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1. Dates & Fur Trade Posts

West La Loche

This is a photo of the Portage La Loche Post factor's house in September, 1908 taken by the Crean Expedition in West La Loche.(photo was being sold on ebay in 2010)
*The census of 1906 shows the HBC factor was Edward Beatty (age 22 or 32), his wife Florence (age 23), 
his daughter Thelma (age 8 months) and a servant John Reads (age 63). 
The HBC factor in 1908 is John O. Groat. His wife and daughter are in this picture. John Reads may also be in this picture.

Revillon Freres:

Revillon Freres had a post in La Loche from 1906 to 1936. The company was sold to the HBC in 1936. The HBC used the 
old Revillon buildings until they built a new store on the property in the 1950s. 

The census of 1906 shows a Solomon Ballentyne (28 years old) as agent of this post. Also included was his wife Mary (25 years old).

The Revillon Freres Post and Dene/Chipewyan teepees in La Loche between June 30-July 2, 1918 from Canada Archives.
Edited coloured version.
Revillon Freres Post at La Loche in January 1907.
"Living house for men, Simon Bourwick on the right"
Revillon Freres Post at La Loche January 1907."The temperature is said to be 60 below"
Revillon Freres Post at  La Loche January 1907. "Metis trader holding a silver fox fur".

Panorama of La Loche in 1935 showing the church, the rectory and the Revillon Freres post. A year Later the Hudson's Bay Company moved into the Revillon Freres buildings.

Hudson's Bay Company

The HBC had posts on Lac La Loche since 1810 but it was not until 1936 that they opened a post in the village of La Loche. It was located in the former Revillon Freres post.  

Photo and caption: La Loche Hudson's Bay Company 1946-47 by Alan Yuill.
"The chap at the far left (is) Willy, our interpreter." 
Alan Yuill was 17 when he took this picture and worked under the Chief Factor of the La Loche Post John Blackhall.

HBC La Loche circa 1955

This HBC built in the 1950s is now part of Northern Retail store.
(photo courtesy of Stuart Herman)

Hudson's Bay Store in La Loche circa 1978 with the entrance facing the lake.
This photo of the old Hudson's Bay Company shows the many additions made to the original building 
over the years. (now the Northern Store) . This old entrance facing the lake and the dock was moves to the other side.
The original building (with the three small windows in a row) was built in the 1950's.
The old warehouse was built earlier.

Lac La Loche Posts in 1820

Sir George Back wrote a description of the Lac La Loche posts while travelling through in 1820. 
There may have been 120 people living on the lake with a few houses in La Loche, West La Loche and around the two posts.

The HBC post and the NWC post were on the south west side of the lake. 

The HBC Post were  "logs piled one above the other with mud and moss to fill up the crevices- there is a single 
partition which divides the Master's room from that of the men.-the former has half a roof to it-some parchment
windows make up the whole-"

The NWC Post was "a square and flat roofed hut just seven feet high-neither wind nor weather tight in which
are stowed-Master, men, women, children, dogs and sledges-"

Returning from Fort Chipewyan in 1822 with a brigade of canoes he writes... " we touched at the houses on the borders of the lake 
and embarked a man in each canoe".

(from the book- Arctic Artist    The  Journal and Paintings of George Back, Midshipman with Franklin, 1819-1822 ( page 207))

Map of the fur trade posts

Black shows the Hudson's Bay Posts.
Red shows the North West Company's Posts.
A solid triangle shows 16 to 50 years of occupation.
A solid circle shows 4 to  15 years of occupation.
An empty circle shows 1 to 3 years of occupation.
Map from "The Atlas of Canada" of 1974

  • 1778                     Peter Pond is shown the portage to the Clearwater River. 
  • 1783                     The North West Company was formed.                                                                                   
  • 1789-91  c.         The North West Company has a post on the point across from the island on Lac La Loche. 
  • 1810   circa         The Hudson's  Bay Company has  a post at the Portage.
  • 1819-21   c.          The Hudson's  Bay Company  has a  post  on the south west shore of  Lac La Loche.
                                     George Back called this post Lac La Loche House in 1820. A North West Company Post was also located there as the same time.
  • 1821                       The North West Company joined with the HBC
  • 1857                      The HBC converted its transportation depot at Portage La Loche into a permanent trading post
  •                                  attached to the English River District (from the book Drum Songs)
  • 1858  to 1880    HBC post is located at the Portage
  • 1870 to 1936     HBC post at West La Loche (a post office was at this post from 1926 to 1930   Canada Archives)
  • 1883                      Another route  is now in use. The Portage loses its importance in the fur trade. 
  • 1906 to 1936     Revillon Freres has a post at La Loche.(census of 1906 shows this post, the company was sold to HBC in 1936)
  • 1926                      The first Post Office opens in La Loche. 
  • 1926                      A Post office is also opened at the Portage La Loche HBC post in West La Loche but it closes in 1930.
  • 1936                      The HBC post in West La Loche burns down and is never rebuilt. 
  • circa 1955                      A new HBC post is built in La Loche  
  • 1987                      The Hudson's  Bay Store becomes a Northern Store after 177 years on Lac  La Loche.

Fur Trade Posts

Some fur trade posts may have been simply a storage building with living quarters.
Some of these early posts were used for the summer trade season only.
These summer posts may have moved to different locations on the lake if another location became more convenient.
Others were built as a place the traders and their men could overwinter. 

Portage La Loche Post at La Loche

The Portage La Loche Hudson's Bay Post kept 
its name even though its location on the lake changed.
The Post was called Portage La Loche when it was at the portage,
when it was in West La Loche and when it was in La Loche.
The Mission was also called the Mission of Portage La Loche thought its buildings were in the village of La Loche.

Early pictures of some of these northern posts show a storehouse and a residence next to it. The manager of the post bought fur and sold trade goods. Perhaps a simple fence surrounded the buildings.

(these two photos from J. Gordon Shillingford, Publisher)
Portage La Loche HBC post at La Loche and HBC residence 1940.


Sometimes a palisade of logs would surround a compound of
many buildings. An early drawing of Ile a la Crosse forts shows this type of construction.(see drawing)
The early Mission there may also have had a high log fence surrounding its
Some of the early posts on Lac La Loche were described a being
forts. These posts probably had a palisade of logs surrounding
them also.

HBC and NWC forts at Ile a la Crosse by George Back in the winter of 1820 (Canada Archives)
George Back was a member of the second Franklin Expedition.

Map of fur trade posts.

HBC Archives

The records of Portage La Loche held in the HBC Archives in Winnipeg  cover the years 1834 to 1932 

Post Number: B.167
Shelf space occupied: 87.5 cm
Years covered by records: 1834-1932
Reference No.
Document TypeYearsReel No.
Post Journals1872-1906
B.167/b/1Correspondence Books1895-19011M1137
B.167/c/1Correspondence Inward1879-19111MB91
Account Books
NOTE: See also B.167/b/1.
B.167/e/1-5Reports on Districts1889-19011M1258
B.167/z/1Miscellaneous Items1834-18701M891

The North West Company and The Hudson's Bay Company

The merging of the two companies in 1821 created a huge continent wide Hudson's Bay Company.
The map below shows the routes of the North West Company in black and the Hudson's Bay Company in dotted lines.