Memorable Manitobans: Alpheus Beede Stickney (1840-1916)
Born at Wilton, Maine, USA on 27 June 1840, he lived on a farm with his parents, attending a village school until he was 18 years old, when he took up the study of law at Dexter, Maine. Lacking the funds to complete his legal education, Stickney was obliged to take a job as a country school teacher until he had saved enough money to resume his studies. He was admitted to the bar in 1862, at which time he moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he practised law until 1869.
Railway construction in the American northwest was in the infancy during the 1860s, and Stickney eventually gave up his law practise to engage in railway construction. His first major job was as Vice-President, General Manager and Chief Counsel of the St. Paul, Stillwater & Taylor Falls Railway. He later superintended the construction of a portion of the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railroad. With the organization of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1881, he was appointed Superintendent of railroad construction in April 1881. Arriving in Winnipeg on 28 February 1881, his employment for the CPR was short-lived. Stickney resigned at the end of that year under allegations that he and CPR Chief Engineer Thomas L. Rosser had made a considerable amount of money on land speculation based on their knowledge of the railway’s route plans west of Winnipeg. Stickney was replaced by William C. Van Horne.
Despite this career setback with the CPR, Stickney landed on his feet quickly. He built the St. Paul Union Stockyards and packing houses in 1882 and, that same year, became Vice-President of the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad. Then, two years later, he began the construction of the Minnesota & Northwestern Railroad, which later developed into the Great Wesern. He was President of this road until its consolidation with the Chicago, St. Paul & Kansas City, when he became President of the merged company, a position he held until 1892 when he became Chairman of its Board of Directors. He held this position until 1900. In 1908 and 1909, he became receiver of this railroad. He retired in 1909.
Stickney died at his St. Paul, Minnesota home on 9 August 1916 after being in declining health for several years. He is commemorated by Stickney Avenue in Brandon.
“The late A. B. Stickney”, Canadian Railway and Marine World, September 1916, page 373.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 27 May 2010
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