Valerie Knowles is a journalist and writer who has published eleven non-fiction works. From Telegrapher to Titan: The Life of William C. Van Horne won the University of British Columbia Medal for Canadian Biography for 2004 and the City of Ottawa Non-Fiction Book Award for 2005. She lives in Ottawa.
William C. Van Horne
William C. Van Horne was one of North America’s most accomplished men. Born in Illinois in 1843, Van Horne started working in the railway business at a young age. In 1881 he was lured north to Canada to become general manager of the fledgling Canadian Pacific Ralway. The railroading general pushed through construction of the CPR’s transcontinental line and then went on to become the company’s president. During his time with the CPR, Van Horne developed a telegraph service, launched the Empress line of Pacific steamships in 1891, and founded CP Hotels. He capped his career by opening up Cuba’s interior with a railway.
A man of prodigious energy and many talents, he also became Canada’s foremost art collector and one of the country’s leading financiers. For all of his amazing accomplishments, Van Horne was knighted in 1894. When he died church bells throughout the length and breadth of Cuba tolled to mark his passing, and when his funeral train made its way across Canada, all traffic on the CPR system was suspended for five minutes.
"Anyone who enjoys a history would do well to pick it up, because its a solid book."
"Knowles develops a rounded view of her subject."
Valerie Knowles competent survey of the life and times of William Van Horne is the latest volume in the highly accessible Quest series of biographies of significant Canadians.