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Karl Clark's Diary Excerpts

Dr. Karl Clark, a hero of innovation in Alberta, kept numerous diaries throughout his lifetime. Each of these is stored at the Provincial Archives of Alberta and is available to the public. Almost every year, Clark journeyed to a different location and noted the local experience of what he was studying. The following passages are excerpts from two of such trips, excerpted from his journals.

Tuesday August 10, 1926. Urbana, Illinois
Got in touch with Professor C.C. Wiley, Civil Engineering Department, 200 Highway Laboratory, University of Illinois, first thing, and he came to the hotel about 9 a.m. He took me over to see the County Highway Superintendent, Mr. Fisher, to learn what was doing in road oiling about the neighbourhood. A long conversation took place between Fisher, Bateman, an oil spreader, and Wiley. I sat in. Some of the ideas that I remember were that the counties wanted specifications for road oil that would insure the obtaining of oil that would give a good result and that the state could not supply time. On state aid roads, concrete work was specified to the last detail, and a few concrete culverts per season were placed. But huge quantities of road oil were bought every year, all passed the state specifications and some gave good results and some did not.

Karl Clark near Lake Athabaska, Alberta, circa 1926After lunch, Professor Wiley drove me around the campus. Many new buildings have appeared since my time off to the south of the chemistry building. Took a look at the big stadium. It is a tremendous affair seating 80,000 people. The constructional features were interesting. In front there are a number of tennis courts, paved with Kyrock. It is not working out very well. The laying was not done too well and the playing does not provide enough use to keep the asphalt surface in good shape and condition. It cracks and crumbles.

Went out into the country and were lucky in running into all sorts of oiling of all ages. Saw the work of grading up a road preparatory to oiling. It was an experimental section. They had it in good cross section, but recent rains had let traffic cut ruts and these were now filled with a rubble of dirt. Wiley was not a bit satisfied with this condition. Wanted to see a smooth surface, free of loose material. This road had been oiled before, but the oil had completely disappeared.

Saturday September 24, 1927 Athabaska Lake, Alberta
We came to Athabaska Lake, or where we could see out into the lake about 4 p.m. A boat called the Kingfisher was tied up there waiting for the steamboat which had supplies for it. We guessed it as from Fon du Lac. Shot several ducks in the afternoon.

Nick Melnyk near Lake Athabaska, Alberta, circa 1926We went down near the lake and looked for a camp, but it was all too low and muddy. So we came back up channel a couple of miles. Here we found good camping ground and behind we heard all kinds of geese. Nick (Melnyk) went back while I got a bed made, and camp straightened out. He got a couple of ducks, but reported geese by the hundreds in the open slough. They were hard to get near though.A snowy morning outside Karl Clark's tent on Lake Athabaska, Alberta, circa 1927

No Echo has passed yet. Wish it would come. The weather turned cloudy and cold again, and it snowed off and on all afternoon. There was plenty of ice in pails, etc. this morning.

Sunday September 25, 1927 Athabaska Lake, Alberta
Lake Athabaska on a snowy autumn day, circa 1927What’s up with the Echo! Have watched all day for her and nothing has come in sight. Looks as though we would be here best part of a week till the Athabaska or a gas boat comes along.

Have seen the tide of the Athabaska Lake. We landed here yesterday with some difficulty, but got over the mud with some shoving. A strong north wind blew all day.

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