Colonel Albert Coleman Garner, D.S.O., was born in Warwickshire, England. He moved, with his parents, to Canada in 1888. He completed his education and graduated as a civil engineer. In 1901 he worked with J. Brabazon, DLS and then articled to W.T. Thompson, DTS, (surveying and engineering) from 1902 to 1907. After receiving his Dominion Land Surveyor commission in 1907 he was appointed district surveyor and engineer for the Department of Public Works, Saskatchewan.
Colonel Garner was a veteran of the South African War and World War I and was active in the military throughout his life. Enlisting in the Lord Strathcona Horse in 1900 he served for nearly two years in the South African War as a special scout. In 1901 he was severely wounded and returned to Canada.
In peacetime, while working, he served with the Canadian Light Horse from 1908 to 1913 and enlisted again for active service in 1914. He was appointed adjutant with the 32nd Battalion and promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1915, becoming the assistant director of supply and transport overseas. From England, he went on to France in 1916 and commanded the 195th Regina Battalion. In 1917, he organized and commanded the 2nd Labour Battalion, then went on to command the 12th Battalion, a position he maintained until their return to Canada in 1919.
After the war he was to return home to his profession as chief surveyor, Saskatchewan and also to command various military regiments and brigades. On April 2, 1912, Colonel Garner was appointed chief surveyor of the Surveys Branch of Land Titles Offices and retained this position until his retirement in 1944.
Colonel Garner was very active in community work. He served on the town council of Qu'Appelle in 1911 and 1912 and was an active member of the Regina Town Planning Board for many years. He was a member of the organizational meeting to create the Saskatchewan Land Surveyors' Association in 1910, becoming president from 1913 until November 1914, when he went oversees. At that time, Mr. W.A. Begg became president.
There was resentment from the Dominion Land Surveyors in private practice when Alberta and Saskatchewan formed their own land surveyor associations. Mr. Deville (Surveyor General) tried to smooth things over when he wrote:
Dominion Land Surveyors had been put out of private business in the western provinces by the legislatures. That was, perhaps, unfair but they had to put up with it, for the provinces were within their rights.
On February 20, 1912 Colonel Garner added more fuel to the fire when he submitted a questionnaire for DLS convention discussions regarding a directive that only Dominion Land Surveyors could perform legal surveys on public lands.
(Quoting from Men and Meridians:)
Not for many years to come would the feelings of distrust and bitterness engendered by this jurisdictional dispute dwindle and finally disappear.
The annual report from the 1913 Saskatchewan Land Surveyors' meeting indicates the members were not teatotalers! There were eight toasts during their annual dinner, as follows:
1. The King - by W.M. Stewart
2. Provincial Legislature - by T.W. Brown
3. Civil Service - by H.G. Phillips
4. The Profession - by Mr. Moberly
5. Our Sister Associations - by A.C. Garner
6. Our Sister Institutions - by E.H. Phillips
(I assume today we call them "sister/brother")
7. The Pioneer Surveyors - by W.T. Thompson
Today, we are lucky to toast the Queen!
There are many articles on file that were written by Colonel Garner covering many aspects of surveying and surveyors. One excellent paper he wrote in 1913 is entitled Rights, Responsibilities and Judicial Functions of Surveyors.
His interests, outside of the surveying and military life, included his participation in the Legion, Masonic Order, Royal Geographical Society, Canadian Authors Association, Engineering Institute of Canada, Canadian Institute of International Affairs, Boy Scouts (both provincial and federal) and other community organizations.
The Garners had two sons and two daughters: Dr. Henry Garner in Moose Jaw, Donald in Los Angeles, Eleanor in England and Mrs. Jack Grant in Lachine, Quebec. (These names appeared in his obituary, 1961.)