Open Collections

BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

Voyages from Montreal, on the river St. Laurence, through the continent of North America, to the frozen… Mackenzie, Alexander, 1764-1820 1814

Item Metadata


JSON: bcbooks-1.0224034.json
JSON-LD: bcbooks-1.0224034-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): bcbooks-1.0224034-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: bcbooks-1.0224034-rdf.json
Turtle: bcbooks-1.0224034-turtle.txt
N-Triples: bcbooks-1.0224034-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: bcbooks-1.0224034-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

Array #
i$Sg'._%i :JM5SS
*   I
. - - ■   - ■■•■■—~	
mmgH '
IN THE YEARS 1789 AND 1793.
jil^VOL. I.
1814.  TO
/ ,
;■■".-    ■" r  I
1 *
Continent of North A (
ii- ■"»»
ON presenting this Volume to my Country,
it is not necessary to enter into' a particular
account of those voyages whose journals form
the principal part of it, as they will be found,
I trust, to explain themselves.    It appears,
however,  to be   a duty, which the Public
have a right to expect from me, to state the
reasons which have influenced me in delaying the publication of them... ■• . &
It has  been   asserted,  that   a misunder-
standing between a person high in office and
myself, was the cause of this procrastination.
It has also been propagated, that it was occa-
casioned by that precaution which the policy
of commerce   will  sometimes   suggest; but
they are both equally devoid of foundation.
The one is an idle tale; and there could be
no solid reason fqr concealing the circumstances of discoveries, whose arrangements
and prosecution were so honourable to my
associates and myself, at whose expence they
were undertaken.    The delay actually arose
from the very active and busy mode of life
&     B '
'Mi ■*«*-
* •
in which I was engaged since the voyages
have been completed ; and when, at length,
the opportunity arrived, the apprehension of
presenting my self to the Public in the character, of an Author, for which the course and
occupations of my life have by no means
qualified me, made me hesitate in committing
my papers to the Press; being much better
calculated to perform the voyages, arduous
as they might be, than to write an account
6f them. However, they are now offered to
the Public with the submission that becomes
tfie._jr    :" ^ p,;"~" '  " :   y      "Jiff- '.""'     '   '||
g-1 was led, at an early period of life, by
commercial views, to the country North-
West of Lake Superior, in North America,
and being endowed by Nature with an inquisitive mind and enterprising spirit; possessing
also a constitution and frame of body equal
to the most arduous undertakings, and being
familiar with toilsome exertions in the prosecution of mercantile pursuits, I not only
contemplated the practicability of penetrating across the continent of America, but was
confident in the qualifications, as I was animated by the desire, to undertake the perilous enterprize. :|f ■
The general utility of such a discovery,
has been universally acknowledged; while
m ■» —
the wishes of my particular friends and commercial associates, that I should proceed in
the pursuit of it, contributed to quicken the
execution of this favourite project of my own
ambition: and as the completion of it extends
the boundaries of geographic science, and
adds new countries to the realms of British
commerce, the dangers I have encountered,
and the toils I have suffered, have found
their recompence ; nor will the many tedious
and weary days, or the gloomy and inclement
nights which I have passed, have been passed in vain. - ;
The first voyage has settled the dubious
point of a practicable North-West passage;
and I trust it has set that long agitated question at rest, and extinguished the disputes
respecting it forever. An enlarged discussion of that subject will be found to occupy
the concluding pages of this volume.    >     i^
In this voyage, I was not only without the
necessary books and instruments, but also
felt myself deficient in the sciences of astronomy and navigation; I did not hesitate,
therefore, to undertake a winter's voyage to
this country, in order to procure the one,
and acquire the other, These object! being
"accomplished, I returned, to determine the
practicability of a commercial communication
n mm     1*m
through the continent of North America,
between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans,
which is proved by my second journal. §Nor
do I hesitate to declare my decided opinion,
that very great and essential advantages may
be derived by extending our trade from one
sea to the other. ■■« - y
||§ Some account of the fur trade of Canada
from that country, of the native inhabitants,
and of the extensive districts connected with
it, forms a preliminary discourse, which will,
I trust, prove interesting to a nation, whose
general policy is blended with, and whose
prosperity is supported by, the pursuits of
commerce. It will also qualify the reader to
pursue the succeeding voyages with superior intelligence and satisfaction. ; .
These voyages will not, -I fear, afford the
variety that may be expected from them; and
that which they offered to the eye, is not of a
nature to be effectually transferred to the
page. Mountains and vallie$, the dreary
waste, and the wide-spreading forests, the
lakes and rivers succeed eacji other in general description; and, except on the coasts of
the Pacific Ocean, where the villages were
permanent, and the inhabitants in a gv§0
measure stationary, small bands of wander
ing Indians are the only people whom I shall mtaaa.-
introduce to the acquaintance of my readers.
The beaver and the buffalo, the moose-
deer ,and the elk, which are the principal
animals to be found in these countries, are
already so familiar to the naturalists of Europe, and have been so often as well as correctly described in their works, that the bare
mention of them, as they enlivened the landscape, or were hunted for food; with a cursory account of the soil, the course and navigation of lakes and rivers, and their various
produce, is all that canbe reasonably expected
from me.
I do not possess the science of the naturalist ; and even if the qualifications of that
character had been attained by me, its curious
spirit would not have been gratified. I could
not stop to dig into the earth, over whose
surface I was compelled to pass with rapid
steps; nor could I turn aside to collect the
plants which nature might have scattered on
the way, when my thoughts were anxiously
employed in making provision for the day
that was passing over me. I had to encoun-
teig|perils by land and perils by water; to
watch the savage who was our guide, or to
guard against those of his tribe who might
meditate our destruction. I had, also, the
passions and fears of others to controul and
ft yi
subdue. To day, I had to assuage the rising discontents, and on the morrow, to cheer
the fainting spirits of the people who accompanied me. The toil of our navigation
was incessant, and oftentimes extreme; and
in our progress over land, we had no protection from the severity of the elements, and
possessed no accommodations or conveniences but such as could be contained in the
burden on our shoulders, which aggravated the toils of our march, and added to the
wearisomeness of our way.
Though the events which compose my
journals may have little in themselves to
strike the imagination of those who love to
be astonished, or to gratify the curiosity of
such as are enamoured of romantic adventures; nevertheless, when it is considered,
that I explored those waters which had never
before borne any other vessel than the canoe
of the savage; and traversed those deserts
where an European had never before presented himself to the eye of its swarthy
natives; when to these considerations are
added the important objects which were pur*
sued, with the dangers that were encountered,
and the difficulties that were surmounted to
attain them, this work will, I flatter myself,
»& —       _wmtw***—m
be found to excite an interest, and conciliate
regard, in the minds of those who peruse it.
.The general map which illustrates**this
volume, is reduced by Mr. Arrowsmtth*from
his three-sheet map of North-America, with
the latest discoveries, which he is about to
republish. HislSprofessional abilities are
well known, and no encomium of mine will
advance the general and merited opinion of
them,    -i "•■■'
Before I conclude, I must beg leave to inform my readers, that they are not to expect
the charms of embellished narrative, or animated description ; the approbation due to
simplicity and to truth, is all I presume to
claim; and I am not without the hope that
this claim will be allowed me. I have described whatever I saw with the impressions
of the moment which presented it to me.
The successive circumstances of my progress are related without exaggeration or display. I have seldom allowed myself to
wander into conjecture; and whenever conjecture has been indulged, it will be found, I
trust, to be accompanied with the temper of
a man who is not disposed to think too highly
of himself: and if, at any time, I have delivered myself with confidence, it;will appear,
*™> '''Mmjw'n*"
I V1I1
I hope, to be on those subjects, which, from
the habits and experience of my life, will justify ah unreserved communication of mycfpi-
nionsjj£fE< am not a candidate for literary
fame: at the same time, I cannot but indulge
the hope that this volume, with all its imperfections, will not be thought unworthy the
attention of the scientific geographer; and
that, by unfolding countries hitherto unexplored, and which, I presume, may now be
considered as a part of the British dominions,
it will be received as a faithful tribute to the
prosperity of my country, fe
,        _       - ALEXANDER MACKENZIE.
November-SO, 1801. A GENERAL HISTORY
X HE fur trade, from the earliest settlement of
Canada, was considered of the first importance to
that colony. The country was then so populous,
that, in the vicinity of the establishments, the animals whose skins were precious, in a commercial
view, soon became very scarce, if not altogether
extinct. They were, it is true, hunted at former
periods, but merely for food and clothing. The Indians, therefore, to procure the necessary supply,
were encouraged to penetrate into the country, and
were generally accompanied by some of the Canadians, who found means to induce the remotest
tribes of natives to bring the skins which were
most in demand, to their settlements,in the way of
It is not necessary for me to examine the cause,
but experience proves that it requires much less
time for a civilized people to deviate into the manners and customs of savage life, than for savages
\ s^sBts=
I r
to rise into a state of civilization. Such was the
event with those who thus accompanied the natives on their hunting and trading excursions; for
they became so attached to the Indian mode of
life, Ahat they lost all relish for their former habits
and native homes. Hence they derived the title
of Coureurs des Bois, became a kind of pedlars,
and were extremely useful to the merchants engaged in the fur trade; who gave them the necessary credit to proceed on their commercial undertakings. Three or four of these people would
join their stock, put their property into a birch-
bark canoe, which they worked themselves, and
either accompanied the natives in their excursions,
or went at once to the country where they knew
they were to hunt. At length, these voyages
extended to twelve or fifteen months, when they
returned with rich cargoes of furs, and followed,
by great numbers of the natives. During the short
time requisite to settle their accounts with the
merchants, and procure fresh credit, they generally contrived to squander away all their gains,
when they returned to renew their favourite mode
of life: their views being answered, and their labour sufficiently rewarded, by indulging, themselves in extravagance and dissipation, during the
short space of one month in twelve or fifteen.
This indifference about amassing property, and
the pleasure of living free from all restraint, soon
brought on a licentiousness of manners which
could not long escape the vigilant observation of
the missionaries, who had much reason to complain of their being a disgrace to the Christian religion; by not only swerving from its duties
themselves, but by thus bringing it into disrepute
with those of the natives who had become converts
to it; and, consequently, obstructing the great ob- OF THE FUR TRADE, '&c.
ject to which those pious men had devoted their
lives. They therefore, exerted'their influence to
procure the suppression of these people, and accordingly, no one was allowed to go up the country to traffic with the Indians, without a licence
from the government.
At first these permissions were, of course,
granted only to those whose character was such as
could give no alarm to the zeal of the missionaries: but they were afterwards bestowed as rewards for services, on officers, and their widows;
and they, who were not willing or able to make
use of them (which may be supposed to be always
the case with those of the latter description), were
allowed to sell them to the merchants, who necessarily employed the Coureurs des bois, in quality
of their agents; and these people, as may be imagined, gave sufficient cause for the renewal of
former complaints; so that the remedy proved, in
fact, worse than the disease.
I At length, military posts were established at
the confluence of the different large lakes of Canada, which, in a great measure checked the evil
consequences that followed from the improper
conduct of these foresters, and, at the same time,
protected the trade. Besides, a number of able
and respectable men, retired from the army, prosecuted the trade in person, under their respective licences, with great order and regularity, and
extended it to such a distance, as, in those days,
was considered to be an astonishing effort of
commercial enterprize. These persons and the
missionaries having combined their views at the
same time, secured the respect of the natives, and
the obedience of the people necessarily employed
in the laborious parts of this undertaking. These
gentlemen denominated themselves commanders, *mm
and not traders, though they were intitled to both
those characters : and, as for the missionaries, if
sufferings and hardships in the prosecution of the
great work which they had undertaken, deserved
applause and admiration, they had an undoubted
claim to be admired and applauded : they spared
no labour and avoided no danger in the execution
of their important office ; and it is to be seriously
lamented, that their pious endeavours did not
meet with the success which they deserved: for
there is hardly a trace to be found beyond the cultivated parts, of their meritorious functions.
The cause of this failure must be attributed to
a want of due consideration in the mode employed by the missionaries, to propagate the religion
of which they were the zealous ministers. They
habituated themselves to the savage life, and naturalized themselves to the savage manners, and, by
thus becoming dependent, as it were, on the
natives, they acquired their contempt rather than
their veneration. If they had been as well acquainted with human nature, as they were with
the articles of their faith, they would have known,
that the uncultivated mind of an Indian must be
disposed by much preparatory method and instruction to receive^ the revealed truths of Christianity, to act under its sanctions, and be impelled
to good by the hope of its reward, or turned from
evil by the fear of its punishments. They should
have begun their work by teaching some of those
useful arts which are the inlets of knowledge, and
lead the mind by degrees to objects of higher
comprehension. Agriculture so formed to fix
and combine society, and so preparatory to objects
of superior consideration, should have been the
first thing introduced among a savage people : it
attaches the wandering tribe to that spot wrhere OF THE FUR TRADE, Sec. v
It adds so much to their comforts; while it gives
then*^ sense of property, and of lasting possession, instead of the uncertain hopes of the chase,
and the fugitive produce of uncultivated wilds.
Such were the means by which the forests of Paraguay were converted into a scene of abundant
cultivation, and its savage inhabitants introduced
to all the advantages of a civilized life.
The Canadian missionaries should have been
contented to improve the morals of their own
countrymen, so that by meliorating their character and conduct, they would have given a striking example of the effect of religion in promoting the comforts of life to the surrounding
savages; and might by degrees have extended
its benign influence to the remotest regions of
that country, which was the object, and intended
to be the scene, of their evangelic labours. But
by bearing the light of the Gospel at once to the
distance of two thousand five hundred miles from,
the civilized part of the colonies, it was soon obscured by the cloud of ignorance that darkened
the human mind in those distant regions.
The whole of their long route I have often
travelled, and the recollection of such a people as
the missionaries having been there, was confined
to a few superannuated Canadians, who had not
left that country since the cession to the English,
in 1763, and who particularly mentioned the
death of some, and the distressing situation of
them all. But if these religious men did not attain the objects of their persevering piety, they
were, during their mission, of great service to
the commanders who engaged in those distant
expeditions, and spread the fur trade as far West
as the banks of the Saskatchiwine river, in 53.
North latitude, and longitude 102. West. m-
At an early period* of their intercourse with the
savages, a custom was introduced of a very excellent tendency, but is now unfortunately - discontinued, of not selling any spirituous liquor to
the natives. This admirable regulation was for
some time observed, with all the respect due to
the religion by which it was sanctioned, and
whose severest censures followed the violation of
it. A painful penance could alone restore the
offender to the suspended rites of the sacrament.
The casuistry of trade, however, discovered a
way to gratify the Indians with their favourite
cordial, without incurring the ecclesiastical penalties, by giving, instead of selling it to them.
But notwithstanding all the restrictions with
which commerce was oppressed under the French
government, the fur trade was extended to the
immense distance which has been already stated;
and surmounted many most discouraging difficulties, which will be hereafter noticed; while, at
the same time, no exertions were made from
Hudson's Bay to obtain even a share of the trade
of a country, which according to the charter of
that company, belonged to it, and, from its proximity, is so much more accessible to the mercantile adventurer.
Of these trading commanders, I understood,
that two attempted to penetrate to the Pacific
Ocean, but the utmost extent of their journey I
could never learn; which may be attributed, indeed, to a failure of the undertaking.
For some time after the conquest of Canada,
this trade was suspended, which must have been
very advantageous to the Hudson's Bay Company,
as all the inhabitants to the westward of Lake Superior were obliged to go to them for such articles as their habitual use had rendered necessary. OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.-
Some of the Canadians who had lived long with
them, and were become attached to a savage life,
accompanied them thither annually, till mercantile adventurers again appeared from their own
country, after an interval of several years, owing,
as I suppose, to an ignorance of the country in
the conquerors, and their want of commercial
confidence in the. conquered. There were, in-
deedy^other discouragements, such as the immense
length of the journey necessary to reach the limits
beyond which this commerce must begin; the
risk of property; the expences attending such a
long transport; and an ignorance of the language
of those who, from their experience, must be
necessarily employed as the intermediate agents
between them and the natives. But, notwithstanding these difficulties, the trade, by degrees,
began to spread over the different parts to which
it had been carried by the French, though at a
great risk of the lives, as well as the property of
their new possessors, for the natives had been
taught by their former allies to entertain hostile
dispositions towards the English, from their having been in alliance with their natural enemies
the Iroquois; and there were not wanting a sufficient number of discontented, disappointed people,
to keep alive such a notion; so that for a long time
they were considered and treated as objects of
hostility. To prove this disposition of the Indians, we have only to refer to the conduct of
Pontiac, at Detroit, and the surprise and taking
of Michilimakinac, about this period.
Hence it arose, that it was so late as the year
1766, before which, the trade I mean to consider,
commenced from Michilimakinac. The first who
attempted it were satisfied to go the length of the
river Camenistiquia, about thirty ,miles to the
J? via
Eastward of the Grande Portage, where the
French had a principal establishment, and was
the line of their comrnunication with the interior
country. It was once destroyed by fire. Here
they went and returned successful in the following spring to Michilimakinac. Their success induced them to renew their journey, and incited
others to follow their example. Some of them
remained at Camenistiquia, while others proceeded to and beyond the Grande Portage, whiehfi
since that time has become the principal entrepot I
of that trade, and is situated in a bay, in latitude
48. North, and longitude 90. West. After passing
the usual season there, they went back to Michilimakinac as before, and encouraged by the trade,
returned in increased numbers. One of these,
Thomas Curry, with a spirit of enterprize superior to that of his contemporaries, determined to
penetrate to the furthest limits of the French discoveries in that country; or at least till the frbst
should stop him. For this purpose he procured
guides and interpreters, who were acquainted with
the country, and with four canoes arrived at Fort
Bourbon, which was one of their posts, at the
West end of the Cedar Lake, on the waters of the
Saskatchiwine. His risk and toil were well recompensed, for he came back the following spring
with his canoes filled with fine furs, with which
he proceeded to Canada, and was satisfied never
again to return to the Indian country.
From this period, people began to spread over
every part of the country, particularly where the
French had established setdements.
Mr. James Finlay was the first who followed
Mr. Curry's example, and with the same number
of canoes, arrived, in the course of the next season, at Nipawee, the last of the French settlements OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
on the bank of the Saskatchiwine river, in latitude
nearly 43f. North, and longitude 103 West: he
found the good fortune, as he followed, in every
respect, the example, of his predecessor.Ill
As may be supposed, there were now people
enough ready to replace them, and the trade was
pursued with such avidity, and irregularity, that in
a few years it became tfcie reverse of what it ought
to have been. An animated competition prevailed,
and the contending parties carried the trade beyond
the French limits, though with no benefit to themselves or neighbours, the Hudson's Bay Company ;
who in the year 1774, and not till then, thought
proper to move from home to the East bank of Sturgeon Lake, in latitude 53. 56. North, and longitude
102. 15. West, and became more jealous of their
fellow subjects; and, perhaps, with more cause,
than they had been of those of France. From this
period, to the present time, they have been following the Canadians to their different establishments,
while, on the contrary, there is not a solitary instance that the Canadians have followed them; and
there are many trading posts which they have not
yet attained. This, however, will no longer be a
mystery, when the nature and policy of the Hud-
son's-Bay Company is compared with that which
has been pursued by their rivals in this trade.—
But to return to my subject.
This competition, which has been already mentioned, gave a fatal blow to the trade from Canada,
and, with other incidental causes, in my opinion,
contributed to its ruin. This trade was carried on
in a very distant country, out of the reach of legal
restraint, and where there was a free scope given
to any ways or means in attaining advantage. The
consequence was not only the loss of commercial
benefit to the persons engaged in it, but of the
good opinion of the natives, and the respect of their
D wm
**ten, who were inclined to follow their example ;
so that with drinking, carousing, and quarrelling
with the Indians along their route, and among
themselves, they seldom reached their winter quarters ; and if they did, it was generally by dragging
their property upon sledges, as the navigation was
closed up by the frost. When at length they werq
arrived, the object of each was tolfcjure his rival
traders in the opinion of the natives as much as was
in their power, by misrepresentation and presents,
for which the agents employed were peculiarly calculated. They considered the command of their
employer as binding on them, and however wrong
or irregular the transaction, the responsibility rested with the principal who directed them. This is
Indian law. Thus did they waste their credit and
their property with the natives, till the first was
past redemption, and the last was neaily exhausted ; so that towards the spring in each year, the
rival parties found it absolutely na&^&sary to join,
and make one common stock of what remained, fot
the purpose of trading with the natives, who could
entertain no respect for persons who had conducted
themselves with so much irregularity and deceit.
The winter, therefore, was one continued scen^of
disagreements and quarrels. If any one had the
precaution or good sense to keep clear of these
proceedings, he derived a proportionable advantage from his good conduct, and frequently proved
a peace-maker between the parties. To such an
height had they carried this licentious conduct,
that they were in a continual state of alarm, and
were even frequently stopped to pay tribute on the&e
route into the country; though they had adopted
the plan of travelling together in parties of thirty
or forty canoes, and keeping their men armed;
which sometimes,, indeed, proved necessary for
their defence.
■*i«MB»«-*««l<-_. OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
Thus w%$ the trade caryied on for several, years,
and consequently becoming worse and worse, so
that the partners, who met them at the Grande
Portage, naturally complained of their ill success.
B*$fc specious reasons were always ready to prove
that it arose from circumstances which they could
not at ti^at time controul; and encouragements were
held forth to hope that a change would soon take
place, which would m$ke ample amends for p&st
It was about this time, that Mr. Joseph Fro-
bisher, ojae of the gentlemen engaged in the trade,
determined to penetrate into the country yet unexplored, to the North and Westward, and, in the
spring of the year 1775, met the Indians from that
quarter on their way to Fort Churchill, at Portage
de Traite, so named from that circumstance, on
the banks of the Missinipi, or Churchill river,
latitude 55. 25. North, longitude 103f. West. It
was, indeed, with some difficulty that he could induce them to trade with him, but he at length procured as many furs as his canoes could carry. In
this perilous expedition he sustained every kind of
hardship incident to a journey through a wild and
savage country, where his subsistence depended om
what the woods and the waters produced. These
difficulties, nevertheless, did not discourage him
from returning in the following year, when he was
equally successful. He then sent his brother to
explore the country still further West, who penetrated as far as the lake of Isle a la Crosse, in latitude 55. 26. North, and longitude 108. West.
He, however, never after wintered among the
Indians, though he retained a large interest in the
trade, and a principal share in the direction of it till
the year 1798, when he retired to enjoy the fruits
of his labours; and, by his hospitality, became
known to every respectable stranger who visited
1   ,
The success of this gentleman induced others
to follow his example, and in the spring of the year
1778, some of the traders on the Saskatchiwine
river, finding they had a quantity of goods to
spare, agreed to put them into a joint stock, and
gave the charge and management of them to Mr.
Peter Pond, who, in four canoes, was directed to
enter the English River, so called by Mr. Fro-
bisher, to follow his track, and proceed ' still further; if possible, to Athabasca, a country hitherto
unknown but from Indian report. In this enter-
prize he at length succeeded, and pitched his tent
on the banks of the Elk river, by him erroneou^
ly called the Athabasca river, about forty miles
from the Lake of the Hills, into which it empties
Here he passed the winter of 1778-9; saw a
vast concourse of the Knisteneaux and Chepew-
yan tribes, who used to carry their furs annually
to Churchill; the latter by the barren grounds,
where they suffered innumerable hardships, and
were sometimes even starved to death. The
former followed the course of the lakes and rivers,
through a country that abounded in animals, and
where there was plenty of fish : but though they
did not suffer from want of food, the intolerable
fatigue of such a journey could not be easily
repaid to an Indian: they were, therefore, highly
gratified by seeing people come to their country to
relieve them from such long, toilsome, and dangerous joiirnies; and were immediately reconciled
to give an advanced price for the articles necessary to their comfort and convenience. Mr.
Pond's reception and success was accordingly
beyond his expectation; and he procured twice
as many furs as his canoes would carry. They
also supplied him with as much provision as he
required during his residence among them, and <*wmmm
sufficient^for his homeward voyage. Such of the
furs as he could not embark, he secured in one of
his winter huts, and they were found the following
season, in the same state in which he left them.
These, however, were but partial advantages,
and could not prevent the people of Canada from
seeing the improper conduct of some of their
associates, which rendered it dangerous to remain
any longer among the natives. Most of them who
passed the winter at the Saskatchiwine, got to the
Eagle hills, where, in the spring of the year 1780,
a few days previous to their intended departure,
a large band of Indians being engaged in drinking
about their houses, one of the traders, to ease himself of the troublesome importunities of a native,
gave him a dose of laudanum in a glass of grog,
which effectually prevented him from giving further trouble to any one, by setting him asleep forever. This accident produced a fray, in which
one of the traders, and several of the men were
killed, while the rest had no other means to save
themselves but by a precipitate flight, abandoning
a considerable quantity of goods, and near half the
furs which they had collected during the winter
and the spring.
About the same time, two of the establishments
on the Assiniboin river, were attacked with less
justice, when several white men, and a great number of Indians were killed. In short,.it appeared,
that the natives had formed a resolution to extirpate the traders; and, without entering into any
further reasonings on the subject, it appears to be
incontrovertible, that the irregularity pursued in
carrying on the tradeihas brought it into its present
forlorn situation; and nothing but the greatest
calamitv that could have befallen the natives, saved
the traders from destruction: this was the small
pox, which spread its destructive and desolating
■ m
# ■n
power, as #e fire consumes the dry grass of thm
field. The fatal infection spread around with a
baneful rapidity which no flight could escape, and
with a fatal effect that nothing could resist. It
destroyed with its pestilential/ breath whole
families and tribes; and the horrid scene presented
to those who had the melancholy and afflicting
opportunity of beholding it, a combination of the
dead, the dying, and such as to avoid the horrid
fate of their friends around them, prepared to disappoint the plague of its prey, by terminating their
own existence.
The habits and lives of these devoted people,
which provided not to-day for the wants of tomorrow, must have heightened the pains of such
an affliction, by leaving them not only without
remedy, but even without \ alleviation. Nought
was left them but to submit in agony and despair.
To aggravate the picture, if aggravation were
possible, may be added, the putrid carcases which
the wolves, with a furious voracity, dragged forth
from the huts, or which were mangled within
them by the dogs, whose hunger was satisfied
with the disfigured remains of their masters. Nor
was- it uncommon for the father of a family, whom
the infection had not reached, to call them around
him, to represent the cruel sufferings and horrid
fate of their relations, from the influence of some
evil spirit who was preparing to extirpate their
race; and to incite them to baffle death, with all
its horrors, by their own poignards. At the same
time, if their hearts failed them in this necessary
act, he was himself ready to perform the deed of
mercy with his own hand, as the last act of his af-
fection, and instantly to follow them to the common place of rest and refuge from human evil.
It was never satisfactorily ascertained by what
means this malignant disorder was introduced, but OF THE FUR TRADE, &c,
It was generally supposed to be from the Missi*
souri, by a war party.
The consequence of this melancholy event to the
traders must be self-evident; the means of disposing of their goods were cut off; and no furs were
obtained, but such as had been gathered from the
habitations of the deceased Indians, which could
not be very considerable : nor did they look from
the losses of the present year, with any encouraging
expectations to those which were to come. The
only fortunate people consisted of a party who had
again penetrated to the northward and Westward
in 1780, at some distance up the Missinipi, or English river, to Lake la Rouge. Two unfortunate
circumstances, however, happened to them; which
are as follow:
Mr. Wadin, a Swiss gentleman, of strict probity
and known sobriety, had gone there in the year
1779, and remained during the summer 1780.
His partners and others, engaged in an opposite interest, when at the Grande Portage, agreed to send
a quantity of goods on their joint account, which
was accepted, and Mr. Pond was proposed by them
to be their representative to act in conjunction
with Mr. Wadin. Two men, of more opposite
characters, could not, perhaps, have been found*
In short, from various causes, their situations became very uncomfortable to each other, and mutual
ill-will was the natural consequence : without entering, therefore, into a minute history of these
transactions, it will be sufficient to observe, that,
about the end of the year 1780, or the beginning
of 1781, Mr. Wadin had received Mr. Pond and
one of his own clerks to dinner; and, in the course
of the night, the former was shot through the
lower part of the thigh, when it was said that he
expired from the loss of blood, and was buried
next morning at eight o'clock.    Mr.  Pond, and
Si nf
11 -
$ SB
•a V0S
the clerk, were tried for this murder at Montreal,
and acquitted: nevertheless, their innocence was
not so apparent as to extinguish the original suspicion.
The other circumstance was this. In the spring
of the year, Mr. Pond sent the abovementioned
clerk to meet the Indians from the Northward, who
used to go annually to Hudson's Bay; when he
easily persuaded them to trade with him, and return
back, that they might not take the contagion which
had depopulated the country to the Eastward of
them: but most unfortunately they caught it here,
and carried it with them,to the destruction of themselves and the neighbouring tribes.
The country being thus depopulated, the traders
and their friends from Canada, who, from various
causes already mentioned, were very much reduced
in number, became confined to two parties, who
began seriously to think of making permanent establishments on the Missinipi river, and at Athabasca; for which purpose, in 1781-2, they selected
their best canoe-men, being ignorant that the small
pox penetrated that way. The most expeditious
party got only in time to the Portage la Loche,
or Mithy-Ouinigam, which divides the waters
of the Missinipi from those that fall into the Elk
river, to dispatch one canoe strong handed, and
light-loaded, to that country; but, on their arrival
there, they found, in every direction, the ravages
of the small pox ; so that, from the great diminution of the natives, they returned in the spring with
no more than seven packages of beaver. The strong
woods and mountainous countries afforded a refuge
to those who fled from the contagion of the plains;
but they were so alarmed at the surrounding destruction, that they avoided the traders, and were
dispirited from hunting, except for their subsistence.    The traders, however, who returned into OF THE FUR TRADE, Sec.
the country in the year 1782-3, found the inhabitants in some sort of tranquillity, and more
numerous than they had reason to expect, so that
their success was proportionably better.
During the winter of 1783-4, the merchants of
Canada, engaged in this trade, formed a junction
of interests, under the name of the North-West
Company, and divided it into sixteen shares, without depositing any capital; each party furnishing a
proportion or quota of such articles as were necessary to carry on the trade : the respective parties
agreeing to satisfy the friends they had in the
country, who were not provided for, according to
this agreement, out of the proportions which they
held. The management of the whole was accordingly entrusted to Messrs. Benjamin and Joseph
Frobisher, and Mr. Simon M'Tavish, two distinct
houses, who had the greatest interest and influence
in the country, and for which they were to receive
a stipulated commission in all transactions.
In the spring, two of those gentlemen went to the
Grande Portage with their credentials, which were
confirmed and ratified by all the parties having an
option, exept Mr. Peter Pond, who was not satisfied with the share allotted him. Accordingly he,
and another gentleman, Mr. Peter Pangman, who
had a right to be a partner, but for whom no provision had been made, came to Canada, with a
determination to return to the country, if they could
find any persons to join them,and give their scheme
a proper support.
The traders in the country, and merchants at
Montreal, thus entered into a co-partnership,
which, by these means, was consolidated and directed by able men, who, from the powers with
which thev were entrusted, would carry on the
trade to the utmost extent it would bear. The
traders in the  country,  therefore,  having every
..jiBS^Sttbh VL
reason to expect that their past and future labours
would be recompensed, forgot all their former
animosities, and engaged with the utmost spirit
and activity, to forward the general interest; so
that, in the following year, they met their agents
at the Grande Portage, with their canoes ladeilJ
with rich furs from the different parts of that immense tract of country. But this satisfaction was
not to be enjoyed without some interruption ; and
they were mortified to find that Mr. Pangman had
prevailed on Messrs. Gregory and Macleod to join
him, and give him their support in the business,
though deserted by Mr. Pond, who accepted the
terms offered by his former associates.
ffi In the counting house of Mr. Gregory I had been
five years; and at this period had left him, with a
small adventure of goods, with which he had entrusted me, to seek my fortune at Detroit. He,
without any solicitation on my part, had procured
an insertion in the agreement, that I should be admitted a partner in this business, on condition that
I would proceed to the Indian country in the following spring, 1785. His partner came to Detroit
to make me such a proposition. I readily assented
to it, and immediately proceeded to the Grande
Portage, where I joined my associates.
We now found that independent of the natural
difficulties of the undertaking, we should have to
encounter every other which they, who were already in possession of the trade of the country,
could throw in our way, and which their circumstances enabled them to do. Nor did they doubt,
from their own superior experience, as well
as that of their clerks and men, with their
local knowledge of the country and its inhabitants,
that they should soon compel us to leave the
country to them. The event, however, did not
justify their expectations ; for, after the severest OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
xi x
struggle ever known in that part of the world, and
suffering every oppression which a jealous and rival
spirit could instigate; after the murder of one of our
partners, the laming of another, and the narrow
escape of one of our clerks, who received a bullet
through his powder horn, in the execution of his
duty, they were compelled to allow us a share of
the trade. As we had already incurred a loss, this
union was, in every respect, a desirable event to
us, and was concluded in the month of July 1787.
This commercial establishment was now founded on a more solid basis than any hitherto known
in the country; and it not only continued in full
force, vigour, and prosperity, in spite of all interference from Canada, but maintained at least an
equal share of advantage with the Hudson's-Bay
Company, notwithstanding the superiority of their
local situation. The following account of this self-
erected concern will manifest the cause of its
It assumed the title of the North-West Company, and was no more than an association of commercial men, agreeing among themselves to carry
on the fur trade, unconnected with any other busi-
ness, though many of the parties engaged had
extensive concerns altogether foreign to it. It may
be said to have been supported entirely upon
credit; for, whether the capital belonged to the
proprietor, or was borrowed, it equally bore interest, for which the association was annually accountable. It consisted of twenty shares, unequally
divided among the persons concerned. Of these, a
certain proportion was held by the people who
managed the business in Canada, and were styled
agents for the Company* Their duty was to import
the necessary goods from England, store them at
their own expence at Montreal, get them made up
into articles suited to the trade, pack and forward
ti i^—Cft',
them, and supply the cash that might be wanting
for the outfits, for which they received, independent of the profit on their shares, a commissi^i on
the amount of the accounts, which they were obliged to make out annually, and keep the adventure
of each year distinct. Two of them went annually
to the Grande Portage, to manage and transact the
business there, and on the communication at Detroit, Michilimakinac, St. Mary's, and at Montreal,
where they received, stored, packed up, and shipped the company's furs for England, on which they
had also a small commission. The remaining
shares were held by the proprietors, who were
obliged to winter and manage the business of the
concern with the Indians, and their respective
clerks, &x. They were not supposed to be under
any obligation to furnish capital, or even credit.
If they obtained any capital by the trade, it was to
remain in the hands of the agents; for which they
were allowed interest. Some of them, from their
long services and influence, held double shares,
and were allowed to retire from the business at any
period of the existing concern, with one of those
shares, naming any young man in the company's
service to succeed him in the other. Seniority
and merit were, however, considered as affording
a claim to the succession, which, nevertheless,
could not be disposed of without the concurrence
of the majority of the concern ; who, at the same
time relieved the seceding person from any responsibility respecting the share that he transferred,
and accounted for it according to the annual value
or rate of the property; so that the seller could
have no advantage, but that of getting the share
of stock which he retained realized, and receiving for the transferred share what was fairly
determined to be the worth of it. The former was also discharged from all duty, and be- OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
came a dormant partner. Thus, all the young
men who were not provided for at the beginning
of the contract, succeeded in succession to the character and advantages of partners. They entered
into the Company's service for five or seven years,
under such expectations, and their reasonable
prospects were seldom disappointed : there wrere,
indeed, instances when they succeeded to shares,
before their apprenticeship was expired, and it
frequently happened, that they were provided for
while they were in a state of articled clerkship.
Shares were transferable only to the concern at
large, as no person could be admitted as a partner
who had not served his time to the trade. The
dormant partner indeed might dispose of his interest to any one he chose, but if the transaction was
not acknowledged by his associates, the purchaser
could only be considered as his agent or attorney.
Every share had a vote, and two thirds formed a
majority. This regular and equitable mode of
providing for the clerks of the company, excited a
spirit of emulation in the discharge of their various
duties, and in fact, made every agent a principal,
who perceived his own prosperity to be immediately connected with that of his employers. Indeed, without such a spirit, such a trade could not
have become so extended and advantageous, as it
has been and now is.
In 1788, the gross amount of the adventure for
the year did not exceed forty thousand pounds*,
but by the exertion, enterprise, and industry of
the proprietors, it was brought, in eleven years, to
triple that amount and upwards; yielding proportionate profits, and surpassing, in short, any
thing known in America.
* This might he properly called the stock of the company, as it included, with the expenditure of the year, the amount of the property un*
expended, whiclt had been appropriated for the adventure of that year,
and was carried on to the account of the following adventure.
•l xxu
Such, therefore, being the prosperous state of the
company, it, very naturally, tempted others to interfere with the concern in a manner by no means
beneficial to the company, and commonly ruinous
to the undertakers. ,t$j
In 1798 the concern underwent a newtform, the
shares were increased to forty-six, new partners
being admitted, and others retiring. This period
was the termination of the company, which was not
renewed by all the parties concerned in it, the majority continuing to act upon the old stocfef! and
under the old firm; the others beginning a new
one; and it now remains to be decided, whether two
parties, under the same regulations and by the
same exertions, though unequal in number, can
continue to carry on the business to a successful
issue. The contrary opinion has been held, which
if verified, will make it the interest of the parties
again to coalesce; for neither is deficient in capital
to support their obstinacy in a losing trade, as it is
not to be supposed that either will yield on any
other terms than perpetual participation.
It will not be superfluous in this place, to explain
the general mode of carrying on the fur trade.
The agents are obliged to order the necessary
goods from England in the month of October,
eighteen months before they can leave Montreal;
that is, they are not shipped from London until the
spring following, when they arrive in Canada in the
summer. In the course of the following winter
they are made up into such articles as are required
for the savages; they are then packed into parcels
of ninety pounds weight each, but cannot be sent
from Montreal until the May following; so that they
do not get to market until the ensuing winter, when
they are exchanged for furs, which come to Montreal the next fall, and from thence are shipped,
chiefly to London, where they are not sold or paid
lM f£S3SCE33S£T
for before the succeeding spring, or even as late as
June; which is forty-two months after the goods
were ordered in Canada; thirty-six after they had
been shipped from England, and twenty-four after
they had been forwarded from Montreal; so that
the merchant, allowing that he has twelve months
credit, does not receive a return to pay for those
goodsj and the necessary expences attending them,
which is about equal to the value of the goods
themselves, till two y^ars after they are considered
as cash, which makes this a very heavy business.
There-Ss even a small proportion of it that requires
twelve months longer to bring round the payment,
owing to the immense distance it is carried, and
from the shortness of the seasons, which prevents
the furs, even after they are collected, from coming
out of the country for that period.
The articles necessary for this trade, are coarse
woolen cloths of different kinds; milled blankets
of different sizes; arms and ammunition ; twist and
carrot tobacco; Manchester goods; linens, and
coarse sheetings; thread, lines and twine; common hardware ; cutlery and ironmongery of several descriptions; kettles of brass and copper, and
sheet-iron; silk and cotton handkerchiefs; hats,
shoes and hose; calicoes and printed cottons, &c.
Sec. &c. Spirituous liquors and provisions are
purchased in Canada.    These, and the expence of
This better illustrated by the following statement:
We will suppose the goods for 1798;
The orders for the goods are sent to this .Country
They are shipped from London       -
They arrive in Montreal        -        - '      -     WM
They are made up in the course of that summer and winter.
They are sent from Montreal - - -   , ■
They arrive in the Indian country, and are exchanged for
furs the following winter -
Which furs come to Montreal -
And are shipped for London, where they are sold in March
and April, and paid for in May or June        ||fl
25th Oct. 1796.
March 1797.
June Wm
May 1798.
Sept. 1799.
111 I
transport to and from the Indian country, including
wages to clerks, interpreters, guides, and canoe-
men, with the expence of making up the goods for
the market, form about half the annual amount
against the adventure.
This expenditure in Canada ultimately tends
to the encouragement of British manufactory,
for those who are employed in the different
branches of this business, are enabled by their
gains to purchase such British articles as they
must otherwise forego.
The produce of the year of which I am now
speaking, consisted of the following furs and peltries :
6000 Lynx skins,
600 Wolverine skins,
1650 Fisher skins,
100 Rackoon skins,
3800 Wolf skins,
700 Elk skins,
750 Deer skins,
1200Deer skins dressed,
106,000 Beaver skins,
2100 Bear skins,
1500 Fox skins,
4000 Kitt Fox skins,
4600 Otter skins,
17,000 Musquash skins,
32,000 Marten skins,
1800 Mink skins,
500 Buffalo robes, and a quantity of castorum.
Of these were diverted from the British market,
being sent through the United States to China,
13,364 skins, fine beaver, weighing 19,283 pounds;
1250 fine otters, and 1724 kitt foxes. They would
have found their way to the China market at any
rate, but this deviation from the British channel
arose from the following circumstance :
An adventure of this kind was undertaken hy a
respectable house in London, half concerned with
the North-West Company, in the year 1792. The
furs were of the best kind, and suitable to the market; and the adventurers continued this connexion for five successive years, to the annual amount
of forty thousand pounds. At the winding up of
the concern of 1792, 1793, 1794, 1795, in the year OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
1797 (the adventure of 1796 not being included,
as the i$rs were not sent to China, but disposed of
in London), the North-West Company experienced
aloss of upwards of £40,000 (their half), which was
principally owing to the difficulty of getting home
the produce procured in return for the furs from
China, in the East India Company's ships, together
with the duty payable, and the various restrictions
of that company. Whereas, from America there
are no impediments; they get immediately to market, and the produce of them is brought back, and
perhaps sold in the course of twelve months. From
such advantages, the furs of Canada will no doubt
find their way to China by America, which would
not be the case if British subjects had the same privileges that are allowed to foreigners, as London
would then be found the best and safest market.
But to return to our principal subject. We
shall now proceed to consider the number of men
employed in the concern: viz. fifty clerks, seventy-
one interpreters and clerks, one thousand one hundred and twenty canoe-men, and thirty-five guides.
Of these, five clerks, eighteen guides, and three
hundred and fifty canoe-men, were employed for
the summer season in going from Montreal to the
Grande Portage, in canoes, part of whom proceeded from thence to Rainy Lake, as will be
hereafter explained, and are called Pork-eaters, or
Goers and Comers. These were hired in Canada
or Montreal, and were absent from the 1st of May
till the latter end of September. For this trip the
guides had from eight hundred to a thousand
livres, and a suitable equipment; the foreman and
steersman from four to six hundred livres; the
middle-men from two hundred and fifty to three
hundred and fifty livres, with an equipment of one
blanket, one shirt, and one pair of trowsers ; and
were maintained during that period at the expence
' • Ml XXVI
|p|| j
of their employers.    Independent of their wages,
they were allowed to traffic, and many of them
earned to the amount of their wages..   About one
third of these went to winter, and had more than
double the above wages and equipment.    All the
winterers were hired by the year, and sometimes
for three years ; and of the clerks many were apprentices, who were generally engaged for  five
or seven years, for which they had only one hundred pounds, provision and clothing.    Such of
them who could  not be  provided   for   as  partners,   at the   expiration of this time, were allowed from one hundred pounds to three hundred
pounds per annum, with all necessaries, till provision was made for them.    Those who acted in
the two-fold capacity of clerk and interpreter, or
were so denominated, had no other expectation
than the payment of wages to the amount of from
one thousand to four thousand livres per annum,
with clothing and provisions.    The guides, who
are a very useful set of men, acted also in the additional capacity of interpreters, and had a stated
quantity of goods, considered as sufficient for their
wants, their wages being from one to three thousand livres.    The canoe men are of two descriptions,  foremen and steersmen, and  middlemen.
The two first were allowed annually one thousand
two hundred, and the latter eight hundred, livres
each.    The first class had what is called an equipment, consisting of two blankets, two shirts, two
pair  of   trowsers,   two  handkerchiefs,   fourteen
pounds of carrot tobacco, and some trifling articles.
The latter had ten pounds of tobacco, and all the
other articles: those are called North Men,   or
Winterers; and to the last class of people were
attached upwards of seven hundred Indian women
and  children,   victualled at the expence of the
The first class of people are hired in Montreal
five months before they set out, and receive their
equipments, and one third of their wages in advance; and an adequate idea of the labour they
undergo, may be formed from the following account of the country through which they pass,
and their manner of proceeding.
The necessary number of canoes being purchased, at about three hundred livres each, the
goods formed into packages, and the lakes 'and
rivers free of ice, which they usually are in the
beginning of May, they are then dispatched from
La Chine, eight miles above Montreal, with eight
or ten men in each canoe, and their baggage; and
sixty-five packages of goods, six hundred weight of
biscuit, two hundred weight of pork, three bushels
of pease, for the men's provision; two oil cloths to
cover the goods, a sail, &c. an axe, a towing-line, a
kettle, and a sponge tobailout the water, with a quantity of gum, bark, and watape, to repair the vessel.
An European on seeing one of these slender vessels
thus laden, heaped up, and sunk with her gunwale
within six inches of the water, would think his
fate inevitable in such a boat, when he reflected on
the nature of her voyage; but the Canadians are
so expert that few accidents happen.
Leaving La Chine, they proceed to St. Ann's,
within two miles of the Western extremity of the
island of Montreal, the lake of the two mountains
being in sight, which may be termed the commencement of the Utawas river. At the rapid of
St. Ann they are obliged to take out part, if not
the whole of their lading. It is from this spot
that the Canadians consider they take their departure, as it possesses the last church on the island,
which is dedicated to the tutelar saint of voy*
r ... ..i »ji iwgwgnw
The lake of the two mountains is about twenty
miles long, but not more than three wide, &&d surrounded by cultivated fields, except the Seignory
belonging to the clergy, though nominally in
possession of the two tribes of Iroquois and Algon-
quins, whose village is situated on a delightful
point of land under the hills, which, by the title of
mountains, give a name to the lake. Near the
extremity of the point their church is built, which
divides the village in two parts, forming a regular
angle along the water side. On the East is the
station of the Algonquins, and on the West, one of
the Iroquois, consisting in all of about five hundred warriors. Each party has its missionary, and
divine worship is performed according to the rites
of the Roman Catholic religion, in their respective
lanerua^es in the same church: and so assiduous
have their pastors been, that these people have
been instructed in reading and writing in their own
language, and are better instructed than the Canadian inhabitants of the country of the lower ranks :
but notwithstanding these advantages, and though
the establishment is nearly coevel with the colonization of the country, they do not advance towards
a state of civilization, but retain their ancient
habits, language, and customs, and are becoming
every day more depraved, indigent, and insignificant. The country around them, though very
capable of cultivation, presents only a few miserable patches of ground, sown by the women with
maize and vegetables. During the winter season,
they leave their habitations, and pious pastors, to
follow the chase, according to the custom of their
forefathers. Such is, indeed, the state of all the
villages near the cultivated parts of Canada. But
we shall now leave them to proceed on our voyage. ' 1       f        '   f       |
At the end of the lake the water contracts into
the Utawas river, which, after a course of fifteen
miles, is interrupted by a succession of rapids and
cascades for upwards of ten miles, at the foot of
which the Canadian Seignories terminate; and all
above them were waste land, till the conclusion of
the American war, when they were surveyed by
order of government, and granted to the officers
and men of the eighty-fourth regiment, when reduced ; but principally to the former, and consequently little inhabited, though very capable of
cultivation.     3|
The voyagers are frequently obliged to unload
their canoes, and carry the goods upon their backs,
or rather suspended in slings from their heads.
Each man's ordinary load is two packages, though
some carry three. Here the canoe is towed by a
strong line. There are some places where the
ground will not admit of their carrying the whole ;
they then make two trips, that is, leave half their
lading, and go and land it at the distance required;
and then return for that which was left. In this
distance are three carrying-places, the length of
which depends in a great measure upon the state of
the water, whether higher or lower ; from the last
of these the river is about a mile and a half wide,
and has a regular current for about sixty miles,
when it ends at the first Portage de Chaudiere,
where the body of water falls twenty-five feet,
over cragged, excavated rocks, in a most wild, romantic manner. At a small distance below, is the
river Rideau on the left, falling over a perpendicular rock, near forty feet high, in one sheet, assuming
the appearance of a curtain; and from which circumstance it derives its name. To this extent the
lands have been surveyed, as before observed, and
are very fit for culture. Many loyalists are settled
upon the river Rideau, and have, I am told, thriving
_j» PMmp
plantations. Some American families preferring
the British territory, have also established themselves along a river on the opposite side, where the
soil is excellent. Nor do I think the period is far
distant, when the lands will become settled from
this vicinity to Montreal.
Over this portage, which is six hundred and forty-three paces long, the canoe and all the lading is
carried. The rock is so steep and difficult of access, that it requires twelve men to take the canoe
out of the water : it is then carried by six men, two
at each end on the same side, and two under the
opposite gunwale in the middle. From hence to
the next is but a short distance, in which they make
two trips to the second Portage de Chaudiere,
which is seven hundred paces, to carry the loading
alone. From hence to the next and last Chaudiere,
or Portage des Chenes, is about six miles, with
a very strong current, where the goods are carried
seven hundred and forty paces; the canoe being
towed up by the line, when the water is not very
high. We now enter Lac des Chaudieres, which
is computed to be thirty miles in length. Though
it is called a lake, there is a strong draught downwards, and its breadth is from two to four miles.
At the end of this is the Portage des Chats, over
which the canoe and lading are carried two hundred and seventy-four paces; and very difficult it
is for the former. The river is here barred by a
ridge of black rocks, rising in pinnacles and covered with wood, which, from the small quantity of
soil that nourishes it, is low and stinted. The river finds its way over and through these rocks, in
numerous channels, falling fifteen feet and upwards.
From hence two trips are made through a serpentine channel, formed by the rocks, for several miles,
when the current slackens, and is accordingly called the Lac des Chats.    To the channels of the OF THE FUR TRADE, Sec.
grand Calumet, which are computed to be at the
distance of eighteen miles, the current recovers its
strength, and proceeds to the Portage Dufort,
which is two hundred and forty-five paces long ;
over which the canoe and baggage are transported.
From hence the current becomes more rapid, and
requires two trips to the Decharge des Sables*,
where the goods are carried one hundred and thirty-five paces, and the canoe towed. Then follows
the Mountain Portage, where the canoe and lading
are also carried three hundred and eighty-five paces;
then to the Decharge of the Derige where the
goods are carried two hundred and fifty paces; and
thence to the grand Calumet. This is the longest
carrying-place in this river, and is about two thousand and thirty-five paces. It is a high hill or mountain. From the upper part of this Portage the
current is steady, and is only a branch of the Uta-
was River, which joins the' main channel, that
keeps a more Southern course, at the distance of
twelve computed leagues. Six leagues further it
forms Lake Coulonge, which is about four leagues
in length; from thence it proceeds through the
channels of the Allumettes to the decharge, where
part of the lading is taken out, and carried three
hundred and forty-two paces. Then succeeds the
Portage des Allumettes, which is but twenty-five
paces, over a rock difficult of access, and at a very
short distance from Decharge. From Portage de
Chenes to this spot, is a fine deer-hunting country,
and the land in many places very fit for cultivation.
From hence the river spreads wide, and is full of
islands, with some current for seven leagues, to
the beginning of Riviere Creuse, or Deep River,
which runs in the form of a canal, about a mile
* The place where the goods alone are carried, is called a Decharge, and
that where goods and canoes are both transported, overland, is denominated a Portage. ,; ;. ) .
and a hMSwide, for about thirty-six miles; bounded
upon the North by very high rocks, with low land
on the South, and sandy; it is intercepted again
by falls and cataracts, so that the Portages of the
two Joachins almost join. The first is nine hundred and twenty-six paces, the next seven hundred and twenty, and both very bad roads. From
hence is a steady current of nine miles to the river
du Moine, where there has generally been a trading house; the stream then becomes strong for
four leagues, when a rapid succeeds, which requires two trips. A little way onward is the De-
charge, and close to it, the Portage of the Roche
Capitaine, seven hundred and ninety-seven paces
in length. From hence two trips are made through
a narrow channel of the Roche Capitaine, made by
an island four miles in length. A strong current
now succeeds, for about six leagues to the Portage of the two rivers, which is about eight hundred and twenty paces; from thence it is three
leagues to the Decharge of the Trou, which is three
hundred paces. Near adjoining is the rapid of
Levellier; from whence, including the rapids of
Matawoen, where there is no carrying-place, it is
about thirty-six miles to the forks of the same name;
in latitude 46. 45. North, and longitude 78. 45.
West, and is at the computed distance of four hundred miles from Montreal. At this place the Petite Riviere falls into the Utawas. The latter river
comes from a North-Westerly direction, forming
several lakes in its course. The principal of them
is Lake Temescamang, where there has always
been a trading post, which may be said to continue, by a succession of rivers and lakes, upwards
of fifty leagues from the Forks, passing near the
waters of the Lake Abbitiby, in latitude 48f.
which is received by the Moose River, that empties itself into James's Bay. OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
The Petite Riviere takes a South West direction, is full of rapids and cataracts to its source,
and is not more than fifteen leagues in length, in
the course of which are the following interruptions
—The Portage of Plein Champ, three hundred
and nineteen paces; the Decharge of the Rose,
one hundred and forty-five paces ; the Decharge
of Campion, one hundred and eighty-four paces ;
the Portage of the Grosse Roche, one hundred
and fifty paces; the Portage of Paresseux, four
hundred and two paces; the Portage of Priarie,
two hundred and eighty-seven paces ; the Portage
of La Cave, one hundred paces ; Portage of Talon, two hundred and seventy-five paces; which,
for its length, is the worst on the communication;
Portage Pin de Musique, four hundred and fifty-
six paces; next to this, is mauvais de Musique,
where many men have been crushed to death by the
canoes, and others have received irrecoverable injuries. The last in this river is the Turtle Portage, eighty-three paces, on entering the lake of
that name, where, indeed, the river may be said to
take its source. At the first vase from whence to the
great river, the country has the appearance of having been over-run by fire, and consists, in general,
of huge rocky hills. The distance of this portage
which is the height of land, between the waters of
the St. Laurance and the Utawas, is one thousand
five hundred and thirteen paces to a small canal in
a plain, that is just sufficient to carry the loaded
canoe about one mile to the next vase, which is
seven hundred and twenty-five paces. It would
be twice this distance, but the narrow creek is
dammed in the beaver fashion, to float the canoes
to this barrier, through which they pass, when the
river is just sufficient to bear them through a swamp
of two miles to the last vase, of one thousand and
twenty-four paces in length.    Though the river
is increased in this part, some care is necessary tor
avoid rocks and stumps of trees.    In about six
miles is the lake Nepisingui, which is computed
to be twelve leagues long, though the route of the
canoes  is  something more:   it  is about fifteen
miles wide in the widest part, and bounded with
rocks.    Its inhabitants consist of the remainder of
a numerous converted tribe, called Nepisinguis of
the Algonquin nation.   Out of it flows the Riviere
des Frangois, over rocks of a considerable height.
In a bay to the East of this, the road leads over the
Portage of the Chaudiere des Frangois, over rocks
of a considerable height.    In a bay to the East of
this, the road leads over the Portage of the Chaudiere des Frangois, five hundred and forty-four
paces, to still water.    It must have acquired the
name of Kettle, from a great number of holes in
the solid rock of a cylindrical form, and not unlike that culinary utensil.   They are observable in
many parts along strong bodies of water, and where,
at  certain  seasons,   and  distinct  periods,   it  is
well known the water inundates; at the bottom
of them are generally found a number of small
stones   and pebbles.     This circumstance justifies the conclusion, that at some former period
these rocks formed the bed of a branch of the
discharge of this lake, although some of them are
upwards of ten feet above the present level of the
water at its greatest height.    They are, indeed, to
be seen along every great river throughout this
wide extended country.   The French river is very
irregular, both as to its breadth and form, and is so
interspersed with islands, that in the whole course
of it the banks are seldom visible.    Of its various
channels, that which is generally followed by the
canoes is obstructed by the following Portages,
viz. des Pins, fifty-two paces;  Feausille, thirty-
six paces; Parisienne, one hundred paces; Reco-
&.>i£33?\: OF THE FUR TRADE, See.
fet,"forty-five paiees;   and the  Petite  Feausille,
twenty-five paces.    In several parts there are guts
or channels, where the water flows with great velocity, which are not more than twice the breadth
of a canoe.    The distance to Lake Huron is estimated at twenty^five leagues, which this river enters in the latitude 45. 53. North, that is, at the
point of land three or four miles within the lake.
There is hardly a.foot of soil to be seen from one.
end of the French river to the other, its banks
consisting of hills of entire rock.    The coast of
the lake is the same, but lower, backed at some
distance by high lands.  The course runs through
numerous islands to the North of West to the ri*
ver Tessalon, computed to be about fifty leagues
from the French river, and which I found to be in
latitude 46. 12. 21. North; and from thence crossing, from island to island, the arm of the lake that
receives the water of Lake Superior (which continues the same course), the route changes to the
South of West ten leagues to the Detour, passing
the end of the island of St. Joseph, within six miles
of the former place.    On that island there has
been a military establishment since the upper posts
were given up to the Americans in the year 1794;
and is the Westernmost military position which
we have in this country.   It is a place of no trade,
and the greater part, if not the whole of the Indians, come here for no other purpose but to receive
the presents which our government annually allows them.    They are from the American territory (except  about  thirty  families,  who  are the
inhabitants of the lake from the French river, and
of the Algonquin nation) and trade in their peltries, as they used formerly to do at Michilimakinac, but principally with British subjects.    The
Americans pay them very little attention, and tell
them that they keep possession of their country by
right of conquest: that, as their brothers, they
will be friends with them while they deserve it;
and that their traders will bring them every kind
of goods they require, which they may procure by
their industry.
Our commanders treat them in a very different
manner, and, under the character of the representatives of their father; (which parental title the
natives give to his present Majesty, the common
father of all his people) present them with such
things as the actual state of their stores will
How far this conduct, if continued, may, at a
future exigency, keep these people in our interest,
if they are even worthy of it, is not an object of
my present consideration : at the same time, ^
cannot avoid expressing my perfect conviction,
that it would not be of the least advantage to our
present or future commerce in that country, or to
the people themselves; as it owij tends to keep
many of them in a state of idleness about our
military establishments. The ammunition which
they receive is employed to kill game, in order to
procure rum in return, though their families may
be in a starving condition: hence it is, that, in
consequence of slothful and dissolute lives, their
numbers are in a very perceptible state of diminution.
From the Detour to the island of Michilimakinac, at the confluence of the Lakes Huron and
Michigan, in latitude 45. 54. North is about forty
miles. To keep the direct course to Lake Superior, the north shore from the river Tessalon
should be followed; crossing to the North-West
end of St. Joseph, and passing between it and the
adjacent islands, which makes a distance of fifty
miles to the fall of St. Mary, at the foot of which,
upon the Sooth shore, there is, a village, formerly OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
a place of great resort for the inhabitants of Lake
Superior, and consequently of considerable trade :
it is now, however, dwindled to nothing, and reduced to about thirty families, of the Algonquin
nation, who are one half of the year starving, and
the other half intoxicated, and ten or twelve Canadians, who have been in the Indian country from
an early period of life, and intermarried with the
natives who have brought them families. Their
inducement to settle there, was the great quantity
of white fish that are to be taken in and about the
falls, with very little trouble, particularly in the
autumn, when that fish leaves the lakes, and comes
to the running and shallow waters to spawn.
These, when salt can be procured, are pickled just as the frost sets in, and prove very
good food with potatoes,- which they have of
late cultivated with success. The natives live
chiefly on this fish, which they hang up by
the tails, and preserve throughout the winter,
or at least as long as they last; for whatever
quantity they may have taken, it is never known
that their ceconomy is such as to make them last
through the winter, which renders their situation
very distressing; for if they had activity sufficient
to pursue the labours of the chase, the woods are
become so barren of game, as to afford them no
great prospect of relief. In the spring of the year,
they and the other inhabitants make a quantity of
sugar from the maple tree, which they exchange
with the traders for necessary articles, or carry it
to Michilimakinac, where they expect a better
price. One of these traders was agent for the
North-West Company, receiving, storing, and forwarding such articles as come by the way of the
lakes upon their vessels : for it is to be observed,
that a quantity of their goods are sent by that route
from Montreal in boats to Kingston, at the entrance XXXV111
of Lake Ontario, and from thence in vessels to Niagara, then over land ten miles to a water communication, by boats, to Lake Erie, where they are
again received into vessels, and carried over that
lake up the river Detroit, through the lake and
river Sinclair to Lake Huron, and from thence to
the Falls of St. Mary's, when they are again landed
and carried for a mile above the falls, and shipped
over Lake Superior to the Grande Portage. This
is found to be a less expensive method than by canoes, but attended with more risk, and requiring
more time, than one short season of this country
will admit; for the goods are always sent from
Montreal the preceding fell; and besides, the company get their provisions from Detroit, as flour
and Indian corn; as also considerable supplies
from Michilimakinac of maple sugar, tallow, gum,
&c. &c.
For the purpose of conveying all these things,
they have two vessels upon the Lakes Erie and
Huron, and one on Lake Superior, of from fifty to
seventy tons burthen. This being, therefore, the
depot for transports, the Montreal canoes, on their
arrival, were forwarded over Lake Superior, with
only five men in each; the others were sent to
Michilimakinac for additional canoes, which were
required to prosecute the trade, and then take a
lading there, or at St. Mary's, and follow the others.
At length they all arrive at the Grande Portage,
which is one hundred and sixty leagues from St.
Mary's, coastways, and situated on a pleasant bay
•on the North side of the lake, in latitude 48. North,
and long-itude 90. West from Greenwich, where
the compass has not above five degrees East variation.
At the entrance of the bay is an island which
screens the harbour from every wind except the
South.    The shallowness of the water, however, OF THE FUR TRADE, Sec.
renders it necessary for the vessel to anchor near
a mile from the shore, where there is not more
than fourteen feet water. This lake justifies the
name that has been given to it; the Falls of St.
Mary, which, is its Northern extremity, being in
latitude 46. 31. North, and in longitude, 84. West,
where there is no variation of the compass whatever, while its Southern extremity, at the River
St. Louis, is in latitude 46. 45. North, aud longitude 92. 10. West: its greatest breadth is one
hundred and twenty miles, and its circumference,
including its various bays, is not less than one
thousand two hundred miles. Along its North
shore is the safest navigation, as it is a continued
mountainous embankment of rock, from three hundred to one thousand five hundred feet in height.
There are numerous coves and sandy bays to land,
which are frequently sheltered by islands from the
swell of the lake. This is particularly the case at
the distance of one hundred miles to the Eastward
of the Grande Portage, and is called the Pays Plat.
This seems to have been caused by some convulsion of nature, for many of the islands display a
composition of lava, intermixed with round stones
of the size of a pigeon's egg. The surrounding
rock is generally hard, and of a dark blue-grey,
though it frequently has the appearance of iron and
copper. The South side of the lake, from Point
Shagoimigo East, is almost a continual straight
line of sandy beach, interspersed with rocky precipices of lime-stones, sometimes rising to an hundred feet in height, without a bay. The embankments from that point Westward are, in general, of
strong clay, mixed with stones, which renders the
navigation irksome and dangerous. On the same
side, at the River Tonnagan, is found a quantity of
virgin copper. The Americans, soon after they got
possession of that country, sent an engineer thither;
i i
and I should not be surprised to hear of their employing people to work the mine. Indeed, it might
be well worthy the attention of the British subjects
to work the mines on the North coast, though they
are not supposed to be so rich as those on the
Lake Superior is the largest and most magnificent body of fresh water in the world: it is clear
and pellucid, of great depth, and abounding in a
great variety of fish, which are the most excellent
of their kind. There are trouts of three kinds,
weighing from five to fifty pounds, sturgeon,
pickerel, pike, red and white carp, black bass,
herrings, &c. &c. and the last, and best of all, the
Ticamang, or white fish, which weighs from four
to sixteen pounds, and is of a superior quality in
these waters.
This lake may be denominated the grand reser^
voir of the River St. Laurence, as no considerable
rivers discharge themselves into it. The principal
ones are, the St. Louis, the Nipigon, £he Pic, and
the Michipicoten. Indeed, the extent of country
from which any of them flow, or take their course,
in any direction, cannot admit of it, in consequence
of the ridge of land that separates them from the
rivers that empty themselves into Hudson's-Bay,
the gulph of Mexico, and the waters that fall in
Lake Michegan, which afterward become a part of
the St. Laurence.
This vast collection of water is often covered
with fog, particularly when the wind is from the
East, which, driving against the high barren rocks
on the North and West shore, dissolves in torrents
of rain. It is very generally said, that the storms
on this lake are denoted by a swell on the preceding day; but this circumstance did not appear
from my observation to be a regular phenomenon,
as the swells more regularly subsided without any
subsequent wind. OF THE FUR TRADE, Sec.
Along the surrounding rocks of this immense
lake, evident marks appear of the decrease of its
water, by the lines observable along them. The
space, however, between the highest and the lowest, is not so great as in the smaller lakes, as it
does not amount to more than six feet, the former
being very faint. §|
The inhabitants that are found along the coast
of this water, are all of the Algonquin nation, the
whole of which do not exceed 150 families.*
These people live chiefly on fish; indeed, from
what has been said of the country, it cannot be expected to abound in animals, as it is totally destitute of that shelter, which is so necessary to them.
The rocks appear to have been over-run by fire,
and the stinted timber which once grew there, is
frequently seen lying along the surface of them :
but it is not easy to be reconciled, that any thing
should grow where there is so little appearance of
soil. Between the fallen trees there are briars,
with hurtleberry and gooseberry bushes, raspberries, &c. which invite the bears in greater or lesser
numbers, as they are a favourite food of that animal : beyond these rocky banks are found a few
moose and fallow deer. The waters alone are
abundantly inhabited.
A very curious phenomenon was observed some
years ago at the Grande Portage, for which no obvious cause could be assigned. The water withdrew with great precipitation, leaving the ground
dry that had never before been visible, the fall being equal to four perpendicular feet, and rushing
back with great velocity above the common mark.
It continued thus falling and rising for several
* In the year 1668, when the first missionaries visited the South of this
lake, they found the country full of inhabitants. They relate, that about
this time a band of the Nepisingues, who were converted, emigrated to the
Nipigon country, which is to the North of Lake Superior. Few of their
descendants are now remaining, and not a trace of the religion communicated to them is to be discovered.
"31 I
hours, gradually decreasing till it stopped at its
usual height. There is frequently an irregular
influx and deflux, wdiich does npt exceed ten
inches, and is attributed to the wind.
The bottom of the bay which forms an amphitheatre, is cleared of wood and inclosed ; and on
the left corner of it, beneath an hill, three or four
hundred feet in height, and crowned by others of
a still greater altitude, is the fort, picketed in with
cedar pallisadoes, and inclosing houses built with
wood and covered with shingles. They are calculated for every convenience of trade, as well as to
accommodate the proprietors and clerks during
their short residence there. The North men live
under tents : but the more frugal pork-eater lodges
beneath his canoe. The soil immediately bordering on the lake has not proved very propitious, as
nothing but potatoes have been found to answer the
trouble of cultivation. This circumstance is probably owing to the cold damp fogs of the lake, and
the moisture of the ground from the springs that
issue from beneath the hills. There are meadows
in the vicinity that yield abundance of hay for the
cattle ; but, as to agriculture, it has not hitherto
been an object of serious consideration.
I shall now leave these geographical notices, to
give some further account of the people from Montreal.—When they are arrived at the Grande Portage, which is near nine miles over, each of them
has to carry eight packages of such goods and provisions as are necessary for the interior country.
This is a labour which cattle cannot conveniently
perform in summer, as both horses and oxen were
tried by the company without success. They are
only useful for light, bulky articles ; or for transporting upon sledges, during the winter, whatever
goods may remain there, especially provision, of
which it is usual to have a year's stock on hand.
M^fiEftdfe OF THE FUR TRADE, Sec.
Having finished this toilsome part of their duty,
if more goods are necessary to be transported, they
are allowed a Spanish dollar for each package :
and so inured are they to this kind of labour, that
I have known some of them set off with two packages of ninety pounds each, and return with two
others of the same weight, in the course of six
hours, being a distance of eighteen miles over hills
and mountains. This necessary part of the business being over, if the season be early they have
some respite, but this depends upon the time the
North men begin to arrive from their winter quarters, which they commonly do early in July. . At
this period, it is necessary to select from the pork-
eaters, a number of men, among whom are the recruits, or winterers, sufficient to man the North
canoes necessary to carry, to the river of the rainy
lake, the goods and provision requisite for the
Athabasca country ; as the people of that country,
(owing to the shortness of the season and length of
the road, can come no further), are equipped
there, and exchange ladings with the people of
whom we are speaking, and both return from
whence they came. This voyage is performed in
the course of a month, and they are allowed proportionable wages for their services.
The north men being arrived at the Grande
Portage, are regaled with bread, pork, butter,
liquor, and tobacco, and such as have not entered
into agreements during the winter, which is customary are contracted with, to return and perform
the voyage for one, two, or three years; their
accounts are also settled, and such as choose to
send any of their earnings to Canada, receive drafts
to transmit to their relations or friends; and as
soon as they can be got ready, which requires no
more than a fortnight, they are again dispatched to
their respective departments.    It is, indeed, very
' ', »■<■ wniaSwe
isases xliv
■ -M'!
creditable to them as servants, that though they
are sometimes assembled to the number of twelve
hundred men, indulging themselves in the free
use of liquor, and quarrelling with each other,
they always shew the greatest respect to their employers, who are comparatively but few in number, and beyond the aid of any legal power to
enforce due obedience. In short, a degree of subordination can only be maintained by the good
opinion these men entertain of their employers,
which has been uniformly the case, since the trade
has been formed and conducted on a regular system.
The people being dispatched to their respective
winter-quarters, the agents from Montreal, assisted
by their clerks, prepare to return there, by getting
the furs across the portage, and re-making them
into packages of one hundred pounds weight each,
to send them to Montreal; where they commonly
arrive in the month of September.
The mode of living at the Grande Portage, is as
follows: The proprietors, clerks, guides, and interpreters, mess together, to the number of sometimes an hundred, at several tables, in one large
hall, the provision consisting of bread, salt pork,
beef, hams, fish, and venison, butter, peas, Indian
corn, potatoes, tea, spirits, wine, &c. and plenty
of milk, for which purpose several milch cows are
constantly kept. The mechanics have rations of
such provision, but the canoe-men, both from the
North and Montreal, have no other allowance here,
or in the voyage, than Indian corn and melted fat.
The corn for this purpose is prepared before it
leaves Detroit, by boiling it in a, strong alkali,
which takes off the outer husk : it is then well
washed, and carefully dried upon stages, when it
is fit for use. One quart of this is boiled for two
hours, over a moderate fire, in a gallon of water; OF THE FUR TRADE, 8cc.
to which, when it has boiled a small time, are added two ounces of melted suet; this causes the corn
to split, and in the time mentioned makes a pretty
thick pudding. If to this is added a little salt,
(but not before it is boiled, as it wxould interrupt the
operation) it makes a wholesome, palatable food,
and easy of digestion. This quantity is fully sufficient for a man's subsistence during twenty-four
hours; though it is not sufficiently heartening to
sustain the strength necessarv for a state of active
labour. The Americans call this dish nominee*.
The trade from the Grande Portage, is, in some
particulars, carried on in a different manner with
that from Montreal. The canoes used in the
latter transport are now too large for the former,
and some of about iialf the size are procured from
the natives, and are navigated by four, five, or six
men, according to the distance which they have
to go. They carry a lading of about thirty-five
packages, on an average ; of these twenty-three are
for the purpose of trade, and the rest are employed
for provisions, stores, and baggage. In each of
these canoes are a foreman and steersman; the
one to be always on the look out, and direct the
passage of the vessel, and the other to attend the
helm. They also carry her, whenever that office
is necessary. The foreman has the command,
and the middle-men obey both \ the latter earn
only two-thirds of the wages which are paid the
two former. Independent of these, a conductor or
pilot is appointed to every four or six of these canoes, whom they are all obliged to obey ; and is,
or at least is intended to be, a person of superior
experience, for which he is proportionably paid.
*. Corn is the cheapest provision that can be procured, though from the
expence of transport, the bushel costs about twenty shillings sterling, at
the Grande Portage.    A man's daily allowance does not exceed ten-pence.
In these canoes, thus loaded, they embark at the
North side of the portage, on the river Au Tourt,
which is very inconsiderable; and after about two
miles of a Westerly course, is obstructed by the
Partridge Portage, six hundred paces long. In the
spring this makes a considerable fall, when the
water is high, over a perpendicular rock of one
Jbundred and twenty feet. From thence the river
continues to be shallow, and requires great care to
prevent the bottom of the canoe from being injured
by sharp rocks, for a distance of three miles and
an half to the Priarie, or Meadow, when half the
lading is taken out, and carried by part of the crew,
while two of them are conducting the canoe among
the rocks, with the remainder, to the Carreboeuf
Portage, three miles and a half more, when they
unload,and come back two miles, and embark what
was left for the other hands to carry, which they
also land with the former; all of which is carried
six hundred and eighty paces, and the canoe led
up against the rapid. From hence the water is
better calculated to carry canoes, and leads by a
winding course to the North of West three miles
to the Outard Portage, over which the canoe,
and every thing in her, is carried for two thousand
four hundred paces. At the further end is a very
high hill to descend, over which hangs a rock upwards of seven hundred feet high. Then succeeds
the Outard Lake, about six miles long, lying in
a North-West course, and about 'two miles wide
in the broadest place.
After passing a very small rivulet, they come to
the Elk Portage, over which the canoe and lading are again carried one thousand one hundred
and twenty paces; when they enter the lake of the
same name, which is an handsome piece of water,
running North-West about four miles, and not OF THE FUR TRADE, fcc.
more than one mile and an half wide*. They then
land at the Portage de Cerise, over which, and in
the face of a considerable hill, the canoe and cargo
are again transported for one thousand and fifty
paces. This is only separated from the second Portage de Cerise, by a mud-pond (where there is
plenty of water lillies), of a quarter of a mile in
length; and this is again separated by a similar
pond, from the last Portage de Cerise, which is four
hundred and ten paces. Here the same operation is
to be performed for threehundred and eighty paces.
They next enter on the Mountain Lake, running
North-West by West six miles long, and about
two miles in its greatest breadth. In the centre of
this lake, and to the right is the Old Road, by
which I never passed, but an edequate notion may
be formed of it from the road I am going to describe, and which is universally preferred. This is
first, the small new portage over which every thing
is carried for six hundred and twenty-six paces,
over hills and gullies; the whole is then embarked
on a narrow line of water, that meanders South-
West about two miles and an half. It is necessary
to unload here, for the length of the canoe, and then
proceed West half a mile, to the new Grande Portage, which is three thousand one hundred paces in
length, and over very rough ground, which requires the utmost exertions of the men, and frequently lames them: from hence they approach the
Rose Lake, the portage of that name being opposite to the junction of the road from the Mountain Lake. They then embark on the Rose Lake,
about one mile from the East end of it, and
steer West by South, in an oblique course, across
it two miles^ then North-West passing the Petite Peche to  the Marten Portage three  miles.
* Here is a most excellent fishery for white fish, which are exquisite.
I '* i   )
In this part of the lake the bottom is mud and
slime, with about three or four feet of water
over it; and here I frequently struck a canoe
pole of twelve feet long, without meeting any
other obstruction than if the whole were water :
it has, however, a peculiar suction or attractive
power, so that it is difficult to paddle a canoe
over it. There is a small space along the South
shore, where the water is deep, and this effect is
not felt. In proportion to the distance from this
part, the suction becomes more powerful: I have,
indeed been told that loaded canoes have been in
danger of being swallowed up, and have only owed
their preservation to other canoes, which were
lighter. I have, myself, found it very difficult to
get away from this attractive power, with six men,
and great exertion, though we did not appear to
be in any danger of sinking.
Over against this is a very high, rocky ridge, on
the South side, called Marten Portage, which is
but twenty paces long, and separated from the
Perche Portage, which is four hundred and eighty
paces by a mud-pond, covered with white lillies.
From hence the course is on the lake of the same
name, West-South-West three miles to the height
of land, where the waters of the Dove or Pigeon
River terminate, and which is one of the sources
of the great St. Laurence in this direction. Having
carried the canoe and lading over it, six hundred
and seventy-nine paces, they embark on the
Jake of Hauteur de Terre*, which is in the
shape of an horse-shoe. It is entered near the
curve, and left at the exremity of the Western
* The route which we have been travelling hitherto, leads along the
high rocky land or bank of Lake Superior on the left. The face of the
country offers a wild scene of huge hills and rocks, separated by stony
vallies, lakes and ponds. Wherever there is the least soil, it is well covered with trees. OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
limb, through a very shallow channel, where the
canoe passes half loaded for thirty paces with the
current, which conducts these waters till they dis-
charge themselves, through the succeeding lakes
and rivers, and disembogues itself, by the river Nelson, into Hudson's-Bay. The first of these is
Lacde pierresa fusil, running West-South-West
seven miles long, and two wide, and making an
togle at North-West one mile more, becomes a river for half a mile, tumbling over a rock, and forming a fall and portage, called the Escalier, of fifty-
fire paces; but from hence it is neither lake or
river, but possesses the character of both, and runs
between large rocks, which cause a current
or rapid for about two miles and an half, West-
North-West, to the portage of the Chevaldu Bois.
Here the canoe and contents are carried three hundred and eighty paces, between rocks; and withfe
a quarter of a mile is the Portage des Gros Pins,
which is six hundred and forty paces over a high
ridge. The opposite side of it is washed by a
small lake three miles round; and the course is
through the East end or side of it, three quarters
of a mile North-East, where there is a rapid. An
irregular meandering channel, between rocky
banks, then succeeds, for seven miles and an half,
to the Maraboeuf Lake, wThich extends North four
miles, and is three quarters of a mile wide, terminating by a rapid and decharge of one hundred and
eighty paces, the rock of Saginaga being in sight,
which causes a fall of about seven feet, and a portage of fifty-five paces.
Lake Saginaga takes its name from its numerous
islands. Its greatest lensrth from East to West is
about fourteen miles, with very irregular inlets, is
no where more than three miles wide, and terminates at the small portage of Le Roche, of forty-
three paces.    From thence is a rocky, stony pas-
sage of one mile, to Priarie Portage, which is very
improperly named, as there is no ground about it
that answers to that description, except a small
spot at the embarking place at the West end : to
the East is an entire bog; and it is with great difficulty that the lading can be landed upon stages,
formed by driving piles into the mud, and spreading branches of trees over them. The portage
rises on a stony ridge, over which the canoe and
cargo must be carried for six hundred and eleven
paces. This is succeeded by an embarkation on
a small bay, where the bottom is the same as has
been described in the West end of Rose Lake, and
it is with great difficulty that a laden canoe is worked over it, but it does not comprehend more than
a distance of two hundred yards. From hence the
progress continues through irregular channels,
bounded by rocks, in a Westerly course for about
five miles, to the little Portage des Couteaux, of
one hundred and sixty-five paces, and the Lac des
Couteaux, running about South-West by West
twelves miles, and from a quarter to two miles
wide. A deep hay runs East three miles from the
West end, where it is discharged by a rapid river,
and after running two miles West, it again becomes still water. In this river are two carrying
places, the one fifteen, and the other one hundred
and ninety paces. From this to the Portage des
Carpes is one mile North-West, leaving a narrow
lake on the East that runs parallel with the Lac des
Couteaux, half its length, where there is a carrying-place, which is used when the water in the
river last mentioned is too low. The Portage des
Carpes is three hundred and ninety paces, from
whence the water spreads irregularly between
rocks, five miles North-West and South-East to
the Portage of Lac Bois Blanc, which is one hundred and eighty paces.    Then follows the lake of OF THE FUR TttADE, &c.
that name, but I think improperly so called, as the
natives name it the Lac Passeau Minac Sagaigan,
or lake of Dry Berries.
Before the small pox ravaged this country, and
completed, what the Nodowasis, in their warfare,
had gone far to accomplish, the destruction of its
inhabitants, the population was very numerous:
this was also a favourite part, where they made their
canoes, &c. the lake abounding in fish, the country round it being plentifully supplied with various
kinds of game, and the rocky ridges, that form the
boundaries of the water, covered with a variety of
When the French were in possession of this
country, they had several trading establishments
on the islands and banks of this lake. Since that
period, the few people remaining, who were of the
Algonquin nation, could hardly find subsistence;
game having become so scarce, that they depended
principally for food upon fish and wild rice, which
grows spontaneously in these parts.
This lake is irregular in its form, and its utmost
extent from East to West is fifteen miles; a point
of land, called Point aq Pin, jutting into it, divides
it in two parts : it then makes a second angle at
the West end, to the lesser Portage de Bois Blanc,
two hundred paces in length. This channel is
not wide, and is intercepted by several rapids in
the course of a mile : it runs West-North-West to
the Portage des Pins, over which the canoe and lading is again carried four hundred paces. From hence
the channel is also intercepted by very dangerous
rapids, for two miles Westerly, to the point of
Pointe du Bois, which is two hundred and eighty
paces. Then succeeds the portage of La Croche
one mile more, where the carrying-place is eighty
paces, and is followed by an embarkation on that
lake, which takes its name from its fierure.    It ex- •r   }   m. fv
i m
tends eighteen miles, in a meandering form, and
in a westerly direction ; it is in general very narrow, and at about two-thirds of its length becomes
very contracted, with a strong current.
Within three miles of the last Portage is a remarkable rock, with a smooth face, but split and
cracked in different parts, which hang over the
water. Into one of its horizontal chasms a great
number of arrows have been shot, which is said to
have been done by a war party of the Nadowasis
or Sieux, who had done much mischief in this
country, and left these weapons as a warning to
the Chebois or natives, that, notwithstanding its
lakes, rivers, and rocks, it wTas not inaccessible to
their enemies.
Lake Croche is terminated by the Portage de
Rideau, four hundred paces long, and derives its
name from the appearance of the water, falling
over a rock of upwards of thirty feet. Several
rapids succeed, with intervals of still water, for
about three miles to the Flacon portage, which is
very difficult, is four hundred paces long, and
leads to the Lake of La Croix, so named from its
shape. It runs about North-West eighteen miles
to the Beaver Dam, and then sinks into a deep bay
nearly East. The course to the Portage is West
by North for sixteen miles more from the Beaver
Dam, and into the East bay is a road which was
frequented by the French, and followed through
lakes and rivers until they came to Lake Superior
by the river Caministiquia, thirty miles East of
the Grand Portage.
Portage la Croix is six hundred paces long: to
the next portage is a quarter of a mile, and its
length is forty paces; the river winding four miles
to Vermillion Lake, which runs six or seven miles
North-North-West, and by a narrow strait communicates with Lake Namavcan, which takes its OF THE FUR TRADE, Sec.
name from a particular place at the foot of a fall,
where the natives spear sturgeon: Its course is
about North-North-West and South-South-East,
with a bay running East, that gives it the form of
a triangle: its length is about sixteen miles to the
Nouvelle Portage.
The discharge of the lake is from a bay on the left,
and the portage one hundred eighty paces, to which
succeeds a very small river, from whence there is
but a short distance to the next Nouvelle Portage,
three hundred and twenty paces long.    It is then
necessary to embark on a swamp, or overflowed
country, where wild rice grows in great abundance.    There is a channel or small river in the
centre of this swamp, which is kept with difficulty,
and runs South and North one mile and a half.
With deepening water, the course continuesNorth-
North-West one mile to the Chaudiere Portage,
which is caused by the discharge of the waters
running on the left of the road from Lake Namay-
can, which used to be the common route, but that
which I have described is the safest as well as
shortest. From hence there is some current though
the water is wide spread, and its course about
North by West three miles and an half to the Lac
de la Pluie, which lies nearly East and West; from
thence about fifteen miles is a narrow strait that
divides  the  lake  into two unequal parts, from
whence to its discharge is a distance of twenty-
four miles.    There is a deep bay running North-
West on the right, that is not included, and is remarkable for furnishing the natives with a kind of
soft, red stone, of which they make their pipes; it
also affords an excellent fishery both in the summer and winter; and from it is an easy, safe, and
short road to the Lac du Bois, (which I shall mention presently) for the Indians to pass in their small
canoes, through a small lake and on a small river,
i I HI
whose banks furnish abundance of wild rice. The
discharge of this lake is called Lac de la Pluie
River, at whose entrance there is a rapid below,
which is a fine bay, where there had been an extensive picketted fort and building when possessed by
the French: the site of it is at present a beautiful
meadow, surrounded with groves of oaks. From
hence there is a strong current for two miles,
where the water falls over a rock twenty feet, and,
from the consequent turbulence of the water, the
carrying-place, which is three hundred and twenty
paces long, derives the name of Chaudiere. Two
miles onward is the present trading establishment,
situated on an high bank on the North side of the
river, in 48. 37. North latitude.
Here the people from Montreal come to meet
those who arrive from the Athabasca country, as
has been already described, and exchange lading
with them. This is also the residence of the first
chief, or Sachem, of all the Algonquin tribes, inhabiting the different parts of this country. He is
by distinction called Nectam, which implies personal pre-eminence. Here also the elders meet in
council to treat of peace or war.
This is one of the finest rivers in the North-
West, and runs a course West and and East one
hundred and twenty computed miles; but in taking its course and distance minutely I make it only
eighty. Its banks are covered with a rich soil,
particularly to the North, which, in many parts,
are clothed with fine open groves of oak, with the
maple, the pine, and the cedar. The Southern
bank is not so elevated, and displays the maple, the
white birch, and the cedar, with the spruce, the alder, and various underwood. Its waters abound in
fish, particularly the sturgeon, which the natives
both spear and take with drag-nets. But notwithstanding the promise of this soil, the Indians do
iiiiW'T      r OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
not attend to its cultivation, though they are not
ignorant of the common process, and are fond of
the Indian corn, when they can get it from us.
Though the soil at the fort is a stiff clay, there
is a garden, which, unassisted as it is by manure,
or any particular attention, is tolerably productive.
We now proceed to mention the Lac du Bois,
into which this river discharges itself in latitude
49. North, and was formerly famous for the richness of its banks and waters, which abounded with
whatever was necessary to a savage life. The
French had several settlements in and about it;
but it might be almost concluded, that some fatal
circumstance had destroyed the game, as war and
the small pox had diminished the inhabitants, it
having been very unproductive in animals since
the British subjects have been engaged in travelling through it; though it now appears to be recovering its pristine state. The few Indians who
inhabit it, might live very comfortably, if they
were not so immoderately fond of spirituous liquors.
This lake is also rendered remarkable, in consequence of the Americans having named it as the
spot, from which a line of boundary, between them
and British America, was to run West, until it
struck the Mississippi: which, however, can
never happen, as the North-West part of the Lac
du Bois, is in latitude 49. 37. North, and longitude
94. 31. West, and the Northernmost branch of
the source of the Mississippi is in latitude 47. 38*
North, and longitude 95. 6. West, ascertained by
Mr. Thomson, astronomer to the North-West
Company, who was sent expressly for that purpose in the spring of 1798. He, in the same
year, determined the Northern bend of the Mis-
sisoury to be in latitude 47. 32. North, and longitude 101, 25. West; and, according to the Indian
a {   ;
accounts, it runs to the south of West, so that if
the Mississoury were even to be considered as
the Mississippi, no Western line could strike it.
It does not appear to me to be clearly determined what course the Line is to take, or from
what part of Lake Superior it strikes through the
country to the Lac du Bois: were it to follow the
principal waters to their source, it ought to keep
through Lake Superior to the River St. Louis, and
follow that river to its source; close to which is
the source of the waters falling into the river of
Lac la Pluie, which is a common route of the Indians to the Lac du Bois; the St. Louis passes
within a short distance of a branch of the Mississippi, where it becomes navigable for canoes.
This will appear more evident from consulting the
map*; and if the navigation of the Mississippi is
considered as of any consequence by this country,
from that part of the globe, such is the nearest wray
to 2*et at it.
But to return to our narrative. The Lac du
Bois is, as far as I could learn, nearly round, and
the canoe course through the centre of it among a
cluster of islands, some of which are so extensive
that they may be taken for the main land. The
reduced course would be nearly South and North.
But following the navigating course, I make the
distance seventy-five miles, though in a direct line
it would fall very short of that length. At about
two-thirds of it there is a small carrying-place,
when the water is low. The carrying-place out
of the Lake is on an island, and named Portage du
Rat, in latitude 49.37. North, and longitude 94.15.
West, it is about fifty paces long. The lake discharges itself at both ends of this island, and
forms the River Winipic, which is a large body of
water, interspersed with numerous islands, causing various channels and interruptions of portages OF T&E FUR TRADE, fcc.
and rapids. In some parts it has the appearance
of lakes, with steady currents^ I estimate its winding course to the Dalles eight miles; to the Grand
Decharge twenty-five miles and an half, which is
s^long carrying-place for the goods; from thence
to th£ little Decharge one mile and an half; to the
Terre Jaune Portage two miles and an half; then
to its galet seventy yards; two miles and three
quarters to the Terre Blanche, near which is a
fall of from four to five feet; three miles and an
half to Portage de L'Isle, where there is a trading-
$bst, and, about eleven miles, on the north shore3
a trading establishment, which is the road in
boats, to Albany River, and from thence to Hudson's Bay. There is also a communication with
Lake Superior, through what is called the Nipigan
country, which enters that Lake about thirty-five
leagues East of the Grande Portage. In short,
the country is so broken by lakes and rivers, that
people may find their way in canoes in any direction they please. It is now four miles to Portage
de L'Isle, which is but short, though several canoes have been lost in attempting to run the rapid.
From thence it is twenty-six miles to Jacob's
Falls, which are about fifteen feet high ; and six
miles and an half to the woody point; forty yards
from which is another Portage. They both form
an high fall, but not perpendicular. From thence
to another galet, or rocky Portage, is about two
miles, which is one continual rapid and cascade;
and about two miles further is the Chute a PEs-
clave, which is upward of thirty feet. The P03JI
tage is long, through a point covered with woojffe
it is six miles and an half more to the barrier, and
ten miles to the Grand Rapid. From thence, on
the North side, is a safe roadt when the waters
are high, through small rivers and lakes, to the
Lake du Bonnet, called the Pinnawas, from the
K IVlll
man who discovered it: to the White River, so
called from its being, for a considerable length, a
succession of falls and cataracts, is twelve miles.
Here are seven portages, in so short a space, that
the whole of them are discernible at the same moment. From this to Lake du Bonnet is fifteen
miles more, and four miles across it to the rapid.
Here the Pinnawas Road joins, and from thence it
is two miles to the Galet du Lac du Bonnet; from
this to the Galet du Bonnet one mile and an half;
thence to the Portage of the same name is three
miles. This portage is near half a league in length,
and derives its name from a custom the Indians
have of crowning stones, laid in a circle on the
highest rock in the portage, with wreaths of herbage and branches. There have been examples
of men taking seven packages of ninety pounc|i
each, at one end of the portage, and putting tl|em
down at the other without stopping.
To this another small portage immediately succeeds, over a roek producing a fall. From thence
I& the fall of Terre Blanche, is two miles and an
half; to the first portage Des Eaux qui Remuent
is threeAniles; to the next, of the same name, |p
but a few yards distant; to the third and last,
which is a Decharge, is three miles and an half;
and from this to the last Portage of the river, one
mile and an half; and to the estal^ashment, or provision house, is two miles and an half. Here also
the French had their principal inland depot, and
got their canoes made.
It is here that the present traders, going to
great distances, and where provision is difficult to
procure, receive a supply to carry them to the
Rainy Lake, or Lake Superior. From the establishment to the entrance of Lake Winipic, is four
miles and an half, latitude 50. 37. North.
\ €F THE FURr*TRADE, &c,
llfThe country, soil, produce, and climate, from
Lake Superior to this place, bear a general resemblance, with a predominance of rock and water:
the former is of the granite |und. Where there
is any soil it is well covered with wood, such as
oak, elm, ash of different kinds, maple of two
kinds, pines of various descriptions, among which
are what I call the cypress, with the Ifickory,
iron-wood, laird, poplar, cedar, black and white
birch, &c. &c. Vast quantities of wild rice are
seen throughout the country, which the nat^es
collect in the month of August for their winter
stores.* To the North of fifty degrees it is hardly
known, or at lept does not come to maturity.
Lake Winipic is the great reservoir of several
large rivers, and discharges itself by the River
Nelson into Hudson's Bay. The first in rotation,
next to that I have just described, is the Assini-
boin, or Red River, which at the distance of forty
miles coastwise, disembogues o%the south§west
side of the Lake Winipic. It alternately receives
those two denominations from its dividing, at the
distance of about thirty miles from the lake, into
two large branches. The Eastern branch, called
the! Red River, runs in a Southern direction to
near the head waters of the Mississippi. Qn|bis
are two trading establishments. The country on
either side is but partiilly supplied w#i wood, and
consistiof plains covered with herds of the buffalo
an| elk, especially on the Western side. On the
Eastern side are lakes and rivers, and the whole
country is well wooded, levels .abounding in beaver, bears, moose-deer, fallow deer, &c. &c. The
natives, who ar|of the Algonquin tribe, are not
very numerous, and are considered as the natives
* The fruits are, strawberries, hurtleberries, plumbs, and cherries, ha-
alenuts, gooseberries, currants, raspberries, poires, he.
■r, ;m-
\la Ix
of Lake Superior. This country b^ing near the
fltississippi, i| also inhabited by the Nadowisis,
J01O are the natural enemies of the former; the
he||d of |i|| water being the war-lineg thi|r are
in a||ontinual state of hostility; and though the
Algonquins are equally brave, the others generally
out-rfcmber them|f it is very probable, therefore,
iliat if the latter continue to ffenture oufr of tig^
woods, which form ffeeir only protection, theylfe^
soon be extirpafkd. sphere is not, perhaps, a finer
country in the world foM the residence of uncivilized man, than that which occupies the space be-
tweeit this river and Lake Superior. It abounds
in every thing necessary to the wants and comforts
of^uch a people. Fish,%enison, and fowl, with
wild rice, are in great plenty; while, at the same
time, theiS* subsistence requires that bodi||§^tfer-
cise so necessary to health and vigour.
This great extent otjNcountry was formerly very
populous, but from ttie information I feceived, the
aggregate of its inhabitants does not Exceed three
hundred warriors; and, among the few whom I
saw, it appeared to me that the widows were more
numerous than the men. The racoon is a native
of this country, but is seldom found to the Northward of it.
• ^|phe other branch is called after |fee tribe of the
Ifadowasis, who here go by tlfe name of Assini-
boins, and are the principal inhabitants of it. |l|f
runs fron|/ the north noilh-west, and in the latitude of 111. 15. West, .and longitude 103. 20.
rising in ^ie same mountains as the river Dauphin,
of which I shall speak in due order. They must
have separated from fheir nation at a tinfe beyond
pur knowledge, and llpe in peace writhe Algonquins and Knisteneaux/
The country between pis and thejlled Riier,
is almost a continual plain to the Missisoury.  The OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
§oil is sand and gravel, with a slight intermixture
of earth, and produces a short grass. Trees are
very rare ; nor are there on the banks of the river
sufficient, except in particJWar spots, to build
ho&ses and supply fire-wood for the trading establishments, of which there are four principal ones.
Both these rivers are navigable for canoes to their
source, without a fall; though in some parts there
ate rapids, caused by occasional beds of lime-
s&me, and gravel; but in general they have a sandy
The Assiniboins, and some of the Fall, or Big-
belfied Indians^ are the principal inhabitants of this
cototry, and boMer on the river, occupying the
cfentre part of il^ that next Lake Winipic, and
about its source, bring the station of the Algon-
qums and Knisteneaux, who have chosen it in
preference to their own country. They do not
exceed five hundred families. They are not beaver hunters, which accounts for their allowing the
division just mentioned, as the lower and upper
parts of this river have th^se animals, which are
not found#n thefintermediate district. They confine themselves to hunting the buffalo, and tfap-
jpttg' wolves|btrhich cover the country. What they
do not want of the former for raiment and food,
they sometimes make into |>emmican, or pounded
meat, while they melt Mie fat, and prepare she
skis® in their hair, for winter. The wolves they
nevei#aft, but produce a tallow from their fat, and
prepare their skins; all which they bring to exchange for arms and ammunition, rum, tobacco,
knives, and various baubles, with those who go to
traffic in their coufttrv.
The Algonquins, and the Knisteneaux, on the
contrary, attend 4o the fur-hunting, so that they
acquire the additional articles of cloth, blankets,
ft ml
fee. but their passion for riim often puts it out of
their power to supply themselves with real necessaries.
^rfthe next river of magnitude is the river Dauphin, which empties itself at the head of St.
Martin's Bay, on the West side of the Lake Winipic, latitude nearly 52. 15. North, taking its source
in the same mountains as the last-mentioned river,
as well as the Swan and Red-Deer rivers, the latter passing through the lake of the same name, as
well as the former, and both continuing their course
through the Manitoba Lake, which, from thence,
runs parallel with Lake Winipic, to within nirf
miles of the Red River, and by what is called the
river Dauphin, disembogues its waters, as already
descAbed into that lake. These rivers are very
rapid, and interrupted by falls, &c. the bed being
generally rocky. All this country, to the South
branch of the Saskatchiwine, abounds in beaver,
moose-deer, fallow-deer, elks, bears, buffaloes,
Sec. The soil is good and wherever, any attempts
have been made to raise the esculent plants, &c.
k has been found productive.
On these waters are three principal forts for
trade. Fort Dauphin, which was established by
the French before the conquest. RedlOeer River, and Swan-River Forts, with occasional detached posts from these. The inhabitants are the
Knisteneaux, from the North of Lake Winipic;
and Algonquins from the country between the
Red River and Lake Superior; and some from the
Rainy Lake: but as they are not fixed inhabitants,
their number cannot be determined: they do not,
however, at any time exceed two hundred warriors. In general they are good hunters. There is
no other considerable r^rer except the Saskatchiwine, which I shall mention presently, that empties itself into the Lake Winipic. OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
Those on the North side are inconsiderable,
owing to the comparative vicinity of the high
land that separates the waters coming this way,
from those discharging into Hudson's Bay. The
course of the lake is abo^t West North-West and
South South-East, and the East end of it is in 50.
37. North, It contracts at about a quarter of its
length to a strait, in latitude 51. 45. and is no more
than two miles broad, where the South shore is
gained through islands, and crossing various bays
to the dischargegof the Saskatchiwine, in latitude
53. 15. This lake, in common with those of this
country, is bounded on the North with banks of
black and grey rock, and on tl|e South by a low
level country, occasionally interrupted with a ridge
or bank of lime-stones, lying in stratas, and rising
to the perpendicular height of from twjnty to forty
feet; these are covered wit^a small quantity of
earth, forming a level surface, which bears timber,
but of a moderate growth, and declines to a swamp.
Where the banks are low, it is evident in many
places that the waters are withdrawn, and never
rise to those heights which were formerly washed
by them.
The inhabitants who are found along this lake
are of the Knist|beaux and Algonquin tribes, and
but few in number, though g^me is not scarce,
and there is fish in great abundance. The black
bass is found there, and no further West; and beyond it no  maple trees are seen, either hard or
soft.    , \  ;; , .■ .y.fc \    ". ,.   .
On entering the Saskatchiwine, in the course of
a few miles, the great rapid interrupts the passage.
It is about three miles long. Through the greatest part of it the canoe is towed, half g| full laden,
according to the state of the waters: the canoe and
its contents are then carried one thousand one
hundred paces,.    The channel here is near a mile
mi bar
wride, the waters tumbling over ridges of rocks
that traverse the river. The South bank is very
high, rising upwards of fifty feet, of the same rock
as seen on the South ||de of the Lake Winijtie,
and the North is not more than a third of that
height. There is an excellent sturgeon-fishery at
the foot of this cascade, and vast numbers of pelicans, cormorants, &c. frequent it, where they
Watch to seize the fish that may be killed or disabled by the force of the waters.
About two miles from this Portage the navigation is again interrupted by the Portage of the
Roche Rouge, which is an hundred yards long;
and a mile and an half from thence the river is barred by a range of islands, forming rapids between
them; and through these it is the same distance
to the rapid of Lake Travers, which is four miles
right across* and eight miles in length. Then succeeds thef Grande Decharge, and several rapids,
for four miles to the CedarfLake, which is entered through a small channel on the left, formed by
an island, as going round it would occasion l$>ss iff/
time. In this distance banks of rocks (such as have
already been described) appear at intervals on
either side ; the rest of the country is low. This
is the case along the South bank of the lake and
the islands, while the North side, which is very
uncommon, is level throughout. This lake runs
first West four miles, then as much more West
South-West, across a deep bay on the right, then
six miles to the Point de Lievre, and across another bay again on the right; then North-West
eight miles, across a still deeper bay on the righ|$g
and seven miles parallel with the North coast,
North North-West through § islands, five miles
more to Fort-Bourbon,* situated on a small isliad,
dividing this from Mud-Lake.
* TMs was a?so a principal post of the French, who gave it its name.
'v-X^WWBb- . ;r^
The Cedar Lake is from four to twelve miles
wide, exclusive of the bays. Its banks are covered
with wood, and abound in game, and its waters
produce plenty of fish, particularly the sturgeon.
The Mud Lake, and the neighbourhood of the Fort
Bourbon, abound with geese, ducks, swans, &c.
and was formerly remarkable for a vast number of
martens, of which it cannot now boast but a very
small proportion.
The Mud-Lake must have formerly been a part
of the Cedar Lake, but the immense quantity of
earth and sand, brought down by the Saskatchiwine, has filled up this part of it for a circumference whose diameter is at least fifteen or twenty
miles : part of which space is still covered with a
few feet of water, but the greatest proportion is
shaded with large trees, such as the liard, the
swamp-ash, and the willow. This land consists of
many islands, which consequently form various
channels, several of which are occasionally dry, and
bearing young wood. It is, indeed, more than
probable that this river will, in the course of time,
convert the whole of the Cedar Lake into a forest.
To the North-West the cedar is not to be found.
From this lake the Saskatchiwine may be considered as navigable to near its sources in the rocky
mountains, for canoes, and without a carrying-
place, making a great bend to Cumberland House,
on Sturgeon Lake. From the confluence of its
North and South branches its course is Westerly;
spreading itself, it receives several tributary
streams, and encompasses a large tract of country,
which is level, particularly along the South branch,
but is little known. Beaver, and other animals,
whose furs are valuable, are amongst the inhabitants of the North-West branch, and the plains are
covered with buffalos, wolves, and small foxes;
particularly about the South branch, which, how-
ever, has of late claimed some attention, as it is now
understood, that where the plains terminate towards the rocky mountain, there is a space of hilly
country clothed with wood, and inhabited also by
animals of the fur kind. This has been actually
determined to be the case towards the head of the
North branch, where the trade has been carried to
about the latitude 54 North, and longitude 114. 30.
West. The bed and banks of the latter, in some
few places, discover a stratum of free-stone; but,
in general, they are composed of earth and sand.
The plains are sand and gravel, covered with fine
grass, and mixed with a small quantity of vegetable
earth. This is particularly observable along the
North branch, the West side of which is covered
with wood.
There are on this river five principal factories
for the convenience of trade with the natives. Ne-
pawi House, South-branch House, Fort-George
House, Fort-Augustus House, and Upper Establishment. There have been many others, which,
from various causes, have been changed for these,
while there are occasionally others depending on
each of them.
The inhabitants, from the information I could
obtain, are as follow:
At Nepawi and South-Branch-House, about
thirty tents of Knisteneaux, or ninety warriors ;
and sixty tents of Stone Indians, or Assiniboins,
who are their neighbours, and are equal to two
hundred men: their hunting ground extends upwards to about the Eagle Hills. Next to them are
those who trade at Forts George and Augustus,
and are about eighty tents or upwards of Knisteneaux : on either side of the river, their number
may be two hundred. In the same country are
one hundred and forty tents of Stone Indians: not
quite half of them inhabit the West woody coun-
i  & «*k
-   ig^LU
trv; the others never leave the plains, and their
numbers cannot be less than four hundred and fifty
men. At the Southern Head-waters of the North-
branch dwells a tribe called Sarsees, consisting of
about thirty-five tents, or one hundred and twenty
men. Opposite to those Eastward, on the headwaters of the South Branch, are the Picaneaux, to
the number of from twelve to fifteen hundred men.
Next to them, on the same water, are the Blood-
Indians, of the same nation as the last, to the number of about fifty tents, or two hundred and fifty
men. From them downwards extend the Black -
Feet Indians, of the same nation as the two last
tribes : their number may be eight hundred men.
Next to them, and who extend to the confluence of
the South and North branch, are the Fall, or Big-
bellied Indians, who may amount to about six
hundred warriors.
Of all these different tribes, those who inhabit
the broken country on the North-West side, and
the source of the North branch, are beaver-hunters ; the others deal in provisions, wolf, buffalo,
and fox skins; and many people on the South
branch do not trouble themselves to come near the
trading establishments. Those who do, choose
such establishments as are next to their country.
The Stone-Indians here, are the same people as
the Stone-Indians, or Assiniboins, who inhabit
the river of that name already described, and both
are detached tribes from the Nadowasis, who inhabit the Western side of the Mississippi, and
lower part of the Missisoury. The Fall, or Big-
bellied Indians, are from the South-Eastward also,
and of a people who inhabit the plains from the
North bend of the last mentioned river, latitude
47. 32. North, longitude 101. 25. West, to the
South bend of the Assiniboin River, to the number of seven hundred men.    Some of them occa-
m lxviii
sionally come to the latter river toexchange dressed
buffalo robes, and bad wolf-skins for articles of no
great value.
The Picaneaux, Black-Feet, and Blood-Indians,
are a distinct people, speak a language of their*
own, and, I have reason to think, are travelling
North-West, as well as the others just mentioned:
nor have I heard of any Indians with whose language that which they speak has any affinity.—
They are the people who deal in horses, and take
them upon the war-parties towards Mexico ; from
which, it is evident, that the country to the South-
East of them, consists of plains, as those animals
could not well be conducted through an hilly and
woody country, intersected by waters.
The Sarsees, who are but few in number, appear
from their language, to come on the contrary from
the North-West, and are of the same people as the
Rocky-Mountain Indians described in my second
journal, who are a tribe of the Chepewyans; and,
as for the Knisteneaux, there is no question of their
having been, and continuing to be, invaders of this
country, from the Eastward. Formerly,they struck
terror into all the other tribes whom they met; but
now they have lost the respect that was paid them ;
as those whom they formerly considered as barbarians, are now their allies, and consequently become better acquainted with them, and have acquired the use of fire-arms. The former are still
proud without power, and affect to consider the
others as their inferiors: those consequently are
extremely jealous of them, and, depending upon
their own superiority in numbers, will not submit
tamely to their insults; so that the consequences
often prove fatal, and the Knisteneaux are thereby
decreasing both in power and number : spirituous
liquors also tend to their diminution, as they are
instigated thereby to engage in quarrels which fre-
1 r iff
quently   have   the   most disastrous termination
among themselves.
The Stone-Indians must not be considered in
the same point of view respecting the Knisteneaux,
for they have been generally obliged, from various
causes, to court their alliance. They, however,
are not without their disagreements, and it is sometimes very difficult to compose their differences.
These quarrels occasionally take place with the
traders, and sometimes have a tragical conclusion.
They generally originate in consequence of stealing women and horses: they have great numbers
of the latter throughout their plains, which are
brought, as has been observed, from the Spanish
settlements in Mexico; and many of them have
been seen even in the back parts of this country,
branded with the initials of their original owners
names. Those horses are distinctly employed as
beasts of burden, and to chase the buffalo. The
former are not considered as being of much value,
as they may be purchased for a gun, which costs
no more than twenty-one shillings inGreat-Britain.
Many of the hunters cannot be purchased with ten,
the comparative value of which exceeds the property of any native.
Of these useful animals no care whatever is taken, as when they are no longer employed, they
are turned loose winter and summer to provide
for themselves. Here, it is to be observed, that
the country, in general, on the West and North
side of this great river, is broken by the lakes and
rivers with small intervening plains, where the
soil is good, and the grass grows to some length.
To these the male buffalos resort for the winter,
and if it be very severe, the females also are obliged to leave the plains.
But to return to the route by which the progress
West and North is made through this continent.
1 *Il
-:—— Ixx
We leave the Saskatchiwine* by entering the
river which forms the discharge of the Sturgeon
Lake, on whose East bank is situated Cumberland house, in latitude 53. 56. North, longitude
102. 15. The distance between the entrance and
Cumberland house is estimated at twenty miles.
It is very evident that the mud which is carried
down by the Saskatchiwine River, has formed
the land that lies between it and the lake, for the
distance of upwards of twenty miles in the line of
the river, which is inundated during one half of
the summer, though covered with wood. This
lake forms an irregular horse-shoe, one side of
which runs to the North-West, and bears the
name of Pine-Island Lake, and the other known
by the name already mentioned, runs to the East
of North, and is the largest: its length is about
twenty-seven miles, and its greatest breadth about
six miles. The North side of the latter is the
same kind of rock as that described in Lake Winipic, on the West shore. In latitude 54. 16.
North, the Sturgeon-Weir River discharges itself
into this lake, and its bed appears to be of the
same kind of rock, and is almost a continual rapid, Its direct course is about West by North,
and with its windings, is about thirty miles. It
takes its waters into the Beaver Lake, the South-
West side of which consists of the same rock lying in thin stratas : the route then proceeds from
island to island for about twelve miles, and along
the North shore, for four miles more, the whole
being a North-West course to the entrance of a
river, in latitude 54. 32. North.    The lake, for
* It may be proper to observe, that the French had two settlements
upon the Saskatchiwine, long before, and at the conquest of Canada;
the first at the Pasquia, near Carrot River, and the other at Nipawi,
where they had agricultural instruments and wheel carriages, marks of
both being found about those establishments, where the soil is excellent. -»*-
this distance, is about four or five miles wide, and
abounds with fish common to the country. The
part of it upon the right of that which has been
described, appears more considerable. The islands are rocky, and the lake itself surrounded by
rocks. The communication from hence to the
Bouleau Lake, alternately narrows into rivers and
spreads into small lakes. The interruptions are,
the Pente Portage, which is succeeded by the
Grand Rapid, where there is a Decharge, the Carp
Portage, the Bouleau Portage in latitude 54. 50.
North, including a distance, together with the
windings, of thirty-four miles, in a Westerly direction. The Lake de Bouleau then follows. This
lake might with greater propriety, be denominated a canal, as it is not more than a mile in breadth.
Its course is rather to the East of North for twelve
miles to Portage de L'Isle. From thence there is
still water to Portage d'Epinettes, except an adjoining rapid. The distance is not more than four
miles Westerly. After crossing this Portage, it
is not more than two miles to Lake Miron, which
is in latitude 55. 7. North. Its length is about
twelve miles, and its breadth irregular, from two
to ten miles. It is only separated from Lake du
Chitique, or Pelican Lake, by a short, narrow,
and small strait. That lake is not more than seven miles long, and its course about North-West.
The Lake des Bois then succeeds, the passage to
which is through small lakes, separated by falls
and rapids. The first is a Decharge : then follow
the three galets, in immediate succession. From
hence Lake des Bois runs about twenty-one miles.
Its course is South-South-East, and North-North-
West, and is full of islands. The passage continues through an intricate, narrow, winding, and
shallow channel for eight miles. The interruptions in this distance are frequent, but depend «*«*
I 1
much on the state of the waters. Having passed
them, it is necessary to cross the Portage de
Traite, or, as it is called by the Indians, Athiqui-
sipichigan Ouinigam, or the Portage of the
Stretched Frog-Skin, to the Missinipi. The waters already described discharge themselves into
Lake Winipic, and augment those of the river
Nelson. These which we are now entering are
called the Missinipi, or great Churchill River.
All the country to the South and East of this,
within the line of the progress that has been described, is interspersed by lakes, hills, and rivers,
and is full of animals, of the fur-kind, as well as
the moose-deer. Its inhabitants are the Knisteneaux Indians, who are called by the servants of
the Hudson's Bay Company, at York, their home-
The traders from Canada succeeded for several
years in getting the largest proportion of their furs,
till the year 1793, when the servants of that company
thought proper to send people amongst them, (and
why they did not do it before is best known to
themselves), for the purpose of trade, and securing their credits, which the Indians were apt to
forget. From the short distance they had to come,
and the quantity of goods they supplied, the trade
has, in a great measure, reverted to them, as the
merchants from Canada could not meet them upon
equal terms. What added to the loss of the latter,
was the murder of one of their traders, by the Indians, about this period. Of these people not
above eighty men have been known to the traders
from Canada, but they consist of a much greater
The Portage de Traite, as has been already
hinted, received its name from Mr. Joseph Fro-
bisher, who penetrated into this part of the country from Canada, as early as the years 1774 and
-^5*, OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
1775, where he met with the Indians in the spring,
on their way to Churchill, according to annual
custom, with their canoes full of valuable furs.
They traded with him for as many of them as his
canoes could carry, and in consequence of this
transaction, the Portage received and has since retained its present appellation. He also denominated these waters the English River. The Missinipi, is the name which it received fronVJhe
Knisteneaux, when they first came to this country,
and either destroyed or drove back the natives,
whom they held in great contempt, on many accounts, but particularly for their ignorance in
hunting the beaver, as well as in preparing, stretching, and drying the skins of those animals. And
as a sign of their derision, they stretched the skin
of a frog, and hung it up at the Portage. This
was, at that time, the utmost extent of their conquest or warfaring progress West, and is in latitude 55. 25. North, and longitude 103. 45. West,
The river here, which bears the appearance of a
lake, takes its name from the Portage, and is full
of islands. It runs from East to West about sixteen miles, and is from four to five miles broad.
Then succeed falls and cascades which form what
is called the grand rapid. From thence there is a
succession of small lakes and rivers, interrupted
by rapids and falls, viz. the Portage de Bareel, the
Portage de L'Isle, and that of the Rapid River.
The course is twenty miles from East-South-East
to North-North-West. The Rapid-River Lake
then runs West five miles, and is of an oval form.
The rapid river is the discharge of Lake la Ronge,
where there has been an establishment for trade
from the year 1782. Since the small pox ravaged
these parts, there have been but few inhabitants ;
these are of the Knisteneaux tribe, and do not
exceed thirty men.    The direct navigation con-
\m M
tinues to be through rivers and canals, interrupted by rapids ; and the distance to the first De-
charge is four miles, in a Westerly direction.
Then follows Lake de la Montagne, which runs
South-South-West three miles and an half, then
North six miles, through narrow channels, forrri-
ed by islands, and continues North-North-West
five miles, to the portage of the same name, which
is no sooner crossed, than another appears in
sight, leading to the Otter Lake, from whence it
is nine miles Westerly to the Otter Portage, in
latitude 55. 39. Between this and the Portage du
Diable, are several rapids, and the distance three
miles and an half. Then succeeds the lake of the
same name, running from South-East to North-
West, five miles, and West four miles and an
half.       '     ' j§,   :||j
There is then a succession of small lakes, rapids, and falls, producing the Portage des Ecors,
Portage du Galet, and Portage des Morts, the
whole comprehending a distance of six miles, to
the lake of the latter name. On the left side is a
point covered with human bones, the relics of the
small pox ; which circumstance gave the Portage
and the lake this melancholy denomination. Its
course is South-West fifteen miles, while its
breadth does not exceed three miles. From thence
a rapid river leads to Portage de Hallier, which is
followed by Lake de L'Isle d'Ours: it is, however, improperly called a lake, as it contains frequent impediments amongst its islands, from rapids. There is a very dangerous one about the
centre of it, which is named the Rapid qui ne parle
point, or that never speaks, from its silent whirlpool-motion. In some of the whirlpools the suction is so powerful, that they are carefully avoided. At some distance from the silent rapid, is a
narrow strait, where the Indians have painted red
figures on the face of a rock, and where it was their
custom formerly to make an offering of some of
the articles which they had with them, in their
way to and from Churchill. The course in this
lake, which is very meandering, may be estimated at thirty-eight miles, and is terminated by the
Portage du Canot Tourner, from the danger to
which those are subject who venture to run this
rapid. From thence a river of one mile and an
half North-West course leads to the Portage de
Bouleau, and in about half a mile to Portage des
Epingles, so called from the sharpness of its stones.
Then follows the Lake des Souris, the direction
across which is amongst islands, North-West by
West six miles. In this traverse is an island, which
is remarkable for a very large stone, in the form of
a bear, on which the natives have painted the head
and snout of that animal; and here they also were
formerly accustomed to offer sacrifices. This lake
is separated only by a narrow strait from the Lake
du Serpent, which runs North-North-West seven
miles, to a narrow channel, that connects it with
another lake, bearing the same name, and running
the same course for eleven miles, when the rapid
of the same denomination is entered on the West
side of the lake. It is to be remarked here, that
for about three or four miles on the North-West
side of this lake, there is ah high bank of clay and
sand, clothed with cypress trees, a circumstance
which is not observable on any lakes hitherto mentioned, as they are bounded, particularly on the
North, by black and grey rocks. It may also be
considered as a most extraordinary circumstance,
that the Chepewyans, go North-West from hence
to the barren grounds,which are their own country,
without the assistance of canoes; as it is well
known that in every other part which has been
described, from Cumberland House, the country «
is broken on either side of the direction to a great
extent: so that a traveller could not go at right
angles with any of the waters already mentioned,
without meeting with others in every eight or ten
miles. This will also be found* to be very miteh
the case in proceeding to Portage la Loche.
The last mentioned rapid is upwards of three
miles long, North-West by West; there is, however, no carrying, as the line and poles are sufficient to drag and set the canoe against the currents
Lake Croche is then crossediin a Westerly direction of six miles, though its whole length may be
twice that distance: after which it contrasts to a
river that runs Westerly for ten miles, when it
forms a bend, which is left to the South, and entering a portion of its waters called the Grass
River,  whose  meandering  course is- about six;
miles, but in a direct line not more than half that
length, where it receives its water&from the great
river, which then runs Westerly eleven miles before it forms the Knee Lake, whose direction is to
the North of West.    It is full of islands for eighteen miles, and its greatest not
more than five miles.    The portage of the same
name is several hundred yards long, and over large
stones.    Its latitude is 55. 50. and longitude 106.
30.    Two miles further North is the commencement of the Croche Rapid, which is a succession
of cascades for about three miles, making a bend
due South to the Lake du Primeau, whose course
is various, and through islands, to the distance of
about fifteen miles.    The banks of this lake are
low, stony, and marshy, whose grass* and rushes
afford shelter and food to great numbers of wild
fowl.    At its Western extremity is Portage la
Puise, from whence the river takes a meandering
course, widening and contracting at intervals, and
is much interrupted by rapids.    After a Westerly
course o£ twenty miiesir it reaches Portage Pellets
From hence, in the course of seven miles, are
three rapids, tb which succeeds the Shagoina
Lake, which may be eighteen miles in circumference. Then Shagoina strait and rapid lead into
the Lake of Isle a la Crosse, in which the course
is South twentyI^Bftiles, and Si>uth- South-Wesi
fourteen miles, to the Point au Sable; opposite to
which is the discharge of the Beaver-River, bearing South six miles: the lake in the distance run,
does not exceed twelvemiles in its greatest breadth.
It now turns West-Somth-West, the Isle a la Crosse
being on the South, and the main land on the
North; and it clears the one and the other in the
distance of three miles, the water presenting an
open horizon to right and left; that on the left
formed by a deep narrow bay, about ten leagues
in depth; and that to the right by what is called
la Riviere Creuse, or Deep River, being a canal of
still water, which is here four miles wide. On
following the last course, Isle a la Crosse Fort appears on a low isthmus, at the distance of five
miles, and is in latitude 55. 25. North, and longitude 107. 48. West. § §
This lake and fort take their names from the
island just mentioned, which, as has been already
observed, received its denomination from the game
of the cross, which forms a principal amusement
among the natives.
The situation of this lake, the abundance of the
finest fish in the world to be found in its waters,
the richness of its surrounding banks and forests,
in moose and fallow deer, with the vast numbers
of the smaller tribes of animals, whose skins are
precious, and the numerous flocks of wild fowl
that frequent it in the spring and fall, make it a
most desirable spot for the constant residence of
some, and the occasional rendezvous of others of
% ■BW^SfWwag—
the inhabitants of the country, particularly of the
Who the original people were that were driven
from it, when conquered by the Knisteneaux is
not now known, as not a single vestige remains of
them. The latter, and the Chepewyans, are the
only people that have been known here ; and it is
evident that the last-mentioned consider themselves
as strangers, and seldom remain longer than three
or four years, without visiting their relations and
friends in the barren grounds, which they term
their native country. They were for some time
treated by the Knisteneaux as enemies ; who now
allow them to hunt to the North of the track which
has been described, from Fort du Traite upwards,
but when they occasionally meet them, they insist
on contributions, and frequently punish resistance
with their arms. This is sometimes done at the
forts, or places of trade, but then it appears to be
a voluntary gift. A treat of rum is expected on
the occasion, which the Chepewyans on no other
account ever purchase; and those only who have
had frequent intercourse with the Knisteneaux
have any inclination to drink it.
When the Europeans first penetrated into this
country, in 1777, the people of both tribes were
numerous, but the small pox was fatal to them all,
so that there does not exist of the one, at present,
more than forty resident families ; and the other
has been from about thirty to two hundred families. These numbers are applicable to the constant and less ambitious inhabitants, who are satisfied with the quiet possession of a country affording, without risk or much trouble, every thing
necessary to their comfort; for since traders have
spread themselves over it, it is no more the rendezvous of the errant Knisteneaux, part of whom
used annually to return thither from the country m
of the Beaver River, which they had explored to
its course in their war and hunting excursions,
and as far as the Saskatchiwine, where they sometimes met people of their own nation, who had
prosecuted similar conquests up that river. In
that country they found abundance of fish and animals, such as have been already described, with
the addition of the bufialos, who range in the partial patches of meadow scattered along the rivers
and lakes. From thence they returned in the
spring to their friends whom they had left; and, at
the same time met with others who had penetrated
with the same designs, into the Athabasca country, which will be described hereafter.
The spring was the period of this joyful meeting, when their time was occupied in feasting,
dancing, and other pastimes, which were occasionally suspended for sacrifice, and religious solemnity : while the narratives of their travels, and
the history of their wars, amused and animated
the festival. The time of rejoicing was but short,
and was soon interrupted by the necessary preparations for their annual journey to Churchill, to
exchange their furs for such European articles as
were now become necessary to them. The shortness of the seasons, and the great length of their
way requiring the utmost dispatch, the most active men of the tribe, with their youngest women,
and a few of their children undertook the voyage,
under the direction of some of their chiefs, following the waters already described, to their discharge at Churchill Factory, which are called, as
has already been observed, the Missinipi, or Great
Waters. There they remained no longer than
was sufficient to barter their commodities, with
a supernumerary day or two to gratify themselves with the indulgence of spirituous liquors.
At the same time the inconsiderable quantity they ixxx
"     '. -     f
could purchase to carry away wifli them, for a regale with their friends, was heM sacred, amd reserved to heighten the enjoyment off thtir return
home, when the amusements, festivity, and religious solemnities of die spring $rare repeated.
The usual tiMe appropriated te these conviviali*
ties being completed, they jsepaisated, to pursue
their different objects; and if they (were determined to go io war, they made the necessary iar*
rangements for their future operations, j
But we must now renew the progress erf the
route. It is not more than two miles from Isle a
la -Crosse Fort, to a point of land which forms
a cheek of that part of the lake called the Riviere
Creuse, which preserves the breadth already mentioned for upwards of twenty miles; than contracts to about two, for the distance of ten miles
more, when it opea&s to Lake Clear, which is
very wide, and commands an open horizon, keeping the West shore for six miles. The whoJa
pff$he distance mentioned is about North West,
when, by a narrow, crooked channel, turning
to the South of West, the entry is made into
Lake du Boeuf, which is contracted near the middle, by a projecting sandy point; independent of
which it may be described as from six to twelve
miles in breadth, thirty-six miles long, and in a
North-West direction. At the North-West end,
in latitude 56. 8. it receives ttSbe waters of the river la Loche, which, in the fall of the year, is
very shallow, and navigated with difficulty even
by half-laden canoes. Its water is not sufficient
to form strong rapids, though from its rocky bottom the canoes are frequently in considerable danger. Including its meanders, the course of this
river may be computed at twenty-four miles, and
receives its first waters from the lake of the same
name, which is about twenty miles long, and s}x
ua^m OF THE FUR TRADE, &e.
wide; into which a small river flows, sufficient to
be&r l^&ded canoes, for about a mile and an half,
wher^the navigation ceases ; and the canoes, with
their lading, are carried over the Portage la Loche
for thirteen nifties.
Tffig gWlagfe is the ridge that divides the
waters which disfefi&rge themselves into Hudson's
Ba^,- from those tBMt flow into the Northern ocean,
and ii in tfee Mitudfe 56. 20. and longitude 109.
15. W£s& It runs South West until it loses its
lcftM height between the Saskatchiwine and Elk
Rif d&; close oil the fe$frk of the former, in latitude 53. &6. Nortfh, and longitude 113. 45. West,
it may be traced in an Easterly direction toward
latitude 58. §g| North, and longitude 103f. West,
when it appears to take its course due North, and
l&ay probdSMy reach the Frozen Seas.
From Lake le Sour is, the banks of the rivers
and lakes display a smaller portion of solid rock.
The land is low and stony, intermixed with a
light, sandy soil, and clothed with wood. That
of the Beaver River is of a more productive quality : M# no part of it has ever been cultivated by
the natives or Europeans, except a small garden
at the Isle a la Crosse, which well repaid the labour bestowed upon it.
The Portage la Loche is of a level surface, in
sortie parts abounding with stories, but in general
it fe an entire sand, and covered with the cypress,
the pine, the spruce fir, and other trees natural to
its soil. Within three miles- of the North-West
termination, there is a small round lake, whose
diameter does not exceed a mile, and which affords a trifling respite to the labour of carrying.
Within a mile of the termination of the Portage
is a very steep precipice, whose ascent and descent appears to be equally impracticable in any
way, as it consists of a succession of eight hills,
•:C IxxxH
1 h»
some of"which are almost perpendicular; nevertheless, the Canadians contrive to surmount all
these difficulties, even with their canoes and lading.
This precipice, which rises upwards of a thousand feet above the plain beneath it, commands a
most extensive, romantic, and ravishing prospect.
From thence the eye looks down on the course of
the little river, by some called the Swan river,
and by others, the Clear-Water and Pelican river,
beautifully meandering for upwards of thirty miles.
The valley, which is at once refreshed and adorned by it, is about three miles in breadth, and is
confined by two lofty ridges of equal height, displaying a most delightful intermixture of wood
and lawn, and stretching on till the blue mist obscures the prospect.    Some parts of the inclining
heights are covered with stately forests, relieved
by promontories of the finest verdure, where the
elk and buffalo find pasture.    These are contrasted
by spots where fire has destroyed the woods, and
left a dreary void behind it.    Nor, when I beheld
this wonderful display of uncultivated nature, was
the moving scenery of human occupation wanting
to complete the picture.    From this elevated situation, I beheld my people, diminished, as it were,
to half their size, employed in pitching their tents
in a charming meadow, and among the canoes,
which, v being turned upon their sides, presented
their reddened bottoms in contrast with the surrounding verdure.    At the same time, the process
of gumhiing them produced numerous small spires
of smoke, which, as  they  rose,   enlivened the
scene, and at length blended with the larger columns that ascended from the fires where the suppers were preparing.    It was in the month of September when I enjoyed a scene, of which I do not
presume to give an adequate description i and as OF THE FUR TRADE, Sec.
it was the rutting season of the elk, the whistling
of that animal was heard in all the variety which
the echoes could afford it.
This river, which waters and reflects such enchanting scenery, runs, including its windings,
upwards of eighty miles, when it discharges itself
in the Elk River, according to the denomination
of the natives, but commonly called by the white
people, the Athabasca River, in latitude 56. 42.
At a small distance from Portage la Loche, several carrying-places interrupt the navigation of the
river; about the middle of which are some mineral springs, whose margins are covered with sulphureous incrustations. At the junction or fork,
the Elk River is about three quarters of a mile in
breadth, and runs in a steady current, sometimes
contracting, but never increasing its channel, till,
after receiving several small streams, it discharges
itself into the Lake of the Hills, in latitude 58. 36.
North. At about twenty-four miles from the
Fork, are some bitumenous fountains, into which
a pole of twenty feet long may be inserted without
the least resistance. The bitumen is in a fluid
state, and when mixed with gum, or the resinous
substance collected from the spruce fir, serves to.
gum the canoes. In its heated state it emits a
smell like that of sea-coal. The banks of the
river, which are there very elevated, discover
veins of the same bitumenous quality. \ At a small
distance from the Fork, houses have been erected
for the convenience of trading with a party of the
Knisteneaux, who visit the adjacent country for
the purpose of hunting.
At the distance of about forty miles from the
lake, is the Old Establishment, which has been
already mentioned, as formed by Mr. Pond in the
year 1778-9, and which was the only one in this
—^-^ ?n
part of the world, till the yegr 178£. Jn the yea#
1788, it was transferred to the Lake of the Billp,
and formed on a point qn its Southern si(J§, at
about eight miles from the dinghifge. of the river.
It was named Fort Chepewyan, and is in Jatiti&lg
58. 38. North, longitude 110. 36. Wf'tt* $&d
much better situated for trade and fishing, as the
people here have recourse t@ water fpr their ^p^
This being the place which I made my.fegd-
quarters for eight years, and frojn whf£n§§ I took
my departure, qn both niy expeditions, I shall giv®
some account of it, with the manner of carrying oft
the trade there, and Qther circumstances connected
with it.
The laden canoes \v|y[eh leave Lake 1$ Pluifc
about the first of August, <Jp not arrive here till
the latter end of Sept§B$ber, or the beginning of
October, when a necessary proportion of them is
dispatched up the Peace River to trade with thq
Beaver and Rocky-Mountain Indians. Oth@r<s
are sent to the Slave River and Lake, or beyond
them, and traffic with the inhabitants of that country. A small part of them, if not left at the Fork
of the Elk River, return thither for the Knisteneaux, while the rest of the people and merchandise remain here, to carry on trade with the Chepewyans.
Here have I arrived with ninety or an hundred
men without any provision for their sustenance;
for whatever quantity might have been obtained
from the natives during the summer, it could liot
be more than sufficient for the people dispatched
to their different posts; and even if there were
a casual superfluity, it was absolutely necessary
to preserve it untouched, for the demands of the
spring. The whole dependance, therefore, of
those who remained, was on the lake, and fishing
implements for the means of our support. The nets
are sixty fathom in length, when set, and contain
fifteen meshes of five inches in depth, The manner
of using them is as follows: A small stone and wooden buoy are fastened to the side-line opposite to each
other, at about the distance of two fathoms; when
the net is carefully thrown into the water, the stone
sinks it to the bottom, while the buoy keeps it at
its full extent, and it is secured in its situation by
a stone at either end. The nets are visited everyday, and taken out every other day to be cleaned
and dried, This is a very ready operation when
the waters are not frozen, but when the frost has
set in, and the ice has acquired its greatest thickness, which is sometimes as much as five feet,
holes are cut in it at the distance of thirty feet from
each other, to the full length of the net; one of them
is larger than the rest, being generally about four
feet square, and is called the bason: by means of
them, and poles of a proportionable length, the nets
are placed in and drawn out of the water. The
setting of hooks and lines is so simple an employment as to render a description unnecessary. The
white fish are the principal object of pursuit: they
spawn in the fall of the year, and, at about the setting in of the hard frost, crowd in shoals to the
shallow water, when as many as possible are taken,
in order that a portion of them may be laid by in
the frost to provide against the scarcity of winter;
as, during that season, the fish of every description
decrease in the lakes, if they do not altogether disappear. Some have supposed that during this period they are stationary, or assume an inactive
state. If there should be any intervals of warm
wreather during the fall, it is necessary to suspend
the fish by the tail, though they are not so good as
those which are altogether preserved by the frost.
In this state they remain to the beginning of April,
t   aw
I Jg
4*r 1—*s»^^»-
when they have been found as sweet as when they
were caught*.
Thus do these voyagers live, year after year,
entirely upon fish, without even the quickening
flavour of salt, or the variety of any farinaceous
root or vegetable. Salt, however, if their habits
had not rendered it unnecessary, might be obtained in this country to the Westward of the Peace
River, where it loses its name in that of the Slave
River, from the numerous salt-ponds and springs
to be found there, which will supply in any quantity, in a state of concretion, and perfectly white
and clean. When the Indians pass that way they
bring a small quantity to the fort, with other articles of traffic.
During a short period of the spring and fall,
great numbers of wild fowl frequent this country,
which prove a very gratifying food after such a
long privation of flesh-meat. It is remarkable,
however, that the Canadians who frequent the
Peace, Saskatchiwine, and Assiniboin rivers, and
live altogether on venison, have a less healthy appearance than those whose sustenance is obtained
from the waters. At the same time the scurvy is
wholly unknown among them.
In the fall of the year the natives meet the tra-
ders at the forts, where they barter the furs or provisions which they may have procured: they then
obtain credit, and proceed to hunt the beavers,
and do not return till the beginning of the year;
when they are again fitted out in the same manner
and comeback the latter end of March, or the beginning of April. They are now unwilling to
repair to the beaver hunt until the waters are clear
I \  ;&
I      -fc
* This fishery requires the most unremitting attention, as the voyaging Canadians are equally indolent, extravagant, and improvident,
when left to themselves, and rival the savages in a neglect of the morrow. OF THE FUR TRADE, See.
of ice, that they may kill them with fire-arms,
which the Chepewyans are averse to employ. The
major part of the latter return to the barren
grounds, and live during the summer with their
relations and friends in the enjoyment of that plenty
which is derived from numerous herds of deer.
But those of that tribe who are most partial to
these desarts, cannot remain there in winter, and
they are obliged, with the deer, to take shelter in
the woods during that rigorous season, when they
contrive to kill a few beavers, and send thefti by
young men, to exchange for iron utensils and ammunition.
Till the year 1782, the people of Athabasca sent*
or carried their furs regularly to Fort Churchill,
Hudson's-Bay ; and some of them have, since that
time, repaired thither, notwithstanding they could
have provided themselves with all the necessaries
which they required. The difference of the price
set on goods here and at the factory, made it an
object with the Chepewyans, to undertake a journey of five or six months, in the course of which
they were reduced to the most painful extremities,
and often lost their lives from hunger and fatigue.
At present, however, this traffic is in a great measure discontinued, as they were obliged to expend
in the course of their journey, that very ammunition which was its most alluring object.
ifi If I
fl L
These people are spread over a vast extent of
eountry. Their language is the same as that of
the peopJe who inhabit the coast of British America on the Atlantic^ with the excepffo& of the Esquimaux*, and continues along the coast of La*
brador, and the gulf and banks of St* Laurence to
Montreal. The line then follows the Utawas river
to its source; and continues frott then€€ nearly
West aloqag the highfaftdb wMch divides1 the Waters
that fall kito Lake Superior a$d Hudson's-B&y.
It then proceeds tiR it strikes the middle part of
the river Winipic, following tte# water through
the Lake Winrpie, to the discharge of the' Saskatchiwine info it; fr^tn theiice it a&eomp&sties the
latter to Fort George, when the fifle, striking by
the head of the Bearer rive* to the Elk river, runs
along its banks to* its discharge m the Lake of the
HiHst; from which & m&y be carried back East, to
the Isle a la Crosse, and sc-on to Churchill by the
Missinipk The whole of the tract between this
line snd Hudson's Bay anwi Straits (except? that of
the Esquimaux in the latter), n$ay be s&fcPto be
exclusively the country of the Knisteneaux. Some
of them indeed, have penetrated further West and
South to the Red River, to the South of Lake
Winipic, and the South branch of the Saskatchiwine.
They are of a moderate stature, well proportioned, and of great activity.    Examples of de-
* The similarity between their language and that of the Algonquins,
is an unequivocal proof that they are the same people. Specimens of
their respective tongues will be hereafter given. •
formity are seldom to be seen among them. Their
complexion is of a copper colour, and their hair
black, which is common to all the natives of North
America. It is cut in various forms, according
to the fancy of the several tribes, and by some is
left in the long, lank, flow of nature. They very
generally extract their beards, and both sexes manifest a disposition to pluck the hair from every
part of their body and limbs. Their eyes are
black, keen, and penetrating; their countenance
open and agreeable, and it i-s a principal object of
their vanity to give every possible decoration to
their persons. A material article in their toilettes
is ve^hiMibn, which they contrast with their native
blue, white, and brown earths, to which charcoal is
frequently added.
Their dress is at once simple and commodious.
It consists of tight leggins, reaching near 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 tied round the waist for that purpose: a
close vest or shirt reaching down to the former
garment^ anft 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 brush of the animal as a suspended ornament: a kind of robe is thrown occasionally over the whole of the dress, and serves
both night and day. These articles, with the addition of shoes and mittens, constitute the variety
of their apparel. The materials vary according
to the season, and consist of dressed moose-skin,
beaver* prepared with the fur, or European woollens. The leather is neatly painted, and fancifully worked in some parts with porcupine quills,
and moose-deer hair: the shirts and leggins are
also adorned with fringe and tassels; nor are the
«! wth
shoes and mittens without somewhat of appropriate decoration, and worked with a considerable
degree of skill and taste. These habiliments are
put on, however, as fancy or convenience suggests ; and they will sometimes proceed to the
chase in the severest frost, covered only with the
slightest of them. Their head-dresses are composed of the feathers of the swan, the eagle, and
other birds. The teeth, horns, and claws of different animals, are also the occasional ornaments
of the head and neck. Their hair, however arranged, is always besmeared with grease. The
making of every article of dress is a female occupation ; and the women, though by no means inattentive to the decoration of their own persons,
appear to have a still greater degree of pride in attending to the appearance of the men, whose faces
are painted with more care than those of the women.
The female dress is formed of the same materials as those of the other sex, but of a different
make and arrangement. Their shoes are commonly plain, and their leggins gartered beneath
the knee. The coat, or body covering, falls down
to the middle of the leg, and is fastened over the
shoulders with cords, a flap or cape turning down
about eight inches, both before and behind, and
agreeably ornamented with quill-work and fringe ;
the bottom is also fringed, and fancifully painted
as high as the knee. As it is very loose, it is enclosed round the waist with a stiff* belt, decorated
with tassels, and fastened 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 neck, and the
corners of them fall down behind, as low as the
waist. The cap, when they wear one, consists
of a certain quantity of leather or cloth,  sewed
i \  I OF THE FUR TRADE, 8ce.
at one end, by which means it is kept on the head,
and, hanging down the back, is fastened to the
belt, as well as under the chin. The upper garment is a robe like that worn by the men. Their
hair is divided on the crown, and tied behind, or
sometimes fastened in large knots over the ears*
They are fond of European articles, and prefer
them to their own native commodities,. Their
ornaments consist in common with all savages, in
bracelets, rings, and similar baubles. Some of
the women tatoo three perpendicular lines, which
are sometimes double : one from the centre of the
chin to that of the under lip, and one parallel on
either side to the corner of the mouth.
Of all the nations which I have seen on this
continent, the Knisteneaux women are the most
comely. Their figure is generally well proportioned, and the regularity of their features would
be acknowledged by the more civilized people of
Europe. Their complexion has less of that dark
tinge which is -common to those savages who have
less cleanly habits.
These people are, in general, subject to few
disorders. The lues venerea, however, is a common complaint, but cured by the application of
simples, with whose virtues they appear to be
well acquainted. They are also subject to fluxes,
and pains in the breast, which some have attributed to the very cold and keen air which they inhale ; but I should imagine that these complaints
must frequently proceed from their immoderate
indulgence in fat meat at their feasts, particularly
when they have been preceded by long fasting.
They are naturally mild and affable, as.well as
Justin their dealings, not only among themselves,
but with strangers.*    They are also generous and
* They have Jheen called thieves, but when that vice can with justice
fee attributed to them, it may be traced to their connection with the civi-
Jized people who come into their country to traffic. Wm
[its* |l»i
I f 1»; III
■ Jr zrs-X-' :        " ~ ; ii. ■ ■■ ' ■
»/-*. !
hospitable, and good-natured in the extreme, except when their nature is perverted by the inflammatory influence of spiritous liquors, To their
children they are indulgent to a fault. The father,
plough he assumes no command over them, is ever
anxious to instruct them in all the preparatory qualifications for war and hunting; while the mother
is equally attentive to her daughters in teaching
them every thing that is considered as necessary to
their character and situation. It does not appear
that the husband makes any distinction between
the children of his wife, though they may be the
offspring of different fathers. Illegitimacy is only
attached to those who are born before their mothers
have cohabited with any man by the title of husband. |:\ ^ ' 'If -
It does not appear, that chastity is considered by
them as a virtue; or that fidelity is believed to bg
gssenjfcial to the happiness of wedded life. Though
it sometimes happens that the infidelity of a wife is
punished by the husband with the loss of her hair,
nose, and perhaps life; such severity proceeds from
its having been practised without his permission:
for a temporary interchange of wives is not uncommon: and the offer of their persons is considered
as a necessary part of the hospitality due to strangers.
When a man loses his wife, it is considered as
a duty to marry her sister, if she has one; or he
may, if he pleases, have them both at the same
It will appear from the fatal consequences I have
repeatedly imputed to the use of spirituous liquors
that I more particularly consider these people as
having been, morally speaking, great sufferers from
their communication with the subjects of civilized
nations. At the same time they were not, in a
state of nature, without their vices, and some of OF THE FUR TRADE, fcc.
them of a kind which is the most abhorrent to cultivated and reflecting man. I shall only observe,
that incest and bestiality are among them. •%-/
When a young man marries,he immediately goes
to live with the father and mother of his wife, who
treat him, nevertheless, as a perfect stranger, till
after the birth of his first child: he then attaches
himself more to them than his own parents ; and
his wife no longer gives him any other denomination than that of the father of her child.
The profession of the men is war and hunting,
and the more active scene of their duty is the field
of battle, and the chase in the woods. They also
spear fish, but the management of the nets is left to
the women. The females of this nation are in the
same subordinate state with those of all other savage tribes, but the severity of their labour is much
diminished by their situation on the banks of lakes
and rivers, where they employ canoes. In the
winter, when the waters are frozen, they make
their journeys, which are never of any great
length, with sledges drawn by dogs. They are,
at the same time, subject to every kind of domestic drudgery; they dress the leather, make the
clothes and shoes, weave the nets, collect wood,
erect the tents, fetch water, and perform every culinary service; so that when the duties of maternal care are added, it will appear, that the life of
these women is an uninterrupted succession of toil
and pain. This, indeed, is the sense they entertain of their own situation -, and under the influence of that sentiment, they are sometimes known
to destroy their female children, to save them
from the miseries which they themselves have
suffered. They also have a ready way, by the
use of certain simples, of procuring abortions,
which they sometimes practise, from their hatred
g£ the father, or to save themselves the trouble
;     V -
SKiSKr. - 4*2
. v
which children occasion: and, as I have been
credibly informed, this unnatural act is repeated
without any injury to the health of the women
who perpetrate it.
The funeral rites begin, like all other solemn ceremonials, with smoking, and are concluded byafeast.
The body is dressed in the best habiliments possessed by the deceased, or his relations, and is
then deposited in a grave lined with branches ;
ID '
some domestic utensils are placed on it, and a
kind of canopy erected over it. During this ceremony, great lamentations are made, and if the departed person is very much regretted, the near
relations cut off their hair, pierce the fleshy part
I of their thighs and arms with arrows, knives, &x.
and blacken their faces with charcoal. If they
have distinguished themselves in war, they are
sometimes laid on a kind of scaffolding; and I
have been informed, that women, as in the East,
have been known to sacrifice themselves to the
manes of their husbands. The whole of the
property belonging to the departed person is destroyed, and the relations take in exchange for the
wearing apparel, any rags that will cover their
- nakedness. The feast bestowed on the occasion,
which is, or at least used to be, repeated annually,
is accompanied with eulogiums on the deceased,
and without any acts of ferocity. On the tomb
are carved or painted the symbols of his tribe,
which are taken from the different animals of the
Many and various are the motives which induce
a savage to engage in war. To prove his courage, or to revenge the death of his relations, or
some of his tribe, by the massacre of an enemy.
If the tribe feel themselves called upon to go to
war, the elders convene the people, in order to
know the general opinion.    If it be for war, the OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
chief publishes his intention to smoke in the sacred
stem at a certain period, to which solemnity, meditation and fasting are required as preparatory
ceremonials.    When the people are thus assembled, and the meeting sanctified by the custom of
smoking, the chief enlarges on the causes which
have called them together, and the necessity of
the measures proposed on the occasion.    He then
invites those who are willing to follow him, to
smoke out of the sacred stem, which is considered
as the token of enrolment; and if it should be the
general opinion, that assistance is necessary, others
are invited,  with great formality, to join them.
Every  individual  who  attends /these meetings,
brings something with him as a token of his warlike intention, or as an object of sacrifice, which,
when the assembly dissolves, is suspended from
poles near the place of council.
They have frequent feasts, and particular circumstances never fail to produce them, such as a
tedious illness, long fasting, &c. On these occasions it is usual for the person who means to give
the entertainment, to announce his design, on a
certain day, of opening the medicine-bag, and
smoking out of his sacred stem. This declaration is considered as a sacred vow that cannot
be broken. There are also stated periods, such
as the spring and autumn, when they engage in
very long and solemn ceremonies. On these occasions dogs are offered as sacrifices, and those
which are very fat, and milk-wh;te, are preferred.
They also make large offerings of their property,
whatever it may be. The scene of these ceremonies is in an open inclosure on the bank of a river
or lake, and in the most conspicuous situation, in
order that such as are passing along or travelling,
may be induced to make their offerings. There
is also a particular custom among them, that, on
,« iiini
£3? I
these occasions, if any of the tribe, or even a
stranger, should be passing by, and be in real
want of any thing that is displayed as an offering,
he has a right to take it, so that he replaces it
with some article he can spare, though it be of
far inferior value ; but to take or touch anything
wantonly is considered as a sacrilegious act, and
highly insulting to the great Master of Life, to
use their own expression, who is the sacred object
of their devotion.
The scene of private sacrifice is the lodge of
the person who performs it, which is prepared for
that purpose, by removing every thing out of it,
and spreading green branches in every part. The
fire and ashes are also taken away. A new hearth
is made of fresh earth, and another fire is lighted.
The owner of the dwelling remains alone in it;
and he begins the ceremony by spreading a piece
of new cloth, or a well-dressed moose-skin neatly
painted, on which he opens his medicine-bag and
exposes its contents, consisting of various articles. The principal of them is a kind of household god, which is a small carved image about
eight inches long. Its first covering is of down,
over which a piece of birch bark is closely tied,
and the whole is enveloped in several folds of red
and blue cloth. This little figure is an object of
the most pious regards The next article is his
war-cap, which is decorated with the feathers and
plumes of scarce birds, beavers, and eagle's
claws, &c. There is also suspended from it a
quill or feather for every enemy whom the owner
of it has slain in battle. The remaining contents
of the bag are, a piece of Brazil tobacco, several
roots and simples, which are in great estimation
for their medicinal qualities, and a pipe. These
articles being all exposed, and the stem resting
upon two forks, as it must not touch the ground,
urn *5KiS»",=7>^
the master of the lodge sends for the person he
most esteems, who sits down opposite to him;
the pipe is then filled and fixed to the stem. MA
pair of wooden pincers is provided to put the fire
in the pipe, and a double-pointed pin, to empty
it of the remnant of tobacco which is not consumed.    This arrangement being made, the men assemble, and sometimes the women are allowed to
be humble spectators, while the most religious
awe and solemnity pervades the whole.    The Mi-
chiniwais, or Assistant, takes up the pipe, lights
it, and presents it to the officiating person, who
receives it standing and holds it between both his
hands.    He then turns himself to the East, and
draws a few whiffs, which he blows to that point.
The same ceremony he observes to the other three
quarters, with his eyes directed upwards during
the whole of it.    He holds the stem about the
middle between  the three first fingers of both
hands, and raising them upon a line with his forehead, he swings it three times round from the
£ast, with the sun, when, after pointing and balancing it in various directions, he reposes it on
the forks : he then makes a speech to explain the
design of their being called together, which concludes with an acknowledgment for past mercies,
and a prayer for the continuance of them, from the
Master of Life.   He then sits down, and the whole
company declare their approbation and thanks by
uttering the word ho ! with an emphatic prolongation of   the   last  letter.     The    Michiniwais
then takes up the pipe and holds it to the mouth
of the officiating person, who, after smoking three
whiffs out of it, utters a short prayer, and then
goes round with it, taking his course from East
to West, to every person present, who individually says something to him on the occasion : and
thus the pipe is  generally smoked out; when,
:.?■. ■-?
m Hi
after turning it three or four times round his head,
he drops it downwards, and replaces it in its original situation. He then returns the company
thanks for their attendance, and wishes them, as
well as the whole tribe, health and long life.
These smoking rites precede every matter of
great importance, with more or less ceremony,
but always with equal solemnity. The utility of
them will appear from the following relation.
If a chief is anxious to know the disposition of
his people towards him, or if he wishes to settle
any difference between them, he announces his
intention of opening his medicine-bag and smoking in his sacred stem; and no man who entertains a grudge against any of the party thus assembled can smoke with the sacred stem ; as that
ceremony dissipates all differences, and is never
No one can avoid attending on these occasions;
but a person may attend and be excused from assisting at the ceremonies, by acknowledging that
he has not undergone the necessary purification.
The having cohabited with his wife, or any other
woman, within twenty-four hours preceding the
ceremony, renders him unclean, and, consequently, disqualifies him from performing any part of
it. If a contract is entered into and solemnised
by the ceremony of smoking, it never fails of
being faithfully fulfilled. If a person, previous
to his going a journey, leaves the sacred stem as
a pledge of his return, no consideration whatever
will prevent him from executing his engagement.*
The chief, when he proposes to make a feast,
sends quills, or small pieces of wood, as tokens
of invitation to such as he wishes to partake of it,
* It is however to be lamented, that of late there is a relaxation of the.
duties originally attached to these festivals. Off THE FUR TRADE, &c.
At the appointed time the guests arrive, each
bringing a dish or platter, and a knife, and take
their seats on each side of the chief, who receives
them sitting, according to their respective ages.
The pipe is then lighted, and he makes an equal
division of every thing that is provided. While
the company are enjoying their meal, the chief
sings, and accompanies his song with the tam-
bourin, or shishiquoi, or rattle. The guest who
has first eaten his portion is considered as the
most distinguished person. If there should be
any who cannot finish the whole of their mess,
they endeavour to prevail on some of their friends
to eat it for them, who are rewarded for their assistance with ammunition and tobacco. It is proper also to remark, that at these feasts a small
quantity of meat or drink is sacrificed, before
they begin to eat, by throwing it into the fire, or
on the earth.
These feasts differ according to circumstances;
sometimes each man's allowance is no more than
he can dispatch in a couple of hours* At other
times the quantity is sufficient to supply each of
them with food for a week, though it must be devoured in a day. On these occasions it is very
difficult to procure substitutes, and the whole
must be eaten whatever time it may require. At
some of these entertainments there is a more rational arrangement, when the guests are allowed
to carry home with them the superfluous part of
their portions. Great care is always taken that
the bones may be burned, as it would be considered a profanation were the dogs permitted to touch
The public feasts are conducted in the same
manner, but with some additional ceremony. Several chiefs officiate at them, and procure the necessary provisions, as well as prepare a proper
fc     I
place of reception for the numerous company.
Here the guests discourse upon public topics, repeat the heroic deeds of their forefathers, and excite the rising generation to follow their example.
The entertainments on these occasions consist of
dried meats, as it would not be practicable to
dress a sufficient quantity of fresh meat for such a
large assembly ; though the women and children
are excluded.
Similar feasts used to be made at funerals, and
annually, in honour of the dead; but they have
been, for some time, growing into disuse, and I
never had an opportunity of being present at any
of them.
The women, who are forbidden to enter the
places sacred to these festivals, dance and sing
around them, and sometimes beat time to the
music within them; which forms an agreeable
With respect to their divisions of time, they
compute the length of their journies by the number of nights passed in performing them; and
they divide the year by the succession of moons.
In this calculation, however, they are not altogether correct, as'they cannot account for the
odd davs.
The names which they give to the moons are
descriptive of the several seasons.
Atheiky o Pishim
Oppinuo Pishim
Aupasceno Pishim
Aupahou o Pishim
Frog Moon.
The Moon in which birds
begin to lay their eggs.
The Moon when birds cast
their feathers.
The Moon when the young
birds begin to fly.
September Waskiscon o Pishim The Moon when the moose
deer cast their horns.
October  Wisac o Pishim The Rutting-Moon
ii if'
^SSfc-v. f
November Thithigon Pewai o Pishim Hoar-Frost Moon.
Kuskatinayoui o Pishim     Ice-Moon.
December Pawatchicananasis o Pishim Whirlwind-Moon.
January Kushapawasticanum o Pishim Extreme cold Moon
February KichiPishim Big Moon; some say, Old
March     Mickysue Pishim     Eagle Moon.
April       Niscaw o Pishim      Goose Moon.
These people know the medicinal virtues of
many herbs and simples, and apply the roots of
plants and the bark of trees with success. But
the conjurers, who monopolize the medical science, find it necessary to blend mystery with their
art, and do not communicate their knowledge.
Their materia medica they administer in the form
of purges and clysters ; but the remedies and surgical operations are supposed to derive much of
their effect from magic and incantation. When
a blister rises in the foot from the frost, the chaffing of the shoe, &c. they immediately open it,
and apply the heated blade of a knife to the part,
which, painful as it may be, is found to be effica- i
cious. A sharp flint serves them as a lancet for
letting blood, as well as for scarification in bruises
and swellings. For sprains, the dung of an animal just killed is considered as the best remedy.
They are very fond of European medicines,
though they are ignorant of their application : and
those articles form an inconsiderable part of the
European traffic with them.
Among their various superstitions, they believe
that the vapour which is seen to hover over moist
and swampy places, is the spirit of some person
lately dead. They also fancy another spirit which
appears, in the shape of a man, upon the trees
near the lodge of a person deceased, whose property has not been interred with them. He is represented as bearing a gun in his hand, and it is
_^&2 E
believed that he does not return to his rest, till
the property that has been withheld from the grave
has been sacrificed to it.
Good Spirit
Evil Spirit
My teeth
My back
My bellv
My inees
Ki jai Manitou
Matchi manitou
Nap hew
Non-gens e
A' wash ish
Us ti quoin
Es caa tick
Wes ty-ky
Es kis och
Ki jai Manitou.
Matchi manitou.
Abi nont-chen.
O catick.
Oo tith ee go mowNi-de-ni-guom
O toune O tonne.
Wip pit tah
With i tip
O tow ee gie
O qui ow
O koot tas gy
O nisk
Che chee
Wos kos sia
O's spig gy
No pis quan
O povam
Aba-e winikan.
O-ta wagane.
O'quoi gan.
Nigon dagane.
O nic.
Ni nid gines.
Ni-pi quoini.
Ni my sat.
No che quoin noh Ni gui tick.
Nosk Ni gatte.
■ mmmmm
Heart O thea
My father Noo ta wie
My mother Nigah wei
My boy (son) Negousis
My girl (daughter)Netanis
My brother, elder Ni stess
My sister, elder     Ne miss
My grandfather     Ne moo shum
My grandmother   N' o kum
My uncle N' o'ka miss
My nephew Ne too sim
My niece Ne too sim esquoi
My mother-in-law Nisigouse
My brother-in-law Nistah
My companion      Ne wechi wagan
My husband
Old Man
I am angry
I fear
Joy .
Ni nap pern
Mith coo
Shi nap
Ne kis si wash en
Ne goos tow
Ne hea tha torn
Mis conna
Chief, great ruler   Haukimah
Rein deer
Fallow deer
Qui qua katch
Sa quasue
Ni ni michomen.
Ne do jim.
sNi-do-jim equois.
Ni sigousiss.
Ni na bem.
Aki win se.
Nis Katissiwine.
Nisest guse.
Mamond gikisi.
Oda wagan.
Pemi ka wois.
Kitehi onodis.
Ke moutiske.
Moui.       §F -
Shi kak.
Michai woi.
Wa wasquesh.
Quin quoagki.
Otchi ta mou.
Ni guick.
-^Ei===:—* civ
Musk Rat
Cow Buffalo
Crow, Corbeau
White Goose
Grev Goose
Water Hen
Pike or Jack
White fish
Fish (in general)
Craw Fish
Fire steel
Fire wood
Knisteneaux; •
Cau quah
Noshi Moustouch
Sy Sip*
Ca Cawkeu
Mes sei thew
Okes kew
Wey Wois
Omi Mee
Na may bin
Na May
Chi chi kan
Nay gouse
A shag gee
Ah moo
Ta Comagau
Wai wa be gou noge
eNochena pichik.
Ka Kak.
Nic kack.
Woi wois.
Pos ta kisk.
Pen ainse.
Che qui bis.
O mi-mis.
WaWeni.     ~
Na me bine.
Na Maiu.
Wa quock.
O nidj-igan.
Na Men Gouse:
A cha kens chacque
O ma ka ki.
A mon.
Ki nai bick.
Sha-bo nigan.
Na-ba-ke-gou-man. OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
Knisteneaux. Algonquin
Augusk or Atouc
heMettic ka noums.
Fish Hook
Maneton Miquiscai
Na be chi be soun.
Pin ack wan.
Birch Rind
Wig nass.
Touch Wood
Misqui meinac.
O'-tai-e minac
O'-tai-e minac,
Scou tay
Scou tay.
A Winni.
Asus ki
A Shiski.
Ki si chi woin.
Road            y|§
Moon       :1;;-  .
Tibisca pesim (the
night Sun)
Dibic Kijiss.
Kigi gatte.
Dibic kawte.
So qui po.
Rain   ..-;•
Ki mi woini.
Pewan j
Hail '   .    .
Shes eagan
Me qua mensan.
Me quam.
Messeasky (all
Missi achki.
m CV1
Kitchi  kitchi   ga
Mid-day    -' '
Abetah quisheik
Heat       Ip
Ta kashikc
Sawena woon
I Coshawcastak
Michim waboi
Ma qua see
Grease or oil
Marrow fat |*
Oscan pimis
Bed                1
Ne pa win
Pendog ke
Shirt           •    :•
Wape weyang
> Kitchi   kitchi   gaming.
Na ock quoi.
Mino ka ming.
Ba wetick.
Sipi wes chin.
Ne gawe.
Ach ki.
Ni mi ki.
No tine.
Ke woitinak.
Wi con qui wine.
Ne pai wine.
O' na gann.
Ketche pisou.
Pe matinang.
A chi-gan
Pa pa ki weyan.
Wape weyan. . <f«rmiii
Smoking bag
Portage sling
Strait on
Grey, &c.
Ugly   f
Small or little
Weak :
Young man
Maneto weguin
Chi ki-bisoon
Goi ask
Mas ki kee
Mes coh
Maneto weguin
Fi   gaske-tase be
Kasqutch (same asO-jawes-cowa«
Saw waw
Mache na gouseu Mous-counu-gouse
Catawassiseu Nam bissa.
Kissi Sawenogan   Quoi Natch.
Ka ki be chai.
Nima petom
Kin wain
Nitha missew
Mahta waw
Nima Gustaw
f Mache-cawa.
\ Mas-cawise.
Ka wa ca tosa.
Son qui taige.
Kicha tai.
Tagowag; I'/!''■ I
Twenty-two, Sec.
Peyac §|
Nish woisic
Peyac osap
Nisheu osap
Nichtou osap
Neway osap
Niannan osap
Nigoutawoesic os-Mitasswois, hachi,
ap negoutawaswois.
Nish woesic osap Mitasswois, hachi,
nigi waswois.
Mitasswois, hachi,
Mitasswois, hachi,
shang as wois.
Ni gouta waswois.
She was wois.
Shann was wois.
Mitasswois,   hachi
Mitasswois, hachi,
Mitasswois, hachi,
Mitasswois, hachi,
Mitasswois, hachi,
Jannanew osap
Shack osap
Nisheu mitenah
Nishew    mitenah
peyac osap Nigeta nan, hachi,
Nisheu    mitenah     pechic.
nishew osap
Nishtou mitenah    Niswois mitanan.
Neway mitenah     Neau mitanan.
Niannan mitenah   Nanan mitanan.
Negoutawoisic mi-Nigouta was wois
tenah mitanan. |j£J
Nish woisic mitenahNigi was wois mitanan.
Jannaeu mitenah   She was wois mitanan.
Shack mitenah       Shang was wois mitanan. OF THE FUR TRADE, &c,
Two hundred
One thousand
I, or me
You, or thou
They, or them
My, or mine
His, or her's
Some, or some
The same
All the world
All the men
Now and then
To burn
To sing
To cut
To hide
To cover
To believe
To sleep
To dispute
To dance
To give
Knisteneaux. Algonquin.
Mitana mitenan     Ningoutwack.
Neshew   mitena") U& ,
.1 > Nige wack.
a mitenah        J      °
Mitenah mitena") Tr.A ,.        ,
i y Kitchi-wack*
Awa chi min.
mitha-Awachimin o nichi
mitha-Kitchi o nichi shin.
few Pey peyac
Kin.      ;
Win na wa.
Ninawa. j
Nida yam.
Kegoi nin.
Otayim mis.
Mi ta voche.
Missi acki wanque Mishiwai asky.
Kakithaw Ethi ny-Missi Inini wock.
I as-cow-puco
Ta couchin
Mina wa.
Qui qui jan. ||§|
Caso tawe.
A co na oune.
Tai boitam.
Ni pann.
Ke ko mi towock  Ki quaidiwine,
Nemavtow Nimic.
Mith ' Mih.
!( • 'in
8-.   ■
To do
To eat
To die
To forget
To speak
To cry (tears)
To. laugh
To set down
To walk
To fall
To work
To kill
To sell
To live
To see
To come
Cry (tears)
It hails
There is 1
There is some   J
It rains
After to-morrow
To-day  j
Make, heart
This morning
This night
Yet, more
Far   |     ;^-''
No   §|
Yes im.    <   ■
Make haste
It's long since
Ogitann Ifljfc
Ah tus kew
Aya wa
Awis wabank
Nima wecatch
Ah I
Ni po wen.
Woi ni mi kaw.
Mawi.       1 :
Na matape win;
Ata wois.
Mi mi nic.
Ambai ma wita.
Sai saigaun.
Aya wan.
Qui mi woin.
Awes wabang.
Non gum.
Ni bi wa.
Wai we be.
Shai bas.
De bi cong.
O kitchiai.
Ana mai.
Ne da wache.
Sha shaye.
Mina wa.
Ka wi ka.
Ka wine.
In. ,
Ka qui nick*
Mon wisha.
They are a numerous people, who consider
the. country between the parallels of latitude 60.
and 65. North, and longitude 100. to 110. West,
as their lands or; hbrhe. They speak a copious
language, which is Jyery difficult to be attained,
and furnishes dialecfSjio the various emigrant
tribes which inhabit thid following immense track
of country, whosd-vboundary I shall describe*.
It begins at Churchill, and runs along the line of
separation between them and the Knisteneaux, up
the Missinipi to the Isle a la Crosse, passing on
through the Buffalo Lake, River Lake, and Portage 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 and tributary waters ; from whence
it proceeds to the waters of the river Columbia ;
and follows that river to latitude 52. 24. North,
and longitude 122. 54. West, where the Chepewyans have the Atnah or Chin Nation for their
neighbours. It then takes a line due West to the
sea-coast, within which, the country is possessed
by a people who speak their languagef, and are
consequently descended from them : there can be
no doubt, therefore, of their progress being to
* Those of them who come to trade with us, do not exceed eight hundred men, and have a smattering of the Knisteneaux tongue, in which
they carry on their dealings with us.
I The coast is inhabited on the North-West by the Eskimaux, and on
the Pacific Ocean by a people different from both.
<. w>
the Eastward. A tribe of them is even known at
the upper establishments on the Saskatchiwine;
and I do not pretend to ascertain how far they
may follow the Rocky Mountains to the East.
It is not possible to form any just estimate of
their numbers, but it is apparent, nevertheless,
that they are by no means proportionate to the
vast extent of their territories, which may, in
some degree, be attributed to the ravages of the
small pox, which are, more or less, evident
throughout this part of the continent.
The notion which these people entertain of the
creation, is of 3. very singular nature. . They believe that, at the first^ the globe was one vast
and entire ocean, inhabited by no living creature,
except a mighty bird, whose eyes were fire, whose
glances were lightning, and the clapping of whose
wings wrere thunder. On his descent to the ocean,
and touching it, the earth instantly arose, and
remained on the surface of the waters. This omnipotent bird then called forth all the variety of
animals from the earth, except the Chepewyans,
who were produced from a dog; and this circumstance occasions their aversion to the flesh of that
animal, as well as the people who eat it. This
extraordinary tradition proceeds to relate, that
the great bird, having finished his work, made an
arrow, which was to be preserved with great care,
and to remain untouched; but that the Chepewyans were so devoid of understanding, as to carry
it away; and the sacrilege so enraged the great
bird, that he has never since appeared.
They have also a tradition amongst them, that
they originally came from another country, inhabited by very wricked people, and had traversed a
great lake, which was narrrow, shallow, and full
of islands, where they had suffered great misery,
it being always winter, with ice and deep snow. OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
At the Copper-Mine River, where they made the
first land, the ground was covered with copper,
over which a body of earth had since been collected, to the depth of a man's height. They believe,
also, that in ancient times their ancestors lived
till their feet were worn out with walking, and
their throats with eating. They describe a deluge, when the waters spread over the whole earth,
except the highest mountains, on the tops of
which they preserved themselves.
They believe, that immediately after their 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, in the view of this delightful abode, they receive that judgment for
their conduct during life, which terminates their
final state and unalterable allotment. If their good
actions are declared to predominate, they are landed upon the island, where there is to be no end
to their happiness ; which, however, according
to their notions, consists in an eternal enjoyment
of sensual pleasure, and carnal gratification. But
if their bad actions weigh down the balance, 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, from which they are excluded
for ever.      jf
They have some faint notions of the transmigration of the soul; so that if a child be born with
teeth, they instantly imagine, from its premature
appearance, that it bears a resemblance to some
person who had lived to an advanced period, and
that he has assumed a renovated life, with these
extraordinary tokens of maturity. §j|
R exiv
The Chepewyans are sober,- timorous, and vagrant, with a selfish disposition' which has sonte-
times1 Created strs^raOng of thefr integrity. Their
stature has nothing remarkable fti- it; but though'
they arc seldom corpulent, they are sometime^
robust. Their complexion i& swaYthy; their features coafgfe, and tfifeir hair lank, but not always
of a dingy black; ftor have they universally the
piercing ey6, which generally animates the Indian
countenance. The woitien 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 on snow-shoes and
drag sledges Of a weight from two to fofar hundred
pounds. They are very submissive to their hus-
bgfrtis,* who have, however, their fits 6f jealousy;
and, for very trifling causes, treat them #ith sfach
cruelty as sometimes to occasion their death.
They are frequently objects of traffic ; aftdthe father £osses$e§ the right of dispo§i$j!* of his daughter^. The rhen in general extract their bearcfe**
though some of them are seen to prefer a bushy
black beabrd, to a smooth chin. They cut their
half in various forms, or leave it in a lO&g, natural flotv^ According as their caprice or fancy suggests?. The women always wear it in great lerrgth,
and sOme of theiri are very attentive to its arrangement. If they at any time appear despoiled of
their tresses, it is to be esteemed a proof of the
husband's jealousy, and is considered as a severer
punishment than manual correction. Both sexes
have blue 6f black bars, or from one to four strait
lines on their cheeks or forehead, to distinguish
the tribe to which they belong. These marks
are either tatooed, or made by drawing a thread *
dipped in the necessary colour, beneath the skin.
* They do not, however, sell them as slaves, but as companions to
those who are supposed to live more comfortably than themselves*
!i OF THE FUR JfcRADE, &c.
kere arejfio p^Qp^e ,rn,qre attqn^iye to the comforts of thqir^ess/or Jess anxious respecting its
:cxteriqr appearance. In *tjhe winter it is composed
of-the igjuns of deer, and their J&was, and ,dres-
=s^d as fii*e as ,^ny tqh^Qis leather, in 4>he ;hair. In
ithe summer $heir apparel is the same, except that
;it is prepared without the jhair. Their shoes and
leggins are se„wed together, the latter reaching upwards to the middle, and lpeing supported by a belt,
ur*4er which a small piece of leather is drawn to
coyer-the private parts, the ends of which fall down
both before and behind. In the shoes they put the
hair of the moose or rein-deer with additional of leather as jsocks. The shirt or coat, when
gifted round the waist, reaches to the middle of
.the thigh, and the mittens are sewed to thesleeves,
^or are suspended by strings from the shoulders. A
ruff or tippet surrounds the neck, and the skin of
the head of the deer forms a curious kind of cap.
A robe, made of several deer or fawn skins sewed
together, covers the whole. This dress is worn
single or double, but alwaysin thewinter, with the
hair within and without. Thus arrayed a Chepe-
wyan will lay himself down ^on the ice in the middle of a lake, and repose in comfort; though he will
sometimes find a difficulty in the disencumber himself from the snow drifted on him during the night. 'If in his passage he should be in
want of provision, Jfie cuts, a hole in the. ice, when
he seldom fails of taking some trout or pike, whose
eyes he instantly scoops out, and eats as a great
delicacy; but if they should not be sufficient to satisfy his appetite, he will, in this necessity make
his meal of the fish in its raw state; but, those
whom I saw, preferred to dress their victuals when
circumstances admitted the necessary preparation.
When they are in that part of their country which
does not produce a sufficient quantity of wood for
k_. CXV1
I      II
fuel, they are reduced to the same exigency, though
they generally dry their meat in the sun*.
The dress of the women differs from that of the
men. Their leggins are tied below the knee; and
their coat or shift is wide, 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 shoulders, as when they are travelling they carry their infants upon their backs, next
their skin, in which situation they are perfectly
comfortable and in a position convenient to be
suckled. Nor do they discontinue to give their
milk to them till they have another child. Childbirth is not the object of that tender care and serious attention among the savages as it is among civilised people. At this period no part of their usual
occupation is omitted, and this continual and regular exercise must contribute to the welfare of
the mother, both in the^progress of parturition and
in the moment of delivery. The women have a
singular custom of cutting off a small piece of the
navel string of the new-born children, and hang it
about their necks: they are also curious in the covering they make for it, which they decorate with
porcupine's quills and beads.
* The provision called Pemican, on which the Chepewyans, as well
as the other savages of this country, chiefly subsist in their journies, is
prepared in the following manner. The lean parts of the flesh of the larger animals are cut in thin slices, and are placed on a wooden grate over a
slow fire, or exposed to the sun, and sometimes to the frost. These operations dry it, and in that state it is pounded between two stones; it will
then keep with care for several years. If, however, it is kept in large
quantities, it is disposed to ferment in the spring of the year, when it must
be exposed to the air, or it will soon decay. The inside fat, and that of the
rump, which is much thicker in these wild than our domestic animals, is
melted down and mixed, in a boiling state, with the pounded meat, in equal
proportions: it is then put in baskets or bags for the convenience of carrying it. Thus it becomes a nutritious food, and is eaten, without any further
preparation, or the addition of spice, salt, or any vegetable or farinaceous
substance. A little time reconciles it to the palate. There is another sort
made with the addition of marrow and dried berries, which is of a superior quality.
a mmmmmmm
i  i
OF THE FUR TRADE, &c. cxyii
Though the women are as much in the power
of the men, as other articles of their property, they
are always consulted, and possess a very considerable influence in the traffic with Europeans, and
other important concerns.
Plurality of wives is common among them, and
the ceremony of marriage is of a very simple nature. The girls are betrothed at a very early period to those whom the parents think the best
able to support them : nor is the inclination of il| I
the woman considered. Whenever a separation
takes place, which sometimes happens, it depends
entirely on the will and pleasure of the husband.
In common with the Qther Indians of this country, they have a custom respecting the periodical
state of a woman, which is rigorously observed :
at that time she must seclude herself from society.
They are not even allowed in that situation to
keep the same path as the men, when travelling :
and it is considered a great breach of decency for
a woman so circumstanced to touch any utensils
of manly occupation. Such a circumstance is
supposed to defile them, so that their subsequent
use would be followed by certain mischief or misfortune. There are particular skins which the
women never touch, as of the bear and wolf;
and those animals the men are seldom known to
kill.        'I ' | ' •
They are not remarkable for their activity as
hunters, which is owing to the ease with which
they snare deer and spear fish: and these occupations are not beyond the strength of their old
men, women, and boys : so that they participate
in those laborious occupations, which among their
neighbours, are confined to the women. They
make war on the Esquimaux, who cannot resist
their superior numbers, and put them to death,
as it is a principle with them never to make pri- cxvu^
sqners. At the same time they tamely sublet to
.the Knisteneaux, who are not so numerous as
themselves, when they itreat thern as enemies.
They do not affect thatqold reserve at meeting,
either among themselves or strangers, vwh^ch i$
common with the Knisteneaux, but communicate
mutually, and at once, all the information of
which they are possessed. Nor are they rous^jl
like them from an apparent torpor to a state of
great activity. They are consequently)more uniform in this respect, though they are of a very
persevering disposition when their interest is concerned.
As these people are not addicted to spirituous
liquors, they have a regular and uninterrupted
.use of their understanding, ,which is always directed to the advancement of their own interest;
and this disposition, as may be readily imagined,
sometimes occasions them ,to be charged with
fraudulent habits. They will submit with patience to the severest treatment, when tfhey are
conscious that they deserve it, but will never
forget or forgive any wanton or unnecessary rigour. A moderate conduct I never fail,
nor do I hesitate to represent them, altogether,
as the most peaceable tribe of Indians known in
North America.
There are conjurers and high-priests, but I
was not present at any of their ceremonies ; though
they certainly operate in an extraordinary manner on the imaginations of the people in the cure
of disorders. Their principal,maladies are, rheumatic pains, the flux and consumption. The venereal complaint is very common; but though its
progress is slow, it gradually undermines the constitution, and brings on premature decay. They
have recourse to superstition for their cure, and
charms are their only remedies, except the bark OF THE FUR TRADE, See.
of the willow, which being burned and reduced
to powder, is strewed upon green wounds ^tid
ttlcers, and places? contrived for promoting perspiration. Of the use of simples and plants they
haVe no knowledge; nor can it be expected, as
their country does not produce them.
Though they have enjoyed so long an intercourse with Europeans, their country is so barren, as* not to be capable of producing the ordinary necessaries naturally introduced by such a
communication; stfid they continue, in a great
measure their own inconvenient and awkward
modes of taking their game and preparing it when
taken. Sometimes they drive the deer into the
small lakes, where they spear them, or force
them into inclosures, where the bow and arrow
are employed against them. These animals are
also taken in snares made of skin. In the former
instance the game is divided among those who
have been engaged in the pursuit of it. In the
latter it is considered ate private property ; nevertheless, any unsuccessful hunter passing by, may
take a deer so caught, leaving the head, skin, and
saddle for the owner. Thus, though they have
no regular government, as every man is lord in
his own family, they are influenced, more or less,
by certain principles which conduce to their general benefit.
In their quarrels with each other, they very
rarely proceed to a greater degree of violence than
is occasioned by blows, wrestling, and pulling
of the hair, while their abusive language consists
in applying the name of the most offensive animal
to the object of their displeasure, and adding the
term ugly, andchiay, or still-born.*
* This name is also applicable to the foetus of an animal, when killed,
which is considered as one of the greatest delicacies. cxx
Their arms and domestic apparatus, in addition to the articles procured from Europeans, are
spears, bows, and arrows, fishing-nets, and lines
made of green deer-skin thongs. They have also
nets for taking the beaver as he endeavours to
escape from his lodge when it is broken open. It
is set in a particular manner for the purpose, and
a man is employed to watch the moment when he
enters the snare, or he would soon cut his way
through it. He is then thrown upon the ice,
where he remains as if he had no life in him.
The snow-shoes are of a very superior workmanship. The inner part of their frame is straight,
the outer one is curved, and it is pointed at both
ends, with that in front turned up. They are also
laced with great neatness with thongs made of
deer-skin. The sledges are formed of thin slips
of board turned up also in front, and are highly
polished with crooked knives, in order to slide
along with facility. Close-grained wood is, on
that account, the best; but theirs are made of the
red or swamp sprace-fir tree.
The country, which these people claim as their
land, has a very smalhquantity of earth, and produces little or no 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, preserves the lives of the natives.
When boiled in water, it dissolves into a clammy,
glutinous substance, that affords a very sufficient
nourishment. But, notwithstanding the barren
state of their country, with proper care and economy, these people might live in great comfort,
for the lakes abound with fish, and the hills are
covered with deer. Though, of all the Indian
people of this continent they are considered as the
most provident, they suffer severely at certain
seasons, and particularly in the dead of winter,
^gjggSSsi OF THE FUR TRADE, Sec. exxi
when they are under the necessity of retiring to
their scanty, stinted woods. To the Westward
of them the musk-ox may be found, but they
have no dependence on it as an article of sustenance. There are also large hares, a few white
wolves, peculiar to their country, and several
kinds of foxes, with white and grey partridges,
&c. The beaver and moose-deer they do not find
till they come within 60 degrees North latitude ;
and the buffalo is still further South. That animal is known to frequent an higher latitude to the
Westward of their country. These people bring
pieces of beautiful variegated marble, which are
found on the surface of the earth. It is easily
worked, bears a fine polish, and hardens with
time ; it endures heat, and is manufactured into
pipes or calumets, as they are very fond of smoking tobacco ; a luxury which the Europeans communicated to them.
Their amusements or recreations are but few.
Their music is so inharmonious, and their dancing so awkward, that they might be supposed to
be ashamed of both, as they very seldom practise
either. They also shoot at marks, and play at
the games common among them ; but in fact they
prefer sleeping to either ; and the greater part of
their time is passed in procuring food, and resting
from the toil necessary to obtain it.
They are also of a querulous disposition, and
are continually making complaints ; which they
express by a constant repetition of the word eduiy,
44 it is hard," in a whining and plaintive tone of
They are superstitious in the extreme, and almost every action of their lives, however trivial,
is more or less influenced by some whimsical notion. I never observed that they had any particular form of religious worship ~> but as they believe       \
^ig^ CXX11
in a good and evil spirit, and a state of future rewards and punishments, they cannot be devoid of
religious impressions. At the same time they
manifest a decided unwillingness to majke any
communications on the subject.
The Chepewyans have been accursed of abandoning their aged and infirm people to perish, and
of not burying their dead ; but these are melancholy necessities, which proceed from their wandering way of life. They are by no $ieans universal, for it is within my knowledge, that a man,
rendered helpless by the palsy, was carried afyqut
for many years, with the greatest tenderness and
attention, till he died a natural death. That thej£
should not bury their dead in their own country,
cannot be imputed to them as a custom arising
from a savage insensibility, as they inhabit such
high latitudes that the ground never thaws ; bu^
it is well knowTn, that when they are in the woods,
they cover their dead with trees. Besides, they
manifest no common respect to the memory of
their departed friends, by a long period of mourning, cutting off their hair, and never making use
of the property of the deceased. Nay, they frequently destroy or sacrifice their own, as a token
of regret and sorrow.
If there be any people who, from the barren
state of their country, might be supposed to be
cannibals by nature, these people, from the difficulty they, at times, experience in procuring
food, might be liable to that imputation. But,
in all my knowledge of them, I never was acquainted with one instance of that disposition ;
nor among all the natives which I met with in a
route of five thousand miles, did I see or hear of
an example of cannibalism, but such as arose
from that irresistible necessity, which has been
known to impel even the most civilised people to
eat each other.
Young man
Young woman
My son
My daughter
My husband
My wife
My brother
My father
My mother
My grandfather
Me, or my
Leg     H -   ■'
The Knee
Clothes or Blanket
Robe or Blanket
Quelaquis chequoi.
Zi azay.
Zi lengai.
Zi dinnie.
Zi zayunai.
Zi raing.
Zi tah.
Zi nah.
Zi unai.
Bah I       -
3 13
•it ?
White partridge
Cass bah.
Grey partridge
Moose deer
Rein deer
'   #' Thah.f
Yess (Nouhoay.)
Fox W
Dog |
Zah thah.
Naby-ai thith.
Deny-ai thith*
Alki tar-hy-y.
Alki deing-hy.
Cakina hanoth-na.
Ca noth na.
Na ghur cha noth na.
! Dethkin.
Trade, or barter
Not good
Bad, ugly
Long since
Now, to-day
By-and-bye, or presently
House, or lodge
Small, or little
I love you
I hate you
I am to be pitied
My relation
Give me water
Give me meat
Ed zah,
Telkithy counna;
Deli couse.
Dell zin.
Leyzong houlley.
The o ball.
Ba eioinichdinh
Bucnoinichadinh hillay*
E s t-choune st-hinay.
Sy lod, innay.
Too hanniltu.
I t
Give me fish
Give me meat to eat
Give me water to drink
It is far off
Is it not far
It is near
How many
What call you him, or that
Come here
Pain, or suffering
It's hard
You lie
What then
Sloeeh anneltu.
Bid Barheether
To Barhithen.
Netha uzany.
Nitduay uzany.
Etla houllia.
Yeu dessay.
I i]>2
^^m ^jfaaii JOURNAL
Embarked at Fort Chepewyan, on the Lake of
the Hills) in compuny with M. Le Roux.   Account of the party, provisions, &c.    Direction
of the course.    Enter one of the branches of
the Lake.    Arrive in the Peace River.    Appearance of the land. Navigation of the river.
Arrive at the mouth of the Dog River.    Successive description of several carrying places.
A canoe lost in one of the Falls.    Encamp on
Point de Roche.    Course continued.    Set the
nets, &c.    Arrive at the Slave Lake.    The
weather extremely cold.    Banks of the river
described, with its  trees, soil, £sfc.    Account
of the animal productions, and the fishery of
the Lake.    Obliged to wait till the moving of
the ice.    Three families   of Indians  arrive
from Athabasca.    Beavers, geese, and swans
killed.    The nets endangered by ice.    Re-im-
bark and land on a small island.    Course continued along the shores, and across the bays of
the Lake.     Various successes of the hunters.
Steer for an island where there was plenty of
cranberries  and small onions.    Kill several
rein deer.    Land on an island named Isle a la
Cache.    Clouds of musquitoes.
June s!789.   f
Wednesday, 3. WE embarked at nine in the
morning, at Fort Chepewyan, on the South side
of the Lake of the Hills, in latitude 58. 40. North,
and longitude 110. 30. West from Greenwich,
I f
and compass has sixteen degrees variation East,
in a canoe made of birch bark. The crew consisted of four Canadians, two of whom were attended by their wives, and a German; we were
accompanied also by an Indian, who had acquired the title of English Chief, and his two wives,
in a small canoe, with two young Indians; his
followers in another small canoe. These men
were engaged to serve us in the twofold capacity
of interpreters and hunters. This chief has been
a principal leader of his countrymen who were in
the habit of carrying furs to Churchill Factory,
Hudson's Bay, and till of late very much attached
to the interest of that company. These circumstances procured him the appellation of the English Chiefs • f
We were also accompanied by a canoe that I
had equipped for the purpose of trade, and given
the charge of it to M. Le Roux, one of the Company's clerks. In this I was obliged to ship part
of our provision ; which, with the clothing necessary for us on the voyage, a proper assortment
of the articles of merchandize as presents, to ensure us a friendly reception among the Indians,
and the ammunition and arms requisite for defence, as well as a supply for our hunters, were
more than our own canoe could carry, but by the
time we should part company, there was every
reason to suppose that our expenditure Would
make sufficient room for the whole.
We proceeded twenty one miles to the West,
and then took a course of nine miles to North-
North-West, when we entered the river^ or one
of the branches of the lake, of which there are
several. We then steered North five miles, when
our course changed for two miles to North-North
East, and here at seven in the evening we landed
and pitched our tents.    One of the hunters killed NORTH-WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.
a goose, and a couple of ducks : at the same time
the canoe was taken out of the water, to be gummed, which necessary business was effectually
Thursday, 4. We embarked at four this morning, and proceeded North-North-East half a mile,
North one mile and a half, West two miles,
North-West two miles, West-North-West one
mile and a half, North-North-West half a mile,
and West-North-West two miles, when this
branch loses itself in the Peace River. It is remarkable, that the currents of these various branches of the lake, when the Peace River is high,
as in May and August, run into the lake, which,
in the other months of the year returns its waters
to them ; whence, to this place, the branch is not
more than two hundred yards wide, nor less than
an hundred and twenty. The banks are rather
low, except in one place, where an huge rock
rises above them. The low land is covered with
wood, such as white birch, pines of different kinds,
with the poplar, three kinds of willow, and the
The Peace River is upwards of a mile broad at
this spot, and its current is stronger than that of
the channel which communicates with the lake.
It here, indeed, assumes the name of the Slave
River.* The course of this day was as follows :—North-West two miles, North-North-
West, through islands, six miles, North four
miles and a half, North by East two miles, West
by North six miles, North one mile, North-East
by East two miles, North one mile. We now
descended a rapid, and proceeded North-West
* The Slave Indians having been driven from their original country,
by their enemies the Knisteneaux, along the borders of this part of the
river, it received that title, though it by no means involves the idea of
servitude, but was given to these fugitives as a term of reproach, that
denoted more than common savageness.
.- MrJ
seven $iile§ and & half, North-West nine miles,
North by West six miles, North-West by West
one mile and a half, North-West by North half a
mile, North-North-West six miles, North one
mile, North-West by West four miles, North-
North-East one mile. Here we arrived at the
moifcth of the Dog River, where we landed, and
unloaded our canoes, at half past, seven in the
evening, on the East side, and close by the rapids.
At this station the river is near two leagues in
Friday, 5. At three o'clock in the morning we
embarked, but unloaded our canoes at the first
rapid. When we had reloaded, we entered a
small channel, which is formed by the islands,
and, in about half an hour, we came to the carrying place. It is three hundred and eighty paces m
length, and very commodious, except at the further end of it. We found some difficulty in reloading at this spot, from the large quantity of ice
which had not yet thawed. From hence to the
next carrying-place, called the Portage d'Embar-
ras, is about six miles, and is occasioned by the
drift wood filling up the small channel, which is
one thousand and twenty paces in Length ^ from
hence to the next is one mile and a half, while the
distance to that which succeeds, does not exceed
one hundred and fifty yards. It is about the same
length as the last"; and from hence to the carrying
place called the Mountain, is about four miles further ; when we entered the great river. The
smaller one, or the channel, affords by far the best
passage, as it is without hazard of any kind;
though I believe a shorter course would be found
on the outside of the islands, and without so many
carrying-places. That called the Mountain is
three hundred and thirty-five paces in length; from
thence to the next, named the Pelican, there is NORTH-WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.    5
about a mile of dangerous rapids. The landing is
very steep, and close to the fall. The length of
this carrying-place is eight hundred and twenty
The whole of the party were now employed in
taking the baggage and the canoe up the hill. One
of the Indian canoes went down the fall, and was
dashed to pieces. The woman who had the management of it, by quitting it in time, preserved
her life, though she lost the little property it contained.
The course from the place we quitted in the
morning is about North-West, and comprehends
a distance of fifteen miles. From hence to the
next and last carrying-place, is about nine miles ;
in which distance there are three rapids : course
North-West by West. The carrying path is v#
ry bad, and five hundred and thirty-five paces in
length. Our canoes being lightened, passed on
tile outside of the opposite island; which rendered the carrying of the baggage very short indeed,
beins: not more than the length of a canoe. In
tfee year 1786, five men were drowned, and two
canoes and some packages lost, in the rapids on
the other side of the river, which occasioned this
place to be called the Portage des Noyes. They
were proceeding to the Slave Lake, in the fall of
that year, under the direction of Mr. Cuthbert
Grant. We proceeded from hence six miles, and
encamped on Point de Roche, at half past five in
the afternoon. The men and Indians were very
much fatigued ; but the hunters had provided
seven geese, a beaver, and four ducks.
Saturday, 6. We embarked at half past two
in the morning, and steered North-West by North
twenty-one miles, North-West by West five
miles, West-North-West four miles, West six
jniles,   doubled  a point North-North-East  one
n<l wmmt
\i "JwiTTj jr y ^Tftlffr   i*^
■m luinitiii i»wmh"Hi I mm
mile, East five miles, North two miles, North-
West by North one mile and a half, West-North-
West three miles, North-East by East two miles,
doubled a point one mile and a half, West by
North nine miles, North-West by West six miles,
North-North-West five miles ; here we landed at
six o'clock in the evening, unloaded, and encamped. Nets were also set in a small adjacent river.
We had an head wind during the greater part of
the dav, and the weather was become so cold
that the Indians were obliged to make use of their
mittens.|§ In this day's progress we killed seven
geese and six ducks.
Sunday, 7. At half past three we renewed our
voyage, and proceeded West-North-West one
mile, round an island one mile, North-West two
miles and a half, South by West three miles,
West-South-West one mile, South-West by
South half a mile, North- West three miles, West-
North-West three miles and a half, North seven
miles and a half, North-West by North four miles,
North two miles and a half, North-West bj|North
two miles. The rain, which had prevailed for
some time, now came on with such violence, that
we were obliged to land and unload, to prevent
the goods and baggage from getting wet; the
weather, however, soon cleared up, so that we
reloaded the canoe, and got under way. We now
continued our course North ten miles, West one
mile and a half, and North one mile and a half,
when the rain came on again, and rendered it absolutely necessary for us to get on shore for the
night, at about half past three. We had a strong
North-North-East wind throughoutthe day, which
greatly impeded us ; M. Le Roux, however, with
his party, passed on in search of a landing placfc
more agreeable to them.    The Indians killed a NORTH-WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.   |'     |_
couple of geese, and as many ducks.    The rain
continued through the remaining part of the day.
Monday, 8. The night was very boisterous,
and the rain did not cease till two in the afternoon
of this day ; but as the wind did not abate of its
violence, we were prevented from proceeding till
the morrow.
Tuesday, 9. We embarked at half past two in the
morning, the weather being calm and foggy.  Soon
after our two young men joined us, whom we had
not seen for two days ;  but during their absence
they had killed four beavers and ten geese.    After
a course of one mile North-West by North, we observed an opening on the right, which we took
for a fork of the river, but it proved to be a lake.
We returned and steered South-West by West
one mile and a half, West-South-West one mile
and a half, West one mile, when we entered a
very small branch of the river on the East bank ;
at the mouth of which I was informed there had
been a carrying-place, owing to the quantity of
drift wood, which then filled up the passage, but
has since been carried away.    The course of this
river is meandering, and tends to the North, and
in about ten miles falls into the Slave Lake, where
we arrived at nine in the morning, when we found
a great change in the weather, as it was become
extremely cold.    The lake was entirely covered
with ice, and did not seem in any degree to have
given way, but near the shore.    The gnats and
muskitoes which were very troublesome during
our passage along the river, did not venture to accompany us to this colder region.
The banks of the river both above and below
the rapids, were on both sides covered with the
various kinds of wood common to this country,
particularly the Western side; the land being
lower and consisting of a rich black soil.    This 8     JOURNAL OF A VOYAGE THROUGH THE
artificial ground is carried down by the stream,
and rests upon drift wood, so as to be eight or
ten feet deep. The eastern banks are more elevated, and the soil a yellow clay mixed with gravel ; so that the trees are neither so large or nu-*
merous as on the opposite shore. The ground
was not thawed above fourteen inches in depth |
notwithstanding the leaf was at its full growth;
while along the lake there was scarcely any appearance of verdure.
The Indians informed me, that, at a very small
distance from either bank of the river, are very
extensive plains, frequented by large herds of
buffaloes; while the moose and rein-deer keep in
the woods that border on it. The beavers, which
are in great numbers, build their habitations in
the small lakes and rivers, as, in the larger
streams, the ice carries every thing along with it,
during the spring. The mud-banks in the river
are covered with wild, fowl; and we this morning
killed two swans, ten geese, and one beaver, without suffering the delay of an hour; so that we
might have soon filled the canoe with them, if
that had been our object.
From the small river we steered Easts, along
the inside of a long sand-bank, covered with drift
wood and enlivened by a few willows, which
stretches on as far as the houses erected by
Messrs. Grant and Le Roux, in 1786. We often
ran aground, as for five successive miles the depth
of the water no where exceeded three feet. There
we found our people, who had arrived early in
the morning, and whom we had? not seen since
the preceding Sunday. We now unloaded the
canoe, and pitched our tents, as there was every
appearance that we should be obliged to remain
here for some time. I then ordered the nets to
be set, as it was absolutely necessary that the NOK i ri- w |jf| CONTINENT OF AMERICA.     9
store% provided for our future voyage should remain untouched. The fish we now caught were
carp, poisson inconnu, white fish, and trout.
Wednesday, 10. It rained during the greatest
part of the preceding night, and the weather did
not clear up till the afternoon of this day. This
circumstance had very much weakened the ice.,
and I sent two of the Indians on an hunting party
to a lake at the distance of nine miles, which,
they informed me, was frequented by animals of
various kinds. Our fishery this day was not so
abundant as it had been on the preceding afternoon.
Thursday, 11. The weather was fine and clear
with a strong westerly wind. The women were
employed in gathering berries of different sorts,
of which there are a great plenty; and I accompanied one of my people to a small adjacent island,
where we picked up some dozens of swan, geese,
and duck-eggs ; we also killed a couple of ducks
and a goose.
In the evening the Indians returned, without
having seen any of the larger animals. A swan
and a grey crane were the only fruits of their expedition. We caught no other fish but a small
quantity of pike, which is too common to be a
favourite food with the people of the country.
The ice moved a little to the eastward.
Friday, 12. The weather continued the same
as yesterday, and the musquitoes began to visit
us in great numbers. The ice moved again in
the same direction, and I ascended an hill, but
could not perceive that it was broken in the middle of the lake. The hunters killed a goose and
three ducks.
Saturday, 13. The weather was cloudy, and
the wind changeable till about sun-set, wrhen it
settled in the North.  It drove back the ice which
ml aaggsagg^--- -   3#ssg
■ K
was now very much broken along the shore, and
covered our nets. One of the hunters who had
been at the Slave River the preceding evening, returned with three beavers and fourteen geese. He
was accompanied by three families of Indians,
who left Athabasca the same day as myself: they
did not bring me any fowl; and they pleaded in
excuse, that they had travelled with so much expedition, as to prevent them from procuring sufficient provisions for themselves. Ry a meridian
line, I found the variation of the compass to be
about twenty degrees East.
Sunday, 14. The weather was clear and the
wind remained in the same quarter. The ice was
much broken, and driven to the side of the lake,
so that we were apprehensive for the loss of our
nets, as they could not, at present, be extricated.
At sun-set there was an appearance of a violent
gust of wind from the southward, as the sky became on a sudden, in that quarter, of a very dusky
blue colour, and the lightning was very frequent.
But instead of wind there came on a very heavy
rain, which promised to diminish the quantity of
broken ice.
Monday, 15. In the morning, the bay still continued to be so full of ice, that we could not get at
our nets. About noon, the wind veered to the Westward, and not only uncovered the nets, but cleared a passage to the opposite islands. When we
raised the nets we found them very much shattered, and but few fish taken. We now struck our
tents, and embarked at sun-set, when we made
the traverse, which was about eight miles North-
East by North in about two hours. At half past
eleven P. M. we landed on a small island and proceeded to gum the canoe. At this time the atmosphere was sufficiently clear to admit of reading or writing without the aid of artificial light. **SM
We had not seen a star since the second day after
We left Athabasca. About twelve o'clock, the
moon made its appearance above the tops of the
trees, the lower horn being in a state of eclipse,
which continued for about six minutes, in a
cloudless sky.
I took soundings three times in the course of the
traverse, when I found six fathoms water, with a
muddy bottom.
Tuesday, 16. We were prevented from embarking this morning by a very strong wind from the
North, arid the vast quantity of floating ice. Some
trout were caught with the hook and line, but the
net was not so successful. I had an observation
which gave 61. 28. North latitude.
The wind becoming moderate, we embarked
about one, taking a North-West course, through
islands of ten miles, in which we took in a considerable quantity of water. After making several
traverses, we landed at five P. M. and having
pitched our tents, the hooks, lines, and nets, were
immediately set. During the course of the day
there was occasional thunder.
Wednesday, 17. We proceeded, and taking up
our nets as we passed, we found no more than
seventeen fish, and were stopped within a mile by
the ice. The Indians, however, brought us back
to a point where our fishery was very successful.
They proceeded also on a hunting party, as well as
to discover a passage among the islands; but at
three in the afternoon they returned without having succeeded in either object. We were, however, in expectation, that, as the wind blew very
strong, it would force a passage. About sun-set,
the weather became overcast, with thunder, lightning, and rain.
Thursday, 18. The nets were taken up at four
thifr morning with abundance offish, and westeer-
•ed North-West four miles, where the ice again
prevented our progress. A South-East wind
drove it among the islands, in such a manner as
to impede our passage, and we could perceive at
some distance a-head, that it was but little broken.
We now set our nets in four fathom water. Two
of our hunters had killed a rein-deer and its fafra.
They had met with two Indian fai^lies, a^d ift
the evening, a man belonging to one of them, p#id
us a visit; he informed me, that the ice had not
sfciryed on the side of the inland opposite to us.
These people live entirely on fish, and were
Waiting to cross the lake as soon as it should be
clear of ice.
Friday, 19. This morning our nets were unproductive, as they yielded us no more than six
fish, which were-of a very bad kind. In the forenoon, the Indians proceeded to the large island
opposite to us, ifi search 01 game. The weaifeer
was cloudy,, and the wind changeable; at the
same time, we were pestered by musquitoes,
though, ip a great measure, surrounded with ice.
Saturday, 20. We took up our nets, but without any fish. It rained very hard during the
night and this morning: nevertheless, M. Le
Roux and his people went back to the point which
we had quitted on the 18th, but I did not think
it prudent to move. As I was watching for a passage through the ice, I promised to send for them
when I could ofefc&n it. It rained at intervals till
about five o'clock; when we loaded our czuioe,
and steered for the large island, West six miles.
When we came to the point of it, we found a great
quantity of ice; we, however, set our nets, and
soon caught plenty of fish. In our way thither
we met our hunters, but they had taken nothing.
I took soundings at an hundred yards from the
island, when we were in twenty-one fathom water. NORTH-WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.
1 <3
Here we found abundance of cranberries and small
spring onions. I now dispatched two men for M.
Le Roux, and his people.
Suftday, 21. A Southerly wind blew through
the night, and drove the ice to the Northward.
TFftte.'two men whom I had sent to M. Le Roux,
returned at eight this morning; they parted with
him at a small distance from us, but the wind blew
so hard, that he was obliged to put to shore. H&v-
ing a glimpse of the sun, when it was twelve by
my watch, I found the latitude 61. 34. North latitude. At two in the afternoon, M. Le Roux, and
his people arrived. At five, the ice being almost
all driven past to the Northward, we accordingly
embarked, and steered West fifteen miles, through
much broken ice, and on the outside of the islands,
though it appeared to be very solid to the North-
East. I sounded three times in this distance, and
found it seventy-five, forty-four, and sixty fathom
water. We pitched our tents on one of a cluster
of small islands that were within three miles of the
main land, which we could not reach in consequence of the ice.
We saw some rein-deer on one of these islands,
and our hunters went in pursuit of them, when
they killed five large and two small ones, which
was easily accomplished, as the animals had no
shelter to which they could run for protection.
They had, without doubt, crossed the ice to this
spot, and the thaw coming on had detained them
there, and made them an easy prey to the pursuer. This island was accordingly named Isle
de Carreboeuf.
I sat up the whole of this night to observe the
setting and rising of th^ sun. That orb was beneath the horizon four hours twenty-two minutes,
and rose North 20. East by compass. It, however, froze so hard, that, during the sun's disap-
pearance, the water was covered with ice half a
quarter of an inch thick.
Monday, 22. We embarked at half past three
in the morning, and rounding the outside of the
islands, steered North-West thirteen miles along
the ice, edging in for the main land, the wind
West, then West two miles; but it blew so hard
as to oblige us to land on an island at half past
nine, from whence we could just distinguish land
to the South-East, at the distance of about twelve
leagues; though we could not determine, whether it was a continuation of the islands, or the
shores of the lake.* I took an observation at
noon, which gave me 61. 53. North, the variation
of the compass being, at the same time, about/
two points. M. Le Roux's people having provided two bags ofpemican-\ to be left in the island
against their return; it was called Isle a la Cache.
The wind being moderated, we proceeded again
at half past two in the afternoon, and steering
West by North among the islands, made a course
of eighteen miles. We encamped at eight o'clock
on a small island, and since eight in the morning
had not passed any ice. Though the weather
was far from being warm, we were tormented,
and our rest interrupted, by the host of musqui-
toes that accompanied us.
* Sometimes the land looms, so that there may be a great deception
as to the distance; and I think this was the case at present.
f Flesh dried in the sun, and afterwards pounded for the convenience
of carriage.
Landed at some lodges of Red-Knife Indians :
procure one of them to assist in navigating the
bays: Conference with the Indians. Take
leave of M. Le Roux, and continue the voyage. Different appearances of the land; its
vegetable produce. Visit an island where the
wood had been felled. Further description of
the Coast. Plenty of rein and moose-deer, and
white partridges. Enter a very deep bay.
Interrupted by ice. Very blowing weather.
Continue to coast the bay. Arrive at the mouth
of a river. Great numbers of fish and wildfowl. Description of the land on either side.
Curious appearance of woods that had been
burned. Came in sight of the Horn Mountain*
Continue to kill geese and swans, &c. Violent
June 1789.
Tuesday, £3. TOWARDS morning, the Indians who had not been able to keep up with us
the preceding day, now joined us, and brought
two swans and a goose. At half past three we
re-embarked, and steering West by North a mile
and an half, with a Northerly wind, we came to
the foot of a traverse across a deep bay, West five
miles, which receives a considerable river at the
bottom of it; the distance about twelve miles.
The North-West side of the bay was covered with
many small islands that were surrounded with
ice ; but the wind driving it a little off. the land,
we had a clear passage on the inside of them* We
steered South-West nine miles under sail, then
North-West nearly, through the islands, forming
a course of sixteen miles.    We landed on the
1 T
main land at half past two in the afternoon at three
lodges of Red-Knife Indians, so called from their
copper knives. They informed us, that there
were many more lodges of their friends at no great
distance ; and one of the Indians set off to fetch
them : they also said, that we should see no more
of them at present; as the Slave and Reaver Indians, as well as others of the tribe, would not
be here till the time that the swans cast their feathers.    In the afternoon it rained a torrent.
Wednesday, 24. M. Le Roux purchased of
these Indians upwards of eight packs of good beaver and marten skins; and there were not above
twelve of them qualified to kill beaver. The English chief got upwards of an hundred skins on
the score of debts due to him, of which he had
many outstanding in this country. Forty of them
he gave on account of debts due by him ^inee the
winters of 1786 and 1787, at the Slave Lake ; the
rest he exchanged for rum and other necessary
articles ; and I added a small quantity of that liquor as an encouraging present to him and his
young men. I had several consultations with
these Copper Indian people, but could obtain no
information that was material to our expedition;
nor were they acquainted with any part of the
river, which was the object of my research, but
the mouth of it. In order to save as much time
as possible in circumnavigating the bays, I engaged one of the Indians to conduct us ; and I accordingly equipped him with various articles of
clothing, &c. I also purchased a large new canoe, that he might embark with the two young
Indians in my service.
This day, at noon, I took an observation, which
gave me 62. 24. North latitude ; the variation of
the compass being about twenty-six or twenty-
seven degrees to the East. ^1
In the afternoon I assembled the Indians, in
order to inform them that I should take my departure on the following day ; but that people would
remain on the spot till their countrymen, whom
they had mentioned, should arrive; and that, if
they brought a sufficient quantity of skins to make
it answer, the Canadians would return for more
good;?, with a view to winter here, and build a
fort,* which would be contained as long as they
should be found to deserve it*    They assured me
that it would be a great encouragement to them to
have a settlement of ours in their country ; and
that they should exert themselves to the utmost to
kill beaver, as they would then be certain of getting an adequate value for them. Hitherto, they
said, the Chepewyans always pillaged them; or,
at most, gave little or nothing for the fruits of
their labour, which had greatly discouraged them;
and that, in consequence of this treatment, they
had no motive to pursue the beaver, but to obtain
a sufficient quantity of food and raiment.
I now wrote to Messrs. Macleod and Mackenzie, and addressed my papers to the former, at
Thursday, 25. We left this place at three this
morning, our canoe being deeply laden, as we
had embarked some packages that had come in
the canoes of M. Le Roux. We were saluted on
our departure with some vollies of small arms,
which we returned, and steered South by West
straight across the bay, which is here no more
than two miles and a half broad, but, from the
accounts of the natives, it is fifteen leagues in
depth, with a much greater breadth in \ several
parts, and full of islands. I sounded in the course
of the traverse and found six fathoms with a sandy
fori,; is the name given to any establishment in this country.
r f
bottom. Here, the land has a very different appearance f#m that on which we have been since
we entered the lake. Till we arrived here there
was one continued view of high hills and islands
of solid rock, whose surface was occasionally enlivened with moss, shrubs, and a few scattered
trees, of a very stinted growth, from an insufficiency of soil to nourish them. But, notwithstanding their barren appearance, almost every
part of them produces berries of various kinds,
such as cranberries, juniper-berries, raspberries,
partridge-berries, gooseberries, and the pathe-
gomenan, which is something like a raspberry;
it grows on a small stalk about a foot and a half
high, in wet, mossy spots. These fruits are in
great abundance, though they are not to be found
in the same places, but in situations and aspects
suited to their peculiar natures.
The land which borders the lake in this part is
loose and sandy, but is well covered with wood,
composed of trees of a larger growth : it gradually
rises from the shore, and at some distance forms a
ridge of high land running along the coast, thick
with wood and a rocky summit rising above it.
We steered South-South-East nine miles, when
we were very much interrupted by drifting ice,
and with some difficulty reached an island, where
we landed at seven. I immediately proceeded to
the further part of it, in order to discover if there
was any probability of our being able to get from
thence in the course of the day. It isabout five
miles in circumference, and I was very much surprised to find that the greater part of the wood with
which it was formerly covered, had been cut down
within twelve or fifteen years, and that the remaining stumps were become altogether rotten.
On making inquiry concerning the cause of this
extraordinary circumstance, the English chief in- NORTH-WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.   19
formed me, that several winters ago, many of the
Slave Indians inhabited the islands that were scattered over the bay, as the surrounding waters
abound with fish throughout the year, but that
they had been driven away by the Knisteneaux,
who continually made war upon them. If an establishment is to be made in this country, it must
be in the neighbourhood of this place, on account
of the wood and fishery. ||f|
At eleven we ventured to re-embark, as the
wind had driven the greatest part of the ice past
the island, though we still had to encounter some
broken pieces of it, which threatened to damage
our canoe. We steered South-East from point to
point across five bays, twenty-one miles. We
took soundings several times, and found from six
to ten fathom water. I observed that the country
gradually descended inland, and was still better
covered with wood than in the higher parts.—
Wherever we approached the land, we perceived
deserted lodges. The hunters killed two swans
and a beaver; and at length we landed at eight
o'clock in the evening, when we unloaded and
gummed our canoe.
Friday, 26. We continued our route at five
o'clock, steering South-East for ten miles across
two deep bays; then South-South-East, with islands in sight to the Eastward. We then traversed
another bay in a course of three miles, then South
one mile to a point which we named the Detour,
and South-South-West four miles and an half,
when there was an heavy swell of the lake. Here
I took an observation, when we were in 61. 40.
North latitude. We then proceeded South-
West four miles, and West-South-West among
islands: on one of which our Indians killed two
rein-deer, but we lost three hours aft wind in going
for them : this course was nine miles.   About se
I If
'1g$n in the evening we were obliged to land for the
night, as the wind became too strong from the
South-East. We thought we could observe land
in this direction when the wind was coming on
from some distance. On the other side of the Detour, the land is low, and the shore is flat and dangerous, there being no safe place to land in bad
weather, except in the islands which we had just
passed. There seemed to be plenty of moose and
rein-deer in this country, as we saw their tracks
wherever we landed. There are also great numbers of white partridges, which were at this season
of a grey colour, like that of the moor-fowl. There
was some floating ice in the lake, and the Indians
killed a couple of swans.
Saturday, 27. At three this morning we were
in the canoe, after having passed a very restless
night from the persecution of the musquitoes. The
weather was fine and calm, and our course West
South-West nine miles, when we came to the foot
of a traverse, the opposite point in sight bearing
South-West, distance twelve miles. The bay is at
least eight miles deep, and this course two miles
more, in all ten miles. It now became very foggy,
and as the bays were so numerous, we landed for
two hours, when the weather cleared up, and we
took the advantage of steering South thirteen miles,
and passed several small bays, when we came to
the point of a very deep one, whose extremity was
not discernible; the land bearing South from us,
at the distance of about ten miles. Our guide not
having been here for eight winters, was at a loss
what course to take, though as well as he could recollect, this bay appeared to be the entrance of the
river. Accordingly, we steered down it, about
West-South-West, till we were involved in a field
of broken ice. We still could not discover the
bottom of the bay, and a fog coming on, made it 0E&
very difficult for us to get to an island to the South-
West, and it was nearly dark when we effected a
Sunday, 28. At a quarter past three we were
again on the water, and as we could perceive no
current setting into this bay, we made the best of
our way to the point that bore South from us yesterday afternoon. We continued our course South
three miles more, South by West seven miles,
West fifteen miles, when by observation we were
in 61 degrees North latitude; we then proceeded
West-North-West two miles. Here we came to
the foot of a traverse, the opposite land bearing
South-West, distance fourteen miles, when we
steered into a deep bay, about a westerly course;
and though we had no land ahead in sight, we indulged the hope of finding a passage, which, according to the Indian, would conduct us to the
entrance of the river.
Having a strong wind aft, we lost sight of the
Indians, nor could we put on shore to wait for
them, without risking material damage to the canoe, till we ran to the bottom of the bay, and were
forced among the rushes; when we discovered
that there was no passage there. In about two or
three hours they joined us, but would not approach
our fire, as there was no good ground for an encampment : they emptied their canoe of the water which it had taken in, and continued their
route, but did not encamp till sun-set. j The English, cfas&f was very much irritated against the
Red-Knife Indian, and even threatened to murder
him, for having undertaken to guide us in a course
of which he was ignorant; nor had we any reason to be satisfied with him, though he still continued to encourage us, by declaring that he recollected having passed from the river, through
the woods, to the place where he had landed.   In lit
the blowing weather to-day, we were obliged to
make use of our large kettle, to keep our canoe
from filling, although we did not carry above three
feet sail.   The Indians very narrowly eacaped.
Monday, 29. We embarked at four this morning, and steered along the South-West side of the
bay. At half past five we reached the extremity
of the point, which we doubled, and found it to be
the branch or passage that wTas the object of our
search, and occasioned by a very long island, which
separates it from the main channel of the river. It
is about half a mile across, and not more than sis:
feet in depth ; the water appeared to abound in fish,
and was covered with fowl, such as swans, geese,
and several kinds of ducks, particularly black
ducks, that were very numerous, but we could not
get within gun shot of them.
The current, though not very strong, set us
South-West by West, and we followed this course
fourteen miles, till we passed the point of the long
island, where the Slave Lake discharges itself, and
is ten miles in breadth. There is not more than
from five to two fathom water, so that when the
lake is low, it may be presumed the greatest part
of this channel must be dry. The river now turns
to the Westward, becoming gradually narrower
for twenty-four miles, till it is not more than half
a mile wide ; the current, however, is then much
stronger, and the soundings were three fathom
and a half. The land on the North shore from the
lake is low, and covered with trees; that to the
South is much higher, and has also an abundance
of wood. The current is very strong, and the
banks are of an equal height on both sides, consisting of -a-yellow clay, mixed with small stones;
they are covered with large quantities of burned
wood, lying on the ground, and young poplar
trees, that have sprung up since the fire that destroyed the larger wood.  It is a very curious and
;.j*4jw. «***»
extraordinary circumstance, that land covered with
spruce pine, and white birch, when laid waste by
fire, should subsequently produce nothing but
poplars, where none of that species of tree were
previously to be found.
A stiff breeze from the Eastward drove us on at
a great rate under sail, in the same course, though
obliged to wind among islands. We kept the
North channel for about ten miles, whose current
is much stronger than that of the South; so that
the latter is consequently the better road to come
up. Here the river widened, and the wind dying
away, we had recourse to our paddles. We kept
our course to the North-West, on the North side
of the river, which is here much wider, and assumes the form of a small lake; we could not,
however, discover an opening in any direction, so
that we were at a loss what course to take, as our
Red-Knife Indian had never explored beyond our
present situation. He at the same time informed
us that a river falls in from the North, which takes its
rise in the HonvMountain, now in sight, which is
the country ^the Beaver Indians; and that he and
his relations frequently meet on that river. He
also added, that there are very extensive plains on
both sides of it, which abound in buffaloes and
moose deer.
By keeping this course, we got into shallows,
so that we were forced to steer to the left, till we
recovered deep water, which we followed till the
channel of the river opened onus to the south Avard,
we now made for the shore, and encamped soon
after sunset. Our course ought to have been West
fifteen miles, since we took to the paddle, the
Horn Mountains bearine: from us North-West.
and running North-North-East and South-South-
West. Our soundings, which were frequent during the course of the day, were from three to six
If ' r1
- «
f i
fathoms water. The hunters killed two geese and
a swan : it appeared, indeed, that great numbers
of fowls breed in the islands wdiich we had passed.
Tuesday, 30. At four this morning we got under way, the weather being fine and calm. Our
course was South-West by South thirty-six miles.
On the South side of the river is a ridge of low
mountains, running East and West by compass.
The Indians picked up a white goose, which appeared to have been lately shot with an arrow, and
was quite fresh. We proceeded South-West by
South six miles, and then came to a bav on our
left, which is full of small islands, and appeared
to be the entrance of a river from the South.
Here the ridge of mountains terminates. This
course was fifteen miles.
At six in the afternoon there was an appearance
of bad weather ; we landed therefore, for the night;
but before we could pitch our tents, a violent tempest came on, with thunder, lightning, and rain,
which, however, soon ceased, but not before we
had suffered the inconvenience of being drenched
by it. The Indians were very much fatigued,
having been employed in running after wild fowl,
which had lately cast their feathers ; they, however, caught five swans, and the same number of
geese. I sounded several times in the course of
the day, and found from four to six fathoms water.
Continue our course. The river narrows. Lost
the lead. Passed a small river. Violent rain.
Land on a small island. Expect to arrive at
the rapid. Conceal two bags of pemican in
an island. A view of mountains. Pass several encampments of the natives. Arrive
among the islands. Ascend a high hill. Violence of the current. Ice seen along the banks
of the river. Land at a village of the natives. Their conduct and appearance. Their
fabulous stories. The English Chief and Indians discontented. Obtain a new guide. Singular customs of the natives. An account of
their dances. Description of their persons,
dress, ornaments, buildings, arms for war
and hunting, canoes, £s?c. Passed on among
islands. Encamped beneath a hill, and prevented from ascending by the musquitoes.
Landed at an encampment. Conduct of the
inhabitants. They abound in fabulous accounts
of dangers. Land at other encampments. Procure plenty of hares and partridges. Our
guide anxious to return. Land and alarm the
natives, called the Hare Indians, &c. Exchange our guide.    State of the weather.
July,  1789.
Wednesday, 1. AT half past four in the morning we continued our voyage, and in a short time
found the river narrowed to about half a mile.
Our course was Westerly among islands, with a
strong ^current.. Though the land is high on both
sides, the banks are not perpendicular. This
course was twenty-one miles; and on sounding
we  found nine fathoms water.    We then pro*
- - •    ., ^ss£
,-«»** ^H If Mi lFf
m i
ceeded West-North-West nine miles, and passed
a river upon the South-East side ; we sounded,
and found twelve fathoms; and then we wrent
North-West by West three miles. Here I lost
my lead, which had fastened at the bottom, with
part of the line, tjje current running so strong
that we could not clear it with eight paddles, and
the strength of the line, which was equal to four
paddles. Continued North by West five miles,
and sawr a hisrh mountain, bearing South from
us; we then proceeded North-West by North
four miles. We now passed a small river on the
North side, then doubled a point to West-South-
West. At one o'clock there came on lisrhtninff
and thunder, with wind and rain, which ceased
in about half an hour, and left us almost deluged
with wet, as we did not land. There were great
quantities of ice along the banks of the river.
We landed upon a small island, where there
were the poles of four lodges standing, which we
concluded to have belonged to the Knisteneaux,
on their war excursions, six or seven years ago.
This course w7as fifteen miles West, to where
the river of the Mountain falls in from the Southward. It appears to be a very large river, whose
mouth is half a mile broad. About six f miles
further a small river flows in the same direction ;
and our whole course was twenty-four miles. We
landed opposite to an island, the mountains to the
Southward being in sight. As our canoe wTas
deeply laden, and being also in daily expectation
of coming to the rapids or fall, which we had
been taught to consider with apprehension, we
concealed two bags of pemican in the opposite
island, in the hope that they would be of future lis. The Indians were of a different
opinion, as they entertained no expectation of returning that season, when the hidden provisions
would be spoiled. Near us were two Indian encampments of the last year. By the manner in
which these people cut their wood, it appears that
they have no iron tools. The current was very
strong during the whole of this day's voyage, and
in the article of provisions two swans were all that
the hunters were able to procure.
Thursday, 2. The morning was very foggy:
but at half past five we embarked ; it cleared up,
however, at seven, when we discovered that the
water, from being very limpid and clear, was become dark and muddy. This alteration must
have proceeded from the influx of some river to
the Southward, but where these streams first
blended their waters, the fog had prevented us
from observing. At nine we perceived a very high
mountain a-head, which appeared, on our nearer
approach, to be rather a cluster of mountains,
stretching as far as our view could reach to the
Southward, and whose tops were lost in the clouds*
At noon there was lightning, thunder, and rain,
and at one, we came abreast of the mountains;
their summits appeared to be barren and rocky,
but their declivities were covered with wood;
they appeared also to be sprinkled with white
stones, which glistened in the sun, and were
called by the Indians manetoe aseniah, or spirit
stones. I suspected that they were Talc, though
they possessed a more brilliant whiteness; on our
return, however, these appearances were dissolved, as they were nothing more than patches
of snow.
Our course had been West-South-West thirty
miles and we proceeded with great caution, as we
continually expected to approach some great rapid or fall. This was such a prevalent idea, that
all of us were occasionally persuaded that we heard
those  sounds which betokened a fall of water,
■>,. i
t      ■ Will ft
e f
Our course changed to West by North, along the
mountains, twelve miles, North by West, twenty-
one miles, and at eight o'clock in the evening, we
went on shore for the night, on the North side of
the river. We saw several encampments of the
natives, some of which had been erected in the
present spring, and others at some former period.
The hunters killed only one swan and a beaver ;
the latter was the first of its kind which we had
seen in this river. The Indians complained of
the perseverance with which we pushed forward,
and that they were not accustomed to such severe
fatigue as it occasioned.
Friday, 3. The rain was continual through
the night, and did not subside till seven this morning, when we embarked and steered North-North-
West for twelve miles, the river being enclosed
by high mountains on either side. We had a
strong head-wind, and the rain was so violent as
to compel us to land at ten o'clock* According
to my reckoning, since my last observation, we
had run two hundred and seventeen miles West,
and forty four miles North. At a quarter past
two the rain subsided, and we got again under
way, our former course continuing for five miles.
Here a river fell in from the North, and in a short
time the current became strong and rapid, running with great rapidity among rocky islands,
which were the first that we had seen in this river, and indicated our near approach to rapids and
falls. Our present course was North-West by
North ten miles, North-West three miles, West-
North-West twelve miles, and North-West three
miles, when we encamped at eight in the even*
ing, at the foot of an high hill, on the North
shore, which in some parts rose perpendicular from the river. I immediately ascended it,
accompanied by two men and some Indians, and
^ jgmmmmm
in about an hour and an half, with very hard
walking, we gained the summit, when I was
very much surprised to find it crowned by an encampment. The Indians informed me, that it is
the custom of the people who have no arms to
choose these elevated spots for the places of their
residence, as they can render them inaccessible
to their enemies, particularly the Knisteneaux,
of whom they are in continual dread. The prospect from this height was not so extensive as we
expected, as it was terminated by a circular range
of hills, of the same elevation as that on which
we stood. The intervals between the hills were
covered with small lakes, which were inhabited
by great numbers of swans. We saw no trees but
the pine and the birch, which were small in size
and few in number.
We were obliged to shorten pur stay here, from
the swarms of musquitoes which attacked us on
all sides, and were, indeed, the only inhabitants of
the place. We saw several encampments of the
natives in the course of the day, but none of them,
were of this year's establishment. Since four in
the afternoon the current had been so strong, that
it was, at length, in an actual ebullition, and pro*,
duced an hissing noise like a kettle of water in a
moderate state of boiling. The weather was now
become extremely cold, which was the more sensibly felt, as it had been very sultry sometime before and since we had been in the river.
Saturday, 4. At five in the morning, the wind
and weather having undergone no alteration from
yesterday, we proceeded North-West by West
twenty-two miles, North-West six miles, North-
West by North four miles, and West-North-West
five miles; we then passed the mouth of a small
river from the North, and after doubling a point,
South-West one mile, we passed the influx of ano-
[J I
ther river from the South. We then continued
our course North-North-West, with a mountain
a-head, fifteen miles, when the opening of two
rivers appeared opposite to each other : we then
proceeded West four miles, and North-West thirteen miles. At eight in the evening, we encamped on an island, The current was as strong
through the whole of this day as it had been the
preceding afternoon; nevertheless, a quantity of
ice appeared along the banks of the river. The
hunters killed a beaver and a goose, the former of
which sunk before they could get to him : beavers, otters, bears, &c. if shot dead at once, remain like a bladder, but if there remains enough
of life for them to struggle, they soon fill with wra-
ter and go to the bottom.
Sunday, 5. The sun set last night at fifty-three
minutes past nine, by my watch, and rose at se-
tyen minutes before two this morning-:  we em*
backed soon after,   steering North-North-West,
through islands for five miles, and West four
miles.    The river fhen encreased in breadth, and
the current began to slacken in a small degree;
after the continuation of our course, we perceived
a ridge of high mountains before us,   covered
with s&ow, West-South-West ten miles, and at
three-quarters past seven o'clock, we saw several
smokes on the North shore, which we made eve?,
ry exertion <to approach.    As we drew nearer, we
discovered the natives running about in great apf;
parent confusion; some vyere making to the woods,
and; others hurryingUo their canoes.    Our hunters landed before us, arid addressed the few that
had not escaped, in the  Chipewyjui language,
which, so gseat was their conrafeion and terror,
they did  not appear to understand.    But when
they perceived that it was impossible to, avoid us,
>v iH
as we were all landed, they made us §igfts to keep
at a distance, with which we complied, and not
only unloaded our canoe, but pitched our tents,
before we made any attempt to approach them.
During this interval, the English chief and his
young men were employed in reconciling them to
our arrival; and when they had recovered from
their alarm, of hostile intention, it appeared that
some of them perfectly comprehended the language of our Indians ; so that they were at length
persuaded3 though not without evident signs pf
reluctance and apprehension, to come to us.
Their reception, however, soon dissipated their
fears, and they hastened to call their fugitive companions from their hiding places.
There were five families, consisting of twenty-
five or thirty persons, and of two different tribes,
the Slave and Dog-rib Indians. We made them
smoke, though it was evident they did not know
the use of tobacco; we likewise supplied them
with grog ; but I am disposed to think, that they
accepted our civilities rather from fear than inclination. We acquired a more effectual influence
over them by the distribution of knives, bead^
awls, rings, gartering, fire-steels, flints, and h&tch*
ets ; so that they became more familiar even than
we expected, for we co$ld not keep them out of
our tents : though I did not observe that they attempted to purloin any thing.
The information which they gave respecting
the river, had so much of the fabulous, that I
shall not detail it: it will be sufficient just to
mention their attempts to persuade us, that it
would require several winters to get to the sea,
and that old age womld come upon us before the
period of our return : we were also to encounter
monsters of such horrid shapes and destructive
powers as could only exist in their wiidimagina- 32   JOURNAL OF A VOYAGE THROUGH THE
tions. They added, besides, that there were two
impassable falls in the river, the first of which was
about thirty days march from us.
Thou eh I olaced no faith in these stranee rela-
tions, they had a very different effect upon our Indians, who were already tired of the voyage. It
was their opinion and anxious wish, that we
should not hesitate to return. They said that,
according to the information which they had received, there were verv few animals in the coun-
try beyond us, and that as we proceeded, the
scarcity would increase, and we should absolutely
perish from hunger, if no other accident befel us.
It was with no small trouble that they were con-
vinced of the folly of these reasonings ; and by my
desire, they induced one of those Indians to accompany us, in consideration of a small kettle, an
axe, a knife, and some other articles.
Though it was now three o'clock in the after*
noon, the canoe was ordered to be reloaded, and
as we were ready to embark our new recruit was
desired to prepare himself for his departure, which
he would have declined; but as none of his friends
would take his place, we may be said, after the
delay of an hour, to have compelled him to embark. Previous to his departure a ceremony took
place, of which I could not learn the meaning; he
cut off a lock of his hair, and having divided it
into three parts, he fastened one of them to the
hair on the upper part of his wife's head, blowing
on it three times with the utmost violence in his
power, and uttering certain words. The other
two he fastened with the same formalities, on the
heads of his two children.
During our short stay with these people, they
amused us with dancing, which they accompanied
with their voices : but neither their song or their
dance possessed much variety.    The men and NORTH-WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.
women formed a promiscuous ring. The former
have a bone dagger or piece of stick between the
fingers of the right hand, which they keep extended above the head, in continual motion : the left
they seldom raise so high, but work it backwards
and forwards in a horizontal direction; while they
leap about and throw themselves into various antic
postures, to the measure of their music, always
bringing their heels close to each other at every
pause. The men occasionally howl in imitation
of some animal, and he who continues this violent exercise for the longest period, appears to be
considered as the best performer. The women
suffer their arms to hang as .without the power of
motion. They are a meagre, ugly, ill-made
people, particularly about the legs, which are
very clumsy and covered with scabs. The latter
circumstance proceeds probably from their habitually roasting them before the fire. Many of
them appeared to be in a very unhealthy state,
which is owing, as I imagine, to their natural
filthiness. They are of a moderate stature, and
as far as could be discovered, through the coat of
dirt and grease that covers them, are of a fairer
complexion than the generality of Indians who are
the natives of warmer climates.
Some of them have their hair of a great length g
while others suffer a long tress to fall behind, and
the rest is cut so short as to expose their ears, but
no other attention whatever is paid to it. The
beards of some of the old men were long, and the
rest had them pulled out by the roots, so that not
a hair could be seen on their chins. The men
have two double lines, either black or blue, tattooed upon each cheek, from the ear to the nose.
The gristle of the latter is perforated so as to admit a goose-quill or a small piece of wood to be
passed through the orifice.     Their clothing is
mm I'll ,11
in If
made of the dressed skins of the rein or moose*
deer, though more commonly of the former*
These they prepare in the hair for winter, and
make shirts of both, which reach to the middle of
their thighs. Some of them are decorated with
an embroidery of very neat workmanship witfe
porcupine quills and the hair of the moose, coloured red, black, yellow, and white. Their
upper garments are sufficiently large to cover the
whole body, with a fringe round the bottom, and
are used both sleeping and awake. Their leggins
come half way up the thigh, and are sewed to
their shoes : they are embroidered round the ancle,
and upon every seam. The dress of the women
is the same as that of the men. The former have
no covering on their private parts, except a tassel
of leather which dangles from a small cord, as it
appears, to keep off the flies, which wcN&ld otherwise be very troublesome* Whether circumcision be practised among them, I cannot pretend
to say, but the appearance of it was general among
those whom I saw*
Their ornaments consist of gorgets, bracelets
for the arms and wrists, made of wood, horn, or
bone, belts, garters, and a kind of band to go
round the head, composed of strips of leather of
one inch and an half broad, embroidered with porcupine quills, and stuck round with the claws
of bears or wild fowl inverted, to which are suspended a few short thongs of the skin of an animal
that resembles the ermine, in the form of a tassel.
Their cinctures and garters are formed of porcupine quills woven with sinews, in a style of peculiar skill and neatness : they have others of different materials, and more ordinary Workmanship ; and to \ both they attach a long fringe of
strings of leather, worked round with hair of various colours.    Their mittens are also suspended
from the neck in a position convenient for the reception of the hands.     .   ''
Their lodges are of a very simple structure : a
few poles supported by a fork, and forming a semicircle at the bottom, with some branches or a
piece of bark as a covering, constitutes the whole
of their native architecture. They build two of
these huts facing each other, and make the fire
between them. The furniture harmonises with
the buildings : they have a few dishes of wood,
bark, or horn; the vessels in which they cook
their victuals:^ are in the shape of a gourd, narrow
at the top and wide at the bottom, and of watape,^
fabricated in such a manner as to hold water, which
is made to boil by putting a successon of red-hot
stones into it. These vessels contain from two
to six gallons. They have a number of small
leather bags to hold their embroidered work, lines,
and nets. They always keep a large quantity of
the fibres of willow bark, which they work into
thread on their thighs. Their nets are from three
to forty fathoms in length, and from thirteen to
thirty-six meshes in depth. The short deep ones
they set in the eddy current of rivers, and the long
ones in the lakes. They likewise make lines of
the sinews of the rein-deer, and manufacture their
hooks from wood, horn, or bone. Their arms
and weapons for hunting, are bows and arrows,
spears, daggers, and pogamagans, or clubs. The
bows are about five or six feet in length, and the
strings are of sinews or raw skins. The arrows
are two feet and an half long, including the barb,
which is variously formed of bone, horn, flint,
iron, or copper, and are winged with three fea-
* Watape is the name given to the divided roots of the spruce-fir.
Wtiich. the natives weave into a degree of compactness that renders it ca*
pabie of containing a fluid. The different parts of the bark canoes are
also sewed together with this kind of filament.
i A
thers. The pole of the spears is about six feet in
length, and pointed with a barbed bone of ten
inches. With this weapon they strike the reindeer in the water. The daggers are flat and sharp-
pointed, about twelve inches long, and made of
horn or bone. The pogamagon is made of the
horn of the rein-deer, the branches being all cut
off, except that which forms the extremity. This
instrument is about two feet in length, and is employed to dispatch their enemies in battle, and such
animals as they catch in snares plafced for that purpose. These are about three fathom long, and
are made of the green skin of the rein or moose-
deer, but in such small strips, that it requires
from ten to thirty strands to make this cord, which
is not thicker than a cod-line ; and strong enough
to resist any animal that can be entangled in it.
Snares or nooses are also made of sinews to take
lesser animals, such as hares and white partridges,
which are very numerous. Their axes are manufactured of a piece of brown or grey stone from six
to eirfit inches long;, and two inches thick. The
inside is flat, and the outside round and tapering
to an edge, an inch wide. They are fastened by
the middle with the flat side inwards to a handle
two feet long, with a cord of green skin. This is
the tool with which they split their wood, and we
believe, the only one of its kind among them.
They kindle fire, by striking together a pieee of
white or yellow pyrites and a flint stone, over a
piece of touchwood. They are universally provided with a small bag containing these materials,
so that they are in a continual state of preparation
to produce fire. From the adjoining tribes, the
Red-Knives and Chepewyans, they procure, in
barter for marten skins and a few beaver, small
pieces of iron, of which they manufacture knives,
by fixing them at the end of a short stick, and
with them and the beaver's teeth, they finish all KORTH-WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.
their work. They keep them in a sheath hanging
to their neck, which also contains their awls both
of iron and horn.
Their canoes are small, pointed at both ends,
flat-bottomed and covered in the fore part. They
are made of the bark of the birch-tree and fir-
wood, but of so slight a construction, that the man
whom one of these light vessels bears on the water, can, in return, carry it over land without any
difficulty. It is very seldom that more than one
person embarks in them, nor are they capable of
receiving more than two. The paddles are six
feet long, one half of which is occupied by a blade
of about eight inches wide^ These people informed us, that we had passed large bodies of Indians
who inhabit the mountains on the east side of the
At four o'clock in the afternoon we embarked,
and our Indian acquaintance promised to remain
on the bank of the river till the fall, in case we
should return. Our course was West-South-West,
and we soon passed the Great-Bear-Lake River,
which is of a considerable depth, and a hundred
yards wide: its water is clear, and has the greenish hue of the sea. We had not proceeded more
than six miles when we were obliged to land for
the night, in consequence of an heavy gust of
wind, accompanied with rain. We encamped beneath a rocky hill, on the top of which, according
to the information of our guide, it blew a storm
every day throughout the year. He found himself very uncomfortable in his new situation, and
pretended that he was very ill, in order that he
might be permitted to return to his relations. To
prevent his escape it became necessary to keep a
strict watch over him during the night.
Monday, 6. At three o'clock, in a very raw
and cloudy morning, we embarked, and steered
West-South-West four miles, West four mites,
West-North-West five miles, West eight rniles$
West by South sixteen miles, West twenty-sevien
miles, South-West nine miles, then West six
miles, and encamped at half past seven. We pas$*
ed through numerous islands, and had the ridge
of snowy mountains always in sight. Q$r c©^
ductor informed us that great numbers of feears
and small white buffaloes, frequent those rnpun-
tains, which are also inhabited by Indians, .;-8RTe
encamped in a similar situation to thai of th&pre*
ceding evening, beneath another high rocky hill,
which I attempted to ascend, in company with on$
of the hunters, but before we had g*$ half way
to the summit, we were alniQSt sufloeated by
clouds of mu§quitoes, and were, obliged to retwn.
I observed, however, that the mountains terminated here, and that a river flowed from the Westward : I also discovered a strong ripJilxg qurrent. or
rapid which ran close under a steep pr^oipifce of
the hill.
Tuesday, 7. We embarked at four in the morn>
ing, and crossed to the opposite side of the river, in
Consequence of the rapid; tgut we might hav§
spared ourselves this trouble, a§ there would have
been no danger in continuing our course, without
any circuitous deviation whatever. This citfQum-
stance convinced us of the erroneous account gi-.
ven by the natives of the great and approaching
dangers of our navigation, as this rapid was stat-<
ed to be one of them. Our course was now
North-North-West three miles, West-North-
West four miles, North-West ten miles, North
two miles, when we came to a river that flowed
from the Eastward. Here we landed at an encampment of four fires, all the inhabitants of which
ran off with the utmost speed, except an old man
and an old woman.    Our guide called aloud to NORTH-WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.   3
tfee fugitives, aa§l entreated them to stay, but without effect: the old man, however, did not hesitate
to approach us, and represented himself as too far
advanced in life, and too indifferent about th$
short time he had to remain in the world, to be
very anxious about escaping from any danger that
threatened him; at the same time he pulled his
grey hairs from his head by handfuls to distribute
among us, and implored our favour for himself
$nd his relations. Our guide, however, at length
removed his fears, and persuaded him to recal the
fugitives, who consisted of eighteen people;
whom I reconciled to me on their return with
presents of beads, kfiives, awls, &c. with which
they be greatly delighted. They differed in no respect from those whom we had already seen; nor were they deficient in hospitable
attentions ; they provided us with fish, which was
very well boiled, and cheerfully accepted by us.
Our guide still sickened after his home, and was
so anxious to return thither, that we were under
the necessity of forcing him to embark.
These people informed us that we were close to
another great rapid, and that there were several
lodges of their relations in its vicinity. Four canoes, with a man in each, followed us, to point out
the particular channels we should follow for the
secure passage of the rapid. They also abounded
in discouraging stories concerning the dangers and
difficulties which we were to encounter.
From hence our course was North-North-East
two miles, when the river appeared to be enclosed,
as it were, with lofty, perpendicular, white rocks,
which did not afford us a very agreeable prospect.
We now went on shore, in order to examine the rapid, but did not perceive any signs of it, though
the Indians still continued to magnify its dangers;
however, as they ventured down it, in their small
canoes, our apprehensions were consequently removed, and we followed tihem at some di&tance, but
did not find any increase in the rapidity of the current; at length the Indians informed us that we
should find no other rapid but that which was now
bearing us along. The river at this place is not
above three hundred yards in breadth, but on
sounding I found fifty fathoms water. At the
two rivulets that offer their tributary streams from
either side, we found six families, consisting of
about thirty-five persons, who gave us an ample
quantity of excellent fish, which were, however,
confined to white fish, the poisson inconnu, and
another of a round form and greenish colour, which
was about fourteen inches in length. We gratified
them with a few presents, and continued our voyage. The men, however, followed us in fifteen
This narrow channel is three miles long, and its
course North-North-East. We then steered North
three miles, and landed at an encampment of three
or more families, containing twenty-two persons,
which was situated on the bank of a river, of a considerable appearance, which came from the Eastward. We obtained hares and partridges from
these people, and presented in return such articles
as greatly delighted them. They very much regretted that they had no goods or merchandize to
exchange with us, as they had left them at a lake,
from whence the river issued, and in whose vicinity some of their people were employed in setting
snares for rein-deer. They engaged to go for their
articles of trade, and would wait our return, which
we assured them would be within two months.
There wras a youth among them in the capacity of
a slave, whoih our Indians understood much better than any of the natives of this country whom
they had yet seen; he was invited to accompany
X^ ^Ss^- ■mi
us, but took the first opportunity to conceal him-
aelf, and we saw him no more.
We now steered West five miles, when we
again landed, and found two families, containing
seven people, but had reason to believe that there
were others hidden in the woods. We received
from t^em two dozen of hares, and they were
about to boil two more, which they also gave us.
We-jfjggre not ungrateful for their kindness, and
left them. Our course was now North-West
four miles, and at nine we landed and pitched our
tents, when one of our people killed a grey crane.
Our conductor renewed his complaints, not, as he
assured us, from any apprehension of our ill-treatment, but of the Esquimaux, whom he represented
as a very wicked and malignant people; who
would put us all to death. He added, also, that it
wras but two summers since a large party of them
came up this river, and killed many of his relations. Two Indians followed us from the last
Wednesday, 8. At half past two in the morning we embarked, and steered a Westerly course,
and soon after put ashore at two lodges of nine Indians. We made them a few trifling presents, but
without disembarking, and had proceeded but a
small distance from thence, when we observed several smokes beneath a hill, on the North shore,
and on our approach we perceived the natives
climbing the ascent to gain the woods. The Indians, however, in the two small canoes which were
a-head of us, having assured them of our friendly
intentions, they returned to their fires, and we
disembarked. Several of them were clad in hare-
skins, but in every other circumstance they resembled those whom we had already seen. We were,
however, informed that they were of a different
tribe, called the Hare Indians, as hares and fish
» m
are their principal support, from the scarcity-of
rein-deer and beaver, ivhich are the only animate of
the larger kind that frequent this part of the country. irThey were tWenty-five in number; and a-
mon| them was a woman who was afflicted with an
abscess in%ie belly, and reduced, in consequence,
to a mere skeleton : at the same time several old
women were singing and howling around her ; but
whether these noises were to operate as a charnf%)r
her cure, or merely to amuse and console her, I do
not pretend to determine. A small quantity of our
usual presents were received by them with the
greatest satisfaction.
Here we made an exchange of our guide, who
had become so troublesome that we were obliged
to watch him night and day, except when he was
upon the wTater. The man, however, who had
agreed to go in his place soon repented of his engagement, and endeavoured to persuade us that
some of his relations further down the river, would
readily accompany us, and were much'better acquainted with the river than himself. But, as he
had informed us ten minutes before that we should
see no more of his tribe, we paid very little attention to his remonstrances, and compelled him to
In about three hours a man overtook us in a
small canoe, and we suspected that his object was
to facilitate, in some way or other, the escape of
our conductor. About twelve we also observed an
Indian walking along the North-East shore, when
the small canoes paddled towards him. We accordingly followed,! and found three men, three
women, and two children, who had been on an
hunting expedition. They had some flesh of the
rein-deer, which they offered to us, but it was so
rotten, as well as offensive to the smell, that we
excused ourselves from accepting it.    They had mmmmmfltmmmmmm
also their wonderful stories of danger and terror,
as well as their countrymen, whom we had already
seen ; and we were now informed, that behind
the opposite island there was a Manitoe or spirit*
in the river, which swallowed every person that
approached it. As it would have employed half a
day to have indulged our curiosity in proceeding
to examine this phenomenon, we did not deviate
from our course^ but left these people with the
usual presents, and proceeded on our voyage.
Our course and distance this day were West twen-
ty-eight miles, West-North-West twenty-three
miles, West-South-West six miles, West by
North five miles, South-West four miles, and encamped at eight o'clock. A fog prevailed the
greater part of the day, with frequent showers of
small rain.
a a
•   . CHAPTER  IV. %
The nevj guide makes his escape. Compel another to supply his place. Land at an encampment of another trib$ of Indians. Account of
their manners, dress, weapons, &c. Traffic
with them. Description of a beautiful fish.
Ehgage another guide. His curious behaviour.
Kill a fox and ground-hog. Land at an encampment of a tribe called the Deguthee De-
nees, or ^uarrellers. Saw flax growing wild.
The varying character of the river and its
banks. Distant mountains. Perplexity from
the numerous channels of the river. Determined to proceed* Land where there had been
an encampment of the Esquimaux. Saw large
flocks of wild fowl. View of the sun at midnight. Description of a place lately deserted
by the Indians. Houses of the natives described. Frequent showers. Saw a black fox.
The discontents of our hunters renewed, and
pacified. Face of the country. Land at a
spot lately inhabited. Peculiar circumstances
of it. Arrive at the entrance of the lake.
Proceed to an island.    Some account of it.
July, 1789.
Thursday, 9. THUNDER and rain prevailed
during the night, and, in the course of it, our
guide deserted; we therefore compelled another
of these people, very much against his will, to
supply the place of his fugitive countryman. We
also took away the paddles of one of them who
remained behind, that he might not follow us on
any scheme of promoting the escape of his companion, who was not easily pacified. At length,
however, we succeeded ifo the act of conciliation, NORTH-WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.    45
and at half past three quitted our station. In a
short time we saw a smoke on the East shore, and
directed our course towards it. Our new guide
began immediately to call to the people that be^
longed to it in a particular manner, which we did
not comprehend. He informed us that they were
not of his tribe, but were a very wicked, malign
nant people, who would beat us cruelly, pull put
hair with great violence from our heads, and maltreat us in various other ways.
The men waited our arrival, but the wome#
and children took to the woods. There were but
four of these people, and previous to our landing,
they all harangued us at the same moment, and
apparently with violent anger and resentment,
Our hunters did not understand them, but uq
sooner had our guide addressed them, than they
were appeased. I presented them with beads*
awls, ike. and when the women and children returned from the woods, they were gratified with
similar articles. There were fifteen of them ; and
of a more pleasing appearance than any which we
had hitherto seen, as they were healthy, full of
Sesh, and clean in their persons. Their language
wag somewhat different, but I believe chiefly in
the acpent, for they and our guide converged in,.
telligibly with each other; and the English chief
clearly comprehended one of them, though he was
not himself understood.
Their arins and utensils differ but little from
those whiph have been described in a former chapr
Iter. The only iron they have is in small pieces,
which serve them for knives. They obtain this
^etal from the Esquimaux Indians. Their arrows are made of very light wood, and are winged only with two feathers; their bows differed
from any wrhich we had seen, and we understood
that they were furnished by the Esquimaux, who
't %
mm *».
i    I
1      v I?
are their neighbours : they consist of two pieces,
with a very strong cord of sinews along the back,
which is tied in several places, to preserve its
shape ; when this cord becomes wet, it requires a
strong bow-string, and a powerful arm to draw
it. The vessel in which they prepare their
food, is made of a thin frame of wood, and of
an oblong shape ; the bottom is fixed in a groove,
in the same manner as a cask. Their shirts
are not cut square at the bottom, but taper to a
point, from the belt downwards as low as the knee,
both before and behiad, with a border, embellished with a short fringe. They use also another
fringe, similar to that which has been already described, with the addition of the stone of a grey
farinaceous berry, of the size and shape of a large
barley-corn : it is of a brown colour, and fluted,
and being bored is run on each string of the fringe;
with this they decorate their shirts, by sewing it
in a semicircle on the breast and back, and crossing over both shoulders; the sleeves are wide
and short, but the mittens supply their deficiency,
as they are long enough to reach over a part of
the sleeve, and are commodiously suspended by a
cord from the neck. If their leggins were made
with waistbands, they might with great propriety
be denominated trowsers : they fasten them with
a cord round the middle, so that they appear to
have a sense of decency which their neighbours
cannot boast. Their shoes are sewed to their
leggins, and decorated on every seam. One of
the men was clad in a shirt made of the skins of
the musk-rat. The dress of the women is the
same as that of the men, except in their shirts,
which are longer, and without the finishing of a
fringe on their breast. Their peculiar mode of
tying the hair is as follows :—that which grows
on the temples, or the fore part of the skull, is
v S99B
formed into two queues, hanging down before the
ears; that of the scalp or crown is fashioned in
the same manner to the back of the neck, and is
then tied with the rest of the hair, at some distance
from the head. A thin cord is employed for these
purposes, and very neatly worked with hair, artificially coloured. The women, and, indeed,
some of the men, let their hair hang loose on their
shoulders, whether it be long or short.
We purchased acouple of very largemoose skins
from them, which were very well dressed ; indeed
we did not suppose that there were any of those
animals in the country ; and it appears from the accounts of the natives themselves, that they are very
scarce. As for the beaver, the existence of such
a creature does not seem to be known by them.
Our people bought shirts of them, and many curious articles, &c. They presented us with a most
delicious fish, which was less than a herring, and
very beautifully spotted with black and yellow :
its dorsal fin reached from the head to the tail; in
its expanded state takes a triangular form, and is
variegated with the colours that enliven the scales:
the head is very small, and the mouth is armed
with sharp-pointed teeth.
We prevailed on the native, whose language
was most intelligible, to accompany us. He informed us that we should sleep ten nights more
before we arrived at the sea; that several of his
relations resided in the immediate vicinity of this
part of the river, and that in three nights we should
meet with the Esquimaux, with whom they had
formerly made war, but were now in a state of
peace and amity. He mentioned the last Indians
whom we had seen in terms of great derision ; describing them as being no better than old women,
and as abominable liars; which coincided with
the notion we already entertained of them.
1 h
»—-yr-jjjlp- n    -^V- nil
As we pushed off, some of my men discharged
their fowling pieces, that were only loaded with
powder, at the report of which the Indians were
very much alarmed, as they had not before heard
the discharge of fire arms. This circumstance
had such an effect upon our guide, that we had
reason to apprehend he wrould not fulfil his promise. When, however, he was informed that the
noise which he had heard was a signal of friendship,
he was persuaded to embark in his own small canoe,
though he had been offered a seat in ours.
Two of his companions, whom he represented
as his brothers, followed us in their canoes ; and
they amused us not only with their native songs,
but with others, in imitation of the Esquimaux ;
and our new guide was so enlivened by them,
that the antics he performed, in keeping time to
the singing, alarmed us with continual apprehension that his boat must upset: but he was not
long content with his confined situation, and paddling up along-side our canoe, requested us to receive him in it, though but a short time before
he had resolutely refused to accept our invitation.
No sooner had he entered our canoe, than he
began to perform an Esquimaux dance, to our no
small alarm. He was, however, soon prevailed
upon to be more tranquil; when he began to display various indecencies, according to the customs
of the Esquimaux, of which he boasted an intimate acquaintance. On our putting to shore, in
order to leave his canoe, he informed us, that on
the opposite hill the Esquimaux, three winters
before, killed his grandfather. We saw a fox,
and a ground-hog on the hill, the latter of which
the brother of our guide shot with his bow and
About four in the afternoon we perceived a
smoke on the West shore, when we traversed and
—« ■HI
landed. The natives made a most terrible uproar, talking with great vociferation, and running
about as if they were deprived of their senses, while
the greater part of the women, with the children,
fled away. Perceiving the disorder which our appearance occasioned among these people, we had
waited some time before we quitted the canoe;
and I have no doubt, if we had been without
people to introduce us, that they would have attempted some violence against us ; for when the
Indians send away their women and children, it is
always with a hostile design. At length we pacified them with the usual presents, but they pre*
ferred beads to any of the articles that I offered
them; particularly such as were of a blue colour;
and one of them even requested to exchange a
knife which I had given him for a small quantity
of those ornamental baubles. I purchased of them
two shirts for my hunters; and at the same time
they presented me with some arrows, and dried
fish. This party consisted of five families, to the
amount, as I suppose, of forty men, women, and
children; but I did not see them all, as several
were afraid to venture from their hiding-places.
They are called Deguthee Dinees, or the %uar-
Our guide, like his predecessors, now manifested his wish to leave us, and entertained similar
apprehensions that we should not return by this
passage. He had his alarms also respecting the
Esquimaux, who might kill us and take away the
women. Our Indians, however, assured him that
we had no fears of any kind, and that he need not
be alarmed for himself. They also convinced him
that we should return by the way we were going,
so that he consented to re-embark without giving
us any further trouble; and eight small canoes followed us.   Our courses this day were South-West
VM 4
by West six miles, South-West by South thirty
miles, South-West three miles, West by South
twelve miles, West by North two miles, and we
encamped at eight in the evening on the Eastern
bank of the river.
The Indians whom I found here, informed me,
that from the place where I this morning met the
first of their tribe, the distance overland, on the
East side, to the sea, was not long, and that from
hence, by proceeding to the Westward, it was
still shorter. They also represented the land on
both sides as projecting to a point. These people
do not appear to harbour any thievish dispositions;
at least we did not perceive that they took, or wanted to take, any thing from us by stealth or artifice.
They enjoyed the amusements of dancing and
jumping in common with those we had already
seen; and, indeed, these exercises seem to be
their favourite diversions. About mid-day the
weather wras sultry, but in the afternoon it became
cold. There was a large quantity of wild flax, the
growth of the last year, laying on the ground, and
the new plants were sprouting up through it. This
circumstance I did not observe in any other part.
At four in the morning we embarked, at a small
distance from the place of our encampment: the
river, which here becomes narrower, flows between high rocks; and a meandring course took
us North-West four miles. At this spot the banks
became low; indeed, from the first rapid, the
country does not wear a mountainous appearance ;
but the banks of the river are generally lofty, in
some places perfectly naked, and in others well
covered with small trees, such as the fir and the
birch. We continued our last course for two
miles, with mountains before us, whose tops were
covered with snow. NORTH-WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.    51
The land is4 low on both sides of the river, ^except these mountains, whose base is distant about
ten miles : here the river widens, and runs through
various channels, formed by islands, some of which
are without a tree, and little more than banks of
mud and sand; while others are covered with a
kind of spruce fir, and trees of a larger size than
we had seen for the last ten days. Their banks,
which are about six feet above the surface of the
water, display a face of solid ice, intermixed with
veins of black earth, and as the heat of the sun
melts the ice, the trees frequently fall into the river.
So various were the channels of the river at this
time, that we were at a loss which to take. Our
guide preferred the Easternmost, on account of
the Esquimaux, but I determined to take the middle channel, as it appeared to be a larger body of
water, and running North and South: besides, as
there was a greater chance of seeing them I concluded, that we could always go to the Eastward,,
whenever we might prefer it. Our course was
now West by North six miles, North-West by
West, the snowy mountains being West by South
from us, and stretching to the Northward as far
as we could see. According to the information
of the Indians, they are part of the chain of mountains which we approached on the third of this
month. I obtained an observation this day that
gave me 67. 47. North latitude, which was farther North than I expected, according to the
course I kept: but the difference was owing to
the variation of the compass, which was more
Easterly than I imagined. From hence it was
evident that these waters emptied themselves into
the Hyperborean Sea; and though it was probable that, from the want of provision, we could
not return to Athabasca in the course of the sea-
b- b
1 mmm.
son, I nevertheless, determined to penetrate to
discharge of them.
My new conductor being very much discouraged and quite tired of his situation, used his influence to prevent our proceeding. He had never
been, he said, at the Benahullo Toe, or White
Man's Lake ; and that when he went to the Esquimaux Lake, which is at no great distance, he passed over land from the place where we found him,
and to that part where the Esquimaux pass the
summer* In short, my hunters also became so
disheartened from these accounts, and other circumstances, that I was confident they would have
left me, if it had been in their power. I, however, satisfied them in some degree, by the. assurance, that I would proceed onwards but seven
days more, and if I did not then get to the sea, I
would return. Indeed, the low state of our pro*
visions, without any other consideration, formed
a very sufficient security for the maintenance of
my engagement. Our last course was thirty-two
miles, with a stronger current than could be expected in such a low country.
We now proceeded North-North-West four
miles, North-West three miles, North-East two
miles, North-West by West three miles, and
North-East two miles. At half past eight in the
evening we landed and pitched our tents, near to
wdiere there had been three encampments of the
Esquimaux, since the breaking up of the ice.
The natives, who followed us yesterday, left us
at our station this morning. In the course of the
day we saw large flocks of wild fowl,
Saturday, 11. I sat up all night to observe the
sun. At half past twelve I called up one of the
men to view a spectacle which he had never before seen; when, on seeing the sun so high, he
thought it was a signal to embark, and began to NORTH-WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.    $3
call the rest of his companions, who would scarcely be persuaded by me, that the sun had not descended nearer to the horizon, and that it was now
but a short time past midnight. jip
We reposed, however, till three quarters aftei'
three, when we entered the canoe, and steered
about North-West, the river taking a very serpentine course. About seven we saw a ridge of high
land; at twelve we landed at a spot where we observed that some of the natives had lately been. I
counted thirty places where there had been fires;
and some of the men who went further, saw as
many more. They must have been here for a considerable time, though it does not appear that they
had erected any huts. A great number of poles*
however, were seen fixed in the river, to which
they had attached their nets, and there seemed to
be an excellent fishery. One of the fish, of the
many which we saw leap out of the water, fell into
our canoe; it was about ten inches long, and of a
round shape. About the places where they ha4
made their fires, were scattered pieces of whale-
bone, and thick burned leather, with parts of the
frames of three canoes; we could also observe
where they had spilled train oil; and there was die
singular appearance of a spruce fir, stript of its
branches to the top like an English may-pole- Th§
weather was cloudy, and the air cold and unpleasant. From this place for about five miles, the
river widens, it then flows in a variety of narrow,
meandering channels, amongst low islands, enlivened with no trees, but a few dwarf willows.
At four, we landed, where there were three
houses, or rather huts, belonging to the natives.
The ground-plot is of an oval form, about fifteen
feet long, ten feet wide in the middle, and eight
feet at either end; the whole of it is dug about
twelve inches below the surface of the ground, and 54   JOURNAL OF A VOYAGE THROUGH THE
}   w
one half of it is covered over with willow branches;
which probably serves as a bed for the whole family. A space, in the middle of the other part,
of about four feet wide, is deepened twelve inches
more, and is the only spot in the house where a
grown person can stand upright. One side of
it is covered, as has been already described, and
the other is the hearth or fire-place, of which, however, they do not make much use. Though it was
close to the wall, the latter did not appear to be burned. The door or entrance is in the middle of one
end of the house, and is about two feet and an half
high, and two feet wide, and has a covered way or
porch five feet in length; so that it is absolutely
necessary to creep on all fours in order to get into,
or out of, this curious habitation. There is a hole
of about eighteen inches square on the top of it,
which serves the three-fold purpose of a window, an
occasional door, and a chimney. The underground part of the floor is lined with split wood.
Six or eight stumps of small trees driven into the
earth, with the root upwards, on which are laid
some cross pieces of timber, support the roof of
the building, which is an oblong square of ten feet
by six. The whole is made of drift-wood covered
with branches and dry-grass ; over which is laid
a foot deep of earth. On each side of these houses are a few square holes in the ground of about
two feet in depth, which are covered with split
wood and earth, except in the middle. These ap-'
peared to be contrived for the preservation of the
winter stock of provisions. In and about the houses we found sledge runners and bones, pieces of
whalebone, and poplar bark cut in circles, which
are used as corks to buoy the nets, and are fixed
to them by pieces of whalebone. Before each hut
a great number of stumps of trees were fixed in the
ground, upon which it appeared that they hung
their fish to dry. oMteaal*
We now continued our voyage, and encamped
at eight o'clock. I calculated our course at about
North-West, and, allowing for the windings, that
we had made fifty-four miles. We expected,
throughout the day, to meet with some of the natives. On several of the islands we perceived the
print of their feet in the sand, as if they had been
there but a few days before, to procure wild fowl.
There were frequent showers of rain in the afternoon, and the weather was raw and disagreeable.
We saw a black fox ; but trees were now become
very rare objects, except a few dwarf willows, of
not more than three feet in height.
The discontents of our hunters were now renewed
by the accounts which our guide had been giving
of that part of our voyage that was approaching.
According to his information, we were to see a
larger lake on the morrow. Neither he nor his relations, he said, knew any thing about it, except
that part which is opposite to, and not far from,
their country. The Esquimaux alone, he added,
inhabit its shores, and kill a large fish that is found
in it, which is a principal part of their food; this,
we presumed, must be the whale. He also mentioned white bears, and another large animal which
was seen in those parts, but our hunters could not
understand the description which he gave of it.
He also represented their canoes as being of a
large construction, which would commodiously
contain four or five families. However, to reconcile the English chief to the necessary continuance
in my service, I presented him with one of my ca-
potsor travelling coats ; at the same time, to satisfy
the guide, and keep him, if possible, in good humour, I gave him a skin of the moose-deer, which,
in his opinion, was a valuable present.
Sunday, 12. It rained with violence throughout
the ni^ht, and till two in the morning; the weather
ato wmm
continuing very cold. We proceeded on the same
meandering course as yesterday, the wind North*
North-West, and the country so naked that scarce
a shrub was to be seen. At ten in the morning,
we landed where there were four huts, exactly the
same as those whicjhhave been so lately described.
The adjacent land is high and covered with shcsgl
grass and flowers, though the earth was not thawed
above four inches from the surface; beneath which
was a solid body of ice. This beautiful appearance, however, was strangely contrasted with the
ice and snow that are seen in the vallies. The
soil, where there is any, is a yellow clay mixed
with stones. These huts appear to have been inhabited during the last winter; and we had reason
to think, that some of the natives had been lately
there, as the beach was covered with the track of
their feet. Many of the runners and bars of their
sledges were laid together, near the houses, in a
manner that seemed to denote the return of the
proprietors. There were also pieces of netting
made of sinews, and some bark of the willow. The
thread of the former was plaited, and no ordinary
portion of time must have been employed in manufacturing so great a length of cord. A square
stone-kettle, with a flat bottom, also occupied our
attention, which was capable of containing two gallons ; and we were puzzled as to the means these
people must have employed to have chiselled it
out of a solid rock into its present form. To these
articles may be added, small pieces of flint fixed
into handles of wood, which probably serve as
knives ; several wooden dishes ; the stern and part
of a large canoe ; pieces of very thick leather,
which we conjectured to be the coveifng of a canoe ; several -bones- of large fish, and two heaxfs ;
but we coul$ not deterpiine the animal to which
they belonged, though we conjectured that it must
be thfe sea-horse. NORTH-WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.     Sf
When we had satisfied our curiosity we re-
embarked, but we were at a loss what course to
steer, as our guide seemed to be as ignorant of this
country as ourselves. Though the current was
very strong, we appeared to have come to the entrance of the lake. The stream set to the West,
and we went with it to an high point, at the distance
of about eight miles, which we conjectured to be
an island; but> on approaching it, we perceived it to
be connected with the shore by a low neck of land.
I now took an observation which gave 69. 1. North
latitude. From the point that has been just mentioned, we continued the same course for the Westernmost point of an high island, and the Westernmost land in sight, at the distance of fifteen miles*
The lake was quite open to us to the Westward,
and out of the channel of the river there was not
more than four feet water, and in some places the
depth did not exceed one foot. From the shallowness of the water it was impossible to coast to the
Westward. At five o'clock we arrived at the island,
and during the last fifteen miles, five feet was the
deepest water. The lake now appeared to be covered with ice, for about two leagues distance, and
no land ahead, so that we were prevented from proceeding in this direction by the ice, and the shallowness of the water along the shore.
We landed at the boundary of our voyage in this
direction, and as soon as the tents were pitched I
ordered the nets to be set, when I proceeded with
the English chief to the highest part of the island,
from which we discovered the solid ice, extending
from the South-West by compass to the Eastward.
As far as the eye could reach to the South-Westward, we could dimly perceive a chain of mountains, stretching further to the North than the edge
of the ice, at the distance of upwards of twenty
leagues.    To the Eastward we saw many islands,
.'. i
and in our progress we met with a considerable
number of white partridges, now become brown.
There were also flocks of very beautiful plovers,
and I found the nest of one of them with four eggs.
White owls, likewise, were among the inhabitants
of the place: but the dead, as well as the livimg,
demanded our attention, for we came to the grave
of one of the natives, by which lay a bow, a paddle, and a spear. The Indians informed me that
they landed on a small island, about four leagues
from hence, where they had seen the tracks of two
men, that were quite fresh; they had also found a
secret store of train oil, and several bones of white
bears were scattered about the place where it was
hid. The wind was now so high that it was impracticable for us to visit the nets.
My people could not, at this time, refrain from
expressions of real concern, that they were obliged
to return without reaching the sea: indeed the hope
of attaining this object encouraged them to bear,
\vithout repining,.the hardships of our unremitting
voyage. For some time past their spirits were animated by the expectation that another day would
bring them to the Mer d'ouest: and even in our
present situation they declared their readiness to
follow me wherever I should be pleased to lead
them. We saw several large white gulls, and other
birds, whose back, and upper feathers of the wing
are brown; and whose belly, and under feathers of
the wing are white.
tr .-»..-^.-: - ~t
The baggage removed from the rising of the wa*
ter. One of the nets driven away by the wind
and current. Whales are seen. Go in pursuit
of them, but prevented from continuing it by the
fog. Proceed to take a view of the ice. Canoe
in danger from the swell. Examine the islands*
Describe one of them. Erect a post to perpetuate our visit there. The rising of the water
appears to be the tide. Successful fishing. Uncertain weather. Sail among the islands*,
Proceed to a river. Temperature of the ait
improves. Land on a small island, which is
a place of sepulture.   Description of it.   See a
|gjr great number of wild fowl. Fine view of the
river from the high land. The hunters kill
rein-deer. Cranberries, &c. found in great
plenty. The appearance and state of the country. Our guide deserts. Large flight of geese:
kill many of them. Violent rain. ^Return up
the river. Leave the channels for the main
stream. Obliged to tow the canoe. Land among
the natives. Circumstances concerning them*
Their account of the Esquimaux Indians. Accompany the natives to their huts* Account of
our provisions.
July, 1789.
Monday, 13. WE had no sooner retired to rest
last night, if I may use that expression, in a country where the sun never sinks beneath the horizon,
than -some of the people were obliged to rise and
remove the baggage, on account of the rising of
the water. At eight in the morning the weather
was fine and calm, which afforded an opportunity to
examine the nets, one of which had been driven
IS c c
■&, ar.B*.
from its position by the wind and current. We
caught seven poissons inconnus, which were unpalatable; a white fish, that proved delicious; and
another about the size of an herring, which none
of us had ever seen before, except the English
chief, who recognized it as being of a kind that
abounds in Hudson's Bay. About noon the wind
blew hard from the Westward, when I took #n observation, which gave 69. 14. North latitude, and
the meridian variation of- the compass was thirty-
six degrees Eastward.*  |p
This afternoon I re-ascended the hill, but could
not discover that the ice had been put in motion by
the force of the wind. At the same time I could
just distinguish two small islands in the ice, to the
North-West by compass. I now thought it necessary to give a new net to my men to mount, in order
to obtain as much provision as possible from the
water, our stores being reduced to about five hundred weight, which, without any other supply,
wTould not have sufficed for fifteen people above
twelve days. One of the young Indians, however,
was so fortunate as to find the net that had been
missing, and which contained three of the poissons
inconnus. ||
Tuesday, 14. It blew very hard from the North-
West since the preceding evening. Having sat up
till three in the morning, I slept longer than usual;
but about eight one of my men saw a great many
animals in the water, which he at first supposed to
be pieces of ice. About nine, however, I was awakened to resolve the doubts which had taken place
respecting this extraordinary appearance. I im»
mediately perceived that they were whales; and
having ordered the canoe to be prepared,* we em*
* The longitude has since been, discovered," by the dead reckoning, to
be 135. West.
barked in pursuit of them. It was, indeed, a very
wild and unreflecting enterprise, and it was a very
fortunate circumstance that we failed in our attempt
to overtake them, as a stroke from the tail of one
of these enormous fish would have dashed the canoe to pieces. We may, perhaps, have been indebted to the foggy weather for our safety, as it
prevented us from continuing our pursuit. Our
guide informed us that they are the same kind of
fish which are the principal food of the Esquimaux, and they were frequently seen as large as
pur canoe. The part of them which appeared
above the water was altogether white, and they
were much larger than the largest porpoise.
About twelve the fog dispersed, and being curious to take a view of the ice, I gave orders for
the canoe to be got in readiness. We accordingly
embarked, and the Indians followed us. We had
not, however, been an hour on the water, when
-the wind rose on a sudden from the North-East,
and obliged us to tack about, and the return of the
fog prevented us from ascertaining our distance
from the ice ; indeed, from this circumstance, the
island which we had so lately left was but dimly
seen. Though the wind was close, we ventured to
hoist the sail, and from the violence of the swell
it was by great exertions that two men could bale
out the water from our canoe. We were in a state
of actual danger, and felt every corresponding emotion of pleasure when we reached the land. The
Indians had fortunately got more to windward, so
that the swell in some measure drove them on
shore, though their canoes were nearly filled with
water ; and had they been laden, we should have
seen them no more. As I did not propose to satisfy my curiosity at the risk of similar dangers,
we continued our course along the islands, w^hich
screened us from the wind.    I was now determin
3 i.
ed to take a more particular examfnation of the
islands, in the hope of meeting with parties of the
natives, from whom I might be able to obtain
some interesting intelligence, though our conductor discouraged my expectations, by representing
them as very shy and inaccessible people. At the
same time he informed me, that we should probably find some of them, if we navigated the channel which he had originally recommended us to
At eight we encamped on the Eastern end of
the island, which I had named the Whale Island.
It is about seven leagues in length, East and West
by compass; but not more than half a mile in
breadth. We saw several red foxes, one of which
was killed. There were also five or six very old
huts on the point where we had taken our station.
The nets were now set, and one of them in five fathom water, the current setting North-East by
compass. This morning I ordered a post to be
erected close to our tents, on which I engraved the
latitude of the place, my own name, the number of
persons which I had with me, and the time we remained there.
Wednesday, 15. Being awakened by some casual circumstance, at four this morning, I was surprised on perceiving that the water had flowed
under our baggage. As the wind had not changed,
and did not blow with greater violence than when
we went to rest, we were all of opinion that this
circumstance proceeded from the tide. We had,
indeed, observed at the other end of the island,
that the water rose and fell; but we then imagined
that it must have been occasioned by the wind.
The water continued to rise till about six, but I
could not ascertain the time with the requisite precision, as the wind then began to blow with great
violence; I therefore determined, at all events, tb
n^      N^g^y m
remain here till the next morning, though, as it
happened, the state of the wind wras such, as to
render my stay here an act of necessity. Our nets
were not very successful, as they presented us
with only eight fish. From an observation which
I obtained at noon we were in 69. 7. North latitude. As the evening approached, the wind increased, and the weather became cold. Two swans
were the only provision which the hunters procured for-us.
Thursday, 16. The rain did not cease till seven
this morning, the weather being at intervals very
cold and unpleasant. Such was its inconstancy,
that I could not make an accurate observation; but
the tide appeared to rise sixteen or eighteen inches.
We now embarked, and steered under sail among
the islands, where I hoped to meet with some of
the natives, but my expectation was not gratified.
Our guide imagined that they were gone to their
distant haunts, where they fish for whales and hunt
the rein-deer, that are opposite to his country. His
relations, he said, see them every year, but he did
not encourage us to expect that we should find any
of them, unless it were at a small river that falls into
the great one, from the Eastward, at a considerable
distance from our immediate situation. We accordingly made for the river, and stemmed the current. At two in the afternoon the water was quite
shallow in every part of our course, and we could
always find the bottom with the paddle. At seven
we landed, encamped, and set the nets. Here the
Indians killed two geese, two cranes, and a white
owl. Since we entered the river, we experienced a
very agreeable change in the temperature of the
air; but this pleasant circumstance was not without
its inconvenience, as it subjected us to the persecution of the musquitoes.
Friday, 17. On taking up the nets, they were
found to contain but six fish.    We embarked at
1/ :1 -« U.K.
four in the morning, and passed four encampments, » which appeared to have been very lately inhabited. Wfe. then landed upon! a small round
island, close to the Eastern shore, which possessed somewhat of a sacred character, as the top of it
seemed to be a place of sepulture, from the numerous graves which we observed there. We found
the frame of a small canoe, with various dishes,
troughs, and other utensils, which had been the
living property of those who could now use them
no more, and form the ordinary accompaniments
of their last abodes. As no part of the skins that
must have covered the canoe was remaining, we
concluded that it had been eaten by wild animals
that inhabit, or occasionally frequent, the island.
The frame of the canoe, which was entire, was put
together with whalebone; it was sewed in some
parts, and tied in others. The sledges were from
four to eight feet long ; the length of the bars was
upwards of two feet; the runners were two inches
thick and nine inches deep ; the prow was two feet
and an half high, and formed of two pieces, sewed
with whalebone, to three other thin spars of wood,
which were of the same height, and fixed in the
runners by means of mortises, were sewed two thin
broad bars lengthways, at a small distance from
each other ; these frames were fixed together with
three or four cross bars, tied fast upon the runners,
and on the lower edge of the latter, small pieces
of horn were fastened by wooden pegs, that they
might slide with greater facility. They are drawn
by shafts, wdiich I imagine are applied to any particular sledge as they are wanted, as I saw no more
than one pair of them.
About half past one we came opposite to the first
spruce-tree that we had seen for some time : there
are but very few of them on the main land, and
they are very small: those are larger which are *p
found on the islands, where they grow in patches,
and close together. It is, indeed, very extraordinary that there should be any wood whatever in
a country where the ground never thaws above five
inches from the surface. We landed at seven in
the evening. The weather was now very pleasant,
and in the course of the day we saw great numbers
of wild fowl, with their young ones, but they
were so shy that we could not approach them.
The Indians were not very successful in their
foraging party, as they killed only two grey cranes,
and a grey goose. Two of them were employed
on the high land to the Eastward, through the
greater part of the day, in search of rein-deer, but
they could discover nothing more than a few tracks
of that animal. I also ascended the high land,
from whence I had a delightful view of the river,,
divided into innumerable streams, meandering
through islands, some of which were covered
with wood, and others with grass. The mountains, that formed the opposite horizon, were at
the distance of forty miles. The inland view was
neither so extensive nor agreeable, being terminated by a near range of bleak, barren hills, between
which are small lakes or ponds, while the surrounding country is covered with tufts of moss, without
the shade of a single tree. Along the hills is a
kind offence, made with branches, where the natives had set snares to catch white partridges.
Saturday, 18. * The nets did not produce a single
fish, and at three o'clock in the morning we took
our departure. The weather was fine and clear, and
we passed several encampments. As the prints of
human feet were very fresh in the sand, it could
not have been long since the natives had visited the
spot. We now proceeded in the hope of meeting
with some of them at the river, whither our guide
was conducting us with that expectation.    We
ma Ki
observed a great number of trees, in different
places, whose branches had been lopped off to the
tops. They denote the immediate abode of the
natives, and probably serve for signals to direct
each other, to their respective winter-quarters.
Our hunters, in the course of the day, killed two
rein-deer, which were the only large animals that
we had seen since wre had been in this river, and
proved a very seasonable supply, as our Pemmican
had become mouldy for some time past; though
in that situation we were under the necessity of
eating it.
In the vallies and low lands near the river, cranberries are found in great abundance, particularly
in favourable aspects. It is a singular circumstance, that the fruit of two succeeding years may
be gathered at the same time, from the same shrub.
Here was also another berry, of a very pale yellow colour, that resembles a raspberry, and is of a
very agreeable flavour. There is a great variety
of other plants and herbs, whose names and properties are unknown to me.
The weather became cold towards the afternoon,
with the appearance of rain, and we landed for
the night at seven in the evening. The Indians
killed eight geese. During the greater part of the
day I walked with the English chief,and found it very
disagreeable and fatiguing. Though the country
is so elevated, it was one continual morass, except
on the summits of some barren hills. As I carried my hanger in my hand, I frequently examined
if any part of the ground was in a state of thaw,
but could never force the blade into it, beyond the
depth of six or eight inches. The face of the high
land, towards the river, is in some places rocky,
and in others* a mixture of sand and stone, veined
with a kind of red earth, with which the natives
bedaub themselves.
= Mil 33S*S5?53kK5^kS!sK58
— (**
Sunday, 19. It rained, and blew hard from the
North, till eight in the morning, when we discovered that our conductor had escaped. I wus, in-
deed, surprised at his honesty, as he left the moose-
skin which I had given him for a covering, arid
went off in his shirt, though the weather was very
cold. I inquired of the Indians if they had given
him any cause of offence, or had observed any recent disposition in him to desert us, but they assured me that they had not in any instance displeased him : at the same time they recollected thift
he had expressed his apprehensions of being taken
away as a slave; and his alarms were probably
increased on the preceding day, when he saw them
kill the two rein-deer with so much readiness. In
the afternoon the weather became fine and clear,
when we saw large flights of geese with their young
ones, and the hunters killed twenty-two of therrti
As they had at this time cast their feathers, they
could not fly. They were of a small kind, and
much inferior in size to those that frequent the
vicinity of Athabasca. At eight, we took our station near an Indian encampment, and, as we had
observed in similar situations, pieces of bone, reindeer's horn, &c. were scattered about it. It also
appeared, that the natives had been employed here
in working wood into arms, utensils, &c.
Monday, 20. We embarked at three this morning, when the weather was cloudy, with small ra&iA
and aft wind. About twelve the rain became so
violent as to compel us to encamp at two in the aft
ternoon. We saw great numbers of fowl, and
killed among us fifteen geese and four swans. Had
the weather been more favorable, we should have
added considerably to our booty. We now passed
the river, where we expected to meet sonie of the
natives, but discovered no signs of them. The
ground close to the river does not rise to any con*
d d
**' MR!
i    !
1  I
siderable height, and the hills, which are at a small
distance, are covered with the spruce fir and small
birch trees, to their very summits.
Tuesday, 21. We embarked at half past one this
morning, when the weather was cold and unpleasant, and the wind South-West. At ten, we left
the channels formed by the islands for the uninterrupted channel of the river, where we found the
current so strong, that it was absolutely necessary
to tow the canoe with a line. The land on both
sides was elevated, and almost perpendicular, and
the shore beneath it, which is of no great breadth,
was covered with a grey stone that falls from the
precipice. We made much greater expedition
with the line, than we could have done with the
paddles. The men in the canoe relieved two of
those on shore every two hours, so that it was very
hard and fatiguing duty, but it saved a great deal of
that time which was so precious to us. At half past
eight we landed at the same spot where we had already encamped on the ninth instant.
In about an hour after our arrival, we were joined
by eleven of the natives, who where stationed farther up the river, and there were some among them
whom we had not seen during our former visit to
this place. The brother of our late guide, however, was of the party, and was eager in his inquiries after him ; but our account did not prove satisfactory. They all gave evident tokens of their
suspicion, and each of them made a distinct harangue on the occasion. Our Indians, indeed, did
not understand their eloquence, though they conjectured it to be very unfavourable to ourassertions.
The brother, nevertheless, proposed to barter his
credulity for a small quantity of beads, and promised to believe every thing I should say, if I
would gratify him with a few of those baubles; but
he did not succeed in his proposition, and I content-
v4 ■MHP9P
ed myself with giving him the bow and arrows
which our conductor had left with us.
My people were now necessarily engaged in
putting the fire-arms in order, after the violent rain
of the preceding day; an employment which very
much attracted the curiosity, and appeared in some
degree, to awaken the apprehensions of the natives.
To their inquiries concerning the motive's, of our
preparation, we answered by shewing a piece of
meat and a goose, and informing them, that we
were preparing our arms to procure similar provisions: at the same time we assured them, though
it was our intention to kill any animals we might
find, there was no intention to hurt or injure them.
They, however, entreated us not to discharge our
pieces in their presence. I requested the English
chief to ask them some questions, which they either did not or would not understand ; so that I
failed in obtaining any information from them.
All my people went to rest; but I thought it
prudent to sit up, in order to watch the motions of
the natives. This circumstance was a subject of
their inquiry; and their curiosity was still more
excited, when they saw me employed in writing.
About twelve o'clock I perceived four of their women coming along the shore; and they were no
sooner seen by their friends, than they ran hastily
to meet them, and persuaded two of them, who, I
suppose, were young, to return, while they brought
the other two who were very old, t<f'enjoy the
warmth of our fire; but, after staying there for
about half an hour, they also retreated. Those who
remained, immediately kindled a small fire, and
laid themselves down to sleep round it, like so many
whelps, having neither skins orgarments of any kind
to cover them, notwithstanding the cold that prevailed. My people having placed their kettle of meat on
the fire, I was obliged to guard it from the natives,
} ;
H *
<< '   If
who made several attempts to possess themselves
of its contents; and this was the only instance I had
hitherto discovered, of their being influenced by a
jpilfering disposition. It might, perhaps, be a general opinion, that provisions were a common property. I now saw the sun set for the first time
since I had been here before. During the preceding night, the weather was so cloudy, that I
could not observe its descent to the hprizon. The
water had sunk, at this place, upward of three feet
since we had passed down the river.
Wednesday* 22. , We began our march at half
past three this morning, the men being employed
to tow the canoe. I walked with the Indians to
their huts, which were at a greater distance than
I had any reason to expect, for it occupied three
hours in hard walking to reach them. We passed
a narrow and deep river in our way, at the mouth
of which the na|ives had set their netfS. They had
hid their effects, and sent their young women into
the woods, as we saw but very few of the former,
and none of the latter. They had large huts built
with drift-wood on the declivity of the beach, and
in the inside the earth was dug away, so as to form
a level floor. At each end was a stout fork, whereon
was laid a strong ridge-pole, which formed a support to the whole structure, and a covering of
spruce bark preserved it from the rain. Various
spars of different heights were fixed within the hut,
and covered with split fish that hung on them to
■j^ry; ajkd fires were made in different parts to acce-
^lerate $ie operation. Th^re were rails also on the
outside of the building, which we$e hung around
$rith fish, but in a fresher state than those wifhin.
The spawn is also carefully preserved and dried in
the sam£ manner. We obtained as many fish from
them as the canoe could conveniently contain, and
mtne striftgs of beads were the price paid for them, ■w
an article which they preferred to every other.
Iron they held in little or no estimation. ~jm
During the two hours that I remained here, I
employed the English chief in a continual state of
inquiry concerning these people. The information
that resulted from this conference was as follows.
This nation or tribe is very numerous, witfe
whom the Esquimaux had been continually at variance, a people who take every advantage of attacking those ,who are n©t in a state to defend themselves; anjd though they had promised friendship,
had lately, and in the most treacherous manner,
butchered some of their people. As a proof of this
circumstance, the relations of the deceased shewed
us, that they had cut off their hair on the occasion.
They also declared their determination to withdraw
all confidence in future from the Esquimaux, and
to collect themselves in a formidable body, that
they might be enabled to revenge the death of their
From their account, a strong party of Esquimaux occasionally ascends this river, in large canoes, in search of flint stones, which they employ
to point their spears and arrows. They were now
at their lake due East from the spot where we then
were, which was at no great distance over land,
where they kill the rein-deer, and that they would
soon begin to catch big fish for the wifeter stock*
We could not, however, obtain any information
respecting the lake in the direction in which we
were. To the Eastward and Westward where
they saw it, the ice breaks up, but soon freezes
The Esquimaux informed them that they saw
large canoes full of white men to the Westward,
eight or ten winters ago, from whom they obtained
iron in exchange for leather. The lake where they
j»et these canoes, is called by thcmBelhoullay Toe*
'• )k' r
i »f
or White Man's Lake. ^They also represented
the Esquimaux as dressing like themselves. They
wear their hair short, and have two holes perforated,
one on each side of the mouth, in a line with the
under lip, in which they place long beads that they
find in the lake. Their bows are somewhat different from those used by the natives we had seen,
and they employ slings from whence they threw
stones with such dexterity that they prove very
formidable weapons in the day of battle.
We also learned in addition from the natives;
that we should not see any more of their relations,
as they had all left the river to go in pursuit of
rein-deer for their provisions, and that they themselves should engage in a similar expedition in a
few days. Rein-deer, bears, wolvereens, martens,
foxes, hares, and white buffaloes are the only quadrupeds in their country; and that the latter were
only to be found in the mountains to the Westward.
We proceeded with the line throughout the day,
except two hours, when we employed the sail. We
encamped at eight in the evening. From the place
we quitted this morning, the banks of the river
are well covered with small wood, spruce, firs,
birch, and willow. We found it very warm during the tsifeole of our progress.
ThursMjP, 23. At five in the morning we proceeded on our voyage, but found it very difficult
to travel along the beach. We observed several
places where the natives had stationed themselves
and set their nets since our passage downwards.
We passed a small river, and at five o'clock our
Indians put to shore in order to encamp, but we
proceeded onwards, which displeased them verv
much, from the fatigue they suffered, and at eight
we encamped at our position of the 8th instant.
The day was very fine, and we employed the tow- Ift?
ing line throughout the course of it. At ten, our
hunters returned, sullen and dissatisfied. We had
not touched any of our provision stores for six
days, in which time we had consumed two reindeer, four swans, forty-five geese, and a considerable quantity of fish : but it is to be considered,
that we were ten men, and four women. I have
always observed, that the north men possessed very
hearty appetites, but they were very much exceeded by those with me, since we entered this
river. I should really have thought it absolute
gluttony in my people, if my own appetite had not
increased in a similar proportion.
CHAPTER VI. '       .JS
Employ the towing line. Description of a ptfyce
where the Indians come to collect flint. Theiir
shyness and suspicions. Current lessens. Appearance of the country. Abundance of hares.
Violent storm. Land hear three lodges.' Alarm
of the Indians. Supply of fish from them.
Their fabulous accounts. Continue to see
Indian lodges. Treatment of a disease. Misunderstanding with the natives. The interpreter harangues them. Their accounts similar
to those we have already received. Their curious conduct. Purchase some beaver skins.
Shoot one of their dogs. The consequence of
that act. Apprehensions of the women. Large
quantities of liquorice. Swallow's nests seen Jn
the precipices. Fall in with a party of the
natives killing geese. Circumstances concerning them. Hurricane. Variation of the weather. Kill great numbers of geese. Abundance
of several kinds of berries. State of the river
and its bank.
July, 1789.
Friday, 24. AT five we continued our course,
but, in a very short time, were under the necessity
of applying to the aid of the line, the stream being
so strong as to render all our attempts unavailing
to stem it with the paddles. We passed a small river, on each side of which the natives and Esquimaux collect flint. The bank is an high, steep, and
soft rock, variegated with red, green, and yellow
hues. From the continual dripping of water,
parts of it frequently fall and break into small stony
flakes like slate, but not so hard. Among them are
found pieces of Petrolium* which bears a resem-
n£ *MM
blanee to yellow wax, but is more friable. The
English chief informed me, that rocks of a similar
kind are scattered about the country, at the back of
the Slave Lake, where the Chepewyans collect
At ten, we had an aft wind, and the men who had
been engaged in towing, re-embarked. At twelve,
we observed a lodge on the side of the river, and
its inhabitants running about in great confusion, or
hurrying to the woods. Three men waited our
arrival, though they remained at some distance from
us, with their bows and arrows ready to be employed ; or at least, that appeared to be the idea they
wished to convey to us, by continually snapping
the strings of the former, and the signs they made
to forbid our approach. The English chief, whose
language they, in some degree understood, endeavoured to remove their distrust of us; but till I
went to them with a present of beads, they refused
to have any communication with us.
When they first perceived our sail, they took us
for the Esquimaux Indians, who employ a sail in
their canoes. They were suspicious of our designs,
and questioned us with a view to obtain some knowledge of them. On seing us in possession of some
of the clothes, bows, &c. which must have belonged to some of the Deguthee Denees, or Qua-
rellers, they imagined that we had killed some of
them, and were bearing away the fruits of our victory. They appeared, indeed, to be of the same
tribe, though they were afraid of acknowledging it.
From their questions, it was evident that they had
not received any notice of our being in those parts.
They would not acknowledge that they had any
women with them, though we had seen them running to the woods ; but pretended that they had
been left at a considerable distance from the river,
with   some   relations,   who   were   engaged   in
e e
4. \ i ••it'
01. v
killing rein-keer. These people had been here
but a .short time, and their lodge was not yet completed ; nor had they any fish in a state of preparation for their provision. I gave them a knife and
some beads for an horn-wedge or chisel, with
wfaibh they split their canoe-wood. One of my
Indians having broken his paddle, attempted to
take one of theirs, whfeh was immediately contested by its owner, and on my interfering to prevent this act of injustice, he manifested his gratitude to me on the occasion. We lost an hour
and a half in this conference.
The English chief was during the whole of the
(Sme in the woods, where some of the hidden property was discovered, but the women contrived to
elude the search that was made after them. Some
of thise artidtes were purloined, but I was ignorant
of this circumstance till we had taken our departure, or I should certainly have given an ample
remuneration. Our chief expressed his displeasure at their running away to conceal themselves,
their property, and their young women, in very
bitter terms. He said his heart was against those
slaves; and complained aloud of his disappointment in coming so far without seeing the natives,
and getting something from them.
We employed the s&il and the paddle since ten
this morning, and pitched our tents at seven in the
evening. We had no sooner encamped than we
Were visited by an Indian whom we had seen before, and whose family Was at a small distance up
the river: at nine he left Us. The weather was clear
and serene.
Saturday, 25. We efnbarked this morning at a
quarter past three, and at seven we passed the
lodge of the Indian who had visited us the preceding evening. There appeared to have been more
than one family, and we naturally concluded that mm
our visitor had made such an unfavourable report
of us, as to induce his companions to fly on our
approach. Their fire was not extinguished, and
they had left a considerable quantity of fish scattered about their dwelling.
The weather was now very sultry ; but the current had relaxed of its force, so that the paddle was
sufficient for our progress during the greatest part
of the day. The inland part of the country is
mountainous and the banks of the river low, but
covered with wood, among which is the poplar,
but of small growth, and the first which we had
seen on our return. A pigeon also flew by us, and
hares appeared to be in great plenty. We passed
many Indian encampments which we did not see
in our passage down the river. About seven the
sky, to the Westward, became of a steel blue colour, with liglstning and thunder. We accordingly landed to prepare ourselves against the coming storm ; tnit before we could erect our tents, it
came on with such violence that we expected it to
carry every thing before it. The ridge pole of
nwtent was broken in the middle, where it was
sound, and nine inches and an half in circumference ; and we were obliged to throw ourselves flat
on the ground to escape being wounded by the
stones that were hurled about in the air like sand.
The violence of the storm, however, subsided in
a short time, but left the sky overcast with the appearance of rain.
Sunday, 26. It rained from the preceding evening to this morning, when we embarked at four
o'clock. At eighfcwe landed at three large Indian
lodges. Their inhabitants, who were asleep, expressed uncommon alarm and agitation when they
were awakened by us, though most of them had
seen us before. Their habitations were crouded
with fish, hanging to dry in every part; but as we
/ ■?
■ wanted some for present use, we sent their young
men to visit the nets, and they returned with abundance of large white fish, to which the name has
been given of poisson inconnu ; some of a round
shape, and green colour ; and a few white ones ;
all which were very agreeable food. Some beads,
and a few other trifles, were gratefully received in
return. These people are very fond of iron work
of any kind, and my men purchased several of their
articles for small pieces of tin.
There were five or six persons whom we had not
seen before; and among them wras a Dog-rib Indian, whom some private quarrel had driven from
his country. The English chief understood him
as well as one of his own nation, and gave the following account of their conversation :—
He had been informed by the people with whom
he now lives, the Hare Indians, that there is another river on the other side of the mountains to the
South-West, which falls into the Belhoullay Toe*.
or White-man's Lake, in comparison of which
that on whose banks we then were, was but a small
stream ; that the natives were very large, and very
wricked, and kill common men with their eyes;
that they make canoes larger than ours; that those
who inhabit the entrance of it kill a kind of beaver,
the skin of which is almost red; and that large canoes often frequent it. As there is no known communication by water with this river, the^natives
who saw it went over the mountains.
As he mentioned that there were some beavers
in this part of the country, I told hiin to hunt it,
and desire the others to do the same, as well as the
martens, foxes, beaver-eater or wolvereen, &c*
which they might carry to baiter for iron with his
own nation, who are supplied with goods by us,
near their country. He was anxious to know whether we should return that >vay; at the same time
aZ. ***
he informed us, that we should see but few of the
natives along the river, as all the young men were
engaged in killing rein-deer, near the Esquimaux Lake, which, he also said, was at no great
distance. The latter he represented as very treacherous, and added, that they had killed one of his
people. He told us likewise, that some plan of
revenge was meditating, unless the offending party
paid a sufficient price for the body of the murdered
My Indians were very anxious to possess themselves of a woman that was with the natives, but,
as they were not willing to part with her, I interfered, to prevent her being taken by force ; indeed
I was obliged to exercise the utmost vigilance, as
the Indians who accompanied me were ever ready
to take what they could from the natives, without
making them any return. About twelve, we passed a river of some appearance, flowing from the
Eastward. One of the natives who followed us,
called it the Winter Road River. We did not find
the stream strong to-day, along the shore, as there
were many eddy currents ; we therefore employed
the sail during some hours of it, and went on shore
for the night at half past seven.
Monday, 27. The weather was now fine, and
we renewed our voyage at half past two. At
seven we landed where there were three families,
situated close to the rapids. We found but few
people ; for as the Indian who followed us yesterday had arrived here before us, we supposed that
the greater part had fled, on the intelligence which
he gave of our approach. Some of these people
we had seen before, when they told us that they
had left their property at a lake in the neighbourhood, and had promised to fetch it before our return ; but we now found them as unprovided as
I 'f
when we left them.^ Thejr had pleilfcy  of fish,
some of which was packed tip in btrch bark*
Daring the time we remained with them, which
was not more than two hours, I endeavoured to
obtain some additional intelligence respecting the
river which had been mentioned on the preceding
day; when they declared their total ignorance of
it, but from the reports of others, as they had
never been beyond tie mountains, on the opposite
side of their own river; they had, however, been
informed that it was larger than that which washed
the banks whereon they Iwed, and that its course
was towards the mid-day sun.    They added, that
there were people at a small distance up the river,
who inhabited the opposite mountains, and had
lately descended from them to obtain supplies of
fisfe.    These people, they suggested, must be well
acquainted with the other rivete, which was the object of my inquiry.    I engaged one of them, by a
bribe of some beads, to describe the circumjacent
country upon the sand.    This singular <map he immediately undertook to delineate, and accordingly
traced out.a very long point of land between the
rivers, though without paying the least attention to
their courses, which be represented as running into
the great lake, at the extremity of which, as he had
been told by Indians of other nations, there was a
Belhoullay Couin, or White Man's Fort.    This I
took to be Uiialascha Fort, and consequently the
river to the West to be Cook's River ; and that
the body offwater or sea into which this river discharges itself at Whale Island, cotmmunicates with
Norton Sound.    I made -an advantageous proposition to  this  man to accompany  me across the
mountains to the other river, but he refused it. At
the same time he recommenced me to the people
already mentioned, who were fishing in the neigh-
^ mm
bourhood, as better qualified to assist me in the
undertaking which I had proposed.
One of tMs sa&all company of natives was grievously afflicted with ulcers in his back, and the only
attention which was paid to his miserable condition, as far at least as we could discover, preceded
from a woman, who carefully employed a bunch of
feathers in preventing the flies from settling upon
his sores* f ^
At ten this morning we landed near the lodges
which had already be^t mentioned to us, and I ordered my people to make preparation for passing
the remaining part of the day here, in order to obtain that familiarity with the natives which might
induce them to aflord me, without reserve, the information that I should require from them. This
object, however, was in danger of being altogether
frustrated, by a misunderstanding that had taken
place between the natives and my young Indians,
who had already arrived there. Before the latter
could disembark, the former seized the canoe, and
dragged it on sfcore, and in this act of violence the
boat was broken, from the weight of the persons in
it. This insult was on the point of being seriously
revenged, when I arrived, to prevent the consequences of such a disposition. The variation of
the comp&ss was about twenty-nine degrees to the
At four in the afternoon I ordered my interpreter
to harangue the natives, assembled in council; but
his long discourse obtained little satisfactory intelligence from them. Theit account of the river to
the Westward, was similar to that which he had already received : and their description of the inhabitants of that country was still more absurd and
ridiculous. They represented them as being of a
gigantic stature, and adorned with wings; which
however, they never employed in flying.    That ,M
they fed on large birds, which they killed with the
greatest ease, though common men would be certain victims of their ferocity if they ventured to
approach them. They also described the people
that inhabited the mouth of the river as possessing
the extraordinary power of killing with their eyes,
and devouring a large beaver at a single meal.
They added that canoes of very large dimensions
visited that place. They did not, however, relate
these strange circumstances from their own knowledge, but on the reports of other tribes, as they
themselves never ventured to proceed beyond the
first mountains, where they went in search of the
small white buffaloes, as the inhabitants of the other
side endeavour to kill them whenever they meet.
They likewise mentioned that the sources of those
streams which are tributary to both the great rivers
are separated by the mountains. It appeared to
us, however, that these people knew more about
the country than they chose to communicate, or
at least reached me, as the interpreter, w7ho had
long been tired of the voyage, might conceal such
a part of their communications as, in his opinion,
would induce me to follow new routes, or extend
my excursions.
No sooner was the conference concluded, than
they began to dance, which is their favourite, and,
except jumping, their only amusement. In this
pastime old and young, male and female, continued
their exertions, till their strength was exhausted.
This exercise was accompanied by loud imitations
of the various noises produced by the rein-deer,
the bear, and the wolf.
When they had finished their antics, I desired
the English chief to renew the former subjects;
which he did without success. I therefore assumed
an angry air, expressed my suspicions that they
withhejd their information^ and concluded with a
V i... mm
menace, that if they did not give me all the satisfaction in their power, I would force one of them
along with me to-morrow, to point out the other
river* On this declaration, they all, at one and
the same moment, became sick, and answered in
a very faint tone, that they knew no more than they
had already communicated, and that they should
die if I took any of them away. They began to
persuade my interpreter to remain with them, as
they loved him as wrell as they did themselves, and
that he would be killed if he continued with me*
Nor did this proposition, aided as it was by the
solicitation of his women, fail of producing a considerable effect upon him, though he endeavoured
to conceal it from me.
I now found that it would be fruitless for me
to expect any accounts of the country, or the other
great river, till I got to the river of the Bear Lake,
where I expected to find some of the natives, who
promised to wait for us there* These people had
actually mentioned this river to me when we passed
them, but I then paid no attention to that circumstance, as I imagined it to be either a misunderstanding of my interpreter, or that it was an invention which, with their other lies, might tend to
prevent me from proceeding down their river.
We were plentifully supplied with fish, as well
dry as fresh, by these people; they also gathered
as many hurtle berries as we chose, for which we
paid with the usual articles of beads, awls, knives,
and tin. I purchased a few beaver-skins of them,
which, according to their accounts, are not very
numerous in this country; and that they do not
abound in moose-deer and buffaloes. They were
alarmed for some of their young men, who were
killing geese higher up the river, and entreated us
to do them no harm. About sun-set I was under
the necessity of shooting one of their dogs, as we
could not keep those animals from our baggage.
It was in vain that I had remonstrated on this subject, so that I was obliged to commit the act which
has been just mentioned. When these people heard
the report of the pistol, and saw the dog dead, they
were seized with a very general alarm, and the women took their children on their backs and ran into
the woods. I ordered the cause of this act of severity to be explained, with the assurance that no
injury would be offered to themselves. The woman, however, to whom the dog belonged, was
very much affected, and declared that the loss of
five children, during the preceding winter, had not
affected her so much as the death of this animal*
But her grief was not of very long duration ; and
a few beads, &c. soon assuaged her sorrow. But
as they can without difficulty get rid of their affliction, they can with equal ease assume it, and feign
sickness if it be necessary with the same versatility. When we arrived this morning, we found
the women in tears, from an apprehension that we
were come to take them away. To the eye of an
European they certainly were objects of disgust;
but there were those among my party who observed
some hidden charms in these females which rendered them objects of desire, and means were found,
I believe, that very soon dissipated their alarms
and subdued their coyness.
On the upper part of the beach, liquorice grew
ha great abundance and it was now in blossom* I
pulled up some of the roots, which were large and
long-; but the natives were ignorant of its qualities,
and considered it as a weed of no use or value.
Tuesday, 28. At four this morning I ordered
my people to prepare for our departure ; and while
they were loading the canoe, I went with the English chief to visit the lodges, but the greater part
of their inhabitants had quitted them during the NORTH-WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.   85
night, and those that remained pretended sickness*
and refused to rise. When, however, they were
convinced that we did not mean to take any of them
withus, their sickness abandoned them, and when
we had embarked, they came forth from their huts,
to desire that we would visit their nets, which
were at a small distance up the river, and take all
the fish we might find in them* We accordingly
availed ourselves of this permission, and took as
many as were necessary for our own supply.
We landed shortly after where there were two
more lodges, which were full of fish, but without
any inhabitants, who were probably with the natives
whom we had just left. My Indians, in rummaging
these places, found several articles which they proposed to take; I therefore gave beads and awls,
to be left as the purchase of them; but this act of
justice they were not able to comprehend, as the
people themselves were not present. I took up a
net and left a large knife in the place of it. It was
about four fathoms long, and thirty-two meshes in
depth; these nets are much more convenient to set
in the eddy current than our long ones. This is
the place that the Indians call a rapid, though we
went up it all the way with the paddle; so that the
current could not be so strong here, as in many
other parts of the river; indeed, if it were so, the
difficulty of towing would be almost insuperable,
as in many parts, tike rocks, which are of a great
height, and rather project over the water, leave no
shore between them and the stream. These precipices abound in swallows' nests. The weather
was now very sultry, and at eleven we were under
the necessity of landing to gum our canoe.
In about an hour we set forward, and at one in
the afternoon, went on shore at a fire, which we
supposed to have been kindled by the young men,
who, as we had been already informed, were hunt-
ing geese. Our hunters found their canoe and
the fowl they had got, secreted in the woods ; and
soon after, the people themselves, whom they
brought to the water side. Out of two hundred
geese, we picked thirty-six which were eatable ;
the rest were putrid, and emitted a horrid stench.
They had been killed some time without having been
gutted, and in this state of loathsome rottenness,
we.have every reason to suppose they are eaten by
the natives. We paid for those which we had taken,
and departed. At seven in the evening, the weather became cloudy and overcast; at eight we encamped ; at nine it began to thunder with great
violence; a heavy rain succeeded, accompanied
with a hurricane, that blew down our tents, and
threatened to carry away the canoe, which had been
fastened to some trees with a cod-line. The storm
lasted two hours, and deluged us with wet.
Wednesday, 29.    Yesterday the weather   was
cloudy, and the heat insupportable; and now we
could not put on clothes enough to keep us warm.
We embarked at a quarter past four with an aft
wind, which drove us on at a great rate, though
the current is very strong.    At ten we came to the
other rapid which we got up with the line on the
West side, where we found it much stronger than
when we went down ; the water had also fallen at
least five feet since that time, so that several shoals
appeared in the river which we had not seen before.    One of my hunters narrowly escaped being
drowned in crossing a river that falls in from the
Westward, and is the most considerable, except
the mountain river, that flows in  this direction.
We had strong Northerly and cold wind throughout
the whole of the day, and took our station for the
night at a quarter past eight.    We killed a goose
and caught some young ones.
HHM m*m»*
Thursday, 50. We renewed our voyage at four
this morning, after a very rainy night. The weather was cloudy, but the cold had moderated, and
the wind was North-West. We were enabled to
employ the sail during part of the day, and encamped at about seven in the evening. We killed
eleven old geese and forty young ones which had
just begun to fly. The English chief was very
much irritated against one of his young men: that
jealousy occasoned this uneasiness, and that it was
not without very sufficient cause, was all I could
discover. For the last two or three days we had
eaten the liquorice root, of which there is great a-
bundance on the banks of the river. We found it
a powerful astringent.
Friday, 31. The rain was continual throughout
the night, and did not subside till nine this morning when we renewed our progress. The wind
and weather the same as yesterday. About three in
the afternoon it cleared up and the wind died away,
when it became warm. At five the wind veered
to the East, and brought cold along with it. There
were plenty of hurtle berries, raspberries, and a berry
called Poire, which grows in the greatest abundance. We were very much impeded in our way
by shoals of sand and small stones, which render
the water shallow at a distance from the shore.
In other places the bank of the river is lofty: it is
formed of black earth and sand, and, as it is continually falling, displayed to us, in some parts, a face
of solid ice, to within a foot of the surface. We
finished this day's voyage at a quarter before eight,
and in the course of it killed seven geese.
We now had recourse to our corn, for we had
only consumed three days of our original provision since we began to mount the current. It was
my intention to have ascended the river on the
South side from the last rapid, to discover if there
Pfig^frfcgg '1>lWt! mm
were any rivers of consequence that flow from the
Westward; but the sand-banks were so numerous
and the current so strong, that I was compelled to
traverse to the opposite side, where the eddy currents are very frequent, which gave us an opportunity of setting our nets and making much more
Voyage continued. Suspect the integrity of the
interpreter. Stars visible. Springs of mineral
water, and lumps of iron ore. Arrive at the
river of the Bear Lake. Coal mine in a state
of combustion. Water of the river diminished.
Continue to see Indian encampments, and kill
geese, &c. Hunting excursions. A canoe found
on the edge of a wood. Attempt to ascend a
mountain. Account of the passage to it. See a
few of the natives. Kill a beaver and some
hares. Design of the English chief. Kill a
wolf. Changeable state of the weather. Recover the Pemmican, which had been hidden in
an island. Natives fly at our approoch. Meet
with dogs. Altercation with the English chief.
Account of the articles left by the fugitives.
Shoals of the river covered with saline matter.
Encamp at the mouth of the river of the mountain. The ground on fire on each side of it.
Continue to see encampments of the natives.
Various kinds of berries. Kill geese, swans,
&c. &c. &c. Corroding quality of the water.
Weather changeable. Reach the entrance of
the Slave Lake. Dangers encountered on entering it. Caught pike and trout. Met M. Le
Roux on the lake. Further circumstances till
our return to Fort Chepewyan. Conclusion of
the voyage.
August, 1789.
Saturday, 1. WE embarked at three this
morning, the weather being clear and cold, with
the wTind at South-East. At three in the afternoon
we traversed and landed to take the canoe in tow:
here was an encampment of the natives, which we
*• -I
had reason to suppose they had quitted the preceding day. At five we perceived a family, consisting of a man, two women, and as many children,
stationed by the side of the water, whom we had
not seen before. They informed us, that they had
but few fish, and that none of their friends were in
the neighbourhood, except the inhabitants of one
lodge on the other side of the river, and a man who
belonged to them, and who was now occupied in
hunting. I now found my interpreter very unwilling to ask such questions as were dictated to him,
from the apprehension, as I imagined, that I might
obtain such intelligence as would prevent him from
seeing Athabasca this season. We left him with
the Indian, and pitched our tents at the same place
where we had passed the night on the fifth of last
month. The English chief came along with the
Indian to our fire; and the latter informed us that
the native who went down part of the river with us
had passed there, and that we should meet with
three lodges of his tribe above the river of the Bear
Lake. Of the river to the Westward he knew nothing but from the relation of others. This was
the first night since our departure from Athabasca, when it was sufficiently dark to render the stars
Sunday, 2. We set off at three this morning with
the towing-line. I walked with my Indians, as they
went faster than the canoe, and particularly as I suspected that they wanted to arrive at the huts of the
natives before me. In our way, I observed several small springs of mineral water running from the
foot of the mountain, and along the beach I saw several lumps of iron ore. When Ave came to the
river of the Bear Lake, I ordered one of the young
Indians to wait for my canoe, and I took my place
in their small canoe. This river is about two hundred and fifty yards broad at this place, the water
clear and of a greenish colour. When I landed on
the opposite shore, I discovered that the natives
had been there very lately from the print of their
feet in the sand. We continued walking till five
in the afternoon, when we saw several smokes
along the shore. As we naturally concluded, that
these were certain indications where we should
fifieet the natives who were the objects of our search
we quickened our pace ; but, in our progress, experienced a very sulphurous smell, and at length
discovered that the whole bank was on fire for a
very considerable distance. It proved to be a coal
mine, to which the fire had communicated from
an old Indian encampment. The beach was covered with coals, and the English chief gathered
some of the softest he could find, as a black dye;
it being the mineral, as he informed me, witfiwhich
the natives render their quills black.
Here we waited for the large canoe, which arrived an hour after us.    At half past ten we saw several Indian marks, which consisted of pieces of
bark fixed on poles, and pointing to the woods,
opposite to which is an old beaten road, that bore
the marks of being lately frequented ; the beach
also was covered with tracks.    At a small distance
were the poles of five lodges standing ; where we
landed and unloaded our canoe.    I then dispatched
one of my men and two young Indians to see if
they could find any natives within a day's march of
us.    I wanted the English chief to go, but he
pleaded fatigue, and that it would be of no use.
This was the first time he had refused to comply
with my desire, and jealousy, I believe, was the
cause of it in the present instance; though I had
taken every precaution that he should not have
cause to be jealous of the Canadians.    There was
not, at this time, the least appearance of snow   on
the opposite mountains, though they were almost
I    I    G S
141 y
covered with it, when we passed before. Set two
nets, and at eleven o'clock at night the men and Indians returned. They had been to their first encampment, where there were four fires, and which
had been quitted a short time before; so that they
were obliged to make the circuit of several small
lakes, which the natives cross with their canoes.
This encampment was on the borders of a lake
which was too large for them to venture round it,
so that they did not proceed any further. They
saw several beavers and beaver lodges in those
small lakes. They killed one of these animals
whose fur began to get long, a sure indication that
the fall of the year approaches. They also saw
many old tracks of the moose and rein-deer. This
is the time when the rein-deer leave the plains to
come to the woods, as the musquitoes begin to disappear; I, therefore, apprehended that we should
not find a single Indian on the river side, as they
would be in or about the mountains setting snares
to take them.
Monday, 3. We proceeded with a strong Westerly wind, at four this morning, the weather being
cloudy and cold. At twelve it cleared up and became fine; the current also increased. The water
had fallen so much since our passage down the
river, that here, as in other places, we discovered
manv shoals which were not then visible.    We
killed several geese of a larger size than those which
we had generally seen. Several Indian encampments were seen along the river, and we landed at
eight for the night.
Tuesday, 4. At four in the morning we renewed our course, when it was fine and calm. The
night had been cold and a very heavy dew had fallen.
At nine we were obliged to land in order to*
gum tfye canoe, when the weather became extremely warm.      Numerous tracks of rein-deer
^T mmm
appeared on the side of the river. At half past
five we took our station for the night, and set the
nets. The current was very strong all day, and
we found it very difficult to walk along the beach,
from the large stones which were scattered over it.
Wednesday, 5. We raised our nets but had
not the good fortune to take a single fish. The
water was now become so low that the eddy currents would not admit of setting them. The current had not relaxed its strength ; and the difficulty
of walking along the beach was continued. The
air was now become so cold, that our exercise,
^violent as it was, scarce kept us warm. We passed several points which we should not have accomplished, if the canoe had been loaded. We
were very much fatigued, and at six were glad to
conclude our toilsome march. The Indians killed
two geese. The women who did not quit the canoe, were continually employed in making shoes
of moose-skin, for the men, as a pair did not last
more than a day.
Thursday, 6, The rain prevented us from proceeding till half past six, when we had a strong
aft wind, which, aided by the paddles, drove us on
at a great rate. We encamped at six to wait for
our Indians, whom wre had hot seen since the morning ; and at half past seven they arrived very much
dissatisfied with their day's journey. Two days
had now elapsed, since we had seen the least appearance of Indian habitations.
Friday, 7. We embarked at half past three, and
soon after perceived two rein-deer on the beach
before us. We accordingly checked our course ;
but our Indians, in contending who should be the
first to get near these animals, alarmed and lost
them. We, however, killed a female rein-deer,
and from the wounds in her hind-legs, it was supposed that she had been pursued by wolves, who I 1 It
had devoured her young one: her udder was full of
milk, and one of the young Indians poured it among
some boiled corn, which he ate with great delight,
esteeming it a very delicious food. At five in the
afternoon we saw an animal running along the
beach, but could not determine whether it was
a grey fox or a dog. In a short time, we went
ashore for the night, at the entrance of a small river,
as I thought there might be some natives in the
vicinity of the place. I ordered my hunters to put
their fuzees in order, and gave them ammunition to
proceed on a hunting party the next day ; they
were also instructed to discover if there were any
natives in the neighbouring mountains* I found a
small canoe at the edge of the woods, which contained a paddle and a bow: it had been repaired
this spring, and the workmanship of the bark excelled any that I had yet seen. We saw several
encampments in the course of the day. The current of the river was very strong, and along the
points equal to rapids.
Saturday, 8. The rain was very violent throughout the night, and continued till the afternoon of
this day, when the weather began to clear, with a.
strong, cold, and Westerly wind. At three the Indians proceeded on the hunting expedition, and at
eight they returned without having met with the
least success; though they saw numerous tracks
of the rein-deer. They came to an old beaten road,
which one of them followed for some time; but it
did not appear to have been lately frequented. The
yain now returned, and continued till the morning.
Sunday, 9. We renewed our voyage at half past
three, the weather being cold and cloudy; but at
ten it became clear and moderate. We saw another canoe at the outside of the wood, and one of
the Indians killed a dog, which was in a meagre,
emaciated condition. We perceived various places NORTH-WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.   95
where the natives had made their fires; for these
people reside but a short time near the river, and
remove from one bank to the other, as it suits their
purposes. We saw a path which was connected
writh another on the opposite side of the river. The
water had risen considerably since last night, and
there had been a strong current throughout the
day. At seven we made to the shore and encamped.
Monday, 10. At three this morning we returned
to our canoe ; the weather fine and clear, with a
light wind from the South-East. The Indians
were before us in pursuit of game. At ten we
landed opposite to the mountains which we had
passed on the second of the last month, in order
to ascertain the variation of the compass at this
place : but this was accomplished in a very imperfect manner, as I could not depend on my watch.
One of the hunters joined us here, fatigued and
unsuccessful. As these mountains are the last of
any considerable magnitude on the South-West
side of the river, I ordered my men to cross to
that side of it, that I might ascend one of them. It
was near four in the afternoon when I landed, and
I lost no time m proceeding to the attainment of
my object. I was accompanied only by a young
Indian, as the curiosity of my people was subdued by the fatigue they had undergone; and we
soon had reason to believe that we should pay
dearly for the indulgence of our own. The wood,
which was chiefly of spruce firs, was so thick that
it was with great difficulty we made our way
through it. When we had walked upwards of an
hour, the under-wood decreased, while the white
birch and poplar were the largest and tallest of their
kind that I had ever seen. The ground now began/
to rise, and was covered with small pines, and at
length we got the first view of the mountains since
I  I
we had left the canoe ; as they appeared to be no
nearer to us, though we had been walking for three
hours, than when we had seen them from the river,
my companion expressed a very great anxiety to
return; his shoes and leggins were torn to pieces,
and he was alarmed at the idea of passing through
such bad roads during the night. I persisted,
however, in proceeding, with a determination to
pass the night on the mountains and return on the
morrow. As we approached them, the ground
was quite marshy, and we waded in water and
grass up to the knees, till we came within a mile
of them, when I suddenly sunk up to my arm-pits,
and it was with some difficulty that I extricated
myself from' this disagreeable situation. I now
found it impossible to proceed; to cross this
marshy ground in a straight line was impracticable,
and it extended so far to the right and left, that I
could not attempt to make the circuit; I therefore
determined to return to the canoe, and arrived there
about midnight, very much fatigued with this
fruitless journey.
Tuesday, 11. We observed several tracks along
the beach, and an encampment at the edge of the
woods, which appeared to be five or six days old.
We should have continued our route along this side
of the river, but we had not seen our hunters since
yesterday morning. We accordingly embarked before three, and at five traversed the river, when we
saw two of them coming down in search of us,
Thev had killed no other animals than one beaver,
and a few hares. According to their account, the
woods were so thick that it was impossible to follow the game through them. They had seen several of the natives' encampments, at no great distance
from the river; and it was their opinion that they
had discovered us in our passage down it, and
*T mm
had taken care to avoid us; which accounted for
the small number we had seen on our return.
I requested the English chief to return with me
to the other side of the river, in order that he
might proceed to discover the natives, whose
tracks and habitations we had seen there ; but he
was backward in complying with my desire, and
proposed to send the young men; but I could not
trust to them, and at the same time was become
rather doubtful of him. They were still afraid
lest I should obtain such accounts of the other
river as would induce me to travel overland to it,
and that they should be called upon to accompany
me. I was, indeed, informed by one of my own
people, that the English chief, his wives and companions, had determined to leave me on this side
of the Slave Lake, in order to goto the country of
the Beaver Indians, and that about the middle of
the winter he would return to that lake, where he
had appointed to meet some of his relations, who,
during, the last spring, had been engaged in war.
We now traversed the river, and continued to
track the Indians till past twelve, when we lost all
traces of them; inconsequence, as we imagined,
of their having crossed to the Eastern side. We
saw several dogs on both shores; and one of the
young Indians killed a wolf, which the men ate
with great satisfaction: we shot, also, fifteen
young geese that were now beginning to fly. It
was eight when we took our evening station, having lost four hours in making our traverses-
There was no interruption of the fine weather during the course of this day.
Wednesday, 12. We proceeded on our voyage at
three this morning, and dispatched the two young
Indians across the river, that we might not miss any
of the natives that should be on the banks of it.
We saw many places where fires had been lately made
mm KaWtfUBJfOMIfcg »■
along the beach, as well as fire running in the
woods. At four we arrived at an encampment
which had been left this morning. • Their tracks
were observable in several places in the woods,
and as it might be presumed that they could not
be at any great distance, it was proposed to the
chief to accompany me in search of them. We
accordingly, though with some hesitation on his
part, penetrated several miles into the woods, but
without discovering the objects of our research.
The fire had spread all over the country, and had
burned about three inches of the black, light soil,
which covered a body of cold clay, that was so
hard as not to receive the least impression of our
feet. At ten we returned from our unsuccessful
excursion. In the mean time the hunters had
killed seven geese. There were several showers
of rain, accompanied with gusts of wind and
thunder. The nets had been set during our absence.
'- Thursday, 13. The nets were taken up, but
not one fish was found in them; and at half past
three we continued our route, with very favourable
weather. We passed several places, where fires
had been made by the natives, and many tracks
were perceptible along the beach. At seven we
were opposite the island where our Pemmican had
been concealed: two of the Indians were accordingly dispatched in search of it, and it proved very
acceptable, as it rendered 115 more independent of
the provisions which were to be obtained by our
fowling pieces, and qualified us to get out of the
river without that delay which our hunters would
otherwise have required. In a short time we perceived a smoke on the shore to the South-West,
at the distance of three leagues, which did not appear to proceed from any running fire. The Indians, who were a little way ahead of us, did not KORTH-WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.   99
discover it, being engaged in the pursuit of a flock
of geese, at which they fired several shots, when
the;smoke immediately disappeared; and in a short
time we saw several.of the natives run along the
shore, some 9f whom entered their canoes.
Though we were almost opposite to them, we
could not cross the river without going further up
it, frpm the strength of the current; I therefor^,
ordered our Indians to make every possible exertion, in order to speak with them, and wait our aiv
rival. But as soon as pur small canoe struck off,
we could perceive the poor affrighted people hasten
to the shore, and after drawing their canoes on the
beach, hurry into the woods. It was past ten before we landed at the place where they had deserted
their canoes, which were four in number. They
were so terrified that they had left several articles
on the beach. I was very much displeased with
my Indians, who instead of seeking the natives,
irere dividing their property. I rebuked the English chief with some severity for his conduct, and
immediately ordered him, his young men, and my
own people, to go in search of the fugitives, but
their fears had made them too nimble for us, and
we could not overtake them. We saw several
dogs in the woods, and some of them followed us
to our canoe.
The English chief was very much displeased at
my reproaches, and expressed himself to me in
person to that effect. This was the very opportur
nity which I wanted, to make him acquainted with
my dissatisfaction for some time past. I stated to
him that I had come a great way, and at a very considerable expence, without having completed the
object of my wishes, and that I suspected he -frfftL
concealed from me a principal part of what the na-,
tives had told him respecting the country^ lest fep.
should be obliged to follow me:  that his reason for
11 h h
1 i'll
not killing game, &c. was his jealousy, which likewise prevented him from looking after the natives
as he ought; and that we had never given him any
cause for any suspicions of us. These suggestions
irritated him in a very high degree, and he accused
me of speaking ill words to him ; he denied the
charge of jealousy, and declared that he did not
conceal any thing from us; and that as to the ill
success of their hunting, it arose from the nature
of the country, and the scarcity, which had hitherto
appeared, of animals in it. He concluded by informing me that he would not accompany me any
further; that though he wTas without ammunition,
he could live in the same manner as the slaves,
(the name given to the inhabitants of that part of
the country), and that he would remain among
them. His harangue was succeeded by a loud and
bitter lamentation; and his relations assisted the
vociferations of his grief; though they said that
their tears flowed for their dead friends. I did not
interrupt their grief for two hours, but as I could
not well do without them, I was at length obliged
to sooth it, and induce the chief to change his resolution, which he did, but with great apparent
reluctance; when we embarked as we had hitherto
The articles which the fugitives had left behind
them* on the present occasion, were bows, arrows,
snares for moose and rein-deer, and for hares; to
these may be added a few dishes, made of bark,
some skins of the marten and the beaver, and old
beaver robes, with a small robe made of the skin
of the lynx. Their canoes wrere coarsely made of
the bark of the spruce-fir, and will carry two or
three people. I ordered*my men to remove them
to the shade, and gave most of the other articles to
the young Indians. The English chief would not
accept of any of them.    In the place, and as the NORTH-WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA,   lot
purchase of them, I left some cloth, some small
knives, a file, two fire-steels, a comb, rings, with
beads and awls. I also ordered a marten skin to
be placed on a proper mould, and a beaver skin to
be stretched on a frame, to which I tied a scraper.
The Indians were of opinion that all these articles
would be lost, as the natives were so much frightened that they would never return. Here we lost
six hfmrs ; and on our quitting the place, three of
the dogs which I have already mentioned followed
us along the beach.
We pitched our tents at half past eight, at the
entrance of the river of the mountain ; and while
the people were unloading the canoe, I took a walk
along the beach, and on the shoals, which being
uncovered since we passed down, by the sinking
of the waters, were now white with a saline substance. I sent for the English chief to sup with
me, and a dram or two dispelled all his heart-burning and discontent. He informed me that it was
a custom with the Chepewyan chiefs to go to war
after they had shed tears, in order to wipe away the
disgrace attached to such a feminine weakness, and
that in the ensuing spring he should not fail to execute his design ; at the same time he declared his
intention to continue with us as long as I should
want him. I took care that he should carry some
liquid consolation to his lodge, to prevent the return of his chagrin. The weather was fine, and
the Indians killed three geese.
Friday, 14. At a quarter before four this morning, we returned to our canoe, and went about two
miles up the river of the mountains. Fire was in
the ground on each side of it. In traversing, I
took soundings, and found five, four and an
half, and three and an half fathoms water. Its
stream was very muddy, and formed a cloudy streak
along the water of the great river, on the West
w mi   as i ■ i
% •
side to the Eastern rapid, where the waters dfthe
two rivers at length blend in one. It was impossible not to consider it as an extraordinary circur&j
stance, that the current of the former river should
not incorporate with that of the latter, but flow, as
it were, in distinct streams at so great a distance,
and till the contracted state of the channel unites
them. We passed several encampments of the
Mtives, and a river which flowed in from the
North, that had the appearance of being navigable.
We concluded our voyage of this day at half past
five in the afternoon. There were plenty of berries, which my people called poires ; they are of a
jburple hue, somewhat bigger than a pea, and of a
luscious taste; there were also gooseberries, and a
few strawberries.
Saturday, 15. We continued our course from
three in the morning till half past five in the afternoon. We saw several encampments along the
beach, till it became too narrow to admit them;
when the banks rose into a considerable degree of
elevation, and there were more eddy currents.
The Indians killed twelve geese, and berries wer6
collected in great abundance. The weather was
Sultry throughout the day.
Sundtty, 16. We continued our voyage at a
{Juarter before four, and in five hours passed the
place where we had been stationed on the 13th of
June. Here the river widened, and its shores became flat. The land on the North side is low, composed of a black soil, mixed with stones, but agreeably covered with the aspen, the poplar, the white
birch, the spruce-fir, Sec. The current was so
moderate, that we proceeded upon it almost as
fast as in dead water. At twelve we passed an encampment of three fires, which was the only one
we saw in the course of the day. The weatHer
was the same as yesterday. NORTH-WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.   109
Monday, 17. We proceeded at half past three ;
and saw three successive encampments. From the
peculiar structure of the huts, we imagined that
sotiffc'of the Red-Knife Indians had been in this
part of the country, though it is not usual for them
to come this way. I had last night ordered the
young Indians to precede us, for the purpose of
hunting, and at ten we overtook them. They had
killed five young swans; and the English chief
presented us with an eagle, three cranes, a small
beaver, and two geese. We encamped at seven
this evening on the same spot which had been our
resting-place on the 29th of June.
Tuesday, 18.J|At four this morning I equipped
all the Indians for an hunting excursion, and sent
them onward, as our stock of provision was nearly
exhausted. We followed at half past six, and crossed over to the north shore, where the land is low
Mid scarcely visible in the horizon. It was near
twelve when we arrived. I now got an observation, when it was 61. 33. North latitude. We were
near AVe miles to the North of the main channel of
the river. The fresh tracks and beds of buffaloes,
were very perceptible. Near this place a river flowed in from the Horn Mountains, which are at no
great distance. We landed at five in the afternoon,
and before the canoe was unloaded, the English
chief arrived with the tongue of a cow, or female
buffalo, when four men and the Indians were dispatched for the flesh ; but they did not return till
it was dark. They informed me, that they had seen
several human tracks in the sand on the opposite
island. The fine weather continued without interruption.
Wednesday, 19. The Indians were again sent
forward in pursuit of game ; and some time being
employed in gumming the canoe, we did not embark fill half past five, and at nine wre landed to wait
j>.r~ Vfli
a ?.
the return of the hunters. I here found the variation of the compass to be about twenty degrees
The people made themselves paddles and repaired the canoe. It is an extraordinary circumstance
for which I do not pretend to account, that there is
some peculiar quality in the water of this river,
which corrodes wood, from the destructive effect
it had on the paddles. The hunters arrived at a
late hour, without having seen any large animals.
Their booty consisted only of three swans and as
many geese. The women were employed in gathering cranberries and crowberries, which were found
in great abundance.
Thursday, 20. We embarked at four o'clock,
and took the North side of the channel, though the
current was on that side much stronger, in order to
take a view of the river, which had been mentioned
to me in our passage downwards, as flowing from
the country of the Beaver Indians, and which fell
in hereabouts. We could not, however, discover
it, and it is probable that the account was referabji
to the river which we had passed on Tuesday. The
current was very strong, and we crossed over to an
island opposite to us ; here it was still more impe*
tuous, and assumed the hurry of a rapid. We found
an awl and a paddle on the side of the water; the
former we knew to belong to the Knisteneaux : I
supposed it to be the chief Merde-d'our's and h^
party, who went to war last spring, and had taken
this route on their returnto Athabasca. Nor is it improbable that they may have been the cause that we
saw so few of the natives on the banks of this river.
The weather was raw and cloudy, and formed a
very unpleasant contrast to the warm, sunny days,
which immediately preceded it. We took up our
abode for the night at half past seven, on the Northern shore, where the adjacent country is both 1pm NOttTH-WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA. 105
and flaHI   The Indians killed five young swans,
and a beaver.    There was an appearance of rain.
Friday, 21. The weather was cold, with a
strong Easterly wind and frequent showers, so that
we were detained in our station. In the afternoon
the Indians got on the track of a moose-deer, but
were not so fortunate as to overtake it.
Saturday, 22. xhe wind veered round to the
Westward, and continued to blow strong and cold.
We, however, renewed our voyage, and in three
hours reached the entrance of the Slave Lake, under half sail; with the paddle, it would have taken
us at least eight hours. The Indians did not arrive till four hours after us; but the wind was so
violent, that it was not expedient to venture into
the lake ; we therefore set a net, and encamped for
the night. The women gathered large quantities
of the fruit already mentioned, called Pathagome-
nan, and cranberries, crowberries, mooseberries,
&c. The Indians killed two swans and three
Sunday, 23. The net produced but five small
pike, and at five we embarked, and entered the
lake by the same channel through which we had
passed from it. The South-West side would have
been the shortest, but we were not certain of there
being plenty of fish along the coast, and we were
sure of finding abundance of them in the course we
preferred. Besides, I expected to find my people
at the place where I left them, as they had received
orders to remain there till the fall.
We paddled a long way into a deep bay to get
the wind, and having left our mast behind us, wre
landed to cut another. We then hoisted sail, and
were driven on at a great rate. At twelve the
wind and swell were augmented to such a degree,
that our under yard broke, but luckily the mast
thwart resisted, till we had time to fasten down the M
it. IF
, \
1 ■'
yard with a pole, without lowd^ng sail. We took
in a large quantity of water, and had our mast
given way, in all probability, we should have filled
and sunk. Our course continued to be very dangerous, along a flat lee-shore, without being able
to land till three in the afternoon. Two men were
continuallyemployed in bailing out the water which
we took in on all sides. We fortunately doubled
a point that screened us from the wind and swell,
ajid encamped for the night, in order to wait for
our Indians. We then set our nets, made a yard
and mast, and gummed the canoe. On visiting
the nets, we found six white fish, aud two pike.
The women gathered cranberries and crowberries
in great plenty; and as the night came on, the
weather became more moderate.
Monday, 24. Our nets this morning produced
fourteen white fish, ten pikes, and a couple, of
trouts. At five we embarked with a light breeze
from the South, when we hoisted sail, and proceeded slowly, as our Indians had not come up
with us. At eleven we went on shore to prepare
the kettle, and dry the nets ; at one we were agaia
on the water. At four in the afternoon, we perceived a large canoe with a sail, and two small
ones a-head; we soon came up with them, when
they proved to be M. Le Roux and an Indian, with
his family, who were on a hunting party, and had
been out twenty-five days. It was his intention to
have gone as far as the river, to leave a letter for
me, to inform me of his situation. He had seen
no more Indians where I had left him; but had
made a voyage to Lac la Marte, where he met
eighteen small canoes of the Slave Indians, from
whom he obtained five packs of skins, which were
principally those of the inarten. There were four
Beaver Indians among them, who had bartered the
greatest part of the above mentioned articles wiift NORTH-WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.   107
them, before his arrival. They informed him
that their relations had more skins, but that they
were afraid to venture with them, though they
had been informed that people were to come with
goods to barter for them. He gave these people a
pair of ice chisels each, and other articles, and
sent them away to conduct their friends to the
Slave Lake, where he was to remain during the
succeeding winter.
We set three nets, and in a short time caught
twenty fish of different kinds. In the dusk of the
evening, the English chief arrived with a most
pitiful account that he had like to have been drowned in trying to follow us; and that the other men
had also a very narrow escape. Their canoe, he
said, had broken on the swell, at some distance
from the shore, but as it was flat, they had with
his assistance been able to save themselves. He
added, that he left them lamenting, lest they
should not overtake me, if I did not wait for them;
he also expressed his apprehensions that they
would not be able to repair their canoe. This
evening I gave my men some rum to cheer them
after their fatigues.
Tuesday, 25. We rose this morning at a late
hour, when we visited the nets, which produced
but few fish: my people, indeed, partook of the
stores of M. Le Roux. At eleven, the young
Indians arrived, and reproached me for having left
them so far behind. They had killed two swans,
and brought me one of them. The wind was
Southerly throughout the day, and too strong for
Us to depart, as we were at the foot of a grand traverse. At noon I had an observation, which gave
61. 29. North latitude. Such was the state of the
weather, that we could not visit our nets. In the
afternoon, the sky darkened, and there was lightening, accompanied with loud claps of thunder.
i i
:  ! i
The wind also veered round to the Westward, and
blew a hurricane.
Wednesday, 26. It rained throughout the night,
and till eight in the morning, without any alteration in the wind. The Indians went on a hunting
excursion, but returned altogether without success
in the evening. f|One of them was so unfortunate
as to miss a moose-deer. In the afternoon there
WTere heavy showers, with thunder, 8cc.
Thursday, 27. We embarked before four, and
hoisted sail. At nine we landed to dress victuals,
and wait for M. Le Roux and the Indians. At
eleven, we proceeded with fine and calm weather.
At four in the afternoon, a light breeze sprang up
to the Southward, to which we spread our sail, and
at half past five in the afternoon, went on shore
for the night. We then set our nets. The English chief and his people being quite exhausted
with fatigue, he this morning expressed his desire
to remain behind, in order to proceed to the country of the Beaver Indians, engaging at the same
time, that he would return to Athabasca in the
course of the winter.
Friday, 28. It blew very hard throughout the
night, and this morning, so that we found it a busU
ness of some difficulty to get to our nets; our trouble, however, was repaid by a considerable quantity of white fish, trout, &c. Towards the afternoon the wind increased. Two of the men who
had been gathering berries saw two moose-deer,
with the tracks of buffaloes and rein-deer. About
sun-set we heard two shots, and saw a fire on the
opposite side of the bay; we accordingly made a
large fire also, that our position might be determined. When we were all gone to bed, we heard the
report of a gun very near us, and in a very short
time the English chief presented himself drenched
with wet,   and in much apparent confusion in- NORTH-WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.  109
formed me that the canoe with his companions was
broken to pieces; and that they had lost their fowling pieces, and the flesh of a rein-deer, which they
had killed this morning. They were, he said, at
a very short distance from us; and at the same time
requested that fire might be sent to them, as they
were starving with cold. They and his women,
however, soon joined us, and were immediately
accommodated with dry clothes.
Saturday, 29. I sent the Indians on an hunting party, but they returned without success; and
they expressed their determination not to follow
me any further, from their apprehension of being
Sunday 30. We embarked at one this morning,
and took from the nets a large trout, and twenty
white fish. At sun-rise a smart aft breeze sprang
up, which wafted us to M. Le Roux's house by
two in the afternoon. It was late before he and
our Indians arrived; when, according to a promise
which I had made the latter, I gave them a plentiful equipment of iron ware, ammunition, tobacco,
&c. as a recompence for the toil and inconvenience
they had sustained with me.
I proposed to the English chief to proceed to
the country of the Beaver Indians, and bring them
to dispose of their peltries to M, Le Roux, whom
I intended to leave there the ensuing; winter. He
had already engaged to be at Athabasca, in the
month of March next, with plenty of furs.
Monday, 31. I sat up all night to make the necessary arrangements for the embarkation of this
morning, and to prepare instructions for M. Le
Roux. We obtained some provisions, here, and
parted from him at five, with fine calm weather.
It soon, however, became necessary to land on a
small island, to stop the leakage.of the canoe, which
had been occasioned bv the shot of an arrow under ■ft*
j i'
the water mark, by some Indian children. While this
business was proceeding, we took the opportunity
of dressing some fish. At twelve, the wind sprang
up from the South-East, which was in the teeth of
our direction, so that our progress was greatly impeded. I had an observation, which gave 62. 15.
North latitude. We landed at seven in the evening, and pitched our tents.
Tuesday, 1. We continued our voyage at five
in the morning, the weather calm and fine, and
passed the Isle a la Cache about twelve, but could
not perceive the land, which was seen in our former passage. On passing the Carreboeuf Islands,
at five in the afternoon, we saw land to the South by
West, which we thought was the opposite side of
the lake, stretching away to a great distance. We
landed at half past six in the evening, when there
was thunder, and an appearance of change in the
Wednesday, 2. It rained and blew hard the latter part of the night. At half past five the rain subsided, when we made a traverse of twelve miles,
and took in a good deal of water. At twelve it
became calm, when I had an observation, which
gave 61. 56. North latitude. At three in the afternoon, there was a slight breeze from the Westward
which soon increased, when we hoisted sail, and
took a traverse of twenty-four miles, for the point
of the old Fort, where we arrived at seven, and
stopped for the night. This traverse shortened
our way three leagues ; indeed we did not expect
to have cleared the lake in such a short time.
Thursday, 3. It blew with great violence
throughout the night, and at four in the morning,
we embarked, when we did not make more than
five miles in three hours, without stopping; notwithstanding we were sheltered from the swell by
a long bank.    We now entered the small river,
where the wind could have no effect upon us.
There were frequent showers in the course of the
day, and we encamped at six in the evening.
Friday, 4. The morning was dark and cloudy,
nevertheless we embarked at five; but at ten it
cleared up. We saw a few fowl, and at seven in
the evening, went on shore for the night.
Saturday, 5. The weather continued to be
cloudy. At five we proceeded, and at eight it began to rain very hard. In about half an hour we
put to shore, and were detained for the remaining
part of the day.
Sunday, 6. It rained throughout the night,
with a strong North wind. Numerous flocks of
wrild fowl passed to the Southward; at six in the
afternoon, the rain, in some measure, subsided,
and we embarked, but it soon returned with renewed violence; we, nevertheless took the advantage of an aft wind, though it cost us a complete
drenching. The hunters killed seven geese, and
we pitched our tents at half past six in the events- f -        ■ i        I
Monday, 7. We were on the water at five this
morning, with a head wind, accompanied by successive showers. At three in the afternoon, we
ran tne canoe on a stump, and it filled with water
before she could be got to land. Two hours were
employed in repairing her, and at seven in the
evening, we took our station for the night.
Tuesday, 8. We renewed our voyage at half past
four in a thick mist which lasted till nine, when it
cleared away, and fine weather succeeded. At
three in the afternoon we came to the first carrying-place, Portage des Noyes, and encamped at
the upper end of it to dry our clothes, some of
which were almost rotten.
Wednesday, 9. We embarked at five in the
morning, and our canoe was damaged on the mens'
shoulders, who were bearing it over the carrying-
■ f.:-./i
place, called Portage du Chetique. The guide
repaired her, however, while the other men were
employed in carrying the baggage. The canoe was
gummed at the carrying-place named the Portage
de la Montague. After having passed the carrying-places, we encamped at the Dog River, at half
past four in the afternoon, in a state of great fatigue.
The canoe was again gummed, and paddles were
made to replace those that had been broken in ascending the rapids. A swan was the only animal
we killed throughout the day.
Thursday, 10. There was rain and violent wind
during the night: in the morning the former subsided and the later increased. At half past five
we continued our course with a North-Westerly
wind. At seven we hoisted sail: in the forenoon
there were frequent showers of rain and hail, and
in the afternoon two showers of snow : the wind
was at this time very strong, and at six in the
evening we landed at a lodge of Knisteneaux, consisting of three men and five women and children.
They were on their return from war, and one of
them was very sick : they separated from the rest
of their party in the enemy's country, from absolute
hunger. After this separation, they met with a
family of the hostile tribe, whom they destroyed.
They were entirely ignorant of the fate of their
friends, but imagined that they had returned to the
Peace River, or had perished for want of food. I
gave medicine to the sick*, and a small portion of
* This man had conceived an idea, that the people with whom he
had been at war, had thrown medicine at him, which had caused his present complaint, and that he despaired of recovery. The natives are so
superstitious, that this idea alone was sufficient to kill him. Of. this weakness I took advantage ; and assured him, that if he would never more go
to war with such poor defenceless people, I would cure him. To this
proposition he readily consented, and on my giving him medicine, which
consisted of Turlington's balsam, mixed in water, I declared that it
would lose its effect, if he was not sincere in the promise that he
made me. In short, he actually recovered, was true to his engagements,
and on all occasions manifested his gratitude to me. NORTH-WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.
ammunition to the**healthy; which, indeed, they
very much wanted, as they had entirely lived for
the last six months on the produce of their bows and
arrows. They appeared to have been great sufferers by their expedition.
Friday, 11. It froze hard during the night,
and was very cold throughout the day, with an
appearance of snow. We embarked at half past
four in the morning, and continued our course till
six in the evening, when we landed for the night at
our encampment of the third of June.
Saturday, 12. The weather was cloudy, and
also very cold. At eight, we embarked with a
North-East wind, and entered the*Lake of the
Hills. About ten, the wind veered to the Westward, and was as strong as we could bear it with
the high sail, so that we arrived at Chepewyan
fort by three o'clock in the afternoon, where we
found Mr. Macleod, with five men busily employed in building a new house. Here, then, we concluded this voyage, which had occupied the considerable space of one hundred and two days. I Ni
: lilt  '
s .
I mmm.
'•"""Jnea —*•


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



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


Related Items