Grand Portage:
A History of The Sites, People, and Fur Trade
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Grand Portage's long history has a staggering wealth of personalities, economics, geography, and high adventure. However the historical documents possess a great barren of facts concerning the structures and appearance of the fur trade posts at both ends of the Portage. This dearth could be determined only by a study of the voluminous materials at archives and libraries in Canada, the United States, and, thanks to microfilm, Great Britain. The lack of structural details in the records was a disappointment. Yet the research had its moments of high adventure, such as pouring through David Thompson's magnificient diaries, or following anxiously a business deal in 200-year-old correspondence, as if one's concern could affect the outcome.

Recognition must be given to the superior research that former Park Historian Robert J. Riley completed while assigned to Grand Portage National Monument. His report is a remarkably thorough document considering the limited amount of material then available. My report, aided by sufficient amounts of time and travel, adds relatively little to Riley's data.

The work on Grand Portage by other NPS people, including superintendent William Bromberg, Mrs. Eleanor From, James Reiley, Tom Swanstron, Dr. John A. Hussey, Merrill J. Mattes, Dr. Wilfred D. Logan, Francis R. Roberson, and Henry A. Judd is also very much appreciated.

As the bibliography indicates, several archives and libraries contributed greatly in making available their fur trade holdings. These include the Séminaire de Québec, Quebec (L'Abbe Honorius Provost, Director); McGill University Library, Montreal (Mrs. R. Carroll and Mrs. Lew Haddard); University of Montreal Library (Mr. Bilkins, Chief of Reference, and André Audy, Searcher); Toronto Public Library, Ontario; Ontario Department of Public Records and Archives, Toronto (Miss Jessie L. M. Jackson, Archivist); Canadian Public Archives, Ottawa; Detroit Public Library, Michigan; and the Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul (Russell W. Fridley, Director, Lucile M. Kane, Archivist, and Alan R. Woolworth, Curator). I had the pleasure to meet at the University of Montreal a fellow researcher on Grand Portage, Mrs. Marie Gérin-Lajoie, who generously shared her knowledge. Thanks are extended to all these institutions and their staffs.

Mr. R. A. Reynolds, Secretary, Hudson's Bay Company, London, England, kindly gave permission to consult the appropriate portions of the Hudson's Bay Company's archives that are on microfilm at the Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa. The Hudson's Bay Company's records by being available on film in North America present a lodestone to all researchers involved with the fur trade.

Superintendent Eliot Davis, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, Washington, graciously made available a rare impression of the North West Company's seal that appears on the cover of this report.

I extend my appreciation too to the staff members of the Division of History, NPS, who generously contributed knowledge, time, and patience while this report was in progress. Miss Kathy See deserves applause for maintaining her composure as she skillfully transformed a hand-written manuscript into typed pages. All errors lurking in the report are my responsibility.

E. N. T.

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Last Updated: 15-Jul-2009