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In the Shadow of Cairngorm
Distinguished Career of an Abernethy Man


John Stuart was horn at Leanchoil (or Lenachyle) in 1767. He was the son of Donald Stuart of Leauchoil and of his spouse Janet Grant, daughter of Robert Grant of Wester Lethendry, in the Parish of Cromdale. At an early age he got a commission in the Royal Engineers, but as two of his uncles were partners of the NorthWest Company—then the largest fur-trading corporation of Canada—he was induced to enter the service of that Company, and with that view proceeded to British North America. He was a man of much intelligence, great firmness of character, and indomitable perseverance, and for upwards of 40 years was connected with that Company and with the Hudson’s Bay Company, with which it coalesced in 1821. He was one of the principal partners of the North-West Company, and in 1821 became a Chief Factor of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Throughout the whole of his residence in North America he was most actively engaged, having been in charge of several districts from the Pacific Coast to Hudson’s Bay. In 1808 he acompanied Simon Fraser (whose name he gave to that river) down Fraser’s River almost to the Pacific. He subsequently surveyed the river to its mouth, making a chart of it, which is given in the very interesting work "Manuscript Journals of Alexander Henry, 1799 to 1814," edited by Dr Elliot Couse, and published in 1897. Stuart’s Lake and Stuart’s River, in New Caledonia, now a portion of British Columbia, are named after him, and also Stuart or Stewart River in the Yukon. Mr Stuart retired from the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1839, and died at Springfield, Moray-shire, on the 14th January, 1847. Not a little of the success of the North-West Company was due to his energy and unceasing efforts. He was a man of much generosity of character and unbounded hospitality, and was greatly respected by all his friends both while actively engaged in North America, and when he retired to his native country. He married while in America, and had two sons, Donald and John, who both died comparatively young, the former having been a Lieutenant in Her Majesty’s 78th Regiment of Highlanders, and one of those who took part in the Crimean war.

Mr John Stuart’s brother, Robert Stuart, was also a partner of the North-West Company, and one who doubtless, but for his early death, would have made a foremost place for himself in that Corporation. The story of his heroic death is told in Chapter xxxii. p. 243.


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