George Bertram - 2008

CSEG Medal Recipient Citation for George Bertram
by Sue Guttridge

George BertramThe CSEG Medal recognizes long-standing contributions to the business development of Exploration Geophysics. For over half a century George Bertram has more than met this criterion.

George was born in a small town in Prince Edward Island, and arrived in Alberta in 1951, with little money, a grade five education, and no job prospects. He rented a one room apartment in Calgary, and after paying the first month's rent, had one dollar left to his name. With that dollar, he chuckled, "I bought a pack of cigarettes and papers and went to work right away for a construction company".

His dream was to see the world, and knowing his aspirations would never be realized working as he was, he applied for work in the Middle East on a seismic drilling rig. He got the job, and left for Kuwait, full of hope and anticipation. He earned a whopping $400/ month, but the cost of living was inexpensive, and he was able to return to Canada after nine months with a sizeable bankroll. While he was home for his accumulated three months off, he met and married a local girl from Carbon, Alberta, and they soon ventured back to the Middle East. There he gained experience and enough working capital over the next two years that upon returning he started Bertram Drilling.

Starting out with one rig, the company has grown over the years to become one of the largest privately owned drilling companies in North America. His drills have covered territory not only in Canada and the United States, but ventured into Trinidad in 1995 with "people portable" drills, and recently into Kamchatka, Russia, where seismic drilling is a new experience for the locals there.

In 1980, he built his first heliportable rigs, which have been very successful, coming at a time when the footprint left on the environment from exploration was becoming very important. He now has a fleet of thirty six twopiece units which cover many remote areas across the continent.

His fleet of equipment, by 2002, had grown to also include large tracked nodwells, geothermal drills, smaller Low Impact Seismic drills, wheeled drills, floatation tire rigs, heli-casing rigs, and diamond core drills. Diversity has always been a high priority with the company, and the first core drills for tar sands exploration were purchased in 2002.

Bertram Drilling still operates their head office out of the small village of Carbon, Alberta, along with a division office in Billings, Montana. When they finished their schooling George's sons, Brian and Darrell, joined the company ranks and actively manage the company today. Although semiretired, George is still involved. His vibrant personality and forward thinking attitude have made him and his company very successful. For a lifetime of work and accomplishments the CSEG acknowledges with its highest honour, Mr. George Bertram.