I just finished writing a brief biography on what I know about Alexander Wilkie which is what follows. I don't know where he came from in Scotland. I know that he came to Canada sometime between March 1, 1799 and April 29, 1800, probably closer to the latter date. I don't know if the Canadian passenger lists are indexed somewhere. Ancestry.com has indexed the passenger lists from ships arriving at American ports; I don't know if they have the Canadian arrivals indexed. A passenger list may indicate the port from which his ship sailed and might even tell where he came from. Those are my suggestions if you really want to try to locate him.
If you have any additional info than what I have in this bio, please share it with me. Thanks, Holly
About 1779 to ? (maybe died 1810-1818)
A Brief Biography by Holly Morgan Solie,
Alexander Wilkie was born in Scotland and was recruited to come to Canada to work in the fur trade by the Northwest Company (1). I would estimate his birthdate to bearound 1779. Most of the Scottish young men recruited to work in the fur trade industry by the Hudson’s Bay Company came from the impoverished Orkney Islands, northeast of Scotland. They were hired young, before the age of 21 (2).Whether the Northwest Company had the same recruiting locations and practices, I am not sure. The fact that Alexander Wilkie had been educated to read and write makes me wonder whether he was from a more wealthy family and not from the impoverished Orkney Islands.
Wilkie is a very old, hereditary name in England, derived from the name William. There is a Wilkie Coat of Arms. The Wilkies lived at Rathobyres, Edinberg County, Scotland at the beginning of the 1300’s and later in the town of Ratho in the 1500’s (3).It is quite possible that our Alexander Wilkie descends from this family.
I have a copy of his handwritten contract with the Northwest Company, which my dad and I have transcribed. It indicates that he had entered into a verbal agreement with the Northwest Company in Scotland in March 1, 1799. He signed the contract in Montreal on April 29, 1800. It basically stipulated that the company would pay for his passage andliving costs, and that he was indentured to work for the Northwest Company until 1806 at which time he would be paid ninety pounds of sterling minus the advance of 12 pounds 5 shillings of sterling (1).He signed his own name and worked as a clerk so we know he was literate.
He is listed in the documents of the Northwest Companyfor 1804 at Le Bas de la Riviere Rouge (Red River) as Commis [Clerk, I presume] et Interpretes, as part of the Lower Red River Department in 1805, and as a clerk in the Lower Red River in 1806(4)(5).Alexander Henry recorded that Alexander Wilkie was in Portage La Prairie post in the winter of 1803-04, at Dog Lake in the winter of 1804-5, and at Fort Dauph. Mount. in 1805&6. These were all posts of the Lower Red River Department of the Northwest Company. In the fall of 1805 Alexander Henry’s Journal records that Wilkie together with St. Germain was dispatched from the Northwest Company post at Pembina to Prairie an Longue in the fall of 1805. In another entry he reported that Wilkie had arrived at Pembina from Portage la Prairie on the February 17, 1806 (6).
Alexander Wilkie married a Chippewa Native American woman Josephte Mijakammikijikok (7), probably around 1802. Their son Jean Baptiste said she was from Minnesota (8). There are no documents (that I know of) to show that the marriage was ever official in terms of British law or the church; I presume the marriagewas according to whatever Native North American customs prevailed in the area. The white fur traders often took on Indian wives who were familiar with what it took to survive in the harsh, wild environment of this area of Canada. His son Jean Baptiste Wilkie was born at Pembina in 1803.
Henry notes on June 10, 1806 that Wilkie was one of the passengers accompanying the brigade of canoes from Bas de la Riviere to Kaministiquia (Fort William) (6). According to the terms of his contract, he was free at his return at the Grand Portage in 1806 (1).
What happened to Alexander Wilkie after this, I do not know. Did he die an early death? Did he return to Scotland? His son Jean Baptiste Wilkie is said to have been raised among the French (8). Is this because his father was not there or just because there were so many more French Metis? An unsourced family tree at Ancestry.com lists other children of Alexander and Josephte Mijakammikijikok (Mezhekamakuikok) as Mary born in 1802, Elisabeth born in 1809, and Marie Angelique born in 1810. If this is true, then Alexander Wilkie remained in the area at least until 1810.But what happened to him is a mystery.He is the progenitor of all the Metis Wilkies (as far as I know), through his son Jean Baptiste Wilkie.Josephte Mijakammikijikok married Jean Baptiste Davis in 1819 (7), so Alexander is dead or gone by that time.
As an aside, Fort William in Thunder Bay, Ontario is now a restored fur trading fort with costumed characters interpreting the life of the fur trading post during this time period. We visited it when the boys were quite young and they loved it. I highly recommend it.
1. Northwest Company Contract with Alexander Wilkie, dated April 29, 1800, obtained from La Societe historique de Saint-Boniface, Saint Boniface, Manitoba.
2. The Genealogy of the First Metis Nation.
3. Wilkey, Hubert Weldon, 1976. Baltimore: Gateway Press, Inc., p. 2.
4. De la Compagnie du Nord-Quest.
5. Wallace. Documents related to the Northwest Company.
6. Henry, Alexander. Journal
7. Genealogy provided by La Societe historique de Saint-Boniface, genealogy of Francoise Berger (her mother's line), Provided in a letter dated Nov. 7, 1996.(not sourced)
8. 1880 US Census, Dakota, Pembina County, 128th enumeration district. (Jean Baptiste Wilkie gives his mother’s birthplace as Minnesota.)
9. Ross, Alexander, 1856. The Red River Settlement: Its Rise, Progress, and Present State… London: Smith, Elder and Co., (Reprinted by Ross and Haines, Inc. Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1957 and by Hurtig Publishers, Edmonton, 1972), p. 248
The Northwest Company Contract of Alexander Wilkie
(As best my dad Leonard Morgan and I, Holly Solie could decifer, no easy task)
29th April 1800
Forsyth Richardson and Co
Clerk in the Northwest
Trade of Upper Canada
Before these undersigned Public Notaries residing
in the City of Montreal in the Province of Lower Canada
Personally came and appeared Alexander Wilkie
who voluntarily did and hereby doth Bind & Engage
himself to Miss’rs Forsyth Richardson and Co Merchants
Carrying on Trade in the Northwest or Interior Countries
of Upper Canada in the Capacity of a Clerk in the said
Northwest Trade to Serve and go from hence wheresoever
There unto required in any part of the Indian or Interior
Countries where they Carry on trade as he the said
Clerk from time to time shall be ordered and directed
by them or such person or persons as shall there
represent their Persons or to whom they may assign
There presents (sic) and there commission services for the
remainder of the term of Seven Years to be reckoned
and computed from the first day of March which was
in the Year One thousand Seven Hundred and ninety
Nine of the commencement of his Verbal agreement
in Scotland from whence to this Country his passage
and Necessary Expenses have been Defrayed by the
Said Forsyth Richardon and Co from thence to be
Compleat [sic] and ended at this return at the Grand Portage
in the Year One thousand eight hundred and Six
when he shall be Free there. He doth faithfully
Promise him and engage himself during the Term
aforesaid to obey such person or persons as shall Represent
the said Forsyth Richardson and Co or such Person as
shall be arbitrated for the same in all their Just & Lawful
Commands their Secrets keep & to exert himself
to the Utmost of his Skill, power, knowledge, & under-
standing in the said Capacity and to Conform to all the
the Customary rules and legalities as Established in the
said Countries and Trade and Acquaint them with
everything that comes to his knowledge that may
Injure,prejudice or in any wise hurt the Interest of
their Trade in any respect whatsoever, and shall not
do nor Sufferbe done by others any wrong without
giving immediate Notice thereof to some of the Partners
concernedor one of their representatives. The Good
Peltries and everything else that shall be Entrusted
to his Care he had not either Embellish lend or waste
but at all times just true and Lawful Accounts keep
and render of what he shall receive and pay in the
Course of Trade and in all things Act Conduct and
behave himself as a good and faithful Clerk in the
said Trade ought to do, and not depart nor absent
himself from the said employ nor from such Post
as shall be appointed to him without leave to him
given by such person or persons as shall have right
to do so. In consideration of which is Services
to do work and faithfully done and performed on the
part and behalf of the said Alexander Wilkie, They the
said Forsyth Richardson and Co by John Richardsons
Esquire one of the Partners of the said Firm being present
and in theirnames and behalf accepting those presenting
do Promise Bind and oblige themselves their heirs
and assigned to pay or Cause to be paid unto the said
Alexander Wilkie his heirs or assigned at the Expiration
of the said term The sum of Ninety pounds Sterling
Money of GreatBritain For the said Seven Years
Service. Also to find and Provide for the said Clerk
Meat, Drink and Clothing and all other Necessities as
as is or are Customary and Usually found and
to such Clerk in the said Northwest Trade and
Interior Countries. The said Alexander Wilkie
doth acknowledge to have received in advance and
in deduction of the above said Sum of Ninety pounds
Sterling the Sum of Twelve ounds five shilling
For this vol. & Promising, Vol. & Binding, Vol &
Renouncing and Done and passed at the Montreal
aforesaid in the office of John Gorbi and Beek Notary
In the Twenty ninth day of April in the Year One
Thousand eight hundred and Signed the Parties present
With Us Notaries after being duly read.