Simpson, Sir George

  Sir George Simpson, governor of the HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY (b at Lochbroom, Scot about 1787; d at Lachine, Canada E 7 Sept 1860). Simpson's knowledge of the FUR TRADE and fur traders was never before equalled. An able administrator and indefatigable traveller, he was imperious when it suited his purposes and loyal to those whose interest paralleled his. Simpson was sent by the HBC from London to North America in 1820 to take charge should the company's governor, William Williams, be arrested by the NWC. He spent his first winter on Lake Athabasca in uneasy competition with the Nor'Westers. When the 2 companies amalgamated in 1821, Simpson was made governor of the large Northern Department, and 5 years later governor of the company's trading territories in British North America. He held this position until his death. Many of his voluminous reports and correspondence have survived in the HBC Archives.

From 1833 Simpson made his headquarters at Lachine, outside Montréal, where he courted politicians, entertained lavishly and invested his money in banks and transportation projects. He was a director of the North Shore Railway Company, Montréal, and of the Champlain Railroad, and he was on the Montréal board of the Bank of British North America. He published his ghostwritten travels, Narrative of a Journey Round the World, During the Years 1841 and 1842, and was knighted in 1841 for his contribution to Arctic discoveries. In 1830 he married his cousin Frances Ramsey Simpson. They had 2 sons and 3 daughters. Simpson, who was himself illegitimate, also had at least 5 illegitimate children.