Sir Alexander Mackenzie
Along the exterior of the Legislative Library are 14 statues of individuals who held prominence in the earlier history of the territory now known as British Columbia. One of those statues depicts Sir Alexander Mackenzie.
There is some uncertainty as to the exact date of birth of Alexander Mackenzie. What is known is that he was born between 1762 and 1764 at Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland. As a child, Mackenzie’s family immigrated to North America, arriving in New York in 1774. In 1778, Mackenzie’s family was part of the large migration of British loyalists who fled to Canada during the American Revolutionary War against the British.
A year later, in 1779, a young Alexander Mackenzie became a fur trader with the North West Company. In 1793, with the help of Indigenous guides, Mackenzie overcame inaccurate maps and charts to complete the first documented crossing of North America north of Mexico. He travelled more than 6,400 km (3978 miles) in a birchbark canoe and on foot. The symbolism of Mackenzie’s historic arrival near modern-day Bella Coola, B.C. overshadows the importance of his explorations for the North West Company and his work in chiseling away at the fur trading monopoly held by the Hudson’s Bay Company in the Pacific Northwest. Mackenzie died in Dunkeld, Scotland, on March 12, 1820, and is buried in Avoch, Scotland.