French Attack HBC Posts

A Hudson's Bay Company post on Lake Winnipeg, ...
A Hudson’s Bay Company post on Lake Winnipeg, circa 1884 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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 River 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 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 and England signed a “neutrality pact.”  Both monarchs had their tongues in the cheeks, and it wasn’t long before England and France were at war officially.

To read more on Pierre de Troyes, I suggest The Canadian Encyclopedia; to learn more about Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville et d’Ardillières, The Canadian Encyclopedia again has a nice write-up; to read a fascinating piece on the battle, I really suggest reading The Battle for James Bay in 1686, writen by W.A. Kenyon and J.R. Turnbull.


  1. Thank you for your posts, I look forward to them everyday. I am getting the impression that our history is not as peaceful as I once supposed compared to the US. Instead, it’s not well publicized or discussed among Canadians.


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