William Sykes (1815-1872)
1873 Obituary 
MR. WILLIAM SYKES was born at Cortworth, near Wentworth, Yorkshire, on the 27th of September, 1815.
He was apprenticed at an early age to his uncle, who was master-builder for Earl Fitzwilliam, engaged in building and colliery works.
When not much more than twenty years of age he took a contract on the Midland railway, and in the year 1839 he built a station, engine-house, and workshops at Bromsgrove, on the Birmingham and Gloucester railway.
In the year 1840 he tendered for works on the River Shannon, and in partnership with his cousin, Mr. John Brookfield (late of Halifax, Nova Scotia), built two large bridge - one at Lanesborough, Co. Longford, the other at Tarmonberry, Co. Roscommon ;- and the same firm also deepened the River Shannon by dredging.
In 1846 Mr. Sykes went to Scotland, and, in partnership with Mr. Wardrop, constructed a large portion of the railway between Dumfries and Glasgow.
After seven years’ residence there he proceeded to Nova Scotia to make surveys for the projected railway system of that province, and, returning to England, sailed to Canada as one of the firm of Sykes, De Bergue, and Co., contractors for the Brockville and Ottawa and Montreal and Bytown railways, the whole of the preliminary works of which were carried out under his direction and supervision.
Financial difficulties supervening, on the occasion of the Crimean mar, the works were suspended, and Mr. Sykes removed to Upper Canada. There he matured the plan of a new system of tunnelling under rivers.
Mr. Sykes designed and executed the preliminary plans for a ship-canal to unite lakes Huron and Ontario, debauching on the latter at Toronto.
He was also engaged as engineer on the Port Perry and Whitby railway, and as contractor on the Canada Southern railway, where exposure during the severe weather of winter brought on the disease that ultimately resulted in his death, which took place on the 3rd of April, 1872.
Mr. Sykes was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 7th of April, 1868. He was of a singularly modest disposition, and was much endeared to a large circle of friends and acquaintances for his amiable, honourable, and upright character.