Biographical Dictionary of Canadian Engineers

Edited by
Rod Millard

MACDOUGALL, Alan, b. 22 May 1842, India; d. 23 April 1897, Exmouth, England. Educated at a private school and the Edinburgh Academy, Macdougall was articled to a consulting engineer in 1859, and, in 1865, became a resident engineer on the British Railway Company in Scotland. Arriving in Canada in 1868, he worked on the Toronto Grey and Brice Railway, and from 1871 to 1873, supervised the construction of the North Grey Branch of the Northern Railway. After 1873, he improved river and harbour works on the Upper Lakes and St Lawrence for the dominion government, returning to the British Railway Company in 1877. Resettling in Canada in 1882 as division engineer for the Canadian Pacific Railway in Manitoba, he began a consulting engineering practice in 1883, designing sewerage and waterworks. Between March 1887 and November 1888, he was assistant city engineer in Toronto, before he returned to private practice. An Institution of Civil Engineers of Great Britain and Royal Society of Edinburgh member, Macdougall was active in the St. Andrew's Society of Toronto and the Canadian Institute. He was the leading organizer of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers, Canada's first national professional engineering society, founded in 1887, becoming vice-president in 1894. He advocated a code of ethics to regulate competition among engineers, and in 1887 attempted, unsuccessfully, to have the CSCE incorporated as a self-governing licensing body. In 1893, however, he persuaded the CSCE to lobby provincial governments for licensing laws. In 1896, Manitoba enacted North America's first such law: Quebec followed suit one year later. These laws inspired more legislation immediately following the First World War, which recognized engineering as a profession. Macdougall was thus one of the fathers of Canadian engineering professionalism, and an important figure in the development of the profession in Canada.

Rod Millard