Class of 1988
Sir George Simpson, Governor-in-Chief of The Hudson’s Bay Company.
Simpson was born in the Scottish Highlands in the late 1700’s, and in 1809 he journeyed to London to work with his uncle Geddes Mackenzie Simpson, a sugar merchant and major investor in The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC).
His skills interested his uncle’s partner Andrew Colville, who was also a high ranking HBC executive. Colvile encouraged Simpson to join the London office of the HBC, and the young man eventually became the Governor of the Northern Department of the company. He oversaw the merging of HBC and the North West Company, and sought to streamline the new enterprise by closing competing fur trade posts. He was an avid traveler and visited fur trade posts all across North America. A stern taskmaster, he pushed his traveling crewmen to extremes in order to move as quickly as possible from post to post.
He became Governor-in-Chief of the company in 1821, and was legendary for his hands-on approach to governing the tiny posts and settlements which eventually became Canada’s western provincial capitals and large cities.
His shrewdness, dedication to economical business practices, and active promotion of free enterprise, led to self-sufficiency among the settlements.
Simpson’s other business interests included real estate, banks, railroads and canals.
In 1841, he was knighted in recognition of his many accomplishments, including his tireless work building HBC, as well as assisting in Arctic exploration.
Upon his retirement, Simpson settled into residency at The Hudson’s Bay House in Lachine, Quebec, where he spent his time entertaining local society and playing host to visiting royalty.