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Throughout the fur trade era, Hudson’s Bay officers managed to protect their posts from fire. Frequently, they were saved by the advance warnings of the Indians in the area.

Fort Carleton Late in October 1836, a band of excited Stone Indians informed J.P. Pruden, chief trader at Carlton House, that a rampaging plains fire was moving rapidly towards the fur-trade post. The experienced Hudson’s Bay Company officer did not panic.

Methodically, he ordered his men to remove the gunpowder to the cellar outside the palisade, cover the vulnerable haystacks with leather tents, and cast up a large quantity of water. By nightfall, the fire was raging ‘awfully’ within half a mile of the fort.

As the flames appeared in the tall grass on the south bank, the wind suddenly calmed. Pruden dispatched all hands immediately to the banks of the Saskatchewan where they proceeded to ‘knock out’ the fire with ‘bunches of old leather fixed on poles of about six feet long.’ By midnight the real danger had passed.

Thomas, Greg. “Fire and the Fur Trade, The Saskatchewan District 1790-1840.” The Beaver Autumn 1977.
Photo Credits:
Hudson Bay Company Archives, Provincial Archives of Manitoba [Fort Carleton]
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