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1700—1749

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

1776 Handwritten Voyageur Contract

A handwritten voyageur contract for the position of “Devant” (Bowsman), signed in Montreal on September 2, 1776. This document contracts Joseph Leger dit Parizeau as a bowsman for Joseph-Louis Ainsse for the salary of 450 francs “currency of the country.” The outline of the contract was pre-written in black ink and later filled in with particulars by Francois Simonnet in a paler ink.

1780 James Grant letter

A letter from James Grant addressed to his attorney, James Walker. He refers to giving a 10 day extension to someone who owes him money and requests that Mr. Walker represent him should the need arise for him to pursue legal action against this person. Mr. Grant also mentions Jacob Jordan, Richard Dobie, and Mr. Mackenzie who are all involved with the fur trade.

Grant, James

1782 Lake Erie freight line promissory note

A beautifully handwritten receipt/promissory note for freight shipped across Lake Erie aboard His Majesty's schooner "Hope." Signed in Detroit, November 25, 1782, by Gregor McGregor for Normand MacLeod & Company. Endorsed by Thomas Dunn, Justice of Common Pleas (J.C.P.).

The note reads, "The Hope, Detroit. 25 November 1782. Received from on board his Majesty's Schooner Hope Henry Ford Commander, seven and one half Barrels Bulk of Merchandize as per Bill of Lading No.11 in the Same Condition as Shipped at Fort Erie, the freight of Which I Promise to pay on Demand, to the Naval Store keeper at Detroit, the Naval Store keeper at Carelton Island, Or to the Pay Master General of the Marine Department at Quebec, for Which I have Signed two Receipts of the Same Tenor and Date. Box N.36 Shott half out. (signed) Gregor McGregor for McLeod & Co."

Docketed:
"No.11 Receipt to be Signed [by] Mr. McLeod"
"1782 McLeod & Macknamara"
"No.14 = 7 1/2 B.B." (where '14' is written in pencil)
"Judgement Montreal 15 Nov 1792 Thom. Dunn JCP"

From notes provided by the donor: "Shortly after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War in 1776, the British Inland Marine (ultimately under the control of Guy Carleton, Governor of Quebec) restricted movement on the Great Lakes to the King's vessels in an effort to control or eliminate the smuggling of goods that might potentially assist the rebellious 'enemy' to the south. Within this arrangement, fur traders and merchants were allowed to have their goods shipped aboard the King's vessels, provided that there was room (over and above the needs of the Navy and other official Military personnel). Goods and furs were shipped aboard the vessels, and 'Freight Notes' were issued to confirm not only the receipt of goods but also to state a promise to pay (at some later date) for the service. In the end, many of these promissory notes were not settled: many of the trades and merchants were summoned to court for non-payment whereas others delinquent in payment were simply dismissed.

Problems aboard the ships were commonplace, and shipments were lost and damaged, with little recourse for compensation. Throughout this period, the traders and merchants (essentially the core of what was to become the North West Company and their opposition groups) complained, and eventually were permitted to have a few of their own private vessels on the Great Lakes to conduct their business activities.

Two years after the conclusion of the Revolutionary war, American and British delegates met in Paris to formalize Britain's recognition and acceptance of the United States of America, and signed the Paris Treaty of 1783. However, the inland maritime restrictions were in place until about 1787, when more private vessels were allowed to operate on the lakes.

This 'Freight Note' is a rare example of fur trade ephemera from a critical period of instability in the region following the British Conquest of New France and the enactment of the Quebec Act. It exemplifies the structured presence and control of the British over the Great Lakes, and the law-abiding fur traders and merchants who wished to continue their trade in the midst of all the chaos and uncertainty.

Normand MacLeod (d. 1796) was an army officer who entered the fur trade in 1774. He developed a partnership with Gregor McGregor, and by 1779 included John Macnamara (a prominent merchant in Michilimackinac) as a new partner. In 1781, he became associated with John Gregory of Montreal in the firm of Gregory, MacLeod and Company (among whose Wintering Partners was a young Alexander Mackenzie). Gregory, MacLeod and Company proved to be the main opposition to the North West Company, and by 1787 were absorbed into the association. In 1790, MacLeod sold his share and retired."

1793 Todd, McGill & Co. legal action

Three documents related to a court action taken by Todd, McGill & Co. for 6.12.5 pounds. They recovered the amount. The first document is written in English, with the following documents written in French.

From notes provided by the donor: "Todd, McGill & Co. included Isaac Todd and brothers James McGill, John McGill, and Andrew McGill. The firm was concerned mainly with the fur trade south-west of the Great Lakes region. James McGill left a large part of his estate to found McGill University in Montreal."

1798 Warrant to Summons, signed by Alexander Henry & Alexander Auldjo

Warrant to the Sheriff to summon 12 principal householders. Signed and sealed in Montreal 1798 by Alexander Henry (the elder) and Alexander Auldjo. Also endorsed by Sheriff Wm. Gray.

From notes provided by the donor: "Known by the Natives as 'the handsome Englishman,' Alexander Henry was one of the first English traders to pursue the fur trade in Canada upon the fall of New France. He was one of the founding members of the Beaver Club, and together with his nephew Alexander Henry the younger, acquired a share in the North West Company in 1792. He related his early experiences in his celebrated book 'Travels and Adventures in Canada and the Indian Territories, Between the years 1760 and 1776.'

Alexander Auldjo, a leader among Montreal businessmen in the 1780s, invested considerable sums in the Canadian fur trade, bought and sold property, and administered estates. He also had intimate dealings with other noteworthy Montreal merchants, namely William Maitland, Richard Dobie, and Simon McTavish.

With regard to the present document, Henry and Auldjo, in the capacity of 'His Majesty's Justices to Keep Peace in Montreal,' consider an application by Peter Foretier to subdivide a six-acre piece of land 'situated near the Town Walls, along the rivulet commonly called the Montreal River.' In this light, the document proposes to summon twelve principal householders of the district to appear before the justices to consider the proposed subdivision."

1800—1809

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

1801 voyageur contract

A printed form contract in French. Signed in 1801 by Louis and Joseph Belair, Pierre Champoux, and public notary Maurice deGlandons. By this contract, Pierre Champoux signed on with McTavish, Frobisher & Co. as a voyageur.

1802 voyageur contract

A letter-press printed form contract. This fill-in-the-blank contract is for employment as a voyageur with McTavish, Frobisher & Co. This contract is signed by A[?]ais Gregoire.

1802 voyageur contract

A letter-press printed form contract. This fill-in-the-blank contract is for employment as a voyageur with McTavish, Frobisher & Co. This contract is signed by Jacques Roy, with Mr. Frederick Singer signing for the company.

1802 voyageur contract

This fill-in-the-blank contract was originally for employment with Parker Gerrard & Ogilvy, but this name is crossed out and replaced with Alexr. Mackenzie. It is signed by Michel Dantigny, who signed in Montreal.

1803 voyageur contract

This item is a fill-in-the-blank contract offering employment with McTavish, Frobisher & Co. It is signed by Francois Piquette. There are numerous alterations to the contract made in the margins.

1806 voyageur contract

This fill-in-the-blank contract is for employment with McTavish, Frobisher & Co. and John Ogilvy and Thomas Thain. It is signed by Ignace Roberts, who signed in Montreal.

1806 voyageur contract

This is a fill-in-the-blank contract for employment with McTavish, Frobisher & Co. and John Ogilvy and Thomas Thain. It is signed by Charles Laneuville. It was signed in Montreal. There are numerous revisions to the standard contract written in ink.

1806 voyageur contract

This fill-in-the-blank contract is for employment with Forsyth Richardson & Co. but the clerk who filled in the form began writing "Richardson" first before crossing it out. This contract is signed by Jacques Commercie (father), who signed in Montreal.

1807 voyageur contract

This fill-in-the-blank contract is for employment with Parker Gerrard Ogilvy & Co. It is signed by Charles Monnette de Boismis, who signed in Montreal.

1808 voyageur contract

This fill-in-the-blank form is an employment contract with McTavish, McGillivrays & Co. and John Ogilvy and Thomas Thain. It is signed by Francois Lefevre, who signed in Montreal.

1810—1819

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

1811 voyageur contract

This fill-in-the-blank form is an employment contract with McTavish, McGillivrays & Co. and John Ogilvy and Thomas Thain. It is signed by Louis Mallette, who signed in Montreal.
This form was printed by Imprimerie de Brown.

1811 voyageur contract

This fill-in-the-blank contract is for employment with McTavish, McGillivrays & Co. and John Ogilvy and Thomas Thain. It is signed by Pierre Mailloux, who signed in Montreal.
The form was printed by Imprimerie de Brown.

1811 voyageur contract

This fill-in-the-blank contract is for employment with McTavish, McGillivrays & Co. and John Ogilvy and Thomas Thain. It is signed by Andre Langevin, who signed in Montreal.
The form was printed by Imprimerie de Brown.

1818 Pierre Pambrun Indictment, Pemmican War

Indictment for Robbery, signed in Montreal, 1818.

Docket reads: "No. 19. King's Bench, Montreal. March Term, 1818. Dominus Rex vs. Pierre C. Pambrun, Jean Bte. Girard, Antoine Robillard, Jean Bte. Lagarde, Frans. Boucher & Benonie Marie. Indictment for Robbery. A True Bill. [signed] Fs. Rolland, foreman. Witnesses: Jean Gab. Lalonde, dt. La Prielle, Jean Bte. Chauvin. Process. fyled 5 March. [signed] N.F. Uniacke, Atty Genl."

From notes provided by the donor: "This original document outlines the charge of robbery against Pierre Chrysologue Pambrun (1792-1841) and his associates (all employees of the Hudson's Bay Company), which took place on the 10th of November 1816. The indictment was officially filed with the Court of King's Bench in Montreal on 2nd of March 1818.

The charge is stated (in essence) as:

'With force and arms at a place called 'Lapuise' the accused men (employees of the HBC) assaulted and endangered the life of Joseph Belcour (trader with the NWC [North West Company]) on the 'highway' aforesaid (Lac des Cedres Rouges), and stole 9 beaver skins, 25 musk rat skins, 2 otter skins, 1 bear skin, 1 keg of gun powder, one sack of lead balls (28 pounds weight), 1 roll of tobacco (65 pounds weight), 9 pairs of woollen blankets, 3.5 yards of scarlet cloth, 14 yards of blue cloth, 21 yards of blue cloth, 6 frocks (commonly called capots made of woollen cloth or molton), 3 figured flannel robes, 1 pound and ten ounces weight of beads, 200 gun flints, 1 piece and one-half piece of broad tape, 1 Indian knife, 3 clasp knives, three-quarters of a pound of vermilion, 1 gimblet, 23 shoemaker's awls, 12 gun worms, and 4 dozen metal rings powder (each listed with values), the goods and chattel of 'certain persons' (i.e., Joseph Belcour, on behalf of the NWC).'

Pierre Pambrun was a long-time employee and servant of the HBC, and was intimately involved in the 'Pemmican War' disputes between the HBC and the North West Company, primarily during the years 1814 to 1816. Pambrun, as witness, provided the courts with his observations and experiences of various skirmishes between the two companies. His evidence was included in published accounts of the trials.

Not much is known about Joseph Belcour, aside from the fact that we know that he was employed by the NWC in 1811 at Athabasca River. Although not stated on the document, we can safely conclude that he was still associated with the NWC during the time of this incident, as the document is written in the style and format of similar indictments brought against the HBC by the NWC. We can also safely concluded that this legal action taken was paid for by the NWC coalition, as part of a larger retaliatory action against the HBC, in the fight for unrestricted access to furs and supplies (i.e., pemmican) in western Canada.

Norman Fitzgerald Uniacke, son of Nova Scotia's Attorney General Richard John Uniacke, was Attorney General of Lower Canada at the time of the 'Pemmican War' hearings. He was a controversial figure, and was criticised for his very superficial acquaintance with criminal law and inadequate knowledge of civil law.

This official document was brought before the courts in Montreal, but did not proceed to completion owing to the fact that the 'Jurisdiction Act' of 1803 did not clearly state the jurisdiction of the courts of Lower Canada. Thus, the 'Indian Countries' fell outside of their area of responsibility. In addition, it was argued that the trials would not escape sympathetic influence of Montreal residents (including lawyers) connected in some way to the NWC. Thus, the trials were moved to York (Toronto), and the legal actions continued in the fall of 1818."

1820 voyageur contract

This fill-in-the-blank contract is for employment with McTavish, McGillivrays & Co. & Pierre de Rocheblave. It is signed by Louis Chouinard, who signed in Montreal. It appears that A. N. Macleod signed for the company, although the last few letters of the signature are difficult to make out.

1820—1829

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

1821 Act for regulating the Fur Trade

Titled: "An Act for regulating the Fur Trade, and establishing a Criminal and Civil Jurisdiction within certain Parts of North America. (2d July 1821.)" Removed from a bound volume printed in London, Great Britain by Eyre and Strahan in 1821. Pages are numbered 569-575.

From notes provided by the donor: "This act, released shortly after the amalgamation of the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company, granted exclusive trading rights to the 'new' H.B.C. for a period of 21 years. The act also extended the legality of the 'Jurisdiction Act of 1803' to include all territory specified by the H.B.C.'s lease."

1822 - Expediency of Occupying the Columbia River

From the title page: "Report Of the Select Committee, appointed on the 10th ultimo, to inquire into the expediency of occupying the Columbia river, and to regulate the intercourse with the Indian tribes; accompanied with a bill to authorize the occupation of the Columbia River. January 18, 1822. Read, and, with the bill, committed to a committee of the whole House to-morrow."

Pages 9 and 10 refer to the rich profits being made in the Canadian Fur Trade, with particular mention of Alexander Mackenzie’s explorations to the west coast and the profits made by the North West Company.

1830 Assignment of stock, McGillivray to Ellice

This is Edward Ellice's copy of an indenture between John Richardson, George Gregory and Samuel Gerrard of the First Part, Simon McGillivray of the Second Part, and Edward Ellice of the Third Part.

Docket reads: "Dated 29 Sept 1830, The trustees of Simon McGillivray Esq & the said Simon McGillivray to Edwd Ellice Esq, Copy Assignment of Hudsons Bay Stock and other Trust Effects in consideration of £110,000 [line] 1700. Norman Bethune Tutor Pltf vs. The Right Honourable Edward Ellice Defdt., Defendants Exhibit No.4 Filed Feb. 20th 1839 [signature illegible]."

From notes provided by the donor: "This indenture between John Richardson and George Gregory (formerly of the XY Company and North West Company), Simon McGillivray (formerly of the North West Company), and Edward Ellice (formerly of Phyn, Ellices and Inglis of Schenectady and the North West Company, and later of the Hudson's Bay Company) details the arrangements made regarding the financial interests of those holding title in the consolidated fur trade concern (formerly that of the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company).

Throughout the document, many details are given with respect to share and stock allocations to individual traders and trading groups. The docket states that this document was used as "Defendant's Exhibit No. 4" in a litigation filed 20 Feb. 1839, naming Norman Bethune as plaintiff and Edward Ellice as defendant. Edward Ellice stands out as one of the main players in bringing about the union between the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company. Upon the failure of McTavish, McGillivrays and Company in 1825, he became the only one who stood between the Hudson's Bay Company and the claims of discontented members of the North West Company. As a result, Ellice became involved in the series of litigations which lasted for 25 years. Norman Bethune was among the many people seeking financial compensation through Ellice."

1830—1839

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

1838 (Aug) from William Buckley to Smithurst

Place: Middleton [Derbyshire, England]

From: Frs Buckley

To: J. Smithurst, Church Missionary Institution, Islington [London]

Delivery: Great Britain mail

Details: 3 pp + integral address face

Notes: Reverend William Buckley is deeply disappointed to hear that John Smithurst had to cancel his planned visit to Middleton. Rev. Buckley goes on to relate news of recent marriages and clergy appointments.

Buckley, William

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].

1839 (Nov) Copy of Verdict in Murder Trial

Place: Upper Fort Garry

From: unknown

To: Rev. J. Smithurst

Details: 2pp with integral address

Notes: Copy of not guilty verdict returned by the Jury on the trial of Henry Beardie for the murder of William Washington Bird. While the jury admits that Beardie did point his bow and arrow at Bird, the fact that Beardie is only 12 years old leads the jury to acquit him of murder. The jury warns parents to abolish archery in the community to prevent future deaths.

1839 (Nov) from William Cockran to Smithurst

Place: Grand Rapids

From: Wm Cockran

To: Rev. J. Smithurst, Indian Settlement

Details: 2pp

Notes: Rev. Cockran sends supplies with "Beary and William Thomas" and he spoke with Ferdinand regarding fat and dried meat for the children. He hopes that Rev. Smithurst is over his cold. Rev. Cockran will not be able to visit him because he has to be at the Middle Church this week.

Cockran, William

1840 (Dec) from the Bishop of Montreal to Rev. John Smithurst

Place: Red River Settlement

From: The Bishop of Montreal

To: Reverend John Smithurst

Details: 3pp

Notes: The letter would have been likely carried to Toronto, Barrie, Penetanguishine and then along Lake Huron's and Superior's coastlines by the Winter Express which included dog team, snow shoe, and then overland to Winnipeg River, Lake Winnipeg, up to Red River to the Indian Settlement.

Bishop of Montreal

1840 (Jul) from Henry Budd to Smithurst

Place: Wapashayaw

From: H. Budd

To: Revd J. Smithurst, Indian Settlement

Details: 3pp and integral address

Notes: Henry Budd writes to Rev. Smithurst with news of his trek to the Saskatchewan River from the Red River Settlement. After 17 days, Budd arrived at an area he calls “Wapaskayaw” and mentions a Mr. Turner who is farming barley and potatoes in the area. Budd has decided the area is favourable and plans to stay and begin building the school and mission.

Budd, Henry

1840—1849

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

1841 (Apr) from William Cockran to Smithurst

Place: Grand Rapids [Red River Settlement]

From: William Cockran

To: Rev. J. Smithurst, Indian Settlement

Delivery: Carried by courier “James,” possibly on account of Church Missionary Society (?)

Details: 1 pp + integral address face

Notes: Cockran sends Smithurst hatchet bar and rod iron (as supplies for his smithy), and endeavors to get additional iron for him from the Fort (most likely Lower Fort Garry). He also sends barley and wheat.

Cockran, William

1841 (Aug) invoice from [Hudson’s Bay Company] to Smithurst

Place: Lower Fort Garry

From: [Hudson’s Bay Company]

To: The Rev’d John Smithurst, Indian Settlement

Delivery: Local courier (probably HBC courier)

Details: 2 pp (additional accounting in hand of Smithurst) + integral address face

Notes: Invoice for purchases made at Lower Fort Garry, listing goods such as tea, sugar, soap, buttons, plates, saltpetre, kettles, knives, shot, etc. In red, items are assigned as purchased by Henry Budd, or “C.M.S.” (Church Missionary Society). The second page is an additional accounting of items purchased by Smithurst in September, showing amount paid and amount charged to C.M.S.

Hudson's Bay Company

1841 (Feb) from Anne Alsop and Catherine Wasse to Smithurst

Place: Sycamore Cottage [Derbyshire, England]

From: Anne Alsop & Catherine Wasse

To: The Reverend John Smithurst, Church Missionary. To be forwarded and properly directed from Islington

Delivery: Forwarded by the Church Missionary Society 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: 4 pp (partly cross-written) + integral address face

Notes: Composite letter from friends Anne Alsop and her niece Catherine Wasse. Anne Alsop mentions Rev. Smithurst's brother George and family matters. Catherine Wasse writes about her impression of London, the renovations to Dethick Chapel, the success of her brother who is leasing Wakebridge Mine from Mr. Nightingale (the father of Florence Nightingale), Mr. Nightingale's annual visit, and the record-setting winter weather.

Alsop, Anne

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