Native labour and social stratification in the Hudson's Bay Company's Northern Department. 1770–18701



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    I wish to thank the Hudson's Bay Company for granting me permission to consult and quote from its archival holdings. I also wish to thank Arthur J. Ray for his ideas and suggestions, particularly those related to the graphical representations of the models used in this paper.


The Hudson's Bay Company began to employ Indian and Métis about 1770. During the competitive period (until 1821) natives held administrative as well as labouring positions. Under near monopoly conditions after 1821, natives did not fare as well. With few exceptions they gained access only to the lowest levels of the employment hierarchy. This loss of status caused frustration which was expressed in several ways.

La Comagnie de La Baie d'Hudson commenc;ait à employer des Amérindiens et des Métis jusqu'en 1770. Pendant lapériode concurrentielle (jusqu'à 1821) les indigènes ont tenu des postes administratifs ainsi que des postes journaliers. Sous des conditions qui s'approche d'un monopole après 1821, les indigènes ne se débrouillaient pas aussi bien. Sauf pour quelques exceptions, ils ont réussi seulement les plus bas rangs d'hiérarchie d'emploie. Cette perte de status a causé la frustration qui était exprimée par divers manières.