Benjamin Torchinsky

by Claudia Herrera Hudson

Ben Torchinsky<br>Photo from the <a href="">University of Canada</a>
Ben Torchinsky
Photo from the University of Canada

Within each field, there are certain men and women who just stand out. Whose accomplishments reach far above and beyond what their previous professors, their colleagues, and perhaps even they, themselves, could have ever imagined. In the field of engineering, Benjamin Torchinsky is one of those men.

Well respected and loved in his Canadian homeland, as well as by engineers worldwide, Torchinsky's engineering legacy has left a permanent imprint in Canada's development.

Of his numerous innovations, Torchinsky is most proud of his process of piling up earth prior to laying a foundation. But his accomplishments only begin there and cover an astonishingly broad spectrum.

He is perhaps best known for developing some of the initial cable television systems in Western Canada in the 1950's. He also built the first Canadian national all-news radio network (CKO), as well as the first high tech electronic toll highway in Canada, Toronto's 407.

Torchinsky is also broadly known as the founder of AGRA Industries in the '50's, which up until a recent merger, was the 2nd largest engineering firm in Canada. AGRA built and operated the first rapeseed crushing plant in Canada to produce oil, margarine and animal feedstock. AGRA also pioneered advanced methods for bridge building and heavy structure support in Western Canada.

It is said that most of the current buildings in Western Canada were likely built using a technique Torchinsky developed.

Environmental caretaking has been an evident part of Torchinsky's career. For example, in Alberta, he created Contain-A-Way, the first beverage container recycling system in the Province.

Through his own work and with his company, Torchinsky is also known for his well-planned offshore drilling, money counterfeiting-prevention achievements, and bridge construction.

Torchinsky graduated from the University of Atlanta with a Bachelor's and then a Masters of Engineering Science. He worked at the University of Saskatchewan as a professor of engineering before venturing on into the business world, launching first his own engineering consulting firm, and later other engineering businesses.

He recieved the Sir John Kennedy Medal from the Engineering Institute of Canada, considered its most prestigious award. He was honored with the Beaubien Award, the greatest award given by the Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada, for his contributions to the profession. In June of 2003, Torchinsky was awarded with an Honorary doctorate of science degree from the University of Alberta.

But despite all of his achievements and commendations in such a broad range of engineering topics, Torchinsky is perhaps best loved for his humility, and for his regular praise and gratitude towards his colleagues and the public, both privately and publicly. When accepting his award at the 2001 Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards in Calgary, he praised and thanked the employees and management with whom he worked for almost 50 years in developing AGRA.

With such an outstanding combination of talent, drive, innovation, and professionalism, it is really no wonder that Benjamin Torchinsky is such a beloved and respected man in Canada and a household name within the field of engineering.

Page created on 6/11/2004 12:26:40 PM

Last edited 6/11/2004 12:26:40 PM

Related Links

Express News at the University of Alberta, Canada - provides a great biography and quotes.
Elements... 2001 Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards - ACEC presents the award annually . The Awards of Excellence and Merit recognize Canadian excellence and innovation in engineering, regardless of the discipline or field of expertise.