Voices from Hudson Bay: Cree Stories from York Factory


158 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7735-1440-6
DDC 971.27'1




Edited by Flora Beardy and Robert Coutts
Illustrations by John Buckner
Reviewed by John Steckley

John Steckley teaches human studies at Hunter College in Toronto.


Voices from Hudson Bay is based on interviews—conducted in Cree from
May 1989 to September 1992—with 14 Swampy Cree elders formerly of York
Factory. The editors/compilers are both employed at Parks Canada—Flora
Beardy as a historic site interpreter and Robert Coutts as a historian.
York Factory operated as a major trading post from the late 17th century
until well into the 19th century. As the editors assert, their work on
the York Factory Oral History Project enables us to hear “new voices
in the reconstruction of the historical past.”

Their book suffers from poor organization. For example, in one part of
the text there are short sections entitled “Spared by a Polar Bear”
and “Power and Bad Feeling,” followed by others entitled “First
Contact with the Hudson’s Bay Company,” “Keeping Our Way of
Life,” and “Ancient Legends and Traditions.” Coutts concludes in
his preface that, in compiling the book, the editors “adhered to no
hard and fast criteria.” The result is a book whose significance is

undermined by its disjointed presentation.


“Voices from Hudson Bay: Cree Stories from York Factory,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/4557.