Mackenzie, Sir Alexander
b. 1764
d. 1820-03-12
Alexander Mackenzie was a trader and explorer who published a journal of his travels throughout North America. Born in Scotland, Mackenzie came to New York in 1774 with his father, Kenneth Mackenzie, and two aunts, who took care of him. In 1778, Alexander's aunts sent him to Montreal for schooling, and, in 1779, he joined a fur-trade company that would later be amalgamated into the North West Company, of which Mackenzie would receive a partner's share.1
In 1788, Mackenzie headed the North West Company's Athabasca post, and, a year later, the company ordered him to find route, navigable by water, to the Pacific Ocean. Mackenzie departed on his first voyage from the newly built from Fort Chipewyan in June 1789 and travelled the length of the Mackenzie River only to arrive at Garry Island, Northwest Territory.2
Makenzie set out on a second voyage in October 1792; he hoped to find a river on the western descent of the Rocky Mountains with which he could follow to the coast. He entered the Fraser River, which he though was the Columbia, and traversed it until he met First Nations individuals who counselled Mackenzie not to continue on that route, but instead, take the valley of the West Road River westward, advice which Mackenzie heeded.3
Mackenzie's party proceeded down the Bella Coola River into North Bentinck Arm and further into Dean Channel, where in a mixture of vermillion and melted grease Mackenzie wrote on a rock Alexander Mackenzie, from Canada, by land, the twenty-second of July, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three. Alexander Mackenzie's route, however, was too difficult to be a feasible trade route.4
In 1804, Mackenzie represented Huntington in the Lower Canada House of Assembly, and was also involved in Selkirk's Red River Settlement, but had withdrawn to Scotland before the height of the colony's problems. He married Geddes Mackenzie in April 1812, and the couple would have a daughter, and two sons. Mackenzie died in January 1820 at an inn outside of Dunkeld, Scotland.5
  • 1. W. Kaye Lamb, Mackenzie, Sir Alexander, Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Ibid.
Mentions of this person in the documents