Fred Ayea (1949 – 2013)
Friend, colleague, mentor, business partner, Fred Alyea passed away suddenly on June 12, 2013. We will miss your professionalism, hard work and wonderful wit. Thank you for those many years of memories.

Principal, The Canals Group

President, Inland Waterways International

David graduated from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelors of Arts in history. He has had a long association with Canals, first as a university student working on the Rideau Canal National Historic Site as a lock operator then to a full time career with Parks Canada at the Trent-Severn Waterway, Georgian Bay Islands National Park and the Rideau Canal. Responsibilities in Parks Canada have included a full range of duties from a visitor services officer to a senior canal manager including Area Manager, Superintendent and Director of Operations.

David was the Director of Operations for the Rideau Canal National Historic Site until his retirement from Parks Canada. During his tenure as the Director of Operations he had overall responsibilities for the lock operations and maintenance, navigation and water control, including the reservoir lake management, realty/land management, visitor activities and services and the natural resource conservation section of the Canal. In 1992 he received the Confederation of Canada 125th Anniversary Commemorative medal "in recognition of signifigant contribution to compatriots, community and to Canada".

David was the Parks Canada representative on numerous operational, navigational, land use or water supply and watershed studies which impacted or were of concern to Parks Canada throughout the Rideau Canal corridor and elsewhere. This usually meant representing Parks Canada mandate, interests and issues working with other levels of government and stakeholders. The work included being a member of steering committees and/or technical committees for studies such as the Lower Rideau Watershed and Tay River Watershed. David also represented the interests of Parks Canada dealing with the restoration of older bridges and the design and building of new bridges owned by others, such as the City of Ottawa. The concerns he represented as a member of the design team related to the appropriateness, location and scale of the proposed bridge, along with a design that would be sympathetic to the cultural and natural context of an Historic Canal, which is now a World Heritage Site.

In addition, David has lead or played a key role in a number of large and nationally important Parks Canada studies on the mandate, organizational structure and needed efficiencies of the historic canals in order to continue a reasonable level of service while at the same time meeting the financial reality of the moment. David has also been similarly involved at a local level where the work has been more canal, organization or function specific, including more recent operational and organizational reviews.

David was also the Canal contact working with the planner for the Rideau Canal management plan both in 1995 and the more recent update in 2001. This process included working with a focus group, stakeholders, special interest groups, residents, users and the general public to identify and outline the issues and possible solutions, inputting and reviewing the drafts and being a key part of the public consultation when the draft plan was presented for formal consultation and feedback.

With his Canal responsibilities there has been an ongoing opportunity to work on a professional basis with many peers and associates at various Waterways and Canals in North America, the U.K. and Europe. David has been involved with the World Canals Conference over many years. He has recently been on the Steering Committees for the World canals Conference in 2008,2009 and for 2010. He was a member of Council of Inland Waterways International and is presently serving his second three year term as President . He is also a member of Friends of the Rideau.

David is now involved in research, reviews, analysis, recommendations of canal organizations and operations in Canada and providing inputs and analysis for contracts in North America, U.K. Europe and China. He has been granted the honorary title of "Distinguished Guest of Yangzhou City", China for work done on behalf of Inland Waterways International.

David is a founding partner and principal of The Canals Group

Principal, The Canals Group

Past President, The Canal Society of New York State

Past President and Vice President, Inland Waterways International

Thomas X. Grasso, received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Geology from the University of Buffalo and a Masters Degree in Paleontology and Stratigraphy from Cornell University in 1966. Tom worked at Chevron Oil Company in New Orleans, Louisiana until 1968 when he joined Monroe Community College, in Rochester, New York. He was chairman of the Geology Department from its formation in 1970 until he retired in 1999. A nationally and internationally recognized canal scholar.

Tom has authored numerous publications on New York State canals, French, British and German canals, and New York geology for both the professional and general audience press. He was recommended by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter and subsequently appointed a Commissioner to the U. S. National Park Service's Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission in 2002 by Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton. He was subsequently re-appointed in 2006 on the recommendation of Congressman Randy Kuhl.

In 1988 Tom received the prestigious SUNY Chancellor’s Award For Excellence In Teaching and in 2003 was presented the Medaille d’Honeur from the Mayor of the French city of Villeneuve-sur-Lot in the South of France. Since 1998 Mr. Grasso has been spearheading the Canal Society of New York State’s development project at Port Byron, New York which would be directly accessible from the New York State Thruway – Interstate 90. The site involves interpretation and restoration of the 1895 Erie House canal tavern, mule barn, blacksmith shop and old Erie Canal Lock 52 built in 1850.

In addition he is the author and chief proponent of the plan to remove Broad Street and restore the old Erie Canal to downtown Rochester, New York in its original bed across an 1842 aqueduct, plus connected to the existing New York State Canal System. Tom was Co-Chair of the World Canals Conference held in Rochester, New York 10 September to 15 September 2000. Over 400 delegates from over 15 different countries attended and participated in this world -class event. He has been selected Chair of the Executive Committee bringing the World Canals Conference to Rochester in 2010.

Tom bi-annually organizes and takes tours from North America to see the many diverse canals in Europe. Tom also writes a comprehensive guide as part of the tours, which becomes a commercial guidebook. He has successfully done this for a number of years, his most recent being to the canals of southern Germany in October 2010.

Tom is a principal and founding partner of The Canals Group .


Dave MacDougall

Principal, The Canals Group,

Secretary, Inland Waterways International

Dave MacDougall began a 34 year management career with Parks Canada in 1972 after graduating from the University of Guelph. In his early career he gained extensive management experience through working in several national parks, national historic sites and national office. He moved to the Trent-Severn Waterway in 1982 where he spent 25 years in the historic canals program. His passion for the job led him to focus his career at the field level close to the action, but as well, he has brought his skills to the corporate level on several national initiatives. In 2006 he received the Chief Executive Officer’s Award of Excellence for his role on the team that developed and implemented the Parks Canada National Pricing Strategy.

Dave has managed programs in operations, communications and external relations. In an operational capacity he has had responsibility for the protection of natural and cultural resources, the operation and maintenance of locks and dams, water management, staff and financial resources. He was responsible and accountable for the work of his staff in managing the water flow regime on the Trent River and coordinating with area conservation authorities and operators of hydroelectric power generating facilities to ensure multi-user priorities were addressed and sound environmental management practices were followed. Advance preparedness, including contingency planning, staff training and establishment of communication processes with staff, stakeholders and elected officials led to successful water management outcomes when faced with emergent conditions. Responsibilities in water management expanded to include the total Waterway when acting Director of Operations for several extended periods. As an operational manager he developed a depth of experience in organizational reviews and organizational planning. This, combined with sound canal business and financial planning practices to deal with operating resource allocations, reductions and efficiencies, has honed Dave’s analytical abilities, problem solving approaches and development of practical approaches to management.

In the area of communications and external relations he has applied his operations knowledge and experience to the management, development and delivery of programs and services. Dave represented management on a multidisciplinary team that developed a public consultation and communications strategy for the development of the overall Waterway management plan. He then co-chaired the development of three lock station management plans at the Trent-Severn Waterway where public consultation and engagement with the local community was vital to the success of this work. The process connected nautical tourism, the social fabric of the community and economic sustainability. Elected officials, businesses, tourism operators and organizations and stakeholders were engaged in the entirety of the process, resulting in support and buy-in of the communities. The template for planning that was developed had a significant impact in the way the Waterway did business locally.

On a national and international level Dave has developed an extensive network of contacts. He established a network of business, elected official and tourism related leaders in the corridor of the Trent-Severn Waterway and the province to draw upon their expertise to gauge policies, programs and operational practices. His participation on a national working committee to organize an analysis at the ministerial level of the success of Parks Canada programs expanded and strengthened his Canada-wide network of peers. At the international level, Dave has developed a network of professionals who share knowledge and expertise on the operation and management of historic canals and their influence on their countries.

At the international level Dave is now involved with Inland Waterways International, the World Canals Conference and previously, the International Countryside Stewardship Exchange. A member of Council since 2003, in 2007 he was elected Secretary of Inland Waterways International, a volunteer organization that promotes the use and sustainability of inland waterways on an international level. In 1996 Dave co-chaired the then International Canals Conference at the Trent-Severn Waterway and was a member of the World Canals Conference Steering Committee from 1996 until 2006. Dave worked with the International Countryside Stewardship Exchange to organize a winning bid for an exchange in the lower Trent River/Bay of Quinte area of Ontario. He was invited as an exchange member to the Mohawk Valley in New York State where the team of professionals from Canada, Great Britain and the United States worked in an atmosphere of unusually high political sensitivity. Dave’s experience in canal corridor economic development and working and negotiating with community business leaders and political representatives contributed to the positive influence of the Exchange team. David is on his second term as Secretary for Inland Waterways International.

Dave retired from public service in 2006. He is a principal and founding partner of The Canals Group .
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