New manuscripts directly related to Canada's history rarely come to light.
The Labrador Companion, written in 1810 by Captain George Cartwright (1739-1819), and discovered in 2013, is a fascinating and unusual find because of its level of detail, its setting in a hardly studied part of Britain's fur-trade empire, and because it is a personal account rather than a trade outfit ledger or government document. This annotated edition transcribes The Labrador Companion in full.
Cartwright documented the everyday work of Labrador's particular kind of fur-trade life based on his experiences operating a series of merchant stations in southern Labrador between 1770 and 1786.
Although his focus is firmly on instruction in the manifold ways of capturing animals, he also provides rare glimpses of Innu and Inuit life as well as of housekeeping and gardening.
The Labrador Companion includes a lengthy description of Labrador's fauna - of land, sea, and air - that counts among Canada's earliest natural history writing based on first-hand observation. A revealing account of fur-trade-era technology, methods, and materials, conveyed through one man's acquired knowledge and skills, The Labrador Companion gives a close-to-the-ground picture of the resource industries that were at the heart of British, and French, colonial presence in the Canadian northeast.