Following their first voyage to Lake Superior in 1659, Radisson and des Grosseilliers returned to Quebec only to be imprisoned for leaving the colony without permission and fined for trading west of Montreal (a decree made by the new Governor General of New France) and had their entire cache of furs confiscated. Besides these atrocities, the French would hear nothing of setting up trading posts in Hudson Bay as recommended by the brothers-in-law. This decision by France would ultimately lead to the creation of the Hudson's Bay Company for the British by their own countrymen.
Dismayed by the actions taken against them on their return to Quebec, and after several unsuccessful attempts to convince the Governor General of the need for trading posts on Hudson Bay, Radisson and des Grosseilliers secretly left New France in 1665 and sailed to England where they hoped to have better luck with the British.
Radisson and des Grosseilliers were quickly accepted by the British. Their experience with the Natives of the New World, as well as their experience in exploration and cartography, not to mention their experience with fur trading, were a valuable asset. It was quite easy for Radisson and des Grosseilliers to convince the merchants of England of the value and potential of trading in Hudson Bay, even though it had been virtually abandoned by the British. If England could gain a foothold in Hudson Bay and make it work, an entire new source of furs could be made available to them. With easier access to Hudson Bay than to the St. Lawrence River, the Natives would be more inclined to trade with the British. This would give them an extreme advantage over the French.
By 1669, preparations had been made for Radisson and 'Gooseberry' (the English translation of 'Grosseilliers', and the name by which des Grosseilliers would become affectionately known to the English) to make their first voyage to Hudson Bay in Britain's name and to begin the process of creating the Hudson's Bay Company, which still exists in Canada today.
Radisson and des Grosseilliers
Médard Chouart des Grosseilliers
Expedition to Lake Superior
* Changing Allegiance *
Hudson Bay Company
Back to France
The Final Chapter