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Second Generation
Descendants of Peter Fidler

Harriet Fidler

HARRIET FIDLER (1837-1924)

Harriet FIDLER was born Oct 20, 1839, in St James, Manitoba, the daughter of halfbreeds Elizabeth (nee HALLETT) and Alban FIDLER (1809-1879). She was a granddaughter of Peter FIDLER of Bolsover, England, the famous HBC surveyor, explorer and trader. Harriet was baptised Nov 15, 1837 at St John’s Anglican Church.

Harriet grew up in St James where her father was a Magistrate.

Three of her older sisters (Isabella, Maria and Matilda) died as teenagers between 1849 and 1851, probably due to tuberculosis.

In 1855 her oldest sister (Elizabeth) married John BOURKE Jr., son of Nancy CAMPBELL & Irishman John Palmer BOURKE. The BOURKE family owned a lot of land in St James, including the “Colony Farm” (an experimental farm previously owned by the HBC).

On July 27, 1859 Harriet married Benjamin McKENZIE at St James Anglican Church.


Benjamin McKENZIE was born Sep 15, 1837 at Fort Vancouver, the youngest child of Catherine (nee CAMPBELL) and Benjamin McKENZIE Sr (1807-1837), Chief Accountant for the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). When Ben was born his father was at sea, approaching the Hawaiian Islands where he had been sent as an accountant in hopes that the climate there might cure his chest pains. Ben Sr died of Tuberculosis before he reached the islands, only about 30 years old. He was buried Sep 16, 1837 at Honolulu. He would never hold his youngest son (Benjamin Jr) who had been born just one day earlier, back at Fort Vancouver.

Ben's widowed mother (Catherine) was only 22 years old when her husband died. She had to take her three youngsters (Ben Jr, Angelique & Colin) to northern Saskatchewan where their paternal grandparents lived. These were Angelique (nee MALLOTTE) and Roderick McKENZIE SR (1772-1859), HBC Chief Factor at Ile-a-la-Crosse.  This meant crossing the Rockies and enduring a very long arduous journey for the young family.

Grampa Roddy was a cousin of Sir Roderick MacKENZIE, the famous explorer and partner of the North West Company (NWC). Grandma Angelique was an Ojibwe woman from the Nipigon district of Ontario.

When Ben was around five years old his mother (Catherine) became the wife of William CLOUSTON (1818-1877) from the Orkneys.

Ben was 7 years old when he and his brother Colin were sent to be educated at the St John's Red River Boarding School in 1845.  Ben would attend St John's for the next 12 years (until 1857). 

Ben, in his reminiscences (written perhaps 70 yrs later), said that Rev John McCALLUM was a "conscientious and faithful worker, but a very severe pedagogue".  Regarding his own time under him being "as bitter as Egyptian slavery," he adds "He over-estimated the value of the use of the rod, as it is in the schools of today”
McALLUM applied a double standard against native women.  His attitude was carried to cruel lengths; in his zeal for social propriety, he forbade his pupils from having any contact with their mothers if they had been guilty of "living in sin" with their fathers.

Some of Ben’s school mates at St John’s who later became notable Canadians were Richard HARDISTY (1790-1865). HARDISTY became the father-in-law of Lady STRATHCONA and grandfather of Senator James LOUGHEED, and also ancestor of Alberta’s Premier Peter LAOUGHEED) and Premier John NORQUAY (1841-1887).
Ben’s brother, Colin McKENZIE (1836-1899) was later sent to Cambridge University in England, and in 1890 he was elected to the BC Provincial Legislature as the member from Nanaimo.
Other native clergymen of note who also attended St Johns include Rev Henry BUDD (1814-1875), the first Indian to be ordained into the priesthood; Rev James HOPE (b-c1818); Charles PRATT (b-c1815); James SETTEE (1809-1902) and Rev Henry COCHRANE (1827-1898).

Grampa Roddy essentially retired in 1850.  He was 78 yrs old by then, and was given 2 successive years of furlough before he was ultimately retired to Red River Settlement in summer of 1852.

In 1854 Ben’s sister (Angelique) married Alexander GUNN (1829-1902), son of Donald GUNN (later the Honourable Donald GUNN, a prominent member of Manitoba’s first legislature).

Ben’s brother Colin went to Cambridge, England where he took his BA in 1857 from St Peters College.

Ben left St John’s School in 1857 to become a teacher in St James and later Portage la Prairie.

Grampa Roddy died in January of 1859 and on July 27 the same year Ben married Harriet FIDLER.
Grandma Angelique died in November of 1859. Both of Ben’s grandparents were buried at the United Church Cemetery, Little Britain (northwest of Lockport).

Ben’s first three children were born at Portage la Prairie by 1864 (Eliza, Harriet and Catherine). Ben then moved to Victoria Mission at Pakan, Alberta (The Saddle Lake Reserve, west of St Paul) where he continued as a teacher, and where four more children were born by .1873 (Colin, Evangeline, Rod Alex & Ellen Annie).

Ben was asked to move back to Manitoba (St James) where he could study for the Ministry at St John's College. In 1875 he claimed Métis Scrip for his children (Eliza, Harriet, Catherine, Colin and Evangeline). Benjamin Jrwas born in 1876. Harriet’s parents also lived in St James and in 1876 they donated land for the first school to be built there.

Ben became an accomplished scholar and could teach Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and French. He was ordained as and Anglican minister around 1876 at the age of 39 and soon after he was assigned to Cumberland House (SK) as missionary to the Indians there. They travelled by York boat, and Harriet’s cousin, William FIDLER, guided the family to their new location. Son Samuel was born there in 1878. Also at Cumberland, Ben presided over the 1879 marriage of his nineteen year old daughter Eliza to Angus McLEOD. Son Ferdinand was born there in 1880.
In 1881 Rev Benjamin McKENZIE was transferred to the St Peters Indian Reserve north of Selkirk to replace Rev Gilbert COOK. In addition he was responsible for other missions as well, requiring him to travel about.

Son Hubert Douglas was born July 2, 1882 at Gilbert Plains, MB.

Son Archibald was born in 1885, the 12th and last (youngest) child in the family.

Ben retired in 1890 to the Parish of St Clements (East Lockport) where they lived for the next 15 years, and he was in charge of the Mission at Lake Manitoba, St Andrew's Parish, and the Black River Mission, frequently assisting Archdeacon THOMAS in the service of the Parish of St Clements.

In 1894 daughter Catherine married in Selkirk to Thomas FITZGERALD
In 1896 son Colin married in Selkirk to Matilda Catherine BIRSTON.
In 1896 daughter Helen married John Edward HARRIOTT
In 1900 son Rod Alex married in Selkirk to Mary Anne BIRSTON (Matilda’s sister).

The Census of 1901 (St Clements Parish, East of the Red) enumerated Ben (age 63), wife Harriet (age 61) and the following children living with them: Evangeline, Benjamin Jr, Samuel, Ferdinand, Herbert and Archibald.

In 1903 daughter Harriet married at St Clements to Robert SPENCE.

In 1905 Ben settled at Robinson Spur (Netley/Matlock, MB) where he was enumerated in the Census of 1906. Harriet was recorded in the same census on Lot 113 (Lower Fort Garry) with their children (Eva, Ferdinand, Douglas and Findlay).

Son Hubert Douglas married Dec 16, 1906 at his father’s home to Charlotte Christine LYONS.
Son Ferdinand married Feb 18, 1909 at St Clements Church to Minota BEGG.

Harriet died at Matlock on Sep 21, 1924 at the age of 86.
Rev Benjamin McKENZIE died May 10, 1928 at Matlock at the age of 91.

1. Oct 1, 1860 ELIZA McKENZIE (m. Angus McLEOD) 
2. March 13, 1862 HARRIET McKENZIE (m1. Robert SPENCE, m3. John LEASK, ?m3. David BOSWELL)
3. Jun 18, 1864 CATHERINE McKENZIE (m. Thomas F FITZGERALD)
4. July 21, 1866 COLIN CAMPBELL McKENZIE (m. Matilda Catherine BIRSTON)
8. March 3, 1876 BENJAMIN McKENZIE JR (Never married)
9. June 10, 1878 SAMUEL REGINALD McKENZIE (Never married)
10. July 22, 1880 FERDINAND "FERD" McKENZIE (m. Minota BEGG) 
11. July 2, 1882 HUBERT DOUGLAS McKENZIE (m. Charlotte Christina LYONS)
                                                                                (?m1. Elizabeth Ellen McCORRISTER, m2. Ruth McCABE)




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