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Manitoba History No. 89

No. 89

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Memorable Manitobans: Donald McKenzie (1783-1851)

Fur trader, Governor of Red River Settlement (1835-1833).

Born in Scotland in 1783, the brother of Henry, James, Kenneth and Roderick McKenzie, all prominent partners in the North West Company. He came to Canada in 1800 and entered the service of the Company, and by 1806 he was a clerk at Fond du Lac. In 1810 he joined John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company and made the overland journey to Astoria in 1811. He took a prominent part in the negotiations through which Astoria was purchased by the North West Company.

He left Fort George in April 1814, on the return overland journey. After refusing the command of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s expedition from Montreal to Athabaska, he became a partner of the North West Company. After the union of the Companies in 1821 he led an expedition to the South Saskatchewan that so impressed George Simpson that he was appointed to manage the HBC at Red River in 1823, becoming governor of Assiniboia in 1825. He steered the settlement successfully through the flood of 1826. He later broke with Simpson over his decision to “turn off” his native-born wife and marry a European. He retired to Lake Chatauqua, New York, in 1833. He died at Mayville, Chautauqua County, New York, on 20 January 1851.

See also:

Donald Mackenzie: “King of the Northwest” by C. W. Mackenzie (1937).

Donald Mckenzie, Dictionary of Canadian Biography VIII, 557-58.


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

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by J. M. Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 27 November 2017

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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