The Revolt of Pontiac and the American Invasion
Conflict in the Far North and South
Fort Prince of Wales Captured
Caption: Fort Prince of Wales
The reason for the French arriving in such strength is that Fort Prince of Wales, their objective, was well protected to discourage any attempts to take it. Following the raids made by Iberville at the end of the seventeenth century, the Hudson's Bay Company had begun in 1717 to build a large bastioned fort on an island near what is today the city of Churchill, Manitoba. Called Fort Prince of Wales, it was made of stone and armed with an impressive amount of artillery.
This remarkable structure, the only large stone fort overlooking the Arctic Ocean, took some 60 years to build. Hudson's Bay Company employees were responsible for guarding it, and they held weekly weapons drills. Decades of peaceful isolation, however, convinced them that such military measures were now unnecessary - the French would never dare attack again! So when Lapérouse arrived at the fort Governor Samuel Hearne - who is also known for his explorations of the Canadian North - had only about 80 men, Amerindians included, to operate his 42 pieces of artillery. The next morning the French troops disembarked "unimpeded." When asked to capitulate, "the governor and his garrison surrendered unconditionally." 50 The scenario was repeated at York Factory and Severn. After loading furs and blowing up the forts, the French left Hudson Bay at the beginning of September.
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