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On the old Athabaska trail. With nineteen illustrations Burpee, Lawrence J. (Lawrence Johnstone), 1873-1946 1926

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     On the Old Athabaska Trail    ON THE OLD 
With Nineteen Illustrations 
THE RYERSON PRESS Printed in Great Britain by
The Camelot Press Limited,
London and Southampton DEDICATED TO
TRADE     .    .    . .    .
LAKE CAVELL   .    .    .    .    .    .
VALLEY . § .     I   .
EMPEROR FALLS   . . . ...
OF     THE
Facing Page
The pages that follow are an attempt to hang upon
the somewhat slender thread of my own experiences
the story of the Old Athabaska Trail, for many
years the main thoroughfare of travel through the
Rockies from the Athabaska to the Columbia.
While the book was going through the press Dr.
Thorington was good enough to send me a copy of
his very entertaining and valuable narrative The
Glittering Mountains of Canada, and I learned for
the first time that we had conceived the same
idea of rescuing from oblivion the story of some of
the fur-traders and other travellers who many
years ago travelled over Athabaska Pass. In Dr.
Thorington's case these tales of the past are merely
incidental to his own quite substantial achievements
in the mountains. In my own case the book finds
its excuse in the adventures of David Thompson,
Ross Cox, Gabriel Franchere, Paul Kane and other
western travellers in the days before the railway
swept away a good deal of the romance of a journey
and gave in its stead the by no means negligible
advantages of speed and comfort.
Ottawa, 1926.  On the Old Athabaska Trail
One afternoon, late in August, I sat on an inter-
provincial boundary monument at the summit of
Athabaska Pass, with one leg dangling in Alberta
and the other in British Columbia. Before me lay
a diminutive lake, whose curiously oval form perhaps
suggested the odd name given to it a hundred years
ago by fur-traders—the Committee's Punchbowl.
On the other side of the lake towered a gigantic
cone once known as M'Gillivray's Rock, and behind
me rose a series of terraces, culminating in the peak
which David Douglas the botanist named Mount
Brown. From either end of the Committee's
Punchbowl ran a tiny stream. One ultimately
found its way to the Arctic by way of the Mackenzie,
and the other to the Pacific through the Columbia.
As I sat there, enjoying the view and cursing the
mosquitoes, my mind ran back over the history
of this once-famous thoroughfare, and I thought of
the men who had travelled the Old Athabaska
Trail since the days of David Thompson—fur-
traders, voyageurs and Indians, scientists, missionaries and travellers—a few remembered because
ii 12
On the Old Athabaska Trail
of their books, a few more identified because mentioned in those books, and a thousand whose only
record is the ancient trail through the woods below
the pass and the deep, overgrown blazes in the
trees along the trail.
My friend the Warden and I had left Jasper three
days before, with our saddle-horses and a couple of
pack-animals, and had made our way in leisurely
fashion up the Athabaska and the Whirlpool to the
pass. As far as the summit this was all in Jasper
Park, but lay somewhat off the beaten track. For
the most part of the way the only trails were the
half-obliterated tracks of the fur-traders, for the
Athabaska route was abandoned many years ago,
and in recent times has been used only by an occasional trapper or a still more occasional traveller
or alpine climber. Where the trail ran through
heavy timber it was easily followed, but there were
times when it petered out in a meadow or river-
flat, and could only be picked up again after an
exhaustive search.
The Warden's purpose in making the trip was
to study the possibilities of the Whirlpool as a route
for tourists into this remote corner of the park.
My own was to follow the footsteps of David Thompson, and those who came after him, from the Athabaska up to the pass. I had already been over the
old trail from Jasper down to the site of Jasper
House and the two peaks that guard the entrance
to the park, Roche a Perdrix and Boule Roche. Up the Whirlpool to the Punchbowl     13
We camped the first night in an old cabin, a few
miles up the Whirlpool, and got away early the
following morning. The trail led for some time
through virgin forest, where in some of the larger
spruce we found old blazes almost buried in the
growth of the tree, mute witnesses to days long
past, cut perhaps by fur-traders in the early days
of the last century. Here also we encountered that
most pestiferous and bloodthirsty scourge of the
mountains, the f bulldog," most aptly named, for
he (or she, for aught I know) bites with all the
viciousness and tenacity of a fighting pup. And
between, behind, and before the "bulldogs" came
companies and battalions of mosquitoes. But, after
all, every human journey worth the trial must have
some compensating disadvantages and discomforts.
It was while we were packing the horses after lunch
that day that the Warden took me by surprise.
He was usually the most mild-mannered of merf,
too even-tempered and philosophical to allow the
ordinary annoyances of camp-life to disturb him.
Indeed, he had roughed it in so many different
quarters of the world that most of the things that
irritate the pampered man of the town when he gets
out in the wild made no impression upon him. It
was a hot day, the horses were unusually restless,
and the Warden, after three unsuccessful attempts
to get the pack on one of them, had just managed
to make everything secure and was completing
the last Stage of a diamond-hitch, pulling on the 14
On the Old Athabaska Trail
rope with both hands and bracing himself against
the animal's rump, when an evilly inspired " bulldog " lighted on his upper lip.
I saw it coming, from the other side of the pack,
too far away to be of any help. Anyhow, what
could one do under the circumstances ? It is infra
dig, to slap another man on the mouth, even to rid
him of a | bulldog," and no less forcible measures
would have had any effect on that pertinacious
insect. The Warden himself was so absorbed in
his task that for a moment he was not conscious of
the attack. When the fact was made painfully
evident he gritted his teeth and hung on to the
rope, pulling savagely to complete the hitch, determined that no mere fly should force him to yield.
Over the pack I watched the horrible conflict,
the battle of wills, with fascinated interest. One
moment I felt that the " bulldog " must win, the
next it became certain from the way the Warden's
teeth were clenched that it was a case of ff No
surrender." He would complete the hitch at all
costs. He glared down his nose. Sweat poured
off his face. The " bulldog" was digging in his
forceps with savage energy. One could almost
see him bracing his feet for the effort. Finally
the rope was made tight, and the Warden swung the
first free hand around against his own mouth.
The I bulldog " died in his moment of triumph, but
surely none of his tribe ever had such a wholehearted imprecation hurled at his departing spirit. Up the Whirlpool to the Punchbowl     15
The silent Warden was for the moment inspired.
And his audience could do nothing but look on with
mute sympathy and understanding.
During the afternoon we crossed one or two
branches of the Whirlpool, and nearly came to grief
on a very steep and insecure slope of rock and shale,
that finally brought us down to the main stream
again, which here flows for several miles in a number
of winding channels through a wide flat of pebbles
and small boulders. We rode upstream, crossing
and re-crossing the river, which even here lives
pretty well up to its name. On our right was the
ridge that divided the main stream from the Middle
Whirlpool. To the left rose a number of fine peaks,
Ross Cox, Scott, and Evans, with the impressive
Scott glacier coming down from what is known as the
Hooker Icefield.
Leaving the river-flat, we picked up the trail after
half an hour's hunt, and climbed up over a ridge
through the bush. In the distance we could hear the
music of a small waterfall. We kept on hour after
hour, hunting for feed for the horses. Finally a little
meadow on the left bank of the river tempted us to
make camp, under the shoulder of Mount Evans.
Here for some reason we were comparatively
free from both flies and mosquitoes, and, having
turned the horses loose, pitched the tent, and
eaten our supper, we lighted our pipes and
made ourselves comfortable in front of the
camp-fire. i6
On the Old Athabaska Trail
It was very restful, after a long day's pull over
rough trails, to he on the ground and listen to the
wind in the pines, and the grinding of boulders in
the Whirlpool beside us, sometimes like voices in
drowsy conversation, sometimes like the distant
growling of bears, making an odd undercurrent of
sound beneath the soft monotone of the ninning
water. Every little while the music of wind and
water would be punctuated by the muffled roar of
some distant avalanche, one of the most awe-
inspiring sounds that one hears in the heart of
the mountains.
I Speaking of bears," I said, " do you see many
grizzlies in the park ? "
I We weren't speaking of them," replied the
Warden. | However, we do run across them
occasionally, and occasionally they run across us.
One of our fellows had a queer experience last
spring. He was working in the corner of his cabin
with his back to the door. Heard the door open
and slam to. He called f Hello !' thinking it
was one of the men. Getting no answer, he glanced
over his shoulder—and made a quick grab for his
gun. A grizzly had pushed in through the door,
which shut to after him. The bear could see no way
out, felt he was trapped, and turned savagely
toward the man. The man was in a devil of a scrape.
The bear was between him and the door, and he
knew that if he tried to wriggle through the window
the bear would certainly get him.   Fortunately he Up the Whirlpool to the Punchbowl     17
was a good shot, and kept his head. The skin
made a fine floor-mat."
I That reminds me," I said, " of a story Ross Cox
tells in his Adventures on the Columbia-, It appears
that in the spring of 1816 a party of fur-traders had
been sent down the Flathead River. One evening
while they were quietly sitting around a blazing
fire eating a hearty dinner of deer, a large, half-
famished bear cautiously approached the group
from behind a large tree, and, before they were
aware of his presence, he sprang across the fire,
seized one of the men round the waist with his two
forepaws, and ran about fifty yards with him on his
hind legs before he stopped.
" The man's comrades were so thunderstruck that
for some time they lost all presence of mind, and
ran to and fro in a state of fear and confusion, each
expecting in his turn to be kidnapped. At length a
half-breed hunter, Baptiste Le Blanc, seized his gun,
and was in the act of firing at the bear, but was
stopped by some of the others, who told him he
would certainly kill their friend in the position in
which he was then placed.
I Meanwhile the bear had relaxed his grip of the
captive, whom he kept securely under him, and very
leisurely began picking a bone which the latter had
dropped.    Once or twice Louisson attempted to
escape, which only caused the grizzly to watch him
more closely ; but, on his making another attempt,
he  again  seized  Louisson  round  the  waist,  and
Bt i8
On the Old Athabaska Trail
commenced giving him one of those infernal
embraces which generally end in death.
1 The poor fellow was now in great agony, and
gave voice to the most frightful screams. Seeing
Baptiste with his gun ready, he cried out, I Tire!
tire! mon cher fr&re, si tu tn'aimes. Tire, pour
Vamour du bon Dieu! A la tetel A la teteV
This was enough for Le Blanc, who instantly
let fly, and hit the bear over the right temple. He
fell, and at the same moment dropped Louisson,
but gave him an ugly scratch with his claws across
the face, which for some time afterward spoiled his
beauty. After the shot Le Blanc darted to his
comrade's assistance, and with his hunting-knife
quickly finished the bear, and pulled Louisson out
from under him, pretty thoroughly frightened, but
otherwise not much the worse for his experience,
barring the scratch."
" Humph ! " grunted the Warden. " Where
d'you say you got that yarn ? "
| Ross Cox," I replied, | the old fur-trader after
whom that peak above the flats was named. He
came through here in 1817, going east, and wrote a
pretty good book on the fur trade. More human
than some of them. Don't you believe the bear
story ? "
*' Oh, may be," said the Warden cautiously. 1 A
bear might do that sort of thing if he was starving.
Usually they keep away from a fire. Of course rum
things sometimes happen.   There was a trapper who Up the Whirlpool to the Punchbowl     19
had a narrow escape last year. He had had a heavy
day, found himself a long way from camp at sundown, and slept behind a log. He was tired, and
slept later than usual. Finally a noise woke him,
and he found himself looking up into the gaping jaws
of a huge grizzly, which was straddled over him.
I He knew that if he made any sudden movement
he was done for. His gun was beside him, but the
chances of using it were mighty slim. However, he
must make the attempt. It was that or nothing.
Very slowly and cautiously he drew it into position,
freezing into rigidity whenever the bear grew
suspicious. Finally he let fly, and pretty near blew
the old fellow's head off. By great good luck he
kept clear of the claws, but pretty nearly had the
life crushed out of him when the heavy body came
down on top. Managed to pull himself clear finally,
more dead than alive, and an awful sight,"
The Warden refilled his pipe, lighted it with a
burning twig, and remarked, 1 Bears certainly are
queer cattle. There was Pete, now, over on the
Miette. He walked into his cabin one morning an*
found a bear lying on his bed. Pete slammed the
door after him and ran round to the front, only to
meet the bear coming through the window. He
yelled and the bear growled, and they both beat it
in different directions."
I glanced at the Warden reproachfully. *J Whose
leg do you think you're pulling ? " I asked.
The Warden got up, stretched himself, knocked 20
On the Old Athabaska Trail
the dottle out of his pipe and put it in his pocket.
" A man," said he disgustedly, " can tell lies by the
yard, and get away with it; but when he's telling
nothin' but God's unvarnished truth some tenderfoot
is &ire to doubt his word." And he vanished into
the tent.
We took our time the third day, knowing that,
barring accidents, we could make the summit easily
before nightfall. We stopped for lunch in a
beautiful meadow, where the horses had a good feed.
The Whirlpool, now reduced to a mere creek, rushed
down through the middle of the meadow. We
found a pool, and, as the day was hot, enjoyed a
plunge into its depths.
The tr&ii again managed to lose itself, and took a
good deal of finding. Eventually we stumbled
across it, up among the rocks on the hillside. We
rode on toward the summit, the timber getting
SrrMler as we advanced. Marmots whistled their
peculiarly mournful note, and one particularly fat
old chap sat on top of a boulder watching us superciliously as we went by. The trail ran through a
meadow, full of alpine flowers, and an occaMonal
patch, of snow. Finally we surmounted a little
MUook and saw before us three little lakes, one iri
Alberta, one in British Columbia, and the middle
one, the Committee's Punchbowl, straddling the
summit, half in one province and half in the other.
We rode oA and pitched our tent beside the third
lake, in British Columbia, facing M'Gillivray's Rock 2*
H is
\m  Up the Whirlpool to the Punchbowl     21
and Kane Glacier, with the peak that has been
named Mount Hooker in the background. The four
horses, Highbrow and Bill, the saddle-horses*, and
Rastus and Qinger, the pack animals, were turned
loose to try the merits of British Columbian grass.
For some time we saw nothing of them, as they were
feeding in a meadow beyond the lake ar$d behind
some trees. They were too hungry to think of
mischief. Finally, however, the maddening attentions of clouds of mosquitoes and " bulldogs " overcame all other considerations, and, under the leadership of Highbrow, they started back along the trail
for Jasper. Fortunately I caught a glimpse of the
leader as he rounded the end of the lake, and by
sprinting along the hillside just managed to head
them off.
The following morning we moved camp up to the
Punchbowl. This historic spot was covered with the
remains of previous camps, ancient and modern,
from the old days of the fur trade down to the recent
inter-provincial boundary surveys. Before lunch I
tried a swim in the Punchbowl, and found a wonderful spot to dive from—a rock covered half a foot
deep with moss, and the moss almost hidden under
a softly glowing mass of pink heather. The wate?
was deliciously clear and cold, but one had to hustle
into one's clothes, with only a most perfunctory
attempt at drying, to escape being eaten alive.
In the afternoon, thinking to get some pictures of
the pass and the peaks on either side, I climbed up 22
On the Old Athabaska Trail
the rocks to the first terrace, only to find that the
next terrace offered an even finer prospect. Leaving
the camera here, on an exposed rock, I clambered
up one terrace after another, gaining an ever wider
and more glorious view of the mountains. Finally
I thought I might have time to get up to the summit
of Mount Brown, but the declining sun and an
imminent storm made it wise to turn back. As it
was, I could not find the camera in the failing light,
and had to climb up for it the next morning. But
there was compensation in some wonderful effects
of low-lying clouds swirling down the pass into
Alberta. And when the storm finally broke, and
one great peak after another was blotted out, one
stood spellbound by the splendid pageantry, as the
royal reverberations crashed up and down the pass.
It was worth a wetting.
The fifth morning we started back down the
Whirlpool, making a long day of it to reach a good
camping ground—that is to say, ground with good
feed for the horses, for, after all, if one travels on
horseback that must be the first consideration. We
passed on the way an old trail to Canoe Pass, which
the Warden promised himself to look into at some
future time. The pack-horses, by the way, offered
an unfailing source of amusement by their transparent attempts to excite sympathy whenever the
loads were put on their backs. It mattered not
what you started with, light or heavy, they immediately began a heart-breaking moan, and kept it up Up the Whirlpool to the Punchbowl     23
until the pack was finally roped. It sounded as
much as anything else like a decrepit foghorn, and
was pure bunkum, as both Rastus and Ginger knew
perfectly well, and probably knew that we knew,
but kept it up either from force of habit or on
the very off-chance that they might fool us some
After the tent had been pitched and everything
made snug, I wandered up a little tributary of the
Whirlpool looking for rainbow trout, but without
much success. The fish were there, but they were
not hungry, or were otherwise engaged. However,
there was compensation in sitting on a mossy bank
at the edge of the stream after sundown, and enjoying
the always gorgeous panorama of the mountains.
I remember one peculiarly effective picture—an
extraordinarily jagged peak with a woolly cloud
poised on its very summit, and immediately above
it the evening star. Then one turned to earth, and
found wonderful shadowy vistas down long aisles
of pine, with somewhere in the distance the wild
note of the whiskey-jack. That night, too, we were
awakened about midnight by coyotes shrieking in
chorus like a band of lost souls. About as uncomfortable a sound to listen to in the depth of the
night as can well be imagined.
The following day we were unlucky. Rode all
morning through one shower after another until
we were pretty well soaked. The trail ran through
heavy brush, all of it saturated and dripping; the
iPf 24
On the Old Athabaska Trail
footing was bad for the horses, boggy ground with
boulders underneath, and a good many fallen trees.
Altogether we had a rather uncomfortable time.
Also we were worried about the ford at the West
Branch, which was bad enough at any time, and
decidedly dangerous at high water.
We got there about noon, and, as the rain had
temporarily stopped, decided to unpack the horses
and give them a rest, and get some lunch ourselves.
With some difficulty we managed to coax fire out
of the very unsatisfactory fuel at hand, and made a
pot of tea. Only just in time, too, as the rain came
down again harder than ever. Hastily packing the
horses, we rode down to the river. It looked bad,
and under ordinary circumstances we would not
have thought of attempting it. But we had had
several hours' rain, and there was every reason to
believe that it had been coming down hard up in
the pass. The river was rising very rapidly, and,
if we did not attempt the ford now, we would probably have to camp in that very uncomfortable spot,
with practically no feed for the horses, for two or
three days. That was out of the question, so we
made up our minds to get across somehow.
The packs were given an additional tightening,
and we made sure that everything was snug both on
them and the saddle-horses. Then the two pack-
animals were roped together, and, the Warden
leading, we started across. It is always difficult
to   realise,   until   you   are   actually   in   it,   the Up the Whirlpool to the Punchbowl     25
extraordinary force of water running down a narrow,
tortuous channel at a very steep slope. This little
stream, never anything but boisterous, was now a
roaring torrent. Its bed was of large round boulders,
and, with such footing and the terrific force of the
current, it seemed almost inconceivable that any
horse could manage to keep on his feet.
The Warden, coaxing his own horse along, and
dragging the pack-animals after him, gradually edged
his way across, and finally reached the opposite
bank. As he did so, however, the first pack-horse
was struggling through the worst part of the ford,
and the little one behind was for a moment or two
swept completely off his feet. It was a nervous
moment, as if the animal should be rolled over by
the current he would be done for; the heavy pack
would keep his head under, and probably the first
horse would be pulled down with him.
Fortunately the gallant Highbrow stood the strain
nobly, the first pack-horse kept his feet, and finally
the Warden succeeded in getting all three ashore,
with no worse damage than a little water in the
provisions. Meanwhile I had watched the performance from the other bank, unable to give any
practical assistance. My own horse did not like
the situation at all, and only entered the stream with
great reluctance. When finally we got out to the
middle, he stood shivering, looking wildly to one
bank and the other. No amount of coaxing would
induce him to move forward another step, so that 26
On the Old Athabaska Trail
I had to let him turn back. After a little rest, I
persuaded him to try it again. When we reached
the middle Bill decided that he might as well make
the best of a bad job, and with a wild scramble we
finally made the bank, wet but contented. One
felt more for the horse than oneself, while the current
was swirling wildly past, and Bill groped for a footing on the tops of slippery boulders several feet
under water ; but after I got safely ashore, it suddenly
struck me that, if Bill had got adrift, my chances of
coming out alive would have been too slight to be
worth reckoning.
Fortunately for us the rain stopped soon after we
crossed the West Branch, and, although we were now
thoroughly soaked between the rain and the river,
we were so relieved to have come out of the affair
with everything intact that this seemed a negligible
discomfort, and we rode on quite contentedly to an
early camp, where a big fire soon dried our clothes
and restored our tempers.
This was our last evening in camp, and, as we sat
around the fire, talking over the events of the trip
up to the Committee's Punchbowl, the Warden
said, " They tell me that a chap named Thompson
was the first man that went through Athabaska
Pass." I was deeply interested in David Thompson
and his work as a geographer and explorer, as well
as in the history of Athabaska Pass, and had stuffed
a lot of notes into my bag when I left home so that
I might study certain doubtful points on the spot. Up the Whirlpool to the Punchbowl     27
Consequently I was better armed than a man usually
is to answer the question.
1 As a matter of fact," I said, | Thompson is the
first man who left any narrative of his journey
through the pass, or, at any rate, his is the only
account that has survived or of which we have any
record. But he is not the first man who travelled
through the pass. His own narrative shows that on
his famous journey of 1810-n he took as a guide
one Thomas, an Iroquois, who, of course, must have
gone that way before or he could not have acted as
guide. Also Thompson's contemporary in the fur
trade, Alexander Henry, who met Thompson as he
was starting out on his journey, mentions in his
journal that a party of Nipissing Indians and
J freemen ' (that is to say, fur-traders who were not
connected with any of the trading companies, but
hunted on their own) had followed the same route
over the mountains some years before, and Thompson
found traces of this party when he himself went
through. Also Gabriel Franchere, another fur-trader,
who went through Athabaska Pass in 1814, makes
the positive statement that f J. Henry first discovered
the pass.' He probably means William Henry, who
built Henry House near the mouth of the Miette.
I Excuse these very learned remarks," I said,
I which don't amount to much after all. Thompson
was the real discoverer of the pass, because he is
the first man to have left any account of his journey."
The Warden grunted, and got up to replenish the 28
On the Old Athabaska Trail
fire. " Since you know so much about it,'J he
remarked ungraciously, " who was Thompson,
anyway ? "
I But," I said modestly, " I'm afraid I am only
boring you."
" Even if you are," he retorted, " it's too early
to turn in yet. Go ahead. I might as well suffer
in the interests of posterity. You're probably
trying this stuff on me before putting it in a book.
Who was Thompson ? "
" David Thompson," I said, " was born in Westminster, England, in 1770. He was a Welshman by
origin. Got his education at the Grey Coat School,
and entered the service of the Hudson's Bay
Company at the age of fourteen. He sailed from
London in the Company's ship Prince Rupert, and
reached Fort Churchill, on Hudson B,ay, in the
autumn of 1784. He spent the winter under Samuel
Hearne, the famous explorer, and was then sent
down the coast to York Factory. In July, 1786, he
says in his journal that he was sent inland equipped
with a trunk, a handkerchief, shoes, shirts, a gun
and powder, and a tin cup, as one of a party to
establish trading-posts on the Saskatchewan. He
had picked up a little mathematics at the Grey
Coat School, and later learned practical astronomy
and surveying under Philip Turnor at Cumberland
I Thompson was really a very extraordinary man.
He remained with the Hudson's Bay Company for Up the Whirlpool to the Punchbowl      29
thirteen years, doing his duty faithfully as a trader,
but all the time travelling to and fro throughout the
unexplored and partly explored regions of the west,
making careful surveys of the country, and never
missing a chance to take astronomical observations
and fix the positions of trading-posts and other
definite points. One of these was Cumberland
House. Listen to what J. B. Tyrrell, himself an
eminent surveyor and explorer, has to say about
his work at that particular place : 1 At that time
there were very few other points on this whole
continent of America whose positions on the earth's
surface were as accurately known as this remote
trading-post on the Saskatchewan. On the maps of
Canada its position has been changed many times,
but the latest surveys have brought it back to the
place to which it was assigned by this young
astronomer one hundred and twenty-five years
" At the end of thirteen years Thompson became
convinced that the Hudson's Bay Company was
not interested in exploration, and decided to transfer
his services to its great rival, the North West
Company. He remained with the latter company
until 1812, and while with them carried out some of
his most important work as an explorer and surveyor.
In fact, even to-day much of the information on the
maps of Western Canada and the north-western
part of the United States was obtained originally
from David Thompson.
!,V 30
On the Old Athabaska Trail
I He is said to have resembled John Bunyan in
appearance, to have been bold and fearless both
physically and morally, and to have had an extraordinary capacity for hard work. One who knew
him in his latter years says he had a very powerful
mind and a singular faculty for picture-making.
1 He can create a wilderness and people it with
warring savages, or climb the Rocky Mountains
with you in a snowstorm, so clearly and palpably,
that only shut your eyes and you hear the crack of
the rifle, or feel snow-flakes on your cheeks as he
I Thompson seems to have been one of the first of
Canadian prohibitionists. He tells this story in his
journal: ' I was obliged to take two kegs of alcohol
(in his expedition to the Columbia valley in 1808)
overruled by my partners, for I had made it a law to
myself that no alcohol should pass the mountains
in my company, and thus be clear of the sad sight
of drunkenness and its many evils; but these
gentlemen insisted upon alcohol being the most
profitable article that could be taken for the Indian
trade. In this I knew they had miscalculated;
accordingly when we came to the defiles of the
mountains I placed the two kegs of alcohol on a
vicious horse, and by noon the kegs were empty
and in pieces, the horse rubbing his load against the
rocks to get rid of it. I wrote to my partners what
I had done, and that I would do the same to every
keg of alcohol, and for the next six years I had charge Up the Whirlpool to the Punchbowl     31
of the fur trade on the west side of the mountains
no further attempt was made to introduce spirituous
liquors.' "
I Well, that's that," said the Warden.   " But I
wish we had a little of his liquor here to-night." CHAPTER II
" To understand how David Thompson happened to
be up in this part of the mountains " I said.
| One moment," interrupted the Warden, as he
ran across the meadow and relieved Highbrow from
a rather embarrassing situation. Highbrow had been
tied to a bush with a long rope, to check his weakness
for wandering down the trail. He had grazed
completely round the bush several times, and had
finally succeeded, in some mysterious way known
only to horses, in tangling himself up in what
remained of the rope, fettering one leg after another,
until finally he collapsed in the midst of the bush,
looking the picture of injured innocence.
" As I was saying, to make the story intelligible
one must go back a bit and see what brought
Thompson up here into the Athabaska country. He
had been established for some years at Rocky
Mountain House, on the North Saskatchewan, near
the mouth of the Clearwater. Here he had traded
with the Piegan and other tribes of the Blackfeet
confederacy. The Piegan were very haughty and
overbearing, but Thompson had got along very well
with them, and their War Chief, Kootanae Appee,
was his firm friend.
3« Outwitting the Piegan
I The time came, however, when Thompson—
who was never satisfied to stay long in one place,
and particularly was not content to have an unknown
country lying within reach without making an
attempt to explore it—had made up his mind to
cross the mountains and find out what lay on the
other side. Also, as a fur-trader, he intended to get
in touch with the Kootenay Indians and other tribes
west of the Rockies, and build trading-posts in their
1 These plans in time became known to the Piegan,
and aroused fierce indignation. After all, you could
hardly blame them. If Thompson was allowed to
cross the mountains, he would trade with the
Kootenay, and would certainly supply them with
guns and ammunition. The Kootenay and Piegan
had been mortal foes for generations, the bone of
contention being the right to hunt buffalo in the
prairie and foothills east of the Rockies. This
region the Piegan considered their own peculiar
territory, and the herds of buffalo that roamed about
it their own property.
I For many years the Kootenay had been able to
hold their own, and defend their right to hunt the
buffalo. When the Piegan got firearms from the
white traders, the situation immediately changed.
The Kootenay, with their bows and arrows, were no
match for the Piegan, and the latter finally drove
them through the mountains, and kept them there.
Now, if the Kootenay were armed by Thompson,
Ct 34
On the Old Athabaska Trail
the superiority of the Piegan would be wiped out,
and they would again have to fight on practically
even terms for the monopoly of the buffalo. They
made up their minds that the fur-traders must not
be allowed to cross the mountains, and from that
time kept a close watch on Thompson.
" Being, like all the Blackfeet, fierce and intolerant
of opposition, they would probably have taken
effective means to check the operations of the fur-
traders by wiping out Rocky Mountain House and
its inhabitants, but were deterred partly by the fact
that they had become dependent upon the traders
for many things, and particularly for firearms, and
partly by the influence of their War Chief, Kootanae
Appee, who was, as has been said, Thompson's
warm friend.
" As it was, they set a watch on Howse Pass,
which was then the main thoroughfare through the
mountains, and made it known that neither Thompson nor any of his men would be permitted to go up
to the pass.
| David Thompson, however, was a patient man,
and he knew the Piegan like a book. Sooner or
later they would grow tired of watching the pass, or
would be drawn away by some more urgent business.
The latter happened. News came to the Piegan
that some of their warriors had been killed by traders
on the Missouri. With native fickleness, they
forgot Thompson, and turned all their energies to
equipping a big war party to avenge the insult.  ^ Outwitting the Piegan
While they were away Thompson got his trading
goods together, and, with a party of men, slipped
through Howse Pass and down to the upper waters
of the Columbia. Here, a little below what is to-day
known as Lake Windermere, he built the first
trading-post on the Columbia—Kootenay House.
This was in 1807. The building of this post, which
marked the beginning of Thompson's splendid work
as an explorer west of the mountains, was commemorated in 1922 with memorial ceremonies and the
building on the shores of Lake Windermere of a
monument to Thompson in the form of a reproduction of a typical trading-fort of the days of the
fur trade.
I Thompson knew that the Piegan would not be
content to accept defeat meekly, and therefore
spared no pains to make his fort safe against Indian
attack. It was built in a commanding situation, of
heavy timber fit to resist any weapon the Piegan
could bring against it.
I Here Thompson spent the winter comfortably
enough. While they were building the fort game had
been scarce, and they had been reduced to eating
one of their horses. He says, by the way, that the
meat was better than that of the wild horse, the fat
not being so oily. Throughout the winter they had
plenty of game, deer, and antelope, with a few
mountain sheep, also some mountain goat.
I He tells a good story in connection with the latter.
In the spring he sent some of his men back through
AM liW
''If 36
On the Old Athabaska Trail
the mountains with the skins collected during the
winter, and included with them a hundred mountain
goat skins, which, with their long, silky hair, he
thought might prove a novelty in the London
market. Some of the partners of the North West
Company, however—the | ignorant, self-sufficient
partners,' as he indignantly calls them—poked fun
at him, ridiculing the idea that mountain goat skins
would find any sale in England. On his insisting,
the skins were sent over to London, and, to the
amazement and chagrin of the partners, were
snapped up immediately at a guinea a skin, and the
company was offered half as much again for another
lot. The partners hurriedly wrote Thompson to
send a further supply, but the latter, who was not
without a certain strain of obstinacy, dryly replied
that the hunting of the mountain goat was both
dangerous and difficult, and ' for their ignorant
ridicule' he would send no more—andhe kept his word.
" Ross Cox, one of Thompson's contemporaries in
the fur trade, tells a somewhat similar story, the
particular commodity being bear-skins instead of
mountain goat, j About twenty-five years ago,' he
says (that would be about 1805), j the company had
a great number of bear-skins lying in their stores, for
which there was no demand. One of the directors,
a gentleman well known for the fertility of his
expedients as an Indian trader, hit upon a plan for
getting off the stock, which succeeded beyond his
most sanguine expectations. Outwitting the Piegan
" He selected a few of the finest and largest skins in
the store, which he had made into a hammer-cloth
splendidly ornamented in silver with the royal arms.
A deputation of the directors then waited upon one
of the Royal Dukes with the hammer-cloth, and
respectfully requested that he would be graciously
pleased to accept it as a slight testimony of their
respect. His Royal Highness returned a polite
answer, and condescendingly consented to receive
the present.
I A few days afterwards the King held a levee,
and his illustrious son proceeded to Court in his
State-coach,   with  its splendid hammer-cloth.    It
attracted universal attention, and to every enquiry as
to where the skins were obtained the answer was,
I from the North West Company.'    In three weeks
there was not a black, or even a brown, bear-skin
in the company's warehouse, and the unfortunate
peer who could not sport a hammer-cloth of bear
was voted a bore by his more lucky brethren."
Talking of bears " began the Warden.
' Now, look here," I cried, " I can stand anything
in reason in the way of a bear story, but yours are out
of reason. A reasonable bear story may be compounded of fact and fiction, but the proportion
shouldn't run more than twenty-five per cent,
fiction.   Yours are about ninety-nine per cent."
"All right," retorted the Warden,  "go ahead
with your alleged facts."
If these are not facts," I said, f the fault is with
{( 38
On the Old Athabaska Trail
old Thompson, for I'm quoting his own narrative.
He had built his fort solidly, knowing that before
long he would have to try conclusions with the
Piegan. He learned that, when they discovered
how he had slipped through the pass during their
absence, they were furious, and, after a stormy
council meeting, determined to send an expedition
to destroy the trading-post. Knowing nothing of
its sturdy proportions, they considered a party of
forty men under a secondary chief sufficient.
I The war party in time appeared before Kootenay
House, and pitched their tents close to the gate.
Thompson had six men with him at the time, with
ten guns. He had bored large auger-holes through
both the main walls and the bastions, by means of
which he could command every approach to the
fort, while he and his men remained under cover.
He had a stock of dried provisions; not enough, it is
true, for a long siege, but he was sufficiently versed
in the ways of the Indian to know that that need
never be anticipated. The Piegan had hoped to force
them to surrender through lack of water, the fort
standing on the summit of a high and steep bank
above the river. But Thompson was too much for
them. ' At night,' he says, f with a strong cord we
quietly and gently let down two brass kettles, each
holding four gallons, and drew them up full, which
was enough for us.'
" The Piegan were at a loss what to do, for
Kootanae Appee had publicly warned the leader Outwitting the Piegan
of the war party, which had been formed against
his advice, that he must bring back the warriors
entrusted to his care, and that he must find means of
destroying the enemy without losing his own men.
As Thompson was always on the watch, and the
walls of the fort were impregnable so far as they were
concerned, the Piegan finally raised the siege and
decamped, their retreat being hastened by the
appearance of a party of Kootenay who were out
hunting, and, being too weak to attack them, had
hurried away to warn the tribe.
| As Thompson afterwards learned from his friend
Kootanae Appee, the return of the war party to the
Piegan village east of the mountains created a
sensation. It was clear that the crushing of Thompson was not to be as simple a matter as they had
supposed. Sakatow, the Civil Chief of the tribe,
immediately summoned the chiefs and warriors in
council and harangued them. He hated and feared
Thompson, and was jealous of the popularity of
Kootanae Appee. Here was a way of striking at
both, a way that might lead to the death of one or
both, and in the meantime would, as he thought,
turn them from friends into enemies.
I With native cunning he advised that a strong war
party must now be formed, and who so capable of
leading it as the great War Chief, Kootanae Appee?
We must crush the Kootenay, he cried, and with
them the white men who have put firearms into
their hands.   The Kootenay have been our slaves. 40
On the Old Athabaska Trail
Now, if we are not careful, they will learn to be our
masters. Let us crush them before they learn to
use the firearms of the traders. The War Chief shall
lead the warriors against our enemies.
I Kootanae Appee realised at once the dilemma
upon the horns of which Sakatow had thrust him.
If he consented he must lead a war party against
his friend Thompson. If he refused—he, the great
War Chief—he was disgraced, and his influence in
the tribe would be a thing of the past. Rising to
his feet, he said, ' I shall lead the battle according to
the will of the tribe; but remember,' he cried, ' we
may not smoke to the Great Spirit for success as
we have done in the past. It is now ten winters
since we made peace with the Kootenay. They
have tented and hunted with us ; yet, because they
now have guns and iron-headed arrows, we must
break our word of peace with them. We are now
called to go to war with a people better armed than
ourselves. Be it so, let the warriors get ready. In
ten nights I will call upon them.'
" On the ninth night the War Chief made a short
speech to his warriors. Each man was to take with
him ten days' provisions, for they would soon be
out of the buffalo country and in the land of their
enemies, where not a shot must be fired lest they be
discovered. On the tenth night Kootanae Appee
made his final speech, exhorting the warriors and
their chiefs to have their arms in good order and
not to forget the provisions.  He named a rendezvous. Outwitting the Piegan
' There,' he said, 11 shall be the morrow evening
and those who now march with me. There I shall
await you five nights, and then march to cross the
1 At the end of the period about three hundred
warriors, under three chiefs, had assembled. They
made their way through one of the passes of the
Rockies, and came to the banks of the Columbia
about twenty miles from Kootenay House. As was
their custom, Kootanae Appee sent a couple of men
by another route to approach the fort and report
in what condition it was for defence. The spies
came to Kootenay House under the guise of hunters.
Thompson, however, was not deceived. He knew
what the men were there for, and, while apparently
playing into their hands, laid his plans to use them
to serve his own purposes.
I He showed them around the fort, in such a way
as to emphasise its natural strength and the facilities
for defence. ? I plainly saw,' says Thompson, ' that
a war party was again formed, to be better conducted
than the last, and I made my preparations to avert
it.' The following morning two of the Kootenay
arrived. They glared at the Piegan like tigers.
This fitted in perfectly with Thompson's plans.
Telling the Kootenay to sit down and smoke, he
called the Piegan outside and asked them which way
they intended to return. They pointed to the north.
Thompson told them to go to Kootanae Appee and
his war party, and gave them a message to the War 42
On the Old Athabaska Trail
Chief that he would understand. He also sent
presents : six feet of tobacco to the chief, to be
smoked among them, with three feet and a fine pipe
of red porphyry and an ornamented pipe-stem for
himself and eighteen inches of tobacco for each of the
subsidiary chiefs. In the fur trade, in Thompson's
day, tobacco, known as Brazil tobacco, was made up
in long twists and sold by the foot or inch.
I Giving each of the spies a small piece of tobacco
for himself, to ensure his fidelity and perhaps protect
the presents, Thompson told them to be off quickly,
as he could not protect them from the Kootenay.
I Remember,' he said, | you are here on their lands
as an enemy.'
| ' I was afterwards informed,' says Thompson,
I that the two Piegan went direct to the camp of the
War Chief,' who was in council with the other chiefs
and the principal warriors. The scouts delivered
Thompson's message, laid the presents at the feet of
Kootanae Appee, and sat down.
I Thereupon the War Chief—that wily old savage
—proceeded to play the hand that Thompson had
dealt to him. | What,' he exclaimed, j can we do
with this man? He is too wise for us. He knows
everything that we do. Our women cannot mend a
pair of shoes but he sees them with his magic' Then
he thoughtfully picked up the pipe and stem and the
tobacco, looked at them, and laid them down
again where all the warriors could see them, f What
is to be done with these ? ' he asked.   ' If we attack Outwitting the Piegan
the fort, nothing of what is before us can be accepted.'
Alluding, of course, to the Indian code which would
not permit the acceptance of a gift from an enemy, on
conversely, hostilities after a gift had been accepted.
1 To appreciate the humour of the situation, it
must be understood that the war party had come
away with an insufficient supply of tobacco, and
that this precious commodity was now exhausted.
Thompson had drawn this interesting fact from the
spies, and was quite aware, as was also Kootanae
Appee, of the peculiar potency of the bribe offered
in the interests of peace.
| The eldest of the minor chiefs eyed the tobacco
wistfully. | You all know me,' he cried, ' who I am
and what I am. I fear no man. I have attacked
tents—my knife could cut through them; our
enemies had no defence against us, and I am ready
to do so again. But to fight against logs of wood,
that a ball cannot go through, to fight against
people that we cannot see, to fight against people with
whom we have been at peace—that is what I am
averse to. I go no farther.' He then cut a piece off
the end of the tobacco, filled the red pipe, fitted the
stem, and handed it to Kootanae Appee, saying,
f It was not you that brought us here, but the foolish
Sakatow, who himself never goes to war.' Kootanae
Appee solemnly lighted the pipe and took a puff or
two, then passed it around the circle. They all
smoked the pipe of peace, and, having done so,
picked   up   their   belongings,   not   forgetting the 44
On the Old Athabaska Trail
precious tobacco, and turned their faces homeward,
c very much,' says Thompson, I to the satisfaction of
Kootanae Appee, my steady friend.' And he adds,
with quite genuine and characteristic piety, I thus
by the mercy of good Providence I averted this
I It would have been interesting to witness the
meeting between Kootanae Appee and Sakatow,
when the war party returned to the Piegan village,
with the honours nicely divided between the War
Chief and the white trader, and both still alive to
annoy the Civil Chief and interfere with his plans."
8 That's all very fine," said the Warden, I but
I don't see what it has to do with Athabaska Pass."
I You will presently," I said. | It was the direct
result of the building of Kootenay House, and the
hostility of the Piegan, that Thompson was finally
forced to abandon Howse Pass—which lay in Piegan
territory—and find another route farther north,
from the eastern plains to the valley of the Columbia.
That is how Athabaska Pass came to be for many years
the main thoroughfare of the fur-traders through the
I It was late in the autumn of 1810 that Thompson,
after being foiled by the Piegan in his attempt to get
through the mountains by way of Howse Pass,
found it necessary to change his plans and seek a
route beyond the range of these troublesome
I These Piegan," said the Warden, | seem to have
been a pretty aggressive lot."
" They were. Alexander Henry, who, like
Thompson, had traded with them for years, says
that the Piegan j are proud and haughty and studiously avoid the company of their allies (the other
tribes of the Blackfeet confederacy), further than is
necessary for their own safety.' He says that about
twenty years before he wrote the Piegan—once a
numerous tribe—had been reduced by smallpox to
one hundred and fifty tents, but were again increasing
in numbers. They had always had the reputation
of being more brave and virtuous than their neighbours. I Indeed/ dryly remarks Henry, ' they are
obliged to be, surrounded as they are by enemies
with whom they are always at war.'
" The country which the Piegan called their own,
according to Henry, and which they were known to
111 46
On the Old Athabaska Trail
have inhabited since their first intercourse with
traders on the Saskatchewan, lay along the foot of
the Rockies, on Bow River, and as far south as the
Missouri. The buffalo regulated their movements
over this prairie country throughout the year, as they
had to keep near the buffalo to obtain food. In
summer it was their custom to assemble in large
camps of from one hundred to two hundred tents, the
better to defend themselves from their enemies.
In winter, when there was less danger, they dispersed
in small camps of ten or twenty tents, captured the
buffalo in pounds, and hunted various animals for
the sake of their skins, which they traded at the
posts of the North West Company for guns and
ammunition, blankets, axes and other tools,
vermilion, and other products of the white man.
1 Henry says that the ordinary dress of the
Piegan was plain leather shoes, leather leggings
reaching up to the hip, and a robe over all. This
constituted their summer dress, though occasionally
they wore an open leather shirt, which reached down
to the thigh. Their winter dress differed little from
that of summer. Their shoes were then made of buffalo
hide dressed in the hair, with sometimes a leather
shirt, and a strip of buffalo- or wolf-skin tied around
the head. They never wore mittens. The young
warriors had a more elegant dress which they put on
occasionally, the shirt and leggings being trimmed
with human hair and ornamented with a fringe and
quill-work.   In full dress they always carried a gun How Thompson Found the Pass
in their arms, with powder-horn and shot-pouch
slung on their backs, as well as their ancient weapons,
the bow and arrow.
| When they came in to trade, says Henry, young
men were sent ahead to inform the traders of their
approach and to demand a piece of tobacco for each
principal man or head of a family. Six inches of
twist tobacco was commonly sent, neatly done up in
paper, to which was tied a small piece of vermilion,
both tobacco and vermilion being regarded as tokens
of friendship. The young men were treated to a
glass of liquor, four inches of tobacco, and a small
paper of vermilion, with which they immediately
returned to their friends. The tobacco would then
be delivered, and the men of the party would smoke
it while the messengers related the news of the fort,
and gave an account of their reception. This
ceremony concluded, they moved on toward the
fort in a long string.
" On the day of their arrival the men assembled
at a convenient spot in sight of the fort, where they
made a fire and sat about it in dignified ease, smoking
their pipes, while the women and children erected
their tents near the stockades. That completed, the
men arose and moved toward the fort in Indian file,
the principal chief taking the lead, the others falling
in according to rank or precedence, derived from
the number of scalps taken in war.
I The trader in charge of the fort was always
expected to go out and shake hands with the Indians 48
On the Old Athabaska Trail
at a short distance from the gates, the farther he
went to meet them the greater the compliment.
This ceremony over, he walked at their head, and
thus conducted them to the Indian hall in the fort.
There he desired the principal chief to take the seat
of honour, in the most conspicuous place, the others
seating themselves according to rank around the
% The pipe was then lighted and presented to the
chief, who, taking a whiff, would blow it toward the
earth while the stem was pointed up, then a second
whiff blown up while the stem was pointed down, or
perhaps toward the rising or setting sun. The chief
would then pass the pipe to the next Indian on his
right, and so on, the pipe travelling always with the
course of the sun. All having taken a whiff of the
trader's pipe, the principal chief would produce his
own, which he filled and presented to the trader,
who must take a few whiffs before it was sent round
the circle. The compliment was considered greater if
the chief presented the pipe to the trader to light.
If the Indians were numerous, their own pipes were
then demanded, filled by the traders, and presented
to them, each Indian lighting his pipe according to
his own particular notions of ceremony. ■ But,' says
Henry, \ we must always have people to hand them
fire, as their consequential impertinence does not
permit them to rise for the purpose.' The more
pipes there were in circulation at once the greater
the compliment. How Thompson Found the Pass
I After the first round each Indian was given half
a gill of Indian liquor, beginning always with the
principal chief, who was about as ceremonious in
taking a drink as he was in smoking. He dipped his
finger into the liquor and let a few drops fall on the
ground, then a few drops were offered above, but
that contented his sense of propriety—the rest was
disposed of without further delay. What Henry calls
Indian liquor was merely alcohol very much diluted
with water. Among some of the tribes it was
believed that the intoxicating qualities of the liquor
were put into it by the white man's magic, and it is
recorded of one old chief that, on visiting a fort with
some of his sons, he tasted it himself, and, finding it
too strong, gravely requested the trader to order
some of the spirit to depart before trusting it to the
young braves. The trader as gravely carried the
liquor into another room and added an equal
quantity of water.
I Henry says that if the party of Indians visiting
the fort had a flag with them, more ceremony must
be observed.    In this case the flag-bearer walked
ahead, though he might not be the principal man,
precedence being allowed him out of respect for the
flag.   The   trader   would   meet   them   as   before,
receive the flag, and carry it into the fort.    The
principal chief,  when he came forward to shake
hands with the trader, would frequently lead an
extra horse by a fine.   This he would hand over
to the trader as a present.   Sometimes the horse
Ifaf 50
On the Old Athabaska Trail
would have a small parcel of furs or skins tied on his
back to add to the value of the gift. The chief
would then take off the handsomely painted robe
that he was wearing and put it on the trader's back.
Then he would take off his fox-skin cap, and ceremoniously adjust it on the trader's head, thereby
probably transferring other things than the cap, to
the trader's acute discomfort.
" When the chief was through, others who had
presents to bestow would come forward, and cover
the trader with their robes and caps, until, if the
party was a large one, the unfortunate man might
find himself buried under eight or ten heavy robes,
with as many fox-skin caps on his head. All this
he must endure, and sit with a solemn face until the
smoking ceremonies were over, when he was at liberty
to send the robes and skins into the warehouse.
" Of course the trader was expected to reciprocate
these presents—probably to double their value.
If a flag came with the party, it was returned to the
owner on his departure tied up with a few yards of
gartering, to which was attached a foot of tobacco.
When all the ceremonies had been concluded, the
more serious business of trading furs for goods would
commence. After this was concluded, the women
and children would be sent off, the men remaining
behind to smoke with the trader and beg him for
further presents. These generally consisted of four
or five balls and powder, about four inches of tobacco,
and a dram of liquor." 1
IP- 50
1' / How Thompson Found the Pass
" Thanks ; " said the Warden, | that's enough
about the Piegan.    How about David Thompson ? "
p Well, Thompson had come up the Saskatchewan
with a quantity of trading goods for Kootenay House.
He had run across Alexander Henry at Terre Blanche
House, and had then gone ahead with some Indian
hunters to get game for the party, while the canoes
made their way slowly upstream. This was in
September. About a day's journey above Rocky
Mountain House the men were stopped by Black
Bear, a Piegan chief, who had followed them upstream, and now warned them to return to the fort.
As the Indians far outnumbered the traders, there
was nothing for it but to submit, even if it had been
wise to come to extremities.
If Alexander Henry was at Rocky Mountain House
when the traders arrived. He knew that Thompson
was waiting for them above at a place known as
Kootenay Plain, and was anxious to get them
through. The Piegan, having turned the traders
back, would not be keeping a very strict watch on
the river, but Indians were constantly coming and
going at the fort, and the difficulty was to get the
party off unperceived. Here is what happened,
as Henry tells the story :
" i Everything being settled, at three o'clock the
canoes were put into the water, and the men's
baggage was taken down to the river ready to
embark; the goods only remained in the fort, to be
taken out at dark.   This had scarcely been done 52
On the Old Athabaska Trail
when a long string of horsemen appeared on the
beach below coming upstream. Our plan was thus
deranged ; my only recourse was to put the baggage
on board, and send the four canoes down river, as
if I intended to fetch up the remainder of our goods,
as I had informed the Indians I should do, but
directing the men to pass upstream with the towing-
line about midnight.
| I So down the stream they went, while the
arrivals stood gazing at them from the opposite side,
surprised to find my canoes had reached this place
so soon—for who should the string of horsemen
prove but the Hudson's Bay people from Terre
Blanche, coming to winter alongside me here.
They had scarcely got over before a Sarcee came
with some beavers to trade . . . and about dusk
three Bloods arrived. I sent a man to inform the
canoes and tell them not to pass this camp until
they were convinced all hands were drunk. . . .
The night was clear and the moon favourable.
They passed unperceived, although the H.B. tents
were near the river, and they had a number of dogs,
but fatigue seemed to have overtaken both men and
" ' The canoes had scarcely rounded the point
when we heard the singing of the Bloods, who were
coming up along shore. . . . They knocked at the
gates and demanded liquor, but I would not allow
them to enter. At I a.m. I saw the crews lurking
at a distance, not daring to approach for fear of How Thompson Found the Pass
being discovered. I was obliged to open the gates
and bring the Indians in. I gave them a good dram
and put them fast asleep in my tent. No time was
to be lost in getting the goods away. I called the
men, who were concealed below the bank, hastily
loaded them each with two pieces (of trading goods)
and sent them off through the woods to their canoes,
about a mile above us.'
I Henry's frankness is perhaps not very edifying,
but what a dramatic picture he draws. There is
no art in it. Henry is describing an incident in
which he was one of the principal figures—in fact,
the principal figure, for he pulled the strings. It
is a fragment of the western fur trade, raw but
tremendously human.
"In the morning Alexander Henry's cousin,
William Henry, arrived at the fort, and Alexander
was astonished to learn that Thompson, instead
of being up the river waiting for his men, had been
also headed off by the Piegan, and was now down
below near Brazeau River. Henry at once sent
word to the men, and managed to get them downstream again the same night, without either the
H.B. people or the Indians learning the trick he
had played upon them.
| Now what had Thompson been doing in the
meanwhile ? Having, with his Indian hunters,
reached the rendezvous, they placed the meat of
the deer they had killed on a stage, out of reach of
predatory animals, and waited for the arrival of the
im 54
On the Old Athabaska Trail
canoes. It was now about the middle of October,
and the rest of the party should arrive in two or
three days. When ample time had been allowed,
and there was still no appearance of the canoes,
Thompson became alarmed, and sent William Henry
and an Indian down the river to look out for them.
1 Henry returned and reported that a few miles
below they had seen a camp of Piegan on the bank
of the river. Circling around it through the bush,
they had climbed down the bank to the river's side
and found where their companions had landed.
They had built a low rampart of stones to defend
themselves. Henry proceeded down the river in
hopes of overtaking them, and had even been
reckless enough to fire a shot to attract their attention, but without result.
" Thompson was now confident that the Piegan
might attack him at any moment. No time was
to be lost, and at break of day they rode for their
lives, leaving the meat behind. The country they
had to pass through was open forest, but it was so
encumbered with fallen timber that active Indians
on foot could easily overtake them. The Piegan,
as Thompson ascertained afterward, arrived early
at the stage of meat, and immediately started off
on his track. They would have overtaken him
before nightfall, but fortunately about one in the
afternoon snow came down and covered the tracks
of the horses, which made it difficult, though not
impossible, to follow. How Thompson Found the Pass
| An hour later, as the Piegan related, they came
upon three grizzly bears standing on the track of
the fur-traders. They at once jumped to the conclusion that Thompson, who, as already mentioned,
had a great reputation among them for magic,
had placed the bears there to prevent pursuit, and,
bowing to his superior powers, they abandoned the
attempt to follow him.
| Thompson and his men rode on through the
woods as well as they could. They camped at dark,
and, as there was no appearance of Indians, made
a small fire. Thompson spent the night in anxiety,
not knowing whether or not the Piegan had followed
him, cut off from the rest of his men, and uncertain
how to get in touch with them. He was at a loss
what to do—to make his way to Howse Pass, where
some of his men were waiting, or get back to the
river and find the main party. He decided on the
latter course, and, setting off at daybreak, found
them the second day, about forty miles below the
place where the Piegan had intercepted them.
" It was here, at a deserted trading-post, that
Thompson made the momentous decision that led
to the discovery of the Athabaska route. f After
much consultation,' he says, jj we fully perceived we
had no further hopes of passing in safety by the
defiles of the Saskatchewan River (Howse Pass),
and that we must change our route to the defiles
of the Athabaska River, which would place
us in safety, but would be attended with  great
I ~ ~ .Li.fcT
On the Old Athabaska Trail
inconvenience, fatigue, suffering, and privation—but
there was no alternative.'
1 He therefore sent some of his men up to Howse
Pass to bring down the horses that were waiting
there, and on the 28th of October started overland,
with twenty-four horses, loaded with trading goods
and equipment, and twenty-four men, for the
Athabaska. Alexander Henry, who had come down
from Rocky Mountain House to see him before
he left, says he found him encamped on the top
of a hill three hundred feet above the river, where
tall pines stood so thickly he could not see the tent
until within ten yards of it. Thompson, he says,
was starving. And this was the man who had
sufficient confidence in himself, and sufficient influence over his men, to set out with a large party
and no provisions to cross the Rockies by an unknown
route in winter! He not only made the attempt,
but he succeeded, and got through to the Columbia
without the loss of a man.
" He was fortunate in having leather tents with
him, and also a sufficient supply of dressed leather
to keep the men supplied with shoes. It was
arranged that the available force should be divided
to the best advantage; four to hunt and procure
provisions, two to clear a path through the woods,
the others taking care of the horses and attending
to other necessary duties.
" The route lay along a ridge about thirty miles
from the mountains, and the party would have made How Thompson Found the Pass        57
pretty good progress but for the fact that the
country had been burnt over many times and the
ground was covered in every direction with fallen
timber. As it was, with their utmost exertions
they could only make eight miles the first day in
six and a half hours, and had to go to bed hungry,
as the hunters had so far had no success.
" The next day they were more fortunate, the
hunters getting two cow buffaloes and a young
grizzly bear. They made another six miles, but
the horses were heavily loaded, the ground was
swampy, and the poor animals were exhausted
by the time they made camp. Fortunately the
weather remained tolerable.
I The last day of the month the men spent three
hours clearing a path through the bush, and as a
result they made eleven miles. The hunt brought
in one fat antelope—not much for a party of twenty-
four men. Fortunately a couple of men arrived
from Rocky Mountain House with letters and
provisions. They returned the following day, and
Henry notes some time after in his journal :' Pichette
and Pierre arrived from Mr. Thompson's camp.
They left him on Pambian (Pembina) River, with
all his property, on his way to the Columbia, cutting
his road through a wretched, thick, woody country,
over mountains and gloomy muskagoes, and nearly
starving, animals being very scarce in that quarter.'
" So the story goes, day after day, fighting their
way north through a difficult country, with scanty
Iff 58
On the Old Athabaska Trail
provisions and sometimes none at all, while winter
advanced upon them with rapid strides. On the
29th of November they reached the banks of the
Athabaska, and turned up it into the mountains.
On December 3rd Thomas, the Iroquois guide,
brought them to an island in Brule Lake where there
was an old hunter's hut, small, very dirty, without
any windows, and with no grass in the vicinity for
the horses. Thompson refused to stop here, and
they went on to a place five miles farther, where
there was plenty of grass and a good camping-
I Here they remained for the next twenty-five
days. The guide told Thompson it would be useless
to attempt to go on with horses at this late season
of the year. Accordingly the next day they began
to build log huts to shelter themselves from the
cold and protect the trading goods and provisions,
while some of the men made sleds and snow-shoes
and others were sent out hunting.
I On the 29th of December, leaving William
Henry behind to look after the horses, Thompson
set out on his final dash across the Rockies to the
Columbia. He took with him Thomas the Iroquois
as guide, and a half-breed hunter, with ten men in
charge of the dog-sleds. The way lay up the
Athabaska, sometimes on the ice and sometimes
along its banks. The last day of the year found
them struggling up the river with reduced loads,
the dogs finding the going more than they could How Thompson Found the Pass
manage. Thompson had a log hoard made to
secure the provisions left behind. This, he says in
disgust, I the work of two hours, the men took five
to finish, during which time they cooked twice a
four-gallon kettleful of meat, which they devoured,
although they had had a hearty breakfast.' The
worried explorer, anxious to get through the mountains, and conscious that every moment counted,
was exasperated at the indolence and gluttony of
his men. ' They have the appetites of wolves, and
glory in it,' he cries. I Each man requires eight
pounds of meat per day or more. Upon my reproaching some of them with their gluttony, the
reply I got was: t What pleasure have we in life
but eating ? '    Thus ended the year.
1 On the first day of the new year—1811—they
made fairly good progress, and the hunters were
fortunate enough to kill two young buffalo and a
mountain sheep. They slept in the open on pine-
branches, with a few branches stuck in the snow to
windward.    It was bitterly cold.
" The following day they remained in camp
splitting and drying the meat to reduce the weight.
The dog-sleds were reduced to eight. The next day
or two were uneventful. On the 5th, with the
thermometer registering 260 below zero, they started
up the Whirlpool with eight sleds, two dogs to each
sled. Thompson had brought two or three horses
along to relieve the dogs, but abandoned them the
following day at a place where he says the last grass
'»' 6o
On the Old Athabaska Trail
was to be found, and where a herd of buffalo had
lately been feeding. He notes that in spite of the
bitter cold the horses lived through the winter.
" In his journal under this same date there is a
curious entry. • Strange to say,' he says, ' here
is a strong belief that the haunt of the mammoth
is about this defile. I questioned several; none could
positively say they had seen him, but their belief
I found firm and not to be shaken. I remarked to
them that such an enormous, heavy animal must
leave indelible marks of his feet and his feeding.
This they all acknowledged, and that they had never
seen any marks of him, and therefore could show
me none. All I could say did not shake their belief
in his existence.'
I Two days later he writes: ' Continuing our
journey in the afternoon, we came on the track of a
large animal, the snow about six inches deep on the
ice. I measured it; four large toes each of four
inches in length, to each a short claw; the ball of
the foot sunk three inches lower than the toes;
the hinder part of the foot did not mark well, the
length fourteen inches by eight inches in breadth,
walking from north to south, and having passed
about six hours. We were in no humour to follow
him. The men and Indians would have it to be a
young mammoth, and I held it to be the track of a
large old grizzled bear. Yet the shortness of the
nails, the ball of the foot, and its very great size
was not that of a bear, otherwise that of a very How Thompson Found the Pass
large old bear, his claws worn away. This the
Indians would not allow.'
I Some time later Thompson comes back to this
incident, which seems to have intrigued him. Repeating what he had already said, he adds that the
track could be seen for a hundred yards or more.
| The hunters, eager as they are to follow and shoot
every animal, made no attempt to follow this beast,
for what could the balls of our fowling-guns do
against such an animal? Report from old times
has made the head branches of this river and the
mountains in the vicinity the abode of one or more
very large animals.
" f To this I never appeared to give credence, for
these reports appeared to arise from that fondness
for the marvellous so common to mankind, but the
sight of the track of that large beast staggered me,
and I often thought of it, yet never could bring
myself to believe such an animal existed, but thought
it might be the track of some monster bear.
" | On the sixth of October we camped in the
passes of the mountains. The hunters there pointed
out to me a low mountain apparently close to us,
and said that on the top of that eminence there was
a lake of several miles, around which was deep moss,
with much coarse grass in places, and rushes; that
these animals fed there they were sure, from the
quantities of moss torn up, with grass and rushes.
The hunters all agreed this animal was not carnivorous, but fed on moss and vegetables. \
On the Old Athabaska Trail
" \ Yet they all agree that not one of them had
ever seen the animal. I told them that I thought
curiosity alone ought to have prompted them to get
a sight of one of them. They replied that they were
curious enough to see them, but at a distance. The
search might bring them so near that they could not
get away. I had known these men for years, and
could always depend upon their word. They had
no interest to deceive themselves or other persons.
15 The circumstantial evidence of the existence
of this animal is sufficient, but notwithstanding the
many months the hunters have traversed this extent
of country in all directions, and this animal having
never been seen, there is no direct evidence of its
existence. Yet when I think of all I have seen and
heard, if put on my oath I could neither assert nor
deny its existence, for many hundreds of miles of
the Rocky Mountains are yet unknown, and through
the defiles by which we pass, distant one hundred
and twenty miles from each other, we hasten our
march as much as possible.' "
The Warden grunted contemptuously. " Quite a
fairy tale," he remarked.
" Thompson seems to have been a good deal
puzzled," I said, " and he was not the man to give
any particular weight to Indian myths. The thing
that evidently impressed him was the size of the
tracks in the snow. Assuming that they were those
of a grizzly, he must have been a monster. Ernest
Thompson Seton, in his Life Histories of Northern How Thompson Found the Pass
Mammals, says that the hind foot of an ordinary
adult is about ten inches long from heel to tip of
longest claw. Nine inches, he says, would be small,
and twelve inches very large. Thompson gives fourteen inches, and apparently very little of this was
claw or talon, which seems to have been worn away.
Thompson gives the length of the talon in one grizzly
as four and three-eighths inches, and in another six
and one-quarter, or nearly one-half the length of the
foot. On the other hand, the track in the snow
would be somewhat larger than the foot that made
it. And it should be noted that what are said to be
authentic measurements are given, in Big Game
Shooting (Badminton Library Series), of a grizzly's
hind foot of eighteen inches.
I Ross Cox, who went through the pass in 1817,
heard a similar story from the Indians, t Some of
the Upper Crees,' he says, * a tribe who inhabit the
country in the vicinity of the Athabaska River, have
a curious tradition with respect to animals which
they state formerly frequented the mountains.
They allege that these animals were of frightful
magnitude, being from two to three hundred feet
in length, and high in proportion ; that they formerly
lived in the plains, a great distance to the eastward,
from which they were gradually driven by the
Indians to the Rocky Mountains; that they destroyed all smaller animals; and if their agility was
equal to their size, would have also destroyed all the
natives.   One man has asserted that his grandfather 64
On the Old Athabaska Trail
told him he saw one of those animals in a mountain
pass, where he was hunting, and that on hearing its
roar, which he compared to loud thunder, the sight
almost left his eyes, and his heart became as small
as an infant's. Whether such an animal ever existed
I shall leave to the curious in natural history; but
if the Indian traditions have any foundation in truth,
it may have been the mammoth, some of whose
remains have been found at various times in the
United States.'
"As a matter of fact, Ross Cox need not have
gone to the United States for his illustration, as the
Red Deer country in Alberta is the happy hunting-
ground of those scientists whose quarry is the
gigantic prehistoric animal. It is beyond dispute
that enormous animals once roamed about this
country, but it seems highly improbable that any
of them lived so recently that a record of their
existence could have survived as an Indian legend.
"I've heard the same roar Ross Cox tells about
while hunting in the mountains," said the Warden,
" but I always thought it was an avalanche. It will
be much more interesting to recognise it as the
complaint of the mammoth. By the way, I suppose
the people who named Mastodon Mountain and
Mastodon Glacier got the name from Thompson's
" Probably," I said. " Well, to return to Thompson ; the day after he saw the mysterious tracks he
was well up toward the pass, for he writes : ' As we WINTER TRAVEL IN THE DAYS OF THE FUR TRADE
[p.  64  How Thompson Found the Pass
advance we feel the mild weather from the Pacific
Ocean.' One of his men this day beat one of the
dogs to death, to Thompson's indignation. As he
was always ahead of his party, the explorer found it
impossible to prevent this kind of wanton cruelty.
The man, he says, was what is called a ' flash ' man,
a showy fellow before the women, but a coward at
heart, one who would willingly desert if he had had
courage to go back alone.
I Thompson does not seem to have conceived a
very high opinion of the French-Canadian voyageur,
probably because temperamentally they were poles
apart. The frivolity and irresponsibility of the
voyageur irritated him, while that unconquerable
cheerfulness, and even gaiety under adverse circumstances, that redeemed much that might seem weak
in his character, made no particular appeal to the
phlegmatic explorer. He remembered that his men
would stuff themselves with food when they could
get it, with no thought for the morrow, but he forgot
that the same men could remain cheerful though
" On the  9th  of   January it snowed  all  day,
which made very heavy work for the dogs.    The
snow was seven feet deep, and, although the men
made a track for them with their snow-shoes, it was
still so soft that, as Thompson says, ! the dogs may
be said to swim in the road.'   The weather was so
mild that the snow was dripping from the trees,
and everything got wet.
f! 66
On the Old Athabaska Trail
" The next day was a momentous one, for on that
day Thompson stood at the summit of Athabaska
Pass. Here are his own words : I A day of snow
and southerly gale of wind, the afternoon fine. The
view now before us was an ascent of deep snow, in
all appearance to the height of land between the
Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It was to me a most
exhilarating sight, but to my uneducated men a
dreadful sight. They had no scientific object in
view.    Their feelings were of the place they were in.
"' Our guide Thomas told us that, although
we could barely find wood to make a fire, we must
now provide wood to pass the following night on
the height of the defile we were in, and which we had
to follow. My men were the most hardy that could
be picked out of a hundred brave, hardy men, but
the scene of desolation before us was dreadful, and
I knew that a heavy gale of wind, much more a
mountain storm, would have buried us beneath it.
But thank God the weather was fine. We had to
cut wood, such as it was, and each took a little on
his sled, yet such was the despondency of the men
that when night came we had only wood to make
a bottom, and on this wherewith to make a small
fire, which soon burnt out, and in this exposed
situation we passed the rest of a long night without
" l Part of my men had strong feelings of personal
insecurity. On our right, about one-third of a
mile from us, lay an enormous glacier, the eastern How Thompson Found the Pass
face of which was quite steep, of about two thousand
feet in height, and was of a clean fine green colour,
which I much admired. But whatever was the
appearance, my opinion was that the whole was not
solid ice, but formed on rocks from rills of water
frozen in their course. Westward of this steep face
we could see the glacier, with its fine green colour and
its patches of snow in a gentle slope for about two
miles. Eastward of this glacier and near to us was
a high steep wall of rock. At the foot of this, with
a fine south exposure, had grown a little forest of
pines of about five hundred yards in length by one
hundred in breadth. By some avalanche they
had all been cut clean off as with a scythe. Not
one of these trees appeared an inch higher than the
I f My men were not at their ease, yet when night
came they admired the brilliancy of the stars, and,
as one of them said, he thought he could almost
touch them with his hand. As usual, when the
fire was made, I set off to examine the country
before us, and found we had now to descend the
west side of the mountains. I returned and found
part of my men with a pole of twenty feet in length
boring the snow to find the bottom. I told them
while we had good snow-shoes it was no matter to
us whether the snow was ten or one hundred feet
deep. On looking into the hole they had bored I
was surprised to see the colour of the sides of a
beautiful blue.   The surface was of a very light 68
On the Old Athabaska Trail
colour, but as it descended the colour became more
deep, and at the lowest point was of a blue almost
1' The altitude of this place above the level of
the ocean, by the point of boiling water, is computed
to be eleven thousand feet.' This was not apparently
Thompson's own estimate, but one he attributes
to Sir George Simpson. He added this comment
when writing his autobiography many years after
his journey through the pass. It has never been
satisfactorily explained how such an unusually
careful astronomer came to record an elevation
that is almost twice the actual height. In fact,
there is evidence that Thompson himself had reached
the same conclusion as to the height of the pass,
independently of any information he may have
obtained from Simpson. In his Narrative he says:
' To ascertain the height of the Rocky Mountains
above the level of the ocean had long occupied my
attention, but without any satisfaction to myself.'
" He then goes on to explain how he had twice
written east for a mountain barometer, how they
had twice been sent out to him in care of John
McDonald of Garth, and how they had each come
to grief through the carelessness of the latter. He
then attempted to estimate the descent of the
Columbia from its source to the sea, and found it to
be 5,960 feet, which was more than twice the actual
figures. With this as a basis, he proceeded to
measure the height of some of the mountains about How Thompson Found the Pass
Lake Windermere. Coming then to the pass, he
says: \ At the greatest elevation of the passage
across the mountains by the Athabaska River, the
point by boiling water gave 11,000 feet, and the
peaks of the mountains are full 7,000 feet above this
passage, and the general height may be fairly taken
at 18,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean.' Here
Thompson was astray as to the elevation both of
the pass and the mountains. The only explanation
one can suggest, to account for such an extraordinary
error on the part of a man whose work was
characterised by extreme accuracy, is that he must
have misread his own figures. It must be remembered that when he wrote his Narrative he was
a very old man, and was dealing with things that
had happened many years before. It is conceivable that in this way he may have made a mistake
in transcribing his figures.
" To return to his journey through the pass.
j Many reflections,' he continues, f came on my
mind. A new world was in a manner before me,
and my object was to be at the Pacific Ocean before
the month of August. How were we to find provisions, and how many men would remain with me,
for they were dispirited. Amidst various thoughts
I fell asleep on my bed of snow.'
I Thompson's remark about reaching the Pacific
Ocean needs some explanation. He was, as has
been said before, an enthusiastic explorer as well as
a faithful fur-trader, and the big task he had set
, -,v
« 70
On the Old Athabaska Trail
himself was to follow the Columbia down to the sea
and survey it as he went. Before he finally left the
west he did this and a good deal more. Incidentally,
it was his purpose to take possession of the country
in the King's name, and possibly one reason why
the North West Company was anxious he should do
so was because John Jacob Astor had sent out
an expedition to establish trading-posts on the
" Early the following morning they began their
descent on the Pacific side of the pass. Thompson
noticed immediately the change both in temperature
and in forest trees. I We had not gone half a mile
before we came to fine, tall, clean-grown pines of
eighteen feet girth.' The descent was so steep that
the dogs could not control the sleds, and frequently
they would go down the slope in a heap until brought
up by some tree, the dogs shooting out on one side
of it and the sled on the other. A good deal of time
was occupied in disentangling them. Thompson
camped that night on top of the snow, it being still
too deep to clear away.
" The next day, January nth, they made about
nine miles, over tolerably level ground. The supply
of pemmican was almost exhausted, and Thomas the
Iroquois was sent ahead to hunt. Fortunately he
came in to camp with two buck moose. The twelfth
was spent in splitting and drying the venison; and
on the thirteenth some of the men were sent back
to the summit to bring down certain packages that How Thompson Found the Pass
had been left behind. Everything was recovered
except a leather bag of balls that a wolverine had
carried away.
" There is an interesting little story in connection with this bag of balls. In an article in the
Canadian Alpine Journal for 1921-22, Mr. R. W.
Cautley, one of the Interprovincial Boundary Commissioners, says: ' In August, 1921, one of the
writer's party, named Mark Platz, discovered a
somewhat scattered cache of 114 deeply corroded
musket-balls just north of the summit of (Athabaska)
Pass, and one wondered whether the owner had been
unable to find the hiding-place again, or had failed
to return.' On looking up Thompson's Narrative,
Mr. Cautley of course realised that these must be the
balls carried away by the wolverine in 1811, one
hundred and ten years before.
" To return to Thompson. The snow was so
wet and so deep that the dogs could make very
little progress, and it took some days to reach the
banks of the Columbia. He continued down its
banks for some time, but his men were becoming
unruly, disheartened because they found themselves
in a country where everything was unfamiliar.
Finally, when four of them deserted, he made up
his mind to turn back and spend the rest of the
winter at the junction with the Columbia of a stream
he had named Canoe River, a spot afterwards known
as Boat Encampment. He sent two of his men
back over the pass with letters to William Henry
If 72
On the Old Athabaska Trail
and the partners of the North West Company, and,
as he had no paper, he wrote his letters on boards.
" In April, having built a canoe of cedar-boards
hewn from trees in the surrounding forest, Thompson left Boat Encampment about the middle of
April, and ascended the Columbia to one of the
trading-posts he had built, and finally made his
way to Kettle Falls on the Columbia and down to
I In July he started up the Columbia, and finally
reached Canoe River once more, having completed
the survey of the entire river from its source to its
mouth. At Canoe River he had hoped to find a
party of North West Company men with supplies
from the east side of the mountains, but was disappointed. He seems to have expected them to
come down from Athabaska Pass by way of Canoe
River, or perhaps he means Wood River, which
is the actual route from the summit down to the
Columbia. At any rate, he started up the river
to meet them. Part of the trading goods finally
arrived, and Thompson himself started out again
over Athabaska Pass to Henry House to hurry
the transport of the remainder.
| The following year, 1812, having finally decided
to retire from the scene of his many years' labours
as an explorer and fur-trader, Thompson arrived
at Boat Encampment on the 5th of May, with a
large shipment of furs. Leaving most of his men
to bring on the furs as soon as the snow permitted, How Thompson Found the Pass
he himself hurried forward on snow-shoes, or bears'
paws as he calls them—a round variety of snow-
shoes. On May 8th he gained the height of land,
j having with great labour ascended the hills which
were under deep snow, mixed witfr icicles from the
droppings of the trees, which made very severe
walking.' On the way up he found evidence of
beaver travelling over the snow having been surprised by a wolverine.
" A cache of meat that had been left for him on
the east side of the pass had been destroyed by a
grizzly, and they had to march on without food.
The mild weather caused heavy avalanches, but
he was fortunate enough to escape. The spot where
they had camped at the summit of the pass the
previous year was now buried under the debris of
an avalanche. On the eleventh several men arrived
from Henry House with horses and provisions,
and Thompson made his way down to the Athabaska
without further trouble.
I Here he had a canoe built, and set out for Fort
William and Montreal, having first, in his methodical
way, left everything in good order at Henry House.
jj Having no provisions,' he says, j and sick of horse
meat, sent off the hunters, who brought four sheep,
an animal peculiar to these mountains, and by the
Americans named big-horn.' And so this indefatigable traveller and pathfinder drops out of
our story. He was a man of extraordinary energy,
courage, and resourcefulness, the value of whose 74
On the Old Athabaska Trail
achievements as an explorer is only beginning to
be appreciated."
" Thompson," said the Warden, " is a man for
whom I have a good deal of respect. I admire a
man who sets out to do a thing, and sees it through
at whatever cost to himself."
" So do I," I said. |1 CHAPTER IV
During the night the weather, that had seemed
rather promising, took a sudden change for the
worse, and by daylight it was raining cats and dogs.
If there had been any urgency about it, we could
have made our way down to Jasper in spite of the
rain, but it would have involved a great deal of
discomfort. As it was, we had days to spare, as
we had made the trip up to the pass in much quicker
time than had been anticipated, and there was
still plenty of grub. We made up our minds therefore to stay where we were, provided the tent
remained weatherproof. The horses had good feed
and were not likely to wander.
During a temporary lull in the storm we managed
to make a fire and boil water. With plenty of hot
tea, it was possible to make a comfortable enough
breakfast. Thereafter we lighted our pipes, and
the Warden, whose curiosity had been aroused by
the Thompson story, wanted to know who had
followed him over Athabaska Pass, and left any
account of the journey.
"About three years after Thompson's trip," I
said,    | or, to be   exact,  in  May,  1814,   Gabriel
Franchere  came  over  the  pass  in   the  opposite
if, 76
On the Old Athabaska Trail
direction. Franch&re was a native of Montreal. With
several other Canadians, he joined Astor's Pacific
Fur Company, and sailed from New York round
the Horn to the mouth of the Columbia in 1810.
After Astoria had been taken over by the North
West Company, he returned to Montreal by the
overland route, and afterwards published a very
entertaining account of his experiences in French,
which was also translated into English by J. V.
Huntington. The translator speaks of the Defoelike simplicity of the original, and he does no more
than justice to one of the most readable books in
all the literature of western exploration and the
fur trade. As your only alternative is to go out
into the rain, you might as well let me tell you
something about Franchere's voyage, as an introduction to his trip through Athabaska Pass."
" Considering the alternative," retorted the
Warden, " I don't mind listening, though it does
seem a somewhat roundabout way of reaching
Athabaska Pass, to come by way of New York and
Cape Horn."
1 The party," I said, " left Montreal in a birch-
bark canoe, manned by nine voyageurs, with
Franch&re and two others as passengers. Their
route was by way of the Richelieu, Lake Champlain,
and the Hudson, to New York. At the latter place
they created a sensation as the canoe, with its crew
of swarthy Canadians, their hats bedecked with
coloured ribbons and feathers, shot by the wharves; Gabriel Franchere and the Astorians    77
the men keeping time to one of the old chansons
of their native province.
I Franchere, with the others who had joined
Astor's Company, sailed from New York on the
Tonquin. Both he and the other passengers seem
to have conceived an unconquerable dislike for the
captain of the vessel, one Thorn, an officer of the
United States navy, a strict disciplinarian, with
rough and overbearing manners, who for his part
resented the presence on his ship of so many landsmen, with irritating landsmen's ways, over whom
he had no effective control. Particularly he could
not hide his contempt for Franchere's ignorance of
the ways of the sea, and his habit of eagerly jotting
down in his journal particulars of what to the
captain were the mere commonplaces of a sailor's
Hfe. jf
" The young Canadian was at first rather overwhelmed with his first experience of the sea. \ For
the first time in my fife,' he says, ' I found myself
under way upon the main sea, with nothing to fix
my regards and arrest my attention between the
abyss of waters and the immensity of the skies.'
To this mental discomfort was presently added the
acute physical discomfort of sea-sickness. In a
few days, however, he began to find many things
to interest him, flying fish and dolphins, sharks and
turtles. They came in sight of the Cape Verde
Islands, but the captain would not touch there as
English ships-of-war were cruising in the vicinity 78
On the Old Athabaska Trail
the commanders of which might think they had a
better right than Astor to the services of the
British subjects on the Tonquin,
" The fare on the ship consisted of fourteen ounces
of biscuit, a pound and a quarter of salt beef, or one of
pork, per day, and half a pint of souchong tea with
sugar; rice and beans once a week; cornmeal pudding with molasses the same; and on Sundays a
bottle of Teneriffe wine. As there were only six
berths in the cabin, besides the captain's and
first-mate's state rooms, these were assigned to the
senior passengers, and the rest, including Franchere,
had to make themselves as comfortable as possible
in the steerage. In fair weather they do not seem
to have had much to complain of, but when they
ran into a gale off the coast of Brazil the seas that
swept the deck came down in torrents on their
hammocks, through seams that had been opened
by the intense heat of the tropics.
" Incidents of the voyage were the baptism of
such members of the crew as had not before crossed
the equator, the appearance of those mysterious
little white spots in the sky known as the Clouds
of Magellan, and an occasional sail on the horizon.
Early in December they sighted the Falkland
Islands, and, as they were in need of fresh water,
the casks were sent ashore. Several of the passengers
took advantage of the opportunity to stretch their
legs on dry ground. They wandered about the
island, chased the foxes, stole eggs from the penguins, THE THRONE, ASTORIA VALLEY
[p. 78
k  Gabriel Franchere and the Astorians    79
and hunted for traces of the old French and English
establishments. Among other things they found
two head-boards with inscriptions in English, marking the spot where two men had been buried. As
the letters were almost obliterated, they set about
carving new ones on fresh pieces of board brought
from the ship.
" They became so engrossed in this task that they
did not notice that all the water-casks had been
filled and taken on board. Captain Thorn, exasperated at the delay in returning to the ship, ordered
the anchor to be weighed. Two of the passengers
had gone to the opposite side of the island to look
for game. The roaring of the sea against the
rock-bound coast prevented them from hearing the
signal gun, and by the time they rejoined their
companions the Tonquin was already at sea.
" \ We then lost no time,' says Franchere, {but
pushed off, being eight in number, with our little
boat, only twenty feet keel. We rowed with all our
might, but gained nothing upon the vessel. We
were losing sight of the islands at last, and our case
seemed desperate. While we paused, and were
debating what course to pursue, as we had no
compass, we observed the ship tacking and standing
towards us. In fine, after rowing for three hours
and a half, in an excited state of feeling not easily
described, we succeeded in regaining the vessel.'
* Nothing,' adds Franchere, f could excuse the act
of cruelty and barbarity of which the captain was 8o
On the Old Athabaska Trail
guilty in intending to leave us upon those barren
rocks of the Falkland Islands, where we must
inevitably have perished.'
" Washington Irving in Astoria is inclined to
defend Captain Thorn, and, although mentioning
that he I spread all sail and put to sea, swearing
that he would leave the laggards to shift for themselves,' does not believe that the captain f really
intended to carry his threat into full effect, but
rather meant to let the laggards off for a long pull
and a hearty fright.' Both he, however, and Alexander Ross, who mentions the same incident in his
Adventures on the Oregon, agree with Franchere
that what actually happened was that Robert
Stuart, nephew of one of the men who had gone
ashore, seized a brace of pistols and swore he would
blow the captain's brains out unless he stopped the
ship. Ross was himself one of the party that went
" They weathered the Horn on Christmas Day,
and entered the Pacific. The only memorable
incident in the voyage north to the mouth of the
Columbia was a visit to the Sandwich Islands for
water and provisions. They also succeeded in
securing the services of a number of Sandwich
Islanders to act as boatmen on the Columbia.
While they were ashore an old man showed them
the spot where Captain Cook had been killed in
I779> and Franchere notes the curious coincidence
that the tragedy had happened on the very day of ' I V.!
Gabriel Franchere and the Astorians    81
their visit thirty-two years before. While they
were anchored in the bay of Ohetity, the king,
Tamehameha, came out to visit them, with his
three wives and his favourite minister. Tamehameha ' was above the middle height, well made,
robust and inclined to corpulency, and had a majestic
carriage.' His wives I were of an extraordinary
corpulence, and of unmeasured size. They were
dressed in the fashion of the country, having nothing
but a piece of tapa, or bark-cloth, about two yards
long, passed round the hips and falling to the knees.'
" Franchere describes the remainder of the voyage
to the Columbia, the difficulty in getting over the
bar, the selection of a site for a trading-post and the
building of Astoria, relations with the famous
Indian chief Concomly, the tragic voyage of the
Tonquin to Nootka and the massacre of Captain
Thorn and his crew. One morning they saw a
large canoe, flying the British flag, coming down the
Columbia. A well-dressed man who appeared to
be the commander was the first to leap ashore, and,
addressing them without ceremony, said that his
name was David Thompson, and that he was one
of the partners of the North West Company. He
told them of his trip through the mountains, and
that in the spring he had built a canoe and descended
the Columbia. He kept a regular journal, says
Franchere, f and travelled, I thought, more like a
geographer than a fur-trader.'
" In May, 1812, the Beaver reached Astoria with
I 82
On the Old Athabaska Trail
supplies from New York. In the autumn news
arrived from the east of the declaration of war.
In April, 1813, J. G. McTavish and Joseph Larocque
of the North West Company brought news that the
Isaac Todd, one of the company's vessels, had sailed
from England to the Columbia with a cargo of trading goods, and with letters of marque authorising
her to seize Astoria. They waited month after
month, but the Isaac Todd did not make her
appearance. Finally the representatives of the
North West Company, whose numbers had in the
meantime been considerably augmented, entered
into negotiations with Astor's people, as a result
of which Astoria was transferred to the company
and renamed Fort George.
1 Not long afterward the sloop-of-war Raccoon,
with John McDonald of the North West Company
on board, reached the Columbia, and her captain,
who had anticipated capturing a rich prize, was
disgusted to find that the value of the prize had been
grossly exaggerated, and that, in any event, he
had been anticipated by the North West Company.
When he was shown Astoria he cried, E What! is
this the fort which was represented to me as so
formidable ? Good God ! I could batter it down
in two hours with a four-pounder! '
" As a result of the change of ownership of Astoria,
and the state of war that existed between Great
Britain and the United States, some of Astor's
party,   including    Franchere,    decided   to   avail Gabriel Franchere and the Astorians    83
themselves of the offer of the North West Company to
return to the east overland with the annual brigade
of canoes. They left Astoria, or Fort George, in
April, 1814, in ten canoes, altogether a party of
ninety persons. The only striking incident of the
journey up the Columbia was the meeting with the
wife and children of a hunter named Pierre Dorion.
As they were paddling upstream they heard a child's
voice crying Arretez, done I Arretez, done ! They
put ashore, and Dorion's wife told them her extraordinary tale. In January her husband and all
his companions had been murdered by the Snake
Indians. She had managed to elude them with her
children, and, without gun, tent, or other provisions
than the horse that carried her, had kept them and
herself alive through the winter, and had crossed
the mountains to the Columbia.
" \ On May n,' says Franchere, 1 we quitted the
Columbia to enter a little stream to which Mr.
Thompson had given in 18 n the name of Canoe
River.' The stream they actually ascended was
Wood River. The main party had previously been
divided, some of them going ahead to the Athabaska.
The group to which Franchere was - attached
numbered twenty-four. They found it very heavy
work, as they had to travel on foot; the ground was
still covered with melting snow, and they were
obliged to repeatedly ford the river, with the icy
water sometimes up to their necks.
" On the morning of the fourteenth they began 84
On the Old Athabaska Trail
to climb up to the pass, finding it necessary to stop
every few moments to take breath, so stiff was the
grade. ' After two or three hours of incredible
exertions and fatigues,' says Franchere, \ we arrived
at the plateau or summit, and followed the footprints of those who had preceded us. This mountain is placed between two others a great deal more
elevated, compared with which it is but a hill, and
of which, indeed, it is only, as it were, the valley.
Our march soon became fatiguing on account of
the depth of the snow, which, softened by the rays of
the srm, could no longer bear us as in the morning.
We were obliged to follow exactly the traces of those
who had preceded us, and to plunge our legs up to
the knees in the holes they had made, so that it was
as if we had put on and taken off at every step a
very large pair of boots.
" ' At last we arrived at a good hard bottom, and
a clear space, which our guide said was a little lake
frozen over, and here we stopped for the night.
This lake, or rather these lakes, for there are two
[actually three to-day], are situated in the midst
of the valley or cup of the mountains. [The Committee's Punchbowl and its companions.] On either
side were immense glaciers or ice-bound rocks, on
which the rays of the setting sun reflected the most
beautiful prismatic colours. One of these icy peaks
was like a fortress of rock. It rose perpendicularly
some fifteen or eighteen hundred feet above the
level of the lakes, and had the summit covered with Gabriel Franchere and the Astorians    85
ice. Mr. J. Henry, who first discovered the pass,
gave this extraordinary rock the name of M'Gilliv-
ray's Rock, in honour of one of the partners of the
North West Company. The lakes themselves are
not much over three or four hundred yards in
circuit,  and not over two hundred yards apart.'
I Without any particular adventure or misadventure, they made their way down the Whirlpool,
sometimes frozen over, oftener tumbling down over
rock and pebbly bottom in a thousand fantastic
gambols. After a tiresome march, by an extremely
difficult path through the woods, they camped.
The following day their guide brought them to
the banks of the Athabaska—which was pretty good
travelling for men on foot, in the middle of May."
II should say it was," said the Warden.
" j We all presently arrived,' continues Franchere,
I at an old house which the traders of the North
West Company had once constructed, but which
had been abandoned for some four or five years.
The site of this trading-post is the most charming
that can be imagined; suffice to say that it is built
on the bank of the beautiful River Athabaska, and
is surrounded by green and smiling prairies and
superb woodlands.'
I That must have been Henry House," commented the Warden.
I Yes, and named after the Henry who discovered
Athabaska Pass."
" Franchere goes on to say:  {We found there
■ ll: 86
On the Old Athabaska Trail
Mr. Pillet, and one of Mr. J. McDonald's party,
who had his leg broken by the kick of a horse.'
Pillet was one of Franch&re's companions on
the Tonquin voyage. He was also one of the
heroes of an adventure described by Ross
Cox. ' Mr. Pillet,' he says, ' fought a duel
with Mr. Montour of the North West Company,
with pocket pistols, at six paces; both hits ; one
in the collar of the coat, and the other in the leg
of the trousers. Two of their men acted as seconds ;
and the tailor speedily healed their wounds.' The
tailor was Holmes, who some years afterward
came to a tragic end. He and six voyageurs had
been sent down the Columbia. In attempting to
run the Upper Dalles they lost their canoe, with
all their blankets and provisions. They had to
make their way down the bank of the Columbia
through very difficult country, without food or
means of procuring it. One after another died,
and was eaten by his hunger-crazed companions.
Holmes was one of the victims. Only one of the
seven lived to tell the horrible tale.
" The man who had his leg broken by the kick
of a horse is also mentioned in the ' Autobiographical
Notes' of John McDonald of Garth, in Masson's
Bourgeois de la Compagnie du Nord-Ouest. ' One
of my men on the east side of the mountains,' he
says, f broke his leg. I had to splinter it the best
I could, and left him with one man till he got well
to reach Jasper's House.' Gabriel Franchere and the Astorians    87
" McDonald was with the party that had gone
ahead of Franchere. He describes the journey up
Canoe River with a good deal of spirit. f The river
meanders much. We therefore made a straight
cut of it, holding by one another by twos and threes,
wading sometimes up to our hips in water, dashing
in, frozen at one point, and coming out thawed
at the opposite point, and frozen again before we
dashed in again.' He says the river had a gravelly
bottom, and was sure gold abounded in it. ' It
took us, I think, fairly full four days' hard work
before we got fairly out of the mountains to Jasper
Haws' House, sometimes camping on snow twenty
feet deep, so that the fires we made in the evening
were fifteen or twenty feet below us next morning.
At one encampment we went below and camped
at the bottom very comfortably for that night.'"
" Good for Baron Munchausen! " cried the
Warden. " I thought we'd come to a real old-
fashioned traveller's tale sooner or later."
" Soon after leaving Henry House," I resumed,
" Franchere came to a small camp, where a couple
of men were waiting with horses for the party.
Two of his own men, however, arrived about the
same time in a bark canoe they had made, and
Franchere, who had bruised his knee against a log,
exchanged with one of them, and paddled down to
Roche Miette, shooting several brace of duck on
the way. Here he was overtaken by the rest of the
party.   They camped, and the following morning
if 1 88
On the Old Athabaska Trail
made their way to Jasper House, or Rocky Mountain
House, as Franchere calls it.
" The members of the advance-party were waiting for them at Jasper House, which was at that
time in charge of Francois Ducoigne, who had been
with Alexander Henry in the Athabaska district
in 1803-4, and afterwards joined the Hudson's Bay
Company. Franchere says that Jasper House had
been built by the North West Company as a provision depot for those of their employees who were
passing east or west through the mountains.
Ducoigne's hunters were at this time absent in
quest of game on Smoky River, f so called by some
travellers who saw in the neighbourhood a volcanic
mountain belching smoke.' That, at any rate, is
Franchere's explanation. It is actually a coal-
seam, that has been burning for many years. There
is a similar case on the lower Mackenzie River.
1 A few days later three men who had been left
behind at Henry House arrived in a little canoe
they had made of elk-skins sewed together and
stretched like a drum on a frame of poles. The
whole party then continued their journey down
the Athabaska in canoes. Unfortunately one of
them was upset in a rapid and two of the men,
Olivier Lapensee and Andre Belanger, drowned.
The body of the former, who was an Astorian
voyageur, was recovered and buried on the banks
of the Athabaska. Franchere says he planted a
cross over the grave, with an inscription which he Gabriel Franchere and the Astorians    89
made with the point of his knife. When Alexander
Ross travelled the same route in 1825, he found the
cross still standing, with the inscription jj Olivier
Lapensee, from Lachine, drowned here in May,
1814.' -Jj
I One word more, before taking leave of Gabriel
Franchere. He followed the then recognised route
from the Athabaska to the Saskatchewan, and
spent a short time at Fort Vermilion, then in charge
of a trader named Hallet. f Mr. Hallet,' says
Franchere, I was a polite, sociable man, loving his
ease passably well. Having testified to him our
surprise at seeing in one of the buildings a large
cariole, like those of Canada, he informed us that,
having horses, he had had his carriage made in order
to enjoy a sleigh-ride; but that the workmen,
having forgot to take the measure of the doors of
the building before constructing it, it was found
when finished much too large for them, and could
never be got out of the room where it was; and it
was like to remain there a long time, as he was not
disposed to demolish the house for the pleasure of
using the cariole !'
" Of the principal fur-traders who accompanied
Franchere on this journey, two curiously enough
figured five years afterward in the row between the
Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company at Grand Rapids of the Saskatchewan, but
on opposite sides, John Clarke with the former
and J.  G.  McTavish with the latter.   McTavish
1 90
On the Old Athabaska Trail
was captured and sent down to York Factory.
Another who was with Franchere, John Stuart,
had been with David Thompson on the Peace River
in 1803, and accompanied Simon Fraser in 1808
on his famous journey down the river that bears his
" And now," said my patient and mildly appreciative audience of one, as he scrambled to his feet,
" suppose we have lunch—such as it is. What will
you have—cold beans, or cold boiled dinner, or cold
soup, or just plain bread and cheese ? There's
plenty of water to drink." CHAPTER V
I Well," said the Warden, as we finished our unappetising meal, " thank heaven we still have
plenty of tobacco—the only cheering element in a
weeping world."
" Don't be down-hearted," I said. " I am going
to introduce you to a rather entertaining Athabaskan
pilgrim, Ross Cox. Like Franchere, he had been
one of the Astorian adventurers, but remained
behind in the Columbia River country for a few
years longer.    He came through the pass in 1817.
I He ascended the Columbia from Fort George
with the brigade of that year, a party of eighty-
six—I perhaps,' says Cox, ' the largest and most
mixed that ever ascended the Columbia.' Not the
largest, if Franchere is to be believed, as he mentions
ninety in the brigade of 1814, but quite possibly the
most mixed. Cox says it contained five Scotchmen,
two Englishmen, one Irish, thirty-six Canadians,
twenty Iroquois, two Nipissings, one Cree, three
half-breeds, nine Sandwich Islanders, a boy apparently of no particular nationality, a servant, two
women and two children, also unclassified.
I The journey was uneventful until they passed
the mouth of the Walla Walla, when a number of
11 jl
1 92
On the Old Athabaska Trail
canoes appeared filled with natives. Not expecting
any trouble, the men had stowed their muskets
away in the bottom of the canoes under the trading
goods. The Indians begged a little tobacco from the
leading canoes in the brigade, and, when they had
let these past, made an attempt to raid the canoes
in the rear. Not wishing to come to extremities,
the traders tried to ward off the attempt with
paddles. This merely enraged the Indians, who
immediately attacked with bows and arrows. Those
of the traders who had guns returned the fire, and
killed or wounded several of the savages. I The
moment they fell a shower of arrows was discharged
at us, but owing to the undulating motion of their
canoes, as well as ours, we escaped uninjured.' The
Indians at once threw themselves in the bottom
of their canoes, which drifted rapidly down the
current and were soon out of range of the muskets.
I The traders lost no time in getting ashore and
arming the voyageurs. The situation was alarming.
They were in the midst of hostile natives, who would
now be determined to avenge the death of their
warriors. Even if they managed to hold their own,
jnore men would almost certainly be killed on both
sides, and a situation created which would make
travel up and down the Columbia almost impossible.
" An island out in the river seerned the safest place
for the present, and there they spent the night and
the following day. They had decided that the
wisest plan was to demand a parley with the Indians, A Columbian Adventurer
and offer a certain quantity of goods ' to appease the
relations of the deceased.' It blew a gale, and
they were unable to leave the island until the second
morning.    By this time everyone was depressed.
1 They had had many evidences that the Indians
were watching them on every side, to prevent their
escape. And, to add to their unhappiness, one of
the voyageurs noticed a flight of ravens flying
overhead, and exclaimed, Is My friends, it is useless
to hope. Our doom is fixed. To-morrow we shall
die.' I What do you mean ? ' asked his companions.
He pointed to the ravens. | Their appearance by
night,' he replied gloomily, | in times of danger
betokens approaching death. They know our fate,
and will hover about us until the arrows of the
savages give them a banquet on our blood.' The
traders did their best to dissipate the superstitious
fears of the voyageurs, but it was more than ever
apparent that unless some peaceful settlement
could be reached with the natives their chances
of escape were exceedingly slim.
" They landed on the northern shore, and, leaving
a couple of men with each canoe, climbed up the
banks, and prepared to show the Indians a bold
front if they refused the hand of peace. The flag
of truce was raised, and word sent by the interpreter
that the white chiefs wished to have a talk with the
chiefs of the Indians. In a short time a number of
mounted Indians appeared, preceded by about one
hundred and fifty warriors on foot, all well armed 94
On the Old Athabaska Trail
with guns, spears, tomahawks, bows, and well-filled
quivers. They stopped about fifty yards from the
" Another group now approached from the woods.
' Their hair was cut short as a sign of mourning;
their bodies were nearly naked, and besmeared with
red paint. This party consisted of the immediate
relatives of the deceased ; and as they advanced they
chanted a death-song,' which was not exactly calculated to raise the spirits of the whites :
I' Rest, brothers, rest! You will be avenged.
The tears of your widows shall cease to flow when
they behold the blood of your murderers; and your
young children shall leap and sing with joy on seeing
their scalps. Rest, brothers, in peace; we shall
have blood.'
1 The whole body of savages then formed themselves into a crescent, and stood in profound silence,
more menacing than noise, waiting for the orders of
their chiefs. The leaders of the brigade then
advanced unarmed, and two chiefs, with half a
dozen of the mourners, met them midway between
the two opposing parties. Keith, who was in
command of the traders, offered the calumet of
peace, which was refused contemptuously. The interpreter was then ordered to tell the Indians that
the whites were anxious to remain on friendly
terms with them, and to that end offered to compensate the relations of those who had been killed.
The chiefs asked what compensation.   When they A Columbian Adventurer
learned it consisted of blankets, tobacco, ornaments,
etc., they indignantly rejected the offer.
I Their spokesman said that no negotiations for
peace could be entered into until two white men had
been delivered over to them, to be sacrificed according to their law to the spirits of the departed. Keith
replied that this was out of the question. He
reminded them that they had been the aggressors,
and told them that he had only offered compensation because he preferred their friendship to their
enmity. However, if they would not accept his
terms, nothing remained but to resort to arms.
They had better think the matter over, because
they had much to lose. The whites were much
better armed, and would fight to the death.
Also the inevitable result of the conflict would be
that the white traders would quit their country
for ever.
" The Indians returned to their ranks and debated
the question among themselves. The older men
advised compromise, but their views were fiercely
opposed by the relatives of the dead and the younger
warriors. Both parties began to prepare for battle.
Two or three chiefs alone remained on the neutral
ground, reluctant to abandon the effort to secure
peace. These finally fell back slowly toward their
companions, and both sides sought cover and got
their weapons ready.
" At this critical moment a dozen mounted warriors
dashed into the open space and dismounted.   They
1 96
On the Old Athabaska Trail
were headed by a young chief of striking appearance,
who hastened over to Keith and offered his hand. He
then called to the hostile Indians to come to him,
and demanded to know the cause of the quarrel.
When he had learned the circumstances from both
sides, he turned to his own people and lashed them
with his contempt.
" ' I know you all,' he cried, I and I know that
those who are afraid of their bodies in battle are
thieves when they are out of it; but the warrior
of the strong arm and the great heart will never
rob a friend. . . . The white men are brave and
belong to a great nation. Even if you were to kill
them all, a greater number would come to revenge
their death. . . . They have offered you compensation. If you refuse to take it, I will join them with
my own warriors I and, should one white man fall
by the arrow of an Indian, that Indian, if he were
my brother, with all his family, shall die.' Then,
raising his voice, he cried : f Let all who love me
come forth and smoke the pipe of peace! ' A
hundred or more immediately came over to his
side, the rest sullenly abandoned the attack, and
peace was restored.
11 have summarised Ross Cox's version of the
young chief's harangue, and his own, he says, gives
but a faint outline of the original, which lasted for
two hours, and soared into wild flights of Indian
metaphor, accompanied by impassioned gestures.
The admiration of the whites knew no bounds, and A Columbian Adventurer
was perhaps not lessened by the fact that their lives
hung upon the issue.
I Cox was very much impressed with what he
saw of the Kootenay Indians. They are, he says,
' the remnant of a once brave and powerful tribe
who, like the Flatheads, were perpetually engaged in
war with the Blackfeet for the right of hunting on
the buffalo grounds. They are strictly honest in
all their dealings, and remarkable for their adherence
to truth. Polygamy is unknown among them.
The greatest cleanliness and neatness are observable
about their persons and lodges. They are rather
handsome, above the middle size, and, compared
with other tribes, remarkably fair. On the whole,
we may say of this interesting people that, in their
intercourse with white men, they are rather haughty
and reserved; in conversation candid; in trade
honest; brave in battle; and devotedly attached to
each other and their country.'
1 A few years ago," I said, " I saw something of
the Kootenay, and can confirm the judgment of Ross
Cox. The Kootenay of the present day are a
remarkably superior race of Indians, immeasurably
above some of the tribes east of the Rockies, and
west of them too. Some of the Indian faces I saw
at the David Thompson celebration at Windermere
were strikingly handsome, and full of character and
dignity. One must confess that in this respect a
comparison with the whites who attended the meeting was rather humiliating.
1* -98
On the Old Athabaska Trail
I Ross Cox's description of the manner of trading
agrees pretty much with that of Alexander Ross,
so far as the smoking ceremonies go. Cox adds
that ) when the smoking terminates, each Indian
divides his skins into different lots. For one he
wants a gun, for another ammunition, for a third
a copper kettle, an axe, a blanket, a tomahawk, a
knife, ornaments for his wife, etc., according to the
quantity of skins he has to barter. The trading
business being over, another general smolring-match
takes place, after which they retire to their village or
encampment. They are shrewd, hard dealers, and
not a whit inferior to any native of Yorkshire,
Scotland, or Connaught in driving a bargain.'
" The trade rivalry between the North West
Company and the Pacific Fur Company (Astor's
people) in the Columbia country sometimes led
to dramatic and more or less amusing episodes.
Ross Cox tells of one of these. Two rival traders
were operating in the Flathead country, and, as
usual, their posts stood side by side. They might
be rivals in trade, but, after all, they were two lonely
whites in the midst of savages; they needed companionship, and any day they might need mutual
" Both happened at this time to be out of that
indispensable commodity, tobacco, and at any
moment a large party of Flatheads were expected
with skins to barter. Nothing could be done without tobacco, as that was the indispensable adjunct   A Columbian Adventurer
of all trading operations. Whichever succeeded in
getting a supply first would capture the trade.
The P.F.C. man sent a frantic appeal to a neighbouring fort to let him have a quantity of tobacco at
the earliest possible moment.
| The distance between the posts was seventy-
two miles, and the tobacco must be delivered that
night or the Indians would go over in a body to the
N.W.C. trader, with whom they were better acquainted. It was eleven in the forenoon when the
letter arrived, and it seemed utterly impossible to
save the situation. It happened, however, that
Clarke, who received the letter, had a famous horse
called Le Bleu, who had beaten all competitors in
racing. Ross Cox offered to make the attempt if
he would lend him Le Bleu.
" He got away at noon on a hard gallop, at first
over a well-beaten trail. Late in the evening he
came to a thick wood, through which the trail ran
for ten miles. In the darkness he lost his way,
and got entangled in down-timber and brushwood.
Leaving the matter, however, to the sagacity of his
horse, they finally won through, emerging from the
forest about eight o'clock, to see the lights of their
destination twinkling on the river's bank. Two
hours later their rivals appeared with a quantity
of tobacco, but in the interval the Flatheads had
smoked with the P.F.C. people and turned over to
them their furs.
" Cox also tells of the tragic end of an old voyageur 100
On the Old Athabaska Trail
who in his day was a famous character in the fur
trade, Jacques Hoole. Hoole had been born in
France, had served as a soldier in Scotland and
made prisoner at Culloden, had been exchanged
and subsequently sent to Canada with one of the
French regiments. He was present at the Battle
of the Plains of Abraham, and was one of the men
who carried Montcalm into Quebec after he had
received his death-wound.
" After the cession of Canada, Hoole left the
army, married, and became a farmer. When the
revolutionary war broke out, he again responded to
the call to arms, this time on the British side, became a sergeant of militia, and for the second time
served through a siege of Quebec, the aggressors
now being the Americans. He was wounded in
the knee, which caused a slight lameness during the
rest of his life.
" Hoole's good angel seems about this time to
have neglected him. The republicans had destroyed
his farm, his wife proved faithless, and his children
disobedient. In disgust he made up his mind to
become a fur-trader, and went west with a party that
was about setting out from Montreal. He was too
independent to join any of the trading companies,
but preferred trapping beaver on his own account,
selling the skins at one or other of the forts.
" \ This extraordinary old man,' says Ross Cox,
1 was ninety-two years of age at the time of his
death.   I saw him the year before, and he then A Columbian Adventurer
possessed much of the lightness and elasticity of
youth, with all the volatility of a Frenchman. His
only luxury was tobacco, of which he consumed an
incredible quantity. From his great age he was
called Pere Hoole. The Canadians treated him
with much respect, and their common salutation
of " Bon jour, pere" was answered by " Merci,
merci, mon fils" He was found one day close to
a beaver-dam, scalped and with a bullet through
his temples.
I But it is high time we got to Ross Cox's journey
over Athabaska Pass. He left Boat Encampment
on the morning of May 28th, and made his way up
the wide and cheerless valley of Wood River. ' The
awful solitude,' he says, jj of this gloomy valley.'
Three days later he commenced the ascent of the
Grande Cote, i At its base, were cedar and pine-
trees of enormous magnitude, but in proportion
as we ascended they decreased in size, and at the
summit of the hill their appearance was quite
" Shortly after noon they arrived at the summit,
and camped there. ' The country round our encampment presented the wildest and most terrific
appearance of desolation that can be well imagined.
, . . Close by, one gigantic mountain of conical
form towered majestically into the clouds far above
the others. This is called M'Gillivray's Rock, in
honour of the late Wm. M'Gillivray, a principal
director of the company.   One of our rough-spun, 102
On the Old Athabaska Trail
unsophisticated Canadians, after gazing upwards
for some time in silent wonder, exclaimed with
much vehemence, " I'll take my oath, my dear
friends, that God Almighty never made such a
place!"'   i *
I On the ist of June the party set out about an
hour before daybreak in deep snow, to make their
way down the Whirlpool. At eleven in the morning they arrived at ' a charming spot of rich meadow
ground called by our hunters L'encampement du
Fusil.' |
| The following morning they managed to make
some miles before sunrise. ' After passing through
a thick wood of small pine, arrived on the banks
of the Rocky Mountain river [Whirlpool], at a
particular spot called the Traverse du Trou.'
" All hands set about preparing a raft. The
river was between three hundred and four hundred
yards wide, with a gentle current. The raft was
carried into a rapid, where it became entangled
among the rocks. Finally it was broken up, and
they had to construct another. Ross Cox, with
several others, embarked on it, taking with them
part of the baggage, in an attempt to get it to. the
other side of the river. ' Poled away with might
and main, and had crossed two-thirds of the river
when, on the point of entering an eddy, lost bottom
with our poles, and were carried instantly into a
" They brought up against a rock.   One of the A Columbian Adventurer
men jumped overboard and managed to gain the
shore. Another came out to the raft with a line to
secure it until the baggage could be got ashore.
Having fastened one end, he and a companion
managed to get several heavy bundles on land.
This unfortunately lightened the raft so much that
it instantly swung round, the fine snapped, and
before they had time to look about they found
themselves again in the rush of the rapid. * All
hands immediately jumped overboard, and seized
the raft in the hope of stopping its progress, but
the overpowering strength of the current baffled
all our puny efforts. We might as well have tried
to arrest the flight of an eagle, or stop a cannon-
ball in its career.'
" Ross Cox and a couple of others managed to
clamber on to the raft once more, but their situation
was not enviable. They had neither pole nor paddle,
and even if they had could have done nothing much
with such a clumsy craft in such a rapid current.
They shot down one rapid scatheless, but were
almost immediately hurried into another. Again
they escaped. ' On emerging from this we were
forced with inconceivable rapidity through a succession of cascades and rapids, two miles in extent,
in the course of which, owing to our repeatedly
striking on the rocks, the timbers began to separate.
" A brief space of smooth water at length
appeared, and we once more indulged a faint hope
of escape, when a loud and roaring noise announced 104
On the Old Athabaska Trail
the immediate vicinity of a cataract. The current
became swifter. I looked in vain for relief to my
two companions. But neither the active mind of
my friend M'Gillivray, ever fertile in resources,
nor the long experience of the Iroquois, accustomed
from his infancy to similar scenes, could suggest
any chance of escape.
I' The thunders of the cataract now dinned in
our ears; the spray from the boiling abyss began
to envelop us; and every succeeding moment
diminished the slight hopes which had hitherto
occasionally shot across our bewildered senses.
The frightful rapidity of the current, joined to the
apprehension of instant annihilation, banished even
the recollection of kindred home, which, for a
moment, obtruded itself on my imagination. With
hope fled despair, and in silent resignation we awaited
our fate.
" ' But at the moment when it appeared inevitable the sharp eyes of M'Gillivray observed that
the raft was caught by a counter-current immediately
above the fall. He had a small stick, with which
he sounded, and found the depth did not exceed
three feet. He instantly jumped overboard, followed
by Louis and myself, and with a little exertion we
succeeded in dragging the raft into an eddy free
from the influence of the great body of water, from
whence we easily brought it to shore without the
loss of a single article.'
" Meanwhile another group had been left on the A Columbian Adventurer
opposite side of the river, and, after what they had
seen of the fate of the raft, were in no mood to
attempt a crossing. They made their way down
the banks for about five miles, and camped there
very miserably, without food or bedding or even
means to make a fire.
"The following day the parties were reunited.
Nine in the morning brought them to the mouth of
the Whirlpool. There, notwithstanding their previous experience, they again built rafts, and were
carried down the Athabaska with great rapidity,
escaping shipwreck on a big rock in the middle of
the stream by almost a hair's breadth. They
arrived late in the evening at an uninhabited house
called the * Old Fort,' built, says Cox, j several years
ago as a hunting-lodge for trappers, but subsequently abandoned.' This was, of course, Henry
House, at the junction of the Athabaska and the
I At eight on the morning of the fifth they arrived
at a hunting-lodge belonging to the North West
Company. No person was in it. They had abandoned the rafts, whose principal purpose had been
to get them over to the eastern bank of the Athabaska,
some time before reaching the mouth of the Miette,
and had since been travelling down the valley on
horseback. Toward evening they came to Roche
Miette, and, climbing laboriously over its face,
encamped on the eastern side.
" Early on the morning of the sixth they came
u Ifc^
On the Old Athabaska Trail
opposite Jasper House, or, as Ross Cox calls it,
Rocky Mountain House. A canoe was sent over,
and ferried them across the river. It is evident
that in 1817 Jasper House was still in its original
position at the foot of what is now called Brule Lake,
on the left bank. Some time after the union of the
two companies the Hudson's Bay Company rebuilt
the post on a somewhat more elaborate scale, some
miles farther up the river, at the foot of Jasper Lake.
The hunting-lodge mentioned by Ross Cox must
have been somewhere in this vicinity.
" Jasper House, according to Cox,' was a miserable
concern of rough logs, with only three apartments,
but scrupulously clean inside. An old clerk, Jasper
Hawes, was in charge, and had under his command
two Canadians, two Iroquois, and three hunters.'
It will be noted that both Franchere and Cox refer
to it as Rocky Mountain House. Alexander Ross,
who came through in 1825, was the first to mention
it as Jasper House, and it is on his authority that
Hawes or Hawse is credited with having built the
post. Hawes was in charge in 1817, but Ducoigne
had been there two years earlier. It therefore
seems improbable that the post could have been
built by Hawes.
I At half-past one in the afternoon of the seventh
Ross Cox took leave of | the melancholy hermitage
of Mr. Jasper Hawes.' He followed the old route
down the Athabaska and by way of Methye Portage
and He a la Crosse Lake to the Churchill and the A Columbian Adventurer
Saskatchewan. He gives a spirited account of
their arrival at He a la Crosse fort. These were days
when the long-drawn-out conflict between the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company
was at its worst. Each had become a law unto
itself, seizing and imprisoning members of the other
organisation, destroying their goods, sometimes
burning their forts. Occasionally, as in the case
of Governor Semple, their conflicts ended in the
death of men on one side or the other.
I Cox therefore approached the fort warily, not
knowing in whose hands it might be at the moment.
It was with relief that he saw the flag of the North
West Company flying above the bastions. They
had disembarked on the opposite side of the lake,
to shave themselves and make themselves presentable, and now paddled bravely over to the wharf,
singing the ' Chanson d VAviron!
I At He a la Crosse Cox was welcomed by that
redoubtable Nor'-wester Peter Skene Ogden, of
whom he gives a very entertaining account—
\ humorous, honest, eccentric, law-defying Peter
Ogden, the terror of Indians, and the delight of all
gay fellows.'
I Cox continued his way down to Montreal, and at
Rainy Lake bid farewell to M'Gillivray, who was
to return to the west. t We had spent many happy
days together on the banks of the distant Columbia.
Our studies and amusements were the same. We
had suffered in common many privations incident On the Old Athabaska Trail
to that dangerous district; and, whether in a canoe,
or on horseback, over a bit of backgammon, or on
the midnight watch, there was a community of
feeling that peculiarly endeared us to each other.
. . . The pressure of the parting grasp was rendered
doubly painful by the reflection that in all human
probability we should never meet again.' "
Cox had left the fur trade, and was on his way back
to the land of his birth, England. And we now
may also bid him farewell. CHAPTER VI
The morning broke clear, and as we enjoyed the
luxury of a hot breakfast we talked over our plans.
Last night it had seemed altogether desirable to get
back under a civilised roof as soon as possible.   This
morning, with the sun shining over glorious peaks,
civilised roofs had no place in the picture.    I still
had a day or two to spare, and, as the Warden was
free, we decided to ride up to Athabaska Falls.   This
would really be in the nature of a compromise with
civilisation,  as our route would be over a very
civilised trail, and at the end we would find a newly
finished and very comfortable cabin.    However, we
would be alone in the heart of the eternal hills, and
that was a prospect that still had charms.
The tourist, whose name is legion, fortunately
prefers for the most part to confine his activities in
Jasper Park to little jaunts that will bring him back
to luncheon or dinner at the Lodge, and to rough it
at night in one of the rustic cottages, equipped with
bathroom, electric light, and telephone.    Perhaps
from his point of view he is entirely right.    He
certainly escapes many discomforts, and it may be
that he misses nothing.   At any rate, he leaves the
silence unbroken of many a mountain-top and valley,
_ no
On the Old Athabaska Trail
spots that sometimes seem too wonderful to be
looked upon by human eye.
Highbrow and her companions (Highbrow was
not a lady horsd, but for some occult reason we
always spoke of " her ") were reluctant to resume
their loads, but were finally persuaded. We
mounted, turned down the trail, after a time crossed
the new bridge over the Whirlpool, and, following
the luxurious thoroughfare on the other side, came
in the course of a very delightful morning's ride to
the spot where the Athabaska hurls itself down into
a gloomy, awe-inspiring cavern, writhes there in fury
for a moment, and then flings itself down a tortuous
gorge. The sullen roar of its passage could be heard
while we were still some way down the trail.
Leading our horses carefully over the bridge that
spans the gorge immediately below the falls, we
mounted again, and rode up the opposite bank for
several miles to the new cabin. This trail leads to
the southern boundary of the park, and we learned
that some of our friends had lately passed, on their
way from Banff to Jasper, a wonderful trip through
the very heart of the Rockies, but one, unfortunately,
that takes more time than most of us have at our
Turning the horses loose in an excellent natural
pasture, we made ourselves comfortable in the cabin,
filled the kettle at a spring that bubbles out of the
bank, and enjoyed a late but thoroughly satisfactory
lunch.   We debated whether to build a camp-fire Last of the Nor'-westers in
or use the cabin stove. It might seem that to tired
men the choice would be extremely simple, but the
fact was that, while the stove was there, the stove-pipe
was still lying on the floor, and, what was worse,
there was not enough of it to reach the chimney.
However, we decided on the stove, and the Warden,
who was a man of resource, managed to improvise
an additional length of pipe. It took much longer
than a camp-fire, but we had the satisfaction of
feeling that human ingenuity and will-power had
once more triumphed over the innate stubbornness
of inanimate things.
Thereafter we selected a comfortable spot where
we could bask in the sun and enjoy the view, and
lighted our pipes.
| This," I said, " seems as good a time as any to
inflict upon you some of the experiences of Alexander
Ross and Edward Ermatinger, the last of the fur-
traders who have left any account of their journeys
through Athabaska Pass."
The Warden said nothing, and I continued:
I Ross came through in 1825, with Governor
Simpson of the Hudson's Bay Company, Chief Factor
McMillan, Ross's son, and fifteen voyageurs. The
old North West Company was then a thing of the
past, having been absorbed by the Hudson's Bay
Company four years before. Some of the men who
had made the Canadian company famous were now
working for the H.B.C., and others, like Thompson,
had retired from the fur trade and gone east to spend
, On the Old Athabaska Trail
the evening of their life in some quiet village on the
banks of the St. Lawrence or the Ottawa. Ross
himself was on his way to Red River, where he was
to make his home in the Settlement that Lord
Selkirk had established, and that some years later
was to become known as Winnipeg.
Perhaps the most interesting parts of Ross's
book, Fur-Hunters of the Far West, which contains
the account of his journey of 1825, are those relating
to the manners and customs of the fur-traders.
Here, for instance, is his lively description of the
manner in which the partners or bourgeois of the
North West Company travelled when they were
going light—that is, without trading-goods, furs,
or other heavy freight:
The bourgeois is carried on board his canoe
upon the back of some sturdy fellow generally
appointed for this purpose. He seats himself on
a convenient mattress, somewhat low in the centre
of his canoe, his gun by his side. No sooner is he
at his ease than his pipe is presented by his attendant
and he begins smoking, while his silken banner
undulates over the stern of his painted vessel.
Then the bending paddles are plied, and the fragile
craft speeds through the currents with a degree of
fleetness not to be surpassed, yell upon yell from
the hearty crew proclaiming their prowess and skill.
A hundred miles performed, night arrives ; the
hands jump out quickly into the water, and their
nabob and his companions are supported to terra Last of the Nor'-westers
firma. A roaring fire is kindled and supper is
served. His honour then retires to his repose.
At dawn of day they set out again ; the men now
and then relax their arms and light their pipes;
but no sooner does the headway of the canoe die
away than they renew their labours and their chorus,
a particular voice being ever selected to lead the
song.    The guide conducts the march.
" ' At the hour of breakfast they put ashore on
some green plot. The tea-kettle is boiling, a variegated mat is spread, and a cold collation set out.
Twenty minutes later and they start anew. The
dinner-hour arrives. They put ashore again. The
liquor can accompanies the provision basket; the
contents are quickly set forth in simple style ; and,
after a refreshment of twenty minutes more, off
they set again, until the twilight checks their
" * When it is practicable to make way in the
dark, four hours is the voyageur's allowance of
rest; and at times, on boisterous lakes and bold
shores, they keep for days and nights together on
the water, without intermission and without repose.
They sing to keep time to their paddles; they sing
to keep off drowsiness, caused by their fatigue;
and they sing because the bourgeois likes it.
" 1 Through hardships and dangers, wherever he
leads, they are sure to follow with alacrity and
cheerfulness—over mountains and hills, along valleys
and dales, through woods and creeks, across lakes and
Ht ii4
On the Old Athabaska Trail
rivers. They look not to the right nor to the left;
they make no halt in foul or fair weather. Such
is their skill that they venture to sail in the midst
of waters like oceans, and, with amazing aptitude,
they shoot down the most frightful rapids, and
generally come off safely.
" l When about to arrive at the place of their
destination, they dress with neatness, put on their
plumes, and a chosen song is raised. They push
up against the beach as if they meant to dash the
canoe into splinters, but most adroitly back their
paddles at the right moment, whilst the foreman
springs on shore and, seizing the prow, arrests the
vessel in its course. On this joyful occasion every
person advances to the waterside, and great guns
are fired to announce the bourgeois's arrival. A
general shaking of hands takes place, as it often
happens that people have not met for years. Even
the bourgeois goes through this mode of salutation
with the meanest. There is perhaps no country
where the ties of affection are more binding than
here. Each addresses his comrades as his brothers,
and aH address themselves to the bourgeois with
reverence, as if he were their father.
" ' From every distant department of the company, a special light canoe is fitted out annually, to
report their transactions. The one from the
Columbia sets out from the Pacific Ocean the first
of April, and, with the regularity and rapidity of a
steam-boat, it reaches Fort William, on Lake Superior,  1 Last of the Nor'-westers
the first of July ; remaining there until the twentieth
of that month, when it takes its departure back, and,
with an equal degree of precision, arrives at Fort
George, at the mouth of the Columbia River, on
the twentieth October.
" ' A light canoe likewise, leaving the Pacific,
reaches Montreal in a hundred days, and one from
Montreal to the Pacific in the same space of time,
thus performing a journey of many thousand miles
without delay, stoppage, or scarcely any repose
in the short period of little more than six months.'
" And here is an entertaining picture of the
voyageur painted by himself: ' I have now,' said
he, f been forty-two years in this country. For
twenty-four I was a light canoe-man; I required
but little sleep, but sometimes got less than required.
No portage was too long for me; all portages were
alike. My end of the canoe never touched the
ground till I saw the end of the portage. Fifty
songs a day were nothing to me. I could carry,
paddle, walk, and sing with any man I ever saw.
During that period I saved the lives of ten bourgeois,
and was always the favourite, because when others
stopped to carry at a bad step, and lost time, I
pushed on—over rapids, over cascades, over chutes,
all were the same to me. No water, no weather,
ever stopped the paddle or the song.
" 11 have had twelve wives in the country; and
was once possessed of fifty horses, and six running
dogs, trimmed in the first style.    I was then like
H n6
On the Old Athabaska Trail
a bourgeois, rich and happy; no bourgeois had
better-dressed wives than I, no Indian chief finer
horses, no white man better-harnessed or swifter
dogs. I beat all Indians at the race, and no white
man ever passed me in the chase. I wanted for
nothing; and I spent all my earnings in the enjoyment of pleasure. Five hundred pounds, twice
told, have passed through my hands; although
now I have not a spare shirt to my back nor a penny
to buy one. Yet, were I young again, I should glory
in commencing the same career again. I would
spend another half-century in the same fields of
enjoyment. There is no life so happy as a voyageur's
life; none so independent; no place where a man
enjoys so much variety and freedom as in the Indian
country.   Huzza ! huzza ! pour le pays sauvage !'
" Although the life of a fur-trader was not without its hazards and discomforts, there were, according
to Ross, many compensations. The duties were a
mixture of mercantile and military. Young clerks
of ability were soon put in charge of trading-posts,
some involving very considerable responsibility.
The clerks ? are first taught to obey, afterwards
they learn to command, and at all times much is
expected of them. It sometimes happens to be
long before they receive the charge of a first-rate
establishment, but when the general posture of
affairs is propitious to their employers, it is not very
often that their laudable desires are disappointed.
They at length arrive at the long-wished-for goal Last of the Nor'-westers
of partners, and are entitled to a vote in all weighty
decisions of the council; they are thenceforth
styled Esquires.
I' The bourgeois lives in comfort if not luxury.
He rambles at his pleasure ; enjoys the merry dance,
or the pastime of some pleasing game ; his morning
ride, his fishing-rod, his gun and his dog, or a jaunt
of pleasure to the environs in his gay canoe, occupy
his time. In short, no desire remains unfulfilled.
He is the greatest man in the land.
" I The buildings belonging to the Company are
both neat and commodious; each class being provided with separate abodes. The apartments are
appropriately divided into bedrooms, ante-chambers,
and closets. There are also the counting-rooms,
the mess-room, the kitchen and pantry, the cellars,
and the Indian hall; together with handsome
" Ross has something to say about women in
the fur trade. • Even in this barbarous country,'
he says, ' woman claims and enjoys her due share
of attention and regard. Her presence brightens
the gloom of the solitary post; her smiles add a new
charm to the pleasures of the wilderness. Nor are
the ladies deficient in those accomplishments which
procure admiration. Although descended from
aboriginal mothers, many of the females at the
different establishments throughout the Indian
countries are as fair as the generality of European
ladies, the mixture of blood being so many degrees n8
On the Old Athabaska Trail
removed from the savage as hardly to leave any
trace, while, at the same time, their delicacy of
form, their light and nimble movements, and the
penetrating expression of the bright, black eye
combine to render them objects of no ordinary
" I They have also made considerable progress
in refinement, and, with their natural acuteness
and singular talent for imitation, they soon acquire
all the ease and gracefulness of polished life. On
holidays the dresses are as gay as in longer settled
countries ; and on these occasions the gentleman
puts on the beaver hat, the ladies make a fine show
of silks and satins, and even jewellery is not wanting.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the roving Northwester, after so many rural enjoyments, and a
residence of twenty years, should feel more real
happiness in these scenes than he can hope for in
any other country.' "
The Warden, who is not much of a ladies' man,
listened rather impatiently to these particulars.
He couldn't see what the presence of women at the
trading-posts had to do with the men's happiness
or contentment, nor could he agree that silks and
satins, beaver hats and jewellery, had any proper
place in such a life. To his mind a man's best
companion was his pipe. " Has Ross anything
to say about tobacco ? " he asked.
" Yes ; he tells an Indian legend about its origin.
He found it current  among the Snake  Indians. Last of the Nor'-westers
\ They were the first smokers of tobacco on the
earth, and have been in the habit of using it from
one generation to another since the world began.
All other Indians learned to smoke and had their
tobacco first from them. The white people's tobacco is only good for the whites, and, if they should
give the preference to the white people's tobacco
and give up smoking their own, it would then cease
to grow on their lands, and a deleterious weed
would grow up in its place and poison them all.'
" Ross says the native tobacco is a good substitute
for our own, having the same aromatic flavour
and narcotic effect. It is weaker, but he attributes
that to the way they manufacture it for use. They
dry it, and then rub it between their hands or pound
it with stones until it is tolerably fine, in which
state it almost resembles green tea in appearance.
In smoking it leaves a gummy taste in the mouth.
" Well, to get back to his journey, Ross, with
Governor Simpson and the others, reached Boat
Encampment in April, and started up Wood River.
It was most uncomfortable travelling at that time
of the year. ' The cold made us advance at a quick
pace, to keep ourselves warm. The Governor himself, generally at the head, made the first plunge into
the water, and was not the last to get out. His
smile encouraged others, and his example checked
murmuring.' Ross adds that, although the weather
was so cold, they had to be lightly clad, because,
as  they  were  constantly  fording  the  river,  the
H 120
On the Old Athabaska Trail
weight of heavier clothes would have been a serious
" ' To give a correct idea,' he says, I of this part
of our journey [that is, up Wood River] let the reader
picture in his own mind a dark, narrow defile, skirted
on one side by a chain of inaccessible mountains,
rising to a great height, covered with snow, and
slippery with ice from their tops down to the water's
edge. And on the other side a beach comparatively
low, but studded in an irregular manner with
standing and fallen trees, rocks and ice, and full of
driftwood; over which the torrent everywhere
rushes with such irresistible impetuosity that very
few would dare to adventure themselves in the
stream. Let him again imagine a rapid river
descending from some great height, filling up the
whole channel between the rocky precipices on the
south and the no less dangerous barrier on the north.
And lastly let him suppose that we were obliged to
make our way on foot against such a torrent, by
crossing and recrossing it in all its turns and windings
from morning till night, up to the middle in water—
and he will understand that we have not exaggerated
the difficulties to be overcome in crossing the Rocky
I Finally they arrived at the foot of the big hill,
then known as the Grande Cote, which leads up to
Athabaska Pass. At nine in the morning they
began the ascent, and kept it up till five in the
afternoon, toiling up the hill with their heavy loads. Last of the Nor'-westers 121
Difficult as it is, Ross says that at certain
seasons, when the snow was off the ground, loaded
horses managed to ascend and descend by this
" On the summit of the hill they found the snow
eight feet deep. They camped there for the night,
each man rolling himself up in his blanket, with
his feet to the camp-fire, and his boots and socks
on a forked stick to dry. By morning the fire had
sunk down, and some of the men, jumping up
suddenly, slid down into the fiery gulf, but, unlike
MacDonald of Garth, they did not stay there.
' Fortunately,' says Ross, I the melted snow which
they carried down with them and the activity of
their comrades, who hastily dragged them up,
prevented anything more serious than a fright.'
" In the morning they advanced 'through abroad,
level valley, thickly wooded with dwarf pines, for
about six miles, when we reached what is called the
great height of land.' In honour of the Committee's
Punchbowl, he says, jj His Excellency treated us to
a bottle of wine, as we had neither time nor convenience to make a bowl of punch, although a glass of it
would have been very acceptable. It is a tribute
always paid to this place when a nabob of the fur
trade passes by.' This sufficiently explains the
peculiar name that has been given to this singular
little lake, though there does not appear to be any
evidence as to when the name was given or under
what circumstances.
I 122
On the Old Athabaska Trail
I Leaving the Punchbowl, they followed the Whirlpool down to what was then known as the Grand
Batteur or Grand Batture—the gravel flat between
Scott Creek and Ross Cox Creek. f Not far from
this place,' says Ross, j is a very singular rock,
placed on the shoulder of another. This huge and
conspicuous rock we named the Giant of the Rocks.
The bold and rugged features of the prospect here
defy all description.'
"They had only advanced a few miles from
Grand Batteur when they had the good fortune to
meet, at a place Ross calls Campment d'Orignai, two
of the men from Henry House with a band of light
horses for their service. The remainder of their
journey to the Athabaska they were therefore able
to make comfortably on horseback.
" At the junction of the Whirlpool, or, as Ross
calls it, Punchbowl Creek, with the Athabaska, is a
place that was then known as the Hole, f so called
from the depth of water at the edge of the bank, the
Athabaska being unfathomable there.'
" Having left the valley of the Whirlpool, Ross
comments on the character of the pass. { Of the
different passes and portages through these mountains with which I am acquainted, the Athabaska
Pass is perhaps the longest as well as the most gloomy
and difficult, owing chiefly to the water in the portage
valley [Wood River]. The Kootenay Pass, the
route by Hell's Gate, or the Valley of Troubles are
all less tedious, if taken in the proper season, and Last of the Nor'-westers
the obstacles they present are more easily overcome
than those of the Athabaska. Yet the Athabaska
can be travelled from one end to the other on horseback, with the exception of one or two steps in the
Grande Cote.'
" They arrived at Henry House, or Rocky Mountain House, as Ross calls it, without difficulty.
I Here we found no lordly dwellings, but a neat
little group of wood huts suited to the climate of the
country. . . . My old friend Joseph Felix Larocque,
an old North-wester, and formerly of Columbia, was
in charge, and treated us to a dish of very fine titameg
or white fish, the first I had ever seen. The white
fish here is considered in point of quality in the same
light as the salmon of the Columbia, the finest fish in
the country, and many an argument takes place
whenever parties east and west of the mountains
meet as to which is the best. The Columbians, as a
matter of course, argue in favour of the semetleck or
salmon, while the adverse party advocate as strongly
the titameg. Delicious as we found the titameg,
there was nothing either in the taste or flavour to
induce me to alter the opinion I had formed. I gave
the preference to the good old salmon as the king
of all the piscatory tribes on either side of the
" They left Henry House in two canoes, and made
their way down the Athabaska. Passing through
Jasper Lake—now Brule Lake—they came to Jasper
House, I still smaller and of less importance than the 124
On the Old Athabaska Trail
first (Henry House), and so called in honour of the
first adventurer who established it.' Ross, of course,
refers to Jasper Hawse, who, as I said before, is
generally credited, though I think improperly, with
having built the post about the beginning of the
century. No one knows if the curiously punning
resemblance between the names of the man and the
post was accidental or deliberate. Jasper House
was at this time in charge of a man of the name
of Klyne, ' a jolly old fellow with a large family.'
Attached to the post were only a few indolent
freemen. Not an Indian could be seen about the
" We may take leave of Alexander Ross at Fort
Assiniboine, ] a petty post erected on the north
bank of the river [Athabaska], and so completely
embosomed in the woods that we did not catch a
glimpse of it until we were among huts and surrounded by howling dogs and screeching children.
At this sylvan retreat there were but three rude
houses. Two white men and six half-breeds were
all we saw about the place. This mean abode was
dignified with the name of fort, and with the presence
of a chief factor.' Ross adds, however, that Fort
Assiniboine was then being reconstructed by the
Hudson's Bay Company on a more elaborate scale. CHAPTER VII
" That," I said, " is about all the fur-traders have
to tell us about the old Athabaska Trail. There
are still, however, several narratives of travellers
who came this way through the mountains. One
was a botanist, another a missionary, still another
an artist. Also some travelled over part of the
route, but did not go through Athabaska Pass.
The botanist, David Douglas, is remembered
principally because his name was given to the
Douglas fir. But he was also largely responsible for
the Brown and Hooker puzzle.
" David Douglas was a native of Scone, near
Perth, Scotland. His enthusiasm for plants
attracted the attention of Dr. William Jackson
Hooker, the eminent botanist, and Douglas acted
as his assistant for some time. When the Royal
Horticultural Society was looking for a man to send
on a botanical expedition to North America, Dr.
Hooker at once recommended Douglas. He went
first to the United States in 1823. The following
year he sailed from England on the Hudson's Bay
Company's ship William and Ann to the Columbia,
to make a further collection of plants on the Pacific
side of the continent.
m 126
On the Old Athabaska Trail
I He was received by Dr. John McLoughlin at
Fort Vancouver with characteristic kindness, and
threw himself with enthusiasm into a study of the
new and interesting flora of the valley of the
Columbia. He spent a good deal of his time among
the Indians, and seems to have got along very well
with them. In fact, he sometimes found their
hospitality embarrassing. On one occasion the
principal chief of the tribe insisted on providing
quarters for the botanist in his own lodge, ' but,'
says Douglas, j by reason of the immense number
of fleas and the great inconvenience suffered thereby,
I preferred to put up at my own camp on the shore of
the river.'
I Douglas's journal is perhaps rather dry reading
to anyone not interested in botany, but here and
there one comes across human touches that are not
without their appeal, sometimes to one's sympathy,
sometimes to one's sense of humour. Although a man
of rather poor physique, his enthusiasm for his work
made light of all obstacles, but could not always put
the same enthusiasm into his Indian guides. Announcing one morning that he intended to climb to the
summit of a mountain on the north side of the river,
his guide I became forthwith sick,' and sent his
younger brother as a substitute. The latter showed
so little interest in the expedition that Douglas
had to present him with all his provisions, except
four small biscuits and a little tea and sugar, as a
bribe.  They slept on the mountain without blankets, A Botanist in the Mountains
and the botanist returned the following day faint
and weak, but the happy possessor of a number of
new plants.
" A few days later he had the pleasure of spending
an evening with a fellow botanist. ' We sat and
talked over our several journeys, unconscious of
time, until the sun from behind the majestic hills
warned us that a new day had come.'
"It is not necessary to say anything more of
Douglas's experiences during the two years he spent
botanising on the Pacific slope. On March 20,
1827, he started overland with the annual express,
with Edward Ermatinger and seven men. Dr.
McLoughlin accompanied his guest some distance
up the river. Whether or not on this occasion the
famous chief factor travelled in state, as he enjoyed
doing, Douglas does not say, nor does he make any
mention of Mrs. McLoughlin. However, we know
from the journal of one of his contemporaries that
both Dr. McLoughlin and his wife found pleasure
in such harmless amusements. ' McLoughlin,' he
says, * and his suite would sometimes accompany
the brigades from Fort Vancouver in regal state,
for fifty or a hundred miles, when he would dismiss
them with his blessing and return to the fort. He
did not often travel, and seldom far, but on these
occasions he indulged his men rather than himself
in some little variety.
' It pleased Mrs. McLoughlin thus to break the
monotony of her fort life.   Upon a gaily caparisoned 128
On the Old Athabaska Trail
steed, with silver trappings and strings of bells on
bridle reins and saddle-skirt, sat the lady of Fort
Vancouver, herself arrayed in brilliant colours,
and wearing a smile which might cause to blush and
hang its head the broadest, warmest, and most
fragrant sunflower. By her side, also gorgeously
attired, rode her lord, king of the Columbia,
and every inch a king, attended by a train of
trappers, under a chief trader, each upon his best
"Douglas mentions that McLoughlin was much
concerned over the loss of his gun, which, it appears,
was the same one Alexander Mackenzie had carried
on both his expeditions, to the Arctic and the
| At noon on April 27th they had the satisfaction of landing at Boat Encampment. I How
familiar soever,' says Douglas, I high snowy mountains may have been to us where in such a case
we might be expected to lose that just notion of
their immense altitude, yet on beholding the grand
dividing ridge of the continent all that we have
seen before disappears from the mind and is forgotten, by the height, the sharp and indescribably
rugged peaks, the darkness of the rocks, the glacier
and eternal snow.'
" j The following morning,' says the botanist,
I having the whole of my journals, a tin box of
seeds, and a shirt or two tied up in a bundle, we
commenced our march across the mountains in an A Botanist in the Mountains
easterly direction, first entering a low, swampy
piece of ground about three miles long, knee-deep
in water and covered with rotten ice.'
I This day he was forced to put on his ' bear's-
paws,' or snow-shoes, the snow being from four to
seven feet deep. ' Much annoyed throughout the
day by their lacing or knotting becoming slack by
the wet, and, being little skilled in the use of them,
I was falling head over heels, sinking one leg,
stumbling with the other, they sometimes turning
backside foremost when they became entangled
in the thick brushwood. To-day is a scene of some
curiosity even to myself, and I can hardly imagine
what a stranger would think to see nine men, each
with his load on his back, his snow-shoes in his hand,
starting on a journey over such an inhospitable
country—one falling, a second helping him up, a
third lagging and far behind, a fourth resting and
smoking his pipe, and so on.'
" They had the same difficulty as those who had
gone before them in getting up Wood River.    Six
times they forded it on the twenty-ninth.     ) The
feet cannot with safety be lifted from the bottom,
but must be slided along—the moment the water
gets under the sole, over goes the person.    It is
necessary in very powerful currents to pass in a
body, the one supporting the other, in an oblique
direction. . . . On coming out of the water and
trotting along on the hoar frost we found it intensely
cold, and all our clothing that was wet immediately
It On the Old Athabaska Trail
became cased in ice; still withal no inconvenience
whatever was sustained.'
" On the last day of the month they began their
ascent of the Big Hill, or Grande Cote. ' The ravines
or gullies unmeasurable, and toward noon becoming
soft, sinking, ascending two steps and sometimes
sliding back three, the snow-shoes twisting and
throwing the weary traveller down (and I speak
as I feel) so feeble that he I must among the snow,
like a broken-down waggon-horse entangled in his
harnessing, weltering to rescue myself. Obliged
to camp at noon, two miles up the hill, all being
weary. . . . Find no fault with the food, glad of
anything. . . . Dreamed last night of beingin Regent
Street, London! Yet far distant.  Progressnine miles.'
" The following morning they reached the summit
and camped. ' After breakfast,' says Douglas,
' being well refreshed, I set out with the view of
ascending what appeared to be the highest peak
on the north or left-hand side [north reads west in
the original detailed journal]. The height from its
apparent base exceeds 6,000 feet, 17,000 feet above
the level of the sea. After passing over the lower
ridge of about 200 feet, by far the most difficult
and fatiguing part, on snow-shoes, there was a crust
on the snow, over which I walked with the greatest
ease. A few mosses and lichens were seen. At the
elevation of 4,800 feet vegetation no longer exists—
not so much as a lichen of any kind to be seen, 1,200
feet of eternal ice. BOAT ENCAMPMENT
Paul Kant
Paul Kane
/>. 130  A Botanist in the Mountains
tc t
The view from the summit is of that cast too
awful to afford pleasure—nothing as far as the eye
can reach in every direction but mountains towering
above each other, rugged beyond all description ; the
dazzling reflection from the snow, the heavenly
arena of the solid glacier, and the rainbow-like
tints of its shattered fragments, together with the
enormous icicles suspended from the perpendicular
rocks ; the majestic but terrible avalanche hurtling
down from the southerly exposed rocks producing a
crash, and groans through the distant valleys, only
equalled by an earthquake. Such gives us a sense
of the stupendous and wondrous works of the
I' This peak, the highest yet known in the
northern continent of America, I felt a sincere
pleasure in naming Mount Brown, in honour of
R. Brown, Esq., the illustrious botanist, no less
distinguished by the amiable qualities of his refined
mind. A little to the south is one nearly of the same
height, rising more into a sharp point, which I
named Mount Hooker, in honour of my early
patron the enlightened and learned Professor of
Botany in the University of Glasgow, Dr. Hooker,
to whose kindness I, in a great measure, owe my
success hitherto in fife, and I feel exceedingly glad
of an opportunity of recording a simple but sincere
token of my kindest regard for him and respect for
his profound talents.    I was not on this mountain.'
1 The ascent had taken him five hours, but he 132
On the Old Athabaska Trail
came down again in an hour and a quarter. \ Places
where the descent was gradual, I tied my shoes
together, making them carry me in turn as a sledge.
Sometimes I came down at one spell 500 to 700
feet in the space of one minute and a half.'
I The following morning they resumed their
journey. Douglas refers to the Committee's
Punchbowl. * This,' he says, ' is considered the
half-way house. We were glad the more laborious
and arduous part of the journey was done. The
little stream Athabaska, over which we conveniently stepped, soon assumed a considerable
size, and was dashed over cascades and formed
cauldrons of limestone and basalt seven miles below
the pass. . . . The difference of climate and of
soil, and the amazing difference of the variety and
size of vegetation, are truly astonishing ; one would
suppose he was in another hemisphere, the change
is so sudden and so great.'
" As they went on down the Whirlpool they
■i passed on the right a very high perpendicular
rock with a flat top, and three miles lower down
on the same side two higher ones, rising to peaks
about a mile apart at the base, with a high background which appears two-thirds glacier, and in the
valley or bosom of the three, columns and pillars
of ice running out in all the ramifications of the
Corinthian order. From the mouth of the valley of
this awesome spectacle a passage is seen more
like the crater of a volcano than anything else: A Botanist in the Mountains
stones of several tons weight are carried across the
valley by the force of the current during the summer
I The ' high perpendicular rock with a flat top'
was no doubt Mount Kane, and the two higher
peaks three miles lower down on the same side
would be Mount Evans and Mount Scott, while the
glacier was Scott Glacier.
I After leaving the Grand Batteur, Douglas went
ahead of his men and managed to get lost. As
luck would have it, just as the sun was creeping
behind a hill, and he was facing the unpleasant
prospect of having to go supperless and blanketless
to bed, he saw smoke curling up through the trees
about a mile to the eastward. When he got there
he found Jacques Cardinal camped with eight horses
he had brought up from Henry House for the use
of Douglas and his party.
" An hour later one of the men came up, and soon
after several shots were heard, signals from his party
to let him know where they were. He sent the
man on horseback to let them know that he had
arrived at the Moose Encampment.
" Old Cardinal gave Douglas a warm welcome,
and roasted for him a shoulder of mountain sheep,
which he found very fine. He had a pint copper
kettle patched in an ingenious manner, in which he
boiled a little of the meat for himself. This kettle
and his knife were all his cooking utensils. The
voyageur observed to Douglas that he had no spirits
' 134
On the Old Athabaska Trail
to offer him. Turning round and pointing to the
river, he said, ' This is my barrel, and it is always
" Douglas learned from the old man that Dr.
Richardson, the Arctic explorer, had arrived at
Cumberland House in February, that Captain
Franklin had met a ship in the North Sea (the
Arctic), and that Thomas Drummond, the botanist
of Franklin's expedition, had spent the previous
summer in the mountains, and had gone down to
Fort Edmonton.
" Shortly after daylight the following morning
Cardinal went with the horses and brought up
Douglas's men. They had breakfast, loaded their
packs—no doubt with a sigh of thanksgiving—on the
horses, and continued their journey. Crossing the
Athabaska at its junction with the Whirlpool, they
arrived at Rocky Mountain House (Henry House) at
half-past six in the evening, having made thirty-
four miles, according to Douglas's reckoning.
" On the morning of the fourth they embarked in
two birch-bark canoes and went rapidly down the
Athabaska. ' Arrived at Jasper House, three small
hovels on the left side of the river, at two o'clock.'
Here they remained until the following morning.
' Had some of the much-talked-of white fish for
supper, which I found good, although simply boiled
in water, eaten without sauce or seasoning, hunger
excepted, not so much as salt, afterwards drinking
the liquor in which it was boiled.' A Botanist in the Mountains
" In the evening Ermatinger found an old violin
at Jasper House, and, being something of a
performer, played for the voyageurs, while they
danced for several hours. | This,' comments
Douglas, j may serve to show how little they look
on hardship when past; only a few days ago and
they were as much depressed as they are now elated.'
" At daybreak they were off again down the river,
shooting one rapid after another. About eleven in
the morning they saw the last of the mountains.
Camped at sundown, having made ninety-three
miles. The next morning they ran into ice, and
had to go ashore until it moved downstream.
Continuous difficulty with ice forced them to camp
early, f Burnt my blanket and great toe at the fire
last night,' Douglas notes in his journal the following
morning. The same afternoon they reached Fort
Assiniboine, where they were received by Mr.
" It may be added that, on his way down to York
Factory, Douglas met Thomas Drummond at Carlton
House, and had an opportunity of examining his
' princely collection ' of botanical specimens ; found
Dr. Richardson at Cumberland House ; met Governor
Simpson at Norway House; travelled through Lake
Winnipeg with Sir John Franklin ; and spent a month
at the Red River Settlement as the guest of the
Governor, Donald McKenzie."
By the way, Douglas left two journals, and
in   what   has   been   said   above  I have followed
\\ 136
On the Old Athabaska Trail
sometimes one and sometimes the other. In
the more detailed journal there is a note about
Drummond that is not without its spice of humour.
Douglas had sent a lot of his specimens ahead
in charge of one of the fur-traders the previous
year, and had had a good deal of difficulty coming
down the Athabaska. Drummond happened to be
returning from the mountains at the same time, and
accompanied him. " Hope my box is safe," says
Douglas. "I do not relish a botanist coming in
contact with another's gleanings." Which, after all,
merely shows that a man may become an eminent
scientist and remain perfectly human.
" Edward Ermatinger also left a journal of this
same journey across the mountains, which may be
compared with that of Douglas. They started to
climb the Grande Cote, he says, through snow four
or five feet deep, travelling by short stages, and
experiencing a good deal of difficulty in finding and
keeping the trail. Camped a mile on the west side
of the summit.
" The following morning they continued their
journey at 3 a.m. in order to make the most of the
crust on the surface of the snow. Travelled seventeen miles before breakfast, at n a.m. Gave the
men a rest ' during the heat of the day.' The snow
was rapidly diminishing, and after they had passed
the Grand Batture they discarded their snow-shoes.
Camped at half-past six, a pretty good day's work.
Among other things, it had involved fording the A Botanist in the Mountains
river six times. Ermatinger sent a man forward to
meet the horses that were to be brought up from
Henry House. Found them at Campment d'Orignal.
Not a word here or elsewhere about Douglas.
I They were off again the next morning at three ;
reached Campment d'Orignal at seven, after
travelling five miles through very bad woods;
loaded the baggage on the horses, and pushed on to
the Grand Traverse, where they arrived about noon.
Fording the Athabaska, they continued their way to
Camp des Vaches, which they reached about three in
the afternoon. - The greater part, of the road
hither lies through thick woods much encumbered
with fallen timber.' Ice and snow thick on the banks
of the river. About 6 p.m. they arrived at Henry
House; and the following day ran down the river
in canoes to Jasper House.
I The following October Ermatinger travelled
through the pass, on his return journey from York
Factory to Fort Vancouver. He reached Jasper
House on the first of October, and found there three
men from the Columbia with a letter from J. W.
Dease dated at Boat Encampment. At this period
a good deal of leather was sent west through the
mountains, for use at the different trading-posts,
that commodity being scarce in New Caledonia.
We consequently find Ermatinger loading fifteen
packs of leather for transport through the Yellowhead. These packs, with the baggage and provisions,
were sent up the river by canoe, while the party 138
On the Old Athabaska Trail
proceeded on horseback. They had altogether fifty-
four horses.
" The first night they camped at Campment de
Cardinalle, above the upper lake, or Jasper Lake
as it is to-day. The hunters killed two moose near
the camp. The next day they reached Henry House,
where they split up into two parties, one going up
the Miette with the leather, and the other, under
Ermatinger, to the Columbia by way of Athabaska
Pass. Ermatinger's list of baggage sounds curious :
22 cassetetes (a kind of small trunk), 2 cases and
basket, i portmanteau, 8 bags pemmican, \ bale
portage straps, 2 kegs sugar biscuits, i bag flour, \
moose, beddings, etc. They camped on the banks
of the Athabaska, above the Campment des
" The next day they camped three or four miles
above the Campment d'Orignal, on the Whirlpool,
having found the trail much encumbered with fallen
timber. On the 7th they sent a man ahead to clear
the road, found the ground very swampy, and
camped near the height of land. * View of the
mountains very grand.'
" Ermatinger also refers briefly to his trip through
the pass, going east, in 1828. They set out about
the beginning of May, and had a very difficult time,
with rain and snow, getting up the Grande Cote.
Passed the summit, and pushed down the Whirlpool,
over deep snow, to Campment de Fusil, where they
had breakfast.   Met Cardinal, from Henry House, A Botanist in the Mountains
at the Grand Batture, with fourteen horses. Camped
at Campment d'Orignal.
" The next day they had breakfast at the mouth
of the Whirlpool, and reached Henry House at 5 p.m.
The men set about repairing the canoes, and they
arrived at Jasper House the following evening."
the brown and hooker puzzle
I You remember," I said to the Warden, " those
peaks up at the summit ? "
"Yes,"  he  replied;   "Brown  and  Hooker."
" That's all very fine," I retorted. " There are
a number of peaks in the neighbourhood of the
Committee's Punchbowl, but which is Brown and
which is Hooker ? "
" Why," said the Warden, " I thought Brown was
the old fellow on the west side of the Punchbowl, and
Hooker the one on the east side."
" So did a good many of us, but quite a lively
little controversy has raged about the question for
years, growing originally out of the earlier problem
as to the height of these mountains.
" Douglas, you will recollect, says that he climbed
a mountain on the north side, which he named
Mount Brown, and that a little to the south was one
nearly of the same height, which he named Mount
Hooker. As I said before, there are two Douglas
journals for this trip. The one I quoted was a
condensed journal, evidently written after his return
to England. His original detailed journal, entered
up at the time, says that the mountain he ascended
was ' on the left hand or west side.'   ' North ' and
140 The Brown and Hooker Puzzle
'south' in the later journal should therefore read
; west' and f east.' As Douglas's original journal is
the final court of appeal so far as he is concerned, it
is interesting to know that in it he says nothing
about naming either peak, the height 17,000 feet is
not given, nor, in fact, is any mountain specifically
mentioned except the one he climbed. All that he
says of the other peaks is this : ' Nothing, as far as
the eye could perceive, but mountains such as I was
on, and many higher.' Both names and height
were an after-thought.
I For years after Douglas's journey two formidable
peaks were shown on the maps, on either side of
Athabaska Pass—Mount Brown, 16,000 feet, and
Mount Hooker, 15,700 feet. Even so very careful
a scientist as George M. Dawson, in his Preliminary
Report on the Rocky Mountains, 1886, says, jj The
culminating point of the Rocky Mountains is doubtless to be found about the 52nd parallel of north
latitude, or between this and the 53rd parallel, where
Mounts Brown and Murchison occur, with reputed
altitudes of 16,000 and 13,500 feet respectively,
and Mount Hooker, also reported to be very
lofty.'   '    '|j . I
" In 1893 Professor A. P. Coleman, of the University of Toronto, made a determined effort to find
the two famous peaks, upon the strength of which
Canadians had for many years been in the habit of
claiming possession of the two highest mountains in
the Rockies.   The story of his journey is found in 142
On the Old Athabaska Trail
his Canadian Rockies, a very entertaining and
instructive book.
" He reached the Athabaska by a long and difficult
trip up through the heart of the Rockies from
Morley, near Banff. After some little difficulty he
found the mouth of the Whirlpool, and started up
the valley. I We were,' he says, ' surprised to find
the old fur-traders' trail so well cut out and with
such frequent blazes. It had, no doubt, been
freshened up by the early C.P.R. survey parties,
though Indians must have used it later.' Coleman
managed to wrench his knee in a bad bit of trail, and
suffered severely throughout the remainder of the
journey. They camped on the flats in front of
Scott Glacier.
" They were now five days from the Athabaska,
and expected to make their next camp at the summit.
' I climbed on my horse, ready for the start, keen to
see the giants Brown and Hooker, which should loom
up just round the bend of the valley ahead.' It
sounds familiar to see Coleman's note \ the " bulldogs " and buffalo-flies drove the horses frantic,'
and later, ' sand-flies and black flies had now joined
forces with the other tormentors.'
" Early in the afternoon they reached the Committee's Punchbowl. ' Some of the maps make the
Punchbowl a lake ten miles long, but here in real
life it was only a small pool less than two hundred
yards long.' But, \ if this was the Punchbowl,
where were the giant mountains Brown and Hooker ? The Brown and Hooker Puzzle
We looked in vain for magnificent summits rising ten
thousand feet above the pass, one on each side.'
They had reached their destination after six weeks
of toil and anxiety, and could not even raise a cheer.
j Mount Brown and Mount Hooker were frauds, and
we were disgusted at having been humbugged
by them.'
I They stayed five days in their camp at the
summit. Coleman was too lame to climb, and
j loafed about the camp and fought the pestilent
fli6s that made life a burden.' He had a large
population of marmots for neighbours, but saw few
of them, although whenever a dead tree was cut
down for firewood there was a horrified chorus of
whistles. Thunder-storms were frequent, and the
grey waters of the Punchbowl suggested nothing
convivial, j Who were the Committee, and why did
they need so large a Punchbowl on this desolate
mountain pass ? Even Highland Scotch fur-traders
could hardly have done much carousing on Athabaska
Pass.' One can understand Coleman's pessimism,
under all the circumstances.
I The second day his companions climbed Mount
Brown, and reported it an easy ascent. The height
was found to be 9,050 feet. The Inter-provincial
Boundary Survey has since found it to be 9,156 feet.
It was clear that this must be Mount Brown—the
giant shrunken to a dwarf. The question of Mount
Hooker was less certain. Two of the party had also
climbed a ridge-like mountain on the opposite side
II 144
On the Old Athabaska Trail
of the pass—M'Gillivray's Rock, or M'Gillivray's
Ridge as it appears on the survey maps—at the point
where Hooker is indicated on Palliser's map ; but I a
much higher, finer peak rises a few miles east of the
Punchbowl, with fields of snow and a large glacier,
and was estimated at about eleven thousand feet.
11 There was no object in waiting longer on
Athabaska Pass, and we turned our steps down
Whirlpool River on the way home, quite unelated,
though we had been completely successful on our
third attempt to reach Mounts Brown and Hooker.
What had gone wrong with these two mighty peaks
that they should suddenly shrink seven thousand
feet in altitude ? And how could anyone, even a
botanist like Douglas, make so monumental a
blunder ?
11 We asked ourselves all sorts of questions, and
got no answers that satisfied us, as we made our
way down the valley to the Athabaska. That
two commonplace mountains, lower by two thousand
or three thousand feet than some of their neighbours
to the south-east, should masquerade for generations as the highest points in North America seems
absurd ; and it is not surprising that Dr. Collie, ten
years later, should wonder if we had not reached
the wrong pass, and should make a new search for
these high mountains.'
" Three years later, or in 1896, Walter D. Wilcox,
like Coleman, an enthusiastic climber in the Canadian
Rockies, made an attempt to solve the Brown and The Brown and Hooker Puzzle
Hooker puzzle. The particulars are found in his
Rockies of Canada. He tried a new route by way of
the Bow River, the Little and North Forks of the
Saskatchewan, and a problematical pass to the
Whirlpool. R. L. Barrett accompanied him, and
that veteran packer and fine companion Fred
Stephens helped to look after the outfit.
I Bush fires and other obstacles made the journey
a difficult and trying one, though there were many
compensations, j The sound of mountain streams
falling in cascades, the picturesque train of horses,
each animal cautiously picking a safe passage along
the rocky highway; the splendid trees around us,
our great height, and the tremendous grandeur of
the mountain scenery, all helped to make our
surroundings most enjoyable.'
I Finally, after a good deal of search, they found
a practicable pass between the Saskatchewan and
the Athabaska, and came down to the flat, gravel
beds of the Sun Wapta River, which they followed
for six days, and at last got a distant view of the
Athabaska.    Finally they reached the lake which
Coleman had named Fortress Lake, on the British
Columbia side of the range.    They were now at no
great distance from Athabaska Pass, and hunted
eagerly  for  evidence  of  the  two  mighty  peaks.
Climbing a near-by mountain, Wilcox saw about ten
miles to the south-west ■ what appeared to be by
far the highest and finest peak that I had seen on
the entire journey.    It was a wedge-shaped peak
Kt 146
On the Old Athabaska Trail
rising from a very long and precipitous wall of rock,
which seemed to be over ten thousand feet high.'
This he thought must be Mount Hooker.
I They built a raft and floated down Fortress
Lake to the other end; and, descending Wood
River, got a magnificent view of the supposed
Mount Hooker, but all their observations only
confirmed the view that its altitude was not much
over ten thousand feet. A rapidly diminishing
food supply forced them to turn back, leaving the
Brown and Hooker problem just about where it
had been before.
I In 1897 J. Norman Collie, while climbing Mount
Freshfield, saw far to the north-west, perhaps thirty
miles, a magnificent snow-covered mountain, its
western face a precipice, j From the way it towered
above its neighbours it seemed to be excessively
high. Although the great peak Mount Forbes from
this point also overtopped all the surrounding peaks
by many hundreds of feet, yet this other giant far
away to the north-west was of much greater interest,
for there were only two peaks of that size, and so
far north, marked on the maps. These were Brown
and Hooker, reputed to be 16,000 and 15,700 feet high.'
"See how hard it is to kill an idea that has
taken root! At any rate, the glimpse he got of
this mysterious peak, and the possibility that it
might prove to be one or other of the elusive giants,
was potent enough to bring Professor Collie out again
to the Rockies the following year.   With him came The Brown and Hooker Puzzle
Hugh E. M. Stutfield, another veteran traveller
and mountain-climber. Their experiences in the
Rockies are told in Climbs and Explorations in the
Canadian Rockies.
I At the outset they were faced with this situation.
They, of course, knew the results of Coleman's
journey. If they accepted without question his
negative conclusions, it was idle to waste any more
time hunting for Brown and Hooker. On the
other hand, there was the very high mountain
seen by Collie from Freshfield. To assume that
this was either Brown or Hooker entailed one of two
suppositions : j either that Professor Coleman had
been mistaken as to the mountain climbed by the
members of his party; or else that the botanist
Douglas, who named the peaks, and David Thompson, who estimated their heights at 16,000 and 15,700
feet, had traversed a different Athabaska Pass
from the one that now bears the name, and which
Professor Coleman undoubtedly visited.
" The first alternative seemed impossible; the
second was the less improbable of the two, as it was
difficult to understand how Douglas and Thompson,
scientists both of them, could have made such
glaring errors as to the altitude of these mountains.
That peaks which had appeared in every map of
Canada for the past sixty years as the loftiest in the
Dominion, and which most Canadians still believed
in as in their Bibles—that these peaks were not, after
all, so high as thousands of others in the main range, On the Old Athabaska Trail
seemed almost incredible. ... It may be mentioned
that some travellers from Edmonton, who visited the
Athabaska Pass in the spring of 1898, asserted
that they had seen Mount Brown and Mount Hooker
standing there in their old pride of place, and they
scouted the idea of their being frauds. Altogether
there seemed enough doubt about the matter to
make further investigation desirable.'
IA misconception that strikes one here—and
the same idea appears to have been more or less
in the minds of both Coleman and Wilcox—is that
Douglas and Thompson had made glaring errors
as to the altitude of Bnywn and Hooker. Is that a
necessary assumption ? Douglas says of the peak
he named Brown, I the height from its base may be
5,500 feet.' The glaring error was not in the
altitude of the mountain, but in the altitude of the
pass, which in his condensed journal Douglas gives
as between 10,000 and 11,000 feet. The actual
elevation of the summit is 5,737 feet. Thompson
made the same mistake in over-estimating the height
of the pass above sea-level.
I The route of Collie and Stutfield was from
Laggan to the upper Saskatchewan, by way of
Pipestone and Siffleur Creeks. Collie climbed Mount
Athabaska, and got from the summit what he
thought was new light on the Brown and Hooker
conundrum. A little to the north of a peak which
they named Mount Bruce, and directly to the
westward of Athabaska, rose what appeared to be   The Brown and Hooker Puzzle
the highest summit in that region of the Rocky
Mountains. * Chisel-shaped at the head, covered
with glaciers and snow, it also stood alone, and
I at once recognised the great peak I was in search of;
moreover, a short distance to the north-east of this
mountain another, almost as high, also flat-topped,
but ringed around with sheer precipices, reared its
head into the sky above all its fellows. At once I
concluded that these might be the two lost
mountains, Brown and Hooker.' Subsequent investigation proved that one of these peaks was
Mount Columbia, and the other a new peak they
named Mount Alberta. By the way, Professor
Collie, with more charity for the renowned botanist
than has been shown by some other people, named
a new peak Mount Douglas.
" After his return to England Professor Collie
made a further study of Douglas's journey, and
convinced himself that Professor Coleman had
solved the problem, at least so far as the identity of
Mount Brown was concerned, and the non-existence
of any peaks of the altitudes suggested by Douglas.
I These two fabulous Titans, therefore, which for
nearly seventy years have been masquerading as
the monarchs of the Canadian Rockies, must now
be finally deposed.'
" In the summer of 1913 Geoffrey E. Howard
and A. L. Mumm made an expedition up the
Whirlpool to the Punchbowl. Fred Stephens, who
had looked after the outfits for both Wilcox and
w. 150
On the Old Athabaska Trail
Collie, was also on this expedition. The travellers
picked up at Jasper any information they could
as to the route, but this was somewhat meagre.
' Old Swift himself, that prince of pioneers, who has
lived hereabouts for seventeen years, had much to
tell us at second hand of those colossal giants, Brown
and Hooker, at the headwaters of the Whirlpool;
and indeed to information of every variety there
was no end.' The net result was to leave them
thoroughly bewildered, wondering if Coleman had
only dreamed that he had been at Athabaska Pass,
or had been bewitched when he was there. In
any event, they would also have a look at the
Committee's Punchbowl and the more or less
impressive peaks that surrounded it.
" Someone had said that the trail up the Whirlpool could best be described as a boulevard. Unfortunately it did not live up to its expectations.
Time and again they had to cut their way through
a welter of tangled timber. However, the weather
on the whole might have been worse, and they had
comfortable camps. ' Soon we were gathered round
the fire in the teepee, and where in the world can
one feel such a sense of cosiness, comfort, and well-
being, find such good company, hear such fascinating
yarns, or smell such delicious odours of cooking
or of fragrant pine-smoke as in a teepee in the
Rockies on a still night when the fire draws well and
the river makes music outside ?'
| The trip up to the summit was uneventful.   At The Brown and Hooker Puzzle
one place among muskegs they were greatly
interested to find remains of corduroy, which convinced them that they were more or less following
the old prospector's trail of the Canadian Pacific
surveys, along which stores were brought over from
British Columbia. Climbing one of the hills, they
saw, or thought they saw, a gigantic peak appearing and vanishing behind the clouds. ' I will confess,' says Howard, j that for a few dizzy hours I
harboured a fantastic idea that perhaps Douglas
had been right in his estimate of the size of the
mountains hereabouts. Still, I knew in my heart
that it must be a fantasy, for Coleman is not a man
given to making mistakes.'
| Another climb, with the clouds flying high,
revealed a wonderful panorama of peaks and snow-
fields, Ross Cox, Scott, Evans, and Kane, with the
fine peak that has since been named Mount Hooker,
and the several icefields and glaciers that lie between.
' It was a thrilling moment, as we realised that in
all probability no human eye had ever rested on
many of these glorious peaks.'
" On the trail they found an interesting blaze,
with the following initials and date :
Oct. 20
is 152
On the Old Athabaska Trail
| This was a relic of one of the annual brigades
of the Hudson's Bay Company, in the time of Sir
George Simpson, and each of the initials but one
was afterwards identified. 'J.M.' was James
Murray, \ W.C was William Calder, and ' H.A.T.'
was Henry A. Tuzo, gold medallist of McGill University, who went overland in 1853, became a
physician at the coast, and was father of Mrs. J. A.
Wilson of Ottawa, the well-known mountain-climber,
after whom Mount Tuzo was named.
I About this time Mr. Howard found it necessary
to turn back, and Mr. Mumm completed the journey
to the summit. He got up to the snout of the Scott
Glacier, but a change of weather forced him to
retreat. The following day he camped beside the
" I Then,' says Mumm, jcame one of my red-letter
days. As all the world knows, Mt. Brown, whatever it may have been in the past, is now only 9,000
feet high, but, as a viewpoint, it would be hard to
say too much in its praise. There was not a cloud
in the sky, and the atmosphere, as often happens
when a solitary fine day occurs in the middle of
broken weather, was almost uncannily clear. We
spent fully three and a half hours on the summit,
trying to absorb the details of a very wonderful
panorama. . . . Immediately north of us was a
peak almost the same height as Mt. Brown.'
" Descending the valley two days later, Mr. Mumm
had a good view of Mount Brown and the adjoining The Brown and Hooker Puzzle
peak last mentioned. ' It would be hard to find,'
says Mumm, I another pair of mountains rising
side by side which resemble each other so closely.
They are as like as Tweedledum and Tweedledee,
and the resemblance suggested to me a solution
which has not, I think, been put forward before
of the hitherto unanswered question, where is Mt.
Hooker? Why should not these mountains be
Mount Brown and Mount Hooker? It has always
been taken for granted that they must be on opposite
sides of the pass, but there is not a word to warrant
this assumption in Douglas's narrative. The only
statement he makes that has any topographical
significance is the following : I A little to the southward (of his Mount Brown) is one nearly the same
height, rising into a sharper point; this I named
Mount Hooker.
" \ It is difficult to put an intelligible interpretation
on these words except on one hypothesis, namely
that Douglas went up the northern peak and called
it Mount Brown, and that Dr. Coleman's Mount
Brown is Douglas's Mount Hooker. ... If Douglas
was not something of a mountaineer—in fact, a
good deal more of a mountaineer than was common
in his time—I very much doubt if he would have
found his way to the top of Dr. Coleman's Mount
Brown alone.'
" Now here, surely, is something more complicated
than a cross-word puzzle. First we had Douglas's
Mount Brown, then we had Coleman's Mount Brown; 154
On the Old Athabaska Trail
and now, I submit, we have Mumm's Mount Brown ;
for if Mumm argues that the peak Coleman's party
climbed was not the peak Douglas climbed, why
should not you or I argue with as much reasonableness that the peak Mumm climbed was neither?
As a matter of fact, there is nothing in Coleman's
narrative to suggest what particular mountain his
friends climbed, but he does make the quite positive
statement ' That the right mountain was climbed
is certain, since there is no other even as high
within ten miles on the north-west side of the
| In the 1918 volume of the Canadian Alpine
Journal, Mr. E. W. D. Holway attempted the
difficult task of throwing I New Light on Mounts
Brown and Hooker.' Mr. Holway, so that all the
evidence may be before his readers, quotes first an
article in the Companion to the Botanical Magazine
of 1836, purporting to give extracts from Douglas's
journal, then the journal itself in its summarised
form, and finally the detailed journal, all descriptive
of the ascent of Mount Brown. He then gives the
following extract from Greenhow's Memoir, 1840 :
n <
The highest points in the Rocky Mountains
and probably in North America, if not in the
whole western continent, are those about the
52nd degree of latitude near the northernmost
sources of the Columbia River. Mr. Thompson,
the astronomer of the Hudson's Bay Trading The Brown and Hooker Puzzle
Company, has measured several of these peaks,
of which one, called Mt. Brown, is estimated by
him at sixteen thousand feet, and another, Mt.
Hooker, at fifteen thousand seven hundred feet.
It has been stated that the same gentleman has
recently found other points farther north which he
considers to be more than 10,000 feet higher
than either of those mentioned.'
I And finally he offers this significant quotation
from the journals of David Thompson, under date
March 10th, 1809. \ At the greatest elevation of the
passage across the mountains by the Athabaska
River the point by boiling water gave 11,000 feet,
and the peaks are full 7,000 feet above this passage ;
and the general height may be fairly taken at 18,000
feet above the Pacific Ocean.'
I The earliest map, according to Mr. Holway,
giving Mount Brown and Mount Hooker, with the
elevations of 16,000 and 15,700 feet, is that issued
in October, 1829, with the first part of Hooker's
Flora Boreali-Americana. Douglas, it appears,
superintended the preparation of this map.
" To these interesting particulars brought together
by Mr. Holway, Mr. James White adds a Supplementary Note. He seizes upon the fact that the
critical point in the whole controversy is the overestimate of the elevation of Athabaska Pass. He
quotes from Thompson's original notes of January
10th, 1811, the day he crossed Athabaska Pass,
w On the Old Athabaska Trail
to show that they contain no reference to the elevation of the pass, and says, f It is evident that Thompson added the elevation in 1849, when writing his
Narrative for publication. Taken in conjunction
with the bracketed note, we have almost a demonstration that Thompson obtained the estimated
altitude of 11,000 feet from Simpson.' He thinks
it probable that Douglas also got his figures from
Simpson at Norway House on his return journey,
though I there is a possibility that it was generally
accepted as correct by the officers of the Hudson's
Bay Company and North West Company.'
I' The surprising feature above Douglas's statement,' he adds, ' is that, as a trained botanist, he
must have been informed respecting the tree limit
in other parts of the world. Yet he says that the
timber-line is 2,750 feet above Athabaska Pass.
Therefore he accepts the result, namely, that in
latitude 520 27' the tree limit is 13,750 feet above
the sea! In the light of experience elsewhere, how
could Douglas accept without question this extraordinary conclusion ? '
Mr. White suggests that too much reliance need
not be placed upon Greenhow's Memoir. As the
passage quoted from that work is inaccurate in
several particulars, there is reason to believe that
the main statement, that the information was drawn
from Thompson, is also inaccurate. Mr. White is
of the opinion that Greenhow got his facts from
Douglas's Memoir, The Brown and Hooker Puzzle
" Finally, Mr. Arthur O. Wheeler struggles with
the problem, in an article in the 1921-22 volume of
the Canadian Alpine Journal. He is not concerned
about Mount Brown, apparently accepting the peak
climbed by Coleman's party as the same named by
Douglas, but devotes himself to the identification of
Mount Hooker. His conclusion is that the high peak
a few miles east of the Punchbowl, referred to by
Coleman, is Douglas's Mount Hooker. The Inter-
provincial Boundary Survey surveyed the pass in
1920, and the Topographical Division of the survey
subsequently made a report to the Geographic
Board of Canada on the positions and altitudes of
Mounts Brown and Hooker. The Board accepted
the view that the high peak referred to above was
Mount Hooker.
" In a synopsis of this report, Mr. Wheeler says:
\ On a bearing 180 north of east lies a peak, rising
into a sharp point, which is distant approximately
six miles from the summit of Mt. Brown and which
has an altitude of 10,782 feet, or 1,626 feet more than
that of Mt. Brown. It seems most likely that this
is the mountain Douglas refers to as Hooker. From
the vicinity of Fortress Lake this mountain peak
stands up in a sharp white cone. It is not
conceivable that the long, evenly crested ridge rising
directly above the Punchbowl from Athabaska Pass
summit has anything to do with the question. It
was therefore recommended to the Geographic Board
that the 10,782-foot peak about six miles easterly 158
On the Old Athabaska Trail
from Mt. Brown be confirmed as Mt. Hooker, which
has been done.'
11 suppose it argues a great deal of stupidity, but
I find it difficult to appreciate the force of the
evidence upon which this particular peak was
recognised as the one named Hooker by Douglas.
Why does it ' seem most likely that this is the
mountain Douglas refers to as Hooker ' ? And what
has the vicinity of Fortress Lake got to do with the
question ? Douglas was nowhere near Fortress
Lake. Also why is it | not conceivable that the long,
evenly crested ridge rising directly above the Punchbowl from Athabaska Pass summit has anything to
do with the question ' " ?
I You can search me," said the Warden. " Which
is the long, evenly crested ridge ? It doesn't sound
§ It is our old friend M'Gillivray's Rock. From
where you saw it beside the Punchbowl, it doesn't
look remotely like a long, evenly crested ridge.
We've had a good deal about Brown and Hooker,
but I feel stimulated by Mr. Wheeler's rather positive
statements to add my mite to the general confusion.
" Suppose we get back to Douglas's original
journal. j After breakfast,' he says, ' being, as I
conceive, on the highest part of the route, I became
desirous of ascending one of the peaks, and accordingly I set out alone on snow-shoes to that on the
left hand or west side.' Douglas at that moment
stood somewhere about where we were  camped The Brown and Hooker Puzzle
beside the Punchbowl. From where he stood the
two dominating peaks were, the one he was about
to climb, Mount Brown, and the peak that towered immediately above him on the other side, known to the fur-
traders, but probably not to him, as M'Gillivray's Rock.
" He does not say definitely in his original journal
that he reached the summit of Mount Brown, but
we may assume that he did. From there he saw
' nothing, as far as the eye could perceive, but mountains such as I was on, and many higher.' In this
journal he says nothing about any other particular
mountain ; but in his summary journal, prepared
after his return to England, he says, ' a little to the
south is one nearly of the same height, rising more
into a sharp point, which I named Mount Hooker.'
As a matter of fact M'Gillivray's Rock is just 376
feet lower than the summit of Mount Brown. As I
noted before, Douglas's north in the summary reads
west in the original, and we are justified in changing
his south in the summary to east, M'Gillivray's Rock
is 'a little to the east,' and it is also 'nearly of the
same height.' He had seen many higher mountains
from the top of Mount Brown, but the one he named
Mount Hooker was * nearly of the same height.'
" I think we may assume that Douglas wrote
up his journal, not on the summit of Mount Brown,
but in his camp near the Punchbowl. From that
camp, may I repeat, he would be dominated by
two quite definite peaks, the one he had climbed
and the immense rock that towered above him to i6q
On the Old Athabaska Trail
the right. That mountain, which Mr. Wheeler
brushes aside so contemptuously, had made quite
a different impression on other travellers who had
camped beside the Punchbowl. Franchere described
it as an icy peak like a fortress of rock, that rose
perpendicularly above the lake. Ross Cox speaks
of it as a gigantic mountain of a conical form that
towered majestically into the clouds far above the
others. These men had travelled through a region
of magnificent scenery, but were nevertheless impressed with the majestic appearance of M'Gillivray's Rock. The very fact that this alone of all
the mountains about the pass had been named by
the fur-traders, is sufficient evidence of the effect it
had upon them. Is it so unlikely that Douglas
would also have felt the influence, in that particular
environment, of this dominating mountain ?
I One other point. Douglas says of the mountain
he named Hooker, f1 was not on this mountain.'
He might be expected to say this of M'Gillivray's
Rock. Is it conceivable that he would have said
it of a peak so situated that he would not have
dreamed of climbing it ?
| With all due deference to Mr. Wheeler and the
Inter-provincial Boundary Survey and the Geographic
Board, I venture to believe that the two mountains
David Douglas had in mind when he named Brown
and Hooker were the two peaks of almost equal
size that stand nearest to the Committee's Punchbowl on either side." The Brown and Hooker Puzzle
I And I second the motion," said the Warden.
I What do you say to lunch ? "
I By all means," he replied. 1 After that excessively dry and involved argument about Brown and
Hooker, I think we both need some nourishment."
We wandered back to the cabin, cooked as good
a meal as our limited choice would now warrant,
saw that the horses were behaving themselves,
and then, with our trusty pipes, walked up the trail
for a mile or two to see a mountain goat-track the
Warden had been told about.
I thought it might be a little difficult to find, but
when we came to it was astonished to find it much
more deeply marked than the long-travelled park
trail we were on. The goat-trail came down from
the mountains, crossed our own at right angles, and
ran down to an immense salt-lick on the banks of
the Athabaska. There must have been several
acres of the river-bank that mountain goats, mountain sheep, and other animals had frequented for
countless generations. Their deeply indented trails
ran in every direction, and one could pick handfuls
of wool from the bushes that grew along their tracks.
As one had a wonderful view across the valley
of the Athabaska to a range that sprang up into
splendidly jagged peaks, and there was a chance—
unfortunately not realised—of seeing some of the
goats,  we  decided to  spend the  afternoon here,
and, until more interesting events should happen,
I went on with my tale.
I On the west side of Jasper Lake is a big peak
named Roche De Smet, and the range of which it
forms a part bears the same name. The man after
whom these mountains are named was not only a
very self-sacrificing and devoted missionary, but he
was also a notable traveller, and had the gift of
describing what he had seen with artless and delightful simplicity, and sometimes with a good deal of
gentle humour. He wrote long letters to his Superior,
and these were some years ago gathered together
and published in book form.
| De Smet's missionary labours were carried out
on both sides of the mountains, and at one time
or another he had been over several of the passes.
In 1846 he came east through one of the passes near
the International Boundary, travelled north through
the country of the Blackfeet, and by way of Fort
Assiniboine reached the Athabaska, returning to the
Columbia by Athabaska Pass.
His letters are full of interesting anecdotes, his
own amusing misadventures as a traveller, character
sketches of fur-traders, Indian legends, and incidents
in the life of the various tribes with which he came In the Footsteps of De Smet
into contact. Passing a beaver-lodge, he is reminded of a Flathead legend, j The Flatheads,'
he says, \ affirm that the porcupine and beaver are
brothers, and relate that anciently they abode together, but that, having frequently been discovered
by their enemies through the indolence, idleness,
and extreme aversion of the porcupines for the
water, the beavers met in council and unanimously
agreed upon a separation. The latter availed themselves of a fine day and invited their spiny brethren
to accompany them in a long ramble among the
cypress and juniper of the forest. The indolent
and heedless porcupines, having copiously regaled
themselves with the savoury buds of the one and the
tender rind of the other, extended their weary limbs
upon the verdant moss and were soon lost in profound sleep. This was the anticipated moment for
the wily beavers to bid a final adieu to their porcupine
" De Smet has a good deal to say about that
very interesting confederacy the Blackfeet, whom
it had long been his ambition to convert to Christianity. Sometimes he ran across singular characters
among them. On one occasion he was addressing a
gathering of Blackfeet through an interpreter, as
he had not yet acquired their language. The
Blackfeet sat on the side of a hill, the chiefs on the
ridge, and the common crowd below. When he had
ended, one of the chiefs came down to shake hands
with him, saluting him in very good English, but On the Old Athabaska Trail
with an intonation that seemed curiously familiar.
* These people,' said the chief, \ are deeply interested
in what you have to tell them, but your interpreter
has not put it before them in the right way.' \ But
you, sir, where did you learn English ? ' asked De
Smet. * In Ireland, faith,' replied the Blackfoot
I On another occasion, when he was resting in
the lodge of a Blackfoot chief, a chief of the Nez
Perc6 tribe entered accompanied by three Blackfeet,
a warrior, an interpreter, and a young man about
twenty years of age. It appeared that this youth,
when not more than a year old, had lost both his
parents. His mother, a captive among the Blackfeet, died in the first years of her captivity. His
father, whose country was far distant from the
Blackfeet, was altogether lost to him. The poor
orphan became the adopted son of a Blackfoot
woman, who brought him up as one of her own
" The adopted son grew up as a Blackfoot,
familiar only with the manners and customs of his
new friends, knowing no relations but those about
him. On this day the woman whom he believed to
be his own mother had declared to him that she was
not. She told him what had become of his mother.
As she followed him into the lodge, he said, j And
who is my father ? ' ' There,' replied the woman,
pointing to the Nez Perc6 chief.
The father sprang up in amazement, but his In the Footsteps of De Smet
doubts were soon removed as he hastily stripped the
young man's garments from his back and discovered
the mark of a burn that he had received when he
was still an infant.
" De Smet was impressed with the burst of feeling
drawn from these usually undemonstrative Indians
at the unexpected meeting. The chief had no
grown children, and urged his son to return with
him to his native country, offering him at the same
time one of the best and most beautiful of his
horses.    De Smet added his entreaties.
" The son, torn between his duty to his father and
love for his adopted mother, hesitated. There were
also the companions and friends of his youth, some
of whom were absent. How could he leave them
all, to go off to an unfamiliar land and an unfamiliar
people? Yet these were his own people. Finally
he said, \ Give me time to see a little more of her
who has watched over me for so many years and
whom I have always looked upon as my mother,
and permit me also to bid farewell to my companions
and friends.   After that I shall follow my father.'
" De Smet travelled north through much the
same country that Thompson had found so inhospitable thirty-six years earlier. And, although
he made his journey at a different season, he found it
almost equally inhospitable. He was not much of
a horseman, and, with his thoughts on other things
than the trail, sometimes got into trouble. Here
is his entertaining account of one encounter with i66
On the Old Athabaska Trail
an unfriendly branch. ' The path,' he says, ' conducted us through a thick forest of cypress ; I am
told this is the last—Deo Gratias ! These belts of
tall firs are very numerous, and form great obstacles
and barriers to land communications between the
east and west of the mountains. I have a little
word of advice to give all who wish to visit these
latitudes. At the entrance of each thick forest one
should render himself as slender, as short, and as
contracted as possible, imitating the different evolutions of all encounters of an intoxicated cavalier,
but with skill and presence of mind. I mean to
say, he should know how to balance himself—cling
to the saddle in every form, to avoid the numerous
branches that intercept his passage, ever ready to
tear him into pieces, and flay his face and hands.
" ■ Notwithstanding these precautions, it is rare
to escape without paying tribute in some manner
to the ungracious forest. I one day found myself
in a singular and critical position. In attempting
to pass under a tree that inclined across the path, I
perceived a small branch in the form of a hook,
which threatened me. The first impulse was to
extend myself upon the neck of my horse. Unavailing precaution I It caught me by the collar
of my surtout, the horse still continuing his pace.
Behold me suspended in the air—struggling like a
fish at the end of a hook. Several respectable pieces
of my coat floated, in all probability, a long time in
the forest, as an undeniable proof of my having paid mil
:-- ; - ',-??$} -■:;
[p. 166  In the Footsteps of De Smet
toll in passing through it. A crushed and torn hat,
an eye black and blue, two deep scratches on the
cheek would in a civilised country have given me
the appearance rather of a bully issuing from the
Black Forest than of a missionary.'
I In due course he arrived at Fort Assiniboine,
built in a meadow near -the banks of the Athabaska.
I In the spring,' says De Smet, J the river can be
descended in three days from Jasper to Assiniboine,
a distance of more than three hundred miles.'
Travelling with dog-sleds up the river, they were
nine days in making the trip. He refers to Lake
Jasper, evidently meaning what is to-day known as
Brule Lake, and describes Jasper House as being
on the second lake f twenty miles higher,' the
second lake being what we know now as Jasper
Lake. \ The rivers Violin and Medicine on the
southern side, and the Assiniboine on the northern,
must be crossed, and to reach the height of land at the
Committee's Punchbowl we cross the rivers Maligne,
Gens du Colets, Miette, and Trou, which we ascended
to its source.' The Violin is, of course, the present
Fiddle Creek, and the Medicine probably Rocky
River. The Assiniboine is perhaps Snaring River;
the Gens du Colets may be the upper waters of the
Athabaska above the junction with the Miette,
and the Trou is obviously the Whirlpool.
gt I On the shore of Lake Jasper De Smet met an old
Iroquois called Louis Kwaragwante, or Walking
Sun, accompanied by his family, thirty-six in number.
I i68
On the Old Athabaska Trail
This reminds me—I do not quite know why—
of a story that De Smet tells somewhere of an
enterprising woman of the South Seas who had had
nine husbands, and had eaten three of them in times
of famine.
" De Smet in his narrative tells how Roche De
Smet got its name. The Indians at Jasper House,
it appears, had determined to honour the missionary
in this way. ' Each one discharged his musket in
the direction of the highest mountain, a large rock
jutting out in the form of a sugar-loaf, and, with
three loud hurrahs, gave it my name.'
" Colin Fraser was at that time in charge of
Jasper House. This is the same Colin Fraser who
travelled across the continent with Governor Simpson
in 1828. Archibald McDonald, in his narrative of
that journey, says of him, ' This decent young man
is lately from the Highlands, and on this voyage
accompanies the Governor in the double capacity
of piper and assistant servant.' Colin seems to have
lost no opportunity of playing his beloved bagpipes,
' We got Colin Fraser,' says McDonald, ' to give us a
few of his favourite strathspeys on the bagpipes, that
went off very well to the ear of a Highlander, but as
yet makes but a poor accordance with either the
pole or the paddle.'
I When they were approaching Norway House,
McDonald writes, ? As we wafted along under easy
sail, the Highland bagpipes in the Governor's canoe
was echoed by the bugle in mine.   Our entry was In the Footsteps of De Smet
certainly more imposing than anything hitherto
seen in this part of the Indian country. Immediately on landing, His Excellency was preceded by the
piper from the water to the fort.' When they got
farther west, we are told that the bagpipes and the
Highland piper in full dress excited among the
natives I emotions of admiration and wonder,' but
it must have been mortifying to a degree to Fraser
to find that the Indians west of the mountains, while
pleased with the pipes, found the Governor's musical
snuff-box wildly exciting.
" By the way, Malcolm McLeod, who edits
McDonald's Journal, has a few words to say of
Athabaska Pass. In his day it was known to the
men of the Hudson's Bay Company as Rocky Mountain Portage, or Columbia Pass, or Boat Encampment Pass. He says he travelled through it again
and again in early life, and once with thirty feet of
snow after mid-April in the pass. It was considered
impassable even in July on account of the snow. He
says he went through in early November. He
quotes his father's journal of 1826, \ Arrived at the
Rocky Mountains on the 27th April. The snow was
so deep that we were obliged to cut our leather
trousers to make snow-shoes of.'
I On the 25th of April De Smet bade farewell to
his kind friend Colin Fraser and his children, f who
had treated me with every mark of attention and
kindness.' A few days later he entered the valley of
the Fourche du Trou, or the Whirlpool.   On the 170
On the Old Athabaska Trail
1st of May he reached the Grand Batture, \ which
has all the appearance of a lake just drained of its
I' Here,' says De Smet, | we pitched our tent to
await the arrival of the Columbia brigade, who
always pass by this route on the way to Canada and
York Factory.' Not far from their camp they found
an object of surprise and admiration, \ an immense
mountain of pure ice, fifteen hundred feet high,
enclosed between two enormous rocks. So great is
the transparency of this beautiful ice that we can
easily distinguish objects in it to the depth of more
than six feet. One would say by its appearance that
in some sudden and extraordinary swell of the river
immense icebergs had been forced between these
rocks, and had there piled themselves on one another
so as to form this magnificent glacier. What gives
some colour of probability to this conjecture is that
on the other side of the glacier there is a large lake
of considerable elevation. From the base of this
gigantic iceberg the River du Trou takes its rise.'
" Toward evening on the 6th of May they
discovered, at a distance of about three miles, two
men approaching on snow-shoes. They proved to
be the advance-guard of the annual brigade bound
from Fort Vancouver to York Factory.
" The following morning De Smet and his men
were off early, and after a march of eight miles fell
in with the main body of the brigade. The leader
was Francis Ermatinger, one of the most capable In the Footsteps of De Smet
and adventurous of the traders of the Hudson's Bay
Company, and an old friend of the missionary. With
him were two British army officers, Captain Warre
and Captain Vavasour, who had been sent out by
the British Government the previous year in
connection with the Oregon question, and were
now returning home by way of York Factory. De
Smet had entertained them in 1845 at Kalispel Lake.
" Captain Warre describes the meeting in his
Sketches in North America and the Oregon Country,
1 We had,' he says, \ scarcely walked ten miles
when the joyful sound of human voices assured us
of more immediate relief, and we soon encountered
a party of men who had been sent to meet us with
provisions, accompanied by Le Pere de Smit, a
Jesuit priest from Belgium, and chief of the Roman
Catholic missionaries in the Columbia district, who
was on his return to that part of Oregon.'
" After a brief halt and exchange of news, the
two parties resumed their march, the brigade
toward the Athabaska, the missionary up to the
height of land. Up to this point De Smet had found
the journey not uncomfortable. Now, however,
they were running into heavy snow, and it was
impossible to proceed except on snow-shoes. ' For
myself,' says the missionary, f1 had to try the
snow-shoes for the first time in my life. By means
of them I had to ascend those frightful ramparts,
the barriers of snow, which separate the Atlantic
world from the Pacific Ocean.'
II 172
On the Old Athabaska Trail
I They had now, according to his computation,
seventy miles to travel to reach Boat Encampment,
and this they proposed to accomplish in two and
a half days, j The most worthy and excellent
Messrs. Rowand and Harriote (John Rowand and
John E. Harriott, both chief factors in the service
of the Hudson's Bay Company), whose kindness
at the Rocky Mountain House and Fort Augustus
I shall ever acknowledge, were of opinion that it
was absolutely impossible for me to accomplish the
journey, on account of my corpulency, and they
wished to dissuade me from attempting it.
" ' However, I thought I could remedy the inconvenience of my surplus weight by a vigorous fast
of thirty days, which I cheerfully underwent. I
found myself much lighter indeed, and started off,
somewhat encouraged, over snow sixteen feet deep.
We went in single file, alternately ascending and
descending, sometimes across plains piled up with
avalanches, sometimes over lakes and rapids buried
deeply under the snow, now on the side of a deep
mountain, then across a forest of cypress-trees, of
which we could only see the tops. I cannot tell
you the number of my summersets. I continually
found myself embarrassed by my snow-shoes, or
entangled in some branch of a tree. When falling,
I spread my arms before me, as one naturally would
do, to break the violence of the fall, and upon deep
snow the danger is not great, though I was often
half buried, when I required the assistance of my In the Footsteps of De Smet 173
companions, which was always tendered with great
kindness and good-humour.'
I After a strenuous day's travel, they made
preparations to camp. Pine-trees were cut down
and stripped of their branches, and on these they
made their beds, whilst a fire was lighted on a floor
of green logs, j To sleep thus,' says De Smet,
f under the beautiful canopy of the starry heavens,
in the midst of lofty and steep mountains, among
sweet, murmuring rills and roaring torrents, may
appear strange to you, and to all lovers of rooms,
rendered comfortable by stoves and feathers; but
you may think differently after having come and
breathed the pure air of the mountains, where in
return coughs and colds are unknown. Come and
make the trial, and you will say that it is easy to
forget the fatigues of a long march and find contentment, and joy even, upon the spread branches
of pines, on which, after the Indian fashion, we
extended ourselves and slept, wrapped up in buffalo
" The following morning they left this camp,
which had been at the summit of the pass, and
commenced the descent to the Columbia. It took
them five hours to get down to the comparatively
level ground at the foot of the Grande Cote. It had
turned mild during the night, the snow was very
wet, and they climbed down in wet clothes, sad
and disconsolate.
We saw,' says De Smet, f maypoles all along
<< t
l 174
On the Old Athabaska Trail
the old encampments of the Portage. Each traveller
who passes there for the first time selects his own.
A young Canadian, with much kindness, dedicated
one to me which was at least one hundred and twenty
feet in height, and which reared its lofty head above
all the neighbouring trees. He stripped it of all
its branches, only leaving at the top a little crown ;
at the bottom my name and the date of the transit
were written.' These were what were known as
1 lob-sticks,' an illustration of which will be found
in Southesk's book.
" Finally they left the valley of what De Smet
calls the Great Portage River (Wood River) and
made their way through heavy timber, which brought
them to an extensive marsh, through which they
had to plod up to the knees in mud and water. A
little later they were encouraged by the sight of a
beautiful and verdant plain, where ' four reindeer
were seen carousing, bouncing, and jumping in the
midst of plenty.' On the ioth of May, towards
noon, they arrived at Boat Encampment. ' Those
who have passed the Rocky Mountains at fifty-
three degrees of north latitude, during the great
melting of the snows, know whether or not we merit
the title of good travellers. It required all my
strength to accomplish it, and I confess that I
would not dare undertake it again.'
" De Smet, by the way, tells a story that seems
to be related to an incident told by Paul Kane,
of an Indian massacre near Jasper House.   De In the Footsteps of De Smet
Smet says that he learned the particulars from a
family of Porteurs from New Caledonia, whom he
met at the mouth of the Miette. It is a tale of
extraordinary privation and hardihood, that sounds
curiously like one told by Ross Cox and Alexander
Ross of the wife of Pierre Dorion, in the Snake Indian
" According to De Smet, the father, mother, and
brother of a young girl of fifteen were massacred
in the woods by a party of Assiniboines. The girl,
with her two younger sisters, managed to escape.
They wandered about the country for two years,
without meeting any human being, without knife
or hatchet, making fire by the primitive Indian
method, living on roots and wild fruits and an
occasional porcupine. In winter they found shelter
in the abandoned den of a bear.
" The younger girls wandered away at the end
of the first year, and were never afterwards heard
of. The elder was ultimately found by a voyageur,
who looked after her, provided her with clothing,
and sent her back to her tribe.
" De Smet also tells a story about Jean Baptiste,
one of the men employed under Colin Fraser at
Jasper House. It is best given in De Smet's own
words. The Calvinistic minister was probably
Robert Rundle, the well-known Protestant missionary.
Jean   Baptiste   was   converted.   It   appears
he had done a little thieving in his time, and when
II 176
On the Old Athabaska Trail
he was converted the Black-Robe enjoined him to
restore two dollars he had stolen from the Calvinistic
minister of the neighbourhood. Jean Baptiste
accordingly presented himself before the minister,
and the following dialogue ensued:
I ) The Minister :   " Well, what do you want ? "
" ' Baptiste :    " Me one time rob you.    Black-
Robe tell me give that money back."
I' Minister :   " What money is that ? "
II Baptiste : " Two dollars. Me bad Indian
rob you ; now me good Indian—got water on forehead. Me heap child Great Spirit. Here is your
I ■ Minister : " All right; don't steal any more.
Good-bye, Jean Baptiste."
I - Baptiste : " Ah ! Good-bye no good; me
want something else."
I' Minister :   " What do you want ? "
Baptiste :   " Me want receipt."
" A receipt!   What do you want
Did Black-Robe tell you to ask for
a <
it   €
a receipt for ?
one ? "
I' Baptiste : " Black-Robe say nothing. Jean
Baptiste want a receipt."
" ' Minister: " But why do you want a receipt ?
You stole the money and you have given it back
—that's all there is about it."
" \ Baptiste : " That not all about it. Listen.
You old, me young; you die first, after while me
die.   Understand ? " In the Footsteps of De Smet
tt t
t<   €
Minister : " No, I don't. What do you mean ? "
Baptiste : 1 Listen. Me mean heap. Me go
heaven after a while. Me knock on gate. Great
Chief Saint Peter come and open. He say, j Hello,
Jean Baptiste! What do you want ? ' Me say,
I Want to come in Great Spirit Lodge.' Peter say,
I How about your sins, Jean Baptiste ? ' Me say,
I Black-Robe forgive sins all right.' He say, | How
about the two dollars you stole from minister?
You say you gave them back ? You show me
receipt.' Now, then, poor Jean Baptiste, poor old
Indian, got no receipt, and he have to run all over
hell to find you." ' " jj
" After the missionary comes the artist. Paul
Kane was actually an Irishman by birth, but to
all intents and purposes he was a native of Toronto.
He was brought there as a very young child ; it was
there he spent the impressionable years of boyhood ;
and it was there that he made his first efforts as a
painter ; there also in later years he completed from
sketches most of his famous paintings of Indian life
and western scenes.
| He spent several years studying art in Europe,
and on his return to Canada conceived the idea that
became his life's work. With the assistance of Sir
George Simpson, he travelled through the far West,
and for three years lived with Indians and fur-
traders on both sides of the Rocky Mountains,
studying the ways of the fur trade and the manners
and customs of the natives. The results of this
study he embodied in several hundred sketches.
Most of his finished paintings are now in the Royal
Museum of Archaeology in Toronto. A few are in
the Public Archives and the Speaker's Chambers of
the House of Commons at Ottawa. Others are
scattered in private collections.
In  1846 he started West on his memorable
expedition, the narrative of which he published in Wanderings of a Canadian Artist      179
1859 under the title, Wanderings of an Artist among
the Indians of North America. The book is illustrated with a number of his own paintings and
drawings. It is from this narrative that the
following particulars are taken of his journey from
Edmonton through Athabaska Pass to the Columbia.
I He left Fort Edmonton on the 6th of October
with a party of fur-traders, twenty in all. They had
sixty-five horses to carry the baggage and provisions.
One of the party was Colin Fraser, who was now in
charge of Jasper House, and was returning there
from a visit to Edmonton. He had, says Kane,
been at Jasper for eleven years. He apparently told
the artist about his trip across the continent with
Governor Simpson eighteen years before, and of the
effect his bagpipes had had upon the natives. One
of them had been so strongly impressed with the
idea that one who played such an extraordinary
instrument in such an extraordinary way must be
more than human, that he had begged Fraser to
intercede for him with his relative, the Great Spirit.
The piper had assured the Indian that his influence
in that quarter was quite negligible.
" Four days brought them to Fort Assiniboine
on the Athabaska. The post had apparently not
improved since Alexander Ross had visited it twenty-
odd years before. ' This establishment,' says Kane,
J although honoured with the name of a fort, is a
mere post used for taking care of horses, a common
man or horse-keeper being in charge of it.'
I Jj f! i8o
On the Old Athabaska Trail
I The artist found much to interest him, by the
way, in studying and contrasting the manners and
customs of the various tribes with whom he came in
contact. He never lost an opportunity of making
sketches of Indians and Indian scenes, chiefs, medicine
men, warriors, squaws and children, their horses and
villages, their characteristic costumes, their ceremonial dances, methods of warfare and buffalo-
hunting. Sometimes the Indians were flattered that
he should wish to paint their portraits ; oftener they
objected from superstitious or other reasons, and had
to be coaxed or bribed into a more reasonable mood.
I Kane also found much to repay his attention in
the wild life of the country through which he was
travelling. He never tired of studying the ways of
that extraordinary little animal the beaver, and the
amazing results of its industry. \ I measured a tree,'
he says, 'lying on the ground, which had been cut down
by the beaver ; it was seven feet in circumference.'
" On their way up the Athabaska they found three
bears, an old one and two cubs, that Colin Fraser
had killed some days before and left in a cache. On
the ist of November they entered Jasper's Lake
(now Brule Lake), and the following day Kane writes
in his diary : j We are now close upon the mountains,
and it is scarcely possible to conceive the intense
force with which the wind howled through a gap
formed by the perpendicular rock called Miette's
Rock, fifteen hundred feet high, on the one side and
a lofty mountain on the other (Roche Ronde).   The
HIm Wanderings of a Canadian Artist      181
former derives its appellation from a French
voyageur, who climbed its summit and sat smoking
his pipe with his legs hanging over the fearful abyss.'
Someone else who tells the same story says that it
was done on a wager.
" Two of the men were sent on to Jasper House to
procure horses, as it was found that further progress
in the boat they had procured at Assiniboine was
impossible, both on account of the shallowness of
the water and the violence of the wind. The fort
was distant about fourteen or fifteen miles. That
night it blew a hurricane. The boat was blown out
of the water, and was found lying fifteen feet up the
bank, although its weight was so great that the,
strength of nine men could not move it back to the
river. They camped among high pines * waving in
the wind like a field of grain.' Their roots ' formed
a network near the surface, which was in constant
motion, and rocked us to sleep as we lay around
our damp-fires.'
" They arrived at Jasper House cold, wet, and
famished, but were soon cheered by a blazing fire
and five or six pounds of mountain sheep. The
fort consisted of ' only three miserable log huts.
The dwelling-house is composed of two rooms, of
about fourteen or fifteen feet square each. One
of them is used by all comers and goers—Indians,
voyageurs, and traders, men, women, and children,
being huddled together indiscriminately, the other
room being devoted to the exclusive occupation of
\\w\ On the Old Athabaska Trail
Colin and his family, consisting of a Cree squaw
and nine interesting half-breed children.' Kane
made a sketch of the post, which appears in his book.
| The Indians in the neighbourhood of Jasper
House numbered only about fifteen or twenty.
They were, according to Kane, of the Shoo-Schawp
(Shuswap) tribe, and their chief, of whom he made a
sketch, was called Capote Blanc by the voyageurs.
His real home was a long distance to the north-east
(Kane must have meant to say south-west), but
' he had been treacherously entrapped whilst travelling with thirty-seven of his people, by a hostile
tribe, which met him and invited him to sit down
and smoke the pipe of peace. They unsuspectingly
laid^down their arms, but before they had time to
smoke their treacherous hosts seized their arms
and murdered them all except eleven, who managed
to escape, and fled to Jasper House, where they
remained, never daring to return to their own
country through the hostile tribe. Capote Blanc
was a very simple, kind-hearted old man, with whom
I became very friendly.'
I A day or two later they started up the valley
of the Athabaska with thirteen loaded horses, but,
as there was no likelihood that they would be able
to take the horses over the pass, Kane had an
Indian make him a pair of snow-shoes. On the
sixth they encamped at La Row's Prairie to pasture
their horses. The following day they travelled
hard and made some distance, although the route mm
1  Wanderings of a Canadian Artist      183
lay ' sometimes over almost inaccessible crags, and
at others through gloomy and tangled forest.'
As they ascended the snow increased in depth, and
they began to feel the effects of the increased cold
and rarefaction of the atmosphere.
I On the eighth Kane noticed two mountain goats
looking down from a lofty and precipitous ledge of
rock, not exceeding, to all appearances, a few
inches in width. As the snow was now very deep,
and there was fear that the party that was waiting
for them at Boat Encampment might give up hopes of
meeting them and return down the Columbia, leaving
them in an exceedingly awkward and tragic predicament, they sent two of the men forward at top speed.
" They camped on the ninth at the Grand Batteur,
and the following day found it necessary to send the
horses back, as they stuck fast in the snow. The
day was spent in making snow-shoes. Two experienced men were sent ahead to beat a track, and Kane
made his first essay on snow-shoes, suffering both
discomfort and discomfiture. One of the party,
Mrs. Lane, wife of a fur-trader, who had been
accustomed to snow-shoes from her childhood at
Red River, proved to be one of the best pedestrians.
I They camped early, making a regular winter
encampment, which was only done when the snow
was too deep to reach the ground. ' Some of the
old voyageurs amused themselves by telling the new
hands or mangeurs du lard that the Indians in those
parts were giants from thirty to forty feet high,
V 184
On the Old Athabaska Trail
and that accounted for the trees being cut off at
such an unusual height.'
I Kane gives a minute description of a winter
camp in the mountains. First the snow was beaten
down by walking around on snow-shoes. Five or
six logs of green timber were then laid down close
together, so as to form a platform. The fire of dry
wood was then kindled on it, and pine branches
spread on either side, on which the party, wrapped
in their blankets, laid themselves down with their
feet toward the fire. That incident of someone
falling into the hole made by the burning coals
seems to have been a familiar one on the Athabaska
trail. Kane says an Iroquois, who had placed
himself too near the fire, rolled down a depth of
six or seven feet, the snow having melted under him
while he slept. * His cries awoke me, and, after a
hearty laugh at his fiery entombment, we succeeded
in dragging him out.' It is not mentioned if the
Iroquois joined in the laugh.    Possibly not.
I On the twelfth they reached the summit,
walked across the frozen surface of the Punchbowl,
and the following morning began the descent of
the Grande Cote. It had taken them seven days
to come up from Jasper House. In one day they had
made their way down the Pacific side to nearly the
same level. The descent was a work of great
difficulty on snow-shoes, particularly for those carrying loads ; their feet frequently slipped from under
them, and the loads rolled down the hill.   They Wanderings of a Canadian Artist      185
forded the icy waters of Wood River thirty-seven
times, and reached Boat Encampment about five
in the afternoon of the fifteenth.
" Kane found that the men sent to meet them
at Boat Encampment had been waiting for thirty-
nine days, and had made all their preparations to
return down the river the following day, had not
the messengers arrived in the nick of time.
I The worst part of the journey was now over,
and Kane remarks, 1 Few who read this journal,
surrounded by the comforts of civilised life, will
be able to imagine the heartfelt satisfaction with
which we exchanged the wearisome snow-shoes
for the comfortable boats, and the painful anxiety
of half-satisfied appetites for a well-stocked larder.'
I His trip down the Columbia to Fort Vancouver
need not be described here. He remained at the
fort for some time, enjoying the hospitality of its
officers and the company of educated men. Among
the many interesting native types that he added
to his gallery of portraits was Casanov, chief of
the Flatheads, a man of advanced age and striking
personality. He had maintained his great influence
over his tribe chiefly by means of the superstitious
dread in which they held him. For many years
he had kept a hired assassin to remove any obnoxious
individual against whom he entertained personal
enmity. He had married a daughter of Concomly,
who had previously been the wife of McDougall
of the North West Company.   Kane says that on i86
On the Old Athabaska Trail
the first marriage Concomly had shown his liberality
by I carpeting her path from the canoe to the fort
with sea-otter skins.' Such a dowry a few years
later would have been worth a king's ransom.
" Kane's narrative is full of interesting particulars
of Indian customs, among others their way of making
fire. 1 The fire,' he says, \ is obtained by means of
a small, flat piece of dry cedar, in which a small
hollow is cut, with a channel for the ignited charcoal
to run over; this piece the Indian sits on to hold
it steady, while he rapidly twirls a round stick of
the same wood between the palms of his hands,
with the point pressed into the hollow of the flat
piece. In a very short time sparks begin to fall
through the channel upon finely frayed cedar-bark
placed underneath, which they soon ignite. There
is a great deal of knack in doing this, but those who
are used to it will light a fire in a very short time.'
I Kane travelled about the country, up the
Columbia and its tributaries, and even as far afield
as Vancouver Island and the adjacent mainland,
visiting the different tribes, studying their ways,
and drawing pictures of them and their home-life.
He tells this story of a fur-trader who had been in
charge of Fort Walla Walla on the Columbia :
I I His clerk had a quarrel and fight with the son
of a chief, whom he beat. The Indian thereupon
collected a large party of the tribe, and rushed
with them into the yard of the fort, and attempted
to seize the offender for the purpose of taking his Wanderings of a Canadian Artist     187
life. Mr. Mackenzie kept them off for some time,
but, finding he could do so no longer, he ordered
one of the men to bring him out a keg of powder,
the head of which he knocked in, and, taking a flint
and steel from his pocket, he stood over it as if
about to ignite it, telling the Indians that if they
did not immediately depart he would show them
how a white chief could die and destroy his enemies.
The Indians took the alarm, and fled through the
gates, which he immediately barred against them,
secretly sending the clerk the next day to another
post out of their reach.' Curiously enough, during
the days of New France, Saint-Pierre, who was
in charge of Fort La Reine on the Assiniboine,
adopted the same expedient to get rid of a troublesome band of Indians.
" One of the tribes Paul Kane visited had a
peculiar breed of small dogs with long hair. These
dogs were bred for clothing purposes. The hair was
cut off with a knife, and mixed with goose-down and
a little white earth to cure the feathers. This was
then beaten together with sticks, and twisted into
threads by rubbing it down the thigh with the palm
of the hand, in the same way that a shoemaker forms
his wax-end, after which it underwent a second
twisting on a distaff to increase its firmness. The
threads were then woven into blankets by a very
simple loom of their own contrivance. A single
thread was wound over rollers at the top and bottom
of a square frame, so as to form a continuous woof
ffp On the Old Athabaska Trail
through which an alternate thread was carried by
the hand, and pressed closely together by a sort of
wooden comb. By turning the rollers every part
of the woof was brought within reach of the weaver.
In this way a bag was formed, open at each end,
which, being cut, made a square blanket.
In one of his excursions Kane was struck with
the singular ugliness of an Indian chief whom he
met. He very reluctantly consented to his portrait
being drawn, and enquired very earnestly if it would
not involve the risk of his dying. After Kane had
finished the sketch, and given him a piece of tobacco
as recompense, he held it up for some moments, and
said it was a small recompense for risking his life.
He also followed Kane for several days, begging him
to destroy the picture, until at last, to get rid of him,
the artist made a rough copy which he tore up in his
presence, pretending that it was the original.
I Another interesting practice that Paul Kane
describes is what was known in the days of the fur
trade as the Indian Post, j The gentlemen in
charge of the various posts,' he says, f have frequent
occasion to send letters, sometimes for a considerable
distance, when it is either inconvenient or impossible
for them to fit out a canoe with their own men to
carry it. In such cases the letter is given to an
Indian, who carries it as far as suits his convenience
and safety. He then sells the letter to another, who
carries it until he finds an opportunity of selling it to
advantage; it is thus passed on and sold until it Wanderings of a Canadian Artist      189
arrives at its destination, gradually increasing in
value according to the distance, and the last possessor
receiving the reward for its safe delivery. In this
manner letters are frequently sent with perfect
security, and with much greater rapidity than could
be done otherwise.'
I On the 1st of July, 1847, Kane started East
again with the brigade. On the way up the
Columbia he heard of the horrible fate of Dr.
Whitman and his family, murdered by hostile Indians
because they blamed him for an epidemic of measles
that was sweeping like a pestilence through their tribe.
I Toward the end of October they reached Boat
Encampment, and on the 2nd of November began
the ascent of the Grande Cote, finding the snow deeper
at every step. One of the horses fell down a steep
slope with a heavy load on its back, and escaped
without either hurting himself or losing his load.
" They arrived at the summit as the sun was
sinking below the horizon, and, as there was no feed
for the horses, pushed on down the Whirlpool. It
was intensely cold. Kane's long beard became a
solid mass of ice. Long after dark they reached the
Campment de Fusil. The next day they passed the
Grand Batture, and found the snow decreasing in
depth. They succeeded in reaching the Campment
de Regnalle (evidently should read Campment
D'Orignal) by nightfall.
" On the fourth they started long before daylight,
and made good progress unt;l noon, when they came
i 190
On the Old Athabaska Trail
to a wild tract of country which appeared to have
been visited years before by some terrible hurricane,
which had uprooted the whole forest for miles
around, not leaving a tree standing. The younger
growth were now pushing their heads up through
the fallen timber of the ancient forest. Reached
the Grand Traverse after dark.
I The following day they arrived at the mouth of
the Whirlpool, found the Athabaska in flood, and
had much difficulty in getting across. The water
almost covered the backs of the horses. They
passed La Rouge's Prairie, and Kane camped on the
same spot where he had slept exactly a year previously to the very day.
" Continuing their way on the sixth, it became so
cold that they could no longer sit their horses, but
were obliged to dismount and drive them on before.
Finally they reached Jasper House, more dead
than alive, but soon forgot their troubles over a
delicious piece of mountain sheep. A great number
of these animals had been driven down into the
valleys by the intensity of the cold, which had
set in early this year and with unusual intensity.
Kane counted as many as five large herds of mountain
sheep grazing in different directions at one time.
I On the 29th November he reached Fort Assiniboine, having travelled three hundred and fifty miles
in fifteen days. The post was plentifully supplied
with white-fish. He remained there two days, and
then continued his way to Edmonton and the East."
" Dr. Hector, afterwards Sir James Hector, did a
lot of travelling in and about the Rockies, and many
of the peaks and valleys, snowfields, glaciers, and
waterfalls between Banff and Jasper were seen by
him long before they were revealed to our modern
mountain-climbers.   He   assisted   Captain   Palhser
in the very important explorations carried out in
the years 1857 to i860 under instructions from the
British Government, and the records of which are
contained in that monumental document the Palliser
Report, published in 1859 and 1863.   A magnificent
peak overlooking the Bow River, and a lake not far
from the source of that river, commemorate Hector's
name.    While many of his valuable achievements
as an   explorer   have  been   forgotten  except   by
a few scientists and historical students, he is still
remembered as the man who gave Kicking Horse
Pass its singular name.
" On  January  12,  1859,  Dr.  Hectbr left Fort
Edmonton to carry out a plan he had conceived some
time before of making his way up the Athabaska
and the Whirlpool to Athabaska Pass.    He sent his
reports and letters for England east by the Hudson's
Bay Company's winter express,  and started for
if 192
On the Old Athabaska Trail
Jasper House with three companions. Each had a
dog-train heavily laden with pemmican and other
provisions and equipment.
I Hector tells the following circumstances, to
illustrate what a good train of dogs can do, provided
they have a hardy and expert driver. ' Mr. Christie
(at that time in charge of Fort Edmonton) found
in arriving at the horse-guard that he had forgotten
a letter he wished me to take to Jasper House.
He at once sent back his clerk, Mr. Sinclair, to the
fort with his dogs, although that gentleman had
just driven them twenty-five miles to this place.
Sinclair got to the fort about midnight, and sent back
a man with the same dogs, who arrived with the
letter for us before we were up in the morning, the
dogs having thus run seventy-five miles in a good
deal under the twenty-four hours. M. Lacombe,
the Roman Catholic priest, has been frequently
driven from the mission at Lac St. Ann's to the
fort in his dog cariole, a distance of fifty miles, after
which his man Alexis, one of the best runners in the
country, has loaded the sled with four hundred
pounds of meat, and returned to the mission before
next morning.'
II remember meeting the veteran missionary,
Pere Lacombe, a good many years ago. We were
fellow-guests on the private car of Sir Donald Smith,
afterward Lord Strathcona, and it was extremely
entertaining to listen to the reminiscences and the
play of wit of these two remarkable men, whose Hector on the Athabaska
lives had been so closely identified with the history
of the North-west. Father Lacombe died a few
years ago, at something over ninety years of age,
having given his long life to most devoted and
self-sacrificing work among the western Indians.
" On the morjiing of the thirtieth Hector and his
party came within sight of the mountains. As
they were preparing to camp they observed smoke
rising out of the woods, and, climbing the bank,
found a party of Iroquois half-breeds. Bringing
their dogs up the bank, they camped beside them.
The half-breeds were badly off for provisions, and
were living altogether on the little hares that they
trapped in the woods, and which happened to be
very scarce this year. They had originally been
trappers in the service of the North West Company,
and on the union of that organisation with the
Hudson's Bay Company they turned freemen, trading
the furs they obtained at Jasper House.
" The last day of January Hector writes in his
journal, j Got a splendid view of the mountains.
. . . Miette's Rock is a bold object resembling the
Devil's Head north of Bow River. ... It was
quite dark when we reached the base of Miette's
Rock, where a spur of the mountain from the south
compelled us again to seek the river. . . . We took
the most shallow place we could find, where the
river was very rapid, and, without taking the
harness off the dogs,  unfastened them from the
sleds, and, pitching them into the water, pelted them
it' 194
On the Old Athabaska Trail
with pieces of ice, so that they swam for the other
side of the river. We then got off the edge of the
ice ourselves, found the water took us above the
waist, and, getting the sleds, loads and all, on our
shoulders, waded through the rapid and so reached
the left bank. The wind was bitterly cold, and we
stiffened into a mass of ice.'
" They arrived at Jasper House about ten in the
evening. Hector says the post had been abandoned
for some years, but was this winter again occupied,
and placed under the charge of Mr. Moberly, who
received them very kindly. This was, of course,
the second Jasper House, built by the Hudson's
Bay Company at the foot of Jasper Lake. They had
passed the site of the old fort ' just without the
mountains at the Lac a Brute,' and noted that
vegetables and barley grew well there. Of the new
fort Hector says, ! Jasper House is beautifully
situated on an open plain, about six miles in extent,
within the first range of the mountains. As the
valley makes a bend above and below, it appears to
be completely encircled by mountains. The little
group of buildings which form the fort have been
constructed, in keeping with their picturesque
situation, after the Swiss style, with overhanging
roofs and trellised porticoes. The dwelling-house
and two stores form three sides of a square, and these,
with a little detached hut, form the whole of this
remote establishment.'
" Hector mentions   Roche  Jacques,   Roche  de EMPEROR FALLS
[p. 194
u  ,'"*( !
Hector on the Athabaska
Smet, and Roche Ronde, and says ' these names
were given long ago at a time when a great number
travelled by this route across the mountains. As
late as 1853 there was communication at two seasons
by this post with the Columbia district. In March,
when the snow had acquired a crust, the express
with letters and accounts started from Edmonton
by the route I have just followed, and continued on
to the Boat Encampment, to which place, by the
time they had arrived, owing to the earlier spring
on the west side of the mountains, the brigade of
boats had ascended from Vancouver. The mail
from the western department was then exchanged,
and taken back to Edmonton, and thence to Norway
House, along with the Jasper House furs.
11 The second time of communication was in
the autumn, after the Saskatchewan brigade returned
to Edmonton in the beginning of September, upon
which the officers and men bound for the western
department, taking with them the subsidy of otter-
skins that the company annually paid the Russian
Government for the rent of the North-west coast,
crossed the portage to Fort Assiniboine, then
ascended the Athabaska in boats to Jasper House,
with pack-horses reached the Boat Encampment,
and then descended the Columbia to Vancouver,
where they arrived generally about the 1st of
November. The journey from York Factory on
Hudson's Bay to the Pacific coast by this route
generally occupied three and a half months, and
»■ n *
On the Old Athabaska Trail
involved an amount of hardship and toil that
cannot be appreciated by those who have not
seen boat-travelling in these territories.'
" The big-horn, says Hector, was very plentiful
in the neighbourhood of Jasper House, and formed
the principal food of the people there. There were
two or three Iroquois hunters attached to the post,
and they were sent off every morning before daybreak. The hunters generally used dogs, which
were beautifully trained to turn the sheep as they
rushed up the mountains to reach the most inaccessible precipices. In the forenoon it was always
possible, with a good glass, to see many bands of
mountain sheep on the mountains, and Hector once
watched with great interest in this manner the
progress of a hunt on the slopes of Roche de Smet,
or, as he somewhat inappropriately calls it, Roche
de Smelt.
" In addition to mountain sheep, Moberly also
fed his people on wild-cat, or Canadian lynx, which
were ' about the size of a small greyhound,' and
excellent eating when fat.
" There was at that time a rule at Jasper House
that no freemen were to hunt within thirty miles of
the post. A number of mouths had to be fed
throughout the winter, and the supply of game was
strictly limited. It was an anxious task to provide
for the little community. In order to save the
game around the fort until the winter, Moberly had
left it for two months and had camped about twenty Hector on the Athabaska
miles up the valley at a place where there were plenty
of big-horn. Some years before the practice had
been to send parties out for several months on
hunting expeditions to accumulate provisions for
the winter. During these hunts as many as thirty
or forty moose and several hundred big-horn would
be killed. In addition a large quantity of white-
fish and trout were obtained from the mountain
I The morning of February 10th they started up
the Athabaska with dog teams. Hector mentions
Colin's Range on the east side of the river, and
Snaring River on the west. The latter, he says, was
named after a tribe of Indians that once lived
there, dwelling in holes in the ground, and living
on animals which they captured with snares of
" On the eleventh they came to the junction of
the Miette and the Athabaska, where there had once
been a trading-post, and followed the main stream
to the south. They passed the Campment du
Roches, where they found many signs of former
travellers, and, among others, the name of Hector's
friend Hardisty, of the Hudson's Bay Company,
written on a blaze the previous summer on his
return from Boat Encampment, where he had been
sent to meet Chief Factor A. J. Dallas. Dallas,
according to Dr. George Bryce, had shown great nerve
and judgment this same year in British Columbia
in a serious brush with the United States authorities.
!u 198
On the Old Athabaska Trail
Three years later he became Governor of Rupert's
" Hector camped at the Prairie des Vaches. The
following day his Indian guide, who had injured his
foot while hunting, told him, much to Hector's
disappointment, that he would not be able to guide
him up to the Committee's Punchbowl. At noon
they came to the mouth of the Whirlpool, and
Hector climbed a mountain and had a fine view up
its valley. SI easily recognised,' he remarks, j Mount
Brown and Mount Hooker. They seemed distant
30 miles to the S. by N.' He appears to have been
more fortunate than a good many later travellers.
" Hector continued his way up the Athabaska,
and then returned the way he had come to Jasper
House and Fort Edmonton." CHAPTER XII
I That," I said, " is the last of the journeys of which
I have any record over the old Athabaska Trail
between Jasper House and Boat Encampment.
There are still a couple of narratives of expeditions
over a portion of the route—that is to say, up the
Athabaska as far as its junction with the Miette.
From that point they turned up the latter stream to
Yellowhead Pass. As it happens, they are both
interesting stories, and I think I shall take the risk
of boring you with them, if you do not stop me."
The Warden looked non-committal, but did not
make any hostile demonstration, so I went on.
" The first of these later trips was that of Milton
and Cheadle, whose story is told in their North-West
Passage by Land, published in 1865. Their expedition was undertaken j 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 River.' One suspects, after
reading their book, that the compelling reason was
the desire to see a bit of the world that was at that
time tolerably remote from civilisation.
tj On the Old Athabaska Trail
They arrived at Fort Edmonton on the 14th of
May, 1863, where they were welcomed by Chief
Trader W. L. Hardisty. Fort Edmonton | boasts of
a windmill, a blacksmith's forge, and a carpenter's
shop. The boats required for the annual voyage
to York Factory are built and mended here; carts,
sleighs, and harness made, and all appliances
required for the company's traffic between the
different posts.' There were about thirty families
living in the fort, engaged in the service of the
company, and a large body of hunters were constantly
employed in supplying the establishment with meat.
At Lake St. Albans, about nine miles north of
Edmonton, a colony of half-breed freemen had
formed a small settlement. This was then the home
of Pere Lacombe. Five grizzly bears had attacked
a band of horses near the mission and chased two
men on horseback. A grand hunt had been
arranged, and Milton and Cheadle were invited.
They rode over the following morning, and found
the missionary standing in front of his house. He
was ' an exceedingly intelligent man, and his society
was very agreeable.' He spoke English very fluently,
and his knowledge of the Cree language was acknowledged by the half-breeds to be superior to their own.
He gave them a capital dinner, and showed them
round the settlement. They saw several very
respectable farms, with rich wheat-fields, large bands
of horses, and herds of fat cattle. Pere Lacombe
had brought out ploughs at his own expense, and Milton and Cheadle
other farming implements, and was then completing
a grist-mill to be worked by horse-power. He had
built a chapel and established schools, t Altogether
this little settlement was the most flourishing
community we had seen since leaving Red River.'
The bear-hunt proved a disappointment, as the bears
had apparently decamped.
I At Fort Edmonton Milton and Cheadle met a
trader named Pembrun, who had just arrived to take
charge of the brigade of boats that was to take the
season's furs to Norway House. Also Macaulay,
then in charge of Jasper House, who had come to
fetch winter supplies. Pembrun had crossed the
mountains several times in years gone by, by
Athabaska Pass, and on one occasion in winter.
" Pembrun related several stories of these
journeys, and amongst them one ! which bears a
strong resemblance to a well-known adventure of the
celebrated Baron Munchausen, but which will be
readily believed by those acquainted with the
locality in which it occurred.' At his first camp in
the mountains I he set to work to shovel away the
snow with a snow-shoe, after the usual manner of
making camp in the winter, but, having got down
to his own depth without coming to the bottom, he
sounded with a long pole, when, not finding the
ground, he desisted, and built a platform of green
logs, upon which the fire and beds were laid. Passing
the same place afterwards in the summer, he
recognised his old resting-place by the tall stumps
a On the Old Athabaska Trail
of the trees cut off twenty or thirty feet above the
| It was while at Fort Edmonton that Milton and
Cheadle met the renowned Mr. O'B., who plays such
an important part in their story. He was | a
gentleman of considerable classical attainments, on
his way to British Columbia, whither, however, he
progressed but slowly, having left Red River twelve
months before.' He was of middle height and
wiry make, about forty or fifty years of age. ' His
face was long and its features large, and a retreating
mouth, almost destitute of teeth, gave a greater
prominence to his rather elongated nose.
" * He was dressed in a long coat of alpaca, of
ecclesiastical cut, and wore a black wide-awake,
which ill accorded with the week's stubble on his
chin, fustian trousers, and high-lows tied with string.
He carried an enormous stick, and altogether his
appearance showed a curious mixture of the clerical
with the rustic. His speech was rich with the
brogue of his native isle, and his discourse ornamented with numerous quotations from the ancient
I Mr. O'B. introduced himself, and requested
permission to join Milton and Cheadle's party on
their way through the mountains. The latter were
reluctant to add such an unpromising recruit, and
their guide, who had seen something of the character
of Mr. O'B., strenuously objected. However, they
finally agreed to take him, overwhelmed by  his Milton and Cheadle
importunity. It was not long before they realised
to their sorrow that the guide had been right.
I On the 3rd of June the party left Edmonton
for the Athabaska. They stopped at a settlement
called Lake St. Ann's. Our old friend Colin Fraser
was the H.B.C. officer at the place. They spent the
evening with him, and were entertained over their
pipes with his reminiscences of the old days when
the wood-buffalo were found in plenty as far as Peace
River, and game so abundant that starvation was
unknown. He told them he had been thirty-eight
years in the country, and that cariboo and big-horn
were so numerous when he first went to Jasper
House that a green hand and a boy had supplied
the post with ample provisions throughout the
winter. He had not seen Fort Garry for thirty
years, and for fifteen had not been farther than
Edmonton, yet he was happy and contented.
1 When they left St. Ann's the trail led them
immediately into dense forest, where the ground was
boggy and rotten, and thickly covered with fallen
timber. The horses sank in up to their girths,
and every few yards were obliged to jump over some
obstruction in their path. Mr. O'B. was now j deeply
impressed with the difficulties/ he encountered,
and declared that, although he had visited many
countries, he had never known what travelling
meant before. His assistance was limited to good
advice, for he was afraid to approach a horse, and
when his help was required to load the animals he
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On the Old Athabaska Trail
was invariably missing. We generally ferreted him
out, and found him hidden in the bushes, quietly
smoking his pipe, and diligently studying the last
remnant of his library, the only book he took with
him, Paley's Evidences of Christianity.'
" On the nth of June they crossed the Pembina,
and stopped to examine a magnificent coal-seam
on its banks. Remembering tales they had heard
at Edmonton, they also amused themselves for a
time prospecting the sand of the river for gold.
" For the next few days they travelled through
country that was largely muskeg, and tried both their
own tempers and the endurance of the horses.
' No one but a Hudson's Bay voyageur would
dream of taking horses into such a region.' Mr. O'B.
' employed his time in increasing the enmity which
the men had conceived for him by his dislike for
work, and his imperative manner when demanding
their services. He did not attempt to assist in
packing his own horse, but required the help of
the men to roll up his blanket, or stow away his
" ' Obstinately persisting, in spite of all remonstrances, in marching last of the single file in which
we travelled, he frequently lagged behind; when he
found that the party ahead were out of sight, which
was the case every few yards, from the closeness of
the trees, terror took possession of him, and he sat
down, without attempting to seek the path, making
the woods ring again with his cries for help. Milton and Cheadle
a *
The first time this occurred we stopped the
train in some alarm, and Baptiste hurried back to
see what could have happened, when, to his disgust,
he simply found Mr. O'B. seated on a fallen tree,
bawling with all his might. After this neither of
the men would go back for him, and the duty
devolved upon us. Mr. O'B. was a man of most
marvellous timidity. His fears rendered his life
a burden to him. But of all the things he dreaded
—and their name was legion—his particular horror
was a grizzly bear. On this point he was a complete
monomaniac. He had never yet seen a grizzly
bear, but he was in the daily expectation of meeting
one of these terrible animals, and a sanguinary and
untimely end at the same time. As he walked
through the forest the rustle of every leaf and the
creaking of the trunks seemed, to his anxious mind,
to herald the approach of his dreaded enemy.
" I The Assiniboine, taking advantage of his weakness, cured him for a time of his carelessness in losing
sight of the party by lying in wait hid amongst the
trees close to the track, and, as Mr. O'B. passed by,
set up a most horrible growling, which caused him to
take to his heels incontinently, and for several days
he kept near protection. As we sat round the
camp-fire one evening a rustling in the bushes
attracted our attention, and we were startled for a
moment by the sight of a dark, shaggy object
moving along, which, in the dim, fitful firelight,
looked very like a bear.    Mr. O'B. rushed up to us
f 1
M 206
On the Old Athabaska Trail
in abject terror, when the animal, passing into
clearer view, disclosed a foot clothed in a moccasin,
and we recognised the boy, enveloped in a buffalo
robe, and creeping on all fours, to practise on the
fears of Le Vieux.'
" Not long after that the Assiniboine guide had
a genuine adventure with a grizzly. He had gone
out in search of beaver, shot one in the river, but
failed to get it. ' Wandering on for some time
without meeting with anything more, he turned
back just before dusk and retraced his steps. When
he arrived within a few hundred yards of the camp
he heard a rustling in some underwood near by,
and, thinking the horses had strayed there, turned
aside into the cover to drive them back.
" \ Instead of seeing the horses he expected, he
found himself face to face with an enormous grizzly
bear, which was engaged in tearing open a rotten
trunk in search of insects. On the appearance of
the Assiniboine, the animal desisted from its employment, and advanced towards him with a terrible
growling and lips upcurled, displaying her great
teeth and enormous mouth. The first bear was
now joined by two others of rather smaller size,
who came running up, attracted by the growling.
" ! The Assiniboine, an old and practised hunter,
stood his ground firmly, and as the old bear came
within two or three yards suddenly threw up his
arms. This, a usual device in hunting the grizzly
bear, caused the animal to stop for a moment and Milton and Cheadle
sit up on her hind legs, giving an opportunity for a
steady shot. The Assiniboine took a deliberate
aim, and pulled the trigger, but, to his dismay, the
snapping of the cap only followed. He pulled the
second trigger, and that missed fire also.
11 Strange to say, the bear did not attack him,
and, as he continued to show a firm and immovable
front, retired with the others, and all three stood
watching him. At every attempt he made to move
one or other rushed toward him, growling fiercely.
This continued for some time, but at length they
resumed their occupation of breaking up the rotten
logs, and he stole off unperceived.
I f He was not, however, content to leave them
undisturbed after his narrow escape. When well
out of sight he stopped, poured fresh powder into
the nipples of his gun, and re-capped it. He then
crept cautiously round so as to approach them
from another quarter. He found them still in the
same place, occupied as before. Crouching behind
a natural barrier of fallen trees, he took a fair
deliberate shot at the old bear. Again both barrels
missed fire, and the three, aroused by the snapping
of the caps, looked round, and, quickly perceiving
him, rushed up, growling and showing their teeth,
but stopped as they came to the barrier of trees,
which they fortunately made no attempt to pass.
The same scene previously described was now re-
enacted, the animals resenting any sign which the
man showed of retiring, but refraining from actual
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On the Old Athabaska Trail
attack. At last they aH suddenly set off at speed,
and after a time the Assiniboine reached the camp
without further molestation.'
" A few days later they came to the banks of the
McLeod, another tributary of the Athabaska, and
camped for the night. Forded the stream in the
morning, and added a dish of delicious trout to the
usual breakfast. The guide, who had been discontented for some time, deserted the party during
the night. Milton and Cheadle were left with
thirteen horses to pack and drive through the thick
woods, the one-handed Assiniboine, with his wife
and boy, being their only assistants, ' Mr. O'B.
representing a minus quantity.' They had before
them six or seven hundred miles of very difficult
country, and not one of the party had ever before
set foot in the region. They pluckily decided to go
" While they were following a branch of the
McLeod, Cheadle and the Indian boy again tried
their luck at fishing. \ A number of trout were
lying in the shade of a large, overhanging alder,
and we disposed ourselves along the trunk, in order
to drop the tempting fly before the noses of the fish.
Cheadle, in his eagerness to accomplish this, fell
head first into the water with a tremendous splash,
and the boy, in his amusement at his companion's
misfortune, slipped also and splashed in after him.
Finding that the fish immediaMy returned to the
protecting shade, in spite of their fright, and were HI
K  Milton and Cheadle
even then too sleepy to take the bait, we set the
boy to manage the fly, whilst we stirred up the fish
judiciously with a long pole. They were then
sufficiently roused from their lethargic state to notice
the bait, and a good dish of them was secured. Not
one had been taken before this device was adopted.' "
" Is that," asked the Warden, " supposed to be
a humorous anecdote, or merely a common fish
story?" W
I That,"  I  replied,  " is part  of an  authentic
narrative, and is presumed to be as authentic as
the rest of the story, including Mr. O'B. Here,
by the way, is another incident in which that valiant
gentleman took a characteristically impressive part.
They had stopped for the noon meal in the middle
of a thick forest of young pines. The trees grew
so closely together that they had to cut a clear
space for the horses and the camp-fire. The j bulldogs ' were very numerous and attentive, so they
built a large fire for the benefit of the horses, and
a smaller one for themselves.
" Suddenly a louder crackling and roaring of
the other fire attracted their attention, and they
were horrified to see that some of the trees surroundings the clearing were on fire. The horses, in their
eagerness to keep in the thick of the smoke, had
kicked some of the blazing logs among the closely
set pines. Cheadle, seizing an axe, rushed to the
spot and felled tree after tree, to isolate those
already on fire from the rest, while Milton carried
II 1
ttl 210
On the Old Athabaska Trail
water in a bucket from a neighbouring pool and
poured it on the smouldering moss.
" \ We were by this time nearly surrounded
by blazing trees, and the flames flared and leaped
up from branch to branch, and from tree to tree,
in the most appalling manner, as they greedily
licked up, with a crackle and splutter, the congenial
resin of the trunks, or devoured with a flash and a
fizz the inflammable leaves of the flat, wide-spreading
" \ The horses became frightened and unmanageable ; some of them burst through the thick timber
around, in spite of the flames, and one, severely
burnt about the legs, threw himself down and rolled
in his agony in the very hottest of the fire. We
dropped axe and bucket, hauled at him by the head
and tail in vain, and at last, in desperation, beat
him savagely about the head, when he sprang up
and bolted away.
" ' But the delay caused by this incident had
nearly been fatal. The fire had rapidly gained
head, the air became hot, and the smoke almost
stifling, the flames raged fiercely with terrific roar,
and for a moment we hesitated whether we should
not abandon all and make for the river. But we
took courage, snatched up hatchet and pail once
more, and as each tree fell and patches of moss were
extinguished we began to hope.
" ' While we were thus busily engaged in our
frantic exertions it occurred to us that our friend Milton and Cheadle
Mr. O'B. had hitherto given us no assistance, and,
looking round, descried him still seated where we
had left him, feebly tugging at a boot which he
appeared to have great difficulty in pulling on.
We shouted to him, for God's sake, to come and
help us, or we should all be burnt to death. He
replied, in a doubtful, uncertain manner, that he
was coming directly, when he had got his boots on.
Roused at length by our fierce objurgations, and
struck by the suggestion that he would burn as
easily with his boots off as when properly shod, he
ran up, trembling and bewildered, bringing a tardy
and ineffectual assistance in the shape of half-
pints of water in his little tin mug! Gradually,
however, we succeeded in cutting off the fire, which
still raged fiercely away from us, recovered our
horses, and found that even the one which had
caused us such anxiety was not seriously injured,
although singed all over, and much burnt about
the legs.' The Assiniboine was absent at the time
looking for the trail, and the woman and boy had
gone down to the river to wash some clothes.
" The next day they reached the Athabaska.
The river was at the height of the summer flood,
its waters turbid, deep, and rapid. They learned
from the Indians that it was called Mistahay Shakow
Seepee, or the Great River of the Woods, to distinguish it from the Saskatchewan, the Mistahay
Paskwow Seepee, or Great River of the Plains.
They followed up the bank, and presently got their
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On the Old Athabaska Trail
first view of the Rocky Mountains. Guarding one
side of the gateway through which they were to pass,
they could see that singular rock Roche Miette,
\ somewhat like the half of a sponge-cake cut
vertically.' Continuing their way up the river-
valley, they travelled through thick timber, marshes/
and boggy ground, pleasantly varied occasionally by
beautiful park-like oases of an acre or two in extent.
I That evening they camped on a tiny prairie,
rich with vetches in full bloom. Although it was
the 26th of June, frost set in keenly during the
night, and water left standing was frozen. Mr. O'B.,
who persisted in wearing boots in preference to
moccasins, found them frozen so hard that they
were compelled to delay the start until they could
be thawed out. The next day at noon they reached
a very picturesque little lake, circular in shape,
and shut in on every side by lofty mountains, with
rugged, precipitous sides. A solitary loon, resting
alone on the surface of the lake, sent forth its
melancholy wail, and added to the wildness of the
I The following day at noon they came to the
foot of Roche Miette. They saw many fresh tracks
of mountain sheep or big-horn, the mouton gris
of the voyageurs, mouton blanc being the mountain
goat. Cheadle and the Assiniboine went hunting,
while the rest followed the steep trail over the spur
of the mountain that came down to the water's
edge.   ' On every side a succession of peaks towered Milton and Cheadle
up, of strange fantastic shape. To the west the
Priest's Rock (Roche de Smet), a pyramid of ice,
shone brightly above a dark, pine-clad hill.'
" On the farther bank of the river, between the
two lakes, they could see, like a mere speck in the
valley below, the little wooden building of Jasper
House. They arrived opposite the fort on the
29th, and found it uninhabited. It was surrounded
by a low palisade, and stood in a perfect garden of
wild flowers, making a wonderful picture against
the background of dark green pines.
" Cheadle tells the story of their big-horn hunt.
They ] clambered up the crags close to the Roche a
Myette, following the tracks of the mouton gris.
Along narrow ledges of a precipice of limestone
rock, up to a giddy height, the hunters struggled on,
breathless and their legs aching with the exertion of
climbing such as they had long been strangers to,
without catching sight of a big-horn.
" When they had ascended seven hundred or
eight hundred feet, they espied a mountain goat
feeding quietly, along with a kid by its side, a few
hundred yards in advance. Making a long detour,
and going higher yet, to get above the animal, they
crawled cautiously along to the point where they
had last seen the goat, and, peering over the edge
of a rock, saw its face looking upwards, about
twenty yards below. The rest of the body was
hidden by a projecting stone, and Cheadle fired at
the forehead.
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On the Old Athabaska Trail
I The animal tumbled over, but got up again
bewildered, making no attempt to escape. The
Assiniboine now got a sight of the shoulders and
fired, when the animal scrambled away, with difficulty, a short distance. They quickly followed, and
found it almost dead. Having no more ball, the
Assiniboine killed the kid with a charge of shot.
On going up to the game, it appeared that the first
shot had merely struck the frontal bone, close to the
root of the horn, which it tore off without further
damage; but the shock had so stunned the beast
that it was unable to move away.
" The hunters pushed the goat and kid over the
precipice, and scrambled down after it. Looking
up at the precipice from below, it seemed as if not
even a goat could find footing, and Cheadle wondered
he had ever dared to venture there.
I The following day, and still keeping close to the
river, they reached I a beautiful little prairie, surrounded by fine hills green almost to their summits,
and overtopped by lofty, snow-clad peaks. . . .
The prairie was richly carpeted with flowers, and a
rugged excrescence upon it marked the site of the
old Rocky Mountain Fort, Henry's House. The
track, leaving the valley of the Athabaska at this
point, turned toward the north-west, and entered a
narrow rocky ravine, the valley of the River Myette.'
" They camped that night on the banks of a small
stream, which the Iroquois told them was named
Pipestone River.   The fifth day after leaving Jasper Milton and Cheadle
House they were surprised to come upon a stream
flowing to the westward. They had unconsciously
crossed the continental divide. The morning of the
14th of July brought them to the Grand Fork of
the Fraser, ' the original Tete Jaune Cache, so called
from being the spot chosen by an Iroquois trapper,
known by the sobriquet of the Tete Jaune, or Yellow
Head, to hide the furs he had obtained on the
western side.'
" Here is a fine bit of description of one of the
most magnificent views in the mountains, with
which we may appropriately enough take leave of
Viscount Milton and Dr. Cheadle :
" * The situation is grand and striking beyond
description. At the bottom of a narrow, rocky
gorge, whose sides were clothed with dark pines,
or, higher still, with light green shrubs, the boiling,
impetuous Fraser dashed along. On every side the
snowy heads of mighty hills crowded round, whilst,
immediately behind us, a giant among giants, and
immeasurably supreme, rose Robson's Peak. This
magnificent mountain is of conical form, glacier-
clothed, and rugged. When we first caught sight
of it a shroud of mist partially enveloped the summit,
but this presently rolled away, and we saw its upper
portion dimmed by a necklace of light, feathery
clouds, beyond which its pointed apex of ice, glittering in the morning sun, shot up far into the blue
heaven above. ... It was a glorious sight, and
one which the Shuswaps of The Cache assured us
1 2l6
On the Old Athabaska Trail
had rarely been seen by human eyes, the summit
being generally hidden by clouds.'
" It's a pity," said the Warden, " that Robson's
not in Jasper Park. The park boundaries end at
the continental divide, and Robson, of course, lies
over on the British Columbia side. Add Robson
and the wonderful peaks that he about it to Jasper
and you'll have about the finest national park in
the world."
" That will come in time,'J I said, " like a good
many other things. To change the subject, did you
ever hear of the Earl of Southesk ? "
" Not that I know of. Who was he, and what
has he to do with the Athabaska Trail and the
Rockies?"       |       | I        1     i|
" Well, not much to do with the Athabaska Trail,
but a good deal to do with the Rockies. His only
connection with the Athabaska is that he travelled
along some of its tributaries, but he got pretty well
up into the heart of the mountains, and wrote a
very entertaining book about his experiences,
Saskatchewan and the Rocky Mountains,
" He followed pretty much the same route as
Hector and Milton and Cheadle from Fort Edmonton
as far as the McLeod, but then, instead of continuing
on to the Athabaska and Jasper House, he turned
up the McLeod and the Embarras to a point between
the upper waters of the Athabaska and the Brizeau,
climbed a mountain which he named Southesk's
Cairn, and then worked south through the mountains Milton and Cheadle
to the Bow River and Old Bow Fort, and back by
the Red Deer and Battle Rivers to Edmonton.
This was in 1859, a few years before the journey of
Milton and Cheadle.
I He suffered a good deal crossing the prairies in
July, and we find him jotting down his bitter
reflections in his diary. ' I hate the very sight of
these popular prairies, because they swarm with
mosquitoes, which always abound in long grass. My
joy is a vast sandy plain, broken with bluffs, and
carpeted with short, crisp, yellow-brown turf. There
game abounds, and the abominable fly scarcely dares
to show his proboscis. Well may the Evil One be
called Baal-zebub—the god of flies! '
" Southesk felt the peculiar charm of desert places,
far from the haunts of man, a charm that a good
many of us feel for a time, though most of us are not
self-sufficient enough to be content to lead a hermit
existence indefinitely. We like to get back to our
fellows. ' Never,' he says, ' have I known the cry
of any wild animal that had not something pleasing
in its cadences, when heard in a solitary desert place,
where the din of man's life is far away, where nothing
reveals itself to the eye or ear but is touched with the
adorable melancholy of loneliness.'
I glanced at the Warden, who prefers his lonely
cabin to all the joys of civilization, and he nodded
I Southesk spent some time at Fort Edmonton,
enjoying the characteristic hospitality of the officers
I 2l8
On the Old Athabaska Trail
of the Hudson's Bay Company, and with eyes and
ears alert to many things that were new to him in
the life of the far West. He had a horse called Lane,
whom nobody seemed able to manage but a French
half-breed, George Kline, j It was a study to watch
this man's tactics (when it became necessary to
catch Lane), how he walked round and round the
wary old animal, bent half double and making the
most extraordinary movements, till at length Lane
grew so puzzled that he forgot to run away, while
the active Frenchman slipped nearer and nearer,
then suddenly threw a line over the horse's head,
and secured him in an instant.'
| They travelled from Edmonton to St. Ann, and
not far from that place were met by Mr. Moberly,
who was making his way from Jasper House, where
he had until lately been officer in charge."
These successive journals supply one with material
for a fragmentary history of that interesting old
post on the Athabaska; at least we have a fairly
complete list of the men of the North West Company
and the Hudson's Bay Company who had charge
of either the old post or the new from its original
I At St. Ann Southesk had the pleasure of dining
with Peres Lacombe and Le Frain, and found them
' agreeable men and perfect gentlemen.' He adds
that\ everything at the mission house is wonderfully
neat and flourishing; it is a true oasis in the desert.
The cows fat and fine, the horses the same, the dogs, Milton and Cheadle
the very cats, the same. A well-arranged and well-
kept garden, gay with many flowers, some of them
the commonest flowers of the woods and plains,
brought to perfection by care and labour. The
house beautifully clean ; the meals served up as in a
gentleman's dining-room. Excellent preserves of
service-berries and wild raspberries—everything
made use of and turned to account.'
" Crossing the Pembina and ascending the McLeod,
Southesk found himself at last well up in the mountains, and gloried in the unfamiliar scenes. He had
all an artist's appreciation of novel effects. I Just
before I had been struck with admiration at the
sombre loveliness caused by the streaming of the
sun's rays through a great stretch of burnt pine
forest. All the tall trees were standing up like jet-
black masts, and the glorious light gleamed like silver
on the quivering surface of the river, gilded the
sable stems wherever it touched them, and played in
dancing spots over the long grass, and on the low
undergrowth of poplars—destined in course of years
to fill the place of the for ever blighted wood.'
" When he got his first glimpse of the main range,
he could only gaze at its far-off, mysterious splendour
speechless, i The Rocky Mountain range stretched
along the horizon far as the eye could reach. . . .
Too remote to display any smaller modulations, they
rose flat against the blue sky, themselves all steeped
in a soft mellow grey from summit to base. . . .
With feelings almost too deep for utterance, I turned
1 220
On the Old Athabaska Trail
to Antoine, hoping to find in him some sympathetic
response. His eyes gleamed and sparkled as they
met mine; with a pleasant smile, he pointed first
to the nearer hills, then to the grand range that
stretched far beyond : ■ Monsieur Milord/ said he,
with impressive earnestness, (il n'y a pas des moutons
ici ; mais la bas—ah ! '
" Southesk was kind to his horses, and took keen
interest in their individual characteristics. What
he says of one of them called Jasper must sound
familiar to every man who has ridden mountain
trails. \ Jasper was an admirable horse for this work.
He cared nothing for muskegs, however deep and
bad; even when sinking in a swamp he would take
the opportunity to snatch a bite of grass if his nose
got near enough to the surface. Greediness was one
of his faults. Sometimes, while drawing himself
over a log, he would stop half-way, and begin eating
a tempting mouthful that happened to he handy.
He was very gentle and quiet; I never knew him
fidgety, except once, when a wasp stung him.'"
" That fellow Jasper must have been an ancestor
of your horse," remarked the Warden, with a grin.
" Without doubt," I replied, remembering many
exasperating moments on the trail.
" Southesk on his climbs came to know the
whistling marmots ; ! siffleurs whistling with their
clear, bell-like, melancholy notes—quisquis-su the
Crees call them.' He found a certain amusement
in experimenting with novel foods,   ■ For the first Milton and Cheadle
time I had the pleasure of eating that most delicious
meat, siffleur, which tastes like very delicate mutton,
with the fat of a sucking-pig.' And elsewhere
he says, I Had beaver-tail for supper—like pork fat
sandwiched between layers of Finnan haddock.' "
I He's welcome to his beaver-tail," said the
I Here, again, is a picture of one of their camps in
the mountains, j We made an enormous fire of logs.
Nothing could exceed the beauty of the pine and firs
as displayed by the light of our flaming pyramid.
Even the grass showed a strange ruddiness mingled
with its quiet green, and the eyes of the horses,
wandering on the banks above us, shone like little
stars rising and setting amidst deepest shades.'
" I think we may leave him, as he turns south
from the Cairn, on his way to the Bow. j Changes
of temperature are very sudden in these elevated
valleys. At noon we were hiding from the burning
sun ... in the evening trembling in the icy wind
. . . but there are no mosquitoes, so welcome cold,
heat, wind, rain, fog, anything, if only these
tormentors are cut off !
;  }>
| About time," remarked the Warden, " that we
made tracks for home.    I'm getting hungry."
So am I."
Got any more Athabaskan pilgrims in your bag? "
he asked, as we walked back to the cabin.
I One more," I replied, " the Fleming expedition
of 1872, the story of which is told by George Munro
Grant in Ocean to Ocean. This journey was made
in connection with the settlement of the route of
the Canadian Pacific Railway through the Rockies,
and as a result of it Fleming was confirmed in his
view that the Yellowhead Pass was the most practicable route. For political reasons, and very much
against Fleming's wishes, the Dominion Government finally selected the Kicking Horse route.
Fleming's judgment has since been confirmed by
the building of two transcontinental railways through
the pass he had selected for the Canadian Pacific,
with grades far more economical than the best the
Canadian Pacific can ever hope to obtain by way of
the Kicking Horse. However, that's neither here
nor there. All that we are interested in is Grant's
story of the journey of 1872. I'll tell you something about it after supper."
222 " Ocean to Ocean "
We got ourselves something to eat in the cabin,
and afterwards found comfortable spots to lie on,
while I went on with the story of the 1872 trip.
I The party," I said, " consisted, in addition to
Fleming and Grant, of the famous botanist John
Macoun, Dr. Arthur Moren of Halifax, Fleming's
son, and Charles Horetzky, an old H.B.C. man, who
acted as photographer. Macoun and Horetzky,
however, left the others at Fort Edmonton and went
up to the Peace River country. The others were
bound for the Athabaska. We may pick them up
at Edmonton.
" They arrived there August 27 th. Hardisty,
who was still stationed there, gave them a warm
welcome. No time was lost, and they got off the
following day, driving to St. Ann's and picking
up their outfit there. Grant was introduced to
the white-fish of the lake, which he found tasted
like the famous shad of the Bay of Fundy, without
the number and intricacy of the latter's bones. \ It
is an infinite toil to eat shad, but with white-fish a
man may abandon himself to the simple pleasure
of eating.'
" The pack-animals got their loads, and they
were off for the mountains. Speed being an object,
they dispensed with tent, extra clothing, tinned
meats, books, and, in fact, everything that was not
absolutely necessary, and thus brought the horses'
loads down to about a hundred and thirty pounds.
At St. Ann's they took leave of the last Hudson's
M r,
H 224
On the Old Athabaska Trail
Bay Company's officer they were to meet until
they were well into British Columbia, and Grant
seizes the occasion to express their appreciation
of the company's unfailing hospitality. A
hospitality, as he says, that was extended to all
who claimed it, to the hungry Indian and the
unfortunate miner, as well as to those who bore
letters of recommendation. I It was on such a scale
as befitted a great English corporation, the old
monarchs, and still the greatest power in the country.'
| They passed the remains of several sweating-
booths, and Grant explains the method. I They
are,' he says, f the great Indian natural luxury,
and are to be found all along the road, or wherever
Indians live even for a week. There was scarcely
a day this month that we did not pass the rude,
slight frames. At first we mistook them for small
tents. They are made in a few minutes of willow
wands or branches, bent so as to form a circular
enclosure, with room for one or two inside. The
buffalo robe is spread over the framework so as to
exclude the air as much as possible, and whoever
wants a Russian bath crawls into the round, dark
" ' A friend outside then heats some large stones
to the highest point attainable, and passes them
and a bucket of water in. Those inside pour the
water on the stones, steam is generated, and on
they go pouring water and enjoying the delight of
a vapour bath,  till they are almost insensible.' " Ocean to Ocean "
Grant adds that Dr. Hector thought the practice
an excellent one, as regards cleanliness, health, and
pleasure. His own view was that the Indians
carried it to an extreme that utterly enervated
them. However that may be, it is certain that
the practice was common to a great many widely
scattered tribes of Indians, and that it, like many
other things that appear to have been derived from
the whites, existed long before white men had
come in contact with the natives.
" They ran, like their predecessors over this route,
into some pretty heavy country before they reached
the Athabaska—'Crashing through windfalls or steer-
' ing amid thick woods round them, leading our horses
across yielding morasses or stumbling over roots,
and into holes, with all our freshness we scarcely
made two miles an hour, and that with an expenditure of wind and limb that would soon have
exhausted horse and man.' The Pembina and the
McLeod were crossed in due course. On the banks
of the latter they found an almost obliterated record
left on a spruce-tree by the party of prospective
gold-diggers who had gone through this way to the
Cariboo country shortly before Milton and Cheadle.
All that remained of the inscription was the date,
I August 10th, 1862,' one or two names, the suggestive words ■ for Cariboo,' and the equally iUurninating
remark * a hard road to travel.'
" They tried a short cut on the McLeod, and
found, as one usually does, that the established trail
Pt 226 On the Old Athabaska Trail
is best—the longest way round is the shortest way
home. In struggling across the creeks \ the difference between the Lowland Scot and the Frenchman
came out amusingly. Brown continued imperturbable no matter how the horses went. Beaupre, the
mildest-mannered man living when things went
smoothly, could not stand the sight of a horse
floundering in the mud. Down into the gully he
would rush to lift him out by the tail. Of course,
he got spattered and perhaps kicked for his pains.
This made him worse, and he had to let out his
excitement on the horse. Gripping the tail with his
left hand, as the brute struggled up the opposite
hill, swaying him from side to side as if he had
been tied to it, he whipped with his right, sacre-mg
furiously till he reached the top. Then, feeling that
he had done his part, he would let go and subside
again into his mildest manners.'
I Grant pays a strong tribute to the merits of
pemmican. \ It is good and palatable uncooked and
cooked, though most prefer it in the richaud form.
It has numerous other recommendations for campaign diet. It keeps sound for twenty or thirty
years, is wholesome and strengthening, portable,
and needs no medicine to correct a tri-daily use of it.
Two pounds weight, with bread and tea, we found
enough for the dinner of eight hungry men. A bag
weighing a hundred pounds is only the size of an
ordinary pillow, two feet long, one and a half wide,
and six inches thick.    Such a bag would supply at». >e
fywtwS),!,,.,- _.—
HE W.   ". :. . .....'
three good meals to a hundred and thirty men.'
" The doctor one evening tried his hand at a
plum-pudding. The principal ingredient was pem-
mican. To this was added flour and water, baking
soda, sugar, and salt. A flavouring extract was
still needed, and the doctor searched his medicine
chest hoping to find ginger. In default of that he
suggested chlorodyne, but that was vetoed, on the
ground that if they ate the pudding they would
probably need the chlorodyne later. The pudding
was put in the sugar-bag, and popped into the pot.
There it remained for two hours, but was then found
to be merely boiled pemmican, to the doctor's
chagrin. Fleming suggested more boiling, and the
additional half-hour worked like a charm. It was
a real pudding at last, and, with a little brandy and
sugar as sauce, was highly appreciated.
" September 9th they had their first glimpse of
the Athabaska, and reached its banks soon after.
While making camp that evening one of the men
struck something metallic that blunted the edge of
his axe. Feeling with his hand, he drew out from
near the root of a young spruce-tree an ancient
sword-bayonet, the brazen hilt and steel blade in
excellent preservation, but the leather scabbard half
eaten as if by the teeth of some animal, i It seemed
strange in this vast and silent forest wilderness thus
to come upon a relic that told, probably, of the old
days when the two rival fur companies armed their
agents to the teeth, and when bloody contests often
1 228
On the Old Athabaska Trail
took place between them.' The bayonet was presented to Fleming as a relic of the Athabaska, and
I remember seeing it hanging up in his hall in
Ottawa many years ago.
| The next day they had their first sight of the
mountains. * There was no ambiguity about these
being mountains, nor about where they commenced.
The fine was defined, and the scarp as clear, as if
they had been hewn and chiselled for a fortification.
The summits on one side of the Athabaska were
serrated, looking sharp as the teeth of a saw; on
the other, the Roche a Myette, immediately behind
the first fine, reared a great solid, unbroken cube,
two thousand feet high, a forehead bare, twenty
times higher than Ben An's ; and, before and beyond
it, away to the south and west, extended ranges with
bold summits and sides scooped deep, and conies
far down, where formerly the wood-buffalo and the
elk, and now the moose, big-horn, and bear find
shelter. There was nothing fantastic about their
forms. Everything was imposing. And these, too,
were ours, an inheritance as precious, if not as plentiful in corn and milk, as the vast, rich plains they
guarded. For mountains elevate the mind, and
give an inspiration of courage and dignity to the
hardy races who own them, and who breathe their
" The morning of September nth they crossed
Fiddle River. The trail had run for a time among
wooded hills.    • Suddenly it opened out on a lakelet, " Ocean to Ocean "
and right in front a semi-circle of five glorious mountains appeared, Roche a Perdrix on our left, Roche
a Myette beyond, Roche Ronde in front, a mountain above Lac a Brule on our right (Boule Roche).'
He also mentions a high, wooded hill on the left near
Roche a Perdrix. Three of them were so near and
towered up so bold that their full forms, even to the
long shadows on them, were reflected clearly in the
lakelet, next to the rushes and spruce of its own
shores. | Here is scene for a grand picture equal
to Hill's much admired painting of the Yo Semite
Valley.' 1
1 The road now dropped rapidly from the summit
of a wooded hill that they had reached to the valley
of the Athabaska. f As it wound from point to
point among the tall, dark green spruces, and over
rose-bushes and vetches, the soft blue of the mountains gleamed through everywhere, and when the
woods parted the mighty column of Roche a Perdrix
towered a mile above our heads, scuds of clouds
kissing its snowy summit, and each plication and
angle of the different strata up its giant sides boldly
and clearly revealed. We were entering the magnificent Jasper portals of the Rocky Mountains by a
quiet path winding between groves of trees and
rich lawns like an English gentleman's park.'
I They stopped again beside the Fiddle to drink a
health to the Queen out of its clear ice-cold waters,
and halted for dinner in a grove on the other side,
thoroughly excited and awed by the grand forms
¥ I
ii 1
y 230
On the Old Athabaska Trail
that had begirt their path for the last three hours.
They felt that they could now sympathise with the
daft enthusiast who returned home after years of
absence, and, when asked what he had as an equivalent for so much lost time, answered only, ' I have
seen the Rocky Mountains.'
I They were now inside the range, in a valley that
was ever opening and revealing new mountain
forms. | Roche Ronde was to our right, its stratification as distinct as the leaves of a half-opened book.
The mass of the rock was limestone, and what at a
distance had been only peculiarly bold and rugged
outlines were now seen to be the different angles and
contortions of the strata. And such contortions!
One high mass twisting up the sides in serpentine
folds, as if it had been so much pie-crust; another
bent in great waving lines like petrified billows.
1 \ The colouring too was all that artist could
desire. Not only the dark green of the spruce in the
conies, which turned into black when far up ; but
autumn tints of red and gold as high as vegetation
had climbed on the hillsides ; and above that streaks
and patches of yellow, green, rusty red, and black
relieving the grey masses of limestone ; while up the
valley every shade of blue came out according as
the hills were near or far away, and summits hoary
with snow bounded the horizon.'
" Grant describes Roche De Smet (or Roche
Suette as he calls it) as f a vast mass like a quadrilateral rampart, with only two sides of the square " Ocean to Ocean
visible, the sides furrowed deep, but the line of the
summit unbroken.' But to him the most wonderful
object was Roche Miette, right above them on their
left. I That imposing, sphinx-like head, with the
swelling Elizabethan ruff of sandstone and shales
all around the neck, save on one side where a corrugated mass of parti-coloured strata twisted like a
coil of serpents from far down nearly half way up
the head, haunted us for days. Mighty must have
been the forces that upreared and shaped such a
monument. Vertical strata were piled on horizontal,
and horizontal again on the vertical, as if nature had
determined to build a tower that would reach to
the skies.'
" The following day they rode on to Jasper House,
arriving exactly fifteen days after leaving Edmonton.
This included two Sundays, when they did not travel.
Jasper House in 1872 was all but abandoned by the
Hudson's Bay Company. There remained two log
houses, the largest propped up before and behind
with rough shores, ' as if to prevent it being blown
away into the river or back into the mountain
gorges.' The houses were untenanted, locked and
shuttered. Twice a year an agent came up from
Edmonton to trade with the Indians of the sunound-
ing country and carry back the furs. The modest
glory of Jasper House had departed 1
" This, as Grant remarks, is one of the best
possible places for seeing to advantage the mountains
up and down the valley.    ' A score of miles to the
\ 232 On the Old Athabaska Trail
south Pyramid Rock gracefully uplifts its snowy
face and shuts in the valley, the space between being
filled by the mountains of Rocky River and the
great shoulders of Roche Jacques. . . . There is a
wonderful combination of beauty about these mountains. Great masses of boldly defined rock are
united to all the beauty that variety of form, colour,
and vegetation give. A noble river, with many
tributaries, each defining a distinct range, and a
beautiful lake ten miles long, embosomed three
thousand three hundred feet above the sea, among
mountains twice as high, offer innumerable scenes
seldom to be found within the same compass for the
artist to depict and for every traveller to delight in.'
" The trail led them along the borders of Jasper
Lake, every mile revealing new features of the landscape to excite their admiration. Toward the west
end of Jasper a lakelet, separated from the main
lake by two nanow, pine-clad ridges, | presented in
its dark-green waters, that reflected the forest, a
striking contrast to the light, sunny grey of the larger
lake reflecting the sky.' Beyond the lake they rode
up a valley ' closed at the head by a great mountain,
so white with snow that it looked like a sheet
suspended from the heavens.' This peak is now
called Mount Edith Cavell. It was then known to
the voyageurs as La montagne de la grande traverse,
as it stood at the parting of the ways, where one road
led up to Athabaska Pass and the other to Yellowhead Pass. c«
Ocean to Ocean "
" Grant gives a different derivation, to that
mentioned before, of the name of Snaring River. It
was so called, he says, because this was a famous
place in the olden time for trappers. It was made
memorable to this party because of the danger they
experienced in crossing it. The water was high, and
the bed was full of large, round boulders, such as we
met with fording the north branch of the Whirlpool.
Beaupre f took some pemmican in his pocket as a
precaution, in case all hands but himself were lost.'
Notwithstanding the omen, they all managed to
struggle across, though the water was up to the
horses' shoulders and they stumbled repeatedly.
" They had just unpacked the horses for the noon
meal, when a Shuswap Indian rode up, with a note
for Fleming from one of the Canadian Pacific survey
engineers, Walter Moberly, who had been ordered to
meet him at Jasper House, but had been delayed.
Valad spoke to the Indian in Cree, and Beaupre in
French, but he was from the Pacific side, and only
shook his head. Then Brown addressed him in the
Chinook jargon, and he answered at once. Asked if
his party had enough food, he replied, \ Oh ! hy-iu,
muck a muck ! Hy-iu iktahs I (Lots of grub ! Lots
of good things!)
" They camped that night somewhere below the
mouth of the Maligne, and the next morning rode on
to the point where the Miette joins the Athabaska,
opposite the site of Henry House. They found the
going excellent, ' passing for four or five miles over
«f 234
On the Old Athabaska Trail
beautiful little prairies, which had not yet been
touched by the frost, and on which grew the bunch-
grass that horses prefer to any other feed—and for
the next two or three miles through small and
middling-sized pines, so well apart from one another
that it was easy to ride in any direction. . . . The
highest mountains that we had yet seen showed this
morning away to the south in the direction of the
Athabaska Pass and the Committee's Punchbowl.
Our road led westward up the Myette, and, as the
Athabaska here sweeps away to the south, under
the name of Whirlpool River, the turn shut out from
view for the rest of our journey both the valley and
the mountains of the Whirlpool.'
" As they were about to turn up the Miette they
were overtaken by Moberly, who had ridden on in
advance of his men. He had taken a different
trail at Snaring River, and so had missed Fleming's
party, but, running into the track of their horses
later, had sent back the Indian to make enquiries.
Moberly had organised large provision trains on
the British Columbia side, and had brought them
up on pack-horses to Boat Encampment. From
there they were to be taken over Athabaska Pass
to the Athabaska Valley, to afford autumn and
winter supplies to the survey-parties.
" There is an incident in Milton and Cheadle,
the finding of the headless body of an Indian under
circumstances that made it difficult to account for
the tragedy.   This headless Indian story, and the " Ocean to Ocean
almost incredible Mr. O'B., had led a good many
readers of Milton and Cheadle's book to discredit
the whole narrative as a bit of fiction. Grant says,
however, that not only did they find both stories
verified, or rather the story of the headless Indian
and the reality of Mr. O'B., but the accounts of the
country and the tale of their own difficulties were
as truthfully and simply given as it was possible
for men who travelled in a strange country to make
them. Grant heard enough at Fort Edmonton
about Mr. O'B. to prove that his characteristics
were not exaggerated.
I Just a few words about Moberly. Some years
ago he wrote a pamphlet on the Early History of
the Canadian Pacific Railway. It is largely controversial, but it contains also some particulars of
the expedition refened to by Grant. Moberly
followed a different route from that usually adopted
from the Columbia. \ We ascended,' he says, j and
crossed over the high mountain spur that rises to
a great elevation between the waters of the Columbia
and those of the Wood or Portage River, and made
in as direct a line as possible for the Athabaska
Pass, between Mounts Brown and Hooker. This
line of travel we took in order to avoid the long
way by the valley of the Columbia to the Boat
Encampment, and tfience by the old trail of the
North-West Fur Company of Montreal by the
valley of the Wood River to the foot of Mount
1 236
On the Old Athabaska Trail
Moberly found this a very difficult and uncomfortable route, but finally made his way to the
summit by way of the Grande Cote. ' Found the
trail of the old fur-traders going up the steep mountain, and then we camped and cooked a porcupine
which we found at this place.' The next morning
he climbed up to the summit, and shot two fine
caribou beside the Committee's Punchbowl. As
his moccasins had been worn out by the climb, he
camped there and made new ones out of the green-
hide, and dried and smoked some of the meat for
provisions. Then he left the old Athabaska route,
and, travelling along the easterly side of Mount
Brown, crossed a high ridge (Canoe Pass), and,
following a well-beaten caribou trail, camped beside
a small spring ' that is the true source of the Fraser
River.' Moberly eventually made his way by this
route—that does not seem to have been followed
before or since—to Yellowhead Lake, where he
found one of the survey-parties encamped.
1 Moberly also has something to say about this
expedition in his official report on the Canadian
Pacific surveys of that year. ' I reached the Yellowhead Pass,' he says, * on September 6th. This
mountain trip was rather arduous, as we were
obliged to cross the summits of five distinct ranges
varying from six to eight thousand feet in height.
My object in taking this course was to travel by
the Athabaska Pass to Henry House, and thence
westward by the Caledonian and Fraser valleys. " Ocean to Ocean "
<t t
I arrived at the Athabaska Pass, at the foot
of Mount Hooker, in nine and a half days. On
ascending to the height of land, a wide, grassy
depression at a height of six thousand five hundred
feet above sea-level connects the valley of the
Whirlpool and probably the Canoe Rivers. I went
down and explored the right bank of the Athabaska
and Jasper Lake to the lower end of the rocky point
that projects from the Roche a Miette, about two
miles below Jasper Lake.'
I Moberly's associate, Hall, was at the same time
surveying the route through Athabaska Pass, and
reported very severe weather at the Committee's
Punchbowl. The cold, snow, and want of feed had
so weakened the horses that they could be kept
no longer at the height of land, and were moved
down to Prairie des Vaches. It will not surprise
anyone who has been there to learn that Hall reported
the valley of the Whirlpool as utterly unfit for
I A story is told in connection with the Canadian
Pacific Railway surveys in the valley of the
Athabaska that is not without a spice of humour,
though the victims must have found it supremely
uncomfortable. It appears that a party of surveyors were working near what is now Pocahontas.
They got very wet crossing the river, it was late in
the season, and they were reduced pretty much to
what they had on. It was important that their
clothes should be dried as quickly as possible.   A
I 1 238
On the Old Athabaska Trail
happy thought came to one of them. Lumps of
coal were lying near thg shore. Some of these were
gathered, a fire made in the tent, and the wet
clothing hung over it to dry, while the shivering men
ran up and down to keep themselves warm. The
inevitable, of course, happened. The coal-fire, confined within the tent, set fire to the canvas, and in a
moment tent and clothing went up in smoke. The
unfortunate surveyors had to quickly improvise
clothing of sorts from a quantity of old sacking they
were lucky enough to have with them." CHAPTER XIV
In the morning we packed, and taking leave of the
cabin and its delightful surroundings, returned down
the trail to Jasper. There I took leave of my friend
the Warden, with very sincere regret on my part,
and I hope on his. I had found him a rare companion on the trail and in the camp, ready to talk
or listen, equally ready to smoke in understanding
silence. He was one of that type of Englishmen
that has made England the greatest colonising
nation the world has known—men who are temperamentally restless and unhappy in cities, who must
for ever be seeking some untravelled country or
unfrequented road. These men are the world's
pioneers, scouts of civilisation. They have much
in common with Daniel Boone and the frontiersmen,
Chapdelaine and his fellows of the north country.
The essential difference is that they are often, like
the Warden, men of broad education, men of more
spacious horizons, who, themselves shunning civilisation, nevertheless unconsciously prepare the way
for civilisation. The Warden would, of course,
reject as absurd the idea that he had been in any
sense a factor in the building up of the British
Commonwealth, in his varied services as a soldier in
« I
339 240
On the Old Athabaska Trail
South Africa, as a civil official on the West Coast,
as a prospector in the interior of the Guianas, as an
adventurer in the oil-fields of Mexico and the gold-
fields of Alaska, and as one of the guardians of a
national park in the heart of the Rockies; but it is
none the less true. And it is a fortunate circumstance for the British Commonwealth that, more than
any other country, it breeds men of this type to
carry the traditions of their race into every remote
corner of the world.
This Jasper Park, of which my friend is one of the
wardens, is a region of many wonders. I had the
opportunity in 1913 of seeing one or two corners of
it, at a time when it was still practically in its natural
state, and particularly the wonderful district around
Maligne Lake, and that equally splendid area just
outside the present park boundaries in the neighbourhood of Mount Robson. Since then a great
deal of excellent work has been done, in the building
of roads and trails and bridges, the development of
a system of fire protection, and the conservation of
wild life. As hotels were bound to come, for the use
of thousands of people who are not happy except
under a roof, it is at least fortunate that those in
authority had the good taste to build on the shores
of Lake Beauvert an inn and a group of cottages that
do not clash with their wild and extraordinarily
picturesque setting.
The old Athabaska trail ran through the very
heart of what is to-day Jasper Park, as did also that Jasper Park
later trail that led up the Miette to Yellowhead Pass
and down into New Caledonia. Four thousand four
hundred miles of mountain and valley, glittering
peak and pine-clad slope, snowfield and glacier and
waterfall, waving forest and verdant plain, emerald
lake and roaring tonent, alpine meadow and sombre
gorge—these are some of the elements of Jasper Park,
one of the splendid national playgrounds that Canada
has set apart for the use of the public. As Sir Conan
Doyle says in his Memories and Adventures, | When
Canada has filled up and carried a large population,
she will bless the foresight of the administrators who
took possession of broad tracts of the most
picturesque land and put them for ever out of the
power of the speculative dealer.'
One enters the park from the east not far from
the lower end of Brule Lake, where old Jasper
House once stood. Near the other end of the lake
Fiddle River falls into the Athabaska from the
south. Trails lead to the three deep gorges of
Fiddle River, as well as to the hot springs on Sulphur
Creek, one of its tributaries. The springs have
been used for many years because of their medicinal
value, but are now rather off the main track, as
tourists for the most part make Jasper their headquarters. They are supposed to have been discovered by Indians many generations ago, and in
the days of the fur trade a series of circular pools
was built of boulders and sulphur rock.   The upper
pool is extremely hot, but the temperature becomes
11 242
On the Old Athabaska Trail
more moderate in the second, and the lower pool
is quite comfortable. In fact, wThen I was there
in 1913 we spent a good deal of our time in the lower
pool. As a matter of fact, there was nothing much
else to do.
About half a mile from Pocahontas, on the railway
through the park, is a singular and picturesque
little waterfall known as the Punchbowl. The
rock has been worn into the form of a huge bowl
or goblet, and into this the water of Mountain Creek
falls in a filmy ribbon. On the west side of the
river trails lead to Boule Roche and Ogre Gorge,
to Roche a Bosche and Roche Ronde, up Moose-
horn Creek, Ronde Creek, Coronach Creek, and
Snake Indian River. By following Snake Indian
River to Twin Tree lake, and ascending the Smoky
River to its source in Adolphus Lake, one finds
oneself on the continental watershed, in the midst
of a group of gigantic peaks of which Robson is the
unquestioned king. Here are Whitehorn and
Resplendent, Gendarme, Mumm, and Lynx, while
a little farther north rise Calumet and Pamm, and
a score more of giants of the Rockies.
Starting again from Pocahontas, on the east side
of the Athabaska, one may climb Roche a. Perdrix
or Roche Miette, or follow the trail up Rocky River,
under the towering cliffs of Miette to the three-
hundred-feet gorge. By way of the Rocky River
trail one may reach Jacques Lake, where trout are
so plentiful and so ravenous for bait that the wildest mt-
I  Jasper Park
of fishermen's yarns become sober realities. From
Jacques Lake one may continue on to Medicine
Lake, and either return down the Maligne to Maligne
Gorge and the Athabaska a few miles below Jasper,
or continue on to Maligne Lake, which for sheer loveliness has hardly a peer in the Rockies or elsewhere.
But by all odds the most wonderful trip that
the visitor to Jasper Park can take is to the Tonquin
Valley. One might exhaust his supply of superlatives without giving any adequate idea of the
magnificence of the country that surrounds the
Tonquin. The trail leads up Whistlers Creek to
Amethyst Lake, near the south end of the valley.
Imagine a vast minor in whose richly coloured
depths are reflected green meadows and hillsides
clothed in green forest, dazzlingly white glaciers
and snowfields, and the vast precipices of the
Ramparts frowning darkly and menacingly from
above. From the Tonquin Valley one gazes with
awe upon a bewildering circle of gigantic peaks,
Dungeon and Redoubt and Fraser, Erebus and
Eremite and Thunderbolt, Postern, Bastion, Turret,
Geikie, and a dozen more, while farther to the west
he Barbican, Portcullis and Fitzwilliam, and on the
other side, toward the Athabaska, that most stately
and beautiful peak, Edith Cavell. A good trail
leads to Cavell Lake at the foot of the mountain,
and the Glacier of the Ghost, and before long this
will be transformed into a motor road—which may
or may not be a matter for congratulation.
Qt* 244
On the Old Athabaska Trail
Jasper Park, considering its youth—it was set
apart by Order in Council in 1907—is remarkably
well supplied with trails, and these are being rapidly
extended year by year. One of the larger projects
that has been under consideration is the building
of a practicable trail down through the heart of the
mountains from Jasper to Banff. This would be
a fairly expensive piece of work, but does not present
any very serious difficulties, and would afford an
extraordinarily interesting route. As a matter of
fact, experienced mountaineers have been making
the trip for several years, without encountering
any unusual difficulties. Trails already extend from
Jasper both up the Athabaska and the Sunwapta
and by way of Maligne Lake, to the Brazeau River,
which forms the boundary of Jasper Park. These
trails would have to be improved, and extended
through the intervening forest reserve to Rocky
Mountain Park. It is even one of the possibilities
of the future that a motor highway will be built
from Banff and Louise north to Jasper.
One of the attractions of any national park is,
of course, the presence within its boundaries of
wild animal life. Nothing is more extraordinary
to the visitor tfian the way in which wild animals
learn that these parks are sanctuaries where they
are safe from the gun of the hunter. For years
the tameness of the bears in the Yellowstone, and
of the big-horn and mountain goats at Banff, have
astonished those who had not previously visited Jasper Park
these parks. The same thing is happening in
Writing in 1914, Sir Conan Doyle said, " The park
is not as full of wild creatures as it will be after a
few years of preservation. The Indians who lived
in this part rounded up everything that they could
before moving to their reservation. But even now
the bear lumbers through the brushwood, the eagle
soars above the lake, the timber-wolf still skulks
in the night, and the deer graze in the valleys.
Above, near the snow-line, the wild goat is not
uncommon, while at a lower altitude are found the
mountain sheep. On the last day of our visit
the rare cinnamon bear exposed his yellow coat
upon a clearing within a few hundred yards of the
village (Jasper). I saw his clumsy, good-humoured
head looking at me from over a dead trunk, and I
thanked the kindly Canadian law which has given
him a place of sanctuary. What a blood-thirsty
baboon man must appear to the lower animals !
If any superhuman demon treated us exactly as we
treat the pheasants, we should begin to reconsider
our views as to what is sport."
Since Sir Conan Doyle wrote, wild animals of
many varieties have multiplied in the park or have
emigrated to it from less protected regions. With
the exception of the grizzly, who occasionally proves
troublesome, these animals are perfectly harmless,
and their increasing tameness makes it possible to
study  them  at  close  range,  which  under  other
• 246
On the Old Athabaska Trail
conditions would be out of the question. No
doubt in time the list of animals will be increased
by bringing in some of the superabundant buffalo
from Wainwright. The narratives of early travellers
prove that a hundred years ago buffalo made their
home in what is now Jasper Park, and grazed in the
meadows along the Athabaska.
Speaking of wild animals, J. Alden Loring, of the
United States Biological Survey, who visited what
is now Jasper Park in 1895 and 1896, has many
interesting things to say about the animals he found
there, and among others he upsets the popular
idea as to the extreme shyness and wariness of
mountain sheep. In studying their habits, he
found that they frequented the higher craggy
mountains with grassy slopes, descending to salt-licks
during the summer. They were stupidly tame,
did not really scent an enemy, and on being approached retreated in a leisurely manner and with
It was difficult, very difficult, to tear oneself away
from Jasper Park and the Old Athabaska Trail, and
I felt as I climbed aboard the train like echoing
the words of Sir Conan Doyle, in those verses that
he calls so happily " The Athabaska Trail" :
My life is gliding downwards: it speeds swifter to the day
When it shoots the last dark canyon to the plains of far away.
But while its stream is running through the years that are to be,
The mighty voice of Canada will ever call to me. Jasper Park
I shall hear the roar of rivers where the rapids foam and tear,
I shall smell the virgin upland with its balsam-laden air,
And shall dream that I am riding down the winding, woody vale
With the packer and the pack-horse on the Athabaska trail.
I have passed the warden cities at the eastern water-gate,
Where the hero and the martyr laid the corner-stone of State,
The habitant, coureur-des-bois, and hardy voyageur—
Where lives a breed more strong at need to venture or endure ?
I have seen the gorge of Erie, where the roaring waters run,
I have crossed the Inland Ocean, lying golden in the sun,
But the last and best and sweetest is the ride by hill and dale
With the packer and the pack-horse on the Athabaska trail.
I'll dream again of fields of grain that stretch from sky to sky,
And little prairie hamlets where the cars go roaring by,
Wooden hamlets as I see them—noble cities yet to be,
To girdle stately Canada with gems from sea to sea;
Mother of a mighty manhood, land of glamour and of hope,
From the eastward, sea-swept Islands to the sunny Western
Evermore my heart is with you, evermore till life shall fail,
I'll be out with pack and packer on the Athabaska trail.
Since my return to the east I have had word of
two of my companions on the Athabaska Trail—
the Warden and the uncertain-sexed Highbrow.
The Warden writes from the Valley of the Whirlpool,
toward the end of November, a very valley of
desolation to anaemic sons of the town at that
season of the year, but he apparently is happy and
contented, needing no companionship amid those
mighty solitudes where the mastodon surely ought
to roam. Out on the trail, or at home in his snug
cabin with his pipe and a book or two, the Warden
is sufficient unto himself.
He writes not of himself, however, but of another
companion of the trail. " You remember," he
says, | the little Roman-nosed bay pony of such a
determined disposition—used to be Highbrow, but
I have re-christened her Margot—well, she eventually
won the battle, according to her lights. She broke
her head-stall, in the Tonquin Valley, and beat it
back to Jasper. Tried, evidently, to take the bunch
with her, but the other horses refused for once to
follow, though they were loose at the time. She
arrived in Jasper all right, but just in time to be
sent out on a three weeks' jaunt along the northern
boundary of the park with a heavy pack.    And
248 Postscript
that seems to have soured her disposition permanently." Poor little Margot Highbrow! He or
she is learning by sad experience that wilfulness does
not always pay, but, on the contrary, sometimes
seems to possess the disconcerting characteristics
of a boomerang.
Without attempting to offer an exhaustive list of printed
material relating to the Athabaska Pass and the Athabaska
route, the following may be of interest to those who care to go
more deeply into the subject:
David Thompson's Narrative of his Explorations in Western
America, 1784-1812. Edited by J. B. Tyrrell. (Toronto:
Champlain Society, 1916.)
New Light on the Early History of the Greater North-west.
Manuscript journals of Alexander Henry and David Thompson.
Edited by Elliott Coues.    (New York : Francis P. Harper, 1897.)
Narrative of a Voyage to the North-west Coast of America,
1811-14. By Gabriel Franchere. Translated and edited by J. V.
Huntington. (New York: Redfield, 1854.) Reprinted in the
series of Early Western Travels edited by Dr. R. G. Thwaites.
(Cleveland : Clark, 1904.) The French original was published at
Montreal in 1820, and is now exceedingly rare.
Adventures on the Columbia River, including a " Narrative of
Six Years' Residence on the Western Side of the Rocky Mountains," together with a 1 Journey across the American Continent."
By Ross Cox. (London: Colburn and Bentley, 1831.) (New
York: Harper, 1832.)
Fur-hunters of the Far West. A narrative of adventures in the
Oregon and Rocky Mountains. By Alexander Ross. (London :
Smith Elder, 1855.) | |
Journal kept by David Douglas during his Travels in North
America, 1822-27.    (London: William Wesley & Son, 1914.)
York Factory Express. By Edward Ermatinger. (Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, 1912.)
Life, Letters, and Travels of Father Pierre-Jean De Smet, S.J.,
1801-73.    (New York : Harper, 1905.)
Sketches in North America and the Oregon Territory, By H. J.
Warre.   (London: 1849.)
250 Bibliographical Note
Wanderings of an Artist among the Indians of North America.
By Paul Kane.    (London: Longmans, 1859.)
The Journals, Detailed Reports, and Observations relative to the
Explorations by Captain Palliser of that Portion of British North
America which in Latitude lies between the Northern Branch of the
River Saskatchewan and the Frontier of the United States, and in
Longitude between the Red River and the Rocky Mountains, during
the Years 1857, I^58, I859> an^ i860.    (London: 1863.)
The North-west Passage by Land. By Viscount Milton and
W. B. Cheadle.    (London: 1865.) £      1      £.
Saskatchewan and the Rocky Mountains. By the Earl of
Southesk.    (Edinburgh: Edmonston & Douglas,  1875.)
Ocean  to   Ocean.   Sandford   Fleming's   expedition   through
Canada in  1872.   By George M. Grant.    (London: Sampson
Low, 1873.)
Overland to Cariboo. By Margaret McNaughton. (Toronto:
1896.) I I
Peace River. A canoe voyage from Hudson's Bay to the
Pacific, by the late Sir George Simpson, in 1828. Journal of the
late Chief Factor Archibald McDonald, who accompanied him.
Edited by Malcolm McLeod.    (Ottawa: 1872.)
History of the Canadian Pacific Railway. By Walter Moberly.
(n.p., n.d.)
Reports of the Canadian Pacific Railway for 1872 and 1873.
The Canadian Rockies : New and Old Trails. By A. P. Coleman.
(Toronto: Henry Frowde, 1912.)
Climbs and Explorations in the Canadian Rockies. By Hugh
E. M. Stutfield and J. Norman Collie.    (London: Longmans,
Among the Canadian Alps. By Lawrence J. Burpee. (New
York: Lane, 1914.)
The Rockies of Canada. By Walter D. Wilcox. (New York :
Putmans, 1909.)
Old Indian Trails. By Mary T. S. Schaffer. (New York:
Putmans, 1912.)
" The Whirlpool" (1913). By Geoffrey E. Howard and A. L.
Mumm.   Canadian Alpine Journal, vol. vi., 1914 and 1915.
sxT 252
Bibliographical Note
" New Light on Mounts Brown and Hooker." By E. W. D.
Holway and James White. Canadian Alpine Journal, vol. ix.,
" Characteristics of Passes in the Canadian Rockies." By
R. W. Cautley. Canadian Alpine Journal, vol. xii., 1921 and
f The Location of Mounts Brown and Hooker." By A. O.
Wheeler.    Canadian Alpine Journal, vol. xii., 1921 and 1922.
The Yellowhead Pass Route from Edmonton to Tete Jaune Cache,
By James McEvoy. (Reports of the Geological Survey of Canada.
1898.) I     I 1
Trails, Trappers, and Tenderfeet. By Stanley Washburn.
(New York, 1912.)
1 The Monarch of the Canadian Rockies." By Charles D.
Walcott.   National Geographic Magazine, May, 1913.
On the Grizzly Bear, Mountain Goat, Mountain Sheep and
other mammals—see Life Histories of Northern Animals. By
Ernest Thompson Seton. (New York, 1909.) Also Camp-fires,
in the Canadian Rockies. By William T. Hornaday. (New
York, 1906.)
On the Flora of the Athabaska country, see Mountain Wild
Flowers of America. By Julia W. Henshaw. (Boston : Ginn,
1906.) Also Alpine Flora of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. By
Stewardson Brown.    (New York : Putmans, 1907.)
The Overland Journey of the Argonauts in 1862.    By F. W.
Howay.    (Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, 1919.)
The Pioneers of Jasper Park. By D. B. Dowling. (Transactions
of the Royal Society of Canada, 1917.)
Place-Names in the Rocky Mountains. By James White.
(Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, 1916.)
"Place-Names in the Vicinity of Yellowhead Pass." By
James White.    Canadian Alpine Journal, 1914-15.
"A Search for Mount Hooker and Mount Brown." By
J. Norman Collie.    Geographical Journal, London, 1899.
"Mount Brown and the Sources of the Athabaska." By A. P.
Coleman.   Geographical Journal, London, 1895.
m Bibliographical Note
Expeditions to the Pacific. By Sir Sandford Fleming. (Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, 1889.)
Maps : The Map of the Central Part of Jasper Park, issued by
the Department of the Interior of Canada, is useful for the
Athabaska River from Athabaska Falls down to the foot of
Brule* Lake. For the Whirlpool River and Athabaska Pass, the
best and practically the only available maps are Sheets 26, 27,
and 27a of the Inter-provincial Boundary Commission Surveys.
Of interest also is David Thompson's map, reproduced in facsimile
in the Champlain Society's edition of his Narrative.
#:- Y< INDEX
Adolphus Lake, 242
Alberta, Mount, 149
Amethyst Lake, 243
Antelope, 35
Assiniboine Indians, 175
Astor, John Jacob, 70, 76
Astoria, 72, 81, 82, 83
Athabaska, Mount, 148
Athabaska Pass, 11, 26, 27, 44, 66,
70, 71-2, 75, 76, 84-5, 101,
120-3, 130-2, 138, 141-61, 162,
169, 179, 191, 201, 232, 234,
235, 237
Athabaska River, 12, 55, 56, 58, 73,
85, 88, 105, 132, 134, 138, 142,
145, 161, 171, 203, 211, 225,
227, 233
Athabaska route, 12, 55, 125, 199,
216, 236, 240-1
Banff to Jasper Trail, iio
Barbican Peak, 243
Barrett, R. L., 145
Bastion Peak, 243
Battle River, 217
Bear-skins, 36—7
Bear stories, 16-18, 37-8, 55, 206-8,
Beauvert, Lake, 240
Beaver, 81
Beaver, 52, 163, 221
BeUanger, Andre\ 88
Bibliographical note, 250-3
Big-horn.   See Mountain Sheep
Black Bear, chief, 51
Blackfeet Indians, 32-44, 97, 163-5
Blazes, 12, 142, 151, 197
Blood Indians, 52
Boat Encampment, 71, 72, 101, 119,
137,   172,   174,  183,  185,  189,
195, 197. 199, 234
Boat Encampment Pass, 169
Boule Roche, 12, 229, 242
Bourgeois, 112-14
Bow River, 46, 216
Brazeau River, 53, 216, 244
Brown,    Mount,    11,    22,    130-2,
140-61, 198, 236
Bruce, Mount, 148
Brule\ Lake, 58, 106, 123, 167, 180,
194, 229, 241
Bryce, George, 197
Buffalo, 46, 57, 59, 60, 203, 228, 246
" BuUdog " fly, 13, 21
Calder, William, 152
Calumet Mountain, 242
Camp des Vaches, 137, 138
Campment de Cardinalle, 138
Campment du Fusil, 102, 138, 189
Campment de Regnelle, 189
Campment    d'Orignal,    122,   133,
137, 138, 139, 189
Campment du Roches, 197
Canadian Pacific Railway, 222, 237
Canoe Pass, 22, 236
Canoe River, 71, 72, 87, 237
Capote Blanc, 182
Cardinal Jacques, 133, 134
Cariboo goldfields, 199
Carlton House, 135
Casanov, 185
Cassetetes, 138
Cautley, R. W., 71
Cavell Lake, 243
Cheadle, W. B., 199-221
Chinook jargon, 233
Clarke, John, 89, 99
Coleman,  A. P.,   141-4,  147,  148,
149, 150, 153
Collie, J. N., 144, 146, 148, 149
Columbia, Mount, 149
Columbia Pass, 169
Columbia River, 35, 56, 57, 70, 72,
83, 86, 91, 185
Columbia River Indians, 92-6
Committee's Punchbowl, 11, 20, 21,
26, 84, 121, 132, 140-2, 142-3,
149,   157,   159,  160,  167,  184,
198, 234, 237
255 256
Concomly, chief, 185, 186
Cook, Captain Thomas, 80
Coronach Creek, 242
Cox, Ross, 17, 18, 36, 64, 91-108,
160, 175
Coyotes, 23
Cumberland House, 28-9, 134, 135
Dallas, A. J., 197
Dawson, George M., 141
Dease, J. W., 137
De Smet, Pierre Jean, 162-177
Dog train, 59, 65, 70, 192-3, 197
Dorion's wife, 83, 175
Douglas,  David,  11,  125,  126—39,
Douglas Mount, 149
Doyle, Sir Conan, 241, 245, 246
Drummond, Thomas, 134, 135, 136
Ducoigne, Francois, 88, 106
Dungeon Peak, 243
Edith Cavell, Mount, 232, 243
Embarras River, 216
Erebus Peak, 243
Eremite Peak, 243
Ermatinger, Edward, 111, 127, 135,
136, 137, 138
Ermatinger, Francis, 170
Evans, Peak, 15, 133, 151
Falkland Islands, 78-80
Fiddle Creek, 167, 228, 229, 241
Fire-making, 186
Fitzwilliam Mountain, 243
Flag ceremony, 49
Flathead Indians, 97, 98, 185
Flathead River, 17
Fleming, Sir Sandford, 222—38
Forbes, Mount, 146
Fort Assiniboine, 124, 135, 162,1671
179, 190
Fort Augustus, 172
Fort Edmonton, 179, 190, 191,192,
195, i98> 200, 203,216,218, 223
Fort Garry, 203
Fort George, 83, 91
Fort La Reine, 187
Fort Vancouver, 126, 127, 137, 170,
185, 195
Fort Vermilion, 89
Fort Walla Walla, 186
Fort William, 73
Fortress Lake, 145, 146, 157, 158
Franchere, Gabriel, 27, 75—90, 91,
106, 160
Franklin, Sir John, 134—5
Fraser, Colin, 168, 169, 179, 180-2,
Fraser, Simon, 90
Fraser Peak, 243
" Freemen," 27, 124
Freshfield, Mount, 146, 147
Fur brigade, 83, 91, 195-6
Fur-trade life, 112—19
Geikie Mountain, 243
Gendarme Peak, 242
Geographic Board, 157, 160
Giant of the Rocks, 122
Glacier of the Ghost, 243
Grand Batteur, 122, 133, 136, 139,
Grand Traverse, 190
Grande Cote,   101,   120,   130,   136,
138, 173, 184, 189, 236
Grant, George Munro, 222-38
Grizzly bears, 55, 57, 60, 63, 200,
206-8, 245
Hallet and the " Cariole," 89
Hardisty, W. L., 197, 200, 223
Harriott, John E., 172
Hawse, Jasper, 106
Headless Indian, 234
Hearne, Samuel, 28
Hector, Sir James, 191—8
Henry, Alexander, 27, 45, 51, 53, 56,
Henry House, 27, 72, 73, 85, 87, 88,
105, 122, 123, 124, 133, 134,
137. l3&, 139. 214, 233, 236
Henry, J., 27, 85
Henry, William, 27, 53, 54, 58, 71
Highbrow, 21, 25, 248—9
Holmes the tailor, 86
Holway, E. W. D., 154, 155
Hooker, William Jackson, 125
Hooker Icefield, 15 Index
Hooker, Mount, 21, 131-2, 140-61,
198, 237
Hoole, Jacques, 100-1
Horetzky, Charles, 223
Howard, Geoffrey E., 149-52
Howse Pass, 35, 44, 45, 55-6
Hudson's Bay Company, 28, 29, 52,
53, 88, 107, in, 124, 152, 154,
172, 193, 218, 224
Huntington, J. V., 76
Ile a la Crosse Fort, 107
He a la Crosse Lake, 106
Indian customs, 186-8, 224-5
Inter-provincial Boundary Survey,
143, 157, 160
Irving, Washington, 80
Isaac Todd, 82
Jacques Lake, 242
Jasper, 12, 150, 241, 243
Jasper House, 12, 86, 87, 88, 106,
123, 124, 134, 135, 137, 139,
167,  168,  174,  181,  182,  190,
I93>   *94>  x96,   198,  199,  201,
203, 214, 216, 218, 231, 241
Jasper Lake, 106, 123, 194, 232, 237
Jasper Park, 12, 109, 216, 239-47
Kalispel Lake, 171
Kane, Paul, 174, 178-90
Kane Glacier, 21
Kane, Mount, 132
Kettle Falls, 72
Kicking Horse Pass, 191, 222
Kline, George, 218
Klyne, 124
Kootenas Appee, 32, 34, 38-44
Kootenay House, 38, 41, 44, 51
Kootenay Indians, 33-44, 97
Kootenay Pass, 122
Kootenay Plain, 51
Kwaragwante, Louis, 167
Lacombe, Pere, 192, 193, 200
Lake St. Albans, 200
Lake St. Ann's, 203, 218, 223
Lapensee, Olivier, 88, 89
Larocque, Joseph Felix, 81, 123
La Rouge's Prairie, 190
La Row's Prairie, 182
Le Blanc, Baptiste, 17
Le Frain, Pere, 218
Liquor in the fur trade, 30, 47, 49,
52, 53
" Lob-sticks," 174
Loring, J. Alden, 246
Louisson, 17
Lynx, 196
Lynx Mountain, 242
Macaulay, 201
McDonald, Archibald, 168
McDonald of Garth, John, 68,  86,
87, 121
M'Gillivray, William, 101
M'Gillivray's Rock, 11, 20, 67, 85,
101, 144, 158, 159, 160
McKenzie, Donald, 135
McLeod, Malcolm, 169
McLeod River, 208, 216, 219, 225
McLoughlin, Dr. John, 126, 127
McTavish, J. G„ 82, 89-90
Macoun, John, 223
Maligne Gorge, 243
Maligne Lake, 243, 244
Maligne River, 167, 233, 243
Mammoth legends, 60-4
Marmots, 20, 220
Masson, L. R., 86
Mastodon Glacier, 64
Mastodon Mountain, 64
Medicine Lake, 243
Methye Portage, 106
Middle Whirlpool, 13
Miette River, 19, 27, 105, 138, 167,
175, 214, 233, 234, 241
Milton, Lord, 199-221
Missouri River, 46
Moberly, of Jasper House,  194-6,
Moberly, Walter, 233, 235-6
Moose Encampment, 133
Moosehorn Creek, 242
Moren, Arthur, 223
Mosquitoes, 13, 21
Mountain Creek, 242
Mountain goat, 35-6, 213-4, 244-5
Mountain sheep,  35,  59,  73.  196^
203, 212, 213, 220, 228,  244,
246 258
Mr. O'B., 202, 203, 204-5, 212, 235
Mumm, A. L., 149-52, 154
Mumm Peak, 242
Murchison, Mount, 141
Murray, James, 152
Musket-balls story, 71
New Caledonia, 137, 241
Nez Perce Indians, 164
Nipissing Indians, 27
Nootka Sound, 81
North West Company, 29, 36, 37,
70, 72, 76, 81, 82, 83, 85, 88,
107, in, 185, 193, 218, 235
Norway House, 168, 201
Ogden, Peter Skene, 107
Ogre Gorge, 242
Ohetity Bay, 81
Old Bow Fort, 217
Overlanders, 225
Resplendent Mountain, 242
Richardson, John, 134, 135
Robson, Mount, 215, 240, 242
Roche a Bosche, 242
Roche a Perdrix, 12, 229, 242
Roche de Smet, 162, 168, 195, 213,
Roche Jacques, 194, 232
Roche Miette,  8y,  105,
212, 213,
Roche Ronde, 180, 195, 229, 230,
Rocky Mountain House, 32, 51, 56,
57. 134, 172
Rocky Mountain Park, 244
Rocky Mountain Portage, 169
Rocky River, 167, 232, 242
Ronde Creek, 242
Ross, Alexander, 80
111-24, 175, 179
Ross Cox Creek, 122
Ross Cox Peak, 15, 151
Rowand, John, 172
Rundle, Robert, 175
Russian fur subsidy, 195
89, 98, iod.
Pacific Fur Company, 76, 98, 99
Pack-horses, 21, 22, 25, 220, 223
Palliser, Captain, 191
Pamm Mountain, 242
Park trails, 244
Peace River, 90, 203, 223
Pembina River, 57, 203, 219, 225
Pembrun, 201
Pemmican, 70, 138, 226
Piegan Indians, 32-44, 45~6, 54-5
Pillet-Montour duel, 86
Pipestone Creek, 148, 214
Platz, Mark, 71
Pocahontas, 237, 242
Porcupine, 163
Portullis Mountain, 243
Postern Peak, 243
Prairie des Vaches, 198, 237
Punchbowl, 242
Punchbowl Creek, 122
Pyramid Rock, 232
Raccoon, 82
Raven superstition, 93
Red Deer River, 217
Redoubt Peak, 243
Saint-Pierre, P. L. de, 187
Sakatow, 39—44
Salmon, 123
Sandwich Islanders, 91
Sandwich Islands, 80—z
Sarcee Indians, 52
Saskatchewan  River,  29,   46,  51,
195, 211
Scott Creek, 122
Scott Glacier, 15, 133
Scott Peak, 15, 133, 151
Selkirk Settlement, 112, 135
Semple, Governor, 107
Seton, Ernest Thompson, 62
Shuswap Indians, 182, 233
Si file ur Creek, 148
Simpson, Sir George, 68, 111, 119,
i35» *52, 168, 178, 179
Smallpox, 45
Smoking ceremony, 48, 98
Smoky River, 88, 242
Snake Indian River, 242
Snake Indians, 83
Snaring River, 167, 233, 234
Snow-shoes, 73, 130, 136, 171, iyt,
183, 184 '
Southesk, Earl of, 174, 216-21
\ Index
Southesk's Cairn, 216, 221
Stephens, Fred, 145, 149
Strathcona, Lord, 192
Stuart, John, 90
Stuart, Robert, 80
Stutfield, Hugh E. M., 147, 148
Sulphur Creek, 241
Sun Wapta River, 145, 244
Sweating-booths, 224
Swift, 150
Tamehameha, 81
Terre Blanche House, 51, 52
Thomas, Iroquois guide, 27, 58, 66,
Thompson, David, 11, 12, 26-7, 28,
29-30* 32-74. 81, 90, in, 147,
148, 154-6, 165
Thorn, Captain, 77—80, 81
Thunderbolt Peak, 243
Tobacco, 42, 47, 98-9, 118-19
Tonquin, 77-9, 80-1, 86
Tonquin Valley, 243
Trading customs, 47—50
Travelling in the fur trade, 112-15
Traverse du Trou, 102
Turnor, Philip, 28
Turret Peak, 243
Tuzo, Henry A., 152
Tuzo, Mount, 152
Twin Tree Lake, 242
Tyrrell, J. B., 29
Upper Dalles, 86
Vavasour, Captain, 171
Vermilion, 47
Voyageurs, 59, 65, 115-16, 181
Wainwright, 246
Walla Walla River, 91
Warre, H. J., 171
West Branch, Whirlpool, 24, 26
Wheeler, Arthur O., 157-8, 160
Whirlpool River, 12, 13, 20, 22, 23,
59,  85,  102-5,  !22,  132,  134,
138,  139,  142,  i44»  145.  149,
150,   167,   169,   189-90,   233,
237, 248
Whistler's Creek, 243
White, James, 155-6
White-fish, 123, 134, 223
Whitehorn Peak, 242
Whitman, Dr., 189
Wilcox, Walter D., 144-6, 148, 149
Wild horses, 35
Wilson, Mrs. J. A., 152
Windermere Lake, 35, 69
Winter camp, 184, 201
Wolverine, 71
Wood River, 72, 83, 101, 119-20,
146, 174, 185, 235
Yellowhead Lake, 236
Yellowhead   Pass,   137,   199,   215,
222, 232, 236, 241
York Factory, 28,  135,  137,  170,
195, 200     


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