TICHENOR, Harold Lee




Author Tags: Forts and Fur

DATE OF BIRTH: 17 January 1946

PLACE OF BIRTH: Philadelphia Pa USA

ARRIVAL IN CANADA: 1966

EMPLOYMENT OTHER THAN WRITING: 45 years in the film and television industry as a director, writer, producer.

BOOKS:

Tichenor, Harold Lee. The Blanket: An Illustrated History of the Hudson's Bay Point Blanket (HBC/Quantum, Toronto 2002).

Tichenor, Harold Lee. The Collector's Guide to Point Blankets of the Hudson's Bay Company and other companies trading in North America (Bowen Island: Cinetel Film Productions Ltd., 2003).

BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS: Harold Tichenor started his career in filmmaking in 1961. He spent his late teens in Alaska before coming to Canada as a documentary filmmaker in 1966. For forty years he worked as a producer, writer and director of both documentary and dramatic films, increasingly turning his hand to writing. Several of his scripts were commissioned by the CBC and CHUM/City for dramatic television productions. He was urged to produce a historical examination of Hudson's Bay Company blankets by Robert Kapoun of New Mexico, author of The Language of the Robe, an examination of American-made Indian trade blankets. Tichenor first acquired a "point blanket" from an antique store in the U.S. on a whim and became increasingly curious about his purchase. One of his chief informants was Quintin Finlay, formerly of the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company.

"While point blankets have always been manufactured in a variety of colours and basic patterns," Tichenor writes, "they are usually made of wool and have one or more stripes (also called headings, bars or bands) near each end. But, most importantly, a point blanket bears a number of short threads of wool yarn usually woven or sewn into a corner of the blanket's central field. These lines are called 'points' and were intended to identify the size and thus the value of the blanket. It is probably that the word "point" is derived from the French verb empointer, meaning tomake stitches on cloth. For well over three hundred years, wool blankets, axes, iron and copperware, knives and firearms served as the principal European goods offered in trade to the people of the First Nations of North America." French traders in North America during the 1690s introduced the point system for trading blankets for furs in New France, prior to its adoption by the Hudson's Bay Company. According to Harold Tichenor, the Hudson's Bay Company did not adopt the point blanket as a staple of trade until 1779. The term Hudson's Bay Blanket became synonymous with the term point blanket by the 1830s. Most indigenous peoples preferred to use the blankets as outer robes due to their relatively light weight, attractive range of colours and high insulation quality. "Blankets made from hides," Tichenor writes, "were made from hides, woven plant fibres and even native wools had existed in North America long before the introduction of European-made woolen goods." As part of formal and informal treaty agreements, Hudson's Bay blankets were later provided as "annuity blankets" to First Nations as compensation for the appropriation of their lands and traditional resources. On the West Coast in particular, blankets became a form of cultural currency when potlatches were held.

Tichenor spends winters on Bowen Island and summers in the East Kootenays.

[BCBW 2005] "Forts and Fur"