Charles Hamilton Mitchell

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Charles Hamilton Mitchell

Charles Hamilton Mitchell
CH Mitchell, c. 1929(?)


In office
1919-1941

Preceded by
Succeeded by

Born February 18, 1872(1872-02-18)
Petrolia, Ontario, Canada
Died August 26, 1941(1941-08-26) (aged 69)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Discipline Civil Engineering
Fields Hydraulic and Hydroelectric Power
Education B.A.Sc. (1894)
D.Eng. (1922, Stevers Institute of Technology)
Alma mater University of Toronto

Charles Hamilton Mitchell (1872-1941) was a notable Civil Engineer and an Officer of the Canadian Forces in World War I, with the rank of Brigadier-General. He served in France, Italy, and England during the war as an Intelligence Officer, winning a number of honours. After the war, he returned to Canada to serve as the 3rd Dean of Engineering at the University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering. He helped greatly expand and improve the Faculty during his tenure, and served until 1941.

Biography[edit]

Early Life and Education[edit]

Charles Hamilton Mitchell was born to George Mitchell and Agnes Becket in 1872 at Petrolia, Ontario. His father, George Mitchell, was a clergyman and a graduate of Upper Canada College and the University of Toronto in mathematics. He was the great-grandson of a United Empire Loyalist.

He attended the School of Practical Science at the University of Toronto, studying Civil Engineering at the School. He received his SPS diploma in 1892 and his B.A.Sc. in 1894. He later received an honourary D.Eng. from the Stevers Institute of Technology in New York in 1922.

After graduating from the University of Toronto, he worked as a Civil Engineer (officially qualifying as a C.E. in 1898), specializing in hydraulic and hydro-electric power development. He took employment as the Assistant City Engineer in Niagara Falls and later served as the City Engineer. After leaving that post, he set up a Toronto-based consulting firm in 1906 in partnership with his brother Percival, working largely in hydroelectric power plant construction. He was responsible for the design and construction of a number of plants in the Maritimes, Ontario, and Western Canada.

In 1901 he married Myra Ethlyn Stanton, daughter of John N. Stanton and Martha Hubbs of St Catharines. They had one son, Donald Russell Mitchell in 1902, though Donald Russel survived for only 3 weeks.

Military Service and World War I[edit]

Mitchell joined the Militia in 1899. Prior to World War I, he served in the 44th Lincoln and Welland Regiment and the Corps of Guides. He was appointed General Staff Officer (3rd grade) on staff of the Headquarters, 1st Canadian Division. When the 2nd Division was formed in August 1915, Lieutenant-Colonel Mitchell was sent to its headquarters as the General Staff Officer, 2nd grade (Intelligence), which was the senior Intelligence appointment in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF).

He became the head of the Intelligence Branch of the Second Army as a Colonel in September 1916, and in October 1918 he was promoted to Brigadier General and served as a senior intelligence officer in the War Office in London following posts in France and Italy. He returned to the Canadian Army in June of 1919, having won numerous honours and decorations, including French, Belgian and Italian awards. He was appointed to the Order of the Bath on June 3, 1918 while serving on the Headquarters of the General Staff of the British Army in Italy with the CEF.

Dean of Engineering[edit]

Prior to his service in the war, Mitchell had represented engineering graduates of the University of Toronto on the Senate from 1901 to 1913. From 1913 to 1919, he served on the Board of Governors of the University until his appointment as Dean.

As the war concluded, the Board of Governors and the President of the University gave thought to who would eventually replace Dr. W.H. Ellis as Dean of Engineering. Ellis, by that time, was contemplating retirement and had only been serving as the Acting Dean of the Faculty since the death of John Galbraith in 1914. The position was likely to be filled by someone who had served in the war, and soon it became clear that Mitchell, with his distinguished service record, would be a good candidate. He was well known from both his military service and his involvement in University governance.

After the war, he officially took up the position as Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science, beginning his term in 1919. Mitchell never had any experience in academic administration, but he quickly grew into the role. His exemplary service record also lent him authority early in his term, when fully half the student population consisted of returning veterans.

Mitchell had collected numerous awards from his service, as well as souvenirs from his tour in Europe. Among these were fragments of stained glass from the battlefields of Flanders which have since been incorporated into the windows of Hart House chapel. Mitchell also presented to the graduating class of 1923 (the first class of graduates consisting mostly of veterans returning from the war) an eighteen-inch brass shell case from the Italian campaign in which he participated.

Mitchell oversaw the Faculty during the entirety of the interwar period. In this time, the Faculty grew from a student body of 772 in 1919 to 961 in 1940, despite rising academic standards and the effects of The Great Depression. The programs of Engineering Physics and Mining Geology were also added during this period.

In addition to his academic role, Mitchell was involved in various public duties. In 1924 he was with American representatives on the Joint Board of Engineers to study the feasibility of a St. Lawrence waterway. He also served on the Board of Trade while he was Dean.

Mitchell retired in 1941, shortly before his death. He was succeeded by C.R. Young.

Death[edit]

General Mitchell died 26 August 1941, and his wife 1 May 1958. Both are interred in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto.

References[edit]