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British Industrial History

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Thomas Coltrin Keefer

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Thomas Coltrin Keefer (1821-1915)


1916 Obituary [1]

THOMAS COLTRIN KEEPER, C.M.G., died at Ottawa on the 7th January, l915, in his ninety-fourth year. He was elected an Honorary Member of the Institution in 1912, “because of the distinguished part he has taken in the engineering enterprises which have aided so largely the development and prosperity of the Dominion of Canada; and on account of the services which he has rendered to Civil Engineering during his long association with it since his entry into the profession in the year 1838.”

Born in Ontario on the 4th November, 1821, he commenced his engineering career at the age of 17, being first employed on the Erie and Welland canals.

In 1845 he was appointed Chief Engineer of the Ottawa river works, and continued to be associated with these works up to 1894, designing many improvements to facilitate the lumber traffic.

In 1850 he was employed by the Government to make a survey of the St. Lawrence rapids, and on other work, and later he reported to the Canadian Government on the trade between the United States and Canada, an investigation which led to the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854. He was later associated with the surveys for the Grand Trunk Railway, the Victoria Bridge over the St. Lawrence, and the adoption of the standard gauge on Canadian railways. He constructed waterworks for Montreal, Hamilton, Ottawa and other cities, and served several years as Engineer to the Montreal Harbour Commission.

Mr. Keefer acted as Canadian Commissioner at various International Exhibitions, and served on several Commissions, the most recent being the International Deep Waterways Commission. He acted as an arbitrator between the Dominion Government and the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, and filled other public offices. He was one of the founders and first president of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers, and also served the office of president of the American Society of Civil Engineers and of the Royal Society of Canada.

In 1878 Mr. Keefer received the C.M.G., and was also created an officer of the Legion of Honour.

He was elected a Member of the Institution on the 4th December, 1877, and on the 3rd December, 1912, he was elected an Honorary Member.


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