John Stoughton Dennis | The Canadian Encyclopedia


John Stoughton Dennis

John Stoughton Dennis, surveyor, soldier (b at Kingston 19 Oct 1820; d at Kingsmere, Qué 7 July 1885).
John Stoughton Dennis
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 Resistance.

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 1878-1881.

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.

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