Memorable Manitobans: William Drever (1803-1887)
Born in Kirkwall, Orkney Islands in 1803, he travelled aboard the Prince of Wales and arrived at York Factory in August 1821, remaining there 18 years in the employment of the Hudson’s Bay Company. He moved to the Red River settlement in July 1839, working first at Lower Fort Garry then Upper Fort Garry, eventually retiring from the company on 13 August 1851.
In March 1843, he married Helen Rothney (?-1866) of Aberdeen, Scotland who had come to Red River in 1839 as a governess for the Thom children. The couple had four daughters: Margaret Drever (wife of Rev. J. Mackay, Archdeacon of Saskatchewan), Mary Drever (wife of Lieutentant Colonel MacLeod), Christian Drever (wife of John P. J. Jephson), and Jean Anne Drever, and two sons, one of whom was William Drever. He was one of the earliest inhabitants of Winnipeg, settling in 1851. He owned a general goods store on Main Street just south of Portage Avenue. He was one of the founders of the Winnipeg Board of Trade, in 1873, and was a member of Holy Trinity Anglican Church.
His health took an ill turn in 1872 and he lived with his daughter Jean until his death on 6 February 1887. He was buried in St. John’s Cemetery.
“Another gone,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 7 February 1887, page 4.
Death notice, Manitoba Daily Free Press, 8 February 1887, page 1.
City and Province [Yesterday afternoon all that was mortal of the late William Drever ...], Manitoba Daily Free Press, 10 Februasry 1887, page 4.
Biographical Sheets, William “A” Drever, Hudson’s Bay Company Archives.
Selections from the Unpublished Recollections of Mrs. W. C. Pinkham, an early Manitoban, Part 1, Manitoba Pageant, Vol. 19, No. 2, Winter 1974.
Selections from the Unpublished Recollections of Mrs. W. C. Pinkham, Part 2, Manitoba Pageant, Vol. 19, No. 3, Spring 1974.
Selections from the Unpublished Recollections of Mrs. W. C. Pinkham, Part 3, Manitoba Pageant, Vol. 20, No. 1, Autumn 1974.
Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.
We thank Nathan Kramer for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 23 October 2022