George Cassian

1932 - 1980

GC: He was a good guy. A charming fellow. Very sociable chap. Pleasant, easy-going. Too easy to be a manager. 

He was never a partner in the technical sense of the word. He owned one quarter of Cuthbertson & Cassian. 

In late 58 there was a very major plant, Avro up in Malton, Ontario, building aircraft. They had developed the Avro Arrow [Canada’s first supersonic aircraft], which was apparently superb. They built a half-dozen, the customer being the Canadian government. It was generally acknowledged to be the best aircraft of its type—a fighter—in the world at that time. For a variety of reasons that are still hotly debated, the prime minister at that time [1957-1963], John Diefenbaker, canceled the contract. Whoosh! Avro had no choice but to immediately shut down, they were so wedded to that program. Diefenbaker canceled the contract on a Friday and that laid off 17,000 people, including George Cassian, who was in the design department. On Monday this young chap walked into my office and introduced himself. Said we'd met once several years before at a party, which was likely. Was there any chance he could get a job? 

He had drawings with him and | was impressed. | said, “George, | have two weeks of design work ahead of me. And if you join, that will be one week each.” 

So he said, “Well, | haven’t got anything else to do.” So | said, “Okay.” He was with me for almost a year. His other interest was automobiles, racing cars. He decided to move to Detroit in the auto industry, but whenever he was back in Toronto, where his family was, he’d drop in the office to see how things were going. He told me he was moving home and getting married and would like to buy a share of the business. | was up to my ears in debt, having trouble paying bills, so | sold him a 25% interest. We incorporated as Cuthbertson & Cassian Ltd. In due course that 25% was increased to one third. We were never a partnership. 


I”ll let Big George speak about Little George:              

“One Monday morning in 1959 a young man walked into the office, introduced himself as George Cassian, and told me that we had met at a party one or two years prior. He had studied technical draughting at Central Technical School in Toronto, had been working in the design office of A.V. Roe, and, with the cancellation of the Avro Arrow contract was one of the 17,000 Avro employees laid off on the preceding Friday. A keen sailor, member of Toronto Sailing and Canoe Club, might his skills be of some use in our office?

George showed me several examples of his work. I was impressed but had to point out that I could foresee only about two weeks of design work ahead and, if he joined me, that would double our design staff and we might have to part after only one week. George replied that he had no better opportunity, so he would like to come on board on that clear understanding.

Other work came in, and we worked together for about a year when George told me that he had decided to move to Detroit to pursue his other passion (automobiles) and he had an opportunity in the auto industry. However, with family here, he was frequently home on weekends and often dropped in to keep me up-to-date. Evidently things did not go all that well, and after about a year, on one of his visits, he told me that he had decided to return home, was going to be married, and could he have his old job back—and possibly buy a share in the business?

All of this sounded fine to me, so I sold him a 25% interest (later increased to 33%), which all went to pay off debts, and in 1961 we incorporated, the name chosen being Cuthbertson & Cassian Ltd. “

Of Sails and Sailors: George H. Cuthbertson

” George Cassian was an imaginative and creative designer and a superb draughtsman and remained in a senior design role until his untimely death at age 48 in 1980. His particular duties usually resulted in a very close customer rapport, his responsibilities including accommodations, deck plan and arrangement, and much of the fine detailing which C&C stressed at the time. An accomplished sailor, he was a member of "RED JACKET's" crew when she won the Southern Ocean Racing Circuit in 1968 and sailed aboard "MANITOU" in her 1969 "CANADA's" Cup victory. “

1969 – 1982 C&C Binder: George Cuthbertson

And from Cassian himself.

“I consider myself typical in some respects but atypical in other respects in that 99 percent of my sailing experience, which I draw upon when designing interiors, has been racing. So I attempt to lean toward something that is effective while racing and less oriented toward cruising. On the other hand I think that I and the rest of the guys in the design department appreciate the need for creature com­forts in our boats. In the end, I think, and have thought for some time; that the best racing boat is the best cruising boat as well. Because. the racing boat job is to accommodate a large crew and has to be operated under adverse conditions whereas in cruising you can always shorten sail and reduce heel angle and make everything a lot easier. So galley facilities, ventilation, sleeping quarters and the like have to be, if anything, better on the racing boat. However, on the racing boat, the thing that is sacrificed in order to retain creature comforts is privacy, the lack of which can't be tolerated on the cruising boat. So every design involves a thousand compromises.”

Winning how the Georges do it by Martin Luray 1972

George Cassian came home from his regular squash game in 1980, complained of being tired to his wife and settled down for a late afternoon nap. A heart attack took him in his sleep.

History of GHC


1976 Chevy Monte Carlo Commercial