Member Biography

O. Dravnieks

Olgerts Dravnieks

(1922.06.15 – 2005.09.30)
Commission #174
Articled to D.A. Ferguson

Olgerts (Ole) Dravnieks was born June 15, 1922 in the city of Riga, Latvia, the largest and most beautiful city on the Baltic Sea. Ole was the only child in a very poor, one parent family. Just barely out of high school, the Second World War began and Ole was drafted into the army. He served in the Engineers Corps, gaining his fundamental knowledge about surveying and engineering principals. The exact details of Ole’s need to leave Latvia after the war are not fully known – this was a part of Ole’s life that did not have many good memories. Like many war veterans, he was reluctant to speak about the events even with family. Suffice to say, with Latvia falling on the Soviet side of the iron curtain, and with Ole’s involvement with the forces opposing the Soviets, he was forced to leave the country. In doing so he was separated from his mother and had deep regrets throughout his life in not having further contact with her. Letters/telegrams never made it through, though over the years he was able to find out some information by discrete word-of-mouth means. A chess correspondence friend was able to occasionally cross into Eastern Europe for tournaments, and conveyed some details back and forth. Ole did return to Latvia after the fall of the iron curtain, to visit his Mother’s grave.

In 1950 Ole arrived in Canada. He ended up working as a Mine Engineer in a hard rock mine in The Pas, Manitoba. With work fluctuations at the mine, he found stable employment with Underwood McLellan Surveyors and Engineers in Saskatoon in the mid 1950’s.

Ole Articled to Dave Ferguson, SLS and obtained Commission #174, on May 16, 1963. Ole was to become one of the three founding partners of Underwood McLellan Surveys 1966 Ltd, which has since evolved into Tri-City Surveys Ltd. Peter Wivcharuk and Max Putnam articled to Ole, and found in him a mentor and role model. With a number of newly commissioned Surveyors on hand at Tri-City in the early 1980’s, in typical Ole fashion, he put their careers ahead of his own. Ole simply stepped aside to make room for these new SLS’s and took retirement at age 60.

Ole Dravnieks and Ilse Zwerner were happily married for over 50 years. They met through a chess acquaintance of Ole’s, Walt Zwerner who did some match making between his chess opponent and his sister. Their marriage took place on November 14, 1954 at a very simple ceremony over the noon hour. Both being immigrants and being very frugal, Ole returned to work that afternoon. Ilse prepared a chicken dinner for them to celebrate later that evening.

They had 3 sons, Erik (b 1958), Olaf (b 1959) and Ivar (b 1963), all who have grown happy and healthy under Ilse and Ole’s guidance and care. His family knew him to never put his own needs ahead of others and to set a bar of ethics and honour that all of his sons are attempting to follow.

Ole maintained a keen interest in chess his whole life. He won the Canadian Correspondence Chess Championship in 1955, the Saskatchewan Chess Championship several years in a row and was considered one of the top ranking overall Canadian chess players. In the 1970’s his work responsibilities allowed him to continue chess only as a hobby.

Upon retirement in 1983, Ole renewed his pursuit of various hobbies. These included, of course chess, but also stamp collecting and gardening. His health and mind was strong, and we always commented (when he visited the office), that he could pass for 10 - 15 years younger.

In the summer of 2005, Ole’s health took a turn for the worse with cancer. He passed peacefully on Sept 2, 2005, with his wife and three sons holding vigil.

Prepared by M. E. Putnam, 2006