This Blessed Wilderness: Archibald McDonald’s Letters from the Columbia, 1822-44.

McDonald was a chief trader in the Pacific Northwest for the HBC just after it had merged with the North West Company in 1821.

p. 6 introduction criticizes the management of the former NWC as self-indulgent and wasteful: Then the detailed inventories listed not only trading goods, but also the stores of food-stuffs, medical supplies, and even the titles of books in the Fort George library…. Simpson was shocked to learn of the extravagance and prodigality that had been endemic in these remote outposts during the NMC regime. [Prodigality or no, I’d love to see the Fort George list.]

p. 150, on the radical causes of recent Canadian troubles: On that topic I am much obliged to you for the means you have so kindly taken to make me acquainted with the state of affairs—indeed I was unusually fortunate last fall. Through the kindness of one friend or another I had the Quebec Gazette,Durham’s Report, his Appendix B & the admirable book of your own Sir Francis [Bond Head’s, A Narrative]. So you may judge of my proficiency in Canadian politics, & what a clever fellow I shall make when honoured with the important privileges of a portly yeoman amongst you.

p. 225, letter to Rev Elkanah Walker from Fort Colvile in December 1842: Your Book [the Flathead primer] really does you credit, that is for a first edition….

p. 235, on the failure of some would be naturalists to fulfill their tasks as recorders of new species, vegetable or animal. In an October 1843 letter to William Jackson Hooker at Kew: I think it would be worthwhile if Mr Tolmie had at his disposal a little brown paper to hand about to those Gentlemen at distant parts. If they did nothing the loss of the paper would not be great; & the having a few sheets would be a stimulus to fill them up.

p. 240, on some newspapers he was able to see and some that had miscarried: I was more fortunate with the packet sent for me by Mr Advocate [Hugh] Taylor including Boz’s Notes.[The square brackets in this entry are not mine but in the original.]