The twenty-five years between 1821 and 1846 were turbulent but
important years in the history of the fur trade in the Pacific
Northwest: 1821 saw the merger of the Hudson's Bay Company and
the North West Company, and 1846 saw the signing of the Oregon Treaty,
which established the Canada-U.S. border.
Archibald McDonald was a man who experienced these changes first
hand. As a senior HBC officer, he was sent to the Columbia District
headquarters at Fort George in 1821 to oversee the recently absorbed
NWC posts and assets. After the merger, McDonald went on to direct
operations at Thompson River (1826-28), Fort Langley (1828-33), and
Fort Colvile (1833-44).
During his tenure in the Pacific Northwest, letters were
McDonald's only link with the outside world. Collected here for
the first time by Jean Murray Cole, these public and private letters to
friends, business colleagues, missionaries, botanists, and many others
provide a fascinating narrative of the expansion of the fur trade at a
critical time in its history. McDonald's witty and ironic style
make these informative letters highly readable and entertaining. They
are an invaluable primary resource for historians of the fur trade and
the Pacific Northwest, anthropologists, geographers, and specialists in
native studies. More general readers will be fascinated by these
amusing snapshots of early settlement in the Pacific Northwest.
Jean Murray Cole is an independent writer, researcher, and historian based in Indian River, Ontario. She is the author of many regional histories and of Exile in the Wilderness: The Biography of Chief Factor Archibald McDonald 1790-1853 (University of Washington Press 1979).
Illustrations Introduction Part 1: Fort George and Thompson River, 1822-28 Part 2: Fort Langley, 1829-33 Part 3: Fort Colvile, 1834-44 Part 4: Envoi, 1845-49 Appendix Bibliography Index