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Home >> From 1600 to 1867 >> Economics & Resources >> Articles/Diaries/Ephemera/Journals

The growth and success of the fur trade depended on the men and women of the First Nations and Métis Nation, while the competition between the HBC and the Northwest Company would forge a new era.

Image 1
Author: Nicholas Garry
Title: The Diary of Nicholas Garry
Publisher: Royal Society of Canada
Year Published: 1900
Copyright Holder: Expired; no restrictions on use.
  -59- Nicholas Garry: Hostilities, Swiss Colonists & Voyageurs

Nicholas Garry (ca. 1782-1856) joined the HBC's board of directors in 1817. In 1821, he visited trading posts in Manitoba and northern Ontario as the Company's representative, explaining to traders and Native peoples the recently-agreed merger with the Northwest Company. He was later Deputy Governor of the HBC from 1822-1835.

An ugly incident at York Factory, involving a group of Swiss colonists and some voyageurs (formerly of the NWC) is recounted in his diary on page 152 ["Friday the 24th August... the Lord Wellington."]

“Friday the 24th August. A melancholy occurrence happened to-day. The Voyageurs or Canadians entered some of the Colonists’ Tents and one, a Frenchman, became so intoxicated that he died the next morning. On going to the Encampment I found everything in an Uproar, the Colonists complaining that they had been deceived, that the Canadians had told them that they would be starved to death and a long History of Miseries which had disheartened them.

One Man particularly a Frenchman was at their Head and was very insolent. Suspicions are always wrong but I could not but be surprized to find the two Men of Mr. McGillivray’s Canoe, Forcier and Budry (whom he had particularly favoured and courted—putting the first at the Head of his Men) in the Camp, and it was evident they were still poisoning the Minds of the People.

I ordered them off the Encampment. They said I was not their Bourgeois. Governor Williams then ordered them. They still refused to go. I then told Mr. Williams that out of Delicacy to Mr. McGillivray we had better speak to him which we did. But instead of at once ordering them off he reasoned with them and even took their Part.

The Whole Matter was too evident to admit of a Doubt and these men would not have dared to be so impertinent had they not felt they would be supported. The Frenchman was so dangerous a Fellow that I felt if he went to the Colony he would do a great Deal of Mischief. I therefore recommended he should be sent back and his Passage is arranged in the Lord Wellington.”

Other Related Material
Read more excerpts from Nicholas' diary - enter 'Garry' in the search box to your left.

What does Nicholas Garry look like?

Check the Beaver Index - Highlights of the First 200 Years of the Hudson's Bay Company, Glyndwr Williams, Autumn 1970; From Diary of Nicholas Garry, March 1931.

Visit York Factory and discover the secret in the frost.

Did You Know?
Nicholas Garry was tactful and diplomatic in his dealings with both Natives and whites in the fur trade country.

The HBC's Governor in North America, William Williams, later wrote that Garry's "handsome and impartial conduct acted like Majick in removing all sort of jealousy."

When the HBC built a new fort in the Red River Colony in 1822, it was named Fort Garry in his honour.