John Canner was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England in 1872 and his birth was registered in the second quarter of that year. He was the son of William Henry Canner (1840-?) and Mary Ann Barnes (1840-1914). His father hailed from Chichester, Sussex and his mother from Portsmouth and they had married in 1864. He had two known siblings: Alice (b. 1865) and William Edward (b. 1870).
On the 1881 census John and his family are residing at 86 Charles Street, Portsea, Hampshire; his father was described as a general labourer and his mother as a dress maker (?). John had apparently commenced his career by the time of the 1891 census as he is absent from home and was perhaps in service in the Royal Navy. The 1901 census sees John described as a seaman in the Royal Navy whilst he and his parents are resident at 3 William Terrace, Portsmouth. John is again absent from the 1911 census but his mother is described as a lodger and old age pensioner at 1 Moorland Road, Kingston, Portsmouth. His father had died around 1908.
When John signed on to the Titanic, on 6 April 1912, he gave his address as 17 Shamrock Road, Southampton and his previous ship as the Medina. As a fireman he could expect to earn monthly wages of £6.
John, who was unmarried, died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.
His mother passed away only two years later.