Monday, March 3, 2008

For adventurers, they kept detailed records

The History of the Hudson's Bay Company Archives

By Deidre Simmons

McGill-Queen's University Press, 360 pages, $80

Reviewed by Shelley Sweeney

IN 1815 the Hudson's Bay Company instructed its servants in the New World to keep reports on, among others: buildings, soil, cultivated fields and gardens, fish species, the numbers and occupations of the men, the total numbers of natives, the names of individual chiefs and hunters, the extent of their hunting grounds, and the geography, topography, vegetation and climate surrounding the forts.

Beyond trading fur, in the early days the company was expected to defend and administer occupied lands in the name the sovereign. It supported botanical expeditions and supplied provisions during the Northwest Rebellion.

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