Member Biography

F.J. Robinson

Franklin Joseph Robinson

(1870.11.20 - 1917.05.26)
Commission #001

As the holder of the first Saskatchewan Land Surveyor’s Commission in 1910, Mr.F.J.Robinson, (known as Jadel Robinson) was also a man who accomplished many things during his short life span.

Growing up in St. Thomas, Ontario, he was the youngest of seven born into a well-known Ontario family. His father was an independent Member of Parliament for West Elgin, his sister Harriot was a teacher for 40 years in St. Thomas, and brother William was a railway conductor and nicknamed “Stickine Bill”. Brother Charlie was a Veterinary Surgeon and Dean of the Veterinary College in Washington, D.C. U.S.A. along with another brother Jesse, also a Veterinary Surgeon in Washington, D.C. His sister Sarah was married to a James Fletcher and I have no background on them.

An article, covering his demise, in the Toronto Saturday Night newspaper in 1917 stated:

"He was one of the ten most popular men in the West."

It goes on to state:

"He happened along out there at the psychological moment, just as the country was opening up to a realization that the prophecy about the 20th century belonging to Canada might possibly be true, and he fitted in. Educated as a civil Engineer and a surveyor, a thorough judge of live stock, of poultry and of land, he was a practical man on the spot. AND he was such a whole-souled chap, such a good storyteller, that men, rough western outdoor men, fairly loved him."

It was natural that F.J. Robinson would accomplish many missions in the North West Territory and in Saskatchewan.

While going to University he evidently was a high spirited and boisterous student even though he never drank or smoked.

"His animal spirits were sufficient to carry him through anything that was going. A broad shouldered powerful fellow of 180 pounds, in hard condition with Enormous muscles, he was the natural choice for centre scrimmage for the School in 1893."

He evidently sang in the school glee club with such gentlemen as W.L. Mackenzie King and other well-known scholars.

His brother William known as “Big Stickene Bill” Robinson, helped build the White Horse Railway. Because William was well known in the West he appears as a character in one of “Rex Beach’s” western novels.

Graduating from the School of Practical Science in 1895 he worked for the “Federal Department of Railways and Canals” on the Yukon Railway reconnaissance surveys. Later he was assigned to the position of assistant Engineer on construction on the Trent Canal in Ontario. At this time he obtained his Commission as an Ontario Land Surveyor in 1898 and his Dominion Land Surveyors Commission in 1900.

In 1904 he accepted a position with the North West Territory Government as the District Engineer and Surveyor at Macleod (now in Alberta) and in 1905 was promoted to Director of Surveys out of Regina. When the Province of Saskatchewan was formed in September 1905 he was appointed Deputy Minister of Public Works for the new Province. This position he held until 1912 when he was appointed Chairman of the Board of Highway Commissioners for the Province of Saskatchewan.

It was during this time as Deputy Minister that he and other surveyors draughted the Saskatchewan Surveys Act. Under his direction, work was commenced and carried on to near completion on the Legislative Buildings in Regina. It is of interest to note that he signed his own Commission (# 1) on May 9th 1910, and also signed by E. H. Phillips (# 4) and A.J. McPherson (# 15). The first 17 Commissions were signed on the 9th or 10th of May 1910.

There is a lake in Northeast Saskatchewan named for Mr. Robinson. The request to name a lake after Mr. Robinson came from Mr. H.S. Carpenter S.L.S. on July 14, 1949. Evidently the Association of Professional Engineers asked our Association to submit a name to the Saskatchewan Provincial Department of Natural Resources for the naming of a suitable feature in Northern Saskatchewan. Thus the lake “F.J.Robinson” was adopted on September 6th, 1956. The lake is east of Lac La Ronge Lake, north of Deschambault Lake and located on map sheet 63 M/12 with geographic coordinates of Latitude 55 degrees, 31 minutes and Longitude 103 degrees, 43 minutes.

He married Lena Scott of Qu-appelle and they had 3 children. His brother in law was Mr. B.D. Hogarth, a solicitor in Regina.

Mr. Robinson died in Toronto on May 26th, 1917.

J.H.Webb S.L.S.(LM) Nov/04