Two Mysteries

Ferut was moved from the University of Toronto to the Structures Laboratory (Building M-14) sometime late 1957 or early 1958 and put under the care and supervision of Donald McQuirk, a Ferranti engineer charged with the installation.

There are two mysteries. One, why was the Structures Laboratory M-14 chosen for the final installation and two, where did Ferut ultimately end up.

Why the Structures Lab?

The Structures Laboratory became part of the National Research Council’s (NRC) National Aeronautical Establishment (NAE) during my time there. The lab’s primary mandate was the testing, sometimes to destruction, of aircraft structures. It was not uncommon to hear a huge commotion and loud clatter as a part of an aircraft that had been under stress, finally failed and tumbled to the lab floor.

Building M-14
Building M-14, NRC Structures Laboratory as it is in 2013. (Google Earth)

I remember one particular item that they were unable to get to fail. It was a wing from Harvard. As I recall, they had been flexing the wing for over 15 years and it simply wouldn’t fail. Incredible!

Two other things that I remember about the lab. One was that we had the tail section from the AVRO CF-100 in a test jig. The second was that we had the wing from the C-102 AVRO Jetliner stored outside, behind the building. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the AVRO Jetliner, it was the first jet passenger aircraft to fly in North America, and the second in the world, the British de Havilland Comet beating us by 13 days.

So what was the rationale for putting FERUT in the back corner of a laboratory whose purpose was to test aviation structures? We may never know.

Where is Ferut now?

The whereabouts of Ferut is the true mystery and I certainly don’t know the answer.

Before I left the lab in 1960, I tried to pass on what technical knowledge I had to an engineer by the name of Andrew Barcyzski (?) who took over the maintenance of Ferut.

I say ‘tried’ because Andy had an enlarged ego and considered himself as being an expert in everything, and I mean everything. There wasn’t a topic that Andy wasn’t prepared to dominate with his self-proclaimed expertise from bee keeping to nuclear physics. Consequently, Andy, an engineer, wasn’t about to accept advice from me, a mere electronics technician. Not that I had a lot of knowledge to impart but I had been successful in keeping Ferut up and running for the better part of two years.

After I left NRC, I heard that they were having challenges keeping Ferut running. Although only rumours, (or perhaps wishful thinking on my part) if true, that may have accelerated Ferut’s demise.

Where did it go?

So the final mystery is where are the remains of Ferut today? Are they in the basement of one of the NRC buildings? Are they lying in a back storage room of some museum? Was it sold through Crown Assets for scrap? Did it end up in a land fill somewhere?

Where did they bury the body?

The Search Continues

I was contacted in March of 2014 by Dr. David Pantalony, Curator, Physical Sciences & Medicine at the Canada Science & Technology Museum in Ottawa. As it turns out, David is on a search for the rest of the story and came across reference to Ferut on one of my other web sites (DEWLine Adventures) and contacted me to see if I had any idea as to the location of Ferut’s burial mound. It was David’s queries that rekindled my interest and spurred me on to put up this web site.

It is my hope that David will be the person who writes the final chapter of Ferut, Canada’s first commercially available general purpose electronic digital computer.

The Continuing Saga: An Update.

Like many historians, David is not one to let a piece of history fade away or die without putting up a valiant battle. In addition to his normal workload at the Museum, he continues the search for Ferut and the search is bearing fruit although history is not giving up its secrets easily.

August 2014
On August the 6th, two days after my 74th birthday, I received an email from David with the following letter attached.

NRC letter
Courtesy of the Canada Science & Technology Museum

It appears from the letter that, as of July/August 1967, Ferut was destined for a museum, but which museum? Did it ever arrive? Is it still tucked away in the bowls of the National Research Council or Crown Assets? Is it in an unmarked crate in the back corner of some museum’s archive and storage area?

As David writes, “the mystery deepens.”

Stay tuned.