« AnteriorContinuar »
The sentiment of opposition to this Vancouver scheme of the company was vigorously expressed in An Examination of the Charter and Proceedings of the Hudson's Bay Company, with reference to the Grant of Vancouver's Island. By James Edward Fitzgerald (London, 1849). The quotation from Tacitus on the title-page, of “ Ubi solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant," indicates the severity of the author's judgment against the policy and influence of the monopolizing company. The work is dedicated to Mr. Gladstone. . When the proposition for this additional charter was before Parliament, Mr. Gladstone opposed it in a very able speech, arraigning the course of the company. Mr. Fitzgerald writes earnestly and ably in the same spirit of opposition, with much severity of criticism, exposure, and censure of the company. He addresses himself in the main to controverting the book by Mr. R. M. Martin, which he regards as of a “ palpably official character” in the interest of the company, wrought from documents furnished by it and obtained from the government. He argues against the validity of the charter, exposes the selfishness and greed of the company acting under it, as it had failed of its main pretences of exploring the country and improving the condition of the Indians, and traces the injurious influence and results of its spirit and operations upon the interests of the mother country, upon the native Indian population, and upon those who have attempted to plant colonies under it. The work is candid and well authenticated in its statements, and had a damaging effect upon the company.
John McLean, in his Notes of a Twenty-Five Years' Service in the Hudson's Bay Territory (London, 1849), writes frankly and in guarded terms, and is one of that class who, in relating their own experience as servants of the Bay Company, pass a very severe judgment upon its policy and its treatment of those who are in its service in the most arduous though most humble posts of duty. The writer entered upon that service in 1820, just before the coalition with the Northwest Company, so that he had to contend in his place with opposition from it, as also afterwards with individual free-traders. He served at posts most widely separated in distance, as in New Caledonia and in Labrador, as well as in many intermediate ones. His journeys to and fro involved hair-breadth perils with sharp deprivations. The writer, by printing the full evidence of it, makes it plain that Governor Simpson, influenced by favoritism, broke faith with him when, by full service, he was entitled to promotion, and drove him to retire in disgust. Here is his frank statement :
“This last act of the governor made me completely disgusted with a service where such acts would be tolerated. In no colony subject to the British crown is there to be found an authority so despotic as is at this day exercised in the mercantile colony of Rupert's Land: an authority combining the despotism of military rule with the strict surveillance and mean parsimony of the avaricious trader. From Labrador to Nootka Sound, the unchecked, uncontrolled will of a single individual gives law to the land. As to the nominal council which is yearly convoked for form's sake, the few individuals who compose it know better than to offer advice where none would be accepted ; they know full well that the governor has already determined on his own measures before one of them appears in his presence. Their assent is all that is expected of them, and that they never hesitate to give.” (Vol. ii. 235.)
We find in John Ryerson's Hudson's Bay: or a Missionary Tour in the Territory of the Hudson's Bay Company (Toronto, 1855) a body of letters written by a Wesleyan missionary in his visits (1854-55) to some of the stations under the support of his religious organization. The writer has but little to say about any important results reached by religious efforts among the natives, but he finds satisfaction in some gleams of hope from the efforts of faithful laborers. He gives incidentally fragments of interesting information of the operations of the Bay Company, from whose officers and servants he
1 Cf. Journal of Peter Jacobs, Indian Wesleyan account of his life, and a short History of the Missionary, from Rice Lake to the Hudson's Bay Wesleyan Mission in that country (New York, territory. Commencing May, 1852. With a brief 1857).
received courtesy and hospitality. His route was wholly by the watercourses. He sets down minute details of distances, portages, camping-places, and the incidents of travel, of life at the posts which he visited, and of the efforts of garden and field culture. He speaks kindly of the company, its methods and conduct.
The history of Lord Selkirk's settlement down to 1852 is covered in Alexander Ross's ! The Red River Settlement : its Rise, Progress, and present State. With some account of the Native Races and its general history to the present day (London, 1856). The writer was at an early age in the employ of the Hudson Bay Company at a post deep in the wilderness, and after many years of service took up his residence in the settlement where he has held prominent and honored positions, highly respected and confided in. Most intelligently and impartially does he trace the history and development of the colony from its troubled and distracted beginnings to the comparative prosperity which it reached. It had not, however, come to the end, either of its internal or its external conflicts, when he closed his work. With some few exceptional strictures, he in general terms approves the policy and conduct of the Bay Company. While expressing his belief that Mr. Isbister, in his sharp controversy with the company, was betrayed by the unfounded representations of his countrymen, he speaks in the highest terms of respect of that gentleman for his personal excellence and humanity. Very full, interesting, and trustworthy accounts are given in the volume of the good and the ill conditions mixed in the settlement; its resources and prospects; of its agricultural and social life; of the native tribes around it, and of the stirring hunting expeditions. Especially sagacious and practical are the views of the author about the contentions of religious sects and the necessity that civilization should precede “conversion."
Of Robert Michael Ballantyne's sprightly and entertaining Hudson's Bay: or everyday life in the Wilds of North America, during six years' residence in the Territories of the Hon. Hudson's Bay Company (London, 3d ed., 1857) there have been repeated editions. The writer describes himself to have been in his Highland home in 1841, when he was thrilled with joy on his appointment as an apprentice clerk in the service of the Hudson Bay Company. Robust and vigorous in constitution and animated in spirits, he entered with full zest into the conditions and duties of his office, with its tasks and hardships, and found full enjoyment in its rude relaxations. Making many long journeys by boats in the open season and with dog-sledges in the winter, he describes with minuteness of detail all the methods of travel, the smooth and the rough passages, the toil over the portages, the shooting of rapids, the trailing or dragging of boats up cascades by cheery voyageurs having but a slippery footing on precipitous banks; the coming in to the posts of the wild bands of boisterous Indians, their women, children, and dogs, with furs and hides, and the opening riot of intoxication, the method of trade, the giving forth of supplies, and the return of quiet; the gay scenes of half-breed life, the dance and the wedding On his homeward way the writer went by Lake Superior and the old Canadian posts to Quebec and Tadousac, a journey of many hardships and romantic incidents.2
Mr. Joseph James Hargrave was evidently an intelligent observer and candid reporter of matters which came under his own knowledge during his seven years' residence in the Dominion province now called Manitoba. He traces in his Red River (Montreal, 1871) the history of the Red River settlement from its origin under Lord Selkirk, and gives a sufficiently full statement of the disasters, sufferings, and finally the limited prosperity
1 Cf. also his Fur Hunters of the Far West tive of an Expedition from the Atlantic to the (London, 1855).
Pacific (London, 1865). The route followed was ? As illustrating other adventures of this down the Red River to Fort Garry, hence period, cf. Archibald McDonald's Peace River, through British Columbia. The writers both a canoe voyage from Hudson's Bay to the Pacific wield a ready and lively pen, sketching many (Ottawa, 1872), and the publication by Viscount striking scenes, with incidents of perilous advenMilton and Dr. Wm. B. Cheadle, called The ture, strange companionships, hunting expediNorthwest Passage by Land. Being the Narra- tions, and camp-life.
which it had reached at the time of his visit. It will be remembered that the settlement was the scene of the sharpest rivalry and contests, involving a great loss of life, between the opposing parties of the Hudson Bay and the Northwest Companies. Notwithstanding its chartered privileges and its position and resources on the spot, the Bay Company was the loser in that strife. The period of Mr. Hargrave's residence was between 1861 and 1869. The volume will always be of high historical value, because it so faithfully describes and comments upon scenes and occurrences which have so rapidly changed on the panorama of the past. The community which he portrays was a strangely heterogeneous one, bringing together people of many nationalities, of various mixtures of blood, and
many of whom appeared during the year in the three characters of farmers, fishermen, and hunters.
In 1873, the investigation over the bounds of the province of Ontario led to two treatises, both of which are retrospective in their historical bearing. In David Mills' Boundaries of Ontario (Toronto, 1873), the second part is given to a historical summary of the French and English contests for the possession of Hudson's Bay from 1670 to the treaty of Utrecht; while a sketch of the early rivalry of the French and English in securing the fur trade is found in Charles Lindsey's Investigations of the unsettled Boundaries of Ontario (Toronto, 1873).
In The Great Lone Land: A Narrative of Travel and Adventure in the Northwest of America (London, 1873), Captain W. F. Butler relates the occasion of his first range of distant travel in the Northwest. His errand into the country was induced by an official connection with the military expedition which went from Canada to suppress the revolt of the French half-breeds, under the “ Dictator" Louis Riel, in 1869–1870, when the Red River settlement was made over from the control of the Bay Company to the Dominion of Canada. He passed through the United States, and anticipated for several months the arrival of the military force which came by the old Canadian route. He himself had some stirring adventures. Being on the spot, a keen, intelligent, and impartial observer, he gives us a most graphic account of the revolt, which threatened to be very serious in its origin and progress, but which ended in an absurd and inglorious discomfiture. Intending to return after this affair, he found himself invested with some judicial functions and the power of conferring them on others. He was thus led to make an expedition through the Saskatchewan Valley all the way to the company's post at the Mountain House, meeting with all the wild experiences of free adventure. He was an intrepid traveller, heroic and enduring, and his pages are vigorously written. He received the hospitalities of the company's officers and posts, and he passes no strictures on its policy. He traversed regions in which the natives had been wellnigh extirpated by an appalling visitation of the smallpox, which had also been severe in its ravages at some of the posts. He took with him large supplies of medical stores and directions for treating the disease. He is an ardent champion of the native qualities and the rights of the red man in his ever-ruinous contact with the whites.
A year later, Captain Butler, in his Wild North Land, being the story of a winter journey with dogs across northern North America (London, 1874), gives a delightful and instructive narrative of another expedition in the wilderness. This was wholly of a private nature, and was prompted by the spirit of adventure, made more exciting by its previous indulgence. His wanderings this time were principally on foot. He started from the Red River in the autumn of 1872, and in March following reached Lake Athabasca. Then he followed the winding Peace River to the Rocky Mountains, and through the north of British Columbia and New Caledonia, coming out on Fraser's River in June. His transient stops at the posts of the Bay Company, his sketches of the articles in which
1 Cf. Statutes, documents, and papers bearing on Correspondence, papers, and documents, 1856 the discussion respecting the northern and western 1882, relating to the northerly and westerly bounboundaries of Ontario, including the principal daries of Ontario (Toronto, 1882). evidence supposed to be for or against the Province (Toronto, 1878).
it trafficked, and his account of the wonderful mail-carriage in its semi-annual expeditions, furnish many lively and entertaining sketches.
The Earl of Southesk was substantially the guest of the Bay Company in 1859 and 1860, when he made the journey described in his Saskatchewan and the Rocky Alountains, A Diary and Narrative of Travel, Sport, and Adventure, during a Journey through the Hudson's Bay Company's Territories (Edinburgh, 1875). He had been promised its aid and furtherance as an inducement to his trip, and he received from it all needed help. As the title of the book shows, he was an amateur explorer and huntsman, with the spirit of free adventure. He describes with vividness and geniality the incidents of travel and the camp, and adds many interesting facts about the natural history of the region, its wild animals and the natives, giving us many sketches from his own pencil. 1
We find quite as much a summary of existing knowledge as of personal observation and experience in H. M. Robinson's Great Fur Land, or Sketches of Life in the Hudson's Bay Territory. With numerous Illustrations from Designs by Charles Gasche (New York, 1879). The book is written with much vivacity, and will have a charming interest for readers who seek for romantic narrative and sketches of wild life. He gives us very full particulars about the more recent operations and government of the Hudson Bay Company, without any reflections on its policy or administration, generally commending it for fairness and for wise and kindly dealing with the Indians. He presents with great vividness the scenes and conditions of life; the characters and habits of red men, white men, half-breeds, voyageurs, hunters, and traders ; the modes of travelling by canoe or dog-sledges ; life in the company's posts in summer and winter; the hunting expeditions ; methods of trapping; accounts of the fur trade; a winter camp ; the gayeties of wild festive scenes among the half-breeds; the mode in which traffic is carried on, and some statistics of the peltries.
George & Eelis.
i The reader may note some incongruity in ter's Tale,” “ Hamlet,” “Macbeth,” “Merchant the contents of the volume, as he finds in the of Venice," “ Othello,” “Comments on a Serappendix much miscellaneous matter on which mon," " Reflections on Patience and God's Prov. the writer employed his mind in intervals of rest. idence,” “Comments on Bunsen's Hippolytus," For example, we have remarks on “ The Win- etc.
The official and personal writings which have thus been surveyed involve, of course, the details of the history of the Hudson's Bay Company. Synoptical surveys of this history, with the extension of their field through the Indian territory and to the Pacific, will be found in H. H. Bancroft's Northwest Coast (ch. 14, etc.), and in Barrows's Oregon (ch. 6 and 12), where are particularly contrasted the opposing systems of settlement and of the trade for furs as brought into rivalry, to the advantage of the former in the saving of Oregon to the Amer. ican Union (see ante, Vol. VII.). Bancroft gives a separate chapter (ch. 15) to collating the evidence about " Forts and Fort Life." All general histories of Canada and of Arctic exploration necessarily touch the subject. The best bibliography of the company's history can be picked out of the list of publications prefixed by Bancroft to his Northwest Coast. Some of the less important ones are grouped together in his vol. i. p. 457. Cf. also the section on Hudson's Bay in Chavanne's Literatur über die Polar-Regionen (Vienna, 1874). The bibliography of the explorations in the Northwest may be primarily followed in Bryce's paper on “ Journeys in Rupert's Land,” in the Trans. Roy. Soc. Canada, 1886. The mass of periodical literature can be gleaned through Poole's Index, p. 611, and Supplement, — the best condensation of the history being found perhaps
in the Westminster Review (July, 1867), on “ The last great monopoly." There is an enumeration of the typical maps of the Hudson Bay region in Winsor's Kohl Collection of Maps, section iv.
No. 6 of the Papers of the Manitoba Hist. Soc. is devoted to the sources of the history of the Canadian Northwest. As regards the respective rights of the Hudson's Bay and Northwest Companies to the trade of the Winnipeg country, the question turned upon the validity of the parliamentary grant to the Hudson's Bay Company for an extension of their trade westerly of Rupert's Land, as against the rights inherited, or assumed by the Canadians as accruing by the accession of the rights of France, through exploration, before the cession of the country and its advantages to England by the Peace of Paris (1763). But the Hudson's Bay Company also claimed to have preceded the French in this region, by sending through it a young explorer, Henry Kelsey, in 1690.2 Vérandrye's explorations in 1731-49 were the earliest for the French (see references, ante, Vol. V. 567-8). La Franche first explored the route between Lake Superior and Hudson's Bay, 1738– 42. For a summary of overland explorations from 1640 to 1786, see ch. 19 of Bancroft's Northwest Coast, vol. i. The London Mag. in 1761 gave a map of the straits of St. Mary and Michillimackinac to show the situation and importance of the two westernmost settlements of Canada for the fur trade.
The history of the North West Company, formed at Montreal in 1787 by uniting various trading interests, can be followed in The origin and progress of the Northwest Company of Canada, with a history of the fur trade, as connected with that concern (London, 1811). Up to this time the main features of their career had been their occupation of the Red River district in 1788; the explorations of Mackenzie in their interest in 1789: the secession of the X Y Company, in 1796; its reunion with the parent body in 1804; the contract with the Astor people in 1810; their building their first fort on the Columbia in 1811. They bought out the J
Astoria post in 1813. The book just cited has a map exhibiting the principal trading stations of the Northwest Company; and another map, showing these stations, with the routes of the traders from Fort William, on Lake Superior, is given in Alexander M'Donell's Narrative of Transactions in the Red River Country (London, 1819). The issue between the rival companies came with the grant to the Earl of Selkirk, by the Hudson's Bay Company, of a tract in this Winnipeg region. Before applying to the Bay Company, Selkirk got the opinion of Romilly and others that the company was competent to make such a grant (Bryce's Manitoba, 147; Mills' Boundaries of Ontario, p. 404; House of Commons' Report, 323). The map in M'Donell's Narrative shows the extent of this territorial grant, as was claimed. Selkirk by this time had become a large owner of the Hudson's Bay Company.
Of the conflict which ensued between the servants of the two companies, on the part of the Northwest Company to expel the Selkirk colonists, and on the part of the Hudson's Bay Company to protect them, we have a good account of a looker-on in Ross Cox's Adventures on the Columbia River (London, 1831 ; New York, 1832); but the trials which followed in the Canadian courts give us the conflict of testimony: Report of the Proceedings connected with the disputes between the Earl of Selkirk and the Northwest Company at the Assizes held at York, in Upper Canada, October, 1878. From minutes taken in Court (Montreal, 1819; reprinted, London, 1819).
Report of trials in the Courts of Canada relative to the Destruction of the Earl of Selkirk's Settlement on the Red River, with observations. By A[ndrew] Amos (London, 1820). This is accompanied by a map of the Red River settlement as it was in 1816.
The publications of this period are hardly impartial. They espouse one side or the other. What may be considered the official representation of the Northwest Company is A Narrative of Occurrences in the Indian Countries of North America since the connection of the Earl of Selkirk with the Hudson's Bay Company, and his attempt to establish a colony on the Red River; with a detailed account of his Lordshig's military expedition to, and subsequent proceedings at, Fort William (London, 1817). 4
The protest on Selkirk's part can be found in his Sketch of the British fur trade in North America ; with observations relative to the Northwest Company of Montreal (London, J. Ridgeway, 1816), which originally appeared in the Quarterly Review, October, 1816; and in the publication in his interest, compiled by John Halkett, and called a Statement respecting the Earl of Selkirk's Settlement upon the Red River; its destruction in 1815 and 1810; with observations upon a recent publication entitled " A narrative of occur. rences in the Indian Countries,” etc. (London, 1817). It is accompanied by a map by Arrowsmith, showing the Winnipeg country. The letter book of Captain Miles Macdonell at the Selkirk Settlement, 1811-12, is given in Brymner's Report on the Canadian Archives, 1886.
1 Cf. also Canadian Monthly (v. 273); Cornhill Mag. (xxii. 159); “La traite au Nord-ouest et quelques notes sur la compagnie de la Baie Hudson, par L. A. Prud'homme,” in the Revue Canadienne (Jan., 1887, p. 16); and Emile Petitot on "The Athabasca District," with a map, in the Proc. Roy. Gcog. Soc. (Nov., 1883).
2 Bryce's Manitoba ; Manitoba Hist. Soc. Papers, no. 4.
3 We have a picture of life at Fort William, the Northwester's principal post, in Ross Cox's Columbia River, and particularly in Gabriel Franchère's Voyage à la Côte Nord-ouest de l'Amerique Septentrionale pendant les années 1810-1814 (Montreal, 1820), of which there is an English translation by J. V. Huntington (New York, 1854).
He had been one of the Astor expedition, and his natural story was much in Irving's mind, apparently, when he wrote his Astoria.
4 Cf. John Strachan's Letter to the Earl of Selkirk on his settlement at the Red River, near Hudson's Bay (London, 1816), and Alexander M'Donell's Narrative of Transactions in the Red River Country from the Commencement of the Operations of the Earl of Selkirk till the summer of the year 1816 (London, 1819).
5 Cf. also Arrowsmith's Map exhibiting the New Discoveries in the Interior Parts of North America, inscribed by permission to the Hon. Company of Adventurers of England trading in Hudson's Bay (London, 1798-1811).