File 5 - North West Company Ledger

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North West Company Ledger

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  • Source of title proper: Title from contents of item.
  • Variations in title: Title from spine: Ledger

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Reference code

CA RBD MSG 1247-5

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1810-1825; 1861. (Creation)
    North West Company

Physical description area

Physical description

[24], 303, [452] pages ; 48 cm

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Administrative history

The North West Company was a fur-trading organization formed over the course of the first decades following the British conquest of Canada. It was not a chartered company like the Hudson's Bay Company, but a syndicate of a number of individual fur-trading firms. Later, however, it came to be dominated by the Montréal partnership of McTavish, Frobisher and Co. (later McTavish, McGillivrays and Co.). Although there are references to a North West Company as early as 1776, the first documented union of interests was a 16-share concern formed in 1779. However, a new agreement drafted in 1783 is commonly considered to have inaugurated the Company. The expansion of the North West Company's trade was rapid: in the person of Alexander Mackenzie, it reached to the Arctic Ocean in 1789 and to the Pacific in 1793. After 1812, the Company faced intense competition from the Earl of Selkirk, who had acquired a controlling interest in the Hudson's Bay Company. Although the North West Company defeated Selkirk in the courts, its financial position had deteriorated by 1820, and in 1821 it was absorbed by the Hudson's Bay Company.

Custodial history

Purchased by the Library from Quebec Family History Society, December 2017.

Scope and content

From bookseller’s description: ledger contains business accounts and transactions relating to the partners of the North West company, their ships, and includes payments made to carpenters, bakers, and other small tradesmen who did work for the major shareholders of the company.

Notes area

Physical condition

Boards detached, much rubbed.

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Language of material

  • French

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General note

Bound in full contemporary paneled calf; red leather binder’s label to spine and letter B inscribed beneath it; marbled endpapers.

General note

Ledger book is written in several neat hands, with entries separated by name of account, and each page with entries numbered in the top corner. An alphabetical index of companies and people precedes the ledger (24 unnumbered pages). A third hand in blue ink, from the late 20th century, has added several annotations including poetry and doodles. Approximate dates from text: bulk of entries in ledger are dated from January 1810 - November 30 1825, with some entries dated 1861.

General note

See also catalogue entry in McGill Library Catalogue.

General note

Legacy call number: MSG 1146

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Legacy call number

MSG 1146

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