Biographical Dictionary of Canadian Engineers

Edited by
Rod Millard

WHITE, Thomas Henry , b. 27 Jan. 1848, St. Thomas, Ont.; d. 20 March, 1939, Vancouver. Educated at the Old Grammar School and by private tutelage in St. Thomas, he was graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1870, but instead did survey and construction work on the Canadian Southern Railway. In 1875, he moved to British Columbia as an assistant engineer, Canadian Pacific Railway, under Marcus Smith. In 1883, he ran the first survey through the Fraser Valley pass between North Bend and Harrison Lake. From 1884 until 1888, he worked in Ontario and Quebec on the transcontinental railway, and, then, returned to British Columbia to work with H. J. Cambie on the Onderdonk Arbitration (1888-1889). He became chief engineer of the Canadian Northern Railway for Manitoba in 1896, surveying the Lake Manitoba Railroad and the Canal Company Line from Gladstone to Lake Winnipegosis. In 1909, he was appointed the Canadian Northern Railway's chief engineer for British Columbia and constructed the MacKenzie-Mann line from Yellowhead Pass to the Pacific. He retired in 1922 after the completion of the Vancouver Canadian National Terminal and the Okanagan Branch Line. He was best known for his surveys of the Fraser Valley and Yellowhead passes, especially for the location of easy grades. A founder of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers (Engineering Institute of Canada, 1918), he sat on the Vancouver Branch's Council (1914-1918), and was elected CSCE vice-president in 1918. He was also a member of the Association of Professional Engineers of British Columbia and belonged to the Vancouver and Manitoba Clubs. In 1901, he married Agnes Bartlett Buchanan. They had no children.

David Slichter