Unfortunately, the state of firearms in Museums here isn't as good as I'd prefer. Most museums with any sort of firearms collection start at WW1 and go up from there. They will have the odd NWMP Adams revolvers and Winchesters, Colts, etc, but not too many muzzleloaders (if we don't count single examples of brown besses or trade rifles).Excellent post. A lot of good information here. Thank you.
By rifle culture I mean a few things combined to various degrees. The ratio if that combination might depend on time-frame. First, was rifle use even known about? Not being flippant, there was a time period in the U.S. wherein rifles were being used in parts of Pennsylvania and Virginia, maybe Maryland,,,, but people in most of New York and New England had never heard of one.
(It does seem odd/interesting to me that with "political" travel between places like Boston, Philadelphia, Fredericksburg, and Richmond, that at least more mention of rifle-guns in period writings and even a few more examples didn't come north sooner.)
Once established at least as a known item, was there a demand for then from local makers? This would tie in with another ingredient in our mix which would establish that "rifle culture," (and one that gets asked about many things when discussing historical material culture),,, how common were rifles? How well accepted were they? What purpose were they put to? For the type of work a gun was put to in Canada at the time, was there a significant enough advantage offered by the rifle over the well established large bore smoothbore?
As to examples or a lack of, this could simply be a numbers game. If we think about it, we actually have very few surviving original period guns in the U.S. either made here or imported, when compared to the number of guns that were available at the time.
I never said anything denying rifles were made in Canada,,,, I wouldn't know one way or the other. But my impression is that it would not have been common and if not common this means that there was a much smaller pool of potential survivors. Less originals equals less examples 150 years later. Maybe no examples depending on where those rifles went and what they were used for. As you said, there was a lot of frontier, and a lot of that was navigated by canoe. Lots of potential for lost guns there, lol.
Also, of a gunsmith can make a decent living fixing HBC guns and guns for the local population, with little demand for new rifles, why build them? Again, not saying they never did, it's just another reason for there being less of them and fewer to no examples.
Where else have you looked for examples? Are there any national museums or archives, or university collections that might house an example or three?
I've looked through some private arms collections and spoken to those who knew Don Blyth, who was known as Canada's premiere collector of Canadian-made firearms (Gooding's book used many of Blyths firearms collection for photography), but his collection was sold off through Miller & Miller a few years back. Even though he didn't have any flintlocks, he didn't deny that they existed at one point in time (from what I've been told through fellow collectors who knew him). Supposedly, some of his collection was given to the McCord-Stewart Museum in Montréal, but they, unfortunately, shut down during Covid, and their collections are now all boxed up, unable to be looked into. They do have some examples you can look up on their website online, but again, all the ones that are listed as being made in Canada are percussions. There are tons of British and French rifles *used* by Canadians, but they don't show any that were made here. There are a lot of "unknowns" in their collection, however.
There is an interesting example of a Baker rifle used by Dr. Wolfred Nelson, who was a member of the "Patriotes", a political movement in Lower Canada (Quebec) that was against colonial control of the Canadian colonies, and often resulted in Armed conflict between them and the British. He was exiled in 1837 for treason but was pardoned after the Canadian Rebellions and would become mayor of Montreal in 1854.
A lot of folks outside Canada don't realize that we had our own scuffles up north with the Colonial governments. Basically, simultaneously the Anglo-Canadians of Ontario and the Franco-Canadians of Quebec rebelled against the governments, which, although mostly unsuccessful and not too bloody, led to a reforming of the Colonial government and *somewhat* establishing Canada as an entity in and of itself, rather than just an extension of Britain. Canada eventually got quasi-independence in 1867 as a Dominion. Here's a bit on those early rebellions if you're curious.
I've also been speaking about this topic with the Intendant at Château Ramezay - Historic Site and Museum of Montréal, who knows his colonial arms, but also has never seen a Canadian-made flintlock and is also looking into the subject. Interesting side note, as it's not evidence of Canadian-made rifles, but he's worked at a dig site called the Cartier-Roberval in Quebec they were able to find European flint, seemingly shaped to be used for a rifle and showing wear marks from use, that they were able to date to 1541, which far predates when we think flintlocks became a common use weapon, especially in the Colonies!