Fort Vancouver
Historic Structures Report
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Volume I


A comparison of the present study with the writer's earlier The History of Fort Vancouver and Its Physical Structure will reveal that during the intervening decade and a half a very considerable amount of new information has been acquired by National Park Service historians concerning the structures at the Hudson's Bay Company's western headquarters. To a large extent this gain was made possible by the opportunity to perform research in Canadian and British archives, but even more important was the generous and informed assistance received from many individuals, government agencies, private institutions, and business firms scattered over the United States, Canada, England, and Scotland. To name every one is not possible in this brief summary, but to each the writer expresses his deep appreciation.

Special mention must be made, however, of the Hudson's Bay Company, which granted the National Park Service access to the vast riches of its London Archives and the microfilmed copies of its records in the Public Archives of Canada. The Company also gave permission to reproduce a number of maps and pictures in its several collections and to quote from archival materials. The writer is particularly grateful to Mr. R. A. Reynolds, Secretary of the Company, for his kindness in arranging these matters and for the warm hospitality that awaits the researcher at Beaver House in London, until recently the firm's headquarters.

Another great debt of gratitude is owed to Mrs. Joan Craig, Archivist of the Hudson's Bay Company, and to the other members of the friendly and efficient Archives staff. From her vast knowledge of the Company's records, Mrs. Craig has made a number of significant contributions to the present study; and through her kindness the process of obtaining the necessary permissions to quote has been made as easy as possible.

Mrs. Shirlee A. Smith, Librarian of the Hudson's Bay Company in Winnipeg, also was of major assistance, generously providing copies of many photographs in the Company's collections. Miss Malvina Bolus, editor of The Beaver, the firm's famed periodical, aided with wise counsel and encouragement. In short, without the whole-hearted cooperation of the Hudson's Bay Company, this study would have contributed very little indeed to knowledge of Fort Vancouver.

After the records of the Honorable Company, the most important source used in the preparation of the present report was the diary of Thomas Lowe, who was a clerk at Fort Vancouver during the period to which the post is to be restored. For a copy of this valuable document the National Park Service is indebted to Mr. Willard E. Ireland, Provincial Librarian and Archivist, Provincial Archives of British Columbia, who over many years has unfailingly assisted the National Park Service with a number of projects. For calling his attention to the Lowe journal, the writer is particularly indebted to Dr. Dorothy Blakey Smith of the Archives staff. Readers of this report will note that a number of the finest illustrations are from photographs in the British Columbia Archives, one more evidence of our debt to Mr. Ireland and his able staff.

In British Columbia several persons who participated in the restoration of the Hudson's Bay Company post of Fort Langley were most generous in giving advice and in lending copies of reports prepared in connection with that undertaking. Particular thanks are given to Dr. Douglas Leechman of Victoria, to Mr. Alex C. Hope of Deep Creek, and Professor John Calder Peeps, now of Minneapolis, Minnesota. For first-hand information on the old bastion at Nanaimo the writer is indebted to Mr. John G. Parker of Nanaimo and Mr. William A. Grant of Ladysmith. Dr. Herbert P. Plasterer, of the Fort Victoria Museum, Victoria, kindly permitted the writer to examine the timbers of the Fort Victoria kitchen and provided information on his reconstruction of the bastion of that post.

It is not possible to mention by name all the staff members at libraries and archives throughout Canada and the United States who so generously assisted in research. But among those to whom particular thanks are extended for help far beyond whet might have been expected are Mr. T. R. McCloy, Librarian, and Mr. Hugh Dempsey, Archivist, of the Glenbow Foundation (now the Glenbow-Alberta Institute), Calgary; Mr. Archibald Hanna, Curator, The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University; Mr. Thomas Vaughan, Director, Oregon Historical Society, Portland; Mrs. Katherine Wood and Dr. Edward S. Rogers, Ethnology Department, and Mrs. N. Ignateff, Canadiana Department, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto; and Mr. William S. Ewing, Curator of Manuscripts, William L. Clements Library, Chicago.

Throughout the entire study the Bancroft library at the University of California, Berkeley, has served, along with the University's main library, as a "home base" for research. The courtesies of the staffs of those institutions extending over many years are deeply appreciated. The writer is also grateful for the opportunity to use the resources of the Henry E. Hungtington Library and Art Gallery at San Marino, California, where the Fort Nisqually Collection contributed much toward an understanding of the history of Fort Vancouver. And any scholar who has been priviledged to work at the Public Archives of Canada cannot fail to be indebted to the cooperative staff members who assist one in the use of its magnificient collections and unparalleled facilities for research.

Most of the institutions named in the two preceding paragraphs, together with the Department of Public Records and Archives, Province of Ontario, Toronto, the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C., and the Alberta Department of Industry and Development, Edmonton, have kindly granted permission to quote from source materials or to reproduce pictures in their collections. For these kindnesses the National Park Service gives its thanks. We also acknowledge our debt to Mr. Howard J. Burnham of Vancouver, Washington, and to the Royal Engineers Archives. Brampton Barracks, Kent, England, for supplying copies of important pictorial materials, and to Mr. Michael Warre, of London, England, for permission to quote from the manuscript, Travel and Sport in North America, by Lieutenant Henry J. Warre.

Very special and valuable assistance has been received from officials of the Canadian Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, which is responsible for the restoration, preservation, and interpretation of several former Hudson's Bay Company posts. The vast amount of detailed knowledge of fur-trade structures accumulated by the staff of the Technical Services Branch was made available and copies of splendid measured drawings were provided for this study, principally through the kindness of Mr. G. J. Bowen, P. Eng., Director, and Mr. Jacques Dalibard, Chief Restoration Architect. Mr. Peter H. Bennett, Assistant Director (Historic Sites), also generously put at our disposal the resources of the National and Historic Parks Branch. To Mr. John H. Rick, Chief, Research Division; Mr. Terence B. Smythe, Assistant Head, Historical Research; Mr. George Ingram, Historian; and Mr. Wayne Colwell, Historic Sites Curator, go thanks for many favors, both professional and personal.

Among the individuals who have helped in this study are Mr. William R. Sampson, of the University of Alberta; Mr. Robin Prentice, Deputy Secretary, The National Trust for Scotland, who paved the way for access to fur-trade documents in the Bank of Scotland; and Dr. Kenneth Holmes, who gave valuable advice concerning source collections in Canada and Great Britain.

Many persons in the National Park Service have contributed toward this report. Above all, thanks are extended to Mr. A Lewis Koue F.A.I.A., Historic Architect in the San Francisco Field Office, Denver Service Center. He accompanied the writer on an extended visit to surviving nineteenth century Hudson's Bay Company buildings in the United States and Canada. His field notes, photographs, and measured drawings form a vital part of this study, and his wise counsel has saved the writer from many errors in architectural matters.

Also deeply appreciated has been the never-failing help and encouragement of the entire staff of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. Superintendent Eliot Davis, a long-time student of the fur trade has provided every possible aid to research and has pointed out a number of fugitive sources. Mr. Robert E. S. Clark, Chief Park Interpreter, has assisted in innumerable ways and is responsible for a large number of the photographs used both for study purposes and for illustrations. Mr. John J. Hoffman, Project Archeologist, and Mr. Lester A. Ross, Museum Specialist, have been particularly helpful by keeping the writer fully informed of the progress of current archeological excavations at the fort site and by providing advance copies of the project staff's valuable maps and reports. And always the park staff has demonstrated the traditional hospitality that made a visit to Fort Vancouver a much-anticipated experience during the days of the Honorable Company on the Columbia.

It is also a pleasure to acknowledge the assistance of my colleagues Mr. Merrill J. Mattes, Mr. Erwin N. Thompson, and Mr. E. Ross Holland, Jr., in the Denver Service Center; and Dr. Murray H. Nelligan of the Northeastern Regional Office. Help with manuscript preparation was received from several able secretaries, but primary credit for the final product is due to Mrs. Elaine A. Poole of the San Francisco Field Office and Mrs. Aki Kawakami of the Denver Service Center.

John A. Hussey

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Last Updated: 10-Apr-2003