John Bell (explorer)

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For other people of the same name, see John Bell (disambiguation).

John Bell (c. 1799 – 24 June 1868) was a Hudson's Bay Company governor and explorer.

In 1839, he was sent to explore the land west of the Mackenzie River. With the assistance of Alexander Kennedy Isbister, he established Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories on the Peel River not far from the Mackenzie, and explored the Peel into what is now the Yukon Territory.

In 1845, he crossed the mountains into the Yukon River watershed, and went down the Rat River to its confluence with the Porcupine River. The Rat River has been renamed the Bell River in his honour. After managing the fur trade at Fort McPherson until 1845, he returned to the Bell River, and Followed the Porcupine to its juncture with the Yukon River, the eventual site of Fort Yukon. He set the stage for the Yukon trade which proved extremely lucrative for the Hudson's Bay Company and for Canada's claim over what is now the Yukon Territory.

He had some involvement in organizing John Rae's 1848–1849 expedition to search for Sir John Franklin, and continued working in the Mackenzie District for the Hudson's Bay Company until 1860. After retiring from the company, he farmed in Saugeen, Ontario until his death.

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