Saturday, October 01, 2005


City State Appendix Edmonton

Time Line - A Brief History of the Fur Trade

Hudson Bay Co. was chartered. They claimed all the lands that drained into Hudson Bay as their trading area. Their post were located on Hudson Bay and the Indians brought their furs there.


Britain tried several different arrangements to control the fur trade - imperial control, limiting trade to only five posts, and exclusive licensing. In spite of this, unlicensed traders continued to operate.


Johnathon Carver traveled west in search of the North West passage.


Trade regulations were returned to the colonies, exclusive licenses were abolished. The start of unregulated trade increased the use of liquor in the fur trade. British traders were allowed to establish wintering posts amongst the Indians. Construction began on permanent structures at Grand Portage.


The Quebec Act became law. The western Great Lakes and all land north of the Ohio River became part of Quebec and subject to its laws and regulations. Green Bay and Prairie du Chein became interior trading centers. Traders started to exploit the region northwest of Grand Portage, but cut-throat competition reduced the profits. Small partnerships were formed to avoid or oppose the competition. The American Revolution caused some traders to avoid areas south and west of the Great Lakes and encouraged them to go north and west. Hudson Bay Company built a post on the Saskatchewan River.

First agreements were made between partners that would become the
North West Company, the first joint stock company in Canada and possibly North America. Peter Pond traveled to the Athabaska where he gathered so many furs he was forced to leave some behind. Generally throughout the 1770's fur trade was centered around the large posts. The Dakota and Ojibwe were fighting for control of the St. Croix Valley so traders avoided those areas.

The North West Company increased its shares to 20.

Beaver Club was formed. It was a very selective social organization of men who had wintered in Indian country. There were 19 original members. The Hudson Bay Company built more posts in the interior because furs were being taken at the Indian camps by the North West Company.


The North West Co. and the Hudson Bay Co. merged under the name Hudson Bay Co. A major factor in the decision to merge was the high transportation costs shipping through the Great Lakes. In addition, the Hudson Bay Co. charter had stronger legal backing to right of land by discovery than the partnership claims of the North West Co. After this time, most trade goods were shipped through Hudson Bay for the interior posts. The border war still continued between the Hudson Bay Co. and the American Fur Co. It did not end until 1833 when the American Fur Co. abandoned its posts along the border in exchange for an annual cash payment from Hudson Bay.



Little is known about the earliest settlers of Alberta
most were of Indian and Metis origin


Fort Augustus (NWC) and Fort Edmonton (HBC) are relocated from Fort Saskatchewan (Alberta) to the Rossdale Flats (Edmonton, Alberta) this year.

At the junction of the Miette and Athabasca Rivers is Fitzhugh Place that was in 1813 renamed Jaspers, Place (Alberta) after a North West Company supply post. This post was for the mountain trade across Athabasca pass (where there are reeds), that is established about this time. It is noteworthy that after more than ten years of use, David Thompson, in 1811, would claim discovery of the Athabasca pass.

The Gros Ventres invited a passing brigade of 75 Iroquois traders into their camp. They engaged in a heated form of gambling, a quarrel broke out. When the dust cleared, 25 Iroquois of the N.W.C. lay dead. The survivors reached Fort Augustus (Alberta).

William Tomison of the H.B.C. claimed the North West Company and XY Company had over 300 Iroquois on the Saskatchewan River this summer alone. This is not counting the hundreds who are still in the region from the 1790's.

Rocky Mountain House, aka Poste de la Montagne de Roches, birth (II)-Fanny Thompson Metis daughter (I)-David Thompson (1770-1857) and Charlotte Small b-1785 Metis.

(I)-David Thompson (1770-1857) and James Hughes search for a pass to the west of Rocky Mountain House, aka Poste de la Montagne de Roches, but failed.

Grouard (Slave Lake) is established and by 1898 would replace Dunvegan as the center of trade for the Peace River District.


Patrick (Pichina) Finlay (1802-1879) born Rocky Mountain House, aka Poste de la Montagne de Roches, son Jacques Raphael (Jacko) Finlay, Metis (1768-1828) and Indian woman. This is likely one of the 4 adopted Lussier children.

The Rocky Mountain House Echo newspaper in 1911 attributes the establishment of Rocky Mountain House at the mouth of the Clearwater River into the Saskatchewan River to John MacDonald of Garth Scotland for the North West Fur Company of Montreal. They claim Alexander Henry succeed him and David Thompson succeed Henry. This is obviously in error as Rocky Mountain House has been used as a trading post since 1751.

Old Man Monroe (Hugh Monroe), born 1784 Montreal, died 1892, arrived Fort Edmonton in 1802 in the employ of The Hudson Bay Company. He married a Piegan woman and their son, William Monroe (b-1851), would serve with the Pallisar Expedition (1872). It is possible that the legends of old man Monroe represent two or more different people. Some place his birth date at 1898 or 1899. He is said to have been indentured for three years in 1815 to the Hudson Bay Company and posted to Edmonton House. It is alleged he departed a Hudson Bay Company warehouse in Montreal in 1815, traveling to Edmonton House via York Factory. It is highly likely he didn't depart until after 1821, when the North West Company merged with the Hudson Bay Company. This assumption is based on the fact that his first child was born in 1825, Rocky Mountain House aka Poste de la Montagne de Roches; suggesting a departure after 1821.

The North West Company established Bow River Fort, fifty miles west of Fort La Jonquiere (Calgary). Bow River is named as the place for making bows.

Patrick Pichina Finlay, Metis, b-1802 Fort Edmonton area, died January 1879 Montana son Jacques Raphael (Jacko) Finlay, Metis (1768-1828); married Margaret.

Some suggest the Battle River Settlement was first noted about this time and was located south of Camrose. The Cree called this location No-tin-to-si-pi whereas the Blackfoot called it Ke-chi-sab-wap-ta and was noted as a good crossing place and was the location of a number of clashes between the Cree and Blackfoot.

Simon Fraser (1776-1862) built Fort Laird at Fort Vermilion, Alberta

Saskadjiwan a.k.a. Saskatchewan, means the running of the thaw or swift current. Both Fort Saskatchewan, the North West Company and Fort Augustus, Hudson Bay Company, moved to Edmonton on the Rosedale Flats, where the Edmonton power plant now stands. The 'XY' Company also built in this location. Chesterfield house, at this time, lies abandoned.

The N.W.C. built Pierre au Calumet on the east bank of the Athabasca River, 55 miles from Fort McMurray.

March 3: The North West Company sent a 12 man party to Fort Chesterfield, near present day Empress, Alberta, and the Gros Ventre killed the two Canadians (Metis) and ten Iroquois traders. Others suggest it was 14 Iroquois and 2 Canadians of the N.W.C., and that they were killed on the Bow River, southern Alberta.


Thomeson Audinson, Metis, b-1803 Red River married to Leathine Metis b-1802 Red River living Lakeland eastern Alberta, 1891.

William Connolly (1787-1849) who joined the N.W.C. in 1801 and became a partner by 1818. He married 1803 Rat River Suzanne Cree, d-1862 and had 6 children.

Marie Louise Jerome dit St. Mathe, Metis, b-1803, Rocky Mountain House (Alberta) daughter Martin Jerome dit St, Mathe and Francoise a native; married June 15, 1829, Red River, Maximilien dit Dauphinais Genthon (1790-1871) son Jean Baptiste Genthon and Marie Louise Lafontaine.

Peter Fidler reported 110 Iroquois fur traders on the Peace River near the Rocky Mountains.


John Clarke, b-1781, joined the N.W.C. in 1804 and served the Pacific Fur Company 1810-1814 and joined the Athabasca Expedition of 1815.

La Gasse and LeBlanc return with the Kutenai to trade at Rocky Mountain House and are believed to be the first known to cross the Rocky Mountains.

William Sturgis a merchant from Boston arrived west coast of Vancouver Island with 5,000 ermine skins from Leipzip. He sold these to the Kimgarnee Indians who prized them for ceremonial purposes. He valued his ermine at 30¢ and traded them at 5 for one sea-otter skin. These he sold at Canton, China for $50.00 each skin.

Raphael Tremblay b-1802 Quebec married to Catherine Metis b-1804 B.C. living Egg Lake (Alberta) 1901.

John Rowand born 1787 Montreal died Fort Pitt (Saskatchewan), May 30, 1854, served as a clerk at Fort Des Prairies a.k.a. Fort Augustus (Fort Edmonton), (Alberta) for the North West Company, until 1806 when he served at Red River des Metis, then went back to Fort Edmonton 1808. He spent most of his life at Fort Edmonton and was known as Iron Shirt or Big Mountain Man by the Indians.

(I)-David Thompson (1770-1857) visited the future site of Fort Dunvegan in 1805.


Big Lake (St. Albert, Alberta), birth, Angele Bourassa, daughter, Michel Francois Bourassa and Marguerite Beaulieu; married, 1835, Fort Pitt, (Saskatchewan), Pierre (Pierriche) Delorme, b-1813, White Mud (Alberta), son Pierre Delorme and Marguerite Cardinal.

North West Company's, Archibald MacLeod, built Fort Duvaegan on the Peace River and Simon Fraser (1776-1862) of Cornwall, previously of New York, and established several Forts in British Columbia. Fort Dunvegan is considered the center of the fur trade for the Peace Region (Alberta) until 1898 when it was replaced by Grouard (Slave Lake)..

Francois (Benetsee) Finlay b-1805, Fort Edmonton area d-before 1873 son Jacques Raphael (Jacko) Finlay, Metis (1768-1828) and Indian woman; married Susanna. This is more likely the child of Xavier Finley (1779-1859) Jacko's brother.

Some suggest Fort Edmonton (Alberta) was known as Fort des Prairies the Upper not to be confused with Lower Fort des Prairies on the Saskatchewan River and others say it was called Hughe's Fort (Fort Augustus). It is noteworthy that forts/trading posts change names from season to season and some change locations as frequently.

Battleford a trading post is established this year.

A fire virtually destroyed much of Detroit.

June 13: Meriwether Lewis departed Belt Creek in search of the Grand Falls of the Missouri, which was previously reported by others.

North West and Hudson's Bay companies: AD 1783-1821
This gives the North West Company's members (known as the Nor'Westers) a virtual monopoly of the rich fur trade in the western half of British America. The problem is that their line of communication with the Atlantic ports is now overstretched, as well as seeming to be threatened by a new initiative of their Hudson's Bay rivals in 1811.

In this year the Hudson's Bay Company brings in Scottish immigrants to establish an agricultural colony on the Red River in the region of modern Winnipeg. The site is close to Fort Gibraltar, built in 1804 by the North West Company to protect their trade route east to Montreal.

Employees of the North West Company attack the Red River Settlement in 1816, killing its governor and nineteen of his men. The Hudson's Bay Company retaliates by seizing and destroying Fort Gibraltar (which they subsequently rebuild as Fort Garry). This unseemly war between two British companies leads eventually to a merger, imposed by the government in 1821.

Hudson's Bay Company - Our History

Its first century of operation found Hbc firmly ensconced in a few forts and posts around the shores of James and Hudson Bays. Natives brought furs annually to these locations to barter for manufactured goods such as knives, kettles, beads, needles, and blankets. By the late 18th c. competition forced Hbc to expand into the interior. A string of posts grew up along the great river networks of the west foreshadowing the modern cities that would succeed them: Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton.

The Rise of Retail

The Rise of Retail

By the end of the 19th c. changing fashion tastes contributed to the fur trade losing importance. Western settlement and the Gold Rush quickly introduced a new type of client to Hbc – one that shopped with cash and not with skins. With the Deed of Surrender in 1869 between Hbc and Canada, the Company yielded sovereignty over its traditional territories to the new country. The retail era had begun. The Company’s focus shifted as it concentrated on transforming trading posts into saleshops, stocked with a wider variety of goods than ever before.

In 1912, following advice from one of its directors who was with Harrods department store in London, Hbc began an aggressive modernization program. The resulting ‘original six’ Hudson’s Bay Company department stores, in Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon and Winnipeg, are the living legacy of this period.

A Brief History of Edmonton

Modern Edmonton can be said to have begun in 1871, when the Reverend George McDougall, a Methodist missionary, arrived and built a mission on the present site of McDougall Church (11025 - 101 Street). Also in this year, Edmonton was incorporated as a village.

Edmonton’s first newspaper, the Edmonton Bulletin, was started in 1880. At this time, Edmonton consisted of five European families, with the majority of the population being Aboriginal and Metis. Edmonton grew very fast and by 1891 the Canadian Pacific Railway arrived in Edmonton, reaching up to the south bank of the North Saskatchewan River.

In 1892 Edmonton was incorporated as a town and Matthew McCauley was elected as its first Mayor. Five years later Edmonton experienced a population boom as thousands of gold-seekers were bound for the Klondike.

Edmonton History

Edmonton's development began in 1795 when the Hudson's Bay Company Trading Post was established. John Rowand, a fur trader for the North West Company, arrived in Edmonton in 1804, and grew to be respected by the Plains Indians and accepted as a leader, managing Edmonton's the fur trade with the Cree and Blackfoot in Edmonton for about 30 years. Fort Edmonton became a local economic centre, becoming the major stopping point before pioneers headed up north or farther west. In the 1870s more people began to settle around Fort Edmonton, after the government offered the land to settlers at a good price. Edmonton had 700 residents in 1892, when it officially became a town. The city boomed during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897, as thousands of eager prospectors heading north, via the "All Canadian Route," stopped in Edmonton for supplies. Many people settled in Edmonton permanently and by 1904 Edmonton had 9,000 residents. It became incorporated as a city and a year later was declared the provincial capital

Canadian Pacific Railways

In 1890, work started on the Calgary and Edmonton (C&E) Railroad. This was built under contract for the CPR and was completed in the summer of 1891. It terminated in Strathcona and there was no thought of it going any further. However in 1902, a short affiliate of the Canadian Northern Railway, the Edmonton Yukon and Pacific (EY&P), joined Edmonton north of the North Saskatchewan River with Strathcona on the south, crossing on the Low Level Bridge. This put the C&E at a disadvantage and it immediately began planning its own bridge into Edmonton. In 1903, CP signed a 99 year lease on the C&E and continued on with the plans for the bridge. Work started in 1910 on the High Level Bridge, and the first train crossed it in 1913. CPR's Edmonton station was located at the end of the line on the northwest corner of Japser and 109th Street. There were some rail yards in the area between 109-111th Streets and Jasper and 104 Avenues

Edmonton's First Public School Teacher

Early Edmonton Bulletin reports give us a few more details on Edmonton's first teacher. According to the Bulletin, James Harris was a member of the Edmonton vigilante committee, and he took an active role in community life. The Bulletin also quotes School Inspector David McQueen as saying that, "Harris was once a businessman in Illinois." The Rev. McQueen also learned that Harris had amassed a small fortune in America and then lost it. Another startling revelation by McQueen was that Harris was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, the secret organization that spread terror throughout the United States after the Civil War. It may have been Harris' connection with the Ku Klux Klan, or his business failure, that prompted his return to Canada. Or it may have been, as Edmonton historian John Day speculates, an attempt to escape marital problems and alimony payments. Day's opinion stems from his research into early Edmonton land holdings that refer to a claim on an Edmonton-area acreage by Harris' estranged wife.

According to Bulletin news reports, Harris was selected as the Edmonton (1881) School teacher by an education committee consisting of Presbyterian Pastor Andrew Baird, Hudson's Bay Company Factor Richard Hardisty, and Trustees Groat, Rowland and McCauley. His monthly salary for a three-month term contract was to be $50. One-half of the generous stipend would be subsidized by the North-West Territorial government if Harris could maintain an average enrolment of fifteen pupils per day, and keep the big boys in check. According to news reports, Harris was a strict disciplinarian and succeeded in the latter requirement.

The First Legislature In Alberta

This photograph was taken on May 9, 1906 – the last day of the first session of the first Legislature of Alberta. Pictured here are the 25 members of that first Alberta Legislature; they are seated in the third floor Assembly Hall of McKay Avenue School, a space the government rented from the Edmonton Protestant Public School Board.

Although the capital debate was the highlight of the first session, the only motion that was put forward was that the capital be permanently located in Calgary. This motion was lost by a vote of sixteen to eight. Subsequent motions for Red Deer and Banff were withdrawn. Edmonton (previously named the provisional capital) prevailed, but the decision was not entirely popular.

The 1907 session was also held in McKay Avenue School. The building was designated a Provincial Historical Resource in 1976 and now serves as the Archives and Museum of Edmonton Public Schools. A featured display is the restored legislative Chamber of 1906, which was re-constructed based on the image to the left – the only known image of this important event in Alberta’s history

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