The Wintering Camp is a camp that was set up by Miles MacDonell. These were the fellows who were supposed to go down there, clear the land, prepare the fields for the settlers when they came the following year. They arrived late, they had a hard time getting to the Hudson's Bay, and they needed to overwinter, basically, and stay at near York factory over winter so then in the early spring they could make it down to the Red River.
The site was found and archaeologists excavated there and recovered the officers cabin and some other quarters as well and they found a number of artifacts there. This archaeological material has not been available to the public before plus it's directly connected to the Selkirk Settlement.
The button belonged to William Hillier who was a navigator for the Royal Navy, previously, and was on the ships that came over with these groups. He made this wonderful map of the area at that time during that winter, including York Factory and the camp of the wintering site.
But the button itself probably belonged to him and we think this because it has very particular insignia on it which relate specifically to what was called a master sailor. It was a ranked button and the only person that we know of that rank was William Hillier who was at the site at that time.
The other item is a small chess piece, a rook, and it's made out of a hollowed-out bird bone, and it's a, it was something I'm sure that they were doing over the winter. They must have been bored and were probably playing games. This was found in the officer's quarters so we know that it was probably some of the educated officers who are playing this game together.
These men were not prepared to survive through this winter. There were a number of them, there were over 50, and they didn't have the skills or the knowledge of this back country to to make a go of it.
The Hudson's Bay Company realized this and they commissioned First Nations that were living nearby to provide them with as much caribou meat as possible. We don't find fish bones at the site despite the fact they on a river, but what we do find a lot of is caribou bones and we have evidence that they were butchered, you can see the butcher marks, and this would have been provided by the First Nations people.
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