Fonds F1458 - William Pearce family fonds

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William Pearce family fonds


  • 1883-2000, predominant 1888-1975 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

36 cm of textual records.
397 photographs
8 negatives
9 slides

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

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 -- University of Alberta : unpublished PhD thesis, 1971; and William Pearce, 1904-1930 / E. Alyn Mitchner.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.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Gifts of Harry, Frances and William Pearce, Peter Tassie, Muriel Tassie and E.P. Scarlett, 1958-2015; and transferred from the Riveredge Foundation, 1979.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The fonds consists of William's correspondence, building plans, and financial statements related to the funding and construction of the Calgary General Hospital (1890-1903); his articles on the Riel Rebellion, National Parks, irrigation, CPR, and oil; report to the Economic and Development Commission on development of the West (1916); a genealogy of the Pearce family; architectural plans for the Pearce home (1888); survey plan of proposed irrigation ditch (1896); and various family certificates, invitations, programs, newsclippings and photographs of the family and the west. Includes Harry Pearce's will and collected articles about his father, as well as seven original watercolour Christmas cards (1895-1901) sent to him by his father.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

No restrictions on access.

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

    Script of material

      Language and script notes

      The material is in English.

      Physical characteristics and technical requirements

      Finding aids

      Allied materials area

      Existence and location of originals

      Existence and location of copies

      Related units of description

      Other Pearce records are held by the University of Alberta Archives and the Saskatchewan Archives Board. A microfilm of the SAB material is available at Glenbow.

      Notes area


      Title based on contents of records.


      The NA's are virtually all copy negs.


      AC Pearce is a copy of SAB material.


      Microfilm-Pearce, William


      Includes files 27, 33-34, 289-290, 355 from M-4843 Riveredge collection

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      Level of detail

      Dates of creation revision deletion

      Tuesday, September 19, 2017




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