William Kennedy | The Canadian Encyclopedia


William Kennedy

William Kennedy, explorer (born 26 April 1814 probably at Cumberland House, Rupert's Land; died 25 January 1890 at St Andrews, Red River Settlement).

Early Life and Career

William Kennedy was the son of a fur-trading father and an Indigenous mother. Some records indicate his father was Alexander Kennedy, an Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) post manager. Additionally, some records indicate his mother was a Cree woman named Agatha or Aggathas. Kennedy was educated in the Orkney Islands and worked for the HBC from 1833 to 1846. He served mostly at posts in Quebec. In 1851-52 he led the 13th expedition in search of Sir John Franklin. In what was unknown territory to the HBC, he and Joseph-René Bellot sledged along the east coast of Somerset Island, crossed Bellot Strait to Ommanney Bay on Prince of Wales Island, then trekked north to Cape Walker and back to base at Batty Bay. Kennedy settled at St Andrews, Manitoba. He was a strong advocate of the annexation of Rupert’s Land to Canada and worked diligently for an all-Canadian route from Toronto to the Red River Colony, and for the development of the seaport at Churchill.