Tarpaulin, a native of Hawaii, enlisted with the Hudson’s Bay Company at O’ahu in 1843, beginning his service at Cowlitz Farm (1843-1847) as a labourer. In addition to Cowlitz Farm, Barman and Watson list years of service for Tarpaulin at Fort Victoria (1847-1848), as well as Fort Vancouver (1848-1849), and the Columbia Department (1851-1852). However, an entry in the Fort Victoria Journal dated 15th December, 1846 attested to Tarpaulin’s presence at Fort Victoria at an earlier date. In an entry dated 12th May, 1847, he is mentioned in the Fort Victoria Journal to be suffering from an injured eye. A final entry recorded his departure from Fort Victoria on 10th November, 1847, with another Hawaiian HBC servant, Kamakeea, aboard the Barque Columbia, the ship being bound for England via Honolulu with a load of furs. He reappeared the following year at Fort Vancouver, but deserted 10th October, 1849 for California. Both the U.S. Census for 1850 and the Columbia records (1851-1852) recorded a ‘Tarpulin’. In 1852, Tarpaulin became a freeman (workers who were not under contract with the Company, engagé, and for whom the Company was not responsible, to them or their families). It is likely Tarpaulin was not his original Hawaiian name, but represents a nickname.


  • Barman, Jean and Bruce Watson, Leaving Paradise: Indigenous Hawaiians in the Pacific Northwest. (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2006).
  • Reid, John Phillip, Contested Empire: Peter Skene Ogden and the Snake River Expeditions. (Foreword by Martin Ridge). (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2002).
Frederick Gentz