Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: George Francis Fortinay [Fortney] (1846-1925)

Steamboat captain.

Born at St. Joseph, Michigan on 30 August 1846, he came to Red River with the Canadian road crew. He was one of the workmen who threatened John Snow with physical violence at Oak Point in October 1869, for which he was fined at the November General Quarterly Court. A month later, he was a member of the party inside John Schultz’s house that surrendered to Louis Riel. He was subsequently imprisoned at Fort Garry for 71 days. Fortinay later became a pioneer Red River steamboat captain, commanding such vessels as Alexandra, Gertie H. and Bonnitoba. In the 1890s he ran steamboats to Skagway and the Yukon. Although nearly 70, he enlisted and served overseas in the 100th Battalion during the First World War. On his return to Winnipeg after the war, he worked for six years in the Street Commissioner’s Department. He died at his Winnipeg home on 11 March 1925 and was buried in the St. James Cemetery.


Attestation papers, Library and Archives Canada.

“Veteran skipper of river boats is dead”, Manitoba Free Press, 13 March 1925. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B8]

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 23 October 2012

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