A Gentleman of Considerable Talent

William Brown and the Fur Trade, 1811–1827

By Geoff Mynett

Categories: BC History
Imprint: Caitlin Press
Paperback : 9781773861524, October 2024
Expected to ship: 2024-10-11

A Gentleman of Considerable Talent presents fascinating insight into the early years of Canada’s fur trade, told through the life of Hudson’s Bay Company trader William Brown.


In 1811, twenty-one-year-old William Brown arrived in Rupert’s Land from the small Scottish village of Kilmaurs. Employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company during perhaps the most conflict ridden years of British North America’s history, Brown set out on the path of the ordinary fur trader. Brown’s time with the HBC is marked by hardship and strife: he struggled to survive during long, hard, hungry winters, and the fierce conflict with men of the rival North West Company during the Pemmican War. He found himself embroiled in the churning politics of the time, playing a role in the mutiny on the waters of the Hudson Bay—throughout, Brown showed he had both the brawn and brains to make a difference.

Described by Governor George Simpson as a zealous gentleman of considerable talent, Brown would go on to establish Fort Kilmaurs in New Caledonia, now Northern BC, and emerge as a pioneering explorer of the Babine and Bulkley Rivers, fueled by the dream of being the first HBC trader to reach the Pacific Ocean via the Skeena River. While not a powerful figure in his own right, Brown nonetheless left a mark on the development of the nation. Through letters and entries in the HBC journals, he gives us a rich picture of the era through his journals. In A Gentleman of Considerable Talent: William Brown and the Fur Trade, 1811–1827, award-winning historian Geoff Mynett delivers the fascinating story of a Hudson’s Bay everyman and the tumultuous conditions of Canada’s fur trade.