Samuel Holland

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Samuel Johannes Holland
Samuel Holland.jpg
Samuel Johannes Holland
Surveyor General of North America
In office
Preceded byNone
Succeeded byHimself as Surveyor General of Upper and Lower Canada
Surveyor General of Upper Canada
In office
Preceded byHimself as Surveyor General of North America
Succeeded bySir David William Smith, 1st Baronet
Surveyor General of Lower Canada
In office
Preceded byHimself as Surveyor General of North America
Succeeded byJoseph Bouchette
Personal details
Deventer, Holland
Quebec, Lower Canada
Spouse(s)Gertrude Hasse m. 1749
OccupationRoyal engineer

Samuel Johannes Holland (1728 – 28 December 1801) was a Dutch-born Royal Engineer and first Surveyor General of British North America.

Life in the Netherlands[edit]

Holland was born in 1728 in Deventer,[1] the Netherlands. He was baptised on 22 September 1729 in the small Lutheran Church in the Dutch town of Deventer in the Province of Overijssel. In 1745, he entered the Dutch or Staatse Leger artillery and served during the War of the Austrian Succession. He was promoted lieutenant in 1747.

In 1749, Holland married Gertrude Hasse. They had one daughter who is thought to have died in infancy. In 1754, having possibly made contact with the Duke of Richmond and leaving his wife behind in the Netherlands, Holland emigrated to England to seek advancement under the British flag.

Early years in British North America[edit]

In 1756, Holland, probably with Richmond's aid, became a lieutenant in the Royal Americans, coming to British North America where he would spend the rest of his life. Among his first assignments was the preparation of a map of New York province; this map would be widely used for twenty years.

In 1757, during the French and Indian Wars, he was promoted Captain lieutenant and assigned to reconnoitre Fort Carillon near Ticonderoga, New York, but in early 1758 he was transferred as assistant engineer to the expedition against Louisbourg. There, Holland made surveys of the surrounding area and prepared plans and gave engineering advice under the command of Brigadier-General James Wolfe. Following Louisbourg's capitulation, Holland was strongly commended by Wolfe to the Duke of Richmond.

That winter, Holland and his new pupil, James Cook, drew charts of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and Saint Lawrence River in preparation for an attack on Quebec. He also supervised the construction of Fort Frederick in Saint John, New Brunswick. He was promoted captain in 1759 and participated actively in the siege of Quebec, narrowly escaping death on one occasion when his boats were nearly run down by a schooner.

Holland was later employed in surveying the settled parts of the Saint Lawrence River valley and in drawing up new plans for a citadel in Quebec after the French siege was lifted.

Surveyor General[edit]

In 1762, Holland took his maps to London where he submitted them to the Board of Trade, proposing a survey of all British possessions in North America to facilitate settlement, a proposal which was accepted in 1764.

On 6 March 1764, Holland was appointed Surveyor-General of North America. On 23 March, he received instructions to survey all British possessions north of the Potomac River, which included St. John's Island, the Magdalen Islands, and Cape Breton Island, because of their importance for the fisheries.

Holland arrived in October 1764 on Isle Saint-Jean, whose territory was ceded to Britain under the Treaty of Paris (1763). The task of mapping the island lasted two years. Holland's survey divided the island into a series of townships known as "lots", parishes, counties, and "royalties" (shire towns) in advance of a feudal land system which was established on the island over the following century.[citation needed] Holland was later given a parcel of land on the St. John's Island, Lot 28, settled by farmers. Holland charged very little as an absentee landlord.

In 1767 he proposed that British explorers look for a Northwest Passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, but his proposal was never taken into great consideration.

In 1791 he became the Surveyor-General of Lower Canada and Upper Canada, then replaced with Sir David William Smith, 1st Baronet in 1792.

Personal life[edit]

Holland had begun living in Quebec as early as 1762 with then 21-year-old Marie-Joseph Rollet. Their first son, John Frederick, was born on St. John's Island (now Prince Edward Island).

Although his separation from Gertrude Hasse had been amicable, he still paid her an annual allowance between 1756 and 1780. In 1784 Hasse petitioned the British government to force him to renew payments, but she was refused.

In about 1772 Holland's marriage to Marie-Joseph Rollet was contracted as legal. The couple would eventually establish a family of ten children.

Samuel Holland died at Quebec, Lower Canada in 1801 and buried in a private cemetery on his Holland House estate or Holland Farm.[2] This estate has since been re-developed.[3]


The community college system for Prince Edward Island, Holland College, is named for Samuel Holland, as is the community of Holland Landing, Ontario. The Captain Samuel Holland rose, developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, was named in his honour.[4]

Samuel Holland also has a coffee house in Summerside named after him. The Holland River in Ontario, which drains about 20,000 acres of the Holland Marsh into Lake Simcoe is named after him, as well as the community of Holland Landing, Ontario.[citation needed]

Samuel-Holland Park and Avenue Holland in Quebec City are the only reminders of his Holland House estate.


  1. ^ Samuel Holland, Canada's first Surveyor-General
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "The Explorer series". The Canadian Rose Society. Archived from the original on 6 August 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) Captain Samuel Holland rose

External links[edit]