Job Abbott

Job Abbott




Class of 1984

Job Abbott was born in Andover, Massachusetts in 1845. An entrepreneur with both vision and drive, Abbott was trained in civil engineering, administration, and law. Studying engineering at Lawrence Scientific School, Harvard University, he graduated in 1864 and went on to study patent law in Ohio. He would become the vice-president and chief engineer of the Wrought Iron Bridge Company in 1872.

Wrought Iron Bridge built standardized, prefabricated bridges which made vital contributions to the development of road and railway transportation. The company sold structures in Ontario until 1879 when Sir John A. Macdonald’s National Policy placed a 25% tariff on imported fabricated ironwork and steelwork. In response, and with support from Wrought Iron Bridge, the Toronto Bridge Company was born. Abbott would become president and chief engineer in 1880, using his engineering experience and contacts to generate impressive sales.

When news emerged of Canadian Pacific’s plans to build a transcontinental railway, Abbott moved to the centre of this action, Montreal. He founded Dominion Bridge Company in 1882 to design and build the many bridges required for this vast enterprise. The numerous structures fabricated and erected by Dominion Bridge have included railway stations, hotels, arenas, commercial buildings, and the reconstruction of Canada’s Parliament Buildings. Abbott personally negotiated many contracts with major clients and was known as a highly effective salesman.

Health troubles plagued Abbott in the later years of his life, and he passed away in August 1896, just before his 51st birthday. His legacy, Dominion Bridge (later known as AMCA International), went on to become a leader in its industry, dominating the Canadian markets for bridges and the erection of steel frameworks for buildings. A truly versatile professional, Abbott was largely responsible for the successful uniting of American bridge construction technology with British capital and steel supply.


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