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Fort Colvile: Hudson's Bay Company's Interior Upper Columbia River Fur Trading and Agricultural Center

  Subsequent to the 1821 merger of Northwest Company into it, Hudson's Bay Company reorganized the interior operations of the former NWCo Columbia District it inherited.  Among the operations changes he made, HBCo Governor George Simpson ordered the interior Columbia Department fur hub be re-located from Spokane House to a new site.  This new interior fur depot and trade center was one mile above Shonitkwu falls. 

  The falls had been called by NWC's French-Canadian canoe voyageurs, le Chaudiere ["boiling cauldron"].  With the on-set of the HBC location nearby, the falls subsequently became Anglicized as "kettle falls". 

  The former interior hub location was two days by pack train up the turbulent and unnavigable Spokane River tributary from its confluence with the Columbia River.  As a consequence of being inland, the Spokane House operation was inefficient for the Express Canoe brigades crack seasonal spring/fall timeliness.  With its shore proximity immediate to the Columbia River, the new Fort Colvile location afforded efficient overnight operations for the Express Canoe brigades despite a short few mile portage around Shokwitnu's falls.  

  HBCo staff began constructing this new interior fur trade depot above Shonitkwu (Kettle Falls) in late fall of 1825.  Construction was completed sufficiently to begin fur hub operations and interior administration there in the late spring of 1826.  The planting of its first crop of potatoes then also began its large, self-sustaining farm operation there for the interior department as well.  As such, this interior HBCo fort for its time became second only in importance to the Columbia Department headquarters at Fort Vancouver. 

Fort Colvile's hub operations coordinated and conducted the final fur packing and administered its final departmental shipping audit from HBCo's Columbia Department to York Factory [located on its Hudson's Bay namesake] for shipping on to the London fur marketplace. 

  It became the Oregon Country's upper interior commercial hub for goods, supplies and services as well as the chief resource for agricultural produce, livestock and supplies for sustaining the other interior posts.  Traders, fur trappers, indigenous natives, and missionaries all travelled to be supplied by it; international boundary survey teams and early military policing of gold finds and mineral prospecting claims (as well as the international boundary) were subsequently established nearby to be supplied from its stock inventory and services such as: farm produce, dairy, livestock, flour milling, saw-milling, bayou boat-building, blacksmithing and leather repair.

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