Thomas Stuart ACHESON (1876-1954)

Thomas was born at Durham, Ontario on 17 May 1876. He was the eldest son of the Rev. Samuel Acheson (1845-1904) and Margaret MacIntosh Starratt (1843-1914). Thomas was educated at the public schools of Kippen, Ontario and the Clinton (Ontario) Collegiate.

He married Mary Elizabeth Croll, (1880-1965, daughter of Rev. Robert Milnes Croll of Nesbitt, and sister of Hubert Alexander Croll), on 04 June 1901. They had two children: Samuel Croll Acheson (1902-1975) and Kathleen Margaret Acheson (1908-1996, wife of Henry Vance Echols).

In 1892, he began to learn telegraphy and, three years later, came to Winnipeg where he worked for a few months as a telegraph operator in the editorial office of the Nor’Westernewspaper. In the fall of 1895, he went to work as a telegraph operator for the Canadian Pacific Railway, stationed successively at Marquette and Carberry until 1900 when he went to Winkler as station agent. In 1904, he was appointed traveling grain agent for the railway, becoming general agricultural agent for western lines in 1909 covering Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. He served as the general agricultural agent for the railway until his retirement in 1946.

Farmer, Railway Agent

In 1904, he compiled the first of what has become a long series of regular and reliable weather and crop summaries. There were no agricultural colleges when he was a young railroader, so in 1911 he initiated the Agricultural College Special which were trains that took the college to the farmer and were known as the “Better Farming Trains.

Thomas served in the First World War as a captain in the 78th Battalion of the Winnipeg Grenadiers, during which he received the Military Order of the British Empire and two mentions in despatches.

He was a member of the Dry Farming Congress, Manitoba Club, and AF & AM (Prince Rupert’s Lodge No. 1). The honour he prized most highly was when the Blood Indians, whom he had known from his youthful pathfinding days, conferred upon him the title Chief Iron Horse.

Thomas died at Winnipeg on 13 January 1954 and was buried in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery.


  • Birth, Marriage & Death Registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
  • “Ex-railway agricultural agent dies”, Winnipeg Free Press, 14 January 1954, page 10.
  • “Thomas S. Acheson”, Winnipeg Free Press, 16 January 1954, page 19.
  • “Prominent Pastor Dead” [Rev. Samuel Acheson], The Bottineau Courant, 30 September 1904, page 5.
  • “Mrs. Samuel Acheson Dead”, The Word County Independent, 21 January 1915, page 2.
  • Obituary [Mary Elizabeth CROLL], Winnipeg Free Press, 30 April 1965, page 27.
  • Obituary [ACHESON, Samuel Croll], Edmonton Journal, 11 February 1975, page 38.
  • California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 [Kathleen Margaret Echols],


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