Fur-trade rascals are making for McMaster

So here is an early
heads-up on a Hamilton event where I will be giving a talk on June 4. What
happened is that the library at McMaster University acquired an extraordinary
collection of papers from the estate of the late Dr. William Bensen. Dr.
Bensen was a medical doctor with a passion for Canadian history, and especially
for anything related to John Rae or the fur trade. I had the privilege of
meeting him over dinner some years ago and we had great fun chatting. He showed
me a box of china that had been on board Franklin’s ship the Terror.

Anyway, I am quite
excited to investigate this collection of papers, which comprises letters and
documents pertaining to such figures as James McGill, Simon Fraser, Alexander
Mackenzie, William McGillivray, and Simon McTavish, all of whom were associated
with the fur-trading North West Company based in Montreal. In the late 18th and
early 19th centuries, not to put too fine a point on it, these ex-Highlanders
— renegades, rogues and rascals almost to a man — used fur-trade profits to
build the Golden Square Mile in Montreal and swanned about like kings. I was
thrilled to discover that the men who figure in this archive turn up in five of my books (if we count Flight of the Highlanders, coming this September).

I’m calling my
talk Rogues, Rascals and Kings: Fur-Trade Adventurers Spring from the
. It kicks off at 7 p.m. in Convocation Hall and is open to the
public. BUT space is limited so you have to register by clicking here. If
you’re within hailing distance of McMaster, come on down!

(Pictured here: William McGillivray (above left) and Simon McTavish.)

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