Alexander McKenzie

The Hudson's Bay Company Archives has put biographical sheets for some of their employees online.  One for Alexander McKenzie can be found at:

Alexander McKenzie was a Scotsman who joined the North West Company in 1812 or 1813.  He spent the summer of 1815 at Spokane and was stationed at Fort George, at the mouth of the Columbia River in 1820.  His untimely end was a matter of great concern for the people of Fort Langley.  For a biography, see Fleming 1940

Fleming 1940 is Fleming, R. Harvey, ed. 1940.  Minutes of Council, Northern Department of Ruperts Land, 1821-31.  London: Champlain Society for the Hudson's Bay Record Society 3

     According to a footnote in the Fort Langley Journals, Alexander was killed by the Clallam, January 1828, along with Antoine Pierrault, Francois Xavier Tarrhonga (Tarihonga), and guides Chartier and Baptiste Boiseau.

     The facts at hand state that Alexander McKenzie and his party of four men left Fort Langley on Sunday 13 January 1828, "provided with Guides and well supplied with Provisions".  At some point after leaving a Clallam village and before they got to Fort Vancouver, they were attacked.

     The first word of the attack was brought ot Fort Langley on 13 February 1828 by Cowhican chief Shashia.  Shashia said he had heard a report in the Lummi Country that McKenzie and party had been killed by the Clallams somewhere very near to Whidbey Island.

     On 7 March 1828, they received word from Kwantlen chief Whitlekenum about the McKenzie party. Wrote George Barnston in the journal that day, "Such a Rumour vague as we at present take it to be, tends still to inspire us with serious alarm, and if confirmed the event will cause much sorrow, and be attended with very important consequences."

     11 March 1828, Sheinten, a Musqueam chief stopped by with a canoe load of shell fish and said he'd heard the chief of the Clallum had saved a member of the McKenzie party and "sent him off to Vancouver."

     It wasn't until 15 April 1828, that Donald Manson, returning from Fort Vancouver, brought confirmation that all members of the McKenzie party had been killed, except for McKenzie's wife, who was taken captive.

     It is unclear as to why they were attacked.  One of the most popular theories as to why McKenzie and party were slain was that the Clallam had "urgently demanded" that McKenzie NOT visit the Cowichan; McKenzie didn't take their demands seriously and visited the Cowichan anyway, which was counted as an act of treachery and betrayal by the Clallam.  Thus, if this was the reason behind the killing, from the Clallam point of view, it was justified.

     Another theory is that McKenzie's wife, the Princess of Wales, a daughter of the Chinook chief Comcomly, had something to do with it, being as she was a woman of wealth and had owned "many slaves some of whom may have been Clallam."  The McKenzie party may have been slain in order to take the Princess of Wales captive.

     But no one really knows the exact reasons why.

source: The Fort Langley Journals: 1927- 30, Morag MacLachlan, editor.

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moved 28 July 2002
updated 21 July 2013