History of the OPIA
In the year 1919, a group of six Plumbing Inspectors met in Peterborough. Those in attendance were – Art Metherall, Peterborough; G. R. Bloomfield, Brantford; Wm. Meadows, Toronto; Ed. Norris, Toronto; Fred McCann, Toronto and P. M. McPherson, St. Catherines. From this meeting, arrangements were made to hold the first Convention in Toronto in 1920. In attendance were 10 delegates from Brantford, Hamilton, London, Peterborough, St. Catherines, Toronto and Oshawa and the Association became known as “The Plumbing and Drain Inspectors Association”. Wm. Meadows was elected the first President and S. Daugherty was the first Secretary.
The first six Conventions were held in the following municipalities – Toronto, Brantford, London, Oshawa, St. Catherines and Toronto. In the early 1930’s when the depression came along, the Plumbing Inspector was no exception to the hard times and money was not available in the municipalities to send representatives to Conventions. The late Vern Baker, Chief Plumbing Inspector in the City of London, was appointed Treasurer of the Association in 1929. There was $79 in the Treasury.
Since the inception of the Association in 1920, there have been 57 Presidents. When the Association was re-activated in 1942 with 39 members the membership fee was $2.00. Over the years, the fees were gradually increased to the current fee of $60.00 per member. After the Ontario Association of Plumbing Inspectors and Affiliates became active in the 1940’s, a Committee was appointed to prepare a Plumbing Code for consideration by Ontario Provincial Authorities under the Chairmanship of Dr. A. E. Berry of the Ontario Department of Health.
Being an appointed officer of the Association, Vern did manage to keep in touch with the members during the depression years. He showed his enthusiasm for hard work and his exceptional organizing ability by bringing the Association back to life. In 1942 an invitation was sent out to hold a meeting in the City of London and although there were only 39 members, there were 90 in attendance at the meeting. At this time, the name of the Association was changed from “Plumbing and Drain Inspectors Association” to “The Ontario Association of Plumbing Inspectors and Affiliates”, this included membership to all phases of the Plumbing Industry. It was at this time that the ladies were invited to be a part of the Conference of the Ontario Plumbing Inspectors and Affiliates.
The Committee and Associates consisted of Dr. A. E. Berry as Chairman with representation from the following organizations – Master Plumbers, Journeyman Plumbers, Plumbing Inspectors, Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating, Architects, Professional Engineers, Health Inspectors and Water Works Associations. With the untiring efforts of these dedicated members of the Associations, a Provincial Plumbing Code became a reality in April, 1953 under the Ontario Health Act. Since that time, the Plumbing Code has been under the jurisdiction of many government departments, and presently is under the authority of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. On July 1st, 1993 plumbing regulations that had been developed over the years were introduced into the Ontario Building Code as Part 7, and are now under the authority of the Building Code Act. In 1964, the name of the Association was changed from “The Ontario Association of Plumbing Inspectors and Affiliates” to “Ontario Plumbing Inspectors Association”. In 1991, the Association was incorporated and our name now reads “Ontario Plumbing Inspectors Association Inc.”.
In attendance at the meeting in 1942 were Dr. A. E. Berry from the Ontario Department of Health and R. C. A. Harris, a Medical Officer of Health. They were introduced to the proposal of the possibility of having a Provincial Plumbing Regulation under the Direction of the Ontario Department of Health. At this meeting in 1942 the manufacturers of Plumbing supplies first supported the Association and from this the Sponsors Organization was formed. The late Vern Baker was elected President of the Association in 1942, a position he held through 1944. Vern started a Bulletin in 1942 and continued publishing a Bulletin through 1959, as well as being Secretary-Treasurer from 1945 through 1959.
Since 1960, we have had as Bulletin Editors, Herb Brady, Albert Airey, Peg Smith, Russ Dorscht, Jack Vander Aa, Pete Bilyea, Kirk Johnstone, Brian Gass and presently Terry Lohnes. In 1960 Walter Scheifele was appointed Secretary-Treasurer. In 1961, the position of Secretary-Treasurer became two positions – Walter remained as Treasurer until his retirement in 1986, when John Peacock was appointed. John held the position of Treasurer until his retirement at the end of 2005 at which time Wayne Hamel was appointed to this position until he resigned in 2012. Ursula Wengler is our current treasurer. Albert Airey was appointed Secretary until 1973 when John Wood was appointed Secretary for an interim period in 1973, at which time Frank Penfold was appointed Secretary after the Conference in 1973, remaining in this position until his retirement in 2000. The position of Secretary was filled by Judie Peacock until 2002 at which time Stephen Gould was appointed to this position.
There was representation from the Ontario Plumbing Inspectors Association on a Committee, along with the Mechanical Contractors Association and the United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters, which assisted in bringing about the Provincial Certification of Plumbers in 1965 under the Department of Labour.
In 1974, the Association adopted a Certification Programme to certify Plumbing Inspectors. Four classes of Certification levels were established and presently there are in excess of 490 Inspectors certified to one of the four classes, to inspect plumbing systems. In 1995, the Executive began the strenuous task to implement professional certification for qualified Inspectors, through the Ontario government. Many hours of hard work by the committee, spearheaded by Albert (Bert) Parthenais, produced an Act (Bill Pr67 1996) which was presented to the Legislature as a Private Bill, through the efforts of the Honorable John Cleary, MPP. On December 19th, 1996, the Bill was given Royal Assent and the professional designation of Certified Plumbing Systems Inspector (C.P.S.I.) was a reality. Inspectors who will meet the stringent requirement for C.P.S.I. will have the opportunity to achieve this designation commencing January 1998. To date, approximately 120 Inspectors have qualified and hold C.P.S.I. designation.
The Association became an Associate member of the World Plumbing Council in 1998. The Executive felt that belonging to the Council would promote our Association throughout the world and at the same time, keep us abreast of plumbing standards in other countries.
In 1999, the Executive accepted the task of administering the Reciprocal Licensing programme, which from 1984-1998 was administered through the Mechanical Contractors Association of Ontario. A Standard Provincial Examination for Master Plumbers was adopted and used by 12 Municipalities until the province changed regulations so that municipalities could no longer examine a trade that was certified by the province. The OPIA continues to work with the Mechanical Contractors Association of Ontario to make it a provincial requirement for plumbers to have a Master Plumber License.
The Association also has an affiliate organization known as the Ontario Plumbing Inspectors Association Sponsors Organization, which comprises manufacturers of Plumbing materials. This group is an integral part of the Association through their support at our Conferences and their assistance to the Executive throughout the year. To date, the Sponsors Organization has approximately 43 members.
The Association presently has a programme of awarding individuals for outstanding service and contributions to the advancement of Plumbing regulations and to the welfare of the Association. Awards are given at the discretion of the Executive and the President and include – Certificate of Appreciation, the Al Hainer Life Membership, Honorary Membership, the Golden Wrench Award, and the John Peacock Award for Excellence in Education.
The Association also presents a Top Apprenticeship Award, known now as the “Vern Baker Award”, at each Conference, to a graduating apprentice achieving the highest marks, in the region in which the Conference is held. This gives you a brief outline of some of the activities and accomplishments that have happened through the untiring efforts of dedicated people, taking an active part in a respected and acknowledged Association within the Plumbing industry. It is impossible to list all those members and to enumerate their accomplishments.