Alexander Sutherland was the son of John and Elspeth Sutherland, tenants in Ulbster, Parish of Kildonan, Sutherland. Letters sent to him at Red River by his mother and sisters indicate that he had four sisters – Johanna, Margaret, Ann, and Christina. There was also a brother who died in Scotland after Alexander emigrated. (1) He was the only one of his family to come to Red River. Alexander was 25 when he emigrated from Scotland in 1815 according to the log of the Hadlow.(2) A list of passengers landed at York Fort 26th August 1815 gives the further information that he was a labourer and sergeant of the passengers. Alexander had served with a Highland regiment in the Peninsular War (1808-14) and was wounded at Corunna, Spain in 1809. He was known in the settlement as “Sodger” (soldier).
Alexander married Catherine (Kate) McPherson of Gailable, Kildonan, Sutherland ca 1817. Catherine was in the 1813 group who had sailed on the Prince of Wales. Typhoid had broken out on the ship and the Captain disembarked the passengers at Churchill Fort rather than York Factory. The would-be colonists were forced to spend the winter at Colony Creek camp (also called Churchill Creek camp), about 15 miles up the Churchill River. Kate was highly respected in the settlement for having ministered to the sick and dying during that time. She was among those who trekked on snowshoes to York Factory in the spring. She arrived at Red River in June 1814 and remained loyal to the settlement during the 1815 dispersion when many left for Upper Canada. Red River account books show that in June 1817, the account of Catherine McPherson was transferred to her husband, Alexander Sutherland, soldier.
In August 1817, Lord Selkirk granted Alexander Lot #12 of Peter Fidler’s original survey. (3) However, Alexander either never settled this land, or did so for a very short time. He and his wife moved to land on Point Douglas, and were thereafter referred to as the “Point Douglas Sutherlands”. Sutherland Avenue, Winnipeg, runs through their former property.
Alexander and Kate had one child, John, baptized Nov. 4, 1821, who became a prominent member of Red River and Manitoba society. He married Janet McBeath in 1847 and apparently John and his wife and his parents lived together on the Point Douglas property. In 1852 the house on Point Douglas was carried away by floodwaters, and a new house was built on land directly across the river. Alexander and Catherine Sutherland both died in this house within a few months of one another in 1867. They are buried in Kildonan churchyard.
(1) Manitoba Archives, MG2 C16: Sutherland, Alexander; letters from Scotland, 1815-1847
(2) HBCA C.1/345, passenger list of the Hadlow, outward bound, 1815, #80
(3) HBCA E.8/2 fo. 25, Lord Selkirk’s list of disposition of 24 lots of land surveyed by Mr. Peter Fidler. Lot #12 was smaller than the other lots.