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Creighton, Saskatchewan
 
Amisk Lake

A Route for Frobisher and Franklin

On many mornings Amisk Lake is enveloped in mist. Through this mist of time come the echoing sounds of freight canoes gliding between the many islands. Slowly the mist lifts, revealing Amisk Lake's rich and varied history.

In the mid 1700's, the Hudson Bay Company was in threat of losing its fur trade monopoly. "Montrealers," who had inherited the fur trade of New France, were quickly pushing into their areas. In a short time they had built so many trading posts around Lake Winnipeg that the Hudson Bay Company had to abandon its traditional method of waiting on the coast for the fur to come to them.

Under the experienced direction of Samuel Hearne, the HBC established their first western inland post at Cumberland House in 1774. The Hudson Bay Company had begun to react to the challenge of independent traders. One of the independent traders, Alexander Henry Sr., had come north from the American colonies. He quickly realized the only way to compete with the powerful Hudson Bay Company was to organize the many independent traders and form the North West Company, which had its headquarters in Montreal . Their goal was to cut into the monopoly held by the Hudson 's Bay Company, who for over 100 years had enjoyed unrestricted trade with the native peoples carrying their furs down the Churchill River system to the Hudson Bay. The Sturgeon Weir River and Amisk Lake, located just upriver from the HBC's first inland post at Cumberland House, would figure prominently in the North West Company's early plans.

The NWC's goal was to subvert the flow of furs away form the HBC at Cumberland House by advancing an expedition upstream to the headwaters of the Churchill River. In 1774, Henry along with the Frobisher Brothers began their attempt to outflank the HBC and pushed an expedition to establish territory and strengthen their trade north of Cumberland House from Amisk Lake to Isle a La Crosse. An early winter stranded the party and they were forced to winter over on Amisk Lake. Food became so short, Joseph Frobisher lived part of that winter chewing pelts. There were also rumors of cannibalism, but most importantly, they successfully intercepted the supply of pelts which had otherwise been destined for Cumberland House.

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