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Niagara Genealogy

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Miscellaneous Biographies


Carl Gordon Cline, C.E., M.E.I.C. Carl Gordon Cline was born 25 September 1885 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the son of the Rev. Dr. William Henry and Emily (Crawford) Cline, and spent his first few years there. He moved with his family when they returned to their native province of Ontario, and lived first in Toronto, then Paris, and then Owen Sound as his father held Baptist pastorates in those places. He always considered Paris to be more or less his "home town." From his memoirs we read, "My father being a minister, it was evident that funds for a University career would have to be earned and I grew up with that idea in mind. The last summer we lived in Paris I had my first paying job - working in a grocery store. I was to be paid "$2.00 per week but as I started on Friday, I was paid an even $1.00 for the two days, Saturday being the busiest day of the week. That was the very first dollar I earned towards my university education. Of course all the money I earned that summer and every summer, went into a savings account in the bank." Having been raised in the cloistered atmosphere of the parsonage, he thought teaching and the ministry were the only vocations there were. On arriving in Toronto he roomed with an engineering student and became much more interested in that activity than in plain mathematics for its own sake. He finished out his year, earned first class honors so he was entitled to keep the scholarship, but then turned it back, with thanks, to start over on his own slim resources in the study of civil engineering.. He didn't want anyone to think he wasn't smart enough to be able to keep the scholarship. He took a year off to work full time at Kakabeka Falls where a power house was being built, and then entered the School of Practical Science at the University of Toronto where he earned his B.A.Sc degree in the Class of 1911. He had worked summers at a planing mill, in cement works, as well as in a coal mine in Northern Ontario where he was quickly made paymaster when it was noted that he could add a column of figures quickly and accurately. For a time he worked in the far north-west helping to survey land for settlement in the Lake Athabasca area. After graduation he entered the service of the Dominion Government, working in British Columbia doing water measurement work. On a visit home to see his parents in East Aurora, NY where his father was serving the local Baptist congregation he married, on August 6, 1913, Esther Valerie Hansenburg, a member of his father's congregation, the daughter of Matthew Hansenburg and his late wife, Mahala (Fairbank) Hansenburg. Matthew Hansenburg whose name was originally "Heinzenburger" had come to America from the general area of Mannheim, Germany, as a child of five years, and eventually came to work on the Fairbank farm just outside of East Aurora. Mahala descended from Jonathan Fairbanks from Yorkshire, England, who had built the Fairbanks House in Dedham, Massachusetts, in 1636, now the oldest frame house in America. The marriage of Gordon and Esther took place only a short time following the marriage of his brother, Herbert Crawford Cline, to Frances Louise Williams, also of East Aurora. Whereas Herbert and Louise continued to make East Aurora their home, Gordon and Esther traveled to British Columbia where he resumed his government work, first in Vancouver in relation to the Fraser River, and then in Kamloops in connection with the Thompson River and surrounding area. When World War I broke out in 1914, Gordon tried to enlist, but defective hearing in one ear caused his rejection, and he had to content himself with serving his government as a civilian engineer. About 1920 he was brought back to the Ottawa headquarters, after which he was assigned to work at Niagara Falls, Ontario, where he remained until retirement. He was known as a Hydrometric Engineer and monitored the use of water by the various power plants on the Canadian side, on behalf of the Dominion Government. He continued to study and received his C.E. degree in Civil Engineering in 1922, by which time he was the father of four children. Later in his career he was the Canadian working engineer, who collaborated with the American Corps of Engineers to install the suppressed remedial weir in the rapids of the Niagara River above the Horseshoe Falls. Over the years he had been working on a private mathematical project concerning a "weir formula" of his own, which was eventually published in the Magazine of the Engineering Institute of Canada. Only three top-flight mathematicians on the North American continent professed to understand the mathematics involved. In the course of his career he represented Canada at several international conferences which required his particular professional expertise. He spent three summers down near Lachine, Quebec, making measurements and reports which preceded the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Details regarding such activities have been lost with the years, but at the time of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, he was named to her Honors List and called to Ottawa to be presented with a medal for being one of five outstanding Canadian engineers. Retiring at the mandatory and unstretchable age of 70 years, he was re-hired as a consultant and continued to write valuable reports for the Canadian Government, as well as doing some consulting work for the Ontario Hydro Electric Commission. In 1962, at the age of 77 years, he wrote a short history of the development of power in the area which was published in the Magazine of the Canadian Engineering Institute of which he was a life member. He finally retired, fully, at the age of 80 years. He and Esther had a family of three boys and a girl, and took a great deal of time with their training and development. He had a well-supplied machine shop in his basement where he taught the boys the use of a lathe and other electrical machinery for both metal work and woodworking. He shared in community activities, particularly Home and School Work, and Church work as appropriate, being a member of the Main Street Baptist Church while the children were young. Latterly he and Esther were active in photography and weaving clubs. He was an excellent gardener and grew vegetables as well as grapes and fruit and beautiful roses and flowering shrubs. He had helped out on the Hansenburg farm many weekends during summer months, working at making hay and other such necessary tasks when needed, in spite of the misery of hay fever. Because of that, he looked forward to opportunities to get to Algonquin Park as the guest of his sister and brother-in-law, Helen and Ewart Cross. He enjoyed his visits with them, had some relief from "the sneezes", and could indulge his passion for canoeing. Although he never spoke of knowing the history of his mother's family in Castledawson in Northern Ireland who were in the linen business for three generations, he seemed to be irresistibly drawn to hand weaving, and built his own loom on which he produced some beautiful material. He experimented with many types of yarn such as wool, cotton, linen, and various combinations thereof. He worked at trying to make the loom run electrically but never quite mastered the technique required before his failing eyesight made it necessary to abandon the project. During his retirement period, at his daughter's insistence, he wrote an account of "How I earned my University Degree" in which he recalled the various jobs he had in an attempt to finance his college training. He never did get around to describing the details of his professional career, so we have had to rely on our own "outsider" memories. Gordon and Esther celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on August 6, 1963, and received the congratulations of government officials from Prime Minister of Canada, of Ontario, the local Members of Parliament and the City government of Niagara Falls, Ontario. Gordon died on 9 November 1969 at the age of 84. Esther lived on in their home by herself until she too passed away unexpectedly on 6 April, 1971 in her 87th year. Both are buried in Pleasantview Gardens at Fonthill, Pelham Township of Welland County, Ontario, by their arrangement - a cemetery without tombstones to interrupt the view of the beautiful park.

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