BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

Notes and comments on Harmon's journal, 1800-1820 Bryce, George, 1844-1931 1883

Item Metadata


JSON: bcbooks-1.0222523.json
JSON-LD: bcbooks-1.0222523-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): bcbooks-1.0222523-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: bcbooks-1.0222523-rdf.json
Turtle: bcbooks-1.0222523-turtle.txt
N-Triples: bcbooks-1.0222523-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: bcbooks-1.0222523-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

The Reminiscences  of a Far Trader.     Mr.
ences «in the Northwest.
Harmon's  Ex peri •
:: At the regjilar meeting of the Historical and Scientific Society, Dec. 13th, 1883,
the proceedings were of an interest-
pig nature. We give here the paper
read by Rev. Professor Bryce on Fur-
trader Harmon's book, which was very
well received. A vote of thanks was accorded to Professor Bryce for his paper,
and also to Mr. Alexander Kippen, who
presented Harmon's book to the society.
The following gentlemen were elected
members of the society : Rev. Principal
King,  Rev. C. B. Pitblado,   Messrs.   F.
E. Gautier,    J.   A.   Campbell,   W.   W.
Buchanan, Wm. Martin,   W. D. Russell,
F. L. Patton, W. S. Grant, Wm. Lindsay (Stonewall), Wm. Ashdown, sr.,
Wilson Irwin, Dr. Ralston. In connection with the proposed exhibition scheme
it was informally stated that a number of
people had promised to lend articles, and
there is a prospect of a sufficient collec-
tiod being obtained. It was arranged
that at the next meeting, two weeks from I
date, Mr. J. H. Panton will read a |
paper dealing with some places of last
summer's trip to Calgary.
EPihe following   interesting   paper   was
read by Rev. Prof. Bryce :—
The arrival of the Selkirk Colonists
on the banks of Red River in 1812, is the
era when to most persons the historic
period of the Winnipeg District begins.
It is quite true that occasional references
are made to an earlier period in the
archives of the old Government of New
France, which are now in Paris, and to
some extent known to us through the researches of Mr. Margry. The explorers
referred to in these records came northwestward from Lake Superior from
1731-52, and built forts at a number of
points in our region. Qn Lake of the
Woods was Fort St. Charles, at the
mouth of Winnipeg River Fort Maurepas,
at the Forks near the site of this city
was Fort Rouge, at Portage la Prairie
Fort de La Reine, between Lakes Winnipeg and Manitoba Fort Dauphin, and
near the Saskatchewan mouth Fort Bour
bon. The references made to these are
very meagre however, and have not
much more interest for us than the famous expedition of Lewis and Clarke, up
the Missouri in 1804-6, or than the wanderings of Hennepin at an earlier date up
the Mississippi. Their continuity was
lost, and when our present history
began, as I have been assured by one
of Lork Selkirk's earliest band of Colonists, there was no tr„ce of these forts remaining. While the Nor'west Company
and Hudson's Bay Company had, before
1812, forts in the district referred to, it
is somewhat striking that the books referring to Rupert's Land up to that date
chiefly deal with the regions further north. Sir Alexander Mackenzie (1789-93) in Iris absorbing book carries us to, the regions beyond—to far away
Athabasca, the Peace River, and the
mighty stream named after himself.
Hearne (1769-72) deals with the subarctic territory Northwest of Hudson's
Bay to the Arctic Sea. Jonathan Carver
(1766-68) leaves us a most interesting
account of a journey far northwestward.
Alexander Henry (1800-1816) passes
throught the district, but he too is largely
taken up with the free trade in the Saskatchewan and the distant ports, while
we could have wished that there could
have been placed in our hands in printed
form, what still remains only a manuscript, the journal of Mr. David Thompson, surveyor of the Nor'west Company
(1796-98), and which describes the country and the posts to some extent at that
In this remarkable absence of historical data of our Winnipeg district, it is
with real delight that I announce through
the kind offices of Mr. A. Kippen, Mr. C
N. Bell, a member of our society has obtained from Prince Albert the only copy
that I am aware of as being in the country of
habmon's journal (1800-1820).
I had   met   it in the Hudson's Bay Company   Library   in   London, but   it is a
 genuine prize to fall into the hands of
our society. I am reminded by the finding
of this prize so far West as Prince Albert,
of a visit to Gladstone, 100 miles west
of Winnipeg, a few years ago when in so
new and unlikely aplace,asettler who had
carried west his household gods, gave
me the copy of the celebrated '' Breeches
Bible " printed in 1644. What makes
this present the more interesting is that
in Ottawa a daughter of the traveller is
still living and known to the writer and
other members of this society. On account of the rarity of the book I propose
to give a sketch of some interesting facts
scattered through it for the members of
our society, with notes and comments
upon them.
The writer, D. W. Harmon, was an American from Vergennes, in the State of Vermont, and was bom in the year 1778.. Attracted north to Montreal by the fame of
the Nor'west Company, which offered not
only adventure for the young and the
brave, but also a competence for the
energetic and the capable, the young
Vermonter had left home at the age of
22, and bound himself for seven years to
undergo the hardships of the fur trade.
There are in the possession of this society
specimens as old as the year 1784, being
before Harmon's day, of the agreements
by which the Nor'westers bound their employes. Washington Irving in one of his
books has given us with all his brilliancy
of description an account of the Nor'west
Traders of Canada, and certainly their
life was full of the picturesque as thus
•they sallied forth from Montreal in
search of the Western Colchis to bring
back the golden fleece. To one who has
gone up the Ottawa it is interesting to
follow the youth, new to his work, leaving Lachine on 29th April, 1800, portaging the loads, repairing canoes, «marking
bales, killing game, passing ihe site of
the city of Ottawa "the three kettles,"
counting with melancholy feeling the
fourteen crosses at Roche Capitaine
Portage, marking as they did an equal
number of victims to the dangerous navigation of the Rapids, and as the voyagers
. left one stream to go up or down another,
they pulled off their hats and made the
sign of the cross for protection. How
natural amid their dangers, when at one
single rapid, could he counted no less
than 30 memorial crosses of their companions gathered in by the voracious
deep ! With interesting minuteness the
journal chronicles the journey through
Lakes Huron and Superior, to the Grand
Portage, the great rendezvous of the
Nor'west Company. This was on the
shore northwest of Isle Royale and some
forty-five. miles southwest of the great
fort erected on Thunder Bay at the mouth
of the Kaministiquia, which was named
after William McGillivray, the head of
the Nor'west Company, Fort William.
The voyageurs who had accompanied our
traveller now returned to Montreal, and
those who carried him forward were a
new and daring set of men. They looked
contemptuously on the voyageurs from
Montreal to Grand Portage, whom they
called "mangeurs de lard," pork eaters,
from the dried provisions used in the
absence of game coming up the lakes.
The inland voyageurs rejoiced in the
name "coureurs des bois" or wood rangers,
going as they did to Athabasca and the
Rocky Mountains. Omitting many interesting incidents, Harmon is found on July
29th coming into our Winnipeg district
as he crossed the Lake of the Woods.
Before noting some points of interest
in a more collected form we shall give a
few of the entries in the journal of the
traveller as he goes from Lake of the
Woods to Swan River.
July 31st, 1800. Mouth of the River
Winipick (sic). "Here the Nor'west
Company and the Hudson's Bay Company
have each a fort. The soil is good; among
the fruit I observe the red plum; the
grape also grows wiid in this vicinity."
Note.—Here appears the furthest point
(except Rainy Lake) towards Lake Superior to which the Hudson's Bay Company at this date had gone. In 1774 the
two companies had first met at Fort
Cumberland on the Saskatchewan, and
there was nothing but conflict for forty-
seven years till their union. This post,
"Lake Winnipeg," was founded in 1795.
Fort Alexander is still maintained in this
locality by the H. B. Co.'
Aug. 3rd. The same place.-—"As a
substitute for bread, we now make use of
what the natives call pimican, which consists of lean meat, dried and pounded fine
and then mixed with melted fat. This
compound is put into bags, made of the
skins of the buffalo, etc., and when cold
it becomes a solid body. Pimican is a
very palatable, nourishing and healthy
Aug. 8.—" This evening JMons. Mayotte
took a woman of this country for a wife.
All the ceremonies attending such an
event are the following: When a person
is desirous of taking one of the daughters
of the natives, he makes a present to the
 parents of the damsel, of such articles as
he supposes will be most acceptable, and
among them rum is indispensable, for of
that all the savages are fond to excess.
Should the parents accept the articles offered, the girl is clothed in the Canadian
Note—This was long before the arrival
of a clergyman in the Northwest. Further notice will be taken of NorVester
customs as to marriage.
Aug. 10.—"Although wearenotinwant
of provisions, yet our people have killed
a dog to eat, the flesh of which, they say,
is delicious "
Note.—This was notthe Indians but the
Nor'west voyageurs.
Harmon now leaves with his party,
failing northward half the length of Lake
Winnipeg, and enters the river Dauphine,
which leads to his destination.
Aug. 17.—"The country about this
lake is low; and is overspread with pretty
heavy timber, and the soil appears to be
Aug. 20.—"We see a great number of
swans, bustards, pelicans, etc.
Aug. 24.—Little Lake Winnipick (Win-
Aug. 30.—" We are now nearly across
the lake, which is about 120 miles long,
and from five to thirty broad. The land
about it is generally low and well covered
with timber, which consists of a species of
pine, birch, poplar, aspen, willow, etc.
We here take, in nets, the white-fish, which
are excellent."
Sept. 1.—"I have passed the day in
reading the Bible, and in meditating on
my present way of living; and, I must
confess, that it too much resembles that
of a savage."
Oct. 9.—"We are now encamped around
a large fire, with plenty of food; I have
given to each of the people a dram, and
we have all ceased to think of the fatigue
and trouble of the day. To make a place
to lie down, the people scrape away the
snow and lay down a few branches of the
pine, (Note—the spruce) such as this
country in every part produces ; and on
this we spread a blanket or two and cover
ourselves with another. A day of hard
labour and great fatigue will enable a
person to sleep soundly on such a bed ;
and to obtain refreshment such as a sluggard will seek for in vain on a bed of
Our traveller has at last arrived in the
part of the country where for some years
his lot is to be cast. The older residents
of Manitoba are all familiar with the
"Swan River District." Tt is now a
part of this Province, and, lying west of
Lake Winnipegoosis, is say 250 miles
northwest of this city. The young trader
of twenty-two is at once thrown into his
work, which is nothing less than taking
charge of a fort. The superintendent of
Swan River Fort is to accompany Harmon so far and begin the enterprise of
erecting another fort, and allow the
novice to proceed. We must be careful
to realize what is meant by a fort. The
two forts on Red River up to last year—
Upper and Lower Fort Garry—were
worthy of the name. We may well bear
a grudge to the H. B. Co., from an archaeological point of view, that our Fort
Garry, in which we took so just a pride,
is now a thing of the past, and that the
company with two hundred years of a
most picturesque history, succumbed to
the spirit of the hour and cleared away
this historic land-mark. This, in passing ; but the-forts that the disputants as
to the boundary-line of Ontario are continually reminding us of as being scattered with such profusion over the Northwest in French days, were certainly not
nearly such formidable objects should
one desire to attack them, as the famous
windmill which brought Don Quixote to
grief in his war-like adventure, Mons.
Perigne, of Swan River Fort, sallies forth
valiantly, with six men, on the borders of
winter to erect a fort at Bird Mountain.
Harmon's Fort, one hundred miles to the
west of Swan River Fort, is named Alexandria. It is interestingto read that it stood
on the bank of the Assiniboine, or Upper
Red River. It was westward of Fort
Pelly. The stockade around Fort Alexandria was 256 ft.xl42 ft. Those familiar with Northwest life can picture to
themselves the buildings arranged one
side of the square on the interior, the
stores according to a regular plan,
leaving the central space for the
natives to gather and hold their
pow-wow. In this case the buildings were whitewashed inside and outside
with a while earth, which travelers so far
west as the Bow River in the Rocky
Mountains may still see used in the absence of lime for the same purpose. Harmon found matters a good
deal different from the surroundings
of his quiet Puritan home in Vermont.
In reply to his reproof given his men for
playing cards on Sunday, he is informed
 that there is no " Sunday in this country,
and no God nor devil," and before his
second month had expired he was witness
in the fort itself of an Indian brawl in
which eight families of Crees participated,
and regarding which he makes the very
mild comment, " to see a house full of
drunken Indians, consisting of men,
women and children, is a most unpleasant
sight." It is, we are bound in justice to
state, one of the distinguishing features
of the Hudson's Bay Company, as contrasted with the Nor'westers, in their
dealings with the Indians, that they
would not sell strong drink to Indians.
The Nor'westers bear an unenviable
reputation on this subject.
One of the first fetes  the   young   fort-
master saw was the celebration of
st. Andrew's day.
Those of us who live in Winnipeg are
familiar enough with this annual festival,
and it affords the sons of Scotland an opportunity to air their eloquence. Probably this celebration of November 30th,
1800, is the earliest on Sfecord in Manitoba. Mr. Archibald Norman McLeod,
whom readers of the history of 1816 will
recognize as one of the prominent Nor'west officers, was at this time Bourgeois-" shop-keeper " of Alexandria Fort,
and being Scotch the day must be observed. The celebration seems to hav'e
partaken somewhat of a French charac
ter, no doubt from the employes having
been chiefly French-Canadians. We are
told that the people of the fort, agreeably to the custom of the country, early
in the morning presented him with a
cross, etc., and at the same time a number of others who were at his door discharged a volley or two of muskets."
Soon after, they were invited into the
hall, where they received a reasonable
dram, after which Mr. McLeod made
them a present, I am afraid, of a further
supply of the same article. The evening
closed with a grand entertainment. I
fear this mode of celebrating St. Andrew's day has not yet entirely disappeared from the world.
No sooner had the new year of 1801
passed, with its festivities, than the question of winter supplies arose. Men,
women and children must hie away to the
buffalo plains to engage in the hunt. The
traveller m Manitoba of less than ten
years ago often met father, mother, sons
and daughters all in from Edmonton or
the Far West on a trading expedition.
Manv   families   of   the   Metis  were   as
nomadic as the Bedouins. In the winter
expedition to the buffalo, the hunters and
their families lived in tents made of the
skins of the buffalo, moose and elk. One
tent was made of from ten to twenty-five
skins sewed together and spread and supported on poles, they had a sugar-loaf
form. Such a tent would hold from ten fill
fifteen persons. Harmon accompanied the
| hunters, and saw herds of "at least
thousands of buffaloes." The herds were
so tame that, at this season, they allowed
human'beings to approach within a few
rods of them. - One is reminded of the
rather improbable tales told of Fort Pembina early in this century, that buffalo
rubbed themselves contentedly against
the stockade of the enclosure, and would
allow a person to touch them with a stick
through the palisades of the fort. The
party was quite successful, and returned
with their sledges loaded with meat, and
I feasted for the remainder of the winter.
While speaking of transport, it may be
well to note a fact mentioned by Harmon
of some importance. At Alexandria he
of the natives for a mere trifle.    They are
said to have been well-built,  strong   and
: tolerably fleet.   The presence of the horse
; at this early period on our Northwestern
prairies is something   striking to   those
familiar with their great scarcity at the
I time of the Selkirk Sblonists ten or twelve
| years after.    It is well known the  horse
I is not indigenous to America, and the occurrence  in   such   abundance   at   Swan
River would indicate a considerable commerce with Central America, whence, in-
! troduced by the Spaniards,   the  creatujjfc
i so useful for the vast plains   must   have
I been brought up the Mississippi and Mis-
i$ souri valleys, and reached  our   northern
I latitudes.    That, however, the horse was
i much later than the dog in this region is
■ shown  by   the  Cree   name   for   horse:
i " mis-ta-tim," meaning "big dog."    The
j every-day life of a free trader could hardly
j be monotonous, but even in it episodes*of
; a   more   striking   kind occur.    Harmon
was on one occasion found adopting   the
role of
About July, 1802, one of the huntersin
his employ complained of having poor fortune in hunting. He complained that
whenever he fell upon the trail of somje
animal he was followed by an evil spirit.
As he approached the animal, the evil
spirit, just before he had come near
enough to take aim, with  a terrible voice
 frightened both himself and the game.
Like Tantalus, the poor hunter was always disappointed on the verge of success. Harmon undertook to exorcise the
demon. He took several drugs, mixed
them, sealed them up in white paper
tied them to the stock of the hunter's
gun, and told him to throw the paper behind him toward the alarming voice when
he heard it, and that it would stop the
spirit's tongue. He further warned him
not to look behind him, but to pursue the
axiimal, and he would undoubtedly kill,
him. His remedy succeeded, and Harmon, while rising to a high position of regard among the Indians, at least commands our appreciation as having had a
knowledge of human nature.
With his eyes open to the resources of
the country, our author speaks of what
was a considerable feature in old Red
River days, the manufacture of salt from
Salt Springs in the neighbourhood of
Lakes Manitoba and Winnipegoosis.
Only a few years ago salt of a stong quality
could be got in the Fort Garry store from
the Salt Springs of Lake Manitoba. So
early as Harmon's time in the Swan River
country water from salt springs was boiled
down and tolerable salt procured. It
seems to be found here in the upper
Silurian or Devonian strata, as in Ontario
and New York State, and will no doubt
yet prove a useful native industry, on a
much firmer basis than land speculation or
paper towns. He also speaks of sugar
being made from the sap of the maple—
not of course the true maple—but the
" Negundo Aceroides " so well known to
us all. The Misasquitomunuck (service
berry) berries receive, as is proper their
meed of praise. A feature that we do
not care to mention is also noted—the
grasshoppers. This is the earliest notice
(July 23rd, 1802,) unless it be Indian
stories of these pests, that has come to
my knowledge. We are quite familiar
with the fact that the Selkirk Colonists in
in 1818 and 1819 suffered from these terrible enemies of the farmer, but even at
this early date the American Desert to
the Southwest of us was sending its
unwelcome messengers to us.
The ability to open up new means of
transport, and discover as the country
was explored by their employes untried
routes, was a thing in which the Nor'west Company far exceeded the Hudson's
Bay Company before the union of the
two   companies.    The   Nor'westers   and
their men were chiefly colonists having
their headquarters in Montreal, while the
Hudson's Bay Company's men were
chiefly from Britain and could not be expected to show the same adaptability as
those brought up in the new world. Accordingly we find the route by way of
Lakes Winnipeg and Winnipegoosis
largely given up at this time for the later
journey, which has remained to this day,
by way of the Assiniboine. Harmon now
gets orders (1804) to come southward to
meet the superintendent of the district,
a Mr. Chaboillez, to transport goods
from what was considered the head of
navigation on the Assiniboine to his post.
This Mr. Chaboillez seems to have had
his headquarters near the mouth of the
Souris, where at this date there were
three forts, Brandon House, belonging
to the Hudson's Bay Company, after
which the City of Brandon is named ;
Assiniboine House, belonging to the Nor'west Company : and Souris River Fort,
belonging to the X. Y. Company, an offshoot of the Nor'west Company between
the years of 1796 and 1804, and to which
for the time being belonged the well-
known traders, Edward Ellice and Sir
Alexander Mackenzie. The junction of
the Souris and the Assiniboine is evidently among the key points of the fur
trade of the southern district. I had
the pleasure of visiting, on the western journey of the Historical Society
this summer, the sites of these
forts, and was glad to 'find them still
recognizable. I made measurements of
them, and will give details of their history
and topography in our forthcoming report. At this time (1804) it is interesting
to notice a circumstance mentioned by
our author, as showing the impingement
on the Northwest fur trade of a great exploratory expedition further south. Harmon is informed by Mr. Chamboillez, that
Captains Clarke & Lewis, with a hundred
and eighty soldiers, had arrived at the
Mandan village on the Missouri, a point
three days'marchsouthwestward of Souris
mouth, some 80 miles south of the boundary line. They had sent a message to
Mr. Chamboillez to visit them. On their
arrival they hoisted the American flag,
and Mr. C. stated they had behaved honorably to his people, who had gone thither
to trade with the natives. A pleasing
exchange of international courtesies!
The local traders of the three
forts at the Souris mouth seem to
have been on good terms with
one another, as an  entertainment of  the
 usual exuberant character is described by
Harmon. On the 30th of May, 1805, our
explorer with upwards of forty men, in
five boats and seven canoes, came down
the Assinniboine, leaving Souris mouth
On June 13th they reached Portage la
Prairie, where was a fort of the Nor'west Company called "Miserable," but
beautifully situated. Opposite the fort
there is stated to have been the plain we
know so well, sixty miles long and from
one to ten wide. We feel quite crestfallen as citizens of the Northwestern metropolis at the meagre notice given by
Harmon of our locality.    Here it is:
June 19th.—"The Forks. At this
place the upper and lower Red Rivers
form a junction. The country around is
pleasant, the soil appears to be excellent,
and it is tolerably well timbered with
oak, basswood, walnut, elm, poplar, aspen,
birch, etc. Grape vines and plum trees
are also seen." Alas! the change !
Where are our forests now ?
Passing down Red River, through
Lake Winnipeg, and back to the
Grand Portage by the route through
which he came, Harmon visited Fort
William—then the New Fort—whence,
after a short stay, he departs, now to go
to the far Northwest—Lake Athabasca,
Peace River and the Rocky Mountains.
We can only select a few illustrative
features of his new home.
It was not to have been expected that
the tone of life prevailing among restless
and reckless adventurers, such as entered
the fur trade, mingling with a savage and
dependent people, would be of the highest
order. The custom of the country of
making what was virtually a bargain and
sale of marriageable maidens by their
parents, for a consideration of a material
kind, seems to us undesirable enough.
Harmon relates, with considerable frankness, the proposal made him by a Cree
chief to give him one of his daughters, and
could such matters be made matter of
open negotiation the proposal was by no
means a dishonoring one. Said he : '"I
am fond of you, and my wish is to have
my daughter with the white people, for
she will be treated better by them than
by her own relations." The fur trader
politely declined the proposal, though,
he says, it would have secured the father's
furs and also those of all of his band.
Among the officers of the fur companies
there seems to have prevailed, in some
cases,   a   system   somewhat   resembling
the morganatic marriages of Germany.
Harmon thus states it : "It is
customary for all gentlemen who
remain for any length of time, in this
part of the world to have a female companion, with whom they can pass their
time more socially and agreeably, than to
live a lonely life, as they must do, if
single : and when they return to their native land, they place the ci-devant wife
under the protection of some honest man,
with whom she can pass the remainder of
her days in this country, much more
agreeably, than it would be forcible for
her to do, were she to be taken down into
the civilized world, to the manners, customs and language of which she would be
an entire stranger." This custom, while
not so heartless, nor so debasing as others
that might be named, could hardly be
supposed to satisfy a man seemingly
of such moral ideas as Harmon
was. Accordingly the wife he selected
from among the dusky maidens
of the land, was retained by him as lawful wife when he retired some 15 years
afterwards from the fur trading service to
take up his abode in the East. His wife,
for so she must be called, though recognized as such by no legal formalities—for
such were impossible in the wilderness—
was the daughter of a French Canadian
who had married from among the Snare
Indians, at the base»f the Rocky Mountains. While in the Northwest, mention
is made of the birth of three children,
the eldest of whom, George Harmon,
was sent to Vermont as a boy to be educated, but whose death caused the deepest sorrow to father and mother in their
far away Northern home. When in 1819
the time came for the fur trader to leave
the country he says : '' The mother of
my children will accompany me ; and if
she shall be satisfied to remain in my native land, I design to make her regularly
my wife by formal marriage. * * * I
am under a moral obligation not to dissolve the connection if she is willing to
continue it. Ever since my own mind
was turned effectually to the subject of
religion I have taken pains to instruct her
in the great doctrines and duties of Christianity. My exertions have not been in
vain." During the retirement of his
Athabaska life, the echo of the
in 1815-16 came to him by letters. He,
of course, looked at these events from a
Northwester standpoint. In November,
1816, the news reached him of the great
conflict   in   June,   by   which  Governor
 Semple and some twenty of Lord Selkirk's employes were cruelly put to
death. As was the usual way of putting
it, Lord Selkirk's colonists and the Hu<J-
son's Bay Company were the aggressors
in seizing Nor'West forts, in carrying
Nor'Western officers to Hudson's Bay,
and even in sallying forth upon the Bois
Brules, who, Harmon's informant tells.
him, were many of them without gun or
ammunitien. Those who have paid more
attention to the subject know how incorrect a version of the affair this is. Lord
Selkirk is spoken of as having the frenzy
of a madman, in still resolving to pursue
his wild projects. In 1819 our author
reached Fort William, homeward
bound, having done good service
for nearly twenty years to his employers,
having occupied positions of trust, even
over the mountains in New Caledonia,
and retired, not only with unsullied reputation, but with the character of a Christian gentleman. The work of editing his
journal was well done by a Vermont
clergyman named Daniel Haskel. In the
preface written by this gentleman is an
account of a proposed scheme, of which,
so far as I know, there is no other account.    This was the establishment of   a
in the interior for retired officers, traders
and trapper* and their families. Anyone
familiar with the conflicts of the Hudson's Bay Company and the Nor'west
Company can see the meaning of this.
The Red River Colony had been established by Lord Selkirk. All efforts to
destroy it had failed. The appearance of
the noble Earl himself on the banks of
the Red River with his hundred or two of
De Meurons had dashed the hopes of the
Nor'west Company of gaining supremacy there.    The half-breed families were
beginning to gather round the Red River
settlement. Should this take place
to any large extent, the Hudson's Bay
Company must win in the race of competition. In the establishments of the
Nor'west Company there were at the
time from twelve to fifteen hundred
women and children, wholly or in part of
Indian extraction. The attractions of a
settlement on Red River could not be re-
I sisted by many of these, and so they
would be lost as Nor'west workers and
employes. The Nor'west Company proposed to start a rival settlement in the
Rainy River Country. To make a beginning in cultivating the land, erecting
mills, and the like, the company proposed
to give $15,000 or $20,000 and appoint
| one of the partners superintendent of the
settlement. The partners and clerks
in the Indian country itself had
subscribed several thousand dollars to
begin a school either at Rainy Lake or
Fort William for the benefit of the
children at the several posts, who would
be sent to this centre for education. It
was further proposed to begin missionary
enterprises in the new settlement. How
different the history of the Red River
settlement would have been had this
scheme gone on, it would be difficult to
say for the Nor'westers had great influence with the Bois-Brules. As it was,
these elements of our population had in
1870 grown to 10,000 on the banks of
Red River, besides the many employed
at posts of the Hudson's Bay Co. all over
the Northwest. The centre of gravity of
the Northwest might have been at Fort
Francis instead of Fort Garry had the
scheme gone on, but it received its death
blow by the union of the two great fur
companies in 1821.   .


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items