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The North-west Passage by land. Being the narrative of an expedition from the Atlantic to the Pacific,… Milton, William Fitzwilliam, Viscount, 1839-1877; Cheadle, Walter B. (Walter Butler), 1835-1910 1865

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BY    LAND.      THE 

W. B. CHEADLE, M.A., M.D. Cantab., F.B.G.S. 
Bos.   Well, this is the Forest of Arden. 
Touch.   Ay, now I am in Arden; the more fool I; when I was at home, I was in a 
better place: but travellers must be content. As You Like It. 
Ludgate HILL, E.C. 
4, (xrosvenor Square,
1st Jv/ne, 1865.  CONTENTS.
Sail for Quebec—A Rough Voyage—Our Fellow-Passengers—The Wreck
—Off the Banks of Newfoundland—Quebec—Up the St. Lawrence—
Niagara—The Captain and the Major—Westward Again—Sleeping
Cars—The Red Indian—Steaming up the Missisippi—Lake Pippin—
Indian Legend—St. Paul, Minnesota—The Great Pacific Railroad—
Travelling by American StageWagon—The Country—Our Dog Rover
—The Massacre of the Settlers by the Sioux—Culpability of the
United States G-overnment—The Prairie—Sliooting by the Way—
Reach Georgetown      ..........
Georgetown—Minnesota Volunteers—The Successful Hunters—An Indian
Hag—Resolve to go to Fort Garry in Canoes—Rumours of a Sioux
Outbreak—The Half-breeds refuse to Accompany us—Prepare to Start
Alone—Our Canoes and Equipment—A Sioux War Party—The Half-'
breed's Story—Down Red River—Strange Sights and Sounds—Our
First Night Out—Effects of the Sun and Mosquitoes—Milton Disabled
—Monotony of the Scenery—Leaky Canoes—Travelling by Night—The
| Oven " Camp—Hunting Geese in Canoes—Meet the Steamer—
Milton's Narrow Escape—Treemiss and Cheadle follow Suit—Carried
Down the Rapids—Vain Attempts to Ascend—A Hard Struggle—On
Board at last—Start once more—Delays—Try a Night Voyage again—
The I Riband Storm "—" In Thunder, Lightning, and in Rain "—Fearful
Phenomena—Our Miserable Plight—No Escape—Steering in Utter
Darkness—Snags and Rocks—A Long Night's Watching—No Fire—
A Drying Day—Another Terrible Storm—And Another—Camp of
Disasters—Leave it at last—Marks of the Fury of the Storms—Provisions at an End—Fishing for Gold-eyes—A Day's Fast—Slaughter of
Wild-Fowl—Our Voracity—A Pleasant Awakening—Caught up by the
Steamer—Pembina—Fort Garry—La Ronde—We go under Canvass
IS .«*i
Fort Garry—Origin of the Red River Settlement—The First Settlers—Their
Sufferings—The North-Westers—The Grasshoppers—The Blackbirds—
The Flood—The Colony in 1862—King Company—Farming at Red
River—Fertility of the Soil—Isolated Position of the Colony—Obstructive Policy of the Company—Their Just Dealing and Kindness to the
Indians—Necessity for a Proper Colonial Government—Value of the
Country—French Canadians and Half-breeds—Their Idleness and
Frivolity—Hunters and Voyageurs—Extraordinary Endurance—The
English and Scotch Settlers—The Spring and Fall Hunt—Our Life at
Fort-Garry—Too Late to cross the Mountains before Winter—Our
Plans—Men—Horses—Bucephalus—Our Equipment—Leave Fort Garry
—The "Noce"—La Ronde's Last Carouse—Delightful Travelling—A
NightAlarm—VitalDeserts—Fort Ellice—Delays—Making Pemmican— .
Its Value to the Traveller—Swarms of Wild-Fowl—Good Shooting—
The Indian Summer—A Salt Lake Country—Search, for Water—A
Horse's Instinct—South Saskatchewan—Arrive at Carlton   .        .        .36
Carlton—Buffalo close to the Fort—Fall of Snow—Decide to Winter near
White Fish Lake—The Grisly Bears—Start for the Plains—The Dead
Buffalo—The White Wolf—Running Buffalo Bulls—The Gathering of
the Wolves—Treemiss Lost—How he Spent the Night—Indian Hospitality—Visit of the Crees—The Chief's Speech—Admire our Horses—
Suspicious Stratagem to Elude the Crees—Watching Horses &i Night—
Suspicious Guests—The Cows not to be Found—More Running—Tidings
of our Pursuers—Return to the Fort .59
The Ball—Half-breed Finery—Voudrie and Zear return to Fort Garry—
Treemiss starts for the Montagne du Bois—Leave Carlton for Winter
Quarters—Shell River—La Belle Prairie—Rivi&re Crochet—The Indians
of White Fish Lake—Kekek-ooarsis, or " Child of the Hawk," and
Keenamontiayoo, or " The Long Neck "—Their Jollification—Passionate
Fondness for Rum—Excitement in the Camp—Indians flock in to Taste
the Fire-water—Sitting out our Visitors—A Weary Day—Cache the
Rum Keg by Night—Retreat to La Belle Prairie—Site of our House—
La Ronde as Architect—How to Build a Log Hut—The Chimney—A
Grand Crash—Our Dismay—Milton supersedes La Ronde—The Chimney
Rises again—Our Indian Friends—The Frost sets in
Furnishing—Cheadle's Visit to Carlton—Treemiss there—His Musical Evening with Atahk-akoohp—A very Cold Bath—State Visit of the Assini-
boines—Their Message to Her Majesty—How they found out we had
Rum—Fort Milton Completed—The Crees of the Woods—Contrast to
the Crees of the Plains—Indian Children—Absence of Deformity—A
" Moss-bag "—Kekek-ooarsis and his Domestic Troubles—The Winter
begins in Earnest—Wariness of all Animals—Poisoning Wolves—Caution
of the Foxes—La Ronde and Cheadle start for the Plains—Little Mis-
quapamayoo—Milton's Charwoman—On the Prairies—Stalking Buffalo
—Belated—A Treacherous Blanket—A Cold Night Watch—More
Hunting—Cheadle's Wits go Wool-gathering—La Ronde's Indignation
—Lost all Night—Out in the Cold again—Our Camp Pillaged—Turn
Homewards—Rough and Ready Travelling—Arrive at Fort Milton—
Feasting 79
Trapping—The Fur-bearing Animals—Value of different Furs—The Trapper's
Start into the Forest—How to make a Marten Trap—Steel Traps for
Wolves and Foxes—The Wolverine—The Way he Gets a Living—His
Destructiveness and Persecution of the Trapper—His Cunning—His
Behaviour when Caught in a Trap—La Ronde's Stories of the Carcajou
—The Trapper's Life—The Vast Forest in Winter—Sleeping Out—The
Walk of Indians and Half-breeds—Their Instinct in the Woods—The
Wolverine Demolishes our Traps—Attempts to Poison him—Treemiss's
Arrival—He relates his Adventures—A Scrimmage in the Dark—The
Giant Tamboot—His Fight with Atahk-akoohp—Prowess of Tamboot—
Decide to send our Men to Red River for Supplies—Delays  .
Milton visits Carlton—Fast Travelling—La Ronde and Bruneau set out for
Fort Garry—Trapping with Misquapamayoo—Machinations against the
Wolverine—The Animals' Fishery—The Wolverine Outwits us—Return
Home—The Cree Language—How an Indian tells a Story—New Year's
Day among the Crees—To the Prairies again—The Cold—Travelling
with Dog-sleighs—Out in the Snow—Our New Attendants—Prospect
of Starvation—A Day of Expectation—A Rapid Retreat—The Journey
Home—Indian Voracity—Res Angusta Domi—Cheadle's Journey to
the Fort—Perversity of his Companions—" The Hunter " yields to
Temptation—Milton's Visit to Kekek-ooarsis—A Medicine Feast—The
New Song—Cheadle's Journey Home—Isbister and his Dogs—Mahay-
gun, " The Wolf |—Pride and Starvation—Our Meeting at White Fish
Lake .        	
Our New Acquaintances—Taking it Quietly—Mahaygun Fraternises with
Keenamontiayoo—The Carouse—Importunities for Rum—The Hunter
asks for more—A Tiresome Evening—Keenamontiayoo Renounces us—
His Night Adventure—Misquapamayoo's Devotion—The Hunter returns
Penitent—The Plains again—The Wolverine on our Track—The Last
Band of Buffalo—Gaytchi Mohkamarn, " The Big Knife "—The Cache t
Intact—Starving Indians—Story of Keenamontiayoo—Indian Gambling
— The Hideous Philosopher — Dog Driving — Shushu's Wonderful
Sagacity—A Long March—Return to La Belle Prairie—Household
Cares—Our Untidy Dwelling—Our •Spring Cleaning—The Great Plum
Pudding—Unprofitable Visitors—Rover's Accomplishments Astonish
the Indians—Famine Everywhere 138
La Ronde's Return—Letters from Home—A Feast—The Journey to Red
River and Back—Hardships—The Frozen Train—Three Extra Days—
The Sioux at Fort Garry—Their Spoils of War—Late Visitors—Musk-
Rats and their Houses—Rat-catching—Our Weather Glass—Moose
Hunting in the Spring—Extreme Wariness of the Moose—His Stratagem
to Guard against Surprise—Marching during the Thaw—Prepare to
leave Winter Quarters—Search for the Horses—Their Fine Condition—
Nutritious Pasturage—Leave La Belle Prairie—Carlton again—Good-bye
to Treemiss: and La Ronde—Baptiste Supernat—Start for Fort Pitt—
Passage of Wild-Fowl—Baptiste's Stories—Crossing Swollen Rivers—
Addition to our Party—Shooting for a Living—The Prairie Bird's Ball
—Fort Pitt—Peace between the Crees and Blackfeet—Cree Full Dress
—The Blackfeet—The Dress of their Women—Indian Solution of a
Difficulty—Rumours of War—Hasty Retreat of the Blackfeet—Louis
Battenotte, "The Assiniboine"—His Seductive Manners—Departure for
Edmonton—A Night Watch—A Fertile Land—The Works of Beaver—
Their Effect on the Country—Their decline in Power—How we Crossed
the Saskatchewan — Up the Hill—Eggs and Chickens — Arrive at
Edmonton 161
Edmonton—Grisly Bears—The Roman Catholic Mission at St. Alban's—The
Priest preaches a Crusade against the Grislies—Mr. Pembrun's Story—
The Gold Seekers—Perry, the Miner—Mr. Hardisty's Story—The Cree
in Training—Running for Life—Hunt for the Bears—Life at a Hudson's
Bay Fort—Indian Fortitude—Mr. O'B. introduces Himself—His Extensive Acquaintance—The Story of his Life—Wishes to Accompany US'—
His Dread of Wolves and Bears—He comes into the Doctor's hands—
He congratulates us upon his Accession to our Party—The Hudson's Bay
People attempt to dissuade us from trying the Leather Pass—Unknown
Country on the West of the Mountains—The Emigrants—The other
Passes—Explorations of Mr. Ross and Dr. Hector—Our Plans—Mr.
O'B. objects to " The Assiniboine "—" The Assiniboine " protests against
Mr. O'B.—Our Party and Preparations 183
Set  out fr«!& Edmonton—Prophecies of Ewi—Mr.   0'B.'s Forebodings-
Lake St. Ann's—We enter the. Forest—A Rough Trail—Mr. O'B., im- CONTENTS.
pressed with the difficulties which beset him, commences the study of
Paley—Pembina River—The Coal-bed—Game—Curious Habit of the
Willow Grouse—Mr. O'B. en route—Changes wrought by Beaver—The
Assiniboine's Adventure with theQtfcily Bears—Mr. O'B. prepares to sell
his Life dearly—Hunt for the Bears—Mr. O'B. Protects the Camp—The
Bull-dogs—The Path through the Pine Forest—The Elbow of the McLeod
—Baptiste becomes Discontented—Trout Fishing—Moose Hunting—
Baptiste Deserts—Council—Resolve to Proceed—We lose the Trail—
The Forest on Fire—Hot Quarters—Working for Life—Escape—Strike
the Athabasca River— First View of the Rocky Mountains—Mr. O'B.
spends a Restless Night-r-Over the Mountain—Magnificent Scenery—
Jasper House—Wild Flowers—Hunting the " Mouton Gris " and the
" Mouton Blanc "	
Making a Raft—Mr. O'B. at Hard Labour—He admires our "Youthful
Ardour"—News of Mr. Macaulay—A Visitor—Mr. O'B. Fords a
River—Wait for Mr. Macaulay—The Shushwaps of the Rocky Mountains—Winter Famine at Jasper' House—The Wolverine—The Miners
before us—Start again—Cross the Athabasca—The Priest's Rock—
Site of the Old Fort, " Henry's House "—The Valley of the Myette—
Fording Rapids—Mr. O'B. on Horseback again—Swimming the
Myette—Cross it for the Last Time—The Height of Land—The
Streams run Westward—Buffalo-dung Lake—Strike the Fraser River—
A Day's Wading—Mr. O'B.'s Hair-breadth Escapes—Moose Lake-
Rockingham Falls—More Travelling through Water—Mr. O'B. becomes disgusted with his Horse—Change in Vegetation—Mahomet's
Bridge—Change in the Rocks—Fork of the Fraser, or original Tete
Jaune Cache—Magnificent Scenery—Robson's Peak—Flood and Forest
—Horses carried down the Fraser—The Pursuit—Intrepidity of the
Assiniboine—He rescues Bucephalus—Loss of Gisquakarn—Mr. O'B.'s
Reflections and Regrets—Sans Tea and Tobacco—The Extent of our
Losses—Mr. O'B. and Mrs. Assiniboine—Arrive at the Cache
T§te Jaune Cache—Nature of the Country—Wonderful View—West of the
Rocky Mountains, Rocky Mountains still—The " Poire," or Service
Berry—The Shushwaps of The Cache—The Three Miners—Gain but
little Information about the Road—The Iroquois return to Jasper
House—Loss of Mr. O'B.'s Horse—Leave The Cache—The Watersheds
—Canoe River—Perilous Adventure with a Raft—Milton and the
•Woman—Extraordinary Behaviour of Mr. O'B.—The Rescue—The
Watershed of the Thompson—Changes by Beaver—Mount Milton—
| Enormous Timber—Cross the River—Fork of the North Thompson—
A. Dilemma—No Road to be Found—Cross the North-west Branch-
Mr. O'B.'s Presentiment of Evil—Lose the Trail again—Which Way
shall  we   Turn?—Resolve   to  try and reach  Kamloops—A-Natural Xll
Bridge—We become Beasts of Burden—Mr. O'B. objects, but is overruled by The Assiniboine—"A Hard Road to Travel"—Miseries of
driving Pack-horses—An Unwelcome Discovery—The Trail Ends—
Lost in the Forest—Our Disheartening Condition—Council of War-
Explorations of The Assiniboine, and his Report—A Feast on Bear's
Meat—How we had a Smoke, and were encouraged by The Assiniboine 264
We commence to Cut our Way—The Pathless Primeval Forest—The Order
Of March—Trouble with our Horses : Their Perversity—Continual
Disasters—Our Daily Fare—Mount Cheadle—Country Improves only
in Appearance—Futile Attempt to Escape out of the Valley—A
Glimpse of Daylight—Wild Fruits—Mr. O'B. triumphantly Crosses
the River—The Assiniboine Disabled—New Arrangements—Hopes of
Finding Prairie-Land—Disappointment—Forest and Mountain Everywhere—False Hopes again—Provisions at an End—Council of War—
The Assiniboine Hunts without Success—The Headless Indian—"Le
Petit Noir" Condemned and Executed—Feast on Horse-flesh—Leave
Black Horse' Camp—Forest again—The Assiniboine becomes Disheartened—7The Grand Rapid—A Dead Lock—Famishing Horses—The
Barrier—Shall we get Past ?—Mr. O'B. and Bucephalus—Extraordinary
Escape of the Latter—More Accidents—La Porte d'Enfer—Step by
Step—The Assiniboine Downcast and Disabled—Mrs.. Assiniboine takes
his Place—The Provisions come to an End again—A Dreary Beaver
Swamp—-The Assiniboine gives up in Despair—M. O.'B. begins to Doubt,
discards Paley, and prepares to become Insane—We kill another Horse—
A Bird of Good Omen—The Crow speaks Truth—Fresher Sign—A
Trail—The Road rapidly Improves—Out of the Forest at Last!    .        . 286
On a Trail Again—The Effect on Ourselves and Horses—The Changed
Aspect of the Country—Wild Fruits—Signs of Man Increase—Enthusiastic Greeting—Starving again—Mr. O'B. finds Caliban—His
Affectionate Behaviour to him—The Indians' Camp—Information
about Kamloops—Bartering for Food—Clearwater River—Cross the
Thompson—The Lily-berries—Mr. O'B. and The Assiniboine Fall Out—
Mr. O'B. flees to the Woods—Accuses The Assiniboine of an Attempt to
Murder him—Trading for Potatoes—More Shushwaps—Coffee and
Pipes—Curious Custom of the Tribe—Kamloops in Sight—Ho ! for
the Fort—Mr. O'B. takes to his Heels—Captain St. Paul—A Good'
Supper—Doubts as to our Reception—Our Forbidding Appearance—
Our Troubles at an End—Rest   .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .311
Kamloops—We discover True Happiness—The Fort and Surrounding
Country—The Adventures of the Emigrants who preceded us—
Catastrophe at the Grand Rapid—Horrible Fate of Three Canadians— CONTENTS.
Cannibalism—Practicability of a Road by the Yellow Head Pass—
Various Routes from Tete Jaune Cachfe—Advantages of the Yellow
Head Pass, contrasted with those of the South—The Future Highway to
the Pacific—Return of Mr. McK^y—Mr. O'B. sets out alone—The
Murderers—The Shushwaps of Kamloops—Contrast between them and
the Indians East of the Rocky Mountains—Mortality—The Dead Un-
buried—Leave Kamloops—Strike the Wagon Road from the Mines—
Astonishment of the .Assiniboine Family—The remarkable Terraces of
the Thompson and Fraser—Their Great Extent: contain Gold—Connection with the Bunch-grass—The Road along the Thompson—Cook's
Ferry—The Drowned Murderer—Rarity of Crime in the Colony—The
most Wonderful Road in the World—The Old Trail—Pack-Indians—
Indian Mode of Catching Salmon—Gay Graves—The Grand Scenery of
the Canons—Probable Explanation of the Formation of the Terraces—
Yale—Hope and Langley—New Westminster—Mr. O'B. turns up again
—Mount Baker—The Islands of the Gulf of Georgia—Victoria, Vancouver Island     ............
Victoria—The Rush there from California—Contrast to San Francisao. under
sMilar Circumstances—The Assiniboines see the Wonders of Victoria
—Start for Cariboo—Mr. O'B. and The Assiniboine are reconciled—
The former re-establishes his Faith—Farewell to the Assiniboine
Family—Salmon in Harrison River—The Lakes—Mr. 0. B.'s Triumph
—Lilloet—Miners' Slang—The "Stage" to Soda Creek—Johnny the
Driver—Pavilion Mountain—The Rattlesnake Grade—The Chasm—
Way-side Houses on the Road to the Mines—We meet a Fortunate
Miner—The Farming Land of the Colony—The Steamer—Frequent
Cocktails—The Mouth of Quesnelle—The Trail to William's Creek—A
Hard Journey—Dead Horses—Cameron Town, William's Creek   .       . 351
William's Creek, Cariboo—The Discoverers—The Position and Nature
of the Gold Country—Geological Features—The Cariboo District—
Hunting the Gold up the Fraser to Cariboo—Conjectured Position of
the Auriferous Quartz Veins—Various .kinds of Gold—Drawbacks to
Mining in Cariboo—The Cause of its Uncertainty—Extraordinary
Richness of the Diggings—" The Way the Money Goes "—Miners'
Eccentricities—Our Quarters at Cusheon's—Price of Provisions—The
Circulating  Medium—Down   in  the  Mines—Profits  and Expenses—
The   "Judge"—Our   Farewell   Dinner—The Company—Dr. B 1
waxes   Eloquent—Dr. B k's   Noble   Sentiments—The   Evening's
Entertainment—Dr. B 1 retires,  but  is heard  of  again—General
Confusion—The Party breaks up—Leave Cariboo—Boating down the
Fraser—Camping Out—William's Lake—Catastrophe on the River—
The Express Wagon—Difficulties on the Way—The Express-man Prophesies his own Fate—The Road beyond Lytton—A Break-down—
Furious Drive into Yale —Victoria once more 364 ——
Nanai«to and San Juan—Resources of British Columbia and Vancouver
Island—Minerals—Timber—Abundance of Fish—Different kinds of
Salmon—The Hoolicans, and the Indian Method of Taking them—
Pasturage—The BunchTgrass: its Peculiarities and Drawbacks—Scarcity
of Farming Land—Different Localities—Land in Vancouver Island—
Contrast between California and British Columbia—Gross Misrepresentations .of the Latter—Necessity for Saskatchewan as an Agricultural
Supplement—Advantages of a Route across the Continent—The
Americans before us—The Difficulties less by the British Route—
Communication with China and Japan by this Line—The Shorter
Distance—The Time now come^or the Fall of the Last Great Monopoly
—The North-West Passage, by Sea, and that by Land—The Last News
of Mr. O'B.—Conclusion 385
Our Party Across the Mountains Frontispiece.
Our Night Camp on Eagle River.—Expecting the Crees ... 68
Oub Winter Hut.—La Belle Prairie  76
A Marten Trap  102
Swamp formed by Beaver, with Ancient Beaver House and Dam   . 179
Fort Edmonton, on the North Saskatchewan  183
The Forest on Fire  225
Over the Mountain, near Jasper House  231
View from the Hill opposite Jasper House.—The Upper Lake of
the Athabasca River and Priest's Rock  232
Crossing the Athabasca Riveb, in the Rocky Mountains .       .       . 245
The Assiniboine rescues Bucephalus  259
Our Misadventure with the Raft in crossing Canoe River    .       . 271
A View on the North Thompson, looking Eastward       .       .       . 275
The Trail at an End  281
Mr. O'B. triumphantly Crosses the River  291
The Headless Indian  296
The Terraces on the Fraser River  338
Yale, on the Fraser River  347
The "Rattlesnake Grade."—Pavillon Mountain, British Columbia;
altitude, 4,000 feet  356
A Way-side House.—Arrival of Miners  359
A Way-side House at Midnight  359
Miners washing for Gold  372
The Cameron "Claim," William's Creek, Cariboo     .... 373
General Map of British North America, showing the Authors'
Route across the Continent .... (Boimd with Volume.)
Map of the Western Portion of British North America, showing
the Route across the Rocky Mountains by the Yellow Head,
or Leather Pass, into British Columbia, on a larger scale.
In the various reviews of this Work which have from
time to time appeared, the critics have differed greatly
in the measure of their faith in Mr. O'B., one of the
most prominent characters in the narrative. Some
have merely expressed themselves as troubled with
vague doubts whether he ever had any existence,
except in the imagination of the Authors; while others
have at once unhesitatingly assumed that he was a
fictitious character; and others again, on the contrary,
have not only heartily accepted him as a reality, but,
being doubtless possessed of special sources of information—perhaps, indeed, being numbered amongst
the legion of Mr. O'B.'s acquaintances—have also
disclosed to the public the farther particulars that he
is a clergyman, and that his name is O'Brien! As
these doubts and erroneous statements might affect, in
some degree, the general credit of a narrative, the XV111
value of which, as an account of the exploration of
a country little known, must depend on its careful
fidelity, the Authors feel themselves called upon to
state—First, that Mr. O'B. is not a fictitious character, but a real actor in the story, portrayed as faithfully and truly as it lay in the power of the Authors
to depict him; and that the adventures which he is
recorded to have met with are in no wise exaggerated
or imaginary, but strictly true. Secondly, that
although Mr. O'B. was passionately devoted to the
study of theology, and a staunch and enthusiastic
Churchman, he was not a clergyman. Lastly, that
his name was not O'Brien.
Should Mr. O'B. be the means of drawing attention to and promoting the settlement of the Fertile
Belt, and the formation of an Overland Route to the
Pacific across British America, he will have rendered
his country very valuable service. PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
The favourable reception and rapid sale of the First
Edition of this Work, so gratifying to the Authors,
must be their apology for sending forth a Second
with but little alteration. With the exception of
the correction of a few trifling inaccuracies, and
the insertion of some additional information relating
to the Eed Eiver Settlement, the present Edition is
little more than a reprint of the former one. For
the farther details, contained in the Appendix, the
Authors are indebted to the kindness of Mr. Dallas,
the Grovernor of Eupert's Land, to whom they beg
to tender their best thanks for the assistance he has
rendered them.
Sept. 7th, 1865. iiibo£ PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
The following pages contain the narrative of an
Expedition across the Continent of North America,
through the Hudson's Bay Territories, into British
Columbia, by one of the northern passes in the
Eocky Mountains. The expedition was undertaken
with the design of discovering the most direct route
through British territory to the gold regions of
Cariboo, and exploring the unknown country on the
western flank of the Rocky Mountains, in the neighbourhood of the sources of the north branch of the
Thompson Eiver.
The Authors have been anxious to give a faithful
account of their travels and adventures amongst the
prairies, forests, and mountains of the Far West, and
have studiously endeavoured to preserve the greatest
accuracy in describing countries previously little
known.    But one of the principal objects they have ri
had in view has been to draw attention to the
vast importance of establishing a highway from the
Atlantic to the Pacific through the British possessions ; not only as establishing a connection between
the different English colonies in North America,
but also as affording a means of more rapid and
direct communication with China and Japan.
Another advantage which would follow—no less
important than the preceding — would be the
opening out and colonisation of the magnificent
regions of the Red Eiver and Saskatchewan, where
65,000 square miles of a country of unsurpassed
fertility, and abounding in mineral wealth, lies
isolated from the world, neglected, almost unknown,
although destined, at no distant period perhaps, to
become one of the most valuable possessions of
the British Crown.
The idea of a route across the northern part
of the Continent is not a new one. The project
was entertained by the early French settlers in
Canada, and led to the discovery of the Rocky
Mountains. It has since been revived and ably
advocated by Professor Hind and others, hitherto
without success.
The favourite scheme of geographers in this
country for the last three centuries has been the PREFACE   TO   THE   FIRST   EDITION.
discovery of a North-West Passage by sea, as the
shortest route to the rich countries of the East.
The discovery has been made, but in a commercial
point of view it has proved valueless. We have
attempted to show that the original idea of the
French Canadians was the right one, and that the
trae North-West Passage is by land, along the
fertile belt of the Saskatchewan, leading: through
British Columbia to the splendid harbour of Esquimalt, and the great coal-fields of Yancouver Island,
which offer every advantage for the protection and
supply of a merchant fleet trading thence to India,
China, and Japan.
The Illustrations of this Work are taken almost
entirely from photographs and sketches taken on the
spot, and will, it is hoped, possess a certain value
and interest, as depicting scenes never before drawn
by any pencil, and many of which had never previously been visited by any white man, some of them
not even by an Indian. Our most cordial thanks are
due to Mr. R. P. Leitch, and Messrs. Cooper and
Linton, for the admirable manner in which they
have been executed; and to Mr. Arrowsmith, for the
great care and labour he has bestowed on working
out the geography of a district heretofore so imperfectly known.     We  also beg to acknowledge the XXIV
very great obligations under which we lie to Sir
James Douglas, late Governor of British Columbia
and Vancouver Island; Mr. Donald Fraser, of
Victoria; and Mr. McKay, of Kamloops, for much
valuable information concerning the two colonies,
and who, with many others, showed us the greatest
kindness during our stay in those countries.
4, G-rosvenor Square,
Jv/ne 1st, 1865. THE
Sail for Quebec—A Rough. Voyage—Our Fellow-Passengers—The
Wreck—Off the Banks of Newfoundland—Quebec—Up the St.
Lawrence—Niagara,—The Captain and the Major—Westward
Again—Sleeping Oars—The Red Indian—Steaming up the Mis-
sisippi—Lake Pippin—Indian Legend—St. Paul, Minnesota—
The Great Pacific Railroad—Travelling by American' Stage-
Wagon—The Country—Our Dog Rover—The Massacre of the
Settlers by the Sioux—Culpability of the "United States Government—The Prairie—Shooting by the Way—Reach Georgetown.
On the 19th of June, 1862, we embarked in the
screw-steamer Anglo-Saxon, bound from Liverpool to
Quebec. The day was dull and murky; and as the
tender left the landing-stage, a drizzling rain began to
fall. This served as an additional damper to our
spirits, already sufficiently low at the prospect of
leaving home for a long and indefinite period. Unpleasant anticipations of ennui, and still more bodily
suffering, had risen up within the hearts of both of
us—for we agree in detesting a sea-voyage, although
not willing to go the length of endorsing the confession  wrung   from   that   light  of   the  American
B 2
Church—the Eev. Henry Ward Beecher—by the
agonies of sea-sickness, that | those whom Gfod hateth
he sendeth to sea."
We had a very rough passage, fighting against
head winds nearly all the way; but rapidly getting
our sea-legs, we suffered little from ennui, being
diverted by our observations on a somewhat curious
collection of fellow-passengers. Conspicuous amongst
them were two Eomish bishops of Canadian sees, on
their return from Eome, where they had assisted at
the canonisation of the Japanese martyr^, and each
gloried in the possession of a handsome silver medal,
presented to them by his Holiness the Pope for their
eminent services on that occasion. These two dignitaries presented a striking contrast. One, very tall
and emaciated, was the very picture of an ascetic,
and passed the greater part of his time in the cabin
reading his missal and holy books. His inner man
he satisfied by a spare diet of soup and fish, gratifying to the full no carnal appetite except that for snuff,
which he took in prodigious quantity, and avoiding
all.society except that of his brother bishop. The
latter, "a round, fat, oily man of Grod," of genial
temper, and sociable disposition, despised not the good
things of this world, and greatly affected a huge
meerschaum pipe, from which he blew a cloud with
great complacency. As an antidote to them, we
had an old lady afflicted with Papophobia, who
caused us much amusement by inveighing bitterly
against the culpable weakness of which Her Majesty
the Queen had been guilty, in accepting the present THE  DEMORALISED   COLONEL.
of a side-board from Pius IX. A Canadian colonel,
dignified, majestic, and speaking as with authority,
discoursed political wisdom to an admiring and
obsequious audience. He lorded it over our little
society for a brief season, and then suddenly disappeared. Awful groans and noises, significant of
sickness and suffering, were heard proceeding from
his* cabin. But, at last, one day when the weather
had moderated a little, we discovered the colonel once
more on deck, but, alas ! how changed. His white
hat, formerly so trim, was now frightfully battered;
his cravat negligently tied; his whole dress slovenly.
He sat with his head between his hands, dejected,
silent, and forlorn.
The purser, a jolly Irishman, came up at the
moment, and cried, " Holloa, colonel! on deck ? Glad
to see you all right again."
|f All right, sir! " cried the colonel, fiercely; " all
right, sir ? I'm not all right. I'm frightfully ill, sir!
I've suffered the tortures of the—condemned; horrible
beyond expression; but it's not the pain I complain
of; that, sir, a soldier like myself knows how to
endure. But I'm thoroughly ashamed of myself, and
shall never hold up my head again! "
I My dear sir," said the purser, soothingly, with a
sly wink at us, | what on earth have you been doing ?
There is nothing, surely, in sea-sickness to be ashamed
II tell you, sir," said the colonel, passionately,
" that it's most demoralising ! Think of a man of my
years, and of my standing  and  position, lying for 4 THE   NORTH-WEST   PASSAGE   BY   LAND.
hours prone on the floor, wjith his head over a basin,
making a disgusting beast of himself in the face of
the company! I've lost my self-respect, sir; and I
shall never be able to hold up my head amongst my
fellow-men again!"
As he finished speaking, he again dropped his
head between his hands, and thus did not observe the
malicious smile on the purser's face, or notice the suppressed laughter of the circle of listeners attracted
round him by the violence of his language.
The young lady of our society—for we had but
one—was remarkable for her solitary habits and pensive taciturnity. When we arrived at Quebec, however, a most extraordinary change came over her;
and we watched her in amazement, as she darted
restlessly up and down the landing-stage in a state of
the greatest agitation, evidently looking for some one •
who could not be found. In vain she searched, and
at last rushed off to the telegraph office in a state of
frantic excitement. Later the same dav we met her
at the hotel, seated by the side of a young gentleman,
and as placid as ever. It turned out that she had
come over to be married, but her lover had arrived too
late to meet her; he, however, had at last made his
appearance, and honourably fulfilled his engagement.
A wild Irishman, continually roaring with laughter,
a Northern American, rabid against " rebels," and
twenty others, made up our list of cabin passengers.
Out of these we beg to introduce Mr. Treemiss, a
gentleman going out, like ourselves, to hunt buffalo on
the plains, and equally enthusiastic in his anticipations OFF  THE      BANKS.
of a glorious life in the far West. We soon struck
up an intimate acquaintance, and agreed to travel in
company as far as might be agreeable to the plans of
Before we reached the banks of Newfoundland
we fell in with numerous evidences of a recent storm;
a quantity of broken spars floated past, and a dismasted schooner, battered and deserted by her crew.
On her stern was the name Ruby, and the stumps of
her masts bore the marks of having been recently
cut away.
Off the I banks " we encountered a fog so dense
that we could not see twenty yards ahead. The steam
whistle was blown every five minutes, and the lead
kept constantly going. The ship crashed through
broken ice, and we all strained our eyes for the first
sight of some iceberg looming through the mist. A
steamer passed close to us, her proximity being betrayed only by the scream of her whistle. Horrible
stories of ships lost with all hands on board, from
running against an iceberg, or on the rock-bound
coast, became the favourite topic of conversation
amongst the passengers; the captain looked anxious,
and every one uncomfortable.
After two days, however, we emerged in safety
from the raw, chilling fogs into clear sunlight at the
mouth of the St. Lawrence, and on the 2nd of July
steamed up the river to Quebec. The city of Quebec,
with its bright white houses, picked out with green,
clinging to the sides of a commanding bluff, which
appears to rise up in the middle of the great river so 6
as to bar all passage, has a striking beauty beyond
comparison. We stayed but to see the glorious
plains of Abraham, and then hastened up the St.
Lawrence by Montreal, through the lovely scenery of
the " Thousand Islands," and across Lake Ontario to
We determined to spend a day at Niagara, and,
taking another steamer here, passed over to Lewiston,
on the American side of the lake, at the mouth
of the Niagara Eiver. From Lewiston a railway
runs to within a mile of the Falls, following the
edge of the precipitous cliffs on the east side of the
narrow ravine, through which the river rushes to
pour itself into Lake Ontario. Grlad to escape the
eternal clanging of the engine bell warning people to
get out of the way as the train steamed along the
streets, we walked across the suspension bridge to the
Canadian side of the river, and forward to the Clifton
House. We heard the roar of the cataract soon
after leaving the station, and caught glimpses of it
from time to time along the road; but at last we
came out into the open, near the hotel, and saw, in
fall view before us, the American wonder of the
world. Our first impression was certainly one of
disappointment. Hearing so much from earliest
childhood of the great Falls of Niagara, one forms a
most exaggerated conception of their magnitude and
grandeur. But the scene rapidly began to exercise a
charm over us, and as we stood on the edge of the
Horseshoe Fall, on the very brink of the precipice
over which the vast flood hurls itself, we confessed the sublimity of the spectacle. We returned continually to gaze on it, more and more fascinated, and
in .the bright clear moonlight of a beautiful summer's
night, viewed the grand cataract at its loveliest time.
But newer subjects before us happily forbid any
foolish attempt on our part to describe what so many
have tried, but never succeeded, in painting either
with  pen or  pencil.    On the Lewiston  steamer we
had  made  the  acquaintance  of   Captain   ,   or,
more properly speaking, he had made ours. The
gallant captain was rather extensively I got up," his
face smooth shaven, with the exception of the upper
lip, which was graced with a light, silky moustache. He wore a white hat, cocked knowingly on
one side, and sported an elegant walking cane; the
blandest of smiles perpetually beamed on his countenance, and he accosted us in the most affable and
insinuating manner, with some remark about the heat of
the weather. Dexterously improving the opening thus
made, he placed himself in a few minutes on the most
intimate terms. Regretting exceedingly that he had
not a card, he drew our attention to the silver mounting on his cane, whereon was engraved,   | Captain
 , of ."    Without further inquiry as to who
we were, he begged us to promise to come over and
stay with him at his nice little place, and we should have
some capital "cock shooting" next winter. The polite
captain then insisted on treating us to mint-juleps at
the bar, and there introduced us with great ceremony
to a tall, angular man, as Major So-and-so, of the
Canadian Rifles. 8
The major was attired in a very seedy military
undress suit, too small and too short for him, and he
carried, like Bardolph, a "lantern in the poop,"
which shone distinct from the more lurid and darker
redness of the rest of his universally inflamed features.
His manner was rather misty, yet solemn and grand
withal, and he comported himself with so much
dignity, that far was it from us to smile at his peculiar personal appearance. We all three bowed and
shook hands with him with an urbanity almost equal
to that of our friend the captain.
Both our new acquaintances discovered that they
were going to the same place as ourselves, and
favoured us with their society assiduously until we
reached the Clifton House.
After viewing the Falls, we had dinner ; and then
the captain and major entertained us with extraordinary stories.
The former related how he had lived at the Cape
under Sir Harry Smith, ridden one hundred and fifty
miles on the same horse in twenty-four hours, and
various other feats, while the "major" obscurely
hinted that he owed his present important command on
the frontier to the necessity felt by the British Grovern-
ment that a man of known courage and talent should
be responsible during the crisis of the Trent affair.
We returned to Toronto the next day, and lost no
time in proceeding on our way to Red River, travelling as fast as possible by railway through Detroit
and Chicago to La Crosse, in Wisconsin, on the banks
ofthe Missisippi. SLEEPING-CARS.
We found the sleeping-cars a wonderful advantage in our long journeys, and generally travelled
by night. A " sleeping-car" is like an ordinary
railway carriage, with a passage down the centre, after
the American fashion, and on each side two tiers of
berths, like those of a ship. You go " on board,"
turn in minus coat and boots, go quietly to sleep, and
are awakened in the morning by the attendant nigger,
in time to get out at your destination. You have had
a good night's rest, find your boots ready blacked, and
washing apparatus at one end of the car, and have the
satisfaction of getting over two hundred or three hundred miles of a wearisome journey almost without
knowing it. The part of the car appropriated to
ladies is screened off from the gentlemen's compartment by a curtain; but on one occasion, there being
but two vacant berths in the latter, Treemiss was, by
special favour, admitted to the ladies' quarter, where
ordinarily only married gentlemen are allowed—two
ladies and a gentleman kindly squeezing into one
large berth to accommodate him !
At one of the small stations in Wisconsin we met
the first Red Indian we had seen in native dress. He
wore leather shirt, leggings, and moccasins, a blanket
thrown over his shoulders, and his bold-featured,
handsome face was adorned with paint. He was
leaning against a tree, smoking his pipe with great
dignity, not deigning to move or betray the slightest
interest as the train went past him. We could not
help reflecting—as, perhaps, he was doing—with
something of sadness upon the changes which   had 10
taken place since his ancestors were lords of the
soil, hearing of the white men's devices as a strange
thing, from the stories of their greatest travellers',
or some half-breed trapper who might occasionally
visit them. And we could well imagine the disgust
of these sons of silence and stealth at the noisy trains
which rush through the forests, and the steamers
which dart along lakes and rivers, once the favourite
haunt of game, now driven far away. How bitterly
in their hearts they must curse that steady, unfaltering, inevitable advance of the great army of whites,
recruited from every corner of the earth, spreading
over the land like locusts—too strong to resist, too
cruel and unscrupulous to mingle with them in peace
and friendship!
At La Crosse we took steamer up. the Missisippi
—in the Indian language, the " Great River," but
here a stream not more than 120 yards in width—for
St. Paul, in Minnesota. The river was very low, and
the steamer—a flat-bottomed, stern-wheel boat, drawing only a few inches of water—frequently stuck fast
on the sand bars, giving us an opportunity of seeing
how an American river-boat gets over shallows. Two
or three men were immediately sent overboard, to fix
a large pole. At the top was a pulley, and through
this a stout rope was run, one end" of which was
attached to a cable passed under the boat, the other
to her capstan. The latter was then manned, the
vessel fairly lifted up, and the stern wheel being put
in motion at the same time, she swung over the shoal
into tteep water. The   scenery  was  very pretty,   the  river  flowing in several channels round wooded islets;   along
the banks were fine rounded hills, some heavily
timbered, others bare and green. When we reached
Lake Pippin, an expansion of the Missisippi, some
seven or eight miles long, and perhaps a mile in
width, we found a most delightful change from the
sultry heat we had experienced when shut up in the
narrow channel. Here the breeze blew freshly over
the water, fish splashed about on every side, and
could be seen from the boat, and we were in the
midst of a beautiful landscape. Hills and woods surround the lake ; and, about half way, a lofty cliff,
called the " Maiden's Rock," stands out with bold
face into the water. It has received its name from an
old legend that an Indian maiden, preferring death to
a hated suitor forced upon her by her relatives, leaped
from the top, and was drowned in the lake below.
Beyond Lake Pippin the river became more shallow
and difficult, and we were so continually delayed by
running aground that we did not reach St. Paul until
several hours after dark.
St. Paul, the chief city of the state of Minnesota,
is the great border town ofthe North Western States.
Beyond, collections of houses called cities dwindle
down to even a single hut—an outpost in the wilderness. One of these which we passed on the road,
a solitary house, uninhabited, rejoiced in the name of
I Breckenridge City ; " and another, " Salem City,"
was little better.
From St. Paul a railway runs westward to St.
I ill!!
; ill
Anthony, six miles distant—the commencement of
the Great Pacific Railroad, projected to run across to
California, and already laid out far on to the plains.
From St. Anthony a " stage " wagon runs through
the out-settlements of Minnesota as far as Georgetown,
on the Red River. There we expected to find a
steamer which.runs fortnightly to Fort Garry, in the
Red River Settlement. The " stage," a mere covered
spring-wagon, was crowded and heavily laden. Inside
were eight full-grown passengers and four children ;
outside six, in addition to the driver; on the roof an
enormous quantity of luggage"; and on the top of all.
were chained two huge dogs—a bloodhound and Newfoundland—belonging to Treemiss. Milton and Tree-
miss were fortunate enough to secure outside seats,
where, although cramped and uncomfortable, they could
still breathe the free air of heaven; but Cheadle was
one of the unfortunate " insides," and suffered tortures
during the first day's journey. The day was frightfully hot, and the passengers were packed so tightly,
that it was only by the consent and assistance of his
next neighbour that he could free an arm to wipe the
perspiration from his agonised countenance. Mosquitoes swarmed and feasted with impunity on the helpless crowd, irritating the four wretched babies into an
incessant squalling, which the persevering singing of
their German mothers about Fatherland was quite ineffectual to assuage. Two female German Yankees
kept up an incessant clack, " guessing" that the
" Young Napoleon" would soon wipe out Jeff. Davis;
in which opinion two male friends of the same race OUR   DOG   ROVER.
perfectly agreed. The dogs kept tumbling off their
slippery perch, and hung dangling by their chains at
either side, half strangled, until hauled back again
with the help of a I leg up " from the people inside.
This seventy mile drive to St. Cloud, where we stayed
the first night, was the most disagreeable experience
we had. There six of the passengers left us, but the
two German women, with the four babies they owned
between them, still remained. The babies were much
more irritable than ever the next day, and their limbs
and faces, red and swollen from the effects of mosquito
bites, showed what good cause they had for their constant wailings.
The country rapidly became more open and level
—a succession of prairies, dotted with copses of wild
poplar and scrub oak. The land appeared exceedingly
fertile, and the horses and draught oxen most
astonishingly fat. Sixty-five miles of similar country
brought us, on the second night after leaving St.
Paul, to the little settlement of Sauk Centre. As it
still wanted half an hour to sundown when we
arrived, we took our guns and strolled down to some
marshes close at hand in search of ducks, but were
obliged to return empty-handed, for although we shot
several we could not get them out of the water without a dog, the mosquitoes being so rampant, that
none of us felt inclined to strip and go in for them.
We were very much disappointed, for we had set our
hearts on having some for supper, as a relief to the
eternal salt pork of wayside houses in the far West.
On our return to the house where we were staying, 14
we bewailed our ill-luck to our host, who remarked
that had he known we were going out shooting, he
would have lent us his own dog, a capital retriever.
He introduced us forthwith to "Rover," a dapper-
looking, smooth-haired dog, in colour and make like a
black and tan terrier, but the size of a beagle. When
it is known from the sequel of this history how im.r
portant a person Rover became, how faithfully he
served us, how many meals he provided for us, and
the endless amusements his various accomplishments
afforded both -to ourselves and the Indians we met
with, we shall perhaps be forgiven for describing
him with such particularity. Amongst our Indian
friends he became as much beloved as he was hated
by their dogs. These wolf-like animals he soon
taught to fear and respect him by his courageous and
dignified conduct; for although small of stature, he
possessed indomitable pluck, and had a method of
fighting quite opposed to their ideas and experience.
Their manner was to show their teeth, rush in and
snap, and then retreat; while he went in and grappled
with his adversary in so determined a manner, that
the biggest of them invariably turned tail before his
vigorous onset. Yet Rover was by no means a quarrelsome dog. He walked about amongst the snarling
curs with tail erect, as if not noticing their presence ;
and probably to this fearless demeanour he owed much
of his immunity from attack. He appeared so exactly
suited for the work we required, and so gained our
hearts by his cleverness and docility, that next morning we made an offer of twenty-five dollars for him. MASSACRES   BY   THE   SIOUX.
The man hesitated, said he was very unwilling to
part with him, and, indeed, he thought his wife and
sister would, not hear of it. If, however, they could
be brought to consent, he thought he could not afford
to refuse so good an offer, for he was very short of
He went out to sound the two women on the
subject, and they presently rushed into the room; one
of them caught up Rover in her arms, and, both bursting into floods of tears, vehemently declared nothing
would induce them to part with their favourite. We
were fairly vanquished by such a scene, and slunk
away, feeling quite guilty at having proposed to
deprive these poor lonely women of pne of the few
creatures they had to lavish their wealth of feminine
affection upon.
As we were on the point of starting, however, the
man came up, leading poor Rover by a string, and
begged us to take him, as he had at last persuaded
the women to let him go. We' demurred, but he
urged it so strongly that we at length swallowed our
scruples, and paid the money. As we drove off, the
man said good-bye to him, as if parting with his
dearest friend, and gave us many injunctions to " be
kind to the little fellow." Xhis we most solemnly
promised to do, and it is almost needless to state,
we faithfully kept our word.
A fortnight afterwards these kindly people—in
common with nearly all the whites in that part of
Minnesota—suffered a horrible death at the hands of
the invading Sioux.     This fearful massacre, accom- 1
panied as it was by all the brutalities of savage
warfare, was certainly accounted for, if not excused,
or even justified, by the great provocation they had
received. The carelessness and injustice of the
American Governmentj and the atrocities committed
by the troops sent out for the protection of the
frontier, exasperated the native tribes beyond control.
Several thousand Indians—men, women, and children
—assembled at Forts Snelling and Abercrombie, at
a time appointed by the Government themselves, to
receive the yearly subsidy guaranteed to them in payment for lands ceded to the United States. Year
after year, either through the neglect of the officials
at Washington, or the carelessness or dishonesty of
their agents, the Indians were detained there for
weeks, waiting to receive what was due to them.
Able to bring but scanty provision with them—
enough only for a few days—and far removed from
the buffalo, their only means of subsistence, they
were kept there in 1862 for nearly six weeks in
fruitless expectation. Can it be a matter of surprise that, having been treated year by year in
the same contemptuous manner, starving and destitute, the Sioux should have risen to avenge themselves on a race hated by all the Indians of the
Unconscious of the dangers gathering round, and
little suspecting the dreadful scenes so shortly to be
enacted in this region, we drove merrily along in
the stage. As we went farther west, the prairies
became   more   extensive,   timber   more   scarce,   and GEORGETOWN.
human habitations more rare. Prairie chickens and
ducks were plentiful along the road, and the driver
obligingly pulled up to allow us to have a shot
whenever a chance occurred. On the third day we
struck Red River, and stayed the night at Fort Aber-
crombie; and the following day, the 18th of July,
arrived at Georgetown. The stage did not run
beyond this point, and the steamer, by which we
intended to proceed to Fort Garry, was not expected
to come in for several days, so that we had every
prospect of seeing more of Georgetown than we
cared for. CHAPTER II.
Georgetown—Minnesota Volunteers—The Successful Hunters—An
Indian Hag—Resolve to go to Fort Garry in Canoes—Rumours
of a Sioux Outbreak—The Half-breeds reflise to Accompany us—
Prepare to Start Alone—Our Canoes and Equipment—A Sioux
War Party—The Half-breed's Story—Down Red River—Strange
Sights and Sounds—Our First Night Out—Effects of the Sun and
Mosquitoes—Milton Disabled—Monotony of the Scenery—Leaky
Canoes—Travelling by Night—The | Oven" Camp—Hunting
Geese in Canoes—Meet the Steamer—Milton's Narrow Escape—
Treemiss and Cheadle follow Suit—Carried Down the Rapids—
"Vain Attempts to Ascend—A Hard Struggle—On Board at last
—Start once more—Delays—Try a Night Voyage Again—The
" Riband Storm"—| In Thunder, Lightning, and in Rain"—
Fearful Phenomena—Our Miserable Plight—No Escape—Steering in Utter Darkness—Snags and Rocks—A Long Night's
Watching—No Fire—A Drying Day—Another Terrible Storm—
And Another—Camp of Disasters—Leave it at last—Marks of the
Fury of the Storms—Provisions at an End—Fishing for Gold-
Eyes—A Day's Fast—Slaughter of Wild-Fowl—Our Voracity—
A Pleasant Awakening—Caught up by the Steamer—Pembina
—Fort Garry—La Ronde—We go under Canvas.
i! Ill
The little settlement of Georgetown is placed under
cover of the belt of timber which clothes the banks of
the river, while to the south and east endless prairie
stretches away to the horizon. The place is merely
a trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company, round
which a few straggling settlers have established themselves. A company of Minnesota Volunteers was
stationed here for the protection of the settlement
against the Sioux.    They were principally Irish or AN   INDIAN   HAG.
German Yankees; i.e., emigrants, out-Heroding Herod
in Yankeeism, yet betraying their origin plainly
enough. These heroes, slovenly and unsoldier-like,
yet fall of swagger and braggadocio now, when the
Sioux advanced to the attack on Fort Abercrombie, a
few weeks afterwards, took refuge under beds, and
hid in holes and corners, from whence they had
to be dragged by their officers, who drew them out
to face the enemy by putting revolvers to their
On the day of our arrival two half-breeds came
in from a hunting expedition in which they had been
very successful. They had found a band of twenty
wapiti, out of which they killed four, desisting, according to their own account, from shooting more from
a reluctance to waste life and provision !—a piece of
consideration perfectly incomprehensible in a half-
breed or Indian. We went down to their camp by
the river, where they were living in an Indian
"lodge," or tent of skins stretched over a cone of
poles. Squatted in front of it, engaged in cutting
the meat for drying, was the most hideous old hag
ever seen. Lean, dried-up, and withered, her parchment skin was seamed and wrinkled into folds and
deep furrows, her eyes were bleared and blinking,
and her long, iron-grey hair, matted and unkempt,
hung over her shoulders. She kept constantly
muttering, and showing her toothless gums, as she
clawed the flesh before her with long, bony, unwashed
fingers, breaking out occasionally into wild, angry
exclamations, as she struck at the skeleton dogs which
m 20
attempted to steal some of the delicate morsels strewn
Finding upon inquiry that, in consequence of the
lowness of the water, it was very uncertain when the
steamer would arrive, if she ever reached Georgetown
at all, we decided to make the journey to Fort Garry
in canoes. The distance is above five hundred miles
by the river, which runs through a wild and unsettled
country, inhabited only by wandering tribes of Sioux,
Chippeways, and Assiniboines. After much bargaining, we managed to obtain two birch-bark canoes from
some half-breeds. One of them was full of bullet
holes, having been formerly the property of some
Assiniboines, who were waylaid by a war party of
Sioux whilst descending the river the previous
summer, and mercilessly shot down from the bank,
where their enemies lay in ambush. The other was
battered and leaky, and both required a great deal of
patching and caulking before they were rendered
anything like water-tight. We endeavoured to engage
a guide, half-breed or Indian, but none would go with
us. The truth was that rumours were afloat of the
intended outbreak of the Sioux, and these cowards
were afraid. One man, indeed—a tall, savage-looking
Iroquois, just recovering from the effects of a week's
debauch on corn whisky—expressed his readiness to go
with us, but his demands were so exorbitant, that we
refused them at once. We offered him one-half what
he had asked, and he went off to consult his squaw,
promising to give us an answer next day.
We did not take very large supplies of provisions RUMOURS   OF WAR.
with us, as we expected not to be more than eight or
ten days on our voyage, and knew that we should
meet with plenty of ducks along the river. We
therefore contented ourselves with twenty pounds of
flour, and the same of pemmican, with about half as
much salt pork, some grease, tinder, and matches, a
small quantity of tea, salt, and tobacco, and plenty of
ammunition. A tin kettle and frying-pan, some
blankets and a waterproof sheet, a small axe, and a
gun and hunting-knife apiece, made up the rest of
our equipment.
Whilst we were completing our preparations,
another half-breed came in, in a great state of excitement, with the news that a war party of Sioux were
lurking in the neighbourhood. He had been out
looking for elk, when he suddenly observed several
Indians skulking in the brushwood; from their paint
and equipment he knew them to be Sioux on the warpath. They did not appear to have perceived him,
and he turned and fled, escaping to the settlement
unpursued. We did not place much reliance on his
story, or the various reports we had heard, and set out
the next day alone. How fearfully true these rumours
of the hostility of the Sioux, which we treated so
lightly at the time, turned out to be, is already known
to the reader. As we got ready to start, the Iroquois
sat on the bank, smoking sullenly, and showing
neither by word nor sign any intention of accepting
our offer of the previous day. Milton and Rover
occupied the smaller canoe, while Treemiss and Cheadle
At first we experienced
he larger one. 99
some little difficulty in steering, and were rather
awkward in the management of a paddle. A birch-
bark canoe sits so lightly on the water, that a puff
of wind drives it about like a walnut-shell; and
with the wind dead ahead, paddling is very slow
and laborious. But we got on famously after a
short time, Milton being an old hand at the work,
and the others accustomed to light and crank craft on
the Isis and the Cam. We glided along pleasantly
enough, lazily paddling or floating quietly down the
sluggish stream. The day was hot and bright, and
we courted the grateful shade of the trees which
overhung the bank on either side. The stillness of
the woods was broken by the dip of our paddles, the
occasional splash of a fish, or the cry of various
birds. The squirrel played and chirruped among
the branches of the trees, the spotted woodpecker
tapped on the hollow trunk, while, perched high on
the topmost bough of some withered giant of the
forest, the eagle and the hawk uttered their harsh and
discordant screams. Here and there along the banks
swarms of black and golden orioles clustered on the
bushes, the gaily-plumed kingfisher flitted past, ducks
and geese floated on the water, and the long-tailed
American pigeon darted like an arrow high over the
tree-tops. As night approached, a hundred owls
hooted round us; the whip-poor-will startled us with
its rapid, reiterated call; and the loon—the most
melancholy of birds—sent forth her wild lamentations from some adjoining lake. Thoroughly did
we  enjoy these  wild  scenes  and  sounds,   and the OUR   FIRST   CAMP.
-strange sensation of freedom and independence which
possessed us.
Having shot as many ducks as we required, we
put ashore at sundown, and drawing our canoes out
of the water into the bushes which fringed the river-
bank, safe from the eye of any wandering or hostile
Indian, we encamped for the night on the edge of the
prairie. It became quite dark before we had half
completed our preparations, and we were dreadfully
bothered, in our raw inexperience, to find dry wood for
the fire, and do the cooking. However, we managed
at last to pluck and split open the ducks into " spread-
eagles," roasting them on sticks, Indian fashion, and
these, with some tea and " dampers," or cakes of
unleavened bread, furnished a capital meal. We then
turned into our blankets, sub Jove—for we had no
tent;—but the tales we had heard of prowling Sioux
produced some effect, and a half-wakeful watchfulness
replaced our usual sound slumbers.
We Often recalled afterwards how one or other of
us suddenly sat up in bed and peered into the darkness at any unusual sound, or got up to investigate
the cause of the creakings and rustlings frequently
heard in the forest at night, but which might have
betrayed the stealthy approach of an Indian enemy.
Mosquitoes swarmed and added to our restlessness.
In the morning we all three presented an abnormal
appearance, Milton's arms being tremendously blistered, red, and swollen, from paddling with them
bare in the scorching sun; and Treemiss and Cheadle
exhibiting faces it was  impossible to  recognise, so 24
wofully were they changed by the swelling of mosquito bites.
Milton was quite unable to use a paddle for several
days, and his canoe was towed along by Treemiss and
Cheadle. This, of course, delayed us considerably,
and the delight we had experienced during the first
few days' journey gradually gave place to a desire for
Red River, flowing almost entirely through prairie
land, has hollowed out for itself a deep channel in the
level plains, the sloping sides of which are covered
with timber almost to the water's edge. The unvarying sameness of the river, and the limited prospect shut in by rising banks on either side, gave a
monotony to our daily journey; and the routine of
cooking, chopping, loading and unloading canoes,
paddling, and shooting, amusing enough at first, began
to grow rather tiresome.
The continual leaking of our rickety canoes
obliged us to pull up so frequently to empty them, and
often spend hours in attempting to stop the seams,
that we made very slow progress towards completing
the five hundred miles before us. We therefore
thoroughly overhauled them, and having succeeded in
-making them tolerably water-tight, resolved to make
-an extra stage, and travel all night. The weather was
beautifully fine, and, although there was no moon, we
were able to steer well enough by the clear starlight.
The night seemed to pass very slowly, and we
nodded wearily over our paddles before the first appearance of daylight gave us an excuse for landing, which we did at the first practicable place. The banks were
knee-deep in mud, but we were too tired and sleepy to
search further, and carried our things to drier ground
higher up, where a land-slip from a steep cliff had
formed a small level space a few yards square. The
face of the cliff was semicircular, and its aspect due
south; not a breath of air was stirring, and as we slept
with nothing to shade us from the fiery rays of the
mid-day sun, we awoke half baked. Some ducks
which we had killed the evening before were already
stinking and half putrid, and had to be thrown away
as unfit for food. We found the position unbearable,
and, reluctantly re-loading our canoes, took to the river
again, and paddled languidly along until evening.
This camp, which we called " The Oven," was by far
the warmest place we ever found, with the exception
of the town of Acapulco, in Mexico, which stands in
a very similar situation.
A week after we left Georgetown our provisions
fell short, for the pemmican proved worthless, and fell
to the lot of Rover, and we supplied ourselves entirely by shooting the wild-fowl, which were tolerably
plentiful. The young geese, although almost full-
grown and feathered, were not yet able to fly, but
afforded capital sport. When hotly pursued they
dived as we came near in the canoes, and, if too hardly
pushed, took to the shore. This was generally a fatal
mistake ; Milton immediately landed with Rover, who
quickly discovered them lying with merely their heads
hidden in the grass or bushes, and they were then
captured. 11
When engaged in this exciting  amusement one
O    O O
day, Milton went ahead down stream in chase of a
wounded bird, while Treemiss and Cheadle remained
behind to look after some others which had taken to
the land. The former was paddling away merrily after
his prey, when, at a sudden turn of the river, he came
upon the steamer warping up a shallow rapid. Eager
to get on board and taste the good things we had lately
lacked, he swept down the current alongside the overhanging deck of the steamer. The stream was rough
and very strong, and its force was increased by the
effect of the stern-wheel of the steamer in rapid motion
in the narrow channel. The canoe was drawn under
the projecting deck, but Milton clung tightly to it, and
the friendly hands of some of the crew seized and
hauled him and his canoe safely on board. The others
following shortly afterwards, and observing the steamer
in like manner, were equally delighted, and dashed
away down stream in order to get on board as quickly
as possible.
The stern-wheel was now stopped, but as they
neared the side it was suddenly put in motion again,
and the canoe carried at a fearful pace past the side of
the boat, sucked in by the whirlpool of the wheel. By
the most frantic exertions the two saved themselves
from being drawn under, but were borne down the
rapid about a quarter of a mile. Rover attempting a
similar feat, was carried down after them, struggling
vainly against the powerful current. Great was the
wrath of Cheadle and Treemiss against the captain for
the trick he had served them,  and they squabbled no little with each other also, as they vainly strove to
re-ascend the rapid. Three times they made the
attempt, but were as often swept back, and had to commence afresh. By paddling with all their might tliey
succeeded in getting within a hundred yards of the
steamer ; but at this point, where the stream narrowed
and shot with double force round a sharp turn in
the channel, the head of the canoe was swept round in
spite of all their efforts, and down they went again.
When they were on the eve of giving up in despair,
the other canoe appeared darting down towards them,
manned by two men whose masterly use of the paddle
proclaimed them to be old voyagers. Coming alongside, one of them exchanged places with Cheadle, and
thus, each having a skilful assistant, by dint of hugging the bank, and warily avoiding the strength of the
current, they easily reached the critical point for the
fourth time. Here again was a fierce struggle. Swept
back repeatedly for a few yards, but returning instantly
to the attack, they at last gained the side ofthe steamer.
The captain kindly stopped half an hour to allow us to
have a good dinner. Finding the steamer would probably be a week before she returned, we obtained a
fresh stock of flour and salt pork, and went on our
way again. Presently we found Rover, who had got
to land a long way down the stream, and took him on
board again.
After a few days' slow and monotonous voyaging,
being again frequently obliged to stop in order to repair our leaky craft, we decided to try anight journey
once more.    The night was clear and starlight, but in 28
the course of an hour or two ominous clouds began to
roll up from the west, and the. darkness increased.
We went on, however, hoping that there would be
no* storm. But before long, suddenly, as it seemed to
us, the darkness became complete; then, without previous warning, a dazzling flash of lightning lit up for
a moment the wild scene around us, and almost instantaneously a tremendous clap of thunder, an explosion
like the bursting of a magazine, caused us to stop
paddling, and sit silent and appalled. A fierce blast of
wind swept over the river, snapping great trees like
twigs on every side ; the rain poured down in floods,
and soaked us through and through; flash followed
flash in quick succession, with its accompanying roar
of thunder; whilst in the intervals between, a dim,
flickering light, faint and blue, like the flame of a
spirit lamp, or the I Will-o'-the-wisp," hovered over
the surface of the water, but failed to light up the
dense blackness of the night. With this came an
ominous hissing, like the blast of a steam pipe varying with the wind, now sounding near as the flame
approached, now more distant as it wandered away.
We were in the very focus of the storm; the whole
air was charged with electricity, and the changing
currents of the electric fluid, or the shifting winds,
lifted and played with our hair in passing. The smell
of ozone was so pungent that it fairly made us snort
again, and forced itself on our notice amongst the
other more fearful phenomena of the storm. We
made an attempt to land at once, but the darkness
was so intense that we cou d not see to avoid the THE       RIBAND   STORM.
snags and fallen timber which beset the steep, slippery
bank; and the force of the stream bumped us against
them in a manner which warned us to desist, if we
would avoid being swamped or knocking holes in the
paper sides of our frail craft. We had little chance
of escape in that case, for the river was deep, and it
would be almost impossible to clamber up the slippery
face of the bank, even if we succeeded in finding it,
through the utter darkness in which we were enveloped.
There wa's nothing else for it but to face it out till
daylight, and we therefore fastened the two canoes
together, and again gave ourselves up to the fury of
the storm. We had some difficulty in bringing the
two canoes alongside, but by calling out to one
another, and by the momentary glimpses obtained
during the flashes of lightning, we at last effected it.
Treemiss, crouching in the bows, kept a sharp lookout, while we, seated in the stern, steered by his
direction. As each flash illuminated the river before
us for an instant, he was able to discern the rocks
and snags ahead, and a vigorous stroke of our paddles
carried us clear during the interval of darkness.
After a short period of blind suspense, the next
flash showed us that we had avoided one danger to
discover another a few yards in front. Hour after
hour passed by, but the storm raged as furiously, and
the rain came down as fast as ever. We looked
anxiously for the first gleam of daylight, but the
night seemed as if it would never come to an end.
The canoes were gradually filling with water, which
had crept up nearly to our waists, and the gunwales II
• 111   I
r'l hi
were barely above the surface.    It became very doubtful whether they would float till daybreak.
The night air was raw and cold, and as we sat in
our involuntary hip-bath, with the rain beating upon
us, we shivered from head to foot; our teeth chattered,
and our hands became so benumbed that we could
scarcely grasp the paddles. But we dared not take a
moment's rest from our exciting work, in watching
and steering clear of the snags and rocks, although we
were almost tempted to give up, and resign ourselves
to chance.
Never will any of us forget the misery of that
night, or the intense feeling of relief we experienced
when we first observed rather a lessening of the
darkness than any positive appearance of light.
Shortly before this, the storm began sensibly to abate j
but the rain poured down as fast as ever when we
hastily landed in the grey morning on a muddy bank,-
the first practicable place we came to. Drawing our
canoes high on shore, that they might not be swept
off by the rising flood, we wrapped ourselves in our
dripping blankets, and, utterly weary and worn out,
slept long and soundly. (^
(J) Mr. Ross, the author of the | Fur Hunters of the Far West," in
his " History ofthe Red River Settlement," makes mention of a storm
very similar to the one described above. In that instance the party
were camping out on the plains; three tents were struck by the
lightning, and two men, a woman, and two children killed. Several
horses and .dogs were also killed. The rain fell in such torrents,
that in the course of a few minutes the flood of water was so
great that two little children narrowly escaped being drowned. A
summer rarely passes in Red River without the loss of several lives
by lightning. CAMP   OF  DISASTERS.
When we awoke, the sun was already high,
shining brightly, and undimmed by a single cloud,
and our blankets were already half dry. We therefore turned out, spread our things on the bushes, and
made an attempt to light a fire. All our matches
and tinder were wet, and we wasted a long time
in fruitless endeavours to get a light by firing pieces
of dried rag out of a gun.     Whilst we were thus
engaged, another adventurer appeared, coming down
the river in a " dug-out," or small canoe hollowed out
of a log. We called out to him as he passed, and
he came ashore, and supplied us with some dry
matches. He had camped in a sheltered place before
sundown, on the preceding evening, and made everything secure from the rain before the storm came on.
We soon had a roaring fire, and spent the rest of the
day in drying our property and patching our canoes,
which we did caulk most effectually this time, by
plastering strips of our pocket-handkerchiefs over the
seams with pine-gum. But our misfortunes were yet
far from an end. We broke the axe and the handle
of the frying-pan, and were driven to cut our firewood with our hunting-knives, and manipulate the
cooking utensil by means of a cleft stick.
Our expectations of having a good night's rest
were disappointed. About two hours before daylight
we were awakened by the rumbling of distant thunder,
and immediately jumped up and made everything as
secure as possible. Before very long, a storm almost
as terrible as the one of the night before burst over
us.    Our waterproof sheets were too small to keep out 32
■ II ij
the deluge of water which flooded the ground, and
rushed into our blankets. But we managed to keep
our matches dry, and lighted a fire when the rain
ceased about noon. Nearly everything we had was
soaked again, and we had to spend the rest of the
day in drying clothes and blankets as before.
On the third day after our arrival in this camp of
disasters, just as we were nearly ready to start, we
were again visited by a terrible thunder-storm, and
once more reduced to our former wretched plight.
Again we set to work to wring our trousers, shirts,
and blankets, and clean our guns, sulkily enough,
almost despairing of ever getting away from the place
where we had encountered so many troubles.
But the fourth day brought no thunder-storm, nor
did we experience any bad weather for the rest of the
We paddled joyfully away from our dismal camp,
and along the river-side saw numerous marks of the
fury of the storm ; great trees blown down, or trunks
snapped short off, others torn and splintered by lightning.    The storm had evidently been what is called a
O f
" riband storm," which had followed the course of the
river pretty closely. The riband storm passes over
only a narrow line, but within these limits is exceedingly violent and destructive.
We had by this time finished all the provisions we
brought with us, and lived for some days on ducks
and fish.    A large pike, of some ten or twelve pounds,
served us for a couple of days, and we occasionally
'caught a quantity of gold-eyes, a fish resembling the dace. Having unfortunately broken our last hook, we
caught them by the contrivance of two needles fastened
together by passing the line through the eyes, and
threading them head first through the bait. One
night found us with nothing but a couple of gold-eyes
for supper, and we were roused very early next morning by the gnawing of our stomachs. We paddled
nearly the whole day in the hot sun, languid and
weary, and most fearfully hungry. Neither ducks
nor geese were to be seen, and the gold-eyes resisted
aU our allurements. We knew that we must be
at least 150 miles from our journey's end, and
our only hope of escaping semi-starvation seemed to
be the speedy arrival of the steamer. For be it remembered, that for the whole distance of 450 miles
between Georgetown and Pembina, sixty miles above
Fort Garry, there are no inhabitants except chance
parties of Indians. We were sorely tempted to stop
and rest during the heat of the day, but were urged
on by the hope of finding something edible before
Our perseverance was duly rewarded, for shortly
before sundown we came upon a flock of geese, and a
most exciting chase ensued. Faintness and languor
were forgotten, and we paddled furiously after them,
encouraged by the prospect of a substantial supper.
We killed three geese, and soon after met with a
number of ducks, out of which we shot seven. Before
we could find a place at which to camp, we killed two
more geese, and were well supplied for a couple of days.
We speedily lit a fire, plucked and spitted our game,
i' 34
,',,iiHi "»
and before they were half cooked, devoured them, far
more greedily than if they had been canvass-backs at
Delmonico's, or the Maison Doree. The total consumption at this memorable meal consisted of two
geese and four ducks; but then, as a Yankee would
express it, they were geese and ducks " straight"—
i.e., without anything else whatever. We slept very
soundly and happily that night, and at daybreak were
awakened by the puffing of the steamer ; and running
to the edge of the river, there, sure enough, was the
International. The captain had already caught sight
of us, and stopped alongside; and in a few minutes
we were on board, and engaged in discussing what
seemed to us a most delicious meal of salt pork, bread,
and molasses. We had been sixteen days since leaving
Georgetown, and were not sorry that our canoeing was
over. On the following day we reached Pembina, a
half-breed settlement on the boundary-line between
British and American territory; and the next, being
the 7th of August, arrived at Fort Garry. Directly
we came to anchor opposite the Fort, a number of
people came on board, principally half-breeds, and
amongst them La Ronde, who had been out with
Milton on his previous visit to the plains. He indulged in the most extravagant demonstrations of
delight at seeing him again, and expressed his readiness to go with him to the end of the world, if
He informed us that our arrival was expected.
Two men, who had left Georgetown after our departure
from that place, had arrived at Fort Garry some davs before by land, and from the unusually long time we
had been out, serious apprehensions were entertained
for our safety. Indeed, La Ronde had made preparations to start immediately in search of us, in case we
did not arrive by the steamer. We pitched our tent
near his house, in preference to the unsatisfactory accommodation of the so-called hotel, and had no
cause to regret having at once commenced life under
Fort Garry—Origin of the Red River Settlement—The First Settlers
—Their Sufferings—The North-Westers—The Grasshoppers—
The Blackbirds—The Flood—The Colony in 1862—King Company
—Farming at Red River—Fertility of the Soil—Isolated Position
of the Colony—Obstructive Policy of the Company—Their Just
Dealing and Kindness to the Indians—Necessity for a proper
Colonial Government—Value of the Country—French Canadians
and Half-breeds—Their Idleness and Frivolity—Hunters and
Voyageurs—Extraordinary Endurance—The English and Scotch
Settlers—The Spring and Fall Hunt—Our Life at Fort Garry—
Too late to Cross the Mountains before Winter—Our Plans—Men
—Horses—Bucephalus—Our Equipment—Leave Fort Garry—
The "Noce"—La Ronde's Last Carouse—Delightful Travelling—
A Night Alarm—Vital Deserts—Fort Ellice—Delays—Making-
Pemmican—Its Value to the Traveller—Swarms of Wild-Fowl—
Good Shooting—The Indian Summer—A Salt Lake Country—
Search for Water—A Horse's Instinct—South Saskatchewan—
Arrive at Carlton.
Fort Garry—by which we mean the building itself,
for the name of the Fort is frequently used for the
settlement generally—is situated on the north bank of
the Assiniboine river, a few hundred yards above its
junction with Red River. It consists of a square
enclosure of high stone walls, flanked at each angle by
round towers. Within this are several substantial
wooden buildings—the Governor's residence, the gaol,
and the storehouses for the Company's furs and goods.
The shop, where articles of every description are sold,
is thronged from morning till night by a crowd of RED   RIVER   SETTLEMENT.
settlers and half-breeds, who meet there to gossip and
treat each other to rum and brandy, as well as to
make their purchases.
The Red River settlement extends beyond Fort
Garry for about twenty miles to the northward along
the banks of Red River, and about fifty to the
westward along its tributary, the Assiniboine. The
wealthier inhabitants live in large, well-built wooden
houses, and the poorer half-breeds in rough log huts,
or even Indian " lodges." There are several Protestant churches, a Romish cathedral and nunnery, and
schools of various denominations.    The neighbouring
« O O
country is principally open, level prairie, the timber
being confined, -with a few exceptions, to the banks
of the streams. The settlement dates from the year
1811, when the Earl of Selkirk'purchased from the
Hudson's Bay Company and the Cree and Sauteux
Indians a large tract of land stretching along both
banks of the Red River and the Assiniboine. The
country was at that time inhabited only by wandering
tribes of Indians, and Visited occasionally by the
employes 5f the North-West and Hudson's Bay Companies, who had trading posts in the neighbourhood.
Vast herds of buffalo, now driven far to the west of
Red River, then ranged over its prairies, and frequented the rich feeding grounds of the present
State of Minnesota, as far as the Missisippi.
The first band of emigrants—Scotch families, sent
out under the auspices of Lord Selkirk—reached the
colony in 1812, and were reinforced by subsequent
detachments until the year 1815.     Never did the 38
pioneers of any new country suffer greater hardships
and discouragements than were experienced by these
unfortunate people during the first seven or eight
years after their arrival. They were attacked by the
Canadians and half-breeds in the employ of the
North-West Fur Company, who looked on them with
jealousy, as proteges of their rivals of the Hudson's
Bay Company, and were compelled to flee to Pembina.
Here they spent the winter living on the charity of
the Indians and half-breeds, and suffering the greatest
hardships from the scarcity of provisions, and want of
proper protection against the severity of the climate.
When they returned to the colony they were again
attacked by their persevering enemies, the North-
Westers, many of their number shot down, the
rest driven a second time into exile, and their homes
pillaged or burnt. They went back a third time, but
their attempts to live by the cultivation of the soil
were defeated by various misfortunes. Crops promising to repay them a hundred-fold were devoured
by swarms of grasshoppers, which appeared two years
in succession, and all they were able to save was a
small quantity of seed collected by the women in their
aprons. These insects came in such armies that they lay
in heaps on the ground; fires lighted out of doors were
speedily extinguished by them, the earth stank, and
the waters were polluted with the mass of decomposing bodies. The grasshoppers disappeared, and
have not since re-visited the colony; but they were
succeeded by myriads of blackbirds, which made
terrible havoc with the grain.    It was not until the year 1821, nine years after the first establishment of
the colony, that these unfortunate settlers succeeded
in reaping to any extent the fruits of their labours.
The North-West Company was at that time amalgamated with the Hudson's Bay Company, when
the colonists were left in peace, and have steadily,
though slowly, progressed up to the present time.
The only misfortune which has since occurred
to them was a disastrous flood, which swept away
horses, cattle, and corn-stacks, as well as several of the
inhabitants. (})
In 1862 we found them a very heterogeneous com-,
munity of about eight thousand souls—Englishmen,
Irishmen, Scotchmen, English Canadians, French
Canadians, Americans, English half-breeds, Canadian
half-breeds, and Indians. Nearly the whole population,
with the exception of a few storekeepers and freetraders, live by the Company, and the Company is
king. The Company makes the laws, buys the produce of the chase and of the farm, supplying in return
the other necessaries and the luxuries of life.
The farmers of Red River are wealthy in flocks,
and herds, and grain, more than sufficient for their own
wants, and live in comparative comfort. The soil is so
fertile, that wheat is raised year after year on the same
land, and yields fifty and sixty bushels to the acre,
without any manure being required.    The pasturage
(*) About the year 1835 the colony passed into the possession of
the Hudson's Bay Company, by purchase from Lord Selkirk's executors. This, however, made but little change in its condition, the
government having been exercised by the Company, for Lord Selkirk
and his executors, from the. first foundation ofthe colony.
M 40
is of the finest quality, and unlimited in extent. The
countless herds of buffalo which the land has supported
are sufficient evidence of this. But, shut out in this
distant comer of the earth from any communication
with the rest of the world—except an uncertain one
with the young State of Minnesota by steamer during
the summer, and with England by the Company's ship
which brings stores to York Factory, in Hudson's
Bay, once a year—the farmers find no market for
their produce.
It is the interest and policy of the Company to
discourage emigration, and keep the country as one
vast preserve for fur-bearing animals. The colony has
therefore been recruited almost entirely from their own
servants, who settle at Fort Garry on their retirement
from the service. It is also their interest to prevent
any trading except through themselves. In 1849
they attempted to enforce their monopoly of the fur
trade, and four half-breeds were arrested for infringement of the laws by buying furs from the Indians.
The half-breeds rose in arms, and a revolution was
imminent. The trial was not proceeded with, and
since that time they have been content to put every
obstacle in the way of free trade, by tabooing the
offender, and refusing to furnish him with anything
out of their stores. This obstructive policy keeps
up a continual ill-feeling amongst the independent
population of the settlement, who naturally enough
have little belief in the justice of laws framed, as they
imagine, for the protection ofthe Company rather than
for the general good. THE  LAST   GREAT  MONOPOLY.
The Hudson's Bay Company have, we believe,
exercised their almost absolute power well and justly,
in so far that they have administered with impartiality
the laws which they have made. They have gained
the affection and respect of the Indians by kindly
intercourse and just dealing. But the day of monopolies has gone by, and it seems strange that the
governing power of this colony should still be left in
the hands of a trading company, whose interests are
opposed to its development. It is time the anomaly
should cease, and a proper colonial government be
established whose efforts would be directed to the
opening out of a country so admirably adapted for
From Red River to the Rocky Mountains, along
the banks of the Assiniboine and the fertile belt of the
Saskatchewan, at least sixty millions of acres of the
richest soil lie ready for the farmer when he shall be
allowed to enter in and possess it. This glorious
country, capable of sustaining an enormous population,
lies utterly useless, except for the support of a few
Indians, and the enrichment of the shareholders of the
Last Great Monopoly.
Since the time of our visit the Company has
passed into other hands. The fact that the new
directors sent out Dr. Rae to survey a route for a
telegraph line through their territories into British
Columbia, redounds greatly to their credit, and induces
a hope that their policy will be more liberal than that
of their predecessors.
The   stationary   condition  of   the    Red   River"
colony is not, however, to be entirely attributed
to the despotic rule of the Hudson's Bay Company,
but in some measure also to the incorrigible idleness
and want of thrift exhibited by the French Canadians,
and their relatives, the French half-breeds, who form
the largest section of the inhabitants. The latter, the
most numerous of the two, are also the most unreliable
and unprofitable members of society. Desultory, fickle,
mercurial, and passionately fond of gaiety and finery,
they have an utter distaste for all useful labour, and
rarely succeed in raising themselves into any permanent
position of comfort and independence.
They are so admirably delineated by Mr. Ross, in
his " History of the Red River Settlement," that we
shall be excused for quoting his description. He says,
"The Canadians and half-breeds are promiscuously
settled together, and live in much the same way.
They are not, properly speaking, farmers, hunters, or
fishermen, but rather compound the three occupations together, and follow them in turn, as whim and
circumstances may dictate. They farm to-day, hunt
to-morrow, and fish the next day, without anything
like system, always at a nonplus, but never disconcerted.
They are great in adventuring, but small in performing,
and exceedingly plausible in their dealings. Still, they
are oftener useful to themselves than others, and get
' O
through the world as best they can, without much
forethought or reflection. Taking them all in all, they
are a happy people." They spend much of their time
in singing, dancing, and gossiping from house to
house, getting drunk when  the  opportunity  offers. They are a merry, light-hearted, obliging race, reck-
lessly generous, hospitable, and extravagant. Dancing
*oes on nearly every night throughout fhe winter,
and a wedding, or " noce" as it is called, is celebrated
by keeping open house, and relays of fiddlers are busily
employed playing for the dancers all through the night,
and often far on into the next day. By that time most
of the guests are incapacitated for saltatory exercise ;
for rum flows freely on these occasions, and when a
half-breed drinks he does it, as he says, comme ilfaut—
that is, until he obtains the desired happiness of complete intoxication. Vanity is another of their besetting
sins, and they will leave themselves and their families
without the common necessaries of life to become the
envied possessors of a handsome suit, a gun, a horse,
or a train of dogs, which may happen to attract their
fancy. Being intensely superstitious, and firm believers
in dreams, omens, and warnings, they are apt disciples
of the Romish faith. Completely under the influence
of the priests in most respects, and observing the outward forms of their religion with great regularity, they
are yet grossly immoral, often dishonest, and generally
hot trustworthy.
But as hunters, guides, and voyageurs they are unequalled. Of more powerful build, as a rule, than the
pure Indian, they combine his endurance and readiness
of resource with the greater muscular strength and
perseverance of the white man. Day after day, with
plenty of food, or none at all, whether pack on back,
trapping in the woods, treading out a path with snow-
shoes in the deep snow for the sleigh-dogs, or running
after them at a racing pace from morning to night,
when there is a well-beaten track, they will travel
fifty or sixty miles a day for a week together without
showing any sign of fatigue.
The other division of the inhabitants of the Red
River settlement, the English and Scotch, with the
better portion of their half-breed relations, form a
pleasing contrast to their French neighbours, being
thrifty, industrious, and many of them wealthy, in
their way. Some of the more Indian of the English
half-breeds are, indeed, little better than the Canadians,
but these seem to be the exception, for we met but
few who equalled the French half-breeds in idleness
and frivolity.
These different classes have each their own quarter
in the settlement. The English and Scotch inhabit
the west bank of Red River, north of the Assiniboine,
while the French Canadians dwell on the east bank
of Red River, and along the south bank of the Assiniboine. The Indian tribes who frequent Fort Garry
are the Sauteux and other branches of the great
Chippeway nation, and occasionally a few Crees, or
Assiniboines; the Sioux, the natural enemies of all the*
former tribes, sometimes visit the colony in time of
The two great events of the year at Red River are
the Spring and Fall Hunt. The buffalo still forms one
of the principal sources from which provisions are
obtained. Pemmican and dried meat, like bacon with
us, are staple articles of food in every establishment.
At these  seasons  the whole  able-bodied half-breed THE   SPRING  AND  FALL  HUNT.
population set out for the plains in a body, with their
horses and carts. Many of the farmers who do not
go themselves engage half-breeds to hunt for them.
These expeditions now assume very large proportions.
The number of hunters frequently exceeds 500, and
they are accompanied by the women and children,
to prepare the meat. The number of carts often
reaches 1,500 or 1,600. When the buffalo are found,
the horsemen are formed into line, and ride up as
close as possible before the herd takes flight at full
speed. Then the captain gives the word, and all
charge, as hard as horses can gallop, into the middle
of the herd. The fattest beasts are singled out and
shot down, and often more than 1,000 carcases strew
the ground.
We spent three weeks at Fort Garry very pleasantly.
The weather was beautifully bright and fine, without
a cloud in the sky, and although intensely hot, we
enjoyed our lazy life thoroughly for a time.
The Bishop, Dr. Anderson, showed us great kindness and hospitality, and Mr. M'Tavish, Governor of
" Assiniboia," as the district of Red River is called,
afforded us every assistance in fitting out our expedition. The only drawback to our comfort was the
presence of armies of mosquitoes and sand-flies, which
attacked us every night." In order to get any sleep, we
were compelled to smoke out our tent before turning
in.    This we effected by cutting a hole in the ground
%) o o
at one end, and lighting a small fire in the bottom,
which we covered up with sods and earth when it was
well alight.    The fire generally continued to smoulder
B 46
and smoke until morning, but it frequently acted so
effectually that we were awakened in the night by a
sense of suffocation, and were compelled to rush out
of the tent, to escape being stifled.
During our stay, Lord Dunmore, and a party of
officers of the Guards stationed at Montreal, arrived
on their way to hunt buffalo on the plains. Their
preparations were soon completed, and they started
before us for Fort Ellice, on the Assiniboine River.
We found, upon careful inquiry, that it was already
too late in the season to attempt crossing the mountains before winter. We therefore decided to travel
westward, to some convenient point on the river
Saskatchewan, and winter there, in readiness to go
forward across the mountains the following summer.
We also learnt that several parties of emigrants,
about 200 in all, chiefly Canadians, had passed
through in the early part of the summer, on their
way to British Columbia.
By the evening of the 22nd of August we had
completed our arrangements, ready to start on the
morrow. We had engaged four men—Louis La Ronde,
our head man and guide, Jean Baptiste Vital, Tous-
saint Voudrie, and Athanhaus Bruneau, all French
half-breeds. La Ronde had a great reputation as a
hunter and trapper, and was very proud of having been
out with Dr. Rae on some of his extraordinary j'ourneys.
He was a fine, tall, well-built fellow, with a handsome
face and figure, and was reported to be quite irresistible
amongst the fair sex.   Vital was a sinister-looking dog,
*-' O O7
thick-set and bull-necked, surly and ill-conditioned. He professed to have been out with Captain Palliser's
expedition, and was eternally boasting of his skill and
bravery in encounters with Indians, and the extraordinary number of grisly bears which he had slain.
Voudrie was a little, dark-complexioned fellow, very
loquacious and plausible, but making no pretensions
to  any great knowledge   of hunting  or travelling.
J      o o o O
Bruneau was the son of a Red River magistrate—a
tall, good-looking fellow, but very simple, and the butt
of all the others. Our conversation with the men was
carried on in Canadian French, for their knowledge
of English was very imperfect. Amongst themselves
they used a mixed patois of French and Indian, for a
long time perfectly incomprehensible to us.
We succeeded in obtaining very good saddle horses.
Treemiss bought the champion runner of the settlement, and Milton had an old favourite of his and
La Ronde's, the hero of a thousand runs. Cheadle's
horse was, however, the most extraordinary-looking
animal in the whole cavalcade. Bucephalus stood
about fifteen hands, was straight in the shoulder, one
of his legs was malformed and crooked, his head was
very large, and his tail very long. On the road he
was continually stumbling; and when Cheadle rode
him about the settlement, he was at first nearly
pitched over every gate and fence he came to. When
the horse caught sight of one, he made for it, and
suddenly stopping, stood stock-still, as a hint for his
rider to dismount and tie him up—an illustration of
the gossiping habits of his late owner. But he turned
out the most useful horse of the whole number,
£ral- 48-
loping over the roughest ground after buffalo without
ever making a mistake, or giving his rider a fall, and
eventually carried packs over the mountains into
British Columbia.
Our supplies consisted of pemmican, dried meat,
flour, tea, salt, tobacco, rum, a large quantity of ammunition, blankets, and buffalo robes, and knives and
trinkets for presents or barter. These and a canvass
tent were carried in six of the small rough carts of
the country, which are made entirely of wood; and
although they break more readily than if iron were
used, yet they are easily repaired when travelling
where iron and blacksmiths are not found.
We discarded boots and coats, adopting the costume of the country, viz., moccasins, and hunting-
shirts of the skin of the Cariboo deer. Our weapons
were a double-barrelled gun, hunting-knife, and a
revolver a-piece, which last we only carried when in
dangerous localities.
And here we would offer a word of advice to
any future traveller in the Hudson's Bay territories.
If he intends merely to hunt buffalo on the plains
in the summer, when he can take carts along with
him, and ample supplies, let him take a rifle if he
will; but if he wishes to see wild life in every phase,
and rough it through the winter, as we did, let him
be content with a double-barrelled smooth-bore, which
will carry ball well. Carts cannot travel in the deep
snow, and everything has to be carried on dog-sleighs.
Every pound of weight is a consideration, and a gun
packed on a sleigh is almost certain to be bent or THE       NOCE.
broken.    In the woods the hunter must carry all his
baggage and provisions on his back.
Two guns are, therefore, out of the question in
both cases. The hunter and trapper lives by the
feathered game which he kills, rather than by the
larger animals, which are only occasionally met with;
and although he may be a crack shot, he cannot kill
birds on the wing with a rifle, or two or three at
a time, as he must do if he would avoid starvation,
and economise his ammunition. A good smooth-bore
shoots well enough, up to sixty or eighty yards,
for all practical purposes, and during our experience
we never met with an instance where we could not
approach within that distance of large game.
We left Fort Garry on the 23rd of August, in the
highest spirits, feeling free as air, riding alongside our
train of carts, which carried all we possessed on the
continent. We had several spare horses, and these
trotted along after us as naturally as Rover. The
road followed the left bank of the Assiniboine pretty
closely, passing through level prairie land, with here
and there patches of woodland, and a few houses. As
we passed one of these hamlets, Voudrie informed us
that a cousin of his—the cousins of a half-breed are
legion—had been married that morning, and invited
us to the wedding festivities, which were then going
on at the house of the bride's father close by. As we
had some curiosity to see a " noce," we agreed, and
immediately camped, and walked to the house, where
we were duly introduced by Voudrie, and warmly
welcomed by the assembled company.
■m 50
After we had discussed some meat, cakes, pasties,
tea, and whisky spread out on the ground outside, we
adjourned to the ball-room, the sitting-room of the
little two-roomed house. It was crowded with guests,
dressed in full half-breed finery. At one end were
two fiddlers, who worked in relays, the music being in
most rapid time, and doubtless very fatiguing to the instrumentalists. The dance, in which about half a dozen
couples were engaged when we entered, appeared to be
a kind of cross between a Scotch reel and the "Lancers,"
a number of lively steps, including a double-shuffle
and stamp, being executed with great vigour. The
dancing was dancing, and no mistake, and both the
men and their fair partners were exceedingly hot and
exhausted when the " set" was finished. The figures
appeared so intricate, and the skill of the performers
so admirable, that we were deterred by our natural
diffidence from yielding to the repeated solicitations
of the M.C. to select partners and foot it with the rest.
At length, however, Milton, with a courage equal to
the occasion, and, it is suspected, strongly attracted by
the beauty of the bride—a delicate-featured, pensive-
looking girl of sixteen or seventeen, with a light
and graceful figure—boldly advanced, and led her out
amid the applause of the company. He succeeded in
interpreting the spirit of the music, if not with the
energy, certainly with a greater dignity and infinitely
less exertion than his compeers. His performance
was highly appreciated by all—including Treemiss
and Cheadle^—who gazed with admiration, mingled
with envy, at a success they were unequal to achieve. LA  RONDE S  LAST   CAROUSE.
Weary at length of the hot room, and the incessant scraping of fiddles and stamping of feet, we
returned to camp and proposed to start again. La
Ronde, who had been in various stages of intoxication
ever since leaving Fort Garry, taking parting drinks
with his friends at every opportunity, had disappeared,
and the others endeavoured to persuade us that it was
too late to go further that night. We overruled their
objections, however, and set out. La Ronde made his
appearance before we had gone very far, considerably
sobered, and very penitent. He assured us he had
had his last drunk for many a long day, saying, " Je
boive pas souvent, messieurs, mais quand je boive, je
boive comme il faut; c'est ma facon, voyez vous." And
so it turned out, for we never had to complain of
him again, and although we frequently offered him
rum, he always refused it, declaring he did not
care for it unless he could have a regular carouse.
And thus it is with both half-breeds and Indians;
they do not drink from a liking for the taste of the
liquor, but simply to produce the happy state of
After leaving Portage La Prairie, fifty miles beyond
Fort Garry, and the western boundary of the settlement, we entered a fine, undulating country, full of
lakes and marshes thronged with wild-fowl, and studded
with pretty copses of aspen. As we rode along we
continually came across the skulls of buffalo, whitened
by age and exposure. A few years ago buffalo were
plentiful along the road between Red River and
Carlton.      The   prairies were gay with the flowers
I   I
of the dark blue gentianella, which grew in great
Each day was like the one before, yet without a
wearisome monotony. Sometimes we jogged dreamily
along beside the carts, or lay basking in the .bright
sunshine. When tired of idleness, we cantered ahead,
with Rover in attendance, and shot geese and ducks
at the lakes, or prairie grouse in the copses. Feathered
game was so plentiful that we easily killed enough to
feed the whole party, and rarely had occasion to trench
on our stock of pemmican. A little before sundown
we camped by wood and water, hobbled the horses,
and then ate our suppers with appetites such as we
had never known before. At night, while smoking
our pipes round the camp fire, La Ronde amused us
with stories of his hunting adventures, of encounters
with the Sioux, or of his journey with Dr. Rae, after
which we turned into our blankets and slept soundly
till daybreak.
About midnight, however, on one occasion, when
all were sound asleep, the men under the carts, and ourselves in the tent, Treemiss suddenly jumped up with a
great shout, and rushed, sans culottes, out of the tent,
crying, "Indians! Indians! Indians!" Awakened
thus rudely, we ran out after him, frightened and half
asleep, and Milton, observing a figure stealthily moving
near one of the carts, dashed at it, seized it by the
throat, and half strangled—Voudrie, who, hearing
the noise, had jumped up" also to see what was the
matter. When we found there was no real cause for
alarm, we searched for Treemiss, and found him on FORT  ELLICE.
the top of a cart, busily engaged in unpacking one of
his boxes. He was still in a state of somnambulism,
and tremendously puzzled, when we awoke him, to find
himself where he was, shivering in his shirt in the
cold night air. We had a hearty laugh over the affair
next morning, and concluded that a mushroom supper,
and La Ronde's wild stories together, were the cause
of the horrible nightmare. While we were talking it
over, the men told us Vital was missing. We had
remonstrated with him about his laziness the day
before, and he had taken it in high dudgeon, and
decamped in the night.
During the day we met a train of carts returning
to Red River,  and  engaged  one of the  drivers,
loutish-looking youth, who rejoiced in the name of
Zear, in place of Vital. The man in charge was the
bearer of a note from Lord Dunmore, stating that he
was lying ill at Fort Ellice, and requesting Cheadle
to come to his relief as quickly as possible. The next
morning, therefore, we tied our blankets behind our
saddles, hung a tin cup to our belts, and taking
a couple of " gallettes," or unleavened cakes, a-piece,
set out on a forced march to the Fort, leaving the
men to follow more slowly with the carts.
We rode hard, and reached our destination on the
evening of the third day, when we found that our
exertions had been useless, as Lord Dunmore had left
the day before. When the carts arrived two days
afterwards, several of them required repairs, which
delayed us two days longer. We were very kindly
entertained by Mr. Mackay, the officer in charge of 54
the Fort, and amused ourselves by visiting the half-
breeds and Indians, whose lodges were erected in considerable numbers round the Fort. From one of
them we purchased a " lodge " in place of our canvass
tent, the former being far more comfortable during
the cold autumn nights, as it admits of a fire being
made in the centre.
The half-breed hunters had just been driven in by
the Sioux, who had killed four of their party, having
surprised them while cutting wood away from the
camp. The remainder of the half-breeds came up,
however, and drove them off, killing one, whose bow
and arrow they showed us. The Indians who frequent
the Fort are Sauteux, Assiniboines, and Crees; and
the half-breeds, nearly all of whom are related to one
or other of these tribes, share their hostility to the
Sioux and Blackfeet, and occasionally join the war-
parties of their kinsfolk. The women were busily
engaged in making pemmican, which is prepared in
the following manner :—The meat, having been dried
in the sun, or over a fire in thin flakes, is placed
in a dressed buffalo skin, and pounded with a flail
until it is reduced to small fragments and powder.
The fat of the animal is at the same time melted
down. The pounded meat is then put into bags of
buffalo hide, and the boiling grease poured on to it.
The mass is well stirred and mixed together, and on
cooling' becomes as solid as linseed cake.    Although
w O
we found pemmican decidedly unpalatable at first,
tasting remarkably like a mixture of chips and
tallow, we became very partial to it after a time:
A finer kind of pemmican is made by using only
marrow and soft fat, leaving out the tallow, and sometimes adding berries of different kinds and some
sugar. The berry pemmican is much prized, and
very difficult to get hold of, and is really capital
eating. (})
In a country where food is scarce, and the means
of transport very limited, pemmican is invaluable to
the traveller, as it contains a large amount of nourishment in very small weight and compass. It is
uncommonly satisfying, and the most hungry mortal
is able to devour but a very small portion. Many a
time have we sat down half-famished, despising as
insignificant the dish of pemmican set before us, and
yet been obliged to leave the mess unfinished. The
voyageurs of the Hudson's Bay Company, whose
power of enduring fatigue is probably unequalled,
subsist almost entirely upon this kind of food. It has,
however, one drawback: it is very difficult of digestion,
and a full meal of it is certain to cause considerable
suffering to an unaccustomed stomach. There are few
half-breeds who do not suffer habitually from dyspepsia.
Having crossed the Assiniboine river above the
Fort, we now left it to the right, travelling for several
days through rich, park-like country, similar to that
we had previously traversed. Innumerable lakes and
pools, swarming with wild-fowl, supplied us with con-
(l) The pemmican used in the Arctic expeditions was manufactured in England of the best beef, with currants, raisins, and sugar;
very different to the coarse stuff which is the staff of life in the
Hudson's Bay territories.
11 IS
stant shooting, and Rover with abundance of work.
Canada geese, white geese, mallards, canvass-backs,
spoon-billed ducks, various kinds of pochards, blue-
winged teal, and common teal, were the most common
of the different species which thronged the waters.
Occasionally the appearance of a new species of duck,
or a flock of white swans, gave fresh zest to the sport.
The ducks at this season are most delicious, possessing
much of the ordinary flavour of the wild bird, with all
the fatness and delicacy of the tame one. The broods
of prairie grouse were already full grown, and very
plentiful. When driven into the little round copses
of aspen which are such a prominent feature of the
" park country," they afforded capital sport.
We were now enjoying all the glory of the Indian
summer. The days were of that clear, unclouded
brightness almost peculiar to the country; the temperature of a delightful warmth, except at night, when
it was slightly frosty, the water sometimes showing a
thin incrustation of ice by morning. The mosquitoes
and sand-flies had disappeared with the first cool
evening, and we slept in peace.
After passing the deserted old Fort at Touchwood
Hills, we came, in the course of a day or two, to a long
stretch of bare rolling prairie, destitute of tree or
shrub, and its hollows occupied by nothing but salt
lakes, where we were obliged to carry with us a
supply of fire-wood and fresh water. When we were
coming to the old park country again, one evening at
dark, Cheadle and La Ronde, who were out shooting
ahead of the train, came to a little skirt of wood on
•3* ■ aft* A   HORSE S   INSTINCT.
the shores of a small lake, where they awaited the
arrival of the carts, in order to camp. These soon came
up, the horses were taken out and hobbled, and whilst
the camp was being prepared, La Ronde walked down
to the lake to try and get a shot at what he supposed
were ducks on the water. He crept cautiously up,
but when he peeped through the bushes which fringed
the shore, he found to his astonishment that what he
took for ducks were prairie hens. The lake was dry,
and the saline incrustation in its bed had in the
twilight, at a little distance, the most complete
appearance of water. Although it was nearly dark,
we had no choice but to harness up again, and go
forward until we did find water somewhere. La
Ronde and Cheadle were considerably " chaffed §
for the mistake they had made, and Milton galloped
off in search of a suitable camping ground. After
riding two or three miles, principally through thick
wood, without meeting with a sign of water, his
horse suddenly neighed and turned abruptly out of
the track into the bushes. The quacking of ducks
at a little distance induced his rider to dismount and
seareh, and there, sure enough, hidden amongst the
trees, was a fine sheet of water. The instinct of the
horse saved us many miles' journey in the dark, for
we travelled far next morning before we found another
lake or stream.
On the 25th of September we reached the south
branch of the Saskatchewan, here a stream of about
eighty yards wide, flowing in a valley cut deep in the
plain level, the sides of which are steep and wooded.
ill 58
The two branches of the river are only eighteen miles
apart at this point, and after crossing the south branch
on the morning of the 26th, we reached Carlton the
same day, having now accomplished about 500 out of
the 1,200 or 1,300 miles from Red River to the foot
of the Rocky Mountains.
Carlton—Buffalo close to the Fort—Fall of Snow—Decide to Winter
near White Fish Lake—The Grisly Bears—Start for the Plains—
The Dead Buffalo—The White Wolf—Bunning Buffalo Bulls—The
Gathering of the Wolves—Treemiss Lost—How he Spent the
Night — Indian Hospitality—Visit of the Crees — The Chief's
Speech—Admire our Horses—Suspicions—Stratagem to Elude
the Crees—Watching Horses at Night—Suspicious Guests—The
Cows not to be Found—More Bunning—Tidings of our Pursuers
—Return to the Fort. •
Carlton House, of which Mr. Lillie was in charge
at this time, like the other forts of the Hudson's Bay
Company, consists of a few wooden buildings, surrounded by a high square palisade, flanked at each
corner with small square towers. It stands on the
south side of the Saskatchewan, in the low ground close
to the river, and below the high banks which formed
the ancient boundary of the stream. The north
Saskatchewan is very similar in appearance to the south
branch, but of rather greater size. Situated between
the vast forest on the north and the prairie which
stretches away to the south, it was formerly a post of
very considerable importance. But as the fur-bearing
animals have decreased in the woods, and the buffalo
are often far distant on the plains, it has ceased to be
one of the most profitable establishments. When we
arrived there, however, we were  gladdened  by the
BI I El 60
'i-ill Pi1'
news that this year the buffalo had come up closer
than usual, the bulls being but one and the cows not
more than two days' journey distant.
The night after our arrival snow began to fall
heavily, and continued most of the next day, covering
the ground to the depth of five inches. But Mr. Lillie
assured us that this could not be the commencement
of the winter, and would all rapidly disappear, to be
followed by several weeks of fine weather. And, in
accordance with this prediction, a thaw set in on the
following day.
We had now decided, by La Ronde's advice, to go
into winter quarters amongst .the peaceful Wood Crees
near White Fish Lake, about eighty miles N.N.W. of
Carlton, and situated on the borders of the endless
forest which stretches away to the northward. Here
we should find very good trapping grounds within
80 or 100 miles of the plains, and the buffalo, who
had already crossed the north Saskatchewan in great
numbers, might possibly advance within one or two
days' journey of our position. We therefore transferred our winter supplies to the Fort, and prepared
for an excursion on to the plains to run buffalo, before
finally establishing ourselves for the winter.
Milton started with the carts next day; but two
grisly bears having been seen the day before within
five or six miles of the place, Treemiss and Cheadle set
out at daybreak in search of them, intending to catch
up the carts, if possible, the same day. Directed by
some half-breeds, they rode on several miles, and then
came upon the tracks, which they followed for a con- HUNTING  A  WOLF.
siderable distance. But the snow had rapidly melted
away, and their skill was unequal to following the trail
on the bare ground. They were therefore compelled,
very reluctantly, to relinquish the pursuit, and returned
to the Fort grievously disappointed. The footprints
of one of the animals were of enormous size, and
showed in the snow with great distinctness. The
length was that of a man's fore-arm, and the mark of
the claws like the impress of human fingers.
After dining with Mr. Lillie, they started after the
carts, which they regained at dark, after a hard ride of
some thirty miles. We all arose the next morning in
great excitement, knowing that we might expect
to see buffalo at any moment, for even Milton, who
was an old hand at | running," and had been out with
the Great Fall Hunt, from Fort Garry, two years before,
could not conceal a certain inability to sit still, and a
restless, nervous impatience to be at the wild sport
again.    La Ronde  rode  ahead to  reconnoitre,   and
O 5
Treemiss, too impatient to wait, followed him shortly
after. We remained with the carts, expecting La
Ronde's report. He did not return, however, and we
presently came upon a buffalo bull lying dead close to
the track—a victim, doubtless, to La Ronde. Several
wolves were prowling about, and whilst the men were
engaged in cutting up the animal, we rode in chase of
a large white fellow. Milton led, and turned him
repeatedly, but missed him with both barrels, and
Cheadle took up the chase, but with no better success.
We rode over him time after time, but failed to hit
him, as he dodged about under our horses, snarling and 62
Ii '»*
■" IS
mm i
showing his teeth. The horses were at length
thoroughly blown, and the wolf gaining at every stride,
we gave up the chase. After riding seven or eight
miles, we arrived at the camp, long after dark, exceedingly cold and hungry, and much vexed with La Ronde
for keeping all the sport to himself. Treemiss had
been more fortunate than we, and produced, with
great triumph, the tongues and marrow-bones of two
animals which he had killed.
We were under way very early on the following
morning, and Cheadle excited great merriment by the
ludicrous appearance which he made, bestriding a
little roan mare of fourteen hands, which looked
very unfit to carry his big frame of thirteen stone.
But Bucephalus was too sorely galled to bear a
saddle, and Cheadle, determined not to miss the sport,
despised ridicule, and went forth on the little cart
mare. After two or three miles' travelling, the carts
which were in front of us suddenly stopped, and
Voudrie came running hastily back, crying in an
excited manner, but with subdued voice, " Les bceufs,
les bceufs, les boeufs sont proches !" We rode up
quietly, and saw a herd of nine bulls feeding about
a mile off, and other bands in the distance, about
sixty in all. Girths were now tightened, and guns
examined, and then we went forward at a foot's pace,
feeling in much the same nervous condition as a
freshman at the university in his first boat-race,
waiting for the sound of the gun which gives the
signal to start.
We rode in line, with La Ronde as captain in the
as«ij«l!li«ii'|iiii BUFFALO   RUNNING.
centre. When we arrived within a quarter of a mile
of the largest band, they began to move slowly off;
and La Ronde, imitating the lowing of a buffalo, the
other groups looked up from their grazing, and then
trotted off to join the main body who were still
walking quietly along. We now went forward at a
canter, and the herd having collected together, broke
into a lumbering gallop; but we gained on them
rapidly, until within about 200 yards, when they
went off at speed. La Ronde gave the signal with a
wild " Hurrah ! hurrah! alez ! alez !" and away we
all went, helter-skelter, arms brandishing, and heels
hammering our horses' ribs in true half-breed fashion
—a mad, wild charge; Milton leading on his old red
horse, and Cheadle bringing up the rear on the little
roan mare. As we closed with them, the herd broke
up into bands of tbree or four, and each person
selected the one lying most favourably for himself.
A succession of shots soon told that the slaughter had
begun; but we were all quickly separated, and each
knew nothing of the success of the rest, until the run
was over.
Buffalo running is certainly a most fascinating
sport. The wild charge together into the thick of
the herd, the pursuit of the animal selected from the
band, which a well-trained horse follows and turns as
a greyhound courses a hare; the spice of danger in it
from the charge of a wounded animal, or a fall from
the holes so numerous on the prairies, contrive to
render it extremely exciting. There is something
also very ludicrous in the appearance of the bulls as 64
mill ill
they lumber along in their heavy gallop. Their
small hind-quarters, covered only with short hair,
seem absurdly disproportioned to the heavy front,
with its hump and shaggy mane; and as they gallop,
their long beards and fringed dewlaps sway from side
to side, whilst their little eyes roll viciously, as they
peep out ofthe forest of hair at the enemy behind them.
It was curious to see how the wolves seemed to
spring up, as it were, out of the ground, at the sound
of the first shot. Two or three appeared on every
little eminence, where they sat watching the progress
of the hunt. When we left one of the dead animals,
after cutting off the best meat from the carcase, they
began to steal towards it, and before we had got
many hundred yards, a dozen of them were tearing
at the body, and generally managed to pick the bones
clean before morning.
In this run all were successful. La Ronde killed
two, and the rest of us one a-piece, even Cheadle
making his appearance in due course on his diminutive steed, with a tongue hanging to his saddle.
Whilst the men were engaged in cutting up the
animals nearest at hand, Treemiss, still unsatiated,
started again in search of game, and Cheadle set out
with Zear to the animal he had killed, which lay
above a mile away. It presently began to rain
heavily, and Milton went on with the train, to camp in
a grove of trees by the river-side. The rain changed
to sleet, and it became bitterly cold.
Evening began to close in, and still Treemiss and
Cheadle did not make their appearance.     La Ronde
,<l!v|k||il.|H>lll •
rode out in search of them, and guns were fired at
intervals, to signal the position of the camp. A little
after dark, however, Cheadle arrived with Zear,
drenched to the skin and miserably cold. They had
caught a glimpse of Treemiss several hours before, as
he passed them in full career after a band of buffalo.
A portion of the herd crossed about a hundred yards
in front, and Cheadle brought down the leader, to
the great admiration of Zear. This delayed them
cutting up the meat until darkness came on, and they
had some difficulty in finding the camp. We continued to fire occasional shots until after midnight,
and raised a firebrand on one of the lodge poles as a
beacon, but were fain to retire to rest minus our companion.
At daybreak next morning all the men were
dispatched in search, but without success. Presently,
however, a group of horsemen were descried riding
towards us, and proved to be Treemiss and a party of
Crees. After wandering about, the night before, until
after dark, completely lost, he turned aside into a
clump of trees, and attempted to light a fire. But
matches, tinder, and wood were all wet, and he could
not succeed. Mounting his tired horse once more,
he rode along for several hours, drenched to the skin,
and almost numb with cold. At length, by a fortunate accident, he came upon an Indian camp, and
was most hospitably received. He was taken into
the chief's lodge, his clothes dried, meat and Indian
tea set before him, and as a cordial after, a mug of
Weary as he was,
warm water mixed with grease !   ill Ilii'
1 an
however, he found it almost impossible to sleep that
night. Both men and squaws turned out continually
to cook meat, smoke, or beat presuming dogs, which
were seized as they rushed out of the lodge by others
lying in wait by the door, and a general fight ensued.
When" morning came he made his hosts understand
that he had lost his way, whereupon they saddled
their horses, and as if by instinct, led him straight
to our camp.
We shook hands with our visitors, and inviting
them into the lodge, passed round the calumet, according to the rules of Indian politeness. For a long time
they sat round with legs crossed, smoking in perfect
silence. At last, after some preliminary conversation,
the chief, a fine-looking fellow, dressed in a spangled
shirt, a cap covered with many-coloured ribbons, and
an elaborately-worked medicine-bag, rose and made an
oration in the Cree language. He delivered himself
with much dignity, his gestures were graceful and easy,
and his speech fluent. He said, " I and my brothers
have been much troubled by the reports we have heard
from the Company's men, who tell us that numbers of
white men will shortly visit this country; and that
we must beware of them. Tell me why you come here.
In your own land you are, I know, great chiefs. You
have abundance of blankets, tea and salt, tobacco and
rum. Tou have splendid guns, and powder and shot
as much as you can desire. But there is one thing
that you lack—you have no buffalo, and you come
here to seek them. I am a great chief also. But the
Great Spirit has not dealt with us alike.    You he has OUR   STRATAGEM.
endowed with various riches, while to me he has
given the buffalo alone. Why should you visit this
country to destroy the only good thing I possess,
simply for your own pleasure ? Since, however, I feel
sure that you are great, generous, and good, I give
you my permission to go where you will, and hunt as
much as you desire, and when you enter my lodge
you shall be welcome."
With this conclusion he sat down and resumed
the pipe, awaiting our answer. He had put the
case so truly and forcibly, that we really felt almost
ashamed of ourselves, and should have found some
difficulty in replying, had he not ended his speech
so graciously. As it was, we merely thanked him for
his courtesy, and made him and his companions what
we considered a very handsome present of knives,
ammunition, tea, salt, and tobacco. They did not
seem satisfied, and wanted a gun, blankets, and above
all, rum. These we refused, and at length they took
their departure, apparently in good humour, although
they intimated that they doubted whether we were
such very great people, after all, since we had no rum.
As they went out they viewed our horses with evident
admiration, and La Ronde became very uneasy, assuring
us that they were displeased with their reception, and
would certainly follow our trail and attempt to carry
them off. We accordingly took measures to evade
their pursuit, and save our property. Moving forward
three or four miles, we encamped close to the river, as
if about to cross, and kept watch during the night.
No alarm occurred, and the  following morning we
f 2 68
turned off at right angles, travelling at great speed
some twenty miles, until we reached a small stream
called Eagle River, when we camped again. The
weather favoured our escape, a dense fog shrouding
us from the view of any who might be watching our
movements. This was followed in the afternoon by a
high wind, which, although it dispersed the mist,
raised the grass bent down by our passage, and thus
completely effaced our trail. At night we again kept
diligent guard, picketing all the most valuable horses
close to the lodge.
We spent the next day in looking for the cows, but
no sign of them could be seen. We therefore resolved
to spend a few days longer in running bulls, and then
return to the Fort. We were still obliged to keep
careful watch during the night, for the attempt on the
horses was .more likely to be made after the lapse of
some days, according to Indian custom. Each took
his turn on guard, and it must be confessed we felt
somewhat uncomfortable as we crouched in the shade
of the bushes alone, while all the rest were asleep. It
was fortunately bright moonlight, but the loose horses
continually strayed out of view, and as we stole
round from time to time to drive them in, we half
expected to feel the hand of some ambushed Indian
laid upon our shoulder, when we passed through the
thick underwood.
One afternoon.two Indians, youths of about seventeen, came to our camp, and expressed their intention of
honouring us with their company till the morrow. We
had strong suspicions that they were spies, but invited  *9>MV THE   CREES   AT   FAULT.
them to sleep in the lodge, and redoubled our vigilance
in keeping watch. But the night again passed without
alarm, and we concluded that we had succeeded in
throwing our pursuers off the trail. After hunting
several days more, with varied success, we made a rapid
journey back to the Fort, which we reached on the 8th
of October. On our way we overtook the Company's
train of carts returning, laden with meat. Mr. Sinclair,
who was in charge, informed us that when first the
hunters went out on the fall hunt, they found buffalo
in extraordinary numbers. Vast herds covered the
ground in every direction, so that the earth fairly
shook again beneath their trampling, and at night
sleep was almost impossible from the constant lowing,
and the tumult of their passage. By the time he got
there the large bands had been broken up, and the
cows, who are much wilder than the bulls, driven far
to the south. He also told us that he had met the
party of Crees who had guided Treemiss to the camp
on the occasion when he lost his way. They related
the whole story to him, with the further information
that they had been much disappointed with us, and
vastly smitten with our horses, which they had made
up their minds to carry off. Accordingly, a large party
cautiously followed our trail the next day, but when
they arrived at our old camp by the river—the point
where we had turned off at right angles;—they were
unable to trace us any further, and concluded that we
had crossed the river. We were greatly pleased to find
our suspicions were not groundless, and that the stratagem we adopted had been so completely successful.
I |i blf f pill:
ill I
i k 11
The Ball—Half-Breed Finery—Voudrie and Zear return to Fort
Garry—Treemiss starts for the Montagne du Bois—Leave Carlton
for Winter Quarters—Shell Eiver—La Belle Prairie—Biviere
Crochet—The. Indians of White Fish Lake—Kekek-ooarsis, or
| Child of the Hawk," and Keenamontiayoo, or " The Long Neck"
—Their Jollification—Passionate Fondness for Bum—Excitement
in the *Camp—Indians Flock in to Taste the Fire-water—Sitting
out our Visitors—A Weary Day—Cache the Bum Keg by Night
—Betreat to La Belle Prairie—Site of our House—La Bonde as
Architect—How to Build a Log Hut—The Chimney—A Grand
Crash—Our Dismay—Milton supersedes La Bonde—The Chimney Bises again—Our Indian Friends^-The Frost sets in.
The night after our return to Carlton, a ball was got
up by the half-breeds in honour of our visit. Mr.
Lillie gave up his best room for the purpose, and we
provided the refreshment, in the shape of rum; the
expectation that we should do so being no doubt one
of the greatest attractions the entertainment offered.
The men appeared in gaudy array, with beaded firebag,
gay sash, blue or scarlet leggings, girt below the knee
with beaded garters, and moccasins elaborately embroidered ; the women in short, bright-coloured skirts,
howing the richly-embroidered leggings, and white
moccasins of cariboo-skin, beautifully worked with
flowery patterns in beads, silk, and moose hair.   Some
f the young girls were good-looking, but many of
them were disfigured by goitre, which is very prevalent LEAVE CARLTON FOR WINTER QUARTERS.
among the half-breeds at all the posts on the Saskatchewan, although unknown amongst the Indians.
Sinclair, who acted as musician, was kept hard at
work, with but short respites for refreshment, and the
revelry continued far into the small hours.
As winter was now close at hand, we hastened our
departure for White Fish Lake. Treemiss had decided
to  fix  his  residence  at the Montagne  du Bois, or
O 3
ThickwoOd Hills, about fifty miles N.W. of Carlton,
where large game was more abundant, and which was
nearer to the plains. The Montagne du Bois had
moreover the additional attraction of being the home
of Atahk-akoohp, or " Star of the Blanket," the most
noted hunter of the district. La Ronde and Bruneau
accompanied us, to remain during the winter; Voudrie
and Zear returning to Fort Garry, in charge of the
most valuable horses and our letters for England.
On the 10th of October we transferred horses,
carts, and baggage to the north side of the Saskatchewan, and in the evening bade good-bye to the people
of the Fort, and followed our train, camping for that
night on the bank of the river.
Next morning we
said adieu to Treemiss, as from this point our roads
We were now once more travelling through mixed
country. The weather was still beautifully fine, and
during the day pleasantly warm. The nights began
to be very keen, and the lakes were already partly
covered with a thin coating, of ice.
The wild-fowl had taken their departure for the
south, only a few stragglers remaining from the later
broods. Many of the latter fall victims to their procrastination, being frequently found frozen fast in the
ice. But this, the Indians assert, takes place in
consequence of their excessive fatness, which renders
them unable to rise on the wing, and they are thus
detained behind, to suffer a miserable death.
In four days we arrived at the Shell River, a
small tributary of the Saskatchewan; and here we
had all to jump into the stream and assist in helping
the heavily-laden carts down the steep bank, and up
the opposite slope. The water was cold as ice, and
we hardly enjoyed our compulsory bath, but the
noon-day sun shone warmly, and a rapid walk soon
restored the circulation in our benumbed limbs.
The next day brought us to a lovely little spot,
a small prairie of perhaps 200 acres, surrounded by
low wooded hills, and on one side a lake winding
with many an inlet amongst the hills and into the
plain, while here and there a tiny promontory, richly
clothed with pines and aspens, stretched out into the
water. The beauty of the place had struck the rude
voyageurs, its only visitors, except the Indians, and
they had named it La Belle Prairie.
As we crossed it, we remarked to one another
what a magnificent site for a house one of the promontories would be, and how happy many a poor
farmer who tilled unkindly soil at home would feel in
possession of the rich land which lay before us. The
same day we struck the river Crochet, a stream of
about the same size as Shell River, and assisted to
help the carts across, as we had done at the latter. KEKEK-OOARSIS.
About half a mile beyond, we saw two small wooden
houses. We encamped in an open space at a little
distance, and then walked up to make the acquaintance of the occupants. One of the huts had been
built by an enterprising free-trader, Mr. Pruden; the
other, at its side, by the Company, in opposition. Mr.
Pruden was at length induced to enter the Company's
service as Chief Trader at Carlton, and presented his
dwelling to two families of Indians. The Company's
establishment was dismantled, and remained untenanted. A fishery was still worked occasionally at
White Fish Lake, close by. In the house we found
an old Indian engaged in mending a net, and his
squaw squatted by the hearth indulging in a pipe.
They shook hands with us very cordially, La Ronde
introducing us as a • great chief and great medicine
man, who had travelled far for the pleasure of
making their acquaintance. The old fellow rejoiced
in the name of Kekek-ooarsis, or " The Child of the
Hawk," in allusion to the beak-like form of his nose.
We smoked several pipes with him while answering the numerous questions he addressed to us
through La Ronde, and were so delighted with his
urbanity, that in a weak moment we promised to
make him a present of a small quantity of rum.
Alas! mistaken generosity, fruitful of anxiety and
trouble ! The old gentleman became all excitement,
said we were the best fellows he had met for many a
day, adding that if he might venture to offer a suggestion, it would be that we should fetch the fire-water
immediately.      We  accordingly  went  back  to  the
a     #    |j
If j 74
a i
lodge, sent off to him a very small quantity well
watered, taking the precaution to fill a small keg with
a weak mixture, and hiding the cask in the cart.
It does not answer, however, to dilute the spirits
too much. It must be strong enough to be inflam-
mable, for an Indian always tests it by pouring a few
drops into the fire. If it possesses the one property
from which he has given it the name of fire-water, he
is satisfied, whatever its flavour or other qualities
may be.
We had hardly covered up the cask, when Kekek-
ooarsis appeared, accompanied by his squaw, a
withered old hag, and Keenamontiayoo, " The Long
Neck," his son-in-law. The men were already half
drunk, singing away the Indian song without words,
and clamorous for more rum. • They produced a
number of marten and other skins, and all our explanations failed to make them understand that we had
not come as traders.
After two hours' continued discussion, we doled
out another small quantity, as the only way to get rid
of them. How they chuckled and hugged the pot!
exclaiming, " Tarpwoy ! tarpwoy!" (It is true ! it is
true !) hardly' able to believe the delightful fact. At
the first dawn of day, they entered the lodge again,
bringing more furs for sale.
Boys rode off as couriers in all directions to carry
the welcome tidings to their friends in the neighbour-
Before long men came galloping up from
different quarters, and these were presently followed
by squaws and children, all eager to taste the pleasure- giving fire-water, and our lodge was soon crowded with
importunate guests. To end the matter, we sent them
off with what remained in the little keg, all they
actually knew that we possessed, for we had kept the
cask in the cart hidden securely out of their sight. * In
about two hours all returned, more or less intoxicated,
and the infernal clamour re-commenced with tenfold importunity. First one fellow thrust a marten
skin into our hands, another two or three fish, while
a third, attempting to strip off his shirt for sale, fell
senseless into the arms of his squaw. The demand
was the same with all, and incessant: " Isquitayoo
arpway! isquitayoo arpway!" (Fire-water! fire-water!)
Hour after hour we sat smoking our pipes with an air
of unconcern we did not feel, and refusing all requests.
Afternoon came, and the scene still continued. We
dared not leave the lodge, lest they should search the
carts and discover our store.
Wearily passed the time till darkness came on, and
still the crowd sat round, and still the same request
was dinned into our ears. But we were thoroughly
determined not to give way, and at last they began to
conclude we were inexorable, and dropped off one by
one, immensely disgusted with our meanness. In the
dead of night we stealthily arose, and La Ronde went
out to reconnoitre the position of the Indians. None
were near, and all was perfectly still. ' We now proceeded, with the greatest caution, to remove the cask
from its hiding-place, and La Ronde and Bruneau
went off to cache it safely at some distance. They
returned before daylight, very cold and wet, having
crossed the river, and deposited the cause of our troubles
in the bush some miles away.
In the morning Keenamontiayoo came to our
lodge, but did not renew his importunities. Our firmness the day before had produced a most salutary
effect. We were, however, so much disgusted with our
experience of the last two days, that we resolved to
give up the idea of fixing our winter residence here,
and retreat to La Belle Prairie, putting a distance of
nine or ten miles between our troublesome neighbours
and ourselves.
We retraced our steps accordingly the next day,
and set up our lodge on the banks of the lake of the
Beautiful Prairie. The site selected for our dwelling
was the middle of the wooded promontory which had
before attracted our admiration. As it was now the
end of October, it was necessary to use all speed in
putting up a house, lest the winter should set in before
our work was completed. And, moreover, we were
obliged, for the same reason, to be content with a
building of very small size, and the simplest construction. La Ronde acted as architect, and proceeded to
work in the following manner.
A rude enclosure, fifteen feet by thirteen, was first
made of rough poplar logs, morticed together at the
corners of the building. The logs, however, did not
by any means Me in apposition, and the spaces between
them would admit of a hand being passed through.
As yet there was neither door, window, nor roof, and
the walls were but six feet high in front, and little
over five feet behind.   These deficiencies were, however,.   BUILDING   OUR   HOUSE.
soon supplied by the ingenious La Ronde, in a much
simpler fashion than we had suspected. A doorway
and window was hewn through the solid walls; a door
constructed of boards from the carts; whilst a piece of
parchment supplied the place of window-glass. The
roof was covered in by straight poles of young, dry
pines, and over this was a thatch of marsh grass,
weighted down by loose earth thrown over. The low-
ness of the building, externally, was remedied inside
by digging out the ground two feet, rendering the
building very much warmer. The interstices between
the logs were filled up with mud, mixed with chopped
grass, to give it tenacity. But we had still the most
important and difficult work of all—to build the
chimney. For a long time we were unable to discover
any clay wherewith to cement the boulders of which a
chimney is constructed in backwood fashion, and
began to be seriously afraid that the strong frost would
commence before our fire-place was ready. This would,
of course, have been exceedingly awkward, for it was
difficult enough to work with untempered mortar, and
if it were frozen, building would obviously be out of
the question.
At last, after digging through several feet of rich
loam, we discovered some clayey soil, with which we
made shift, and the fire-place rose rapidly. As it
approached completion, a fire was lighted, and we were
congratulating ourselves upon complete success—when,
crash! and. down it tumbled. Great was our consternation, and for some time we were completely
nonplused.    An animated discussion took place as to
the manner of raising a more durable structure. La
Ronde and Bruneau were much chagrined at their
failure, declared the clay was worthless, and were too
sulky to set to work again at once. There was, however,
no time to be lost in repairing the damage, or we should
be left without a fire-place when the thermometer was
down below zero. Milton took upon himself to be
engineer, and built up a framework of green wood to
support the clay, and Cheadle, meanwhile, with horse
and cart, collected a stock of the most rectangular
stones to be found. By this means we built a substantial fire-place, which stood bravely all the winter.
Whilst we were engaged in these labours we -had
O    O
several visits from our Indian friends, but they had
ceased to be very troublesome. The hunter, Keenamontiayoo, called on his way to the Fort for winter
supplies, and returned with the news that the buffalo
had already advanced within two days' journey of La
Belle Prairie. This, however, proved to be without
foundation. We found old Kekek-ooarsis and the
squaws exceedingly useful to us. The former we
employed to make snow shoes and some dog-sleighs,
whilst the latter mended our moccasins, and made up
ter clothing.
On the 23rd of October the lake was completely
frozen over, and near two inches of snow covered the
ground.    A partial thaw took place, however, on' the
26th,   after   which   the   winter   fairly   commenced.
Our work was finished only just in time.
Furnishing—Cheadle's Visit to Carlton—Treemiss there—His Musical
Evening with Atahk-akoohp—A very Cold Bath—State Visit of
the Assiniboines—Their Message to Her Majesty—How they
found out we had Bum—Fort Milton Completed—The Crees of
the Woods—Contrast to the. Crees of the Plains—Indian Children
—Absence of Deformity—A " Moss-bag "—Kekek-ooarsis and his
Domestic Troubles—The Winter begins in Earnest—Wariness of
all Animals—Poisoning Wolves—Caution ofthe Foxes—La Bonde
and Cheadle start for the Plains—Little Misquapamayoo—Milton's
Charwoman—On the Prairies—Stalking Buffalo—Belated—A
Treacherous Blanket—A Cold Night Watch—More Hunting—
Cheadle's Wits go Wool-gathering—La Bonde's Indignation—
Lost all Night—Out in the Cold Again—Our Camp Pillaged—
Turn Homewards—Bough and Beady Travelling—Arrive at Fort
Our house now required flooring and furnishing, and
it was decided that Milton and La Ronde should
undertake this, while Cheadle, with Bruneau, made a
journey to Carlton, to obtain a stock of pemmican,
before the snow rendered the road impassable for carts.
Accordingly, on the 29th the horses were sought,
Bucephalus captured and harnessed, and the party set
out. A bitter north wind blew strongly, and at night
the snow began to fall fast. They travelled with great
speed, reaching the banks of the Saskatchewan by dusk
on the following day. At the crossing they found a
lodge erected, and two carts laden with provisions,
which they judged to belong to Treemiss, who had
I lift
probably come over on a similar errand. After firing
several shots in vain, they turned into the lodge and
made free with the provisions, their own stock being
exhausted. On the following morning, after much
shouting, and burning a great deal of powder, a party
appeared on the opposite bank, and proceeded to bring
over the barge. This was a work of much difficulty,
as the river was already half frozen over, a passage
being still open in the middle, down which great
masses of ice crashed and grated along. As the barge
approached, a loud whoop announced the presence of
Treemiss, who was hardly recognisable dressed in long
capote and cap, with band and lappets of fur, after the
half-breed fashion. The barge brought carts across
going to Fort Pitt, and whilst it was unloading,
Treemiss related his adventures since we parted from
him. He had nearly finished his house, which, like
ours, consisted of only one room, but in a far higher
style of architecture, being loftier, and having a high-
pitched roof.. He too had met with great annoyance
from the possession of a little rum, and Atahk-
akoohp and his friends had let him have no peace
until they had obtained the whole of it. Their drunken
orgies lasted through the night, and a dirty Indian
crept in to share Treemiss's bed. He was forthwith
turned out by the indignant owner, but quickly
returned, and after several repetitions ofthe same performance, Treemiss took him by the shoulders and put
him out of doors. Atahk-akoohp at length alone
remained, sitting over the fire, singing the Indian song.
Treemiss now flattered himself that at last he should STATE  VISIT   OF  ASSINIBOINES.
be left to sleep in peace. Atahk-akoohp, however,
discovering that all his audience had departed, with
the exception of -Treemiss, who appeared to be sound
asleep, proceeded to arouse the latter by digging him
in the ribs, repeating the operation through the night,
as often as his victim showed any want of attention to
his tuneful efforts.  •
In landing on the ice on the south side, two
unfortunate fellows broke through, and plunged overhead in the water. They were soon rescued, but their
plothes instantly froze as stiff as .boards, and they had
a most ludicrous appearance as they walked shivering
and covered with ice, swinging their legs stiffly as if
partially paralysed, the rigid case in which they were
enclosed preventing flexure of the knee joints. A
party had come into the Fort from Red River, but had
brought no letters for any of our party. We had as
yet received none since leaving England. Some old
newspapers furnished a little intelligence of the outer
world, containing, amongst .other things, the news of
the massacre of the whites in Minnesota by the Sioux
—the first knowledge we had of the horrors we had
somewhat narrowly escaped.
A short time before Cheadle's visit, Mr. Lillie
had been surprised by a band of 300 Assiniboines,
arrayed in gayest dress and full paint, who marched
up to the Fort in solemn procession. After the
calumet had been duly passed round, and proper
presents made, the chief arose, and, in a complimentary
speech, expressed the delight with which they had
received the news that the Company had come to a
better mind, and again provided the much-loved firewater for their Indian friends. Mr. Lillie assured
them they were mistaken, but without obtaining
belief, and they proceeded straightway to make a strict
search. Every corner of the building was visited and
turned out, and they even went down into the
ice-cellar, where the meat is kept. Failing to discover
anything, they expressed great regret that the good
news was not true, and requested Mr. Lillie to forward a strong remonstrance from them to Her
Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, for prohibiting that
which her Red Children loved so well, intimating that
they themselves were the best judges of what was
good for them.
The origin of their visit (the first they had made
for ten years) was as follows:—Whilst our party
were at the Fort on the previous occasion, a small
quantity of rum had been spilled upon the floor of
the store, in drawing some from the cask. Two
Assiniboines came in to trade, and smelt the delicious
odour their noses had not experienced for many a
year. Without giving the smallest sign that they
perceived anything unusual, or making any inquiry,
they hastened back to the tribe with all speed, and
communicated the joyful tidings. Instantly the
camp was all excitement, and preparations made for
the state visit to the Fort which has been related.'
But they arrived too late. A few days before, we had
carried the treasure far beyond their reach.
After one day's rest, Cheadle and Bruneau   set
out on their return.    The Saskatchewan was already FORT   MILTON   COMPLETED.
frozen over above and below the Fort, but an open
passage still existed at the usual crossing-place, and
the barge was the means of conveyance from one ice-
bank to the other.
The cart was loaded on the ice, and before it
reached the shore, broke through and upset, immersing Bucephalus in the water. Fortunately it
was not very deep, and after some delay he was
lugged out. In a few minutes he appeared in a new
character, white as if made of frosted silver, and
bristling like a hedgehog with the long icicles which
formed on his shaggy coat as the water dripped off.
It took a long time to unload the cart, haul it out/
carry the things to the bank, and re-load; and the horse,
ice-clothed and shivering in the bitter north wind, was
a most pitiable object. However, a brisk march of
ten miles set him all right again, and the party
arrived at Fort Milton, as La Ronde had named our
hut, without further adventure, early on the third day.
During their absence Milton and La Ronde had
not been idle. A couple of bunks had been put up,
which, furnished with dry grass and buffalo robe, were
to us most luxurious sleeping-places. The door and
parchment windows were completed, and two rough
tables, one for the kitchen department, and another
for the dining end of our small, one-roomed hut.
On the 7th of November La Ronde started across
the lake, on which the ice was already four or five
inches thick, to explore the forest on the northern side,
and discover the most promising ground for trapping.
During his absence we were engaged in putting up
g 2 —
»i i
shelves, making candlesticks and chairs, &c, and
arranging our goods and chattels in their places; whilst
Bruneau erected a platform outside, raised on high posts,
on which to store our meat secure from wolves and dogs.
Our Indian friends paid us visits occasionally, hat
were exceedingly well-behaved, and we felt quite at
ease, having safely cached the spirit cask some distance
from the hut, and it was now completely hidden by
the accumulating snow.
The Wood Crees are of different habits and disposition to their relatives, the Crees of the Plains—a
race of solitary trappers and hunters on foot, contrasted with a race of gregarious horsemen. They
are very peaceable, and pride themselves upon an
honesty unknown amongst their lawless brethren of
the prairies. During the six months we spent amongst
the Crees of the Woods, we had not occasion to complain of a single theft. Three months of this time
we lived amongst them entirely alone, and, although
they often importuned us to give them different
things to which they took a fancy, they never offered
to dispute our right of ownership.
They are most expert trappers and hunters of
moose, and occasionally seek buffalo when they enter
the skirts of the woods in severe winters. They are
far better clothed and equipped than the Plain Indians,
being able to obtain what they may require at the
trading posts in exchange for furs. But they often
suffer severely- from starvation, as moose are now becoming scarce; while the Plain Crees, following the
buffalo, seldom lack food, although they possess little
marketable property wherewith to buy clothes and
luxuries at the Forts. These Indians, as indeed all
others we met with, managed their families admirably.
An Indian child is seldom heard to cry, and matrimonial squabbles seem unknown. Our friend Keenamontiayoo was a most affectionate husband and father,
and his wife and children obeyed him at a word,
evidently looking up to him as a superior being, to be
loved with respect.
Among the things which struck us when we became more extensively acquainted with the Indians,
was the absence of deformity and baldness, or grey
hair, amongst them. The former may no doubt be
accounted for by the influence of " natural selection,"
and perhaps the careful setting of the infants' limbs in
the " moss-bag," or Indian cradle. This is a board
with two side flaps of cloth, which lace together up
the centre. The child is laid on its back on the board,
packed with soft moss, and laced firmly down, with its
arms to its side, and only its head at liberty. The
cradle is slung on the back of the mother when travel-
ling, or reared against a tree when resting in camp, the
child being only occasionally released from its bondage
for a few moments. The little prisoners are remarkably
good; no squalling disturbs an Indian camp, and
strict obedience is obtained without recourse to corporeal punishment.
On one occasion Kekek-ooarsis arrived in a state of
great excitement from domestic troubles. He had sold
one of his daughters in marriage—after the Indian
fashion—for a horse, but his ungrateful son-in-law,
fl i
after carrying off his bride, returned in the night and
stole back the horse given in payment. Kekek-ooarsis,
indignant at such behaviour, retaliated by secretly
fetching his daughter home, and was now in considerable fear of the disappointed bridegroom, whom he
anticipated might do him bodily injury, and begged
us to give him shelter for the night, lest he should be
waylaid on his return home in the dark. This we of
course granted, but his apprehensions appeared to have
been groundless, for the husband bore his loss with
perfect indifference, and made no attempt to regain
his wife.
On the 9th La Ronde returned, having found but
little sign of game until a day's journey distant, when
marten tracks became tolerably plentiful, and he had
set a few traps. On the following day the frost set in
with great severity, and six inches of snow had fallen
during the night. The men now set to work to construct a couple of horse-sleighs, in readiness for a
journey to the plains in search of fresh meat. Whilst
they were thus engaged, we employed ourselves in
supplying the larder, with Rover's assistance, and
rarely failed to bring in a supply of prairie grouse,
wood partridges, and rabbits. The latter were very
wary, and we saw so few that, until the snow fell, we
had no idea that they were numerous. When the
snow became deep, it was furrowed by their paths in
all directions, and we caught them by placing snares
across these runs.
With the exception of wolves and buffalo, wild
animals of any kind are rarely seen in the Hudson's POISONING WOLVES.
Bay territories, unless they are carefully tracked up.
They are so constantly hunted by the Indians, and
whenever they encounter man are so invariably pursued,
that they are ever on their guard, and escape unseen
on the slightest alarm. It is only when the snow
betrays their numerous footprints, that a novice can
bring himself to believe there really is any four-footed
game in the country.
The tracks of wolves and foxes were numerous on
the lake, and the former regularly announced daybreak
and sunset by a chorus of howls. Being somewhat
afraid that our horses might be attacked by them, we
set baits, poisoned with strychnine, at different points
round the lake. The animals are so wary and suspicious, that they will not touch a bait lying exposed,
or one which has been recently visited. It is necessary,
therefore, to cover the enticing morsel carefully with
snow, smoothing the surface evenly over it, and not
approaching the place afterwards, unless a distant view
shows that it has been dug out by a too hungry
victim. The foxes especially are exceedingly cautious,
frequently visiting the place for days and even weeks,
marching  round,  but  not  daring  to   enter in  and
O * O
partake. For a long time we had no success; many
of the baits were taken, and we tracked the animals
for long distances, but the poison appeared to have
had no effect. At last we were rewarded by finding
an immense white wolf, the unusual size of whose
footprints had rendered him a particular object of
pursuit. He had a most magnificent skin, which was
carefully preserved, and his carcass used as a means of
II ll
ilii' «8*K
destruction for his brethren. In a week all the large
wolves were destroyed, and our horses considered safe
for the winter.
When the sleighs were completed, La Ronde paid
a rapid visit to his traps, returning in two days with
a fisher and a few martens, and the following day
he set out with Cheadle for the plains, taking two
horses and sleighs to bring back the produce of their
hunt.   They were accompanied by an Indian boy—the
son of the hunter, Keenamontiayoo—who brought a
very diminutive horse, a two-year-old colt, the size of
a Shetland  pony, to   carry his share of the spoils.-
Misquapamayoo, or " The thing one catches a glimpse
of,"  was   an   exceedingly active,  clever   youth   of
fourteen, with very large black  eyes, and  an open,
merry face, very willing and obliging, and performing
all his duties with the dignity and importance of a
man.    He became afterwards a devoted follower of
ours, and did good service on many occasions, often
amusing us by his insatiable  curiosity and intense
enjoyment of anything which seemed to him strange
or ridiculous, falling  into  fits  of laughter  on the
slightest provocation.    During the absence of this
party, Milton remained  at  home with Bruneau, to
attend to the traps and take care of house and property.    Being somewhat dissatisfied with Bruneau's
performance of his duties as housemaid and laundress,
Milton took the opportunity afforded by the visit of
an Indian and his squaw, to engage the latter for a
general washing and house-cleaning.    Although it
was night when they arrived, the woman set to work immediately, diligently melting snow at a roaring fire
for hours, and_when about midnight she had obtained
a sufficient supply of water, proceeded to scrub blankets
and clothes. Milton expostulated, and suggested she
should retire to rest, but in vain. The splashing and
scrubbing went on without cessation, and sleep was
impossible. At length Milton, driven to desperation,
jumped out of bed, threw away all the water, and put
out the fire. The squaw thereupon retired to rest in
much astonishment, and for a time all was still.
Presently, however, when she imagined Milton had
fallen asleep, she quietly got up, and re-commenced her
labours. The unhappy retainer of her services was
fairly beaten, and compelled to resign himself to his
fate, venting many maledictions on the untimely
industry of his servant.
The hunting party meanwhile pursued their way
to the plains, following an old Indian track to the
south-west for about eighty miles. Passing through
a hilly country, well wooded and watered, on the
morning of the fourth day they reached the brow of
a hill, whence they saw the prairie stretching away
before them. La Ronde quickly detected five buffalo,
grazing about a mile distant, and a camp was immediately made. After a hasty meal of dry pemmican—
a fire being dispensed with for fear of frightening the
game—they prepared for the hunt. The day was
unusually warm, and in a weak moment La Ronde
and Cheadle both divested themselves of leather shirt
and*capote before starting. After a great deal of
dodging and crawling on hands and knees through the THE  NORTH-WEST  PASSAGE  BY  LAND.
snow, they gained a point where, peering through a
little patch of scrub, they saw the five bulls within
twenty yards of them. La Ronde, in his excitement,
hurriedly whispered instructions to Cheadle in a most
unintelligible jargon of mingled French, English,
and Cree. The latter, equally excited, and- bewildered
by directions he could not understand, hesitated to
fire. La Ronde, in despair, stealthily raised his gun,
when Cheadle, unwilling to be forestalled, raised his
also, and in so doing incautiously protruded his head
out of cover.
In an instant the whole band started off full speed,
saluted, as they went, by an ineffectual volley at their
sterns. Many were the mutual recriminations, and
fiercely did La Ronde "sacre\" The buffalo were gone,
no more to be seen, and small was the pemmican
remaining in the camp. Far away in the distance the
frightened bulls began to slacken their pace, and at
last commenced slowly walking and feeding along.
The only chance remaining was to try and come up
with them again, and the disappointed hunters set off
in pursuit at a run, carefully screening themselves
from observation. After about two hours' hard work,
they succeeded in getting before them, and lying concealed in their path, killed two as they passed slowly by.
It was now nearly dark, and the party were three
or four miles from camp. It was impossible to fetch
the horses and sleighs, and carry the meat back that
night, and if the carcasses were left, the wolves would
^n. che bones clean by morning. There was therefore, no choice but to camp on the spot for the night.
But little shelter could be found, and the only wood
was a few dry poplar saplings.
The two dead buffalo lay some 200 yards apart,
and placing a gun and powder-horn against one to
scare away the wolves, they lighted a small fire near
the other, and proceeded to take off his hide, and
cook steaks for supper. By this time night had quite
closed in, and a strong north wind blew icily cold,
piercing the single flannel shirts of the unfortunate
hunters like gauze. Bitterly did they now repent
having left shirts and capotes behind; for the prospect
of spending the long winter night with the thermometer below zero, and without shelter or proper
fire, was unpleasant enough.
All the wood that could be found—a very scanty
supply—was collected to replenish the tiny fire, the
snow scraped away, and willows cut and strewn for
a couch. The raw buffalo hide was divided into
two, and Cheadle made himself very small to creep
under one half, while La Ronde and Misquapamayoo
huddled together under the other. The reeking hide
was delightfully warm, and the weary travellers were
soon sound asleep. But their comfort was, alas! of
short duration. Before long, the sleepers awoke half
frozen and benumbed in every limb. The scanty
coverlet, so soft and warm at first, had quickly frozen
hard as stone, and formed an arch over the recumbent
bodies, through which the keen winter wind rushed
like the draught under the arch of a bridge.
Sleep was out of the question, and kicking aside
their deceitful protection, the shivering trio stamped
I "if Q2
I '■*.'
restlessly to and fro, cherishing with sparing hand the
miserable fire, or cooking strips of meat to while away
the dreary hours, watching anxiously the voyageur's
clock, " Great Orion," which " sloped," as it seemed,
very, very | slowly to the west." He did get through .
his journey at last, however; and when the wolves
proclaimed the dawn with the usual chorus of howls,
La Ronde and the boy started back to fetch the
sleighs, whilst Cheadle went in pursuit of a buffalo
which had been severely wounded the night before.
After hunting several days with tolerable success,
the sleighs were loaded with meat, and the party
turned their faces homewards. But their adventures
were not yet over. Several bands of buffalo were
descried close at hand, and it was resolved to have
one more day's hunting before returning to La Belle
Prairie. The character of the country, which was
undulating, with scattered patches of small timber,
was very favourable for stalking, and a small band
was successfully approached within some forty yards.
They were lying asleep in a little hollow, and Cheadle
agreed to wait ensconced behind a hillock, whilst
the other two crept round to approach them on the
opposite side.
Long he waited, peering over the brow of the hill
through the long grass, and anxiously watching in
vain for some sign that the others had reached their
post. Presently one of the bulls got up and stretched
himself, but did not appear disturbed. Cheadle,
unwilling to spoil the chance of the others, still
forbore to shoot, and as he lay and waited, began to
dream; thoughts of home, and old familiar scenes and
faces took possession of his brain ;
| Old wishes, ghosts of broken plans,
And phantom hopes assemble;"
and La Ronde, buffalo and all, were completely forgotten. Suddenly he was aroused from }pis reverie by
a great shouting of " Tir done ! tir, Doeteur ! tir-r,
sacre ! tonnerre ! tir-r-r ! " and there were the buffalo
rushing by as hard as they could tear, with La Ronde
and Misquapamayoo running after them, blazing
away as rapidly as they could load. They fired
at random, and without effect, but Cheadle, more
deliberate, wounded one badly in the body, which
pulled up for a moment, and then followed behind
the rest.
La Ronde, utterly disgusted, refused to follow
them, and vowed that never again would he lead the
absent-minded Cheadle up to buffalo. He declared
that he had waited a full half hour, expecting him to
shoot, and then being impatient, he whistled softly;
one of the bulls arose, presenting his broadside; and
he thought that surely that fine chance would be
taken. Again he waited a long time, and then waved
his cap as a signal to fire, but in vain. At last, in a
fit of despair and rage, he jumped up and shouted as
before related.
After a short rest, and having somewhat recovered
their equanimity, they again set out, and soon
observed a herd of twelve feeding, still undisturbed.
As they had already nearly enough meat, it was
agreed to give the boy a chance, and he accordingly
Mil I •*>mf
crept up to them alone, whilst the rest lay in wait for
a chance as they passed. But the young one missed
his mark, and the herd went off in the wrong direction, out of the reach of the two in ambush.
Ill luck ruled the day, but La Ronde said, " Try
it again;" and as the last herd had not fairly seen
their enemies, they pulled up about a mile distant,
and began to feed slowly along. After alternately
racing at full speed, when out of view, and crawling,
stealthily over exposed places for miles, continually
finding the animals had moved off by the time the
place where they were last seen was reached, the
hunters succeeded in ensconcing themselves behind a
hillock on the other side of which the buffalo were
feeding, and moving on round the base toward them.
It was now La Ronde's turn to have the first shot,
and as soon as the fore-quarters of the leader of the
band moved slowly into view, some twenty yards
off, he fired. As the animal did not drop instantly,
Cheadle, who was determined not to return empty-
handed after all, and had covered him carefully,
dropped him with a second shot behind the shoulder.
La Ronde was highly indignant at his conduct, and
declared it was unsportsmanlike, but was much chagrined to'find, on cutting up the animal, that his own
shot had merely passed through the shoulder-blade
without breaking it, and the animal would doubtless
have escaped but for the second bullet, which passed
through the heart. This beast proved a splendid
young bull of three years old, with a magnificent
skin, and a mane with hair half a yard in length
':;?!!- LOST   ON   THE   PRAIRIE   AT   NIGHT.
Before the animal was cut up, and the meat packed
on the horses, which they had this time brought with
them, night had already come on.
The chase had led them six or seven miles from
camp, and the young moon had nearly gone down. La
Ronde, however, pressed confidently forward, although
it seemed impossible to find the way in the dark
through a country of such uniform character. After
travelling several hours, he ' stopped all at once, and
began striking sparks with flint and steel, to enable
him to see the old track near the camp. It could not
be found, however, although La Ronde very positively
asserted that it must be close at hand, and the camp
itself within a few hundred yards of the place where
they stood. La Ronde had steered his course entirely
by the stars, and judged by the direction, and time,
and rate of travelling, that they must be close to their
destination. All were impressed with the idea that
the camp lay to the right, and a divergence was made
for a few hundred yards in that direction; but no
landmarks could be made out, and it was resolved to
camp for the night in a copse of small poplars. A
pack of wolves kept up a continual howling, snapping,
and growling at a little distance to the left, and
Cheadle was very anxious to move there, thinking it
probable that they were quarrelling over the meat
that had been left packed on the sledges in the camp.
But La Ronde dissuaded him, saying he was sure the
camp lay to the right, and the wolves would not dare
to enter so soon a place strewed with blankets and
other property of men.
I 96
The night was bright and very cold, and the fire
miserably small, the only dry wood to be found being
a few dead saplings of aspen, the size of pea-rods.
Blankets and buffalo robes had been left in the old
camp, and the hunters were little better off than they
had been a few nights before. The covering this time
was a large waterproof sheet, which had been brought
to roll up meat in, and was, if possible, less efficient
than the raw hide had been. The moisture of the
breath condensed and froze in cakes inside the sheet,
and all advantage from sleeping with head under the
covering was thus lost. As in the previous adventure,
sleep was not to be obtained, and the similar weary
watch for daylight, stamping about, mending the tiny
fire, and observing the progress of Orion, and listening
to the snapping and growling of the wolves, seemed
Since, however, it was nearly midnight when the
search for the camp was given up, the season of misery
lasted, in reality, little more than half as long as
before, although, for its duration, the hardship was
quite as severe.
At daybreak La Ronde reconnoitred, and discovered that the camp was within 300 or 400 yards
to the left; and, when approached, showed ominous
marks of disorder. The wolves had been dividing the
spoils, as Cheadle shrewdly suspected. The whole of
Misquapamayoo's little store, consisting of choice
morsels, which he had prepared and packed with
nicest care, was gone, and nearly the whole of one
sleigh load beside.    The new supply, however, almost made up for the loss; and the horses were therefore
at once harnessed to the sleighs, and all speed made
for Fort Milton once more.
The journey home was slow and tedious. Although there had been no regular thaw, the warm sun
had melted the snow on the hill sides and southern
slopes, and the labour of dragging the loaded sleighs
over the bare ground was so harassing to the horses,
that but short stages could be made, and those at a slow
pace. At one point the way lay across a large lake.
The snow on this had almost entirely disappeared, and
the horses fell so continually over the bare ice, that
the attempt to take them across was obliged to be
abandoned.     Misquapamayoo's Lilliputian   steed in
I particular, whose feet were small as those of a deer,
was utterly unable to stand on the slippery surface,
and for a long time it seemed as if the only chance of
getting him off again would be to drag him to terra
firma by the tail. The horses had now to be taken out
of the sleighs, which were drawn by hand across the
lake, and a road cut through the woods which skirted
the banks, whereby the horses were led round to the
further side. This operation occupied a whole
morning, and it was not until the evening of the fifth
day of travelling that the party reached La Belle
Prairie, after an absence of twelve days.
One little incident of the journey home serves to
illustrate the rough and ready manner of proceeding
characteristic of the voyageurs. One of the sleighs in
passing along the side of a steep hill, upset, overturning with it the horse, who lay helplessly on his
H 98
back, with his legs kicking in the air. Cheadle was
proceeding to unharness him; but La Ronde cried,
| Ah ! non, Monsieur, pas besoin;" and both lifting
together, they sent horse and sleigh rolling over and
over down the hill, until at last they came right side
up, and the train proceeded.
Great was the delight of Milton and Bruneau at
the happy return, and Keenamontiayoo and some
Indians who were at the house were not slow to assist
in the feast of fresh meat, which lasted far into the
night, the party from the plains enjoying, on their
part, the luxury of bread.
Truly the pleasures of eating are utterly unknown
in civilised life.
Mil 1 it
fi'f #?•
Trapping—The Fur-Bearing Animals—Value of different Furs—The
Trapper's Start into the Forest—How to make a Marten Trap—
Steel Traps for Wolves and Foxes—The Wolverine—The Way he
gets a Living — His Destructiveness and Persecution of the
Trapper—His Cunning—His Behaviour when caught in a Trap—
La Bonde's Stories of the Carcajou—The Trapper's Life—The
Vast Forest in Winter—Sleeping Out—The Walk of Indians and
Half-breeds—Their Instinct in the Woods—The Wolverine Demolishes our Traps—Attempts to Poison Him—Treemiss's Arrival
—He relates his Adventures—A Scrimmage in the Dark—The
Giant Tamboot—His Fight with Atahk-akoohp—Prowess of Tamboot—Decide to send our Men to Bed Biver for Supplies—Delays.
The supply of meat which we had obtained being
sufficient for some time, we stored it up on the platform out of doors, to be preserved by the frost, and
turned our attention to trapping in the woods. Our
attempts had hitherto been confined to setting a few
small steel traps round the lake, and placing poisoned
baits for the wolves. But we were now desirous to
fly at higher game, and, far in the depths of the vast
pine forest, seek trophies sure to be gratefully received
when presented to dear friends of the fair sex at home.
The animals which furnish the valuable furs from this
region are the silver and cross foxes, the fisher, marten,
otter, mink, and lynx—whilst amongst those of less
worth are the wolverine, beaver, ermine, and musk-
h 2
W 100
rat. The beaver was formerly found in great numbers,
and its peltry highly prized ; but from the assiduity
with which it was hunted, it has now become comparatively scarce; and from the substitution of silk for
beaver skin in the manufacture of hats, the latter has
become almost worthless. Of tR furs, with the single
exception of the sea-otter, which is found only on
the' Pacific coast, the silver fox commands the highest
price. The fur of the silver fox is of a beautiful
grey; the white hairs, which predominate, being tipped
with black, and mixed with others of pure black. A
well-matched pair of silver fox skins are worth from
£80 to £100. The cross foxes, so called from the dark
stripe down the back, with a cross over the shoulders
like that on a donkey, vary in every degree between
the silver and the common red fox; and the value of
their skins varies in the same ratio. After the best
cross foxes come the fisher, the marten, and the mink.
These three are all animals of the pole-cat tribe, and
both in size and value may be classed in the order in
which they have been mentioned. The skin of a fisher
fetches from sixteen shillings to thirty shillings; a
marten, fifteen shillings to twenty-three shillings; and
a mink, from ten shillings to fifteen shillings. The
otter, which is less common than the two last named,
commands a price of one shilling an inch, measured
from the head to the tip of the tail. The ermine is)
exceedingly common in the forests of the North-West,
and is a nuisance to the trapper, destroying the baits
set for the marten and fisher. It is generally considered of too little value to be the  object of the
trapper's pursuit. The black bear is also occasionally
discovered in his winter's hole, and his skin is worth
about forty shillings. The lynx is by no means uncommon, and generally taken by snares of hide. When
caught, he remains passive and helpless, and is easily
knocked on the head by the hunter. The other denizens of the forest are the moose, and smaller game,
such as the common wood partridge, or willow grouse,
the pine partridge, the rabbit, and the squirrel. By
far the most numerous of the more valuable fur
animals in this region are the marten and the mink,
and to the capture of the former of these two—the
sable of English furriers—the exertions of the trapper
are principally directed. At the beginning of November, when the animals have got their winter coats, and
fur is "in season," the trapper prepares his pack,
which he makes in the following manner I—Folding
his blanket double, he places in it a lump of pemmi:
can, sufficient for five or six days' consumption, a tin
kettle and cup, and, if he is rich, some steel traps, and
a little tea and salt. The blanket is then tied at the
four corners, and slung on the back by a band across
the chest. A gun and ammunition, axe, knife, and
fire-bag, complete his equipment. Tying on a pair of
snow-shoes, he starts alone into the gloomy woods—
trudging silently forward—for the hunter or trapper
can never lighten the solitude of his journey by
whistling or a song. His keen eye scans every mark
upon the snow for the tracks he seeks. When he
observes the footprints of marten or fisher, he un-
slings   his   pack, and  sets   to work to construct   a
s ; lip 'ii
"dead fall," or wooden trap, after the following
manner. Having cut down a number of saplings,
these are divided into stakes of about a yard in
length, which are driven into the ground so as to
form a palisade, in the shape of half an oval, cut
transversely. Across the entrance to this little enclosure, which is of a length to admit about two-
thirds of the animal's body, and too narrow to admit
of its fairly entering in and turning round, a short
log is laid. A tree of considerable size is next felled,
denuded of its branches, and so laid that it rests upon.
the log at the entrance in a parallel direction. The
bait, which is generally a bit of tough dried meat,
or a piece of a partridge or squirrel, is placed on the
point of a short stick. This is projected horizontally
into the enclosure, and on the external end of it rests
another short stick, placed perpendicularly, which
supports the large tree laid across the entrance. The
top of the trap is then covered in with bark and
branches, so that the only means of access to the bait
is by the opening between the propped-up tree and
the log beneath. When the bait is seized, the tree
falls down upon the animal and crushes him to death.
An expert trapper will make forty or fifty traps
in a single day.
The steel traps resemble our ordinary rat-traps,
but have no teeth, and the springs are double. In
the large traps used for beavers, foxes, and wolves,
these have to be made so powerful that it requires
all the force of a strong man to set them. They
are placed in the snow, and carefully covered over;
•!fc.rf.v   THE  WOLVERINE-
fragments of meat are scattered about, and the place
smoothed down, so as to leave no trace. To the
trap is attached a chain, with a ring at the free extremity, through which a stout stake is passed, and
left otherwise unattached. When an animal is caught
—generally by the leg, as he digs in the snow for the
hidden morsels—he carries off the trap for a short
distance, but is soon brought up by the stake getting
entangled across the trees and fallen timber, and is
rarely able to travel any great distance before being
discovered by the trapper.
The fur-hunter's greatest enemy is the North
American glutton, or, as he is commonly called, the
wolverine or carcajou. This curious animal is rather
larger than an English fox, with a long body, stoutly
and compactly made, mounted on exceedingly short
legs of great strength. His broad feet are armed
with powerful claws, and his track in the snow is as
large as the print of a man's fist. The shape of his
head, and his hairy coat, give him very much the
appearance of a shaggy brown dog.
During the winter months he obtains a livelihood
by availing himself of the labours of the trapper, and
such serious injury does he inflict, that he has
received from the Indians the name of Kekwaharkess,
or the " Evil One." With untiring perseverance he
hunts day and night for the trail of man, and when it
is found follows it unerringly. When he comes to a
lake, where the track is generally drifted over, he
continues his untiring gallop round its borders, to
discover the point at which it again enters the woods, Faffi
and again follows it until he arrives at one of the wooden
tra*ps. Avoiding the door, he speedily tears open an
entrance at the back, and seizes the bait with impunity ; or if the trap contains an animal, he drags it
out, and, with wanton malevolence, mauls it and hides
it at some distance in the underwood, or at the top of
some lofty pine. Occasionally, when hard pressed by
hunger, he devours it. In this manner he demolishes
the whole series of traps, and when once a wolverine
has established himself on a trapping-walk, the
hunter's only chance for success is to change ground
and build a fresh lot of traps, trusting to secure a few
furs before the new path is found out by his industrious enemy.
Strange stories are related by the trappers of the
extraordinary cunning of this animal, which they
believe to possess a wisdom almost human. He is
never caught by the ordinary | dead fall." Occasionally one is poisoned, or caught in a steel trap; but
his strength is so great, that many traps strong
enough to hold securely a large wolf will not retain
the wolverine. When caught in this way, he does
not, like the fox and the mink, proceed to amputate
the limb, but, assisting to carry the trap with his
mouth, makes all haste to reach a lake or river, where
he can hasten forward at speed, unobstructed by trees
and fallen wood. After travelling far enough to be
tolerably safe from pursuit for a time, he devotes
himself to the extrication of the imprisoned limb, in
which he not unfrequently succeeds. The wolverine
is also sometimes killed by a gun, placed bearing on a STORIES   OF   THE   WOLVERINE.
bait, to which is attached a string communicating
with the trigger. La Ronde assured us most solemnly
that on several occasions the carcajou had been far too
cunning for him, first approaching the gun and gnawing, in two the cord communicating with the trigger,
and then securely devouring the bait.
In one instance, when every device to deceive his
persecutor had been at once seen through, and utterly
futile, he adopted the plan of placing the gun in a
tree, with the muzzle pointing vertically downwards
upon the bait. This was suspended from a branch,
at such a height that the animal could not reach it
without jumping. The gun was fastened high up in
the tree, completely screened from view by the
branches. Now, the wolverine is an animal troubled
with exceeding curiosity. He investigates everything ; an old moccasin thrown aside in the bushes,
or a knife lost in the snow, are ferreted out and
examined, and anything suspended almost out of
reach generally offers an irresistible temptation. But
in the case related by La Ronde the carcajou restrained
his curiosity and hunger for the time, climbed the
tree, cut the cords which bound the gun, which
thus tumbled harmless to the ground, and then,
descending, secured the bait without danger. Poison
and all kinds of traps having already failed, La Ronde
was fairly beaten and driven off the ground.
For the truth of this particular story we, of course,
do not pretend to vouch, but would merely observe
that our own subsequent experience fully proved the
wolverine   to  be   an   animal  of wonderful   sagacity
w 106
and resource; and that, supposing the gun to have
been set, and afterwards found cut down as related,
there is little doubt that La Ronde interpreted the
mode of procedure with perfect correctness. An
Indian or half-breed reads the signs left behind as
easily and truly as if he had been present and witnessed the whole transaction. In other instances,
where we have had ample opportunities of judging,
we never detected a mistake in their reading of'the
language of tracks—marks left printed on that
book the hunter reads so well, the face of Nature.
Until nearly the end of December we employed
ourselves by accompanying La Ronde on his trapping
expeditions. We were taught to distinguish the
track of every animal found in the forest, and learnt
much of their habits and peculiarities. Cheadle was
especially fascinated by this branch of the hunter's
craft, and pursued it with such diligence and success,
that he was very soon able to' make a trap and set it
almost as quickly and skilfully as his accomplished
preceptor, La Ronde. There is something strangely
attractive in the life, in spite of the hardships and
fatigues which attend it. The long, laborious march,
loaded with a heavy pack, and cumbered with a
quantity of thick clothing, through snow and woods
beset with fallen timber and underwood, is fatiguing
' DO
enough. The only change is the work of making the
traps, or the rest at night in camp. Provisions
usually fall short, and the trapper subsists, in great
measure, upon the flesh of the animals captured to
obtain the fur.    But, on the other hand, the grand OUT   IN   THE   WOODS   IN   WINTER.
beauty of the forest, whose pines, some of which tower
up above 200 feet in height, are decked and wreathed
with snow, and where no sound is heard, except the
. occasional chirrup of a squirrel, or the explosions of
trees cracking with intense frost, excites admiration
and stimulates curiosity. The intense stillness and
solitude, the travelling day after day through endless
woods without meeting a sign of man, and rarely
seeing a living creature, strikes very strangely on the
mind at first. The half-breed trapper delights in wandering alone in the forest f but Cheadle, who tried the
experiment for two days, found the silence and loneliness so oppressive as to be quite unbearable.
The interest in the pursuit was constantly kept up
by the observation of tracks, the interpretation of their
varied stories, and the account of the different habits
of the animals as related by our companion. There
is also no small amount of excitement in visiting the
traps previously made, to see whether they contain the
looked-for prize, or whether all the fruits of hard labour
have been destroyed by the vicious wolverine.
At night, lying on a soft, elastic couch of pine
boughs, at his feet a roaring fire of great trees heaped
high, from which rises an enormous column of smoke
and steam from the melted snow, the trapper, rolled
up in his blanket, sleeps in peace. Sometimes, however, when the cold is very intense, or the wind blows
strongly, a single blanket is but poor protection. The
huge fire is inadequate to prevent the freezing of one
extremity, while it scorches the other, and sleep is
impossible, or, if obtained, quickly broken by an aching
iisiii \*n
:ii 108
cold in every limb as the fire burns low. On these
winter nights the Northern Lights were often very
beautiful. Once or twice we observed them in the
form of a complete arch, like a rainbow of roseate
hues, from which the changing, fitful gleams streamed
up to meet at the zenith.
After we had been out a day or two, our provisions
generally came to an end, and we lived on partridges
and the animals we trapped. As soon as the skins of
the martens and fishers were removed, their bodies
were stuck on the end of a stick, and put to roast
before the fire, looking like so many skewered cats.
These animals not only smell uncommonly like a ferret,
but their flesh is of an intensely strong and disgusting
flavour, exactly corresponding to the odour, so that a
very strong stomach and good appetite is required to
face such a meal. The trapper's camp in the woods is
always attended by the little blue and white magpie,
who, perched on a bough close by, waits for his portion
of scraps from the meal. These birds invariably " turn
up" immediately after camp is made, and are so tame
and bold that they will even steal the meat out of the
cooking-pot standing by the fire.
The snow was at this time not more than eight
inches deep, and we did not as yet use snow-shoes in
the woods, where the brushwood and fallen timber
rendered them somewhat awkward encumbrances. But
the walking was consequently very fatiguing, and we
reached home, after five or six days' absence, invariably
very much wearied and jaded. On these excursions
we were much struck, amongst other things, with the
great difference between the walk of an Indian or half-
breed and our own. We had before observed that,
when apparently sauntering quietly along, they went
past us with the greatest ease, even when we flattered
ourselves we were going at a very respectable pace.
This was now, in a great measure, explained. In
walking in the snow, in Indian file, we observed La
Ronde's great length of stride; and Cheadle, in particular, who prided himself upon his walking powers, was
much chagrined to find that he could not tread in La
Ronde's footsteps without springing from one to the
next. Afterwards he discovered that his longest
stride was only just equal to that of the little Misqua-
pamayoo !
The superiority of the Indian in this respect,
doubtless, results from the habitual use of moccasins,
which allow full play to the elastic bend of the foot.
This is impeded by the stiff sole of an ordinary boot.
The muscles of an Indian's foot are so developed, that
it appears plump and chubby as that of a child.
Misquapamayoo continually derided the scraggy appearance of our pedal extremities, and declared there
must be something very faulty in their original construction.
The unerring fidelity with which our guide followed
a straight course in one direction in the dense forest,
where no landmarks could be seen, in days when the
sun was not visible, nor a breath of air stirring, seemed
to us almost incomprehensible. La Ronde was unable
to explain the power which he possessed, and considered
it as quite a natural faculty.    Cheadle, on the other 110
hand, found it quite impossible to preserve a straight
course, and invariably began to describe a circle, by
bearing continually towards the left; and this weakness was quite incomprehensible to La Ronde, who
looked upon it as the most arrant stupidity.
Hitherto no wolverine had annoyed us, and we
succeeded in accumulating a nice collection of furs.
But at last, when starting to visit our walk, we
observed the tracks of one of very large size, which
had followed our trail, and La Ronde at once declared,
" C'est fini, monsieur; il a casse toutes notres etrappes,
vous allez voir :" and sure enough, as we came to each
in succession, we found it broken open at the back,
the bait taken, and, where an animal had been caught,
it was carried off. Throughout the whole line everyone had been demolished, and we discovered the tails
of no less than ten martens, the bodies of which had
apparently been devoured by the hungry and successful carcajou.
We had on a former occasion suspended small
poisoned baits, wrapped in old moccasins or other
covering, on the bushes at different points. One of
these the wolverine had pulled down, unwrapped it,
and bitten the bait in two. Terrified at the discovery
that it was poisoned, he had rushed away at full speed
from the dangerous temptation. It was useless to set
the traps again, and we thereupon returned home disconsolate, La Ronde cursing, with all his might, " le
sacre" carcajou."
One day the crows, which always announced the
presence  of any  one on the lake by a tremendous THE   GIANT   TAMBOOT.
cawing, gave their usual signal of an arrival
out on to the lake, we saw severaj. sleighs advancing
across it, the bells on the harness jingling merrily in
the  frosty   air,  as   the dogs  galloped  along.     Our
visitors proved to be Treemiss and a party from the
Fort, on  a  trading expedition  amongst the Wood
Treemiss had met with various adventures since
we had last seen him, and in one instance was in some
danger of losing his life. Atahk-akoohp, the hunter,
came one evening, with several others, into his hut,
aE half drunk, and importuned him to trade for furs.
Vexed by Treemiss's refusal to do so, he threw a
marten-skin violently into his face. Irritated by the
insult, Treemiss struck him with his fist. In an
instant all was uproar and confusion; knives flashed
out, the candle was kicked over and extinguished, and
all were groping and stabbing at Treemiss in the
dark. Summarily upsetting an Indian who opposed
his passage, he made for his gun, which lay near the
door, seized it, and made good his escape outside, not,
however, before receiving several slight cuts and stabs
through his clothes.
He waited, gun in hand, ready for his assailants,
listening with anxiety to a terrible commotion which
was going on inside. Atahk-akoohp, the aggressor,
a man of lofty stature and powerful build, he knew
to be savage in the extreme when aroused. But he
had a friend within. He had shown much kindness
to a half-breed named Tamboot, a man of still more
gigantic build and strength than Atahk-akoohp, and
i[!f ill
■Hill UII
Ml I. 112
this fellow now stepped forth in his might as the
champion of his friend. Seizing the huge form of
Atahk-akoohp, he raised him in his arms like a child,
and dashed him on the floor with such violence, that
he lay almost senseless, and was so much injured that
for above a week afterwards he was unable to leave his
bed; then, declaring he would serve each in turn in
the same manner, if they offered to lay a hand on his
benefactor, he made the rest sullenly retire. Tamboot
had previously killed two of his enemies by sheer
exertion of force, without using a weapon; and his
reputation for courage and strength stood so high,
that none dared to interfere, and thus peace was once
more restored.
Our stock of flour and tea having by this time
become exceedingly low, and as but a small quantity
of the latter only could be obtained at Carlton, we
decided to send the men back to Red River for a
supply of these necessaries required for our journey
forwards in the spring. We accordingly engaged the
Indian hunter, Keenamontiayoo, and his boy, Misqua-
pamayoo, to assist us in hunting, and perform any
services we might require during their absence.
Some delay, however, occurred before this plan could
be put into execution, owing to the illness of La
Ronde. During this time we were all detained at
home, and the days passed by in somewhat dreary
monotony. CHAPTER VIII.
Milton visits Carlton—Fast Travelling—La Bonde and Bruneau set
out for Fort Garry—Trapping with Misquapamayoo—Machinations against the Wolverine—The Animals' Fishery—The Wolverine Outwits us—Beturn Home—The Cree Language—How an
Indian tells a Story—New Year's Day among the Crees—To the
Prairies again—The Oold—Travelling with Dog-sleighs—Out in
the Snow—Our New Attendants — Prospect of Starvation—A
Day of Expectation—A Bapid Betreat—The Journey Home—
Indian Voracity—Bes Angusta Domi—Cheadle's Journey to the
Fort—Perversity of his Companions—" The Hunter" yields to
Temptation—Milton's Visit to Kekek-ooarsis—A Medicine Feast
—The New Song—Cheadle's Journey Home—Isbister and his
Dogs—Mahaygun, " The Wolf"—Pride and Starvation—Our
Meeting at White Fish Lake.
On the morning of the 24th of December, Milton
harnessed our three Indian dogs to the little sleigh,
and set out with Bruneau for the Fort. La Ronde
remained with Cheadle at the hut, engaging to join
the others at Carlton as soon as sufficiently recovered.
Misquapamayoo had also arrived, to commence his
service as attendant on Cheadle. We both spent
our Christmas Eve somewhat drearily—Milton camping in the snow, half-way to Carlton, supping on
pemmican and gallette, and Cheadle, in the hut,
faring likewise; but the latter,^ feeling very dismal
and un-Christmaslike, he and La Ronde unearthed
the hidden rum cask, and established a weak conviviality by the aid of hot punch.
Milton and Bruneau went merrily along on their
way to the Fort. The road had just been well beaten
by the passage of trains to La Crosse; a slight thaw
had followed, and the track was now frozen hard, so
that the dogs galloped away with the lightly-laden
sleigh at a tremendous pace over the ice. The two
followed at speed, occasionally jumping on to the
sleigh for a time, to gain breath again. But the cold
was too great to allow a very long ride, and running
was soon resumed. They travelled with such expedition, that although it was afternoon when they left
the hut, they travelled at least thirty miles before
nightfall, camping beyond the crossing of the Shell
River. Milton, eager beyond measure to arrive at the
Fort in time to share the Christmas festivities, arose
in the middle of the night, and succeeded in convincing Bruneau that it was nearly daybreak. They
therefore harnessed the dogs and started again. To
their surprise, the moon rose instead of the sun, but
they kept on their way, and daybreak appeared after
several hours. They arrived at Carlton just in time
to sit down to Mr. Lillie's Christmas dinner, having
accomplished the journey of eighty miles in the
wonderfully short time of twenty-six hours. Plum
pudding and a bottle of sherry graced the board, and
were both done full justice to by the company.
La Ronde came in on the 27th, and on the following day set out with Bruneau on their distant journey.
They took with them two dog-sleighs, and the best LITTLE   MISQUAPAMAYOO.
train of dogs to be obtained at Carlton. The provision they expected to bring was four sacks of flour
and thirty or forty pounds of tea; and the journey of
600 miles and back would occupy at least two
months. The snow was now so deep that a track
would require to be trodden out with snow-shoes to
enable the dogs to travel, and the undertaking was
certain to be very laborious. The route they intended
to take was by Touchwood Hills and Fort Pelly on
to the Manitobah Lake; and thence to Fort Garry.
Cheadle, now left with only the Indian boy,
went off into the woods to make another attempt to
circumvent his ancient enemy, the wolverine. With
pack slung on his back, gun on shoulder, and axe in
belt, little Misquapamayoo stalked along to lead the
way, with all the dignity and confidence of a practised
hunter. No track or sign escaped his observant eye,
and he made and set traps, arranged the camp, cut
wood, and cooked meals, with the readiness and skill
of an old trapper. The heavier work of wood-
chopping and the weightier pack fell, of course, to
Cheadle's share; but Misquapamayoo was indefatigable
in performing everything in his power, and this was
by no means contemptible, for he could carry weights
and use an axe in a manner which would have surprised an English boy of the same age. He assumed
an air of grave superiority over his companion in all
things relating to the hunter's or voyageur's craft
which was very amusing, although certainly justified
by the facts of the case.
The two spent their time in the woods merrily
i ?.
).    P;ifl
££ 116
enough, for it was impossible to be dull with such a
lively, light-hearted companion as Misquapamayoo.
This may perhaps be thought strange when it is stated
that Cheadle, when he set out, did not know more
than two or three words of the Cree language. Yet
this very circumstance was a prolific source of amusement, and nothing delighted the boy more than to
instruct his companion, falling into fits of laughter at
his mispronunciations and mistakes. The easy manner
in which communication was carried on between
the two, each ignorant of the other's language, was
very astonishing. But Misquapamayoo appeared to
divine by instinct what was required, and it seemed
difficult to believe at first that he really did not understand a word of English. The perceptions of an
Indian are so nice, his attention so constantly on the
alert, and his conclusions so rapidly formed, that he
draws inferences from general signs with great readiness and accuracy.
The wolverine had renewed his visits along the
line of traps, and broken all which had been reconstructed, devouring the animals which had been
caught. Cheadle now adopted a device which he
flattered himself would catch the enemy in his own
toils. All the broken traps were repaired and set
again, and poisoned baits substituted for the ordinary
ones in the traps—not in every instance, but here and
there along the line.
The forest in which we hunted commenced on the
further side of our lake, stretching away to the north
apparently  indefinitely.    This  was  broken  only by
if! numerous lakes and swamps, and patches of timber
which had been burnt. The lakes are always sought
by the trapper, not only because they enable him to
travel more rapidly, and penetrate further into the less'
hunted regions, but also because the edges of the lakes,
and the portages between them, are favourite haunts
of the fox, the fisher, and the mink. On one of these
lakes a curious circumstance was observed. The lake
was about half a mile in length, and of nearly equal
breadth, but of no great depth. The water had seemingly frozen to the bottom, except at one end, where
a spring bubbled up, and a hole of about a yard in
diameter existed in the covering of ice, which was there
only a few inches thick. The water in this hole was
crowded with myriads of small fish, most of them not
much larger than a man's finger, and so closely packed
that they could not move freely. On thrusting in an
arm, it seemed like plunging it into a mass of thick stirabout. The snow was beaten down all round hard and
level as a road, by the numbers of animals which flocked
to the Lenten feast. Tracks converged from every
side. Here were the footprints of the cross or silver fox,
delicately impressed in the snow as he trotted daintily
along with light and airy tread; the rough marks of
the clumsier fisher; the clear, sharply-defined track of
the active mink ; and the great coarse trail of the ever-
galloping, ubiquitous wolverine. Scores of crows
perched on the trees around, sleepily digesting their
frequent meals. Judging by the state of the snow and
collection of dung, the consumption must have gone on
for weeks, yet the supply seemed as plentiful as ever.
I IT' ,w.\
This circumstance afforded an explanation of the
fact that many of the rivers and fresh-water lakes in
this country - are destitute of fish, as all but the
deeper ones freeze to the bottom, and therefore any
fish they contained would be destroyed.
When the trappers turned homewards they found
that the wolverine had followed them closely. On the
ground which they had passed over on the previous
day, every trap was already demolished and the
baits abstracted. Cheadle fondly imagined that at
last his enemy was outwitted and destroyed, but
Misquapamayoo's sharper eyes discovered each of
the baits which had been poisoned, lying close at
hand, bitten in two and rejected, whilst all the
others had disappeared. The baits had been made
with great care, the strychnine being inserted into
the centre of the meat by a small hole, and when
frozen it was impossible to distinguish any difference
in appearance between them and the harmless ones.
It seemed as if the animal suspected poison, and bit
in two and tasted every morsel before swallowing it.
The baits had purposely been made very small, so
that in the ordinary course they would have been
bolted whole. That the same wolverine had frequented our path from the first, we knew perfectly
well, for he was one of unusually large size, as
shown by his tracks, which were readily distinguishable from the others we observed from time to time.
On the 28th of December, Milton left Carlton,
and resting one night at Treemiss's hut, arrived the
following day at La Belle Prairie.    Cheadle and Mis- quapamayoo had come in just before, and a very pleasant evening was spent in talking over all that had
happened during the separation.
Associating entirely with Indians until the return
of our men, we rapidly picked up the Cree language,
and in the course of a few weeks could speak it
fluently if not grammatically. Nothing is easier than
to get a decent smattering of Cree, although the
construction of the language is extremely intricate.
The name of many articles is the explanation of their
use or properties, the word being a combination of a
participle and noun, the latter generally the word
gun, " a thing;" as parshisi-gun, a " shooting thing;"
miniquacM-gun, a " drinking thing" or cup. This
also appears in their proper names, which are generally descriptions of some personal peculiarity; as in
the names Kekek-ooarsis and Keenamontiayoo, which
have been mentioned before. The consonants d,f and /
are not found in the Cree alphabet, and the Indians
find great difficulty in pronouncing the two first when
trying to use English words. The appropriate gestures and expressive pantomime with which an Indian
illustrates his speech, render it easy to understand.
We soon learnt to interpret without much difficulty
the long hunting stories with which Keenamontiayoo
whiled away the evenings in our hut. The scene
described was partly acted; the motions of the game,
the stealthy approach of the hunter, the taking aim,
the shot, the cry of the animal, or the noise of its
dashing away, and the pursuit, were all given as the
tale went on.
II 'W*?*
We had arranged with Keenamontiayoo to
start with him in a few days for the plains, intending
to pay a visit to a small camp of Wood Crees, who
we had heard were hunting buffalo about eighty miles
off. We were, however, astonished on the evening of
the last day of the year, by the arrival not only of
the Hunter, but Kekek-ooarsis also, with their wives,
children, and relatives. They seemed very much
delighted with themselves, and were very complimentary to us. All quietly settled down and began to
smoke. It was plain they intended to stay some
time with us. As our room was so extremely small,
we found it inconvenient to accommodate so many
visitors, but all our efforts to understand their explanations were in vain, and we had to make the best
of it.
On the following morning we were somewhat
enlightened. At daybreak the men got up, and fired
off a great many shots in honour of the new year.
Then ensued a general shaking of hands all round,
and a kissing of the women and children. The
latter part of the ceremony we, however, very uu-
gallantly omitted. We subsequently learnt that it is
the custom for those who have nothing wherewith
to feast, to visit their friends who may be in greater
plenty; and our neighbours thought that they could
not do better than with us. As they had come, we
hastened our departure, and set out with Keenamontiayoo and his son, leaving old Kekek-ooarsis and
the women in charge of the house until our return.
We took with us two dog-sleighs, and travelled iff
lis snow-shoes, for the snow had now become far too
deep to move without them. We had used them for
short distances for some time, and had become
tolerably expert, but found marching all day long in
them very fatiguing at first. The Hunter led the
way, his son followed driving one train of dogs,
and we came next with the other.
After travelling a day and a half, we diverged
from the track that La Ronde had taken, and steered
a point or two more west. The country was, as
before, a mixture of woods, lakes, and patches of
open prairie, somewhat hilly, and difficult for sleighs.
The weather turned intensely cold—far more severe
than any we had before experienced. Light showers
of snyw fell in minute particles, as it were frozen
dew, when the sun was shining brightly and the sky
without a cloud. Clothed in three or four flannel
shirts, one of duffel, and a leather shirt; our hands
encased in "mittaines," or large gloves of moose-
skin lined with duffel, made without fingers, large
enough to admit of being easily doffed on occasion,
and carried slung by a band round the neck; our
feet swathed in bands of duffel, covered by enormous
moccasins; and our ears and necks protected by a
curtain of fur, we were yet hardly able to keep warm
with the most active exercise; and when we stayed
to camp, shivered and shook as we essayed to light
a fire.
Masses of ice, the size of a man's fist, formed on
Cheadle's beard and moustache—the only ones in the
company—from the moisture of the breath freezing
as it passed through the hair. The oil froze in the '
pipes we carried about our persons, so that it was
necessary to thaw them at the fire before they could
be made to draw. The hands could hardly be exposed for a moment, except when close to the fire.
A bare finger laid upon iron stuck to it as if glued,
from the instantaneous freezing of its moisture. The
snow melted only close to the fire, which formed a
trench for itself, in which it slowly sank to the level
of the ground. The steam rose in clouds, and in
the coldest, clearest weather, it almost shrouded the
fire from view. The snow was light and powdery,
and did not melt beneath, the warmth of the foot, so
that our moccasins were as dry on a journey as if we
had walked through sawdust instead of snow. The
parchment windows of our little hut were so small
and opaque, that we could hardly see even to eat by
their light alone, and were generally obliged to have
the door open; and then, although the room was
very small, and the fire-place very large, a crust of
ice formed over the tea in our tin cups, as we sat
within a yard of the roaring fire. One effect of
the cold was to give a most ravenous appetite for
fat. Many a time have we.eaten great lumps of
hard grease—rancid tallow, used for making candles
■without bread or anything to modify-it. (})
(J) Fat seems to be the swmmwm oonwm in everything, according
to Indian and half-breed tastes. They say, " What a fine horse! he's
as fat as possible !" " What a fine woman! how fat she is!" and the
same of men, dogs, and everything. And fat is very important in
that country. It is the most valuable part of food in winter, and
horses and dogs will not stand work in the cold, unless fat. When well sheltered by woods, and with an
enormous fire blazing at our feet, sleeping in the
open air was pleasant enough. Tents are not used
for winter travelling, as the huge fire could not be
made available. On arriving at the ground we
selected for a camp, every one set to work as quickly
as possible. One unharnessed the dogs and unpacked
the sleighs; another collected dry logs; a third cut
fine chips, and started the fire; while the fourth
shovelled away the snow in front of the fire with a
snow-shoe, and strewed the bare ground with pine
branches. Then all squatted down, smoking and
superintending the cooking of supper, the hungry
dogs seated round, waiting anxiously for their share.
A pipe and talk followed, and then each rolled
himself in his blankets or buffalo robe, covering
head and all, placed his feet as near to the fire
as he dare, and slept. All huddled together as closely
as possible, and when silence had reigned some time,
the dogs crept softly in towards the fire, and lay
between us, or at our feet. Before sleeping, however,
it was necessary to secure out of reach of the dogs not
only provisions, but snow-shoes, harness, and everything with any skin or leather about it. An Indian
dog will devour almost anything of animal origin,
and invariably eats his own harness, or his master's
. snow-shoes, if left within his reach.
Our new attendants showed us the greatest attention, and indeed were extremely proud of serving
the Soniow Okey Mow, and the Muskeeky Okey
Mow, as they had named us, which, being  inter-
tin it 124
preted, signifies the "Great Golden Chief," and
I My Master, the Great Medicine." And we
found constant amusement over our camp-fire at
night in teaching them English words, and learning
Cree. The circumstance that there were some words
which were almost identical in the two languages—
words which had been adopted from one language
into the other—struck them as very ludicrous, and
they never tired of laughing over pemmicarn, " pemmican ;" muskisin, " moccasin;" shiigow, " sugar ;" and
the like. And when we used wrong words for others
very similar, as we frequently did purposely—calling
the old man Kekek-ooarsis, Kekwaharkosis, or the
" Little Wolverine;" or an Indian named Gaytchi
Mohkamarn, or " The Big Knife," Matchi Mohka-
marn, "The Evil Knife"—the joke was always
irresistible, and they rolled about and held their sides
in fits of laughter.
On the fourth day after leaving La Belle Prairie,
we reached the camping ground, where we expected
to meet Indians, but found the camp broken up,
and saw by the tracks that the party had dispersed
in various directions. We therefore kept on in a
straight line for the prairie. The weather had
become colder and colder, and as we passed over
a large lake just before dark, the wind blew so
keenly that our faces ached again, and our teeth
chattered, although we hurried over it into a little
wood as rapidly as the dogs could go. Milton's nose
and cheeks were frost-bitten, and required careful
rubbing to restore  them.     On  the morrow, by the Hunter's advice, we stayed in camp, while he went
out alone to reconnoitre, and try and kill a buffalo.
Our provisions were by this time reduced to a few
handfuls of flour and a little pemmican—hardly
more than sufficient for that day's consumption.
We had started with a fair supply of white-fish and
pemmican; but six dogs rapidly reduced it. Two
fish a day, or three pounds of pemmican, is the
regular allowance for a sleigh-dog when travelling;
and the quantity required to satisfy a man in
the cold winter is greater still. We therefore
spent an anxious day, waiting for Keenamontiayoo's
return, wondering whether he would be successful
in obtaining meat. We put ourselves upon short
commons, and the dogs upon still shorter, and even
went to the length of fixing upon one useless, toothless old fellow as a victim to our appetites, in case of
The day wore on slowly and monotonously, the
cold was severe as ever, and we diligently cut and
stacked a large supply of wood for the night fire.
Night closed in around us, and we still watched in
vain for the Hunter, and speculated whether the
delay was a sign of his good luck or the reverse.
Hours of darkness passed away, and yet we listened
anxiously, expecting to hear the footfall of the
returning Indian. Misquapamayoo became very uneasy, and sat silent and absorbed, listening intently
for his father's step, and at last took to firing his gun
at short intervals, to signal our whereabouts. No
answering shot replied, but about midnight Keena-
m 126
montiayoo appeared, bending beneath a load which,
on nearer view, showed to our gloating eyes the heart,
tongue, and other tit-bits of buffalo. These were
soon cooked and eaten, and over our supper he told
us that he had hunted all day without resting, but
nad not found a trace of buffalo. On his return, however, just before dark, he discovered a solitary bull,
which he killed. The cold had so benumbed him
that he was quite unable to cut any meat until he had
made a large fire, and afterwards was detained a long
time covering up the carcase with timber and snow,
to protect it from the wolves.
The next morning we moved camp close to the
dead buffaloj and spent that day in cutting him up,
and collecting a good supply of dry wood, which was
scarce at this place.
The following day we found two more buffalo, and
succeeded in badly wounding one of them. Darkness
came on before we could overtake him, but we found
him next morning, having been pulled down and
partly eaten by the wolves during the night.
At this time Milton's face, which had been frostbitten two days before, swelled up with erysipelas
in a most alarming manner. We were 80 or 100
miles from home, without any protection from the
extreme severity of the weather. We decided to
cache a great part of the meat, and travel back to
La Belle Prairie as fast as the dogs could go.
The afternoon was spent in securing the meat
which we were compelled to leave behind, by enclosing it in a pyramid of logs, against which we HOME   IN   A   HURRY.
heaped a high bank of snow. This, when well
beaten down and frozen, held the timber firmly in
position, and the Hunter declared it perfectly impregnable to a whole army of wolves, although .a wolverine would .certainly break it open if. he found it.
The next morning a light load was placed on one
sleigh, and on the other Milton, smothered in buffalo
robe and blankets, was securely bound. Keenamontiayoo led the way, the boy followed driving
one sleigh, and Cheadle brought up the rear, in
charge of his patient on the other. The journey
was very harassing and tedious. Our old track had
been completely snowed up, and the wretched dogs
were not equal to the emergency. Shushu, the
leader, was willing, but young, thin, and weak; the
middle one, Comyun, was aged and asthmatic; and
the shafter, Kuskitaostaquarn, lame and lethargic.
From morning to night the air resounded 'with
howling, and the cries of the drivers anathematising Comyun and Kuskitaostaquarn. The
sleighs constantly upset, from running against a
stump or slipping over a hill-side; and when we
hauled and strained to right them, the dogs lay
down quietly, looking round at us, and not offering
to pull an ounce to help. When the driver, aggravated beyond endurance, rushed up, stick in hand,
and bent on punishment, they made frantic exertions, which only made matters worse, resuming
their quiescent attitude the moment he returned to
haul again at the sleigh; and all the time the unfortunate Milton lay bound and helpless, half buried
in the snow. In spite of all these hardships and
difficulties, he rapidly recovered, and by the time we
reached home, after three and a half days' hard
travelling, was nearly well.
On our arrival we found, to our surprise, that the
women had made the hut very clean and tidy, but
had consumed all the provision we left behind, and
were, moreover, quite equal to a great feast on the
meat we had brought. We had providentially
locked up a little flour, and this was all that
remained except the buffalo meat.
The Indians now returned to their homes,
taking with them the greater part of the fresh
meat, the Hunter engaging to return in a week
to accompany us on a fresh expedition to the plains.
To our astonishment, however, he appeared on the
third day, in company with Misquapamayoo and
Kekek-ooarsis, and informed us that provisions were
exhausted. The meat they had carried away with
them three days before appeared to us to be enough
for a fortnight, but they assured us it was all eaten,
that the ice had become so thick that it was impossible to catch any more fish, and that the only thing
to be done was to be off to the plains again immediately. We were quite taken aback and disappointed, for we had counted on a large quantity of
fish, with which old Kekek-ooarsis had promised to
supply us from his fishery at White Fish Lake.
Our whole store consisted of a few pounds of
meat, and a handful of flour. The Indians brought
twenty-two  fish,   and had  left  thirteen  with  their
families.. This was, of course, absurdly insufficient
for a five days' journey to the plains, and then have
the risk of not finding buffalo after all. We resolved
upon a surer means of avoiding starvation, by going
over to the Fort for pemmican.
Milton was still quite unfit to travel, and he was
therefore obliged to remain behind, while Cheadle
went to Carlton. We divided the food equally
between us, and the latter set off with the Indians
at once.
They journeyed rapidly on for the first day, and
Cheadle confidently expected to reach Carlton on the
evening of the second. The cold, however, was so
severe, that the Indians refused to stir in spite of
all his entreaties, and sat cooking and eating the
few fish there were until afternoon, replying to all
his expostulations and suggestions that it would be
better to leave some food for the morrow, with the
eternal "Keyarm" (It's all the same).
After they had consumed all but two, he prevailed upon them to start, but after a few miles,
they declared it was " osharm aimun" (too hard),
alluding to the bitter cold, and camped again for the
night. They had not yet got half way. Now the
provisions were quite finished, and seeing the " Okey
Mow" was really angry, they rose before daylight,
not a whit uncomfortable or discontented with the
knowledge that they had forty miles to march with
empty stomachs, or pity for the. unfortunate dogs
who had now not tasted a morsel of food for two
days.      It  was   otherwise,  however,   with  Cheadle.
■r 130
11 m
Toiling away on snow-shoes until noon, he experienced a wonderfully disagreeable sensation of
emptiness, and a tendency to bend double; and his
walking in this stooping attitude elicited frequent
ridicule from the boy, who was vastly delighted, and
kept crying, " Keeipah, keeipah " (Quickly, quickly).
There was no help for it but to keep "pegging
away," and at dusk they gained the well-beaten
trail about five miles from the Fort. Snow-shoes
were doffed and tied on the sleighs; the dogs,-
knowing the end of the journey was near, set off at
a gallop; and the "Muskeeky Okey Mow," now quite
recovered, astonished his companions by running
ahead, and arriving first at the Fort.
The next day, when the provisions were ready
for the Indians to set out with at once to the relief
of Milton, Keenamontiayoo was discovered to be in
a state of intoxication. By noon he was sufficiently
sobered to start on the journey, and promised to
make all possible haste. He was very much
ashamed of himself, and penitent withal, more particularly because he had parted with a valuable
hunting-knife, which he prized very highly, for a
teacupful of rum. It was one which the " Soniow
Okey Mow " had given him on our return from the
plains, as a reward for his good behaviour to us,
and he had vowed never to part with it. A little rum
offered to him by one of the half-breeds, who
coveted the knife, overcame his resolution at once.
The temptation is irresistible to an Indian.
After the departure of the party  for the Fort,
Niik. Milton spent a few days in monotonous solitudej
eking out a scanty subsistence by the help of his
gun. Concluding, however, that the society of
Kekek-ooarsis even would be better than none, he
put on his snow-shoes and marched over to White
Fish Lake. But there food was even scarcer than
at home. The fish were soon eaten, and the only
supply then was an occasional marten, mink, or
otter, trapped by Kekek-ooarsis, and a few partridges
and rabbits, which Milton provided. But game
was beginning to be scarce in the immediate neigh-
bourhood, and the strait had become more than
unpleasant when the Hunter and his son returned
with the pemmican sent off by Cheadle.
After his return, Keenamontiayoo went out into
the woods to hunt moose. For several days he
had no success, and came back to perform a solemn
invocation to the " Manitou" (}) to bless his next
attempt. Drums were brought out, and rattles
made of bladders with pebbles in them, " medicine "
belts of wolf skin donned, and other " medicine,"
or magic articles, such as ermine skins, and musk-
rat skins covered with beads. The Hunter and his
father-in-law drummed and rattled, and sang songs,
finishing, after some hours, by a long speech which
they repeated together, in which they promised to
give some of the best meat to the Manitou if he
(J) These Indians believe in one " Great Spirit," or more literally
" Perfect Spirit," the Manitou proper, and a great number of inferior
spirits, or lesser Manitous. They appear to address their invocations
principally to the latter.
j 2 132
granted success, and to compose a new song in his
Before daylight, Keenamontiayoo started, and at
night returned in high glee, for his prayer had
proved very efficacious, and he had killed two moose.
The moose is a sacred animal, and certain portions
of the meat—such as the breast, liver, kidneys, and
tongue—must be eaten at once, and the whole consumed at a single meal. Women are not allowed to
taste the tongue, and all scraps are burnt, never
given to the dogs. The Hunter had brought the
best part home with him, and Milton had the
pleasure of joining in a great feast. Tit-bits were
cut off and cast into the fire, as the promised offering to the Manitou, the men chanting and beating
drums and rattles the while. Then all feasted to
repletion, and Milton was kept from sleep by the
persistency with which Keenamontiayoo sang the
new song he pretended to have composed for the
occasion, which he continued to sing over and over
again without cessation till nearly daylight. As he
had been out hunting all day, and busily engaged
ever since his return, it is shrewdly suspected he
attempted to impose upon his Manitou, by making
shift with an old hymn, for he certainly could not
have had much opportunity for composing the new
one he had promised.
Cheadle had remained at the Fort to await the
arrival of the winter express from Fort Garry,
which comes once a year, bringing letters for
Carlton,  and the  more   distant forts.     Dog-sleighs CHEADLE S   RETURN   FROM   CARLTON.
arrived from all quarters—Edmonton, La Crosse,
Norway House, &c.—bringing letters for England, in
return for those brought for them by the Red
River train. It was a time of great excitement at
the Fort, and when the tinkling of sleigh bells gave
7 Ooo
warning of an arrival, all rushed out to greet the
new-comers and hear the latest news. We naturally
expected a large batch of letters, the arrears of all
sent from home since we left, for we had as yet
received none. Dreadful was the disappointment,
therefore, when the Fort Garry express came in,
and the box of letters was seized and ransacked,
to find not one for any of us. The only hope left was
that La Ronde might bring some when he returned.
Cheadle was now anxious to return as soon
as possible, although without the pleasant intelligence he had expected to carry with him. But
there was some difficulty in finding the means of
transport, and the cold was now so great that it
would have been dangerous to cross open country
without a sleigh on which to carry an ample supply
of robes and blankets. At last an English half-
breed, named Isbister, volunteered to accompany
him with his train of dogs, if he could travel rapidly;'
so as to allow him to return to the Fort within
three days, in order to join a party of hunters going
to the plains.
The offer was gladly accepted, and at noon the
two set out. The north wind blew very bitterly, the
thermometer being down to thirty degrees below
zero.     The track was tolerably good, although not 134
firm enough to allow snow-shoes to be dispensed
with, and now rapidly drifting up. Away went the
dogs with the lightly-laden sleigh, and Isbister and
Cheadle strained their utmost to keep up, tearing"-
along on their snow-shoes, with a motion and swinging
of arms from side to side, like fen-skaters.
In spite of all this exertion, a very great many
flannel shirts, a leathern shirt, duffel shirt, and thick'
Inverness cape over all, Cheadle was frost-bitten^
in many places—arms, legs, and face; and when
they pulled up to camp for the night in a clump
of pines, he was quite unable to strike a light,
and even Isbister with difficulty accomplished it.
With a roaring fire, sleeping fully clothed, with the
addition of two buffalo robes and two blankets, it
was impossible to keep warm, or rest long without
being admonished, by half-frozen toes, to rise and
replenish the fire. The dogs crept shivering up and
on to the bed, passing, like their masters, a restless
night. The thermometer on this night went down
to thirty-eight degrees below zero, the greatest cold;
which was experienced during this winter—the
lowest ever registered being forty-five degrees below
The following morning they set forward again
at a racing pace, and reached the hut before dark—
very fast travelling indeed on snow-shoes, on a trail
that was not in first-rate order. A man can,
indeed, walk much faster on snow-shoes, with a fair1
track, than on the best road without them f but
when the trail is frozen perfectly hard, the voyageur TRAVELLING  WITH   DOG-SLEIGHS.
casts them off, and runs behind the dogs, who are
able to gallop at great speed along the slippery path;
and in this manner the most extraordinary journeys
have been made.
On entering the hut it proved to be empty,
Milton being still at White Fish Lake. They had
observed strange footmarks leading to the hut as
they crossed the lake, and were puzzled whose they
could be. Some one had evidently visited the house
that day, for the chimney was not yet cold, nor
the water in the kettle frozen.
After feeding the dogs, and making a hasty
supper on raw pemmican and tea, Isbister set to
work to convert the sleigh into a rude cariole, or
passenger sleigh. Then wrapping himself in robe
and blanket, he seated himself therein, and in two
hours after his arrival was on his way back again
to Carlton. The dogs ran in with him by eleven
o'clock on the following morning, having accomplished
upwards of 140 miles in less than forty-eight hours,
and the last seventy without stopping for rest or
Cheadle meanwhile remained a prisoner at Fort
Milton, being so stiff and sore from his unusual
kind of exercise, and so lame from using snowrshoes,
that he crept about slowly and painfully, to perform
the necessary duties of cutting wood and cooking.
As he sat over the fire in the evening alone, in
somewhat dismal mood, the door opened, and in
walked a French half-breed, of very Indian appearance.    He sat down and smoked, and talked for an
■■I ii,
Hi "5
hour or two, stating that he was out trapping, and
his lodge and family were about five miles distant.
In due time Cheadle produced some pemmican
for supper, when the visitor fully justified the
sobriquet which he bore of Mahaygun, or "The
Wolf," by eating most voraciously. He then mentioned that he had not tasted food for two days.
He had visited our hut the day before, lit a fire,
melted some snow in the kettle, and waited for a
long time, in the hope that some one might come
in. At last he went away, without touching
the pemmican which lay upon the table ready to
his hand. The story was, doubtless, perfectly true,
agreeing with all the signs previously observed, and
the fact that the pemmican was uncut.
With the pangs of hunger gnawing at his stomach,
and viewing, no doubt, with longing eyes the food
around, he had yet, according to Indian etiquette,
refrained from clamouring at once for food, but sat
and smoked for a long time, without making the
slightest allusion to his starving condition. When,
in due course, his host offered him something to eat,
he mentioned the wants of himself and family. The
next day he left, carrying with him supplies for his
squaw. He was exceedingly grateful for the assistance, and promised to return in a day with his
wife, who should wash and mend all our clothes,
as some acknowledgment of the kindness.
Cheadle, being now somewhat recovered from
his late severe journey, strapped on his snow-shoes,
and set out to seek Milton amongst the Indians at OUR  MEETING  AT  WHITE   PISH   LAKE.
White Fish Lake. He suffered so severely from
snow-shoe lameness, however, that he with difficulty
accomplished the nine or ten miles' journey by nightfall. Opening the door of the hut, he discovered the
old squaw—frying-pan in hand—engaged in cooking
the evening pemmican, and was warmly received by
all, Milton being quite tired of living entirely amongst
savage society, and the Indians always ready to welcome the white man hospitably. The Hunter and
Misquapamayoo were absent, having gone to bring in
the meat of a moose, which the former had killed.
We returned home on the following day, leaving
word for the two Indians to join us as soon as possible.
Our New Acquaintances—Taking it Quietly—Mahaygun Fraternises
with Keenamontiayoo—The Carouse—Importunities for Bum—
The Hunter asks for more—A Tiresome Evening—Keenamontiayoo Benounces us—His Night Adventure—Misquapamayoo's
Devotion—The Hunter returns Penitent—The Plains again—The
Wolverine on our Track—The Last Band of Buffalo—Gaytchi
Mohkamarn, "The Big Knife"—The Cache Intact—Starving
Indians—Story of Keenamontiayoo—Indian Gambling—The
Hideous Philosopher—Dog Driving—Shushu's Wonderful Sagacity—A Long March—Beturn to La Belle Prairie—Household
Cares—Our Untidy Dwelling—Our Spring Cleaning—The Great
Plum Pudding—Unprofitable Visitors—Bover's Accomplishments
Astonish the Indians—Famine Everywhere.
When we reached the hut, we found "The Wolf " and
his wife already established there. The latter was a
pleasant, clean-looking woman, and she set to work
diligently to wash and mend our clothes, while we
lords' of the creation, including her husband; looked
on, ~ smoking and discussing the news brought from
the Fort, speculating on the cause of our not receiving letters, and fixing our plans for the future.
The luxury of a day's complete idleness after severe
exertion is immense, and we now fully appreciated it.
In the course of two days, Keenamontiayoo and
Misquapamayoo made their appearance with a sleigh-
load of moose meat, which we found very delicious,
especially after being so long restricted to pemmican, MAHAYGUX   FRATERNISES   WITH   THE   HUNTER.
and having no flour, and, greatest hardship of all, a
very small allowance of tea.
The Hunter and " The Wolf" recognised each
other as old friends who had not met for many years,
and they immediately fraternised tremendously. The
former at once put in his claim for half a pint of rum
which Cheadle had promised him as a reward if he
made the rapid journey when carrying back the provisions for Milton at the time of emergency. This was
duly allowed, and the two friends proceeded to make
very merry indeed, breaking forth into singing ; and
every now and then coming ^ound to shake hands
with us, and proclaim what first-rate " Okey Mows "
we were. Keenamontiayoo shared his liquor fairly
with his comrade, and when this was finished, Mahay-
gun got up and made a speech to us, setting forth,
in the most flattering terms, the great obligations
under which he felt towards us for the hospitable
manner in which we had treated him, and stating
that he really felt ashamed to ask any further
favour. Still, on the other hand, here was his dear
friend Keenamontiayoo—his bosom friend and sworn
comrade—whom he had not met for so many years.
He had with great generosity treated him to rum,
and how could the kindness be properly acknowledged ? There was but one way—by treating him
to rum in return, and to do that he must beg some
from us. He felt sure we should excuse him, and
comply with his request, seeing there was no other
solution to the difficulty in which he felt himself to
be placed. 140
Feeling much pleased with the man for his wonderful honesty in not touching our provisions when
he visited our hut during our absence, we consented
to present him with the same quantity we had given
to the Hunter, extracting a solemn promise from
both that they would not ask us for more. And
now the revelry waxed furious. They sang and
talked, shook hands all round, and lauded us to the
skies. And when the pot was drained, they importuned us for more. We reminded them of the solemn
promise they had given to rest content with what
they had already received, and "The Wolf" acknowledged the justice of our remonstrances. Keenamontiayoo, however, was by this time beyond the
reach of argument or reason. He did not seem to
understand, indeed, that he had made any such engagement, and, tin cup in hand, went from one to
the other, marking with his finger on the mug the
quantity with which he would be content. We
firmly refused to give a drop, and as he found we
were obstinate, and perceived his chance of succeeding become less and less, his finger descended until
at last he vowed that he would be satisfied with the
veriest film of liquor which would cover the bottom
of the cup. Hours passed by, and he still importuned us unwearyingly, and we as steadily denied
him. Cheadle at last rather warmly upbraided him
with his want of rectitude, when in a moment he
drew his knife from his belt, and seizing Cheadle.
by the collar, pressed the point of the knife against
his breast, exclaiming, "Ah! if I were an Indian of MISQUAPAMAYOO S   DEVOTION.
the Plains now, I should stab you to the heart if you
dared to say no." " Yes," said Cheadle, quietly,
and without moving, " that's just the point of it;
you are not a Plain Indian, and therefore won't do
anything of the kind. The Indians of the Woods
know better." This touched the right string, and
he removed his hands immediately, saying, however,
that he was so much disappointed with us, of whom
he had previously formed so high an opinion, and so
disgusted with our meanness, that he would have no
more to do with us, and should return home forthwith. And accordingly, in spite of the urgent
entreaties of Misquapamayoo, he staggered out of
the hut, and commenced harnessing the' dogs to the
It was by this time about midnight, the snow
was falling heavily, and the cold intensely bitter.
Although the Hunter's speech was tolerably articulate, he walked with difficulty, and it was only by
the reluctant assistance of his son that he was able
to get the sleigh ready. He then sullenly took his
departure, accompanied by Misquapamayoo, who
was in the greatest distress at his father's mis-
behaviour. Their road lay across an arm of the lake,
and ere long Keenamontiayoo, overcome by the liquor
he had drunk, and benumbed by the intense cold,
became incapable of walking, and crawled along on
hands and knees. Before the lake was crossed he
completely collapsed, lay down in the snow, and fell
heavily asleep. Misquapamayoo, in utter terror and
dismay,   yet   with   unfailing  readiness  of   resource,
roused him violently, and half dragged, half led him
into a clump of trees at the side of the lake. Here
he immediately relapsed into a deep sleep, whilst his
son quickly collected wood and made a fire. Then,
wrapping his father in the blankets carried on the
sleigh, he laid him alongside the fire, and with
affectionate care sat out the wearisome hours of
night, sedulously feeding the kindly flame, and
though shivering and half frozen himself, disdaining
to deprive his helpless parent of a blanket. Dutifully the boy watched whilst his father slept hour
after hour, until the sun was high in the heavens,
when the man at last awoke, sober and unharmed,
and the homeward journey was renewed.
After the departure of the Hunter and his boy,
we quietly retired to rest without further disturbance. In the morning we dispatched "The Wolf"
to White Fish Lake, with a message for the erring
Keenamontiayoo, urging him to return to his duty.
The day passed without either of them making their
appearance, and at night we held council together as
to what course we should pursue if we were left
entirely to our own resources. The man had carried
back with him all the meat he had brought for us,
O *
and our stock of pemmican was getting low. On
the following morning, however, we were much
relieved by the arrival of the delinquent Hunter, accompanied by his son and " The Wolf," and bringing
a sleigh-load of moose meat as before. It appeared
that the two had not reached home until long after
" The Wolf's" arrival at the hut the day before—until TO   THE   PLAINS   AGAIN.
dark indeed—and were too exhausted to return at
once. Keenamontiayoo was exceedingly penitent,
shook hands with us fervently, exclaiming that he
had been "namooya quiusk, nainooya quiusk" (not
straight, not straight); i.e., had not acted rightly,
but assured us that it was the only time he had ever
done so in all his life, and he would never do the like
again. We readily made peace, and all was serene
once more.
It was now the beginning of February, and we
might look for the return of La Ronde and
Bruneau in the course of another month. Our
scanty stock of provisions, however, necessitated
another excursion to the plains in search of buffalo,
and we accordingly arranged to set out in a day's
time to fetch the meat we had been obliged to leave
behind in cache. Cheadle positively refused to
agree to Milton's again facing the exposure and
hardship which had so severely affected him before,
and he was reluctantly persuaded to remain at home,
or rather take up his quarters for the time with our
Indian neighbours.
On the 10th of February Cheadle started with
the Indian and his boy, taking with them two
dog-sleighs. The old path had drifted up, and was
undistinguishable in the open, so that the road again
required to be trodden out with snow-shoes; and
the snow was now so deep—nearly three feet—
that it was necessary for both men to walk in advance before the track was beaten* firm enough to
bear  the  weight  of the   dogs.      In  spite   of  this
heavy work, the party travelled so industriously,
the morning of the fourth day they
reached the old camp by the lake, where we
had spent such an anxious time waiting for Keenamontiayoo.
On the present occasion also, as it happened, all
were frost-bitten in the face, though not very extensively, and again were reduced to one day's provisions. At every part of the road where the old
track was visible, there were the footmarks of the
wolverine following it towards the plains. They
trembled for the cache, and as they found, day after
day, the wolverine had still followed the track, the
Hunter, pointing to the footprints, would exclaim,
" Kekwaharkess maryartis! namatagun weeash"
(That cursed wolverine again ! we shall not find a
bit of meat).
They quite expected, therefore, to have a hard
time of it, for there was but a poor prospect of
finding many buffalo, and the only chance would
be to make a run for the Fort, which they might
reach in three days. However, as the Hunter
entered the little wood by the lake, his eyes we:re
rejoiced by the sight of the track of a buffalo. The
animal had been going at speed, probably pursued by
some hunter, and had passed the day before. The
party immediately halted by Keenamontiayoo's order,
whilst he went forward to reconnoitre the open prairie.
He soon came back with the good news that there
bulls feeding close by.
they  were   in   an   open  place,   difficult  of GAYTCHI   MOHKAMARN.
approach, and it was so very important to kill one,
it was decided that the Hunter should go after them
alone, whilst Cheadle and Misquapamayoo lay concealed in the wood. They crawled to the edge of
the cover, and watched anxiously the movements of
tjie Hunter and the buffalo. The latter continued
to graze undisturbed, and presently a puff of smoke,
and the crack of the Indian's gun, announced the
death of one, for but four went away.
As these galloped off, the spectators were astonished to see another puff of smoke, and hear the
sound of a shot, evidently fired by some one lying
in wait as they passed, and presently a figure appeared in full pursuit. Cheadle and the boy now
came out of their hiding-place, and drove the sleighs
to another copse near to the carcass, where a camp
was quickly made.
By dark the meat was all secured, and shortly
after our party was increased by the arrival of a
very wild-looking Indian clad in skins, and wearing
an enormous pair of snow-shoes. He proved to be
a Sauteur, by name Graytchi Mohkamarn, or " The
Big Knife," and informed us that he likewise, had
only reached the plains that day from the Montagne
du Bois, and was stalking up to the five buffalo, the
only on^s to be seen, when, before he could get
within shot, he observed Keenamontiayoo creeping
close to them. He had wounded two as they passed
him, but darkness came on before he could come up
with them, and he returned.
He had tasted no food for two days, and had left
1 146
his squaw and children a few miles off in a similar
condition. He feasted largely on our fresh meat,
and took his ease, without attempting to carry anything back to his suffering family. He stated that
he had left the people at the Montagne du Bois in
distress for want of food. Atahk-akoohp had gone
out to the plains for meat a month before, and had
not since been heard of. He told us that Treemiss
had also suffered considerably, and could obtain
no provisions at the Fort, where he had now gone
in person; and he gave but small hope of finding
more buffalo, for reports from all quarters announced their disappearance.
Next morning Graytchi Mohkamarn went in pursuit of the wounded bulls; Keenamontiayoo to look
at our old cache, and search for more game; whilst
the other two remained in camp, preparing meat
and cutting wood.
At night the Hunter returned, reporting that, to
his surprise, he had found the cache intact, the
wolverine having followed the track within half a mile
of the place, and then turned back, afraid to venture
into the open country; for these aninials never stray
any great distance away from cover. The wolves had
attacked our storehouse with vigour, but although
they had gnawed the logs almost through in many
places, had not been able to effect an entrance.
Later on, Graytchi Mohkamarn appeared, carrying a
tongue and covered with blood. He had killed all
the four buffalo, and did not believe there was
another   within   a   hundred   miles !    Cheadle,   with STARVING  INDIANS.
commendable prudence, immediately bought two
animals, for which he paid a few pounds of ammunition and some tobacco.
On the morrow Graytchi Mohkamarn concluded
it was time to look after his wife, who had now
starved for nearly four days, and after breakfast
went off with some meat for her; the rest spent the
day in cutting up the animals bought the day before.
Next morning Graytchi Mohkamarn turned up again,
with wife and dog-sleigh, with effects, moving to
camp by the animals he had killed, and reported that
a good many Indians would shortly arrive on their
way to join him. All were in a starving condition,
not having tasted food for several days, and their
prospects for the remainder of the winter were very
unpromising, for no buffalo could be found. It
seemed that our party, by the greatest good luck in
the world, struck exactly the place where the only
buffalo left in the district were at the time.
During the day family after family came in—
a spectral cavalcade i the men, gaunt and wan,
marching "Before skeleton dogs, almost literally skin
and bone, with hide drawn tightly and unpadded
oyer " crate and basket, ribs and spine;" dragging
painfully along sleighs as attenuated and empty of
provisions as themselves. The women and children
brought up the rear, who, to the credit of the men,
be it recorded, were in far better case, indeed
tolerably plump, and contrasting strangely with the
fleshless forms of the other sex. Although the
Indian squaws and children are kept in subjection,
-Jr HHii
and the work falls principally upon them, it is
erroneous to suppose that they are ill-treated, or
that the women labour harder or endure greater
hardships than the men.
The Indian is constantly engaged in hunting, to
supply his family with food; and when that is scarce,
he will set out without any provision himself, and
often travel from morning to night for days before
he finds the game he seeks; then, loaded with meat,
he toils home again, and whilst the plenty lasts, considers himself entitled to complete rest after his
exertions. This self-denial of the men, and their
wonderful endurance of hunger, was illustrated by
the case of our Hunter, Keenamontiayoo, who, several
years ago, narrowly escaped death by starvation.
That winter buffalo did not come up to the woods,
and moose and fish were very scarce. After killing
his horses one- after another when driven to the last
extremity, the family found themselves at last without resource. The Hunter, leaving with his wife and
Misquapamayoo a scanty remnant of dried horseflesh, hunted for two days without success, and at
last, faint and still fasting, with difficulty dragged
himself home. All now made up their minds to
die, for the Hunter became unable to move, and his
wife and boy too helpless to procure food. After
being eight days longer without tasting food, and
exposed to the fierce cold of winter, they were fortunately discovered by some of the Company's voyageurs,
and the man tied on a sleigh and carried to Carlton.
The  woman   and  boy had  not   starved   completely THE   HUNTER   GAMBLES.
quite so long, nor gone through so much fatigue.
They were not, therefore, in quite such a desperate
case, and were left behind with a supply of food, and
in two or three days they were strong enough to
travel on foot to the Fort. Keenamontiayoo, however, was with difficulty brought round. He refused
both food and drink, having lost the desire for it,
and his weakened stomach rejected all but the most
simple nourishment in minute quantity. His hair
fell off, and for weeks he lay helpless. He eventually
recovered, owing to the careful attention of Mr.
Pruden, who was in charge of Carlton at the time,
and who endeared himself to all the Indians by his
kindness and humanity.
As this miserable company came, they were invited to sit down by the fire. Their cheerfulness
belied their looks, and they smoked and chatted
gaily, without appearing to covet the meat which lay
around, or making any request for food at once. No
time was lost in cooking some meat, and offering a
good meal to all, which they ate with quietness and
dignity; too well-bred to show any signs of greediness, although they proved equal to the consumption
of any quantity that was put before them.
The Hunter was in his glory talking to his
guests, most of them old acquaintances, and after
giving them food he induced three young fellows, the
dandies of the company, highly painted, gay with
scarlet leggings and sash, embroidered pouch-straps,
and other Indian finery, to commence gambling with
him.      This  is  conducted  in  very  simple  fashion.
IN Mir 150
■ Ill
if 111
Everything that each player intends to stake is
collected. The relative values are agreed on, and
compared and divided into so many stakes. An
Indian will often risk knife, gun, ammunition, and
indeed everything he possesses, except the clothes
he stands in. The lookers-on assist at the performance by beating frying-pans and tin kettles, and
singing the eternal | He he, hi hi, hay hay," the
ordinary Indian song.
The players squatted opposite each other, with
legs crossed, and capote or blanket spread over their
knees. The game consisted in one of the players
hiding in his hands two small articles, as a ramrod
screw, or brass hair-wire, whilst the others endeavoured to guess what was contained in either hand.
The holder did his best to deceive the others, by
continually keeping his hands in motion, now under
the blanket on his lap, now behind his back, or
clasped together. Between each change the hands
were held out for the choice of his opponent, who
watched eagerly, in great excitement, and generally
took a long time to make his guess.
All this time the drumming and singing never
ceased, and in time with it the players swayed their
bodies, and moved up and down in their seats. As
each gained or lost, the result was notched on a
stick, each notch representing a stake.
This went on for half the day, with unceasing
energy and unfailing interest to the players and
spectators, except Cheadle, who was weary of the
din and monotony of the amusement.    At last the
Hunter cleaned out all the rest of everything but
guns and knives, and the visitors departed, not in
the least depressed by their bad fortune.
One Indian and his squaw still remained. He was
a gigantic fellow, of more than six feet high, and the
bones of his huge frame stood out conspicuous at
the joints and angles, and the muscles showed distinct in his gaunt meagreness. His aspect was
positively hideous. His large nose had been driven
perfectly flat upon his face, over one eyeless orbit was
a black greasy patch, while in his gums two long
canine teeth alone remained. He had suffered this
in a fight with a grisly bear, a stroke of whose paw
had torn out one eye, smashed in his nose, and
knocked out his teeth. The man was in what
seemed a hopeless state of destitution. He had
gambled away literally every single thing he possessed, with the exception of his wife, child, and a
miserable dog. A few ragged pieces of blanket were
all the protection they had from the cold, when the
thermometer stood at 25° below zero, and the north
whd blew fiercely. They possessed not a mouthful of
food, nor had the man any gun, ammunition, knife,
snow-shoes, or other "appliance required by a hunter.
i For two days this fellow remained in Cheadle's
camp, eating from morning till night. His toothless
gums were never at rest. He consumed not only
all they gave him, but quietly " annexed" all the
offal which was thawing at the fire for the dogs.
When the party started homewards two days
afterwards, they left him seated by the fire with his
hi I
squaw, perfectly contented, engaged in cooking the
buffalo's head, his only provision. There seemed
every probability that he would be starved to death,
either by cold or hunger; but, to our surprise, he
made his appearance at our hut at the end of the
winter, hideous and gaunt as ever, but apparently
in his usual health and spirits.
There was now more meat than we required at
present, and the cache was therefore left undisturbed,
some given in charge of Graytchi • Mohkamarn, and a
small sleigh and two dogs hired in addition to the two
brought to carry the rest. These were loaded with
all they could carry, and the homeward journey commenced. The track was tolerably good, but the trf-
velling very tedious, on account of the heavy loads.
One of the dogs in the borrowed sleigh was the skeleton belonging to the hideous Indian; but it soon appeared he was too weak to carry even himself with
ease, and was therefore dismissed by the Hunter, and
a puppy harnessed in his place, who pulled well, Imt
ceased not to howl until released from his bonds at
the end of the day. The work was hard for all,
each having a sleigh to look after, and the upsets
being more frequent than ever. The firm path
formed by the beating down of the snow was now a
considerable height above the ground, like a rail the
width of a sleigh, running along in the soft, floury
powder at the sides. At the turns, or on hill-sides,
the sleighs were apt to slip off and upset, and required great strength and greater patience to replace
them on the " line." TRIALS   OE  DOG-DRIVING.
In going down hills it was necessary for the.
driver to lie face downwards on the sleigh, with legs
projecting behind, and act as a drag by digging his
toes into the snow as hard as he could, thus also
guiding it in the descent. At one very steep place,
a descent of several hundred yards into a lake below,
Cheadle's train got over the brow before he could
get up to act as drag. Away went the sleigh, overriding the dogs, the whole rolling over and over in a
long succession of somersaults, until they reached
the bottom, where the dogs lay helpless, entangled in
the harness and held down by the heavy sleigh,
which seemed as if it must have broken every bone
in their bodies, as it thumped upon them in their
headlong fall. They were none the worse, however,
although it took a very long time to disentangle them,
and put them all right on the track again. The
day's journey was attended by a constant succession
of difficulties and disasters; the snow was deep, the
loads heavy, the dogs weak and obstinate, cunningly
taking advantage of every opportunity to shirk,
refusing to pull when it was most required, and
showing wonderful speed and alacrity, rushing off
with the heavy sleigh when the distracted driver
came near to punish. Of all things in the world
calculated to ruffle the most even temper, driving a
worthless train of Indian dogs stands unequalled.
It may be doubted whether the most rigidly pious
evangelical would be able to preserve his equanimity,
or keep his lips free from language unbecoming his
profession, under circumstances trying almost beyond
 ^w^ m
human endurance; and indeed it is said that one of
the missionaries on the Saskatchewan, a most worthy
and pious man, when travelling with some of his
flock in the winter, astonished and horrified his companions by suddenly giving vent, in his distraction,
to most dreadful anathemas against his dogs. They
were lying coolly down in the most aggravating
manner, with their heads turned round narrowly
watching him, but without making the smallest
effort to help themselves and him out of the difficulty
into which they had fallen.
After three days of this more than usually
harassing work, the party found themselves at dusk
about fifteen miles from La Belle Prairie. Finding
no suitable camping ground at the moment, they
went forward until night had quite closed in. A
young moon, already nearly down, lighted the
travellers for a time. Cheadle's sleigh led the way,
and he continued on until the moon disappeared and
it became very dark. Yet still Shushu, the leading
dog, showed no hesitation, and kept the track
unerringly, although it was drifted up level and
almost imperceptible to the eye, even in broad daylight. The only means of judging the line of the path
was by the feel of the firm footing beneath the snow-
shoes, contrasted with the light, powdery mass on
either side. Cheadle perceiving the sagacity of the
dog was equal to the occasion, determined to reach
the • hut that night, and hour after hour kept
steadily on, followed by the two Indians with their
trains, wondering why the  " Okey Mow" would not SHUSHU S   SAGACITY.
camp. It became at last so dark that the drivers
could not see the dogs before them, but merely
followed glimpses of the retreating sleighs. Shushu,
however, went faster and faster as he neared home,
and made but one mistake, overturning the sleigh
in a deep snow drift on the banks of the river
Crochet, within half a "mile of the hut. But this
delayed them some time, for they had to sound the
snow with poles for the lost line of road, which was
so deeply overlaid with drift snow that it was little
disgrace to Shushu to lose it there. At last the
sleighs were put on the " line of rail" again, and in a
few minutes a light streaming from the little parchment window of Fort Milton greeted the eyes of the
jaded voyageurs. They were received by Milton
with vast delight, for he had spent the last few days
there alone, waiting anxiously for the return of the
expedition, which had been absent twelve days.
Being now tolerably supplied with meat, we both
remained at home, hoping daily for the return-of our
men from Red River. Two months had elapsed
since their departure, the time they had estimated
would be required for the journey; but we of course
anticipated that they would somewhat exceed this.
We employed ourselves in shooting and trapping
in the immediate neighbourhood, and were occasionally
visited by the Hunter and Misquapamayoo, who
failed not to bring us a good supply of moose-meat
whenever they were fortunate enough to kill one.
This was a most delightful relief to our staple of
tough buffalo bull, and the only food we possessed,
ill I
iM it* %
except some of Chollet's desiccated vegetables,
brought out only on the great feast days. Household cares occupied much of our time. Milton
presided over the culinary department, in which he
displayed great skill and ingenuity, severely taxed
to make a variety of dishes out of such limited resources, while Cheadle was hewer of wood and drawer
of water, or rather melter of snow and ice.
We got on tolerably well for a length of time;
but at last our small dwelling became so choked up
by the accumulation of chips, wood, and debris of
various kinds, and so disorderly by reason of our
untidy habit of leaving every article where last
used, instead of restoring it to its proper place,
that our domestic duties were seriously impeded.
We resolved to institute a new order of things,
commencing by a regular " spring cleaning" and
tidying. The sweeping out involved a difficulty,
since we had no brush, and the level of the floor
was some two feet lower than the ground outside.
However, we improvised besoms of pine boughs,
and for dust-pans used the tin dinner plates. Our
labours were frequently interrupted by fits of laughter
at the ludicrous appearance we presented, down on
our hands and knees, grubbing up the waste and dust
with our primitive contrivances. The result was
most satisfactory, and we viewed with the greatest
complacency the improved condition of our establishment, which now presented a most comfortable and
orderly appearance.
Our   triumphs  were   not   confined,  however,  to
the housemaid's department. Some months before,
Treemiss had kindly presented us with a few currants
and raisins wherewith to make a Christmas pudding.
From a modest distrust of his own skill, Milton had
hitherto hesitated to attempt so high a flight; but
encouraged by a series of successes in the savoury
branch of the culinary art, and urged by the eager
solicitations of Cheadle, he at length consented to
attempt a plum pudding.
Having discovered, some time before, that the
fruit was rapidly diminishing in quantity in an inexplicable manner, Cheadle had taken the precaution
of securing it, together with a modicum of flour
and sugar, in his strong box. This likewise contained stores of powder, shot, caps, tobacco, soap,
and various etceteras. When the materials for the
pudding were sought, it was found that they had
escaped from the paper in which they had been
enclosed, and were scattered about at the bottom
of the box, mixed with loose shot, caps, fragments
of tobacco, and other heterogeneous substances.
After eliminating all foreign bodies as carefully
as possible, the pudding was duly mixed, tied up in
the cloth after the established manner, and placed in
the pot. Many a time was it taken out and its state
examined by point of fork before it was at last—
after boiling nearly all day—pronounced thoroughly
cooked. We had a brace of prairie chickens also,
but all interest was centred in the pudding. No one
who has not been restricted entirely to one species of
food for a long time can form any idea of the greedy
I 158
eyes with which we viewed that plum pudding. It
proved delicious beyond all anticipation, in spite of
certain drawbacks in the shape of caps, buck-shot,
and fragments of tobacco, which we discovered in it.
We had fondly hoped to finish it at a sitting, but it
was a very Brobdingnagian pudding, and we were reluctantly compelled to leave a portion unconsumed.
We passed the night somewhat restlessly, partly
caused perhaps by the indigestible character of our
evening meal, but principally from impatience for
the morning to arrive, that we might repeat the
delights of the previous evening. When day began
to break, each watched the movements of the other
with anxious distrust, and before it was fairly light
both jumped out of bed at the same moment, each,
fearful he might lose his share of the delicious
breakfast. Never did schoolboy view with such
sincere regret the disappearance of his last morsel of
cake, as we did when sighing over the last mouthful
of that unequalled pudding.
The time wore on monotonously. The beginning
of March had arrived, and still La Ronde and
Bruneau had not returned. Our solitude was occasionally enlivened by visits of Indians—invariably
starving—who seriously impoverished our scanty
larder. Rover also assisted us to while away some
of the dreary long winter evenings, which we partly
devoted to teaching him various additional accomplishments, His performances were an unfailing
source of wonder and delight to our Indian visitors,
who never tired of watching him stand on his head, STARVATION  EVERYWHERE
walk about on his hind legs, or sit up in begging
attitude. But one of his feats elicited loud " wah !
wahs !" and " aiwarkakens !" their expressions of'astonishment. This was watching a piece of meat
placed on the floor, or sitting with it balanced on his
nose. They could not understand how a dog could
be taught to refrain from seizing it at once, instead of
waiting for the word of command. Their own dogs,
being never fed except when at work, are always so
lean and ravenously hungry, that they steal everything they can get at. When meat is being cut up,
the squaw keeps a huge stick ready to her hand, with
which she thwacks unmercifully the starving curs,
which seize every opportunity of abstracting a morsel
During this period the only civilised person who
visited us- was Mr. Tait, a half-breed in the Company's service at Carlton, who came over in a dog
cariole, to collect furs from the Indians in our neighbourhood. He brought us a few cakes and potatoes,
luxuries we had not tasted for many weeks. From
him we learnt that almost everywhere there had been
great scarcity of food. At the Fort at Egg Lake the
people had been obliged to boil down buffalo hides
for subsistence. Two men, sent over to the nearest
port, Touchwood Hills, for succour, arrived almost
dead with famine; but there they found the inmates
at the last extremity, and unable to afford them any
assistance. At Fort La Corne the men had been
half-starved for a long time ; and even at Carlton the
hunters   were   sent   out   so   scantily  provided, that 160
they were driven to eating their dogs on the way.
We considered ourselves very fortunate in having
escaped so well from the general dearth.
The buffalo have receded so far from the forts,
and the quantity of white-fish from the lakes, one of
the principal sources of supply, has decreased so
greatly, that now a winter rarely passes without
serious suffering from want of food. This deficiency
has become so urgent, that the Hudson's Bay Company contemplate the immediate establishment of
extensive farms in the Saskatchewan district, which
is so admirably adapted for agricultural and grazing
The days when it was possible to live in plenty
by the gun and net alone, have already gone by on
the North Saskatchewan. CHAPTER  X.
Jja Bonde's Beturn—Letters from Home—A Feast—The Journey to
Bed Biver and back—Hardships—The Frozen Train—Three
Extra Days—The Sioux at Fort Garry—Their Spoils of War—
. Late .Visitors—Musk-rats and their Houses—Bat-catching—Our
Weather-glass—Moose Hunting in the Spring—Extreme Wariness
of the Moose—His Stratagem to guard against Surprise—-Marching during the Thaw—Prepare to leave Winter Quarters—Search
for the Horses—Their Fine Condition—Nutritious Pasturage—
Leave La Belle Prairie—Carlton again—Good-bye to Treemiss and
La Bonde—Baptiste Supernat—Start for Fort Pitt—Passage of
Wild-fowl—Baptiste's Stories—Crossing Swollen Bivers—Addition to our Party—Shooting for a Living—The Prairie Bird's
Ball—Fort Pitt—Peace between the Crees and Blackfeet—Cree
Full Dress—The Blackfeet—The Dress of their Women—Indian
Solution of a Difficulty—Bumours of War—Hasty Betreat of the
Blackfeet—Louis Battenotte, " The Assiniboine"—His Seductive
Manners—Departure for Edmonton—A Night Watch—A Fertile-
Land—The Works of Beaver—Their Effect on the Country—
Their Decline in Power—How we crossed the Saskatchewan—Up
-Eggs and Chickens-
-Arrive at Edmonton.
On the llth of March, as we were sitting in the hut
talking to two young Indians who had just arrived
from the plains with a message from Gaytchi Mohkamarn, to the effect that he should be compelled, by,
hunger, to eat the meat we had left in cache, if we
did not fetch it immediately, the door opened, and
in walked La Ronde. He was very emaciated, and
appeared   feeble   and   worn-out.      Bruneau   arrived
soon after with a dog-sleigh, on which were a pemmican, a sack of flour, a small chest of tea, and, ,
above all, letters from home. How eagerly we seized
them, and how often we read and re-read' them need
hardly be told. We made a feast in honour of the
arrival; pancakes were fried in profusion, and
kettleful after kettleful of tea prepared. The latter
we had not tasted for many days, the former not for
weeks. We sat up until long after midnight listening to La Ronde's account of his journey, and the
news from Red River. They had accomplished the
journey of 600 miles to Fort Grarry in twenty-three
days, and, after a week's "rest, set out on their return
on the last day of January. This and the 1st of
February were the two days on which Cheadle and
Isbister travelled from Carlton, the period of greatest
cold, when there was seventy degrees of frost.
The two sleighs were laden with four sacks of
flour, the tea, and pemmican for themselves and the
dogs. The snow was so deep, that they were frequently obliged to tread out a track twice over with
snow-shoes, before it was firm enough to bear the
dogs, who were even then only able to drag the heavy
sleighs by the help of the men pushing behind with
poles. They travelled thus slowly and laboriously
for some 200 miles, when the pemmican came to an
«end, and they were obliged to feed the dogs upon the
precious flour.
When within two days' journey of Fort Pelley,
the dogs were so exhausted, that one of the sleighs
had to be abandoned, and one miserable animal lay THE   SIOUX   AT   FORT   GARRY.
down to die by the road-side. Soon afterwards they
passed a sleigh with a team of dogs standing frozen,
stark and stiff in their harness, like the people
suddenly turned to stone in the story of the Arabian
Nights. Some passer-by had found the deserted
sleigh, with its dead team, and placed them upright,
as if still drawing the load. Upon arriving at Fort
Pelleythey found the inhabitants starving, with but
half a bag of pemmican left. Here they left a sack
of flour. After this La Ronde was attacked by
bronchitis, and had great difficulty in finishing the
journey, arriving in the weak and emaciated condition described.
We found, to our surprise, that we had, somehow or other, contrived to manufacture three days
since our last visit to the Fort six weeks before.
By our reckoning we made the day of their return
Saturday, the 14th of March, whereas it proved to be
Wednesday, the llth.
We now heard the particulars of the Sioux
outbreak, and how the stage to Georgetown had
been attacked by them, the driver and passengers
scalped, and the wagon thrown into Red River.
This occurred only a few days after our journey by
ifr. Two thousand Sioux had come to Fort Garry for
ammunition, and the greatest terror and excitement
reigned in the settlement.
These Indians were rich in the spoils of war;
strings of twenty-dollar gold pieces adorned their
necks, and they had bags of coin, officers' epaulettes,
and   women's   finery,  swords,   rifles,  revolvers,   and
l 2
11 IF fJllfu
bowie-knives; horses, and even buggies were amongst
•their trophies.
La Ronde also brought the provoking intelligence
that all the valuable horses we sent back to Fort
Garry, in charge of Voudrie and Zear, had perished
on the road through the carelessness of these worthless fellows.
Shortly after we were all comfortably asleep, we
were aroused by the yelping of dogs, and presently
heard some one stealthily entering the hut. It was
pitch dark, and Milton hastily jumped out of bed
and struck a light, which disclosed the Hunter, his
father-in-law, and the whole family. They had heard
of La Ronde's return from the two young Indians
who had visited us that day, and lost no time in
coming to welcome him, and share in the good things
which he had brought. We were very sulky at the
disturbance, and they slunk quietly to sleep on the
floor, dreadfully ashamed of themselves.
La Ronde continued seriously ill for several days,
but when he became convalescent, we resumed the
trapper's life, varying it at times by spearing musk-
rats, now in full season, and although somewhat
strong flavoured, by no means "despicable food. These
animals are very numerous on all the lakes, and their
houses of reeds dot the surface of the ice in winter like
so many haycocks. They build these as soon as the
water is frozen over, lining them with soft moss and
grasses, and storing them with the aquatic plants on
which they feed. A hole through the ice communicates with the water beneath, and at various distances breathing holes are kept open, covered with smaller
mounds of cut reeds, about the size of mole-hills.
As long as the frost remains severe the musk-rat's
house is impregnable ; but when the sun shines on it
with greater power, enemies force an entrance
through the softening walls. The fox, the wolverine,
and the mink prey upon the musk-rats towards the
end of winter; and the Indian, armed with a long,
slender spear, barbed at the point, approaches
stealthily the family dwelling, and plunging the
weapon through, the middle of it, often impales two
or three at a single thrust.
When the skunk-skin which served us as a
weather-glass informed us through our noses that
the thaw was at hand, (l) we looked eagerly forward
to the prospect of hunting moose. We had found
many tracks within a few miles of our house, and
expected to have some good sport with the assistance
of Rover. The surface of the snow thawed by the
sun during the day is frozen into a firm crust by the
night frosts of the early spring. This is strong
enough to bear a man on snow-shoes, or a dog of no
great size, but breaks through beneath the small feet
and gigantic weight of the moose. When pursued
by a dog, the  animal tries to escape ; but sinking
(l) The skin of a skunk, which had been thrown aside near our
hut, gave out no scent when the frost was very severe, but on the
least abatement of the cold, its odour was perceptible. From the
variations in the intensity of the smell, we could judge very closely
of the warmth of the weather. The scent is by no means so disagreeable as it is generally represented, and only when very powerful
is it at all disgusting. The Indians use the gland which furnishes
the secretion as a cure for headache, and other maladies. 166
through up to the hocks at every stride, and
wounded about the legs by the sharp ice, he soon
turns to bay, and is easily shot by the hunter when
he comes up. This is almost the only way, except
by watching their bathing-places in the rivers and
lakes in summer, that this wary animal can be killed
by any but the most skilful hunters. Few half-breeds,
and not every Indian, is expert enough to track and
kill a moose under ordinary circumstances, and it is
a saying amongst them that a man may follow
moose all his life, and never even catch sight of one.
Frequenting the thickest forests, where he can only
be seen when close at hand, his sense of hearing is
so acute that the snapping of the smallest twig or
the crackling of a dry leaf is sufficient to give him
warning. The advent of a chronic cough has brought
many a noted moose-hunter to the brink of starvation,
and compelled him to seek some other method of
obtaining subsistence. A windy day offers the best
chance of approaching him, when the noises of the
woods drown the sound of the hunter's stealthy footsteps. The moose adopts a cunning stratagem to
guard against surprise. When about to rest, lie
walks in a circle and lies down within it, close to the
commencement of the curve. Thus the hunter following the track unconsciously passes close beside
him as he lies concealed, and whilst his pursuer
follows the trail ahead, he dashes away on one
side unseen. This year, however, on the 30th of
March, the thaw set in suddenly and completely,
so  that  no  firm   crust  formed on  the   snow,   and WALKING   DURING  THE   THAW.
our anticipations of sport were altogether disappointed.
Cheadle was at this time far away in the woods
with Bruneau, and immediately started homewards.
They were only able to travel at night, when it was
frosty, for snow-shoes are useless in a thaw. On the
second evening these broke down, from being continually wet, and they were obliged to flounder along
as they could without them. Nothing can be more
fatiguing than walking through deep snow at the
commencement of the thaw. The thin crust on the
surface will bear the weight of a man in some places,
and you walk on triumphantly for a few yards, and
then are suddenly shaken to pieces by crashing
through up to your middle. Struggling on, wading
through the mass until you come to another stronger
portion, you step on to it, and are again let down with
a run. Travelling like this all night brought them to
the edge of the lake, only two miles from the hut.
But they were too exhausted to proceed further, and
lighting a good fire, lay down and slept for several
hours, after which they were sufficiently restored to
be equal to the walk home across the lake.
We now prepared to leave our winter quarters,
as soon as the snow had disappeared sufficiently to
admit of travelling with carts. The first thing to do
was to find the horses, which had been turned loose
at the commencement of the winter. We had seen
them or their tracks from time to time, and knew in
what direction they had wandered. La Ronde followed their trail without  difficulty,   and  discovered THE  NORTH-WEST   PASSAGE  BY   LAND.
them about eight or ten miles away. We were very
much astonished at their fine condition when he
drove them back to La Belle Prairie. Although very
thin when the snow began to fall, and two of them
had been used for sleigh work in the early part of
the winter, they were now perfect balls of fat, and
as wild and full of spirit as if fed on corn—a most
unusual condition for Indian horses. The pasture is
so nutritious that animals fatten rapidly even in
winter—when they have to scratch away the snow to
feed—if they find woods to shelter them from the
piercing winds. No horses are more hardy or enduring than those of this country, yet their only food
is the grass of the prairies and the vetches of the
copses. The milch cows and draught oxen at Red
River,  and in  Minnesota,  feeding  on  grass   alone,
were   generally  in  nearly  as  fine condition as the
stall-fed cattle of the Baker Street Show.
On the 3rd of April we loaded our carts and
turned our backs on La Belle Prairie, not without
feelings of regret. Our Indian friends were all away,
and we reluctantly set out without saying good-bye to
either the Hunter or Misquapamavoo. On the 6th of
April we reached the Saskatchewan, which we found
still firmly frozen over, and crossed on the ice. At
Carlton we found Treemiss, on his way back to England, and he started with La Ronde the next day for
Red River. We sent Rover with them, as we were
afraid of losing him after reaching British Columbia—
a mistake we have never ceased to regret. As our
uide forward we engaged Baptiste Supernat, a tall,
powerful, French half-breed, who professed to know
the route we intended to follow as far as T6te
Jaune's Cache, on the western side of the main
ridge of the Rocky Mountains. After resting
three days at the Fort, we re-crossed the river on
the ice, already beginning to break up, and journeyed
quietly along the northern bank, towards Fort
Pitt. We took two carts and two horses with us,
and as Baptiste was our only attendant, one of us
drove, while the other walked a-head to look for
game. The weather was beautifully bright and fine,
and the snow had almost gone. Flocks of ducks
and geese passed continually, and the whistling
of their wings, as they flew overhead on their way
northwards, went on incessantly all night, almost
preventing sleep. The country we passed through
was of the usual rich character—mingled woods,
rolling prairies, and lakes and streams—except for
one day's journey, when we crossed a bleak and
barren tract. This was a level plain, backed by an
amphitheatre of bare, rugged hills. But beyond this,
at a place called the Source, from a river which
springs out of the ground there, the country resumed
its former character.
Baptiste proved, like all his race, very talkative,
and told us many curious stories, in the truth of
which, perhaps, not very great faith could be placed.
One of these tales was the following:—Many years
ago, but within the memory of people still living, an
Indian found a piece of native iron in the neighbourhood of Edmonton,   which   he   carried   out  to the
Hit —"I
plains, and placed on the top of a hill. Since that
time it had regularly increased in size, and was now
so large that no man could lift it! The only thing
which makes this tale worth mentioning, is that it
obtains universal credence amongst the half-breeds.
Many of them profess to have seen it, and one man
told us he had visited it twice. On the first
occasion he lifted it with ease; on the second,
several years afterwards, he was utterly unable to
move it! The man most solemnly assured us this
was perfectly true.
Baptiste also told us that many years ago a
nugget of gold was brought to Mr. Rowand, of
Edmonton, by an Indian, who stated he had found
it near the foot of the Rocky Mountains. The gold
was forwarded to the Company in England, and the
Indian strictly enjoined to tell no man, lest something evil should happen unto him.
At Jack Fish Lake we met Gaytchi Mohkamarn
and some Wood Crees of our acquaintance. The
former apologised for eating our meat in the winter,
urging the dire necessity which compelled him.
After accompanying us for a day, they left us,
seeming really sorry that they would see us no more.
The principal difficulty we met with in this part of
our journey was the crossing of rivers, which were
now bank full from the melted snows. We generally
adopted the plan of making a small raft, on which
one of us crossed; then, with a rope from either
bank, we hauled the raft backwards and forwards,
until the baggage was all ferried over.     The horses CROSSING   SWOLLEN   RIVERS.
were made to swim the stream, and the carts
dragged across. This we found rather miserable
work, standing up to our knees in the icy water,
sometimes in the chilly evening, or the raw cold of
early morning.
One river we crossed on a narrow bridge of ice
which had not yet broken up. A large fissure
extended down the middle, through which we could
see the waters boiling along beneath. Taking the
wheels off one of the carts, we pushed the body
before us on the ice, and placed it as a bridge across
the dangerous portion. As we removed the cart,
when everything had been brought over, the ice
broke up in great masses, which were whirled away
down stream, and in a few minutes the river
was open.
Some days before we reached Fort Pitt, we were
overtaken by a party of the Company's men from
Carlton, who accompanied us for the rest of the
journey. They travelled on foot, and their baggage
was carried on " travailles," drawn by dogs. A
" travaille" is an Indian contrivance, consisting of
two poles fastened together at an acute angle, with
cross-bars between. The point of the angle rests
upon the back of the dog or horse, the diverging
ends of the poles drag along the ground, and the
baggage is tied on to the cross-bars. The Indians
use these contrivances instead of carts. The newcomers were out of provisions and ammunition, and
depended upon our liberality for subsistence. . We
had little left, and had to work hard to kill a sufficient mmm
ill tSfe
number of ducks and prairie chickens, for ten hungry"
men will eat a great many brace of birds.
A peculiarity of the prairie grouse enabled us to
procure a good supply of them. In the spring of the
year these birds assemble together at sunrise and
sunset, in parties of from twenty to thirty, at some
favourite spot, generally a little hillock, or rising
ground, and dance—yes, dance like mad! The
prairie grouse is a running bird, and does not ordinarily progress by hopping; but on these festive
occasions, they open their wings, put both feet
together, and hop like men in sacks, or the birds in
a pantomime, or " The Perfect Cure," up to one
another, waltz round, and " set" to the next! A
prairie chicken dance is a most ludicrous sight, and
whilst they are. engaged in it, they become so
absorbed in the performance that it is easy to
approach them. Their places of rendezvous are
recognisable at once from the state of the ground,
the grass being beaten perfectly flat in a circular
patch, or worn away by the constant beating of feet.
At the present juncture we took advantage of
their weakness for a social hop, and broke up the
ball in a most sanguinary manner, justified, we hope,
by the dire necessity. We never, however, took this
mean advantage of them except when driven by
actual hunger to obtain food in the best manner
we could.
The prairie was at this time very beautiful, being
covered with the large blue flowers of a species of
anemone.      The  grouse   feed  greedily   upon   them. PORT   PITT.
when   in  blOom,   and we always found their crops
full of them.
On the 20th we made a forced march, in order
to get in that night, travelling very fast and hard all
day, and we were very weary before we saw the
welcome stockade, and gained the hospitable quarters of Mr. Chantelaine, who reigned at this time at
Fort Pitt.
Fort Pitt stands, like Carlton, on the flat below
the high old bank of the river Saskatchewan, and is a
similar building, but of smaller size. This establishment furnishes the largest quantity of pemmican and
dry meat for the posts more' distant from the plains.
The buffalo are seldom far from Fort Pitt, and often
whilst there is famine at Carlton and Edmonton, the
people of the " Little Fort," as it is called, are
feasting on fresh meat every day.
The farming, although carried on in somewhat
primitive fashion, is very productive. Potatoes are
abundant, and attain an immense size; carrots and
turnips grow equally well, and wheat would no
doubt flourish as luxuriantly here as at Edmonton,
or Red River, were there sufficient inducement to
sow it.
We stayed several days visiting the Indians who
were encamped around, and trading a few horses
from them. Cheadle was fully employed, for the
advent of a white medicine man is so rare an event,
that every one seized the opportunity to employ his
services, or ask his advice; and he was expected
not  only  to   cure   present   ailments    and  prophesy
I 174
concerning prospective ones, but also, with retrospective view, declare what course ought to have
been pursued in various cases long gone by. The
little community in and around the hut was in a
state of intense excitement. Peace had just been
concluded between the Crees and the Blackfeet;
large camps of both nations were within a day or
two's journey of the Fort. From these there was a
continual going and coming of visitors, all anxious
to avail themselves of the rare occasion of a peace,
generally only of very short duration. On these state
visits by the members of one tribe to those of the
other, the men adorned themselves in gaudiest finery
and brightest paint. Scarlet leggings and blankets,
abundance of ribbons in the cap, if any were worn,
or the hair plaited into a long queue behind, and two
shorter ones hanging down on each side the face in
front, each bound round by coils of bright brass
wire; round the eyes a halo of bright vermilion, a
streak down the nose, a patch on each cheek, and a
circle rounrj. the mouth of the same colour, constituted the most effective toilet of a Cree dandy.
During our stay here a party of Blackfeet arrived to trade. They were fine-looking fellows,
generally better dressed and cleaner than other
Indians. They appeared of a less stature than the
Crees, but still tall and well made. Their faces were
very intelligent, their features being strongly marked,
the nose large, well formed, straight or slightly
Roman, the cheek-bones less prominent, and the
lips thinner than in the Cree.    The mouth was large,
and the teeth beautifully white, as in all Indians.
The dress of the men differed but little from that of
their ancient enemies, the Crees, except being generally cleaner and in better preservation. The faces
of both men and women were highly painted with
vermilion. The dress of the latter was very singular
and striking. It consisted of long gowns of buffalo
skin, dressed, beautifully soft, and dyed with yellow
ochre. This was confined at the waist by a broad belt
of the same material, thickly studded over with round
brass plates, the size of a crown piece, brightly
polished. These Indians were very dignified in
manner, submitting with great composure to the
gaze of an inquisitive crowd of half-breeds and
Crees, who looked with eager interest at a race
seldom seen by them, except when meeting on the
Although peace had been proclaimed, it was not
by any means improbable that some of the young
Cree braves might attempt to steal the Blackfeet
horses. Mr. Chantelaine, therefore, had them secured
for the night together with ours, within the Fort. On
the morrow a Cree came in from the camp on the
plain with the news that hostilities were imminent,
on account of a Cree woman having been killed in
the Blackfoot camp. She had gone there to be
married to a Blackfoot chief, but on her arrival
another took a fancy to her. A quarrel arose, and,
to put an end to the matter, one of them stabbed the
woman to the heart. Mr. Chantelaine immediately
communicated the news to the Blackfoot chief, and
H '
£* fl
advised him to be off at once. He agreed to this,
and in a few minutes they crossed the river. As
they landed on the other side, a Blackfoot runner,
stripped to his breech cloth, breathless and excited,
met them, having been sent to warn them of impending danger. Eventually the alarm turned out
to be a false one, and the peace continued unbroken
for the few weeks we remained on the Saskatchewan.
At Fort Pitt we engaged another man, who, like
Baptiste, expressed his willingness to go with us as
far as we might require. Our new attendant, Louis
Battenotte, more generally known by the sobriquet
of " The Assiniboine," from his having been brought
up in childhood by that tribe, was a middle-sized
though athletic man, of very Indian appearance.
His hair was long and black, and secured by a fillet
of silk, his nose prominently aquiline, his mouth
small, -and with unusually thin and delicate lips.
His manner was very mild and pleasing, and the
effect of this was increased by the singular softness
and melody of his voice.
At the time we were at Fort Pitt, his youngest
child fell ill and died, and he and his wife became so
unhappy and unsettled on account of the loss, that
they became anxious to leave the scene of their
misfortune, and volunteered to accompany us. We
were willing enough, and indeed anxious, to secure
the services of the man, who had the reputation of
being the most accomplished hunter and voyageur of
the district, but demurred for a long time to his
proposal to take with  him his wife  and  son—the THE   ASSINIBOINE
latter a boy of thirteen. We were, however, so
charmed with the fellow, that we at last agreed, not
without many misgivings as to the wisdom of allowing what we thought would be supernumeraries on
a journey so difficult as ours would be across the
mountains, and through a country where food would
be exceedingly scarce and hard to obtain. But this
arrangement, which appeared of such doubtful wisdom
at the time, eventually proved our salvation.
"The Assiniboine,"   although  he  possessed  but
one hand—the left one having been shattered by the
bursting of a gun,
which left but two fingers—was
^as useful and expert as if he were unmaimed. His
gentle and insinuating manners, which had so fascinated us, belied his character, for he was passionate
and violent, and although his countenance beamed
forth benevolent, and he cooed softly as any dove
when at peace, yet, when angry and excited, his
aspect became perfectly fiendish, and his voice
thundered like the roar of a Hon. But he proved a
valuable servant in our many difficulties afterwards,
and we never regretted being misled by his seductive manners. We learnt subsequently that he had
killed another half-breed in a drunken squabble, and
had been dismissed the Company's service and ex-"
communicated by the priest in consequence. The
murdered man was, however, a notorious bully, the
dread and terror of all the half-breeds. Every one
agreed, moreover, that the provocation had been excessive, and the deed done in a moment of passion.
We left Fort Pitt on the 28th of April, choosing
ii 178
the road on the north side of the river, as it was
not advisable to encounter the vast numbers of
plain Indians now collected together on the south.
The first night after our departure we kept careful
watch over our horses, fearful lest the Indians from
whom we had purchased them might attempt, to
steal them back. For it is common enough for them
to repent having parted with their horses, and ease
their minds by again taking possession of their
former property. The night passed quietly, and we
turned in with daylight for a few hours' rest before
starting again.
We now entered a most glorious country—not
indeed grandly picturesque, but rich and beautiful
a country of rolling hills and fertile valleys, of lakes-
and streams, groves of birch and aspen, and miniature prairies; a land of a kindly soil, and full of
promise to the settler to come in future years,
when an enlightened policy shall open out the wealth
now uncared-for or unknown.
Our live stock was increased before reaching
Edmonton by the birth of a foal, but this did not
delay us in the least. The foal was tied on to a
I travaille " for the first day, and thus drawn along by
its mother; and after that marched bravely all day,
swimming the rivers we had to cross in gallant style.
On the way we frequently met with marks of the
labours of the beaver in days long gone by, when they
were a numerous and powerful race ; and at one place
we found a long chain of marshes, formed by the
damming up of a stream which had now ceased to  i
exist. Their dwelling had been abandoned ages ago,
for the house had become a grassy mound on the dry
land, and the dam in front a green and solid bank.
On Dog River, a small tributary of the Saskatchewan, a colony of these animals still survived.
We found fresh tracks along the bank, and a few
small trees cut down; and following these indications up the stream, we came upon the dam. This
was a weir of trunks and. branches, over which the
water poured gently, to resume a more rapid course
below. In the quiet pool above, and close to the
opposite bank, stood the beaver house, a conical
structure of six or seven feet in height, formed of
poles and branches plastered over with mud. We
watched long and silently, hid amongst the bushes
which fringed the stream, hoping for a sight of
some of the tenants, but in vain. This settlement
must have been in existence a very long time, for
we saw stumps of trees which had been cut down
by them, now moss-grown and rotten. Some of
these were of large size, one measuring more than
two feet in diameter. The beaver had fallen off
wofully from the glory of their ancestors, not only
in the number and size of the communities, but in
the magnitude of their undertakings.
The trees cut down more lately were all comparatively small, and it would seem as if a number
of beaver worked at the same tree, and a weak
colony felt unequal to attempt one of the giants
which their forefathers would not have hesitated to
attack.    Nor did we ever discover any considerable
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stream dammed up by beaver of this present time—a
work requiring large timber, and numerous workmen; yet we frequently met with the grass-grown
banks described, works of the golden age gone by,
stretched across what had been streams of thirty or
forty yards in width.
At a place called Snake Hills, we again struck
the banks of the Saskatchewan; and as the road on
the north side beyond this point was merely a pack
trail through the woods, we prepared to cross the
river, in order to follow the regular cart track along
the southern bank. We were at first rather puzzled
how to get over, for the river was deep and wide,
and we were unable to find any timber wherewith to
make a raft. But the ingenuity of " The Assiniboine "
was not long at fault. He built a slender framework
of green willows, tied together with strips of hide,
and covered this with a buffalo skin tightly
stretched and well greased at all the seams. This
frail canoe was but six feet long, two in breadth,
and about the same in depth. Baptiste acted as
ferryman, and transferred the baggage safely across.
Then came Cheadle's turn, and his thirteen stone,
added to the weight of the ponderous Baptiste,
sunk the light craft to the water's edge. A log of
wood was attached on one side to prevent the canoe
from capsizing, and the two pushed off on their
uncertain voyage. The slightest rocking caused
the boat to ship water, which also oozed rapidly
through the pervious skin, and Cheadle viewed
with some anxiety the gradual sinking of one of the most fragile vessels mortal ever embarked in. The
leakage went on rapidly, and the water crept up
outside until it really appeared to overhang the
brim. It was already nearly dark, and the prospect
of immersion appeared so imminent that the passenger became seriously uncomfortable. The bank was
reached only just in time, for the water was already
beginning to trickle over the side.
Milton was next brought over, and the rest
remained behind to superintend the passage of
the horses and carts in the morning. The latter
were brought over in a very easy and simple
manner. Each cart was attached by a rope from
one of the shafts to the tail of a horse, the animals driven into the water, and the carts pushed
after them,. Being built entirely of wood, these
floated in their proper position, and the horses
swam across with them without difficulty.
When the carts were again loaded, we found
the banks so steep that the horses were unable to
drag them up the ascent. We possessed no extra
harness by which to attach another horse, but made
shift after the fashion of the country, by a rope
from the shaft to a horse's tail. It was necessary
to start gently, in order