The Hudson Bay Start
by Linda C Butler
Charlie Vance, my dad, told this account of leaving The Pas with teams of horses:
“In the winter of 1927, I worked for Ross Navigation with the freight swings, which consisted of 15 teams of horses travelling together through wilderness roads. We were in The Pas and our destination was Flin Flon. We carried mining supplies and freight plus hay and oats for the horses as well as our own supplies.
“The first day we made what is called a Hudson Bay Start, which meant that we left The Pas in the afternoon and only travelled a short distance before we made camp. This way, if something was forgotten, it was still possible to ride back to The Pas to get it. Also, if men were delayed, they could ride out in the evening. We spent that first night on the Big Eddy Indian Reserve just out of The Pas in a church. We cooked our supper on the stove and slept in our bedrolls on the church floor, then departed early the next morning.”
The Hudson Bay Start was a common practice in the early fur trading days. A fur trading team was sent out in their canoes and they camped overnight a short distance from the trading post. This pull-out stage was important because it gave the men an opportunity to ensure that nothing was missing and that they had packed the proper supplies. It was one final check to ensure that everything was in order before venturing into the wilderness. Survival for the men and the success of the trading venture depended on having the correct supplies in the right quantities.
The term Hudson Bay Start is still part of my vocabulary, and I think about it when I travel, however, I can stop at the nearest mall on the route to purchase whatever I may have forgotten and travel is no longer a high-risk endeavor. The term has more significance when we think of projects that involve unknown factors. For a new course of action, a Hudson Bay Start means that we are thoroughly organized before we embark on the project and then we stop and check to make sure that the situation is as we expect before making a full departure.
The Hudson Bay Company was chartered in 1670 and has had a long history. We can benefit from their cautious approach when faced with risks in dealing with unknown situations in both our personal and business lives.
© Linda C Butler 2013