HBC Archives unveils new collection

Pemmican War trial manuscripts now available for public research.

Written by Joel Ralph

June 20, 2017

The Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, Archives of Manitoba, has officially unveiled twelve new archival manuscripts which it acquired last year. The Pemmican war trial manuscripts document the legal fallout of the Pemmican Wars and the Battle of Seven Oaks.

“The collection consists of incitements and documents from the initial court proceedings held in Montreal in Lower Canada in 1818,” explained Maureen Dolyniuk, Keeper, Hudson's Bay Company Archives.

“The indictments were issued in response to charges against both Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company employees. These include incitements for grand larceny, riot and false imprisonment, stealing of boats on a navigable river, as well as for the murder of Governor Robert Semple, Surgeon James White, and Captain John Rogers.”

The collection is important for understanding the complicated process of legal authority in the early Red River settlement. The documents have been described and added to the Manitoba Archives Online Database. It’s the first time the records have been made available for public research.

The University of Manitoba Archives also acquired four printed books that complement the collection of original documents. The entire collection was originally identified by University of Manitoba archivist Brian Hubner who saw it as a critical to telling the story of Manitoba and the Red River settlement.

“The four items that we bought relate to the Hudson’s Bay Company charter and really about the courts of Upper and Lower Canada extending their jurisdiction to Rupert’s Land so they could try these cases,” explained Hubner. “They’re great items and really a great collection.”

The manuscripts and books were part of a larger collection of documents held by Canadian collector Lawrence Lande who passed away in 1998. They were purchased last year from a private seller with the support of the Hudson’s Bay Company History Foundation and the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives Trust Fund.

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