Cumberland House Journals and Inland Journal 1772-82, First Series, 1775-79 and Second Series, 1779-1782

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Author: Edwin Ernest "E E" Rich (1904-1979) editor

Year: 191951-1952

Publisher: Hudson Bay Record Society

Place: London


2 volumes. First Series, 1775-79: xciii+382+[xiv membership list] pages with tables, appendix and index. Second Series, 1779-1782: xii+313+[xiv members list] pages with appendix and index. Royal octavo (9 3/4" x 6 3/4") bound in original publisher's blue cloth with gilt lettering and insignia to spine. Assisted by A M Johnson. Introduction by Richard Glover. Hudson Bay Record Society Volumes XIV and XV. First edition Limited edition numbered 1549.

These two sets throw light on the policy of the Hudson's Bay Company as it attempted during these years to counteract the advantages the Peddlers had obtained in trading with the Indians of the interior. With the founding of Hudson House by Robert Longmoor and William Tomison in the autumn of 1779, the Company established more firmly its position in the Saskatchewan trade. The Eagle Hills incident in April,1779, and other indications of Indian hostility made the Peddlers more cautious about pushing forward, and for the time being Hudson House was the trading post farthest inland. During its first two seasons, in spite of such handicaps as short supplies of trading goods, limited manpower, and lack of boats, returns on the trade well repaid the effort made to establish it. Already steps had been taken by Longmoor to solve the transportation problem. Then came the disastrous season of 1781-2. Starving Indians, victims of their own folly in setting fires that reduced the accessible supply of buffalo meat, had to be sutured. Still worse, sick Indians, victims of the terrible smallpox epidemic of 1781, had to be cared for. Both disasters reduced the quantities of furs available in trade. This was not all--before 1782 was over, Bay posts were to be attacked by a detachment of the French fleet. Yet, under all these vicissitudes, operations inland continued. In his introduction to this volume, Dr. Glover re-examines the personal qualities of Humphrey Marten, Chief Factor at York Fort, who had general oversight of the Company's activities on the Saskatchewan. He sees him in a much more favorable light than did Umfreville, and his opinion concerning Marten's discernment and courage in recommending improvements in policy seems well borne out by the footnote references to Martin's remarks on the inland journals. Dr. Glover also has special words of commendation for the Orkney men who were employed as servants, and who proved to be admirably adapted to conditions of life at the Company's inland posts. The almost cryptic day-by-day entries in these journals impresses the reader with the dogged persistence by which officers and servants maintained the expansionist program even during dark days of adversity. The letters reporting the almost melodramatic devices sometimes employed against the Company by the Canadians show an esprit de corps difficult to maintain under such circumstances. Once again, the Hudson's Bay Record Society is to be thanked for making available journals which reveal so much of practices during a critical period in the fur trade, and which at the same time are documents of human behavior under trying conditions.


Unread with pages uncut, corners bumped else a very good set.

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