Casimir Gzowski

Sir Kazimierz Stanisław Gzowski, KCMG (March 5, 1813 – August 24, 1898), was an engineer best known for his work on a wide variety of Canadian railways as well as work on the Welland Canal. He also served as acting Lieutenant Governor of Ontario from 1896 to 1897.[1]

Sir Casimir Gzowski

Kazimierz Gzowski
(Acting) Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
In office
November 7, 1896 – November 18, 1897
Governor GeneralThe Earl of Aberdeen
PremierArthur Sturgis Hardy
Preceded bySir George Airey Kirkpatrick
Succeeded bySir Oliver Mowat
Personal details
Kazimierz Stanislaus Gzowski

March 5, 1813
Saint Petersburg, Russia
DiedAugust 24, 1898 (aged 85)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Spouse(s)Maria Beebe
RelationsPeter Gzowski (great-great-grandson)

Life and career

Gzowski was born in Saint Petersburg to a noble Polish father, Count Stanisław Gzowski, who was then serving as a Captain in the Russian Imperial Guard. During the Polish November Uprising he served as combat engineer with the rank of podporuchik in the Polish army under command of Józef Dwernicki against the Russians. After their defeat he escaped to Austria and as an unwanted political prisoner was deported by the Austrians to the USA. Later his family also emigrated. He knew no English, but began to study law and was admitted into practice. His father was an engineer, and as this became his primary interest, Kazimierz became involved in railway construction in the United States. Eventually he was hired as an engineer to help in the construction of the New York and Erie Railway.

In 1841 he moved to the Canada to work on the Welland Canal, and also helped finish the building of Yonge Street and other projects, for the Department of Public Works in southern Ontario. He settled in London.

In 1849 Gzowski was hired as a railway contractor by the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad. The new president of this reorganized company, Alexander Tilloch Galt, and other directors were dissatisfied with the work of the Montreal contractors. Accepting Galt's offer to be Chief Engineer, in charge of construction, Gzowski moved his family to Sherbrooke.

The purpose of the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railway, along with its American partner, the Atlantic and St. Lawrence Railway, was to provide a route for the traffic of the St. Lawrence River and Ottawa River at the port of Montreal, to the ice-free Atlantic port of Portland, Maine. By 1850, however, promoters of this project learned of plans by Boston interests to build a railway from Lake Champlain, to Ogdensburg, opposite Prescott, on the route of the projected Bytown & Prescott Railway.

In 1850, Galt, along with Luther Hamilton Holton, David Lewis Macpherson and other directors of the St. Lawrence and Atlantic, formed a committee which took steps to secure a charter for the building of a railway between Montreal and Kingston. Several possible routes were considered. At a public meeting held in Montreal, the committee delegated Gzowski to make a detailed survey of two routes. One ran through the Ottawa River valley and the other was about 15 miles inland from the St. Lawrence River.

In 1851 the Montreal and Kingston Railway Committee commissioned another well-known Canadian engineer and future associate of Gzowski, Walter Shanly, to make another survey of the Montreal-Kingston route. He decided in favour of the line closely paralleling the shore of the St. Lawrence River and running through Cornwall and Prescott. This was the route adopted by the Grand Trunk Railway between Montreal, Kingston and Toronto.

The idea of a railway through the Province of Canada had been on the minds of Canadians for some time. The government proposed to build a line from Montreal to Windsor or to Sarnia. For that part of the route east of Montreal, Premier Francis Hincks turned the first sod on the Quebec Richmond Railway, on January 7, 1852. The government intended to close the gap between Richmond and Montreal by using the St Lawrence and Atlantic Railway. Galt and his associates from Montreal obtained a charter for their Montreal and Kingston Railway, on August 30, 1851.

Gzowski Monument
Gzowski Monument in Toronto.

Francis Hincks turned the plans for the railway scheme over to private interests in 1852, awarding contracts for the Kingston to Toronto section and Montreal to Kingston railway to the British contracting firm Peto, Brassey Jackson and Betts, a move that led to the formation of the Grand Trunk Railway. While Galt had intended to secure the funds to build the Montreal and Kingston Railway, he did not have the resources to compete with Peto, Brassey Jackson and Betts.

Galt and his partners saw great possibilities in the construction of a railway west of Toronto. In 1852 through some skillful financial manipulation they managed to get control of most of the stock in the Toronto and Guelph Railway, chartered in 1851. Gzowski & Co. were contractors of the line between Guelph and Sarnia as well as other sections of the GTR in Ontario and Michigan.

In 1856 Gzowski & Co. was granted the right to cut timber on the Moon River in Muskoka, likely as a source of materials for railway construction. In 1858 Gzowski was granted timber licences on the Whitefish River and on the South River in Northeastern Ontario. Some of these licence records show Gzowski and Macpherson were in partnership with another Muskoka lumberman, Walter Moberly.

As president of the Toronto Turf Club, in 1859 Gzowski was a prime factor in the creation of the Queen's Plate, the first organized thoroughbred horse race in North America. Gzowski was instrumental in organizing the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers, where he served as its first president from 1889 until 1891,[2] and founded Canada's first rifle association. He was also the first Commissioner of the Niagara Parks Commission.

He was appointed an honorary aide-de-camp to the Queen in 1879 and was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1890, and, as a personal friend of Sir John A. Macdonald, was linked to the Conservative Party, even acting as an interim Lieutenant Governor before Oliver Mowat took office in 1897. He died in 1898 in Toronto.


Casimir Gzowski Park, on Toronto's waterfront, commemorates him and includes a monument with some information about his career.

On 5 March 1963, the Canadian post office issued a commemorative stamp featuring Sir Casimir Stanislaus Gzowski on the 150th anniversary of his birth.[3]


Casimir Gzowski was the great-great-grandfather of CBC radio personality Peter Gzowski.[4]


  1. ^ "Sir Casimir Stanislaus Gzowski". Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Foundation. Archived from the original on 2012-08-09. Retrieved January 31, 2011.
  2. ^ "Personals". The Literary Digest. Jan 7, 1899. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  3. ^ Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue, Part 1, British Commonwealth
  4. ^

External links

1813 in Canada

Events from the year 1813 in Canada.

1896 in Canada

Events from the year 1896 in Canada.

1897 in Canada

Events from the year 1897 in Canada.

1898 in Canada

Events from the year 1898 in Canada.

Arthur Sturgis Hardy

For the U.S. diplomat and academic, see Arthur Sherburne Hardy.Arthur Sturgis Hardy, (December 14, 1837 – June 13, 1901) was a lawyer and Liberal politician who served as the fourth Premier of Ontario, Canada, from 1896 to 1899.

Engineering Institute of Canada

The Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC) (French: l'Institut canadien des ingénieurs; ICI) is a federation of twelve engineering societies based in Canada, covering a broad range of engineering branches, and with a history going back to 1887. First known as the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers, it became the first national professional engineering society in Canada.

Great Emigration

The Great Emigration (Polish: Wielka Emigracja) involved the emigration of thousands of Poles, particularly from the political and cultural elites, from 1831 to 1870, after the failure of the November Uprising and of other uprisings (1846, 1863). The name is somewhat misleading, as the number of political exiles did not exceed more than 6,000 during this time. The exiles included soldiers and officers of the uprising, the Sejm of Congress Poland of 1830–31, and several prisoners-of-war who escaped captivity.


Gzowski (Polish pronunciation: [ˈɡzɔfski]; feminine: Gzowska; plural: Gzowscy) is a surname of Polish-language origin. Its Russian-language equivalent is Gzovsky.

The surname may refer to:

Casimir Gzowski (1813–1898), Polish-Canadian engineer

Kazimierz Gzowski (1901–1986), Polish cavalry officer

Peter Gzowski (1934–2002), Polish-Canadian broadcaster

Humber River (Ontario)

The Humber River is a river in Southern Ontario, Canada. It is in the Great Lakes Basin, is a tributary of Lake Ontario and is one of two major rivers on either side of the city of Toronto, the other being the Don River to the east. It was designated a Canadian Heritage River on September 24, 1999.The Humber collects from about 750 creeks and tributaries in a fan-shaped area north of Toronto that encompasses portions of Dufferin County, the Regional Municipality of Peel, Simcoe County, and the Regional Municipality of York. The main branch runs for about 100 kilometres (60 mi) from the Niagara Escarpment in the northwest, while another major branch, known as the East Humber River, starts at Lake St. George in the Oak Ridges Moraine near Aurora to the northeast. They join north of Toronto and then flow in a generally southeasterly direction into Lake Ontario at what was once the far western portions of the city. The river mouth is flanked by Sir Casimir Gzowski Park and Humber Bay Park East.

Joy Gas Stations

Joy Gas Stations operated uniquely designed stations in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in the 1930s for the Joy Oil Company Limited. The stations are examples of the Château style of architecture, a style that was promoted as a uniquely Canadian architectural form in the 1930s.

Of the 16 stations built in the Greater Toronto Area, only one station survives today, at Lake Shore Boulevard West and Windermere Avenue built in 1937. In April 2007, the City of Toronto moved part of the station from the site to a location across the street at Sir Casimir Gzowski Park. The station was restored and will be repurposed as an eatery and tourist information centre once the current contract with the nearby vendor expires after 2016.

Kazimierz Gzowski

Kazimierz Gzowski may refer to:

Casimir Gzowski (1813–1898), engineer and acting Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, 1896–1897

Kazimierz Gzowski (equestrian) (1901–1986), Polish Olympic horse rider

Niagara Parks Commission

The Niagara Parks Commission, commonly shortened to Niagara Parks, is an agency of the Government of Ontario which maintains the Ontario shoreline of the Niagara River.

Peter Gzowski

Peter John Gzowski (July 13, 1934 – January 24, 2002), known colloquially as "Mr. Canada", or "Captain Canada", was a Canadian broadcaster, writer and reporter, most famous for his work on the CBC radio shows This Country in the Morning and then Morningside. His first biographer argued that Gzowski's contribution to Canadian media must be considered in the context of efforts by a generation of Canadian nationalists to understand and express Canada's cultural identity. Gzowski wrote books, hosted television shows, and worked at a number of newspapers and at Maclean's magazine. Gzowski was known for a friendly and warm interviewing style.

Polish Canadians

Polish Canadians are citizens of Canada with Polish ancestry, and Poles who immigrated to Canada from abroad. At the 2011 Census, there were 1,010,705 Canadians who claimed full or partial Polish ancestry.

Queen Elizabeth Way Monument

The Queen Elizabeth Way Monument, also known as the Lion Monument and as the Loring Lion, is an Art Deco monument located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The 1939–1940 monument honoring Queen Elizabeth was built as a decorative marker monument for the Toronto entrance to the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) highway.

The stone monument consists of a column with a crown at the top on top of a base. On the face of the base section is a profile of the Queen and a stone lion is placed in front of the base. The monument was designed by architect William Lyon Somerville, who also designed the Henley Bridge of the QEW. Sculptor Frances Loring was commissioned to execute the stone lion. Florence Wyle modeled the royal profiles and crown. Loring started the lion after the entry of Britain and Canada into World War II and it inspired her design: "a snarling, defiant British Lion, eight feet high." Loring personally carved the lion herself from Queenston limestone. She fired her originally commissioned carver after he made unauthorized changes and took over the carving herself in the late summer and fall of 1940. The monument cost CA$23,000.In 1972, the Government of Ontario announced a new expansion to eight lanes of the QEW at the Humber River, necessitating the removal of the monument. It was first proposed to be moved to Ontario Place but the proposed location spawned public criticism. Instead, the monument was moved in August 1975 to nearby Sir Casimir Gzowski Park along Lake Ontario, on the east side of the Humber River. It was re-dedicated in 1989 by Queen Elizabeth, by then styled and known as The Queen Mother.

The Queen Elizabeth Way was Ontario's first "super-highway" and it was adorned with decoration, such as its light standards and the Henley Bridge in St. Catharines, Ontario. The bridge is adorned with monuments at each end of the bridge in the area between the two directions of traffic. Each is a galley prow with four regal lions in the boat, each bearing a unique shield. There are also piers at each end, two decorated with sailing ships, a third of a native person and canoe and a fourth of a rower. These were designed by the same team that designed the Lion Monument. These remain in their original location.

Royal Canadian Yacht Club

The Royal Canadian Yacht Club (RCYC), founded in 1852, is one of the world’s older and larger yacht clubs. Its summer home is on a trio of islands (RCYC Island, South Island and North Chippewa or Snug Island) in the Toronto Islands in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In 2014, the club had approximately 4700 members, about 450 yachts (95% sail) and a number of dinghies, principally International 14s. Its winter home since 1980 has been a new building 3.5 km north of the harbour that includes social and sports facilities.

Royal monuments in Canada

In Canada, a number of monuments have been erected to honour royal individuals, whether a member of the past French Royal Family, British Royal Family, or present Canadian Royal Family, thus reflecting the country's status as a constitutional monarchy under the Canadian Crown.

Sunnyside, Toronto

Sunnyside is a lakefront district in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It includes a beach and park area along Lake Ontario's Humber Bay, from west of Exhibition Place to the mouth of the Humber River. The area has several recreation uses, including rowing clubs, sports clubs, picnic areas, playgrounds, a nightclub, a bathing pavilion and public pool. The area is a 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) long strip along the lakeshore, bounded by the Gardiner Expressway and rail lines, which separate it from the Parkdale, Roncesvalles and Swansea neighbourhoods to the north. The name originates in a local farm owned by John Howard, which was situated just to the north, on the location of the current St. Joseph's Health Centre hospital.

The area is first noted in Toronto history as the location of the landing of an 1813 attack in the War of 1812. As Toronto grew, High Park preserved the open space to the north, while the Sunnyside area along the lake was taken over by new rail lines and a hydro-electric line serving Toronto, although the area remained popular for boating and swimming. By 1900, there were calls to clean up the area and in the 1910s, the area was the site of a massive waterfront reclamation public works project which expanding the land area by 38 hectares (94 acres), provided a breakwater for boating and built several beaches. Its popularity grew as a summertime recreation area and from 1922 to 1955, the reclaimed land was home to the popular Sunnyside Amusement Park which ran every summer. The amusement park was demolished to facilitate the building of the expressway, leaving behind several shoreline recreation uses from the era of the park, including the pool, the beaches and the sports clubs, all of which remain popular and well-used each summer.

Toronto waterway system

The Toronto waterway system comprises a series of natural and man-made watercourses in the Canadian city of Toronto. The city is dominated by a large river system spanning most of the city including the Don River, Etobicoke Creek, Highland Creek, the Humber River, Mimico Creek and the Rouge River.

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