Member Biography

C.A. Magrath

Charles Alexander Magrath

(1860.04.22 – 1949.10.30)
Commission #081

The Honourable Charles Alexander Magrath was a businessman, Engineer, Land Surveyor, pioneer in the West, member of two governments and a great servant to his country.

Quoting from the Canadian Institute of Surveying magazine dated January 1950:

He must be remembered as one of Canada’s pioneer builders, especially of the Canadian West. Besides he was a successful engineer specializing in irrigation and water resources investigations and was chairman of the Hydro Electric Power Company of Ontario from 1925 to 1931.

Born in North Augusta, Ontario he went to work at an early age of 18 with a Dominion Lands Surveyor in western Canada. I must assume that he graduated from an eastern college after his stint out West and in all probability from the School of Practical Science in Toronto.

Mr. Magrath, to my knowledge, has more professional designations as a land surveyor than any other land surveyor in Canada. Not only recognized as a successful engineer and land surveyor he served the public as a member of the Legislature of the North West Territories beginning in 1892 and holding the post of Minister without portfolio in the Haultain ministry in Saskatchewan from 1898 to 1901. He was the first Mayor of the City of Medicine Hat from 1901 to 1906 and then a member of the Dominion House of Commons for the Medicine Hat Constituency from 1908 to 1911.

The Town of Magrath, Alberta was named after Mr. Magrath.

Other highlights associated with the life of Mr. Magrath:

  • 1911 – Member of Canadian Section of International Joint Waterways Commission.
  • 1913 – Chairman of Special Commission to investigate and report on a highway system in Ontario. Today’s highway development has been based on the plans they presented.
  • 1914 – Chairman of the Canadian Section of the Waterways Commission.
  • 1914 – Member War Trade Board.
  • 1914 – Member Executive of Patriotic Fund.
  • 1917 – Fuel Controller for Canada.
  • 1922 – Chairman Fuel Advisory Board of Canada.

Mr. Magrath was involved and honoured by many professional organizations in Canada such as:

  • He was the land agent for the Alberta Railway and Coal Company.
  • Manager of the Canadian North West Irrigation Company.
  • Member Engineering Institute of Canada. Life Member in 1936 and a
  • Honourary Member in 1938.
  • A Life Member of The Dominion Land Surveyor’s Association.
  • Honourary Member Canadian Institute of Surveying and Photogrammetry.
  • His various Commissions as a Land Surveyor were as follows:
  • D.L.S. 1881; D.T.S. 1882; P.L.S. (Man) 1882; P.L.S.(B.C.) 1897;
  • O.L.S. 1907; P.L.S. (N.S.L.S.) 1915; S.L.S. 1930 & Hon. M. 1931;A.L.S. Hon. L.M.
  • He was not a New Brunswick Land Surveyor and his name does not appear in the records of the OAGQ.

As one reads about his accomplishments and busy life you realize that he was a true Canadian and loved his country.

Mr. Magrath was married and they had one son and two daughters. Mr. Magrath died in Victoria, British Columbia on October 30th, 1949

By J.H.Webb SLS (LM)- Sept/06