Battle of the Hudson Bay

The Hudson Bay, the greatest bay in the world, in the northern part of Canada, was claimed by the English because it had been allegedly discovered by John Cabot and afterwards explored by Henry Hudson.

The English thus formed a strong company to carry on the fur trade with the Indians. The Hudson Bay Company had built forts at the southern end of the bay both for the protection and as commercial posts to which the Indians could bring their furs. The French in Quebec couldn't allow the British to possess all the furs of the vast area. They refused to recognize the right of the English to trade in Hudson Bay and declared it their property. After some hesitations, the French decided to take action.

In 1686 a force of a hundred men under the command of the Chevalier de Troyes, an officer of the famous Carginan Regiment, was sent against the English. The brave marines planned to reach Hudson Bay by a hard journey through trackless forests on snowshoes and down wild unknown streams, when these could be used. Four of the Le Moyne brothers, sons of one of the most prominent Montrealers joined the expedition.

The heroic French had little difficulty in seizing the first of the English forts, for its occupants were taken completely by surprise. The company made then its way next to a fort at the mouth of the Rupert River. As he neared the fort, d'Iberville saw, anchored in the stream, one of the boats that had come to curry furs to England. Approaching it quietly, d'Iberville and his men succeeded in climbing to the deck before they were discovered. After a short struggle, the boat was theirs.

Meanwhile, the rest of the men on shore had captured the fort. The Frenchmen, in the highest spirits, now set for the Fort Albany. This was more strongly built. Its governor Henry Sargeant, knew that the enemy were coming. The fight lasted two days, and the English surrendered. Following the taking of Fort Albany, Sieur d'Iberville and the English governor exchanged toasts to King James of England and King Louis of France, each drinking to the health of the other's ruler. D'Iberville was left in charge of French interests in Hudson Bay.

The following year, he seized an English ship with a rich cargo of furs. The English they sent two armed vessels to the Bay, with a number of soldiers. D'Iberville boldly attacked the British, burning one of the vessels and capturing the other. The only remaining British possession in Hudson Bay was Fort Nelson.

But d'Iberville captured it after a great fight, in the French litlle vessel, the Pelican, successfully engaged three English ships that were bringing supplies and relief. After the Fort Nelson, the English were almost completely driven from Hudson Bay. A few years later, greatly to the disgust of D'Iberville, England and France made peace, and Hudson Bay passed again into English hands, to remain a valuable trading possession.

Between his expeditions to Hudson Bay, d'Iberville had attacked the English settlements in Newfoundland. D'IIberville had plans to make French settlements neat the mouth of the Mississippi River, but he died during his expedition to Louisiana, in the tropical city of Havana, Cuba, in 1706.

See also:

The Province of Quebec through four centuries. E. C. Woodley. Toronto W. J. Gage and Company, Limited, 1944.

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