MacTavish Places & People

Clan MacTavish People

Simon McTavish

Simon McTavish (1750 – 1804)
Scots-Quebecer entrepreneur and the pre-eminent businessman in Canada during the second half of the 18th century. Born in Stratherrick, near Loch Ness, Inverness. Though his family was well-connected in the Highlands, prospects there were poor, and in 1764, at the age of thirteen, young Simon accompanied his sister and brother-in-law to the colony of New York. Once there, he quickly recognized the opportunity offered by the fur trade at Detroit, made a few key contacts, and by 1769 was actively involved in the industry.

Over the next few years, McTavish prospered in the trading of furs, and in 1773, with a new partner, James Bannerman, he extended his operations to Grand Portage on Lake Superior. By the end of the war, he was able to put together a group of business investors and trapper/explorers to create the North West Company. With the Frobisher brothers he owned 37.5% of the company’s shares and upon the death of Benjamin Frobisher in 1787 McTavish became the man in charge of the business Over the next sixteen years McTavish built a business empire that stretched from the Labrador coast to the Rocky Mountains and in the process made himself a wealthy man.

In October 1793 Simon McTavish married Marie-Marguerite Chaboillez, daughter of an established French Trader. Directly after the marriage, they moved to London. During his time in Britain, Simon McTavish had befriended the chief of clan McTavish, and on the chief’s death, Simon brought one of the sons into the North West Company. In 1799, McTavish acquired the Dunardary estate in North Knapdale, Argyll, Scotland which had been the ancestral home for the heads of the McTavish (MacTavish) clan for several hundred years.

Simon McTavish died in Montreal in 1804.