Political & Economic Organizations - Additional Reading

Economic Organization

C. The Homeguard

Unlike their First Nations and Metis partners, most HBC employees lacked the skills needed to support themselves through hunting.  To ensure a fresh supply of meat, they encouraged First Nations people to camp near the posts.  These people became known as the homeguard.

Each year, the homeguard began setting up camp in time for the spring goose hunt.  They received brandy or strong beer to celebrate the start of the hunt, along with powder and shot.  The homeguard then returned to the post with meat and feathers to trade.  Inside the post, HBC employees preserved and stored the birds for the winter.

After the hunt, the homegaurd dispersed to their favorite family fishing spots, occasionally returning to the post to trade some of their catch.

At times, the post relied heavily on the homeguard for their survival.  At other times, the homeguard depended on the post. Because they spent much of their time gathering furs and provisions for trade, the homeguard sometimes found themselves short of food.  Many of the areas immediately surrounding the posts became overhunted, providing less and less to those who lived near them. When famine threatened, the homeguard looked to the HBC for support. Sometimes the company gave this support in the form of credit, which put First Nations peoples in debt to the company.