Biographical Dictionary of Canadian Engineers

Edited by
Rod Millard

PETERSON, Peter Alexander , b. 8 Nov. 1839, Niagara Falls, Upper Canada; d. 21 Nov. 1913, Montreal. Educated at a public school and by private tuition, he was graduated with a B.Sc. from the School of Practical Science, University of Toronto, and in 1859 was articled to T.C. Keefer. Peterson worked on the Hamilton waterworks, the Hamilton and Port Dover Railway, and on a survey of the Georgian Bay Canal, as well as on large dams on the Grand River at Brantford and Paris. He obtained a provincial land surveyor's licence in 1865, and, two years later, left Keefer's office to work for the Petrolia Branch of the Great Western Railway. From 1867 to 1872, he was resident engineer of the Northern Division of the New York, Oswego and Midland Railway, the Bathurst division of the Intercolonial Railway, and was chief engineer of the Toronto Waterworks (1872-75). Beginning in 1875, he became, successively, chief engineer of a section of the Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Occidental Railway; the Atlantic and North West Railway (1881-90); Canadian Pacific Railway (1890-1903) and the Guelph and Goderich Railway (1903-08). He retired in 1908. Responsible for many of the important railway projects in eastern Canada, Peterson was noted professionally for the location and construction of bridge substructures, such as the St. Lawrence River Bridge near Montreal completed in 1886. 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), and served as vice president (1889, 1892 and 1893), and president in 1894. He stressed the importance of economy and honesty in engineering. He was an Anglican, a member of the St. James Club, Montreal, and, in 1876, married Mary Isabel Langlois. They had two daughters and a son.

Mihaela Sitariu