The Trade

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Overview

1822. The Hudson’s Bay Company, swollen by a merger with its bitter rival, the North West Company, is about to exercise its uncontested monopoly over the lands drained by Hudson Bay. The first step is to find a new source of beaver pelts and profits, and the only hope lies in the unmapped territory held by the Blackfoot-speaking Indian tribes: the Piegan, Siksika and Blood. With little information, the new governor of the territory mounts an expedition into the heart of this unknown land, a journey that will test...
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Overview

1822. The Hudson’s Bay Company, swollen by a merger with its bitter rival, the North West Company, is about to exercise its uncontested monopoly over the lands drained by Hudson Bay. The first step is to find a new source of beaver pelts and profits, and the only hope lies in the unmapped territory held by the Blackfoot-speaking Indian tribes: the Piegan, Siksika and Blood. With little information, the new governor of the territory mounts an expedition into the heart of this unknown land, a journey that will test the mettle of a new generation of Hudson’s Bay Company men. For John Rowand, who goes by the nickname “One Pound One,” the expedition is also a test of patience, a time to wonder bitterly why he has not been chosen to lead the way. For Rowand’s young friend Ted Harriott, a lowly clerk madly in love with his Metis cousin, it is a chance to demonstrate by some act of bravery that her father should allow them to marry. Harriot’s journey on foot to the Missouri in winter begins in danger and ends in the iron grip of cold and starvation. At the far end of the trail, he meets Jimmy Jock Bird, who has gone to make his life among the Piegan and who will become a middleman of increasing power among those who would rule the West. This brilliant novel, written between the lines of official history, tells an incredible story of those who were ruled by the often brutalizing fur trade. It is a story of love and economics, and of the nexus between the two. It is a story of how European culture, including religion, tried to root itself in this anarchic place and often failed. In the end, it is the story of how the mighty fur trade was rolled under by the greater forces of change and history.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Seeking to "...write between the lines of known fur trade history," Canadian writer Stetson delivers a compelling novel that stands outside the official historical register. Sir George Simpson (referred to throughout simply as "the Governor") led the Hudson's Bay Company from 1826 through 1860, a span of time that Stenson largely follows. But Simpson is peripheral to Ted Harriott, kindly, drunken, and ghostly, and One Pound One, a brutal, ruthless, but efficient halfbreed, both of whom run fur trading outposts. Stenson's prose is both terse and swift. He never dallies, summing up figures with economy: "Instead of character, Heron had ambition." Multiple strands of narrative are deftly interwoven throughout an epic tale of adventure and intrigue. While the fur trade lies at the story's zenith in the beginning, it recedes as the company rapes the land and plays off Americans and Indian tribes alike. When a reporter from Harper's Magazine visits Harriott, speculating that he'd killed a number of Indians, Harriott responds plainly: "If I had, with whom would I have traded?" Stenson's epic is myth-busting at its best.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Publisher
"a compelling novel that stands outside the official historical register ... Stenson's epic is myth-busting at its best"—Publishers Weekly
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781553655367
  • Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre Ltd.
  • Publication date: 3/30/2010
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 5.04 (w) x 7.78 (h) x 1.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Fred Stenson is the author of three previous novels, Lonesome Hero, Last One Home and The Trade. The latter won the City of Edmonton Award, the inaugural Grant MacEwan Author’s Award and the Georges Gugnet Award for Best Novel. Stenson lives in Calgary, Alberta.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    1800's living in the Wilderness of Canada

    An exciting and very interesting historical book about the early fur trade and life in the 1800's. Some of the names were changed and/or created to enhance the storyline. "The Trade" begins in 1822 Canada where beaver were the key to success for any group, white, Indian, or half-breed. The times and living were very crude. Rum consumption was the key ingredient in most lives making some crueler than they would normally be and in some situations, the actions furthered by the rum made far too many so "out of it" that they went as far as to kill in that out-of-mind rum mindset. There was a Governor in charge of the area appointed by Great Britain but he was so out of touch from his superiors that his superiors rarely knew his actions. The Governor traveled around from camp to fort to groups throughout the area and he was law. He made appointments as to who would be the leader of certain areas called the Chief Trader. The Chief Trader was law unless the Governor was in camp when, in most situations, he would stay clear of the Governor.

    The Hudson Bay Company had recently taken over the North West Company and when joined, the combined companies had too many workers and had to find ways to trim jobs. Beaver were getting more scarce every year making the expeditions exploring areas out from the forts go farther and meeting more aggression from those they found in the newer areas.

    The author created some real fascinating characters in the story, some that made friends for life, or so they thought, took a wife or two or more in several occasions producing children that had a father but who he was they never knew. These men were physically very crude and mentally, highly challenged with too much time alone or with others that never spoke unless it was a threat to kill, hurt, or maim. Many, especially the Indians and half-breeds, cut themselves on purpose in many areas of their bodies just to look fiercer. Several who appeared throughout the book were Ted Harriott, One Pound One, Jimmy Jock Bird, their wives, their children, and of course, the Governor. The book takes them on their travels in the entire area over the course of many years, tells of their aging, their mental state, their desire to be Chief Trader in most cases, and their love as well as their hatred of those wives.

    I learned so much history reading The Trade both with how people lived and existed in those days and their general lack of concern of any fellow human being. You travel in all types of weather with many obstacles, both human and animal, and cringe at how they did survive, if one can call it surviving!

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