Biographical Dictionary of Canadian Engineers

Edited by
Rod Millard

WALKEM, George Alexander , b. 8 July 1872, Kingston, Ont.; d. 13 Dec. 1946, Vancouver. Educated in local public schools, he served a four year apprenticeship with the Kingston Foundry and Locomotive Works (1887-1891), and obtained his B.Sc. in mechanical engineering from McGill University in 1896. He moved to Vancouver in 1898 to work as a track superintendent on the construction of the British Columbia Electric Railway, and, in 1901 was appointed manager of Vancouver Engineering Works Ltd. In 1915, he joined the Royal Engineers and worked on the Kantara Military Railway across the Sinai Desert to Beersheba, Jerusalem, and Haifa. He retired a Major and returned to Vancouver in 1918. He was president of the Gulf of Georgia Towing Company (1911-1945), formed the Vancouver Iron Works Ltd (1926), and West Coast Shipbuilders Ltd. in 1942. A member of the Engineering Institute of Canada, he sat on its council (1921-1922), was elected vice-president (1923-1924), and was president in 1926. He helped create the Association of Professional Engineers of British Columbia (1920), becoming president in 1926. He was also a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (Great Britain). In 1945, he was awarded the EIC's Julian C. Smith Medal. Creating faster and cheaper shipbuilding methods and better boiler plants was his main engineering contribution. He was also a Conservative MPP for Point Grey from 1924 to 1929, and belonged to the Vancouver Club, Union Club of Victoria, Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and the Shaughnessy Golf Club. An Anglican, he married Mary Collins and they had three sons and two daughters.

David Slichter