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Industry Achievement
Sir Donald Mann (2002)
Sir Donald Mann“Master builder” of the Canadian Northern Railway

Abandoned farming to take up lumbering, becoming a Foreman by the age of 21. He arrived in Winnipeg in 1879 and went into business contracting for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) the following year. He worked on CPR main line contracts extending between Whitemouth, Manitoba and the Selkirk Mountains of B.C. until 1885. It was in the mountains that he met his future business partner, William Mackenzie. They formed Mackenzie Mann & Company in 1886 and embarked on the development and/or construction of a series of railways: the Qu’Appelle Long Lake & Saskatchewan (QLL&S), the Calgary & Edmonton (C&E), and the International of Maine line for the CPR. Acquisition of the Lake Manitoba Railway & Canal Co. in 1895 became the basis of the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR). While Mackenzie concentrated on financing the ever-expanding railway, Mann — the consummate railway contractor — was the “master builder” of the CNoR. He was forced to resign his Vice-Presidency with the government takeover of the CNoR in September 1917. Despite being in the public limelight and consorting with some of the most powerful men in Canadian politics and industry, Mann remains an historical enigma. His greatest legacy was the web of railway lines that he helped construct, essential for the development of Canada.

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