Thomas Bunn was born at Hendon, Middlesex, England about 1765. A freeman of the City of London, and of the Draper’s Company, he had been apprenticed to an oilman in Aldgate, London, and had established his own business in Bloomsbury. He married Jane Roper in England in 1789. Jane died in 1795 and Thomas joined the HBC as a writer in 1797. (1) Thomas was first posted to Albany House, where he entered into a ‘country marriage’ with Sarah McNab, daughter of John McNab, a surgeon in charge of Albany House. John and Sarah had two children, Nancy and John.
Thomas was next posted to York Factory where Sarah died in 1806. Thomas’s third wife was Phoebe Sinclair, daughter of William Sinclair-6443. By 1819 the Bunn family were at Rock Depot, where Thomas and Phoebe were formally married by John West, HBC Chaplain, on 9 September 1820. On the same day, four of their children were baptized: Sarah, Frances, Eleanor, William. Another child, a daughter, had died in 1816. The baptismal register records that Thomas was District Master at Rock Depot. (2)
Thomas left the service of the HBC in 1822 and he and his family moved to the settlement. He was granted lot 758 (Kempt’s survey) on the east side of the Red River. Phoebe died in 1848 and Thomas in 1853. They are buried in St. John’s churchyard.
John Bunn (6442), son of Thomas and Sarah, was sent to Edinburgh for schooling. He entered the School of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, but after two years his grandfather, John McNab, persuaded him to accept a position as surgeon at Moose Factory. During the next five years he served as a surgeon at several posts as well as on the Company’s ship, Eddystone. In 1824 he left the HBC service and moved to the Red River Settlement to begin a private medical practice. In 1829 he married Catherine Thomas, with whom he had three sons. He returned to the University of Edinburgh to upgrade his qualifications and became a licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons. Bunn was usually the only doctor in the settlement and was highly respected. His wife died in 1834 and he did not remarry. John died in 1861. Bunn’s Creek Centennial Park in North Kildonan, Winnipeg, is named in his honour.
Thomas Bunn (19630), the eldest son of Dr. Bunn, became a well-known farmer, lawyer, and politician. In 1862 he had a home built on the east side of the Red River near Selkirk. Bunn House, constructed of limestone blocks, is one of the oldest homes in Manitoba and was named a provincial heritage site in 1998.
(1) HBCA C.1/743, passenger list of the Prince of Wales, outward bound 1797
(2) The HBCA biographical sheet lists him as an accountant at Rock Depot