Biography of Lieut.Col. John Stoughton Dennis

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Lieut: Colonel John Stoughton Dennis, Deputy Minister of the Interior, was born at Kingston, Ontario, in 1820. He is the eldest son of Joseph Dennis and Mary Stoughton, his wife, and grandson of John Dennis, a United Empire Loyalist, who, living in Philadelphia at the time of the American rebellion, cast: his fortunes in with the Crown. At the close of the war, Mr. Dennis, with other expatriated Loyalists, settled in Shelburne, N. S., whence he moved to Beaver Harbour, N. B., and finally, in 1792, settled in Upper Canada on a tract of land given him by the Government on the Humber, near Toronto. Mary Stoughton was a granddaughter of John Gray, a member of Frazer’s Highlanders, who, as part of Wolfe’s army on the heights of Abraham, contributed their share towards the glories of the 13th of September, 1759, the day which gave Canada to the British Crown.

For many years, Colonel Dennis was a widely known and active member of the land surveying profession, and in early life served the Government in making many important explorations and surveys. In 1855, he connected himself with the active militia force, raising and commanding a battery of field artillery at Toronto; and on the reorganization of the militia in 1862, he was appointed to the permanent staff of the active force as brigade major of the 5th military district.

In 1869, on the acquisition by Canada of the Northwest Territories, the subject of this sketch was sent to the Red River settlement to inaugurate a system of government surveys, but the work had hardly been commenced when, in common with the Hon. Wm. McDougall, C.B., who had been appointed Lieutenant-Governor, and other officials of the Canadian Government, he was obliged to leave the country, in consequence of the rebellious conduct of the French half-breeds.

In 1871, Colonel Dennis was appointed Surveyor-General of the lands owned by the Dominion. Upon acceding to office he devised and initiated, in the newly acquired territories, with the approval of the Government, the admirable system of rectangular survey and the comprehensive and liberal land policy, confirmed by Act of Parliament the following year, and now in force and entered generally, under the direction of the Secretary of State, on the work of administering the public domain.

On accepting the office of Surveyor-General, he resigned his position on the staff of the militia, and removed to Ottawa. In November, 1878, he was appointed Deputy Minister of the Interior.

Colonel Dennis married, in 1848, Sarah Maria, second daughter of the late George Henry Oliver and Harriet Webb Sadler, his wife, of Kingston, Ontario, by whom he has had nine children, seven of whom are living.

MLA Source Citation:

The Canadian Biographical Dictionary and Portrait Gallery of Eminent and Self Made Men, Ontario, Volume 1. Toronto: Toronto American Biographical Pub. Co. 1880. Web. 30 January 2015. - Last updated on Aug 8th, 2012


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