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The North West Company Davidson, Gordon Charles, 1884- 1918

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       UNIVERSITY  OF CALIFORNIA
PUBLICATIONS  IN  HISTORY
H. MORSE STEPHENS HERBERT E. BOLTON
EDITORS
VOLUME VII    THE NORTH WEST COMPANY
GORDON CHARLES DAVIDSON, Ph. D.
First Lieutenant, Canadian Mounted Rifles
^
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS
BERKELEY
1918  1
PREFACE
A complete history of the North West Company is lacking.
Chapters concerning its activities have appeared in books dealing
with the Hudson's Bay Company and in similar publications.
Interest has been evinced chiefly in connection with the work of a
few explorers like Alexander Mackenzie, with the Astoria incident, and, above all, with the events arising from the settlement
commenced by Lord Selkirk on the Eed River in territory which
now forms part of the province of Manitoba. Publications which
appeared during the existence of the North West Company, such
as those bearing the names of Mackenzie and Selkirk and the
anonymous On the Origin and Progress of the North-West Company of Canada, while valuable, do not treat the later years of
the company. On the whole, the most notable work on the subject has been the prefatory "Esquisse" by Masson in the first volume of his work, Les bourgeois de la Compagnie du Nord-Ouest.
It is the author's hope that the following pages, while by no
means a complete history, may yet prove to be of some utility as
a study of-the origin, activities, and end of this famous partnership of fur traders. Some of the material treated has not been
utilized in previous works. But the final word will not be'said
until the business papers of the company come to light, providing
they are still in existence. Search for them in Canada and England has been unavailing. Valuable papers on this subject may
be contained in the archives of the Hudson's Bay Company in
London, but the present writer was unable to obtain permission
to. enter those preserves. The governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, Sir Thomas Skinner, stated that to the best of his knowl- Preface
edge, the business papers of the North West Company never came
into the possession of the organization of which he is the head.
But the existence in the Public Record Office of a copy of the bill
of sale of Astoria, sent by a previous governor of the Hudson's
Bay Company to the British government, encourages the hope
that some day other individual documents of interest may be
made accessible to students.
"North West Company" is the form of the name that regularly appears in contemporary manuscripts. It has therefore
been adopted in this study.
Thanks are due to A. G-. Doughty, Canadian Archivist; to E.
O. S. Scholefield, librarian of the Legislative Library of British
Columbia; and to C. H. Gould, librarian of McGill University,
for many courtesies extended. Acknowledgments for courteous
assistance and timely suggestions are due to members of the official staffs of the Canadian Archives; of the Parliamentary Library, Ottawa; of the legislative libraries of British Columbia,
Manitoba, and Ontario; of the Public Referenee Library, Toronto; of the University of Toronto Library; of the British Museum; of the Public Record Office, London; and of the Colonial
Office and Privy Council Office. Mention should also be made of
Mr. H. P. Biggar, agent in Great Britain for the Canadian Archives, whose knowledge of sources was freely placed at the writer's disposal. Copies of documents furnished by Mr. Bell, of
Winnipeg, were unfortunately lost by shipwreck when the Empress of Ireland went down.
The writer's acknowledgments are also due to several members of the staffs of the Library of the University of California
and of the Bancroft Library. He owes much to the various members of the Department of History of the University of Califor- 1
Preface
nia, particularly to Professor H. Morse Stephens, head of the department; to Professor Herbert E. Bolton and Dr. Charles Wilson Hackett, who have edited this monograph; and to Professor
P. J. Teggart. And especially the writer desires to express his
gratitude to the Order of the Native Sons of the Golden West,
whose generosity made possible his year of study in England.
Gordon Charles Davidson.
Berkeley, California,
June 6,1916.
EDITOR'S NOTE
WhUe this book has been in press the author, Dr. Davidson, now a lieutenant in the First Canadian Mounted Rifles, has been at the front in Franee,
and has therefore been unable to give it his personal attention. This absolves
him from responsibility for any shortcomings of editorial supervision which
the book may show.  CONTENTS
PAGES
Preface    v.vii
CHAPTER I
The Early Fur Trade and the Formation of the North West
Company 1-31
CHAPTER IT
Early Expeditions to the West 32-50
CHAPTER III
Mackenzie's Explorations    51-68
CHAPTER TV
The X Y Company 69-91
CHAPTER V
Further Advance Westward  92-117
CHAPTER VI
The Struggle with the Hudson's Bay Company 118-155
CHAPTER VII
Last Days of the North West Company 156-193
CHAPTER VIII
The Trade and Trading Methods of the North West Company .. 194-248
List of Authorities Cited  249-255
Appendices     256-329
General Index  330-340
Index of Geographical Names     341-349
ix
m • LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
1. A Map of America, Exhibiting the Principal Trading Stations of
the North West Company Frontispiece
2. Pond's Map in C. 0. 42, Vol. 47, p. 665 (Public Record Office) facing p. 32
3. Pond's Map, Additional MS., 15332D (British Museum) ... .facingp. 36
4. Travels of Captain Peter Pond facing p. 42
5. Notes on back of Map 4 facing p. 43
6. A Map of Part of the Indian Territories in North America, from
British Museum Maps 69917 (75) .\ facing p. 144 A—
H-
I-
J-
K-
L-
M-
N-
O-
P-
R-
S-
APPENDICES
pages
Report to General Haldimand on the North West Trade, 1780.. 256-259
-Memoir Accompanying Pond's Maps in the British Museum... .259-266
-Extracts from the Evidence of Thomas Ainslie Given before
the Board of Trade 266-270
-Canadian Fur Trade, Circa 1789    270-272
-State of the Fur Trade in 1790 272-274
-Alexander Mackenzie's Report of His Voyages to Lord Dorchester    274-276
-A Portion of the Manuscript Journal of Alexander Mackenzie
in the British Museum  276-277
-Memoir in Regard to the Fur /Trade, Circa 1794 277-279
Departments of the North West Company, Circa 1802 279-281
Canadian Fur Trade, 1793-1801  281-283
-Petition of the North West Company for a Charter 283-285
-Petition of the North West Company for a Charter 285-292
-BiU of Sale of Astoria to the North West Company 293-296
-Memorial of the Fur Traders in Regard to the American Boundary, 1814   296-301
-Events in the Interior During the Winter of 1820-1821  301-305
-Deed of Covenant Executed by the Hudson's Bay Company and
'the McGiUivrays and ElUee, 1821   305-307
-Fur Trade of Great Britain in 1800  308-324
-List of Ships Clearing from Quebec with Furs, 1786-1813 324-326
Official Values of the Trade of the Hudson's Bay Company with
Great Britain, 1772-1837   326-329
xi  CHAPTER-1
THE EARLY FUR TRADE AND THE FORMATION OF
THE NORTH WEST COMPANY
Since prehistoric times the skins of many of the animals of
frigid regions, with their cold-defying layer of fine hair, have
been worn by the inhabitants as a protection against the wintry
cold. Throughout historic times the finer, rarer, and more beautiful of-these furs have been articles of luxury or ostentation,
and there is record of their early use in China, in the ancient empires of the West, and through the Middle Ages to the present
time. The north of Europe and Asia long supplied the principal
furs, the Baltic ports being the centers of distribution. But the
discovery of America, with its numerous fur-bearing animals,
changed the current of the fur trade, and very greatly added to
the annual supply. Though the highly esteemed sables and ermines came only from Europe and Asia, yet America had the
beaver, then held in high esteem, the marten, the mink, several
choice varieties of fox, the raccoon, muskrat, and other small
fur-bearing animals, with the valuable fur seal and several larger
animals with skins of marketable value, and it thus offered a rich
field for adventure in this lucrative trade.
At an early date the Dutch East India Company established
an active fur trade, which centered at New Amsterdam and some
other points. This trade at a later date fell into the hands of the
English.1 At the same time the trade in furs was a source of
wealth to the dwellers of the St. Lawrence Valley. Around this
traffic clustered much of the romance and adventure of New
France. Not content with the policy of waiting for the Indians
to bring the furs down to the French settlements,2 young men,
fi
1 Encyclopaedia Americana, 1886, VIII, 169-170.
2 Three Rivers for a time was much frequented by the Indians of the
North and West.    At a later date Montreal largely monopoUzed this trade. 2 The North West Company
tired of the humdrum life of the habitant, took to the woods and
traded with the Indians. In time these men acquired a liking
for this type of life, which induced them to spend the remainder
of their days with their native friends. They adopted Indian
customs, married Indian wives, and became on occasion as fierce
and intractable as the Indians themselves. These men, the cou-
reurs du bois, as they were called, were lost to the steady growth
of the colony. On the other hand, they spread French influence
and, by their adaptability to conditions and native customs, a
liking for the French, up the St. Lawrence Valley and the Great
Lakes, into the valleys of the Ohio and the Mississippi, and out
over the prairie regions to the westward.
Failing in attempts to forbid this exodus, which was draining
New France of the most daring spirits among the younger generation, and which was even introducing difficulties in the path of
the laborers of the church, the authorities attempted regulation.
The country was divided into trading districts, and, to prevent
abuses, licenses were granted, which enabled the holders to carry
on the trade.8 It is difficult to ascertain with accuracy* the
amount of the furs collected from the several districts thus es-
Later still, posts were established in various parts of the interior. Each had
a commandant and a garrison and was of sufficient strength to repel native
attacks (Cf. Douglass, Summary, pt. I, 13).
8 The prohibition of the sale of Uquor to the natives did not apply to the
King's Posts, so Carleton reported in 1768 (Can. Arch. Beport, 1886, note D,
p. clxx).
4 Anderson, in discussing Dobbs' Argument of 1742, quotes his statement
that the Hudson's Bay Company's sales for 1743 were £33,296, including the
March sale of 1743_ (1744?), and estimates that, at the same rates, the peltry
from New Franee in the same year as given by Dobbs should have been
worth £120,000 sterUng (Anderson, Origin of Commerce, 2d ed., Ill, 236-
240). Sir Robert Shore Milnes, Ueutenant-governor of Lower Canada, writing to Lord Hobart, Oetober 30, 1802, referred to the monopoly of the
French East India Company in the export of beaver. He gave their price
to the Indian traders as four livres a pound for the green or winter beaver
and 1 livre 10 sols for the parchment or summer beaver, and remarked that
the entire value of furs exported never exceeded £140,000 sterUng, and was
often less, particularly in 1754, when it amounted to £64,000. In 1755 it was
£52,000, when it was considered a declining trade (B. T. 1, vol. 20, no. 2; also
Q. 89, p. 144, et seq., printed in Can. Arch Beport, 1892, note E, p. 136).
aoaattowm Early Fur Trade and Formation of the Company
3
tablished by the French.5 The value of the furs from Canada
under the French is stated to have been about 280,000 livres.6
The castor bills upon a French Canadian company trading in
1747 were paid at three months' sight.7
The British fur trade in Canada was recognized and regulated
by the charter granted in 1670 by Charles II to Prince Rupert,
the Duke of Albemarle, the Earl of Craven, and others, giving
them control of the trade, commerce, waters, and lands lying
within the entrance of Hudson's Straits which were not actually
possessed by the subjects of the English king or any other Christian prince or state. The company thus formed—it was usually
called the Hudson's Bay Company—had considerable difficulty
from French opposition during the first century of its existence.9
The capture of Canada by the British profoundly affected the
fur trade, the control of which now passed from the French.
Montreal was taken in the year 1760, and in the following spring
a few English and French traders sent goods to the borders of
Lake Superior.10 Some went as far west as Rainy Lake, where
they continued till the year 1763, when the post at Michilimackinae was taken by the Indians. This event, and the Indian war by
which it was occasioned, produced a temporary suspension of the
trade; and it was not till the year 1771 that British traders
could safely traffic as far as the Saskatchewan, on which river
5 Origin and Progress, 4.
6 For further information concerning the value of the fur trade see Canadian Archives Beport, 1892, pp. 136 et seq.
7 Douglass, Summary, pt. 1, 94.
* Beport of the Select Committee on the Boundaries between the Province
of Ontario and . . . Ottawa, 1880, p. 55.
9 Josiah Tucker, a pamphlet writer of the middle eighteenth century, stated that the French were able to undersell the EngUsh in all articles of fur
in times of peace. He said EngUsh monopoUes were the cause (J. R. McCul-
loch, A Select Collection of Tracts on Commerce, 328-329).
"It is stated that the French had a schooner on this lake which they
burned on the surrender of Canada (Gourlay, Statistical Account of Upper
Canada, 40).
^ The North West Company
the most remote of the French posts had been situated.11 The
subsequent progress of the fur traders in the interior corresponded with the wishes of the Indians to deal with them, and
with the success of the first enterprises in new regions.
At the close of the Seven Years' War, Great Britain was confronted with the problem of arranging for the government of a
large area of conquered territory in North America. The Proclamation of October 7, 1763, established the four governments, or
provinces, of Quebec, West and East Florida, and Grenada.- The
first of these comprised the valley of the St. Lawrence from the
western end of Anticosti to the forty-fifth parallel and Lake Nipissing. Labrador, Anticosti, and the Magdalen Islands were
attached to Newfoundland. All lands not in the foregoing jurisdictions, or within chartered grant of the Hudson's Bay Company, and all lands west or north of the streams flowing into the
Atlantic Ocean, were reserved as crown lands for the use of the
Indians. No colony might grant lands herein, and all settlers
were required to move ont. Moreover, private citizens were forbidden to purchase lands from the Indians within the settled
parts of the colonies. Trade with the Indians was permitted to
any person receiving a license from the governor or commander
in chief of the colony in which he resided. The licenses were to
be issued free of charge and were to contain a clause rendering
them void and forfeiting the security, which was required, in
case any regulations which might be imposed were not observed.
The French settlements in the Indian reserve were ignored.
Neither the military nor the Indian department was given control over them. Theoretically the old French law remained in
force. The government established by the military authorities
was therefore de facto and not de jure. The lack of civil government was recognized in the preamble to the Quebec Act.12
11 Origin and Progress, 5.
" The Proclamation is printed in Alvord and Carter, The Critical Period,
in Illinois Historical Collections, X, 39-45. Early Fur Trade and Formation of the Company
The foregoing arrangement was part of an attempt to develop
a more satisfactory policy in regard to Indian affairs, which had
its inception in 1755. Until that year the British government
had managed its Indian affairs through the different colonies
with little or no attempt at unification, and the results had been
far from satisfactory. In 1755, through the influence of Lord
Halifax, president of the Board of Trade, the government assumed political control over the Indians, creating a Southern and
a Northern Department and appointing a superintendent over
eaeh.   The Ohio River formed the dividing line.13
In 1764 Lord Hillsborough drew up a general plan for the
management of the Indians and the fur trade. The scheme safeguarded the chartered rights of the Hudson's Bay Company. It
provided for the continuation of the two stiperintendents, with
three deputies for the Northern and two for the Southern Department. All trade was to be conducted at regularly established
posts in the north and at the Indian towns in the south. Every
trader was obliged to have a license, the fee for which should not
exceed two shillings, with an additional registration fee of no
more than sixpence. He might have no dealings with the Indians
at other than these prescribed places. All trade was to be conducted at fixed schedules of prices. At each post in the north
and with eaeh tribe in the south were to reside a commissary, an
interpreter, and a smith. The superintendents and commissaries
were empowered to act as justices of the peace to determine causes
affecting Indians and traders. The latter were not to supply
liquor, swan shot, or rifles to the Indians, and efforts were to be
made to secure four missionaries for each district. To defray the
estimated cost of £20,000 a year for maintaining the plan, it was
proposed to place a tax on the fur trade. This last item would
have required the sanction of Parliament, whieh was not granted, but practically all of the provisions were adopted by the
13 Carter, The Illinois Country, 78-79. The North West Company
«*
superintendents. By 1768 the plan had proved too expensive,
however, and in that year the management of the fur trade was
restored to individual colonies.14
The application of these principles of handling the fur trade
in the province of Quebec may be traced, nevertheless, in the instructions issued to the governors. On December 7, 1763, Murray
was instructed to see that the terms of the Proclamations of October 7, 1763, which related to trade, were carried out. Carleton
received similar orders on the same date.15 The Quebec Act of
1774 extended the boundaries of that province on the east to include the lands which had been made part of Newfoundland since
February 10, 1763, and on the west along the bank of the Ohio
River to the banks of the Mississippi, and northward to the southern boundary of the territory granted to the Hudson's Bay Company.16 On January 3, 1775, Carleton was instructed in regard
to the extension of the limits of the province, the establishment of
inferior judicatures, and the appointment of a superintendent at
each of the posts. The limits of each post were to be fixed and
settlement beyond them was not to be'allowed, because it would
excite the Indians and destroy the peltry trade. The traffic, as under the Proclamation of 1763, was to be free to any subject of any
colony who might obtain from the governor of the same a
license, which would bind the applicant to obey regulations
made by the legislature of Quebec. A copy of the Plan of 1764
was annexed as a guide for making legal provisions, fixing
stated times and places for carrying on the fur trade, prescribing
modes for settling tariffs of the prices of goods and furs, restraining the sale of liquor to the Indians, and formulating other
regulations for the fur trade.17   Further instructions of the same
14 Carter, The Illinois Country, 80-81, 102.
15 Can. Arch. Beport, 1904, Appendix E, 206, 224.
1614 George III, C. 83.   The act is printed in Coffin, The Province of Quebec and the Early American Bevolution, 544-552.
17 Can. Arch. Beport,1904, Appendix E, 237-238; 242-247. Early Fur Trade and Formation of the Company
~l
date reminded the trader that all furs should be exported directly to the mother country.18 On May 26, 1785, Haldimand was
instructed to propose to the Legislative Council of Quebec an
ordinance preventing the exportation of peltry to the United
States and was to see that the Order-in-Council of April 8, 1785,
prohibiting the importation by sea of any "Goods, the Growth
or manufacture of the Countries belonging to the United States
of America,'' was enforced.19
The Constitutional Act having divided Quebec into the two
provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, Dorchester, in his capacity as governor of Lower Canada, was instructed on September
16, 1791, in the same terms regarding the Indian trade as in
Article 32 of his instructions of January 3, 1775, with the exception that regulations for the '' Peltry Trade of the Interior Country" were to be imposed by the legislature of Lower Canada
and no reference was made to the Plan of 1764.20 The same orders were issued to succeeding governors of Lower Canada, including Dalhousie, whose instructions were dated April 13,1820.21
The Proclamation of 1763 is cited throughout in regard to licenses.
On September 16, 1791, identical orders in regard to the fur
trade were issued to Dorchester, in his capacity as governor of
Upper Canada, as were given to him for Lower Canada, with the
exception that the legislature of Upper Canada should make the
needful regulations for that branch of commerce.22 On December 15, 1796, it was directed that the governor of Upper Canada
should manage the Indian affairs of that province.23    Instruc-
lsCan. Arch. Beport, 1904, Appendix E, 249-250. Acts of 3 Anne, 4 Anne,
8 Geo. I, 4 Geo. Ill, and 6 Geo. Ill are cited.
"Ibid., 266.
20 Can. Arch. Beport, 1905,1,15.
-ilbid., I. 39, 46-49.
I Ibid., I, 66.
53 Ibid., I, 70. 8
The North West Company
tions similar to those of 1791, including those to Dalhousie of
April 13, 1820,24 were issued to succeeding governors of Upper
Canada.
A few years after the conquest of Canada, the French system
of traffic was laid aside as inconsistent with the principles of freedom of trade; and,except to one district.25no more exclusive privileges were granted.26 This plan obviated a certain amount of
favoritism on the part of those in authority, but it gave opportunity for violent and lawless conduct on the part of the traders.
Much trading was now done in regions where missionaries and
other churchmen had no control. This situation facilitated the
use of liquor. Licenses were still granted, of course, and meant a
certain amount of supervision, but they were in the nature of permits rather than monopolies.
At the beginning of the English trade, it was conducted entirely by the unsupported efforts of individuals. The trader who
passed one winter with a newly discovered nation or band of Indians, or in some spot favorable to his traffic, heard of Indians
still more remote, among whom provisions might be obtained
and trade pursued, with little danger of competition. He therefore moved to their neighborhood and, while he was suffered to
remain alone, generally preserved good order and obtained furs
at a reasonable rate.27 But, as every person had an equal right
to sell goods at the same place, the first discoverer of an eligible
situation soon saw himself followed by other traders who were
ready to undersell him. Thus circumstanced, he, in his turn, resorted to every means for securing to himself the preference of
the Indians and for injuring his competitors. Such conduct provoked retaliation. The Indians were bribed with liquor, and the
goods were bartered away for a consideration below their value.
i4 Can. Arch. Beport, 1905, I, 82, S4-86.
55 Probably Selkirk refers to the King's Posts.
56 Selkirk, Sketch. 4.
57 Origin and Progress, 6.
saaeaoattaaaaaaoaaosgsBB
BBGOOE Early Fur Trade and Formation of the Company 9
The consequence was that the traders ruined one another, the
Indians were corrupted, and the English character was brought
into contempt. In the struggle,28 innumerable disorders took
place and blood was often spilt,29 till at length, after a competition injurious to all parties, mutual interests suggested the necessity of establishing a common concern, subject to general rules.
Accordingly, in 1779, persons composing nine distinct interests30 became parties to an agreement for one year, by virtue
"Until 1778, at least, it had been the custom that the last outfitter of a
trader should be the first one paid, after which the other creditors, whether
of two or twenty years' standing, should share alike (Add. 21759, f. 1).
" Origin and Progress, 6.
3" Under date of Quebec, April 24, 1780, Charles Grant wrote a memorandum on the North West trade to Haldimand. At the end is the note: "The
North West is divided into sixteen shares, all which form but one Company
at this time. Todd & McGiU, 2 shares; Ben. & Jos. Frobisher, 2 do; McGiil
& Paterson, 2 do; McTavish & Co., 2 do; Holmes & Grant, 2 do; Wadden &
Co., 2 do; McBeath & Co., 2 do; Ross & Co., 1 do; Oakes & Co., 1 do" (Add.
21759, f. 82). The memorandum has been printed in full in Can. Arch Beport, 1888, pp. 59-61. The above are apparently the nine interests mentioned
by the author of the Origin and Progress.
A petition to Haldimand, dated Montreal, May 11, 1780, stated that the
trade beyond Grand Portage had been for several years of the annual value
of £50,000 sterUng. Nearly three hundred men were engaged in it, who usually reached Grand Portage from the interior between June 10 and July 10.
The petition was signed by J. Porteous, Holmes & Grant, Simon McTavish,
Charles Grant, Todd & McGiU, Benjamin & Joseph Frobisher, McGiU & Paterson, Forrest Oakes, George McBeath, and Adam Lymburner (Can. Arch.
Beport, 1886, pp. 61-62). John Porteous died June 13, 1789 (Can. Arch.
Beport, 1889, p. xvi).
In a petition to Haldimand dated Montreal, May 1, 1779, requesting
passes for canoes to Lake Superior and beyond, it was stated that there were
upwards of eight hundred men employed in that trade. The petitioners
represented that the canoes took six weeks to go from Lachine to Grand
Portage (Add. 21877, ff. 60-61). Haldimand granted passes for twenty
canoes, although Grant and Patterson tried to have the number raised to
twenty-six, alleging that the extra canoes were needed for provisions. The
list they submitted enumerated 26 canoes, manned by 208 men and carrying
3640 gaUons of rum, 260 gallons of wine, 260 firearms, 64 cwt. of powder,
and 100 cwt. of ball and shot, which apparently were the quantities authorized. Of this list 18 canoes manned by 144 men, and carrying 2520 gallons
of rum, 180 gallons of wine, 180 firearms, 44 cwt. of powder, and 68 cwt. of
baU and shot, were destined for Grand Portage under the proprietorship of
Todd, Frobisher, Paterson & Co.; McBeath, McTavish, Bennerman & Co.;
Wm. & John Kay; John Ross & Co.; Venance St. Germain & Co.; Porteous
& Sutherland; and Forrest Oakes (Add. 21877, ff. 62-63).
- 10
The North West Company
of which the whole trade was rendered common property.31 The
success32 which attended this measure led, in the succeeding year,33
to a second and nearly similar contract, to which a further duration of three years was given.34 As the parties to this agreement
were less anxious, however, to fulfill it while it lasted than to prepare themselves for the event of its termination and for the consequent return of things to the original state of competition, all
the benefit expected from it was not obtained, and at the end of
two years it was renounced.33 The separate traders renewed for
a time their feeble and unprofitable efforts ;86 but the value of the
principles upon which the two agreements had been founded was
81 It was stated in print at a later date that this organization bore the
name of the North West Company of Canada (A Narrative of Occurrences
.  .  . , London, 1817, p. 57).
82 The Northwest merchants seem to have gotten into distinctly bad odor
with the authorities about this time. Sinclair, writing from Michilimackinae
to Captain Brehm on May 29, 1780, said: "The N. West society are not better than they ought to be. Their conduct in sending an Embassy to Congress in '76 may be traced now to matters more detrimental, I believe, to
every One of the King's Provision Stores, on the Communication. I have all
their Craft in from Lake Superior, St. Mary's &c, but one which will be
brought in or destroyed the ensuing Week. I'hope the Genl. wiU grant them
no passes without insisting on their bringing in the King's Stores from the
Portage. Lt. Bennet of the 8th can inform the Genl. of the disposition of
the Indians in that Quarter. They obtained indulgence from Genl. Carleton
for the worst purposes in the world. ..." (Add. 21757-2, ff. 366-367).
83 This reads as if this company was fortunate enough not to have its furs
on the "Haldimand," whieh was lost on its way down the St. Lawrence in
1780 with a valuable cargo of furs (Haldimand to Germaine, Quebec, November 20, 1780, Add. 21715, ff. 10-12; also B. 55, p. 18 et seq.)
84 Origin and Progress, 6-7.
ssIbid., 7. Between July 31 and Oetober 22, 1782, twenty-five canoes
manned by 218 men passed the Petit Carillon on their way to Montreal
from Grand Portage. Of these canoes Benjamin and Joseph Frobisher
owned ten, Holmes and Grant owned four, Forrest Oaks one, Mr. Beath
(perhaps this means McBeath) owned three, and a Mr. Dawiseh, or Davison, owned five (Add. 21790, ff. 54-55, 74-75, 94-95). These all passed
between August 24 and September 17.
36 The agents of the North West Company, writing in 1784, stated that at
the end of 1782 there were no mare than twelve interests left in the fur trade
to the North West. The terms in which they wrote convey the impression
that these twelve interests were the ones which formed the union of 1783-4
(Benjamin and Joseph Frobisher to Haldimand, Montreal, October 4, 1784,
Add. 21877, ff. 398-401; also copy in C. O. 42 vol. 47). Early Fur Trade and Formation of the Company
LI
generally acknowledged, and in the winter of 1783-1784 a third
agreement of five years37 was entered into under the name of the
North West Company.** The merchants of Montreal, who recognized the value of combination, were largely responsible for the
formation of the company, in which the leading persons were
Messrs. Benjamin*9 and Joseph Frobisher and Simon McTavish.
The main principle of the arrangement was that the separate capitals of the several traders were to be thrown into a common
stock, in consideration of which each individual held a proportionate share of the combined adventure.40
Mackenzie states that smallpox had been destroying large
numbers of the natives and seriously reducing the proceeds of
the fur trade, insomuch that the fur traders and their friends
from Canada became confined to two parties, who began seriously
to think of making permanent establishments on the Missinipi41
River, and in Athabasca. For this purpose they selected their
best canoe-men in 1781-1782 and sent them forth, unaware of the
fact that the smallpox had penetrated in that direction. The most
expeditious of the adventurers got only as far as Portage La
37 The length of the agreement is also given as five years in a petition for
Haldimand's consideration addressed to Mabane by 'Benjamin Frobisher
(Montreal, April 19, 1784, Add. 21735, ff. 421-424, printed in Can. Arch.
Beport, 1888, pp. 63-64). The petition announced an intention of exploring
for a route north of Grand Portage and asked for a monopoly over it for
seven years.   The reply was non-committal (Add. 21723, ff. 78-79).
** Origin and Progress, 7, which, however, gives the date of the formation
of this company as 1784. It is possible that the author was thinking of the
acceptance by the wintering partners at Grand Portage in the spring of that
year. It may even be argued that he had knowledge that the agreement was made
in the early months of 1784. In this connection it may be noted that Cruikshank has stated that the company was formed in October, 1783. Cf. Canadian Institute, Transactions, V, 75. He does not, however, give any authority for his statement. The date which it seems safest to adopt is "the winter of 1783-4," given by Mackenzie (Voyages, London ed., 1801, p. xvU).
*• Benjamin Frobisher died April 14, 1787, and was buried two days later
(Can. Arch Beport, 1885, Note A, p. xciv). A copy of the register of the
Anglican parish of Montreal is printed in this volume.
40 Selkirk, Fur Trade, 10-11.
" The ChurchUl. North
Company
Loche, or Mithy-Ouinigam, in time to dispatch to that country
one canoe, strongly manned and lightly laden. These men found
that the ravages of the smallpox extended in every direction, and
they were compelled to return in the spring with only seven pack-'
ages of beaver. The woods and mountains gave safety to those natives 'who fled from the contagion of the plains, but they were so
alarmed at the general destruction that they avoided the traders
and were too dispirited to do more hunting than was required
for their subsistence. The traders, however, who went back into
the country in the year 1782-1783 found the inhabitants in some
sort of tranquillity and more numerous than they had reason to
expect, so that their returns were proportionately better.42
The stock of the North West Company as founded in 1783-
178443 was divided into sixteen shares, no capital being deposited.
Each party furnished a proportion of the articles necessary for
the trade and agreed to satisfy his friends in the country who
were not provided for in the agreement, out of the shares which
he held. The two houses of Messrs. Benjamin and Joseph Frobisher and Mr. Simon McTavish had the general management, for
42 Mackenzie, Voyages, xvii.
43 Captain (later Lieutenant-Colonel) Cruikshank, in an article published
in the Canadian Institute Transactions, is more specific in certain points.
He writes as follows: "The original Northwest Fur Company, called the
'sixteen share concern,' had dissolved at the end of a single year. In 1781,
a new company, known as the 'three share concern,' was formed for one year,
which did not, however, embrace the EngUsh River nor Mississippi within the
scope of its operations. The success of this enterprise was sufficient to convince the merchants generally of the benefits of combination, and the number of adventurers trading in the Northwest had in the meantime been reduced to twelve. Consequently, in October, 1783, a general partnership was
agreed upon for five years, in which each stockholder was assigned an interest in proportion to his previous trade. The stock was divided into fifteen
shares of which 9% were allotted to non-residents. The expectations of
profit were then so limited that one of the old traders readily accepted an
offer of an annuity of 4000 livres (£166,135, 4d. currency) in lieu of dividends. He lived to see a clear profit of £2000 sterUng derived from a single
share." So far I have not been able to determine whence Cruikshank got his
precise information in regard to the date of the formation of the company,
the allotment of the shares, and the figures quoted in regard to the value of
the shares. Early Fur-Trade and Formation of the Company
13
which they were to receive a stipulated commission on all transactions.44 The company was purely a partnership with transferable shares and not a chartered company, although attempts were
made at a later date to obtain a charter granting exclusive trade
in the Pacific and Mackenzie basins. The firm was probably not
incorporated, and of course was not a limited liability company.
It was rather what has been termed a common-law company, a
type existing in both the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Such companies were regarded with legal disfavor on account of
their irresponsibility, and, in the middle of the nineteenth century, steps were taken to make them suable by public officers. Besides the responsibility of its individual members for their own
acts, the North West Company might conceivably have been controlled by a judicious use of the governmental power of granting
or withholding trading licenses.
In the spring of 1784, two of the agents45 went to Grand Portage with their credentials, which were confirmed and ratified by
all the parties having an option except Peter Pond, who was not
satisfied with the share allotted to him. Accordingly, he and
Peter Pangman, who had a right to be a partner but for whom
44 Mackenzie, Voyages, xviii. These brief remarks by Mackenzie form
the basis of our knowledge of the North West Company's organization at
this date. In a letter dated Montreal, October 4, 1784, from Benjamin and
Joseph Frobisher to Haldimand, it is stated that Article 32 of the Agreement of Partnership of the North West Company said that the Articles were
to be registered "at the Secretaries Office for this Province at Quebec, for
the inspection of the pubUc." Inquiry at Quebec and elsewhere has faUed
to eUcit any information in regard to sueh registration. From the wording
of the letter it would appear as if the stipulation of Artiele 32 had not up
to this time been fulfilled. Possibly it never was fulfilled. Numbers of the
early records at Quebec have been destroyed by fire, and others are not fuUy
catalogued, making search difficult.
48 These were Joseph Frobisher and Simon MeTavish. They started in
the month of May. Benjamin Frobisher wrote to Major Mathews on May
10, 1784, that the canoes would probably all be off by the middle of the
month. He asked that the above agents be given power at the Great Carrying Place "to send sueh persons away, as have been guilty of crimes or disturb the peace, or prove mutinous" (Add. 21735-2, ff. 446-447). It does not
appear whether they received the power. 14
The North West Company
no provision had been made, came to Canada with the determination to return to the fur country if they could find any persons to
join them and give their scheme a proper support.46
The consolidation of the competing interests encouraged the
traders resident in the upper country. Having every reason to
expect that their past and future labors would be recompensed,
they forgot all their former animosities and engaged with the utmost spirit and activity, so that in the following year they met the
agents at Grand Portage with good returns from the interior.47
But they were mortified to find that Pangman48 had persuaded
Messrs. Gregory and McLeod to join him with their support, although the latter were deserted by Pond, who had accepted the
terms offered by his former associates.49 Alexander Mackenzie,
who had been employed in Gregory's counting-house for five years
and was now at Detroit, was admitted as a partner to the concern
at the instance of Gregory. Mackenzie, on being informed of the
offer, promptly accepted it and took his departure for Grand
Portage.
A severe struggle for trade now commenced, and was marked
by acts of violence.50 The murder of Ross, one of the opposition
partners, came as a shock to both parties, although intimidatory
firing had previously occurred. The North West Company, fearing the consequences of the deed, was now willing to come to
40 Mapkenzie, Voyages, xix.
47 Ibid.
48 A Ust of the traders to the Upper Country, apparently compUed in 1785,
gives the following information: The interest trading to Grand Portage
were: Todd & McGill, Benjamin & Joseph Frobisher, George McBeath, Laurence Ermatinger, McTavish & Bannerman, Ross & Pangman, Waden & St.
Germain, WiUiam & John Kay, Mnr. Blondeau, Charles Grant, Adam Lym-
burner, Forrest Oakes, Peter Pond, Bruee, McGiU & Paterson. Those trading to Lake Superior were: John & WiUiam Grant, Alexander Shaw, Ezl.
Solomon, Jobert and St. Germain, Monsr. Cotts, Monsr. Desriviers, Monsr.
Louis Chabollez, Monsr. Perinault, Monsr. Charles Chabollez, James Finlay,
Mr. Cadotte, and Mr. Henry (Add. 21885, f. 350).
49 Mackenzie, Voyages, xix.
60 Consult Masson, Esquisse, 21-31, for detaUs of the struggle. Early Fur Trade and Formation of the Company
15
terms. The opposition, which had been operating at a loss, asked
for nothing better, and a union of interests was concluded in
July, 1787.51 Then for a few years there was fairly united action
on the part of the Canadian fur trading interests in the interior
of the country.
The method of operations is worthy of some attention. The
company was a self-erected concern, which assumed the name of
the North West Company and was no more than an association
of commercial men, agreeing among themselves to carry on the
fur trade unconnected with any other business, though many of
the parties engaged had extensive interests altogether foreign to
it. It may be said to have been supported entirely upon credit,
for whether the capital belonged to the proprietor or was borrowed, it bore interest, for whieh the association was annually
accountable. There were twenty shares, unequally divided
among the parties concerned. Of these a certain proportion was
held by the persons who managed the business in Canada and were
styled agents of the company. Their duty was to import the
necessary goods from England, store them at their own expense
at Montreal, get them made up into the articles suited to the
trade, pack and forward them, and supply the funds that might
be wanting for the outfits; for this they received, independent of
the profits on their shares, a commission on the amount of the
accounts, which they were obliged to make out annually, keeping
the adventure of each year complete. Two agents went annually to Grand Portage, to manage and transact the business there
and on the communication52 at Detroit, Michilimackinae, St.
Marys, and Montreal, where they received stores, and packed up
and shipped the company's furs for England. On this they
also had a small commission.
51 Mackenzie, Voyages, xx.
32 Previous to 1792, the portage at Niagara was from opposite Queens-
town to Fort Schlusser. Later it was from Queenstown to Chippewa (Maude,
Visit to the Falls of Niagara in 1800, p. 144). «fe
16
The North West Company
The remaining shares were held by the proprietors, who were
obliged to winter and manage the business of the concern with the"
Indians, the respective clerks, and others. These proprietors were
not supposed to be under any obligation to furnish capital, or
even credit. If they obtained any capital by the trade, it was to
remain in the hands of the agents, and the proprietors were allowed interest for it. Some of them, from long service and influence, held double shares, and were allowed to retire from the business at any period of the existing concern, each with one of these
shares, and with the privilege of naming any young man in the
company's service to succeed him in the other. Seniority and
merit were, however, considered as affording a claim to the succession, which nevertheless could not be disposed of without the
concurrence of the majority of the concern, who at the same time
relieved the retiring person from any responsibility respecting
the share that he transferred, and accounted for it according to
the annual value and rate of the property, so that the seller could
have no advantage but that of realizing the share of stock whieh
he retained, and receiving for the transferred share what was fairly determined to be the worth of it. The seller was also discharged
from all duty and became a dormant partner. Thus all the young
men who were not provided for at the beginning of the contract,
succeeded in turn to the character and advantages, of partners.
Under such expectations they entered into the company's service
for five or seven years, and their reasonable prospects were seldom disappointed; there were, indeed, instances in which they
succeeded to shares before their apprenticeship expired, and it
frequently happened that they were provided for while they were
in a position of articled clerkship. Shares were transferable onlyto
the concern at large, since no person could be admitted as a partner who had not served his time in the trade. The dormant partner, indeed, might dispose of his interest to anyone he chose, but
if the transaction were not acknowledged by his associates, the Early Fur Trade and Formation of the Company
17
purchaser could be regarded only as his agent or attorney. Every
share had a vote, and two-thirds formed a majority.
This regular and equitable mode of providing for the clerks of
the company excited among them a spirit of emulation in the discharge of their various duties and, in fact, made every agent a
principal who perceived his own prosperity to be connected immediately with that of his employers.53 Masson states that the
agents of the company at Montreal and Grand Portage were to be
McTavish, Frobisher, and Gregory. They were to furnish the
funds and make the necessary purchases and financial arrangements for a commission of five per cent besides their shares in the
profits of the company. He also notes that, since the union had
taken place late in the year, after the departure of a large portion of the winter outfits for the interior, it was determined to
leave eaeh company in charge of its own property until the arrival of the brigades at their respective destinations, when an inventory should be taken. One result of this decision was that
there were few changes in the locating of the partners.54
It is difficult to determine closely the returns of the fur trade
of the North West Company at this, or indeed at any period of
its existence. There are, however, various estimates and figures
in regard to the Canadian fur trade as a whole which are of interest. Brissot de Warville states that the sales in London of furs
from Canada in 1782 produced four million seven hundred thousand livres tournois. In 1783 the total was somewhat greater,
and in 1784 it amounted to about five millions.55 Estimating the
livre at seven-eighths of an English shilling, this would give upwards of £218,750 in the latter year. According to Anderson, in
1782 the amount of the spring sales in London of Canada furs
and peltry sent over the preceding year was £189,000.56    The
58 Mackenzie, Voyages, xxi-xxii.
54 Masson, Esquisse, 31.
65 Brissot de WarviUe, Travels, 2d ed., London, 1794, p. 214.
x Anderson, Origin of Commerce, 2d ed., XV, 441. The North West Company
sale produced £165,000 in 1783,57 £201,000 in 1784,58 £242.000 in
1785,59 and £173.000 in 1786.60 The large returns from the sales
of 1784 and 1785 are noteworthy.
In a memorandum addressed to Carleton, January 20, 1778,
it was stated that the annual returns from the trade west of
Grand Portage fell little short of £40,000 sterling and that nearly
five hundred persons were employed in it.61 A memorandum on
the trade by way of the Grand62 River, apparently written in
1780,63 stated that the fur trade of the province of Quebec produced each year on an average £200,000 worth of furs, of which
at least one-half came from Michilimackinae and its dependencies.
The trade required one hundred canoes, each navigated by eight
men. Each of the canoes, including transportation charges from
England to the Indian country, was worth £700 currency. Of
these hundred canoes, a' third were necessary for the Northwest,
and the remainder for lakes Huron and Michigan, and La Baye
(Green Bay). The traders to the former section, who were mostly old subjects,64 had been allowed forty canoes in the preceding
years and were stated to have sent four loaded canoes to Michilimackinae for distribution in the latter section, whieh had been
allowed only twenty canoes.65 An accompanying memorandum
states that the trade to the upper country by way of lakes Ontario
and Erie had an average annual volume of £50,000 and required
■   3T Anderson, Origin of Commerce, TV, 521.
58 Ibid., TV, 568.
39 Ibid., TV, 598.
00 Ibid., TV, 627.
61 Add. 21759, ff. 1-2.   ■
021, e., the Ottawa.
68 It is undated but is in a volume, Add. 21759, in whieh the dated papers
range from 1778 to 1782. The memorandum states that forty canoes had
been allowed to go to the Northwest and twenty canoes to La Baye, etc., the
preceding year. Now it appears (Add. 21759, f. 71) that these numbers
were true for the year 1779.
641, e., French.
65 Add. 21759, ff. 140-141.
566BB9GSSMMH
EXMOOOC
«**■- Early Fur Trade and Formation of the Company
19
two hundred batteaux men from La Chine to Carleton Island.66
Charles Grant, reporting to Haldimand in 1780, likewise estimated the total value of the trade at £200,000 sterling and said he
was informed that from ninety to one hundred canoes had been
used annually by the Ottawa River route. He added that one-
half of the furs came from Lake Huron and the districts beyond;
one-fourth from Niagara, Detroit, and their environs; and one-
fourth from the lower posts and inhabited parts of the province
of Quebec.67
A petition to Haldimand dated Montreal, April 19, 1781, requesting permission to purchase five hundred bushels of corn at
Detroit for the Northwest trade, stated that the annual value of
that trade to the province was £30,000 sterling.68 A later writer gave the same value for the returns in 1784.69 Hay, writing
from Detroit in 1784, said that furs to the value of £100,000 sterling had been sent out that year from Detroit.70
A committee of the Montreal merchants reported in 1787 that
the Indian trade owed a debt of probably more than £300,000
sterling to the merchants of the province of Quebec, chiefly of
Montreal. Of this amount £125,000 was owed from Cataraqui to
Detroit and its dependencies; the remainder came from Michilimackinae and its dependencies, which included all the country
west and north of the east shore of Lake Huron. The committee
estimated the total annual value of furs from Michilimackinae
and Detroit, with their dependencies, to be not short of £160,000
sterling, of which three-fifths came down by the Grand River71
and two-fifths by the lakes. They therefore strongly urged the
retention of the posts.72
06 Add. 21759, ff. 138-139.
67 B, 99, pp. 110 et seq.
68 Add. 21877, f. 184.
69 Origin and Progress, 9.
70 Hay to Nepean, Detroit, September 1, 1784, Q. 56, pp^ 564 et seq.
711, e., the Ottawa.
72 Committee of Merchants of Montreal to Committee of CouncU on Commercial Affairs and Police, Montreal, January 23, 1787, CO. 42, vol. 11,
Dorchester (No. 5) Enclosure C, pp. 41-42. «*
20
The North West Company
All these furs were paid for with English manufactures, and
the fourth part of them were prepared in England, by which
their value was doubled. Naturally a large proportion of the
furs did not come from the sphere of operations of the North
West Company. Part of the sales of 1784 were no doubt made
by agents of the North West Company in London, but even these
furs can hardly be said to have been traded for under the auspices of that firm, whieh did not definitely take charge of the operations in the interior until the meeting at Grand Portage in
that year. However, the company sent down in 1784 eight hundred packs of furs, whieh apparently composed its returns for
the season.73
The value of each canoe-load, on arrival at Michilimackinae,
had been estimated in 1780 to be £660 currency, or $2640. This
shows that the cost of transportation by the Ottawa was $640 for
each canoe, the value at Montreal having been $2000.74 In April,
1784, Benjamin Frobisher wrote that there were ready to be sent
78 Captain Robertson to Captain Mathews, MichUimackinac, August 19,
1784, Add. 21758, f. 317; also B, 98, p. 278 Sf seq.
74 This estimate was that in the report of Charles Grant to Haldimand as
printed in Can. Arch. Beport, 1888 (Note E, pp. 59-61). Grant stated that
a canoe-load of goods was reckoned to be worth in dry-goods £300 first sterUng cost in England. Charges at fifty per cent would make this £450. Besides this each canoe carried about 200 gallons of rum and wine, worth about
£50 more. Thus every canoe on its departure from Montreal might be said
to be worth £500 Quebee currency. The charges of all sorts from Montreal
to Miehilimackinac were £160, and from thence to Grand Portage £90, making a value for eaeh canoe at MichUimaekinac of £660 and at Grand Portage
of £750 currency. Eaeh canoe was manned by eight men for transportation
of the goods. If wintering, they took up ten men (Add. 21759, ff. 81-82).
The apparent discrepancy in Grant's report, where he changes his monetary
standard from" sterling to Quebee currency, has been passed over by WiUson,
who does not quote the first estimates of values. In fact, it looks as if he
had copied directly from Brymner's statement in Can. Arch. Beport, 1890,
p. xxvi, only omitting the name of Grant (Cf. WiUson, The Great Company,
11,66).
Writing in 1784, Frobisher stated that freight by the Ottawa route was
generaUy estimated at about twenty-five per cent on canoes assorted for the
trade, but provisions or other articles of Uttle value required from fifty to
sixty livres in freight to MichUimackinac, and from eighty to ninety livres
to Grand Portage (Benjamin Frobisher to Hamilton, Montreal, May 2, 1785,
C. O. 42, vol. 47; also Q, 24-2, pp. 423 et seq.). Early Fur Trade and Formation of the Co
mpany
21
"1
off twenty-eight canoes, valued at £20,000 currency, or $80,000, a
sum for each canoe largely in excess of the estimate of four years
before.75
In 1779 a partnership of traders, termed a "General Store,"
was formed at Michilimackinae.76 According to an undated list,
probably compiled in 1780, this store was composed of thirty-
eight individuals and companies who contributed an estimated
number of 34% canoe-loads of goods.77 A union of the traders
at Michilimackinae was formed in 1785 by the pooling of stocks.
This organization was spoken of two years later as the '' Michilimackinae Company.' '78
The goods given in barter for furs are of interest. Anburey,
in a letter written at Montreal in 1776, stated that the traders
took with them brandy, tobacco, a kind of duffle blanket, guns,
powder and ball, kettles, hatchets, tomahawks, looking-glasses,
vermillion and various other paints. Lord Sheffield, writing in
1784, adds to the list coarse woollens, cutlery, beads, ribbons, and
other ornaments.79 The Indians were especially eager to obtain
powder, ball, paint, brandy, and tobacco. The guns were attractively fitted up; but since they were by no means fool-proof,
accidents were common from bursting firearms. The Indians on
occasion took revenge by attacking the first traders they could
lay hands upon.80
The furs from a certain amount of United States territory were
also going through Canada to Europe.81   This was particularly
76 WiUson, The Great Company, II, 109.
78 De Peyster to Haldimand, MichiUmackinae, October 5, 1779, Can. Arch.
Beport, 1886, p. 703.
77 Add. 21757-2, ff. 577-578.
78 Joseph Howard to the Committee of Merchants at Montreal, Montreal,
January 11, 1787, Dorchester (No. 5) Enclosure C, p. 78.   C. O. 42, vol. 11.
"Sheffield, Observations on the Commerce of the American States, new
ed., 33.
80 Anburey, Travels, 1,126-128.
81 McGiU, writing in 1785, stated that he estimated the value of the Upper Country trade—in which he included the country from the mouth of the
mm 22
The North West Company
the case in the territories in whieh the Indians were supplied
with goods from the posts retained by the English after the
treaty of peace in 1783, which retention the English justified on
the ground that the Americans themselves had not fulfilled certain articles of the treaty.82 These furs were not handled by the
North West Company, although various of its members were also
interested in the trade. The North West Company appears at
this time to have been tapping United States territory only at
Grand Portage and, possibly, at Fond du Lac. South of this, the
furs went out- by way of Michilimackinae83 or down the Mississippi. The Spaniards, according to Imlay, controlled the Missouri trade and that toward the Wisconsin and Illinois rivers
from the post of St. Louis.84
The company employed two sets of men in transportation,
making over five hundred in all. Of these men, one-half were engaged in transporting the goods from Montreal to Grand Portage
in canoes of about four tons burden, each manned by eight or ten
men. The other half were employed \in transporting the goods
inland from Grand Portage in canoes of about one and one-half
tons burden, manned by four or five men only. The large canoes
left Montreal in May and followed the Ottawa River route. At
Michilimackinae they took an additional supply, of provisions,
part of which was intended for use on the inland transport, and
part for consumption at Grand Portage. The quantity required
was so large that part had to be forwarded across Lake Superior
in boats or a ship.   All supplies had to be at Grand Portage early
Ohio and on the rivers falling into the Mississippi to as far north as Lake
Arabaska—at £180,000 currency. Of this £100,000 came from the country
south of the American line (James McGiU to Hamilton, Montreal, August 1,
1785, Q, 25, pp. Ill et seq., printed in Can. Arch Beport, 1890, pp. 56-58).
82 Notification of this policy was sent to Haldimand by Sydney under date
of London, April 8, 1784 (Can.. Arch. Beport, 1885, p. 286, cataloguing B,
45, pp. 129 et seq.).
83 In spite of complaints of a poor season by the traders, nearly 4000
packs came down by way of Miehilimaekinac in 1773 (Add. 2173, f. 25).
84 Imlay, Description of the Western Territory, 3d ed., 501. Early Fur Trade and Formation of the Company
23
in July, and fifteen days were usually consumed in making the
ten-mile crossing.85 The parties for the interior generally left
the west end of the portage between July 15 and August 1. They
took a canoe-lading of about one-third provisions and two-thirds
trading goods. They were therefore compelled to depend in part
upon provisions obtained from the natives en route. As a result,
there was at times much suffering and privation on these inland
trips, and the situation was likely to be worse on the trips out in
the spring.80
According to the settlement of 1784, the North West Company had in the interior, exclusive of its houses and stores at the
different posts, property to the value of £25,303-3-6 currency, and
it planned to send inland the next year from Montreal goods
amounting in value to nearly the same sum.87
The volume, personnel, and character of the trade is illustrated by the trade passes. The enumeration may be tedious, but the
showing is interesting and significant. Haldimand, in his report
of August 20, 1783, stated that there had been ninety-four applications for trade passes to date that season. Of these, three were
not allowed. The total value of the goods specified in the applications was £232,374-8-4, to be transported in 120 canoes and 347
batteaux by 2479 men. The licenses to Grand Portage were to
Simon McTavish, Holmes & Grant, Benjamin & Joseph Frobisher,
and Joseph Dejarlais & Baptiste Plante, for goods of a total value
of £9900. The first-named was allowed 6 canoes, 54 men, 500 gallons rum, 72 fusils, 2800 pounds gunpowder, 35 cwt. shot, etc.,
83 A request by the North West Company for a grant of land one acre in
width from Lake Superior to "Long Lake" for the purpose of constructing
a wagon road to obviate the need of using one hundred men at the portage,
was adversely reported on by the CouncU at Quebec on June 30, 1788. They
considered, however, that the company might be granted the monopoly of
transport there at a regulated rate (Q, 37, pp. 262-266).
88 Benjamin and Joseph Frobisher to Haldimand
1784, Add. 21877, ff. 398-401.
"Ibid.
i, Montreal, October 4,
II
11 24
The North West Company
valued at £4500. The second were allowed 3 canoes, 28 men, 200
gallons rum, 16 fusils, 600 pounds gunpowder, 10 cwt. shot, etc.,
valued at £1800. The third were allowed 5 canoes, 40 men, 680
gallons rum, 48 gallons wine, 32 fusils, 1160 pounds gunpowder,
11 cwt. shot, etc., valued at £3500. The fourth were allowed 1
canoe, 5 men, 60 gallons rum, 4 fusils, 70 pounds gunpowder, 1
cwt. shot, etc., valued at £100.
Permits to Lake Superior were granted to McBeath & Pond,
Charles Chaboillez, and Hypolite Desrivieres, the goods being
valued at £4000. There were also twenty-four passes to Michilimackinae, two passes to Temiseamingue for goods worth £4500,
one pass to Michipicoton for goods worth £450, and one pass to
Nipigon for goods worth £1500. J. B. Cadot had passes to Sault
Ste. Marie for £1000 worth of goods. John Gregory had a pass to
Detroit for £17,500 worth of goods and to Michilimackinae for
£960 worth. Benjamin & Joseph Frobisher, besides the pass to
Grand Portage, had others to Carleton Island, Niagara, and Detroit for £1800 worth, and to Michilimackinae for £630 worth,
while Joseph Frobisher had one to \ Detroit for goods worth
£2000.88
In the year 1785 there were issued forty-three passes for 108
canoes, 146 batteaux, 1644 men, 42,780 gallons rum, 7270 gallons
wine, 48,610 pounds powder, 1425 fusils, 839% cwt. shot, to a
value of £109,875. Of these the following were granted to Grand
Portage: On May 2, Pass No. 13 was issued to Gregory and McLeod, on the security of John Gregory and N. McLeod, for 4 canoes, 50 men, 400 gallons rum, 32 gallons wine, 1700 pounds
powder, 64 fusils, 20 cwt. shot, worth £2850. On May 3, Pass
No. 15 was issued to Benjamin & Joseph Frobisher, directors of
the North West Company, on the security of Benjamin Frobisher and James McGill, for 25 canoes, 260 men, 3500 gallons
rum, 340 gallons wine, 8000 pounds powder, 300 fusils, 120 cwt.
88 Haldimand to North No. 14, August 20, 1783, in C. O. 42, vol. 44. Early Fur Trade and Fortnation of the Company
shot, worth £20,000. On May 9, Pass No. 27 was issued to Joseph
Howard, on the security of J. Howard and Al. Hay, to Michilimackinae and Grand Portage for 3 canoes, 24 men, 500 gallons
rum, 100 gallons wine, 600 pounds powder, 24 fusils, 8 cwt. shot,
worth £550. On May 12, Pass No. 29 was issued to Donald McKay, on the security of D. McKay and Daniel Sutherland, for 2
canoes, 17 men, 100 gallons rum, 100 gallons wine, 700 pounds
powder, 20 fusils, 12 cwt. shot, worth £500. On May 19, Pass
No. 35 was issued to Pangman & Ross, on the security of John
Gregory and William Griffin, for 4 canoes, 40 men, 350 gallons
rum, 32 gallons wine, 1600 pounds powder, 36 fttsils, 18 cwt.
shot, worth £2775.89 These items are interesting because of the
active opposition trade whieh was started in 1785. It is probable
that, while not so mentioned in the return, the values given include dry goods and other articles for the trade besides those
whieh are given.
In the year 1786 there were sixty-seven licenses granted for
163 canoes, 163 batteaux, 2139 men, 56,324 gallons rum, 8950
gallons wine, 2010 fusils, 66,207 pounds powder, 899Vo cwt. ball
and shot, value £144,880. Of this list, there were licensed to
Grand Portage 41 canoes, 2 batteaux, 422 men, 4800 gallons rum,
584 gallons wine, 624 fusils, 12,600 pounds powder, 181 cwt.
shot, value £8500. The individual items follow: On May 18,
Benjamin and Joseph Frobisher, directors of the North West
Company, got a license, on the security of Benjamin Frobisher
and James McGill, to send to Grand Portage 2 batteaux and 9
men with a lading valued at £500. On June 17 they similarly
received a permit to send to Grand Portage 30 canoes, 300 men,
3000 gallons rum, 500 gallons wine, 500 fusils, 9000 pounds powder, 120 cwt. shot, value £2500. On May 20, Gregory & McLeod
received a permit, on the security of N. McLeod and James Fin-
lav  to send to Grand Portage 8 canoes, 83 men, 1600 gallons
' C. O. 42, vol. 47, p. 675. 26
The North West Company
rum, 64 gallons wine, 104 fusils, 2800 pounds powder, 45 cwt.
shot, value £4500. This was the company opposing the North
West Company. On May 22, McKay & Shaw received a permit,
on the security of A. Shaw and Alex. Robertson, to send to
Grand Portage 3 canoes, 30 men, 200 gallons rum, 20 gallons
wine, 20 fusils, 800 pounds powder, 16 cwt. shot, value £1500.
Besides the above, the Frobishers were interested in six other
licenses to trade to Cataraqui, Niagara, Michilimackinae, and the
Illinois. McGill was also widely interested. Hypolite Des-
rivieres was licensed for Lake Superior with two canoes and a
lading worth £1000. Cadot was scheduled for Sault Ste. Marie
with two canoes and a lading worth £1000. Leon St. Germain
was licensed to Michipicoton with one canoe and a lading worth
£500. There were three licenses to the St. Maurice aggregating
six canoes and ladings worth £500. Desrivieres and Beaubien
were licensed to Temiscamingue with eight canoes and goods
worth £1200. Except where stated, there is nothing to sIioav that
these men were connected with the North West Company.
Charles Chaboillez was licensed to Michilimackinae in the same
year, B. Frobisher being one of his backers. The Forsyths appear with interests in the trade at Michilimackinae, Detroit,
Niagara, and in the Miamis Company, of which the directors
were Askin, Mcintosh, and Leich.90
An abstract of the craft, men, and goods licensed to trade
with the Indians in the Upper Countries in the year 1787 recorded 116 canoes, 167 batteaux, 1766 men, 59,105 gallons of
rum, 1570 fusils, 47,893 pounds powder, 742 cwt. of shot; value
of the goods £97,972. A note stated that other items of merchandise besides those enumerated were included in this total.91
This must also have been true in preceding years.
"Enclosure in Hope's No. 32 of October 21, 1786, Q, 26-2, p. 563 a.
01 In Lord Dorchester's No. 44 of November 9, 1787, Q, 28, p. 187.   (More
particular details are not included.) Early Fur Trade and Formation of the Company 27
It was predicted that the cession of the posts in 1783 would
throw the fur trade into the hands of the United States.92 Sheffield advocated the drawback of all duties upon exportation of
furs from Great Britain, arguing that the furs intended for foreign consumption would otherwise all go through the United
States, and he even went so far as to advocate the removal of all
duties on the importation of furs certified to be the product of
the British North American colonies.8* The danger adverted to
by "Sheffield was met by a prohibition of the exportation of furs
from Quebec by land or to foreign European countries.94 Evidence was given before the Board of Trade in 1789 by Thomas
Ainslie, who had been collector of customs in the province of
Quebec for twenty-seven years, that the prohibition was strictly
enforced, but that some beaver was now and then smuggled into
the United States.05 He also stated that the Indians brought
nearly all their furs to Michilimackinae and a few to Detroit,
receiving in return strouds, blankets, all kinds of woollens, firearms, powder, shot, traps, flour, bread, wampum and other trinkets, and a small quantity of spirits.96 According to a return supplied by him, the value in the London market of the furs shipped
from Quebec in 1788 was £258,970-3-10y2.07
"Cf. Sheffield, Observations on the Commerce of the American States,
new ed., 1784, pp. 100-101.
w Ibid., 102.
91 This step was taken after Haldimand had given evidence before the
Board of Trade on Mareh 7, 1785, that he as governor had forbidden such
export and that in his opinion such a step was advisable. He remarked that
such a step would have the advantage of keeping down the price of furs to
the merchants. He was optimistic as to the prospects of retaining a large
share of the fur trade if smuggUng were guarded against. The committee
adopted a resolution recommending that the governor should recommend the
passing of the required ordinance to the Legislative Council (B. T. 5, vol. 2,
pp. 208-209). A similar resolution was passed March 14, 1785 (B. T. 5, vol.
2, pp. 220-221). On July 13, 1787. it was again resolved that Lord Dorchester should under no circumstances allow the export of peltry from the province of Quebec to the United States (B. T. 5, vol. 4, p. 325).
"B. T. 5, vol. 5, 233.
"Ibid., 228.
"Ibid., 250.
I!
■
i 28
The North West Company
The policy of the British government after the conquest, as
expressed in instructions to the governors of Quebec, was that
the fur trade should be open to every British subject provided
with a proper license.98 The traders were expected to observe
certain regulations in regard to supplying liquors99 and rifles—
the latter were forbidden—to the natives. Posts were to be established in the northern districts of America for trading purposes and were to be under military supervision. Such restrictions hardly applied to the North West Company, because the
government did not at that time establish posts west of Lake Superior. A detachment had been stationed at Grand Portage in
1777 and succeeding years to preserve order during the trading
period. This was done at the request of the merchants,100 who
bore part of the expenses, including the construction of a small
fort which was commenced in 1778.101
The government did not reduce the number of its vessels on
lakes Erie and Ontario as much as it had intended, because of the
importance and extent of the fur trade.102   For purposes of reg-
98 Twenty-eight Ueenses were granted at Quebee between April 13 and
June 4, 1778, for trade to MieMlimackinae and beyond, involving sixty-one
canoe-loads. Of this number WilUam and John Kay had a permit for 2 canoes, 20 fusils, 1200 pounds of gunpowder, and 1200 pounds, of shot and baU
for the "North West." Grant and Solomon had two Ueenses for 5 canoes,
1600 pounds of gunpowder, and 3400 pounds.of shot and ball for Nipigon.
Gabriel Cotte had a permit for 3 canoes, 34 fusils, 1200 pounds of gunpowder, and 1200 pounds of powder and shot for Nipigon. John Baptiste Barthe
had a license for 3 eanoes and 5200 pounds of shot and ball for Lake Superior. The rest aU went for trade in the region towards the Illinois and
Mississippi rivers (Add. 21757, f. 5).
"Writing to Carleton from MichUimackinac on May 30, 1778, Dr. Pey-
ster stated that rum was rising in price because the importation was stopped
"except a Uttle for the North Trade" (Add. 21757, f. 3).
109 Add. 21678, f. 195; also B, 18; also B, 40, p. 64.
701 De Peyster to Haldimand. Michilimaekinae, September 16, 1778, B,
96—1, p. 9 et seq.; also Add. 21756-1.
192 Haldimand to the Treasury, Quebee, September 1, 1784, B, 56, p. 285:
also Add. 21716. Early Fur Trade and Formation of the Company
29
ulation it was required that the traders' goods103 and furs should
be transported on these lakes in the royal ships.104
The trade was not without its difficulties. The government
complained of attempts to evade the law against sending furs to
the United States,105 and of delay in the payment of freights106
which necessitated commencing suit.107 The merchants complained of insufficient ships to transport their goods at the re~
quired time.108 In compliance with the request of the North
West merchants,109 permission was granted to them in 1784 to
construct a vessel at Detroit which was to be drawn up above the
falls of St. Marys and employed on Lake Superior.110 Orders
were transmitted by the same letter that every assistance should
be granted to the North West Company in the matter of
forwarding provisions to Michilimackinae in the king's ships,
for use in the Northwest trade. A vessel, the "Beaver," was
constructed at Detroit and sailed from there in the spring of
1785. She proved too large to be taken up the Falls of St.
Marys, and the North West Company was again reduced to the
108 By May 26, 1780, twenty-two passes for trade by Niagara had been
granted (Add. 21721, f. 74), but there was a doubt as to whether the goods
could be transported in time, the amount being large and the king's service
requiring consideration (Add. 21721, f. 72).
104 Add. 21721, f. 253; B, 61, p. 143; Add. 21724, f. 34.
""A letter of Haldimand dated Quebec, August 9, 1784, speaks of the
reports that Charles Patterson had sent furs by way of Lake Champlain the
preceding autumn and that Mr. EUice had done the same that spring (Add.
21724, f. 34). EUice later tried to explain on the score that the furs had
been sold in the province and were only being deUvered to the purchasers at
St. Johns (Robert EUice & Co. to Major Mathews, Montreal, August 23,1784,
Add. 21735-2, f. 532).
1M Add. 21724, ff. 34-35.
197 Q, 26-1, pp. 295 et seq.
108 A third ship was employed in the king's service on lakes Erie and Ontario in 1784 (Add. 21724, f. 34). This was the result of a petition by the
merchants because the number had been reduced to two ships.
109 Benjamin Frobisher to Mathews, Montreal, October 4, 1784, Add.
21877, ff. 402-403.
"• Haldimand to Hay, Quebee, November 10, 1784, B, 64, p. 405, printed
in Can. Arch. Beport, 1888, Note E, p. 72. 30
The North West Company
necessity of depending on boats and canoes on Lake Superior, as
had been the case since Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe had ordered
down the Falls the vessels which were on Lake Superior. Even
with the cargo of the "Beaver" and what could be carried in the
king's vessels, it was claimed that the supply of provisions would
have been insufficient for the inland trade had it not been for a
chance purchase. This left no corn at St. Marys for the canoes
bound for Montreal, but Lieutenant-Governor Hay took it upon
himself to allow the "Beaver" to take the necessary supply to
St. Marys on another trip.111 The North West Company therefore requested permission to use the "Beaver" for the purpose
of carrying goods and the provisions, which it was accustomed to purchase at Fort Erie and Detroit, to Michilimackinae
and St. Marys, the vessel to be under the command of any person
selected by the government and paid by the company. The '' Beaver" was a small decked vessel of thirty-four-foot keel, thirteen-
foot beam, and four-foot hold. She cost £1843-13-2 York currency to construct.112 Hamilton, who considered the request reasonable, could not give the required\permission. He forwarded
the petition to Sydney for decision,113 and a copy of it to Barry
St. Leger, who did not recede from his previous decision on the
question of navigation of the lakes.114 This decision was that
there were enough king's ships for the purposes of trade and
that the delays complained of had been due to the exceptional
step of relieving the regiments at the posts in the Upper Country.115 Permission had been granted to take goods up the lakes
in private batteaux and canoes.
711 Benjamin Frobisher to Hugh Finlay, Montreal, August 8, 1785, Q, 25,
pp. 119 et seq., printed in Can. Arch. Beport, 1890, p. 59.
1,2 Benjamin and Joseph Frobisher to Hamilton, Montreal, May 8, 1785,
Q, 25, p. 122, printed in Can. Arch. Report, 1890, p. 60.
713 Q, 25, p. 125, printed in Can. Arch. Report, 1890, p. 61.
114 St. Leger to Hamilton, Montreal, August 15, 1785, Q, 25, p. 134.
716 St. Leger to Sydney, Montreal, July 25, 1785, Q, 25, .p. 156, printed in
Can. Arch. Report, 1890, p. 64. Early Fur Trade and Formation of the Company
31
In the year 1776 the traders to the Northwest had possessed
a vessel which they termed a periauger or perriauger. This vessel made a trip from Grand Portage to St. Marys, leaving the
former place June 9 of that year. McTavish left Michilimackinae June 12 and was to "go from St. Marie's to the Portage in
the Perriauger for which place I imagine she has already
sailed."116
The firm of Dyer, Allan, and Company of Mincing Lane.
London, appears as an English firm interested in the trade of
the North West Company. On January 12, 1785, John Strettell,
one of the firm, wrote to Haldimand in support of the petition of
the North West Company for an exclusive control for ten years
of the trade by way of a route which they were exploring.117
Haldimand promised attention to the subject of the petition—
which had been presented to him at Quebec—in a letter dated
London, January 14, 1785.118 The letter refers to the exploration
by Umfreville of the route by Lake Nipigon and Lac Seul in the
year 1784. This interesting letter is discussed in the next chapter.
1,8 James Bannerman to William Edgar, MichUimackinac, June 23, 1776,
Edgar Letters, pp. 21-23.   Toronto Public Library.
117 Add. 21736, f. 6; B, 76, p. 7.
1,8 Add. 21724, f. 129. CHAPTER II
EARLY EXPEDITIONS TO THE WEST
The North West traders were by no means the first to penetrate the secrets of the western wilderness. The French in 1756
held a chain of posts from Montreal to the foot of the Rockies.
The posts of Presq'ile, Le Boeuf, Venango, and Du Quesne commanded the navigation of the Ohio. They had stations on the St.
Josephs, Wisconsin, Wabash, and Illinois rivers which quite monopolized the trade of the surrounding country. Thriving settlements of long standing at Kaskasia, New Orleans, and elsewhere
on the Mississippi gave them control of that mighty river. In
the Southwest they had posts at Natchitoches, Cododachos, and
Taovayas on the Red River, and on the Arkansas, Osage and
Kansas. They had establishments at Prairie du Chien and Lake
Pepin in Wisconsin. Pascoya, on the upper Saskatchewan, was
nine hundred leagues beyond Michilimackinae, and the journey
thither usually occupied three months. \ The most western French
post, La Jonquiere, was still a hundred leagues beyond Pascoya.
St. Denis, La Harp, Dutisne, Bouremont, the Mallets, La Veren-
drye and his sons, Le Gardeur de St. Pierre, and other adventurers had explored this western country.1
Bougainville, writing about the western establishments two
years before the English conquest, said:
The Post of the Western Sea is the most advanced towards the north;
it is situated among many Indian tribes with whom we trade and who have
intercourse with the EngUsh towards Hudson Bay. We have there several
forts buUt of stoekades, trusted generally to the care of one or two officers,
seven or eight soldiers, and eighty engage's Canadiens. We can push further
the discoveries we have made in that country and communicate even with
California.
The Post of La Mer de L'Ouest includes the forts of St. Pierre, St.
1 Cruikshank, Early Traders and Trade Routes in Canadian Institute,
Transactions, III, 254. i*££
VA
Wm$: m%M
A
*b
J.fftes's &fr
^V
-S-—
l...,..„...i. W.r.
«
I ■ Early Expeditions to the West
33
Charles, Bourbon, De la Reine, Dauphin, Poskoiac, and Des Prairies (De la
Jonquiere), aU of which are built with paUsades that can give protection
only against the Indians.2
Jefferys gives a similar list, except that he mentions Fort Mau-
repas and omits Fort des Prairies.3
Ninety canoes were annually permitted to go to the southern
posts, which were Niagara, Toronto, Frontenac, La Presentation,
Detroit, Ouias, Miamis, Michilimackinae, La Baye, St. Josephs,
Illinois, and their several dependencies. Twenty-eight canoes
were despatched to the northern posts, namely, Temiscamingue,
Chagouamigon, Nipigon, Gamanistigouia and Michipicoton, Mer
du Ouest, Riviere des Kikipoux, Lake Huron, and Belle Riviere.
Of these, Toronto and Fort Frontenac were king's posts. The
trade to them was conducted for the royal account, and the furs
were sold by auction at Montreal.4 Such was the situation at the
outbreak of the Seven Years' War.
After the British conquest these French posts were abandoned and the Indians carried their furs to Hudson Bay. A
number of coureurs du bois followed them there or dispersed
among the different tribes. Soon only slight traces of the civile
zation of the French fur trader and missionary were left in the
Northwest.5
One of the first Englishmen who ventured into this old French
country6 was Alexander Henry, a daring merchant. Ignorant
alike of the trade and the wilderness, he trusted to an old French
trader, Etienne Campion.    He purchased his goods at Albany
2 Quoted in Bryce, Remarkable History of the Hudson's Bay Company,
3d ed., 90-91.
8 T[homas] Jefferys, Natural and Civil History of the French Dominions,
pt. II, 19.
4 Q, 5-1, pp. 382 et seq. Apparently used without citation by Cruikshank
(Canadian Institute, Transactions, III, 255).
5 Masson, Esquisse, 9.
'Anthony Hendry had traveled inland from York Faetory to the Black-
feet country in 1754-1755. His journey has been edited by L. J. Burpee, in
Royal Soeiety of Canada, Proceedings and Transactions, Series III, vol. I,
see. 2, pp. 307-364. 34
The North West Company
because they were not to be obtained at Montreal. Going by the
Ottawa route, he found it advisable to adopt the voyageur costume. Shortly after he reached Michilimackinae, that fort was
taken by the Chipewyans during Pontiac's war. Henry was captured after the first fury of the attack was over, but finally
reached Niagara in safety.7 In 1765, having obtained a grant of
the monopoly of the trade around Lake Superior,8 he combined
his interests with Jean Baptiste Cadotte, who had established a
post on what is now the Michigan side of Sault Ste. Marie.
In a letter to Haldimand, Benjamin and Joseph Frobisher
stated that the first British adventurer went from Michilimackinae in 1765.9 He was stopped and plundered that year and the
year following at Rainy Lake, but in 1767 the canoes went past
Lake Winnipeg. Matthew Cooking's Journal of 1772 makes James
Finlay reach the Saskatchewan not later than 1767. Burpee
suggests that Thomas Curry was with Finlay.10 If Curry was
along he was breaking his license, which was issued July 12,1767,
on the security of Isaac Todd, and permitted him to go to Kaministiquia with two canoes and £1000 worth of goods.11 At any
7 Masson, Esquisse, 10; Henry, Travels, Bain ed., pp. 11-174. The capture caused a loss to Howard, Chinn & Bostwick of £5000 sterling (Joseph
Howard to Committee of Merchants at Montreal, Montreal, January 11,
1787, CO. 42, vol. 11, p. 79).
8 Masson, Esquisse, 11; Henry, Travels, Bain ed., 184-185.
9 Benjamin and Joseph Frobisher to Haldimand, Montreal, October 4,
1784, C. O. 42, vol. 47, pp. 637-648; Add. 21877, ff. 398-401.
19 Burpee, Search for the Western Sea, 304.
11 C. O. 42, vol. 14. Eighteen canoes with £7481-17-0 worth of goods went
to Lake Superior this year; fourteen canoes with £5117-10-7 worth of goods
went by Lake Superior to the Northwest; five canoes with £6875-9-0 worth
of goods went to Lake Huron; twenty-four canoes with £6875-9-0 worth of
goods went into Lake Michigan; forty-three canoes with £13,364-10-4 worth
of goods went by Lake Michigan into La Baye; and seventeen canoes with
£4850-0-0 worth of goods went by La Baye to the Mississippi, making a total
of 121 canoes with £38,964-6-11 worth of goods from Michilimackinae.
The permits to trade to the Northwest were to Blendeau, issued on July
7 to go to Fort La Reine and Fort Dauphine with two canoes and £700-0-0
worth of goods, on the security of Spicemaker & Blendeau, Jr.; to Le Blan-
ceU on July 7, to go to Fort Daphne (probably Dauphin) and La Pierce
with six canoes and £2400-0-0 worth of goods, on the security of Alexander Early Expeditions to the West
35
rate Mackenzie stated that Curry was the pioneer on the Saskatchewan.12 Masson says that the traders remained in the districts
south of Lake Superior and in the neighboring regions until
1767, when a trader by the name of Clause13 went beyond Lake
Nipigon in an attempt to reach the Indians who were then trading with the Hudson's Bay Company. He and his men almost
perished of hunger.14 Two or three later expeditions met a worse
fate. Many voyageurs died of starvation, and the place acquired
a bad reputation among their fellows.15
In the meantime Thomas Curry went to Kaministiquia and
made a very successful venture. Some traders followed him there
the next'year but the majority went to Grand Portage, and the
Kaministiquia route was in due time completely forgotten.16
Further determined efforts were made to extend the trade in
other directions and to forestall the Hudson's Bay Company. In
1770 Curry attempted to reach the most westerly of the French
posts, but got only as far as Fort Bourbon, where he traded to
such advantage that he was able to retire. The next year James
Finlay reached Fort Lacorne, or Nipawee, as Mackenzie calls it.
In 1772 Joseph Frobisher established Cumberland House near
the site formerly occupied by Fort Poskoyac on the Saskatchewan River.17   He then proceeded to the Missinipi, or Churchill,
Baxter; to Campion on July 10, to go to Lac De Plieu and Lac Dubois with
one canoe and £400-0-0 worth of goods, on the security of Groessbeek; to
Marcaut on July 13, to go to Nipigon and La Carpe with two canoes and
£511-10-0 on the security of GuiUard & [blank]; and to Menard on July 23,
to go to Nipigon and La Carpe with three canoes and £1106-0-7, on the security of Forrest Oakes.
12 Mackenzie, Voyages, 'viii.
13 Marcaut and Menard had permits to go this year with two and three
canoes respectively to Nipigon and La Carpe (C. O. 42, vol. 14). Was Clause
under these or was he trading without a license?
14 Masson, Bourgeois, II, 242.
75 Masson, Esquisse, 12-13.
"Ibid., 13-14.
"Ibid., 14. Bain states that the North West Company had a fort here
whieh    was    established    about    1793.    And    Alexander    Henry    speaks
il
lire 36
The North West Company
River, where he met the Indians on their way to Hudson Bay
with valuable furs for payment of the eredits which they had received.18 He purchased all these furs, the number being so great
that he was forced to build a fort to store the portion that he
could not take down with him. This post bore the name of Fort
La Traite, in memory of his success.19 Later he sent his brother,
Thomas Frobisher, to establish the post of He a la Crosse.20
In 1774 Samuel Hearne built Cumberland House on Cumberland, or Pine Island, Lake for the Hudson's Bay Company.21
This was the first effective step in inland work for the chartered
company, although in the years 1740-176022 they had built three
posts close to the Bay: Henley House on Albany River, Split
Lake House on Nelson River, and Fort Nelson on Footprint
River. Hearne went to Prince of Wales Fort as governor in
1775. The same year Alexander Henry the elder came up from
Sault Ste. Marie by way of Grand Portage, Lake of the Woods,
Winnipeg River, and the Saskatchewan, reaching Cumberland
House Oetober 26, 1775. On the w>ay he had been overtaken by
Peter Pond, and later by Joseph and Thomas Frobisher.23 Pond
had preceded Henry into the West.   It is clear from one of his
only of the Hudson's Bay Company's fort at this place in 1775 (Henry,
Travels, Bain ed., 261, note 17). Burpee suggests that it must have been
only a temporary trading structure (Search for the Western Sea, 3241.
18 A map drawn by Peter Pond was presented to Congress March 1,1785.
It bears, however, on the west side of a lake, just below Portage de Traite,
the legend "Fort Frobisher 1771", with a location mark! This would appear
as if the Canadian traders had been thus far north of the Saskatchewan
some years before the Hudson's Bay Company established Cumberland House
(Add. 15332, D, and Burpee, Search for the Western Sea, 182).
79 Masson, Esquisse, 14-15. It is "Mr. Frobisher in 1774 caUed Fort de
Trait" on the map by Pond (C. O. 42, vol. 47, p. 665).
20 Masson says "next year" (Esquisse, 15), but Henry's account makes
the date 1776 at the earUest (Henry, Travels).
a Hearne had at an earUer date crossed the Barren Lands to the Coppermine River and returned to his starting point, Fort ChurchUl.
22 Burpee, Search for the Western Sea, 162-163.
23 Henry, Travels, Bain ed., 230-263. Wi
hi1
HI  Early Expeditions to the West
37
maps that he had been on the St. Peter's River in 1774.24 If the
figures given by Crevecoeur are accurate, Pond must have gone
to the West as early as 1768.
At Cumberland House the canoes separated, Cadotte going
up the Saskatchewan to Fort des Prairies,25 Pond returning to
Fort Dauphin,26 Henry and the Frobishers going up the Maligne
21 There are in the British Museum two maps entitled "Copy of a map presented to the Congress by Peter Pond a native of Milford in the state of
Connecticut. This extraordinary man has resided 17 years in these countries
& from his own discoveries as weU as from the reports of Indians, he assures himself of having at last discovered a passage to the N. O. sea; he is
gone again to ascertain some important observations. New York 1st, March
1785. The original map being incumbered with a great deal of writing I
have thought it best to transcribe it separately with the references marked
by ye numbers.—Copied by St. John de Crevecoeur for his Grace of La
Roehefoucault." They are Add. 15332, C, and Add. 15332, D. They are accompanied by remarks and a memoir in French which shows that the map
was presented to Congress March 1, 1785 (Add. 15332, E). Both maps are
30" x 22" in size. They are both on a thin tracing paper. It is evident from
the differences in detail that neither map is a copy of the other. Add.
15332, C, which is of a cream shade with the waters a weak brown, does not
photograph weU. Add. 15332, D, whieh is of a brown shade with waters
edged with green, photographs better. The British Museum acquired these
at the Barbie de Bocage sale of November 9, 1844. This is the only record
of their history whieh the Museum possesses. Burpee has printed a similar
map from the Kohl copy, whieh is said to have been copied from a map in
Hudson's Bay House, London. This printed map also differs from both the
above maps. These go as far south as the Gulf of CaUfornia, and also have
figures on them to place the information in Add. 15332, E. These maps locate a "Fort Pond 1774" on the St. Peter's River, which Burpee identifies
as the Minnesota River (Burpee, Search for the Western Sea, 309).
28 Bain says it was probably just below the junction of the North and
South Saskatchewan (Henry, Travels, Bain ed., 275, note 4), but Pond's
maps locate it on the North Saskatchewan above the Forks (Add. 15332, D;
C. O. 42, vol. 47, p. 665; map copied by Stiles,1790).
26 Pond's map of 1785 shows where he wintered in 1775 at the northwest
corner of Lake Dauphin (CO. 42, vol. 47, p. 665). The copy pubUshed in
Can. Arch. Beport, 1890, is quoted by Bain (Henry, Travels, Bain ed., 263,
note 15), who adds that the North West Company's house here was later on
Ochre River, a few miles south of the lake. This "fort Pond 1775" is also
located near the northwest corner of Lake Dauphin in the copy of the map
which is in the British Museum and was presented by Pond to Congress (Add.
15332, D). The map as printed by Burpee from the Kohl copy has this as
"Pond Fort 1779" (Burpee, Search for the Western Sea, 182).
Burpee challenges the date of 1785 for the map in the Public Record
Office, and argues that it was the map sent by Dorchester to Grenville in
connection with his letter dated Quebec, November 23, 1790 (cf. Burpee,
Search for the Western Sea, 338-342).
n 38
The North West Company
River27 and wintering at Beaver Lake.28   Bain has noted how
cleverly the traders had located themselves on the waterways
Now the map among the Colonial Office Papers in the PubUe Record
Office is bound among the other enclosures in C. O. 42, vol. 47, with other enclosures in the letter dated Quebee, June 6, 1785 (HamUton to [Sydney]).
It is rather improbable that a mistake was made in the binding, which is
certainly not recent. It is true that two plans are referred to in Hamilton's
letters as No. 1 and No. 2. The first plan, whieh is a sketch of the water
connection from the Bay of Quinte to Lake Huron, bears the endorsement
"No. 1," and this larger folded map bears no' endorsement of any kind. The
map contains no date later than 1784, which fact tends to show that it was
constructed at the earUer date. Moreover, in Dorehester's letter of November 23, 1790, there is a marginal note opposite the mention of the map "In
a Tin Case." The letter is endorsed on the baek "Rd. Jany. 4th 1791" and
also "(Tin Case not yet deUvered)." Perhaps this map never reached the
Colonial Office. It was not to be found in the Publie Record Office, the Colonial Office, or the British Museum in the spring of 1915. The size of the
PubUc Record Office map, 28:!4" x 19%", seems rather small for presentation
to the Empress of Russia, or even for requiring enclosure in a tin case. On
the whole, it is safe to conclude that this is the map sent to the Colonial
Office in 1785. It bears the Jesuit water-mark, below which is the further
water-mark I. VIULEDARY.
The roughness of the map, or rather of the copies of the map presented
to Congress Mareh 1, 1785, as compared with this one, may be explained by
the fact that the notes in French whieh accompany these copies in the British
Museum are dated and signed by Peter Pond at Arabosca, March 15, 1784.
He further adds "H ne faut pas eroire que les DetaUs que je mets sur Cette
Carte ont aueune analogie preeise avec L'endroit menie. Eloigne dans les
bois, avee peu de Papier, j'ecrirai mes reflexions et les placois ou je Pourai"
(Add. 15332, E, ff. 2-3). Burpee has stated that the Kaministikwia route is
indicated on the Public Record Office Map, or rather on the reprint of it in
the Canadian Archives Report. A closer examination of the map itself leads
to the conclusion that such is not the eorrect interpretation of the forked
waterway at Lake Superior. The northern branch is apparently the waterway, the difficult lower waters of which necessitated the Grand Portage. The
southern branch is probably nothing more than one of the lesser streams of
the region, perhaps the one beyond the Grand Marais. A bay with a river
emptying into it from the north is shown on the map farther to the northeast. It is west of Nipigon River. It surely is Thunder Bay, and the river
is the Kaministikwia, but there is no indication of a route to the west by
way of it. Had Pond known of sueh a route in the summer of 1784, when
UmfreviUe made his exploration, he might not have spoken of it to the partners of the North West Company, because he was then dissatisfied with the
terms they offered him. But soon afterwards we find him assisting in an
attempt to get from the government a monopoly for ten years of the trade
along UmfrevUle's route (Pond to Hamilton, Quebee, April 18, 1785, C. O.
42, vol. 47, pp. 649-652). It is very unlikely that he would have kept silence
then had he known of the Kamanistikwia route.
27 Now caUed Sturgeon-Weir River (Burpee, Search for the Western Sea
313).
28 Henry, Travels, Bain ed., 263-264. Early Expeditions to the West
39
south, west, and north of Cumberland House in order to meet
the Indians with furs before they reached the Hudson's Bay
Company's establishment.29 Henry left the post on Beaver Lake
on New Year's Day and went by way of Cumberland House and
the Saskatchewan River to Fort des Prairies, where he found
James Finlay, who, Bain states, was the pioneer on the upper
Saskatchewan, having wintered at Nipawi House in 1771-1772.
From Fort des Prairies, Henry went with a party of Assini-
boines to their winter camp and then returned to Beaver Lake,
which he reached April 9.30 Three days later Thomas Frobisher
was sent to construct a fort on Churchill River in order to intercept the fur trade down this river to the Bay.31 This was
probably a permanent fort, on or near the site of the temporary
post built in 1774. On June 15 Joseph Frobisher and Henry
reached this fort. They left it the next day, proceeding up
Churchill River—or English River, as Joseph Frobisher had
named it.32 At the entrance to He a la Crosse Lake they met the
Chipewyan Indians for whom they were looking and returned to
the new fort with them. Here they bought twelve thousand beaver skins, besides large numbers of otter and marten.33 These
Indians described to them Lake Athabasca, Peace River, Slave
River, and Slave Lake, but were unable to state whether or not
the latter was the sea or a body of water emptying into the sea.34
Leaving Thomas Frobisher to return with the Indians to
. Athabasca Lake, Henry and Joseph Frobisher proceeded by way
of Grand Portage to Montreal, which they reached October 15,
1776. Henry had left Montreal for the interior in August, 1761.
How far Thomas Frobisher went with the Indians, it is hard to
29 Henry, Travels, Bain ed., 266, note 21
89 Ibid., 267-322.
31 Ibid., 323.
32 Ibid., 325-326.
33 Ibid., 328-331.
34 Ibid., 331-332. 40 The North West Company
say. Mackenzie states that he went only as far as He a la Crosse
Lake.35 Pond's map of 1785 bears a legend which indicates that
Frobisher wintered on the west side of He a la Crosse Lake in
1777, but this may mean the winter of 1777-1778. This was the
spot in Avhich Pond wintered in 1783.36 It was the site upon
which He a la Crosse House was later built and was a strategic
point, Avhere various forts were constructed by both the North
West and Hudson's Bay companies.
Pond, who had wintered in 1775-1776 at Fort Dauphin, went
to the forks of the Saskatchewan in 1776 and wintered slightly
above the forks on the north branch. He passed the following
winter at the same place.37 In the spring of 1778 he went to
Sturgeon Lake. The fur traders here pooled their stock and sent
Pond with it to the Athabasca country. He went by way of the
Churchill, He a la Crosse Lake, Lake Clear, Buffalo Lake, Rivet-
La Loche, Lake La Loche, Portage La Loche or Methye Portage,
and the Clearwater River to the Athabasca River, where he built
a fort about thirty miles above its mouth.38 It was called "Old
Establishment," "Old Pond Fort," etc. Mackenzie says it was
the only fort in this part of the country until 1785.39 Pond was
apparently here quite frequently during the next six years.40
85 Mackenzie, Voyages, xu.
80 C O. 42, vol. 47, p. 665.
37 Add. 15332, D; and C. O. 42, vol. 47, p. 665. It would be interesting to
know how far Pond went up the Saskatchewan. He stated in connection with
site 11 on the Congress map that in the mountains there he had seen flints
(pierres a fusil) containing veins of white metal whieh looked like silver.
The figure 11 is in the mountains west of the North and South Saskatchewan
(Add. 15332, D, and Add. 15332, E, f. 3).
38 Masson states that, after trading for some time on the English River,
he crossed, being the first to do so, the height of land at Portage La Loche,
and two years later reached the celebrated Athabasca region, where he built
Fort Athabasca on River a la Biche, forty miles above its mouth (Masson,
Esquisse, 15). The information given on Pond's own maps does not accord
with this account of his movements.
89 Mackenzie, Voyages, lxxxvU.
49 The PubUc Record Office map states that he wintered here in 1778 and
1784 (C O. 42, vol. 47, p. 665).   The meaning of this latter date is ambigu- Early Expeditions to the West
41
The map in the Public Record Office indicates that he was at Lac
La Ronge in 1782; and the copies of the Congress map, that he
was at the same place in 1781.41 However, he had been at Lac
La Ronge before, in 178042 with Jean Etienne Waden, who had
also been there the previous year.42 These two men represented
rival interests at Grand Portage; and as a result of the ill-feeling
which arose between them, Waden was shot and mortally wounded. Pond and one of Waden's clerks named Toussaint Le Sieur
were tried for murder but acquitted.43 Pond later acquired more
notoriety by the murder of Ross.   In 1790, according to Masson,
ous. He could hardly have been there in the winter of 1784-1785 after quar-
reUng with the newly formed North West Company at Grand Portage that
summer and attempting to form an opposition. It seems to be certain that
he was there during the winter of 1783-1784, since the date 1783 is given on
the map presented to Congress, or at least on the copies in the British Museum and on the one printed by Burpee. Moreover, his remarks to accompany
this map were dated at Araboska, Mareh 1, 1784 (Add. 15332, E). These
maps also indicate that he wintered there in 1782. This clashes with the fact
that these same maps locate him at He a la Crosse Lake in 1782. And the
PubUc Record Office map dates his presence at He k la Crosse Lake in 1783
and at Lac La Ronge in 1782, whereas the copies of the Congress map date
his presence at Lac La Ronge in 1781. It is interesting to observe that the
copies of the Congress map, particularly the British Museum copies, locate
"Fort Pond 1782, 1783" quite plainly on the south shore of Lake Athabasca,
eastward from the river.
41 C. O. 42, vol. 47, p. 665; Add. 15332, D; and Burpee, Search for the
Western Sea, 182.
"Burpee, Search for the Western Sea, 329; Mackenzie, Voyages, xvi.
43 Mackenzie says that Waden was killed about the end of 1780 or the beginning of 1781 (Mackenzie, Voyages, xvi). Brymner gives an account
of the event from the deposition of Joseph Fagniaut. This makes the date to
be the beginning of March, according to Brymner's aceount (Can. Arch. Beport, 1889, p. xxxvi), as does the petition of his wife.
On May 29, 1783, the widow, Josetta Waden—as she spelled her name—
petitioned for the apprehension of Pond and Le Sieur by the military officers
at the back posts, as the civil power was inefficient at sueh a distance (Add.
21879, ff. 122-125). The deposition, which is referred to, is not with this
copy of the petition in the British Museum, although Josetta Waden's petition and the covering letter of Allan Morison to Captain Mathews are in this
bound volume. The endorsement reads, Joseph Fagnant, instead of Fagniaut. Brymner quotes the Canadian Archive copy B, 219, p. 113. This
must have been copied from the British Museum papers, or else Brymner's
reference is wrong. 42
The North West Company
he sold out his shares for £800 and retired to the United States,
where he-died a poor'man.44
The question of Pond's activities is partly elucidated—and
also partly befogged—by the notes on the backs of two maps in
the Canadian archives which are copies of a map in Yale University Library entitled, "Travels of Capt. Peter Pond of Milford
from April 179345 to March 1790. Extracted from his own Map
by Ezra Stiles, March 25, 1790. "46 The notes in question do not
agree with the data on the map.47 Moreover, there is an unusual
amount of detail between lakes Athabasca and Great Slave east
of Slave River which is not contained in present day maps.   It is
44 Masson, Esquisse, 16; Bourgeois, I, 38.
46 Probably should be 1773.
40 The notes referred to contain, among other things, the foUowing:
"Capt. Peter Pond. Residences.
1773. Wintered at St. Peters R. in the sources of the Mississippi, 3
Leagues below
1774. the falls of St. Antoine.
1775. Two years at Ft. Dauphin on S. W. side L. Winepeke No. 8.
«H! I at Ft. Prairie No. 12.
1^7/ j
1778. At Arabauska and came to Montreal 1779.
?-ZgQ [ Montreal, 1781 Ft. La Rouge. No. 14. 1782
'      Mischlamakinak & Montreal.
or 1783 at
1785 -| At Arabauska 3 years to
1786 v No. 21 in summer, Excursions
1787 J & came out 1788.
and came out of the 2nd [Probably should be "Ind."] country 1788.
At Montreal & Quebeck 1789 and 1788.
Returned to Milford March, 1790."
47 The map shows the fort on the west side of Lake He a la Crosse with
the legend, "Capt. Pond here 1787."   Fort "No. 21" is marked east of the
mouth of Jotchyniny River [Slave River] with the legend, "Here Capt. Pond
reside 3 years 1781, 1782, 1783, 1784 came off."    Fort Dauphin is located.
"No. 12 Ft. Rai—" [Fort des Prairies] is located on the North Saskatchewan above the forks with the legend, "Capt. Pond wintered 2 y with 160
men."    A fort "No. 15" is shown north of this on the east side of a lake
which may be Green Lake.   A fort "No. 18" is shown on the east side of the
mouth of Athabasca River.    Fort "No. 19" is on the south side of Peace
River, some distance from the mouth.   A fort "No. 20" is shown on the north
side of Lake Athabasca, well to the east of the exit of Slave River.   This appears to be an otherwise unrecorded post. tTT^lCJ***
J^tAfim^ V:)^¥
Co
P«
i
I mu-'K) 1
Bill 1
H i
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1 ~~ . - -.igaSy.aa^i,
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i I
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111 a ilj
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ipf&SiS IB       -
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> /.V<^ T:/7-&& Early Expeditions to the West
43
a noteworthy fact that this map shows no river connecting Great
Slave Lake and the Arctic Sea, but instead has two rivers with a
considerable distance between their heads. The western edge of
Great Slave Lake does not appear on the map, and there is no
sign of the Mackenzie River. Pond's route-marks might easily
make one think that Peace River flowed out of Lake Athabasca.48
This map throws light on the map which Pond was preparing in
1789 and explains where Isaac Ogden of Quebec49 got some of the
ideas which appear in the letter he wrote to his father, David
Ogden, November 7, 1789.50 It would be interesting to know
what reasons Pond had for exchanging his earlier theories—which
were fundamentally sound—of the Athabasca drainage system
for his later erroneous view. Whatever these reasons were, they
probably influenced Alexander Mackenzie's subsequent activities,
for it is evident from the account given by the latter of his 1789
journey that he started out under the impression that the waterway which he was following would lead him to the Pacific Coast.
The fact is made positive by some notes affixed to a map in the
Colonial Office Library in London.51 Now Ogden explains very
clearly Pond's belief, derived from inspecting Pond's map and
from conversing with Pond, that the river which flowed out of
Great Slave Lake went southwestward and was the river the
mouth of which Cook had explored on the Pacific Coast. The
Rocky Mountains were supposed to end just far enough south to
permit the passage of this river.
48 It is Lake of the Hills on this map.
49 He was then acting clerk of the Crown. Later he was a judge of the
Vice-Admiralty Court in Quebec (Can. Arch Beport, 1889, p.^xxvii).
50 Brymner printed this in Can. Arch. Report, 1889, pp.'29-32, from Q,
49, pp. 357 et seq., the copy in the Canadian Archives. A comparison of the
printed version with the copy in the Public Record Office in England shows
many variations in speUing, capitalization, and paragraphing, with one serious sUp on p. 31, where Brymner prints "Eastward of the Lake" for "Southward of the Lake." The latter was pubUshed in the Gentleman's Magazine
in 1790, vol. 60:1, pp. 197-199. The names of the writer and his correspondent did not appear there, however.
61 The map is listed as America, No. 54.
1R
I Mt
44
The North West Company
Moreover, Ogden states that Pond had left a man by the name
of McKenzie at Slave Lake with orders to go down the river,
thence to Unalaska, and thence to England through Russia.
Mackenzie certainly says nothing in his published work about
such orders. He does not even give Pond credit for information
on the geography of this portion of America. If Pond's ideas
were current among the traders, it may possibly help to explain
why Mackenzie's exploration of the Mackenzie River in 1789 received little attention at Grand Portage when he went there the
next year. Moreover, the traders were probably not quite satisfied that he had reached the Arctic Ocean. As late as 1814,
Wentzel writes of Sir Alexander Mackenzie's turning back on the
Grand52 River.53 In 1807 he writes to Roderick McKenzie that
'' The Grand River, which obtains its waters from Slave Lake and
which empties into the Pacific Ocean, is perhaps one of the longest and most beautiful rivers in the North."34 Wentzel was
doubtless not alone in his error.55
It is difficult to identify the rivers north of Great Slave Lake
on the map. They are well west of the Coppermine, which is indicated, though not named, as part of Hearne's route. Probably
Pond knew of Lac a la Martre and its drainage into Great Slave
Lake. The river draining into the Arctic may even be one draining into Great Bear Lake.
The route-marks on the map suggest that Pond went northwards from Fort des Prairies via Green Lake and Lake He a la
Crosse to Athabasca, but Mackenzie's account is opposed to such
a route.56
621, e., Mackenzie.
63 Masson, Bourgeois, I, 111.
54 Ibid., 77.
35 Had he read Mackenzie's book? He does not make the argument that
Mackenzie, who took the middle channel of the delta, had missed a westerly
branch which might lead to the Paeific Ocean.
58 Mackenzie, Voyages, xu. Early Expeditions to the West
45
Besides the facts previously mentioned, this map locates a
fort on Lake Superior,57 a fort at Rainy Lake, a fort at the east
end of Red Lake, a fort on the east side of Red River, Fort Epi-
nett on the north side of the Assiniboine, a fort on the Qu'Appelle, a fort on a river emptying into the east side of Lake
Winnipeke (Winnipeg), a fort on a little river emptying into the
northwest corner of Little Winnipeg Lake, a fort on a little lake
north of Lake Winnipeg, Fort Traite on the north side of Church-
hill River, Fort Eturgeon on the South Saskatchewan above the
Forks, and a fort some distance up the North Saskatchewan.
Much of the knowledge displayed in the Pond maps was
based upon Indian reports. Pond stated in the remarks accompanying the Congress map that he had talked with forty Red
Knife Indians who lived a short distance from the Northwest
Sea. They informed him that there were tides in that sea, that
they knew of no lands farther north, that the shores of this sea
ran towards the west, and that the navigation of the rivers emptying into it was open at the beginning of summer. They also spoke
of having seen icebergs.58 Pond furthermore claimed to have
conversed with Indians who had captured prisoners west of the
Rocky Mountains.59 He had purchased articles made, of copper
from the natives, whom he called Ochipoins or Orchipoints. It is
probable that Pond had been at Lake Athabasca by the time he
drew* the Congress map, but that he had not been north of it. In
fact, the map makes one think that he confused the Mackenzie
River with Coppermine River, and the general character of the
remarks accompanying the map tends to support this belief. The
later Public Record Office Map has a river which is apparently
intended for the Coppermine.
57 Probably it is at Grand Portage.
58 Add. 15332, E, f. 2. It is a curious fact that Pond, in speaking of
Hearne's voyage to this northern shore, states that it occurred in 1773, 1774,
and 1775. The same erroneous time is given by Alexander Henry. Pond
stated that his knowledge was from Indians who had accompanied Hearne.
59 Add. 15332, E, f. 3.
I 1 46
The North West Company
Dorchester, writing in 1790 in connection with the Pond map,
which he was forwarding, stated that Pond, who had left for the
United States, returned from the Northwest in 1788, after having
penetrated as far as Great Slave Lake.60
About this time the dissensions of the traders encouraged the
tribes of the south and west to massacre the whites and pillage
the posts. The Indians were also irritated by unscrupulous actions on the part of the traders. An overdose of opium administered to an Indian precipitated an outbreak. The trader who
gave the fatal draught was killed, with several of his men. Some
months later, in the autumn of 1780, two forts on the Assiniboine were attacked. One, the Fort aux Trembles, commanded
by Bruce and Boyer with twenty-one men under them, was attacked by Assiniboines and "sauvages du bas de la riviere." The
fort was abandoned, the goods and men being transported to the
mouth of the Assiniboine. Other forts were assailed, and the
movement was assuming formidable proportions when it was
checked by the smallpox, which ravaged the country from the Assiniboine to the Saskatchewan and even to the Churchill River.
The trade was interrupted for a time, but revived again.61
It is not quite certain when English establishments were first
located in the Assiniboine district. Fort Esperance on the Qu'Appelle is said by John McDonnell to have been built by Robert
Grant about 1787.02 As has been mentioned, Fort aux Trembles
was there in 1780. How much earlier the English traders were, on
this river, it is hard to say. They appear to have early explored
the Assiniboine, its tributaries, the Qu'Appelle and the Souris,
and to have crossed the prairie to the Mandan villages on the
69 Dorchester to Grenville, No. 78, Quebee, November 23, 1790, C. O. 42,
vol. 73, pp. [1-2].
01 Masson, Esquisse, 17-18; Mackenzie, Voyages, xiii-xvii.
62 Masson, Bourgeois, I, 274. The author of Masson Papers, 2352. which
is in McGill University, states that he was informed in 1793 that Robert
Grant built the fort in 1787. Early Expeditions to the West
47
Missouri. Trade in the latter region seems to have been conducted from Pine Fort. This fort was abandoned in 1794 because
the Hudson's Bay Company63 and other traders had established
themselves in 1793 at Souris River Fort, about seven leagues by
land higher up the river. After this, the Mandan trade of the
North West Company was conducted from Souris River Fort.04
In McDonnell's Journal there are references to the journey of a
band in 1793 from Fort Esperance to the Mandans, and to .one
which had just returned in May, 1795.65 During 1793 David
Monin, the North West Company clerk whom Robert Grant left
in charge of Pine Fort, made a trip to the Missouri on the solicitation of three freemen, Morgan, Jussome, and Cardin. While returning,66 Monin and Morgan were killed by a Sioux war party.
Hudson's Bay Company men may have gone from the Assiniboine
to the Missouri about this time, but no names or dates are extant.
The first detailed account of an expedition is that of David
Thompson, 1797-1798.
The formation of the North West Company put a cheek for a
moment to the renewed fierce competition, but this respite was
soon followed by the strife with the opposition firm of Gregory,
McLeod and Company.67 During the summer of 1784, before the
latter body was organized, the North West Company had dis-
93 They had established Osnaburgh House in 1786 (Masson, Bourgeois,
II,244>).
04 Masson, Bourgeois, I, 271-272.   It is here called River La Souris.
^Ibid., I, 286-294.
60 Masson, Papers, 2352, McGill University.
97 Roderick McKenzie gives a list of the members of this company in
1785. There assembled at their newly constructed headquarters at Grand
Portage on the north side of Pigeon River: John Gregory, Peter Pangman,
John Ross, Alexander Mackenzie, partners; Duncan Pollock and Laurent
Leroux, clerks; James Finlay and Roderick McKenzie, apprentice clerks.
Norman McLeod, being a dormant partner, remained at Montreal. The
guides, commis, and interpreters, were few in number and not of the best.
The Athabasca Department was put in charge of Ross; English River, of
Mackenzie; Fort des Prairies of Pangman; Red River, of Pollock; and several smaUer outfits were entrusted to subalterns. Roderick McKenzie was
left at Grand Portage, under Pierre L'Anniau (Masson, Bourgeois, I, 10-11). 48
The North West Company
I
»
patched Edward Umfreville to explore a route by way of Lake
Nipigon to the interior.68 The boundary, as arranged by the
treaty of peace, placed Grand Portage in United States territory.
The lower portion of Pigeon River was not navigable, and the
land to the mouth of it did not admit of a portage route. In return for this expedition and for 'the proposed exploration of the
country between latitudes 55° and 65° from Hudson Bay to the
Pacific, the North West Company requested a monopoly of the
fur trade to the Northwest for ten years and the exclusive use of
the route they expected to find.69 The question had been suggested as early as April, but the governor had intimated that he
could not promise anything,70 and the officials of Quebec were not
too favorably inclined towards the request. Pond71 and the Fro-
bishers corresponded with the government on the subject, and
finally in 1785 Haldimand wrote to Sydney suggesting—he did
not directly recommend—the granting of the privileges requested ;72 but there is no record of their being granted. Neither were
the trading posts handed over to the United States for some
68 Umfreville's Journal for this expedition is part of Masson Papers, 2370,
in McGill University. It opens Wednesday, June 16, 1784, with the words,
"At 11 a. m. parted company with Mr. Grant, having an Indian guide to
conduct us to lake Nipigon . . . ." The last entry is on Wednesday, July
28, when they reached Portage du Rat. UmfreviUe reports rather favorably
of the route which he had explored, and signs all at Lac du Bois, July 31,
1784. He explains the Journal's numerous abbreviations by saying that it
was copied at Portage de l'lsle.
The expedition had been discussed for some time. Mathews wrote to Frobisher, April 26, that the governor would give every assistance towards ascertaining a new passage, but that the traders should not express doubts
about the boundaries (Mathews to Frobisher, Quebec, April 26, 1784, Add.
21723, ff. 78-79).
"Benjamin and Joseph Frobisher to Haldimand, Montreal, October 4,
1784, CO. 42, vol. 47, pp. 637-639; Add. 21877, ff. 396-403; Can. Arch. Report, 1890, pp. 48-52.
70 Benjamin Frobisher to Haldimand, Montreal, April 19, 1784, Add.
21735,-ff. 421-424; Benjamin Frobisher to Mathews, Montreal, May 3, 1784,
B, 75-2, p. 123 et seq.
71 Pond to Hanulton, Quebec, April 18, 1785, C. O. 42, vol. 47.
"Add. 21855, f. 354; and Hamilton to Sydney, Quebee, June 6, 1785, C.
O. 42, vol. 47. Early Expeditions to the West
49
years. Since the route traversed by Umfreville was circuitous and
difficult,7* the Grand Portage route was followed for the greater
part of two decades ;74 and when the British traders finally found
it necessary to change, they used the Kaministikwia waterway.
Although the situation was tense, the winters of 1785 and
1786 passed fairly amicably in a number of districts.73 There
was some extension of the trade, too. It is stated that in 1786
Pond sent Cuthbert Grant and Laurent Leroux76 to establish a
post on Great Slave Lake. They succeeded in establishing a post
at the outlet of Slave River which was later called Fort Resolution.77 Leroux went even farther north to a place called at a
later date Fort Providence, to induce the Indians to come to trade
at the southern posts. It is difficult to determine whether white
men had been over this route before.
The murder of Ross in the winter of 178678 led to an amalgamation of the rival companies as soon as the news was brought
to Grand Portage. Alexander Mackenzie, who was sent from
English River to the Athabasca district to act with Pond, at first
planned to abandon the posts farther north. Then he changed
his mind, and Boyer was sent to establish a fort on Peace River.
73 A memorial dated Montreal, December 9, 1792, and signed by McTavish,
Frobisher & Co., Forsyth, Richardson & Co., and Todd, McGiU & Co., stated
that the Nipigon route would require three or four weeks longer and that the
small North Canoes were to be obtained only at Rainy Lake and not at Nipigon (Q, 278, pp. 146-162).
74 In 1788 Simon McTavish and Joseph Frobisher, on behalf of the North
West Company, asked for a grant of land an acre in width from Lake Superior to Long Lake in order to build a wagon road. The Council reported
adversely June 30, 1788 (Q, 37, pp. 264-265).
75 For example, Roderick McKenzie and William McGillivray both made
good returns with the Indians of Lac des Serpents (Masson, Bourgeois, I,
17-18).
70 Is this the Leroux who was in the employ of the opposition company in
1785 (cf. Masson, Bourgeois, I, 11) ?
77 Masson, Esquisse, 30.
78 The Athabasca brigade reported to Roderick McKenzie in June, 1787,
that Ross had been shot in a scuffle with Pond's men. McKenzie took the
news to Grand Portage (Masson, Bourgeois, I, 18-19).
11
|
III
it 50
The North West Company
Leroux was sent back to Slave Lake, from which he had been recalled, with orders to press the trade there. The natives being indolent, Leroux sent the influential Chipewyan "English Chief"
on a successful mission to influence the Indian tribes to come to
his fort to trade.79 James Sutherland, an employee, followed this
up by an expedition, returning in the spring with some natives
and a considerable number of furs. Presents were given to the
chiefs. As a result, the savages from Lac a la Martre and the
country beyond it came the next spring in great numbers to the
fort on Slave Lake.80 At their request, a fort was built at Lac
a la Martre, fifteen days' travel from Great Slave Lake.81
Fort Esperance, which Robert Grant founded at this time on
the Qu'Appelle, became later the chief provision depot of the
North West Company. Large quantities of dried meat and pem-
mican were kept here for distribution to the other posts in ease of
scarcity of game or fish.
In 1789 Angus Shaw established Lac d'Original Fort at the
lake of the same name on the upper course of the Beaver River,
northeast of the present city of Edmonton.82 He found four
Hudson's Bay traders near there with a band of Assiniboines
and had them sent away.88 Three years, later he established Fort
George on the Saskatchewan River.84
79 Masson, Esquisse, 31-32.
89 Burpee states that this fort was at the eastern mouth of Slave River.
(Burpee, Search for the Western Sea, 416). It is mentioned by Mackenzie
under date of June 9, 1789, as "the houses erected by Messrs. Grant and La
Roux in 1786" (Mackenzie, Voyages, 8).
81 Masson, Esquisse, 33.
82 Masson, Bourgeois, II, 14.
"Ibid.. I, 32.
81 Ibid., II, 17.
IkkA CHAPTER IH
MACKENZIE'S EXPLORATIONS
Alexander Mackenzie1 was now in a position to carry out the
extensive explorations for which he was well fitted. The year
spent in the Athabasca department with Pond had given him a
good grasp of its known geographical features and of the theories
regarding the unexplored portions.2 Pond left the Upper Country in 1788, irritated because the North West Company was not
providing for him as fully as he wished, and his fellow-partners
evidently did not urge him to remain. Mackenzie had to report a
season's trade fraught with difficulties and somewhat meager in
returns.3 For a time he also was uncertain whether he should remain in the country, but finally he decided to do so. In the latter part of July he was at Rainy Lake superintending the arrangement of the Athabasca affairs there.4   He urged his cousin
1 Bryce (Mackenzie, Selkirk, Simpson, 10), has ascertained that Mackenzie was born at Stornaway, on the Isle of Lewis, in 1763. The article by H.
Manners Chichester in the Dictionary of National Biography, XXXV, 134-
135, is a hopeless tangle of truth and error, particularly about the early
career of Mackenzie.
2 In his report to Dorchester, Alexander Mackenzie stated in regard to his
expedition of 1789, "I foUowed the course of the Waters whieh had been reported by Mr. Pond to fall into Cook's River, they led me to the Northern
Ocean, in latitude 69% north and about 135 of west longitude. . . ." (Mackenzie to Dorchester, Montreal, November 17, 1794, eopy enclosed in Dorchester to Portland, No. 10, of November 20, 1794, C. O. 42, vol. 101.
3 In a letter dated He a la Crosse,-February 1, 1788, Mackenzie reported
to the agents at Grand Portage that he had been unable to get the goods into
Athabasca the preceding fall. The lading of only three canoes had been carried across Portage La Loche, and these had to be left at the end of the
portage. Mackenzie himself in a light canoe with eight men had only reached
Athabaska October 25. It was too late to send goods either to Slave Lake
or Peace River. After some correspondence Leroux was recaUed from Slave
Lake; MacLeod and Boyer were sent to Peace River, November 9, with two
canoes and nine pieces of goods to trade for provisions for the spring canoes
and to induce the Indians to bring their furs to the fort in March (Masson,
Bourgeois, I, 23-24).
4 On account of the distance, the Athabasca canoes did not go to Grand
Portage, but discharged their returns and received fresh suppUes at Rainy
Lake (Mackenzie, Voyages, London, 1801, lvi).
i    I
m 52
The North West Company
Roderick McKenzie to reconsider his determination to leave the
country. The latter at first refused, but when Mackenzie confided to him his plan for exploring the waterway out of Slave
Lake,5 he consented. A refusal would have necessitated the abandonment of the project for lack of a person to take charge of the
department during Mackenzie's absence.6
On reaching Pond's Old Establishment, Alexander Mackenzie attended to the sending out of the trading outfits and remained there over winter with two or three men. Roderick McKenzie was sent to Lake Athabasca, about one or two days' travel
farther on. Here he built Fort Chipewean on a point on the
south shore of the lake.7 It was later perceived that the north
shore of the lake afforded a more suitable situation and, about
1820, this fort was abandoned.8 Fort Chipewean was the most
important establishment in the far northwest, being the headquarters from which departed the expeditions down the Mackenzie and up the Peace River. The fisheries were a main source of
its food supply. Mackenzie visited the new fort about Christmas
and remained until the departure of the winter express in February. By it he sent a letter dated February 14, 1789, to the
partners at Grand Portage, announcing the building of Fort
Chipewean and the opening of an extensive trade with the Chipe-
wyans, who had been accustomed to trade at Hudson Bay, though
it cost them a seven-months' journey.9 Roderick McKenzie, on
his way to Grand Portage and back in 1789, explored for a better
5 Mackenzie, it would appear, had suggested some such trip to McKenzie
in January of that year. A letter of his says: "I already mentioned to you
some of my distant intentions, I beg you will not reveal them to any person
..." (Masson, Bourgeois, I, 22).
9 Masson, Bourgeois, I, 26-27.
'Ibid., 27. The name is also spelled Chepewyan. It finally settled into
the form Chipewyan.
8 Masson, Bourgeois, I, 38, note 1. FrankUn writes as if the post on the
north shore of the lake had been under construction at least eight years before 1820 (Franklin, Narrative, 152-J55).
• Ibid., I, 28-29. Mackenzie's Explorations
53
route than the long and difficult Portage La Loche, or Methye
Portage. He found no better, although he followed the route by
way of Little Fish River below Portage La Loche on his way out,
and crossed from Lake He a la Crosse by Lac Clair to the head of
Athabasca River on his return. This river was particularly turbulent and he experienced some difficulty in making his way to
the landing-place of Portage La Loche. On his way to Grand
Portage he carried a letter from Mackenzie dated Athabasca,
May 22, 1789, announcing that there was a sufficient stock of
goods on hand for the succeeding year, and that eight canoes,
with three of the five that remained inland, would be ample to
carry out the returns. The traders had still to place their chief
reliance for furs on Peace River, as the Chipewyans clung to
their habit of going to Hudson Bay. Vaudreuib was to pass the
summer on Peace River, as Boyer was going out. Leroux had
returned March 22 from the north side of Great Slave Lake,
where he had traded with a great number of Red Knife and
Slave Indians, to whom he promised a rendezvous that summer
on the west side of the lake.10
It was in this year that Alexander Mackenzie made his expedition down the great river which bears his name. On June 3,
1789, he left Fort Chipewean with four Canadians, a German,
and two women.11 The men were Francois Barrieau, Charles
Ducette, Joseph Landry, Pierre de Lorme, and John Steinbruck.
Various Indians, including the English Chief, accompanied the
party. Mackenzie also took "Leroux along with him to establish
relations with the Yellow Knives north of Great Slave Lake. He
was to build a fort at the outlet of the river from Lac a la Martre. This was old Fort Providence, on the north shore of Great
Slave Lake, in longitude circa 114°.
Mackenzie's party entered Slave River on the first day's trip.
10 Masson, Bourgeois, I, 29-30.
11 Mackenzie, Voyages. 1-2. 54
The North West Company
Here their leader noticed the peculiarity of the river, which empties into Lake Athabasca when the water is high in Peace River,
and at other times carries the waters of this lake northward into
Great Slave Lake.12 Several rapids necessitated portaging on
the way down Slave River, and heavy rain compelled the party
to stay in camp for the better part of two days.
On June 9 they reached Great Slave Lake.13 They were detained by the ice for five days at Leroux's establishment, which
had been started in 1785.14 It took "them nine days to cross
through the ice to the North Arm, where they met the Red Knife
Indians, and Leroux did some trading.15 Mackenzie left Leroux
here on the morning of June 25; and after four days' canoeing
along the north shore, the party entered the river which was later
to bear the name of Mackenzie.16 Mackenzie here mentions the
fact that land where pine, spruce, and white birch have been
burned off, afterward grows nothing but poplar, though no poplar may have been there before. This remark was, of course,
challenged by the British reviewers <bf Mackenzie's book.17
Horn Mountain, the home of the Beaver Indians, was now in
sight to the northwest.18 The party proceeded, and passed the
River of the Mountain19 on July 1. About nine miles farther on
they hid two bags of pemmican for use on their return.20 They
were now daily expecting to arrive at a great rapids of which
alarming stories had been told them.
The following day they sighted the Rocky Mountains, which
appeared to be sprinkled with white stones, that glistened in
"Mackenzie,Voyages, 2-3.
"Ibid., 7.
"Ibid., 8.
18 Ibid., 10-17.
"Ibid., 18-23.
17 Edinburgh Beview, ed. 4,1,149.
78 Mackenzie, Voyages, 25.
18 Now eaUed Liard River.
20 Mackenzie, Voyages, 28. Mackenzie's Explorations
55
the sun. The Indians called these manetoe aseniah, or spirit
stones. Mackenzie thought that they might be talc, but on his
return found that they were only patches of snow.21 On the
morning of July 5 the party met five families of Dog-rib and
Slave Indians. They were made to smoke, though they apparently were unacquainted with the use of tobacco, and presents were
also made to them of grog, knives, beads, and other articles. In
return they gave some fabulous accounts of the river which terrified the Indians with Mackenzie, so that he had trouble in inducing them to proceed.22 That afternoon the party passed the
mouth of Great Bear River,23 and the next day they reached a
rapids, but although this proved to be the waterfall of which
they had been hearing dire things,24 it presented little difficulty.
On July 7 the party passed between the ramparts of the Mackenzie River. The next day they were among the Hare Indians,
so-called because the hare formed a staple article of their diet.25
One day's travel farther brought them among the Deguthee
Dinees, or Quarreller Indians.26
On July 10 Mackenzie reached the delta at the mouth of the
river, and was somewhat at a loss which channel to follow, but
finally he determined to proceed along the middle one.27 This
day Mackenzie got an observation of 67° 47' north latitude,
which was farther north than he expected. He assigns the variation of the compass as the reason.28 Mackenzie here states for
the first time that it was evident that these waters emptied into
21 Mackenzie, Voyages, 29.
22 Ibid., 33-34.
28 Ibid., 39.
"Ibid., 41. It is now ealled the Sans Sault Rapid (Burpee, Search for
the Western Sea, 430).
25 Mackenzie, Voyages, 42-44.
20 Ibid., 51.
"Ibid., 53.
xIbid., 54. According to the 1914 Dominion of Canada map, he was, if
anything, not far enough north in his observation. 56
The North West Company
the Hyperborean Sea, and he determined to proceed to their outlet.20 His guide became much discouraged, declaring that he had
never been at the Belhoullay Toe, or White Man's Lake, and that
when he had gone to Esquimaux Lake, which was a short distance
ahead, he had made the trip by~ land. The Chipewyan hunters
were also anxious to return, but Mackenzie persuaded them to
proceed for seven days more. At the end of that time, scarcity
of provisions made binding the promise to return.30
The next day the party reached a deserted Esquimaux encampment, and on July 12 they came to what Mackenzie thought
was the entrance to the lake of which they had heard.31 He obtained an observation of 69° 1' north latitude. Without knowing it, he had reached the mouth of the middle branch of the
Mackenzie River. The party now followed a westerly course to
an island fifteen miles away, the water being only five feet deep.
The ice prevented their going farther westward.32 Next day
Mackenzie took an observation which gave him 69° 14' north lat-
tude, the meridian variation of the compass being 36° eastward.
He states' in a footnote that the longitude had later been determined by dead reckoning to be 135° west,33 The party engaged
in a fruitless chase of some small white whales on July 14, from
which circumstance Mackenzie named this Whale Island.34 That
evening they camped at the east end of the island. Mackenzie
mentions at the end of the entries for the day that he ordered that
morning a post erected close to their tents, and that on it he engraved the latitude of the place,35 the number of the persons with
29 Mackenzie, Voyages, 54.
39 Ibid.  Benohulla Toe, as here spelled by Mackenzie, becomes elsewhere
Belhoullay Toe.
81 Ibid., 60.
s'Ibid., 60.
33 Ibid., 63, note 2.
84 Ibid., 64-65.
"Probably that of 69° 14', though he does not state speei
was the ease.   It was the observation he had made the preeec
ifically
ding da
that such
y. Mackenzie's Explorations
him, and the time they remained there. On the morning of July
15 he found at four o 'clock that the water had risen among their
baggage, and concluded that it was the tide. At noon he got a
reading of 69° 7' north latitude. An observation of the tide next
morning showed about sixteen or eighteen inches of rise, but accuracy could not be attained because of the wind.36 This day they
sailed among the islands apparently to the eastward and then
"made for the river and stemmed the current."37 This casual
statement is all that Mackenzie vouchsafes in regard to his abandonment of further search for the sea.
At ten o'clock on the morning of July 21, the party was back
at the head of the delta.38 The strength of the current made it
neeessary to resort to the towing line. The next day Mackenzie
visited an Indian village and conversed with the natives through
the medium of the English Chief. From them he received some
information about the Esquimaux, in particular the fact that ten
or twelve winters before the Esquimaux had seen large canoes
filled with white men to the westward on the lake which they
called Belhoullay Toe, or White Man's Lake. From these white
men they had received iron in exchange for leather.39 On July
26, the party met a Dog-rib Indian, who stated that the Hare Indians had informed him that there was a river on the other side of
the mountains to the southwest. This river was much larger than
the Mackenzie and emptied into the Belhoullay Toe.40 The following day Mackenzie heard more about this river. Meeting a
party of Indians, he paid one of them some beads to draw a map
upon the sand.  He says:
This singular map he immediately undertook to delineate, and according-
39 Mackenzie, Voyages, 65-66.
37 Ibid., 66-67.
""Ibid., 71.
39 Ibid., 74-75.
49 Ibid., 82-83.   This was probably the Yukon, or one of its larger tribu
taries. 58
The North West Company
ly traced out a very long point of land between the rivers, though without
paying the least attention to their courses, which he represented as running
into the great lake, at the extremity of which, as he had been told by Indians of other nations, there was a Belhoullay Couin, or White Man's Fort.
This I took to be Unalaseha Fort, and consequently the river to the west to
be Cook's River; and that the body of water or sea into which this river
discharges itself at Whale Island, communicates with Norton Sound.41
But he could persuade no one to guide him to this river. Conversation with another party the same day elicited no new information, and Mackenzie decided that he could hear nothing
more until he reached Great Bear River. Here he expected to
meet some Indians who on his way down had informed him about
this river to the westward. Mackenzie had not believed their account at the time.42 On his arrival there, August 2, the natives
were absent hunting.43
On August 13 Mackenzie reached the River of the Mountain44
and the next day ascended it about two miles.45 On August 22
the party reached the entrance to Great Slave Lake.46 Two days
later they met three canoes, containing Leroux and some Indians,
who had been out on a hunting party for twenty-five days. Leroux had been as far as Lac a la Martre, where he met some Slave
Indians.47 On August 30 the entire party arrived at Leroux's
house. Here Mackenzie paid off his Indians, and arranged with
the English Chief to bring the Beaver Indians to trade their furs
at this establishment.48 The next day Mackenzie proceeded on
his way and arrived at Fort Chipewean on September 12, after
a journey which had lasted one hundred and two days.49
41 Mackenzie, Voyages, 84-85.
42 Ibid., 86-88.
43 Ibid., 95-97.
44The.Liard.
" Mackenzie, Voyages, 106-107.
48 Ibid., 110-111.
47 Ibid., 112.
KIbid.. 115.
"Ibid., 119. Mackenzie's Explorations
59
It would appear, from reading the account of this journey as
published by Mackenzie, that he started down the river which
drains Great Slave Lake under the impression that he was going
to the western coast of America. It was not until he reached the
delta that he recorded his conviction that the river emptied into
the Arctic Ocean.
It is also an interesting question whether Mackenzie realized
that he had actually reached this northern ocean. He. had
reached that large branch of the Arctic now marked on the maps
as Mackenzie Bay. On the map in his pubbshed work, the term
"THE SEA" appears north of Whale Island, and in his report to Dorchester dated Montreal, November 17, 1794, he speaks
of the waters he followed as leading, him to the Northern Ocean.50
But it is by no means certain that Mackenzie realized on his
journey—or even soon after his journey—how far north he had
actually been. There is no definite statement in his published
journal that he had reached the northern ocean. In fact, he
speaks rather of a lake.51 He records that the expedition had
reached tidal waters, but the effect of tides may be perceived at
some distance up rivers and similar bodies of water, and the
height of the tide which he gives is not great. An interesting
point is that he does not record whether the water was salt or
fresh. If he ever tasted the water on this whole trip, he certainly does not mention it.52 On a manuscript chart in the Colonial
Office which is attributed to Mackenzie, there is a semicircular
body of water with Whale Island in it marked at the mouth of
the river. The delta is not shown. On the east side of the
mouth of the river is the inscription, "5 ft. deepest Water in the
Entrance of the Lake 12 July 1789."   On the west side of the
50 Copy in Dorchester to Portland, No. 10, of November 20, 1794, C. O.
42, vol. 101.
51 Mackenzie, Voyages, 60.
32 Barrow noted the fact that Mackenzie had not dipped his. finger into the
water to see if it were salt (Hugh Murray, Historical Account of Discoveries
and Travels in North America, I, 156-157).
S 1
m 60
The North West Company
w
river-mouth is another inscription, "Number of Streams seen
from a Hill." And where the river turns sharply from a west-
by-south to a north-by-west course iu about 67° 25' north latitude, there appears on the west side of the river the inscription,
'' By the Indian Account the Sea is but a short way to the Westward." It would seem from this map that Mackenzie did not
realize that he had reached the Arctic Ocean.53
54/
It is of size 4'l%"x!
63 This map is cited as "America No.
The scale is about 29 leagues to the ineh. It is drawn on a thin paper, which
might possibly be a tracing paper, and is gummed at the edges to a heavy
white paper. The Colonial Office officials were unable to state when this map
came into their possession. The map shows nothing east or south of Keweenaw Point (f) on Lake Superior. Lac a la Martre and Great Bear Lake
do not appear. It does not show the route to the Paeific. There is merely a
line for the Rocky Mountains, with nothing west—except some of the coast
Une—or just east of them. Peace River is named and drawn as if weU
known to about latitude 57° 20' and longitude 122° 30'. Beyond this is a
hypotheticaUy sketched "Lake of the Plains" in longitude 120° 50' to 124°
circa 25' and latitude 56° 12' to circa 56° 45' from-which the Peace River appears to flow. From the west side of this lake a hypothetical river flows southwest-
ward to the "Rocky Mountains" in longitude 125° and latitude 56°. There is
a "Fort" on the north side of the Peace River in about latitude 58° 15' and
longitude 118° 50'. The Paeific coast is sketched from the "Strait of Juan
de Fuca" around to the Arctic past "Bhering's Strait." Uncertainty is shown
in various spots. The long rivers are on the southeast shore of the Alaskan
peninsula and just south of Norton Sound. The name "COOK'S RIVER" is
on the inlet in latitude 60° and longitude 153°, where there is no such name
in the printed work. On the other hand, the printed map has Cook's Inlet,
which this map has not. The location is sUghtly different. Vancouver Island
js not marked. There is a big "Nepean Sound" with islands m it on the
. mainland coast east of "Queen Charlotte's Isles."
Besides the fort already mentionefTon Peace River, this map locates Fort
L'Eppinett, Fort Dauphin, Fort la Biehe, Cumberland House, Fort Eturgeon,
Hudson's House, Manchester House, Ft. de Trait, York Fort, Fort Church
[sic], a fort at Grand Portage, one on the east side of Red Lake, and the fort
of "P. Pond 1773."
It would appear that this map was drawn by Mackenzie before his journey of 1793. Possibly he gave it to the authorities whUe in England before
that journey. Possibly it came through some other source. It might have
been given in the winter of 1794-1795, when Mackenzie was in England, officially recommended. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that in his report to Dorchester, dated Montreal, November 17, 1794, he states that he
made himself but little known during his residence in London in 1791-1792
because he had not been provided with proper instruments for ascertaining
longitude on his first expedition (C O. 42, vol. 101). But in this case it is
strange that his western expedition is not deUneated. Pinned to the map are
some manuscript notes entitled, "A few Remarks to Elucidate my Tracks
from Athabesca Latitude  58.38  North  and Longitude  110%  West  from Mackenzie's Explorations
61
The portion of the notes pinned to the map which deals with
the journey of 1789 is worth quoting in full.   It reads as follows:
Athabasca is 2750 Miles to the North and West of Montreal the distance from this to the North Sea in Latitude 69% North and Longitude
about 135° West from Greenwich by the Slave Lake and MeKenzie's River
is 1540 Miles. It was in the Summer of 1789 that I went this Expedition in
hopes of getting into Cook's River tho I was disappointed in this it proved
without a doubt that there is not a north west passage below this latitude
and I believe it wiU generaUy be allowed that no passage is practicable in a
Higher Latitude the Sea being eternaUy covered with ice.
This statement indicates that Mackenzie supposed that the
river which drains Great Slave Lake emptied into the Pacific
Ocean. In regard to the "Lake" mentioned on the map, it is
worthy of remark that Wentzel as late as 1814 wrote to Roderick
McKenzie:
. . . the Natives also affirm that the sea is much nearer to that end of
the lake,''1 than it is from where Sir Alex. MacKenzie turned back on the
Grand Biver, which they maintain is a large lake which communicates to the
sea by a very broad outlet, and not a bay of the Ocean as generally believed
by the Whites.55
Wentzel was, of course, trusting to third-hand Indian accounts.
In September, 1789, Alexander Mackenzie went up the Athabasca River and met Roderick McKenzie at the mouth of the
Clearwater on his way back from Grand Portage. They wintered together at Fort Chipewean.56 In the spring the explorer
went to Grand Portage, where he arrived July 13. He wrote
three days later: '' My expedition was hardly spoken of, but
that is what I expected."57 Interest was concentrated upon the
reorganization of the North West Company agreed upon that
Greenwich to the North Sea and Western ocean as deUneated on Mr. Arrow-
smith's Map." Most of these notes constitute a brief summary of the expedition of 1793. They are the same, barring sUght differences in spelUng, as
the material in the Stowe MS, 793, ff. 80-81, in the British Museum.
54 The east end of Great Bear Lake.
" Masson, Bourgeois, I, 111.
*• Ibid., 1,31.
" Ibid., 1,35. 62
The North West Company
1
summer. This was at first kept secret, and it was not until a year
later that Mackenzie divulged it to his cousin Roderick in a letter
dated at Lac La Pluie, August 2, 1791. The reorganization was-
for seven years from the end of the year in which the letter was
dated.58 There were to be twenty shares, of which McTavish,
Frobisher and Company held six. Montour, Grant, Small, Gregory, Pangman, and Alexander Mackenzie held two shares each.
McGillivray and Sutherland held a share each. Mackenzie paid
McBeath three hundred and fifty pounds Halifax currency " over
and above the stock on hand" for one of his shares. Gregory
and Pangman had to purchase their shares from Holmes and
McLeod. The latter sold, his for two hundred pounds per annum,
probably for three or four years. Sutherland got his share from
McTavish, Frobisher and Company. McGillivray bought his
from Pond for eight hundred pounds. A commission of five per
cent on the amount of the invoice was to be paid to the Montreal
company on the goods imported for the North West Company.59
There were few changes among the clerks or the heads of secondary posts. There continued to be some trading on shares. St.
Germain traded to Riviere a la Biche on the condition that when
the profits did not amount to two hundred pounds the company
should supply the deficiency. Lesieur & Fraser had a similar
agreement.
Mackenzie was in England during the winter of 1791-1792,
perfecting his mathematical knowledge and purchasing technical
equipment.60 The astronomer Turner wintered in Athabasca that
year, having been sent by the Hudson's Bay Company at the instance of the Colonial Office.61   He made an observation of the
58 Masson states in his preliminary sketch that the company was reorganized in 1790 for nine years (Esquisse, 42). This is a slight distortion of
what occurred, because the union of 1787 had been for five years and would
not expire until the summer of 1792, and Mackenzie states that this company
terminated in 1798 (Voyages, xxiii).
39 Masson Bourgeois, I, 38-39.
89 Masson, Esquisse, 56.
91 Ibid., 52-54. Mackenzie's Explorations
63
position of Fort Chipewean, proving that Lake Athabasca, instead of being only forty or fifty leagues from the Pacific, as
Pond and others had supposed, was really over three hundred
leagues distant. Mackenzie had not been able to determine any
longitude.
Mackenzie returned to Canada in the spring of 179262 and
proceeded to Fort Chipewean to make preparations for an expedition to the Pacific Ocean the following year.68 Leaving Roderick McKenzie in charge here, he set out October 10, 1792, with
two canoes laden with necessary supplies, to winter on Peace
River.64 Other canoes were to follow. On the morning of October 19 the party reached the Old Estabbshment, apparently the
post built by Boyer in 1788. The river had already been surveyed to this point by a certain Vaudreuil, formerly in the company's service.65 On October 20 they landed at the post where
Finlay was to spend the ensuing winter.66 Three days later Mackenzie proceeded, and on November 1 reached his wintering
place,67 six miles above the mouth of Smoky River. Two men,
who had been sent forward in the spring, had the timber and
62 He left the Downs, May 9, 1792 (C O. 42, vol. 101).
08 There were various proposals by Holland and others in 1790 to explore
the territory from Lake Athabasca westward to the strip of coast explored
by Cook. Alexander Dalrymple, the geographer, was also interested in the
problem. The proposals were not put into effect. Later, in 1792, HoUand
renewed his proposal in a letter to Simcoe dated Quebec, October 6 (Q,
279-1, pp. 207 et seq). Simeoe forwarded it in his despatch No. 12 of November 23. It is possible that this renewal of the proposal was due to a
knowledge that Mackenzie was planning to explore westward the next spring.
Evan Nepean was the originator of the idea of the expedition in which the
Hollands were interested in 1790 (John Frederick HoUand to Evan Nepean,
Quebec, November 10, 1790, CO. 42, vol. 72). This letter, in speaking of
Mackenzie's expedition in the preceding year, states that the North West
Company thought the river emptied into the Western Ocean, a belief wMch
was disproved by this voyage. HoUand also writes as if Mackenzie had re-
' ported that he did not reach the Arctic Ocean.
04 Mackenzie, Voyages, 121-122.
03 Ibid., 124.
88 Ibid., 125.
67 Ibid., 127-128. 64
The North West Company
palisades at hand, and the structure was ready for occupation
two days before Christmas.88 These men had been here early in
the preceding May and possibly through the winter before that.69
From the Indians Mackenzie now heard of Lesser Slave Lake70
and also of a river on the other side of the mountains, the course
of which was towards the midday sun.71 Mackenzie records the
fact that Canadian traders were first on the Peace River in
1786.72
On May 8, 1793, he sent six canoes with furs, provisions, and
letters to Fort Chipewean. At seven o'clock in the evening of
the next day he embarked With Alexander MacKay, Joseph Landry, Charles Ducette, Francois Beaulieux, Baptiste Bisson, Francois Courtois, Jacques Beauchamp, and two Indians as hunters
and interpreters. He had no guide. Joseph Landry and Charles
Ducette had accompanied him on his expedition of 1789.73 The
passage up Peace River, where white men had never been before,
was a toilsome one. On May 31 he reached the forks of Peace
River.74 An old Indian had advised him to take the Parsnip and
not the Finlay River branch. His men were not pleased with his
determination to follow the former branch, whieh afforded difficult passage.70" Through paddling up the east side of the Parsnip River in the high water season, Mackenzie missed the mouth
of Pack, or MeLeod's Lake, River, which would have led him
to Giscome Portage. He does not mention it on his return,
either.76 On June 9 he met some Indians, probably Sic-
annis, who had iron utensils, the metal of which was procured
^Mackenzie, Voyages, 129-135.
"Ibid., 136.
"Ibid., 139-140.
71 Ibid., 140.
72 Ibid., 146.
73 Ibid., 151-152.
''Ibid., 185.
73 Ibid., 185-186.
78 Burpee, Search for the Western Sea, 456.
w
II Mackenzie's Explorations
65
by intertribal trade from the coast.77 The following morning he
got word from these Indians that he could proceed by a series of
portages from the head of Parsnip River to a small river emptying into a large one flowing towards the midday sun. This latter
river he was told did not empty into the sea.78 It was of course
the Fraser. The party proceeded with one of these Indians as a
guide, and on June 12 they reached a small lake which Mackenzie considered the highest and southernmost source of the Unji-
gah, or Peace, River in latitude 54° 24', longitude 121°.79 They
then portaged to Bad River, as Simon Fraser later named it.80
In this river they lost almost all their bullets in a bad wrecking
of the canoe, and the voyageurs were nearly discouraged. But
on June 17 a navigable branch of the Fraser River was reached.81
Two days later the mouth of the Nechaco River was passed unseen, in the same manner as Pack River.82 On June 21 Mackenzie established friendly relations with the Carrier Indians, who
had never seen white men before, although they possessed articles
from the coast which had been obtained in trade.83 The next
day Mackenzie learned from other Indians that it would be a
long and dangerous way to the sea if he followed the river, but
that the way overland was short and not difficult.84 The problem was complicated. He did not wish to abandon his exploration of the river. But provisions and ammunition were running
short; time was pressing, and he might find himself unable to return to Athabasca that season. Moreover, he was becoming convinced, from the descriptions given by the Indians, that the river
could not empty into the ocean north of what was then called the
77 Mackenzie, Voyages, 200-201.
78 Ibid., 203-204.
79 Ibid., 214.
80 Ibid., 215.
81 Ibid., 228.
82 Burpee, Search for the Western Sea, 463-464.
83 Mackenzie, Voyages, 242-246.
84 Ibid., 253-254. 66
The North West Company
River of the West.85   Later, under date of August 18, he calls it
the Tacoutehe Tesse, or Columbia River.
On June 23 Mackenzie decided to turn back on his eourse and
follow the overland route to the ocean.86 Difficulties with his
guide lent danger in addition to that of an Indian population
aroused and rendered suspicious by the sudden turning back of
the expedition, but on July 3 the West Road87 River was
reached.88 Goods were cached, and on the following day the
party set out overland. The route lay along the Blaekwater and
Bella Coola rivers, the latter of which was reached July 17.89 On
the morning of July 20 the party reached the mouth of the Bella
Coola River, on Bentinck Arm, and the next day they arrived at
Vancouver's Cape Menzies.90 Here trouble was started by an
Indian who had been punished by some of Vancouver's men, but
in spite of this, observations were taken and the following inscription was written in grease and Vermillion on a rock:
Alexander Mackenzie, from Canada, by land, the twenty-second of July,
one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three.91
Mackenzie's latitude by an artificial horizon was 52° 21' 33",
and by the natural horizon it was 52° 20' 48". His longitude was
128° 2'.
Mackenzie now retraced his steps. There was more trouble with
the Indians in the village at the mouth of the Bella Coola River,
but it was overcome by a bold front, and the return trip was made
in safety. The Fraser River was reached on August 4, the Parsnip
"Mackenzie, Voyages, 255-256.
mIbid., 260. Fort Alexandria was later built at the spot where the party
started back.
87 Blaekwater.
88 Mackenzie, Voyages, 282.
""Ibid., 317; Burpee, Search for the Western Sea, 475.
99 Mackenzie, Voyages, 343.
91 Ibid., 349. Mackenzie does not appear, either on this voyage or on the
one down the Mackenzie River in 1789, to have taken possession of the newly
explored lands for the Crown. He was, of course, a civiUan with no official
status. Mackenzie's Explorations
67
River on August 17, and the main Peace River on August 19.92
At 4 p. m. on August 24, Mackenzie reached his fort on Peace
River, surprising the men he had left in charge of that establishment.93 Thus was accomplished the first crossing by white
men of the American continent north of the Spanish settlements.
Mackenzie's explorations had demonstrated that there was no
Northwest passage navigable for ships south of latitude 70°.
Mackenzie spent the following winter at Fort Chipewean.
The next summer he left the interior country and did not return to winter, but became one of the agents of the Company, in
which capacity he attended yearly the business at Grand Portage. He left this same year for England, returning in the summer of 1795.94 In 1801 he published the account of his explorations, and on February 10, 1802, he was knighted for his accom-
pbshments. The published work95 opens with a "General History of the Fur Trade," which some persons think was written
by Roderick McKenzie. The book closes with some remarks by
Mackenzie in support of his plan for uniting the activities and
92 Mackenzie, Voyages, 388-390.
93 Ibid., 396-397.
94 Masson, Bourgeois, I, 45. He wrote to Simcoe on September 10, 1794,
describing his expedition to the Pacific (Q, 280-2, pp. 362-363).   Official men-
. tion of this expedition was sent to England in November by Dorehester, who
enclosed a brief account of both expeditions and recommended Mackenzie to
notice (Dorchester to Portland, No. 10, Quebee, November 10, 1794, C O. 42,
vol.101).
"Stowe MS 793 in the British Museum, consisting of 81 foUos or 160
pages of manuscript written in a fine, slanting hand, bears on the first binding-page the following pencil note: "This is the original journal in the handwriting of Mackenzie." It has the foUowing misleading heading: "Journal of a
Voyage performed by Order of the N. W. Company, in a Bark Canoe in search
of a Passage by Water through the N. W. Continent of Ameriea from Atha-
baska to the Paeific Ocean in Summer 1789." The expedition of 1789 is
given at some length in the first 79 foUos. The expedition of 1793 is dismissed with a summary, on foUos 80-81. Another copy of the material on
these last two f oUos is pinned to Map America, No. 54, in the Colonial Office
library. Nothing of the preliminary history of the fur trade whieh appears
in the printed work, is in this manuscript. The account of the expedition of
1789 is not in the expanded, Uterary form of the printed version. The paper
is of size 7y2"x6W.
1
I 68
The North West Company
privileges of the Canadian traders and the Hudson's Bay Company in a big trans-continental and trans-Pacific fur trade. He
seems to have entertained this idea at least as early as 1794, for
we find Simcoe, in a postscript to his report to the Lords of Trade
dated September 1 of that year, stating that Mackenzie had remarked on the necessity of combined action on the part of the fur
companies for this Pacific trade, on the value of the Hudson Bay
route, and on the probable action of the East India Company.96
96 Simcoe to the Lords of Trade, Navy Hall, September 1, 1794, Q, 280-2,
pp. 307-363, especiaUy pp. 359-361.
If
I
ia CHAPTER IV
THE XY COMPANY
After the foundation" of Fort Cumberland by Hearne in 1774,
the Hudson's Bay Company seems to have taken no active steps
in trading by means of interior posts until after the formation
of the North West Company. The intervening period had been
one of wide-spread warfare for Great Britain. In 1786, wishing
to stop the Indians of the Height of Land from trading with the
Canadians of Nipigon district, they founded Fort Osnaburg on
Lake St. Joseph. This post had to face the efforts of Duncan
Cameron, who took charge of the Nipigon district as clerk for
Mr. Shaw in 1785. It also formed a basis for further advance
inland.1 Encouraged by two years of good trade, the Hudson's
Bay traders penetrated inland until they reached the Red
River.2 Clause had reached Nid du Corbeau beyond Lake Nipigon in 1767, and succeeding Canadian traders had arrived at Lac
du Pichou. Here the advance from the south ceased until 1793,
when Cameron sent in Turcot, who reached Big Lake.3 In 1796
Cameron himself penetrated a hundred leagues beyond this and
met the Hudson's Bay traders from York Factory.4. He remained in the Nipigon Department for at least a decade more,
and records a decreasing trade.
In 1787 the Hudson's Bay Company sent an expedition inland to the Saskatchewan under an officer named Tomison. This
party established two new trading posts on the stream above the
1 Masson, Bourgeois, II, 243-244.
2 W. McGUUvray wintered in 1789 at Rat River Fort, where he opposed
the Hudson's Bay Company. He took out 105 packs of furs and 6 kegs of
castoreum when he left. His journal opens September 9, 1789, and closes
June 13, 1790 (Masson MSS, vol. 3, Canadian Archives).
"Possibly Lake Severn.   It was evidently on Severn River (Masson, Bourgeois, II, 283).   Cameron caUs it Big Lake (Masson, Bourgeois, II, 244).
4 Masson, Bourgeois, II, 242-245.
1
-s*^" 70
The North West Company
forks. David Thompson, a member of the party, wintered at the
first, Manchester House, in 1787-1788, and at the second, Hudson's House, in 1788 and 1789. The next two winters he spent at
Cumberland House.5 Following this beginning, the Hudson's
Bay Company continued in the trade on the upper Saskatchewan.
On October 18, 1793, Thompson was at South Branch House,
whence he went to Manchester House and Buckingham House on
the North Saskatchewan. He wintered at the latter place.6 Writing in 1805, Harmon speaks of the destruction by the Indians of
the Hudson's Bay Company's post on the South Saskatchewan
fifteen years earlier.7
In 1789 the Hudson's Bay Company made a fruitless effort
to establish itself on the Assiniboine, and its men were on Lake of
the Woods in 1793.8 . In the latter year, they first descended the
Winnipeg River, according to a journal among the Masson Papers. The writer's party passed Portage de l'lsle on August 27
and heard from the Indians that a Hudson's Bay trading party of
three boats and two canoes had for the first time descended the
river eight days before. They overtook them on August 29 and
found that their leaders were Donald McKay and Sutherland.
This Hudson's Bay party went on up the Red River.9
The same year the Hudson's Bay Company made a successful
settlement at Souris River, where the North West Company followed them.10 From this post, trade was conducted with the
Mandans and Gros Ventres on the Missouri through men who
took a certain number of skins in credit and paid on their return. So many of their servants deserted from the Mandan
country to go to the IUinois and other Mississippi points, that
3 Burpee, Search for the Western Sea, 186.
9 Ibid., 187-188.
7 Harmon, Journal, 117.
8 Masson, Esquisse, 44.
9 Masson Papers, 2352, in MeGill University.
19 Masson, Bourgeois, I, 271.
1 The X Y Co
mpany
71
the North West Company later neglected this trade.11 The Hudson's Bay Company entered the Assiniboine River by way of
Swan River, carrying their goods on horseback from one river to
the other, a trip whieh took three days. They were thus a month
ahead of the traders from Grand Portage, and secured the best
of the beaver and other skins whieh had formerly gone to swell
the Red River returns.12 Traders from Prairie du Chien at this
time were trading on the Assiniboine, which they ascended after
coming down the Red River.13 In fact, five different parties
traded in opposition to one another at Souris River in the winter
of 1794-1795.14 Hudson's Bay Company men traded with poor
results on Pembina River in 1797-1798.15
The Hudson's Bay Company did not have as much success in
the south and west as in the northern departments, when the Indians were accustomed to making long journeys with their furs
to the posts on Hudson Bay and where the Hudson's Bay Company was now taking steps to meet them half-way, at posts like
Fairford House and Bedford House.16 The competition was unscrupulous. The Canadian traders resorted to doubtful means,
Hke offering high prices for furs for which the Hudson's Bay
Company had given credits. They also made free use of liquor.
The English company, however, retained much influence over the
Indians of Churchill River, Lake Athabasca, and the country to
the eastward.17   In other districts their officers lacked zeal, and
"Masson, Bourgeois, I, 272.
12 Ibid., 275.
"Ibid., 269, 290.
14 Ibid., 294".
15 Journal of Charles ChaboiUez in Masson Papers, Canadian Archives.
18 David Thompson was at Fairford House, on the ChurehiU, one mile below
the mouth of the Deer River, in June, 1796. From here he went by way of
Reindeer Lake and Black River to Lake Athabasca. Retracing his steps, he
built Bedford House on Reindeer Lake and wintered there (Burpee, Search
for the Western Sea, 189). Burpee here and elsewhere has made use of J.
B. TyreU's brief article on David Thompson.
77 Masson, Esquisse, 48-49.
1
|
il
1 72
The North West Company
m
their men were not the equals of the voyageurs in the adaptability requisite for a life of adventure. The character of the voyageurs appears to have more than compensated for the disadvantage of distant bases of supplies and the expense incident to the
upkeep of a system which was spread over so great an area that
it required a small army of more than a thousand men to manage
the posts and transport the provisions, goods, and peltries.18
And now dissension among the Montreal traders was to add
a further quota to the burden of the North West Company. In
179519 some partners withdrew and undertook an independent
18 Isaac Todd and Simon McTavish, writing in 1794 in connection with
the proposed relinquishment of the posts to the United States, estimated that
at the average price of the preceding five years, the furs sent from Canada to
England were worth £250,000. Nearly £100,000 worth of these came from
the Northwest trade (Chatham MS, vol. 346). These men also requested that
the Indian lands be made neutral trading-ground, and that the delivery of
the posts extend over a period of three years. They pointed out the difficulties whieh would arise in the matter of transportation at Sault Ste.
Marie and Grand Portage (C O. 42,. vol. 88, Q, 57-2, pp. 382-384).
Mr. Inglis of Mark Lane, writing about the same time, estimated the
average annual value of the furs imported from Quebec for the preceding
ten years at £200,000, obtained as follows: i £30,000 from below Montreal;
£30,000 from the Grand River and the north sides of lakes Ontario, Huron,
and Superior; £40,000 from the eountry generally called the Northwest; and
£100,000 from the country south of the lakes, mostly centering at Detroit
and MichiUmaekinac7 as there was very little Indian trade at Detroit. A
note appended to the estimate on Northwest trade stated that since the estimate was made in 1790, the Northwest trade had greatly increased and was
supposed to have doubled during the preceding two years because the traders
had penetrated farther inland, and that the trade at the nearer posts continued with Uttle variation, but would decrease as the country was settled.
The trade of Detroit was estimated at about £40,800. A pack was estimated
at £12, and 1000 packs came from Detroit, Saginaw, and the south side of
Lake Huron; 2000 packs from the Miami and Wabash country; and 400
paeks from Sandusky. With an estimated value of £20 per paek, the Michilimackinae trade amounted to £60,400. Of this, 100 packs came from the
Grand River; 300 paeks from St. Josephs, 100 packs from Chegago, 120
paeks from Milwaki, 300 packs from the south side of Lake Superior, and
600 paeks from the Illinois country. The figures for La Baye, or Green Bay,
including the upper parts of the Mississippi, are not given, but, to make the
estimated total of 3220 packs, it would be 1700 packs (C O. 42, vol. 88, Q,
57-2, pp. 382-387). A slightly different report appears in CO. 42, vol. 72.
Here it is 1500 packs from La Baye, making a total of 3020 packs for the
Michilimackinae trade.   Chegago appears as Chequago.
19 In this year a North West Company partner, writing in Athabasca, estimated that the North West Company got about eleven-fourteenths of the
—
-—	 The X Y Company
73
trade under the auspices of a strong organization — Forsyth,
Richardson and Company—which had already been engaged for
some time in the trade around Lake Superior. The greater number stayed with the old company, among them being Alexander
Mackenzie.20 He had gone to Grand Portage in the spring of
1794 and had become an agent of the North West Company as a
member of the firm of McTavish, Frobisher and Company. He
therefore could not separate from his associates, but he assented
to the arrangement of 1795 for three years only, reserving the
right to retire at the end of that time if he judged it proper.21
During that period ill-feeling increased between him and Simon
McTavish. The agreement of 1795 is referred to in the agreement of 1802. In the preamble of the latter it is recited that on
.October 30, 1795, an agreement was made at Montreal by Simon
McTavish, Joseph Frobisher,22 John Gregory, and William McGillivray, comprising the firm of McTavish, Frobisher and Company of Montreal, and by Angus Shaw, Roderick McKenzie,
Cuthbert Grant, Alexander" McLeod; and William Thornburn,
these being represented by Alexander Mackenzie as agent and
attorney, to carry on a joint trade to the Northwest. Other partners were to be admitted, and the agreement was to go into op-
Northwest trade returns, that the Hudson's Bay Company got one-seventh,
and that the various oppositions from Canada got one-fourteenth (Masson
Papers, No. 2370, item 3, p. 50.   McGill University).
29 Masson, Esquisse, 73-74. Mackenzie apparently first announced the fact
of the formation of this concern to his cousin Roderick in a letter written
Oetober 25, 1797 (Masson, Bourgeois, I, 46). It is possible that this is a
later development. The whole matter is rather obscure. The names of William and Thomas Forsyth appear in the trading Ucense reports of 1786 as
interested in MichiUmackinae, Detroit, Niagara, and Miamis trade (Enclosure in Hope's No. 32 of October 21, 1786, Q, 26-2, p. 563 a). The surrender of the frontier posts to the United States, arranged in 1794 and completed in 1796, may be connected with this appearance in the Northwest
trade.
21 Masson, Esquisse, 74.   I find no other authority for this statement.
- Frobisher was a native of HaUfax, Yorkshire. His daughter was the
wife of Major O'Brien of the 24th Regiment. She was burned to death at
Exeter (Maude, Visit to the Falls of Niagara, 239; Landmann, Adventures
and Recollections, I, 233). 74
The North West Company
eration with the first outfit of 1799 and to terminate with the returns of the outfit of 1805. The concern was to consist of forty-
six shares. Further rules and regulations are not recited.23 It
will be noticed that Alexander Mackenzie apparently did not
sign this agreement on his own behalf.
In 1798 the company took on a new form, the shares being increased to forty-six in number. New partners were admitted
and others retired. This date marked the termination of the
existing agreement, which was not renewed by all the parties
concerned in it. The majority continued to act upon the old
stock and under the old firm. The others began a new firm,24
the date of the agreement being given in the coalition articles of
1804 as October 20, 1798.25 Simon McTavish wrote to Roderick
McKenzie on July 22, 1799, stating that the threatened opposition had that year made a serious attack upon them.26 He expressed his fear that a coalition of the opposing interests27 would
render them more formidable, but cherished a hope that the new
discoveries in the department under'MeKenzie's charge, coupled
with extension of the Fond du Lac trade, would make up for the
returns taken by the opposition.28
In that year, his engagement with the company coming to an
end, Alexander Mackenzie29 announced at the annual meeting
28 Masson, Bourgeois, II, 459-460.
24 Mackenzie, Voyages, xxni. This latter is evidently what was to be
known as the New North West Company, though Mackenzie gives it no name.
25 Masson, Bourgeois, II, 486.
28 Phyn, IngUs & Co. of London were probably interested in this opposition. At any rate, they addressed a communication to the Duke of Portland
in this year protesting against a request by the North West Company for a
grant of land at the Falls of St. Mary's on the ground that it would mean a
monopoly of the Northwest trade (Phyn, IngUs & Co. to Portland, London,
December 6, 1799, Q, 286-2, pp. 532-533).
"Harmon in 1800 speaks of the XY Company as "a number of merchants of Montreal, Quebee, &e.," and states that they had Uttle success
(Harmon, Journal, 15).
28 Masson, Bourgeois, I, 47-48.
29 Alexander Mackenzie, Roderick McKenzie, and WiUiam McGiUivray apparently came to this meeting from Montreal by way of the lakes, instead of
.... The X Y Company
75
his intention of leaving it. A violent discussion arose between
the wintering partners and the agents. The former declared that
Mackenzie alone had their confidence and urged him to reconsider
his resignation. He persisted, left Grand Portage at once, and
retired from the concern in November.30 He again proceeded to
England, and Roderick McKenzie was chosen to fill the vacancy
occasioned by his withdrawal.
While in England, the explorer published an account of his
voyages and on February 10, 1802, was knighted.31 Mackenzie
was now interested in a far-reaching scheme for combining the
fur trade of America with the fisheries. Some reference to this
plan is made in the concluding pages of his printed work. In
January, 1802, while in London, he laid proposals on the subject
before Lord Hobart, the colonial secretary. His '' Preliminaries''
suggested the formation of a supreme civil and military establishment at Nootka, with one subordinate station on the Columbia River and another in Sea Otter Harbor, in latitude 55°. It
was proposed that those acts be repealed which granted to the
South Sea and East India companies the exclusive right of fishery, trade, and navigation in the Pacific Ocean and on the west
coast of North America, or else that irrevocable and unlimited
licenses be obtained from those companies to trade and fish and
establish factories and agents in Canton or elsewhere for the sale
or barter of their exports or imports. Moreover, a clause proposed that a license of traffic be obtained from the Hudson's Bay
Company, with a right to the latter to have a manifest presented
and examination made at the first port of entry within its jurisdiction, but not at any other station or trading post. The existing establishments at Montreal and in the interior were to be
utilized, but establishments were not to be made within the lim-
taking the usual Ottawa route (Landmann, Adventures and Becollections, II
68).
89 Masson, Esquisse, 74; Bourgeois, I, 48.
81 Dictionary of National Biography. I
76
The North West Company
its of the United States or the territory of the Hudson's Bay
Company.32
Mackenzie did not succeed in forming his company. Hobart
recommended that, as a first step, he secure the union of the
two Montreal companies. On October 25, 1802, Mackenzie wrote
to Sulhvan, the under secretary, stating that he had not been able
to secure this union, and probably would not be unless the government would grant a license to one party, with the option to
the other of sharing in accordance with the trade then being carried on.33 This the government was in no hurry to grant, although on December 15, 1802, the colonial secretary desired
Milnes to communicate at an early date his ideas in regard to the
subject of forming a chartered company.34 The latter replied in
May that he was not as yet prepared to express an opinion.35 On
his return to Canada, Mackenzie placed himself at the head of
the New North West Company, also known as Sir Alexander
Mackenzie and Company, and better still as the X Y Company.36
Bitter rivalry commenced once more,37 and fights between members of the two companies became common.   Intoxicating liquors
82 Alexander Mackenzie to Lord Hobart, Norfolk St., January 7, 1802, Q,
90, pp. 37 et seq., printed in Can. Arch. Beport, 1892, pp. 147-151.
83 Can. Arch. Beport, 1892, xxxvi, 150-151.
84Ibid., xxxvi.
83 Milnes to Hobart, Quebec, May 31, 1803, C O. 42, vol. 121; copy in Q,
91, pp. 154 et seq.
38 Masson, Esquisse, 76-77.
87 Among other things, there was in dispute the use of a boat canal about
half a mile in length, which the North West Company had constructed on the
Canadian side of the River St. Mary in 1797-1798, foUowing the cession of
the posts to the United States. The North West Company wished the monopoly of its use as private property, but not of a road which they had also
built there. The XY Company wished the privilege of using the canal in
return for slight payments. The matter was compUcated by applications
from the rival companies for grants of land for buildings and roads, and by
the fact that Forsyth, Richardson & Co. had paid £45, which formed one-
sixth of the cost of the survey in 1797. The X Y Company also buUt a road
of their own. The matter appears to have been unsettled when the companies united in 1804. Brymner has discussed the question, largely on the basis
of the C Series papers at Ottawa (cf. Can. Arch. Beport, 1886, xx-xxix).
	 The XY C
ompany
11
were freely used.38 Reference to this strife is made by Lord Selkirk in his Sketch of the British Fur Trade in North America.
He also definitely gives the date of the founding of the XY
Company as 1798.39 The prestige and business ability of Mackenzie made the X Y Company's operations very menacing.
McTavish, who scornfully called his opponents "The Little
Company,'' rose to the occasion. He reorganized his company on
new lines in 1802, and enlarged the circle of its operations.40
The agreement, which was to go into effect December 1, 1802,
was to last for twenty years. There were to be ninety-two shares,
of whieh seventy-six were assigned by the reorganization agreement. The agents, McTavish, Frobisher and Company, held thirty shares. In return for their services in purchasing goods, disposing of the furs, and advancing funds, they received four per
cent commission on the outfits, and five per cent and six per cent
on the moneys they advanced. They also received one-half per
cent on furs sent to England, and two and one-half per cent on
those sent to the United States. Other duties of the agents were
defined. Strict rules were laid down against competitive trading, a fine of five thousand pounds per share being the penalty.
Extensive powers were given to the general meeting of the partners and agents at Grand Portage, but an echo of the coming
change of the place of rendezvous found expression in the document. The agreement was signed by twenty-eight persons, the
name of the forceful "Marquis" heading the list. Some oi the
more able clerks were made partners, and sixteen shares were left
unassigned as a prospective reward for faithful and able service.41
The North West Company was now attempting to extend its
38 Masson, Esquisse, 77.
39 Selkirk, Sketch, 62.'
49 Masson, Esquisse, 77.
a Masson, Bourgeois, II, 459-481. The North West Company
operations into new fields. An attempt by Livingston to hunt for
silver and open trading relations with the Esquimaux ended disastrously, in the massacre of the party in 1799.42 Expeditions
were also sent to the Missouri and to the waters of the South
Saskatchewan. A post was established on Bow River in a region
of warlike tribes.43
The fisheries of the St. Lawrence were now utilized. McTavish rented the King's Posts for one thousand louis a year,44 the
lease to run for twenty-one years from 1803.45 The servants of
the North West Company established themselves at Lake St.
John and ninety miles above the mouth of the Ashwapmuchuan
River. They were even at Lake Mistassini,46 where there had
been no fixed posts before the North West Company rented the
King's Posts. Here they were only four days' journey from the
Hudson's Bay Company post of Birch Point, which was outfitted
from East Main Factory.47 The King's Domains, although restricted by the grant of Murray Bay to Major Nairn and Lieutenant Fraser in 1762, was still an extensive tract. James McKenzie, who hasjeft a journal of his trip through this section in
1808, states that it extended seventy-six leagues along the coast
from the Black River, a rivulet five leagues below Murray Bay,
to the River Cormorant, nine leagues beyond the Seven Islands,
and up the Saguenay River in a westerly direction to Lake Mis-
42 Masson, Bourgeois, I, 95.
43 Masson, Esquisse, 78-79. It appears that the South Saskatchewan as a
whole was called Bow River at this period (Masson, Bourgeois, II, 30, note
44 Masson, Esquisse, 79. The author of the Origin and Progress says it
was for about £1000 sterUng annual rent to the government (Origin and
Progress, 29). The pound sterUng and the French louis d'or were of nearly
the same value.
45 Origin and Progress, 29.
48 Masson, Esquisse, 79.
47 Masson, Bourgeois, II, 446. The X Y Comvan
pany
79
tassini.48 The North West Company also traded in Mingan sei-
gnory, according to the statement of this same writer.40
In the spring of 1803 McTavish sent the "Beaver," a vessel
of 150 tons, to Hudson Bay to trade, and prepared land expeditions with orders to go by way of lakes St. John and Mistassini
and consult with the commander of the "Beaver" in regard to
establishments on the Bay. Two posts were established: one on
Charlton Island, the other at the mouth of Moose River. These
posts did not have great financial success and were soon abandoned.50 In connection with this movement, the Hudson's Bay
Company laid a case before Erskine, Gibbs, and others. The latter gave the opinion that the Hudson's Bay Company's title was
good and that a trespass had been committed, but that, it not
being a criminal action or an appeal, there was no recourse to
English courts. The North West Company had sufficient force
to defy the Hudson's Bay Company's jurisdiction. William
McGillivray later stated to Coltman in writing that the Hudson's
Bay Company purchased the ship "Eddystone" from the North
West Company when the latter withdrew from the Bay.51
One result of the reckless competition was a more definite extension of the jurisdiction of the Canadian courts. In 1788 Dorchester had reported that there were doubts as to the jurisdiction
of the courts of Quebec on the southern frontier, in the districts
at Niagara, Detroit, and Michilimackinae, which had not been
surrendered to the Americans, and that there was difficulty with
respect to the trial of persons charged with murder in the Northwest, owing to the indefinite boundaries of the Hudson's Bay
Company's territory.52   If brought to trial under the Act of 33
" Masson, Bourgeois, II, 406. An anonymous writer said it extended from
the Saguenay to the Moisee, and included aU the area draining into the St.
Lawrence within that space of coast (Origin and Progress, 29).
49 Masson, Bourgeois, II, 436.
59 Masson, Esquisse, 79-80.
51 Blue Book of 1819, pp. 129-134.
52 Dorchester to Sydney, No. 67, Quebec, June 9, 1788, Q, 36-1, pp. 276
etseq.
hi i 80
The North West Company
Henry VIII, c. 23, it was argued that proceedings must be instituted in England, which would necessitate great delay, expense,
and inconvenience.
The grand juries of Quebee and Montreal repeatedly called
attention to the want of jurisdiction, either in the Canadas or in
the Indian territories, for the trial of offences committed in the
latter region.53 The executive officers supported these representations, and on August 11, 1803, the Act of 43 George III, c. 138,
received assent. This provided that offenses committed in the
Indian territories and other parts of America should be tried in
the same manner, and be liable to the same punishments, as if
performed within the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada.
The Act claimed special authority over British subjects.54
The Hudson's Bay Company had held in abeyance its chartered right to jurisdiction. Otherwise there would have been a
jurisdiction for a portion of the Indian territories. The Act of
43 George III, c. 138, was quite extensive in application. Doubts
having been raised as to the poweri of the courts under it, a further act to remove these was assented to in July, 1821.55
The tenseness of the situation between the Montreal traders
was removed by the death of Simon McTavish in July, 1804.56
He had been the great opponent of conciliation. On his death,
overtures were made to Sir Alexander Mackenzie and his friends,
with successful results.
53 For an example, cf. Q, 293, p. 239.
54 Selkirk later remarked upon the fact that from the vague wording of
the Act, an argument had been made that the term "Indian Territories and
other parts of America" could be applied to the colonies of New Brunswick,
Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland (Selkirk, Sketch of the Fur Trade, 85). The
Act recognized Upper and Lower Canada and the United States as if they
were the sole jurisdictions in America.
551 and 2 George IV, c. 66.
58 He left a widow who later resided at Ramsgate, Kent. By her he had
four children: WilUam, who died in 1818, Simon, Mary, and Ann (Q, 343-
1-2-3, pp. 231-233). After her husband's death, Mrs. MeTavish married W.
S. Plenderleath.
mmm The X Y Company
81
In the autumn of 1804 operations were commenced with the
object of developing the trade of the Missouri. Charles Chaboillez, the partner in charge of the Assiniboine River, found that he
had a surplus of men and goods because of an agreement with his
opponents not to establish any new outposts in that quarter. He
therefore hired a freeman named La France, who had been a
Missouri trader for several years, to serve as guide, clerk, and
interpreter. A party was organized under the command of
Francois Antoine Larocque. Besides the leader, it consisted of
the two clerks, La France and Charles Mackenzie, and four voyageurs. The goods were transported on horseback. The party
left Fort Assiniboine November 11, quietly in order not to arouse
the opposition traders or the Assiniboine Indians. They reached
the Mandan villages November 24, and in this neighborhood they
passed the winter. When they arrived, the Lewis and Clark expedition was already there. Relations were quite amicable, Larocque not questioning the claim of the American leaders that the
region formed part of the territory of Louisiana, which had been
purchased the preceding year by the United States.57 The party
was none too successful in a trading way. A Hudson's Bay
Company trader, who was on the ground, gofthis full share of
the trade. Moreover, the tribes were too self-sustaining to hunt
beaver for the advantage of the whites.58 The united company
determined to send Larocque back to the Missouri, with orders to
go to the foot of the mountains, if possible, and encourage the
Indians to hunt beaver. Mackenzie was to go as far as the Man-
dans.
57 Lewis recorded that the North West Company, having carried on un-
Ucensed trade to the Missouri under the Spanish domination, was planning,
according to his information, to make a permanent establishment, since
Louisiana had been purchased by the United States. The treaty privileges of
1794 and 1796 were reUed upon. Lewis expresses his opinion that these jUd
not apply to Louisiana (Lewis and Clark, Journals, Thwaites ed., VI, 52).
Lewis was probably quite correct as to the reasons for the action of the
North West Company. The Michilimackinae traders appear to have been
adopting similar tactics (B. T. 5, vols. 16, 28).
58 Masson, Esquisse, 81-84; Bourgeois, I, 299-340. 82
The North West Company
The party set out on June 5. On their arrival at the Missouri, they met a number of Gros Ventres, who had plundered a
party of whites on the Saskatchewan.59 The Gros Ventres were
opposed to Larocque's'plan of ascending the Missouri. Nevertheless, the latter persisted and, with two companions, he accompanied a large body of Crows to the upper waters of the Missouri.
In August Mackenzie returned to the Assiniboine, where Larocque also appeared on November 18, his expedition having met
with disappointing results.60 Mackenzie made a third expedition
to the Missouri in the winter of 1805-1806.61 He set out once
more on Jiine 4,1806, collected some furs for which he had given
credits the preceding winter, and made a trip to the Cheyennes
south of the Missouri. Shortly after his return to the Missouri,
Alexander Henry, Charles Chaboillez, Alan Macdonel, and three
other men arrived. These partners did not make a good impression upon the Indians. After accompanying the Gros Ventres
and Mandans on an unsuccessful trading expedition to the Cheyennes, which nearly resulted in a fight, the traders returned from
the Missouri.62 Masson states that the last two expeditions were
merely for closing accounts,63 and that it had been already decided, on the recommendation of De Rocheblave, who had succeeded Chaboillez in charge of the Assiniboine district, to abandon the attempt to organize the Missouri trade.64
59 Probably the party under John McDonald of Garth (ef. Masson, Bourgeois, II, 33-34).
09 Masson, Esquisse, 85-87; Bourgeois, I, 341-362.
01 Masson, Bourgeois, I, 362-370.
'"-Ibid., 371-393.
83 The fourth expedition was sent primarily to collect the debts of a freeman who had taken credits to trade among the Pawnees. He was captured
by the Sioux, and the debts were lost (Masson Papers in McGiU University
Library).
94 Masson, Esquisse, 87. Merry reported from Washington in 1806 that
he had received a memorial from the principal merchants of Lower Canada,
known by the name of the North West Company, complaining that their trade
with the Indian tribes up the Missouri had been obstructed by a proclamation
dated St. Louis, August 26, 1805, issued by General Wilkinson, the governor The XY Co
mpany
83
Mention has already been made of the union of the competing
interests. A convention, or agreement, was signed at Montreal,
November 5, 1804, between the two competing companies, who
therein designate themselves as the Old and the New North West
companies. For the Old Company thirty men were present, or
represented by their attorneys. Of these John Gregory, William
McGillivray, Duncan McGillivray, William HalloweU, and Roderick McKenzie composed the firm of McTavish, Frobisher and
Company. Three firms were represented in the New Company
interests. The first was that of Forsyth, Richardson and Company, composed of Thomas Forsyth, John Richardson, and John
Forsyth. The second was the firm of Phyn, Inglis and Company
of London, composed of Alexander Ellice, John Inglis, and James
Forsyth. This firm was represented by John Richardson and
John Forsyth. The third was the defunct firm of Leith, Jamison65 and Company, which was represented by John Richardson,
John Forsyth, and Thomas Forsyth as trustees and assignees.
The last-named individual, being absent, was represented by the
other two members of the firm of Forsyth, Richardson and Company. Sir Alexander Mackenzie was present in his own right
and as the representative of five wintering partners out of the
six belonging to the New Company.   The other was represented
of Louisiana, and complaining further of the restrictions of the American
custom- houses at Detroit and Michilimackinae. He enclosed copies of his
correspondence with the American Government on the subject (Merry to
Lord Mulgrave, No. 5, Washington, "January 31, 1806, F. O. 5, vol. 48).
From the enclosures, it would appear that Merry was in error as to these
complaints being from the North West Company, which he apparently eon-
fuses with the Michilimackinae traders who, relying on the Treaties of 1794
and 1796, were attempting an extension of their existing trade, upon the acquisition of Louisiana by the United States. Wilkinson did not consider that
these articles applied to the newly acquired territory, and his government
supported him. The correspondence was considered by the Board of Trade
(B. T. 5, vols. 16, 82), whieh recognized the American contention. A copy of
the petition of the traders is in Q, 99, pp. 8-14.
"It is Jamison, not Jamieson, in the MS from which Masson printed
(Masson Papers, No. 2368, McGiU University). !>■
84
The North West Company
ill
1
by John Forsyth. John Ogilvie66 was present in his own right
and as representative of John Mure of Quebec. But the name of
Thomas Thain of Montreal, which is recited in the preamble, is
not among the signatures.   No reason for the omission is given.
The agreement united the interests of the two companies for
the balance of the term named in the agreement of July 5, 1802,
which meant that the company should operate for eighteen years
beginning with the outfit of 1805.67 There were to be one hundred shares, of which the New Company should control twenty-
five. They were to give one of these shares to each of their six
wintering partners. As the New Company had been planning to
put their wintering partners on the same footing as those of the
Old Company when their agreement of October 20, 1798, should
expire, it was stated that these six men must definitely accept or
refuse when they were informed of the offer at Grand Portage
the following summer. If they refused, the New Company might
appoint any of their deserving clerks. The Old Company should
then have the nominations to the next three vacancies. After
that, candidates were to be selected strictly by seniority and merit.
It is not clear by what method the Old Company was reduced
from the seventy-six shares, whieh are said to have been distributed in the agreement of July 5, 1802, to the seventy-five
shares here named. Sixteen shares were not distributed in the
earlier agreement, but reserved for new partners. If none of these
had been assigned, they were now probably given to the New
Company with eight extra, which would raise the total number to
one hundred shares. But what of the one share taken from the
Old Company ?   It is stated68 that Alexander N. McLeod refused
68 He was a partner in the firm of Parker, Gerrard, Ogilvie, and Company
in 1800 (Maude, A Visit to the Falls of Niagara, 185).
67 It was stated at a later period that the North West Company terminated by effluetion of time on November 30, 1822 (Masson Papers, Letters
addressed to the Editor of the Canadian Courant by a Creditor of the North
West Company, Canadian Archives, 24).
88 Masson, Bourgeois, II, 480, note 1. The XY C
ompany
85
to take his share. This is partly an error. There is an Archibald
Norman McLeod whose name appears in the preamble and among
the signatures to the agreement of July 5, 1802. Archibald N.
McLeod is assigned two shares. Article 20, which was not printed by Masson, states that Alexander McLeod refused to take his
share and that those forming the new agreement guaranteed that
he should be paid what would have been coming to him for the
balance of the term agreed upon October 30, 1795, which was to
end with the returns of the outfit of 1805.69 But this does not
appear to have been counted as one of the seventy-six shares. So
the difficulty remains unsolved.
As the shares of the six wintering partners of the New Company became vacant, they were to go to the joint concern. The
share of the late firm of Leith, Jamison and Company was to hold
until the end of the first outfit, when it should go to the partners
of the New Company who should agree to purchase it.
The New Company was to have one-quarter of the commissions and advantages accruing after the deduction of the actual
running expenses of the joint concern. Its agents were to import one-fourth of the goods of the joint concern from its correspondents in London, and these should receive one-fourth of
the exports, the risks, however, being on the joint concern. The
same proportion was to obtain in the tobacco ordered from the
United States.
The New Company was not to be responsible for Simon McTavish's venture to Hudson Bay; but in case Duncan McGillivray should succeed in his negotiations with the Hudson's Bay
Company for a complete transit of goods and returns by way of
Hudson Bay, it should bear one-fourth of the expense, and it
might arrange with the Old Company for more than one-fourth
of the business in case an arrangement for full participation in,
or complete purchase of, the rights of the Hudson's Bay Com-
99 Masson Papers, No. 2368. McGiU University. mm
III
86
The North West Company
pany should be effected.   Nothing apparently resulted from these
suggested negotiations.
The two agents appointed by the New Company were Thomas
Thain and John Ogilvie, who wer