Peter Norman Nissen

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Peter Norman Nissen DSO (1871–1930), was a Canadian-American mining engineer, who developed the prefabricated shelter called the Nissen hut in 1916.

Early years[edit]

Nissen was born in the United States (North Carolina or New York?) in 1871 to a Norwegian father (Georg H. Nissen of Bergen, Norway) and English mother (Lavina Litch). Nissen moved with his family to Canada in 1891. He lived in North Carolina and later moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia and studied mining engineering at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.

War and invention of the Nissen Hut[edit]

Nissen moved to England and worked there until he joined the British Expeditionary Force at the start of World War I. It was as a Captain in the Western Front, that Nissen invented his hut. He rose to the rank of Major with the 29th Company of the Royal Engineers.

Prior to the war, Nissen married Louisa Mair Richmond (1900) and returned briefly to Canada. In 1910 he moved to Witwatersrand, South Africa with his wife and daughter Betty and in 1913 he returned to Britain.

Later years[edit]

Nissen was naturalized in 1921 as a British subject. (There was no separate and distinct status of Canadian citizenship at that time, and Canadians were British subjects.) He earned little in royalties from his hut. His wife died in 1923 and he died in London in 1930.


Nissen was awarded by Serbia in 1919, the Order of St. Sava, third class.[1]