A Blupete Biography Page

Captain Samuel Johannnes Holland

Captain Holland, a Dutchman, who leaving his military career in Holland (and, incidentally, a wife and a child) made his way to England, in 1749, there he joined the British army and within a few years was sent to America where he spend the balance of his career. Captain Holland was among the leading lights in the post war reconstruction of Nova Scotia (DeBarres was another who had a career very much like that of Holland's). D. C. Harvey in his introduction to Holland's Description Cape Breton Island was to rather succinctly sum up Holland's involvement in America.

"Holland accompanied Lord Loudoun to America in 1756, as acting-engineer, was promoted by him to a captain-lieutenancy and employed in making a map of the province of New York. He continued at this work under Lord Amherst until the siege of Louisbourg in 1758, when he served under Wolfe. After the capitulation of Louisbourg he made a plan of the town and its environs, met Captain Cook at Kennington Cove, instructed him in the use of the plane table, and later went to the mouth of the St. John River to supervise the erection of Fort Frederick. In 1759 he accompanied Wolfe to Quebec, was promoted to the rank of Captain, and, after Wolfe's death, served til the capitulation of Montreal. In 1761 he was employed in surveying the settled portions of the Province of Quebec, and in the following year carried his plans to England, where he remained until 1764. In the latter year he was appointed Surveyor General of the Province of Quebec and also of the Northern District of America. It was in his capacity of Surveyor General of the Northern District of America that he surveyed and wrote his description of Cape Breton Island."1
From Harvey we also learn2 that after his work in Nova Scotia, in subsequent years, Holland completed surveys in the Gulf and the Lower St. Lawrence; and, beginning in 1770, for two years, he carried out work in New Hampshire; in 1774 he was in New Jersey working on the boundaries between "New York and New Jersey and New York and Massachusetts." During the American Revolution Holland served under William Howe and Henry Clinton. In 1778 he was transferred to Quebec; and, after the trouble with the colonies was over, he supervised much of the surveying work that was involved in getting the loyalists settled at Quebec; and, in 1791 with the drawing of the boundaries between Upper and Lower Canada. Holland died, I think at Quebec, in 1801.


[1] Holland's Description Cape Breton Island (Halifax: PANS, Publication, No. 2; 1935) at p. 32. Stephen B. MacPhee, in his article, "DesBarres and His Contemporaries as Mapmakers" [NSHR, Volume #5, No. 2 (1985) at p. 19] sets out the story. It was just one day after the surrender of Louisbourg, that is to say, on July 28th, 1758, that Cook and Holland met on the beaches of Kennington Cove. "Cook [who was then serving on the Pembroke as a lead hand and not as an officer, as he came to be] had gone ashore and his curiosity was aroused by an officer carrying a small square table mounted on a tripod. The officer would set the table down, sight along the top in many directions, and then write in a notebook. The two men struck up a conversation and Cook discovered that his chance companion was Captain Samuel Holland ..."

[2] Ibid. at p. 33.


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Peter Landry
2012 (2020)