Fonds 0484 - Davis, Hodgson, Coulter fonds

Farmstead at St. Andrews, Manitoba. Farmstead at St. Andrews, Manitoba. Along the Red River, Manitoba. Along the Red River, Manitoba. Along the Red River, Manitoba. Three men and a horse. St. Andrews Church, Manitoba. Saints Rest, St. Andrews, Manitoba. Four Belles at St. Andrews, Manitoba. Playing croquet.
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Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Davis, Hodgson, Coulter fonds

General material designation

  • Textual record
  • Graphic material

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Title notes

  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents of the fonds.

Level of description

Fonds

Reference code

CA GPR 0484

Edition area

Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Class of material specific details area

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Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area

Date(s)

  • 1821-[ca. 1940] (Creation)
    Creator
    Davis, John

Physical description area

Physical description

3 cm of textual records
31 photographs

Publisher's series area

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Archival description area

Name of creator

(unknown)

Biographical history

The records in the Davis, Hodgson and Coulter fonds were found together in the mid 1960s, in an abandoned log house which had once belonged to Robert and Ruby Coulter.

Research revealed that the documents and photographs were from the descendants of three English men who had arrived in what was then Rupert’s land to work for the Hudson’s Bay Company around the turn of the nineteenth century. All three of these men took “country wives” (i.e. first nations women) as partners. This was a common practice in the fur trade because it gave the trader negotiating power and protection as well as a partner who was skilled in surviving the wilds of Canada. In the next two generations, the three families became strongly inter-related.

John Davis, of Clerkenwell, London arrived in Canada when it was still Rupert’s Land in 1801, to work for the Hudson’s Bay Company. After working at two other posts, he arrived at Henley House in 1812. After two years at Henley, he went on to Osnaburgh and Martin Falls, where he became the chief factor in 1821. He married a woman identified only as Nancy/Anne. Their children were Elizabeth, born [1812]; Mathilda Anne, born 1814; Anne (Nancy), born June 30, 1816; William, born [1820]; Catherine, born [1822] and George, born Apr 23, 1824. In 1820, John Davis prepared a will, from which it is clear that he was concerned about the welfare of his wife and children: “Codicil to my will made in the summer of the year eighteen hundred and twenty and which Will is in possession of my wife Nancy I now will desire and do appoint Thomas Vincent Esquire Chief Factor to the Hudson’s Bay Company a joint executor to my last Will jointly with my brother William and my sister Nancy Davis. I am induced to add this codicil to my Will on reflecting on the uncertainty of life and the situation I leave my dear wife and the children I leave with her in particular my mind will then be relieved from a load of anxiety as my highly esteemed friend is one to whom I can look up with confidence…” In 1822, John went to England for a furlough, taking with him his two children, Matilda and Elizabeth, to be educated in England. After returning to Canada he was the Chief Factor at two other posts before he drowned in Hannah Bay on a journey from Moose Factory to Mistassini. John and Nancy’s oldest daughter, Elizabeth died in 1834 at the age of 12. Matilda Ann returned from England and in 1840 established a school for Metis girls called Oakfield in St. Andrews Parish, north of Winnipeg. She died in 1859, but the school continued and is now a provincial heritage site. Anne (Nancy) married Nicol Finlayson, another HBC Factor and had two children. Catherine married John Hodgson the third, a grandson of John Hodgson and his aboriginal wife. George Davis married Catherine Yorkstone and had seven children, including William, whose papers are in this collection.

Name of creator

(1762-unknown)

Biographical history

The records in the Davis, Hodgson and Coulter fonds were found together in the mid 1960s, in an abandoned log house which had once belonged to Robert and Ruby Coulter.
Research revealed that the documents and photographs were from the descendants of three English men who had arrived in what was then Rupert’s land to work for the Hudson’s Bay Company around the turn of the nineteenth century. In the next two generations, the three families became strongly inter-related.

John Hodgson, son of Ephraim Hodgson from London, England, entered service with the Hudson’s Bay Company at the age of 12 in 1774. He was sent to Rupert’s Land (later Canada) because he had a good education in mathematics, and would be useful for “taking the Distance of Places and making Plans” (citation). The common practice in the fur trade at the time was for the Hudson’s Bay men to take native wives. This gave the trader negotiating power and protection as well as a partner who was skilled in surviving the wilds of Canada. It was either he or his son James who later married Caroline Goodwin, daughter of Robert Goodwin and Moostigoosh, daughter of Puckethwanish, a Cree Headman. John Hodgson, a grandson of the original, married Catherine Davis. Their son Albert was 28 years old when the Riel Rebellion and may have been involved in the rebellion. The census records are not reliable for First Nations and Metis, and they cannot be found in the 1891 Census, but in 1901 Albert and his family are living in Duck Lake, Saskatchewan, where the first battle of the Riel Rebellion was fought in 1885. Albert’s three sons, William, Arthur, and Llewellyn enlisted in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Forces in World War I. William died overseas.

Name of creator

(unknown)

Biographical history

The records in the Davis, Hodgson and Coulter fonds were found together in the mid 1960s, in an abandoned log house which had once belonged to Robert and Ruby Coulter.

Research revealed that the documents and photographs were from the descendants of three English men who had arrived in what was then Rupert’s land to work for the Hudson’s Bay Company around the turn of the nineteenth century. All three of these men took “country wives” (i.e. first nations women) as partners. This was a common practice in the fur trade because it gave the trader negotiating power and protection as well as a partner who was skilled in surviving the wilds of Canada. In the next two generations, the three families became strongly inter-related.

Robert Coulter arrived in the Peace Country with his wife, Ruby Hamilton Coulter, four children, and the rest of the Hamilton family in 1927. In 1929 he took a homestead in the Bridgeview area and four more children were born between 1929 and 1938. The Great Depression was difficult for someone just starting to farm, as is evident from the documents showing Robert had to mortgage two horses and two cows in 1930. It is not clear how the documents came to be in the Coulter home. There is some evidence that Ruby Hamilton was a descendent of Robert Goodwin, another HBC employee, but the direct relationship to the Davis and Hodgson families is not known.

Custodial history

The records were found in an old log house on the NE 9-77-6-W6, originally owned and built by Robert and Ruby Coulter. They were donated to the Archives by later owners.

Scope and content

Documents and photographs from the Davis, Hodgson and Coulter families. They include a parchment copy of an 1821 Last Will and Testament for John Davis, 1850 and 1856 probates of the will for John & Nancy Davis and their children; a 1902 Agreement for Sale of land and a 1916 lease by William Herbert Davis from St. Andrews, Manitoba; a 1930 mortgage for Robert J. Coulter at Bridgeview; three photographs of WW I soldiers from the Hodgson family, [25] photographs from St. Andrews, Manitoba; and two photographs of a WW II soldier.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The records were found in an old log house on the NE 9-77-6-W6, originally owned and built by Robert and Ruby Coulter. They were donated to the Archives by later owners.

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Restrictions on access

There are no restrictions on access.

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Accruals

No accruals are expected.

Alpha-numeric designations

Accession number: 2011.57

Alternative identifier(s)

Standard number area

Standard number

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Control area

Description record identifier

0484

Institution identifier

South Peace Regional Archives

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Level of detail

Partial

Language of description

  • English

Script of description

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