Photo courtesy of
Archives of Canada
The commissioner of the provinces railways from 1863-1864, from Bridgeville, in
Pictou County, it was MacDonald who hired Sandford Fleming as the provinces surveyor
for the extension of the railway from Truro to Pictou. The two men struck the deal during
a coach ride over the rough rode between Truro and New Glasgow. He studied law with Martin
Wilkins, who had at first opposed the construction of the railway, but later changed his
stand and voted for the Pictou extension.
Born in Southern Ontario, he was a railroad construction contractor in partnership with
Sir Donald Mann. In 1888 the two men began to organize the Canadian Northern Railway,
which became part of Canadian National Railways in 1919. The two men tried unsuccessfully
to purchase the Intercolonial Railway as part of their scheme to create a second
transcontinental railway in Canada. When that plan failed, they began purchasing smaller
lines in the Maritimes, in an attempt to link them together. Their major investment in
Nova Scotia was in the Halifax & Southwestern, and the coal-hauling Inverness &
Richmond railways. In total, they controlled 600 miles of track in Nova Scotia. Mackenzie
was said to be the financial brains behind the Canadian Northern.
Born in Acton, Ont. the partner of Sir William McKenzie, Mann is credited with being
the organizational genius of the Canadian Northern, linking prairie grain towns with the
railway, and earning it the nickname The Farmers Railway. Historian
Donald MacKay describes the pair as Backwoods boys yet they made millions
contracting for the Canadian Pacific Railway. He spent considerable time in Nova Scotia
overseeing his railway properties.
Never elected to public office, McCully was an Amherst lawyer who found himself
commissioner of the Nova Scotia Railway in 1860, when the commission had been reduced to
one member. McCully introduced severe cost-cutting measures that included wage rollbacks.
He deserves credit for putting the railway back in financial shape, even though it made
him highly unpopular.