Moberly Family History
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Walter Moberly is probably the best known Moberly in Canada. Son of Captain John and Mary Moberly, born in Steeple Ashton, England on July 15, 1832, Walter emigrated to Canada as an infant. Little is known about Walter's childhood in Penetanguishene, Ontario, but as a teen and into his early 20's, Walter articled with a top architectural and engineering firm in Toronto and developed the skills and love of the land that would shape his adult life.
Intrigued with the idea of finding the "Northwest Passage by Rail", young Walter set out on a journey that would take him from Toronto, to New York, around Cape Horn, to early San Francisco, ending in Victoria, on Vancouver Island. Before Confederation and before British Columbia was a province.
Daphne Sleigh chronicles Walter's adult life in, "Walter Moberly and the Northwest Passage by Rail", as replete with monumental successes ... and equally monumental defeats. Through it all, Walter maintained an optimistic demeanor.
Walter was responsible for building part of the Caribou Highway, the Dewdeny Trail, and discovered the Eagle Pass through the Selkirk Mountains. He dined with Sir John A MacDonald when in old Canada. No doubt his obsession with a north-west passage by rail influenced Sir John's idea of creating a Canada north of the 49th parallel with the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). Walter discovered the Eagle Pass while the CPR planned to navigate through the Yellowhead Route, but was disappointed when the railway chose a more southern passage. Walter writes of his adventure on the Yellowhead route (1872) "We have not sustained any loss of life nor had any accidents, not a single pound of the supplies has been lost in transit, and out of nearly two hundred and fifty pack animals employed, only seven have died in all, nearly all the pack animals on this route travelled back and forth last season about twenty-seven hundred miles, and almost invariably averaged loads of three hundred pounds each... Not a single quarrel has arisen, not a single article has been stolen, and without exception the most friendly feeling is now existing. The Indians have rendered us much and valuable assistance.
His civil engineering feats helped shape Canada.
In his remembrance is a Moberly School, Road, Pub, Peak, park, and theatre in Three-Valley-Gap. Walter built roads, discovered passes, blazed trails, starved, dined with Prime Ministers and immigrant labourers, and enjoyed increadable successes in his quest to build the northwest passage by rail, but when the last spike was driven in Craigellachie for the Canadian Pacific Railroad ...his great dream ...he was left out of the celebration.
in 1915. Penniless and alone.
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