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Strathspey in the Canadian Fur-Trade

From “ Essays in Canadian History” edited by Ralph Flenby, Toronto, 1939. ( ANL: 971.004)

IN THE north-west corner of Scotland, some distance to the east of Inverness, is a Highland valley named Strathspey. On the banks of the River Spey and its tributaries has been from early times the chief home of Clan Grant: here, near the comparatively modern village of Grantown, is Castle Grant, and here too is the rugged mountain of Craigellachie, from which the Clan Grant has derived its war-cry “Stand Fast Craigellachie”. Here too the Scottish national dance known as the Strathspey had its origin as well as the reel of Tullochgorum.

From Strathspey and its neighbouring glens there came to Canada after the British conquest a veritable emigration. Into the Canadian fur-trade, for instance, there flocked so many Grants from Strathspey that their identities and relationships have been a sort of Chinese puzzle. Among them were a number of pioneers of the North West Company, as well as some who tried to break the company’s monopoly. One of them, Cuthbert Grant was the first to reach Great Slave Lake; and his son was the leader of the bois-brules at the massacre of Seven Oaks in 1816. It was through his connection with the Grants that John Stuart, the companion of Simon Fraser the explorer, entered the North West Company; and it was John Stuart who introduced into the Hudson’s Bay Company Donald A. Smith, afterwards Lord Strathcona, who was not only a native of Strathspey, but was descended from Grants on both his father’s and his mother’s side.

Sir William Grant, master of the Rolls in England at the beginning of the nineteenth century, was Attorney-General of Quebec from 1776 to 1777; and the Hon. William Grant of St. Roch, who was one of the first of the Clan to reach Canada, was Deputy Receiver of Quebec from 1777 to 1784, and a member of the Legislative Council. The latter through his marriage to the dowager Baroness de Longueuil, and his nephew’s subsequent marriage with the Baroness, brought about the perpetuation of the only barony of the French regime that has been recognised by the British Crown. Though the emigration from Strathspey to Canada has thus flowered in the Baronies of Strathcona and Longueuil, the representatives of both these lines as well as of other families, have shaken the dust of Canada from their feet; and it is a singular fact that it is difficult today to find in Canada any descendants of the numerous Grants who played such a conspicuous part in its history during the early days of British rule, save perhaps among the metis of the Canadian West.

The Frasers and McTavishes in the Canadian fur-trade seem to have been attracted to Canada by their connection with Fraser’s Highlanders, who fought under Wolfe at Quebec;1 but so far as I can discover, none of the Grants in Canada had any connection with that gallant regiment. The emigration from Speyside seems to have had its fons et origo in the operations of a firm of Scottish Merchants in London, known as Robert Grant & Company, the partners of which were Robert, Alexander and William Grant. Robert Grant who was the active head of the firm, was born in 1720 and died in 1803, and was the founder of the present family of Grant of Elchies. It has generally been assumed that the William Grant who was a member of the firm was the Hon. William Grant of St. Roch; for when the Hon. William Grant of St Roch came to Canada as a very young man, he made an abortive purchase from the Marquis de Vaudreuil of a grant of fur-trading rights at La Baye, on Lake Michigan, “for himself and the firm of Robert Grant & Co.” There are however, in the British Museum series of letters2 written by the William Grant who was a member of the firm; and from these it was clear that he was a wholly different person, a son of Robert Grant of Tammore and a cousin of Robert Grant of London. These letters throw a flood of welcome light on the operations of the firm of Robert Grant & Co., and on the emigrants from Speyside to Canada.

It is clear from them, that long before the Britsh captured Quebec, the members of the firm were doing business in Halifax. In 1756 Robert Grant was in Halifax, Nova Scotia and was made a member of the Council of the province; and William Grant writes, under date of August 31, that he has “just sent of Peter Stewart and John Grant with some goods to Nova Scotia.” When Quebec was captured, the firm seems to have transferred its attention to Canada. It is reasonable to suppose that the “Peter Stewart” who was sent out to Nova Scotia in 1756 was the Peter Stewart who later became a prominent merchant of Quebec, interested in the fur-trade of the King’s Posts on the St Lawrence; and there is no doubt that the Hon. William Grant of St Roch was sent out to Quebec about 1762 as an agent of the firm. There must also have been others, for William Grant, the writer of the letters, says in a letter from London, dated Feb. 10, 1763, “I can take care of three or four lads every year without being any loss to me and hope to give as good an account of those as them I have already exported, who have all been peculiarly lucky.”

During these years, the firm of Robert Grant & Co. evidently prospered. William Grant, writing under the date of March 12, 1761, says, “Robert Grant has thoughts of going soon of North America…. He has finished a new contract for the Navie in North America”; and on January 17, 1767, he writes “Robert Grant’s contracts turn out extremely well as does the two I have got in my own name.” The only fly in the ointment was the unwillingness of William Grant of St Roch to pay his just debts to the firm which had sent him out to Canada, or at any rate backed him. It was decided to send William Grant, the letter writer, out to America to collect the debts owing to the firm; and on November 15, 1767, Robert Grant of London wrote to William Grant’s father, Grant of Tammore, “Your son has been pretty successful in collecting the debts. He has met with little trouble but from William Grant, and was in hopes to get security for most of what he owes us. He will be obliged to return there in the spring, as the people owing us there, particularly William Grant, pays less attention to their words, character, and credit, than the worst thief you ever knew in the Highlands of Scotland.” When William Grant the letter-writer, returned to Canada in the spring of 1768, he wrote to his father from Montreal on May 27:

I am sorry I must confirm what Robt. Grant has wrote you with regaird to Wm. Grant, were I to give you a full history of his conduct since I came here it would take up severall sheets and would hardly meet with credite. I have at last got matters refered to arbitration and am not affraid of getting justice tho he has showen great dexterity and cleverness in preventing it so long by stoutly asserting ofring (sic) to swear to Five thousand pounds Errors and impositions in our accounts settled and signed by himself and John Gray and insisting on us proving every artickle since the beginning of 1762 as if accounts had never been settled…However I have got an award for upwards of L6,000 Str. besides what remittances I got last year, I would now get a final ward for the whole but the arbitrators chouse to wait for some further proofs we have at London. Meantime the artickles in dispute are reduced to a very few hundred pounds and I am fully convinced there will not be an error of five pounds in all out accounts which will amount to above L80,000 and that as I hope and believe he is able I will by Dec. next make him willing to pay his just debts. Tho’ I ofered him a present of L500 rather than have this dispute with him… I shall only further add on this disagreeable subject that all honest men even his best friends here greatly disapprove of his conduct in this affair—

Of the other natives of Strathspey in Canada, the letter writer gives an interesting glimpse:

All our other Friends in this country are well. Dellavrogats son John is in Halifax I have not heard from him since I came to America though I wrote to him last August on business of consequence. Robt Grant wrote me he hears from him sometimes. Francis is a Quebec and stays with William Grant. He was for some short time in business for himself but has given it over. John Deskie is lately married to a Canadian girl…. John Grant, Malcolm’s son, is settled here, is a clever young man, is a partner with William Grant and Alex Martin, which I am afraid will not prove much to his advantage.

Peter Stewart is well, a very honest man, and he realized in houses and lands about L2,500 besides what he has employed in a very safe and profitable lease of a post for the Indian trade. Charles Grant has turned out the most respected and of the best character and credite of all the Grants that have settled in this collony. He and his partner make money slowly but surely with great integrity and character….

The names included in this letter are those, in part at least, of the first wave of emigration from Speyside to Canada; but the first wave was followed by other waves, generally of brothers, and cousins, and nephews, and even remoter relatives. To attempt to disentangle the relationships of all those members of Clan Grant who came to Canada in the eighteenth century seems, with the sources of information at our disposal, an impossible task; but something may be done to indicate the chief family groups, and to trace the part they played in the fur-trade.

Let us begin with Charles Grant, “the most respected……of all the Grants that have settled in this collony.” Thanks to his great-great-great-grandson, Captain M.C. Forsyth-Grant, of Ecclesgrieg, near Montrose, Scotland, we know a little about Charles Grant. He was a son of James Grant, Laird of Kincorth, and a grandson of Grant of Glenbeg, whose portrait was in 1845 hanging in Castle Grant. He came to Canada, as we have seen, before 1768, and became interested in the fur-trade. It is significant of the position he came to occupy that, when Haldimand wished in 1780 information about the fur-trade, he applied to Charles Grant; and Charles Grant’s report to the Governor is our chief source of information with regard to the merger of interests in the North West Company in 1779.3 He died at Quebec in 1784, leaving an infant son, Charles Grant, who became later a clerk in the North West Company.

Before his death, however, he was apparently instrumental in introducing some of his relatives into the Western fur-trade. His cousin, Robert Grant, son of David Grant of Lethendry, went to the West in 1778, and was one of the partners in the North West Company formed in 1779. He is reputed to have built Fort Esperance on the Qu’Appelle River in 1787; and he retired from the fur-trade in 1793 with a “handsome competency”, and returned to Scotland. Here he bought the family estate of Kincorth, married, had five children, and died in 1801. His grand-daughter, Miss Evelyn Grant, of Nairn, Scotland, tells me that his tombstone in Cromdale churchyard describes him as “one of the original members of the North West Company of Canada.”4 It seems certain also that Robert Grant’s brother Cuthbert followed him into the service of the North West Company, became a partner about 1795, and died at Kaministikwia in 1799. About this identification I was for a time in some doubt. Robert Grant the Nor’-Wester, undoubtedly had a brother who was “a merchant in Canada”; but the trouble was that there were at least two other Cuthbert Grants in Canada at the same time. One of these was a merchant of Quebec who died in 1793; and the other was a merchant of Three Rivers, whose property in that place was sold by the sheriff in 1806. (It is a strange fact that, whereas the name Cuthbert is almost unknown among the Grants in Scotland, there should have been three of the name in Canada contemporaneously.) I have recently ascertained, however, that Cuthbert Grant of Quebec was the son of John Grant, Coppersmith of Inverness, and his wife Naomi Cuthbert;5 and I have evidence showing that Cuthbert Grant of Three Rivers was connected with William Grant of Three Rivers,6 about whom more anon. It may therefore be taken as a practical certainty that Cuthbert Grant the Nor’-Wester was the brother of Robert Grant the Nor’-Wester.

At least one other member of this family would appear to have come to Canada in the eighteenth century, and engaged in the fur-trade; for when Cuthbert Grant’s affairs were being wound up in Montreal in October, 1799, the court appointed as curator of his estate one “James Grant, uncle to the said Cuthbert Grant”.7 This James Grant is elsewhere described, on what authority I do not know, as “James Grant of Red Lake” (presumably Red Lake in Minnesota); and in 1783 Jean-Baptiste Perrault me a fur-trader names James Grant in Cahokia.8 But there were so many James Grants in Canada toward the end of the eighteenth century that it seems impossible to identify the curator of Cuthbert Grant”s estate. There were three James Grants who signed an open letter to the Hon. Thomas Dunn, printed in the Quebec Gazette on June 15, 1785; and there were at least for James Grants who died in Montreal between 1784 and 1819.

Cuthbert Grant left behind him a son of the same name who was destined to play a conspicuous part in the history of the Canadian West. He was baptised in the Scotch Presbyterian Church in Montreal in 1798; and after his father’s death was sent to his relatives in Scotland to be educated. Since his uncle, Robert Grant, died in 1801, he appears to have been placed in the care of Stuart relations. He returned to Red River before 1815, and in 1816 he was the leader of the bois-brules who shot down Govenor Semple’s party at Seven Oaks. He was arrested by Lord Selkirk in 1817, but he escaped from prison in Montreal in 1818, and returned to the West. In 1824 he founded the settlement of White Horse Plain (now St. Francois-Xavier) in Manitoba, and in 1828 he was appointed “Warden of the Plains”. He died at White Horse Plain in 1854; and a number of his descendents are still to be found in the Canadian West. Some of them have borne his christian name, though it is interesting to note that this has been transmuted into “Colbert”.9

In a will devised by Cuthbert Grant in 1822, a bequest was made to “his cousin Peter Stuart……brother of John Stuart, one of the partners in the Honourable the Hudson’s Bay Company.”10 This establishes the fact that John Stuart, the companion of Simon Fraser on his descent of the Fraser River to the Pacific in 1806, was a cousin of Cuthbert Grant. Whether he was a first cousin is perhaps doubtful, since John Stuart’s maternal grandfather is said to have been “Robert Grant of Cromdale”, and Cuthbert Grant’s grandfather would appear to have been David Grant of Lethendry. But there can be no question that they belonged to the same family. John Stuart entered the service of the North West Company in 1799; he became a partner in 1813, and a chief factor of the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1821; her retired from the fur-trade in 1839, and he died near Forres, Scotland, in 1847. But before he retired he introduced into the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company his nephew, Donald A. Smith, afterwards Lord Strathcona. In 1872, Donald A. Smith at a banquet given in his honour at Winnipeg, spoke as follows. “If I may be pardoned a somewhat personal allusion, I would say that about ninety years ago my own relative and [their] friends were among the originators of the North West Company, which subsequently amalgamated with the Hudson’s Bay Company.”11 If any further proof were necessary, this is direct evidence that Lord Strathcona derived from the family of Charles Grant of Quebec, Robert Grant the Nor’-Wester, and Cuthbert Grant, the “Warden of the Plains”. One may be permitted to wonder if, when Donald A. Smith was sent West as a commissioner of the Canadian Government during the Riel Rebellion of 1869-70, and when he was later elected the first representative of Selkirk in the Canadian House of Commons, the fact that he was related by blood to some of the metis in the Canadian West, as well as the fact that his wife herself had Indian blood in her veins, may not have had an important influence on the course of events.

Now let us turn to another branch of the Clan. The Hon. William Grant of St Roch was, as we have seen, one of the first of the clan to come to Canada. He had a most checkered career. Not long after his arrival in Quebec, he was described by General Murray as “a conceited boy” who was soliciting his friends in London to get him appointed to the Council in Quebec; and we have seen the opinion in which he was held by members of the London firm of Robert Grant & Co. Yet he achieved a prominent place in Quebec society. In 1770 he married the dowager Baroness de Longueuil; in 1777 he was appointed the deputy of Sir Thomas Mills as Receiver-General of Quebec; and in 1778 he was appointed a member of the Legislative Council of the province. In 1784, however, he was relieved of his post as deputy Receiver-General, because of serious deficiencies in his accounts; and he was not appointed to the Legislative Council of Lower Canada on its creation in 1791, though from 1792 to his death in 1805 he represented the upper town of Quebec in the Legislative Assembly of the province. On his death he was found to be virtually a bankrupt; and the numerous seignories he had acquired were sold at auction.

It might be assumed that since William Grant of St. Roch came out to Canada as an agent of the firm of Robert Grant and Co., he was a close relative of the partners. Such however, does not appear to be the case. Robert Grant of London was the son of Alexander Grant of Hillockhead, and William Grant of London was the son of Grant of Tammore; but William Grant of St. Roch was the son of William Grant, laird of Blairfindie, and his wife Jean Tyrie.12 Blairfindie is a square tower or keep in Glenlivat, the ruins of which are still standing; and the Grants of Blairfindie had been “out in the ‘45”. The laid of Blairfindie, however, made his submission after Culloden, and was permitted to remain at Blairfindie.13 Here he died in 1762, just about the time his son William went to Canada; and his testament dative14 disposed of an estate of less than L400, including “a black mare, a yellow horse, a white horse, and a black cow, all old with ten head of sheep”. Such were the circumstances from which William Grant of St Roch escaped when he emigrated to Canada.

So far as I can discover, William Grant of St. Roch had no children. There is no reference to any children in his will,15 and he left what estate he had to Capt. David Alexander Grant, his nephew, who married the Baroness de Longueuil, and whose son became Baron de Longueuil. That William Grant of St. Roch however, had a brother in Canada is clear from the fact that an English merchant named Hadfield, who visited Canada in 1785, testified in his journal that he met in Quebec Capt. David Alexander Grant and “Miss Grant, a cousin of the Captain, a very agreeable, handsome young lady about 18 or 19 years of age” who “had received her education at Queen’s Square, London, and in France”, who was an orphan and whose mother had been “a Canadian” .16 If these facts are correct, they mean that there was a brother of William Grant of St Roch in Canada as early as 1766; but that he died before 1785. Who he was, I am at a loss to determine, although my guess is that he was John Grant, a merchant of Montreal, who was in 1778 a partner of William Grant of Three Rivers.

After William Grant’s abortive attempt to obtain the fur-trade at La Baye, in Lake Michigan, in 1763, he appears to have taken no part in the Canadian fur-trade, except in so far as he was interested in the fur-trade at King’s Posts on the Lower St. Lawrence. But it would seem that he had at least one relative who was concerned in the western fur-trade. This was William Grant of Montreal and Three Rivers who was born in the parish of Kirkmichael in Scotland in 1743, the son of John Grant and Genevieve Forbes,17 and died at or near Sorel, Lower Canada, on November 20, 1810,18 after a long career in the fur-trade. That William Grant of Three Rivers was a Grant of Blairfindie is rendered practically certain from the evidence of his son, Richard Grant of Fort Hall, who always asserted that he was descended from “the chieftain of Blairfindie”, and by the fact that when Richard Grant was christened in 1794 his godmother was the Baroness de Longueuil.19 It is worthy of note that, moreover, that Blairfindie is in the parish of Kirkmichael. William Grant of Three Rivers may have been a cousin of William Grant of St. Roch, or he may have belonged to a cadet branch known as the Grants of Laggan (or Logan) of Blairfindie. When the father of William Grant of St. Roch died in 1762, he appointed as his executor “Alexander Grant in Laggan of Blairfindie”; and we know that Alexander Grant, Logan of Blairfindie, who was “out in the ‘45” with the laird of Blairfindie, had a younger brother James who is said to have emigrated to Canada.20 On the other hand, the laird of Blairfindie had in 1745 a son named John who was a “lieutenant in the Jacobite Army but deserted”; and this may have been the father of William Grant of Three Rivers. Admittedly the evidence is fragmentary; but there seems to be no doubt that William Grant of Three Rivers belonged to the same family as William Grant of St. Roch.

William Grant of Three Rivers seems to have played a part of some importance in the western fur-trade. He first appears in the fur-trade licenses in 1777, when he went security for five canoes sent to Lake Nipigon; and he continued to send canoes to the West for nearly twenty years thereafter. About 1795 the firm of Grant, Campion and Company, in which he was the senior partner, acquired one share in the North West Company; but the firm appears to have dissolved shortly afterwards. I used to suspect that Grant, Camion and Company had been the backers of David and Peter Grant, who set up an opposition to the North West Company in the West in 1793-5; but recent evidence proves this not to have been the case.21 Soon after his retirement from the North West Company, William Grant retired to Three Rivers, and in his later years was engaged in small businesses in Nicolet and Sorel.

Who were David and Peter Grant who led the opposition to the North West Company in the West in 1795? We know a little about David Grant. John Macdonald of Garth, who was in opposition to him in 1791, describes him as “an old experienced trader”. He was a clerk in the North West Company until 1789, when he retired and became a free-trader. He seems to have died in Montreal in 1797. Peter Grant is usually identified with the Peter Grant who became a partner of the North West Company after 1795; but I am doubtful about this identification. It seems unlikely that a trader who was in opposition in 1795 should shortly afterwards; and Peter Grant, the North West Company partner, seems to have been a Grant of Glenmoriston. Peter was such a common name amongst the Grants that there may easily have been than one Peter Grant in the West. However this may be, it would seem unlikely that the David and Peter Grant who were in opposition to the North West Company in the West in 1793-5 were relatives of either the Cromdale or the Blairfindie Grants in Canada. William Grant of Three Rivers described them merely as “two Grants”.22

There may, I think, have been some connection between the Grants of Cromdale and the Grants of Blairfindie. Cromdale and Blairfindie, though in different valleys, are only a few miles apart: and intermarriage among members of the Clan Grant was common. It is significant that Richard Grant of Fort Hall stated that Cuthbert Grant “the Warden of the Pains” was his “cousin” (though this is no doubt merely an illustration of the loose way in which the word “cousin” was used, and is used among Scots); and it is also significant that the grand-daughter of Richard Grant of Fort Hall asserts that her Father, Francis John Grant, who was living at Winnipeg when Lord Strathcona was there, was a “cousin” of Lord Strathcona.23 If so the connection must have been fairly remote.

There are several other members of the Clan Grant in Canada who challenge enquiry: John Grant of Lachine who was an agent of the North West Company, engaged in the forwarding of supplies from Montreal, was a Grant of Glenmoriston: James Grant of Quebec, who died in Quebec in 1788 was a merchant and distiller, and may possibly have been a native of Glenlivat where distilling is still a profitable industry; and the various Grants mentioned in the letters of William Grant of London, written from Canada in 1764. But there is one other son of Strathspey about whom something must be said. This was James Grant of Timiskaming. From 1777 to 1795 James Grant was engaged in the fur-trade about Lake Timiskaming, in association first with John Porteous, and later with Daniel Sutherland; and in 1795 he appears to have become a partner in the North West Company, when the interests of James Grant and Company were acquired by it.24 He died before 1799, for in the accounts of McTavish, Frobisher and Company for that year there is a reference to the share of “the late James Grant”.25 Who he was is a matter of conjecture. He cannot have been the James Grant who was the uncle of Cuthbert Grant the Nor’-Wester, for the latter was still living in 1799, when Cuthbert Grant’s will was probated. He seems to have belonged to the family of the Grants of Kilgraston; for prior to 1795 there had joined him at Timiskaming House one Aeneas Cameron, who succeeded him at Timiskaming House and whose mother was a Grant of Kilgraston. The tradition among the collateral descendants of Aeneas Cameron is that he went first to Jamaica, where his uncle John Grant was chief justice of the island from 1783 to 1790, and then came to Canada.26 It seems reasonable to suppose that James Grant of Timiskaming was another uncle, or at any rate a relative, and belonged to the Kilgraston family. In this connection it is interesting to note that Aeneas Cameron (who was a native of the parish of Kirkmichael) was succeeded at Timiskaming House by his nephew Angus Cameron, and Angus Cameron was succeeded by his nephew James Cameron and that James Cameron was succeeded by a cousin, Charles Stuart, who died in Ontario in 1907. If for a good part of a century a Cameron nephew succeeded a Cameron uncle in the fur-trade at Lake Timiskaming it is a reasonable supposition that James Grant and Aeneas Cameron were perhaps uncle and nephew. Until the papers of Aeneas and Angus Cameron , which are still in the possession of their descendents at Firhall, near Nairn, in Scotland, are made available to students, the truth in regard to this relationship can, however, hardly be ascertained.

If, in these notes there appears to be an undue element of conjecture, it must be said in extenuation that the researches on which they are based have been conducted for several years over a wide range. Information has been obtained, not only from the printed literature of the fur-trade, but from manuscript materials in the Public Archives of Canada, the Old Court House in Montreal, the British Museum, Hudson’s Bay House in London, and the General Register House in Edinburgh, as well as descendents of the Nor’-Westers in Scotland, in Quebec, in California, and in the Canadian West. The search has been made far and wide; and if the result is small, it illustrates at any rate what one or two Scottish Glens contributed to the development of the Canadian fur-trade.


1. See W.S. Wallace, “Some Notes on Fraser’s Highlanders” (Canadian Historical Review, XVIII, 1937)

2. British Museum, Add. MSS. 25405-25413

3. W.S. Wallace (ed), Documents relating to the North West Company (Toronto 1934) 62-6

4. I cannot resist the temptation of quoting from a letter of Miss Evelyn Grant: “Robert Grant of the North West Company was my grandfather….I have a copy of the marriage certificate of his parents, who were David Grant, only son of Donald Grant of Easter Lethendry, and Margaret, third daughter of Robert Grant of Wester Lethendry—they were married in 1749. These two Lethendrys are about a mile apart just above the village of Cromdale in Strathspey…I am the last of his descendants, and indeed of the whole Lethendy family. His younger brother Cuthbert was also in Canada. He had no brother seems probable that he[Charles Grant] and my grandfather were friends out there and……connected through the Glenbeg connection….Glenbeg is near Grantown, a most lovely little glen, but there is nothing there now but a modern farmhouse—though a group of very old hardwood trees indicate where the old home must have been–as in those parts trees only grew around houses. I do not know if there are any descendents of the Glenbeg family left.

5. Commissariat Records of Moray. Particular Register of Sasines, Vol 15, f. 404. I am indebted for this information to Mrs A.N. MacLeod of Winnipeg, who has devoted a vast amount of research into the antecedents of the Grant descendants still to be found in the West, and whose generous help I hereby gratefully acknowledge.

6. A letter written to Captain Thomas Boyes, dated Three Rivers, May 31, 1799, and printed in the Quebec Gazette is signed by William Grant and Cuthbert Grant. At this time Cuthbert Grant of Quebec was dead, and Cuthbert Grant the Nor’-Wester was dying in the West.

7. Simon McTavish et al, plaintiffs, vs Samuel Gerrard, defendant, in the Court of the King’s Bench, Montreal, October term, 1799. (Old Court House, Montreal).

8. J.B. Perrault, Narrative (Mich Pioneer and Historical Collections, Vol 37. 1909-10, 516).

9. For an account of the life of Cuthbert Grant the Younger, see M. Complin. “The Warden of the Plains” (Can. Geog. Journal, August, 1934). I am also greatly indebted to Mrs A.N. McLeod of Winnipeg, who has made an exhaustive study of his career.

10. Last Will and Testament of Cuthbert Grant, Montreal, November 13, 1822 (Old Court House, Montreal)

11. B Wilson, The Life of Lord Strathcona (London 1915) 286

12. Letter from Dr F.J. Audet, Public Archives of Canada, May 26, 1936

13. A. and H. Tayler, Jacobites of Aberdeenshire and Banffshire in the Forty-five (Aberdeen, 1928), 286

14. Commissariat Records of Moray, Testaments, Vol 4, f. 342 (General Register House, Aberdeen).

15. Judicial Archives, Palais de Justice, Quebec.

16. D.S. Robertson (ed.), An Englishman in America, 1785 (Toronto, 1933), 127.

17. Marriage contract of William Grant and Genevieve Forbes, dated Three Rivers, February 27, 1777 (Court House, Three Rivers).

18. I am indebted for the correct date of the death of the death of William Grant of Three Rivers, which is incorrectly given in the appendix to my Documents Relating to the North West Company (Toronto 1934), to my friend Mr. A. St. L. Trigge of Melbourne. Que., who discovered for me in the old Protestant cemetery of Sorel the actual tombstone of William Grant of Three Rivers. Mr Trigges ancestors were connected by marriage with Charles Grant of Quebec; and I cannot acknowledge too warmly the help he has given me in my attempt to untangle the relationships of the representatives of the clan Grant in Canada.

19. For this information I am indebted to Mr Frederick J. Shaw, of Oakland, California, whose wife is a direct descendant of Richard Grant of Fort Hall and William Grant of Three Rivers.

20. A. and H. Taylor, op. cit., 286

21. The story of the opposition of “the Grants” to the North West Company is to be found in C.M. Gates (ed.,) Five Fur Traders of the Northwest (Minneapolis, Minn., 1933) 94-5 and in A.S. Morton, The Journal of Duncan M’Gillivray (Toronto, 1929), passim.

22. Strathcona Papers (General Register House, Edinburgh).

23. My informants here are Mr. F.J. Shaw and Mrs A.N. MacLeod.

24. W.S. Wallace, An Unwritten Chapter of the Fur Trade” (Trans. Roy. Soc. Can. 1939).

25. W.S. Wallace (ed.), Documents Relating to the North West Company (Toronto 1934). 105.

26. For this information I am indebted to Mr James Cameron, of Collingwood, Ontario.


They Left Their Mark

Excerpts from They Left Their Mark. Surveyors and Their Role in the Settlement of Ontario
Ladell, John l., 1924-
Dundurn Press Limited, Toronto, 1993

[p 94-5]

The act of 1785 required, in very general terms, that prospective surveyors be examined by the surveyor general. Such examinations were, of necessity, cursory in early days, indeed if they were carried out at all. But Simcoe, who could not abide incompetence, took what may be thought of as the first steps towards formalizing such examinations. On his way up to Newark in 1792, Simcoe ordered Chewett to examine Lewis Grant.  Grant must have been the first land surveyor whose commission applied specifically to Upper Canada. The examination lasted three days, from 25 to 27 August 1792, and was conducted on the “Grand River, in the County of Stormont.” Chewett’s report on Lewis, addressed to Simcoe, gives us a good idea of what was required of a land surveyor at the time and the instruments he was likely to use:

“I have examined [wrote Chewett] Mr. Lewis Grant … viz.:
  In the necessary parts of arithmetic.
  In the necessary parts of geometry and trigonometry.
  In the necessary parts of surveying, such as:
    Viz. – Surveying a regular or irregular field by the circumferentor
    or chain, and finding the contents of the same.
    Surveying a small river on the ice, and protracting the same, by the
    theodolite and traverse table.
    Surveying a large river, intersecting its opposite side, and
    protracting the same by the theodolite and traverse table.
    Surveying and laying out a township, regular and irregular, and
    protracting the same, by the theodolite, travers table and sector.
    In fixing a meridian, and finding the variation of the compass.
    In finding the latitude by the sun’s meridian altitude.
    In levelling, for the purpose of making aqueducts, etc., etc.
      W. Chewett
      Act. Surv. Gen.” (7)

Shortly after Grant was given his commission, John Stegman reappeared on the surveying scene.

[p 98]

Late in July 1793 Mrs. Simcoe arrived from Newark to join her husband in Toronto. The following Sunday, the couple went exploring. Walking on the “Peninsula” they came across “Mr. Grant’s [the surveyor’s] boat. It was not much larger than a canoe but we ventured into it & after rowing a mile we came within sight of what is named in the map the high lands of Toronto.  The shore is extremenly bold & has the appearance of chalk cliffs but I believe they are only white sand. They appeared so well that we talked of building a summer residence there and calling it Scarborough.” (15) And so the Scarborough Bluffs and Scarborough itself were named.

[p 108]

According to an official list dated 25 April 1805, there were then fourteen deputy surveyors in the province (see appendix A). Interestingly enough, Augustus Jones’s name is on the list, persona non grata as he apparently was. The others, in no particular order, were William Fortune (nearing the end of his life), his son Joseph, Abraham Iredell,  Thomas Welch, Lewis Grant, Richard Cockerell, Henry Smith, John Ryder, Aaron Greeley, Thomas Fraser, Reuben Sherwood, Solomon Stevens, and Samuel Wilmot.


(7)  George Kirkpatrick, ‘President’s Address,” in APLS, 1887.
(15) Innis, Mrs. Simcoe’s Diary, 102.


Will, 1855 SEP 24

Last Will and Testament, Lewis Grant, 24 September 1855

UNITED COUNTIES OF LEEDS AND GREN- } BY George Malloch Esquire, Judge of said Court.
VILLE } TO Lewis Grant of the Township of South
Gower in the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, yeoman
and Daniel Grant of the Township of Edwardsburgh in the said
United Counties, Miller,

Whereas, Lewis Grant late of
the Township of Edwardsburgh aforesaid
in the said United Counties Esquire deceased, lately died, but before his
decease, duly made and published his last WILL and TESTAMENT in writing, bearing
date the twenty first day of April in the year of our Lord One
Thousand Eight Hundred and Fifty three and thereby appointed the said
Lewis Grant and Daniel Grant
Executors of his said WILL and TESTAMENT, proof of the due Execution of the said
WILL having be made in common form, and the Oath of Executor having been adminis-
tered to the said Lewis Grant and Daniel Grant,
THIS PROBATE is granted to them with a copy of the said Will annexed.
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have caused the seal of said Court to be hereunto
affixed at the Town of Brockville, in the said United Counties, this twenty fourth
day of September in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and

James [???] } W Malloch
Reg [???] } Judge County Court

[Page break]

This is the last will and testament of me Lewis
Grant of the Township of Edwardsburgh Esquire
I give and bequeth to my son Lewis Grant eighty-four
pounds currency -- I give and bequeth to my son
Daniel Grant his heirs and assigns my Farm in the
Township of Edwardsburgh Upper Canada, being part
of lots number seven and eight in the ninth concession
of the said Township with my Mills and other buildings
thereon erected, on condition of his paying to his sister
Nancy Fifty pounds curr/y in two years after my
death in stock or grain; and paying his Mother an
annuity of Thirty pounds curr/y per year on the first
day of January of each and every year during her
life my widow to keep the Mills and farm in
security for the due payment of her annuity ---
I give and bequeth to my son Alexander Grant
Twenty four pounds curr/y --- I give and bequeth
to my daughter Nancy Fifty pounds curr/y to be paid
by my son Daniel Grant in stock or grain in two
years after my death ---
I give and bequeth to my daughter Polly Thirteen
pounds curr/y ---
I give and bequeth to my daughter Rachel Sixty
one pounds curr/y ---
My household furniture I give and bequeth to
my dear wife Anna Grant as also an annuity
of fifty pounds curr/y to be paid to her by my son
Daniel Grant on the first day of January of each
and every year during her life and my widow to keep
my Farm and Mills in security for the regular pay=
=ment of her annuity --- The remainder of my pro=
=perty, I give and bequeth to my sons Lewis, Daniel,
Alexander and Allan to be equally divided between
them or the survivors of them, and I hereby appoint
my Sons Lewis Grant and Daniel Grant executors

[Page break]

of this my last will and testament, and I
hereby empower and direct my said executors to sell
or dispose of any landed property that I have at the
time of my death and [to?] divided the price amonge
my children agreeable to this my last will and to
give deeds for the Farms I have sold when fully paid
for ---
And finally I hereby revoke and make void all other
wills and testaments by me made at any time heretofore --
Witness my hand and seal at Edwardsburgh this Twenty
first of April in the year one thousand eight hundred
and Fifty three signed } Lewis Grant (LG)
Signed Sealed and declared by }
the said testator Lewis Grant as }
his last Will and testament in }
our presence and in his presence }
and presence of each other who at his }
request have signed our names as }
witnesses -- The [???] year in the thirty }
first line first page interlined }
Signed } Benjamin McFadden
Signed } William H Bush
Signed } Laura Almira Pratt

I certify that a Memorial of the within Will was registered
in the Registry Office for the County of Grenville at four of the
clock in the afternoon of the twentieth day of June in the year
of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty five in
[Liber?] B for the Township of Edwardsburgh, Memorial at 99
pages 80 & 81 Signed } S. S. Warner Deputy Register
County of Grenville


Probate, 1827

At Elgin the Twentieth day of April one thousand
eight hundred and twenty seven Years In presence
of Sir George Abercromby of Berkenbog Baronet
Advocate Commissary of the Commisariot of
Elgin and Nairn Compeared Patrick Cameron
Writer in Elgin and gave in the Inventory
underwritten desiring [etc?] whereof the tenor
follows viz --

Inventory of the Personal Estate of the deceased
Thomas Grant Esquire at Gladhill who died
upon the 12th day of January 1827 --

Imprimis Cash in the House F30
Value carry forward F30

[Page Break]
brought forward F30

Secundo Value of the deceased's household furniture, bed and
Table Linen Body clothes etc [??] 113.10.
Tertis Value of the deceased's farm Stocking etc on Gladhill
of valuation by John Hay Auctioneer and Cosmo
Reid Farmer at Entryhead of Innes 178.14.3
Quarto Bond by His Grace the Duke of Gordon to the
deceased his heirs Executors and Assignees
dated 4 Decem 1810 for F2600. .
Interest thereon from 22 Novem last
till his death 18.3.3 2615.3.3
Quinto Bill by His Grace the Duke of Gordon to the
deceased dated 22 Nov 1819 for F1400..
Interest thereon from 22 Novem last
till his death 9.15.6 1419.15.6
Secto Bill by the deceased Sir James Grant of Grant
Baronet to the deceased dated 20 June 1810 F1620
Septimo Obligation by John Fraser Esq Cashier
for The Honourable Colonel Grant of
Grant Curator at Law for The Earl of
Seafield the representative of the said
Sir James Grant dated 27 Nov last F80
Interest thereof from that date till
Mr Grant's death 10.14.2 1710.14.2
Octavo Acknowledgement by the deceased John Wilson
Esquire Factor for the late Earl of Seafield
to the deceased dated 7 Novem 1812 F400
Interest thereof from 27 Novem last till
his death 2.10.4 402.10.4
Nono Bill by the deceased Major General William Grant
of Tannachy dated 14 June 1824 F500
Note of this sum F100 was held in trust
by the deceased for his Sister Elizabeth Grant
conform to his Letter to her ............... 100
Interest carry forward 400 6463.7.6

[Page break]
brought forward F6463.7.6
Interest therefore of F400 from 20 June
last till his death 8.9.10 408.9.16
Decimo Bill by James Grant Esquire now of Tannachy to
the deceased dated 26 July 1826 F350
of this Bill F100 also belonged to
the said Miss Grant 100
Interest of F250 from 26th July last 5.16.4 255.16.4
Undecimo Bill by John Morrison Esq of Achintaul to
the deceased dated 20 June 1820 for F1100
Interest from 20 Decem last till
12 January 3.9.3 1103.9.3
Duodecimo Bill by Patrick Stewart Esquire of Auchtunkast
to the deceased dated 19 June 1818 F200
Interest from 20 June till deceased's
death 5.12.10 205.12.10

(Signed) Eliza Grant - Pat Cameron F8436.15.9

At Gladhill the nineteenth day of April one
thousand eight hundred and twenty seven
In presence of Patrick Cameron Writer in Elgin
Commissioner appointed by the commissary
Depute of Elginshire

Compeared Mrs Elizabeth Grant Widow of the said
deceased Thomas Grant Esquire who being solemnly
sworn and interrogated Depones that the said Thomas
Grant Esquire her husband died upon the twelfth day
of January last and the Deponent has entered upon
the management of his personal Estate as Executrix
nominated by him in his last Will and Testament

[Page break]

dated the Sixth day of July Eighteen hundred and twenty six
and recorded in the Commissary Court Books of Elginshire the
eighth day of March last which is subscribed by the Deponent
and the said commissioner as relative hereto that the Deponent
does not know of any other Settlement or writing relative to the
disposal of the deceased's moveable Estate or effects or any part
of them other than that now exhibited except a Settlement in
the precise same terms as that now exhibited dated the twenty
third day of February Eighteen hundred and ten and which
is also subscribed by the Deponent and the Commissioner as
relative hereto That the foregoing Inventory which is sub=
=scribed by the deponent and the said Commissioner as
relative hereto is a full and complete Inventory of the de=
=ceased's Estate wherever situated and belonging or due to
him beneficially at the time of his death in so far as the
same has come to the deponent's knowledge And that the
value of the said Estate situated in Scotland is of the value
of Eight thousand pounds Sterling and under the value of
nine thousand pounds Sterling -- All which is truth as
the Deponent shall answer to God (signed) Eliza Grant
Pat Cameron Commissioner

* * *


The Testament Testamentar and Inventory of the
goods gear and Debts of the deceased Thomas
Grant Esquire at Gladhill within the Parish of
Urquhart and Sheriffdom of Elgin and Nairn at
the time of his Death which was upon the twelfth
day of January one Thousand Eight hundred and
Twenty Seven years -- faithfully made and given
up by Miss Elizabeth Grant Widow of the said
Deceased and Executrix nominated and appoint=
ed by him in his Latter Will and Testament bearing
date the Sixth Day of July Eighteen Hundred
and Twenty Six and Recorded in the Commissary
Court Books of Elgin and Nairn the Eighth day
of March last. The said Deceased Thomas Grant
Esquire had pertaining and belonging addebted resting
and owing to him at the time of his decease
the goods and gear debts sums of money and

[Page break]


others as follows which the said Executrix
gives up for Confirmation
(Here Copy in the Inventory of the
deceased personal Estate recorded in
the Commissary Court Books of the date hereof)
Summa of the foregoing Inventory
is Eight Thousand Four Hundred
and Thirty Six pounds Fifteen Shil
lings and Nine pence Sterling
(Here copy in the Latter Will and Testa
ment recorded as aforesaid)
Sir George Abercromby of Birkenbog Baronet
Advocate Commissary of the Commissariat
of Elgin and Nairn and George Fenton Esquire
my Depute having power of Confirmation
of Testaments within the bounds of our jurisdic
tion by these presents Ratify Approve and
Confirm this present Inventory and Testament
before written together with the Executrix therein
consituted in so far as the same is justly and
truly made and given up and no other ways
and we by these presents commit full power
to the said Executrix to meddle and intro
mit with the goods and gear debts Sums
of money and others given up and contain

[Page break]


contained in the foregoing Testament and need be
to call and pursue therefore to uplift and
receive the same grant discharges thereof and
generally every other thing [thereanent?] to do that
to the Office of Executrix is known to belong
providing just count and reckoning be made
by the said Executrix when and where the same
shall be legally required Given at Elgin the Twen=
tieth Day of April Eighteen hundred and Twenty
Seven years ---


Entail – Robert Grant, 1801

Copy of Entail (deed) dated 16 May 1801, sent to me by Marjorie Dallas, descendant of Elizabeth Grant, illegitimate daughter of Robert Grant and Hannah Addis, born London c.1788. Robert Grant is the person referred to as “Elchies” in the “news from home” sections of William Grant’s letters to Lewis. Robert Grant’s descendants are now styled the “Grants of Carron.” Marjorie stated that Frederick, Mary and Ann were also children of this couple. Notes in red are mine. Malcolm Grant


Legitimate children by his spouse Isabel Campbell –

Charles (christened 29/4/1786)*
James William (c. 28//8/1788)
Alexander (died young) (c. 7/8/1793)
William (c. 28/10/1794)
Peter (c. 4/11/1795)
Isabel (c. 22/3/1792)
Christian (Christina c. 30/1/1797)

Failing them & their heirs – (These appear to be his illegitimate children)

Frederick Grant, presently a student at the University of Edinburgh (later. A student of Law in London)
Robert Grant in the East India Company’s Civil Service in Bengal
John Grant, late merchant in Halifax, N.S., presently residing in London.
Charlotte Grant, presently residing in my house in London.
Her sister Louisa Grant, also residing in my house in London
Ann, sister of the aforesaid Frederick Grant
Mary Grant, her sister
Elizabeth Grant, her sister

Failing them –

Nephew William Grant, counsel at law (later Sir William Grant, Master of the Rolls in the High Court of Chancery)
Robert Grant, only son of my nephew James Grant, merchant in Quebec, deceased
Nephew Capt John Grant of the 65th Regt of Foot (later Major of the Invalides)
” Thomas Grant, distiller in Quebec
” Charles Grant
” Alexander Donaldson, merchant in Kingston Jamaica
Isabella Grant, eldest daughter of my nephew James Grant, deceased
Sophia Louisa, youngest daughter of the said James Grant
Niece Margaret Grant, spouse of Capt. John Shank of His Majesty’s Navy
” Mary Donaldson, spouse of the Hon. David Anstruther, Lieut., East India Co.
” Ann Donaldson, souse of Peter Cameron, writer in Banff
” Elizabeth Donaldson
” Margaret Donaldson


Old Parish Records – Grant

Last revised: 2 July 2006


1. Parish of Forres, County of Moray (Elgin), 6 July 1820
Grant & Beaton

Lieutenant Lachlan Grant of the Royal Navy, presently residing in
Forres, and Jane Beaton in Knockando, were married July 6th 1820.


2. Parish of Knockando, County of Moray (Elgin), 6 July 1820
Grant & Beaton

Lieutenant Lachlan Grant of the
Royal Navy, in the Parish of Forres
and Jane Beaton in this Parish
were matrimonially contracted and


3. Parish of Aboyne, County of Aberdeen, 2 August 1772

William Grant in Tillylair (Mickle) had a son
baptized called Lewis — before the congregation (unpaid)


4. Parish of Aberlour, County of Banff, 8 May 1776

Lachlan, lawfull Son to Leuitenant William Grant in
Carron & Mrs. Kathrine Grant his Spouse was baptized at
Home in the Parish of Croy[?] by Mr. Barron
Witnesses Elizabeth Grant and Alexander Fraser


Letter, ca 1960

Letter, Eliza Adams to Harry Grant, undated, ca 1957-64
Transcribed by Barbara Grant

Dear Harry & Gertrude

I do hope by now Harry that you are much better than you were. I am very sorry I have been so long in replying but for some time I could not get my thoughts on looking up papers. I am really gaining and will be back to normal soon. It might have been much worse, no bones broken & my eyes all right. All are very well here and we are using our car yet but I have not got back to church but hope to next Sunday. You have certainly put a lot of work & thought on the “Grant papers” and I hope you may get something out of what I am sending & put the rest in the furnace.

In your paper on page 2.

In Aunties book Annie Gurnsey Grant lived about 8 yrs at Grandpa Grant’s after her husband died. And if I remember rightly after Grandfather was married again she moved to Aunt Rachels and Grandpa paid her keep until her death. I remember Mother telling me how badly her father felt about it.

Next year you had better make your visit around this part of the country

Will close with best wishes
   Sincerely, Eliza

P.S. I imagine my papers will be about the same as a Chinese Puzzell. E.

I have not much to offer you Harry as I think you have everything quite complete. I wondered if it would be interesting to know that the frame of the old Grant home was used to build the house your father & mother moved in after their wedding & where you and Earl was born. (where Archie Brown now lives). I expect Lorne & Stanley were born in the stone house. There was quite a lot of change those years. I expect Uncle Wesley built the house where Clarence Brown now lives as he traded places with my father when Grandpa Imrie died & he moved up there & Uncle Wesley lived in the house where you likely remember, until going to Regina.

That stone house where Uncle Wesley lived was always interesting to me as I arrived there in time for dinner July 31, 1880 (This is not for the records)

On page 4: our grandmothers name was just Eliza not Elizabeth & I have a copy of their marriage certificate which I might send you.

Also on page 4. Where you refer to Aaron Montgomery. I did not know of his engraving on the slabs but I was to his grave years ago at Johnstown with my father but of course the marker was gone then. He also painted his own picture by looking in a mirror & mother said Grandmother always said it was just like him. It is oval & in one of the small frames or cases. Did I not show it to you when you were here? I also have a small leather bound book of Psa. & Hymns in which he has written his name and Johnstown, Jan. 12th 1822 (sorry I cannot write as nice as he could). In the back of this leather book is written:
   Aaron C. Montgomery son of Hugh M- and Mary M- Born 25th Sept. 1800
   Sarah M- daughter of Zadok & Sally Pratt Born 15 Feb.1806
**Eliza S. Montgomery Born Nov. 4 1823
   Mary Gilbert Montgomery born 15 Nov. 1825 . I think mother said this little girl died quite young.

** This was my Grandmother.

I have Grandfathers silk stockings –long–& in quite good condition. they are very light color & striped. They also have L.G. & the figure 2 worked in small cross stitch at the top.

Another Montgomery story which might be interesting was a little silver spoon which I have. Auntie gave it to me on my wedding day.

The following I have written about that time as my mother told me.

Mr. & Mrs. Hugh Montgomery had eight silver spoons made in Montreal out of silver dollars. They had two sons Aaron & Archibald who each got four spoons.

Aaron had one daughter Eliza Sarah later Mrs. Daniel Grant of Edwardsburg who got the four spoons. She had four children who each got one. Erastus, Mary Jane & Maria A. & Wesley. Mother gave hers to Jennie. Auntie gave me hers. Auntie also gave me the little rosewood box which had held all the spoons. I don’t know what became of Jennie’s spoon.

Aaron Montgomery had a brother Archibald who lived in U.S.A. Some of his family visited here , a Mrs. Birdsal, also a grandson John Seymour Montgomery came to our home in Ventnor about 1906. His wife was Roselle Mercier Montgomery. I have a book of her poems called “Ulysses Returns” which they sent to Mother in 1930. Occasionally her poems were in magazines. He was a lawyer in New York City and had his home outside city on the Hudson. They had two children. John Seymour Montgomery Jr. and Roselle Mercier Montgomery, later Mrs. Burpee. I received an invitation later to her wedding — but did not go. After her wedding she wrote but as the years passed we lost trace of her. Perhaps this will not be interesting but I thought perhaps you would include Archibald’s name as Aaron’s brother.

Where you have Allen (Daniel’s brother) Grant’s name; he married twice.

1) Rachel Adams — one son Lachlan (who lived in Shanly)

2) Eliza Bennet; children were Lewis & Robert & Samuel. Lewis had no family but Sam’s son (one Ray) & family still live there; another son Allen married Grace Robinson and lives in Prescott.

Did the three “Grant daughters” marry Christies? I remember Aunt Nancy & know her husband was Thomas as I have their pictures. Also I remember Mother speaking of Uncle Archie.

Taken from Auntie’s book:

In the fall of 1859 the Rev. D. C. McDowell held revival services in Grandfather Gurnseys house upstairs, before there were any churches in South Mountain. Also she said there were no churches in Ventnor Heckston or South Mountain in 1854.

Our church at Ventnor was built about 1880.

I remember the old Gurnsey house very well, it was still standing when I went down with my mother & she told me about it being done off for services. (Eliza)