Constructed Contexts: Ships as Workplaces

The discussion below considers HBC ships as contained spaces of social interaction, presenting evidence to support the argument that just as the natural environment along the Hudson’s Bay Company [HBC] ocean arc was a distinctive context for activity, so was the artificial environment aboard ship. The two were directly related. From well before the period 1508 to 1920, geographical placement and climate trends had combined to determine the features of the ocean sea traversed by HBC ships. In turn, the natural features of the HBC ocean arc determined seafaring activity across its breadth. Admittedly, this ocean voyaging was shaped by a complex combination of human ambitions, at scales ranging from the individual –– whether sailor or prince –– to merchant collectives and national polities. Ambition coupled with ignorance could be debilitating, even deadly along a route –– take the deaths of Captain Robert Newland and mate James Titherley, at Port Nelson in 1670 for example –– as could extremes of ambition expressed as warfare. Conversely, ambition coupled with experience could lead to success –– as the record of voyages completed by HBC captains compared to those lost demonstrates.[1] However, by their experience, successful mariners had gained a working appreciation of seemingly timeless natural features specific to the routes they followed. Ultimately, the disposition of currents, winds, and navigable channels largely determined the contours of the ocean arc travelled by HBC ships –– on routes that varied little for hundreds of years. Of the natural features with which sailors had to contend, one in particular distinguished voyages to Hudson Bay from merchant voyages elsewhere. HBC ships, and the nature of work and character of life aboard them, were marked by a concern with “this prodigious thing we call ice.”[2]

Seafarers to Hudson Bay embarked on an experience that was in many respects unusual. After sailing on the Prince Rupert in 1842 and 1843, surgeon John Birbeck Nevins commented, “A summer voyage to this place is not quite so easy or pleasant as an excursion up the Rhine, or down the Danube.” Among other things, he observed, “the crew must be supplied with an extra supply of winter clothing to guard against the cold.”[3] Although HBC ship’s logs do not mention attire, photographs of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century crews indicate that while in ice, sailors performed their tasks in clothes more commonly associated with peoples native to the North than with traditional representations of the quintessential ‘Jack Tar.’[4] Captain Barfield and crew of the Prince Rupert, forced to winter at Charlton Island in 1890, benefited from being equipped with tools and materials for tailoring and shoe-making, “a fair supply” of literature, and a fully stocked medicine chest –– although, before the crew secured sufficient fresh provisions, two members died of scurvy.[5]

A century earlier, Captain Coats had included, in his guide for mariners who would make the journey to the Bay, a list of necessary supplies beyond what was standard for outfitting a voyage out of London:

After your ship is well fitted with stores and provisions, according to your number of men, you must add about one fourth more than the usual allowance in other voyages, provide a stock of ice gear, viz., six ice hooks for mooring, and four or six lesser ones for warping, which will be found extremely useful; four ice ropes of thirty or forty fathom each, your buoy ropes, and four whale lines of 2½ inches, with what helps may be made beside; twelve ice poles, twelve handspikes extrodinary [sic], one dozen long-mouthed wood axes, two or three broad-mouthed chizzells fitted on poles, six boat hooks. I have made upwards of twenty voyages without a small ice-boat, yet I do not deny the use of them.[6]

Frederick Schwatka’s advice with respect to outfitting vessels for northern voyaging, proffered in 1884, indicates that the advent of fueled vessels did not alter the need to consider the special demands that ice presented. In fact, sea captains of long experience in HBC voyaging had been arguing for years that no “greater facilities would arise from the use of steamers in that sea than from the use of sailing vessels.”[7] Captain David Herd, for example, testified in 1857 to a select committee of the British parliament investigating HBC operations that while a steam ship “might succeed very well in one year … taking the average number of years, I think myself that a sailing vessel is far preferable.” He averred HBC Northern voyaging through ice was different from Arctic expeditions undertaken with steamships, arguing:

The Arctic Expeditions were carried to a certain distance; but we must get to the other side, and get back again in time before the season sets in. If we met with any accident to our machinery where could we go to get it repaired; we should lose our voyage.[8]

Schwataka’s remarks twenty-seven years later indicate that the likelihood of collision, damage, and a ship taking in water, still had to be taken into account. He counseled, for instance, “Sailer or steamer, the pipes for pumping should be much more capacious than usual, and there should be a system of them reaching to every part of the vessel; for the pumps may be needed the most when the vessel is careened on her beam, or at some unusual angle fore and aft.”[9]

The above comments on equipping alone indicate that, because of time spent in ice, a HBC transatlantic vessel was a workplace in which tasks performed by sailors departed from the North Atlantic norm for merchant vessels. Nevertheless, ships’ logs and journal entries confirm that from the beginning to the end of a voyage, HBC sailors were, like their counterparts on other merchant ships that carried sail, daily “employd [sic] about the rigging and other necessary work.”[10] Depending on their location on the HBC ocean arc and whether they were underway or at anchor in a port at either of its ends, they might be “tarring, greasing, oiling, varnishing, painting, scraping, and scrubbing … watching at night, steering, reefing, furling, bracing, making and setting sail, and pulling, hauling, and climbing in every direction,” all to “keep the ship right side up in a gale of wind with nothing but ropes and canvas.”[11] Alternately, at rest, they might be “making plait for rigging”, “making Points &c.” and “Black[ing] the ship’s Wales round,” in preparation for the next bout of buffeting by the elements.[12] Yet, for sailors on the HBC ocean arc, the range of duties increased on nearing ice. Harriet Cowan, passenger aboard the Prince Rupertin 1865, reported that, in expectation, sailors “got out fenders and long poles with spikes, and ice anchors, too, for mooring the ship to the ice when that was necessary.”[13] Conning became an all important duty. While officers might be stationed with “the captain at the bulkhead off steerage and chief mate on the forecastle,” they might also take to the “ice bridge” positioned “right across the middle of the ship” and “rigged up high so that ice could be seen farther off.” Additionally, sailors raised a crow’s nest –– “a light cask, or any similar object … for the look-out man aloft to shelter himself in,” which was “hoisted to the top of the main mast.”[14] J. Williams, apprentice on the Stork in 1908, commented:

It’s no picnic sailing a square-rigged vessel into Hudson Bay. If it was all sunrise and sunset, squalls and calm, it would be easy. But there’s fog, and there’s ice – miles of it. And, as often as not, fog and ice together. Then the fog lifts, the temperature drops, a blizzard howls down out of the northwest and frozen tackle has to be hammered continuously to keep it clear for any sudden handling of  which may be necessary.[15]

Will Murrell, second mate of the King George reported that at 2:00 pm. on 30 July 1802, while the ship was halted in ice near its consorts the Prince of Wales and Ceres, the crews transferred provisions such as bread and redistributed cargo such as “Country Tobacco” between the ships.[16] By 10:00 pm., the sailors were “traversing” the ships –– alternately pulling them along channels and through closed ice with hooks, poles, and ropes; “Rowing and towing to get into clear water” with boats; and sailing where open ice permitted.[17] The crews kept at it through the night. By 8:00 am. the next morning, after “Backing and pulling through heavy Ice,” all three ships “Brought to” and grappled to the same piece of ice, waiting, drifting for several days in ice, rain, and “hard frost,” and working about the ship until circumstances changed.[18]

For HBC sailors, the ice of the North American portion of their ocean arc was a primary determinant not only of what their work would involve, but the pacing of work routines, and the time frame of their voyages. It was not possible to enter Hudson Strait any earlier than HBC ships did so. Ships could not clear the Strait and cross the Bay any faster than ice would allow. The pacing of work during ship time in Hudson Bay reflected an overriding concern with ice formation: it was counter-productive to extend a bayside stay any longer than necessary –– foolhardy to attempt to leave any later than 20 September. Whether brought about by accident or design, any delay might spell a protracted and uncomfortable stay.[19] Company mariners of long experience, such as Captain Herd, were of the opinion that whether a HBC transatlantic vessel relied exclusively on sail technology or had auxiliary engines made but little difference –– an opinion born out by the HBC record, “Book of Ships’ Movements, 1719–1929.”[20] When asked by the select committee of 1857, “would not a steamer, being quicker, enable you to go there and back again in less time?” Herd insisted, “It would depend upon the state of the ice.”[21] Clearly, it would also depend on mariners who had practical knowledge of tools such as those listed above, and expertise in techniques for coping with ice in its various forms. For the HBC London Committee, whose concern was with meeting schedules to make a profit, such expertise was critical.[22] Far less so was technology that meant holds needed to carry cargo, labourers, and provisions be filled instead with coal.[23]

The design of the transoceanic workplace –– HBC ships –– reflected the Committee’s concern with features specific to the ocean arc. The Company had “many notable vessels built specially to their order.”[24] Though meant to withstand ice voyaging, these ships displayed accoutrements common to vessels of similarly accomplished merchant adventuring concerns, in keeping with nautical fashions of their times. Through to the nineteenth century, for example, transatlantic HBC sailing ships featured “highly decorative” figureheads such as that carried by the Prince of Wales, from 1850–1889. It was described as “a work of art, beautifully carved and represented the Prince [later King Edward VII] dressed in man-o’ war fashion.”[25] Whatever the class of a vessel, it was recognizable as part of the HBC fleet by virtue of its colouring. The drift-rails of the forecastles and poop decks, along with the bulwarks of the quarterdecks were painted “a distinguishing shade of royal blue,” and when possible, HBC sailors maintained the black paint of the hulls during voyages.[26] To the late 1800s, like other merchant vessels, HBC ships carried guns for use against privateers. The guns were small, however, nothing larger than a twelve pounder, and in practice these served principally for “incessant saluting and gun-signals,” particularly in Hudson Strait where consorts signalled position and status in fog and ice.[27] Vessels carried guns into the twentieth century –– the Pelican, in service from 1877 to 1920, and the Nascopie, from 1911 to 1947, fired them on German submarines during the Great War.[28] In addition to the usual signal flags, HBC ships also displayed the “Company’s arms –– ‘the house flag’ –– at the mainmast head,” a red ensign with white HBC initialling.[29] Although the ships served primarily as cargo carriers, the cabins that served as captains’ quarters and passengers’ berths were finished to appear “very comfortable,” with “superb teakwood planking,” polished brass fittings, and  “innumerable copper fastenings”[30] These were not, however, spacious apartments.[31] Compared to contemporary ships, such as East Indiamen of 499 to 1,200 tons burthen, HBC sailing ships were small. The earliest vessels were one- and two-masted ketches, brig/briganteen-rigged frigates, and “roomy” pinks with “rotund” hulls, ranging from about fifty to 100 tons burthen.[32] Later the Company used larger, ship-rigged frigates, three-masted barque/barquentines, and barque-rigged ex-whaling vessels with auxiliary steam engines.[33] At most, however, these carried “only a few hundred tons” to 1912 when the Company had its first fully steam-powered ship for travel to Hudson Bay built to specification –– the two-masted Nascopie.[34] At about 3,000 tons dead weight, this ship too was dwarfed by contemporary ocean-going vessels. Like preceding HBC ships, it was also relatively shallow in draught to ensure manoeuvrability and functionality. What principally set HBC vessels apart was not their comparatively diminutive dimensions, however, but the fact that, structurally, because of ice, the ships were purposely given a “massive” construction in combination with a set of “most unusual lines.”[35]

Aside from having to navigate shallow waters with numerous uncharted reefs, HBC ships had to withstand punishing blows in encounters with ice. Obviously, this meant paying particular attention to the hulls. Schwatka observed that by 1888 it had become clear that when it came to voyaging in ice, “iron ships are inferior to their weaker but more elastic wooden compeers.”[36] To the 1920s –– excepting the Nascopie, which, incidentally, sank after breaching the hull on a reef in 1947 –– the HBC relied on wooden hulled transatlantic ships.[37] These were “oak hulled, strongly beamed” with ribs as much as “a foot square at the keel and ‘tween decks, tapering to 12″ x 8″ at the main deck.”[38] Additionally, the vessels were diagonally braced with struts known as ‘ice beams,’ and might have bulkheads of three inch planks installed for “extra rigidity.”[39] These and other aspects of ship design and construction were common to the sealing and whaling industries. As on whaling ships, ice sheathing augmented the four-inch oak planking that lined the hull. The sheathing took various forms. It might be of “not caulked oak” that extended “from the keel half way to the deck,” above which there would be “2 ¾” thick greenheart … to above the water-line”; or a ship might be “close timbered with double planking of teak and greenheart,” or sheathed solely with greenheart (Nectranda Rodicei), or ironwood (Mesua Nagaha), to a thickness of three inches.[40] The sides, “double where they are most exposed,” were therefore fifteen and even twenty-four inches thick from just above the waterline down to the keel.[41] In addition, “very thick, strong caseings [sic] of wood, called ice-chocks,” rode in front of the bows. The chocks, Nevins observed, while commenting on the Prince Rupert, “add to her strength, though, it must be confessed, they diminish her beauty.”[42] Ships’ bows, which featured eight to fifteen feet of solid oak, were further protected by “massive iron plates,” as were their sterns.[43] HBC barque-rigged ships with auxiliary engines, such as the Erik, like their whaling counterparts, had rudders and propellers that could be hauled on deck in case of damage.[44]

The unusual lines of HBC ships were due to the “rounded, barrel-like bilge” that they displayed. Such “egg-shaped” hulls where also common to whalers, and when squeezed by ice, rose “like an orange pip squeezed between the fingers” and so escaped being crushed.[45] While this design allowed vessels to withstand a great deal of punishment, it did not make for a particularly stable ride. Such ships “rolled heavily” in stormy seas, creating problems not only for passengers with sensitive stomachs, but, as sailor A.R. Williamson pointed out, for all onboard, “especially for stokers trying to shovel coal into the boiler furnaces –– and for the cook struggling to keep his balance and prepare meals.”[46] And, sturdy and useful though a ship such as the Ocean Nymph might be in ascending shallow rivers such as the Hayes, it was apparently disparaged as a “flat-bottomed tub, which made about as much leeway as headway with the wind abeam,” and “wholly a roller.”[47] Likewise, the “superabundance of heavy timber put into their hulls” did nothing to increase the speed of HBC ocean-going vessels.[48] The foregoing descriptions show that ice, directly and indirectly, had an effect on the length of a voyage and could significantly extend the amount of time sailors spent in “narrow confines” with their working cohorts and other people aboard.[49]

From 1670 to 1920, the space aboard HBC transatlantic ships was principally a work place, and a crowded one at that. Given rigging, longboats, and stores, there was not a great deal of free space available.[50] Smaller vessels of 120 to 130 tons –– for example the frigate Mary [IV], and the pink Hudson’s Bay [V], built for the Company in 1737 –– reached only fifty-five feet end to end along the keel, and twenty-one feet side to side at the widest point. The depth of hold was at most nine and one half feet, while the height of the space between decks ranged from three feet nine inches to four feet. In addition to the machinery found on merchant ships sailing elsewhere, HBC vessels carried extra gear for ice voyaging, extra materials for making repairs or ensuring survival –– such as supplementary sets of sails, a supply of wood, spare coal –– and extra provisions for the same. Holds were packed with ballast, cargo, and livestock, while decks stored more, including “great quarters of fine Orkney beef [that] were drawn high up on the masts and fastened there.”[51] Private consignments of goods augmented HBC cargo outward and furs homeward. In some instances, such additional shipments were substantial. In 1708, Richard Staunton, serving as cooper and steward on the Hudson’s Bay [II], but headed to Albany for service ashore, took aboard thirty gallons of brandy, one hundredweight of sugar, and fifty-six pounds of cheese on his own account.[52] In 1846, the Prince Rupert carried consignments for thirty-nine individuals –– many of whom lived at Red River Settlement. In 1854, among other things, John Ballenden’s package included a “bulky” bathtub, “Harp, & Piano.” The next year his order included for his two daughters: nine dresses of silk, satin, wool, and cotton, and two skirts; twelve chemisettes, two petticoats, and two corsets; two capes, a mantle, and a “Lynx boa”; three bonnets and a dozen night caps; fourteen pairs of gloves, eleven pairs of boots and shoes, and two dozen pairs of stockings; two dozen handkerchiefs, “some Neck Ties of Ribbon and Velvet, a Drawing Album published every month, since last July,” and “A silver drinking cup and spoon.” For himself, Ballenden listed: two coats, two vests, and two pairs of trousers –– all “In the fashion most used”; two pairs of boots, and three each of “open front woolen slips,” drawers, and neck ties. For his household: “From the Best Fish market,” a hundred weight of salt, a “Firkin [fifty-six pounds] cured Loch Fyne herrings,” and “A small supply of Marmalade … in stout jars”; six pairs of sheets, a dozen table napkins and a dozen towels “all articles … safely secured from damp and secured properly.”[53] In and amongst bales, chests, and barrels of HBC goods, private consignments, and ships’ gear, captains and crews lived and worked.[54]

Even on the earliest voyages and smallest ships –– such as the Eaglet and the Nonsuch of only fifty-four and forty-three tons respectively in 1668 –– there could be a dozen crewmembers, exclusive of the master. The Wivenhoe of 1669, at 100 tons had a crew of twenty-five. The standard size of a HBC transatlantic ship’s complement during peacetime appears to have hovered upwards of eighteen to twenty-six hands until 1920, regardless of vessel size or type –– a generous allotment compared to other similarly small merchant vessels of the North Atlantic.[55] During wartime, a ship’s complement might increase dramatically: in 1803, for instance the King George [III] carried twenty-two officers and seamen exclusive of the captain, while in 1804 there were thirty-six.[56] The stations represented among the crew of HBC ships appear more varied than usual for vessels of similar size serving northern North American ports on the Eastern Seaboard.[57] Aside from the master and his servant, HBC sailing ships carried a first, second, and sometimes third mate. During wartime especially, there were as many as two second masters, and there might be prisoners as well.[58] At war or peace, in addition to a cook, assistant cook, steward, and boatswain with a boatswain’s mate, typically a HBC ship would have a surgeon, carpenter, and gunner with gunner’s mate. There were AB (able-bodied) and OS (ordinary) seaman as well as apprentices and ship’s boys aboard. Ships, including steam vessels, carried a sailmaker/”taylor” [sic], and often a cooper.[59] HBC steam/sail vessels also carried first and second engineers, with assistant engineers, and first, second, and sometimes third firemen.[60] One reason for the relative surplus of workers on HBC ships might have been the Company’s desire to have a continual supply of mariners well versed in ice voyaging. The system would also have ensured that a HBC captain looking to hire crew could draw on a relatively large number of seamen already familiar with working in each other’s company. By the early 1900s, according to writer and journalist Henry Major Tomlinson, the HBC had a reputation for selective hiring: Joseph Conrad, for example, confessed he was not able to secure a berth, “for the H.B.C. is … most careful and particular.”[61]

HBC ships also carried various passengers –– including labourers and artisans for bayside posts, as well as Company officers, and members of HBC servants’ families. The Prince Rupert [I], for example, though of only seventy-five tons, carried Captain Power, thirteen crew, and sixteen passengers to the Bay in 1681. The King George [III] of 1803, at over three times the capacity, carried as passengers supplementary to its official complement of twenty-two crew: two coopers, two tailors, a boatbuilder, a blacksmith, and fifteen sailors –– all of whom were due wages for the voyage. Additionally, there were  passengers aboard who received no extra wages, including a factory chief, a sloop master, boat builder, armorer, cooper, and two “inland” men, a tailor, sawyer, bricklayer, fifteen labourers, and four sailors. All told there were some sixty-two people housed about the ship. From the Company’s earliest voyages to 1920, it appears that most passengers aboard ship, as HBC servants –– whatever their landward station –– were bound by their contracts to serve as supplementary crew.[62]

That the division of labour aboard ship divided a ship’s space has been well established within maritime historiography: throughout the merchant marine, rank conferred separate workstations and living quarters.[63] HBC ships were no different.[64] Nevertheless, sailors as workers, and HBC personnel tasked as sailors, necessarily mingled with people not of their station, confined as quarters were aboard ship. Observation, contact, and social interaction –– even if limited –– was unavoidable. For example, though deck hands were not allowed freedom of the poop deck or captain’s stateroom, they were there when scrubbing the decks. Officers and crew performed many of their work activities apart, and observed regular social activities such as dining, conversation, and entertainment separately. They worked in concert, however, when challenged by the sea. There were also singular social occasions, such funerals at sea, in which everyone participated.[65] At all times, most activity aboard ship could be heard, and no doubt heard about if not directly observed, by officers, crew, and passengers alike.[66]

Depending on the mix of personalities, a variety of more or less pleasant social outcomes might ensue from bouts of close contact that lasted weeks and months over the thousands of miles traversed in even the quickest crossings performed by HBC ships. Concern with ice determined the size of ships and spaces aboard, the number of workers housed in those spaces, and the length of time during which other people were confined in the sailors’ workplace. To some extent, therefore, the presence of ice also determined the social dynamic. Yet, it was the people aboard ships who determined what their reaction to their circumstances would be. Appreciating the material context of voyages is necessary for understanding conditions aboard HBC transatlantic ships. Understanding the distinctive features of a HBC voyage also requires knowing something about the people constrained in company within that context. As additional postings to this site show, the distinctive features of the voyage, the distinctive features of the ship as a workplace, and the variety of people constrained aboard ship in each other’s company, all combined to produce a distinct social dynamic and an opportunity for individuals to reconsider, react to, and perhaps reconfigure personal and social behaviours.

[1] See Chapter Seven, N. Hall Ph.D. diss., 141, 167; and 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), 97. Harriet Cowan, quoted in W.J. Healy, Women of Red River, Being a Book Written from the Recollections of Women Surviving from the Red River Era (Winnipeg: Women’s Canadian Club, 1923), 43, recalled that Captain James of the Ocean Nymph was “a skilful navigator. He used to say, ‘I takes my ship out, and I brings my ship in’.”

[2] Luke Foxe, quoted in A.R. Williamson, “Voyage of the ‘Discovery’ 1911,” part I, The Beaver 62, no. 4 (spring 1983): 18. See also 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), 23, on the change in work on approaching ice. He advised: “Your ice gear is to be made ready, ruther chains and ruther takles reeved, lighter tacks and sheets for your sails … whatever will make your ship handy [sic].”

[3] 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), 1; see also LAC, Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk Fonds, Microfilm A.27, Selkirk Papers, vol. I, B.H. Edwards, letter, Sligo, 20 April 1812 (Canadian Library Association Ottawa, 1950), 302, who comments on the necessity of securing a vessel “well found, and amply provided with a sufficiency of Stores, and necessaries for the Voyage” including an “abundance of good and Wholesome provisions of all Kinds, suitable to the Voyage, and the Climate.”

[4] See Richard Henry Dana, Two Years Before the Mast: A Personal Narrative (1840; new edition, Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1868), 2; and Jesse Lemisch, “Jack Tar in the Streets: Merchant Seamen in the Politics of Revolutionary America,” William and Mary Quarterly 3d ser., 25, no. 3 (July 1968): 371–372, who describe sailors’ attire; also Franklin Remington, “York Factory to London, 1888,” The Beaver 23, no. 2 (September 1943): 19, who notes “Before sailing we had gone native to the extent of equipping ourselves with Eskimo boots and fur shirts, called koolitaks, as … the sea wind was cold and penetrating”; Don Blair, “Summer Voyage in Hudson Bay,” The Beaver 34, no. 2 (autumn 1954): 33; Don Blair, “On Board the Fort Hearne,” The Beaver 35, no. 2 (autumn 1955): 25, 30, for photos of pilots, stevedores and deck hands on later HBC ships in Inuit parkas; also George Comer, “First Mate Mr. Hayward and crew members in front of covered whaleboat, west coast of Hudson Bay, Canada, 1897–1899,” glass negative, Mystic Seaport, The Museum of America and the Sea type=related&kv=169203&t=objects (accessed 4 October 2008); Northwest Territories Archives, item no. N-1988-041: 0345, “Scotty Gall at Cambridge Bay,” photograph (accessed 6 December 2008), Gall was captain of the Aklavik by 1937; Natural Resources Canada, item 2906, “Crew of the Neptune at Hudson Bay,” photograph, 1903 (accessed 8 Oct. 2008); and Natural Resources Canada, item 2917, “Black squad of the Neptune, Hudson Bay,” photograph, A.P. Low, 1903 interval=6 (accessed 8 October 2008); Richard Finnie, “Trading into the North-West Passage,” photograph, The Beaver 17, no. 3 (December 1937): 48, showing crew of the Aklavik.

[5] “An Old H.B.C. Skipper (The Late Captain William Barfield),” The Beaver 4,  no. 7  (April 1924): 260. See also Jody F. Decker, “Scurvy at York: A Dread Affliction Lingered at the Bay,” The Beaver 69, no. 1 (February/March 1989): 42–48.

[6] Coats, Geography, 18; 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: Sir Richard Phillips and Co., 1819), 13 July; and Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 87.

[7] Great Britain, Parliament, House of Commons, Select Committee on the Hudson’s Bay Company, Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson’s Bay Company together with the proceedings of the committee, minutes of evidence, appendix and index (London: HMSO, 1858), 258. See also “Seeking A Shorter Route; Can Hudson Straits Be Navigated By Steamships? Efforts To Secure Better Transportation Facilities From The Northwest To Europe,” New York Times (25 May 1885): 2.

[8] David Herd, quoted in Report from the Select Committee,258. See also “S.S. Pelican,” The Beaver 9, no. 1(June 1929): 215;and J. Ledingham “Northward Bound,” The Beaver 10, no. 3 (December 1930): 113, on difficulties with propellers in ice.

[9] Frederick Schwatka, “An Arctic Vessel and Her Equipment,” Science 3, no. 64 (April 1884): 511.

[10] HBCA, C.1/413, Ship’s Log, King George 1802, 21–22 June.

[11] Dana, Two Years Before the Mast, 16–17, see also 15–18. J. Williams, “The Last Voyage of the Stork,” The Beaver 19, no. 2 (September 1939): 45.

[12] HBCA, C.1/420, Ship’s Log, King George, 1808, 27 and 31 October; C.1/413 King George, 1802, 21–22 June. See also Eric W. Sager, Seafaring Labour: The Merchant Marine of Atlantic Canada, 18201914 (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1989), 58–66, 85–86, 88–89, 91–93, 106–14, 12–34, for a description of work and the division of labour aboard ship.

[13] Cowan, quoted in Healy, Women of Red River, 190–192.

[14] Thomas McCliesh, letter, York Fort, 16 Aug. 1727, in Letters from Hudson Bay 170340, ed. K.G. Davies, with A.M. Johnson (London: Hudson’s Bay Record Society, 1965), 126. Williams, “Last Voyage of the Stork,” 45. Cowan, quoted Healy, Women of Red River, 191. W. Parker Snow, “Voyage in Search of Sir John Franklin,” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine 2, no. 11 (April 1851): 590, also 591, explains that in large ships the crow’s nest was “generally at the topmast head. In smaller vessels, however, it is necessary to have it as high up as possible, in order to give from it a greater scope of vision than could be attained lower down. Consequently, in the Prince Albert, it was close to the fore-truck, that is, completely at the mast-head. In our case, it was a long, narrow, but light cask, having at the lower part of it a trap, acting like a valve, whereby any one could enter; and was open at the upper part. In length it was about four feet, so that a person on the look-out had no part of himself exposed to the weather but his head and shoulders. In the interior of it was a small seat … and a spyglass, well secured. To reach this, a rope ladder was affixed to the bottom … called the ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ [italics in source].”

[15] Williams, “The Last Voyage of the Stork,” 44.

[16] HBCA, C.1/413, Ship’s Log, King George, 1802, 30–31 July; also C.1/411, Ship’s Log, King George, 1802, 30–31 July; C.1/417, King George, 1807, 26 July; c.1/419 20 August.

[17] HBCA, C.1/413 Ship’s Log, King George, 1802, 30–31 July, also 18 August. See, George Comer, lantern slide, item 5042, Comer Collection, Mystic Seaport (accessed 6 December 2008), showing the crew of the A.T. Gifford traversing ice in Hudson Bay, ca. 1907–1912.

[18] HBCA, C.1/413, Ship’s Log, King George, 1802, 4 August; also C.1/411, Ship’s Log, King George, 1802, 4 August; C.1/412 Ship’s Log, King George, 1802, 4 August.

[19] See Thomas McKenzie, quoted in William Wakeham, Report of the Expedition to Hudson Bay and Cumberland Gulf in the Steamship ‘Diana’ under the Command of William Wakeham, Marine and Fisheries Canada in the year 1897 (Ottawa: S.E. Dawson, Printer to the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty, 1898), 54; Coats, Geography, 18, 19; Margaret Arnett MacLeod, ed., “Introduction,” The Letters of Letitia Hargrave (Toronto: Champlain Society, 1947), lix; also John Maule Hudspeth, Journals of John Maule Hudspeth: Hudson’s Bay and the Voyage home to England, 1816, 6.RS1899/D32, and 7.RS1900/D33, University of Tasmania Library Special and Rare Materials Collection, Australia (Unpublished) UTAS ePrint (accessed 6 October 2008), for a description of overwintering 1815–1816 during which fourteen crewmembers of the Eddystone and Hadlow died, both captains also had scurvy, but with the spring health improved on eating “Dandelion, a kind of wild celery, and a wild pea which grows about Struttons [Island] in great abundance.”

[20] HBCA, C.4/1, Book of Ships’ Movements, 1719–1929.

[21] Viscount Goderich and D. Herd, quoted in Report from the Select Committee, 258. See Chapter Four, N. Hall Ph.D. diss, 77 n.8; and Chapter Five, N. Hall Ph.D. diss, 99 n.18. The reasons for the longevity of sail technology in the HBC fleet fell outside the purview of my thesis, as I did not examine the deliberations of the London Committee. See Menahem Blondheim, “Discovering ‘The Significance of Communication’: Harold Adams Innis as Social Constructivist,” Canadian Journal of Communication 29, no. 2 (2004): 123, whose remarks suggest such an examination might be interesting. One reason for HBC conservatism with respect to communication technology, for example, may have resided in its ‘monopoly of knowledge.’ Blondheim notes, “By transplanting the economic concept of monopoly to the field of communications –– to knowledge artifacts and skills –– Innis elegantly buttressed his media determinism. When certain media or their knowledge products dominate society’s communication environment, the peculiar dynamics of oligopoly amplify and perpetuate the dominance of those media and the bodies of knowledge associated with them. Such a monopoly blocks the emergence of alternatives and ultimately enhances the effects of the privileged medium and knowledge skills on society and on its political, social, and cultural profile.”

[22] See Schwatka, “An Arctic Vessel and Her Equipment,” 505. J. Flatman, “Cultural biographies, cognitive landscapes and dirty old bits of boat: ‘theory’ in maritime archaeology,” The International Journal of Nautical Archeology 32, no. 2 (2003): 148–149, notes “throughout history an experienced sailor has had unique and highly sought-after skills capable of placing him or her at the top of the labour market, getting leverage with employers as regards wages, hours and conditions of work.” Alwin, “Mode, Pattern and Pulse,” 132–133, observes HBC sailors and servants: “contracted for several years at a time, and before their contract was to expire, those wishing to remain in the service sent their resolves to London for consideration. Increasing numbers held out for higher wages, refusing to serve unless their sometimes exorbitant demands were met. The Company maintained the practice of rewarding servants with experience, and tried to adhere to guidelines. … With increasing regularity in the late 1770’s and 1780’s, Company servants held out for wages beyond the current guidelines.” David Featherstone, “Spatial relations and the materialities of political conflict: the construction of entangled political identities in the London and Newcastle Port Strikes of 1768,” Geoforum 35, no. 6 (November 2004): 702; and David Featherstone, “Atlantic networks, antagonisms and the formation of subaltern political identities,” Social & Cultural Geography 6, no. 3 (June 2005): 396,  notes “During the May of 1768 amidst sailors’ strikes which brought the port of London to a stop, an official from the Hudson Bay Company wrote the Home Office. He noted that the company ‘had three ships and a Brigantine fitting out their respective voyages’ and expressed concern at their delay due to the ongoing sailor’s disputes. The ‘difficulty of the voyage’ was ‘so critical’ that it ‘could not by any means be effected unless the ships are permitted to depart from London about 20th of May’. Delay in disembarking threatened further ‘danger … to the Trade in these parts in case the Indians should be disappointed in their expected supplies’. The Company was forced to give in to the sailors’ demands for a wage of forty shillings a month ‘for fear of losing their voyage’. … These sailors were able to exploit the companies’ precarious situation within the constraints posed by tides, winds and seasons. The forms of ‘long-distance control’ constructed by the Hudson’s Bay Company depended on negotiating these powerful non-human forces.” See also Williamson, “Voyage of the ‘Discovery’ 1911,” part I, 12–14, on negotiating wages and signing on for a voyage that year. Also “Arctic Mariner,” The Beaver 25, no. 3 (December 1945): 46, which observes “When a ship makes as many as twenty-five voyages –– each thousands of miles long –– through the ice-choked waters of the Arctic without a single mishap, that’s a record to be proud of. The Company which operates that ship certainly takes pride in it, and is no less proud of the man who has been chiefly responsible for establishing that record.” Also Alan Cameron, “Ships of Three Centuries,” The Beaver 50, no. 1 (summer 1970): 7, on the “complex skills” and ‘forgotten secrets’ of past master mariners.

[23] See Richard Finnie, “Farewell Voyages: Bernier and the ‘Arctic’,” The Beaver 54, no. 1 (summer 1974):  46, 48–49.

[24] H.M.S. Cotter, “The Ship ‘Prince of Wales’: 1850, Full Rigged Ship in Hudson’s Bay; 1934, New Zealand Coal Hulk,” The Beaver 13, no. 4 (March 1934): 42. Schwatka, “An Arctic Vessel and Her Equipment,” 505, notes “The subject of ice-navigation embraces the construction of ships for this peculiar employment, or the altering for it of those that have seen less severe service.”

[25] Oliver Warner, “Voyaging to York Factory,” The Beaver 37, no. 3 (winter 1957): 18, referring to the Prince Rupert, 1769. Cotter, “Ship ‘Prince of Wales’,” 42.

[26] Warner, “Voyaging to York Factory,” 18; Cotter, “Ship ‘Prince of Wales’,” 43.

[27] Warner “Voyaging to York Factory,” 18.

[28] 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): 13–14; G. Edmund Mack, “Nascopie Downs Submarine,” The Beaver 19, no. 1 (June 1939): 21.

[29] Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 80. See, photograph, “Images of the West,” courtesy of the Glenbow Collection, The Applied History Research Group, University of Calgary (accessed 4 October 2008), showing the HBC flag. Remington, “York Factory to London,” 21, remarks elements of display in the London Offices of 1888 as well: “What would have been office boys with us were elderly dignified men dressed in the Hudson’s bay Company livery –– knee breeches, tail coats, striped coloured waistcoats made up … of HBC colours.”

[30] Hargrave, Letters, 23; HBCA, E.12/5, Isobel G. Finlayson, “My Notebook,” Journal, 1840, 15; and Harriet Cown, quoted in Healy, Women of Red River, 189, describe the Prince Rupert. Basil Lubbock, “The Days of the Tea Clippers,” The Beaver 8, no. 3 (December 1928): 106, describes the Titania, a HBC ship from 1885–1893, admired for “her beauty, her sea-going qualities, and, of course, her many fine sailing performances.” Mack, “H.B.S.S. Pelican Ends Historic Career,” 15, notes the Pelican’s “teakwood and brass” was used to make “massive inkwells for officials of the Company” when it was broken up in 1920.

[31] See photo, in C.P. Wilson, “Nascopi: The Story of Ship,” The Beaver 27, no. 2 (September 1947): 10, showing the captain’s table aboard the S.S. Nascopie; also Arthur Herman, To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World (New York: Harper Perennial, 2005), 302, 321, 326, on ships’ dimensions and descriptions of interior space. Cook’s “so-called great cabin” on the Endeavour, for example,was “only 14 by 18 feet, and had to serve as office and public dining room as well as sleeping quarters.” Bligh’s cabin in the Bounty was a “tiny six- by seven-foot.” 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), 9, reports the cabin of the Prince Rupert [VI] of 1841 was twelve feet by ten feet. See also J.S.C. Abbott, “Ocean Life,” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine 5, no. 25 (June 1852): 61–66.

[32] Cameron, “Ships of Three Centuries,” 8, 17–18, “Company Sailing Ships,” The Beaver 22, no. 2 (September 1942): 24–28; Alice M. Johnson, “Early Ships in Hudson’s Bay,” The Beaver 26, no. 1 (June 1946): 10–13; also ship lists, this site, and Sources for Ship List (1-5).

[33] See, photo, in H.M.S. Cotter, “Some Famous Hudson’s Bay Captains and Ships,” part I, The Beaver 1, no. 7 (April 1921): 3, of HBC barque, the Lady Head, in service to 1903 and holder of the record for fastest completed voyage to 1920.

[34] See “Still Trading into Hudson Bay,” The Beaver 13, no. 2 (September 1933): 33. Also, G. Edmund Mack, “Ninth Annual Voyage, H.B.S.S. ‘Nascopie’ into ‘The Bay’,” photograph, The Beaver 1, no. 3 (December 1920):2, of the Nascopie in ice off Wolstenholme.

[35] Cotter, “Famous Hudson’s Bay Captains and Ships,” part II, The Beaver 1, no. 9 (Jun e1921): 32, referring to the Erik. Cotter, “Ship ‘Prince of Wales’,” 44. See J. Ledingham, “Sealing from S.S. Nascopie,” The Beaver 5, no. 2 (March 1925): 74; Nascopie, Sources for Ship List, this site. D. Gittens, “Titanic’s Dimensions,” 2006 (accessed 27 September 2008), gives the deadweight of the Titanic, for example, as “13,550 tons (Typically including about 6,000 tons of coal).” See also Frank T. Bullen, “The Way of the Ship,” The Century; a popular quarterly 58, no. 5 (September 1889): 738–742, on the advantages of small ships over large vessels for North Atlantic voyaging.

[36] Schwatka, “An Arctic Vessel and Her Equipment,” 506.

[37] Alex. A. Parsons, “Our Great Sealing Industry, And the Men and Methods Employed from Time to Time in Its Prosecution,” The Newfoundland Quarterly 14, no. 4 (April 1915): 8–9. C.P. Wilson, “Nascopie: The Story of a Ship,” The Beaver 27, no. 2 (September 1947): 11, describes the Nascopie’s sinking off Beacon Island at Cape Dorset harbour, 1947.

[38] G.A. Cuthbertson, “The ‘Erik’s’ Saga,” The Beaver 16, no. 1 (June 1936): 52. W.G. Crisp, “Amundsen’s Maud,” The Beaver 35, no. 1 (summer 1955): 47, the Maud became the HBC Baymaud.

[39] Crisp, “Amundsen’s Maud,” 47; Williamson, “Voyage of the ‘Discovery’,” part I, 15, notes that “the removal of the orlop deck and divisional bulkheads between decks to provide a clear hold for cargo had reduced the lateral strength of the vessel so much that to run her the main engine at full speed would subject the wooden barque’s hull and fastenings to an unwise degree of stress and strain.” Consequently, the fastest the ship could travel in safety “in favourable conditions” when under steam was five knots.

[40] Ibid.; Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 67; Cotter, “Famous Hudson’s Bay Captains and Ships,” part II, 32; “Company Sailing Ships 1668–1928,” The Beaver 22, no. 2 (1942): 28. W.J.M. Rankine and William J. Millar, A Manuel of Machinery and Millwork (C. Griffin & Company, 1883), 470; J.R.J., “Notes on Articles Contributed to the Museums of the Royal Gardens, Kew, from the Colonial and Indian Exhibition, 1886,” Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information (Royal Gardens, Kew) 1887, no. 9 (1887): 15. Schwatka, “An Arctic Vessel and Her Equipment,” 506, 507, observes that copper sheathing on hulls “is of little or no use” in ice– it was too easily torn away and “planking in their vulnerable parts … makes ordinary metal sheathing of but little importance.” He adds, “wooden sheathing varies considerably in arctic vessels as to the parts of the ships that are plated, the thickness and amount, and kinds of hard or soft wood planking.” E.E. Rich, ed., Letters Outward 168896 (Toronto: Champlain Society, 1948), 332, indicates that as early as 1693 the HBC removed copper sheathing from ships it purchased. M’Keevor, Voyage to Hudson’s Bay, 7, reports the bottom of the Robert Taylor, a chartered vessel, was sheathed with copper that was torn off in places by contact with ice.

[41] Nevins, Narrative of Two Voyages, 1. Cotter, “Ship ‘Prince of Wales’,” 42. Finnie, “Farewell Voyages,” 45.

[42] Nevins, Narrative of Two Voyages, 1; see also Ballantyne, Hudson’s Bay, 15.

[43] Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 67; Cotter, “Famous Hudson’s Bay Captains and Ships,” part II, 33; Cotter, “Ship ‘Prince of Wales’,” 42. Finnie, “Farewell Voyages,” 45; see also William Kennedy, A short narrative of the second voyage of the Prince Albert, in search of Sir John Franklin (London: W.H. Dalton, 1853), 28, on the fitting out of the Prince Albert in Aberdeen.

[44] “Company Sailing Ships 1668–1928,” The Beaver 22, no. 2 (September 1942): 28.

[45] Finnie, “Farewell Voyages,” 45. See also Schwatka, “An Arctic Vessel and Her Equipment,” 507, who comments “The ease with which a ship can be lifted is, of course, a direct function of her size and weight. … the general principle that a vessel should be as small as possible … Again: a small ship is more readily handled in the tortuous channels through which she is often compelled to thread her way while working in floes just sufficiently open to allow progress.” See also, photo, “SS Erik in St. John’s harbour, Newfoundland, 1901.” Maritime History Archive, Virtual Exhibits, Job Photograph Collection http:// (accessed 20 October 2008).

[46] Williamson, “Voyage of the ‘Discovery’,” part I, 16; also Cowan quoted in Healy, Women of Red River, 190. See also Hargrave, Letters, 56, for terse comments: “Ship pitching so we could not dress” and, “Never knew what sailing was before.” Finlayson, “Notebook,” 33, notes that the ship’s rolling sent everyone to their berths “for the gale was so heavy that the sailors found it almost impossible to keep their footing on the deck, and one poor fellow had a fall and was very seriously injured”; also Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 90; Ballantyne, Hudson’s Bay, 2, 7, 15.

[47] Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 95, 101–2.

[48] Cotter, “Ship ‘Prince of Wales’,” 42.

[49] Williamson, “Voyage of the ‘Discovery’,” part I, 22. See also W.T. Larmour, review, Clear Lands and Icy Seas by Theodora C. Stanwell-Fletcher, The Beaver 38, no. 2 (autumn 1958): 56, and comments on passengers in close company.

[50] See, photograph, SS Pelican, from the bow across the deck by Frederick W. Berchem, Montreal, 1920, McCord Museum php?Lang= 1&section=196&accessnumber=MP-1984.126.59&imageID=251848& pageMulti=1 (accessed 5 December 2008).

[51] Cowan, quoted in Healy, Women of Red River, 191, explains further, “The surface became hardened by the wind and sun, and beneath it the meat kept perfectly fresh during the voyage.” Healy, 193, reports, “The average cargo of the Prince Rupert in the 1860’s included about sixty tons of gunpowder, with bullets and shot in proportion for large and small game. The next most important article was twine or fishing nets … Of tea and tobacco large quantities were brought every year.”

[52] See HBCA, C.3/20, Portledge Books, 1845–1915; Rich, History, vol. I, 376–383, 387–388, 398, 428, 429, 559–564, 625; Davies and Johnson, Letters from Hudson Bay, 5–7, 10, 15–19, 23–29, 30–31, 114–115, 134, 189, 243–244, 249, 259, 285, 311, 318n, 341. A horse was lost when the Mary went down in 1736. In 1705 Hudson’s Bay [II] carried 400 gallons of rum to the Bay. At York in 1728 Thomas McCliesh seized some brandy aboard the Mary: “the said brandy not being mentioned in the note sent by your honours.” His action angered John Watteridge who would not sign on to serve so was sent home. McCliesh added, “I have likewise seized two casks of brandy … all which brandy I have delivered to Captain Spurrill, and to keep same till he arrives in England.” See also Report from the Select Committee, 62, 80, 257, 279.

[53] Healy, Women of Red River, 194–98.

[54] Dick Wilson, “Below Decks: Seamen and Landsmen aboard Hudson’s Bay Company Vessels in the Pacific Northwest 1821–1850.” In Papers of the 1994 Rupert’s Land Colloquium, ed. Ian MacLaren, Michael Payne, and Heather Hollason (Winnipeg: Centre for Rupert’s Land Studies, 1997), 28–29, describes the largest HBC ships plying the Northwest Coast trade from 1821–1850 as “barques, which were a mere 103 feet long. The living area for the seaman was the ‘focs’l,’ located in the bow, forward of the foremast. For the larger ships, 12 crewmen might occupy a focs’l that was roughly 25 feet wide, 16 feet long, and 5½ feet high … The bunks, ladder, foremast, the carrick bitt timbers, knight head timbers, and cat davit timbers limited an individual’s space in the focs’l even further.” He notes the space was perpetually damp, and “dark, with the only light provided by a tallow candle or a small tin holding a cotton wick over which was poured fat rendered in the galley. The timbers, planking, decks, and bulkheads that formed the limits of the space were always covered with a black carbon residue.”

[55] On ships’ tonnage see ship lists, thissite. See, for example, HBCA, C.3/20, Portledge Books, 1845–1915, and Rich, History, vol. I, which indicate that, exclusive of the captain: the Diligence of 1681 had 22 crew; Hudson’s Bay [I], 1697, had about 18; Union, 1714, had 20; Seahorse [I], 1740, had 20; Mary [IV] and Hudson’s Bay [V], 1754, each had 18; King George  [III], 1803, had 22; Prince of Wales [I], 1811, had 32; Eddystone, 1811, had 28; Prince Rupert and Prince Albert, through the 1840s, averaged 20; Prince of Wales and Prince Arthur, through the 1850s–1870s, had from 19 to 26; see also Sager, Seafaring Labour, 107–109.

[56] HBCA, C.1/414, Ships’ Log, King George, 1803, fos. 1b, 2a, 2b; C.1/415, Ships’ Log, King George, 1804, fos. 2a-4b, list 38 passengers aboard for the outward voyage.

[57] See Sager, “Table 5: Ranks of Sailors signing on at Departure, St. John’s Registered Sailing Vessels, 1863–99,” Seafaring Labour, 107, who lists, aboard vessels under 250 tons: Master, First mate, Second mate, Bosun, Cook, Steward, Carpenter, Able seaman, Ordinary seaman, Boy, Apprentice. In “Table 6: Distribution by Rank, Saint John Fleet, 1863–1914,” 109, Sager lists in addition: Sailmaker, Stowaway, First, second or third engineer, Fireman or Fireman/trimmer, and notes that because only “a few vessels carried a second master or extra master,” he did not include the station in his list.

[58] See, for example, Rich, History, vol. I, 237, who notes that after Iberville captured the sixty-ton Huband in 1688, he put as many as thirty prisoners from the Mary of London aboard.

[59] HBCA, C.1/415, Ship’s Log, King George, 1804, 4b.

[60] See HBCA, C.3/20, Portledge Books, 1845–1915; also Rich, History, vol. I, 254–256, 263–264, 276–289, 302, 315, 325, 329, 336–337, 350–352, 358–359, who notes that in 1689 Leonard Edgecombe of the Hudson’s Bay [I] had 4 ‘Blue Coat boys’ as apprentices aboard, and that Edward Thompson formerly a HBC employee at Moose, was aboard the Furnace as surgeon in 1741.

[61] H.M. Tomlinson, Out of Soundings (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1931), 191. See Wilson, “Below Decks,” 29, who notes transfers of seamen between HBC vessels “were made without much ceremony” and that “Flexibility in crew assignments … served as the safety valve” to diffuse interpersonal conflict.

[62] HBCA, C.1/414, Ships’ Log, King George, 1803, fos. 1b, 2a, 2b. Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 74–75; Edith I. Burley, Servants of the Company: Work, Discipline, and Conflict in the Hudson’s Bay Company, 17701879 (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1997), 26–27.

[63] Sager, Seafaring Labour, 6–8, 87–93, observes, “in designing sailing ships, builders were designing enclosed spaces that would constrain relations between everybody who lived and worked there. The sailing ship … assumed a division of labour and a social hierarchy,” which “reflected the military division of labour in naval vessels”; see also Marcus Rediker, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirate  and the Anglo-American World, 17001750 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 83–96; Christopher McKee, review of Shipboard Life and Organization, 17311815 by Brian Lavery, The Journal of Military History 63, no. 4 (October 1999): 967–969; Edward Ward, The Wooden World Dissected: In the Character of a Ship of War, As Also the Character of All the Officers, From the Captain to the Common Sailor (1707; London: James Graham, 1795), 9–12, 17–50, 44–58, 61–66; Dana, Two Years Before the Mast, 11–14, 23, 37; and Remington, “York Factory to London,” 19, 20.

[64] Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 74, reported, for example, that the Prince Rupert [VII] “had a raised poop aft and a topgallant forecastle forward, where the officers aft and the boatswain and carpenter forward were accommodated. There were also berths for the second mate, a midshipman, and a passenger in the ‘half deck,’ immediately in front of the poop, while the crew and steerage passengers had quarters in the steerage forward. The cook’s galley was a little deckhouse before the mainmast.” Cowan, quoted in Healy, Women of Red River, 190, reported accommodation aboard the Prince Rupertwas a “delightful contrast” to the Ocean Nymph, as there were berths for cabin, as well as steerage, passengers aft in the captain’s quarters.

[65] See Cowan, quoted in Healy, Women of Red River, 190; Dana, Two Years Before the Mast, 40.

[66] Rediker, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, 88, 95, notes “One of the central features of seafaring work was its social visibility. Work was a public activity, so public in fact that any seaman, even when off duty, knew what work was being done, and by whom, by the distinctive yell each tar gave during his various exertions.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.