Robert Foulis 1796 – 1866

August 6, 2009

Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1796 Robert Foulis studied medicine, engineering, and fine art before leaving his native land. Foulis intended to immigrate to the United States but the ship he was on went off course landing in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Friends persuaded him to stay in Halifax. He worked as a portrait painter there until he relocated to New Brunswick in 1821 where he worked as a civil engineer.
Foulis began New Brunswick’s first iron foundry. He established a school of fine arts
In 1853 he presented his plans to the Lighthouse Commissioners of the Provincial Assembly for a steam fog-horn. It was the first navigational aid installed on Partridge Island. (1860) It was in the days before radar a very important navigational tool used in bad weather when light houses could not be seen. The steam fog-horn would guide ships into harbor, warning them of rocks in shallow water. This steam fog-horn has since been acknowledged as one of the most important navigational aids ever invented. Nonetheless, Mr. Foulis died unknown and in poverty in 1866.
Foulis inventions included:
A telegraph system based on the steam whistle
A machine to harness the ocean tides
And a steam engine for use in sawmills

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