Peter Fidler, chief surveyor and mapmaker for the Hudson Bay Company in the 1790s, was born at mill farm, in Bolsover, Derbyshire, England, to James and Mary Fidler. In 1788 Fidler joined the Hudson’s Bay Company in London. He was soon dispatched overseas to Manitoba, to work as a labourer. The Hudson's Bay Company was a company chartered in 1670 to Prince Rupert and seventeen others by Charles II to govern and trade in the huge area of the Canadian north-west, called Rupert's Land, which drained into Hudson Bay. Although huge profits accrued from the fur trade, the company was, until 1763, threatened by competition and military attack from the French. From 1787 there was occasionally murderous conflict with the North-West Company over control of the fur trade until the two companies amalgamated in 1821
On his arrival in Canada, he was trained by Philip Turner, the company's factor, as a surveyor. In 1790 he was taken on an expedition to locate a new water route linking Hudson Bay to the Great Slave and Athabasca lakes in the hope that the location of such a route would give them an advantage in their battle against the North West Company’s increasing business in the region. Although the expedition was not a success the two-year trek helped Fidler to hone his skills as a surveyor and develop cordial relations with the local First Nations peoples.
Fidler was acknowledged as a man of keen intellect and he was praised as an accomplished explorer, surveyor and cartographer. To this day Peter Fidler is recognized as one of the greatest mapmakers of the fur trade era in the northwest. His journeys took him as far west as the foot of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains and helped him to compile and create maps that would have incredible impact upon the future exploration and settlement of the west.
Fidler married a Native woman and they had 14 children. Other than returning on leave to Bolsover in 1812 to build a home for his mother, the rest of his life was spent in western Canada. His last job as surveyor was to lay out river lots for the Red River Colony, Winnipeg. He died at Fort Dauphin Canada in 1822.
A new countryside reserve, part of a £1.6 million project, has been created on the former Bolsover Colliery site which closed in 1993, and named in honour of Peter Fidler. The 48-acre site has been transformed into a countryside site through landscaping and the planting of trees and vegetation. A 1.5km network of trails and bridleways has been created alongside woodlands, wildlife ponds and marshlands.
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