20 March

French Attack Hudson's Bay Company Posts

Charles II of England established the company of "Merchant Adventurers of England trading into Hudson's Bay" in 1670. It is still known- as the Hudson's Bay Company. Within a few years its presence was felt by French fur traders in Montreal who decided that the English must be driven from the area.

There was a minor difficulty in that England and France did not happen to be at war at that time. Governor Denonville contrived a plan whereby the Compagnie du Nord, the private fur trading company, would take action on its own behalf. Leadership of the campaign was entrusted to the Chevalier de Troyes of Montreal. Three of his lieutenants were Le Moyne brothers; Pierre known as Iberville, Paul, and Ste. Hélène.

It was decided not to attack Hudson Bay by sea because the expedition would have been sighted by English ships. On March 20, 1686, de Troyes and the Le Moynes left Montreal with about one hundred men and went overland up the Ottawa to Lakes Temiskaming and Abitibi, and then north on the Abitibi River.

First, they attacked Fort Hayes on the shore of James Bay and took it without bloodshed. Then they raced along the shore to Fort Rupert. While de Troyes attacked it, Iberville took another group in small boats to a ship anchored off the shore. Some lives were lost in the fighting, but the captives included Governor Bridgar of the Hudson's Bay Company and some valuable guns. Fort Albany was next. It tried to put up a fight, but was soon set on fire by the guns Iberville had taken from the ship. Hudson Bay was now under control of the French.

England had a Catholic king, as Louis XIV had wished, and they were supposed to be friends. When the news of the attack reached London and Paris, King James II and King Louis XIV were positively embarrassed. Louis sent a special envoy to London where France and England signed a "neutrality pact." Both monarchs had their tongues in their cheeks, and it wasn't long before England and France were at war officially.


20 March

-1831   The King of Netherlands' boundary award for New Brunswick-Maine was rejected by the United States.

-1846   Parliament met at Montreal.

-1862   Parliament met at Quebec.

-1910   Finance Minister Fielding met President Taft secretly at Albany, New York, and drew up plans for the reciprocity treaty that became the issue of the general election in 1911.

-1917   Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden attended a British War Conference until May 2.

-1930   The federal government transferred natural resources to Saskatchewan.

-1944   General H. D. G. Crerar was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the first Canadian Army