Born in Woodstock, N.B. and one of the first to graduate from the University of New
Brunswicks school of civil engineering, Ketchum was the designer of the ill-fated
Chignecto Ship Railway, a grand scheme to transport fully-laden cargo vessels across the
Isthmus of Chignecto between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, effectively shortening the
duration of a voyage between Montreal and the Northeastern U.S. by several weeks. The
Chignecto Marine Transport Railway was incorporated in 1882 and began construction of the
17-mile line between Tidnish and Fort Lawrence in Nova Scotia shortly thereafter. Having
accomplished several major railway projects elsewhere, notably in New Brunswick and the
Mogy Viaduct on Brazils Sao Paulo Railway. He was ultimately famed for the
spectacular failure of this venture, which was the only ship railway project of its kind,
and which almost succeeded.
A Scot by birth, Laurie as an established American railway engineer when he was
retained by Premier James W. Johnstons lieutenant Charles Tupper to investigate the
progress of the construction of the Nova Scotia Railway in 1857. Laurie found little fault
with the quality of James R. Formans engineering, but his report gave Tupper the
excuse he needed to fire Forman. Laurie took his place until the completion of the line to
Truro in 1858.
Descended from a distinguished Guernsey family, LeMarchant was a career soldier and
administrator. He replaced Sir John Harvey in Nova Scotia in 1852, and immediately became
a supporter of Howes railway scheme. He donated the land known as Governors
Farm at Richmond as the site of the terminus for the railway, and one of the first
locomotives on the line was named in his honor. He left Nova Scotia in 1859.
The last commissioner of the Nova Scotia Railway as a provincial operation (1864) and
the first as a federal railway (1869), this merchant from Paradise in the Annapolis Valley
was also a promoter of a railway link between Windsor and Digby. .His enthusiasm for the
project may have contributed to the misunderstanding that saw the contractors begin
building that line before the provincial subsidy was approved. Upon approval, Longley
insisted upon staging a second "first sod" turning ceremony, in which his wife
performed the ritual.
Photo courtesy of
Archives of Canada