Sunday, 22 July 2012

NIPIGON TO FORT HOPE 1910 - 1913 , the conclusion

Written by L.M. "Buzz" Lein from notes from a nine year correspondence with Corrine Franche.

Buzz wrote it in the first person so it reads as her story.


New Year's Day is the Indians' day but on Xmas they came and brought me choice mink furs and ermine.

On New Year's I baked 300 tea biscuits, had them cut up and spread with strawberry jam. I used four five-pound cans of it to put between the biscuits. My husband and the man clerk from the Hudson's Bay Co. store along with two Indian girls helped me. The men made gallons of tea. Later on we served tea and jam spread biscuits to the Indians who sat around on the floor. The girls who helped were Flatfoot Mary, Mary Billy and Mary Moose.

We gave each Indian a bag of mixed candies, the Christmas kind, the best on the market. There was also a pound of sugar in the bag. Everyone got the same - the children and small babies,  too.

We had about 300 Indians; the HBCo had about the same. The HBCo gave their Indians one can of Sardines each.


There were two churches at Fort Hope. One was Catholic, the other Anglican. The Indians like to go to the Catholic Church because it was nicer with pictures and statues.

The Anglican minister was a man named Richard(?) His family lived in Fort William. His sister's family lived there too. I met them after I returned there. Mrs. Richard was a Cree from Moose Factory. A very pretty woman who spoke good English. They had six or seven children. I wonder where they are now?

Mr. Richard's sister in Fort William had married a Mr. Kirkup. They had one lovely daughter and several teen age boys when I met them in Fort William. I understood Mrs.Kirkup to say that her husband worked for the government in Fort William as a printer. I used to visit her brother and his family in Fort Hope.


The Hudson's Bay Company store wasn't very far away from us. The manager was a Mr. Gordon from Scotland and he wasn't very friendly. Very shy and quiet. His wife had passed away just before we arrived at Fort Hope. She had been tall, blonde and blue-eyed. Rumour had it that she came from Moose Factory and that her father had been an army officer. They had two young boys, seven and eight. Mrs. Gordon had had appendicitis and her husband operated on her, but after a few days had a bad turn. She was sent to the hospital in Fort William but did not recover. Mr. Gordon took leave of absence and took the two young boys to Scotland to live with their grandparents and to be educated. I never heard any more about them.

It seems that the managers and clerks of the Hudson's Bay Company and Revillon Brothers were not allowed to be friendly and visit each other. Mr. Gordon never came to visit with us, but his young clerk, Jack Robinson came to our place every Saturday and all day Sunday. The Posts and business was never discussed. I used to ask "How is Mr. Gordon?" The reply was always the same, "Very well, thank you."

Jack Robinson soon made our home his home and we really liked him. A nice young gentleman, he had come to Fort Hope by the way of canoe up the Albany River from James Bay. He told Mr. Gordon that he was learning to cook so that they could have proper meals. As it was, they took turns cooking and had an Indian woman to clean up. Jack had signed on with the Hudson's Bay Company for five years at $100 per year. He had signed up in Scotland. And after five years in Canada had seen no more of it than the Fort Hope area.


Our two year term with Revillon was up in the spring of 1913. We came out with the regular spring trip that was taking furs and reports to Nipigon. I think our contract called for wages of $800 for the two years. We were in a hurry to get to Fort William. We were on short rations on the way down and at the Ombabika post Mrs. Thorpe didn't recognize me I was so brown. Jack Robinson's term was up so he came with us. With his credit of $500 for his five years work and his passage paid to Scotland, he immediately booked his passage when he got to Fort William. My husband and I went with him to the ship in Fort William to say our good-bye's.

Then the war came on and that was the end. We never heard from him again.

He was such a nice young gentleman.

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