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No.: PR3804
TITLE: A.W. Ponton Fonds
CREATOR: Archibald William Ponton
DATE RANGE: 1884 - 1913
EXTENT: 0.17 m of textual records.

Archibald William (A.W) Ponton was born in Belleville, Ontario, January 25th 1859, the son of Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Ponton and Mary Francis Ponton (nee Patterson). Ponton had five siblings; one brother and four sisters. His youth was spent in Belleville, where he attended the local grammar school. Ponton suffered from hearing loss, first losing his hearing at the age of 16. During this time he was studying for his preliminaries to become a professional land surveyor (P.L.S), eventually passing his P.L.S exam in April 1880.

In May 1880, Ponton took on an apprenticeship with Ontario land surveyor Thomas O. Bolger. Between 1880 and 1883, Ponton was employed on the Grand Trunk Railway with the Dominion government, working between Belleville and Toronto. In 1883, Ponton was appointed as a Surveyor for the Department of Indian Affairs under the Dominion Government. He held this position for twenty years, spending fifteen of those based out of Regina, and five based out of Ottawa. While living in Regina in 1892, Ponton married Mary Irvine. Over the course of his career with the Department of Indian Affairs, he was responsible for the survey and subdivision of reservation lands in western Canada and northern portions of the United States, including the North Dakota Turtle Mountain reservation.

In 1904, Ponton accepted a position as a surveyor and engineer for the District of Macleod, where he remained two years, after which he was again employed by the Dominion Government. Ponton passed away in Edmonton on January 20th, 1915, aged 55, after succumbing to a two-year struggle with stomach cancer. He was survived by his wife and four children, two of whom, Archibald Irvine and Isabel, were serving overseas in the war effort at the time of his death.

SCOPE AND CONTENT: Fonds consists of 26 diaries kept by land surveyor A.W Ponton between the years 1884 and 1913. Diaries include short daily entries on Ponton’s survey work and personal life in Alberta, including details about his survey progress, expenses, appointments, and dates, as well as the weather and terrain encountered. Entries also include Ponton’s observations of First Nation reservations and the individuals from area reservations he contracted to help with survey work (no names provided). Diaries occasionally contain memorandums with recipes for medicines to treat Ponton’s hearing loss and gout, and short excerpts of creative writing.
ASSOCIATED MATERIAL: Reports and correspondence from A.W Ponton received by the Department of Indian Affairs, sent during his time working as a land surveyor for the Department, can be found with Library and Archives Canada in the Indian Affairs Record Group 10 (RG10). Many of these records have been digitized for online access and are available on microfilm in the PAA collection (see PR1979.0140, PR1993.0615, PR1991.0044, PR1991.0323, PR1992.0523, PR1991.0044).
RELATED RECORDS: The Provincial Archives of Alberta has several accessions with Dominion Land Surveyor notebooks, many of which were created by A.W Ponton. See Department of Energy and Natural Resources fonds, Dominion and Alberta Land Surveyors’ field notebooks series (GR0072.0018). The Archives also holds additional diaries created by A.W Ponton for the years 1906, 1907-08, 1909-10, 1913 and 1914 in accession GR1979.0027. File lists are available. Ponton’s last will and testament can be found in the Archives’ probates holdings, under GR1995.0399/4485.
GENERAL NOTE: Information for biographical sketch taken from the following sources: the records and donor’s notes, the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors “Report of Committee on Topographical Surveying” (1915, p197); “Pioneer Life on the Bay of Quinte” (1904, p668); and A.W Ponton’s probate record (Provincial Archives of Alberta GR1995.0399/4485).

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