The great white north

Northern Ontario—the land “up north” from our offices in Toronto, Ontario—is somewhat of an enigma. Although it constitutes 88 per cent of the land mass of the province—about the same size of France and Germany combined—the north is home to only 6 per cent of the population. The gorgeous, lush landscape and fresh air is a good reason to live there, but the region is also characterized by extreme weather and rocky terrain (thanks to the Canadian Shield), posing unique challenges for engineers and government to implement the infrastructure for communities to thrive.

This issue, we delve into the unspoken problems of one particular place in northwestern Ontario, near the Manitoba border: Pikangikum. The remote First Nations community is in desperate need of infrastructure spending; until recently, it has not even had access to Ontario’s power grid or to clean drinking water. In “Pikangikum: A northern Ontario First Nations community in transition,” Associate Editor Adam Sidsworth illustrates the efforts of three engineers who, after learning about the community’s tragic story, felt compelled to assist, as much as they could, in implementing reliable and sustainable development.

We can’t talk about northern Ontario without reporting on a resource that connects us all, no matter where we live: the internet. In “The digital divide,” Associate Editor Marika Bigongiari explains the divide that exists between those in urban centres to the south who have access to internet technology, and those in remote northern towns who do not. But, there are various stumbling blocks in implementing network infrastructure within the vast, rugged landscape of the north, which require the ingenuity of engineers who are doing the planning.

I’d also like to point out the 2019 Ontario Professional Engineers Awards call for nominations on page 22. These prestigious awards showcase Ontario professional engineers who have contributed to their profession and community and, notably, a team of engineers that has executed an outstanding project or achievement. If you know an engineer or engineering team whom you think is deserving of recognition, you can find the nomination forms at, or email


Below are the themes we will be featuring in upcoming issues of Engineering Dimensions. If you can lend your expertise or opinions on any of these topics, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

January/February: Infrastructure

March/April: Waste

May/June: Acoustical Engineering

July/August: Illegal Practice

September/October: Entrepreneurship

November/December: Innovation