Undelivered Letters to Hudson's Bay Company Men on the Northwest Coast of America, 1830-57
In the early nineteenth century, when the Hudson's Bay Company sent men to its furthest posts along the coast of North America's Pacific Northwest, the letters of those who cared for those men followed them in the Company's supply ships. Sometimes, these letters missed their objects -- the men had returned to Britain, or deserted their ships, or died. The Company returned the correspondence to its London office and over the years amassed a file of "undelivered letters." Many of these remained sealed for 150 years until they were opened by archivist Judith Hudson Beattie, when the Company archives were moved to Canada.
The letters tell the stories of ordinary people whose lives are rarely recounted in traditional histories. Editorial commentaries fram, for contemporary readers, the words of early nineteenth-century working- and middle-class British folk as well as letters to "voyageurs" from Quebec. Their stories offer rare insights into the varied worlds of men and women who settled the Pacific Northwest.