Memorable Manitobans: John Inkster (1799-1874)
Stone mason, farmer.
Known as “Orkney Johnny,” he was born in the Orkney Islands in 1799. He came to Canada in 1821 as a stone mason in the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Shortly after arriving he bought himself out of service and farmed on the west side of the river. Later he became a free trader and merchant, importing goods from England by way of Hudson Bay and American goods through St. Paul, Minnesota by Red River cart. In 1856 he became president of the Steam Mill Company.
He married Mary Sinclair (?-?) and they had nine children: William Alfred Inkster, George Inkster (?-?), John Inkster (?-?), Colin Inkster, Margaret Inkster (?-?, wife of William Sutherland), Jane Inkster (?-?, wife of Robert Tait), Ellen Inkster (?-?, wife of Archibald McDonald), Harriet Inkster (?-?, wife of William McMurray), and Mary Inkster (?-?).
Inkster served as Justice of the Peace, Magistrate and Councillor of Assiniboia. He was a rector’s warden of St. John’s Cathedral. His house, constructed in Seven Oaks near his store between 1851 and 1853, was lived in continuously by the Inkster family until 1954, and is now a museum. He was a member of the Council of Assiniboia from 1857 to 1868 and was a member of the November 1869 council (although he did not attend).
He died in 1874 and was buried in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery. He is commemorated by Inkster Boulevard in Winnipeg. There are papers in the Library and Archives Canada and the Archives of Manitoba.
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.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 21 December 2020