The Vesting Act of 1821, passed by the British government, was applied in Bytown and gave the Ordnance Department legal title to all military property. Because the military realized that it could not be applied outside of Great Britain, the Rideau Canal Act was passed in February 1827 in an attempt to retain the property titles for the lands surrounding the canal. The Rideau Canal Act allowed Lt. Col. By to take land deemed necessary for the construction of the canal and control the sale or leasing of government-owned property. Private landowners who objected to the act could do nothing to stop the expropriation of their property, and several citizens filed lawsuits on the basis that it was unfair and illegal. Perhaps the best-documented property disputes are those of Irish immigrant and entrepreneur Nicholas Sparks and farmer Peter Cornish. In both cases, By claimed that he reserved the right to repossess parts of the land which were needed for the construction of the canal – a decision that ultimately cost some early landowners their investments and even their livelihoods.