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to compel activity. Jealousy at the manifestation of a strong preference by British emigrants for settling in the United States came in as quite a potent motive for bringing the monopoly of the Bay Company to a close. As a result, an act was passed by the British Parliament in 1867, enabling the Queen to accept a surrender on terms to be agreed upon, of the lands, privileges, and rights of the company, and for transfer of territory and administration to the Dominion of Canada. An act, designated the “Rupert's Land Act,” had made it competent for the company to surrender, and for the Queen to accept, all the lands, privileges, rights, etc., granted to the company by its charter. An address from the Canadian Parliament to the Queen in council asked liberty to admit Rupert's Land and the Northwest territory to union with the Dominion, and power of legislation for them by the Parliament on terms hereafter.
The terms secured by the company were certainly of a most generous character, and are in keeping with the remarkable pecuniary profit which had attended its operations during the two centuries of its chartered existence. The company was still in its corporate capacity to be allowed to carry on its trade, and to be paid for its franchise the sum of £300,000 by the Canadian government. It was to retain the fee of all its posts and stations, with a reservation of an additional block of land at each of them, and one twentieth section of the so-called “fertile belt,” to be decided by the casting of the lot. All titles of land that had been heretofore given by the company were to be confirmed, and the Canadian and imperial governments were to relieve it of all responsibility in settling the claims of the Indians. The reserved lands thus covenanted to the company make up in area 45,160 acres. Of these, 25,700 acres are in that marvellously rich territory of the “ fertile belt,” between the northern branch of the Saskatchewan and the boundary of the United States. The globe has no more teeming soil than is found there. And now the venerable Hudson Bay Company is a rival in the market as a land company! It is a curious and amusing spectacle to look at it in its present capacity, after having read the voluminous testimony before rehearsed as offered before the parliamentary committee, in the interest of the company, to prove that the territory was put to its best use by the Indian fur-hunter with his traps, and was worthless for all ends of husbandry and agriculture. Of course the grounds reserved by the company have acquired a vastly enhanced value, especially the five hundred acres near the site of old Fort Garry, in Winnipeg, the centre of life in the province of Manitoba.?
It is thought that the financial prosperity of the company in its present field of operations will even exceed that of any period in its past.
1 British Public Bills, vol. ii. 1867-8.
2 The parliamentary acts, with all the accompanying documents, schedules, etc., of this some
what complicated negotiation are in the London Gazette of June 24, 1870.
CRITICAL ESSAY ON THE SOURCES OF INFORMATION.
THE "HE large body of narrative, descriptive, and controversial literature upon which the
story of the preceding chapter is based may be divided into two classes. The one embraces the publications issued by the British government as containing the processes and results of official inquiries into the affairs and the administration of the Hudson Bay Company. In those volumes we find the charter of the company;2 the successive grants of privileges in territory not included in the charter ; illustrative and explanatory documents; official correspondence, petitions, memorials, reports of committees of inquiry; the testimony of witnesses in complaint or defence; and a detail of the course through which, in the tion of the imperial government and of the Dominion government of Canada, the territorial rights and administrative powers held by the Bay Company under its charter were surrendered on terms, including remuneration.
The volumes of British Documents which have furnished matter of information and illustration are the following:
Papers presented to the committee appointed to inquire into the state and condition of the countries adjoining to Hudson's Bay, and of the trade carried on there (London, 1749); and the committee's Report (London, 1749). It is also in the Reports from Committees, House of Commons, vol. ii.
Accounts and Papers, vol. xxviii., 1842.8
The last-named volume is wholly filled with a most minute inquiry into the administration of the Bay Company. The volumes by Mr. Martin and Mr. Fitzgerald, referred to further on, may be put in the class of authorities here noticed.?
The other class of publications, notices of many of which are to be given, are those of a descriptive or narrative character, as presenting the practical operations of the company
1 This is the designation of the charter, and is Papers presented to the House of Commons, in the form followed in this essay, except where the pursuance of an address, that means be taken to other usage, Hudson's Bay Company, is quoted ascertain the legality of the powers in respect to or occurs in a title.
territory, trade, taxation, and government, claimed 2 It is also given by Dobbs, by Mills (Boun- or exercised by the Hudson's Bay Company. Or. daries of Ontario), and others. Cf. Papers re- dered by the House of Commons to be printed, 12 lating to the Hudson's Bay Company's charter July, 1850. and license to trade (London, 1859); Martin's 6 Report from the Select Committee on the HudHudson's Bay Territories ; H. H. Bancroft's son's Bay Company, together with the proceedings Northwest Const, i. 470, etc.
of the committee, minutes of evidence, appendix, 3 This contains Hudson's Bay Company. Copy and Index (London, 1857). This report is acof the existing charter or grant by the Crown to companied by three maps : one showing the the Hudson's Bay Company ; together with copies water-shed of Hudson's Bay (after Arrowsmith) or extracts of the correspondence which took place as the territory claimed under the charter; a at the last renewal of the charter between the gov- second denoting the boundaries of the regions ernment and the company, or of individuals on occupied by the various Indian tribes north of behalf of the company; also, the dates of all former the Gulf of Mexico; the third shows the country charters or grants to that company. Ordered by south, west, and north of Hudson's Bay, drawn the Ilouse of Commons to be printed, 8 August, by Thomas Devine, by order of the Commis1842 (London, 1842).
sioner of Crown Lands, Joseph Canchon, To4 Copies of Memorials of the Red River Settle. ronto, March, 1857. ment, complaining of the government of the Hud- i (Lrymner (Report on the Dominion Archives, son's Bay Company ; of instructions given to the 1873) gives an account of his examination of the Gov.-Gen. of Canada for the investigation of those records of the company in London. In Ibid. complaints; of the Reports and Correspondence, 1883, p. 173, he prints an account of the transacordered to be printed, 13 April, 1849.
tions of the company in 1687. – ED.) 5
as administered by its officers and servants. Many of these volumes contain matters of criticism and complaint against the company, often severe, and as if written under a sense of personal grievances from it, as well as challenging its claims and assumed rights of monopoly. But the principal interest of this class of authorities is that which we look for in works of romantic adventure, scenes in wild life, events of exploration and residence, and the occupations and resources of men encountering perils in lonely travel, in the hunting and trapping expeditions, and the contact and intercommunion of savagery with civilization. As years pass on these volumes will acquire an increasing interest as keeping in remembrance scenes and incidents as well as persons and characters on this continent quite unlike their modern substitutes.
During more recent years many books coming under this class have been written by amateurs from the old world, who, from a love of wild adventure, of hunting, of sharing the Indian mode of life, or a desire to toughen themselves by hardships, have made transient visits to the American wildernesses. Noblemen and gentlemen are conspicuous on the lists, and their narrations are not lacking in the romantic or the marvellous. But far more comprehensive and communicative of authentic and interesting information is a successive series of works beginning with the early enterprises of the Hudson Bay Company, and written mainly by those who have been for long periods in its service, and who have artlessly, and often with graphic power, given to us their own experience. This covers the details of daily life and duty at the company's posts, long tramps on snowshoes and with dog-sledges over the frozen and snow-piled wilderness, and tortuous. courses by lake, river, cascade, and portage, in summer days; the scenes of the camp, and the ways and doings of the Indians. As, in the rapid hurry of the swift years and the swifter rush of occupation and settlement by white men of the region which on the maps of the school-days of our present mature generation was named “ The Great American Wilderness,” towns and cities and all the concomitants of our artificial life obliterate the original features of nature, the books here referred to will have a retrospective and reconstructive use of the highest historical value. Our noblemen amateur hunters come with all the appliances and luxuries of civilization among their resources in luggage, firearms, cans and bottles, largely relieved of the rough and perilous conditions of the primeval scenes.
The historians of the Hudson Bay Company took those scenes as they found them. They were bright, intelligent, and truthful observers and narrators. Generally those who came here as the apprentices of the company were young Scotch peasants from the Orkneys, about seventeen years of age. They passed a close examination, mental, moral, and physical. They received twenty pounds a year, with sustenance. They were sent, on arrival, to the farthest posts, and were expected to devote their lives, with promotion in view, to the service, which many of them did.
The deprivations, hardships, and exposures incident to the mode of life of these young apprentices were in all cases real and severe. The romance attaching to them is rather in the reading about them than in facing them. The perusal of the personal narratives of these hardy and resolute adventurers, who generally wrote their pages in the gloomy scenes of their isolation, and to occupy listless hours, would lead to the inference, conformed to the usual workings of human nature, that the great law of compensatory offsets had full activity there. Many of these Scotch peasant youths were born to a hard and rough lot at home. Only the more manly and self-reliant of them would be likely to seek or to secure the opportunities of a wilderness exile in the service of the great fur company. We know that it was held as a coveted privilege among the adventure-loving and amphibious boys of a Highland nurture. Many of them have confessed the elation of spirits and the bursting sense of self-importance with which they strutted before their comrades when offered a place in the service. The hazardous sea-voyage, the first sight of the dismal inhospitality of the icy straits, the introduction to the scenes and companions of the rugged tasks before them, were at once followed by the demands of severe task-work under novel conditions. A single congenial mate in travel and toil smoothed many a harsh experience, and the free revel of animal spirits gave a zest to perils and hardships.
It is to be frankly admitted that all the young, and with scarcely a single exception the older writers, who have given their experience in the service of the Bay Company, have bitterly complained of its dealings with them as mean and tyrannical.1
It does not appear that in any case either the foreign or the local administrators of the affairs of the company concerned themselves with replying to these assaults, or attempted to visit any penalty upon the authors. All its servants, and the youngest of them most rigidly, were held to the sole obligation of advancing the interests of the company in its giant monopoly, and in enabling it to return its fabulous dividends to its stockholders. The two main inspirations for courage, endurance, and business integrity which animated the young apprentice and cheered him in his lonely post were the prospect of promotion, in the method favored though not always pursued by the company, to the coveted positions of chief trader and chief factor, after fifteen, twenty, or more years of service as a clerk, and the crowning of his one hope of being able to return as a man of substance and spend his leisure days in his early home. Of course there was always a fluttering of spirits in these subordinates when the annual council at Norway or York post was making its deal of assignments and positions. The few rather than the many found reason to be content with the unalterable allotments, and there was nothing to be done but to resume the routine of tasks. As to the other alleviation found in the hope and purpose of a homeward return with the rewards of a competency, it is safe to say that in a large majority of cases the intent had weakened and lost its attractions when it might have been realized. The cases, indeed, were exceptional in which those who had lived many years in the service of the Bay Company returned to the old civilized scenes and ways. With the marvellous potency of the needful adaptations and habits of wholly new and strange ways of life in its vigorous period, to substitute a second nature for that in which one was born and early trained, the round of experience and the companionship in the wilderness had a strangely fascinating influence. To endure existence under its necessary conditions, it was essential to make the most and the best of them. And exactly as one became conformed to them there grew upon him a preference for them. The voracious appetite acquired by rough exposure gave to wilderness viands and cookery a quality of luxury. One who was used to having the whole air of heaven to breathe, and the whole hemisphere as a canopy for his couch, whose toilet was of the simplest, and who was wonted to the freedom of the forests and the rivers, gradually lost his fitness and his tolerance for the conventionalities, the fashions, and the appliances of artificial life. Family relationships formed in the wilderness, with partners of pure or mingled blood, while they may have generally been loose and readily disposed of, were not infrequently comfortably and faithfully sustained for life. Occasionally the children of such a parentage were sent to Canada or England for education. In the mean while the long years of forest life which had resulted in this transforming process for the Scotch youth had wrought their changes in the scenes and generations of his early home. He did not care to see it again. When, as we shall note, an agricultural settlement was made within the terri. tory of the company, many of its servants and officers retired with a competency, and found congenial homes where a forest tramp, hunting and fishing expeditions, and converse with successors in their old occupations led them to the natural close of their career.
1 “The history of my career may serve as a iences of civilized life, to vegetate at some desowarning to those who may be disposed to enter late, solitary post, hundreds of miles, perhaps, the Hudson's Bay Company's service. They from any other human habitation save the wig. may learn that from the moment they embark wam of the savage ; without any other society in the company's canoes at Lachine, or in their than that of their own thoughts, or of the two or ships at Gravesend, they bid adieu to all that three humble individuals who share their exile. civilized man most values on earth. They bid They bid adieu to all the refinement and cultiadieu to their family and friends, probably for- vation of civilized life, not unfrequently becomever; for if they should remain long enough to at- ing semi-barbarians, - - so altered in habits and tain the promotion that allows them the privilege sentiments that they not only become attached of revisiting their native land - a period of from to savage life, but eventually lose all relish for twenty to twenty-five years — what changes does any other.” (Notes of a Twenty-Five Years' Ser. not this life exhibit in a much shorter time? vice in the Hudson's Bay Territory, by John They bid adieu to all the comforts and conven. McLean (London, 1849), ii. 260.)
The names given to some of the most distant and dreary of the northern posts of the company, on Mackenzie's River and the Great Slave Lake, seemed to have been intended to keep up the spirits of their occupants. Thus we have “ Providence," " Reliance," “Resolution,” “Enterprise,” “Good Hope," and " Confidence.” The narrations of the modes of travel and intercourse by which these and other widely separated posts were reached, their supplies furnished, and the returns gathered from and to the shipping points in the bay, were the first matters of interest for the apprentices, and are given with charming fullness of detail and incident in their journals. The admirable facilities for transit furnished by the water-ways of lake and river were availed of alike by the natives and the Europeans, and were best improved when they were in company. The ascent of a river to the lake from which it flowed, the skirting of that lake till it led to another river which discharged into it, with the interspersion of carrying-places, gave variety to the route.
Conspicuous, and among the earliest of these descriptive books," is Arthur Dobbs's Account of the Countries adjoining to Hudson's Bay, in the Northwest Part of America, etc. (London, 1744), 2 which was written in very earnest support of the probability of a northwest passage, and in advocacy of renewed efforts to search for it. Parliament had offered a reward of £20,000 to whoever might discover it. Mr. Dobbs's work was of importance, because the grievances of which he and his associates in a voyage of discovery complained, and the charges brought by them against the obstructing influence of the Hudson Bay Company, were the grounds of a petition to the Lords in Council, in 1749, against its monopoly. The petitioners insist that the company's charter was either from
1 [One of our sources for earlier glimpses of Remarks upon Capt. Middleton's Defence (Lon. the Hudson Bay region are the missionary ac- don, 1744), in which he says that there is the counts in such collections as the Lettres Ecrites “highest probability that there is such a passage des Missions Etrangères ( 1650–1750, in 47 vols.). as he went in search of.” Middleton printed A There is a selection in Kip's Hist. Scenes from Reply to the Remarks (London, 1744), and again the old Jesuit Missions, and particularly in his Forgery Detected (London, 1745). Dobbs reEarly Jesuit Missions in North America. The sponded in A Reply to Capt. Middleton's Answer early geographical history of Hudson's Bay is to the Remarks (London, 1745), in which he traced ante, Vol. III. On early complaints by charges Middleton with laying down false curthe company of French encroachments, see rents, tides, straits, and rivers in his chart and Brymner’s Report on the Dominion Archives, journal to conceal the discovery; and appends 1883, extracting from vol. 96 of the Plantations a specific answer to his Forgery Detected. The General of the Public Record Office in London. captain closed the warfare with a Rejoinder – En.]
(London, 1745). All these titles are given at 2 [The title of the book is much longer (cf. length in Carter-Brown, iii. (in this order), nos. Pilling's Eskimo Bibliog., p. 23). The book in- 766, 774, 767, 775, 798, 803, 804. cludes an abstract of the journal of Capt. Chris. This old controversy has been summarized in topher Middleton, who commanded the “ Fur- John Barrow's introduction to The geography of nace,'
,”?" with observations on his behavior” dur. Hudson's Bay: the remarks of William Coats in ing this voyage for the discovery of a passage to voyages between 1727 and 1751. With appendix the South Seas. In these Middleton was charged containing the log of Capt. Middleton on his voywith a collusion with the Hudson Bay Com- age for the discovery of the north-west passage, pany to prevent any successful efforts to effect 1741-2 (London : Hakluyt Society, 1852), in such a discovery. This led to a pamphlet war. which that editor holds that subsequent exploraMiddleton published a Vindication of his Con- tions have proved Middleton's representations duct (Dublin, 1744), in which he gave his instruc- to be correct, and that his correspondence pretions, “ with as much of the log journal as re- served at the Admiralty makes clear Middleton's lates to the discovery." Dobbs then published straightforwardness. — ED.]