Biography of Alexander J. Russell, C. E.

Alexander Jamieson Russell, son of Alexander and Jeanette (Jamieson) Russell, was born in Glasgow, Scotland, April 29, 1807. His maternal uncle, Rev. John Jamieson, emigrated from Scotland, and settled in Ohio soon after the close of the American Revolution. An elder brother of Alexander, Professor William Russell, was for years sole editor of the American Journal of Education, Boston, Mass., and subsequently the Principal of different institutions of learning in that State, standing very high as an educator. He died at Lancaster, Mass., in 1873.

The subject of this sketch was educated at the Glasgow High School, and by private tuition, paying especial attention afterwards in Canada to Civil Engineering. In 1822, his father, who was engaged in a branch of the legal profession in the Old World, brought his family to the New, settled at Leeds, Megantic County, now in the Province of Quebec, and there opened a backwoods farm, the sons aiding him in denuding the forest and breaking and cultivating the soil. The father at the same time was Crown Lands agent, and the sons assisted him in disposing of lands to settlers.

In 1829, when twenty-two years of age, Mr. Russell became a Deputy Provincial Surveyor, and the next year entered the Commissariat Department, serving two years on the Rideau Canal while it was being constructed. He was then called to Headquarters at Quebec, where he was eight years on the staff of that Department.

In 1841 he resigned and entered the service of the Provincial Government as a civil engineer; was placed in the charge of the public works in the maritime counties of Lower Canada, and gave five years to the projecting and building of public roads and bridges.

In 1846 Mr. Russell was transferred to the Crown Timber Office at Ottawa, to settle difficulties with lumbermen, and to grant licenses to cut timber on the Ottawa River and its tributaries. To these duties were added those of collecting timber revenues and the inspection of other Crown Timber agencies. He has always attended very faithfully to his official duties, and at the same time has given portions of his leisure hours to literary writing.

Mr. Russell contributed a few articles to Johnston’s Universal Cyclopedia, on rivers and canals in Canada, and is the author of a work on ” The Red River Country, Hudson’s Bay, and the North west Territory, considered in their Relation to Canada,” published in 1869. In this work the author shows a great deal of practical research and investigation, and filled it with just such information as was needed in regard to the vast extent and multitudinous resources of this country the Russia of North America. There is no part of the Dominion which is not touched upon in this work, and its climate, soil, and productions are clearly made known, with maps to aid the eye and the understanding.

Mr. Russell has been married since March, 1837, his wife being Isabella Smollett, daughter of Dr. L. Sims, a surgeon in the British navy. They have eight children. Lindsay, the eldest son is married, and is Surveyor General of Dominion territories, residence Ottawa; David McCreary, also married, is a skilful machinist, residing in Camden, N. J., Agnes Smollett, the eldest daughter, is the wife of Col. A. G. Forrest, surveyor, of Ottawa; Emily is the wife of Lawrence Fortescue, of the Department of the Interior, Dominion Government, and Isabella, Alexander J. H., Theresa, and Mary are single.



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