GENTLEMEN OF THE NORTHWEST

From: "A History of the Scotch Presbyterian Church, St. Gabriel Street, Montreal"
By Rev. Robert Campbell, Montreal 1887


"Soon after the entire valley of the St. Lawrence came under British sway, by the capitulation of Montreal, the merchants of this city, among whom were many Scotchmen, as we shall see, resolved to unite in organizing a company for prosecuting the fur trade. An association with this end in view was formed in 1784, and took the name of "The North-west Company of Montreal".

Among others who engaged in the fur trade of the North-West Company were retired officers and privates of the Scottish Regiments that had been concerned in the taking of Quebec and Montreal. 

Some of them were highland gentlemen of high degrees. It is not easy to realize it, but nevertheless a fact that few of those who were present at the organization of the first Presbyterian Congregation, in a room on Notre Dame street, on the 12th of March, 1786, had, as youths, been actually engaged in the fight at Culloden, in 1746; and several of them were the children or descendants of those brave men who stood by the side of Prince Charlie on that fated field."

"When the North-West Company was organized, several of the retired officers of the 42nd and 78th Regiments joined it. This service suited the adventurous spirit of the Gael, not less than the army or navy; and not a few of those to whom no military career at home offered, resolved to try their fortunes in this new sphere of activity which opened up to them. These were the men, for the most part, whose spiritual interests were sought to be promoted by the organization of a Presbyterian Church in 
Montreal."

"All these were gentlemen of means in 1792. Now-a-days [1887]  they would not be counted wealthy. Half a million is to-day of less account in Montreal, probably, than one-tenth of that sum a century ago. For the most part, they had made their money in the fur trade, or at least added that branch of business to their ordinary transactions.

But the fifteen succeeding subscribers were the "Gentlemen of the Northwest", by way of eminence, at this time. They were the men who, as employees of the North-west Company, were pushing the fur trade far across the continent, even to the Rocky Mountains and the shores of the Arctic Sea. A braver or more enterprising group of men there probably was not then alive, and their names deserve to be recalled with admiration and gratitude."


From: "Documents Relating to the North West Company"
By: W. Stewart Wallace, Toronto: Champlain Society, 1934

No braver or more picturesque band of adventurers ever put it to the touch, to gain or lose it all. Some of them were French-Canadian traders and voyageurs, the sons of those who had followed La Vérendrye to the rivers and prairies of the west in the dying days of the French régime. Others were American frontiersmen who had served their apprenticeship in the valleys of the Ohio and the Mississippi. 

Most of them were Scottish Highlanders, the sons of those who had come to Canada in Wolfe's army or as United Empire Loyalists in the American Revolution. . . . The numerous Frasers, McTavishes and McGillivrays, who played such an important part in the history of the North West Company, nearly all came from Lord Lovat's estates. The names of the North West Company partners sound like a roll call of the clans at Culloden. 

These men were hardy, courageous, shrewd and proud. They spent a good part of their lives travelling incredible distances in birch-bark canoes, shooting rapids, or navigating inland seas. They were wrecked and drowned. They suffered hunger and starvation. They were robbed and murdered by the Indians, and sometimes by one another. They fell the victims of smallpox, syphilis, and rum. Yet they conquered half a continent, and they built up a commercial empire, the like of which North America at least has never seen. . . .


When thinking of fur traders and explorers we tend to associate them as Western Canadians, but many may not realize how many of these traders made Montreal their home at one time or another. Those associated with Montreal are:
 

NAME CAREER MONTREAL RELATED TO :
Angus BETHUNE
(1783-    )
Member of Northwest Co Born in Montreal
member of the Beaver Club
 
John CLARKE
(1781-1852)
  Clarke Ave. (Westmount) 
named after him
Patricia Jo Kern
Simon CLARKE   Clarke Ave. (Westmount) 
named after him
Patricia Jo Kern
William CONNOLLY     Peter Woolrich
Charles Johnson Watts DEASE     Maureen Clarke
Francis DEASE     Maureen Clarke
John Warren DEASE   member of the Beaver Club Maureen Clarke
Michael DEASE     Maureen Clarke
Peter Warren DEASE   buried in Montreal Maureen Clarke
John DYDE   married in Montreal
died in Montreal
 
Hugh FARIES
(1779-1852)
one of the first members of the N.W.Co to cross the Rockies born in Montreal
married in Montreal
member of the Beaver Club
 
James FINLAY Sr.
(    -1797)
One of the first of the "Old Subjects" to reach the valley of the 
Saskatchewan
member of St.Gabriel St.Church
Died in Montreal
member of the Beaver Club
Sue Wilson
James FINLAY Jr.
(1766-1830)
Partner in Northwest Co Born in Montreal Sue Wilson
John FINLAY
(1774-1833)
Partner in Northwest Co Born in Montreal
member of the Beaver Club
Depty Asst.commissary-general at Montreal
Sue Wilson
Duncan FINLAYSON
(c1796-1862)
Finlayson lake and river, 
(Yukon) named after him
Agent for H.B.C.in Lachine  
Grant FOREST
(c1794-    )
clerk at Hudson Bay Co born in Montreal  
Alexander FRASER   member of St.Gabriel St.Church
member of the Beaver Club
 
Simon FRASER Fraser River named after him member of St.Gabriel St.Church
member of the Beaver Club
 
Benjamin FROBISHER
(c1742-1787)
  died in Montreal
member of the Beaver Club
Denny Lowe
Benjamin Joseph
FROBISHER
(1792-1819 ??!)
Partner in Northwest Co born in Montreal Denny Lowe
Joseph FROBISHER
(1740-1810)
the first to penetrate the
great North-west as far
as the Churchill River
member of St.Gabriel St.Church
died in Montreal
member of the Beaver Club
Denny Lowe
Thomas FROBISHER
(1744-1788)
  died in Montreal
member of the Beaver Club
Denny Lowe
George GILLESPIE
(1772-1842)
  member of St.Gabriel St.Church
partner in Gillespie, Moffatt & Co
member of the Beaver Club
Bruce Gillespie
Cuthbert GRANT Sr.
(    -1799)
pentrated as far as the Slave River in 1786  member of St.Gabriel St.Church  
Cuthbert GRANT Jr.
(1793-    )
  baptized in Montreal
educated in Montreal
member of the Beaver Club
 
David GRANT   member of St.Gabriel St.Church  
Peter GRANT   member of St.Gabriel St.Church
member of the Beaver Club
 
Robert GRANT   member of St.Gabriel St.Church  
John GREGORY
(c1757-1817)
  member of St.Gabriel St.Church
member of the Beaver Club
 
Alexander HENRY
(The Elder)
(1739-1834)
One of the pioneers of the British-Canadian fur trade in the North West. member of St.Gabriel St.Church
Died in Montreal
Auctioneer at Montreal
member of the Beaver Club
Roxanne Woodruff
Alexander HENRY
(The Younger)
(    -1814)
    Roxanne Woodruff
Alexander HENRY (Jr.)
(c1785-1812)
Clerk in Northwest Co.
Murdered at Fort Nelson
Born in Montreal Roxanne Woodruff
Robert HENRY
(c1778-1859)
Partner in Northwest Co member of the Beaver Club Roxanne Woodruff
William HENRY
(c1773-c1846)
clerk in N.W.C & H.B.C married in Montreal
member of the Beaver Club
Roxanne Woodruff
James KEITH
(1784-1851)
Partner in Northwest Co In charge of the Montreal dept. for H.B.C.in Lachine
member of the Beaver Club
 
James LEITH
(1777-1838)
  member of the Beaver Club  
George McBEATH   member of St.Gabriel St.Church
member of the Beaver Club
 
Alexander McDOUGALL
(    -c1825)
Partner in Northwest Co died in Montreal
member of the Beaver Club
Viola Seward
Duncan McDOUGALL
(    -1818)
Partner in Northwest Co
Partner in Pacific Fur Co
  Viola Seward
Joseph McGILLIVRAY
(c1790-1832)
Partner in Northwest Co died in Montreal Wayne A Jones
Simon McGILLIVRAY   Baptized at Christ Church
member of the Beaver Club
Wayne A Jones
William McGILLIVRAY
(1764-1825)
Fort William (Thunder Bay) named after him member of St.Gabriel St.Church
member of the Beaver Club
Wayne A Jones
Alexander McKENZIE   member of St.Gabriel St.Church
member of the Beaver Club
 
Roderick McKENZIE   member of St.Gabriel St.Church
member of the Beaver Club
 
Simon McTAVISH   member of the Beaver Club  
Nicholas MONTOUR   member of St.Gabriel St.Church
member of the Beaver Club
 
William MURRAY   member of St.Gabriel St.Church  
Peter PANGMAN
(    -1819)
  member of Christ Church and of St. Gabriel Street Church  
Angus SHAW
(    -1832)
Partner in Northwest Co
Major of the "Voyagers"
member of Christ Church and of St. Gabriel Street Church
member of the Beaver Club
Wayne Jones
Viola Seward
George SIMPSON   member of Christ Church
buried in Mount Royal cemetery
member of the Beaver Club
 
Robert THOMPSON   member of St.Gabriel St.Church  
William THORBURN   member of St.Gabriel St.Church  
Francis WINTER   member of St.Gabriel St.Church  
Return to the St. Gabriel's Church building subscriber's list

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