First Families: The Dinsmore Family

John and Mary Dinsmore sitting on a bench, pioneer

(Carrie E. Stevenson Collection)

Dinsmore, John (1847-1924)

Dinsmore (née Rayson), Mary Ann Elizabeth

John Dinsmore, farmer and cannery owner

John Dinsmore was born in Blanshard, Ontario on February 13, 1847. On July 12, 1882, he married Mary Ann Elizabeth Rayson in Wellington, Ontario. Mary was born in Brampton, Ontario on August 10, 1859. The couple left Ontario and arrived in British Columbia in 1885 with their two children, Alban and Mary. They came before the railway and settled on Brough Island, a small island adjacent to Sea Island, in the mouth of the Fraser River.

In the 1870s, John Brough owned Brough Island, where he built a small house and farmed. Hugh Boyd bought the 210-acre property, then resold the land to John Errington who dyked and drained the land in the 1880s.

John and Mary Dinsmore built a home on Brough Island and enclosed their garden with a dyke and marketed their vegetables and dairy products by rowing to New Westminster which was a distance of about 23 kilometers (14 miles).

In 1894, the Goodmurphy Cannery opened, and the following year it was incorporated as the Dinsmore Island Cannery Co. by John Dinsmore, M.B. Wilkinson, W.D. and Caleb Goodmurphy. The island was then renamed Dinsmore Island.

John died on October 9, 1924 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Mary Ann died on November 4, 1935. Both are buried at the Mountainview Cemetery (Vancouver) with their young daughter, Violet.

John and Elizabeth had five children: Alban Ernest Dinsmore (1883-1970), Mary Florence Maude “Maudie” McCubbin née Dinsmore (1884-1964), Violet Jane Dinsmore (1895-1905), Garnet Irvine Dinsmore (1897-1957), and Pearl Roby née Dinsmore (1906-1973).

To view the Dinsmore family tree on Ancestry or obtain further information, contact Barb Nielsen at

Tell Us About It

If you have something you would like to provide to the society, please let us know.
We would love to hear from you.