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Memorable Manitobans: William Todd (c1784-1851)


Born in Ireland around 1784, he joined the Hudson's Bay Company in 1816 and spent a season in the Athabasca country in the midst of the competition with the North West Company, in which he distinguished himself for his competence. He subsequently served in Red River (1821-1822), at York Factory (1822-1827), and at Fort Vancouver (1827-1829). He then became a clerk at Brandon House. He was not regarded as a good trader, but he acquired a considerable reputation as a physician and surgeon. He held a number of modern views. He refused to bleed George Simpson during his wife’s troublesome pregnancy. Although Todd ended a spell of illness at York Factory called the “York Factory complaint,” he himself became sick in the process and was weakened for the remainder of his life. At Fort Pelly in 1837, he began a program of cowpox inoculation among Indigenous people to prevent smallpox, the first use of the vaccine in the West. In the spring of 1851 he retired to the Red River Settlement, where he died soon after.

See also:

William Todd, Dictionary of Canadian Biography VIII, pp. 888-890.


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

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 13 July 2019

Memorable Manitobans

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