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FINLAYSON, Isobel Graham

London, England, 1811
London, England, 1890
Biography synopsis
Born in London, England, Isobel Graham Finlayson (née Isobel Graham Simpson) was the daughter of Geddes McKenzie Simpson and Frances Hume Hawkins. Sister to Frances Ramsay Simpson, wife of Governor George Simpson, Finlayson came from a large family. On 10th November 1838, she married Duncan Finlayson, the Hudson’s Bay Company Chief Factor and Governor of Assiniboia, at St. Leonard’s Church in Bromley, Middlesex. Due to health concerns, Finlayson waited until June 1839 before making the long journey from England to Red River, Manitoba. From June 6, 1840 until September 1, 1840 Finlayson kept a notebook recording her travel experiences and made seven accompanying illustrations in pencil of First Nations people she encountered. During the first leg of her trip, from England to York Factory, Finlayson was accompanied by James and Letitia Hargrave; accounts of their meeting are also mentioned in the published letters of Mrs. Hargrave. From York Factory onwards, Finlayson was accompanied by her husband to their new home in the Red River Settlement. Between 1844 and 1859, the Finlaysons lived in Lachine, Québec until they returned to London following Duncan Finlayson’s retirement from the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1859. Finlayson survived her husband by almost 30 years, and though she never had children of her own, she had become second mother to her sister’s children after Frances Simpson’s death in 1853.
Media used
Pen and Ink
File & Archive locations
Winnipeg Art Gallery, MA - Clara Lander Library
Provincial Archives of Manitoba
Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Documentation Centre, QC

Writings about
"?" American Neptune: A Quarterly Journal of Maritime History Salem, Massachusetts: Peabody and Essex Museum, 12 (1952): 167
"Duncan Finlayson/Isobel Graham Simpson." http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mackenzie/d0004/f0000499.html Ancestry.com, 2000
"Finlayson, Duncan." Nature Canada 6 (Oct-Dec. 1977): 9
"Isobel Graham Finlayson Simpson (1811-1890)." The Manitoba Historical Society. 2009
http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/people/simpson_igf.shtml 2009
Berry, Virginia G. A Boundless Horizon: Visual Records of Exploration and Settlement in the Manitoba Region, 1624-1874. Winnipeg: Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1983
Brown, Alison K. ed.. Material Histories: Proceedings of a Workshop held at Marishal Museum, 26-27 April 2007. Aberdeen, United Kingdom: University of: Aberdeen, United Kingdom: University of Aberdeen, 2007, 2007
Brown, Jennifer S. H. Strangers in Blood: Fur Trade Company Families in Indian Country. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996
Bumsted, J. M. Trials and Tribulations: The Red River Settlement and the Emergence of Manitoba, 1811-1870. Winnipeg: Great Plains Publications, 2003
Buss, Helen M. "Dear Domestic Circle: Frameworks for the literary study of women's personal narratives in archival collections." Studies in Canadian Literature 14.1 (1989): 1-17
Buss, Helen M. "The Dear Domestic Circle." http://lib.unb.ca/Texts/SCL/bin/get.cgi?directory=vol14_1/&filename=Buss.htm Studies in Canadian Literature, 1989
Carter, Kathryn. "Women's Diaries Written in Canada." http://info.wlu.ca/~wwwbrant/pages/people/kcarter/ Laurier Brantford, 2004
Fairbanks, Carol and Sara Brooks Sundberg. Farm Women on the Prairie Frontier: a sourcebook for Canada and the United States. Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press, 1983
Friesen, Gerald. The Canadian Prairies: A History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987
Hargrave, Letitia Mactavish and Margaret Arnett MacLeod. The letters of Letitia Hargrave. Toronto: Champlain Society, 1947
Harper, J. Russell. Early Painters and Engravers in Canada Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1970
Hogeveen, Yolanda and Jennifer Janzen. Quest for the Bay: Teacher Resource Guide. Winnipeg: Portage and Main Press, 2002
Hudson's Bay Record Society. Publications of the Hudson's Bay Record Society, Volume 24. Winnipeg: Champlain Society, ?
Judd, Carol M. and Arthur J. Ray. Old Trails and New Directions: Papers of the Third North American Fur Trade Conference. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1980
Light, Beth and Victoria J. Strong-Boag. True Daughters of the North: Canadian Women's History an annotated bibliography. unknown: OISE Press, 1980
Mitchell, Marybelle. From Talking Chiefs to a Native Corporate Elite: The birth of class and nationalism among Canadian Inuit. Montreal: McGill-Queen's Press, 1996
Pederson, Diana Lynn. Changing Women, Changing History. Montreal: McGill-Queen's Press, 1996
Petteys, Chris, et al. Dictionary of Women Artists: An International Dictionary of Women Artists Born Before 1900. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1985
Project Muse. "York Boat Journal." Canadian Historical Review 1952
Robbins, John Everett, ed. Encyclopedia Canadiana. Ottawa: Canadiana Company of Canada, Grolier Society of Canada, 1957
Speake, Jennifer. Literature of Travel and Exploration: An Encyclopedia. New York & London: Taylor and Francis Group, 2003
The Manitoba Historical Society. "Isobel Graham Finlayson Simpson (1811-1890)." http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/people/simpson_igf.shtml 2009
Tippett, Maria. By a Lady. Toronto: Viking, 1992
Trollope, Joanna. Britannia's Daughters: Women of the British Empire." London, England: Hutchinson, 1983
Van Kirk, Sylvia. Many Tender Ties: Women in fur-trade society, 1670-1870. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1983
Van Kirk, Sylvia. "Isobel Graham Finlayson." Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 11 Toronto, Ont.; Quebec City: University of Toronto/Université Laval,, 2003
Venema, Kathleen. "Letitia Mactavish Hargrave and Hudson's Bay Company Domestic Politics." Recalling Early Canada. Calgary: University of Alberta, 2005
Venema, Kathleen and Cecily Devereux, eds. "Women Writing Home, 1700-1920: Female Correspondence Across the British Empire, Volume 3: Canada." http://www.pickeringchatto.com/major_works/women_writing_home_1700_1920 Pickering and Chatto, 2006
Warkentin, Germaine. Canadian Exploration Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993

Writings by
Finlayson, Isobel Graham. Note Book, 1840-1845. Winnipeg: Hudson's Bay Company Archive, 1845
Finlayson, Isobel Graham. "Indians traveling in winter (Illustration)." Beaver Hudson's Bay Company, 303 (Spring 1973): 23
Finlayson, Isobel Graham. "York Boat Journal." Beaver Hudson's Bay Company, 282 (Dec. 1951): 32-7
Finlayson, Isobel Graham. "York Boat Journal." Beaver Hudson's Bay Company, 282 (Sept. 1951): 32-5
Finlayson, Isobel Graham. "York Boat Journal." www.turtle-island.com/files/isobel_finlayson_beaver_journal_1.pdf 1951

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