A.G. Stewart

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A.G. Stewart, ALS
Known for Honorary Life Member (1959)

In June 1976, the survey profession of this country sustained a grievous loss in the passing, at the age of 90 years, of Alexander George Stewart, Alberta and Dominion Land Surveyor. He died in Edmonton on June 22. Alex Stewart made a distinctive contribution to the development of Northwestern Canada, of Alberta and of Edmonton, where he resided for more than 60 years. Throughout his highly active career, he remained a firm optimist about the future of the land surveying profession in this country.

Born in Ottawa on August 15, 1886, young Alex was educated in that city and in 1908, with a timely assist from the dominion astronomer, Dr. W.F. King, he was articled to J.D. Craig, a man he greatly admired as a highly competent land surveyor and as a grand human being.

Stewart helped in the demarcation of the Alaska-Canada boundary line, including the 141st meridian line survey. Packing 56-pound boundary monuments up steep mountainsides, avoiding fierce kodiak bears and surviving danger-filled river crossings made for a hard but invaluable apprenticeship in his profession and in life. Only stiff rum rations enabled some of these strangers to wilderness living to survive the ordeal.

In 1910, following this gruelling experience, Stewart worked in Alberta, and came into close contact with reserve Indians. Working out of Edmonton subsequently on township subdivision surveys in the Peace River area, he twice walked his way into this frontier land, once under severe midwinter conditions.

In 1916 Alex Stewart enlisted and proceeded overseas with the Corps of Canadian Engineers, helping to construct railways behind the front lines in France. Returning to civilian life in Edmonton he worked as chief surveyor in the Land Titles Office from 1920 to 1936.

During World War II, Stewart worked with Americans on the Canol Pipeline Project. When peace was restored, he built up a successful private survey practice in Edmonton; the firm of Stewart, Weir, Stewart, Watson, Heinrichs and Dixon became one of the best known in the profession across Canada.

Alex Stewart served on a number of community and regional boards, including the Edmonton Interim Development Appeal Board and the Provincial Planning Appeal Board. He was also an honorary life member of the Alberta Land Surveyors' Association and of the Professional Engineers Association of Alberta.

Don W. Thomson in the Canadian Surveyor Supplement, December 1976