August 1993 2 3 4 Alcohol use and the Fur Trade, 1822 5 ...........edited by Marijan Salopek 7 8 9 ==================================== 10 Letter from George Simpson, Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, 11 to Andrew Colvile, member of the Governing Committee in London, 12 20 May 1822 13 14 Re: Alcohol use and the fur trade. 15 16 It is not my province to go into this subject in a moral point of 17 view and shall therefore confine my opinion thereon as to the 18 effect such restriction might have on our Trade. If the quantity 19 of Spirits given to Indians was calculated I am satisfied it 20 would not amount to a pint p. man annually on an average, which 21 may give some idea of the extent of Crime likely to result 22 therefrom; and I'll venture to say there are not three murders 23 committed annually on the average of the last Ten Years in the 24 whole tract of Country occupied by the Hudson's Bay Coy. from 25 ebrity. As an article of trade it is not generally used and I do 26 not suppose we make Ten packs of Furs p. annum by it: it is, 27 however, the grand Stimulus to call forth the exertions of the 28 Indians and I have often heard them reason thus, "it is not for 29 your Cloth and Blankets that we undergo all this labor and 30 fatigue as in a short time we could reconcile ourselves to the 31 use of Skins for Clothes as our forefathers did, but it is the 32 prospect of Drink in the Spring, to enable us to communicate 33 freely and speak our minds to each other that carries us through 34 the Winter and induces us to Work so hard." This I really 35 believe to be the case, and that if Spirits were withheld it 36 would materially discourage them and produce a lassitude which 37 Weight of other property could not remove.-- 38 In the Provision Countries it is, however, a very principal 39 article of Trade and indispensibly necessary: the Plain Indians 40 are a bold, independent race, Dress entirely in Skins and with 41 them Tobacco and Spirits are the principal commodities, a Quart 42 of Mixed Liquor will at times procure more Pounded Meat and 43 Grease than a Bale of Cloth, indeed our whole profit in that 44 Trade is upon those articles, and if Provisions were paid for in 45 Dry Goods they would eat up all the gains of the Fur Trade. I 46 therefore sincerely hope the Committee will take due time to 47 examine this subject and that they will not prematurely determine 48 thereon as it might be very injurious to the interests of the 49 Concern; ... 50 51 Source: 52 53 Public Archives of Canada, Selkirk Papers, M.G. 19, EL 54 (1), vol. 24.