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Industry Achievement
David Blythe Hanna (2002)

David Blythe HannaCanadian National Railways' first President

Born 1858 in Thornliebank , Scotland .

He joined the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) as a clerk in the Audit office in Montreal . After a brief stint in a similar capacity with an American line in New York, he returned to Canada in 1886 as Chief Accountant for the Manitoba & Northwestern, a local road running out of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. Within two years he became the Accountant for the line, then beginning in 1893, concurrently handled the position of Land Commissioner. He joined the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR) in 1896 as General Superintendent and oversaw the rapid expansion of the line from a small local railway to a transcontinental. He became the CNoR's Third Vice-President in 1902 and assumed the additional duty of General Manager in 1907. In September 1917, following the resignation of D. D. Mann, he was appointed President of the Canadian Northern Railway Company. On 20 December 1918, his title was revised to President of Lines operated as the Canadian National Railways System.

Hanna oversaw the extremely difficult task of cobbling together the rag-tag assortment of insolvent railways - including the former CNoR, the Canadian Government Railways and the Grand Trunk - into a viable business enterprise. Constantly lacking funds, Hanna concentrated on freight operations. Constantly walking a "political tightrope", Hanna's fate was sealed. He chose to resign effective 10 October 1922, due to what he considered political interference with the new railway.

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