William McGillivray

William McGillivray

William McGillivray (1764 – October 16 1825) was a Scotland-born fur trader and political figure in Lower Canada.

He was born in Dunlichity, Scotland in 1764. In 1784, he travelled to Montreal with his uncle Simon McTavish and began work with the North West Company. He was assigned as a clerk to the Rainy River department in 1785 and then travelled west to what is now Saskatchewan to set up a trading post. In 1790, he became a partner in the company, buying the share of Peter Pond, who had retired two years earlier. Sometime around 1790, he married a Métis woman named Susan. He was put in charge of the English River (Churchill River) department and then, in 1791, the Athabasca department. In 1793, he became a partner in McTavish, Frobisher and Company which controlled the North West Company at the time. He became a member of the Beaver Club at Montreal in 1795. In 1800, he married Magdalen McDonald in London. After McTavish died in 1804, McGillivray became head of the North West Company. He was named a justice of the peace for the Indian territories in the same year. He arranged the union with the competing XY Company. In 1806, he set up a new company McTavish, McGillivrays and Company to replace McTavish, Frobisher and Company in North America; the new company included his brother Duncan and his brother-in-law Angus Shaw.

In 1808, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada for Montreal West. McGillivray served as a lieutenant-colonel in the Corps of Canadian Voyageurs during the War of 1812. In 1814, he became a member of the Legislative Council. He was arrested by Lord Selkirk in 1816 following the massacre at Seven Oaks but was released at Montreal. In 1821, the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company merged, ending a long and bitter rivalry between the two companies.

He died in London in 1825, during a visit to England.

In 1808 David Thompson gave what is now called the Kootenay River the name McGillivray's River, in honour of William and Duncan McGillivray. [cite book |last= Nisbet |first= Jack |title= Sources of the River: Tracking David Thompson Across Western North America |year= 1994 |publisher= Sasquatch Books |isbn= 1-57061-522-5 |pages= pp. 130-131]


External links

* [http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=3014 Biography at the "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online"]
* [http://www.assnat.qc.ca/FRA/membres/notices/m-n/MCGIW.htm Biography from Assemblée nationale du Québec (french)]

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