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In Their Own Voices

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While the early relationship between the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) and James Evans was amiable, it was not to last. In fact, by 1843 the tension between the two parties had mounted to a point that Evans was instructed to move outside the fort. Written by Evans, the following excerpt was written to George Simpson, the HBC governor, by Evans and contains some of the Evan's feelings about his removal.

 . . . I have no doubt but under the Divine blessing, so far as the interest the Indian Settlement are concerned, my residence will be beneficial . . .  I cannot refrain from expressing my regret that the arrangement was not entered into when proposed for your consideration in 1841, on several grounds. The foolish, but still unpleasant surmises of some, which have already in some cases been expressed, that I was turned out of the Establishment; that Mr. Ross & myself had disagreed; that the business of the Company could not be conducted advantageously under the eye of a Missionary; that I had given offense to the Governor; and last, & not least likely to produce an injurious effect upon the natives, that Protestant missionaries were to be discountenanced in all the forts & Catholic priests only . . . were to be encouraged . . .  I beg to assure you my removal as to the fact gives me no uneasiness, but the manner, I must say, has given and does, from the groundless surmises afloat, give me rather painful feelings.

By 1845 James Evans was upset by his experiences at Norway House: in 1843 he was removed from the Fort to Rossville Mission; in 1844 he accidentally shot and killed one of his trusted interpreters and teachers, Thomas Hassel; and, in 1845, he suffered another emotional blow when his daughter was married. His sense of loss is evident in this poem that he wrote reflecting on that marriage:

Partings, still to meet again
Filled a parent's heart with pain
Yet like sunshine after rain
I still was cheered
My Clara.

Who when all around frown
With guileless mirth sorrow drown?
Who has afresh the flowerets strown
On sorrows path?
My Clara.

With heart o'er charged with doubt and fear
With eye bedimmed with glistening tear
What music would my spirits cheer
Thine never failed
My Clara.

And would I dip my pen in gall
And scratch a line cancel all
And crush my hopes-as Empires fall
I'd say-write
Another's Clara.

Citation Sources
Hutchinson, Gerald. Unpublished manuscript.


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