Fort Témiscamingue (1720-1902) - A French fur trading post established in 1720 near present day Ville-Marie in Quebec, Canada. Purchased by the North West Company in 1795 and absorbed into the combined Hudson's Bay Company in 1821. Abandoned in 1902.
History of Fort Témiscamingue
Established as a French fur trading post in 1720 on the eastern bank of Lake Timiskaming in Quebec, Canada. Located at a strategic point between Montreal and Hudson Bay, this post was about 25 days away from Montreal by canoe and about the same number of days from Hudson Bay. Relocated from earlier sites.
In 1760 English traders took over the Lake Timiskaming fur trading posts from the French. Until 1795 the lake posts were operated by independent merchants from Quebec and Montreal. The North West Company bought the Témiscamingue post from Grant, Campion and Company in December 1795 and organized the fur trade in the area.
Under the North West Company, the post became a regional center for the distribution of trade goods to outposts and collected the furs for transport back to Montreal. Trade goods were delivered to the post by voyageurs in large canoes that came each year, returning with the furs back to Montreal. The trade goods were packed in 90‑pound waterproofed packages and each voyageur was responsible for eight of the packages. On the return trip, the furs were compressed into similar packages. The canoe trips were arduous affairs with long hours of paddling and hard portages around rapids and waterfalls. Transporting the canoes and packages around each portage usually required each voyageur to make five trips, one for the canoe and four trips for the trade goods, two packages for each trip (180 pounds).
In July 1821 the North West Company merged with the Hudson's Bay Company and the resulting company adopted the Hudson's Bay Company name. The combined company consisted of 97 North West Company trading posts and 76 Hudson's Bay Company posts.
By 1823 Fort Témiscamingue had five permanent employees and about ten buildings that included a trading store, a barn, two houses, a blacksmith forge, a milk house, a supply depot and two winter houses.
Fort Témiscamingue continued to operate as a fur trading post until the area became settled and the timber industry eclipsed the fur trade. The trading posts then became general stores. Fort Témiscamingue became a post office in 1868 and with the arrival of the railroad at Mattawa in 1880 the Hudson's Bay Company district headquarters moved there. The post continued to operate until 1902 although account records indicate operation until 1905.
Part of the Fort Témiscamingue National Historic Site. This site has a visitor center operated by Parks Canada and a unique set of outdoor displays depicting the operation and history of the post. The site is in a spectacular setting at Lake Timiskaming where the Ottawa River narrows to about 800 feet wide. Some stonework remains of original buildings. Two cemeteries. Exceptional interpretation of the site and its history.