Percy Ritchie Sandwell was born in London on October 26, 1912. He graduated with honours in Mechanical Engineering from the University of British Columbia, where he was awarded the Brock Scholarship and Convocation Prize. He started his engineering career in Montreal where he was involved in the design and construction of pulp and paper mill machinery and equipment. In 1940, he joined his father in Australia, assuming responsibility for the completion of the Tasmanian newsprint mill in 1941.
Mr. Sandwell returned to Canada in 1944 and joined the Ontario Paper Company where he was actively involved in developing the expansion programs then projected for the company’s mills in Ontario and Quebec. In 1946, he returned to British Columbia to join the Powell River Company as its Chief Engineer. In this capacity, he organized and carried out the company’s post-war development program. At the end of 1948, with retainers from both the Powell River Company and the Ontario Paper Company and with the partnership of Henry Ward Beecher of Seattle, he established the consulting engineering firm Beecher and Sandwell which was succeeded in 1950 by Sandwell and Company in Vancouver.
The growth of the company and its worldwide activities brought general recognition of its international stature and reputation and resulted in the establishment of permanent North American offices in Vancouver, Montreal, and Portland and European offices in London, Stockholm and Zurich.
In addition to his role as President of Sandwell and Company, Mr. Sandwell’s extensive international experience in engineering and the applied sciences resulted in his appointment to the following scientific bodies: the National Research Council of Canada, the Science Council of Canada, the British Columbia Research Council and the British Columbia Medical Research Council. He was also a recipient of a honourary Doctorate of Laws degree from Simon Fraser University.