Manitoba Historical Society
     Keeping history alive for over 142 years

Memorable Manitobans: William McGillivray (1764-1825)

Fur trader.

Born in Dunlichty, Scotland, he was brought by his uncle to Montreal to work for the North West Company. In 1785, he was sent to Red River as a clerk, then moved further west before returning to the Rat River (now Manitoba) in 1789. After becoming a partner and being promoted to proprietor in 1790, he was put in charge of the English River department with headquarters at Ile-a-la-Crosse; a year later he was given command of the Athabasca department. McGillivray continued to advance gradually in the company, and became head of the NWC in 1804, arranging the amalgamation with the XY Company.

He was prepared to fight the rejuvenated Hudson's Bay Company and saw Lord Selkirk and his settlement as the principal target. He was among those arrested at Fort William by Selkirk in 1816, although he was never tried. He negotiated the merger with the HBC in 1821. He was a member of the Beaver Club.

More information:

Northwest to the Sea: A Biography of William McGillivray by Marjorie Wilkins Campbell (1975).

William McGillivray, Dictionary of Canadian Biography VI, 454-57.


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

Page revised: 10 April 2008

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

Search the collection by word or phrase, name, place, occupation or other text:

Custom Search

Browse surnames beginning with:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Send corrections and additions to the Memorable Manitobans Administrator at

Criteria for Memorable Manitobans | Suggest a Memorable Manitoban  | Firsts | Acknowledgements

Support the MHS

MHS YouTube Channel

Back to top of page

For queries on the above page, please contact the MHS Webmaster.

Home  |  Terms & Conditions  |  FAQ  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy  |  Donations

© 1998-2021 Manitoba Historical Society. All rights reserved.