The Company of Adventurers: A Narrative of Seven Years in the Service of the Hudson's Bay Company during 1867- 1874 on the Great Buffalo Plains

The Company of Adventurers: A Narrative of Seven Years in the Service of the Hudson's Bay Company during 1867- 1874 on the Great Buffalo Plains

The Company of Adventurers: A Narrative of Seven Years in the Service of the Hudson's Bay Company during 1867- 1874 on the Great Buffalo Plains

The Company of Adventurers: A Narrative of Seven Years in the Service of the Hudson's Bay Company during 1867- 1874 on the Great Buffalo Plains

Synopsis

The Hudson's Bay Company had been operating for nearly two centuries when young Isaac Cowie joined it in 1867. He sailed from the Shetland Islands to Rupert's Land, finally reaching York Factory, where he awaited his assignment. Company of Adventurers describes the early, lusty history of the HBC and the years of Cowie's service, when manufactured goods were driving out the demand for furs and buffalo hides. It contains rare information about the Assiniboin and Plains Crees Indians during the period before their confinement to reservations.

Alive to the historical and ethnographic value of his writing, Cowie tells about his tenure as a clerk (later manager) at Fort Qu'Appelle in southern Saskatchewan, the colorful personalities who served with him, the wide-ranging fur brigades, remote outposts, and the Company's relations with Indian tribes. He was the first white man known to have set foot within the Swift Current District when in 1868 he hunted buffalo there. His dealings with the Métis during the Red River Rebellion placed him where history was being made.

In an introduction to this Bison Book edition, David Reed Miller discusses how Cowie fitted into a great commercial enterprise and how he became a victim of unpleasant circumstances that forced his retirement in 1891.

Excerpt

A comprehensive, ancient and modern history of the Hudson's Bay Company has yet to be written. It will probably be the work of many minds, each dealing with different aspects of its vast and varied operations, and tinged with the personality and prejudices of each writer. In the Dominion of the Fur Trade, extending far beyond the far-flung frontiers of the present Dominion of Canada, the fur-traders were the pioneers of the British Empire, and, if that Empire to-day does not include all the regions they explored and exploited in the grand old days of yore, the glory of their deeds of daring should not be forgotten, nor should it be diminished, because the British Government and the Company's directors from time to time suffered the North-Western States, Oregon and California and the interior of Alaska, to fall into the hands of American rivals.

In a vast territory where history was made at every important fur-trading post, by men who seldom attempted to leave written records which have been allowed to see the light of day in print, it is to-day a task of as great difficulty to exhume the buried remains of the human and personal history of individual pioneers as it is to find in the buried cities of the ancient Orient the material by which men of science of the present day try to interpret the past and depict it. True, many, in fact a surprisingly great number of books have been written by eminent explorers of the highest merits, as well as many by very able authors as the result of their studies of books and documents to which they had access--often denied the public; but these latter writers are all more or less special pleaders for views, more or less distorted by race and religion, and other circumstances over which they had as little control.

Every one of the books written has recorded occurrences and the names of those who participated in these events, which . . .

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