William John Blair

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At Ingersoll Ontario, on April 24th, 1943, one of our former members who had served his country in other capacities than the surveying profession passed away after a long illness at the age of 68.

Born in Embro, near Woodstock, Ontario on October 13th, 1875. He there received his early schooling which was followed by study at Woodstock Collegiate Institute and later by an engineering course at the School of Practical Science, (Toronto University), from whence he graduated in 1902, with the degree of B.A.Sc. in Civil Engineering.

He was admitted to practice as an OLS on February 13th, 1904, and that year established a surveying partnership in New Liskeard, Ontario - Blair, Sinclair and Smith. The great cobalt rush was in full flow at this time and the partnership made many mining claim surveys designating them JB1, JB2 and so on. Perhaps the most noted of these claims were JB6 and JB7 ­ both great silver producers, situated in the Township of Coleman, which township he surveyed for the government in 1904.

In company with two of his university friends he staked a mining property which, in honor of their alma mater they named The University Mine, and later sold to a group of New York financers.

He now turned part of his activities to municipal life and entered the town council of New Liskeard and served thereon for several years including as mayor in 1907 and 1908.

Having secured his commission as a DLS he moved in 1910 to Provost, Alberta and secured his commission as an Alberta Land Surveyor and engaged in a very busy practice in the West, then so fast opening up, and in addition engaged in farming on a very substantial scale.

In 1916 and 1917, during WWI, he was active in recruiting of the 151st Battalion (Alberta) of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. From 1917 to 1921, he represented the Alberta riding of Battle River in the Canadian House of Commons and for some years thereafter was in Alberta provincial politics as leader of the Conservative opposition.

Illness came upon him and in 1925 he left the Canadian West and made his home in Barrie, Ontario, until 1930, returning to his western interests where he remained until 1937 when another severe illness (thrombosis) compelled his return to Ontario and complete withdrawal from active life.

In 1906, he married Lottie May Nethercott of Woodstock who survived his passing, also one son, William D'Arcy, QC of Toronto, and one daughter (Eleanor), wife of Hugh McKenzie, QC of Toronto.

Association of Ontario Land Surveyors Annual Report