This volume is chiefly about the surveyors recruited to the HBC to chart the immense territory of Prince Rupert’s Land in the latter18th century. The Introduction tells of recruiting them through the good offices of mathematician William Wales of Christ’s Hospital London, who recommended Philip Turnor for one of the surveyor posts.
p. 62, from the Minutes of the Company Committee, April 30, 1778:
Mr. Wales (of Christ’s Hospital) having by letter dated the 14th Instant recommended Mr. Philip Turnor as a Person skilled in Mathematics to go to the Companys Service as an Inland Surveyor for 5 years, at £50 p ann. Engaged him accordingly; he is to mess with the Captain whilst on board the ship & with the Chief when at the Factory; his Wages are to commence from his Arrival at York Fort.
The Company showed its gratitude to Wales by the following action of the Committee on June 24, 1778.
Passed a Bill of £3.15 for Mathematical Books for the use of Mr. Philip Turnor at York Fort & Ordered that £5. 5. be presented to Mr. William Wales of Christ’s Hospital for his trouble in endeavoring to procure Inland Surveyors.
p. 443, footnote 1 to September 2, 1791: Ross says:—“I am going to send Peter Fidler with them (4 Chipewyans) partly at his own desire, he is very fond of learning their language, which will be very necessary if your Honours settles in this Quarter, he is a very fit man for surveying in this quarter, as he can put up with any sort of living, that is in eating and drinking, he is also a very steady sober young man.” He was twenty-two years old on the sixteenth of the previous August.
On the following day he says:—“ I fitted out Peter Fidler for the winter.” But as we shall see later, his outfit was exceedingly scanty.
p. 495-555. This volume also includes “Peter Fidler’s Journal, 1791-2.” Fidler is perhaps the most bookish of the Company surveyors, though you wouldn’t know it from this journal; eventually, he left a personal collection of 500 volumes to the Red River Colony on his death, apparently all bought from London with his own personal funds.
p. 496, in a Fidler journal entry for September 6th 1791: I had no watch with me consequently could make no Observations for the Longitude with the necessary degree of accuracy[.] The Nautical Almanack & requisite Tables composed the whole of my Library—with 1 shirt besides the clothes I had on my back also composed the whole of my wardrobe[.]