p. xxviii-ix: Returned to English possession by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, York Factory was sacked nearly seventy years later by a valiant raiding party of French marines who had dashed north from the West Indies during the American Revolution. Joseph Colen, the HBC Chief Factor in charge of rebuilding it (and York Factory’s first resident intellectual; he moved in with a library of fourteen hundred books), decided to shift operations to their present site….
p. 7, a note on HBC directives: The occasional directive was totally misguided, such as the 1784 decision to send 150 copies of The Country Clergyman’s Advice to Parishioners for distribution among Indians who could not read any printed work, let alone English parochial flummery.
p. 300, on Peter the Great’s Bering expedition in Russia which eventually numbered 3000 men: It included two landscape painters, three bakers, seven priests, a dozen doctors, fourteen bodyguards, four thousand horses, an awkward convoy of fifteen-foot telescopes mounted on wheels, plus a library of several hundred volumes.
p. 365—notes Samuel Hearne reading Voltaire.
p. 403, John Rae wintering at Fort Hope in 1846: He had meant to organize a school for his companions, but no one was really up to it. Rae whiled away the winter with the Malone edition of the complete plays of Shakespeare. The only way to keep it from freezing was to take the volume into bed with him each night, so that his body heat would thaw the pages.