Sunday, June 23, 2013

Alexander Caulfield Anderson, writer

From the Introduction to A. C. Anderson's Autobiography: 
This might have been written on his deathbed, and writing this might have kept Anderson from thinking of his impending death.

"Two hundred years ago, some ten years after the Restoration of the Second Charles, when England enjoyed a somewhat troubled repose after the agonies of the Civil War; when the nations of the New World were in their non-age; when Commerce was pausing for the gigantic strides which it has since taken; that "merrie monarch" (may we never be afflicted with another of similar stamp!) took at least one useful step. He granted a charter to certain magnates of the land and others, worthy citizens of the good city of London, endowing them with exclusive privileges to prosecute a new branch of traffic in the remote regions of the north, under the style and title of the "Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson's Bay" (in more familiar parlance the Hudson's Bay Company). 

"Fortified by their charter, and with abundant capital at command, this Company for many years carried on unobtrusively a very lucrative commerce. It of of comparatively late years only, under the combination of many outer influences, that its affairs have attracted much public attention; attaining at length to what has become to many a question of absorbing interest in a national point of view. Reft of its almost princely domination, with its territory purchased for a price and thrown open for the spread of a civilized community, the Company, if it still continues its business as a body, will do so only on the footing of any other co-partnership. Its glory, as the last representative of the great chartered bodies of England, will have departed. Such is the order of things, and such -- while admitted all praise and honor for the past -- is the desirable culmination.

"To the departing shade of the Company, with whose interest the events of my own life have been so intimately bound up, I desire to pay a valedictory tribute. I purpose to recount some of my own experiences during a long and uninterrupted sojourn in the wildness of the North West and its immediate frontiers, to show some of the causes that have conduced to the uninterrupted success of the Company in its dealing with the native tribes; perhaps, by implication, to correct many of the misconceptions that may have arisen in regard to the policy pursued, and some of the slanders to which that policy has, at times, been mischievously subjected. 

"With this general purpose in view I write without premeditation. Incidentally, I may introduce remarks necessary to the due apprehension of the relations existing between the Company and the Acting partners in the Fur Trade of the Country. Many of my past colleagues may be spoken of, and in a personal narrative such as I contemplate my own individuality will appear; but whether in speaking of myself or others, I trust to do so with proper judgement, in the one case without egotism, and the other with candour and good fellowship."

Sadly, he never lived long enough to complete his Autobiography.

Nancy Marguerite Anderson, author of The Pathfinder: A. C. Anderson's Journeys in the West [Victoria: Heritage House Pub., 2011]
Author Page at: or Amazon Author Page
Twitter handle: @Marguerite_HBC
Thank you. 


  1. Nancy - Is the incomplete draft of his autobiography at the BC Archives?

    Erin Millions

  2. Yes. This is basically it, and then "Life at Lachine." Two chapters is all he got to write.