Photo courtesy Fred Luvisi, Irvina Ca.
Born in Middle River, Pictou Co. he was actively engaged in the logging and lumbering
business around his home in his early years. As such, he was the chief supplier of
railroad ties to a number of regional railway enterprises, most notably the ill-fated
Chignecto Ship Railway scheme. In 1893 he moved his family to Duluth, Minn. where he and
four of his six sons; Andrew P., John D., Richard P. and Johnson P. established the firm
of Porter Bros. All four sons were born in Pictou County. The firm grew to become one of
the most prominent general contractors in the U.S. extending from its base to the Pacific
coast. Among the projects on which the firm worked was a $3 million contract for the
construction of James J. Hills Great Northern Railway.
Born in Pictou, Pottinger joined the Nova Scotia Railway as a clerk in 1863, and was
station master at Halifax (Richmond) by 1872. He was a cousin of Sir John Thompson, Nova
Scotia premier and later Canadian prime minister, and from 1879-1892 was chief
superintendent of the Intercolonial Railway. A such he was the mediator of disputes that
arose between customers, employees and politicians. He has been praised for his ability to
curb the interference of his political bosses and the often slovenly work habits of the
employees, but he never received a knighthood. He was General Manager of Canadian
Government Railways from 1892-1904 and retired in 1913.
Photograph courtesy Cumberland
A partner in the firm Rhodes Curry of Amherst, N.S. Rhodes was the public face of the
company as it grew from a woodworking plant in 1877 to one of the leading producers of
railcars in Canada. Rhodes Curry Co. built all the stations on the railway between Pictou
and Oxford, supplied the wheels for the massive carriage of the Chignecto Ship Railway and
built hundreds of cars for the Intercolonial Railway. More than 350 people were employed
at the Amherst factory, including Clarence and Elmore Silliker - who would become business
rivals based in Halifax - and in two years (1893-1895) the firm built 1200 freight cars
and 15 passenger cars.
Trained as a silversmith, Alexander Robb opened his own tinsmith shop in Amherst in
1848, and by 1879 quickly grew the business into one of the leading engineering firms of
its time under the name of A. Robb & Sons. Better known for its range of cooking, box
and parlour stoves, there was nothing the company would not tackle, including the
construction of two locomotives, both named Maria Theresa (the first was not
successful) for the Weymouth & New France pole railway in Digby County. Robbs
line of boilers for generating electricity for tramways sold worldwide.