Sir William Cornelius Van Horne, KCMG (3 Feb 1843 - 11 Sep 1915) succeeded Lord Mount Stephen as President of Canadian Pacific Railway in 1888. He was a prominent member of the Whitney syndicate that created the Cuba Railroad Company, incorporated at Trenton, New Jersey, in 1900 with a capitalization of $8,000,000. He lived at the Van Horne Mansion in Montreal's Golden Square Mile.
At the age of fourteen, Van Horne began working on railroads serving in various capacities on the Illinois Central Railroad until 1864, then for the Chicago & Alton Railway for whom he served as the general superintendent from 1878-1879. In 1882, he was appointed general manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway and in 1884 became its vice-president. Rising to president in 1888, he is most famous for overseeing the major construction of the first Canadian transcontinental Railway.
Van Horne considered the railway an integrated communications and transportation system and convinced the directors and shareholders to create a telegraph service and an express freight delivery service as a complement to the railway. Van Horne was knowledgeable in nearly every element of the railway industry, including operating a locomotive. A wealthy man, he later became an investor of the Cuba Railroad Company, which managed to build the first trans-country railway connecting Havana with the two eastern provinces, Camaguey and Oriente, and the city of Santiago de Cuba in 1901.
He was also responsible for launching the sea transport division of the Canadian Pacific Railway, inaugurating a regular service between Vancouver and Hong Kong in 1891 with the Empress luxury liners, and lastly presided over the expansion of the CPR in the luxury hotel business and participated in the design of two of the most famous buildings in the chain, the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City and Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta.
Van Horne served as a governor of McGill University from 1895-1915 and was one of the first in Canada to acquire artworks by members of the French impressionist movement.
He built the Van Horne Mansion in Montreal and a large summer estate which he named "Covenhoven" on Minister's Island, adjacent to CPR's resort town of St. Andrews, New Brunswick. The island estate is accessible by a road during the Bay of Fundy's low tide.
Following Van Horne's death at the Royal Victoria Hospital, in Montreal, in 1915 at the age of 72, his remains were interred at Oakwood Cemetery in Joliet, Illinois. His Montreal home in the Golden Square Mile was controversially demolished in 1973.
Van Horne was made an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in Queen Victoria's 1894 Birthday Honours - Wikipedia.