Fur Trade Records
Fur trade records provide the earliest mention of a people distinct from the European and Indian populations. Before the 1790s they are rarely identified by name. Two books that discuss the role of intermarriage between traders and native women and their children are: Strangers In Blood: fur trade families in Indian Country and Many Tender Ties: women in fur-trade society, 1670 – 1870. Both books provide examples of particular families who were associated with the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company. Portions of both books are found online at Google Books.
- Brown, Jennifer S. H. Strangers In Blood: fur trade families in Indian Country.
Vancouver: UBC Press, 1980.
- Van Kirk, Sylvia. Many Tender Ties: women in fur-trade society, 1670 – 1870.
Winnipeg: Watson & Dywer, 1980.
The fur trade records in the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives (HBCA) enable one to view the records that were created at the various trading posts. Those records that have been microfilmed are available through Interlibrary Loan. To find the records select the “Search” tab. The HBCA Post Map shows the location of the post. When you select a post it takes you to the site that shows what records exist for that post. The online finding aid describes the kinds of records found in each of the record types. Note if there are Lists of Servants” or “Miscellaneous Records”.
Of interest is the tab “HBCA Biographical Sheets.” Hudson’s Bay Company Archives staff created these to provide employment information on individuals who were employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) and/or the North West Company. Biographical sheets outline the person's employment history and may also include the parish of origin or place of birth; positions, posts and districts in which the person served; family information, if available; and references to related documents, including photographs or drawings. Biographical sheets have not been created for every employee. When the birthplace of an employee is given as ‘native’, ‘Rupert’s Land’ or ‘Hudson’s Bay’ the inference is the individual was born on land held by the company.
Volume One of Biographical Resources at the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives provides detailed descriptions about the Fur Trade records. There often are examples of the records showing the kind of information that one is likely to find. The microfilm numbers are given for each item discussed. A number of pages contain names of those who are mentioned in the North West Company records.
Volume Two of Biographical Resources at the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives continues with the operations beyond 1870 and deals with the settlement in the Red River and the movement to the Pacific Northwest and the Pacific areas. It also highlights other operations than the fur trade. Many of the employees were descendants of the fur trader. There are examples of documents showing why they are important and how to locate them in the records. Some sections have lists of names in the records. There is an extensive index.
Copies of these books are found in many libraries and can be borrowed through Interlibrary Loan. They are available for purchase from the Manitoba Genealogical Society
- Briggs, Elizabeth and Anne Morton. Biographical Resources at the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives. Volume One and Two.
Winnipeg: Westgarth,1996 and 2003.
- The Champlain Society Journal. - some in digital format.
- Hudson’s Bay Record Society publications. Find under “Search – Information Sheets” on the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives website.