Biographical Dictionary of Canadian Engineers

Edited by
Rod Millard

ABBOTT, Harry Braithwaite , b. 14 June 1829, Abbotsford, Lower Canada; d. 14 Sept. 1915, Vancouver. Brother of Sir John J.C. Abbott, third prime minister of Canada (1891-92), H.B. Abbott was educated at a Montreal high school and McGill University, and began his career on the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railway. In 1851, when the line was completed, he became a resident engineer. In 1857, he had a contract with civil engineer, C. Freer, on the Grand Trunk Railway, later leasing the Rivière du Loup section, opening and running it for a year. They also operated the Carillon and Grenville Railway, until its purchase by the Ottawa River Navigation Company. In 1864, he was chief engineer of the Brockville and Ottawa Railway, and, in 1872, built and then managed the Carleton Place and Ottawa branch of the Canadian Central Railway (1872), and, in 1876, organized the Eastern Extension Railway Company, becoming its chief engineer and manager of construction that year. In 1882, he was the Canadian Pacific Railway's manager of the Sault Ste. Marie branch, became the company's first general superintendent in B.C., (1886), retiring in 1897. As manager of construction of the CPR main line west in 1885, he was responsible for the transportation of troops to suppress the Riel Rebellion. A charter member of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers (1887), he served on its council in 1888 and 1894. He was an Anglican, ran unsuccessfully for the Conservatives in the federal election of 1872, and belonged to the Vancouver Club and the Vancouver Hunt Club.

Brian D. Rosati