They Left Their Mark

Excerpts from They Left Their Mark. Surveyors and Their Role in the Settlement of Ontario
Ladell, John l., 1924-
Dundurn Press Limited, Toronto, 1993

[p 94-5]

The act of 1785 required, in very general terms, that prospective surveyors be examined by the surveyor general. Such examinations were, of necessity, cursory in early days, indeed if they were carried out at all. But Simcoe, who could not abide incompetence, took what may be thought of as the first steps towards formalizing such examinations. On his way up to Newark in 1792, Simcoe ordered Chewett to examine Lewis Grant.  Grant must have been the first land surveyor whose commission applied specifically to Upper Canada. The examination lasted three days, from 25 to 27 August 1792, and was conducted on the “Grand River, in the County of Stormont.” Chewett’s report on Lewis, addressed to Simcoe, gives us a good idea of what was required of a land surveyor at the time and the instruments he was likely to use:

“I have examined [wrote Chewett] Mr. Lewis Grant … viz.:
  In the necessary parts of arithmetic.
  In the necessary parts of geometry and trigonometry.
  In the necessary parts of surveying, such as:
    Viz. – Surveying a regular or irregular field by the circumferentor
    or chain, and finding the contents of the same.
    Surveying a small river on the ice, and protracting the same, by the
    theodolite and traverse table.
    Surveying a large river, intersecting its opposite side, and
    protracting the same by the theodolite and traverse table.
    Surveying and laying out a township, regular and irregular, and
    protracting the same, by the theodolite, travers table and sector.
    In fixing a meridian, and finding the variation of the compass.
    In finding the latitude by the sun’s meridian altitude.
    In levelling, for the purpose of making aqueducts, etc., etc.
      W. Chewett
      Act. Surv. Gen.” (7)

Shortly after Grant was given his commission, John Stegman reappeared on the surveying scene.

[p 98]

Late in July 1793 Mrs. Simcoe arrived from Newark to join her husband in Toronto. The following Sunday, the couple went exploring. Walking on the “Peninsula” they came across “Mr. Grant’s [the surveyor’s] boat. It was not much larger than a canoe but we ventured into it & after rowing a mile we came within sight of what is named in the map the high lands of Toronto.  The shore is extremenly bold & has the appearance of chalk cliffs but I believe they are only white sand. They appeared so well that we talked of building a summer residence there and calling it Scarborough.” (15) And so the Scarborough Bluffs and Scarborough itself were named.

[p 108]

According to an official list dated 25 April 1805, there were then fourteen deputy surveyors in the province (see appendix A). Interestingly enough, Augustus Jones’s name is on the list, persona non grata as he apparently was. The others, in no particular order, were William Fortune (nearing the end of his life), his son Joseph, Abraham Iredell,  Thomas Welch, Lewis Grant, Richard Cockerell, Henry Smith, John Ryder, Aaron Greeley, Thomas Fraser, Reuben Sherwood, Solomon Stevens, and Samuel Wilmot.


(7)  George Kirkpatrick, ‘President’s Address,” in APLS, 1887.
(15) Innis, Mrs. Simcoe’s Diary, 102.


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