Guns are too Canadian!


I beg your indulgence while I catch up from my technical difficulties…

In the meantime, here’s a little tid-bit for those who say guns aren’t “Canadian”.


Arms in the Northwest

Trade muskets were around in fair numbers. Between 1689 and 1780, the Hudson’s Bay Company had sold roughly 20,000 guns out of York Factory alone (Ray, 74). It would appear that posts had muskets of various lengths in stock at most times. For example, in 1774, the Hudson’s Bay Company sent Samuel Hearne, then at Cumberland House, one 4-foot gun, two 3½-foot guns, and one 3′ 2″ gun (Tyrell, 112-113). In 1798, William Tomison ordered four cases of 3½-foot guns and four cases of 3-foot guns (thirty-two guns in total) from York Factory (Johnson, 177). In 1796, Peter Fidler sent twenty-eight 3-foot guns (as well as 96 assorted bayonets and a gross of knives), by horse, from Buckingham House to Edmonton House. Fidler also notes in a postscript to Tomison that ‘[repairs to] the gun locks etc. shall be done as soon as possible.’ (Johnson, 79, 79n). So, even from quite early, guns were available in fair numbers, right to the foot of the Rockies. You could buy a gun and all the required shooting supplies, even get your lock sent out for repairs, near modern Edmonton, Alberta. This was eight years before and 870 km (540 miles) farther west than from where Lewis & Clark set out from Fort Mandan to penetrate the wilderness of the American West— clearly the situation was quite different in Canada.


Johnson, Alice M. (ed.) Saskatchewan Journals and Correspondence : Edmonton House 1795-1800, Chesterfield House 1800-1802. Hudson’s Bay Record Society : London, 1967.

Ray, Arthur J. Indians in the Fur Trade. University of Toronto Press : Toronto, 1974.

Tyrrell, J. B. (ed.) Journals of Samuel Hearne and Philip Turnor. Reprint : Greenwood Press : New York, 1968. Originally published 1934.


  1. dmcgowan99

    I am, and have been for several years, upset with those who say that firearms are not part of Canada’s heritage. As you have noted, firearms were a big part of trade through-out the building of this country. It takes very little thought to realize that wandering around itn the wilderness without a firearm (even today) is asking for trouble or a quick end.
    Over the years I asked some of the pioneers that were still around about their life and found they all used firearms. Trappers all had .22 rifles, those who could afford it had pistols, and most had bigger bore weapons to supply their camps with moose, elk or venison.
    Even some of diaries from the early years relate the large number of firearms. Governor Douglas of Victoria (later Sir James Douglas) wrote of the miners who responded to the news of gold in British Columbia during 1859 and ’60 “all carried at least one pistol and a large knife” along with a rifle of some discription.
    My novels of the building of Western Canada reflect this. It’s one of the reasons I write them, though certainly not the most important one.

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