Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
July 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Joseph Frobisher


Frobisher, Joseph (1740-1810), fur-trader, was born in Halifax, Yorkshire, England, on April 15, 1740. He appears to have followed his brother Benjamin to Canada, and to have first gone to the West in 1768. It is known that he made an attempt to pass beyond Grand Portage in 1769, but was turned back by the Indians. The statement is made in the McDonell diary, under date of September 4, 1793, that he wintered on the Red river in 1770-1; but this statement is open to doubt. Certainly he reached the Saskatchewan in 1773, with his brother Thomas; and spent the winter near the site of what afterwards became Fort Cumberland. In 1774-5 he wintered on the Athabaska river, in the hope of cutting off the fur-rade from Fort Churchill, and nearly perished of starvation. He was an original member of the North West Company in 1779; and he became one of its great figures. On the death of his brother Benjamin in 1787, he joined forces with Simon McTavish, to form McTavish, Frobisher and Co., which was for many years the virtual directorate of the North West Company. He retired from business in 1798, and lived at his place, Beaver Hall, in Montreal. He represented the East Ward of Montreal in the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada from 1792 to 1796; and he died in Montreal on September 12, 1810. In 1779 he married Charlotte Joubert, of Montreal. His letter-book and his "Diary of my dinners" are preserved in the Library of McGill University.

Source  : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., p. 401. 


© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College