Index

Early career of Frederick Lewis Dibblee


See Frederick Dibblee's passports
Institution of Civil Engineers Obituary
Education of Frederick Dibblee

Frederick Lewis Dibblee was born in 1837, at Queen's Street, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. The Institution of Civil Engineers obituary for Frederick Dibblee says that he began his apprenticeship to the profession of Civil Engineering in 1856 as a pupil under Mr. Alexander Luders Light, at that time Chief Engineer of the European and North American Railway in New Brunswick. Mr. Dibblee first assisted in completing the surveys, and afterwards, until 1861, had charge of a 10-mile section comprising heavy works. He was next engaged for two years, by the same engineer, on the explorations for the Intercolonial Railway. Mr. Dibblee's service of seven and a half years on railway work in an undeveloped country was of the greatest assistance to him, by fostering qualities of self-reliance and confidence in his own abilities, which afterwards became characteristic. The surveys of the Intercolonial line having been interrupted, Mr. Dibblee was employed by Mr. (now Sir) James Brunlees, Past President Inst. C.E., for nearly a year on the construction of the São Paulo Railway in Brazil, and he afterwards had experience under Mr. (now Sir) George Bruce, Past President Inst. C.E., of continental methods, as Engineer-in-Charge, for eight months, of a division of the East Prussian Railway under construction. Mr. Dibblee was next sent by Mr. Bruce to Madras, in a similar capacity, on the Great Southern of India Railway in November 1864. .

See the biography of Alexander Luders Light (Dictionary of Canadian Biographies). Light was appointed chief engineer of government railways in New Brunswick in 1856 and supervised construc tion of the European and North American Railway between Saint John and Shediac... In 1860, at his own expense, Light examined three possible routes for a proposed intercolonial railway from the Maritime colonies to Lower Canada. He was under the impression that he would be made chief engineer on the project, and in 1861–62 he was part of a delegation that presented the railway proposal to the imperial government as well as his remarks on routes, which were endorsed by the prominent English engineer James Brunlees. However, the scheme went into abeyance. There being no immediate prospect for its revival, in late 1862 or early 1863 Light accepted an appointment, received through Brunlees, as chief engineer for the Santos and São Paulo Railway in Brazil. He was dismissed, apparently for political reasons, in 1863 or 1864, and he returned to England.

Both Frederick Dibblee and Henry George Clopper Ketchum (see FLD's education) seem to have been with Alexander Luders Light throughout this time. not only working for him in Canada, but following him to Brazil (see FLD's Brazilian passport), and then to England. But Ketchum then returned to Canada, while Frederick found a new employer, Sir George Bruce.

See Wikipedia article on George Barclay Bruce, who was an apprentice of Robert Stephenson. He was engaged to the East Indian Railway and the Madras Railway until ill health ended his time in India in 1856, but he continued his close relationship with the Indian railways, acting as a consultant to the South Indian Railway, Great Indian Peninsular Railway and the Indian Midland Railway. He also worked on several lines in present day Germany amongst them the Tilset-Intersburg, East Prussian and Berlin-Goerlitz lines.

Frederick Dibblee went to Prussia to work on the East Prussian line (see FLD's European passport) but he only worked there eight months. He returned to England,and was offered a job in Madras by Bruce. This must have been a good job offer, as Frederick immediately wrote to his beloved, Emily Binney, still living in Canada, to ask her to come to England, marry him, and go out to India with him. She immediately left Canada to go to him, and they married in London in 1864, and then sailed to India together. Frederick Dibblee spent the rest of his working life in India.