Archibald McKinlay

Archibald McKinlay was born in 1811 in Killin, Perthshire, Scotland. He entered the service of the Hudson's Bay Company as an apprentice clerk at York Factory in 1832. His service with the Hudson’s Bay company includes: Clerk in charge of the Forks, Red River Settlement, 1834; Columbia District, 1835; Clerk, New Caledonia District, 1836 to 1838; Clerk, Bona Ventura expedition, 1839 to 1840; Clerk in charge of Fort Walla Walla, 1841 to 1846; Chief trader and charge of Wallamette Falls 1846. He was on leave from 1849 to 1850 and retired from the HBC in 1851 remaining in Oregan with his wife Sarah Julia Ogden, daughter of Peter Skene Ogden, whom he married in June 1840 and their five children.

After his HBC service he created the firm of Allan, McKinlay & Co. in Oregon City with G.T. Allan and Thomas Lowe. They operated as an agent of the HBC in Willamette Falls until severe flooding in December 1860 left the business in ruins. In 1862 McKinlay moved his family to Lac La Hache, where Sarah’s father Ogden had settled, and pre-empted 160 acres of land. They established a ranch and Roadhouse at 115 Mile that catered to travellers moving through on the Cariboo Road.

In 1876 he was named as one of the commissioners of the Joint Indian Reserve Commission, along with A.C.Anderson and G.M.Sproat. McKinlay was the provincial representative. He was not supportive of the Dominion’s involvement in the commission as he felt that it was the province who had the right to allocate the land rather than the Dominion. In his commission diary he complained about Anderson, the Dominion representative, not listening to his provincial address when meeting with Native leaders. He also strongly disagreed with his fellow commissioners when they sided with the Okanagan people when two ranchers O’Keefe and Greenhow had illegally pre-empted land at the north end of Okanagan Lake. Sproat granted the land to the Okanagan’s for their reserve. McKinlay had privately instructed the ranchers not to cooperate with the commission. McKinlay, a settler himself, placed the settlers interests ahead of the Okanagan’s reserve needs. The JIRC was disbanded and reduced to a single commission with G.M. Sproat in 1878.

McKinlay returned to his ranch at 115 Mile. Ironically, when preparing for retirement McKinlay requested a survey of his property and found that his pre-emption had never been registered. He had submitted the papers to Judge Baily Begbie but they were never processed. He also neglected to apply for a certificate of improvement which is the next necessary step. In 1878 a Crown land grant for 700 acres was issued October 17, 1878 thus resolving the issue. He lost his eldest son James when he was robbed and murdered on his return trip from the coast where he had sold a band of horses. He spent later retirement years with his wife at their daughter Darah Fergason’s at Savona BC. until his death in 1919.


  1. Harris, Cole. Making Native Space. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2002.
  2. McKinlay, Archibald and Hubert Howe Bancroft. "Narrative of a Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company." BC Archives, 1878.
  3. Patenaude, Branwen C. Trails to Gold Volume 2. Victoria: Horsdal & Schubart, 1995.
  4. Patenaude, Branwen Golden Nuggets: Roadhouse Portrait’s Along the Cariboo Gold Rush. Surrey: Heritage House, 1998.
  5. Biographical sketch of Archibald McKinlay. Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, Archives of Manitoba Keystone Archives Descriptive Database.