Dr. William “Tiger” Dunlop Tomb 81501 River Ridge Crescent (off Airport Rd.), near Goderich
The small park and stone-walled tomb enclosure are the last
remnant of Gairbraid, the 845-acre estate acquired from the
Canada Company in 1833 by Dr. William "Tiger" Dunlop and his
brother Captain Robert Dunlop, Royal Navy.
Dr. William Dunlop was born in 1792 in Greenock, Renfrewshire,
Scotland. His first acquaintance with Canada was as an army
surgeon arriving at Lachine, Quebec in 1813. A later sojourn in
India involved some adventures with tigers, and produced his
His enduring fame here comes from his appointment in 1826 as
Warden of the Forests for the Canada Company, in association with
John Galt. Together they founded Guelph in April 1827 and
Goderich in June. Dunlop oversaw the exploration of the Tract,
the opening of the first roads, and the arrival of the earliest
In 1833 Dunlop was appointed General Superintendent of the
Huron Tract. He resigned from the Canada Company's employ in
Dunlop's active career ended with his appointment as
superintendent of renovation work on the Lachine Canal. He died
there on June 29th, 1848. His last adventure was the trip his
coffin made home from Montreal to Goderich, ending with burial
here, beside his brother Robert, who died in 1841.
Sketch of the Village of Gairbraid; 30th December 1834 by David Smith
The tomb enclosure also contains the graves of Robert Dunlop's
wife Louisa McColl and several of her relatives.
There was a town plan drawn up for a village to be named
Gairbraid, using a central octagon with radiating streets in a
design similar to Goderich, but this dream was never realized.
Dunlop belongs to the earliest heroic era of discovery and
settlement in the Huron Tract. The exuberant Tiger frustrates
attempts at brief summary. He was a large man with a larger
personality. Many anecdotes survive and preserve his legend. Some
sense of his varied abilities and accomplishments can be gained
from the credits in the inscription on one of his portraits:
William Dunlop, Esq., M.R.C.S.
Assistant Surgeon 89th Regiment
Lower Canada, Niagara
Frontier, 1813-14; India, 1815-20
Lecturer in Medical
Jurisprudence, Univ. of Edinburgh
Warden of the Forests,
Lieut.-Colonel 1st Huron Regiment, 1837
of the Peace, London District, 1838
M.P.P. For Huron,
Parliament of Canada, 1841-45
A reading list of works that give an understanding of the man
and the times includes:
In the Days of the Canada Company, Robina and Kathleen
Lizars, 1896 [Coles Canadiana reprint, 1972].
Tiger of Canada West, W.H. Graham, 1962.
Canada Company, Thelma Coleman, 1978.
Dunlop's own writing:
William "Tiger" Dunlop,
Blackwoodian Backwoodsman: Essays by and about Dunlop, Carl
F. Klinck, 1958; contains material from the various phases and
locations in his life.
His main Canadian works were:
Recollections of the
American War 1812-1814; published in the LITERARY GARLAND
magazine in Montreal in 1847; as a book in 1905.
Sketches of Upper Canada for the Use of Emigrants, by a
Backwoodsman; published in London, England in 1832.
These were brought together in a single volume Tiger Dunlop's
Upper Canada, New Canadian Library edition, 1967.
To see displays and artifacts relating to Dunlop, the Canada
Company and the development of local governance in Huron, visit
the Lattimer Gallery in the Huron County Museum.