A History: British Columbia

This section is from the year 1906, authored by R.E. Gosnell and published by the Lewis Publishing Co. in Victoria. It is no longer held under copyright.


Joseph HunterJoseph Hunter was a surveyor, son in law of Mr. Robson and politician in Victoria, vice president, general superintendent and chief engineer of the Esquimault and Nanaimo Railroad, is a native of Scotland, born in Aberdeenshire, on the 7th of May, 1842. His ancestors were numbered among both the highland and lowlaad Scotch.

Educated in the grammar schools and University of Aberdeen under Professor James Clark Maxwell, he prepared for his business career by studying civil engineering for five years. The year 1864 witnessed his arrival in Victoria. Hoping to rapidly realize a fortune in the gold mines, he went to the Cariboo district, where, like many others, he was only partially successful. He continued in the mining district, however, until 1871, in which year he was elected to represent the district of Cariboo in the first provincial parliament that met after the confederation was consummated. He occu- pied a seat in the parliament until 1875.

Mr. Hunter's identification with railroad affairs dates from 1872, in which year he joined the engineering staff of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, and from time to time was promoted until he attained the position of divisional engineer, and was active in all the operations connected with railway survey, location and exploration. In 1876 he was selected engineer by the Dominion government to define the international boundary line on the Stickeen river between Canada and the United States territory of Alaska. The crossing of the river which he located is the line agreed upon as the boundary. The question was fully settled upon this basis, and in the settlement between the two governments Mr. Hunter's survey was frequently referred to and discussed by the eminent counsel on iDoth sides. His reports and plans are in the archives of the government at Ottawa, Canada, at London, England, and at Washington, D. C. The year after that survey was completed Mr. Hunter explored the Pine river pass through the Rocky mountains, and his report on that is also in the history of the Pacific Railway. From that time until 1883 he was in the service of the Dominion government, making railway locations, and was also selected to write a report on the agricultural possibilities of Vancouver island. In 1884 he was appointed chief engineer of the Esquimault and Nanaimo Railroad, which he surveyed and constructed, and he is still associated with that railway system as its general manager and chief engineer, and also as one of the stockholders. Another of his important engineering works was the building of a great dam of timber at Quesnelle Lake, which has withstood all storms and freshets and is a splendid example of his engineering skill.

His influence and labors have also been an active and beneficial factor in forming the laws of his adopted country. He has been a member of the House for sixteen years, eight years from the Cariboo district and eight years from Comox. He has also served two years as one of the aldermen of Victoria, and in all the positions which he has been called upon to fill, whether political or in the line of his profession, he has been found an indefatigable and successful worker. His business career has been marked by a steady progression, and in Victoria he has received the recognition which is accorded to talent and genuine personal worth everywhere.