Origin of Sir George Simpson School
On June 17th, 1961, the Honourable A.O. Aalborg laid the cornerstone that established the second school in the young St. Albert School District. During the many years since it's founding, that little, six-classroom school has evolved into a three-level, multi-faceted educational facility. Changes in programmes, technology, facilities, and physical plant have dramatically altered the original "little yellow schoolhouse" that stood on this site.
The choice of school names in those early days of the District honoured those people who were instrumental in the exploration and promotion of Western Canada. Our school is named after Sir George Simpson, a colourful and powerful nineteenth century explorer. Arriving in British North America from Scotland, George Simpson quickly rose in the ranks of the Hudson Bay Company. By 1826, Simpson was the Governor-in-Chief over all of the Hudson Bay Company's territory in Rupert's Land (now the western Provinces and the Territories). The man was as large as the land he ruled with an iron fist. He was responsible for establishing and maintaining "law, order, and good government" throughout the territory. He made several adventurous expeditions through the virgin territory, never travelling without his Highlands piper to formally announce his arrival even in the most remote of Native settlements.
One thing is important to know: Sir George Simpson would have accomplished nothing without the help of the Metis Voyageurs. The Metis Voyageurs were the ones who paddled the rivers along with him, singing in French and in Cree. They are the ones who made his success possible and they are the ones who contributed to Sir George Simpson success.
Already in 1841, many fur hunters thought that they should be allowed to sale their furs to whoever would pay the most. They opposed the monopoly of the Hudson Bay company and they wanted Free Trade with the Americans. Some of them would even try to smuggle their furs South of the border. This is Sir George Simpson's answer to the smugglers and the supporters of Free Trade:
"No doubt you think the smugglers are in the right. But they aren't, not yet. They aren't ready for Free Trade. By keeping monopoly in one strong hand we can control the killing of the wild animals. If everyone were allowed to buy and sell furs, in a few years there would be no fur-bearing animals left. I've discouraged Free Trading and I tried to get them interested in something that will bring them smaller, but steadier income." (Sir George Simpson, as quoted by Olive Knox. By Paddle and Saddle. MacMillan Ed., Toronto, 1943. P. 107
He is credited with establishing transportation and communication systems across the vast prairies and mountain ranges, not to mention his outstanding administration of the Company's interests in the entire region. So magnificent was his service to the Company that in 1841, he was knighted by order of Her Majesty, Queen Victoria! After more than forty years of faithful service to the Company, Sir George retired in 1860. His life of great accomplishments and high adventure, ended with his peaceful death in Lachine, Quebec.