Wemyss Mackenzie Simpson was a Canadian politician and businessman who was active in Canada in the mid-to-late 1800s. He is notable for quite a number of accomplishments around the Algoma district, which obviously makes him very relevant to Sault Ste. Marie's history. If you don't know much about him, you hopefully will by the end of this post.
Wemyss Simpson, like many, was not born a native of Canada; he grew up in London, England from the year 1825, the youngest of seven sons. He and his family seem to have been fairly well-off, as Wemyss was educated in Eton, a boy's boarding school nearby. Following this, Wemyss traveled to Canada as a young man, and found employment in the lower part of the country with the Hudson's Bay Company.
He would remain part of the company for the next twenty-four years, eight of which he spent as a Chief Factor, a significant position boasting a high salary. As part of his job he would move from place to place, working in York Factory, Oxford House, Norway House and Red River. Twice he was also stationed in Sault Ste. Marie, once from 1849 to 1851, and a longer period later from 1855 to 1865.
Despite his busy life working for the Hudson Bay Company, Wemyss found time for many other things. During this period he found a wife, Annie Ironside, with whom he would have a very impressive fourteen children, and also served a year as Sault Ste. Marie's postmaster during his second term here. Following his term with Hudson Bay, Wemyss would still find work, this time as a member of the House of Commons representing Algoma - the very first person to hold that position, in fact.
Wemyss would be involved in further political moments. In 1870 he served as the guide and interpreter for the Red River Expedition, a group assembled to stop a rebellion in Manitoba by Metis leader Louis Riel, an incident you can read more about on our post regarding the Sault Locks. He also accepted the position of Indian Commissioner in 1871, in order to negotiate a treaty with the natives of Manitoba.
Retiring in 1873 from public life, Wemyss would live the rest of his life in Sault Ste. Marie, which he seemed to have grown fond of in his time there. His house, as you can see, was an impressive piece of architecture which still stands today, and is the second-oldest stone house in the Soo. Wemyss passed away in March of 1894, with three streets being named after him in recognition of his contributions: Wemyss, Simpson, and Upton.