Louis B. Stewart

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Louis B. Stewart, DLS, DTS
StewartLB.JPG
1861-1932
Known for Mount Louis and Mount Stewart in Banff National Park were named after him

Louis B. Stewart was born in the town of Port Hope, Ontario, on January 27th, 1861, son of George Alexander Stewart and Cecilia Ward; and received his primary and secondary education at the public and high schools of that place. In 1887 he moved to Peterborough with his parents and became field and office assistant to his father who was a surveyor and engineer. In 1878, he passed the preliminary examination for the Ontario Land Surveyors and became apprenticed to his father for three years.

His first surveying experience was in 1879 in northern Manitoba where his father was commissioned by the Dominion Government to subdivide several townships. This survey proved to be a rude introduction to the profession which he had chosen, since the country was interspersed with marshes and muskegs as well as being densely wooded. The work took nine months to complete; thus he experienced both summer and winter conditions while living in tents; the latter for which they were inadequately prepared. During the first half of the survey he was head chainman and during the latter he was transitman.

Mr. Stewart returned to Peterborough and shortly afterwards moved to Toronto where he spent the next two years. This time was occupied by work on the location survey of a railway line between Toronto and Peterborough which later became the CPR; and studies for the final OLS examination which he passed in April of 1882. He then joined his father in Winnipeg and soon after going there he also passed the examinations for commissions as a Dominion Land Surveyor and Manitoba Land Surveyor in 1882; thus entitling him to practice anywhere between Quebec and British Columbia. He now entered into partnership with his father and spent the next five years surveying city and town lots in Winnipeg and other places; mining location at the Lake of the Woods, timber limits on Cedar Lake, the Clearwater, Bow, Kananaskis and Spray rivers and numerous lesser surveys.

In 1885, the Riel Rebellion paralyzed engineering work in the West for the time. On March 30th of that year he enlisted in the 95th Manitoba Grenadiers which was organized in Winnipeg. This battalion saw no actual fighting but was of use in preventing the spread of the Rebellion. On one occasion they intercepted a large party of Indians and ordered them back to their reserve.

Early in the following year Mr. Stewart's father was appointed by the Dominion Government to make a topographic survey of a considerable tract of land in the vicinity of the Hot Sulphur Springs at Banff; which survey was a necessary preliminary to the laying out of Rocky Mountains Park (later Banff National Park) owing to the rugged nature of the country. The idea of a public park for the benefit of tourists and health seekers was an immediate success as applications for building sites and concession in connection with the use of the waters of the Springs began to be received. Mr. George A. Stewart was appointed superintendent of the Park and Mr. Louis B. Stewart was officially appointed to carry on the surveys, which work he had been doing from the beginning. The surveying included the laying out of two townsites, one near Banff Station and one at Anthracite; the mapping of roads and the surveys incidental to their construction; these being in addition to the outline of the Park. He continued in charge of this work until the end of the summer of 1888 with an intermission of a few months in the winter and spring of 1887.

During the intermission mentioned above, Mr. Stewart went to Ottawa and passed the examination for a commission as a Dominion Topographical Surveyor. This was in February 1887. To quote from the Dominion Lands Act, "the DTS is designed to test a candidate’s knowledge of the higher branches of surveying qualifying him for the prosecution of extensive governing or topographic surveys and geographic explorations." It was on the basis of this last examination that the late Professor Galbraith recommended that Mr. Stewart apply for the position of lecturer in surveying in the School of Practical Science.

In the summer of 1888, Mr. Stewart's appointment as lecturer was approved and he came to Toronto at the beginning of September of that year to prepare for his duties. In 1901, he was advanced to full professorship in surveying and geodesy which position he held until his retirement in 1932.

Through his studies of geodesy, he was led "irresistibly" to extend his inquiries into all the branches of astronomy. In 1905, he became a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and in the following year contributed several papers to its proceedings. In 1912 and 1913 he was president of the Society.

On June 23rd, 1897, he married Edith Marion Greene, daughter of the Reverend Canon R.W. Greene and Mrs. Greene, then of Orillia, Ontario. There were seven children by this marriage, six of whom and his widow survive him. Her children are Marion B., Grace (Mrs. Austin Brooks), Richard A., Douglas P., Margaret and Phyllis, all of Toronto.

During the earlier years of his academic work, he felt rather keenly the effect of the abrupt change from a life in the open to a sedentary engineering occupation, and as an antidote, joined the Argonaut Rowing Club, and took an active part in spring and fall races. He also rowed in open regattas on several occasions and was a member of a winning four-oar at the regatta of the Canadian Association of Amateur Oarsmen held at Lachine in 1890.

Since engaging in academic work, he had from the beginning considered it good policy to undertake professional work during vacations whenever the opportunity occurred; as by so doing, he could keep in touch with the outside world and also fill in any gaps there might be in his previous experience. Acting on this principle, he took part in two expeditions organized by Dr. A.P. Coleman for the purpose of exploring the region of the Rocky Mountains near the source of the Athabasca River. These two trips were of great value to Mr. Stewart from a professional standpoint as they afforded him an opportunity to test a method of making a rapid track survey of a considerable extent of country. Some of his other surveys were in the Klondike in 1899, assisting the late Alexander Niven in surveying the shores and islands of Lake Timagami in 1904; the Labrador Eclipse Expedition of 1905; a survey with Mr. J.B. Tyrrell at the mouth of the Nelson River at Hudson Bay in 1912.

In the summers of the four years from 1918 to 1921 inclusive, Mr. Stewart made a reconnaissance in Eastern Canada. In the first year, the work was between Truro and Halifax and easterly from Truro and in the last three years the work was in the lower St. Lawrence. He found this work very interesting on account of the variety of problems met with, and the judgment necessary in solving them. One problem, of a very practical nature that gave him some trouble at first, was that of beginning rather late in life to learn to climb trees.

Mr. Stewart was a charter member of the Toronto Chapter of the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity.

On June 30th, 1932, having passed the age limit, he retired from active membership on the staff of the University of Toronto, but not from active work. In spite of a serious operation which handicapped the last eight years of his life, he carried on scientific investigations.

Since coming to Toronto in 1888 he was a member of the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors and had contributed papers from time to time. In 1921 he was elected a member of the Board of Examiners for Ontario Land Surveyors which position he held until his death, his last examination being held in February 1937. He died on March 15th, 1937.

By his son, Richard A. Stewart, Association of Ontario Land Surveyors