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Simon James Dawson
Source: Library and Archives Canada

Simon James Dawson (June 13, 1818October 30, 1902) was a Canadianmarker civil engineer and politician.

Born in Redhaven, Banffshiremarker, Scotlandmarker, Dawson emigrated to Canada as a young man and began his career as an engineer. In 1857, as a member of a Canadian government expedition, he surveyed a line of road from Prince Arthur’s Landing (later Port Arthur, now part of Thunder Baymarker, Ontariomarker) to Fort Garrymarker and further explored that area in 1858 and 1859. His report greatly stimulated Canadian interest in the West. In 1868, he was placed in charge of construction of a wagon and water route following his earlier survey by the newly formed federal Department of Public Works. The Dawson road was traversed in 1870 by the Wolseley Expedition under the command of Colonel Garnet Wolseley sent to preserve order during the first Riel uprising, the Red River Rebellion.

Dawson represented Algoma in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1875 to 1878 and in the Canadian House of Commons from 1878 to 1891. As a politician, he was a consistent advocate for native rights. He died in Ottawamarker in 1902, virtually forgotten.


  • Elizabeth Arthur, Simon J. Dawson C.E. (Thunder Bay, Ont. : Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society, 1987) 36 pages.
  • Janet E. Chute and Alan Knight, "Taking up the torch : Simon J. Dawson and the Upper Great Lakes' Native Resource Campaign of the 1860s and 1870s," in With Good Intentions : Euro-Canadian and Aboriginal Relations in Colonial Canada (Vancouver : UBC Press, 2006), 106-131.
  • Irene J. Dawson, "The Dawson Route 1857-1883 : a Selected Bibliography with Annotations," Ontario History, LIX (no. 1, March 1967), 47-54.
  • Jack Munroe, "Mr Dawson's Road," Beaver, 71 (1) 1991, 6-11.

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