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Memorable Manitobans: Donald Codd (c1845-1896)


He was the eighth son of Reverend Charles Edward Codd, rector of the Parish of Letheringsett and Bly next the sea, Norfolk, England, and younger brother of Surgeon Lieutenant-Colonel Codd, Royal Canadian Dragoons. Codd came to Canada with his parents at an early age, to the Northwest in the year 1868. He studied surveying under John Snow and worked for Snow in 1869-1870, opening up the Dawson Route between Lake Superior and the Red River settlement.

He became John Dennis’s chief clerk at the Dominion Lands Office in 1871, and from 1873 to 1881 served as Dominion Lands commissioner in Winnipeg, where he was heavily criticized for his handling of Métis land claims. In 1879, Codd was a co-founder of the Manitoba Historical Society.

After 1882 he worked for the Great Northwest Railway. As an amateur inventor, Codd constructed numerous mechanical instruments, including a motor plow, a postage stamping machine, a mercurial barometer, a prairie fire-extinguisher, and a railway electric locomotive, but insufficient funds prevented him from completing or patenting any of his inventions. He wrote “Some Reminiscences of Fort Garry in 1869-70,” published in Great West Magazine 13 (1899): 294-99.

He had a quiet, reserved disposition, was a keen reader, especially on scientific and kind religious subjects, and was a devoted Christian. His died, at the age of 51 years, on 9 December 1896, leaving a widow and three children.

See also:

Donald Codd, Dictionary of Canadian Biography XII, 203-4.


Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 23 April 2016

Memorable Manitobans

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