Victoria McVicar's parents- Christina (McBeth/McBeath)? and Robert portraits by J. Colin Forbes.
Submitted by The City of Thunder Bay Heritage Advisory Committee
Name: Victoria McVicar
Date of birth: late 1830’s in the Montreal area
Date of death: Sept 29, 1899 in Port Arthur
Accomplishments related to: ie. Education, community development, government…
Major affiliations: Imperial Federation League
Contributions: office holder, teacher, and businesswoman
Victoria was born to Robert and Christina McVicar in the late 1830's. After her father retired from the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1830 he sought permanent employment and moved his family amongst tiny settlements on the edge of the Huron Tract in Upper Canada. In 1860 the family moved northwest to Thunder Bay, settling at the site of Prince Arthur’s Landing (later Port Arthur) on McVicar Creek where Robert McVicar had received an appointment as land agent and postmaster.
Victoria spent time with relatives in Red River (Manitoba) and it is there that she developed a relationship with Métis leader Louis Riel. It is reported that she played a minor part in the negotiations for the release of his prisoners.
Following the death of her father in 1864, Victoria, her sister Christina, and their widowed mother lived in Fort William running the post office. For many years Victoria assisted her sister, who was postmaster from 1864 to 1895, and then succeeded her in that position. In the 1860s she had served briefly as a tutor to the children of HBC employees and, as a result, has been described as Fort William’s first teacher.
Victoria was noted as a shrewd bargainer. She successfully negotiated for 600 acres of land near their first home at the Landing, which was claimed to have been promised to their father and for 50 acres at Fort William, on behalf of their mother. In 1883, she negotiated a highly advantageous contract with the Canadian Pacific Railway for the family holdings in Port Arthur.
Victoria died in 1899, reportedly of a “weakness of the heart, aggravated by acute asthma from which she was long a sufferer.”
Victoria Ave is named for her and McVicar Street and McVicar Creek are named after her family and sit on land that was part of their 600 acres.
The location of the first rail station in Port Arthur was dictated by the McVicars as a condition of the sale of land to the railway syndicate.