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Photo: James Sinclair (courtesy B.C. Archives)

James Sinclair


In 1841 James Sinclair, a University of Edinburgh educated leader of the Red River Metis, led a party of emigrants from the Red River Colony in present day Manitoba to Oregon. The journey was instigated by George Simpson, governor of the Hudson Bay Company, in order to reinforce the British and Hudson Bay Company's presence in the area.

The party was made up of 23 Metis families totalling 121 people, including a 75 year old man and babies born during the trip. They travelled first to Fort Edmonton and then proceeded south to enter the mountains at Devil's Gap. They travelled along the south side of Lake Minnewanka, over a pass between Mount PeecheePrincess Margaret MountainHa Ling PeakMount RundleWhite Man Pass, descended the Cross River to the Kootenay River from which they crossed Sinclair Pass (below Mount SinclairNorth Kananaskis Pass, a remarkable accomplishment although te route turned out to be much lengthier than that followed in 1841.

Sadly, James Sinclair was shot and killed in 1856 when Indians attacked an American post on the Columbia River that he happened to be visiting.