A History of Canadian Wealth/Chapter VIII
To the individual (or as they were termed, the “independent”) traders and to the merchants, factory and mill owners, commercial and railway men, there still remained a large and irritating survival of feudalistic times. In that era when full and unrestricted competition in trade and the widest latitude for the exercise of trading, manufacturing and commercial operations were increasingly considered indispensable to the unhindered development of capital and individual enterprise, the interest of these elements demanded that all feudal barriers be removed.
This particular survival was the monopoly and exclusive powers claimed and enforced by the Hudson’s Bay Company. We have seen how, after a long and furious contest, signalized by extensive competitive debauching of the Indian tribes with rum, and by fraud, force, and, bloodshed, the North West Company had merged into the Hudson’s Bay Company. We have seen also how the Hudson’s Bay Company then had secured an exclusive license of trade for 21 years. In 1838, this exclusive license was renewed for 21 years more. The Company now sought to have this monopoly renewed again.
Company Seeks a Renewal of Its Monopoly
The chief argument that it advanced, in 1857, why its monopoly should be renewed was that when there was competition the result was the widespread use of liquor to stupefy and defraud the Indians, and the impossibility of the missionaries peacefully carrying on their work of diffusing civilization and Christianity among the aborigines.
Thus, despite its persistent record of nearly two centuries, the Company, it was sharply pointed out, thrust itself forward in the sanctimonious guise of an errant of colonization and civilization, claiming morality and religion as its chief aims. Concurrently, it never neglected an opportunity, however, of insisting upon and reiterating its ancient exclusive rights and privileges derived from Charles II — rights and privileges which, it declared, were still valid and binding.
But times had greatly altered. The Company now found itself confronted by numbers of hostile small capitalists who, banded in associations and boards of trade, saw clearly that if the resources of the country were to be developed by individual initiative and enterprise, the exclusive sway of the Hudson’s Bay Company would have to be terminated and its monopoly effaced, as was happening to the feudalism of the seigneurs and the Church. These aggregated individual capitalists, with all the fresh and determined aggressiveness of their age, set out to fight the claims of the Hudson’s Bay Company and to rid themselves of its monopoly. Supporting them were the independent small traders and the proprietary farmers.
They did not lack ample material with which to expose what they energetically charged was the hollowness of the pretenses put forward by the Hudson’s Bay Company that by its monopoly it had been able to suppress the use of liquor and to carry on its christianizing operations among the Indians. In the elaborate investigation made by the British Parliamentary Committee, in 1857, the evidence as to the long-continued practices of that Company was so thorough and so conclusive that it seems a matter of great wonderment how it happened that such damaging testimony was allowed to be embedded in the permanent records, considering that many of the British aristocracy, including members of Parliament, were at that very time shareholders in the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Treatment of the Indians
The principal witness for the Company, Edward Ellice, himself a member of the House of Commons and of the Select Parliamentary Committee, took great pains in his attempt to show that the merger of the two companies had been extremely salutary. The effect, he said, “ has been beneficial to every party interested. It has been beneficial to the Indians ; quiet has been universally restored.”
Q. “ Might not the necessary effect of the whole of the fur trade being in the hands of a single company be to place the Indians entirely at the mercy of that Company with regard to the price which is given them for their furs ? ”
A. “ Of course, it must be so ; it must either place them at the mercy of this Company, or leave them at the mercy of whichever competitor for the trade shall give them the most gin or rum, to set them at war one with the other.”
If competition should be restored, Ellice added, the employment of rum would be so inevitable that it would be impossible to prevent it ; the Hudson’s Bay Company, he averred, had taken every possible precaution to prevent the introduction of spirits, but (said he) if an American came across the border, and if there was a trade contest, the article invariably used to corrupt the Indians was spirits.1
On the other hand, a protest made by the United States Government, in 1850, against the debauching of the Indians on the frontier by the Hudson’s Bay Company, was laid before the Committee. This protest, handed to Lord Palmerston by Abbott Lawrence of the United States Legation, at London, had stated that, “ Representations have been made to the Government of the United States from reliable sources that the Hudson’s Bay Company annually furnished to the Indians on the north-west frontier of the United States, large quantities of spirituous liquor, endangering thereby the peace of the border, as well as corrupting the Indians themselves.”
Lawrence enclosed a letter, dated December 8, 1849, from Congressman Henry W. Sibley, reading : “ There exists on our north-west boundary a state of things which calls imperatively for the interference of the Government. I refer to the immense amount of spirituous liquor which is imported by the Hudson’s Bay Company annually, not only for their trade in the British possessions, but which is furnished to the Indians who reside and hunt within the limits of the United States. That this evil exists to a very great extent, and renders null all of the efforts of our Government to prevent the introduction of ardent spirits into the Indian country, is a fact which can be established by incontestable testimony, and has already been made the subject of memorials to the proper department. . . .”2
The Hudson’s Bay Company, through its governor, Sir John Pelly, replied throwing the blame upon the American traders. But it was a significant coincidence that a year and three months after the protest of the United States Government, the Council of the Hudson’s Bay Company for the southern department of Rupert’s Land, issued an order, May 30, 1851, that after that date no liquor was to be sold from Moose Depot to the Company’s officers or servants, or to Indians, or to strangers.3
Widespread Use of Rum
The drenching of the Indian tribes with liquor seems to have gone on as briskly and indomitably in the east of Canada as in the remote stretches of the west. In the vast western expanses, the Hudson’s Bay Company was law-maker and law-enforcer, and its officials were supreme dictators. In the older-settled Eastern Provinces it likewise violated laws, and when it did so, it often commanded the support of the very officials whose duty it was to enforce the law.
This was instanced in a notable case in 1831 in the proceedings of the Legislature of Lower Canada (Quebec) against James Stuart, Attorney-General of that Province. One William Lamson had a lease of a stretch of 95 leagues of land, with the exclusive right of trading with the Indians. According to the report of the Legislative Committee on Grievances, the partners and employes of the Hudson’s Bay Company assaulted, drove out, arrested and imprisoned Lamson’s men, destroyed their huts, then plied the Indians with liquor, debauching and intoxicating them, and seized and took away their furs. When Lamson went to bring criminal action he found, “to his great surprise and mortification” that Attorney-General James Stuart had been retained as private counsel and attorney for the Hudson’s Bay Company, and that he had constituted himself as their advocate. The Assembly passed resolutions calling for Stuart’s dismissal ; he was suspended, March 28, 1831, by the Governor-in-Chief, Lord Dalhousie.
Liquor Indispensable to Trade
Many of the tribes on the Lower St. Lawrence were employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company ; and as to conditions among the Nipissing, Algonquin and Iroquois tribes, a special Quebec Commission reported in 1858 that, “ The unlimited use of ardent spirits, however, seems to be the great check to their advancement. On returning to their settlements with their peltries, everything is sacrificed to the gratification of this passion, and the whites even find it to their advantage to follow them into remote hunting grounds, in order, by pandering to their infatuation for liquor, to obtain, at an almost nominal rate, the fruits of months of toil.”4
At the same time Fathers T. Hannipeaux and M. Ferard, Roman Catholic missionaries on Manitoulin Island, reported, in August, 1857, that, “ Our Indians are not of themselves addicted to drink, but they are supplied with liquor . . . The greater part of these bands subsist by hunting and fishing, and by selling their furs to the Traders of the Hudson’s Bay Company. . . . To all who have at all studied the history of the Tribes formerly inhabiting these tracts of land, now so depopulated, it is as evident as that two and two make four that whiskey has destroyed a greater number of Indians than either war or disease.” The report went on :
“. . . About 20 or 25 years ago, before the appearance of Missionaries in these regions, no barter took place between the Trader and the Indian without the first offering the other whiskey. Frequently even the Trader paid the Indian with liquor. Then could be seen the disgusting spectacle of a whole lodge, from the decrepitude of old age to the child barely out of his cradle, plunged for days and nights in the stupor of a brutish drunkenness.”
The missionaries said that they tried hard to bring about a reform, so that there were now few habitual drunkards, but “ the heartless trader, who knows their unfortunate propensity, again causes their downfall. The vice of drunkenness is here detested even by those who are addicted to it ; but the Trader, who looks to his own interest, is pitiless, laughs at the misery and degradation of the Indian, and offers him the fatal draught whenever he can do so with impunity. In the central villages, particularly those more remote from the center,5 the abuse of strong drinks is more common, but we also remark that the Spring and the Autumn, at the time when the Traders make their appearance for the purposes of trade, are the periods when the evil re-appears periodically, and it is easy to surmise the cause.”
The traders, reported the missionaries further, gave the Indians worthless but garish objects in trade ; they paid the Indians ruinously low prices for vegetables and fish which they resold at large prices ; and by their credit system kept the Indians in a state of slavishness and dependence. The culmination was that the Indian led “ a miserable existence, and has nothing but wretchedness in perspective before him.”6
These reports are merely a few of those in the Canadian archives, and were not part of the voluminous mass of evidence submitted to the British Parliamentary Select Committee. The fact was brought out in evidence in 1857 that the Hudson’s Bay Company imported in its ships about 4,900 gallons of spirituous liquors annually. It was notorious that the Hudson’s Bay Company exchanged spirits in barter for fur ; at the time, on the Pembina River, when Norman W. Kittson of Minnesota, and the American Fur Company, (John Jacob Astor’s Company) and the Hudson’s Bay Company were in opposition (competition), “the liquor was the principal item of goods which went out to supply the Indians to get the furs.”7 Rev. Griffith Owen Corbett testified that he had traveled 1,0O0 miles in the Hudson’s Bay Company’s territories during three years ; that he had personally seen the demoralizing effects of ardent spirits on the Indians ; that he had seen Indians intoxicated within the gates of Upper Fort Garry (Winnipeg) ; and that this liquor must have come from the Hudson’s Bay Company, inasmuch as there was no other source in the immediate vicinity. He related instances within his personal knowledge of where rum was traded by the Company in exchange for furs.8
Independent Traders Suppressed
The point frequently arose that if these practices were committed in the settled regions, what must have been the enormities in the isolated and distant stretches where none but the company’s representatives and traders were ?
At the same time, so it would appear, the Company took every measure to keep out or suppress individual traders. The Company tried in every way to close up the old traveled routes which would have pointed the way to other traders ; if an independent trader ventured to establish himself on Lake Superior or on the other lakes, or in the interior, he was driven out and his property destroyed ; he could get no redress ; even in 1857, with more modern facilities of transportation, when the Country was somewhat opened up to the jurisdiction of courts not as far distant as in decades previously, “ outrages are committed by the Hudson’s Bay Company with impunity.”9
Settlers and Indians Intimidated
Absolutely controlling supplies of every description, Hudson’s Bay Company refused to give even the bare necessities of life to settlers and Indians if its interests demanded that they be denied them. Testifying that he had seen an Indian hung when he was on the Pembina, John McLaughlin was asked by the House of Commons Committee whether he did not know that the Company, by Act of Parliament, was prohibited from trying or executing cases of capital punishment. He knew it, he said, and so did all of the other settlers in the Red River Settlement.
Q. “ How is it that the Colonists resident on the spot did not remonstrate against this execution ? ”
A. “ It is impossible for them to remonstrate there ; they are too much under control of the Company ; the Company would stop supplies.”10
As to the intimidations practiced upon the Indians by threatening them with starvation, the testimony was overwhelming. Chief Justice William Henry Draper, of the Court of Common Pleas of Upper Canada, agreed that the system established by the Hudson’s Bay Company was such as to place the Indians in a state of utter dependence. “ If what I read,” he testified, “ is true, that a silver fox skin, or some other valuable skins, are obtained for three or four tin kettles, of course, it must be so, but I have no knowledge of it as a fact myself.”11
The principal articles traded were blankets and cottons, some ammunition and tobacco. If an Indian sold furs to settlers, the Company seized the furs and impounded them, and imprisoned the indian.12 The Company also refused supplies and provisions to Indians who did not comply with the most minute of its numerous regulations ; in such cases, the consequence was starvation.13 The Indians had become dependent upon the Company for their powder and shot ; they had lost their original mode of hunting ; the gun had replaced the bow and arrow. “To make an Indian really a hunter with the bow and arrow — a deer stalker — takes a whole life ; you cannot reteach the present generation ; it takes a whole life to approach at that distance the animal for which the bow and arrow came into use. Of course, that is one of the main causes of their decline.” And if they could not get ammunition the Indians could no longer obtain furs, and in turn provisions and supplies ; well knowing this, the Hudson’s Bay Company used the fact as a lever to hold the Indians completely under their control.14
The Hudson’s Bay Company even prevented Indians from trading with Indians, or making presents of furs to one another, or wearing furs, “and tried to use missionaries to tell Indians that the anger of God would follow wearing a foxskin.”15
Of the misery and degradation of the Indians of Lake Superior when dependent upon the Hudson’s Bay Company’s posts for all of the necessities of life, Allan MacDonell testified that he could give many instances. The Company’s system, he declared, was one calculated to destroy the capabilities of the Indian trying to emancipate himself from the bondage “of avaricious community of trading monopolists.” He related a particular instance at Penetanguishine of how the Hudson’s Bay Company agent had forbidden the Indians from gathering cranberries, which were sold at a very remunerative price to a white who had engaged them. The Company threatened that if they did not stop, their supplies would be cut off during the long winter months. The object of the Company “ was to prevent the Indians learning that there was another pursuit whereby they would become independent of the Company, and cease to be its hunters.”16
They “Rob and Keep Us Poor”
“The Traders,” petitioned Peguis, Chief of the Salteau Tribe, at Red River settlement, “have never done anything but rob and keep us poor, but the farmers have taught us how to farm and raise cattle. . . .
“ We have many things to complain of against the Hudson’s Bay Company. They pay us little for our furs, and when we are old we are left to shift for ourselves.
We could name many old men who have starved to death in sight of many of the Company’s principal forts.
“ When the Home [British] Government has sent out questions to be answered in this Country about the treatment of Indians by the Company, the Indians have been told that if they said anything against the Company they would be driven away from their homes.
“ In the same way, when Indians wished to attach themselves to missions, they have been both threatened and used badly. When a new mission has been established, the Company has at once planted a post there, so as to prevent Indians from attaching themselves to it. They have been told that they are fools to listen to missionaries, and can only starve and become lazy under them. We could name many Indians who have been prevented by the Company, from leaving their trading posts and Indian habits when they wished to attach themselves to missions,” etc., etc.17
Starvation and Cannibalism
A pathetic and restrained petition, this, it must be admitted. But far in the barren east of Canada the same practices had been going on. A letter on the condition of the Indians in remote Labrador, that had been written by William Kennedy to Lord Elgin, Governor-General of Canada in 1847-1854, was produced before the British Parliamentary Select Committee in 1857. In this letter, Kennedy quoted from a letter that had been received by him.
“ You will be grieved,” read a passage in this letter, “ to learn that the curse which had effect in the old country has extended here, though arising from causes of more frequent occurrence than even the failure of crops.
“Starvation has, I learn, committed great havoc among your old friends, the Nascopies, numbers of whom met their death from want last winter ; whole camps of them were found dead, without one survivor to tell the tale of their sufferings ; others sustained life in a way most revolting, as using as food the dead bodies of their companions ; some even bled their children to death, and sustained life with their bodies !”
In another quoted letter of Kennedy to Lord Elgin was this announcement, “ At Fort Nascopie the Indians were dying by dozens of starvation ; and among others, your old friend Paytabais.” In a third quoted letter Kennedy stated, “ A great number of Indians starved to death last winter, and ____ says it was ____’s fault in not giving them enough ammunition.”18
It is probable that the William Kennedy here referred to was Captain William Kennedy. He was a son of Alexander Kennedy who had been a Chief Factor of the Hudson’s Bay Company. The dates of William Kennedy’s letters to Lord Elgin are not given in the records. Judging from the context of his correspondence, in which references are made to the famine of 1847 in Europe, his letters were written a year or two years later.
Sir George Simpson, Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, who at the time was dubbed “ King of the Fur Trade ” and “ Emperor of the Plains,” styled these statements exagerated, although admitting that there had been some recent cases of cannibalism in the Athabasca country.19 But little or no weight, it was not unreasonably pointed out, could be given to Simpson’s word considering that he testified that Fort Nascopie was on the Labrador Coast when in fact it was 400 miles inland.20
Lord Strathcona Begins His Career
At this point authentic historical narrative requires that it should be noted that it was in this identical Labrador territory, and at this time, that the greatest and richest Canadian capitalist of present times — Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal — served his apprenticeship of 13 years with the Hudson’s Bay Company, and made his first start on the road to wealth. He was then Donald A. Smith, a young Scotchman, and had been assigned, in 1838, to the Labrador post—“ the bleakest corner of the earth”—by Sir George Simpson.
“ Some years before Mr. Smith’s arrival,” says Beckles Willson, Lord Strathcona’s laudatory biographer, “ the attention of the Company had been directed to this bleak district as a possible field of lucrative enterprise. The Moravian missionnaries among the Esquimaux had issued a pamphlet in which after describing the state of the natives, it was stated that the furs of the fox, mink and martin had been obtained.” At first, the trade did not seem promising, but Simpson resolved to persist. Willson tells of the wretched life led by the Esquimaux in hunting for the Company, and describes how, as a reward for all their toil and hardships, after some of them had spent two years on their hunting journey, all that they received “ was a little tobacco and a few strings of beads, very few having the means of procuring guns and ammunition.”
Willson proceeds to narrate the following important particulars, evidently not knowing of the facts brought out before the British Parliamentary Committee of 1857, or if knowing them, choosing to omit them : “ Donald [Smith] came ultimately to be stationed at Hamilton Inlet, where the Company then had two posts. . . . He and his comrades at the post spent most of their time trading in furs with the Indians — particularly the Mountaineers and the Nascopies.” After thus placing Mr. Smith’s early activities among these tribes, Willson goes on to say that before Smith had left Labrador the Esquimaux had all but totally vanished from the lower coast. Willson tells how the Nascopie tribe had become greatly reduced, but explains the appalling mortality by saying that it was due partly to natural causes and partly to diseases contracted by contact with modes of living of the whites inducing respiratory diseases.21
Strathcona in Labrador
Dr. Grenfell relates that it was at the North West River post of the Hudson’s Bay Company that Donald A. Smith spent his early 13 years in Labrador. This post was a considerable distance in from the coast, and was reached via Hamilton Inlet. Fort Nascopie lay some hundreds of miles northwest. “ Early in the last century,” says Grenfell of the North West River post, “ this was an important place, the residence of the Chief Factor in charge of Labrador.” Although the barren lands of Labrador were supposed to be unproductive, yet, Grenfell relates, “ this post had a large farm where oats and vegetables were grown.” The remnants of the Nascopie tribe still come to that post to trade their furs.22
George Gladman, whose father was a Chief Factor of the Hudson’s Bay Company and who himself had been associated 31 years as Clerk and as Chief Trader with that Company, testified before the Select Committee of the Canadian Legislative Assembly, in 1857 : “ No agricultural settlers (properly so-called) are permitted at or near the Company’s trading stations, except Red River. Their stations are occupied solely by the officers and employes of the Company and their families, the Indians being the only other residents near the station.”23
If Willson had read the testimony before the British Parliamentary Committee of 1857, he would doubtless have been more cautious in too conspicuously locating Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal among the Nascopie tribe, and in admitting the extraordinarily large mortality among those Indians ; for, as we have already cited, it was those same Nascopie Indians who were terribly reduced by starvation, and who were forced to the awful extremity of eating the dead bodies of their companions, and even to kill and eat their own children !
It was in such a time and place that Donald A. Smith, later created Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal — Strathcona, the most powerful Canadian capitalist of these times — began and flourished.
According to Willson, quoting from another writer, Smith was rated a highly valuable employe of the Hudson’s Bay Company during the 13 years he was in service in Labrador “ learning the secrets of the Company, how to manage the Indians, and how to produce the best returns.” He showed, Willson relates further, an “ invaluable knack of turning everything to account. ‘No matter,’ it has been heard of him, ‘however poor the post might be, Donald Smith always showed a balance on the right side of the ledger.’ He was rewarded, first by a chief tradership, and after ten years more spent on the shores of Hudson’s Bay . . . he was appointed a Chief Factor.”24
Fortune From a Wilderness
In 1856, when Smith was 48 years old, he was chosen to fill the post of Chief Executive Officer of the Hudson’s Bay Company in North America, and was stationed at Montreal.25
By this time, it would appear, Donald A. Smith’s personal fortune amounted to £10,000 or nearly $50,000.26 It need not be explained that such a sum at that period represented very considerable wealth ; in purchasing power it perhaps equaled much more than ten times that amount reckoned by present standards. That in so desolate a country as Labrador, Donald A. Smith should have been able to accumulate the greater part, if not all, of £10,000, was regarded as convincing demonstration of his tenacious capacity. He was, in 1857, it apppears, a stockholder in the Bank of Montreal, as were other officers of the Hudson’s Bay Company ;27 this was the same Bank of Montreal in which 15 years later he became so dominating a personage, and as to one of the transactions concerning which details are related later in this work.
Of the further career of Donald A. Smith, the supereminent Canadian magnate and distinguished member of the peerage, we shall relate more hereafter in its chronological and proper place.
1. Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson’s Bay Company, etc., House of Commons, London, 1857, p. 326.
2. Ibid., Appendix No. 2, p. 369.
3. Ibid, p. 368. This order was entered in the Council’s Minutes.
4. Report of the Special Commissioners, Appointed September 8, 1856, to Investigate Indian Affairs in Canada, Appendix No. 21, Vol. XVI, No. 6. Appendix to 16th Vol. of the Journals of the Legislative Assembly of Canada, 1858, p. 3.
5. Manitoulin Island is 135 miles long, lying in Lake Huron.
6. Report upon the Present State of the Great Manitoulin Island, and upon that of the Nomadic Bands of Tribes on the Northern Shore of Lake Huron, Appendix No. 21, Vol. XVI, No. 6, Appendix to 16th Vol., Journals of the Legislative Assembly, Prov. of Canada, pp. 15-16.
7. Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson’s Bay Company, etc., London, 1857, Testimony of John McLaughlin, p. 274.
8. Ibid., pp. 147-148.
9. Testimony of Allan MacDonell, Report of the Select Legislative Committee Sitting in Canada to Receive and Collect Information as to the Rights of the Hudson’s Bay Co., etc. (embodied in Report of British Parliament Committee, 1857) p. 387.
10. Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson’s Bay Co., etc., 1857, p. 280.
11. Ibid., p. 228.
12. Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson’s Bay Company, etc. Testimony of John McLaughlin, p. 263.
13. Ibid. Notwithstanding such testimony, and the memorials of both Indians and settlers, all of the current so-called histories seek to represent the Hudson’s Bay Company as a benevolent corporation. A typical instance is Begg’s work, History of the Northwest. Referring to the Indians he wrote (Vol. I, p. 219) :—“But sometimes disease and death would come among them, and at others, through their own improvidence, starvation would stalk in their midst. It was then that the kindly offices of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s servants would be felt—hungry mouths would be filled as far as the resources of the post would allow, medicines and clothes would be furnished, and the grateful Indians would feel themselves bound to their white brothers by the greatest of all ties, that of gratitude. It was this fatherly care of the Indians that gave the Hudson’s Bay Company their great influence over the savage tribes of the North West,” etc., etc. (The italics are mine.—G.M.)
14. Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson’s Bay Co., etc., P. 315. Testimony of Richard King, M.D., who was in the North West for three years.
15. Ibid., p. 265. Testimony of John McLaughlin.
16. Ibid., p. 389.
17. Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson’s Bay Company, etc., British Parliament, 1857, Appendix No. XVI, p. 445. Chief Peguis sent with his petition a letter he had received from the “Silver Chief (Lord Selkirk) dated Fort Douglas, July 20, 1817, highly commending his (Peguis’) services to the whites and his influence in favor of the settlers. A similar letter dated Jan. 1, 1835, from Sir George Simpson, Hudson’s Bay Company’s Governor of Rupert’s Land, was enclosed, in which letter Simpson guaranteed Peguis an annuity of 5 sterling a year.
18. The above correspondence is included in the Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson’s Bay Company, etc., British Parliament 1857, pp. 82-83. The blanks in the final sentence appear in the Select Committee’s report : we are, therefore, unfortunately not able to determine the name of the person responsible for these atrocities.
19. Ibid., p. 82. See his full testimony in the Select Committee’s Report. Simpson was in reality the viceroy, if the term may be used, of the Supreme Council or Committee of the Hudson’s Bay Company in London. He had full authority over all their Colonial possessions, and held the office until he died in 1860—a period of nearly 40 years. He was also a powerful bank magnate, first of the Bank of British North America, and from 1859 of the Bank of Montreal.
20. Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson’s Bay Co., etc., British Parliament, 1857, P. 83. During Sir George Simpson’s examination, a passage in Thomas Simpson’s Life of Thomas Simpson was pointed out to him. Thomas Simpson was a distant relative of Sir George Simpson, and for a time had been his private secretary. Dealing with conditions among the Indians in the country between Winnipeg and Lake Superior, the passage in question stated, ” Parents have been known to lengthen out a miserable existence by killing and devouring their own offspring.” Sir George Simpson in reply reflected upon Thomas Simpson’s judgment. Evidence was also placed before the Committee from Ballantyne’s book entitled Hudson Bay. Ballantyne stated that cannibalism existed among the natives at the Hudson’s Bay Company’s posts, and instanced the case of conditions at Peel’s River, a post in the Arctic circle. Sir George Simpson’s chief defense was to characterize these statements as exaggerated.—Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson’s Bay Co., etc., p. 84.
21. See Beckles Willson’s Lord Strathcona, pp. 21-31.
23. Journals of the Legislative Assembly of Canada, Appendix to the 15th Vol., 1857, Vol. XV, No. 4, Appendix No. 17.
24. Ellice testified in 1857 that the Chief Factors and the Chief Traders of the Hudson’s Bay Company were paid in shares. The Chief Factors were virtually dictators in the territory over which they ruled.
25. Beckles Willson’s Lord Strathcona, p. 36.
27. Journals of the Legislative Assembly of Canada, Appendix to the 15th Vol., 1857, Vol. XV, No. 4, Appendix No. II.
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