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Home >> From 1600 to 1867 >> Identity, Culture & Communities >> Articles/Diaries/Ephemera/Journals

Daily life and challenges for the various groups involved in the fur trade.

Image 1
Author: Robert Michael Ballantyne
Title: Every-day Life in the Wilds of North America
Year Published: 1848
Copyright Holder: Expired; no restrictions on use.
  -14- RM Ballantyne: Winter Activities

Robert Michael Ballantyne (1825-1894) joined the HBC as an apprentice clerk in 1841 at the age of 16. During his six years in the fur trade, he served at Upper Fort Garry, Norway House, York Factory, and Tadoussac.

Although not a very good clerk, he loved the wilderness and wrote long descriptive letters home to his mother in Scotland. He began recording his experiences in book form in 1846, and in 1848 published Hudson's Bay, or, Every-day life in the wilds of North America. He later became a very popular writer of adventure novels for boys.

Here he is describing winter activities at Norway House in 1842. P150, 3rd pgh: “During winter…this amusement.”

“During winter our principal amusement was white-partridge shooting. This bird is a species of ptarmigan, and is pure white, with the exception of the tips of the wings and tail. They were very numerous during the winter, and formed an agreeable dish at our mess-table. I also enjoyed a little skating at the beginning of the winter; but the falling snow soon put an end to this amusement.”

Other Related Material
Read excerpts from Robert's writings - enter 'Ballantyne' in the search box to your left.

What did Robert Ballantyne look like?

Which HBC calendar painting includes Robert Ballantyne?

Check the Beaver Index - e.g., type in recreation, hunting, Ballantyne, etc.

Did You Know?
The book that launched Ballantyne's long and illustrious career as a writer of adventure books for boys was Snowflakes and Sunbeams; or, The Young Fur Traders, published in 1856. Like most of Ballantyne's novels, it was published in November -- just in time for Christmas.