WILKINSON, JOHN, surveyor, draughtsman, and engineer; b. 2 April 1804 at Cowgill, Yorkshire, Eng.; d. 10 April 1871 at Fredericton, N.B.
John Wilkinson received his education in England where he graduated from the Institution of Engineers in London. He emigrated to New Brunswick in 1830 as manager of the Owen family property on Campobello Island. At St Andrews, N.B., on 6 June 1837, he married Mary Rebecca Curry; they had one daughter.
In 1836 Wilkinson joined Thomas Baillie*, chief commissioner of crown lands and the surveyor general, in his department at Fredericton as a surveyor and draughtsman. He served from 1840 to 1843 on the staff of the British commissioners for fixing the boundary between New Brunswick and Maine. He carried out an exploratory survey for the proposed European and North American Railway in 1847. The following year he surveyed a line for the railway between the city of Saint John and Shediac harbour, and in 1850 one for the proposed railway between Saint John and Calais, Maine. He also prepared reports for the government on surveys for railways, county boundary lines, and telegraph lines. From 1856 to 1858 he worked on an official map of the province of New Brunswick, which was published in 1859. This was the first general map of the province to include the results of admiralty surveys, boundary surveys, and the accumulated land surveys in the crown land office. He became involved in a dispute with the government over the copyright of this map and other matters, and in 1864 published a pamphlet in which he set out his side of the dispute. The government, of course, won. He later joined the provincial Board of Works as an engineer and was employed examining sites for bridges and lighthouses.
Wilkinson was an extremely careful and accurate surveyor, and his plans in the crown land office are by far the best in their extensive collection. His map of New Brunswick, according to W. F. Ganong*, was “scientifically constructed, minutely correct,” and “beautifully engraved,” and “must ever remain a classic of New Brunswick Cartography.”
N.B. Museum, Ganong ms coll., “The province of New Brunswick,” chap. 1, sect.3, 6 (unpublished ms by W. F. Ganong); Ganong ms coll., box 37; New Brunswick Historical Society papers, W. H. Steeves correspondence, items 7, 46. New Brunswick, House of Assembly, Journals, 1847, 1849, 1850, 1852, 1854, 1859. W. G. MacFarlane, New Brunswick bibliography: the books and writers of the province (Saint John, N.B., 1895), 84. MacNutt, New Brunswick, 325–26. A. W. Bailey, “Railways in New Brunswick, 1827–1867,” unpublished ma thesis, University of New Brunswick, 1955. W. F. Ganong, “A monograph of the cartography of the province of New Brunswick,” RSCT, 2nd ser., III (1897), sect.ii, 403–4.