Letitia Hargrave nee MacTavish (1813-1854) was the daughter of Sheriff Dugald MacTavish and Letitia Lockhart. In 1840, she married James Hargrave, Chief Trader for the HBC, and left Scotland for York Factory.
The letters Letitia wrote to family and friends provide us with observations of daily life that differ from the typical post journals of that time which were written by men.
Her correspondence is also recognized for its importance as being one of the earliest for pioneer women in the fur trade in Western Canada. Through her letters, we can see her mature from a gawking and sea-sick newcomer to a shrewd and experienced observer of fur trade life.
1840. This letter to her mother describes a meal in York Factory. P61, 1st pgh: “The usual dinner… after dinner.”
“The usual dinner for our mess meaning the 3 ladies and me was – a roast of venison at the top 3 geese at the food, 4 ducks on one side 6 plovers on the other, a large Red river ham (whole leg) and potatoes and mashed turnips or boiled lettuce. For something green when they have broth they put lettuce and the bitterness is surprising – They have radish and lettuce after dinner.”
Read excerpts from Letitia's letters - enter 'Letitia' in the search box to your left.