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Bruce Peel Special Collections Douglas, James, Sir Keenlyside, John
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1845 Letter from James Douglas

A hand-written letter written by James Douglas to James M. Yale, Hudson’s Bay Company Chief Trader at Fort Langley, British Columbia. This letter was sent from Fort Victoria. Douglas writes about recent events and expresses some opinions about many of the issues facing the Pacific Northwest operations of the HBC.
From notes provided by the donor: “Douglas sheds light on the following issues of the time:
a) H.B.C. servants and their suitability for advancement
b) Furs and fur returns
c) Agricultural crops and the weather affecting yield in the region
d) The visit by Chief Factor Peter Skene Ogden, having travelled overland from Red River and into the Columbia River through the Coutonais (Kootenay) Portage, in the company of British Officers Henry J. Warre and Mervin Vavasour (on their ‘secret’ military reconnaissance of the Oregon Territory)
e) The arrival and operations of H.M.S. America, under the charge of Captain John Gordon (the brother of Lord Aberdeen, Foreign Secretary at the time, and later Prime Minister)
f) Activity of H.B.C. traders: Chief Factor Lewis (sic), Chief Trader John Work, and Donald Mason
g) Returns of the most recent Outfit (the yearly trade cycle of the fur trade)
h) The wretched state of John Clarke (a long-time H.B.C. employee, who has fallen on hard times)
i) The potential for salt to be gathered from salt marshes on Cowegen (Cowichan) lands, without attracting the attention of the Americans, who would undoubtedly try to capitalize on the resource
j) A visit from American whaling ship captains, whose ships are lying at anchor in Neah Bay.”

Douglas, James, Sir