A Brief Historic Overview of Moose Factory

Year of Story: 2010

The Ililiw people or Omushkegowuk/Swamy Cree are the original inhabitants of the Moose River region and James Bay area.   The Moose Cree traditional territory extends from Hearst, Ontario in the west,   towards the Quebec border in the east and from the south near Albany River. (MCFN)

They lived a nomadic life that followed an established seasonal cycle that determined how they hunted, trapped and fished.  The Cree have been the occupiers of this territory since “time immemorial.”  Prior to contact and colonization they had a traditional way of life that included daily practices that encompassed a system of governance, education, health, family/community, spiritual and a reverence for the land.

“Historic evidence indicates that Eurpoeans made first direct contact with James Bay Cree when Henry Hudson traded with an Indian in the region during his voyage in 1610-1611.  From the 1640s onward, French traders and missionaries gained considerable indirect knowledge of the James Bay Cree from Algonquain middleman.”  (Praxis)

“Certainly by the 1670s several French explores, traders and Jesuit missionaries had visited the southern James Bay region.  However, little cultural information about Moose Cree specifically or West Main Cree generally is available from those early years.  Prior to the fur trade, historians and anthropologists surmised that Cree lived by hunting, trapping and fishing according to an established seasonal cycle, living in semi-permanent bark and skin lodges, and travelling by canoe and larger boats when open water allowed, and by snowshoe and toboggan in the winter months.” (Praxis)

A fur trading post was established in Moose Factory in 1673 by the Hudson’s Bay Company.  Moose Factory holds the ‘distincition’ of being Ontario’s oldest English speaking settlement, alongside Kingston, ON.  “During the fur trade period, Cree who lived near the coast established a semi-permanent patter of summer residence at posts and became known to the Hudson’s Bay Company men as “homeguard Indians”, the Cree who lived further inland and maintained a more traditional seasonal cycle were known as ‘uplanders.” (Praxis)

  • In 1673 Moose Factory was established by the Hudson Bay Company..
  • In 1686 Moose Factory was captured by the French.
  • In 1713 Moose Factory returned to British ownership.
  • In 1730 the Hudson Bay Company built a new fort in Moose Factory.
  • In 1810 it became the new headquarters for the Southern Department.
  • In 1821 the Hudson Bay Company and the North West Company merged and remains in operation to this day.
  • In 1851 the Church Missionary Society of England decided to establish a mission in Moose Factory.
  • In 1855 John Horden an Indian Boarding School (Residential School) with mission day schools in Fort Albany and Rupert House (Waskaganish)
  • 1905 Treaty #9 was signed making education of “Indian Children” law, “Bishop’s School” opened September 5, 1905.
  • 1914 Bishop’s School destroyed by fire.
  • 1619 Moose Fort School built and later expanded.
  • 1938 Bishop Horden Memorial School opens with a capacity for 100 children.

1905, Treaty #9 was an agreement established between the Government of Canada in the name of King Edward VII.  This was a formal agreement between nations.  The purpose of the Treaty was to secure the land for settlement, immigration, trade, and travel, mining and lumbering.  The Cree people in this area were in agreement to the promise of “Happiness and Prosperity” along with hunting, fishing, land, to be protected on their homelands, education for their children and future generations.

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A Brief Historic Overview of Moose Factory

The Ililiw people or Omushkegowuk/Swamy Cree are the original inhabitants of the Moose