I first met Barry Hawton when I moved to Collingwood in February of 1992. I was starting my new job at MacLean Engineering and back in those days, MacLean was still located on Mountain Road. As I began to get to know the guys in the shop, it became apparent to me that Barry had special status. That status came from his tool box, as he documented how to properly make everything, filling in the unknowns that the engineering drawings did not include. Barry was a very talented artisan and even back then he did the things that very few other people could do: special procedures on the milling machine, lathe, or with a welding torch or rod were never a problem and he always happily took on the challenge.
As the years passed, Barry only became more reliable and more of a valuable resource. His skillset greatly complimented our engineering abilities, our vision for MEDATech, and the company’s entrepreneurial spirit. He rose to every challenge, resolving seemingly impossible issues. Barry’s desire for knowledge and understanding seemed to always push him forward, usually taking on far more then he needed too. You could always expect Barry to shoulder the load.
Some people thought he was a bit cranky, but Barry had a very wide range of experience and when you asked him to do something that he knew would not work, he usually gave you his look—a look that immediately told you to ‘go back and think about what you are doing’, sometimes combined with another special look that meant ‘before you hurt yourself’.
When we started MEDATech Engineering back in 2003, I always knew that I wanted to get back into building custom machines. Mark Seeber joined me in 2005 and as we worked towards our goals, both Mark and I knew we were missing something. That something was a highly skilled tradesman.
By chance, Barry had been working up north in the shipping industry for a few years and had given that up to spend more time at home with his wife and family, taking a job at Craigleith Ski club. He was working on snow making and moving equipment repairs and maintenance. Mark came across him one day and by chance asked if he would be interested in coming to work for us…I think Barry, Mark and I all jumped at the opportunity right away.
The rest is history. Barry became one of the pillars upon which we built our company. He was a faithful and trusted employee and I talked to him many times about how to get things back on track when specific build projects were not going well. I cannot tell you a time where Barry’s advice was not spot on. Barry had a hand in making almost all of our success stories the successes that they were.
When Barry retired, I know he did not really retire, and that he would be available to me as much as I needed him. Even when Barry got sick, I always thought that he would be back. I knew how tough he was and I also knew how much he loved his work. I never thought he would be gone so soon, and since the day of his passing, I think everyone at MEDATech Engineering fully understands how important he was to us.
We will all miss Barry very much.