A remarkable man with fiery red hair and a
gargantuan appetite for whisky and tall tales, William Dunlop
was born in 1792 in Greenock, Scotland, the son of a local
banker. He studied medicine in Glasgow and London, and was
appointed assistant surgeon to the 89th Foot Regiment in 1813.
The regiment was posted to Upper Canada during the War of 1812
in time to participate in the battles of Crysler's Farm and
In 1815, he heard that the war had ended while he was in charge
of the construction of the Penetanguishene Road. After going on
half-pay in 1817, he went to India, attempting to clear tigers
from Sagar Island and earning himself the nickname "Tiger". From
1820 to 1825, Dunlop flitted from project to project, writing
articles for magazines, giving lectures on medical
jurisprudence, and editing newspapers.
In 1825, John Galt
of the Canada Company appointed Dunlop
Warden of the Woods and Forests, his job being to inspect the
company lands to protect them for being spoiled and to select
land that could be sold quickly for funds. He arrived in Upper
Canada in 1826 and from then acted as second-in-command to Galt.
He was present at the founding of Guelph, cut a road to Goderich,
and built his home just north of Goderich. When Galt resigned in
1829, Dunlop managed to keep his job. In 1833, he was appointed
general superintendent of the Huron Tract. In the same year, he
published Statistical Sketches of Upper Canada, an interesting
and amusing book that attempted to lure clever young people to
1833, he was joined in Canada by his brother Robert, a retired
naval captain and much quieter personality. During the rebellion
in 1837, Dunlop raised a military unit nicknamed The Bloody
Useless. He commandeered supplies and food from Canada Company
stores, leading Galt's successor, Thomas Jones, to demand his
withdrawal from militia activities. Dunlop refused and resigned
from the company in 1838.
is a story about the Dunlop brothers that involves Robert's
marriage. They had a live-in housekeeper, Louisa McColl, for
some years and apparently this had been the subject of gossip
that was causing a great deal of distress to her. To end the
speculation and to keep Louisa, the brothers proposed that one
should marry her. Tiger tossed a coin and Robert lost, mainly
because the coin had two heads. So Robert had to propose to her.
She accepted and that was that. There is no evidence that she
was anything but a housekeeper before or after her marriage, but
she was well known to run a strict house. She continued to rule
the house after Robert's death.
Robert became Huron's first representative in Parliament in 1835
and held the seat until his death in 1841. William ran in his
brother's place in the General Election that year and lost in
the vote but won on appeal. He was re-elected in 1844 but
resigned in 1846. He died two years later.
Dunlop had a fund of stories to tell and there are a fund of
stories about him. He once gave three reasons for not going to
church: first, a man was sure to find his wife there; second, he
could not bear to be at a meeting where one man dominated the
conversation; and, third, he never liked singing without
drinking. He loved his liquor, which he kept in a cabinet on
wheels called The Twelve Apostles. One bottle contained water
and was called Judas.