But what I learned from this book that stays with me is that besides fighting on the St. Lawrence, the Mohawk, the Hudson, the St. Johns, Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, and the Gulf of Maine, the British and French also fought each other on Hudson Bay.
The Bay's history with Europeans started badly. The first Europeans to see it sailed with Henry Hudson, an Englishman who was then in the pay of the Dutch. They worked their way around the southern coast of Greenland past Baffin Island and into the Hudson Strait – really, the man certainly named a lot of stuff after himself – searching like so many others for the Northwest Passage. Instead they found a vast inland sea. By the time they reached the southern shore it was too late in the season to sail back, so they were trapped by the ice. They wintered over on the shores of James Bay, surviving by bartering with nearby Indians. When the ice finally broke up in the spring Hudson wanted to go on exploring, but his crew had had enough. They mutinied, left Hudson and a couple of loyalists floating on a small boat, and sailed back to Europe.
No one knows the fate of Hudson or the crew members stranded with him, but historians see no evidence that they survived for long afterwards.Nobody was eager to follow in Hudson's wake, so few Europeans saw the Bay for the next fifty years.
After the Company built tradings posts on the Bay the French finally responded, sending their own expeditions to drive out the English. A weird sort of war ensued, weird partly because it took two years for news from the Bay to reach London or Paris, be considered the Royal Council, and a new expedition be fitted out to go forth and carry out the crown's decisions. So one side would send a force to take over the half a dozen trading posts that had been established around the Bay, and then two years later the other side would respond and take them back, and so on.
This northern war ended in an English victory. In the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht France the right of the Hudson's Bay Company to all the land granted in its charter, a vast region that eventually became a third of Canada.
A replica of D'Iberville's Pelican
Once again I marvel at the fantastic greed and energy of our species. In search of great rewards we will go anywhere and do anything, if necessary fighting and killing and dying at the far end of the planet. If only our wisdom came anywhere close to our daring.