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History of the Oregon Territory, and the British North-American fur trade; with an account of the habits… Dunn, John, active 1845 1846

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Array     HISTORY
i.atb op the Hudson's bat company,
eight years a resident in the country.
J^Mono (EBttion.
H j
«i niti Tn   i-ti~t PREFACE.
I shall not encumber the reader with a tedious detail of
my motives in publishing this work ; or of its scheme and
plan. This is a kind of egotism, and currying favour with
the reader, already carried to great excess. But I shall
state a few facts—due to myself to give, and to the reader
to know.
Having been articled to the Hudson's Bay Company,
I left my father's home in London, in their ship, the
Ganymede, for their settlements on the Pacific. It is
needless for me to give any account of our outward
voyage (though I met with some strange adventures) to
the Sandwich Islands—at which- we stopped for a short
time; and thence to the Columbia river. Having arrived
at the western head-quarters of the Company—Fort Vancouver ; on the northern shore of the river, ninety miles
from its mouth—I was placed in the fort, in the situation
of assistant store-keeper. After remaining in the fort
nearly a year, I was commissioned to proceed northward,
in the Company's ships, on trading and exploring expeditions ; threading, in our various courses, the whole of
the vast labyrinth of gulphs, sounds, straits, bays, and
inlets, that interlace the whole of the Pacific shore, for
many hundred miles inland, and along many degrees of
latitude. Here I was in the character of trader and
interpreter; and assisted at the erection of several forts,
in various parts of the country, never before occupied.
I then returned to the Columbia; and was placed, for some IV
time, in charge of Fort George, near the mouth of the
river—now an outpost attached to Vancouver—the famous
Astoria, so much vaunted of by the Americans, as their
settlement; from which they once threatened, to use
Washington Irving's phrase, to " sweep the Pacific;" and
spread their internal trade through the Canadas, and the
Polar Circles ; and banish the Britishers as traders, if not
as residents, from the whole northern continent—a boastful
threat, which they have signally failed to execute. They
made, however, every endeavour to realise this most ardent
wish of their hearts, but have been completely foiled. In
place of being the expellers, they are themselves, in a great
measure, the expelled—the result of their own irregular
mode of dealing, and cupidity; which have roused against
them the distrust, indignation, and hatred of the natives.
Having spent eight years in the Company's service, I
was induced by my father, who had other projects in store
for me, to return home.
On my return, although I was, from my knowledge of
those Americans that traded on the coast, or had squatted
in the south-western part of Oregon, or have lately been
employed by the Company as trappers, prepared to hear
any monstrous assumptions of right set forth by the
American populace, through their loco foco organs of the
press, I did not expect' that the respectable portion of the
press—much less that their functionaries and ministers of
state, even up to the President—would echo the opinions
of the rabble that controls the legislature. But, to my
surprise, I found that the subject was viewed by them
through the democratic spectacles.
At the opening of Congress, in 1843, the President,
without any previous provocation to the declaration; but
from the desire, if not the necessity, too characteristic of
American presidents and governments, of pandering to the
passions and feelings of the multitude from whom they
derive their periodical being—volunteered the announce- ment to the whole world, that the whole territory is
American, and that American it will be preserved and
maintained. But this is not merely the averment of the
President; but the whole current of a most vehement
debate runs in support of this fraudulent assertion of a
Claim.    Says the President:—
" The territory of the United States, commonly called
the Oregon territory, lying on the Pacific Ocean, north of
the 42nd degree of latitude, to a portion of which Great
Britain lays claim, begins to attract the attention of our
fellow-citizens; and the tide of population, which has reclaimed what was lately an unbroken wilderness in more
contiguous regions, is preparing to flow over those vast
districts which stretch from the Rocky Mountains to the
Pacific Ocean."
I published in The Times, and other leading periodicals, on the appearance of this document, an. exposition
of the true facts of the case. My statement became the
subject of many articles; and the British people awoke
to a true knowledge of their interests, which the Americans wished to wrest from them. I showed, that up to
1814, they never claimed more than the right of joint
occupancy—that after the Florida treaty, they took a
bolder tone, and claimed exclusive right—that in 1827,
they never ventured to claim beyond the 49th degree.
But now they take a bolder tone still; and, on the gambling principle of " all or nothing," claim up to the Russian
As there was no work lately published by an Englishman, descriptive of the country, and the relative position
of parties; and as the books already published by flying
American travellers, who had picked up their accounts
piecemeal, in different parts, are strongly tinged by prejudice ; I imagined that a true and dispassionate account of
the whole country would tend to place the question on its
proper   basis.     I   thought   then—and  this thought was VI
strengthened by some judicious friends, who had seen the
several statements that I published, and had examined
my rough log-book—that if I had given a fair and dispassionate view of the Oregon territory, and of the relative
position, and social pretensions of the contending parties;
the British public, being awakened to the subject, would
be enabled to come to a sound judgment on the whole
Though I have not given the whole amount of my
notes, I am persuaded that this book will convey a fairer,
and more concentrated impression, than all the American
factious books that have been hitherto published on the
It is true that this book occasionally portrays some dark
features in the American character: but let the reader
clearly observe, that in depicting the American character,
I quote American authority; and that in showing the
weakness of their pretensions to the country, I quote
historical and diplomatical facts*—facts not questionable
by the* Americans themselves.
In brief, and in simple truth, my object is to give the
British public an honest, and, as to leading characteristics,
a full account of the Oregon country. I had another
object in view, which was to give an account of the British
North-American Fur Trade—of which there has been no
consecutive account hitherto siven.
I have given a skeleton map of the Oregon country, and
of the whole coast; contenting myself with the general
position of the most important places, as a help to the
reader; without pretending to enter into the minuteness
of a full chart or map. CONTENTS.
Chap. I.—Discovery of North America by the English—Importance of the Fur Trade—French-Canadian Fur Traders
—Coureurs des Bois, or Rangers of the Woods ...     1
Chap. II.—Hudson's Bay Company—its incorporation, and its
privileges 8
Chap. III.—British Canadian Fur Trade—Establishment of the
North-West Company—its organisation and operations—
rivalry between it and the Hudson's Bay Company   .       .14
Chap. IV.—Establishment of the Hudson's Bay Company's
settlement, under Lord Selkirk, at Red River—destruction of it by the North-West Company     .       .       .       .38
Chap. V.—Trappers, or beaver hunters—Voyageurs, or boatmen   47
Chap. VI.—Description of the present settlement at Red River
—Hunting the Buffalo 63
Chap. VII.—Remarks on the Company's present principles
of dealing;  and the mode of traffic among many of the
Northern tribes 81
Chap. VIII.—The Knistenaux Indians 88
Chap. IX.—The Chipewyan Indians •>&, 101
Chap. X.—Mouth of the Columbia—Description of the native
tribes—their appearance—habits—Extraordinary custom of
compressing the head—Burial of dead—Small pox—Fever
with ague—their mode of doctoring—Fishing customs—
Fort George—Mr. Wyeth and the American Fishing Establishment       112
Chap. XI.—Fort Vancouver—its Farm establishments—Dr.
John M'Loughlin—Bachelor's Hall—Officers' wives—Half-
breeds' horsemanship—Trapping parties leaving Vancouver
—the Canadian cook and boatswain ..... 141 viii
Chap. XII.—Wappatoo Island and Wallamette Settlement—
FarnhanVs Narrative — Missionaries — Settlers—Farming
operations—Catholic priest—Captain Young and the Hudson's Bay Company 167
Chap. XIII General Outline of the Oregon Territory    .       . 202
Chap. XIV.—Astoria, or Fort George—Formation of the American Fur Trade—Captain Thorn—his tyrannical disposition
—The Loss of the Tonquin 218
Chap. XV.—Extension of the British to the north of the month
of the Columbia—Contrast between the British and American mode of trading—Cape Flattery—Native tribes—The
country—Settlements at Nasqually and Cowlitze—Frazer's
River—Gulf of Georgia—Vancouver's Island—The Goquilth
and Newettee tribes—their customs—Discovery of a mine
of coal 227
Chap. XVI—Fort M'Loughlin—Voyage from it all along the
intricate inlets or canals—Various tribes—their appearance
and customs—their religious ceremonies — Extraordinary
supe,rsfition of cannibal fanaticism.—Masquerades—Point
Day—Interior canalsr-Sebassa tribe—their customs—old
women with slit lips—Kidnapping of slaves . . . 262
Chap. XVII.—Fort Simpson—the Surrounding country, and
the various tribes—Indian revenge—Queen Charlotte's
Island—Customs of the tribe—Indian ingenuity—Loss of
the schooner Vancouver  ' .       ."' 278
Chap. XVIII.—Relative claims of Great Britain and America
to the Oregon Territory considered    ..... 296
Chap. XIX. — Flat-heads—their strong devotional feeling —
Black-feet — Religious belief— Snakes — Piutes—Strange
probationary rites—Conduct of the Americans, as attested
by American writers •       su
Chap. XX.—Fort Hall — Trappers — BufFalo — Shooting the
rapids—Passage from the United States across the Rocky
Mountains 333
ANS of the
Discovery of North America by the English—Importance of
the Fur Trade—French Canadian Fur Traders—Cou-
reurs des Bois, or Rangers of the Woods.
The discovery of America by Columbus, and the
great acquisitions resulting from it to Spain, soon
awoke a spirit of adventure in England: and an
Expedition was fitted out from Bristol under the
command of Cabot, a merchant there, under the
patronage of Henry VII., in 1497. This Expedition discovered Newfoundland, and sailed along
the continent from the coast of Labrador to that
of Virginia. Thus England was the second nation
that visited the New World; and the nation, the
extent and importance of whose possessions have
ever been only second to those of any other state
—Spain,  formerly, and the  Republic of America 2
at present. Her possessions she has always made
every effort to maintain; and there never was a
time when she was more imperatively called on to
maintain her territories and her commerce in that
continent than she is now.
The discoveries of Cabot opened the way for other
adventurers during the next century.    The French,
under Carrier, penetrated as far as the island of
Montreal, and, in 1608, founded a colony in that
district.    In two years after (1610), the English explored Hudson's Bay.    Both nations soon found that
in the cold and repulsive forests and plains of the
north there was a source of wealth, if not as immediately attractive as the gold and silver^furnished to
the Spaniards in the genial regions of the south, yet
as enduring and valuable as an article of commerce
—the peltries of its wild animals.    This incentive
caused the wildest and remotest regions to be explored, and the greatest difficulties and dangers to
be braved and surmounted; and has carried in its
course more civilization and social improvement than
ever followed the track of those adventurers after the
wealth of Mexico and Peru.
It was the fur trade which, in fact, gave early
sustenance and vitality to the great Canadian provinces.     The adventurers who had settled  on the banks of the St. Lawrence, soon found that in the
rich peltries of the interior they had sources of wealth
that might almost rival the mines of Mexico and
Peru. The Indians, as yet unacquainted with the
artificial value given to some descriptions of furs in
civilised life, brought quantities of the most precious
kinds, and bartered them away for European trinkets
and cheap commodities. Immense profits were thus
made by the early traders, and the traffic was pursued
with avidity. The pursuit of this traffic produced
a more extensive knowledge of the country—
drew the Indians from their recesses to the haunts
of civilised fife—and rendered Montreal the centre of an extensive trade. Hordes of Indians
would come down at stated" periods, in a squadron
of light canoes, laden with beaver skins, and other
spoils of their year's hunting—unload their canoes
—draw them on shore—form an encampment outside the town—dispose their goods in order, and
open a kind of fair with all the grave ceremonial
so dear to the Indians. An audience would be
demanded of the Governor-general : he would
respond to the application, and hold the conference
with becoming state, seated in an elbow chair;
whilst the Indians were ranged in semicircles before him, seated on the ground, and silently smok- ing their pipes. Speeches would be made,—presents
exchanged, and the audience would break up in
general goodhumour.
Then the work of traffic would commence with
great activity; and all Montreal would be alive with
naked Indians, running from shop to shop, bartering their commodities for arms, knives, axes, kettles,
blankets, and various other articles of use or fancy;
on all of which the merchants realised enormous
profits, as there was no money used in this early
traffic; every transaction being conducted by barter in kind.
Their wants and caprices being supplied, they
would take leave of the Governor—strike their
tents—launch their canoes, and ply their way back
to the interior. The supply procured from these
periodical visits of the natives to Montreal was, it
must be recollected, independent of the purchases
made by Canadian adventurers in their visits
through the interior.
A new and anomalous class of men gradually
grew out of this primitive state of the trade.
These were called Coureurs des bois, or Rangers of
the woods, being originally men who had accompanied the natives in their hunting expeditions,
and made themselves acquainted with remote tracts, and tribes, and who now became, as it were, pedlars
of the wilderness. These men would set out from
Montreal, well stocked with goods suited to the
Indian tastes and wants, and with arms and ammunition for self-defence, or for slaying wild animals
for sustenance; and would make their way up the
mazy and wandering rivers that interlace the vast
forests and wastes of the Canadas, coasting the
most remote lakes; and by the attraction of their
imported goods, creating new wants and habitudes
among the Indians ; and thus spurring them to
renewed exertions in the chase, to procure more
furs and other commodities. Sometimes these men
would sojourn for months among the natives, assimilating to their tastes and habits with the facility
of Frenchmen—adopting in some degree the Indian
dress and mode of fife, and not unfrequently taking to themselves Indian wives. After a lapse of
many months, sometimes a year or more, they
would return loaded with merchandise, and then,
after disposing of their stock, commence a career
of reckless revelry and extravagance; which not
unfrequently ended in their ruin. Those who were
able to hold out till the next season, were forced
upon a new voyage for subsistence. Many of
these Covreurs des bois became so accustomed to the Indian mode of living, and the perfect" freedom of
the wilderness, that they lost all relish for civilisation, and identified themselves with the savages-
among whom they dwelt; or could be distinguished
from them only by their superior licentiousness,
and by their bolder disregard for all law, order,
and morality. Their conduct and example gradually corrupted the natives, and impeded the labours
of the Catholic Missionaries, who were at this time
prosecuting their jpious work in the wilds of Canada,
with diligence and fervour.
To check these abuses, and to protect the fur
trade from various irregularities produced by these
loose adventurers, an order was* issued by the
French government, prohibiting all persons, on
pain of death, from trading in the interior of the
country without a licence; and the use of spirituous liquors, if not abolished, was much restricted.
Though this system checked for a time the
licentiousness ,of these " wood rangers," it did not
eventually abolish it ; for by degrees, according
as the privilege of licensing became extended or
relaxed, much of the abuses of the old system was
revived and continued in another form. The merchants holding the licence frequently employed
the " Coureurs  de bois" • to  undertake the  long voyages at a small per centage, which was sufficient
to whet their cupidity, and urge them to fraud and
exaction in their dealings with the Indians.    At
last it was found  necessary to  establish fortified
posts for  the protection   of  the  trade,   and   the
restraint of these "rangers of the woods."    The
most   important   of these   was  at   the   Strait  of
Michilemackinac, which connects lakes Huron and
Michigan.    This was a depot for the merchandise,
and a rendezvous for the traders.     It is unnecessary to pursue further a picture of  the French-
Canadian traders; but I may sum up by saying,
that the French-Canadian merchant, in those primitive days of Canada, was at his trading-post a kind
of commercial patriarch, surrounded with his Indian
wives and children, and a numerous train of dependents living in rude indulgence. I
Hudson's Bay Company—its incorporation, and its privileges.
Itl   f
This company was incorporated in perpetuity by
Royal Charter, granted a.d. 1670, in the twenty-
second year of the reign of Charles II. The
Charter was granted after much consideration of
the national and commercial advantages of such
a society; and it was granted to men who had
obtained no little distinction at that time. From
the large space which this company now deservedly
holds in the commercial relations of Great Britain
—the great power it has acquired through its
liberal and well regulated government, and through
the enterprise, zeal, and skill of its functionaries,
it may not be uninteresting to detail the names
of the original' corporators, and the object and
terms of the Charter.
It was granted to "Prince Rupert, the Duke
of Albemarle, the Earl of Craven, Lords Arlington and Ashley; Sirs John Robinson, Robert
Vyner,    Peter    Colleton,    Edward    Hungerford,
I 9
Paul Nerle, John Griffith, and Philip Carteret ; to James Hoyes, John Kirke, Francis
Millington, William Prettyman, and John Fenn,
Esqrs.; and to John Portman, citizen and goldsmith of the City of London ;" giving them and
their successors the sole commerce and trade of
all those seas, bays, creeks, rivers, lakes, &c, in
whatsoever latitude they shall be, that lie within
the entrance of Hudson's Straits; together with
all the lands, trade, fisheries, mines, minerals, &c,
on the confines of those seas, bays, lakes, and
rivers, if not then possessed by any British subjects,
or by the subjects of any other christian prince or
state. In a word, all those countries whose waters
run into Hudson's Bay were included in the Charter. The reason for creating this chartered corporation is stated to be, that those individuals did
at their own cost undertake an expedition to
Hudson's Bay, for the discovery and prosecution
of a trade in furs, minerals, and other important
commodities; and by such undertaking made such
discoveries as may be of great advantage to the
The management of the corporation (which was
invested with the usual corporate privileges, of
possessing, and   transmitting   to their   successors,
a V
lands, rents, jurisdictions, &c, and were to direct
the voyages and exploring excursions, and the sale
of merchandise), was centreed in a Governor and
Committee of seven. Prince Rupert was the first
Governor; and the first Committee consisted of
Sirs J. Robinson, Robert Vyner, and Peter Coleton;
with Messrs. Hoyes,- Kirke, Millington, and Port-
The Governor (or deputy governor for the time
being), with the Committee, were to be appointed
annually by election from among the members;
and were removable in case of misconduct. The
whole of this vast and undefined region was to be
reckoned as one of his Majesty's. Colonies, and was
called Prince Rupert's Land. The Governor and
the Company were to be lords proprietors of the
same for ever; empowered to make laws for the
good government of the territory and the advancement of trade; to impose penalties and punishments, provided, however, that they were not unreasonable, and repugnant to the Laws of England.
No subject of the British Crown was to be allowed to trade within the Company's territories
without their written and sealed permission, under
penalty of  a  forfeiture of   the merchandise  em- 11
barked;: neither was even a royal licence to trade
to be given to any one without the Company's
consent. As a proof of the wealth and importance
of the Company, even in its infancy, it may be
stated, that stock to the amount of one hundred
pounds (a large sum in those days, if we consider
the relative value of money then and now) formed
the qualification for the possession of even a single
vote. Individuals were allowed a plurality of votes
in proportion to their possession of funded property in the concern.
The Company were empowered to appoint district governors, and other officers, to judge in all
cases, civil and criminal, according to the Laws
of England.
They were also empowered to grant lands—Lgive
commercial privileges—build towns—employ, for the
protection of their trade and territory, armed force
—appoint commanders, and erect forts, &c. They
were empowered, also, to transport to England all
British subjects found trading in their territory,
without their permission; and furthermore all admirals, and other officers of the crown, were enjoined to lend their aid in assisting the execution
of the powers granted to the Company by the
Charter. 12
Such is an outline of the privileges and powers
granted to the greatest commercial association that
ever appeared in England, next to the East India
Company: an association that has kept on the
even tenour of its useful and prosperous course,
diffusing wealth at home, and spreading civilisation abroad—ransacking the wildest, the dreariest,
and most ungenial regions of the earth to provide
comfort and luxury and wealth for the people of
England; and pointing out to the benighted savage the means of improvement, comfort, and
Though there were associations formed by
French Canadians for the heaven trade so early
as 1630, yet the French had no actual or permanent establishments, nor did. they claim the right
of occupation of any portion of the interior. It
appears, from the history of Father Charlevoix
and Hennepin, that, for some years after the date
of the Charter, the French had no established
trading posts even as far as Lake Superior; neither had they any established possessions in the
vicinity of Hudson's Bay. So that the terms of
the grant did not interfere with any previous right
of others.
Whatever  pretensions may have been made by 13
the French subsequently to the Charter to any
portion of that extensive region, they were completely set aside on the conquest of Canada; and
then the jurisdiction and possessions of the Company were confirmed, in all their former plenitude.
Even after the establishment of American Independence, none of the Hudson's Bay territories, or
of the waters running into Hudson's Bay, were
included in the fines assigned as the boundaries
between the possessions of Great Britain and those
of the United States. By the treaty of 1794,
which permits' the most perfect freedom of intercourse and communication between the subjects
of both nations throughout their respective dominions, an exception is made of the country
within the limits of the Hudson's Bay Company
(to be ascertained in conformity with their Charter), from which the Americans are expressly excluded. In fine, the Charter has been sanctioned
by various subsequent Acts of Parliament, and by
treaties of peace. British-Canadian Fur Trade—Establishment of the North-
West Company—its organisation and operations—rivalry
between it and the Hudson's Bay Company.
For a long series of years the French Canadian
traders found active competitors in the British;
and on the conquest of that country, in 1762,
they became nearly extinct, the Hudson's Bay
Company, and other British traders, monopolising
almost the whole fur commerce of North America.
In a few years the Canadian trade began to revive,
but under British merchants and under a different
system. The old French system of licences was
abolished, as inconsistent with the principles of
free trade; and spirituous liquors were allowed as
an article of barter, from a knowledge of the ungovernable propensity of the Indians to that luxury,
which they would make any sacrifice of property
to obtain.
Various expeditions were fitted out by separate
individuals, and sometimes by separate rival part- ners, who pursued their own interests without
fear or scruple, and seemed to have only two objects in view,—their own advantage and the injury
of their competitors. The consequences were, licentiousness, feuds, and excesses of every kind
in those regions so far distant from the reach of
all legal restraint. The Indians, too, by intoxication, and the vicious example and incentives of
the Coweurs des hois, and other agents, became
quarrelsome, knavish, and reckless. At last, the
natives, who were engaged by different contending
parties to attack each other, threatened to make
common cause and extirpate the traders. These
accumulated evils, the result of excessive competition, brought the trade to the lowest ebb, and to
save it from ruin several eminent merchants formed
a junction, to carry it on in partnership, in 1783.
This plan seemed to work well; and similar associations were subsequently formed with success.
At last there was an amalgamation of all in one
grand association; and this was formed in 1805,
the famous North-West Company, which for many
years exercised so much power, and threatened the
destruction of the Hudson's Bay Company, which
had been chartered since 1670.
The management  of this Company was vested 16
in partners, who had various trading posts established far and wide through the interior. Several
of the partners resided in Montreal and Quebec
to manage the affairs of the Company ; they were
called agents, and were persons of great importance:
the other partners took their stations at the interior posts, where they remained throughout the
winter, to superintend the intercourse with the various tribes of Indians, and were called wintering
partners. The goods destined for this wide and
wandering traffic with the Indians were stored in
the Company's warehouses in Montreal, and thence
conveyed by boats up the numerous rivers and lakes
that intersect this vast region, and by portages, or
land-carriage ways.* Though this Company was
at first but a spontaneous association of merchants,
yet when it became regularly organised, admission into it became extremely difficult. A candidate had to undergo a long probation, and to
rise slowly by his merits. He began at an early
age as clerk, and served an apprenticeship of seven
* It must be observed, that portage means a land carriageway, when, in consequence of the impracticability of the
rivers, from cataracts, or other obstructions, canoes, goods,
and all must be borne overland, until another navigable part
be reached. 17
years, for which, besides his clothing, equipment,
and expenses, he received £100. His probation
was generally passed in the interior trading posts,
subject to all the uncertainties and hardships incidental to a life in so wild a region. When he
had served his apprenticeship, he received a salary
commensurate with his deserts, and was eligible
to a partnership in the Company, though years,
perhaps his fife, may have passed away before he
attained that object of his toils and ambition.
Most of the clerks were young men of good families from Scotland, — thrifty, hardy, bold, and
persevering, and generally well calculated for the
difficult duties they were required to discharge.
The principal partners, or agents, who resided in
Montreal and Quebec, formed a kind of commercial aristocracy. From early associations, and a
community of pursuit and interest, the partners
were closely banded together; and their union,
• energy, and wealth, gave them great influence with
the government, which often procured immunity for
crimes committed by their officials and servants.
They held a general meeting every summer at
Fort William, near the grand portage, at the
north-western extremity of Lake Superior. Here
they discussed and arranged the affairs of the pre- CTiCT^TwStS^Pitf^
m f
f p I
Ceding year, and laid down the plans of operation
for" the next. Here too the clerks, and principal
servants, assembled to receive their instructions;
and a succession of festivities was kept up for
several days. No system could be better devised
to infuse activity into every department, and spread
the influence of the Company; and some idea
may be formed of the extensive range which their
operations embraced, from the circumstance that,
in the plenitude of their power, they employed no
less than 2000 voyageurs, or boatmen, at average
wages of forty pounds a year each. They extended the Fur trade into regions previously unexplored, and opened new and extensive markets
for the commercial industry, enterprise, and manufacturing industry of the Empire, and so took formal and permanent possession of districts not occupied by the subjects of any other power, among
which the most important was Columbia.
The impetus, and almost new character which"
they gave to the prosecution of the Fur trade—
their encroachments on the Hudson's Bay Company,
whom they not merely wished to outrival, but determined to crush—their subsequent amalgamation
with that Company; and the great and lasting influence which this amalgamation has had for com- 19
mercial good, render it necessary to enter somewhat
into detail on their proceedings.
There were three distinct differences between the
two Companies which deserve to be noticed. The
Hudson's Bay Company had received a royal grant,
confirmed by Acts of Parliament, of the vast extent of territory within, or bordering on, all the
waters that run into Hudson's Bay. It is true the
limits were not strictly defined, but they were intelligible. Having, within their own territories,
ample range for the pursuit of their trade, they
had no incentive for encroachment on foreign territory. But the North-west Company, being a
voluntary association, had no field of operation to
which they could lay any legal claim,—they were
barely tolerated by the law; and were therefore
obliged to try their fortune wherever they could.
2nd. The general practice of the Hudson's Bay
Company was to remain at their factories on the
coast: to these the natives resorted from the interior to trade, coming down the lakes and rivers in
spring to dispose of the produce of the winter
hunt, and returning in autumn with their supplies
of English manufacture, which they received in exchange. But the North-west Company, having no
such established marts,  their  servants  penetrated /
the very recesses of the wilderness, where they established stations, and huxtered with the natives
at their homes.
3rd.   The officers and servants of the Hudson's
Bay Company were paid regular salaries; were confined to  certain  localities,  and  had  a prescribed
routine of duty to perform.    But the officials of
the   North-west   Company  were   very   differently
circumstanced :   they were all, from the nature of
their engagements, and a principle of self interest,
speculators, and sons of enterprise.     They became
valuable to the Company only in proportion to the
success of their  exertions, and on  this depended
their reward and their hopes. *   Sometimes, indeed,
the  officials of the  Hudson's   Bay Company were
sent into the interior,  but this was an exception,
not & rule : whereas, the general rule of the Northwest   Company was to despatch their agents   into
the interior, and any location at head-quarters was
the exception.
The North-west Company having been fully organised and prepared for operation, they proceeded
at once to business with great promptitude and
vigour; and though they were, it must be owned,
not very scrupulous as to means, yet they effected
themselves, or were the primary cause in effecting, n
great objects. Before their time, the Hudson's
Bay Company was ignorant of the localities and
capabilities of even its own territories ; but now,
since its range of knowledge has been enlarged,
and its spirit of trade invigorated, by its fusion
with the North-west Company, the entire of the
northern continent has been explored, from the
confines of Canada and California to the Pole;
and all its resources discovered. The North-west
Company also performed great services to the Imperial Government during the late American war, by
the employment of their servants and treasures,
and their zeal in rousing the Indians.
The trade of the old Hudson's Bay Company was
generally carried on with ease, quietness, honesty,
and regularity. They had well understood engagements with the Indians, which were on both sides
punctually fulfilled; and on both sides there was
confidence and trust. The Company often gave
goods in advance, and the Indians never imagined
that the visits of the white man Would be attended
with perfidy or pillage.
As a proof of Indian good faith, it may be
sufficient to state, that in the year 1775, Mr. Fro-
bisher, a Canadian enterpriser, having penetrated
into regions previously unexplored by his country- 22
men, met a party of Indians, with their canoes
full of valuable furs, bound for Fort Churchill, one
of the factories at Hudson's Bay, and that he
found great difficulty in inducing them to deal
with him, even for a small portion. The difficulty
was, that they were going to fulfil their engagements, in paying a contracted debt, for which
their cargo was but little more than an equivalent.
A few years after, a Mr. Pond, who wintered
among them, having collected a greater quantity
of furs than he could carry away at a time, left
the surplus in his hut; and on his return next
season, found them undisturbed. Such was Indian
integrity at that time ! But one of the first efforts
made by the North-west Company was to break up
that slow mode of commerce, and introduce a quick,
haphazard, and exciting sort of traffic among the
Indians at their homes. This plan, from the natural indolence of the natives, unwilling to undergo
the toils and perils of long journeys, and from
their appetite for spirituous liquors, introduced as
an article of barter, succeeded. The Company for
a time, obtained an abundance of furs ; but this
abundance led to want.
The best season for hunting the fur-bearing animals is winter, when the fur is in its prime,    In 23
summer, the fur is of inferior quality; and this,
too, is the season when they rear their young.
For both reasons it was desirable that the hunting
should be suspended during the summer months.
Accordingly, the summer season was selected for
the distant voyages of the hunters to the Hudson's
Bay Company's factories, for the purposes of traffic. Under this system, no furs were brought
home but those of the best quality; and as the
breed was preserved during summer, the supply was
plentiful. But when the servants of the Northwest Company went to reside in the interior, the
natives were tempted to abandon their commerce
with the Hudson's Bay Company, and to deal
with them, in the prospect of superior advantage.
They accordingly continued the hunt throughout
the year, and killed the cub and the full-grown
beaver alike. To aggravate this evil, the Company,
dissatisfied with even this supply, employed young
men from the Indian villages in Canada, to go
into the interior as hunters, paying them at a
stipulated rate for the furs procured. These, hav-
ing no families to maintain, and having no other
employment to pursue, and having besides no interest in preserving the breed of lucrative animals,
destroyed them indiscriminately—young and old— Win
U ?
in season and out of season. The consequence
was, that districts, which once yielded those valuable animals in abundance were nearly stripped* of
them; and that the home market was drugged—
(and while such a system is suffered to continue,
must ever be drugged)—with inferior articles. The
miserable natives at last saw the impending ruin :
—they murmured, but dared not resist.
It was necessary for the maintenance of this
Company's monopoly throughout a vast extent of
the most valuable Beaver countries, that they
should employ a great retinue of servants—greater
than the legitimate profits of the trade could afford—and to allow them ostensibly high wages.
But in reality the wages were low, for the Company
reimbursed themselves by speculating on the extravagance, dissipation, and necessities of their
dependants; for at every station they kept a sort
of tally-shop for credit, .where the men were obliged
to purchase all the articles they required at an exorbitantly high price. As these were generally a
reckless race, and had credit to the* amount of
their wages, and even more, they were unable to
hoard any provision for their old age, or for their
families, who were left in a state of destitution.
The  consequence was, that  they were constantly 25
in debt, and in a state of bondage to their employers, there being no alternative left them but a
periodical return to their employment on the terms
prescribed to them, or a jail.
From one article, a judgment may be formed
of the rest. They were much addicted to the
use of spirituous liquors, which, independently
of the luxury and gratification, were in some
measure necessary; considering the severity of
their labours, and the nature of the climate.
Spirits which't cost the Company at Montreal
little more' than two dollars per gallon, were sold
in the interior to their servants at eight dollars
per quart! So that when a servant became addicted to drinking spirits, the Company sustained
no loss by adding £20 to his wages. Another cause of keeping the servants in debt and
subjection, was the circulation of a .depreciated
currency, called North-west Currency, in the interior, in which money was reckoned only at one
half the value it bore in Canada. The men who
were engaged at Montreal had their wages calculated according to the established legal currency,
but every article which they received in the interior was charged according to the North-west currency.     The Company   also   continued   to   bring the Indians within their power, by speculating on
their necessities. Those who inhabited the more
sterile parts of the country, to the east of lake
Winnipeck, and also to the north, on Churchhill
river, and in Athabasca, which are rocky and full
of swamps, well adapted for the habitation of the
beaver, but scanty of buffalo and game, were poor,
scattered, and consequently timid and feeble.
From these the most valuable furs were obtained,
and these the Company intimidated to deal with
themselves exclusively.
After the complete organisation of the Northwest Company and the expulsion of all private
speculators from the Fur trade t of Canada, the
Hudson's Bay Company became their only rival to
the North and West of Lake Superior. From
that time the hostile spirit which had been fostered
for years among the clerks and servants of the old
rival Companies that became now fused into one
great whole in the North-west Company, was all
concentrated against the Hudson's Bay Company;
and a systematic plan not only was formed to drive
their servants out of all the valuable Beaver countries ; but hopes were entertained of reducing that
Company to so low an ebb, as in time to induce
them to transfer their   chartered  rights  to  their 27
formidable competitors. As the contests between
these powerful rivals filled a large space in the
commercial transactions of British America, and
as they eventually led to a great result—the absorption of the North-west Company in the Hudson's Bay Company, and the undivided sway of
the latter Association—it is necessary to mention
a few instances out of a long series of aggressions,
in order to convey an idea of the mode of conducting commercial competition, when a spirit of
self-interest prevailed, in regions remote from the
restraints of established law.
In 1806, Mr. W. Corrigal, a trader, in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company, was stationed with a few men at a place called Bad-lake,
within the limit of Albany Factory (in the Hudson's Bay territory), and near a post occupied
by a much larger body of men commanded by
Mr. Haldane, a partner in the North-west Company. Five of the Canadians in his service,
watching their opportunity, broke into Mr. Cor-
rigal's house at night, when he and his men were
in bed. They immediately secured all the firearms they could find, and, threatening to shoot
Mr. Corrigal if he made any resistance, rifled the
store-house,   and   took    away   480   beaver   skins.
-a.'..'j\ ...•   - ' ■• i|j-—  '"'- .#///(
I  I
Corrigal soon after Went to Haldane, and demanded
the restoration of the property. Haldane answered
that " he came for furs, and furs he was determined to have." These furs were afterwards carried to the grand portage, and formed a part of
the Company's returns for that year. A similar
attack was made in the same year on another station, at the Red Lake, also under the charge of
Mr. Corrigal, and 50 beaver skins, together with a
large quantity of cloth, brandy, tobacco, ammunition, &c. carried off.
In the autumn of this year, J. Crear, a trader,
in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company,
(also on the establishment of Alb%ny Factory,) occupied a post with five men at Big Fall, near Lake
Winnipeg. One evening a party of Canadians, under
the command of Mr. Alexander M'Donnell, then
a clerk of the North-west Company, encamped at
a short distance. • On the following morning
M'Donnell and his party came to Crear's house, in
the absence of four of his men, and, charging
him with having traded furs from an Indian who
was indebted to the North-west Company, insisted
on their being given up to him. Crear refused;
and on this, M'Donnell broke open the warehouse, and struck Crear in the face with the butt- 29
end of his gun, inflicting on him a severe wound,
and stabbed his remaining servant in the arm
with a dagger. They then carried off the furs,
a quantity of provisions, and a canoe. On the
following February, one of M'Donnell's assistants, at the head of a party, attacked Crear's
house, beat him and his men, and carried off a
great number of valuable furs. They then compelled Crear, with threats of instant death, to sign
■ a paper acknowledging that he voluntarily gave up
the furs, as not being properly his.
On another occasion, William Linkwater, in the
service of the Hudson's Bay Company, was returning to his station at Rein-deer Lake, bringing on a
sledge a quantity of valuable furs, which he had
traded from the Indians. He was met, near his
own house, by Mr. Duncan Campbell, one of the
partners of the North-west Company, at the head
of a body of men, and was called on to give
them up. On his refusal, Campbell cut the traces
of the sledge, beat him, and bore off the furs, for
which no compensation was ever after made.
The North-west Company, having been established some years at Isle a la Crosse, near
the borders of the Athabasca country (but within
the   territories    claimed   by   the   Hudson's    Bay mikWiS^^^^^^^msm^       Hi
Company under their charter), had obtained
what they called the attachment of the Indians:
i. e., they reduced them to a state of awe and submission. To this place Mr. Peter Fidler was
sent, in 1809, with a party of eighteen men, from
Churchill Factory, to establish a trading post. The
Company's officers had, on many former occasions, attempted to establish a trade in this place,
which is the centre of a country abounding in beaver ; but they were always obliged to relinquish the
attempt. In order the more effectually to overawe
the Indians from dealing with Mr. Fidler, and to
deter him from any attempt to protect his customers, the North-west Company* reinforced their
post with an extra number of Canadians. A
watch-house was built at his door; so that no Indian could enter unobserved. Here a party of
professed battailleurs, or bullies, were stationed,
and employed not only to watch and scare away
the Indians, but to give every possible annoyance
day and night to the servants of the Hudson's
Bay Company. Their fire-wood was stolen—they
were perpetually obstructed in hunting for provisions—the produce of their garden was destroyed
—their fishing lines stolen in the night time; and
their nets, on which they chiefly relied for subsis- 31
tence, cut to pieces. At length, growing bolder
with success, they issued a formal mandate, that
not one of the Hudson's Bay Company's servants
should stir out of the house.
The consequence was that Fidler and his party
were driven away, and the Canadians burnt the hut
to the ground. It was not only the prosecution of
trade, on the part of the Hudson's Bay Company, that
their rivals thwarted, but even attempts to explore
the country. This Mr. Fidler had been despatched
in 1807 to explore a part of the country through
which a more advantageous communication may
be opened into Athabasca. He was employed
merely as a surveyor; yet he was tracked on his
route, and interrupted in every way; and the Indian who acted as his guide was attacked, for his
breach of duty to the North-west Company, and
most cruelly maltreated.
To these, and many similar outrages, the difficulty of obtaining legal redress gave, to a certain
extent, impunity. It is true there was an act
passed by the Imperial Parliament, in 1803, called
the " Canadian Jurisdiction Act," to repress and
punish such crimes ; and it was passed in consequence of the complaints made of the many as-
1 Et
saults of the servants of the Old and New Northwest Companies on each other, when these companies were violent competitors,—before their union.
By this Act, the courts of law in Canada were
allowed to take cognisance of .any offences committed within the "Indian territories."
But though Canadians contending against Car
nadians may not have been brought under the
operation of this Act, yet when the struggle and
the contention came to be between the Canadians
united on the one side, (after the junction of
the Companies,) and the servants of the Hudson's
Bay Company on the other, it would have been
next to an impossibility for a Hudson's Bay Company complainant—a stranger—to obtain redress
at Montreal for an outrage committed by a Canadian, perhaps at a distance of three or four thousand miles. The Canadians were in possession of
all the water and land passages to Montreal—
their friends and employers were then willing and
able to assist them, and they could have no lack
of witnesses. But how could a servant of the
Hudson's Bay Company, who had no command of
the line of route, and who had no intercourse with
Canada, and no agent there, convey his witnesses
BJJ 33
safely such a distance, and by such a route;
and how could he hope for equal facility of maintaining his cause in Montreal ?
There was only one case brought to trial for
twelve years. This case, if truly reported, furnishes an example of gross oppression. In 1809,
Mr. W. Corrigal, of the Hudson's Bay Company,
occupied a post near Eagle Lake, to the north
of Lake Superior. A party of the North West
Company established, on the 15th of September,
an encampment about forty yards from his house,
under the command of Mr. vEneas MTOonnell, a
clerk of the latter Company. On the evening of
their encampment, an Indian arrived in his canoe,
bringing a cargo of furs, in part payment of a
debt which he owed Corrigal; and remained at
his house all night. Next morning, as he was
returning home with some goods—such as clothing,
ammunition for his winter's hunt, &c, M'Don-
nell, with two of his servants, went down to the
wharf, and seized on the loaded canoe, on the
alledged ground that he was indebted to the Northwest Company. Corrigal, [witnessing the occurrence, sent down two of his men to secure the
canoe. M'Donnell drew his sword and severely
wounded one of the men—Tate.    This scene soon brought up reinforcements from both sides; and a
general   fight   ensued,   during   which   M'Donnell
did  great   execution   with   his   sword.     Corrigal's
party were   obliged  to   retreat   in a sad   plight.
In the pursuit, M'Donnell was about to cut down
a person named Mowatt, whom he had previously
wounded, when Mowatt turned round and shot him
on the spot.    This put a stop, then, to hostilities.
The North-west Company's servants despatched couriers to their friends in the neighbouring posts, and
on the next day assembled in large bodies before
Corrigal's house, which he had in the mean time
barricaded, demanding, with threats of instant destruction to the whole  party in case of  refusal,
that   the person who sltot   M'Donnell   should be
given up.    Mowatt then stepped forward, and said
that he was the  man, and would do it again in
his  own defence.     He then surrendered  himself,
and it was   agreed that   two of his   party,   Tate
and Leask, should be taken with him, as his witnesses, straight to Montreal;   but if he were detained till spring, then one of them was to be sent
back to   Eagle   Lake,   and Mr.   Corrigal himself
was to go to Montreal as his witness.    They accordingly were taken to the North-west Company's
encampment, where Mowatt was placed in irons. 35
They were thence removed to a station called
Lac La Pluie, where they were detained till
the 26th of February, Mowatt being kept all
the time in irons, and his witnesses subjected to
great suffering. On the 26th of February Leask
was sent back, and Mr. Corrigal set out. He,
Tate, and the prisoner arrived at Fort William
on the 9th of June. On the 21st, Mr. A. Shaw,
a partner, and a magistrate for the Indian territory, under the Act of 1803, arrived from Montreal, and ordered Mowatt to be summoned before
him. Mowatt refused to answer any questions,
saying he wished to be taken at once to Montreal and placed on his trial. He was ordered
back to the close and solitary dungeon in which
he had been confined, and placed under heavy
irons. Here he was detained till the 17th of
August, though canoes were constantly plying between that place and Montreal. When he was
taken out to be removed to Montreal, he fell down
twice from weakness, and cut his face with his
handcuffs. During his confinement it was feared
by the jailor that the solitude and privation were
driving him to delirium, and his razors were removed.
Corrigal   and   Tate   arrived   soon   after,   and to their surprise, were arrested, as accessories to
the murder. Thus was the prisoner deprived of
his only means of defence; and two men, really
innocent of the act, who went down according to
previous agreement, as witnesses—free and uncharged,
a distance of 1500 miles in his behalf, were entrapped into a prison. The three were penniless,
unknown, and unfriended in Montreal. It was
not till the end of November that the directors
of the Hudson's Bay Company, who at that time
had no agent or correspondent in Montreal, or
any place in Canada, heard of the prosecution thus
carried on against their servants; and they then
took steps for their defence by engaging counsel.
The prisoners remained in prison about six months;
and during most of that time endured great hardship. They were indicted for murder. The grand
jury returned a true bill against Mowatt, but ignored the bills against the others. At Mowatt's
trial the influence of the North-west Company
was evident. The jury was generally believed to
have been packed; and more than one indication
of manifest partiality was exhibited from the bench.
Though it was clearly proved that M'Donnell began the attack without provocation; and that
Mowatt fired in self defence, he was found guilty of manslaughter, and sentenced to be imprisoned
for six months (having been already in close confinement for eighteen months), and branded in the
hand with a red-hot iron.
Such are the leading facts of this memorable
case, about which much has been written, and
which awakened the attention of the British public to one of the modes of carrying on the Canadian fur trade. From the bitter spirit in which
these contests were carried on, and the criminations and recriminations so liberally and boldly
dealt out on both sides, it is not easy now to arrive at a clear conclusion as to the relative amount
of delinquency of either party. The weight of
evidence, however, seems to incline in favour of
the Hudson's Bay Company. They had no occasion, at least were not under the same necessity
of resorting to violent means for securing a profitable trade as their rivals. They had a Charter
which gave them great advantages; they had not
an equal force to present against their rivals; and
besides, the scene of operations lay at a great distance from their head-quarters. But, however,
good came from the evil : it led to a junction,
and the undisturbed and salutary prosecution of
the whole trade.
I Establishment of the Hudson's Bay Company's settlement,
under Lord Selkirk, at Red River—destruction of it by
the North-west Company.
It may not be uninteresting to give an account
of a very judicious and laudable attempt made
by the Hudson's Bay Company, to establish an
agricultural colony, as the nucleus, from which,
in progress of time, civilised society would spread
in the territories of the Hudson's Bay Company—an attempt which, unhappily, was marred
by the influences of avarice and jealousy. The
company had long been of opinion that, as the
country over which they held unlimited jurisdiction contained so many natural resources, and was
capable of yielding other riches besides furs, it
Would be desirable, for many reasons, to establish
colonies in the interior; for, independently of the
advantages accruing to the settlers themselves for
acquiring the means of independent subsistence,
perhaps  denied  to  them in their native country, 39
the example of ell regulated communities, shewing a respect for law, order, integrity, and religion,
would operate beneficially in the commercial intercourse between the rude natives and the licentious
traders, But to found such colonies in a country
so far removed from any civilised establishments
was a matter surrounded with difficulties. It required persons of property, influence, and judgment
to undertake the management of the plan.
Lord Selkirk, who possessed considerable spirit of
enterprise, and_ acquired some note as a writer on
colonial emigration, entered into a negotiation with
the company.     They accordingly, on condition of
speedy settlement, made to him a   grant of land
in a salubrious and fertile district, where the land
was   abundantly   supplied  with buffalo  and other
wild cattle, and the lakes and rivers with excellent
fish.    He commenced then, in 1812, a settlement
at Red River, near its junction  with the Assini-
boin River, to the south of Lake Winnipeg.   Miles
M'Donnell, Esq., formerly a captain in the queen's
rangers, was selected to  conduct the undertaking,
and was, at the same time, appointed governor of the
district, under the authority conferred by the company's charter.   Though the settlement was formed
in a district which had been exhausted of valuable 40
furs by the extirpation'of the beaver; and though the
settlers were prevented, by the very tenure of their
lands, from interfering in the fur trade, and were
thus exempted from the suspicion of rivalry; yet,
extraordinary as   it   may   appear,  the North-west
Company, from the very moment  that the Hudson's Bay Company engaged in the plan of forming   an agricultural settlement  upon an extended
scale within their territories, avowed their determined
hostility to the settlement; or to any execution, however partial, of such a project.    As they wished to
hold exclusive possession of the country, they were
jealous of any establishment that could be formed
within the range of their monopoly, where habits
of sobriety, and principles of moral integrity would
operate as a check on the conduct of their servants ;   and they resolved to destroy   it.
The settlement presented every appearance of
growing prosperity. Emigrants were arriving; and
the Indiaus evinced a friendly disposition. But
in the autumn of 1814, after a general meeting of
the partners of the North-west Company, held at
Fort William, near Lake Superior, an expedition
was fitted out against it. The intentions of the
North-west Company can be judged of by a letter
from Mr. Alexander M'Donnell, one of the partners,
■II    I 41
dated August 5, and addressed to a brother-in-law
of the Hon. William M'Gillwray, another of the
partners, residing in Montreal.
"You see myself, and our mutual friend Mr.
Cameron, so far on our way to commence open
hostilities against the enemy. Much is expected
from us. One thing certain is, that we will do
our best to defend what we consider our rights in
the interior. Nothing but the complete downfall of
the colony will satisfy some, by fair or foul means
—a most desirable object if it can be effected. So
here is at them with all my heart and energy."
Their first plan of proceeding was to seduce or
frighten away as many of the colonists and their
servants as they could; and raise the Indians to
destroy the settlement. Previously to their setting
out, Messrs. M'Donnell and Cameron provided
themselves with the uniforms of British military
officers, and administered an oath in Fort William
to their followers to obey'all the orders of their
commander for the defence of the interests of the
company in the North-west. On their arriving at
Fort Gibraltar, a fort belonging to the North-west
Company, within about a mile of the Red River
settlement, Cameron assumed the style and title
of   commander,   alledging   that   government   had
11 .-jfigtsiaKSJ
conferred that appointment upon him, and issued
proclamations in that character. Their first step
was to excite discontent among the settlers: and
several of them were induced, by prospects of reward or by intimidation, to desert, and pillage the
Settlement; which they did; for among other articles, they took off nine pieces of artillery, with a
quantity of muskets and ammunition, sent out by the
board of ordnance for its defence; Cameron and his
party being posted under arms close by ready to support the plunderers if resisted. The settlement being
thus deprived of its principal means of defence,
and harrassed for months by a series of other aggressions and losses, it was at last determined, in
June 1815, that Camerpn should attack it with
his whole force. This attack, followed up by others,
having failed, though attended with much damage
to the colony, the assailants brought the artillery
to batter down the buildings. Then at last the
governor Was obliged to surrender, and he was sent
a prisoner to Montreal, under a warrant from a
partner of the North-west Company on a charge of
having prohibited the exportation of provisions; and
having detained some bags of pemican (a preparation of dried buffalo meat) belonging to the company.    The   remainder  of   them   were   expelled; *
their cattle slaughtered ;   and their buildings  levelled down.
Messrs. M'Donnell and Cameron were treated
with great distinction by the company, and in
approbation of their services were retained in their
formef posts.
But in Autttmn, the colonists who had been
driven out returned with an accession to their
numbers, partly from Scotland, and partly from
Canada, under the conduct of Mr. Colin Robertson,
a gentleman in the service of the Hudson's Bay
Company, and resumed the occupation of their
fields at Red River. Soon after, Robert Semple,
Esq., who had been appointed governor over the
whole of the Hudson's Bay territories, arrived at
Red River. The North-west Company now felt
that a more vigorous effort than the former could
alone enable them to destroy the renovated settlement. The previous stratagems, of sowing disaffection, and influencing the colonists, were now
impracticable. They were committed in open warfare with the Hudson's Bay Company; their sole
hopes then lay in superior physical power, An
unusually large force was collected, in the spring
of 1816, at North-west Fort, on the river Qui
Appelle, within the Hudson's Bay territories, under ilWfjgSSSSSSSgial^gai
the command of Alexander M'Donnell. To form
this force, requisitions had been made upon various
forts of the North-west Company, to a very great
distance; all of whom contributed their quotas. The
greatest energy was exhibited by the different partners of the Company. Mr. Duncan Campbell, a
partner who commanded at Fort Cumberland, in
despatching his reinforcements, told them that it
was indispensable that they should have the Governor, Mr. Semple, and Mr. Robertson, or their
The Hudson's Bay Company had a post likewise on the river Qui Appelle, in the vicinity
of the post where M'Donnell commanded. This
river is one of the tributaries to the Red River.
The post established there by the Hudson's Bay
Company was one of those denominated provision
posts; and from it large quantities of provisions
were sent down in boats to the Red River for the
use of the colony, and the company. Governor
Semple hearing at Red River that the North-west
Company were collecting a large force at Qui Appelle, and fearing they would prevent the arrival
at the settlement of the provisions expected from
that quarter, despatched a Mr. Pambrun with an
escort, to ensure their safe arrival.     This party, 45
on their return with the provisions, as well as
a quantity of furs and other property, were attacked
by a superior force, at an intricate part of the
river, where resistance was hopeless—were made
prisoners, and carried back, with the cargo, to
McDonnell's   position at Qui Appelle,
McDonnell, when all the expected levees had arrived, set out for the attack of the colony, and on
his way sacked the Hudson's Bay Company's boats at
Brandon House. Having arrived at a place called
Portages des Prairies, about sixty miles from the
colony, he halted there with the main body of his
forces, and sent forward a detachment of about
seventy horsemen, under the command of Cuthbert
Grant, The Governor, Mr. Semple, having learned
that an armed body of men was at hand, and capturing some of the settlers, proceeded with about thirty
attendants to meet them, hoping by his presence
and authority, to prevent hostilities, especially as
he was ignorant of their number, and real intentions. He was soon surrounded and summoned
to surrender: on his refusal he and his party were
instantly slain, with the exception of one who was
kept a prisoner, and four who escaped, in the tumult,
across the river. Grant employed the prisoner to
induce the inhabitants of  the   settlement, and of 46
the Hudson's Bay Company's fort attached to it,
to make an entire and unconditional surrender, as
the only means of escaping from destruction. There
was no alternative: they were reduced to utter
helplessness and despair: and accordingly they surrendered every thing, begging only for their lives.
The certificate of protection granted to each in<h%
vidual ran thus:-—•
" This is to certify that behaved honourably
to the North-west Company."
Cuthbert Grant,
Clerk to the North-west Company.
This document shows* that either real or supposed interference with the interests of the company constituted, originally, the chief crime of the
settlers. These survivors were immediately embarked in canoes, to the number of 200, including
women and children, with a very insufficient stock
of provisions for their journey, to Hudson's Bay.
Thus was the downfall of the colony, according to
M'Donnell's intimation in his letter, effected. The
majority of the sufferers were Scotch, and the conductors of the attack were their own countrymen
It shows what the love of gain can do. 47
Trappers, or beaver hunters—Voyageurs, or boatmen.
In the old times of the Canadian fur trade when
the trade in furs was chiefly pursued about the
lakes and rivers, the expeditions were, in a great degree, carried on in batteaux and canoes. But a
totally different class now sprung up—the " mountaineers"—the traders and trappers that scale the
vast mountain chains, and .pursue their hazardous
vocation amidst their wild recesses—moving from
place to place on horseback—exposed not alone
to the perils of the wilderness, but to the perils
of attack from fierce Indians, to whom it has become as favourite an exploit to harass and way-lay
a band of trappers with their pack-horses, as-it is
to the Arabs of the desert to plunder a caravan.
The equestrian exercises in which they are constantly engaged—the nature of the country they
traverse—vast plains and mountains pure and exhilarating in their atmospheric qualities—seem to
1 make them, physically and mentally, a more lively,
vigorous, daring and enduring race than the fur
traders and trappers of former days, who generally
had huts or tents to shelter them from the inclemency of the seasons—were seldom exposed to
the hostility of the natives, and generally were
within reach of supplies from the settlements.
There is, perhaps, no class of men on the earth
who lead a life of more continued exertion, danger
and excitement; and who are more enamoured of
their occupations, than the free trappers of the
wild regions of the west. No toil, no danger,
no privation, can turn the trapper aside from his
pursuit. If his meal is not ready in time, he takes
his rifle—hies to the forest — shoots his game—
lights his fire; and cooks his repast. With his
horse and his rifle he is independent of the world,
and spurns its restraints. In vain may the most
vigilant and cruel savages beset his path—in vain
may rocks, and precipices, and wintry torrents
oppose his progress; let but a single track of a
beaver meet his eye, and he forgets all danger,
and defies all difficulties. At times he may be
seen, with his traps on his shoulder, buffeting his
way across rapid streams amidst floating blocks of
ice:   at other times may -he be seen, with his traps 49
slung on his back, clambering the most rugged
mountains—scaling or descending the most frightful precipices—searching by routes inaccessible to
horse, and never before trodden by white man, for
springs and lakes unknown to his comrades, where
he may meet with his favourite game.
This class of hunters are generally Canadians
by birth, and of French descent; who, after being
bound to serve the traders for a certain number
of years and receive wages, or hunt on shares,
then continued to hunt and trap on their own account, trading with the company like the Indians;
hence they are called free men. Having passed
their youth in the wilderness, in constant intercourse with the Indians, and removed from civilised society, they lapse with natural facility into
the habits of savage life. They generally intermarry with the natives, and, like them, have often
a plurality of wives. Wardens of the wilderness,
according to the vicissitudes of the seasons, the
migrations of animals, and the plenty or scarcity
of game, they lead a precarious and unsettled existence, exposed to sun and storm, and all kinds
of hardships, until they resemble the Indians in
complexion, as well as in tastes and habits. From
time to time they bring their peltries to the trading
1 «KSSE*5SC-
if I
houses of the company, and barter them for such
articles as they may require. When Montreal
was the great emporium of the fur trade, some
of them would occasionally return, after an absence
of many years, to visit his old associates. There
they would squander the long and hard earned
fruits of their labours; and after the fit of revelry
was over go back to their former toils, and the
freedom of the forest. Some few of them, however,
retained a little of the thrift and forethought of
the civilised man, and became wealthy among their
improvident neighbours; their wealth consisting
chiefly of large bands of horses, scattered over the
prairies in the vicinity of their abodes.
There was another c&ss—the native Indians of
Canada, who had partially conformed to the habits
of civilisation, and received the doctrines of Christianity, under the influence of the French colonists
and the Roman Catholic priests, who certainly
diffused more of the knowledge and principles of
the Christian religion among the North American Indians than the Protestant missionaries have.
These half civilised Indians retained some of the
good, and of the evil qualities of their original
stock. Though they generally professed the Roman
Catholic religion, it was mixed with some of their 51
ancient superstitions, especially their belief in omens
and charms. These men were often employed for
a stated time by the company as trappers and
canoemen, though on lower terms than were allowed to the white men, but generally in the end
they became free trappers.
Voyageurs.—As this class of functionaries was,
and is indispensable in the prosecution of the fur
trade; and as they form one of those distinct and
strong marked orders of people springing up in
that vast continent out of geographical circumstances, or the varied pursuits, habitudes, and
origins of the population, the following sketch
of a few of their leading characteristics> may
be interesting and instructive. The voyageurs
form a kind of fraternity in the Canadas, like the
arrieros, or carriers, in Spain, and, like them, are
employed in long internal expeditions of travel and
traffic; but with this difference, that the arrieros
travel by land, with mules and horses, the voyageurs by water, with batteaux, or boats, and canoes.
The voyageurs may be said to have sprung up
out of the fur trade, having been originally employed by the early French merchants in their
trading expeditions through the labyrinth of
rivers and lakes of the boundless interior.     They [p
were coeval with the coureurs des bois, or rangers
of the woods, already noticed, and like them, in
the intervals of their long and laborious expeditions were prone to pass their time in idleness and
revelry about the trading posts, or settlements—
squandering their hard earnings in heedless conviviality ; and rivalling their neighbours the Indians
in indolent indulgence and an improvident disregard to to-morrow. Their dress is generally half
civilised, half savage. They wear a capot, or outside coat, made of a blanket—a striped cotton shirt
—cloth trowsers, or leathern leggins—moccassins, or
deerskin shoes, without a sole, and ornamented on
the upper; and a belt of variegated worsted, from
which are suspended a tknife, tobacco-pouch, and
other implements. Their language is of the same
pebald character, being a French patois, embroidered
with Indian and English words and phrases. Their
fives are passed in wild and extensive rovings in
the service of individuals, but more especially of
the fur traders. They are generally of French
descent, and inherit much of the gaiety and light-
heartedness of their ancestors; being full of anecdote and song, and ever ready for the dance.
They inherit, too, a fund of civility and complaisance: and instead of that hardness and grossness
fii 53
which men in laborious fife  are apt  to indulge
towards each other,  they   are naturally   obliging
and accommodating—interchanging kind offices,—
yielding each other assistance and comfort in every
emergency; and using the familiar and affectionate
appellations   of  "cousin,"   and  "brother,"   when
there is, in fact, no relationship.     Their natural
good will is probably heightened by a community
of adventure and hardship in their precarious and
wandering fife.    No men are more submissive to
their leaders and employers—more  capable of enduring hardship, or more  good humoured under
privations.     Never are they so happy as when on
long and rough expeditions, toiling up rivers, or
coasting lakes, on the borders of which they encamp at night, gossip round their fires, and bivouac
in the  open air.     They   are   dexterous boatmen,
vigorous and adroit with the oar and paddle, and
will row from  morning till night without a murmur.    The steersman often sings an old traditionary
French song, with some regular chorus, in which
they all join, keeping time with their oars:   and
if at any time they flag in spirits or relax in exertion, it is but necessary to strike up a song of
the kind to put them all in fresh spirits and ac- '<i^ms^s^^^smmnwm^w^^M^mcss^^i^SBSSi
EfPWHP—H" iWHiiiAliiiUffg^f*
tivity. The Canadian waters are vocal with these
songs, that have been echoed from mouth to mouth,
and transmitted from father to son, from the earliest
days of the colony; and it has a pleasing effect
to see, in a still, golden summer evening, a bat-
teaux gliding across the bosom of the lake, dipping its ears to the cadence of these quaint old
ditties, or sweeping along in full chorus, on a bright
sunny morning, down the transparent current of
one of the Canadian rivers.
When Canada passed under British domination,
and the old French trading houses were broken up,
the voyageurs, like the coureurs des bois, were for
a long time disheartened and disconsolate; and with
difficulty could reconcile ^themselves to the service
of the new comers, so different in manners, habits,
and language, from their former employers. By
degrees, hewever, they became accustomed to the
change; and at length came to consider the British
fur traders, and especially the North-west Company,
as the legitimate lords of creation,
I An instance," says W. Irving, " of the buoyant
temperament and professional pride of these people
was furnished in the gay and braggart style in
which a party of them arrived  at New York to join the enterprise.* They were determined to
regale and astonish the people of the " States"
with the sight of a Canadian boat and a Canadian
crew, They accordingly fitted up a large, but
light, bark canoe—such as is used in the fur trade
—transplanted it in a waggon from the banks of
the St. Lawrence to the shores of Lake Cham-
plain—traversed the lake in it from end to end
—hoisted it again in a waggon—-wheeled it off to
Lansingburg, and then launched it upon the waters of the Hudson. Down this river they plied
their course merrily on a fine summer's day, making
its banks resound, for the first time, with their old
French boat-songs—passing by the- villages with
whoop and halloo, so as to make the honest Dutch
farmers mistake them for a crew of savages. In
this way they swept in full song, and with regular
flourish of the paddle, round New York, in a still
summer evening, to the delight and admiration of
its inhabitants, who had never witnessed on their
waters a nautical apparition of the kind.
" But we are talking of things that are fast fading
away.   Mechanical invention is driving every thing
• The trading expedition  fitted out by  Mr. Foster for
the Columbia..
,f py.  ..  mm ^ijii^itife-   	 ^^^^^gw^^^™^^^^^^^^
poetical before it. The steam-boats, which are fast
dispelling the solitude, wildness, and romance of
our lakes and rivers, are proving as fatal to the
race of Canadian voyageurs, as they have been to
the boatmen on the Missisippi. They are no longer
the lords of our internal seas, and the great navigators of the wilderness. Their range is fast contracting to those remote waters, and shallow and obstructed rivers unvisited by the steam-boat. In the
course of years they will gradually disappear—their
songs will die away like the echoes they once
awakened; and the Canadian voyageurs will become
a forgotten race, or remembered, like their associates the Indians, among the poetical images of past
times, and as a theme for local and romantic as-
Without speculating as to the duration of their
future existence, (and unless steam makes rapids
strides, and produce wonderful changes,—" make
the rough ways smooth, and the crooked straight,"
—deepen shallows—level waterfalls ; and smoothen
rapids, in the streams, lakes, and rivers of British
America, their extirpation in the north west is not
likely soon to occur). I may observe, that however
much the romance and poetry of their pursuit,
and enterprise may decay,  their physical comforts 57
are likely to be greatly improved.   The system under which they so successfully played the part of
joyous adventurers, indefatigable fresh-water rovers,
has been changed; and for the better.    The whole
of the vast continent stretching from the Pacific
to the Atlantic, and from Lake Superior and the
Columbia to the Pole, save the strip of sea coast
occupied by the Russians on the North Pacific, is -
under the jurisdiction of the Hudson's Bay Company.   Throughout this immense region they have
stations  established at  convenient distances;   and
within the limits of the territories attached to each
station, the duties of the several bands of voyageurs
are generally confined.    They know their range of
adventure, where they are to halt, and what is to
be^ their final destination.    They are well paid and
well fed, and need have no care for to-morrow.
It is true they have less ardent spirits, but  they
have more substantial food.     They have less incentive  for speculation, but they have more certainty of pay.   They have less freedom, but more
security of person.
The following sketch of the fare of the voyageurs, and the other hard-working servants of the
company, at present, though applied to a peculiar
undertaking, will, however, in the main, hold good JMfftff
mp^Bw^^TOmmasffiBse^^^  -^gusiHi
about their treatment generally. I must premise
that animal food is their only subsistence often
in those remote regions; as they have neither
bread nor vegetables:—
<l On Christmas and New Year's days," says
Simpson, "we entertained our assembled people
with a dance, followed by a supper consisting of
the best fare we could command. By this time
we had, through our indefatigable exertions, accumulated two or three weeks' provisions in advance,
and no scarcity was experienced during the remainder of the season. The daily rations served
out to each man was increased from eight to ten,
and to some individuals twelve, pounds of venison,
or, when they could Jje got, four or five white-fish,
weighing from fifteen to twenty pounds. This
quantity of solid food, immoderate as it may appear, does not exceed the average standard of the
country; and ought certainly to satisfy the inordinate appetite of a French Canadian; yet there
was one of them who complained, he had nqt
enough, and did not scruple to help himself to
an additional supply whenever the opportunity offered—it would have taken twenty pounds of animal
food daily to satisfy him."
The company's servants are not less well clothed 59
and paid than they are fed. They are treated by
their immediate masters with a familiar kindness,
surpassing what I have ever seen elsewhere, even
in the United States; and their whole condition
affords the strongest possible contrast to the wretched
situation of the Russian " promuschlenicks," as described by Langsdaff. The nature of the climate
and the long journeys demand, it is true, hard labour by times; but it is labour voluntarily endured, and less physically severe than the compulsory trackings on the rivers of Russia and
China, while a great part of the year is spent in
comparative idleness; and if the voyageur finds
the fatigue and hardships too great, it rests with
himself to be released from them at the close of
his three years' contract.
The canoes generally used by the fur traders of
the north for navigating the intricate and often obstructed rivers, are between thirty and forty feet long,
and several feet in width, constructed of birch bark,
sewed with fibres of the roots of the Spruce tree,
and daubed with resin of the Pine, in place of
tar. These, though capable of sustaining a freight
of four tons each, can readily be carried on men's
shoulders. Canoes of this kind are generally managed by eight or ten men, two of whom are picked
-   • rr rift,wjaaOai veterans, who received double wages, and are stationed, one at the bow, the other at the stern, to
keep a look out, and to steer: they are termed the
foreman and the steersman. The rest, who ply the
paddles, are called middle men. When there is a
favourable breeze, the canoe is occasionally navigated with a sail. The lightness of such materials
as the canoes were made of—bark—and the utmost
vigilance, patience, and exertion, were necessary
for the intricate and difficult navigation in which
they were often employed. Sometimes the boat
would be exposed to frequent danger from floating
trees, and great masses of drift wood; or be impaled
on sunken trees, presenting a jagged or pointed
end above the surface of the water. Sometimes
the boat should be drawn by the hand, and by
grappling hooks, from one root or overhanging
tree to another, or drawn by towing fines, when
the shores were sufficiently clear to allow the men
to pass along the banks. Sometimes' a part of the
crew wOuld have to leap into the water at the
shallows, and wade along with the towing lines,
while their comrades on board assisted them with
oar and setting-pole. Sometimes the boat would
seem to be retained motionless, as if spell-bound,
opposite some point round which the current set 61
with violence, and with the utmost labour scarce
effected any visible progress. When" it is considered that they penetrated into the interior to
the distance of three or four thousand miles—exposed sometimes to a scorching sun, sometimes to
the most piercing cold—cutting their way through
drifting ice—suffering from physical privations,
through unknown and barren regions—beset with
dangers, without any certain prospect of reaching
any place of security and comfort, some conception
may be formed of the life of a north-west voyageur.
A stranger seeing these fight and slender vessels
piled high with a load of goods of every kind packed
in bales, each weighing ninety pounds; with their
various necessaries of clothing, food, &c, also stowed
away in bales; and with hampers, boxes, &c. containing the articles of the officers; and seeing them
weighed down in the water to the gunwale's edge
—he would think it an act of utter desperation to
attempt to pass in them through boisterous, intricate, and obstructed waters. But so practised,
hardy, and zealous are these voyageurs, that danger
or accident but very rarely occurs.
There are no birch canoes used in the Oregon
country by the company's servants. They use only
the batteaux, which are made of quarter-inch pine sK      3BB
boards, and are thirty-two feet long, and six and
a half feet wide in midships, with both ends sharp,
and without a keel—worked, according to the circumstances of the navigation, with paddles, or with
oars. These boats are found to be better adapted
to the lakes and rivers there, than the canoes of
the north)
When the voyageurs arrive at a portage, whether
the vessels used be canoes or batteaux, every thing is
unshipped; and each voyageur carries two bales,
or 1801bs. weighty on his back, held by a strap
passing round his forehead, on which the force of
the draught lies: and with this weight they will
run on briskly, sometimes for miles.
OB 63
Description of the present settlement at Red River—hunting
the Buffalo;
When the North-West Company became merged
in the Hudson's Bay Company, and the latter were
left at full liberty to prosecute their plans of improvement without rivalry or interruption, they
restored the settlement at Red River, and on a
more extended scale.
From the circumstances connected with its original formation—from the singularity of its position
and character, it being a sort of oasis in the vast
waste of a savage region—from its present and
growing importance to the objects of the colony,
a brief sketch of it may not be uninteresting. It
is situated in the fiftieth degree of north latitude,
and the ninety-seventh of west longitude, at an
elevation of about 1000 feet above the level of the
sea, and near the confluence of the Red and As-
sinaboine rivers,  whose united waters run north-
;   ; j
WM   wwraipfii
64 •
ward about thirty miles, into lake Winnipeg, which
receives many other tributary streams. These two
large rivers flow through a fertile country of vast
extent, which possesses a salubrious climate. The
Red River rises in the United States, near the
sources of the Mississipi, and runs northward. The
Assinaboine flows from the north-west. The cold
season lasts about five months, from November till
April. But the ice on lake Winnipeg does not
break up till May. At the opening of the fine
season, an immense quantity of sturgeon and other
fish is caught. There are occasionally summer
frosts, generated by undrained marshes, which impede the exertions of the husbandman; but this
evil is gradually melting away before the march
of cultivation. The range of the settlement stretches
upwards of fifty miles along the romantic and
woody banks of those rivers. Their borders are
cultivated to the breadth of nearly a mile; all the
back country remaining in a great measure in its
original state—a vast natural pasture, covered for
the greater part of the year, with cattle, and furnishing the colonists with a sufficient quantity of
hay for the support of their herds during the winter. Horses, horned cattle, hogs, and poultry, are
exceedingly numerous.    Sheep have been brought 65
at great expense by the Company, from England
and the United States, and are reared with success.
Wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, turnips, and most of
the culinary vegetables, thrive well. Pumpkins,
melons, and cucumbers arrive at maturity in the
open air, in the favourable season. The cultivation
of maize, peas, and beans promise success. Hops
grow luxuriantly. Flax and hemp, which have
been introduced, show every appearance^ in progress
of time, of being made profitable crops. In fine,
this extraordinary colony, in so high a latitude, is
likely to be rendered productive in all the necessaries and comforts even, and many of the luxuries
of civilised Europe.
The most common sorts of wood are oak, poplar, elm, and maple; pines are likewise found towards Lake Winnipeg. On this lake two-decked
vessels ply, in summer, between the colony and
the entrepot of Norway House, which is situated at its northern extremity, where the river
navigation to Hudson's Bay commences, as the
lake is emptied into that bay by the Nelson
river. Firewood is rafted down the rivers, from
above the limits of the colony, during the summer,
or transported on sledges during the snow and
frost.    But to obviate all chance of a scarcity in
j Jrm
§1 mmms&gs&im
the supply of this article, the colonists are providing
themselves with cast-iron stoves, which occasion a
much less consumption of fuel. As the population
is chiefly Catholic; and as the colony is, at present,
the most suitable centre from which to spread the
blessings of religion and civilisation over that immense tract of country, a Roman Catholic bishop
has been stationed there. The two principal
churches—the Protestant and the Roman Catholic—
the gaol, the conipany's chief buildings, the bishop's
residence, and the houses of some retired officers
of the fur trade—who choose this as their lasting
home, in place of returning to their native country—
are built of stone. The generality of settlers live
in frame or log houses, roofed with wooden slabs,
bark, or shingles; and are for the most part whitewashed or painted, externally. Every man, however low his condition, possesses a horse; and they
vie with each other in gay curricles, harness, saddles, and fine clothes. A great abundance of English goods is imported, both by the company and
by individuals, in the company's annual ships, to
York Factory, at Hudson's Bay; and disposed of
in the colony at moderate prices. Labour is dear,
and produce of every kind sells at a higher price
than could be expected in a place so remote and 67
secluded. Domestic manufactures are beginning to
make way, and, by diminishing the annual orders
from England, to make the people more independent. They now manufacture coarse cloths, stuffs,
shawls, linen, sacking, leather, &c.; and even for
their grain and domestic cattle, they are beginning
to find a market among the Americans of the
level plains leading to the Missisippi and the St.
Peter's; and it is probable that before long they
will export hides, tallow, wool, hemp, and flax to
The currency of the place consists in the company's notes, with a smaller amount of silver and
Copper coin. There are fifteen wind, and three
water mills, to grind the wheat and prepare the
malt for the inhabitants, who use neither barley
nor oats in bread. Though the protestants constitute but two-fifths of the population; yet all these
mills are in their hands, except two, Which have
been erected by a Roman catholic, in the company's pay, as warden of the plains. It may be
remarked that, while many of the children of the
company's retired European servants, who are chiefly
Orkney men, by native women, inherit the plodding
and careful disposition of their fathers, the half-bred
descendants of the French Canadians are generally 'Si
characterised by their fathers' levity and extravagance, and their mothers' violent passions. Many
of the Scotch, who first planted the colony in 1812,
under the auspices of the Earl of Selkirk, have
amassed handsome sums of money, besides rearing large families in rustic plenty. Some, fearing
the consequences of intermarrying with the half
breeds, have migrated elsewhere.
The company, besides extensive purchases of
grain and provisions for their transport and other
service, annually expends large sums at Red River
for works of public utility, such as experimental
farming—the erection of churches, and other buildings—endowing schools—affording medical aid gratis
to the poor—encouraging domestic manufactures—
maintaining an armed police—dispensing justice ;
and in contributing to the support of two Protestant clergymen—of a Roman catholic bishop; and
three priests from Canada. Through the exertions
of these zealous ministers a great number of the
Indians, of the Cree and Salteaux or Chippeway
nations, have been converted and located. From
this heavy outlay the company has hitherto had
no return; for the occasional sale of lands has
not as yet defrayed the expenses of the survey
(they   being,  in  most  instances, bestowed  gratis, 69
though purchased from the Indians), and the imr
mediate ^neighbourhood has been stripped of the
fur-bearing ^animals. Yet, under the company's
fostering care,~a population of 5,000 persons has
been reared up in plenty, comfort, and civilisation;
and the colony is every day growing in numbers,
wealth, and importance. There are also excellent
boarding schools, established by the Rev. Mr. Jones,
where nearly 100 youth of both sexes, the children
of the company's officers, and the more respectable
settlers, are trained up in European accomplishments, and in the strictest principles of religion.
The Indian settlements, too, at the lower extremity
of the colony, founded by the Rev. Mr. Cockran,
are worthy of notice. He has provided schoolmasters for the native children, and built places
of worship, where he regularly officiates. He has
also constructed a windmill for the Indians—assists
them in erecting their wooden houses; and in every
way sets them the example of industry. At the
other extremity of the colony, Mr. Balcour, one of
the Roman catholic priests, conducts a location of
Salteaux Indians on a smaller scale. The colony
has also a seminary, from which home missionaries
—young Indians educated in the Church Missionary
Society's school—are to be sent to  instruct their
31 mSmmsmmBOBmMm^:. ■ a3sa^:SCB^^lllll!ll"ll1"ll»"l[!1 fm i £$&&*
countrymen in various parts of the company's almost
unbounded territories. In the countries of the Columbia and New Caledonia, to the westward of the
great rocky mountain chain, these missionary labours
will have a rich field. There the climate is softened
by the influences of the Pacific: food is abundant;
the numerous natives do not lead the same solitary
wandering and precarious lives as the north-eastern
tribes, but dwell together in villages. They are endowed with a greater capacity and quickness of apprehension; are more pliant and tractable in temper;
appreciate more the talents, attainments, and social arts of the white men; and are fonder of
imitating and adopting their customs and principles. Therefore they seem now more disposed to
embrace the doctrines of Christianity, to many
principles, of which their own belief approximates,
from those on whom, a few years ago, they committed the most barbarous murders.
But in the dreary regions of the north, where the
Indian hunters are scattered through interminable forests ; and where civilisation can but slowly, if ever,
penetrate, the prospects of their conversion are fainter
and more remote. Yet even among these, since the
coalition of the rival companies, and the dismissal
of the numerous swarms of adventurers, who, encou-
;!;: if 71
raged by the licence of fierce opposition, overran
and nearly ruined the country, morality, order, and
integrity have been, in some degree, introduced
through the agency of the company's officers. Referring to the improved condition of the Indians,
produced through the instrumentality of the company, Mr. Simpson observes, "no stronger proof
of the salutary effect of their injunctions can be
adduced than that, while peace and decorum mark
the general conduct of the northern tribes, bloodshed, rapine, and unbridled lust, are the characteristics of the fierce hordes of Assinaboines, Piegans,
Blackfeet, Circees, Fall and Blood Indians, who
inhabit the plains between the Saskatchewan and
the Missouri rivers, and which are without the pale
of the company's influence and authority."
Among the many advantages which the company
is labouring to bestow on the whole race of Indians, one of the most important is the cementing
of fraternal and pacific feelings between them, and
the reconciliation of their inveterate feuds. Formerly it Vas the vile and pernicious practice of rival '
traders to foment the discords of the several tribes,
with a view of reaping advantage from them; for
they often succeeded, by weakening one after the
other, in reducing   both   to  entire  submissivencss 72
to their purposes; and they could then dictate the
terms of trading with them as they pleased: or if
they could not use them in this way, they used
them as instruments to annoy their competitors,
by crippling their trade, j and raising up enemies
against them. Thus the natives, in the complex
and ramified system of commercial competition for
a long time carried on in the north-west, were committed against the traders, and became involved
in hostility with one another. This hostility acquiring strength and inveteracy with each sucr
•ceeding act of aggression and retaliation, outlived
the original cause; [and often lasted for generations
after the first instigators quitted the scene, and
ceased to feel the remotest interest in the progress
and consequences of their own misdoing, Their
maxim seemed to be—
" Mischief, thou art a-foot;
Take now whatever course thou wilt."
But all the exertions of the Hudson's Bay Company to check and extinguish these evils are, to
some extent, thwarted by the conduct of the United
States' traders, who labour to keep alive all the
vices of the old Canadian system, and to introduce,
with all their characteristic graspingness and per-
m 73
severance, new ones. They consider that every
artifice is legitimate in trade; and in place of
blushing at its infamy, they chuckle at its cleverness. The company has endeavoured to reconcile
the hostile tribes to each other,—to induce them to
spare the young of the fur-bearing animals, so as
to preserve the breed, and keep the trade alive for
the benefit of both parties in perpetuity; and to
discountenance the use of ardent spirits, which have
been so baneful to the natives. But the Americans, for the sake of effecting an immediate and
temporary gain, pursue generally the very opposite
At Red River the buffaloes are now seldom
taken in pounds. Here it may be observed, that
to a stranger the wild buffalo bull, with his large
hump, glaring eyes, fieroe aspect, and long beard,
that almost sweeps the ground, when encountered
in the recesses of the forest, or in the open plain,
where there is no chance of escape, is the most
formidable animal in America—far more so than
the panther, or grisly bear. In the summer and
autumn large parties of the half-breed hunters, all
mounted on their small Indian horses, which are
well broken in to this sport, scatter themselves
over the plains, camping generally iu the open air, 74
or in tents covered with hides; or under their provision carts. As soon as the buffaloes are perceived,
the young men gallop after them, and either partially surprise them on the plains, or succeed in
driving them into some little valley or neck of
land, projecting into a lake, where escape is difficult.
A running fire then opens all along the fine. At
the first volley the buffaloes scamper off. The hunters continue the pursuit, reloading their guns while
their horses are in full gallop; for the sake of expedition the bullets are carried in the mouth, and
dropped into the barrel without any wadding:
their small whips are attached by a band to the
right wrist. The horse, with wonderful sagacity,
follows of his own accord the animal which his rider
has singled out, and brings him alongside; and
the rider then discharges his weapon unerringly.
The horse then pursues another with similar success.
In this way many buffaloes in succession are shot
by the same hunter ; and hundreds fall in a single
race. No sight can be livelier than a camp of
successful hunters. They generally pitch in some
clump or point of woods : the provision carts form
the outer circle, to which the horses are tied;
within this fires blaze on every side. The men
smoke  their   pipes,   or   arrange   their  fire-arms; 75
while the women are employed in cooking a sumptuous repast. The jest and the laugh circulate
freely all around. Durine the time the men are
employed in hunting, the females are occupied in
drying the spare meat, or converting it into
Pemicfm.—This far-famed provender for man in
the wilds of northern America is formed by pounding the choice parts of the meat very small, dried
over a slow fire, or in the frost, and put*
ting it into bags made of the skin of the slain
animal; into which a proportion of melted fat is
then poured. The whole then being strongly compressed, and sewed up, constitutes the best and
most portable food for the voyageurs, and one
which, with proper care, will keep for a long time.
Fifty pounds of pounded meat, and forty pounds
of grease, make a bag of pemican. There is another kind, called the sweet pemican, of which berries
constitute the chief ingredient.
In the winter season this sport assumes a more
various character. When the snow is not deep,
the buffalo may be run on horseback as in summer:
indeed, if the herd be numerous, they beat such
a track with their broad hoofs, that they are easily
pursued.    At other times they are approached by igssgggagKsa:
il  I t
the hunter crawling on the snow. He walks up
within a certain distance, far enough not to alarm
the herd-^then prostrates himself on the snow—
drags himself along on his belly, with his gun
trailing after him; and in this way proceeds a long
distance before he can get within reach when the
buffaloes are shy. When fatigued with this laborious and unnatural motion, he stops for a time to
recruit himself; he then throws up a little heap
of snow before him to screen him from his prey,
Some of the hunters are said to be so dexterous
in this mode of approach, as actually to drive
aside the old bulls who form the outer guard of
the herd, in order to select the choicest of the
cows. In order to effect this object, he wears the
disguise of a close dun-coloured cap, furnished
with upright ears, to give him the appearance of
a wolf: for from constant association, that animal
is regarded by the buffalo without dread. In the
spring of the year, when there is a hard crust on
the snow, produced by alternate thaw and frost,
the buffaloes are frequently run down by the hunters, and stabbed with their daggers, while floundering
in the deep drifts, which yield to their weight, but
support their pursuers, who are borne up by their
snow shoes.    In this way, which is the easiest and
ikl. 77
safest of all, the animals fall a prey even to the
boys and women.
It is well worth while to insert here the following sketch of the northern Indians, from Mr. Simpson :-—
"No people so soon get tired of any particular
diet as Indians: and their longings for change,
even amidst the best Cheer, are often truly ridiculous. The flexibility of their stomachs is no less
surprising. At one time they will gorge themselves
with food, and are then prepared to go without
any for several days, if necessary. Enter their
tents ; sit there, if you can, for a whole day, and
not for an instant will you find the fire unoccupied
by persons of all ages cooking. When not hunting or travelling, they are, in fact, always eating.
•Now, it is a little roast, a partridge or rabbit perhaps ; now, a tit-bit broiled under the ashes ; anon,
a portly kettle, well filled with venison, swings over
the fire; then comes a choice dish of curdled blood,
followed by the sinews and marrow-bones of deer's
legs singed on the embers. And so the grand
business of fife goes unceasingly round, interrupted
only by sleep. Another physical singularity of the
northern tribes is, that though capable of resisting
with great fortitude the most intense cold,  they HH
are wonderfully fond of fire. At an establishment,
even when the weather is mild and pleasant out
of doors, they are to be seen heaping on fuel in
the house, and actually sitting cross-legged on the
hearth, where a white man would speedily be
roasted. I have, however, remarked that the invariable effect of the North American climate is to
render even Europeans more chilly than on their
first arrival; from which we must infer that there
is something debilitating in the climate or mode of
life. It is a general rule among the traders, not
to believe the first story of an Indian. He will tell
you on arriving that there are no deer, and afterwards acknowledge them to be numerous; that he
has been starving, when he has been living in
abundance; that certain individuals are dead, yet
after he has smoked his pipe, and eaten his fill,
ask him what is the matter with these same persons, and he will describe some trifling ailments, a
surfeit, perhaps; for though at times these people
endure with great fortitude, the least sickness makes
them say, ' I am going to die!'—a trait that also
extends to their half-breed descendants."
Much has been written about the origin of the
population of North America. The general opinion
seems to incline to the theory,  that   they came 79
from Asia. It does not come within the scope of
my present purpose to enter on this enquiry, even
were I competent to the task; but I may state
what has been the most probable result of philosophical enquiry, and already mentioned by others.
The tribes who possess the vast region to the
northward of a line drawn from Churchhill on Hudson's Bay, across the Rocky Mountains to New
Caledonia and the Pacific, comprehending the Chi-
pewyans; the Copper Indians; the Beaver Indians,
of Peace River; the Dog-ribs, and Hare Indians,
of M'Kenzie River, and Great Bear Lake ; the
Thaecanies, Nahanies, and Dahadinnehs, of the
mountains; and the Carriers, of New Caledonia,
all speak different dialects of the same original
tongue. Next to these succeed the Crees, speaking
another distinct language, and occupying another
great section of the continent, extending from Lesser Slave Lake through the woody country on the
north side of the Saskatchewan River, by Lake
Winnipeg to York Factory, and from thence round
the shores of Hudson and James Bays. South of
the fiftieth parallel, the circles of affinity contract,
but can still be easily traced. The Carriers of New
Caledonia, like the people of Hindostan, used, till
lately, to burn their dead-:—a ceremony in which 80
the widow of the deceased, though not sacrificed
as in the latter country, was obliged to continue
beating on the breast of the corpse, while it slowly
consumed on the funeral pile; in which cruel duty
she was often severely scorched. Instead of being
burned, she was obliged to serve, as a slave, the
relatives of her deceased husband for a series of
years, during which she wore around her neck a
small bag, containing part of the bones or ashes
of her former husband. At the end of the allotted
term, a feast was made, and she was declared at
liberty to cast off the symbols of her widowhood,
and wed again. These customs have been abolished
by the Hudson's Bay Company. 81
Remarks on the Company's present principles of dealing;
and the mode of traffic among many of the Northern
The principle universally acted on throughout the
company's territories, which have been now reduced,
considering their vast extent, and the many difficulties to be encountered, to a state of astonishing
quiet, peace,  and good  government, is, that   the
true interests of the native Indian and the white
resident are indissolubly united;  and that no immediate advantage, or prospect of it, is to stand in
the way of improving the condition of the natives.
The following extract from the standing orders
of the company, will convey an idea—though a
faint one—of the wise, humane, and liberal spirit
by which it is actuated.
" That the Indians be treated with kindness and
indulgence; and mild and conciliatory means resorted to, in order to encourage industry, repress 82
vice, and inculcate morality—that the use of spirituous liquors be gradually discontinued in the few
districts in which it is yet indispensable; and that
the Indians be liberally supplied with requisite
necessaries—particularly with articles of ammunition,
whether they have the means of paying for them,
or not,"
Since these general orders were issued, the company, finding the success of this humane and judicious policy gradually answering the proposed aim,
has at last adopted the bold and decisive course of
abolishing altogether the use of spirituous liquors
as articles of trade with the natives. They have
not only done this in the territories within their
own jurisdiction; but have, by a new article introduced into the treaty of commerce, entered into
with the Russians by Sir George Simpson, stipulated that the Russians should act, in their trading
with the natives, on the same principle. So that
henceforward one source of demoralisation will be
dried up.
It is not only the inclination of the company to
render the natives comfortable, and pacific, and civilised ; but it is their manifest interest. The natives
are best able to exert themselves in collecting furs
and provisions, when  they  are best clothed,   and 83
supplied with ammunition; and they are best qualified to exert their individual and united powers
for the prosecution of their trade, on which their
own immediate and ultimate good depends, when
they are brought to a state of peace with each
other, and their savage passions and appetites
checked. So far has it been the wish or policy of
the company not to acquire an undue influence
over them by loading them with debts, that repeated attempts have been made to reduce the
trade to simple barter; and they have often cancelled the debts of whole tribes—for instance, since
the junction of the two companies in 1821, the
debts of the Chipewyans have been twice cancelled.
But from the peculiar disposition and customs of
the Indians—especially the northern Indians—these
good intentions have not yet produced all the hoped-
for good, although they are gradually working out
their object.
The Chipewyans have a custom which, until
eradicated, must operate as a check on their progressive prosperity. On the death of a relative,'
they destroy guns, ammunition, blankets, kettles;
in short, every thing they possess; and conclude
the havoc by tearing their huts to pieces. When
these transports of grief have subsided, they find mmmM®m*m
themselves reduced to utter want, and are obliged
to resort to the nearest establishments for a fresh
supply of necessaries; and thus their debts are
renewed, and their wants periodically kept alive.
In some parts of the Indian territory, the hunting
grounds descend by inheritance among the natives ;
and this right of property is rigidly enforced. But
where no such salutary law prevails, their main
source of wealth—the beaver—would soon be exhausted by the eager search of the hunters, if the
company had not adopted judicious regulations to
prevent the havoc; for they have, for several years
past, used every effort, through their officers, to exhort the natives to spare the young of that animal.
This praiseworthy design has been successful in
proportion as the natives have become enlightened,
and enabled to see their own true interests; and
the breed is now preserved in districts where, not
long since, they were threatened with extinction.
But the attempt will be easily understood to be
one of extreme difficulty, in consequence of the
passion for depriving the animal creation of life so
strongly implanted in the breast of the North
American Indian, that it costs him a pang to pass
bird, beast, or fish, without an effort to destroy
it, whether he stands in need of it or not.    The 85
tendency to destruetiveness is a vehement instinct
of their nature.
Near York   Factory, in  1831,   this propensity,
contrary to all the remonstrances of the company's
servants at that place, led  to the indiscriminate
destruction of a countless herd of rein-deer, while
crossing the broad stream of Haye's River, in the
height of summer.    The natives took some of the
meat for present use, but thousands  of carcasses
were  abandoned to the current, and infected the
river's banks, or drifted down into Hudson's Bay,
there to feed the sea fowls and polar bears.   As
if it were a judgment for this wanton slaughter,
in which women and children participated, the deer
have never since visited that part of the country in
similar numbers.    In short, the Indians, accustomed
either to a feast or a fast, have little idea beyond
the present gratification; and it is to this imprudence that deaths by starvation, and the occasional
desertion of infants, and the helpless aged, must
be ascribed.
The quantity of provisions furnished by the Indians to the establishments throughout the northern
districts, is inconsiderable. In the winter season,
it is limited to the rib pieces of the moose, red,
and rein-deer, half dried in the smoke of their huts HBO—
or tents, (the bones being removed for lightness
of carriage), with an occasional addition of some
tongues-. In the course of the summer, when the
animals are easily hunted, and there is great facility
of water-transport, the more industrious families
usually bring to the fort a bale of dried meat, consisting of the fleshy parts of the deer, cut into large
slices and dried in the sun, with a bladder or two
containing fat, or a bag of pemican.
When the residents of a fort find these supplies,
and the produce of their fisheries, and of their cultivated plots of ground (where the ground, from
the nature of the soil and climate, is capable of
cultivation), insufficient to supply their wants, they
engage two or more young Indians, without families, as "fort hunters." These are considered as
regular servants; and their duty is confined to the
killing of large animals for the use of the establishments. They are allowed to keep a portion of
the meat, sufficient for their own consumption:
the remainder is transported to the forts, with
sledges and dogs, by the servants of the company.
To become a fort hunter is an object of ambition
to the northern Indian; as it is an acknowledgment of his skill and fidelity, and ensures to him
the gayest clothing.    Every prudent manager of a post endeavours to procure more provisions than
the actual wants of his charge require. He is thus
enabled, from his supplies, to afford the natives
timely relief, and to conciliate their goodwill, and
point out to them the expediency of forethought
and economy. These remarks do not apply to the
comparatively mild climate of the Saskatchewan,
where the plains teem with buffaloes; nor to the
still more southerly districts, bordering on Canada,
where the natives and the people are in a great measure fed on provisions imported by the company. These people, from whom are sprung many tribes,
under different names, are spread over a vast extent
of country. Their language is the same as that of
the people who inhabit the coast of British America
on the Atlantic, and continues along the coast of
Labrador, and the gulph and banks of the St.
Lawrence to Montreal. The fine then follows the
Utawns River to its source, and continues thence
nearly west along the high lands that divide the
waters that flow into Lake Superior on the one
hand, and Hudson's Bay on the other. It then
proceeds till it strikes the middle part of Lake
Winnipeg, and right through it, to the discharge
of the Saskatchewan into it. From thence it accompanies the latter to Fort George, when the
line, striking] by the head of the Beaver River to
the Elk River, runs along its banks to its discharge into the  Lake of the Hills, from which it may be carried back, east, to  Isle  a la Crosse,
and so on to ChiKchhill by the Missinippi.
The whole of the tract between this fine and
Hudson's Bay and Straits (except that of the Esquimaux in the latter) may be said to be exclusively the country of the Knisteneaux. Some of
them, indeed, have penetrated further, west and
south, to the Red River, and the south branch
of the Saskatchewan. The similarity between their
language and that of the Algonguins is clear proof
that they are of the same stock.
They are of moderate stature, well proportioned,
and very active. Examples of deformity are seldom to be seen among them. Their complexion
is copper colour, and their hair black, which is
common to all the -natives of America: it is generally cut in various forms, according to-the fancy
of the several tribes; but by some it is left in the
long, lank flow of nature. They mostly extract
their beard; and both sexes manifest a disposition
to pluck, the hair from every part of the body
and limbs. Their eyes are black and piercing:
their countenances open and agreeable; and it is
a principal object of their ambition to give every
possible decoration to their persons. For this purpose   vermilion is a material  article,  which they
Ss^^ contrast with their native white, blue, and brown
earths, with a frequent addition of charcoal.
"Of all the natives," says M'Kenzie, "which I
have seen on this continent, the Knisteneaux women
are the most comely; their figure is well proportioned, and the regularity of their features would
be acknowledged by the most civilised Europeans.
Their complexion, too, is less dark than that of
the less cleanly natives."
The dress of the males is simple and commodious. It consists of gloves, shoes, and tight leg-
gins, reaching nearly to the hip—a strip of cloth
or leather, called assian, about a foot wide, and
five feet long, whose ends are drawn inwards, and
hang behind and before, over a belt, which fastens
it round the waist,—a close vest or shirt, reaching
down to the former garment, and cinctured with
a broad strip of parchment, fastened with thongs
behind; and a cap for the head, consisting of a
piece of fur, or small skin, with the hairy tail
suspended as an ornament: over the whole a kind
of robe is occasionally thrown. The materials vary
according to the season; and consist of dressed
moose skin,—beaver, prepared with the fur on, or
European woollens. The leather is neatly painted,
and fancifully worked, in some parts, with porcu 91
pines' quills and moose-deer hair; the shirt and
leggins are also adorned with fringe and tassels;
the shoes and gloves are also decorated with taste
and skill. Their dress is, however, put on according to fancy or convenience; and they will sometimes proceed to the chase covered only with the
slightest of them. Their head-dresses are composed of the feathers of the swan, the eagle, and
other birds. They also use the teeth, claws, and
horns of different animals, wherewith to ornament
the head and neck. Their hair, however worn, is
always besmeared with grease. All the articles
of dress are made by the females, who bestow
peculiar pains on the decoration of the men, whose
faces are also painted with more care than those
of the women.
The female dress is composed of the same materials as that of the men; but of a different
arrangement and make. Their shoes are commonly plain, and their leggins gartered below the
knee. The vest falls down to the middle of the
leg, and is fastened round the shoulders with,
cords, a flap or cape turning down about eight
inches before and behind, and neatly ornamented
with quill-work and fringe; the bottom is also
fringed, and fancifully painted as high as the knee. Si'r
1 I
As it is very loose, it is fastened round the waist
with a stiff belt, decorated with tassels, and tied
behind. The arms are covered to the wrist with
detached sleeves, which are sewed"«as far as the
bend of the arm; from thence they are drawn up
to the back, and the corners of them fall down
behind as far as the waist. The cap, when they
wear one, consists of leather or cloth, sewed at
one end, by which means it is kept on the head,
and, hanging down the back, is fastened to the
waist belt, and is also tied under the chin. They
also have an upper robe like that of the men.
Their hair is divided on the crown, and tied behind, or fastened in large knots under the ears.
They are fond of European articles; and, like
other savages, wear bracelets, rings, and other
baubles. Sometimes they tattoo three perpendicular fines—one from the centre of the chin to the
centre of the under lip, and one parallel on each
side to the corner of the mouth.
Chastity is not considered a virtue among them.
Plurality of wives is allowed, and so is an interchange of wives; but if a wife commit an indis-:
cretion without the consent of the husband, she is
liable to severe punishment, such as the loss of her
hair, nose, or ornaments, When a young man marries
«-«* he resides with his wife's parents, who, however,
treat him as a stranger, till the birth of his first
child; he then attaches himself to them more than
to his own parents, and the wife always calls him
by the title of father of her child. When a man
loses his wife, it is considered his duty to marry
her sister: or he may have several sisters together.
They are, generally, hospitable, generous, and mild,
except when inflamed by spirituous liquors; and
are indulgent and attentive to their children.
The occupation of the men is war and hunting
only. The women make the nets; dress the skins;
collect the wood; erect the tents; and perform all
the domestic work; and attend to the children.
Hence their life is one of great toil; and, from
a consciousness of this, they sometimes destroy
their female children, and procure abortions, which
they effect by means of certain simples, and with»
out risk of life to themselves.
Their funeral rites begin, like all their other ceremonials, with smoking, and end with a feast. The
body is dressed in the best habiliments of the deceased, or of his relations; and is deposited in a
grave, fined with branches ; some domestic utensils
are placed in it, and a canopy erected over it.
During this ceremony great lamentations are made; i
and, if the deceased be much respected, his relations
cut off their hair, and pierce the fleshy parts of
their thighs and arms with arrows, knives, &c.;
and blacken their faces with charcoal. In some
instances the women used to sacrifice themselves
to the manes of their husbands. The whole of
the property of the deceased is destroyed; and
when the relations give up their garments they
are willing to take any rags to cover their nakedness. This imprudent custom tends to keep them
in poverty, and compels them often to resort to
the bounty of the Hudson's Bay Company. At
the funeral feast eulogies are pronounced on the
deceased; and on his tomb are carved the symbols of his tribe, which are taken from the different animals of the country; and also, if he had
in any way distinguished himself, memorials of his
own deeds.
Before they engage in war the chief summons
the warriors to a. council, for which they prepare themselves by long meditations and fasting.
When they have assembled, the chief formally
explains the 'subject; and, if they agree to take
up arms, they smoke with him the sacred pipe;
and this is considered a sufficient enrolment..
Every  one who   attends the meeting brings with
Ls**-. him  something as an offering to the Spirit; and
when the   assembly   dissolves, these  offerings are
suspended from poles near the place of council.
They have, at stated seasons, such as the spring
and autumn,  long and solemn   ceremonies.     On
these occasions, dogs, as the most useful of their
domestic   animals, are sacrificed;   those  that  are
very fat and milk white are preferred.    The scene
of these   religious rites  is an open  and elevated
space on the banks of some lake or river, so that
all persons   passing by may be  attracted to   the
spot  and make their offerings,     But if any one,
a member  of the tribe or a stranger,   should be
in   want of any  article  displayed as an offering
he may take it, provided he replaced it with some
other   article, though of ever   such inferior value.
But to take any thing wantonly is gross sacrilege.
There are also private feasts, attended with religious ceremonies,  given  by individuals on many
occasions,  of  which due   announcement is given.
On   this  occasion  the host's lodge  is  completely
cleared out, and decked round with fresh boughs
in every part.    Even a new hearth is made.    The
owner remaining in it alone, spreads out a well-
dressed moose-skin,   neatly painted, (of late they
sometimes use cloth,) on which he lays out the con- 96
!( I
tents of his medicine, or holy bag—consisting of
various articles; the principal of which is a sort of
household god—a curiously carved image, about
eight inches long. This is first covered with down,
over which a piece of beech-bark is closely tied,
and the whole enveloped in folds of skins, or cloth,
red and blue. This figure is an object of the most
pious regard. The next article is the war-cap,
which is decorated with the plumes of scarce birds,
and with beavers' and eagles' claws, &c, and to
which is suspended a quill or feather for every
enemy which the owner has slain. Then follow
other articles—the pipe and tobacco; and roots and
simples esteemed for their medicinal properties.
These articles being exposed, and the stem of the
pipe resting on two prongs, as it must not touch
the ground, he calls in the person whom he means
most to honour—and who sits down opposite him.
Then the bowl of the pipe is filled, and is fixed to
the stem. A pair of wooden pincers is provided, to
place the fire in the pipe; and a double-pointed pin
to empty it of the remnant of the tobacco not used.
The remainder of the guests are then summoned
in; and the most solemn awe pervades the whole.
The women are generally allowed to be spectators
at a distance.   The assistant lights the pipe, and
1  1 97
presents it to the host, or officiating person, who
holds it between both his hands,   and   standing.
He then turns to the east, and draws a few whiffs,
which he blows to that point: he observes the same
ceremony towards the other quarters; his eyes being
directed upwards all the time.    He then holds the
stem about the middle, between the three first fingers of both hands, and raising it on a level with his
forehead, he swings it three times round beginning
from the east, with the course of the sun; when,
after poising and pointing it in various directions, he
replaces it on the prongs.    He next makes a speech
to explain his object in inviting them, and concludes
with an  acknowledgment of past favours,  and a
prayer for a continuance of them from the Master
of Life.    He then sits down; and the whole company declare their approbation and thanks by loud
and prolonged sighs.    After this the assistant takes
up the pipe, and holds it to the mouth of the host,
who,   after  smoking three  whiffs,   utters a short
prayer, then hands it round (taking his course from
east to west) to each guest, who smokes, and mutters
something to him on the occasion.    Thus the pipe is
generally smoked out;   when the host, after turning it three or four times round his head, drops
it downwards, and replaces it on the original prods. 98
After this he returns the company thanks for their
attendance, and wishes them all happiness.
These smoking rites precede every matter of
great importance; and sometimes they are politic.
If a chief wishes to sound the disposition of his
people towards him, or wishes to reconcile any
differences between them, he invites them to see
his medicine (or holy) bag opened, and smoke the
sacred stem with him. As the ceremony of smoking
with the sacred stem dissipates all differences and
can not be violated, no one who entertains a grudge
towards any of the party can smoke the pipe with
him. No one can avoid attending on these occasions ; but' a person may be excused from assisting at the ceremonies by declaring that he has
not undergone the necessary purification: for instance, cohabitation with his wife within twenty-
four hours before the ceremony, renders a man
unclean, and unfit to join in any part of the rite.
All contracts solemnised by this smoking ceremony
are held inviolable.
When the chief proposes a feast, he sends quills,
or small pieces of wood, as tokens of invitation.
Every guest brings a dish and knife, and takes
his place beside the chief, according to age or
rank.     The pipe is  then lighted,   and the  chief
m 99
makes an equal division of the viands. While the
guests are eating, the chief sings, and plays with
the tambourin, or the rattle. He who has first
eaten his portion is held in estimation. If any
one cannot finish his share, he offers a reward—
such as ammunition or tobacco, to some friend
to eat the remainder. But before they commence
these feasts they offer a small quantity of the
meat and drink, as a sacrifice, by throwing it into
the fire, or pouring it on the earth. Generally
the quantity supplied to the guests, must be eaten,
however immense; but on some occasions they
are allowed to take the surplus to be eaten at
home. Care is always taken that the bones be
burned, as it would be profanation if the dogs
touched them.
At their public feasts they discuss various topics
—repeat the heroic deeds of their fathers, and encourage the rising generation to follow their example; while the women sing and dance around
the tents> beating time to the music within.
They commence their divisions of time by the
night; and compute the length of their journeys by
the number of nights passed in performing them.
They also divide the year by the succession of
L "■y"*™^
They know the medical virtues of many herbs,
roots of plants, and barks of trees. When a blister
rises on the foot, from frost, or the chafing of the
shoe, &c, they open it with their flint lancet, and
apply the heated blade of a knife to that part;
and as the best remedy for sprains, they apply the
dung of an animal just killed. However, much of
their remedies and surgical operations is supposed
to derive effect from magic and incantations. 101
The Chipewyan Indians.
These  are a numerous people, who  consider the
country between the parallels  of latitude 60 and
65 north, and longitude 100 and 110 west, as their
home.    Their language furnishes dialects to the various migratory tribes who  inhabit the following
immense tract of country.    It begins at Churchhill,
and runs along the line of separation between them
and the Knisteneaux, up the Missinippi to Isle a la
Crosse, passing on through Buffalo Lake,   River
Lake, and  Portage a la Loche: from thence  it
proceeds by the Elk River to the Lake of the Hills,
and goes directly west to the Peace River, and up
that river to its source; from whence it proceeds
to the waters of the  Columbia, and follows that
river to latitude 52 north, and longitude 122 west,
where the  Chipewyans have the  Chin nation for
their neighbours.    How far they follow the Rocky
Mountains to the east, is not easy to determine;
but they extend a long way through the prairies. ■~&Em
They are generally a timorous, reserved, and
sober race, not addicted to spirituous liquors. They
will patiently submit to severe treatment, if con^
scious that they deserve it; but will not submit to
unnecessary rigour. In their mutual quarrels they
are not sanguinary or savage; generally contenting
themselves with thumping, pulling the hair, and
calling abusive names.
Their notions about the Creation are very remark*
able. They believe that, at first, the globe was one
vast ocean, not inhabited by airy living creature;
but that the Great Spirit came down in the shape
of a mighty bird, whose eyes were fire, whose
glances were lightning, and the clapping of whose
wings was thunder. He rested on the ocean, and
immediately the land rose, and remained on the
surface of the water. This omnipotent bird then
produced all the variety of animals from the earth,,
except the Chipewyans, who were produced from a
dog: and this circumstance occasions their aversion
to the flesh of that animal, as well as to the people
who eat it. The Great Spirit having finished his
work, he made an arrow, which was to be preserved
with great care, and remain untouched ; but the
Chipewyans were so devoid of understanding, as to
carry it away.    This sacrilege so enraged the great 103
bird, that he has never since appeared. They believe that there was a great deluge, which spread
over the whole earth, except the highest mountains;
on the top of which their ancestors preserved themselves. They have also a tradition among them,
that they originally came from a remote country,
inhabited by wicked people; and had traversed a
great lake, which was narrow and full of islands;
also, that in ancient times their ancestors lived till
their feet were worn out with walking, and their
throats with eating.
The reader cannot fail to notice the curious coincidence between this notion of the creation and the
Mosaic account: " the earth was without form, and
void, and the Spirit of God moved on the surface
of the waters." Here I may remark, that the
word which in our translation is rendered moved,
the commentators say means, in the original Hebrew, brooded, or hatched; and Milton, who in his
scriptural allusions and quotations follows the original, takes the word in this sense.—Paradise Lost,
b. vii. v. 235.    Speaking of Creation, he says:—
• On the watery calm
His brooding wings the Spirit of God outspread
And vital virtue infused, and vital warmth,
Throughout the fluid mass. m
Their ideas about the arrow would seem to indicate
that they have a confused and corrupted notion of
the tree of knowledge and the forbidden fruit—the
arrow being more adapted to their condition than
an apple. Their tradition about coming originally
from a remote country, inhabited by wicked people,
would remind one of the dispersion of mankind
after the erection of the tower of Babel: and their
ancestors having lived so long, until their feet were
worn out with walking, and their throats with eating, is a graphic mode of describing the longevity
and sensuality of the antedeluvians.
They believe in the immortality of the soul, and
in a state of future rewards and punishments. They
believe that immediately after death they pass into
another world, where they arrive at a large river,
on which they embark in a stone canoe; and that
a gentle current bears them on to an extensive lake,
in the centre of which is a most beautiful island;
and that within sight of this delightful abode they
receive that judgment for their conduct during fife,
which terminates their final state and unalterable
allotment. If their good actions are declared to
predominate, they are landed on the island, where
there is to be no end to their happiness; which, however, according to their notions consists  chiefly in 105
sensual pleasures. But if their bad actions predominate, the stone canoe sinks at once, and leaves them
up to their chins in the water, to behold and regret
the reward enjoyed by the good; and eternally
struggling, but with unavailing endeavours, to reach
the blissful island.
Their stature is of a moderate standard. Their
complexion is swarthy : their features are coarse,
and their hair lank; and their eyes are not so generally piercing, nor their countenances so animated
as those of other Indians.
The women have a more agreeable aspect than
the men; but their gait is awkward, which proceeds
from their being accustomed, nine months in the year,
to travel with their large snow shoes, and drag sledges,
of a weight from 200 to 4001bs. They are very
submissive to their husbands, who sometimes, however, in fits of jealousy cut off their hair, of which
they are very proud, wearing it in fantastic tresses,
or in plaits, to a great length ; and treat them with
fatal severity besides. Sometimes their natural inclinations are coerced by their fathers, as is the case
in more civilised life; and they are transferred for
a consideration, to live as companions with more
wealthy husbands or protectors. The men in general extract their beard; and cut the hair in various 106
forms, according to fancy, or leave it in the long
natural flow. Both sexes have blue or black bars,
or from one to four straight lines, on their cheeks
or forehead, to distinguish the tribe to which they
belong. These marks are either tattooed, or made
by drawing a thread, dipped in the necessary colours,
across the skin.
Plurality of wives is allowed ; and the women
are betrothed by their parents at an early age, according as interest or partiality leads them: and if
a separation takes place, it must be with the consent
of the husband. In common with the other Indians
of this country, they have a custom which is tinged
with religion, respecting the periodical illness of
woman, which is rigorously observed. During that
time she must, as much as possible, seclude herself from society; or touch any utensils of male
use or occupation; as such contact would produce
defilement, and lead to misfortune. There are particular skins of animals, as the bear and wolf, which
the women never touch, as they are unclean animals ; and these animals the men are seldom known
to kill.
There are no people more attentive to the com*
forts of dress. The dress of the men, in winter,
is composed of  deerskins,   and  dressed as fine as 107
chamois leather, in the hair. Their shoes and leggins are sewed together; the latter reaching upwards
to the waist, and kept firmly on by a belt; under
which a piece of leather is drawn, the ends of which
fall down before and behind, as a covering. In the
shoes, they put the hair of the moose or rein-deer,
with additional pieces of leather, as socks. The
shirt or coat, which is girded round the waist,
reaches to the middle of the thigh; and the mfi>
tens or gloves are sewed to the sleeves, or suspended
from the shoulders by strings. A ruff or tippet
surrounds the neck; and the skin of the head of
the deer forms a curious kind of cap. Then there
is a top garment made of several deer or fawn
skins sewed together. This dress is worn single or
double, according to circumstances; but always in
winter with hair both inside and outside. Thus
arrayed, a Chipewyan will lay himself down on the
ice in the middle of a lake, and repose in comfort;
though in the morning he will sometimes find it
difficult to disencumber himself from the snow
drifted on him during the night. If, in his passage
over the lake, he should be in want of provision,
he cuts a hole in the ice, when he seldom fails in
taking out a trout or a pike. The eyes he instantly
takes out, and eats as a great delicacy: and if he 108
:    III
have not an opportunity of kindling a fire, he will
eat the fish raw.
The dress of the women is different.    Their leggins are tied below the knee; and their body dress
or shift is wide, and hanging down to the ancle;
and is tucked up at pleasure, by means of a belt
which is fastened round the waist.    Those who have
children, have these garments made very full about
the breast and shoulders;   as, when they are travelling, they carry their infants on their backs, next
the skin; in which situation they are very comfortable, and in a  convenient position to be suckled.
They continue to suckle one child till they have
another.    At child-birth, no part of the usual occupation is  suspended;   and  their  continued and
regular exercise must contribute to the welfare of
the mother, both in the progress of gestation, and
at the moment of delivery.    The women have a singular custom of cutting off a part of the navel of
the new-born children, which they hang about their
necks, perhaps to show that their " reproach among
women"—barrenness—is taken   away.    They   are
also very curious about their baby-clothes, decorating
them with porcupines' quills, and beads.    Though
they are in such a state of submission, yet they
possess considerable influence with the men;  and 109
are generally consulted about the traffic with Europeans, and other important matters.
From the ease with which they can supply their
wants, in taking deer and fish, they are not remarkable for their activity as hunters: hence they participate in those laborious and domestic occupations
that, among the Knisteneaux, and other neighbouring nations, are confined to the women. Though
they make war on the Esquimaux, (who cannot resist their superior numbers,) and put them to death—
as it is a principle of theirs not to make prisoners—
yet they submit to the Knisteneaux, who are not so
numerous as themselves. They are not so reserved
in their communications among themselves, or with
strangers; nor are they suddenly roused from torpor
to such energy and passion as the Knisteneaux.
They are more uniform, calculating, and persevering
than these people.
They catch the beaver in nets, as he endeavours
to escape from his lodge, when it is broken open.
These nets are curiously set for the purpose; and
a man is employed to watch the moment when the
animal enters the snare, else he would soon cut his
way through it: he is then thrown on the ice, where
he remains, as if lifeless.
Their snow-shoes are of superior workmanship:
■   --m ■ 111     :^^mM^S^^i^^Bm^^^^^
The inner part of their frame is straight; the outer
one is curved, and is pointed at both ends, the front
end being turned up. They are also very neatly
laced with deer-skin thongs. Their sledges are also
formed of thin slips of boards turned up in front;
and are highly polished, with crooked knives, in order to make them slide along with greater facility.
Close-grained wood is, on that account, the best:
but theirs are made of the red, or" swamp, spruce
fir tree.
Though they have no regular government, as
every man is lord of his own family, yet they have
certain principles of co-operation for the public
benefit. Their country.) especially along the north,
is very barren, yielding but little wood or herbage.
Its chief vegetable substance is the moss, on. which
the deer feed; and a kind of rock moss, which, in
times of scarcity, when boiled in water, forms a
glutinous substance, and affords subsistence to the
natives. But though the lakes abound with fish,
and the hills. with deer; and though they are considered among the most provident of all the Indian
people of the northern continent, they suffer severely
at certain seasons, especially in winter, when they
are under the necessity of retiring to their* scanty,
stunted, woods. Ill
To the westward of them, the musk ox may be
found; but they do not depend on it as an article
of sustenance. There are also large hares, white
wolves peculiar to their country, and several kinds
of foxes. On the surface of the earth there are
found beautiful pieces of variegated marble, which
is easily worked, bears a fine polish, and hardens
with time. It endures heat, and is manufactured
into pipes or calumets, as they are fond of smoking
tobacco—a luxury communicated to them by Europeans.
They have no knowledge of simples, or the medicinal virtues of plants; as their country is too barren
to produce any: but they generally resort to charms
to cure their diseases ; of which rheumatism, the flux,
and lues veneria, are the principal. They are very
superstitious; and have their priests and conjurers;
but they are unwilling to make many communications on the subject of their religion. They show
their respect for the memory of their departed
friends by a long period of mourning; by cutting
off their own hair; and never making use of the
property of the deceased: they even sacrifice their
own on the occasion. IT
Mouth of the Columbia.—Description of the native tribes.—
Their appearance.—Habits.
The first object that meets the eye of a voyager as
he approaches the mouth of the Columbia from the
Pacific, is a high bluff promontory with precipitous
sides, covered with pine trees, and sloping to the
mainland, with which it is connected by a low and
narrow neck. This is called Cape Disappointment,
and stands on the north of the river. The entrance
on the south side of the river is terminated by a low,
sandy spit of land, stretching into the ocean, and called
Point Adams; but, properly speaking, for the distance
of thirty or forty miles from its entrance into the sea,
it is an estuary, indented by deep bays, so as to
vary from three to seven miles in breadth. The
distance between the exreme outer ends of Cape
Disappointment and Point Adams is about four
miles across. This distance is rendered very dangerous and intricate by shoals, forming a sort of flat BBSS
bar, on which the winds and irregular currents pro -
duce foaming and tumultuous breakers, presenting
one line of heavy broken water from shore to shore,
which, in rough weather, runs out for three miles
into the ocean. But the mouth of the river proper
becomes narrower, in consequence of the contracting shores of the estuary. The best leading
mark for entrance is to bring a projecting point,
which looks at a distance like an island, near the
higher and northern shore, to bear by compass
about east by north, and then to steer for it. But
it is dangerous to make any attempt when the
breakers.are high. Immediately within Cape Disappointment there is a wide open bay which yields
good anchorage, and is called Baker's Bay, terminating at Chinook Point.
About fourteen miles from Cape Disappointment,
in a south-easterly direction, stands Fort George, on
the southern shore, and on an elevation facing the
north, terminating with the wide estuary—its sand
bars, and breakers. It was formerly called Astoria,
having been founded by Mr. Astor, of whose proceedings I shall speak more hereafter; but it is
now only a small outer depdt, belonging to the
company's head quarters at Fort Vancouver, and
kept up for the convenience of the trade with the
fttttts* 114
Indians towards the mouth of the river; and for the
salmon fishery. It is now sadly stript of much of
its former importance; the immediate neighbourhood,
with the exception of a small garden and farm reserved
for the use of the small garrison stationed there,
being overrun with weeds and brushwood. There
however still exists one memorial of its former promised importance—for real importance it never had,
—a large tree, spoken of by some writers, lying,
as a symbol of the decline of American power,
flat and withered on the ground.
The natives, who dwell about the lower parts of
the Columbia, may be divided into four tribes—the
Clotsops, who reside around Point Adams, on the
south side, and are reputed by some the most honest
—the Chinooks; Waakiacums; and the Cathlamets ;
who live on the north side of the river, and around
Baker's Bay and other inlets. From the great resemblance between them in person, language, laws,
and manners, they all appear to have emanated
from one common stock. Though they occasionally
' can procure the flesh of elks, deer, and the waterfowls of the ponds and rivers, their chief subsistence is fish, chiefly salmon, which abounds in the
river, and inlets; and roots, and berries, which the
.women go a gipsying in groups at the proper season Hi
to collect in the upper part of the country.   This season is a time of hilarity;  and the women bepaint
their faces and persons with a sort of Vermillion paint,
partly to protect them from the sun, and partly
to present a gay and fantastic appearance.    These
roots and berries they make into cakes, which they
dry in the sun.    These cakes, and preserved fish,
with   an accompaniment of  venison,   form   their
winter store, of which they generally have no lack.
These tribes were formerly very numerous  and
powerful.    But they were greatly thinned by the
scourge that spread its havoc far and wide among
the northern and eastern Indians for many years—
the small pox.    After having enjoyed a considerable
respite from this visitation, and recruited their force
and numbers to some extent, they were again, in
1829, and some subsequent years, attacked by another
malady,   equally fatal—fever, attended with   ague.
The  strong remedies which they  adopted for the
cure of this, in opposition to all remonstrance, were
nearly as destructive as the malady itself.    They dug
a hole in the ground, five feet square, two feet deep
below the surface, and raised two feet and a half
above it.   On the inside it was tightly boarded, and
made a sort of compact oven, with a small aperture
barelv sufficient to admit  the insinuation of the body.     A number of stones red hot were thrown
in, and the patient (sometimes two or three at a
time) immediately after crawled in; and from a bowl
poured on the burning stones a quantity of water
supplied from  the outside, sufficient to produce a
high degree of steam.    Having remained there until
he was nearly parboiled, he crept out again; and,
as it was imagined that a violent  counter-remedy
would produce a wholesome reaction, he plunged at
once into the cold stream, on the bank of which this
hot  vapour   bath was constructed.     The remedy
generally did its   intended work;   and something
more; it cured the disease, but killed the patient.
As the first visitation of the small pox affected
them peculiarly, it may not be out of place here to
say a word about it.
This terrible scourge, which not only thinned this
population, but had nearly dispeopled the whole of
the northern continent of the native inhabitants, it
is now generally agreed, was first introduced by the
Americans of the United States; and at first broke
out among the tribes residing between the sources
of the Missouri and the Missisippi. Thence it
spread its devastation northward as far as Athabasca,
and the three horns of the great Slave Lake; and
westward across the Rocky Mountains through the 117
whole region of the Oregon territories, spreading to
a vast distance along the shores of the north Pacific.
They at first tried their medicine men, or conjurors;
then, when their medicines and charms were found
unavailing, they - adopted various expedients, which
were as fatal as the disease itself; such as bleeding—
blistering—steam and cold baths in quick succession.
Then, when they failed in every attempt at cure,
they became desperate, and impressed with the belief that it was a visitation from the Great Spirit,
who surrendered them up to the Evil One, as a
punishment for their wicked courses. The wretched
sufferers were deserted, and left to rot and perish,
unaided and unpitied. The more hardened and
courageous of those who escaped the attack fled to
the desert plains, or the mountains, or the islands
of the lakes. Others, more desponding, committed
suicide, to save themselves from the horrors which
they saw the sufferers endure. The bodies of hundreds of men, women, and children used to be seen,
afterwards, suspended from the trees, close by depopulated villages, whilst the ground was strewed
with putrid and mouldering remains. Numbers of
tribes were totally swept away; or reduced to a few
scattered and powerless individuals.    The remnants of many others united; and formed a new and heterogeneous union.
Whenever a person is attacked with sickness, the
medicine man is sent for; he orders the patient to
be placed on his back, and then commences to
chaunt a dismal air. To this the patient's friends,
who surround him, at intervals reply in chorus; and
beat time with a long and short stick, which each
carries in his hands, striking one over the other.
Generally a person is stationed on the roof during
this proceeding, and, with a loud voice, joins the
chorus inside; while he keeps time to the air by
beating his drum sticks against the roof. The doctor
then kneels, and presses his fists with all his force
on the patient's stomach; and, according as the
sufferer, under the pain of this operation, cries out,
the doctor and the bystanders raise the chaunt
louder to drown his voice, and banish the disease
within him which is struggling to depart. The doctor having, during the patient's agony, slyly inserted a
small white stone into his mouth, he seizes his hands
which he joins together, and keeps blowing on them.
Thus he continues pressing and blowing until the
stone is forced out by the sick man's convulsive efforts.   This he snatches up, and triumphantly pro- 119
duces to the by-slanders as the source of the disease,
which he assures them is now destroyed. The stone
is sometimes enclosed in a piece of cedar bark, and
thrown into the fire. The severe hard-pressing and
pummelling which the patient is obliged to undergo
necessarily produces a considerable change in a
short time; and though death not unfrequently
follows; yet the general potency of such a mode of
treatment is a matter of general belief.
But the white doctor has of late made great in-
.roads on the province of the conjurer, or medicine
man; much of whose occupation is now transferred
to the dispensary or the hospital of Fort Vancouver,
where a single dose of medicine, or a little phlebotomy,
has speedily exorcised the " foul fiend" of the disease.
Indeed, many of the customs of these people are
fast fading away in their increasing intercourse with
civilised men.
On the death of one of these people, the body was
formerly wrapped in skins or mats, and disposed in
a small canoe (now they sefi the skins and use blankets) ; the deceased's arms, and other articles of
general use, being laid beside him. The canoe is
then placed on a platform by the river side, or on
rocks out of the reach of the tide; and other mats
tied over it.     Sometimes  these  sepulchral  canoes W:.
a It  f \
are suspended from boughs of trees, six or eight
feet from the ground.    The canoe in which the body
is placed is perforated at the bottom, for the twofold purpose, of letting out the water that the rains
may have deposited in it, and of preventing it from
ever being used again by the living.     When his
friends can afford the expence, a larger canoe, reversed, is placed over the lower, to protect it from
the rain; and both are firmly tied together.    This
is his  grave.     His wives, relations, and slaves go
into mourning by cutting their hair; and for some
time after his death repair twice a day, at sun rise,
and sun set, to a neighbouring wood to chaunt his
funeral dirge.    Formerly, on the death of a chief,
or other person of wealth and importance, one or more
of his slaves (much of an Indian's importance depending on the number of his slaves) was put to death
for his use in the next world.   But this barbarous
superstition has been abolished through the interposition of the company.    The present governor, Dr.
M'Laughfin, has for this purpose, as well  as  for
many others in which humanity, and the civilisation
of the natives, are concerned, made great exertions.
The salmon season, of those tribes towards the
mouth of the Columbia, commences in June: and
its  opening is  an' epoch looked forward to with
If IV    I
L§^~ 121
much anxiety, and is attended with great formality.
They have a public festival, and offer sacrifices. The
first salmon caught is a consecrated thing; and is
offered to the munificent Spirit," who is the giver of
plenty. They have a superstitious scruple about
the mode of cutting salmon; especially at the commencement of the season, before they have an assurance of a plentiful supply. To cut it crosswise,
and to cast the heart into the water, they consider
most unlucky, and likely to bring on a scarce season.
Hence they are very reluctant to supply the traders
at the stations with any until the season is advanced,
and they can calculate on their probable stock;
lest an" unlucky cross cut by the whitemen may mar
all their prospects. Their mode is to cut it along
the back; they take out the back bone, and most
studiously avoid throwing the heart into the water.
The heart they broil and eat; but will not eat it
after sun set. So plentiful is the fish, that they
supply the white men with it in abundance. It is
now made a lucrative article of foreign trade. Indeed large quantities of it are. sent to the Sandwich
Islands, and other places.
Their canoes vary in size and form. Some are thirty
feet long, and about three feet deep, cut out of a single tree—either fir or white cedar—and capable of IV
carrying twenty persons. They have round thwart pieces from side to side, forming a sort of binders, about
three inches in circumference; and their gunwales
incline outwards, so as to cast off the surge; the
bow and stern being decorated, sometimes, with
grotesque figures of men and animals. In managing their canoes, they kneel two and two along the
bottom, sitting on their heels, and wielding paddles
about five feet long; while one sits on the stern and
steers, with a paddle of the same kind. The womCn
are equally expert in the management of the canoe,
and generally take the helm. It is surprising to see
with what fearless unconcern these savages venture
in their slight barks on the most tempestuous seas.
They seem to ride upon the waves like sea fowl.
Should a surge throw the canoe upon one side and
endanger its overturn, those to windward lean over
the upper gunwale—thrust their paddles deep into
the wave—apparently catch the water, and force it
under the canoe; and, by this action, not merely
regain an equilibrium, but give the vessel a vigorous
impulse forward.
They are rather a diminutive race, generally
varying in height from five feet to five feet five
inches; the women being about six inches shorter.
Their legs are generally crooked; their ancles thick;
LS%~| 123
and their feet flat—a deformity caused, no doubt,
by their passing so much of their time in childhood,
squatting on the calves of their legs and their heels,
in the bottom of their canoes—a favourite position,
which they retain even when on shore. The women
increase this deformity by wearing tight * bandages
round the lower part of their legs. The faces of
both sexes are round—their eyes small and sharp
—their noses broad, flat at the top, and thick
at the end—their nostrils large—their mouths wide
—their lips thick—their teeth short, irregular, and
dirty. In addition to these characteristics, the women have their ears slit—the cartileges of their noses
perforated—and their heads and bodies saturated
with salmon oil. They are inferior in muscular
power and activity to the Indians of the plains,
who hunt the deer and buffalo, and ride on horseback.
In their early intercourse with the whites, they
were but scantily clad; the men being entirely
naked in summer; but in winter wearing a small
robe made of the skins of animals, and reaching
to the middle of the thigh; and sometimes superadding a mantle made of matting, which loosely
covered the shoulders. The women wore a similar
robe, which reached only to the waist; to which was
WlM?rrrrm**--~*ri 124
appended a kind of petticoat, reaching from the
waist to the knee—formed of the fibres of cedar
bark broken into shreds, or a tissue of silk-grass,
twisted and knotted at the ends; but in winter they
added a vest of skins. The men carefully eradicated
every vestige of a beard, considering it a great deformity. But both sexes allowed the hair of the
head, which is coarse and black, and of which they
are very proud, to grow to great length; sometimes
wearing it plaited—sometimes wound round the
head in fanciful tresses. They had conical hats,
with narrow rims, woven of bear-grass, or the fibres
of cedar bark; and exhibiting, in different colours,
various designs—such as representations of canoes,
■men fishing, &c. They also wore ornaments of
bears' claws, elks' tusks, &e, as trophies of hunting
exploits. But an intercourse with the white traders
soon effected a change in the toilets of both sexes;
and they now array themselves in any article of
dress, and use any ornament, they can procure.
According to the general custom of American
savages, when employed in warlike expeditions, they
painted their bodies and faces in the most grotesque
and hideous manner. Their arms were bows and
arrows; spears; and war-clubs two feet and a half
long,   and double   edged.    Some   wore  a corslet 125
formed of pieces of hard wood, laced together with
bear-grass, so as to form a light coat of mail, pliant
to the body; and a light casque of cedar bark, leather, or bear-grass, sufficient to protect the head
from an arrow or a war-club. A more complete
-article of defensive armour was a buff jerkin or
shirt, of great thickness, made of doublings of elk
skin, and reaching to the feet; holes being left for
the head and arms. This was perfectly arrow-proof;
and was, besides, often believed to be endowed with
charmed virtues, imparted by the priests or conjurers of the tribe. It may be observed, that their
only offensive weapon is now the common gun.
Their ideas of religion do not differ much from
those of the natives of the interior. They believe
in an omnipotent and benevolent Spirit, the creator
of all things. They represent him as assuming various shapes at pleasure; but generally give him the
accompaniment of wings. Though he usually inhabits the sun, he occasionally wings his way through
the ethereal regions, and sees all that is doing on
earth: and thunders, tempests, and lightning, are
the modes in which he exhibits his displeasure.
To propitiate his favour, they offer to him, as sacrifices, the first-fruits of their hunting and fishing.
They also believe in  an evil spirit,   who  inhabits
■ 1*
Iff flit
the fire, who is less powerful than the first, and is
occasionally employed to do his services. Therefore
they endeavour, in all their undertakings, to propitiate him by frequent offerings.
They have a belief in a future state of rewards
and punishments. Those who have well and faithfully discharged all the duties of this fife, will go to
a mild and happy region, teeming with all the comforts of existence; while those who pursue an opposite course, will be consigned to a cold and dreary
region, where bitter fruits and salt-water will form
their principal means of subsistence. They have
also a tradition about the origin of mankind: they
believe that man was originally created by the superior deity, but in an imperfect state, being rather
a statue of flesh than a perfect being; but a second
divinity, less powerful, in pity of his helpless condition, opened his eyes; gave him motion; and taught
him all the functions and the arts of life.
They have their priests or conjurers, or medicine
men, who are supposed to be in the confidence of
the deities, and the expounders of their will. Each
of these has his diminutive wooden idols, under some
rude form of a quadruped, or bird, or fish, representing the spirits of the air and fire. These idols
are hung round with amulets and native offerings. 127
such as beavers' teeth, bears' and eagles' claws, Sec.
I have seen the following account in print: but it
is incumbent on me to say, that though I mixed
very much with these tribes, and was acquainted
with their customs, ceremonies, and superstitions,
I neither witnessed myself, nor heard of, such a custom existing among them.
When any chief personage is dangerously ill, the
priests are sent for, who bring their idols. They retire
into a canoe, to hold a consultation, and if they do
not agree as to the malady, or the mode of treatment,
they settle the dispute by beating the idols against
each other; whichever first loses a tooth or a claw,
is considered as confuted, Though this mode of determining the right is not so formidable as the practice of personal combat, or treading the red-hot
ploughshare, once practised in christian Europe, yet
it is considered equally efficacious in arriving at a
satisfactory conviction.
I am willing to believe that such a custom did
exist, and was one of those which the growing intelligence of the natives, in consequence of their
intercourse with civilised men, has tended to abolish.
Indeed, I am the more inclined to this belief, from
my knowledge of the frauds still practised by these
crafty conjurers on the credulity of the natives.    I
«^*-B^ 4 1;
I   '!:
will state an example. In times of pretended in-,
spiration, and communion with the Great Spirit,
they seize a fleshy part of the body, about the stomach and ribs, in one hand, and plunge a dagger
right through the fold, without drawing blood.
This act is taken as a proof of their invulnerability
—a favour granted by the Great Spirit. I have
seen of some of them thus gashed all over the
front of the body. While I was in charge of Fort
George, one of these crafty old priests prepared to
perform this operation in my presence. He grasped
a handful of his flabby flesh, and drew his dagger.
But I instantly checked him; as my acquiescence
would be tortured by him to the natives, into my
belief that he was under divine protection. Besides,
I was responsible for the execution of instructions
from head quarters, to discourage in every way the
superstitious and barbarous practices of the people,
and the impostures of the priests. I observed that
they avoided those parts where they may have a
chance of striking through an artery.
There prevails a singular custom among all the
tribes about the lower part of the Columbia—the
flattening of the forehead, and compression of the
whole head; which gives them a hideous appearance.
Immediately after birth the infant is laid in an ob-
L«i»- BfflB
long wooden trough, by way of cradle, with moss under
it. The end on which the head reposes is raised higher
than the rest. A padding is then placed on the infant's
forehead with a piece of cedar bark over it; it is
pressed down by cords, which pass through holes on
each side of the trough. As the tightening of the
padding, and the pressing of the head to the board,
is gradual, the process is said not to be attended with
much pain.
The appearance of the infant, however, while under
it, is shocking: its little black eyes seem ready to
start from their sockets—the mouth exhibits all the
indications of internal convulsion; and it clearly
appears that the face is gradually undergoing a process of unnatural configuration. About a year's
pressure is sufficient to produce the desired effect.
The head is ever after completely flattened; and
the upper part of it, on the crown, seldom, exceeds
an inch in width. This is deemed a mark of beauty
and distinction, like small and crippled feet among
the Chinese ladies of rank.
All their slaves, whom they purchase from the
neighbouring tribes, have round heads. Every child
of a slave, if not adopted by a member of the tribe,
must be left to nature, and therefore grow up with
around head.    This deformity is, consequently, a
«*«•» 130
mark of their freedom. On examining the skulls of
these people several medical men have declared, that
nothing, short of occular demonstration, could have
convinced them of the possibility of moulding the
human head into such a form.
Though the Indians about the head-waters of the
Columbia, and in the other regions bordering on
the Rocky Mountains, are called " Flat Heads," the
name does not result from such a characteristic deformity, for all these people have round heads ; but
appears to have been originally given them from
caprice, or from an observance of some similarity
in disposition or habit, between them and the savages
of the coast at the mouth of the river. The best
supported opinion is, that they were of the same
original stock with the lower tribes, but discontinued the custom.
They have a great variety of games, which they
pursue often with such ardour, that they would
gamble away everything they possess—even their
wives and children. One of their usual games is this:
One man takes a small stone, which he shifts
from hand to hand repeatedly, all the while hum*
ming a low monotonous air. The bet being made,
according as the adversary succeeds in grasping-
the hand which   contains the   stone,  he wins  or loses. The game is generally played with great
fairness; and the loser submits with the most
philosophical resignation. They are also consummate thieves, and proud of their dexterity, He
who is frequently successful gains applause and
popularity; but the clumsy thief, who is detected,
is scoffed at and despised.
So we find among the modern savages, on the
shores of the Pacific, the same passion for gambling
which, Tacitus says, existed among the aboriginal
Germans; and the same merit attached to dexterous and successful stealing  which existed among
the ancient Spartans.   Like the Spartans, too, they
considered drunkenness a great   degradation, — a
vice fit,only for slaves.   On one occasion the son
of Comcomly, chief of the Chinooks, was induced
to drink at the factory until he became intoxicated.
He then played the most extravagant pranks.    He
was sent  home in that state:  and the old chief
went to the factory in a state of high rage, and reproached the people there for having degraded his
son, and exposed him to the laughter and contempt
of his  slaves.     But, however, they deem it, in
general, no degradation now to get drunk, when
they can.
This noted  chief, Comcomly, was buried with 132
great ceremony, in a canoe near Fort George, in
1831. His body was afterwards taken out of the
canoe, for greater security, by his relations, and
placed, in a long box, in a lonely part of the woods.
But the precaution was idle. His head is now
in the possession of some eminent physician in
Edinburgh ; and, strange to say, although he
had been buried about five years, his skin was
quite dry, and not decayed. It required a very
sharp knife to penetrate the skin; and his hair
was still on his head.
Marriage among them is a matter for previous
negotiation;  and attended with solemnity.    When
a young man has made his choice,  and obtained
consent; the parents, or other   natural  guardians
of the girl, are next to be consulted.    These  are
to receive a certain   quantity of presents,—slaves,
axes, kettles, trinkets, &c     When the amount is
agreed on, they repair  to the house intended for
the young couple, to which  the most respectable
inhabitants of the village are invited.    The young
man,  having distributed the presents, receives, in
the style of the heroes   of the Homeric age,  an
equal, ..often a greater  number,  of  presents from
the girl's relations.    Then the bride, decorated with
various ornaments, is led forth by a few old women*
mm 133
and presented to the bridegroom, who receives her
as. his wife.    The  company,    after  partaking of
hospitality,   and wishing the  young couple  every
happiness—a  numerous   progeny,  abundance, and
peace,   retire.     Though   the   union   is   generally
lasting, it is not indissoluble;   as a man may, for
infidelity, repudiate his  wife;   who is, after that,
at liberty to take another husband.    Polygamy is
not  only allowed, but is a mark  of distinction..
The greater the number of wives a man can maintain the higher is he esteemed.   In fact, the respectability and influence of the chief depends on
the number of wives, slaves, and  other  property
which he possesses; and his election to the office
mainly depends on this qualification.    Though the
wives generally live in harmony together, the first
wife takes precedence  of all the  others, and  is
considered as mistress of the house.
They regulate the prices of their articles by
haiqua, which is a milk-white round shell of extreme
hardness, found in the neighbourhood of Nootka
Sound. It varies in length from one to four inches, and is about half an inch thick — hollow,
slightly carved, and tapering a little towards the
ends. It is highly estimated, the longest being
the most valuable. 134
It resembles the top shank of a common clay
smoking pipe. They are valued in proportion toi the
number that, when ranged on a string, passing
through their hollow tubes, extend a fathom's
length. Forty tot the fathom, is supposed to be the
fixed standard of excellence and worth : for instance,
forty which make a fathom are worth nearly double
fifty which make a fathom, There extreme fragility,
lightness, tenuity, and delicacy of colour, are what
appear to give them their importance. They are
thus caught in Nootka Sound, and along Vancouver's
Island :—a piece of deer flesh, or of fish, is dropped
from a line to the bottom : this they cling to; and
they are then drawn up, and carefully gutted and
Sturgeon fishing.—Sturgeon are caught by the
Chinooks in the following manner. To the line
—which is made from the twisted roots of trees—is
attached a large hook, made of hard wood. This is
lowered some twenty feet below the surface of the
water. The canoes are not more than ten feet
long; manned by never more than two, sometimes
only by one; and slowly drift down the river with
the current. When the sturgeon bites, and they
have him fast, the line is hauled up gently until
they get his head to the water's edge.    He then i3fr
receives a blow from a heavy wooden mallet, which
kills him. The gunwale of the canoe is lowered to
the verge of the water; and the sturgeon, though
weighing upwards of 3001bs., is, by the single effort
of one Indian, jerked into the boat.
A few months since, I saw a paragraph in most
of the largely circulated papers, stating that a sturgeon weighing 300 or 400 pounds had been caught
in the river Thames; and that a host of people,
amounting to 200 or 300, were employed in killing
this fish. I thought that the old saying, of nine
tailors making a man, was exceeded in this case;
as it appears that it took 300 Englishmen to make
one Chinook sturgeon-catcher.
Their houses are constructed of wood, and vary
in length from twenty to seventy feet, and in
breadth from fifteen to twenty-five feet. Two or
more posts of split timber, according to the number
of partitions, are sunk firmly into the ground,
and rise upwards to the height of fifteen or eighteen
feet. They are grooved at the top so as to receive
the ends of a round beam or pole, stretching
from one end to the other, and forming the upper
point of the roof, from one end of the building
to the other. On each side of this range is placed
another row much lower, being about five feet high, ii
which forms the eaves of the house. But as the
building is often sunk to the depth of four or
five feet in the ground, the eaves come very near
the surface of the earth. Smaller pieces of timber
are then extended, by pairs, in the form of rafters
from the lower to the higher beam, and are fastened
at both ends by cords of cedar bark. On these
rafters tWo or three ranges of small poles are placed
horizontally, and in the same way fastened with
similar cords. The sides are then made, with a
range of wide boards sunk a small distance into
the ground, with the upper ends projecting above
the poles of the eaves, to which they are secured
by a beam passing outside, parallel with the eave
poles, and tied by cords of cedar bark passing
through the holes made in the boards at certain
distances. The gable ends and partitions are formed
in the same way; being fastened by beams on the
outside, parallel with the rafters. The roof is then
covered with a double range of thin boards, excepting a space of two or three feet in the centre,
which serves for a chimney. The entrance is by a
hole cut through the boards, and just large enough
to admit the body.
The  largest   houses  are   divided by  partitions;
and three or four families may be found residing 137
in a one-roomed house. In the centre of each
room is a space, six or eight feet square, sunk to
the depth of twelve inches below the rest of the
floor, and enclosed by four pieces of square timber ;
here they make the fire, which is of wood and pine
bark. The partitions in the houses are intended
to separate different families. Around the fireplace mats are spread, and serve as seats by day,
and frequently as beds at night: there is, however, a more permanent bed made, by fixing in
two, or sometimes three, sides of a room, posts
reaching from the roof to the floor, and at the
distance of four feet from the wall. From these
posts to the wall one or two ranges of boards are
placed, so as to form shelves, on which they either
sleep or stow their various articles of merchandise.
In short," they are like berths in a ship. The uncured
fish is hung in the smoke of their fires; as is also
the flesh of the elk when they are fortunate enough
to procure any.
Their culinary articles consist of a large square
kettle, made of cedar wood, a few platters and
spoons made of ash." Their mode of cooking is
expeditious. Having put a quantity of water into
the kettle, they throw into it several hot stones,
which   quickly   cause   the   water   to boil;    then V*
ft I
the fish or flesh is put in; the steam is kept from
evaporating by a small mat thrown over the kettle, By this mode a large salmon would be boiled
in twenty minutes, and meat in a proportionably
short space of time. They occasionally roast their
fish and flesh on small wooden skewers.
For the felling and cutting of trees—sometimes from
thirty to forty feet in circumference—for building
their houses, and forming their canoes, they had
not, previous to their intercourse with the whites,
even an axe. For such immense work their only
instruments consisted of a chisel, formed out of an
old file; a kind of oblong stone used as a hammer, and a mallet, made of spruce-tree knot, well
oiled and hardened by the action of the fire.
They are very ingenious in the construction of
their nets, which are made of a sort of wild hemp,
sometimes called silk grass, found on the upper
borders of the Columbia; or of the fibres of the
roots of trees; or the inner ligaments of the bark
of the white cedar. These nets are of different
kinds, for the different kinds of fishery—the straight
net for the larger fish in deep water; and the
scooping or dipping net for the smaller fish in
the shallower waters. They also use a curious sort
of many-pronged spear, for drawing up small fish. 139
This is a pole set all round with numerous short
wooden little spikes. This they work along against
the current from the canoe, and against the small
fish, that swim onwards in dense masses, At every
take up of this spear, which is done in quick
succession, it is found filled with fishes impaled
on those sharp spikes. In their nets they use
stones in place of lead; and their superior usefulness and adaptation to the fishery of the Columbia, over the nets of the civilised white, may
be shown from the following fact;
A Mr. Wyeth, of Boston, having heard much
of the salmon fishery in the Columbia, and thinking it would afford a profitable trading speculation, chartered a vessel, in 1835; and on his way
took a number of the Sandwich Islanders as fishermen; supplying himself also with a cargo of fishing nets, and a great variety of other fishing apparatus, on the most approved principles. On arriving at the Columbia he set vigorously to work,
dead sure of making a fortune. But his nets were
totally unfit for the occupation; and his exotic fishermen, notoriously familiar as they are with the watery element, were no match for the natives, pursuing
their natural occupation in almost their indigenous
element,  and   so familiar with   the  seasons,   the 140
currents, the localities, and all the many other
circumstances that ensure success. He set up for
a fur trader as well, and imagined that he would
make up his loss in competition against the savages
by his successful competition against, the company.
But his trappers were not more successful than
his fishermen; although the company afforded him
every facility; and he was obliged to quit the
country a disappointed adventurer, having disposed
of his goods and chatties to the company; who,
according to his own written statement, treated
him with generosity. To this fact, which I now
state, Mr. W. Irving bears honourable testimony. twg^a~~."'»"~^" .«,mm
Fort Vancouver—its Farm establishment.
Fobt Vancouver is the head-quarters, establishment,
or grand dep6t of the company, west of the Rocky
Mountains. It is situated near Point Vancouver-
(so called from the celebrated English navigator and
discoverer in those seas), on the north-west of the
Columbia; on a large, level plain, about a quarter of a mile from the shore; and ninety miles from
the Pacific. The river in front of it is seventeen
hundred yards wide, and six fathoms deep. The
whole country round is covered with noble woods,
consisting of many kinds of valuable timber; such
as cedar, pine, &c, interspersed with open and
fertile spaces.   It was founded in 1824, by Governor
Simpson;  as the locality was more convenient for
trade—had a  larger and richer tract of land for
cultivation—and afforded a more convenient landing
place for cargoes from the ships, than the former
-depot—-Fort George (or Astoria)—which lay near
the mouth of the river. W'
I* r
■ !l
Fort Vancouver is then the grand mart, and rendezvous for the company's trade and servants on the Pacific. Thither all the furs and other articles of trade
collected west of the Rocky Mountains from California to the Russian territories, are brought from
the several other forts and stations : and from thence
they are shipped to England. Thither too all the
goods brought from England for traffic—the various
articles in woollens and cottons—in grocery—in
hardware—ready-made clothes—oils and paints—
ship stores, &c, are landed; and from thence they
are distributed to the various posts of the interior,
and along the northern shores by sailing vessels; or by
boat; or pack-horses; as the several routes permit ;
for distribution and traffic among the natives, or
for the supply of the company's servants. In a
word, Fort Vancouver is the grand emporium of the
Company's trade, west of the Rocky Mountains;
as well within the Oregon territory, as beyond it,
from California to Kamschatka.
The present governor is Dr. John M'Loughlin.
He is described by American writers, whom he
entertained in his usual style, as a portly, dignified looking man, almost six feet high; with
a florid complexion—grey hair—large blue eyes-—
an open and benevolent expression of countenance 143
—bland and courteous manners—a generous and
most hospitable disposition. This I know to be
all true. He has been in the service of the company from his youth; to his own credit, and their
great benefit. He has mounted up to his present
high office—the highest—by his diligence, integrity,
and skill. He is thoroughly familiar with the whole
trade, in all its ramifications and minutiae. He has
contributed greatly to bring it to its present high
state: and is making every effort to advance it
farther. He was a very influential partner in
the North-west Company, before its junction with
the Hudson's Bay Company. During his occasional
absence his duties are discharged by his worthy
deputy, J. Douglas, Esq.
The fort is in the shape of a parallelogram, about
250 yards long, by 150 broad; enclosed by a sort
of wooden wall, made of pickets, or large beams
firmly fixed in the ground, and closely fitted together,
twenty feet high, and strongly secured on the inside
by buttresses. At each angle there is a bastion,
mounting two twelve pounders, and in the centre
there are some eighteen pounders; but from the
subdued and pacific character of the natives, and
the long absence of all apprehension, these cannon
have become useless.    The  area within is  divided 144
into two courts, around which are arranged about
forty neat, strong wooden buildings, one story high,
designed for various purposes—such as offices, apartments for the clerks, and other officers—warehouses
for furs, English goods, and other commodities —
workshops for the different mechanics; carpenters,
blacksmiths, coopers/ wheelwrights, tinners, &c; in
all of which there is the most diligent and unceasing
activity and industry. There is also a school-house,
and chapel; and a powder magazine, built of brick
and stone.
In the centre stand the governor's residence, which
is two stories high—the. dining hall; and the public sitting room. All the clerks and officers, including
the chaplain and physician,, dine together in the hall;
the governor presiding. The dinner is of the most
substantial kind, consisting of several courses. Wine
is frequently allowed; but no spirituous liquors.
After grace has been said, the company break np.
Then most of the party retire to the public sitting
room, called " Bachelor's Hall," or the smoking room ;
to amuse themselves as they please, either in smoking,
reading, or telling and listening to stories of their
own, and others' curious adventures. Sometimes
there is a great influx of company, consisting of the
chief traders from the outposts, who arrive at the 14£
fort on business; and the commanders of vessels.
These are gala times after dinner; and there is a
great deal of amusement, but always kept under
strict discipline, and regulated by the strictest propriety. There is, on no occasion, cause for ennui, or
a lack of anecdote and interesting narrative; or indeed of any intellectual amusement; for if smoking
and story-telling be irksome, then there is the horse
ready to mount, and the rifle prepared. The voyageur and the trapper, who have traversed thousands of
miles through wild and unfrequented regions; and
the mariner, who has circumnavigated the globe, may
be found grouped together, smoking, joking, singing,
and story telling; and in every way banishing dull
care, till the period of their again setting out for
their respective destinations arrive.
The smoking room, or "bachelors' hall," presents
the appearance of an armoury and a museum. All
sorts of weapons, and dresses, and curiosities of civilised and savage life, and of the various implements
for the prosecution of the trade, may be seen there.
The mechanics, and other servants of the establishment, do not dine in the hall, or go to the smoking
The clerks, after passing through many stages of
trust and emolument, are promoted to the post of 146
ft >
chief trader: after that to the post of chief factor;
then they ascend to become shareholders of the company, and governors of forts. But all the gradations
of promotion are, in general, dependant on skill, industry, and integrity. Indeed, throughout the
various ramifications and degrees of this vast, and
wide-spread commercial association, there is less
favouritism than could be expected, and less than in
any other mercantile institution: almost all the
patronage of the company is bestowed as the reward
of merit, and long service. The precision, order, and
regularity with which the various operations are carried on, together with the strict decorum and sobriety
observed, are entitled to the highest Commendation ;
and excite the wonder of the Americans.
The school is for the benefit of the half breed
children of the officers and servants of the company,
and of many orphan children of Indians who have
been in the company's employment. They are taught
English (sometimes French), writing, arithmetic and
geography; and are Subsequently either apprenticed
to traders in Canada; or kept in the company's service.
The front square is the place where the Indians
and trappers deposit their furs, and other articles,
and make.their sales, &c.    There may be seen, too' great numbers of men sorting and packing the various goods; and scores of Canadians beating and
cleaning the furs from the dust and vermin and
coarse hairs, previous to exportation.
Six hundred yards below the fort, and on the bank
of the river, there is a neat village, of about sixty
well built wooden houses, generally constructed like
those within the fort; in which the mechanics, and
other servants of the company, who are in genera^
Canadians and Scotchmen, reside with their families.
They are built in rows, and present the appearance
of small streets.    They  are kept in a clean and
orderly   manner.     Here there is  an  hospital, in
which the invalided servants of the company, and,
indeed, others who may wish to avail themselves of it,
are treated with the utmost care.    This is attended
by Dr. Tolmic, the resident surgeon of the fort.
Many of the officers of the company marry half
breed women. These discharge the several duties of
wife and mother with fidelity, cleverness, and attention. They are, in general, good housewives; and
are remarkably ingenious as needlewomen. Many
of them, besides possessing a knowledge of English,
speak French correctly, and possess other accomplishment ; and they sometimes attend their husbands,
on their  distant and tedious  journeys and voya- II
1  :
ges. These half-breed women are of a superior
class; being the daughters of chief traders and
factors, and other persons, high in the company's
service, by Indian women, of a superior descent or
of superior personal attractions. Though they generally dress after the English fashion, according as
they see it used by the English wives of the superior
officers, yet they retain one peculiarity—the leggin
or gaiter, which is made (now that the tanned deerskin has been superseded) of the finest, and most
gaudy coloured oloth, beautifully ornamented with
The lower classes of the company's servants marry
native women, from the tribes of the upper country;
where the women are round-headed, and beautiful.
These, too, generally speaking, soon learn the
art of useful housewifery with great adroitness
and readiness; and they are encouraged and
rewarded in every way by the company, in their
efforts to acquire domestic economy and comfort.
These too, imitate, in costume, the dress of the officers' wives, as much as they can; but from their
necessities of position, which exposes them more to
wet and drudgery, they retain the mocassin, in place
of adopting the low-quartered shoe, This is made of
deer skin, dressed under a peculiar process;  the most important of which is seasoning over warm
smoke, by which the leather is rendered perfectly
waterproof. These mocassins are so elastic that they
can be drawn on like a stocking; and so light that
they serve the purposes of high shoe and stocking
together. They are open partly down the front;
one side lapping over the other; and fastened with
a long strip of the same leather—drawn upwards—
passing two or three times round the leg.
The half-breeds are a very well featured race; and
the men are remarkably ingenious, athletic, and vigorous. In horsemanship they are singularly adroit.
Nor is this to be wondered at; for in fact they have
been reared from their extremest youth to the
management of the horse, accompanying their parents, generally, in their trapping journeys over the
plains and hills on horseback. One of these practised
half-breeds would receive applause from Alexander
of Macedon himself, or the best tutored equestrian
at Astley's. He would mount the wildest and most
high-mettled Bucephalus of the plains—give him full
play over level and rough—Jiigh and low—river and
hill, until he brought him back as tame as a mouse.
The cleverest fellow, of this school, I ever saw was
' Joseph M'Loughlin, a natural son of the present governor, by a haltbreed woman. He was a person of some 150
^ little distinction from the accident of his birth, independently of his astonishing equestrian capabilities*
In seeing his feats, when managing a wild stallion, that
gallopped and plunged to desperation,—clinging to
the animal, as if he were an inseparable part of him
—playfully tossing his bare head over the upreared
head of the horse, while his breech clung to his back
with the tenacity of wax; and his heels seemed glued
to his ribs; with his hands fastened in the mane;
he completely explained to me the fabulous stories
which I read in my boyhood of the Centaurs; for I
at once saw that there was some ground for the old
pictures of poets and painters, in drawing a compound animal—man and horse.
The mode generally adopted in catching the
wild horse is by the lasso, or noose rope. An experienced and well mounted man, riding a practised
horse, gallops up to a herd, holding his head as close
to his horse's flowing mane as possible, for a disguise.
Thus he is enabled to approach the herd. The herd,
on seeing him fully, then scamper off, from an instinctive dread of danger. But he gallops on until
he comes within effective range, and has taken his
aim. He then lets fly his noose, which is at the end
of a long rope, kept previously coiled up. This is discharged like a stone from a sling; and is thrown with 151
such unerring precision, that the horse's neck is caught
in the noose. He is at once prostrated. The rider dismounts and fetters him. He is soon afterwards tamed.
Sometimes the horses are thus caught when roaming at large, in the wide and open plain; but the
more general custom now is for a number of horsemen to scare them into a kind of enclosed park,
where the process of catching is rendered more easy
and expeditious. Sometimes these ropes are made
of the coarse, strong hemp of the country; but
generally of thongs from the tanned buffalo hide,
as this substance, from its superior weight, strength,
and elasticity, is discharged from the hand with
greater force, and effects its purpose with speedier
and surer effect.
Attached to the fort there is a magnificent farm;
consisting of about 3000 acres; of which about 1500
-acres have been already brought to the highest state
of tillage. It stretches behind the fort, and on both
•sides, along the banks of the river. It is fenced into
beautiful corn fields—vegetable fields—orchards—
gardens^—and pasture fields, which are interspersed
with dairy houses, shepherds' and herdsmen's cottages.
It is placed under the most judicious management :
and neither expence nor labour has been spared
to bring it to the most perfect cultivation.     There
1 152
fnl I y
Ej: )
is a large grist mill, and a threshing mill, which are
worked by horse power; and a saw mill worked by
water power.    All kinds of grain and vegetables,
and many species of fruits, are produced there in
abundance and of superior quality.    The grain crops
are produced without manure;  and the wheat crop,
especially, is represented by practical farmers to be
wonderful.     It must,  however, be observed,  that
Indian corn does not thrive there so well as in
other soils.   But this is not considered as any matter for regret or loss.   Melons and grapes grow there
remarkably well.    But perhaps the greatest curiosity
of all is to be seen in the dwarf apple trees.    These
grow thickly, and are so loaded with fruit of the best
quality, that it is necessary to prop up the branches
to prevent them from breaking:   the apples grow
packed together, resembling onions fastened in rows on
a string.    The whole farm is in charge of a most experienced farmer, Mr, G. Allen, a Scotchman,    There
is also a principal gardener, Mr. Bruce, a Scotchman.
Mr. Allen having been placed as agent for the company at the Sandwich Islands, Mr. George Roberts,
whose skill, and zeal pointed him out to the company
as one worthy of promotion and confidence, was
selected as the fittest successor to Mr. Allen in his
important post,
I flu. 153
Besides this farm, which they are every day extending, they have commenced farming on a large
scale on the Cowilitze, to the north; Umpqua, to
the south ; and in other parts of the territory,
where they have established posts, the produce of
all which they use for exportation both to the Russian stations, in Kamskatka (as they entered into
a contract with the Russians, in 1839, to supply
their posts in those regions with provisions at fixed
prices), and to the islands in the Southern Pacific;
and to British and American whalers, and to other
merchant ships.
They also keep scores of woodcutters, employed^to
fell timber, which is sawed up in large quantities—
3,000 feet a day, and regularly shipped for the
Sandwich Islands, and other foreign parts. And
as they can afford to sell the goods purchased in
England under a contract of old standing, together
with the productions of the territory and their
own farms,—fish, beef, mutton, pork, timber, &c,
at nearly half the American price, they are likely to
engross the whole trade of the Pacific, as they do
already the trade of the Oregon; especially since
they command all the ports and safe inlets of the
country.   This the Americans feel and declare; and
i 154
it is this that whets their cupidity, and excites their
jealousy and hatred.
Trapping Parties leaving Vancouver.—These parties
are some weeks preparing for the mountains, and
prairies. The blacksmiths are busily engaged making beaver traps for the trappers—the store keepers making up articles for trade, and equipping the
men (as each of them takes from the store every
requisite article) the clerk, in charge of the provision store (generally called, after the French, de-
pance), packing up provisions for them, to last until
they get into hunting ground—the clerk in charge of
the farm providing horses, and other requisite articles.
The party generally consists of about fifty or sixty
men—most of them the company's servants—^others,
free hunters. The servants have a stated salary,
while the freemen receive so much per skin. Previous to leaving the fort for their arduous adventure
they are allowed a small quantity of rum per man ;
and they generally enjoy a grand holiday and feast
the night previous to starting. Each man has a certain number of horses, sufficient to carry his equipment. The free trappers generally provide their own
animals. Both the company's servants and the freemen frequently take their wives and families with 155
them: the women are very useful on the expedition, in
preparing meals and other necessaries for their husbands during their absence from the camp. In summer and winter, whether they have a sort of travelling camp or a fixed residence, they select the
localities that most abound in fur-bearing animals.
Though a party may be obliged, from a variety
of circumstances, to winter in the plains, or in the
recesses of the mountains; on the borders of lakes
or rivers, some numbers of it return to the fort at
the fall, with the produce of the season's hunt, and
report progress; and return to the camp with a
reinforcement of necessary supplies. Thus the company are enabled to acquire a minute knowledge of
the country and the natives; and extend their
power and authority over both.
Certain gentlemen of the company have been appointed, by act of parliament, justices of the peace;
who are empowered to entertain prosecutions for
minor offences, and to impose punishment-—to arrest and send to Canada criminals of a higher order
for trial; and also to try, and give judgment in civil
suits, where the amount in dispute does not exceed £200; and, in case of non-payment, to imprison the debtor, at their own forts, or in the jails
of Canada. 156
Mr. M'Kay, one of the principal officers in charge
of the Hudson's Bay Company's trapping party in
the Snake country, is a gentleman of great intelligence and natural astuteness, and also of good feeling ; and is quite as much at home in the prairies
and wildernesses as he is in a fort. I recollect a
story related by him, in " bachelors' hall." He was
speaking of a son of a Mr. Bird, a gentleman
some years ago in the service of the company,
This young Bird (and a wild bird he proved to be) re*
ceived a fair education, and could converse in French
and English. He was some time in the company's
service; but, finding the work too hard for him,
joined the Blackfeet Indians, and was made a chief;
and he took several daughters of chiefs for bis wives,
and became a man of some note and respect. He
received, amongst the trappers, the nick-name of
Jemmy Jock. He had then been living with the
Indians twenty years, and was much disliked by the
American trapping parties; in fact, it has been said
that the Americans did once offer 500 dollars for his
head, as they supposed he had been a leader amongst
a tribe of Blackfeet when an American party was
cut off by them.
Mr. M'Kay said, he was once encamped in the
plain, and imagined that the Blackfeet must be iu 157
the vicinity of the camp, by various marks.   He accordingly, at night, gave strict orders to the Canadians on watch to keep a good look out; Which they
didj with rifle in hand.    But this Jemmy Jock, dressed as a Canadian voyageur, managed to enter the
camp unobserved—walked up to the chief man on
watch; and, addressing him in Canadian French, said
that he had " received orders that the horses which
were in the camp should be turned out to graze."
The watchman, taking it for granted that the order
came from M'Kay, ordered the horses to be let out. But
before long the camp was roused by the loud whoop
of the Blackfeet: some of the horses were mounted;
and others driven off before the marauding party;
the poor trappers being left to make the best of their
way through the plains as they could.    Sometimes
in travelling through the plains the company's trappers fall in with a letter, tied to a stick, left by
this humorous half-'breed, to announce that he has
camped at this spot with his party a short  time
previous—sometimes giving them good information ;
and sometimes intending to mislead, and play them
a frolicksome or mischievous trick.
Rifle-shots.—It is generally a custom amongst first
rate rifle-shots, in the service, to have a favourite
rifle.    This rifle always being practised with, they u
are sure to hit the mark. It is frequently seen,
that, by a good rifleman, a duck's head is knocked
off at 120 yards. This Mr. M'Kay is an excellent
shot. He says that he generally shoots the bear in
the mouth, to save the skin. During the leisure
hours in the summer months, at the fort, after business hours, the officers often amuse themselves at
rifle-shooting; and at eighty yards, the bull's-eye
is seldom missed: and once or twice a Week, the
riding horses are generally brought into the Fort
for the officers to recreate themselves with a ride.
Here we had an old and favourite servant, who
was cook, and whose name was Overy, a Canadian,
He was never more happy than when he was able to
play off his pranks with any of the sailors, when a
vessel lay in the river. At one time, on the arrival
of a vessel from England, there was" on board a
curious, eccentric old boatswain, who had, previously
to joining the company's service, been on board a
man-of-war. The cook and the boatswain became
very familiar; and the cook was invited on board
the vessel to dine with the boatswain. The invitation was accepted; and the compliment was returned on the Sunday following. Overy not knowing what to get good enough for his dear and hospitable friend, the boatswain, bethought him of a 159
dog, which is a favourite dish amongst Canadian
voyageurs. The old boatswain ate heartily of it, as
did the cook. After he had done, the cook inquired
how he had enjoyed his dinner: he said it was beautiful. He then asked him whether he knew what
he had been dining on: he said he supposed from a
goat. " Yes," says the cook, " you have been eating
from a goat with von long tail, that don't like grass
or heather." " How is that ?" inquired the boatswain. " Vy you see," replied the cook, " it was my
best dog, you have dined from." The old boatswain
stormed and swore; and then ran, as fast as possible,
to the vessel, to get a little rum to lay his stomach.
He vowed that he never again wished to dine with
a Canadian cook, or eat pet dogs.
In 1829, a beautiful brig—the William and Ann ;
sent from England for the company's use—in entering the river, was driven on a shoal, between Cape
Disappointment and Point Adams. A report was
given to the gentleman in charge of Fort George
that a vessel was wrecked on the Bar. A search was
immediately made; and it was found that the report
was true. A boat was found driven on shore: and
the stem had been cut as if by an axe. The body
of the captain alone was found. The whole of the
crew perished; and it was generally supposed that tofl
!    !
some of them had got on shore, but were destroyed
by the Clatsop Indians; in whose possession were
found numerous articles which had drifted on shore.
In fact, they had a great quantity of the cargo, with
several puncheons of rum, buried under the sands
on the beach. The governor of Fort Vancouver
sent down an interpreter, and several men, to endeavour to gain information respecting the lost
ship; and to get from the natives the things
which had drifted on shore. But the natives merely
sent impertinent messages, and an old broken paper-
framed looking-glass; and told him to be contented
with that. This strengthened the governor's suspicion, and he thought part of the crew had been murdered. To gain the articles in possession of the
Indians, he was obliged to send a strong party of
krmed men amongst them; and drive them from
their village into the woods, before they could gain
the articles. From that hour to this, the natives
have shrunk from tampering with anything under
the company's protection.
The year following, a splendid brig—the Isabella
—commanded by Captain Ryan, shared the same
fate. She drove upon the sands: but the whole of
the crew were saved; and, by the prompt exertions
of Dr. M'Loughlin, and the officers of Fort Van- 161
couver, great part of the cargo was saved: but the
vessel went to pieces ; and was drifted, piecemeal, to
A little time previous to my leaving the country,
Michel Laframboise,   the   gentleman in charge of
the trapping parties hunting the plains near California, brought news of an American party having
been cut off.   This party had left the Wallamette settlement ; and were proceeding to California, to purchase cattle.     Some   Americans, previous to this
party, had been on the same route, and an Indian
had been murdered by them.    But Indians always
wait for revenge—so did they in this instance.    The
Indians, finding that this party consisted of Americans only, thought it offered them their long-looked-
for opportunity of revenge.    They had, it was supposed, been watching the Americans on their journey,  for   days;   and   knowing that   these had to
cross a high mountain, where there was but a narrow and crooked path to guide them;   which was
lined by rocks and bushes on each side, selected
this as the spot of attack.   The path was so narrow,
that their horses were obliged to walk single, one
after the other.    After the party had gone some
distance up the mountain, the Indians completely
closed them in, and let fly their arrows and guns; 162
killing both horses and men. The Americans, having
but little chance of defence or retaliation, as the
Indians were sheltered by the rocks and bushes,
were slain unresistingly. One little half-breed boy,
named Johnson, after three arrows had pierced him,
was in the act of firing his gun, when a fourth
arrow struck him in the throat and killed him.
Two men only were saved to tell the tale.
On one occasion an American vessel, Captain
Thompson, was in the Columbia, trading furs and
salmon. The vessel had got aground, in the upper
part of the river, and the Indians, from various
quarters, mustered with the intent of cutting the
Americans off, thinking that they had an opportunity
of revenge, and would thus escape the censure of
the company. Dr. M'Loughlin, the governor of
Fort Vancouver, hearing of their intention, immediately despatched a party to their rendezvous;
and informed them that if they injured one American, it would be just the same offence as if they
had injured one of his servants, and they would be
treated equally as enemies. This stunned them;
and they relinquished their purpose ; and all retired to their respective homes. Had not this come
to the governor's ears the Americans must have
perished. 163
1 ft
Morfe  0/ curing salmon.—As soon as a cargo of
salmon is caught, the natives bring it to the trading
post in their canpes.    A number of Indian women
are employed by  the trader, seated on the beach,
with knives, ready to cut up the fish.    The salmon
are counted from each Indian, for which a ticket
is given for the quantity, large or small.    After the •
whole of the salmon are landed, the Indians congregate round the trading shop for their payment,
and receive ammunition, baize, tobacco, buttons, &c.
The women employed by the  trader commence
cutting out the back-bones, and cut off the heads of
the salmon.    They are then taken to the salter, and
placed in a large hogshead, with a quantity of coarse
salt.    They remain there for several days, until they
become quite firm.    The pickle produced from these
is boiled in a large copper kettle; and the blood, which
floats by the boiling process to the top, is skimmed
off, leaving the pickle perfectly clear.  The salmon are
then taken from the hogshead and packed in tierces,
with a little more salt; the tierces are then headed
up, and laid upon their bilge, or widest part, leaving
the  bung-hole  open;   the  pickle  is   next poured
in, until the tierce becomes   full; a circle of clay,
about four  inches high, is then made round the
bung-hole, into which the oil from the salmon rises. iS^m
This oil is skimmed off; and, according as the salmon imbibes the pickle, more pickle is poured in,
so as to keep the liquid sufficiently on the surface,
and afford facility for skimming off the oil. After
the oil ceases to rise to the circle round the bung
hole, the salmon is then supposed to be sufficiently
prepared; the clay circle is cleared away, and the
hole is bunged up. Salmon, so cured, will keep
good for three years. This, soaked in a little water for a few hours previous to using, is delicious
eating; but, of course, much of its dehciousness
depends on its original quality when taken, and its
freshness when put in salt.
The dogs are very fond of the raw salmon.
The Indian dogs, which are a sort of half wolf
breed, with sharp nose and long bushy tail, eat it
with perfect safety; but it is fatal to English dogs.
I lost three valuable dogs in this way, before I was
aware of its fatal effects. They slunk into the
woods, and pined away until they died. On opening them, I found the gall bladder as hard as a
The company have already established the following principal trading forts or stations within
the limits of the territory, independently of
minor and temporary posts, and several migratory 165
establishments on the frontiers of California, and
the country extending towards the confines of the
United States. In short, it may be said, that they
have taken possession of every district within the
whole region; which, throughout its wild and rugged
parts, as-well as its fertile parts, is dotted with
their forts and establishments; and they exercise
unrestrained trade and intercourse with all the native tribes; whereas the Americans, with the exception of a few missionary and agricultural establishments, have scarcely any possession or hold of the
They possess, then, the following principal posts :
—Fort Vancouver, on the north bank of the Columbia, ninety miles from the ocean, and in latitude
45£°, longitude 122° 30'; Fort George (formerly Astoria), near the mouth of this river; Fort Nasqually,
on Pugetfs Sound, latitude 47"; Fort Langley, at
the outlet of Frazer's River, latitude 49° 25'; Fort
M'Loughlin, on Milbank Sound, latitude 52°; Fort
Simpson, on Dundas Island, latitude 541°; Frazer's
Fort, Fort James, M'Leod's Fort, Fort Chilcotin,
and Fort Alexandria, on Frazer's River, and its
branches, between the 51° and 541° parallels of latitude ; Thompson's Fort, on Thompson's River, a
tributary of Frazer's, latitude 50";   Kootiana Fort, 166
on Flatbow River; Flathead Fort, on Flathead River;
Fort Hall, and Fort Boisais, on the Saptin, or Snake
River; Fort Colville, and Fort O'Kanagan, on the
Columbia,, above its junction with the Saptin; Fort
Perces, or Wallawalla, a few miles below the junction ; Fort M'Kay, at the mouth of the Umqua
River, latitude 43" 30*, and longitude 124" west.
In addition to these establishments, they have an
immense number of boats and canoes, for trading
on all the lakes, and rivers, and streams of the interior, by means of which they hold communication with their possessions east of the Rocky Mountains, and carry up the communication to Hudson's
Bay, along a distance of several thousand miles.
Besides these, they have powerful steamers, heavily
armed, which run along the coast, and among its
bays and inlets, for the double purpose of commerce
and protection against aggressions in those seas.
They have likewise several sailing vessels for these
purposes, varying from two to five hundred tons
burthen, completely armed and equipped; besides
barges for the conveyance of goods to the lower
part of the river; and other craft, during the salmon
season, for the conveyance of supplies to the fishing
stations on the parts of the river unnavigable to the
larger craft. Wappatoo Island and Wallamette Settlement.
Five miles below Fort Vancouver, and on the opposite, or southern side, there is an island called
Wappatoo Island. It lies between the two entrances
of the river Wallamette, which flows into the Columbia; and is nearly triangular. Its northern
side, facing the Columbia, is about fifteen miles long;
the side bounded by the eastern branch, or mouth
of the Wallamette, is about seven miles long; and
the side bounded by the western branch of this river
is about twelve miles. It derives its name from its
great abundance of an esculent root called Wappatoo ; a name which the Indians give the potatoe.
This root is oblong, about one inch long and half
an inch thick, resembling the lower end of a small
parsnip. The Indians use it for food; and I have
seen flocks of swans, which abound in these parts,
dig it up with their bills, as it grows only a few
inches below the surface. Its taste resembles
that of the potatoe. 168
On this island, and on an elevated situation, near
the point where the mouths of the Wallamette
branch off, Captain Wyeth, of Boston, founded a
settlement, when he commenced his fishing and
fur trading projects; but which has since been
abandoned, with the abandonment of his projects.
The vegetation is generally good; but in the central
parts there are marshes, in which the water rises
and falls with the tide, and overfloods the land.
It is covered, in most parts, with different kinds of
timber, but principally oak and pine. A few hogs
placed on it a few years ago by the Company have
increased to large herds,which subsist on the wappatoo,
acorns, &c.; and are become a source of profit, by
supplying pork for the home consumption, and for
exportation. On the island the company have also
established a large dairy farm.
The upper, or eastern mouth of the Wallamette
is about half the breadth of the Columbia; the
river itself, which flows nearly due north, is navigable to the distance of twenty-five miles for large
vessels, and is studded with numerous islands, on
which the timber is chiefly oak, very little pine (if
any) growing there. The further navigation of the
river is obstructed by rapids, and is completely
barred by cataracts, or falls, about* a mile above the 169
rapids. The tide ascends as far as these rapids, which
can be passed only by canoes. The Cow country,
on the western banks, is generally high land, covered
with wood, principally pine, rising from the water
side. The land on the eastern side is undulating,
and admirably calculated for cultivation. The river
receives many tributaries; but one of the most
considerable is one which flows from the east,
and rushes into the Wallamette with such force,
just below the rapids, as to create a heavy and
dangerous swell. As far as the rapids the breadth
of the river is about five hundred yards. The falls
consist of three successive cascades, in which the
water is precipitated through deep gullies worn
into ledges of black rock, running in an irregular
diagonal across the bed of the river. The noise
of the water is almost deafening, resembling the
roar of the loudest thunder; and the appearance
of the spray, acted on by the sun's rays, is almost
dazzling. The" eastern shore, for some distance
below the falls, is a perpendicular cliff, thirty feet
high. On the top of this cliff there is a sort of
small plain; and as the valley of the Wallamette
is the most fertile district in all Columbia,
and best calculated for the production of corn
(since the country round about abounds in excellent 170
timber of different kinds) and as the falls can be
approached from above, as well as from below, by
sloops, schooners, steamers, &c,; this small plot of
level ground on the precipitous bauk of the river
at the lowest cascade is admirably calculated as a
site for flour and saw mills. When I left the
country the company, seeing all these advantages,
were forming a raceway at the falls; and were
drawing timber to the ground, with a view to erect
some such works there. Formerly it was necessary
to unload at the commencement of the falls; and
convey canoes, luggage and all, overland to the
other end, till there was deep and smooth water
found again.
It is a curious sight to observe the salmon ascending these waterfalls. They seem to measure
the height and distance, and their own strength,
accurately. They appear to put their tails in their
mouths; and having drawn the body to the proper
curve, and produced the necessary tension and poise,
they let go their hold and spring upward (outside
the descending sheet of water), like an arrow shot
from a bow, and reach the next basin into which
the water is precipitated. Having there, as it were,
taken breath, and recruited their strength after such
an effort, they renew the attempt, over the succes- 171
sive cataracts, until they reach the smooth river
above. They generally succeed; some, however,
fail, and get sadly battered against the rocks.
A short distance above the Falls, the mountains
immediately rise from the water's edge, and are
clothed with forests of the largest timber, to the
distance of about fifteen miles along the river ; and
after that the country opens on both sides into
rich level, or undulating ground, spreading to a great
extent. This section of the river is navigable nearly
for as large vessels as can navigate the section below the Falls.
, It is in this fertile district, near the banks of the
river, at the distance of about fifty miles from its
entrance into the Columbia, that the Wallamette
settlement has been established.
The Americans make a great boast of this settlement as an American establishment; and speak of
it in their public papers and speeches, as if it were
a settlement exclusively American, and founded by
Americans, capable of being made the nucleus of a
great community — that it is a most thriving
colony—that it continues the right of possession
to the government of the States—that it owes no
favour to, and is independent of, the Hudson's
Bay   Company — that   there  it   stands,   and   will N
stand, a memorial of American right — that it
is the duty of the American government to protect it; while it holds out every incentive to industrious and enterprising citizens to join it. All
this, and much more, has been said and written
by gasconading traders on the passions and weakness of the populace, about this vaunted establishment : and has been believed, It is not very surprising that any extravagant story, which flattered
the vanity, or excited the hopes or the cupidity
of such a people as the Americans, should gain
credence in the States; especially if it be seasoned
with bitterness against the "Britishers." Much
of this misrepresentation and exaggerating nonsense
has been believed too in England; simply because
the public could not imagine that statements so
pertinaciously reiterated could be without, at least,
some foundation; and because no attempts were
made by those acquainted with the real state of the
case to disabuse the British public of their misconception, on this, and other points of importance;
such as the right of possession.
The Hudson's Bay Company, who had the best
means of refuting the statements of the United
States' writers, evidently despised and disregarded
those  statements.     They   were   content,  not only IITrTOiKi
with the possession of the country, as the chief partners, and with the almost exclusive enjoyment of
its trade; but rested on the consciousness of their
just, moral, and judicious conduct as traders, and
occupiers under, their right of imperial tenure:
and they fairly and naturally concluded that it
would tend to throw a doubt on the justice of
their claim, if they were to enter into a controversy about it. Their claim they considered to
be undeniably just; and its vindication to be the
duty  of the legislature  alone.
Now the plain history of the origin and progress
of this settlement is  simply this.
About seventeen or eighteen years ago, when the
settlement at Vancouver, as the western headquarters of the company, acquired a distinguished
and very prominent position, and became the rallying point for all the servants of the company far
and near; when the surrounding country became
well explored; when, from the long and undisputed
possession of it by the company, it began to be
considered by the company's servants as British
land—British, too, as to its climate, and the capabilities of the soil—some of the company's servants,
when they had determined to enjoy the tranquillity
of independent retirement after their long and ar- ■am
duous services, fixed on the banks of the Wallamette as their last place of residence; rather
than return to Canada, or Scotland, or England,
from which they were weaned by long absence.
The company gave every encouragement for the
formation of a settlement; giving them stock, &c,
to   start with.
By and bye, some of the company's officers (I
may especially mention one—Mr. M'Kay, the well
known and meritorious director of the Rocky Mountain trapping parties) thought this commencement
afforded a fair opportunity of becoming settlers, consecutively with the retention of their connexion
with the company; and they opened farms there.
The speculation went on thrivingly: and the opinion spread abroad, even to the United States,
through means of the American free trappers, that
a rising colony would be soon established in that
locality; and that the success of this, under such
powerful auspices as those of the company, would
gradually lead to the colonization of the whole
lower region, where it was capable of colonization.
This impression the company's chief officers did not
attempt to remove. They, on the contrary, rather
wished to afford every encouragement and facility for
the progress of improvement and civilisation. The Americans, who had already made many attempts to effect a lodgment in the country, but
on every occasion failed, either from their want of
skill, or of capital, or of integrity in their dealings
with the natives—whether they attempted fur trading
companies or fishing companies—having now seen
that a fair opportunity of securing a possession was
opened to them under the company's shelter, bethought them of despatching missionaries, with the
ostensibly benevolent and christian view of giving
religious culture to the rude, and ill-educated servants of the company, and the denizens of this
growing  little community.
A few missionaries did arrive: and they, as was
becoming their professed purpose, received every encouragement and favour from the governor of Fort
Vancouver—Dr. M'Loughlin; and, as became their
true purpose, commenced resident farmers—teaching,
it is true, the natives the great elements of
Christianity, and forms of prayer—but using their
gratuitous labour for the cultivation of their fields.
These missionaries did not " hide their lamp under
a bushel," but, on the contrary, " proclaimed their
light before all men," and sent to the States flattering accounts of their success. The consequence
was, that some adventurers,  with a httle property, —-^«-i^"i
were induced to brave the perils of the long and
formidable journey (leaving millions of more fertile
acres at home, requiring less capital and labour
for cultivation) to the Oregon. Some of these settlers came in their real character of farmers; but
they were very few. Others came in the guise of
missionaries—such missionaries as their predecessors—men who give a little preaching as an equivalent for much bodily labour performed by the native
converts. Some of these have located themselves
in other districts: and hence there are, by American writers, given the most pompous accounts—
accounts, to those who are acquainted with the
real facts, sometimes laughable, and sometimes
calculated to excite indignation and disgust—of
American settlements.
While I was stationed at Vancouver; and in the
detached forts; and in the trading ships, the excessively benevolent encouragement granted by the
governor to the new importation of American residents, under the designation of missionary-settlers,
used to be freely discussed. There were two parties—the patriot, and the liberal. The arguments,
pro and con, may be summed up thus: the British, or patriots, maintained that the governor was
too   chivalrously   generous — that   his   generosity
ts^- 177
was thrown away,  and   would be  badly requited
—that he was nurturing a race of men who would
by-and-by rise from  their meek and  humble position as the   grateful acknowledgers  of his kindness,  into the bold attitude of questioners of his
own authority, and the British right to Vancouver
itself.    This party grounded their arguments on an
appeal to the conduct and character of the Americans
whom they had seen—especially the free trappers;
and the remnants of the American companies which
still dodged about in the country.    They did too
take into account the missionaries, who were then
tried; and who, of course, did everything in their
power to conciliate, at their first appearance on such
a new stage, the good opinion of those whose applause or condemnation could retain, or expel them
from the scene of their labours, and prospects.    This
party had a very lively feeling for the improvement of
the Indians in all the arts of civilisation; and thought
that if any attempts were made for the conversion
of the natives to Christianity, and to their adoption
of more humanised institutions (which they limited
to British institutions) a solid and permanent foundation should be laid—the Indians should not be
instructed by halves—a thoroughly lasting system
should be adopted towards them; which would make 178
them not merely professed, but practical, christians.
Something more than making them the observers
of forms, and the repeaters of prayers, was requisite;
especially as most of the tribes already believed in
many of the great cardinal points of Christianity—
such as the existence of a good and evil Spirit—the
creation of the world by the Good Spirit—the immortality of the soul—a future state of rewards
and punishments. They also maintained that the
missionaries should be missionaries in reality—men
looking to the successful termination of their labours
as their principal reward—men above the imputation
or suspicion of being guided by self-interest, in their
exertions—men who would not squat, as permanent
and fixed husbandmen, and occasional traffickers
in skins of animals, among the natives; using them
as farm labourers : but that they should be bona fide
pastors of the christian church—going about in the
true spirit of primitive Christianity—instructing the
people in the cardinal doctrines of our religion, and
in the arts of civilised life. Furthermore, they used
to maintain, that, if missionaries at all were to be
introduced, or sanctioned in the country, this useful class of men—a class calculated to exercise such
vital influence over the character and condition of
the natives—should come within the direct control 179
of the dominant power, i. <?., the British poWer; and
should be the countrymen of those who absolutely
occupied Oregon. Besides, they used occasionally
to launch out against the character and institutions
of the Americans generally; saying that, while they
proclaimed liberty, they practised slavery, in some
of its most odious forms, not as individuals merely;
but that whole States adopted and defended the
practice—that it was then a fraud and a mockery for
Americans to profess any anxiety for the amelioration of the Indians; since at home they enslaved
and hunted them down, keeping them in irredeemable bondage in the southern states, and driving
those who still retained their freedom, in the north,
and north-west, to the hills and deserts east of the
Rocky Mountains. They also used to urge the
strong facts of the repeated failures of the Americans
to secure any extensive possession in the country;
and of the general repugnance of the natives to
them—repugnance caused by the experience which
the natives had of their habits and principles
—men who had no scruple about the means of
making money; and who would, at the caprice of
the moment, hang up an obnoxious individual,
without judge or jury, by their Lynch, or mob law.
The other party, which was called the philosophi-
Rf    *'    23
I p
w 1
1  1
. •"■«■
it lit
cal and the liberal party, did not contravene these
general heads of argument. They admitted that
the Americans, not only as individuals, but in communities of whole States, were not exempt from
the charge of fraudulency and tyranny; in as much
as the Southern States are slave holders, and some
of the wealthiest states openly refuse to pay their
debts, though no people treat their own debtor
prisoners more cruelly;—that the half apostolical,
and half agricultural character of the missionaries,
was not that best adapted to the purpose and
spirit of men going abroad to enlighten the heathen;
—that the Americans failed to secure a permanent
footing as traders in the country, from the dishonesty
of their dealings, and their habit of domineering over
the Indians, and corrupting them. But still they
asserted that the Americans ought not to be excluded, in as much as they possessed some claims to
the right of occupancy—claims, though feeble, still
existing—and, until these were quashed or confirmed,
it would be unjust, and impolitic, to exclude them from
all possession. The Americans were, it was true, they
admitted, holders of slaves at home, and were every day
driving the Indians from their native lands; and,
though hypocrites, as to professions of freedom, on
that account, yet they could not enslave the Indians of Oregon, or drive them further off, when there
was British power to check them.
Though the missionaries were not of the best
class, yet they were better than none at all; especially when England so grossly neglected the
natives. Dr. M'Loughlin may have acted indiscreetly, but he acted justly, in sanctioning these
emigrants. He could not lay an interdict on their
arrival; and even should they turn out as bad
as the rest of the motly groups that came from
the States, the British residents could not be disappointed. But, above all, good would grow out
of evil in the end; for the Americans, by their
intercourse with the British, would become more
humanised, tolerant, and honest. Hence, they said,
it was philosophical and liberal to[encourage the American missionary squatters. And as to the American
Lynch law, and other usages which were repugnant
to justice and humanity, they were rather exceptions to the American code, than examples of
American principles of legislation, which, in commercial and civil matters, was, generally speaking,
just and humane; and from which even British
legislation derived' some useful hints.
These debates, which embraced various other
points, too numerous   to  detail, would sometimes ■
run high; and show a great deal of acuteness
and general knowledge,—more than would be expected from men who had spent most of their
time in the wilderness, and in communion with
savages. The Canadians and half-breeds generally
sided with the British, or patriot party, and turned
the scale. But I must confess, that though, on
the whole range of dispute, the patriot party were
the victors, yet, on one point, their antagonists
had a clear advantage—the neglect of the conversion
and civilisation of the natives on the part of the
home government and of the British and Foreign
Missionary Society. But this subject is more fully
treated in another place.
The residents of this settlement of Wallamette
are a mixed and motly group—retired servants of
the company—American—some
few American farmers, not missionaries; and free
trappers, who preferred an easy location on this
district, to the exciting and desperate perils of
solitary wanderings amid the hills and deserts,
and to occasional residence among the savages:
several of these latter have squatted there with their
Indian wives and children. The residences show different degrees of comfort, according to the property,
the intelligence, and industry of the occupiers; from 183
the rude log structure, of fifteen or twenty feet
square, with the mud chimney—a wooden bench
in place of chairs—a beadstead covered with flag
mats—a few pots, and other trifling articles, to the
large, tolerably well built, and equipped farm
house; in which the owners enjoy, in rude plenty,
the produce of tolerably well tilled, and well stocked
farms. These spots of cultivated land, of course, vary
in extent and quality of culture according to the
skill and resources of the owners. Some farms
consist of not more than thirty acres; some consist
of 100. The best appointed farms are those of the
company's servants. Mr M'Kay, who has farmed
under the company's sanction, has lately erected
a grist mill, the expense of which is reported to be
not less than £2000. These dwellings do not, properly speaking, constitute a village, but are scattered
over a surface of several miles: though some few
are clustered together, Most of the missionaries
are Episcopalian Methodists. But half the civilised
population, if not more, are Roman Catholics, who
have their own priest and their own chapel.
The colony has all the appurtenances of a settlement— school houses— chapels— an hospital—a
meeting house—granaries, &c. But though there is
a considerable extent of land under cultivation, yet
■— 184
the whole is not perhaps more extensive than the
company's single farm at Vancouver; and in point of
management, and approximation to true farming,
(according to English principles and notions,) cannot
be even remotely compared to it.
Lieutenant Wilkes, who conducted the exploring
expedition appointed by the American government,
visited this settlement; and in his report, lately
published by authority, says,—"About sixty families are settled there, the industrious of whom appear to be thriving. They are composed of
American Missionaries, trappers, and Canadians,
who were formerly servants of the Hudson's Bay
Company. All of them appeared to be doing well;
but I was, on the whole, disappointed from the reports
which had been made to me, not to find the settlement in a greater state of forwardness, considering
the advantages which the missionaries have had."
Now this account of the settlement deserves to
be noticed. He says that the number of families
settled there was sixty—not more. Of these, many
were British subjects; so that the number of subjects of the United States was inconsiderable. The
American missionaries were merely speculating small
farmers. All were not thriving; but only the industrious portion.    This, together with his mention 185
of disappointment, and of the reports made to him,
clearly shows that there were circulated in the
States, exaggerated accounts of the prosperity and
importance of the colony; and false inducements
held out to citizens, to emigrate thither; and to the
Federal government, to sustain its rights even at
the risk of a quarrel with Great Britain, in defence
of this fancied American colony — rights which
were not, and are not, invaded; and are not meant
to be invaded by the company. This admission,
too, which is involved in his account, is the more
worthy of notice, considering the disposition which
this gentleman shows, to represent to his government the Oregon territory as a prize, even in an
agricultural point of view, worth contending for;
as appears from the extravagance of his general
picture, in-his summing up.    He says:—
"To conclude; few portions of the globe, in my
opinion, are so rich in soil, so diversified in surface,
or so capable of being rendered the happy home
of an industrious and civilised community. For
beauty of scenery, and salubrity of climate, it cannot
be surpassed. It is peculiarly adapted for an agricultural and pastoral people: and no portion of the
world, beyond the tropics, can be found that will
mit 186
yield so readily, with moderate labour, to the wants
of man."
All this he asserts, although it appears from his
whole previous statement, that from the nature of
the soil and climate, he considered at least one half
of the territory unfit for agriculture. With respect
to the entire of the eastern section, he says, " the
temperature during the day, differing from 50° to
60°, renders it unfit for agriculture; and there are
but few places in its northern parts, where the climate would not effectually put a stop to its ever
becoming settled. In each day, according to the
best accounts, all the changes are experienced, which
are incident to spring, summer, autumn, and winter. There are places where small farms might be
located, but they are few in number."
Mr. Farnham, the latest American writer, though
an undisguised partisan—a rampant anti-Britisher
—and anxious to place the capabilities and value
of the country in the most favourable view before
his fellow-citizens, cannot avoid dissenting from
Mr. Wilkes' concluding remarks. He says, " it will
be seen on reference to them, that the agricultural
capabilities of Oregon are placed above those of
any part of the world, beyond  the tropics.   This 187
is a most surprising conclusion—at war with his own
account of the several sections which he visited;
and denied by every intelligent man living in the
country. What! Oregon in this respect equal to
California, or the Valley of the Missisippi ?"
I beg to quote from Mr. Farnham, who visited
this settlement, the following passage. Alluding to the missionaries, he says, "their object in
settling in Oregon, I understood to be twofold—
the one, and principal, to civilise and christianise
the Indians—the other, and not less important, the
establishment of religious and literary institutions,
for the benefit of the white emigrants. Their plan
of operation on the Indians, is to learn their various
languages, for the purposes of itinerant preaching,
and of teaching the young the English language.
The scholars are also instructed in agriculture, the
regulations of a well-established household, reading,
writing, arithmetic, and geography.
Then it appears, these missionaries were encouraged to settle in the country, in order that they
may open the way, and hold out inducements, for
an influx of emigrants from the States. No doubt
their published prospectus of benefits to come is
. highly imposing; and their promised zeal and efficiency are very great, until they come to be tested : "■■
but the following passage brings down their disinterestedness, as disseminators of religion, and their
prosperity as an agricultural community, to a low
"They have many hundred acres of land under
the plough; and cultivated chiefly by the native pupils. They have more than a hundred head of
horned cattle ; thirty or forty horses; and many
swine. They have granaries filled with wheat, oats,
barley, and peas; and cellars well stored with vegetables."
This shows, that from their using the native pupils
as labourers, they did not mean to dispense their
blessings without receiving a little consideration—
that they are not altogether spiritual in their motives, and mode of life: and their many hundred
acres of land under the plough; their maximum
stock of horned cattle; and thirty or forty horses,
are no great signs of their rising greatness; especially
when it is considered that they have been now
located for many years in the country; and had, as
Mr. Wilkes—the organ of the federal government
—assures us, "many advantages"—which means,
that they received all American support, especially
from the funds of the missionary society of Boston,
in   order to effect American purposes. 189
It is well worth while to quote here Mr. Wilkes.
Under the general head of "Missionaries" (and
he indeed weighs in the balance the entire class
—not those of the Wallamette settlement alone,
but those too scattered about in other localities),
he says, "Little has as yet been effected by them
in christianising the natives. They are principally
engaged in the cultivation of the mission farms,
and in the care of their own stock; in order to
obtain flocks and herds for themselves. As far as
my observation went, in the parts of the country
where the missionaries reside, there are few Indians
to engage their attention; and they seemed more
occupied with the settlement of the country, and in
agricultural pursuits, than in missionary labours."
Every word of this is undeniably true: and not
the least remarkable and important part of the
statement is the accident (query, fortuitous?) of
their having selected localities for residence, where
they had no spiritual flocks to tend.
But though they have not as yet thriven as well as
Mr. Wilkes expected, yet Mr. Farnham, in the following paragraph, threatens the execution of great projects; and holds out the hope that they will, by and
by, erect a community, with all the concomitant insti-
t ut ions, worthy of the mother republic.  It is true, the fur
paragraph, from its boast and magniloquence, will
appear to sober Englishmen, ridiculous; but it is
quite characteristic; and is well calculated to foster
the pleasing and voluntary delusion of American
vanity—the purpose for which it was designed.
"A site had been already selected for an academical building. A court of Justice had been organised by the popular voice, A military corps was
about to be formed for the protection of settlers—
and other measures were in progress: at once showing that the American, with his characteristic
energy and enterprise; and the philanthropist, with
his holy aspirations for the improvement of the human condition—had crossed the snowy barrier of
the mountain; to mingle with the dashing waves
of the Pacific seas, the sweet music of a busy and
virtuous civilisation " !!!
He then gives a sketch of the plucky patriotism
of the settlers:—
I During my stay here, several American citizens
called on me, to talk of their father-land; and
enquire as to the probability that its laws would
be extended over them. The constantly-repeated
enquiries were, ' why are we left without protection
in this part of our country's dominion ?—why are
foreigners to  domineer   over   American   citizens— 191
drive their traders from the country—and make us
as dependant on them for the clothes we wear, as
their own apprenticed slaves ?' I could return no
answer to these questions, exculpatory of this national delinquency; and therefore advised them to
embody their grievances in a petition to Congress.
They had a meeting for that purpose: and afterwards put into my hand a petition, signed by sixty-
seven citizens of the United States, and persons
desirous of becoming such—the substance of which
was a description of the country—their unprotected situation—and, in conclusion, a prayer that
the Federal government would extend over them
the protection and institutions of the republic.
Five or six of the settlers had not an opportunity
to sign the paper. The Catholic priest refused to
do it."
Setting aside the silly abusiveness, and anti-
British animus evinced in the whole paragraph,
and especially in the application of the epithet
slaves to the apprentices and agents of the Hudson's Bay Company, the reader cannot fail to observe the important fact, that, notwithstanding all
the zeal of the settlers and of Mr. Farnham;
and all the efforts to make a demonstration, the pe-
'titioners to congress were not more than sixty-seven 192
—educated and uneducated—civilised, half-breeds,
and wild trappers, with their Indian wives. Even all
these were not citizens, but embraced "persons
desirous of becoming such;" How many the latter
class consisted of he does not say. If the number
was at all important he would not fail to mention
it. But suppose these were all Americans; add
to them the five or six settlers who had no opportunity of signing this petition, and who, it is fair
to presume, were Americans, yet the aggregate could
not exceed eighty souls. Now as this petition was
evidently a got up affair (for this gentleman went
to the settlement with American colours flying—
there were harbingers to herald his arrival, as a
great American writer and champion, visiting them
in order to inspect their condition, and improve
it), it is to be regretted that he did not give us
an assurance whether the sixty-seven names were
the bona fide names of persons come to the age
of discretion; no matter whether the petitioners could write their own names or not. But
let it be conceded, that every one of the sixty-
seven was a full grown man, of mature understanding, wishing to retain the privileges of citizenship, and receive the exclusive protection of the
Federal government; yet the whole matter is a clear 193
admission of the insignificance of the ^settlement
(so far as its Americanism is concerned), and of
the fallacious representations industriously propagated about it, with the view of giving factitious importance to American rights and American possession. He says the Catholic priest refused to sign
the petition. No doubt he did; and prudently
too; for he knew well, that he was sufficiently
free and secure already; and that it would not
be clearsightedness to surrender the steady light
and certainty of British freedom and protection, for
the will-o'-the-wisp of expected American licentiousness.
Now Mr. Wilkes gives a quietus to all these
lamentations about the absence of republican laws,
and federal protection, in these plain terms. " When
there, I made particular enquiries whether laws were
necessary for their protection: and I feel assured
that they require none at present, besides the moral
code which it is their own duty to inculcate." He
next adds, " The catholic portion of the settlement
are kept under good control by their priest." This
little paragraph is doubly significant; as sbewin
the reason why the priest did not consider that his
flock required these American laws and institutions;
and showing   the   marked   contrast   between the % 194
priest, who effected much for his congregation, and
the Methodist missionaries, who effected but little.
But Mr. Farnham is somewhat inconsistent with
himself; as men generally are who become parti-
zans—take a distorted view of things—and labour
only to carry a point, and bespatter their adversaries. After his elaborate eulogy of the noble objects and successful labours of the missionaries^
in improving the moral condition of the natives;
and after holding forth glowing prospects of the
rising greatness of the settlement,—in as much as
they had already selected a site for an academical
building—organised a court of justice—were about
to form a military corps, for the protection of the
settlers; and after his talking so poetically, about
the American enterpriser and philanthropist mingling
the dashing waves of the Pacific seas with the
sweet music of busy, and virtuous civilisation..
After all this, he descends rather awkwardly and
suddenly from his high position, and, in plain terms,
"The civil condition of the territory being such
as virtually to prohibit the emigration, to any extent, of useful and desirable citizens, they have
nothing to anticipate from any considerable increase
of their numbers,   nor   any   amelioration of their 19c
state to look for, from the accession of female
society. In the desperation incident to their lonely
lot, they take wives from the Indian tribes around
Then if there is likely to be no extensive emigration of useful and desirable citizens, there can-
net be much of the sweet music of a busy and
virtuous civilisation, and no great need of academical buildings, and a military corps for the protection of settlers; though there may be for a
court of justice, as the settlers, it would appear,
from the absence of useful and desirable citizens,
must be a class among whom such an establishment would be desirable. The present settlers are
useful and desirable citizens, or they are not. If
they are, why may there not be an aceession to their
numbers, from the States ? If they are not, what
is the use of the boasted missionaries? Why do
not these men labour to render them useful and
He further says, " The reader will find it difficult
to learn any sufficient reasons for their being left
without the institutions of civilised society !" Now
there are the institutions of British society, and
laws in full force, in the country ; and of which
they have the benefit and protection.    But as we M
were before told that the officers and other employees of the Hudson's Bay Company were "apprenticed slaves," so now it is not surprising that
British institutions should be denied to be those of
civilised society.
But the crowning hardship of the American citizens in Oregon, it seems, is that they must pay
their debts incurred to the British, and are liable
to  punishment  for the  commission of crimes.
He says, " Their condition is truly deplorable.
They are liable to be arrested for debt or crime,
and conveyed to the jails of Canada. For in that
case the business of British subjects is interfered
with, who, by way of retaliation, will withhold the
supplies of clothing, household goods, &c, which
the settlers have no other means of obtaining."
This certainly is a cool mode of claiming a license
for the free citizens to cheat, and injure their
neighbours with impunity. So forsooth, it is but
a mere interference with the business of British
subjects to rob them; and it is a great hardship
if the British withhold supplies from the Americans
when they refuse to pay them. Had any Englishman said, or written, that this was the opinion of
the Americans in Oregon, pr out of it, he would be denounced as a prejudiced misrepresenter. But here the
' IJ
\# 197
opinion is broadly avowed, by the organ of the democratic and dominant party in the United States.
It is necessary to mention two rivers to the south
of the Wallamette, which flow through the same
fertile and picturesque section of the country, as
the Wallamette does (that section which is encircled
by the Columbia ridge of hills on the north—by
the ridge which runs along the shores of the Pacific
on the west—by the towering Klamet range on
the south—and by the southern links of the President's range, on the east). These rivers are the Umqua and Klamet.
The Umqua runs into the Pacific in nearly a
westerly direction, from its source in the President's range; and is lined for about 100 miles by
precipitous and rocky banks, covered with woods.
It is nearly a mile wide at its mouth; and about
three fathoms deep. The tide runs up about thirty
miles; and is then checked by rapids and cataracts,
.which are to be found, even when the lower cataracts
■are passed, up the course of the river to its mountain source.    Its entire length is about 170 miles.
Perhaps, on the face of the earth, there are
not larger specimens of the pine tree than can
be found here. Some of these trees are 250
feet high, and 50 feet in girth,    The seed vessels, ■'    11   I
which are oval, are often more than a foot long,
and the seeds are as large as a castor bean. I have
seen some of these seeds brought to the fort that,
from my observation of the many petty things exhibited in the British Museum as curiosities, would,
if exhibited there, be considered absolute wonders.
I ought to say, that the largest pine trees do not
yield the hardest, closest, and most valuable wood
for use. Cedar trees there are often twenty-six feet
in girth, and high in proportion: and the gardens
attached to the company's fort produce turnips, often
five pounds in weight each. Indeed, the natural
capabilities of the soil are surprising.
The Klamet, further south, runs nearly due west
from the President's range into the Pacific, about
fifty miles south of the Umqua; after a course of
about 150 miles. This is the most southerly river
of any note in the whole region; and the one that
may be called the inland water-boundary, on
the   south-west, between Oregon   and   California.
Two peculiarities of the country around, and near
its banks, deserve notice. First, the face of the
country is less undulating; and the country itself
seems to rise higher in its agricultural and pastoral
capabilities: and secondly, the enormous pine and
cedar trees gradually disappear; and groves of short
t^w- 199
myrtle, which diffuse a most delicious fragrance,
line the banks, and beautifully dot the country.
The company have a settlement near the mouth
of the Umqua: and have there commenced forming
establishments, which promise (considering the great
fecundity of the soil, and the genial and salubrious
character of the climate), if pushed on with the
usual vigour and judgment exhibited in other establishments, farther to the north, where soil and
climate have been comparatively unfavourable, to
succeed amazingly.
As Mr. Farnham loses no opportunity of (to use
an American phrase) making a slap at the Britishers
in general, and the Hudson's Bay Company in particular — although he acknowledges the kind and
hospitable entertainment which he received at Fort
Vancouver,—he treats his readers to the following
accusation. Speaking of a Captain Young, an
American, who, after failing in many trading speculations in the west of the continent, settled as a
■small farmer in Wallamette district, and whom he
designates as the " excellent old captain," he says,
" He related to me many incidents of his hardships,
among which the most surprising was that the
Hudson's Bay Company refused to sell him a shred
of clothing;   and as there were no other traders in 200
the country he was compelled, during their pleasure
to wear skins. A false report that he had been
guilty of some dishonourable acts in California was
the alleged cause for this treatment. But perhaps a
better reason would be that Mr. Young occasionally
purchased beaver skins in the American territory."
To assert a false fact is bad enough; but to follow it up by gratuitously hazarding a false opinion
in support of it, is most reprehensible and unjustifiable. The company, so long as this man conducted himself properly as a free trader, gave him
every assistance. Of his alleged dishonourable conduct in California, and other places (though reports
very much to his discredit were confidently circulated about him, and by his own countrymen, who
had no inducement to accuse him falsely), the company took no cognizance. They judged of him as
they had experience of him. The company interdicted, all through their range of operations in the
Oregon, the use of spirituous liquors, as an article
of trade among the natives, from a knowledge of
its injurious influence upon them; or as an article
of gensral use and luxury among their servants.
Young, thinking a trade in spirits would be a
good speculation, set up a distillery, and began to
induce, not -alone the natives, but the servants of the company, to deal with him. When the company expressed their disapproval of this and other
proceedings, he commenced an agitating course
among the settlers, and defied the company. The
company then quietly left him to his own resources.
As to the insinuation which Mr. Farnham makes
that the gravemen of his offence was his trading
in American territory, as if Oregon was exclusively
such, the reader can easily 'draw his own inference :—it was intended to work a purpose in the
States, 202
General outline of the Oregon Territory.
The natural limits of this extensive and important
region, are strictly defined by nature. On the west,
it is bounded, along its whole length, by the Pacific
Ocean; and is indented by numerous bays and
inlets—on the south, by the fertile country of California, and the Klamet range of hills, which are an
offshoot from the rocky mountains, and run in a
parallel of 42°—on the whole of the east line, by
the main ridge of the towering Rocky Mountains—
and on the north, as the boundary between it and
the Russian territories, by many spurs from the
Rocky Mountains, and by a chain of lakes and
The extent of the whole region in its widest
sense, is about four times the area of Great
Britain. It is remarkable, that all the rivers which
flow through this territory, take their rise and are
emptied within these limits : so that it may be said,
tiN>»-i J03
that it scarcely has any natural communication with
any other country. It extends from latitude 42° to
that of 54° north. For beauty of scenery, salubrity
of climate along the Pacific, and general adaptation
for commerce, it can scarcely be surpassed by any
country in the world. There are, too, in many places,
great fertility of soil, and agricultural capabilities.
The natural character of the whole country, is a
succession of mountain ridges, and valleys, and
plains : and though there are many fertile districts
within it, especially towards the ocean; yet it may
be safely averred, that as a whole, it is not favourable for agricultural cultivation.
It is, in a word, chiefly valuable for trade; and
for the advantages of the Columbia, and other
maritime stations, to the north; which secure
for the possessors a command of the northern Pacific, and an easy way to China. Of this the Americans are fully aware; and hence their extraordinary
anxiety, and exertions to effect a lodgment there.
Hence too their exaggerated claims—their misfe-
presentations—contemptible bluster; and impotent
Though their writers and speakers have been for
years deceiving, not alone the British public, but
even their own; by holding forth the country as a
IP w-
new paradise, in the remote wilderness of the west,
to which the Americans alone had an undisputed
right, while it was wrongfully invaded by the
" grasping and oppressive Britishers;" and most
criminally inciting the ignorant populace to raise
a ferment throughout the whole confederation; in
reference to the questioned—and indeed most questionable—claim of the Americans to the territory;
and inciting their countrymen to encounter almost
incalculable privations and hazards, in order to fix
settlements in the country: yet the knowing ones
of them must have been ail-along sensible that it
is valuable mainly for trade.
As nature has given the country external boundaries, of mountain, sea, lake, and river: so it may
be internally divided into three natural sections.
First, the western section ; lying between the
Pacific ocean, and Cascade mountains—sometimes
called President's range. This range runs parallel
with the coast, the whole length of the territory,
from north to south, rising in many places in high
peaks, from 12,000 to 16,000 feet above the level
of the sea. Their distance from the coast varies
from 120 to 150 miles.
Second, the middle  section, lying   between the
•Cascade  Mountains   on   the   west,  and the   Blue 205
Mountain range, on the east.    The Blue Mountains
are much broken and irregular in their course.
Third, the Eastern Section, which extends from
the zigzag fine of the Blue Mountains to the chain
of the Rocky Mountain. Though each division or
section may be said to be separated from another,
"there are numerous communications between them
by the large rivers, valleys, and passes. Thus, while
the country is divided into parts, yet these parts
are bound and consolidated by one vast belt of external boundary.
Mountains.—The Cascade range, as being that
which bounds the western section of the country,
and the most fertile and valuable section, is the
most interesting and important range. Its northern
termination may be taken from Mount Elias: it
diverges thence eastward; and winds afterwards
southward, to the gulph of California; showing,
along its' course, numerous lofty peaks; and, like
most of the other mountains, strong signs of volcanic action, at a remote period. The American
writers and authors give many of these peaks the
names of American presidents. Says Mr. Farnham,
in his usual gasconading style, " All the principal
peaks should bear the names of those distinguished
men, whom the suffrages of  tlie people  that own b
Oregon (!) have from time to time called to administer their national government."
Hence we have, from north to south, on American
authority, Mounts Tyler,—Harrison.—Van Buren,
—Adams,—Washington, — Jefferson, — Maddison,
—Munroe,—Quincy Adams,—Jackson; names that
are, for the most part, new to the Britishers.
But however, as they designate certain distinct
conical eminences, I adopt them for the present purpose."
Mount Tyler lies in latitude forty-nine, and
about thirty miles from the eastern waters, of Vancouver's Island. Mount Harrison, about- thirty
miles east of Paget's sound. Mount Van Buren,
on the isthmus between Paget's Sound and the
Pacific. Mount Adams, about twenty-five milesi
north of the Cascades of the Columbia. Mount
Washington, about twenty miles south of the Cascades. This is the loftiest peak of all, and is about
16,000 feet high. Mount Jackson is the most
southern peak of the range, lying in latitude forty-
one, beyond the southern boundary of the Oregon.
These heights present a general sameness of
appearance and character. They are covered with
snow, and their sides are in general bare, rocky, and
precipitous.    This  chain of mountains runs almost
fcgb=~ 207
parallel with the Rocky Mountains; and, at an
average, is about 400 miles distant from them; so
that the main breadth of the country, from the
Rocky Mountains to the ocean, is, on a loose calculation, about 500 miles. The hills intervening between these towering conical mountain peaks are
covered, from bottom to top, with forests of enormous
trees—consisting of pine, fir, cedar, &c. Many
of these present a bare shaft of 200 feet high,
before a limb shoots off; and near the base have a
circumference of from six to eight fathoms. On the
north side of the Columbia, near the Cascades, there
runs westward a spur, varying from 1000 to 1500
feet high above the river, from this great chain,
covered with the huge trees indigenous to the Country, as far as Cape Disappointment. This spur commences near Mount Adams. On the south side of
the river a smaller spur, commencing at the Cascades,
runs, from near Mount Washington, westward as
far as Fort George; so that the Columbia, from
the Cascades almost to its mouth, runs through a
deep valley, of unequal breadth, walled in by high
mountains. These two parallel spurs decline in altitude westward. Again, there is another range of
mountains, running along the brink of the Pacific
coast from upper California, northward as far as the i'flt
Straits of Fuca. This range is, for the most part,
a bare and barren ridge of dark rocks. But the
eastern sides of the southern portion are covered with
heavy timber, such as pine, fir, spruce, &c.
That portion of the Oregon which is bounded on
the north by the Columbia—by the President's range
on the east—by the Californian boundary on the
south—and by the Pacific on the west, is by far the
most fertile, and beautiful, and genial; and, in truth,.
not only comparatively with the other parts of the
region is it so; but it is so abstractedly. Though
undulating and broken in its surface, it may be
designated as a vast rich plain, embedded within a
circle of mountains: for on the west it is guarded
by the Pacific ridge of mountains—on the south by
the Klamet range of the towering, snow-capped
mountains, on the east by the rocks of the President's
range—and on the north by the Columbian hills.
This vast valley possesses every facility for pasturage,,
and every capability for cultivation. The land is in
general open—-delightfully interspersed with clumps
and groves of trees—well stocked with deer, elk, and
all sorts of game; and is studded with small lakes,
and rivers, which yield, in innumerable quantities,
all sorts of fish.
The principal  rivers   are   the  Wallamette,  the 209
Umqua, and Klamet; which, with the productiveness of the soil, have been already noticed.
Rivers.—The principal river is the Columbia, which
rises in the Rocky Mountains, in latitude 50° north,
and longitude 116° west; and during its course to the
ocean, receives a great number of large tributary
streams. After receiving Canoe River, and flowing
in a south-westerly direction, and expanding into a
line of lakes • it receives at Fort Colville, the River
Colville, which rises in the Rocky Mountains; and
takes a north-westerly direction. At Colville, it is
2500 feet above the level of the sea. To the south
of this, it winds to the westward, receiving the Spo-
kan River from the east. Thence it pursues a westerly course for about sixty miles ; and at its bend to
the south, it is joined by the Okanagan—a river
that has its source in a line of lakes, affording
boat-navigation for a considerable extent northward. Thence it passes to the southward, until it
reaches Wallawalla, in the latitude of 45°; receiving, among other streams, its great south-eastern
branch, the Snake River, called also the Saptin or
Lewis River, which has its source in the Rocky
Mountains. Though this latter river flows a distance
of 500 miles, and brings a vast accession of water to
the Columbia, yet,   from   its numerous shallows, 210
rapids, and eddies, it is not navigable for any continued extent. At Wallawalla, the Columbia is 1286
feet above the level of the sea, and about 3500 feet
wide. It thence takes its last turn, to the westward,
pursuing its rapid course for eighty miles, until it
reaches the range of the Cascade Mountains. Through
these it flows in a series of falls and rapids, that
form insurmountable barriers to the passage of boats
during the floods. However, these difficulties are
overcome by portages. From thence there is a still-
water navigation, for forty miles; when its course
is again obstructed by rapids. Thence to the ocean
—120 miles—it is navigable for vessels of twelve
feet draught of water, at the lowest state of the
river. In this part, it receives the Wallamette from
the south, and the Cowlitze from the north. The
former is navigable for small vessels, for twenty
miles, to the mouth of the Klackamus; the latter
is navigable only for canoes and barges.
The next river in importance is Frazer's River.
It takes its rise in the Rocky Mountains, near the
source of Canoe River, taking a north-west course
of eighty miles. It then turns to the southward,
receiving Stuart's River, which rises in a chain of
lakes in the northern boundary of the territory.
It then pursues a southerly course; and after re-
EL 211
ceiving many tributaries, breaks through the Cascade range of hills, in a series of falls and rapids;
and after a westerly course of seventy miles, empties
itself into the Gulph of Georgia, in latitude 49° 7'
north. This latter portion is navigable for vessels
that can pass its bar drawing ten feet of water.
Its whole length is 350 miles.
The principal rivers are rapid, and sunk much below the level of the country, with perpendicular banks,
speaking generally. During the seasons of the rise,
they frequently overflow their banks, in consequence
of bars, and other obstructions, and submerge the adjacent low grounds. These rises are produced by
the rains, or the melting of the snow on the upper
mountains ; and 'are sometimes very rapid. The
rise in the Columbia takes place in May and June;
and at Vancouver is about twenty feet. The rise
in the Wallamette takes place in February.
There are numerous lakes scattered through the
several sections. The country is all well watered;
and there are but few places where an abundance
of water cannot be obtained, either from lakes,
rivers, or springs.
Climate.-^-The climate of the western division is
mild throughout the year—neither the cold of winter,
nor the heat of summer, predominating.    The main «■
ill i
temperature is about 54°, Fahrenheit. The prevailing winds, in summer, are from the northward and
westward; and in winter, from the west, south, and
south-east. The winter lasts from about November
till March, generally speaking. During that time,
there are frequent falls of rain, but not heavy.
Snow seldom lies longer than a week on the ground.
There are frosts so early as September; but they
are not severe, and do not continue long. The
easterly winds are the coldest, as they come from
across the mountains; but they are not frequent.
Fruit trees blossom early in April, in the neighbourhood of Nasqually and Vancouver; and in the middle
of May, peas are a foot high: and strawberries in
full blossom: indeed, all fruits and vegetables are as
early there as in England. The hills, though of
great declivity, have a sward to their tops. Lieut.
Wilkes says, that out of 106 days, seventy-six were
fair, nineteen cloudy,  and eleven rainy.
The middle section is subject to droughts. During summer, the atmosphere is drier and warmer,
and the winter colder, than in the western section:
its extremes of heat and cold being greater and
more frequent. However, the air is pure and
healthy; the atmosphere, in summer, being cooled
by the breezes that blow from the Pacific.
LS^w- 213
The eastern section, whieh runs along the western
base of the Rocky Mountains, and partly lies within their winding projections, is extremely variable
in climate : all the changes incident to spring, summer, autumn, and winter, being sometimes experienced there in a single day.
Soil.—The soil of the western section varies from
a deep black vegetable loam, to a fight brown, loamy
earth. The hills are generally basalt, stone, and
slate. The surface is generally undulating, well
watered, well wooded, and well adapted for agriculture and pasturage. The timber consists of pine,
fir, spruce, oaks (white and red), ash, arbutus, cedar,
arbor-vitse, poplar, maple, willow, cherry, tew; with
underwoods of hazel and roses. All kinds of grain,
wheat, rye, barley, oats, and peas, can be procured
there in abundance. Various fruits, such as pears,
apples, &c, succeed there admirably; and the different vegetables produced in England yield there
most abundant crops.
The middle section, which is about 1000 feet
above the level of the western, is not so well
wooded or fertile; yet in the southern parts of
it, where the missionaries have established settlements, they have raised excellent crops, and reared
large stocks of cattle.    Notwithstanding the occa- 214
sional cold, their cattle are not housed, nor is pro»
vender laid in for them in any quantity, the country
being sufficiently supplied with fodder in the natural
hay that is everywhere abundant in the prairies,
which the cattle prefer.
The eastern section, from the coldness of the
climate and comparative sterility of the soil, which
is much impregnated with salts, is but little adapted
for cultivation. No attempts at agriculture have
been made there, except at Fort Hall. Here, by
care, small grains and vegetables have been produced
in sufficient quantity to supply the wants of the
post; and the cattle, notwithstanding the severity
of the climate, are found to thrive well, and not to
require housing in winter.
At Nasqually, the Hudson's Bay Company have
a farm  which has   been   recently  brought  under
* cultivation.    It yields fine crops of wheat, oats, po-
. tatoes, peas,  &c.     It  is principally   intended  for
a grazing and dairy farm.    They have already 100
milch  cows, and make butter, &c, to supply the
Russians.    They have also  brought another farm
under   cultivation   at the   Cowlitze   River,   about
thirty miles from the   Columbia.     This farm, in
1841, produced 7000 bushels of wheat.    In this district several Canadians, and other British subjects, 21!
have established themselves;—work small farms of
about fifty acres, and live very comfortably. The
company have also other farms, at the different
posts in the interior, all of which are well stocked;
and the produce of the several farms is made a lucrative article of trade (after supplying the wants of
their servants) with the Russians. They have also
introduced large herds and flocks from California;
and thus they are gradually cultivating the country,
and civihsing the natives.
Mr. Wilkes says, " In comparison with our own
country, I would say, that the labour necessary in
this territory to acquire wealth or subsistence is in
the proportion of one to three; or in other words, a
man must work throughout the year three times as
much in the United States to gain the like competency. The care of stock, which occupies so much
time with us, requires no attention there; and on
the increase only a man might find snpport." He
further says, " there will be also a demand for the
timber of this country, at high prices, throughout
the Pacific. The oak is well adapted for ship-timber,
and abundance of ash, cedar, cypress, and arbor-vitse,
may be had for other purposes,—building, fuel,
fencing, &c." He also adds, " no part of the world
affords finer inland sounds, or a greater number of 216
harbours, than are found within the Straits of Juan
de Fuca, capable of receiving the largest class of
vessels, and without a danger in them which is not
risible.    From the rise and fall of the tides (eighteen
feet)   every facility is afforded for the erection of
works for a great maritime nation.   The country also
affords as many sites for water power as any other."
On the northern coast  there are a number of
islands, which belong to the territory.    The largest
are Vancouver Island, which is 260 miles long, and
50  broad,   containing  15,000   square   miles,  and
Queen Charlotte Island, which is 150 miles long,
and 30 broad, containing 4000 square miles.    The
climate is mild   and salubrious, and the   soil well
adapted to agriculture.     They have also an abundance of fine fish in their waters.    Coal, of a very
good quality, is found there close by the surface;
and they also contain numerous veins of valuable
All the rivers abound in salmon of the finest
quality, which run twice a year, beginning in May
and October, and appear inexhaustible. The Columbia produces the largest. The great fishery of
this river is at the Dalles, The last one, on the
northern branch of the Columbia, is near Colville,
at the Kettle Falls; though salmon are found above 217
this both in the river and in its tributaries. In
Frazer's River the salmon are very numerous. The
bays and inlets abound with several kinds of salmon,
sturgeon, cod, carp, sole, flounders, perch, herring,
and eels; also with shell fish—crabs, oysters, &c.
Whales and sea otter in numbers are found along
the coast, and are frequently captured by the Indians
in and at the mouth of the Straits of Juan de
Game abounds in the western section, such as elk,
deer, antelopes, bears, wolves, foxes, musk-rats, martins. And in the spring and fall the rivers are
covered with geese, ducks, and other water fowl.
Towards the Rocky Mountains buffaloes are found
in great numbers.
From the advantages this country possesses it bids
fair to have an extensive commerce, on advantageous
terms, with most parts of the Pacific. It is well
calculated to produce the following staple commodities—furs, salted beef and pork, fish, grain, flour,
wool, hides, tallow, timber, and coals; and, in return for these—sugars, coffee, and other tropical
productions, may be obtained at the Sandwich
Islands. Advantages that, in time, must become
of immense extent. 218
Astoria, or Fort George.
As the Americans have vaunted much about this
settlement at the mouth of the Columbia, I shall
give its history briefly.
Astoria, (now Fort George,) was founded in 1811
by Mr. Astor. This gentleman was a German,
born near Heidelberg, on the banks of the Rhine.
His parents were humble agriculturalists. He
quitted his native village ; and after residing some
time in London, went, as an adventurer, to the
United States. There he met a countryman of his,
who had some knowledge of the fur trade; and by
his recommendation he was induced to embark in
this species of commercial enterprise. From small
beginnings, he gradually rose to considerable importance as a fur trader; and became a bold and
active speculator. It is unnecessary to detail the
stages of his gradual progress and success; but in
1809 he obtained (after several ineffectual attempts had been made by the Americans, to secure a monopoly of this North-American trade) a charter from
the legislature of the State of New York, incorporating a company, under the name of " The American Fur Company." He himself, however—according to his biographer, Washington Irving:—in fact,
constituted the company; for though he had a
board of directors, they were merely nominal.
In 1811, he founded a settlement near the mouth
of the river, which was called Astoria: his object
being, according to Washington. Irving, " to carry
the fur trade across the Rocky Mountains, and
sweep the Pacific." At this time, he became naturalised; and was a citizen, from whose patriotism,
energy, and skill, much was expected for the assertion of American rights, and the promotion of
American commerce,
Mr. Astor's plans were certainly well conceived,
for extending the trade inland by a line of stationary
posts, and rambling parties, from the mouth of the
Columbia to the confines of the United States; and
coastwise, from California to the Pole—in brief, of
monopolising the traffic of the whole northern continent. One part of his plan was, that a vessel
laden with goods for the Indian trade, should every
vear sail from New York to the Columbia ; and, hav- 220
ing discharged her cargo at the establishment there,
take on board the produce of her year's trade; and
thence proceed to Canton, bringing back the rich
productions of China, Other ships were to be destined for New York and London; as no doubt was
entertained, that all the British fur trading companies would be soon blown into thin air by this
gigantic American project; and by the superior enterprise, skill, and integrity, of the free citizens !
Another part of the plan, Mr. Irving thus describes:— "As in extending the American trade
along the coast to the northward, it might come
into the vicinity of the Russian Fur Company, and
produce a hostile rivalry; it was part of the plan of
Mr. Astor, to conciliate the good-will of that company, by the most amicable and beneficial arrangements. The Russian establishment was chiefly
dependent for its supplies, on transient trading
vessels from the United States. These vessels were
often, however, of more harm than advantage. Being
owned by private adventurers, or casual voyagers,
who cared only for present profit, and had no interest in the permanent prosperity of the trade, they
were reckless in their dealings with the natives, and
made no scruple of supplying them with fire-arms.
The Russian government had made representations to that of the United States, of these mal-practices
on the part of its citizens: but as they did not infringe any municipal law, our government could not
It is not necessary for me to fix attention here
to the testimony borne by a reputable and patriotic,
though reluctant, witness, to the infamous mode of
conducting business, adopted by the Americans, at
least inthose regions; or to the curious fact, that
a despotic and semi-barbarous government should
have been constrained to make a remonstrance to
a professedly free, and boastedly enlightened, government, on the infraction by its citizens of the common principles of humane, honest, and liberal
When the establishment was once founded, and
the company was in working order, the most extravagant reports were circulated, about the wealth to
be found in Columbia by the new adventurers : not
a moment, it was said, was to be lost; and consequently, many were lured to the enterprise.
The first ship chartered by this company was the
Tonquin, which sailed from New York in September,
1810, commanded by Captain Thorn. There were
on board a few British subjects, going out to join
the company.   But so inveterate was the anti-British 222
spirit of the captain, that he treated them with
every indignity; which led to constant quarrels
during the-voyage. On arriving at the Falkland
Islands, some of the British went on shore. The
captain, seeing this, gave orders to sail off; determined to leave them to perish. But a Mr. Robert
Stuart, nephew of one of those gentlemen, who
luckily remained on board, brought the citizen captain to a sense of humanity and justice, by holding
a brace of pistols to his head, and threatening to
blow out his brains, unless he took his uncle and his
party on board.
On arriving at the mouth of the Columbia, on
the 23rd of the following March, the captain, against
all remonstrance, as it blew a stiff breeze, sent the
chief mate and four men to sound the channel.
These all perished. The captain, on the 25th, despatched one of the officers, accompanied by four
men, in the jolly boat, to sound again. This boat
was also wrecked; but two of the crew escaped miraculously. At last the ship, with great difficulty,
was worked into Baker's Bay. In July, she was
despatched on a coasting and trading excursion
northward. Having anchored opposite Newettee,
in the vicinity of Nootka, they commenced a brisk
trade with the natives.    But the captain, by show- ing a tyrannical disposition, and inflicting chastisement on one or two of the principal Indians, for
some trifling offence, their hostility and revenge
became excited. The captain was warned, by his
interpreter, and others, of the imprudence and danger of his conduct: but he spurned all advice, and
did not relax from his stern conduct.
In a day or two the natives, with a show of friendship, renewed the trade; and went on board in great
numbers, carrying large quantities of furs; and
wearing short fur-skin cloaks, contrary to their
usual custom. He was again warned of danger;
and he again rejected all advice—expressing his contempt of any attack made by half-naked savages
against such a bold crew as his; who had plenty of
cutlasses and fire-arms, ranged below deck. But
he soon found that Ms-arbitrary self-confidence was
imprudent; and that arms ready for use above deck
were better than when stowed away below. The
Indians began, from their growing crowds, and their
conduct on board, to become troublesome: and he
ordered the deck to be speedily cleared. Then a
loud whoop was raised; and from beneath every short
cloak was suddenly snatched some formidable weapon;
and, before the arms could be procured from below,
the captain and the crew were slaughtered on deck, w.
If   I
with the exception of three. These three contrived
to escape from the ship in a boat, during the melee
—having previously set a train to the powder store.
Soon after they quitted the ship, she blew up; and
above 200 of the principal savages perished with
her. In the consternation produced by the explosion, among the crews of the numerous boats stationed around the ship, they were enabled to reach
shore; but being prevented, by the state of the
weather, from getting into the ocean, they were
compelled to try an overland journey to Astoria.
However, in a couple of days they were all captured, and slaughtered.
While these sad tidings reached the fort from the
Pacific, other news of misadventure reached it from the
interior. Their parties having been attacked by the
Indians, failed in either establishing settlements, or
securing a profitable trade. Though Mr. Astor had a
good head, and spirit for projecting boldly and extensively, he either did not adopt, or could not adopt,
the means of securing an effective enginery to work
out his large and complex plans. In short, to use
a vulgar, though very expressive designation, his instruments were " a rum lot." The rise of his Oregon
speculation was marked by misconduct and disaster;
and its fall was equally inglorious.
L^ This company next chartered a ship, which had
been sent out from America the following year, "the
Beaver," freighted with a rich cargo of furs, and other
valuable commodities—the produce of the country—for
China; neither expense nor pains having been spared
to equip her so as to make a favourable impression on
the Chinese. The company hugged the sanguine
hope that they had laid the foundation of a permanent and lucrative trade with that people, and would
soon, by spreading the sphere of their operations
and settlements along the Pacific, outrival the British
in that market. But their high-blown expectations
were dashed all at once: for the disastrous intelligence arrived that war had been declared between
Great Britain and America, and that the British
had blocked up the Beaver in the port of Canton;
nay, more, that they had blocked up every foreign
port against the Americans. The desperate state
of their affairs was now evident. They could hope
for no succour by sea—all expectation of return of
profits by "the Beaver," to which they mainly
trusted, was at an end. They had no communication with their ^fellow-countrymen overland; and
even if they had, the delay in announcing their condition and receiving back supplies would be too
great;  their own resources were fast wasting away: 226
but, above all, as the British flag had swept every
sea—occupied every port—and penetrated every inlet, they were in daily apprehension of the arrival
of a British force to capture and demolish their
settlement, and seize on their persons and property.
Their apprehensions were well grounded; for the
British government considered them as enemies,
and despatched a ship of war to take possession of
Astoria. But they anticipated such a visit, and, before the arrival of the ship, had sold their establishment, whole stock in trade, implements, &c, to the
North-west Company; some of the members having
enlisted in the service of this company, most of the
rest having returned to the States. Thus the settlement was entirely broken up; and the only duty
the commander had to perform on his arrival, was
to change the name of Astoria into that of Fort
George. 227
Extension of the British to the north of the mouth of the
Columbia—Contrast between the British and American mode of trading—Cape Flattery—Native tribes—
The country—Settlements at Nasqually and Cowlitze
—Frazer's River.
The extension of the company's trade northward,
along the fine of coast from Cape Flattery, and
their establishment of a chain of trading stations,
coast wise and inland, became the necessary consequence of their mercantile importance, enterprise,
and rivalry with the few American traders who
hovered on those seas, and who, by introducing a
sort of buccaneering commerce with the natives,
tended much to the demoralisation of the people,
and tended but little, eventually, to the profit of the
Americans themselves. These trading stations,
therefore, were not established more for the objects
of trade, than they were for the purposes of civilisation; and while they have fully effected the first
purpose, they axe gradually and surely effecting the -1
other. The consequence is—what may be expected
from the relative position and conduct of the parties—
the Americans, who twenty years ago carried on an
extensive trade with the natives (though it was not
on their side conducted on the soundest principles
of morality) and who had considerable traffic with
the Russians in their positions beyond the 54th degree of latitude, are now totally shut out from both.
Whereas the British, who have ever dealt liberally
and honestly with the natives, have a monopoly of
the native trade; and have entered into such a contract with the Russians that they may be said to
have-a monopoly of this trade as well.
In the American mode of commerce with the natives there was no unity of purpose—no communion
of interest—no fraternity of feeling—no system—no
guiding spirit to direct and controul it; but it was
a loose, dissipated, jealous sort of thing—jealous,
not only of British rivalry, but even of American
rivalry—and eager to grasp at any article of trade,
however worthless, and by any means, however unworthy; and whence losing the attainment of important objects. But the company's mode of commerce was the very reverse. It was conducted on
the most judicious and most methodical principles;
and was guided by one master spirit, which ruled
W it even in its minut««t Operations, and absolutely
interefcAed the practice of any effort that was repugnant to justice—knowing that this would eventually recoil on themselves; and thus, by their
example, holding out, even to their opponents, a
practical lesson.
The Americans were not so much rivals of the
company as they were of one another; indeed they
could never be said to be, in the strict sense of the
word, rival of the company, for they had not the
power, either as to capital, union, or sound notions of
trade. I had many opportunities of witnessing this,
when I was stationed on the northern posts, or employed in the company's trading ships on that coast.
Some of these maritime American traders, finding
their own independent mode of trading a failure,
have sold their ships to the company, and enlisted in
it as salaried servants or officers. I may mention
one,—Capt. William M'Neil, of Boston, commander
of the brig Lama. This gentleman has now, under
the company's principle of giving promotion as the
reward of merit, risen to the station of chief
trader. Indeed most of the American traders now
feel it their interest, if not guided by any sentiment
of humanity, and conscientious duty, to follow in
the wake  of the company,—to imitate  its honest .riav
and prudent mode of dealing,—to conciliate its good
opinion by this imitation 5 and to establish among
the natives the persuasion that the white men
practise what their religious men inculcate, i. e.,
honest discharge of the duties of this life, according
to which there will be a commensurate reward hereafter. This is the invariable belief of the native
tribes; and according as" the white men swerve from
or follow in practice this great maxim of religion—
a maxim which is, they say, the foundation of the
white man's theology—they despise and hate, or
respect and trust them. While I would shrink from
attributing to the Americans, as a great national
community of civilised men, the infamy of falsifying
in practice, their professions of humanity, justice,
and freedom; yet I must, as the honest recorder
of things as I have seen them, say that the American
traders, taken in the aggregate, in the Oregon, have
not either ccrresponded with those principles of religion which even their own missionaries inculcate,
or contributed much to raise the moral reputation of
white men in the estimation of the natives. Their
general conduet has come upon them with the retributive justice of its own reward. They are hated
and distrusted by the natives, and have lost the
great object of their cupidity—the trade.
i Along the coast to the northward, after leaving
Columbia River, the next important point is Cape
Flattery—the southern entrance to Juan de Fuca
Straits. The natives inhabiting this part are the
Clatset tribe. They have not been so much affected
with the fever and ague as the Chinooks, and therefore are more numerous, Salmon, and all kinds of
wild fowl, are plentiful. The natives manufacture
some of their blankets from the wool of the wild
goat; which is done with great neatness. The 3ea
otter is plentiful about these parts. The mode
usually adopted in killing it is this: the natives,
or the half-breeds, who now adopt all the customs of
the natives, row out to the parts frequented by this
animal, whose habits resemble those of the seal.
Two men manage the canoe, while a third stands
ready; and the moment the otter rises to the surface
he is unerringly shot. When he feels himself hit
he dives, and the boatmen dart after him, well aware
of the direction he will take; and keep pace with
him until he rises again. Then, unless he floats a
dead carcass, he is a second time shot, and the chase
is renewed, until he is at last killed. He is then
hauled into the boat. Sometimes a sort of screen
is erected on the shore, behind which the marksman 232
urks, and, when the animal comes to bask on the
sands or the rocks, he is shot.
The Clatset Indians disfigure themselves by running bone rings, and other ornaments, through the
lower division of the nose, and flatten their heads
similar to the Chinooks and the Indians of the lower
Columbia, and exhibit all the leading characteristics.    The country here is covered with pine trees.
The south side of the straits from Cape Flattery
takes a south earterly direction. On the south side,
and at some distance from the cape, there is a beautiful harbour, called New Dungeness. The country,
is high and woody, chiefly covered with pine trees.
In the back ground there are very high mountains,
the tops of which are completely enveloped in snow.
The land, by the shore, is low and sandy, although
high in the interior; yet there are beautiful ^ains,
apparently as if they had been cleared by hand;
which yield excellent pasturage, and are capable of
high cultivation.
Further along the south shore there is another
beautiful harbour, called by commander Broughton,
Port Discovery; and as a shelter for this harbour
from the north-west winds there is an island close
by, called Protection Island.    The land on this part 233
of the straits abounds with defer and wild fowl, and
the waters with fish. The shores round the harbour
are low and sandy, in summer covered with bushes,
growing all kinds of berries. The Indians are not
numerous; and, like the Chinooks, are rather dirty,
the women bedaubing themselves with salmon oil,
and vermilfion clay. Besides these" harbours there
are several beautiful Islands, at intervening distances, up the straits.
The country in the neighbourhood of Port Discovery is moderately high, bounded on the west by
mountains. The land, from the water-side, rises
gradually; and is generally considered good. The
wood is chiefly hemlock, which grows to a great
height, pine, poplar, oak, and ash.
A few miles further up the straits, and from the
north shore, there runs an inlet, called Admiralty Inlet. Up along this inlet, the country is
beautiful; displaying plains interspersed with trees.
Vancouver says, " To describe the beauties of this
region, will, on some future occasion, be a very
grateful task to the pen of a skilful panegyrist."
The Indians in this neighbourhood resemble the
other southern tribes.
Keeping along the straits, you approach Puget's
Sound, running to the southward.    Nearly at the "1
southern extremity of this Sound, the company has
stationed a fort, called Fort Nasqttally. This place
was governed by a Mr. Kitson, in my time: he
formerly was a lieutenant in a Canadian regiment,
during the last American war, and then obtained distinction. His wife was the daughter of the Red-head
chief, M'Donnel; about whose adventures many
stories are told. This fort is surrounded by an
extensive prairie country. The company has a
large farm here, for growing wheat, and other kinds
of grain, potatoes, and all sorts of vegetables.
They have also established there an extensive grazing farm, and sheep walk. The land is rather
stony, but well adapted for a grazing farm.
The company's agricultural and grazing projects
here, which are on a large scale, are every day
extending and improving. Besides all this, an association has been formed, on a large scale, for the
purpose of rearing sheep; and laying the commencement of an extensive foreign wool trade. I
have recently had a communication from that country, respecting this settlement; and the result is
very satisfactory. The numerous flocks of sheep
are thriving admirably; and there is every prospect
of large exportations of wool, in a short time.
Some of the natives here live in the plains, and 235
others on the banks of the Sound. Both these observe a marked aversion to mutual incorporation,
and confine themselves to their distinct localities:
the plain tribes not approaching the Sound; and
the tribes bordering on the Sound not extending
their rovings into the plains. This is the general
rule. Their habits and food are in conformity with
their condition: the one are fishers — the other,
hunters, living on roots, dried, pounded, and
kneaded into cakes; and on deer's flesh. All this
country, both maritime and inland, abounds in all
sorts of game—geese, ducks, plovers, partridges, &c.
These are not only used for food; but are bartered
with the company's servants, for articles of use and
ornament; such as blankets, tobacco, ammunition,
and trinkets.
From this fort, to obviate the necessity of passing
up the Sound, then westward along the Fuca Straits,
and thence southward to the mouth of the Columbia, and crossing the bar in a vessel; there is a
portage way across the land: the distance being
about ninety miles from here to the banks of the
Cowlitze River. This river runs from the northern interior into the Columbia, about forty-nine
miles below Vancouver, in a south-westerly direction.    At the end of this portage, on the river's
bob 236
banks, the retired servants of the company are again
numerously locating themselves, and forming an
exclusively British settlement; as, at the Wallamette, the original settlers belonging to the Company's service were intruded on—and, in a great
measure, swamped—by the Americans. This settlement is about eighty miles from Vancouver, and
ninety from Nasqually; making it about 170 miles,
by portage, from Nasqually to Vancouver. It promises great success. The settlers all fraternise with
each other—are experienced and enterprising men
—are well acquainted with the whole region of the
Oregon, throughout its length and breadth—are
attached to the interests of the company—and are
proud, and tranquil, every man of them, in living
under the secure and unchangeable protection of
British power, and British laws.
The first settlers were two Canadians, Fancault and
Plomondeau, active and .enterprising men belonging
to the company. Their contracts having expired,
and they wishing to become farmers, were encouraged
by Dr. M'Loughlin in their project to settle on the
banks of the Cowlitze, rather than on the Wallamette;
as in this place they were more likely to be under the
exclusive protection of the company. They were
first   rate axe-men,   capable, each, of   cutting the 237
astonishing quantity of six chords of wood per day
with ease. They were, while in the company's service, overseers of the men employed in the erection
of the wooden forts throughout the district. I mention their names, as the meritorious founders of
a community, which promises so much prosperity,
deserve to be recorded.
Frazer's River risesinthe Rocky Mountains, between
latitudes 55° and 56° north, near the source of Canoe
River (which is the first large tributary of the Columbia, after the latter issues from its source; and
at first runs about north-west for a distance of about
eighty miles. It then takes a southern direction,
receiving the waters of Stuart's River, whieh rises
in one of the chains of lakes that abound in New
Caledonia. It continues its southern course by west,
receiving the waters of the Chilcotin, Pinklitsa, and
several other minor rivers flowing from the lakes or
hills of the west; and also the waters of Thompson's
River, Quisnell's River, and others which flow into
it from the east, In parallel 49° it breaks through
the cascade range of mountains in a succession of
. falls and rapids, and, running westward about
. seventy miles, is emptied into the Gulph of Georgia,
.in 49° 07' north. During this latter part of its
course, for about seventy miles, it is navigable for 238
vessels, after passing its bar, that draw twelve feet of
water. Its whole length is about 400 miles. The
country along its lower section is hilly, and covered
with forests of white pine, cedar, and other evergreen trees; and the soil is, generally, well fitted for
pasturage, and, in many places, for tillage. But
along the other, and more southern, sections, the
country is more ungenial and unproductive; being
cut up by mountains, ravines, torrents, lakes, and
marshes. Yet it is well wooded; yielding all the
varieties of trees growing in that region — fir,
spruce, pine, poplar, willow, cedar, cypress, birch,
and alder.
The climate is very variable; and the transitions
are, though periodically regular, remarkably sudden,
if not violent. During the spring, which lasts from
April till June, the weather, and the face of the
country, are delightful. In June, there are almost
incessant rains, drifted furiously along by a strong
south wind. In July and August, the heat is intense; and the ground, previously saturated with
moisture, produces myriads of annoying flies and
insects. This heat, and glaring sunshine, are succeeded, in September, by fogs of such palpable darkness, that, until noon, it is seldom possible to
distinguish objects, at a longer distance than 100 JJoy
yards. In November, the winter sets in, speedily
freezing the lakes and smaller rivers. The cold,
however, is not so intense as might be imagined in
such a country and climate.
In the interior, and upper country, the company
have forts in different parts stretching from the
forty-eighth degree of latitude to the fifty-eighth,
and have formed numerous establishments. The
following are the names of some of the principal
forts. Okanagan, Thompson's Fort, Fort St. James,
Fort Alexander, M'Leod's Fort, Frazer's Fort. I
should observe that Fort Langley is twenty miles
from the river's mouth. Trees in this district are
plentiful; but in most parts provisions are scarce;
as at such an immense distance from Vancouver
they cannot be carried in large quantities, the transportation being by land and horses. Mr. Peter Skine
Ogden is the governor of this vast district. The
principal food is salmon and various other fish;
edible land animals and wild fowl are scarce.
The Gulph of Georgia is connected with Johnson's
Straits, and divides Vancouver's Island from the
main land. At the north-east end of the Island
there is a numerous tribe called the Coquilths. The
' beaver and sea otter are plentiful, as well as the
hallibut fish, deer, and game.
:i! ■« 240
I may here mention,. that on my next expedition
to this coast, in my former capacity of trader and
interpreter—while Mr. Finlayson commanded as
chief factor—in The Beaver, trading steam ship,
which anchored in this place, we made a very important discovery—a rich mine of coal near the surface. The cause of the discovery was as curious
as the discovery itself was important. Some of the
natives at Fort M'Loughlin having, on coming to
the fort for traffic, observed coal burning in the
furnace of the blacksmiths; and in their natural
spirit of curiosity made several enquiries about it;
they were told that it was the best kind of fuel;
and that it was brought over the great salt lake—
six months' journey. They looked surprised; and,
in spite of their habitual gravity, laughed and
capered about. The servants of the fort were surprised at their unusual antics, and enquired the
cause. The Indians explained, saying, that they
had changed, in a great measure, their opinions of
the white men, whom they thought endowed by the
Great Spirit with the power of effecting great and
useful objects; as it was evident they were not
then influenced by his wisdom, in bringing such a
vast distance and at so much cost that black soft
stone, which was in such abundance in their countrv. S41
'They then pointed out where it could be found of
the richest quality close by the surface, rising in
hillocks, and requiring very little labour to dig it out*
This intelligence having been reported at Vancouver,
we received instructions to make the necessary enquiries and explorations. Mr. Finlayson with a
part of the crew, went on shore, leaving me in the
ship, to conduct the trade ; and after some enquiries
and a small distribution of rewards, found, from the
natives, that the original account given at Fort
MTiOughlin was true. The coal turned out to be
of excellent quality, running in extensive fields,
and even in clumpy mounds, and most easily worked
all along that part of the country.
The natives were anxious that we should employ
them to work the coal; to this we consented, and
agreed to give them a certain sum for each large
box. The natives being so numerous, and labour
so cheap, for us to attempt to work the coal would
have been madness. They were greatly surprised
when they first saw the steam boat, saying she could
do any thing but speak; and the white man must
have been assisted in the work by the Great Spirit;
The company has, since I left the country, established alarge cattle farm in this island.
The country here, is, irr point of beautiful scenery 242
ii i
'.Jla:..-..      ••■■ :
11   f 1
and fertility of the plains, although not so large,
even superior to the Wallamette valley. It has
beautiful runs of water, and clumps, and groves of
trees, of various kinds, scattered through the level
lands—pine, oak, cedar, and spruce.
A little further along the straits from the Coquilths,
and at the northern extremity of the.island, is the
Newettee tribe. This tribe, which now is rather pacific
in its character, and not physically powerful, has
been reduced to a skeleton of its former self, from
the inroads of the savages who come from the northern and eastern continent to kidnap them, when on
their fishing excursions, and then enslave them.
Some years ago an American vessel, which drifted
on shore in foul weather, and through bad pilotage,
was cut off here by the natives; and all hands were
murdered, with the exception of the armourer and
sail-maker. These they spared, thinking they would
be of service to them. They compelled them to join
in their war parties. One of them soon died.
Should a vessel come in to trade, they would not
allow the survivor to go on board. But after several
years had past in this miserable slavery, an American
vessel came in to trade; and the survivor managed to
make his condition known to the captain. The captain
enticed several of the chiefs on board—placed them
aw* in safe keeping; and told them then, that unless they
gave up the white man in their possession, he would
ran them up to the yard-arm. This intimidated
them. The poor fellow was soon brought on board,
to the great delight of the ship's company.
The length of the gulf and straits from point Mudge
is upwards of 100 miles. The channel, although
narrow, is free from rocks and shoals, but in some
parts a most tremendous current runs. The land,
in some places, both on the main land and the island,
is very lofty; eovered with pine trees, actually growing out of bare rocks. The natives of this island
amount in number to upwards of 5000. Their
houses are large, and are thus constructed. Immense logs are driven into the ground with large
rafters, for the roof, placed in a slanting direction.
The roof is covered with immense cedar boards, split
from cedar trees with wooden wedges made from
knots of trees, and the sides are of cedar likewise,
with curious figures, resembling men and animals,
fantastically painted on them. Some of the principal
houses will accommodate from two to three hundred people.
The chiefs often, in the winter months, give feasts
to their people. The food consists of dog, seal, and
whale blubber, with berries, &c. 244
They manufacture blankets made from the inside
bark of the cedar tree. This is soaked in water for
several days, then beaten between two pieces of bone.
They set the thigh bone of a deer, or a bone of
similar size and strength, firmly, in a horizontal position, in a stand; on this they lay a large piece of bark,
and keep beating it until it becomes soft like hemp.
It is then woven together, and dyed with various
figures upon it. They make their dye from roots.
The blanket takes two women ten days to complete.
Gulls are very numerous about this place, as there
are several rocky islets. Three or four of these
lying near the north end of the island are called
-Scott's Islands. By going on shore in the months
of June and July, in a short time bushels of eggs
may be gathered on them.
Nootka Sound is to the west side of Vancouver's
Island, in the 49° of latitude. The company's vessels seldom visit this place for traffic, as there is now
scarcely any fur to be found there. The land is
high and woody, principally covered with large pines.
And the natives resemble the more southern tribes
in their customs, and general character.
At Millbank Sound, in June, 1883, the company
commenced building a fort, and were assisted by
the crews of the vessels Dryad and Lama, the former 245
commanded by Captain Kipling, the latter by Captain
M'Neil. The land department was superintended
by Mr. Donald Manson, assisted by a Mr. Anderson
and myself; Mr. Anderson superintending the
men. I had charge of the Indian department ;
and with a complement of between forty and fifty
Canadians and Scotchmen set actively to work.
The point pitched upon was a bay about twenty
miles up the sound, in latitude 52° 6'. When the
men first went on shore, it was like entering an
impenetrable forest. They had not been there long
before the trees began to fall, and in a few days a
large open space showed itself. A place was soon
cleared for tents to be pitched; and in the course
of a month or two sufficient ground was cleared for
the erection of the pickets, or posts, which are
eighteen feet high, placed close together, for the in-
closure of the fort. These answer instead of brickwork. As soon as the enclosure was finished, we
despatched the brig Dryad to the southward, the
Lama having previously left.
During the Dryad's stay with us, our men nearly
came to battle with the Indians. One of the sailors
cutting wood, on shore, had his axe stolen; and
to obtain it, another of the men took a blanket
from   an Indian.     This  exasperated the  natives > 246
and they gave their signal. The Indians then began to muster from all quarters, furnished with firearms, knives, and axes; some of them taking position
amongst the trees—others on the beach. Our land
party being exposed to them, Mr. Manson thought
it prudent to come to a parley ; and hostilities
After the Dryad left, we pursued "our work t
the building of the fort progressed with great
vigour; and during its erection, we pushed on a
brisk trade in furs. I was appointed to the post of
trader, acting under Mr. Manson, as governor of
the fort. My instructions were to lower the price
of skins; give in payment useful, substantias!,, and
lasting articles; and endeavour to do away, if possible, with the injurious and degrading article of
spirits, as a medium of barter: as the American
vessels had previously been here, and had given
immense prices, and sold spirits, so that the company's
vessels should be debarred from the whole trade.
This exasperated the Indians against me; and they
gave me the name of " ShloapeSj" i. e., " stingy:"
and when near them, if I should spit, they would
run and try to take up the spittle in something; for,
according as they afterwards informed me, they
intended to give it to their doctor or magician; and 247
he would charm my life away. But they were much
disappointed to find me there for sixteen months
Everything went on favourably until the month
of October; when, to our surprise, one of our
men deserted and joined these savages. He
was a Canadian. And, as we were given to understand that he was with one of the tribes in the
neighbourhood of the fort, called " Kyete's tribe;"
(Kyete being the chiefs name—but" nicknamed by
an American captain, Boston;) we sent for this
chief: but previous, however, to this, we offered
to give them blankets, ammunition, and other articles, if they would bring him back; but to no
purpose. We, therefore, knowing the value the
natives set on their chief, detained him in the fort,
thinking this would induce them to come to terms:
and we informed them unless our man was'given up,
we should send their chief to the governor at Vancouver. During this time we were living in the
enclosure, which was not farther than ten feet from
an impenetrable wood, in boarded, temporary houses
and tents. The bastions were built; but we had
not our big guns properly placed. Having so many
men in the fort, our water became scarce; and to 248
et more we were obliged to go 120 yards from the
On a particidar day, seeing no Indians about, we
proposed to allow some of the men to go out with
buckets to get water.    Mr. Anderson and myself
went outside to see after them, while Mr. Manson
kept a look out within the enclosure, from a high
temporary watch tower.   We had not been out many
minutes, when, looking around the bay, and on a
point of land about a quarter of a mile to the southward, we perceived a fire- At that instant several Indians rose up—gave the war whoop, and the fort was
then surrounded with hundreds of these savages,
—some armed with knives, others- with guns and
axes.      Mr.   Manson   cried   out   to   arms.     Mr.
Anderson and myself rushed as fast as possible to
the fort, and then to the bastions; from whence we
commenced firing, along, with the men that remained
in the fort.   This threw the Indians into confusion,
and made them retreat, with some loss of fife, into
the woods.    The whole of our outside men escaped
unhurt into the  fort,  with the exception of two.
One of these was a half-breed, who was surrounded
by eight Indians.    He was cut in the shoulder severely by an axe aimed at his head;  after this blow 249
he managed to wrest the axe from the Indian, and
keep his assailants at bay; but another Indian
coming up with a gun, was in the act of shooting
him, when Mr, Anderson rushed to the fort gate,
and, with his rifle, shot the Indian. The others decamped, and the half-breed made bis way into the
fort. The other, a Canadian, had, before the disturbance, fallen down, with an axe in his hand, which had
injured him. This man they took prisoner; dragging him, face downwards, to the water-side, and
placed him, tied hands and feet, in a canoe; it
being that night their full intention, had we not had
their chief in custody, to have burnt him. During
the night they kept up a continual whoop and firing
of guns; but kept a long distance from the fort,
fearing we should get our big guns to bear upon
them. Having this poor fellow in their possession all night, they brought him in the morning
under the fort, and announced a desire to speak to
us: and finding their chief was safe, said if we would
give their chief freedom they would return our man.
The deserter they persisted they knew nothing of.
Finding we could not get back the deserter, we
proposed to give them their chief, provided our man,
whom they had taken prisoner, was returned; and
likewise we proposed that they should give us two 250 .
inferior chiefs as hostages. This was done for a
guarantee, to prevent any of our men from being
attacked by them, in case they were compelled to
go out of the fort. This was agreed to. The chief
having been let free, our Canadian returned next
morning; and the two Indians were kept as hostages to ensure safety to our men on quitting the fort
for business. The Indians requested us to hoist our
flag, as a signal of peace. They informed us, that
one or two Indians had been wounded in the previous conflict; and wished to know if they came,
since peace had been proclaimed, whether we would
dress their wounds; to this also we willingly consented, and the patients were restored quite recovered.
This conduct on our part, in receiving and healing
their wounded, made a very favourable impression
on them; and they exhibited every pacific disposition. We kept, however, within the fort for several
weeks, until their vindictive feeling would completely have cooled down; and by that time we became mutual friends. Trade then again commenced
at a brisk rate; and we went on building and
clearing ground as usual, for the completion of the
fort, and the preparation of our little farm. As I
began to speak their language, so I increased in
favour with them. 251
These Indians differ greatly from the southern tribes
in the prominence of their countenances; and the regularity of their features, thus resemblingthe northern
Europeans.  They are rather dirty, using quantities of
oil for the hair; and daub their faces with verrnillion:
this they use from their infancy.   The-shores here are
high, and covered with trees.    A little way in the interior are patches of plains, but rocky and covered
with short grass and moss.    In the neighbourhood,
the wood consists of pine, hemlock, cedar, spruce,
small fruit, crab, birch, and various kinds of berry
bushes.   The Indians are numerous, and divided into
three different   tribes.     The chiefs   are Wacash,
Oyellow, and Kyete.    Halfibut and salmon abound
here—the salmon far inferior, and much smaller than
the Columbia salmon—herrings, too, are found there
in abundance: the spawn is gathered by the natives,
and dried on sea>leaves for their winter provision.
They likewise take the tender rind from the inside
bark of the hemlock tree, and pound it into cakes,
which they dry in the sun.    The salmon is split
down the back, and smoked, and dried for winter.
Blankets are made, by the women, from cedar bark,
in the same way as those made by the Coquilths,
already mentioned.    They have several villages that
they shift to at different seasons of the year.    Their
K m
winter villages are strong built houses, particularly
those belonging to the chiefs. Here, as well as in
Johnson's Straits, the chiefs entertain, at a public
feast, the members of their several tribes. At these
feasts the men sit on benches ranged on one side,
near the wall; and the women are ranged opposite
them. They also give public entertainments to the
chiefs of the more inland tribes.
In their marriages, the Indian taking a wife,
generally makes her friends presents,—a war canoe,
dressed elk skins, beaver skins; and English goods,
such as blankets, ammunition, &c.; receiving presents from her friends in return. On the wedding-
day they have a public feast, at which they dance
and sing, sometimes in separate groups; sometimes
all dance and sing together—men and women. In
their singing, which is a sort of irregular chaunt,
they all keep to the same key, and therefore it is
not easy to distinguish any individual excellence
among them. In their dances they throw their
bodies into a variety of fantastic attitudes, and
move their hands, keeping time to the music. On
these occasions they are decked off in their best
dresses and ornaments. They have one curious
custom in their dances : at stated periods, they
keep puffing from a painted tube, one end of which 253
is inserted in the mouth, the other pointed upwards,
quantities of fine down, which flies about their
heads, presenting the imitation of a snow shower.
In the winter months these, as well as the neighbouring tribes, assemble in great numbers in the
chiefs house, for the purpose of witnessing the chief
imitate different spirits, whom they are supposed to
worship. He puts on, at intervals, different dresses;
and large masks, of different kinds, entirely covering
his head and neck. The masks are made to open
the mouth and eyes by means of secret springs, invisible to the spectators; and different noises are
sent forth. He dresses for each character behind a
large curtain, drawn quite across the room, like the
drop curtain in a theatre; and then comes forth,
and stands on a sort of stage in front of it, while
the spectators are ranged on benches placed along
the side walls. In one of his characters he imitates
the rising sun, which they believe to be a shining
man, wearing a radiated crown, and continually
walking round the earth, which is stationary. He
wears, on this occasion, a most splendid dress of
ermine, and other valuable furs; and a curiously
constructed mask, set round with seals' whiskers,
and feathers, which gradually expand like a fan;
and from the top of the mask swan-down is shaken 254
out in great quantities, according as he moves his
head. The expanding seals' bristles, and feathers
represent the sun's rays; and the showers of down,
rain and snow: the Indians chaunting at the same
time, in regular order and in a low key, showing
reverence, devotion, and awe.
Sometimes the various divine personages are
represented by one man; sometimes there are two
or three personators on the stage all at once, representing different divinities. Our men were often
invited to witness these religious exhibibitions; but
the greatest silence, attention, and decorum were
expected from them. Our attendance they considered a high compliment; and they invariably
made us presents, generally of skins, before we departed. One of our people, a half-breed, a funny
volatile boy, son of Mr. Manson, used to imitate,
on a sort of many barred fife, the noise made by the
sacerdotal chiefs on the stage. The Indians, when
they used to come to the fort, and hear this, seemed
much amazed; and often begged of me to check
him. After the conclusion of the ceremony they
have a feast, consisting generally of seals' and dogs'
flesh, salmon, boiled and roast, and different kinds
of berries. During the representation and the feast,
there is a large wood-fire in the centre of the room. 255
As I acquired a knowledge of their language, I
was admitted to much of their personal confidence,
and soon became interpreter.
There is one very remarkable peculiarity of their
religious customs which deserves to be noticed: and
if I had not personal evidence of its reality, I should
be slow to bring myself to a belief of its actual
existence. The chief, who is supposed to possess
the " right divine" of governing, and to be the intermediate agent between the great solar spirit—the
Creator and Supreme Ruler—and his creatures here
below, retires at times, whenever he fancies himself
summoned by the divine call, from the tribe, without
giving them any previous intimation of his mission;
and takes up his abode in the lonely woods and
mountains, taking clandestinely with him a small
-stock of dried salmon for sustenance. When he is
missed by his family, the report is spread abroad;
and then it is known that he has gone to hold
familiar converse with the Great Spirit, who will,
within a short time, descend to give him an interview.
Intelligence has then been procured, from the Indian
who saw him last on that day, as to his route, and
the district of the woods and hills to which he is
likely to confine his wanderings; and a sacred
boundary line is drawn round this district, within 256
which it is a crime of profanation to pass, on hunt*
ting or fishing excursions, on pain of death. Should
any unlucky Indian even meet this compound of
chief and priest in his excursions, he is sure to be
put to 'death; either by the chief himself, for he
must be perfectly passive in the infuriated chiefs
hands; or, should the chief in his abstracted mood
not attack him, he must, on his return to the tribe,
acknowledge the guilt, and resign himself a voluntary victim. Should he conceal the fact of his meeting the chief, and should the chief, on his return,
charge him with the fact, then he would undergo
the most shocking torture. The duration of the
chiefs absence on this mission is irregular—at least
it is long enough to exhaust his small stock of food,
even with the utmost economy. It is often three
weeks. When hunger pinches him (and he generally selects the most desert and dreary region,
destitute of esculent fruits or roots) his imagination
becomes inflamed; and what was before religion or
superstition, becomes now frenzy; during which the
fancied interview with the Great Spirit occurs. He
returns at last to the village, the most hideous object in nature, with matted hair, shrunken cheeks,
blood-shot eyes, and parched lips—his blanket,
which is his  sole covering,  all hanging in shreds 257
about   him,   torn by   boughs   and   brambles—his
face  all begrimed with filth ;   animated with all
the unnatural ferocity of a demoniac.    His return
is by night, and as  uncertain as his  departure.
He  does not   first   arrive,  generally,   at his  own
house:   but rushes to some  other,   according  to
the blind caprice of his wildness;   and instead of
entering it by the door, he ascends the roof—tears
off one of the cedar-board coverings, and plunges
down into the centre of the family circle; he then
springs  on one of the full grown inmates, like a
famished wolf—wrenches with his teeth a mouthful of his flesh, from his limbs or body, which he
convulsively  bolts down,   without any process   of
mastication, but barely chopping the lump once or
twice for the purpose of easier deglutition.   No resistance is made, for the sufferer thinks that he has
been ordered by the Great Spirit to yield up a part
of his flesh.and blood, as a sort of peace or sin offering to the priest.     The chief then rushes to
another house in the same way, and makes the same
hurried repast.    He continues this process along
other houses; until, in a few hours, he becomes exhausted, from the quantity of human living flesh
that he has  devoured.    He is then taken home in
a state of torpor; and thus remains, like an over- 258
gorged beast of prey, for a couple of days. After
his resuscitation he is languid and sickly; and, as
he must not partake of the usual food for a certain
time after he has got his fill of the human sacrifice,
he goes on but slowly to convalescence.
I have been, more than once, in close connexion
with one of these chiefs, after his restoration; and
his breath was like an exhalation from a grave.
The wounds inflicted by his bite, though held as
sacred trophies, often proved mortal. Their mode
of cure is this :—They apply eagle-down as a stiptie
to check the hemorrhage; and then apply a plaster,
made of pine-tree gum. Several of the wounded
and consecrated persons, after we established our
fort, finding their own mode of treatment ineffectual,
came to our surgeon (applying to me first, as interpreter) to have their rankling sores healed. They
used to present a most hideous appearance; being
jagged and torn, and often showing the clear indentations of the human teeth; and besides the fetor
issuing from them was most noxious. The daughter
of one of the chiefs (who practised this abomination), the wife of one of our men, told me that her
father, on his return to the village, after his sojourn
in the woods and mountains, met an Indian, on
whom he flew, and whose side he continued to bite
m and devour until his bowels protruded.   The Indian
made no resistance;  and, when the chief ran off,
he crawled to the village; and though every effort
was made to heal his wounds, they were found to
be too mortal for human remedy.    He died soon
afterwards, in their idea, a consecrated person.    So
much importance and pride do these Indians attach
to these lacerations, that the youngsters, who have
not had the good fortune to be thus scarred, apply
lighted gunpowder to their limbs;   and use other
means to produce a holy gash.
An American vessel, some years previous to our
visiting this   place,   was   attacked  by the natives,
and part of the crew, as well as the captain, killed.
About eight o'clock in the morning the vessel was
boarded by some of the chiefs;   and numerous Indians mustered round the vessel in canoes showing
quantities of furs.   Most of the sailors were up aloft,
loosing the sails to be aired.   The chiefs called the
captain to the gangway to look at the furs;, and while
he was in the act of looking at them, one chief on
each side of him plunged a knife in his side, after
that they pitched him overboard.   The women in the
canoes cut him to pieces with their sharp paddles,,
when he rose to the surface.   The natives, on this
signal, rushed on deck, and a terrible conflict ensued. 260
After many of the crew were slaughtered, with a
great number of the savages, the remaining sailors
contrived to slip the anchor and sail off to the northward.     They  were picked up, in  a very crippled
state, by another American ship, who afforded them
every assistance, and enabled them to reach Boston.
I often mentioned  this shocking  occurrence to
the natives, with the object of sounding their  dispositions and feelings.    The general tenour of their
remarks showed me that they regretted it as an imprudent act, which would recoil on themselves, by
awakening the apprehensions of the white men, and
urging them to a more guarded, and less liberal
mode of dealing;—that they considered it, in the
abstract, cruel and treacherous; but then they used
to palliate the act by strong insinuations that, as
the class of white men to whom the ship belonged,
had no great sympathy with them; and indeed showed
every disposition to cheat and harass them,   there
ought not to be raised such an outcry about the
matter; for sooner or later they should be obliged to
fight in their own defence; and that they then thought
a favourable opportunity should not be lost,    Kyete,
the chief who gave the captain his mortal blow on
deck, often told me, that plunder was not their exclusive object; but that he was induced, in a fit of 261
rage, to strike the captain, when he fouild him exhibiting a dishonest and domineering disposition.
He regretted, he said, the occurrence deeply; and
it would never have occurred, he was sure, if the
ship belonged to the great company; for the company would not wish to rob the Indians, as the
captain intended. And he used to appeal to me,
whether I did not think, that, from the conduct of
the tribe to us, our whole crew would be safe (even
if the ship were left unguarded to swing at anchor)
before one of his remote villages. I used to give him a
reply of general consolation and civility, without expressing any decided opinion on the matter. I certainly had no fear of a similar attack, for three good
reasons: we were too. much on the alert; we dealt
liberally and honestly with them; and the generally
believed power of the company was a tower of
I often conversed with these people on the cardinal
points of religion; and they always seemed glad to
hear the subject. They used to say, we know the
Great Spirit is good, and that he made us and the
world;—that the evil spirit is bad, and has hoofs
and horns; and that the bad will be punished
hereafter. 262
Fort M'Loughlin—Voyage from it all along, the intricate
inlets or canals—Various tribes—their appearance, and
Fobt M'Loughlin is about 120 yards square, having
two bastions standing at right angles; in each of
these are four nine-pound guns, with a quantity of
small arms, ready for action. It is surrounded
with pickets; i. e., trees, cut eighteen feet long,
where no branches have run out, and about
twenty-four inches in circumference. These pickets
are mortised into a large square log placed firmly
in the earth. The pickets are placed so close together that they cannot even be seen through.
There are double gates at the entrance, with a
small wicket gate in them. At the top of the pickets there is another large log, into which the
pickets are mortised, and at the top are placed long
spikes. Inside the fort, round the pickets, and
about four feet and a half from the top, is a gal-
« 263
lery run round the fort. Here a watchman is continually kept on the look out, and a one-pound
swivel placed over the gate : this protects the gateway. On the inside of the gate, on entering the
fort, stands the Indian hall. A certain number of
Indians are only allowed to enter for trade at a
time; this hall is intended for them to wait in until
they trade. Another man is constantly kept at the
gate to let the Indians in and out. Adjoining the
hall are the trader's house, and a house for the officer
in charge of the men. On the left, on entering
the fort, is the Indian shop and store, for the Indians
to trade, and the trader's outfit. Adjoining this is
a place for holding provisions traded from the natives, such as deer, hallibut, salmon, and wild fowl.
On the right hand side of the fort is a long building, divided into rooms, for the men. At the end
of this is a very neat house, part of which is converted into a mess-room. At the further end of the
fort, fronting the entrance, is Mr. Manson's house,
divided into several rooms, all of which are very
neat and compact. On the left of the fort is a long
warehouse for the reception of the general outfit
which is sent once a year, by a vessel, from Vancouver. There are other small buildings, such as
the blacksmith's shop, and   carpenter's shop,  and 264
the kitchen, to which are attached the cook's and
steward's rooms. The Indians are all kept near the
gate and Indian hall; they are not allowed to enter
the fort square, with the exception of the chiefs.
These are sometimes allowed to visit the governor's
house; where they get some biscuit and molasses
and a little weak spirits and water. The Indians
generally behave themselves very well, when inside the fort; but as they are much addicted to
thieving (at which they are most expert), we kept
a constant watch over them. But all our vigilance
was often futile. I have known vessels when lying in the neighbourhood of this place trading, to
have been pilfered of both canister-shot and powder, taken out of the big guns.
Having quitted Fort M'Loughlin in 1834, in the
brig Dryad, I returned to the Columbia, and was
there stationed till the middle of 1836; having passed some time at Fort Vancouver, and been stationed at Fort George as superintendant. I then
returned to Fort M'Loughlin, in the "Beaver"
steamer, in the character of trader and interpreter,
and was happy once more in the society of its first
governor,—my old friend Mr. Manson, than whom,
I must say, there is not in the company's service a
more persevering, acute, zealous, and honourable, 265
and therefore efficient, trader;—feared and trusted
by the natives, and esteemed by the servants. I am
happy, too, in saying that he has had his long-merited
reward, in official promotion, and in the company's
increased estimation of his excellent qualities. During the interval between my departure and return,
I found that Mr. Manson, although reduced to a
short complement of men, had made many great improvements at the settlement. A large tract of
ground had been cleared round the fort, where potatoes, and other vegetables were growing. Several
large buildings had been erected inside the fort.
The bastions were all complete, with the large nine-
pounders staring us in the face. And the Indians
were brought to a quiet and well-behaved course of
conduct. No further disturbance had occurred in
my absence.
Chief factor Finlayson was on board the steamer
with us, reconnoitering the coast; Captain Home was
commander, late of the East India service, Mr. Dodd
chief officer. We had on board upwards of thirty
It was the intention of Mr. Finlayson, under
whose instructions all our scheme of proceeding was
to be conducted, to push on along the numerous and
intricate inlets (that interlace the whole country) as -ME
far as possible inland, in order to come as much
within reach of the interior tribes as possible. Therefore we ran into their uttermost extremities, along
almost the whole of the labyrinth ; stopping sometimes to trade, and ascertain the capabilities of the
country, and the character of the natives, who had
never seen a large vessel (and especially a steamer)
or a white man before. The country had the main
characteristics of that about Millbank Sound. Some
of the natives showed a flattened forehead, but not
a compressed head. Indeed, generally, they are a
well-featured and muscular race, but suspicious and
rather treacherous. Along these inlets, many of
which are the mouths of rivers, the tribes are clustered in villages,—especially towards the interior.
At Fort M'Loughlin we took on board about
twenty-six cord of wood, for fuel, which was ready
cut for us ; this generally lasted us, when running on, between three and four days. From here
we ran inland, up different inlets, called canals,
which run out of Fitzhugh's Sound, a little to the
southward of Fort M'Loughlin. Up these canals
we proceeded about a day's voyage. The land along
these canals is lofty, and covered with pine, apparently growing out of rocks. In some places
these   canals   are   clear running  all through;   at 267
other places the navigation is occasionally obstructed.
About twelve at noon, on the second day, we
reached a place called, by Vancouver, "Bentick's arms"
—inhabited by a tribe of Indians—the Bellaghchoolas.
Their village is near Salmon River; where Sir
Alexander M'Kenzie came down from the interior, during his survey, and, by observation, found
he must be near the Pacific Ocean : and in case any
vessel should run to this place to trade, he made a
mark on a large rock; which was partly distinguishable when we were there. He named this Salmon
River, on account of the quantities of salmon he saw
in it. Though we arrived in the salmon season, we
could not prevail upon the natives to sell us one>
unless cooked by themselves; as they, as well as
the Chinooks, and other tribes, fancy that cutting
the salmon crossways " sends them away," and they
will have none for their winter provisions. We
traded numbers of furs from them, but nothing
The land here is high; as in other parts, entirely
covered with trees—not a patch of clear land to be
We likewise visited another^ large tribe of Indians
to the southward, up a canal running out of John- 268
son's Straits, far into the main land. We took, from
Milbank, an Indian, as interpreter. It took us,
from the straits, a day and a half to reach its extremity. The land along the shore was high and
woody—completely covered with pine trees—not a
patch of clear ground to be seen. The natives appeared to be milder-looking tribes than those nearer
the ocean. It runs upwards of 100 miles inland,
from Fort M'Loughlin, in a south-easterly direction.
On running, with the steam-boat, up this canal as
far as possible, on the second day, we came to a stop
—the water became shallow; and we anchored in
a small bay. Several natives came to us in canoes,
and told us the village was up a small river, and entreated us to go thither: but our Indian interpreter
wished us not. However, the captain was anxious, and
pressed me to accompany him; to which I consented.
We manned our whale boat; and we were well
armed, No one had been up this place since Captain Vancouver's boats were up here, surveying;
and the Indians, after we had been there a little
time, began to muster in great numbers. We put
Ourselves on our guard, and set a regular watch to
mark their manoauvres.
The village we visited was  up a small shallow
river,  about two  miles long,  with scarcely water 269
sufficient for our boat to go up.   In this river, we fell
in with two large canoes, on their way to the vessel.
When we arrived within a quarter of a mile of the
village, the Indians flocked from the bush in great
numbers, on to the banks of the river, armed with
guns, and bows, and arrows.    Seeing our boat full of
men, and our musketoons fixed on the gunwale of
the boat, they got an impression that we were coming to attack their village, and exhibited a hostile spirit.    They understood a little of the Mil-
bank   tongue.     I  therefore  gave them to   understand that we were peaceably  inclined,  and had
only come to trade with them,  and to  visit their
village.    Having eleven men in the boat, the captain, myself, and three men, went "on shore to visit
the houses; leaving six men in the boat, and giving
them instructions to pull into the middle of the
stream, and lie abreast of the village.    The natives
there appeared to be friendly towards us; and made
us presents of some skins and shells; but expected
something in return—which they got.    They showed
us different wooden idols, some resembling the dog
■—and some, men.    The village was very large, and
enclosed with pickets, about eight feet high.    This
was to preserve the village from being attacked by
the interior tribes.    I saw, on a tree, a small coffin, 270
with a covering over it, and a human image, cut
out of wood, and painted. They informed me that
this was the corpse of a child that had been killed
by their enemies when attacking their fort, some
time before; and they had placed it there with this
idol by its side, as a memorial of their cruelty in
slaying an innocent. Quantities of berries and
dried salmon were stowed away in their houses for
winter. There could not be less than from 500 to
600 Indians belonging to this village. The women
seemed to be much afraid of us, as were alSo the
children. I asked the reason; and was informed
that it was the first time they had ever seen a white
man in their lives. They seemed anxious to detain
us at the village as long as possible: but our men
informed us that the water was fast falling; and that
we should not, if we remained longer, be able to
get back. I had no doubt that they wished to detain us, from some sinister design, until the tide had
ebbed, so as to bar our departure: and we rowed
off. On our arrival at the ship, our interpreter informed us that some of the Indians had been there,
and said we should never return again. He (the
interpreter) had been — we were informed by Mr.
Dodd, the chief officer — a long way up the rigging,   with  the   spy-glass,  anxiously   looking out for us. The officers, and likewise the men, were
glad to see us heave in  sight with the boat.
The country up the river, as far as the village,,
appeared low, covered with berry bushes. Pine and
alder appeared to be the principal wood. The interior, I have not the slightest doubt, is a plain
We sent our wood-cutters on shore at this place,
and renewed our stock of wood; the Indians assisting in carrying it to the beach, and bringing it
alongside the vessel in their canoes; for which we
gave them some tobacco : and having procured
what furs we could, we again run down the canal
into Johnson's Straits—from thence alongFitzhughes'
Sound *to Fort M'Loughlin; where we again took
in our complement of wood, and ran for the northward, after leaving Milbank Sound, The entrance
of Milbank Sound is by low rocks, and a rising
land, called Cape Swain, and lies in latitude 52° 13';
the north-west point of entrance is Point Day, off
which lie several rocky, barren islets. In passing,
numerous seals, sea elephants, and sea lions, with
other monsters of the deep, can be seen lying, when
the sun is out, basking on the rocks.
The Indians at the Milbank Sound, called Belbel-
khs,   are   very   ingenious   and   imitative.     They le*
Ii 111;
II !i
watched sharply all our proceedings, and gave us
striking examples of their native talent. They
promised to construct a steam-ship on the model
of ours. We listened, and shook our heads incredulously ; but in a short time we found that they had
felled a large tree, and were making the hull out
of its scooped trunk. Some time after, this rude
steamer appeared. She was from twenty to thirty
feet long, all in one piece—a large tree hollowed
out—resembling the model of our steamer. She was
black, with painted ports; decked over; and had paddles painted red, and Indians, under cover, to turn
them round. The steersman was not seen. She
was floated triumphantly, and went at the rate of
three miles an hour. They thought they had nearly
come up to the point of external structure : but then
the enginery baffled them; and this they thought
they could imitate in time, by perseverance, and the
helping ifiumination of the Great Spirit.
They bury their dead amongst rocks, placing in
their coffins, as the Chinooks do, articles for their
use in the next world. They believe, that after
they are dead, they are taken in a canoe along a
dark lake, for a long distance; and then come to
large gates. These gates are opened as they approach.    There are, beyond these, two rivers—one 273
branching to the right; the other, to the left. If
they have done good, and not committed murder,
they will go to the right; where there is salmon in
abundance, berries of all sorts growing continually,
and the sun always shining. On the left, there
is continual snow and frost, misery, and starvation.
These Indians deal in slaves, purchased from the
southern tribes—the original kidnappers—and then
sell them, at a profit, to the northern tribes, who
come down to purchase them. A full-grown, athletic slave, who is a good hunter, will fetch nine
blankets, a gun, a quantity of powder and ball, a
couple of dressed elk skins, tobacco, vernullion paint,
a flat file, and other little articles.
After leaving Point Day, and taking a northerly
course ; instead of going out into the open ocean,
the company's vessels generally keep inland, along
the canals De Larado and Delprincipe. The country
along tbesp canals is inhabited by a numerous tribe
of Indians, called the Sebassa tribe; differing in many
points from the more southern tribes. They are
more active and enterprising than the Milbank
tribes, but the greatest thieves and robbers on the
coast. They are scattered about along the canals;
but the principal residence of the chief is either at
Land Otter Harbour, or Seal Harbour.   In each of 274
these harbours there is good anchorage for vessels.
They build their villages, chiefly, upon high and
precipitous rocky islands, or promontories; having
steps cut down to the water.   This is done to prevent any sudden attack from an enemy.    The chief,
Sebassa, has twenty wives,  and  numerous  slaves;
and is accounted to be one of the wealthiest on the
coast.    They go in bands, in their canoes, to the
southward; and, unawares, kidnap the Indians, when
out fishing, or gathering berries.    These are then
taken inland, and traded as slaves.    Some of these
Indians, from their trading intercourse with the
British and American ships, speak a little English,
They bring large quantities of various kinds of fur-
skins for barter—beaver,  bear,  racoon, otter, fox,
seal.    Their food, and manner of living, resemble
the Milbank tribe.    They give feasts and dances;
and have religious ceremonies, and religious masquerades, or theatrical representations, similar to those
of the Nootka Sound tribes.    The shores are high
and rocky, covered with pine and cedar trees.    The
natives are great gamblers; and, as well as the more
southern tribes,  resemble the   Chinooks in   their
games.   The seal are -aumerous ; and-are either shot,
when lying on the rocks; or most dexterously speared,
when floating, in the same manner as a whale.
SHE 275
One day, running along these canals, we had on
board one of these Indians, to show us the different
harbours; but it became very foggy, so that we
could scarcely see the ship's length before us. The
Indian, having a large hat on, resembling the top
of a small parasol, made of the twisted fibres of the
roots of trees, with an aperture in the inside, at the
broader end, to fit his head. He stood upon the
quarter-deck—took off his hat—and informed me
that he intended to charm the fog away; for which
I was to give him some tobacco. To this I consented. He murmured some few words; and with
his hand, pretended to gather the fog into his hat.
He then, all of a sudden, dropped his hat on the
deck, as if he had* something in it; and, after holding it, mouth down, for some minutes, and murmuring some more words, informed me that the fog
would soon be gone. The fog, in about half an
hour, did happen to clear away fast. He then assumed a proud and self-confident air; and assured
us that it was all the work of his " conjuration and
mighty magic." I saw no necessity for offending or
provoking him by any expression or sign of dissent
or incredulity; as we were in a great degree under
his guidance, in those intricate and narrow guts.
Of course the fellow,   from his knowledge of the 276
climate and the locality, was weather-wise; and
could tell the appearance and disappearance of those
periodical fogs. I gave him his tobacco, and a
little more, with which he was highly pleased.
The only covering the men have, is a large blanket thrown round their bodies. The women have a
loose, figured calico shirt over them, with a piece
of coarse cloth thrown across their shoulders—the
calico having lately superseded the former skins.
Both male and female daub themselves over with
vermillion. They wear large rings through the nose;
some of these rings being bone—others, silver; made
by themselves, from dollars purchased from American traders. As ornaments for their wrists, they
have bracelets, made from brass wire. Their hair
is very long; for which they use a great deal of seal
and salmon oil. When a relation, or parent, dies,
they put themselves in mourning, by cutting the
hair quite close, and blacking the face and neck, for
some months. Both men and women bore large
holes through their ears; from which they suspend
red worsted threads, plaited and knotted, and hanging down about eight inches, instead of earrings.
The old women disfigure themselves, by having a slit
cut right through their lower lip, crosswise, from one
end to the other.    They then have a piece of hard wood, or bone, made the length of the cut; rounded at
the end, about two inches long, half an inch broad,
and a quarter of an inch thick. This is inserted in
the slit, inside, between the lip and gum; making
the lower lip project out about one inch beyond the
upper. The sight is hideous. Our men used jocosely
to say, this lower lip would make a good slab to lay
their trousers on, to be scrubbed. Shell-fish, of
every kind, are plentiful.
The general character of the country, as we proceeded northward, wore the same aspect—rocky,
woody, and mountainous. From the 47° to the 54°,
there is a complete net-work of inland navigation—
sounds, bays, inlets, harbours—safe all through, for
all vessels. This I can attest, as I have run through
the whole course several times, by steam and sail. CHAPTER   XVII.
Fort Simpson—the surrounding country;   and the various
At the termination of the canals crossing Chatham
Sound, is Fort Simpson, in latitude 54°, named after
Mr. Simpson (now Sir George Simpson), of York
Factory, and governor of the whole of the Hudson's
Bay Company's territory. This fort is situated near
Point Wales, on a small island in the sound, opposite Dundas. Island, and near the northern termination of the British territory.
Fort Simpson is built after the model of most of
the other forts. The governor is John Work, Esq.,
chief trader, an Irish gentleman, who has been for
many years in the Hudson's Bay Company. Surrounding the fort, is a large and fruitful potatoe and
vegetable garden. The officer conducting the Indian
department is Mr. John Kennedy, a medical doctor,
son of the late chief factor Kennedy, many years
attached to the Hudson's Bay Company.    The fort is built in a beautiful bay, with excellent anchorage
for shipping.
The Indians are the Nass tribe, who are very
numerous, and in customs and language resemble
the Sabassa Indians, with whom they intermarry:
indeed, both these tribes appear to be offshoots from
one parent stock. The principal chief is Ilgeak;
whom they designate by the title of Wil-aks Smo-
ket, i. e., the mighty chief: and in truth, if a gigantic person, a stately air, a noble mien, a manly
port, and all the characteristics of external dignity,
with a symmetrical figure, and a perfect order of
European contour, would qualify any one for that
title, he fully deserves it. Were he exhibited in
^London, with his harem, he would beat all exhibitions of American Indians out of the field. The
whole race, generally speaking, are a fine body of
men. But the old women adopt the shocking custom of slitting the lower lip, and inserting the piece
of bone or wood. It seems that some preparation
has been made for this in their youth: the young
women have small holes bored through the lower
lip, and a piece of round silver placed in it, projecting out about three-quarters of an inch. This aperture gradually grows wider with age; and affords a
facility for a final gash.    They wear gowns, made 280
tl 'i|i!
of calico. These are made loose, similar to a shirt;
but, to show their shape, they have stays, made of
cloth, ornamented with pearl buttons. These are
drawn round them quite tight. They also wear a
blanket, thrown across their shoulders. Their hair
is long, parted in front, and, behind, is bound round
with a piece of scarlet cloth, which hangs down like
a tail.
These northern tribes burn their dead, and deposit
the ashes in a box, in a secluded spot in the woods.
When a chief dies, he is, before interment, dressed
up—his face painted—and placed, sitting up, in a
canoe, and paddled round the maritime village, looking almost like life. The magicians, or doctors, wear
very long hair. They carry images of their gods
and spirits in a box, which is kept sacred, and is
scarcely ever seen by the vulgar. They have great
power over the tribe; and some of the Indians stand in
great fear of them; for if a doctor owes them a grudge,
he will, they think, charm away their life. I have
been told by a doctor himself, that sometimes an
Indian's wife, sister, or daughter, may die; and the
Indian, supposing the doctor to have charmed away
her life, will avenge himself on the doctor. Amongst
the southern tribes, murders have been committed
by the Indians on the doctors. 281
The oil which they eat with the various kinds of
dried fish, is made from sprats, and in the following
manner. In the centre of their huts they have a
fire; and a quantity of these fish are placed in a
large square bucket with water: then hot stones are
kept constantly thrown in amongst the fish, with a
pair of wooden tongs. The oil rises to the top of
the water, and a person is kept in attendance to skim
it off. After standing until cold, it is quite white-
and thick. They also make seal oil from the
blubber. Quantities of deers' and goats' grease are
traded from them. Bears' grease might be obtained
here in abundance; as the black and brown bear
are numerous. Deer, and all kinds of wild fowl, are
also plentiful. The principal fur is the beaver, marten, sea otter, land otter, minx, cross-fox, and silver-
fox, and squirrels.
About the month of September, various tribes,
who are friendly with the Nass Indians, visit the
fort, and encamp around it: then the fort is surrounded with hundreds of Indians. The principal
tribes visiting at this time, are the Tongarse, Ke-
garnie, Port Stewart, and Stikein. More northern
tribes come from the Russian possessions ; and the
Indians from Queen Charlotte's Island, called the
Massets, Comshewars, and Sketigets.    At this time 282
there are all kinds of dancing, singing, and feasting
amongst them. Trade is kept up at a brisk rate at the
fort, which is made in a manner a lively show booth.
The Indians coming from distant parts to this
fort, have large canoes, from thirty to fifty feet long,
the paddles resembling those of the Chinooks, and
are managed in the same manner. Besides containing numerous Indians, their canoes are piled up
with goods for barter. They remain mustered here
for some weeks, making the fort a complete fair. It
requires strict and good management, at this time, by
the companies of officers, to protect the fort. On
landing at the fort, their canoes are piled up in large
heaps, covered over with mats, to keep the sun from
cracking them. They bring provisions with them,
to last during their stay and journey home. Feasts
are given by the chiefs; and invitations sent regularly round to the different guests. Should any of
the officers of the company be invited, stools are
placed by the side of the fire, covered over with
cloth and fine calico; and they are introduced with
great ceremony—the chiefs standing to receive them.
Skins are given, as presents, to the officers; and, in
the course of a day or two, the trader returns the
compliment, by making them presents of British
manufactured clothing. 283
After the various tribes have finished their tradine
speculations; and paid their various visits of friendship to one another, and the officers; they launch
their canoes, laden with the return goods; striking
u p an. Indian voyage song with great glee.
The Indians inhabiting the vicinity of the fort
are tall, well proportioned, and more active and
cleanly than the southern tribes. The women are
about the same height as the Chinooks ; but much
more cleanly, particularly the young women—all of
them better clad; wearing, as before mentioned, a
loose gown. They have slaves, who do the principal
drudgery. These slaves, in barter, fetch a larger
price to the northward than they do to the south;
and are sold by the Nass tribe to the various inland
tribes, for furs. These furs they again sell to the
white traders for blankets, and other articles of use
or luxury.
Numbers of the young men among the northern
tribes speak broken English, picked up from the
various American vessels, that used to frequent
these parts, and from the company's servants.
Amongst these tribes are numbers of American
half-breeds, both men and women: some of the
flatter as fair as English females: some with light
hair, and some few with quite red hair. 284
The country surrounding the fort is high and
woody. The wood consists of pine, spruce, cedar,
and cypress. With various runs of water, coming
from the interior mountains. It abounds with deer,
duck, and geese: hallibut, salmon, and herring.
Berries, of all kinds, grow in abundance, which are
gathered by the women, and dried for winter
Their religion resembles that of the other tribes,
who think the sun is the great ambulatory spirit,
who makes his daily tour of inspection over the stationary earth; and that the moon is his subordinate
nocturnal watchman. On one occasion I explained
to a chief that it was the earth that moved round,
and not the sun. He said he always put faith in
what I had previously told him, but- never should
any more ; as I was only deceiving him.
They are very much afraid of the small pox,
which, in 1835, had made dreadful ravages amongst
them—more amongst the families of the chiefs, than
among the inferior classes; perhaps because these
did not lead so sedentary a life, and were not so
highly fed. Most of the men employed by the
company here take wives, principally from the Ton-
garse, and Kegarnie tribes; these being the most
cleanly of  all the Indians on the coast. 9,
Their dress resembles, for the most part, that of
the Nass women, but is of finer texture—the cloak
ornamented with pearl buttons—the stays outside
the gown, of scarlet cloth, so as to show off the
shape, similarly ornamented—silver rings through
the nose, and on the fingers—several bracelets on
the arms, and strings of braided silk depending
from the ears. Both men and women have a handsome and regular expression of countenance: in
complexion and contour resembling Europeans.
This may be averred of most of the natives in these
During the time the opposition was kept up between the company and the Americans on this coast,
this tribe, as well as the other northern ones, used
to designate the Americans by the name of Boston
fellow,—the British, as King George fellow.   And the
old chief of this tribe, named Neoccote, often told
me that he observed a small variation in phraseology,
and even in pronunciation, between the British and
Americans; which he used thus to express: "small
change 'em, speak 'em, king George fellow, Boston
fellow;" i. e., the Bostonians and British speak the
same language, but with a small change.
This old chief was very much  attached to  the
British, and gave, as a legacy to Mr. Ogden, two 286
beaver skins, stating, that when he died he wished a
eoffin to be made, and to be buried init after the British!';
fashion, and in their burying-ground near the fart^
by the side of Lieutenant Simpson—a gentleman who
was commander of the company's shipping in the
Oregon, and who was buried close to Fort Simpson;
But as I had left that part of the country before his
death, I did not hear whether his family allowed
him to be buried as he wished; or whether he was
placed in the woods amongst the dead remnants of
his tribe.
The  principal harbour of   Tongarse, which lies
within the Russian territory, is round like a bason,
with a sandy bottom;  the soundings frota eight to
twenty fathoms.     The land, for some distance, is
low, interspersed with the usual sorts of wood found
in these  latitudes.     The   interior is dotted   with
small plains and lakes.    The soil is good.    Deer,
salmon, with various  other   fish, as well as  wild
fowl,   abound   here.    This  harbour is said to   be
the best on this part of the coast whence to obtain
spars, and other wood, for shipping.    The Americans
as well as the British were prevented visiting these
harbours for trade, as the Russians began to cast a
jealous eye upon them, and set armed vessels in the
various ports, which they called their territory, for the protection of their trade. Therefore the company and Americans had to confine themselves
within the 54° of latitude.
The Kegarnie tribe, also in the Russian territory,
live on an immense island,  called North Island.
They resemble the Tongarse Indians, both men and
women, in appearance, dress, and customs.     The
country is rocky, and highly covered with pine and
spruce trees, and with a light pasture mould.    Fish,
;;seal, and berries  constitute   their  principal food,
Some of the Indians' teeth are actually worn down
close to their gums, from continually eating hard
dried salmon.    There is a chief of this tribe who is a
half-breed American, and   goes  by the  name   of
George Bennett; and is said to be a son of Captain
Bennett, who was, many years ago, in charge of a
vessel from Boston,  trading on  the coast.     This
young Bennett speaks English very well.    I asked
him if  he would not  like to  go to  America or
England ?    He answered  " no !" as he considered
we were -slaves-—even our chiefs—who were always
doing   something from necessity;  and as we were
always at work for a living.    " I have slaves," said
he, " who hunt for me—paddle me in my canoes,—
and my wives to attend upon me.    Why should I
wish to leave?" 288
Although the jealousy of the Russians prevents
the British entering their ports for trade, the Indians
prefer trading with the British; therefore they
travel for miles, with their large canoes laden with
furs, to Fort Simpson.
The Stikein tribe live much further north,
approaching the chief Russian settlement of Sitka,
at the top of Clarence's Straits, which run upwards of 100 miles inland. These Indians speak
the same tongue as the Tongarse, and are intermarried with them. Furs are numerous amongst
them, and of a good quality. It is a mountainous
country; some of the mountains continually covered
with snow, Here, as in other parts of the coast,
the wood consists, of pine, spruce, and cedar.
A little to the northward of this there is a tribe
called the Chilkasts. In their country great quantities of virgin copper are found. Some of it is worked
by the natives into a kind of shield, about two feet
and a half long, and one foot broad, with figures of
men and animals engraved upon it. The labour
and ingenuity expended in working one of these
shields, give them great value. One of them is
estimated as worth nine slaves ; and is transmitted
as a precious heir-loom from father to son.
Before leaving Fort Simpson, it may not be un- 289
interesting to give a sketch of a slight disturbance
which originated through one of the Indian women.
During the time a large body of Indians were encamped round the fort for trade, one of them, a
Port Stewart Indian, became jealous of his wife,
who was a Tongarse. In his jealous fit he beat his
wife most tremendously. Her sister, who saw this,
ran up with a clasp-knife in her hand—plunged it
in the man's mouth; and cut his cheek close up to
his ear. He would eventually have bled to death,
had not Dr. Kennedy, of the fort, attended him.
The woman fled. A regular feud was thus generated, and the friends of both parties prepared for
all the stratagems of barbarous revenge and warfare.
A fellow tribe-man, and particular friend of the
wounded man, lay day and night in wait for the
woman. This one of the woman's friends and relations discovered; and he, too, lay in wait for the
skulking assassin until he found him, and shot
him dead. These accumulated wrongs stopped all
avenues of peaceful negotiation; and war, to the
very pole of the battle axe, was declared between
the tribes. The Port Stewartites managed to come
upon part of the Tongarse tribe at night, near their
village, and killed several. The Tongarse Indians,
anxious then for peace, offered to make compensation, 290
with slaves and blankets, to the dead man's friends,
as well as for the " man injured in the mouth:" this
they readily accepted. But after this negotiation
the Port Stewart Indians swerved from their contract, and fitted out another war party to attack the
village. But some of the Tongarse tribe, being
in the wood, saw them, and roused the village. The
enemy, seeing this unexpected resistance, fled. But
the Tongarse Indians chased them, and, having
found thirty of them in a deep hole in the wood,
surrounded with rocks, commenced a deadly fire
upon them, and destroyed them as the Blackfeet
would a herd of buffalo. Thus terminated the war
at that time. But the Port Stewart tribe, when I
left the country, were filled with revenge, and only
waiting for their opportunity.
Their houses are of the same construction as those
of the Chinooks, but much larger. Their favourite
dish is seal, but they most frequently feed off dried
salmon and oil. The brown, black, and grey bear
are numerous in these northern parts; as are wolves,
which, during the winter months, come near the
fort, howling in hundreds, with their whelps, for
hours. The Indian dogs resemble the wolf very
much, having a sharp nose, and a long, bushy tail;
being a cross breed from the wolf they are famous dogs for running deer down in the woods, and are
often used by the Indians for that purpose—particularly in winter, when the snow is on the ground,
driving the deer from the woods on to the beach,
where the Indians lie in wait, and shoot them.
Their canoes are made from large trees, hollowed out,
resembling those of the Chinooks, but larger. Every
chief keeps an Indian on his establishment for
making and repairing canoes, and making masks for
his religious representations; this man they call their
carpenter. Their covering consists of blankets except on state occasions: then the chiefs have splendid
dresses of prepared elk skins, ornamented with porcupine quills, dyed in various colours produced from'
boiled roots.
Mr. Peter Skein Ogden was the man who established the first fort amongst these northern tribes—
who pitched his tent on a spot where white man
never did before and succeeded in bringing these
savages into contact with the white man's customs
—detached them from the profligacy of American
trading to the useftd and civilising intercourse with
British merchants. He is descended from a most
respectable and wealthy family in Montreal. He
was educated for the law; but preferred enlisting in
the North-west Company and passing his days in 292
the wilds of America; where he has been almost
from his youth. He is a man of great natural talent, humour, goodnature, and intelligence. He will
entertain a host of friends by his amusing anecdotes.
I should very much like to see issued from the
press the "Memoirs of the eccentric Peter Skein
Ogden," which would be amusing both to young
and old—learned and unlearned.
Queen Charlotte's Island is about 150 miles long.
The principal tribes upon it are the Sketigets, Massets,
and Comshewars.    These are numerous; and have
several half-breed Americans amongst them. They are
expert thieves; and will, if constant watch is not kept,
when visiting the vessels, draw bolts, staples, nails,
and other articles of iron, from the doors.    Lead is a
fancy article of  theirs;   sometimes they will endeavour to cut it off the stem of a vessel.    The only
thing that keeps these, as well as the other northern
tribes, in a little subjection, is the nine or twelve-
pound cannons staring them in the face.    A great
number of these   Indians   speak   broken English.
This island, as well as numerous other places, has
never been  examined;  but samples of lead have
been given by the Indians to some of the company's
servants.    There are various minerals found here;
but it would require a large party of men to examine 293
this island, as the Indians are treacherous and sly.
A soft kind of stone is found, resembling slate, which
the Indians make into pipes, ornamented with various figures cut upon them resembling men and
animals. From the flat file they make beautiful
fluted daggers; some eighteen inches long, as highly
finished as if they had been turned out of a first-rate
maker's hands in London. They likewise make
hats from white roots of trees, neatly platted together, made into any shape. Their dress is not very
dissimilar from that of the Tongarse tribe.
When a vessel visits these tribes, which is seldom,
as fur is rather scarce (particularly beaver), and as
land and sea otter, with a few small furs, are the
only skins they have, and these not plentiful, they
•will congregate, as near the vessel as possible, and
dance—throwiUg themselves into different postures,
and making all kinds of grimaces—haying their faces
highly painted; and down from the eagle completely covering their hair, with a kind of rattle in
their hand, and a musical instrument resembling the
tamburine. The dance is generally accompanied
with a song. Their houses are neatly constructed,
standing in a row; having large images, cut out of
Wood, resembling idols. The dwellings have all
painted fronts, shewing imitations of men and ani- 294
mais. Attached to their houses, most of them
have large potatoe gardens: this vegetable was firSt
given to them by an American captain; and is now
grown in abundance, and traded by them to the
vessels visiting their harbour, and to the traders
at Fort Simpson. I have known from five to eight
hundred, bushels being traded in one season, from )
these Indians, at Fort Simpson.
In the latter end of the year of 1834, the Hudson's
Bay Company lost, on Rose Point, at the entrance
of this harbour, a fine schooner, of about 100 tons,
commanded by Captain Duncan ; which drove upon
the sands, on her beam ends. As it was found impossible to float her, and as the natives, who congregated in multitudes around Mr. Heath, the chief
officer, and his men, while attempting to clear away
the sand from her, were armed, and showed every
disposition to pillage and murder, the crew quitted
the wreck, at night, in the boats, and pulled for
Fort Simpson. After several days of toil, and after
some of the crew were frost-bitten, they, with hearts
full of joy, reached the fort; not knowing, on their
journey, but that rounding every point of land they
might be cut off from a volley fired by the treacherous Indians. Captain Duncan thought some
other vessel might be at the fort; if so, he deter-  296
Relative claims of Great Britain and America to the Oregon
Territory considered.
This subject has been already much discussed. A
simple synopsis of the whole case may help to lead
any right-minded, and dispassionate person to a
just conclusion which of the contending claimants
has the best right.
It is universally allowed that the right of any
state to the jurisdiction over a new country rests on
three grounds: — 1st, prior discovery; 2nd, the
taking formal possession after discovery; 3rd, settlement ; this ground being strengthened if the formal
possession be continued by settlement. There is a
corollary often appended to these, i. e., contiguity
of territory.
Now I thirik it will appear, to any sober mind,
that, on each, and all of these grounds, the British
claim is unquestionable.     1st, As to discovery.    I 297
shall mention only the chief navigators and explorers, avoiding all questionable and unimportant
In 1777, before the Americans had any existence
as a nation, Cooke, the Englishman, carefully explored the coast, as far as the forty-eighth degree :
examined Nootka Sound; and then proceeded on
his tour of survey northward to the Arctic Ocean,
until he ascertained that the continents of Asia and
America were separated by a strait. This strait
Beehring subsequently passed, not knowing, as
Cooke did, its character and geographical relations.
However, most unjustly, the strait has been named
after Beehring.
In 1787, Berkeley, the well known English navi-
[ gator, explored the Strait of Fuca.
In the same year, Dixon, an Englishman, explored
Queen Charlotte's Island, calling it after his own
ship's name.
In 1788, Lieutenant Mears, R. N., who had long
been engaged in the British trade in China, and
was well conversant with the multitudinous branches
of the Pacific intersecting this part of the coast,
took an accurate survey of the Strait of Fuca and
Nootka Sound j taking formal possession of the cir-
cumiacent territory in his Britannic Majesty's name; 298
and established a factory, or trading post, at Nootka
In 1792, 1793, and 1794, the celebrated English
navigator Vancouver, being sent out by government,
explored, surveyed, and sounded the Strait of Fuca,
to the head of Puget's Sound, and every mile of all
the intricate windings of this coast. It may be said,
without exaggeration, that, in the world, there is
not to be found a more extensive and complex system
of internal navigation. The labyrinth of bays,
sounds, inlets, creeks, and harbours,—promontories,
islands, and land tongues, with the countless sinuosities of land and water, show it to be a perfect network.
In 1792, Broughton, Vancouver's lieutenant,
commanding another ship, explored the Columbia
River, as far as ,100 miles upwards, taking possession
(and in his sovereign's name) of the whole coast.
as British territory; and gave their present names
to several places.
In 1793, M'Kenzie was, in his inland explorations, nobly co-operating with Vancouver, in furthering the object of Great Britain. Perhaps, in
the whole history of inland discovery, there is nothing
to surpass M'Kenzie's amazing perseverance, courage,
and sagacity.    At a time when most of the north- BHBar"
west continent was totally unknown, and considered
impassable, from the dreariness of the country, the
destructive rigour of the climate, and the ferocity of
the natives, he, a humble officer in the Hudson's Bay
Company, conceived the daring project of traversing
the whole continent, from ocean to ocean ; and not
only conceived, but—executed it ! Having crossed
the Rocky Mountains—whose existence was not before ascertained by civilised men, he descended part
of the Tacoutche Tasse river and reached the Pacific,
in latitude 52° 3'.
The other early explorers were the Spaniards—
the principal of whom was Heceta. In 1775, he
discovered the Columbia. In a Spanish map, printed
a few years after, the mouth of the river is called
Entreda de Heceta, and Entreda di Assuncion;
and the river itself, Rio di San Roque: because he
explored the lower parts of it on the fifteenth and
sixteenth of August; which are the festivals of the
Assumption, and of St. Roch.
Now, as to the American discovery. Here is the
history of it, as given by Washington Irving; who
puts the very best face on the matter, for his countrymen : " Among the American ships which traded
along the north-west coast, in 1792, was the Columbia, Captain Gray, of Boston.    In the course of 300
her voyage, she discovered the mouth of a large
river, in latitude 46° 19' north. Entering it, with
some difficulty, on account of sand-bars, and breakers, she came to anchor in a spacious bay Captain Gray did not ascend the river farther than the
bay in questionj which still bears his name. After
putting to sea, he fell in with the celebrated discoverer, Vancouver, furnishing him with a chart, which
he made of the river. Vancouver visited the river >
and his lieutenant, Broughton, explored it by the
aid of Captain Gray's chart; ascending it upwards
of 100 miles, until within view of a snowy mountain,
to which he gave the name of Mount Hood, which
it still retains. The existence of this river was
known long before the visits of Gray and Vancouver;
but the information concerning it was vague and
indefinite; being gathered from the reports of Indians. It was spoken of, by travellers, as the Oregon, and as the great river of the west."
Here it may be observed—1st, that one of the
especial objects of Vancouver's mission was to explore
this river—which was well known to the English;
and which England, by previous treaty with Spain,
had as good a right to settle on, as she had on the
Thames, or Humber : the knowledge was not at all
vage, but definite enough.   Nor was this knowledge 301
gathered from the reports of the Indians, but from
the published accounts, and maps, of Heceta's
discovery .—2nd, that Gray was only a private speculating trader, dodging along that coast, bartering
for furs.—3rd, that he never passed farther up than
twelve miles, as he himself says.—4th, that his object was not to explore, or occupy.—5th, that he did
not explore; for he remained in the river not more
than ten days; and, during this time, was weatherbound in the bay, where he took refuge; and as to
his chart, Vancouver, with a quiet sneer, says, " it
was not much what it professed to be;" and as to
taking possession, this poor cc aster never did it, or
thought of it.
In 1805-6, after, not merely the existence of the
river, but its general course, and the adjacent localities, were well known to, and occupied by British
subjects, engaged in the fur trade, two American
citizens, Lewis and Clarke, who had travelled overland across the Rocky Mountains, nearly on the
parallel of the mouth of the Columbia, reached, by
means of the southern branch, the parts of it
already known. Their declared object was "to search
for a water communication for the purposes of commerce."
In  1811,  Thompson, a scientific member of the
1 302
Canadian North-west Company, explored and surveyed the whole; from its source along its northern, which is its principal, branch, to its mouth.
When Mears, in 1788, established his factory in
Nootka Sound, and laid the foundation of a very
extensive British trade along the coast, Spain, having many previous causes of jealousy against Great
Britain, took this opportunity of evincing a hostile
spirit; and despatched Admiral Martinez to seize on
the property of the settlers, and dispossess them.
The British government took fire—demanded, and
received satisfaction for this invasion of British
rights, in a country to which Great Britain averred
she had as strong a claim as Spain: and, in truth,
a stronger claim, so far as exploration and possession
went. The consequence was, that a treaty—known
as "the Convention of the Escurial," was signed
between the two parties, in 1790 : the principal provisions of- which were—that the subjects of either
state should not be molested in fishing, or in landing
for the purposes of trading with the natives, or of
establishing settlements, in places not already occupied. And, by the fifth clause, it was agreed, that
"the subjects of either state should have free access
to the settlements then made, or thereafter to be
made by the other."    This treaty, which was laid be- iii nWid'Wi1 iwyvwityrftofi
fore parliament by Mr. Pitt, was censured, as limiting
the British right of settlement. The fifth clause
was the special subject for attack by the opposition;
who contended that, under it, a British settlement
was liable to interruption and invasion every moment, at the caprice, or interest of the adverse
party. Mr. Grey (the present Earl Grey) said, " In
every place in which we might settle, access was
left for the Spaniards, Where we may form a settlement on one bill, they may erect a fort on another.
A British merchant must run all the risk of discovery,
and all the expenses of establishment, for a property
which was liable to be the subject of continual dispute, and which could never be placed on a permanent and stable footing." Had this -sagacious
statesman foreseen the present state of the Oregon
question he could not have spoken more correctly;
and, if we substitute Americans for Spaniards, bis
description will hold good.
Now, let it be recollected, that by this convention,
in 1790, the rights of. Spain and Great Britain became perfectly equalised ; and all differences, as to
priority of discovery and right of colonisation, were
completely settled. Be it observed, that no other state
had, or ever pretended to have, any right whatever
to possession in those countries.     The discoveries, 304
made by Russia in the more northern latitudes cannot be made an exception, because they never did,
nor could interfere with the terms of the convention.
Great Britain, then, stands merely on her primitive rights of discovery, of possession, and settlement.
And those rights she has, without one hint of concession, maintained up to the present hour. Since
1790 she has made no new claim of settlement; and
for the best reason, because her claim was as strong
as justice could make it.
In 1807, the pretensions of the Americans to the
Oregon became the subject of diplomacy between
the two governments. But nothing definite was
done. In 1814, pending the treaty of Ghent, the
subject was renewed; and it was then agreed on
that " the places seized on by either party should be
restored." Now nothing was to be restored but
the bare walls of Astoria (the American settlement
before described), for the proprietor had already sold
his effects to the British North-west Company.
This shell of an insignificant fort they never after-
terwards occupied. In 1818 the subject was renewed.
And then it was agreed, that the country west of
the Rocky Mountains should be open to both powers
for ten years, without prejudice to their respective
claim.    In 1827 the former covenant was confirmed, iifflatTOMa
with the additional stipulation, that either party was
at liberty to annul it, on giving the other twelve
months' notice.
In a few months after the treaty of 1818, the
Federal government concluded a treaty with Spahv
called the "Florida Treaty;" by which Spain ceded
to these States all her claims and pretensions to territory north of the forty-second degree of latitude,
by a line drawn from the sources of the Arkansas to
the Pacific.
It is on this cession of territorial right on the part
of Spain that America partly rests her sole right to
the territory of Oregon. But this assertion of right
is, on the very face of it, absurd and untenable.
Spain could not transfer what she did not then
possess. Spain never had exclusive possession of the
country; and even if she had, she surrendered it,
by " the convention of the Escurial," in 1790. After
that she had no more than a right of joint occupancy
with Great Britain. But they assume another
ground of right, i. e., the discovery of the Columbia
by Gray. This ground is as untenable as the other;
and almost inconsistent with it. If the American
right be sufficiently strong (as it is not) when
founded on the cession by Spain, why resort to
another ground ?—the priority of discovery, settle-
ft-  VJ
f/               1
IB 306
ment, &c. Now, this alleged discovery did not take
place till two years after the treaty of 1790. And
for twenty-six years after this alleged discovery they
did not set up such a claim of exclusive right. For
they only contended, in 1814 and 1818, that their
claim was as good as that of Great Britain. Besides, Gray was not the discoverer of the river.
After the government of the United States had
concluded the Florida treaty with Spain, it entirely
altered its tone with respect to the Oregon country;
and when the negotiations were next renewed, in
1827, between it and the government of Great
Britain, it pushed its pretensions to the boldest
lengths. It then claimed, through its plenipotentiary
—Mr. Gallatin, from the 42nd to the 49th degree of
latitude, without reserve.
With respect to the discovery of the Columbia, it
has been already shown, that the first discoverer was
nptGray, but Heceta; and that the first explorer
was not Gray, but Broughton.
As to the surrender of all the rights of Spain to
America by the Florida treaty, the plain answer is,
that Spain only did, and only could, surrender what
she herself enjoyed after the convention of 1790, i.e.,
the right of joint trading and occupancy with Great
Britain.     An exclusive right she never had.    And BBSMBSSS?:-
though a war broke out between the two countries
subsequently to 1790; yet in the treaty of peace,
afterwards signed, Spain did not rescind, or even
propose to rescind, the covenant of 1790, which was
of a fixed and permanent character.
As to the surrender of Astoria; it ought to be
noticed, that the Americans showed some " sharp
practice." All the property of Astoria was sold to
the North-west Company, by its proprietor, who
anticipated the coming storm; and sold before the
formal seizure of the fort by Captain Black, of the
British war sloop, the Racoon. The treaty stipulated
that "all the possessions taken by either party,
during or after the war, should be restored."
Strictly speaking, there was nothing, except a denuded post, to be restored to the Americans; for
there was no property lost. The fort was, however,
restored: but it has not since been occupied by the
Americans; which shows their surrender of the
ground of occupancy. It is now used by the Hudson's Bay Company.
Lord Castlereagh, writing on the 4th of February, 1818, on this subject, to the British Minister at Washington, says, "In signifying to Mr.
Adams the full acquiescence of your government
in the re-occupation of  the   limited position (i. e. 308
Astoria) which the United States held in that
rivCr (the Columbia) at the breaking out of the
war, you will, at the same time, assert the claim
of Great Britain to that territory, upon which the
American settlement must be considered as an encroachment." He also says, that the British government " are not prepared to admit the validity of the
title of the United States to this settlement." Lord
Bathurst, in his despatch to the Isorth-west Company on this subject, says, "without, however, admitting the right of that government (the United
States government) to the possession in question."
Could language more pointedly convey the opinion
of the British government, that the Americans had
not a shadow of title to the country, than these
despatches ? The simple truth is, that it was not
thought worth while to keep up a contention about
a paltry post. It was surrendered. But the surrender was accompanied by many protests, that it
should not be tortured into any recognition of a
right of occupation on the part of America. On the
contrary, the settlement was declared to be an encroachment on British rights, in despatches publicly
addressed by British ministers to public servants,
and public companies.
As to contiguity of territory.—The American ter- &flati*m«r?ayf?Tffir}^Ep
ritory is not more contiguous to the Oregon than
the British is. In fact, it is less contiguous; for the
undisputed possessions of Great Britain in North
America are absolutely dovetailed into that country;
so much so, that if, by any fatuity or criminality of
British statesmanship, the country were to be surrendered to the avarice of the Americans, it would
be almost impossible to strike a line of boundary.
But the case is very different as to the frontiers of
the United States. There nature has erected a wide
and lofty barrier. After you pass the western limits
of the States, there is, for many weeks' journey,
a vast arid wilderness, yielding no sustenance for
even wild man, or wild beast. Then, after that,
there rises to the clouds, and above them, the appalling range of the Rocky Mountains; towering,
sometimes, to the height of 18,000 feet, capped
with eternal snow. Then again, these being
crossed, the traveller has to pass over hundreds of
miles, through crags, defiles, and deserts, before he
approaches the valley of Columbia. This is contiguity of territory! In the same way may the
Pacha of Egypt claim the land of the Niger as an
appendage to the land of the Nile.
The object of the Americans is to have the dominion of the whole continent, from the Atlantic to 310
the Pacific; and to exclude all Europeans, especially
British   subjects,  from all habitation there.    This
they do not disguise:   indeed, they are every day
growing bolder,  and more exclusive in their tone.
The 49th degree of latitude was the extremest northern limit that the Americans ever set, formerly (even
in 1827), to their claim, in their boldest assumption of
right. But now they have transcended all their former
pretensions by many degrees :  for they claim as far
north  as the 54th degree !    The President, in his
formal message to Congress, on the 5th of December,
1842, says,—"The United States have always contended that their rights appertained to the whole
region of country lying on the Pacific, and embraced
within 42° and 54° 40'  of north latitude."
Commentary on so false and monstrous an assertion
as this is thoroughly use less. If concession be made
to this claim, they will, by-and-bye, claim as far as the
pole. In a word, nothing will satisfy them, short
of the extinction of British power and influence
throughout the northern Continent of America.
And it only remains for the British government, and
the British people, to consider whether they will
tolerate this. •iS^iR'^wr^g^SS^^a^
probationary rites.
The Flat-heads are, comparatively, very fair in complexion, and remarkably well made and active; with
oval faces, and a mild, and playful expression of counte -
nance, They are described, by those who have the best
opportunities of knowing them collectively, as well as
individually, as moral and honest in all their dealings
—brave in the field—amenable to their chiefs—fond
of cleanliness, and decided enemies to theft and
falsehood of every description, They are also free
from backbiting and laziness, which are so common
among other tribes. The women are dutiful and
affectionate wives and mothers ; and conjugal infidelity is scarcely known amongst them. The dress
of the men and women resembles that of other
tribes living in rude comfort.
The principal chief of the tribe is hereditary; but,
from their  constant wars, they have   adopted  the 312
salutary custom of electing, as their leader in battle,
that warrior in whom is combined the greatest portion of wisdom, strength, and bravery.    The election
takes place annually;   and, after the expiration of
his period of military chieftainship, the leader sinks
into his original position, unless he be re-elected.
When at home this leader has no authority whatever ; but is as equally subject as any other warrior
to the power of the hereditary chief.   But when the
warriors set out on their hunting excursions to the
plains, he assumes the chief command, which he exercises with absolute sway till their return.     On
their advance towards an enemy he always takes the
lead; and on their return, or retreat, he brings up
the rear.    His post is the one of the greatest danger,
as well as of responsibility and power.    He carries
a long whip with a thick handle, which is decorated
with scalps, of those whom he himself slew, and with
feathers; and he generally appoints two active warriors as his subalterns, or aides-de-camp.  Great regularity is observed during the march; and if any warrior fall out of the ranks, or be guilty of any breach
of discipline, he always acts with strict justice and
impartiality; and punishes one of his own officers,
if guilty of any disobedience or irregularity," with as
much severity as any other offender.    Hence, as well BSSB
as from a sense of public expediency and duty, his
authority is patiently obeyed. After the conclusion
of the campaign, and on their arriving at their own
home, the hereditary chief convenes a public meeting; and they proceed to a new election. There is
no canvassing or intriguing ; and if the last leader
be superseded, he submits without a murmur.
They rarely marry out of their own nation; and
will not easily  consent that any of  their women
should become  the wife of a white man.     Their
marriages are contracted only with the consent of
the bride's parents or natural guardians, to whom
presents are made   by  the bridegroom.     He, too,
in return, receives presents.    This custom prevails
among most of the tribes west of the Rocky Mountains.     On the marriage day there is a  meeting
of mutual friends at the lodge of the bride's father,
or next relation, who acts as her guardian;   and
they smoke the pipe of peace and friendship.    Here
the bride receives a lecture as to her future duties
as a wife and mother.    She is exhorted to be chaste,
discreet, industrious, and silent; and when absent,
with her husband,  among other tribes, always to
stay at home, and have no intercourse with strange
Indians.    She then retires with the old women to
an adjoining but, where she undergoes ablution; and 314
is decked out in her bridal finery. She is then led
back to her father's or guardian's lodge—is complimented, and receives another lecture of advice.
After this a procession is formed to conduct the
couple to their own lodge: the men, conducting
the bridegroom, move on first, bearing flambeaux
of cedar, in a slow and solemn pace, singing war
songs in praise of the bridegroom's bravery, and of
their own victories over their enemies — especially
the Black-feet. The bride follows at a short distance,
surrounded by a group of women, old and young;
some of whom are rejoicing at the prospect of happiness before her; others—especially her young companions—crying, at the prospect of losing her unrestrained society thenceforward. When the whole
party arrive at the door of the young couple's lodge,
they form a circle^ and commence dancing and singing for about twenty minutes. After this, the
pipe of peace goes round; the company offer many
prayers for the future welfare of the bridal pair;
and depart.
The country of the Flat-heads presents a pleasing
diversity of woods and plains—valleys and mountains
---lakes and rivers; and is well stocked with deer,
mountain sheep, beavers, otters, martens, wolves,
lynxes, &e, wild fowl and fish, besides esculent roots;
-A.-^^jq-^.^^ii-^ rssmm
so that they have abundant means of subsistence and
clothing; and of traffic as well.
The Flat-heads are polite and unobtrusive. When
one speaks, the rest pay attention; and every one
very quietly gives his reasons for assenting, or dissenting, from any proposition. Even the children
are more peaceable than other children; and though
hundreds of them may be seen together at play,
there is no quarrelling among them.
There is among them a strong devotional feeling,
which is much encouraged by the Hudson's Bay Company. Sunday is inviolably kept sacred by them. They
will not raise their camp on that day; neither will they
hunt, fish, trade, or perform any kind of labour, except
in cases of extreme danger on that day : they also
spend a part of it in prayer and religious ceremonies.
The chief, who is at the same time, generally, priest,
assembles the community, and commences a form
of prayer,  in which they all join in an occasional
chaunt, or chorus.    He then exhorts them to good
conduct—to be diligent in providing for their families—to abstain from lying and stealing—to avoid
quarrelling or cheating in their play ; and to be just
and hospitable to all strangers.    During this time
of worship all business in the camp is suspended :
and if an Indian is riding by, he dismounts; holds 316
his horse, and attends with devotion till all is over.
At the conclusion, the priest says, " I have done;"
to which they all respond aloud. They have also
their prayers on week days, in the morning or
evening. Sometimes on an evening the chief, or
priest, delivers these prayers and exhortations on
horseback, moving slowly about the camp.
This devotional feeling, and respect for morality,
prevails among the Nez Perces also, and other
tribes in the midland region. And it may be
affirmed, that there are many leading points of
similarity between the Flat-heads and these tribes.
They afford an ample and excellent field for
the labours of zealous and judicious missionaries;
who would have but little difficulty in converting
them to Christianity—the morality and benevolence
of which they already, to some extent, practise ; and
for the reception of which they are already, in a
great measure, prepared. But then the missionaries
should be men who would enforce the truth and
usefulness of their preaching by the purity of their
lives; for as they themselves generally practise what
their preachers inculcate, they would at once keenly
notice any discrepancy between doctrine and conduct.
They believe in the existence of a good and evil
"' 31',
spirit; and in a future state of rewards and punishments. They believe that after death the good will
go to a country where there is perpetual summer;
and delightful rivers and plains, abounding in fish,
buffalo, and all kinds of game—that they will there
meet their parents, wives, children, and other relations and friends—and will there spend their time in
hunting, fishing, and amusement; free from the
terrors of war, or the apprehensions of cold, or
famine. But the bad, they believe, will be consigned
to regions of eternal snow; where they will be
shivering with cold, and sinking with thirst and
hunger—beholding, at a distance, fires, which they
cannot approach—^water, which they cannot touch—
and herds of deer and buffalo, which they cannot
kill: in a word, Tantalised with the sight of all the
good things of life, which they must not use. They
think the boundary between the dreary Tartarus
occupied by the wicked, and the Elysian fields of the
good, is a jungle full of panthers, wolves, and all
other noxious and dangerous animals. However,
they imagine that this place of punishment is rather
a purgatory than a hell; and that according to the
different degrees of the crimes of the wicked, they
will sooner or later be emancipated ; and when thjg£. 318
offences are expiated, be permitted to join their former friends, in the happy regions of the good.
Their code of morality is very simple, and comprehensive. They say that honesty—bravery—truth
—dutiful submission to their parents—obedience to
their chiefs—and affection for their wives, children,
and families, are the virtues which entitle them to
a place of happiness hereafter; whereas the opposite
vices condemn them to a place of misery.
They have also some idea of a fallen state. They
have a traditionary belief that beavers are a fallen
race of Indians; who disobliged the good spirit,
and were therefore condemned to their present shape
i—but that in due time they will be restored to their
humanity. They allege that beavers have certain
powers of speech; and that they have heard them
talk with each other—holding council; and sentencing offending members to punishment. These notions about beavers are held by several other Indian
The Black-feet are a numerous tribe, and the best
looking of all the American Indians; who roam far
and wide on both sides of the Rocky Mountains, and
are generally represented by natives and American
traders, as the sworn foes alike of white men and
red.    But though they are, unquestionably, a fierce ■rnn «rm
race, yet I have spoken to many free hunters
and trappers, as fierce and unscrupulous as themselves—men who would find no interest in undervaluing the perils of their own pursuit, and would
not be disposed to soften down the character of
these Indians—men who knew the Black-feet well;
and I have heard from them that they were not
devils so black as they were painted. They obtained
the character of ferocity; and they were therefore
considered as fair human game, to be hunted down
by the surrounding nations, whom they used to conquer in war; and by the Americans, against whose
encroachments on Indian freedom and territory, they
offered, and offer still, the most formidable stand.
They are an austere and haughty race — occupy,
generally, countries (as they spread their predatory
and migratory rovings over a vast expanse, which
abounds in all the means of subsistence) which bring
them on the American confines, and which are worth
preserving. They have, they say, heard of the Americans ; who preached liberty, and proved it by shaking
off the dominion of foreigners ; but have shown how
false are their pretensions and their professions of
general freedom, when the first use they have made
of the establishment of their own independence, even
in a strange land, was  to rob those whose inde- 320
pendence in their own native land was never disputed since they were created by the Great Spirit.
They say, too, that these white men did not come to
them originally in a candid guise—either as friends
or enemies; but that, contrary to all the notions
they entertained of truth and valour, they came
to them as treacherous liars. They smoked with
them the pipe of peace and fidelity—broke that
pledge—-and then hunted the red men, like wolves,
from the plains and hills that were granted to their
fathers from all time. These white men pretended to
give them the great blessings which their own spirit
gave them; but in place of this they gave them—
not more meat, nor more fruits, nor more bread
from roots, nor a better mode of making arrows, nor
softer beds—but burning water (spirituous liquors)
which the Bad Spirit made; and which made them
mad; and not friends, but enemies, to each other.
They also say, that these white men who come from
the direction of the rising sun, (the United States
Americans,) have endeavoured to make them enemies
to the other white men, who come from other quarters. These, and a thousand other justifications
for their hostility to the white men, especially the
Americans, I have heard from those who have had
opportunities of familiar converse with them. S&f
Independently of. these abstract reasons for their
: dislike of the citizen white men, as the wanton
destroyers of the whole red race, the conduct of
the individual specimens of the American character
who creep in among them, would almost justify
their antipathy.
A   well-principled   and  high-minded   American
writer—Mr. Townsend, who made a journey through
these   regions   with    an    American   party,   says,
"This hostility is  kept alive from   year   to  year
by   incessant   provocations   on    the   part   of   the
white hunters   and  traders, who are at best but
intruders   on  the   rightful   domains   of   the  red
men of the wilderness.    Many a night have I sat
at   the fire-side,  and listened    to   the   recital of
bloody and ferocious scenes, in which the narrators
were the actors, and the poor Indians the victims.
And I have felt my blood boil with indignation, to
hear the diabolical acts applauded by those for whose
amusement they were narrated:" {i. e., the company
of the American free citizens who accompanied him
in his route overland through the Rocky Mountains
to the Columbia,  or Oregon territory.)    " Many a
merciless marauder was made by these midnight
tales of rapine and murder—many a stripling, in
whose tender mind the seeds of virtue and honesty 322
had never yet germinated, burned for an opportunity
of loading his pack-horse with the beaver-skins of
some solitary Black-foot trapper;   who was  to be
murdered, and despoiled of the property he had acquired by months of toil and danger."    The writer
proceeds to point out a darker feature in the character of his countrymen—"those   noble   freemen
(to use the words of a member of Congress) who
are the pioneers to prepare the road of civilisation,
of Christianity, and of our institutions, to our territories on the banks of the Columbia." (!)—Says Mr.
Townsend, in continuation of this subject, " Acts of
this kind are by no means uncommon:   and the
subjects of this sort of atrocity are not always the I
poor Indians.     White men themselves  often fall   •
by the hands of their companions, when by good fortune and industry they have succeeded in loading
their horses with  fur!    The fortunate trapper is
treacherously murdered by one who has eaten from
the same dish, and drank from the same cup with
him: and the assassin triumphantly returns to the |
camp with his ill-gotten property.    If his companion I
be inquired for, the answer is, that some days agoj
they parted company: and he will probably soon join.i
 But he is soon forgotten; or perhaps only re-|
membered by one, more steadfast than the rest, who
f 323
seizes with avidity the first opportunity of murdering
an unoffending Indian in revenge for the death of
his friend."
The ferocity of the Black-feet towards the white
man has, however, latterly been much mitigated by
intercourse with the traders and out-trapping parties
of the company. These act towards them with
uniform civility, liberality, and justice; and go
openly, and with known authority; and also under
responsibility to the company: not in the sneaking,
thieving, bullying, and plundering character of the
Americans; who can give little, and are disposed to
give less, in the way of trade, but cheat and plunder
as much as they can, and are not under any controul.
Mr. Townsend, speaking of a trapping party in the
service of the company, and under the command of
Mr. M'Kay, consisting of thirty men, Indians,
French Canadians, and half-breeds, observes, " I admire the order, decorum, and strict subordination
which exists among his men, so different from what
I have been accustomed to see in parties composed of
American? steady, determined perseverance,
and bold measures, aided by a rigid self-example,
made them as clay in his hand, and has finally re-
rfluced them to their present admirable condition,"
The Black-feet appreciate this mode of dealing, and 324
intercourse, and in general reciprocate fairly enough,
considering the short duration of time in which they
have been brought to even a remote knowledge of
principle of fair dealing or humanity existing among
the whites. In their own peculiar districts they will
deal peaceably with the servants of the company;
but when they go abroad on " war parties," or predatory excursions, they do not conceive themselves
bound by any duty to act very scrupulously; and
they will slay, or plunder, or trade, as their feelings
or interest may lead them.
| The Snakes, and other tribes, do the same. They
think that, when confined within their own country,
and when therefore in a state of peace, they are responsible for all their actions, and must eschew all
outrage; and their country and nation are free from
all imputation. But when they roam abroad into
other countries, in their marauding expeditions,
then they imagine that their own outrages must be
considered as the legitimate duties of their calling
and their necessities; and that any misdeeds of theirs
ought to be saddled on the proper occupants of the
invaded country. If a white man, for instance, is
slain by the Black-feet in the. Snake country, they
will justify themselves by the argument that he was
an enemy;   else why would the Snakes have him 325
there ?   The Snakes, in a similar case, would make
the same plea.
The Snake  Indians, who embrace  many tribes,
inhabit a wide extent of country at the head of
Snake River, above and below Fort  Hall, and the
vicinity of Great Bear River, and Great Salt Lake.
They are a migratory race; and generally occupy the
south-eastern portion of the Oregon.    Horses and
dogs are their only domestic animals.    Their clothing
does not differ much from that of other inland Indians.    The hair, which,  like that of the  Blackfeet grows to an extraordinary length, is the only
covering  for  the head;   in general  it is  braided
and twisted round the head;   and, thus managed,
forms  a strong   protection,  not  only against  the
weather,   but   against   an   offensive   weapon — far
better than cap or helmet.     The females, for the
most part, wear it hanging down the back in queus.
Their lodges are of a conical shape, covered with
skins.    Their weapons are bows, arrows, and guns.
Their general  stock in trade consists of horses, the
skins of  deer, elks, buffaloes, beavers, otters, and
fish.    They   are represented,  by most persons, as
pacific   and    hospitable;    especially   those    races
within, or bordering   on,   the   Rocky Mountains.
Thev have obtained credit from travellers and traders r/*/..«l
I Hi
M  !
for hospitality, and honesty in all their dealings,
and for possessing high notions of morality and self-
restraint. Knowing the dangerous and degrading
consequences of the use of spirituous liquors, they
refrain from them; saying, that, though exciting
for the moment, they eventually enfeeble them, and
render them unfit for the purposes of hunting, and
of defending themselves against their enemies—they
make them quarrelsome to their wives and children,
to whom they are bound to be kind; and induce
them to fight amongst themselves, when they ought
all to be united against the common enemy ; and
that their use reduces the bravest and most crafty
chief to the   condition of the lowest Indian.
Though this general picture, given by some travellers and writers, holds good in the lhain, of the various tribes classed under the head of Snake Indians,
and holds especially so in the fertile countries verging on the confines of the territories of the United
States, and in those bordering on that of their
enemies, yet there are many sad drawbacks ; as in
the barren lands, within the Oregon territory, west
of the Rocky Mountains, many of the tribes who
live on fish are filthy in the extreme—ill clad, and
selfish. Of the Kagouse, and Perces, who five farther
west, in a better soil and under a more genial climate
k»- secssa
and who have closer intercourse with the traders,
such a picture holds better still. The Perces are,
in general, a very good looking race, both men and
women. But, of all the inland races, the Flat-heads
hold the first rank, in point of intelligence and civilisation, and social intercourse with the whites, and
personal comforts.
Among the many singular narratives of his own
adventures, and of the customs and superstitions of
the remote inland tribes, narrated by Mr. Peter Skein
Ogden, one of the chief factors, he mentions the following : Among many of the warlike tribes of
the Rocky Mountains there exists a remarkable
custom of initiatory probation for the young men,
in the arts of pillage and war. When arrived at
the age judged fit for bearing arms, and being useful to the tribe, they assemble in bands, to the
number of thirty or fifty, according to circumstances,
in the spring; and taking formal leave of their relations and friends, depart to some secret place in
the woodlands. There they erect a tent, with a
number of poles, about thirty feet long each, planted
in a circle in the ground, and brought to a point
at the top. This they cover closely with boughs
and leaves, so as to render the interior quite impenetrable to human observation from the outside. 328
The entrance is by a closely-wattled door, equally
impervious to human vision. This they make their
temple. Inside, from the top of the conical roof,
they hang a fresh buffalo-hide; and below it, round
the sides, camp-kettles, and blankets; and some
arms, as the necessary accompaniments in their
expeditions—scalps, the emblems of victory—and the
skin of a white buffalo, (a most rare and precious
animal,)—as offerings to the Great Spirit. Then
they commence the ceremony of invoking the aid
of this spirit; and consecrating themselves to their
future pursuits, and the general interest of their
tribe. Their principal ceremonial is the smoking of
the mystic pipe. The person appointed as priest
first uses the pipe—exhaling the vapour through his
nostrils—then touches the ground, and afterwards
his limbs, with'the lower part of the bowl, and hands
the pipe round on the right hand, to the rest, who
do the same. This rite ended, they offer a solemn
supplication to the Great Spirit for success; and
make a solemn vow, that if the evil one do not
enter and enfeeble them, they will never again return
to their relatives and tribe, except in garments
stained with the blood of their enemies. After
this, they dance to the music of a war chaunt, until
they become exhausted.    They spend three days and 329
nights in the performance of these rites, without
eating or drinking. From the languor of body, and
the high excitement of the imagination, produced
during this time, their sleep must be broken, and
visited with visions adapted to their views. They
therefore imagine that the spirits of the brave dead,
allowed to descend by the Great Spirit, visit them,
and direct them in their future course of operations.
On the morning of the fourth day, at dawn, they
sally forth from their temple; each separately, and
by a different route, to some distant Spot which they
had previously agreed on as a rendezvous; where
they are to concert their future schemes of operation.
After they quit the temple, hungry, and feeble, they
must provide, every man for himself, until they meet.
If they are unable to fulfil the terms of their vow
during the first season, from lack of an enemy, on
whom to flesh their maiden weapons, they retire to
winter-quarters to wait their opportunity. If no
human game is on foot, they are obliged to resort to
some ingenious mode of keeping the vow; for the
quicker their return home the higher their reputation. A solitary trapper, well known to the tribe to
which a band of these disappointed noviciates belonged, once dropped in their way. They gave him
hospitable cheer.    But he soon discovered that they 330
began angrily to debate among themselves as to the
propriety of shedding his blood. One party contended, that, though he was the acquaintance of
their fathers, yet he was a white man, and all white
men were their natural enemies; and that though
he ate with them, he did not give them hospitality ;
and besides, that, when they were disappointed in
the wilderness, he was thrown in their way by the
Great Spirit, in order to enable them to fulfil the
the terms of their vow, and return to their homes
and friends. Against this, it was maintained that
the white men were not of necessity their natural
enemies, for some of them did them good service;—
that as this man was called brother, and friend by
their fathers, he ought to be so considered in reality;
—that, as they invited him to eat, they pledged
themselves to the same friendship towards him as
was shown by their fathers;—that thus to lure him
to destruction, was not the act of brave men, who
expected reward from the Great Spirit, or approbation from their fathers;—that if he were at all
thrown in their way by any supernatural agency, it
was by that of the Evil one, who wished to tempt
them, by a cowardly and dishonourable act, to exasperate the Great and Good Spirit in slaying a
friend and brother.   A compromise was at last ef- 331
fected between the parties, by taking his blood without taking his life. A sharp flint lancet was applied
to his veins, which gave blood enough to dye their
garments: and thus they returned home with their
vow fulfilled, at least to the letter; and the trapper
returned to the mountains.
These temples are held sacred and inviolable.
They are suffered to remain, with all their valuable
offerings untouched, as memorials of piety; and it is
death for any one to take from them a single article.
Within the Colorado and the Great Salt Lake,
there dwells a tribe which is one of the most
degraded of the whole human race, physically
and mentally — the Piutes. They are entirely
naked—men and women: and their only food
is lizards, "snails, and wild roots. When the
snow falls heavily, and these means of subsistence
fail them, for they are utterly improvident, they
burrow holes in the sides of the sandhills, and
there vegetate in a state of somnolent torpor till the
opening of the season. Then they crawl abroad,
"anatomies of death," to eke out their wretched
living; and, until they acquire sufficient strength
to forage at large,  eat grass on their hands and knees like beasts. The trappers say that, after
a severe season, the ground about their caverns may
be seen covered with the bodies of famished dead,
Their only weapons are clubs, and in the use of even
these they are unskilful. 333
Fort Hall—Trappers—Buffalo—Shooting the rapids—Passage
from the United States across the Rocky Mountains.
- Foet Hall, one of the remotest stations, situated in
the third section, on the south-east, near the Rocky
Mountains, was built in 1832, by Captain Wyeth, an
American, who first tried the speculation of a salmon
fishery at the lower parts of the Columbia, and failed;
he then tried a fur-trading speculation, and also failed,
fr6m want of skill, or capital, or liberality of dealing.
The company purchased this post from him on
liberal terms; and the purchase to him was almost
equivalent to a gratuity; as he had no means of
otherwise disposing of his stock, and receiving any
remuneration for his outlay. At this station, which
commands a wide range of trading operations,
. clothing of every kind, provisions, and ammunition
are supplied to the Indians and the free traders; as
are also horses, accoutrements, and other necessaries; m
for that wild and desolate country. So liberal is the
company, and so strong is the mutual confidence between the parties, that the horses are given as a
loan; and the other articles are sold on credit, and
at a moderate charge, to be paid for when the
skins are brought in, at the proper season; no security being given or required, except the honour of
the recipients of the favours. So that if the hunters fail, from death, casualty, or dishonesty, to fulfil
their share of the contract, the company have no
remedy. The company, even in this way—on credit,
sell their goods at one half of what the Americans
charge; and pay much higher for the goods received
than the Americans. This liberality of treatment;
and the uniform justice of the company, are so
strongly contrasted with the conduct of the American merchants that (to use the words of Mr. Farnham, who wasr hospitably entertained there after
crossing the mountains), " Even the American trappers are fast leaving the service of their countrymen,
for the larger profits,-and better treatment, of British
employment." There is also a company of men
connected with this fort, under the command of an
American mountaineer, who, following various tribes
in their migratory expeditions, in the adjacent
Mexican and American domain, collect whatever fur
» MBtmaawa
may chance to be among them. By these means,
and various others subsidiary to them, the gentleman
in charge of the establishment collected, in the summer of 1839, more than thirty packs of the best
beaver of the mountains.
Many stories are told at the fort of the strange
adventures, and " hair breadth 'scapes" of the free
mounted trappers.    But it may be worth while to
mention one, which   Richardson, a Kentuckyman,
long known to the servants of the company as one of
the most astute and dare-devil traders of the mountains, used to tell.     It is his boast that he never
carries provisions on the   most dreary and distant
journeys.    His good horse, his trusty rifle, his pistols,
and his knife; his steel flint, his traps, a coil of cord,
and wallet, are his only accompaniments; and his
only trust in Providence.    Furnished with these, I
have heard him say, he fears nothing,   over river,
or frozen lake, or mountain, or barren plain.    Sometimes he attaches himself to a party; and sometimes
forages and hunts alone.   He was once out alone hunting buffaloes, and at the close of day was returning to
his tent, when he heard a clattering of hoofs behind
him: and,  upon looking back,   he observed three
Black-feet Indians, well mounted, in hot pursuit of
him.    He immediately threw off his cargo of meat, „#-
to lighten his horse; and then urged onwards the
animal to his utmost speed, in hopes to outstrip his
pursuers, But he discovered that the enemy was
gaining rapidly upon him, and would soon have him
at their mercy. He then adopted an expedient as
singularly ingenious as it it was desperately bold.
Drawing his long scalping knife, he plunged it into
his horse's neck, and at once severed the spine. The
animal dropped instantly dead; and the determined
hunter, throwing himself behind the fallen carcass,
prepared to meet his pursuers. In a moment one
of the Indians came within range of his rifle, and
was shot through the heart. The other two, seeing
the fate of their companion, halted for a moment,
and then prepared to surround their enemy. But
just as the first man had sent his ball whistfing by
the ear of Richardson, he himself dropped from his
horse, by a ball from one of Richardson's long pistols.
The third, seeing this rather dangerous game to
play, whipped his horse, and was soon out of sight.
Richardson had then only to gather the fruits of
his victory. He caught the two Indians' horses—
mounted one—loaded the other with the discharged
cargo of meat; and returned home with two spare
rifles, and a good stock of ammunition.
The Indian wives of the company's trappers can 331;
frequently hunt as well as their husbands—kill the
elk and buffalo—trap the beaver, and use the rifle.
Living so much in the open air, and leading so
active a fife, and generally so well fed, they are
athletic and active. It is no uncommon occurrence
to find them, on their lonely excursions with their
husbands, or even when travelling with a party, give
birth to an infant silently, and without assistance;
and in an hour after, they have recovered from the
languor, tie up the infant—hoist it on their back,
and proceed with their usual occupation.
The kind of lodges generally used by the mountain Indians while travelling, and by the trapping
parties, are of a conical form, composed of ten long
poles, the lower ends of which are pointed, and
driven into the ground, the upper blunt, and drawn
together by thongs. Above, and around these poles,
several dressed buffalo skins, sewed together, are
stretched, a hole being left on one side for an entrance. They are comfortable and commodious; and
in the erection of them, the Indian women, to whom
the office is generally left, are singularly expert.
A squaw, accustomed to the work, will erect and
prepare one for the reception of her husband, while
he is removing the burden from his horse. An expert Indian woman has been known to  stretch a 338
lodge in half the time required by four white men
to erect another in the neighbourhood.
Having already quoted the best authority, for conveying an idea of the conduct of the American
traders and trappers, and of the contrast between
them and those in the service of the company—i. e.,
American authority ; I beg to introduce one quotation more. Mr. Townsend, speaking of Mr. M'Kay's
party, already mentioned, in which there were
thirteen Indians — Perces, Kayouse, and others—
says, "After supper was concluded, we sat ourselves
down on a buffalo robe, at the entrance of the tent,
to see the Indians at their evening devotions. The
whole thirteen were soon collected, at the call of
one whom they had chosen for their chief, and seated
with sober, sedate countenances around a large fire.
After remaining in perfect silence for, perhaps, fifteen
minutes, the chief commenced an harangue in a
solemn, impressive tone; reminding them of the
object for which they were assembled—that of worshipping " the Great Spirit, who made the light, and
the darkness, the earth, and the water,"—and then
assured them, that if they offered up their prayers to
him with one tongue, they woidd certainly be accepted. He then rose from his squatting position
to his knees,   and his example was followed by all
till 339
the others. In this situation he commenced a prayer,
consisting of short sentences, uttered rapidly, but
with great apparent fervour—his hands clasped on
his breast, and his eyes cast upwards with a beseeching look towards heaven. At the conclusion of each
sentence, a choral response of a few words was made,
accompanied, frequently, by low moaning. The
prayer lasted about twenty minutes. After its conclusion, the chief, still maintaining the same position
of body and hands, but with his head bent to his
breast, commenced a kind of psalm, or sacred song,
in which the whole company joined. The song
was a simple expression of a few sounds, no intelligible words being uttered. It resembled the
words Ho-ha—Uo-ha — Ho-ha — commencing in a
low tone, and gradually swelling to a full, round
chorus. During the song, the clasped hands of the
worshippers were moved rapidly across the breast,
and their bodies swung with great energy to the
time of the music. The chief ended the song he
had commenced by a kind of swelling groan, which
was echoed in chorus. It was then taken up by
another, and the same routine was gone through.
The whole ceremony occupied about an hour and a
half. A short silence then succeeded, after which
each Indian rose from the ground, and disappeared 340
in the darkness, with a step as noiseless as that of
a spectre. I think I was never more gratified by
any exhibition in my life. The humble and beseeching looks of the untutored beings who were calling
on their heavenly Father to forgive their sins, and
.continue his mercies, and the evident heartfelt sincerity which characterised the whole scene, were
truly affecting and impressive." He then proceeds
to say, that, " The next day, being the Sabbath,
our good missionary, Mr. Jason Lee (he was a
methodist, and belonged to the writer's American
party), was requested to hold a meeting, wijth which
he obligingly complied. The greater part of our
men, as well as the whole of Mr. M'Kay's party, including the Indians, attended. The people were remarkably quiet and attentive; and the Indians sat
on the ground like statues. Although not one of
them could understand a word that was spoken,
they nevertheless maintained the most strict and
decorous silence, kneeling when the preacher kneeled,
and rising when he rose .... Mr. Lee is a great
favorite with the men, deservedly so, and there are,
probably, few persons to whose preaching they would
have listened with so much complaisance. I have
often been amused and pleased by Mr. Lee's manner of reproving them for the coarseness, and pro- anions:
fanity, of expression, which is so universal ai
Let the reader contrast this account of Mr.
M'Kay's party, including the Indians, with the following description, given six pages further, of an
American debauch; bearing in mind that the company's men are not allowed the use of spirits. "At
sunrise the "the star-spangled banner" was raised
on the flag-staff. All in the camp were allowed the
free use of liquor; and, as usual, the consequence
was a scene of rioting, noise, and fighting during
the whole day. Some became so drunk that their
senses fled them entirely; and they were, therefore,
harmless; but by far the greater number were sufficiently under the influence of the vile trash, to
render them in their conduct disgusting and tigerlike. We had gouging, biting, fisticuffing, and stamping, in the most scientific perfection. Some even
fired guns and pistols at each other. Such scenes I
hope never to witness again; they are absolutely
sickening; and cause us to look on our countrymen
with loathing."
The Buffalo, or wild American ox, which formerly abounded in most parts of North America,
is every day becoming scarcer, in proportion as civilisation   and cultivation advance.     It was   found 342
throughout the whole range now occupied by the
United States, with the exception of that part which
lies east of Hudson's River and Lake  Champlain,
and of narrow and swampy strips of coast on the
Atlantic Gulf'-of Mexico.    The fineness of the buffalo wool, which within a few years has caused it to
become an object of commerce, for the manufacture
of hats and clothsyis mentioned by Morton, a New
England settler, in 1637.    He says, "their fleeces
are very useful, being a kind of wolle, as fine almost
as the wolle of the beaver."    At present they are
seldom seen east of the   Missisippi,   and south of
the St. Lawrence.    But they are found in considerable numbers west of the Rocky Mountains, in the
Columbian region, nearly to the borders of California,
and west of Lake Winipeg, up to the sixty-third
degree.     Their general colour is dun;   sometimes
they are spotted.    The frame of the buffalo is larger
than that of the generality of domestic cattle; and,
though the fore parts are uncouth, the hind parts
are handsomely, and rather delicately formed.    It
looks very formidable, from its large shoulder hump,
its flowing wiry mane, and sweeping beard, and thick
J?/      L -f *a jJ horns, curved backwards.
" f A herd of buffaloes.-when pursued, especially if
rrt/^t f ..^*wiere be a great number of bulls, emits a strong I ma—H—w
odour of musk, which is left in their wake; and
their feet make a loud crackling noise. Their sense
of smell is very acute. Sometimes they will scent
man, if to windward of them, at the distance of two
or three miles; and then they will gallop away with
the greatest speed. When they cannot scent a man,
they will bear his near approach, or advance themselves very near him, without any shyness. Whether this is to be attributed to the imperfect vision
of the animal, whose eyes are obscurecLhy t.hp great
quantity-of hair which covers his face, or not, it is
not easy to determine. Though buffaloes and elks
are seen on the same prairies, they do not herd together. Wolves commonly attend them; and neither seem to molest the other. It is almost impossible to kill this animal by shooting it through the
head or chest: the head is so protected by a matting
of coarse wiry hair, that a ball becomes entangled
in it before reaching the bone; and the chest is so
fenced by a bulwark of bone, that it will require
many bullets to penetrate it. Accordingly, the
hunters contrive to gallop by the side of the animal,
and shoot it, with bullet or arrow, behind the shoulder
They sometimes congregate in such myriads, on
the prairies west of the Rocky Mountains, that the 344
whole circle of vision within the bounds of the horizon presents one dark mass of these animals.    The
bulls march at the head of the cows; and it is then
dangerous to encounter them: for if they become
enraged or frightened, the whole herd start off in a
straight fine, and in close order, regardless of all
obstacles ;  and would crush to pieces men, horses,
and waggons, if in their way.    Some of these bulls
weigh 30001bs each.    When there is abundance of
this sort of game, the hunters often content themselves with the choice parts—the tongue—the slices
by the hump  ribs—and the marrow;  the carcass
being left to the wolves.    This waste often leads to
woeful want. When this animal is hunted, he becomes
sometimes bewildered, and exasperated; and turns
round on his pursuers : then it is inevitable death
to come within range of his horns.
Shooting the rapids. — When a boat enters the
rapids of the Columbia, the bowman and the steersman
quickly resign their oars, and grasp short canoe paddles,
which they hold down edge-wise, by the boat's sides,
propping themselves, at the same time, against her
gunwale, to steady her; while the rowers, in the middle, ply their oars most vigourously: and then the
boat sweeps onward—rising, or ducking, or spinning
about, according as she is borne by the current or 345
the eddies; to the great terror of those who, for the
first time, are thus whirled along. The success of
such a perilous adventure mainly depends on the
steadiness and skill of the two guides, at the stem
and stern—the efforts of the middle men being,
mainly, to keep the boat buoyant. The contrast
between the Canadian voyageurs and the Indians,
in performing this feat, is remarkable and characteristic : those merrily chaunt their boat-song; but
these are as silent and stern as death.
Passage from the States through the Rocky Mountains.—Though several parties have penetrated into
the Oregon territory from the United States, through
the gorges, and over the towering heights, of the
Rocky Mountains, yet it may be safely asserted,
from the concurrent testimony of traders, trappers,
and settlers, who have themselves passed these natural barriers, that the difficulties are so numerous and
formidable, and the time necessary for the passage
so long, that there is no secure, expeditious, or commodious track, which can be ever used as a highway,
so as to afford facilities for an influx of emigrants overland. Several routes have been tried of late; and
each differs only from the other in the privations
which the passengers undergo. None but the wild
and fearless free trappers can   clamber over these 346
precipices, and tread these deserts with security;
and even these are quitting them as haunts, and now
using them only as unavoidable tracks. It is true,
there have been published more favorable accounts
within the last year or two by parties who have made
the journey safely, and who encourage others to
make a similar experiment. But these accounts are
in such a spirit of bravado, and accompanied with expressions of thankfulness by the parties for their own
success, that they are indirect proofs of the difficulty
and danger of the undertaking, and of the utter
hopelessness of such a route for general purposes.
For hundreds of miles, the several tracks present
nothing but frigthful barrenness under-foot, and
over-head, scorching heat, or piercing cold. The
country, even west of the Rocky Mountains,
is broken with towering cliffs, deep ravines, and
sunken streams, from which the traveller cannot
draw a drop to allay his burning thirst; and the
soil is either sandy, in which he sinks at every step;
or of a black, rugged stone, which tears his feet.
The travellers have been obliged to feed on the lean
carcases of their animals, which have died from
hunger, thirst, or fatigue. Farnham says, that his
party were at last obliged to kill their universal favorite and pet—their dog; and economise his flesh. HWWWI—BPWPHBB1
He further says, that during eight days' journey
—and he had proceeded with the expedition of one
travelling for life—he had not met with a single
acre of land capable of producing grain or vegetables.
Another American traveller—Townsend, says:
"Our only food was the dried, crumbling, meat
which we carried; and chewed like biscuits as we
travelled. There are two reasons by which the extreme thirst which the wayfarer suffers, in these
regions, may be accounted for—first, the intense heat
of the sun, upon the open and exposed plains; and
secondly, the desiccation to which every thing here
is subject. The air feels like the breath of a sirroco;
the tongue becomes parched and horny; and the
eyes, mouth, and nose are incessantly assailed by
the fine, pulverised lava, which rises from the
ground with the least breath of air. Bullets, pebbles
of chalcedony, and pieces of smooth obsidian, were
in great requisition: almost every man was mumbling
some of these substances, in an endeavour to assuage
his burning thirst." The lead bullets, and the
other substances which they chewed were for the
purpose of producing spittle which they would swallow
to prevent inflammation and death.
There are, however, certain declinations called gaps 348
through which, (though with great labour,) a tedious,
and dreary passage can be effected. The most frequented of these is the most northern, between
mounts Brown and Hooker, through which the company's servants pass in their journey from Columbia
to Hudson's Bay. This is, comparatively, an easy passage. There is another between the head-waters of
the Flat-head and Marias rivers. Another between
Lewis and Clarke's River, in the Oregon, and the
sources of the Missouri. And another, which is very
mportant lies between Long's Mountains, and the
Wind River cluster. ^^^iriSSi'iriiiffiB^wm^TO^Si^^
Having already, in various parts of this work, when
describing the customs of the natives, prepared the
reader for forming a judgment of the religious tendencies of their minds; and shewn their aptitude for
the reception of Ghristian truth, I beg to offer a few
remarks on the culpable neglect of the mental, moral,
and religious culture, evinced by the missionary societies of Great Britain, and by successive governments, towards those people who are, in truth, de
facto, however questionable it may be that they are
dejure, subjects of the British crown.
The Hudson's Bay Company, it cannot be
doubted, exercises almost absolute sway over the
whole of the north-west of America, and, it
may be averred, also over the Oregon country.
Their power is the only civilised power known
to the   Indians   which  they shew any  disposition 350
to yield to, or even respect. Independently of
the vast and complex machinery of internal and
coasting commerce, which they have set to work
throughout those almost boundless tracts—a machinery reduced to the most "perfect and unerring regularity—and independently of the sway which their
numerous servants, scattered far and wide, and intermingling with the natives, can give the company—
the strict honesty of their dealings (for they are now
become too powerful and too wealthy to be placed
under any necessity of practising either fraud or
oppression to carry on their trade, and too humane
and prudent to resort to these vile American expedients), and their humane endeavours to lift, as-far
as lies within their individual scope, the natives from
their prostration and ignorance to the rank of
christianised and civilised men—endeavours which
the natives are sagacious enough to perceive, and
honest enough to acknowledge (speaking generally),
have struck the roots of their power deep into the
hearts of the aborigines.
The Russians and Americans are the only two
nations that come, even remotely, in contact with
the British in those countries; and both are equally
powerless and uninfluential with the natives. The
Russians, for the most part, confine themselves to wiiBfiaHawti'hmii^^ME-
their own territory—a strip of sea  coast, beyond
the 54° of north  latitude.    Even here they   can
hardly be said to exercise direct power, or even to
have much influence.    They have posts, it is true,
stationed there;   one especially at Sitska, in the
Kamskatka country—a large one, which is worthy of
some notice; and to which the Hudson's Bay Company,
by a commercial contract, entered into lately, supply
provisions.  They, however, are barely traders; carrying off the products of the country, without taking
much interest in the condition of the natives : neither
caring for them, or cared for by them.    The Americans hold a position inferior still; for they have not
one inch of land from California to the Pole—from
the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, to which they
have undisputed right; and not one single trading
post or station   along that immeasurable range of
coast and country.    They do trade, it is true, as well
as they can, throughout this vast expanse. But then,
from their principles of conducting trade, and the
domineering disposition evinced by their irresponsible traders, they have lost all hold of the respect
and confidence of the natives.    It may be, therefore,
averred, without any chance of effective contradiction, that, while the British possess substantial and
enduring power, through the agency of the Hudson's Bay Company, the Americans have, not to say a
shadow of power, but they have not even influence
with the natives—from north to south—from east to
west; for they are looked on by them with distrust
and hatred. Such, then, being the real position of
the relative parties, and snch the hold which the
British have ove rthe natives, it is deeply to be lamented that no general and effectual course has been
adopted to bring them within the pale of Christianity
and civilisation. Perhaps on the whole surface of
the earth there is not a wider and more easy field
for the operation of the missionaries, or one from
which a richer harvest could be reaped. The natives
are, generally, of a yielding and plastic character;
and the principles of their belief, abstractedly from
their various superstitions, harmonise in some measure with the elementary truths of the Bible.
Without enumerating the various points in their
natural theology; or giving a repetition of the several
heads of creed professed by the different tribes, it
will be quite enough for my purpose to say, that they
believe in the existence of a great Superintending
Spirit, who created the world and all beings on it,
rational and irrational; who still exercises a paternal
power and supervision over his creatures—that they
believe   in  the  existence of a subordinate   spirit, 353
whose motives are evil;   and whose dwelling is in
fire;   and whose whole  aim is  to neutralise  the
beneficence of the great  Good Spirit towards his
earthly creatures, and to tempt these creatures to
evil—that they believe in the immortality of the
soul, and in a state of future rewards and punishments, commensurate with their earthly merits or demerits—that  they believe   these  merits consist in
the faithful discharge of all the domestic and social
duties—that they believe it is incumbent on them
to offer daily homage to this Good Spirit—that they
believe this Spirit sometimes condescends, on great
occasions, to hold converse with their great and good
men, or communicate his will by nocturnal visions.
Some of them go farther, and believe in the fallen
state of man; some in a subordinate agent, identified with the Good   and Great Spirit,  doing   his
earthly work.    Some, again, in their belief approach
the historical truths of the Old Testament.    They
believe that this world was, in its primeval state, a
fluid mass, enveloped in darkness, and yielding no
living or growing thing—animal or vegetable; but
that the Great Spirit descended upon it in the shape
of a huge bird, and, by brooding over it, gave it
consistency and solidity—created the sun and moon,
and all animate things on the earth.    (This is the .
scriptural account: in which the words—" the Spirit
of God moved on the surface of the waters," strictly
means, " the Spirit of God brooded (like a bird) on
the surface of the waters")—that there soon arose a
general corruption among mankind; and then men
lived a long time;—that there was a general deluge,
which swept away almost all men and animals—that
some few were saved—that after that men became
wicked again; and then our ancestors came from the
rising sun, a great distance.
Thus it will be seen, that the missionaries have
an -easy field, in as much as they will not have to
root out any fundamental principles of religion; but
only give these principles a proper direction.
There are ample pecuniary resources, and active
and useful agents, at the disposal of the British
Missionary Societies;: independently of the means
at the command of the government. These societies have, I allow, sent abroad to the remotest and
most ungenial regions of the earth, their servants—
who have braved all difficulties, and endured all
privations, in the sacred cause of disseminating
religion, humanity, good morals, ' and civilisation.
And yet, though they have humanised, to some
extent, the wild inhabitant of the forest, the mountain, and   desert—though they have   checked   his-
\\\\ 355
erratic habits, and softened down his fierce and
rugged nature—though they have broken his idols
of brass and clay: yet they have, in many cases,
only humanised the biped brute to the very condition,
and tone of sentiment and belief, in which nature (I
may say) has placed the natives of Oregon. Let
the long-tried missionary, filled even with the fiery
zeal of the primitive Apostles, boast of their former
labours as they will; yet I could safely say, that,
if they tried Oregon, and many of the northern sections of the continent, they would admit, that here
they would start from such a commencement, as to
the temper of mind among the natives, as would be
analagous to the termination of many of their former
It deserves to be noticed, that, before the conquest
of Canada, the Jesuit missionaries propagated, to a
vast extent, the principles of the Christian faith
among the remotest tribes : and did it successfully.
And, had not the conquest taken place, there would
have now been diffused, to the most inaccessible
heights and deepest dells of the continent, Christianity
—perhaps Christianity in a bad form; but yet Christianity in all its elements—better than no Christianity
at all. I regret to be obliged to state, that since the
conquest, but little, comparatively; has been done for 356
the conversion of the natives in the interior, and
west. This is a complaint made by others. It is
true, there is a school for missionaries, at Red River
settlement; but it is, necessarily, on too limited
a scale for general purposes.
I have heard often, from our voyageurs and trappers, that they saw rude crosses painted on lowly
and deserted huts, or cut on trees, in the interior of
the country, 1000 miles beyond the bounds of civilisation. To these emblems there is always a devotional reverence paid; for there is associated with
them a traditionary record in the Indian mind, that
they were the work of "the good white fathers,
who, unlike other white men,- never robbed or
cheated them."
But, exclusively of the humanity of converting
the Indians to Christianity on sober and rational
principles, there is a high principle of state policy
involved in it. If the natives were converted, through
the instrumentality of the Church of England, or
even of British dissenters, to Christianity, they would,
en masse, attach themselves to Great Britain. But
as England has not used this powerful lever to move
them; and as they are left through this culpable
apathy and neglect to the influence of the Papal
power,   (which has  already, within. a few months, 357
inducted a bishop to the Oregon district, under the
title of " Bishop of Philadelphia, in partibus infide-
lium") and to the dissenters that swarm into the
country from the United States, the British tenure
of their affections must soon be enfeebled.
The American missionaries are used by the American government, and fairly represented by the
American writers, as political instruments, in exercising their influence with the natives, to attach them
to republican institutions, and to make them the
passive recipients of all Sorts of anti-British antipathies : and thus the Americans hope to recover the
position in the country which they lost by their want
of integrity, or energy, as traders. This is well
worth the consideration of the British government,
and the British Missionary Societies. I shall conclude-by repeating, that there is not, in the world,
a finer or an easier field for the holy work of Chrisjiaji^
conversion. 358
33ell 33el\a$, or Mtttfmritt gmttrtr €v&e.
Chii-quer" .
Poocquiilla    . speak
TJ'ucuo .    .   .
Kicus    .    .    . large
Kiarla   .         . long way off
Coo shils   .
Kyke     .    .    . there
E'-mas .    .    .
I'ghpah.    .    . molasses
Cu'n-ham   .
Ike        .    .    . aood
. man
Yuck     .    .    . bad
Noo noo
Wamp  .    .    . water
Ee'gh-pah .
Kinsouck   .    . how many
Chei Chalk     .  religion
Tsuck   .    .
mountain goat
Cuntolum .    . bullet
Alt'-a-kim .
Cuntegah   ,    . gun
Kelh-sem   .    .
Talikh  .    .    . powder
I -lah-la     .
. smoking
Kikas, Kunte- ?   _    	
'               > cannon
gah               S
Whealey   .
Ky'ke   .    .    .
Chim Chim ar')  *             ■,
l. .               r finger nails
chetar          5
Kusseu *     .    .
Chuer   .    .
Chim Chim ar ? .        .,
.                  > toe nails
coume         3
Noo-gnah .    .
Iar spe-ache   .  veins
Cahcfititer .
Sear ....  hair
Chumey     .    .
by and bye
Cutio     .    .    .  knife
Art'-lum    .    .
Suraa    .    .    . salmon
Wats     .    .    .  dog
I-ah-mali    .
Kilwah .    .    . canoe
Kaho     .    .    .
Kikus Kilwah   ship
NSigh   .    .    . snow
Thul      .    .
Irk Emas  .    .  a good chief
Choonoc    .
a child
Tuck Emas    .  a bad chief
Kiner Clere
come and trade
Nou-se .    .    . moon
U'tsouk Noii- ) 1
^  >■ three moons
se                y
Watcher     . '
land otter
Whealey lowels Kussu
where are you going 9
Lowels, cah cfinter cah millah
go, shoot deer
Kiner clear, kienum cooloun noeh-
come and trade, I have plenty of
beaver skins
Nah-emas chuer Wah-wah
do, chief, give me a smoke
Kieunum Howmithlim
good understanding
pooquialla Iltsouk
do you understand our language ?
WMM 359
tthutnoS ©due.
.  a bird
Wake   .
. no
Ty-e'     .    .
. chief
. do any thing
Tillicum    .
.- man
. dead
. woman
■ go
. bad
. moon
. eat
Tanarse .
.    . a child
.  blanket
Clouch .
. good
Kfnultb.     .
.  smoking
Hiarse  .
.  large
Can      .    .
Siar .
. a long way
O'cook .
. that, or there
Chuck   .
. water
Miker    .    .
■ you
.  how many
Chi'e     .   .
. now
Tekuit .
. powder
Nika     .    .
. me
• tobaceo
Ulkey   .    .
.  by and bye
Sex .    .    .
. a friend
yes, surely
. elk
Politely   . .
. to-night
Meciirche Tumtum
Miker clattewar mamook mamaloust clouch cullercullar niker
tickey muckermuc
Cliarco marcooke
Miker comtak Chinook
Ulkey niker chaeo
Wake niker tickey mikah
Unaculty miker base clouch* che
wake miker clouch
Lawhitaker mecarche tilicum
Car miker clatawar
a bad heart
go and shoot a good bird, I wish to
come and trade
do you understand Chinook ?
by and bye I will come
I don't like you
before you acted kind, but now you
do not
a very bad man
where are you going ?
fflillb&rih Jt>uutrtr. Ctjtnoofc.
Caclouth   .
Irkt      .
Marl uke
Mukst .     .
Cinamust  •
Utiick .
Utclouse   .
Cloak   .
Sto'ktekin .
Mock   .
Laketh .    .
Quiets .    i
Skouck .
- Ietcus  .
Quinbam .
Tar'tlium .
10 bi
Ii i
3. Aidred, Printer, 10, Red-lion Court, Fleet Street.
■'-    Date Due
H~ f p-
OCT 28
it "7 ^
Sf  /   )
TflfeR Hdr
1 ihrary
*v5?          1
k t_*t   '   1              £l O
| J J
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