They Left Their Mark


With a lively mixture of scholarship, anecdote, and humour, this book tells the story of the shock troops of settlement – the surveyors of Ontario. It brings to light for the first time the crucial role played by surveyors in the history of the province.

From the early cartographers and explorers such as Champlain and the Jesuits to today’s specialists with their maps based on satellite measurements, the surveyor’s role in the development of the province has been prodigious and largely unnoticed. Surveyor’s set the stage on which we live out our lives. They laid out the townships, farms, cities and towns, roads, railroads, highways, and hydro lines.

Early surveyors were men of enormous endurance. Robert Bell and his party faced starvation when they ran the first survey line south of what is now Algonquin Park in the winter of 1847-48. In 1872, Hugh Wilson walked 250 miles before he began his survey of one of the first townships south of Thunder Bay.

Incorporated in 1892, the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors is one of the oldest professional bodies of its type. it is the self-regulating organization for professional land surveying in the province of Ontario. Its membership is comprised not only of the traditional cadastral, or legal boundary, surveyor, but also of hydrographers, photogrammetrists, geodesists. They Left Their Mark celebrates the centenary of the Association.


"Eminently readable and provides an enormous amount of information about early land surveyors, their surveys, the association, and the work of many government departments in the surveying, mapping, settling, and developing of Ontario."

University of Toronto

About the Author

John and Monica Ladell

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014

John and Monica Ladell

After studying land-use planning at the University of Toronto in the 1970s, Dr. Ladell turned to consulting work and writing. His publications include numerous technical papers as well as magazine articles on colonial and medical history and a range of popular subjects. He is co-author, with his wife, Monica, of two books on the agricultural history of Ontario. The Ladells, who have two children, live in Scarborough.