Dr. John Mcloughlin
John McLoughlin was one of the most influential figures of the fur trade and settlement periods of Pacific Northwest history. Chief Factor of the Columbia District of the British Hudson’s Bay Company, he reigned as a benevolent autocrat, befriended Americans, and eventually became an American citizen at Oregon City. He was born in Quebec in 1784 and trained as a physician near Montreal. He became a physician and traveled to the Northwest region in 1824 as a representative of the Hudson Bay Company.
Here he occupied the position of Chief Factor from 1825, when the regional headquarters of the company was moved from old Fort Astoria to Fort Vancouver, until his retirement in 1845. During his reign as Chief Factor, Dr. John McLoughlin directed the operations of the fur trade in all the country west of the Rocky Mountains and north of the California line, as well as the more localized activities of agriculture, livestock raising, sawmilling, flour milling, dairying, and salmon fishing.
From 1825 to 1843, when the provisional government was first established by the settlers in the Willamette Valley, he was the undisputed governor of the vast area bounded by the Rocky Mountains on the east, Mexican territory (California) on the south, the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Russian settlements on the north. Dr. John McLoughlin exercised control over the Indians of the region, welcomed and provisioned missionaries and settlers, encouraged schools and church instruction, and for a number of years was the only medical practitioner in the region.
His contributions to the development of the Northwest region in general and the Oregon country, in particular, make him truly deserving of the title by which he is often referred to, “Father of the Oregon” In 1857, the man who had ruled an empire two and a half times the size of Texas, died broken and bitter. He was 75 at the time. Five years later, in an act of penitence, the legislature of the new State of Oregon restored his land to his heirs. Time Line 1784 – John McLoughlin was born in Riviere du Loup, St. Lawrence, Canada. 1798 – Begins medical apprenticeship. 1803 – Begins the practice of medicine in Montreal.
After a few months attaches himself to the North West Company as a resident physician at Fort William, on Lake Superior. 1812 – McLoughlin marries Marguerite Waden McKay, by whom he had four children. 1821 – North West Company merges with Hudson’s Bay Company. McLoughlin is put in charge of Hudson’s Bay Company’s Fort William on Lake Superior. 1824 – The Hudson’s Bay Company sends McLoughlin west to become Chief Factor of the Columbia District with headquarters then at Fort George, at the mouth of the Columbia River. 1825 – The headquarters are transferred to Ft. Vancouver. 1827 – McLoughlin oversees the building of the first lumber mill in the Pacific Northwest.
1829 – The Hudson’s Bay Company, under Dr. McLoughlin, takes a land claim at The Falls and encourages former trappers to settle nearby in French Prairie. 1834 – Jason Lee is welcomed and aided by Dr. McLoughlin. 1836 – Marcus and Narcissa Whitman are welcomed to Fort Vancouver by Dr. McLoughlin. 1842 – McLoughlin surveys and lays out the town site of Oregon City, replacing the commonly used name of Willamette Falls. 1842 – John McLoughlin, Jr. (the doctor’s second son) is shot and killed. 1842 – Doctor McLoughlin becomes a Roman Catholic. 1842.
The first four American migrations (1842 – 1845) are protected, aided, and supplied by Dr. McLoughlin. In 1843 – Hudson’s Bay Company opens a store in Oregon City. 1844 – Oregon City is incorporated by the Provisional Government. 1846 – McLoughlin leaves service of Hudson’s Bay Company and takes up residence at Oregon City. 1848 – Joseph McLoughlin (oldest child of Dr. McLoughlin) dies near Champoeg, Oregon. 1849 – John McLoughlin and Robert Moore make an application to the county court to keep a ferry across the Willamette River to and from Oregon and Linn counties.
1849 – McLoughlin makes the Declaration of Intention to become an American citizen. 1850 – A clause is inserted into the Oregon donation land law which strips McLoughlin of his land claim near Willamette Falls. 1851 – McLoughlin becomes an American citizen. 1851- Doctor McLoughlin is elected mayor of Oregon City. 1857 – Doctor John McLoughlin dies. 1889 – A portrait of John McLoughlin is accepted by Governor Pennoyer and placed in the Oregon Senate chamber. 1941 – The McLoughlin house is designated as a National Historic Site by the United States Department of the Interior. 1953 – A statue of Dr. John McLoughlin is unveiled in the National Statuary Hall in Washington D.C. 1957 – Dr. John McLoughlin was given the title Father of Oregon by the Oregon Legislative Assembly. 1970 – Dr. and Mrs. John McLoughlin’s graves are moved to Oregon City.