Work, John
b. 1792(?)
d. 1861-12-22
John Work was born in County Donegal, Ireland. Work joined the Hudson's Bay Company on 15 June 1814 at Stromness in the Orkney Islands. He served at York Factory and Severn House before becoming district master in 1818-19. Becoming a first class clerk in 1821, Work took charge of the island Lake District in 1822-23. In July 1823, he was assigned to the Columbia District, serving at Spokane House, Fort George, Fort Vancouver, and Fort Colvile before taking charge of the Snake country brigade in August 1830. On 3 November 1830, Work was promoted to chief trader; he travelled to California in September 1832 and returned to Fort Vancouver in October 1833, transferring to Fort Simpson in December 1834.1
He travelled around the coast, from northern Vancouver Island to Haida Gwaii, returning regularly to his base at the fort. Work's health deteriorated in the 1840's, but he continued with the company, receiving a commission as chief factor in 1846. Work moved his family to Fort Victoria in 1849, so his children could receive formal schooling, and he continued to travel throughout New Caledonia until August 1852, when he settled at Fort Victoria, buying 823 acres of land to the north of the town. In 1853, Douglas appointed Work to the Legislative Council of Vancouver Island, a position he held until his death.2
Work also continued to serve as chief factor for the Hudson's Bay Company, joining Alexander Grant Dallas and Dugald Mactavish to manage the company's affairs in 1858 when Douglas resigned to become governor of British Columbia. Work died on 22 December 1861 at his home near Fort Victoria.3
  • 1. William R. Sampson, Work, John, Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.
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