Talk:Pacific Fur Company

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Fort Thompson (fur trade) or Fort Shuswap was PFC[edit]

I can never keep them straight; one was the PFC-cum-NWC post, the other a never-quite HBC post; the HBC took over the NWC in 1821, and the name slowly became Fort Kamloops I guess. But which was it at the start? What other APC posts were there in the Interior - I know there were some. I'll try and get writing Ft Kamloops/Shuswap/Thompson once I straighten out whose was which, and after I get Fort McLoughlin and Fort Simpson (Pacific coast) started.....Skookum1 (talk) 16:20, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

According to Meinig (in "Great Columbian Plain"), both companies built posts at Kamloops in 1812. The PFC was first, building a post they called She-whaps on the south side of the river. The NWC responded by building "a rival post across the river (which became known as Kamloops)". At first I think the NWC post was called "Thompson's River" or "Fort Thompson". Not sure how and when it became Kamloops. The reverse occurred with Spokane -- first set up by the NWC, followed by a rival post by the PFC. According to a map in the Meinig book showing fur posts by the company that established them, in addition to "double posts" at She-Whaps/Kamloops and Spokane, the PFC established Astoria (Fort George), Willamette (near today's Oregon City), Clearwater (on the Clearwater River and apparently closed down in 1813), and Okanogan. That might be it. Pfly (talk) 16:50, 10 May 2008 (UTC)
Gov. Simpson in that Howay/Scholefield book I linked uses "Thompson's River" (1841). I guess all these should be added to the PFC article overleaf; you'll note my addition of the WA/BC history cats.....Skookum1 (talk) 17:00, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

Faillure of Astoria and NWC purchase[edit]

After a number of set-backs, the Pacific Fur Company failed when the supply ship Beaver was late to arrive at Fort Astoria as anticipated. Fort Astoria and all other company assets in the Oregon Country were sold to the Montreal-based North West Company in October 1813, under duress during the War of 1812.

It's way more complicaed than that and "duress" is certainly a POV interpretation of the situation which led to the transfer of the fort; it was the partners in charge, who happened to be the Canadians (Hunt was absent, up talking to the Russians), and the scenario included factors like the collapse of the sea otter population and a gathering of ships and men taking refuge from a rising environment of regular warlike hostilities farther north, particularly the destruction of the Boston but also others, and the fort's resources and morale were under strain. By the way, sea otter is, by the way, what was meant by "beaver" in the records of the coastal trade, according to one old-era historian I've been reading (Bancroft, Begg or Scholefield & Howay). Yes, it was anticipated a warship would arrive to seize the fort (as the US had no Pacific Fleet in 1813, but the British did), but it was, according to the accounts of all three historians, a combination of all the factors, not just "duress". The NWC boys had arrived looking for grub, and wound up perceiving the situation and, all of them knowing each other also - and the NWC had curtsyed out of the lower Columbia, upon finding the Astorians, and had set up shop at Fort Okanagan, y'see. Astoria had not been economically viable, and the sea otter collapse; it was economic duress from the collapse of the sea otter supply, and duress from a climate of native warfare farther north, and something like good timing...the article should also have something about the re-transfer of assets and the longevity of the fort etc. On a corporate level, it might be good to add the Board of Directors and other company officials (if not already there, I htink they are on Astor's article and maybe in the Tonquin one). I'll come back at some point with chapter/page refs from the histories, which are all online.Skookum1 (talk) 02:58, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

Tried to address these points a little. At least the "duress" bit. Also added some... color to the aftermath. This Nisbet book is quite good. One could add a bit about the actual people involved... John George McTavish for the NWC and Duncan McDougall for the PFC, at least. But good though the Nisbet book is it focuses on David Thompson and only skims over this bit of history. I'm guessing both of these people were NWC or former NWC employees, but not quite sure. Pfly (talk) 04:29, 2 August 2008 (UTC)
Oh, and for what it's worth, I think the NWC did not give up on the lower Columbia. They founded Fort Nez Perces -- it was the PFC that set up Fort Okanogan. I think the NWC had every intention of founding of post near the mouth of the Columbia for which to supply their Columbia District/Department posts. Had the War of 1812 and other events not given the NWC Astoria and no competition, I think they'd have competed against the PFC for control of the lower Columbia. As far as I've been able to get from reading about it, Thompson and the whole NWC in the first part of the 1810s was into the idea of supplying the Columbia District via the river's mouth instead of overland. I could be wrong, and it is sort of an aside, but thought I'd mention it. Pfly (talk) 04:36, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

Interior forts[edit]

Hi Pfly, glad to see you're around; apparently things might be a little easier now - ?? Just to note that content on the Interior forts of the PFC is very much missing; of course it would help if I started Thompson's River Post (or was it Fort Shuswap that was the PFC one, and Thompson's River was NWC?). The Isaac Todd should probably be linked, and a dab come up with for the PFC's Beaver - Beaver (Pacific Fur Company) maybe?Skookum1 (talk) 17:39, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

Hi.. slightly easier for the moment, but probably not for long. Plus got another long trip in September (this time by plane to Boston), so.. Anyway I think the PFC post at Kamloops was called She-whaps, or something like that. I can check the Meinig book later. Not sure about the ships. I don't have a good sense of them yet. My mentions of Isaac Todd are right out of Nisbet. I'd never heard of it before. Pfly (talk) 21:55, 2 August 2008 (UTC)
It's either in Begg or Scholefield & Howay, the Isaac Todd, that is - it was the ship originally sent out to seize Fort Astoria but got hung up on other duties or some kind of trouble along the way. She-whaps is indeed what period docs name the PFC fort as, though I've usually seen Fort Shuswap....although hmmm I think, maybe because of the merger of the two posts, it was also used for Thompson's River Post (which also gets called Fort Thompson).Skookum1 (talk) 22:29, 2 August 2008 (UTC)
further comment Kullyspell House, Kootanae House, Saleesh House are also often rendered Kalispell House, Kootenay House, Salish House.....Skookum1 (talk) 22:31, 2 August 2008 (UTC)
Nisbet says, if I have it right, that the Isaac Todd was a supply ship for the NWC, intended to see how feasible it was to supply the NWC's Columbia District from sea, while the Racoon was the Royal Navy warship with orders to seize or destroy American settlements in the region (ie, Astoria). The two apparently sailed together, more or less. And yea, the naming of these early posts/forts is complicated by their later names often being used. In some cases there were 3 or 4 generations of new forts, with the last one usually being named, even if it was many miles from the first one. Ah well. Pfly (talk) 09:06, 3 August 2008 (UTC)
otoh, the book http://books.google.com/books?id=zZ0gtEJCRdkC&pg=PA144&lpg=PA144&dq=clearwater+astorian+%22pacific+fur+company%22&source=web&ots=6SlJAw8DXO&sig=FJtAGibO9iHMFZMT7F4VGVAcDRM&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=12&ct=result#PPA144,M1 (see if that links to the right Google Books pages) says the Isaac Todd was fitted with cannons and was come to seize Astoria. Pfly (talk) 09:44, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

Merger proposal[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
The result of this discussion was to go ahead with the merge

I was going to begin expanding this article when I stumbled upon the Astor Expedition page. The Pacific Fur Company only existed as long as the Astor Expedition was ongoing. These two articles are therefore on an identical topic. Voltaire's Vaquero (talk) 02:15, 17 November 2014 (UTC)

While remaining agnostic about whether the two articles have identical topics, I do agree they should be merged.Oldsanfelipe (talk) 16:29, 22 November 2014 (UTC)oldsanfelipe
There are a few other redundancies around in PacNW content and lots of overlap on many; for a merged title I'd expect the fur company title vs the 'Astor Expedition' title, though; there may have been reason for the separate creation of these titles long ago, but given that the one is about the other and what content there is in the one necessarily mirrors the other is noted; other involved articles like that of the Tonquin need to remain separate however.Skookum1 (talk) 03:22, 23 November 2014 (UTC)
As there was no dissent I went forward with the merger.Voltaire's Vaquero (talk) 00:54, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.


Removed content[edit]

I firmly believe in modifying the work of other editors only when needed. Much of the merged work included simply incorrect claims that were egregious. To keep things transparent here is the list of statements I have removed with individual explanations. Voltaire's Vaquero (talk) 00:55, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

  • "China where the furs could be sold for 10 times or more profit" was only true during Cook's time as countless fur trading books note. By the PFC's era the Chinese were paying profitable numbers, but nothing exorbitant as the aforementioned rate.
  • "However, the British had claims to the area Astor hoped to control with the establishment of The Pacific Fur Company. Astor's plans were not only in defiance of the British, but the organization of the Astoria party was also not welcomed by established companies including the North West and the Hudson's Bay Company." is simply untrue, as the HBC wasn't in the area until it absorbed the NWC, and the NWC staff were themselves friendly to their PFC rivals.
  • "Likewise had the Astorians been more successful in holding on to the Northwest region, the British would not have had a claim to British Columbia and America today would include the entire coastline from Washington to Alaska." By this logic the HBC should have made it impossible for the Americans to claim any of the Pacific Coastline. Ignoring this infantile logic, the PFC or HBC never "held" the PNW, as up till the 1840s the vast region was still very much in the hands of the many Indigenous nations. This is obviously shaded from a bizarre USPOV, one tinged in 19th century Imperialism.
  • "Had the Astorians sold their stake to the British just before the war broke out, it is entirely likely that the treaty would instead have stipulated that Oregon, being at that time occupied only by British subjects, would belong to Britain, with the result that Oregon would have eventually become part of Canada. In this sense, a case could be made that the ill-starred Astorian expedition saved Oregon for the U.S." This is rephrasing from a website that has citations that are not related to this statement. If the author of this article had wasted hours on scholarly papers and books, especially by the still master Frederick Merk, this simply wouldn't have been written. The Oregon boundary dispute was a convoluted issue that was of mostly minimal interest to either country until essentially the 1840s, then almost solely by Americans. Even then, the PFC played a minor role as merely one of a set of supposedly sound (in that I view neither Imperialist nation having just rights to the PNW) claims to the region.
  • "The present day international boundary along the 49th parallel was established following the organization of The Pacific Fur Company and its short presence on the Pacific." While this has a citation, I don't see why. The PFC didn't enter political calculations for establishing the 49th parallel in the PNW. As previously stated, it was merely one card in a stack of claims by the Americans to counter British claims to the region. It's like saying "The present day international boundary along the 49th parallel was established following the creation of Fort Victoria." While it may be true, it dishonestly implies that the company or port were instrumental in the border, which neither was.
Re that last, true enough that Victoria was founded in anticipation of where the border would be - as was Fort Langley. There's various what-ifs of the kind you've taken out here on other articles; some I'd removed from the Alaska boundary articles and others.Skookum1 (talk) 04:08, 2 December 2014 (UTC)