Member Biography

W. M. Stewart

William Malcolm Stewart

(1884.11.26 - 1957.08.22)
Commission #017

At only twenty - eight years of age, in 1912, W. M. Stewart became the second President of the Saskatchewan Land Surveyor's Association, This was the start of a very successful life as an Engineer, Surveyor and Public Servant.

It was during the first stage of our organization (1910-1913) that Mr. Stewart gained recognition from his peers. After graduating from the "School of Practical Science of Toronto" in 1906 he went on to receive his Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto in 1909. He also found time to receive his commission as a Dominion Land Surveyor in the same year.

During the summer of 1904 he was engaged on a Dominion Land Survey party subdividing townships near Lloydminster in the then North West Territories. The summer of 1905 saw him on exploratory survey work for a proposed railway from Prince Albert to Fort Churchill on Hudson's Bay. The railway, known as the "Hudson's Bay, Prince Rupert Land and Pacific Railway", chartered the survey party. The same group of men surveyed the first townsite on the Fort Churchill harbour, It is interesting to note that Joseph E. Morrier, D.L.S. was also engaged an survey work covering the same railway in 1908. A newspaper article indicated that Mr. Morrier recommended the railway terminal at Fort Churchill, but this conflicts with other articles. I can only conclude that Mr. Stewart's journey was of a preliminary nature in 1905 whereas Mr. Morrier was in charge of the final survey in 1908 with his assistant being F. H. Peters, who later became the Surveyor General.

The years 1906 to 1913, except for his University term in 1908-09, saw Mr, Stewart on Dominion Land subdivision survey contracts in northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba. He also managed to open an office, in the fall of 1909 in Saskatoon, to practice Engineering and Land Surveying. In 1910 he received Commission number 17 as a Saskatchewan Land Surveyor and E. H. Phillips, D.L.S. joined him in a partnership that was to continue until 1936.

During the early stages of the Saskatchewan Land Surveyor's Association, Mr. Stewart sat in with the original land surveyors committee who formed the Association. At the second annual meeting, held in Regina on March 6th, 1912, Mr. Stewart was elected President, even though W. R. Reilly was the Vice-President under the first President J. L. R. Parsons. Mr. Reilly eventually became President in 1916 and again in 1928.

At the third annual meeting, March 5th and 6th, 1913, Mr. Stewart spoke about the new "Saskatchewan Surveys Act" and how they had gathered material from every Province in Canada before drafting the new Act for presentation so that it would be passed by the Legislature.. The destruction of survey monuments was also high on their agenda at this meeting. The problem of monuments being destroyed has been an ever lasting topic that comes before our Association every year. Maybe, just maybe, someone will design a monument or system that will retain our legal property corners. The continual loss of survey corners certainly makes for a never ending "make work project" for the private practitioner.

In 1923 he performed mineral claim surveys as a Dominion Land Surveyor in the Manitou Lake area of Saskatchewan. One of his surveys covered the "Good Hope" claim on Lot 1, Group 169 in Township 32, Range 25, west of 2nd Meridian for sodium deposits. In 1933 he surveyed a few quartz mineral claims in Group 367 near Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan.

Leaving private practice in 1936 he went with the Saskatchewan Department of Highways and Transportation. His first duty was to do reconnaissance, location and construction of roads in the North. His skills were soon appreciated and in 1942 became Maintenance Engineer for the Department and in 1949 was promoted to Chief Engineer. Between 1952 and 1954 Mr. Stewart was made Deputy Minister of the Department of Highways and Transportation, retiring on superannuation in November 1954. He also held the position of "Director of the Saskatchewan. Municipal Road Assistance Authority". Not satisfied to sit around, he commenced practice as a Consulting Engineer out of Regina until his demise on August 22nd, 1957.

When he retired, the Honorable J. T. Douglas presented an illuminated scroll which outlined Mr. Stewart's loyalty to the Government. Mr. Douglas concluded his remarks with these words:

"This very human document stands as a permanent tribute to a man who irradiated daily public service with the warmth of an interested and galvanic personality. It is also a tribute to the department and to his understanding fellows. Mr. Stewart's contribution to Saskatchewan went far and generously beyond his personal competence and will ensure him a lasting place in the annals of the West's distinguished public servants and citizens."

There is no doubt that Mr. Stewart was a dedicated public servant and citizen of Canada. He was made a life member of the Saskatchewan Land Surveyor's Association in 1955. He was also a member of the Engineering Institute of Canada, the Association of Saskatchewan Professional Engineers, the Good Roads Association and the Canadian Institute of Surveying and Photogrammetry (now the Canadian Institute of Geomatics).

Mr Stewart married Anabel Turnbull in 1913 and they were blessed with four children, two daughters and two sons. The boys graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in Engineering.

The writer had the privilege of knowing Mr. Stewart in the 1950's, in a work related capacity and at the annual meetings of the Association. His input and wisdom was well accepted and respected by all the members. His name is well documented on many survey plans registered throughout the Province.

Compiled by J. H. Webb - June, 1995