The Jean Morrison Canadian Fur Trade Library Collection
The Jean Morrison Canadian Fur Trade Library contains a vast array of material related to Fort William and the early nineteenth-century British North American fur trade. The library has approximately 5,000 books and 60 periodicals as well as microfilm, numerous vertical files, historic maps, theses, and staff compilations. Our archives contain the Selkirk Papers, copies of North West Company and Hudson's Bay Company Papers from the Archives of Canada, engagé contracts from the Archives Nationales du Quebec, as well as many other documents. The emphasis and comprehensiveness of our collection allows us to provide critical information about one of the formative periods in Canada's history.
In addition, we have archival material from the Fort William Archaeological Project (FWAP) that chronicles the findings of the archaeological dig that unearthed the original Fort's foundations in the late 1960s. These records are complemented by National Heritage League (NHL) papers tracing the early reconstruction of Fort William Historical Park on its present site.
The library is named in honour of Jean Morrison who served as Fort William Historical Park's historian for 15 years. Morrison is a well-known and highly respected authority on Fort William and the fur trade whose extensive writings include Superior Rendezvous-Place: Fort William in the Canadian Fur Trade, North West Company in Rebellion: Simon McGillivray's Fort William Notebook, 1816 and numerous articles and reviews on the fur trade and local labour history in The Canadian Encyclopedia, the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, the Thunder Bay Historical Society's annual Paper and Records, The Beaver, and Families (Ontario Genealogical Society). Since retiring in 1990, Jean has served on the Ontario Geographic Names Board and the Old Fort William Advisory Committee.
Our library collection plays several important roles in increasing understanding of North America's fur trade history and heritage. In addition to providing much of the original research from the reconstruction of Fort William Historical Park, the collections support our unique living history program. The Fort's interpretative staff use library records and material to develop characters, learn about the material culture and technology of the period, and familiarize themselves with the business dealings of the North West Company. Academics, researchers, and the public also benefit from having access to our resources to further their studies. In the role of historical consultants, the Fort's staff offer their specialized expertise to assist in the design of exhibits for educational and cultural institutions and to create authentic and historically accurate movie and television productions.
The Jean Morrison Canadian Fur Trade Library is located in Fort William Historical Park's Administration Building. It was moved to this site from the East House on the historic grounds after a flood damaged the East House in 2003. The library itself had books and other material damaged by an earlier flood in 1977. The new facility provides a more secure environment including superior humidity, lighting, and safety controls to preserve our collection of rare and unique material.
Please note that we are a non-lending library and that we do not have any material concerning the cities of Fort William or Port Arthur.
An appointment must be made in advance to visit our library.
When visiting the library, please help maintain the integrity of this irreplaceable collection by adhering to the following rules:
▪ No food or drink in the library.
▪ Handle our resources carefully and always with clean hands.
▪ Avoid resting books face up, face down, or on their spine.
▪ Place books you are finished with on the library cart. Library staff will re-shelve books for you.
During the summer season, the Library is open during the Fort's regular operating hours. Off-season hours vary. Please call ahead or e-mail our librarian to book an appointment:
Phone: (807) 473- 2337