Biographical Dictionary of Canadian Engineers

Edited by
Rod Millard

GAMBLE, Francis Clarke, b. 23 Oct. 1848, Toronto; d. 20 Nov. 1926, Victoria. Educated at Upper Canada College and by private tuition, in 1869 he was employed as a chainman on the Intercolonial Railway, and, in 1871, joined the Great Western Railway, first as a rodman, and then as an assistant engineer on the Canada Air Line Railway linking Glencoe to Fort Erie via St. Thomas, Ont. In 1872, he enrolled in Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute’s one-year short course in Troy New York, and upon completion of his studies in 1873 was appointed assistant engineer for contracts on the Prince Edward Island Railway until 1875, when he returned to the Intercolonial as an assistant engineer. He held the same position on the CPR’s Georgian Bay Railway (1876-77), and joined the Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Occidental Railway as assistant engineer, leaving in 1878 for private practice. Returning to the CPR in 1879 as first assistant engineer on Contract 42 between Rat Portage on Lake of the Woods and Eagle River in 1880, he became the CPR’s first assistant engineer for B.C. The following year, he was an assistant engineer for the federal Department of Public Works in B.C., becoming resident engineer (1887), and, in 1889, the dominion government’s resident agent in B.C. After another year in private practice with the firm Gamble and O’Reilly, he was appointed public works engineer for the B.C. government, and he supervised extensive dyking in the lower Fraser Valley. In 1910, he was promoted to chief engineer and inspecting engineer for the provincial Department of Railways, positions he held until his retirement in 1918. A member of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Great Britain, and the American Society of Civil Engineers, he was a charter member of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers (1887), served as a counsellor (1892, 1898), was elected vice president in 1913 and 1914, and president in 1915. Upon his death, the Engineering Journal described Gamble as “one of Canada’s pioneer railway builders.”

Forrest D. Pass