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A journal of voyages and travels in the interior of North America between the 47th and 58th degrees of… Harmon, Daniel Williams, 1778-1843 1903

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History of the Expedition Under the Command
of Captatns Lewis and Clark to the Sources
of the Missouri, Across the Rocky Mountains, Down the Columbia River to the
Pacific in i 804—06. An unabridged reprint of
the 1814 edition to which all the members of the
expedition contributed. With portraits and maps.
3 vols.
This is the only convenient, complete and inexpensive edition of the
most famous exploration in American history.
Voyages from Montreal through the Continent
of North America to the Frozen and Pacific
Oceans in 1789 and 1793. With an account of
the Rise and State of the Fur Trade. By Alexander
Mackenzie.     With portrait and map.     2 vols.
The History of the Five Indian Nations of Canada which are Dependent on the Province of
New York, and are a Barrier Between the
English and the French in that Part of the
World. By Hon. Cadwallader Colden. With
portrait and map.     2 vols.
The Wild Northland. Being the Story of a Winter
Journey, with dog, across Northern North America. By Gen. Sir Wm. Francis Butler, K.C.B.
With portrait and route map.     1 vol.
A Journal of Voyages and Travels in the Interior of North America. By Daniel Williams
Harmon.   Portrait and map.   1 vol.   (Just ready.)
In size the volumes are a small i2mo., bound uniformly in decorated linen. Portraits in photogravure.
Price $1.00, net. per volume.
A.    S.    BARNES
NEW      YORK   
Between the 47th and 58th Degrees of Ti
extending from Montreal nearly to t
Pacific, a Distance of about
5,000 Miles


Between the 47th and 58th Degrees of N. Lat.,
extending from Montreal nearly to the
Pacific, a Distance of about
5,000 Miles
1903 Copyright 1903
By A. S. Barnes & Co.
November 12. INTRODUCTION.
The world is very considerably indebted to
various servants of the great North West Fur
Companies, not only for the valuable and
useful furs they have obtained for us, but for
the different kinds of wealth they have garnered in the guise of accurate and scientific
knowledge regarding the wild inhabitants,
the fauna, flora, and the geographical configuration of the immense wilderness in which
their lives for the most part have been spent.
The debt is none the less because many of
these men were obliged to undergo great
hardships in their business—cut off for years
from all civilized society, and compelled, if
human companionship must be had, to be
content with the company of the aboriginal
savages of the country. Some of these lonely
waifs occasionally varied the monotony of
their regular employment by studying the
strange land and its people and writing down
the results either for the benefit of friends in
the far-away home, or for a still wider constituency, or from sheer lack of anything more
congenial to occupy their leisure hours. At
all events, whatever the motive might have
been, the literary world has been made the VI
richer by a number of well written books
of great value, on account of the minute and
painstaking care they display in describing
the denizens of a hitherto unknown world.
The Indian and his country are displayed
before us; the languages, the folklore, the
habits, manners and customs of an alien people have received patient attention; and all
this has been accomplished in the intervals
of long sledge and canoe journeys into the
pathless solitudes of the North West.
Among the books which had their origin in
some such way as this, the journal kept for
a number of years by Daniel W. Harmon of
the North West Fur Company ranks very
high. Harmon spent nineteen years of his
life in the service of the Company,. eight
years of which were passed beyond the Rocky
Mountains, and between them and the Pacific
Ocean. When he first came among them the
Indians still wandered through the country in
their primitive simplicity, unconscious of the
existence of other human beings save themselves. He passed his life among these savages. He even took a wife, ad interim, from
one of the tribes and lived with her until he
forsook the country forever. He was therefore in a good position to study the people
from a very near standpoint.
Along with these valuable ethnographical
studies are interesting details respecting the
proceedings of the North West Company and
the geographical configuration of the several INTRODUCTION.
parts of America in which its establishments
are situated. Harmon held the position of a
partner in that Company, and was Superintendent of all its affairs beyond the Rocky
The Journal was written from day to day
among the wild people and the scenes he
described. The account is a plain; unambitious narrative and is, all things considered,
entitled to implicit credit for veracity. It is
only fair to state, however, that Field gives
some color to the suggestion that Mr. D.
Haskell, who revised and published the work,
introduced some religious reflections into it
not made by the Author. Certainly such passages look very strange in the same book
with Mr. Harmon's confession of his reasons
for accepting female companionship. This
confession is worth quoting here: " This
day," he writes, "a Canadian's daughter was
offered to me; and after mature consideration concerning the step I ought to take, I
have finally concluded to accept of her, as it
is customary for all gentlemen who remain
for any length of time in this part of the
world to have a female companion, with
whom they can pass their time more socially
and agreeably, than to live a lonely life as
they must do if single.. If we can live in
harmony together my intention now is to
keep her so long as I remain in this uncivilized part of the world."
This was hardly the unselfish view of the viii
marriage state, one would naturally conclude, and scarcely in harmony with Christian
precepts. The consequence of this remarkable
state of affairs was that the North West Fur
Company beGame responsible for the maintenance of hundreds of women and children
whose natural protectors had deserted them,
left the country and returned to civilized
society. Field, who was no mean authority,
also believed that the two subdivisions entitled, "Account of the Indians Living East of
the Rocky Mountains," and "Account of the
Indians Living West of the Rocky Mountains,"
are written by another hand, although perhaps dictated by Harmon.
A very valuable feature of the Journal is
the copious vocabulary of the Cree or Ejiist-
enaux Indians.
It is rather strange that very few biographical details are extant regarding an author
whose repute has been steadily growing for
so many years. He must still be judged
almost entirely by his book, of which, fortunately for the author, the critics long ago
unanimously decided that the work had been
worthily performed and most of the facts
therein cited uncontrovertible.
New York, January, 1903. PREFACE,
TTAYING prepared the following work for
A   the press, I have a few things to say
respecting it, and the part in regard to it,
which I have performed.
The authour of these Yoyages and Travels,
had no thought, while in the N. W. Country,
of making publick his Journal. It was commenced and continued, partly for his own
amusement, and partly to gratify his friends,
who, he thought, would be pleased to be
informed, with some particularity, on his
return, how his time had been employed,
during his absence. When he returned to
civilized society, he found that curiosity was
awake, in regard to the state of the country
which he had visited; and the repeated questions, relating to this subject, which he was
called upon to answer, together with the
suggestions of some persons, in whose judgment he placed much confidence, that such a
publication might be useful, first determined
him to commit the following work to the
press. -mimnnriKHiSBfl
Wl?r tirrWii tmmiwi* whj i»c
Had he carried into the wilderness a greater
stock of general information, and expected,
on his return, to appear in this manner before
the publick, his inquiries would undoubtedly
have been more extensive, and the result of
them would be more satisfactory, to men of
science. Had literary men been in the habit
of traversing the regions which he has visited,
he would have left it to them, to give an
account of them to the publick. Having remained nineteen years in the interiour of
North America, without visiting, during that
time, the civilized part of the world, and
having, many times, changed the place of his
residence, while there, he has had an opportunity for taking a wide survey of the country, and of its inhabitants; and if the information which he has collected, be not equal
to his opportunities, it is such as no other
existing publication will fully afford.
McKenzie's Yoyages give some account of
a considerable part of the country which is
here described. His residence in it, however,
was much shorter than that of the authour
of this work, and his personal acquaintance
with the different parts of it, was much more
limited. It is not intended, by this remark
to detract from the reputation, which that
respectable traveller and his work, have deservedly gained. By his toilsome and dangerous voyage to the North Sea, and by
leading the way, through the Rocky Mountains, to  the  Pacific  Ocean, he has richly PREFACE.
merited the commendation which he has
received. By comparing the following work
with that of McKenzie, it will appear, that,
though the geographical details are less
minute, the country surveyed, if we except the
voyage to the North Sea, which is wholly
out of the sphere of this publication, is considerably more extensive; and the information, in regard to the inhabitants, is much
more particular. Considerable additions are
here made, to the existing stock of geographical information, particularly as it respects the country beyond the Rocky Mountains. The basis of the map, here given to
the publick, is that of Sir Alexander McKenzie, drawn by Arrowsmith. That map has
received many corrections, and to it many
important additions have been made, by the
authour of this work; so that it is presumed
now to be the most correct map of the in-
teriour of North America, which has ever
been published.
Literary men have recently taken much
interest in comparing the different Indian
languages, spoken on this continent, with
each other, and with other languages, particularly with those anciently spoken on the
other continent. A very considerable vocabulary of the one which is spoken, with a
little variation of dialect, through the long
tract of country, from a little back of Montreal to the Rocky Mountains, and one less
extensive of the principal language spoken Xll
beyond it, are here given. Sir Alexander
McKenzie has given a vocabulary of the first,
which will be found, on comparison, to be
somewhat different from that, which is contained in this work. Two reasons may be
assigned for this. In the country about the
Athabasca Lake, where McKenzie principally
resided, the Cree or Knisteneux language is,
in some measure, a mixed dialect; and it is
far less pure, than that which is spoken by
the inhabitants of the plains. The words,
also, are spelled by McKenzie, much according to the French sound of the letters, which
is frequently calculated to mislead an English
reader. Thus, the name of God, or the Good
Spirit, which McKenzie spells Ki-jai-Manitou,
is here spelled Kitch-e-mon-e-too. The above
remark will account, in a great measure, for
this difference; and for that which will be
found, in the spelling of many other words.
This is the native language of the wife of
Mr. Harmon, (for so I may now call her,
as they have been regularly married) and
great pains have been taken to make this
vocabulary correct, by marking the nice
distinctions in the sound of the words, as
derived from her repeated pronunciation of
them. With this language he is, also, well
acquainted, since it has been daily spoken
in his family, and by himself, for many
The education of the authour of this work
was not classical; and had it been more ex- PREFACE.
tensive than it was, a residence for more
than half of his life, since he has arrived to
years of understanding, in a country where
the English language is rarely spoken, would
have poorly qualified him to give to this
publication, a suitable English dress.
The editor undertook the business of preparing this work for the press, with some
reluctance, arising from the shortness of the
time that could be allowed him for the performance of it, and the numerous avocations
of the gospel ministry, which would leave
but a part of that time at his own command. For undertaking it at all, in such
circumstances, his only apology is, that, in
the opinion of the authour, there was no
other person, conveniently situated for personal intercourse with him, who would be
willing to undertake it, whose circumstances
would be more favourable. It is by the particular request of the authour, and not because I suppose that I have performed the
office of an editor, in a manner creditable to
myself, that I have consented to connect my
name with this publication.
The following work was furnished to my
hand, full^ written out; and though I have
written it wholly over, I should have been
much better able to satisfy myself, with respect to its style, if I could as fully have
possessed the materials, in the form of notes
and sketches, or by verbal recitals. Every
man's  own  mind is the mould of his Ian- XIV
guage; and he who has attempted to vary
that of another, if he be at all accustomed
to writing, must have found the task more
difficult than original composition. The
style of this work is not properly my own,
nor that of Mr. Harmon, but something
between both.
There is one subject, on which I wish
especially to address a few remarks, through
the medium of this preface, to the christian
publick, and to all who feel any regard for
the welfare of the Indian tribes, whose condition is unfolded in this work. As Mr.
Harmon has returned to the interiour of
North America, and, therefore, the observations which follow, will not be submitted
to his inspection, before they are made publick, the editor alone must be made accountable for them.
In surveying the widely extended trade of
the North West Company, we perceive evidence of an energy and perseverance, highly
creditable to the members of it, as men of
business. They have explored the western
wilds, and. planted their establishments over
a tract of country, some thousands of miles
in extent. They have made the savages of
the wilderness tributary to the comforts of
civilized society; and in many instances, they
have exhibited a surprising fortitude, in exposing themselves to hardship and to danger.
The souls of the Indians are of more value
than their furs; and to raise this people in < £-*-<s- - rpi
the scale of intellectual existence, to surround them with the comforts of civilization,
to rescue them from the gloom of superstition, to mould their hearts to christian
kindness, and to cheer their dying hour with
a well founded hope of immortal glory and
blessedness, constitutes an aggregate of good
sufficient to call forth exertion for their relief.
The time is rapidly coming, when christian
benevolence will emulate the activity and perseverance, which have long been displayed in
commercial enterprizes; when no country will
remain unexplored by the heralds of the
cross, where immortal souls are shrouded
in the darkness of heathenism, and are perishing for lack of vision. The wandering and
benighted sons of our own forests, shall not
be overlooked. They are not a race abandoned by God, to inevitable destruction;
though the idea has, strangely, gotten possession of some minds. In proportion to
the efforts which have been made, perhaps
no missions to the heathen have been
crowned with greater success, than those to
the American Aborigines. To this fact, the
fruit of the labours of Elliott, of the May-
hews, of Brainerd, of the Moravians, and,
especially of the recent establishment among
the Cherokees, will bear abundant witness.
The Indian tribes, whose condition is unfolded in this work, have claims upon christian compassion; and some facts, which the
authour has disclosed to me, have led me to XVI
suppose, that a missionary establishment
might be made, with reference to their instruction, with a fair prospect of success, and
with less expense, than ordinarily attends
such operations.
In the numerous establishments of the
North West Company, there are from twelve
to fifteen hundred women and children, who
are wholly, or in part, of Indian extraction.
Women have, from time to time, been taken
from among the Natives, to reside in the
forts, by the men in the service of the Company; and families have been reared, whjch
have generally been left in the country, when
these men have retired to the civilized parts
of the world. These women and children,
with a humanity which deserves commendation, are not turned over to the savages;
but they are fed, if not clothed, by the Company. They have become so numerous, as
to be a burden to the concern; and a rule
has been" established, that no person, in the
service of the Company, shall hereafter take
a woman from among the Natives to reside
with him, as a sufficient number, of a mixed
blood, can be found, who are already connected with the Company. There are, also,
in the N. W. country, many superannuated
Canadians, who have spent the flower of their
days in the service of the Company, who
have families that they are unwilling to
leave; and having nothing to attract them
to the civilized world, they continue under
the protection of the Company, and are supplied by them, with the necessaries of life.
IA plan has been in contemplation, to provide for the future maintenance of these
people, and for the relief of the Company
from an increasing burden, which is, to establish a settlement on the Rainy Lake
River, where the soil is excellent, to which
the people, above mentioned, may resort.
To enable them to make a beginning, in the
cultivation of the land, and in the erection of
mills, &c, the Company propose to give
them fifteen or twenty thousand dollars,
and to appoint one of the Partners to superintend the affairs of the settlement, for
three years, or for a longer time, if it shall
be necessary.
It appears highly probable, that a settlement might thus be formed, which, in a
few years, would secure to those who should
belong to it, the comforts of life, as the fruit
of their own industry; and should they
prosper, so far as to raise a supply beyond
their own necessities, it might, with mutual
advantage, be disposed of to the Company.
The Partners and Clerks of the North
West Company, who are in the Indian country, as well as some of those who reside in
Canada, and elsewhere, have subscribed several thousand dollars, toward the establishment of a school, either at the Rainy Lake,
or at Fort William, for the instruction of the
children, connected with their establishments. xvm
Some of these children are the offspring of
parents, who survey their comparative degradation, with the deep interest of a strong
natural affection, who are able to bear the
expense of their education, and who would
cheerfully contribute, in this way, to raise
them to increased respectability, comfort and
usefulness. Should this school be established,
such persons would be required to support
their children, who should belong to it; while
the children of the poor, would be taught
These facts have opened to my mind a
prospect, to which I wish to direct the eye
of christian benevolence. I would ask, with
deep interest, some one of the institutions,
whose object is the diffusion of civilization
and Christianity among the Indian tribes,
whether a missionary establishment might
not be formed, in concert with the North
West Company, which would, with much
less trouble and even expense to them, accomplish the object which the Company
have in view, than any establishment which
they could independently make; and which
would, at the same time, have a most auspicious bearing upon the religious interests
of the tribes of the N. W. Country.
A school for the instruction of children in
the arts of life, and in the rudiments of
science, as well as in the principles of the
christian religion, forms the basis of the most
efficient missionary exertions among the In^ PREFACE.
dians. The school among the Cherokees, is
a most interesting object to christian benevolence; and as the fruit of it, the light
of science, and the still brighter light of the
Sun of Righteousness, is shedding a cheering
radiance over many minds, that would otherwise have been shrouded in intellectual and
moral darkness. The school has received the
unqualified approbation of men of all descriptions who have visited it, among whom
are many persons of the most distinguished
character and rank in civil life. If such a
school were established, at a convenient
place in the N. W. Country, it would be as
the Day Spring from on High to a region,
now overspread by an intellectual and moral
Men, occupied as the gentlemen of the
North West Company are, in the overwhelming cares of a vast commercial concern,
would find it difficult to bestow all that attention on a school for the instruction of
the children and youth, now in their establishments, whom they might think it proper
to educate, which would be necessary to
secure its proper management. Could this
care be entirely taken off their hands, by
men of known and approved characters,
acting under a responsibility to some respectable society; by men who would feel all
the interests which christian benevolence can
create in the welfare of the children and
youth committed to their care, it does ap- XX
pear to me, that they would gladly co-operate with them.
As the North West Company from motives
of interest, as well as from more noble considerations, would contribute something to
the support of such an establishment, should
it meet their approbation, the expense of it
would, of course, be less to the society that
should embark in the undertaking, than is
commonly incurred, in establishments of this
The children and youth above mentioned,
might be instructed in the arts of civilized
life, in science and in Christianity, with much
greater ease than the children of the Natives,
even if they could as easily be obtained;
and when instructed, they would be equally
promising, as the instruments of spreading
civilization and the religion of the gospel,
among the Indian tribes. They have always
been habituated to a life, in a great measure
settled; and they would, therefore, endure
confinement, better than children who have
lived among the wandering savages. They
are partially civilized, by an intercourse with
those, who have carried into the wilderness
many of the feelings and habits of civilized
society. They would not be liable to be
withdrawn, at an improper time, from the
place of their education, by the whims and
caprice of unstable parents. At the same
time, being familiarly acquainted with the
manners  and  customs  and  feelings  of the I
savages, by a frequent intercourse with them,
being able to speak their languages, and
having some of the Indian blood circulating
in their veins, they would, when properly instructed, be as well qualified to gain access
to the Natives, and to have influence over
them, as if they had originally been taken,
directly from their families.
As this establishment could probably be
made, with the greatest convenience, within
the British dominions, it might, perhaps, be
undertaken with the surest prospect of success, by some society in Great Britain. The
Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian
Knowledge has, heretofore, contributed to
the support of missionaries among the American Indians; and might, perhaps, be willing
to engage in this undertaking. The Society
in Massachusetts for Propagating the Gospel
among the Indians of North America has,
in some instances, if I mistake not, acted in
concert with the Society in Scotland, above
mentioned; and might, perhaps, conveniently
do it in this instance. Every association,
however, who may become acquainted with
the facts here disclosed, will be able themselves, to judge most correctly, of their own
resources, and of their own duty.—At Fort
William, on Lake Superior, a very considerable number of the partners of the North West
Company assemble annually, about the middle of June, at which meeting, many important arrangements are made, respecting the XX11
business of the Company. At such a meeting
an agent from some benevolent association,
might ascertain their feelings, in regard to
such an establishment as I have proposed.
The Aborigines of America, are capable of
being exalted in the scale of existence, and
of arriving, even at eminence, in the arts and
sciences. The native oratory of some of
them, is proverbial in civilized countries,
and has caused them to be.enrolled among
the sons of genius. Many of them afford
proof, that they possess acute and comprehensive minds; and as a people, their mental
capacity is certainly respectable. Nor, perhaps, can a people be found on the earth
who are not raised above them by superior
cultivation and means of improvement, who
possess greater elevation of feeling, and who
appear more majestick in ruins. Their virtues, and their vices too, are not those of
ignoble minds. Let their condition be improved by the arts of civilized life, their
minds be enlightened by science, and their
hearts be softened by the genial influence of
Christianity, and they will assume a respectable rank among the nations. Could we hear
some of their superior geniuses unfold to
their countrymen the wonderful scheme of
redeeming mercy, with the brilliancy and
pathos, which have characterised some of
their speeches, on the interests of their tribes,
—with a brilliancy, rendered more splendid
by cultivation, and a pathos, made doubly PREFACE.
tender by the softening influence of the gospel, who would not listen to them with admiration and with pleasure? Might we not
hope that, by the blessing of God, they would
be made the honoured and happy instruments, of turning many of their countrymen,
from the errour of their ways to the wisdom of the just. Could numbers of them be
brought to concert plans for the extension
of the gospel, in the North Western wilds,
with the skill, and to execute them with the
fortitude and perseverance, which they display in warring upon each other, the happiest results might be expected.
Whether the suggestions here made deserve
consideration or not, I cheerfully submit to
the wisdom and benevolence of those, for
whom they were especially intended. Such
has been my own view of the importance of
the subject here presented, that I should
have charged myself with a culpable neglect,
if I had failed to improve this opportunity,
to hold it up to the attention of the christian
Burlington, Yt., August 2, 1820.  JOURNAL
April, 1800.
Tuesday, 29. La Chine. Yesterday, I left
Montreal, for this place, in company with
several other Clerks; and am on my way to
the interiour, or Indian countries, there to
remain, if my life should be spared, for seven
years, at least. For this space of time I am
under an engagement to serve as a clerk to
the North West Company, otherwise denominated McTavish, Frobisher & Co. The goods
intended for the interiour or upper countries,
are here put on board of canoes. These
canoes which are constructed of the bark of
the birch tree, will carry a burden of three
and an half or four tons each; and are severally manned by eight or nine Canadians,
who are said to manage them with greater
dexterity, than any other people.
Wednesday, 30. Point Claire. Rainy evening. For the first time in my life, I am to
pass the night in a tent. In the former part
of the day, I was employed in marking bales
of goods, which are to be sent to the Grand
Portage or General Rendezvous.    About 12 ffiSffiprc^^g^nrcra^
o'clock, I embarked on board of one of the
canoes, destined for the above mentioned
place. The whole squadron, which consists
of thirty canoes, is divided into three brigades. One or two Guides or Pilots are attached to each brigade. Their business is,
to point out the best course up and down
the streams and through the lakes, and to
take charge of the canoes and property on
board. They attend to the repairs of the
canoes, which are frequently broken, and
have the same command over the men, attached to their respective brigades, as the
commander of a vessel has, over the men on
board. The Yoyagers, as the men are called,
have many of the customs of sailors; and
among them the foUowing. By all those on
board, who have never passed certain places,
they expect to be treated with something to
drink; and should a person refuse to comply
with their requisitions, he would be sure of
being plunged into the water, which they
profanely call, baptizing him. To avoid such
a disaster, I gave the people of my canoe a
few bottles of spirits and porter, by drinking
which, they became very merry, and exhibited the reverse of their appearance a few
days since,, when, with heavy hearts and
weeping eyes, they parted from their relations. Shortly after we had pitched our
tents, an Irish gentleman, whose house was
near the margin of the water, politely invited me to take tea with him. HARMON'S JOURNAL.
Friday, May 2. Chute au Blondeau. We
have a strong head wind. But, since yesterday morning, we have come nearly sixty
miles, and have passed two Rapids. At these
places, most of the property was taken out
of the canoes, and carried across the Portages, on the backs of the people. The young
men, who have never been in the Indian countries, now began to regret that they had
enlisted into this service, which requires them,
as they say, to carry burdens like horses,
when, by remaining in their own country,
they might have laboured like men.
Sunday, 4. The wind has been so high,
during the whole of the day, that we could
not go upon the water. I have therefore
passed the time in reading, and in the society of a fellow-clerk.
Monday, 5. We are now about one hundred and twenty miles from Montreal. This
afternoon, our people killed a deer, with their
setting poles, as he was crossing the river.
Tuesday, 6. The Three Kettles. In the
former part of the day, we passed a beautiful water-fall, where the Riviere au Rideau,
or Curtain River, falls into this, which is the
Ottawa River. The former is ten or twelve
rods wide, and the water falls perpendicularly,
about forty feet, presenting at a little distance, an appearance at once pleasing and
grand. We are now about one hundred and
fifty miles from Montreal; the land on each
side of the river is very level, and the soil HARMON'S JOURNAL.
appears to be good. William McGilvray,
Esq. passed us this evening, in a light canoe,
bound like ourselves, to the Grand Portage.
Thursday, 8. Au Chat. We now, for the
first time, see Indian huts or tents.
Friday, 9. We arrived this morning, at
this place, where the North West Company
have a small establishment; and I have
passed the afternoon, in shooting pigeons.
Saturday, 10. Grand Calumet. This Portage is nearly two miles long; and over
it, the people carry both the canoes and their
loading. Here stands a house, built by those
who came here to traffick with the Indians;
but which has been abandoned for several
years, as the Indians, who formerly hunted
in this vicinity, are now gone farther north,
where Beaver, &c. are found in greater
plenty. Behind this house, I found a small
bark canoe, in which I embarked alone, for
the purpose of shooting ducks. Having proceeded some distance from the shore, the
canoe overset, and I fell, with my gun, into
the water. Having my great coat on, it
was with no small difficulty that I reached
the shore; and I was happy to escape, with
the loss of only my gun.
Sunday, 11. We are encamped on an Island opposite to Fort Coulonge. Soon after
we arrived here, the person who has the
establishment in charge, came to invite a
fellow-clerk, who travels in the same canoe
with me, and myself, to sup with him, to fiARMON'S JOURNAL.
which I readily agreed; but my companion
chose to remain with the canoes. I was
treated with all the politeness of which a
Canadian is master, which is not a little;
for in this, as well as in many other respects,
the Canadians resemble their ancestors, the
Monday, 12. We are encamped on a large
sand bank. I have had a little conversation
with my fellow-traveller, respecting his conduct the last evening, while I was absent.
When I departed for the Fort, I gave him
the keys of our travelling box and basket,
that he might have the means of making a
supper; and on my return, I was not a little
surprised at finding not only him, but several of the common labourers, much intoxicated. I reprimanded Mr. P. with considerable severity, to-day, and told him, that if
I should ever again find him in the like
shameful condition, I should be under the
disagreeable necessity of informing our employers of his conduct, as soon as we should
reach Head-quarters. He promised that he
would not again be guilty of such conduct;
but I should place more reliance on his
promise, had not his mother been a squaw.
There seems to be in the blood of an Indian,
a kind of predisposition to intemperance.—
We barter with the natives, receiving sugar
for biscuit, of which, as well as of pork, beef
and spirits, they appear to be uncommonly
fond. 6
Tuesday, 13. We are encamped on a rocky
bank, where it is impossible to find a smooth *
place, sufficiently large to pitch a tent; we
are therefore obliged to make our bed between two large rocks, and sleep in the open
air. On the north side of the river are mountains, which appear almost destitute of timber, of any kind.
Wednesday, 14. We shall again sleep where
we did last night, as the people have been
employed, during the whole of the day, in repairing the canoes, which had become leaky.
Thursday, 15. Roche Capitaine Portage.
This Portage is so named from a large rock,
that rises to a considerable height above
the water, in the middle of the rapid. During the day, we have come up several difficult
ones, where many persons have been drowned,
either in coming up or going down. For
every such unfortunate person, whether his
corpse is found or not, a cross is erected by
his companions, agreeably to a custom of
the Roman Catholics; and at this place, I
see no less than fourteen. This is a melancholy sight. It leads me to reflect on the
folly and temerity of man, which cause him
to press on in the path, that has conducted
so many of his fellow creatures, prematurely
to the grave. Thus in hope of gaining a
little money, which can minister but imperfectly to our comfort, and that, during a
short season, we expose ourselves to death.
Friday,   16.   Came up a rapid where, a HARMON'S JOURNAL.
few years since, two canoes, in going down,
were broken, and several men were drowned;
therefore, we see more crosses erected.
Saturday, 17. Roderick McKenzie, Esq.
agent for the North West Company, passed
us, who, with those that accompany him, is
on his way to the Grand Portage.
Sunday, 18. The Lazy Portage. This
day we left the Ottawa River on our right
hand, and came up a small river, that falls
into it. About noon, we passed a cave, in
the side of a high hill. This cave, I am told,
is spacious; but we were in too great haste,
to permit my examining it. This I was the
more inclined to do, as I am told that the
natives relate many remarkable stories respecting it; and among others, that a large
animal remains in it, which they call a Man-
eater, and which devours all those, who have
the presumption to approach the entrance, of
his solitary dwelling.
Monday, 19. The Pines. Came up several
bad rapids; but have been so fortunate, thus
far, as to meet with no disaster. The banks
on each side of the river, for a considerable
distance, are a perfect natural wall, formed
of smooth stones; and are about one hundred feet high.
Tuesday, 20. La Vase, or Miry-place. During the whole of this day, we have been
crossing ponds, and small lakes.
Wednesday, 21. After coming over a number of short portages, and crossing several 8
in it
ponds, and descending a small river, at the
source of which is a height of land, we have
at length arrived at a place, called the
Meadows, which constitutes the north end of
Lake Nipisangue, or, as it is commonly written, Nippising. Here we find several Indians,
who appear to be in poor circumstances.
We, however, obtain from them a little sugar,
and a few wooden dishes and spoons, for
which we give them provisions.
Thursday, 22. Sailed a part of the day,
on the above mentioned lake; but, towards
noon, the wind was so high, that we were
obliged to encamp on a small island, which
is almost destitute of wood.
Friday, 23. The Lost Child. This place
took its name from the following circumstance. Several years since, the natives, being encamped here, lost a child, for whom
they made diligent search, but in vain. They
imagined, however, that they heard his
lamentations in the bowels of the earth;
whereupon they commenced digging, but to
no purpose; the reason of which they conceived to be, that the Devil, or Bad Spirit,
as he is called by. the Indians, was continually carrying him from one place to another,
in the earth. Many large holes have actually
been dug in the earth, as our people have
shown me.
In the morning we left Lake Nipisangue,
and have ever since been descending the
French River, which is a considerable stream. t»~
In the latter part of the day, we passed
a narrow place in the French River, to which,
a number of years since, many of the most
abandoned and savage Natives were accustomed to resort every spring, and where
they built a kind of Fort, or stone wall,
which is still to be seen. Behind this, these
villains secreted themselves; and, when the
voyagers were passing by, discharged volleys
of shot into their canoes, and of course, as
the distance was small, killed many of them.
They would then rush from their hiding place,
and fall upon and butcher the remainder,
and go off with the plunder, which they had
thus seized, into a distant part of the country. But the better sort of their countrymen, would not join them in such barbarous
and unprovoked hostilities. At length the
good Indians, who were well disposed towards the white people from Canada, pronounced these murderers a nuisance to society, and made war upon them, until the
greater part of them were destroyed. The few
that survived, retired into a distant part of
the country, and nothing has since been
heard, respecting them. The friendly Indians,
for their exertions in extirpating their unworthy relations, were handsomely rewarded
by the North West Company.
The Canadian Yoyagers, when they leave
one stream to go up or down another, have
a custom of pulling off their hats, and making the sign of the cross, upon which one jn 10
each canoe, or at least, in each brigade, repeats a short prayer. The same ceremonies
are observed by them, whenever they pass a
place, where any one has been interred, and
a cross has been erected. Those, therefore,
who are in the habit of voyaging this way,
are obliged to say their prayers more frequently perhaps, than when at home; for
at almost every rapid which we have passed,
since we left Montreal, we have seen a number of crosses erected; and at one, I counted
no less than thirty! It is truly melancholy,
and discouraging, seriously to reflect on the
great number of my fellow creatures, who
have been brought to an untimely end, by
voyaging this way, as I know not but I shall
myself, also, be doomed to the same watery
grave. With such dismal spectacles, however,
almost continuaUy before our eyes, we press
forward, with all the ardour and rashness
of youth, in the same dangerous path, stimulated by the hopes of gratifying the eye, and
of securing a little gold.
Saturday, 24. Lake Huron. We find on
the shore of this lake, low Cranberries, in
great abundance.
Sunday, 25. The wind has been so high,
that it has prevented us from sailing, the
greater part of the day. We are encamped
on an island, of which there are many in this
lake. On one of them, it is reported, that
the Natives killed a snake, which measured
thirty-six feet in length.   The length and HARMON'S JOURNAL.
size of this astonishing serpent, they have
engraved on a large smooth rock, which we
saw, as we passed by. But we have often
seen other engravings, on the rocks, along
the rivers and lakes, of many different kinds
of animals, some of which, I am told, are
not now to be found, in this part of the
world, and probably never existed.
Wednesday, 28. Island of St. Joseph. To
this place the British troops came and built
a fortification, when the Americans took
possession of Michilimackinack. There are
stationed here one Captain, one Lieutenant,
one Ensign, and thirty nine privates. The
fort is built on a beautiful rise of ground,
which is joined to the main island by a narrow neck of land. As it is not long since a
settlement was made here, they have only
four dwelling houses and two stores, on the
other parts of the peninsula; and the inhabitants appear like exiles. The North West
Company have a house and store here. In
the latter, they construct canoes, for sending
into the interiour, and down to Montreal.
Yessels, of about sixty tons burden, come
here from Detroit and Mackana and Soult
St. Maries. The whole island is computed
to be about twenty miles in circumference;
the soil is good; it is distant, nearly nine
hundred miles from Montreal, and forty-five
from Mackana, and is in Lat. 47° North.
Spirits are sold here for six dollars a gallon;
and other things, in the same proportion. 12
Thursday, 29. Duncan McGilvray, Esq.
one of the agents for the North West Company, arrived in the morning, at St. Josephs,
from Mackana; and soon after, we embarked
on board of our canoes, to come to this
small Island. As the weather is calm, my
fellow-traveller and I intend sleeping in our
canoe; but the labourers will pass the night
on shore.
Friday -30. Soult St. Maries. Here the
North West Company have another establishment on the north side of the Rapid; and on
the opposite shore, there are a few Americans,
Scotch and Canadians, who carry on a small
traffic with the Natives, and also till the
ground a little. The soil about Lake Huron,
which we have just passed, appears to be
good, and the face of the country is low and
level.—Here the North West Company have
built locks, in order to take uploaded canoes,
that they may not be under the necessity of
carrying them by land, to the head of the
Rapid; for the current is too strong to be
stemmed by any craft. The Company are
likewise building a saw mill, at the foot of
the Rapid, to furnish boards, &c. for the
Grand Portage, &c. Here is the outlet of
Lake Superiour, by which its waters pass
into Lake Huron. On each of these lakes,
the North West Company have a vessel.
One goes to the Grand Portage, and the
other to Detroit, &c.
Saturday, 31.   We shall  sleep  where we HARMON'S JOURNAL.
did the last night. Several of us have visited
the people, who live on the other side of the
rapid, where we saw a dance of the Natives,
who are Sauteux or Chippeways.
Sunday, June 1. Point au Pin, or Pine
Point, in Lake Superiour. We here find the
vessel that sails from this to the Grand Portage. I went on board, and the Captain informed me, that she would carry about ninety
five tons, and that she makes four or five
trips every season. I left the Soult St.
Maries, in company with three hundred men,
who are in thirty five canoes.
Monday, 2. Point aux Arable, or Maple
Point. We now form four Brigades, in which
there are six clerks.
Tuesday, 3. A high wind during the whole
day. In the morning, we attempted to sail,
but soon found we could not, without shipping a great deal of water; we therefore
soon landed again, and are encamped, within
one hundred rods of the place where we tarried the last night.
Wednesday, 4. As it has rained and
snowed all day, accompanied by a high wind,
we have not been able to leave our encampment of the last night. Mons. St. Germain,
who has the charge of a small Fort, belonging to the North West Company, not far
from this, visited us, and brought with him
a few necessaries.
Thursday, 5. Although the swells in the
Lake  are  very high, we  have  made  good 14
progress, during the whole day. We are
encamped near a large rock, on which the
Natives, as they pass this way, leave an
arrow or two, or some other article of little
value to appease the Devil, or Muchamuna-
too, as they call him, and prevent him from
doing them harm.
Sunday, 8. In the course of the day, we
have passed several islands, which, as well
as the main land, appear to be covered with
little else besides moss, with here and there
a shrubby spruce.
Monday, 9. In the morning we passed
another Fort, belonging to the North West
Tuesday, 10. We are obliged to anchor
our canoes by a small island, instead of unloading them, as is customary every night,
for the whole country is on fire; but whether
by accident or design, I am unable to learn.
Our people, who pass this way every summer, say that, almost every year, fire runs
over this part of the country, which is, of
course, nearly destitute of animals, of any
Sugar Point.   Our people
say we have sailed ninety miles during the
Friday, 13. Grand Portage, where we
arrived late this evening. This place lies in
the 48th degree of north latitude; and is
said to be nine hundred miles from the Soult
St. Maries, and eighteen hundred from Mon- HARMON'S JOURNAL.
treal. The Fort, which is twenty four rods
by thirty, is built on the margin of a bay,
at the foot of a hill or mountain, of considerable height. Within the fort, there is a
considerable number of dwellinghouses, shops
and stores, all of which appear to be slight
buildings, and designed only for present convenience. The houses are surrounded by
palisades, which are about eighteen inches in
diameter, and are sunk nearly three feet in
the ground, and rise about fifteen feet above
it. The bay is so shallow that the vessel
cannot approach the shore, unless she is almost without lading. There is a considerable island, directly opposite to the fort,
which shelters the vessel from the winds that
blow from the Lake; and which renders this
a tolerably good harbour. There is also another fort, which stands about two hundred
rods from this, belonging to the X. Y. Company, under which firm, a number of merchants of Montreal and Quebec, &c. now
carry on a trade into this part of the country. It is only three years since they made
an establishment here; and as yet, they have
had but little success.
This is the Head Quarters or General Rendezvous, for all who trade in this part of the
world; and therefore, every summer, the
greater part of the Proprietors and Clerks,
who have spent the winter in the Interiour
come here. with the furs which they have
been alple to collect, during the preceding sear 16
son. This, as I am told, is about the time
when they generaUy arrive; and some of them
are already here. The people who come from
Montreal with the goods, go no farther than
this, excepting a few who take those articles
to the Rainy Lake, which are intended for
Athabasca, as that place lies at too great
a distance from this, to permit people who
reside there to come to this place and return,
before the winter commences. Those who
bring the goods from Montreal, on their
return, take down the furs, &c. from the
Excellent fish, I am informed, are taken
here. White fish are sometimes speared, which
will weigh twenty-two pounds. The water
in the lake is uncommonly clear.
Sunday, 15. The people here pass the
Sabbath, much in the same manner as they
do, the other days of the week. The labouring people have been employed, during the
day, in making and pressing packs of furs,
to be sent to Canada. This appears, not
as it should be, to me, who have been taught
to abstain from labour on the sabbath,
and to consider that it should be employed
in a religious manner. The people, however, who have been long in this savage
country, have no scruples of conscience on
this subject.
Tuesday, 24. I have, for some days past,
been employed, together with several other
clerks, in  marking packs  of furs.   Almost HARMON'S JOURNAL.
every day, for some time past, people have
been flocking in from the Interiour, with the
returns of the season.
Saturday, 28. The last night, a squaw,
in a state of intoxication, stabbed her husband, who soon after expired. This afternoon, I went to their tent, where I saw a
number of Indians, of both sexes, drinking
and crying over the corpse, to which they
would frequently offer rum, and try to pour
it down his throat, supposing him to be as
fond of rum when dead, as he was when
alive. The Natives of this place are Chippe-
Friday, July 4. In the day time, the
Natives were permitted to dance in the fort,
and the Company made them a present of
thirty six gallons of shrub. In the evening,
the gentlemen of the place dressed, and we
had a famous ball, in the dining room.
For musick, we had the bag-pipe, the violin
and the flute, which added much-to the interest of the occasion. At the ball, there
was a number of the ladies of this country;
and I was surprised to find that they could
conduct with so much propriety, and dance
so well.
Sunday, 13. Yesterday, several gentlemen,
on their way to their winter quarters, accompanied me to Charlotte, at the other end of
this Portage, which is nine miles over. My
business was to send off a number of canoes,
bound for Fort des Prairies.    The country 18
between this and Fort Charlotte, is tolerably
level; and the soil appears to be pretty good.
Tuesday, 15. This morning a number of
gentlemen, as well as myself, left the Grand
Portage, to proceed to winter quarters. I
am to accompany John McDonald, Esq. to
Fort des Prairies. We left Fort Charlotte,
about 3 o'clock P. M. on board of two
canoes, each of which will carry about two
tons, and is pushed on by six Canadians.
This is a small river; and we have passed
several places, where the men were obliged
to carry the ladings, a short distance, and
in some places, to transport the canoes also.
Wednesday, 16. The Long Cherry Portage. In the former part of the day, we
crossed small lakes and ponds, connected by.
several portages, and then came over the
height of land. Since passing this, we have
descended a small river, which, I am informed, after running through several lakes,
at length discharges itself into Hudson's Bay,
in latitude 51° north. At the mouth of this
river, the Hudson Bay Company have a fort,
which is called Albany Factory.
Friday, 18. Great Pines. We have this
day crossed the Flinty Lake, so named from
the stones, found on its shore. For some
time past, I have had a fit of the ague and
fever, every day. It commenced when I was
crossing the large Lakes; and, I am told,
that it is seldom that a person is attacked
with it, in the region where I now am. HARMON'S JOURNAL.
Monday, 21. For the last few days, we
have been crossing small lakes and ponds,
and coming down a small river. The country appears thinly timbered, lies rather low,
and the soil is good.
Tuesday, 22. This evening, there came
here three canoes, manned by Iroquois, who
are going into the vicinity of the upper Red
River, to hunt Beaver, for the North West
Company. Some of them have their families
with them.
Thursday, 24. Rainy Lake Fort. This is
built about a mile and a half down the river,
from the entrance of the Lake, where there
is a considerable fall. Here the soil is better
than any we have seen, since we left the
Ottawa River. The timber, also, is of a very
good size. The Lake and River are said to
contain excellent fish, such as sturgeon, white-
fish, &c. In the vicinity, a considerable
quantity of wild rice is gathered, by the
Natives, who are Chippeways. This is
thought to be nearly as nourishing as the
real rice, and almost as palatable. The kernel of the former, is rather longer than that
of the latter, and is of a brownish colour.
Friday, 25. In the former part of the day,
we overtook several gentlemen, who, like
ourselves, are on their way to their winter
quarters. This is a beautiful river, and
pretty free from rapids.
Saturday, 26. This morning, we met
twenty-four canoes from Athabasca.    They 20
say they suffered much for want of food, on
their way; and during four days, ate nothing.
We gave them a dram, which made them
almost forget their late sufferings. They
will arrive at the Rainy Lake, later than
Monday, 28. We have come down several
rapids, at one of which a canoe was broken,
the last year, and a man drowned. We are
still in the Rainy Lake River, which is about
one hundred and twenty miles long, and
twelve or fifteen rods broad. The land on
each side is low, and is said to be excellent.
The timber consists of birch, a species of
pine, hemlock, poplar, aspin, cedar, &c.
Tuesday, 29*. This day we came across
the Woody Lake, which is full of islands.
It is about thirty-six miles in length; and
the soil about it is much like that, along
the Rainy Lake River. We are now in Wini-
pick River, and have passed a rapid where
the last year, three men were drowned. One
of our men fired at a black bear, but did
not kill him.
Wednesday, 30. Passed a number of miry
Portages, and a place where, three years
since, the Natives, who are Chippeways, fired
upon our people, but without killing any of
them. One of the Indians was taken, with
the intention of carrying him to the nearest
Fort, and there punishing him as he deserved.
After proceeding a considerable distance,
however, and when near a rapid, he jumped HARMON'S JOURNAL.
out of the canoe, intending, as was supposed, to swim to the opposite shore, and
thus escape. But the current was too strong;
and he went down the rapid, and was probably drowned.
Thursday, 31. Mouth of the River Wini-
pick. Here the North West Company, and
the Hudson Bay Company, have each a
fort. Here the above named river discharges
its waters into Lake Winipick. The River
Winipick, through the greater part of its
course, is a succession of small lakes; and
in several places there are falls, of a considerable height. The country around it is
broken; and occasionally, majestick and
frightful waterfalls are to be seen, particularly where the White River joins this,
about thirty miles above where we now are.
A few miles above this, there is a small
lake, called Lac de Bonne, from which the
Hudson Bay people leave our rout, and proceed toward the Albany Factory. The soil
is good; and among the fruit, I observe the
red plum. The grape, also, grows well in
this vicinity. In the neighbouring woods, a
few moose and deer are found; and the Lake
and River are well supplied with fish.—Our
"people are employed in drying the goods
some of which were wet, in coming down the
rapids, yesterday.
Saturday, August 2. When I left the Grand
Portage, it was expected that I should go
up the Sisiscatchwin river, to spend the win- 22
ter. That river falls into the north western
end of Lake Winipick. But, since our arrival
here, we have received intelligence from the
Swan River Department, which country lies
between Lake Winipick and the Red and
Assiniboin Rivers, that, in the opinion of Mr.
McLeod, who superintends the concerns of
that region, it is necessary to make another
establishment there. It is therefore determined that I shall go and take charge of it;
and I shall accordingly remain here a few
days, to wait for the arrival of the brigade,
destined to the Swan River department.—
The after part of the day, I spent in shooting pigeons, which I found to be numerous,
as at this season, red raspberries, and other
kinds of fruit, are ripe, and exist here in
Sunday, 3. In walking in the adjacent
country, I saw the bushes and brambles
loaded with ripe fruit. While partaking of
it, I was led to reflect on the beneficence of
the great Authour of nature, who scatters
his favours with an unsparing hand, and
spreads a table here in the wilderness, for
the refreshment of his creatures.
This is the first day which I have ever
spent, since my infancy, without eating either
bread or biscuit. As a substitute for bread,
we now make use of what the Natives call
pimican, which consists of lean meat, dried
and pounded fine, and then mixed with melted
fat.   This compound is put into bags, made HARMON'S JOURNAL.
of the skins of the buff aloe, &c. and when
cold, it becomes a solid body. If kept in a
dry place, it will continue good for years.
But, if exposed to moisture, it will soon become musty, and unfit for use. Pimican is
a very palatable, nourishing and healthy
food; and on it, our Yoyagers subsist, while
travelling in this country. Sometimes we add
to the two above named ingredients, sugar
or dried berries, which we procure from the
Natives; and the taste of it is thus very
much improved.
Monday, 4. I have visited the Hudson
Bay people, whose fort is but a few rods
from ours. Mr. Miller, the gentleman who
has charge of it, informed me, that they
obtain their goods from Albany Factory;
that, in going down with their barges, they
are generally about forty days; but, that
they are nearly twice that time in returning,
in consequence of the current. The Factory
lies to the north east from this.
Wednesday, 6. This morning Mr. Mc-
Donell, whom we passed a few days since,
overtook, and informed us, that one of his
canoes broke, in coming down the rapids,
that one of the men was drowned, and most
of the property on board was lost.
Friday, 8. This evening, Mons. Mayotte
took a woman of this country for a wife, or
rather concubine. All the ceremonies attending such an event, are the following. When
a person  is desirous of taking one of the 24
daughters of the Natives, as a companion,
he makes a present to the parents of the
damsel, of such articles as he supposes will
be most acceptable; and, among them, rum
is indispensable; for of that all the savages
are fond, to excess. Should the parents
accept the articles offered, the girl remains
at the fort with her suitor, and is clothed
in the Canadian fashion. The greater part
of these young women, as I am informed,
are better pleased to remain with the white
people, than with their own relations. Should
the couple, newly joined, not agree, they
are at liberty, at any time, to separate;
but no part of the property, given to the
parents of the girl, wiU be refunded.
Sunday, 10. Lake Winipick. In the former
part of the day, the people for whom I have
long been waiting, came up; and soon after,
I embarked with them, and came hither.
Although we are not in want of provisions,
yet our people have killed a dog to eat, the
flesh of which, they say, is delicious. The
dogs of this country, which resemble wolves,
differ considerably from the dogs, found in
the civilized part of the world.
Monday, 11. We embarked, early in the
morning; but soon, the wind blew so as to
oblige us to make the land, which we have
done, on a point that projects far into the
Lake. Soon after we reached the shore, a
number of the Indians of this quarter, who
are Chippeways and Muscagoes, came to pay HARMON'S JOURNAL.
their respects to us, to whom we gave some
rum, tobacco, &c.
Sunday, 17. Entrance of the River Dau-
phine. Lake Winipick, which we now leave to
go up this river, is about two hundred and
fifty miles in length* and from three to sixty
or seventy, in breadth. The country about
this lake, for a considerable distance, is
low, and is overspread with pretty heavy
timber, and the soil appears to be good.
Dauphine river is so shallow, at present,
that our people are under the necessity of
leaving half their ladings, for which they
will return, after having proceeded a certain
distance with the remainder.
Tuesday, 19. Last night, the wind blew
so high, that it drove the water of the Lake
to .such a distance up the beach, that we
were under the necessity of removing our
baggage farther into the woods, at three
different times. This morning, our people
came back for the remainder of the property; and we proceeded up the river, which
is about ten rods wide. The country about
it is level.
Wednesday, 20. Lac St. Martin. The river
Dauphine passes through this lake. We here
see a great number of swans, bustards, pelicans, &c. The country around is swampy;
and I am informed, that Moose are numerous in the vicinity.
Friday, 22. This morning we left Lac
St.  Martin,   and entered the Muddy Lake, £6
where we again find fowls, in great abundance.
Saturday, 23. North End of the Plain
Portage. This portage is about two miles
over, through a beautiful country, and the
soil is excellent.
Sunday, 24. Little Lake Winipick. Here
we find a number of the Natives, who are
Chippeways, waiting our arrival, to get
rum to drink, and necessaries, to enable
them to hunt the beaver.
Monday, 25. WTe remain still, where we were
the last night; and have been employed,
during the day, in making out a selection
of goods for the establishment at the entrance of the river Dauphine, which falls
into the west end of this Lake. At that
place, a French missionary resided, before
the British obtained possession of Canada.
We remained there, but for a short time;
and great success, therefore, could not have
been expected. I am told, however, that
there are some Indians, still living, who
recollect prayers, which were taught them
by the missionary.
Saturday, 30. Encampment Island. Here
we arrived, in the fore part of the day; and
we have been employed, ever since, in setting
aside goods for the Red Deer River, which
falls into this lake, at the north end. We
are now nearly across the lake, which is
about one hundred and twenty miles long,
and from five, to thirty broad.   There are HARMON'S JOURNAL.
no mountains, of any magnitude, in this
part of the country. The land is generally
low, and well covered with timber, which
consists of a species of pine, birch, poplar,
aspin, willow, &c.
Friday, September 1. In the morning,
Mr. McGillis, with most of the people, left
us to proceed to the Red Deer River, where
they are to pass the ensuing winter. Mr.
McLeod, with a number of people in one
canoe, has gone to Lac Bourbon, which place
lies nearly north west from this. We here
take, in nets, the white fish, which are excellent.
Wednesday, 3. I have passed the day in
reading the Bible, and in meditating on my
present way of living; and, I must confess,
that it too much resembles that of a savage.
Sunday, 7. Late the last evening, Mr.
McLeod returned from Lac Bourbon; and,
this morning they again embarked for Swan
River, and left me here, with two men, and
as many women, to wait for the arrival of
a number of canoes, which are still behind,
but which are expected in daily.
Wednesday, 10. Yesterday, a part of the
people arrived, for whom I have been waiting,
some of whom I sent to the Red Deer River,
and others to Swan River.
. Sunday, October 4. North End of Little
Lake Winipick. From the 29th of August,
until the morning of this day, I remained
on Encampment Island, waiting for the ar- 28
rival of the people, who were left behind.
But, as they had almost constantly high
winds, which, I am told, are common in this
late part of the season, they did not make
their appearance, until the second instant.
During the long stay which I made at
that unpleasant Island, we had little or nothing to eat, excepting what we took from
the water with our nets. There were times
when we met with little success. When the
wind was high, we could not set our nets;
and consequently took nothing. One night
the wind was so high, that it took the only
canoe which we had, to the other side of
the Lake, a distance of five miles, at least.
We were thus deprived of the means of setting our nets. On the eighth day after this
disaster, Providence sent an Indian to the
place of our encampment, who lent us his
canoe to go in search of ours, which our people found, uninjured. While we had no canoe,
we were under the disagreeable necessity
of living upon the fish which we had left
on the beach, when we took them in plenty.
They had, by this time, become almost putrid. Unsavoury, however, as they were, they
did not last so long as we could have wished;
for, when they were expended, we had nothing to eat, until a kind Providence sent a
black bear near our tents. One of my men
fired, and killed him, which was a blessing,
for which we endeavoured to be thankful.
We considered it sent by Heaven;, and felt, HARMON'S JOURNAL.
that we deserved not such a favour. But
the rain descends on the unjust as well as
the just.—Yesterday, it snowed, during most
of the day, which prevented us from decamping. But early this morning, without reluctance, we left the solitary Island, where
many a moment of ennui passed over me.
As I had no other book, I read during my
stay there the greater part of the Bible.
This afternoon, we met two men, in a small
canoe, from Swan River, loaded with provisions, for the people of the Red Deer River.
We did not suffer so good an opportunity,
for furnishing ourselves with a sufficiency
of food, to sustain us until we should meet
with another supply, to pass unimproved.
How delicious is food to a person who is
near famishing! But there are thousands,
who know not how to prize abundance, because they have never experienced the distresses of want.
Thursday, October 9. Little Swan River.
Yesterday, on account of high winds, we
could not leave our encampment; but early
this morning, we embarked on board of our
canoes, and at twelve, left Little Lake Winipick, and entered this river, which is eight
or ten rods wide, very shallow, and full of
rapids. I therefore debarked, and walked
along on the beach about four miles, 4n the
snow, mud and water. The people, also,
for want of a sufficiency of water, were
obliged  to  debark,   and drag their canoes 30
up the shallow places. But we are now encamped around a large fire, with plenty of
food; I have given to each of the people
a dram, and we have all ceased to think
of the fatigue and trouble of the day. To
make a place to lie down, the people scrape
away the snow, and lay down a few branches
of the pine, such as this country in every
part produces; and on this we spread a
blanket or two, and cover ourselves with
another. A day of hard labour, and of great
fatigue, will enable a person to sleep soundly
on such a bed; and to obtain refreshment,
such as a sluggard will seek for in vain, on
a bed of down.
Friday, 10. Swan River Fort. In the
morning we crossed Swan Lake, which is
nearly eight miles long, and then entered
the Great Swan River. This river is about
eleven rods wide; there is a sufficiency of
water, and there is no rapid from its mouth
to the fort, a distance of twelve miles. The
country adjoining, is low, and in many places,
swampy, and the soil is rich. Mons. Perigne,
the superintendact of the fort, has a tolerable
kitchen garden. The Hudson Bay people
once came here; but it is several years since
they abandoned the place. As they have
vnothing to expect from the Company, but
their salaries, they seem, so far as I can
learn, to make but little exertion to extend
their trade, and, thereby, to benefit their
Saturday, 11. The day has been employed
in fitting out Mons. Perigne, who, with six
labouring men, is to go and build a fort,
about fifty miles up this river, where they
will pass the winter. A few miles from this,
there is a salt spring, by boiling down the
water of which, tolerable salt is made. It
is less strong than that brought from Canada; but, used in sufficient quantity, it will
preserve meat very well.
Sunday, 12. The people destined to build
a fort up the river, left us to day. I shall
remain here until some persons arrive from
Alexandria, which is situated nearly one
hundred miles to the westward of this, among
the Prairies. There I shall pass the winter,
with Mr. McLeod, or go and build by the
side of the Hudson Bay people, who are
about three leagues distant from him.—Our
men shoot a few horses and ducks.
Thursday, 16. We have taken a few fish
out of this river, with nets. This evening,
two men on horses arrived from Alexandria,
by whom I received a letter from Mr. McLeod, requesting me to accompany them to
that place.
Saturday, 18. Second crossing place in
the Swan River. In the morning we left the
fort. The country which we have passed
through, is low; and the timber, consisting
of poplar, aspin, birch, willow, pine and an
inferiour kind of maple, is small. Of the sap
of the maple, sugar is made; but its quality 32
is not equal to that, produced from the real
Monday, 20. Bird Mountain. Here Mons.
Perigne and others are building a fort. Yesterday and to day, our way has been through
prairies, interrupted occasionally, by small
groves of wood. Cranes and Pheasants are
to be seen in the prairies; and to-day I have
also seen and fired at eight Elk, without
having killed any of them. They are about
the size of a cow, and of a light grey colour. The males, which have long branching horns, are animals of a noble and majes-
tick appearance.
Wednesday, 22. The Foot of a High Hill
and near a Small Lake. The waters of this
lake have a sulphureous taste. In the morning, we left Swan River on our right, after
having crossed it on a raft, made by tying
several dry trees together. Since leaving
that river the country appears more hilly,
and almost destitute of timber of any kind.
Cranes and pheasants are to be seen, every
Thursday, 23. Alexandria. We arrived
here in the afternoon; and I am happy to
find myself, at length, at the end of my
journey, and where I hope to pass a few
months, at least, in quietness. The fort is
built on a small rise of ground, on the bank
of the Assiniboine, or Upper Red River, that
separates it from a beautiful prairie, about
ten miles long, and from one to four broad, HARMON'S JOURNAL.
which is as level as the floor of a house.
At a little distance behind the fort, are small
groves of birch, poplar, aspin and pine. On
the whole, the scenery around it, is delightful.
The fort is sixteen rods in length, by twelve
in breadth; the houses, stores, &c, are well
built, are plaistered on the inside and outside, and are washed over with a white earth,
which answers nearly as well as lime, for
white washing. This earth is found, in certain places, in all parts of the country.—
Here horses are to be bought of the Natives
for a mere trifle. They are well built, strong,
and tolerably fleet.
This place lies in Latitude 52° north,
and in 103° west Longitude. Mr. McLeod
is now gone to fort Dauphine, on horse
back, which lies only four day's march from
this, over land; yet it is nearly two months,
since I passed there in a canoe.
Tuesday, 28. Mr. McLeod and company
have just returned from fort Dauphine; and
I am happy in meeting him, after so long a
separation, and he appears to be pleased to
see me, safely here. From the time that I
was left at the Encampment Island until
now, I have had no person with whom I
could converse in English; and I am not
yet able to converse in French, though I can
read it tolerably well.
Sunday, November 9. On the 30th ultimo,
I set off, in company with four Canadians,
on  horse  back,  for Swan River fort.   The 34
day we left this, it snowed and rained, which
caused us to pass a very disagreeable night,
as we had nothing but our wet blankets
with which to cover ourselves. The people
went down for goods; and as there is no
person there who can read and write, I went
to deliver out such articles as we are in
immediate want of here.
Sunday, 16. The Indians who come to
this establishment are Crees and Assiniboins.
The principal part of the former, generally
remain in the woody part of the country,
and hunt the moose, elk, beaver, &c. and
the latter remain in the large prairies, and
hunt buffaloes, wolves, &c. Last Wednesday,
twelve families of Crees and Assiniboins
came from the large prairies, and let us
have furs and provisions. Both the men
and women have been drinking, ever since,
and their noise is very disagreeable; for
they talk, sing and cry, at the same time.—
Our men play at cards on the sabbath, the
same as on any other day. For such improper conduct, I once reproved them; but
their reply was, there is no Sabbath in this
country, and, they added, no God nor devil;
and their behaviour but too plainly shows,
that they spoke as they think. It is a lamentable fact, that those who have been for any
considerable time in this savage country,
lay aside a greater part of the regulations
of civilized and christian people, and behave
little better than the savages.   It is true, HARMON'S JOURNAL.
we have it not at all times in our power,
to observe the sabbath as we ought, as the
Natives come to our establishment as often
on that day, as any other; and when they
do come, they must be attended to, and
their wants must be supplied. We are, also,
frequently under the necessity of travelling
on the Sabbath. But it is likewise true,
that, if we were rightly disposed, our minds
might, on this day, be almost wholly occupied
with divine things. I must, therefore, acknowledge, that we have no reasonable excuse for violating the Sabbath, as we all do.
Wednesday, 19. Last night, there fell
about four inches of snow, which is the first
that we have had, this season.—Yesterday,
eight families of Crees came in. While drinking, one of the women, who had a sharp
pointed knife about her, fell down, and drove
it nearly two inches into her side; but the
wound is not thought to be mortal. To see
a house full of drunken Indians, consisting
of men, women and children, is a most unpleasant sight; for, in that condition, they
often wrangle, pull each other by the hair,
and fight. At some times, ten or twelve, of
both sexes, may be seen, fighting each other
promiscuously, until at last, they all fall
on the floor, one upon another, some spilling
rum out of a small kettle or dish, which
they hold in their hands, while others are
throwing up what they have just drunk.
To add to this uproar, a number of children, 36
some on their mothers' shoulders, and others
running about and taking hold of their
clothes, are constantly bawling, the older
ones, through fear that their parents may
be stabbed, or that some other misfortune
may befal them, in the fray. These shrieks
of the children, form a very unpleasant
chorus to the brutal noise kept up by their
drunken parents, who are engaged in the
Sunday, November 30. This, being St. An-
drew's day, which is a fete among the Scotch,
and our Bourgeois, Mr. McLeod, belonging
to that nation, the people of the fort, agreeably to the custom of the country, early in
the morning, presented him with a cross,
&c, and at the same time, a number of
others, who were at his door, discharged a
volley or two of muskets. Soon after, they
were invited into the hall, where they received
a reasonable dram, after which, Mr. McLeod
made them a present of a sufficiency of
spirits, to keep them merry during the remainder of the day, which they drank at
their own house. In the evening, they were
invited to dance in the hall; and during it,
they received several flagons of spirits. They
behaved with considerable propriety, until
about eleven o'clock, when their heads had
become heated, by the great quantity of
spiritous liquor which they had drunk, during
the course of the day and evening. Some
pf them became quarrelsome, as the Cana- HARMON'S JOURNAL.
dians generally are, when intoxicated, and
to high words, blows soon succeeded; and
finally, two battles were fought, which put
an end to this truly genteel, North Western
Tuesday, December 2. As yet, we have
only a few inches of snow. Yesterday morning, accompanied by six men on horse-back,
I went to the lodge or tent of one of our
hunters. The people went for meat, and I,
for the pleasure of riding, and seeing the
country. We arrived at the place where the
Indian was encamped, just as the sun was
sinking below the horizon, and when the
hunter was about to take a sweat, which
is frequently done in the following manner.
The women make a kind of hut, of bended
willows, which is nearly circular, and if for
one or two persons only, not more than
fifteen feet in circumference, and three or
four in height. Over these, they lay the
skins of the buffaloe, &c. and in the centre
of the hut, they place heated stones. The
Indian then enters, perfectly naked, with a
dish of water in his hand, a little of which,
he occasionally throws on the hot stones,
to create steam, which, in connexion with
the heat, puts him into a profuse perspiration. In this situation he will remain, for
about an hour; but a person unaccustomed
to endure such heat, could not sustain
it for half that time. They sweat themselves
in this manner, they say, in order that their 38
limbs may become more supple, and they
more alert, in pursuing animals, which they
are desirous of killing. They, also, consider
sweating a powerful remedy, for the most
of diseases. As they come from sweating,
they frequently plunge into a river, or rub
themselves over with snow. The country
we passed through, is large prairies, with
here and there a grove of small trees. This
evening we returned to the fort; and the
horses of our people were loaded with the
flesh of the moose and elk. The buffaloes
are as yet a considerable distance farther,
out in the spacious prairies. Nothing but
severe cold weather will drive them into
the woody part of the country, to which
they will then come, in order to be less exposed to the wind and weather, than they
would be, to remain in the open plains.
Suuday, 21. There is now about a foot of
snow on the ground; and, on the 11th instant, I left this place, in company with
seven Canadians, for Swan River fort. Each
man had a sledge, drawn by two dogs,
loaded with one hundred and fifty pounds
weight of furs, besides provisions to serve
man and beast, to perform the trip. On our
return, the sledges were loaded with goods.
We reached our fort, this afternoon, where
I am happy to find Mr. Hugh McGillis, on
a visit from Red Deer River, and also, two
men with letters, from Fort des Prairies, or
Sisiscatchwin River.   The former place, lies HARMON'S JOURNAL.
about one hundred and fifty miles from this
and the latter, four or five hundred, in nearly
a north direction.
Wednesday, 24. Yesterday, I went to see
the fort of the Hudson Bay Company, which
is situated about nine miles down this river
and is in the charge of a Mr. Sutherland.
He has a woman of this country, for a wife,
who, I was pleased to find, could speak the
English language, tolerably well. I understand, also, that she can both read and
write it, which she learned to do at Hudson's
Bay, where the Company have a school.
She speaks, likewise, the Cree and Sauteux
languages. She appears to possess natural
good sense, and is far from being deficient,
in acquired knowledge.
Friday, January 2, 1801. The weather,
for several days past, has been severely cold.
Yesterday, being the commencement of a new
year, our people, according to a Canadian
custom, which is to get drunk if possible,
spent the day in drinking, and danced in
the evening; but there was neither scratching
nor fighting on this occasion.
Sunday, 4. In the morning, the greater
part of our people, consisting of men, women
and children, were sent away to pass the
remainder of the winter, about two days'
march from this, in the prairie. They will
subsist on the flesh of the buffaloe, which
they will themselves kill in abundance. During their stay there, they will reside in tents 40
or lodges, made of the skins of the buffaloe,
moose or elk. These skins, after having
been dressed, are sewed together; and one
tent will contain from ten to twenty five
of them. These tents are erected on poles,
and assume the form of a sugar loaf. Ten
or fifteen persons will reside in one of them;
for while there, they are either sitting or
lying down.
The Indians, who come to this, establishment, are, as has been already observed,
Crees and Assiniboins; or as some call them,
Kinistinoes and Stone Indians. Both of them
are numerous tribes; and as they often meet
and intermarry, their manners and customs
are similar; but there is no resemblance in
their languages. Both tribes are weU furnished with horses. The Assiniboins, however, are, by far, the best horsemen; they
never go any distance on foot, and it is
generally on horse back, that they kill their
They mount their horses, and run down
and kill the buffaloe, and some other animals
with bows and arrows, which they find every
way as convenient for this purpose, as fire
arms. But the Crees, when they can procure
them, always make use of guns. Their clothing consists of leggins of cloth or dressed
Antelope skins, a shirt or frock of the same
materials, and a blanket or dressed Buffaloe
skin, which they wrap round their bodies,
and tie about their waists.   To the above HARMON'S JOURNAL.
they will often add a cap or bonnet, of the
wolf skin, and shoes for their feet.
Last evening, I wrote to two fellow travellers with me from Montreal; and the letters
will be taken to them by the winter express,
which leaves this, tomorrow, and is to pass
by the way of Fort des Prairies, thence to
the English River, and thence directly to
Athabasca. And, I am informed, there is
an express, which every year leaves Athabasca, in the month of December, and passes
through the whole country called the North
West, and in the latter part of March, reaches
the Soult St. Maries. Thus the gentlemen
who come up from Montreal, obtain from
the interiour, intelligence respecting the transactions of the preceding summer and fall
much earlier than they could otherwise do.
This information, it is important that they
receive, as soon as possible. This conveyance of intelligence, extending to the distance of nearly three thousand miles, is attended with but a trifling expense to the
Thursday, 15. Beautiful weather. On the
eleventh, I accompanied six of our people to
the tent of one of our hunters; and the day
following, they returned with their sledges
loaded with meat; but I remained, to go
along with the hunter, farther in the prairie.
Accordingly, the next day, I proceeded with
him, and saw, in different herds, at least a
thousand   buffaloes,   grazing.   They   would 42
allow us to come within a few rods of them
before they would leave their places. At
this season, they are tame, and it is not
at all dangerous to go among them. But,
in the fore part of the summer, which is
their rutting season, it is quite the reverse.
Then, if they perceive a human being, the
males will pursue him, and if they can overtake, will trample him under their feet, or
pierce their horns through his body.
The male buffaloe, when fat, will weigh
from one thousand, to fifteen hundred pounds,
and the female, from eight hundred, to a
thousand. Their meat is excellent eating;
but is not generally considered so delicious,
as that of the moose.
Wednesday. February 11. On the 1st
inst. accompanied by eight of our people,
and one of the Natives as a guide, I set
off, with a small assortment of goods, to
go and trade with about fifty families of
Crees and Assiniboins. In going to their
camp or village, we were three days, and at
all times, in an open country. After we
had encamped the first night, there came on
a terrible storm of snow, accompanied by
a strong and cold north wind; and as we
were in an open plain, we had nothing to
shelter us from the violence of the weather.
In the morning, we were covered with snow,
a foot in depth. Our people, however, soon
harnessed the dogs; and we proceeded, hoping to warm ourselves, by running.   TJijs HARMON'S JOURNAL.
we found it difficult to do, as the wind was
strong, and directly in our faces. At the
close of the day, after we had encamped, our
guide killed a fat buffaloe, which supplied
food, both to men and beasts. While eating
it around a large fire, we almost forgot the
suffering which we endured, by the cold of
the preceding night and morning; and, if
we were not thankful for the blessing bestowed upon us, we were, at least, glad to
enjoy it. After having passed one or two
cold days without eating, there is a relish
in food to which the sons of indolence and
of pleasure, are perfect strangers; and which
they can purchase only, at the expense of
toil and hardship.
When we had approached within about a
mile of the camp of the Natives, ten or
twelve of their Chiefs, or most respectable
men among them, came on horseback, to
meet, and conduct us to their dwellings.
We arrived at them, through a crowd of
people, who hailed us with a shout of joy.
Immediately after our arrival, the principal
Chief of the village sent his son, to invite
me and my interpreter to his tent. As soon
as we had entered it, and were seated, the
respectable old Chief caused meat and berries,
and the best of everything which he had, to
be set before us. Before we had eaten much,
we were sent for to another tent, where we
received a similar treatment; and from this,
we were invited to another; and so on, till 44
we had been to more than half a dozen.
At all these, we ate a little, and smoked our
pipes; for, my interpreter informed me, they
would be greatly affronted, and think that
we despised them, if we refused to taste of
every thing which was set before us. Hospitality to strangers, is among the Indian
virtues.—During several days that we remained with these people, we were treated
with more real politeness, than is commonly
shown to strangers, in the civilized part of
the world.
While I was at the camp of the Natives, I
was invited to attend and see them dance.
The dancers were about thirty in number,
and were all clothed with the skins of the
Antelope, dressed, which were nearly as white
as snow; and upon their heads they sprinkled
a white earth, which gave them a very genteel appearance. Their dance was conducted
in the following manner. A man, nearly
forty years of age, rose with his tomahawk
in his hand, and made, with a very distinct
voice, a long harangue. He recounted all
the noble exploits which he had achieved,
in the several war-parties with which he had
engaged his enemies; and he made mention
of two persons, in particular, whom he first
killed, and then took off their scalps; and
for each of these, he gave a blow with his
tomahawk against a post, which was set up,
expressly for that purpose, near the center
of the  tent.   And  now the musick began, HARMON'S JOURNAL.
which consisted of tambourines, and the
shaking of bells, accompanied by singing.
Soon after, the man who had made the
harangue, began the dance, with great majesty; then another arose, and joined him;
and shortly after, another; and so on, one
after another, until there were twelve or
fifteen up, who all danced around a small
fire, that was in the centre of the tent. While
dancing, they made many savage gestures
and shrieks, such as they are in the habit
of making, when they encounter their enemies. In this course, they continued, for
nearly an hour, when they took their seats,
and another party got up, and went through
with the same ceremonies. Their dancing
and singing, however, appeared, to be a
succession of the same things; and therefore after having remained with them two
or three hours, I returned to my lodgings;
and how long they continued their amusement, I cannot say.
In this excursion, we saw buffaloes in
abundance; and when on a small rise of
ground, I think I may with truth affirm,
that there were in view, gazing on the surrounding plains, at least five thousand of
them. Of these animals, we killed what we
wanted for our own subsistence, and the
support of our dogs; and this evening, we
returned to the fort, well pleased with our
jaunt, loaded with furs and provisions, and
without having received the least affront or 46
the smallest injury from the Natives, notwithstanding most of them became intoxicated with the spirits, with which we supplied them. |1§
Tuesday, February 17. We have now
about a foot and a half of snow on the
ground.—Mr. Monteur, accompanied by two
Canadians, arrived, with letters from our
friends, in Fort des Prairies.—This morning,
one of our people killed a buffaloe in the
Prairie, opposite to the fort; and another
came within ten rods of the fort gate, when
the dogs pursued him, and he ran off.
Thursday, 19. This day, I am twenty
three years of age, and how rapidly does
this space of time appear to have passed
away! It seems as if it were but yesterday,
that I was a child. The truth is, the time
that we are allowed to remain in this fleeting world is so short, even if we should be
permitted to reach the utmost boundary of
human life, that a person can scarcely have
passed the threshold of existence, before he
must set his house in order to die.
Friday, 20. During the last night, we sat
up to deal out spirits to the Indians. One
of them has his own daughter for a wife, and
her mother at the same time! Incest, however, is a crime, of which the Indians of this
quarter are not often guilty. When one of
them does commit it, he is regarded by the
rest of his tribe, as void of sense.
Saturday, March 14.   The greater part of HARMON'S JOURNAL.
the snow is now dissolved. On the sixth
inst. accompanied by eighteen of our people,
I left this, to go to Swan River fort. We
had thirty sledges, some drawn by horses,
and some by dogs, which were loaded with
furs and provisions.
Saturday, April 4. Swan River Fort. Here
I arrived this afternoon, and have come to
pass the remainder of the spring. While at
Alexandria, my time passed agreeably in
company with A. N. McLeod, Esq. who is a
sensible man, and an agreeable companion.
He appeared desirous of instructing me in
what was most necessary to be known,
respecting the affairs of this country; and
a taste for reading I owe, in a considerable
degree, to the influence of his example.
These, with many other favours, which he
was pleased to show me, I shall ever hold
in grateful remembrance.—But now I am
comparatively alone, there being no person
here, able to speak a word of English; and
as I have not been much in the company
of those who speak.the French language, I
do not as yet, understand it very well. Happily for me, I have a few books; and in perusing them, I shall pass most of my leisure
Monday, 6. I have taken a ride on horseback, to a place where our people are making
sugar. My path led me over a small prairie,
and through a wood, where I saw a great
variety  of birds, that were straining their
/ t*
"% 48
tuneful throats, as if to welcome the return
of another spring; small animals, also, were
running about, or skipping from tree to
tree, and at the same time, were to be seen
swans, bustards, ducks, &c. swimming about
in the river and ponds. All these things
together, rendered my ramble beyond expression delightful.
Friday, 10. Fine pleasant weather. This
afternoon, I took a solitary, yet pleasing
walk, to the ruins of a fort, which was abandoned, a few years since, by the Hudson Bay
people, to whom it belonged, but who do not
now come into jbhis part of the country.
While surveying these ruins, I could not
avoid reflecting on the short duration of
every thing in this fleeting and perishing
world. I then went to a spot, where a number of their people had been interred, far
from their native country, their friends and
relations! And while I was lamenting their
sad fate, my blood chilled at the thought,
that what had happened to them might,
very probably, befal me also. But my prayer
shall ever be, that a merciful God will, in
due time, restore me to my friends and relations, in good health, and with an unblemished character.
Sunday, 19. On Friday last, there fell
nearly a foot of snow, which, however, was
soon dissolved; and it caused the river to
overflow its banks to such a distance, that
our people who   were   making   sugar,   were HARMON'S JOURNAL.
obliged to leave the woods and return to
the fort.
Tuesday, 21. All the snow has left us;
and we are again favoured with fine weather.
The last night, the ice in this river broke
Monday, 27. It has snowed all day, and
has fallen to the depth of six inches.—I now
begin to feel the want of books, having
brought but few with me, on account of the
short time that I expect to remain here.
Saturday, May 2. It has rained all day,
which is the first time that any has fallen,
since the last autumn.—As I have but little
business that requires my attention, I employ the greater part of my time in reading
the Bible, and in studying the French language.
Sunday, 10. It has rained constantly, during three successive days, which has caused
the water in the river, since yesterday, to.
rise more than four feet.—Yesterday, one of
my men went out to shoot ducks, and lost
his way, and was therefore under the necessity of passing the night in the woods, without any covering from the cold and the rain,
which poured down in torrents. This morning, however, by chance, or rather directed
by an all protecting Providence, he fell upon
a small foot path, which brought him directly to the fort, where he was not a little
pleased to arrive. Experience only can
teach us how to value such a deliverance. 50
Wednesday, 13. The late rains have caused
this river to overflow its banks to such an
uncommon distance, that when I arose this
morning, to my surprise, I found seven inches
of water, on the first floor of the house,
which is an event that the oldest person here
does not remember before to have witnessed.
We are obliged to leave the fort, and to
pitch our tents on a small rise of ground,
at no great distance off, where we shall remain until the deluge is abated.
Friday, 15. Sent five men with a canoe,
two days march up this river, for Mr. McLeod and company, as the face of the country extensively lies under water.
Wednesday, 20. The water has left the
fort; and with pleasure, we leave our tents,
to occupy our former dwellings. This afternoon Mr. McLeod, and company, arrived,
and are thus far on their way to the Grand
Tuesday, 26. Yesterday, our people finished making our furs into packs, of ninety
pounds weight each. Two or three of these
make a load for a man, to carry across the
portages. This morning, all the hands, destined to this service, embarked on board of
five canoes, for Head-quarters. To Mr. McLeod, I delivered a packet of letters, to be
forwarded to my friends, who reside at Yer-
gennes, in the state of Yermont, and tomorrow, I shall set out for Alexandria, where I
expect to pass the ensuing summer, and to t—-
superintend the affairs of that place and of
this, until the next autumn.
Monday, June 1. Accompanied by two
men, I arrived at Alexandria, this afternoon*;
.and I here found six families of Crees, encamped about the fort. I have with me one
clerk, two interpreters and five labouring
men, also six women and thirteen children,
belonging to our people, and a number of
women and children belonging to the Natives, whose husbands have gone to make
war upon the Rapid Indians, or as they call
themselves, Paw-is-tick I-e-ne-wuck. This is
a small but brave tribe, who remain a considerable distance out in the large prairies,
and toward the upper part of the Missouri
river. We shall have nearly one hundred
mouths to fill, for the greater part of the
summer, out of our store; but to furnish the
means, we have hired two of the Natives to
hunt for us, during the season; and moose,
elk, &c. are considerably numerous in this
vicinity. We hope, therefore, that we shall
not want for the means of subsistence. Buffaloes have now returned several days' march
from this place, into the spacious prairies;
but this is no serious loss to us, since, if
they were near they would be but indifferent
food, as at this season of the year, they are
always lean, and consequently, rank and
Wednesday, 10. It is currently reported
and  believed,   that  the  Rapid Indians are 52
forming a war-party, in order 'to come
against the Indians of this quarter, whom
they consider, and I think with sufficient
reason, as their enemies. Should they come
this way, they will as probably fall upon us
as upon the Natives themselves; for they say
that we furnish the Crees and Assiniboins
with what fire arms they want, while they
get but 'few. I have, therefore, thought it
expedient to direct our people, to build
block-houses over the fort gates, and to put
the bastions in order, that we may be prepared to defend ourselves, in case of an
Sunday, 14. This afternoon, a number
of the Natives danced in the fort. Their
dance was conducted in the following manner. Two stakes were driven into the ground,
about twenty feet apart; and as one person beat the drum, the others, consisting of
men and women, danced round these stakes.
The men had a different step from that of
the women. The latter placed both feet together, and first moved their heels forward
and then their toes, and thus went twice
round the stakes. But the men rather hopped
than danced, and therefore went twice round
the stakes, while the women went once.
They all kept exact time with the music, for
they have excellent ears. Indeed, I believe
that all their senses are more acute than
those of the white people.
Thursday, July 9.   This day, there came HARMON'S JOURNAL
here an American, that, when a small child,
was taken from his parents, who then resided in the Illinois country. He was kidnapped by the Sauteux, with whom he has
resided ever since; and he speaks no other
language excepting theirs. He is now about
twenty years of age, and is regarded as a
chief among that tribe. He dislikes to hear
people speak to him, respecting his white
relations; and in every respect excepting his
colour, he resembles the savages, with whom
he resides. He is said to be an excellent
hunter. He remains with an old woman
who, soon after he was taken from his relations adopted him into her family; and
they appear to be mutually as fond of each
other, as if they were actually mother and
Thursday, 30. Different kinds of berries
are now ripe, such as strawberries, raspberries, and what the Canadians call paires,
which the Natives denominate Mi-sas-qui-to-
min-uck. The last, if they are not the same
in kind, exactly resemble, in shape and taste,
what in the New England states are called
shad berries. When they are found in the
prairies, they grow on bushes, four or five
feet high; but in a thick wood they often
reach to the height of fifteen or twenty feet.
Of this wood, the Natives always make their
arrows. These berries, when properly dried
by the sun, have an agreeable taste, and are
excellent to mix with pimican.   The Natives 54
generaUy boil them in the broth of fat meat;
and this constitutes one of their most dainty
dishes, and is introduced at all their feasts.
Mr. A. N. McLeod has a son here named
Alexander, who is nearly five years of age,
and whose Mother is of the tribe of the
Rapid Indians. In my leisure time, I am
teaching him the rudiments of the English
language. The boy speaks the Sauteux and
Cree fluently, for a child; and makes himself understood tolerably well, in the Assini-
boin and French languages. In short, he is
like most of the children of this country,
blessed with a retentive memory, and learns
very readily.
We have made about ten tons of hay, to
feed those of our horses which we intend
shaU work, during the winter season. The
others live the whole year, upon the grass
which they find in the prairies. In the winter, to procure it, they must scrape away,
with their feet, the snow, which is generally
eighteen inches deep, excepting on the highest
hills, from which the wind drives most of it
into the vallevs.
Thursday, August 27. All the provision
which we now have in the fort, consists of
only about fifteen pounds of pimican; and
when we shall be able to add to our supply,
God only knows. All our dependence is on
our hunters; and it is now a considerable
time since they have killed anything, though
moose and elk are numerous in the vicinity. HARMON'S JOURNAL.
Sunday, 30. Yesterday, three of our people arrived from the Grand Portage, with
letters from Mr. McLeod, &c, which inform
me, that the above mentioned people, together with others who remained at Swan
River fort, were sent off from head quarters,
earlier than usual, with an assortment of
goods, supposing, that we might need some
articles, before the main brigade arrives.
Sunday, September 6. This is the third
day, during which it has rained, without the
least cessation.—There are five families of
Crees, encamped about the fort, who have
been continually drunk, during the last forty
eight hours; but now they begin to be troublesome, for they have nothing more to sell,
yet they wish to continue drinking.
One of the Indians who was of the party
that last spring went to war, has recently
come in. When he arrived, his face was
painted entirely black, which I am informed,
is always their custom, when they return
from such expeditions. As he drew nigh to
the fort, he began to sing a war song. He
states, that his party, the Crees and Assiniboins, have made great slaughter among
their enemies, the Rapid Indians, and are
bringing a number of their women and children home for slaves. He was sent forward, as he says, to inform us of what they
consider glorious news.
Monday, 7. More of the Indians, who
have been to war, have reached this place, 56
and have brought several slaves, and a few
scalps, with them. This afternoon, they
danced and sung their war songs. Agreeably
to the custom of the country, I gave them
a few trifling articles, not as a reward for
having been to war, but because they have
done us honour, as they think, by dancing in
our fort.
Sunday, 27. It has snowed and rained all
day. This afternoon, Mr. McLeod and company, returned from the Grand Portage, and
delivered to me letters from my friends in my
native land; and I am happy in being informed, that they left them blessed with
good health. Self-banished, as I am, in this
dreary country, and at such a distance from
all I hold dear in this world, nothing beside,
could give me half the satisfaction, which
this intelligence affords. I also received several letters from gentlemen in different parts
of the widely extended North West Country.
Friday, October 2. Montague Aiseau, or
the Bird Mountain. In the morning, I left
Alexandria, on horse back, and arrived here
this evening where, by permission of Provi-.
dence, I shall pass the ensuing year. I have
with me three interpreters, six labouring men
and two women. The fort is built on the
bank of Swan River, a little more than fifty
miles distant from its entrance into Swan
Lake. The Indians who frequent this establishment are Sauteux, Crees and Mus-ca-
goes, all of whom speak  nearly  the  same HARMON'S JOURNAL.
language. Moose and elk are considerably
numerous, in this vicinity; but buffaloes
seldom come thus far, into the woody country.
Thursday, 29. On the 22nd instant, Mr.
McLeod, with ten of his people, arrived on
horseback; and on the day following, I accompanied them to the lower fort, where I
met Mr. William Henry, a clerk. Mr. McLeod
has also brought another clerk into this
country, by the name of Frederick Goedike.
This evening, Messrs. McLeod,' Henry and
myself returned, but left the people behind,
whose horses are loaded with goods, for
this place and Alexandria.
Tuesday, November 3. Snow has fallen
to the depth of three inches, which is the
first that we have had, this fall.
Thursday,. 19. A foot and a half of snow
has fallen.
Wednesday, December 23. Clear and cold.
On the 16th inst. I went to Alexandria,
where I passed several days agreeably, in the
company of Messrs. McLeod, Henry, and
Goedike. We have now more snow than we
.had at any time the last winter. In consequence of lameness, I returned on a sledge
drawn by dogs.
Friday, 25. This being Christmas day,
agreeably to the custom of the country, I
gave our people a dram, and a pint of spirits
Monday,   28.   Payet,   one  of   my   inter- 58
preters, has taken one of the daughters of
the Natives for a wife; and to her parents,
he gave in rum, dry goods, &c. to the value
of two hundred dollars. No ceremonies attend the formation of such connexions, as I
have before remarked, excepting that the
bridegroom, at the time to retire to rest,
shows his bride where their common lodging
place is; and they continue to cohabit, as
long as both parties choose, but no longer.
One thing is secured by this arrangement,
which is by no means always found in the
civilized world, and that is, while persons
live together, in a state of wedlock, they will
live in harmony.
Friday, January 1, 1802. This being
the first day of the year, in the morning, I
gave the people a dram or two, and a pint
of rum each, to drink in the course of the
day, which enabled them to pass it merrily,
although they had very little to eat; for our
hunters say they can kill nothing. One of
them will not go out of his tent; for he
imagines, that the Bad Spirit, as they call
the devil, is watching an opportunity to
find him in the open air, in order to devour
him.   What will not imagination do!
Saturday, 9. Several days since, I sent a
number of my people to Alexandria for meat,
as neither of my% hunters kill any thing;
though there is no scarcity of animals in
this vicinity. But they have just returned,
without any thing.   They say that the buffa- II
loes, in consequence of the late mild weather,
have gone a considerable distance, into the
large prairie. We are therefore under the
necessity of subsisting on pounded meat, and
dried chokecherries. This latter article, is
little better than nothing. When we shall
be in a better situation, God only knows.
Hope, however, which seldom abandons the
wretched, denies us not her comforting aid;
and past experience teaches us, that it is
possible our circumstances, may suddenly
change for a better.
Sunday, 17. Last evening, our people
brought from the tent of the hunter, the
meat of a moose, which lighted up a smile
of joy upon our countenances. We were
happy to find, that a kind Providence, instead of abandoning, had favoured us with
one of the richest dainties, that this country affords. It would be well if our joy was
true gratitude to our kind Benefactor.—
There are twelve persons in the fort; and
yet for the last fifteen days, we have subsisted on what was scarcely sufficient for two
people! These were certainly the darkest
days that I ever experienced, in this or any
other country.
Tuesday, 19. I have taken a walk, accompanied by Payet, a short distance from
the fort, where we found hazelnuts, still on
the bushes, in such plenty, that a person may
easily gather a bushel in the course of a day.
I am told, that when sheltered from the wind.
1 60
all of them do not fall off, until the month
of May.
Monday, February 1. For several days
past, the weather has been excessively cold;
and this has been, I think, the coldest day
that I ever experienced. In fact, the weather
is so severe, that our hunters dare not venture out of their tents, although they, as
well as ourselves, have little to eat.
Sunday, 7. During the last three days, we
have subsisted on tallow and dried cherries.
This evening, my men returned from Alexandria, with their sledges loaded with buffaloe
meat; and the sight of it, was truly reviving.
Had this favour been withheld from us a
few days longer, we must have all miserably
perished by famine.
Monday, 8. All the Indians of this place,
excepting my hunters, have gone to pass
about a couple of months, as they are accustomed to do, at this season, on their beloved food, the buffaloe.
Friday, 19. At present, thanks to the
Giver of all good, we have a pretty good
stock of provisions in store, and there fore
expect not to want, this season.
Saturday, March 6. I have just returned
from a visit to my friends at Alexandria,
where I passed four days very pleasantly, in
conversing in my mother tongue. This is a
satisfaction that no one knows, excepting
those, who have been situated as I am,
with a people with whom I  cannot  speak HARMON'S JOURNAL.
fluently. And if I could, it would afford me
little satisfaction to converse with the ignorant Canadians around me. All their chat
is about horses, dogs, canoes, women and
strong men, who can fight a good battle.
I have, therefore, only one way left to pass
my time rationally, and that is reading.
Happily for me I have a collection of good
books; and mine will be the fault if I do not
derive profit from them. I, also, begin to
find pleasure in the study of French.
Saturday, 20. The greater number of our
Indians have returned from the prairies;
and as they have brought little with them
to trade, I, of course, give them as little;
for we are at too great a distance from the
civilized world, to make many gratuities.
Yet the Indians were of a different opinion;
and at first made use of some unpleasant
language. But we did not come to blows,
and are now preparing to retire to rest,
nearly as good friends as the Indians and
traders generally are. With a few exceptions,
that friendship is little more, than their
fondness for our property, and our eagerness to obtain their furs.
Wednesday, April'21. The most of the snow
is now dissolved; and this afternoon the ice
in the river broke up.—All our Indians, who
for several days past encamped near the
fort, have now departed, to hunt the beaver.
While they were here, they made a feast, at
which they danced, cried, sung and howled, 62
and in a word, made a terrible, savage noise.
Such feasts, the Crees are accustomed to
make, at the return of every spring; and
sometimes also at other seasons of the year.
By so doing, they say they appease the anger of the Evil Spirit or devil, and thus
prevent him from doing them harm, to
which they consider him as ever inclined.
They have, also, certain places, where they
deposit a part of their property, such as
guns, kettles, bows, arrows, &c. as a sacrifice to the same Spirit. To the Supreme
Being, however, the creator and governor of
the universe, whom they call Kitch-e-mon-e-
too, that is, Great Spirit, they address their
prayers; yet they say there is no necessity
of paying him any sacrifice, since he is a
good Spirit, and is not disposed to do them
injury; whereas the Evil Spirit is malicious,
and therefore, it is proper that they should
strive to appease his anger.—The ^bovo
mentioned feast was made by the Chief of
the band, whose name is Ka-she-we-ske-wate,
who for the long space of forty eight hours,
previous to the entertainment, neither ate
nor drank any thing. At the commencement
of the feast, every person put on a grave
countenance; and the Chief went through
a number of ceremonies, with the utmost
solemnity. After the entertainment was over,
every Indian made a voluntary sacrifice of
a.part of his property to the devil, or as
they call him, Much-e-mon-e-too. HARMON'S JOURNAL.
Sunday, May 2. Accompanied by one of
my interpreters, I have taken a ride to a
place where I intend building a fort, the
ensuing summer. The animals in this vicinity are moose, red deer, a species of the
antelope, grey, black, brown, chocolate coloured and yellowish bears, two species of
wolves, wolverines, polecats or skunks, lynxes,
kitts, beavers, otters, fishers, martins, minks,
badgers, muskrats and black, silver, cross
and red foxes. Of fowls, we have swans,
geese, bustards, cranes, cormorants, loons,
snipes, several species of ducks, water-hens,
pigeons, partridges, pheasants, &e. &c. Most
of the above named fowls, are numerous in
spring and autumn; but, excepting a few,
they retire to the north in the summer, to
brood. Toward the fall, they return again;
and before winter sets in, they go to the
southward, where they remain, during a few
of the coldest months of the year.
Thursday, 6. This morning, I received a
letter from Mr. McLeod, who is at Alexandria, informing me, that a few nights since,
the Assiniboins, who are noted thieves, ran
away with twenty two of his horses. Many
of this tribe, who reside in the large prairies,
are constantly going about to steal horses.
Those which they find at one fort, they will
take and sell to the people of another fort.
Indeed, they steal horses, not unfrequently,
from their own relations.
Wednesday, 12.   It has snowed and rained, 64
during the day.—On the 7th inst. I went to
Alexandria, to transact business with Mr.
McLeod. During this jaunt, it rained almost
constantly; and on my return, in crossing
this river, I drowned my horse, which cost
last fall, one hundred dollars in goods, as
we value them here.
Monday, 17. This afternoon, Mr. McLeod
and company passed this place, and are on
their way to the Grand Portage. But I am
to pass, if Providence permit, another summer in the interiour, and to have the superintendence of the lower fort, this place
and Alexandria, residing chiefly at the latter
Tuesday, 18. All the Indians belonging
to this place, have now come in with the
produce of their hunts, which is abundant;
and to reward them for their industry, I
clothed two of their Chiefs, and gave a certain quantity of spirits to them, and to the
others. With this they became intoxicated,
and continued so during the last night, which
prevented our closing our eyes in sleep; for
it is at all times necessary to watch the
motions of the Indians, and especially is this
the case, when reason has been dethroned,
and passion has assumed the sole dominion
over them, through the influence of ardent
spirits. While in that condition, they, like
other people, often do things which they
will regret in their sober moments.
Sunday, 23.   It has snowed all day; and HARMON'S JOURNAL.
about six inches have fallen. I am waiting
the arrival of Mr. Henry to take charge of
this post, when I shall proceed to Alexandria. Two women brought me a few hazelnuts, which they this day gathered from the
Monday, 31. Alexandria. Here, accompanied by two of my people, I arrived this
afternoon. In crossing Swan River, I was so
unfortunate as to drown another horse;
and I was therefore obliged to perform the
remainder of the journey on foot, with nothing to eat. Here, thanks to the Bestower
of all good, I find a tolerable stock of provisions. Mr. Goedike is to pass the summer
with me, also two interpreters, and three
labouring men, besides several women and
children, who together, form a snug family.
Wednesday, June 23. On the 16th inst.
accompanied by two of my people, I set off
for Swan River fort, on horseback. The
first night, we slept at Bird Mountain; and
the day following we arrived at the lower
fort. From that place, I returned in one
day, which is a distance of ninety miles. I,
however, took a fresh horse at the Bird
Mountain. One of my people, who travelled
less rapidly, has. arrived this evening, and
informed me, that he drowned his horse, at
the same place where I had before drowned
On my return here, those in whose charge
I had left the place, had nothing to offer me
5 66
to eat, excepting boiled parchment skins,
which are little better than nothing, and
scarcely deserve the name of food. I have
therefore sent a part of my people, to endeavour to take some fish out of a small
lake, called by the Natives Devil's Lake,
which lies about ten miles north from this:
If they should not succeed, and our hunters
should not be more fortunate than they
have been for some time past, I know not
what will become of us. All our dependence
is on a kind Providence; and we cannot
but hope for a speedy relief, from our truly
sad condition.
Friday, July 2. For six days, after I
sent the people to fish in the above mentioned lake, we subsisted at the fort on
parchment skins, dogs, herbs and a few small
fish, that we took out of the river opposite
to the fort. But now, we obtain fish in
greater plenty.
One of our hunters has been in, and told
me what he thought to be the cause why
he could not kill. He said that when he
went to hunt, he generally soon fell upon
the track of some animal, which he followed;
but that, as soon as he came nigh to him,
he heard the terrible voice of the Evil Spirit,
that frightened both himself and the animal.
The animal would of course run off, and the
pursuit would end.—I told the hunter, that
I had a certain powerful medicine; and provided he would do with it as I would direct HARMON'S JOURNAL.
him, it would not only frighten the Evil
Spirit in his turn, but would also render
him at first speechless, and that shortly
after it would cause him to die. I then took
several drugs and mixed them together,
that he might not know what they were,
which I wrapped in a piece of white paper
and tied to the but-end of his gun, and thus
armed him to encounter great or little devils;
for they believe in the existence of different
orders. I told him to go in search of a
moose or deer; and as soon as he should
hear the voice of the Evil Spirit, to throw
the paper tied to his gun behind him into
the air, and that it would fall into the mouth
of the Evil Spirit pursuing him, and silence
and destroy him. I warned him not to look
behind him, lest he should be too much
frightened at the sight of so monstrous a
creature, but to pursue the animal, which
he would undoubtedly kill.
The same day, the Indian 'went to hunting, and fell upon the track of an animal,
which he followed, as he has since told me,
but a short distance, before the Evil Spirit,
as his custom was, began to make horrid
cries. The Indian, however, did with the
medicine as I had directed him, and heard
no more of the frightful voice, but continued
following the animal until, approaching him,
he fired, and killed a fine fat red deer; and
he has since killed several others. Not only
he, but the other Indians place, from this 68
circumstance, perfect confidence in my medicines. What will not imagination, aided by
great superstition, make a person believe!
It may be caused, however, at times, to remove the evils of its own creation.
Sunday, 4. Mr. William Henry and company arrived from the Bird Mountain, and
inform us, that they are destitute of provision there. They will, therefore, come and
pass the remainder of the summer with us;
for we now have provisions in plenty.
Monday, 17. In consequence of the great
increase of our. family of late, we are again
poorly supplied with provisions. In order, if
possible, to obtain a supply, I have sent
seven of my people several different ways, in
search of the Natives, who will be able to
relieve our wants, should our men chance to
find them. For this is the season of the
year, when almost all wild animals are the
fattest; and therefore, it is the best time to
kill them, and make them into dry provisions.
Friday, 23. There are at present, in this
vicinity, grass-hoppers, in such prodigious
numbers, as I never before saw in any place.
In fair weather, between eight and ten
o'clock, A. M. which is the only part of the
day when many of them leave the ground,
they are flying in such numbers, that they
obscure the sun, like a light cloud passing
over it. They also devour every thing before
them, leaving scarcely a leaf on the trees, HARMON'S JOURNAL.
or a blade of grass on the prairies; and our
potatoe tops escape not their ravages.
Tuesday, August 3. The most of the
mosquetoes and horse flies, which are so
troublesome to man and beast, have left
us, as the nights now begin to be cool.
Yesterday, six families of Crees came to
the fort; and they have been drinking, ever
since. An Indian had a few wrangling words
with a squaw, belonging to another man,
to whom he gave a slight beating. At that
time, the chief, who was the friend of the
Indian, was passing by; and he was so enraged at the abusive language given by the
woman to his friend, that he commenced
beating her on the head with a club, and
soon terminated her life. This morning,
the Indian women buried her corpse; and no
more notice is taken of her death, than if a
dog had been killed; for her relations are at
a considerable distance, in another part of
the country.—An Indian is not much regarded or feared by his fellows, unless he
has a number of relations to take part with
him in his contests while in life, or to avenge
his death, in case he should be murdered.
This is true among all the Indian tribes,
with whom I have been acquainted.
Wednesday, 11. On the ninth instant, a
Chief among the Crees, came to the fort,
accompanied by a number of his relations,
who appeared very desirous that I should
take one of his daughters, to remain with 70
me. I put him off by telling him, that I
could not then accept of a woman, but probably might, in the fall. He pressed me however, to aUow her to remain with me, at
once, and added, "I am fond of you, and
my wish is to have my daughter with the
white people; for she will be treated better
by them, than by her own relations." In
fact, he almost persuaded me to keep her;
for I was sure that while I had the daughter,
I should not only have the father's furs, but
those of all his band. This would be for the
interest of the Company, and would therefore, turn to my own advantage, in some
measure; so that a regard to interest, well
nigh made me consent to an act, which
would have been unwise and improper. But,
happily for me, I escaped the snare.
Saturday, 28. I have sent Primault, one
of my interpreters, with a letter, about six
days' march from this, where I expect he will
meet Mr. McLeod and company, on their
way from the Grand Portage. Two of our
people, whom I sent a few days since into
the large prairie, have just returned with
the news, that buffaloes are numerous, within two days' march from this. They say,
that the Natives, during the two days that
they remained with them, killed upwards of
eighty, by driving them into a park, made
for that purpose.
Sunday, October 3. Yesterday, a little
snow fell,   which is the first that we have HARMON'S JOURNAL.
had this season. We now begin to think
some disaster has befallen our people, on
their way in, as they do not make their appearance so soon as usual.
Monday, 4. One of our men has just
arrived from the Grand Portage, and delivered me a letter from Mr. McLeod, informing
me, that he is going to Athabasca, and is to
be succeeded here by Mr. Hugh McGillies.
The canoe in which this man came, left headquarters alone, some time before the main
brigade was prepared to leave.
Thursday, 21. This afternoon, Mr. Hugh
McGillies, accompanied by one man on horse
back, arrived, and informs me, that they
were stopped by the ice, fifteen miles below
Swan River fort, whence they will be obliged
to bring the goods, on sledges.
Monday, 25. A large band of Indians
have been here, who were continually drinking, during the last forty eight hours. They
have now tajien their departure; but another band has just arrived, and, therefore,
we must pass another night without sleep;
for when the Natives are at the fort, and
have the means of purchasing spirits, they
expect to drink both night and day.
Saturday, 30. Several of our people arrived from Swan River, and delivered me
letters from my friends in the United 'States,
the perusal of which, has afforded me much
Samuel Holmes, a clerk and interpreter, 72
and a countryman of mine, has left us, to
go and join our opponents, the X. Y. people.
[*Soon afterwards, he left the service of the
last mentioned company, and went to live
with the Natives, the Assiniboins, by whom,
a year or two after, he was killed, while he
was on his way from the Red River to the
River Missouri.]
Monday, November 1. I have taken a
ride, accompanied by my interpreter, down
to see the Hudson Bay people. A Mr. Miller
has charge of the place, and has with him
fifteen labouring men, the greater part of
whom have just returned from Albany fort,
which stands at the mouth of Albany River.
Tuesday, 9. Bird Mountain. Here I am
to pass another winter; and with me there
will be one interpreter and six labouring men,
&c. Thus I am continually moving from
place to place; and when my residence will
be more stationary, God only knows. I cannot, however, but look forward, with pleasing expectation, to the time, when I hope
to be permitted to settle down in some part
of the civilized world.
Friday, 19., I have just returned from
the lower fort, where I have been accompanied with part of my people, for goods.
I find here a band of Indians, who have
been waiting for my return, in order to procure such articles as they need,   to  enable
*The remarks included in brackets were added at
a later date. HARMON'S JOURNAL.
them to make a fall hunt. The Jndians in
this quarter have been so long accustomed
to use European goods, that it would be
with difficulty that they could now obtain
a livelihood, without them. Especially do
they need fire arms, with which to kill their
game, and axes, kettles, knives, &c. They
have almost lost the use of bows and arrows;
and they would find it nearly impossible to
cut their wood with implements, made of
stone or bone.
Thursday, December 25. Severe cold
weather. This day being Christmas, our
people have spent it as usual, in drinking
and fighting.—My education has taught me,
that the advent of a Saviour, ought to be
celebrated in a far different manner.—Of all
people in the world, I think the Canadians,
when drunk, are the most disagreeable; for
excessive drinking generally causes them to
quarrel and fight, among themselves. Indeed, I had rather have fifty drunken Indians
in the fort, than five drunken Canadians.
Thursday, January 27, 1803. I have just
returned from Alexandria, where I passed six
days, much to my satisfaction, in the company of Messrs. H. McGillies, W. Henry and
F. Goedike. WTiile there, I wrote to Messrs.
McLeod, A. Henry and J. Clarke, all of Athabasca, which letters will be taken to them,
by our winter express.
Sunday, February 20. Yesterday morning, one of the Indian women came to the sa
fort and said, her husband had cut off her
nose, and was determined to kill her, and
that she therefore thought proper to leave
him, and go to Alexandria, where she would
be out of his reach, at least for the present.
But, after her arrival here, she altered her
mind, and desired my interpreter to put an
end to her life, which he, of course, refused
to do. Then said she, I I wiU do the business
myself, for I am resolved that I will live
with my husband no longer.' We did not
believe, however, that she would execute this
determination.—Soon after, she went into
the woods, a short distance, and laid down
her load of the few things which she had
upon her back, and struck and kindled up
a fire, into which she threw the most of her
property. When it was nearly consumed,
she took a little bag of powder and put it
into her bosom, and then set fire to it. The
explosion burned a great part of the hair
from her head, injured her face very much,
and rendered her perfectly blind. She now
commenced running about, in order if possible, to catch her dogs, which she was resolved
next to burn. When we heard her calling out
for them, we went out to see what she was
doing; for at this time, we knew nothing
of what had taken place.—The spectacle was
truly shocking! She was so disfigured, as
scarcely to appear like a human being. We
brought her to the fort, where she remained
very  quiet,  until  we  were  all in bed and HARMON'S JOURNAL.
asleep, when she got up, and went again
into the woods. There she tied a cord about
her neck, and then fastened it to the limb of
a tree. But on throwing herself off, the
branch broke, and she fell into the snow,
where she remained until morning, when we
found her nearly lifeless. On examining, we
discovered that she had run a needle its full
length, into her right ear. We brought her
again to the fort; but her head is very much
swollen, and her face is perfectly black; and
whether she will recover, is uncertain. ISev-
eral years afterward, I saw her with her old
husband; and she appeared to enjoy as good
health as formerly.]
Wednesday, May 4. Alexandria. Here, if
Providence permit, I stall pass another summer, and have with me Mr. F. Goedike, one
interpreter and several labouring men, besides women and children. As Mr. Goedike
will be absent from the fort, during the
greater part of the summer, I shall be, in a
great measure, alone; for ignorant Canadians furnish little society. Happily for me,
I have lifeless friends, my books, that will
never abandon me, until I first neglect them.
Thursday, June 2. I have set our people
to surround a piece of ground for a garden,
with palisades, such as encompass our forts.
The X. Y. people are building a fort, five
miles up this river.
One of our men, a Canadian, gave me his
son,  a lad  of about twelve years of age, 76
whom I agree, in the name of the North
West Company, to feed.and clothe, until he
becomes able to earn something more. His
mother is a Sauteux woman. He is to serve
me as cook, &c.
Tuesday, 21. This afternoon, we had an
uncommonly heavy shower of hail and rain.
Yesterday, I sent Mr. F. Goedike, accompanied by several of our people, with a small
assortment of goods, to remain at some
distance from this, for several weeks. In the
absence of my friend, this is to me, a solitary
place. At such times as this, my thoughts
visit the land of my nativity; and I almost
regret having left my friends and relatives,
among whom I might now have been pleasantly situated, but for a roving disposition.
But Providence, which is concerned in all the
affairs of men, has, though unseen, directed
my way into this wilderness; and it becomes
me to bear up under my,circumstances, with
resignation, perseverance and fortitude. I
am not forbidden to hope, that I shall one
day enjoy, with increased satisfaction, the
society of those friends, from whom I have
for a season banished myself.
Sunday, 26. I have just returned from
an excursion to the large prairies, in which
I was accompanied by two of my people;
and in all our ramble we did not see a single Indian. The most of them, as is their
custom every spring, have gone to war again.
We saw, and then ran down and killed, buf- HARMON'S JOURNAL.
faloes, and also, saw red deers and antelopes, bounding across the prairies, as well
as bears and wolves, roving about in search
of prey. In the small lakes and ponds, which
are to be met with occasionally, all over the
prairies, fowls, were in considerable plenty;
and with our fire ] arms, we killed a sufficiency of them, for our daily consumption.
Although it rained during the greater part
of the time that we were absent from the
fort, yet the pleasing variety of the objects
which were presented to our view, made our
ride very agreeable. One night, we slept at
the same place where, a few days before, a
party of the Rapid Indian warriors had encamped. They were probably in search of
their enemies, the Crees and Assiniboins;
and it was happy for us that we did not
meet them, for they would undoubtedly have
massacred us, as they consider us as enemies,
for furnishing their opponents with fire arms.
Monday, August 8. We have now thirty
people in the fort, and have not a supply of
provisions for two days. Our hunters, owing
to a bad dream, or some other superstitious
notion, think they cannot kill, and therefore
make no attempt, notwithstanding animals
are numerous. In the civilized parts of the
world, when provisions are scarce in one
place, they can generally be obtained from
some other place, in the vicinity. But the
case is otherwise with us. When destitute,
we must wait until Providence sends us a 78
supply; and we sometimes think it rather
tardy in coming.
Thursday, 18. An Indian has just arrived,
who brings the intelligence, that forty lodges
of Crees and Assiniboins, who the last spring,
in company with forty lodges of other tribes,
set out on a war party, are returning home.
They separated at Battle River from their
allies, who, the messenger says, crossed that
river, to go and make peace with their enemies, the Rapid and Black-feet Indians. The
tribes last mentioned, inhabit the country
lying along the foot of the Rocky Mountains, between the Sisiscatchwin and Missouri Rivers. Both parties begin to be weary
of such bloody wars, as have long, been
carried on between them, and are much disposed to patch up a peace, on almost any
terms. Thus do ruinous wars, waged by
restless and ambitious people, in civilized
and savage countries, lay waste and destroy
the comforts of mankind.
Sunday, October 16. This afternoon there
fell a little snow, which is the first we have
had, this fall.
It is now several days since the X. Y.
people arrived from the Grand Portage; but
they give us no news of Mr. McGillies and
his company; neither would they, were their
condition ever so bad. Neither company
will convey to the other the least intelligence,
that at all concerns their affairs in this
country.    The North  West  Company look HARMON'S JOURNAL.
upon the X. Y. Company as encroachers
upon their territories; and, I think, with
some reason, since the former company first
led the way into this savage country; while
the latter people think, that the former have
no more right to trade in this part of the
world, than themselves. This jarring of interests, keeps up continual misunderstandings, and occasions frequent broils between
the contending parties; and to such a height
has their enmity risen, that it has, in several
instances, occasioned blood shed. But here
the murderer escapes without punishment;
for the civil law does not extend its protection, so far into the wilderness. I understand, however, that measures are in contemplation in England, which will remedy
this evil. If something should not be done
soon, I fear many of us may lose our lives.
Wednesday, 19. About six inches of snow
have faUen. Mr. McGillies and company
arrived from the Grand Portage, and delivered me letters from my friends in the
United States; and I rejoiced to hear that
they were in health and prosperity.
Saturday, 22. This afternoon, one of our
men, an Iroquois, died; and it is thought
the foundation was laid for his death, by
too great an exertion of his strength at
the portages, on his way into the country.
The death of our people is not unfrequently
occasioned by this circumstance.
Sunday, November 6.    On the 28th ult. 80
we sent eight of our men, on horseback,
into the plains, to look for buffaloes; and
they returned this evening, with their horses
loaded with the flesh of those animals. They
Bay that they are stiU three days' march
from this.
Tuesday, December 27. Messrs. Henry
and Goedike, my companions and friends,
are both absent, on excursions into two different parts of the country. I sensibly feel
the loss of their society, and pass, occasionally, a solitary hour, which would glide away
imperceptibly, in their company. When they
are absent I spend the greater part of my
time in reading and writing. Now and then
I take a ride on horseback, in the neighbourhood of the fort, and occasionally I visit our
neighbours, drawn in a cariol by horses, if
the snow is light, or by dogs, if it is deep.
This afternoon, I accompanied Mr. McGillies,
to pay a visit to our X. Y. neighbours.
Wednesday, February 22, 1804. Lac La
Peche, or Fishing Lake. This lies about
two days' march into the large plains, west
from Alexandria, which place I left on the
15th ultimo, accompanied by twelve of our
people. I have come here to pass the winter, by the side of the X. Y. people. For
some time after our arrival, we subsisted on
rose buds, a kind of food neither very palatable nor nourishing, which we gathered in
the fields. They were better than nothing,
since they would just support life.   When we HARMON'S JOURNAL.
should procure any thing better, I knew not, as
the buffaloes at that time, in consequence of
the mild weather, were a great distance, out in
the large plains, and my hunters could find
neither moose nor deer. We hoped, however,
that a merciful God would not suffer us to
starve; and that hope has not been disappointed, for we have now provisions in abundance, for which we endeavour to be thankful.
On the 11th instant, I took one of my
interpreters and ten labouring men with me,
and proceeded several days' march into the
wilderness, where we found a camp of upwards of thirty lodges of Crees and Assiniboins, of whom we made a good purchase
of furs and provisions. They were encamped
on the summit of a hill, whence we had an
extensive view of the surrounding country,
which was low and level. Not a tree could
be seen, as far as the eye could extend; and
thousands of buffaloes were to be seen grazing, in different parts of the plain. In order
to kill them, the Natives in large bands,
mount their horses, run them down and
shoot, with their bows and arrows, what
number they please, or drive them into parks
and kill them at their leisure. In fact, those
Indians, who reside in the large plains or
prairies, are the most independent, and appear to be the most contented and happy
people upon the face of the earth. They
subsist upon the flesh of the buffaloe, and
of the skins of that animal they make the HARMON'S JOURNAL.
greatest part of their clothing, which is both
warm and convenient. Their tents and beds
are also made of the skins of the same animal.
The Crees and Assiniboins procure their
livelihood with so much ease, that they have
but little to confine them at home. They
therefore employ much of their time, in waging war with their neighbours.
Thursday, March 1. Es-qui-un-a-wach-a,
or the last Mountain, or rather Hill; for
there are no mountains in this part of the
country. Here I arrived this evening, having left Lac La Peche on the 28th ultimo,
in company with my interpreter and seven
men. The men, I ordered to encamp at a
short distance from this, and to join me
early to-morrow morning; as it is more convenient and safe, especially when we are not
in our forts, to give the Indians spirits to
drink in the day time, than in the night.
On our arrival, we were invited to the tents
of several of the principal Indians, to eat
and smoke our pipes.—Indians show great
hospitality to strangers, before they have
been long acquainted with civilized people,
after which, they adopt many of their customs; but they are by no means always
gainers, by the exchange.
Monday, 5. On the 2nd, the remainder of
our people arrived, and soon after I commenced dealing out spirits to the I^tiyes;
and they continued to drink during all that HARMON'S JOURNAL.
day and the following night. We were, therefore, prevented from resigning ourselves to
sleep. For though the Indians are naturally
well disposed toward the white people, and
seldom begin a quarrel with us, and will
even receive many insults, before they attempt to defend themselves; yet when drunk,
they often behave like mad men or devils,
and need to be narrowly watched.
This morning, I sent six of my people to
-the fort with sledges loaded with furs and
provisions, in order to obtain another supply
of goods, to enable us to go and trade with
another large band of Indians, who are about
two days' march from this, into the plains.
Tuesday, 6. North side of the Great
Devils Lake, or as the Natives call it, Much-
e-man-e-to Sa-ky-e-gun. As I had nothing
of importance to attend to, while our people would be absent in their trip to and
from the fort, and was desirous of seeing
my friend Henry, who, I\understood, was
about half a day's march from where I was
the last night, I therefore, set off this morning, accompanied by an Indian lad who
serves as a guide, with the intention of visiting this place. After walking all day, without finding either wood or water, and but
a few inches of snow, just as the sun was
descending below the horizon, we thought
that we descried a small grove, at a considerable distance, directly before us. So
long,  therefore,   as  the light remained, we 84
directed our course to that object; but as
soon as the daylight failed, we had nothing
by which to guide ourselves, excepting the
stars, which, however, answered very well,
until even their faint twinkling was utterly
obscured by clouds, and we were inveloped
in total darkness. In this forlorn condition,
we thought it best to continue our march
as well as we could; for we were unwilling
to lie down, with little or nothing with which
to cover us, and keep ourselves from freezing.
There was no wood, with which we could
make a fire, nor buffaloe dung, which often
serves as fuel, when travelling about in those
plains. Neither could we find water to drink;
and without fire, we could not melt the snow,
for this purpose. We suffered much for want
of water, as we had nothing to eat but very
dry provisions, which greatly excited thirst.
—To be deprived of drink for one day, is
more distressing than to be destitute of
food for two.—It would not have been safe
for us to encamp, without a fire; for we
should have been continually exposed to be
trodden upon by the large herds of buffaloes,
that are perpetually roving about in the
plains, or to be devoured by the wolves,
which ever foUow the buffaloe. We therefore
continued travelling, uncertain whither we
were going, until at length, the dogs that
drew my sledge, suddenly passed by us, as if
they saw some uncommon object, directly
before us.    We did noJ3 attempt to impede n
their motion, but followed them as fast as
we could, until they brought us to the place
where we now are.—It is almost incredible
that my dogs should have smelt this camp
at such a distance; for we walked vigorously no less than four hours after they passed
as, before we arrived here.
We are happy in finding fifteen tents of
Crees and Assiniboins, who want for none
of the dainties of this country; and I meet,
as usual, with a very hospitable reception.
The mistress of the tent where I am, unharnessed my dogs, and put my sledge, &c,
into a safe place. She was then proceeding
to give food to my dogs, which labour, I
offered to do myself; but she told me to
remain quiet and smoke my pipe, for she
added, "they shall be taken good care of,
and will be as safe in my hands, as they
would be were they in your own."—Notwithstanding it was near midnight when I arrived, yet at that late hour, the most of the
Indians rose, and many of them invited me
to their tents, to eat a few mouthfuls, and
to smoke the sociable pipe.
But now, all those necessary ceremonies
are over; and I am happy in being able to
lay myself down on buffaloe robes, by the
side of a warm fire, expecting to obtain
sweet and refreshing repose, which nature
requires, after a day's march so fatiguing.
If I was ever thankful for any of God's
favours, it is, to   find   myself  here  among 86
friends, and in comfortable circumstances,
when a few hours before, I expected to wander with weariness, anxiety and danger, during the whole night, in the open plain.
Wednesday, 7. Canadian's Camp. This
place is so called from the fact, that a number of our people have passed the greater
part of the winter here. As there is a good
foot path, from the place where I slept last
night to this place, I left my young guide
and came here alone. Frequently on the
way, I met Indians, who are going to join
those at the Devil's Lake. I came here in
the pleasing expectation of seeing my friend
Henry; but I am disappointed. Yesterday
morning, he set out for Alexandria. I hope
to have the satisfaction, however, of soon
meeting him at the fort.—I here find six Canadians with their families, who have passed
the winter in this vicinity, and have sub-
sisted upon the flesh of the buffaloe, which
animals are found in plenty. The people
appear to be happy in their situation. Indeed, a Canadian, with his belly full of fat
meat, is never otherwise.
Friday, 9. * North side of Devils Lake.
In the morning, I left the Canadian's Camp,
and this afternoon reached this place, where
I found my young guide, waiting my return.
He is the son of a chief, among the Crees
and Assiniboins. His grandfather was Monsieur Florimeaux, a Frenchman, who passed
a number of years in the Indian  country. HARMON'S JOURNAL.
When he went to Canada, he took his son,
the father of my young guide, along with
him, as far as Quebec, intending to send
him to France. But the lad, who was then
twelve or thirteen years old, did not like to
leave his native country. After remaining
in Canada for some time, therefore, he deserted and returned to this part of the world,
where, he, in time, became a famous warrior,
and at length, a chief. He is much respected
and beloved by his relatives, and is revered
by his own family. As a husband he is
affectionate, and as a father he is kind. It
was perhaps fortunate for him that he did
not go to France; for, I am persuaded he
could not have lived more happily and at
ease, in any part of the world, than in this
independent country, which is abundantly
supplied with all of the necessaries, and many
of the luxuries of life.
Saturday, 10. In the middle of an extensive plain. Early in the morning, accompanied by my young guide, I left our last
night's lodgings, to go to the place .where I
expect to find my people, which is about
two days' march further into the great plain,
than where I separated from my interpreter,
on the 6th inst. After walking all day, without finding either wood or water, at eight
o'clock at night, we have concluded to lay
ourselves down, in order if possible, to get a
little rest. In the day time, the snow melted
a little;  but  in  the evening it has frozen 88
hard, and our feet and our legs, as high as
our knees, are so much covered with ice, that
we cannot take off our shoes; and having
nothing with which to make a fire, in order
to thaw them, we must pass the night
with them on. A more serious evil is, the
risk we must run of being killed by wild
Sunday, 11. Ca-ta-buy-se-pu, or the River
that calls. This steam is so named by the
superstitious Natives, who imagine that a
spirit is constantly going up or down it;
and they say that they often hear its voice
distinctly, which resembles the cry of a human
being. The last night was so unpleasant to
me, that I could not sleep, arising in part-
from the constant fear which I was in, of
being torn to pieces before the morning, by
wild beasts. Despondency to a degree took
possession of my spirit. But the light of the
morning dissipated my fears, and restored
to my mind, its usual cheerfulness. As soon
as 'the light of day appeared, we left the
place where we had lain, not a little pleased,
that the wild beasts had not fallen upon us.
It has snowed and rained all day.—Here I
find my interpreter, and eighty tents, or
nearly two hundred men, with their families.
—Along the banks of this rivulet, there is a
little timber, consisting principaUy of the
inferiour species of the maple; but no where
else, is there even a shrub to be seen. The
surrounding country is a barren plain, where HARMON'S JOURNAL.
nothing grows excepting grass, which rises
from six to eight inches in height, and furnishes food for the buffaloe.
Here, again, as usual, I meet with a kind
reception. These Indians seldom come thus
far into the plains, as the part of the country
where we now are, belongs to the Rapid Indians. A white man was never before known,
to penetrate so far.
Wednesday, 14. Last evening my people
returned from the fort; and as I now had
spirits for the Natives, they, of course, drank
during the whole night. Being so numerous,
they made a terrible noise. They stole a
small keg of spirits from us, and one of
them attempted to stab me. The knife went
through my clothes, and just grazed the
skin of my body. To day I spoke to the
Indian who made this attempt, and he cried
like a child, and said, he had nearly killed
his father, meaning me, and asked me why
I did not tie him, when he had lost the use
of his reason.—My people inform me that
there is little or no snow, for three days'
march from this; but after that, there is an
abundance,   all   the way to the fort.
Friday, 16. About twelve o'clock, we left
the Indians' camp; but being heavily loaded,
considering there is no snow and our property is drawn by dogs on sledges, we made
slow progress. After we had encamped, we
sent our dogs, which are twenty two in number, after the buffaloe; and they soon stopped 90
one of them, when one of our party went
and killed him with an axe, for we have not
a gun with us. It is, however, imprudent
for us to venture thus far, without fire arms;
for every white man, when in this savage
country, ought at all times to be well armed.
Then he need be under little apprehension
of an attack; for Indians, when sober, are
not inclined to hazard their lives, and when
they apprehend danger from quarrelling,
wiU remain quiet and peaceable.
Saturday, 17.   North West end of DeviTs
V    7
Lake. The weather is extremely mild, for
the season. The surrounding country is all
on fire; but happily for us, we are encamped
in a swampy place. When the fire passes
over the plains, which circumstance happens
almost yearly, but generally later than this,
great numbers of horses and buffaloes are
destroyed; for those animals when surrounded
by fire, will stand perfectly still, until they
are burned to death.—This evening, we killed
another buffaloe, in the same manner as we
killed one, the last evening.
Sunday, 18. The weather is still mild,
and we see many grass-hoppers, which appear
unusually early in the season. As I found
that we were coming on too slowly with our
heavy loads, about twelve o'clock, I left our
property in charge of three of my people,
and am going to the fort with the others,
for horses to come for it.
This afternoon we met several of the X. Y. HARMON'S JOURNAL.
people, who were in search of Indians; but
Jrom the information they received from us,
they thought them at too great a distance,
and they are, therefore, accompanying us to
the fort.—The same success has attended
us this evening, which we met with the two
preceding days, in regard to supplying ourselves with food. Indeed, in these plains
where buffaloes are numerous, it is not customary, nor is it needful for people who are
travelling, to burden themselves with provisions; for if they have fire arms, they can
always kill a sufficiency for the day. This
renders travelling cheap and convenient.
Thursday, 22. Lac la PSche. Here we
have arrived, and I am happy in reaching
a place, where I can take a little repose,
after so long and fatiguing a jaunt. Yet it
has been in many respects, both pleasant
and profitable. The country which I travelled
over was beautifully situated, and overspread with buffaloes, and various other
kinds of animals, as well as many other delightful objects, which in succession presented
themselves to our view. These things made
the day glide away almost imperceptibly.
But there were times, when my situation
was far from being agreeable; they, however, soon passed away, and we all have
abundant reason to render thanks to a kind
Providence, for his protection, and for our
safe return to our home and our families.
At three different times, while performing 92
the tour above described, I was in great
danger of losing my life, by the evil machinations of the Natives. One escape has been
already mentioned, when one of them attempted to stab me. While I was dealing
out spirits to the Savages, at the last mountain, on the night of the 5th inst. an Indian, who was much intoxicated, told me,
that I should never see another sun arise;
and he, unquestionably, intended to kill me.
The night following, after I arrived at the
north side of the Devil's Lake, I was weU
received by the greater part of the Natives
there; but as I have since been informed, one
of them had resolved to take my life. And
yet, this villain invited me to his tent, and
I visited it, without suspicion. He was prevented from executing his purpose by my
host, who was acquainted with his purpose,
and told him that he must first despatch
him; for, he added, ' Kitch-e-mo-cum-mon'
(that is Big Knife, which is the name that
they give me,) 'is my brother, and has
taken up his lodging with me, and it therefore becomes me to defend him and his property.' No Indian will suffer a stranger, if
he be able to defend him, to be injured,
while in his tent, and under his protection.
Therefore, he who had intended to massacre
me, thought it best to remain quiet. This
hostile Indian had nothing against me, but
that I was a friend to a person who he considered had injured him; and as this person e
was at a great distance, and therefore beyond his reach, he was resolved to avenge
the affront upon me. It is the custom of all
Savages, not to be very particular on whom
the punishment of an offence falls, whether
the guilty person, or a relation or friend of
this person. The first of these- whom he happens to meet, becomes the object of his vengeance ; and then his wrath is appeased, and
he will not even lift his hand against the
person who has offended him.
Saturday, 24. Yesterday, Mr. F. Goedike
arrived from Alexandria, and delivered me
a letter from Mr. McGillies, requesting me to
abandon Lac la Peche, and proceed, with
all my people, to Alexandria. In the fore
part of the day, we all left the former place.
There is a woman with us, belonging to one
of our men, who has walked the whole day,
in the snow and water, and who, this evening, gave birth to a son.
Tuesday, 27. Alexandria. Here we arrived this afternoon. The woman who, on
the 24th inst. was delivered of a child, took
it on her shoulders the day following, and
continued her march, as though nothing unusual had occurred! It is a very happy circumstance, that the women of this country
are blessed with such strong constitutions,
as they would otherwise be utterly unable
to endure the hardships to which they are
often exposed, and particularly in child-birth.
Monday,   April 9.    Yesterday, the ice in 94
this river broke up; and to day, we sent
off four men in a boat, loaded with pimican,
to be transported as far as the entrance of
Winipick River.—The country all around us,
is on fire.
Sunday, 29. Yesterday, the greater part
of our people set out for Swan River; and to
day, Mr. McGillies, and the most of those
who were left, have departed for the New
Fort, which is distant about forty-five miles,
to the north west from the former general
rendezvous, the Grand Portage, which the
Americans have obliged us to abandon.
It is thought necessary that I should pass
another summer at this place; but I am
happy in having with me my friends Henry
and Goedike. There are here also one interpreter and several labouring men, besides
women and children. We are preparing a
piece of ground for a garden, the cultivation
of which, will be an amusement; and the
produce of it, we hope, will add to our comforts. Mr. Goedike plays the violin, and
will occasionally cheer our spirits, with an
air. But the most of our leisure time, which
is at least five sixths of the whole, will be
spent in reading, and in meditating and
conversing upon what we read. How valuable is the art, which multiplies books, with
great facility, and at a moderate expense.
Without them the wheels of time would drag
heavily, in this wilderness.
Tuesday, May 22.   The  seeds  which  we 4
put into the ground on the 10th inst. have
sprung up, and grow remarkably well.
Tuesday, 29. During the last forty eight
hours, it has rained without cessation; and
I think I never witnessed so great a fall of
water, within the same space of' time. The
river has overflowed its banks, to a much
greater distance than is common; and our
garden, which is not far from it, now lies
under water.
Thursday, 31. In the morning, Mr. Goedike, Collin, my interpreter, a young lad
and myself, set off for the purpose of paying
a visit to our X. Y. neighbours. On leaving
the fort, we had the river to cross, which,
in consequence of the late rains, is about
sixty rods broad. Our only means of crossing it was a canoe, made of the skins of buffaloes, which, on account of the length of
time that it had been in the water, began
to be rotten. Before we reached the other
side of the river, the canoe was nearly half
fiilled with water. We drew it on shore,
mounted our horses, visited our neighbours,
and returned to the place where we had left
our canoe, at about three o'clock P. M.
Having repaired it a little, we embarked, for
the purpose of returning to the fort. We
soon* perceived that the water came into the
canoe very fast; and we continued paddling,
in hope of reaching the opposite shore, before
it would fill. We were, however, sadly disappointed; for it became full, when we had 96
gone about one third of the distance; but
it did not immediately overset. The water,
jn that place, was about five feet deep; but
the current was strong, and it soon carried
us to a place where we could not reach the
bottom, and the canoe overset. We all clung
to it and, thus drifted a considerable distance, until the canoe was, at length, stopped by a few willows, whose tops rose above
the water. Here I had a moment, in which
I could reflect on our truly deplorable condition, and directed my thoughts to the
means of relief. My first object was, if possible, to gain the shore, in order to free myself from my clothes, which I could not do
where I then was. But my great coat, a
heavy poniard, boots, &c. rendered it very
difficult for me to swim; and I had become
so torpid, in consequence of having been so
long in the cold water, that before I had
proceeded one third of the way to the shore,
I sunk, but soon arose again, to the surface
of the water. I then exerted myself to the
utmost; but, notwithstanding, soon sunk a
second time. I now considered that I must
inevitably drown; the objects of the world
retire, from my view, and my mind was intent only upon approaching death; yet I was
not afraid to meet my dissolution.* I however made a few struggles more, which hap-
*For at that time, I was ignorant of my lost condition by nature, and of the necessity of being clothed
in a better righteousness than my own, to prepare me
to appear with safety before a holy God, in judgment. HARMON'S JOURNAL.
pily took me to a small tree that stood on
what is usually the bank of the river, but
which is now some rods distant from dry
land. I remained there for some time, to
recover strength, and at length proceeded to
the shore; and as soon as I had gained it,
my mind rose in ardent gratitude to my
gracious Preserver and deliverer, who had
snatched me from the very jaws of death!
/ was now safe on shore; but the condition
of my unfortunate companions, was far different. They had still hold of the canoe in
the middle of the river, and by struggling
were just able to keep themselves from sinking. We had no other craft, with which to
go upon the water, nor could any of our
people swim, who were standing on the shore,
the melancholy spectators of this scene of
distress. I therefore took off my clothes,
and threw myself, a second time, into the
water, in order, if possible, to afford some
aid to my companions. When I had reached
the place where they were, I directed the boy,
to take hold of the hair of my head, and I
took him to a staddle, at no great distance,
and directed him to lay fast hold of it, by
which means he would be able to keep the
greater part of his body above water. I then
returned to the canoe, and took Collin to a
similar place. Mr. Goedike had alone proceeded to a small staddle, and would have
reached the shore, had not the cramp seized
him in one of his legs. I next tried to take
7 98
the canoe ashore, but could not alone effect
it. I therefore, swam to the opposite shore,
caught a horse and mounted him, and made
him swim to the canoe, at one end of which
I tied a cord, and taking the other end in
my teeth and hands, after drifting a considerable distance, I reached the land. After
repairing the canoe a little, I proceeded to
my three wretched fellow creatures, who had,
by this time, become nearly lifeless, having
been in the water at least tw6 hours. By
the aid of a kind Providence, however, they
at last safely reached the shore; and so
deeply were they affected with their unexpected escape, that they prostrated themselves to the earth, in an act of thanksgiv-'
ing, to their great and merciful Deliverer.
Sunday, July 1. We now begin to have
strawberries, and the prospect is, that they
will be abundant.
Tuesday, 17. On the 8th instant, some
Indians ran away with three of our horses;
and on the following morning, Mr. Goedike
and myself mounted two others, to pursue
the thieves. We followed them for two days,
and then, ascertaining that they were so far
in advance of us, and travelled so fast, that
it would be impossible to overtake them,
before they would reach their camp, which is
six or seven days' march from this, we ceased
following them. We directed our course another way, for the purpose of finding buffaloe,  but  without  success.    We,  however, HARMON'S JOURNAL;
killed as many fowls, in the small lakes, as
we needed for daily consumption; and this
evening returned to the fort, having had on
the whole a pleasant ride.
We have had a frost, so hard, that it has
injured many things in our garden*
Wednesday, 254 J| An Indian has arrived
here with six horses, who states, that he
came directly from the territory of the Black
feet Indians. He brings the intelligence, that
this tribe have concluded a peace with the
Crees and Assiniboins; and that forty tents
of the latter tribes, who went into that
quarter, two years since, are on their way
home, and will reach this place before the
commencement of winter.
Saturday, September 1. This afternoon,
Mr. Ferguson and company arrived, from
fort Dauphin, bringing the intelligence, that
all the Indians who are accustomed to remain in that vicinity, have now gone to the
Great Winipick lake.
Thursday, October 4. This afternoon,
Mr. Francis la Rocque arrived, from Mon-
tagne a la Basse, which lies about five days'
march from this, down the river. He brought
me letters from several gentlemen in this
country, one of which is from Mr. Charles
Chaboillez, who informs me that this place
will be supplied with goods, this season, by
the way of the Red River, of which department he has the superintendence. As I am
to  pass the winter here, he desires me to HARMON'S JOURNAL.
accompany Mr. La Rocque, down to Mon-
tagne a la Basse, and receive such goods as
will be necessary for the Indians at this post.
Friday, 26. Agreeably to the instructions
of Mr. Chaboillez, in company with Mr. La
Rocque, and an Indian, who served as guide,
I set out on the 6th instant, for Montagne
a la Basse. Our course was nearly south,
over a plain country; and on the 9th, we
reached Riviere qui ApeUe, where the North
West and X. T. companies have each a fort,
where we tarried all night, with Monsieur
Poitras, who has charge of that post. The
next morning, we continued our march, which
was always in beautiful plains, until the
11th, when we arrived at the place of our
destination. There I found Mr. ChaboiQez,
C. McKenzie, &c. The fort is well built, and
beautifully situated, on a very high bank
of the Red River, and overlooks the country
round to a great extent, which is a perfect
plain. There can be seen, at almost all
seasons of the year, from the fort gate, as I
am informed, buffaloes grazing, or antelopes
bounding over the extensive plains, which
cannot fail to render the situation highly
pleasant. I spent my time there very pleasantly, during eight days, in company with
the gentlemen above mentioned. At times,
we would mount our horses, and ride out
into the plains, and frequently try the speed
of our beasts. On the 19th, I left that enchanting abode, in company  with  Messrs. HARMON'S JOURNAL.
Chaboillez, McKenzie, &c, and the day following, arrived at Riviere qui Apelle, where
we found the people, waiting our arrival.
They came here by water; but at this season,
canoes go up no further, on account of the
shallowness of the river. The goods intended
for Alexandria, therefore, must be taken
from this on horse back. Accordingly, we
delivered out to the people such articles as
we thought necessary, and sent them off;
and the day following, Mr. Chaboillez re-
turned to Montagne a la Basse, and Mr.
McKenzie and myself proceeded to Alexandria,
where we arrived this afternoon, after having made a pleasant jaunt of twenty one
Here I shall pass the winter, having with
me Mr. Goedike, two interpreters, twenty
labouring men, fourteen women and sixteen
Saturday, November 24. Some people
have just arrived from Montagne a la Basse,
with a letter from Mr. Chaboillez, who informs me, that two Captains, Clarke and
Lewis, with one hundred and eighty soldiers,
have arrived at the Mandan Village on the
Missouri River, which place is situated about
three days' march distant from the residence
of Mr. Chaboillez. They have invited Mr.
Chaboillez to visit them. It is said, that
on their arrival, they hoisted the American
flag, and informed the Natives that their
object was not to trade, but merely to ex-
I'll 102
pi ore the country; and that as soon as the
navigation shall open, they design to continue their route across the Rocky Mountain,
and thence descend to the Pacific Ocean.
They made the Natives a few small presents,
and repaired their guns,, axes, &c, gratis.
Mr. Chaboillez writes, that they behave honourably toward his people, who are there
to trade with the Natives.
Tuesday, January 21, 1805. For nearly
a month, we have subsisted on little besides
potatoes; but thanks to a kind Providence,
the last night, two of my men returned
from the plains, with their sledges loaded
with the flesh of the buffaloe. They bring
us the pleasing intelligence, that, there is
a plenty of these animals within a day's
march of us. This supply of provisions could
not have come more opportunely, for our
potatoes are almost gone.
About a month since, I sent Mr. Goedike,
accompanied by ten men, out into the plains,
in hopes that they might fall in with the
Natives, who would be able to furnish us
with food; but we have heard nothing from
them, and I cannot conjecture what should
have detained them so long, as I did not
expect that they would be absent, for more
than ten days, from the fort.
Thursday, February 7. At the most of
the forts in the Swan River department,
they have not a sufficiency of provisions;
and  they have therefore, sent the greater HARMON'S JOURNAL.
number of their people, to pass the remainder
of the winter here. We now have buffaloe
in abundance, though our family consists
of upwards of seventy persons, who consume,
at least, four hundred and fifty pounds,
Thursday, 19. On the 8th inst. two men
arrived from Montagne a la Basse, with a
packet of letters, informing me, that a coalition took place, the last autumn at Montreal,
between the North West and the X. Y. companies, which letters I have forwarded to
Fort des Prairies.
On the 16th inst. I left this, in a cariol,
drawn by a horse, to visit a place, about
two days' march from this, into the plains,
where a number of our people have passed a
greater part of the winter; and in the course
of this pleasant ride, I saw thousands of
Saturday, March 2. People arrived from
Fort des Prairies, with letters from that
place, the English River, and Athabasca.—
Yesterday, swans passed this place, on their
way to the northward.
Monday, 18. A band of Crees and Assiniboins came in, a few days since, consisting
of more than a hundred persons. As they
brought a considerable quantity of furs
and provisions, they were able to purchase
a large supply of spirits for several days,
and of course continued drinking, until their
means were exhausted.   During this period, 104
one of the Assiniboins stabbed one of the
Crees. The wound, however, is not thought
to be mortal. The injury has been atoned
for, therefore, by a horse, presented by the
aggressor, to the wounded Indian; and now,
they appear to be as great friends, as they
were before the quarrel took* place.
It is a common thing among all the Natives, for an offender to offer property in
satisfaction for an injury; and when this is
accepted by the injured party, contention
between them entirely ceases. Even murder
is, sometimes, in this way, atoned Jor; but
not commonly. In ordinary cases, nothing
but the death of the murderer, or of some
of his near relations, will satisfy the desire
of revenge in an Indian, whose relative has
been murdered.
Wednesday, April 10. On the 24th ult.
I set out on horse back, accompanied by one
man, for Montagne a la Basse. When we
arrived there, we were not a little surprised
to find the fort gates shut, and about eighty
tents of Crees and Assiniboins encamped in
a hostile manner, around it, and threatening
to massacre all the white people in it. They,
in a menacing manner, threw balls over the
palisades, and told our people to gather
them up, declaring that they would probably have use for them in the course of a
few days. After having passed several days
there, I set out to return home. Just as I
had gotten out of the fort gate, three vil- HARMON'S JOURNAL.
lainous Indians approached me, and one
of them seized my horse by the bridle and
stopped him, saying, that the beast belonged
to him, and that he would take him from
me. I told him that he had disposed of
him to Mr. Chaboillez, who had charge of
i;he post; and that of this gentleman, I had
purchased him, and that I had no concern
with the matter, which was wholly between
him and Mr. Chaboillez. Perceiving, however,
that he was determined not to let go of
the bridle, I gave him a smart blow on his
hand, with the butt end of my whip, which
consisted of a deer's horn, and instantly
striking my horse, I caused him to spring
forward, and leave the Indian behind. Finding myself thus clear of this feUow, I continued my rout; but he with one of his companions, followed us nearly half of the day,
if not longer. After this length of time we
saw no more of them. Apprehensive, however, that they might fall upon us in our
encampment at night, and steal our horses,
and probably massacre us, after it became
dark, we went a little out of the path, and
laid ourselves down; but we dared not make
a fire, lest the light or the smoke should
discover the place where we were.
On my return, I passed four days agreeably, at Riviere qui Apelle, in the company
of a number of gentlemen, whom I found
there. On leaving that place, I was obliged
to cross the river, and at this late season, 106
the ice was bad. My horse, while I was on
him, fell through the ice twice, and the last
time, I came very near passing under it;
but a kind Providence once more, granted
me deliverance.
While at Montagne a la Basse, Mr. Chaboillez, induced me to consent to undertake
a long and arduous tour of discovery. I am
to leave that place, about the beginning of
June, accompanied by six or seven Canadians, and by two or three Indians. The first
place, at which we shall stop, will be the
Mandan Village, on the Missouri River.
Thence, we shall steer our course towards
the Rocky Mountain, accompanied by a number of the Mandan Indians, who proceed in
that direction every springr to meet and
trade with another tribe of Indians, who
reside on the other side of the Rocky Moun-
tain. It is expected that we shall return from
our excursion, in the month of November next.
[This journey, I never undertook; for
soon after the plan of it was settled, my
health became so much impaired, that I
was under the necessity of proceeding to
Head Quarters, to procure medical assistance.
A Mr. La Rocque attempted to make this
tour; but went no farther than the Mandan
Thursday, 18. We are packing our furs,
in order to send them to the general rendezvous ; and a few days hence, I shall abandon this fort, and the Indians in this vicinity HARMON'S JOURNAL.
will go either into the region of Riviere
qui Apelle, or up the Sisiscatchwin River,
near Fort des Prairies.
Sunday, May 5. We are now about three
leagues below Alexandria, which place we
abandoned on the 28th ult. All our property is on board of boats; but some of
us travel horse-back. As it has not rained
since the last Autumn, the water in the river
is uncommonly low, on account of which,
our boats make but poor progress. As we
have a pit saw with us, I have directed
some of my people to go into the woods,
and saw a sufficient quantity of boards, to
construct another boat, by means of which,
we may reduce the loading, in those that
we now possess.
Wednesday, 8. Riviere qui Apelle. On the
6th Mr. Goedike and several other persons
with myself, left our boats, and proceeded
on horse-back. As the fire has passed over
the plains, this spring, it was with difficulty
that we could find grass, sufficient for the
subsistence of our horses.
Monday, 20. Montagne a la Basse. Here
I have been waiting ever since the 15th for
the arrival of our boats. They arrived this
Monday, 27. Riviere a la Souris, or Mouse
River. This is about fifty miles from Montagne a la Basse. Here are three establishments, formed severally by the North
West, X. Y. and Hudson Bay companies. 108
Last evening, Mr. Chaboillez invited the
people of the other two forts to a dance; and
we had a real North West country ball.
When three fourths of the people had drunk
so much, as to be incapable of walking
straightly, the other fourth thought it time
to put an end to the ball, or rather bawl.
This morning, we were invited to breakfast
at the Hudson Bay House, with a Mr. McKay, and in the evening to a dance. This,
however, ended more decently, than the one
of the preceding evening.
It is now more than fifty years, since a
French missionary left this place. He had,
as I am informed, resided here, during a
number of years, for the purpose of instructing the Natives in the Christian religion.
He taught them some short prayers, in
the French language, the whole of which
some of them have not yet forgotten.
The surrounding country consists chiefly
of plains; and the soil appears to be richer,
than that which is farther up the river.
Tuesday, 30. In the morning, I left Mouse
River; and I have with me upwards of forty
men, in five boats and seven canoes.
Saturday, June 1. We are now a little
below what was called the Pine Fort. It
is twenty years since this fort was built,
and eleven since it was abandoned. This
River is now so low, arising from the fact
that we have had no rain this spring, and
we have such a number of boats and canoes, HARMON'S JOURNAL.
that we drive the sturgeon upon the sand
banks, where there is but little water; and we
have no difficulty in killing any number of
them, that we please. We now subsist entirely
on these fish; and they are excellent food.
Thursday, 13. Portage la Prairie, or
Plain Portage. Here the North West company have a miserable fort, the local situation of which, is beautiful, beyond any thing
that I have seen in this part of the world.
Opposite the fort, there is a plain, which is
about sixty miles long, and from one to
ten broad, in the whole extent of which, not
the least rise of ground is visible.—To this
place, the Natives resort every spring, to
take and dry sturgeon.
Saturday, 15. We are now encamped under a beautiful range of oaks, which separate the river from a pretty extensive plain.
Ever since we left Mouse River, the soil on
each side of the Upper Red River, down which
we are passing, appears to be excellent, and
the timber is very different from what it is
near its source. We here find oak, elm, walnut, bass wood, &c. and I am informed that
there are grapes and plums in this vicinity.
Tuesday, 18. Not far from the place
where we are now encamped, there is a considerably large camp of Sauteux. Among
them I saw another of my unfortunate countrymen, who, like one of whom I have
already spoken, was taken from his parents,
when  a   child.    Thus,   has   many   a   fond 110
mother, in the frontier settlements, been deprived of her beloved and tender offspring,—
but this fellow is lost, beyond recovery,
for he now speaks no other language, but
that of the Indians, among whom he resides, and he has adopted aU their manners
and customs; and it would now be as
difficult to reconcile him to the habits of
civilized life, as it would be, were he a real
Wednesday, 19. The Forks. At this place
the Upper and Lower Red Rivers, form a
junction. The country around is pleasant,
the soil appears to be excellent, and it is
tolerably well timbered with oak, basswood,
walnut, elm, poplar, aspin, birch, &c. Grape
vines and plum trees are also seen.
Friday, 21. We are now encamped at
the place, where the Red River enters the
Great Winipick Lake. It is now nearly five
years since I passed this place, which, at
first thought, seems but a moment. But
when I deliberately recollect the scenes
through which I have passed, during that
space of time, it seems as if I had passed
the greater part of my days in this
Monday, 24. We are now at the entrance
of Winipick River, into the Lake of the same
name. We, here, find a number of people,
who are from their respective winter quarters, and who, like ourselves, are on their
way to the New Fort. HARMON'S JOURNAL.
Friday, July 5. Rainy Lake. On the
margin of the waters, which connect this
lake with the Great Winipick Lake, the wild
rice is found, of which I have spoken on a
former occasion. This useful grain is produced in no other part of the North West
Country; though Carver erroneously states,
that it is found every where. It grows in
water, about two feet deep, where there is
a rich muddy bottom. It rises more than
eight feet above the water; and, in appearance bears a considerable resemblance to oats.
It is gathered about the latter end of September, in the following manner. The Natives
pass in among it in canoes. Each canoe
has in it two persons, one of whom is in
each end, with a long hooked stick, in one
hand, and a straight one in the other. With
the hooked stick, he brings the heads of the
grain over the canoe, and holds it there;
while, with the other, he beats it out. When
the canoe is thus sufficiently loaded, it is
taken to the shore and emptied. This mode
of gathering the wild rice, is evidently more
simple and convenient, than that which was
practised in Carver's day. This grain is
gathered in such quantities, in this region,
that in ordinary seasons, the North West
Company purchase, annually, from twelve
to fifteen hundred bushels of it, from the
Natives; and it constitutes a principal article of food, at the posts in this vicinity.
I have here received letters from my friends 112
in Vermont, which left them in April last;
and which have, as usual, afforded me much
Saturday, 6. Rainy Lake. We are about
ten miles from the fort, on this lake; and
have been encamped, during the greater
part of the day, in order that our people
may repair their canoes; for they will soon
be obliged to transport them over a number
of long portages.
Monday, 8. Cross Lake. Here we meet
several canoes which, about the beginning of
May last, left Montreal, that have goods
on board, which will be carried in them to
the Rainy Lake fort, and will thence be
transported to Athabasca.—At this lake,
we leave the route which leads to the old
Grand Portage.
Tuesday, 9. During the whole of this
day, we have been crossing small lakes, and
coming down what deserve the name of
brooks, rather than rivers.—We have met
eight canoes, on their way to the Rainy
Friday, 12. The Plain Portage. In the
former part of the day, we met, A. N. McLeod, Esq. who is now from the New Fort, on
his way back to Athabasca. We went on
shore, and took breakfast with him. He
has taken with him my friend Mr. F. Goedike, a young man possessed of a good
understanding, and a humane and generous
heart, who has been with me for four years HARMON'S JOURNAL.
past, and from whom I could not separate,
without regret.
Saturday, July 13. Overtook the Swan
River people, and entered Nipignon River,
which is nearly ten rods broad. This and
Dog's river, excepting a few carrying places,
on account of rapids and falls, will carry us
to the New Fort. The land in this vicinity
is low, and in many places, it is swampy.
There are few animals in this region, excepting moose, bears, and a few beavers
and martins. This is the rout, by which
the French, in former times, passed into
the interiour. The Indians in this quarter,
are a few Sauteux and Muscagoes. The latter, come from towards Hudson's Bay.
Sunday, 14. Dog's Portage, which is
about three miles over. After coming down
Nipignon River, which is nearly fifty miles
long, we entered the Dog's Lake, which may
be about forty miles in circumference, and
by crossing which, we arrived at this place.
Monday, 15. The Mountain Portage.
Here the water falls perpendicularly, about
seventy feet. The North West company have
here a store house, to which they send provisions, &c, from the New Fort, as the river
from this to that place is generally shallow,
and is full of rapids. Those, therefore, who
are going into the interiour, cannot take a
full load, until they arrive at this place; and
here they usually take their supply of provisions. 114
Tuesday, 16. New Fort, or, as it is called
by the Natives, Ka-mi-ni-ti-qui-a, is built on
the bank of Dog River, which is a considerable stream, that empties into Lake Supe-
riour, about four or five hundred rods below
the fort. The vessel that runs on that lake,
can come, with a part of her lading, quite
up to the quay, before the fort. Here the
French, before the English conquered Canada,
had an establishment.
We here meet a number of gentlemen, some
of whom came this summer from Montreal,
and others from different parts of the Interiour. There are also here, one thousand
labouring men, the greater part of whom, are
Canadians, who answer better in this country, for the service required by the Company,
than any other people would probably do.
The country, for some considerable distance round, is covered with heavy timber,
consisting of a kind of red pine, poplar,
aspin, birch, cedar, &c, but the soil does not
appear to be of the first quality. Potatoes,
pease, oats, &c, however, grow tolerably
well here. 18
Monday, 22. 1 have passed several days,
not unpleasantly, in the company of a number of young gentlemen. They now begin,
however, to leave this, to return to their
winter quarters; and to-morrow, I expect to
depart, and to proceed for Fort des Prairies.
As there wiU be two other young gentlemen
in  the same brigade, whom I know to be HARMON'S JOURNAL.
sociable and pleasant companions, I expect
to have a pleasant passage to my winter
Wednesday, August. 28. During nearly a
month past we have been coming through a
country, which I have already described. We
are now at the Grand Rapid, where the
Sisiscatchwin River disembogues into the
north west part of Great Lake Winipick.
This is a noble stream, about two hundred
fathoms broad.
Thursday, September 5. Cumberland
House. This fort stands on the north side of
a considerable lake, called by the Natives,
who in this vicinity are Muscagoes, Sturgeon
Lake. The sturgeon are found in considerable plenty, in this lake. This post was established, thirty three years since, by Mr.
Joseph Frobisher. At this place, the people
who are destined to Fort des Prairies, and
those who are proceeding to Athabasca, separate. The former go up the Sisiscatchwin
River, and the latter up the English River
The latter, is so called, in honour of Mr.
Joseph Frobisher, an Englishman, who was
the first trader that ever went into that part
of the country.—On the 30th ultimo, we
crossed Lac Bourbon, which is about forty
miles long, on which the North West Company had a fort, formerly; but it was abandoned, in 1802. There are few mountains or
hills to be seen, between this place and Lake
Winipick.   The country has a pretty heavy
growth of timber, and the soil is rich. In the
lakes and rivers of this region, excellent fish
are taken, such as sturgeon, white-fish, catfish, pike, pickerel, &c. This country abounds
in fowls, among which are swans, bustards,
geese, and many kinds of ducks. Moose are
found in considerable plenty; there are a few
black bears, otters, muskrats and martins;
and rarely, a beaver is found.
Saturday, September 21. South Branch
Fort. This is about one hundred and twenty
miles above the Fork, or the place where this
river forms a junction with the North Branch,
after which, it assumes the name of Sisiscatchwin River. Both branches take their
rise in the Rocky Mountain, though at a distance of several hundred miles from each
other. The South Branch passes through
large plains; but the country through which
the other runs is woody, particularly on the
north side. From Cumberland House to the
Fork, the country on both sides of the river
is covered with wood. In these woods, and
the small plains that are here and there scattered among them, moose, red deer, &c, are
to be found.
This fort was put up the last summer, and
two stores were built; but the dwelling houses
are still to be constructed.—I am informed
that buffaloes are in plenty within half a
day's march from this. There are four tribes
of Indians, who come to trade at this establishment.   They are the Crees, Assiniboins, HARMON'S JOURNAL.
Sauteux and Muscagoes. A few also of the
Black feet Indians resort here.
In coming up this river, we saw many
places, where forts have stood, some of which
were abandoned thirty years since, and some
at a later period. One, which was situated
about six miles below this, was abandoned
fifteen years since, on account of an attack
from the Rapid Indians. The following circumstances, in regard to that affair, were
related to me by Mons. Louis Chattellain,
who, at that time, had charge of the fort.
The Hudson Bay Company had a fort in the
same neighbourhood, which was first attacked, by about one hundred and fifty
Indians on horse back; and the few people
who were in it, excepting one man, who
secreted himself, were killed. After they had
taken out of the fort all the property which
they could conveniently carry away with
them, they set fire to the fort, and proceeded
to the establishment of the North West Company, which was two hundred rods distant
from that of Hudson Bay people, with the
intention of treating it in a similar manner.
The fort gates had providentially, been
shut, previously to the approach of the Indians. There were in the fort, three men, and
several women and children. The men took
their stations in the block houses and bastions ; and when the Natives had come sufficiently near, fired upon them. The Indians,
instantly returned the fire; and the contest 118
continued, until the night approached. The
savage assailants, having had several of their
party killed, and others severely wounded,
while the people in the fort had sustained no
injury, thought it best to retreat; and after
dragging their dead and dying into the river,
they retired. But Mr. Chattellain did not
think it prudent to remain there any longer.
Accordingly, the day following, they embarked all their property on board of several
canoes, and proceeded down the river, about
two hundred miles, where they commenced
building another fort. The only object of
the Indians, in attacking these forts, was
Mr. William Smith and myself, together
with fifteen labouring men, &c. are to pass
the winter here; and a few hundred paces
from us, the Hudson Bay people have a fort.
Thursday, October 10. This day, a^Cana-
dian's daughter, a girl of about fourteen
years of age, was offered to me; and after
mature consideration, concerning the step
which I ought to take, I have finally concluded to accept of her, as it is customary
for all gentlemen who remain, for any length
of time, in this part of the world, to have
a female companion, with whom they can
pass their time more socially and agreeably,
than to live a lonely life, as they must do,
if single. If we can live in harmony together,
my intention now is, to keep her as long
as I remain in this uncivilized part of the HAHMON'S JOURNAL.
world; and when I return to my native land,
I shall endeavour to place her under the
protection of some honest man, with whom
she can pass the remainder of her days in
this country, much more agreeably, than it
would be possible for her to do, were she to
be taken down into the civilized world, to
the manners, customs and language of which,
she would be an entire stranger. Her mother
is of the tribe of the Snare Indians, whose
country lies along the Rocky Mountain. The
girl is said to have a mild disposition and
an even temper, which are qualities very necessary to make an agreeable woman, and an
affectionate partner.
Thursday, November 7. The river froze
over the last night; but we have yet had
but little snow.
Saturday, March 15, 1806. This evening
the northern express arrived; and I am sorry
to learn that no letters have come from
Athabasca, this season. This failure is#owing
to the great depth of snow in that quarter.—
Buffaloes have been found in plenty, within
a few miles of the fort, during the whole
Tuesday, 25. The snow is chiefly dissolved. We have sent four men, about a
day's march from this, to make sugar.
Saturday, April 19. The greater part of
our Indians have gone to wage war upon
the Rapid Indians, their inveterate enemies,
with whom they frequently patch up a peace, 120
which, however, is generally of short continuance.
Monday, 28. This afternoon, the ice in
this river broke up.—A few days since, a
small war party of the Rapid Indians came
and killed several Assiniboins, who were encamped within fifteen miles of our fort. They
also stabbed an old woman in several places,
and scalped her, who, notwithstanding, is
still alive, and, to appearance, likely to recover of her wounds.
Monday, June 2. Last evening, Messrs.
J. Hughes and Alexander Stewart came here,
on horse back, from the North Branch?
which passes within fifteen miles from this.
-There, they left their canoes and people;
and on their return, they will continue their
rout to the New Fort.—Mr. Smith and myself, if providence permit, are to pass the
summer at this place, where we have three
interpreters, four labouring men, and a number of women and children. As my companion is a sensible, well informed and sociable young man, I hope to pass my time
both pleasantly and profitably.
Friday, August 8. Six Assiniboins have
arrived, and inform us, that about eighty
tents of Crees and Assiniboins, with about
as many of the Black feet Indians, were on
their way to wage war with the Rapid Indians, their common enemy. But the two
former tribes quarrelled, in their march, respecting a horse, which they both claimed, HARMON'S JOURNAL.
and which neither would relinquish. This
circumstance occasioned a battle between
them, which lasted during a day, in which
twenty five of the Black feet Indians, and
three of the Assiniboins, were killed. This
put an end to the expedition, for this
Wednesday, September 3. Two men have
arrived from Cumberland House, situated
on Sturgeon Lake, who have brought me
letters from my friends below, which communicate the melancholy intelligence, that
my father, after a severe illness of but a
few weeks, expired, on the 25th of June,
1805. The protector and guide of my youth,
whom I revered and loved, I shall never
more see in this world. It would have afforded me inexpressible satisfaction, could I
have seen and conversed with him, previously
to his departure. But "the Judge of the
earth has done right," and "his will be
done." I am not left to mourn, under this
severe bereavement, without consolation; for
his christian character and profession, afford
the comfortable hope, that he has ceased to
sin and to suffer, and now participates in
blessedness, such as this miserable world cannot afford. May his pious example stimulate me, and his other children, to follow
him in the path which conducts to a better
I have also received letters from Mr. A.
N. McLeod, and Mr. J. McDonald, which in- HARMON'S JOURNAL.
form me, that I am to pass the ensuing
winter at Cumberland House, for which place,
I shall leave this, a few days hence.
Thursday, September 11. Cumberland
House. I arrived here this afternoon, and
find Messrs. J. Hughes, and David Thompson, &c. who have just arrived from the
New Fort, and who are on their way to
Fort des Prairies. The Hudson Bay people
have a fort within a hundred rods of ours,
in the charge of Mr. Peter Fidler.
Wednesday, 17. Sent Mons. Peras and
company, with a small assortment of goods,
to go .ana4 pass the winter at Moose Lake,
which is situated about two days' march
from this, and nearly west from Lake Winni-
The Indians, who resort to this establishment, are Sauteux and Muscagoes. Moose
and black bears are pretty abundant in this
vicinity; and a few beavers are found. We
subsist principally upon sturgeon and white
fish, which we take out of the lake. Geese
and bustards are numerous, in the faU and
spring. The surrounding country is very
low and level, so that, at some seasons,
much of it is overflowed. This accounts for
the periodical influx and reflux of the water,
between this lake and the Sisiscatchwin
River, which are distant six miles.
Friday, October 3. Hudson Bay people,
in three canoes, have just arrived from York
Factory.   They bring late news from Eng- HARMON'S JOURNAL.
land; and inform us, that war continues to
rage as much as ever, on the continent of
Friday, 24:. We have now about four
inches of snow; and, the last night, the
greater part of this lake froze over.—I have
sent people to the other side of this lake to
fish for sturgeon, which will weigh from ten
to one hundred pounds. They are taken in
spread nets, which is the manner in which
we generally take all kinds of fish, in this
country. Some kinds, however, such as trout,
cat fish and pike, we at times take, by setting hooks and lines.
Friday, January 30, 1807. Two of the
Hudson Bay people arrived from Fort des
Prairies, who were so obliging as to bring
me letters from several gentlemen in that
quarter. The greater part of the North
West and Hudson Bay people, live on amicable terms; and when one can with propriety render a service to the other, it is
done with cheerfulness.
Sunday, April 5. The ice in the Sisiscatchwin river, is broken up; and the great quantity of snow which has recently been dissolved, has caused that river to rise so high,
as to give another course to a small river,
which generally takes its water out of this
lake, but which now runs into it.
Saturday, May 23. This lake is free from
ice; and we have planted potatoes, and
sowed our garden seeds.—Geese have returned 124
from the south, and we now have them in
Saturday, 30. Mr. John McDonald and
others, in seven canoes, have just arrived
from Fort des Prairies, and are on their
way to the New Fort.
Sunday, June 7. Grand Rapid. On the
1st inst. Mr. John McDonald, myself and
other people, in'seven canoes and one boat,
left Cumberland House and arrived here, on
the 15th, where we have ever since been,
stopped by the ice in Lake Winnipick, which
is not yet broken up.—We here spear as many
sturgeon as we please, as they are going
up or down the rapid, which is about six
miles in length.
Monday, 8. Lake Winnipick. The last
night there arose a strong north west wind,
which broke up the ice, and drove it to the
north east part of the lake. We, therefore,
embarked this morning, and have sailed all
Tuesday, 16. White River. In the morning we left the fort, at the entrance of Lake
Winnipick River, and this afternoon, Mr. A.
N. McLeod and company, from Athabasca,
overtook us. With this gentleman, to whom
I am under many obligations, I am happy
to spend an evening, after so long a separation.
Saturday, July 4. New Fort. Once more,
I have arrived at the general rendezvous,
and find myself among my friends and ac- HARMON'S JOURNAL.
quaintances, from different parts of the country.—Here I have received letters from my
friends below, which inform me of their health
and reasonable prosperity. It is a great
satisfaction thus to hear from them; but
this satisfaction would be greatly increased,
could I be permitted to see and converse
with them. Although the seven years, for
which I was under an engagement to the
North West Company, have now expired, I
cannot with the least degree of propriety, as
I think, gratify the ardent desire which I
have of seeing my friends, by going down
this year. And when the happy time will
come, that I shall visit them, God only
knows. It is trying to a person who has the
least affection for his friends, to be separated
from them, for such a series of years, in such
a savage country. My duty and happiness,
however, require that I endeavour to make
the best of my situation. Notwithstanding
the bad examples which we daily witness, a
person can be as virtuous in this, as in any
other part of the world. True it is, if a person were here to lead a really religious life,
he would find but few associates, who would
directly encourage him in his course. But
this is in a great measure true in every part
of the world.
Sunday, July 19. This, which was formerly called the New Fort, is now named Fort
William, in honour of William McGilvray,
Esq. the head agent of the North West Com- 126
pany. At the time of giving this name, the
Company made a present to their Voyagers,
of a considerable'quantity of spirits, shrub,
&c. and also a similar present to the Indians,
encamped about the fort.
As I am still in iU health, I shall pass the
winter with Dodbor^cljaughlin, at Sturgeon
Lake, in the department ofNipigon, which
lies to the north west from this.
Saturday, 25. This afternoon, in company
with three canoes, I left Fort William; and
we are now encamped on an island, in Lake
Monday, August 3. First long Portage
xin the Nipigon Road. We yesterday, separated from Messrs. Chaboillez and Leith, who
have gone to winter at the Pic and Michip-
cotton; and to day, we left Lake Superiour,
and have come up a smaU river.
Tuesday, 4. South west end of Lake Nipigon. This lake is said to be one hundred
and fifty miles in length, and from one, to
twenty, broad. Trout are here taken, superiour to those that are found in any other
part of the North West country, which will
weigh upwards of seventy pounds, and are
of an excellent quality.—The country through
which we have passed in coming to this place
from Lake Superiour, is rocky and contains
but little wood, of any kind. Whortleberries
are found in plenty.
Friday, 7. Fort Duncan, at the north end
of Lake Nipigon.   The surrounding country HARMON'S JOURNAL.
is very rough; but where the ground is arable
the soil appears to be good.—Moose and
carriboo are found in this vicinity; and there
are, also, a few black bears, beavers, otters,
muskrats, martins, &c. Great numbers of
white fish are taken out of the lake, particularly in the fall of the year. These are
hung up by their tails, in the open air, and
are preserved good, in a frozen state, during
the winter. Most people prefer those that
have been thus kept, to fish that are taken
immediately out of the water.
Sunday, 9. In the morning, we sent off
three canoes, and in the after .part of the
day, some of the people returned, with the
melancholy intelligence, that one of their
companions was drowned, in going up a
small rapid. The canoe overset, and most
of the property on board, was lost. The
other persons, who were in it, saved themselves by swimming to the shore.
Thursday, 13. In the morning, Mr. Hol-
dane, the Doctor and myself, with our company, left lort Duncan, where Mr. R. McKenzie wiU pass the ensuing winter. There,
also, we separated from two Messrs. Camer-
ons, whose route is northward, towards Hudson's Bay.   Our course is nearly south west.
Monday, 24. Portage du Fort, or Sturgeon Lake. Here, we arrived, yesterday; and
this morning, Mr. Holdane and his company left us, to continue their route to Red
Lake.   The Doctor and I, with our company, 128
shall leave this tomorrow, to go and build
at the other end of this lake, which may be
about forty miles long, and from one to five
broad.—The country through which we have
passed, since we left Fort Duncan, is low and
level; no mountains, or even hills, are to
be seen; in many places it is swampy, and
small lakes and ponds and rivers and brooks
are numerous. Where the land is dry, the
soil appears to be principally a black loam.—
This tract of country was formerly well
stocked with beavers and otters; but they
have now become scarce, as they have been
hunted by the Natives, during more than the
last hundred years. Moose and carriboo are
still considerably numerous, in this region.
Tuesday, September 1. Our people are
erecting houses for our winter habitations.
We now take white fish in considerable numbers.—The Indians, who frequent this post,
are Sauteux and Muscagoes.
Saturday, October 3. We sent people to
the other end of this lake, to make a fall
fishery. They wiU take white fish, trout,
pike, carp, &c, which constitutes the principal food for those who are in the Nipigon
country. In this country, which is at least
seven hundred miles long and five or six
hundred broad, more people have starved to
death, than in all the rest of the Indian
country. At this lake, several years since,
eleven Canadians lost their lives for want of
food.   We experience at present, no difficulty HARMON'S JOURNAL.
in this respect; and I am of opinion that
the distresses of our predecessors were, in a
considerable measure, owing to the want of
good management.
Monday, November 9. Our people have
returned, and inform us, that they have
caught only fourteen hundred fish- of all descriptions. These, however, with what corn,
flour, wild rice and meat we have, together
with the trout which we hope to take with
set hooks and lines, as soon as the lake is
frozen over, will, we expect, furnish us with
a comfortable subsistence, during the winter.
We are in a solitary place, where we see no
one, excepting the Natives; and they are
few in number, compared with those, among
whom I have formerly been. Happily for us,
we have a few good books; and in perusing
them, we shall pass the greater part of the
time. The Doctor, who is of about the same
age with myself, is an excellent companion,
and fond of conversation; and I trust, that *
a friendly intercourse will mutually cheer our
spirits, and that we shall spend the winter
in a manner, that will be both pleasant and
profitable.—We have now about four inches
of snow, which will probably remain with
us through the winter.
Sunday, 15.   The last night, this lake froze
Friday, December 4.   We now take great
numbers of excellent trout from under the
ice, with hooks and lines.
9 130
Early this morning, the woman whom L
have taken to reside with me, became the
mother  of  a boy,   whom  I name   George
Monday, December 28. Doctor McLaughlin, accompanied by two Canadians and one
of the Natives, has gone to visit Mr. Hol-
dane, at Red Lake. §11
Friday, February 19, 1808. The Doctor
and company have returned, from their long
jaunt; and I am happy in again enjoying
his society, after a season of comparative
Another year of my life is gone, which
makes me thirty years of age. This anniversary leads me to reflect on the rapid flight
of time, and the brevity of human life. When
I attentively consider these things, it seems
surprising that we should encounter so much
difficulty and labour in the acquisition of
property, which, if it could minister more
effectually to our enjoyment than it does,
we must very soon relinquish forever.
Friday, May 13. The Doctor, with one
man in a small canoe, has set off for Fort
William, where he wiU be wanted, as soon
as he can arrive, to attend on the sick.
Among the great number who visit that
rendezvous every summer, there are always
some, who need medical aid; though I firmly
believe, that no part of the world is more
healthy than this.—The Doctor has not been
able to learn, to his satisfaction, what my HARMON'S JOURNAL.
complaint is. I think that the medicines,
which I have taken, in the course of the winter, have been of essential service to me; and
I hope, before long to regain my former
state of good health.
The Indians of this place have subsisted,
during the greater part of the past winter,
upon hares.—There is an old Sauteux woman
here, who compels her own son to have
criminal intercourse with her.
Thursday, June 9. Portage du Fort.
Here, we shall wait the arrival of the people
of this department; and we shall then continue our route, with them to Fort William*
It is nine months and fifteen days since I
passed this place, the last autumn, in going
into the country, which evinces that our
winter has been long; and I may add too,
that it has been dreary. But we have reason to be thankful to God, that^we have
not suffered at all, for the want of the means
of subsistence.
Wednesday, 22. Fort Duncan. The people
for whom we were waiting at Portage du
Fort, arrived on the 12th, and the day
following, we set out for this place, which we
reached this afternoon.
Saturday, 25. Yesterday, we left fort Duncan, and came to an island in Lake Nipigon,
on which we are now encamped, and where
we intend to pass a few days, in fishing for
trout, which are here in plenty, and are of
an excellent quality. HARMON'S JOURNAL.
Thursday, July 7. Yesterday morning, I
arrived at Fort William, where I had only
time to read my letters from my friends' below, and answer them, and prepare myself
for a long journey. This afternoon I embarked for Athabasca, in company with Mr.
J. G. McTavish; and both of us are to remain at the place of our destination, for
three yeass, at least.
Wednesday, 20. Rainy Lake. We here
find all the Athabasca people, excepting one
brigade, which is expected daily.
Saturday, 22. Ever since my arrival
here, we have been busily employed in preparing to leave this place, for our winter
Tuesday, 26. Rainy Lake River. In the
morning, I left the fort in company with
Mr. Archibald McGillivray. Our brigade consists of ien canoes.
Friday, 29. Portage de L'Isle, in Winnipick River. In the morning, we met Mr.
David Thomson and company from the
Columbia River.
Monday, AugusiTL. Lake Winnipick. This
morning, we arrived at the fort on this lake,
where we remained until noon. While there,
I wrote to my old friend Mr. William Henry,
who is at the Lower Red River. I also
received a letter from him, in which he informs me, that his fort was attacked this
summer, by a considerable party of Sieux.
Two shots, from cannon in the block houses, HARMON'S JOURNAL.
however, caused them to retire, in doing
which, they threatened that they would before long, return and make another attempt
to take the fort.—The Sieux are a numerous
tribe of Indians, who are scattered over a
large tract of land, that lies between the
Mississippi and Missouri rivers; and they are
said to be the greatest villains, in this part
of the world. They are the same tribe that
Carver distinguishes, by the name of Naudo
Saturday, 6, Grand Rapid, at the north
west end of Lake Winnipick. The wind has
been high, during the day; and in the latter
part of it, one of our canoes filled with water.
Happily, it was near an island, when this
disaster happened. The people were, however, under the necessity of throwing apart
of their property overboard.
We find here Mons. Perigne, who was formerly a clerk to the North West Company,
but who, as he informs me, has lately been
to Canada, and has come up on his own
account. He has brought up a few goods,
to enable him to carry on a small traffick
with the Natives. He, also, intends, occasionally to hunt the beaver, &c, himself. But
I am convinced, that, at this great distance
from the place of market for furs, the trade
cannot be profitably carried on, unless it
be done on a large scale, which requires a
greater capital than an individual can embark in this undertaking.   The experiment 134
has been made, in a number of instances;
and it has uniformly failed.
Friday,   12.    Cumberland House.    From
*/    7
this place, I shall take a route, which I have
never before travelled.
Saturday, 13. Entrance of Rive&Maligne,
or Bad River. This is a considerable river,
which runs into Sturgeon Lake.
Sunday, 14. Beaver Lake. The greater
part of the day, we have employed in coming up the river last mentioned, which,
through its whole course, has a continual
succession of rapids. The country around is
low, and the timber, like that of the North
West country generally, is small.
Tuesday, 16. Pelican Lake. Most of the
day has been passed in crossing Lac Martin.
Wednesday, 17. Portage du Forte de
Traite, or Trading Fort Portage. This was
so named, from a circumstance which occurred
here, thirty four years since. Mr. Joseph
Frobisher and company, who were the first
traders who ever came into this quarter,
here met a large band of Natives, whose
canoes were loaded with furs, which they
were taking to York Factory, at Hudson's
Bay. He succeeded in bartering his goods
for their furs, which amounted to more than
he could take to headquarters, the next season. He therefore built a fort, and, with his
people passed several winters here; and at
that time, it was the most northern post, HARMON'S JOURNAL.
belonging either to the North West, or the
Hudson Bay Company.
All the waters from this side of the portage, pass through Lake Winnipick, and
finally fall into Hudson's Bay, at York Factory. But, on the other side of the portage,
which is about half a mile over, the stream,
which is called Mis-sin-ni-pi or Great River,
runs in a different direction, and enters Hudson's Bay, at Churchill Factory, which is the
most northern post belonging to the Hudson
Bay Company. The river last mentioned,
is called, by the Hudson Bay people, Churchill River, and by the people from Canada,
English River.
Thursday, August 18. This afternoon we
obtained some dried meat from the Natives,
which we find much more palatable than the
salted provisions, on which we have subsisted,
ever since we left Fort William. In the Interiour we never make use of salted provisions ; not, however, for want of salt, which
is found in most parts of the country, and
which can be obtained in plenty, at all our
Tuesday, 23. Isle a la Cross Lake. Ever
since we left Portage du Forte de Traite, we
have been in what may with propriety, be
called the English River, though it passes
through several small lakes; and in this
river, our way has been obstructed by thirty
six portages.
Thursday, 25.    Isle la Cross fort.    This 136
fort stands on the north side of the lake of
the same name, is well built and has attached to it an excellent kitchen garden.
Out of the lake, the best of white fish are
taken, during the whole year; and it is the
only place in this country, in which these
fish can be taken, at all seasons.—The Indians who come to this establishment, are
Chippewyans, in considerable numbers, and
a few Crees. I am informed that there are,
in this vicinity, many moose and cariboo,
and a few black bears, beavers, otters, cats,
&c. The country is low; and scarcely any
mountains are to be seen.
Tuesday, 30. East end of Portage la
Loche, or Loach Portage. This is so named,
from a neighbouring lake, where these fish are
taken, in abundance. This portage is twelve
miles over; and across it, the people are
obliged to transport both canoes and lading.
The road, however, is excellent, through a
level country, thinly wooded with cypress.
In coming here from Isle la Cross, we have
passed two considerable lakes, and come up
a small river, which is between those lakes.
The country through which we have passed,
is generally level, and the soil is tolerably
good. The streams, before we cross this
portage, discharge themselves into Hudson's
Bay at Churchill Factory; but afterward,
the water, after passing through Athabasca,
Great Slave, and other lakes, enters the
North Sea. —™.
Saturday, September 3. North west end of
Portage la Loche. We here find a small
band of Chippewyans, who assist our people
in transporting our property across the portage, and who supply us with provisions,
which we very much need, since our former
stock is nearly exhausted.
About a mile from this end of the portage
is a hill, which towers majestically, to the
height of a thousand feet, above the plain
below; and which commands a most extensive and delightful prospect. Two lofty and
extensive ridges, enclose a valley, about
three miles in width, which stretches, far as
the eye can reach. The Little River, which is,
also, by different persons, denominated Swan,
Clear water, or Pelican River, winds, in a
most deMgEfful manner, along this charming
valley. The majestick forests, which wave
upon these ridges, the delightful verdure of
the intervening lawn, and the beautiful
stream, which wanders along through it,
giving a pleasing variety to the scene, until
these objects become blended with the horizon, form, on the whole, the most delightful,
natural scenery, that I ever beheld.
Sunday, 4. In the morning, we left the
Portage; and are now in Little Athabasca
River; which is about twenty rods wide.
Tuesday, 6. We are now in the Great
Athabasca River, which is about three quarters of a mile in breadth. In the early part
of the day, we passed the Fork, where Little HARMON'S JOURNAL.
Athabasca river and Red deer, or as some
call it, Elk river, form a junction.—At a small
distance from Portage la Loche, the navigation of the river is interrupted by several
carrying places, in about the middle of which,
are some mineral springs, that are evidently
impregnated with sulphur, as appears by the
incrustations on their margins. At about
twenty miles from the Fork, several bituminous fountains are found, into which a
pole of twenty feet in length, may be plunged,
without the least resistance. The bitumen,
which is in a fluid state, is mixed with gum,
or the resinous substance collected from the
spruce fir, and is used for gumming canoes.
When heated, it emits a smell, like that of
sea coal.—There are some places, along this
river, which are of many miles in extent,
where there is scarcely a tree standing. They
were killed by the fire, and were then thrown
down by the winds. At these places, a few
buffaloes, moose and cariboo, are found.
Wednesday, 7. Fort Chippewyan. This
fort stands on a rocky point, at the south
western end of Athabasca Lake, or, as some
call it, the Lake of the HiUs.—This is the
general rendezvous for all Athabasca. Here
the goods are set apart for all the different
posts, in this extensive department; and to
this place, the greater number of persons
who have the charge of these posts, come
every fall, to receive their merchandise from
those, who have brought it from the Rainy HARMON'S JOURNAL.
Lake.—This place is in N. Lat. 58° 40' and
W. Long. 111°.
A few Crees, and a greater number of
Chippewyans, resort to this establishment.
The latter tribe were accustomed, formerly,
to take their furs to Churchill Factory, at
Hudson's Bay. They were, generally, six
months in performing the journey; and many
of them have actually starved to death, on
their return home, as the country through
which they passed, is almost destitute of
game.—This lake is, in no part of it, more
than fifteen miles wide; but it is, at least,
two hundred miles long, and extends east-
wardly, toward Churchill Factory.
About sixty miles from this, down Slave
River, there are several places, where almost
any quantity of excellent, clean, white salt
may be taken, with as much ease, as sand,
along the sea shore. From these places, the
greater part of the North West is supplied
with this valuable article.
The country around this place, is low and
level, and, in the spring of the year, much
of it is covered with water. A few moose are
found, in this vicinity; but, the fish of the
lake form the principal dependence for food,
and they are abundant, and of an excellent
quality.—Every fall and spring, bustards and
geese are found in greater numbers, than in
any other part of the North West.
Wednesday, 21. Ever since my arrival in
this place, people, from almost every corner 140
of this extensive department, have been
flocking in, some of whom are from more
than a thousand miles down McKenzie's
River, which is nearly north west from this.
Others are from Great Slave Lake and Peace
River. Mr. Simon Frazer has just returned
from the Pacific Ocean. The last spring, accompanied by two other gentlemen, twelve
Canadians, and two of the Natives, he set
out from New Caledonia, on the west side of
the Rocky Mountain, on this tour. Mr.
Frazer states, that his party met with some
iU treatment from the Indians who live along
the sea coast, but that they were hospitably
received by those who reside farther up the
country. The Indians in that quarter, he
says, are less scattered than those who live
on this side of the" Rocky Mountain, and
reside, not in tents, but in houses or huts,
constructed of wood. He also reports, that
the country through which they passed, is
far from being well stocked with beavers,
or any other kind of animals; and that the
Natives subsist principally upon fish.
Thursday, 22. This afternoon, in company with a number of persons, in several
canoes, I left Fort Chippewyan; and, after
coming two miles in Athabasca Lake, we entered a small river, which is about thirty
six miles long, and which now runs out of
that Lake into Peace river; but, when this
river is high, it discharges itself into the
Friday, 23. Peace River. This river is
about seventy rods in breadth, and has a
gentle current. It rises on the west side of
the Rocky Mountain, at the distance of
nearly a thousand miles from this. Below
this, it assumes the name of Slave River;
and, after a course of one hundred and forty
or fifty miles, it discharges itself into Great
Slave Lake. f%r- <*—~"'^ T-~~ ry^s \
Sunday, October 2. Fort Vermillion. To
tJiis post, great numbers of Beaver Indians
bring their furs; and there are a few Iroquois, also, from Canada, who hunt in this
vicinity.—About sixty miles below this, where
the river is about thirty rods wide, there is a
fall, of about twenty feet. Through the whole
course, from this fall, nearly to the Rocky
Mountain, at a little distance from the river,
on each side, there are plains of considerable
extent, which afford pasture for numerous
herds of the buffaloe, the red deer or elk,
and a few moose. Great numbers of black
bears are found, that feed on the berries,
which are abundant on the hills, on both
sides of the river.
Friday, 7. Encampment island Fort.
This place is, also established, for the purpose
of trading with the Beaver Indians. They
are the only Indians who live along this
noble river, excepting a few Crees, who occasionally come to this quarter, from the
Lesser Slave Lake.
Monday, 10.    Dunvegan.    This is a well
■> 142
built fort, pleasantly situated, with plains on
each side of the river, in N. Lat. 56° and
W. Lon. 119°.
About the Fort a number of Iroquois
hunters and a band of Beaver Indians, have
encamped, who have been waiting our arrival, in order to obtain the articles which
they need. At this place I expect to pass the
ensuing winter. There will, also, be here,
Messrs. D. McTavish, J. G. McTavish, J.
McGillivray, thirty two labouring men, nine
women and several children, which renders
this place very different from my solitary
abode the last winter.
Our principal food will be the flesh of the
buffaloe, moose, red deer and bear. We have
a tolerably good kitchen garden; and we are
in no fear that we shall want the means *of a
comfortable subsistence. Wehave,also, a provision for the entertainment and improvement of our minds, in a good collection of
books. The gentlemen who are to remain
with me, are enlightened, sociable and pleasant companions; and I hope, therefore, to
spend a pleasant and a profitable winter.
Friday, 14. This morning, my old friend
Mr. F. Goedike, whom I have been happy to
meet at this place, left us, with his company,
for St. Johns, which is about one hundred
and twenty miles up this river, where he is
to pass the ensuing winter.
Saturday, November 12. About a foot of
snow has fallen. HARMON'S JOURNAL.
Tuesday, December 20. During the last
night, this river froze over; and, at nine
o'clock this morning, the thermometer was
at 40 degrees below 0.
Wednesday, January 4, 1809. Sent the
express to the Lesser Slave Lake, which lies
about two hundred and fifty miles to the
south east from this, whence it will be forwarded to Fort des Prairies.
Wednesday, March 1. A band of our Indians have come in, who went a considerable
distance to the northward, the last autumn,
in search of beavers. They state, that where
they were, the snow fell to an extraordinary
depth, in consequence of which, they suffered
greatly for want of provisions. In this vicinity, the snow was, at no- time, more than
two feet and an half deep.
Monday, 20. The snow is fast dissolving.—
Mr. A. R. McLeod and company, have just
arrived from the Encampment Island; and
they bring the melancholy intelligence of the
death of Mr. Andrew McKenzie, natural son
of Sir Alexander McKenzie. He expired at
Fort Vermillion, on the 1st inst. The death
of this amiable young man, is regretted by
all who knew him.—They, also, inform us,
that several Canadians have lost their lives
by famine, in the vicinity of Great Slave
Lake. Those who survived, were under the
necessity of subsisting, several days, upon
the flesh of their dead companions. It 'is
reported, that one man killed his wife and 144
child, in order to supply himself with food,
who, afterwards, himself starved to death.
These Canadians came up into this part .of
the world, free, to hunt the beaver, &c. and
they were at too great a distance from our
establishments, to receive any aid from us,
until it was too late, for the greater part of
It is not unfrequently the case, that, the
surviving part of a band of the Natives, subsist upon the flesh of their dead companions,
when compelled to do it for want of other
food,   sufficient  to  sustain  life.   I know a
I woman who, it is said ate of no less than
I fourteen of her friends and relations, during
f one winter.   In the summer season, the Indians can find food, almost any where; but
the case is far otherwise, when the ground is
covered with snow, to the depth of several
Wednesday, 22. Sent people to look for
birch bark, to make canoes, to take out our
returns to the Rainy Lake. The greater part
of the canoes, in which we bring our merchandise into the country, will not answer
to transport our Tuts below.
Thursday, April 6. The weather is mild.
The people, whom we sent for bark, have returned, with one hundred and eighty fathoms,
which will make nine canoes, that will carry
about two tons burthen, each. Two men
will easily transport one of them on their
shoulders, across the portages. HARMON'S JOURNAL.
Tuesday, 11. Geese and bustards begin to
come from the south.
Tuesday, 18. This morning, the ice in this
river broke up.
Saturday, May 6.   The surrounding plains
are all on fire.—We have planted our pota- \
toes, and sowed most of our garden seeds.— '
Our people are preparing to set out for the
Rainy Lake.
Thursday,* 11. We, yesterday, sent off
eleven canoes, loaded with the returns of this
place and of St. John's; and, early this morning, Messrs. D. McTavish, J. G. McTavish,
F. Goedike and J. McGillivray, embarked on
board of two light canoes, bound for the
Rainy Lake and Fort William. But I am to
pass the ensuing summer, at this place.—The
last winter was, to me, the most agreeable
one that I have yet spent in this country.
The greatest harmony prevailed among us,
the days glided on smoothly, and the winter
passed, almost imperceptibly, away.
Tuesday, 16- In the morning, Messrs.
Simon Frazer and James McDougall and
company,~arrived, in four canoes. The former
gentleman came from the Rocky Mountain
Portage, which is about one hundred and
eighty miles, up this River. The later is from
New, Caledonia, on the west side of the Rocky
7 «/
Mountain, which is distant from this, about
four hundred and fifty miles. After passing
the most of the day with me, they continued their route toward the Rainy Lake.
io 146
Friday, June 2. The seeds which we sowed
in the garden, have sprung up, and grow remarkably well. The present prospect is,
that strawberries, red raspberries, shad berries, cherries, &c, will be abundant, this season.
This river since the beginning of May, has
risen twelve feet perpendicularly; and it still
continues to rise. This circumstance arises,
in part, from the large quantity of rain,
which has lately fallen, but more, I presume,
from the dissolving of the snow, on and near
the Rocky Mountain.
Tuesday, 13. An Indian has come here,
who says, that one of their chiefs has lately
died; and he requests that we furnish a chief's
clothing to be put on him, that he may be
decently interred; and, also, that we would
supply a small quantity of spirits, for his
relations and friends to drink, at his interment; all of which I have sent, for the deceased was a friendly Indian. Nothing pleases
an Indian better, than to see his deceased
relatives, handsomely attired; for he believes that they will arrive in the other world,
in the same dress^ with which they are clad,
when they are consigned to the grave.
Wednesday, July 19. A few days since,
Mr. John Stuart and company, came Tiere,
from New,Caledonia, for goods; and to day,
they set out on their return home. During
the few days which that gentleman passed
here,  I derived much satisfaction from his HARMON'S JOURNAL.
society. We rambled about the plains, conversing as we went, and now and then stopping, to eat a few berries, which are every
where to be found. He has evidently read
and reflected much. How happy should I be
to have such a companion, during the whole
summer. But such is our mode of fife in
this country, that we meet but seldom; and
the time that we remain together, is short.
We only begin to find the ties of friendship,
binding us closely together, when we are
compelled to separate, not to meet again
perhaps for years to come.
Baptiste La Fleur, my interpreter, will
accompany Mr. Stuart and his men, as far as
St. John's, in hopes of obtaining some information respecting his brother, who, it is
supposed, was killed by an Indian, the last
spring, while on his was from the Rocky
Mountain Portage to St. John's.
Wednesday, July 19. Baptiste La Fleur
has returned from St. Johns, without having
been able to obtain the least intelligence, respecting his poor brother, and the two Indians, who were coming down the river, in
the same canoe with him. We are, therefore,
apprehensive that all three of them have
been drowned, in coming down the rapids,
as their canoe was made of the bark of the
spruce fir tree, and was, therefore, very
weak. fjH
Friday, 21. We have cut down our barley; and I think it is the finest that I ever
mrQ 148
saw in any country. The soil on the points
of land, along this river is excellent.
The mother of the chief, who died this
summer, and who is far advanced in years,
now remains in a tent; at the distance of a
few rods from the fort. Many of the Natives,
of both sexes, when they become old and infirm, and unable to travel with their relations, who depend upon the chase for subsistence, and are frequently moving from
place to place, settle down near our fort;
and it is easy for us to render them more
effectual aid, than their friends could possibly afford them.
Almost every day, just as the sun is sinking below the horizon, the old lady, above
mentioned, goes to the place where her deceased son, when alive, was accustomed to
encamp, when he came to the fort, and there
weeps, and sings a mournful kind of song, of
which the following is a translation. "My
dear son, come to me! why do you leave
me, my son?" This she repeats for two
hours together, in the most plaintive and
melancholy tone imaginable.
It is customary for the women, among
the Beaver Indians, when they lose a near
relation, to cut off a joint of one of their
fingers; and, in consequence of so barbarous
a custom, we frequently see some of their
aged women, who want the first two joints
of every finger, on both hands. The men
content themselves, on such occasions,  by HARMON'S JOURNAL.
cutting off their hair, close to their heads,
and by scratching or cutting their faces and
arms, frequently in a most barbarous and
shocking manner.
The Beaver Indians are a peaceable and
quiet people, and, perhaps, the most honest
of any, on the face of the earth. Theft is
rarely committed among them; and when one
of their tribe is known to have stolen, he is
regarded witn a detestation, like that which
follows a highwayman in civilized countries.
Formerly, their clothing was made of the
skins of the buffaloe, moose, and red deer,
and their arms were bows and arrows; but
the greater part of them, are now clothed
with European goods, and are supplied with
fire arms. They have, also, iron axes and
knives, in the place of those which were made
of stone and of bone.
Friday, September 1. Fowls begin to
leave the north, to go to the southward.
Friday, October 6. As the weather begins to be cold, we have taken our vegetables out of the ground, which we find to
have been very productive.
Saturday, 7. Mr. A. R. McLeod and company, passed this place, to-day, in three
canoes, which are on their way to the Rocky
Mountain Portage, and thence to New Caledonia. This gentleman delivered me letters,
not only from different persons in this country, but also from my relatives below. To
be informed, in this way, of the health and 150
prosperity of the latter, to attend to the effusions of their hearts, and a detail of many
of the circumstances of their lives, transports
me in imagination, for a short season, into
the midst of their society, and communicates a pleasure resembling that of personal
intercourse. Excellent invention of letters !
thus to enable us to keep up a kind of conversation with beloved friends, while separated from them by thousands of miles.
Sunday, February 25, 1810. On the evening of the 15th inst. my woman was delivered of two living boys. They appear,
however, to have been prematurely born;
and, from the first, little hope was entertained that they would long survive.
One of them died on the morning of the
22d, and the other the last night; and today, they were 'both, buried in the same
coffin. He who gave them life, has taken
it away. He had an undoubted right so
to do; and though his ways are to us,
inscrutable, he has the best reasons for whatever he does. It becomes us, therefore, humbly to acquiesce in this afflictive dispensation.
Thursday, May 3. This day, the ice in the
river broke up.
Tuesday, 15. Early this morning, Mr. D.
McTavish and company, set out for Fort
William; and this afternoon, Mr. J. Clarke
and company, from St. John's, passed this,
on their way  to  the  Rainy  Lake.   But  I HARMON'S JOURNAL.
shall remain, if providence permit, at this
place, during another summer. The local
situation is pleasant; and we have good
horses, by means of which, I can, at pleasure make excursions into the surrounding
plains, over which are scattered buffaloes,
moose, red deers, antelopes, black and grey
bears, &c. I shall have no intelligent companion, with whom to converse. But this
deficiency wilFbe in a measure supplied, by
a good collection of books, with which I am
furnished. Were it not for this resource,
many a dreary day would pass over me.
Tuesday, 22. Messrs. J. Stuart, and H.
Faries and company, passed this place in
four canoes, with the returns of New Caledonia and Rocky Mountain Portage; and,
like many others, they are on their way to
the Rainy Lake.
Saturday, June 23. The last night was so
cold, that the tops of our potatoes were
frozen. This morning, as several red deer
were crossing from the opposite side of the
river, one of our people leaped into a canoe,
and pursued them, and succeeded in killing
one of them.
Thursday, September 13. Two men have
arrived from New Caledonia, who bring the
disagreeable intelligence, that salmon, this
season, do not come up the rivers of that
region, as usual. As this kind of fish forms
the principal article of food, both for the
Natives and white people, it is apprehended 152
that they will all be under the necessity of
proceeding towards the Pacific Ocean, until
they find a people who have been more
favoured by Providence.
Wednesday, October 3. We have taken
our potatoes out of the ground, and find,
that nine bushels, which we planted the 10th
of May last, have produced a little more
than one hundred and fifty bushels. The
other vegetables in our garden have yielded
an increase, much in the same proportion,
which is sufficient proof, that the soil of the
points of land, along this river, is good.
Indeed, I am of opinion, that wheat, rye,
barley, oats, pease, &c. would grow well in
the plains around us.
Saturday, October 6. Mr. John Stuart
and company, in four canoes, have arrived
from Fort Chippewyan, having on board,
goods for the establishment at the Rocky
Mountain Portage and New Caledonia. This
gentleman delivered me a packet of letters
from home, and also a number of others
from gentlemen in this country, one of which
is a joint letter, signed by three of the partners, requesting me to go and superintend
the affairs of New Caledonia; or, if I prefer
it, to accompany Mr. Stuart, as second in
command to him, until the next spring, at
which time it is presumed, that I shall have
learned sufficient of the state of things in
that country, to assume the whole management myself.   As Mr. Stuart has passed HARMON'S JOURNAL.
several years in that part of the country,
the information which his experience will
enable him to afford me, will be of great
service. I prefer, therefore, accompanying
him, to going alone, especially in view of the
late unfavourable reports from that country, in regard to the means of subsistence.
Wednesday, October 10. St. John's. On
the 7th Mr. Stuart and myself, with our
company, left* Dun vegan; and this evening,
we arrived here. The current in the river
begins to be much stronger than we found
it below Dunvegan. On both sides of the
river, are hills of a considerable height,
which are almost destitute of timber of any
kind. At different places, we saw buffaloes,
red deer, and bears. During our passage
to this place, the weather has been bad. The
snow and rain have been very unpleasant,
unprotected against them, as we are, in our
open canoes.
Thursday, 11. In the early part of the
day, our people were busily employed in preparing provisions to take with us to New
Caledonia. This afternoon, Mr. Stuart and
company embarked in three canoes, for the
Rocky Mountain Portage. Having a little
business still to transact, I shall pass the
night here.
Monday, 15. Rocky Mountain Portage
Fort. We here find nearly eight inches of
snow. Mr. Stuart and company reached here
yesterday; and I arrived this morning.   Be- gggsainn
tween this place and St. John's, the river is
very rapid, its banks are high, and the country, on both sides of it, is generally clothed
with small timber. Ever since our arrival,
we have been employed in delivering goods
for this place, and dividing the remainder
among our people, to be taken on their
backs, to the other end of the portage, which
is twelve miles over, through a rough and
hilly country. We leave our canoes and
take others, at the other end of the carrying
From the Great Slave Lake to this place,
there are few rapids, and only one fall; but
at several places, the current is very strong.
Yesterday, we came up one of these places;
and as our progress was very slow, I went
on shore alone, to walk along the beach.
Having proceeded some distance, I arrived
at a place which I could not pass, without
making a considerable turn into the woods.
I, therefore, left the side of the river, and,
after having walked a mile or two, I fell upon a well beaten footpath, which I supposed
would take me directly to the fort. After I
had followed it for several miles, I perceived
that it had been trodden by wild animals,
and was as I thought, leading me in a different direction from that which I ought to
have taken. I was unwilling to retrace my
steps; and I, therefore, proceeded in a different direction, hoping soon to come to the
river, farther up than the place where I left HARMON'S JOURNAL.
it. I marched a good pace, for a considerable time, through the snow, eight inches in
depth, until I found myself in a swampy
country, thickly wooded, when the sun was
just sinking below the horizon. Even while
the light lasted, I knew not which way to
steer; but it soon became so dark, that I
could not distinguish any object, at the
distance of more than ten yards from me.
I had no meSns of striking fire; and without this cheering element, it would have
been uncomfortable and unsafe encamping.
I must have suffered severely with the cold;
and might have been torn in pieces by wild
beasts, which are numerous in this region.
I concluded it best, therefore, to continue
walking, until the light of the morning should
enable me to find the bank of the river.
Contrary to my expectation, however, a
kind Providence directed my way, out of
that dreary swamp, where at every step, I
sunk up to my knees in snow, mud and
With great joy, about ten o'clock, I
reached the river side, which I followed down,
some distance, where I found our people,
encamped around a large and cheering fire.
During the greater part of this excursion,
the rain poured down in torrents.
Wednesday, 17. North West end of the
Rocky Mountain Portage. In the morning,
Mr. S. myself and our company, left* the
fort;   and,   this  evening,   we   reached  this 156
place, where we find some of our people,
repairing four, crazy, old canoes, in
which, I should suppose that no one
would be willing to embark, who attaches
much value to life. The remainder of our
hands are employed in transporting our
baggage, which is still behind, to this place.
They are assisted in doing this, by some of
the Natives, who are Sicannies. They have
just returned from the other side of the
Rocky Mountain, where they go to pass the
summer months. During the winter season,
they remain on this side of the Mountain,
where they find buffaloes, moose and deer.
On the other side, none of these animals,
excepting a few straggling ones, are to be
The Sicannies are a quiet, inoffensive people, whose situation exposes them to peculiar difficulties and distresses. When they
proceed to the west side of the mountain,
the Natives of that region, who are Tacullies
and Atenas, attack and kill many of them;
and when they are on this side, the Beaver
Indians and Crees, are continually making
war upon them. Being thus surrounded by
enemies, against whom they are too feeble
successfully to contend, they frequently suffer
much for want of food; for when on the
west side, they dare not, at all times, visit
those places, where fish are in plenty, and
when on the east side, they are frequently
afraid to visit those parts, where animals HARMON'S JOURNAL.
abound. They are compelled, therefore, oftentimes to subsist upon the roots, which they
find in the mountains, and which barely
enable them to sustain life; and their emaciated bodies frequently bear witness, to the
scantiness of their fare.
We here begin to see lofty mountains at a
distance. This place is in the 56° of North
Latitude, and 121° of West Longitude.
Monday, 22: It has snowed and rained,
during the whole of this day.—We are now
in the heart of the Rocky Mountain, the
lofty summits of which, on each side of the
river, tower majestically toward the heavens,
and are perpetually whitened by snows,
that are never dissolved, by solar heat.
They are by far the highest mountains that
I have ever seen. The timber, which grows
upon them, is chiefly spruce fir, birch and
poplar. It is a curious fact, in the geography of North America, that so many of
the lakes and rivers, on the west side of this
lofty range of mountains, discharge their
waters through one narrow passage, in this
great barrier, and eventually enter the North
Wednesday, 24. Although we have found
the current in this river very strong, ever since
we left the Rocky Mountain Portage, yet,
until this day, we have found no place where
we were under the necessity of unloading our
canoes, in order to stem the current. 'This
afternoon, just as we got through the moun- 158
tain, we passed Finlay's or the North Branch,
which appears to be of about the same magnitude as the South Branch, which we are
following. These two branches take their
rise in very different directions. The source
of the South Branch, is in the Rocky Mountain, at the distance of nearly two hundred
miles from the place where we now are. The
North Branch runs out of a very large lake,
called by the Natives Musk-qua Sa-ky-e-gun,
or Bears Lake. This lake, which is so large
that the Indians never attempt to cross it in
their canoes, and which, those who reside at
the east end of it, affirm, extends to the
Western Ocean, is situated nearly west from
the place where the two branches form a
junction, at the distance, as is thought of
about one hundred and fifty miles. Both
branches, before their junction, run along
the foot of the mountain, as if in search of
a passage through.
Thursday, November 1. McLeod's Lake
Fort. This place is situated in 55° North
Latitude, and 124° West Longitude. The
country lying between this place and Fin-
lay's Branch, is thickly covered with timber,
on both sides of the river; and, on the right,
in coming up, the land is low and level.
Mountains, it is true, are to be seen; but
they appear at a considerable distance. We
have not seen a large animal, nor even the
track of one, since we left the Rocky Mountain Portage.   About twenty miles from this HARMON'S JOURNAL.
place, we left Peace River, and have come up
a small river, of five or six rods in breadth,
which, a little below this, passes through a
small lake. Here, we leave our canoes, and
take our goods by land, to the establishment at Stuart's Lake, which place is situated nearly one hundred miles to the west
from this. There is a passage by water to
that lake; but it is so circuitous, that we/l
could not make it in less than twelve or
fifteen days.
McLeod's Lake may be sixty or seventy
miles in circumference. Small white fish and
trout are here taken; but those who reside
here subsist, during the greater part of the
year, on dried salmon, which are brought in
the winter, on sledges, drawn by dogs, from
Stuart's Lake.
The Indians who frequent this establishment, are Sicannies, and belong to the same
tribe with those who take their furs to the
Rocky Mountain Portage. Their dialect differs but little from that of the Beaver Indians. They appear to be in wretched circumstances, frequently suffering much for
want of food; and they are often driven to
the necessity of subsisting on roots. There
are but few large animals, in this part of the
country; and when the snow is five or six
feet deep, as is frequently the case in the
winter, few beavers can be taken, nor can
many fish be caught, in this cold season >of
the year.   Yet after all the difficulties which
these people encounter, in procuring a subsistence, such is their attachment to the
country that gave them birth, that they
would not willingly exchange it, for any
other part of the world.
Wednesday, 7. Stuart's Lake. This lake
is called by the Natives NJuck-aws-lay, and
the establishment on it, where we now" "are, is
situated in 54° 30' North Latitude, and in
125° West Longitude. On the third instant,
I left Mr. Stuart at McLeod's Lake, where he
designs to pass the winter; and, accompanied
by thirteen labouring men, I arrived at this
place, this afternoon. In coming here, I
passed over an uneven country, which is in
general thickly covered with timber. We
saw, on our way, several lakes or ponds, one
of which was about six miles long.
This fort stands in a very pleasant place,
on a rise of ground, at the east end of Stuart's Lake, which I am informed, is at least
three hundred miles in circumference. At the
distance of about two hundred rods from the
fort, a considerable river runs out of the lake,
where the Natives, who call themselves Tacul-
lies, have a village or rather a few small huts,
built of wood. At these they remain during
the season for taking and drying salmon, on
which they subsist, during the greater part of
the year.
Monday, 12. I have sent J. M. Quesnel,
accompanied by ten labouring men, with a
small assortment of goods, to Frazer's Lake, HARMON'S JOURNAL.
to reestablish the post there. That lake lies
nearly fifty miles due west from this. We
understand that the Indians, this fall, have
taken and dried a considerable quantity of
salmon, in that vicinity. I have also sent
people to the other side of this lake, hoping
they will take a few white fish, although the
season, in which we usually take them, is
nearly past. A/<r^
Wednesday, ^4. The lake, opposite to the
fort, froze over the last night. To day Mr.'
Stuart and company, arrived from McLeod's
Saturday, 17. We have now about eight
inches of snow on the ground.
Sunday, 18. Mr. Stuart and company,
have gone to Frazer's Lake. I accompanied
them to the other side of this lake, where I
saw all the Indians belonging to the village
in this vicinity. They amount to about one
hundred souls, are very poorly clothed, and,
to us, appear to be in wretched circumstances ; but they are, notwithstanding, contented and cheerful. My interpreter informs
me, that their language strongly resembles
that spoken by the Sicannies; and no doubt
they formerly constituted a part of the same
tribe, though they now differ from them, in
their manners and customs. The Sicannies
bury, while the Tacullies, burn_ their dead.
Monday, 26.   The corpse of a woman of
this place, who died on the 20th instant,' was
burned this afternoon.   While the ceremony
ii 162
was performing, the Natives made a terrible
savage noise, by howling, crying, and a kind
of singing.
Saturday, December 29. Frazer's Lake.
In coming to this place, I passed through a
country, which is very rough, and thickly
covered with timber, consisting of spruce, fir,
poplar, aspin, birch, cypress, &c. We crossed
one considerable mountain, and several small
This establishment is at the east end of
Frazer's Lake, which received its name from
that of the gentleman, who first built here,
in 1806. At the distance of about a mile
from this, there runs out of this lake, a considerable river, where the Natives have a
large village, and where they take and dry
salmon. This lake may be eighty or ninety
miles in circumference, and is well supplied
with white fish, trout, &c.
Tuesday, January 1,1811. This being the
first day of another year, our people have
passed it, according to the custom of the
Canadians, in drinking and fighting. Some
of the principal Indians of this place, desired
us to allow them to remain at the fort, that
they might see our people drink. As soon as
they began to be a little intoxicated, and to
quarrel among themselves, the Natives began
to be apprehensive, that something unpleasant might befal them, also. They, therefore
hid themselves under beds, and elsewhere,
saying, that they thought the white people HARMON'S JOURNAL.
had run mad, for they appeared not to know
what they were about. They perceived that
those who were the most beastly in the early
part of the day, became the most quiet in the
latter part, in view of which, they exclaimed,
"the senses of the white people have returned
to them again," and they appeared not a
little surprised at the change; for, it was the
first time, that they had ever seen a person
Sunday, 27. This day the Natives have
burned the corpse of one of their chiefs, who
died in the early part of this month. Shortly
after his death, one of his nieces painted her
face with vermillion; and, in other respects
arrayed herself in the gayest manner possible.
Her mother, observing this unbecoming conduct, reproved her in the following manner.
"Areyou not ashamed, my daughter," said
she, "to appear so gaily clad, so soon after
the decease of your uncle? You ought rather
to daub your face with black, and to cut
your hair short to your head." This reproach for the apparent destitution of natural affection, so afflicted the girl, that, soon
after, she went into a neighbouring wood,
and hung herself, from the limb of a tree.
Happily for her, however, some people passed
that way, before she had long been in this
situation, and took her down. She was, at
first, senseless; but soon after recovered.—
Instances of suicide, by hanging, frequently
occur, among the women of all the tribes, HARMON'S JOURNAL.
with whom T have been acquainted; but the
men are seldom known to take away their
own lives.
Wednesday, 30. Two nights since, an Indian cut a hole in a window in my room,
which is made of parchment, at the distance
of not more than two feet from the foot of
my bed,. where I lay asleep, and took from
a table, near it, several articles of clothing.
The next morning, two other Indians brought
back to me a part of the stolen property,
and informed me who the thief was, and
where he could be found. Soon after, accompanied by my interpreter, I went, and found
the young villain, in a hut under ground,
along with about twelve others, who are as
great thieves as himself. I told him, that, as
he was young, I hoped this was the firstrtime
he had ever been guilty of theft; and, provided he would return all the property which
he had taken away, I would forgive this
offence; but if he should ever in future be
guilty of any misconduct toward us, he
might depend on being severely punished. I
then returned to our house; and, shortly
after, two Indians brought me the remainder
of the property which had been stolen, and I
gave them a little ammunition, for having
made known the thief.—Nearly all the Tacullies, or Carriers as we call them, are much
addicted to pilfering; but there are few
among them who dare steal from us.
Friday, February 15.   Yesterday and to- HARMON'S JOURNAL.
day, we found the cold to be more intense,
than at any other time this season.
Monday, 18. Baptiste Bouche, my interpreter, has taken the daughter of one of the
Carrier chiefs, as a wife. She is the first
woman of that tribe, ever kept by any of the
white people.
Friday, April 5. Stuart's Lake. In the
morning, I left and abandoned the post at
Frazer's Lake, anal arrived here this evening.
Monday, 15. The weather is pleasant, and
seems to presage an early spring.—Swans
and ducks of several kinds, have passed the
winter with us; but bustards and geese, now
first begin to make their appearance.
Sunday, 21. A few days since, I sent the
greater part of my people to McLeod's Lake,
to prepare for the voyage from that place to
the Rainy Lake. Tomorrow, I shall leave
this place myself, in company with Mr.
Quesnel and others, for McLeod's Lake. I
shall take with me my little son George,
who was three years old last December,
for the purpose of sending him to my
friends in the United States, in order that
he may receive an English education. Mr.
J. M. Quesnel will have the care of him, until
he shall arrive at Montreal.
Wednesday, 24. McLeod's Lake. I find
Mr. Stuart and the men very busy, in preparing for the voyage to the Rainy Lake.—
The spring here is less advanced, by fifteen
days, than it was at Stuart's Lake.   This
*- 166
great difference of climate, I conclude, is
owing to the fact, that this place lies nearer
the mountains.
Wednesday, May 8. People have just arrived from Stuart's Lake, who inform me
that the mother ofmy^son was delivered on
the 25th ultimo, of a daughter, whom I name
Polly Harmon.
As the ice in Peace River begins to be bad,
it is expected that a few days hence the
navigation will be opened, when Messrs.
Stuart, Quesnel, and their. company, will embark, with the returns of this place, for the
Rainy Lake. Tomorrow, I design to return
to Stuart's Lake, where I expect to pass the
ensuing summer. But my attention is chiefly
taken up with the separation, which is soon
to take place between me and my beloved
son. A few months hence, he will be at a
great distance from his affectionate father;
and, it may be, I shall never more see him,
in this world. No consideration could induce
me to send him down, especially while he is
so young, excepting the thought, that he will
soon be under the fostering care of my kind
relatives, who will be able to educate him
much better than it would be possible for me
to do, in this savage country. As I do that
which I apprehend will be for the benefit of
my little son, so I earnestly pray, that God
would graciously protect him, in his absence
from me.
Sunday, 12.    Stuart's Lake.   Here, I ar- HARMON'S JOURNAL.
rived this afternoon, after having passed
four of the most disagreeable days that I
ever experienced. My spirits were dejected, in
view of the departure of my child; the snow,
which was three feet in depth, had become
softened by the late warm weather, so that
walking was attended with great fatigue; I
broke'my snow shoes, on the way, which the
Indian lad with me mended as well as our
circumstances would permit, though but
poorly; and finally we had scarcely any thing
to eat. I am happy, therefore, to find myself
at a place where I can enjoy a little repose,
after such an unpleasant jaunt.
Tuesday, 21. This afternoon, the ice in
this lake broke up. Musquetoes begin to
come about; and troublesome companions
they are in the wilderness.
Wednesday, 22.   As the frost is now out of
the ground, we have planted our potatoes,
and sowed barley, turnips, &c. which are the \
firpt that we ever sowed, on this west side of \
the mountain.—We now take trout in this \
lake, with set hooks and lines, in considerable
numbers; but they.are not of a good kind.—
It is, perhaps, a little remarkable, that pike*
or pickerel have never been found in any of i
the lakes and rivers, on the west side of the/
Rocky Mountain.
Tuesday, June 11. Three Indians have
arrived from Sy-cus, a village, lying about
one hundred and thirty miles down this river,
who say, that it is reported by others, from 168
farther down, that there is a very extraordinary and powerful being on his way here,
from the sea, who, when he arrives, will
transform me into a stone, as weU as perform many other miraculous deeds; and the
simple and credulous Natives fully believe this
Sunday, 16. A number of Indians have
arrived, in six large wooden canoes, from the
other end of this lake; and among them are
two, a father and his son, who say, that they
belong to a tribe, who call themselves Nate-
ote-tains. These are the first of that nation,
whom we have ever seen here. They state,
that their tribe is numerous, and scattered,
in villages, over a large extent of country,
lying directly west from this; and that it is
not more than five or six days' march, to
their nearest village. They, also, inform us,
that a large river passes through their country, and at no considerable distance from it,
enters the Pacific Ocean. They, likewise, say,
that a number of white people Come up that
river, in barges, every autumn, in order to
trade with the Indians, who reside along its
shores. But I could not learn from them, to
what nation those white people belong. I
imagine, however, that they are Americans,
who come round Cape Horn, to carry on,
what is called a coasting trade; for, I cannot
learn that they ever attempted to make establishments, along the sea coast.
Tuesday, July 2.  Yesterday, five Sicannies HARMON'S JOURNAL.
came here, from McLeod's Lake, who form a
small war party. Their leader, or war chief
desired me to allow them to go where they
might think proper; upon which, I inquired
of them, whither they wished to direct their
course, and what their business was. The
speaker replied, that, when they left their
lands, their intention was to go and try to
take a scalp or two from the Indians of
Frazer's Lake, "wh©," he added, "have done
us no injury. But we have lost a relation;
and we must try to revenge his death, on
some one."—This is a custom common to a
greater or less extent to all the tribes.
I asked him whether he supposed that we
supplied them with guns and ammunitions,
to enable them to destroy their fellow creatures, or to kill the beaver, &c. I added,
that should they, in the fall, bring in an hundred scalps, they could not, with them all,
procure a pint of rum, or a pipe full of tobacco ; but, if they would bring beaver skins
they would able to purchase the articles
which they would need. After reflecting for
some time on what I had said, the speaker
informed me, that they would, in compliance
with my advice, return and hunt the beaver;
and they performed their promise, by proceeding immediately to their own lands.
Monday, 29. Several days since, one of
our men, who remains at McLeod's Lake,
came here with the information, that there
were Indians lurking around that fort, wait- 170
ing, as was supposed, for a favourable opportunity to attack it. I, accordingly, went
over, hoping that I should be able to ascertain who they were; but I have not been
able to obtain the least information respecting them. Probably, they had not courage
to make the attack, and have returned to
their own lands.
Shad berries begin to ripen, which is about
twenty days later than they ripen, in the
same Latitude, on the east side of the Rocky
Friday, August 2. Our whole stock of
provisions in the fort, for ten persons, consists of five salmon, only. It is impossible,
at this season, to take fish out of this lake
or river. Unless the salmon from the sea,
soon make their appearance, our condition
will be deplorable.
Saturday, 10. Sent all our people, consisting of men, women, and children, to
gather berries at Pinchy, a village about
twelve miles distant from this, toward the
other end of this lake. At no great distance
from that village, as I am informed, there is
a small lake, out of which the Natives take
small fish, which very much resemble a salmon in shape and in flavour, which are not-
more than six inches long. They are said to
be very palatable; but, if they were not so,
they would be very acceptable to us, in our
present circumstances.
Thursday, 22.   One  of the  Natives  has HARMON'S JOURNAL
caught a salmon, which is joyful intelligence
to us all; for we hope and expect, that, in a
few days, we shall have them in abundance.
These fish visit, to a greater or less extent,
all the rivers in this region, and form the
principal dependence of' the inhabitants, as
the means of subsistence.
Monday, September 2. We now have the
common salmon in abundance. They weigh
from five to seven pounds. There are, also,
a few of a larger kind, which will weigh
sixty or seventy pounds. Both of them are
very good, when just taken out of the water.
But, when dried, as they are by the Indians
here, by the heat of the sun, or in the smoke
of a fire, they are not very palatable. When
salted, they are excellent.
As soon as the salmcn come into this lake,
they go in search of the rivers and brooks,
that fall into it; and these streams they
ascend so far as there is water to enable
them to swim; and when they can proceed
no farther up, they remain there and die.
None were ever seen to descend these streams.
They are found dead in such numbers, in
some places, as to infect the atmosphere,
with a terrible stench, for a considerable
distance round. But, even when they are in
a putrified state, the Natives frequently
gather them up and eat them, apparently,
with as great a relish, as if they were fresh.
Tuesday, 17. Between nine and ten
o'clock, this forenoon, the sun was eclipsed,
/ V ( 172
.   J*
x «
for nearly half an hour, which event alarmed
the Natives greatly; for they considered it as
foreboding some great calamity, about to
fall upon them. They therefore cried and
howled, making a savage noise. Their
priesjbs or magicians took their hands full
of swan's down, and blew it through their
hands toward the sun, imploring that great
luminary to accept of the offering, thus made
to him, to be put on the head of his sons,
when engaged in dancing, and to spare the
Indians. They suppose that the sun has
children, who, like those of the Carriers, are
fond of putting swan's down on their heads,
when they dance.—I explained to them the
cause of the darkness; at which they appeared
both pleased and astonished, and acknowledged that my account of the subject was
rational, but wondered how I could obtain
a knowledge of such hidden and mysterious
Monday, 23. Bustards and geese begin to
come from the north.
In the early part of the day, I found it
necessary to chastise the chief of this village,
with considerable severity. He is the first
Indian that I have ever struck during a residence of eleven years, in this savage country.
The following circumstances attended this
transaction. The name of the Indian, who
was chastised, was Quas. He had a friend,
who was a worthless fellow, to whom he
wished me to advance ffoods on credit, which HARMON'S JOURNAL
I declined doing for two reasons. The first
was, that I did not believe that the Indian
would ever pay me for them. The other was?
that Quas wished to make the Indians believe, that he had a great deal of influence
over us, which would be prejudicial to our
interest, if he should effect it. He tried every
method, which he could devise, to persuade
me to advance the gonads, but to no purpose;
for I perceived what was his object. He then
told me, that he saw no other difference between me and himself, but this only : 'you,'
said he, 'know how to read and write; but I
do not. Do not I manage my affairs as well,
as you do yours? You keep your fort in
order, and make your slaves,' meaning my
men, 'obey you. You send a great way off
for goods, and you are rich and want for
nothing. But do not I manage my affairs as
well as you do yours? When did you ever
hear that Quas was in danger of starving?
When it is the proper season to hunt the
beaver, I kill them; and of their flesh I make
feasts for my relations. I, often, feast all the
Indians of my village; and, sometimes, invite
people from afar off, to come and partake of
the fruits of my hunts. I know the season
when fish spawn, and, then send my women
with the nets which they have made, to take
them. I never want for any thing, and my
family is always well clothed."—In this manner, the fellow proceeded, for a considerable
time. 174
I told him that what he had said, concerning himself and his family, was true; yet,
I added, 'I am master of my own property,
and shall dispose of it as I please.' 'Well,'
said he, 'have you ever been to war?' 'No,'
replied I, 'nor do I desire to take the life of
any of my fellow creatures.' 'I have been to
war,' continued he, 'and have brought home
many of the scalps of my enemies.' I was
now strongly tempted to beat him, as his
object manifestly was, to intimidate me. But
I wished to avoid a quarrel, which might be
evil in its consequences; and especially to
evince to the Indians, who were spectators of
what passed between us, that I was disposed
to live in peace with them.—Quas proceeded
to try me another way. He asked me if I
would trust him with a small piece of cloth, to
make him a breech cloth? This I consented
to do, and went into the store, to measure it
off. He followed me together with my interpreter, and ten or twelve other Indians. I
took up a piece of cloth, and asked him, if he
would have it from that? He answered, no.
I then made a similar inquiry, respecting another piece, to which he made a similar reply.
This persuaded me, that his only object was
to provoke me to quarrel with him. I, therefore, threw down the cloth, and told him, if
he would not have that, he should have
this, (meaning a square yard stick which I
had in my hand) with which I gave him a
smart blow over the head, which cut it, con- HARMON'S JOURNAL.
siderably. I then sprang over the counter,
and pelted him, for about five minutes, during which time, he continually caUed to his
companions, all of whom had knives in their
hands, to come and take me off. But, they
replied that they could not, because there
were two other white people in the room, who
would prevent them. It was happy for us
that these Indians stood in such fear of us;
for there were only iour white men, at this
time in the fort, and they could easily have
murdered us.—As Quas and his company left
us, he told me that he would see me again
tomorrow, when the sun should be nearly in
the south, meaning between ten and twelve
Monday, October 7. The next day after I
chastised the Indian, as above described, he
sent one of his wives to request me, either to
come and see him, or to send him some
medicine. I, therefore, sent him some salve,
with which to dress the wound in his head.—
A few days after, he became so well as to be
able to hunt; and he killed and brought
home a number of beavers, with which he
yesterday made a feast. He sent an invitation to me to attend this feast; and I concluded that it would be necessary for me to
go, or he might think that I was afraid of
him. I, accordingly, put a brace of pistols in
my pocket, and hung a sword by my side,
and directed my interpreter to arm himself in
a similar manner, and to accompany me.   We 176
proceeded to the house of the chief, where we
found nearly an hundred Indians, assembled.
As soon as we arrived, he requested us to be
seated. He then rose, and stood in the middle of the circle, formed by* the guests, and
with a distinct and elevated voice, made a
long harangue, in which he did not forget to
make mention of the beating which he had
lately received from me. He said, if it had
been given to him by any person but the
Big Knife (the name which they give to me)
he would have either lost his own life, or
have taken that of the person attacking him.
But now, he said, he considered himself as
my wife; for that was the way, he said, that
he treated his women (of whom he has four)
when they behave ill. He said, that he
thanked me for what I had done, for it had
given him sense.—To this I replied, that, in
a remote country, I had left my friends and
relations, who wanted for none of the good
things of this world, and had come a great
distance, with such articles as the Indians
greatly needed, and which I would exchange
for their furs, with which I could purchase
more; and in this way, I could always supply
their necessities; that I considered the Indians as my children, and that I must chastise them when they behaved ill, because it
was for their good. 'You all know,' said I,
'that I treat good Indians well, and that I
strive to live in peace with you.'—'Yes,' replied the father-in-law to the chief, ' Big Knife HARMON'S JOURNAL.
speaks the truth. My son had no sense, and
vexed him, and therefore deserved the beating
which he has received.'—Quas then told the
Indians, that if he ever heard of any of them
laughing at him for the beating which he had
received, he would make them repent of their
After this the feast was served up in a
manner, which I shall describe in another
place.—It will be see% by this account, that
the white people have a great ascendency
over the Indians; for, I believe that this chief
is not destitute of bravery. But it is very
necessary, in order to secure ourselves from
aggression, that we manifest that we are not
afraid of them.
Saturday, 12. During the last three days,
it has snowed continually; and it has fallen
to the depth of nearly two feet.
Monday, 21. We have now in our store,
twenty five thousand salmon. Four in a day
are allowed to each man.—I have sent some
of our people to take white fish.
Thursday, 31. Two men have arrived
from McLeod's Lake, and have delivered me
several letters, one of which, from Mr. James \
McDougall, who accompanied our people from
the Rainy Lake, informs me, that the canoes
were stopped by the ice, on the 12th inst.
about three days' march below McLeod's
Lake, where they still remain, together with
the property which they had on board.
Saturday,  November 16.    Our fishermen HARMON'S JOURNAL.
have returned to the fort, and inform me
that they have taken seven thousand white
fish. These fish, which, singly, will weigh
from three to four pounds, were taken in nine
nets, of sixty fathoms each.
Sunday, 17. Clear and cold. The last
night, the lake, opposite to the fort, froze
over.—The greater part of the snow, which
fell in October, is now dissolved.
Friday, December 13. On the 20th ult. I
set off, accompanied by twenty of my people,
for the goods which were stopped by the taking of the ice in Peace River, the last October.
We aU returned this evening accompanied by
Mr. McDougall, who has come to pass the
holidays with us. Our goods were drawn oh
sledges by dogs. Each pair of dogs drew a
load of from two hundred, to two hundred
and fifty pounds, besides provisions for themselves and their driver, which would make the
whole load about three hundred pounds. I
have seen many dogs, two of which would
draw on a sledge, five hundred pounds,
twenty miles, in five hours. For a short distance, two of our stoutest dogs will draw
more than a thousand pounds weight. In
short, there is no animal, with which I am
acquainted, that would be able to render half
the service that our dogs do, in this country,
where the snow is very deep in the winter
season. They sink but little into it, in following a person on snow shoes.
Wednesday, January 1, 1812.   This being HARMON'S JOURNAL.
the first day of the year, Mr. McDougall and
I dined with all our people, in the hall.
After our repast was ended, I invited several
of the Sicanny and Carrier chiefs, and most
respectable men, to partake of the provisions
which we had left; and I was surprised to see
them behave with much decency, and even
propriety, while eating, and while drinking a
flagon or two of spirits.
After they had finished their repast, they
smoked their pipes, and conversed rationally,
on the great difference which there is, between
the manners and customs of civilized people,
and those of the savages. They readily conceded, that ours are superior to theirs.
Tuesday, 7. On the 4th inst. accompanied
by several of our people, I set off for Tachy,
a village, toward the other end of this lake.
We there saw a number of Indians, who ap^
pear to be very indolent, and who are, of
course, wretchedly clad, and not better fed.
From that place, we proceeded up a considerable river, about half a day's march, to another village, inhabited chiefly by Sicannies,
who appear to be more industrious than the
inhabitants of the former village; and, therefore, they are better clothed, and live more
comfortably. Their principal food consists
of salmon, white fish, and trout; and they,
at times, kill a beaver, or a cariboo. The
country around the lake is hilly; but, on
both sides of this river, it is level; and from
the appearance of the timber which grows 180
on it, I should  think that the soil is not
bad. !^g
Monday, 13. On the 9th inst. a Sic'anny
died at this place; and the following circumstances attended his incineration, to day.—
The corpse was placed on a pile of dry wood,
with the face upwards, which was painted
and bare. The body was covered with a
robe, made of beaver skins, and shoes were
on the feet. In short, the deceased was
clothed in the same manner as when alive,
only a little more gaily. His gun and powder
horn, together with every trinket which he
had possessed, were placed by his side. As
they were about to set fire to the wood, on
which the deceased lay, one of his brothers
V    7
asked him if he would ever come among
them again; for, they suppose that the soul
of a person, after the death of the body, can
.revisit the earth, in another body. They
l must, therefore, believe in the immortality,
though they connect with it the transmigration, of the soul.
The deceased had two wives, who were
placed, the one at the head, and the other at
the foot of the corpse; and there they lay
until the hair of their heads was nearly consumed by the flames, and they were almost
suffocated by the smoke. When almost senseless, they rolled on the ground, to a little
distance from the fire. As soon as they had
recovered a little strength, they stood up, and
began to strike the burning corpse with both HARMON'S JOURNAL.
their hands alternately; and this disgusting,
savage ceremony was continued, until the
body was nearly consumed. This operation
was interrupted by their frequent turns of
fainting, arising from the intensity of the
heat. If they did not soon recover from
these turns, and commence the operation of
striking the corpse, the men would seize them
by the little remaining hair on their ieads,
and push them into the, flames, in order to
compel them to do it. This violence was
especially used toward one of the wives of the
deceased, who had frequently run away from
him, while he was living.
When the body was nearly burned to
ashes, the wives of the deceased gathered
up these ashes, and the remaining pieces of
bones, which they put into bags. These
bags they will be compelled to carry upon
their backs, and to lay by their sides, when
they lie down at night, for about two years.
The relations of the deceased will then make
a feast, and enclose these bones and ashes
in a box, and deposit them under a shed,
erected for that purpose, in the centre of the
village. Until this time, the widows are kept
in a kind of slavery, and are required to
daub their faces over with some black substance, and to appear clothed with rags,
and frequently to go without any clothing,
excepting round their waists. But, at the
time of this feast, they are set at liberty
from these disagreeable restraints. HARMON'S JOURNAL.
Thursday, 30. On the 17th inst. accompanied by Mr. McDougall, twelve of my men
and two carriers, I set out on a journey
to the territory of the Nate-ote-tains, a tribe
of Indians, who have never had any intercourse with white people, and few of whom
have ever seen them. After travelling, with
all possible expedition, during seven days,
generally on lakes, we arrived at their first
village. The inhabitants were not a little
surprised and alarmed to see people come
among them, whose complexion was so different from their own. As their village stands
on a rise of ground, near to a large lake,
they saw us coming, when we were at a considerable distance from them; and the men,
women and children came out to meet us,
all of whom were armed, some with bows
and arrows, and others with axes and clubs.
They offered no offence; but, by many savage
gestures they manifested a determination
to defend themselves, in case they were attacked. We soon dissipated their fears, by
informing them, that we came not to make
war upon them, but to supply them with
articles which they needed, and to receive their
furs in exchange. They treated us with much
respect and with great hospitality.
The day following, we proceeded on our
route, and, during our progress, we saw four
more of their villages. At the second of these,
we found the two men who, the last summer,
visited my fort.   These people were not, there- HARMON'S JOURNAL
fore, surprised at seeing us among them;
for, I had promised these two men, that, in
the course of the winter, I would visit their
country. They gave us the same account as
they had before given at the fort, of the
white people, who come up a large river,
already mentioned. And to convince us of
the truth of the account, they showed us
guns, cloth, axes, blankets, iron pots, &c.
which they obtained from their neighbours,
the Atenas, who purchase them directly of
the white people.
The five villages which we visited, contain
about two thousand inhabitants, who are
well made and robust. They subsist principally on salmon, and other small fish. The
salmon here have small scales, while those
at Stuart's Lake, have none.—The clothing
of these people, is much like that of the Carriers. I procured from them vessels, curiously wrought, of the smaller roots of the
spruce fir, in different shapes. Some of them
are open, like a kettle, and will hold water.
They also, let me have a blanket-or rug,
which was manufactured by the Atenas, of
the wool of a kind of sheep or goat. These
animals are said to be numerous, on the
mountains, in their country.—They told us
that we had seen but a small part of the
Nate-ote-tains, who, they say, are a numerous
tribe. They speak a language peculiar to
themselves, though the greater part of them
understand that, spoken by the Carriers. HARMON'S JOURNAL.
The country, which we travelled over, in
this route, is generally level. Few mountains
are to be seen. A heavy growth of timber
evinces, that the soil is good.—We saw no
large animals, excepting the cariboo; but
we were informed, that black bears, and other
kinds of the larger animals, exist in considerable numbers, in that region.
Sunday, February 23. I have just returned
from a jaunt of eight days, to Frazer's Lake
and Stilla. The latter place lies about twenty
miles beyond the former. Wherever we went,
the Natives, as usual, appeared to be pleased
to see us, and treated us hospitably.
Monday, April 6. Six Indians have arrived
from Frazer's Lake, who delivered to me a
letter, written by Mr. David Thompson,
which is dated August 28th, 1811, at Hk-
koy-ope Falls, on the Columbia River. It informs me, that this gentleman, accompanied
by seven Canadians, descended the Columbia
River, to the place where it enters the Pacific
Ocean, where they arrived on the 16th of
July. There they found a number of people,
employed in building a fort for a company
of Americans, who denominate themselves
the Pacific Fur Company. He also writes,
that Mr. Alexander McKay and others, have
proceeded to the northward, in the vessel
that brought them there, on a coasting
trade.—Mr. Thompson, after having remained
seven days with the American people, set out
on  his return to his establishments, which HARMON'S JOURNAL.
are near the source of the Columbia River.
From one of these posts, he wrote the letter
above mentioned, and delivered it to an Indian, to bring to the next tribe, with the
direction, that they should forward it to the
next, and so on, until it should reach this
place. This circumstance accounts for the
great length of time, that it has been on the
way; for the distance that it has come, might
be travelled over, in* twenty five or thirty
Monday, Mayll. This morning I returned
from McLeod's Lake, where I have been to
send off my people, who are to go to the
Rainy Lake. While there, one of my men,
Pieere Lambert, while crossing a small lake
on a sledge, fell through the ice; and, before
his companions who were near could extricate him, he was drowned. The day following, his corpse was brought to the fort and
On my way home, the walking was exceedingly bad. The snow was three feet deep,
and the weather was so mild, that it had
become very soft. About ten miles from this
place, I left my guide, and came on forward
of him. I had not proceeded far, before I
wandered from my proper course. I might
have followed my tracks back; but this I was
unwilling to do, and I continued, therefore
to wander about during the remainder of the
day. The night came upon me, while I was
in a thick wood; and, as I had nothing to 186
eat, I could only kindle up a fire, and endeavour to solace myself, by smoking my
pipe.—I passed the greater part of the night
in melancholy reflections on the unpleasant
condition, into which I had brought myself,
by leaving my guide. Very early in the morning, I left my fire, and commenced travelling,
without knowing what direction to take.
The sun was concealed by clouds, and the
rain fell copiously. Before I had gone far, I
perceived, at no great distance from me, a
pretty high hiQ, which I at length ascended,
with much difficulty. From its summit, I was
cheered by a prospect of this lake, at a considerable distance from me. Having ascertained the course which I must take, I descended into the valley, and took the following method to keep in the direction to the
fort. I at first marked a tree; and from
that, singled out one forward of me, / to
which I proceeded; and by means of these
two fixed upon another, in a straight line
ahead; and continued the same operation,
for several hours, until, with great joy, I
reached the fort. And now, therefore, I desire
to return thanks to kind Providence, for
having once more directed my steps to my
home and my family.
Thursday, 21. The last night, an east
wind drove the ice to the other end of the
Tuesday, 23. This morning, the Natives
caught a sturgeon that would weigh about HARMON'S JOURNAL.
two hundred and fifty pounds. We frequently
see in this lake, those which are much larger,
which we cannot take, for the want of nets,
sufficiently strong to hold them.
Saturday, August 15. Salmon begin to
come up this river. As soon as one is caught
the Natives always make a feast, to express
their .joy at the arrival of these fish. The
person, who first sees a salmon in the river,
exclaims, Ta-loe nas-lay! Ta-loe nas-lay!
in English, Salmon*have arrived! Salmon
have arrived ! and the exclamation is caught
with joy, and uttered with animation, by
every person in the village.
Wednesday, September 2. Mr. McDougall
and company, who came here on the 25th
ult. set out this morning, on their return
home, to McLeod's Lake. This visit has
afforded me much satisfaction. In this lonely
part of the world, we enjoy the pleasures of
social intercourse, when we are permitted to
spend a little time with a friend, with the
highest relish.
Sunday, October 25. Early this morning,
my people returned from the Rainy Lake.
By them I have received letters from home,
which have given me more satisfaction than
I can express. My friends are in good health,
and my beloved son George has arrived
safely among them. For these blessings, I
cannot be sufficiently thankful, unless a
merciful God is graciously pleased to change
my heart of stone into a heart of flesh. 188
Friday, November 6. We have now about
six inches of snow on the ground.—On the
27th ult. I set out for McLeod's Lake, where
I arrived on the 29th. I there found Mr.
John Stuart, who, with his company, arrived
the day before, from Fort Chipewyan. His
men are on their way to the Columbia
River, down which they will proceed under
Mr. J. G. McTavish. The coming winter,
they will pass near the source of that river.
At the Pacific Ocean, it is expected 'that
they wiU meet Donald McTavish, Esq., and
company, who were to sail from England,
last October, and proceed round Cape Horn
to the mouth of Columbia River. This afternoon Mr. Stuart and myself, with our company, arrived at this place, (Stuart's Lake)
where both of us, God willing, shall pass
the ensuing winter. With us, are twenty-one
labouring men, one interpreter, and five
women, besides children.
Saturday, January 23, 1813. On the 29th
ult. Mr. Stuart and myself, with the most
of our people, went to purchase furs and
salmon, at Frazer's Lake and Stillas. The
last faU, but few salmon came up this river.
At the two places, above mentioned, we were
so successful as to be able to procure a sufficient quantity. While at Frazer's Lake
Mr. Stuart, our interpreter and myself, came
near being massacred by the Indians of that
place, on account of the interpreter's wife,
who is a native of that village.   Eighty or HARMON'S JOURNAL.
ninety of the Indians armed themselves, some
with guns, some with bows and arrows, and
others with axes and clubs, for the purpose
of attacking us. By mild measures, however,
which I have generally found to be the best,
in the management of the Indians, we succeeded in appeasing their anger, so that we
suffered no injury; and we finally separated,
to appearance, as good friends, as if nothing
unpleasant had occurred. Those who are
acquainted with the disposition of the Indians
and who are a little respected by them, may,
by humouring their feelings, generally, con-
troul them, almost as they please.
Sunday, February 21. Rocky Mountain
Portage Fort. Here I arrived this afternoon,
accompanied by five Canadians and one
Carrier. We left Stuart's Lake on the 6th
inst. and are on our way to Dunvegan, where
I am going to transact some business with
Mr. John McGillivray, who is there. As the
mountains,. on both sides of the river, for
the distance of seventy or eighty miles, are
very lofty, there is generally a strong wind
passing, either up or down the stream, which,
at this season, renders it extremely cold and
disagreeable travelling. On the 18th, we
were in the heart of those mountains; and
we had to encounter such a strong head
wind, that my upper lip became very much
frozen, without my having perceived it at
the time. It is now much swollen, and very
painful.   We all caught severe colds, in con-
I 190
sequence of a fall of snow upon us, to the
depth of eight inches, after we had encamped
and resigned ourselves to sleep, the second
night after leaving Stuart's Lake; and I have
become unable to speak, excepting in a
whisper. It requires indeed, a strong constitution, to conflict with the hardships,
incident to our mode of life.
We here find no person, excepting two Canadians. Mr. A. R. McLeod, who has charge
of this place, Is" now absent on a visit to his
hunter's tent, which is five days' march from
this. From such a distance, provisions are
obtained for this post, as there are very few
large animals at this season, in this vicinity,
in consequence, I presume, of the great depth
of snow, which always falls in places, so near
the mountain, as this. The people who are
here say, that the hunters had such difficulty
in finding animals of any kind, the last fall,
that they all passed five days, without any
kind of food.
Monday, March 1. Dun vegan. I have, at
length, reached this place, where I passed the
years 1809 and 1810, and revisiting it, many
a pleasing scene is recalled by memory, and
many hours of agreeable conversation, which
I passed, with the gentlemen who were then
here, rise fresh to my recollection.—Mr. Mc-
Gillivray is now absent, on a visit to the
Lesser Slave Lake; and Mr. Collin Campbell
has charge of the fort.
Sunday, 14.   Mr. McjGrillivray returned, on HARMON'S JOURNAL.
the 10th inst. He is an amiable and excellent
man; and I have enjoyed his society, during
my short stay here, very highly. Having
completed my business here, I shall set out
tomorrow, on my return to Stuart's Lake.
I here received the intelligence, that Niagara
and Makana had surrendered to the British
forces; but not before many valuable lives
were lost, on both sides.
Sunday, April 4. ^ Stuart's Lake. We left
Dun vegan on the 16th ult. and arrived here
this evening, without having experienced any
disaster by the way.
Saturday, May 1. Present appearances
justify the expectation, that the ice in the
river will soon break up, so that our people
will be able to commence their journey to the
Rainy Lake with our returns, all of which
we have sent to McLeod's Lake, together
with letters to people in this country, and to
our friends in the civilized part of the world.
Thursday, 13. The weather is fine. In the
early part of the day, Mr. J. Stuart, accompanied by six Canadians and two of the
Natives, embarked on board of two canoes,
taking with him a small assortment of goods,
as a kind of pocket money, and provisions
sufficient for a month and a half. They are
going to join Mr. J. G. McTavish and his
company, at some place on the Columbia
River; and to proceed with them to the
ocean. Should Mr. Stuart be so successful as
to discover a water communication, between HARMON'S JOURNAL.
this and the Columbia, we shall, for the
future, obtain our yearly supply of goods
by that route, and send our returns out that
way, to be shipped directly for China, in
vessels which the company, in that case,
design to build on the North West coast.
While the execution of this comprehensive
plan is committed to others, my more humble
employment, in which, however, I am quite
as sure of being successful, is to be, the superintendence of the affairs of New Caledonia.
No other people, perhaps, who pursue business to obtain a livelihood, have so much
leisure, as we do. Few of us are employed
more, and many of us much less, than one
fifth of our time, in transacting the business
J of the Company. The remaining four fifths
are at our own disposal. If we do not, with
such an opportunity, improve our under
standings, the fault must be our own; for
\ there are few posts, which are not tolerably
| well supplied with books. These books are
not, indeed, all of the best kind; but among
them are many which are valuable. If I were
deprived of these silent companions, many a
gloomy hour would pass over me. Even with
them, my spirit at times sinks, when I reflect
on the great length of time which has elapsed,
since I left the land of my nativity, and my
relatives and friends, to dwell in this savage
country. These gloomy moments, thank
God, occur but seldom, and soon glide away.
A little reflection reconciles me to the lot, HARMON'S JOURNAL.
which Providence has assigned me, in the
Saturday, June 12. A Sicanny has just
arrived, who states, that a little this side of
McLeod's Lake, where he was encamped with
his family, an Indian of the same tribe,
rushed out of the wood, and fired upon them,
and killed his wife. Her corpse he immediately burned upon the spot; and then, with
his son and two slaughters, he proceeded
directly to this place.—All the savages, who
have had a near relation killed, are never
quiet until they have avenged the death,
either by killing the murderer, or some person
nearly related to him. This spirit of revenge
has occasioned the death of the old woman,
above mentioned, and she undoubtedly, deserved to die; for, the last summer, she persuaded her husband to go and kill the cousin
of her murderer, and that, merely because
her own son had been drowned.—The custom,
which extensively prevails among the Indians,
of revenging the natural death of a relative,
by the commission of murder, seems to
arise from a superstitious notion entertained
by them, that death, even when it takes place
n this manner, has, in some mysterious way,
been occasioned by a fellow creature.
Sunday, 20. Yesterday, an Indian of this
village killed another, who was on a visit
from the other end of this lake, just as he
was entering his canoe to return. The former
approached the latter, and gave him five
** 194
stabs with a lance, and ripped open his
bowels, in such a shocking manner, that his
entrails immediately feU upon the ground;
and he, of course, instantly expired. The
murderer made his escape; and the chief of
the village, wrapped the corpse in a moose
skin, and sent it to his relations. Notwithstanding this conciliatory act, the people of
this place are apprehensive, that the relations
of the person murdered, will make war upon
them; and they will, therefore, set out tomorrow, to go a considerable distance down
this river, where they will pass a greater
part of the summer, until harmony is re
stored between the two villages.—This murderer has a wife, who is known to be a
worthless woman, with whom he supposed
that the person murdered had had improper
intercourse; and it was to revenge this, that
the act was committed.—All the Carriers are
extremely jealous of their wives; while, to
•oJ**&\ their unmarried  daughters, they cheerfully
allow every liberty!
Thursday, August 12. Salmon begin to
make their appearance in this river, which
is a joyful event to us; for the stock of provisions which we have in the fort, is sufficient,
but for a few days, and the Natives, for some
time past, have suffered greatly for the want
of food. We ought to be thankful to our
merciful Preserver and Benefactor, who continually watches over us, and supplies our
wants.   Often has he appeared for our relief, HARMON'S JOURNAL.
when we were in urgent need, and taught us$
that he is the proper object of our confidence.
Wednesday, September 1. A few days since,
Mr. McDougall arrived here from McLeod's
Lake, and took all the people, belonging to
this fort, with him to Pinchy, t© gather berries. Having been left entirely alone, I have
had a favourable opportunity for serious
reflection, and for self examination; and I
have been disposed to employ it for this pur^
pose. On reviewing the exercises of my heart,
and the course of my conduct, during my
past life, I have been filled with astonishment
and with grief, in view of my wide departures
from the path of duty. My sins have risen
in gloomy array before me, and I have been
led to feel, that I am, indeed, the chief of
sinners; and that, on account of my transgressions, I deserve to be banished forever
from the gracious presence of God, and to be
consigned to the world of future misery.
This view of my guilt would have been overwhelming, had not God been graciously
pleased, as I trust, to reveal the Saviour to
me, in his glorious fullness, as an all sufficient
and an accepted Mediator between sinful men
and the offended majesty of heaven. He has
appeared to me amiable in himself, and en-,
tirely suited to my necessities; and I humbly
hope "that I have committed my soul to him,
to be washed from the defilement of sin in
his blood, to be accepted of God through his
intercession, and   to   be   sanctified  by his 196
Spirit. The change in my views and feelings, is certainly great; and it is surprising
to myself. What I once considered as the
foibles and follies of my youth, now appear
to be grievous sins, against a righteous and
a long suffering God; and a religious course
of life, I regard as the path, not only of wisdom, but of happiness; and by the aid of
Divine grace, it is my resolution, for the
time to come, to labour after a compliance
with every Divine requirement.
Until this day, I have always doubted
whether such a Saviour as the scriptures describe, ever really existed, and appeared on
earth! So blind was I, that I could see no
necessity for an atoning Mediator between
God and men. Before I left the civilized part
of the world, I had frequently heard the
cavils of infidelity urged; and these cavils
followed me into the wilderness, frequently
came fresh to my recollection, and contributed to overshadow mv mind with the
gloomy doubts of infidelity. My intention,
however, was, by no means to cast off all
religion; but, I attempted to frame to myself
a religion, which would comport with my
feelings, and with my manner of life.—For
several years past, however, my mind has
not been at rest. I was taught in early life,
by parents whom I respected and love$, the
truths and duties of Christianity; and I had
a wish to believe in the same religion which
they professed, and from which, I have fre- HARMON'S JOURNAL.
quently heard them say, they derived the
most substantial consolation. I, therefore,
some time since, commenced reading the
Bible, with more attention than I had before
done; for, from my youth up, I had been
accustomed to read it. I also read all other
books that I could find, which treated of the
christian religion. Some excellent notes, respecting the Saviour, in the Universal History,
affected my mind much; as did, also, the
serious letters which I received, every year,
from my brother Stephen. I also prayed a
gracious God to enable me to believe on 1 is
Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. As I was praying to-day, on a sudden, the faith, respecting
which I was so solicitous, was, I trust, graciously granted to me. My views cof the Saviour,- underwent a total change. I was enabled, not only to believe in his existence,
but to apprehend his superlative excellency;
and now he appears to be, in truth, what
the scriptures describe him to be, the chiefest
among ten thousand, and one altogether
lovely. May the grace of God enable me to
follow his heavenly example through life,
that I may dwell with him in glory, forever!
As I seem to myself to have hitherto led
a more wicked life than the rest of my fellow
creatures, I deem it proper, for the time to
come, to devote the first day of evefy month
to religious fasting, employing it in reading
the scriptures, in devout meditation, and in
prayer, that I may keep in mind the great
L. 198
business of life, which I now consider to be,
a preparation for eternity. My prayer shall
ever be, that a gracious God would be
pleased to blot out my numberless and aggravated transgressions, for the sake of the
atonement which Jesus has made; and that
he would keep me, by his grace, without
which, I am convinced I can do nothing-
acceptable to him, in the path of holiness,
until it shaU terminate in heavenly glory.
Tuesday, 7. I have this day composed
two prayers, which I design to use regularly
and devoutly, morning and evening. It is
not only a duty, but a privilege, thus to approach the mercy seat of the great Sovereign
of the Universe, in the name of a prevalent
Intercessor, and to supplicate the numerous
blessings which we need, as well as to give
thanks for those which we are continuaUy
Saturday, 25.   An Indian has arrived, from
a considerable distance down this river, who
has delivered to me three letters from Mr. J.
Stuart.    The last of them is dated at O-ke-
na-gun Lake, which is situated at a short
idistance   from   the   Columbia   River.    Mr.
[Stuart writes, that he met with every kind-
f ness  and  assistance from the Natives, on
^nis way to that place; that, after descending
this river, during eight days, he was under
*the necessity of leaving His canoes, and of
taking his property on horses, more than
one hundred and fifty miles, to the above ill.
mentioned Lake. From that place, he states,
that they can go all the way by water, to
the Ocean, by making a few portages; and
he hopes to reach the Pacific Ocean, in twelve
or fifteen days, at farthest. They will be delayed, for a time, where they are, by the
necessary construction of canoes.
Friday, October l|| The first of my ap-
pointe ! days of religious fasting, has arrived;
and I have endeavoured to observe it, agreeably to my resolution.
Sunday, November 7. This afternoon, Mr.
Joseph La Roque and company arrived from
the Columbia River. This gentleman went,
the last summer, with Mr. J. G. McTavish
and his party, to the Pacific Ocean. On their
return, they met Mr. Stuart and his company.
Mr. La Roque, accompanied by two of Mr.
Stuart's men, set off thence, to come to this
place, by the circuitous way of Red Deer
River, Lesser Slave Lake, and Dunvegan,
from which last place, they were accompanied
by my people, who have been, this summer,
to the Rainy Lake. By them I have received
a number of letters from people in this
country, and from my friends in the United
Tuesday, December 14. On the 1st inst. I
set out for McLeod's Lake; and I there received several letters from my brothers below,
which announce the truly afflicting intelligence, that my beloved son George is no
longer  to be numbered among the living!
% 200
He was in good health on the second of
March last, and a corpse on the eighteenth
of the same month.—For some time, I could
scarcely credit this intelligence; though I had
no reason to doubt its truth. This dispensation of divine providence is so unexpected,
and so afflictive, that at first, I could scarcely bear up under it, with a becoming christian resignation. My tenderest affection was
placed upon this darling boy; and I fondly
hoped, that he would be the solace of my declining years. But how delusive was this expectation ! How frail and perishing are aU
earthly objects and enjoyments. A few days
since, in my imagination, I was often wandering with delight, to the remote land of my
kindred, and parental love centered in this
promising son, for whom, principally, I wished
to live, and for whom I would have been
willing to die. Perhaps this child occupied
a place in my heart, which my God and
Saviour only may of right occupy. I hope
that this affliction may be the means of disengaging my affections from an inordinate
attachment to earthly objects; and that it
may induce me to fix my confidence and hope
on things, which will never disappoint my expectation. The Judge of all the earth has
done right; and it becomes me to be still
and know, that he is God. I, too, must soon
die; and this dispensation is, perhaps, a seasonable warning to me, to be prepared to
meet my own dissolution.   I desire that the HARMON'S JOURNAL.
Holy Spirit may sanctify this affliction to
me, and make it subservient to this important end.
On my return from McLeod's Lake, I was
accompanied by Mr. McDougall and family,
who came to mourn with me, and the mother
of my departed son, the loss of this dear
object of our mutual affection.—Her distress,
on receiving this intelligence, was greater,
if possible, than mv^ own. I endeavoured,
by some introductory remarks, on the uncertainty of earthly things, to prepare her mind
for the disclosure, which I was about to
make. Her fears were alarmed, by these
remarks; and, probably, she discovered in
my countenance, something to confirm them.
When I informed her that our beloved son
George was dead, she looked at me, with aj
wild stare of agony, and immediately threw
herself upon the bed, where she continued,!
in a state of delirium, during the succeeding
Saturday, January 22, 1814. On the 4th
inst. Mr. McDougall and family, left this
place, to return home. They were accompanied by two men, who have gone to Peace
River, with letters.—The same day, Mr. La
Roque and myself, accompanied by fourteen
of my people, went to Frazer's Lake. On the
9th I sent him, accompanied with two Canadians and two Indians, with letters to the
people, who are on the Columbia River.
After having purchased what furs I could, HARMON'S JOURNAL.
and a sufficient quantity of salmon, I set
out on my return home, where I arrived
this evening.
Friday, February 4. This evening, Mr.
Donald McLeunen and company, arrived here
from the Columbia Department, with a packet of letters. One of these is from Mr. John
Stuart, informing me that the last autumn,
the North West Company purchased of the
Pacific Fur Company, aU the furs which they
had bought of the Natives, and all the goods
which they had on hand. The people who
were engaged in the service of that company,
are to have a passage, the next summer, to
Montreal, in the canoes of the North West
Company, unless they choose to enter into
our service.
Sunday, April 17. As the ice appears to be
out of this river, I have sent Mr. McLeunen,
accompanied by two Canadians, in a small
canoe, with letters to the gentlemen on Columbia River." I am, therefore, deprived of
an agreeable companion, who, I expected
until lately, would pass the summer with me.
—Happy are those, who have an amiable
and intelligent friend, with whom they can,
at pleasure, converse.
Friday, 22. Sent off my people to McLeod's Lake, in order that they may be in
readiness to embark for the Rainy Lake, as
soon as the navigation opens. By them I
have, as usual, forwarded my letters, and
accounts of the place.   If God permit, I shall HARMON'S JOURNAL.
pass another summer at this place, having
with me ten persons.
As this is the only season of the year when
we can leave this country, now it is, that we
have the most ardent desire of visiting the
land of our nativity. At other seasons, the
impossibility of a departure, suppresses the
rising wish to go, stern necessity binds us to
our situation, and we rest in quietude until
the return of another spring. Then all the
finer feelings of affection take possession of
our souls; and their strength seems to be
increased, by the previous restraint, which
had been laid upon them.
Saturday, May 7. The weather is fine
and vegetation is far advanced, for the season. This lake is clear of ice; and the frost
is chiefly out of the ground. Swans,
bustards, and ducks, are numerous in the
rivers and lakes; and, during the last ten
days, an incredible number of cranes have
passed this, on their way to the north; but
none of them stopped here.
Three Indians have come to this place
from Frazer's Lake, to obtain the piece of a
garment, belonging to an Indian of that
place, which they say, was cut off by an
Indian of this village. They are so superstitious as firmly to believe, that, by virtue
of this piece of garment, the Indian, who has
it in his possession, is able to destroy the life
of its owner, at pleasure.
Friday, August 5.   Salmon begin to come 204
up this river. They are generaUy to be taken,
in considerable numbers, until the latter
part of September. During about a month,
they come up in multitudes; and we can take
any number of them that we please.
Tuesday, September 20. We have had
but few salmon here, this year. It is only
in every second season, that they are very
numerous; the reason of which, I am unable
to assign.
I have sent an Indian, with letters, to
Dunvegan, on Peace River, which is distant
from this place, at least, five hundred miles.
Friday, 30. We have had but a few sal-
mon in this river, during the past season.
We hope, however, that a kind Providence
has sent them to some of our neighbouring
villages, where we shall be able to purchase
what will be necessary, in addition to the
*/    7
white fish, which we expect to take, for our
consumption, during the ensuing winter. But
let my condition be ever so deplorable, I
am resolved to place all my dependence on
that Being, who depends on no one.
Tuesday, October 18. This afternoon, I
was agreeably surprised by the arrival of
Mr. J. La Roque and company, in two
canoes, laden with goods, from Fort George,
at the mouth of the Columbia River, which
place they left, the latter part of last August. Our_vessels arrived there, in the
months of March and April; and, soon after,
one of them set sail again, loaded with furs, HARMON'S JOURNAL.
for Canton in China.—Mr. La Roque brings
the melancholy intelligence, that Messrs. D.
McTavish, Alexander Henry, and five sailors
were drowned, on the 22d of May last, in
going out in a boat, from fort George, to
the vessel called the Isaac Tod, which lay
at anchor without the bar, in going over
which, this disaster befel them. With the
former gentleman, I passed two winters at
Dunvegan, on Peace River. He stood high
in my esteem, and I considered him as one
of my best friends; and I shall ever lament
the sad catastrophe, which has thus suddenly
removed - him from my society, and from
all earthly scenes. I hope that I may not
be regardless of the admonition, addressed
to me by this providence, to be also ready
for my departure, to the world of spirits.
Monday, 24. Sent Mr. La Roque, and
the people who came up with him, to reestablish the post at Frazer's Lake.
Saturday, 29. My people have returned
from the Rainy Lake, and delivered me letters from my relatives below. They afford
me renewed proof of the uncertainty of earthly
objects and enjoyments, in the intelligence,
that a brother's wife has been cut down by
death, in the midst of her days, leaving a
disconsolate husband, and two young children, to mourn over her early departure. I
ought, however, to be thankful, that the
rest of my numerous relatives, are blessed
with health,  and  a reasonable portion of
aLiJi 206
i 0 \
earthly comforts. I have also received a
letter from Mr. John Stuart, who has arrived at McLeod's Lake, desiring me to go
and superintend the affairs at Frazer's Lake,
and to send Mr. La Roque, with several
of the people who are there, to this place,
that they may return to the Columbia department, where it is presumed they will be
more wanted, than in this quarter. Tomorrow, therefore, I shaU depart for Frazer's
Thursday,  November 3.    Frazer's Lake.
Here we arrived this afternoon, and found
Mr. La Roque and  his  people,  busily employed,  in bartering with the Natives, for
v^furs and salmon, and in constructing houses.
t^With this gentleman, I have spent a pleasant
"i evening; and I am happy to find that, from
£(f having been thoughtless and  dissolute,  he
\ now appears to be the reverse of this.   It is
J manifest, that he has recently reflected much,
on the vanity of this world, and on the importance of the concerns of eternity; and he
now   appears   determined,   by the  aids  of
God's Holy Spirit, on a thorough reformation.   May  he  be enabled  to  persevere in
this important undertaking.
Tuesday, December 20. Messrs. Stuart
and McDougall, with a number of men, have
arrived from Stuart's Lake, for the purpose
of proceeding with me to Stijla, in order to
purchase salmon. The Indians of this village have not a sufficiency for themselves and HARMON'S JOURNAL.
for us, owing to the scarcity of salmon at
several neighbouring villages, whose inhabitants flock to this place, in hopes of obtaining a subsistence, during the winter.
Saturday, January 7, 1815. On the 29th
ult. I accompanied my two friends to Stuart's
Lake, where we passed the holidays together,
in the intercourse of an intimate and endearing friendship. Each related how he had
passed his youthful days, and even in what
manner he had lived to the present hour;
and we all readily acknowledged, that our
lives had been very different from what we
then wished they had been. I hope and
believe, that we all parted, fully determined
on a thorough reformation of conduct. May
none of us fail to carry this resolution into
Friday, February 3. During the whole
of the last month, it has been the coldest
weather, by far, that I have ever experienced, in New Caledonia.
On the 11th ult. accompanied by six of
my people and two of the Natives, I set
out to visit the lands of the Nas-koo-tains,"^
which lie along Frazer's River. This river
Mr. Stuart followed some distance, when
he left this place to proceed to the Columbia
River. The above mentioned Indians never
had any intercourse with the white people,
until I went among them. We reached their
first village, on the 19th; but as they were
nearly destitute of provisions, and we had
expended those which we took with us from
this place, we passed only one night with
them. The next morning, we continued
our route down the river, every day passing
one or two small villages, until the 22d,
when we met people from the Columbia River,
with letters, &c.
Frazer's River is about fifty rods wide,
and has a pretty strong current. On the
north side, the bank is generaly high; but,
on the other, it is low, and the country is
level. In going from this, to the place where
we fell upon the river, we occupied nine days,
and the country which we passed over, is
very uneven. We, however, crossed several
ponds and small lakes, which were from
one to fifteen miles in length. At these
waters, the Natives pass the greater part of
the summer, and subsist on exceUent white
fish, trout and carp; but, towards the latter
part of August, they return to the banks
of the river, in order to take and dry salmon,
for their subsistence during the succeeding
Sunday, 12. ^As salmon are becoming
rather scarce among the Indians of this
village, they are preparing to visit the neighbouring lakes, in order to obtain a subsistence, from the fish that they hope to be
able to take out of them.
Monday, 27. The weather is serene and
cold; and thus far," this has been much the
coldest winter that I have experienced in this HARMON'S JOURNAL.
part of the country.—The winters are, generally milder here, than in most parts of
the North West. Mr. Stuart has just left
me, on his return home. The few days which
he has spent here, were passed much to our
mutual satisfaction; and I hope that we
shall reap some benefit from this visit. Religion was the principal topic, on which we
conversed, because, to both of us, it was
more interesting tjian any other. Indeed,
what ought to interest us so much, as that
which concerns our eternal welfare? I, at
times, almost envy the satisfaction of those,
who live among christian people, with whom
they can converse, at pleasure, on the great
things of religion, as it must be a source
of much satisfaction, and of great advantage,
to a pious mind.
Thursday, April 6. About ten days since,
an Indian of this place lost his wife, after
a lingering illness of several months; and,
shortly after, the disconsolate husband hung
himself from the limb of a tree. For several
days previous to the fatal act, he appeared
to be much cast down, which being observed
by his companions, they endeavoured to cheer
his spirits, by the consideration, that what
had befallen him, had been suffered by multitudes of others, and was the common lot.
He replied that he should conduct as his
own feelings dictated; and that he had not
forgotten the request of his dying companion,
which was, that he would accompany her.
14 210
Not long after, he was missing; and, search
being made for him, he was found in the
situation above mentioned. The strength
of conjugal attachment is not an unfrequent
cause of suicide, in every part of the Indian
Monday, 24. The snow is fast leaving us,
and fowls begin to come from the south.
Wednesday,   26.    I have  sent letters to
e/   7
my friends below, to Stuart's Lake, which
place they will leave, on their way, the first
of next month. I expect to pass the ensuing
summer here, having but a few people with
me. But, by dividing my time between reading, meditation and exercise, I hope that
it will pass not unpleasantly, away.
Wednesday, May 10. We have surrounded
a piece of ground with palisades, for a garden,
in which we have planted a few potatoes,
and sowed onion, carrot, beet and parsnip
seeds, and a little barley. I have, also,
planted a very little Indian corn, without
the expectation that it will come to maturity.
The nights in this region are too cool, and
the summers are too short, to admit of its
ripening. There is not a month in the whole
year, in which water does not congeal;
though the air in the day time, in the summer, is warm, and we even have a few days
of sultry weather.—The soil, in many places
in NewjCaledonia, is tolerably good.
Tuesday, May 30. I have just returned
from a visit to Mr. Stuart, who passes the HARMON'S JOURNAL.
summer at Stuart's Lake. On the mountain,
which I crossed in going there, I found snow,
two feet, at least, in depth.
Friday, June 16. Soon after the Natives
left their village, last February, to go to
the small lakes, for the purpose of taking
fish, four of their number deceased. Their
corpses were kept, by their relations, to the
present time, when they are bringing them
to the village in orSer to burn them. Little
else but the skeletons, now remain.—In the
winter season, the Carriers often keep their
dead in their huts during five or six months,
before they will allow them to be burned.
At this season, the coldness of the weather
enables them to keep the bodies, without
their becoming offensive; and they are unwilling that the lifeless remains of the objects
of their affection, should be removed forever
from their sight, until it becomes a matter
of necessity.
Sunday, 18. This afternoon eight of the
Nate-ote-tains came to pay a visit to the
Indians of this village, by whom they were,
at first, treated in a friendly manner; Soon
after their arrival, they began to play, as is
the custom of the Indians, whenever the
people of different villages meet. Things
proceeded smoothly, until the strangers
began to be winners, when disputes arose.
An open contest was prevented, by the restoration of the property won; but a coolness
between the parties, was visible.   The stran
ds* 212
gerssoon set out, to return home; but as they
were embarking in their canoes, a worthless
fellow fired upon them, and killed one of
them. This disaster caused them to hasten
their departure, uttering at the same time
the threat, that they would soon return,
with a large band of their relations, to
revenge the death of their companion.—
Human life is often sacrificed for a trifle,
among the savages; and he only may feel
secure, who is prepared to oppose strength
to aggression.
Monday, July 24. Fruits, of various
kinds, now begin to ripen. Of this delicious
food, the present prospect is, that we shall
soon have an abundance; and for this favour,
it becomes us to be grateful to the Bestower.
The person who is surrounded with the comforts of civilized life, knows not how we
prize these delicacies of the wilderness. Our
circumstances, also, teach us to enjoy and
to value the intercourse of friendship. To
be connected, and to have intercourse, with
a warm and disinterested friend, who is able,
and will be faithful, to point out our faults,
and to direct us by his good counsel, is
surely a great blessing. Such a friend, I
have, in my nearest neighbour, Mr. Stuart.
For some time past, he has frequently written to me long, entertaining and instructive
letters, which are a cordial to my spirits,
too often dejected, by the loneliness of my
situation, and more frequently, by reflections HARMON'S JOURNAL.
on my past life of folly and of sin. Mr.
James McDougall, also, another gentleman in
this department, is equally dear to me. His
distance from me, renders intercourse less
practicable; but when we meet, we endeavour
to make up in conversation, for our long
Friday, August 4. The holy scriptures
contain the most abundant instruction, in regard to the duties w&ich we owe to God, and to
our fellow creatures To aid me in keepingthese
instructions, habitually and distinctly in view,
that my life may thereby be more exemplary,
I think proper to form the following resolutions, which I hope, by the aid of the Holy
Spirit, to be enabled to observe, during my
life.        || |      i
Resolved, that the scoffs of the wicked, directed against serious religion, shall never
have any other effect upon me, than to
make me strive, the more earnestly, to lead
the life of a sincere christian.
Resolved, to be in the company of the
wicked, as little as possible; and when among
such people, to endeavour to persuade them
in such a way as may be consistent with
propriety, to forsake their evil courses.
Resolved, to assist the poor and needy,
so far as may be consistent with my means;
hoping that avarice may never prevent me
from judging correctly, in regard to this
Resolved, never to let a day pass, when. 214
at home, or when convenient, abroad, with*
out reading a portion of the holy scrij>
tures, and spending half an hour or more*
in meditating on what I have read; and that
the whole of the Sabbath, when it is not in
my power to attend publick worship, shall
be spent in prayer, reading the bible, or
sermons, or some other religious book, in
self examination, and in meditating on the
eternal world.
Resolved, to offer up daily prayers to
the throne of grace, for a right temper of
mind, that I may be constant and diligent,
in strictly observing the above resolutions.
And I pray that my humble endeavours may,
by the blessing of God, keep me in the path
of holiness, so that I may, from day to day?
become better prepared to enter the world
of bliss, whenever my Maker and Redeemer
shall see fit to terminate my mortal course-
Monday, 7. At half past seven, A. M.
we had an earthquake, which lasted about
twenty seconds. At that time I was sitting
in a chair, in the house, and the agitation
put me, and the whole house, in a motion
like that of a canoe when rolled about by
considerable swells. The Natives say, that
a similar shaking of the earth occurs, almost
yearly, at this place.
Sunday, 13. Salmon begin to come up
this river, which lights up joy in the countenances, both of ourselves and of the Natives; HARMON'S JOURNAL.
for we had all become nearly destitute of
provisions, of any kind. A kind Providence
will not allow us to suffer want, though we
so little deserve favours.
Monday, October 2. Within a few days
past, we have caught, in nets made for the
purpose, of strong twine, three sturgeon, one
of which measured ten feet and three inches
in length, and four feet and one inch round
his middle, which*might weigh about four
hundred pounds. All that we have taken,
were uncommonly fat, and of the best flavour
of any that I have ever eaten.
Friday, 13. This afternoon, the Natives
sent for me to come and see one of their
young women, who lay at the point of death,
at their village; and, merely to please them,
I went, without expecting to render her any
service, especially with the medicines which
we have here. I found her so far gone that
I thought it would not be proper to give her
any thing. I told the Indians, moreover,
that if she should die, shortly after taking
our medicines, they would say, as they ever
do in such cases, that I was the cause of
her death. They assured me however, to
the contrary; and I gave her a simple medicine, which I supposed could do her neither
good nor harm, with which they were
I understood that her relations had said,
that a certain Indian, by his magic, had caused
her illness, and that he would finally take 216
her life. I, therefore, took this opportunity
of repeating again, I what I had often told
them before, that God, the infinitely powerful being, who made every thing, had alone
the power of causing their dissolution, whenever he thought proper. Upon this, one of
the chiefs, who thought himself more knowing
than the others, observed, that it was the
God of the salmon, who remained at the
sea, who was taking the girl's life. I replied, that God is in heaven above; but
that, so searching are his eyes, he can easily
see what takes place on the face of the whole
earth. They said, it might be so; but they
could not conceive, by what means I came
to have a knowledge of these things. This,
I endeavoured to explain to them.
Wednesday, November 1. This afternoon,
three of our men arrived from the Rainy
Lake, who say that they left the remainder
of their company at McLeod's and Stuart's
Lakes. They delivered me letters from people
in this country; but none from home. By
the men in the other canoes, I hope to receive letters from my friends below. We
are happy to be informed,, that peace has
taken place between Great Britain and the
United States. My earnest desire is, that
they may long continue to enjoy this blessing.
Thursday, 16. We have now about three
inches of snow on fche ground.
Sunday, March 17, 1816. In consequence
of the late arrival, at fort Chipewyan, of HARMON'S JOURNAL.
the men who went to the Rainy Lake, two
canoes, which were expected last fall, could
not then proceed here, which is the reason why
I have but just received the letters that I then
expected, from my friends below. They bring
me the distressing intelligence, that two of
my brothers are brought, by a consumption, to the borders of the grave. Happy
should I consider myself, could I once more
see them in this world. But, if this may
not be, the will oFthe Lord be done. By
this affliction I have renewed proof, that
this world cannot be my rest; and I pray
God to prepare me, and my dying brothers,
for that happy abode, where a separation
of friends never causes the heart to bleed.
Monday, April 15. My desire to return
to my native country has never been so
intense, since I took up my abode in the
wilderness, as it is now, in consequence of
the peculiar situation of my friends; yet,
I cannot think of doing it this season, as
it is absolutely necessary that I should pass
the ensuing summer at this place.
I shall write to my friends below, a few
days hence; and as we live in a world of
disappointment and death, I am resolved
to forward to them by Mr. John Stuart,
a copy of my Journal, in order that they
may know something of the manner in which
I have been employed, both as it respects
my temporal and spiritual concerns, while
in the wilderness, if I should  never enjoy
«=■ ■■■
the inexpressible pleasure of a personal intercourse with them.
Wednesday,, 24. I have just returned
from Stuart's Lake. While there, I agreed
with Mr. George McDougall to remain in
this country two years or more, as clerk to
the North West company. He came out
the last summer from Canada, with Lord
Selkirk's party, without having obligated
himself to continue with them, for any definite time. After they arrived at Fort Vermilion on Peace River, he was treated by
his superiour, Mr. John Clarke, in so unbecoming a manner, that he left them, and had
come into this quarter to visit his brother,
Mr. James McDougall, before he should return to Canada, which he designed to do
the ensuing summer.
Saturday, July 20. Strawberries begin
to ripen, and we have the prospect of an
abundance of them, as well as of other kinds
of fruit.
I now pass a short time every day, very
pleasantly, in teaching my little daughter
Polly to read and spell words in the English language, in which she makes good
progress, though she knows not the meaning of one of them. In conversing with my
children, I use entirely the Cree, Indian language; with their mother I more frequently
employ the French. Her native tongue, however, is more familiar to her, which is the
reason why our children have been taught HARMON'S JOURNAL.
to speak that, in preference to the French
Tuesday, September 9. Salmon begin to
come up this river.
Thursday, October 3. We have taken
our vegetables out of the ground. We have
forty-one bushels of potatoes, the produce
of one bushel planted the last spring. Our
turnips, barley, &c. have produced well.
Saturday, November 23. By our people
who returned this afternoon from the Rainy
Lake, I have received letters, which announce
the afflictive intelligence, that two of my
brothers, of whose decline I had before been
informed, are gone into eternity. The happy
days that I had fondly hoped that I should
pass in their society on earth, I shall never
enjoy. Such is the uncertainty of all earthly
expectations. But the Judge of all the earth
has done right.—My departed brothers gave
evidence, to those around them, that they
died in the faith and hope and peace of
the gospel. They are gone, I trust, to a
world where sin and suffering .cannot follow
When the cold hands of death shall have
been laid upon a few more of my relatives,
there will be nothing remaining on the earth
to console me for their loss. Nothing revives
my drooping spirits in view of the departure
of my friends, one after another, from year
to year, into eternity, like the hope that,
through rich grace, I may be at length per- 220
mitted to join their society, in a world of
perfect purity and of uninterrupted and everlasting joy.
We rarely prize our blessings in a suitable
manner, until we learn their value by being
deprived of them. I feel the force of this
truth, in regard to my deceased brothers.
To one of them in a particular manner, I am
deeply indebted; and I have never been fully
sensible of his worth, until now. During
the whole period of my residence in this
country, he has written to me annually,
long, affectionate, and instructive letters.
For a number of years past, religion was the
great subject of them. He was tenderly concerned for my spiritual welfare; and doubtless learned from my letters, that I was
lingering on the gloomy confines of infidelity,
and little disposed to heed, as I ought to
have done, his friendly admonition. So
far from being discouraged by this circumstance, it only rendered him more vigorous
and persevering in his efforts; and his letters
stand chief among the means, which have
been blessed, as I would hope, to my conversion from the love and practice of sin,
to the fear and service of God. These letters
have also been of use to the few friends, to
whom I have shown them. It would have
given me great pleasure to have acknowledged, in person, the obligation which I am
under to him; but it becomes not me to
dictate to infinite wisdom. HARMON'S JOURNAL.
I have, also, received letters from gentlemen in different parts of this country, which
inform me of the many disasters that befel
the people whom Lord Selkirk sent the year
before, from Scotland, the Orkney Islands,
and Canada, some of whom were destined
to form a colony on the Red River, and
others to traffic with the Natives, in different parts of the Indian country. They
consisted at first, as I am informed, of two
or three hundred men, together with a few
women and children. Those, who went to
establish themselves on the Red River, at a
short distance from its entrance into the
great Winnipick Lake, began, soon after
their arrival, to behave in a hostile manner
toward the people of the North West Company, who have establishments in that quarter. Of some of our forts, they actually
took possession, and carried away the property which they found in them; and, in some
instances, they set fire to the forts, and
reduced them to ashes. They also took
Duncan Cameron Esq. a partner of the North
West Company, and another gentleman,
who is a clerk, whom they carried, in the
spring, to Hudson's Bay, with the intention,
as they stated, of taking them to England.—
In the course of the winter, as the Express
of the North West Company was passing
that way, destined to the Soult St. Maries,
they took possession of that also, perused
the letters and other papers which had. fee§n 222
sealed up, and finally carried them to York
Factory, at Hudson's Bay.
All this unmerited treatment, at length so
provoked the people of the North West Company, that they proceeded to retake their
own forts, which had not been burned, as
well as some property belonging to those
disturbers of the peace.
In June, a number of the Brules, that is,
people whose fathers were white men, and
whose mothers were Indian women, proceeded
from the upper part of Red River, toward
the place of its entrance into the Lake, in
order to guard some property there belonging to the N. W. Company. On their
way, they were obliged to pass, for about
two miles, over an open plain, directly behind
Lord Selkirk's establishment. As soon as
f^hey were observed, his people came out in
a body, and fired upon them, twice. This
was unexpected by the Brules; neither were
they prepared for such an encounter, as
many of them had neither gun nor ammunition. Perceiving however, that they must
defend themselves or be cut off, those who
had arms returned the fire; and the contest
continued, until twenty two of the noble
Earl's people fell, and some others were
wounded. The Brules had only one man
killed, and one wounded.—This unhappy
affair broke up the colony. Some of the
people went to Hudson's Bay; but the
greater number returned to Canada. HARMON'S JOURNAL.
Those of Lord Selkirk's people who came
to the English River and Athabasca, suffered greatly for the want of provisions.
Out of nearly one hundred who came to
Athabasca, twelve actually lost their lives
by starvation; and all the others must have
shared the same unhappy fate, had not the
people of the North West Company supplied
them with provisions. In short, Lord Selkirk lost the last year, in fight and by starvation, sixty eight of his men! and still,
with the phrenzy of a madman, he is resolved on pursuing his wild projects.
Wednesday, December 4. There is now
about a foot and an half of snow on the
I have sent fifteen men, with each a sledge
drawn by two dogs and loaded with salmon,
to McLeod's Lake, for the subsistence of
the people who are to pass the winter there
and for the additional number who will be
there in the spring, to make up the furs into
packs. Salmon are our chief subsistence
here; and they are taken only in the waters
which are discharged into the Pacific Ocean.
The outlet of McLeod's Lake enters Peace
River, whose waters, are finally discharged
into the North Sea.
Thursday, January 2, 1817. I have just
returned from a neighbouring village, where
my interpreter gave one of the natives a
decent drubbing, for having stolen from us.
Soon after, the Indian who had been beaten, HARMON'S JOURNAL.
with a number of his relations, flew to arms,
and surrounded our camp; but they proceeded at first no farther than to gesticulate
in a threatening manner. This I permitted
them, for a short time, to do, when I ordered
my men to load their guns; though I was
determined that they should not fire, unless
t/ 7
it became a matter of necessity. I then told
the Natives that we were prepared to defend
ourselves, and, if they intended to fire upon
us, to begin; or otherwise, to walk off, and
lay aside their arms, which if they would
not do, we should fire upon them. They
concluded to retire, and shortly after came
back without their arms, and began to trade,
as if nothing had happened.
Monday, February 10. This evening the
mother of my children, was delivered of a
daughter, whom I name Sally Harmon.
Wednesday, 19. I am this day thirty
nine years of age. When I reflect on the
events of my past life, and recollect, especially, in how many instances a merciful God has
snatched me from the very jaws of death,
when it would undoubtedly have delivered
me over to everlasting destruction, I am
grieved and ashamed, in view of the ingratitude with which I have requited such
infinite kindness. My past life now appears
to me to have been a continual course of
sins, committed against a merciful Creator,
Benefactor and Redeemer. I have even denied the Lord that brought me, and that HARMON'S JOURNAL.
because I could see no need of that atonement for sin, which is the only thing that
has stood between me and hopeless perdition!
If I have indeed been rescued from such a
wretched condition, if I have been effectually
convinced of my sinfulness, and have been
led, in the exercise of faith, to apply unto
the Lord Jesus Christ for pardon and for
sanctification, surely, it can be attributed to
nothing but the grace of God. Much of
my life has been spent in the service of sin;
the little that remains, ought to be sacredly
devoted to God and the Redeemer. May
the Holy Spirit enable me to live in the time
to come, as a disciple of the blessed Saviour.
Monday, September 1. Stuart's Lake.
On the 8th of May last, I left New Caledonia, and went as far as Fort Chipewyan,
on the Athabasca Lake. This afternoon,
I returned to this place. While I was at that
lake, the Indians who were encamped about
the fort, to the number of about one hundred, rose up in arms against us, on account
of a quarrel between one of their people and
one of our men. We did not, however, come
to blows; and, after a parley, the Indians
were persuaded to lay down their arms.—
Those Chipeways are a savage people; and
they have as I believe, killed more white
men, than any other tribe in the North
West country. A few years since, they burned
one of our forts, and killed every person
belonging to it.
15 226
On the 21st of June, I left Athabasca
Lake, at which period, there was still ice
floating about in it. In coming up Peace
River, we saw many of the buffaloe and red
deer, and killed as many of them as wg
wanted for our own consumption. Black
bears, also, were in plenty; and of them, we
killed eleven. One day as I was walking
along the beach alone without my gun, a
black bear, that had cubs, pursued me for
nearly a mile. Happily for me, I could outrun her; and I therefore escaped from her
terrible paws.
A little below the Rocky Mountain Portage, along the side of the river, there is a
kind of marsh where earth, of a beautiful
yeHow colour is found, which when burned,
becomes a pretty lively red. The natives use
it as paint, for which it answers tolerably
s well. We, also, use it to paint our forts and
j   houses.
Saturday, October 4. This evening, an
Indian arrived from Frazer's Lake, bringing
the disagreeable intelligence, that yesterday
in the afternoon, our fort there was con-
I sumed by fire. We have reason to be thank-
\ ful, however, that most of the property which
was in it, was saved.
Thursday, 16. We have taken our vegetables out of the ground. In consequence of the
very dry summer, they have yielded but
poorly. There were months, during which
not a drop of rain feU.—Fruit of all kinds HARMON'S JOURNAL;
has been uncommonly abundant this season;
Wednesday, February 18, 1818. I have
just returned from a jaunt of twenty three
days, to a place down Frazer's River; While
therej the Natives had concerted a plan to
massacre us all; but I discovered it, and kept
my people on their guard. The Indians, perceiving this, dared s>ot attempt to execute
their bloody and unprovoked purpose.
Saturday, May 2. Expecting that the ice
in Peace River will soon break up, I have
sent off the last of our people who are going
to the Rainy lake; and by them I have forwarded, as usual, my accounts of the place,
and letters to my friends below. I look forward, with pleasing anticipation, to the return of another spring, when I hope, if my
life is spared, I shall myself leave this country on a visit to the civilized world.
Thursday, September 3. Last night, there
fell about four inches of snow, which is earlier
than I have ever before seen it fall, in this
part of the country. On the 6th ult. salmon
began to come up this river; but they are
not very numerous.   •
In the month of June, we took out of this
lake twenty one sturgeon, that were from
eight to twelve feet in length. One of them
measured twelve feet two inches, from its extreme points, four feet eleven inches round the
middle; and would weigh from five hundred
and fifty, to six hundred pounds.   All the 228
sturgeon that we have caught, on this side of
the mountain, are far superior in flavour, to
any I ever saw in any other part of the
A few days since, we cut down and threshed
our barley. The five quarts, which I sowed
on the first of May, have yielded as many
bushels. One acre of ground, producing in
the same proportion that this has done,
would yield eighty four bushels. This is
sufficient proof that the soil, in many places
in this quarter, is favourable to agriculture.
It will probably be long, however, before it
will exhibit the fruits of cultivation. The
Indians, though they often suffer for the want
of food, are too lazy to cultivate the ground.
I have frequently tried to prevail on some of
them to hoe and prepare a piece of ground,
promising them that I would give them potatoes and turnips, with which to plant it;
but I have not succeeded. Having been from
their infancy trained up to privation, the fear
of want is a much less powerful stimulus to
excite them to industry, than it is to those
who have always been accustomed to the
comforts of civilized life.
Tuesday, October 13. We have several
inches of snow on the ground.
For several years past, Iroquois from
Canada, have been in the habit of coming
into different parts of the North West country, to hunt the beaver, &c. The Natives of
the country, consider them as intruders.   As HARMON'S JOURNAL.
they are mere rovers, they do not feel the(
same interest, as those who permanently
reside here, in keeping the stock of animals
good, and therefore they make great havock
among the game, destroying alike the animals which are young and old. A number of
Iroquois have passed several summers on
this side of the mountain, which circumstance
they knew to be displeasing to the Indians
here, who have often threatened to kill them
if they persisted in destroying the animals on
their lands. These menaces were disregarded.
A month since, an Iroquois, with his wife and
two children, were all killed, while asleep, by
two Carriers of this village, which melancholy
event, I hope, will prevent any of the Iroquois from coming into this region again.
Saturday, November 7. We have now
about a foot of snow on the ground.—Today our people returned from the Rainy
Lake, and say that, on account of the large
quantities of ice that was drifting in Peace
River, they were obliged to leave the greater
part of the goods, which they had on board
of the canoes, but a short distance this side
of the Rocky Mountain Portage. We shall
be obliged, therefore, to bring these goods on
sledges, drawn by dogs from that place,
which is distant from this, about two hundred and eighty miles.
Saturday, February 28, 1819. Mr. George
McDougall has arrived here from Frazer's
Lake, to remain, as I am going to McLeod's
■""-'■"'■'■ HARMON'S JOURNAL.
Lake, to prepare for a departure for Head
Quarters; and my intention is, during the
next summer, to visit my native land. I
design, also, to take my family with me, and
leave them there, that they may be educated
in a civilized and christian manner. The
mother of my children will accompany me;
and, if she shall be satisfied to remain in that
part of the world, I design to make her regularly my wife by a formal marriage. It will
be seen by this remark, that my intentions
have materially changed, since the time that
I at first took her to live with me; and as
my conduct in this respect is different from
that which has generally been pursued by the
gentlemen of the North West Company, it
will be proper to state some of the reasons
which have governed my decision, in regard
to this weighty affair. It has been made
with the most serious deliberation; and, I
hope, under a solemn sense of my accountability to God.
Having lived with this woman as my wife,
though we were never formally contracted to
each other, during life, and having children
by her, I consider that I am under a moral
obligation not to dissolve the connexion, if
she is willing to continue it. The union which
has been formed between us, in the providence
of God, has not only been cemented by a
long and mutual performance of kind offices,
but, also, by a more sacred consideration.
Ever since my own mind was turned effectually HARMON'S JOURNAL.
to the subject of religion, I have taken
pains to instruct her in the great doctrines
and duties of Christianity. My exertions have
not been in vain. Through the merciful
agency of the Holy Spirit, I trust that she
has become a partaker with me, in the consolations and hopes of the gospel. I consider
it to be my duty to take her to a christian
land, where she may enjoy Divine ordinances,
grow in grace, and ripen for glory.—We have
wept together over the early departure of
several children, and especially, over the
death of a beloved son. We have children
still living, who are equally dear to us both.
How could I spend my days in the civilized
world, and leave my beloved children in the
wilderness? The thought has in it the bitterness of death. How could I tear them from a
mother's love, and leave her to mourn over
their absence, to the day of her death? Possessing only the common feelings of humanity, how could I think of her, in such circumstances, without anguish? On the whole,
I consider the course which I design to pursue, as the only one which religion and humanity would justify.
Mr. McDougall informs me, that, not long
since, an Indian died at Frazer's Lake, and
left behind him a widow, who had been in
similar circumstances before, by the loss of a
former husband. A day or two before the
corpse was to be burned, she told the relations   of   her   late husband,  that  she  was HARMON'S JOURNAL.
resolved not to undergo a second slavery.
She therefore left the tent, secretly, in the
evening, and hung herself from a tree.
Among the Carriers, widows are slaves to
the relations of their deceased husbands, for
the term of two or three years from the
commencement of their widowhood, during
which, they are generally treated in a cruel
manner. Their heads are shaved, and it belongs to them to do all the drudgery, about
the tent. They are frequently beaten with a
club or an axe, or some such weapon.
Saturday, May 8. McLeod's Lake. I arrived here about two months since. Yesterday, the most of our people embarked with
the returns of this place, in three canoes; and
a few hours hence, I shall, with my family,
proceed in another, which will be pushed on
by six Canadians.
It is now eight years and an half, since I
came to the west side of the Rocky Mountain.
My life, which has often been in jeopardy, is
stiU preserved; my family have generally enjoyed, in a high degree, the comforts, which
this part of the world affords; and, especially,
they have been extensively blessed with
health of body, and contentment of mind.
Our worldly affairs have prospered, to as
great an extent as we could reasonably expect. For all these blessings, it becomes us
to return unfeigned thanks, to the great
Giver of every good gift.
Friday,   14.    Rocky   Mountain  Portage. HARMON'S JOURNAL.
All the way to this place, we have drifted
down, amidst great quantities of ice, by
which, at five different places, the river was
completely blocked up, so that we were
obliged to tarry, until the water rose so
high, as to remove these barriers. This is
the reason why we have been so long in coming to this place. Had the river been high,
and yet clear from ice, the current is so
strong, that we might have reached here in
two days.
Wednesday, August 18. Fort William. I
have at length arrived at head quarters. In
coming from New Caledonia to this place,
which is a distance of at least three thousand
miles, nothing uncommon has occurred. A
few days hence, I shall leave this place, to
proceed to Canada. As I have already described the country between this, and Montreal, I shall here conclude my Journal.  CHARACTER
Like their ancestors the French, the Canadian Voyagers possess lively and fickle dispositions; and they are rarely subject to
depression of spirits, of long continuance,
even when in circumstances the most adverse.
Although what they consider good eating
and drinking constitutes their chief good,
yet, when necessity compels them to it, they
submit to great privation and hardship, not
only without complaining, but even with
cheerfulness and gaiety. They are very talkative, and extremely thoughtless, and make
many resolutions, which are almost as soon
broken as formed. They never think of providing for future wants; and seldom lay up
any part of their earnings, to serve them in
a day of sickness, or in the decline of life.
Trifling provocations will often throw them
into a rage; but they are easily appeased
when in anger, and they never harbour a
revengeful purpose against those, by whom
they conceive that they have been injured.
They are not brave; but when they appre- CANADIAN VOYAGERS
hend little danger, they will often, as they
say, play the man. They are very deceitful,
are exceedingly smooth and polite, and are
even gross flatterers to the face of a person,
whom they will basely slander, behind his
back. They pay little regard to veracity or
to honesty. Their word is not to be trusted;
and they are much addicted to pilfering, and
will even steal articles of considerable value,
when a favourable opportunity offers. A
secret they cannot keep. They rarely feel
gratitude, though they are often generous.
They are obedient, but not faithful servants.
By flattering their vanity, of which they have
not a little, they may be persuaded to undertake the most difficult enterprises, provided
their lives are not endangered. Although
they are generaUy unable to read, yet they
acquire considerable knowledge of human
nature, and some general information, in
regard to the state of this country. As phey
leave Canada while they are young, phej
have but little knowledge of the principles of
the religion, which their Priests profess to
foUow, and before they have been long in the
Indian country, they pay little more attention to the sabbath, or the worship of God,
or any other Divine institution, than the
savages themselves. *w
As the Indians living on the west side of
the Rocky S Mountain", differ greatly in their
language, manners, customs, religion, &c.
from those on the east side, it may be proper
to give concisely a separate account of them,
and of the country which they inhabit. In
doing this, I shall dwell more particularly on
those things which are peculiar to these people, as I design, in another place, to give a
general description of the Indians, which shall
have a principal reference, however, to the
more numerous tribes on the east side of the
Mountain. I shall, I hope, be pardoned, if
some repetition shall be found, of things contained in my journal, as it cannot easily be
That part of the country, west of the
Rocky Mountain, with which I am acquainted, has, ever since the North West
Company first made an establishment there,
which was in 1806, gone by the name of
New Caledonia; and may extend from north
to south, about five hundred miles, and from
east to west, three hundred and fifty or four ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
hundred. The post at Stuart's Lake, is
nearly in the centre of it, and lies, as already
mentioned in my Journal, in 54° 30' North
Latitude, and in 125° West Longitude from
Greenwich. In this large extent of country,
there are not more than five thousand Indians, including men, women and children.
New Caledonia is considerably mountainous. Between its elevated parts, however,
there are pretty extensive valleys, along
which pass innumerable small rivers and
brooks. It contains a great number of small
lakes, and two which are considerably large.
These are Stuart's Lake, which is about three
hundred miles in circumference, and Nate-
ote-tain Lake, which is nearly twice as large.
I am of the opinion that about one sixth
part of New Caledonia, is covered with water.
There are but two large rivers. One of these
I denominate Fraser's River, which may be
sixty or seventy rods wide. It rises in the
Rocky Mountain, within a short distance of
the source of Peace River; and is the river
which Sir Alexander McKenzie followed a
considerable distance, when he went to the
Pacific Ocean, in 1793, and which he took to
be the Columbia River; but it is now known
to be several hundred miles north of that noble
stream. The other large river of New Caledonia, arises near Great Bear's Lake; and
after passing through several considerable
lakes, it enters the Pacific Ocean, several
hundred miles north of Fraser's River. 1
The mountains of New Caledonia, in point
of elevation, are not to be compared with
those which we pass through in coming up
that part of Peace River, which lies between
the Rocky Mountain portage and Finlay's
Branch. There are some, however, which are
pretty lofty; and on the summits of one in
particular, which we see from Stuart's Lake,
the snow lies during the whole of the year.
The weather is rfbt severely cold, except
for a few days in the winter, when the mercury is sometimes as low as 32° below zero,
in Faranheit's thermometer. The remainder
of the season, is much milder than it is on
the other side of the mountain, in the same
Latitude. The summer is never very warm,
in the day time; and the nights are generally
cool. In every month in the year, there are
frosts. Snow generally falls about the fifteenth of November, and is all dissolved by
about the fifteenth of May. About McLeod's
Lake the snow sometimes falls to the depth
of five feet; and I imagine that it is to be
attributed to the great depth of the snow,
that no large animals of any kind, excepting
a few solitary ones, are to be met with.
There are a few Moose; and the Natives
occasionally, kill a black bear. Cariboo are
also found, at some seasons. Some smaller
animals are found, though they are not
numerous. They consist of beavers, otters,
lynxes or cats, fishers, martins, minks, wolverines, foxes of different kinds, badgers, pole-
cats, hares and a few wolves. The fowls are
swans, bustards, geese, cranes, ducks of
several kinds, partridges, &c. All the lakes
and rivers are well furnished with excellent
fish. They are the sturgeon, white fish, trout,
sucker and many of a smaller kind. Salmon,
also, visit the streams, in very considerable
numbers, in Autumn. A small share of industry, therefore, would enable the Natives,
at all times, to provide for themselves a sufficient supply of agreeable, wholesome and
nutritious food.
The Natives of New Caledonia, we denominate Carriers; but they call themselves Ta-
cul-lies, which signifies people who go upon
water. This name originated from the fact
that they generally go from one village to
another, in canoes. They are of the middle
stature, and the men are well proportioned;
but the women are generally short and
thick, and their lower limbs are disproportionately large. Both sexes are remarkably
negligent and slovenly, in regard to their
persons; and they are filthy in their cookery.
Their dispositions are lively and quiet; and
they appear to be happy, or at least contented, in their wretched situation. They are
indolent; but apparently more from habit
than by nature; and probably this trait in
their character, originates from the circumstance, that they procure a livelihood, with
but little labour. Whenever we employ any
of them, either to work about the fort or in 1
voyaging, they are sufficiently laborious and
active; and they appear to be pleased, when
we thus furnish them with employment.
They are not in the habit of stealing articles
of great value; but they are the sliest pilferers, perhaps, upon the face of the earth.
They will not only pilfer from us, but, when
favourable opportunities offer, they are
guilty of the sameS-low vice among their
friends and relations. They are remarkably
fond of the white people. They seldom begin
a quarrel with any of us, though they are
naturally brave. When any of our people,
however, treat them ill, they defend themselves with courage, and with considerable
dexterity; and some of them will fight a
tolerable Canadian battle.
Their language is very similar to that of
the Chipewyans, and has a great affinity to
the tongues, spoken by the Beaver Indians
and the Sicannies. Between aU the different
villages of the Carriers, there prevails a difference of dialect, to such an extent, that
they often give different names to the most
common utensils. Every village has its particular name, and its inhabitants are called
after the name of the village, in the same
manner as people in the civilized world receive a name, from the city or country which
they inhabit.
Their clothing consists of a covering made
of the skins of the beaver, badger, muskrat,
cat or hare.   The last they cut into strips, ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
about one inch broad, and then weave or
lace them together, until they become of a
sufficient size to cover their bodies, and to
reach to their knees. This garment they
put over their shoulders, and tie about their
waists. Instead of the above named skins,
when they can obtain them from us, they
greatly prefer, and make use of blankets,
capots, or Canadian coats, cloth or moose
and red deer skin. They seldom use either
leggins or shoes, in the summer. At this
season the men often go naked, without any
thing to cover even that part of the body
which civilized, and the most, also of savage
people, think it necessary to conceal. Indeed
they manifest as little sense of shame in regard to this subject, as the very brute creation. The women, however, in addition to
the robe of beaver or dressed moose skins,
wear an apron, twelve or eighteen inches
broad, which reaches nearly down to their
knees. These aprons are made of a piece of
deer skin, or of salmon skins, sewed together.
Of the skin of this fish, they sometimes make
leggins, shoes, bags, &c. but they are not
durable; and therefore they prefer deer skins
and cloth, which are more pliable and soft.
The roughness of salmon skins, renders them
particularly unpleasant for aprons.
A few of the male Carriers recently make
use of the breech-cloth, made of cloth which
they procure from us; but as evidence that
no great sense of delicacy has induced them ill
to wear it, you will see it one day at its
proper place, the next, probably, about their
heads, and the third around their necks; and
so on, repeatedly shifted from one place to
Both sexes perforate their noses; and from
them, the men often suspend an ornament,
consisting of a piece of an oyster shell, or a
small piece of brass or copper. The »women,
particularly those who are young, run a
wooden pin through their noses, upon each
end of which they fix a kind of shell bead,
which is about an inch and an half long, and
nearly the size of the stem of a common clay
pipe. These beads, they obtain from their
neighbours, the At-e-nas, who purchase them
from another tribe, that is said to take them
on the sea shore, where they are reported to
be found in plenty.
All the Indians in this part of the country, are remarkably fond of these beads; and
in their dealings with each other, they constitute a kind of circulating medium, like the
money of civilized countries. Twenty of these
beads, they consider as equal in value to a
beaver's skin. The elderly people neglect to
ornament their heads, in the same manner as
they do the rest of their persons, and generally wear their hair short. But the younger
people of both sexes, who feel more solicitous
to make themselves agreeable to each other,
wash and paint their faces, and let their hair
grow long.   The paint which they make use 246        ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
of, consists of vermilion, which they occasion*
aUy obtain from us; or more commonly, of a
red stone, pounded fine, of which there are
two kinds.   The powder of one kind of these
stones, mixed with grease, and rubbed upon
their faces, gives them a glittering appearance.
♦The young women and girls wear a parcel
of European beads, strung together, and tied
to a lock of hair, directly behind each ear.
The men have a sort of collar of the shell
beads already mentioned, which they wind
about  their  heads, or throw around their
necks.   In the summer  season,  both  sexes
bathe often; and this is the only time, when
the married people wash themselves.   One of
their customs is sufficient to evince their extreme filthiness, and that is, whenever they
blow their noses, they rub the mucus between
both hands, until they become dry.
Among the Carriers, it is customary for
the girls,  from the age of eight to eleven
years, to wear a kind of veil or fringe over
their eyes, made either of strung beads, or of
narrow strips of deer skin, garnished with
porcupine quills.   While of this age, they are
not aUowed to eat any thing, excepting the
driest food; and especially they may not eat
the head of any animal.   If they should, their
relat'ons, as they imagine, would soon languish and die.   The women, also, during their
pregnancy, and for some time after they are
delivered, are restricted to the same kind of
food. w
The lads, as soon as they come to the age
of puberty, tie cords, wound with swan's
down, around each leg, a little below the
knee, which they wear during one year, and
then, they are considered as men.
The Carriers are unusually talkative; and
when fifteen or twenty of them get into a
house, they make an intolerable noise. Men,
women and children keep their tongues constantly in motion; and in controversy, he
who has the strongest and clearest voice is
of course heard the most easily, and, consequently, succeeds best in his argument. They
take great delight, also, in singing, or humming, or whistling a dull air. In short,
whether at home or abroad, they can hardly
be contented with their mouths shut. It was
a long time before we could keep them still,
when they came to our forts. And even yetj
when they visit us, which is almost every
day, during the whole year, they will often,
inadvertently, break out into a song. But
as soon as we check them, or they recollect
of themselves what they are about, they stop
short; for they are desirous of pleasing.
The above trait in their character, certainly
evinces much contentment with their condition, and cheerfulness of spirit.
Both sexes, of almost every age, are much
addicted to play, or rather gambling. They
pass the greater part of their time, especially
in the winter season, and both days and
nights, in some kind of game; and the men 248
will often loose the last rag of clothes, which
they have about them. But so far from
being dejected by such ill fortune, they often
appear to be proud of having lost their all;
and will even boastingly say, that they are
as naked as a dog, having not a rag with
which to cover themselves. Should they, in
such circumstances, meet with a friend, who
should lend them something to wrap around
their bodies, it is highly probable, that they
would immediately go and play away the
borrowed garment. Or, if the borrower belonged to another village, he would be likely
to run off with it, and the owner would
never hear of him afterward; for I never
knew a Carrier to be grateful for a favour bestowed upon him. At play, they often loose
a part of a garment, as the sleeves of a coat,
which some of them now purchase from us,
a whole, or the half of a leggin, which they
will tear off, and deliver to the winner. They
have been known to cut off a foot or more
of their guns, when lost at play; for, like
more gentlemanly gamblers, they consider
such debts, as debts of honour.
The Carriers are not so ingenious as their
neighbours, the Nate-ote-tains and At-e-nas.
The men, however, make canoes, which are
clumsily wrought, of the aspin tree, as well as
of the bark of the spruce fir. The former,
will carry from half a ton to a ton and a
half burthen, while the latter, will carry
from one to four grown persons.   The women ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
make excellent nets, of the inner bark of the
willow tree, and of nettles, which answer
better for taking small fish, than any which
we obtain from Canada, made of twine or
The Carriers, in common with the other
Indian tribes, before their country was visited
by white people, made use of stones, Instead
of axes, and of bones^for knives; and with
these, they constructed wooden dishes, and
other vessels of the rind of the birch and
pine trees, &c. Some of these vessels were
used to cook their victuals in, and many of
these people still make use of them; for they
are too poor to purchase brass or copper
kettles from us. They have, also, other vessels, which are manufactured of the small
roots or fibers of the cedar or pine tree,
closely laced together, which serve them as
buckets to put water in. I have seen one at
Fraser's Lake, made of the same materials,
that would hold sixty or seventy gallons,
which they make use of when a feast is given
to all the people of the village. All the vessels fabricated of roots, as well as the most
of their bows and arrows, they obtain from
their neighbours, above mentioned.
The Carriers are remarkably fond of their
wives, and a few of them have three or four;
but polygamy is not general among them.
The men do the most of the drudgery about
the house, such as cutting and drawing fire
wood,   and  bringing water.    In the winter ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
months, they drink but little water; but to
quench their thirst, they eat half melted
snow, which they generally keep on the top
of a stick, stuck into the ground, before the
As the Carriers are fond of their wives,
they are, as naturally might be supposed,
very jealous of them; but to their daughters,
they allow every liberty, for the purpose, as
they say, of keeping the young men from
intercourse with the married women. As the
young women may thus bestow their favours
on whom, and as often as they please, without the least censure from their parents, or
reproach to their character, it might naturally be expected that they would be, as
I am informed they actually are, very free
with their persons.—In the following particular, the Carriers differ from all the other
Indian tribes, with whom I have been acquainted. Among other tribes, the father
or mother in law, will never, excepting when
drunk, speak to a son or daughter in law;
but the Carriers make no distinction, in this
The Carriers reside a part of the year in
villages, built at convenient places for taking
and drying salmon, as they come up the
rivers. These fish they take in abundance,
with little labour; and they constitute their
principal food, during the whole year. They
are not very palatable when eaten alone;
but with vegetables, they are pleasant food. ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
The Natives, however, are too slothful to
raise vegetables, and use none, excepting a
few which they obtain from us.
Toward the middle of April, and sometimes sooner, they leave their villages, to go
and pass about two months at the small
lakes, from which, at that season, they take
white fish, trout, carp, &c. in considerable
numbers. But when these begin to fail, they
return to their villages, and subsist on the
small fish, which they dried when at the lakes,
or on salmon, should they have been so
provident as to have kept any until that
late season; or they eat herbs, the inner
bark or sap of the cypress tree, berries, &c.
At this season, few fish of any kind, are to be
taken out of the lakes or rivers of New Caledonia. In this manner the Natives barely
subsist, until about the middle of August,
when salmon again begin to make their appearance, in all the rivers of any considerable magnitude; and they have them at most
of their villages in plenty, until the latter end
of September, or the beginning of October.
For about a month, they come up in crowds;
and the noses of some of them are either
worn or rotten off, and the eyes of others
have perished in their heads; and yet, in this
maimed condition, they are surprisingly alert,
in coming up the rapids. These maimed
fishes are generally at the head of large
bands, on account of which, the Natives
call them Mi-u-ties, or Chiefs.   The Indians 252
say that they have suffered these disasterSj
by falling back among the stones, when coming up difficult places in the rapids which
they pass.
The Carriers take salmon in the following
manner. AU the Indians of the village assist
in making a dam across the river, in which
they occasionally leave places, to insert their
baskets or nets of wicker work. These baskets are generally from fifteen to eighteen feet
in length, ^and from twelve to fifteen feet in
circumference. The end at which the salmon
enter, is made with twigs, in the form of the
entrance of a wire mouse trap. When four
or five hundred salmon have entered this
basket, they either take it to the shore to
empty out the fish; or they take them out
at a door in the top, and transport them to the
shore in their large wooden canoes, which are
convenient for this purpose. When the salmon
are thrown upon the beach, the women take
out their entrails, and hang them by their
tails on poles, in the open air. After remaining in this situation for a day or two, they
take them down and cut them thinner, and
then leave them to hang for about a month
in the open air, when they wiU have become
entirely dry. They are then put into their
store houses, which are built on four posts,
about ten feet from the ground, to prevent
animals from destroying them; and provided they are preserved dry, they will remain good for several years. 1
The Carriers take beavers in nets, made
of thongs of cariboo skins, or in baskets
made of young cypress stadles; and sometimes they shoot them with bows and arrows,
or guns, or take them in steel traps, which
we sell to them, and of which they begin to
understand the value. Cats, martins, fishers,
foxes, minks, &c. they take in a kind of
spring trap, which consists of a large piece
of wood, which thesfc animals, by nibbling
at the bait, cause to fall upon and crush
them. Bears, swans and hares they generally take in snares, and the cat, also, they
sometimes take in this manner. They hunt
the beaver and bear, more for the sake of
their flesh, than to obtain the skins; for
it is with the meat of these animals that
they make their feasts, in remembrance of
their deceased relatives.
At such festivals, they cut up as many
dressed moose and red deer skins as they
can well procure, into slips, about eighteen
inches long, and twelve inches broad, and
distribute them among their friends and
relatives. And they firmly believe, that
these ceremonies must be performed, before
their departed relative can be at rest, in the
place whither he has gone, which they think
to be the interiour of the earth, where they
expect that they shall all at length be
The Carriers have little that can be denominated civil government,  in  the regulation ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
of their concerns. There are some persons
among them, who are called Mi*u-ties or
Chiefs, and for whom they appear to have
a little more respect than for the others;
but these chiefs have not much authority or
influence over the rest of the community.
Any one is dubbed a Mi-u-ty, who is able and
willing, occasionally, to provide a feast, for
the people of his village. An Indian, however, who has killed another, or been guilty
of some other bad action, finds the house or
tent of the chief a safe retreat, so long as he
is allowed to remain there. But as soon as
he leaves it, the Chief can afford the criminal
no more protection, than any other person of
the village can, unless he lets him have one
of his garments. This garment of the Chief,
will protect a malefactor from harm, while
he wears it; for no person would attack
him, while clothed with this safe guard,
sooner than he would attack the chief himself ; and if he should, the chief would revenge
the insult, in the same manner as if it were
offered directly to himself. The revenge which
the Chief, in this case, would take, would be
to destroy the life of the offending person,
or that of some of his near relations, or the
life of one of the same tribe, if he should
happen to be a stranger.
When two or more persons disagree at
play, as is frequently the case, or contend
on any other account, the chief, or some
respectable   and elderly man,  will step in ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
between the two wranglers, - and settle the
dispute, generally without their coming to
The people of every village have a certain
extent of country, which they consider their
own, and in which they may hunt and fish;
but they may not transcend these bounds,
without purchasing the privilege of those
who claim the land?" Mountains and rivers
serve them as boundaries, and they are not
often broken over.
The people of one village do not often visit
those of another, as there are generally misunderstandings existing between them, which
are occasioned by murders, and at times
by the hunting of the people of one village,
in a clandestine manner, on the territories
of their neighbours. By one cause or another,
they are kept in a perpetual broil. They
say however, that murders do not occur so
frequently among them as they did before
they were visited by the white people.
The Carriers are the most ignorant people
among whom I have ever been. They appear
to have only a very confused and limited
idea of the existence of a Supreme Being,
the maker and governour of the world, or
of the devil or any evil spirit; and they,
therefore, neither worship the former nor fear
the latter. But they believe, as it has been
already observed, in the immortality of the
soul, and think when it leaves its present
body, it goes into the bowels of the earth, n
where, they suppose it will be more happy
than when an inhabitant of its surface. But
they seem to have no idea of future rewards
or punishments, in consequence of any thing
which they may have done, while resident
on earth. And whether the soul will be furnished with another body, when it leaves
that which it animated on earth, they say
they cannot tell, it being, as they add, beyond their comprehension. They firmly believe, however, that a departed soul can, if it
pleases, come back to the earth, in a human
shape or body, in order to see his friends,
who are still alive. Therefore, as they
are about to set fire to the pile of wood,
on which a corpse is laid, a relation of the
deceased person stands at his feet, and asks
him if he will ever come back among them.
Then the priest or magician, with a grave
countenance, stands at the head of the corpse,
and looks through both his hands on its
naked breast, and then raises them toward
heaven, and blows through them, as they
say, the soul of the deceased, that it may
go and find, and enter into a relative. Or,
if any relative is present, the priest wiQ hold
his hands on the head of this person, and
blow through them, that the spirit of the
deceased may enter into him or her; and
then, as they affirm, the first child which
this person has, will possess the soul of the
deceased person.
When the Carriers are severely sick, they ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
often think that they shall not recover, unless they divulge to a priest or magician,
every crime which they may have committed,
which has hitherto been kept secret. In such
a case, they will make a full confession, and
then they expect that their lives will be
spared, for a time longer. But should they
keep back a single crime, they as fully believe
that they shall suffer almost instant death.
The crimes which they most frequently confess, discover something of their moral character, and therefore deserve to be mentioned.
A man will often acknowledge that he has
had a criminal and incestuous connexion with
his own daughter or sister, or a criminal intercourse with a bitch! and a woman will confess, that she has had the same infamous connexion with her own relations, or with a dog!
Murder is not considered by the Carriers
as a crime of great magnitude; and, therefore, it makes no part of their acknowledgments, in their confessions to the priests or
jiagicians. If a murder be committed on a
jerson belonging to a tribe with whom they
are at enmity, they regard it as a brave and
noble action. Should one Indian kill another,
belonging to the same village with himself,
the murderer is considered as a person void
of sense; and he must quit his village and
remain away, until he can pay the relations
of the deceased for the murder; and even
after this has been done, it often occasions
quarrels, between the parties.
17 258
The Carriers are so very credulous, and
have so exalted an opinion of us, that they
firmly believe, though I have often assured
them of the contrary, that any of the
Traders or Chiefs, as they call us, can, at
pleasure, make it fair or foul weather. And
even yet when they are preparing to set out
on an excursion, they will come and offer to
pay us, provided we will make or allow it
to be fair weather, during their absence
from their homes. They often inquire of us
Whether salmon, that year, will be in plenty
in their rivers. They also think, that by
merely looking into our books, we can cause
a sick person to recover, let the distance
which he may be from us be ever so great.
In short, they look upon those who can
read and write, as a kind of supernatural
beings, who know all that is past, and who
can see into futurity.
For a considerable time after we had been
among them, they were fully of the opinion,
that the white people had neither fathers nor
mothers; but came into the world in a supernatural way, or were placed on the earth
by the sun or moon.
As a further specimen of their limited
conceptions, they now firmly believe that a
watch is the heart of the sun, because it is
ever in motion, as they say, like that great
body of light. They add further, that unless
a watch and the sun were nearly related, it
would be impossible for the watch, consider- ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
ing the distance which there is between them,
to point but so precisely the minute when
the sun is to make its appearance and to
leave us< In short, they say that the one
must know perfectly well what the other is
about, and that there must be the same connexion between them, as between the members of the human body.
The Carriers give the following account
of a tradition, which fney believe, respecting
the formation of the earth, and the general
destruction of mankind, in an early period
of the world. Water at first overspread the
face of the world, which is a plain surface*
At the top of the water, a muskrat was
swimming about, in different directions. At
length he concluded to dive to the bottom, to
see what he could find, on which to subsist;
but he found nothing but mud, a little of
which he brought in his mouth, and placed
it on the surface of the water, where it remained. He then went for more mud, and
placed it with that already brought up; and
thus he continued his operations, until he
had formed a considerable hillock. This
land increased by degrees, until it overspread
a large part of the world, which assumed
at length its present form. The earth, in
process of time, became peopled in every
part, and remained in this condition for
many years. Afterwards a fire run over it all,
and destroyed every human being, excepting
one man and one woman.   They saved them- 260
selves by going into a deep cave, in a large
mountain, where they remained for several
days, until the fire was extinguished. They
then came forth from their hiding place; and
from these two persons, the whole earth has
been peopled.
Besides the feasts, made for their dead,
which have been described in my Journal,
the Carriers give others, merely to entertain their guests, who are frequently all the
people of a village, as well as a few who
belong to a neighbouring village. The following ceremonies attend such festivals. The
person who makes the entertainment, who is
always a Chief, boils or roasts several whole
beavers; and as soon as his guests are seated
around a fire, which is in the centre of his
house, he takes up a whole beaver, and with
a raised voice, relates how and where he
killed it, that all present may know that it
came from his own land. After that necessary explanation is over, he steps forward,
and presents the tail end to t>he most respectable person of the house, and stands
holding the animal with both hands until
this person has eaten what he chooses. The
chief then passes on with his beaver to the
second person, who eats as the first had
done; and then to a third; and so on, until
he has presented it to the whole circle. Should
any part now remain, it is laid down near
the centre of the house; and another whole
beaver is taken up, which is served round ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
in the same manner as the first. And thus
the chief continues to do, until his guests
have tasted of every beaver, which he had
prepared for the feast. The remaining fragments of the beavers, are now cut up into
smaller pieces, and distributed among the
women and children, or put into dishes,
which the men have before them, and which
they always bring w&h them, when they
attend upon a feast. The women then come
in with large dishes full of berries, and each
puts a ladle full into every dish of the men.
When they have eaten what they choose of
the berries, (for the Indians never urge their
guests to eat more than they please) both
men and women join, in singing several
songs. The airs of many of these songs,
which have been composed and set to musick,
by their poets, expressly for the occasion,
greatly resemble those which I have heard
sung, in Roman Catholic churches. After
singing is concluded, each guest rises, with
his dish and whatever it contains, and returns
to his own dwelling, and thus the festival
ends. At these feasts, there are frequently
Indians, who will drink at least a quart of
melted bear's oil, merely to show how much
they can drink.
At some of their festivals, the men and
women join in a dance. Their musick on
these occasions, consists of the singing of
one person or more, accompanied by the
shaking of the she-she-qui, which is, ordinari- ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
ly, a covered dish, with a handle; but sometimes it is curiously made in the form of a
bird, and within it, are either gravel stones
or shot. Others beat on a drum, with but
one head; and these are all the musical instruments, if they can with propriety be so*
denominated, which I have ever seen among
them. When they dance, they paint their
faces, and put swan's down on their heads,
and while they are dancing, others are almost continually blowing more through both
their hands, on the dancers. They have
not many different kinds of dancing; but
they have a great variety of songs, the airs
of which are pleasant to the ear when heard
at some distance from the singers, who generally have strong voices. All Indians have
accurate ears; and, therefore, they keep exact
time when they dance or sing.
The Carriers are almost entirely ignorant
of medicine, not having any knowledge of
the virtue which is found in roots and herbs,
when administered to the sick. When one of
them is sick, they call in the priest or doctor,
for the same person discharges the functions
of both; and he is joined by several other
persons in singing a very melancholy air,
over the sick person, which they think serves
greatly to mitigate his pain, and often restores him to perfect health. Before the
doctor will afford his assistance, in doing
which he makes many jestures, and goes
through much ceremony, he must receive a' ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
present. But should his patient die under
his care, he must restore to the relations of
the deceased, the present which he had received. The Carriers are the only Indians
with whom I have been acquainted, who
make no use of roots and herbs, and the
bark of certain trees, with the sick. They,
however, place great confidence in our medicines.
During the winter i$onths many of the
Carriers make their dwellings in the earth,
in the following manner. They dig a hole
in the ground to the depth of about two
feet, from the opposite sides of which, they
erect two considerable sticks, to support
a ridge-pole. They then lay poles from the
margin of the hole to the ridge-pole, until
they have completely enclosed the dwelling,
excepting a hole which is left near tne top,
which serves the double purpose of a door
by which they enter, and leave the hut, upon
an upright post, in which, notches are cut;
and an opening for the smoke to pass off.
The poles are made tight, by stopping the
interstices with hay, or by covering them
with bark; and dirt is then thrown over
them, to a considerable thickness. These
huts are far from being healthy; but they
are commodious for people who are clad as
poorly, as are most of the Carriers.
The Indians on the west side of the Rocky
Mountain, erect buildings, in which they
deposit the ashes and bones of their dead. 264
The side posts of these structures, are about
six feet high; a roof, covered with bark, is
erected upon these posts, in the form of the
roofs of houses in the civilized part of the
world; and around their sides, are broad
boards, made by splitting trees, which they
hew, and then smooth over with a crooked
knife. On these boards, which are about an
inch thick, they paint images to represent
the sun, moon, stars and different kinds of
animals. Within these buildings, the remains
of the dead are contained in boxes, of different dimensions, which in some instances,
stand on the top of one upright post, and
in other cases, are supported by four. The
paints which they use, in describing the
figures on these buildings, consist of black
and red stones, which they grind fine, and
of a yellow and a red earth. These substances, they mix with glue, which they
obtain by boiling the feet of the buffaloe,
or from the inside of sturgeon, where these
fish are in plenty. They put on their paints
with a brush, made of the hair which they
take from the leg of the moose.
Among the Carriers, there are some conjurors, who whenever they please, will vomit
blood, or swallow a small toad, alive. By
doing the latter, however, they are made
sick, for three or four days; and yet they
are ever ready to do it, for a mere trifling
Among   the   Indians   who   inhabit   New ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
Caledonia, the Sicannies deserve to be mentioned. They are a small part of a tribe
who, but a few years since, came from the
east side of the Rocky Mountain. They now
bring the produce of their hunts to McLeod's
Lake. The winter months, however, a greater
part of them pass among their relations,
on the east side of the Mountain, where
they subsist on buffaloe, moose and red
deer. Notwithstanding they are tolerable
hunters, they would not be able to kill a
sufficiency of beavers to serve themselves
and families, during the winter, where the
snow is so deep, as it generally is in New
The people who are now called Si-can-nies,
I suspect, at no% distant period, belonged
to the tribe, called Beaver Indians, who
inhabit the lower part of Peace River; for
they differ but little from them in dialect,
manners, customs, &c. Some misunderstanding between the Sicannies and the rest of the
tribe to which they formerly belonged, probably drove them from place to place, up
Peace River, until they were, at length,
obliged to cross the Rocky Mountain. The
Sicannies, are more brave, and better armed
than the Carriers, who have, as yet, but
few fire arms; and it is probable that the
former will make encroachments upon the
latter. The Sicannies, however, are a wretched people; for they suffer greatly for the
want of food, during nearly one fourth part 266
of the year, when they barely support life,
by means of a few unpalatable roots. Yet
they are remarkably fond of the country,
where they now are; and frequently intermarry with the Carriers, and pass a part
of their time with them, at their villages.
They have, also, adopted many of the customs of the Carriers, one of which is, to
burn their dead; whereas, while they resided
on the other side of the Mountain, they
were accustomed to bury them in the earth.
The Sicannies are not an ingenious people;
and I know of nothing which they manufacture, excepting a few iU wrought bows
and arrows, wooden dishes, &c.
There is a tribe of Indians not far from
the Columbia River, who are called Flat-
Heads. By fixing boards upon the heads
of their children, they compress them in such
a manner as to cause them to assume the
form of a wedge. Another tribe in New
Caledonia, denominated Nate-ote-tains, pierce
a hole through the under lips of their daughters, into which they insert a piece of wood,
in the shape of the wheel of a pulley; and
as the girls grow up, this wheel is enlarged,
so that a woman of thirty years of age,
will have one nearly as large as a doUar.
This they consider, adds much to their beauty;
but these wheels are certainly very inconvenient, and to us, they appear very uncouth and disagreeable. ill
I have been acquainted with fifteen different tribes of Indians, which are the Sau-
teux, Crees, Assiniboins, Rapid Indians,
Black feet Indians, Blood Indians, Sursees,
Cautonies, Muskagoes, Chipeways, Beaver Indians, Sicannies, Ta-cullies, Atenas and Nate-
ote-tains. The parts of the country, which
they severally inhabit, have already been
noticed, in my Journal.
The tribes that are the most enlightened,
and that have advanced the farthest toward
a state of civilization, are the Sauteux or
Chipeways, the Muskagoes and the Crees,
or Knisteneux, as they have been sometimes
denominated. These tribes have a greater
knowledge than the other Indians, of the
medicinal qualities of the bark of trees, and
of herbs, roots, &c. and their medical skill,
enables them heavily to tax the other tribes.
Indeed, their medicines, with their skill in
regard to their application, form considerable
articles of commerce with their neighbours.
Sometimes, for a handsome compensation,
they will instruct a person where to procure ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
ingredients, and how to prepare them as
medicines, to be used in particular cases.
It is very probable, however, that the Indian doctors, like some apothecaries in the
civilized world, sell some medicines, of little
or no value. It is also well known to those
acquainted with the Indians, that their
physicians frequently effect cures with their
roots, herbs, &c. in cases, which would baffle
the skill and the drugs, of a scientifick physician.
The white people have been among the
above mentioned tribes, for about one hundred and fifty years. To this circumstance
it is probably to be attributed, that the
knowledge of these Indians is more extensive,
than that of the other tribes. But I very
much question whether they have improved
in their character or condition, by their
acquaintance with civilized people. In their
savage state, they were contented with the
mere necessaries of life, which they could
procure, with considerable ease; but now
they have many artificial wants, created by
the luxuries which we have introduced among
them; and as they find it difficult to obtain
these luxuries, they have become, to a degree,
discontented with their condition, and practise fraud in their dealings. A half civilized
Indian is more savage, than one in his original state. The latter has some sense of
honour, while the former has none. I have
always experienced the greatest hospitality ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
and kindness among those Indians, who
have had the least intercourse with white
people. They readily discover and adopt
our evil practices; but they are not as quick
to discern, and as ready to follow the few
good examples, which we set before them.
The Indians in general, are subject to
few diseases. The venereal complaint is
common to all the triHes of the north; many
persons among them, die of a consumption;
fevers, also, frequently attack them; and
they are likewise troubled with pains in their
heads, breasts and joints. Many of them,
and especially the women, are subject to
fits. For a relief, in nearly all of their diseases, they resort to their grand remedy,
There is no material difference in the size,
features and complexion of the different
tribes, with whom I have been acquainted.
The Sauteux, Crees and Assiniboins, together with the other Indians who inhabit
the prairies, are, however, the fairest and
most cleanly. The Sauteux women differ
from all others, by turning their toes very
much inwards, in walking. The Assiniboins,
of both sexes, are the best made, and walk
the most erect, of any tribe that I have
ever seen. Fools and disfigured persons, are
seldom to be met with among the Indians;
the reason of which, I believe to be, that
their mothers put them to death as soon
as they discover their unhappy condition, 272
All Indian children, when young, are laced
in a kind of bag. This bag is made of a
piece of leather, about two feet square, by
drawing a string, inserted in the lower end,
and lacing the two sides together. Some
moss is placed in the bottom of this bag;
the child is then laid into it, and moss is
inserted between its legs. The bag is then
laced the fore side of the child as high as
its neck. This bag is laid upon a board, to
which it is fastened by means of a strip of
leather, passing several times round both
the board and the bag. At the top of this
board, a bow passes round from one side
to the other, perpendicular to its surface,
on which the Indians fasten small bells,
which they obtain from us, or the claws
of animals, by way of ornament, and which
rattle,when the child is carried by its mother^
suspended from her shoulders, by means of a
cord jor belt fastened to the board. From
two points in this bow, equally distant from
the board, two strips of leather, worked
with porcupine quills, are suspended, at the
ends of which, tassels, composed of moose
hair, are fixed. This bag is commonly ornamented, in different parts, with porcupine
quills. The women who are particular in
keeping their children clean, shift the moss
which is put into these bags, several times
in a day; but others do it not more than
twice. They often fix conductors so that
their male children never wet the moss.   The ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
Carrier women will nurse their children,
when thus suspended at their backs, either
by throwing their breasts over their shoulders or under their arms. Their breasts are
larger and longer than those of the other
tribes; but I am unable to assign any cause
for this peculiarity.
The dress of the Indians is simple and
convenient. They wear tight leggins, each
of which is composed of a single piece of
leather or cloth, sewed up with a single
seam, about an inch from the edge, which
projects upon the outside. These garments
reach from the ancle nearly to the hip. Theji
have a strip of cloth or leather, called assi-
an, about a foot wide, and five feet long,
which passes between the legs, and over a
thong tied round the waist, so that the
ends hang down, behind and before. The
body is covered with a shirt, reaching down
to the thighs, which is belted with a broad
piece of parchment, fastened together behind.
They wear a cap upon the head, composed
of a single piece of fur sewed up, or of the
skin of a small animal of a suitable size,
which is cut off at both ends, and sewed up
at the top; and at some times it is only
cut off at the end towards the head, while
the tail is left at the top, to hang down
behind, by way of ornament. They have,
also, at the proper season, the tail of a
buffaloe,   fastened  to  one  of their  wrists,
which they use in keeping off flies.   A sort
18 274
of robe or blanket is occasionally worn over
the rest of their dress. They also wear shoes
and mittens. The articles of their clothing
by day, constitute their covering when they
lie down at night. The materials of which
their clothing is composed vary with the
season, consisting of dressed moose skins,
beaver prepared with the fur, or European
woollens. The leather, they frequently paint
or work with porcupine quills, with no small
degree of taste. The skirts of their shirts,
and the seams of their leggins, are often
ornamented with fringe and tassels, composed of the hair of the moose, which is
naturally white, but which they die yellow
and red. Their shoes and mittens have,
likewise, an appropriate decoration. At a
feast or dance, they wear the feathers of the
swan, eagle and other birds; and they occasionally wind a string of the teeth, horns
and claws of different animals, around their
head or neck. They all rub greese upon their
hair, which gives it a smooth and glossy
It belongs to the women to make up the
articles of clothing. In sewing leather, instead of thread, they make use of the sinews
of animals. When this substance is some
moistened, they separate a fibre, and by
running their finger along between it and
the main sinew, they part it to a sufficient
length. The sinews of the cariboo may be
made as fine and even, as fine thread.   These ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
fibres, when thus separated, they twist at
one end between their fingers, which gives
them a sharp stiff point, when they are dry.
They use awls, which they obtain from us,
or an instrument of bone which they construct themselves, in sewing. The men paint
their faces and ornament their persons, with
no less care than the women; and the married women, while \%ej neglect not their
own persons, are still more attentive to the
appearance of their husbands. The young
women often make some ornamental articles,
particularly garters, neatly worked with
porcupine quills and present them to their
favourites; and the standing of a young
male Carrier among the young females may
often be determined by the number of garters
which he wears.
The female dress is made of the same
materials as that of the men, but differently
constructed and arranged. Their shoes are
without ornament; their leggins are gartered
beneath the knee; the shirt or coat, which
is so long as to reach the middle of the leg,
is tied at the neck, is fringed around the
bottom, and fancifully painted, as high as
the knee. Being very loose, it is girded
around the waist with a stiff belt, ornamented
with tassels, and fastened behind. The
arms are covered as low as the wrists with
sleeves, which are not connected with the
body garment. These sleeves are sewed up,
as far as the bend of the arm, having the 276
seam the under side; and extend to the
shoulders, becoming broader toward the
upper end, so that the corners hang down
as low as the waist. They are connected
together, and kept on, by a cord, extending
from one to the other, across the shoulders.
The cap, when they have one, consists of a
piece of cloth, about two feet square, doubled,
and sewed up at one end, which forms an
enclosure for the head; and it is tied under
the chin. The bottom of it falls down the
back, like a cape, and in the centre, is tied
to the belt. This cap is fancifully garnished
with ribbon, beads or porcupine quills. The
upper garment, is a robe or garment, similar
to that worn by the men. Their hair is
parted on the top of the head, and tied
behind; or, at some times, it is fastened
in large knots over the ears, and covered
with beads of various colours. They prefer
European clothes, when they can obtain
them, to the skins, furnished by their own
country. For ornaments they use bracelets,
composed of brass, bone or horn; and rings,
and similar trinkets. Some of the women
tattoo a line, which is sometimes double,
from the middle of the under lip, to the
center of the chin; and two other lines, extending from the corners of the mouth, somewhat diverging from the other line, down
the sides of the chin.
The greater part of the Indians, who make
use of European cloths for their dress, frfe- ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
quently cleanse them, by washing them in
cold water, without soap. They do not
understand the art of making soap; and if
they did, the process is so laborious, that
they would readily forego the use of this
article, which they consider of very little
value. When their clothing consists of leather,
they occasionally cleanse it, by rubbing it
over with a ball of white earth. This earth,
which is the same which we use for white
washing, they moisten, and mould into balls,
and thus preserve it for use.
The Indians who subsist principally on
fish, and who kill but few large animals,
cover their habitations with some kind of
bark, or with mats made of rushes. But
those who subsist on the buffaloe, moose
and red deer, dress their skins, and cover
their tents with them, as described in my
Journal. When they are in their tents they
sit or lie down on buffaloe or bear skins,
which constitute, also, their beds; and when
in bed, they cover themselves with a buffaloe
skin, dressed with the hair on, or with a
blanket. But many of the Carriers, have
nothing to lie on, excepting the branches
of the spruce fir tree, with little or nothing
with which to cover themselves; and their
huts constitute but a poor shelter. To
keep themselves from freezing, in cold winter
nights, therefore, they are under the necessity
of keeping up a constant fire, to which they
are compelled to turn their sides, alternately; 278
and they are, at such times, able to procure
but little sleep. Indeed, almost any other
people, in the same condition, would freeze
to death. But as they have always been
accustomed to such a mode of living, they
seem not at all aware of the misery of their
The Sauteux, Muscagoes, many of the
Chipewyans and some of the Crees, in short
all the Indians who live about large lakes,
subsist principally on fish, which they take
with hooks and lines, or in nets. Their
hooks they frequently obtain from us; and
when this is impracticable, they make them,
by inserting a piece of bone obliquely into
a piece of wood, and reducing the upper
eAd of the bone to a point. Their lines are
either single thongs of leather, tied together,
or they are braided of the bark of the willow.
The Assiniboins, Rapid Indians, Black feet
Indians and those Crees who remain in the
strong thick woods, or on the large plains,
live upon the flesh of the buffaloe, moose,
red deer, antelope, bear, &c. which they
either boil or roast. Those of them who
can obtain brass or copper or tin kettles
from us, use them for boiling their food;
and hang them over the fire. Those who
cannot obtain such kettles, use those which
are made of bark. Although water might
be made to boil in these bark kettles over
the fire,* yet they would not be durable;
and therefore, this operation is more com- ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
monly performed, Tby throwing into them,
heated stones. Those Indians, however,
who have only bark kettles, generally roast
their meat. This they do, by fixing one end
of a stick, that is sharpened at both ends,
into the ground, at a little distance from
the fire, with its top, on which the meat
is fixed, inclining towards the fire. On this
stick, the meat is occasionally turned, when
one part becomes sufficiently roasted.
The Indians, in general, like to have their
food, whether boiled or roasted, thoroughly
done; but those who inhabit the plains,
frequently make their meals without the
aid of fire, of particular parts of the entrails
of the buffaloe, which I have, also, eaten
raw, and have found to be very palatable.
When there is no water to be found, they
at times kill a buffaloe, and drink his blood,
or the water which they find in his paunch.
The paunch of a male buffaloe, when well
cooked, is very delicious food. The Natives
scarcely ever wash it; but boil it with much
of its dung, adhering to it; and even then,
the broth has an excellent taste, to those
who can forget, or from habit pay no regard
to the filth, which settles, to the thickness
of two fingers, at the bottom of the kettle.
Many consider a broth, made by means of
the dung of the cariboo and the hare to be
a dainty dish.
The Chipewyans can never patiently see a
fish without gouging out its eyes, and eating 1
them in a raw state; and they say, that
they are delicious. They, also, often make
their meals upon raw fish or meat, that is
frozen; and appear to relish it fully as well,
as when cooked.—The Carriers, when they
take fish that have roes in them, squeeze
them, with their thumb and finger, through
their natural outlet, into their mouths,
and swaUow them down, with avidity. They
also bury in the earth large boxes, filled
with the roes of salmon, where they are
suffered to remain, until they are a little
putrified, when they take them out, and
eat them, either cooked or raw; and they
appear to relish them well, though they
fill the air with a terrible stench, for a considerable distance round. A person who eats
this food, and rubs salmon oil on his hands,
can be smelt in warm weather, to the distance of nearly a quarter of a mile.
The natives in a part of the country
called Nipigon, as well as in some other
parts of the country, are frequently obliged,
by necessity, to subsist on a kind of moss,
which they find adhering to the rocks, and
which they denominate As-se-ne Wa-quon-uck,
that is, eggs of the rock. This moss when
boiled with pimican, &c. dissolves into a
glutinous substance, and is very palatable;
but when cooked in water only, it is far
otherwise, as it then has an unpleasant,
bitter taste. There is some nourishment
in it; and it has saved the life of many of ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
the Indians, as well as of some of our voyagers.
On the Columbia River, there is a people
who subsist, during the greater part of the
summer, on nothing but roots, and a kind
of bread, if it may be so called, made of the
mossy stuff, which grows on the spruce fir
tree, and which resembles the cobwebs, spun
by.spiders. This subsfence contains a little
nourishment. They gather it from the trees,
and lay it in a heap, on which they sprinkle
a little water, and then leave it, for some
time, to ferment. After that, they roll it
up into balls, as large as a man's head,
and bake them in ovens, well heated, which
are constructed in the earth. After having
been baked about an hour, they are taken
out for use. This substance is not very
palatable; and it contains but little nourishment. It will, however, barely support life,
for a considerable time.
The Indians frequently eat the flesh of
the dog; and our Canadian voyagers are
as fond of it, as of any other meat. I have
frequently eaten of them myself; and have
found them as palatable as a young pig,
and much of the same flavour. These dogs
are small; and in shape, very much resemble
the wolf. The large dogs are of a different
breed, and their flesh always has a rank
taste; but this is never the case with the
smaU kind.
Perhaps  I cannot  more  properly,  than 282
in this connexion, state, that all the Indians,
when they look in each other's heads, and
find lice, of which they have a plenty, both
there and on their bodies, crush them between their teeth, and frequently swallow
them. The reason which they give for this
nauseous custom is, that, as the lice have
first bitten them, they are only retaliating
the injury upon them.
As the Indians use no salt in the preservation of their meat, the lean part is
cut into thin slices, and hung up in their
tents, and dried in the smoke,' and the fat
is melted down; and in this situation, it
will keep for years. They make marrow
fat, by cutting the joints of the bones, which
they boil for a considerable time, and then
skim off the top, which is excellent to eat
with their dried meat. They find a root in
the plains, that is nearly a foot long, and
two or three inches in circumference, which
is shaped like a carrot, and tastes like a
turnip, which they pound fine, and then
dry it in the sun. This, when boiled in fat
broth, is one of their most dainty dishes,
at their feasts. The ordinary drink of the
Indians is the broth of flesh or fish, or only
The Indians on the east side of the Rocky
Mountain, pound choke cherries fine, and
dry them in the sun, which are palatable,
either eaten alone, or boiled in broth. They
have also a small berry, about the size of ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
a common currant, shaped like an egg, which
I have called, in my Journal, shad berries,
as I have heard them so denominated in New
England, which they dry in the sun, and
either boil them in broth, or mix them with
pounded meat and fat, in making pimican.
But the Carriers prepare these berries in a
different manner, in order to preserve them.
They make a kind of $ub, which will contain twenty or thirty gallons, of the bark
of the spruce fir tree. Into the bottom of
this tub they put about a peck of these
berries, and upon the top of them stones,
that are nearly red hot; they then put another layer of berries, and upon these, a
layer of stones, and so on until the tub is
full. They then cover it up, and let it remain in that situation for about five or
six hours, when they will have become perfectly cooked. They are then taken out,
and crushed between the hands, and spread
on splinters of wood, tied together for the
purpose, over a slow fire; and, while they
are drying, the juice which ran out while
they were cooking in the tub, is rubbed
over them. After two or three days drying,
they will be in a condition to be kept for
several years. They are very palatable,
especially when a few whortleberries are
mixed with them. The above described
method of cooking berries, is far better than
doing them in brass or copper kettles, as I
have proved by repeated experiment. 284
The Carriers cut off the heads of salmon,
and throw them into the lake, where they
permit them to remain a month, or at least
until they become putrified. They then take
them out, and put them into a trough, made
of bark, filled with water. Into this trough
they put a sufficiency of heated stones, to
make the water boil for a time, which wiU
cause the oil to come out. of the heads of
the salmon, and rise to the top of the water.
This they skim off, and put into bottles
made of salmon skins; and they eat it with
their berries. Its smell however is very disagreeable; and no people would think of
eating it excepting the Carriers.
The Indians are not regular in their meals;
and they will eat a little, half a dozen times
in a day, if they have food at hand. But
they are not great eaters; and they often
subsist for a great length of time, upon a
very little food. When they choose, however, and in a particular manner, sometimes
at feasts, they will gorge down an incredible
quantity. They do not drink largely, excepting the Carriers, who live upon dry fish.
They will sometimes swallow, at one draught,
three pints, or two quarts. When they can
procure food that is palatable, they will
eat in the same proportion. No favour
which can be bestowed upon them is so gratefully received, as the means of making a
good meal.
From the month of June, until the latter ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
end of September, all animals have but little
fur; and therefore, at this season, the Indians
do not hunt them much. The greater part
of the Indians, on the east side of the Rocky
Mountain, now take the beaver in steel traps,
which we sell them; frequently they shoot
them, with fire arms; and sometimes they
make holes through their lodges or huts,
and then spear them. *Otters they take in
the same manner as beavers. The lynx or
cat, they take in snares. Foxes, fishers,
martins, minks, &c. they take in a spring
trap.—The large animals are hunted chiefly
for their flesh; and are therefore killed,
principally when they are the fattest, which
most of them are in the fall, and some of
them in the winter. Buffaloes, moose, red
deers, bears, &c. are generally killed with fire
arms. The Indians, however, in the plains,
have other methods of killing the buffaloe.
Sometimes the young men mount their
horses, and pursue them and bring them
down with their bows and arrows, which
they find more convenient for this purpose
than fire arms, as they can more easily
take an arrow from the quiver, than load
a musket, in such a situation. The following,
is another method of taking the buffaloe.
The Natives look out for a small grove of
trees, surrounded by a plain. In this grove
they make a yard, by falling small trees,
and interweaving them with brush; and they
leave an opening into it about twenty feet 286
broad. They select, for this purpose, a rising
piece of ground, that the yard may not be
seen at a distance. From each side of this
opening, they fix two ranges of stakes, at
about an angle of ninety degrees from each
other, extending about two miles into the
plains. These stakes rise about four feet
above the ground, and are about forty feet
apart. On the top of each stake, they put
buffaloe dung, or tie a wisp of hay. After
this preparation, when a herd of buffaloes is
seen at no great distance off, thirty or forty
or more young men mount their racers,
which are well trained to this business, and
surround them; and little difficulty is found
in bringing them, within the range of the
stakes. Indians are stationed by the side
of some of these stakes, to keep them in
motion, so that the buffaloes suppose them
all to be human beings. The horsemen press
forward by the sides of the herd and behind
them, until, at length, with their tongues
lolling from their mouths, they are brought
to the entrance of the yard; and through
it they rush without perceiving their danger,
until they are shut in, to the number, oftentimes, of two or three hundred. When they
find themselves enclosed, the Indians say,
and I have frequently seen myself, that they
begin to walk around the outside of the
yard, in the direction of the apparent revolution of the sun, from east to west. Before any of them are killed, the Indians go ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS. 287
into the tent of the chief to smoke, which
they denominate making the buffaloe smoke.
They then go out to the yard, and kill the
buffaloes with bows and arrows; and there
are Indians, who will send an arrow, entirely
through one buffaloe, and kill, at the same
time, a second. When the buffaloes are all
killed and cut up, the tongues of all of them
are taken to the tent ofcthe chief; and with
a part of them he makes a feast, and the
remainder he allows his neighbours to keep.
The meat and skins are then distributed
among the people of the whole camp; and
whether equally or not, no one will complain.
Should any be displeased with their share,
they will decamp, and go and join another
The Natives generally cut up. the body of
an animal into eleven pieces, to prepare it
for transportation to their tents, or to our
forts. These pieces are the four limbs, the
two sides of ribs, the two sinews on each
side of the back bone, the brisket, the croup,
and the back bone. Besides these, they save
and use the tongue, heart, liver, paunch,
and some part of the entrails. The head,
they carry home, the meat which is on it
they eat; and the brains they rub over the
skin, in dressing it.—After they have taken
all the meat off from the skin, they stretch
it on a frame, and suffer it to dry. They
next scrape of all the hair, and rub the
brains  of the animal  over the skin,   and *>
then smoke it; after which they soak it in
water, for about a day. They then take it
out and wring it as dry as possible; and a
woman takes hold of each end, and they
hold it over a fire, frequently pulling it and
changing its sides, until it is perfectly dry.
After this it is smoked with rotten wood,
and it becomes fit for use. This last part
of the process, is to prevent it from becoming hard after it has been wet.
The Sauteux, who remain about the Lake
of the Woods, now begin to plant Indian
corn and potatoes, which grow well. The
Mandans, also, along the Missouri River,
cultivate the soil, and produce Indian corn,
beans, pumpkins, tobacco, &c. As they do
not understand curing their tobacco, it is of
little use to them. The Sauteux, who live
back from Mackana, raise large quantities of
Indian corn, beans, &c. And also make
much sugar, from the maple tree, which they
dispose of to the North West Company, for
cloth and other articles. As soon as the
animals become scarce, that are hunted for
their furs, the Natives must till the ground
for subsistence, or live upon fish. This state
of things already exists, in many places;
and must, in all probability, be extended.
The Indians sometimes take the largest
fish, such as sturgeon, trout, and some
white fish, with spears. At other times, they
take their fish in drag:nets or scoop-nets.
But the more general way of taking them II
is the following. They have nets, of from
twenty to sixty fathoms, in length, which
contain from twelve to forty meshes, of from
two to seven inches in depth. Upon lines,
which are fixed upon each side of the net,
for the purpose of strengthening it, they
fasten, opposite to each other, a small stone
and a wooden buoy, once in about the distance of two fathoms. The net is carefully
thrown into the water, and by means of the
stones on the one side, and the buoys on the
other, it becomes extended, to its full breadth.
The ends of the net, which forms a semicircle,
are secured by stones; and it is visited every
day, and taken out of the water every second
day, to be cleaned and dried. This is a
very easy operation, when the water is not
frozen. But the ice which, at some places,
acquires the thickness of five feet, renders
the setting and taking out of the nets, a
work of greater difficulty. They then cut
holes, at the distance of thirty feet from
each other, to the whole length of the net,
one of which, is larger than the rest, being
generally about four feet square, and is called
the basin. Through these holes, by means
of poles of a suitable length, the net is placed
in and drawn out of the water.
The Indians, throughout the whole country
that I have visited, have no other animals
domesticated, excepting the horse and the
dog. Of the latter, they have several different species. Some of them are very large
19 290
and strong, and are employed in carrying
burdens; while others, which are small, assist
their masters in the chace.—All Indians are
very fond of their hunting dogs. The people
on the west side of the  Rocky  Mountain,
*/ 7
appear to have the same affection for them,
that they have for their children; and they
will discourse with them, as if they were
rational beings. They frequently call them
their sons or daughters; and when describing
an Indian, they will speak of him as father
of a particular dog which belongs to him.
When these dogs die, it is not unusual to
see their masters or mistresses place them
on a pile of wood, and burn them in the
same manner as they do the dead bodies
of their relations; and they appear to lament
their deaths, by crying and howling, fully
as much as if they were their kindred. Notwithstanding this affection, however, when
they have nothing else with which to purchase articles which they want, they will
sell their dogs.
Those Indians, who live in a woody country,
make no use of horses, but employ their large
dogs, to assist in carrying their baggage
from place to place. The load is placed
near their shoulders, and some of these dogs,
which are accustomed to it, will carry sixty
or seventy pounds weight, the distance of
twenty five or thirty miles in a day.
The Assiniboins, Rapid Indians, Black feet
and  Mandans, together with all the other ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
Indians who inhabit a plain country, always
perform their journies on horse back. Indeed
they seldom go even a short distance from
their tents, in any other manner. They
have some excellent horses, which will carry
them a great distance in a day. They sometimes go seventy miles, in twelve hours;
but forty or forty five miles is a common
day's ride. They do not often use bridles,
but guide their horses with halters, made
of ropes, which are manufactured from the
hair of the buffaloe, which are very strong
and durable. On the back of the horse,
they put a dressed buffaloe skin, on the top
of which, they place a pad, from which are
suspended stirrups, made of wood, and covered with the skin of the testicles of the
Some of these Indians have forty or fifty
horses; and they attach a great value to
those, that are distinguished for their speed.
Whenever an Assiniboin sells a racer, he separates from him, in a most affectionate manner.
Immediately before delivering him to the purchaser, he steps up to the favourite animal,
and whispers in his ear, telling him not to
be cast down or angry with his master for
disposing of him to another, for, he adds,
"you shall not remain long where you are.
I sold you to obtain certairh articles, that I
stood in great need of; but before many
nights have passed, I will come and steal
you away."   And, unless great vigilance on 292
the part of the purchaser prevent, he gener-
ally fulfils his promise; for they are the greatest horse thieves, perhaps upon the face of
the earth. As there never falls much snow
on the large plains, the horses have not much
difficulty in finding a sufficiency of grass, on
which to subsist, during the whole year; and
they are generally in good order.
The Indians who reside about large lakes
and rivers, voyage about in the summer
season, in canoes, made • of the bark of the
birch or spruce fir tree; and two persons in
one of them, will easily go fifty miles in a
day. The paddles, with which the canoe is
moved, are about five feet long, half of which
length, is a blade, four inches wide.
The Indians are good walkers; and will
at sometimes, travel forty miles in a day,
with a pretty heavy load upon their backs.
In the winter season, the Indians use snow
shoes; and it would be impossible to travel
without them. They are constructed in several different shapes; but the following is the
most common form. They take a piece of
wood, and with a crooked knife, work it
down, until it is about two inches wide, and
an inch thick. These sticks are fastened together at one end, which constitutes the hind
part; they are then bent so as to be about
a foot asunder in the middle, and to come
nearly together forward. The space between
these sticks, they fill up with a lace work of
thongs of deer skin.   Other snow shoes come ll
quite to a point before, where they are turned
up; the side pieces are from eighteen to
twenty four inches apart, and, in the fall of
the year, when the snow is light, they are
seven feet in length. The inner side piece is
nearly straight, and the outside is arching,
and the extremities behind, come together in
a point. The space between them, is worked
as above mentioned. It is a little surprising that the Indians, who are accustomed to
them, will walk farther in a day on good
snow shoes, than they could do on bare
ground. But it is very fatiguing for those to
walk on them, who are not accustomed to do
it. The Indians are trained to this exercise
from the age of four years. Even at that
early age, they will go five or six miles in a
day upon them, through the whole winter,
as often as the Indians decamp, which, at
sometimes, is every day, and at other times,
once in eight or ten days. Indians, who
live upon the chace, in a country where animals are scarce, cannot remain long in a
place; and those who hunt the beaver and
some other animals, must continually shift
their residence.
Few of the Indians live in a state of celibacy. They generally marry when they are
between eighteen and twenty five years of age.
Polygamy is allowed among all the tribes;
but only a few persons among them, have
more than one wife, each. I knew, however,  a chief, among the Beaver  Indians,
-si 294
who had eleven wives, and more than forty
Their courtship and marriage are conducted in the following manner. A young
man who is desirous of taking a wife, looks
around among the young women of his acquaintance, to find one that pleases his fancy.
Having thus singled out one, to her he makes
known his intentions; and if his addresses are
favourably received, he visits her, in the night
season, by crawling softly into the tent where
she lodges, and where she is expecting him,
after the other inhabitants of the lodge are
asleep. Here they pass the night, by conversing in a whisper, lest they should be
heard by the rest of the family, who aU occupy the same apartment. As the morning
light approaches, he withdraws in the same
silent manner, in which he came. These
nocturnal visits are kept up for several
months; or, until the young couple think
that they should be happy, in passing their
days together. The girl then proposes the
subject to her mother, and she converses with
the father in regard to the intended match.
H he give his consent, and7 the mother
agree with him in opinion, she will direct her
daughter to invite her suitor to come and
remain with them. It is now only, that they
cohabit; and whatever the young man kills,
he brings home and presents it to the father
of his wife. In this way he lives, during a
year or more, without having any property ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
that he can call his own. After his wife has
a child, she calls her husband by no other
name but the father- of her son or daughter.
And now he is at liberty to leave the tent
of his wife's father, if he pleases. All the
Indians on the east side of the rocky mountain, think it very indecent for a father or
mother in law, to speak to, or look in the
face of a son or daughter in law; and they
never do either unless they are very much
intoxicated. The reason which they give for
this custom, when questioned on the subject
is, the peculiar intercourse which this person
has had with their child.
When two young persons of different sexes,
have an affection for each other, and wish
to be connected in marriage, to which the
father of the girl will not consent, they frequently leave the tents of their parents, and
go and join some distant band of Indians,^
They are, however, often pursued, by the
father of the young woman; and should he
overtake them, he will bring his daughter
back, and keep a strict watch over her conduct, to prevent all intercourse between her
and her suitor. All neighbouring tribes frequently intermarry.
Chastity in young women, is considered as
a virtue, by the Indians, generally, on the
east side of the Rocky Mountain; and many
mothers, among some tribes are so particular, that they never allow their daughters,
who have arrived at a certain age, to go 296
from home alone, but always send some person with them, as a protector. Chastity
in married persons is universally regarded as
a virtue; and the want of it in a woman,
is frequently the cause of her being rejected
by her husband. A separation, also, at some
times, takes place, on account of the slothful-
ness of the woman. When such an event
does occur, all the children, if small, remain
with their mother, but should they have sons,
advanced beyond the period of childhood,
they remain with their father. Their separations, however, are seldom lasting; and
after a few days absence, the parties gener-
aUy have an inclination to return to each
other. These separations commonly take
place in obedience to the wiU of the husband,
only because, possessing greater physical
strength, he has more power to drive his
wife from him, or to retain her with him,
against her choice, than she has to treat
him in a similar manner.
The Indian women sit down in a decent
attitude, placing their knees close to each
other. They are very particular, also, in
regard to their behaviour, during their periodical Illness. They then leave the tents
where their families reside, and go and put
up temporary ones, at a little distance from
them, where they remain during the continuance of their illness. While they are there,
the men will not deign to hold any conversation  with them; nor  will they suffer ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
them to make use of any article, which they
expect to want the use of afterwards. This
custom prevails among all the tribes, with
whom I have been acquainted. The first
time that the young women, among the
Sauteux, Crees and some other tribes, experience this illness, they run into the woods,
and remain there for several days. They
then return to their tents, and immediately
proceed to cut and pile up a cord of wood,
as high as their heads; after which all the
women of the camp come and scramble for
it, and carry it away, saying, that the person who cut the wood, is now a woman like
themselves, and that they hope she will prove
to be industrious.
The men among the Indians, are very subject to be jealous of their wives. In their fits
of jealousy, they often cut off all the hair
from the heads of their wives, and, not un-
frequently, cut off their noses, also; and
should they not in the moment of passion
have a knife at hand, they will snap it off
at one bite, with their teeth. But such a
circumstance does not ordinarily produce a
separation between them. The man is satisfied in thus revenging a supposed injury;
and having destroyed the beauty of his wife,
he concludes that he has secured her against
all future solicitations to offend.
All the Indians consider women as far in-
feriour in every respect, to men; and, among
many tribes, they treat their wives much as 298
they do their dogs. The men chastise their
wives, frequently, with an axe, or with a
large club; and in the presence of their husbands, the women dare not look a person in
the face. When they decamp, the women
transport the baggage; and when they stop,
while the men are quietly smoking their
pipes, the women are required to pitch the
tents, and to set the encampment in order.
Among the Sauteux, Crees, Muscagoes and
Assiniboins, however, the women are treated
with more gentleness and respect. The husband shares the labour with his wife; and
the women govern every thing in their tents,
so that the husband presumes not to dispose
of the most trifling article, without the consent of his wife. Among them the husband
kills animals and generally brings the meat
to his tent, where his wife prepares it for
drying, and melts down the fat. She, also
generally does the cooking; not, however,
without the occasional assistance of her husband. He assists her, likewise, in taking-
care of the children; and, if his wife is too
much loaded, in marching from one place of
encampment to another, he will take one of
the smaU children in addition to the load
already on his own back. But the Indians,
who inhabit the plains, never carry any
thing on their backs, as they are well supplied with horses.
The following ceremonies attend the birth
of children.   When the time of a woman ap- ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
proaches, she erects a small hut, at a little
distance from the tent in which she usually
lives; and at the time of labour, she sends
an invitation to several neighbouring women,
to come to her assistance. As soon as the
child is born, it is washed in water, that
had been previously prepared, by boiling in
it a sweet scented root. The mother then
orders a feast to be prepared. As soon as
it is ready, the most aged woman of the
company, takes a little out of the dish, and
throws it into the fire, and then helps the
whole company; not passing by the mother
of the child, who is generally able to join
them in the repast. The old lady of ceremonies, now offers up a short prayer to the
Creator, or the Master of life, as they denominate him, in behalf of the new born babe,
the substance of which is, that its life may be
spared, and that it may grow; and if a son,
become a handsome young lad.
A woman after child birth, remains in the
separate dwelling which she had erected, for
the space of about thirty days, during which
time, no man would, on any account, enter
the place of her residence. At the close of
this period, she returns to her tent, and the
father of the child prepares a feast to which
all their neighbours are invited, the object of
which as they say, is, to welcome the arrival
of the little stranger, from a far country.
Should a male child live, the parents dry
the meat of the first animal that he kills, 300
and carefuUy keep it, until they can collect
a sufficiency of something to make a feast.
They then invite their friends, of both sexes,
to come and partake of the fruits of the
hunt of their son; for, they so call it, because
the animal which he kiUed, they mix with
what his parents have procured. Before any
taste of the feast, one of the most respectable
men present, takes a little out of the dish,
and throws it into the fire; and then beseeches the Great Spirit, to be kind to the
lad, and to aUow him to grow up, and to
become a skilful hunter; and to cause that
when he goes to war, he may not behave
like an old woman, but may return with the
scalps of his enemies.
Indian women appear to suffer less pain in
child birth, than women in civilized countries.
They rarely ever take any medicine, at the
time of delivery, though they do, at times,
drink water, in which the rattle of a rattlesnake has been boiled. In the season of
labour, they place their knees upon the floor
or ground, and lean forward over something,
raised about two feet high, ft is seldom
more than a quarter or a half an hour, before the child is born; and, in a few days the
mother is as active and vigorous as ever.
The Indian women rarely ever die, at this
critical period.
Among the natives, those persons who are
in any way deformed, or have any blemish
about them,  receive their name from this ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
circumstance; while the others are named,
after some beast or bird. No Indian will
inform another, even if requested, what his
own name is; though he will, if asked, give
the name of other Indians. Of the reason of
this reserve I am ignorant.
It is not often that an Indian chastises
his children; and, indeed, it is not necessary,
for they appear, in general, to have much
affection and respect for their parents, and
are therefore ready to obey them. A father
never interferes in the bringing up of his
daughter; but leaves her wholly to the care
of her mother. When a son becomes of a
suitable age, his father takes him with him in
hunting, and learns him the different modes
of taking animals. A son until he is married,
considers himself as under his father's con-
troul; and even after that, he will generally listen to any advice, which his father
may give to him. The aged are commonly
treated with much respect, which they consider themselves as entitled to claim. Should
a young man behave disrespectfully toward
an old man, the aged will refer him to his
hoary head, and demand of him, if he be
not ashamed to insult his grey hairs. In
short, the aged of both sexes are generally
treated with kindness; and are not suffered
to want anything which they need, and which
it is in the power of their relations to procure
for them.
The superior influence of the white people, 302
where they have, for a considerable time,
resided among the Indians, has very much
diminished their respect for their own chiefs;
though there are some among them, who
bear this title. The feasts are commonly
made by the chiefs; and they, also, generally make the harangues, in behalf of their
bands, when they visit our forts. Their war
chiefs have considerable influence over the
young men, who accompany them, in their
war parties.
Murder and theft are considered as crimes;
and the former is always punished with
death, unless the murderer makes his escape,
which is generally the case. Theft, also, is
frequently punished in a similar manner.
Sometimes, the party offended will be appeased, by the restoration of the stolen
property, or of an equivalent.
Generosity is among the Indian virtues.
They are more ready, in proportion to their
means, to assist a neighbour who may be in
want, than the inhabitants, generally, of
civilized countries. An Indian rarely kills an
animal, without sending a part of it to a
neighbour, if he has one near him.
The private property of the Indians, consists of horses, dogs, tents, guns, and the
utensils that belong to their tents. Some
of these things, a little before their death,
they bequeath to some of their friends; but
all of their clothing, guns, powder horns, &c.
are buried with them.    Indeed, the Indians ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
suffer nothing to remain in or about the
tent of a person who has died, which he was
accustomed to make use of while he was
alive. They consider it a kind of sacrilege to
mention the name of a person after he is
dead; and they never speak of him as dead,
but as miserable, because, they say, he has
taken a long journey alone, to the country,
to which his deceased relations had gone before him.
Whenever any one is very sick, the whole of
his family, and frequently all of his relations,
will give some part of their clothing in sacrifice to the devil or evil spirit, who, they
suppose, is the cause of his illness. They,
however, pray to the Good Spirit, or Master
of life, for his recovery, as they believe that
he has the power, if he choose to exercise it,
of restoring him to health, notwithstanding
the design which the evil spirit has, of taking his life from him.
All the Indians on the east side of the
Rocky Mountain, bury their dead. After a
person is dead, some of his deceased relatives
cut off a lock of his hair, which they carefully lay up; and they sometimes preserve
such relicks, for a great number of years.
Preparatory to its interment, they dress the
corpse in as gay a manner as possible; and
then wrap a blanket, over the whole. But
they never sew or pin this blanket together,
lest he should be unable to shake it off with
ease, when he arrives in the other world.   If 304
it were fastened, they say, he might lie in it
for several days, after his arrival in the land
of his departed relations, before any one
would meet with, and release him. The bottom and sides of the grave, which is two or
three feet deep, are lined with the branches
of trees. The corpse is then deposited in it;
and along with it, a pipe and tobacco, a dish
or small kettle, an awl and sinews to repair
his shoes, and a sufficiency of provisions, to
support him for a few days, until he shall
arrive in the land of plenty. They then
cover the body with branches, and fill up the
grave with earth; and on the top of it, they
place bark, to protect it from the rain or
snow. They then clear off the bushes and
grass, for eight or ten feet around the grave;
and every spring, the ground is thus renew-
edly cleared, for several years after. About
the grave, they set up a few stakes on which
they hang strips of cloth, tobacco, &c. While
the ceremonies of interment are performing,
the relatives and friends of the deceased,
make the most dismal moans and cries;
and, to convince others of their grief, and,
as they say, to ease their wounded hearts,
some of them cut the hair of their heads
short, or make incisions in their faces and
arms, while others, to whom the deceased
was more dear, will seize an arrow, in an
agony of grief, and run it through the fleshy
part of their thighs.
The Indians generally appear to be more ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS.
afflicted with the loss of an infant, helpless
child, than of a person that has arrived to
mature age; for the latter, they say, can
provide for himself, in the country whither
he has gone, while the former, is too young
to depend upon himself.
The men appear to be ashamed to manifest their grief at the loss of any one, however dear he might have been to them; but
the women give full vent to the feelings of
nature. The fond mother, when she looses a
young child, will pull out all the hair of her
head; cut her face, arms and legs, in a shocking manner; burn all her clothes, excepting a
few rags, which she has upon her; and, to
render herself as wretched, as she expresses
it, as her child, when the weather is stormy,
she will stand for hours at a time, in the
open air, and pitifully moan, in such language as this. "How wretched are you, my
child, to be torn from your friends while so
young and helpless; and to be sent alone,
into a strange country! Who will now give
you bread when you are hungry, and water,
when you are thirsty, and make a covering
for you to lie under when it rains or snows!
0 that I could once more press you, my dear
child, to my troubled breast! Of what use
to me are all my medicines, since they could
not save your life, and keep you a little longer
with us !" Then, in a rage of passion and of
grief, she will rush into her tent, and seize
her medicine bag, and throw it into the fire.
20 306
AH the Indian tribes are frequently at war
with each other; and at some times, two
tribes will league together, against one
tribe or more. Those who reside in a wo