Tales from Hudson’s Bay

Tales from Hudson’s Bay

24899821_166197774125087_5452215889398350353_n (1).jpg


Early Hudson Bay Company’s– Some of our Lanark families went north– northern Ontario. This is an early photo from Tom Edwards family.. He has no idea what part of his family went north.. Mobrert .It is in Northern Ontario near Marathon– This is the Hudson Bay store.

When David Thompson, the famous Canadian explorer and fur trader, was setting out from Fort William in the year 1806 to explore that vast region which lay beyond the Great Divide, his partners in the North West Company insisted that he should take with him two kegs of alcohol. Thompson was well aware of the deplorable results that had followed the introduction of spirits among the Indians, but he was overruled.

When he came to the defiles of the Saskatchewan, he caused two kegs to be loaded on the back of vicious horse. By noon the kegs were empty and broken to pieces and Thompson wrote to his partners telling them what he had done. He vowed that so long as he was in charge of the fur trade across the mountains, he would do the same with every keg of alcohol which was sent, to him. He was as good as his word: and thus for a few years at least succeeded in keeping the curse of spirits from the Indians of the Pacific slope.

August 12, 2006 –4.43 pm– Talking about Hudson’s Bay……

On Saturday a very tall man walked up behind our car parked along the Hayward Fault  in Oakland and asked if he should be worried that I was taking photographs of the area. I heard Steve laugh and say loudly,

“Don’t worry she’s Canadian!”

I chuckled to myself and wondered why Canadians are always considered a trusted lot no matter what the scenario. I looked at this tall man with a weathered face and long hair gathered into a ponytail under a hat. He seemed like he would be more comfortable riding the range with Sam Sheppard than patrolling the roads for rogue photographers in the Oakland Hills.

Without skipping a beat I told him I was indeed Canadian, and I meant no trouble to anyone. I showed him the landscape pictures I had taken of the area and he looked me squarely in the eyes and said he knew I was a storyteller because he was one himself.

The man told me he had come to California by the way of Wyoming and had lost another two of his friends from the Vietnam war two days ago. With tears welling up in my eyes I told him how I had lost a good friend in the same war. He looked at me with blank eyes and said he no longer wished to talk about the subject.

Instead, he began to tell me about the legendary Hudson’s Bay,like he assumed every Canadian should know. With a lone tone he told me that the waters run cold and the polar bears are hungry. Not wanting to break his verbal beat I nodded my head in agreement and felt like I could listen to this man for hours.

As the story goes; within minutes upon arriving on the shores of the Hudson’s Bay in Canada he immediately came face to face with an enormous white polar bear. Apparently they stalked each other for a few hundred yards and he eventually made it safely to his cabin. He continues his story with moving hand gestures and increasing volume how this particular bear spent days throwing himself at the door of his cabin. I had a hard time digesting this part as I had to wonder why the bear would continually stick around for days on end when he probably had better places to feed than to wait upon a tall thin man with no meat on him at all.

By this time the story begins to flow into a strange literary tributary from years of it being told over and over to anyone who would listen. Through a small hole in the roof of his cabin our storyteller spies a plane flying overhead and decides he will face his fate to be rescued. Apparently the bear had moved on after all and our storyteller finds himself wading into the cold depths of the Hudson’s Bay waving at the plane that still is flying overhead. The pontoon plane lands on the cold chilly waters of the Bay and our raconteur pulls himself up to safety inside the plane.

Of course the pilot of the plane belonged to the Royal Mounted Police and as he throws our man of tales a blanket he laughs and simply says,

“I figured you might need a ride eh?”

The story stops dead in his tracks at that point and he tells me his publisher is waiting for him to finish his book but, he is having problems with his editor who is also his wife. He explains that she was an English major once upon a time and they are both arguing over the grammar he uses in his stories. We both agree sometimes proper grammar gets in the way of telling a story the way it is meant to be told and both of us will continue to tell stories from our heart and to hell with punctuation.

With that he utters a few more words to conclude the story, but I can’t tell you what he said, as the story belongs solely to him. So if one day you see someone looking much like Sam Sheppard wandering around the Oakland Hills stop him and you will hear one hell of a yarn about a man, a bear and the cold waters of Hudson’s Bay. I am sure by that point the story might be a tad longer because as we know the storytellers of the world are individuals with really good memories. They just hope the people listening or reading their tales don’t remember or care about bad grammar and punctuation. At least I do.


From Gemmil’s Creek to the Riel Rebellion

From Carleton Place to Fish Creek –North West Rebellion

Men Of Lanark Play Big Part Building West

Lanark County Moves West — Sarah Plain and Tall it was Not

When Crops Failed — Lanark County Went Manitoba Dreamin’

Dr. Andrew Elliott of Almonte — Tarred and Feathered

Elizabeth Lindsay of Almonte — Victorian Women Business Owners

If you go West- You might not come back..


About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

One response »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s