Percy Girouard

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Sir Édouard Percy Cranwill Girouard
Governor of Northern Nigeria
Seal of The Governor of Northern Nigeria
In office
Preceded by Sir Frederick John Dealtry Lugard
Succeeded by Sir Henry Hesketh Bell
Personal details
Born (1867-01-26)26 January 1867
Montreal, Quebec
Died 26 September 1932(1932-09-26) (aged 65)
London, England
Awards KCMG, DSO
Percy Girouard in 1899

Sir Édouard Percy Cranwill Girouard, KCMG, DSO (26 January 1867 – 26 September 1932) was a Canadian railway builder and Governor of Northern Nigeria.


Born in Montreal, Quebec, the son of Désiré Girouard and Essie Cranwill, he attended Collège de Montréal (1877–1878) and College St. Joseph in Trois-Rivières (1879–1882) and graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario, in 1886.


Girouard worked for two years on the Canadian Pacific Railway's "International Railway of Maine" in Greenville, Maine, before he was commissioned in the Royal Canadian Engineers in 1888.

From 1890–1895 he was in charge of the Woolwich Arsenal Railway before he joined the Dongola Expedition in 1896 and was asked by Kitchener to supervise the extension of the old Wadi-Halfa to Akasha railroad. In 1897 he was ordered by Kitchener to build a railway from Wadi Halfa to Abu Hamed, 235 miles directly across the Nubian Desert, which eliminated 500 miles of navigation up the Nile River. This line allowed Kitchener to move the Egyptian and British armies under his command into the heart of the Sudan and defeat the forces of the Khalifa at Atbara and Omdurman in 1898. He received the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) following the defeat of the Sudanese. By then Girouard had been appointed President of Egyptian State Railways and was responsible for clearing the congestion at the Port of Alexandria.

In October 1899 Girouard was sent by the War Office to South Africa to advise on the railway situation of the Cape Colony. When the Boer War (1899–1902) broke out he became Director of Imperial Military Railways which included the lines in the Cape, as well as the lines taken over from the Boers in the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. His rapid reconstruction of the damaged lines and the innovative low level deviations around destroyed bridges, enabled the rapid movement of men and material to support the rapid advance of Lord Robert's forces in 1900 to capture Pretoria. He was mentioned in dispatches (31 March 1900[1]), received the South Africa Medal, and in November 1900 he was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) for his service in the war.[2] Girouard remained in South Africa as Commissioner of the Central South African Railways until pressure from the Johannesburg mine owners to reduce railway expenses forced his resignation in 1904.

In 1906, Winston Churchill, then Under-Secretary of State at the Colonial Office, promoted Girouard as the successor to Sir Frederick Lugard as High Commissioner in Northern Nigeria. Girouard was also responsible for building a railway from Baro, on the Niger River, 366 miles north to the ancient city of Kano. As Governor he also supported the work of the Northern Nigerian Lands Committee and the legislation which resulted from this work had the effect of preventing the establishment of private property in land. He then served as governor of the British East Africa Protectorate (Kenya) from 1909 to 1912. His involvement in the controversial move of the Maasai led to a smoldering dispute with the Colonial Secretary, Lord Milner, who accepted his resignation in 1912. By then Girouard had been offered a position as the managing director of the Eslwick Works of the armaments and shipbuilding concern of Armstrong Whitworth and Co. Ltd.

From 1912 until 1923 Girouard remained at Armstrong's except for a brief period in 1915 when the "Shell Crisis" forced the British Government to abandon its "business as usual" policy. Kitchener had asked Girouard for advice on the production of munitions and supported his appointment as Director General of Munitions in the newly formed Ministry of Munitions under Lloyd George. But Girouard could not work under a politician and six weeks later he returned to work at Armstrongs.

In 1903 he married Mary Gwendolen Solomon, the only child of Sir Richard Solomon, at Pretoria, Transvaal. Their only child was Richard Desire Girouard (1905–1989), who is the father of Mark Girouard, the writer and architectural historian.

Girouard died in London, England, in 1932.


Percy Girouard plaque at Royal Military College of Canada

Mount Girouard, which is located in the Bow River Valley south of Lake Minnewanka, Fairholme Range, in Banff National Park, Alberta. was named in his honour in 1904. Latitude 51; 14; 15, longitude 115; 24; 05.[3]

The Girouard Academic Building at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario, was named in his honour in 1977. A plaque honouring Sir Edouard Percy Cranwill Girouard 1867–1932 was erected in 1985 by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in a breezeway between the Girouard and Sawyer Buildings at the Royal Military College of Canada "Born in Montréal, Girouard was educated at Royal Military College, Kingston, commissioned in the Royal Engineers in 1888, and appointed to the Royal Arsenal Railways at Woolwich. Charged in 1896 with construction of the Wadi Halfa – Khartoum Railway, he was later director of railways in South Africa and as high commissioner in Northern Nigeria superintended the building of a line to Kano. Governor of Northern Nigeria (1908–9), of East Africa (1909–12), and director general of munitions supply in the British government (1915–16), he also wrote several books on the strategic importance of railways."



  • 4237 Dr. Adrian Preston & Peter Dennis (Edited) "Swords and Covenants" Rowman And Littlefield, London. Croom Helm. 1976.
  • H16511 Dr. Richard Arthur Preston "To Serve Canada: A History of the Royal Military College of Canada" 1997 Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1969.
  • H16511 Dr. Richard Arthur Preston "Canada's RMC – A History of Royal Military College" Second Edition 1982
  • H16511 Dr. Richard Preston "R.M.C. and Kingston: The effect of imperial and military influences on a Canadian community" 1968 Kingston, Ontario.
  • H1877 R. Guy C. Smith (editor) "As You Were! Ex-Cadets Remember". In 2 Volumes. Volume I: 1876–1918. Volume II: 1919–1984. RMC. Kingston, Ontario. The R.M.C. Club of Canada. 1984

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