He was born in Havelock, Huntingdon County, Quebec and grew up in Clinton, New York. He first worked for the Manchester and Keene Railroad in New Hampshire. In 1880, he began work with the Canadian Pacific Railway, first at Montreal and, then in 1885, at North Bay. Colgan was a master bridge builder for the railway. He served on the first and second town councils and also served on the public school board, serving as board chair in 1906 and 1907.
He was married twice: first to E. A. Hawksby and then to M. E. Kerby.
- Gard, Anson Albert (1909). North Bay, the gateway to Silverland : being the story of a happy, prosperous people ... Toronto: Emerson Press. p. 161.
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