Letter from James Anderson to Commissioner T.G. Anderson

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Letter from James Anderson to Commissioner T.G. Anderson

Name of document:

Letter from James Anderson to Commissioner T.G. Anderson

Type of document:


Summary of the data:

This letter, authored by James Anderson, was sent in response to a request from Commissioner T.G. Anderson for additional information regarding the First Nations the Commission was unable to visit. The Commission was tasked with surveying Native Lands to gather information regarding the First Nations expectations for compensation in exchange for the surrender of their land in the Lake Superior and Lake Huron regions. James Anderson was a servant of the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) from 1831-1864; at the time of this letter he was serving as the Chief Trader at Lake Nipigon (see a copy of his HBC Biographical Sheet). As a result, in this letter J. Anderson provides some detailed information regarding the First Nations at Lake Nipigon .

Anderson provides a census of the number of First Nations living in the Nipigon area; he also includes some information regarding a few Métis families living in in the region. In the letter dated January 7, 1950 he records, “a Nipigon Woman married to a Canadian servant who has Four Boys and One Girl…also a half breed and his wife both born on Lake Superior” (Anderson).

In response to the Commissioners request Anderson provides some detailed information about the boundaries claimed by the Nipigon First Nations and their willingness to surrender their land. He notes that he has never heard the First Nations express a desire to surrender their lands to the Crown. Additionally, Anderson discusses Chief Peau de Chat of Fort William, who he notes was not empowered to represent the First Nations of Nipigon, nor does he believe that he should be. His description of the Chief as "cunning [,] rogue, with a dreadful tongue," is telling of his opinion of Peau de Chat and perhaps demonstrates why he suggested that the Chief not be involved in the treaty negotiations. Finally, he describes the First Nations as being averse to both religious teachings and the cultivation of their lands. He describes in great detail the types of agriculture in the region.

After he believes he has answered all of the Commissioners inquiries, Anderson provides some additional information on the weather of the Lake Nipigon area and once again strongly advises that the Commissioner not include Chief Peau de Chat in any of the dealings with the Lake Nipigon First Nations.

Ultimately, Anderson's mention of Métis in his census of the Nipigon region demonstrates their presence in the Nipigon region prior to the signing of the Robinson-Superior Treaty, 1850.

Important dates mentioned in the document:

January 7, 1850: Date letter was sent

Important people discussed in the document:

James Anderson (January 5, 1812 - October 16, 1867)
T.G. Anderson (?)
Peau de Chat (?)

Specific location(s) mentioned in the document (if applicable):

Fort William, Ontario
Michipicoten, Ontario
Nipigon River, Ontario

Non-specific location(s) mentioned in the document (if applicable):

Lake Superior, Ontario-Minnesota-Wisconsin-Michigan
Hudson's Bay Territories (Albany District)
Upper Canada
Lake Nipigon, Ontario
Pic Lands

Specific event(s) identified in the document (if applicable):


Relevant citations:

Gale, Alison. "Robinson Treaty Métis: Historical Report." Claims Research and Assessment Directorate Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. (1998). Print.

Hudson's Bay Company Archives, Archives of Manitoba. James Anderson Biographical Sheet, May 2000. Web. 27, November 2014. http://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/archives/hbca/biographical/a/anderson_james-a.pdf

Library and Archives Canada, James Anderson, RG. 10, "Letter to T.G. Anderson," volume 266, 7 January 1950, pp. 163156-59, microfilm reel C-12652.

Was the information found online (yes/no)?:

Yes. Hudson's Bay Company Archives accessed online.

Document links and URLs (if applicable):

Copy of Hudson's Bay Company Archives biographical sheet for James Anderson

Date of access:

November 25, 2014

Webmaster if identified (for online documents only):

Hudson's Bay Company Archives

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