In Episode One of CBC’s 10 part series, The Story Of Us, Radisson and Des Groseilliers spend the winter of 1660 on the shores of Lake Superior. Here they meet the Cree who describe a vast storehouse of the finest beaver pelts in the world. After learning about river routes leading to Hudson Bay, the two fur traders rush back to New France. When the Governor turns down their request to sponsor a fur trading expedition to the Bay, they set off for England. In England, King Charles II agrees to support them. This leads to the founding of the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1670, and changes the course of Canadian history.
However, this is not the way Radisson tells the story in his Voyages. Nor is it how I tell it in Beaver Coats And Guns. Some historians have discounted Radisson’s account of their canoe trip to Hudson Bay. They claim the description lacks detail. Moreover, they don’t think the two adventurers could have made it there and back in one summer. However, as I argue on this website (see History page),it was not only possible but necessary. To be able to convince others the beaver kingdom the Cree controlled could be reached by sea, they first had to prove it to themselves.
Although I disagree with CBC’s interpretation of the two men’s travels in 1660, I enjoyed the way they were portrayed. They looked and acted as bold and determined as I imagined.