Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: John Balsillie (1839-1906)

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John Balsillie
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Fur trader, accountant.

Born in Scotland on 7 July 1839, son of David Balsillie, he came out to York Factory in 1855, in the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Appointed Chief Trader at Fort Garry in 1872, he left to take a position as an accountant in the HBC Land Department, serving from 1872 to 1884. Afterwards, he worked as an accountant. In 1873, he was one of the founders of the Winnipeg Board of Trade.

He was married twice, first in 1861 to Ann Flett with whom he had a son, James Balsillie. His second marriage was to Adelaide Rowand (1852-1889), daughter of fur trader John Rowand. They had nine children: Agnes M. Balsillie (b 1869), Maria L. Mctavish Balsillie (b 1873), Mabel Elizabeth Balsillie (b 1875), James Allen Rowand Balsillie (b 1876), Eveline L. Balsillie (b 1879), Florance Emily Balsillie (b 1880), Hugh Sedley Blanchard Balsillie (b 1882, godson of lawyer Sedley Blanchard), Beatrice Annette Balsillie (b 1885), and John G. “Jack” Balsillie (b 1888). He was a member of the Masonic fraternity. He was a brother-in-law of John H. McTavish.

He died at Winnipeg on 19 December 1906 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery.


1881 Canada census, Ancestry.

1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

Death registration [Adelaide Balseller], Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Birth, marriage and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Old Winnipeg man dies from paralysis,” newspaper clipping dated 27 December 1906, Legislative Library of Manitoba.

Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.

John Balsillie,” Hudson’s Bay Company Biographical Sheets, Hudson’s Bay Company Archives.

John Rowand Jr.,” Hudson’s Bay Company Biographical Sheets, Hudson’s Bay Company Archives.

We thank Monica Ball and Beth Balsillie for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 18 May 2016

Memorable Manitobans

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