The significance of Highlanders in the development of the Canadian West

  • Cathal Stewart De Lima Hutchinson

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Literature (awarded by UHI/Aberdeen)


When Alexander Mackenzie, a 28-year-old fur trader from the Highlands of
Scotland, inscribed his initials on a rock in Bella Coola in 1793, in what is now
Pacific Coast British Columbia (BC), it signalled the beginning of a new
transcontinental era in the Canadian fur trade. Ninety-three years later, Donald
Alexander Smith, a descendant of Clan Grant, drove the final spike into the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) at Craigellachie, British Columbia, and completed the line which made the West accessible to settlement, securing its place in the Confederation of Canada. Scottish Highlanders were a distinct and influential group throughout the progress of Canada from a colony to a nation, and nowhere was their involvement more pronounced than in the exploration and development of the West. They featured prominently amongst the ranks of Canadian fur traders and explorers, rail contractors and politicians. This dissertation examines the effect that an origin in the Highlands had on the experiences of seven successful entrepreneurs, who were active from the late eighteenth century through to the early twentieth century.
Date of Award28 Jun 2008
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Aberdeen
SupervisorJames Hunter (Supervisor) & Marjory Harper (Supervisor)

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