Memorable Manitobans: John McLeod (1788-1849)
Born at Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, and entered the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1811 and helped Lord Selkirk recruit in the Hebrides. He then sailed with Miles Macdonell in 1811 as part of the settlement’s advance party, arriving in Red River in 1812. McLeod spent the next few years founding posts in what is now southern Manitoba, and he was responsible for the HBC’s Red River business in 1814-15. He was arrested in 1817 by the Nor’Westers for confiscating their property at Pembina with Robert Semple in 1816, and was taken to Montreal for trial. The case was dismissed. In 1818 he returned to Red River with a brigade that included the earliest Roman Catholic missionaries to the settlement.
He was made Chief Trader at the merger and sent west across the mountains. He returned to Norway House in 1826 and continued in HBC service until his death, although George Simpson was highly critical of him. He married Charlotte Pruden at Norway House in 1826 or 1828, the daughter of John Peter Pruden, Chief Factor of the HBC. They had four children.
From 1822-1826 he was in the Columbia department. In 1826 he was promoted to Chief Trader and from then until 1830 took charge of the HBC post at Norway House. McLeod retired from service in 1848 and died of cholera at Hochelaga, Canada East, in 1849.
His papers are in Library and Archives Canada. There are also papers in the Archives of Manitoba. Extracts from McLeod’s journal of 1811-16 were published as “Diary, etc., of chief trader John MacLeod ...”, edited by H. G. Gunn, in North Dakota State Historical Society Collections, 2 (1908), pages 115-34.
Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 15 March 2017
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