GRANT, CUTHBERT, fur-trader; son of David Grant of Letheredie (Highlands), Scotland, and Margaret Grant; d. 1799 at Kaministiquia (Thunder Bay, Ont.).
Cuthbert Grant belonged to the Clan Grant of Strathspey, members of which were active in the Canadian fur trade during the 1770s, and Grant became one of the first Nor’Westers to enter the trade in the Athabasca country. The exact date of his arrival in Canada and his early activities are unknown. He may have accompanied Peter Pond* to the Athabasca River in 1778, but he is not mentioned by name in the documents until Pond sent him in 1785 or 1786 to establish a North West Company post at the mouth of the Slave River. In opposition was Laurent Leroux* of Gregory, MacLeod and Company, who built nearby at about the same time. Grant was in the Athabasca region in 1788, and the continued existence of both posts was noted by Alexander Mackenzie* in 1789 and by Peter Fidler* and Philip Turnor in 1791.
In 1793 Grant travelled with his clerk John Macdonell* from Grand Portage (near Grand Portage, Minn.) to the confluence of the Souris and Assiniboine rivers (Man.) where he established Fort La Souris (also known as Fort Assiniboine), the first North West Company post in the area. It was to counter one already built by former Nor’Westers who had become free traders. The same year Donald “Mad” MacKay built Brandon House nearby for the Hudson’s Bay Company. By 1795 there were about 21 posts in the upper Assiniboine district competing to control the supply of furs and pemmican. Grant was in charge of the seven belonging to the North West Company. His headquarters appear to have been a post (southwest of Togo, Sask.) variously called Cuthbert Grant’s House, the Upper House, Fort de la Rivière Tremblante, and Aspen House. In 1795 Alexander Mackenzie’s efforts resulted in a reorganization of the North West Company, and Grant became a partner.
Grant spent the winter of 1797–98 in the Fort Augustus (Edmonton) area, replacing Duncan McGillivray*. According to John McDonald* of Garth, he was then middle-aged and not active enough for the district. He became ill in the spring of 1799 and was being taken out of the fur-trading country, presumably to Montreal, when he died. He had sent his eldest son James there the year before and the boy had been baptized at St Gabriel Street (Presbyterian) Church, to whose building fund Cuthbert Grant had contributed.
Grant had married a woman of the Qu’Appelle district, the daugher of a white trader and a Cree or Assiniboin woman. This trader may have been French, for some of Grant’s children were associated with the Métis community at Red River. Cuthbert* was a leader at the battle of Seven Oaks (now part of Winnipeg) in 1816; Mary married Pierre Falcon*, the Métis balladeer.
[The existence of at least two other Cuthbert Grants – one a merchant at Quebec, the other at Trois-Rivières has led to some confusion among historians. For example., Wallace, in Docs. relating to NWC, identifies the subject of this biography with Cuthbert Grants still living in the period 1801–7. h.b.]
Les bourgeois de la Compagnie du Nord-Ouest (Masson). Five fur traders of the northwest; being the narrative of Peter Pond and the diaries of John Macdonnell, Archibald N. McLeod, Hugh Faries, and Thomas Connor, ed. C. M. Gates ([2nd ed.], St Paul, Minn., 1965). Journals of Hearne and Turnor (Tyrrell). Alexander Mackenzie, Voyages from Montreal on the River St. Laurence through the continent of North America to the Frozen and Pacifc oceans in the years 1789 and 1793 . . . (London, 1801; new ed., intro. Roy Daniells, Edmonton, 1971). New light on the early history of the greater northwest: the manuscript journals of Alexander Henry . . . and of David Thompson . . . , ed. Elliott Cones (3v., New York, 1897; repr., 2v., Minneapolis, Minn., 1965). [David Thompson], David Thompson’s narrative, 1784–1812, ed. R. [G.] Glover (new ed., Toronto, 1962). L. J. Burpee, The search for the western sea (2nd ed., 2v., Toronto, 1935). Davidson, NWC. Innis, Fur trade in Canada; Peter Pond, fur trader and adventurer (Toronto, 1930). M. A. MacLeod and W. L. Morton, Cuthbert Grant of Grantown, warden of the plains of Red River (Toronto, 1963). Morton, History of Canadian west. Rich, History of HBC. H. R. Wagner, Peter Pond, fur trader & explorer ([New Haven, Conn.], 1955)