James Alexander MacPhail

James Alexander MacPhail

Served during the following dates: 1911-11-15

MACPHAIL, LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JAMES ALEXANDER “SANDY,” engineer, professor, and university administrator; b. 25 January 1870 in Orwell, son of William Macphail and Catherine E. Smith; m. 10 May 1910 Agnes Mary Moray, and they had one child, Moray St. John; Church of Scotland; d. 13 January 1949.
Macphail, a Conservative, was first elected to the Legislative Assembly in a by-election held 15 November 1911 for 4th Queens. The by-election was necessary due to the appointment of F. L. Haszard* to the provincial Supreme Court. Macphail was re-elected in the general election of 1912. On 24 April 1915, his absence from the Legislative Assembly was excused due to his service in the war, and he was not a candidate in the general election of 1915.
Macphail received his early education in local schools and at Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown. He then attended McGill University in Montreal, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, going on to become a professor in the School of Mining at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Macphail was appointed to the Department of Civil Engineering in 1904. He returned to Queen’s after the FirstWorld War in 1919 and was appointed head of the Department of Civil Engineering, a post he held for 20 years. When Macphail retired in 1939, he was awarded an honourary degree. He was also awarded an honourary degree from McGill. He was the first recipient of the Medal for Meritorious Service to Queen’s, awarded by the Montreal Branch of Queen’s Alumni.
In the First World War, Macphail served as a commanding officer of the Canadian Officers Training Corps at Queen’s. He was a Major in No. 5 Company of the Canadian Engineers. He formed the Queen’s Company of Military Engineers and in 1914 was asked to assemble and proceed with this company to Valcartier. The company formed a nucleus from which contingent parts went overseas to serve mainly as engineers for the Canadian Air Force. During his time in the military, Macphail rose from Major to Lieutenant-Colonel. James Alexander Macphail died 13 January 1949.
Macphail was the brother of Sir Andrew Macphail, the noted physician and surgeon, agriculturalist, teacher, and writer. The Macphail Homestead is presently maintained by the provincial government as an historic site.
Agnes Macphail was the daughter of Archdeacon Macmorine of Kingston.

References: CPG 1912; Elections PEl; Queen’s Alumni Review September October 1970; PARO: Free Church of Scotland Book 4 p. 94; PARO: Macphail Family File. Guide to abbreviations

Photograph courtesy of PEI Public Archives and Records Office, Reference Number Acc2320/119-2