Biographical Dictionary of Canadian Engineers

Edited by
Rod Millard

RUTTAN, Henry Norlande , b. 21 May 1848, Coburg, Ont.; d. 13 Oct. 1925, Winnipeg. Educated in grammar schools in Coburg and Cornwall, he served in a local militia unit against the Fenian invasions of 1866. Two years later, he joined the Grand Trunk Railway, and, the following year was employed as an engineer and contractor on the construction of the Baie de Chaleur section of the Intercolonial Railway. He held this position until 1874, when he joined the Canadian Pacific Railway and worked on the completion of the railway surveys along the north shore of Lake Superior. From 1874 to 1876, he conducted the first survey of the CPR's proposed line through the Yellowhead Pass. From 1880 to 1885, he was in private practice in Winnipeg, specializing in railway surveys, river improvements, drainage and sewerage. In 1881, he was charged with locating the route of the Emerson and North-Western Railway (never built), and saw action as a captain with the No. 2 Company, 90th Winnipeg Battalion of Rifles at Fish Creek and Batoche during the 1885 Riel Rebellion. In the same year, he was appointed city engineer of Winnipeg and conducted, among other things, feasibility studies of macadamization, the hydro-electric and navigational capabilities of the Assiniboine River; the use of artesian wells as an alternative water source, and a study of North American electric street railways. In 1914, he resigned his post, and holding the rank of brigadier-general, promoted recruitment and training during the First World War. In 1918, he was made a CMG in recognition of his service. A member of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Great Britain, and the American Society of Civil Engineers, he was a founding member of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers (1887), served for several years on its council, was elected vice president (1909), and president in 1910. He advocated stricter government controls on railway construction to conserve resources and increase efficiency. An important soldier, railway builder, and city engineer, Ruttan presided over the improvements to municipal infrastructure that transformed Winnipeg from frontier outpost to modern city.

Forrest D. Pass