CLARE, JAMES ROBERT, HBC chief factor; b. 1 Nov. 1827, son of Stephen Clare; m. 23 May 1861 Margaret, daughter of Thomas Sinclair, Red River merchant, at Lower Fort Garry (Man.); d. 3 Jan. 1867 at London, England.
Following an education at the Royal Naval School in Camberwell (now in London), a year’s counting-house experience, and brief training in shorthand and surveying, James Robert Clare was appointed apprentice clerk by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1845. He arrived on 8 September at Moose Factory where he spent the 1845–46 season. Except for a season at Edmonton House (1847–48) under Chief Factor John Edward Harriott, and one as chief trader in charge of the company’s Rainy Lake District (1856–57), Clare served at York Factory from 1846 to 1864. Initially an assistant in the counting-house, Clare, under Chief Factor James Hargrave, rose by the early 1850s to take charge of the accounts of the Northern Department of Rupert’s Land and by 1858 of York Factory itself. Clare saw York at the height of its mid century importance as supply depot for the north and when it began to decline in the late 1850s as a result of the company’s adoption of the overland route via St Paul (Minn.) and Upper Fort Garry. In 1861, at the time of his marriage, Clare went with his bride to England on furlough.
Clare, chief factor from 1862, was transferred from York in 1864 to Upper Fort Garry where he took charge of the company’s Red River District. He also acted in place of William Mactavish as chief officer of the Northern Department during Mactavish’s absences from Red River between 1864 and 1866. In late 1866 Clare went to England on private business and died unexpectedly in London from dysentery in January 1867. He was survived by two sons and by his widow, who remarried and continued to live in Red River.
Clare’s early death was a serious loss to the company, depriving it of a most able and vigorous officer. His training, experience, and outlook would likely have fitted him for an important position in the changed circumstances of the company after 1870.
HBC Arch. A.1/78, p.126; A.5/14, pp.353–54; A.6/39, p.308; A.6/41, pp.18, 25, 49, 52–53; A.10/17, ff.385–87d.; A.10/69, f.133; A.11/98; A.11/118, ff.404–6, 464; A.12/9, f.176; A.12/43, f.213–13d.; A.12/44, ff.34d., 194d.–96, 261–61d.; A.16/63, f.58; A.16/64, f.38; A.16/66, f.258; A.33/2, ff.321, 323; A.36/1b, pp.60–62; A.44/4, p.90; B.60/d/87, f.2d.; B.134/c/124, 27 Feb. 1873; B.135/a/150, 8 Sept. 1845; B.135/a/151, 1, 2 June 1846; B.154/a/49, 18 June 1848; B.154/b/10; B.239/c/13, f.59; B.239/k/3, pp.171, 192, 211, 218, 232, 254, 275, 297; B.239/u/1, ff.72d–73; C.1/676, f3d.; C.1/677, f.21; C.1/855, ff.1d., 3, 7, 52; D.4/54, pp.328–30; D.4/68, p.374; D.4/75, pp.778–79; D.4/76a, ff.357–60, 862–65; D.5/15, ff.57, 59–62d.; D.5/21, f.54; D.5/25, f.506; D.5/26, f.640; D.5/28, ff.13d., 400d.–1d.; D.5/43, ff.524f. PABC, Thomas Lowe journal, 1843–50, 25 May 1848 (mfm. at HBC Arch.). PAM, MG 7, B4, register of marriages, 1860–83, 23 May 1861 (mfm. at HBC Arch.). J. J. Hargrave, Red River (Montreal, 1871), 411. MacTavish, Letters of Letitia Hargrave (MacLeod). W. J. Healy, Women of Red River; being a book written down from the recollections of women surviving from the Red River era (Winnipeg, 1923), 46. A. C. Gluek, “The fading glory,” Beaver, outfit 288 (winter 1957), 50–55.