REID, JAMES MURRAY, HBC employee and merchant; b. 15 Oct. 1802 in the Orkney Islands; d. 24 April 1868 at Victoria, B.C.
James Murray Reid entered the Hudson’s Bay Company’s marine service about 1822 and became first officer of Prince Albert and later Prince Rupert, both of which voyaged out of London to Hudson Bay. In 1849 Vancouver Island became a British crown colony open to colonization and trade, and soon after the HBC gave Reid command of Vancouver, a new brigantine of 184 tons designed for the west coast service. The ship, the third of that name built by the HBC, set sail from London on 30 June 1852 and Reid arrived in Victoria in mid December with his wife Mary Petrie and their three daughters.
In 1853, after a busy trading season which included a voyage to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), Vancouver left Victoria for Fort Simpson with “outfits” for the northern posts. Within 50 miles of Fort Simpson she ran aground on treacherous Rose Spit off the northeastern tip of the Queen Charlotte Islands, and was set on fire to prevent the cargo, which included spirits, from falling into the hands of Indians. The loss of the ship was serious for both the company and the colony since all trade on the coast was disrupted.
Reid himself had lost his income and decided to enter business as an independent mercantile importer. He purchased waterfront lots for warehouse and wharf facilities in Victoria, and established connections with London wholesale houses. In 1858 he was joined by his son-in-law, William John Macdonald. They profited greatly by the rapid growth of trade resulting from the Fraser River gold rush of that year. Their properties in Victoria included elegant 19th century brick buildings in Bastion Square. Reid was appointed port warden for Esquimalt and Victoria in 1859 and elected town councillor in Victoria in 1862. In that year he sold his business to devote himself to public service and remained prominent in civic and community affairs until his death.
PABC, John Sebastian Helmcken, “Reminiscences” (5v., typescript, 1892). Daily British Colonist and Victoria Chronicle, 20 April, 1 Dec. 1859; 20 May, 18 Aug. 1862; 25 June 1863; 25 April 1868. Walbran, B.C. coast names. W. J. Macdonald, A pioneer, 1851 ([Victoria?, 1851]).