Ships in Hudson Bay as Vehicles of Communication, 1508 – 1920

Accounting for Shipwrecked, Overwintering, and Coastal Vessels

There was more to maritime activity in Hudson Bay than merely recounting the numbers, frequency of arrival, and variety of origins of transatlantic vessels (as presented in Ships to Hudson Bay: Origins of Vessels and Frequency of Voyages, 1508–1920) suggests. Historians of North America as diverse as Harold A. Innis, Eric W. Sager, and James W. Carey have pointed out that while transport technology served as a means of advancing communication, between spatially distant centres and their margins, to affect control, the technology also served as a means of maintaining communication within communities along the margins that allowed resistance.[1] As numerous historians have demonstrated, people of the Atlantic world were inventive: in locations where commercial interests introduced the shipping trade, those interests also organized necessary support systems, increasing opportunities for local access to maritime technology. In turn, local accesses to, and mastery of this technology conferred an ability to create and manage change, thus furthering disparate local interests.[2] With respect to the Atlantic Canadian maritime context, Sager has pointed out that historical shipping records organized to track transatlantic commerce are not necessarily reliable indicators of coastal activity. As my remarks below illustrate, the records held in Hudson’s Bay Company Archives [HBCA] are no different when it comes to researching maritime activity in the Bay.[3] Nevertheless, by referencing the ship lists, this site, I establish that, as in other areas of the Atlantic world, coastal activity in Hudson Bay and associated waters augmented transoceanic maritime activity, further complicating patterns of communication.[4] By presenting evidence that the opportunity for local initiative to shape seaborne communication existed, I demonstrate that understanding the relation of seafarers to historical process requires contextualizing their activity.

Historiographical observations that transatlantic ships into Hudson Bay typically completed voyages “in one shipping season,” imply that, relative to fur trade activity on land, the duration of contact between oceangoing vessels and bayside communities was too brief to be of much consequence.[5] Not all transoceanic vessels in Hudson Bay sailed into the Bay and promptly set out on a return voyage however. Some ships, wrecked before landing, arrived only figuratively: they might have made Hudson Bay, but they did not reach a port. Others, once grounded or sunk offshore, never left the Bay. Sailors managed to refloat some wrecked vessels. They retrieved the HBC schooner Gypsy in 1814, after it had lain submerged off the East Main for an entire winter. The Prince of Wales [II], which, baffled by fog, had run aground on Mansel Island in 1864 was also reclaimed –– though the latter’s consort, the barque Prince Arthur, wrecked on the same date at the same place was not.[6] Some wrecks were partially salvaged. In 1686 Iberville, who had arrived with De Troyes’ victorious overland force, had his English prisoners fashion “some sort of a shallop” out of remnants of the HBC chartered vessel, Success,which had been wrecked the previous year. The prisoners were to be transferred in this modified vessel from Saint-Jacques (formerly Charles Fort), to winter at Saint-Louis (formerly Moussebae, or Moose).[7] The vessel, however, in turn wrecked before reaching its destination.[8] Other ships were more thoroughly and immediately lost to salvage attempts. When caught by ice in Hudson Strait, for example, the Hudson’s Bay [IV] of 1736 promptly sank.[9] Out of the 1,301 ships referred to in Ships to Hudson Bay: Origins of Vessels and Frequency of Voyages, 1508–1920 as setting out towards Hudson Bay, only 1,107 appear to have actually made landfall within Hudson Straight.

Unlike ships that never sailed, or those that turned back before making Hudson Strait, it is possible that vessels wrecked and lost on the Northern Seaboard, even if their crews did not survive, had an impact on the maritime experience of people of the Northern Seaboard. The story of the HBC’s Fort Churchill from 1913 to 1915 is illustrative. Newly arrived from Falmouth, England, the ketch was blown –– unmanned –– from its moorings off York Factory in a gale. It quickly entered local lore as a “bewitched” ship, “racing wildly here and there about the open Bay.”[10] When recovered by the HBC two years later, the vessel’s out-of-the-way berth in the Belcher Islands and missing masts raised suspicions that enterprising Inuit in that area had towed and stowed it for salvage –– spreading stories of wayward sightings to divert attention from their cache. They may have been following salvaging practices of long standing. On finding oak incorporated in the gunwale of a ‘paleo-Eskimo’ umiak, archaeologist Eigil Knuth surmised that Inuit whalers might have been appropriating parts from European vessels as early as the 1650s.[11] During his voyage from 1821 to 1823, William Edward Parry of HMS Fury, had been “excited” to find that Inuit used wood salvaged from wrecked whalers to build sleds.[12] Frederick Schwatka, in his narrative of a voyage aboard the Eothan to Depot Island in 1878, and George S. Garvin, in his journal of the 1878–1879 voyage of the whaler Isabella, both noted the presence of a schooner, the Soowoomba (alias Fort Churchill), sans deck, and under the command of an Inuit identified as Captain Mokko, or Marco. Both also suspected that the vessel had been obtained by less than the “most honest of means.”[13] In the absence of more comprehensive records of past activity –– written, oral, or archaeological –– it is impossible to determine whether wrecked and lost vessels had a widespread impact on local residents, or what sort of impact. Questions remain, for example, as to when and where they may have modified Aboriginal boat building designs or vessel use.[14]

There are other instances of transoceanic voyages that diverged from the pattern of ‘a trip completed in one shipping season.’ Whalers in particular appear to have wintered more often than not. W. Gillies Ross, Alan Cooke, and Clive Holland estimate that of the 146 whaling voyages to Hudson Bay they consider, 105 overwintered –– at least seventy-one percent.[15] Historians of Inuit peoples, such as Ross, Dorothy Harley Eber, and Lance Edwin Davis have found that the resultant contact between American whalers and Inuit groups led to the participation of Inuit individuals in commercial whaling enterprises –– afloat as well as ashore, women and children as well as men.[16] Historians have not undertaken the same type of historical inquiry with respect to other Aboriginal groups. This is perhaps not surprising, given that cursory, quantitative evaluation, of what sparse data on shipping patterns has been organized within existing Western Canadian historiography, tends to support the conclusion that expending effort on further study would be substantially unrewarding. An evaluation of data from the list featured in the ship lists on a purely numerical basis would appear to bear this judgement out.

The ship lists indicate that of approximately 1,107 vessels to arrive in the Bay and associated waters between 1576 and 1920, about 174 overwintered –– meaning temporarily established a berth bayside, as distinct from adopting a permanent station. Twelve of these vessels wintered for more than one year at a time. An additional seventy-six vessels for which data is incomplete, may well have wintered; because they were whalers, or like whalers, the ship’s complement was intent on conducting a particular, seasonally dependent round of activity before returning home; or because records suggest that they were obliged by unforeseen circumstances to wait for a more favourable time to leave. Yet, all told, even assuming the highest possible occurrence –– adding ‘presumed’ French voyages for instance –– these figures indicate that less than twenty-five percent of the vessels to arrive in Hudson Bay and associated waters overwintered.

The percentage of wintering vessels that might have communicated with native inhabitants who were not Inuit is even lower. Fully ninety of the known wintering vessels featured in the lists were whalers that frequented predominantly, if not exclusively Inuit territories. Seventy-two of those to ‘perhaps winter’ were likewise whalers of Inuit-frequented waters.[17] At best, there were possibly eighty-six overwintering ships among non-whaling vessels in non-predominantly Inuit territory between 1576 and 1920. This does not mean that communication between sailors from ships and people from shore was more limited where whalers were less common however. The fact that different groups of people did not share the same kind of exposure to maritime experience does not necessarily mean that they diverged in degree of exposure to maritime experience.

While it may seem at first glance that the ‘Northern Indians’, ‘home guard Indians,’ or ‘Native families’ at bayside trading locations had fewer opportunities for exposure to seafaring than the Inuit ‘Ship Natives’ at whaling stations, there are other kinds of opportunity to consider. From the early years of the HBC enterprise, there were vessels such as the barque Imploy (1672), or the sloops Diligence (1717), and Whalebone (1721), which, having sailed from London, were meant to remain stationed in the more southern reaches of the Bay for several years. Ships such as the Knight frigate, which was stationed bayside 1696–1712, remained for extended periods before eventually returning to London. There were other vessels –– from sloops such as the Beaver [I] (1726), Success [II] (1749), and Union (ca. 1824), to schooner/brigantines such as the Mainwaring (1807), Otter (ca. 1850), and Mink (1874) –– that remained permanently stationed bayside until they were lost, rotted out, or broken up. Then there were the local vessels that were made, and stayed, on the Bay.

Leaving aside indigenous craft, the earliest locally crafted vessel might have been a shallop, which by Thomas Gorst’s account was brought “in plank” to the Bay and there constructed in 1670.[18] Similarly, other vessels, including the sloops Good Success (1717), and Marten [I] (1724), as well as the barge Quicohatch (1733), were sent “in frames” to be assembled bayside. Some, for example the schooner/sloops Phoenix (1744), and Beaver [III] (1828), or the yawl Plover (1870), appear to have incorporated –– at the very least –– locally crafted components, from wooden masts and iron brackets to oakum caulking.[19] Still others, such as the “fine floaty” sloop Albany [III] built at Albany River in 1716,were essentially constructed of bayside materials, including locally procured timber and planking.[20] Because such endeavours were restricted to locations below the treeless ‘barren grounds,’ Inuit did not experience the same degree of exposure to the shipwright’s craft as did peoples of more southerly locations. The concentration of coastal fur trade posts in the lower reaches of the Bay, and at that principally on the West Main, meant that Inuit groups had a lower rate of exposure to vessels dedicated to coastal voyaging.

Whereas coastal voyaging in the southern reaches of the Bay began in the 1670s and continued as a critical component of HBC trade, relatively few HBC craft ventured north above the post at Churchill River. The earliest HBC trading voyages northward along the West Main were carried out from 1719 to 1722, but were intermittent at best by 1737. In that year the Churchill and Musquash failed to find the North West Passage. Two equally fruitless attempts followed: the voyages of the HMS Furnace and HMS Discovery, in 1741, and the Dobbs and California, in 1746. Public agitation against the preservation of the Company’s monopolistic privilege, by HBC critic Arthur Dobbs, inspired all three expeditions. Otherwise, HBC voyaging further northward than Company posts had lapsed. The HBC conducted somewhat regular, if not particularly frequent, exploratory trade voyages to the north of Churchill from 1751, but these ceased after 1790.[21] Up until 1882, when the Company reinstituted some trade further north to counter inroads made by American whalers, official policy dictated that Inuit “desiring to trade” had to bring their goods –– whalebone, oil and hides –– south to Churchill.[22] On the East Main, coastal voyages likewise became routine on the southern reaches of James Bay, but remained sporadic to the north, from Great Whale River to Ungava Bay, until the late nineteenth century. People native to lands adjacent to the more southerly coastal routes of Hudson and James Bays could become accustomed to the coastal maritime traffic while their neighbours to the north could not.[23]

The probable relation of southerly coastal voyaging to local experience is not a readily discernible, determinate feature in existing historiography. Perhaps partly because routine coastal voyaging on the Bay was routine, to date there has been little in the way of systematic study and organization of data pertaining to this activity. Geographer John Alwin, in his examination of HBC transport to 1820 filled some gaps, pointing out the importance ascribed to bayside communication, and in particular describing boat construction and use for inland voyaging.[24] Parks Canada historian Robert Coutts set out to describe late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century HBC coastal transport “in a general way,” while identifying a particular vessel found buried in Sloop Creek at York Factory.[25] Aside from these two works, few published texts do more than refer to coastal voyaging in passing. From Alice M. Johnson and E.E. Rich, to Cooke and Holland, authors differentiate HBC exploration from regular coastal traffic, detailing the former but largely ignoring the latter unless something exceptional happened: a vessel was lost, captured, or used for a non-routine purpose.

The sketchy delineation of coastal voyaging by historians is perhaps not as indicative of disinterest as it is reflective of the dispersed and ambiguous references to coastal activity found in the HBC record base. Some archival documents refer to vessels only obliquely, in that cargo or people ‘sailed’ to another location. Some references are perfunctory, mentions made, for example of ‘the York sloop.’ Some vessels are named, but named differently by separate individuals: James Knight referred to what the London Committee described simply as a yacht, sent out in frames in 1716, as the sloop called the Good Success, while his bayside contemporaries more often referred to it as the hoy Success.[26] Similarly, the Phoenix, built in 1744 at Moose, was described by James Duffield, the post master, as “a handsome sloop,” but Joseph Isbister, master at Albany, called it a schooner and preferred the name Albany.[27] Additionally, methods of record keeping have obscured some references, and more might be missing.

Post masters such as Isbister at Churchill, Albany, and Eastmain from 1748 to 1752, Alexander Light at Moose and Eastmain from 1739 to 1743, and William Falconer at Severn from 1783 to 1786, were sometimes also in command of associated sloops. There are, therefore, instances where a vessel’s log and the journal of the post from which it sailed, or at which it arrived, are contiguous. In such cases, given the mass of HBCA material, it is difficult to find and separate out references to coastal voyaging.[28] There are indications that separate logs once might have existed, in some instances at any rate. The HBC London Committee issued minute instructions to captains regarding the details to record on coastal excursions that were meant to expand trade and to map coastlines.[29] It is not clear, however, whether all coastal voyages generated logs, or that these followed a particularly nautical format. It may be that whether and how the details of a coastal voyage were recorded depended on the work experience of the HBC personnel in charge. Certainly the writings of sloop captain/post masters who had a seafaring past, such as Isbister’s entries in the Eastmain Journals from 1735–1739 and Thomas Alder’s from Big Whale River in 1814–1816, adopt a recognizably nautical air when describing conditions under sail.[30] Nevertheless, these records are nowhere near as exact as those maintained on transatlantic crossings. In instances where Committee instructions to an experienced master clearly required keeping a formal log –– such as those to William Coats in 1749 –– it is likely that detailed logs existed.[31] A contemporary journal, kept by John Marley aboard the Churchill sloop in 1748 and archived among the Churchill Post Journals, follows the format of HBC transoceanic ships’ logs.[32] An earlier journal kept in 1717 by Peter Clemens, master of the Diligence sloop which was destined for coastal service includes elements of a formal log, such as tablature describing latitude and longitude on a daily basis.[33] The journal ends, however, on arrival in the Bay. Possibly journals that were virtually identical to transatlantic ships’ logs were kept on a majority of coastal voyages. Presumably, these were forwarded to the Committee in London, but as with other documents, not all maritime records have survived. Consequently, material evidence confirming the supposition is missing. As historical geographer, Richard I. Ruggles, has pointed out, methods of record management and preservation at the London office of the HBC at times were haphazard.[34] His observation somewhat modifies Arthur Dobb’s accusations that records were missing from public view because Company members were withholding geographical knowledge “that they may ingross a beneficial Trade to themselves [sic].”[35] It may be that accident and nonchalance took a greater toll than avarice, significantly reducing the store of HBC records.

While still in the Company’s service, and in response to Dobb’s published polemic, most particularly to the “incapacity and incompetency [sic]” of its geographical component, William Coats, long-time captain of HBC ships, became concerned that the HBC was less than assiduous in preserving and making “publick, for the use and benefit of mankind [sic],” the findings of its seafarers.[36] As early as 1744, he began compiling sources and making notes, organizing navigational information that he declared was “for the use of my sons.”[37] That he attempted to address the peculiar regard that the HBC apparently paid to maritime documents –– at once seemingly casual and parsimonious –– indicates that circumstances detrimental to document preservation existed. His endeavor is also illustrative of the amount of information about coastal voyaging that has been lost. That he took the precaution of collecting information was fortunate for researchers. He referred not only to his own journals and logs, but also to those of previous navigators such as Luke Foxe and Thomas James (1631); Henry ‘Kelso’ Kelsey, mariner and HBC governor (1684–1722); James Napper, who served the Company variously as carpenter, mariner, and post master (1716–1736); andthe two Michaels Grimington, father and son.[38]

Career outlines for the Grimingtons and Coats illustrate, on the one hand, how three seafarers could accumulate a prodigious amount of varied experience in the Bay, and on the other, how noteworthy the loss of information due to the disappearance of their journals might be.[39] Coats undertook twenty-five voyages from 1727 to 1751. He was master of the Mary [II] (1727), Hannah (1728–1733), Hudson’s Bay [IV] (1734–1736), Mary [III] (1737), Mary [IV] (1738–1749), and King George [I] (1750–1751). The Grimington’s combined careers with the Company spanned the years 1680–1719. One or the other of the two had sailed aboard the Albemarle (1680–1681), Lucy (1682–1683), Diligence (1682–1683), “the Yatch” [sic] (possibly the Colleton,one of the three vessels stationed in James Bay for local service in 1682), John and Thomas (1683–1684), Hayes sloop (1685–1686), Prosperous (1690–1691, formerly known as Dering [I]), Hudson’s Bay [I] (1692–1696), Dering [III] (1697–1699), Pery (1698–1701, and 1711), Hudson’s Bay [II] (1702–1710, and 1712), Prosperous hoy (1714–1716, 1718), and Mary [I] (1719).[40] Like Coats, both Grimingtons had served on transatlantic voyages that overwintered, sometimes sailing together on the same ship, often wintering in ‘Grimington’s Bay.’ They also undertook coastal voyages.[41] The senior Grimington was regarded as an asset to Company and Crown due to his knowledge of “Navigation of the Bay.” [42] Like his father, the younger Grimington had served as a slooper, though he did not earn accolades for his performance. Coats obviously made use of the Grimingtons’ observations, but they are incorporated into his text so as to be virtually indistinguishable from his general observations and instructions describing landmarks, channels, and hazards –– the “many embarrissments [sic]” –– to avoid.[43] He gives no indication of what became of the original logbooks, journals, and charts that he used in compiling his notes. Any sense of the actual contributions made by the individual seafarers –– whether to the overall knowledge base, or to the success of their vessels’ journeys –– is lost, along with any sense of distinct personality.

A copy of Coats’ notes about Bay voyaging eventually found their way into the private collection of Sir William Edward Parry, who allowed their publication in 1852.[44] Thereafter that manuscript “disappeared.”[45] Only one copy of a Coats logbook survives in the HBC Archives –– that of his last voyage.[46] Next to no discreet logs for vessels with which the Grimingtons were associated survive. An exception is the younger’s, “A Journall of our Wintering with the Prosperos Hoye M.G. Mastr In Compy wth ye Port Nelson [sic],” written while he had command of the Prosperous (alias Dering [I]). It includes nautical notations, but is part of the Albany Post Journal for 1715–1716.[47] That records of coastal voyages were not organized and saved as a separate class of documents by either the HBC or their archivists means that what references remain are scattered throughout the vast collection of records, journals, correspondence, accounts, reports, and miscellaneous ephemera. The diffusion presents logistical problems for researchers. As Robert Coutts commented, the archival material pertaining to York Factory alone is “enormous.”[48] In consequence, he only partially sampled it in the course of his research. The problem of lost documents and scattered references in a formidable collection may contribute to the impression, left by surveying relevant secondary literature, that there were few coastal voyages on which to comment.

The ship lists of vessels in, or voyaging to Hudson Bay and associated waters that form the basis for the argument of this chapter is the product of incomplete records, particularly with respect to coastal voyages. It is, therefore, imperfectly representative of the number of opportunities available to local inhabitants of the Bay to expand their maritime experience. Nevertheless, the list does indicate that locally based craft increased such opportunities. The number, arrived at in Ships to Hudson Bay: Origins of Vessels and Frequency of Voyages, 1508–1920, of vessels that landed in the Bay and associated waters from outside ports from 1576 to 1920 rises from 1,107 to 1,185 with the inclusion of twenty-one smaller vessels destined for local service, and the addition of at least thirty-one vessels constructed bayside, along with some twenty-six listed as present in the Bay but without an indication of how they came to be in the area. There is not enough information to quantify precisely the duration of service for many of these vessels. A coastal sloop, such as the Moose River[I] (1730–1750), or Beaver[II] –– in the Bay 1780–1787, 1789, 1791–1792, 1793–1813 –– might put in twenty years of bayside sailing. Alternatively –– as the durations of the careers of the Princess ketch (1892–1896), and the schooner Village Belle (1914–1916) illustrate –– coastal vessels, like their transatlantic counterparts, were subject to disaster and re-assignment and may have served locally only a few years.

On its own, the incidence of coastal voyaging, or the number of vessels wintering may not appear impressive, just as alone the frequency and number of HBC supply voyages recounted in Ships to Hudson Bay: Origins of Vessels and Frequency of Voyages, 1508–1920 may seem unimpressive relative to other, contemporary shipping destinations. Nonetheless, at a regional scale the impact would have been relatively profound. The people who populated the land accessed by foreign vessels were comparatively few in number, thinly distributed, and migratory over a vast territorial area. They communicated by way of trade and story with distant peoples. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that introduction of trade ships with coastal support would have increased awareness of, access to, and incorporation into local practice of new shipping technologies for a proportionately large number of individuals. Due to the problematic record base, exact figures will likely remain elusive, but indications are that from 1508 to 1920 there were upwards of 1,185 vessels to be seen and possibly boarded by inhabitants of regions adjacent to Hudson Bay and associated waters. The circumstance of naval escorts travelling with HBC convoys towards and away from Hudson Bay suggests that people of the area may well have heard stories about at least seventy-two more. Although it is easy to reduce the relation of the number of vessels over the number of years to an average number of potentially seen and heard in the course of a year –– 1,257 over 412 years, yielding three per year, for example –– in my opinion, the impulse is best resisted. The number does not adequately represent changes to patterns of communication over time. Understanding the impact of sea-borne communication on the experience of people of Hudson Bay and associated waters requires consideration of not only the frequency, numbers, and varieties of water-borne transportation that individuals on the Northern Seaboard might have encountered, but the duration of that availability.

Factoring in the duration of availability of opportunities to encounter vessels in Hudson Bay and associated waters suggests that exposure to foreign maritime technology allowed material and technology transfer beyond what was afforded by relatively brief encounters with transoceanic supply ships. The range of maritime activity that existed allowed both indirect and intimate communication. Indirectly, an unknown number of vessels wrecked and lost on the Northern Seaboard contributed to available opportunities for local inhabitants to access foreign maritime technology. Within Hudson Bay, to different degrees for different groups, intimate communication with American whaling vessels from 1860 to 1919 displaced the probability of European influence being the only, or even the predominant, foreign influence. At bayside trading locations where contact with whalers was limited, locally based and crafted vessels expanded opportunities for communication between ‘Northern Indians’, ‘home guard Indians,’ or ‘Native families’ and seafarers. Indications are that the amount of shipping in Hudson Bay and associated waters was high enough that, through direct and indirect communication, people of Hudson Bay experienced substantial material and behavioural changes over time. Access to, and mastery of, technology of non-indigenous origin conferred an ability to enhance maritime mobility and increase maritime activity at the individual and community level throughout Hudson Bay and associated waters.

[1] See for example, Harold A. Innis, The Bias of Communication (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1951; reprint, with introduction by Marshall McLuhan, 1964), 4, 5, 10, 11, 15, 16, 76–77; and  Harold A. Innis, Empire and Communications, Books That Explore Canada Series (1950; reissued, ed. Mary Quayle Innis, University of Toronto Press, 1972: reprint, with new introduction, ed.Alexander John Watson, Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2007), 26, 27, 30, 39, who considers not only media –– including languages –– but the technology associated with producing and transporting media as vehicles of communication; Eric W. Sager, Seafaring Labour: The Merchant Marine of Atlantic Canada, 18201914 (Montréal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1989), 11, 44–46, 66; James W. Carey, Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society, Media and Popular Culture Series(Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1989; reprint, New York: Routledge, 1992), 2–3, 4; also Colin Divall, review of Institutions in the Transport and Communications Industries: State and Private Actors in the Making of Institutional Patterns, 18501990, ed. Lena Anderson-Skog and Olle Krantz, Technology and Culture 41, no. 3 (July 2000): 635-636, who comments on technology as factor in communication and structuration. He notes that Michael Robbins argued that without “a thorough knowledge of transport technologies and techniques … historians ran the risk of drawing nonsensical conclusions from their studies.”

[2] For comments on the importance of coastal shipping to diverse ports of the Atlantic world, see Margaret E. Shepherd and Nigel Goose, From Hellgill to Bridge End: Aspects of Economic and Social Change in the Upper Eden Valley 1840-95 (Hatfield UK.: University of Hertfordshire Press, 2005), 177–179; Ralph D. Paine, “Bound Coastwise,” The Old Merchant Marine, vol. 36, Chronicles of America Series, ed. Allen Johnson (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1921), 76–77; Sager, Seafaring Labour, 21; Paul Dickinson, “Smith’s coasters: The Shipping Interests of C.G. Smith 1889–1966,” South African Journal of Economic History 3, no. 1 (1988): 20–32.

[3] Sager, Seafaring Labour, 21, observes that data from shipping records “underestimates the importance of North American coastal passages” because often they were not recorded. He estimates coastal vessels might have made up as much as eighty-five percent of all tonnage entering a port. Of the Atlantic Canadian shipping examined, he concluded, “a majority of sailors in the industry spent most of their time in coastal waters.” See also Paine, The Old Merchant Marine, 77, who observed, “The coasting trade has been overlooked in song and story.”

[4] Canada, Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Report, Hudson Bay Gateway Shortsea Shipping Workshop, 24 November 2003 (Winnipeg MB, 2003)  (accessed 26 November 2008), 5, describes coastal shipping in Hudson Bay –– short sea shipping [SSS] –– as “a concept with a long history that is being re-examined” to forward the interests of Northern communities. The report argues, “SSS should assure that communities in Nunavut and the Bay region have access to multiple port points and marine options which permit them to source supplies from all parts of the nation. This also means that all parts of the country have a means, via appropriate transport and marine links, to trade with Nunavut, and to compete for supply contracts.” Transport Canada, “Short Sea Shipping Market Study,” Report (TP 14472E), (MariNova Consulting Ltd., 2005) (accessed 26 November 2008), presents short sea shipping as a competitive transport strategy.

[5] Judith Hudson Beattie and Helen M. Buss, eds., Undelivered Letters to Hudson’s Bay Company Men on the Northwest Coast of America, 1830-57 (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2003), 13; see also A.J.W. Catchpole and Marcia-Anne Faurer, “Ships’ Log-Books, Sea Ice and the Cold Summer of 1816 in Hudson Bay and Its Approaches,” Arctic 38, no. 2 (June 1985): 121.

[6] HBCA, B.372/a/1, Great Whale River Post Journal, 1814–1815, Thomas Alder, “Whale River Journal, 1814/15,” 9 July; W. Gillies Ross, Whaling and Eskimos: Hudson Bay 18601915 (Ottawa: National Museums of Canada, 1975), 43; Charles N. Bell, “Navigation of Hudson Bay and Straits,” MHS Transactions,1st ser., no. 7 (read 10 May 1883). See also John Macfie, “Centenary at Severn House 1770,” The Beaver 49, no. 4 (spring, 1970): 46, 47, on the sinking and salvaging of the Severn sloop; 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.

[7] Charles Bayly quoted in John Clapham, Minutes of the Hudson’s Bay Company, 1671–1674, ed. E.E. Rich (Toronto: Champlain Society, 1942), 19, supplies the early name for Moose; 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: with an appendix containing extracts from the log of Capt. Middleton on his voyage for the discovery of the North-west passage in H.M.S. Furnace in 1741–2, ed. John Barrow (London: Hakluyt Society, 1852), 49, expresses a preference for ‘Indian’ place names for their descriptive content and renders Moose as Moose-e-sepee, “from the abundance of those deer,” adding that it is also called “Nimmow-e-sepee, from the abundance of sturgeon in it.”

[8] E.E. Rich, The History of the Hudson’s Bay Company, 16701870 vol. 1 (London: Hudson’s Bay Record Society, 1958), 209, 242.

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

[10] W.B. Cameron, “Runaway Ship,” The Beaver 28, no. 1 (June 1948): 5, 9. Ernest Renouf, “Salvage: Being the Story of the Search for and the Reclamation of the Lost Schooner, ‘Fort Churchill,’ and Incidentally a Few Observations Concerning the Customs of the Belcher Islands Eskimos,” The Beaver 2, no. 2 (1921):16–21; and Cameron, “Runaway Ship,”6.

[11] Eigil Knuth, “An Outline of the Archeology of Peary Land,” Arctic 5, no. 1 (March 1952): 17–33; and Eigil Knuth, “The Paleo-Eskimo Culture of Northeast Greenland Elucidated by Three New Sites,” American Antiquity 19, no. 4 (April 1954): 367–381.

[12] William Edward Parry, Journal of a Second Voyage for the Discovery of a North-west Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific; Performed in the Years 1921-22-23 (New York: E. Duyckinck, G. Long, Collins and Co., Collins and Hannay, W.B. Gilley, and Henry I. Megarey, 1824), 360.

[13] Ross, Whaling and Eskimos,93.

[14] See Ibid., 87–93, 147 nn. 2, 3, 7; also Peter Pitseolak and Dorothy Eber, with Ann Hanson trans., People from Our Side: A Life Story with Photographs (Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 1975; reprint with new preface, Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1993), 20, 75, 98, who show the longevity of Inuit technology. See also “Kayak under sail. Manitounuk Island, Hudson Bay,” photograph, 1927, item no. 72-81-7-1-9-9, L.T.B. (Dept. of the Interior, Northwest Territories and Yukon Branch), Louis Auguste Romanet Fonds, University of Alberta Archives main.aspx?ItemName= 72-81-7-1-9-9 (accessed 5 June 2007). See Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Report, vol. 1, Looking Forward, Looking Back (Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services Canada, 1996), cached at Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (accessed 28 Feb. 2009), pdf., p. 8. For this thesis, the term ‘Aboriginal’ signifies an individual or group that belonged by birth and/or by association to “organic political and cultural entities that stem historically from the original peoples of North America.” According to this definition, Aboriginality is not based on ‘race.’

[15] Ross, Whaling and Eskimos,21;Alan Cooke and Clive Holland, The Exploration of Northern Canada: 500 to 1920, A Chronology (Toronto: Arctic History Press, 1978), 220.

[16] Ross, Whaling and Eskimos,21, 52, 60, 77–85; Dorothy Harley Eber, ed., When Whalers were Up North: Inuit Memories from the Eastern Arctic (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1989); Lance Edwin Davis, Robert E. Gallman, and Karin Gleiter, In Pursuit of Leviathan: Technology, Institutions, Productivity, and Profits in American Whaling (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 4, 39, 40, 52. For additional references to ‘sailing Eskimos,’ see: L.T. Reichel, “Report of the Visitation of the Mission in Labrador … in the Summer of the Year 1876,” Periodical Accounts 30/31, no. 4 (1877): 145–156, translated from Missions-Blatt der Bruedergemeine texts/reichel2.html (accessed: 4 June 2007); R.N. Hourde, “Sophisticated Eskimos,” The Beaver 32, no. 2 (September 1952): 36–37; and Philip Goldring, “Inuit Economic Responses to Euro-American Contacts: Southeast Baffin Island, 1824–1940,” in Historical Papers 21, no. 1 ed. Dana Johnson and Louise Ouellette (Ottawa: Canadian Historical Association/ La Société historique du Canada, 1986), 151–152, 157, 161–162, 167–168, 171.

[17] See Ross, Whaling and Eskimos, 41, 55, 58–59, 60.

[18] Rich, History, vol. I, 67. See Alice M. Johnson, “Thomas Gorst,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Online edition [DCB] (accessed 2004–2008), who notes that Gorst sailed aboard the Prince Rupert in 1670 and kept a journal of his stay at Charles Fort for the trading season of 1670–1671. The exact whereabouts of the journal is a mystery. Likely Rich relied on John Oldmixon, The British Empire in America, containing the history of the discovering, settlement, progress and state of the British Colonies on the continent and the islands of America, vol. 1 (London: 1708).

[19] See HBCA, B.372/a/1, Great Whale River Post Journal, 1814/15, Thomas Alder.

[20] Thomas McCliesh, letter, Albany Fort, 20 August 1717, in Letters from Hudson Bay, 1703–40, ed. K.G. Davies, with A.M. Johnson (London: Hudson’s Bay Record Society, 1965), 72.

[21] See for example, HBCA, B.42/a/47, Fort Churchill Post Journal, John McBean, “NE Journal of the most material Occurrances [sic] on board the Churchill Sloop from 11 July to 23d Augst. 1756 Kept by John Mcbean Master”.

[22] Ross, Whaling and Eskimos, 3132; John Alwin, “Mode, Pattern and Pulse: Hudson’s Bay Company Transport, 16701821,” Ph.D. diss. (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba, 1978), 1, 4, 10, 37, 67; Richard I. Ruggles, A Country So Interesting: The Hudson’s Bay Company and Two Centuries of Mapping 16701870 (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1991), 33, 41; Rich, History of the Hudson’s Bay Company, vol. I, 559–561.

[23] K.G. Davies, ed., with A.M. Johnson, Northern Quebec and Labrador Journals and Correspondence, 1819–35 (London: Hudson’s Bay Record Society, 1963), lii–lxxviii; Ruggles, Country So Interesting, 3335.

[24] Alwin, “Mode, Pattern and Pulse,” 66, notes, for example, that “Such was the importance of Bayside sloops that commodores, or masters of each, were made members of the governing council at the post where the sloop was based.”

[25] Robert Coutts, “Buried on the Bay: The Sloop Creek Schooner at York Factory and Hudson’s Bay Company Marine Transport, 18781915,” Papers presented at the Rupert’s Land Colloquium, Edmonton, 1994 (Winnipeg: Centre for Rupert’s Land Studies, 1994): 319–332.

[26] HBCA, A.1/33, fos. 124, 199d; A.6/3, fo. 133; B.239/a/2, 711 September 1716; B.42/a/1, 10 July 1721, cited in Davies with Johnson, Letters from Hudson Bay, 59 n. 6.

[27] Rich, History of the Hudson’s Bay Company, vol. I, 617.

[28] Joseph Isbister was chief factor at Fort Prince of Wales, 17481752 and kept the post journal, see HBCA, B.42/a/32-34, 36, 38. In 1752 he became chief factor of Albany and kept its post journal, 17531756, see B.3/a/34-35, 37, 46-48. From 1748 to 1752 he also kept the Eastmain journal, which includes ships’ logs for the Beaver and Moose, see B.59/a/1-4. Alexander Light, master and trader working out of the Moose sloop, was also de facto master of the (floating) Eastmain Post, 17381743. From 1739 to 1743, he kept the journals: Moose Factory, District Statements, see B.135/1/9; and Eastmain Post Journals, see B.59/a/5-7. William Falconer was sloopmaster of the Severn as early as 1764. After release from capture by the French in 1782, he became master at Severn and of the Severn, 17831786, see B.198/a/2933.

[29] See, HBCA, A.6/3, 1-87, Official General Outward Correspondence, 1679–1910, passim.

[30] See HBCA, B.59/a/1-9, Eastmain Post Journals,1736–1744, for Isbister; B.372/a/1-6, Great Whale River Post Journals, 18141865, contains Thomas Alder’s record of coastal voyaging from Eastmain, 18141816.

[31] HBCA, A.6/8, fos. 19-24d, 17491754, quoted in Ruggles, Country So Interesting, 16, see also 3435.

[32] HBCA, B.42/a/33, Fort Churchill Post Journal, 1748–1749, John Marley, “A Journal of the Remarks at Prince of Wales’s Fort pr [sic] Jno. Marley 1748.”

[33] HBCA, B.3/a/8, Albany Post Journal, 1717, Peter Clemens, “A Journall One Borde ye Dilligenc Sloop By Godss  Assistance From Church hle [sic] Towards Albany Rivor In Hudsons Bay So God Send us a Good Voige: Amen.”

[34] Ruggles, Country So Interesting, 3. See also Deidre Simmons, Keepers of the Record: The History of the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2008), 2628, on instructions to sea captains regarding journals.

[35] Arthur Dobbs, An Account of the Countries ajoining to Hudson’s Bay, in the North-west Part of America: Containing a Description of their Lakes and Rivers, the Nature of the Soil and Climates, and their Methods of Commerce, &c. Shewing the Benefit to be made by settling Colonies, and opening a Trade in these Parts; whereby the French will be deprived in a great Measure of their Traffic in Furs, and the Communication between Canada and the Mississippi be cut off [sic] (London: J. Robinson, 1744), 2.

[36] See Coats, Geography, 1–4, for his assessment of Dobb’s accusations of Company secrecy.

[37] Ibid., ii, see also 9, 58, 59, 92.

[38] Ibid., 27, 58. Coats apparently used Luke Foxe, North-West Fox, Or Fox from the North-West Passage (London, 1635), a “rare and curious work,” based on the original journal, the whereabouts of  which was a mystery by 1888. See Miller Christy, “Capt. Luke Foxe,” Notes and Queries, 7th ser., vol. 6 (22 September 1888): 228; also William F. E. Moreley, “Fox, James,” DCB. Coats also refers to John Harris, Navigantium atque Itinerarium Bibliotheca. Or, a Complete Collection of Voyages and Travels 2 vols. (London: 1764). Whether Coats relied on the journals of one or both Grimingtons is unclear. Oddly, Barrow, the editor, was unable to find any reference to either man in the HBC records. Alice M. Johnson, “Grimington Michael (d. 1710)”; and “Grimington Michael (fl. 1698–1719),” DCB, observes that the father had been a seaman with the HBC from at least 1680 –– when he served aboard the Albemarle –– and served as a mate on coastal voyages from 1682 to 1687 until taken prisoner by Iberville’s forces. The Company successfully petitioned for the release of this “excellent Seaman in those parts.” He continued to serve after his release in 1688 and was master (carrying letters of marque), on voyages from 1690 to 1710. The son served as a seaman –– principally coastal –– from 1698 to 1718. He commanded the Prosperous hoy from 1714 to 1718 –– excepting the northern voyage of 1716, which was conducted by David Vaughan.

[39] Of interest, with respect to original journals, is the entry by K. G. Davies, “Kelsey, Henry,” DCB, who notes that The Kelsey Papers (Doughty and Martin), “were not known to historians before 1926,” and aspects of their provenance and authorship remain a mystery.

[40] Johnson, “Grimington, Michael (d. 1710)” DCB. Cameron, “Ships of Three Centuries,” 10, notes that Company spellings included “yaught,” from the Dutch jaght.

[41] Coats, Geography, 63, puts Grimington Bay on the East Main in latitude 53o 10′.

[42] Johnson, “Grimington Michael (d. 1710),” DCB.

[43] See Coats, Geography, 78–84; the quote is found on 52.

[44] Ibid., x, 59.

[45] Glydwr Williams, “Coats, William,” DCB.

[46] HBCA, C.1/360-361, Ship’s Logs, King George, 1751–1752, details the journey from London to Fort Richmond on the East Main.

[47] HBCA, B.3/a/7, Albany Post Journal, 1715–1716, “Mich Grimington’s Journall of the Prosperous anno 1715. From Albany River to Bayleys Island,” headed: “A Journall of our Wintering with the Prosperos Hoye M.G. Mastr In Compy wth ye Port Nelson.” K.G. Davies, “Kelsey, Henry,” DCB, notesthat The Kelsey Papers include part of a voyage in the Dering [III] under ‘Old’ Michael Grimington, 1698.

[48] Coutts, “Buried on the Bay,” 320.


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