McPhail, Angus

Angus McPhail was born in Lewis, Scotland around 1809. He entered the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1837 and served as a middleman/labourer at Fort Langley from 1838 to 1846 when he was transferred to Fort Victoria. McPhail, apparently a fluent Gaelic speaker, was mentioned frequently in the Journal as he and his assistant, Jean-Baptiste Dupuis, attended to the daily operation of the two dairies which kept up to 170 cattle. Besides supervising the production of milk and butter, he was in charge of keeping track of and taming cattle, assisting in the birth of calves, and slaughtering the occasional animal. McPhail was frequently reported to be on the sick list and, along with many residents of the Fort and the surrounding area, suffered from the measles in the late spring of 1848. He had two wives (perhaps three) and produced at least three daughters; one known to be named Ann and another Mary. On his retirement in 1855 he squatted on land in Saanich where he became the first white settler. In 1858 he obtained legal title to the one hundred and seventy-seven acres he named the "Bay Farm". He died in Saanich in 1884.



  • Bell, Betty. The Fair Land: Saanich. Victoria: Sono Nis Press, 1982.
  • Evans, Mike. "Angus McPhail." BC Metis Mapping Project.
  • Hudson's Bay Company Archives. "McPhail, Angus." Biographical Sheets.
  • Katernick, Laurel.  “Angus McPhail.”  The Children of Fort Langley.      
  • Watson, Bruce McIntyre. Lives Lived West of the Divide. Kelowna: Centre for Social, Spatial, and Economic Justice, University of British Columbia, 2010.
Graham Brazier