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Bruce Peel Special Collections Life, Events, and Players in the North-West Hudson's Bay Company
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1839 (May) from John Smith to Smithurst

Place: Hudsons Bay House, London [England]

From: John Smith

To: The Revd John Smithurst, Church Missionary House, Salisbury Square [London, England]

Details: 1pp

Notes: This letter confirms a previous conversation between John Smith of Hudson's Bay House in London and Reverend John Smithurst. Rev. Smithurst is awarded the position of chaplain to the Hudson's Bay Company at Red River in Rupert's Land. He is granted passage from London to Fort Garry [modern-day Winnipeg].

1841 (Sept) from Ina Cowie to Smithurst

Place: York Factory

From: Ina Cowie

To: Revd John Smithurst, Red River

Details: 2pp with integral address

Notes: A letter of effusive thanks for Rev. Smithurst’s kindness in recommending Ina Cowie to the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) for employment. It seems Rev. Smithurst spoke with his friend Captain Herd on Cowie’s behalf. Cowie also mentions that he wishes to write to the Church Missionary Society to let them know of Rev. Smithurst’s thoughtfulness.

1842 (Mar) from William Cockran to Smithurst

Place: [Grand Rapids?]

From: Wm Cockran

To: Rev. J. Smithurst, Indian Settlement

Details: 3pp with integral address

Notes: Reverend William Cockran writes to Rev. Smithurst regarding Rev. Cowley and his wife Mrs. Cowley, who have lodged with Rev. Cockran since they arrived in Rupert’s Land the previous autumn. Rev. Cockran describes the Cowleys as being ungracious guests who do not understand the expense of living in the Red River Settlement. Rev. Cockran also writes that he has severed ties to the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Church Missionary Society but will continue as if he will “continue here for life.” He finishes the letter by discussing the flour he is sending to Henry Budd at the Cumberland House Mission. He mentions that James Sandison and Henry Bird are assisting him.

Cockran, William

1843 (Mar) from James Keith to Smithurst

Place: Lachine near Montreal

From: James Keith

To: Reverend Smithurst, Red River Settlement

Details: 1pp and integral address

Notes: Discusses Rev. Smithurst's subscription to Church Weekly Paper, and his cancelled subscription to the Montreal Herald.

Keith, James

1844 (May) from Daniel Aillud to Smithurst

Place: St. Paul's Cray Kent

From: Daniel Aillud

To: The Revd John Smithurst, Indian Settlement, Red River, Hudsons Bay, Nth America

Details: 2pp

Notes: Daniel Aillud writes to Rev. Smithurst requesting a character reference so that he can leave his work as a sailor on the “Prince Rupert” for the Hudson’s Bay Company. He also discusses the death of his father, who died while he was at sea.

1844 (Sept) from James Hargrave to Smithurst

Place: York Factory

From: James Hargrave

To: Revd John Smithurst, &c. &c. &c., Red River Settlement

Details: 1pp and integral address face

Notes: James Hargrave, an HBC employee, responds to a letter from Rev. Smithurst delivered by Mr. Morvat. The letter dealt with receiving and sending articles by the ship “Prince Rupert.” Hargrave goes on to say that Rev. Hunter and his wife arrived from London, and have continued on to the Saskatchewan District [Cumberland - Devon mission] in a boat along with part of their baggage. The rest of their baggage will be sent to them in the Spring.

1845 (Oct) from Nicol Finlayson to Smithurst

Place: Fort Frances

From: Nicol Finlayson

To: Revd Mr John Smithurst, Missy Ch. M. Society, Red River Settlement

Details: 1pp with integral address face

Notes: Nicol Finlayson writes to Rev. Smithurst that he sent along the requested maps, and he sends his best wishes to Mr. and Mrs. Cockran.

Finlayson, Nicol

1846 Cumberland Mission accounts

Place: Cumberland Mission

Details: 2pp

Notes: Cumberland Mission list showing the accounts for making and packing bags and pemmican for Rev. Smithurst. Named individuals are: John Vincents, Thomas Logan, James Inkster, James MonKinun, William Bird, William Rob Smith, and Thomas Thomas.

1848 (Apr) from John Black to Smithurst

Place: Lower Fort Garry

From: John Black

To: Revd John Smithurst

Details: 2pp and integral address face.

Notes: John Black writes to Rev. Smithurst that he is sending along the requested nails by the bearer of this letter. Also, the flooding experienced the previous week resulted in 4 feet of water in the office, and significant ice damage to the distillery.

Black, John

1848 (May) from Duncan Finlayson to Smithurst

Place: Lachine

From: Dun: Finlayson

To: The Revd Jn Smithurst, Red River Settlement

Details: 2pp and integral address face

Notes: Duncan Finlayson writes to Rev. Smithurst. Sir George Simpson is travelling by steam to Sault de St. Marie soon. He answers questions about subscriptions to the New York Albion and the Church. Finlayson is startled by the new republics in France and Prussia, and the fear in Russia, Austria, and the Italian states. He also mentions that Ireland is in "a very disturbed State."

Finlayson, Duncan

1850 (Aug) from Donald Ross to Smithurst

Place: Norway House

From: Don Ross

To: Reverend J Smithurst, Indian Settlement, Red River

Details: 2pp and an envelope

Notes: A private letter written quickly by Donald Ross to Rev. John Smithurst. He vaguely refers to trouble involving Mr. Hunter, and also refuses to comment on an unidentified situation.

Ross, Donald

1850 (Nov) from W. G. Smith to Smithurst

Place: Hudson's Bay House, London [England]

From: W.G. Smith

To: Revd John Smithurst, Red River Settlement

Details: 3pp and integral address face

Notes: Mr. Smith writes to Rev. Smithurst regarding financial matters. He comments that money is cheap due to the influx of gold from California.

Smith, William Gregory

1851 (May) from James Settee to Smithurst

Place: Lac La Ronge, C.M.L. Station

From: James Settee

To: The Reverend J. Smithurst,
Indian Settlement (crossed out),
Church Missionary House, Salisbury Square, London (crossed out),
Middleton, Wirksworth, Derbyshire

Details: 3pp and integral address face

Notes: James Settee writes to Rev. Smithurst on a number of matters. He says that Thomas Cook brought Rev. Smithurst's last letter to him and told Settee that Rev. Smithurst was suffering badly from rheumatism. Settee says both he and his wife also suffer from rheumatism, which he blames on the cold climate. Settee is about to leave on a long journey to Norway House, and he mentions that the baptized Natives object to working on Sundays, but Settee feels that the portages would be impossible without the help of the Hudson's Bay Company boats and so they must work on the Sabbath to keep up. The mission at Lac La Ronge is doing well, and Settee hopes to writes to Rev. Smithurst again once he reaches Norway House.

While written in May, this letter has a cancellation for Sault Ste Marie, C.W. in September. The letter then made its way to Church Missionary House in London, England where it was then redirected to Middleton, Wirksworth, Derbyshire.

Settee, James

1851 (Oct) from W. G. Smith to Smithurst

Place: Hudson's Bay House, London [England]

From: W.G. Smith

To: Revd John Smithurst, Middleton, Wirksworth, Derbyshire [England]

Details: 2pp

Notes: In this letter, Mr. Smith writes to Rev. Smithurst to let him know that his packages have arrived in England and he will forward them by train.

Smith, William Gregory

1846 (Mar) from Alexander Christie Jr to Smithurst

Place: Lower Fort [Garry]

From: Alex[ander] Christie Jr.

To: Rev’d J. Smithurst, Indian Settlement

Delivery: Carried by courier

Details: 2pp + integral address face

Notes: Christie discusses the shipment of goods that were deficient in the last shipment. He informs Smithurst that there is no flannel to be had, nor jackets of any description.

Christie, Alexander Jr

1847 (Jan & Apr) from W.G. Smith to Smithurst

Place: Hudson’s Bay House, London [England]

From: W.G. Smith

To: Rev’d John Smithurst, R.R.S. [Red River Settlement]

Delivery: Forwarded to Red River Settlement via Hudson’s Bay Company supply ship and canoe brigade, and thence by courier to the Indian Settlement at Netley Creek

Details: 1pp + integral address face

Notes: William Gregory Smith, a secretary at the Hudson’s Bay Company London office, acknowledges receipt of Smithurst’s letter dated August 4, 1846 containing two bills to be paid and credited to Mr. Cockran, also that six cases belonging to Mr. Cockran have arrived safely and “have not been lost sight of.”

An addition to the letter reads: “Your letter of the 17th Nov’r forwarded by Winter Packet has just come to hand. Sir George Simpson leaves tomorrow with the Express. I have therefore only time to say that every exertion shall be used to meet your wishes.”

Smith, William Gregory

1847 (May) from W.G. Smith to Smithurst

Place: Hudson’s Bay House, London [England]

From: W.G. Smith

To: Rev’d John Smithurst, RRS [Red River Settlement]

Delivery: Forwarded to Red River Settlement via Hudson’s Bay Company supply ship and canoe brigade, and then by courier to the Indian Settlement at Netley Creek

Details: 1 pp (letter) + 2 pp (invoice) + integral address face

Notes: Hudson’s Bay Company secretary W.G. Smith mentions having received Smithurst’s letter of November 17, 1846 on April 16, 1847 and having written a brief acknowledgement that was included with the Spring Express. Smith appends an invoice for goods ordered (tea, gun powder, sugar, mustard, salt petre, soda, starch, pork, soap, etc.) and says these were shipped to Smithurst on board the “Westminster” via York Factory and Red River Settlement.

Smith, William Gregory

1848 (Jan) from W.G. Smith to Smithurst

Place: Hudson’s Bay House, London [England]

From: W.G. Smith

To: Rev’d John Smithurst, RRS [Red River Settlement]

Delivery: Forwarded to Red River Settlement via Hudson’s Bay Company supply ship and canoe brigade, and then by courier to the Indian Settlement at Netley Creek

Details: 1 pp (letter) + 1 pp (invoice) + integral address face with hand postal marking

Notes: Hudson’s Bay Company secretary W.G. Smith offers his apologies to Rev. Smithurst. The vessel "Westminster" carrying Smithurst's ordered goods, arrived too late in the season to be unloaded before the Red River-bound boats were sent off. Consequently, very few of the privately ordered goods reached Red River before the Spring.

Smith acknowledges receiving Smithurst's letter of August 6, 1847 which was brought by the vessel "Prince Rupert" in October, 1847. He further apologizes because of an error in the charges for the last shipment. Adjustments have been made accordingly to Smithurst's balance, a copy of which is appended to the letter.

Smith, William Gregory

1848 (Apr) from W.G. Smith to Smithurst

Place: Hudson’s Bay House, London [England]

From: W.G. Smith

To: Rev’d J. Smithurst, RRS [Red River Settlement]

Delivery: Forwarded to Red River Settlement via Hudson’s Bay Company supply ship and canoe brigade, and then by courier to the Indian Settlement at Netley Creek

Details: 1 pp + integral address face with hand postal marking

Notes: Hudson’s Bay Company secretary W.G. Smith acknowledges Rev. Smithurst’s letter of November 23, 1847 which arrived by the Winter Packet. Smith apologizes and writes, “I regret to find that my worst fears, with regard to the loss and disappointment, likely to arise from the late arrival of the Westminster, have been fully realized.” Smith explains that, “[s]he had a most narrow escape and I believe that, had it not been for the 1st officer of the P[rince] Rupert, who was on board the Westminster when she was driven from her anchorage, both ship and cargo would have been lost.”

Smith goes on to say that Mr. Christie (at Red River) will refund Smithurst the overpayment made for the goods, caused by an accounting error.

Smith, William Gregory

[ca. 1847] from Alexander Christie Jr. to Smithurst

Place: [Lower Fort Garry]

From: Alex[ander] Christie Jr.

To: Rev’d J. Smithurst, Indian Settlement

Delivery: Carried by courier

Details: 1 pp + integral address face

Notes: Christie thanks Smithurst for the gift of pigeons, and sends 495 lbs. of beef, crediting Smithurst’s account. While the note is undated, Christie was posted to Red River in 1847 and was transferred to Edmonton some time in 1848.

Christie, Alexander Jr

1849 (Sept) from William Douglas Lane to Smithurst

Place: Lower Fort Garry

From: W. Lane

To: Rev’d J. Smithurst, Indian Settlement

Delivery: Local courier (probably Hudson’s Bay Company courier)

Details: 1pp + integral address face

Notes: A short letter by William Douglas Lane, Postmaster at Lower Fort Garry, noting that he is sending copies of Smithurst’s accounts. The reverse of the letter is covered with columns of numbers, lists, and calculations.

Lane, William Douglas

1850 (Jan & Apr) from W.G. Smith to Smithurst

Place: Hudson’s Bay House, London [England]

From: W.G. Smith

To: Rev’d J. Smithurst, RRS [Red River Settlement]

Delivery: Forwarded to Red River Settlement via Hudson’s Bay Company supply ship and canoe brigade, and then by courier to the Indian Settlement at Netley Creek

Details: 2pp + integral address face

Notes: Hudson’s Bay Company secretary William Gregory Smith discusses a request by Rev. Smithurst to submit money to the Hudson's Bay Company for interest. As mentioned to Smithurst by Sir George Simpson, the Company can do so only for money earned through the company. Smith did approach the Governor and Committee on Smithurst’s behalf, but they refused the request.

Also mentioned is business regarding a Mr. Henry Cook and the property of his deceased father. A postscript dated April 3, 1850, indicates Smith received additional papers from Rev. Smithurst regarding the late Joseph Cook, presumably Henry Cook's father, but he does not have time to process these before the Spring Packet leaves London.

An additional note scrawled in a different handwriting is written on the integral address face and mentions Cook and money.

Smith, William Gregory

1850 (Sept) from William Douglas Lane to Smithurst

Place: [Lower Fort Garry]

From: W[illiam Douglas] Lane

To: Rev’d J. Smithurst, Indian Settlement

Delivery: Local courier (probably Hudson’s Bay Company courier)

Details: 2pp + integral address face

Notes: A short letter from William Douglas Lane, Postmaster at Lower Fort Garry, noting that the 10 lbs of nails that Rev. Smithurst requested are being sent, and fresh beef will be available shortly. Lane also thanks Smithurst for recovering some goods stolen [from Lower Fort Garry] by young Flett, while expressing his suspicion that William Tait put the boy up to it, but Lane intends to “do all in my power to get the young scamp punished.”

Lane, William Douglas

1851 (Jun) from William Douglas Lane to Smithurst

Place: Lower Fort Garry

From: W[illiam Douglas] Lane

To: Rev’d J. Smithurst, Indian Settlement

Delivery: Local courier (probably Hudson’s Bay Company courier)

Details: 1pp + integral address face

Notes: A short letter by William Douglas Lane, Postmaster at Lower Fort Garry, discussing the payment of bills, refunding of money, and receipt of a flute.

Lane, William Douglas

1852 (Feb) from W.G. Smith to Smithurst

Place: Hudson’s Bay House, London [England]

From: W.G. Smith

To: Rev’d J. Smithurst, Wirksworth, Derbyshire (England)

Delivery: Great Britain mail

Details: 3pp + addressed envelope with postal marks (stamp removed)

Notes: Hudson’s Bay Company secretary W.G. Smith writes to say he is glad that Rev. Smithurst is enjoying himself upon his return to England, and discusses some outstanding balances due, including money from Henry Cook. He also mentions that he has a received large order from Rev. Cockran for blankets to be distributed to the Indians of his old mission.

Smith, William Gregory

1847 (Apr) from Duncan Finlayson to Smithurst

Place: Lachine

From: Dun: Finlayson

To: Revd Inv: Smithurst, Red River Settlement

Delivery: Carried by Hudson’s Bay Company canoe brigade to the Red River Settlement.

Details: 3pp + integral address.

Notes: A letter sent by Duncan Finlayson, Hudson’s Bay Company Director, to Reverend John Smithurst. The letter details issues related to supplies of wheat, and comments on the problems of receiving publications from England. Finlayson also mentions that Reverend William Cockran spent the winter in Toronto with his family. Rev. Cockran’s children had been ill and his son John died.

Finlayson, Duncan

Fort Chipewyan Photographs and HBC Journal

The photographic archive comes from Louise Rourke’s working papers used to illustrate her book “Land of the Frozen Tide,” published in London, 1928. Photographs are mounted on paper, many with typed captions. Some are mocked up with borders and decoration, or are marked up to silhouette individuals. Various notations in ink and pencil appear on most items. Most photographs are of Fort Chipewyan, Lake Athabasca, and Fond-du-Lac, SK. There are many photographs of boats on Lake Athabasca. Of note are two photographs accompanied by newspaper clippings.

  • Photograph of John Hornby in front of a cabin. Photograph is accompanied by an undated newspaper clipping describing the tragic discovery of Mr. Hornby, dead by starvation.
  • Photograph of two men captioned as the "factor" and "Mr. Mercredi, local boatbuilder." Accompanied by photograph clipped from a 1996 newspaper, captioned “Assembly of First Nations chief Ovide Mercredi looks toward aboriginal Korean War veteran Leon Fontaine from Manitoba Monday in Ottawa.”

Also included is an unpublished Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading post journal. Contains daily manuscript entries written by Louise Rourke's first husband, accountant Douglas Musgrave Rourke, who worked at Ft. Chipewyan. Entries are from between January 1, 1926 and January 7, 1927. The entries are preceded by a page of comments probably written by Louise Rourke. A carbon typescript biography of Louise Rourke and her second husband, Alwyn H.B. Dawson, is included as a loose sheet of paper.

Rourke, Louise