Bernie Stene and Lional Desmarais
In the mid-1990s, Ledcor, a Leduc-based construction company, won a
number of contracts to install fibre-optic cable along railway lines.
Senior employees Lionel Desmarais and Bernie Stene were challenged to
find a way to lay thousands of kilometres of the cable without
disrupting railway traffic.
The contracts spanned great distances; one of them, from CP Rail, was
for a $160 million fibre-optic network straddling rail lines between
Toronto and Vancouver. This meant working on tracks from a platform that
could travel the rails, dig the trenches needed for the fibre-optic
cables and also be cleared from the tracks to allow regular rail
Both Stene and Desmarais were veterans of the construction industry
when they started the fibre-optic cable work; Desmarais was one of the
employees who had spearheaded Ledcors fibre-optic ventures, while Stene
was Ledcors vice-president of construction in the mid-1990s.
The two men worked together to devise a system that would meet their
construction timelines and also make sure the cable-laying apparatus
could be moved on and off the railway tracks, when the need arose.
The system they devised was patented in the mid-1900s, and helped
Ledcor and its spinoff company, 360 networks, lay thousands of
kilometers of fibre-optic cable across Canada.
Desmarais and Stenes invention won them the Ledcor Innovation Award,
an internal company honour, in 1998.
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