Finlayson, Roderick
b. 1818-03-16
d. 1892-01-20
HBC officer, farmer, businessman, and politician Roderick Finlayson was born in Loch Alsh, Scotland in March 1818.1 After emigrating to New York City in 1837, Finlayson gained a position as apprentice clerk at the Hudson's Bay Company's head office in Lachine, Lower Canada, and in 1839 he travelled to the Columbia District with a brigade commanded by John McLoughlin.2 He joined Chief Factor James Douglas's party in Alaska in 1840, and came to the southern end of Vancouver Island with them in 1843 to establish a stronger HBC presence in the area.3
This presence manifested as Fort Victoria and Douglas appointed Charles Ross to command the fort once it was deemed defensible in 1843, with Finlayson as his assistant.4 The two men took Douglas's charge to accomplish the largest possible results with the smallest possible means quite seriously and were determined that their work…would not admit of failure; Ross died the next year, however, leaving Finlayson as chief officer.5
Finlayson excelled in this role and earned the praise of Douglas: He is not a man of display, but there is a degree of energy, perseverance, method and sound judgement in all his arrangements.…He is besides a man of great probity and high moral worth.6
When Douglas returned in June 1849, he relieved Finlayson of his duties and appointed him chief accountant, a position he held until 1862.7 Finlayson made his first of many real estate investments in 1851, with the purchase of 100 acres of land near Rock Bay, the record for which can be seen in Pelly, Sir John Henry to Grey, Right Honorable Second Baronet Sir George 12 June 1851, CO 305:3, no. 5120, 373.
Finlayson was promoted to chief trader in 1850 and chief factor of the HBC after Douglas left the company in 1859.8 He retired from the company inp 1872, to farm and manage his real estate; he briefly served as the mayor of Victoria in 1878 and remained there until his death in December 1892.9
  • 1. Eleanor Stardom Finlayson, Roderick, Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Kerr, J. B. Biographical Dictionary of Well-Known British Columbians, (Vancouver, B.C.: Kerr & Berr, 1890).
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. Eleanor Stardom Finlayson, Roderick, Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
  • 7. Ibid.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. Ibid.
Mentions of this person in the documents