Alexander Murray was born about 1763 in Sutherlandshire, Scotland. He served in the British Army and received a pension, probably from Chelsea Hospital. He married Isobel/Elizabeth Murray and had at least seven children: Catherine, Christian, John, Alexander, Isabella, James and Donald. The records show that at this time Alexander was a tenant in Suisgill.
The two oldest sons, John and Alexander Jr, had sailed on the Prince of Wales in 1813 with the second contingent of settlers. (1) Typhoid broke out on the ship and the Captain disembarked the passengers at Churchill Fort rather than York Factory. The colonists wintered at Colony Creek camp (also called Churchill Creek camp). In the spring, John and Alexander were among those who trekked on snowshoes to York Factory. They then travelled by boats to Red River. Throughout the winter of 1814-1815, the settlement was constantly harassed by the North West Company agents, and in June of 1815, the majority of the settlers, including John and Alexander, left the settlement for Upper Canada.
Alexander Murray Sr, his wife Isobel and five children sailed for the settlement in 1815. (2) Alexander is listed as a shoemaker and a notation states that he brought out a pair of millstones. The Murrays disembarked at York Factory on 26 August 1815 and Christian married George Ross of the HBC four days later. The colonists were persuaded to continue to Red River in spite of the bad news of the colony which they had received at York Factory. During the course of the journey to the settlement, Isabella married John Flett, an HBC man in charge of one of the boats taking the settlers to Red River.
The colonists arrived at Red River in the fall of 1815 and continued south to Pembina for the winter, returning to the settlement in the spring. In June 1816, a confrontation with the Métis at Seven Oaks resulted in the deaths of Governor Semple and about twenty of his men. The colonists fled to Jack River House at the north end of Lake Winnipeg, where they spent the winter. In 1817, most of them returned to Red River, encouraged by the news that Lord Selkirk was in the country. Selkirk granted Alexander Murray lot #23. His sons-in-law, George Ross and John Flett, received lots #22 and #24 respectively. Kildonan Park Golf Course includes a part of the original property. Within the next couple of years, Alexander’s wife died and his daughter Catherine married Peter Dahl, an HBC man from Norway.
Life at Red River was not what Alexander had hoped, and in 1819 he left for Upper Canada to visit his sons. He found Alexander Jr in West Gwillimbury, but John had left for the USA. Alexander returned to Red River in 1820 with his son Alexander Jr. Both men then left again for Upper Canada with a group from Red River which included Christian, her husband George Ross and young son. Alexander died in July 1820 and the land he had chosen in 1819 was settled by George Ross.
James and Donald Murray remained at Red River. In 1837 Donald married Jane Mary Heron, daughter of Francis Heron. In 1838 James married Elizabeth Holmes, also the daughter of a fur-trader.
(1) HBCA C.1/778, passenger list of the Prince of Wales, outward bound, 1813
(2) HBCA C.1/345, passenger list of the Hadlow, outward bound 1815; also LAC Selkirk Papers, vol. 5, pp.1659-1661, List of passengers landed at York Fort 26th August 1815