A vivid depiction of the lives of a Scottish fur trader and his far-flung family on both sides of the Atlantic.
James Hargrave left an economically depressed Scotland in 1819, found work as a North West Company wintering clerk, and went on to survive the company's 1821 merger with the rival Hudson's Bay Company and subsequent downsizing to spend most of his forty years in the fur trade at York Factory on the desolate shores of Hudson Bay in the service of Governor George Simpson.
A prodigious letter writer, Hargrave saved drafts of his business and personal correspondence in letterbooks. He wrote to family and friends settled in Beauharnois County on the south shore of the St Lawrence and in the Tweed valley in Scotland, as well as to his future wife, Letitia Mactavish, and members of her fur-trading family in Argyllshire on Scotland's west coast. His letters document the experiences of a "lowland" Scottish family in North America, as well as happenings at the administrative centre of the Hudson's Bay Company fur trade. He expresses his views on religion, history, politics, and literature, describes his romantic attachments, and makes clear his attitudes towards the company's Native partners in the fur trade.
Rich source material for readers interested in migration literature, social history, religious studies, women's studies, and the history of the fur trade, the letters collected here make a significant addition to two earlier volumes - The Letters of Letitia Hargrave, and The Hargrave Correspondence 1821-1843.