Biographical Dictionary of Canadian Engineers

Edited by
Rod Millard

TYE, William Francis , b. 5 March 1861, Haysville Ont.; d. 9 Jan. 1932, Paris, France. He never married. Educated at the University of Ottawa, and at the School of Practical Science, University of Toronto (1881), he worked for the Dominion Land Survey in the Northwest Territories, and, in 1882, joined the Canadian Pacific Railway as a rodman. Beginning in 1885, he was employed by various foreign railways including the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba Railway; Tampico Branch, Mexican Central Railway (1887); the Great Falls and Canada Railway (1890), and the Great Northern Railway's Pacific Extension. Returning to Canada in 1893, he became chief engineer, Alberta, Railway and Coal Company. From 1895 to 1896, he was chief engineer on construction of the Kaslo and Slocan Railway, a subsidiary of the Great Northern, and then of the Columbia and Western Railway. When this company was absorbed by the CPR in 1897, he was appointed personal engineering assistant to company president, Sir Thomas Shaughnessy. Tye then worked as chief engineer of construction (1899-1902); assistant chief engineer (1902-04) and chief engineer (1904-06), before entering private practice, first in Toronto, and- then in Montreal. In 1917, he was commissioned to study railways in Hamilton, Ont.; he recommended the consolidation of rail traffic along the Grand Trunk Railway and its modification to accommodate electric, as well as steam locomotives. A member of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers (1896), he sat on its council (1905-07) was elected vice president (1905-10), and president in 1912. He believed that engineers should improve efficiency of location and construction to maximize shareholder profit. Earlier, in "Canada's Railway Problem and its Solution" (1917), he called for the consolidation, under private ownership, of the Canadian Northern and Grand Trunk Pacific Railways. He was awarded the CSCE's Gzowski medal for this essay. In 1920, testifying before the Sutherland Commission on hydro-electric radial railways in Ontario, he criticized the scheme of the chairman of the Hydro-Electric Power Commission, Sir Adam Beck, to develop a network of publicly owned and operated electric railways in southwestern Ontario. Tye cited duplication of lines and high construction costs.

Forrest D. Pass