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Fur Trade Collection
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This series contains all items in the collection created between 1700 and 1749.


This series contains all items in the collection created between 1800 and 1809.


This series contains all items in the collection created between 1810 and 1819.


This series contains all items in the collection created between 1820 and 1829.


This series contains all items in the collection created between 1830 and 1839.


This series contains all items in the collection created between 1840 and 1849.


This series contains all items in the collection created between 1850 and 1859.


This series contains all items in the collection created between 1860 and 1869.


This series contains all items in the collection created between 1870 and 1879.

Cocket card, 7 June 1827

An official document issued in recognition of permission granted to pass goods through a port. The card is marked with the ship's name, Westminster, the name of the Ship Master, [Forbes Nichi], and the name of the port, Hudson's Bay. The card is signed by an official at the Searcher's Office in London, [England] and the Collector.

Correspondence with envelope, 1865

A letter and handmade envelope made of birch bark. The envelope is addressed to [Revd] William [MacLaren] at Belleville, C. W. [Canada West?]. Postage stamps on the envelope mark the letter's transit.

Correspondence with envelope, 27 September 1871

Correspondence from W. J. Christie at Lower Fort Garry to J. S. Helmcken at Victoria, [Vancouver Island?] Also included is a small, blue envelope marked with Helmcken's name and location.

The sender informs the recipient that he and other Hudson's Bay officers in London, [England] would like to formally express respect and esteem to Donald A. Smith and asks if the recipient will join them in doing so.

Correspondence, 29 August 1831

Correspondence from Donald Ross at Norway House to Alexander Christie at York Factory.

The letter confirms receipt of cargo delivered by John Ballandine, the Oxford House guide, and explains the status of Norway House's pemmican.

Correspondence, 10 December 1828

A handwritten copy of a letter sent by Chief Trader Francis Heron at Brandon House to Chief Factors and Chief Traders of the Northern Department.

The letter describes trade relations with Americans and the sender's difficulties re-establishing trade with Indigenous peoples after a prairie fire drove them away. The "Stone Indians" [Nakhóta?] and Cree [Nēhiyaw] are the two groups named in relation to trade in Canada. A conflict between the Americans and the Pawnee is also described.

Correspondence, 10 July 1831

Correspondence from Robert Harding at Churchill to Alexander Christie at York Factory.

The letter describes fur shipments and the movement of other goods, and hunting at Churchill, including instructions given to Indigenous hunters working for the Hudson's Bay Company about which animals may be hunted. The two groups named are Chepoweyans [sic] [Denesuliné] and Cree [Nēhiyaw].

Correspondence, 10 March 1837

Correspondence from John Spence at Berens River to William Sinclair at York Factory. A full, typed transcript, a handwritten excerpt of the transcript, and a small black and white print are also included.

Spence wishes Sinclair well, expresses condolences to Sinclair for losing all of his old sweethearts, and asks Sinclair to relay his well-wishes to a man named Thomas Brown, who Spence believes has fathered illegitimate children with English wives. Spence also notes his desire to return to Red River and that the settlement at Red River has recently suffered from poor crops.

On one side, the print depicts people building an igloo. On the reverse side is a partial image and a caption that states the image is from "A Peep at the Esquimaux" [Inuit?].

Correspondence, 12 August 1837

Private correspondence from Alexander Christie at "Lakes Red River Settlement" to John Stuart at Hudson's Bay House, London, [England].

In the letter, Christie expresses gratitude and well-wishes to Stuart, he notes the recent recovery from the previous year's failed crops at the Red River Settlement, and he expresses details about Mary Taylor's departure from Red River to London, [England] in the company of Edward Mowate, which is likely a misspelling of Mowat.

Correspondence, 12 March 1827

Correspondence from [Benj Harrison] to George Simpson addressing conflicts with Indigenous peoples, bison shortages, and other people known to both the sender and receiver. The sender also expresses an interest in obtaining specimens of human and animal bones.

Correspondence, 13 December 1830

Copy of correspondence from John Stuart at Bas de la Rivière to the Governor Chief Factors and Chief Traders of the Northern Factory.

The letter reports on provisions received, the whereabouts of other people known to the recipient, and the status of the settlement, including notes about the success of the fishery.

Correspondence, 14 December 1846

Correspondence from James Harrold at Fishing Lakes [near Fort Qu'Appelle?] to William McTavish [sic] at York Factory.

The letter describes a trip planned to York Factory, ice fishing, weather, and a message from "Mr. Hargrave" about fishing, which may refer to James Hargrave. The letter also includes a brief inventory of fish caught on open water.

Correspondence, 14 May 1831

Correspondence from Donald McIntosh at Fort William to George Simpson, governor in chief of Rupert's Land, at Red River.

The letter confirms that the order sent by Chief Factor McTavish has been received at Fort William and "agreeable to instructions are now sent on" to Norway House and York Factory.

Correspondence, 14 September 1839

Private correspondence from Andrew Linklater at Nelson River to Thomas Spence at York Factory.

Linklater sends his well-wishes and shares details about his circumstances.

Correspondence, 15 December 1827

Correspondence from D. McKenzie (likely Donald McKenzie) at Red River to [Governor] Chief Factors and Chief Traders of the Northern Department. The letter describes a scarcity of goods, the failure of crops, the concerns of settlement inhabitants, abundant bison, and the distribution of pemmican.

Correspondence, 15 December 1831

Correspondence from James McMillan at Fort Garry to Alexander Christie at York Factory.

McMillan states that he has been requested by George Simpson to create a list of "iron works" and that Christie should expect the information to arrive by first boat.

Correspondence, 15 February 1831

Correspondence from Robert Harding at Churchill to Alexander Christie at York Factory.

Robert Harding notes that he and those in his company have been stuck in Churchill due to bad weather and an injury suffered by a man in his company. He also tells the recipient that he has sent half-dried meat by dogsled to York Factory.

Correspondence, 16 June 1831

Correspondence from Adam Snody at Stromness, [Scotland] to Patrick Cunningham at York Factory. A small, black and white print is also included.

The letter describes goods ordered with money sent to Snody from Cunningham. Snody confirms that the goods purchased with the money, including tartan shawls, have been sent to Cunningham.

The print depicts a ship sailing past an iceberg. On the reserve side is a partial image of people in winter clothing.

Correspondence, 17 June 1871

Correspondence from Donald A. Smith at Hudson's Bay House, London, [England] to Henry Connolly at Rigolet, Labrador Coast. Also included is a handwritten transcript and a brief description of significant people and places mentioned in the letter.

The letter asks the recipient to allow the passage of [Mr. McArthur], who has recently retired, through Labrador.

The descriptive document provides some biographical information about Donald Smith and Henry Connolly as well as some information about Fort Rigolette [sic].

Correspondence, 18 May 1849

Correspondence from Hector McKenzie at Hudson's Bay House, Lachine to William Mactavish at Saint Mary's, which is likely an anglicized version of Sault Ste. Marie.

The sender states that he has returned from a trip to Fort William and asks what Mactavish would like done with found possessions belonging to his deceased brother. Mackenzie also asks Mactavish how he likes his new placement and notes that he is sure to be popular with the ladies there.

Correspondence, 19 June 1831

Correspondence from Donald Ross at Norway House to Alexander Christie at York Factory.

The letter confirms receipt of cargo. Ross notes that the Indigenous people who brought the cargo to York Factory were sent back with no cargo to return. A person by the name of [W.] Cameron is noted to be waiting for the Saskatchewan and Swan River Brigades.

Correspondence, 2 February 1849

Personal correspondence from Dugald Mactavish at Kilchrist, [Scotland] to his son William Mactavish at Sault Ste. Marie.

In the letter, Dugald describes cholera in Kilchrist, his health and the health of William's mother, and his financial situation. Mention is made of other people who are likely family members, including Dugald [Jr. Mactavish], Alex [Mactavish], John [Mactavish], and Lockhart [Mactavish], and a man named Hargrave, who is possibly James Hargrave.

Correspondence, 2 June 1837

Personal correspondence from Ann Delday at St. Andrews, [Scotland] to her brother John Delday at York Factory. The transcribed excerpt draws attention to portions of the letter that address poverty in Scotland.

In the letter, Ann describes her health, the health of their parents, conditions in Scotland, and other personal matters. The letter includes a short poem.

Correspondence, 2 June 1851

Copy of correspondence from George Simpson at Moose Factory to Donald Ross at Norway House.

The letter describes an incident at the district of [Kinogoumiss], which may refer to the area near Kenogamisis Lake in Ontario. The incident involved an alleged attack on Postmaster Donald Grant, who was in charge of the Flying Post. The letter states that it is not possible to bring the accused Indigenous man to trial due to a lack of evidence and other complications, so on Simpson's order, the accused attacker is to be moved to a post on the Northwest Pacific Coast so that he cannot return home. Simpson states that he cannot issue official instructions and asks for private letters to be sent to possible recipients of the accused. Since Simpson is not sure who will receive the man, letters are to be sent to "Mr. Douglas," "Mr. Work", and "Mr. Ballenderi."

Correspondence, 20 May 1833

Correspondence from William Mackintosh at Fort Dunvegan to Chief Factor John Charles at Fort Chipiwean [sic].

The letter describes the arrival of men and children, the status of grain seeds, a need for new canoes, an account of skins at Fort Dunvegan, and transactions with other Hudson's Bay Company posts, including Fort Vermilion, New Caledonia, and Slave Lake. The letter also describes conflicts between trappers and "Beaver Indians" [Dane-zaa], and the hiring of Iroquois [Haudenosaunee] people. Slave (Slavey) labour is mentioned in passing.

Correspondence, 21 April 1823

Personal correspondence from David MacBeath in Edinburgh, [Scotland] to MacBeath's brother-in-law, John Robison, in London, [England].

David MacBeath discusses family affairs, including his marriage to John Robison's sister, Emelia Robison, his financial situation, and MacBeath's interest in a position with the Hudson's Bay Company.

Correspondence, 23 March 18[52]

Private correspondence from an unknown sender to an unknown recipient at Fort Garry.

The letter describes exchanges of goods and letters with other Hudson's Bay Company posts. It also notes the movement of livestock to Red River, news about women named Mrs MacChristie and Mrs Campbell, the storage of a Catholic Bishop's piano, and medical needs. A man named Mr Lockhart is also mentioned.

Correspondence, 25 May 1831

Correspondence from Geo Keith at Michipicoton [sic] to Alexander Christie at York Factory.

The letter describes items advanced to servants attached to the Ungava Expedition in 1831. Items listed include tobacco, rum, shoes, and maple sugar.

Correspondence, 26 June 1831

Correspondence from Donald Ross at Norway House to Alexander Christie at York Factory.

The letter informs Christie that he can expect to receive business documents sent by Ross via canoe. The letter also describes exchanges of provisions between Hudson's Bay Company posts, goods distribute to various brigades, and Ross's need for a carpenter. A man named [W.] Cameron is also mentioned.

Correspondence, 26 March 1846

Correspondence from James Hargrave at Norway House to William Mactavish at York Factory.

The letter addresses the harvesting of timber and the fishery at York Factory, goods scarcities, and a note from C. F. [Chief Factor] [Alexander] Christie requesting gunpowder to be sent to Red River.

Correspondence, 29 May 1666

A short letter signed by Rupert and Albermarle, who are both aboard the Royal Charles of His Majesty's Royal Navy, and a handwritten transcript with notes created by the previous custodian.

The letter calls for its recipient to send provisions and mail to the Royal Charles, which is situated in the Bay of the Nore, [England].

Correspondence, 3 April 1846

Correspondence from A. Barclay [secretary] at Hudson's Bay House, London, [England] to William Mactavish, who was likely at York Factory.

The letter informs Mactavish that he has been promoted to the rank of Chief Trader. Mactavish is also informed that he can expect his commission will be sent once the "Deed of Covenant" is signed.

Correspondence, 3 July 1831

Correspondence from Andrew Wilson at "Split Lake" to Alexander Christie at York Factory.

The letter describes the Indigenous people inhabiting the Split Lake region, including their suffering which has resulted from a shortage of rabbits. Wilson also describes his employment of Indigenous people to hunt, fish, and courier goods. These employees are said to be paid in skins.

Correspondence, 5 January 1850

Correspondence from David Colville at Campbeltown, [Scotland] to William Mactavish at Sault Ste. Marie.

The sender confirms receipt of money drafted from George Simpson to pay Mactavish's father's debt. The sender expresses concern that Mactavish has not written to his father.

Correspondence, 6 April 1837

Private correspondence from Alexander Roderick McLeod at Fort Resolution to John Stuart, HBC fur trader. Mailed c/o James Hargrave at Fort Garry, reaching John Stuart at Finchurch Street, Hudson's Bay House, London.

McLeod, Alexander Roderick

Correspondence, 6 August 1831

Correspondence from Andrew Wilson at "Split Lake" to Alexander Christie at York Factory.

Wilson confirms receipt of documents carried to him by Indigenous couriers, receipt of twine, the failure of the fishery, and distribution of goods to Indigenous people. The letter also describes the Indigenous people of the Split Lake region's suffering and starvation that came as a result of an animal shortage and instructions from the Hudson's Bay Company to not hunt beaver.

Correspondence, 6 May 1848

Personal correspondence from John Mactavish in Tobago to his brother William Mactavish at York Factory. The letter is addressed to arrive at York Factory care of The Hudson's Bay [Co's] House in London.

The letter notes the recovery of "Mr. Hargrave," which may be reference to James Hargrave, and it describes in great detail the well-being of Alick, which may be Alex [Mactavish], including a note that John and William's father will be sending Alick to Australia. The letter also describes the destruction of property and injuries suffered as a result of a hurricane in Tobago. John contemplates going to Puerto Rico, but instead decides to go to the Sandwich Islands. The letter concludes with a request to William to have Dugald [Mactavish] write and provide an account of the Sandwich Islands. Mention is also made of George Simpson, Lockhart [Mactavish], and John McTaggart.

Correspondence, 7 June 1830

Personal correspondence from Gordon Norquay and Magnus Mowat in Flotta, [Scotland] to William Norquay at York Fort [sic]. Each sender writes his portion separately on a single sheet of paper. The letter is marked with the word "deceased."

Gordon Norquay, William Norquay's father, writes to inform William of his poor health and the poor health of William's mother, to send well wishes from other members of the family, and to ask William to repay money owed to a person named Jennet. Gordon Norquay also mentions money owed to him by John Norquay.

Magnus Mowat, William Norquay's friend, writes to tell William news about marriages, fishing, deaths, and other personal matters.

Correspondence, 7 September 18[58]

Personal correspondence from Alexander McDonald at Little Whale River to his brother Allan McDonald at St. Andrews, C. E [Canada East?].

The letter notes the state of the recipient's livestock, relays news about family and other personal matters, and comments on unsettled debts.

Fur store report, 1864

A report detailing the quantity and condition of furs received at York Factory during the summer of 1864 from various districts of the Northern Department. The letter is signed "MKR."

Districts included in the report are the following: Athabasca District, English River, Saskatchewan District, Cumberland District, Swan River District, Lower Red River District, [Lac] la Pluie District, Norway House District, [Island] Lake Post, Severn Post, Trout Lake Post, and Churchill Post.

Fur Trade Collection

  • FC 3207 F85
  • Collection
  • 1666 - 1871

This archival collection is composed of textual and graphic materials related to the Hudson's Bay Company, the fur trade in Canada, and early European settlement in Canada. The collection includes correspondence between high-ranking employees at Hudson's Bay Company fur trade posts, personal correspondence between settlers or Hudson's Bay Company employees and their families, and Hudson's Bay Company reports, proclamations, contracts, and others records. The involvement of Indigenous peoples in the Canadian fur trade is also described throughout this collection. With a few exceptions, most items within the collection were created during the early- to mid-1800s.

Hiring contract, 18[00]

An unused Hudson's Bay Company hiring contract. The contract has blank spaces to capture the incumbant's name, job title, duties, and wage, as well as blank spaces for the date and the signature of a witness.

Hiring contract, 27 July 1812

An engagement contract for John Nouray, which renews his previous contract with "the Governor and the Company of Adventurers of England, Trading into Hudson's Bay" (the Hudson's Bay Company). The contract binds Nouray to the Company for three years of service.

Joseph Touron's report, 28 September 1831

A handwritten copy of a report that describes the experiences of Joseph Touron. Also included is a document that provides historical background information.

The report describes the actions of and names of Hudson's Bay Company traders who abandoned the Company to trade with the Americans. A man named Berger is singled out as the man responsible for persuading a group of traders, including Peigan [Piikáni] hunters and James Bird, to desert the Hudson's Bay Company. Touron describes receiving threats from the deserters when he refuses to join them, and Touron states that he formed connections with Blood [Kainai] people when the Peigan [Piikáni] hunters could not be persuaded to return to trade with the Hudson's Bay Company.

Letter of account, 31 January 1822

Correspondence from W. Forbes [Hunts?] in Edinburgh, [Scotland] to William Boudge at York Factory.

On one side of the letter is the sender's request for Boudge to confirm his account balance. On the reverse side is William Boudge's account balance as of 31 December 1821.

List of Indians hunters who has gone off and died from this place since [outfit] 1845

A handwritten report detailing Indigenous families associated with Oxford House and Indigenous people associated with Oxford House who have died or moved.

The report names Indigenous hunters who have died or moved away from Oxford House. It also includes the names of male hunters along with their relationship to other hunters and a numerical account of their wives, sons, daughters, and "[separate] followers." The report is signed by L. [a] Robertson of Oxford House.

Pre 1700

This series contains all items in the collection created prior to 1700.

Proclamation, 15 July 1817

A call for obedience and restitution from agents of the North West Company at the forks of the Red River in light of recent land disputes with the Hudson's Bay Company. The Earl of Selkirk, acting under the charter of the Hudson's Bay Company, is positioned as the principal proprietor and land owner of the region in question.

The proclamation is signed by James Bird, governor N.D. [Northern Department?], and [Governor] Miles MacDonell of Assiniboia and addressed to Simon McGillivray per De Rocheblave.

Registered letter receipt, 30 September 1851

A receipt confirming a postal delivery from London, [England] to William Spratt at Fort Garry.

The letter confirms receipt of Spratt's medal, which recognizes his participation in the [Battle of] Navarino.

Regulations for promoting moral and religious improvement

A print report outlining the Hudson's Bay Company's rules and regulations pertaining to the "religious improvement" of servants and "effectual civilization" of Company employees' families and Indigenous peoples associated with the Company. Portions of other reports are also included.

The report outlines conduct and moralizing activities prescribed to servants, women, children, and Indigenous people in general. It is suggested that all groups listed attend religious services, that wives and children speak the language of their husband or father, that women and children should occupy their time with activities that promote "virtuous habits," and that fathers should spend part of their leisure time educating their children.

The portions of other reports included in this document prescribe rules and regulation related to Indigenous hunting and trapping, providing for wives and children, tariffs, wages, trade, inventories and property, and payment to and treatment of Indigenous people, including a statement calling for gradual decreases in liquor sales to Indigenous peoples. Partial rules and regulations aimed at preserving beaver populations are also included.

Report, 1835

Print report outlining the Hudson's Bay Company's rules and regulations pertaining to wages.

The report includes rules and regulations pertaining to freight costs and wages, including those for wage according to position held and region occupied, accepting gratuity, and transferring money. Some consequences for failing to follow these prescribed rules are also included.

Report, 27 September 1822

Report of furs seized from Registi La Rinti by John Clarke, chief trader of the Hudson's Bay Company. La Rinti was caught trading furs on Hudson's Bay Company territory at the lower Red River without a license, 27 September 1822.

Report, 28 November 1831

A report from Fort Simpson to the Chief Factors and Chief Traders of the Hudson's Bay Company Northern Departments.

The report describes trade at Mackenzie River since the sender's last communication with the recipients. The report includes details about the movement of goods and the employment of Indigenous people.

Standing rules and regulations

A print report outlining the Hudson's Bay Company's rules and regulations pertaining to tariffs and inventory prices.

The document outlines distinct rules for tariffs and prices as they relate to specific goods and the activities of "Commissioned Gentlemen," "Clerks and Servants," "Freemen," and "Half-breed and Iroquois Trappers" [Métis and Haudenosaunee trappers]. The cost of moving private orders between Hudson's Bay Company posts is also described.

Total returns Saskatchewan District outfit, 1836

Report on the total returns of the Saskatchewan District outfit in the year 1836. The small transcribed excerpt lists a few furs included in the list.

The report lists quantities of furs, leather products, clothing, and food products produced by the district that were brought to Norway House. The report also includes items brought from New Caledonia and Cumberland. The letter is signed "E. E." at York Factory.

York Fort America anno, 1715

A double-sided, printed card stamped with publisher information for Jackdaw No. C5 The Fur Trade and a note that the card was printed in Canada.

On one side, the card outlines the value of various trading goods. Goods include toiletries, clothing, animal skins, tools and implements, and household goods, such as thread. On the reverse side, the card details the value of goods traded at York Fort, including a breakdown of the goods and their quantities, between 8 September 1714 and 1 August 1715. The goods listed are animals skins. The items are tallied and noted that they are to be "packed up to be sent home and valued into beaver."