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William John Forrest

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William John Forrest (1828-1873)


1874 Obituary [1]

WILLIAM JOHN FORREST was born at Annan in Dumfriesshire on 18th July 1828, and served his apprenticeship with Messrs. McCallum and Dundas, civil engineers of Edinburgh, by whom he was employed on the survey of the Ayrshire and Galloway Railway and on the construction of the Edinburgh branch of the Caledonian Railway.

In January 1852 he went to Canada, where he was appointed one of the assistant engineers of the Great Western Railway of Canada, then in course of construction.

In 1853 he was appointed chief assistant to Mr. James C. Street, who superintended the construction of the Hamilton and Toronto Railway.

On the completion of this railway in 1856, for which Mr. Forrest had prepared all the working plans, he was employed for upwards of two years as chief assistant on the surveys and plans of the projected Niagara and Detroit Rivers Railway, of which Mr. Street was the Chief Engineer.

Towards the end of 1859 he returned to England, and in 1863 became chief assistant to Messrs. Street and Marmont in London, with whom he continued until the death of Mr. Street in April 1867.

He then established himself in practice on his own account till the summer of 1869, when he returned to Canada, and was engaged as chief assistant to Mr. Sandford Fleming, the Engineer-in-Chief of the Intercolonial Railway, his principal duties being to superintend under Mr. Fleming the designs and working plans of the numerous and varied structures in stone and iron required for that railway. This situation he continued to hold till the time of his death, which took place on 9th September 1873, in the forty-sixth year of his age, his health having been impaired by severe illness some months previously.

He became a Member of the Institution in 1871.


1874 Obituary [2]

MR. WILLIAM JOHN FORREST, the third son of Mr. John Forrest, of Annan, Dumfriesshire, was born on the 18th of July, 1828.

He received his early education at Annan Academy, and attained considerable proficiency in classics and mathematics. He subsequently spent some time in perfecting himself in mathematics under private tuition, and early in the year 1846 was articled for five years to Messrs. NcCallum and Dundas, Civil Engineers, of Edinburgh. Whilst with them he was employed on the surveys of the Ayrshire and Galloway railway, and on the construction of the Edinburgh branch of the Caledonian railway.

In January 1852 he was appointed one of the assistant engineers of the Great Western railway of Canada, then in course of construction under Mr. R. G. Benedict, of U.S., as Chief Engineer.

In 1853 he became chief assistant to the late Mr. James C. Street, M. Inst. C.E., who superintended the construction of the Hamilton and Toronto railway as Engineer for the English contractor, Mr. George Wythes, Assoc. Inst. C.E. ; the company’s chief engineer being Mr. George Lowe Reid, M. Inst. C.E.

On the completion, in 1856, of this line (for which Mr. Forrest had prepared all the working drawings), he was employed for upwards of two years as chief assistant on the surveys and plans of the projected Niagara and Detroit Rivers railway, of which Mr. Street was the chief engineer.

Towards the end of 1859 he returned to England, and subsequently, in 1863, joined the firm of Messrs. Street and Marmont, MM. Inst. C.E., and remained with them as chief assistant until the death of Mr. Street, in April 1867.

He then continued in practice on his own account till the summer of 1869, when he returned to Canada and became principal assistant to Mr. Sandford Fleming, M. Inst. C.E., the Engineer-in-chief of the Intercolonial railway. His duties in this office were mainly to superintend the preparation, under Mr. Fleming, of the designs and working plans of the numerou8 and varied structures in timber, stone, and iron required for that important line of railway. He acquitted himself in that post with great professional skill and judgment, and earned the well-merited esteem and respect both of the Engineer-in-chief and of the Dominion Railway Commissioners. He continued to hold this responsible situation until his death; but he was obliged to relinquish active work in May 1873, having been seized by an attack of pleurisy of a severe character, from the effects of which he never fully recovered.

He spent the summer at Kamouraska, on the lower St. Lawrence, in the hope of recovering his health; but whilst making a tour of inspection of some of the works of the Intercolonial railway, he was suddenly prostrated by illness and carried back to Kamouraska. There he rallied a little, but only for a brief space, for he breathed his last at that place on the 9th of September, 1873, and was buried at Ottawa.

Mr. Forrest was a clever engineer, but he was not fortunate enough to enjoy many opportunities of displaying his skill as an Engineer-in-Chief. He was a man of a high sense of honour, and was ever most jealous of the interests and fair fame of his profession, to which he was ardently attached.

He was elected a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers on the 2nd of March, 1869, and was also a Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


1873 Obituary [3]



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