nominally that great trading company parted with its autocratic
power and exclusive franchise in 1870, it is still the sovereign
of the north. And here let me correct an error that is sometimes
found even in respectable print - the Company has at all times been
ready to assist scientists to the utmost of its very ample power.
Although jealous of its trading rights, every one is free to enter
the territory without taking count of the Company, but there has
not yet been a successful scientific expedition into the region
without its active co-operation.
The Hudson's Bay Company has always been the guardian angel of the
I suppose that there never yet was another purely commercial concern
that so fully realized the moral obligations of its great power,
or that has so uniformly done its best for the people it ruled.
At all times it has stood for peace, and one hears over and over
again that such and such tribes were deadly enemies, but the Company
insisted on their smoking the peace pipe. The Sioux and Ojibway,
Black-Foot and Assiniboine., Dog-Rib and Copper-Knife, Beaver and
Chipewyan, all offer historic illustrations in point, and many
others could be found for the list.
The name Peace River itself is the monument of a successful effort
on the part of the Company to bring about a better understanding
between the Crees and the Beavers.
Besides human foes, the Company has saved the Indian from famine and
plague. Many a hunger-stricken tribe owes its continued existence
to the fatherly care of the Company, not simply general and
indiscriminate, but minute and personal, carried into the details
of their lives. For instance, when bots so pestered the Caribou of
one region as to render their hides useless to the natives, the
Company brought in hides from a district where they still were
The Chipewyans were each spring the victims of snow-blindness until
the Company brought and succeeded in popularizing their present
ugly but effectual and universal peaked hats. When their train-dogs
were running down in physique, the Company brought in a strain of
pure Huskies or Eskimo. When the Albany River Indians were starving
and unable to hunt, the Company gave the order for 5,000 lodge poles.
Then, not knowing how else to turn them to account, commissioned
the Indians to work them into a picket garden-fence. At all times
the native found a father in the Company, and it was the worst thing
that ever happened the region when the irresponsible free-traders
with their demoralizing methods were allowed to enter and traffic
where or how they pleased.