Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: William Clark (1840-1919)

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William Clark
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Fur trader.

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William Clark
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Born in Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland on 27 November 1840, son of William and Eliza Mowat Aim Clark. He was educated at Sandwick, Orkney. Like so many Orkneymen, he entered the service of the Hudson's Bay Company. After working as a shipping clerk in Edinburgh, he came to Fort Garry in 1861, traveling to York Factory by ship and thence to the Red River by York boat. He was in charge of various Company posts including the one at Grand Forks, the last to be operated on American soil.

He was in charge of the Company’s cart train for several years, leading over three hundred Red River carts from Winnipeg to St. Paul and back again. While a clerk in charge of a post at Oak Point, he brought one of the Wolseley Expedition boats overland, fitted it with a false keel, two lugsails and a jib, and became the first sailor on Lake Manitoba to tack against the wind, much to the astonishment of local natives. Clark was promoted through the ranks to become Chief Factor in 1892, a position that he held while serving as President of the Manitoba Historical Society from 1897 to 1899.

On 1 November 1882, he married to Julia Murray. They had no children. He retired in 1908, and died at his Winnipeg home, 261 Colony Street on 9 January 1919 at the age of 78 years.


Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Who’s Who in Western Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Men and Women of Western Canada, Volume 1, edited by C. W. Parker, Vancouver: Canadian Press Association, 1911.

A History of Manitoba: Its Resources and People by Prof. George Bryce, Toronto: The Canadian History Company, 1906.

The Story of Manitoba by F. H. Schofield, Winnipeg: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1913.

“Wm. Clark, veteran H.B.C. Factor, dead,” Manitoba Free Press, 10 January 1919, page 11.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 25 December 2020

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