John Seagrave was born in Toronto, Ontario, but from an early age felt like a cultural orphan in his own community. To escape the inevitable factory job he joined the "Gentleman Adventurers"
John Seagrave was born in Toronto, Ontario, but from an early age felt like a cultural orphan in his own community. To escape the inevitable factory job he joined the "Gentleman Adventurers" of the Hudson's Bay Company as a modern-day fur trader. It was the 1970s and, like many other Bay Boys, he was transferred from pillar to post (ultimately 17 outposts) in northern Ontario and Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories.
Seagrave felt kinship to, and learned from, both Natives and Inuit, spending twenty years working hard as an HBC factor and experiencing many adventures along the way. In the end, the local people helped Seagrave find peace with who he was.
Seagrave initially longed to be a respected Ogemah or "Factor," but the Inuit recognized him as a descendent of the Sag-Li-Oonaat or "Great Liars" - their term for the Irish whalers who had come to their shores, taught them European dances, and regaled them with fantastic stories of their green island.
After retiring from the HBC to Yellowknife, Seagrave decided to write down his tales of northern adventure. It was time to record what he witnessed as the fur trade collapsed, as electricity and television found their way into the remotest of communities and as a revolution in transportation was occurring. Seagrave describes this short period of intense change with humour, compassion, and insight.
"One of the Canadian North's great storytellers, and he has a great story to tell." — Peter C. Newman
"Seagrave has given us a northern version of The Canterbury Tales, chronicling a wonderful range of people observed in a clear-eyed, humourous, and unfailingly compassionate way." — Dan Yashinsky, founder of The Toronto Festival of Storytelling and co-founder of the Storytellers School of Toronto
"Kerr's dry wit and clear-eyed perceptions effectively capture Alberta's many contradictions. Beneath the satire, his affection for the province and its citizens shines through. " — Canadian Book Review Annual
John Seagrave lived in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories with his wife Lisa, who runs the Gallery of the Midnight Sun, which they opened together. He was one of the last generation of Canadian fur traders, and witnessed the closing of an era of our history. The Hudson's Bay Boy chronicles his humorous adventures living amongst the Aboriginal people of Canada's far north. When it was done, it was made into a play which travelled across Canada.
George Heller is the former President and CEO of the Hudson's Bay Company.