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Cocking, Matthew (1743–99)

Matthew Cocking, a Hudson’s Bay Company employee, was the last European to record his daily travels with Cree wintering on the northern Saskatchewan plains. In 1772, he was sent from Hudson Bay to obtain information on the Montreal traders who were moving up the Saskatchewan River. Cocking went with Pegogamaw Cree, who met their families at the well-known rendezvous at present James Smith First Nation; there they began walking a 500 km-long circuit which took them west to the Eagle Hills, then to the Thickwood Hills, and finally to a Bison pound near Red deer Hill, south of Prince Albert. In 1774, following Cocking’s recommendations, the HBC sent Samuel Hearne to establish their first inland post at Cumberland House. Cocking was to help Hearne, but his Sturgeon Cree guides wanted the post in their own lands; consequently, he was forced to winter near Good Spirit Lake, west of Canora. He commanded Cumberland House in 1775 and 1776, then remained at the Bay until he retired to England in 1782; unlike others, he provided for the three daughters he left behind; a grandson, the famous Rev. Henry Budd, was the first ordained Christian Cree. Cocking kept detailed journals during his two journeys, but only a shortened version of his 1772–73 account has been published.

Dale Russell

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Further Reading

Burpee, L.J. (ed.). 1908. “An Adventurer from Hudson Bay: Being the Journal of a Journey Performed by Matthew Cocking, 1772–1773,” Proceedings and Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada 2 (2): 91–121; Meyer, D. and D. Russell. 2004. “So Fine and Pleasant, Beyond Description: The Lands and Lives of the Pegogamaw Nehiyawaks,” Plains Anthropologist 49 (191): 217–52.
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