Mackintosh: Ruler of Moy Hall
Dr. Trevor Price, Political Science, University of Windsor
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
First Apartment House