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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.

Image 1
Author: Robert Michael Ballantyne
Copyright Holder: Expired; no restrictions on use.
  -17- RM Ballantyne: York Factory Trading Room

Robert Michael Ballantyne (1825-1894) joined the HBC as an apprentice clerk in 1841 at the age of 16. During his six years in the fur trade, he served at Upper Fort Garry, Norway House, York Factory, and Tadoussac.

This is a description of the “trading room” or store at York Factory, which supplied the needs and wants of both the Company's employees and their Native trading partners. This description could also be applied to almost any HBC trading room in Rupert's Land. p185, 2nd pgh: “The trading-room… box of shot.”

“The trading-room – or, as it is frequently called, the Indian-shop - was much like what is called a store in the United States. It contained every imaginable commodity likely to be needed by Indians. On various shelves were piled bales of cloth of all colours, capotes, blankets, caps, etc.; and in smaller divisions were placed files, scalping-knives, gun-screws, flints, balls of twine, fire-steels, canoe-awls, and glass beads of all colours, sizes, and descriptions.

Drawers in the counter contained needles, pins, scissors, thimbles, fish-hooks, and vermilion for painting canoes and faces. The floor was strewn with a variety of copper and tin kettles, from half-a-pint to a gallon; and on a stand in the furthest corner of the room stood about a dozen trading guns, and beside them a keg of powder and a box of shot.”

Other Related Material
Read excerpts from Robert's writings - enter 'Ballantyne' in the search box to your left.

See a typical trading post.

What did Robert Ballantyne look like?

Which HBC calendar painting includes Robert Ballantyne?

Check the Beaver Index - e.g., type in trading, stores, Ballantyne, etc.

Visit York Factory and discover the secret in the frost.

Did You Know?
Ballantyne's first book, Hudson's Bay, was published privately in Scotland in 1848: it was financed by an elderly lady who had enjoyed reading the letters he had written to his mother.