Opportunities in Transit: HBC Ships as Sites of Social Process

Eric W. Sager has argued that a ship at sea was “a fragment of the society that created it,” but observed as well that “The seaman worked in a place of infinite variety.” Thus, he allowed, the seaborne “workplace as a community” was one in which “workplace relationships [were] highly variable.”[1] Following Sager, I argue that, as a container of human activity, the community aboard HBC ships was a context as worthy of consideration as the natural and technological contexts of a transatlantic voyage.[2] Socially, the HBC ship as a workplace was a complex nexus of alternating, intersecting paths. Social relations aboard ship reflected this complexity. This chapter recounts observations recorded in journals of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century passengers variously housed in the interstices of workspaces aboard such cargo carriers as the Ocean Nymph, Prince Rupert, and Nascopie, to illustrate ways in which being at sea aboard a HBC ship was a socially distinct experience.

The experience of community aboard ship varied for different individuals.[3] The comments of nineteenth-century passengers aboard transatlantic supply ships indicate that interaction aboard HBC vessels included more than the pure reproduction of the obvious, existing, and tenaciously held set of relations between captains and crews –– the “hierarchy of laboring roles” adhered to by the ‘insiders’ of shipboard ‘society.’[4] Although that set of relations was dominant, there occurred also the making of new and potentially lasting contacts with ship ‘outsiders.’[5] Insiders and outsiders alike had an opportunity to form new opinions about, and relations with, an ever-varying group of individuals.

Before, during and after the nineteenth century, by dint of movement, a HBC transatlantic ship was a transitional place, within a larger space of transition, by which seafarers “quit” one “part of the world” for another that was vastly different.[6] The ocean arc was a space of transition in that change from one set of conditions to another was a constant along its breadth.[7] As a workplace, the ship was transitional in the sense of being in transit –– literally, because it was going and because it was conveying. It was figuratively transitional because, while aboard ship, there was an opportunity for people to observe something other than whatever conceptions of ‘normal’ social relations they held to exist at termini ashore.[8] The opportunity to experience a different social dynamic while in isolation from locations on land was temporary, intermediate, and fluid. The opportunity was fluid because behaviours and actions that people witnessed and performed changed in response to changing conditions along the course travelled. It was fluid as well because the company, in which seafarers aboard transoceanic HBC ships travelled, changed over the course of voyages. On some passages, for instance, personnel transferred between consorts while at sea. In the case of impressment, they might transfer to a naval ship. Loss of coworkers also occurred due to deaths at sea. Visitors and emissaries from other vessels, including whaling ships, Inuit umiaks, and coastal schooners might come aboard.[9] Typically, a transatlantic HBC ship’s complement also changed with the direction travelled: inevitably, some people aboard for the outward passage, including labourers and Company servants engaged for the fur trade, left the ship at the voyage’s outward end. A new set of transoceanic voyagers joined the ship’s company for the return.[10] During the weeks and months of a voyage, different passengers engaged with the community aboard ship differently. Some fared better than others.

For a person like passenger Letitia Hargrave, who appears from her letters to have been obsessed with finding a telling fault in the behaviour of everyone she met, the voyage to Hudson Bay could prove exhausting.[11] Instances of mingling between female passengers and crewmen aboard the Prince Rupert [V] in 1840 seem to have galled her especially. Miss Allen, for instance, a schoolteacher whom Hargrave deemed insufferable before the first week at sea was out, drew her censure for having taken a walk round the deck with the ship’s surgeon Dr. Gillespie, after which the young man was apparently subject to ongoing teasing from Mr. Boulton the first mate.[12] By the time the ship reached Stromness, Hargrave had seen to the dismissal of fellow passenger Isobel Finlayson’s female cook. Initially impressed, Hargrave had described the cook as a well-educated widow of about fifty years old, pretty, cheerful, and “constantly assisting the steward.” When her own maid reported that Finlayson’s cook was flirting with sailors, accepting “drinks” from Boulton, and getting “tipsy,” Hargrave’s opinion soured.[13] She apparently did not know, or did not accept, that such drinking was widely regarded as medicinal –– a “cure for seasickness.”[14] By the time the ship reached Hudson Strait, Hargrave did not enjoy social contact and portrayed shipboard life as a “wretched” combination of too many people, performing tasks in too close quarters, surrounded by too much ice.[15]

Hargrave’s berth was one of four bunks divided by sliding doors from the ‘cuddy’ of the captain’s stateroom in the after cabin that served as the mess. She elected to spend much of her time sequestered in her bunk, which lay at floor level “wth a sort of ledge to keep me from rolling about.” Consequently, she was subject to the “constant clack clack” of the mess, with “the Capn always in it.”[16] In addition, Finlayson, her equally bunk-ridden roommate, reportedly “had a horror at being blown up & as there was gun powder under our cabin wd not listen to the proposal of a fire. I was sure I wd die of cold … in a room wch was washed 2ce a week & never dry, as there was no window but the sky light.[17] Stormy seas toppled the seasick female passengers’ belongings out of their berths “to the no small amusement of the officers who were assembled at breakfast.” The close presence of ice made everything worse: “Nothing cd be more wearing out than the never ending bump bump bumping & then rumbling [of ice] under or past us –– Sleep was impossible.” Periodically the ship would strike the ice with a sound “like the loudest thunder” while the collision “made her tremble from head to stern, and set all the bells ringing,” and, as the Prince Rupert rebounded backwards, Miss Allen would scream.[18] At the end of the voyage, upon being lowered from the ship, Hargrave turned her back on the ship’s company and “relieved her pent up feelings” by crying herself “sick,” while praying “wherever it may be my lot to go I shall never [again] be shut up in a cabin with 3 ladies & servants.[19]

Hargrave serves as an extreme example of an individual ‘all at sea’ and out of her element aboard a ship in icy Northern waters. Adhering to her notions of propriety conceived along gendered lines –– presumably inculcated by the finishing school she had attended in Argyllshire –– did nothing to alleviate her physical situation or emotional outlook. Contemporary male passengers such as Robert Ballantyne aboard the Prince Rupert [VI] of 1841, and Isaac Cowie aboard and Prince Rupert [VII] of 1867, though they shared many of the physical discomforts, describe a freedom of movement, easy familiarity with passengers and crew, and overall interest in their voyages that stand in sharp contrast to Hargrave’s account.[20] Both men reported engaging directly with all working ranks aboard ship –– from “parading the quarter deck” with a captain and spinning yarns with a mate or boatswain, to enjoying “dogwatch entertainments” on the forward deck.[21] Gender norms doubtless combined with workplace regimens to limit the opportunities available for female passengers to interact with male crew. Local lore of Hudson Bay suggests, however, that some female passengers –– perhaps even Finlayson’s gregarious cook –– and working men aboard ship, may well have regarded time spent in close proximity as both welcome diversions and potential opportunities to form lasting emotional bonds –– precisely as First Officer Boulton had teased Dr. Gillespie. A “classic” story that apparently circulated among the Labrador district ports of Rigolet, Northwest River, and Fort Chimo, maintained:

On the passage out [the first mate of the Prince of Wales] fell in love with the daughter of one of the leading residents of the fort to which she was returning; but the match was not approved of by the parents. On the day then that the Prince of Wales had her ‘Blue Peter’ at her fore-topmast head and her anchors hove short, this spritely young seaman (who must have had it pretty badly) sprang from the rail and leaped overboard, his clothes atop his head, and swam to one of the waiting vessels bound up river; he climbed aboard and took passage to the fort, where the couple were married, the Company’s business meanwhile being held up and the captain in a furore.[22]

If the story had a factual basis and the ship was the second Prince of Wales, then the captain may have been Hargrave’s captain, David James Herd, though who the first mate and the bride might be is not clear. Neither is it clear whether the story is a commentary on sailors from England and sea-going North American women actually experiencing transoceanic HBC ships as sites of social production, or whether the tale was told as an allegory, referencing the seaborne intercourse between European and North American economic interests.[23] In any case, the story augments the nineteenth-century descriptions supplied by Hargave, Ballantyne, and Cowie that present HBC ships as social spaces in which adhering to prescribed norms of propriety might prove a poor compass for finding comfort.

That propriety was present aboard ships of the North Atlantic in the form of conventions of rank meant division and isolation were aspects of shipboard social life. Passenger observations on voyages along the HBC ocean arc indicate that individuals who positioned themselves at the top of a social hierarchy likely felt separate. Nevertheless, social distinction did not necessarily preclude inclusion in a vessel’s community. Aboard HBC ships, a feature of shipboard relations of longstanding was apparently both operational and socially leavening –– that of crew cohesiveness.[24] Numerous studies have established that from Elizabethan times, once aboard English/British and New England ships, regardless of a crewmember’s antecedents, if one contributed to the success of a voyage, one ‘belonged.’[25] Acceptance into a HBC ship’s community conferred benefits, including forbearance of behaviour that transgressed usual maritime custom. Hargrave, for instance, remarked on a “poor sailor who is a little deranged,” taking transport home from London to Orkney and in the meantime wandering the Prince Rupert to inform all and sundry –– including ship’s officers –– “With the blessing of God if you please I will take a dance.” According to Hargrave, the sailor enjoyed the protection of the entire crew: “Capn & all are so attentive … as if he were the wisest among them.”[26]

Acceptance also had its converse aspect –– embodied by the ‘Jonah’ –– a decidedly uncomfortable status for anyone so designated.[27] John Hudspeth, surgeon aboard the Eddystone in 1816, complained in his journal that the crew –– made up of men he regarded as murderous mutineers after having overwintered with them –– blamed him “for all the gales of wind that occurred during a voyage for having thrown a Cat overboard.”[28] Franklin Remington described a similar instance aboard the Prince Rupert [VIII]in 1888:

Day by day the ceaseless pounding and getting nowhere finally got to the crew’s morale, and they began to talk about having a Jonah on board. A miserable looking Dutchman with an unkempt beard was the man they concluded was their Jonah, and the reason they gave for this was that he had eaten raw polar bear. They gave him dirty looks and he went about in a nervous state, fearful that one night he might be thrown overboard. Perhaps the return of good weather saved his life, for these fo’c’stle lads jumped quickly from one extreme to another.[29]

Hudspeth, on his earlier voyage, had noted that mercurial switches in mood were not restricted to the sailors –– officers too could initiate “nonsensical” quarrels, and then behave cooperatively, as if nothing had happened.[30]

For passengers, perhaps the surest means of experiencing a sense of community was to participate directly in the day-to-day work aboard ship. Some men appear to have welcomed an opportunity to earn acceptance through demonstrating physical competence, vaunting their ability to get over feeling seasick, and boasting they had “paid … footing” to the sailors by climbing aloft in the rigging.[31] John McLeod, aboard the Edward and Ann in 1811, hoped that he would be hired as a slooper once he arrived in Hudson Bay, noting that “during the passage I enjoyed good health x hearter [sic: & heartier] than ever. I stood watch & Kept a Journal during the voyage. Mr Davidson the first Mate was my daily teacher & I had the use of his Quadrant at Command.”[32] Passenger Miles Macdonell, however, stands in contrast. As the agent appointed in charge of establishing Red River Settlement for Company shareholder, Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk, Macdonell was prone to behaviour throughout his career that indicated he held a high opinion of his own capability relative to others. After his voyage to the Bay in 1811, he complained to Selkirk of “unfit” sea captains, who were “above taking advice, self sufficient & stubborn,” and, though Macdonell’s military background did not include nautical experience, he proposed improvements to the Company’s handling of its maritime affairs.[33] His “newfangled” ideas were less than favourably received by HBC personnel involved with sea going transport.[34] It is unlikely that ‘self sufficient’ Captain Henry Hanwell Senior and crew aboard the Prince of Wales on the passage outward enjoyed Macdonell’s company –– although there is no record of anyone wishing to throw him overboard.

By the nineteenth century, the status of belonging was perhaps most difficult for female passengers to achieve because, historically, the system of social acceptance was based on survival and survival in ice required considerable exertion –– not something hegemonic European conventions regarding ‘woman’s place’ encouraged.[35] For individuals such as Hargrave and Finlayson, who would not or could not be helpful aboard ship, the best option was likely to keep out of the way. Probably, the majority of passengers aboard HBC ships shared a status somewhat removed from either pariah or peer in the eyes of sailors, and for the most part seafarers tried to avoid antagonizing shipmates –– even Hargrave seems to have kept expression of personal animosity confined to her private writings.

Passengers’ accounts of voyaging also indicate that the ‘infinite variety’ of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century HBC ship’s communities extended to people of diverse origins. Not all passengers were European. Hargrave, Ballantyne, and Cowie each refer to travel companions of North American origin. According to Hargrave, the best dressed ‘lady’ to share the captain’s cuddy was Jane Ross: daughter of Chief Factor Donald Ross and Mary McBeath, and native to North America.[36] A respectable “young genta” aboard for the same voyage was Thomas Thomas, a native-born son of Chief Factor Thomas Thomas Senior and his Cree wife Sarah.[37] Also present was Hargrave’s maid, Margaret Dunnet –– an “evidently most respectable” daughter of former HBC tailor John Dunnet –– returning home to her birthplace and maternal relatives of Hudson’s Bay.[38]

Cowie travelled in company with Alexander Christie and “Miss Mason and maid.”[39] Christie was a fourth generation HBC trader. He was son of Alexander Christie Junior and Caroline Isbister, a daughter of Thomas Isbister and Mary Kennedy, who in turn was the daughter of Alexander Kennedy and wife Aggathas. Christie was also grandson of Alexander Christie Senior and wife Ann Thomas, the daughter of John Thomas Senior and Margaret, “an Indian woman.”[40] Both of Christie’s grandmothers were women native to North America, whose Aboriginal heritage stretched back to ‘time immemorial.’[41] Likewise, Mary Mason, who sailed with Christie and Cowie, was the daughter of Methodist missionary Reverend William Mason and Sophia Thomas, and so traced her Aboriginal ancestry through her maternal grandmother, the above-mentioned Sarah Thomas.[42] For his part, Ballantyne travelled with John Charles –– designated as “Mr C––––, a chief factor in the Company’s service” –– who had first sailed “on HBC Ship ‘Queen Charlotte’ at age 14 as an apprentice, in 1799.”[43]

The ancestry of North American born seafaring companions, or of their relatives, elicited little that might be construed as racialized comment. Ballantyne made no mention for example, of Charles having married Jane Auld, daughter of Chief Factor William Auld and an Aboriginal woman who is unnamed in HBC documents.[44] Hargrave described Thomas’ countenance as “very black,” and Ross’ as “fierce,” but while the former’s mother was of North American Aboriginal descent, both parents of the latter were Scottish.[45] In light of Hargraves’s personal circumstances, she may have regarded matters of their heritage to be of less concern than what, and who, they knew –– as members of the HBC fur trade community –– about any liaisons her new husband may have had previously with ‘country’ women.[46] For his part, Cowie, whose own maternal antecedents are obscure, defended the native born as “eminent and successful” in their endeavours, and “magnificently formed men and lovely women.”[47]

If anything, by the nineteenth century, a North American heritage, because it implied competency in dealing with Northern conditions, seems to have served as a point of pride on HBC ships. Cowie, for instance, describes Christie as “in exuberant spirits on reaching his native shore,” and confident enough of his abilities to borrow the ship’s boat for a sail while the crew waited for sloops from York Factory to arrive at the newly moored Prince Rupert.[48] On Christie’s return, the mate, John MacPherson, followed suit, but ran aground and did not arrive back until the next morning.[49] Cowie reported that the “skipper gave MacPherson a dressing-down, and Christie, who was an expert at teasing, took occasion to contrast the lubberly conduct of the mate and his men, with the fine style in which the apprentice clerk had handled the gig.”[50] In published excerpts of a “Diary” of a voyage, under the penname ‘Brutus,’ an apprentice clerk voyaging to Hudson Bay aboard the Nascopie, circa 1920, who described himself as “one of the Arctic brotherhood –– at least perspectively [sic],” made a similar comparison between himself and apprentice sailors.[51] When the ship was “held fast in a jam” in Gray Straits, between the Button Islands and Cape Chidley, the sailors took to the ice. Brutus commented,

Their experience had not hitherto comprehended the nature of the Arctic or the Arctic floes. I thought they looked a shaky lot. Silence, however, is very golden at times, and sympathy is a jewel. … Still, I’ll covertly remark that, fashioned in northern lands as I am, I did not feel that I had yet completely lost my element.[52]

Familiarity with Northern conditions allowed the North American born to bring a distinct perspective to bear on the relation of competence to experience –– one that might, in some circumstances, favour members of communities ashore in the ‘unsettled wilds’ of the ‘North-West’ over those who hailed from Britain. Nevertheless, being native to North America did not confer a single outlook, or ensure a pleasant voyage.[53] Harriet Cowan, whose grandmothers were Aboriginal women married to HBC fur traders, was raised in Red River Settlement and finished her schooling at Knox College, Galesboro, Illinois. She described her voyage out of Hudson Bay aboard the Ocean Nymph in 1864 with her husband, surgeon William Cowan, and their children, John, Anna, and Harriet, as “overcrowded,” adding, “we really had a most uncomfortable time of it between the decks in bad weather.”[54] Space was at a premium as crew members of both the Prince of Wales and Prince Arthur were also aboard –– having lost the former vessel and severely damaged the latter off Mansel Island while entering Hudson Bay. The voyage was further marred by the death of a child: “a little girl, and she was buried at sea. She was the daughter of an officer of the Company who had retired and was going home to the Orkneys with his wife, who was an Indian woman, and their only child.” For Cowan, however, the discomfort and danger of sea voyaging was only marginally greater than what she had experienced travelling twelve hundred miles of rivers, lakes, and “salt water,” between Red River and Moose Factory via Albany in 1856 and 1863. Those trips she accomplished in company with her husband and children, by canoe, over numerous falls, rapids, and portages –– likewise the similarly arduous, seven hundred mile journey to York Factory, which the family undertook prior to boarding the ship to England. Cowan was not dissuaded by the experience aboard the Ocean Nymph from sailing back to Hudson Bay the following spring, nor from embarking on another return voyage in order to bring her children home from England in 1870. She reported travel aboard the Prince Rupert [VII] to be “delightful,” insisting, “Really we lived luxuriously.” Evidently, unlike Hargrave and Finlayson, Cowan preferred spending time on deck to remaining cloistered behind wooden walls. While icebound in Hudson Strait she took advantage of an opportunity to take dinner aboard the Lady Head that was similarly stalled a mile distant. When alerted at table by the cry “The ice is moving!” Cowan managed to run back to the Prince Rupert, and, by means of a ladder, cross the water in “a wide crack” that had opened in the ice. Apparently unfazed, she reported “the fog [was] worse than either the storms or the ice,” and was heartened by the “faint smell of spruce” that signalled arrival at York, “though the low shore line was invisible.”[55]

If some North Americans who sailed out of Hudson Bay accepted ice, cold, and sparsely populated terrain as unexceptional and not overly forbidding, John Bunn’s impressions of his voyage, penned in 1819 after a ten-year absence in Britain suggest not all native-born individuals were as enthralled as Cowan and Christie with approaching home shores.[56] Bunn’s recorded impression bears greater resemblance to that of Ballantyne, who immortalized York as “a monstrous blot on a swampy spot, with a partial view of the frozen sea.”[57] At approximately eighteen years of age, called back to the Bay from his medical studies in Edinburg by his grandfather, Dr. John McNab, Bunn voyaged to Hudson Bay as surgeon aboard the Eddystone. He carried a text of lectures on Natural Philosophy and used the space in the margins of its pages to record his thoughts on departure and arrival at either end of the crossing:

April 29, 1819 –– today I leave the University for my native country, Hudson’s Bay. What is before me God knows but I think I am going to the Devil in a cold country. Farewell happiness, farewell my intellectual pleasures, farewell my Jolly Blues; in three months, I shall be among a parcel of hairy, frozen devils and thinking of days never to return.

Sept. 1, 1819. Well here I am at Moose Factory as wet as a drowned rat –– very little pleased with my berth. A strange pack of uncivilized Souls I have got among to be sure –– they speak English some of them – but I very much wish I were either hung or back at ‘Auld Reekie’ with my Jolly Blues. Good-bye to happiness – where it will end I know not – but a precious kettle of fish my old Grandad has made of it.[58]

Bunn’s uncertainty occasioned by transoceanic transitioning after a prolonged separation from his place of origin was not exceptional. HBC employee W.H. Sharpe, for example, wondered while sailing to England in the early 1920s “what my first impression of the Mother Land would be when I returned to it, and whether I had retained clearly those old memories. Had I, after eleven years in the land of my adoption, so completely changed that I could never again see England with the same eyes?”[59] Obviously, how an individual’s antecedents might figure into their experience of a voyage was as variable as were the people involved.[60]

The passengers surveyed in this chapter left subjective accounts that concentrated on imparting information about their experience of seagoing transition –– no doubt selectively, to fit an intended or imagined readership.[61] Sailors were not the focus of the authors’ attentions, yet it is plain that maritime workers of the HBC did more than manage its oceangoing technology: sailors were social actors who impinged on passenger experience through interpersonal communication. Although this essay recounts the comments of a handful of passengers who voyaged during less than half of the 250 years of HBC voyaging between 1508 and 1920, it nonetheless affirms a central point: a wide variety of individuals, hailing from vastly different geographical origins, passed through and participated in HBC shipboard workplaces. Just as no two voyages were alike in every detail, neither were the ever-varying shipboard communities of seafarers confined in each other’s company. Varying origins, expectations, and temperaments meant that on each passage, every HBC ship evinced a distinct social context. Thus, the heterogeneity of people in community at sea –– including that of North American born participants –– ensured seafaring activity in Hudson Bay was not socially simple. To understand sailors as active agents of complex communication, to know how and to what degree the formation of seaward community was affective, it is necessary to extend study of HBC seafaring beyond what historiography devoted to the fur trade ashore has previously implied.

[1] Eric W. Sager, Seafaring Labour: The Merchant Marine of Atlantic Canada, 1820–1914 (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1989), 104, 240, 222, 8, also 44.

[2] James W. Carey, Communication As Culture: Essays on Media and Society (London: Unwin Hyman, 1989; Reprint, New York: Routledge, 1992), 1819, in establishing a connection between community and communication, suggests that community can be understood as an “ordered, meaningful” world that “serves as a control and container for human action.” See Allan Pred, “Social Reproduction and the Time Geography of Everyday Life,” Geografiska Annaler, ser. B, 63, no. 1 (1981): 7, 10, and comments on alterations and adjustments made at the individual level that lead to societal transformation; and Ian Stuart, “All the King’s Horses: The Study of Canadian Political Culture,” in Canadian Politics 2d ed., James P. Bickerton and Alain-G. Gagnon, eds. (Peterborough: Broadview Press, 1994), 7988, which indicate that Sager’s statements are more compatible with Pred’s theorizing that “there is an unending dialectical process by which society produces [people] who produce, or create society,” than with the “fragment homogeneity” underpinning the theoretical framework propounded by Louis Hartz in the 1960s. See Jennifer S.H. Brown, Strangers in Blood: Fur Trade Families in Indian Country (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1980), xvi–xvii, for a discussion of her application of Hartzian analysis in the study of HBC and NWC workplace relationships and the “social and domestic relations that developed within them” –– i.e. social reproduction.

[3] See John Scott and Gordon Marshall, eds., “community,” A Dictionary of Sociology, Oxford University Press 2005, Oxford Reference Online [ORO] http://www.oxfordreference.com (accessed 14 December 2008). Community is a contested term, often loosely applied either to a place or to a collection of people, but more commonly used to define land-based social interactions than those at sea. See, for example, James Brow, “Notes on Community, Hegemony, and the Uses of the Past,” Anthropological Quarterly 63, no. 1 (January 1990): 16, who limits his definition of community to meaning a subjective state: “a sense of belonging together,” that “typically combines both affective and cognitive components, both a feeling of solidarity and an understanding of shared identity.” By ‘identity,’ presumably, Brow means that the members of a group of people understand themselves to be figuratively ‘all in the same boat.’ Cheryl A Fury, Tides in the Affairs of Men: The Social History of Elizabethan Seamen, 15081603 (Westport CT: Greenwood Press, 2002),258, observes that in some respects “the seafaring community functioned with roughly the same dynamic, parameters, and mechanisms as the land community.” For the purpose of this chapter, the term community refers to the immediately experienced sense of common circumstance of the group constrained aboard a ship, while the term society signals the larger set(s) of structured social relations brought to bear upon the group.

[4] Marcus Rediker, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700–1750 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 84. See also Margaret S. Creighton, “Fraternity in the American Forecastle, 1830–1870,” The New England Quarterly 63, no. 4 (December 1990): 544545; Margaret S. Creighton and Lisa Norling, eds., Iron Men. Wooden Women: Gender and Seafaring in the Atlantic World, 1700–1920 (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1996), viii, ix, note that “Like every specialized occupation, labor under sail evolved with its own distinctive language, rhythms, rituals, and lore. … sources suggest that the seafaring experience was shaped by the close confines, intermittent isolation, and strict hierarchy of authority of the ship; the mobility inherent in a transportation industry; and the natural dangers that were inescapably part of the deep-sea workplace. But just how distinctive sailor and ship board societies really were, in what ways, and why, remain points of disagreement.”

[5] Joe Flatman, “Cultural biographies, cognitive landscapes and dirty old bits of boat: ‘theory’ in maritime archaeology,”International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 32, no. 2 (October 2003): 148, notes “while a hierarchical structure may have been present aboard … vessels, this should not be automatically assumed.” He cautions against “Hornblower syndrome”: taking “the wealth of 19th-century accounts of naval life which survive” at face value and assuming the “worst excesses of abuse of power and hierarchy always being present on board ship.” He notes ”many accounts of old sailors –– often ghost written –– deliberately emphasized bad conditions to serve political moves in the 1820s and 1830s to end both naval impressment and corporal punishment, particularly flogging.” Flatman holds that “For most of history, merchant ships in particular … had very small crews, with little scope for class distinctions, while crews were often drawn from family members, ‘lower ranks’ in such circumstances frequently being of the same social class but from lower down a hierarchy of experience and maturity.”

[6] 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: By William Wales,” Philosophical Transactions (16831775) 60 (1770): 132.

[7] See Katherine Barber, “transition,” The Canadian Oxford Dictionary ORO http://www.oxfordreference.com (accessed 3 October 2008).

[8] Barber, “transit,” Canadian Oxford Dictionary ORO http://www.oxfordreference.com (accessed 3 October 2008). See Pred, “Social Reproduction,” on the “external (corporeal action)-internal (mental activity and intention) dialectic,” who argues “as an individual traces out her physically observable daily and life paths, corporeally participating in institutional (and independently defined) projects, and thereby interacting with other persons and objects, she inevitably amasses internal impressions and experiences that are fundamental to her absorption of normative prescriptions and rules … When an individual’s daily path is steered through specific temporal and spatial locations as a result of involvement in, or intersection with a particular institutional project, she is confronted by environmental impulses, personal contacts, influences, and information in general, as well as emotions and feelings, that she otherwise would not have experienced internally, and her practical knowledge of the ‘reasonable’ and the ‘unreasonable’, her unarticulated sense of limits, is embellished or reinforced in a manner that otherwise would not have occurred” [italics in source].

[9] See for example, HBCA, C.1/1028, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1758, ca. 16 August; LAC, Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk Fonds, Microfilm A.27, Selkirk Papers, vol. I, Miles Macdonnell, letter, “Macdonnell to Lord Selkirk,” York Factory, 1 Oct. 1811 (Canadian Library Association Ottawa, 1950), 43; HBCA, E.12/5-7, “My Notebook,” Isobel G[raham] Finlayson Journal, 1840, 65–66. HBCA, C.1/417, Ship’s Log, King George, 1806, 19–20 June, 10 October. HBCA, C.1/1027, Ship’s Log, Sea Horse, 1757, ca. 30 May, beside a crossbones symbol, notes “at 3 Dyed John Sheppard our ordnery Seaman [sic]”; C.1/1028, Ship’s Log, Seahorse, 1758, 15 August. HBCA, B.3/a/3, Albany Post Journal, 1711, Anthony Beale “Six Dayes Remarks of of Albany Roavor beginning Sept ye 20th 1711 [sic],” 26 September, aboard the Pery reported that “a conniss [canoe] wilt two indians who came on board us [sic]”; B.3/a/7: Albany Post Journal, 1715–1716, Michael Grimington, “A Journall of our Wintering with the Prosperos Hoye M.G. Mastr In Compy wth ye Port Nelson [sic],” 18 April, reported“Capt Belcher Letts the Indians Come Aboard of his Ship”; C.1/1027, Ship’s Log, Sea Horse, 1757, 2 August, records a visitor from the consort Prince Rupert: “this day have had the Docker of Cap Spurrell on board to survey a man that was not Well [sic]”; C.1/1058, Ship’s Log, Sea Horse, 1758, 24 July, 1 August, reports “had 22 Estusquemays on board [sic]” and “4 Usquemays [sic]”; 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),  7–8, 38–39; Isaac Cowie, The Company of Adventurers: A Narrative of Seven Years in the Service of the Hudson’s Bay Company during 18671874, On the Great Buffalo Plains with Historical and Biographical notes and comment (Toronto: William Briggs, 1913), 81, 90; Letitia Hargrave, The Letters of Letitia Hargrave,  ed. Margaret Arnett MacLeod(Toronto: Champlain Society, 1947), 65; Finlayson, “Notebook,” 42; 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), 11–12.

[10] See, for example, HBCA, C.1/414, fos. 1b, 2a, 2b, Ships’ Log, King George, 1803, “Officers and Seamen belong to the Ship [sic]”, “Passengers from Orkney for York Fort 1803”, “Passengers returned from York Fort 1803”; C.1/415, fos. 2a, 2b, 3b, 4a, 4b, Ship’s Log, King George, 1804, “A List of the Ships Company [sic]”, “Men from London for York Fort and Severn”, “Men from Orkney for York Fort”, “Men from Orkney for Severn”, “Men returned from York”; C.1/416, fos. 1b, 2a, 2b, Ship’s Log, King George, 1805, “Ships Company 1805”, “Passengers from London for Churchill”, “Passengers from Orkney for Churchill”, “Passengers from Orkney for York Fort”, “Passengers returned from Churchill 1805”, “Passengers return’d from York Fort 1805”; C.1/417, fos. 2b, 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, Ship’s Log, King George, 1806, “Officers and Men”, “Pafsengers [sic] from London and Orkney, for York & Severn”, “SR [Severn River]”, “Pafsengers from London and Orkney, for Churchill 1806 [sic]”, “Pafsengers returned from York & Severn 1806 [sic]”, “Pafsengers return’d from Churchill 1806 [sic]”; C.1/421, Ship’s Log, King George, 1809, “ships co 1809 [sic]”, “Seamen entered on board from the Beaver brig this day,” 17–18 September.

[11] See A.A. Ramsay, “Letters from Letitia Hargrave,” part I, photograph, The Beaver 20, no. 1 (June 1940): 18, for a daguerreotype portrait of Hargrave.

[12] Finlayson, “Notebook,” 14; Hargrave, Letters, 41, 45, 48–49, 52–53, describes Gillespie as “a reddish-hair long raw-looking boy … perfectly educated, he has … done as much towards graduating as M.D. as his years will admit of.” Henry Edward Boulton, chief mate of the Prince Rupertfrom 1839, is described as a “common sailor” who “is or ought to be a genta, a nephew to Govr Pelly & was a midie on the E.I.Coy Service.” See HBCA, C.4/1, Book of Ships’ Movements, 1719–1920, either Henry or James S. Boulton captained the Prince Albert in 1841.

[13] Hargrave, Letters, 49, 52. Finlayson, “Notebook,” 34, does not mention the incident.

[14] William Burney, quoted in Carol Bennett McQuaig, “The Voyage of the ‘John Barry’,” The Beaver 74, no. 1 (February/March 1994): 24, surgeon aboard the John Barry in 1825, he wrote in his journal that during the first days on the Atlantic a number of the migrant Irish women under his care were “tipsy,” for that reason. Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 81, reported prescribing “pills composed of cayenne pepper and bread for the seasickness of the lady’s maid, who derived some physical and, probably, more mental relief therefrom [sic].”

[15] Hargrave, Letters, 58.

[16] Ibid., 19 n.3, 27 n.1, 47, 58, 59, the captain was David Herd, who “had entered the Company’s service in 1834. He was chief officer of the Prince Rupert until 1839, when he was appointed captain.

[17] Ibid., 68. Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 76, 84,  notes that on his voyage the Prince Rupert carried “sixty tons of gunpowder … with bullets and shot in proportion” as cargo, and that consequently “The cook’s caboose on deck was the only place where a fire was allowed, except for a miserable infrequent apology in the saloon – the danger of fire, with so much gunpowder aboard, being the risk always present in the captain’s mind.”

[18] Hargrave, Letters, 67. Finlayson, “Notebook,” 35–36, 39; 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 http://eprints.utas.edu.au/7152/2/ rs_2_2%287%29_John_ Hudspeth_Journal_1816.pdf (accessed 7 October 2008), 26, 6 September, who reported that on colliding with ice: “One blow which she got against a piece of Ice lying aground made every heart to palpitate and every face turn pale, it appears as if the ship’s frame was completely knocked in, so great was the crash; but the force of the blow was received above the water & the damage received will be reparable and without danger”; also Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 89; and Ballantyne, Hudson’s Bay, 14–15, for descriptions of passenger discomfort on account of ship collisions with ice.

[19] Hargrave, Letters, xxxviii, 58, 59.

[20] See R.H. Cockburn, “R.M. Ballantyne (1825–1894),” photograph, Arctic 37, no. 1 (March 1984): 71, of Robert Michael Ballantyne.

[21] Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 78, 80, 82–85; see also Ballantyne, Hudson’s Bay, 4, 8–9, 11–12, 16–17.

[22] 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): 43. Henry M.S. Cotter was born at Little Whale River in 1873, and served the Company at the above named posts from 1889–1912. See Robert Watson, “‘Captain’ Cotter of Cumberland,” The Beaver  9, no. 2 (September 1929): 260–261; HBCA, “Cotter, Henry Martin Stewart (b.1873) (fl.1889–1930),” Biographical Sheet; “Cotter, James Laurence (1839–1889) (fl. 1857–1889),” Biographical Sheet; and Shirlee Ann Smith, “Cotter, James Laurence”, and Dennis Carter-Edwards, “Ironside, George (d. 1831),” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Online edition [DCB] http://www.biographi.ca/EN/index.html (accessed 5 June 2008), James L. Cotter, a notable Company man, was Henry’s father. Henry’s mother was Frances Symington Ironside, a granddaughter of George Ironside and Vocemassussia –– also known as Isabella, who was a relative of the Prophet, Tenskwatawa.

[23] See also Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 78, who recounts that mate of the Prince Rupert, Mr. MacPherson, bragged of being a “ladies’ man” and attempted throughout the voyage “to catch the eye of the lady’s-maid.” Pred, “Social Reproduction,” 11, 13, esp. 14–15, 16–17, describing the role of institutional projects and personal contacts, argues decisions to marry are “inevitably finally due (except in the case of a marriage contract) to an initial daily-path interaction –– an interaction most likely to have been directly or indirectly brought about by the activity bundle requirements of an institutional project. Following his conception of dominant projects and the structuring of relationships, what I am calling ‘social production’ –– the creation of interpersonal bonds – would represent instances of “social transformation” taking place at the scale of the individual who was nevertheless participating in social reproduction at the scale of the institutional project.

[24] See Sager, Seafaring Labour, 87, on the ‘aloofness’ of masters; and Joan Druett, Hen Frigates: Passion and Peril, Nineteenth-Century Women at Sea (New York: Touchstone, 1998), 55–56, 60–61, on the isolation faced by captains’ wives who were averse to breaking with convention; also Dick Wilson, “Below Decks: Seamen and Landsmen Aboard the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Vessels in the Pacific Northwest 1821–50,” in Papers of the 1994 Rupert’s Land Colloquium, ed. Ian MacLaren, Michael Payne, and Heather Rollason (Winnipeg: Centre for Rupert’s Land Studies, 1997), 29, on crew cohesiveness aboard HBC vessels.

[25] See, for example, Creighton, “Fraternity in the American Forecastle,” 545, 549, 557, on the need to ‘pull together’; also Arthur Herman, To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World (New York: Harper Perennial, 2005), 78, 295. Rediker, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, 76, 156, 175, 247, 281, 297, while arguing for sailors’ “consciousness of kind,” notes “Seamen were always more content when everyone shared ‘in the General Toil and Danger’.” W. Jeffrey Bolster, “‘Every Inch a Man’: Gender in the Lives of African American Seamen, 1800–1860,” in  Iron Men, Wooden Women, 140, notes “Atlantic maritime culture … promoted … an assertive foredeck egalitarianism that to some degree diminished the divisiveness of colour. In stridently professing their equality as men, black and white seamen questioned the salience of colour.” Sager, Seafaring Labour, 244, argues for the existence of a type of ‘craft’ consciousness among seafaring labourers based on the complicated demands that keeping the ships going in the right direction within reasonable time-limits presented –– especially in light of the vagaries of environmental and political conditions. People who were adept were therefore admired for their ability. See Vilhelm Aubert and Oddvar Arner, “On the Social Structure of the Ship,” Acta Sociologica 3, no. 300 (1958): 204–205; and David Shackleton, “The Most Important Factor,” Australian Maritime Doctrine, Sea Power Centre-Australia http://www.navy.gov.au/Publication:Australian_ Maritime_ Doctrine (accessed 5 December 2008), 76, 78, for more recent assertions and assessments of crew cohesion, which arises out of a “need for teamwork, the enclosed and confined nature of the shipboard environment and the long and arduous nature of maritime operations.” Arni Ahronson and James E. Cameron, “The Nature and Consequences of Group Cohesion in a Military Sample,” Military Psychology 19, no. 1 (2007): 9–10, 12, 22, note “a great deal of research indicates that group cohesion is related to other important group phenomena, including indicators of organizational functioning such as work group performance, job satisfaction, and reported  well-being” and that “Group cohesion is considered to be ‘a dynamic process that is reflected in the tendency for a group to stick together and remain united in the pursuit of its instrumental objectives and/or for the satisfaction of member affective needs.” They found the results of their study “highlighted the importance of task cohesion (as opposed to social cohesion) in the case of job satisfaction and attraction to the group (as opposed to attraction to the task).” See also Lars Weilsthaeth, “Disaster Psychiatry: How crew react in a crisis can be a matter of life or death,” Beacon 184, no. 1 (2005): 14, who analyzed “positive response expectation” or an individual’s – particularly a sailor’s – expectation that they can contribute to averting danger and securing survival. They found “that people’s immediate reactions, or ‘catastrophe behaviour’, was largely governed by their previous experience of dangerous situations and/or training for such conditions … Factors measured to characterise ‘crisis behavior’ were perceptiveness, thinking, control of feelings and behaviour, ability to cooperate and rescue efforts” constructive reactions also required other factors be in place “such as strong trust in leadership, strong group cohesion, high motivation levels.” Olivia Judson, “The Selfless Gene,” The Atlantic (October 2007): 93–94, 96, describes the tendency towards intra-group cooperation as transhistoric characteristic of human populations.

[26] Hargrave, Letters, 49. See also Edith I. Burley, Servants of the Honourable Company: Work, Discipline, and Conflict in the Hudson’s Bay Company, 17701879 (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1997), 74, who notes that ca. 1789, at least one HBC captain pledged to rehire HBC sailors in need of employment if previous service had left them “without a limb or otherwise infirm.” See also Louis A. Zurcher, “The Sailor Aboard Ship: A Study of Role Behavior in a Total Institution,” Social Forces 43, no. 3 (March 1965): 390, 392–394, for observations on ‘informal organization’ and group cohesion aboard present day naval vessels; and Creighton, “Fraternity in the American Forecastle,” 537, 540, 552; also Nicholas Rodger, cited in Daniel Vickers and Vince Walsh, “Young Men and the Sea: The Sociology of Seafaring in Eighteenth-Century Salem, Massachusetts,” Social History 24, no. 1 (January 1999): 17–18,” for comments on ‘disordered cohesion’ and cooperation on ships of the past and behaviours that challenge ‘Hornblower syndrome’ representations of custom.

[27] See “Jonah,” Appendix C, this thesis. Frederic J. Masback,“Conrad’s Jonahs,” College English 22, no. 5 (February 1961): 328, 330, based on a reading of Conrad as seaman, argues that the biblical passenger, Jonah, symbolized the “nearest thing to an unforgivable sin … a violation of trust, a breaching of the solidarity which should exist between men united in a common endeavor” –– which at sea is seeing ship and entire complement through mortal danger.

[28] Hudspeth, “Journal during Summer in Hudson’s Bay,” 24, 21 August. See also “Cat,” Appendix C, this thesis, the offence was likely threatening to crew safety –– not the drowning of an animal.

[29] Franklin Remington, “York Factory to London 1888,” The Beaver 23, no. 2 (September 1943): 20; see K. Rodahl and T. Moore, “The vitamin A content and toxicity of bear and seal liver,” Biochemical Journal 37, no. 2 (July 1943): 166–68; and Flora Beardy and Robert Coutts, Voices from Hudson Bay: Cree Stories from York Factory (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1996), 39–40, 135 n.55, ingesting polar bear meat may induce illness  –– the liver is toxic –– possibly the seaman’s offence was to risk becoming useless while at sea.

[30] Hudspeth, “Journal during Summer in Hudson’s Bay,” 39, 28 October; see also John Hudspeth, “Journal Continued, The conclusion of a Winter and Commencement of Summer in Hudson’s Bay A.D. 1816,” 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), 6.RS1899/ D32 http://eprints.utas.edu.au/7152/1/rs_2_ 2%286%29_John_Hudspeth_Journal_1816.pdf (accessed 8 October 2008), 4, 21–22 March.

[31] Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 85, 88–89, 90, 94; see also M’Keevor, Voyage to Hudson’s Bay, 11; Ballantyne, Hudson’s Bay, 13, 16–17, boasts “I had become quite a sailor, and could ascend and descend easily to the truck, without creeping through the lubber’s hole” [italics in source]; see also Remington, “York Factory to London,” 19, 20; and David Learmonth, “To Labrador by Sail,” The Beaver 78, no. 2 (April/May 1998): 36.

[32] LAC, Selkirk Papers, John McLeod, letter, Port York, 27 September 1811, 149; see also Learmonth, “To Labrador by Sail,” 36.

[33] LAC, Selkirk Papers, Miles Macdonell, letter, Macdonell to Lord Selkirk, York Factory, 1 October 1811, 46.

[34] William Auld, quoted in John Alwin, “Mode, Pattern and Pulse: Hudson’s Bay Company Transport, 1670–1821,” Ph.D. diss. (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba, 1978), 357–358; LAC, Selkirk Papers, Miles Macdonell , letter, 1 October 1811, 40–57; see also Herbert J. Mays, “Macdonnell, Miles,” DCB, who characterizes Macdonnell as marked by such character faults as: “arrogance and vanity … his inability to inspire trust and loyalty among his people, his obstinacy … his unaccommodating temper, and his lack of staying power. It was these flaws, as well as his lack of shrewdness and diplomatic skill, that led to his failures. Either he never understood his situation, or worse, refused to come to grips with it.”

[35] See, Lise Vogel, “A Woman’s Place,” Mothers on the Job: Maternity Policy in the U.S. Workplace (Piscataway NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1993),9–11; and for example, Druett, Hen Frigates, 28, 31, on female passengers, also 39–40, 44–47, 61, which describe captains’ wives who were active, wearers of practical clothing, and adept at ‘working time’ –– making nautical observation of the ship’s position. Marcus Rediker, “Liberty beneath the Jolly Roger: The lives of Anne Bonny and Mary Read, Pirates,” in Iron Men, Wooden Women, 1–33; and Dianne Dugaw, “Female Sailors Bold: Transvestite Heroines and the Markers of Gender and Class,” in Iron Men, Wooden Women, 34–54, suggest acceptance and belonging could extend to sailorly working women.

[36] Hargrave, Letters, 45, 46, 48, 52 n. 2, Jane was second child and eldest daughter. 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), 173, 178; and Bruce Peel, “Hunter, James,” DCB, note her mother was Mary McBeath from Scotland. Jane married James Hunter –– later a Church of England Archdeacon –– in 1848. Jane/Jean and James Hunter were in England 1854–1855 and in 1865. Peel adds, “The tombstone of James and Jean Hunter in Highgate Cemetery, London, bears this tribute: ‘By their joint labours they gave the Bible and the Prayer Book in their native tongue to the Cree Indians of Northwest America’.” See Robert Coutts, The Road to the Rapids: Nineteenth-Century Church and Society at St. Andrew’s Parish, Red River (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2000), 155, for a photograph of Jane and James after their marriage.

[37] Hargrave, Letters, 52 n.1. HBCA, “Thomas, Thomas Sr. (1766–1828) (fl. 1789–1815),” Biographical Sheet; Bruce Peel, “Thomas, Thomas,” DCB.

[38] Hargrave, Letters, xxxi, 20, 52, Margaret’s mother was Aboriginal, name unknown.

[39] Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 75.

[40] L.G. Thomas, “Fur Traders in Retirement,” The Beaver 59, no. 3 (winter 1979): 16.

[41] Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 75, 489; “The Christie Family and H.B.C.: Builder of Two Fort Garrys and His Seven Descendants Gave Total of 238 Years’ Service to the Company,” The Beaver 3, no. 11 (1923): 417–19; Hartwell Bowsfield, “Christie, Alexander,” DCB; HBCA, “Christie, Alexander ‘C’ (d. 1884) (fl. 1867–1883)”, “Christie, Alexander Junior (b. 1818 ) (fl. 1834–1873),” and “Christie, Alexander (1783–1872)(fl.1809–1853),” Biographical Sheets, note Ann Thomas was a daughter of either John Thomas or Thomas Thomas; see also “Thomas, John Sr. (1751–1822) (fl. 1769–1814),” Biographical Sheet. Also Glenbow Archives, item no. NA-1010-38, “Lydia Christie,” photograph, W. T. Portobello Bashford http://www.imagescanada.ca/r1-115-e.php?sk=594&kwq=hudson+bay&kwf=TRUE& interval=6 (accessed 9 October 2008).

[42] Sylvia Van Kirk, “Many Tender Ties”: Women in Fur-Trade Society in Western Canada, 16701870 (Winnipeg: Watson and Dwyer Publishing, 1980), 152.

[43] Ballantyne, Hudson’s Bay, 7; HBCA, “Charles, John (b. ca. 1784) (fl. 1799–1843),” Biographical Sheet.

[44] HBCA, “Charles, John (b. ca. 1784) (fl. 1799–1843),” and  “Auld, William (b. ca. 1770–post 1830) (fl. 1790–1830),” Biographical Sheets; J.E. Foster, “Auld, William,” DCB, notes that “Little is known of Auld’s “country wife or wives.” He had possibly as many as five children. Robert, Jane, and Mary appear in the parish records of the Anglican mission at the Red River settlement … William and Wilberforce have been identified as sons who left for England in 1820.”

[45] Hargrave, Letters, 52. Coutts, Road to the Rapids, 154–155, notes “It has been stated in a few publications that … Jean Ross was Métis” –– a misinterpretation of one of Letitia Hargrave’s letters “in which she remarks that because of Hunter’s marriage ‘everyone was … appalled’.” He points out the assumption that Hunter’s offence was in not marrying a white woman is mistaken. In fact, “tongues wagged” because the minister waited only eight months after the death of his first wife before remarrying.

[46] See Hargrave, Letters, 35; Van Kirk, “Many Tender Ties,” 160, 163–164; Jennifer S.H. Brown, Strangers in Blood: Fur Trade Company Families in Indian Country (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1980), 130.

[47] Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 66. See also HBCA, “Cowie, Isaac (b. 1848–1917) (fl. 1867–1890)”, “Cowie, James (1853–1913) (fl. 1876–1911),” Biographical Sheets; Barbara A. Johnstone, “Story of a Fur Trader,” Manitoba Pageant 4, no. 2(January 1959) http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/pageant/04/furtrader.shtml (accessed 12 January 2009). Given the Cowie family’s intergenerational involvement with the HBC, the lineage through Robert I. Cowie may have included one or more country wives. Isaac Cowie married a woman of Aboriginal descent – Margaret Jane Sinclair, grand-daughter of William Sinclair and Nahoway. See M. Elizabeth Arthur, “The Concept of the Good Indians: An Albany River 19th Century Managerial Perspective,” Canadian Journal of Native Studies, 5 (1985): 69–71, who remarks that Aboriginal heritage in HBC families seldom received comment, partly because it was assumed, or ‘normal’, and partly because “the characteristic … was not important” –– rather, the ability and willingness to work mattered to HBC record keepers. She cites Governor George Simpson’s definition of ‘Indian’ in 1856, in which he decreed that for Company purposes “‘Indian’ only referred to those brought up in and continuing to live in the forest.” Depending on the cultural characteristics displayed, he asserted people brought up in Hudson’s Bay Company posts “should be classified as ‘whites or half-breeds and not Indians’.” Arthur concludes, of landward HBC policy, that the prevailing “view was not racist in the usual sense of that term. It does not fit the ‘concept of a social predestination deriving from a biological and racial one’.” See also Brown, Strangers in Blood, 193; and Norma J. Hall, “Contesting Identity: A Confrontation with Semantic Paradox in Historiography,” paper presented to Writing New Histories of Indigeneity and Imperialism: A Workshop (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba, 21 May 2008), 13, who argues that there is a “critical relation between contest and identity formation: in a context where contest is absent, identity is not an issue.”

[48] Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 94.

[49] HBCA, C.4/1; “McPherson, John (fl. 1865–1875),” Biographical Sheet.

[50] Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 94.

[51] Brutus, “Diary of an H.B.C. Apprentice Clerk on a Voyage to Hudson Bay,” The Beaver (January 1922): 7, offers a clue to his identity, translating his family motto as, roughly, “Furthest North.”

[52] Ibid., 8, recounts a voyage from St. John’s, Newfoundland, to Montreal, then Wolstenholme, Hudson Bay.

[53] See Van Kirk, “Many Tender Ties,” 140–142; Jennifer Brown, “Ultimate Respectability: Fur-trade Children in the ‘Civilized World” parts I and II, The Beaver 308, no. 3 (winter 1977): 4–10, and no. 4 (spring 1978): 48–55; Thomas, “Fur Traders in Retirement,” 16, 18–20; Barry Cooper, “Alexander Kennedy Isbister, A Respectable Victorian,” Canadian Ethnic Studies 17, no. 2 (1985): 44–63; C. Shaw, “The Kennedys – An Unusual Western Family,” MHS  Transactions,series 3,no. 29(1972–73 season) http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/transactions/3/kennedys.shtml (accessed 7 October 2008), for commentaries on differences, between the communities on land that voyagers encountered in Britain, and the ‘unsettled wilds’ of their birth.

[54] Cowan quoted in Healy, Women of Red River, 190, also 43, counted sixty people aboard; see also 15–52; and N.E. Allen Ronaghan, “Cowan, William,” DCB. Harriet Goldsmith Cowan, née Sinclair, born 1832, was a daughter of James Sinclair and Elizabeth Bird. Irene M. Spry, “Sinclair, James,” DCB. Harriet Cowan’s father was a son of William Sinclair and Nahoway. HBCA, “Bird, James Sr. (ca. 1773–1856) (fl. 1788–1824),” and “Bird James Jr. (ca. 1800–1892) (fl. 1809–1851),” Biographical Sheets; and John E. Foster, “Bird, James,” DCB. Harriet Cowan’s mother, Elizabeth, was the daughter of HBC Chief Factor and Governor of Assiniboia, James Curtis Bird and Elizabeth Montour, a “Swampy Indian.” See, “William Cowan (1818–1902),” Manitoba Historical Society, online biography http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/people/cowan_w.shtml  (accessed 18 December 2008); and Van Kirk, “Many Tender Ties, 233.

[55] Cowan quoted in Healy, Women of Red River, 190, 37–42, 45, 190.

[56] See Ross Mitchell, “Doctor John Bunn,” The Beaver 18, no. 3 (December 1938): 50–51; “The Medical Pooh-Bah of Rupert’s Land,” Manitoba Pageant 6, no. 1 (September 1960) http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/pageant/06/medicalpoohbah.shtml (accessed 13 January 2009); Roy St. George Stubbs, Four Recorders of Rupert’s Land: A Brief Survey of the Hudson’s Bay Company Courts of Rupert’s Land (Winnipeg: Peguis Publishers, 1967), 93. HBCA, “Bunn, Thomas (ca. 1765–1853) (fl. 1797–1853),” and “Bunn, Dr. John (b.ca 1800–1861) (fl. 1819–1824),” Biographical Sheets. John Bunn, born probably at Moose Factory, was son of Thomas Bunn and Sarah McNab –– daughter of surgeon John McNab and Jane ‘Jennie’ Cook. Gail Morin,Métis Families: A Genealogical Compendium, 6 vols. (Orange Park FL: Quentin Publications, 2001), 218, 387–88, 421, 486, 1098; R. Harvey Fleming, ed., “Appendix B,” Minutes of the Council of the Northern Department of Rupert Land 18211831 (London: Hudson’s Bay Record Society, 1940), 432–433, Jane Cook was daughter of William Hemmings Cook and one of several country wives – possibly Kahnawoswamakan Agathe, a Cree woman, or Betsy Wash-e-soo E’Squaw/Agathas/Aggathas Cocking, who in turn was the daughter Matthew Cocking and Ke-che-che-wick. See “John McNab,” Material Histories: Scots and Aboriginal Peoples in the Canadian Fur Trade, Department of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen http://www.abdn.ac.uk/materialhistories/people.php?id=7 (accessed 18 January 2009), for John Bunn’s grandfather, John McNab.

[57] Cockburn, “R.M. Ballantyne,” 71, notes that in the judgment of a “prominent HBC man of that long-lost world: ‘Of the many books of adventure by different writers on life in the wilds, those of R.M. Ballantyne can be placed in the front rank for faithfulness of detail and correctness of observation. His descriptions of conditions are nearly perfect.”

[58] John Bunn, quoted in Mitchell, “Doctor John Bunn,” 51, citing margin notes on page 106–107, 193, of John Playfair, Outlines of Natural Philosophy: Being Heads of Lectures Delivered at the University of Edinburgh, vol. I (Edinburgh: Archibald Constable and Co. … 1814), on physics. HBCA, “Bunn, Dr. John (b.ca 1800–1861) (fl. 1819–1824),” Biographical Sheet, lists Bunn’s year of birth as ca. 1800; H.C. Klassen, “Bunn, John,” DCB, lists “probably” 1802. See also HBCA, “Bunn, Thomas (ca. 1765–1853) (fl. 1797–1853),” Biographical Sheet, John Bunn was cousin to Harriet Cowan by his father’s marriage to Phoebe Sinclair, a daughter of William Sinclair Senior and Nahoway.

[59] W.H. Sharpe, “England After Eleven Years Absence,” The Beaver 2, no. 10 (July 1922): 29. See also Thomas, “Fur Traders in Retirement,” 14–15, 17–18, 20; Brown, Strangers in Blood, 187.

[60] See Edward W. Said, Cultural and Imperialism (New York: Vintage Books, 1994), xxii, who observes, “I do not believe that authors are mechanically determined by ideology, class, or economic history, but authors are, I also believe, very much in the history of their societies, shaping and shaped by that history and their social experience in different measure. Culture and the aesthetic forms it contains derive from historical experience.”

[61] See Ibid., 318, Said notes, “reading and writing texts are never neutral activities: there are interests, powers, passions, pleasures entailed no matter how aesthetic or entertaining the work. … We must take into account all sorts of spatial or geographical and rhetorical practices.”


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