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Gentlemen Engineers

Gentlemen Engineers: The Careers of Frank and Walter Shanly

Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 280
  • Book Info
    Gentlemen Engineers
    Book Description:

    The engaging story of the 19th-century working lives of Frank and Walter Shanly, two Canadian civil engineers and businessmen who worked on many of the significant projects of the age. An important study of the professionalization of civil engineering.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7524-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. MAPS
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  6. Part One

    • 1 The Shanly Boys Leave Home
      (pp. 3-27)

      As James Shanly and his family took ship in April 1836 to cross the Irish Sea to Liverpool, whence they would set sail for the New World, they were leaving behind generations, even centuries, of struggle. But it was with decline, not starvation, that this Irish family had been struggling. For the Shanlys were a ‘family,’ an old family, whose distant ancestors had for centuries lived and died on lands of their own, and who strove not just to live but to live well. Now, although the Shanlys were still stationed well above the common people and still stocked with...

    • 2 Learning on the Job
      (pp. 28-61)

      The new generation of Shanlys would be urban professionals, not country gentlemen. This was unmistakable by the late 1840s. James had settled nearby, in London, as a lawyer. Charles was in Montreal, supporting himself as a clerk while devoting much of his time to journalism and poetry (he later moved to New York to follow his literary inclinations, with mixed success). Coote was in Masillon, Ohio, employed as an accountant, an occupation that eventually took him to Chicago. Frank and Walter, meanwhile, were working at a series of jobs in Canada and the United States, developing their skills as civil...

    • 3 A Rough Ride on the Grand Trunk Railway
      (pp. 62-100)

      For the next four years, from 1852 to 1856, Frank and Walter Shanly engineered a railway that began life as the humble Toronto and Guelph but became, in 1853, the Western Division of the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada. By far the largest, costliest, and most conspicuous project they had yet worked on, it became their greatest and most lasting accomplishment. Its successful completion set them up for the rest of their professional careers. If there was any doubt before this job whether Frank and Walter Shanly were capable, trustworthy civil engineers, there was none after it. By 1856 all...

  7. Part Two

    • [Part Two Introduction]
      (pp. 101-102)

      By the end of the Grand Trunk Railway construction, Frank and Walter Shanly were two established, successful civil engineers. Walter had risen about as far as he could go. Along with Samuel Keefer (A.M. Ross’s assistant on the Grand Trunk), Frederic Cumberland (of the Northern Railway), George Lowe Reid (of the Great Western Railway), and John Page (of the Department of Public Works), Walter was probably at the pinnacle of the Canadian engineering profession. Frank had not climbed so high, but he was not far behind. Resident engineer on a long section of the Grand Trunk was a prestigious enough...

    • 4 Boldness and Weakness: Frank Shanly, 1855–1882
      (pp. 103-139)

      As workmen laid the Grand Trunk’s rails and bolted its bridge girders into place through the fall of 1855, Frank Shanly must have been pondering the future. He had a fine situation on this railway – plenty of money, authority, and freedom – but it would soon be over. The money had indeed been plentiful: through most of 1854 and 1855 Frank had made £600 per annum for his basic Grand Trunk position and an extra £200 per annum as Gzowski’s resident engineer for Toronto’s lakefront esplanade.¹ To maintain such a comfortable style of life was not going to be...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • 5 Honour and Pride: Walter Shanly, 1855–1899
      (pp. 140-178)

      As construction of the Grand Trunk Railway began to wind down in the spring of 1856, Walter Shanly had not half the financial worries of brother Frank. With only himself to support, and with tastes not nearly so extravagant, Walter faced the imminent completion of his job with equanimity. He was living well – in a rented house at 35 Wellington Street, around the corner from Frank and Louisa’s home on Bay Street, with servants and ample space – but he lived within his means. Some years earlier Walter had awakened to the danger of indulging in a gentleman’s life...

  8. Part Three

    • 6 Gentlemen Engineers
      (pp. 181-194)

      It is as engineers that Frank and Walter Shanly are best known, and so it should be. Although their life’s work included much more than professional engineering, it was as engineers that they were most comfortable and found their greatest satisfaction. And it was as engineers that they saw themselves. Yet to fully understand these men and their careers one must also see them as gentlemen. Gentlemanly values suffused their working lives from start to finish, first leading them into the engineering profession and then shaping their style of work, not just as professionals but as entrepreneurs and even as...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 195-236)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 237-254)
  11. Picture Credits
    (pp. 255-256)
  12. Index
    (pp. 257-262)