Thomas McKee

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Often identified as a portrait of his father Alexander, this is probably Thomas McKee because the uniform is that of an officer of the 60th Regiment of Foot of the 1790s.

Thomas McKee (c. 1770 – 20 October 1814) was a Canadian soldier and political figure.


McKee was born in the Ohio Country around 1770. He was the son of Alexander McKee (c. 1735–1799), an important official in the British Indian Department, and the grandson of Thomas McKee (c.1695–1769), a veteran of King George's War and the French and Indian War as well as a business associate of George Croghan. His great-grandfather Alexander McKee (d.1740) immigrated to Pennsylvania from County Antrim, Ireland, around 1707, and was a veteran of the Battle of the Boyne.

Thomas McKee's mother, Nonhelema, was a Shawnee chief nicknamed "The Grenadier Squaw." She was the sister of Chief Cornstalk, and supported peace with the young United States. McKee's uncles, Red Tail Hawk and Cornstalk, where murdered at Fort Randolph (Fort Blair, Arbuckle) in 1777, which may explain the decisions to remain a British subject in the following years. The local Shawnee were known for their large families.

In 1788, the Ojibwa and Ottawa granted him a lease for Pelee Island for 999 years. In 1791, he became a member of the 60th Regiment of Foot of the British Army at Detroit, eventually reaching the rank of Captain in 1796. In the same year, he became superintendent of Indian affairs for the Northwestern District. In 1797, he also became responsible for the Amherstburg region and he was elected to represent Kent in the 2nd Parliament of Upper Canada. McKee was reelected in 1800 to represent Essex. Around 1806, his duties with the 60th Foot ended, he joined the local militia and served as a Major in the militia during the War of 1812. In 1814, he was accused of grave misconduct, having gotten drunk and allowed his native followers to become drunk and disorderly.

He died near Île des Cascades in Lower Canada in 1814 while travelling to Montreal.