Henry George Clopper Ketchum fonds

 MG H53

Archives & Special Collections
Harriet Irving Library
University of New Brunswick
P. O. Box 7500
Fredericton, New Brunswick
E3B 5H5

November 1998

Table of Contents

Biographical sketch
Scope and content

1.  Early professional activities 1857-1895
2.  Professional activities, Chignecto Ship Railway [188-?]-1907

Sub-series: 3.  Business correspondence 1859-1902
4.  Personal, H. G. C. Ketchum 1855-1916
5.  Printed and published engineering material 1880-1894
6.  Cartographic material and technical drawings 1855-[189-?]
7.  Artifacts 1828-[189-?]
8.  Ketchum family business and personal records 1825-1849

Henry George Clopper Ketchum fonds [textual record and other material]. -- 1825-1916, predominant 1862-[189-?] -- 74.5 cm of textual record and other material

Note: Includes 108 photographs, 2 drawings, 1 print, 13 maps, 3 profiles, 2 architectural drawings, 10 technical drawings and 3 artifacts

Biographical sketch: Civil engineer Henry George Clopper Ketchum, son of George and Mary Ann (Phillips) Ketchum, was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick on 26 February 1839 of loyalist descent. Educated at Fredericton Collegiate School, in 1854 he attended a series of lectures on engineering, surveying and levelling given by English engineer McMahon Cregan at King's College, Fredericton. In 1862 Ketchum was awarded the first diploma in civil engineering from the University of New Brunswick, the successor to King's.

While a student, Ketchum was employed by the European and North American Railway during the summers from 1856 to 1860, first as telegrapher, then as a surveyor and later, under chief engineer Alexander Luders Light, as assistant construction engineer. In 1860 he relocated to Brazil where he acted as agent and district engineer for James Fox and Sons, the firm contracted to construct the Santos and São Paulo Railway.

Returning to New Brunswick in 1865, he was hired as resident engineer for International Contracting Company, being charged with building the Eastern Extension of the European and North American Railway from Moncton to Amherst. When the company went bankrupt, construction was taken over by Clark, Punchard and Company, and Ketchum was hired as sub-contractor, a position which he held until 1868. In 1869 he was named chief engineer of construction of the New Brunswick Railway from Fredericton to Edmundston, and he was also named engineer of a section of the Quebec and New Brunswick Railway. As well, by 21 August 1866, he had married Sarah E. Milner of Sackville, N. B.

During the mid-1870s Ketchum became interested in the scheme for which he is best known. The Chignecto Marine Transport Railway Company was formed in 1882 to construct a ship railway for transporting vessels across the Isthmus of Chignecto, thereby facilitating shipping between the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Ketchum acted as managing director of the project, which was partially financed by the Canadian Parliament in the form of an annual subsidy, if the line was completed in seven years and kept in good repair.

Construction began in October 1888, but the Chignecto Ship Railway soon faced serious financial difficulties. The 1890 collapse of Baring Brothers and Company, the London bank backing the project, signalled the death of Ketchum's dream, which was assured in 1892 when Parliament refused to grant the company a second extension. Soon after, on 8 September 1896, Ketchum died unexpectedly in Amherst, Nova Scotia. He was buried at Tidnish within view of the ship railway terminus.

Sources: "Henry George Clopper Ketchum", Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. XII, pp. 484-485.

Note: It appears this entry contains an error as to H. G. C. Ketchum's parentage. The Ketchum family genealogy and W. O. Raymond, in The New Brunswick Historical Journal (Summer 1991), list George Ketchum, the son of Richard Ketchum of Woodstock, N. B., as the father of H. G. C. Ketchum and Mary Ann Phillips, the daughter of Capt. T. Phillips, as his mother.

Scope and content: This fonds documents the professional career of civil engineer Henry George Clopper Ketchum, particularly with respect to the building of railway lines in Canada and Brazil and the construction of the Chignecto Ship Railway. It also contains biographical information about him as well as business records pertaining to a general store presumably operated by members of the Ketchum family at Fredericton.

The fonds consists of 8 series: 1. Early professional activities, 2. Professional activities, Chignecto Ship Railway, 3. Business correspondence, 4. Personal, H. G. C. Ketchum, 5. Printed and published engineering material, 6. Cartographic material and technical drawings, 7. Artifacts, 8. Ketchum family business and personal records
It includes incoming and outgoing correspondence, reports, minutes, specifications, estimates, contracts, schedules, maps, surveys, plans, blueprints, photographs and negatives. It also includes papers on engineering subjects, engineering notes, diagrams, essays, and articles and newspaper clippings about the Chignecto Ship Railway.
Title based on the name of the creator

Deposited with the archives of the Bonar Law-Bennett Library, University of New Brunswick by Mrs. John Stephens in 1945

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