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Home >> From 1600 to 1867 >> Identity, Culture & Communities >> Articles/Diaries/Ephemera/Journals

Daily life and challenges for the various groups involved in the fur trade.

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Author: Thomas McCliesh
Title: Letters from Hudson Bay, 1703-40
Publisher: The Hudson's Bay Record Society, London.
Year Published: 1965
Location: Original: HBCA - Archives of Manitoba, A11/2, fos.26-29d, July 16,1716
Copyright Holder: Expired; no restrictions on use. Please credit HBCA - Archives of Manitoba.
  -77- Thomas McCliesh: Successful Marten Trapping

This is a letter to the London Committee from Thomas McCliesh, chief factor of Albany Fort. He is reporting on the success of HBC initiatives to encourage the trapping of martens -- which were selling for high prices in England in the early 1700s -- by Company servants as well as by Natives. p42, 2nd pgh:"Here has been a plenty... the invoices."

"Here has been a plenty of martens this winter about the factory, in such plenty that several drowned themselves in our pickle cask. I sent eight men to lie out a marten catching as soon as the winter set in; likewise gave liberty to all the men at home to go at times a marten catching, being a safe time of the year. Several went that had not been two miles from the factory since they came here, purely to purchase a little brandy.

There is a bundle of a 130 martens, whereof 65 was traded for brandy of the men's catching, and would have traded all their catchings, but they were no ways willing. Those men that lay a trapping at the seaside caught a plenty. I sent two men up this river fourteen miles from hence a marten catching to a place where martens used to be plenty formerly. When they came home they told me that they had caught but few, which I found to be so by a general search of all men before they entered within the gates.

Here has been caught in all 1110 martens by your servants this last winter, besides some foxes and some quickhatches, all which is mentioned in the invoices."

Other Related Material
Read other accounts during this period of establishing early fort settlements and trade - enter 'Beale,' 'Kelsey,' 'Knight,' 'La Verendrye,' 'McCliesh,' 'Nixon,' 'Outlaw,' or 'Pinfold' in the search box to your left.

Check the Beaver Index - e.g., enter 'Albany Fort,' 'trade goods,' or 'martens,' etc.

Read more about Thomas McCliesh in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.

Did You Know?
The men of Albany were able to exchange each marten skin they trapped for a bottle of brandy and half a pound of sugar from the fort's warehouse, or they could send their furs to England on the HBC supply ship and share the proceeds of their sale 50-50 with the Company.

Why did McCliesh search the men? He did not want them sending their furs home secretly for private sale.