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Lieutenant-Colonel John By (August 7, 1779February 1, 1836) was an Englishmarker military engineer, best remembered for supervising the construction of the Rideau Canalmarker and, in the process, founding what would become the city of Ottawamarker.

Born in Lambethmarker in Londonmarker, England in 1779, By studied at the Royal Military Academy. He was commissioned in the Royal Artillery on 1 August 1799 but transferred to the Royal Engineers on 20 December the same year. In 1802 he was posted to Canadamarker for the first time, where he worked on the fortification of Quebec Citymarker and on improving the navigability of the Saint Lawrence Rivermarker. During the Napoleonic wars he returned to Europe, where he served in Spainmarker under the Duke of Wellington from 1811 until 1815.

With the end of the war By retired from the military but in 1826, in view of his engineering experience in Canada, he was recalled and returned to Canada to supervise the construction of the Rideau Canalmarker. Since the canal was to begin in the wild and sparsely populated Ottawa River valley, his first task was the construction of a town to house the men who were to work on the canal, and associated services. The resulting settlement, called Bytown in his honour, would later become famous under the new name of Ottawa.

The canal was completed in six years, and was acclaimed as an engineering triumph. Upon his return to London, however, By faced accusations about the finances of the project. Officials of the British Treasury Board suggested that he had made a number of unauthorised expenditures, and By spent the remaining years of his life attempting to clear his name. He died in 1836 and is buried in the village of Frantmarker in East Sussexmarker in the South East of England.

John By's name lives on in a number of contexts:

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