John Penney Powell
John Penney Powell was born in Carbonear on March 8, 1866, the son of Joseph and Grace Powell.
John began work in 1890 on a survey crew of the Reid Newfoundland Railway. In 1900, he was appointed to oversee the construction of Newfoundland’s first hydroelectric power station at Petty Harbour. Under the auspices of the Reid family, he studied civil engineering at McGill University and upon graduation returned to Newfoundland to become the Chief Engineer of the Railway, a position he held until 1923. Between 1909 and 1915, John engineered all the branch railway lines under construction, including the Bonavista branch where he designed and constructed the now famous Trinity Loop. In the 1920's, John was also involved in the province's pulp and paper industry and played a role in the establishment of the paper mill at Comer Brook.
John was a founding director of United Towns Electric and the Public Service Electric Company which later amalgamated to form Newfoundland Light & Power Co. He was the principal shareholder of Saunders, Howell & Company, a leading player in the province's woodworking and construction industries from 1908 until his death in 1955. The resulting prosperity of the company and its consistent and stable employment nurtured the economic development of Carbonear and Conception Bay areas especially in the depths of the Great Depression.
John Penney Powell died in 1955.