Biographical Dictionary of Canadian Engineers

Edited by
Rod Millard

PERLEY, Henry Fullerton , b. 1831 Saint John N.B.; d. 15 July 1897, Bisely Camp, England. Educated at various private schools and the Collegiate Grammar School, Fredericton N.B., he was a pupil of civil engineer, John Wilkinson before he entered the N.B. public service in 1848, where he worked on exploratory surveys of a proposed N.B. railway. In 1852, the British firm Peto, Brassey, Jackson and Betts, enlisted him for surveys in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick; four years later, the company hired him to work on the Montreal-to-Brockville section of the Grand Trunk Railway. In 1856, he became resident engineer for the New Brunswick government, constructing the European and North American Railway connecting Shediac and Saint John. From Dec. 1860 to May 1863, he was in private practice. He was then appointed provincial engineer of Nova Scotia, a post he held until 1865, when he resigned to work as an agent for Kelk, Waring Bros. and Lucas, contractors for the construction of the Metropolitan Extension [underground] Railway in London. He returned to government service in 1870, charged with improving freighting facilities of provincial railways, and the building of a deep water terminus and extension line at Saint John. In 1872, he was appointed chief engineer of harbours and other works in the Maritimes for the Department of Public Works, becoming chief engineer of the department in 1879. Retiring in 1891, he returned to Public Works in 1893 serving until his death. A charter member of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers (1887), he served as its first vice president, and was elected again to the same position in 1889. He won the Gzowski medal for his paper: "The Resistance of Piles," (1895). During the 1861 Trent crisis, he helped recruit the New Brunswick Engineers, and, in 1881 was appointed Engineer Officer (Major). He married Julia E. Fairweather in 1853, and they had five children. When he died, much of the Maritimes' infrastructure could be traced to Perley's work.

Patrick Copeland