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William Ker Muir


Muir, William Ker, Detroit, General Manager of the Canada Southern Railway. was born at Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland, on the 20th March,1829; and is descended on his motherís side from the Howies, Covenanters, of Lochgoyne. When a youth, attending school, he displayed a taste for railroad and mechanical engineering, and had also a leaning for surgert. The latter part of each school-day was spent in an engineering establishment, and there his genius for that profession was quickened. and developed. There he acquired that knowledge of mechanical work which proved of such value to him in the great under-takings which the future had in store for him. Upon severing his connection with this establishment, he obtained a position in the parcel and ticket office of the Glasgow and South Western Railway, serving through all the grades of railroad employment, in the parcel, ticket, passenger and freight offices. Early and late he worked on and off the trains, acquiring a knowledge of every form of railroad work. We learn that in the course of a few years he was promoted to an important position in the engineer and managerís office. Here he served creditably for several years, when he accepted a responsible position in the service of an English railway company. When connected with this cornpany, C. .J. Brydges, then managing director of the Great Western Railway of Canada, offered him a position on the latter railroad which he accepted, and at once left for Canada. In October, 1852, he assumed the duties of his new position before the first section of the railway between Niagara Falls and Hamilton was opened. Mr. Muir assisted in opening the line for traffic, remaining in the service of the company until about 1857. He was then sent to Detroit to assume the management of the Detroit and Milwaukee Railway, in the completion of which to Lake Michigan the Great Western Company had taken a large pecuniary interest. Under the management of Mr. Muir this railroad was completed in its entire length; was thoroughly equipped with rolling stock; secured two magnificent steamships to ply on Lake Michigan between the western terminus of the road, Grand Haven and Milwaukee. For passenger and freight accommodation the condition of the road was made the very best. In December, 1865 Mr. Muir resigned his position to accept the office of assistant general superintendent of the Michigan Central Railroad, under R. N. Nice, then general superintendent. So ably did he perform the duties of that office that, after a few years, the Great Western Railway Company offered him the office of general superintendent. which he accepted. Under his control this line became one of the best equipped in the country, and .a general improvement in the management of its business soon became conspicuous. He changed it from the Canadian broad 5 feet 6Ĺ in. gauge to the American narrow gauge of 4 feet 8Ĺ inches; added new narrow-gauge rolling stock, and equipped it thoroughly as a connecting link between the western and eastern railway systems. This task completed, he again assumed the superintendence of the Detroit and Milwaukee road, but immediately afterwards retired to accept the management of the new railroad through Canada, with its branches on the American side, known as the Canada Southern Railway lines. He has since been general manager of this road, and under his wisdom, the length and extent of. his experience, and his splendid business capacity, this thoroughfare has become one of the very best on the continent. It is a fact that the passenger trains over this line make faster time than is accomplished upon any other road on the American continent.


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