OUR NEW CITY OF SCIENCE
A $100 million research centre now rising near Toronto will soon be incubating ideas that may shape Canada's future, foster untold wealth and create jobs for thousands. Here's how this unique experiment in community Big Thinking will change our lives
SEVENTEEN MILES WEST of Toronto, and just a short jog off the busy Queen Elizabeth Way, three hundred and forty acres that grew grass for cattle until fairly recently are starting to grow new products for industry. The tract, called the Sheridan Park Research Community, is the first of its kind in this country.
Within a few years, says Ontario Economics and Development minister Stanley Randall, it will have $100 million worth of buildings, plus nobody knows how much in equipment; will be occupied by the Canadian laboratories of more than a score of the world’s two hundred largest companies, and will pay six thousand scientists and technicians at least $42 million annually.
If it measures up to the expectations of Randall and others behind it, all prominent in government, industry, science and education, it will exert a strong influence
on Canada’s future, add untold millions to the national income, help stem the “brain drain” to the United States, and play a prime role in creating the employment required by our burgeoning labor force.
To understand its real significance, you have to realize that the scientist, traditionally a curious fellow hired at a starvation salary and stuffed into a dingy room to puff his pipe and putter with his test tubes, has suddenly emerged as the top dog in Space Age industry. He is so essential and in such demand that he can live where he chooses, and dictate the location of many types of factories, since they need him if they are to survive.
Take the case of New England which, not so long ago, was plainly ailing. In textiles alone, New England had lost two hundred and fifty thousand jobs when mills either folded up or shifted to the / continued overleaf
“There is nothing the United States can do that h¡
cant do here, and research at Sheridan Park will help us do ”
Deep South, where cheaper labor was available. Boston’s population decreased while that of its suburbs remained static. Then the scientist came into his own. As a result, in the last decade. New England has had an industrial renaissance. Why? Chiefly because researchers congregated in the Boston area, with its Massachusetts Institute of Technology, its Harvard, its Brandeis, its Tufts and its complex of research facilities, where they could find the academic atmosphere they like and men who speak their own strange language.
In the same decade, California has been overtaking New York as the state with the biggest population, and an important reason seems to have been that the San Francisco Bay region, with its Stanford and Berkeley, had a similar appeal for researchers. When Clevite, a Cleveland company manufacturing transistors, decided to set up shop where it could obtain better R & D—research and development—experts, it polled more than two thousand scientists, asking where scientists prefer to work. The answers were so closely divided, between Boston and San Francisco Bay, that Clevite erected plants at both.
While such places, abundantly supplied with researchers, have been leaping ahead, such states as Mississippi and South Dakota, which train a limited number of PhDs, and Illinois and Indiana, w'hich train more than their share but only manage to hang on to one in five, are lagging in the newer and more sophisticated fields of industry.
It is so true that industries flourish where scientists are, and wither where they are lacking, that several companies have studied the care and feeding of PhDs.
One authority on the subject is John Griefen, of Boston’s Cabot, Cabot & Forbes, an organization that has participated in the establishment of half of the scores of R & D plants on Route 128, the “ring road” that skirts Boston. Bostonians old enough to vote can remember Route 128 when it was farmland. But now it is, in a sense, the symbol of what science means to industry, and the setting in which the scientist wants his laboratory. Griefen says an R & D outfit—and most of those in the U.S. have defense and space contracts, as do many in Canada —is utterly dependent on scientists. “A firm,” he asserts, “must be able to attract and hold them, perhaps lure them from other firms. It can’t do this by money alone, for in the end most firms pay about the same for men of equal ability, so it does it by offering nice surroundings. A scientist likes a quiet office with a blackboard, a window, and a tree outside, and it is better still if the tree has a squirrel in it.”
This, of course, is an oversimplification. Research and development have had an unprecedented boom—so much so that where five billion dollars were spent on them in the U. S. in the 1930s, the expenditure was $25 billion in the 1940s and $93 billion in the 1950s. It is currently $21 billion a year. Real-estate men south of the border, seeking to cash in on the trend, have promoted hundreds of so-called research parks with trees and squirrels. Most of them flopped so dismally that all they have are trees and squirrels.
Sheridan Park isn’t ignoring trees and squirrels and for good measure is tossing in ornamental shrubs, fountains, reflecting ponds, flower beds. But it has far more going for it than the scenery. Indeed, it has passed the stage at which it could fail.
Already installed there, in buildings modern enough to fit into the future, are British American Oil Research & Development, a BA subsidiary
that has invested $4,000,000 at the site; Mallory Battery of Canada ($500,000); Consolidated Mining & Smelting ($1,800,000), and Dunlop Research Centre ($1,500,000).
Under construction are buildings for Atomic Energy of Canada ($5,500,000); Abitibi Paper ($1,800,000); International Nickel ($2,000,000); Warner-Lambert Research & Development ($1,500,000), and, as the core of the entire scheme, the striking structure of the Ontario Research Foundation ($5.500.000), which will house fourteen ORF departments now scattered through eight different buildings. The move of ORF. which for years has nursed the idea of a community wholly devoted to research, is costing about $7,300,000 — a figure that includes land and service installations.
Donald Mac Rae, Sheridan Park development manager, says that $27 million worth of construction will be completed there by mid-1966. another $25 million by mid-1968, and that the target of $100 million in buildings, with six thousand scientists and technicians on the payroll, will be hit in the 1970s. In October, plans were finalized for the first section set aside for commercial purposes, w'hich will contain a twelve-story tower, much of it to be devoted to “prestige” offices for architects, engineers and consulting scientists. Probably one story will be a club for scientists. Also in this part of Sheridan Park will be a computer and data - processing building and eight smaller buildings for such amenities as stores, a barber, restaurants. The tower and contiguous buildings will be owned by the United Lands Corporation and cost more than four million dollars. Later, the same company may put up a second commercial section. Eventually, there will also be a conference hall for national and international scientific meetings.
WHAT WILL SHERIDAN PARK mean to Canada? First, it will be a stride toward catching up with nations with which we compete in foreign markets and which earmark a higher percentage of their gross national product for research and development. In the U.S., R & D spending rose from $11,100,000,000 in 1958 to $20 billion in 1964, and went up another billion in 1965. In Canada, R & D spending has been less than $500 million, and possibly the lowest in an industrialized country of this size.
In June, in the House of Commons, Canada’s minister of industry, C. M. Drury, noted that the U.S. government finances industrial research to the extent of $1.26 for each $100 of GNP. In Britain the ratio is sixty-seven cents per $100, in France thirty-nine cents, in Sweden thirty-seven cents and in Canada six cents.
Privately financed research in Canada has likewise been far below par, although our tax regulations favor it. Industry can write off one hundred percent of its scientific research expenditures in each taxation year, plus a further fifty percent for the amount by which such expenditures are up over those in the twelve - month period ending April 11, 1962. In 1967, instead of the further fifty percent in tax relief, the federal government will begin to pay industries grants equaling twenty-five percent of their increased research outlays.
What has retarded research in Canada is the fact that most of our major companies are subsidiaries of U. S. parents that have their own laboratories and research staffs and have difficulty seeing why they should duplicate them, on a smaller scale, north of the international boundary line. / continued on page 26
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Why duplicate U. S. research work?
OUR CITY OF SCIENCE
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Why should they duplicate them? I asked Francis Kelly and Frank Przybyla, both holding doctorates in electric chemistry in the Sheridan Park lab of Mallory Battery, that question.
“Why shouldn’t they?” replied Kelly. “Most of the labs in the U. S. are working overtime as it is. Give them a problem, and you may have to wait months for what you want.”
“Why shouldn’t they just enlarge their laboratories and increase their staffs?”
“Why,” Przybyla countered, “should you open a new university, instead of just expanding an existing university?” He offered the opinion that a lab, like a university, can get too big — so big it loses efficiency and may thwart originality.
Kelly and Przybyla both told me that Canada produces first-rate scientists who could be encouraged by wider opportunities and better research facilities to stay in their own country instead of emigrating to the United States.
Those who depart for the U. S., generally speaking, have the best qualifications for research and the more creative sort of engineering. In 1963 they numbered more than a thousand. Jesse E. Hobson, who has headed the Armour Research Foundation and the Stanford Research institute, estimates that one PhD or creative engineer will generate jobs for ten slide-rule engineers and one hundred and fifty technicians. Thus, the PhDs and creative engineers we lost in 1963 cost us the tens of thousands of jobs they had the potential to generate in Canada. Since
the outflow has gone on year after year, this nation has, beyond doubt, suffered seriously, with its industrial growth being slowed.
Sheridan Park won’t stop the outflow. But combined with other factors — the National Research Council, new federal research incentives, the new and expanded laboratories of the Ontario Research Foundation, a new Quebec research program, the rash of new universities and the extension of science and engineering in older universities — it may slow the outflow.
This is certainly the hope of Ontario Economics and Development Minister Randall, who, before entering politics in 1963, was president of General Steel Wares, the largest Canadian-owned appliance company, and managed to open world-wide outlets for his products. “There is nothing the U. S. can do,” he says, “that we can’t do here, and research at Sheridan Park will help us do it. A subsidiary of a U. S. company with laboratories there will be better able to meet the needs and preferences of Canada and the laboratories will produce new products useful to the parent concern.”
Underlining the constant need for research and development to maintain a competitive position, Randall told me that when he left General Steel Wares, most of its products were different from those it had made ten years earlier. Ten years from now, the public will be buying items that don’t exist today.
The Ontario Research Foundation tells a similar story: twenty years ago thirty percent of the merchandise being sold in 1965 had not been conceived. The ORF, which has been in operation for thirty-five years, obtains
six tenths of its funds from private industry, three tenths from the provincial government, and one tenth from interest on investments. The funds from industry and government are, to a considerable degree, payments for assignments it undertakes, which range from studying the diseases of wild animals and the hazards of pesticides to developing wet strength in facial tissue and wrinkle-resistant cotton fabric. One task it took on from a private company — and it does innumerable chores like this for clients throughout Canada — has so far created seven hundred man-years of new employment. Increased employment is not uncommon from a minor but successful piece of research, and ORF has long since lost count of the workers it has kept working, and who, without intelligent R & D, would have been laid off.
With some of Canada’s best scientific brains crowded into the attics and cellars of dilapidated buildings that had once been rich men’s mansions on Queen’s Park Crescent in Toronto, ORF decided it finally had to have new quarters. The provincial government agreed to buy its land, close to Ontario’s legislative building, so that ORF could move to a place where it would have breathing space. The government promised financial aid, over and above the price of the Queen's Park land, and ORF, polishing its old dream of an entire research community, went looking for sites. It looked at dozens, and eliminated all but three — one of them owned by the United Lands Corporation, the managing director of which is Leon-
ard W. Finch, an English-born architect. The deal was sealed when Finch agreed to sell the acreage ORF wanted at what he insisted was one thousand dollars an acre below the going rate. United Lands Corporation had a lot more land in the vicinity, some zoned for industrial and some for residential use, and Finch was willing to gamble that the proposed Sheridan Park would increase its value so much that he could afford to give ORF a bargain.
The land that the Ontario Research
Foundation has resold on a non-profit basis to private companies is covered by covenants that prohibit it, with certain exceptions, from being put to purposes other than research and development. The exceptions are the two areas set aside for commercial buildings, and Mallory Battery, which, while heavily engaged in research, was already within the Sheridan Park tract radius, doing light manufacturing.
With ORF as the hub of the privately-owned laboratories, its multi-
million-dollar accumulation of scientific tools accessible to the scientists in those laboratories, and all of them linked to the computer and data-processing building and. via special telephone and telegraph lines, to most of the scientific libraries on earth, Sheridan Park will inevitably be the nearest thing Canada has to the unique community that is Cambridge, Mass., where you can't stay five minutes without hearing the phrase, “crosspollination of ideas,” which means
the exchange of ideas by specialists in fast-growing branches of science. The metallurgist, for instance, will stroll over and consult the chemist, who, in turn, will consult the physicist. This is typical of what happens at Cambridge, where I recently spent a couple of days exploring that famous and fascinating brain factory, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. One of the professors told me over the luncheon table at the Faculty Club that there are no more scientists, in the oldfashioned sense of one man being able to embrace any one entire field of
knowledge. There are, instead, men who specialize in narrow sectors of the field, so that the ordinary research project involves teamwork: a pooling of knowledge.
MIT at Cambridge, as the ORF will be at Sheridan Park, is closely associated with the government and private industry and accepts assignments from both. Washington since the 1940s has been its principal client and patron. MIT scientists are permitted, and occasionally encouraged, to act as part-time consultants, collaborating
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with scientists and engineers in private laboratories, and MIT is pleased, rather than hurt, that such a lot of them, with training acquired at MIT, go out as entrepreneurs and set up plants of their own.
The industries strung like beads along Route 128, which have meant so much to New England’s economic revival, are mostly what are known in the lexicon of Cambridge as “spin-off” industries—by-products of MIT and Harvard research. And the aerospace
industries around San Francisco Bay arc spin-offs from research at Stanford and the University of California’s Berkeley campus. New England, with its heritage of precision craftsmanship from the Waltham Watch Company— Route 128 passes through Waltham— makes half the tiny memory cores for the entire U.S. computer industry, and space precision instruments for which the specifications are so complicated and exacting that they may be worth thousands of dollars a pound.
San Francisco Bay, on the other hand, makes larger aerospace components. The picture at Sheridan Park will not be the same, naturally, because the research there will not revolve around universities, and will, as the scientists say, be “production-oriented.” The drive will be to discover and develop products that will reach the market reasonably quickly, although the men who run the labs now functioning at Sheridan say they will look further into the future than most pro-
duction-oriented researchers, and not operate as though the company that employs them will be out of business in two or three years—a tendency that is common in privately financed laboratories.
These same men say, with emphasis, that Sheridan Park, within a two-hour drive of nine universities, will maintain a close liaison with these institutions and take full advantage of McMaster’s nuclear reactor, the University of Western Ontario’s biochemistry centre, the University of Guelph’s animal-research centre, and the University of Toronto’s notable assortment of scientific talent and facilities. In a nutshell, there will be a determined effort to have the universities assume an R & D role not unlike that of MIT, Harvard or Stanford.
But, above all, Sheridan Park will be a place—the first of its kind in Canada—where scientists from the whole country, and from other countries, can exchange information and reasonably anticipate that their combined ideas and shared knowledge will bear fruit. And, while Sheridan Park happens to be in Ontario, with the backing of the Ontario government, it has implications for all Canada and for the world. ORF will accept assignments just as readily from Newfoundland or British Columbia as from Ontario. The benefits of the research by Atomic Energy of Canada, a Crown company, will flow to the whole nation, and perhaps to other nations. The private corporations that have built or are building there are national and international in scope. And the three hundred and forty acres that grew grass for cattle until two or three years ago are rapidly turning into the biggest and boldest adventure in the history of Canada’s research. ★