Title and statement of responsibility area
Dr. William G. Bensen Fur Trade Collection of Robert D.W. Band
General material designation
- Textual record
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Statement of scale (cartographic)
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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)
Dates of creation area
1689 - 1892 (Creation)
Physical description area
0.75 m of textual records
7 cm supplementary material
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Archival description area
This collection was assembled gradually over the lifetime of Robert D. W. Band, a noted collector of Canadiana, fur trade material, and military realia. After his passing in 2013, the core of his collection pertaining to the Fur Trade was listed for sale in the disposition of his estate. The collection was purchased by Wynn Bensen, with the intent of donating it to McMaster, in memory of her husband Dr. William George Bensen, MD, FRCPC.
Scope and content
99 items relating to the fur trade in French and British Canada from the 17th to 19th centuries. Some items (e.g. exchanges of correspondence) comprise multiple components. The collection includes correspondence, voyageur contracts, diaries, court proceedings, account books, indentures, bills of exchange, company money, and other documents pertinent to the exercise of the fur trade.
This remarkable collection includes extensive personal and official documentation relating to the exercise of the fur trade in the territory which would eventually become Canada. Included are significant letters (from James McGill, George Simpson, and Catherine Fraser, among others), personal diaries, legal indentures, court papers (especially pertaining to lawsuits), account books, indictments, voyageur contracts, and more. Of particular note are extensive materials relating to the business of several significant fur trading concerns, including both major players like the North West Company and Hudson’s Bay Company and smaller firms like McTavish Frobisher Co., McTavish, McGillvrays and Co., &c. The collection also contains a substantial body of documentation relating to the Anglo-French Cornud family, which was heavily involved in the fur trade.
The collection also contains unlisted supplementary material prepared by Robert D. W. Band and his estate, including transcriptions, facsimiles, handwritten notes, and bibliographic information.
Concise condition notes for each item may be found in the catalogue.
Immediate source of acquisition
The collection was acquired from Wynn Bensen in 2018.
Items have been maintained in the intellectual order of the original sale listing from the disposition of Robert D. W. Band's estate.
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Restrictions on access
The collection is undergoing item-by-item conservation work. Some items may be unavailable for access owing to their condition.
Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
All material in the Fur Trade collection is in the public domain.
This catalogue was prepared by Myron Groover in 2019-20, based on an original sale listing of the collection provided by Gord Russell of Alexander Books. The invaluable assistance of conservator Audrie Schell, who prepared detailed item-level conservation and content notes on each item, is gratefully acknowledged.
Further accruals are not expected.
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2020-02-07, M. Groover.