Native labour and social stratification in the Hudson's Bay Company's Northern Department. 1770–1870


From the Author, Page 305-306:

"Officers had greater responsibilities than servants. They were charger with the over-all functioning of the fur trade posts. They corresponded with each other, kept all post records, ordered trade goods and supplies, valued furs, supervised the men, and ensured that necessary jobs were performed. At the same time they enjoyed considerable prestige, had many special privileges and earned high salaries (or income from shares). Hence, it is safe to assume intelligent and ambitious young men might aspire to become officers rather than servants of the Hudson’s Bay Company. 

Several factors influenced the position within the hierarchy of the company that an individual held. It is clear that one of the most important of these was ‘race’ or ethnic origin. The company tended to describe culturally similar groups from specific regions such as Orkney, Lewis Island or mainland Scotland as separate ‘races.’ Ab employee’s ‘racial’ origin was an important aspect of his employment records. Officers also frequently discussed servants as members of an identified ‘race.’ It has therefore been possible to show that the Hudson’s Bay Company engaged employees according to stereotyped preconceptions of ethnic suitability (Judd, 1980).The administrative or officer levels of the fur trade were held predominantly by mainland Scottish and, to a lesser degree, English, Orcadians and French Canadiens tended overwhelmingly to be servants, especially labourers and voyageurs.

This paper considers ethnic influences in career patterns of Indian mixed-blood employees of the Hudson’s Bay Company between 1770 and 1870. It focuses on the geographic region, fundamentally the Canadian Prairies, that for much of the period under study was known as the Northern Department." (305-306).

Publication Information

Judd, Carol M. "Native labour and social stratification in the Hudson's Bay Company's Northern Department. 1770–1870." Canadian Review of Sociology/Revue canadienne de sociologie 17, no. 4 (1980): 305-314.

Judd, Carol M.
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