William McGillivray

During the War of 1812 he commanded a company of voyageurs, assisting General BROCK at the capture of Detroit. As leader of the NWC, he presided over a period of intense competition with the Hudson's Bay Co that ended when the companies united in 1821.

McGillivray, William
Attributed to Sir Martin Shee, oil, 1820 (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-167).

McGillivray, William

 William McGillivray, fur-trade merchant (b Scot c 1764; d at London, Eng 16 Oct 1825). Attracted to the fur trade by his uncle, Simon MCTAVISH, McGillivray was a wintering partner in the NORTH WEST CO for several seasons. From 1794 he represented the Montréal end of the business at the annual rendezvous at GRAND PORTAGE [Minn]. Eventually he became superintendent of the northwestern trade, and when his uncle died in 1804, McGillivray was made chief director of the NWC.

During the War of 1812 he commanded a company of voyageurs, assisting General BROCK at the capture of Detroit. As leader of the NWC, he presided over a period of intense competition with the Hudson's Bay Co that ended when the companies united in 1821. Afterward, he was a director of the newly organized company. FORT WILLIAM, the NWC depot at the head of Lake Superior, was named after him.


Further Reading

  • M.W. Campbell, Northwest to the Sea: A Biography of William McGillivray (1975).