Biographical Dictionary of Canadian Engineers

Edited by
Rod Millard

MONRO, Thomas , b. 27 Nov. 1831, Londonderry, Ireland; d. 19 March 1903, Coteau Landing, Que. Arriving in Canada in 1850, he worked under T. C. Keefer on the Montreal and Kingston Railway, Victoria Bridge (Montreal), and the Montreal waterworks. From 1854 to 1856, he supervised the construction of a part of the Grand Trunk Railway near Prescott, was resident engineer on the Hamilton and Port Dover Railway, and the Hamilton waterworks. After 1860, he worked for the Canadian Government in various capacities. He was government inspector of railways (1863); studied the Canadian shores of Lakes Huron and Erie for the locations of harbours of refuge (1868); examined the eastern end of the Dawson Route for a possible waterway from Lake Superior to the Northwest (1869), and, in 1871, located the third Welland Canal. A year later, he was appointed engineer-in-charge of the canal's enlargement, leaving the works in 1888, a year after its opening. In 1891, he reported on the Manchester Ship Canal, and located, designed, built and named the Soulange Canal (1891-99), situated between Lake St. Louis and Lake Francis on the north shore of the St. Lawrence. With its innovative lock design, it was fully electrified and illuminated, and, for the first time in Canada, used Portland cement extensively throughout the structure. He also designed St. Catherines' waterworks (1895), and similar smaller works, and arbitrated water power disputes. In 1895, he chaired a board of engineers that examined Montreal's harbour; represented the federal government at a convention of the Deep Waterways Association in Cleveland, and was a member of a commission that conferred with the Americans on a potential route for a deep waterway connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic, making preliminary locations and estimates for the project on the Canadian side. A member of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Great Britain, he was a charter member of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers (1887), served for three years on its council, was elected vice president (1892 and 1893), and president in 1895. He married Ellen Jane Strong in 1860, and they had two daughters.

Peter Allilomis