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Fur Trade Letters of Willie Traill 1864-1893

Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian;
Status: In Print
Authentic Canadian Content

Son of Catharine Parr Traill and nephew of Susanna Moodie, William Edward Traill, better known as Willie, came by his literary talent naturally. He found employment with the Hudson’s Bay Company in what was to become the Canadian West. His letters home are a rich and detailed portrait of domestic life in the fur trade of the Northwest between 1864 and 1893. At turns gritty then deeply touching but always fascinating and informative, the Willie Traill letters throw open a window on the joys and heartbreaking challenges of family life in the service of the fur trade.

"As Michael Peterman writes in the Foreword, Willie Traill went west in 1864 and devoted his entire working life to the Hudson's Bay Company. His career took him westward from the Manitoba territory to Fort Ellice and many other posts before he completed his tenure at Fort St. James in British Columbia. He and Harriet, daughter of Chief Factor William MacKay, had twelve children, nine of whom survived....There are more than 250 of William Traill's personal letters extant, and 177 are represented in Fur Trade Letters of Willie Traill. These letters, written to family and close friends, trace Willie Traill's entire twenty-nine-year career with the Hudson's Bay company, from his days as a raw recruit to his retirement from the Company as a seasoned veteran. These letters invite readers into Willie's life as it unfolds—giving them an intimate view of the daily challenges faced by an HBC trader and his family....Willie would see Mother Nature at her worst: frosts, droughts, floods, hailstorms, famines, fires, and hordes of grasshoppers that totally destroyed crops and gardens. He would witness the dreadful smallpox, scarlet fever, and whooping cough epidemics that decimated the Plains Indians and white populations alike. He would be affected by the Red River and Noth West Rebellions, Confederation, the completion of the Trans Canada Railroad, and the virtual annihilation of the buffalo—which irreversibly destroyed the way of life of the Plains Indians." -