the decline of the bowhead whale fishery in the Beaufort Sea many
ex-whalers were engaging in fur trading in the western Arctic.
Perhaps it was this activity, including the successful operation
of C.T. Pederson on behalf of Liebes and Company, that pushed
the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) to ensure its role in the
western Arctic trade. The HBC expanded across the arctic coast
in 1912 with the establishment of a post at Kittigazuit. Soon
they moved both west and east establishing the Herschel Island
post in 1915 and the Baillie Island and Bernard Harbour posts
in 1916. The later posts were put in by the HBC schooner Fort
McPherson. While the Baillie Island post was being established,
the Inuk Nuligak, observed Captain Pedersen coming in to trade
on behalf of the H. Liebes Company.
still there when the H.B.C. (Hudsons Bay Company) ship, the
McPherson, arrived. They were coming in to build a
store. Still another boat, Captain Pedersen’s Herman,
came in to buy furs and sell merchandise for Liebes Company
(Metayer 1972: 107).
Fort McPherson distributed freight between 1915 and 1930.
It sank in October of 1930 off Richardson Island in the Coronation
Fort MacPherson and Ptarmigan, Gjoa Haven, King
William Island, N.W.T., 1930.
Archives of Canada/PA 100648)
independent traders such as Klengenberg and Northern Traders Ltd.
began operating in the Coronation Gulf region, at Cape (1916)
and Tree River (1917) respectively, the HBC moved quickly to establish
competing posts at Bernard Harbour (1916) and Agiaq (1917). The
HBC bought out Northern Traders operation at Tree River and closed
the Agiaq post in favour of the Tree river location. The Tree
River post was moved to Kugaryuak in 1928 where it remained until
closing in 1939. The Tree River post was visited by Danish ethnographer
Knud Rasmussen in 1924:
[whitemen] we met a Tree River were not of the type that is
common in these regions. The young representative of the R.C.M.P.,
William Gibson, was an Irishman who had done his “bit”
in the Great War...R.C. MacGregor, the manager of the Hudson’s
Bay Company there, was a Scotsman who had also passed through
the hard school of the War, both in France and in Salonica...Tree
River is the most easterly port of call of the Company’s
large cargo steamer “Lady Kindersley” (Rasmussen
young R.C.M.P. officer William Gibson who came north in 1920 later
joined the HBC at Herschel Island in 1925. He was immediately
sent to manage the HBC post at Simpson Strait and moved with the
post to Gjoa Haven in 1927. Gibson was the first white man seen
by Elders Emily Haloktalik and Mabel Angulalik:
white man I encountered was a man by the name of Gibson. I was
terrified of him. (Emily Haloktalik, Kuukyuak 3)
man must have been here way back before I was born. Over in
the Gjoa Haven area I saw a white man. I believe his name was
Gibson. (Mabel Ervana Angulalik in “Kuukyuak Interviews”).
operations pushed further east with the establishment of the Kent
Peninsula post in 1920. Hugh Clarke and Rudolph Johnson opened
up this post. They began trading from the schooner El Sueno,
until they were able to erect several buildings on the site later
that year. Danish ethnographer Knud Rasmussen visited the post
in November 1923 and gave this description:
drew up before the little trading post, which was built in a
sheltered cove almost at the mouth of the great fjord Ilu. I
was given a most cordial welcome. The post is managed by Mr.
H. Clarke, an intelligent and likeable young man, who had been
sent by the H.B.C. up into these remote regions to organize
all the new posts that had been established east of Baillie
Island. Mr. Clark’s assistant was a Danish marine engineer,
Rudolf Jensen, who for about twenty years had lived up around
the delta of the Mackenzie as an independent trapper and was
now in the Company’s service (Rasmussen 1932: 11).
Hudson Bay Company Post on the Kent Peninsula with warehouse in
the foreground, 1925.
Burwash/National Archives of Canada/PA 176434)
HBC expanded to Simpson Strait on King William Island in 1923
– a post established by former whaler Peter Norberg. They
also expanded into Bathurst inlet in 1925, establishing a post
at Western River. The next year however, the newly formed Canalaska
Trading Company of C.T. Pederson established posts at Banks Peninsula
in Bathurst Inlet; Whitebear Point; and Perry River. The HBC responded
by moving the Bathurst Inlet post to Banks Peninsula and establishing
points at Ellice River to rival the Whitebear Point post, and
at Perry River to rival the Canalaska post there. In 1928, the
Government of Canada ordered both the HBC and Canalaska out of
Perry river due to their perception that the area was being over
hunted – both posts were on major migration routes.
first HBC post at Perry River was run by J. Livingstone. Livingstone
was remembered by Ahiarmiut Elders who lived at Perry River. He
was referred to as Levensen but also had another name:
man they called "Putuguituk". I don't remember him
but he used to call me, "His little sister", because
he was the friend of Angutjuk's - my adoptive parents.
remembering that Inuit had called Mr. Levenson “Putuguituk”.
Older Inuit had given him that name. The story was told that
Levenson would help Mabel's adoptive parents. He was with the
Hudson's Bay Company, over at Flagstaff Island. Mackie recalled
seeing him [Levenson] in a boat. My mother had heard they called
him Putuguituk (Mabel Ervana Angulalik, Kuukyuak 5).
Livingstone was missing a big toe on one or both of his feet.
started a trading post at Gjoa Haven in 1927. The Canadian government
ordered the HBC to remove the post at Kent Peninsula as they believed
it interfered with caribou migrations and so they moved to Gjoa
Haven too. The Kent Peninsula post was closed in 1927 in favour
of making Cambridge Bay the depot and administrative headquarters
for the eastern section of the western Arctic district. The stock
and buildings were loaded on to the Baymaud and moved to
The Baymaud, formerly captained by Roald Amundsen, bought
by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1926. They
operated it as a supply vessel for the western Arctic between 1926
was moored at Cambridge Bay in 1928 and used a warehouse and wireless
until it sank between 1930 and 1932. Her
master between 1926 and 1927 was Gus Fellmer.
Hudson’s Bay Co. ship Baymaud, Cambridge
Bay, south of Victoria Island, April 30, 1929.
Burwash/National Archives of Canada/PA 99698)
Bay began as a depot and outpost of the Kent Peninsula post in
1920. It was built into a permanent post in the fall of 1923,
but was closed between 1925 and 1927 due to lack of fuel after
the wreck of the supply ship Lady Kindersley. The Lady
Kindersley was built in 1920, only four year before it was
wrecked in the ice off the Alaskan coast in 1924. The headquarters
of the eastern portion of the western Arctic district of the HBC
was moved to Cambridge Bay from Kent Peninsula in 1927.