Donald Dawson

Vancouver Metal Fabricator & Blacksmith

When you ask me to work on a custom metal project or metal repair, you get my broad and diverse experience base and years of teaching and training.

Who knew what variety and opportunities I would find when I finally chose machining as my career?

It was a lucky day when I brought my fabrications to the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UBC and asked them to hire me as an apprentice in 1991.

For the next 22 years as an Electrical Engineering Technician, I worked on fascinating research challenges with faculty, staff, and students from the undergraduate to Ph.D. level.

I built robotic, fibre-optics, nano, medical, microwave and radio science research components.

The medical components were for prostate imaging, hearing aids, and dental equipment.

Two projects involving robotic components were for the forest and space industry.

The forest industry project included stackers and loaders for safety in rough terrain.

The other was for the MIR space station that required a vibration-cancelling table for the use of its microscopes.


From my earliest days at UBC, I was the one picked to teach.

As a Red Seal Journeyman and shop supervisor, I taught students to bring their designs to life.

I applied, fixed and modified machine drawings and designs, provided precision-machining, design and assembly of complex components and small, intricate components for research.

For students with disabilities, I invented unique ways for them to access machinery, complete their projects and graduate. Many of my students became full-time professors, researchers and entrepreneurs.

To this day, teaching and training is something I relish.

Whether it’s people in industry who need updated skills training or individuals who want to experience fabricating, I am always enthusiastic to teach them what I love doing.


I operated, maintained, repaired machinery including: water jet cutter; lathes; CNC and manual milling machines; drill presses; bending, shearing, punching machines; welding equipment; electrical pneumatic and hydraulic equipment; vacuum systems; pipe fitting; and other instruments in semiconductor manufacturing, including optical and vacuum assemblies.

Always A Maker

I have always built, repaired, invented, or made something with my hands. Until I found the right field, I worked in architectural model building, theatre, props building, stage managing and cabinet making.

The SS Master

For 5 years, I volunteered on The SS Master, the heritage steam towboat.

As Third Engineer, I machined, fabricated and restored the valves, fuel and water pumps, winches, boiler and the triple expansion steam engine.

I maintained and operated mechanical devices within the wheelhouse and galley, including cooking and hosting Wooden Boat Societies meets.

And Then There Was Dancing 

After 5 years with those lovely gentlemen, it was time for something completely different.

Time for CEROC, modern jive and swing dance classes that became a second home for me.

Within no time I became part of the crew and began a serious and focused search for a life partner.

Four years later, she walked into the room.



Since leaving UBC, between work projects, I attended Coaches Training Institute’s 10-month Leadership Program with my wife, which included 4 retreats in Sonoma, California’s y.

On graduating, we were both invited to assist — this time as part of the faculty’s leadership team — a new cohort of participants for another 10-month program.

Leadership training taught me what I inherently already knew, that we are responsible for our lives and our choices.

One of those choices is being passionate about fostering collaboration with local business owners and artists so that together we can flourish in our lives and businesses.