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20 Years and 20 Stories | Clive Thurston


“Who we become has a lot to do with the mistakes we make and how we respond
to those mistakes.”

My family came to Canada in the 1950s. My father had traveled the world building railroads, hospitals and schools in Africa and South America and was now coming to Canada. He was a Quantity Surveyor and moved to Canada to continue his career in construction. As a young person, I was treated to visits to construction sites and at the head office, I rode the machines and collected old blueprints to work on, pretending to design and construct. Every summer as I grew older, I worked in the industry, developing a love and respect for the people who were a part of this great industry.

I was able to attend meetings and events with my father and meet some of the great “legends” in the industry. I began to learn the art of negotiation and how to resolve problems. I particularly liked the legal side and devoured cases and the Law Letter in order to understand it better. My father did not really want me to be in construction. He hoped I would enter Law or become a teacher, but I was “hooked” and could not conceive of another career.

After leaving university, I worked for a series of construction firms before founding my own company – a challenge, but one that I was eager to succeed at, perhaps too eager. It failed and the ramifications were severe, losing almost everything we had. My greatest regret were the trades and suppliers, many of whom had become friends that I had to abandon. I have never forgotten that and it has guided me at the OGCA on why we need to respect our partners.

After wandering in the wilderness for a few years, I learned more and eventually began to recover, still in construction but now as Building Official. From there, I received a call from my now predecessor asking me if I wanted to apply for his position at the OGCA. As they say, after that – the rest is history. Having lived this industry my entire life, it has created a passion for every aspect of it and it is the things we build, the people, and the challenges that continues to motivate me to make a difference.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time taking the Construction Law course. Its founder – Geza Banfai – is a mentor and a friend. He has been a great help and guide in dealing with legal challenges faced by my members. It was fun to bring up legal cases and precedents during the course, and have Geza give me “that look!” He has paid me perhaps the highest compliment I can remember, as he addresses the class or other audiences, when he points out that I am present and perhaps I am the only person he knows that practices more construction law than most lawyers.