William Pearce, 1848-1930, was born in Ontario and studied civil engineering at the University of Toronto. He was engaged on various surveys until 1874 when he began a 30-year career with the Canadian Department of the Interior. He was in charge of surveying meridians and parallels in Manitoba and the North-West Territories, 1874-1881. In 1882 he was appointed Inspector of Agencies on the Dominion Lands Board, and was in charge of investigating all land claims (mostly Metis) from the Red River to the Rockies. From 1898 to 1901 he was involved with the adjustment of railway land grants, and from 1901 to 1904 was Chief Inspector of Surveys. He joined the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in 1904 and became the major proponent of the company's irrigation schemes in Alberta and Saskatchewan. He retired from the CPR in 1926.
William married Margaret A. Meyer, 1853-1943, in 1881. They had six children, Adolphine Elizabeth Frances, 1883-1975, Adolphine Thornton (Tassie), 1885-1970, Seabury Kains, 1887-1959, William Ernest, 1890-?, Harry John Leslie, 1894-1976, and John Eric, 1890-?. The family settled permanently in Calgary in 1887. Both William and his wife were instrumental in the establishment of the Calgary General Hospital in 1890.
In 1973 the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada designated Pearce as a National Historic Person. For further information see David H. Breen's article, "William Pearce" in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. XV. -- Toronto : University of Toronto Press "William Pearce and Federal Government Activity in Western Canada, 1882-1904" / E. Alyn Mitchner. -- University of Alberta : unpublished PhD thesis, 1971; and William Pearce, 1904-1930 / E. Alyn Mitchner. -- Edmonton : Department of History, University of Alberta, 1974.