Collection MSG 433 - Joseph Frobisher Collection

Letterbook Diary Estate Plan of property

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Joseph Frobisher Collection

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on creator of the collection.

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  • 1787-1834 (Creation)
    Frobisher, Joseph, 1748-1810

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Physical description

11 cm of textual records (originals and contemporary copies)

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Biographical history

The Hon. Joseph-Benjamin Frobisher, Jr. was born on April 15, 1748, in Halifax, Yorkshire, England.

He was a fur trader and politician. His eldest two brothers, Benjamin (1742-1787) and Thomas (1744-1788) came to Quebec soon after the British Conquest of New France to enter the fur trade, and Joseph joined them in 1769. They started a fur trading company based in Montreal, trading in the Northwest Territory. In 1779, he was one of the partners in the first North West Company. In 1787, he and Simon McTavish became senior partners in the new firm of McTavish, Frobisher and Co. of Montréal, which held a controlling interest in the North West Company. Frobisher was named a justice of the peace in 1788. He was elected to the 1st Parliament of Lower Canada for Montreal East in 1792, where he served until 1796. In 1798, he retired from the company and lived at his stately home, Beaver Hall. He served as secretary for the Beaver Club in Montreal. Frobisher was part-owner of the Batiscan Iron Works and, with his partners, purchased the seigneury of Champlain, located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, near present-day Trois-Rivières. He served in the local militia, becoming major by 1806.

In the book "Done with Slavery: The Black Fact in Montreal, 1760-1840" (2010), the author Frank Mackey indicates that Frobisher was not likely a slave owner but had direct connections to the slave trade.

In 1779, he married Charlotte Jobert (1761-1816). He died on September 12, 1810, in Montreal, Quebec.

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Scope and content

Frobisher's papers comprise a letterbook of the North-West Co. containing copies of letters written by Frobisher from April 1787 to October 1788, two original letters to Simon McTavish, 1796, and one from him, 1787, business and legal documents, largely concerning the estate of James McGill, 1810-1834, and a diary, 1806-1810, mostly a record of where he dined.

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  • Box: R-433-1