Alexander Ross (1783 - 1856)

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Birthplace: Morayshire, Scotland
Death: Died
Managed by: NF
Last Updated:
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About Alexander Ross

ALEXANDER ROSS (1783-1856)

Born in the Scottish Highlands, schoolteacher Alexander Ross immigrated to Canada’s St. Lawrence River Valley in 1804. Befriended by fellow Scot Alexander McKay, a veteran Montreal-based fur trader, both men found work in American John Jacob Astor’s boldly conceived Pacific Fur Company enterprise in 1810 [The Oregon Encyclopedia]

The two voyaged around the Horn on the Tonquin, arriving at the mouth of the Columbia in March 1811. Ross, engaged as a clerk, remained to help build Fort Astoria, while McKay sailed on the doomed ship to commence trade with the Natives of Vancouver Island, a trip that ended with the death of all aboard. As a result, Astor’s plans for a transcontinental, trans-Pacific fur-trade empire were crippled [The Oregon Encyclopedia]

Ross was sent more than 400 miles up the Columbia to establish a trading post at the mouth of the Okanogan River. There he married a local Indian woman named Sarah, or Sally. They had a large family and remained devoted partners for the rest of Ross’s life [The Oregon Encyclopedia]

In 1825 Alexander Ross retired to the Red River Settlement in Manitoba. In his later years he wrote three autobiographical books, Adventures of the First Settlers on the Oregon and Columbia Rivers (1849), The Fur Hunters of the Far West (1855), and The Red River Settlement (1856). This made him the pre-Confederation Northwest’s most prolific author, and its finest as well. He may also have written the novel Selma: A Tale of the Sixth Crusade (1839). He died on 23 October 1856. He is commemorated in Winnipeg by Ross Avenue and the former Alexander Ross School [Memorable Manitobans]

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Alexander Ross's Timeline

May 9, 1783
Morayshire, Scotland
Age 41
Columbia River Region
October 23, 1856
Age 73