Open Collections

BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

The Columbia River; or, scenes and adventures during a residence of six years on the western side of… Cox, Ross, 1793-1853 1832

Item Metadata


JSON: bcbooks-1.0222776.json
JSON-LD: bcbooks-1.0222776-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): bcbooks-1.0222776-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: bcbooks-1.0222776-rdf.json
Turtle: bcbooks-1.0222776-turtle.txt
N-Triples: bcbooks-1.0222776-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: bcbooks-1.0222776-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

V l
C *6tf
The party attacked by the natives at the Wallah Wallah river
—Two killed—Encamp on an island for safety—Indians demand two white men as a sacrifice—Arrival of a chieftain;
—His speech, and peace restored ... 1
Author and party lost in a snow-storm—Curious instance of
mental abstraction—Poor Ponto -Arrive at Spokan House
—A marriage — Great ravine — Agates — Hot-springs—
Kitchen-garden—Indian manner of hunting the deer—
Method adopted by the wolves for the same purpose—Horse-
racing—-Great heat       ......      25
Letter from Mr. Stuart—His account of New Caledonia—
Navigation of the Columbia obstructed by ice—Miserable
situation of the party daring the winter—Author frost-bitten—Amusements—Departure of Mr. Keith—His letters—
Author and party quit their winter encampment—Rapid
change of seasons*—Arrive at Fort George        .        .      44
vol. ii. a
Author placed in charge of Oakinagan—Erects new buildings
there—Musquitoes—Sagacity of the horses—Rattlesnakes
good food—Sarsaparilla—Black snakes—Climate—Whirlwinds—Handsome situation—Character of the tribe—Manner of trading—Extraordinary cures of consumption  .    68
Author nearly blinded by hawks—Foxes—Great number of
wolves—Their method of attacking horses—Lynxes—Bears
—Anecdote of a kidnapping bruin—Ingenious plan of getting off bear-skins—Account of the horses on the Columbia
—Great feat performed by one       .        .        .        .84
Letter from the proprietors—Author winters at Oakinagan—
Letter from Mr. Mackenzie—A number of horses stolen—
Successful Plan to recover them—Description of soil, climate,
productions, &c. of the lower part of the Columbia  .    102
Description of climate, soil, &c. above the rapids—Sketch of
various tribes—The Chohoptins—Yackamans—Oakinagans
of war—Cootonais—Kettle Indians—Kamloops, &c.     121
Ascent of the Columbia—Its lakes—Dangerous navigation—
High water—Arrive at the mountains—Melancholy detail
of the death of six of the party     • 142
Canoe Valley and River—Appearance of mountains—M'Gil-
livray's Rock—Dangerous situation of party on a raft—
Arrive at Rocky Mountain House—Volcanic appearances
—Animals, &c.—Indian tradition respecting the Mammoth
—Difference in size of trees   .        .        .       .        .162
Descent of the Athabasca River—Party disappointed in receiving provisions—Elk River and Lake—Join the brigade
from Lesser Slave Lake—Arrive at He a la Crosse—Dreadful effects of the. opposition between the North-West and
HudsonVBay Companies—Sketch of Mr. Peter Ogden 186
English river—Pass numerous lakes and rapids—Arrive at
Cumberland House—Saskachawaine river—Lake Winepic
—Aurora Borealis—River Winepic—Meet various parties
—Rainy Lake and Fort—Death of an Indian.        .       214
Leave Rainy Lake—Messrs. M'Gillivray and La Rocque—
Sketch of Messrs. Wentzel and M'Neill—Great falls of
the mountain—Description of Fort William, its inhabitants, &c. , 238
Enter Lake Superior—St. Mary's Falls—Sketch of Mr. Johnston—Lake Huron—French River—Lake Nipising—Arrive
on  the Ottawa—A  Back-woodsman—Chaudiere  Falls—
Hull—Longue Sault—Mr. Grant—Laughable mistake—
Mr. M'Donald Le Pr£tre—Mr. M'Gilles—Snyder's Tavern
—Lake of the Two Mountains—La Chine—Arrive at
Montreal      .        .        .        .       .        .        .        .    238
Sketches of the Canadian Voyageurs—Anecdote of La Libe
—-The Freemen, or Trappers—The Half-breeds—Anecdote
—Retired Partners—Josephine—Franc,aise—Amusing Letter—Iroquois Indians—Anecdote    ....    289
Coalition of the two Companies—New Caledonia—Description of the Chilcotins, Talkotins, &c.—Soil, produce, lakes,
rivers, animals, climates—Peculiarities of the natives—Suicides— Cruelty to relatives — Horrible treatment of prisoners—Sanguinary quarrels—Extraordinary ceremonies
attending the dead—Barbarities practised on widows, &c.—
Table of population        .        .        .        .        .        .313
The party attacked by the natives at the Wallah Wallah river
—Two killed—Encamp on an island for safety—Indians demand two white men as a sacrifice—Arrival of a chieftain j
—His speech, and peace restored.
On the 24th of October we proceeded overland
with the produce of the summer's trade to Oakinagan, where, being joined by the people of that
district, we embarked for Fort George, at which
place we arrived on the 8th of November.
There were few natives at the falls or rapids,
and they conducted themselves quietly. We examined the spot in which we had interred poor
L'AmoureuXy and found it untouched.    The low
vol. n.
state of the water at this advanced season caused
us to make a few decharges, which would not
have been necessary in the summer: it however
enabled us to shoot down the great narrows below the fall without taking out a pack. We remained only a few days at Fort George, from
which place we took our departure for the interior on the 18th of November.
We had eight canoes, and our party consisted
of Messrs. Keith. Stewart, La Rocque, M'Tavisb,
McDonald, M'Millan, M'Kay, M'Kenzie, Montour, and myself. We had fifty-four canoe-men,
including six Sandwich islanders. We passed
in safety the places where hostility was apprehended; and the day after we had passed the
falls, we threw by our leathern armour as no
longer necessary, and the men stowed their muskets into long cases, which were placed under the
trading goods in the bottom of the canoes.
On arriving a few miles above the entrance of
the Wallah Wallah river, at a place about equidistant between that and Lewis River, a number
of canoes filled with natives paddled down on our
brigade, apparently without any hostile design.
We were on the south side, and advancing slowly
with the poles. Mr. Keith was in the first canoe,
Mr. Stewart in the second, Messrs. La Rocque
and M'Millan in the third, Messrs. McDonald
and M'Kay in the fourth, M'Tavish and I in the
fifth, Montour in the sixth, M'Kenzie in the seventh, and Pierre Michel, the interpreter, in the
The Indians at first asked a little tobacco from
Mr. Keith, which he gave them: they then proceeded to Mr. Stewart, who also gave them a
small quantity ; after which they dropped down
on Messrs. La Rocque and McMillan, from
whose canoe they attempted to take some goods
by force, but were repulsed by the men, who
struck their hands with the paddles. They next
came to M'Donald, and seized a bale of tobacco
which was in the forepart of his canoe, which
they attempted to take out. At the same time
my canoe was stopped, as well as those in the
rear, and a determined resolution was evinced to
plunder us by force.
We were awkwardly circumstanced : the only
arms at hand were those in the possession of the
officers; and, with the exception of the paddles,
the men had no weapons ready. Anxious to
avoid coming to extremities, as long as possible,
without compromising our character, we endeavoured to keep them in check with the paddles;
but our efforts were unavailing, and some hard
blows were given and received. Still we refrained from the dernier resort, and Mr. Keith
b 2
gave orders not to fire while there was a possibility of saving the property. The fellow who
had seized the bale in McDonald's canoe, was a
tall athletic man: he resisted all their entreaties
to let it go, and had taken it partly out of the
canoe, when M'Kay gave him a severe blow with
the butt end of his gun, which obliged him to
drop the prize. He instantly placed an arrow in
his bow, which he presented at McDonald; but
the latter coolly stretched forth his brawny arm,
seized the arrow, which he broke, and threw
into the fellow's face. The savage, enraged at
being thus foiled, ordered his canoe to push off,
and was just in the act of letting fly another
arrow, when M'Kay fired and hit him in the
forehead: he instantly fell; upon which two of
his companions bent their bows; but before their
arrows had time to wing their flight M'Donald's
doubled-barrelled gun stopped them. He shot
one between the eyes, and the ball from the second barrel lodged in the shoulder of the survivor. 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. Orders were now issued
to such as had their arms ready, to fire ; but in
a moment our assailants became invisible. After
they had discharged their arrows, they had thrown
themselves prostrate in their canoes, which, drifting rapidly down the current, were quickly carried beyond the reach of our shot.
We lost no time in putting ashore for the purpose of arming the men, and distributing ammunition. The few Indians who were on our side of
the river fled on seeing us land, and those who
had gained the opposite bank fired several shots
at us; but, owing to the great distance, their
balls fell short. The Columbia at this place was
nearly a mile wide ; night was fast approaching,
and it was necessary to select a proper place for
an encampment, at which we might remain, until
measures should be adopted for bringing about a
reconciliation with the natives. A short distance
higher up in the centre of the river lay a narrow
island, about two miles in length, quite low, void
of timber, and covered with small stones and
sand. It was deemed the safest place to withstand an attack, or prevent a surprise; and orders
were therefore given to collect as much drift-wood
as possible on the main shore for the purpose of
cooking. This was speedily effected, after
which we pushed off; but had not proceeded
more than one hundred yards when several
arrows were discharged at us from the side we
had just left, although at the time we embarked no Indian was visible for miles around.
One man was slightly wounded in the neck, and
another rather severely in the shoulder: a few
of the arrows struck the canoes; but the greater
part did not reach us. We however gained the
island without further injury, and forthwith proceeded to intrench ourselves behind a line of
sand banks, by which we were effectually covered
from the range of the enemy's shot from either
The brigade was divided into three watches.
The night was dark, cold, and stormy, with occasional showers of rain. ^It was judged prudent to
extinguish the camp fires, lest their light might
serve as a beacon to the Indians in attacking us.
This precaution, although by no means relished
by the men, probably saved the party: for, about
an hour before day-break, several of the savages
were discovered close to the camp, which they
were silently approaching on their hands and feet;
but on being fired at by our sentinels they quickly
retreated, apprehensive of injuring each other in
the dark ; and shortly after we heard the sound
of their paddles quitting the island.
Our meditations this night were far from
pleasing; and when we reflected on the hopelessness of our situation, in the centre of a great
river, the natives on each side of which were
brave, powerful, and hostile ; pur numbers com-
paratively few, and the majority men in whose
courage we could not confide; added to which,
the impossibility of procuring the least assistance,
we almost despaired of being aole to join our
friends in the interior. We therefore made up
our minds for the worst; interchanged short notes
directed to such of our friends as we felt anxious
should know our fate, and resolved to sell our
lives dearly.
Shortly after day-break a council of war was
held; and after some discussion, we determined
to quit the island, demand a parley, and offer a   .
certain quantity of goods to appease the relations
of the deceased.
The only dissentient to a compromise was
o«r Highland friend McDonald, whose spirit
could not brook the idea of purchasing safety
from Indians.
It blew a strong gale during the day, which
prevented as from embarking, and constrained us
to pass another melancholy night on the island,
without wood sufficient to make a solitary fire.
Towards midnight the storm subsided; the sky
was dark, and not a star twinkled through the
gloomy atmosphere. Mr. Keith commanded the
second watch, and I was sitting with him at the
extremity of the camp, when we observed a large
fire on a hill in a north-west direction.    It was
immediately answered by one in the opposite point,
which was followed by others to the eastward and
westward; while the indistinct sounds of paddles
from canoes crossing and recrossing, afforded
strong proofs that our enemies, by vigilant watching, and constant communication, had determined
that we should not escape them in the dark.
Shortly after these threatening indications, a
flight of ravens passed quietly over our heads,
the fluttering of whose wings was scarcely audible. Some of the Canadians were near us, and
one of them, named Landreville, in rather a dejected tone, said to his comrades, % My friends,
it is useless to hope. Our doom is fixed : tomorrow we shall die."—" Cher frere, what do
you mean || eagerly inquired half-a-dozen voices.
(< Behold yon ravens," he replied; | their appearance by night in times of danger betokens
approaching death. I cannot be mistaken. They
know our fate, and will hover about us until the
arrows of the savages give them a banquet on
our blood."
Landreville in other respects was a steady
sensible man, but, like his countrymen, deeply
imbued with superstitious ideas. Mr. Keith saw
the bad impression which these ominous forebodings were likely to produce on the men, and
at once determined to counteract it.    This he
knew it would have been useless to attempt by
reasoning with people whose minds such absurd
notions would have. closed against conviction,
and therefore thought it better to combat their
prejudices with their own weapons. C( I have no
doubt, my friends," said he,§ that the appearance
of ravens at night portends either death or some
great disaster. We believe the same thing in
Scotland; the opinion prevails throughout all
Europe, and you have inherited it from your
French ancestors ; but at the same time I must
tell you, that no fatality is ever apprehended,
except their appearance is accompanied by croaking ; then indeed the most direful consequences
are likely to follow; but when their flight is calm
and tranquil, as we have just witnessed, they are
always the harbingers of good news." This well-
timed reply completely dissipated their fears, and
the poor fellows exclaimed, " You are right, sir,
you are right. We believe you, sir; you speak
reason. Courage, friends; there's no danger."
The morning of the 1st of December rose cold
and bright over the plains of the Columbia, as we
prepared to quit our cheerless encampment. The
voyageurs were all assembled by Mr. Keith, who
told them that every exertion consistent with
reason should be adopted towards effecting an
amicable arrangement; but that it was absolutely
necessary to show the savages a bold front, and
that while we tendered them the hand of peace,
we should make them feel that we were not influenced by the dread of war. He reminded
them of the many glorious deeds performed in
Canada by their gallant French ancestors, a few
hundreds of whom often defeated as many thousand Indians; and concluded by expressing a
hope that they would not degenerate from the
bravery of their forefathers. They replied by
three cheers, and declared themselves ready to
obey all his orders.
He next addressed the Sandwich islanders, and
asked them, would they fight the bad people, who
had attempted to rob us, in case it was necessary ? Their answer was laconic :<£ Missi Keit,
wTe kill every man you bid us." So far all was
satisfactory; and after having examined their
muskets, and given each man an additional glass
of rum, we embarked, and in a few minutes
reached the northern shore, where we landed.
Two men were left in each canoe; and the remainder of the party, amounting to forty-eight,
including all the known shades of humanity,
ascended the bank. None of the natives were
visible, and we remained about half an hour
undecided as to what course we should adopt,
when a few mounted Indians made their ap-
pearance at some distance. Michel, the interpreter, was sent forward alone, carrying a long
pole, to which was attached a white handkerchief, and hailed them several times without obtaining an answer.
They appeared to understand the import of
our white flag; and after a little hesitation two
of them approached, and demanded to know
what we had to say? Michel replied that the
white chiefs were anxious to see their chiefs and
elders, and to have a " talk " with them on the
late disagreeable affair. One of them replied
that he would inform his friends, and let us know
the result; upon which he and his companion
galloped off. They returned in a short time, and
stated that, the neighbouring chiefs, with the
friends and relatives of the men who had been
killed, would join us immediately.
In less than half an hour a number of mounted
Indians appeared, preceded by about one hundred and fifty warriors on foot, all well armed
with guns, spears tomahawks,, bows, and well
furnished quivers. They stopped within about
fifty yards of our party. Among them we recognized several of the Wallah Wallahs; but in
vain looked for our old friend Tamtappam, their
chief: he was absent.
A group of between thirty and forty equally
well armed now approached from the interior.
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, part of
which ran as follows:
" 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."
They took up their position in the centre;
and the whole party then formed themselves into
an extended crescent. Among them were natives of the Chimnapum, Yackaman, Sokulk,
and Wallah Wallah tribes. Their language is
nearly the same; but they are under separate
chiefs, and in time of war always unite against
the Shoshone or Snake Indians, a powerful
nation, who inhabit the plains to the southward.
From Chili to Athabasca, and from Nootka to
the Labrador, there is an indescribable coldness
about an American savage that checks familiarity. He is a. stranger to our hopes, our fears,
our joys, or our sorrows: his eyes are seldom
moistened by a tear, or his features relaxed by
a smile ; and whether he basks beneath a vertical
sun on the burning plains of Amazonia, or
freezes in eternal winter on the ice-bound
shores of the Arctic Ocean, the same piercing
black eyes, and stern immobility of countenance,
equally set at nought the skill of the physiognomist.
On the present occasion, their painted skin,
cut hair, and naked bodies, imparted to their
appearance a degree of ferocity from which we
boded no good result. They remained stationary for some time, and preserved a profound
Messrs. Keith, Stewart, La Rocque, and the
interpreter, at length advanced about mid-way
between both parties unarmed, and demanded
to speak with them; upon which two chiefs, accompanied by six of the mourners, proceeded to
join them. Mr. Keith offered them the calumet
of peace, which they refused to accept, in a
manner at once cold and repulsive.
Michel was thereupon ordered to tell them
that, as we had always been on good terms with
them, we regretted much that the late unfortunate circumstance had occurred to disturb our
friendly intercourse; but that as we were
anxious to restore harmony, and to forget what
had passed, we were now willing to compensate
the relations of the deceased for the loss they
had sustained.
They inquired what kind of compensation was
intended; and on being informed that it consisted of two suits of chiefs' clothes, with blankets,
tobacco, and ornaments for the women, &»c, it
was, indignantly refused; and their spokesman
stated that no discussion could be entered into
until two white men (one of whom should be
the big red-headed chief) were delivered to them
to be sacrificed, according to their law, to the
spirits of the departed warriors.
Every eye turned on M'Donald, who, on
hearing the demand,et grinned horribly a ghastly
smile:" and who, but for our interposition,
would on the spot have chastised the insolence
of the speaker. The men were horrified, and
" fear and trembling" became visible in their
countenances, until Mr. Keith, who had observed these symptoms of terrfbr, promptly restored their confidence, by telling them that such
an ignominious demand should never be complied with.
He then addressed the Indians in a calm, firm
voice, and told them that no consideration whatever should induce him to deliver a white man
to their vengeance; that they had been the ori-
ginal aggressors, and in their unjustifiable attempt
to seize by force our property, the deceased had
lost their lives : that he was willing to believe
the atfetck was unpremeditated, and under tfeat
impression he had made the offer of compensation. He assured them that he preferred their
friendship to their enmity; but that, if urfjrtu-
nately they were not actuated by the samefeel-
ings, the white men would not, however deeply
they might lament it, shrink from the contest.
At the same time he reminded them of our superiority in arms and ammunition; and that for
every man belonging to our party who might
fall, ten of their friends at least would suffer ;
and concluded by requesting them calmly to
weigh and consider all these matters, and to bear
in recollection, that upon the result of their deliberation would in a great measure depend whether white men would remain in their country,
or quit it for ever.
The interpreter having repeated the above, a
violent debate took place among the principal
natives. One party advised the demand for the
two white men to be withdrawn, and to ask in
their place a greater quantity of goods and ammunition ; while the other, which was by far the
most numerous, and to which all the relatives of
the deceased belonged, opposed all compromise,
unaccompanied by the delivery of the victims.
The arguments and threats of the latter gradually thinned the ranks of the more moderate;
and Michel told Mr. Keith that he was afraid an
accommodation was impossible. Orders were
thereupon issued to prepare for action, and the
men were told, when they received from Mr.
Keith the signal, to be certain that each shot
should tell.
In the mean time a number of the natives had
withdrawn some distance from the scene of deliberation, and from their fierce and threatening
looks, joined to occasional whispers, we momentarily expected they would commence an attack.
A few of their speakers still lingered, anxious
for peace; but their feeble efforts were unavailing when opposed to the more powerful influence
of the hostile party, who repeatedly called on
them to retire, and allow the white men to proceed on their journey as well as they could. All
but two chiefs and an elderly man, who had taken
an active part in the debate, obeyed the call,
and they remained for some time apparently
undecided what course to adopt.
From this group our eyes glanced to an
extended line of the enemy who were forming
behind them ; and from their motions it became
evident that their intention was to outflank us.
We therefore changed our position, and formed
our men into single files, each man about three
feet from his comrade. The friendly natives be
gan to fall back slowly towards their companions,
most of whom had already concealed themselves
behind large stones, tufts of wormwood, and
furze bushes, from which they could have taken
a more deadly aim; and Messrs. Keith and
Stewart, who had now abandoned all hope of
an amicable termination, called for their arms-
An awful pause ensued, when our attention
was arrested by the loud tramping of horses, and
immediately after twrelve mounted warriors
dashed into the space between the two parties,
where they halted, and dismounted. They were
headed by a young chief, of fine figure, who
instantly ran up to Mr. Keith, to whom he presented his hand in the most friendly manner,
which example was followed by his companions.
He then commauded our enemies to quit their
places of concealment and to appear before him.
His orders were promptly obeyed ; and having
made himself acquainted with the circumstances
that led to the deaths of the two Indians, and
our efforts towards effecting a reconciliation, he
VOL.   II. c
addressed  them in a  speech   of  considerable
length, of which the following is a brief sketch :—
I Friends and relations!    Three snows have
only passed over our heads since we were a poor
miserable people.    Our enemies the Shoshones,
during the summer, stole our horses, by which
we were prevented from hunting, and drove us
from the banks of the river, so that we could not
get fish.    In winter, they burned our lodges by
night;   they killed our relations; they treated
bur wives and daughters like dogs, and left us
either to die from cold or starvation, or become
their slaves.
u Th ey  were  numerous   and powerful;   we
were few, and weak.    Our hearts were as the
hearts of little children: we could not fight like
warriors, and were driven  like deer about the
plains.    When the thunders rolled, and the rains
poured, we had no spot in which we could seek
a shelter; no place, save the rocks, whereon we
could lay our heads.    Is such the case to day?
No, my relations! it is not.    We have driven
the   Shoshones   from  our hunting-grounds, on
which they dare not now appear, and have regained possession of the lands of our fathers, in
which they and their fathers' fathers lie buried.
We have horses and provisions in abundance,
and can sleep unmolested with our wives and our
children without dreading the midnight attacks
of our enemies. Our hearts are great within us,
afifd we are now a nation !
Ce Who then, my friends, have produced this
change ?    The white men.    In exchange for our
horses and for our furs, they gave us guns and
ammunition; then we became strong; we killed
many of our enemies,.and forced them to fly
from our lands.    And  are  we to treat those
who have been the cause of this happy change
with ingratitude ?    Never ! Never!    The white
people have never robbed us; and, I ask, why
should we attempt to rob them ?    It was bad,
very bad!—and they were right in killing the
robbers."    Here  symptoms of impatience  and
dissatisfaction became manifest among a group
consisting chiefly of the relations of the deceased;
on observing which,  he continued in a louder
tone : fj Yes ! I say they acted right in killing
the robbers; and who among you will dare to
contradict me?
6C You know well my father was killed by the
enemy, when you all deserted him like cowards;
and, while the Great Master of Life spares me,
no hostile foot shall again be set on our lands.
I know you all; and I know that those who are
afraid of their bodies in battle are thieves when
c 2
they are out of it; but the warrior of the strong
arm and the great heart will never rob a friend."
After a short pause, he resumed : §j My friends,
the white men are brave, and belong to a great
nation. They are many moons crossing the
great lake in coming from their own country to
serve us. If you were foolish enough to attack
them, they would kill a great many of you ; but
suppose you should succeed in destroying all
that are now present, what would be the consequence ? A greater number would come next
year to revenge the death of their relations, and
they would annihilate our tribe ; or should not
that happen, their friends at home, on hearing of
their deaths, would say we were a bad and
a wicked people, and white men would never
more come among us. We should then be reduced to our former state of misery and persecution ; our ammunition would be quickly expended ; our guns would become useless, and we
should again be driven from our lands, and the
lands of our fathers, to wander like deer and
wolves in the midst of the woods and plains. I
therefore say the white men must not be injured !
They have offered you compensation for the loss
of your friends : take it: but, if you should refuse, I tell you to your faces that I will join
them with my own band of warriors; and should
one white man fall by the arrow of an Indian,
that Indian, if he were my brother, with all his
family, shall become victims to my vengeance."
Then, raising his voice, he called out, " Let the
Wallah Wallahs, and all who love me, and are
fond of the white men, come forth and smoke
the pipe of peace !" Upwards of one hundred
of our late adversaries obeyed the call, and separated themselves from their allies. The harangue
of the youthful chieftain silenced all opposition.
The above is but a faint outline of the arguments he made use of, for he spoke upwards of
two hours ; and Michel confessed himself unable
to translate a great portion of his language, particularly when he soared into the wild flights of
metaphor, so common among Indians. His delivery was impassioned; and his action, although
sometimes violent, was generally bold, graceful,
and energetic. Our admiration at the time
knew no bounds; and the orators of Greece or
Rome, when compared with him, dwindled in
our estimation into insignificance.
Through this chief's mediation, the various
claimants were in a short time fully satisfied,
without the flaming scalp of our Highland hero ;
after which a circle was formed by our people
and the Indians indiscriminately : the white and
red chiefs occupied the centre, and our return to
friendship was ratified by each indivdiual in rotation taking an amicable whiff from the peace-
cementing calumet.
The chieftain whose timely arrival had rescued
us from impending destruction was called
te Morning Star." His age did not exceed
twenty-five years. His father had been a chief
of great bravery aud influence, and had been
killed in battle by the Shoshones a few years before. He was succeeded by Morning Star, who,
notwithstanding his youth, had performed pro?
digies of valour. Nineteen scalps decorated the
neck of his war horse, the owners of which had
been all killed in battle by himself to appease the
spirit of his deceased father. He wished to increase the nutnber of his victims to twenty; but
the terror inspired by his name, joined to the
superiority which his tribe derived from the use
of fire-arms, prevented him from making up the
desired complement, by banishing the enemy
from the banks of the Columbia.*
His handsome features, eagle glance, noble
bearing, and majestic person, stamped him one.
of Nature's own aristocracy; while, his bravery
* The Indians consider the attainment of twenty scalps as
the summit of a warrior's glory.
in the field, joined to his wisdom in their councils, commanded alike the involutary homage of
the young, and the respect of the old.
We gave the man who had been wounded in
the shoulder a chiefs coat; and to the relations
of the men who were killed we gave two coats,
two blankets, two fathoms of cloth, two spears,
forty bullets and powder, With a quantity of
trinkets, and two small kettles for their widows.
We also distributed nearly half a bale of tobacco
among all present,, and our youthful deliverer
Was presented by Mr. Keith with a handsome
fowling-piece, and some other valuable articles.
Four men were then ordered to each canoe,
and they proceeded on with the poles; while the
remainder, with the passengers, followed by land.
We were mixed pell-mell with the natives for
several miles : the ground was covered with large
stones, small willows, and prickly pears; and had
they been inclined to break the solemn compact
into which they had entered, they could have destroyed us with the utmost facility.
At dusk we bade farewell to the friendly chieftain and his companions, and crossed to the south
side, where we encamped, a few miles above
Lewis River, and spent the night in tranquillity.
It may be imagined by some, that the part we
acted in the foregoing transaction betrayed too
great an anxiety for self-preservation ; but when
it is recollected that we were several hundred
miles from any assistance, with a deep and rapid
river to ascend by the tedious and laborious process of poling, and that the desultory Cossack
mode of fighting in use among the Indians, particularly the horsemen, would have cut us off in
piece-meal ere we had advanced three days, it
will be seen that, under the circumstances, we
could not have acted otherwise.
We reached Oakinagan without further interruption on the 12th of December, at which place
we remained a few days, to recruit the men, and
prepare for the laqd journey with the horses.
Author and party lost in a snow-storm—Curious instance of
mental abstraction—Poor Ponto -Arrive at Spokan House
—A marriage — Great ravine — Agates — Hot-springs—
Kitchen-garden — Indian manner of hunting the deer—
Method adopted by the wolves for the same purpose—Horse-
racing—-Great heat.
On the 13th of December the Spokan brigade to
which I was attached took its departure from
Oakinagan. The party consisted, besides, of
Messrs. Stewart, M'Tavish, M'Millan, and Montour; with twenty rone Canadians, and four
Sandwich Islanders. We had twenty-six loaded
horses ; and in addition to our ordinary stock of
provisions, we purchased forty dogs from the
natives at Oakinagan, which were killed, after
we had crossed the river, and formed part of the
The cold was intense, and the ground covered
with ten to twelve inches of snow. This necessarily impeded our progress, and prevented us
from advancing more than twelve miles a day.
On the 16th, which was the fourth day of our
journey, it snowed incessantly. The line of
march  was long and straggling, and those  in
front were several miles in advance of the rear
division, of which I had charge with M'Tavish.
We had eight loaded horses, with four Canadians, and two Sandwich Islanders.
Towards evening a heavy storm arose from the
north-east, which added to the desolation by
which we were surrounded ; while the chilling
monotony of the wide and extended plains was
partially varied by immense masses of drifting
snow, which, like the fitful vapour that so often
enshrouds our northern mountains, occasionally
concealed from our view the cheerless extent
of the wintry horizon. On the approach of darkness the violence of the storm subsided; but it
was followed by one of those calm, clear, freezing
nights so common in the interior of America,
and from the death-benumbing influence of which
it is nearly impossible to avoid that sleep from
which many an unfortunate wanderer never
awakens. We were now completely bewildered;
all traces of the path had been destroyed by the
drift; the cold became every instant more painfully intense, and
Horsemen and horse confessed the bitter pang.
Three of the poor animals having at lengtfi given
up, we were reluctantly obliged to stop and unload  them;   and after searching,  in vain,  for
wood to make a fire, we were compelled to make
a large excavation in the snow, in which we resolved to pass the night.
The horses which carried our provisions and
blankets were ahead, and we fired several shots
in the hope of obtaining relief, but without success. M'Tavish and I, however, fortunately
obtained a blanket from one of the men, with
which, and some of the saddle-cloths, we contrived to guard against the effects of the piercing
cold during the night.
We arose with the first dawn of morning, and
prepared to renew our march ; but on mustering
the horses, we found one of them dead, and the
two Sandwich islanders dreadfully frost-bitten.
To add to our distress, M'Tavish, and I had
omitted the wise precaution of placing our moccasins under our bodies, (the warmth of which
would have preserved them from being congealed,) in consequence of which we found them,
on awakening, frozen as hard as clogs. All ouf
endeavours to soften them by puffing, rubbing,
&c. were unavailing, and we were ultimately
obliged to have recourse to an extraordinary
process, which produced %e desired effect. After
reloading, we resumed our march ; which, owing
to the depth an>d hardness of the snow, was
painfully tedious.    We had not advanced! more
than three miles when I missed my fowling-
piece ; and imagining that I had left it at the
place where we had passed the night, I returned
to look for it; but on arriving at the spot, I was
much annoyed to find the object of my search
lying across my arms ! To account for this instance of mental abstraction, it is necessary to
remember the disagreeable situation in which I
was placed ;—in charge of a party who had lost
itself in a trackless wilderness of snow, and unable to discover any vestiges of its companions ;
two of the number disabled from walking, and
both men and horses almost exhausted from cold
and want of nourishment; in addition to which,
I had been accustomed for some days previously
to carry my fowling-piece over the left shoulder,
from which I suddenly missed the weight, and,
without mentioning the circumstance to any of the
men, turned back on my fool's errand.
Shortly after rejoining the party we came in
view of a cluster of small trees, from the centre
of which arose large volumes of friendly vapour.
Here we found Messrs. Stewart and M'Millan
with the remainder of the brigade, comfortably
seated round a cheering fire, partaking of a plentiful breakfast. We hastened to join them, and
quickly despatched part of a hind-quarter and a
few ribs of roasted dog.
Mr. Stewart had a beautiful English water-
spaniel, called Ponto.    After breakfast he asked
M'Tavish how he liked his fare ;   to which the
latter replied that he thought it was excellent.
" And pray, my dear Alick," said Stewrart, " do
you know what you have just been eating?"
I Not exactly," replied he ;   "I liked the meat
so well that I never thought of asking its name;
but I suppose it is one of the wild sheep that I
hear you have in these parts."—" No indeed,"
said Stewart ; f finding ourselves short of provisions, we were obliged to kill Ponto, on part
of which vouhave made so hearty a breakfast."—
I Poor   Ponto!"  ejaculated   the  philosophical
Highlander:   | 1 am sorry for him : but it cannot now be helped."    Ponto was a fine animal,
full of vivacity, and had become a general favourite.    1 could not account for his death, seeing
there was no necessity to justify the murder of a
civilized dog, while several of those which had
been purchased at Oakinagan still remained untouched.      On   inquiring   the  reason,   I  was
told that in consequence of his being in excellent condition, -he was deemed a fit dish pour
la table d'un bourgeois*    This was by no means
satisfactory, as 1 observed at the men's messes
* The Canadians call every proprietor un bourgeois.
several prime pieces of the native dogs, which
I thought ought to have satisfied people more
fastidious than we had a right to be on such
an occasion; besides, I would have preferred
picking the bones of the most maigre of the
Indian breed, to the plumpest of our own
faithful companions. Their keen eye, sharp
nose, and pointed upright ear, proclaim their
wolfish origin, and fail to enlist our sympathies
in their behalf; in consequence of which our repugnance to eat them in periods of necessity is
considerably diminished.
We rested at this encampment the remainder
of the day to refresh the horses, and in the evening I was highly delighted at again seeing the
animated figure of poor Ponto as lively and playful as ever. He had not been injured, and the
melancholy story of his death, &c. was a pure
invention of the ee old one's " to work on our
juvenile sympathies.
From hence to Spokan we had a tedious and
miserable march of seven days in deep snow, in
the course of which we lost five horses; and of
those which survived the journey, several perished during the winter.
I remained at Spokan in company with Messrs.
Stewart and M'Tavish, and passed rather an
agreeable winter.    The deer were not so nu-
merous as in former seasons, and we chiefly subsisted on horses. Towards the latter end of
January carp became plentiful in Spokan river,
and about a month later the trout-fishing commenced. We took large quantities of both,
which afforded us excellent amusement; and
from that period until late in the spring, we generally breakfasted on fish and dined on horse.
In the course of the winter an incident occurred which threatened at the time to interrupt
the harmony that had previously existed between
our people and the Spokan Indians.    One of
our younger clerks, having become tired of celibacy, resolved to take a wife; and  as none of
the Columbian half-breeds had attained a sufficiently mature age, he was necessitated to make
his selection from the Spokan tribe.    He therefore requested the interpreter to make an inquiry in the village, and ascertain whether any
unappropriated comely young woman was willing
to become the partner of a juvenile chief.    A
pretty-looking damsel, about seventeen years of
age, immediately became a candidate  for the
prize.    As her father had died some years before, she was  under the guardianship of her
mother, who, with her brother, settled the terms
of the negotiation.    Blankets and kettles were
presented   to   her   principal   relations;   while
beads, hawk-bells, 8cc. were distributed among
the remaining kindred. About nine o'clock at
night the bride was conducted to the fort-gate
by her mother, and, after an apathetic parting,
she was consigned to the care of one of the men's
wives, called |f the scourer," conversant in such
affairs, who had her head and body thoroughly
cleansed from all the Indian paint and grease
with which they had been saturated. After this
purification she was handed over to the dressmaker, who instantly discharged her leathern
chemise, and supplied its place by more appropriate clothing; and the following morning,
when she appeared in her new habiliments, we
thought her one of the most engaging females
that we had previously seen of the Spokan nation.
Matters rolled on pleasantly enough for a few
days, and the youthful couple appeared mutually
enamoured of each other; but a " little week"
had scarcely passed over their heads, when one
day about two o'clock, a number of young warriors well mounted galloped into the court-yard
of the fort armed at all points. Their appearance
was so unusual, and unlike the general manner
of the Spokan nation, that we were at a loss to account for it, and vague suspicions of treachery began to flit across our imaginations; but the mys-
tery was shortly cleared up. The bride, on perceiving the foremost horseman of the band euter
the court, instantly fled into an adjoining store,
in which she concealed herself; while he and his
associates dismounted, and demanded to speak
with the principal white chief, at the same time
requesting the other chiefs would also appear.
His wishes having been complied with, he addressed us in substance to the following effect:
jj Three snows have passed away since the
white men came from their own country to live
among the Spokans. When the Evil Spirit
thought proper to distress the white people by
covering the waters of the rivers with ice, so that,
they could not catch any fish, and sent snow all
over the mountains and the plains, by means
whereof their horses were nearly destroyed by the
wolves,—when their own hunters in fact could
not find an animal, did the Spokans take advantage of their afflictions ? Did they rob them of
their horses like Sinapoil dogs | Did they say,
The white men are now poor and starving; they
are a great distance from their own country and
from any assistance, and we can easily take all
their goods from them, and send them away naked
and hungry ? No! we never spoke or even
thought of such bad things. The white men came
amongst us with confidence, and our hearts were
VOL.  n. D
glad to see them; they paid us for our fish, for
our meat, and for our furs. We thought they
were all good people, and in particular their
chiefs ; but I find we were wrong in so thinking."
Here he paused for a short period; after which he
thus recommenced : " My relations and myself
left our village some days ago for the purpose of
hunting. We returned home this morning.
Their wives and their children leaped with joy
to meet them, and all their hearts were glad but
mine. I went to my hut, and called on my wife
to come forth; but she did not appear. I was
sorrowful and hungry, and went into my brother's hut, where I was told that she had gone
away, and had become the wife of a white chief.
She is now in your house. I come, therefore,
white men, to demand justice. I first require that
my wife be delivered up to me. She has acted
like a dog, and I shall live no more with her; but
I shall punish her as she deserves. And in the
next place, I expect, as you have been the cause
of my losing her, that you will give me ample compensation for her loss." Our interpreter immediately explained to the Indian that the girl's relatives were the cause of the trick that had been
played on him; and added, that had our friend
been aware of her having been a married woman,
he never would have thought of making her his
 a wife's value. 35
wife. That he was willing to give him reasonable
compensation for her loss; but that she should
not be delivered to him except he undertook
not to injure her. He refused to make any promise, and still insisted On her restitution; but as
we had reason to fear that her life would have
been sacrificed, we refused to comply. The old
chief next addressed him for some time; the result
of which was, that he agreed to accept df a gun,
one hundred rounds of ammunition, three blankets, two kettles, a spear, a dagger, ten fathoms
of tobacco, with a quantity of smaller articles, and
to leave his frail helpmate in quiet possession of
ber pale-faced spouse, promising never more to
think of her, Or do her any harm. Exorbitant as
these terms were, it was judged advisable to accede to them rather than disturb the good feeling that had hitherto subsisted between us,
After we had delivered the above articles to him,
w7e all smoked the calumet; on perceiving which,
the fugitive, knowing that it was the ratification
of peace, emerged from her place of concealment, and boldly walked past her late lord. She
caught his eye for a moment; but no sign of recognition appeared; and neither anger nor regret seemed to disturb the natural serenity of
his cold and swarthy countenance.
Shortly after the arrival of the parties from the
d 2
Cootonais and Flat-heads, we took our departure
for the sea ; and having joined the gentlemen at
Oakinagan, proceeded together, and arrived with
out accident on the 3rd of April at Fort George.
Here we found a handsome brig belonging to the
Company, which had arrived some time before,
well loaded with articles necessary both for the
interior and coasting trade.
We remained only a fortnight at the fort, which
we again left on the 16th of April for the interior.
We saw few Indians on the Columbia until we
reached the Wallah Wallah river, at which we
stopped half a day to purchase horses. We recognised several of the party who had attacked us
the preceding autumn, particularly the relatives
of the Indians who had been killed, and who
were easily distinguished by their short-cropped
hair. They came however among us unarmed,
and all recollection of that unpleasant affair
seemed to have vanished from their memories.
About forty miles above Lewis River Messrs.
Stewart, McMillan, and I, with three men, quitted the canoes to proceed overland to Spokan
House. During this journey, which occupied
five or six days, we did not meet a single native;
and with the exception of a few stunted red cedar
trees, and some juniper birch and willow, the
country was divested of wood.    Early on the
morning of the second day we entered a remarkable ravine, with high, bold, and rocky sides,
through which we rode upwards of twenty miles,
when we were obliged to leave it in order to
follow our direct course. The soil in this ravine
is a fine whitish-coloured clay, firm and hard.
There is but little vegetation, except on the sides,
where clusters of willow and choke-cherry are
occasionally met with. While we rode through
it we passed several small lakes, round the shores
of which I picked up some very fine pebbles of
the agate species, extremely hard, and possessing
great delicacy and variety of shading. The banks
of the Columbia, from the falls up to Lewis River,
abound with pebbles of the same description;
some of which 1 brought home, and had cut.
They take a beautiful polish, and in the opinion
of lapidaries far exceed the cornelian in value.
It is a curious circumstance that we observed
no rattlesnakes in this valley; and we subsequently learned from the Indians that they never
saw any ; although those reptiles are very numerous in the plains on each side. |4 The natives
were unable to assign any cause for this; and,
except it be in the peculiarity of the soil, we
were equally at a loss to account for it.
The following day we passed two warm springs,
one of which was so hot,  that in a short time
water in a saucepan might be easily boiled over
it. They were both highly sulphuric; but we
had not time, nor indeed were we prepared to
analyse their properties. The soil in their immediate vicinity was firm white clay, and the
grass quite brown.
x On leaving the canoes we expected to have
reached Spokan on the third day; but in consequence of having no guide, joined to the difficulty of finding water, we took double the time
on which we had calculated. Our provisions had
failed; and we were about killing one of our
jaded horses, when we came in sight of a few lean
deer, two of which we shot. This supply brought
us to Spokan House, which place we reached on
the 12th of May. The party with the trading
goods arrived a few days after from Oakinagan.
I passed the summer at Spokan with the gentlemen already mentioned* in addition to Messrs.
Mackenzie and Montour, in as agreeable a manner as men possibly could in such a country.
Our kitchen-garden now began to assume a thriving appearance, and, in addition to a fine crop
of potatoes, we reared a quantity of other excel-
lent esculents. The was deep and rich; and
a few melons and cucumbers, which we had put
down, throve admirably. The Indians, who at
first would not touch any thing which we planted,
began at length to have such a relish for the
produce of the garden, that we were obliged to
have sentinels on the watch to prevent their continual trespasses. We offered some of them potatoes to plant, and pointed out the good effects
that would result from their cultivation; but
they were too thoughtless and improvident to
follow our advice. We strongly impressed on
their minds that if the system was generally
adopted it would prevent the recurrence of famine, to which they were subject; but to this
they replied, that it would interfere with their
hunting and fishing, and prevent their women
from collecting their own country fruits and
roots in the autumn, and thereby render them
lazy. All our arguments were unavailing, and
we were obliged to allow them to continue in
their own course.
During the summer we made several excursions of from one to three weeks' duration to the
neighbouring friendly tribes, for the purpose of
obtaining a more accurate knowledge of their respective lands. Of the information thus obtained
I shall have to speak hereafter. In some of these
journeys we had to cross the great ravine already
mentioned. It is computed to be about eighty
miles in length, and presents all along the same
rocky and precipitous sides.    The pathways are
so steep and dangerous, that even Indians in
passing them are obliged to dismount, and loaded
horses must be partly lightened. Some of the
horses by missing their footing have been killed,
and many severely injured, in descending these
precipices. The bottom throughout consists of
the same firm white soil, interspersed with small
lakes. Several bold insulated rocks are scattered
here and there throughout the ravine, some of
which exceed a quarter of a mile in circumference, and are partially clothed with choke-
cherry and other inferior kinds of vegetation.
From small horizontal channels worn on the
sides of the rocks, and which seemed to indicate
the action of water, we were led to imagine that
this valley was formerly one of the channels of
the Columbia, the course of which we supposed
must have been changed by one of those extraordinary convulsions in the natural world, the
causes of which are beyond human knowledge.
In the great plains between Oakinagan and
Spokan there are at particular seasons numbers
of small deer. The editor of Lewis and Clarke
classes them as antelopes; but how much soever
they may resemble those animals in swiftness and
shape, their horns, as described by naturalists,
' are totally different. Their flesh is sweet and
delicate, and they generally go in small herds.
Towards the latter end of the summer they are
in prime condition, and at that season we had
some excellent sport in hunting them. The Indians, however, are not satisfied with our method
of taking them in detail. On ascertaining the
direction the deer have chosen, part of their
hunters take a circuit in order to arrive in front
of the herd, while those behind set fire to the
long grass, the flames of which spread with great
rapidity. In their flight from the devouring element they are intercepted by the hunters, and,
while they hesitate between these dangers, great
numbers fall by the arrows of the Indians.
The wolves almost rival the Indians in their
manner of attacking the deer. When impelled
by hunger, they proceed in a band to the plains
in quest of food. Having traced the direction
which a herd have taken, they form themselves
into a horse-shoe line, the extreme points of which
they keep open on the grand ravine. After
some cautious manoeuvring they succeed in turning the progress of the deer in that direction. This object effected, they begin to concentrate their ranks, and ultimately hem in their
victims in such a manner, as to leave them no
choice but that of being dashed to pieces down
the steep  and rocky sides of the ravine, or
felling a prey to the fangs of their merciless pursuers.
During this summer we had also some good
horse-racing in the plains between the Pointed-
Heart and Spokan lands. In addition to the
horses belonging to those tribes, we had a few
from the Flat-heads, and several from the Chau-
diere Indians. There were some capital heats,
and betting ran high. The horses were ridden
by their respective owners, and I have sometimes
seen upwards of thirty running a five-mile heat*
The course was a perfect plain, with a light gravelly bottom, and some of the rearward jockeys
were occasionally severely peppered in the face
from the small pebbles thrown up by the hoofs of
the racers in front.
Thus passed the summer of 1815, decidedly
the most pleasant and agreeable season I enjoyed
in the Indian country. Hunting, fishing, fowling,
horse-racing, and fruit gathering, occupied the
day; while reading, music, backgammon, &c.
formed the evening pleasures of our small bat
friendly mess. The heat was intense during this
summer. The thermometer averaged from 84°
to 96°, and on one occasion, the 5th of July, on
which day we had a horse-race, it rose to 1110 in
the shade.    The heat was however generally mo-
derated by cooling brezes ;   otherwise it would
have been quite insupportable.
Towards the latter end of August, and during
the month of September, about noon, the thermometer generally stood at 86°, while in the mornings and evenings it fell to 35°, or 30°.
Letter [from Mr. Stuart—His account of New Caledonia—
Navigation of the Columbia obstructed by ice—Miserable
situation of the party during the winter—-Author frost-bitten—Amusements—Departure of Mr. Keith—His letters—
Author and party quit their winter encampment—Rapid
change of seasons—Arrive at Fort George.
Mr. Alexander Stewart with his family left
us early in September, to take charge of Lesser
Slave Lake, an important department on the east
side of the mountains, at which place it had been
arranged he was to pass the winter. He expected to have met Mr. Keith at the portage of
the Rocky Mountains, on his way to the Columbia
with dispatches from Fort William; but a month
elapsed before the arrival of that gentleman,
during which period himself and family suffered
great privations from want of food, &c.
The distracted state of the interior, owing to
the disputes between the North-west and Hudson's Bay Companies, added to other unexpected
circumstances, impeded the progress of Mr.
Keith, who did not reach the portage until the
15th of October.    He parted from Mr. Stewart
on the following day, and reached the Chaudiere
falls on the 22d, where he left his canoes, and
arrived at Spokan House on the 24th, having
previously ordered the men to drop down to the
mouth of the Spoken river, at which place we
were to join them. Among others, I received a
letter by him from my friend Mr. John Stuart,
dated New Caledonia,* 25th April, 1815, from
which the following is an extract:—
aI find that the affairs of the Columbia appear
to be getting from bad to worse; and the many
difficulties and hardships, added to the dangers
peculiar to that unfortunate department, are hard
to bear, and will keep me particularly anxious
until I hear the result of the expedition of this
spring to and from Fort George. Although the
various encounters you have had with the natives
should have taught them to respect the whites,
and convince them that nothing is to be gained
by force; yet, as the attack of last autumn^ was
both daring and premeditated, I am afraid it is
but the forerunner of greater aggression.    You
* This district is very extensive, and lies on the west side
of the Rocky Mountains.—It communicates with Athabasca
department by Peace River, and extends from lat. 52° to 55°
-J- Alluding to the attack at the Wallah Wallah river, the
particulars of which are already detailed.
will, however, have one great advantage in the
spring, which is, that if the natives be at that
season numerous along the communication, it
must be with a hostile design, and perhaps by
beginning the assault yourselves, you will be
enabled to co unteract its effects. Plausible, however, as this may appear in theory, it might probably have a very different effect in practice. I
shall therefore leave off my advice, lest you
might say to me w.hat Hannibal did to the pedant.
Although I deeply regret my absence from my
friends on the Columbia, I have no cause to
complain of my lot; for here, if not perfectly
quiet, we are at least hors de danger. Messrs.
M'Dougal and Harman are with me in the department. They are not only excellent traders,
but (what is a greater novelty in this country)
real Christians, and I sincerely wish that their
steady and pious example was followed by others.
We are at separate posts; but as we feel great
delight in each other's company, we visit as
often as the situation of the country and our
business will permit; and in their conversation, which is already rational and instructive,
I enjoy some of the most agreeable moments of
my life. {.'it
" The salmon failed with us last season.    This
generally occurs every second year, and com-
pletely so every fourth year, at which periods the
natives starve in every direction.
ff They are of a lazy, indolent disposition, and
as a livelihood is rather easily procured, seldom
give themselves much trouble in hunting the
beaver or any animal of the fur kind.
" We have no buffalo or deer, except the cari-
boux (rein-deer); and not many even of those;
so that, properly speaking, we may say that water
alone supplies the people of New Caledonia with
" The natives are numerous, and live stationary in villages of the same description as those on
the lower part of the Columbia. In their looks
and manner they bear a great affinity to the
Chinooks. The meaning of their national name
is "Carriers;" but' the people of each village
have a separate denomination. In a north-eastern direction, their country nearly borders the
Columbia; but no white man knows how far it
extends towards the north-west. Their language
little varies from that spoken on the sea-coast.
The Carriers are naturally of an open and hospitable disposition; but very violent, and subject
to sudden gusts of passion, in which much blood
is often shed. However, those "quarrels are soon
made up, and as soon forgotten.
" They seldom, even in the most favourable
seasons, kill many beaver in winter, the depth of
the snow being, as they allege, too great. The
utmost we can therefore do is to collect the produce of their summer hunt; which, as we have
to go in different nnd distant directions, is a
work of much labour, and takes up a great portion of our men's time. We have no cause to
complain of last year's trade ; and to finish my
letter like a true North-Wester, I have great
pleasure in acquainting you that our returns are
about 95 packs,# which is a sufficient proof that
the country is worth being attended to, and that
it is susceptible of great improvement."
We left Spokan House on the 26th of October,
and, having joined the canoes, proceeded to Fort
George, at which place we arrived on the 8th of
Owing to the advanced season of the year, we
hastened our departure for the interior, and accordingly succeeded in quitting the fort on the
19th of November. Our party upwards consisted
of Messrs. Keith, Montour, Mackenzie, and myself, with fifty voyageurs, and Rivet, the interpreter. Not being accustomed to travel at such
a late period, we found the weather rather cool
for the first few days.    Owing to the absence of
* Each pack weighs ninety pounds, and contains on an
average from fifty to sixty beaver-skins.
the Indians, few of whom were on the banks of
the Columbia, we were deprived of our ordinary
supply of horses and dogs for the kettle, and
were forced to have recourse to our winter stock
of flour, pork, and rice.
After passing the second falls the cold became
more severe ; and occasional pieces of ice drifting
down the current, made us fear that our progress
would be considerably obstructed in proportion as
we advanced. Our apprehensions were unfortunately realised. As far as the entrance of Lewis
river the navigation was tolerably free; but from
thence the masses of floating ice became so large
and numerous, that our frail little barks were in
momentary danger of being stove to pieces, and
it required all the skill and labour of our men to
avoid them, and prevent the fatal consequences
that would have inevitably followed such collisions. When it is recollected that we had to
stem% strong current in vessels built, some of
thin cedar plank, and others of the bark of the
birch-tree, and all heavily laden, it may naturally
be supposed that our fears were not groundless.
For three days our advance was slow through
this dangerous navigation; but early on the
fourth a scene presented itself which seemed
likely to put a final stop to our progress. Some
large masses of ice in their descent got entangled
VOL.   II. e
among the numerous rocks of a long and crooked
rapid; these were quickly followed by others,
until the whole presented at the time of our arrival a line about a quarter of a mile in extent, of
high,  sharp, and fantastically-shaped glaciers.
Our men immediately commenced the portage
with the greatest good-humour, and finished it
late in the evening, when we were obliged to
encamp in the dark, with scarcely wood sufficient
to cook our cheerless supper.    The current on
the following day was partially free from ice, and
we began to hope that we had passed the worst,
until we arrived at a particular bend of the river,
at which there was another rapid, choked up with
a similar chain of glaciers, but of greater magnitude.    The men, who had  endured  excessive
hardships, still did not grumble, and began the
portage in high spirits.    We had not advanced
more than half over it when  the approach of
darkness, joined to an unexpected supply of driftwood, induced us to stop for the night, which we
passed in tolerable comfort.    We finished the
portage the following morning before breakfast;
and the remainder of the day was bard labour
between rapids and drifting ice.    We encamped
late at the foot of a long rapid.    The men were
greatly fatigued, and some of them knocked up.
Early the next morning, after each man got a re-.
freshing glass of rum, they commenced their
work, and finished the portage at noon. About
two miles above this we were again obliged to
unload, and carry the goods and canoes upwards
of nine hundred yards.
The exhaustion of the men this evening was
extreme, and it became quite apparent that they
could not much longer endure a continuance of
such dreadful hardship.
We had previously ascertained that the river
was frozen a considerable distance, and during a
walk of three miles, which I took with Mr. Keith,
it was one firm thick body of ice.
We breakfasted on the following morning at
our encampment; shortly after which a body of
the men approached the tent, and sent in word
that they wished to speak to Mr. Keith. He
came out, when their spokesman, Basil Lucie,
one of the best and most obedient men in the
brigade, begged leave in a respectful manner to
address a few words to him on their present situation. He stated that he and his comrades were
reduced to the lowest degree of weakness from
the excessive and unexpected labour they had
undergone; that while there was the least possibility of reaching their destination they did not
repine; but from the continued mass of ice and
chains of rapids before them, that object was at
e 2
present unattainable. He hoped Mr. Keith
would not consider their conduct in a mutinous
point of view. They were ready and willing to
attempt all that men could achieve, with even
the slightest prospect of success; but worn down
as they were, they felt themselves quite inadequate to make any further efforts towards extricating us from our disagreeable situation.
Mr. Keith glanced at the group, in whose
features he read a coincidence of sentiment with
their speaker, joined to a determination of manner which, though humble and respectful, still
evidently showed that their resolution was fixed,
and was the result of previous deliberation.
The principles of passive obedience and non-
resistance in which the Canadian voyageurs are
brought up, appeared to be endangered by this
combination; and the idea that his men were
the first that ever dared, in the Indian country,
even to remonstrate, gave a temporary shock to
his pride: it was, however, transient. Justice
and reason triumphed, and dissipated in a moment the slight symptoms of wounded dignity
that at first ruffled his countenance.
Mr. Keith told them that he had no wish to
force them to any labour incompatible with their
strength ; that his only object was if possible to
get to their destinations, which at present he ad-
mitted could not be done; that he did not find
fault with them for the expression of their sentiments, and regretted that they had not all a
more comfortable wintering ground.
Lucie, after a short consultation with the men,
replied that they all felt particularly grateful for
the kind and considerate manner he had received
their appeal, and promised that no exertions on
their part should be wanting to contribute to the
comfort of himself and the other gentlemen.
There was fortunately about the encampment
plenty of drift wood, of which in a short time
they collected an immense quantity, The trading
goods were piled up in a safe situation ; and
with the assistance of the canoes, tarpaulins, and
sails, the men constructed tolerably good cots for
themselves. o*S
We had a large tarpaulin porch erected in
front of our tent, to which it was joined. In
this porch we sat to enjoy the fire, the sparks
from which we feared would have injured the
canvass of our cold habitation. Our situation
was disagreeably novel. About three hundred
miles from our nearest post, with no means of
approaching it, and no provisions save the scanty
supply we had brought for consumption on our
journey, and the usual quantities of rice and
flour for our winter holidays.    We had seen
no Indians for several days, and our hopes of
succour from them were consequently very weak.
Our hunters were also unsuccessful, and reported
that the surrounding country was devoid of
any animals that could be made subservient to
our support. Neither did they in their different trips see any vestiges of the natives; and
most of the poor fellows returned from their
cold and hungry journeys with frost-bitten fingers
and toes.
About ten miles from our encampment, in the
midst of the extensive plains on the north side,
there is a high and conically shaped hill, which
has been honoured with the name of Mount
Nelson, to which Mr. Keith and I determined to
proceed, for the purpose of surveying the surrounding country. The ground was covered
with congealed snow, and after an arduous walk
we reached the summit of the solitary mountain.
We had a widely-extended prospect of the great
plains in their wintry clothing: their undulations reminded us of the ocean, when the
troubled waves begin to subside after a storm;
while the occasional appearance of leafless trees
in the distance, partially diversifying the chilling
scene, resembled the shattered masts of vessels
that had suffered in the conflict of waters.
In vain did we strain our eyes to catch  a
glimpse of any thing in human or animal shape.
Neither man, nor fowl, nor cattle, nor beast,
nor creeping thing, met our longing and expectant gaze. Animated nature seemed to have
abandoned the dreary solitude, and silent desolation reigned all around.
We reached the encampment late in the evening, shortly after which I felt an unusual pain
under the ball of one of my great toes. On examination, I ascertained that during our late
walk a hole had been worn in the sole of the
moccasin, which caused the toe to be frostbitten. By the advice of our experienced Canadians I had it immediately rubbed with snow,
keeping it, at the same time, some distance from
the fire. The operation was painful; but it
preserved the joint. After a few days' rubbing,
the skin became white, and ultimately peeled off
like that of a whitlow when it begins to heal.
This was succeeded by a new covering, which in
a short time became as strong as formerly.
A few years before, one of the clerks, named
Campbell, while |u|G with a hunting party, met
with a similar accident. He was a novice in the
country, and contrary to the advice of his men,
kept the frozen part at the fire, and refused to
rub it with snow; The consequence was a mortification, which in a few days proved fatal; for
at the place where the circumstance occurred he
was between 2000 and 3000 miles from medical
This was the only time, during my residence
in America, that I got nipped by the frost; indeed the inhabitants of our islands in general
bear cold better than the Canadians, several of
whom belonging to our party, although they
were more warmly clothed, suffered severely
in their extremities.
Were it not for the plentiful supply of fuel,
our situation would have been insupportably
miserable in this wretched encampment. As it
was, our time passed heavily enough. Our travelling library was on too small a scale to afford
much intellectual enjoyment. It only consisted
of one book of hymns, two song-books, the latest
edition of Joe Miller, and Darwin's Botanic
Garden. The Canadians could not join us in
the hymns, and we endeavoured in vain to tune
our pipes for profane harmony. iC Yankey
Doodle," the " Frog's Courtship," and the
I Poker," were the only three that came within
the scope of our vocal abilities. In fine weather
our friend Mackenzie attempted with tolerable
success the simple ditty of
The devil flow away with the little tailor,
And the broad-cloth under his arm.
Our constant perusal of Old Joe made us so
intimately acquainted with all his super-excellent
good things, that we unconsciously became punsters, and were noted for many a day thereafter
as the greatest men in the country for choice
hits and double-entendres.
As for Darwin, we were almost tempted to
commit him to the flames : for to read of the
loves of the plants, when we knew they were
all buried in their cold, cold grave, and waiting
like ourselves for the renovating influence of
spring, only gave additional torment to our
In the intervals between harmony, joking, and
botany, as we sat striving to warm ourselves
under the tarpaulin porch, half blinded by the
puffs of smoke sent in by cold easterly gusts, we
endeavoured to amuse each other by a detail of
each schoolboy adventure, each juvenile anecdote,
and each
Moving accident by flood or field,
that had ever befallen us. But on the arrival
of dear delightful Christmas,—that happy season
of festivity, when the poor man's table displays
the accumulated savings of an economical advent, and the rich man's groans under more than
its  accustomed - profusion ; when  emancipation
from the birch expands the youthful heart into
joy and gladness, and the partially forgotten
friendships of the old are renewed with greater
fervency; when all denominations of Christians
combine social pleasure with innocent amusement, and join in praise and thanksgiving to Him
who came to save us ;—our thoughts wandered
towards home, and the happy faces surrounding
the quiet and domestic hearth : the contrast was
too strong for our philosophy, and we were almost tempted to call down inverted benedictions
ou the unfortunate beaver, and those who first
invented beaver hats, beaver bonnets, and beaver
cloaks ! From that moment I began to balance
between the comparatively pleasing uncertainties
of civilised life, and the sad realities to which the
life of an Indian trader is exposed. On the one
side I placed—exile, starvation, Indian treachery, piercing colds, or burning heats, with the
damp earth too often for a bed ; no society for a
great portion of the year, except stupid Canadian
voyageurs, or selfish suspicious natives; ideas
semi-barbarised by a long estrangement from the
civilised world; and should I even survive these
accumulated evils, and amass a few thousands, to
find, on returning to my native country, the
friends of my youth dead, and myself forgotten;
with a broken-down and debilitated constitution;
an Indian wife, and a numerous offspring, whose
maternal tint, among the proud and the unthinking, too often subjects them to impertinent insult
and unmerited obloquy.
To a British reader it would be useless to enumerate the opposing items, or to mention on
which side the scale preponderated ; it is enough
to say that I determined on the earliest opportunity to exchange dog for mutton, and horse for
beef; icy winters and burning summers for our
own more temperate climate; and copper beauties for fair ones.
A few men who had been despatched on foot
to Oakinagan succeeded in reaching that place,
and returned early in January with sixteen
horses, so wretchedly lean, that they were quite
unfit for the kettle, and almost unserviceable for
any purpose. However, after a few days' rest,
Mr. Keith selected eight of the strongest, which
he loaded; and with which, accompanied by Mr.
Montour and a party of the men, he set off for
Oakinagan. They took the greater portion of
the portable vivres with them.
Mr. Keith's departure was a sensible loss to
our little society. Gifted by nature with faculties of no ordinary description, he had the ad-
vantages of an early and excellent education,
which he subsequently improved by an extensive
course of reading. He also possessed a sound,
vigorous understanding, with a strong memory ;
and had not fortune cast him among the wilds of
savage America, I have no doubt he would have
attained eminence in any profession he might
have chosen in his native country.
Mackenzie and I passed six more melancholy
weeks in this spot, during which period we did
not see an Indian. Our time would have passed
heavily enough, only that we fortunately agreed
on no single subject. Episcopacy and Presby-
terianism, with all their off-shoots, formed a prolific source of polemical recreation; and when
we became tired of the Mitre and the Kirk, we
travelled back to Ossian and the Culdees. We
argued on the immutability of the Magellanic
clouds. We discussed the respective merits of
every writer to whom the authorship of Junius
has been attributed. We differed on the best
mode of cooking a leg of mutton ; and could
not agree as to the superiority of a haggis over a
harico, or of Ferintosh over Inishowen. Plum-
pudding and rice had each its champion; and
when he rose in all its strength and thought to
destroy me with the plentiful variety of a Scotch
breakfast, I at once floored him with the solid
substantiality of an English dinner. Thus with
empty stomachs and half-famished bodies we argued on luxuries while we anticipated starvation;
and we often awoke from the pleasing dream of
a fat % sirloin," to attack the melancholy ribs of
a fleshless horse.*
Mr. Keith reached Oakinagan on the 28th January, and on the following day addressed me a
letter, an extract from which may not be uninteresting to the reader.
"The loaded horses performed the journey
hither in about the time we had anticipated, having arrived here without any material accident
(except drowning Guenillon) yesterday. As for
myself, having left them on the 26th, accompanied by Francois, with the intention of reaching
the fort that day, I accomplished my object at
the expense of your Poilde Souris and my Blond.
The latter gave up about three miles from the
end of his journey ; and yours brought me on
slowly. Having once; got ahead, I had no al \
ternative but to push on bon grk mal gri, or
encamp without blanket or supper; which cir-
* Poor Mackenzie ! In 1828 I received a letter from the
Columbia, announcing the melancholy intelligence that he and
four of his men had the preceding year been surprised by the
savages on Fraser's River, who barbarously murdered the
entire party,  f^jy   &rvw^
cumstance I hope you will receive as a sufficient
excuse for the rough treatment I gave your
horse. Grosses pattes had the honour of carrying my saddle-bags for two days and a half,
both as a punishment for his laziness, and as a
relief to hard-working horses. Our business
here has been considerably retarded in consequence of our having given a regal to the men
in lieu of the New-Year's festivities, which you
know were douloureusement triste. The party
for Thompson's River took their departure the
day before yesterday ; and owing to some delay
about procuring Indian canoes, the Spokan people only crossed the river to-day. I have settled
with Mr. Ross to send you four additional horses
for consumption, in charge of two men, who
will leave this on the 1st proximo. The weather
here has been latterly very mild, which, coupled
with other circumstances, induces me to think
that you have been enabled to quit your encampment."       9K
Mr. Keith was, however, mistaken as to his
hopes of a favourable change in the navigation.
Another letter, dated f Spokan House, February
10th," says—§ After a very unpleasant and irksome journey, occasioned by bad roads and the
low and exhausted state of our horses, I arrived
here on the 8th, and the loaded horses yesterday.
We left several of the poor animals on the way.
Le Gris le Galeux I left in charge of a middle-
aged Indian, with a note addressed to you.   I was
obliged to give six others in charge to the bearer,
whom you will please to reward.    They were
quite exhausted.   Their names are, La Gueule de
travers, La Tete Plate, La Courte Oreille, La
Greme de la petite Chienne, La Poil de Souris,
and Gardepie.    As you will probably be reduced
to avail yourself of the same shifts, I should hope
those horses will be tolerably well recruited by
the time of your arrival.    Mon "Petit Gris, La
Queue Coupee,  De la Vallee, with La Creme
de la Come fendue, and La petite Rouge, (nez
blanc,) belonging to the Company, have been
left in charge of the bearer's brother.    Upwards
of three hundred beavers have been picked up
since our departure for the sea; but starvation is
staring us in the face, unless We eat the melancholy remnant of our lean horses.    The natives
are abundantly supplied with ckevreuil; but they
cannot be prevailed on to risk killing their emaciated and worn-down horses by bringing any
meat to the fort.    I am daily flattering myself by
anticipation with the pleasure of seeing you pop
in.    However, as this is leap-year, we must make
some extra allowance.    Were all leap-years invariably attended with the same combination of
difficulties and obstacles which we have encountered this winter, I would cheerfully give up
one day quadrennially of my life, at the expense
of shortening my existence, provided such a
sacrifice could preserve things in their natural
About the middle of February the snow and
ice began to show strong symptoms of solar influence. The former disappeared with wonderful
rapidity, and the loud crackling of the latter gave
notice of its continual disruption. I sent a few
men a day's march ahead, who brought back
word that the ice was so far broken up, that we
might try our fortune once more on water. We
therefore prepared for embarkation; and having
killed our two last horses, we bade adieu on the
16th of February to our hibernal encampment,
without experiencing one feeling of regret at the
separation. For a few days our progress was
slow and exposed to much danger from the immense quantity of floating ice, to avoid which
required all the strength and ingenuity of our
After many narrow escapes we reached Oakinagan on the 28th of February, with empty
stomachs and exhausted bodies.
To a person accustomed to the gradual revolutions of the seasons in Europe, an American
winter changes with surprising rapidity.    In less
than a week from the first appearance ofwarmth,
-* subdued,
The frost resolves into a trickling thaw,
Spotted the mountains shine ; loose sleet descends,
And floods the country round.    The rivers swell,
Of bonds impatient.    Sudden from the hills,
O'er rocks and woods in broad brown cataracts,
A thousand snow-fed torrents shoot at once !
The disappearance of the snow was followed
by the most delightful and refreshing verdure,
and the early symptoms of vegetation gave us
assurance that
Gentle spring in ethereal mildness
was once more about to gladden the heart of
man; while the light-hearted Canadians under
its genial influence again chanted forth their wild
and pleasing chansons a I'aviron.
We remained a few days at Oakinagan to recruit the men : after which I proceeded with my
party to Spokan House, at which place we arrived on the 9th of March.
Mr. Keith had been for some time under great
anxiety as to our fate,and had despatched several
Indians towards the Columbia with letters to me,
some of which I received en route.
vol. u. F
The Flat-head and Cootonais parties had
arrived a few days previously; but owing to their
want of a sufficient supply of goods, occasioned
by our stoppage on the ice, they made an indifferent winter's trade. We had scarcely time
to recount to each other the various uncos we
had experienced during the winter, when we
were obliged to prepare for our spring voyage to
the sea. We left Spokan House on 20th of
March, and having joined the other parties at
Oakinagan, proceeded with them downwards.
The Columbia was one continued torrent, owing
to the thousand little rivulets which the thaw
had forced into it, and the beds of which in the
summer season are quite dry or hardly visible.
Our passage was consequently rapid, and we
arrived at the sea on the 3rd of April. Our
friends at Fort George were all in prime health,
and had weathered out the winter in a much
more comfortable manner than we had. Mr.
M'Tavish had made a trip in the Company's
/schooner to the southward, and touched at the
/ Spanish settlements of Monterey and St. Fran-
| cisco, at which places, in exchange for the produce
of England, he obtained a plentiful supply of an
article which is in great request among the Chinese, and for which the unsophisticated traders
of Canton will barter their finest commodities;
I mean bond-fide silver made into the shape  of
Spanish dollars, half-dollars, or pistareens.
As fresh supply of trading goods was required
in the interior, our stay at Fort George was necessarily short. It was, however, a complete
carnival among proprietors, clerks, interpreters,
guides, and canoe-men. Each voyageur received
a liberal extra allowance of rum, sugar, flour,
&c., and a fortnight of continual dissipation obliterated all recollection of the frozen and lenten
severity of the by-gone winter.
Author placed in charge of Oakinagan—Erects new buildings
there—Musquitoes—Sagacity of the horses—Rattlesnakes
good food—Sarsaparilla—Black snakes—Climate—Whirlwinds—Handsome situation—Character of the tribe—Manner of trading—Extraordinary cures of consumption.
'Jd'/'On the 16th of April we took our departure
for the interior. Our party consisted of sixty-
eight men, including officers. Few Indians were
on the banks of the river, and they conducted
themselves peaceably. We arrived at Oakinagan on the 30th, from whence Mr. John George
M'Tavish, accompanied by Messrs. La Rocque,
Henry, and a party of Canadians, set off for the
purpose of proceeding across the mountains to
Fort William, the grand central depot of the interior on the east side.
v^* Mr. Ross, wrho had been for the last two years
in charge of Oakinagan,  was by a new arrangement detained this year at Fort George as one of
the staff clerks; and I was selected as coramand-
5 ant of the former place.    Messrs. McMillan and
^ Montour were sent to  Spokan, and my friend
Y    MfDonald proceeded to Kamloops, his old quarry .       ~ .
ters.    A sufficient number of men were left with
me for all purposes of hunting, trading, and defence ; but, for the first time since I entered the
country, I found myself without a colleague or a
I had a long summer before me : it is the most
idle season of the year; and as it was intended
to rebuild and fortify Oakinagan during the vacation, I lost no time in setting the men to
The immediate vicinity is poorly furnished with
timber, and our wood-cutters were obliged to
proceed some distance up the river in search of
that necessary article, which was floated down
in rafts. We also derived considerable assistance
from the immense quantities of drift-wood which
was intercepted in its descent down the Columbia
by the great bend which that river takes above
Oakinagan. " Many hands make light work;"
and our men used such dispatch, that before the
-month of September we had erected a new
dwelling house for the person in charge, containing four excellent rooms and a large dining-hall,
two good houses for the men, and a spacious store
for the furs and merchandise, to which was at- j
tached a shop for trading with the natives. The
whole was surrounded by strong palisades fifteen j
feet high, and flanked by two bastions. Each
bastion had, in its lower story, a light brass four-
pounder : and in the upper, loop-holes were left
for the use of musketry.
Our living consisted of salmon, horse, wildfowl, grouse, and small deer, with tea and coffee.
but without the usual adjuncts of milk, bread or
butter. However, we looked upon those articles as
excellent fare, and in point of living therefore had
no cause of complaint throughout the summer.
I brought from Fort George a few bottles of
essence of spruce, and by following the printed
directions made excellent beer, which in the warm
weather I found a delightful and healthy beverage.
Owing to the intense heat the men were obliged
to leave off work every day at eleven, and did not
resume until between two and three in the afternoon, by which period the burning influence of
the sun began to decline. In the interval they
generally slept.
The musquitoes seldom annoyed us at midday ; but when we wished to enjoy the refreshing coolness of a morning or evening's walk, they
fastened on us with their infernal stings, against
which we had no defence except leather. By
smoking, we might indeed keep them at a civil
distance from our noses and the parts thereunto
adjacent; but this was a preventive which, if
constantly practised, would have in a short time
reduced our tobacco to a small quantity.
The annoyance during our meals was worse.
We were obliged to have an iron pot at each end
of the table, filled with saw-dust or rotten wood;
which substance, when ignited, produced a quantity of thick smoke without flame. It effectually
drove them away; but it was a desperate remedy;
for during the process of mastication we were
nearly suffocated from the dense clouds of vapour
by which we were enveloped. In the mean time
our tormentors hovered about the doors and windows, watching the gradual dispersion of the
smoke; and the moment the atmosphere became
sufficiently clear they charged in from all directions on our heads, necks, ears, face, and hands,
from whence it was impossible to dislodge them,
until a fresh supply of saw-dust, thrown over the
dying embers, put them once more to flight.
The horses also suffered severely from these
insects and the horse-flies. We caused several
fires of rotten wood to be made in the prairie in
which they were grazing, and round which they
instinctively congregated to avail themselves of
the protection afforded by the smoke. Those
which had short tails and cropped manes suffered
more than the others; for with these weapons of
nature (of which, in America, at all events, it is
cruel to deprive them) they could whisk off great
numbers of the enemy; while the cropped horses,
having no such defence, often had their hoofs
and legs severely burned by standing in the fires
to avoid the stings of their assailants. I have
often observed the poor animals, when the smoke
began to evaporate, gallop up to the fort, and
neigh in the most significant manner for a fresh
supply of damp fuel; and on perceiving the men
appointed for that purpose proceed to the different fires, they followed them, and waited with
the most sagacious patience until the smoke began to ascend and disperse their tormentors.
The point of land upon which the fort is built
is formed by the junction of the Oakinagan
River with the Columbia.   Foxni .
All  Prairie amund and
hi^Sk     no   Hattlesnakes
X lains
Aallle sua ft cjf
The point is about three miles in length and
two in breadth. At the upper end is a chain of
hills, round the base of which runs a rocky pathway leading to the upper part of the river. Rattlesnakes abound beyond these hills, and on the
opposite sides of the Oakinagan and Columbia
rivers: they are also found on both sides of the
Columbia, below its junction with the former
stream; but it is a curious fact, that on the point
itself, that is, from the rocks to the confluence of
the two rivers, a rattlesnake has never yet been
seen. The Indians are unable to account for
this peculiarity; and as we never read of St.
Patrick having visited that part of the world, we
were equally at a loss to divine the cause. The f|
soil is dry, and rather sandy, and does not
materially differ from that of the surrounding
Immense quantities of sarsaparilla grow on
Oakinagan Point, which at times proved very
beneficial to some of our valetudinarians.* There
are also scattered over it a profusion of wild
flowers, some of beautiful hues, but scarcely any
odour. Among them the sun-flower, for height
and luxuriance, is conspicuous.    This is the fa-
*  Some of our men were salivated by taking a strong decoction of tbis root.
vourite plant of the delightful little hummingbird, (called by the Canadians oiseau des dames,)
in the flowers of which it banquets nearly the
livelong day.
Numbers of black snakes are found on the
point; but they are perfectly harmless. We
caught some of them in the rooms ; and a few
have been found at times quietly coiled up in the
men's beds. The rattlesnakes were very numerous about the place where the men were cutting
the timber. I have seen some of our Canadians
eat them repeatedly ! The flesh is very white,
and, they assured me, had a delicious taste. Their
manner of dressing them is simple. They at first
skin the snake in the same manner as we do eels,
after which they run through the body a small
stick, one end of which is planted in the ground,
leaning towards the fire : by turning this brocket
occasionally, the snake is shortly roasted. Great
caution however is required in killing a snake
for eating; for if the first blow fails, or only
partially stuns him, he instantly bites himself in
different parts of the body, which thereby becomes poisoned, and would prove fatal to any
person who should partake of it. The best method is to wait until he begins to uncoil and
stretches out the body, preparator)^ to a spring;
when, if a steady aim be taken with a stick about
 HOT   WINDS. 75
six feet long, it seldom fails to kill with the first
The climate of Oakinagan is highly salubrious.
We have for weeks together observed the blue
expanse of heaven unobscured by a single cloud.
Rain, too, is very uncommon; but heavy dews
fall during the night.
Several dreadful whirlwinds occurred during
the summer, which in their effects more resembled
the sirocco than anything I had ever experienced
in America. When the men observed these
sudden and dangerous squalls rising, they threw
themselves prostrate on the ground, to avoid the
clouds of sand and dust, which otherwise would
have blinded them. They were generally most
violent on the hottest days; and on some occasions they forced the planks which were piled at
the saw-pit several feet into the air.
The situation of Oakinagan is admirably
adapted for a trading town. With a fertile soil,
a healthy climate, horses in abundance for land
carriage, an opening to the sea by the Columbia,
and a communication to the interior by it and
the Oakinagan; the rivers well stocked with
fish ; and the natives quiet and friendly; it will
in my opinion be selected as a spot pre-eminently
calculated for the site of a town, when civilization (which is at present so rapidly migrating
towards the westward) crosses the Rocky Mountains and reaches the Columbia.
The natives of Oakinagan are an honest,
quiet tribe. They do not muster more than two
hundred warriors; but as they are on terms of
friendship with the Kamloops, Sinapoils, and
other small tribes in their rear; and as the Columbia in frontforms animpassable barrier against
any surprise from their old enemies the Nez
Perces, they have in a great degree forgotten the
practice ofie glorious war," and are now settled
down into a peaceful and rather a slothful tribe.
Their principal occupations consist in catching
and curing salmon, and occasionally hunting for
deer and beaver, neither of which abounds on
their lands. Acts of dishonesty are of rare occurrence among either men or women; and
breaches of chastity among the latter are equally
The chief is an old man, who apparently possesses but little power. However, from their
settled habits of living, and long abstinence from
war, I should imagine there is very little necessity for the exercise of his authority.
Their principal amusement is gambling, at
which they are not so quarrelsome as the Spokans
and other tribes; but when any doubtful case
occurs, it is referred for arbitration to one of
their elders, by whose decision the parties strictly
Mr. M'Gillivray passed the winter of 1813-14
here, and had only four or five men with him,
two of whom were generally absent hunting.
The buildings at that period were very poorly
defended ; and were the natives actuated by feelings of hostility, they could have easily robbed
the fort and destroyed his little party. This circumstance will show in the strongest point of
view their friendly feelings towards us.
Their manner of trading resembles that of
most other tribes. A party arrive at the fort
loaded with the produce of their hunt, which
they throw down, and round which they squat
themselves in a circle. The trader lights the calumet of peace, and directing his face first to the
east, and so to the other cardinal points, gives at
each a solemn puff. These are followed by a
few short quick whiffs, and he then hands the calumet to the chief of the party, who repeats the
same ceremony. The chief passes it to the man
on his right, who only gives a few whiffs, and so
on through the whole party until the pipe is
smoked out. The trader then presents them
with a quantity of tobacco to smoke ad libitum,
which they generally finish before commencing
their barter, being, as they say themselves, Sr A
long time very hungry for a smoke."
When the smoking terminates, each man 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, &c, according
to the quantity of skins he has to barter.
The trading business being over, another general smoking 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 Con-
naught, in driving a bargain.
The Oakinagan mode of curing some of our
diseases would probably startle many of the fa-^
culty. The following case in particular passed
under my own observation:
One of the proprietors had in the year 1814,
taken as a wife a young and beautiful girl, whose
father had been one of the early partners, and
whose mother was a half breed ;(her grandmother
having been a native of the Cree tribe ;) so that,
although not a pure white, she was fairer than
many who are so called in Europe. He proceeded with her to Fort George ; but the change
of climate, from the dry and healthy plains of
Forts des Prairies to the gloomy forests and incessant rains on the north-w^est coast, was too
much for her delicate frame, and she fell into a
deep consumption. As a last resource her husband determined to send her to Oakinagan to try
the change of air, and requested me to procure
her accommodation at that place for the summer.
This I easily managed. She was accompanied by a younger sister, and an old female
For some days after her arrival we were in
hourly expectation of her death. Her legs and
feet were much swoln, and so hard, that the
greatest pressure created no sensation ; her hair
had fallen off in such quantities as nearly to cause
baldness ; a sable shade surrounded her deeply
sunk eyes. She was in fact little more than a
skeleton, with scarcely any symptoms of vitality,
and her whole appearance betokened approaching dissolution. Such was the state of the unfortunate patient, when an old Indian, who had
for some days observed her sitting in the porch-
door, where she was brought supported on pillows to enjoy the fresh air, called me aside, and
told me he had no doubt of being able to cure
her provided I should agree to his plan; but
added, that he would not give any explanation of
the means he intended to use, for fear we might
! i
laugh at him, unless we consented to adopt them.
We accordingly held a consultation; the result
of which. was, that the Indian should be allowed to follow his own method. It could not
make her worse, and there was a possibility of
Having acquainted him with her acquiescence
he immediately commenced operations by seizing
an ill-looking, snarling, cur dog, which he half
strangled; after which he deliberately cut its
throat. He then ripped open the belly, and
placed the legs and feet of the patient inside, surrounded by the warm intestines, in which position he kept them until the carcase became cold.
He then took them out, and bandaged them with
warm flannel, which he said was i( very good."
The following day another dog lost its life, and
a similar operation was performed. This was
continued for some time, until every ill-disposed
cur in the village had disappeared by the throat-
cutting knife of our dog-destroying doctor, and
we were obliged to purchase some of a superior
breed. While she was undergoing this process
she took in addition, a small quantity of bark
daily in a glass of port wine. In the mean time
the swelling gradually decreased, the fingers lost
their corpse-like nakedness, the hectic flushes became rarer, and "that most pure spirit of sense,"
the eye, gave evident tokens of returning animation. When her strength permitted, she was
placed on the carriage of a brass field piece, supported by bolsters, and drawn occasionally a mile
or two about the prairie. The Indian continued
at intervals to repeat this strange application,
until the swelling had entirely disappeared, and
enabled her once more to make use of her limbs.
Two-and-thirty dogs lost their lives in bringing
about this extraordinary recovery, and among
them might truly be numbered
Mongrel, puppy, whelp, and hound,
And curs of low degree.
She gradually regained possession of her appetite; and when her husband arrived in the
autumn from Fort George, for the purpose of
crossing the mountains, she was strong enough to
accompany him. The following summer, on my
journey across the continent, I met them at Lac
la Pluie. She was in the full enjoyment of
health, and "in the way which ladies wish to be
who love their lords."
Before I quit this subject 1 may be permitted
to mention another remarkable cure by means
nearly similar, which occurred at Fort George.
One of the proprietors, who had been stationed
there for two years, had, like his countryman
Burns, an unconquerable, "penchanta Vadorable
vol. ir. G
moitie du genre humain." And among the flat-
headed beauties of the coast, where chastity is not
classed as the first of virtues, he had unfortunately too many opportunities of indulging his
passion. His excesses greatly impaired his
health, and obliged him to have recourse to the
most powerful medicine of the materia medica.
His constitution was naturally weak, and the
last attack was of so serious a nature, as to
deprive him for some days of the powers of articulation. The contents of the medicine chest
were tried in vain, and all hopes of his recovery
had been abandoned, when a Clatsop Indian undertook to cure him. Mr. M— consented, and a
poor horse, having been selected as a sacrifice,
was shot. The Indian then made an opening in
the paunch sufficiently wide merely to admit the
attenuated body of the patient, who was plunged
in a state of nudity into the foaming mass of
entrails up to the chin. The orifice was tucked
in tightly about his neck, to prevent the escape
of steam, and he was kept in that situation until
the body of the animal had lost its warmth. He
was then conveyed to bed, and enveloped in well-
beated blankets.
The following day he felt considerably better;
and in a few days afterwards another horse
suffered.     He    underwent    a   second    opera-
tion, which was attended by similar results.
From thence he slowly regained his strength;
and by adhering to a strict regimen, was finally
restored to his ordinary health. Horses are
scarce at Fort George, were it not for which circumstance, Mr. M — assured me he would have
killed "two or three more from the beneficial effects they produced on his constitution. His late
illness, however, was so dangerous, and his recovery so unexpected, that it checked for the
future his amatory propensities.
Author nearly blinded by hawks—Foxes—Great number of
wolves—Their method of attacking horses—Lynxes—Bears
—Anecdote of a kidnapping bruin—Ingenious plan of getting off bear-skins—Account of the horses on the Columbia
—Great feat performed by one.
In the great plains on the east side of the Columbia, between Oakinagan and the Spokan lands,
there are, during the autumnal months, plenty of
deer, grouse, wild ducks, and geese.
I spent a great portion of this period with a few
of my men and some Indians on shooting excursions, and had excellent sport.
We stopped one very sultry day about noon to
rest our horses, and enjoy the cooling shade
afforded by a clump of sycamore-trees with a
refreshing draught from an adjoining spring.
Several large hawks were flying about the spot,
two of which we brought down. From their
great size, immense claws, and large hooked
beaks, they could have easily carried off a common-sized duck or goose. Close to our resting-
place was a small hill, round the top of which I
observed the hawks assemble, and judging that a
nest   was   there,   without   communicating   my
intention to any of the party, I determined to
find it out.
I therefore cautiously ascended the eminence,
on the summit of which I perceived a nest larger
than a common-sized market basket, formed of
brauches of trees, one laid regularly over the
other, and the least of which was an inch in circumference. Around it were scattered bones,
skeletons, and half-mangled bodies of pigeons,
sparrows, humming birds, &c. Next to a rattlesnake and a shark, my greatest aversion is a
hawk; and on this occasion it was not diminished
by observing the remains of the feathered tribe,
which had, from time to time, fallen a prey to
their voracious appetite. I therefore determined
to destroy the nest, and disperse its inhabitants;
but I had scarcely commenced the work of demolition with my dagger, when old and young flew
out and attacked me in every direction, but particularly about my face and eyes; the latter of
which, as a punishment for my temerity, they
seemed determined to separate from their sockets.
In the mean time I roared out lustily for
assistance, and laid about me with the dagger.
Three men promptly ran up the hill, and called
out to me to shut my eyes, and throw myself on
the ground, otherwise I should be shortly blinded,
promising in the mean  time to assist  me.    I
obeyed their directions; and just as I began to
kiss the earth, a bullet from one of their rifles
brought doWn a large hawk, apparently the
father of the gang. He fell close to my neck,
and in his expiring agonies made a desperate
bite at my left ear, which I escaped, and in return
gave him the coup de grace, by thrusting about
four inches of my dagger down his throat. The
death of their chieftain was followed by that of
two others, which completely dispersed them;
and we retired after breaking up their den.
Red foxes and wolves are also in great numbers about the plains; but their skins are not now
purchased by the Company, as the price given
for them would not defray the expense of their
The prairie wolves are much smaller than those
which inhabit the woods. They generally travel
together in numbers, and a solitary one is seldom
met with. Two or three of us have often pursued from fifty to one hundred, driving them
before us as quickly as our horses could charge.
Their skins are of no value, and we do not
therefore waste much powder and bair in shooting them. The Indians, who are obliged to pay
dear for their ammunition, are equally careful
not to throw it away on objects that bring no
remunerating value.    The natural consequence
is, that the wolves are allowed to multiply; and
some parts of the country are completely overrun by them.    The Indians catch numbers of
them in traps, which they set in the vicinity of
those places where their tame horses are sent to
graze.    The traps are merely excavations covered
over with slight switches and hay, and baited
with meat, &c, into which the wolves fall, and
being unable to extricate themselves, they perish
by famine, or the knife of the Indian.    These
destructive animals annually destroy numbers of
horses ; particularly during the  winter season,
when the latter get entangled in the snow; in
which situation they become an  easy prey to
their light-footed pursuers, ten or fifteen of which
will often fasten on one animal, and with their
long fangs in a few minutes separate the head
from the body.    If however the horses are not
prevented from using their legs, they sometimes
punish the enemy severely;  as an instance of
this, I saw one morning the bodies of two of our
horses which had been killed the night before,
and around were lying eight dead and maimed
wolves ; some with their brains scattered about,
and others with their limbs and ribs broken by
the hoofs of the furious animals in their  vain
attempts  to escape from their  sanguinary assailants.
While I was at Spokan I went occasionally to
the horse prairie, which is nearly surrounded by
partially-wooded hills, for the purpose of watching the manoeuvres of the wolves in their combined attacks. The first announcement of their
approach was a few shrill currish barks at intervals, like the outpost firing of skirmishing parties. These were answered by similar barking
from an opposite direction, until the sounds gradually approximated, and at length ceased on the
junction of the different parties. We prepared
our guns, and concealed ourselves behind a thick
cover. In the mean time, the horses, sensible of
the approaching danger, began to paw the
ground, snort, toss up their heads, look wildly
about them, and exhibit all the symptoms of
fear. One or two stallions took the lead,
and appeared to wait with a degree of comparative composure for the appearance of the
The allies at length entered the field in a
semi-circular form, with their flanks extended for
the evident purpose of surrounding their prey.
They were between two and three hundred
strong. The horses, on observing their movement knewr from experience its object, and
dreading to encounter so numerous a force, instantly turned round, and galloped off" in a con-
trary direction. Their flight was the signal for
the wolves to advance; and immediately uttering a simultaneous yell, they charged after the
fugitives, still preserving their crescent form.
Two or three of the horses, which were not in
the best condition, were quickly overtaken by
the advanced guard of the enemy. The former,
finding themselves unable to keep up with the
band, commenced kicking at their pursuers, several of which received some severe blows ; but
these being reinforced by others, they would
have shortly despatched the horses, had we not,
just in time, emerged from our place of concealment, and discharged a volley at the enemy's
centre, by which a few were brought down.
The whole battalion instantly wheeled about,
and fled towards the hills in the utmost disorder ; while the horses, on hearing the fire,
changed their course and galloped up to us.
Our appearance saved several of them from the
fangs of their foes; and by their neighing they
seemed to express their joy and gratitude at our
timely interference.
Although the wolves of North America are
the most daring of all the beasts of prey on that
continent, they are by no means so courageous
or ferocious as those of Europe, particularly in
Spain or the South of France, in which countries
they commit dreadful ravages both on man and
beast; * whereas an American wolf, except
forced by desperation, will seldom or ever attack
a human being ; a remarkable instance of which
is mentioned in the detail of my wanderings in
the eighth chapter, Vol. I. The lynxes are by
no means so numerous as the wolves, but they
are equally destructive, and individually more
daring. They generally travel alone, or in
couples, and seldom fly as the wolves do on the
first approach of man. The largest American
lynx does not exceed in size an English mastiff. I
Bears are scarce about the plains, but they are
found in considerable numbers in the vicinity of
the woods and lakes. Their flesh is excellent,
particularly in the summer and autumnal months,
when roots and wild fruit are had in abundance.
They are most dangerous animals to encounter,
* During the late Peninsular war, the Duke of Wellington
had occasion to send despatches by a mounted dragoon, to a
general of division not quite a day's march distant from headquarters. The answer not having arrived at the period it was
expected, His Grace despatched three others to ascertain the
cause. They found the mangled remains of their unfortunate
comrade lying beside those of his horse, and the greater portion of the flesh eaten off their bodies. His sword was firmly
grasped in his mutilated hand, and the dead carcasses of seven
or eight wolves which lay about him exhibited strong marks
of the sabre, and of the desperation with which he fought before he was overpowered by numbers. iP3
 BEARS. 91
especially if they are slightly wounded, or that
any of their cubs are in danger, in which case
they will rush on a man, though he were armed
at all points; and woe to him if Bruin should
once enfold him in his dreadful grasp.
I have seen several of our hunters, as well as
many Indians, who had been dreadfully lacerated
in their encounters with bears: some have been
deprived of their ears, others had their noses
nearly torn off, and a few have been completely
blinded. From the scarcity of food in the spring
months they are then more savage than at any
other season; and during that period it is a
highly dangerous experiment to approach them.
The following anecdote will prove this ; and,
were not the fact confirmed by the concurrent
testimony of ten more, I would not have given
it a place among my memorabilia.
In the spring of this year (1816) Mr. McMillan
had despatched ten Canadians in a canoe down
the Flat-head River on a trading excursion. The
third evening after quitting the fort, while they
were quietly sitting round a blazing fire eating
a hearty dinner of deer, a large half-famished
bear cautiously approached the group from behind an adjacent tree; and before they were
aware of his presence, he sprang across the fire,
seized one of the men (who had a well-furnished
bone in his hand) round his waist, with the two
fore paws, and ran about fifty yards with him on
his hind legs before he stopped. His comrades
were so thunder-struck at the unexpected appearance of such a visitor, and his sudden retreat with pouvre Louisson, that they for some
time lost all presence of mind; and, in a state
of fear and confusion, were running to and fro,
each expecting in his turn to be kidnapped in a
similar manner; when at length Baptiste Le
Blanc, a half-breed hunter, 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 inevitably kill their friend in the position
in which he was then placed. During this
parley Bruin relaxed his grip of the captive,
whom he kept securely under him, and very leisurely began picking the bone which the latter
had dropped. Once or twice Louisson attempted
to escape, which only caused the bear to watch
him more closely ; but on his making another
attempt, he again seized Louisson round the
waist, and commenced giving him one of those
infernal embraces which generally end in death.
The poor fellow was now in great agony, and
vented the most frightful screams; and observing Baptiste with his gun ready, anxiously watching a safe opportunity to fire, he cried out, Tire !
tirei mon cher frere, si tum'aimes. Tire, pour
V'amour du bon Dieu! A latetel a la tete!
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 he gave him an ugly scratch with his claws
across the face, which for some time afterwards
spoiled his beauty. After the shot, Le Blanc
darted to his comrade's assistance, and with his
couteau de chasse quickly finished the sufferings
of the man stealer, and rescued his friend from
impending death; for with the exception of the
above-mentioned scratch, he escaped uninjured.
They commenced the work of dissection with
right good-will; but on skinning the bear, they
found scarcely any meat on his bones; in fact,
the animal had been famishing, and in a fit of
hungry desperation made one of the boldest attempts at kidnapping ever heard of in the legends of ursine courage.
The skins of these animals are not at present
held in the same estimation that they were formerly, particularly the brown or grizzly kind,
few of which are now purchased. Good rich
black ones and cubs still bring a fair price at the
trading posts nearest to Canada and Hudson's
Bay.      . -Mm-     '
About twenty-five years ago the Company had
a great number of bear-skins lying in their stores,
for which there was no demand. One of the directors, a gentlemen 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 expectation. He selected a few of the finest and largest skins in the
store, which he had made into a hammercloth,
splendidly ornamented in silver with the royal
arms. A deputation of the directors then waited
upon a late Royal Duke with the hammercloth,
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. A few days afterwards
the King held a levee, and his illustrious son
proceeded to court in his state-coach with its
splendid hammercloth. It attracted universal attention ; and to every inquiry as to where the
skins were obtained, the answer was, " from the
North-west Company." In three weeks afterwards 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 hammercloth of bear, was voted a bore by his more
lucky brethren.
The skin of the red fox is not now accounted
valuable; and scarcely any are purchased. The
Indians therefore seldom trouble themselves in
hunting these animals, and in some districts they
are consequently greatly on the increase. There
are no black foxes on the Columbia; but next to
them in beauty and value are the silver grey,
which bring a high price, and several of which
are purchased at Oakinagan and Spokan. The
mandarins of China hold them in great estimation, and those which we sent to Canton were
eagerly purchased for their use.
The number of horses among the various
tribes on the Columbia and its tributary streams
differs with the circumstances of the country.
Among the Flat-heads, Cootonais, Spokans, &c,
whose lands are rather thickly wooded, there are
not more than sufficient for their actual use, and
every colt, on arriving at the proper age, is
broken in for,the saddle.- But in the countries
inhabited by the Wallah Wallahs, Nez Perces,
and Shoshones, which chiefly consist of open
plains, well watered and thinly wooded, they are
far more numerous, and thousands are allowed
to go wild. Their general height is about fifteen
hands, which they seldom exceed; and ponies
are very scarce. Those reared in the plains are
excellent hunters, and the swiftest racers; but
are not capable of enduring the same hardships
as those bred in the vicinity of the high and
woody districts. We have seen from seven hundred to a thousand wild horses in a band ; and
some of the party who crossed the continent by
the Missouri route, told me that in parts of the
country belonging to the Snake Indians, bands
varying from three to four thousand were frequently seen ; and further to the southward they
are far more numerous.* The Indian horses
are never shod; and, as we were equally with
them deprived of smith, farrier, and iron, we
were unable to introduce that valuable practice
into the country. Owing to this circumstance,
their hoofs, particularly of such as are in constant
work, are nearly worn away before they are ten
or eleven years old, after which they are unfit
for any labour except carrying children. They
are easily managed, and are seldom vicious. An
Indian horse is never taught to trot. The natives dislike this pace, and prefer to it the canter
or light gallop. They are hard taskmasters;
and the hair-rope bridles, with the padded deerskin saddles which they use, lacerate the mouths
and backs of the unfortunate animals in such a
* The Spaniards at St. Francisco informed our traders that
in the year 1812, they were obliged to kill upwards of 30,000
horses in California in order to preserve sufficient grass for
the buffalo, the fat of which forms an article for exportation.
manner, as to render them at times objects of
commiseration to men of harder hearts than the
late worthy member for Galway. In summer
they have no shelter from the heat J in winter no
retreat from the cold; and their only provender
throughout the year is the wild loose grass of
the prairies, which in the latter season is generally covered with snow; and" in the former is
brown and arid, from the intense heat of the sun.
I have already given some details of the hardships to which the horses in this country are
subject, and shall merely add one anecdote more.
In the spring of 1813, before the dissolution of
the Pacific Fur Company, while I was stationed
at Spokan House with Mr. Clarke, he received
a letter from Mr. Farnham, who had the charge
of the party sent to the Flat-heads, stating that
he bad arrived at the Flat-head portage, a distance of seventy-two miles from Spokan House,
where he should be obliged to remain a few
days to recruit his horses ; that his trading goods
were exhausted, and he was entirely out of tobacco ; that a large party of Flat-heads were following them With a quantity of valuable skins;
that his rival, Mr. McDonald, was also unsup-
plied with tobacco; that whichever of them gof
the first supply of that article would, by treating
the Indians to a grand smoking-match, succeed
VOL.   II. h
in getting the produce of their hunt; and that
in order to attain that object, it was absolutely
necessary, the tobacco required should be with
him that night, otherwise the natives would all
go over in a body to Mr. M'Donald, with
whom they had been longer acquainted than
with him.
It was eleven o'clock in the forenoon when
this letter reached us, and Mr. Clarke thought it
impossible for any horse to go a distance of
seventy-two miles during the remainder of that
day: at all events, he knew that none of the
Company's horses were fit for such a task; and
was about giving up the idea as hopeless, when I
offered to undertake it, with a celebrated horse
of his own, called j Le Bleu." The case was
important: a blow was necessary to be struck;
and although he prized the horse above all his
chattels in the Indian countrv, he at once deter-
mined to sacrifice his private feelings to the interests of the Company. Two men were selected to accompany me, and orders were given
to catch (e Le Bleu" He was a noble animal,
between fifteen and sixteen hands high, seven
years of age, admirably built, and derived his
name from his colour, which was a dappled white
and sky-blue. He was also a prime racer, and
had beaten all competitors on the turf.
Owing to the delay occasioned by catching
the horses we did not start till twelve o'clock.
I remained in company with the men for the first
two hours at a slight canter, after which I took
itbe lead in a hard gallop, and quickly lost sight
of them. I followed an excellent well-beaten
$»athway for upwards of sixty miles through the
Pointed-heart Plains ; but late in the evening it
brought me to a thick wood, through which it
runs for a distance of ten miles, when it terminates at the portage.
Shortly after entering the wood, night overtook
me; and I several times lost the pathway, which,
owing to the darkness, and a quantity of fallen
trees and brushwood, became extremely intricate.
The sagacity of my horse, however, extricated
me from these Sgaremens, and a little after eight
o'clock I emerged from the forest, and was delighted at the cheering appearance of a range of
fires along the banks of the river. The Bleu,
which had been for some time drooping, on
seeing the light, knew his task was at an end,
and galloped up in fine style to Farnham's tent,
when he was immediately let loose to regale himself in the prairie.
I had brought a few fathoms of thick twist-
tobacco with me ; on learning which the Indians
crowded about us, and in a few seconds each
man's head was enveloped in clouds of smoke.
They promised that we should have all their
skins; but in order to make assurance doubly
sure, we requested them to bring their respective
packages to the tent, and deposit them therein
until morning. This was at once complied with,
after which the smoking recommenced. About
two hours after, two of our rivals arrived with a
quantity of tobacco. They had started from Spokan shortly after me, but were never able to overtake the gallant Bleu. They were much better
acquainted with the intricacies of the pathway
through the wood than I was; and if their horses
haki been equal to mine, it is very probable the
result would have been different. They were
much chagrined at our success; and on taxing
the Indians with having deserted them for strangers, they replied, that being the first to satisfy
their hungry cravings for tobacco, they could do
no less than give us the preference; but added
that they would punctually pay them any debts
which they had contracted with Mr. McDonald,
which promise they faithfully kept.
About midnight the two men, whom I had
left behind me, reached the encampment^ They
also were for some time lost in the wood, and.
like myself were obliged to depend on the sagacity of their horses to. set them right.
We returned to Spokan House by easy stages;
but I did not ride the Bleu. In less than a week
after he was perfectly recovered from the fatigue
of his journey, and in the summer of the same
year beat the fleetest horses of both Companies,
on the race-course.
Letter from the proprietors—Author winters at Oakinagan—
Letter from Mr. Mackenzie—A number of horses stolen—
Successful Plan to recover them—Description of soil, climate, productions, &c. of the lower part of the Columbia.
The summer of 1816 did not tend to diminish
my growing aversion to the Indian country.
Horse-racing, deer-hunting, and groose-shooting
were pleasant pastimes enough, but the want of
companionable society rendered every amusement
1 stale, flat, and unprofitable." Zimmerman in
vain displayed the charms of solitude: he never
vegetated among savages. Bad French and
worse Indian began to usurp the place of English,
and I found my conversation gradually becoming
a barbarous compound of various dialects. The
cherished object too of a young man's ambition
was still at an immeasurable distance, and 1 felt
that an old age [of affluence could only be purchased by the sacrifice in youth of all the comforts of social life. In the midst of these and
similar reflections the monotony of my life was,
for a moment, relieved by the arrival of Mr.
Donald Mackenzie with two canoes and twenty
men from Fort William. This gentleman had
been one of the proprietors of the Pacific Fur
Company, from which, after its dissolution, he
changed to the North-west. He was now on
his way to Fort George with despatches, and took
charge of the autumn brigade to that place. By
Mr. Mackenzie I received letters from home,
which at once determined me to apply for leave
to quit the country ; and having written to the
proprietors to that effect, I received the following
answer: viz.—
** Fort George, September 30th, 1816.
f Dear Sir,
"In acceding to your most earnest request
of being discharged from our service ensuing
spring, we give way to the voice of nature and
of humanity, which cannot, will not for a moment allow us to hesitate, when the object is to
Te-animate and cheer up the drooping spirits of
your venerable and aged parents. At the same
time rest assured that on no other consideration
could we ever be induced to part with your most
useful services, more particularly at a period
when we are on the eve of being put to such
shifts to fill up the different requisitions.
f| As to your character, as far as prudence, integrity, and perseverance, joined to an unceasing
desire to please and render yourself useful, can
command regard, you certainly are deservingly
entitled to ours, and no encomium on our part
could add to our high opinion of your merit.
(e In expectation of seeing you next spring at
this place, prior to your taking your final departure, we remain, with sincere regard,
;      .   -f«V- "Dear Sir,   I. '
j? Your most obedient servants,
" James Keith,
" Angus Bethune,
" Donald Mackenzie,
i For North-west Company."
■II  1
Mr. Mackenzie was himself the bearer of this
letter. ^ He strongly urged me to change my resolution, and declared if I consented to remain
in the country my promotion should take place
in a short time after the expiration of my engagement ; but as my mind was made up to return
home, I refused acceding to his friendly wishes.
It was arranged I should pass the winter in my
present post, (Oakinagan,) in which, on account
of my popularity with the natives, I had succeeded in obtaining more furs than most of my
predecessors. Mr. Mackenzie went to Spokan
^with Messrs. M'Donald and Montour for the
oiu-posts,  Mr.  Ross proceeded  to  Kamloops,
*        «. r
and Mr. McMillan to his old post at the Flat-
Mr. Mackenzie had made arrangements with
the chiefs of the various tribes for the transmission of an express from Oakinagan to Fort
George, promising to each a handsome present,
provided it reached its destination, and that an
answer was brought back. In pursuance of this
plan, he forwarded despatches to the sea, to
which he received an answer, as will be seen
from the following letter :—
" Spokan House, February 12th, 1817.
" Dear Cox, ^
% It was but yesterday, on my return from the
Nez-Perces, that I had the pleasure of perusing
your much esteemed letter of the 29th of December. My despatches reached Fort George in
thirty-six days, and were answered on the 12th of
December ; so that in sixteen days from the fort
they reached your place. The safety of this conveyance will, I hope, do away with the necessity
of the usual Fall voyage to the sea. On arriving
here I found I had ninety souls to provide with
the necessaries of life, and therefore determined
on an excursion to Lewis River. Your friend,
Mr. McDonald, accompanied me, and,  besides
Hi! ?
the Canadians, I took ten Sandwich Islanders,
whom I armed and accoutred quite en militaire.
The Nez-Perc6s did not half relish the swarthy
aspect of these invincibles, and fancied I intended to resent former grudges. However, we did
not see them all.
" My trip has simply answered the purpose of
obtaining provisions for the passing day, which,
at this post, I assure you has been no contemptible attainment. The horses I purchased are
already nearly consumed; you will therefore, I
trust, excuse my sending two of my people in
your direction. I have ordered them to encamp
in your environs; and the Nipising, who is
chasseur, is to supply your board with game.
It will prove a seasonable variety to your dried
ce I regret the frost prevents me sending you
potatoes : they would be of no service. I have
received accounts from Mr. M'Millan. He informs me he was nearly surrounded by the Pie-
gans (the Black-feet); but they were prevented
by hunger from advancing near enough to the
fort. He has had a lucky escape. Should you
be induced to alter your mind about quitting the
Company, I shall feel very happy by your remaining with us. You may rely on all I have
told you.   You need feel no scruples on that
head. I passed an agreeable time with our friend
Finan.' He is certainly a most worthy mortal,
and desires to be remembered to you.
I Yours, &c.
$ Donald Mackenzie."*
Mr. Mackenzie, as already mentioned, had
crossed the continent with Mr. Hunt. In the
course of that journey he passed through the
lands of the Snake Indians, in which he observed
great numbers of beavers; and his chief motive
in coming to the Columbia was to form a trading establishment in that dangerous district, no
attempt at which had been made since the massacre of Mr. Read and his party. Mr. Mackenzie was peculiarly qualified for this hazardous undertaking. He was an experienced trader, and
possessed an accurate knowledge of the localities
of the country. He could, with his rifle, drive
a dozen balls consecutively at one hundred paces
through a Spanish dollar, which accomplishment
alone was enough to secure him the respect of
the Indians. To the most cautious prudence he
united the most dauntless intrepidity; in fact,
no hardships could fatigue, no dangers intimidate him.    As we had many reasons to suspect
* This gentleman is now governor of the colony established
at Red River. H^
tedious winter residence.
that the Pierced-rioses, through whose lands a
party proceeding to the country of the Snakes
must pass, were actuated by feelings of hostility,
Mr. Mackenzie undertook the winter's trip to
Lewis River, not so much for the purpose of
purchasing horses, (for that Mr. M' Donald could
have done,) as to form a judgment from personal observation of their disposition. Although
his reception was not the most friendly, he was
satisfied there was little danger to be apprehended, and he therefore determined to make the
attempt early in the summer.
I passed five weary winter months at Oakinagan without a friend to converse with ; and the
severity of the season debarred me from the exercise of field sports, which, during the summer,
partially relieved the unsocial tedium of my existence. Tea and tobacco were my only luxuries ; and my pipe was my pot-companion. Dried
salmon was our principal article of food, with a
bit of lean deer, with which the natives occasionally supplied us, like
Angels' visits, few and far between.
Our horses were too few and too poor for the
kettle ; and scarcely a week elapsed that one did
not fall a victim to the villanous wolves which
infested the snow-covered plains.
One morning in the beginning of February,
the men whom I had sent out to collect the
"horses found ten missing, and the fresh traces of
human feet in the snow convinced them they
must have been stolen. I immediately sent for
the Oakinagan chief, and told him I should require his assistance in recovering the horses. This
he readily granted, and forthwith ordered five of
his young men to catch their horses and join him
at the fort. I selected three Canadians and two
Sandwich Islanders to accompany me, and in less
than an hour all our warlike arrangements were
completed. We proceeded in the first instance
to the prairie; and the chief having made his observations, declared at once they must have been
stolen by the Sinapoils. It had Snowed hard the
preceding night; which circumstance, without
the assistance of the Indians, would have puzzled
our men to find out the traces of the robbers.
Thechiefhowever quickly discovered their route,
and we followed his guidance until late in the
evening, when we were obliged to stop to rest the
horses, and take a little refreshment. He told me
we were within a few hours' march of the robbers,
and advised us to continue on during the night,
by which means we were certain of catching
them unprepared, when we could kill them all,
and recover our horses.    Having no relish for
raising scalps, I declined his sanguinary proposal;
at whidh he did not appear too well pleased.
We resumed our journey before day-break the
following morning ; and after riding about two
hours, the chief desired us to dismount, and lead
our horses. We complied. In less than half an
hour our path opened into a small glen, in the
bottom of which were half a dozen mat-covered
lodges, and around them we perceived about fifteen horses scraping the snow. The stolen ones
were among them. We instantly mounted ; and
before the robbers were aware of our approach
we had surrounded their miserable encampment.
On hearing the war-hoop of our Oakinagan
allies, they rushed out, partly armed; but seeing
our numbers, they held down their bows, and
quietly submitted. I never saw such a group of
meagre wretches.    They were quite naked; and
Sharp misery had worn them to the bones.
Their wives and children crouched under mats,
and kept up a howling cry, while the Oakinagan
chief thus addressed them :—
I Sinapoils! you are dogs; you are robbers.
You stole the horses from our good friends the
white men; and as a punishment we shall now
take away your horses."    One of them replied :
% We are dogs; we are robbers; we did steal
the good white men's horses; but we are poor,
and cold, and hungry. The wolves destroyed all
our own horses but five ; and as our dried salmon
was all gone, and our wives and children starving, sooner th^h see them die, we took the horses
from the white men, because we knew they were
good people, and could easily purchase others.
We are sorry for what we have done ; but if you
take our five remaining horses, 'we shall all die
of hunger."
This appeal made no impression on the flinty-
hearted chief, who counselled us to take the five
horses as a punishment to the robbers. i?I refused
however to adopt his advice ; for, independently
of the inhumanity of such a course, I did not
deem it prudent to resort to measures of severity
against a tribe who might have many opportunities of retaliating on our hunters in the plains. I
therefore told them that in consequence of their
starving condition, we would abstain from
punishing them on that occasion, but any future
trespass should not escape with impunity. As
they all appeared to want something to eat, I
ordered one of their horses to be shot, and leaving the body for their own use, we returned to
the fort, which we reached late that evening.
Our forbearance produced no expression of gra-
titude from the Sinapoils ; and the chief reproached us for having acted in such a mild
manner. I made him and his young men a suitable present, and so ended this pursuit of the
\ black-mail' drovers.
* As this was the last winter I spent in the
Indian country, I shall, before commencing the
journal of my voyage across the continent, give
some brief remarks on the soil and productions
of the various districts on the Columbia, the manners and customs of the different tribes, their
distinctive peculiarities, &c.
The climate about the entrance of the river,
and thence to the first rapids, is mild. The mercury seldom falls below the freezing point; and
never rises above 80. Westerly winds prevail
during the spring and summer months, and are
succeeded by north-westers, which blow pretty
freshly during the autumn. October ushers in
the south wind and rain, both of which continue
without intermission until January, when the
wind begins to veer to the westward; but the
rain seldom ceases until the termination of April.
The gentlemen who have wintered at Fort
George tell me the torrents which pour down
during this period are dreadful. For weeks together the sun is invisible; and the only protection for those whose duty compels them to be in
the open air, is a shirt made from the intestines
of the sea-lion, the parts of which are ingeniously
sewed together with fine threads of nerf. A,
kind of capuchon, or hood, is attached to thjb
collar; and when this garde-pluie is on, th$
wearer may bid defiance to the heaviest rain\
These shirts are made by the natives in the vicinity of the Russian settlements to the northward f
of the Columbia, and some of them are neatly
Nature has been peculiarly bountiful to the
natives of this district; and nothing but the
grossest neglect of her gifts can reduce them to
want. The spring months supply them with
immense quantities of small fish resembling pilchard, which by Lewis and Clarke are called
anchovies. These are smoke-dried, and form an
important article of barter with the upper Indians
for roots.
From June to the latter end of August they
have an abundance of deliciously-flavoured salmon, which, from its richness, at first produced a
general dysentery among our people.
We found the wild raspberries an excellent
remedy for this disorder, which was effectually
checked by their astringent qualities.
The months of August and September furnish
a plentiful supply of prime sturgeon.    This fish
vol. u. I
attains a great size. Some of those we took were
eleven feet in length ; and, with the entrails out,
weighed from three to four hundred pounds.
This period also produces a variety of wild
fruit:—in June, small white strawberries of
sweet flavour; these are followed by red and
amber raspberries of the ordinary size, but somewhat sour. They are found in moist shady
grounds, and grow on bushes from ten to fifteen
feet high.
During the months of July, August, and September, the following kinds of fruit are obtained
in considerable quantities: viz. blue-berries,
black-berries, wild cherries, gooseberries, wild
pears, and a species of bitter crab-apple, which
cannot be used unless coddled or boiled.
There is an evergreen about the size of a common gooseberry bush, and with small thick leaves
resembling laurel. In the month of August it
produces abundance of fruit of a small oblong
form, which grow in thick clusters. This fruit
has an insipid taste but is looked on as healthy,
and great quantities of it may be eaten without
injury. It is much esteemed by the natives, who
preserve it for their winter use, by making it
into small cakes, which are gradually dried before a slow fire.
The country also abounds in various nutritive
roots, of which the Indians are extremely fond,
and some of which are excellent anti-scorbutics.
They collect large quantities of a kind resembling
young onions, which, in the first instance, they
dry on hot stones. They are then pulverised,
and, being worked into a paste, are formed into
loaves from five to six pounds weight, which they
lay by for seasons of scarcity. This bread has
a taste resembling liquorice. An inferior description of fish resembling salmon is taken in the
months of October and November. It is poor,
dry, and has an insipid taste. The flesh is white,
the teeth long, the snout bent like the beak of a
parrot, and it contains very little substance.
The principal quadrupeds are the elk, red deer,
black-tailed deer ; the black, brown, and grizzly
bear, the last of which is extremely ferocious;
the wolf, panther, tiger-cat, wild-cat, marmot,
beaver, land-otter, musk-rat, wood-rat, and, the
most valuable of all the fur tribe, the sea-otter.
White bears are occasionally killed on the coast
to the northward of the Columbia; but they are
The most remarkable of the feathered tribe are
the black, brown, and nun eagle; the hawk, pelican, and cormorant; the swan, heron, crane,
bustard, grey and white goose, and various species of wild ducks, Sec.
The soil in the vallevs consists of a bed of rich
black mould, about six inches in depth, which
covers a stratum of grey earth extremely cold.
The latter lies on a layer of large gravelly sand;
and under all is a bed of hard flinty stones. On
the high grounds, under a thin covering of black
mould, are found good quarry stones well adapted
for building. There is a bank of white earth resembling chalk to the southward of Point Adams;
and further on, in the same direction, the Indians
find red, green, and yellow earths, and a species
of heavy shining clay, resembling lead-mine. No
limestone is found in the neighbourhood.
Few of the various vegetable seeds which were
planted came to perfection. The turnips indeed
attained a prodigious size. One weighed fifteen
pounds and a half, and was thirty-three inches in
circumference ; they were in flower at the end of
December, and were left in the ground ; but the
seeds were destroyed by the mice which infested
the garden. The radishes throve tolerably w7ell;
but owing to the coldness of the earth, the potatoes failed the second year.
The trees most common in the neighbourhood
of Fort George are the cedar, spruce, pine, alder,
&c> The cedars are from twenty to thirty feet in
circumference, and proportionably high. The
alders  are also extremely large, some of them
measuring from twelve to twenty inches in diameter. A few leagues above the fort, ash and oak
are found; the former is of tolerable size; but the
latter, compared with its noble brother in England, is a mere dwarf.
In the 14th chapter, Vol. I., I have referred to
the peculiarities, moral qualities, and mechanical
ingenuity of the natives who reside about the
mouth of the Columbia. Little therefore remains to be said on these subjects. The same
kind of houses and canoes, the same flattening of
the heads, an equal love of thieving and lying on
the part of the men; shameless profligacy among
the women; the same mode of living, and a
similarity in their manner of burial, are observable among the various tribes, from the rapids to
the ocean. They all, too, speak the same language, which is decidedly the most unpronounceable compound of gutturals ever formed for the
communication of human thoughts, or the expression of human wants. The following are a
few of their words:
Icht, one.
Makust, two.
Thlowvb, three.
Latent, four.
Quannum, five.
Takut, six.
Sinebakust, seven.
Stouktekane, eight.
Quaiust, nine.
Itallilum, ten.
Ekoun icht, eleven.
Ekoun makust, twelve.
Makust thlalt, twenty.
Moolak, a deer.
Mittaight   o   kok,    sit   down
Tone tse   koolama,   show me
your pipe.
Patlach nam maika ? will yon
give it to me ?
Equannet, salmon.
Kaienoult, tobacco.
Passischqua, a blanket.
Tillikum, men.
Kamoox, a dog.
Sakquallal, a gun.
Mr. Franchere, who attained a more thorough
knowledge of their language than any one in the
Company's service, states that the letters F, V,
and others, are not articulated in any of their
words. The letter R is also wanting; but some
words, pronounced with a thick guttural lisp,
such as chreluit, approach its sound. The combinations thl, tl, and It, are frequent, and are also
very common in the Mexican language.
In proportion as we approach the rapids from
the sea, female impurity becomes less perceptible;
beyond this point it entirely ceases. I think it
necessary to mention this fact, in consequence of
the sweeping censure passed by Lewis and Clarke
on all the women between the Rocky Mountains
and the sea. The reader must not suppose that
I wish to cast any doubt on the general accuracy
of those intelligent travellers; indeed, circumstanced as they were, the immense fund of correct
and valuable information contained in their journal is surprising ; but in this instance they have
wandered from the fact.
Having ascended the Colombia nine times, and
descended it eight, I had better opportunities of
judging of the manners of the natives than those
who merely passed up and down; and during
those various journeys I never saw the slightest
approximation to levity of manners among the
women above the rapids.
The two most important rivers which fall into
,jthe Columbia below the rapids are the Wallamat,
or Multnomahj and the Coweliskee. The entrance of the former is about one hundred miles
from the sea, and its general course is a little to
the eastward of south. I was merely a few miles
above its junction with the Columbia; but Messrs.
Clapp, Franchere, and Halsey, who ascended it
a considerable distance, state that it runs through
a low well-wooded country for upwards of sixty
miles, when the navigation is interrupted by a
considerable fall, above which the channel contracts, and the banks become higher and less
woody. The climate in the Wallamat is remarkably mild, and not so moist as that on the coast.
It possesses a rich and luxuriant soil, which yields
an abundance of fruits and roots.* The Indians
are tranquil: there are no noxious reptiles; beaver, deer, and elk are plentiful;  and when, in
* A few years since the tobacco plant was discovered in the
Wallamat. The samples sent home are, I understand, of an
excellent description.
the course of time, the improvements of scientific
cultivation extend to the Columbia, the country
about the Wallamat will be rendered one of the
most delightful districts to the westward of the
Rocky Mountains. We know little of the
Coweliskee. It enters the Columbia about half a
day's march below the Wallamat from the northward : its banks are high, and thickly wooded,
and the current much interrupted by rapids.
Our traders, owing to the difficulty of the navigation, did not ascend it more than thirty miles.
The tribe who inhabit its banks are called the
Skilloots. They are friendly, and differ little
from the lower Indians.
Description of climate, soil, &c. above the rapids—Sketch of
various tribes—The Chohoptins—Yackamans—Oakinagans
—Sinapoils—Spokans—Anecdote -Pointed-hearts—Cause
of war—Cootonais—Kettle Indians—Kamloops, &c.
I have already alluded so often to the natives
about the first rapids, and the great falls, that I
may here pass them over with a few words explanatory of the causes that induced them to
commit so many acts of hostility. In their various contests with the tribes below the former,
and above the latter, they were generally the
greatest sufferers, owing to the fire-arms which
those opposed to them obtained from us in exchange for their furs, horses, &c.
There are no animals of the fur kind in the
neighbourhood of the falls, and scarcely any
about the rapids :* there is therefore nothing to
induce us to establish a trading post at either
place : and as the natives are aware of this, and
of their  consequent  inability to  procure fire-
* The animals which Lewis and Clarke saw at this place,
and which they called sea-otters, are seals. We have killed
them as high up as the Dalles below the falls.
\i t
arms, &c, they, like the Black-feet, identify us
with their old enemies, and allow no opportunity
to escape of attacking and robbing us. A small
party, unencumbered by merchandise, may pass
in safety; otherwise, as has been already seen, it
is a hazardous experiment.
From the falls to the lands of the Spokans, the
climate is remarkably healthy; in summer, excessively hot; in winter, intensely cold ; but
subject during these seasons to little variation.
A cloud is seldom seen; and during the various
journeys I have made up and down the Columbia, I did not witness in the above space ten
rainy days.
The soil is unproductive, and is chiefly a light
yellowish sandy clay. The plains are covered
with a short kind of grass, mixed with prickly
pears, wormwood, and tufts of long coarse grass
from three to four feet high. Patches of clover
are here and there visible, and in their vicinity
the chappallel, and the camas or quamash roots,
mentioned by Lewis and Clarke, are found.
Wild onions grow in considerable quantities
along the banks of the river above the falls.
They are small, and from March to May their
flavour is excellent; but* after the latter month
they lose their relish, and become dry and hard.
Cotton-wood, small willow, sumac, furze, and
sarsaparilla, are also found occasionally on the
sides of the Columbia; but from the falls, until
we approach Spokan River, none of the larger
trees are visible. Throughout this distance
(about five hundred miles) our only fuel was derived from the timber drifted down by the spring
freshes from the upper parts of the Columbia,
and which in some particular bends of the river
accumulates in great quantities. In other places,
however, it is very scarce ; and when wre could
not purchase drift-wood from Indians, we were
often obliged to encamp without any fire.
The principal animals are horses, small deer,
prairie wolves, red foxes, badgers, polecats,
hares, and dogs. Otters are sometimes seen; but
the great staple animal, the beaver, is a stranger
to this district. The Indians allege that buffaloes
were formerly numerous about the plains, and
assert that the remains of these animals are still
found. Between Lewis River and Spokan House
we saw many bleached antlers of elk, together
with the large curved horns of the sheep which
are now found in the vicinity of the Rocky
Mountains* These animals have long since fled
from the plains. None of the present race of Indians have seen any of* them, and are unable to
account for their disappearance. We were equally
at a loss to divine the cause;  and whether the
annual burning of the grass by the natives in
hunting the deer had any influence in driving
them away, I shall leave to the curious in animal
emigration to determine.
No rattlesnakes are seen below the falls. A
short distance above them these reptiles make
their first appearance, and are numerous so far as
the Chaudiere falls, a couple of days' march above
which they totally disappear. There is in some
places a small black snake, the bite of which
causes death much quicker than that of the rattlesnake. An old Indian near Oakinagan told me
that a child of his, a girl about five years old,
one day looking for blue-berries with other children, was bitten by a very small black snake, and
died in about an hour afterwards. There are
numbers of dark-brown, green, and garter snakes,
but they are perfectly innocuous.
I have already spoken of the Wallah Wallahs,
and of their friendly disposition. With the exception of the attack in the autumn of 1814, they
never manifested any hostility to our people ;
and we had reason to know the part they took in
that transaction was compulsory. The entrance of
their river is inlat. 46° 4'. There is scarcely any
beaver on their lands; but deer, wild fowl, and
roots, are obtained in plenty, and, with the
salmon, constitute their principal food.  They are
a well-formed race, cleanly in their persons, good
hunters, and excellent horsemen. The Chohop-
tins, or Nez-Perces, differ little from them in their
language, customs, or mode of living. The productions of their lands are nearly similar; and
they have immense bands of wild and tame horses.
They reside principally on the banks of Lewis
River, and are a numerous and powerful tribe.
They and the Wallah Wallahs are constantly at
war with the Shoshones, or Snake Indians, who
inhabit the great plains to the southward. The
only cause assigned by the Wallah Wallahs for
this war is, that the Snakes interdict them from
hunting the black-tailed deer, which are numer
rous on their lands, and in retaliation they oppose
the latter in their endeavours to catch salmon in
the Columbia. They allege that this opposition
would cease if the Shoshon6s abandoned their
claim to the exclusive right of hunting the black-
tailed deer. As this is a privilege, howTever,
which the latter are not willing to concede, their
warfare may be interminable.
The Yackamans are a numerous tribe, who inhabit the lands on the northern banks of the
Columbia, from its junction above Lewis River
until some distance above a river which flows
from the northward, and is called after the name
of the tribe.    They are on friendly terms with
the Chohoptins and Wallah Wallahs, and make
common cause with them against the Shoshon6s.
From the falls to this place, there is little variation in the dress of the natives. • The men
wear leathern shirts and gaiters, and the women
are covered with shifts of the same material; but
a short distance above the Yackaman river, and
from thence to Oakinagan, we met during the
fishing season some straggling bands, wretchedly
poor, and nearly naked. The men are without
any garments. The women wear a leathern belt
round the waist, from which a narrow slip passes
from the front, and is secured behind, something
in the manner of the maro worn by the male
natives of the Sandwich Islands. The rest of
their persons is quite naked ; and their appearance, particularly that of their old women, is extremely disgusting. They have few horses; and
other animals are scarce on their lands.
Continuing our course upwards, we arrive
among the Oakinagans, where decency in covering again appears. Of this tribe I have already
spoken sufficiently; and shall therefore merely
remark, that although far from cleanly in their
lodges, they keep their persons always well covered. The latitude of Oakinagan is 48° 6' north,
and the longitude about 117° west.
The next tribe we meet are the Sinapoils, who
occupy a district on the northern banks of the
Columbia, between the Spokan and Oakinagan
rivers. They subsist principally on salmon and
cam mas, and sometimes small deer. Beaver is
scarce; and they are consequently poorer than
the neighbouring tribes, on whose lands that valuable animal abounds. They are dirty and slothful ; and, from their habits of dishonesty, are regarded by the other natives with the utmost contempt. From the poverty of their territory no
trading post has been hitherto established amongst
them. This circumstance has indisposed them
towards the white men, and they seized every
opportunity of committing depredations on our
people. They are however poor in arms, and
poorer in spirit; and their aggressions were
chiefly confined to petty pilfering and horsestealing.
The Sinapoils are much addicted to gambling,
and its concomitant vice, quarrelling. We could
never rightly ascertain whether they had a chief;
but from their insubordination, local feuds, and
love of thieving, we were inclined to doubt the
existence of any controlling authority. They
never committed any open act of hostility on us;
but this we had good reason to know was occasioned by the manner in which they were kept
in check by the friendly tribes of Spokan, Oakin*.
agan, and Kamloops; any of whom would not
only willingly take our part, but would punish
the assailants with greater severity than we might
be inclined to use if left to our own discretion.
In justice however to this unfortunate race, it
must be borne inmiud that they are tantalised by
seeing in the possession of their neighbours, the
Oakinagans and Spokans, various articles which
they obtain in exchange for the productions of
their more favoured lands; and the Sinapoils
therefore cannot resist the temptation, when opportunity offers, to steal from the traders what
the poverty of their country prevents them from
obtaining honestly.
About forty-five miles above the Sinapoil village, Spokan river joins the Columbia from the
eastward. At Oakinagan the plains begin to disappear ; and from thence to the Sinapoil lands
high naked bluffs predominate. A short distance
above the latter place some straggling pines become visible, which increase thence upwards in
size and quantity. The Spokans have a small
village at the entrance of their river, but their
chief and permanent place of residence is about
forty miles higher up, where we built our fort,
and where the Pointed-heart river joins the Spokan from the south-east. Their lands present
a  pleasing variety of well-wooded hills, open
prairies, and rich flat bottoms, which produce
abundance of nutritive roots and wild fruit.
Beaver, deer, and various kinds of wild fowl,
&c. are occasionally plentiful, while their river
supplies them with excellent salmon, trout, and
carp. Yet, notwithstanding these advantages,
such is their improvidence, that they are often
reduced to starvation. In times of scarcity they
collect a quantity of pine moss, which they boil,
and form into a kind of black cake about half an
inch thick. It is a horrible preparation, and has
a bitter saponaceous taste.
The Spokans are an honest friendly tribe.
They are good hunters, but somewhat indolent,
fond of gambling, despotic husbands, and indulgent fathers. Their women are great slaves, and
most submissive to marital authority. They did
not exhibit the same indifference to the superior
comforts of a white man's wife as that displayed
by the Flat-head women, and some of them consequently became partners of the voyageurs. They
made excellent wives, and in general conducted
themselves with propriety. Although the Spokan
men are extremely jealous, and punish with
severity any infidelity on the part of their wives,
they are themselves not over-scrupulous in their
own conduct. We learned from the wives of the
voyageurs, that female violation is by no means
VOL. II. K.      te
uncommon among them. The frequent journeys
which the women in the execution of their laborious duties are obliged to make alone into the
woods in search of fuel, roots, &c. afford great
facility to the commission of this offence; and
the ravisher depends on impunity from the well-
known fear of the woman to tell her husband,
who might either abandon her, or, by taking the
offender's life, embroil their respective families
in a sanguinary contest.
Slavish and submissive as the Spokan women
are, they do not all tamely submit to the occasional lapses of their husbands ; an instance of
which occurred in the summer of 1815, while I
was at Spokan House. One of the tribe named
Singhelsasscoghaght, (or the horse,) from his
great swiftness, and dexterity in riding, was a tall
and rather handsome Indian. He was remarkable for his gallantries, and it was also whispered
among the females that he never spared a woman
whom he caught unprotected in the woods. His
wife had for some time suspected him of carrying
on an intrigue, and, being constantly on the
watch, she soon discovered that her suspicions
were not groundless. The very night of the dis^
covery, while he was in a profound sleep, she in-:
flicted on him a dreadful injury, of which he died
before morning.    On the intelligence becoming
 public, a crowd of his relations assembled round
the lodge, to whom she openly avowed herself as
the author of his death, stating at the same time
her reasons for committing the dreadful act; but
she had scarcely finished, when an arrow from
her husband's brother quivered in her heart. Her
relations instantly collected. Guns, arrows, and
tomahawks were in immediate requisition, and
before we could arrive to check the bloody conflict, two men and two women had fallen victims. Our presence restored tranquillity; and,
as the sufferers on each side were equally divided,
we experienced no great difficulty in bringing
about a reconciliation, and each party rested satisfied with its respective loss.
The Pointed-hearts, or, as the Canadians call
them, les Cceurs d'Alenes, (Hearts of Awls,) are a
small tribe inhabiting the shores of a lake about
fifty miles to the eastward of Spokan House.
Their country is tolerably well stocked with beaver, deer, wild-fowl, &c.; and its vegetable productions are similar to those of Spokan. Some
of this tribe occasionally visited our fort at the
latter place with furs to barter, and we made a
few excursions to their lands. We found them
uniformly honest in their traffic ; but they did not
evince the same warmth of friendship for us as
the  Spokans, and expressed no desire for the

establishment of a trading post among them.
They are in many respects more savage than their
neighbours, and I have seen some of them often
eat deer, and other meat, raw. They are also
more unfeeling husbands, and frequently beat
their wives in a cruel manner.
About twenty years before our arrival, the
Spokans and Pointed-hearts were at war, caused
by a kind of Trojan origin. A party of the
former had been on a hunting visit to the lands
of the latter, and were hospitably received. One
day a young Spokan discovered the wife of a
Pointed-heart alone, some distance from the village, and violated her. Although she might have
borne this in silence from one of her own tribe,
she was not equally forbearing with regard to a
stranger, and immediately informed her husband
of the outrage. He lost no time in seeking revenge, and shot the Spokan as he entered the village. The others fled to their own lands, and
prepared for war. A succession of sanguinary
conflicts followed, in the course of which the
greatest warriors of both sides were nearly destroyed. At the end of a year, however, hostilities ceased; since which period they have been
at peace. The two nations now intermarry,
and appear to be on the best terms of friendship.
 Leaving the Pointed-hearts, we cross the Flathead river, and come to the Cootonais, who inhabit a small and beautiful district near the foot
of the Rocky Mountains, and about sixty miles
to the north-east of the Flat-head lands. It is
nearly surrounded by a chain of lofty and thickly
wooded mountains, and is consequently very difficult of access. Beaver is plentiful in this country, and of a superior description. Otters, martens, and bears, are also found, with excellent
deer and mountain sheep.*
The Cootonais are the remnant of a once brave
and powerful tribe, who, like the Flat-heads,
were perpetually engaged in war with the Black-
feet for the right of hunting on the buffalo
grounds. Previous to our arrival among them
they entertained the most deadly hatred against
white men, to whom they attributed all their
misfortunes, owing to the assistance which their
enemies received in arms and ammunition from
the North-west Company's people to the eastward
of the mountains.
They appeared to be perfectly aware that beaver was the only object that induced us to visit
their country; and they accordingly exerted
themselves to procure it, not, as some of them
The tobacco plant has lately been discovered in this dis
11 I
candidly declared, for our interest, but for the
purpose of obtaining fire arms, spears, &c. to
enable them to meet their old enemies the Black-
feet on more equal terms.
They are a very peculiar tribe. Their language
bears no affinity whatever to that of any of the
western nations. It is infinitely softer and more
free from those unpronounceable gutturals so
common among the lower tribes. As With the
Flat-heads, buffalo is the cause of all their misfortunes; for although, as I have before mentioned, their lands abound in plenty of other
animals, their hereditary attachment to the buffalo is so unconquerable, that it drives them
every year to the plains, where they come in contact with the Black-feet. In these contests they
are generally victors, but they always return with
diminished numbers. They have latterly entered into a kind of alliance, offensive and defensive, with the Flat-heads, by which they have
agreed that neither party shall make peace with
the Black-feet until the latter shall permit them
to hunt without molestation on the buffalo plains.
As this is a concession not likely to be granted,
it is probable that the war will terminate only
with the extermination of one or other of the
The Cootonais are  by no   means so warm-
hearted towards the whites as their neighbours
the Flat-heads; but Mr. Montour, who spent
some years among them, states, that they are
strictly honest in all their dealings, and remarkable for their adherence to truth ; a virtue, by the
bye, of which few Indians can boast. Polygamy
is unknown among them; and he never knew
an instance wherein any of their women admitted overtures of an improper nature. They
appear to be jealous of white men, and studiously conceal their females whenever any of the
traders approach their lodges.
A Cootonais seldom smiles. He thinks that
sooner or later he is doomed to fall in the field
of battle; and this certainty of death, joined to
the number of relatives annually killed in their
constant warfare, imparts to his features a settled melancholy.
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.    The trading post established among
the Cootonais is situated in about 49° 30' north
>:§latitude, and 115° west longitude.
The Chaudieres or Kettle Indians, and the
small band under the hermaphrodite chief, are
mentioned in the First Volume, together with
the productions of their respective lands. The
Chaudiere fall is situated in 48° 37' north latitude, and the longitude, by chronometer, is about
116° west.
A small tribe exists on the upper lakes of the
Columbia, which wanders about in straggling
parties of three, four, or five each. They appear to be timid in approaching white people,
but are not unfriendly. They have no horses, are
poor hunters, go nearly naked, and subsist principally on fish.
About one hundred and fifty miles to the
north-west of Oakinagan, in the direction of
Thompson's River/ the company has a post established among a tribe called the Kamloops, to
which there is a communication by land, or by
means of the Oakinagan river and lake. Beaver
is rather plentiful in this quarter; and, with salmon, constitutes their chief riches. They have
few horses, and deer are scarce on their lands.
Messrs. La Rocque and McDonald, who wintered
among them, state that the Kamloops are less
friendly than any tribe   among whom  we  had
posts established. They are addicted to thieving
and quarrelling, wear little covering, and are extremely dirty in their persons. Like other tribes,
they are subject to occasional famine, owing to
their neglecting to provide in the fishing season sufficiency of salmon for the periods of
Beyond Kamloops to the northward, the
department of New Caledonia commences, inhabited by a tribe called the Carriers : of whom I
have given a sketch in a letter from Mr. John
Stuart. A more comprehensive description of
their country, its productions, &c., will be found
in the Appendix.
From the upper parts of the Columbia and its
subordinate streams, to the lower falls, the natives inter their dead in a similar manner to
that which I have described among the Spokans. From the falls to the lower rapids the
bodies of the deceased are enveloped in mats and
skins, and placed in cemeteries in a retired situation ; one of which is described in the early
part of the First Volume. Thence to the
mouth of the River the dead are placed in
canoes in a manner mentioned in my sketch of
the Chinooks.
They all believe in a future state of rewards;
and punishments.    Their moral code differs but
1   I
little from that of the Flat-heads. The articles
of food, clothing, &c., most in use amongst them
while living, they hope also to enjoy in the abodes
of future happiness ; while, in their place of punishment, cold, hunger, and thirst, await the bad
There is one item in the Oakinagan creed relative to future torments, which is, I imagine,
peculiar to that tribe. An evil spirit, with face,
arms, and legs like a man, and a long tail and
ears like a horse, jumps about from tree to tree
with a stick in his hand, with which he unmercifully belabours all the condemned, who are
prevented by the agility of his movements from
touching him. This is an additional punishment
to what all other tribes believe their wicked will
have to suffer.
We never brought ardent spirits amongst them
for the purposes of barter, and therefore cannot
say how far an abundance of it would have seduced them to its intemperate use; but the few
whom we knew to have tasted any did not seem
to relish it, except on one occasion that we gave
a few glasses to old Illimspokanee, the chief of
the Spokans. He staggered home in a state of
intoxication, and in a couple of days returned
and begged for a little more of the " strong
water," (rum;) but as we did not wish to encou-
rage its consumption by the Indians, and were
apprehensive of the evil effects which his example might produce, we refused to give
him any more, alleging that our stock was exhausted.
The treatment of the women differs materially
among the various tribes. Where food is principally obtained by the exertions of the men, (as
among the Cootonais, Flat-heads, Spokans, &c.)
the women are condemned to great drudgery.
When a hunter kills a deer, he merely cuts out
the tongue, or takes enough for a meal, and on
returning to bis lodge despatches bis wife for the
body. She is guided to the spot by notches
which he has made in the trees. She also collects fire-wood, carries water, cooks, makes and
cleans his shirts, prepares the meat and fish for
curing, &c. They possess little or no influence,
and, notwithstanding their laborious duties, seem
perfectly contented. Among the lower tribes,
however, where their exertions in collecting the
Wappitoo roots contribute to the general support,
they assume an air of liberty and independence
quite unknown among the upper natives; and
in all cases of importance the elderly women
equally with the men are consulted.
From the foregoing brief sketch it will be seen
that those qualities which may be ranked among
the virtues, are more conspicuous among the
warlike tribes of the Cootonais and Flat-heads
than among those lower down. With the exception of slips of red cloth, or a few feathers
adorning their heads, they enter the field of
battle perfectly naked,
Pride in their port, defiance in their eye.
Their bravery is pre-eminent: — a love of truth
they think necessary to a warrior's character.
They are too proud to be dishonest, too candid
to be cunning. Their many avocations leave
them no leisure for gambling; and their strict
subordination, joined to the necessity of exerting
all their energies against the common enemy,
prevents them from quarrelling.
Here I may close my account of the occurrences, &c. which came under my observation
during my residence on the Columbia and its
tributary streams. A few characteristic sketches
of the Canadians, half-breeds, Iroquois, &c. will
appear in the Appendix; together with an interesting description of New Caledonia, and a statement of various circumstances which occurred
subsequent to my quitting the Indian country,
and the insertion of which here would, I imagined, have broken in on the chronological order
of my narrative.
Towards the latter end of March, 1817, the
other wintering parties joined us at Oakinagan,
from whence we all proceeded to Fort George,
which we reached on the 3d of April.
Ascent of the Columbia—Its lakes—Dangerous navigation—
Hio-h water—Arrive at the mountains—Melancholy detail
of the death of six of the party.
Wednesday, April 16th, 1817. At one p. m.
ou this day we took our departure from Fort
George under a salute of seven guns. Our party
consisted of eighty-six souls, and was perhaps the
largest and most mixed that ever ascended the
Columbia. In it were five Scotsmen, two English, and one Irish; thirty-six Canadians, twenty
Iroquois Indians, two Nipisings, one Cree, and
three half-breeds ; nine natives of the Sandwich
Islands; with one boy, a servant, two women,
and two children. The whole embarked in two
barges and nine canoes, (two of which were of
feark,) each containing on an average twenty-two
packages, each weighing ninety pounds.
Owing to a strong head-breeze, we were unable
to double Tongue-point, on the west side of
which we were obliged to encamp in view of the
fort. We remained here on the 17th and 18th,
during which days it blew a perfect hurricane
from the eastward, accompanied by heavy show-
ers. Our tents were repeatedly blown down
and we might have suffered severely from the incessant rain, had not the governor of Fort
George considerately despatched to us an additional quantity of port and rum, with which
we succeeded in neutralizing the overpowering
humidity of the atmosphere.
The wind having moderated on the morning
of the 19th, we resumed our voyage after breakfast. We had occasional showers during the
day, and passed some scattered lodges of natives,
from whom we purchased a quantity of excellent
sturgeon. Encamped a little after five o'clock
on Oak Point.
We embarked at day-break on the 20th, with
calm weather: purchased a quantity of sturgeon.
Towards evening a smart breeze sprung up in
our favour, which enabled us to hoist sail, and
we continued on in fine style until five, when we
encamped at the village of Kyeassino, a friendly
chief, a short distance below the mouth of the
Multnomah or Wallamut. We had a few slight
showers during the day.
On the 21st we arose with the dawn, and embarked. Some of the canoes having struck on
sunken trees, we were obliged to put ashore for
a couple of hours to repair the damage and dry
the goods.    We encamped at dusk about five
miles above La Prairie du The, so called by
the Canadians from a species of mint which
grows in it, and which they are fond of using as
a substitute for tea. Passed a few lodges of
Indians, but did not stop. Weather same as
The morning of the 22nd was cloudy and
chilly, w7ith a slight head-breeze, which lasted
nearly the entire day. We however made good
way; and at three p.m. arrived at the foot of
the rapids. Made two discharges, and passed
them sans accident. Encamped at sun-set at
the west end of the portage. As this was the
scene of several attacks, we formed a strong
barricade of canoes and goods about the encampment, and divided the party into three watches.
Several of the natives visited us. The men were
unarmed and well-behaved; and the females appeared solicitous to bestow their favours on some
of our people. They appeared somewhat surprised and offended to find that love had no influence in our camp; and left us late in the evening, evidently chagrined at their reception.
The night passed over quietly ; and we commenced the portage at day-break, on the morning of the 24th, with cool calm weather. The
Indians behaved very friendly, and offered their
services to assist in carrying the goods. We did
not thrak it prudent to refuse them, and at half-
past ten the portage was cleared. We breakfasted at the upper end, and purchased a few
salmon from the natives, to whom we gave the
usual present of tobacco; after which we proceeded on. The weather during the day was
extremely warm for the season. Put ashore once
to repair the canoes, and encamped late in the
evening at the point of the Mangy Dog.
The weather continuing calm, we embarked at
half-past one on the morning of the 24th; but
owing to the darkness, several of our canoes
struck on sunken rocks and trees, which compelled us to put ashore at day-light to repair the
damage. At nine we proceeded on, and
doubled Cape Horn in calm weather; a circumstance of very rare occurrence in voyages on the
At three p. m. arrived at the Dalles, (narrows,)
and immediately began the portage, but were
only enabled to get half through it, when we encamped. The young chief, and the old chief-
tainess, accompanied by several Indians, paid us
a visit. They were unarmed, and conducted
themselves peaceably.
We finished the portage at ten o'clock on the
morning of the 25th, and breakfasted before embarking ; after which we continued on, with a
VOL. II. l
strong breeze in our favour. Passed several
dangerous points; and with much difficulty,
owing to the low state of the water, we succeeded in making our way without unloading,
through the natrowT channel to the right of the
small Dalles. At four p. m. we encamped at the
foot of the Great Falls on the south side. A few
Indians crossed over to our encampment; but
the weather being wet and stormy, they shortly
after returned.
26th. It blew a strong gale the greater part of
last night; but moderated at day-break, when
we crossed to the north side, and commenced
the portage, which we finished in two pauses.
We purchased twenty dogs for the kettle. None
of the natives who came to us were armed, and
we never observed them so tranquil. Our
number, however, was sufficient to insure us a
respectful reception among any single tribe of
the Columbia. Mr. Mackenzie wrote a letter
here to Fort George, which he intrusted to one
of the chiefs, who promised to have it safely
conveyed to its destination. On quitting this
place we distributed a quantity of leaf-tobacco
among the Indians, who crowded round the
canoes, eagerly expecting this last act of our
friendship. It was past eleven when we embarked.    We had a strong breeze in our favour
all day, and passed several bad rapids. Encamped late, a short distance above John Day's
River; so called from its having been the place
at which that hunter was attacked.
We had a strong aft breeze during the greater
part of the 27th, which enabled us to go a la
voile. Purchased seven horses, moderately cheap,
from a party of Shyatogoes and Wallah Wallahs,
who followed us the greater part of the day, and
encamped with us at night.
28th. Embarked at the usual hour with a slight
aft wind; about noon it increased to a double-
reefed-topsail gale, which again fell away at four
to a gentle breeze. Saw very few Indians, and
encamped at six p. m. a little below the Grand
Rapid, on the south side. The weather on the
29th was clear, and the. wind favourable.. We
passed the Grand Rapid at two p. m. without
injuring a canoe, and had a fine breeze all the
afternoon. Shortly after sun-set we made our
beds a little above the Wallah Wallah River.
Tom Tappam the chief, and several of his tribe,
visited us, and promised to trade some horses.
We slept until nine on the morning of the
30th, and began re-dividing and re-distributing
the men and baggage for Mr. Mackenzie's tour
to the Shoshone* Indians. We purchased nine
horses from Tom Tappam, and gave for each
:- ;|
1 m
goods to the value of seven beaver skins, by the
north-west tariff. The weather during the day
was rather warm and boisterous.
Thursday, 1st of May. Left the Wallah
Wallahs after breakfast, with a slight breeze.
Between twelve and one we put ashore at the
mouth of Lewis River, where we took an early
dinner ; after which Mr. Mackenzie, with
twenty-two men and three canoes, left us under
a salute of three cheers. We continued on, up
the Columbia, and encamped after sun-set two
miles above the Yackaman River. Passed a few
Indians, from whom we traded one horse. It
blew pretty fresh during the day.
Nothing particular occurred on the 2nd. The
weather was warm, and we encamped near the
beginning of the marl-banks, called by the Canadians, from their colour, les Terres Jaunes.
The 3rd was equally devoid of interest. The
weather was rather windy ; and we encamped
at the foot of the Priest's Rapid. We saw none
of the natives for the last two days.
After breakfast on the morning of the 4th, the
party who were to cross the Rocky Mountains
bid adieu to the loaded canoes, and the gentlemen of the Columbia. It consisted of Messrs.
Bethuen, M'Dougall, Joseph M'GiHivray, Alexander M'Tavish, and myself;  with sixteen men,
Holmes the tailor, and the boy Perrault, in two
canoes. Encamped about three leagues below
Pacquin's Rapid.    Fine weather all day.
5th. Breakfasted at the above rapid; at which
we were constrained to unload part of the lading,
and about noon arrived at the portage of the
Rocky Island Rapid.
While Gingras and Landreville were getting
one of the canoes up the rapid, the latter made a
false stroke of his pole, by which it missed bottom, and the canoe was upset in the middle of
the waves. Gingras held fast by the bars until
it was drawn into an eddy, when he found bottom, and got ashore. In the mean time eight
men leaped into the other canoe, and instantly
pushed off to the assistance of Landreville, who
was for a couple of minutes invisible; when at
length, appearing above the surface of the water,
they seized him by the hair, and drew him on
board nearly lifeless. All our baggage was subsequently picked up ; and we remained here the
remainder of the day to dry it, and repair the
canoes. A few poor Indians visited us.:.. They
had no provisions to trade, and appeared to be
more in want of food and clothing than any I
had ever seen. One old woman in particular
was completely naked, and presented a most disgusting appearance.
Nothing of consequence occurred on the 6th or
7th; and about sun-set on the 8th, we reached
Oakinagan Fort, where we passed the night.
At four p. m. we bid adieu to Oakinagan,
having previously killed two horses, the flesh of
which we took with us. Encamped a short distance above the road leading to Spokan House.
The weather, for the last few days, was remarkably mild. It changed, however, on the 10th ;
on which day we had incessant rain. We encamped three leagues above la rapide d'ignace.
On Sunday the 11th we embarked at daybreak. The late rain gave the country a most
refreshing appearance; and along the banks of
the river we pulled a quantity of small wild
onions, which grew in great abundance, both
among the rocks, and in the low bottoms. Encamped five miles below the entrance of Sinapoil
River, a small stream which falls into the Columbia from the north.   Weather rather sultry.
The men had hard work on the 12th. Owing
to the sudden rise of the water, caused by the
late rain and melting of the snows, we were
obliged to disembark several times during the
day, to allow the canoes to be dragged up with
lines. Encamped opposite the entrance to
Spokan River. The country from Oakinagan to
this place is quite devoid of wood, but the banks
 of the river are bold, and in many places rocky.
This naturally contracts the river into a more
narrow compass, and makes the current much
more difficult to stem.
We began, the morning of the 13th, by making
a portage above our encampment; after which
we breakfasted, and pursued our route. We had
a strong smooth current all day, and encamped
on the south side a few leagues below the Grand
Rapid. From Spokan River, upwards, the banks
of the Columbia are rather thickly wooded, and
present a very picturesque appearance. There
are also several rich bottoms of red and white
clover, and some aromatic herbs,
" Wasting their sweetness on the desert air."
Met a couple of families of poor beggarly Indians.
Very sultry weather all day.
14th. On arriving at the Grand Rapid we
were forced Jo carry the canoes, as well as the
baggage, to the upper end. This occupied the
greater portion of the day, and we did not finish
it before three p.m. At four we arrived at the
Great Kettle Falls, the portage of which we
completed at sun-set. Encamped at.the upper
end of the falls; shortly after which an Indian
arrived from Spokan House with letters from Mr.
McDonald, which contained no intelligence of
Embarked at the usual hour, on the 15th, and
made pretty good way until one p. m., when we
arrived at a particular part of the river, called
the First Dalles, or narrows, above the Kettle
Falls, where the channel is confined between a
range of high and dangerous rocks, nearly a mile
in extent; the whole of which distance the men
were obliged to carry the canoes and baggage.
Encamped at la Rividre de Beliers, so called
from some mountain sheep having been killed
near the spot by our hunters some years before.
The Indians assert that no rattlesnakes are to be
found on either bank of the Columbia above this
river; and all our men, who had been previously
in the employment of the Company, hunting in
that part, fully corroborated this statement. The
Riviere de Beliers comes from the north-west.
$(~1 About seven o'clock on the morning of the
n^P 16th we passed the mouth of the Flat-bead
River, which falls into the Columbia over a foaming cascade, caused by a large collection of
immense rocks, which choke up the entrance.
During the day we passed a number of small
rivers, which, owing to the melting of the snow,
caused by the excessive heat, had been swollen
into torrents. The force of the current rushing
out from these rivers repeatedly drove the
canoes back with great violence, and it required
all the skill and strength of our men to pass
them. Encamped late, near M'Gillivray's River, C^Mjc^y
a fine bold stream, which takes its rise in the
Rocky Mountains, and running in nearly a northeast direction, through the Cootonais lands,
here joins the Columbia. A refreshing breeze
from the north sprung up in the evening. The
country on each side, from the Kettle Falls to
this place, is thickly wooded, principally with
pine, spruce, and small birch. The northern
shore is rather low; but the south side presents
a bold rocky appearance. About an hour before
we encamped we observed a large black bear in
the act of swimming across the river, which Mr.
M'Gillivray wounded. The enraged animal
instantly changed its course downwards, and
came in contact with our canoe, into which it
attempted to get, by seizing the gunwale with its
fore paws. This nearly upset us; but the foreman aimed a well-directed blow at his head with
his pole, which completely stunned it, and we
succeeded in hauling it on board It was in rather good condition, and proved a welcome and
unexpected treat.
17th. Set off a little before sunrise; and about ^^^ J)-,^
an hour afterwards entered the first lake formed       ^^
by the Columbia.  It is between eleven and twelve
leagues long, and about one and a half in breadth;
the current smooth and steady, and pretty free
from snags or sunken trees. The shores are bold
and well wooded with a variety of timber of fine
size; and in the distance we first caught a view
of the most western chain of the Rocky Mountains covered with snowr. A head-wind, during
the greater part of the day, considerably retarded
our progress; and we encamped late, near the
upper end of the lake, where a few Indians
visited us. They appeared to be very poor, and
brought about a dozen beaver skins to trade,
which we told them we could not purchase, as
we were obliged to cross the mountains; but
that our party, going downwards in the autumn,
would stop a few days with them, and trade all
the skins they had. They were rather disappointed ; but a little tobacco, and some trifling
presents, sent them away in good humour.
Shortly after, em barking, on the morning of the
18th, we left the lake, and entered that part of
the river called the Straits, which separates the
Upper from the Lower Lake. It is only a few
miles in length, and quickly brought us to the
upper lake, which is not so long as the first. The
high hills in its immediate vicinity were covered
with snow, the chilling influence of which we
sensibly experienced by the cold blasts from
shore.    Encamped at sun-set at the upper end
of the lake, on a fine sandy beach. During the
day we struck on two sand-banks, and were
slightly injured by a sunken tree. Saw no
19th. About two miles above our encampment of last night the Columbia becomes very
narrow, with steep and thickly wooded banks,
covered with immense quantities of fallen trees.
The current is very strong, and owing to the
great height of the water, the men at intervals
had scarcely any beach on which to walk in
dragging up the canoes. Our progress was consequently slow ; and we put ashore for the night
about fifteen miles above the lake.
At nine o'clock on the morning of the 20th
we reached the Second Dalles, or narrows, which
are formed by a contraction of the channel of
the river into a very small compass. There are
high and slippery rocks on each side, which makes
it a work of great danger and difficulty to pass
them. The baggage was all carried by the inen,
and the canoes were towed up with strong lines,
after being in great danger of filling from the
frightful whirlpools close along the shore. The
weather became much cooler from the proximity <? ^r^j
of the mountains. Several patches of snow were
observable on the beach during the day, and towards evening some rain fell.
^vftft'Vv^v'v J
; ill Ii
From dawn of day until noon on the 2! st we
did not make three miles, owing to the impetuosity of the current, the shelving banks, and the
extreme weakness of our nlen, several of whom
were knocked up. We were detained at one
place upwards of four hours to repair our shattered canoes, and encamped about six o'clock on
a low gravelly point. We had several smart
showers during the afternoon.
22d. About two p. m. arrived at a place called
the Upper Dalles, where the river is again confined for a considerable distance between a line
of high slippery rocks. Got about half way
through this channel, and stopped for the night
in a small nook formed by the rocks, on which
we lay scattered and exposed to severe rain
during the night.
We rose wet and unrefreshed on the morning
of the 23d, and in five hours passed the Dalles,
the upper part of which consists of a chain of
whirlpools, which compelled us to carry both
canoes and baggage some distance over the
rocks; in the execution of which duty some of
the men narrowly escaped with their lives. Those
who carried our canoe, from mere exhaustion
'fell several times, by which it was much damaged;
and we were detained until 3 p.m. to get it repaired. Encamped at dusk on a sandy beach, for
which we had been some time on the look-out.
The rain continued during the evening and the
night to pour down in torrents.
Our progress on the 24th was equally, slow.
The various tributary streams which we passed
on this and the last two days, and which take
their rise from the surrounding mountains, had
by the recent rains been swollen into torrents,
the waters of .which, as they rushed with headlong force into the Columbia, repeatedly drove
us back with irresistible strength, and at times
we were in danger of filling. On two occasions,
where the opposite shore of the Columbia consisted of perpendicular rocks, we were obliged,
after various fruitless attempts to pass the minor
streams, to unload and carry the canoes and baggage some distance along their banks until we
reached a smooth space of current, when we
crossed, and by that means surmounted the difficulties of their respective embouchures. It rained
on us all the afternoon.
25th. Nothing of importance occurred on this
day to vary the disagreeable tedium of our journey. The foreman, steersman, and four of the
middlemen of our canoe were quite knocked up,
while those in the other canoe were comparatively strong and healthy :—indeed the distribution of the men was grossly partial, and was
productive in the sequel of the most deplorable
consequences. It rained hard all day; and on
retiring to rest we had not a dry article of covering about us.
On the 26th we only made three miles, in the
course of which our canoe filled in a dangerous
rapid, and we were near perishing. We succeeded
however in gaining a low stony island, on which
there was no wood to light a fire : our pemmican
was completely damaged by the late accident;
and, as a climax to our misery, it rained incessantly the whole day.
The river here opened out to a considerable
breadth, and in some places was very shallow.
The Rocky Mountain portage at which we were
to leave our canoes appeared in sight, and was
not more than three miles distant. As we threw
our jaded bodies on our stony couch this evening, we most truly experienced that
Weariness can snore upon the flint,
When restive sloth makes the down-pillow hard.
^^We rose at the usual hour on the 27th, and at
nine a.m. arrived at the entrance of Canoe River,
where the portage commences, and with indescribable pleasure we bade a final adieu to our crazy
battered canoe. Messrs. M'Dougall and Bethune
had reached it the day before, and had almost despaired of seeing us. Finding so many of our men
invalids, those gentlemen deemed it imprudent to
bring them across the mountains, the fatigues of
which they would not be able to encounter.
Six Canadians, and Holmes the English tailor,
were therefore sent back in the best canoe to
Spokan House. Out of the seven men, two only
were able to work; but, as the current was in
their favour, it was hoped they would arrive in
three days at the Kettle Falls, from whence they
could easily reach Spokan. As our stock of provisions was very scanty, we could only spare
them enough for the above period. On separating from their comrades, some of them appeared dejected and melancholy, and foreboded
that they would never see Canada again. Their
prophecy, alas ! was but too true.*
* I did not hear the fate of this unfortunate party until
three years afterwards. The following is the melancholy detail. On leaving the Rocky Mountains, they drove rapidly
down the current until they arrived at the Upper Dalles, or
narrows, where they were obliged to disembark. A cod-line
was made fast to the stern of the canoe, while two men preceded it along the banks with poles to keep it from striking
against the rocks. It had not descended more than half the
distance, when it was caught in a strong whirlpool, and the
line snapped. The canoe for a moment disappeared in the
vortex; on emerging from which, it was carried, by the irresistible force of the current to the opposite side, and dashed to
pieces against the rocks. They had not the prudence to take
out either their blankets or small quantity of provisions, which
were of course all lost. Here then the poor fellows found themselves deprived of all the necessaries of life, and at a period of
the year in which it was impossible to procure any wild fruit or
roots. To return to the mountains was impossible, and their
only chance of preservation was to proceed downwards, and to
keep as near the banks of the river as circumstances would permit. The continual rising of the water had completely inundated the beach, in consequence of which they were compelled
to force their way through an almost impervious forest, the
ground of which was covered with a strong growth of prickly
underwood. Their only nourishment was water: owing to
which, and their weakness from fatigue and ill health, their
progress was necessarily slow. On the third day poor Mac,on
died, and his surviving comrades, though unconscious how soon
they might be called on to follow him, determined to keep off
the fatal moment as long as possible. They therefore divided his
remains in equal parts between them, on which they subsisted
for some days. From the swollen state of their feet their daily
progress did not exceed two or three miles. Holmes, the tailor,
shortly followed Mac,on, and they continued for some time longer to sustain life on his emaciated body. It would be a painful
repetition to detail the individual death of each man. Suffice it
to say that in a little time, of the seven men, two only, named
La Pierre and Dubois, remained alive. La Pierre was subsequently found on the borders of the upper lake of the Columbia by two Indians who were coasting it in a canoe. They
took him on board, and brought him to the Kettle Falls, from
whence he was conducted to Spokan House.
He stated that, after the death of the fifth man of the party,
Dubois and he continued for some days at the spot where he
had ended his sufferings, and on quitting it they loaded themselves with as much of his flesh as they could carry ; that with
this they succeeded in reaching the upper lake, round the
shores of which they wandered for some time in vain in search
of Indians; that their horrid food at length became exhausted,
and they were again reduced to the prospect of starvation:
that on the second night after their last meal, he (La Pierre)
observed something suspicious in the conduct of Dubois, which
induced him to be on his guard; and that shortly after they
had lain down for the night, and while he feigned sleep, he observed Dubois cautiously opening his clasp knife, with which
he sprung on him, and inflicted on his hand the blow that was
evidently intended for his neck. A silent and desperate conflict followed, in which, after severe struggling, La Pierre succeeded in wresting the knife from his antagonist, and having
no other resource left, he was obliged in self-defence to cut
Dubois' throat; and that a few days afterwards he was discovered by the Indians as before mentioned. Thus far nothing
at first appeared to impugn the veracity of his statement; but
some other natives subsequently found the remains of two of
the party near those of Dubois, mangled in such a manner as
to induce them to think that they had been murdered ; and as
La Pierre's story was by no means consistent in many of its
details, the proprietors judged it advisable to transmit him to
Canada for trial. Only one Indian attended: but as the testimony against him was merely circumstantial, and unsupported
by corroborating evidence, he was acquitted.
3a*~y 2ff £9*
R l/^rf%
VOL.   II.
Canoe Valley and River—Appearance of mountains—M'Gil-
livray's Rock—Dangerous situation of party on a raft—
Arrive at Rocky Mountain House—Volcanic appearances
—Animals, &c.—Indian tradition respecting the Mammoth
—Difference in size of trees.
Our baggage and provisions were divided between 4he nine remaining men, who in consequence of the number we had sent back, were
obliged to carry about ninety pounds weight
each, besides their own kits, which in such cases
are never taken into consideration.
Canoe River, which here joins the Columbia,
is one of its principal sources, and is situated in
lat: 52° 7' 9" N.    In the dry season, it is broad-
but very shallow, and near its entrance spreads
over several sandy shoals.
On the morning of the ^8th of May at ten
o'clock we set off on foot along the banks of
Canoe River, which winds its way Jthrough a
wide and cheerless valley. We had not proceeded far when we found it impossible, from the
great rise of the water, to pass the ordinary
fords.    It appeared like a lake, and completely
set at nought the topographical knowledge of
our guide. This obliged us to strike into the
woods, our progress through which was extremely fatiguing, and at three p. m. we bivouacked about two miles beyond a long woody
point, which stretches some distance across the
valley. The weather was cloudy all day, with
slight showers, which, during the night, increased to heavy rain, from which we had no
We rose early on the morning of the 29th of
May, in no very enviable situation. A thick
mist still enveloped us, and rendered the awful
solitude of this gloomy valley peculiarly impressive. It appeared never to have been trodden
by the foot of man, until the enterprising spirit
of British commerce, after having forced its way
over the everlasting snows of the Rocky Mountains, penetrated into this anti-social glen, and
from thence entered the mighty waters of the
Columbia. As the mists gradually ascended
into the higher regions, we obtained a more distinct view of the surrounding scenery. On the
northern side tiers of mountains, thickly covered
with large pine and cedar, towered to an immeasurable height; while the southern presented
dark perpendicular rocks of immense altitude,
partially covered with moss, stunted pine, &c.
over which at intervals cascades of seven or
eight hundred feet high forced a passage to swell
the torrent below. The sun, except in the intervals between the rocks, was invisible; and,
with the exception of our own party, no trace of
animated nature could be distinguished in this
magnificent solitude. ^
About eleven a. m. we passed a second woody
point, which runs into the valley from the north
side ; and at two p. m. stopped for the remainder
of the day. The men were much fatigued from
their heavy loads, and some of them were hardly
able to proceed.
We set off at day break on the 30th, sometimes skirting, and at others fording the river.
At seven a. m. we arrived at a particular part,
called the grande traverse, owing to its great
depth and breadth. To cross this was a measure
of much danger. We all advanced in line, the
tallest and strongest mixed alternately with the
lowest, each holding the other firmly by the hand.
This arrangement was peculiarly necessary; for
during our progress several of the smaller men
were swept off their legs by the force of the current, and would inevitably have perished, but
for the support they derived from their stronger
brethren. We effected the passage between
eight and nine, when we were obliged to stop
to dry our clothes, and breakfast. After this,
which did not occupy much time, we proceeded
on, and about noon encamped within a short
distance of the grand cote, or principal hill which
we have to ascend in passing from the Columbia.
—Weather charming all day.
Shortly after dawn on the morning of the 31st
we commenced the steep ascent of the first great
hill. 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 dwarfish. We completed the ascent in about four
hours and a half, and did not find it so difficult
as we had anticipated. This however may be
attributed to our having commenced the task
early in'the morning.
A short time before we reached the summit,
and from thence to the level of the table land,
our progress lay through a wilderness of deep
snow, which we had to' beat down to form a
pathway for the loaded men. This work, owing
to the holes into which several of the party occasionally fell, was both fatiguing and dangerous.
At one p. m. we arrived at two small lakes,
between which we encamped. They are only a
few hundred feet each in circumference, and the
distance between them does not exceed twenty-
five or thirty feet. They lie on the most level
part of the height of land, and are situated between an immense cut of the Rocky Mountains.
From them two rivers take their rise, which pursue different courses, and fall into separate
oceans : the first winds into the valley we had
lately left, and, after joining the upper part of
the Columbia, empties itself into the North Pacific ; while the other, called the Rocky Mountain River, a branch of the Athabasca, follows
first an eastern and then a northern course, until
it forms a junction with the Unjiga, or Peace
River. This falls into Great Slave Lake, the
waters of which are ultimately carried by M'Ken-
zie's River to the Arctic Ocean.
The country round our encampment presented
the wildest and most terrific appearance X)f deso^
lation that can be well imagined. The sun shining on a range of stupendous glaciers, threw a
chilling brightness over the chaotic mass of rocks,
ice, and snow, by which we were surrounded.
Close to our encampment one gigantic mountain
of a conical form towered majestically into the
clouds far above the others,* while at intervals
the interest of the scene was heightened by the
rumbling noise of a descending avalanche; which,
# This is called M'Gillivray's Rock, in honour of the late
Mr. Wm. M^Gillivray, a principal director of the Company.
after being detached from its bed of centuries,
increased in bulk in its headlong career downwards, until it burst with a frightful crash, more
resembling the explosion of a magazine than the
dispersion of a mass of snow.
One of our rough-spun unsophisticated Canadians, after gazing upwards for some time in
silent wonder, exclaimed with much vehemence,
(j Pll take my oath, my dear friends, that God
Almighty never made such a place!"
Sunday, June 1. Set off about an hour before
day-break in deep snow; and at nine o'clock,
having arrived at its termination, we stopped to
breakfast. For the last few miles this lofty valley
widens considerably, and permits the sun to act
with greater effect, in consequence of which the
snow quickly disappears beneath its all-dissolving
influence. At eleven a. m. we reached a charming spot of rich meadow ground called by our
hunters I'encampement du fusil, in which we
found five of the Company's horses quietly grazing. Their harness was placed in a conspicuous
situation adjoining a large fire, the remains of
which were burning at the period of our arrival.
These horses had been sent to meet us from our
establishment at the east end of the mountains,
and, from the fresh traces about the fire, we
judged that the persons to whose care they had
been intrusted had only left that morning. They
proved an acceptable relief to our poor men, who
quickly transferred to them their loads; after
which we resumed our journey with great spirits,
and encamped at four p. m. on the banks of the
mountain stream, which for the last few leagues
begins to assume the appearance of an important
Took advantage of the refreshing coolness of
the morning  of the 2nd,  and advanced some
miles before sun-rise.   Stopped twice during the
day to refresh the horses/ and at two p; m., after
passing through a thick wood of small pine a few
miles in length, we arrived on the banks of the
Rocky Mountain river, at a particular spot called
the Traverse du Trou, where it was necessary
for our party to cross.    All hands immediately
set about preparing a raft, which was quickly
constructed.     The river  at  the  Crossing-place
was between three and four hundred yards wide,
with a gentle current running smoothly about a
quarter of a mile in length, when it is broken by
a broad and rather shallow rapid.    The horses
were first sent over, and gained the opposite bank
in safety.    Four men then embarked on the raft
with part of the baggage; but owing to their
having lost bottom too soon with their poles, the
raft was carried in a few minutes into the rapid,
where it became entangled among the rocks.
The place was fortunately shallow, and they succeeded after some difficulty in gaining the shore.
The raft was lost, and we were therefore obliged
to construct another. I embarked on it in company with Messrs. M'Gillivray and M'Dougall,
Gingras the guide, Louis, an Iroquois Indian,
and a half-breed lad named Perrault. We took
with us the remainder of the baggage. After
pushing ofl^ we poled away with might and main,
and had crossed two thirds of the river, when,
on the point of entering an eddy, which would
have brought us out of all danger, we lost bottom
with our poles, and were carried almost instantaneously into the rapid, through which we wrere
driven a short distance, when we were brought
up by the rocks, on which one end of the raft
became fast. Gingras instantly jumped over, and
quickly gained the shore. One of the men, who
had crossed over first, immediately came off to
us with a line for the purpose of trying to secure
the raft until the baggage could be transported
ashore. Having fastened one end, he returned,
accompanied by Perrault, each carrying heavy
bundles. This, however lightened the raft so
much, that it instantly swung round; the line,
One end of which was held by the Canadian,
snapped in two, arid before we had time to look
about us, we found ourselves again descending
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 attempted to arrest the flight
of an eagle, or stop a cannon ball in its career.
M'Gillivray, Louis, and I, after receiving some
severe contusions, succeeded in regaining the
raft; but M'Dougal parted company, and having clambered up the sides of a craggy rock,
which was a few feet above the surface of the
water, remained perched on its summit for some
hours, in a most pitiable condition, from which
he was not extricated until late in the evening.
Only three of us now remained, and we had
neither pole nor paddle, by which we could guide
our course. We quickly cleared the rapid; but
had scarcely time to breathe an aspiration of
thanksgiving, when we were hurried into another,
from which we again escaped harmless. 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 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, even fertile in resources,
nor the long experience of the Iroquoise, accustomed from his infancy to -similar scenes, could
suggest any chance of escape. The thunders of
the cataract now dinned in our ears; the spray
from the boiling abyss began to envelope us; and
every succeeding moment diminished the slight
hopes which had hitherto occasionally shot across
our bewildered senses. An attempt to describe
my feelings would be vain. The frightful rapidity of the current, joined to the apprehension
of instant annihilation, banished even the recollection of U 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 eye 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
If 'i
the great body of water, from whence we easily
brought it to shore without the loss of a single
article ! Our companions on shore, after we had
been carried out of their sight, had abandoned
all hopes of ever seeing us again, and were therefore agreeably surprised at finding us once more
safe on terra fir?na.
Messrs. Alexander M'Tavish, Bethune, and
four men, still remained on the western side, and
in consequence of the narrow escape which our
twro first parties had, they determined not to
attempt crossing in such a dangerous spot. Having loaded our horses, we proceeded about five
miles below the traverse, when we encamped.
M'Tavish's party passed the night on the opposite bank in a miserable situation, being totally
deprived of either food or covering, and without
means even to make a fire.
Started early on the morning of the 3rd, and
after travelling about four miles we arrived opposite the spot where our friends had passed the
night. They had no means of joining us but by
a raft. The river was smooth; which circumstance, strengthened by the irrepressible gnaw-
ings of hunger, conquered their dislike to that
mode of crossing. Having neither axe nor line,
they collected as many pieces of drift-wood as
they could find on the beach, which they bound
together by withes, after which they embarked.
The raft however had scarcely left the shore
when it began to give way, and Messrs. Bethune,
M'Tavish, and two men immediately jumped off,
and regained the land at the expense of a good
ducking. The other two men however succeeded in crossing the river on separate pieces,
and joined us in safety.
Francois, a Creole, now volunteered to swim
over on horseback, and bring with him an axe and
some line for the purpose of making a raft lower
down. This proposition was gladly accepted, and
having taken the strongest of our five horses, he
plunged in and gained the opposite bank.
As Mr. Bethune did not like to venture a second time at this place, we appointed to meet
him at the junction of the Rocky Mountain with
the Athabasca river, where we hoped he would
be able to join us, We then continued our progress, and at nine a. m. arrived at the mouth of-
the river, where it joins the Athabasca; and, to
our great surprise, observed Mr. Bethune's party
proceeding at a great distance down the western
bank of the river. We hailed them, and fired
several shots: but as they paid no attention to
our signals, we imagined they were acquainted
with a better place to cross the river than that
which we had pointed out.
We therefore set all hands to work to construct
rafts for our party. The Athabasca river at this
place was about four hundred yards w7ide ; the
current strong, but free from rapids, and with the
exception of two rocks in the centre of the river,
there was no apparent danger to be apprehended.
We remained until one o'clock, making two rafts,
with poles and paddles necessary for working
them. The horses were first sent across, followed by two men, after which we embarked
five on each raft, and pushed off. I took care not
to separate from my friend M'Gillivray and the
Iroquois. After poling for a few minutes we lost
bottom, and were obliged to have recourse to the
paddles, with which we worked on tolerably well
until we reached the centre of the stream, where
we found the current much more rapid than we
had anticipated. Owing to this circumstance, and
the difficulty of steering the raft, we found ourselves carried along with great velocity towards
one of the rocks already mentioned. The danger
was imminent; for, had we come broadside against
it, we should undoubtedly have gone to pieces
and perished. We therefore exerted ourselves
to the utmost to prevent the collision, and were
so far fortunate as to escape, with merely a slight
shock from the corner of the raft touching a projecting point of the rock.    After this we went
on smoothly, and reached the eastern side in
safety, having drifted about a mile down the river
from the place of embarkation.
The horses were quickly loaded, and we proceeded along the banks about nine miles, when,
ascending a high hill, which commanded an extensive prospect, we observed a volume of smoke
some distance ahead. Supposing it had been
made by our lost companions, two active men
were sent to ascertain the fact. They shortly
returned, and stated they had seen a fire on the
opposite bank of the main river, but no appearance of any human being about it. We therefore
conjectured the fire had been made by Bethune's
party, and that they had continued on.
We accordingly increased our pace, inthe hope
of overtaking them, and arrived late in the evening at an uninhabited house, heartily tired. This
place is called the "Old Fort," and was built several years before as a hunting lodge for trappers;
but owing to the scarcity of provisions was subsequently abandoned : its lat. is 52° 53' 10". N.
From the junction of the twx) rivers to Hie old
fort, the country on each side presents a pleasing
variety of prairies, open woods, and gently rising
eminences; and one spot in particular, called
La prairie de la Vacke, (in consequence of buffalo
having been formerly killed in it,) forms a land-
scape, that for rural beauty cannot be excelled in
any country.    Some slight showers during the
day.       #'     |    -- .  |jr.      ■     %\        |l|
June 4th. Early this morning we despatched
two parties in quest of Messrs. M'Tavish, Bethune, and the men who remained with them,
and at nine o'clock they returned, bringing them
all back in safety, but in a state of great exhaustion from want of food, and exposure without covering to the night air. They had advanced within four miles of our encampment,
when they perceived our men; and the river
being smooth, they constructed a raft and crossed
over in safety. Remained here a couple of
hours to refresh the party, after which the horses
were loaded, and we proceeded for about three
miles through a handsomely diversified country,
when our progress was arrested by a bold mountain torrent, which * fell into the Athabasca. It
was too deep to ford, and we were again obliged
to have recourse to our old expedient of rafts in
order to cross it.
The navigation of the main river from this
place to Rocky Mountain House being free
from obstructions, Mr. M'Dougall determined
to proceed thither by water ; and taking four of
the men with him, they embarked on one of the
rafts, and we quickly lost sight of them.    We
continued on through a handsome country with
a tolerable pathway until sun-set, when we encamped on the border of a small rivulet which
runs into the Athabasca.
We loaded our horses at three in the morning"
of the 5th, and for a couple of hours were quite
shrouded in oceans of mist; but as it began to
dissipate, we had an extensive view of the surrounding scenery.
The genial influence of a June sun relieved
the wintry perspective of snow-clad mountains,
and as it rose above the lofty summits, imparted
a golden tinge to the green savannahs, the open
woods, and the innumerable rivulets which con-
tributed their waters to swell the Athabasca. It
was indeed a landscape of contrarieties, scarcely
to be met with but in the Alpine regions of the
Rocky .Mountains.
I At eight a. m. we arrived at a hunting-lodge
belonging to the Company. No person was in
it; but we found what was much more acceptable, the body of a buffalo, which had been recently killed, and left for us by the hunters. It
was none of the fattest; but to such half famished devils it was an unexpected luxury. Having
eaten, or rather devoured our breakfast, and reserved sufficient for supper, we resumed progress
with renovated spirits.    At eleven we came to a
considerable stream, which it was necessary to
cross. It had recently however spread over a
flat bottom, and, forming a shallow lake of some
acres in extent, completely covered the pathway;
in consequence of which our guide experienced
much difficulty in conducting us through it.
About a mile beyond this river we arrived at
the foot of a stupendous rock, called Le Rocher
de Miette, over which we had to pass. We commenced our task a little after eleven; and at
half-past two arrived at its base on the northern
side, where we remained an hour to refresh the
horses. The road over this rock is tolerably
good, but extremely steep. The horses surmounted it with great labour ; and the knees of
the majority of our party were put to a severe
test in the ascent. From the summit we had an
extensive view of the country, the general features of which do not differ materially from the
scenery through which we passed the preceding
day. A little above the southern point of the
rock we observed that the Athabasca river opened
into a lake of about three miles in length, and two
in breadth, and a few miles below its northern
extremity the river formed another lake of
nearly similar dimensions. Independently of
these, the continual accession of waters which
the Athabasca received from its tributary streams
caused it to burst its natural boundaries, and in
many places we had to wade from one to two
miles through the flood. Encamped at sun-set,
at the head of the lower lake; and, maugre our
fatigue from travelling "o'er mountain and
through flood," succeeded in despatching with
wonderful celerity the remains of our buffalo.
At eight a. m. on the morning of the 6th we
came opposite Rocky Mountain House, which is
built on the western shore of the second lake.
A canoe was immediately despatched for us, and
we crossed over. This building was a miserable
concern of rough logs, with only three apartments, but scrupulously clean inside. An old
clerk, Mr. Jasper Hawes, was in charge, and
had under his command two Canadians, two
Iroquois, and three hunters. Its lat. is 53° 18'
40" N. Mr. M'Dougall had arrived the day
before us, after leaving his raft at the upper end
of the lower lake, from whence he and his party
walked to the house.
We expected to have found a supply of provisions here, that would enable us to reach English
river; but, to our extreme disappointment, none
was to be had. Mr. Hawes informed us that the
hunters were not able to kill more animals than
were barely sufficient to support his party; but
added, that there was every probability of our
obtaining a supply from  Lesser  Slave  Lake,
where Mr. Alexander Stewart had wintered, and
whose party we expected to join in our route to
Fort William.    Remained here all day getting
our canoes into order, preparatory to our bidding farewell to  the Rocky Mountains.    The
distance from the Columbia to this place, which
we travelled on foot, is by computation about
eighty-five or ninety miles.    This took nearly
ten days to accomplish.    Some of our men were
greatly exhausted ; but when we take into consideration the fatigues which they endured in
ascending the Columbia, the burdens they carried
in crossing1 the mountain, joined to the difficulties of the road, it must be acknowledged that
few could surpass them in strength, patience, or
perseverance.    The  house  is  situated near  a
stream called La Riviere a la Boucane, in consequence of some of the hunters who first visited
this place having alleged that they saw a volcano
near its source, which emitted great quantities of
smoke.    On making inquiry from our people, I
could  not learn that they had  ever  seen  an
actual eruption;   but they assert that in  the
autumnal months the ground is quite hot, and
that smoke  issues  from it in various places;
during which period, they add, a strong sulphuric
smell pervades the atmosphere.
We saw nothing from which we could judge
whether the mountains contained any metallic
ores or metals, and I could not find on the banks
of the various streams any of those fine agates
which I found on the Columbia. We, however,
had no time, nor were we qualified to enter into
scientific researches; and it will not be until civilisation has approached a few hundred leagues
nearer those great mountains that their various
productions will be known. At present, however,
I am of opinion that they contain nothing sufficient to repay a party in visiting them merely for
scientific purposes. The animals found in the
various] passes of the mountains are the buffaloes, ibex, big-horns, or mountain sheep, bears,
and sometimes a few wolves. These are too well
known to require any description here. Some of
the Upper Crees, a tribe who inhabit the country
in the vicinity of the Athabasca 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, 8cc. One man has asserted
that his grandfather 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 to determine; but if the Indian tradition 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.
The height of the Rocky Mountains varies considerably. The table land which we crossed I
should take to be about 11,000 feet above the
level of the sea. From the immense number of
rapids we had to pass in ascending the Columbia,
and its precipitous bed above the lakes, I consider that at their base the mountains cannot be
much under 8000 feet above the level of the Pacific ; and from the valley of Canoe River to the
level part of the heights of land cannot be less
than 3000 feet, but the actual altitude of their
highest summits must be much greater. They
are covered with eternal ice and snow, and will
probably be for ever inaccessible to man.
June 7th.    We were detained a considerable
portion of this day getting the canoes finished,
and at half past one p. m. wre took leave of the
melancholy hermitage of Mr. Jasper Hawes. We
had two good bark canoes and six men in each.
The lake extended about half a mile below the
house, when we entered the river, the current of
which is very strong, with here and there a few
rapids, at none of which we were obliged to unload.
Encamped at dusk on a small low island. Had
several smart showers during the day.
June 8th. It rained the greater part of the
night. Embarked at day-break in a thick fog,
which continued upwards of two hours. At eight
damaged our canoes in a rapid, at the foot of
which we stopped to breakfast and repair. At
noon passed a small river from the east called
M'Leod's Fork. Late in the evening passed two
lodges of Indians, and encamped a short distance
below them. They paid us a visit, and proved
to be Crees of the Forts des Prairies department.
They brought with them a few bags of dried meat
and fruit, which they wished to barter for rum ;
but as we had none of that cheering beverage to
give them, we tendered them our bills on the
Company, for which they would have obtained
value from any proprietor or clerk of the establishment ; at the same time explaining to them,
ft I
that we stood in great need of provisions. Mr.
Bethune knew that they were attached to the
interests of our rivals the Hudson's Bay Company, and therefore offered them higher prices
than he would have done to those of a friendly
tribe; but it was all unavailing. They would
hear of nothing—speak of nothing—until rum
was produced; and on finding that none could
be obtained, those splendid specimens of savage
hospitality carried away their extra provisions,
although they were informed that we had not
enough to subsist on for a ceuple of days !
From Rocky Mountain House to this place
the country on each side of the river is low,
and tolerably well wooded, but a strong and
marked difference is observable in the size of
the trees on the eastern side of the mountains.
Here all is dwarfish and stunted; while on the
Columbia the vegetable world is seen in its richest and most magnificent forms—including all
the varieties from a luxuriant growth of blackberry or wild-cherry, to the stately pine, and
majestic cedar. It is difficult to account for this
difference; but if I might hazard an opinion, I
would attribute it to the great humidity of the
climate on the Columbia. There, westerly and
south-westerly winds prevail eight months out of
the twelve, and carry with them immense masses
of clouds from the North Pacific. A great portion of these break over the high lands on the
coast; and such as escape are arrested in their
flight eastward by the Rocky Mountains, and
burst over their western base. So that at the
very source of the Columbia the pine and cedar
are as gigantic as at its entrance into the ocean.
Descent of the Athabasca River—Party disappointed in receiving provisions—Elk River and Lake—Join the brigade
from Lesser Slave Lake—Arrive at lie a la Crosse—Dread_
ful effects of the opposition between the North-West and
Hudson's-Bay Companies—Sketch of Mr. Peter Ogden.
Monday, June 9th. At eleven a. m. passed a
small river from the eastward, called the Pembina, from a profusion of berries of that name
which grow on its banks. At two p. m. stopped
at a hunting-lodge of free Iroquois. The head
of the family had a letter addressed |l To the
gentlemen from the Columbia." It was eagerly
broken open, and we found it was written by
Mr. Alexander Stewart, and dated from Lesser
Slave Lake, from which place he was on the
point of setting off with his winter's trade of furs
for Fort William. In it he regretted his inability to assist us with any provisions, alleging as
a reason, that he had a bare sufficiency for the
support of his own people outwards; but recommending that a portion of our party should be
sent to Slave Lake, where they would find fish
enough during the summer, and be able to set off
the ensuing spring without any fear of starvation.
This intelligence was dreadful, the more so
from its being unexpected ; for the spring party
from the Columbia had hitherto, after crossing
the mountains, invariably obtained from the
people at Lesser Slave Lake, a fresh stock of
dried meat or other food sufficient to support
them to English River, or Cumberland House.
We of course expected the usual supply, all hopes
of which were now banished by Mr. Stewart's
letter. A council was immediately held to consider what plan we should adopt in this emergency, when it was suggested that M'Tavish and
I should proceed forthwith with six men to Slave
Lake, and remain there until the spring for our
passage to Canada. To me, another year in the
Indian country would be an age : the idea was
horrible; and I at once refused to accede to
such an arrangement. M'Tavish was equally
unbending, and declared his fixed determination
to proceed. It was urged that we had not provisions for three days, and that with such a scanty
allowance, and no certainty of procuring a supply, inevitable starvation awaited us. Finding
that this gloomy picture made no impression on
us, recourse was had to threats, and it was
pretty broadly insinuated that force would be
adopted to compel obedience. Matters now became desperate; we loaded our guns, trimmed
I I    I
our flints, the hilt of the dirk became more
conspicuous, and menace was answered by defiance. The canoe-men looked on in silent amazement, but did not attempt to interfere; indeed had
they been so inclined, we felt certain that those belonging to our own canoe would not have deserted
us. Our opponents at length thought it prudent
to yield to our wishes, and a sort of sulky reconciliation took place, after which we embarked.
We had previously ascertained from the Iroquois,
that Mr. Stewart's brigade was not more than
four days ahead; and as they were heavily laden
with furs, while our canoes were quite light, we
determined to strain every nerve to overtake
them. The river was broad, with a swift current, and free from rapids; and w^e therefore
continued on all night, a disagreeable head-wind
occasionally annoying us.
June 10th. The Athabasca is here a noble river,
flowing through a rich pasture country thinly
wooded : saw several tracks of buffalo; but while
we had the current in our favour, we did not
think it prudent to stop. The stream carried us
down in fine style, until six p. m., when we arrived at the entrance of La Riviere de la Biche,
(Elk River,) where we left the Athabasca, which,
pursuing the course 1 have already mentioned,
ultimately discharges its waters into the Arctic
Ocean. For the last one hundred and twenty
miles its navigation was uninterrupted by rapids,
with a smooth steady current, and the soil on
each bank of the richest description.
We now shaped our course easterly, and ascended Riviere de la Biche about three miles,
when we encamped. The water was very low,
and we were. dreadfully tormented with musqui-
toes; but our hunters having discovered some
fresh tracks of buffalo, cheered our drooping
spirits a little.
i June 11th. Rose at day-break, but could
scarcely see twenty yards ahead, from a thick
fog. Owing to the shallowness of the river, the
passengers preferred walking, in order to lighten
the canoes. Made half a breakfast of our dried
pemmican, of which we had not now enough
for dinner. At ten a. m. the river became
wider and deeper, which enabled us to embark
and resume the paddles. At eleven passed a
small stream called Auger's River: and about
two p. m. came up to a recent encampment of
the Slave Lake brigade, the fires of which were
still burning. Here we also found some pieces
of buffalo meat, which those gentry did not think
fat enough to carry, but which proved very
grateful to our poor fellows.    At eight passed
 nr I
[ I
■ It
the river Pinette, and encamped at dusk. The
land on each side was very low, and thinly
wooded with small pine and poplar. In some
parts we observed patches of prairie ground of
two or three miles in extent. Saw one buffalo,
about three in the evening, but missed him.
June 12th. We had good deep water for paddling, from day-break until six a. m., when the
river for about four miles spread over a stony
bottom, which obliged us to land, while the men
worked up with the lines and poles. It then
became narrower and deeper, and continued so
for several miles, until eleven a. m., when it entered Lac de la Biche, which we crossed in three
hours with calm weather. As we approached
the eastern shore, we observed smoke issuing
from a small cove, and immediately after the
white canvass of a tent met our delighted eyes.
A few minutes more brought us to land, when
we had the inexpressible pleasure of meeting Mr.
Alexander Stewart, and the Slave Lake brigade,
consisting of eight canoes, and about forty-five
men. This was a fortunate circumstance. We
had not eaten a mouthful that day, up to two
o'clock, with starvation staring us in the face, no
natives on our route, and our chance of killing
animals more than doubtful.   We now, however,
recompensed ourselves for all these uncertainties
and apprehensions, by a plentiful repast of roast
buffalo and white-fish.
This lake, from the time we took to traverse
it, I should suppose to be about thirty miles in
circumference. It is nearly circular, and abounds
in white fish. The surrounding country is extremely low, without any rising ground in sight,
and on the western side the land is quite marshy.
The shores are tolerably wooded, principally with
pine, birch, and poplar.
During the night a number of the men were
employed on the lake catching fish by torch-light,
and were rather successful.
June 13th. About three miles to the eastward
of our encampment lies a small lake, called by the
Canadians Le Petit Lac de Biche. The country
between the two lakes forms the height of land
which divides the waters that fall into the Arctic
Ocean from the eastward, from those which fall
into Hudson's Bay from the westward. Mr. Stewart's men had commenced this portage yesterday,
and it took us the greater part of this day to finish
it; which will not appear extraordinary, when it
is considered that ten large canoes, and between
two and three hundred packs of beaver, each
weighing upwards of ninety pounds, had to be
carried three miles through a swampy marsh, full
Nil   S
of underwood, during the greater part of which
time it rained heavily. Encamped at four p. m.
on the shore of a little lake which we had previously crossed, and which was not more than
half a mile in breadth.
June 14th. It continued raining the greater
part of the night. Commenced another portage
this morning, of two hundred and fifty paces in
length, which brought us to a small stream called
Little Beaver River, into which we threw the
canoes. There was not sufficient water to float
them when loaded, in consequence of which we
had to construct dams at intervals of four or five
hundred paces. This was both a tedious and
laborious work ; and we encamped at six p. m.,
having advanced only five miles since morning.
Some of the men were sent a-head, to make
more dams. The passengers walked during the
day, and our hunters killed one fat moose deer.
The country is thinly wooded and marshy, and
full of wild onions and a species of plant which
served as an excellent substitute for cabbage.
June 15th. It rained hard all night, and the
greater part of this forenoon, owing to which we
did not start until twelve o'clock, and, being
obliged to continue the damming system all day,
our progress was of course extremely tedious.
Passed several handsome prairies, and observed
in many places along the banks of the little river
marks of beaver cuttings. Birch, pine, and
poplar, form the principal timber here. Made a
small portage, and encamped at seven p. m. Our
hunter killed another prime moose.
June 16th. Set off at three a. m., still in the
dams. At seven made a short portage, at the
end of which we stopped to breakfast and repair
the canoes, which had been greatly shattered by
their ditch navigation. About one p. m. we had
a sufficient body of water to admit of our embarking, and we proceeded with a tolerably
smooth current until half-past four, when we
encamped, having overtaken our hunters, who
had killed a fat bull-buffalo, and two beavers, on
which we made an excellent dinner. The country was not so well wooded as yesterday. We
had cloudy, and occasionally rainy weather,
which for the season was also rather chilly.
June 17th. Embarked at half-past three a. m.
Made several portages on account of rapids and
shoals. Our progress was therefore slow. Killed
a buck-moose in good condition. On shore the
greater part of the day. It consisted principally
of rich meadow land, with clusters of birch and
poplar scattered here and there along the banks
of the river.    Encamped at six p. m.
vol. II. o
June 18th. Set off at four, and had a pretty
smooth steady current all day. The country now
assumes a more picturesque appearance, rather
thickly wooded, and the banks of the river more
bold and hilly. The rapidity of our progress
brought us considerably in advance of the hunters, and at three p. m. we put ashore to wait
for them. The place at which we stopped was
called La Jolie Butte, by way of pre-eminence,
from the varied and handsome landscape by
which it was surrounded. The hunters joined
us at six, after which we continued on, and encamped at eight p. m. in sight of Moose Portage.
Only three beavers were killed this day.
June 19th. Sent the hunters off a-head at daybreak, and at half-past five commenced Moose
Portage, which we passed in less than two hours.
Here we found, fixed on poles in a conspicuous
part of the portage, some letters from the gentlemen stationed at Forts des Prairies,- containing
satisfactory news. From their date we conjectured that the messengers who brought them
must have been very recently at the portage.
At nine a. m. joined the hunters, who had just
returned from a long chase to the northward, in
the course of which they only killed one bull and
one moose : and as we stood in great need of a
supply, we were obliged to stop here the remainder of the day, to give the meat-men time
to bring in the bodies of those animals. The
hunters, however, started off a-head.
June 20th. The meat-men did not return
until nine this morning, when we embarked;
but at eleven the hunters' signal drew us to
shore, and the meat-men were despatched. They
remained away six hours, and returned at five
p. m. loaded with the carcases of an immensely
sized bull, and a huge grizzly bear. Encamped
at eight, at the Portage du Lac Froid, a small
lake, the water of which some of our people imagine is colder than that of Beaver River, and, in
order to account for this extra frigidity, it is supposed that it is fed from the bottoto by springs
of a peculiar nature. I tasted it; but whether
it was owing to the heat of the weather, or to a
vitiated palate, I must candidly confess, that I
could not discover any perceptible difference in
its temperature.
The country through which we passed for the
last few days is highly diversified with hill and
dale, meadow-ground and timber, and has many
charming spots for building.
June 21st. Set off at four a. m., and drove
down the current in fine style until two p. m.,
when we came up with our hunters.    They had
just returned after a long and fatiguing pursuit
of a herd of buffaloes, three of which they killed,
besides five they wounded, but which made their
escape. Encamped here, and sent off a party for
the meat. A ridge of pretty high hills thickly
wooded runs parallel with the course of the river
from Lac Froid to this place. M'Tavish and I
took a stroll inland in the track of the hunters,
and had not proceeded more than a mile when
we observed several buffaloes grazing. I instantly
fired, and hit one under the left shoulder. The
remainder fled; but the wounded animal, bellowing in a frightful manner, with rage and fury
flashing from his rolling eyes, charged on us.
We retreated behind the cover of a tree, from
whence M'Tavish took a steady aim, and lodged
a ball in his head directly over the right eye. He
instantly fell, and we cautiously approached him,
but took care to plant a couple more bullets
about his head before we came within arm's
June 22d. The meat-men did not return until
half-past ten this morning, when we set off, but
were obliged to stop from twelve to three for
another buffalo which our hunters had killed.
Encamped at eight p. m. in a handsome prairie on
the north side. Observed recent marks of buffalo
and moose, and numerous beaver cuttings.
June 23d. Embarked at half-past three a. m.
Stopped about an hour for a moose which was
killed about half a mile inland. The river for
the two last days had no rapid of any consequence, and the weather was very warm. A
little after eight p. m. observed a small leather
hut on the north side, in which we found three
free trappers, who had been formerly engages of
the North-West Company; but who, after the
expiration of their engagement, preferred the
wild and wandering life of a trapper, to remaining in the Company's service, or returning to
Canada. We encamped a little below their hut,
and they visited us after supper. Their news
was by no means of an agreeable nature. They
informed us, that they had learned from some
natives that a party of the Cree Indians from
Forts des Prairies, urged by large promises of
reward from the Hudson's Bay Company, had
gone on a war expedition to destroy our establishment at lie a la Crosse and all its inmates ;
adding, that whether successful or not, it was
more than probable we might meet this party en
As this intelligence was quite unexpected, and
as we were badly prepared to encounter a war
party of savages, Mr. SteWart, who had nowr the
command, ordered the hunters not to advance
III    |;!
more than a mile ahead, and, in case they observed
any appearance of natives, to return immediately
to the main brigade. In the mean time our firearms were put in order, and the men, the greater
part of whom had no weapons save their knives,
were ordered to furnish themselves with clubs.
We then retired to rest, leaving five sentinels
and an officer on guard to be relieved every two
June 24th. JSet off at half-past three, a. m.
At half-past two, p. m., passed Lac Vert, a small
lake so called from the greenish tinge of its water.
Encamped at half-past seven at the entrance of a
small river called La Poule d'Eau. The country
these two days is thinly wooded, and very flat.—
In many places the river had overflowed its
banks. Saw no animals.
June 25th. Embarked at half-past three.—
Stopped from eleven to two, to repair the canoes,
and dry some of the beaver which had been
slightly damaged from leaks. The country through
which we passed this day was quite flat and
marshy, occasioned by the inundations in times
of high water. Encamped at dusk, at the entrance
of a small river called La Plonge.
June 26th. Beaver River at this place branches
into several channels. We took the principal
one, and at eleven a. m. arrived at its termination
where it enters the lake of He a la Crosse, nearly
opposite the fort. Stopped here for half-an-hour
pour se faire la barbe, and make other little
arrangements connected with the toilet. These
being completed, we embarked, but having the
fear of the Crees before our eyes, our progress
was slow and cautious across the lake, until our
avant-couriers announced to us that the flag of
the North-West floated from the bastions, and
that all was safe. The Chanson a Vaviron was
instantly struck up, and at one p. m. we reached
the wharf, where we were met by Messrs.
M'Murray and Ogden, who were in charge of the
fort. Those gentlemen had also heard the rumoured
intention of the Crees to attack the establishment,
but they were of opinion that the attempt would
not be made. They had only eight men under
their command; but the place was surrounded
by strong palisades, and flanked by two bastions,
which although not very beautiful specimens of
fortification, would have puzzled a battalion of
Indians to take. The Hudson's-Bay Company
had a fort on a point of land running into the
lake, which was not more than a quarter of a
mile distant from our establishment. It had been
taken the preceding winter by the North-West
Company, and at the period of our arrival there
were about twenty (men) prisoners in it,  and
upwards of one hundred and twenty women and
children, besides dogs innumerable. They were
miserably supplied with provisions, and all seemed
dejected and emaciated. Their principal reliance
for food was on the lake; and when the fish
failed, their chief support was tripe de rocher.
I conversed with some of the men. They were
from the Orkneys, and wished they were safe
home again. They spoke in no flattering terms
of the treatment they received from their captors;
but admitted that such of the North-Westers as
had been made prisoners by their party fared no
It will undoubtedly sound odd in the ears of
British readers, to hear of forts attacked and
prisoners taken by commercial companies, natives
of the same country, and subjects of the same
king. To account for this it will be necessary to
take a short retrospect, in order to explain the
causes that led to a state of things which was
ultimately productive of so many disastrous and
melancholy consequences.
The opposition between the Hudson's-Bay
and the North-West Companies was for many
years carried on without any violent breach of
the peace on either side. As I have observed in
the introduction, the indolent habits of the persons belonging to the former,  unstimulated by
any hope of extra reward or prospective promotion, gave to the North-West Company powerful
advantages, of which they did not fail to avail
themselves; and while their enterprizing agents
explored the most remote parts of the continent
for the extension of their trade, their chartered
opponents, with a Dutch-like kind of apathy,
quietly confined themselves to their ancient territory.
Both parties were thus situated, when the late
Earl of Selkirk conceived the idea of establishing
a colony of Scotch and Irish on the Red River,
which falls into Lake Winepic. The soil was
fertile, the climate temperate, and, were it not
for its great distance from civilization, was admirably calculated for a new settlement. It was,
however, the great depot of the North-West
Company for making pemmican, the principal
article of food used by their canoe-men in
voyaging. If the colony succeeded, it would
gradually cut off the buffalo, from which the
pemmican is made, and ultimately oblige the
Company to import from Canada, at an enormous expense, a great portion of the provisions
necessary for their travelling parties. It may
therefore be supposed, that the settlers were not
regarded with the most friendly feelings; and
every obstacle short of actual violence was thrown
in the way of their location. Their first year
was one of incredible hardships, arising from
their ignorance of the country and its productions, and the total failure of their provisions ;
which, joined to the various modes of annoyance
practised by the North-west Company, induced
the greater part to avail themselves of an offer
made by members of that concern to transport
them gratuitously to Canada in their canoes.
The want of success in his first attempt at colonization being, in a great degree, caused by the
opposition of the North-West Company, Lord
Selkirk determined to adopt retaliatory measures;
and for this purpose purchased a number of shares
in the Hudson's-Bay Company, of which he became an active director. His Lordship was well
aware that several clerks, who had been many
years in the service of the rival Company, were
discontented at not having been sooner promoted
to the proprietory, and that the claims of the
old and faithful were too often passed over,
while young favourites of comparatively little experience were placed above them. It was therefore an important object with him to induce as
many as possible of those so dissatisfied to join
his party by the offer of large salaries, which
several, at the expiration of their various engagements with the North-West Company, accepted.
The most active of these gentlemen was Mr.
Colin Robertson, an enterprising trader who had
often ventured his life, both among Indians and
white-men, to advance the interests of his establishment. Having a perfect knowledge of the
busiuess of the interior, Lord Selkirk entrusted
him with its chief management; and as he knew
from experience the great superiority of the Canadian voyageurs over the Orkney men, in the
management of canoes, &c., he engaged a number of them at Montreal at a much higher rate of
wages than had been previously paid by the
North-West Company.
The opposition between the rival parties now
assumed a new and more marked character, and
the invigorating spirit which had been infused
into the hitherto cautious councils of the Hudson's Bay, by the daring policy of Mr. Robertson, soon became manifest. He knew the strong
holds and the weak points of his opponents, and
being of opinion that much depended on the first
impression made on the Indians, he at once determined to push for Athabasca, the great
northern department of the North-West, and the
most productive in beaver. No rival trader had I
ever before ventured to encroach on Athabasca,j
and this unexpected invasion was deemed the
ne plus ultra of audacity, the seizure of the bull
by the horns.
Mr. Robertson was successful in his first expedition. The high prices he offered for their
furs seduced the natives from their allegiance to
their old masters, and hundreds came crowding
to his standard. In other parts of the interior
the struggle was more obstinate, and the North-
Westers, to secure the wavering loyalty of the
Indians, were compelled to keep pace with the
advanced prices of their opponents.
A reinforcement of settlers having in the mean
time arrived at Hudson's Bay, they were despatched to the Red River, where they built a
strong fort, and began to re-establish the colony.
Several of the natives joined them, and the influence of the North-West became sensibly diminished in that quarter.
Thus far Lord Selkirk's plan of operations for
the year 1814-15 succeeded beyond his expectations ; and great preparations were made by him
for opening the ensuing campaign on a much
more extended scale. The exertions of the
North-Westers were equally vigorous. Double
the usual quantity of trading goods was sent
to the interior, the men's wages were raised,
and  several   clerks  were   elected  proprietors.
The orders to both parties were, to secure as
much provisions and furs as they could collect,
coute qui coitte.
Mr. Clarke, lately of the Pacific Fur Company,
on his arrival in Canada from the Columbia, was
engaged by Lord Selkirk, and proceeded with a
strong force to Athabasca, in which department
he had spent many years while in the service of
the North-West, during which period he was a
great favourite with the Chepweyans.
It is not my intention however to give a detail
of the various quarrels, the prisoners made, the
forts surprised, or the lists of killed and wounded,
on each side ; but from the following extracts of
letters, which I received before quitting the
Columbia, it will be seen that the Hudson's Bay
people were the greatest sufferers.
| Port William, 28th July, 1816.
1 You already know the strong opposition that
came into the country, the greatest part of which
went to Athabasca, and Slave Lake. You must
also have heard of their success at the former
place, having been obliged from starvation to
give themselves up to the North-West; although
your old friend * swore he would rather die
than come under any obligations to our people.
* Mr. Clarke.
He lost seventeen men by famine. At Slave
Lake they were more successful; but at the
different establishments they had in other parts
of the country, they lost thirteen more by
starvation. Last June they received a mortal
blow, from the Cossacks* of Red River; of
which affair, as I was on the spot a few days
after, I shall give yon a detail. You of course
know that two of our forts were taken, and all
the property; and that Captain Cameron -j- was
made prisoner. The forts were subsequently
" Mr. A. M'Donell, who was stationed at
Qu'appelle river, held his fort in defiance of
them. He was threatened with destruction if
he made any attempt to pass downward. His
opponent however started with his men, and returns of furs and provisions ; of the latter he had
about three hundred taureaux (pemmigans) well
guarded, as they thought, but those blackguard
Brules (I know not from what cause) fell in with
them, took them all prisoners, and carried the
property to Mr. M'Dbnell.    No blood was shed
* A )wm de guerre given by the writer to the sons of white
men by Indian wives. They are also called Bois Brules,—
but why, it is difficult to determine,
-j- This gentleman was a proprietor of the North-West
on this occasion. Some time after Mr. M'Donell
being anxious for the arrival of the gentlemen
from the northward, sent a party of five Canadians
with two carls, loaded with provisions for us, by
land ; and  the above blackguards took  upon
themselves to accompany them, to the number of
fifty.    On passing by the colony, at the distance
of two miles, they were stopped by the governor
and twentv-six men well armed.    The BruUs
were  at that time  but thirteen, including the
Canadians.    A  few  words arose between  the
governor and one  of our  men.     The  former
ordered his men to fire, when two only, with
much reluctance, obeyed     The fire was immediately returned by the Brules, when seven instantly fell.    A retreat was begun by the Hudson's-Bay people; but out of twenty-six,  only
four escaped.    Officers killed, Governor Semple,
Messrs. M'Lean, Rogers, Holt, Wilkinson, and
Doctor White.    A Mr. Burke, who commanded
their artillery, was wounded, and is now a prisoner here with three others.    The Brules had
only one man killed, and one wounded.    They
took the fort, with a great quantity of arms and
ammunition, and have sworn vengeance against
every description of Hudson's-Bay men.    Even
the Indians attached to the interests of the latter,
were obliged to come under the banners of the
Brules. They were commanded by six officers,
some of whom you know.* This happened on
the 19th of June, and we arrived on the 23rd.
e< Lord Selkirk is coming up in person with a
strong force, expecting, no doubt, to carry every
thing before him. His body-guard was taken
from him before leaving Montreal, as the regiment was disbanded. He has however hired
some of them on his own account. We expect
him daily. His friend Miles M'Donell with two
canoes went in almost to Bas de la Riviere ; but
on learning from the Indians the above intelligence, he thought proper to change his course,
and immediately returned to wait his Lordship's
orders. Five of the canoes are stuck fast near
this place, one further on, and three have returned to the Sault in a state of mutiny. By this
you may see what his Lordship's prospects may
be." _|L   .
" Fort William, 30th July, 1826.
| My dear Cox,       "1;
g Times have much altered since I have been
* The leader of this party, Mr. Alexander Fraser, is the
same individual who lost his life at the commencement of the
year 1829 in Paris, in a quarrel with a Mr. Warren, who was
subsequently tried for the offence, and sentenced to eighteen
months imprisonment. Mr. Fraser was wholly blameless in
the unfortunate affair, which ended in his death.
on this side the mountains. The habits of indolence which I acquired on the banks of the Columbia, render every thing on this busy bustling
scene rather disagreeable; and, to add to my
vexation, notwithstanding my long services, and
my exertions to avoid it, I have been appointed
to winter in a most villanous starving post,
with a strong force of the Hudson's Bay to
oppose me.
"Mr. Clarke was remarkably unfortunate in
his Athabasca expedition. He lost numbers of
his people from starvation ; and in order to save
the remainder he was forced to capitulate, surrender his fort, and the whole of his property.
"At Red River, during the winter, the Hudson's Bay drove all before them. They took
several of our forts, and made a prisoner of one
of our proprietors (Mr. Cameron) whom they
sent to the Bay, to be from thence transmitted
for trial to England. They met however a severe
blow in the spring. They attacked a party of
half-breeds, and were defeated with the loss of
twenty-five men, including three officers. Their
forts and provisions fell into our hands, their
men were made prisoners, and the whole of
their Colonists and traders were driven out of
the Red River.
| We are daily expecting Lord Selkirk with a
VOL.   II. P
force of two hundred men from Montreal, but he
will be undoubtedly forced to retreat from want
of provisions. He is yet ignorant of the disasters that have befallen his favourite Colony.
What the result will be, time must determine."
The writers of those letters were two of the
most moderate men in our Company; but from
the apathy they evince in speaking of the ruthless massacre of the unfortunate settlers, the
esprit de corps which animated the fighting members may be conjectured. In fact, the infernal
spirit of rivalry had attained such a height, that
the mildest and the bravest of both parties became in turn the most reckless desperadoes.
Force was the only tribunal to which they appealed, and arms their only arguments.
The peace with the United States had thrown
idle in Canada a number of soldiers whose regiments had been disbanded. Among those was
de Meuron's regiment, upwards of two hundred
of which were engaged by Lord Selkirk, as a
corps d'observation, to awe the North-Westers.
On hearing however of the fate of the Colonists
at' Red River, he did not think it prudent to
venture beyond Fort William, and immediately
returned to the seat of government in Canada.
A number of the most influential members of the
rival Companies had been the year before appointed magistrates for the Indian territory; and
owing to the representations of his Lordship, as
to the manner in which his Majesty's subjects
were murdering each other with impunity, the
Governor-General issued a proclamation, commanding the immediate arrest of all persons concerned in the recent outrages, and threatening
with the severest punishment all future breaches
of the peace.* His Excellency also appointed
Messrs. Coltman and Fletcher, two gentlemen
of the highest respectability, and unconnected
with either Company, as commissioners to proceed forthwith to the Indian country, for the
purpose of investigating into the origin of the
outrages, and to order the arrest of all persons
implicated, with a view to their being transmitted
to Canada for trial. It was however rather late
in the season to proceed to the interior, and their
departure was therefore delayed until the spring
of 1817. fe^^fe :   ':WJ^
In the mean time, the war was carried on with
unabated vigour during the winter of 1816-17.
One partner, one clerk, and a few men belonging to the North-Westers, were captured by the
* This document was forwarded by express to the interior,
and treated with sovereign contempt by the majority of those
to whom it was addressed.
12    f
Hudson's-Bay people; but the latter were generally defeated. Several of their officers and numbers of their men were made prisoners; and
some of their forts were obliged to capitulate on
unconditional terms.
The spirit of ruinous competition had at this
period gained such a height, that the prices given
to the Indians for their furs, after deducting the
expenses of carriage and other contingent charges,
far exceeded their value to the Company. Their
profits became sensibly diminished, and the persons who derived the greatest benefits from the
opposition were the clerks and other employe's.
Such was the situation of affairs when we arrived at He a la Crosse. As I have already mentioned, the Hudson's Bay establishment at this
place had been captured the preceding winter
by the North-West, and the officer in charge
sent forward to join some more of his companions
in captivity.
We remained a couple of days at the fort to
refresh the men, and were hospitably entertained
by our host on excellent white fish, and tea
without sugar. One of those gentlemen, Mr.
Peter Ogden, was nearly related to a high judicial
functionary, and in early life was destined for the
same profession. The study of provincial jurisprudence, and the seignorial subdivisions of Cana-
dian property, had no charms for the mercurial
temperament of Mr. Ogden; and, contrary to
the wishes of his friends, he preferred the wild
and untrammelled life of an Indian trader, to
the " law's delay," and the wholesome restraints
which are provided for the correction of over-
exuberant spirits in civilised society. His accounts of his various rencontres with Orkney
men and Indians would have filled a moderate-
sized octavo, and if reduced to writing would
undoubtedly stagger the credulity of any person
unacquainted with the Indian country ; and although some of his statements were slightly tinctured with the prevalent failing of La Guienne,
there was vraisemblance enough throughout to
command our belief in their general accuracy.
In a country, however, in which there is no
legal tribunal to appeal to, and into which the
" King's writ does not run," many acts must be
committed that would not stand a strict investigation in Banco Regis. " My legal primer,"
said Ogden, " says that necessity has no law ;"
and in this place, where the custom of the country, or as lawyers say, the Lex non scripta is our
only guide, we must, in our acts cf summary legislation, sometimes perform the parts of judge,
jury, sheriff hangman, gallows and all!"
ft J
9 1
English river—Pass numerous lakes and rapids—Arrive at
Cumberland House—Saskachawaine river—Lake Winepic
—Aurora Borealis—River Winepic—Meet various parties
—Rainy Late and Fort—Death of an Indian.
Sunday, June 29th. At half-past eleven a. m.
this day we bid adieu to the humorous, honest,
eccentric, law^defying Peter Ogden, the terror of
Indians, and the delight of all gay fellows.
It blew pretty fresh during the day, which
obliged us to keep our square-sail closely reefed.
We generally kept from two to six miles from
shore, and occasionally shipped a good deal of
water. Encamped at eight p. m. at the extremity
of the lake. It is computed to be eighteen leagues
in length, and from three to five in breadth, and
is indented by a number of deep bays, the shores
of which were at times scarcely visible w7ith the
naked eye. A few islands are scattered over it,
on which we observed immense numbers of pelicans.
June 30th. Embarked at three a. m. At five,
passed the Portage Sonnant, which was followed
by several  bad rapids,  through which we ran
 without unloading. At six, passed Caribceuf
river, celebrated for its excellent fish, and at
eight passed the Portage de la Puisse, where we
stopped to breakfast and repair the canoes. At
half-past two, passed the Portage des Anglais ;
and at six crossed Knee Lake, a pretty large
body of water. Encamped at eight at La
Riviere Croche : charming weather all day.
July 1st, 1817. Embarked at three a. m. and
at four overtook the loaded canoes, which we
passed. Crossed Lac du Sable with a stiff
breeze, and shot down Les Rapides des Serpens,
without unloading. This brought us into Lac
des Serpens, which we crossed with a fair wind
at half past ten, and immediately after entered
Lac des Souris ; at the end of which we breakfasted. Continued on at noon with a fine breeze
across Lac des Epingles, and at half past-two
passed the portage at its termination. At three
passed the Portage des Bouleaux, at which we
only took out half the loading; and at four
passed another portage called Le Canot Casse\
Shortly after crossed Le Lac d'Huile d'Ours
with a fair wind, and encamped at six, a little
below Le Rapide qui ne parle point. Four
lodges of the Chepewyan Indians were near our
encampment, from whom we purchased a small
quantity of meat.    We  also  caught nine  ex-
11 III
111 II
II1 EI i
cellent pike. It rained occasionally during the
evening. Saw three moose and five bears, but
could not get a shot at them.
July 2nd. On examining our nets this morning we found only six pike, a miserable supply
for so many people. Set off at three A. m. with
a fair wind, and had tolerably good navigation
until eight, when we arrived at the Portage des
Halliers, at the southern end of which we breakfasted. At one passed the Portage de Traite ;
at two, that of the Petit Rocher, and at three, a
demi-portage called Les Ecors, where the lading
only was carried. Encamped at five, at La
Riviere des Cotes, where we expected to make
a good haul with our nets. We caught ten pike
during the day at the different portages. Saw
two large bears, but could not hit them. Weather very warm.
July 3rd. Our nets this morning produced
thirty white-fish, pike, pickerel and carp. Embarked at three a. m. and crossed Le Lac du
Diable with a fair breeze. At six finished the
Portage du Diable on the left side. The road is
long, crooked, and narrow ; which accounts, I
should suppose, for the name given by the Canadians to the portage. A small lake next followed, which brought us to a chain of short ugly
rapids called Les Petits Diables, down which we
shot without unloading, but damaged the canoes
considerably. At the end of the last " Little
Devil," we were obliged to unload the trading
packages, &c. At this place the water forces its
way through three small straits into a lake about
five miles long, which is terminated by Le Ra-
pide de l'Outre, at the end of which we breakfasted. At ten renewed our progress, and entered Le Lac de l'Outre, which brought us to a
portage called Le Petit Rocher de la Montagne,
which we finished at half-past twelve. At two
made the Portage de la Montagne. The distance between the two portages does not exceed
half a mile, and they derive their name from
high rocky eminences in the vicinity. Encamped
at five, at the south end of Le Lac de la Queue
D6pouillee; where we set our nets. Passed
some fine rising grounds during the day, well
stocked with spruce, poplar, birch, cypress, and
willow. Near the water's edge, we observed
quantities of wild gooseberry, currant, strawberry, blueberry, &c. |jjj
i|-Juiy 4th. Caught only twenty carp, pike,
and white-fish. Started at three. At five arrived at the entrance of Riviere au Rapide,
where there are a couple of small houses for the
rendezvous of the people belonging to Lac la
I \
Ronge, a trading establishment situated about
six leagues from this place. As this was esteemed a capital fishing spot, we sent on the
loaded canoes, and remained ourselves here the
remainder of the day, to recruit our stock of
provisions.    Weather very sultry all day.
July 5th. Caught only thirty fish, seventeen
of which were speared. Embarked at three, and
in half an hour afterwards made the portage of
La Riviere au Rapide, which is very short.
This brought us into a handsome lake, and at
six made the Portage de l'Ue, over a small island,
by which a circuitous passage by the river is
considerably shortened. After re-embarking we
passed through another lake interspersed with
islands, which brought us to a narrow rapid
channel, through which we passed until we arrived at Portage de Barril at eight o'clock, where
we overtook the loaded canoes. They had only
caught fish enough for breakfast. After quitting
this place we entered another lake a few miles
in extent, in the centre of which was a very bad
rapid. At nine arrived at another portage called
Le grand Rapide du Fort de Traite. It is the
longest carrying place on English River. Here
we breakfasted and repaired the canoes. Caught
also eight good pike.    Proceeded on at eleven.
and crossed Le Lac du Fort de Traite in three
hours and a half, with rather a head-wind the
greater part of the way.
At three passed the Portage du Fort de Traite,
which is rather long. Here took leave of the
English River, which, taking the name of
Churchill, turns down to Hudson's Bay. During the six days that we were sailing down this
river, we crossed sixteen lakes, and passed upwards of thirty rapids, at sixteen of which we
were obliged to make portages.
A little after three p. m. entered a small river
with an imperceptible current, in which we had
not proceeded more than half a mile, when it
widened considerably, and presented to our view
an extensive prospect of fine fiat country, bounded
at a great distance by well-wooded hills. A
little further on, the channel again became quite
contracted, and more difficult to navigate, owing
to several small islands interrupting the course of
the current. At one detroit, we were obliged to
unload and carry the goods some distance. This
brought us to a lake wrhich we crossed at half-
past four, and on the shores of which we en*
camped, for the purpose of trying to. procure a
supper of fisb. Killed two hares, a pair of ducks^
and a brace of partridges during the day, which
we boiled with tripe du rocher, a species of nu-
tritive moss growing on the rocks, and which
made excellent soup.
July 6th. Embarked at three. Our nets only
produced four fish this morning. Entered Lac
du Bois at half-past three, and crossed it in five
hours. It is a fine body of water, surrounded by
a champaign country, tolerably well wooded. At
the end of the lake made three small portages
close to each other, and about two miles lower
down made half a portage, called Le Decharge
au Lac du Bois, all which we completed at half-
past ten a. m. Mr. Stewart's canoe and mine
remained here the rest of the day to fish; one
only of the loaded canoes joined us. Dined and
supped chiefly on tripe de rocker.
July 7th. We caught during the night, with
the net, lines, and spears, fifty well-assorted fish,
which gave a tolerable meal to our half-starved
hard-working men. Set off at the usual hour.
At seven crossed Pelican Lake, at which we
stopped to breakfast. Here also we caught a
few carp.
Proceeded on at nine, and shortly after arrived
at the head of Lac Miron, where we remained
till noon wind-bound. The weather having moderated a little, we embarked about a quarter
past twelve, but had not reached more than the
centre of the lake when we were overtaken by a
storm of thunder, and heavy rain, accompanied
by dreadful squalls from every quarter of the
compass. To return was impossible, and we
continued occasionally shipping large quantities
of water, and momentarily expecting to be upset
by the violence of the storm. We crossed, however, in safety; and at four, encamped at the
Portage d'Epinettes, for the purpose of drying
ourselves, and spreading the nets. The weather
continued rainy and squally during the night.
July 8th. This morning only produced five
pike for the two canoes. Started at half-past
three. At four, made the short Portage de Pile ;
and at half-past seven passed the Portage des
Bouleaux dans la Riviere Creuse. It was long
and slippery, owing to the recent rains. Shortly
below it, ran down a dangerous rapid, called la
Carpe, without unloading, and were near perishing from the intricacy of the channel. At nine,
made the Portage de la Carpe, at the end of
which we breakfasted, repaired the canoes, and
caught twenty white-fish with a kind of hook
formed by one of the men out of the handle of the
cooking-kettle. Proceeded on at noon, through
a clear channel, until three p. m. when we arrived
at the Rapide des Ecors, which we shot down
without unloading. At five, made the Portage
de la Pente, after which a steady uninterrupted
current brought us, at half-past six, to Lac Castor.    Here Mr. Stewart's canoe took the lead,
and we continued on in a heavy gale and thunderstorm until night overtook us in the centre of the
lake.    We were for some time in a very critical
situation, owing to the darkness, which was only
relieved by an occasional flash of lightning. We
at length approached shore, and observed a long,
high, and rocky point, which it would be madness to attempt to double.    Orders were therefore given to land at the most practicable part;
and, after beating about for some time in search
of a beach, we succeeded about eleven o'clock in
running  the  canoes into  a  small  cove at the
southern end of the point.    It rained on us the
whole night, and we had not a mouthful of provisions.
July 9th. The gale continued without intermission, accompanied by heavy rain all the forenoon ; and owing to our tent being in Mr. Stewart's canoe, we were deprived of any shelter.
About five p. m. the wheater moderated, and enabled us to push off. We doubled the point in
safety, after which we hoisted sail, and in half an
hour afterwards joined Mr. Stewart, who had
encamped at the head of La Riviere Maligne,
where he waited our arrival. Stopped here the
remainder of the day, being anxious to ascertain
how the loaded canoes had weathered out the gale.
The unsettled state of the wind prevented us from
catching any fish, and we were obliged to retire
again on this night to our stony couch supperless.
July 10th. Embarked at three a. m. and entered La Riviere Maligne. We had not proceeded far, when, in running down La Rapide
Croche, our canoe came in contact with the rocks,
by which eight ribs were broken, and it was
otherwise badly damaged. This delayed us some
time to repair. After launching again we had not
proceeded through more than two or three miles
of smooth water, when we got into a chain of
shallow, crooked, and rocky rapids, in every one
of which we sustained more or less injury. At
eight a.m. passed the mouth of Rat River, a small
stream; and within a quarter of nine, arrived at
the termination of La Riviere Maligne, where it
discharges its waters into Cumberland-House
Lake. This river is most appropriately named
by the Canadians; for I believe, for its length, it
is the most dangerous, cross-grained piece of navigation in the Indian country.
Owing to a head-wind, we were unable to
proceed until half-past four p. m., when it veered
about in our favour. We instantly hoisted sail,
and made the Grande Traverse in three hours.
RIVAL settlements.
Encamped at nine on a low muddy beach. Caught
three small fish, which were boiled with some
tripe de rocher, and afforded a spoonful of soup
to each of the poor famished men.
July llth. Started at two a. m., and a short
distance above our encampment passed the lodge
of a fisherman belonging to Cumberland House,
from whom we obtained a most welcome and
seasonable supply of three prime sturgeon. At
four, made the Traverse de Pile with a strong
side breeze, when we landed to allow time to our
hungry voyageurs to regale themselves on the
fisherman's supply. A roaring fire quickly
crackled on the beach, and in less than an hour
the sturgeon entirely disappeared. Proceeded
on at six, and at seven arrived at Cumberland
House, of which we found a gentleman named
Fairis in charge, who treated us to an excellent
breakfast of tea, fish, and steaks. Remained
here during the day to recruit the men.
At this period the rival Companies had large
forts here, which wrere well fortified; but no
breach of the peace had occurred during the
winter between the respective traders. Friendly
intercourse was out of the question, and a suspicious kind of armed neutrality was preserved on
each side.
The country round Cumberland House is low,
with a rich soil and thinly wooded. Land animals are scarce; but the lake furnishes an abundance of white-fish, pike, and sturgeon. A few
horses are employed about the forts chiefly for
domestic purposes. The Indians who occasionally visit it, are a friendly well-disposed tribe,
rather addicted to the use of ardent spirits.
July 12th. Sent off the loaded canoes at one
p. m. ; but did not start ourselves till five, when
we took our leave of Mr. Fairis, and shortly afterwards encamped on an island not far from the
July 13th. At three a. m. embarked, and entered the Saskachawaine River, a noble broad
stream with a strong steady current, uninterrupted by rapids. According to Canadian computation, we made forty-nine leagues before night
set in. I doubt the accuracy of this calculation,
although we certainly made wonderful progress.
The country on each side of the river is extremely low, and totally devoid of timber, but is
dreadfully prolific in musquitoes. Those insects
swarmed about us in such myriads, that we in
vain attempted to effect a landing, and to preserve the small quantity of blood still remaining
in our veins, were constrained to pass the entire
night on the water, driving quietly and calmly
VOL.   II. Q
down the current. Numerous parties however
of the enemy occasionally swarmed about our
heads, which we partially protecte'd by constant
Early on the morning of the 14th we entered
Lac Vas6, and made the first traverse in Lac
Bourbon with a fair w7ind, but in the midst of the
most dangerous swells.
The wind having increased to a heavy gale, we
were obliged to put ashore at eight o'clock on
Martel's island, where we were detained until
four p. m., when we were enabled to proceed.
Passed the Grande Traverse of Bourbon Lake
in moderate weather, and encamped at ten p. m.
on a low stony island, which we selected in consequence of its being free from musquitoes. Here
we found several hundred gulls' eggs, on which
we made an excellent supper. The weather for
the last few days was extremely sultry, with
thunder and lightning at intervals. This night
we found it rather cool.
July 15th. Embarked at three a.m. Hard rain
during the morning. On quitting Bourbon Lake
we entered a long strait full of dangerous rapids,
which brought us to Lac de Travers about five
miles in breadth. On leaving this we entered
another chain of dangerous rapids, which finally
brought us, at seven a. m., to the great rapid of
 unexpected arrival.
Lac Winepic.   This exceeded by far, in body of
water and general magnitude, any rapid I had
seen to the eastward of the Rocky Mountains.
The canoes were let down for a distance of three
miles with double lines;   and in some places,
where large rocks projected into the river, the
lading was taken out, and carried to the other
side of the point.    Reached the foot of the rapid
without any accident, at a quarter before nine,
where we stopped to breakfast.    Four Canadian
free trappers, named Montreuil, Racette, Martin, and son,  were encamped at this place with
their squaws.    As it blew too hard to attempt
entering Lake Winepic, we pitched our tents and
partook of an excellent breakfast with old Martin,
consisting of cherry-tree tea, with boiled and fried
sturgeon.    Late in the evening we were agreeably surprised by the arrival of a party bound to
the interior, consisting of Messrs. John D. Campbell, Alexander M'Donell, Samuel Black,  and
my old Columbian companion, M'Kay, with sixteen men and two canoes.    They pitched their
tents alongside ours;   and as their garde-vins
were tolerably well stocked, we sat up the entire
night swallowing the news which they brought
from the civilised world/
July 16th.    Embarked at three a. m., having
previously purchased from Martin six sturgeon
Q 2
1 1
R 1
lake winepic.
for each canoe. The morning was calm and
cloudy as our little flotilla entered the great waters of Lake Winepic. About eight o'clock a
smart breeze sprung up, which enabled us to hoist
sail. At ten it increased to a close-reefer, and
we scudded along for a'couple of hours in glorious style; at times two or three miles from the
shore. About noon, however, the gale became
so violent that we were compelled to make the
best of our way to a landing-place, where we
pitched our tents for the day.
July 17th. It blew a perfect hurricane the entire day, which prevented us from attempting to
July 18th. Shortly after midnight the gale moderated, and at half-past one this morning we set
off in ealm weather. About sun-rise a favourable breeze sprang up, which wafted us on till
twelve, when its increasing violence again obliged
us to seek the shore, a few miles above LaPointe
Maligne; a long rocky neck of land so called,
which stretches some distance into the lake, and
which in stormy weather is difficult to double.
Remained here until six p. m., when the gale having moderated, we again embarked and continued on all night, alternately with the sail and
the paddle.
Ju y  19th.   Light fair breezes wafted us on
.gently during the greater part of the day. Tne7
rather impeded than accelerated our progress ;
for by the custom of voyaging, the paddles are
laid aside while the sail is hoisted, and the men
very naturally keep it up while the smallest
breath ruffles the water. At four passed Pile de
St. Martin; and at eight, encamped at a point
called La Tete de Picheu. Weather dark and
calm during the night.
July 20th. Embarked at two a. m., with a stiff
breeze, which brought us past La Tete de Brochet
in fine style. The wind having increased to a
hard gale, we put ashore at half-past eleven, at
the south side of the Traverse des lies d'Ecorce,
which it would be dangerous to attempt passing
in stormy weather. About five it moderated,
and we continued on with a fair wind all evening.
The navigation here being rather dangerous, and
the weather extremely dark, it was judged prudent to encampt at ten p. m., in a snug little cove
on the northern shore, about half way between
La Tete de Chien and Le Detroit du Due. The
country all round was in a state of conflagration, the smoke from which was quite suffocating. The scene was magnificent, and there was
imparted to it a terrible degree of interest by the
howling of wolves and other beasts of prey,
which the extending flames forced from their
long-frequented haunts.
The Aurora Borealis too appeared in all its
splendid kaleidoscope variety of forms. At times
a vertical battalion of strange figures seemed to
rush in fierce encounter on an horizontal phalanx ;
the whole mass became mingled, and in an instant flew off into new and more fantastic shapes.
A loud and crackling noise occasionally struck
on our ears, and it was difficult to determine
whether it proceeded from the evanescent meteors above, or the falling timbers of the burning
forest below.
July 21st. Left our encampment at half past
two a. m. And at five passed through a small
strait called Le Detroit du Due, where the two
shores approach to within a quarter of a mile of
each other. Beyond this, however, the lake again
widens to five leagues.
At ten a smart breeze sprung up. Met two
Indians (Sauteus) in a small canoe close to a
rocky point called Le Tete de Boeuf, from whom
we purchased a small quantity of dried meat.
At noon a hard gale came on, accompanied by
thunder, heavy rain, and dangerous squalls :
we, however, continued on for some time; but
having shipped a good deal of water, we were
forced to put ashore a few miles below another
strait, named Le Detroit de la Tete de Bceuf, at
which place we stopped for the remainder of
the day.
July 22nd. Embarked at four a. m., with a
steady breeze, which continued the greater part
of the day. At noon doubled La Point de Me-
tasse in a hard gale, which nearly filled the
canoes. Here we breakfasted, and at two
p. m. arrived at Fort Alexander, situated at the
end of Lake Winepic, and at the entrance of
Winepic River. Messrs. Heron and Crebassa
were in charge, with three men and a dozen of
July 23rd. Remained at Fort Alexander until
three p. m. when we bid adieu to our friend
Mr. Alexander Stewart, who was not to. proceed beyond this place. We previously sent off
the loaded canoes at an early hour in the
morning,    ijfc jg||
Winepic River is greatly obstructed by rapids;
at numbers of which portages must be made, or
part of the goods unloaded. In the last case they
are only called Decharges. It would be tiresome and useless to give the various names by
which the Canadians distinguish those places.
We passed six in the afternoon, and encamped
at dusk at the head of Portage des Chenes.
J uly 24th. Set off at day-break, and encamped
at seven p.m., after having made five portages
during the day. In passing through Lac de
Bonnet, we met Mr. Hughes, a proprietor, who
with six men in a canoe was proceeding to Forts
des Prairies, of which department he had charge.
Weather extremely sultry.
July 25th. Commenced our morning's work
by making seven portages | all in a row," at the
upper end of which we stopped to breakfast and
repair the canoes. Here we were overtaken by
Mr. Crebassa in a light canoe with twelve men,
on his way to Fort William with despatches.
Encamped late at the end of Portage Brule.
July 26th. We had much thunder and torrents
of rain the greater part of last night, by which
our goods and covering were quite wet. Remained a few hours at the encampment to dry
our clothes, &e. At eight a. m. Mr. Leith, one
of the proprietors, accompanied by Lieutenant
Austin of the 37th foot, with thirteen of his regiment, and twelve well-armed Iroquois, arrived
at our encampment. They were on their way to.
Red River, for the purpose of arresting all the
delinquents they could catch, who had been concerned in the recent outrages. We stopped to
breakfast wTith them. While it was preparing, I
asked one of the soldiers, (an Irishman,) how he
liked the mode of travelling in  that country ?
" By J , Sir," he replied,   (i it's awkward
enough.    Here we are cramped up in a bit of
a canoe, put like chayney gods, with our mus-
kets and knapsacks, striving to keep our clothes
and 'coutrements clane. We haven't seen a sign
of Christianity these two or three months ; not a
church, or chapel, or house, or garden; nor even
a horse, or a cow, or a sheep ; nothing during the
entire day; just rocks, rivers, lakes, portages,
waterfalls, and large forests; bears roaring a
tattoo every night, and wolves howling a reveille
every morning. O ! to the devil I bob it!—Give
me India or Spain, with all their hard fighting,
before such an infernal, outlandish, unchristian
Parted from those gentlemen a little after
nine o'clock, and shortly after overtook the brigade of loaded canoes. Passed two lodges of
Sauteus, and encamped late a few miles above
Portage de Pile. Weather during the day excessively sultry.
July 27th. Embarked at day-break. About
^ve a. m. Colonel Dickson, and a gentleman
named Gale, passed us on their route to Red
River. Their journey also was connected with
the investigation ordered by the Governor General. About an hour afterwards me met
Messrs. Simon, M'Gillivray jun., and Roderick
M'Leod, with two canoes, bound for Athabasca:
we remained to breakfast with them, and stopped
a couple of hours.    A smacking breeze during
the greater part of the day gave the men considerable relief from paddling.
Encamped at seven p. m. a few miles below
the Portage des Rats.
July 28th. Passed Rat Portage early. A few
lodges of natives were encamped at it, from
whom we could purchase nothing. On quitting
this portage, we entered Lac du Bois, with tolerably calm weather. We employed the paddle
and sail alternately, until one p. m., when we
arrived at a long and Darrow peninsula, which
stretches a considerable distance into the lake.
A portage was made across this point in a short
time, by which the tedious and circuitous passage round its extremity was avoided. We observed great quantities of wild rice growing here,
which the Canadians called lafolle avoine. Had
a fair wind all the afternoon, and encamped at
half-past seven, within three leagues of the
Grande Trayerse.
July 29th. Observed some faint appearances of
the Aurora Borealis during the night. Set off
at day-break, and at ten a. m. passed the Grande
Traverse with a light breeze. This brought us
to Lac la Pluie River, at the entrance of which
we passed a few natives. During the evening
passed a Mr. Grant, with a few men, who
were returning in a canoe to the fort at Lac la
Pluie, from a provision voyage.    Encamped at
seven p. m.
July 30th. Set off at the usual hour. At two
p. m. met Mr. M'Pherson, with a brigade of
eleven loaded canoes, bound for Athabasca. Not
a voyageur in the whole party, at the period we
met them, could be accused of sobriety. Encamped at dusk.
July 31st. At nine a. m. arrived at the fort
of Lac la Pluie, in which we found a number
of gentlemen, guides, interpreters, and engages;
some outward-bound, and others belonging to
various departments destined for the interior.
Among them was my old esteemed friend, Mr.
La Rocque, whose name frequently occurs in the
eventful scenes of the Columbia, to which place
he was now about returning with a reinforcement
of forty men, principally Iroquois Indians, from
We remained seven days at Lac la Pluie,
waiting the arrival of goods from Fort William,
and making the necessary distribution of men,
&c. for the different trading posts. This place is
a considerable depot of provisions; so that during
our stay we fared sumptuously on cakes, pemmican, tea, coffee, wild fowl, fish, and deer; with a
moderate modicum of rum and shrub. We had
two excellent fiddlers ; and as several of the gen-
 iiff I
H       I
H  I    1   i
■ II
tlemen had wives, we got up three or four balls, in
which the exhilarating amusement of the u light
fantastic toe" was kept up to a late hour in the
morning. We w7alked through no lazy minuets ;
we had no simpering quadrilles; no languishing
half-dying waltzes ; no,—ours was the exercise
of health; the light lively reel, or the rattling
good old-fashioned country dance, in which the
graceful though untutored movements of the
North-West females would have put to the blush
many of the more refined votaries of Terpsichore.
Several lodges of Sotoes, or as the Canadians
spell the word Sauteus, were encamped near the
fort. They were formerly a very powerful tribe;
but the small-pox, war, and rum, have considerably diminished tbeir numbers. They are greatly
addicted to the use of ardent spirits, and make a
point never to commence a barter of their furs
until a suitable quantity of rum be given to
them gratuitously. When they recover from
the intoxication produced by this preliminary
debauch, they proceed to business. A certain
portion of their furs is set apart for a gun, ano_
ther for ammunition, a third for blankets, a fourth
for tomahawks or knives, a fifth for tobacco, a
sixth for the wants of the wife and children, and
then a portion for rum.
I visited the encampment of this party after
they had finished their trade. The men were
gambling and drinking to excess. While joy
sparkled in the eyes of some, others, whose losses
had been great, looked like demons. A dispute
arose between two fine young men respecting
a knife: one gave his antagonist a blow across
the face, upon which the other darted to his
lodge, seized his gun, and taking a deadly aim
shot the aggressor through the body. He was
in the act of drinking rum out of a pint measure,
when he received the fatal bullet. He did not
start, no feature changed, and he walked on, singing a war-song, carrying the rum in his hand,
J until he raised his foot to pass over the threshold
of his lodge, when he fell dead at the door.
A scene of indescribable confusion followed.
Each warrior ran for his gun, dagger, or tomahawk, while the women and children flew towards the fort for protection. Fearful that an
indiscriminate massacre would be the consequence, a number of gentlemen rushed among
them, and with much persuasion, joined to some
force, succeeded in disarming the more violent,
and restoring tranquillity. Compensation was
ultimately made to the relatives of the deceased ;
and so terminated this drunken homicide.
Leave Rfainy Lake—Messrs. M'Gillivray and La Rocque —
Sketch of Messrs. Wentzel and M'Neill—Great falls of
the mountain—Description of Fort William, its inhabi-
tants^ &c,
Thursday, August 7th. At two p. m. took our
departure from Lac la Pluie for Fort William, in
two light canoes, containing nine voyageurs each.
Messrs.. Robert Henry and Alexander M'Tavish
were in one ; and Messrs. Ferdinand Wentzel,
Hector M'Neill, and myself, were in the other.
Mr. La Rocque and party set off at the same
time for the Columbia; and Messrs. Joseph
M'Gillivray and William Henry for Athabasca
and Lesser Slave Lake.
By the new distribution, I was deprived of the
pleasure of my friend M'Tavish's company, which
I much regretted ; however, as we were to proceed together in the same brigade to Canada, the
separation was infinitely less painful than that
which I experienced in parting from my old
friends M'Gillivray and La Rocque.
We had spent many happy days together on
the banks of the distant Columbia. Our studies
and amusements were the same.    We had suf-
fered in common many privations incident to
that dangerous district; and whether in a canoe,
or on horseback; over a hit of backgammon, or
on the midnight watch, there was a community
of feeling that peculiarly endeared us to each
other. I was about re-entering the busy scenes
of civilised life, while they were returning to
encounter all the dangers and hardships attendant
on a trader's occupation ; and the pressure therefore of the parting grasp was rendered doubly
painful by the reflection, that in all human probability we should never meet again.
Those only who knew them as I did, and were
acquainted with their many excellent and social
qualities, " their scorn for wrong, their zeal for
truth," can appreciate the justice of this poor tribute to the manliness of their character, and the
steady sincerity of their friendship.
About an hour after quitting the fort, we made
one portage; and shortly after passed a small
trading-post of Lord Selkirk's.
Encamped about six p. m. on an island in the
August 8th. Embarked at half-past one a, m.
Had a steady breeze all the morning. Made
several portages. Messrs. H. Mackenzie and
M{Lean, of the North-West Company, passed us
on their way to Winepic River, and shortly after
[ a
we met six canoes belonging to the Hudson's-
Bay Company, twenty-five days from Point Meu-
ron, bound to the interior. Passed several
Indian encampments, at which we procured a
quantity of wild rice. This we boiled, and took
in preference to the sturgeon we were furnished
with at the fort, and which had now a very
mauvaise odeur% Encamped alone this evening,
in consequence of Messrs. Henry and M'Tavish
having very good-naturedly gone on ahead, and
left us to manage matters as well as we could.
It was not, however, with my friend M'Tavish's
consent that we w^ere left behind; for I knew
he would have preferred remaining with us, had
his own wishes been consulted; but when any of
the little great men of the North-West obtain
a command, they imagine they have no legitimate
method of showing their temporary superiority,
but by leaving their subordinate officers as far en
arriere as possible.
I derived much pleasure from the conversation
of my two new compagnons de voyage, Messrs.
Wentzel and M'Neill. The former had been
upwards of sixteen years in the Indian country,
principally in the department of Athabasca, and
had obtained a thorough knowledge of the manners, customs, and language of the natives of
that  quarter.    He was  an active  enterprising
trader, but, having no family connexions to
place his claims in the prominent point of view
which they ought to occupy, and being moreover
of an honest unbending disposition, his name was
struck out of the house-list of favourite clerks
intended for proprietors, and he had the vexation to see many young men promoted over his
head, several of whom had never slept a night
with a hungry stomach, or seen a shot fired in
anger. Disgust followed disappointment, and he
was now proceeding to Canada, determined, if
justice were not rendered him by the directors,
to quit the service of the Company for ever.^
M'Neill belonged to a highly respectable family in the north of Ireland, and had at an early
age entered the —\— regiment of foot as an ensign. Owing, however, to a serious quarrel
with his commanding officer, he was obliged to
quit the service; and being too proud to seek
any assistance from his relatives, whom he had
reason to suspect were displeased at his conduct,
he re-entered the army as a private soldier. He
was quickly appointed a serjeant, and behaved
with distinguished bravery throughout the pe-
* This gentleman is the same whose name so frequently
occurs in Captain Franklin's Journal.
1:1 -
Hi! .
ninsular   campaigns,   in   which  he   was  twice
After the battle of the Pyrenees he was promoted to the rank of serjeant-major; and upon
the termination of hostilities in the south of
France, his regiment with others were ordered
from Bourdeaux to Canada. His American services were of short duration. Peace speedily
followed Sir George Prevost's disgraceful retreat from Plattsburg, an^ the battalion to which
McNeill belonged was ordered to be disbanded.
This unwelcome intelligence reached: him at a
period when/ he had every reason to hope, that he
would have been speedily restored to his former
rank. Not wishing to return home, he preferred accepting his discharge in Canada, where
he was shortly after introduced to one of the
agents of the North-West Company, which then
stood in need of a few fighting characters to
make a stand/ against the encroachments of their
M'Neill's face was in itself a letter of recommendation. His countenance was a ruddy
bronze, with a noble nose of the Nassau cut, a
superb pair of full-blown cossack whiskers, and
an interesting tranverse sabre-wound over his
right eye.    Valour was then at a premium, and
M'Neill's character, joined to his warlike visage*
at once secured Mm a handsome engagement.
On his arrival in the interior, an opportunity
quickly offered for trying his hand at his old profession. He was despatched with a few men to
intercept a party of Indians who were loaded
with furs, in order to prevent them falling into
the hands of the Hudson's-Bay Company. He
found, however, that he had been anticipated by
a clerk of the latter establishment. Warm words
took place between them, and a duel was the
consequence. M'Neill drove a ball through his
adversary's hat, and there the affair ended.
Some time after he was engaged in two broadsword encounters, in which he wounded one of
his opponents, and disarmed the other. His fame
soon became established; and wherever he appeared opposition vanished.
A year of inactivity followed his first campaign ; and as5 no fighting reinforcement appeared
among the ranks of the enemy, he became dissatisfied with his situation. A quarrel occurred
between him and the proprietors. He alleged
that he was badly treated, and did not experience
the attention to which he considered himself
justly entitled; while the latter stated that his
unruly conduct was a terrible example of insubordination to all the younger clerks in the estab-
r 2
i I*
lishment; and that in his bearing to his superiors, he showed more of the major, than of the
Without stopping to inquire upon whom the
greater share of blame rested, it is sufficient to
say, that the gentlemen of the interior were
graciously pleased to dispense with his services a
year before the termination of his engagement,
and generously allowed him the full amount of
his salary for the entire period. He was now on
his way to Canada, uncertain as to his future
course of life; but so strongly imbued with a
dishke of the Indian country, that he swore he
would rather carry a halbert all his life, than roll
in a coach and four, obtained by cheating the
poor Indians.
August 9th. Embarked at half-past three
a.m. Made four portages during the day, and
passed a few Sotoes in canoes. Embarked at
eight o'clock in Lac d'Eturgeon* The scenery,
since we left Lac la Pluie, is much more diversified with woods and rising grounds, than below
that establishment. Weather very warm for the
last three days.
August 10th. At eight A. m. made the Portage des Deux Rivieres, and at nine, that of Les
Morts, at which we breakfasted. Arrived at the
Portage des Francais at half-past one p. m., and
owing to its length, and bad pathway, did not
finish it until half-past seven. Encamped, at
dusk, at the entrance of Riviere des Francais.
Had a great deal of thunder and heavy rain during the afternoon.
August 11th. Made the Portage de la Pente
at ten a. m. At noon passed the Portage des
Barrils, and entered Mille Lac with a fair breeze.
At five p. m. passed an uninhabited house, built
last year for a trading post by order of Lord
Selkirk. Encamped, at eight, in a handsome savannah, close to a river which takes its name
from the place (La Savanne.)
August 12th. Started at day break. At ten,
met an old guide, named Joseph Paul, in charge
of a brigade of seven loaded canoes destined for
English River. At eleven, arrived at Savannah
portage, which we did not finish until three p. m.
At five passed the Portage de Milieu ; at which
we met a single canoe heavily laden, destined for
the Red River. At dusk we made the Portage de
la Prairie, and encamped on the shores of another
Lac Froid; a small body of clear water, so called
from its extreme frigidity.
August 13th. Found the air very chilly dur-
ing the night, which some of our Canadian Savans
attributed to the proximity of Lac Froid. A
heavy dew also fell. Embarked at half-past four;
if I'
and at half-past five made the Portage de 1'Eau
Froide, the air round which we found extremely
cold. We continued down a chain of small
rapids, in one of which we were obliged to unload. After this we descended a small river,
with low banks, and a smooth current; in which,
at three p. m., we met Messrs. John George
M'Tavish and J. Thompson, on their way to the
interior. Encamped at seven, at Lac des Chiens,
where we were joined by a Mr. Conolly, a senior
clerk for many years in charge of one of the
principal trading-posts in the interior. We encamped together; and he invited us to his tent,
where we made a sensible impression on the contents of a well-stocked garde-vin. This gentleman left Ireland when a boy, with his family,
who settled in Canada. He had at this period
been seventeen years in the Company's service,
and was to be elected a partner the following
year. He was un veritable bon gargon, and an
Emeralder of the first water.
August 14th. At four a. m. parted from our
worthy host of the tent, when each pursued his
different route. At six, met Mr. Duncan M'Dou-
gall, proceeding to Winepic River in a loaded
canoe. We stopped a couple of hours with him,
and breakfasted together. This gentleman had
been one of the directors of the late Pacific Fur
Company, and had subsequently joined the North-
West. He was one of our party crossing the
mountains ; but at the English River, he set off
in a light canoe with Mr. Bethune for Fort William, from which place he was now returning to
his winter quarters.
Came to the termination of the lake about
eleven o'clock, and finished the Portage des
Chiens at noon. The country about this place
is very handsome, and the view from the rising
grounds about the portage highly picturesque
and diversified. At one, passed another portage,
called Le Petit Chien ; and in the course of the
evening passed several rapids, at six of which we
were obliged to unload and let the canoes down
with the line. Encamped at dusk at the Portage
des Cedres. From Lac des Chiens the country
assumes quite a hilly, and in some places a mountainous, appearance. The timber too, particularly the pine and spruce, becomes much larger,
and nearly approaches the magnitude of the trees
on the Columbia.
August 15th. At five p. m. made the Portage
de l'lle; previous to which we were obliged to
unload at two rapids. At eight, made the Portage Ecarte\; and soon after, a loud and roaring
noise announced our approach to the great falls
of Portage de la Montagne, which we reached a
little before ten o'clock.
This stupendous cataract is second only to
Niagara. It is one hundred and fifty-six feet in
beight, and upwards of two hundred in breadth.
The river, in its advance to the fall, moves
slowly and majestically forward until its course
is interrupted by a huge mass of rough craggy
rocks, over whose dark grey front it rushes with
a tremendous noise resembling distant thunder.
We stopped to breakfast at the foot of the
cataract, the spray from which dashed over us.
It was a melancholy-looking spot. The morning
was dark and cloudy, and not a ray of sunshine
appeared to enliven the dread abyss; owing to
which circumstance, and the banks on each side
being high, rocky, and thickly wooded, we were
deprived of seeing that beautiful phenomenon of
the prismatic rainbow, so often observed at Niagara and other great falls. The scene was one
of sombre grandeur; and, however it might have
been relished by a philosopher, or an embryo
Demosthenes, was well calculated to damp the
animal spirits of the .most vivacious disciple of
Mom us.
For six leagues below this cataract there is a
chain of shallow rapids, down which we had to
pass the canoes with the cod-lines. Encamped
late at the foot of the last rapid, without a mouthful of any substance for dinner or supper; indeed
we had been in a starving state for the last four
days, having had only a scanty meal per diem.
In the course of the day we met a brigade of
loaded canoes, bound for Forts des Prairies, and
another for Lac la Pluie.
August 16th. Embarked at day-break; and
at six passed Point Meuron, one of Lord Selkirk's
establishments, so called from a number of De
Meuron's regiment having been employed in
building it. The situation is handsome; but
the settlement consists of a few straggling huts,
miserably provided with the common necessaries
of life.
At eight o'clock we arrived at Fort William,
as the welcome sound of the breakfast-bell was
summoning the inmates to their morning's repast.
We instantly repaired to the Salle a manger, and
over a bowl of coffee, fresh eggs, excellent hot
cakes, and prime cold venison, quickly forgot our
late privations.
Fort William is the great emporium for the
interior. An extensive assortment of merchandize is annually brought hither from Montreal,
by large canoes, or the Company's vessels on the
lakes, which, in return, bring down the produce
I P.'•*
of the wintering posts to Canada, from whence
it is shipped for England. A number of the
partners and clerks, whose turn of rotation has
not arrived for going to Montreal, assemble here
every summer, and deposit the furs which they
purchase during the winter, when they obtain a
fresh supply of trading goods for the ensuing
seasou. Those on their way to Canada also remain some time previous to their final departure.
In addition to these, one or two of the principal
directors, and several clerks, come up every
spring from Montreal to make the necessary
changes, and superintend the distribution of the
merchandize for the wintering parties. Fort
William may therefore be looked upon as the
metropolitan post of the interior, and its fashionable season generally continues from the latter
end of May to the latter end of August. During this period, good living and festivity predominate ; and the luxuries of the dinner-table
compensate in some degree for the long fasts and
short commons experienced by those who are
stationed in the remote posts. The voyageurs
too enjoy their carnival, and between rum and
baubles the hard-earned wages of years are often
dissipated in a few weeks.
We arrived too late to see Fort William in its
prime.  A great portion of the interior aristocracy
had departed for their winter destinations; and
most of those outward-bound had set off before
our arrival. A small portion of respectability,
however, remained; and during* the two days
that we stopped, our time was passed agreeably
enough.    j||
The following is a list of the company who
assembled at the dinner-table: viz. Messrs. John
M'Donald (le Borgne*), Haldane, Ronald Cameron, James Grant (le Borgne), and Doctor
M'Loughli'n. The above comprised all the
members of the proprietory present; the doctor having two shares in consequence of long
services, and being resident physician at the
Fort. ght       •
Among the clerks were, Captain R. M'Ken-
zie, nearly fifty years of age, twenty-five of which
he had spent in the Indian country ; Mr. Cre-
bassa, also a North-Wester of twenty-five years'
standing, who was now on his way to Canada to
abide his trial, on certain charges preferred
against him by some of Lord Selkirk's agents;
Mr. Wentzel, my travelling companion, of whom
I have already spoken ; Mr. Cummings, thirteen
years in the Company's Service, and presumptive
heir to a partnership; Mr. A lexander M'Tavish,
* So called by the Canadians, owing to the gentleman
haying lost one eye. &;fSj
lr<  ;
from the Columbia, going to Canada from ill
health; Mr. Hector M'Neill, from Athabasca,
quitting the country in consequence of having no
one to fight with. There were also from the
establishment in Montreal, Messrs. Grant,
M'Robb, Cowie, M'Lean, and Robinson; and
at the end of the table a long list of worthies,
consisting of hieroglyphic clerks, interpreters,
and guides, who are looked upon as warrant officers, and at head quarters are permitted to dine
with the mess.
The dining-hall is a noble apartment, and sufficiently capacious to entertain two hundred. A
finely executed bust of the late Simon M'Tavish
is placed in it, with portraits of various proprietors. A full-length likeness of Nelson, together
with a splendid painting of the battle of the Nile,
also decorate the walls, and were presented by
the Hon. William M'Gillivray, to the Company.
At the upper end of the hall there is a very large
map of the Indian country, drawn with great accuracy by Mr. David Thompson, astronomer to
the Company, and comprising all their trading-
posts, from Hudson's Bay to the Pacific Ocean,
and from Lake Superior to Athabasca and Great
Slave Lake.
This immense territory is very little known,
except to those connected with the Company;
I   if
and if it did not interfere with their interests,
the publication of Mr. Thompson's map would
prove a most valuable addition to our geographical knowledge of the interior of that great
The buildings at Fort William consist of a
large house, in which the dining-hall is situated,
and in which the gentleman in charge resides;
the Council-house ; a range of snug buildings for
the accommodation of the people from the interior ; a large counting-house ; the doctor's residence ; extensive stores for the merchandize and
furs; a forge; various workshops, with apartments for the mechanics, a number of whom are
always stationed here. There is also a prison for
refractory voyageurs. The whole is surrounded
by wooden fortifications, flanked by bastions, and
is sufficiently strong to withstand any attack from
the natives. Outside the fort is a ship-yard, in
which the Company's vessels on the lake are
built and repaired. The kitchen-garden is well
stocked, and there are extensive fields of Indian
corn and potatoes. There are also several head
of cattle, with sheep, hogs, poultry, &e., and a
few horses for domestic use.
The country about the fort is low, with a rich
moist soil. The air is damp, owing to frequent
rains, and the constant exhalation from Lake
 i II
Superior. This produces agues; and numbers of
the people who have wintered here, have been
more or less afflicted with that troublesome disorder.
In addition to the persons whose names I have
already mentioned, we also found at Fort William,
Captain Miles M'Donnell, a gentleman connected with Lord Selkirk's establishment, in the
custody of a constable named Fitzpatrick, on
certain charges preferred against him by some
members of the North-West Company, and for
which he was about to be conducted to Canada.
There was also a Mr. Joillette, a notary from
Assomption, who came up as secretary to the
commissioners, Messrs. Coltman and Fletcher;
by the latter of whom he was discharged from
his functions, and was now waiting for a passage
to Montreal. Besides the above, there was a
subaltern's detachment of the 70th foot, and a
number of disbanded soldiers, who had belonged
to de Meuron's regiment, and who were ready
and willing to cut the throats of all persons opposed to the interest of their employers.
Most part of the voyageurs, soldiers, Indians,
half-breeds, &c, were encamped outside the fort
intents, leathern lodges, mat covered huts, or
wigwams. On inquiry, I ascertained that the
aggregate number of the persons in and about
the establishment was composed of natives of
the following countries: viz. England, Ireland,
Scotland, France, Germany, Italy, Denmark,
Sweden, Holland, Switzerland, United States of
America, the Gold Coast of Africa, the Sandwich Islands, Bengal, Canada, with various tribes
of Indians, and a mixed progeny of Creoles, or
half-breeds. What a strange medley!—Here
were assembled, on the shores of this inland sea,
Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Sun-
worshippers, men from all parts of the world,
and whose creeds were " wide as the poles
asunder," united in one common object, and
bowing down before the same idol.^
An observatory (rather a crazy structure)
stands in the court-yard of the fort. From it
the eye takes in an extensive view of flat country,
thickly wooded, with the bold shores of Thunder
Island at a distance, rising abruptly out of Lake
Superior; while immediately around the fort
the scene was enlivened by animating groups of
women, soldiers, voyageurs, and Indians, dancing, singing, drinking, and gambling; in their
features comprising all the shades of the human
species, and in their dress, all the varied hues of
the rainbow.
* We had one East-Indian from Bengal, two Negroes, and
the De Meurons were a mixture of nearly every nation in
Enter Lake Superior—St. Mary's Falls—Sketch of Mr. Johnston—Lake Huron—French River—Lake Nipising—Arrive
on the Ottawa—A Back-woodsman—Chaudiere Falls—
Hull—Longue Sault—Mr. Grant—Laughable mistake—
Mr. M'Donald Le Pr§tre—Mr. M'Gilles—Snyder's Tavern
—Lake of the Two Mountains—La Chine—Arrive at
August 18th. Received our sailing orders and
provisions for our voyage last night; and at
six a. m. this morning took our departure from
Fort William in company with a brigade of loaded
canoes. Messrs. Wentzel, M'Neill, and I travelled in the same canoe. The day was remarkably warm and calm. Our route lay along the
northern shore of Lake Superior, and we encamped at p. m. on a stony beach. The country
appeared to be generally high and rocky. Some
handsome open spots were visible at intervals
along shore; and other parts were thickly
August 19th. This day was also calm, and we
continued on with the paddle until dusk, when
we put ashore in a small bay. The general appearance of the land was rocky, diversified how-
ever by several beautiful situations admirably calculated for settlements.
August 20th. Embarked at day-break. The
shores appeared higher, and were indented with
larger bays than we had yet seen. We had several slight showers. About noon it came on
to blow rather fresh, and at two p. m. we were
obliged to put ashore from the violence of the
gale, which kept us stationary the remainder of
the day.
August 21st.    Started at three a. m. j At six
a hard breeze sprung up, accompanied by heavy
rain; and as the lowering appearance of the clouds;
portended no favourable change, we put ashore
at ten o'clock at one of the Company's trading-
posts, called Le Pic.    The house is handsomely
situated on the shores of a small bay.    A proprietor was the charge.    He was on the beach
when we approached in shore; and on seeing us
disembark, he turned on his heel and retreated
into  the  fort.     This movement forboded  any
thing but a hospitable reception ; and we therefore pitched our tent, and prepared for breakfast*
As Wentzel had formerly known him, he paid
him a visit; but M'Neill and I preferred remaining in the tent, from which no friendly invitation
offered to dislodge us.
Between one and two p. m. the rain ceased,
VOL.   II. B. S
and enabled us to quit the dominions of the surly
landlord of the Pic. A stiff breeze wafted us on
rapidly the remainder of the day, and we encamped late in a small bay. After leaving the
Pic the shores appeared quite rocky, with little
timber, and the interior mountainous.
August 22nd. Had a strong breeze all day,
which at half-past four p. m. brought us to the
River de la Chienne, close to the great bay of
Michipicoten, to cross which in stormy weather
is rather hazardous. We therefore encamped at
the river, where we remained all night. During
the day we passed several islands, which, like the
northern shore of the lake, are rocky; they, are
also thinly wooded, and, as the voyageurs told
me, possess a very unproductive soil.
August 23rd. Rose at three ; but the threatening aspect of the clouds deterred us from embarking until half-past four a. m., when we commenced crossing the bay, or as the voyageurs
called it, the Grande Traverse de Michipicoten.
We made use of the paddle and the sail by turns,
and finished the traverse in five hours. At noon
arrived at a point called Gargue en trois, from
which a strong breeze brought us, at half-past
four, to Montreal island, on which we encamped.
The northern coast more rocky and mountainous
than yesterday.        f|ififl
August 24th. Embarked at four, in calm weather, which about seven increased to a breeze, that
brought us on rapidly till tein^ when it obliged
us to land at Point Mamas. Here we overtook
Mr. Fletcher, a barrister, and superinj^ejadent of
the police at Quebec. This gentleman had been
appointed, by the Governor-General, joint commissioner with Mr. Coltman, to inquire into the
causes of the various affrays between the two
Companies, and was now on his way to Canada
with the result of his mission. We remained
wind-bound at this place until three p. m., when,
the gale moderating, we continued on in company with Mr. Fletcher. Encamped at dusk at
the opening of the bay of Batchiwina, one of the
most extensive inlets on the northern shores of
Lake Superior. Mr. Fletcher invited us to hjs;
tent, which was plentifully stocked with toutes
fes botnnes choses calculated to render travelling
in such a country vejy agreeable; and as our Fort
William supply of luxuries was rather in a consumptive state, this gentleman in the kindest
manner helped us most liberaljy from his store.
From Point Mamas to this place the shore is
rather low, and much less rugged than any part
we had hitherto seen.
August 25th. Embarked at day-break with
a fair breeze,   and made? the traverse  of the
s 2
im\     t a
Batchiwina without using a paddle.* At one
p. m. doubled a cape called by the Canadians
Le Gros Cap, at which place the lake suddenly
narrows to little better than a mile in breadth.
The country on both sides is low and well
At five p. m. arrived at St. Mary's Falls, or, as
the Canadians name the place, Le Saut de Sainte
Marie, at which Lake Superior terminates, and
discharges its waters into Lake Huron. The
North-West Company had extensive stores at
this place, of which a Mr. Kennedy had charge.
Mr. Fletcher stopped with us at the Company's
house, where we had an excellent dinner of fish,
wild fowl, and deer.
The southern side of St. Mary's forms part of
the territory of the United States; the northern
belongs to Great Britain. On the American side
there are several settlements, in consequence of
which the North-Westers regard this place as the
commencement of civilization; We crossed over
in the evening in company with Mr. Fletcher,
from the stern of whose canoe a British jack was
* This is a dangerous traverse. The year before, as Mr.
Kenneth Mackenzie and fourteen men were crossing it in a
gale of wind under heavy sail, their canoe upset, and that
gentleman and ten of the voyageurs were unfortunately
-flying. On landing, we were received in the
kindest manner by Mr. Johnston, the principal
inhabitant of the place, who politely invited us
to his house, where we spent a few hours. He
returned with us to the Company's establishment,
and the night was far advanced before we sepa^
August 26th. In consequence of the canoes
requiring some repairs, we remained at St. Mary's
Falls this day, which we passed in the most
agreeable manner at the residence of Mr. Johnston.
The history of this gentleman is remarkable.
He was a member of a highly respectable family
in the county Antrim, and in early life moved
in the most fashionable circles in Ireland. A.
circumstance, however, which blasted his early
hopes of happiness, induced him to abandon his
native country, and about twenty-eight years
before this period he arrived in America. After
wandering for some time about the continent, he
made his way to St. Mary's Falls, where he shortly
became a great favourite with the Indians, and
entered extensively into the fur trade. The chief
had only one child, a daughter. She was a beautiful and interesting girl, and, although sought for
as a wife by many of the youthful warriors, she
declined all their offers.    Her father was old and
11*1 f
I   II!
infirm, and wished her to marry before his
death; but still his affection for his daughter was
so great, that he would not exercise his parental
authority in compelling her to choose. It soon,
however, became apparent that Mr. Johnston
was the object of her choice. For some time
previous, as he told me himself, he began to experience the truth of St. Pierre's opinion, that
" man without woman, and woman without
man, are imperfect beings in the order of nature." On learning, therefore, that he had
found favour in the sight of this youthful Indkm,
he at once came to the resolution of rendering
both himself and her perfect. Her father consented, and they were married according to the
rites and ceremonies of the tribe. Death shortly
lifter deprived the old man of his command ; and
Mr. Johnston, whose wisdom and courage were
highly admired by the Indians, wras unanimously
elected his successor.
Some years after his union with the chiePs
daughter, an extensive property fell to him in the
north of Ireland, to which place he repaired in
order to take possession. While there, offers of
a tempting nature were made to induce him to
reside in the country of his nativity, but his
fealty to the I Lady of the lake" could not be
shaken;   and  the moment he had finished his
business he hastened back to St. Mary's. His
family consisted of two sons and two daughters,
and a Miss Campbell, an interesting girl, whose
father had a few years before been shot in a duel
by a Mr. Crawford. One son was employed in
a public department in Canada, and the other
was an officer in a local corps. The mother
received us in a friendly manner at the door, but
did not join us at the breakfast or dinner table.
Mr. Johnston has extensive plantations of
corn, potatoes, &c., with a beautifully arranged
and well-stocked fruit and flower garden. During the late short war with America, he induced
one thousand Indian warriors (of whom he took
the command) to join the British forces, and
rendered important services while so employed.
He suffered severely for his loyalty ; for, during his absence with the army, a predatory party
of Americans attacked his place in the hope of
obtaining a large quantity of valuable furs, which
they were informed he had in his stores, but
which a short time before his departure he had
fortunately removed. Disappointed in their
hopes of plunder, they burned his house, out-
offices, &c., destroyed the greater part of his
valuable stock, and carried away every portable
article they could find.*    At the period, there-
* I met Mr. Johnston a few years afterwards in England;
fore, of our visit the buildings were quite new,
and  were  constructed with much  taste.    The
;furniture was elegant, and the library select and
Mr. Johnston. possessed a highly cultivated
mind, much improved by extensive reading. He
had made many excursions round the shores of
Lake Superior, and along the banks of its tributary streams, in which scientific researches imparted a pleasing variety to the business of an
Indian trader. His collections of specimens
were varied and well selected; and if the result
of his inquiries be published, they will, I have
no doubt, prove a valuable addition to our geo
logical knowledge of interior America.
Mr. Johnston was an enthusiastic admirer of
Indian manners and customs; and if a word
were uttered condemnatory of their morals, he
poured forth a torrent of eloquent, but vituperative satire against the fashionable follies of the
civilised world; which, as it was felt he spoke
jure uxoris, if it failed to establish the superior
morality of Indian manners, silenced at least all
Two retired traders, named Nolin and Erman-
and was happy to learn that he succeeded in obtaining from
Government, compensation for the losses he sustained on the
above occasion.
tinger, also resided on the same side with Mr.
Johnston, a short distance below his house.
They had Indian wives, and large families, and
appeared to be in comfortable circumstances.
Mr. Johnston has plenty of cattle, hogs, sheep,
domestic fowl, &c.; and has also a very good
windmill close to his dwelling-house. Fish is
found in great abundance, particularly trout.
They are of enormous size—sixty pounds is not
uncommon ; and Mr. Johnston assured me he saw
one caught, in Lake Superior, which weighed
ninety pounds!
He treated us to an excellent dinner, fine
wine, and a few tumblers of Irish mountain dew,
which had never seen the face of an exciseman.
We left Mr. Johnston's at dusk; but he crossed
over with us, and we spent together another
night of social and intellectual enjoyment.
August 27th. Enbarked at seven p. m., and
bid adieu to the worthy Hibernian chieftain of
St. Mary's. Entered Lake Huron with a stiff'
breeze, which kept up during the greater part
of the day, with rain at intervals. We were
obliged to land at five p. m., owing to the increasing violence of the gale. Passed a number
of islands, for every one of which the Canadians
bave peculiar names. The part of the lake
through whicb we passed this day was rather
narrow, the shores on each side being visible.
Country low, and thickly wooded.
Ausust 28th. Left our encampment at daybreak with a fair wind, shortly after which the
lake suddenly widens, and we quickly lost sight
of the southern shore. At noon passed the traverse opposite Michillimackana, and at two
passed the River de Tresallons. Encamped late
on an island. Several smart showers during the
day.    Country low and woody.
August 29th. Set off at five a. m. Passed a
number of islands during the day. They were
generally rocky, and covered with pine, birch,
dwarf oak, and immense quantities of the Indian
weed called Sacacommis. Encamped at six p. m.
on an island, in company with a brigade of loaded
canoes, under the charge of a guide named Guil-
laume d'Eau. Weather excessively sultry, with
slight rain.
August 30th. Started at four a. m. Passed
nearly as many islands as yesterday, and much of
the same appearance. The shore of the main
land still low and rocky, with a few handsome
spots.. Sultry weather and light breezes. Encamped on an island at seven p. m.
August 31st. Embarked at four. Charming
weather all day. Some of the islands we passed
were rather long and fertile.    The north shore
of the lake still low, but during the day we observed a few ridges of rather high hills some distance in the interior. Encamped at half-past five
at the entrance of Riviere des Francais; at which
place we quitted Lake Huron, on our way to
the Ottawa. The country about the mouth of
the river is rather low and swampy.
September 1st. At half-past four a. m. commenced ascending the Riviere des Francais; and
at seven passed a rapid called La Petite Faucille,
at which we* were obliged to carry the greater
part of the lading. At half-past three p. m.
came to a small cascade a few feet perpendicular,
called the Portage de Recollet, previous to which
we passed several small rapids. The Canadians
say this portage obtained its present name in consequence of a Franciscan friar having made his
way to it as a missionary, for the purpose of converting the Indians, during the period that the
French had possession of Canada. K-'He lived to
an old age, and during his last illness was attended by the natives; who, after his death, deposited
his remains in a grave behind his solitary hut.
During the remainder of the day the river was
uninterrupted by any rapids; and we encamped,
at six p. m., close to a few lodges of Indians.
Weather very sultry all day.
September 2nd.   Embarked at half-past three.
 -Mi-- '       '   '
Passed several small rapids in the morning. At
eight made the Portage de Parisien, and at eleven passed the three discharges of La Grande
Faucille, Les Pins, and Portage des Pins, all
short. The banks of the river thickly wooded,
with a rocky soil. At four p. m. made the Portage de Chaudiere, at the head of the river, where
it takes its rise from Lake Nipising. Encamped
at five, a short distance in the lake. Passed a
free trader named La Ronde, on his way to Montreal, in a canoe with fourteen packs of beaver,
and nearly as many children.
September 3rd. Started at two A. m., with
calm weather, which continued until we got
about half-way over the Grand Traverse, when
we were struck by a hard squall, which nearly
Ailed our canoes. At ten a. m. arrived at a snug
house belonging to Mr. La Ronde's son, at which
we breakfasted. Here we left Lake Nipising,
and entered a small stream which falls into it,
and which is called La Petite Riviere. Its banks
are low, with a rich soil, and well wooded.
About two miles up the river made rather a long
portage called La Vase, above which a dam has
been constructed, for the purpose of keeping
.some water in the channel, which at this place is
little better than a ditch. We floated the canoes
through this canal about two miles,  when we
were compelled to stop and make another pretty
long portage, named the Middle Vase, at the end
of which we encamped.
September 4th. Rose at five a. m., after suffering the most dreadful torments all night from
the combined attacks of the musquitoes and sandflies, which insinuated themselves through the
smallest aperture of the tent, and fastened their
infernal fangs on every part of our bodies, the
neck, cheeks, and forehead in particular. At
nine a. m. made another portage, called the Last
Vase. It is a mile and a half in length, full of
fine trees, with an excellent road, and a rich
black soil. From the Middle Vase to this there
is a narrow communication by water, sufficiently
large to float a canoe, and no more. Remained
encamped at the end of the portage all day in
consequence of heavy rain, and the canoes wanting repairs.
September 5th. Embarked at half-past four
a. m., and crossed a small lake about four hundred yards wide, at the end of which we made
'the Decharge de Sable. From this we had a
clear navigation of four leagues, which brought
us to the Decharge de la Tortue. At half-past
ten, made a portage called Mauvaise de la Mu-
sique, the road of which is extremely awkward
and dangerous.   A few years before, a man while
1  It
carrying a canoe fell against a large rock, by which
his head was completely severed from his body.
His grave is in the middle of the pathway. At
half-past twelve, made the portage des Pins de la
Musique; and at half-past four made another portage called Les Talons, the road in which is bad
and rocky, and we were obliged to repair the
canoes after crossing it. Within a few minutes
of six, made the Decharge de la Carpe ; and at
half-past seven, passed another decharge named
La Prairie, at the end of which we encamped.
The banks of this: river are generally high,
rocky, and thickly wooded with pine, ash, beech,
and poplar. The stream itself is narrow, and,
except where it is interrupted by cascades or
rapids, the current moves on very sluggishly.
The reflection of the dark foliage of the trees
gives the place a gloomy appearance, which is unenlivened by the sight of game, or the warbling
of a single bird.
September 6th. Remained until half-past six
repairing the canoes, after which we embarked.
At nine arrived at a pretty high fall, called the
Portage des Paresseux, the view from which is
highly picturesque. At half-past ten, passed a
small decharge, called Les Epingles, and at noon
made the Decharge des Grosses Roches. At
two, passed the Decharge du Campion; at three
the Decharge des Roses; and at seven, the
Portage du Plein Champ, at the end of which we
encamped. The river this day appeared a little
wider, but the general aspect of the country did
not differ from that described yesterday:
September 7th. Embarked at six a. m. ; passed
a few rapids, and at seven arrived at the terminar
lion of the river where it falls into the Ottawa,
called by the Canadians La Grande Riviere. Remained here the rest of the day, for the loaded
canoes behind. A range of high hills are visible
on the north side of the Ottawa, which extend
down to the Labrador coast.
September 8th. Mr. Fletcher took the sun's
altitude at noon, and determined this place to be
in latitude 46° 19' N. exactly the same as the
mouth of the Columbia; and the longitude about
80° West. Did not embark until four p. m.
Passed two rapids, in one of which we partly
unloaded, and encamped at five to wait for the
canoes. The banks of the Ottawa, as Jar as we
have proceeded, are high, and the soil gravelly,
and the wood principally pine and birch. Had
very fine weather all day.
September 9th. Set off at half-past five a. m.
Unloaded part of our packages at Les Batteries
de Matawan and L'Eveillee; and took out all our
loading at the Trou and Les Deux Rivieres, at
the foot of which latter place we encamped.
These are all large rapids, and the two latter are
dangerous. During the day we passed some very
fine low bottoms, admirably adapted for building on, and completely sheltered by the hills in
their rear. Wood and soil same as yesterday,
and the current of the river generally rapid.
September 10th. It rained hard all night.
Remained until eight a. m. repairing the canoes.
At half-past ten arrived at the great rapid called
Le Rocher Capitaine, at which we were obliged
to unload, and carry the goods by a long portage. Encamped, at five, at a handsome spot
called the Pointe aux Chenes, from the great
quantity of oak trees growing on it. It is one
of the prettiest situations I have ever seen for a
. September 11th. Embarked at five a. m., in a
thick fog. At seven arrived at a dangerous rapid
called the Joachim, at which we were obliged to
unload and carry the canoes and packs over a
very bad portage, which we finished at half-past
eight. About an hour after came to another equally
dangerous rapid called the Second Joachim, where
we also unloaded, and finished the portage at a
quarter-past eleven. Here we breakfasted, and
stopped to gum and repair the canoes. We
walked between the two portages, and passed a
I Iii i
small inland lake about a furlong in breadth.
Continued on at one p. m., and had no farther
obstructions in the river during the day. Encamped at seven in a pretty little bay. The banks
pf the Ottawa this day appeared to be well supplied with excellent pine, birch, and other trees.:
The oak had a dwarfish appearance, and very
little underwood was visible; a circumstance
which must materially facilitate the location of
new settlers.
September 12th. Embarked at half-past two
a. m. At seven passed a rapid called the Culbute,
at which we partly unloaded. Within a few
minutes of nine passed another, called Les Allu-
mettes, where also we were obliged to carry part
of our lading. At two p. m. arrived at a trading-
post called Fort Coulonge, in charge of a worthy
substantial old soul, called, from his age and
weight, Alderman Godin. f He gave us a repast
pf the best he had, which was no great things I
but as he was unable to supply us with any provisions for the use of the men, we took our leave
of him at sun-set, and drove down the current all
night, which, being free from rapids, exposed us
to no great danger. The poor voyageurs, who
were in a starving condition, kept up les chansons
a I'aviron until day-break, to divert their hunger.
September 13th. At six a. m. arrived at the
vol. ii. •r
rapid of the Grand Calumet, where we had to
make a portage of our canoes and baggage, which
was not completed until a quarter past eleven.
This portage is very long, but the pathway is excellent. At twelve passed a rapid called Tergir,
at which we partly unloaded; and in less than
an hour afterwards came to the Portage de la
Montagne, which we finished at half-past one.
Road excellent. Some time after we shot down
a very dangerous rapid called Du Sable, without
unloading. Our canoes touched the rocks several
times, and sustained considerable injury. At
half-past four made Portage du Fort, rather
short; and at six encamped at the entrance of
Lac des Chats. We walked several miles on
each bank during the day, and observed the predominant timber to be stately pine, and very
fine cedar.
September 14th. The Ottawa here forms a lake,
which the Canadians, as I have already mentioned,
called Lac des Chats, but why I could not learn.
The shores of the lake are rather low, and the
trees much smaller than those higher up. We
embarked at four a. m., and crossed the lake at
half-past ten; after which we entered a number of
dangerousand intricate channels formed by several
rocky islands, through which we had the greatest
difficulty in passing, from a combination of rocks,
snags, &c. On extricating ourselves from this
labyrinth, we arrived at Portage des Chats, which
we passed at noon. At the end of this portage
we found a Mr. Hodgeson settled, who had formerly been a clerk in the service of the Hudson's-
Bay Company. The only refreshment he could
afford to our half-starved men, was a meal of potatoes and butter. Finding nothing very attractive about this solitary settlement, we lost no
time in resuming our journey.
Encountered no other rapids during the day,
and at nine p. m. arrived at the house of an American back-woodsman, who with his family had
retired to rest. It was a miserable smoky dwelling, and it was no easy task to rouse them from
a loft in which their dormitory was situated. The
master of the family at length made his appearance, which was highly unprepossessing. On his
head he wore an old bear-skin cap, and over his
shoulders was thrown a kind of half-worn deerskin covering. He was upwards of six feet in
height, with square shoulders, piercing grey eyes,
large bushy whiskers, asmoke-dried countenance,
and a beard which for months had not felt a
The salutation of this uncouth savage gave- us
no favourable idea of his hospitality. On opening  the door he roared out in  a sharp nasal
t 2
I j
I    r s
accent, || D — n and b—t ye, what do ye want ?
Why do ye make sich a d—n noise at this hour
of the night, ye d—d French rascals ?"
|| We are hungry, and want something to eat."
(e I have none to give,—so be off."
cc But we will pay you for it in hard dollars."*
" B—t me if I care,—I have nothing,—so don't
trouble me any more."
The Canadians however having assured us that
he was generally well supplied with provisions, we
told him we should forthwith institute a search,
and take by force that which he refused for money.
This threat induced the boor to dislodge from a
large cupboard, some cold meat, dried fish, and
Indian corn, which with a mess of potatoes
served to blunt the keen edge of our appetite for
the night.
September 15th. Started at day-break. At
half-past seven passed a large log-house occupied
by several Americans, from whom the men obtained corn and fish enough for a meal. At half-
past nine arrived at Portage des Ctoenes, where
we obtained an excellent breakfast at two shillings
ahead in the house of Mr. M'Collum, a native
of Prince Edward's Island, from which place he
* M'Neill, Wentzel and T obtained, a couple of days before,
sixty dollars from Mr. Fletcher, who had gone on ahead for
had lately removed to the banks of the Ottawa,
where he set up a small tavern, the first 1 had seen
for six years.
A short distance below this portage the navigation is interrupted by the great falls of La Chau-
diere, at which the village of Hull is situated* We
walked thither from M'Collum's. This settlement
appeared to be in a thriving condition, and, under
the superintendence of its enterprising proprietor
Mr. Wright, bids fair to be a place of considerable,
importance. We observed a few comfortable
houses ; and his shop, the only one in the village
of any respectability, was tastefully ornamented
by a handsome steeple. No provisions could be
obtained for love or money, and, with the exception of some bad rum, our men could procure no
refreshment of any description. The crops promised to be very abundant, but a premature frost
had in a great degree injured them. The potatoes
were very large, but quite moist, which, some of
the inhabitants told me, is their general characteristic both on the banks of the St. Lawrence and
the Ottawa. The soil near the shore is rocky and
barren, but a short distance in the interior it is
rich and highly productive. Rafting is the prin^
cipal business of the settlers ; and white oak, red
and white pine, the chief timber sent downwards,
Notwithstanding   the  immense   distance  these
rafts have to descend, and the number of hands
employed in hewing the timber, the business is
tolerably profitable.
Twenty-two families of emigrants, chiefly-Irish
and Scotch, had reached Hull a short time previous
to our arrival. They were stationed in a range of
small miserable huts, and appeared to be in a state
of great destitution. The portion of land which
each expected had not been yet allocated, and the
poor creatures complained with apparent justice
of the gross want of attention on the part of those
whose duty it was to superintend their location,
A few lodges of Indians were also here. The
men assisted our voyageurs in carrying the packs
across the portage; and their squaws, who were
poor and dirty, made certain advances, which, to
judge by their amatory glances, some of the
Canadians perfectly understood without any lin*
gual explanation.
The navigation of the Ottawa, at this place, is
obstructed by a line of bold, dark-looking rocks,
which stretch across the river, and over which the
descending torrent, after rushing with headlong
fury, and forming a beautifully extended prismatic curtain, falls into a foaming cauldron, the
frightful ebullition of which requires no small
degree of nerve to survey with composure.
We remained this evening at Hull, and but
for the hospitable attention we received from a
Mr. Downes, who was in the employment of Mr.
Wright, we should not have imagined ourselves
within the precincts of civilisation.
September 16th. It.rained hard during the
morning, which delayed our departure until nine
o'clock. Passed a number of poor straggling
huts some distance below Hull, inhabited by some
of the newly arrived settlers. At eleven p. m.
passed the River Rideau, which falls into the
Ottawa over a high perpendicular rock, and forms
a beautiful and picturesque cascade. This river,
I understand, runs through a fruitful district,
which is thickly settled, chiefly by Scotch emi-*
grants. A few miles lower down passed another
stream called La Riviere Blanche, near the mouth
of which there is a thriving village. During the
day we observed several farms thinly scattered
along the banks, the occupants of which were
very reluctant in parting with any of their provisions. Had a smooth steady current all day,
uninterrupted by rapids. The appearance of the
country was low, and tolerably well wooded; but
the Canadians say, that in high water, some of the
flat bottoms are inundated. At nine p. m. put
ashore at a farm-house, where we procured a
little addition to our scanty supply for supper.
As the weather was fine, and the navigation freer
from danger, we re-embarked at eleven p. m.,
and drove gently down the current all night.
September 17th. At half past eight a. m. we
arrived at the great rapid called Le Long Sault,
the navigation of which is so dangerous, that
guides reside at the place for the special purpose
of conducting the canoes through it. While we
were waiting for our pilot, we asked one of the
habitans where we could obtain a good breakfast ?
He pointed to a handsome house on an eminence
above the rapid, and merely said " la /" A few
seconds brought us to the door, which was opened
by a ruddy blue-eyed damsel, who conducted us
to the parlour. We told her we wished to see
her master or mistress immediately, upon which
she curtsied obedience and withdrew.
From the windows of this apartment we had an
extensive and picturesque view of bills, forests,
corn-fields, farm-houses, and gardens; while close
to the foot of the hill the majestic Ottawa rolled
its turbulent waters over a mass of large detached
rocks upwards of two miles in extent. The parlour
itself was the beau ideal of elegance and comfort.
The breakfast-table was partly laid, and a polished
copper tea-kettle simpered most harmoniously on
a bright brass footman, which was suspended
Irom.the shining bars of a Rumford grate.
While we were indulging by anticipation in the
pleasures of a substantial d^jeitne, the door opened,
and a female en deshabille, of prepossessing appearance, entered. A large bunch of keys in her
hand announced her domestic supremacy. She
saluted us in the most cordial and friendly manner,
and begged to know if we had come from the interior? Having replied in the affirmative, she
*'You are Nor-Westers I presume, gentlemen ?"
ff Yes, Madam," said Wentzel, "and have been
travelling all night in search of a breakfast, which
one of the habitans told us wTe could get here."
<e You shall have the best the house affords."
was the reply.
% Hot rolls? "—" Yes." ||
§ Fresh eggs ?*'—§ Most decidedly."
" A broiled chop ?»—" I'll try."
§f And do you hear me, landlady," said M'Neill,
as she was quitting the room, " This is a sharp
morning,—-could we get a whet out of Boniface's
own bottle ?" To this a favourable answer was
also returned, and away she flew to comply with
our various requisitions* jftf
In a few minutes Marguerite made her appearance, carrying a large tray furnished with the hot
rolls, fresh eggs, broiled chops, and the whet.
She was followed by her mistress, who was acr
!> 1
111 i
companied by a middle-aged gentleman in his
"You are welcome, gentlemen," said he ; jj) Ha!
my dear Wentzel, is this you ? I'm delighted to
see you.    How did you find me out ?"
"Find you out," replied Wentzel, "Why,
my dear Grant, can this be your house ?" " Certainly," said he; r and permit me to introduce
you, gentlemen, to Mrs. Grant."
We all began to stammer out excuses for our
apparent rudeness, and explained the trick which
the Tony Lumpkin of the village had played on
us. Mrs. Grant laughed heartily at our confusion,
and graciously sealed our pardon by pledging us
in a flowing bowl of refreshing Hyson.
Mr. Grant had been formerly a member of the
North-West Company, and while in the Indian
country, had beenassociatedwitb Wentzel in many
hazardous excursions. In short, they were old
friends, and were naturally overjoyed at their
unexpected meeting, the pleasure of which was
much heightened by the ludicrous mistake that
led to it. At 11 o'clock we took leave of our
worthy host and his amiable lady; and in less
than two hours arrived at the foot of Le Long Sault,
which is one of the longest and most dangerous
rapids in the interior. Here we met another retired
partner of the North-West Company, Mr. John
M'Donald, who insisted on our visiting his house.
An excellent dinner was quickly prepared, during
the demolition of which we cracked half a dozen
of Mr. Mac's prime Madeira. This gentleman
was a strict Roman Catholic, and, during his residence in the Indian country, was distinguished by
the Canadians from others of the same name by
the title of Le Pretre (Priest), owing to the rigid
manner in which he made his men adhere to the
various fasts of the Catholic church; a proof of
orthodoxy with which the great majority of them
would have gladly dispensed. From this circumstance, joined to his general character among the
voyageurs, I was led to expect in Mr. M'Donald
a second St. Francis; but in lieu of the austere
monk, we saw in the retired trader a cheerful,
healthy, and contented old man—a proof, if any
were wanting, that true piety and social gaiety
are not incompatible.
At five p. m. we took our leave of the hospitable
Pretre, who anxiously pressed us to spend the
night at his house; an invitation which our arrangements precluded us from accepting. Passed
several handsome farms during the evening; and
after night-fall had set*in, we arrived at the entrance of Riviere a la Graisse, on the banks of
which a long straggling village is situated. Having seen the men properly accommodated, we left
 i:      I   '
IS   f
them at the mouth of the river, and proceeded
towards the village, in which, after some inquiry,
I found an old Columbian friend, named Donald
M'Gillis, comfortably settled. He quickly collected a few rustic bon vivans to greet our arrival,
and the night was far advanced in festive mirth
before our good-natured host permitted us to throw
our jaded bodies on a bed.
Sept. 18th. We did not rise till ten this morning, at which time some of the men insisted on
awakening us. They told us that two of the
loaded canoes which stopped to repair below the
Sault the evening before, had not yet arrived. We
therefore told them to wait a couple of hours
longer, at the expiration of which, if they did not
arrive, we should proceed. Took a late breakfa t,,
shortly after which we bade farewell to my friend
M'Gillis, who accompanied us to the beach. Seeing
no appearance of the two canoes, we ordered our
men to make little use of the paddles; and as the
day was remarkably fine, after descending a few
miles, Wentzel, McNeill, and I landed, and proceeded seven or eight miles on a good road running parallel with the river, until we arrived at
an excellent tavern kept by a curious and eccentric person named Snyder, a German by birth,
at which place we determined to pass the night.
We therefore sent orders to the canoes to encamp
before the tavern; arid, having inquired what we
could obtain for dinner, were presented with a bill
of fare that would not have derogated from the
credit of the first inn in England. It was not,
however, like many of those documents—all show
and no substance: the German put nothing on
paper, that he was not prepared to put on the
table; and in less than an hour after our orders
were given, the dinner was served up in a style
of neatness and even elegance which I have seldom seen surpassed in any house of public entertainment.
After dinner we invited the old man to join us.
He was a most entertaining companion. Fame
had celebrated him as a first-rate narrator of
anecdotes, and the report we found was not exaggerated. His conversation was a complete
antidote to ennui, and effectually checked any
propensities we might have had to sleep. The
North-Westers, he said, were the founders of
his fortune I they always stopped at his house
in their journeys to and from the interior, and, no
matter how other customers might fare, a Nor-
Wester should always have the best bed and bottle
in his house. | He kept his word,—but we could
not keep our beds. Five months continued sleeping on the hard ground had so vitiated our taste
for comfort, that we in vain endeavoured to com-
pose ourselves to rest; and, after suffering the
torments of luxury for a-couple of hours, were
obliged to order the beds to be removed, after
which we slept tolerably well on the mat-
6// trhsses.
September 19th. Partook of an early breakfast
with the worthy old Rhinelander, immediately
after which we embarked. Some distance below
Snyder's we entered the Lake of the Two Mountains, which is formed by the extension of the
Ottawa. Stopped at a village on the western
shore of the lake, from which it derives its name.
The principal inhabitants of this place are Iroquois
Indians, a small remnant of that once powerful
tribe. They are all Roman Catholics, and have
a plain neat church. Here I also found another
old friend from the Columbia, Mr. Pillet, with
whom we stopped a couple of hours. He had
a snug farm, a comfortable house, a handsome
wife, and two pretty children, and altogether appeared to be in happy circumstances.
The two canoes which had been so long in the
rear overtook us here, and we continued on together the remainder of the day. On passing the
village of St. Anne's we were hailed by Mr.
Daniel M'Kenzie, one of the senior proprietors of
the North-West Company, for whom I had some
letters. We therefore put ashore, and found with
him Messes. Cameron and Sayers, against whom
certain charges had been preferred by some members of the Hudson's-Bay Company, relative to
the outrages in the interior, the result of which it
was deemed prudent they should abide at this
retired village. Remained a few hours with those
gentlemen, with whom we took a luncheon; after
which we resumed our voyage.
The country from Riviere a la Graisse to Snyder's, and from thence to St. Anne's, is highly
cultivated, well stocked with farms and thriving
villages, and is rich in scenery of the most beautiful and romantic description.
At four p. m. arrived at the termination of the
Ottawa, where it forms a junction with the Great
St. Lawrence, down which we continued until
six, when we arrived at the village of La Chine,
at which place canoe-voyaging terminates with
the parties homeward-bound, and commences
with those destined for the interior.
After some delay we procured a caleche sufficiently large to hold Wentzel, M'Neill, and myself. We next purchased, at a neighbouring
auberge, a keg of rum, which we presented as a
valedictory allowance to our voyageurs, and,
having shook each man cordially by the hand,
drove off amidst their benedictions, for Montreal,
in which city we arrived at half past nine p. m.
at Clamp's Coffee-House in Capital Street, after
a journey of five months and three days from the
Pacific Ocean.
Sketches of the Canadian Voyageurs—Anecdote of La Liberie
—The Freemen, or Trappers—The Half-breeds—Anecdote
—Retired Partners—Josephine—Franchise—Amusing Letter—Iroquois Indians—Anecdote.
There are three descriptions of men in the Company's employment, namely:—the white Canadians, the Half-breeds, and the Iroquois Indians.
A few words respecting each class may not be
uninteresting to the general reader.    The first
are the descendants of the original French settlers.
They are generally engaged for five years ; and,
at the period I speak of, the foreman and steersman of each canoe received one thousand livres
per annum, the middlemen six hundred, with an
equipment, which means a suit of clothes and a
large carrot of tobacco annually.    The number
of men in each canoe varies, according to its size,
from six to ten.   The strongest and most expert
are employed in the bow and stern; for upon
their skilful management in conducting the vessel
through the dangerous rapids, the safety of the
crew chiefly depends.   Their rations at first view
may appear enormous.     Each man is allowed
VOL. II. u
eight pounds of solid meat per diem, such as buffalo, deer, horse, &c, and ten pounds if there be
bone in it. In the autumnal months, in lieu of
meat, each man receives two large geese, or four
ducks. They are supplied with fish in the same
proportion. It must, however, be recollected
that these rations are unaccompanied by bread,
biscuit, potatoes, or, in fact, by vegetables of any
description. In some of our journeys up the
Columbia tfiey were allowed pork and rice; and
on particular occasions, such as wet weather, or
making a long portage, they received a glass of
At Christmas and New-year they are served
out with flour to make cakes or puddings, and
each man receives half a pint of rum. This they
call a regale, and they are particularly grateful
for it.
With no rent to pay, or provisions to purchase,
it may be thought these men save the greater part
of their wages. Such, however, is not the fact.
There is not perhaps in the world a more thoughtless or improvident race of people than the Canadian voyageurs. Every article of extra clothing
or finery which they want must be obtained from
the Company's stores; and as there is no second
shop at which to apply, prices immeasurably beyond the value are charged for the various arti-
cles they purchase. In this manner, between the
expenses attending their Indian wives, and children, the purchasing of horses, gambling, &c,
the wages of years are dissipated.
I know of no people capable of enduring so
much bard labour as the Canadians, or so submissive to superiors. In voyages of six months'
duration, during which
" Sunday shines, no Sabbath day to them,''
they commence at day-break, and from thence to
night-fall hard paddling and carrying goods
occupy the time without intermission. They
are remarkably good-natured and affectionate to
each other, and it is no uncommon thing to hear
one man address his comrade as " mon frere,"
or u mon cousin," without any degree of consanguinity existing between them. The enlivening
anecdote, or la chanson a Vaviron, by turns
softens down the severity of their laborious duties, in the midst of which they uniformly display the same elasticity of spirits and gaiete de
cceur by which their vivacious French ancestors
were so much distinguished: It is laughable to
hear the nominal distinctions they are obliged to
adopt in reference to many of the partners and
clerks, who have the same surname.    There are
Mr. Mackenzie, le rouge; Mr. Mackenzie, le
blanc; Mr. Mackenzie, le borgne; Mr. Mackenzie, le picote ; Mr. MfDonald, le grand;
Mr. McDonald, le pretre; Mr. McDonald, le
bras croche ; and so on, according to the colour
of the hair, the size, or other personal peculiarity
of each individual.
Mr. Shaw, one of the agents, had passed many
years in the interior, and w^as by the voyageurs
called Monsieur Le Chat.  On quitting the Indian
country he married a Canadian lady, by whom
he had several children.    Some years after this
event, one of his old foremen, named Louis La
Libert^, went to Montreal to spend the winter.
He had heard of his old bourgeois9 marriage,
and was anxious to see him.    Mr. Shaw was
walking on the Champ de Mars with a couple of
officers, when La Liberty spied him.    He immediately ran up, and seizing him by both hands,
began as follows :—e' Ah, mon cher Monsieur le
Chat, comment vous portez-vous V % Tres bien,
LouisonP    " Et comment se porte Madame la
Chatte ?"   " Bien, bien ; Louison, elle est tres
bien."—" Et tous les petits ChatonsV    This
was too   much  for ''Mr.  Shaw,   who  answered
shortly that kittens and all were well, and, telling him to call at his house, turned away with
his  military  friends,  leaving   the   Catechetical
Louison quite astonished at the abruptness of his
La Liberte was an extraordinary old man; he
had several fine daughters by an Indian wife,
and became father-in law to three proprietors.
He was therefore proud of his connexions, and,
feeling indignant at Mr. Shaw's supposed cavalier
treatment, adopted an eccentric method of manifesting his resentment. He ordered a coat to be
made of fine green cloth, with silver buttons, a
waistcoat of crimson velvet, back and front, (like
the sailor at Portsmouth,) with cornelian buttous,
braided sky-blue pantaloons, Hessian boots with
gold tassels and silver heels, a hat, feathers, and
silk sash; and thus accoutred, with a long calumet in his right hand, and a splendidly ornamented smoking-bag in his left, he proceeded to
the Champ de Mars, during a regimental parade,,
and observing Mr. Shaw walking in company
with some ladies and gentlemen, he vociferated,
ce Ha, ha, Monsieur le Chat, voyez ma veste,
voila les boutons! En avez-vous de meme ?
Ha, ha, Monsieur le Chat, regardez mes bottes
—je suis ferrt d'argent. Je suis le beau.pere
de Monsieur MeDinnill; Monsieur Mackenzie est mon gendre ; etje me sacre de tous les
Chats, et de toutes les Chattes /" Some of his
friends,  who previous to his leaving home ob-
served him drinking a quantity of rum, followed
him to the parade ground, and with much difficulty at length succeeded in forcing him away,
while the poor old man every now and then lifted
up a leg, and dared any Shaw, or officer on the
ground, to show silver heels to his boots!
The dress of a voyageur generally consists of
a capot made out of a blanket, with leather or
cloth trowsers, mocassins, a striped cotton shirt,
and a hat or fur cap. They seldom annoy themselves with a waistcoat; and in the summer season their necks are generally exposed. They all
wear belts of variegated worsted, from which
their knives, smoking-bags, &c. are suspended.
They enjoy good health, and with the exception
of occasional attacks of rheumatism, are seldom
afflicted with disease. The principal trading
establishments are supplied with well-assorted
medicine-chests, containing books of directions,
lancets, &c. An assortment of the more simple
medicines is made up for each out-post; and as
each clerk must learn how to bleed, we generally
manage, between low diet, salts, castor-oil, opodeldoc, friar's-balsom, and phlebotomy, to preserve their health unimpaired, and cure any
common accident which may befal them.
The Canadians are not much inclined to Indian
warfare.    This, however, does not proceed from
any want of courage; for in the late short war
with the United States they conducted themselves with eminent bravery. | A local corps,
composed of the officers and men of the North-
West Company, was raised by the Honourable
William M'Gillivray. His son Mr. Joseph
M'Gillivray, as I have mentioned elsewhere,
was an officer in it; and he gave us some laughable details relative to the conduct of the privates
in the campaign in which he was engaged. When
on duty in company with the regular forces or
the militia they were guilty of much insubordination, and it was quite impossible to make them
amenable to military law. They generally came
on parade with a pipe in their mouths and their
rations of pork and bread stuck on their boyonets.
On seeing an officer, whether general, colonel,
or subaltern, they took off their hats and made a
low bow, with the common salutation of Bon
jour, Monsieur le General, or le Colonel, as the
case might be, and, if they happened to know
that the officer was married, never failed to inquire after the health of Madame et les enfans.
On parade they talked incessantly, called each
other 'pork eaters,' quarrelled about their rations, wished they were back in the Indian
country again, &c, and when called to order by
their officers and told to hold their tongues, one
or more would reply, % Ah, dear captain, let us
off as quick can ; some of us have not
yet breakfasted, and it's upwards of an hour
since I had a smoke." If the officer was a'North-
Wester, he generally told them to have patience,
and he would give them their conge tout de suite.
In moments when danger ought to have produced a little steadiness, they completely set discipline at defiance, and the volatile volunteer
broke out into all the unrestrained mirth and anti-
military familiarity of the thoughtless voyageur.
In vain the subaltern winked, in vain the captain
threatened, in vain the colonel frowned; neither
winks, threats, or frowns, could restrain the vivacious laugh, silence the noisy tongue, or compose
the ever changing features into any thing like
military seriousness.
These repeated infractions of the code militaire
subjected many of them to temporary confinement; but as night apprpached, if the sentinel
was a voyageur, he told the prisoner to iC aller
coucher avec safemme, et retourner le lendemain
de bonne heure." This friendly advice was immediately followed, and they had always the
honour to return according to promise. They
could not be got to wear stocks ; and such as did
not use cravats came on parade with naked necks,
and very often with rough beards.    In this con-
dition they presented a curious contrast to the
unchangeable countenances and well-drilled
movements of the British soldiery, with whom
they occasionally did duty. Notwithstanding
these peculiarities the voyageurs were excellent
partisans, and, from their superior knowledge of
the country, were able to render material service
during the war. They had great confidence in
their officers, particularly their colonel, Mr.
M'Gillivray, whose influence frequently saved
them from the punishment to which their repeated breaches of discipline subjected them.
There are scattered throughout the North West
territories a few dozen Canadian trappers called
free-men. These individuals were formerly engaged as voyageurs in the Company's service, and
preferred, after the termination of their respective
engagements, to remain in the Indian country
rather than return to Canada. They have generally Indian families, and from their peculiar occupation lead a wandering life.
They must bring the produce of their hunts to
the Company's posts, when they receive payment in goods according to a regular tariff, or
the value in money is placed to their credit, and
paid on their arrival in Montreal. From their
constant exposure to the sun, these men are as
irretrievably bronzed as the native Indians, from
whom, owing to their long separation from their
countrymen, they differ but little either in their
habits or modes of living. Some of them have
large bands of horses ; and, I understand, a plurality of wives is not unfrequent among them !
|1 Ulfj
This race is now numerous throughout the Indian country, particularly on thee ast side of the
Rocky Mountains. Owing to the recent arrival
of white people at the Columbia, they are comparatively few on the western side. The sons of
the voyageurs, on attaining a proper age, are generally engaged in the Company's service. They
are called Les Bois Bruits—but why, it is difficult to ascertain. While they are taught to despise the traditions of their mothers' tribe, no one
busies himself in unfolding to them the divine
truths of Christianity, and the loose manners of
their fathers are but ill calculated to impress
them with any great respect for the ties of morality. It is therefore not surprising, that when
precept is silent, and parental example vicious,
they should exhibit conduct at variance with the
relations of civilised life. They are fond of
ardent spirits, and are much addicted to swearing: while the abominable custom of Indian
mothers in talking in the most undisguised man-
ner before their children of sexual intercourse,
creates a grossness of ideas with regard to female
purity, which may account in a great degree for
their carelessness on that head.
They are good canoe-men, and excellent hunters, remarkably active either on horseback or on
foot; brave, daring, rather passionate, and, while
they possess all the vivacity of their father, they
at times manifest a slight symptom of Indian
ferocity ; this however is only evinced when any
insulting allusion is made to their mixed origin.
They are open-hearted and generous, practise
little cunning, detest hypocrisy; and while they
are determined not to submit quietly to a wrong,
are extremely cautious against giving any unnecessary cause of offence.
The proprietors generally send their sous to
Canada or England for education. They have a
wonderful aptitude for learning, and in a short
time attain a facility in writing and speaking both
French and English that is quite astonishing.
Their manners are naturally and unaffectedly
polite, and their conversation displays a degree
of pure, easy, yet impassioned eloquence, seldom
heard in the most refined societies.
On finishing their studies, those intended for
the Company's service enter as apprentice clerks;
and in course of time, according to their talents
and seniority, become proprietors.
The Half-breed women are excellent wives
and mothers, and instances of improper conduct
are rare among them. They are very expert at
the needle, and make coats, trowsers, vests,
gowns, shirts, shoes, &c. in a manner that would
astonish our English fashioners. They are kept
in great subjection by their respective lords, to
whom they are slavishly submissive. They are
not allowed to sit at the same table, or indeed at
any table, for they still continue the savage
fashion of squatting on the ground at their meals,
at which their fingers supply the place of forks.
They wear no caps in the house; but in travelling hats are used instead of bonnets. With the
exception of the head, their dress resembles that
worn by the Bavarian broom-girls, who of late
years visit our shores.
A gentleman whose name frequently occurs in
these pages, but which it is here unnecessary to
repeat, had, a few years after his arrival in the
Indian country, taken a half-breed girl as a partner. She. was the daughter of a Canadian by a
Cree mother,, and was very young, handsome,
and possessed such amiable and engaging manners that he determined to bring her with him on
his first visit to Canada, and legalize their union
by the seal of marriage. She had made some
progress in reading, and had two fine boys
whom he sent to Scotland for their education.
In short, no man was more happy than young
 —, no woman was judged more perfect than
his interesting wife. He was obliged one year
to conduct a brigade of loaded canoes from his
wintering-post to Fort William, and during his
absence, which occupied about four months, left
his wife behind him.
He returned sooner than was expected, and,
leaving the canoes some distance below the fort,
arrived there about midnight.    The dogs knew
his signal, and he proceeded without any noise or
obstruction to his bed-room, in which he found
his guilty partner in the arms of another.    He
instantly drew his dagger, with which he nearly
destroyed the paramour, while she fled to one of
the married men's apartments, in which she remained concealed during the night.   Next morning, when his passion had cooled, he sent for
her, and addressed her feelingly on her base and
ungrateful conduct.    He declared he could not
think of living again with her; that he should
send her to her father, (who was a free trapper,)
and give her all her clothes, trinkets, &c.; and,
should her future life prove correct, promised
that her usual supply of clothes and provisions
should be regularly furnished her. She retired
weeping, and deeply affected. Her misconduct
preyed heavily on her mind; and in less than
four months after joining her father, she was
numbered with the dead.    Her seducer quitted
the Company's service,  and Mr.  never
after took a wife. Instances of this nature are
however of rare occurrence among the Half-breed
women; and taking their numbers and want of
education into consideration, perhaps fewer
cases of infidelity occur among them than among
any equal portion of females in the civilised world.
When a young trader becomes united to an
Indian or half-breed woman he seldom calculates
on a family, and foolishly imagines he can easily
dissolve a connexion which is unsanctioned by
the ceremony of marriage-. He is however much
deceived. When the period which he had originally fixed for quitting the Indian country
arrives, he finds that the woman who had been
for many years a faithful partner cannot in a moment be " whistled off," and t( let down the
wind to prey at fortune." Children have grown
up about him ; the natural affection of the father
despises the laws of civilised society,—the patriot sinks in the parent,_each succeeding year
weakens the recollection of home, and of—
The pleasant fields, travelled so oft
In life's morning march, when his bosom was young ;
and in most cases the temporary liaison ends in
a permanent union. Those so circumstanced, on
quitting the Company bring their families to Canada, where they purchase estates, on which they
live in a kind of half Indian, half civilised manner, constantly smoking their calumet and railing
at the fashionable frivolities of the great world.
When a trader wishes to separate from his Indian wife he generally allows her an annuity, or
gets her comfortably married to one of the voyageurs, who, for a handsome sum, is happy to become the husband of la Dame d'un Bourgeois.
A retired partner, thus disembarrassed, arrives in
Canada determined to enjoy the pleasures of matrimony with an educated female. His arrival is
quickly known,—his object buzzed about. The
ladies of Montreal and Quebec are immediately
on the qui vive; invitations are numerous, the
wealthy North-Wester is universally admired;
bronzed features, Oxford-grey hairs, andadegage
tout ensemble impart peculiar interest to his appearance. When he speaks, every tongue is silent;
Each moving accident by flood and field
is listened to with breathless attention, and many
a fair auditor unconsciously wishes that
Heaven had made her such a man.
Music follows, then a song; dancing succeeds ;
and he retires bewildered in joy, and cursing
the fortune that so long- debarred him from the
enjoyment of such happiness. His selection is
quickly made, and he at length becomes a legal
I believe such unions are generally happy; but
the censorious, particularly those who remain
faithful to their Indian wives, assert that many
of their old associates have been sadly duped in
their matrimonial speculations.
These envious scandal-mongers alleage that
the unfortunate husband too quickly discovers
that a bright eye, a fair face, a sweet voice, or a
tune on the piano, is rather an empty compensation for the waste of a hard-earned fortune;
while, if he attempts to remonstrate against his
wife's extravagance, his interesting bronze is
compared to copper, the Oxford-grey assumes a
whiter hue, the air degage degenerates to the
air slovenly; and an English tongue, quite at
variance with his ideas of conjugal submission,
reminds him that when all the officers of the
garrison were dying for her, she was thrown
away upon a weather-beaten, rheumatic, dog-
eating, moss-chewing" barbarian, whose habits
were better adapted to the savage society of Indian squaws, than to that of ladies of education.
The latter gentlemen, however, retaliate on the
former by alleilging that all their ill-natured re*
ports are caused by the refusal of the white ladies
to visit or associate with those brought down
from the interior, whom they regard as little
better than savages. There may be some truth
on each side; but on which it preponderates I
am unable to determine.
Very few men wish to have any offspring by
their Indian wives ; a sterile woman is therefore
invaluable. They are however scarce, and happy
is the man who succeeds in obtaining one.
One of the clerks on the Columbia, Mr. J ,
was particularly cautioned by his father, who
was an old proprietor, against taking an Indian
wife, lest he should be burdened with children
during his clerkship. The son promised obedience; but being stationed at Kamloops, he
learned that an Indian recently drowned had
been married five years, during which period his
wife never had a child. This was a prize not to
be lost; and as he knew the parental prohibition
was more levelled against children than a wife, he
lost no time in proposing for the young widow.
His offers were liberal, and were gladly accepted
by her relations. From a fancied resemblance
to a late celebrated empress he called her Josephine. The resemblance however was imperfect,
vol. n. x
whom she lived three years without children,
when she became a widow in consequence of
her husband having been killed by some of the
Blood Indians. Mr. C  shortly after became her husband, and brought her to Athabasca, where she lived with him eight years sans
" She had lived eleven years, with two hus-
bans, and her character therefore was firmly
established. She was besides a fine woman, good
tempered, and remarkably ingenious. I therefore determined to secure such a prize, and made
my proposals in due form. She was her own
mistress; and, happy at catching such a respectable successor to her late lord, she at once consented to become mine.
"Ere a few months passed, symptoms of a most
suspicious nature began to appear; but I could
not imagine my Francaise would turn mother; it
might be dropsy—any thing in fact but pregnancy
—but "list, oh list." On the 1st of April we
became one, (the day was ominous,) and on that
day nine months precisely (it is a melancholy
coincidence of dates) she presented me with a
New-Year's gift in the shape of a man-child !
But the cup of my misfortunes is not yet full.
Owing to some mamillary malformation, she
was unable to supply the brass bantling with
x 2
 i I
if r
milk, which obliged me to give it to nurse to
one of the men's wives. Apprehensive of having
another, I resolved on a separation, but I knew
not how to break my intention to her. The newborn delight of a mother seemed to absorb all her
faculties. The child is continually in her hands,
she says he's my picture, and, to do the little rascal justice, I think there is a likeness ; but to my
story:—while I was deliberating as to the least
painful mode of conveying my resolution to her,
I received a few days since the astounding intelligence of her being encore enceinte 11 Murder I
murder! isn't this too bad ? Still I can't blame her,
knowing that lama particeps criminis. But, what
will the governor say ? Ay, that's the question.
In two years two copper grand-children; three
I mean, for I understand my Columbian pet is
thriving apace. Why the old gentleman will destroy me. Was ever a man so tricked ? There's
the fruits of striving to cheat Nature; but I must
send him a long explanatory, apologetical letter,
introduce morality, &c. Francaise may now as
well remain until I hear from him ; and if he interposes no objection, I do not intend to change
her.    I have called my last Hector.    Adieu !"
The third description of men in the Company's
service are the Iroquois, Nipisings, and others
of the native tribes of Canada.    These Indians
have been all nearly reclaimed from their original
state of barbarism, and now profess the Roman
Catholic religion. They engage for limited periods in the Company's service as canoe-men and
hunters, but on lower terms than are usually
allowed to the French Canadians. They are
strong, able-bodied men, good hunters, and well
acquainted with the management of canoes. They
are immoderatety attached to the use of ardent
spirits; are rather quarrelsome, revengeful, and
sometimes insubordinate; and during their periods of intoxication the utmost prudence and
firmness are necessary to check their ferocious
propensities, and confine them within proper
bounds. They are generally employed on the
east side of the mountains, but we had a few of
them on the Columbia. One, named George
Teewhattahownie, was a powerful man about six
feet high. On one occasion, during our voyage
to the sea, we had a stiff breeze, and George, who
was foreman of my canoe, kept up a heavy press
of sail. I requested him repeatedly to take in a
reef, and pointed out the danger to which we were
exposed in the event of an accident. He appeared
to pay no attention to my request, and I was at
length obliged to use peremptory and threatening
language, which produced a forced and sulky
obedience.   A few days after our arrival at Fort
Hi I
George he came into my room in a state of intoxication, and ungovernable rage, with a vessel
containing rum in his left hand, and in his right
his couteaude chasse; in short his whole appearance was wild and savage, and I at once guessed
his visit was not of a ftjiendly nature. His opening speech realised my suspicions.
"Cox, you toad, prepare for death! you
abused tne, and I must have my revenge."
" You're not sober, George; go sleep awhile,
and we'll talk on this subject to-morrow."
ff No ; you insulted me before the men, and I
must have satisfaction; but as you're a young
man, I will now only take one of your ears !"
I became a little easy on finding he had lowered his demands; but as I had an equal affection
for both lugs, and as " the prejudice ran in favour of two," I had no wish, like Jack Absolute,
to affect singularity in that respect. After some
further parley, and finding he was determined to
try his knife on my auricular cartilages, I told
him to retire, or, I should be obliged to order
him into confinement, . | Ha crapaud!" said
he, "do you threaten Teewhattahownie?" and
at the same instant rushed on me like a grizzly
bear. I was now forced to draw my dagger in
self-defence, and in parrying off his thrust gave
him a severe wound across the fingers of the right
hand.     He  dropped  the  knife,  but  instantly
seized it with the left hand, and at the same time
attempted to catch me, which I avoided by running under his arm, and as he turned round was
compelled to give him a severe cut, which nearly
laid open one side of his head.    He now became
quite furious, roared like a buffalo, and with the
blood streaming down his race appeared more
like a demon than a human being.    I thought to
fly, but in the attempt he seized the skirt of my
coat, and I was obliged once more to give him
another wound   across   the   left hand,  which
obliged him to drop the knife; a desperate struggle then followed for the dagger, which,  from
his great strength, he must have wrested from
me, had not the noise occasioned by his bellowing and my cries  for  assistance brought  Mr.
Montour and some of the men into the room.
With much'difficulty they succeeded in binding
him hand and foot, and lodging him in the guardroom.    He tore off the dressings that were applied to his wounds, refused every assistance,
and the greater part of the night was spent in
wild yells and ferocious threats against me.  Na-
^ turjeat last became exhausted, and he fell asleep,
in which state his wounds were dressed.    None
of them were dangerous.    Between the loss of
blood and a long fast he became quite cool on
the following day, and when told of what had
occurred he could scarcely believe it, cursed the
rum as the cause, and made a solemn promise
never again to drink to intoxication. At the
end of a couple of days I interceded and had
him liberated. He appeared most grateful, acknowledged that he deserved what he got, expressed his surprise that I did not kill him, and
declared if he ever heard a man say a bad word
of me for wounding him he would knock him
down. I believe his regret was sincere, and
from that period until the following year, when I
quitted the Columbia, I never saw him in a state
Qf inebriety.
Coalition of the two Companies—New Caledonia—Description of the Chilcotins, Talkotins, &c.—Soil, produce, lakes,
rivers, animals, climates—Peculiarities of the natives—Suicides— Cruelty to relatives — Horrible treatment of prisoners—Sanguinary quarrels—Extraordinary ceremonies
attending the dead—Barbarities practised on widows, &c.—
Table of population.
It will be seen from a perusal of the foregoing
pages that they contain simply a detail of such
events as occurred under my own observation, or
were cotemporaneous with my residence in the
interior. I thought it better to follow this course,
than, by the introduction of new matter, to break
in on the regular chronological order of the narrative. Since I left the Indian country I have
maintained a correspondence with many of my
old associates there, particularly Mr. Joseph
M4Gillivray, from whose friendly communications
the information contained in the following pages
is chiefly extracted.
It will, I have no doubt, be found highly interesting ; and his description of New Caledonia
furnishes the only information we possess of a
portion of the  American continent   respecting
which we have been heretofore perfectly igno-*
A few years subsequent to my quiting the Columbia the Company abandoned JFort George, (of
which I have made such frequent mention,) and
erected another on a larger scale in a beautiful
situation at Bellevue Point on the northern shore,
and about eighty miles from the entrance of the
river. This point was so named by Lieutenant
Broughton, who had been sent up the Columbia
by Vancouver, and in honour of the latter the
Company has called the new establishment ff Fort
The long and violent opposition between the
Hudson's-Bay and North-west Companies ceased
in the year 1821 by their coalition. The ruinous
rivalship that so long existed between them must
have ultimately proved destructive to both, had
not a few sensible men come forward, and by
their united exertions succeeded in forming a
junction. The preliminaries were signed in
London, in March 1821, and confirmed at Fort
William by the wintering partners in the July
following. The particulars of the treaty would
be uninteresting to the general reader; and I
shall here only remark that the old North-Westers are by no means pleased with it, and loudly
complain of some of its minor arrangements, &o.
This district extends from 51° 30/ north lat. to
about 56°. Its extreme western boundary is 124°
10V Its principal trading post is called Alexandria, after the celebrated traveller Sir Alexander
Mackenzie. It is built on the banks of Fraser's
River, in about lat. 53° N. The country in its
immediate vicinity presents a beautiful and picturesque appearance. The banks of the river
are rather low ; but a little distance in-land some
rising grounds are visible, partially diversified by
groves of fir and poplar.
Sir Alexander Mackenzie, in his voyage of discovery across the continent in 1793, came to the
spot on which the fort is built, and was dissuaded
by the Indians from following the course of the
river to its mouth. On quitting this place he
proceeded to the West Rdad river, from whence
by an overland journey he succeeded in reaching
the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
This country is full of small lakes, rivers, and
marshes. It extends about ten days' march in a
north and north-east direction. To the south
and south-east the Atnah, or Chin Indian country,
extends about one hundred miles; on the east
there is a chain of lakes, and the mountains bordering Thompson's River; while to the westward
Ill          i
11 P
1 !          3
:h 11
|                               i
Ir I
and northwest lie the lands of the Naskotins and
The principal rivers are Fraser's, Quesnel's,
Rough Poplar, Chilcotin, and West Road. Of
these Fraser's River only is navigable. It receives
the waters of Quesnel's, and West Poplar rivers,
which issue from small lakes to the eastward.
The lakes are numerous, and some of them
tolerably large: one, two, and even three days
are at times required to cross some of them.
They abound in a plentiful variety of fish, such as
trout, sucker, &c.; and the natives assert that
white fish is sometimes taken. These lakes are
generally fed by mountain streams, and many of
them spread out, and are lost in the surrounding
In visiting the Naskotin and Chin Indians our
conveyance is by canoes on Fraser's River; but
our journeys to Bear Lake, Kloukins, and Chil-
cotins, must be performed on foot.
The trading goods are now obtained from the
1 Columbia department, to which the returns of
furs are forwarded. Horses are used for conveying the goods, and the journey generally occupies six weeks. The roads are extremely bad,
and in every direction we encounter numerous
rivulets, small lakes, and marshes.
The soil is poor: an indifferent mould, not ex-
ceeding eight inches in depth, covers a bed of
gravel and sand.    All the vegatables we planted,
notwithstanding the utmost care and precaution,
nearly failed; and the last crop of potatoes did
not yield one-fourth of the seed planted.
On the banks of the river, and in the interior,
the trees consist of poplar, cypress, alder, cedar,
birch, and different species of fir, spruce, and
willow. There is not the same varietpof wild
fruit as on the Columbia; and this year (1827)
the berries generally failed. Service-berries,
choke-cherries, gooseberries, strawberries, and
red whortleberries, are gathered; but among the
Indians the service-berry is the great favourite.
There are various kinds of roots, which the na*
tives preserve and dry for periods of scarcity.
There is only one kind which we can eat. It is,
called Tza-chin, has a bitter taste, but when
eaten with salmon imparts an agreeable zest, and
effectually destroys the disagreeable smell of that
fish, when smoke-dried. St. John's wort is very
common, and has been successfully applied as a
fomentation in topical inflammations. A kind of
weed, which the natives convert into a species of
flax, is in general demand. A n evergreen similar
to that we found at the mouth of the Columbia,
(and before described,) with small berries grow-
ing in clusters like grapes, also flourishes in this
district. Sarsaparilla and bear-root are found in
abundance. A strong decoction of the two latter
with the herries last mentioned has been repeatedly tried by our men in venereal cases, and has
always proved successful.
White earth abounds in the vicinity of the
fort; and one description of it, mixed with oil
and lime, might be converted into excellent soap.
Coal in considerable quantities has been discovered ; and in many places we observed a species
of red earth, much resembling lava, and which
appeared to be of volcanic origin.
We also found in different parts of New Caledonia quartz, rock crystal, cobalt, talc, iron, mar-
casites of a gold colour, granite, fuller's earth,
some beautiful specimens of black marble, and
limestone in small quantities, which appeared to
have been forced down the beds of the rivers
from the mountains.
The jumping deer, or chevreuil, together with
the reia.and red-deer, frequent the vicinity of
the mountains in considerable numbers, and in
the summer season they oftentimes descend to
the banks of the rivers and the adjacent flat
The marmot and wood-rat also abound: the
flesh of the former is exquisite, ^ind capital robes
are made out of its skin; but the latter is a very
destructive animal.
Their dogs are of diminutive size, and strongly
resemble those of the Esquimaux, with the
curled-up tail, small ears, and pointed nose. We
purchased numbers of them for the kettle, their
flesh constituting the chief article of food in our
holiday feasts for Christmas and New Year*
The fur-bearing animals consist of beavers;
bears, black, brown, and grizzly; otters, fishers,
lynxes, martins; foxes, red, cross, and silver;
minks, musquash, wolverines, and ermines. Rabbits also are so numerous that the natives manage
to subsist on them during the periods that salmon
is scarce.
Under the head of ornithology we have the
bustard, or Canadian outarde, (wildgoose,) swans,
ducks of various descriptions, hawks, plovers,
cranes, white-headed eagles, magpies, crows,
vultures, wood-thrush, red-breasted thrush, or
robin, woodpeckers, gulls, pelicans, hawks, partridges, pheasants, and snow-birds.
The spring commences in April, when the wild
flowers begin to bud, and from thence to the
latter end of May the weather is delightful. In
June-it rains incessantly, with strong southerly
and easterly winds.    During the months of July
and August the heat is intolerable; and in September the fogs are so dense, that it is quite impossible to distinguish the opposite side of the
river any morning before ten o'clock. Colds
and rheumatisms are prevalent among the natives
during this period: nor are our people exempt
from them. In October the falling of the leaves
and occasional frost announce the beginning of
winter. The lakes and parts of the rivers are
frozen in November. The snow seldom exceeds
twenty-four inches in depth. The mercury in
Fahrenheit's thermometer falls in January to
15° below 0; but this does not continue many
days. In general, I may say, the climate is neither unhealthy nor unpleasant; and if the na-
tives used common prudence, they would undoubtedly live to an advanced age.
The salmon-fishery commences about the middle of July, and ceases in October. This is a
busy period for the natives ; for upon their industry in saving a sufficiency of salmon for the
winter depends their chief support. Their method of catching the salmon is ingenious, and
does not differ much from that practised by the
upper natives of the Columbia. A certain part
of the river is enclosed by a number of stakes
about twelve feet high, and extending about
thirty feet from the shore.    A netting of rods is
attached to the stakes, to prevent the salmon
running through. A conical machine, called a
vorveau, is next formed : it is eighteen feet long,
and five feet high, and is made of rods about one
inch and a quarter asunder, and lashed to hoops
with whattap.* One end is formed like a funnel
to admit the fish. Two smaller machines of
nearly equal length are joined to it. It requires
a number of hands to attach these vorveaux to
the stakes. They are raised a little out of the
water; and the salmon in their ascent leap into
the boot or broad part, and fall into the enclosed
space, where they are easily killed with spears.
This contrivance is admirably calculated to catch
fish ; and when salmon is abundant, the natives
take from eight to nine hundred daily.
The salmon fishery this year (1827) completely
failed, which obliged us to send to Kamloops, a
post belonging to the Columbia department, for
a supply. We got thence two thousand five
hundred, and subsequently one thousand five
hundred from Mr. Connolly, which, with some of
our old stock and thirty-five kegs of potatoes,
kept us from starvation.
Jub, suckers, trout, and white-fish are caught
* A tough fibrous root used in sewing bark canoes. It is
split into various lengths, quite flat and flexible, and seldom
exceeding one-eighth of an inch in breadth.
VOL.   II. Y

in the lakes ; and in the month of October, towards the close of the Sainton fishery, we catch
trout of a most exquisite flavour. Large-sized
sturgeon are occasionally taken in the vorveauw,
but they are not relished by the natives.
In consequence of several of the Chilcotin
tribe having represented that beaver was plentiful in their country, some of our people visited ife,
whose statements fully corroborated those of the
Indians; and the northern council of Rupert's
Land therefore determined about two years ago
to establish a trading post in that quarter. A
circumstance, however, shortly after occurred,
which has hitherto prevented the Company from
carrying their intention into effect.
The Talkotins, who inhabit the banks of Fra-
ser's River, in the vicinity of Alexandria, were
formerly on the most friendly terms with the
Chilcotins, and when salmon failed among the
latter they were always permitted to fish in Fra-
ser's River.
In the winter of 1826 four young men of the
Talkotins proceeded on a hunting excursion to
the Chilcotin lands. A quarrel, the cause of
which we could never ascertain, occurred between them, and three of the young men were
butchered. The fourth, who escaped dangerously wounded, arrived at the fort on the 19th
March, and immediately communicated the dis-
asterous intelligence to his countrymen. One
Chilcotin, who was at the fort, would have fallen
a victim to their revenge had We not interfered,
and with much difficulty concealed him until an
opportunity offered for his escape ; which, notwithstanding the vigilance of his enemies, he effected.* A sanguinary war followed, and in
some skirmishes the Talkotin chief lost three
nephews. This determined him to carry hostilities into the enemy's camp; and, having selected a chosen band of warriors, twenty-four in
number, they departed on the 19th of April, and
on the 20th of June returned with five prisoners,
and the scalps of twelve men, women, and children, whom they had surprised and killed.
A large party of Chilcotins, who were quite
ignorant of the rival chief's successful expedition,
appeared on the 21 st of June on the banks of the
river opposite the fort. They killed one stray
Talkotin, but retired without coming to a general
engagement. A few weeks afterwards a party,
consisting of twenty-seven* made their appearance, and their chief made an oration, which,
owing to a strong wind, we could not understand.
They encountered some of our people who were
* This poor fellow was .subsequently murdered by a Talkotin.
Y   2
attending the gardens on the opposite bank of the
river, but did not injure them. They also retired
without coming to blows.    During the summer
the Talkotins were constantly kept on the qui
vive by various rumours of intended attacks ;
and at length, on the morning of the 24th of
September,   a  formidable  party of Chilcotins,
amounting to eighty warriors, appeared on the
banks of the river.    The Talkotins were lodged
in a log-house, surrounded by rows of strong
palisades,   with  numerous loop-holes between.
The battle commenced a little after day-break;
but,  owing to the manner in which the latter
were protected, their loss was trifling—say one
man and one old woman killed; while that of
the Chilcotins amounted to six killed and many
dangerously wounded.    Still they pressed on,
and might have been ultimately successful, had
we not forwarded to the Talkotins a supply of
arms and ammunition, which effectually checked
their advances on the log-house.    A woman of
the Chilcotin tribe, who happened to be at the
fort, observing the assistance we had given the
enemy, stole away unperceived and communicated to her countrymen the circumstance; on
learning which, they at once determined to retreat.     On their departure   they  pronounced
vengeance against us, and threatened to cut off
all white men that might thereafter fall in their
No friendly overture has been since made by
either tribe ; and although we sent word repeatedly to the Chilcotins that we should feel happy
in bringing about a reconciliation, we have not
as yet received an answer, and none of them
have been seen in our neighbourhood since Sept.
1826. Notwithstanding this apparent disinclination on their part to renew relations of friendship, we determined in the autumn of 1827 to
establish a trading post in their country; but
were prevented from doing so by the total failure
of salmon.
I herewith subjoin a brief sketch of the district. The Chilcotin river takes its rise in a
lake of the same name : its course from Alexandria is S. S. E.; its length, including its mean-
derings, about one hundred and eighty miles;
and its breadth varies from forty to sixty yards :
it is quite shallow, and full of rapids. The lake
is about half a mile in breadth, and sixty miles
in length, and is surrounded by lofty mountains,
from which a number of small rivulets descend.
It contains abundance of sucker, trout, and white
fish. Salmon however is the favourite fish;
but as it does not regularly ascend their river,
they are often obliged  to  content themselves
f /1
with the produce of the lake. They are poor
hunters, otherwise they might chiefly subsist on
animal food; for the rein-deer, with the red and
moose deer, are found in great numbers in the
mountains; and in the autumnal months the
black-tail and jumping-deer are plentiful. Beaver must be abundant; for men, women, and
children are clad in robes of the fur of that
It is impossible to ascertain with accuracy the
number of the tribe; but I conceive the men
capable of bearing arms cannot be under one
hundred and eighty. They are cleanly in their
persons, and remarkably hospitable.
The Chilcotins speak the Carrier language,
but many of their words bear a strong affinity to
the Slave Indian dialect.
They are extremely fond of iron-works, and
appear to be well acquainted with the use of firearms. We saw one excellent gun in their possession, marked ei Barret, 1808." The owner
said he purchased it from Indians who came
from the sea-coast. According to their accounts,
travellers may in six days, from the end of Chil-
cotin Lake, after crossing a range of mountains,
reach a river in a southerly direction which discharges its waters into the ocean, at a place
where the Indians carry on a traffic with Euro-
peans. From their general behaviour we were
led to imagine they must have had frequent intercourse with the whites; and a peculiar kind
of blanket, resembling a rug, which was in common use amongst them, we supposed had been
obtained from Russian traders. The journey
from Alexandria to the Chilcotin lake occupies
eighteen days ; and as a proof of the richness of
the country in fur-bearing animals, I have only
to state that the small experimental party sent
thither in December 1825 purchased from the
natives between three and four hundred excellent
beaver skins.
The Indians on the upper part of Fraser's
River are divided into various tribes, under the
following names: viz. Slowercuss, Dinais, Nas-
cud, Dinnee, and Talkotin. They are evidently
sprung from one common origin. Their manners and customs are the same; and there is no
variation in their language, which bears a close
affinity to that spoken by the Chepewyans and
Beaver Indians.
Several families generally club together and
build a house, the size of which is proportioned
to the number of inhabitants, a®^ is partitioned
off into several divisions. The building has one
long ridge pole, which in several places is uncovered, for the free egress of the smoke.    They
are supremely dirty and lazy, and full of vermin,
which they take great pleasure in eating. They
never bathe or wash their bodies, which, with
the interior of their dwellings, and the surrounding neighbourhood, present a shockingly repulsive
appearance of filthy nastiness, which we never
observed among any other tribe. When reproached with their want of cleanliness they replied, that the dirt preserved them from the intense cold of winter, and protected them equally
from the scorching sun of summer !
The women are, if possible, worse than the
men; and when they wish to appear very fine
they saturate their hair with salmon oil, after
which it is powdered over with the down of birds,
and painted with red ochre mixed with oil. Such
another preparation for the head is certainly not
used by any other portion of his majesty's copper-
coloured subjects. While in this oleaginous state
they are quite unapproachable near a fire ; and
even the voyageur, whose sense of smelling is
not over-refined, cannot bring his nasal organ
into a warm apartment with one of those bedizened beauties.
It is quite common to see six or eight of the
men during the summer, while their wives and
children are digging roots for their subsistence,
stretch their filthy covering on branches, and ex-
pose their naked bodies to the sun, changing
their position as it revolves in its course.
Independently of the starvation to which their
incurable indolence subjects them, it also entails
on them diseases which often prove fatal to
numbers; and asthma, with rheumatic and pulmonary complaints, are quite common among
They are generally about the middle size, and
few of them reach to the height of five feet nine
inches. Their colour is a light copper, with the
same long lank hair and black eyes which distinguish the other aborigines of America. Their
features are good, and, were it not for the barbarous incrustation which surrounds them, might
be called prepossessing. The women are stouter
than the men, but inferior to them in beauty.
The dress of both consists of a robe made of
marmot, or rabbit skin, tied round the neck and
reaching to the knees, with a small slip of leather
or cloth covering underneath. In the summer
months the men dispense even with this slight
covering, and wander about in a complete state
of nudity. They are fond of European clothing;
and such of them as were enabled to purchase a
coat, trousers, and shirt, took great pride in
appearing in them at the fort.
They are much addicted to gambling, and um-
pires are chosen to see that each party plays
fairly; still tkeir games seldom terminate without a quarrel. They will gamble their guns,
robes, and even their shoes. One of them, who
had been out three months on a hunting excursion, returned with a large lot of prime beaver,
with which he intended to purchase a gun for
himself, and other articles for his wife and children. His evil genius induced him to play; and
in a short time he lost half his stock. He then
desisted, and was about retiring to the fort; but
in the mean time several of the gamblers collected
about him, and upbraided him with want of spirit.
His resolution was overcome, and he recommenced : fortune was still unpropitious, and in
less than an hour he lost the remainder of his
furs. The following day he came to us with
tears in his eyes, and having related his misfortune, and promised never to run so great a risk
again, we gave him goods on credit to the amount
of twenty beavers.
They are fond of feasting, and on particular
occasions invite their friends from villages thirty
or forty miles distant. When the entertainment
is over, the guest has nothing more to expect;
and no matter how long he may remain, there is
no renewal of hospitality. Gambling is carried
on to a dreadful extreme at these assemblages.
Polygamy is practised, but is not very general,
few of them being able to support more than one
wife. There are no marriage ceremonies. The
choice of each party is kept unfettered; and it
frequently happens that if their tempers do not
agree, the union is dissolved by mutual consent.
The women are unfruitful, which may be attributed to the many laborious avocations to which
they are condemned, particularly that of digging
for roots; and abortions are also frequent among
Prostitution is notoriously practised among unmarried females, and is productive of disease to
a deplorable extent. Few escape the consequences
resulting from this general depravity, and many
falls victims to it. Leprosy is also common among
the young people of both sexes, and proceeds
from the same demoralising cause. Sickness or
excessive labour produces a depression of spirits
among the females, many of whom while in that
state commit suicide. We saw the bodies of
several of these wretched beings who had hanged
themselves from trees in sequestered parts of the
Their doctor, or man of medicine, differs little
from the same personage on the Columbia, except
that the profession here is rather dangerous.
iMie same mode of throwing the patient on his
back, beating the parts affected, singing in a loud
voice to drown his cries, &cc. is practised here ;
but in the event of his death, his relatives generally sacrifice the quack or some one of his connexions. This summary way of punishment is
admirably calculated to keep the profession free
from intruders; and their medical practitioners,
I am happy to state, are becoming every day less
The affectionate regard for friends and relatives, which, more or less, characterises other
tribes, appears to be unknown amongst these
savages. A few instances, which came under
our personal knowledge, may be sufficient to
prove their total want of all the finer feelings of
In December, 1826, an elderly man, nearly
related to the Talkotin chief, fell short of provisions, and although he was surrounded by numbers who had abundance of dried salmon, he
was actually allowed to die of starvation in the
midst of plenty. The day after his death the
corpse was burned, and no one seemed to mourn
his loss.
One night during the same winter a young
woman nearly naked, her body covered with
bruises, and dreadfully frost-bitten, came to the
fort, and begged for admission. This was readily
granted. She alleged she had been in a starving
condition, and had asked her husband for a little
dried salmon, which he refused to give, although
he had plenty in his lodge; that she watched an
opportunity during his absence to take a small
piece, which he discovered her in the act of eating; and that without any other cause he gave
her a dreadful beating, and then turned her out,
declaring she should no longer live with him. She
added, that all her friends refused her assistance,
and that she would have inevitably perished from
the inclemency of the weather but for the protection and relief we afforded her. During her
narrative her uncle entered, and, on learning the
particulars, he declared he would make up the
quarrel; and went away, promising to return
shortLy with some rabbits. With much difficulty
we succeeded in restoring her to health; but neither husband, uncle, nor any other relation ever
after troubled us with inquiries concerning her,
but she still remains at the fort living on our
Another instance, and I shall have done :—
In January 1827, two stout young men, brothers,
with their wives and children, and a grey-headed,
infirm old man, their father, encamped for a few
days close to the fort.
Late in the evening of the second day after
 mi it
I'* i
II i
their departure we were surprised at seeing the
unfortunate old man crawling towards the house,
and crying out piteously for i( fire and salmon."
His hands and feet were frost-bitten, and he was
scarcely able to move. A piece of salmon and a
glass of rum quickly revived him, when he told us
that on that morning his sons abandoned him at
the place they had slept at the night before, and
on going away, told him he might take care of
himself as well as he could, as they would not
any longer be encumbered with him !
These cases establish a degree of barbarism I
believe unparalleled in any country ; and I know
of no redeeming feature to counterbalance them.
We have repeatedly afforded relief to numbers
who were dying from starvation or disease, and
who, but for our assistance, would have perished ;
yet ingratitude is so strongly implanted in their
savage nature, that these very individuals in
periods of plenty have been the first to prevent
us from taking a salmon; and whenever a dispute
or misunderstanding arose between our people
and the natives, these scoundrels have been seen
brandishing their weapons and urging their countrymen to exterminate us.
They are also incorrigible thieves and liars.
No chevalier d'industrie could excel them in
skilful operations;  and it required our utmost
vigilance to guard against their felonious propensities : while their disregard of truth is so glaring, that we have actually heard them contradict
facts of which we ourselves had been eye-witnesses.
During the severity of winter they make excavations in the ground sufficiently capacious to
contain a number of persons; and in these holes
they burrow until the warm weather once more
permits them to venture above ground. They
preserve their dry salmon rolled up in baskets of
birch bark in holes of a similar description, but
somewhat smaller. The smell from these subterranean dwellings while thus occupied, is horribly offensive, and no white man could stand
within its influence. Men, women, and children,
dogs, fleas, &c. all live together in this filthy
It has been already mentioned that in the battle of September 1827 they killed some Chilcotins, and took others prisoners. Their treatment of both dead and living was in perfect accordance with their general character. After
having taken off the scalps, they raised the bodies of the deceased on stumps of trees, and
exhibited them to the Atnahs, a band of whom
had been specially invited to witness these trophies of their valour.    One would then plunge
 Ii 111
his knife into the corpse, a second hack the skull
with his axe, and a third perforate the body with
arrows. Women and children equally participated in this savage amusement, and all washed
their hands and faces in the blood of their victims, which they did not remove until it dried
and fell off wfr
Among the prisoners was one woman with a
child at her breast. A Talkotin ruffian instantly
cut its throat, and, holding the infant on the point
of his knife, asked the mother, with a degree of
horrible exultation, if it " smelt good." She
replied, ic No." He repeated the question, but
still received the same answer. Irritated at her
obstinacy, he seized her violently by the neck,
and asked her the third time if it '(smelt good."
The wretched woman, knowing that death awaited her, in the event of another refusal, at length
faltered out an affirmative. "Is it very good?''
repeated the savage. j Yes," she replied, " very
good ;" upon which, flinging her from him, and
dashing the lifeless remains of her infant on the
ground, he walked away.
The war-dance next commenced; and the unfortunate prisoners were introduced into the
middle of the circle, and compelled to join in the
dancing and singing, while at intervals their inhuman conquerors displayed the scalps of their
fathers, brothers, or husbands, and rubbing them
across their faces, asked with ferocious joy if they
f| smelled good ?"
We endeavoured to purchase some young children which were among the captives, with a
view of returning them to their friends ; but
they refused all our offers. They, however, promised that none of them should be injured ; but
their habitual perfidy was manifested in this as
in all their other transactions ; for we learned
that on the same night a child wras killed, and the
body burned; a few days afterwards another
was thrown alive into a large fire, and consumed ;
in the course of the winter our people discovered
the remains of three others, with scarcely any
flesh on their bones; and we had good reason to
believe they had been starved to death.
Inhumanity to prisoners, however, is a vice
which these Indians practice in common with all
the savage tribes of America ; but in their domestic quarrels the Talkotins evince the same
brutal and sanguinary disposition ; a remarkable
instance of which occurred in the year 1826. A
young man who had killed a rein-deer, determined to give a treat to his friends, and having
concealed it, as he thought, in a place of security,
proceeded to their various dwellings for the purpose of inviting them to the feast.    In the in-
VOL.   II.
terim, however, some of the tribe discovered the
hidden treasure, the greater part of which they
made away with. He became highly exasperated
at his disappointment, and in his passion slew
one man whom he found sitting at a fire broiling
part of the animal. The friends of the deceased
instantly armed themselves, and having surrounds
ed the lodge in which the owner of the deer resided, butchered all his relations, amounting to
seven individuals. He however escaped, and
being a person of some influence, quickly collected a number of his friends, determined on revenge ; but the murderers in the mean time fled
to the mountains, where they have lurked about
since, occasionally obtaining relief by stealth
either from our people, or from some of their
own countrymen.
Since the battle of September 1827 the Talkotins have, as a measure of security, established
their village within pistol-shot of our fort. They
are by no means pleasant neighbours. They are
in a constant state of apprehension from the Chilcotins, and pass the nights up to two or three
o'clock each morning singing, screaming, and
howling in a most disagreeable manner. It is
almost impossible to sleep. The slightest rustling
in the branches, or the barking of a dog, turns
out the whole population; and if a strange In-
dian appears, he is immediately magnified into a
host of warriors, coming to destroy both them
and the white men.
The ceremonies attending the dead are very
singular, and 'quite peculiar to this tribe. The
body of the deceased is kept nine days laid out
in his lodge, and on the tenth it is burned. For
this purpose a rising ground is selected, on which
are laid a number of sticks about seven feet long,
of cyprus neatly split, arid in the interstices is
placed a quantity of gummy wood. During these
operations invitations are despatched to the natives of the neighbouring villages requesting their
attendance at the ceremony: when the preparations are perfected the corpse is placed on the
pile, which is. immediately ignited, and during
the process of burning the by-standers appear to
be in a high state of merriment. If a stranger
happen to be present they invariably plunder
him; but if that pleasure be denied them, they
never separate without quarrelling among themselves. Whatever property the deceased possessed is placed about the corpse; and if he
happened to be a person of consequence, his
friends generally purchase a capot, a shirt, a pair
of trousers, &c, which articles are also laid round
the pile. If the, doctor who attended him has
escaped uninjured, he is obliged to be present at
the ceremony, and for the last time tries his skill
in restoring the defunct to animation. Failing in
this, he throws on the body a piece of leather, or
some other article, as a present, which in some
-measure appeases the resentment of his relations,
and preserves the unfortunate quack from being
maltreated. During the nine days the corpse is
laid out the widow of the deceased is obliged to
sleep alongside it from sunset to sunrise; and
from this custom there is no relaxation, even during the hottest days of summer ! While the
doctor is performing his last operation she must
lie on the pile; and after the fire is applied to it,
she cannot "stir until the doctor orders her to be
removed ; which, however, is never done until
her body is completely covered with blisters.
After being placed on her legs, she is obliged to
pass her hands gently through the flames, and
collect some of the liquid fat which issues from
the corpse, with which she is permitted to rub
her face and body ! When the friends of the de*.
ceased observe the sinews of the legs and arms
beginning to contract, they compel the unfortunate widow to go again on the pile, and by dint
of hard pressing to straighten those members.
If during her husband's lifetime she had been
known to have committed any act of infidelity,
or omitted administering to him savoury food, or
neglected his clothing, &c, she is now made to
suffer severely for such lapses of duty by his relations, who frequently fling her on the funeral
pile, from which she is dragged by her friends ;
and thus, between alternate scorching and cooling, she is dragged backwards and forwards until
she falls into a state of insensibility.
After the process of burning the corpse has
terminated the widow collects the larger bones,
which she rolls up in an envelope of birch bark,
and which she is obliged for some years afterwards to carry on her back! She is now considered and treated as a slave; all the laborious
duties of cooking, collecting fuel, &c. devolve on
her. She must obey the orders of all the women,
and even of the children belonging to the village,
and the slightest mistake or disobedience subjects her to the infliction of a heavy punishment.
The ashes of her husband are carefully collected
and deposited in a grave, which it is her duty to
keep free from weeds; and should any such appear, she is obliged to root them out with her
fingers ! During this operation her husband's relatives stand by and beat her in a cruel manner
until the task is completed, or she falls a victim
to their brutality. The wretched widows, to
avoid this complicated cruelty, frequently commit
suicide.   Should she, however, linger on for three
or four years, the friends of her husband agree to
relieve her from her painful mourning. This is
a ceremony of much consequence, and the preparations for it occupy a considerable time, generally from six to eight months. The hunters
proceed to the various districts in which deer and
beaver abound, and after collecting large quantities of meat and fur, return to the village. The
skins are immediately bartered for guns, ammunition, clothing, trinkets, &cc. Invitations are
then sent to the inhabitants of the various friendly
villages, and when they have all assembled the
feast commences, and presents are distributed to
each visitor. The object of their meeting is then
explained, and the woman is brought forward,
still carrying on her back the bones of her late
husband, which are now removed, and placed in
a carved box, which is nailed or otherwise fastened to a post twelve feet high. # Her conduct
as a faithful widow is next highly eulogised, and
the ceremony of her manumission is completed
by one man powdering on her head the down of
birds, and another pouring on it the contents of
a bladder of oil! She is then at liberty to marry
again, or lead a life of single blessedness; but
few of them I believe wish to. encounter the risk
attending a second widowhood.
The men are condemned to a similar ordeal,
Extract of a Letter from the Interior, dated July 1829.
The intelligence from this country is 'by no means of
a pleasant nature. The number of lives lost last winter
is incredible, particularly in your old department, the
The Company's ship, after a tolerably quick passage
from England, was lost on the bar, and the entire crew,
twenty-six in number, were inhumanly butchered by
the Clatsops. f|^
Your friend Ogden, in a hunting excursion, was attacked by a party of the Black-feet, who killed four of
his men ; and six of the people stationed at New Caledonia were murdered by the Carriers during the winter.
Two American parties, under the command of Messrs.
Smith and Tulloch, were completely cut off; not a soul
escaped; and .property to a considerable amount fell
into the hands of the savages.
These misfortunes have considerably weakened our
influence with the Indians on the Columbia, whose behaviour, in consequence, has become very bold and
daring, and we greatly fear the ensuing winter may be
productive of more disasters.
We shall have much difficulty in filling up the ap-
pointments for that district next spring ; in fact, symptoms of rebellion have already begun to manifest themselves, and several of our gentlemen have been heard to
declare, that in the event of their being nominated to
the Columbia, they will retire from the service sooner
than risk their lives among such sanguinary barbarians.
—God speed them! I say. Numbers of them have
been long enough enjoying idleness and luxury on the
east side of the mountains, and it is*only fair they should
experience some of our Columbian privations. I have
had my full share of them, and am therefore under no
apprehensions of being ordered there in a hurry.
Extract of another Letter.
In your last you expressed a wish to know the population of the new colony at the Red River, and how they
are getting on. I have not been there lately, but I enclose you the last census taken about two years ago,
since which period it has scarcely increased. Besides
men, women, boys, and girls, I give you a list of the
most useful animals in possession of the settlers, in order
that my statistics may be perfect so far as regards the
animal world.
189 married men.
^ 37 unmarried do.
193 married women and widows.
96 young women.
-     237 girls. "%r
90 young men.
'210 boys.
1052 souls..
33 barns.
164 horses.
27 brills.
76 oxen.
20 swine.
31 ploughs.
13 boats.
178 houses
126 stables
87 mares
295 cows
147 calves
96 carts
39 arrows
173 canoes.
There are 672| acres of land in a state of cultivation;
144jl05 acres of prairie, and 21,901 acres of woodland.
The total extent of lands measured amounts to 170,135
acres three roods.
The population would have been double the above
number were it not for the falling off of the Swiss and
the De Meurons,* most of whom have abandoned the
colony, and proceeded to St. Louis and the banks of the
Mississippi,and their places have not been supplied by
any fresh arrivals from England.
Extract of a Letter from Churchill, or Prince of Wales'
Fort, 1829.
After spending several years among our new establishments on the north-west side of this great continent, behold me now in one of our most ancient settlements on
the north-east side. Any thing in the shape of antiquity is a novelty in the pays sauvage; and as I know
you are fond of novelty, I must give you a sketch of
this redoubtable fortress.     Churchill  was   erected  in
*■ De Meuron's regiment was disbanded in Canada at the late peace,
•and numbers of the men proceeded to Lord Selkirk's colony at the Red
1733, under the superintendence of Mr. James Robson,
chief architect to the Hudson's Bay Company. It was
well fortified with a raveline and four bastions, and the
walls measure twenty-seven feet in breadth. Forty
pieces of cannon were mounted on the walls; in fact the
place was deemed impregnable: yet, notwithstanding
all this apparent strength, it was captured by La Pey-
rouse, without any trouble, and nearly all rased to the
ground. Had the Company's servants done their duty
at the time, they might have bid defiance to any force;
but de mortuis nil, &c. About the fort are now to be
seen decayed carriages without guns, rust-eaten guns
without carriages, groups of unappropriated balls of
various calibre, broken down walls, and dilapidated
stores. The governor's old house is the only place any
way inhabitable ! and even it will require immense repairs to make it tolerably tenantable. I assure you I
would prefer residing in one of our snug square-built
little boxes on the Columbia to this melancholy remnant
of departed greatness.
The following names are cut out in large characters
in the wall in front of the fort: Richard Norton,
1752; Guilford Long of Rotherhithe, 1754; John
Newton, 1752.*
In the year 1800 Mr. Atkinson found the following
inscription written in a piece of cedar wood, about a foot
square and five feet above the ground, on Old Factory
Island in James' Bay, about thirty miles to the northward of East Main Factory. All the letters were quite
" In the year 1692 wintered three ships at this island,
I Churchill is in lat. 58° 44' N., and long. 95° 30' W.
with one hundred and twenty-seven men, under the government of Captain James Knight. Then we erected
this monument in remembrance of it."
Three different tribes occasionally visit us. They
belong to the Crees, Chipewyans, and Esquimaux, and we
purchase from them beaver, otter, martin, red, silver,
and white foxes, &c. The Crees who have visited us
have never "exceeded twelve men, young and old. The
Chipewyans vary considerably in their numbers. From
twenty to fifty occasionally come, and the total number
who have visited the fort does not exceed one hundred.
Our Esquimaux customers reside at and about Chesterfield Inlet. They do not muster more than one hundred and twenty full-grown men, about forty of whom
visit us annually. They are all quiet, well-behaved
people, and tolerably honest.
About two-thirds of our provisions consist of country
produce; the remaining one-third, namely, flour and
oatmeal, we procure from England. Among the former we have fresh and salt geese, partridges, venison,
and fish. The geese are principally procured in the
spring from the Crees and Chipewyans, and numbers
are salted by our people. The latter tribe chiefly supply us with the venison, which they bring in a half-
dried state, nearly a distance of seventeen days' march.
During the summer season we occasionally kill a chance
deer. In the winter we are well supplied with partridges, the chief part of which our men take in nets.
Our principal fish is the salmon and jack-fish: the
former is taken during the summer season in nets at a
place called Cuckold's Point, between two and three
miles from the fort; and the Jack is taken in October
and November at Deer's River, distant about twenty-
five  niiles from Churchill.    Neither however is plentiful.
It was from this place that Hearne set out on his
arctic ocean hunting expedition ; and as I think he says
enough about the climate, soil, productions, &c. I shall
not tire you by alluding to these subjects. Suffice it to
say, that Churchill is a rascally, disagreeable, cold, unsocial, out-of-the-way, melancholy spot,—and I don't
care how soon I am changed. No hunting, horse-racing, or any other of the sports which we enjoyed on the
Columbia, which I once thought bad enough: but,
talking of Indian trading posts, I may truly say,'" bad
is the best." So, wishing you all manner of good things,
with plenty of white boys, and abundance to feed them,
I remain ton tendre ami a la mort. .


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



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


Related Items