Biographical Dictionary of Canadian Engineers

Edited by
Rod Millard

HOLGATE, Henry , b. 14 Sept. 1863, Milton, Ont.; d. 21 Jan. 1930, Montreal. Educated at schools in Toronto, he was apprenticed to F. W. Cumberland in 1878 and worked on the construction and maintenance of railways and bridges until 1891, when he was engaged in bridge and structural designing. In 1894, the Royal Electric Company hired him to build and operate the Montreal Park and Island Railway. In 1898, he became manager of the West India Electric Company, supervising a hydro-electric tramway in Kingston, Jamaica. Returning to Montreal in 1901, he went into partnership with R. A. Ross, and they built hydro-electric plants for companies such as the West Kootenay Power Company, and the Canada Copper Company. In 1906, he investigated contract disputes over the Peterborough Lift Lock, and, the following year, the Quebec Bridge disaster. He was a member of a board of consulting engineers that reported on the future development of Montreal's harbour in 1909. Holgate & Ross consulting engineers was dissolved in 1911 when Holgate became president of the Cedar Rapids Power Company, a position he held briefly before becoming the company's consulting engineer. From this point, he acted mainly as a consultant until 1929, when he co-authored, with J. A. Jamison, a comprehensive study of the proposed St. Lawrence deep waterway project. A member of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Great Britain, the American Society of Civil Engineers, he joined the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers in Dec. 1887 and served on its council in 1906 and 1908, and was elected vice president in 1911 and 1912. Politically independent and a non-sectarian Christian, he was president of the Engineers Club of Montreal and sat on the board of management of the Montreal General Hospital. In 1888, he married Bessie Bell Headly of Milford, Delaware. An engineer with an international reputation for civil and electrical engineering, Holgate helped lay the foundation of the Canadian electrical utility industry.

Patrick Copeland