Joseph M. Pigott was born in Hamilton, Ontario on 23 February , the son of a prominent Irish contractor (Michael Pigott, himself the founder of Pigott Construction Co. and the son of an Irish farmer who emigrated to Canada and settled near Guelph).
In 1903 he began working for his father's construction company. In 1909 Pigott travelled to Saskatchewan 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 the Honorable Joseph Benjamin Prince of Battlefield, Saskatchewan. They had 6 sons: William, Jean-Jacques, Joseph, Patrick, Ronald and Paul.
Together the brothers would direct Pigott Construction to fortune and fame. Roy looked after the engineering and Joseph took care of the business administration. The first $1,000,000 year came in 1926, and in 1930, Hamilton's earliest skyscraper, the 16-storey Pigott Building, was completed.
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.
Pigott built some of Canada's largest industrial plants and finest buildings: the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto; Crown Life Insurance Company head office, Toronto; Bank of Canada, Ottawa; a plant for General Motors, Oshawa, and buildings for A. V. Roe Company in Malton. In Hamilton, buildings built by his firm included: 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.
Pigott was honoured for many of is accomplishments:
Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great and later "Con Placa" - in recognition of the Cathedral, by Pope Pius XI.
Commander of the British Empire (in 1946), in recognitiion of his services to the Government of Canada during the war, particularly as president of the Wartime Housing Ltd.
Knight of magistral grace of the Sovereign and Military order of Malta (in 1953) and awarded the honorary degree of LL.D by McMaster University (1962) in consideration of his contributions to social welfare and to the political and intellectual life of Christian society.
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.
Sources of this informaiton include content from the Hamilton Hall of Fame Inductees as well as information coming from the University of McMaster archives (whose reflections come from the donation of Joseph M. Pigotts daily journals donated to the University in 2000).
|Joseph Michael Pigott|
Joseph Michael Pigott's prolific career left a legacy of prominent buildings. As a family man, a community advocate, a volunteer and business man, Joe Pigott set a standard of performance which few can match.
Born in 1885 into a construction family, he began working with his father, and soon stuck out on his own. As he would later say, it was natural for a young man to have ideas different from his fathers and a need to put these into action. He moved out west to start a company with his brother Roy. Following a successfully hospital bid, his father joined them. Later, upon his brothers return from WWI, he and Roy began to steer the Pigott Construction Company to its well known success.
Joe Pigott believed rewards could come indirectly and did benefit from involvement in associations and his community. He was the first president (1920) of the Hamilton Construction Association, first President of the Canadian construction Association (1921) and an honourary life of Apprenticeship (1928-1960), and a man known as the "father" of apprenticeship in Ontario.
His wider community contributions include time as President of the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Director of the Ontario Heart Foundation, Advisory Board member of St. Joseph's Hospital, Member of the McMaster University Board of Governors, 1932 President of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and non-paid President form 1941-1948 of the government of Canada War Time Housing.
He was not so much a man of academia as a leader by intuition and intellect. His writings, conceptual planning, drive, and leadership came from what he called " A liberal education in the field". One look at the long list of Pigott building projects easily demonstrates he learned well: the present City Hall, Royal Ontario Museum, Bank of Montreal (Main & James), Westdale High School, original McMaster Buildings, Hamilton Armoury, the Pigott Building and the Cathedral of Christ the King.
For the latter project, a labour of love, he was Knighted Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great by Pope Pius XI, he was a Knight of Magistral Grace of the Sovereign and Military Order of Malta, a Hamilton Gallery of Distinction inductee, Commander of the Order of British Empire (CBE) and received an Honourary Law Degree from McMaster University. He served as a Vice President & Director of the Toronto Dominion Bank and North American Life Insurance Company. Director of Canada Permanent Trust, Artlas Steels Ltd, and United Fuel Investments Ltd.
On the death of Joe Pigott, McMaster President Dr. H. G. Thode was quoted by the Hamilton Spectator as saying "Hamilton knew him as a builder of great imagination and strong courage. He will be mourned by men and women in all walks of life". The most Reverend Joseph Ryan, Bishop of Hamilton said "When you have a man of such high position and such humble ways, you feel the loss even more."
Joseph Pigott may be gone, but his contribution and legacy remains, in buildings, in writings, his influence on the construction industry association development and in the development of industry standards.
http://www.hhca.ca/hall%20of%20fame/inductees/j.m.pigott.asp (Proof Positive)
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.
http://library.mcmaster.ca/archives/findaids/fonds/p/pigott.htm (Proof Positive II)