Fonds RC003 - J. M. Pigott fonds

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J. M. Pigott fonds

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  • 1910-1968 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

2.2 m of textual records and graphic material

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Biographical history

The son of a prominent Irish contractor, Joseph M. Pigott was born in Hamilton on 23 February 1885 and educated in Hamilton Separate Schools and Collegiate Institute. In 1903 he began working for his father's expanding construction company, one he would guide to unknown wealth and size. After having gained a thorough grounding in the construction industry Pigott travelled to Saskatchewan in 1909 with his younger brother Roy where they secured a large contract to build St. Paul's Hospital in Saskatoon. While in the West, Pigott met and married Yvonne Prince, daughter of Hon. B. Prince of Battlefield, Saskatchewan, and returned to Hamilton before living briefly in Detroit.

When Roy Pigott returned from the First World War, the two brothers began to direct Pigott Construction to fortune and fame. The first $1,000,000 year came in 1926, and in 1930, Hamilton's earliest skyscraper, the 16-storey Pigott Building, was completed. While Joseph and Roy led the company through the years of the depression, Pigott also dedicated himself to his growing family of 6 boys, 4 of whom were later associated with their father in his business.

After the Second World War Pigott Construction was Canada's largest privately-owned construction company amassing more than $113,000,000 in business in a single year. As head of his own company, Pigott erected some of Canada's largest industrial plants and finest buildings, including the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto; Crown Life Insurance Company head office, Toronto; Bank of Canada, Ottawa; a $45,000,000 plant for General Motors, Oshawa, and buildings totalling $50,000,000 for A. V. Roe Company in Malton. In Hamilton, buildings erected by the Pigott firm include the Canadian Westinghouse offices, Banks of Nova Scotia, Royal and Montreal, McMaster University, the County Court House, Westdale Secondary School, St. Joseph's Hospital, the Pigott Building, the new City Hall and the Cathedral of Christ the King. Upon completion of the Cathedral, Pope Pius XI, in recognition of his accomplishment on this and other buildings, created him a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great and later "Con Placa".

In 1946 in acknowledgment of his services to the Government of Canada during the war Pigott was created Commander of the British Empire. His service to Canada as president of the Wartime Housing Ltd. provided solutions to some most serious problems at that critical time. In consideration of his contributions to social welfare and to the political and intellectual life of Christian society, he was invested as a knight of magistral grace of the Sovereign and Military order of Malta in 1953, and in 1962, he was awarded the honorary degree of LL.D by McMaster University. He was a former president of the Canadian Construction Association, Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, a former vice-president and director of the Toronto-Dominion Bank, president of Pigott Realty Ltd., vice-president and director of North American Life Assurance Company, director of Canada Permanent Trust Company, Atlas Steels Ltd., and United Fuel Investments Ltd. Pigott was also a former president of the board of governors of the Art Gallery of Hamilton, a director of the Ontario Heart Foundation, chairman of the advisory committee of St. Joseph's Hospital, a member of the Hamilton Club, the Hamilton Golf and Country Club and the National Club of Toronto. Pigott played an enormous role in the development of Hamilton. He died in Hamilton on 20 April 1969.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds is arranged in 3 series consisting of: daily journals, condensed journals and travelling diaries.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The fonds (33-2000) was acquired from the Pigott family of Hamilton in July and September 2000.


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Availability of other formats

Pigott's journal for 1911 (Box 1, No.1) is available in the Digital Archive.

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There are no access restrictions.

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No further accruals are expected.

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