Photo courtesy of
Archives of Canada
A career civil servant-turned politician from Shelburne, Robertson was the president of
the Coast Railway Company of Nova Scotia, incorporated in 1893. The line ran from Yarmouth
to Shelburne, where it would connect with Halifax by fast steamer. Planned as a
narrow-gauge line to reduce cost, it was the only true narrow gauge public carrier
chartered by the Legislature, of which Robertson was a member from 1894 until his death.
The line was eventually absorbed into Mackenzie and Manns Halifax &
A captain of the Corps of Royal Engineers, Robinson was in Washington D.C. in 1846,
working on the boundary set by the Webster-Ashburton treaty when he was called upon to
replace John Hodges Pipon on the inter-colonial railway survey between Halifax and Quebec
City. His 1848 report laid the groundwork for the route that would eventually become the
Intercolonial Railway, planning the route for military purposes. His report in favour of
the commercial viability of the line renewed enthusiasm for the project.
Schreiber was born in England, and was a trained engineer before he came to Canada in
1852. He worked with Sandford Fleming on the Northern Railway, and became his partner,
working with Fleming as the provinces divisional engineer on the construction of the
Pictou branch of the Nova Scotia Railway, and surveys for the extension of the railway in
the Annapolis Valley. He was superintendent for the construction of the Intercolonial
Railway, and later became deputy federal minister of railways and canals, overseeing the
construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Originally an employee of Rhodes Curry, Silliker and his brother Elmore left Amherst to
start their own rail car plant in Halifax, perhaps to be closer to the political power
base and the Intercolonial Railways executives. Their plant was located near the
site now occupied by Pierceys Building Supply off Robie Street, and like Rhodes
Curry, went out of business when the railways began buying steel freight cars. A Silliker
passenger car still exists in Newfoundland on display as a school car.
Photo courtesy Cumberland County Museum