D. A. SMITH TO THOMAS FRASER, LONDON.
RECORDS, HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY.
Cartwright, Sandwich Bay, 22nd July, 1863.
. . . “In any case, but especially in view of the much greater quantity of goods and provisions which will be required on the increase of the business by the establishment of additional posts, I do not think it will be at all for the interest of the Company to continue the existing arrangements for introducing the supplies. I shall however now fully consider this matter and shall hereafter speak more at length regarding it and some other subjects to which time will hardly now permit me to refer, but in case the Board should in the meantime take any action in the matter, I would beg to say that for some years back Messrs. Hunt and Henley have been in the habit of chartering vessels in Canada, on much more favourable terms than those exacted from the Hudsons Bay Company, and I cannot see why there should be any difference, in this respect. However in the event of Ungava being re-established, the Company will, I presume, require to have a vessel of their own for the voyage, which will at same time bring in the supplies for Esquimaux Bay.
Operation at Lake Winebegan (Willow Lake) ought to have been, and but for the unfortunate detention here, of course would have been commenced at a much earlier date, but I shall lose no time after my return to North West River, in despatching a party to form an establishment there, placing it in charge of one of the gentlemen now in the District, altho' we can at present ill spare for the purpose any officer fit for the charge. I shall if possible also proceed thither myself to assist in choosing a site for the post.
My suggestions to the late Sir George Simpson with regard to the enlargement of the business of Esquimaux Bay district, embraced the re-occupation of Ft. Chimo, Ungava Bay, or should this not be considered desirable, then the formation of a station in the interior of Fraser's River near to Nain, the former being however in my opinion much preferable, and during the past winter we prepared a quantity of logs, boards and other building materials which would be available for the repair or re-erection of buildings at Ft. Chimo. Even had I not heard from the Board on the subject, it was my intention this season to have brought it to their notice, feeling satisfied that if we do not shortly make a move in that direction, others will do so, as I believe there are several on this coast who have for years back had an eye on that quarter, and amongst them Mr. N. Norman who I have been told, went so far as to engage one or more persons for the
trip. This I repeatedly urged upon the attention of Sir George Simpson once or twice officially, but more generally under private cover, and he appeared to be fully alive to the importance of protecting the Company's interests by again occupying that place hesitating only as to the comparative advantages of forwarding the supplies from Hudson Bay (Whale River) or this district. To the former I was at first inclined to give the preference, thinking that it would less attract the attention of Mr. Norman and others in this quarter who might be inclined to follow us thither, but on more mature consideration I am now of opinion that it would be better it should be outfitted from and form a part of this district, believing that a divided charge would cause very great inconvenience owing to the propensity of the natives for wandering from one district to another believing that by so doing they were relieved from the necessity of liquidating what on their return to either district had become old debts, the baneful effects of which I have too frequently seen while I was stationed at the King's Posts as well as in the relations between Mingan and Esquimaux Bay. I am of opinion that the business at Ungava should for some time at least be conducted on a more limited and consequently more economical scale than formerly, confining it in the first instance to Fort Chimo. That it will be very profitable for some years I do not think, but on the other hand if parties inimical to the Company were to find their way there, the injury to the trade not only of Ft. Nascopie, but in all probability likewise of Ruperts River District and East Main would be incalculable, and I am consequently most happy to learn that the request of the Moravian Brethren to be permitted to settle there, either as Missionaries, or Missionaries and Traders conjoined has not been acceded to by the Board.
The “United Brethren” on this Coast appear year after year to be more and more laying aside the character of Missionaries of the Gospel and assuming that of ordinary merchants or traders; and I have lately heard that they are now forming a new station about half way twixt Hopedale and Nain, in front and within a few hundred yards of a small outpost occupied by us from 1858 till the autumn of 1861. since which time owing to the irregularity in receiving our supplies and partly from having had no competent person available for the charge it has been left unoccupied, altho' in fact some of the Company's property is still in store there. I would however mention that the place is not of much importance and that I had no intention of sending any of our people there this season owing to the great depreciation in the value of Trout which formed a principal item of returns, still it would have been no undue stretch of courtesy on the part of the Missionaries to have at least informed us of their intention before proceeding with the erection of buildings, and as I hope to have an opportunity of meeting them next winter I shall then speak to them on the subject.
A rumour is current here that a large number of Esquimaux from Ungava and Richmond Gulf have found their way to Hebron in course of the past year, but I have not yet been able to ascertain how far this may be correct. . . . .”