In the State Capitol State Park surrounding the Capitol stands a statute of Dr. John McLoughlin. It’s not known how or when his cane went missing. As part of the Capitol 75th Birthday Celebration, the Foundation’s gift to the Capitol restored the statue to its original design by replacing the missing cane.
The 1957 Legislature bestowed upon Dr. McLoughlin the honorary title of “Father of Oregon” in recognition of his great contributions to the early development of the Oregon Country.
Dr. John McLoughlin originally came to the Northwest region in 1824 as a representative of the Hudson’s Bay Company. He served from 1825 to 1846 as chief factor for the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Columbia District based at Fort Vancouver where he played a key role in the development of the Oregon Country.
His instructions were to monopolize the fur trade, keep peace with Indian tribes, and discourage agricultural settlement in the region. He succeeded for a time and earned the name “White Headed Eagle” from Indians. Over time, however, fur trading declined and missionaries and pioneers moved into the region from the United States beginning in the 1830s. Faced with this reality, McLoughlin provided assistance, advice, and supplies to settlers and in the process sealed the fate of the Hudson’s Bay Company in the region.
In 1846 Great Britain and the United States signed a treaty setting the boundary at the 49th parallel (the current border with Canada). McLoughlin retired from the company and settled in Oregon City. He remained a prominent figure while operating a milling and merchandising business and he became a U.S. citizen in 1849. Despite the status earned by his years of humanitarian aid to settlers, McLoughlin was forced to forfeit most of his land claim in Oregon City after opponents managed to include a clause to that effect in the Donation Land Act of 1850. The forfeited land was not returned until after his death in 1857.
More information available at Oregon State Archives Exhibit.