Hudson’s Bay Company Series


The Champlain Society – Hudson’s Bay Company Series

Hudson’s Bay Company Series I – Journal of Occurrences in the Athabasca Department, by George Simpson, 1820 and 1821, and Report (Publication date: 1938):

Author: George Simpson

Editor: E.E. Rich

Foreword: Lord Tweedsmuir

Introduction: Chester Martin

The first volume of the Hudson’s Bay Company Series is a verbatim transcription of the complete text of Simpson’s “Report and Journal,” supported by notes and appendices. It documents a “golden age” of the company under this indomitable governor, who had left Montreal by canoe in 1820 to reach the Athabasca Department. In 1821, the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company amalgamated under the HBC charter. Writes Chester Martin in his introduction: “This remarkable journal of a very remarkable man was written at a juncture in the fortunes of the Hudson’s Bay Company which gives it an historical interest out of all proportion to its intrinsic value as a chapter in the technique of the fur trade.” It is also significant for “the light which it throws upon the deadly rivalry, then at its worst, between the Hudson’s Bay and North West Companies.”

Hudson’s Bay Company Series II – Colin Robertson’s Correspondence Book, September 1817 to September 1822 (Publication date: 1939):

Author: Colin Robertson

Editors: E.E. Rich, assisted by R. Harvey Fleming

E.E. Rich rightly calls Robertson’s correspondence book from September 1, 1817, to September 1822 a “lively document of publishable dimensions which puts on the scene all the factors during the vital period of Robertson’s connection with the company.” While the letters do not begin until 1816, they cast back to 1809, when Robertson left the North West Company, eventually joining the HBC in 1812. The main body of letters begins after Robertson’s second seizure of the North West Company’s Fort Gibraltar (Winnipeg) in March 1816 and the Seven Oaks Massacre that June. Ensuing events include Robertson’s trial and acquittal in Montreal on charges arising from the seizure of Fort Gibraltar, his ambush and rearrest by North West Company men in 1820, his escape from incarceration at Hull and flight to the United States, an additional flight from England to France to avoid debtor’s prison, and his appointment as chief factor of Norway House under the reorganized company of 1821.

Hudson’s Bay Company Series III – Minutes of Council, Northern Department of Rupert Land, 1821-31 (Publication date: 1940):

Editors: R. Harvey Fleming, E.E. Rich

Introduction: H.A. Innis

The minutes cover the decade following the amalgamation of the Hudson’s Bay Company and its rival, the North West Company, under the HBC charter in 1821. The new company faced the task of reorganizing to meet American and Canadian competition. Two periods are covered: the first, to 1826, is concerned with attempts to work out an effective method of direction; the second, to 1831, is concerned with the work of a new organization, following the decision to make George Simpson, already governor of the Northern Department of Rupert Land, the governor of the Southern Department as well.

Hudson’s Bay Company Series IV – The Letters of John McLoughlin from Fort Vancouver to the Governor and Committee. First series, 1825-38 (Publication date: 1941):

Author: John McLoughlin

Editor: E.E. Rich

Introduction: W. Kaye Lamb

McLoughlin’s letters from Fort Vancouver to the HBC Governor and Committee “open a new topic in the history of the Hudson’s Bay Company, the story of the Company’s activities on the Pacific Coast during the nineteenth century,” states the preface by E.E. Rich. The volume contains every letter in the Company’s possession written by McLoughlin to the Governor and Committee between 1825 and 1838. They detail his major challenges: “hostile Indians, obstructive Russians and pioneering Americans, with the problems of agricultural settlement and of missionary enterprise, with the balance between exploitation and conservation of fur-bearing animals, with fever, shipping, timber and salmon.”

Hudson’s Bay Company Series V – Minutes of the Hudson’s Bay Company, 1671-1674 (Publication date: 1942):

Editor: E.E. Rich

Introduction: Sir John Clapham

While slim, this document, the first Grand Ledger of the HBC, “has its own unrivalled importance,” wrote Sir John Clapham. “Apart from the Charter, it is the earliest document in the [company] archives.” It preserves the minutes of the General Court, its Committee and Sub-Committee, from October 24, 1671, to July 22, 1674. Appendixes include the royal charter of 1670, the granting of (nonexistent) Busse Island to the company, ledger accounts of governors and members of committee from 1671 to 1674 and of all adventurers named in the 1670 charter, ledger accounts of ships’ captains, 1668-74, incident charges of voyages to Hudson Bay, 1668-72, a discussion of Groseilliers and Radisson, and biographical sketches.

Hudson’s Bay Company Series VI – The Letters of John McLoughlin from Fort Vancouver to the Governor and Committee. Second Series, 1839-44 (Publication date: 1943):

Author: John McLoughlin

Editor: E.E. Rich

Introduction: W. Kaye Lamb

McLoughlin’s 1838-39 furlough in England provided a natural break for the first series in his letters published by The Champlain Society. This second series concludes arbitrarily, leaving the remaining letters to a third and final volume. The second series addresses two significant topics for which the bulk of relevant letters are reproduced here. One is the controversy that sprang up between McLoughlin and Sir George Simpson over the conduct of trade on the Northwest Coast. The other is the murder of McLoughlin’s son, John McLoughlin, Jr., at Stikine in April 1842.

Hudson’s Bay Company Series VII – The Letters of John McLoughlin from Fort Vancouver to the Governor and Committee. Third Series, 1844-46 (Publication date: 1944):

Author: John McLoughlin

Editors: E.E. Rich

Introduction: W. Kaye Lamb

This third and final series of the McLoughlin letters “furnishes ample evidence that Sir George Simpson’s visit to the Pacific Coast in 1841-42 was the turning-point in McLoughlin’s later career,” wrote W. Kaye Lamb in the introduction. “To it McLoughlin himself ascribed the tragic events and bitter controversies that darkened his last years in the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company.” McLoughlin’s plans for a chain of coastal posts were dashed as Simpson advocated using ships instead. Two appendixes provide extensive supplementary documents relating to the period covered by this letter series, including the dispute over Willamette Falls and the protection of British interests in Oregon as the 49th Parallel was chosen as the international boundary with the United States.

Hudson’s Bay Company Series VIII – Minutes of the Hudson’s Bay Company, 1679-1684. First Part, 1679-82 (Publication date: 1945):

Editor: E.E. Rich

Introduction: G.N. Clark

These minutes are almost exclusively concerned with the “London end” of company affairs. The Minutes Book is published here, with the text collated from the “Greater book” and a series of smaller books covering the same period, while ledgers and journals have been used for notes and appendices. The volume pauses at the end of May 1682, when the ships of the year have left Gravesend and before the company begins to encounter problems with interlopers and French rivals. Appendices include a report to the governor and committee by John Nixon in 1682 (which provides content from operations in the company territory), sundry accounts, and biographical sketches.

Hudson’s Bay Company Series IX – Minutes of the Hudson’s Bay Company, 1679-1684. Second Part, 1682-84 (Publication date: 1946):

Editor: E.E. Rich

Introduction: G.N. Clark

“During the period covered by the second half of the Minutes Book, 1679-84,” G.N. Clark explained in the preface, “the position and privileges of the Company are challenged from every quarter, by the French, by English interlopers, and by New England adventurers.” As in the First Part (1679-82) the minutes are concerned with the London side of the enterprise. Context is provided by the Wynne Papers at Oxford dealing with French negotiations. Appendixes include select documents from the High Court of Admiralty records related to the dispute between the company and English interlopers Charles Boone, John Davall & Company, shipments outwards in 1684, and biographical sketches.

Hudson’s Bay Company Series X – Part of Dispatch from George Simpson Esqr. Governor of Ruperts Land to the Governor & Committee of the Hudson’s Bay Company, London, March 1, 1829. Continued and Completed March 24 and June 5, 1829 (Publication date: 1947):

Author: Sir George Simpson

Editor: E.E. Rich

Introduction: W. Stewart Wallace

The document printed here is the original manuscript of Simpson’s first dispatch of 1829, in Simpson’s own writing. He wrote it in three parts, dated March 1, March 24, and June 5, 1829. All three parts are printed, and form the governor’s own account of his second journey of inspection from Hudson Bay to the Pacific, which began at York Factory after a meeting of the Council of the Northern Department in July 1828. Supplementary documents include materials on the China trade and the American boundary issue.

Hudson’s Bay Company Series XI – Copy-book of Letters Outward &c. Begins 29th May, 1680, Ends 5 July, 1687 (Publication date: 1948):

Editors: E.E. Rich, assisted by A.M. Johnson

Introduction: E.G.R. Taylor

The “letters outward” were the counterparts to the Minutes of the Committee in the administrative system of the HBC, carrying into effect decisions reached by the Committee. They also fill in much detail otherwise excluded by the brevity of the Minutes. This volume covers the same years as the Minutes published in two volumes for 1679 to 1684. The date span of letters in the subtitle is not precise. Some letters are as early as 1679 and other documents run as late as 1694. Appendixes include descriptions of Hudson’s Bay posts and biographical sketches.

Hudson’s Bay Company Series XII – James Isham’s Observations on Hudsons Bay, 1743, and Notes and Observations on a Book Entitled A Voyage to Hudsons Bay in the Dobbs Galley, 1749 (Publication date: 1949):

Author: James Isham

Editors: E.E. Rich, assisted by A.M. Johnson

Isham arrived at York Fort on Hudson Bay at sixteen, in 1732, employed by the company as a “writer.” He learned account-keeping and became an adept factor, as well as a highly regarded natural historian. His Observations on Hudson’s Bay was one of several manuscripts that returned to England with him when he was recalled temporarily from Churchill in 1745 on account of poor health. He submitted the manuscripts to the HBC’s Governor and Committee, who appear to have ignored them. Isham’s observations were only finally published in this volume. In 1748 Isham was again recalled to London, this time to comment on a book by Henry Ellis on a Northwest Passage search by a 1746-47 expedition that also had designs on challenging the HBC’s monopoly. Ellis’s narrative was unflattering to Isham. “Notes and Observations on a Book” was Isham’s response, provided to the Governor and Committee. Appendices include Isham’s 1746-47 journal, a description of native groups from Andrew Graham’s Observations on Hudson’s Bay (1775), and biographical sketches.