Class of 1986
Charles Bentall headed Dominion Construction, one of Canada’s foremost construction companies. Born in England in 1881, Charles was apprenticing as a draughtsman by the age of 14 and eventually became a practicing engineer. He immigrated to Canada in 1908, with only 60 cents in his pocket.
First employed by J. Coughlan & Sons in Vancouver, he designed the dome of the Vancouver Court House (now the Vancouver Art Gallery) as well as the seventeen-story World Building, once the tallest building in the British Empire. In 1912 he moved to the newly-formed Dominion Construction, where he was hired as an assistant general manager and first engineer. In less than ten years, Bentall became the president and majority shareholder.
During Bentall’s time at Dominion he expanded the company significantly, diversifying into property management and developing commercial real estate that defined Vancouver’s skyline. Its success propelled the company forward, allowing Dominion to expand eastward.
Aided by government contracts and Bentall’s strong leadership, Dominion survived the difficult war years. During the Depression, Charles founded the New Building Finance Company for the purpose of offering low interest loans to local tradesmen.
Bentall was also known as a steadfast supporter of the Baptist Church and aided in the building of several churches. He served for fifty years as a trustee for the Convention of Baptist Churches, and was president for three of these years. Charles and his wife had three sons, two of whom became engineers and went to work for Dominion Construction. After Bentall’s death in 1972 his sons continued at the company, and his son Clark eventually became CEO.
Dominion continues to be a major player in its industry, and its practices are both enduring and innovative. In the post-war years it was the first to offer the concept of the “Package Plan,” providing design, site development, and financial assistance. As of 2008 Dominion is still going strong, handling over $200 million annually.
A man of integrity, Bentall always believed that “honesty, truth, justice, unselfish love, and a willingness to work hard are real virtues, without which life is immeasurably impoverished.”