Sir George Stephen: the man who named Mortlach

As first president of the CPR, it is believed that George Stephen had a hand in naming many of the communities along the track, reaching back to his home parish of Mortlach for inspiration. Names from his Scottish roots include: Parkbeg, Caron, Craigellachie (location of Last Spike) and Mortlach.

Canadian Railway Hall of Fame record

From the Canadian Encyclopedia:

George Stephen, 1st Baron Mount Stephen, banker, railway president (born at Dufftown, Scot 5 June 1829; died at Hatfield, Eng 29 Nov 1921). Stephen has been described as the person most responsible for the success of the CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY. He immigrated to Montréal at 21 to join a relative's draper establishment and by 1860 was the sole proprietor.

His energy and capital, however, were increasingly directed to banking and railways. He became a director of the Bank of Montreal in 1873 and was president 1876-81. In 1873-74 he participated along with his cousin Donald SMITH and J.J. HILL in the syndicate which bought the ailing St Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba Ry.

It became a favoured route for settlers and made its owners wealthy. In a reorganization of the revived railway in 1879, Stephen was named president. A much larger project, the Pacific railway, engaged his attention after 1880.

One of its original promoters, Stephen was the first president of the CPR, 1880-88. His wealth and standing in the Montréal business community were of inestimable benefit in gaining the investors' confidence, but his personal contribution to the line was enormous. Resourceful and cool, he never lost faith in the project nor in the future of the West.

Stephen moved to England in 1888. Created a baronet in 1886, he was raised to the peerage as Baron Mount Stephen in 1891.

He was a generous philanthropist in Montréal and England and is said to have given away over $1 million during his life. The Royal Victoria Hospital, Montréal, and hospitals in England benefited from his wealth.

May 31, 2016 | Village Office