The Railway King of Canada

By R.B. Fleming

The Railway King of CanadaRae Fleming’s acclaimed biography of Sir William Mackenzie helped shift perceptions of one of Canada’s most notable business moguls. Mackenzie grew up in Eldon Township, in the second half of the nineteenth century as the district was beginning to progress beyond its pioneer phase. He entered business as a saw and gristmiller in Kirkfield before moving to become a contractor on railway projects. He rose to prominence in the Canadian business community with the Toronto Street Railway (preceded the Toronto Transit Commission) and the Canadian Northern Railway, being Canada’s second transcontinental railway.

Knighted in 1911, he fell from grace as financial troubles beset the Canadian Northern Railway during the First World War. It was nationalized and merged into the Canadian National Railway. By the time of his death in 1923, Mackenzie had acquired a reputation as a shrewd, but crooked businessman. Fleming’s research led him to a much more nuanced understanding of Canada’s Railway baron.

© Copyright 2024 - Maryboro Lodge Museum