Memorable Manitobans: William Allan Mather (1885-1961)
Born at Oshawa, Ontario on 12 September 1885, son of David Low Mather and Catherine Kilgour Allan, he attended public schools at Kenora before being trained in civil engineering at McGill University (BSc 1908). He first joined the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1903, becoming Engineer (1908) and promoted to Resident Engineer at Winnipeg in 1910. He successively became Acting Superintendent at Kenora (1912-1913), Superintendent at Kenora (1913-1915), Assistant General Superintendent at Vancouver (1915), and General Superintendent at Moose Jaw (1918) and Calgary (1932). He was appointed Assistant to the Vice-President at Montreal in 1933 then became General Manager of Western Lines (1934), Vice-President of Western Lines (1942) and of the Prairie Region (1947). He was President of the CPR from 1948 to 1955, then Chairman of the Company until his death.
He was Chairman of Canadian Pacific Steamship Limited and Canadian Pacific Airlines Limited, Director and member of the executive committee of Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company of Canada, Director of the Great-West Life Assurance Company (1945-1955), and Director of the Scottish Trust Company; Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway Company; Canadian Pacific Express Company; Canadian Marconi Company; West Kootenay Light and Power Company; and Bank of Montreal. He was a member of the advisory committee of the Canadian Standards Association, Director of the Canadian Forestry Association, and a member of the Eastern Railroads Presidents Conference. During his residence in Winnipeg, he served on the Board of the Winnipeg General Hospital (1942-1948) and the Knowles School for Boys (1942-1947).
He married Isabel Maynard Cruickshank (1899-1989) and they had a son and a daughter. He was Honorary President of the Montreal Division of the Navy League of Canada and Honorary Chairman of the Quebec Division of the Canadian Paraplegic Association. He was an honorary member of the Engineering Institute of Canada, and was created a Knight of Grace of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in 1952. He received an honorary doctorate from Bishop’s University in 1951 and the University of Western Ontario in 1952. He belonged to the Mount Royal and University Clubs in Montreal, Rideau Club (Ottawa), Manitoba Club, Lakewood Country Club, Assiniboine Club (Regina), and Vancouver Club.
He died at the Winnipeg General Hospital on 2 January 1961 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.
1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
“Funeral Thursday for CPR chairman,” Winnipeg Free Press, 3 January 1961, page 1.
Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
We thank Jane M. Mather, Charles McCulloch, and Bob Kennell (CPR Archives, Montreal) for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 13 July 2022