John Stoughton Dennis

John Stoughton Dennis, surveyor, soldier (b at Kingston 19 Oct 1820; d at Kingsmere, Qué 7 July 1885). Of UE Loyalist stock, Dennis was commissioned a surveyor in the Department of Crown Lands in 1843. He joined the militia in 1855, becoming in 1862 Brigade Major of No 3 Military District, Toronto.

Dennis, John Stoughton

John Stoughton Dennis, surveyor, soldier (b at Kingston 19 Oct 1820; d at Kingsmere, Qué 7 July 1885). Of UE Loyalist stock, Dennis was commissioned a surveyor in the Department of Crown Lands in 1843. He joined the militia in 1855, becoming in 1862 Brigade Major of No 3 Military District, Toronto. He was exonerated by a court of inquiry about his leadership in a skirmish against FENIANS in 1866, but the episode seems to have ended his army career. In 1869 Dennis was placed in charge of surveying the North-West Territories, where his arrival helped precipitate the RED RIVER REBELLION.

In 1871 he became surveyor-general of DOMINION LANDS, ie, the person chiefly responsible for mapping the Prairie West, and was deputy minister of the Interior Department 1887-81.

His son, J.S. Dennis Jr, followed a similar career as a surveyor in the West in 1872, as commander of a militia unit against Riel at BATOCHE in 1885, and as inspector of surveys 1887-94. J.S. Dennis Jr wrote a history of the Dominion lands survey 1869-89 (when his father had proposed a better system than the US standard eventually adopted) and ended his career as chief of the CPR Department of Natural Resources in charge of lands and irrigation.


Further Reading

  • D.W. Thomson, Men and Meridians, Vol 2 (1967).