Churchill’s Founding Fathers

Who was Churchill named after?

Churchill was named after Captain-General John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough. He won fame during the ‘War of Spanish Succession’ and was thought to be ‘the greatest military genius that Britain produced.’ It was recorded that Churchill ‘never fought a battle that he did not win, and never besieged a place that he did not take.’ Of course, he also had a reputation for duplicity and switching allies at will…

Churchill was likely named after him by King James II, former Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, in 1689. He was dubbed the ‘Duke of Marlborough’ in 1702 by Queen Anne. Of course, Queen Anne eventually kicked him out of the court after he was found guilty of taking bribes and embezzlement.

His father’s name was Sir Winston Churchill; the WWII era’s Winston Churchill was a direct descendant.

Who was Churchill’s founding father?

Well, it was probably a pre-Dorset hunter named ‘Ug’ but for Canadian history’s sake (and when I say Canadian, I mean the Hudson’s Bay Company or HBC or ‘Here Before Christ’), Sir James Knight is credited with establishing the Fort Churchill trading post.

In 1717, Knight sent a delegation to Churchill and finally established a post five miles up the Churchill River. The previous attempt (1689) had mysteriously burnt down while the men were buiding it. James Knight’s first impressions of the Churchill area: ‘York Fort is badd but this is tenn times worse.’

Who were Churchill’s real founding ‘fathers’?

James Knight would never have set up a trading post in Churchill without the influence of a slave woman named Thanadelthur or’jumping or shaking marten’. She was a Caribou Dene that had been captured during a Cree raid and eventually sold to James Knight. She soon convinced him to let her lead a party north to make peace with her people and set up a direct trade with them.

With HBC employee William Stuart and 150 Cree, she set off on a harrowing 1500 kilometre journey, basically from Churchill to Great Slave Lake. She encountered a large group of Dene and pretty much harangued them into a peace treaty. This treaty allowed Fort Churchill to be established as a trading post.

Unfortunately, the trip took its toll. Upon her return, Thanadelthur fell ill at York Factory and another unidentified slave woman made the journey to establish Fort Churchill. William Stuart, the first European to venture into the arctic by foot, died of dementia in 1719.

Thanadelthur is best summed up in James Knight’s journals, ‘She was one of a Very high Spirit and of the Firmest Resolution that ever I see any Body in my Days and of great Courage & forecast, also endowed with an Extraordinary Vivacity of Apprehension, Readily takeing anything right as was proposed to her & Presently Give her Opinion whether it would doo or not’

James Knight did not have spell check.

One Response to Churchill’s Founding Fathers

  1. Bonnie says:

    Reading up on Thanadelthur, and why she is referred to as the “slave woman”. She was captured by the Cree, and escaped but was not sold to Knight. It seems she is referred to as a “Slave woman”, that is, as a member of the Dene group living around what is now Great Slave Lake, but she was NOT a slave to Knight or HBC. Perhaps it was the Cree who called these people “Slave” because the Cree captured so many of them? This perspective makes Thanadelthur even more impressive for forging peace between her people and the Cree (her former captors). I do not know what the Slave people called themselves, or who translated the name for the HBC as “Slave”. Because it is misleading to call Thanadelthur a “slave” when she should be referred to as a member of a Dene group known (to the Cree?) as the Slave People, some additional history would be helpful here.

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