| Cast of Characters
Baird, Nicol Hugh - By's second Clerk of the Works appointed in 1828.
By, Colonel John - a Royal Engineer, By was born in Lambeth, England in about 1783. He entered the Royal Military Academy in 1796, joining the Royal Engineers in 1799. Retired on half pay in 1821 he was brought out of retirement in 1826 and appointed Superintending Engineer of the Rideau Canal. By was directly in charge of the construction of the Rideau Canal. He returned to Britain in November 1832 and died on February 1, 1836.
Bolton, Captain Daniel - Royal Engineer - Colonel By’s second in command. Succeeded By as Superintending Engineer of the Rideau Canal when By returned to England in 1832. He was later promoted to Major. He took up residence in Colonel By’s house and stayed there during his term as superintendent (1832-1843). This area, on which Colonel By’s house once stood, is now known as Major's Hill Park, named after Major Bolton.
Burrowes, Thomas - Assistant Overseer of the Works during the building of the Rideau Canal. Thomas Burrowes provided many beautiful watercolour paintings that give us a view of what the canal was like both during and after construction.
Burrows, John - a surveyor who settled in the Nepean area in 1818. His original name was John Burrows Honey, but he dropped his last name after moving to Canada. He did a number of jobs during the construction of the canal, including a couple of the early surveys in 1827. He was eventually appointed Clerk of the Works for the Rideau Canal in 1837. John Burrows, like Thomas Burrowes, was a painter who did numerous watercolours of the Rideau both during and after construction.
Clowes, Samuel - civil engineer and surveyor for the Macaulay Commission. Clowes made a detailed survey and report of the Rideau route, presenting his report to the commission in April 1824 and recommending the Rideau Lakes route (as opposed to Jebb's Irish Creek route).
Dalhousie, 9th Earl of (George Ramsay) – governor-in-chief of British North America (Canada) from 1820 to 1828.
Denison, Lieutenant William - a Royal Engineer working for Colonel By. Posted to Bytown and was Superintending Engineer for the works at Hogs Back.
Drummond, Robert - a construction contractor who worked primarily on the locks and dams at Kingston Mills, Upper and Lower Brewers, and Davis Lock (in partnership with John Haggart).
Drummond, Sir Gordon - administrator of Upper Canada in 1813-15 and of Lower Canada, 1815-1816. Under orders from London, he was asked to provide an estimate of costs for the Lachine Canal and for the Ottawa and Rideau routes to be made navigable. It was Drummond who in April 1816, dispatched a young Lieutenant, Joshua Jebb, to conduct an exploration of the Rideau route for the purposes of this estimate.
Durnford, Lieutenant-Colonel - commander of the Royal Engineers in Canada. Appointed to position in about 1816.
French, Lieutenant Gershom - an officer in the Loyal Rangers (also known as "Jessop's Corps") who led the first official survey party through the Rideau route in 1783.
Frome, Lieutenant Edward - Royal Engineer posted under John By. Did a survey of the route in 1827 and supervised the construction of some of the works at the Kingston end of the canal.
Jebb, Lieutenant Joshua - a Royal Engineer who conducted a survey of the Rideau route in 1816. Recommended route be taken by way of Irish Creek rather than Rideau Lake.
Kempt, Lieutenant General Sir James - Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia - headed up a committee of military engineers appointed in 1827 to look into proposed changes for the Rideau Canal, including By's recommendations for a larger lock size. Toured the Rideau in the spring of 1828, making recommendations in June, 1828 that the lock size be increased from 108 x 20 to 134 x 33.
Macaulay, Captain John - headed up a provincial commission, started in 1821, to look into the building of canal routes in Upper Canada. This commission's surveyor, Samuel Clowes, made a detailed report of the Rideau Route, recommending the Rideau Lakes routing, in April 1824.
MacTaggart, John - Colonel By's Clerk of the Works from 1826-1828. He did some surveys of the Rideau route, the first in later 1826 and a second in 1827. Fell ill from malaria in 1828 and was dismissed from his job for drunkenness by Governor Sir James Kemp. MacTaggart wrote a book about his experiences in Canada called "Three Years In Canada".
Maitland, Sir Peregrine - Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada in the 1820s. He appointed the Macaulay Commission to look into the building of canal routes in Upper Canada.
Mann, Gother - As Inspector-General of Fortifications from 1811 to 1830, Mann was involved in the creation of plans for the defence of Upper and Lower Canada. It was likely Mann who chose Lt. Colonel John By to be Superintending Engineer of the Rideau Canal construction project.
McKay, Thomas - a construction contractor who worked primarily on the Ottawa Locks. McKay was in partnership with John Redpath, Andrew White and Thomas Phillips. All four had prior canal building experience, having worked on the Lachine Canal. After his work on the Rideau he stayed in Bytown, building a house for himself, Rideau Hall, now the Governor General of Canada's home. He built the first courthouse in Bytown as well as several mills.
Pooley, Lieutenant Henry - a young engineer with the Royal Engineers - he was to be By's main assistant during the building of the Rideau Canal.
Prevost, Sir George - commander of the military forces in Canada from 1811 - 1815. An early advocate for the Rideau route.
Ramsey, George – 9th Earl of Dalhousie (see Dalhousie).
Redpath, John - a construction contracter who worked primarily on the locks and dam at Jones Falls. Redpath was in partnership with Thomas McKay, Andrew White and Thomas Phillips. All four had prior canal building experience, having worked on the Lachine Canal. Redpath would go on to build Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal and some of the first buildings at McGill University. He is perhaps best known today for "Redpath Sugar" which got its start as the largest sugar refinery in Montreal, built by Redpath in 1854.
Phillips, Thomas - a construction contractor who worked primarily on the locks and dams at Long Island and Black Rapids. Phillips was in partnership with Andrew White, John Redpath, and Thomas McKay. All four had prior canal building experience, having worked on the Lachine Canal.
Savage, Captain H.J. - commander of the 7th Company of Sappers and Miners - posted to Bytown and later the Isthmuth (Newboro).
Smyth, Major General Sir James Carmichael - headed up a British Government commission looking into the defences of Upper Canada. In 1825 he was instructed to look into the Rideau route since the provincial authorities had no interest (money) to build it. It was Smyth who first recommended that the Rideau be built using contractors.
Victor, Captain James C. - commander of the 15th Company of Sappers and Miners - posted to Bytown.
Wellington, Duke of (Iron Duke) - general who had led British forces in defeating Napoleon at Waterloo. He became Master-General of the Ordnance in about 1819 and became an advocate for the building of the Rideau Canal.
White, Andrew - a construction contractor who worked primarily on the locks and dams at Long Island and Black Rapids. White was in partnership with Thomas Phillips, John Redpath, and Thomas McKay. All four had prior canal building experience, having worked on the Lachine Canal.