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An Extensive and Unknown Portion of the Empire: The Montreal Natural History Society’s Survey of Rupert’s Land, 1827-1830

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An Extensive and Unknown Portion of the Empire: The Montreal Natural History Society’s Survey of Rupert’s Land, 1827-1830

Little, Geoffrey (2015) An Extensive and Unknown Portion of the Empire: The Montreal Natural History Society’s Survey of Rupert’s Land, 1827-1830. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Shortly after it was founded in May 1827, the Montreal Natural History Society constituted an Indian Committee to study the “the native inhabitants...and the Natural History of the Interior, and its fitness for the purposes of commerce and agriculture.” The Interior was Rupert’s Land, the territory to the west and the north of Montreal governed by the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). In 1828 the Committee had a survey containing 253 questions on the climate, geography, inhabitants, and resources of Rupert’s Land distributed to HBC traders and individuals living in the Interior, along with instructions on how to prepare specimens to send to the Society’s museum. Intervention by the HBC’s Governor and London Committee meant that no replies were received in Montreal and the Society’s project was unrealized.

This thesis explores the Society’s interest in the development of the Interior as well as in gathering data about its Aboriginal population within the contexts of westward expansion across North America and Aboriginal policy in Upper and Lower Canada and the United States after the end of the War of 1812. It also examines the history and practice of natural history in the early nineteenth-century Anglo-American world and efforts by the Society to establish itself as a node within international scientific networks. This study fills a gap in the history of science and western exploration in pre-Confederation Canada and will help historians understand how the Montreal Natural History Society imagined an Interior transformed through settlement, commerce, and agriculture into a productive, peopled, and civilized part of the British Empire.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Little, Geoffrey
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:History
Date:September 2015
Thesis Supervisor(s):Taylor, Gavin
Keywords:Natural history, History of science, Western Canada, Fur trade, Fur, Hudson's Bay Company, Aboriginals, Rupert's Land
ID Code:980487
Deposited By: GEOFFREY LITTLE
Deposited On:28 Oct 2015 12:51
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:51
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