Making ‘The Best of the Way’* Home

As previous entries in this series of pages have shown, the ocean arc of the HBC was not a simple context for human activity. Its geographical breadth ensured variety. Clearly, the work demanded of sailors changed according to their location along its extent. By examining the voyage to London for what it was in terms of a spatially delineated, seasonally variable route, this page illustrates that the working conditions sailors faced in the successively encountered locales that their workplaces traversed also underwent seasonal changes. A ship bound homeward on an HBC return voyage did not merely repeat, in reverse order, a passage already sailed.

Timing was of critical importance to home voyages. As was the case for the Nonsuch of 1668, the first HBC ships to voyage to Hudson Bay overwintered out of necessity.[2] On early voyages, the range of tasks to be accomplished bayside precluded setting out on the return before the onset of autumn ice formation. By 1672, to assure that fur-laden ships returned to England as quickly as possible – thereby lessening the expense of both chartering a ship and hiring seamen – the HBC had begun stationing coastal vessels in the Bay.[3] By 1680, there was a depot at Charlton Island. Coastal vessels – including barques, frigates, and schooners as well as sloops – linked bayside posts to each other and to arriving transatlantic ships.[4] This ‘shuttle service,’ originally suggested by sea-going governor Charles Bayly, meant transoceanic ships could off- and on-load cargos in approximately two weeks, leaving to the coastal service the final distribution of goods to bayside posts.[5]

For transatlantic HBC sailors, a typical stay at a bayside port began, on arriving off the mouth of a river, with the firing of guns in a prearranged code that signalled the beginning of ship time – a period of intense activity both aboard ship and at the post situated further upriver.[6] If all was well, the factory gun fired an appropriate answer. Delivering the ‘packet’ – the London Committee directives and letters for the year – was usually the first order of business. Weather permitting, either Company representatives from shore would arrive alongside by a sloop, or a ship’s boat would be sent to the factory. Particularly during the early years of the trade, when ships’ captains were members of the posts’ governing councils, it was common practice for captains to go ashore and confer with the factor while a pilot from the post – often the resident schooner master – took the helm to sail the vessel to its mooring.[7]

Once moored, in weather that ranged from “fine” and “middling good,” to “strong gales and thick disagreeable,” sailors saw to securing the ship and disembarking passengers, as well as any livestock destined for the Bay – as opposed to live animals kept aboard for the captain’s table. The cargo of supplies sent outward was also unloaded into factory sloops for offloading onto a wharf, preparatory to being stored in a warehouse. Seeing to cargo and company business took precedence. Passengers, therefore, were sometimes required to wait several days before disembarking.[8] If the outward voyage had included encounters with ice that had damaged a ship below its water line, sailors emptied the entire vessel to careen it – have it “hauld on shore [sic]” and “hove down” on its side.[9] If the outward journey had been delayed – as in 1758 when the Seahorse did not arrive at Moose until 15 September – a crew could expect to be “kept working all night” at unloading and reloading.[10] Reloading involved taking on a cargo of fur bales, along with a supply of firewood and fresh water. On at least one occasion, indigenous livestock – two live moose – were also loaded for the home journey. Because furs were lightweight, sailors ballasted return ships with tons of “shingle” – rocks, boulders, and sand – from the shore.[11] Passengers for England embarked, and, once the year’s packet of letters to the London Committee was on board, vessels were free to begin a return voyage.

While the engagement in port was, of course, extended if a ship was to overwinter, it might also be prolonged in order to wait for another vessel to square away its cargo and clear space at a pier, or to wait for a consort – either necessarily because England was at war, or conveniently because circumstances allowed. In 1908, for instance, the Discovery had already completed ballasting and loading, and “was about to leave on her homeward voyage to England,” when the Stork arrived. Their respective captains, John G. Ford and Norman J. Freakley, decided to sail home in company, so while the former waited for the latter, Ford’s crew turned to “bending a winter suit of sails.”[12] While in port, the sailors had occasion to venture ashore on forays related to activities such as gathering ballast, “watering ship,” and provisioning.[13] If time allowed, their captain might grant additional time ashore. A.R. Williamson, seaman aboard the SS Discovery in 1911, recounted that when free of duty in the evenings and on a Sunday “rest day” – otherwise known as “the sailors’ ‘dhobie’ day” – the crew passed time by exploring Charlton Island and making the acquaintance of people stationed bayside.[14] Opportunities for free time while in Hudson Bay were subject to restriction, however, because captains expected sailing conditions to worsen with each passing day.

Experienced sailors appreciated as well that Hudson and James Bays, Hudson Strait, and the North Atlantic were different bodies of water in September and October than they had been in June and July due to seasonal changes in weather patterns. Ice, however, could be a factor at any time. Colder temperatures in any given year might delay the melting of summer ice, leaving “Much ice in sight” at a port on arrival.[15] Although summer sea ice usually had dissipated in Hudson Bay by August, occasionally remnants remained to as late as September.[16] Autumn ice could begin forming in James Bay in late September or early October and it was certain to obstruct the Bottom of the Bay and the estuaries of rivers in Hudson Bay by November. Although Hudson Bay did not appear ever to freeze over entirely, freeze-up near the shore was usually well under way by late November, and Churchill Harbour was generally icebound from December to May.[17]

Sailors who had left Gravesend in May and June were undoubtedly different by September as well, having worked at physically demanding tasks in close company for months on a limited diet. It is reasonable to expect that they sought a swift departure – to end this particular round of work, but as well because both the Bay area and the North Atlantic were prone to “heavy gales … in the fall.”[18] With as little delay as possible, then, HBC ships “up-anchored” from bayside berths on the West Main, from Charlton Island, and, by the mid-eighteenth century, occasionally from ports of call such as Richmond House on the East Main.[19] Sailing was always dependent on wind and tide, however. As Joseph Oman, first mate of the King George recorded in 1802, sailors had to wait on their favourable combination. Ship’s apprentice J. Williams, aboard the Stork in 1908, noted the same: after being towed out from Charlton Island by a gasoline-powered vessel, “A week passed before a favourable wind arrived.“[20]

Once under sail, ships’ crews would sound their way out of the shallowest stretches of water. Excepting those departing from the East Main, their ships then sailed a course overall east and northeast for Southampton Island and the western end of Hudson Strait. As mentioned above, Hudson Bay was reputed to be at its worst in the fall – ships “rolled and pitched” as a matter of course.[21] In some instances, sailors appear to have been remarkably adept at dealing with the eventuality of storm damage. In mid September 1718, for example, the Hudson’s Bay left Port Nelson only to run aground in a violent storm, “receiving such damage from ‘grinding against the stones’ that she made twelve inches of water in two hours.” Yet the crew returned the vessel to York, patched the hull, and set sail again “in a little over a week.”[22] Likewise in 1916, Captain George Edmund Mack of the Nascopie reported that while at Chesterfield Inlet, during a night of “one of the worst south-easterly gales I have seen” in the Bay:

the coast boat in which Edward Hall was to sail to Baker Lake to establish a post had been blown high and dry on some boulders. To Hall’s credit he got her off and repaired and sailed her the two hundred miles up to Baker Lake and established a post that fall.[23]

Ships leaving from Charlton Island perhaps had the worst of it, faced as they were with approximately eight hundred miles of what Mack characterized as “a beast of a sea … breaking like a veritable hell hole”[24] For his part, Williams recalled of his voyage:

as is usual in this part of the country at this time of year, the wind veered suddenly and in a few hours a howling wind was raging from the northwest … accompanied by snow that made it impossible to carry much sail. During three days of tacking against this she made only a few miles, and finally heavy fogwas encountered and low temperatures which indicated that ice was not far distant.[25]

Snow showers, common on homeward voyages, could last for days at a time. Alternately, snow could be interspersed with hail or rain. Captain William Coats warned that after mid September, “hard frosts” might prevent the working of the ships, because, once wet, “blocks are locks, and ropes are bolts, and sails can neither be taken in nor left out.”[26] In October 1714 David Vaughan, master of the sloop Eastmain, had been forced to cast that vessel away – fortunately “without loss of life” – after it became “so coated with ice during a heavy storm that it was feared she would sink from the weight of it.”[27]

To compound difficulties, approaching Hudson Strait meant the loss of reliable compass readings. Frederick Remington, who worked his way to London in the “fo’c’stle” of the Prince Rupert in 1888, recalled that near the western entrance to the Strait the compass needle pointed “continually in one direction, and that direction not the magnetic north no matter which way the ship turned.” [28]

Approaching the strait might mean renewed encounters with sea ice that, having drifted down from Foxe Channel over the summer, had caught up in the channels between the islands and “as far as the eye could see.”[29] According to Williams, the Stork tacked “back and forth across the Bay to locate any opening through the ice.”[30] In 1890, the Prince Rupert, which had departed from Churchill for London in October, also ran into ice off Mansel Island – literally. Captain William Barfield reported that on collision, the ship sprang a leak, “and all hands were called to the pumps. The temperature was falling steadily, and for many hours the men continued to pump, unable to get enough time to feed.” [31] When the ice forming on the deck reached a thickness of two feet, the ship made instead for Charlton to winter. Barfield was not the only captain to decide to turn back and winter in the Bottom of the Bay rather than risk freezing into the ice in north-eastern Hudson Bay. If ice in the Bay was too heavy, Hudson Strait, though reputedly “never frozen over,” was not, therefore, always navigable.[32] In 1911, the problem was not ice, but blinding snow that made determining a course into the strait hazardous.[33]

If sailors were unlucky, the ice at the western entrance would prove impregnable, or contending with the weather would prove too difficult, and they would fail to complete a homeward crossing of the Bay. If sailors were lucky, they might accomplish the crossing relatively swiftly. In 1751, for example, the Seahorse sailed from Moose to Mansel Island in just under a week. If luck held, HBC sailors would find open ice, and there would be sun “bright and warm and a fair wind” tospeed them into and through Hudson Strait. [34]

Within Hudson Strait in late summer and early autumn, HBC sailors were prepared to meet “a confused sea” in conditions that included “stiff” and “strong gales,” with “cloudy” weather, “thick” with rain, snow, and fog in all its varieties, for days at a time.[35] Every voyage was different, however. A crew might be “much troubled with contrary winds, so that we lay beating from side to side about nine days in the Straits”; encounter only light winds; or be becalmed.[36] Typically, the passage from the western to the eastern entrance took ships from one to two weeks to complete. In 1806, however, Captain John Turner of the King George recorded a passage from Cary Swan’s Nest and Mansel Islands to the Button Islands of three days.[37]

The flow of ice from Foxe Basin meant Hudson Strait was “practically never clear.”[38] Nevertheless, after travelling the strait at various times of year between 1897 and 1907, Albert Peter Low believed that “ordinary” vessels were in no real danger, because “In the midsummer months it gets warm and more easily broken. The cementing material is practically gone from it. You can just run into it and it breaks to pieces, and you see four times as much as you did before.”[39] Along with small ice, HBC ships’ crews were also likely to find “Icebergs of all sizes and shapes.”[40] William Wales observed that on the home journey of 1768 “we did not see twenty islands the whole time, and these none of them very large.”[41] Yet, according to ship’s surgeon John Birbeck Nevins, on the way out of the Strait in 1843 the ship encountered large islands. Nevins reported:

It is exceedingly dangerous to be very near one in the autumn; for, when they have had the heat and washing of the summer seas, they become worn away, and at length break into two or more pieces, which roll over time after time, until at length they are settled. If the ice-berg has been deep, its bottom striking the bottom or side of the ship as it rolled over, would be likely to damage it materially, even if it did not burst it or upset it. I never saw a large iceberg fall in two, but I have seen many small ones; and several large ones which were so far split, that the first heavy wave must have broken them in pieces. One of the most surprising things about them is their hardness. We were sailing slowly past a very large one, which came down to the water’s edge, almost like a wall, and from which we were distant about two hundred yards. The captain desired that one of the guns should be loaded with a ball weighing twelve pounds, and when fired the ball struck it fairly, made a little dint in it, and fell off into the water.[42]

Landmarks along the south shore that had been cited in ship’s logs on the outward journey were noted again on the home journey – in a variety of spellings – including: “Carry Swans Nefs” [sic: Ness, a contraction from Nest]; Mansel/Mansfield Island; “Digs” [the Digges Island Group] ; Cape “Walingham”/“Wolsinghom”/Wolstenholme; and the “Is of Chas” [Charles Island].[43]

Rather than retracing the outward path to the Bay and crossing to the north shore at Charles Island, homeward HBC ships normally stayed a course along the south shore. Logs for this part of the passage therefore recorded additional landmarks such as “False Charles” a promontory, further along that “in very hazy wether [sic],” was sometimes “taken to be Cape Charles … from its likeness.”[44] The shorelines of the strait visually fell away from a ship after this point, so that the next distinct landform sighted was the island of Amocomancka/Amocomanko – called Akpatok by the 1800s – in the mouth of Ungava Bay, “a great bay” that was “of 50 leagues from east to west.”[45] There were two other islands, jointly designated the Green Islands, that transatlantic sailors knew to lie within Ungava Bay. They did not normally see these, however – just as, after 1829, many HBC sailors knew of a port at Fort Chimo/ Kuujjuaq only by hearsay, because their transatlantic ships did not visit locations within Ungava Bay.

Commonly, before 1884, it was from the Buttons Island group off Cape Chidley, at the eastern entrance to Ungava Bay that longitude for the ocean crossing was set. Along with the islands, the strong rippling of converging currents and tide marked the passage out of the eastern end of Hudson Strait. Although it was frequently more experienced than seen, this overflow served to signal the transition to the Labrador Sea portion of the Atlantic Ocean, whether or not landmarks were visible.[46]

Homeward ocean crossings generally took from about from four to six weeks or about half the time required for the outward voyages. HBC ship captains had two basic options for charting their return. The first was to sail for Orkney and retrace the north about route.[47] The second was to head south and east from Resolution for the Scilly Islands off Lands End, Cornwall, at the western end of the English Channel – the west about route.

Between 1508 and 1920, warfare seems to have determined captains’ choices more than any natural conditions in the North Atlantic. Once across the Labrador Sea, ice was no longer a concern, but on either course, weather might include sleet and squalls, snow and rain. Sailors invariably encountered heavy seas at some point on the homeward journey regardless of route.

Traversing the Labrador Sea and ‘Stormy Forties’ below Cape Farewell could prove a difficult introduction to the Atlantic, as Remington reported in 1888:

For twenty-one consecutive days an intermittent gale raged and roared from the southeast. This was a dead head wind. Light loaded as we were, we tacked backwards and forwards over towards Greenland and back, drifting northwards towards Davis Straits. The seas were mountainous, the sky a dull dirty grey, and the nights inky black.[48]

Whatever troubles a crew had experienced previously on their voyage, passing into the open ocean might well lead the less experienced among passengers and crew to remark, as Remington did, that “Then our troubles began.”[49] Certainly, notations in HBC logbooks indicate that the North Atlantic in the autumn months lived up to the designation ‘high seas’ in more than the ordinary sense. John Morley, mate of the Seahorse in 1758, for example, commented on meeting a “great swell” from “ESE” that left the ship “rowling much in ye trough of ye Sea [sic].”[50]

The comment is notable because, while detailed references to wind and weather abound, normally keepers of HBC logs made few mentions of wave action on the Atlantic. When they did so, particularly on the earlier HBC voyages homeward, it was often because great seas made figuring a longitudinal position difficult. Depending on direction, wave action might hinder or speed a ship along its course at a rate that left HBC mariners guessing.[51]

HBC captains appear to have chosen a homeward course via the Orkney Islands only when necessary and for specific reasons. Between 1740 and 1890, one reason was to drop off returning servants who had engaged there. The other reason was to conform to a Company directive that was standard in its sailing orders during wartime or in times when the outbreak of war was rumoured. In the latter case, the directive would instruct the captain to put into Stromness on his return to gather information on “the state of things.”[52] If war had already broken out, the directive would order HBC ships to seek a naval escort on approaching England, and, if one was not encountered at sea, the ships were to wait in Cairstone Roads, along with other merchant vessels, to join with a convoy.[53]

Given that it was difficult to know by reckoning exactly where a ship lay with respect to its intended destination, a ship’s complement kept watch for any sign that an approach to land might be immanent. Mates entered sightings of sails into the ship’s logs – an increase in the frequency was an indication of a port coming into range. Based on calculations of the course sailed, lookouts would scan the horizon for expected landmarks such as the Stack, Barra, and Rona Islands.

Once abreast of Hoy, arrival followed a standard routine: a local pilot would take the vessel to Stromness where Orkney-bound passengers and discharged seamen disembarked. In wartime, the ship and remaining crew then waited for word about when a naval vessel might escort a convoy to the London River. The wait was variable – sometimes a message to prepare to depart arrived in a matter of hours, sometimes it was several weeks before a convoy was organized. [54]

From Stromness, convoyed ships sailed to Yarmouth Roads to secure a pilot for passage through the London River’s estuary. The same landmarks noted on the outward voyage marked the return passage through the North Sea. Nevertheless, as had been the case in Hudson Bay and on the North Atlantic, conditions had changed by the time of the home voyage. One of the most obvious indications of change was that the sailors were contending with snowfall as often as they had dealt with fog and rain while sailing outward. If winds were “foul,” ships could be as easily lost on the shoals that marked this “most dangerous coast” as they might be in Hudson Bay or Strait.[55]

The passage from Stromness through the North Sea to the Nore Light in the estuary of the London River would take no more than a week if there were no delays at Yarmouth. At the Nore, the route sailed on this ‘north about’ passage converged with that followed on a ‘west about’ passage.[56]

In the early years of HBC voyaging, the Scilly route homeward displayed disadvantages, and proved to be as dangerous homeward as outward.[57] One disadvantage – from a Company perspective – was the number of ports along the route into which ships might put without the London Committee’s knowledge.

In 1673, for example, the Nonsuch ketch and the Messenger dogger returned from wintering in Hudson Bay during wartime.[58] Captains Zachary Gillam in the former and Robert Morris in the latter had sailed from Resolution to the west coast of Ireland then on to Portsmouth in the Channel where, they later told the London Committee, they put in for safety. The ships next entered Plymouth harbour, ostensibly for the same reason. The Committee discovered, however, that the two captains had engaged in trade on their own behalf.

Though a small amount of private trade was common practice among sailors of England’s merchant marine, the London Committee considered it an illicit activity.[59] Subsequently, on the strength of the HBC charter, Company members and servants were required to swear an oath to forgo all such trade.[60] As an extra measure to ensure servant compliance, the London Committee created the position of waiter to search ships for contraband when in port.[61] Waiter effectiveness, however, depended on knowing when and where a ship put into port, which was easier to ascertain on the north about route, where Stromness was the only first port of call an HBC ship was likely to make.

One danger of the west about route was that the Scilly Islands were a notorious haunt of privateers. In 1696, Captain William Allen, returning in HMS Bonaventure, from the “successful, though temporary,” recapturing of York Fort, died off the Scillies in a sea battle with a privateer out of France. The HBC captains in convoy, Michael Grimington Senior of the Dering and Nicholas Smithsend of the Hudson’s Bay, managed to escape.[62]

The foregoing problems notwithstanding, by 1723 the London Committee’s orders and instructions to captains in times of peace either included such directives as “You are also to come West about home, & so up ye Channel,” or left the determination of the route homeward to the discretion of its captains.[63] In some respects, heading “straight across the Atlantic to Land’s End and up the English Channel and Thames to London” was less complicated than going north about and afforded a “comparatively quick passage to England.”[64] The waters north of Scotland, reputed to be more dangerous by November, could be avoided and extra time would not be spent waiting to secure and drop off pilots or to compete for access to dockside facilities in the crowded close of Stromness. In good sailing conditions, with a fair wind and a minimum amount of tacking, a ship travelling at a rate that reached as high as nine knots could accomplish the passage from the Chidleys to the Scillies in about two weeks.[65]

Contrary to popular assumptions about the prevailing winds of the North Atlantic, at no time of year was there any guarantee that HBC ships would find winds blowing across the surface of the ocean to be fair and from the west. As Captain Coats observed, the wind was “a fickle lady that no well-bred seaman will trust to.”[66] William Wales recorded in his journal “very rough, and contrary winds” in 1769, with which the crew were “troubled almost all the way.”[67] HBC ship logs also show variability in wind direction. While North West winds were common in Hudson Bay and associated waters, there were winds “around the compass” reported in those waters, the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, and the Channel.[68]

Even if a fair wind blew across the Atlantic, it did not ensure good visibility – a problem when approaching the “violent” tides and rocky shores of Britain.[69] In 1888 for example, Remington reported having been at sea for some forty days, without a clear indication of longitude. Sailing “at a sharp gait,” the crew apparently knew their destination was in the offing – Remington recounted that they were “cheerful and congratulating themselves that, as they expressed it, their lady friends in London now had a line on the ship and were hauling them fast to port.” It came as some surprise, nevertheless, that a lifting of the fog revealed “straight ahead and almost on top of us … a lighthouse sitting on top of a huge cliff of rock that rose straight out of the water.” The ship was successfully brought about, but Remington averred, “not before you could have chucked the proverbial ship’s biscuit ashore from after the rail.”[70]

Voyages via Scilly also faced the possibility of delay due to encountering headwinds in the narrow expanse of the Channel. If, as was the case in 1843, a captain found there was nothing to be gained by “beating back and forth,” he might take a pilot on board to enter the nearest harbour and wait.[71]

From the latter years of the nineteenth century, a captain presented with poor weather, or a congested shipping lane, had the option of securing the services of a steam tug and having his ship towed.[72] Progress from “the Start of Land,” along the Channel to as far as Dover and the South Foreland of Kent, was marked in HBC ships’ logs according to “the looming of the Land,” with bearings taken from locations such as Lizard Point on Cape Cornwall, the Bill of Portland off Weymouth, and Peverell Point near Swanage. If a ship made the passage over a twenty-four hour stretch, landward locations were visible at night by virtue of lighthouses such as the Runnel Stone, the Eddystone, and the Dungeness Light. From Dover HBC ships would run for the Downs in which they anchored to pick up a pilot to navigate the estuary and the remainder of the journey.[73]

If the estuary presented no problems, an HBC ship might reach Gravesend within twenty-four hours of arriving at the Nore Light from either Yarmouth on a north about route, or the Downs on the west about.[74] Entry into the London River, however, could be delayed.[75] In addition to weather, ebb tide, and heavy sea-going traffic, during wartime naval vessels might stop entire convoys to search for impressible crew.[76] Occasionally ships faced quarantine. On 16 November 1806, for example, John Davison, a mate aboard the King George, recorded that the vessel was detained after a “a Boat on the Bill of Health Station came alongside and Asksed [sic] us not to go above Hob Haven. But anchor there.” At Old Haven “as pr order to Ride Quarantine,” the crew “hoisted the yellow flag,” in company with ship’s consort the Prince of Wales.[77] The ships were kept waiting four days before being allowed to continue up river.[78]

Such a wait would not have been pleasant, partly because ‘home’ was so close, but also, regardless of work that may have gone into cleaning the ship while at port in Hudson Bay or Orkney, the crew’s quarters would have remained “cramped” and more or less “filthy,” sometimes overrun with rats and “plentiful and playful” bedbugs.[79] It is unlikely as well that the “stench of stale air” below decks would have been alleviated by fresh breezes wafting over the river.[80] The water, “an opaque pale brown fluid,” carried sewage, garbage, and, all too frequently, drowned “River Waifs” – all of which gave off “abominable stenches.”[81]

Once abreast of Gravesend, captains delivered their packets as quickly as possible to a representative of the London Committee, perhaps hiring a tilt boat or taking the long ferry to London.[82] Performing this duty sometimes had to wait, however, on the boarding of a ship by agents of the Customs House of London. Based on information provided by a captain, the customs agents prepared entries – detailing the goods and ship coming into the London docks – which they forwarded to the Customs House.[83]

At various times customs agents also served in a variety of other capacities, from acting as a special press gang on behalf of the navy, to serving as police officers and coastguard. Completing their tour of a vessel could take several hours; paperwork regarding duty owed on imported items, longer still. It was only after the duties were paid and Customs House officials issued receipts that a cargo could be lawfully unloaded.[84]

As waiting for a ship’s clearances could take any number of days, HBC sailors would not put their ship in at Gravesend, rather they would see the vessel to a mooring further up the London River, closer to the Custom House and the HBC London office. After waiting on the tide at locations such as Woolwich Reach, just up from Gravesend, ships finally “moor’d in safety” just below London Bridge at locations that changed with the port’s development over time. Those recorded in eighteenth- and early nineteenth- century HBC logs include “Wopping” [sic: Wapping] Docks, Ratcliff Cross Pier, “abreast of Hall stairs,” the “West India Dock,” or at the “So. Quay” of the London Dock.[85] Here, crew would “unbend the sails,” and, assuming the captain had duly cleared their “chests, trunks, boxes, &c.,” he would issue each crewmember a letter of credit, to be cashed at the HBC London Office. Sailors then took their leave – with, perhaps, “Good-byes all around to everybody … and a promise to meet certain choice spirits … later at one of their dance halls.” [86] Before following their paths down lanes that, according to HBC lore, were paved with the ballast of ships such as he commanded, the captain would sign off his log.[87] He might close the tables of observations with a perfunctory “End this voyage,” or add an editorial comment along the lines of Jonathan Fowler’s observation of 1753: “so ends a Dangerous voyage.” Alternately, after a voyage troubled by pestilence and death, decks awash in great gales, and mutinous uprisings against naval impressment – such as occurred on the Seahorse in 1757 – a captain might conclude with relief, as William Norton did: “se End our Voyage Thanks be to God: Aman: Aman [sic, punctuation in source].”[88]

As notations in HBC ships’ logs such as Captain Norton’s reveal, there was a greater range of activity aboard HBC ships than is implied when sea voyages, reduced and abstracted, are conceived as connecting vectors between distant landward points. Geographically and economically speaking, HBC voyages may be reduced to a linear description of communication as linkage: arrival at a port in Hudson Bay completed the linkage; communication was commercially successful on arriving home.[89] Culturally speaking, the voyage as link formulation highlights differences between ports at widely separated locations equally well: as a homeport, London was distinguished by sights, smells, and norms that were distinctly a ‘world away’ from those of Hudson Bay. This and foregoing pages demonstrate, however, that materially and socially speaking, the voyage was a richer experience than abstract conceptions imply. Variety marked HBC voyaging. Sailors who traversed the ocean arc in HBC ships spent an extended length of time observing seascape, marking landscape, and encountering nature during their production of value added. The production took place in an oceanic space marked by distinct features across its breath. That distinctiveness ensured that there was nothing simple about HBC sailors’ activity and experience as agents of communication between shores.

[*] * HBCA, C.7/175, “Sailing Orders and Instructions,” (2 copies) n.d., the phrasing and typesetting suggest these copies were issued some time after the mid-eighteenth century; see also, extract, in “By Ship of Sail to Hudson Bay, 1723,” The Beaver 3, no. 10 (July 1923): 381, and sailing orders to Captain George Spurrell, dated 17 May 1723, instructing he “make ye best of your waye to England” and “So soon as you shall receive your dispatches to depart, you’re to make ye best of your waye to London, but in case you should be forced into any part of Great Britain, or Ireland, by extremity of weather, in such Case you are to send us a Letter by ye Post, with a Short account of your Cargoe, and ye success of your Voyage, & upon your Arrival with us, to deliver in your own journal, as also your Chief, and Second Mates [sic.].” William Barr, “The Eighteenth Century Trade between Ships of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Hudson Strait Inuit,” Arctic 47, no. 3 (September 1944): 235, supplies a similar quote, but states 18 May 1738 was the first year for which sailing orders survive.

[2] See Appendix A, this thesis, Wivenhoe, and Prince Rupert [I], 1670; Prince Rupert [I], Messenger (alias Shaftesbury pink), and Imploy (Employ), 1672; Prince Rupert [I], and Shaftesbury (alias Messenger dogger), 1674.

[3] See John Alwin, “Mode, Pattern and Pulse: Hudson’s Bay Company Transport, 16701821,”

Ph.D. diss. (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba, 1978), 48; Michael F. Dove, “Voyages to Rupert’s Land: The Hudson’s Bay Company’s Maritime Component, 16701770,” in Selected Papers of Rupert’s Land Colloquium 2002, compiled by David G. Malaher (Winnipeg: Centre for Rupert’s Land Studies, University of Winnipeg, 2002), 23. Arthur S. Morton, A History of the Canadian West to 1870–71, Being a History of Rupert’s Land (The Hudson’s Bay Company Territory) and of the North-West Territory (Including the Pacific Slope (London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1939), 73, also 7677, observes, “The Committee chafed at having their capital locked up and at paying interest on it” for voyages that, by 1673 had proven to last as long as two years. Ian K. Steele, The English Atlantic 1675–1740: An Exploration of Communication and Community (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 89, notes that in 1713, James Knight, at Albany, calculated that wintering “was three thousand Pounds out of ye Compies Way one with another, by hireing a Ship to come hither, and so many Mens Victuals & Wages as they must pay [sic].”


[4] See for examples, Appendix A, this thesis, which indicates that the first coastal vessel was a shallop constructed bayside in 1670; in 1672 the Imploy barque arrived for local service; in 1678 the Prince Rupert [I], a twelve gun ‘full-rigged’ frigate; in 1680 the yacht Colleton, and the sloop Hayes; in 1682 the Albemarle frigate, the Craven pink, and a ‘Greenland shallop’ arrived, while a barque was built bayside for service at Chichichaun/Albany River. E.E., Rich, ed., with A.M. Johnson, Copy-book of letters outward &c: begins 29th May, 1680, ends 5 July, 1687 (Toronto: Champlain Society, 1948), 9, 44, notes that in 1680 Governor Nixon was sent planks from England to make repairs and build additional small vessels, the Committee commenting: “it being of great moment that wee have Small Craft enough to attend our several Factories and to run from place to place,” and that “Wee put a great value upon our Small Vessells in the Country, And therefore Expect your more than Ordinary care for their preservation [sic].” See also C. Harding, “Bucking the Ice-Floes in Late Summer Trip From York to Severn: Adventurous Voyage of the ‘York Fort’ on Hudson Bay,” The Beaver 1, no. 1 (October 1920): 1617.

[5] Morton, History of the Canadian West, 80; Alwin, “Mode, Pattern and Pulse,” 40. See also J. Williams, “Last Voyage of the Stork,” 45; HBCA, C.4/1, Book of Ships’ Movements, 17191929; and, for example, C.1/411, Ship’s Log, King George, 1802, 27 August10 September; C.1/414, Ship’s Log, King George, 1803, 15 August4 September; C.1/415, Ship’s Logs, King George, 1804, 6 August28 August; C.1/417, Ship’s Logs, King George, 1806, 10 August17 August, 19 August30 August, after the initial arrival at Churchill, then sailed to York from where the return voyage began; C.1/419, Ship’s Logs, King George, 1807, 5 September25 September, stayed in the vicinity of Moose; C.1/1021, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1751, 25 July2 August, ca. 4 August10 August, after the initial arrival at Albany Road, sailed for “Mouse River” [sic: Moose] from where the return voyage began; C.1/1022, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1752, 23 July12 August; C.1/1023, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1753, 28 August2 September, 4 September10 September, after the initial arrival at Albany Road, sailed to Moose River, arriving at the “outer Buoy” and anchoring in “Ship Hole,” from where the return voyage began; C.1/1026, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1756, 16 September26 September; C.1/1027, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1757, 11 August1 September, anchored at Albany, then sailed to Moose; C.1/1028, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1758, 15 September2 October vessel damaged, but repaired at Moose and sailed on return voyage; C.1/1029, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1759, ca. 26 August was at Albany road, continued to Moose, but left almost immediately. Rich, “Instructions to Governor Nixon,” 15 May 1682, Letters Outward, First Part, 40 n.36, indicates that as early as 1682 the Committee had determined on a brief stay in port – Nixon was instructed to send the vessels homeward within the time specified “weither they have ladeing or no ladeing [sic].” Note: archived pages of the HBC ship’s logs are inconsistently marked with page and folio numbers according to different systems assigned at various times in the past. As the numbers may or may not account for blank and facing pages, the systems tend become less helpful for marking references with each successive page of a log. As much as possible, therefore, footnotes in this dissertation refer to log entries by the page’s date. As the nautical day began and ended at noon, the page designated 20 September at sea might begin with an entry made at noon on 19 September.

[6] See HBCA, B.3/a/3, Albany Post Journal, Anthony Beale, “Six Dayes Remarks of of Albany Roavor beginning Sept ye 20th 1711 [sic],” 25 September; Isaac Cowie, The Company of Adventurers: A Narrative of Seven Years in the Service of the Hudson’s Bay Company during 1867–1874, On the Great Buffalo Plains with Historical and Biographical notes and comment (Toronto: William Briggs, 1913), 94, notes that in addition to the cannon being “fired at intervals during the day” to alert York Fort of the Ship’s arrival, there were also “rockets and blue lights set off after dusk, a lantern also hoisted to the mizzen peak”; Margaret Arnett MacLeod, ed., “Introduction,” The Letters of Letitia Hargrave (Toronto : Champlain Society, 1947), xxxvii, lviii, lix, lx, see also 58; Richard I. Ruggles, “The West of Canada in 1763: Imagination and Reality,” Canadian Geographer 15, no. 4 (1971): 25253.

[7] See HBCA, B.3/a/3, Albany Post Journal, 1711–1712, 26 September; C.1/1021, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1751, 26 July; C.1023, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1753, 28 August; C.1/1029, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1759, 26 August; C.1/411, Ship’s Log, King George, 1802, 28 August; C.414 Ship’s Log, King George, 1803, 15 August; C.1/417, King George, 1807, 19 August; C.1/419, Ship’s Log, King George, 1807, 5 September; Edith I. Burley, Servants of the Honourable Company: Work, Discipline, and Conflict in the Hudson’s Bay Company, 17701879 (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1997), 25, 33–34, 101.

[8] Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 68; Hargrave, Letters, 42, 47, 56, reports Captain Herd had “a large stock of little pigs a goat & 2 kids” as well as chickens on board; see also HBCA, C.1/417, Ship’s Log, King George, 1806, 31 August; C.1/411, Ship’s Log, King George, 1802, 28 August–ca.10 September; C.1/1022, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1752, 23 July–11 August, notes that  two horses that had made the crossing were unloaded at Churchill; C.1/1023, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 6 September; and Franklin Remington, “York Factory to London 1888,” The Beaver 23, no. 2 (September 1943): 19. Richard Glover, “Introduction,” in Letters from Hudson Bay, 170340, ed. K.G. Davies, with A.M. Johnson (London: Hudson’s Bay Record Society, 1965), xxi, observes, “It may surprise some readers of these letters to see how many cattle were kept, notably at Albany in James Bay.” LAC, Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk Fonds, Microfilm A.27, Selkirk Papers, vol. I, John McLeod, letter, “Port York Hudsons Bay 27th Sept 1811” (Canadian Library Association Ottawa, 1950), 149, reports, “We after a Traversing tedious passage of 61 days arrived at this remote Place … Since we came to Anker here the 24th Inst we were kept on board the ship till this evening [sic]”; see also Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 101; and Robert M. Ballantyne, Hudson’s Bay, or, Every-day life in the wilds of North America during six years’ residence in the territories of the honourable Hudson’s Bay Company (Edinburgh : W. Blackwood, 1848), 18.

[9] HBCA, B.42/a/32, Fort Churchill Post Journal, 1748–49, “A Journal of the most Remarkable

Transactions and Occurrances at Prince of Wales’s Fort by Joseph Isbister Chief Factor Commencing 17 August 1748, Ending 1st August 1749 [sic]”; also B.3/a/6, Albany Post Journal, [Anthony Beale?],“Journall of a Voyage anno 1714 without a name, Albany Fort,” 27–28 [July?]; H.M.S. Cotter, “The Ship ‘Prince of Wales’: 1850, Full Rigged Ship in Hudson’s [sic] Bay; 1934, New Zealand Coal Hulk,” The Beaver 13, no. 4 (March 1934): 43, notes that in 1884, “the Prince of Wales was beset for over three weeks, and when she arrived her sides, instead of being black, were scraped white with the shearing ice.” A.R. Williamson, “Voyage of the ‘Discovery’ 1911,” part II, The Beaver 62, no. 4 (spring 1983): 21, notes that in 1911, crews also took time to practice “Lifeboat drill and mustering of gear in the boats … as required by the merchant Shipping Acts.”

[10] HBCA, C.1/1028, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1758, 15 September–2 October; see also Cotter, “Ship ‘Prince of Wales’,” 2, who notes that in 1883 the Prince of Wales left London 10 June but, due to a “notable” amount ice in Hudson Strait, did not arrive at Moose until 20 September, and that “In a hundred and fifty years the ship had arrived only twice at a later date than the twentieth of September.”

[11] Williamson, “Voyage of the ‘Discovery’,” part II, 24. See also Dove, “Voyage to Rupert’s Land,” 22–23.  See R. Glover, “Moses Norton (ca. late 1720s–1773),” Arctic 35, no. 3 (September 1982): 440, on the moose; Hargrave, Letters, 79, 169, mentions “2 young buffaloes” at York destined for an ocean voyage.

[12] Williams, “Last Voyage of the Stork,” 45. Williamson, “Voyage of the ‘Discovery’,” 24. See also HBCA, C.1/414, Ship’s Logs, King George, 1803, which waited for the Ceres; C.1/419, Ship’s Log, King George, 1807, waited for the Eddystone while anchored off Moose; and Remington, “York Factory to London,” 19.

[13] Williamson, “Voyage of the ‘Discovery’,” part II, 23. Alwin, “Mode, Pattern and Pulse,” 70, notes “critical turn-around time was often delayed by the need to provide the London-bound ship with dunnage” – usually of split poplar that was stowed among and beneath cargo to prevent shifting and water damage. He notes as well that although “there was an effort” to have the tons of ballast required “ready before the ship’s arrival, this was not always possible.”

[14] Williamson, “Voyage of the ‘Discovery’,” part II, 22. See Peter Kemp, ed., “Up Funnel, Down Screw,” The Oxford Companion to Ships & the Sea (New York: Oxford University Press), 902. As noted elsewhere in this dissertation, to 1920, HBC steamers were not faster than HBC sailing ships. The steamers carried and used sail as much as possible, and the removal of bulwarks to supply cargo space left them too weak to handle vibrations from engines running at any more than half speed. Thus, free time ashore was not determined by technology. J. Ledingham, “Sealing from S.S. Nascopie,” The Beaver 5, no. 2 (March 1925): 74. Ledingham was chief engineer before and after the ship was sold as a sealing vessel out of St. John’s Newfoundland. He notes of Newfoundland sealers that they were “very strict in their observance of Sundays at Sea; I have seen a ship stopped at midnight Saturday and not started again till midnight Sunday.” See also Richard Henry Dana, Two Years Before the Mast: A Personal Narrative (1840; new edition, Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1868), 15, also 17, on Sunday rest days and American crews.

[15] HBCA, C.1/415, Ship’s Log, King George, 1804, 19 August.

[16] See, “Pseudo-iceberg from Foxe Basin near Churchill in mid-April,” photograph, in A.D. Bajkov, “The Ice Conditions of Hudson Bay,” The Beaver (March 1941): 17.

[17] Steele, English Atlantic, 88, observes, “winter ice was usually gone by the beginning of July,” but allows that “rafted ice,” wind driven remnants that gathered against shorelines “sometimes as high as 30 feet,” could remain “for another month.” See also John Hudspeth, “Journal During Summer in Hudson’s [sic] Bay And of the Voyage home to England,” Journals of John Maule Hudspeth: Hudson’s Bay and the Voyage home to England, 1816, University of Tasmania Library Special and Rare Materials Collection, Australia (unpublished), 7.RS1900/D33 < rs_2_2%287%29_John_ Hudspeth_Journal_1816.pdf> (accessed 7 October 2008), 24–28, 1 September–14 September, for a description of conditions in 1816. Bajkov, “The Ice Conditions of Hudson Bay,” 16–19, states “In the worst winters, the large fields of ice are formed south of Churchill, where they probably extend some fifty miles to the northeast of York Factory. James Bay, due to its shallowness and low salinity, is usually completely frozen over during the second part of each winter. North of Churchill along the western coast of the Bay, ice occurs for only a few miles from the shore. … There is usually a certain amount of floating ice in the Bay during the winter, but this … offers no obstacle to navigation during the first part of the winter at least”; A.J.W. Catchpole, D.W. Moodie, and D. Milton, “Freeze-up and Break-up of Estuaries on Hudson Bay in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries,” Canadian Geographer 20, no. 3 (28 June 2008): 279–97, esp. 288, analyze data from post journals kept at Moose Factory, Fort Albany, York Factory, Churchill Factory, and Fort Prince of Wales. They note, “Although the journals often provide a plethora of historical description of ice and water conditions, they do not contain dates of freezing and breaking in any direct form.” Rather, comments refer to various aspects of processes that “pertained to a partial ice coverage,” and subsequently “a complete ice cover.” The study supplies mean dates of first partial freezing at the posts – given as days after December 31 – from which it is possible to supply a rough indication as to the mean date: Churchill Factory 272 [ca. 29 September]; Fort Prince of Wales 273 [ca. 30 September]; York Factory 270 [ca. 27 September]; Fort Albany 282 [ca. 9 October]; Moose Factory 281[ca. 8 October]. Mean dates of first breaking up of ice at the posts are: Churchill Factory 168 [ca. 17 June]; Fort Prince of Wales 168 [ca. 17 June]; York Factory 139 [ca. 19 May]; Fort Albany 129 [ca. 9 May]; Moose Factory 126 [ca. 6 May]. Depending on the general weather pattern over any given year, dates could vary by as much as 26 days earlier and 31 days later.

[18] Williams, “Last Voyage of the Stork,” 45; see also HBCA, C.1/417, Ship’s Log, King George, 1806, 3 September; C.1/1021, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1751, 11–12 August. Steele, English Atlantic, 88.

[19] Remington, “York Factory to London,” 19. Glover, “Introduction,” Letters from Hudson Bay, xlii, notes the dubious status of the East Main trade by 1703.  Mariners such as Anthony Beale and Henry Kelsey continued to winter ships there and probably built houses ashore. But no East Main base had any “regularly appointed officer and … permanent complement.” It was “merely the normal wintering place of whatever ship [and crew] was attached to the fort at Albany.” K.G. Davies, ed., with A.M. Johnson. Northern Quebec and Labrador Journals and Correspondence, 1819–35 (London: Hudson’s Bay Record Society, 1963), xvii, xix–xx, note that in 1744 Thomas Mitchell and John Langland sailed two sloops along the East Main coast, entering Big River/Fort George River, Great Whale River, and Little Whale River. They succeeded in entering the ‘great salt lake,’ known locally as Winipeg [sic], and later designated by the HBC Richmond Gulf and the Gulf of Hazard for the rough water at its entrance. In 1749 Mitchell, with Captain William Coats, sailed much of the East Main to “promote a larger importation of Whalebone, Oil, Skins, Furrs and other goods and some Mines and Minerals of Worth and Value [sic].” Despite incursions into HBC territory before the Treaty of Utrecht, traders out of France and New France had no posts north of Rupert River. The HBC was alarmed at NWC activity the shores of James Bay in 1803 and responded by opening a post at Fort George River. T.H. Manning, “Explorations on the East Coast of Hudson Bay,” The Geographical Journal 109, no. 1/3 (January–March 1947): 59, 62, avers that Captain William Coats made the first recorded HBC visit to the East Main of Hudson Bay in 1749, erecting Richmond Fort on Richmond Gulf that year. The post was moved to Great Whale River in 1756, where it remained. Albert Peter Low named Port Harrison, on Cape Dufferin, in 1901. The Reveillon Frères established a post there in 1909.


[20] HBCA, C.1/411, Ship’s Log, King George, 1802, 15 September; Williams, “Last Voyage of the Stork,” 45. Wlliamson, “Voyage of the ‘Discover’,” part II, 21–22, 25, indicates HBC sail/steam vessels still had to take contrary and/or high winds into account and departures might be delayed.

[21] Remington, “York Factory to London,” 19. See also, HBCA, C.1/419, Ship’s Log, King George, 1807, fos. 49a-49b. Steele, English Atlantic, 89.

[22] Oliver Warner, “Voyaging to York Factory,” The Beaver 37, no. 3 (winter 1957): 22.

[23] G. Edmund Mack, “Breaking the Ice for the Allies,” The Beaver 18, no. 3 (December 1938): 24. G. Edmund Mack, “H.B.S.S. Pelican Ends Historic Career: Former British Man o’ War Which Subsequently Served H.B.C. for Twenty Years in Arctic Seas Now Being Broken Up,” The Beaver 2, no. 5 (February 1922): 15, notes that in 1920, after losing two propeller blades in a collision with ice, the ship put in to Lake Harbour, where the ship’s carpenter made a wooden blade that allowed the Pelican to finish the voyage, although in St. John’s it was determined that any further repairs would exceed the ship’s value.

[24] “An Old H.B.C. Skipper (The Late Captain William Barfield),” The Beaver 4, no. 7 (April

1924): 260, gives the distance as eight hundred and twenty miles. Mack, “Breaking Ice,” 24, gives the distance as six hundred miles. See also Charles H.M. Gordon, “Sailing the Hoodoo Ship on Hudson Bay,” The Beaver (October 1923): 9–11, for a description of sailing in difficult conditions in James Bay, 1893.

[25] Williams, “Last Voyage of the Stork,” 45; see also Mack, “Breaking Ice,” 24.

[26] William Coats quoted in Steele, English Atlantic, 88. See Christopher Middleton, “Observations on the Weather, in a Voyage to Hudson’s Bay in North-America, in the Year 1730, by Mr. Christopher Middleton. Communicated by the Same,” Philosophical Transactions (16831775) 37 (1731–1732): 78, 14 September–17 September; and Christopher Middleton, “Observations made of Latitude, Variations of the Magnetic Needle, and Weather, by Capt. Christopher Middleton, in a Voyage from London to Hudson’s-Bay, Anno 1735,” Philosophical Transactions (16831775) 39 (1735–1736): 277, 13 September.

[27] K.G.Davies, ed., with A.M. Johnson, Letters from Hudson Bay 170340 (London: Hudson’s Bay Record Society, 1965), 39 n. 1, note that the London Committee ordered the sloop to sail from Albany to York, that the crew might help “to build and fortifye That Place [sic].”

[28] Remington, “York Factory to London,” 20.

[29] Ibid., 19. HBCA, C.1/411, Ship’s Log, King George, 1802, 26 September, apparently well into the Strait by this date, the ship’s log did not mention ice. Steele, English Atlantic, 89, notes the strait, “was usually open until the middle of October.” See also Mack, “Breaking Ice,” 24.

[30] Williams, “Last Voyage of the Stork,” 45.

[31] “Old H.B.C. Skipper,” 260.

[32] Joseph Robson, quoted in Charles N. Bell, “Navigation of Hudson Bay and Straits,” MHS

Transactions series 1, no. 7 (read 10 May, 1883) < hudsonnavigation.shtml> (accessed 23 March 2006); Robert Bell, quoted in Ernest J. Chambers, ed., Canada’s Fertile Northland: A Glimpse of the Enormous Resources of Part of the Unexplored Regions of the Dominion, Evidence heard before a Select Committee of the Senate of Canada during the Parliamentary Session of 19061907, and the Report based thereon (Ottawa: Government Printing Bureau, 1907), 118, testified that he had “never heard that the strait was frozen across in winter.” He argued, “There is ice there, but always more or less open water with it, at all times.” See Williams, “Last Voyage of the Stork,” 45; A.J.W. Catchpole and Marcia-Anne Faurer, “Ships’ Log-Books, Sea Ice and the Cold Summer of 1816 in Hudson Bay and Its Approaches,” Arctic 38, no. 2 (June 1985): 123, report: “the voyage of 1815 was truncated by Hudson Strait pack ice, which prevented the return of the ships Eddystone and Hadlow through Hudson Strait into the Atlantic Ocean. Faced with the prospect of overwintering in the Bay, both vessels sailed to the comparatively safe anchorage of Strutton Sound in James Bay and were to remain there, ice-bound, until 12 August of the following year.”

[33] Williamson, “Voyage of the ‘Discovery’,” 26–27; see also Mack, “Breaking Ice,” 25.

[34] Remington, “York Factory to London,” 20. See, HBCA, C.1/411, Ship’s Log, King George,

1802, 21 September; C.1/419, Ship’s Log, King George, 1807, 7 October; also C.1/1021, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1751, 10–16 August; C.1/1027, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1757.

[35] HBCA, C.1/414, Ship’s Log, King George, 1803, 20 September; C.1/1028, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1758, 19 October; C.1/417, Ship’s Log, King George, 1806, 4 September, 5 September; C.1/1027, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1757, William Norton’s log refers to sea condition more often than most, in a greater variety of terms.

[36] William Wales, “Journal of a Voyage, made by order of the Royal Society, to Churchill River, on the North-west Coast of Hudson’s Bay; of Thirteen Months Residence in that Country, and of the Voyage back to England; in the Years 1768 and 1769,” Philosophical Transactions (1683–1775) 60 (1770): 132–33; HBCA, C.1/1028, Ship’s Log, Sea Horse, 1758, 19 October.

[37] HBCA, C.1/417, Ship’s Log, King George, 1806, 5–8 September. HBCA, C.1/1028, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1758, 2–19 October. W. Gillies Ross “Distribution, Migration, and Depletion of Bowhead Whales in Hudson Bay, 1860–1915,” Arctic and Alpine Research 6, no. 1 (winter 1974): 87.

[38] “The New Route from England to Eastern Asia, and the Hudson Bay Route,” Science 10, no. 23 (8 July 1887): 15, 17.

[39] Albert P. Low, evidence, in Canada’s Fertile Northland, 112. See also LAC, item no. PA-038220, “SS Diana lifted out of the ice off Big Island, Hudson Strait, 1897,” photograph, A.P. Low; A.P. Low, “Geographical Work of the Geological Survey of Canada, 1900–1905,” The Geographical Journal 28, no. 3 (September 1906): 27779; “Expedition to Hudson Bay and Northward,” Bulletin of the American Geographical Society 37, no. 7 (1905): 40811; John A. Cormie, “The Hudson Bay Route,” Geographical Review 4, no. 1 (July 1917): 33.

[40] Remington, “York Factory to London,” 20. See also HBCA, C.1/1021, Ship’s Log, Seahorse 1751, 1730 August; C.1/417, Ships’ Logs, King George, 1806, 7 September.

[41] Wales, “Journal of a Voyage,” 13233.

[42] J. Birbeck Nevins, A narrative of two voyages to Hudson’s Bay: with traditions of the North American Indians (London: Printed for the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1847), 7–8; see also Thomas M’Keevor, A voyage to Hudson’s Bay, during the summer of 1812: containing a particular account of the icebergs and other phenomena which present themselves in those regions: also, a description of the Esquimeaux and North American Indians, their manners, customs, dress, language, &c. &c. &c. (London: Printed for Sir Richard Phillips and Co., 1819), 11, for a similar account; Hudspeth, “Journal during Summer in Hudson’s Bay,” 30–31, 18–20 September 1816, describes many Isles of Ice “of prodigious size” and “grotesque and curious forms”; H.M.S. Cotter, “Some Famous Hudson’s [sic] Bay Captains and Ships,” part I, The Beaver 1, no. 7 (April 1921): 2, recounts Captain Bishop’s telling of “the narrowest escape he ever had” aboard the Prince Rupert when an iceberg lost its equilibrium in 1872.

[43] HBCA, C.1/417, Ship’s Log, King George, 1806, 3 September, 5 September. See David L. McKeand, “The Eastern Arctic Patrol,” 14 March 1940. Empire Club of Canada, Texts since 1903. Address published in The Empire Club of Canada Speeches 1939–1940 (Toronto: Empire Club of Canada, 1940) (accessed 16 October 2007), who notes that “Cape Wolstenholme is easily distinguished from other highlands of northern Quebec” and adds HBC coastal vessels, as well as non-HBC ships, dropped anchor near Wolstenholme “in Eric Cove where Hudson took on water in 1610. The government patrol ship N. B. McLean uses the same stream every summer. It was here that Mr. Ralph Parsons, Fur Trade Commissioner of the Hudson’s Bay Company, opened the first trading post on Hudson Strait on the 13th of August, 1909, almost 240 years after the Company was incorporated and opened its first post in James Bay.”

[44] William Coats, The Geography of Hudson’s Bay: being the remarks of Captain W. Coats, in

many voyages to that locality, between the years 1727 and 1751, ed. John Barrow (London: Hakluyt Society, 1852), 16, see also13–15, which indicate early HBC transatlantic ships did not visit Lake Harbour on the North Shore of Hudson Strait. McKeand, “The Eastern Arctic Patrol,” notes that Lake Harbour was “a rendezvous for whalers and is one of the safest anchorages to be found in the Eastern Arctic.” As of 1911, there was “a Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment, Hudson’s Bay Company trading post … and an Anglican Mission” at the location.

[45] Coats, Geography, 13, 14, n.1 and n.3, observes the Green islands were known individually as

Plain Island and Grass Island, but that HBC ships “seldom go or come” near them. Manning, “Explorations,” explains that Fort Chimo was located near the mouth of the Koksoak River, in the vicinity of Kuujjuaq in northern Quebec. Davies and Johnson, Northern Quebec and Labrador Journals, xvii, xxxvii– xxxix, lix, discuss Moravian activity at Chimo from 1810–1814. They note as well that “Chimo’s situation made it a far from ordinary Company post; it was not one in a network of stations, mutually supporting each other, and in regular communication. … Approach from the sea was impossible for most of the year, and even during the short season of open water in Hudson Strait no Company sloop would ever touch at the post unless specially sent, while the ocean-going Company ships passing through the Strait each summer took great care to avoid the dangerous tidal races of Ungava Bay.”

[46] See Coats, Geography, 16; and, for example, Middleton, “Observations on the Weather … 1730,” 78, 16 September; also Middleton, “Observations made of the Latitude … 1735,” 276, 1 September, 9 September, 13 September, 18 September, who sets longitude as 0° from Moose River, from Mansfield Island, and from Diggs Island to the vicinity of Resolution Island, where he resets it to 58° 40′ from London for the ocean crossing; also HBCA C.1/421, Ships’ Logs, King George, 1809, 15 October; C.1/1021, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1751; C.1/1022, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1752; C.1/1026, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1756, 7 October.

[47] See Coats, Geography, 8. Steele, English Atlantic, 90; Dove, “Voyages to Rupert’s Land,” 7,

notes that “By mid-century, Company vessels could consistently reach Hudson Bay from London in 8 weeks and make the return journey in 4, whereas a century earlier it had taken 12 out and 6 back.” Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 97, states “A run of fourteen days from York to Land’s End was not uncommon and I have heard of it being done in ten days.” See also HBCA, C.4/1, Book of Ships’ Movements, 1719–1929; Morton, History of the Canadian West, 51, 54, notes that the Nonsuch, “Leaving Charles Fort in the warmth of June, … arrived at the Downs on 9th October,” and arrived in the Thames, “shortly thereafter.” E.E. Rich, The History of the Hudson’s Bay Company, 16701870, vol. 1 (New York, Macmillan, c. 1958), 97, notes that “The ice was clear, and the Rupert was got off … with the Albermarle in convoy, on 9 August 1681. They arrived at Falmouth early in October”; HBCA, C.1/1026, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1726, took from 7 October, from the vicinity of Resolution, to reach Cairstone Harbour, Stromness, on 30 October; C.1/1028, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1758, despite ‘wallowing,’ made Orkney on the 11 November, having left Resolution on 19 October; C.1/421, Ships’ Logs, King George, 1809, crossed from Button’s to Orkney between 2 October and 21October.

[48] Remington, “York Factory to London,” 20. See Wales, “Journal of a Voyage,” 132–33; HBCA, C.1/419, Ship’s Log, King George, 1807, 8–9 October; C.1/1021, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1751; C.1/1022, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1752; C.1/1026, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 17 October; C.1/421, Ships’ Logs, King George, 1809, 2–4 October, 10 October, 15 October; HBCA, C.1/414 , Ship’s Log, King George, 1804, 29 September; C.1/419, Ship’s Log, King George, 1807, 9–10 October, reported “strong sea from the NE”, and “Strong Head Sea.”

[49] Remington, “York Factory to London,” 20.

[50] HBCA, C.1/1028, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1758, 19 October­11 November.

[51] Coats, Geography, 11; see also HBCA C.1/415, fo. 44a, Ship’s Log, King George, 1804, ca. 16 September; HBCA, C.1/1029, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1759, 3 October. References to the sea’s volume were also included in logs in instances where vessels carrying furs ‘shipped’ a lot of water – meaning waves broke over the deck and water leaked into the hold.

[52] Steele, English Atlantic, 89. Warner, “Voyaging to York Factory,” 20.

[53] HBCA C.7, Ships’ Miscellaneous Papers. The London Committee issued instructions to captains at the beginning of voyages outlining destinations and purposes, the conditions aboard ship to be maintained, and expectations regarding such things as trading with natives, meeting with an enemy, and heading ‘home.’ Hans Rollmann with Heather Russell, transcript, “Brief Account of the Vessel Employed in the Service of the Mission on the Coast of Labrador … from the Year 1770 to the Present Time,” Periodical Accounts 21, 75–83, 120–33, E-text, Moravian, Lives and Narratives of the Labrador Missionaries, Religion, Society and Culture in Newfoundland and Labrador, The Newfoundland and Labrador Pages of Dr. Hans Rollman, Department of Religious Studies, Memorial University of Newfoundland <> (accessed 19 March 2006), describe one non-HBC vessel’s joining with HBC ships in convoy. On reaching the Orkneys in 1797, the Harmony “was mercifully preserved from capture on her passage home. Having sailed from Hopedale on the 22nd of September, she reached Stromness, in the Orkneys, on the 10th of October. Here she found the Apollo frigate, Captain Manley, destined to convoy the Hudson’s Bay ships home. Two of the latter arrived on the 11th at Stromness, but the third being still missing, and not arriving up to the 25th, the Apollo proceeded in quest of her; and, after some days, fell in with a French frigate, cruising for the Hudson’s Bay ships, which she attacked and compelled to strike. This frigate had been discovered by the HARMONY, in a moonlight night, some days previous to her arrival at Stromness, a few miles to the south; and it is to be considered as a merciful interposition of God’s providence, that she was not perceived by the enemy and captured. During the Apollo’s absence, the third ship arrived; and, on the 23rd of November, the whole convoy left Stromness, and reached the Thames in safety.”

[54] See, HBCA, C.1/414, Ship’s Log, King George, 1803, 2 October, 6 October, 9 October; C.1/419, Ship’s Log, King George, 1807, 16 October, 19 October; C.1/421, Ship’s Log, King George, 1809, 18 October, for examples of encounters with ships at sea; also C.1/411,Ship’s Log, King George, 1802, 11–13 October; Coats, Geography, 7; also HBCA, C.1/414, Ship’s Log, King George, 1803, 2–26 October, from 9–26 October the ship waited at Stromness to be escorted by the “Ciffone Frigate” [sic.: Chiffone]. It was not until 14 November that a convoy of merchantmen departed; C.1/415, Ship’s Log, King George, 1804, 24 September–22 October; C.1/416, Ship’s Log, King George, 1805, 6 October–2 November; C.1/417, Ship’s Log, King George, 1806, 20 September–7 November, waited in the harbour from 20 September to 12 October, when a gun brig came in and anchored. It was not until the 18 October that Captain Turner received notice that Captain Trollop [George Trollop Esq.] of HM Brig Electra would be the escort. Turner’s consort, the Prince of Wales arrived on the 2 November. Finally, on the 7 November they set sail in convoy; C.1/419, Ship’s Log, King George, 1807, 20October; C.1/421, Ships’ Logs, King George, 1809, 19–21 October; C.1/419, Ship’s log, King George, 1807, 20 October, waited from 20 October for arrival of Prince of Wales on 1 November. On 3 November Captain James of HMS Nile signalled that the convoy would be under his command. On 6 November they prepared to sail, but, due to hail and rain, did not depart until the 8 November; C.1/421, Ships’ Logs, King George, 1809, 21 October–14 November, on arrival Captain John Turner was informed by Captain Henry Hanwell senior, of the HBC consort Prince of Wales that they were to meet with HMS “Sloop Snake Thos. Young Esqr. Commander” at Longhope, Walls Island. The HBC ships left almost immediately and then waited at Longhope to 14 November; C.1/1028, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 11–12 November, in 1758 Seahorse was in the harbour only 24 hours.

[55] See, for example, HBCA, C.1/421, Ships’ Logs, King George, 1809, 15 November; C.1/417, Ship’s Log, King George, 1806, 7–13 November. Hudspeth, “Journal during Summer in Hudson’s Bay,” 38, 40, 24 October, 30–31 October 1816, witnessed the distress of two ships off Yarmouth that had been sailing in company, and passed the wreck of another that was lost nearby during the same storm.

[56] See, for example, HBCA, C.1/421, Ships’ Logs, King George, 1809, 15–18 November; C.1/417, Ship’s Log, King George, 1806, 7–13 November; also, C.1/419, Ships’ Logs, King George, 1807, 13 November.

[57] See Chapter Five, this thesis, 104–5; Alwin, “Mode, Pattern and Pulse,” 54.

[58] The Third Anglo-Dutch War/Derde Engels-Nederlandse Oorlog, pitted England against the

Republic of the Seven United Netherlands from 1672–1674.

[59] See Janet J. Ewald, “Crossers of the Sea: Slaves, Freedmen, and Other Migrants in the Northwestern Indian Ocean, c. 1750–1914,” The American Historical Review 105, no. 1 (February 2000): 72, who notes that across oceans, “sailors … were also traders. Exercising customary rights to cargo space, they peddled goods from one port to another.” HBCA, C.7/175, “Sailing Orders and Instructions,” (n.d.), however, directs the captain that “We strictly enjoin you, during your stay in the country, not to suffer or permit any article of trade (being the produce of out Settlements there), to be put on board our ship but what shall be mentioned in the bill of lading, and consigned to the Company, after having been carefully inspected and examined by the Officer in charge of the Factory from whence they were put on board; and you are likewise not permitted any chests, trunks, boxes, or parcels, whatever, belonging to any passengers returning home, or to any of the officers, sailors, or others or [sic: on] our said ship, to be put on board the same, until they have been inspected and examined as aforesaid. And after your departure from [blank] Factory, you are not to suffer any furs, or other articles of trade (being the produce of the Company’s settlements), to be removed from our said ship, or landed in any port or place whatever, until you shall arrive at the Port Of London, and shall have made a just and full entry of your whole cargo at the Custom-House there; and we charge you to be very particular in the making of proper entry of any packages of returned articles that may be on board your ship.”

[60] Morton, History of the Canadian West, 73. See also Peir [sic] Esprit Radisson, “To the Right honourable Sr John Somers Knight Lord Keeper of the Great Seale of England,” 22 May 1694, quoted in Grace Lee Nute, ed., “Two Documents from Radisson’s Suit Against the Company,” The Beaver 15, no. 3 (December 1935): 41, 44, who complained that furs “which your Orator [Radisson] shipped on his owne accompt and for his owne use which your Orator may very reasonably Clayme as his owne in regard the Company had noe title thereto they being the produce of the French Commoditys that were brought from france [sic] when your Orator sett out from thence in orser to setle the french Factorys there … and your Orator being the onely person that seised them therefore the same ought to belong to him [sic].” Nute notes that although the suit was settled in his favour – his salary, gratuity and stock in the Company were restored – the HBC retained ownership of the furs and the profit under dispute.

[61] Ann M. Carlos and Stephen Nicholas, “Managing the Manager: An Application of the Principal

Agent Model to the Hudson’s Bay Company,” Oxford Economic Papers, n.s., 45, no. 2 (April 1993): 251.

[62] Warner, “Voyaging to York Factory,” 20; Alwin, “Mode, Pattern and Pulse,” 54. See also George Woodley, A View of the Present State of the Scilly Islands: Exhibiting Their Vast Importance to the British Empire; the Improvements of which They are Susceptible; and a Particular Account of the Means Lately Adopted for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Inhabitants, by the Establishment and Extension of Their Fisheries (London: n.p., 1822), 9, 14–15; Patrick Pringle, Jolly Roger: The Story of the Great Age of Piracy (Courier Dover Publications, 2001), 25–26, 28, 41; Rich, History, vol.1, 237–339; Warner, “Voyage to York,” 20.

[63] “By Ship of Sail to Hudson Bay, 1723,” 381.

[64] Williams, “Last Voyage of the Stork,” 45.

[65] Alwin. “Mode, Pattern and Pulse,” 55. See HBCA, C.1/1021, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1751; C.1/1022, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1752, took just over a week to cross and arrive in the vicinity of Scilly – where the longitudinal meridian was adjusted; C.1/411, Ship’s Log, King George, 1802, 30 September–14 October, longitude was kept track of from Hoyshead, while yet the ship does do not appear to have stopped in Orkney.

[66] Coats, Geography, 10. Steele, The English Atlantic, 89, for example, assumes “westerlies in pursuit” to be a constant, but see Chapter Five, this thesis, 106 and n.40; also Robert De C. Ward, “The Prevailing Winds of the United States,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 6 (1916): 100, 101, who notes that regardless of upper atmosphere activity, “local influences of the changing seasonal pressures” over continents and oceans “greatly” modify surface patterns, so that “easterly winds are of frequent occurrence throughout the belt of our prevailing westerlies. Many persons, indeed, especially along or near our northern Atlantic coast, find it difficult to believe that out prevailing winds are really from the west” [italics in source].

[67] Wales, “Journal of a Voyage,” 132.

[68] See, for example, Middleton, “Observations on the Weather … 1730,” 78, 2–8 October; Middleton, “Observations made of the Latitude … 1735,” 278, 22–23 September, 27 September–3 October; and Hudspeth “Journal during Summer in Hudson’s Bay,” 34–35, 5–10 October 1816, for reports of persistent winds from easterly directions; and HBCA, C. 1/415, Ship’s Log, King George, 1804, 21 October.

[69] Coats, Geography, 5.

[70] Remington, “York Factory to London,” 20, adds “the realization that with any kind of luck in two days we would be in London Town gave everybody a fit of dry inebriation.”

[71] Wales, “Journal of a Voyage,” 134.

[72] Remington, “York Factory to London,” 21.

[73] See HBCA, C.1/412, Ship’s Log, King George, 1802, mate John Oman also lists Dunnose, and

Fairleigh; C.1/1021, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1751, indicates a ship might pick up a pilot in the Dover Road to take them into the Downs.

[74] See HBCA, C.1/412, Ship’s Log, King George, 1802; C.1/414, Ship’s Log, King George, 1803.

[75] See, for example, Hudspeth, “Journal during Summer in Hudson’s Bay,” 40–41, 2–4 November 1816.

[76] HBCA, C.1/415, Ship’s Log, King George, 1804, 26 November.

[77] HBCA, C.1/418, Ship’s Log, King George, 1806, 17 November, and 16 November; see also Hudspeth, “Journal during Summer in Hudson’s Bay,” 40–41, 2–4 November 1816. Phil Nelson, “Quarantine Flag,” Flags of the World (accessed 22 September 2008), notes “An English Decree dated 1799 prescribes the size of the quarantine flag as ‘six breadths of bunting’, which means six times the size of an ordinary flag. The ‘London Gazette’ from 6 April 1805 published a Decree prescribing in detail the quarantine moorage, limited by yellow buoys topped with a yellow flag. The Decree from 10 October 1806, however, prescribed an ‘eight breadths of bunting yellow and black flag’.” See David A. Koplow, Smallpox: The Fight to Eradicate a Global Scourge (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), 21, the quarantine may have been designed to deal with smallpox, the eradication of which was being promoted by 1806 in London. “Quarantine,” Ports and disease, Port Cities, London (accessed 20 September 2008), notes that the Port of London first used quarantine to “keep out plague after the Black Death hit Europe,” and that subsequently it was used “for many other diseases” – usually because a ship was “known to be carrying disease or coming from a port where an epidemic had broken out.” Jared M. Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1997), 78, reports a smallpox epidemic in Figi in 1806 that had apparently been introduced by sailors.

[78] HBCA, C.1/417, and C.1/818, Ship’s Logs, King George, 1806, the date of leaving quarantine is not clear, the mate, John Davison reports leaving on the 20th, the captain, John Turner – whose dates are not always ordered in a consistent chronological pattern – reports leaving on the 21st. C.1/419, Ship’s Log, King George, 1807, 14 November, reports that “at noon abreast the buoy of the Nore The wind at NNE moderate breeze & cloudy but fair … the Quarantine boat came alongside but allow’d the ship to pafs [sic: pass].”

[79] Richard Finnie, “Farewell Voyages: Bernier and the ‘Arctic’,” The Beaver (summer 1974): 47; HBCA, C.1/1027, p. 21, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1757, ca. 20 August.

[80] Finnie, “Farewell Voyages,” 47.

[81] Walter Thornbury, “The River Thames (continued),” chap. 38 in Old and New London, vol. 3 (1878), 300–11, British History Online (accessed 23 September 2008), quotes “A correspondent in a weekly journal” as asserting “Rarely a day passes but some poor struggling wretch goes down into those mysterious depths beneath that shining, glittering surface, never to rise again, or, if to rise, only to find a brief resting-place in one of the grim, foul little ‘dead-houses’ – scarcely less repulsive –dotted here and there among the dense population along the shores on either side of the great silent highway. Of course they are not all found, but within the London portion of the river Thames – between Chelsea and Barking, that is – there are on an average three or four of these poor waifs of humanity picked up every week.” Thornbury notes as well “the report of the Medical Officer of Health, submitted to the Corporation of London towards the close of 1874,” from which “it appears that during the month of September of that year 2,083 vessels had been inspected in the river and the docks between Vauxhall and Woolwich, 366 of which required cleansing, 93 sick sailors had been found afloat and referred to the Seamen’s Hospital at Greenwich, and of 19 samples of drinking water taken from vessels in various parts of the port for purposes of analysis, seven were found unfit for human consumption.” See also King Edward III (1357), and M. Faraday (7 July 1855), quoted in “The Great Stink,” Where Thames Smooth Waters Glide (accessed 23 September 2008), which adds “In June 1858 the smell from the River Thames was so bad journalists described it as ‘the Great Stink.’ … Benjamin Disraeli described the river as ‘a Stygian pool reeking with ineffable and unbearable horror’.”

[82] See, for example, Hudspeth, “Journal during Summer in Hudson’s Bay,” 41, 4 November 1816.

[83] HBCA, C.7/175, “Sailing Orders and Instructions,” (n.d.), directs the captain that “You are, on no account, to communicate any of the Company’s affairs, or deliver any writing or journal of your proceedings to any person whatever, except the Governor and Committee, and their Secretary,” and that “As you have entered into a bond at the Custom-House for the due delivery of the excisable goods of [blank] Factory, you are hereby required to take care that proper certificates be signed by the Officer in charge at that place, in order to allow you to make full proof thereof on your return”; see also n. 86 below.

[84] See HBCA, C.1/1021, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1751, 14 September, Captain Jonathan Fowler “anchor’d a little below Gravesend. got three Custom house officers on board att midnight got under way & turn’d up the river [sic: punctuation in source]”; G. Graham Dixon, “Notes on the Records of the Customs House, London,” The English Historical Review 34, no. 133 (January 1919): 72; “The Customs Service,” Port Cities, London < The-Customs-Service.html> (accessed 20 September 2008); also Abbott Payson Usher, “The Growth of English Shipping 1572–1922,” The quarterly Journal of Economics 42, no. 3 (May 1928): 468, on custom house records from 1628.

[85] HBCA, C. 1/1021, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1751, 14 September; C.1/1022, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1752, p. 51, “Monday Sept 21th. or October the 2th. new style”; C.1/1026, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1756, 10 November; C.1/412, fo. 60a, Ship’s Log, King George, 1802; C.1/414, Ship’s Log, King George, 1803, 26 November; 415, Ship’s Log, King George, 1804, 26 November; C.1/417, Ship’s Log, King George, 1806, 23 November; C.1/418, Ship’s Log, King George, 23 November; C.1/419, Ship’s Log, King George, 1807, 14 November, 16 November; C.1/421, Ships’ Logs, King George, 1809, 23 November; C.1/422, Ship’s Log, King George, 1809, 23 November; Williamson, “Voyage of the ‘Discovery’,” part II, 29.

[86] HBCA, C.7/175, “Sailing Orders and Instructions,” (n.d.), directs the captain “You are not to suffer any of your officers, sailors, or passengers in your ship, or any other person, to carry on shore in any part of Great Britain, or put on board any vessel, any chests, trunks, boxes, &c., whatever, until such time as you shall have reported our ship,” and stipulates further, “that you may be enabled effectually to comply with the orders and conditions aforesaid, we hereby empower you to open, search, and examine any chests, trunks, boxes, packages, or parcels whatever, belonging to any of your men or passengers homeward-bound (though they may have previously passed the inspection and examination of the Officer in charge of the Factory from which they may have been put on board); and also to search every part of your ship in or about which you may suspect that any furs or goods, the produce of the Company’s settlements, may be concealed. And if any such Furs or goods be found in any chests, trunks, or boxes &C., or anywhere in or about the ship you are to seize and take the same for the benefit of the Company, and make a return to the Committee of such things so taken and seized, and of the several persons, by name, in whose custody or power you found the same, or whom you may suspect to have concealed the same in or about the ship.” C.1/412, fo. 60a, Ship’s Logs, King George, 1802. Remington, “York Factory to London,” 21.

[87] See MacLeod, “Introduction,” Letters, xxix.

[88] HBCA, C.1/419, Ship’s Logs, King George, 1807; C.1/421, Ships’ Logs, King George, 1809;

C.1/412, Ship’s Logs, King George, 1802; C.1/414, Ship’s Logs, King George, 1803; C.1/1029, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1759.

[89] Alwin, “Mode, Pattern and Pulse,” 4.


  1. I have a question: In 1730 how did brigantines offload cargo and passengers? Were there deepwater docks where the brigs could come alongside or did they have to anchor out in the bay and if so, how did they get stuff off the ship, mainly passengers.

    • Hi Dorothy,

      Depending on the port in Hudson Bay the ships would anchor out in the middle of river just inside the river mouth, or stay out in the bay and anchor off the river mouth (if at Churchill it could enter the ‘harbour’ which is really just the river mouth). The ships would not try to get close in to the shore because of the danger of grounding in the shallows. Instead, smaller sailing sloops would be sent from the wharf ashore out to ship to offload cargo and passengers, sometimes a york boat or a long boat might be used, but they were not as safe on open water. Ships might be towed in to shore if they had to be repaired, but they would be emptied of all cargo first.

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