life and times
hiram who
birth of the auto
border cities
sports heritage


Angus Mackintosh: Ruler of Moy Hall

By Dr. Trevor Price, Political Science, University of Windsor

Why is the beaver widely regarded as the national symbol of Canada? Because its fur was once in great demand. When the French first came to the shores of the St. Lawrence River and met the native peoples they were greeted with enthusiasm since the Indians were anxious to trade furs (including beaver) for goods of European manufacture. This trade came to dominate the relations between Europeans and the native peoples of eastern North America during the 17th and 18th centuries. It influenced the patterns of exploration, the conflicts between natives and Europeans as well as the global conflict between Britain and France.

moyhall.jpgThe French and their allies - the Huron Indians, gained access via the St. Lawrence to the major fur bearing territories of North America on the Canadian Shield. The British were able to out-flank the French by establishing trading posts in Hudson Bay, closer to the sources of the fur-bearing animals in Western Canada. The French responded by penetrating further into the Midwest into what we now know as the Great Lakes and from there down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

The great French explorer - Samuel de Champlain who pioneered the Ottawa Valley Route into Lake Huron, led much of this exploration. Having obtained an overview of the dimensions of the Great Lakes, the French established key fortifications at such strategic locations as Niagara, Michilimacinac and Detroit.

Detroit was an especially favoured settlement because it had a moderate climate, fertile land, and was a key link between the upper and lower Lakes, as well as a Garrison, which could threaten Anglo American penetration into the Midwest.

The British conquest of New France in 1760 gave control of the Midwest to Britain. Detroit became a British outpost and, as in the time of French rule, Detroit naturally focused on Montreal as the center of fur-trading enterprise. In Montreal, the French were replaced mainly by Scots and English traders who created the Northwest Company to compete with the Hudson's Bay Company.

Angus Mackintosh was one of the Scots traders who arrived in Detroit around 1787. He was originally from Inverness, Scotland, where his family had suffered from supporting the Jacobite cause in the 1745 rebellion against the Hanoverian monarchy of Britain. Mackintosh became a partner with other traders in the fur trade and prospered.

In 1796 the British agreed to evacuate the post at Detroit since Michigan and the rest of the Northwest Territories was allocated to the Americans by the treaty of Paris of 1783, at the conclusion of the war of Independence. Macintosh was faced with the choice of staying on the U.S. side of the Detroit River or crossing to Upper Canada which remained under British rule. In 1797 he purchased a tract of land just west of the site of present day Hiram Walker's. There he constructed a large wood frame building, which he completed by 1799. This became the focus of fur trading along the Detroit River and Macintosh himself became the chief representative of the Northwest company in this area and as such a figure of some prominence.

Although Macintosh and his enterprise at Moy Hall (named for the ancestral home of the clan Mackintosh in Scotland) is not sufficiently esteemed today for its local economic significance, it may be considered in many ways to be the forerunner of economic activity and wider trading relationships on the Canadian side of the Detroit River.

Moy Hall was a centre for the distribution of all kinds of trading goods such as blankets, kettles, tomahawks, knives, liquor and firearms. Macintosh traded with local farmers for grain and meat products, which were used in the fur trade to supply such an important link as Fort William at the head of the Great Lakes. Whisky distilling and the making of highwines (brandy) served to create products of higher value in relation to their volume as compared to trading the much bulkier and less valuable grains. This was important when distances were great and all goods had to be transported by canoe over water.

Macintosh was also responsible for beginning a shipbuilding industry in the Walkerville locality when he brought the Jenkins family in to construct some of the earliest sailing vessels on the Great Lakes.

Mackintosh stayed in this area until 1828, when he was called back to Moy Hall in Scotland, after the death of his elder brother. Moy Hall was demolished in 1912 to provide room for new residential development.

Walkerville's First Apartment House



©1999-2015— Walkerville Publishing — All Rights Reserved