Fort Albany, Ontario
|Cochrane District, Ontario, Canada|
|Fort Albany as it appeared in 1886|
|Controlled by||Hudson's Bay Company|
Fort Albany First Nation is a community in Cochrane District in Northeastern Ontario, Canada. Situated on the southern shore of the Albany River, Fort Albany First Nation is only accessible by air or by winter road. The community policed by the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service, an Aboriginal-based service.
Fort Albany was one of the oldest and most important Hudson's Bay Company posts.
The community of Fort Albany is accessible by air, by water and also by the winter road. The winter road is only used during the months of early or late January to early or late March depending on the weather conditions. Air Creebec provides Fort Albany with daily passengers’ flights, with connecting flights to Toronto and/or other points of travel. These arrangements are done in Timmins on Air Creebec, Air Canada, Thunder Air, or Bearskin Airlines.
Fort Albany is also accessible through the waters of James Bay and the Albany River. Moosonee Transportation Limited provides barge service by carrying supplies at least once or twice each summer by traveling up and down the coast to each community. Freighter canoes can travel from Fort Albany to Calstock and return whenever the water levels are sufficient to make river travel possible.
Outboard motors and canoes are used during the summer months for other activities such as hunting, trapping, and fishing. During the winter months, skidoos are the main transportation around the community. There are pick-up trucks, vans, and all terrain vehicles owed by both businesses and individuals.
The winter road was completed in the early spring of 1974. It is also used extensively during the winter months. This road is maintained by contractors. The road links all the surrounding communities together, such as Attawapiskat, Moosonee, Moose Factory and Kashechewan.
Air Creebec transports mail and provides other freight services through Fort Albany Airport. The present passenger rate is $921.90 for an adult return trip to Timmins. These rates increase on an annual basis. Seat sales are available, which are less expensive than the regular fare price. The seat sales have to be booked ten (10) days in advance. Air Creebec also provides charter flights when required.
Air Creebec also handles the Patient Transportation up the coastal communities on a daily basis, Mondays to Fridays. These flights are intended only for hospital patients requiring out of the community hospital care. Other private small airlines (e.g. Wabusk Air) also provide charter services, which sometimes are cheaper than a regular flight on Air Creebec.
The basic economy of the area is a subsistence allowance. There are seasonal jobs that involve construction work for the major capital projects like the dyke, the new school, and the Mid Canada Line. There are the traditional economic activities like trapping, fishing and hunting. Government make-work projects create some employment from time to time. There are a small number of employment opportunities including the Fort Albany First Nation Administration office, Mundo Peetabeck Education authority, Peetabeck Health Services. Fort Albany Power Authority, James Bay General Hospital, Northern Store, Air Creebec, and other small private owned businesses.
The new De Beers Diamond mine in James Bay will also provide many new opportunities.
The majority of the population speaks Mushkegowuk Cree. Many men and women, younger and to the age of fifty, are bilingual in Cree and English. Children are taught in Cree and English at an early age. The community consists of quite a mixture of linguistics, with English, French, Cree, Ojibway, and Oji-Cree spoken.
Old Fort Albany
Old Fort Albany, which was on an island between the two modern day communities, became separated into Anglican and Roman Catholic sections. Then the Roman Catholic mission, and the Roman Catholic portion of the community, moved to the current site of modern day Fort Albany (on the southern shore). The Anglican portion of the community some years later moved to the current site of Kashechewan. Up until the 1970s Fort Albany and Kashechewan shared the same chief and council. In the 1970s they came to have separate Band Councils. Fort Albany and Kashechewan are treated as separate bands, and function as separate Bands today. New Fort Albany is mostly a Roman Catholic community, while Kashechewan is mainly Anglican.
Hudson's Bay Company Post
Fort Albany was one of the three original Hudson's Bay Company posts on James Bay the others being Moose Factory on the south shore and Rupert House on the east. The fort was built inland from the river mouth, partly for defense, and moved several times. Ships from England had to lay at the river mouth at Albany Roads. The east-flowing Albany River drew furs from as far west as Lake St. Joseph. From there a portage ran west to Lac Seul, the English River (Ontario), the Winnipeg River and beyond. A north-flowing branch, the Kenogami River led upstream toward Lake Superior at Wawa, Ontario and another branch, the Ogoki River led toward Lake Nipigon. Until around 1775 the English were content to remain on the coast and let Indians bring furs to them. The whole area was exposed to French competition from Montreal.
About 1675 the area was explored by Charles Bayly and Fort Albany established in 1679. In 1683 Henry Sergeant was directed to make it the chief post. In 1684 a Monsieur Péré reached the fort from French Canada. He was arrested and his two companions sent to Charlton Island. In 1685 the French built Fort des Français at the juncture of the Albany and Kenogami Rivers to block Indians from coming north to trade. In 1686 all three posts were captured by an overland expedition from Quebec (Hudson Bay expedition (1686)). In 1688 the English sent ships to reestablish their posts but were defeated by French ships that had come to re-supply the forts (Battle of Fort Albany). In 1693 the English retook the fort (Battle of Fort Albany (1693)) and held it thereafter. By the Treaty of Ryswick (1697) Albany was to be returned to the French, but nothing was done until war resumed in 1702. In 1709 the French tried and failed to capture the fort (Battle of Fort Albany (1709)). In 1713 the Treaty of Utrecht gave the Bay to the English. Sloops from Albany would trade along the east coast until a new post build on the Eastmain River in 1723-24 and Moose Factory was reestablished in 1730. In 1743 Henley House was built 160 miles up the Albany. In 1777 Gloucester House was built 243 miles above Henley House and in 1786 Osnaburgh House at the outflow of Lake St. Joseph. This westward expansion significantly increased the trade of Fort Albany. In 1793 the Governor of Albany Fort established posts on the Rainy River and Winnipeg River. Until the union of the two companies in 1821 posts supplied from Fort Albany competed with North West Company men from Lake Superior and even HBC posts supplied from York Factory,
Some Chief Factors were: 1728: William Bevan (sloopmaster); 1730: Joseph Adams (HBC chief factor); 1734: Thomas Bird (HBC chief factor); 1743: Joseph Isbister; 1768: Humphrey Martin; 1800: John Hodgson (HBC Chief Factor): 1810: Thomas Vincent  (This is a partial list; please expand!)
- Arthur S Morton,"A History of the Canadian West"
- http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/hodgson_john_6E.html, http://www.redriverancestry.ca/HODGSON-JOHN-1763.php, http://southpeacearchives.org/2013/10/17/davis-hodgson/