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Canadian Historic Sites: Occasional Papers in Archaeology and History No. 4

The Big House, Lower Fort Garry

by George Ingram

Appendix B: George and Frances Simpson

When the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company amalgamated in 1821, the Red River Settlement took on a new importance. With amalgamation there was a sudden surplus of posts and personnel which had swelled beyond all reasonable bounds in the last bitter years of rivalry. Post faced post on the rivers of the West; and one of the first tasks of George Simpson, the Governor of the Northern Department, was to rationalize the system — to cut back the numbers of traders and posts in the Company's vast domains. The settlement would be used to accommodate the retiring servants made surplus by the union. The Company provided travel expenses to the forks of the Red and Assiniboine, gave grants of land and provided subsistence for the first period of settling in. The pattern set in the early years continued through the history of the settlement; old servants often took their leave of the Company and established themselves there in comfortable retirement.

The settlement also assumed a more vital role in the supply of the Company. The provisioning of the trade had always been a problem both for the old Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company. The settlement offered an alternative to the hauling of bulky staple goods over the long and difficult transportation routes. Some use of the buffalo hunt had been made before 1821, but after union a calculated programme was set in motion whereby it was hoped that the settlement would become the bread-basket of the fur trade. Cultivation and husbandry were both encouraged by the Governor and Committee which supplied stock and seeds and promised that the Company would undertake to purchase any produce which the settlers had to offer.

At the time of the union, the operations of the Company were located at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers in Fort Garry. The administration of the colony, in the hands of the Governor of Assiniboia, was at first centred in Fort Douglas. But in 1825, when the two functions were assumed by Chief Factor Donald McKenzie, Fort Garry combined both the administration of the colony and the fur trade in the lower Red River district. The fort was old and quite dilapidated, a remnant of the years of rivalry. In 1826, it was very nearly carried away with the flood which inundated the entire area around the forks. The buildings of the fort remained standing, but were even more dilapidated and it became apparent that the increasingly important post in Red River would require renewal.

George Simpson, appointed Governor of the Northern Department at the time of the union,1 took a personal interest in the development of the settlement, and kept a careful watch on the administration of both civil and Company affairs. They required careful surveillance. The years of rivalry had been difficult for the original settlers; not all of them had even been of a type suited for the rigours of breaking new land let alone the harassment of the traders of the North West Company. Servants of the two companies who had been retired involuntarily harboured malice toward the new Company in spite of its efforts to have them provided for in the settlement. The Métis resented the presence of both the settlers and the Company. There was, therefore, a considerable dissatisfaction in the colony which smoldered not too far under the surface. The situation was not relieved in the early years by a personal and jurisdictional dispute between the local chief factor of the Company in the settlement and the Governor of Assiniboia over the control of the free trade in furs, a problem which would plague the Company throughout the 19th century. The traders, many of them operating from Red River, threatened the Company's monopoly not only in the settlement but throughout the Company's vast empire, for free trade was contagious and spread very readily. The free traders were scotched in the early 1820s but the threat lingered to rise up periodically. Simpson looked about for alternative forms of economic activity for the settlers and landed upon a number of schemes which never seemed to succeed to the extent of his expectations. All in all, the settlement required a disproportionate amount of his time and attention.

Simpson's duties in the fur trade alone were onerous enough to demand all of his energies. The years immediately after union in 1821 were spent in constant travel from one end of the fur trade to the other, settling the confused affairs of the Company. In the season 1823-24, however, Simpson spent eight months in Red River restoring order to the troubled colony; and there is some indication that Simpson himself wanted to settle down to a less hectic way of life. In 1824, he requested leave to visit England for the purpose of searching for a wife. But this was discouraged by Andrew Colvile who felt that he should visit the Columbia district before so encumbering himself. Simpson travelled there in 1824-25 and then proceeded to England in the fall, presumably to settle the question of matrimony. He left three months later not with a wife but with the added responsibility of the governorship of the Southern Department.2

Simpson spent the next three years travelling in his wide domain, especially in his new charge, the Southern Department. But in the late fall of 1829, he again set off for England, this time more determined to return with a female companion. With him came John George McTavish and James McMillan with similar intentions. All three were rewarded in their energetic hunt for wives. After at least one false start, Simpson successfully courted his eighteen-year-old cousin, Frances Ramsey Simpson, the daughter of Geddes Mackenzie Simpson. In January he wrote of his plans to John George McTavish who had ventured to Scotland in his search for a bride.

When I left London for Scotland, it was settled that I should return to England next year fall for the purpose of getting married but on my arrival the other Day I pressed our immediate union so warmly & seriously that the Father & Mother gave way; with the Lady, I had little difficulty as she was as anxious about it as myself — I must await your & McMillan's arrival to get spliced; the Lady understands that she is to have the happiness of Mrs. McTavish & Mrs. McMillans Society during the passage: we proceed from Montreal p. canoe, touch at Red River in going, she accompanies me to York and in the autumn to Red River where we shall pass the winter, we take a maid servant from here with us and a man & maid servant, go by the ship to join us wt. our heavy Baggage at York. You now have all my plans.3

The two were married 24 February 1830, and together with John George McTavish and his wife, a Miss Turner of Turner Hall in Aberdeenshire, they made their way by ship to Canada. The long ocean voyage cemented a friendship which would last as long as the four were in Canada.

As Simpson had planned in the previous January, they travelled to the interior by canoe from Canada. The party, consisting of Mr. and Mrs. McTavish and maid servant, and Mr. and Mrs. Simpson and servant, set off from Lachinne, 2 May 1830, and turned up the Ottawa for the long trip inland.4 At Fort William, the McTavishs parted from the others to strike out for Moose Factory. Their place in the canoes was taken by Thomas Simpson, Frances Simpson's cousin, who was assigned to serve as secretary for George Simpson. He travelled with them as far as Lake Winnipeg and then went separately to Norway House where he was joined later by the Simpsons. They continued to Red River where they arrived on 6 June.

During their short stay in the settlement, Simpson made tentative arrangements for their accommodation in Red River where they planned to spend at least one winter, and probably selected a house near the forks. Later in July, Simpson wrote to Donald Mckenzie informing him that Pierre Leblanc would soon arrive to repair a house for their occupancy.5 But McKenzie must have complained of the existing Company establishment at the upper fort. The facilities had not been extensively repaired after the great flood of 1826 and with the Company's affairs increasing in importance there, a new establishment was felt to be in order. Simpson may also have had an eye to his own occupancy at the Red River Settlement for he appears to have pushed the construction of the new fort, and proposed an establishment significant in size and construction. When the Simpsons departed for the meeting of the Northern Council at York Factory, they were accompanied by the officers of the Company from Fort Garry who would help in the selection of a location for a new fort farther down the Red.

11th [June] Left Fort Garry at 1/2 past 6 A.M. accompanied by another Canoe, in which were Messrs. McKenzie & Finlayson and arrived at 9 O'clock at Mr. Cocrane's, where we were met by Dr. Todd & Mr. Rea [Rae] who had travelled across the Plains on horseback. After breakfasting with Mrs. Cocrane, we proceeded to examine the ground for the site of a New Establishment, [Lower Fort Garry] about to be built at this end of the Settlement, and Mr. Simpson having selected a beautiful spot on a gentle elevation, surrounded by Wood, and commanding a fine view of the River, we took leave of Messrs. McKenzie & Cocrane, and continued our march.6

The Simpsons continued on their way to York, stopping at Norway House where they were joined by Thomas Simpson and other officers of the Company who were also on their way to the meeting. After a stay of one week, they continued on their journey arriving at the Factory at midnight, 26 June.

The Council sessions were always hectic times. This was the one occasion in the year when many of the senior officers of the Company gathered together. They submitted the reports for their districts, their accounts and their journals, and communicated verbally the happenings in their districts for the year. The Council was of course the main focus of activity for here the senior officers fleshed out the Company's operations in the Northern Department for the following year. Among other resolutions the Council recommended in 1830 that a new establishment be constructed in the Red River:

The Establishment of Fort Garry being in a very dilapidated state, its situation not sufficiently centrical, much exposed to spring floods, and very inconvenient in regard to navigation of the river and in other points of view, it is resolved

51. That a new establishment to bear the same name be formed on a site to be selected near the lower end of the Rapids for which purposes tradesmen be employed or the work done by contract as may be found most expedient, and as stone and lime are on the spot those materials to be used instead of timber being cheaper and more durable.7

In addition to the meetings of the Council, Simpson was caught up in the whirl of social activities connected with the gathering and busy with his voluminous correspondence which was even heavier than usual at Council time. While Simpson was engrossed in the affairs of the Company, Frances was squired about by the gentlemen "who offer to a stranger, the most cordial, and unaffected welcome, and endeavour to make every thing pleasing & agreeable."8

Late in August, the Simpsons left York Factory for the Red River Settlement. By this time Leblanc probably had their house at the forks renovated, and they settled in for the long Red River winter. The first months were pleasant enough — as late as December the weather was "uncommonly fine" with "no snow, little frost & the river not yet all fast"9 — and Frances injected a new gracious element into Red River society. James McMillan reported the state of affairs to Hargrave in December: "The Governor has given two grand let outs, at which the Blues and Clergy were very conspicuous. . . . Mrs. Simpson's presence here makes a change in us. Even Donald himself is obliged to throw off his Kilmornoths [?] in order to look spry. . . ."10 And the Simpson home soon became the centre of social activity; Alexander Ross looked forward with a great deal of anticipation to the Christmas festive season at the Governor's house:

The gay time has not yet commenced & in the interim we are all gaping for the arrival of some half dozen of the great wigs who are expected to pass their holy days with his excellency which together with the fascinating accomplishments of Mrs. Simpson will give the place an air of high life & gaiety. We have already no few attractions, the painted house of state, the Pianoforte, & the new fashioned Government Carriole are objects to attract & amuse. There is now & then a select party up at Govt. House: on such occasions the Govr & his Lady are extremely affable — behold, what will it be when the possy arrives?11

But the Simpsons soon tired of the narrow, confined Red River society. Simpson himself could never rest content in one location for any length of time regardless of the surroundings and Frances probably could not avoid making comparisons with the way of life she had so recently left in England. Both soon longed to be away from the settlement and with their friends the McTavishs at Moose. Shortly after the hectic and demanding festive season Simpson wrote to McTavish bemoaning their fate:

I wish from the bottom of my Heart we were situated near each other and my wife re-echoes this with every day of her life. We have thousands of Society but none that we care much about. Donald & I are very good friends but not over thick; his wife a poor stupid good creature, but there is nothing in her. The Parson's wife is passable but she is 3 miles distant and we see little of her & Cockran's wife has been a "Dollymoss" or some such thing who can pray & cook & look demure. . . . But if our better halves were near each other they would both keep themselves & us alive. I really have serious thoughts of passing next or the following winter with you at Moose — Say how you could accommodate us the following winter.—12

And added soon to the boredom of Red River society was the constant sickness of Frances and occasional discomforts of Simpson. One week later he continued his letter to McTavish noting that both he and his wife were ill. "Pray write," he implored McTavish, "and frequently, fully & confidentially. I wish from the bottom of my heart we were near each other as neither myself nor my wife are quite at home here."13

Frances was pregnant; and for the next nine months she was scarcely ever out of bed, so miserable were her months of child-bearing. The illness hung over the two, and made their first year in the settlement an ordeal. At the end of the long winter, Simpson reported to McTavish that Frances had "been a great sufferer this Winter. . . for weeks together confined to Bed,"14 and repeated his request of the previous fall that the two families get together at Moose.

I am most heartily tired of Red River or rather of its good inhabitants, and should be delighted to join you at Moose next fall, indeed my better half is constantly entreating me to take her there, so that she may enjoy the society of her friend to whom she is most warmly attached — Here she has formed no intimacies.15

Frances' illness also dampened the burgeoning social life of the settlement. Although the Simpsons still entertained, there was not the gaiety of the late fall, and observers such as John Stuart privately worried that her ill-health might force the Simpsons to leave the settlement:

I made several visits to Red River and every successive trip was more pleasant than the preceding on every occasion my reception both with the Governor and his Lady and indeed with every Individual composing the establishment of Fort Garry was then in the extreme far beyond my merit or any thing I could expect — unfortunately, Mrs. Simpson is not well she has been ailing since Christmas and though her disease is not by the Doctor considered dangerous I strongly apprehend that the climate of this country will not agree with her and that her stay cannot be much prolonged — this of course if it happens, will also draw the Governor away and I know not a greater misfortune that could befall Red River.16

The lack of companionship was overcome somewhat by the arrival in the settlement of Thomas Simpson, Frances' cousin who came overland from York Factory in March. He acted as secretary for George Simpson and provided a companion for Frances. Little could be done for her illness however; in May, in spite of the better weather, it still lingered on. Simpson wrote worriedly to McTavish, "Mrs. Simpson still continues a quiet invalid, the greater part of her time in Bed and her symptoms by no means favourable."17 Only after a great deal of hesitation did Simpson leave to go to York Factory for the meeting of the Northern Council in July. His wife's illness was beginning to have a wearing effect on Simpson's own health and outlook; the fatigue was evident in a letter to McTavish from York:

I left my poor better half in/I am afraid/a dangerous state at Red River. Dr. Tod is in constant attendance upon her and I am more miserable about her than words can tell; if any evil should happen I shall be the most wretched man in existence as my whole heart & Soul are bound up in her.18

While at York, Simpson finally reported to the Governor and Committee concerning the construction of Lower Fort Garry.19 Construction on the fort had begun in the previous fall when the first excavations had been made.20 And in the following spring the building was taken up as soon as weather permitted. In April, Simpson wrote to McTavish describing the work:

We are building at the Rapids, which is the highest & best situation on the River, the materials stone & lime & if the plan I have begun be followed up it will be a respectable & comfortable Establisht. I don't expect to occupy it, as it will not be habitable until the fall of 1833. — Leblanc conducts the work and the McKenzie River men & recruits of last fall are the labourers. I must pass another winter here probably two if you cannot make room for me at Moose, but if you can, I should like to join you in the Fall of 1832.21

In his report to the Governor and Committee, however, Simpson was more optimistic citing "next Spring" as the date of occupancy:

I had the satisfaction of seeing the Walls of the principal building nearly up before my departure, [for York Factory] and hope to see New Fort Garry (the only stone and lime and I may add the most respectable looking Establishment in the Indian Country) occupied next Spring.22

But even on the most optimistic of reckonings, the fort would not be finished until sometime in 1832, and until then the Company's operations and the Simpson residence would continue to be located at the forks.

When Simpson returned from York Factory he found Mrs. Simpson in much the same condition as she had been before his departure:

Found Mrs. Simpson in nearly the same state as I left her w. the exception of encreased bulk; she has had a most trying time of it and I fear her confinement will bear very heavily on her delicate frame.23

And her confinement proved to be as painful as Simpson had predicted; the birth of their boy in the late fall almost cost her her life. Simpson reported to McTavish, "My poor wife had the most narrow escape imaginable."

During the whole 9 months previous to her confinement she was in extreme ill health and so much reduced & weakened that at the crisis, she was more Dead than alive; her recovery was exceedingly slow, 6 weeks in Bed and she is still very thin & by no means strong — our little Boy was for a time ailing and delicate, but he is now perking up, and promises well.24

The whole settlement sighed with relief with the safe birth of the Simpson child and anxiously watched the slow recovery of Frances. In December both seemed to be doing well and James McMillan looked forward to a gay Christmas with the hostess of the settlement, Frances Simpson, fully recovered:

We go but little about, and of course se[e] but little of the grandees of the Settlement, with the exception of the Govr & Lady who are always the same — Mrs. Simpson is at long last got perfectly recovered which makes us all very happy. The Young fellow is getting well and will be a delightful child. He is not yet made a Christian of, so that we expect a grand let out soon.25

By January, Mrs. Simpson felt well enough for a christening party; the child would be called George Geddes Simpson after his father and grandfather, Simpson's benefactor. "We mean to give a grand Blow out on this Day week," wrote Simpson to McTavish, "when we intend making a Christian of the Youngster, George Geddes Simpson. Cards are out for 32. They will consume all our good things!"26

The gaiety was short-lived; four months later Simpson wrote to McTavish to tell him that the child was dead.27 When Frances had ridden off to church Sunday, 22 April, George Geddes had taken a spell and died before her return. Both of the parents were grief stricken. Simpson planned to take Frances home by way of Canada that fall and contemplated not returning to the country himself.

By July, however, Simpson had changed his mind. He travelled to York Factory for the annual Council meeting and from there wrote to McTavish telling him of his intention to remain in the country until the summer of 1834, "if I hold out so long."28 Apparently the "gloomy state of things in England" had been the main consideration causing him to prolong his stay at Red River. After the meeting of Council, Simpson also wrote to the Governor and Committee reporting that "The new Establishment of Fort Garry is in such a state of forwardness that we shall remove into it at the close of the present season."29 The move into the new fort likely took place soon after Simpson arrived back in the settlement from York Factory. In December, Thomas Simpson reported to Hargrave, "We are exceedingly well housed here in the new buildings."30

For George and Frances Simpson, however, the new quarters brought no great relief from the pall of gloom which had descended on their household after the death of their little child in April. Frances was never again herself after her confinement and the tragedy of the spring, and Simpson was certain that permanent damage had been suffered through mismanagement by the doctor. By December he was thinking of taking his wife home in the fall and leaving her there: "I shall certainly never bring her to this country again."31 Over the long, and probably very miserable winter, the plans for Frances' return to England were finalized. In May, Simpson wrote to McTavish reviewing the misfortunes of their stay in Red River and concluded, "In short, I am grieved to say that our House has been a scene of Sorrow & Sickness for nearly 18 months past, & I myself am more broken hearted & depressed than I am well able to describe."32 Frances was still ill and determined to go home. He would send her ahead in June by canoe to Montreal so that she could "travel leizurely, and have a few weeks rest in Canada" before he joined her there after the meeting of the Northern Council. They would then undertake the sea voyage to England. He would return again to Canada but his wife would remain at home. Even the new house in the settlement was not enough to overcome Mrs. Simpson's dislike of the settlement and living in the country.

And then another misfortune occurred to change Simpson's plans once again. On 20 May, he was seized with a sudden attack of "blood to the head approaching to apoplexy."33 He would have to proceed directly home himself, not waiting for the Council at Norway House. At the end of June he was already at Michipicoten, writing of his misfortune to McTavish. The officers of the Company anxiously watched the progress of their Governor to Montreal. "I received two Letters from our worthy Governor," wrote J. D. Cameron to James Hargrave. "He mentions his health as being much improved but still unable to attend to business — As for Mrs. Simpson she was nothing better than when she left red river. In fact that Amiable Little woman was too much Doctored in this country — and I am much afraid she will feel the effects of it as long as she lives."34 Late in July, the Simpsons set off from Lachine for New York to catch a ship home, arriving in England on 27 August.35

Back in England the health of Simpson and his wife slowly improved. Frances was pregnant again — and expected her confinement in January — a fact which may have brought about the rapid journey of the Simpsons home.36 And in January, Simpson wrote to McTavish telling him that his wife had safely delivered a baby girl. Both were doing well. Frances was under the care of the best ladies doctor in England at "£3.3 p. visit."37 Simpson, with his health returning, was already becoming restless in England and planned extensive travels for the following year.

Simpson returned to the country in 1834 by the ship to York and then wintered in the Red River Settlement. But in the season 1834-35, he stayed at the forks rather than at the lower fort, realizing already that the new establishment was too far away from the centre of things in the settlement. Leblanc and his family were staying at the lower fort, perhaps as its sole occupants. "Leblanc, the wife, and your young folks are quite well and living at the New Fort; We are this season at the old Establisht."38 And in further recognition of the importance of the forks construction of a new Fort Garry began there in 1835. It became the Company's administrative centre in the interior. The lower fort passed through a period of lethargy and secondary function but was still favoured by Simpson as a residence while in the settlement. In 1841, when passing through the Red River on his world journey, he referred to the lower fort as "my own head-quarters when I visit the settlement."39

For the decade following 1834, Simpson almost commuted back and forth from England to Canada. John McLean, by no means friendly to Simpson, noted that, "The Governor, having taken up his residence for some years past in England, crosses the Atlantic once a year, and during his brief sojourn, Norway House forms his headquarters."40 McLean exaggerated somewhat; but Frances Simpson did continue to live in England and her husband frequently journeyed there. While in the country, he took up residence at Norway House, at Red River, or at Lachine in a large house which the Company had purchased in 1833.41

With the passage of time, the years blotted out the unpleasant memories which Frances held of her captivity in the settlement in 1830-33. In 1838, her older sister Isobel married chief Factor Duncan Finlayson and came out to the Red River. If her sister Frances objected strongly to living in the country, her warnings could not have been strong enough to dissuade Isobel. Perhaps she had Frances in mind when Isobel wrote of the Red River:

I think it however but just to remark that from the various reports I had heard of this place I came to it under very unfavourable impressions, but I am pleased to say I found it infinitely superior to the opinion I had originally entertained of it. The living is cheap and good, and one can obtain all the necessaries, and many of the comforts of life, but at the same time I must candidly confess, that for many reasons, I should never like Red River as a place of residence.42

There was a touching scene when the Finlayson party reached the Red River and pulled up at the lower fort:

About five o'Clock [Sept. 26, 1840] we arrived at the lower Fort, which had been my sister's [Mrs. George Simpson's] residence the last year she remained in this country, but it is impossible to describe the feelings that oppressed my heart at the sight of that spot, which had been her home for so many months. It was a beautiful evening, the sun was shining brilliantly upon the water, and the Canadians were singing their liveliest songs to apprize the inhabitants of the Fort of our approach, the scene was the same as in other days, but she (the tender and affectionate companion of my early years, who had formerly given life and cheerfulness to the place) was no longer there and thousands of miles separated us from each other, and after vainly endeavouring to conceal my emotions, my heart at length found relief in a flood of tears.43

In a few years Isobel would see all she would want of Frances and her family and perhaps too much.

In 1841-42, Simpson was absent on his journey around the world. When he returned to England he apparently made plans to move his family to Lachine.

Early in January we were rejoiced to hear of the safe arrival in England of Sir George Simpson our worthy Governor who will be soon again amongst us, I am directed to meet him at Mattawa about the 6 proximo when he is to pass on the way to the Interior, I am happy to learn that he was to be accompanied to Canada by Lady Simpson and the Family so that we expect to have the pleasure of having our Governor to honor the Lachine Establishment for some time to come where he will be more conveniently situated to superintend his various important duties than by going backwards and forwards to England every year.44

The move did not take place, however, until 1845 when Duncan Finlayson was in charge of the Hudson's Bay Company's establishment at Lachine.45 Finlayson, perhaps as a typical brother-in-law, did not look forward to the arrival of the Simpsons. His family enjoyed a free run of the large Hudson Bay House and he feared with the arrival of the Governor's family he would be forced to vacate.

The Gov. is coming out bag & baggage, that is wt. wife, bairns, servants &c. & how we are to stow them all here is more than I know. I do not wish to anticipate evils but one thing is to me almost certain—that neither our wives, our servts. nay, even our own selves, will pull together in the same direction, and, under the circumstances the weaker must give way. I, therefore, expect to receive notice to quit these quarters, before another year comes round.46

Perhaps Lady Simpson had laid down the presence of her sister in Lachine as a condition for her coming again to the country. Duncan Finlayson had been appointed there in 1844 when it is known that Simpson wanted to bring his family out, and "Lady Simpson's delicate health and her consequent need of her sister's help with an undisciplined family was spoken of later by George Barnston's sister Mary, who came from England as governess in the Simpson family."47

The Simpsons and Finlaysons lived together, only with forbearance it seems, for the next eight years. The Finlaysons found some relief in frequent visits to England which were made possible by Sir George Simpson's presence at Lachine. However, in 1850, Simpson decided to move his family back to London. "I shall in all probability," he wrote to John Black in the Red River Settlement, "cross the Atlantic in the course of the ensuing summer with my family and make London my headquarters."48 Perhaps feeling his age, he hoped to live there permanently, returning to the country occasionally if circumstances demanded his presence. But Lady Simpson's recurring ill-health forced him to postpone his plans, at first for one year and finally indefinitely. Much to the chagrin of Duncan Finlayson, he decided to remain in Hudson Bay House in Lachine, "for some time to come." "My further movements are somewhat uncertain," the frustrated Finlayson wrote to Donald Ross. "I think it is likely that I shall soon quit the service. This laudable intention is strengthened by the determination our mutual friend [Simpson] has come to, of remaining here for some time to come, which is contrary to the understanding I had on the subject when I last left England."49

One year later, in 1853, Lady Simpson was dead. The "country" which had tormented her for so many years had finally claimed her as a victim. She had never really recovered from her three brief but unpleasant years in the Red River Settlement. Although Simpson had returned often in the years since their residence there, she never again had travelled beyond the civilised parts of the country. With her death, Simpson gave up entirely his plans to return to London. He continued to travel extensively and to administer the vast domains of the Hudson's Bay Company. Finally in 1860, ill health forced him to turn back at St. Paul from his annual visit to the meeting of the Northern Council at Norway House. At Montreal his health improved somewhat so he was able to take part in the ceremonies connected with the visit of the Prince of Wales. But three days later he was striken with apoplexy and died on 7 September 1860.

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