H.G.C. Ketchum's signature

Photographs of H.G.C. Ketchum
Photos Courtesy of Reg Porter, Belle River, PEI


Sarah Milner Ketchum

Elmcroft House

Family Tree

Henry George Clopper Ketchum was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, on 26 Feb. 1839, the son of George E. Ketchum and Mary Ann ( Phillips) Ketchum. After graduating from the Fredericton Collegiate School, he enrolled at King's College (later the University of New Brunswick) in 1854 where he took the first engineering course offered. After college, Ketchum worked in various aspects of railway engineering, both in Canada and Brazil. As a young man, he overcame engineering challenges and carved out a place for himself with the finest engineers in the world. In 1866, Henry Ketchum married Sarah Milner of Sackville, New Brunswick.

In the mid 1870s, Ketchum became interested in what he is best remembered for, the Chignecto Ship Railway. Henry Ketchum conceived the idea of a ship railway that would cross the Isthmus of Chignecto, thereby facilitating passage of ships that had to circumnavigate Nova Scotia in order to move from the Bay of Fundy into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. For more than 10 years, Ketchum developed and promoted his vision until, with British financial backers, he actually began construction of a ship railway across the Isthmus of Chignecto in 1888. Financial problems, and eventually the loss of government support, were to scuttle his dream, leaving the ship railway three-quarters finished. On 8 Sept. 1896, at the age of 57, Henry George Clopper Ketchum died in Amherst, Nova Scotia, from a heart condition.

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Last Update:  2004/03/31