Hugh McGrandle

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Hugh McGrandle, ALS
Known for Also an Ontario Land Surveyor and Dominion Land Surveyor

Hugh McGrandle passed away in the General Hospital at Wetaskiwin, Alberta, on July 6th, 1928, an outstanding surveyor and pioneer.

Hugh McGrandle was the seventh child of Samuel McGrandle and his wife, Matilda, and was born on a farm near Arundel, Quebec, on March 12th, 1857. His father, Samuel McGrandle, came out from Scotland in the year 1838, and settled near Arundel in the County of Argenteiul, Que., where he married Matilda Wilson, Hugh's mother, who died in 1857.

His father, Samuel, afterwards married Elizabeth McIntyre, by whom he had twelve additional children. The father moved with his family to Ontario about the year 1863, and settled near Listowel, Perth County.

Hugh, the subject of this sketch, was educated at Rockwood Academy, Rockwood, Ontario, and at the School of Practical Science, Toronto, and served under articles for three years as a surveyor with the late Hugh Wilson, PLS, of Mount Forest. During his apprenticeship he assisted in surveys of roads and townsites in Ontario, and in the Lower Ottawa Valley, and spent one season (1881) on government work in North-West Territory. He qualified as a Provincial Land Surveyor for Ontario on January 5th, 1883, and as a Dominion Land Surveyor shortly afterwards. He laid out the townsite of Huntsville, Ontario, of which he became a resident, and made many surveys in the vicinity of timber limits for J.R. Booth and Hamilton Brothers in the townships of Chaffey and Brunel.

In May 1890, he married Helen Robina Foote, daughter of Dr. Jonathan Foote, of Brooklyn, New York, a noted physician, of his day.

The children of Hugh and Helen McGandle, all born in Huntsville, Ontario were: (1) William J. McGrandle, born November 12th, 1892. (2) Hugh McGrandle Jr., born March 28th, 1897. (3) Nora McGrandle, born July 18th, 1902.

After his marriage Hugh McGrandle continued to make surveys in Muskoka and Parry Sound districts, with township subdivisions in the West each season. About the year 1900 he surveyed and laid out the shortest standard gauge commercial passenger railway in Canada, "The Huntsville and Lake of Bays Railway," at the portage dividing Peninsular Lake from Lake of Bays. This railway is slightly over one mile in length, and a "switch-back" had to be used in order to overcome the difference of level of about 100 feet. The motive power consists of two "dinky" locomotives, formerly used in logging operations, a converted Toronto Street Railway car for passengers, and a small box car for freight and baggage. Both locomotives are required to haul the "train'" of two cars, known as "The Hot Tamali Limited."

On the death of his wife in 1902, Hugh McGrandle left Huntsville with his family and located at Wetaskiwin, Alberta, where he carried on until about 1915 with general surveys locally, and with topographical contracts from the Dominion Government in the Medicine Hat, Battle River, Pigeon Lake, Athabasca Landing, Smoky Lake, Pembina River, McLeod River, Jasper Park, Wolf Creek, Brazeau River, and Embarras River Districts. He also, during this period, laid out practically all townsites between Wetaskiwin and Hardisty on the Edmonton-Saskatoon line of railway.

In carrying out the government work he had many narrow escapes from death. In an attempt to cross the Embarras River during high water on a small raft of three logs, the raft broke up and he was carried, clinging to one log, through the rapids and landed two miles below, in a badly bruised condition. North of Athabasca Landing, in 1907, he was badly mauled by an enraged bear, and only by feigning death did he manage to escape. Transportation was almost wholly dependent on jack-horses as wagon roads seldom extended nearer than twenty miles to the survey location, and he had many fights with forest fires for day after day, felling trees, trench digging and backfiring, in an attempt to arrest the progress of the flames.

Hugh McGrandle was a member of Unity Lodge, AF and AM, of Huntsville, a member of the Alberta Old Timers' Association", a Director and Shareholder of the "Westaskiwin Co-operative Trading Co.," and owner of "Coulee Ranch" a 580-acre fertile farm three miles east of Westaskiwin.

He passed away in his 72nd year, after two years failing health, and two serious operations. His body was taken to Huntsville by his son, Hugh, and there met by his elder son William, who had flown from Ottawa, where he was then stationed. Burial took place in the family plot in St. Andrew's Cemetery, Huntsville, next to the remains of Helen, his wife.

A.P. Walker, OLS