment. Let's take these guys and had some Americans come up, and we did a basic terrain analysis course. And, and it was really quite interesting, very, somewhat forensic in nature and that, but it was . . . You di-. dissect a map in all kinds of different ways, and glean all kinds of information out of it. So, it was really quite interesting, and I enjoyed it, so I wanted to get more into it and I did an, did an advanced terrai analysis course in 1989, I believe. Yeah, think it was '89. In Fort Belvoir, Virginia, with the Americans at the defence mapping school, as an exchange student. <br /> But I, I graduated top of my class, and the Colonel of the school wrote on the top candidate’s certificate, and that. He said, "An honour seldom given to a, to a foreign student." So, I was quite proud of that, and came back to Canada as an advanced terrain analysis training, but with honours.

Mr. Laxton describes the steps leading to his becoming a Terrain Analyst.

David Laxton

Mr. Laxton was born into a military family in New Westminster, British Columbia, in 1955. He enlisted in the army in 1975, knowing that it meant he could provide for his young family. Mr. Laxton's first unit was the Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) (LdSH(RC)) an armoured unit in Calgary. His first UN posting was to Egypt in 1978/79 where he was promoted to MCpl. In 1984 he went to the Mapping and Charting Establishment (MCE) and trained as a topographical surveyor and obtained a specialty in Terrain Analyst. In 1994 Mr. Laxton led the first terrain team to the tactical level when deployed with the Canadian contingent of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Bosnia. He served two tours of duty there, 1994 and 1995. After leaving the service, Mr. Laxton settled in Whitehorse, Yukon, where he is currently employed by the Territorial government as a GIS specialist.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
David Laxton
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Lord Strathcona's Horse
Armoured Crewman Terrain Analyst / Topographical Surveyor

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