"genius in construction"

Born - 1822 at Sea 

Grant, like all Royal Engineer officers, was a Gentleman Cadet at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, where he learned his trade as an engineer, becoming a 2nd Lieutenant on 1 Jan. 1842.

Lieutenant - 18 March 1845
2nd Captain - 17 Dec. 1853
Captain - 21 May 1855

As a Captain, Grant's Regimental Pay would have been 202 Pounds per Annum plus a Colonial Allowance of 350 Pounds per Annum.

Senior Captain of the Columbia Detachment.

In charge of the second group of 12 RE, chiefly carpenters, who sailed out of Southampton, on the Arato, 17 September 1858.

British Consulate
San Francisco
4th November 1858

My Lord,

I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of Mr. Fitzgerald's dispatched No. 8 of the 10th September informing me that Captain Grant of the Royal Engineers was about starting for British Columbia and directing me to afford that officer all the assistance in my power to enable him, with the men under his command to reach his destination speedily.

I have to inform your Lordship that Captain Grant arrived safely with his men on the evening of the 31st ultimo and left the following morning in the American steam-ship "Cortez" for Vancouver's Island.  I regret to have to add that one man deserted at this port and I have traced him into the country.

    Your Most Obedient Servant.

Captain Grant's party of now 11 Sappers arrived at Esquimalt on 8 November, 1858, whereupon the party traveled to the RE encampment at Derby near Fort Langley.  This encampment had been laid out earlier in the month by Captain Parsons' party of 20 men, chiefly surveyors.

File   Item     Correspondent                                        Date

3      3        Memo of provisions required for two  11 Nov 1858
                  Captains and 31 Men of the Royal
                  Engineersat Fort Langley

Yale, James Murray, 1798-1871
Originals    1845-1871    2 cm
Microfilm (neg.)    1845-1871    35 mm    [A001653]BC Archives

Colonel Moody and his family arrived on Christmas Day, 1858.

"The Grant's and Captain Parsons are all up the Frazer, the Grant's have one room in Fort Langley. Richard is disappointed neither of them were here to receive him, but they did not look for us for a fortnight later!"

--25th December, 1858,
The Letters of Mary S. Moody

The above statement leads to the suggestion that Mrs. Grant and her children traveled with her husband to the Colony.

"Mrs. Grant goes down to Queenborough in about a fortnight, but Captain Grant is building his own house at his own expense, which we do not intend doing, so we have to wait longer."

--25th March, 1859,
The Letters of Mary S. Moody

"Mrs. Grant will be down (to Queenborough) as soon as we shall, she will be the only lady nearer than 1 1/2 miles off at present."

--6th May, 1859,
The Letters of Mary S. Moody

In August of 1859, the Mosquitos began driving people out of the newly built Camp. Mrs. Moody flees to Victoria with her children.

"Mrs. Grant has left Queenborough too, for the Season, she has gone further up the Country to Douglas, where her husband is "on Duty" and where the Mosquitoes are not..."

--5th August, 1859,
The Letters of Mary S. Moody

"Mrs. Newton, is the Wife of the HBC Agent at Langley, and of Course became very intimate with Mrs. Grant when she was up there, and as there are neither Nurse or Doctor there, Mrs. Grant invited her to come and stay at the Camp."

--16th August, 1859,
The Letters of Mary S. Moody

By the end of September, Mrs. Grant appears to be pregnant.

"I have engaged a "Nurse", a canny young Soldier's Wife, I hope she may turn out a 2nd Mrs. Cassidy. Mrs. Grant and Mrs. Spalding both expect to require her services about the time I do so I explained to Mrs. Scales that I must have her and keep her for a month, for here if ladies can get a Nurse for a week they consider that more than long enough!!"

--22nd September, 1859,
The Letters of Mary S. Moody

"Mrs. Grant is still at Douglas, in a tent, I suppose they will all be down in about a fortnight or 3 weeks."

--11th October, 1859,
The Letters of Mary S. Moody

New Westminster Times
1st November 1859

"...First on the list of questionable differences which have become notorious in these colonies, was the case of Colonel Moody, versus his chief officer, Captain Grant.  The Colonel on a certain occasion, denying that Captain Grant had ever reported the brig "RECOVERY", as available for return to her owners, and the Captain as stoutly averring to the contrary, a dispute which lasted many days, and terminated by Captain Grant defying the Commandant and producing a witness to prove the accuracy of his (Captain Grant's) assertion; but the colony was the loser and had to pay for the services of the vessel during the time the Colonel persisted in retaining her.  By this misunderstanding the public certainly did not profit, nor did the animus engendered between the Commissioner of Lands and Works and his chief officer, in any way facilitate the arrangement of public business."

"We and the Grant's are the only people in the Colony who have any Servants, and we both give our Cooks 40 Pounds a year!!!.

Mrs. Grant is still in a Tent 8 miles from Douglas. She is very well and happy I hear."

--7th November, 1859,
from The Letters of Mary Moody

As the first Christmas in the Colony approached, the Camp was filled with preparations.

"We have really been quite gay, in the Camp this Xmas, on the Friday before Xmas everybody dined with us, Mrs. Grant, Mrs. Spalding and the gentlemen.

Mrs. Grant did not wish to go, but I told her that Richard was particularly anxious that we should try and go, we accomplished it, and a very pleasant party we had, tho' I was obliged to come home early on account of my tooth."

--2nd January, 1860
Letters of Mary S. Moody


We have had a gay time during Christmas here.  Out Lt. Gov. Col. Moody, gave a dinner on Friday last, to which a large party were invited.  On Saturday, many private parties were given in camp, and the Men employed in cutting various trails came into the city; these, joined the Men employed on the wharves, formed themselves into a band, each armed with a candle, and gave a serenade at nearly every home.  A Christmas Carol in a noisy way.  All the inhabitants received them well, with scarcely any exception, and were only too glad to see the bones and sinew of the country enjoying themselves, and received the honor that was done them in the best of spirit, paying all largesse required.  Christmas Day being Sunday, was of course devoted to its proper use, without festivities.  On Monday, the Non-commissioned officers gave a Ball at the theatre, that they have erected by private subscription amongst themselves, which went off very well, to which most of the inhabitants received an invitation, and on Tuesday the festivities were ended by the Officers giving a grand dinner at their Mess-room, to which several ladies received invitations, and every thing passed off pleasantly.

--7th January, 1860
The Weekly British Colonist

"Mrs. Grant is hourly expecting to be laid up and as soon as she is about again her Nurse is to be married."

(Later in the same letter)

"Mrs. Grant has a little girl."

--22nd January, 1860
The Letters of Mary S. Moody

After the loss of Robert Burnaby and the rest of Col. Moody's Staff, the other officers decided amongst themselves that they would take turns performing the duties of an Aide-de-camp for their Colonel, whom they felt could not be seen with no assistance at all.


The steamer "Otter", Captain Mouat, arrived on Thursday evening from New Westminster, bringing 400 oz. of gold dust and 9 passengers, including Col. Moody and Captain Grant

--Saturday 11th February, 1860
The Weekly British Colonist

Bishop Hills arrived at the Camp in March of 1860 and began baptising children.

"Baby was christened by him, his first Baptism in his new Diosese, Susan Moody, and Emily Grant both behaved very well.

Captain Grant is away just now, up the River, poor Mrs. Grant is often alone.  I see her twice a day, Nellie (Nellie Grant) is a nice little thing and plays with our Children nicely."

--12th March, 1860
From The Letters of Mary S. Moody

"Mrs. Grant has lost her Nurse.  (She) has only her Cook who helps her with the rooms, we both have to carry out our respective Babies.

The man we now have is engaged to the wonderful girl of 14.  So she is seldom in the Nursery, but finds endless excuses to travel "pantry-wise" but here remonstrances is only the way for her to leave and return home - pleasant is it not?

Mrs. Grant always says "We are the ones that have to behave properly."

Captain Lempriere is under orders for "Home", he has just been promoted, but he is not to be relieved by another officer, so that we all hope this may be the 'beginning of the end'.

Mrs. Grant and I tease Captain Lempriere and tell him we expect him to offer to escort us home.  We have no Servants and only 7 little Children for him to look after!"

--16th April, 1860,
The Letters of Mary S. Moody

"...The Governor chartered a steamboat for the day (Queen's birthday), and invited all the principal people in the place to have an excursion to the Pitt Lake, about 40 miles up the River.  Of course they all wanted Mrs. Grant and me to go, however they did not succeed in inducing us either to take the Children or to leave them, Mrs. Spalding took her baby with her, but she is not so particular as we are."

--4th June, 1860,
The Letters of Mary S. Moody

"...Baby will I hope be vaccinated this week, I wrote to a Doctor we knew at San Francisco, and begged him to send some good vaccine, which arrived the other day and Mrs. Grant's baby was done yesterday, for I told her she must try it as baby had not taken last time."

--4th June, 1860,
From The Letters of Mary S. Moody

"As a birthday "treat" I must try and give you a full line and particular account of the rise, progress and termination of the ball at the Camp.  I told you that we were intending to have a little party.  Dr. Seddall took the entire management and arranged everything.  We now have the whole house to ourselves, so we have plenty of room, the Drawing Room, Library and Dining Room are all down-stairs, the Library is the only one we have furnished and we use it as a Drawing Room. The Dining Room was the Doctor's,  the Drawing Room was Captain Luard's.  The Doctor fixed to have the Dancing in the empty drawing room, and he had it all decorated for the occasion, the large recess of the bow window was fitted as an orchestra, the windows curtained with Scarlet blankets, relieved with golden Chinese banners.  The Ceiling was festooned with evergreens and faded leaves, the walls decorated with bayonets festooned, lamps and garlands, Scarlet, blue and white bunting plaited in hanging loops all 'round the ceiling, a J.B. over the mantle piece.  You have no isead how nice the room looked, how I wish you could have seen it!  The library drawing room was used as a Tea room, the dining room decorated as a supper room, flags and banners etc.  We mustered 10 ladies all dressed in ball costume, Mrs. Grant in pink beige with flowers, Mrs. Bacon pink Moire Antique, Mrs. Homer in white, Mrs. Spalding in blue Moire, Mrs. Pritchard in black net, Mrs. Moody in black net decorated with pink ribbons.  I apprise you I felt quite respectable, once more!

They all came at 8, soon after dancing began which was kept up till 3 A.M!  Richard allowed me to dance all night and I assure you I thouroughly enjoyed myself.

We sat down 26 to supper, and about 8 were left without seats.  I took very little trouble in the party, the Doctor did it all his own way.  He laid the Supper, cut the sandwiches etc.  Mr. Sheepshanks cut the bread and butter for tea, and superintended the final arrangements for supper.  Everybody in the Camp helped.  3 of the Men performed the music, the officer's Servants helped to wait, we borrowed the Mess table, tablecloth, Napkins, Candle-sticks, Cups, Plates, etc. glasses and candlesticks from Mrs. Grant.  Tea tray from one of the women.  You have no idea how well it all went off, everybody enjoyed themselves.  Certainly the Doctor deserves great credit for all his trouble.  We thought you would all have enjoyed to have taken a peep at our new mode of "roughing it in the bush".  I really was not very very tired after so much dancing.  I feared I should be as stiff as an old horse the next day, however, tho' I was obliged to get up at 6 the next morning I did not feel too tired.  I had not danced since I married before.  Captain Parsons and the Doctor wanted to persuade me to allow Zeffie and Dick to sit up, however I would not listed to that and packed them all off to bed before I went to dress."

--15th October, 1860,
from The Letters of Mary S. Moody

Captain Grant's energy at construction was well known and well respected.

HEAVY RAINS - The last few days of heavy rains have caused some slight damage to the new road from the town to the Camp.  We are please, however, to find that Captain Grant has already taken steps to repair it.  Some slight idea may be formed of the quantity of rain that fell when it is known that in one night over two inches was shown by the gauge.

--5th January, 1861
The New Westminster Times

"I went to see Mrs. Spalding and her Baby today, there are 3 babies in the Town this winter, all born within ten days of each other. So three of our babies are useless just now, and Mrs. Grant never leaves her Children even to go to Church, tho' now she has a servant."

--12th February, 1861,
from The Letters of Mary S. Moody

In March of 1861, Lady Franklin - wife of the famous Arctic explorer - came to the camp.

"There is a smooth and well raised path upon the (Fraser) river front of the Camp from Colonel Moody's house (which stands at the end of the buildings), passing the offices, storehouses, theatre, barracks, etc, etc, and running off (past the very pretty little house of Captain and Mrs. Grant) into a trail, or road which the Engineers have made to the Burrard Inlet about 5 miles off (North Road)." 

-- 6 March 1861, Sophia Cracroft


The Grant home, New Westminster, 1862


All ladies here taking it for granted that they must do without servants or at least may have to do so. Mrs. Moody and Mrs. Grant each has her baby to carry, but are often relieved by a stray gentlemen; and the babies are quite used to this. It is quite common to see gentlemen carrying the children, out of natural pity for the mothers!" 

-- 6 March 1861, Sophia Cracroft


The steamer "Col. Moody" arrived here today from Hope on Monday night, bringing the following melancholy intelligence:

The steamer "Fort Yale", while passing Union Bar on her upward trip on Sabbath, the 14th Instant, at 5 o'clock pm, was blown up - the explosion of her boiler. Fortunately the passengers had just all sat down to dinner, thus removing them from the immediate vicinity of the boiler, otherwise the list of casualties would doubtless have been much larger.


Samuel Powers, Blacksmith of Hope. Joel Osborn, fireman. The Cook, name not ascertained

Severely Wounded

James Elliot, boatman of Hope. Thomas King, one leg carried off.

Slightly wounded

Captain Grant, RE. Mr. Stevens, CE. Dr. Oliver of this place. Hon. J. Langley of Victoria


Captain Smith B. Jamieson, master of boat. A number of Chinese and several Indians.

--18th April, 1861
The British Columbian

"Mrs. Grant has not weaned her baby yet!"

--4th June, 1861,
from The Letters of Mary S. Moody

As the Mosquito Season fast approached, the Moody's and the Grant's began preparations to leave the Camp for Victoria.

"Mrs. Grant goes down at the same time, most probably, to a house next door to our's.  We shall have the Cochranes and the Bishop for Neighbours, so we shall feel more "at Home" than we might otherwise.  Colonel Moody and Captain Grant go "On Leave" so that Mrs. Grant and I hope "The Leave" will be pretty long, so that we may not be much alone."

-- 18th June, 1861,
from The Letters of Mary S. Moody

The Moody's and Grant's returned from Leave in the middle of September.

"When we arrived here (New Westminster) it was raining quite fast, and as we have about 1 1/2 miles to Come from the Town in open boats "against the stream" it was not a very cheering prospect. The only alternative being a wet dark walk with 5 Children. However our dear little Doctor (who had come down to Victoria to escort Mrs. Grant and myself home) assured us we should manage very well. When we arrived we arrived we found Captain Luard waiting for us with the Men and boats, so we managed famously. The Men carried the Children to and from the boat and we were only "dampish" when we reached the house. Mrs. Rogerson, one of our Women, was waiting for us. She and I soon made up the beds and popped the Children into them before they had time to get chilled, we then gave them their supper and they were soon fast asleep. The Doctor sent me a good tea from "The Mess" and we were none the worse for our uncomfortable voyage."

--12th September, 1861
from The Letters of Mary S. Moody

Mrs. Moody, pregnant one more, turns to Mrs. Grant for advice.

"I must also see about my baby clothes so, for I must not depend upon the box arriving. All the same I don't see much good in having everything ready 2 months before the time, but Mrs. Grant shakes her head and says "You much better have them ready."

--12th September, 1861,
from The Letters of Mary S. Moody

"I miss Mrs. Grant very much here, she lives at the other side of the camp so we only meet once or twice a day instead of every hour as at Victoria."

--12th September, 1861,
from The Letters of Mary S. Moody

The box arrived last week...Tell dear Papa that the Bakledries gave us the greatest pleasure not only to the boys but to the Big Babies also.  He would have been much amused if he had seen Richard and Captain Parsons having a game, and then Mrs. Grant and me! while the gentlemen "held the Babies".  Mrs. Grant (who is a dreadful fidget about her Children) would not confide little Emily to Captain Parsons, so Richard had to hold her while Captain Parsons kept Petsie for me.

Gentlemen become experienced Nurses here, for they are obliged to help in holding the Babies.  If you are out walking and meet a gentleman he frequently says "Can't I relieve you of the Baby for a short time?" or if you are very tired and he does not volunteer such aid, it is quite customary to say" Do carry baby for me please."

--4th November, 1861,
From the letters of Mary S. Moody

Among Grant's many talent's was Architecture. He was the architect of Christ's Church, Hope, and the little project, below,  as well.  

New Westminster, 19 ? 1862

Wood Shed with Latrines in Corner

To be 16 feet in length and 8 feet in width with double Latrines at one end.  Roof to be a half pitch and alls boarded and battened at rear and ends and supported on posts in front facing Office.

Latrines to be studded and lined and floored with 1" tongued and grooved Flooring boards and ventilator as shewn in plan.  And seats fitted with covers.  Shingles to be laid 4 1/2" to the weather and finished with a "V".

JMGrant, Captain RE

Note at bottom of letter:

We will complete the above for the sum of 20 Pounds.

White and Manson

 "You will laugh too when you hear that I have managed to get a "well" and a real English Pump out of Captain Grant since Richard has been away. I have been promised one all Winter but the men have always been too busy, however I talked Captain Grant over into the absolute necessity of having one before Summer, so he promised to have it done ."

-- 3rd April, 1862,
From the Letters of Mary S. Moody

"I hope we may not have to move from here this Summer, the expense and trouble are so great in going down to Victoria. Mrs. Grant must I think remain here, as she is to be confined again in August. This prevented her going to the Ball, as she could not dance, and as she would not go I was obliged to go."

-- 3rd April, 1862,
From the Letters of Mary S. Moody

Captain Grant continues work on the roads.

15th June, 1862 - Sunday.  Had a visit from Capt. Grant RE and Mr. O'Reilly, Capt. Grant to look at the Pavillion Mountain and Mr. O'Reilly for the Cariboo district with all day and part of night.

16th June, 1862 - Capt. returned today on his way to new Westminster, the day was fine, a train of beasts passed into town from the Fork of Quesnelle, driver says flour is selling at 50 dollars.

--From the  Journal of
Serjeant John McMurphy, RE


"Mrs. Grant has a little Daughter, 3 girls, eldest age of Walter."

--11th August, 1862
From the Letters of Mary S. Moody

"He (Archdeacon Wright) is going to bring his family up here in a week consisting of a delicate wife, a daughter 15, a Son 8, (precocious boy) 2 little girls and a baby boy, an important addition to our small community.  I like him, he is so amusing, but I am not prepossessed in favour of the rest of the family I am sorry to say, and they are coming quite into neighbours now, however we have the Grants between us, and I hope Mrs. Grant will make herself so agreeable that she will entertain them all sufficiently." 

--11th August, 1862,
from The Letters of Mary S. Moody

In September of 1862, "The Tynemouth" arived carrying women as domestics and as "brides" for the Colony. A few were sent off to the Camp as Servants.

"Mrs. Grant's Nurse is a dirty looking girl..."

--23rd September, 1862,
from The Letters of Mary S. Moody

"We have had a very quiet Christmas time. The Children spent one day at the Grant's , on New year's day we had the Officers, Grants and Mr. Sheepshanks to lunch - 16 in all."

--7th January, 1863,
from The Letters of Mary S. Moody

"Captain Grant has gone to Cariboo to report on roads, trails, etc."

--12th May, 1863,
from The Letters of Mary S. Moody

"...Of Captain Grant, the officer next in seniority, I can speak with much confidence.  He has generally been detached in charge of the road parties and numerous occasions I have personally witnessed his exertions and have observed with much pleasure, the ability, zeal, and hearty cooperation he has always brought to bear upon whatever he was engaged in.  This past summer he was specially employed in superintending the work of improving the trail in Cariboo, and the energy, skill, and untiring assiduity with which he discharged the trust won the admiration of all who visited the district and afforded me infinite comfort and satisfaction."

--His Excellency Governor Douglas
13 Nov 1863.

Lieutenant-Colonel -   7 Jan 1865
Colonel - 23 May 1873


Army Colonel -   7 Jan 1870
Half-pay - 31 Dec 1881
Retired - 22 Apr 1882

Captain Grant retained land holdings in British Columbia until his death. The following is a letter to his friend Arthur Crease in New Westminster.

180 Oakley Street
London, SW

15th April 1898

Dear Crease,

On our return from Brighton, where we had been for a refresher, I was most agreeably surprised by receiving from the Government, through your kind agency, the Year Book of British Columbia!

Many thanks to you and the Members of the Government for so kindly thinking of an old Pioneer who, quite often thinks with pleasure on the happy times spent in the early days of the Colony and the friends we left behind there!  It is very pleasant indeed to me, when looking over the Year Book to be recalled by the Photographs of men and places I knew so well, but dear me!  What changes have been made! and what greater changes must be coming  to the rapid development of a grand country.

I see on page 49 you say we had 400 Royal Engineers!  The total strength  of the Detachment - was 172 - then 2 Strong Companies of Royal Marines came from Japan.  They worked on the Douglas Road for a very short time and then went to garrison San Juan Island  jointly with the Americans - I would not have mentioned this, had it not been that, I always thought, even with the 172, more useful work ought to have been done than we accomplished.

The New Westminster site was the Chief Commissioners own selection, personally I never liked it, principally on the ground that the site should be either as high up the river as navigation permitted, or failing that, there as near the River mouth as possible!

At Mary Hill he intended to establish the Military Camp; with the result to my mind of fatally impairing the prospects of his town, had his ideas been carried out!

I never objected to the Langley site, but on the first day I reached Fraser River and found a Township was laid out and advertised for sale, I wrote to Governor Douglas begging him to stay proceedings until the arrival of the Commissioner and that in the mean time I would employ the 20 Surveyors I had with me in reporting on the various suitable sites in the neighbourhood for his consideration.  The offer was declined, Langley was sold and unfortunately condemned by the Chief Commissioner and hence of many blunders so commenced.

With a view of keeping up my interest in BC I still hold Suburban Lot 14 Group 2 on the River opposite the lower end of New Westminster, containing 74 acres of good bottom land.

The taxes on it are heavy, so I hope the Klondike Excitement, and the numerous new discoveries of Minerals in BC will tend to increase the population and improve the land prospects.  I thought in time it might become a building site, being pretty well on the divide line between New Westminster and the Towns on Puget Sound.

Should you hear anything about it and could advise me in any way I should be awfully obliged, but I am not in the least hurry yet awhile to part with it.

We are living in London principally on account of my  Artist daughter, a British Columbian we are proud to say.  My wife I am glad to say is flourishing again, she had a sharp attack at the beginning of the year, hence our visit to Brighton.

Nellie whom you may still remember is still with us and two sons invalided from India, thank God they are nearly all right again, but they must soon go back.  Both of them were with the Indian Contingent at Suakin.

The Elder being a Lt.-Col. RE, the other a Captain of Goorkha Rifles.  From Suakin the latter went to the Tochi Valley brushwar on the Staff and then on to the Tirah with his Regiment the 4th Goorkhas.  The youngest son is an RE quartered at Pekin and should be a captain by the end of the year.  So you can imagine our interest covers a pretty wide district.

Hoping this will find you all flourishing and with Kindest rememberences to old Friends and Special thanks to you and the Members of the Government for the Year Book. 

I remain,
Sincerly yours

J.M. Grant

P.S.  I see R. Wolfenden is the Queen's Printer, if he is the same who served with me, Remember me to him most Kindly and tell him I very often think of most of those fine fellows who always did their very best for me in the Early days of BC.


Died at Bournemouth, 1 Apr. 1902