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Voyages from Montreal, on the river St. Laurence, through the continent of North America, to the frozen… Mackenzie, Alexander, 1764-1820 1802

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Array M?i§l
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^Hssl W^mWm''--M
Librairie Americaine et Coloniale,
17 Quai des Grarids-Augustins,
nt   ^
Gift from the estate of
Henry Genie Ward  VOYAGES
Continent of North America, etc  .-'■; V O YAGES . -'f
,    '        '    . / FROM ||. :.    If ■
In the Years lySgand 1793/
OF THAT COUNTRY;     ,|| "■    . |§
With ordinal .Notes and an Appendix by Bougainville^
Member of the Trench Senate;
VOL. 1
in   \ —   \-      1   1.11«
m ./    PREFACE -Mn
^N prefenting this Volume to my Country,
it is not neceflary to enter into a particular
account of thofe voyages whofe journals form
the principal part of it, as they will be found
I truil:, to explain themfelves. It appears,
however, to be a duty, which the Public
have a right to expeft from me, to ftate the
reafons which have influenced me in delaying
the publication of them.
It has been aflerted, that a mifunderftan-
ding between a perfon high in office and
myfelf, was the caufe of this procraftination.
It has alfo been propagated, that it was occa-
iioned by that precaution which the policy
of commerce will fometimes fuggeft; but
they are both equally devoid of foundation.
The one is an idle tale ; and there could be
no folid reafon for concealing the circumftan-
ces of difcoveries, whole arrangements and
profocution were fo honourable to my aflbciates and myfelf, at whofe expence they
Were undertaken. The delay adtually arofo
from the very active and buly mode of life
in which I was engaged  fince the voyages
have K
have been completed ; and when, at length,
the opportunity arrived, the apprehcnfion of
prefenting myfelf to the Public in the cha-
rafter of an Author, for which the courfe and
occupations of my life have by no means
qualified me, made me hcfitate pi committing my papers to the Prefs; being much
better calculated to perform the voyages, arduous as they might be, than to write an
account of them. However, they are now
offered to the Public with the fubmiflion that
becomes me.
I was led, at an early period of life, by
commercial views, to the country North-
Weft of Lake Superior, in North America,
and being endowed by Nature with an in-
quifitive mind and enterprifing fpirit; pof-
fefting alfo a constitution and frame of body
equal to the moft arduous undertakings, and
being familiar with toilfome exertions in the
profecution of mercantile purfuits, I not only
contemplated the practicability of penetrating
acrofs the continent of ^America, but was
confident in the qualifications, as I was animated by the defire, to undertake the perilous
ThQ general utility of fuch a difcovery, has
been PREFACE. ix
been univerfally acknowledged; while the
wiflies of my particular friends and commercial aflbciates, that I fhould proceed in the
purfuit of it, contributed to quicken the execution of this favourite projeft of my own
ambition : and as the completion of it extends
the boundaries of geographic fcience, and
adds new countries to the realms of Britifli
commerce, the dangers I have encountered,
and the toils I have fiifFered, have found their
recompence ; nor will the many tedious and
weary days, or the gloomy and inclement
nights which I have pafled, have been pafled
ki vain. i$bf:   .   •>§■;     %,.
The firft voyage has fettled the dubious
point of a pradticable North-Weft paffage ;
and I truft, tfeat it has fet that long agitated
queftion at reft, and ex||nguifhed the difputes
refpe&ing it for ever. An enlarged difcuf-
fion of that fubjeft will be found to occupy
the concluding pages of thisyolume.
In this voyage, I was not only without the
neceflary books and inftruments, but alfo felt
myfelf deficient in the fciences of aftronomy
and navigation : I did not hefitate, therefore,
to undertake a winter's voyage to this country,
in order to procure the one and acquire the
B other "«lMgf ,
other. Thefe obje£ts being accomplifhed, I
returned, to determine the practicability of
a commercial communication through the
continent of North America, between the
Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, which is proved
by my fecond journal. Nor do I foefitate to
declare my decided opinion, that very great
and effential advantages may be derived by
extending our trade from one fea to the other*
Some account of the fur trade of Canada
from that country, of the native inhabitants,
and of the extenfive diftri&s connected with
it, forms a preliminary difcourfe, which will,
I truft, prove interefting to a nation whofe
general policy is blended with, and whofe
profperity is* fupported by, the purfuits of
commerce. It will alfo qualify the reader
to purfue the fucceeding voyages with fupe-
rior intelligence and fatisfa&ion.
Thefe voyages will not, I fear, afford the
variety that may be expedted from them ;
and that which they offered to the eye, is
not of a nature to be effedtually transferred
to the page. Mountains and vallies, the
dreary wafte, and wide-fpreading forefts, the
lakes and rivers fucceed each other in general defcription; and, except on the coafts
•f - - >! ' of .     ^.      •    PREFACE.    ■    '  . ^jflxi
of the Pacific Ocean, where the villages were
permanent, and the inhabitants in a great
meaiure ftationary, fmall bands of wandering
Indians are the only people whom I fhall introduce to the acquaintance of my readers.
The beaver and the bufialo, the mo6fe-de£jr
and the elk, which are the principal animals
to be found in thefe countries, are already
fo familiar to the naturalifts of Europe, and
have been fo often as well as correctly defcribed in their works, that the bare mention of them, as they enlivened the landfcape,
or were hunted for food ; with a curfory
account of *the foil, the courfe and navigation
of lakes and rivers, and their various produce,
is all that can be reafonably expected from
me. ,.v ..-/ .-;■' ,>'£•-.r&Kp.'.' -'-^te.*   .•'; *•- *
I do not poflefs the fcience of the naturalift;
and even if the qualifications of that character
had been attained by me, its curious fpirit
would not have been gratified. I could not
flop to dig into the earth, over whofe furface I was compelled to pafs with rapid fteps ;
nor could I turn afide to collect the plants
which nature might have fcattered on the
way, when my thoughts were anxioufly employed in making provifion for the day that
B W.       1      ¥    . £lf
was paffing ovei|me. #1 had to encounter perils by land and perils by water ; to watch tl%
favage who was our guide, or to guard agakift
thofe of his tribe who might medtate bur
deftru&ion.    I had,  alfo,   therfpaflions and
fears of other to  control  and fubdue.f To
day I had to afluage the rifing difcontents,
and on the morrow to cheer the fainting fpi-
rits, of the people who accompanied me. The
toil of our navigation was inceflant, and oftentimes extreme ; and in our progrefs over
land we had no protection from the feverity
of the elements, and poflefled no accommodations or conveniences but fuch as could be
contained in the Burden on our  flioulders,
which aggravated the toils of our march, and
added to the wearifomenefs of our way.   ^fc
Though the events which compofe  my
journals  may  have little in themfelves to
ftrike the imagination of thofe who love to
be aAonifhed, or to gratify the curiofity of
fiich as are enamoured of romantic adventures ; neverthelefs, when it is confidered that
I explored thofe waters which had never
before borne any other veflel than the canoe
of the favage ; and traverfed thofe deferts
where an European had never before prefented PREFACE. x*it
iented himfelf to the eye of its fwarthy natives ; when to thefe confiderations are added
the important objeCts which were purfued,
with the dangers that were encountered, and
the difficulties that were furmomited to attain them, this work will, I flatter myfelf,
be found to excite an intereft, and conciliate
regard, in the minds of thofe who perufe it.
The general map which illuftrates this volume, is reduced by Mr. Axrowfmith from
his three-fheet map of North-America, with
the lateft difcoveries, which he is about
to r%publifh.7 His profeflional abilkes are
well known, and no encomium of mine will
advance the general and merited opinion of
them.    > ^       ;       >       : n »
. Before I conclude, I muft beg leave to inform my readers, that they are not to expeCt
the charms of embellifhed narrative, or animated defcription ; the approbation duel to
fimplicity and to truth is all I prefume to
claim ; and I am not without the hope that
this claim will be allowed me. I have defcribed whatever I faw with the impreffions
of the moment which prefented it to me.
The fiicceflive circumftances of my progrefs
are related without exaggeration or difplay. ">jf» . =
I have feJHom allowed myfelf to wander
into conjecture ; and whenever conjecture
has been indulged, it will be found, I truft,
to be accompanied with the temper of a
man who is not difpofed to think too highly
of himfelf: and if at any time I have delivered myfelf with confidence, it will appear,
I hope, to be on thofe fubjeCts which, from
the habits and experience of my life, will
juftify an unreferved communication, of my
opinions. I am not a candidate for literary
fame : at the fame time, I cannot but
indulge the hope that this volume, %vith
all its imperfections, will not be thought
unworthy the attention of the fcientific geographer ; and that, by unfolding countries
hitherto unexplored, and which, I preiume,
may now be confidered as a part of the
Britifh dominions, it will be received as
a faithful tribute to the profperity of my
country.    •  T   :'!:S ■   : n; -
November 5o, 1801. f
ftp* i
X he fur trade, from the earlieft fettlement of
Canada, was confidered of the firft importance to
that colony.    The country was^theK fo populous,
that, in the vicinity of the eftablifhments, the animals whofe fkins were precious, in a commercial
view, foon became very fcarce, if not altogether
extinft.    They were, it is true, hunted at former
periods,but merely for food and clothing.    The
Indians, therefore, to procure the neceflary fupply,
were encouraged to penetrate into the country, and
were generally accompanied by fome of the Cana«
dians, who found means to induce the remoteft
tribes of natives to bring the fkins which were
moft in demand, to their fettlements., in the way
of trade.
It is not neceffary for me to examine the caufe,
but m
but experience proves that it requires much lefs
time for a civilized people to deviate into the makr
ners and cuftoms of favage life, than for favages to
rife into a ftate of civilization. Such was the
event with thofe who thus accompanied the natives
on their hunting and trading excurfions ; for they
became fo attached to the Indian mode of life, that
they loft all rdSfh for their former habits and native homes. Hence they derived the title of Con-
reurs des Bois, became a kind of pedlars, and were
extremely ufeful to the merchants engaged in the
fur trade ; who gave them the neceflary credit to
proceed on their commercial undertakings. Three
or four of thefe people would join their ftock, put
their property into a birch-bark canoe, which they
worked themfelves, and either accompanied the
natives in their excurfions, or went at once to the
country where they knew they were to hunt. An
length, thefe voyages extended to twelve or fifteen
months, when they returned with rich cargoes of
furs, and followed by great numbers of the natives.
Dunng the fhort tjpie requisite to fettle their accounts with the merchants, and procure frefh credit, they generally contrived to fquander away all
their gains, when th*y returned to renew their
favourite mode of life : their views being anfwered,
and their labour fufficiently rewarded, by indulging
themfelves in extravagance and diflipation during
the fhort fpace of one month in twelve or fifteen.
*This I OF THE FUR TRADE, &c. 3
This indifference about amafling property, and
the pleafure of living free from all reftraint, foon
brought on a licentioufnefs of manners which could
not long efcaj&bthe vigilant obfervation of the miflionaries, who had much reafon to complain of
their being a difgrace to the Chriftian religion 5 by
not only fwerving from ]$s. duties themfelves, but
by thus bringing it into ditrepute with thofe of the
natives who had become converts to it; and, confequently, obftruCting the great objeCt to which
thofe pious men had devoted their lives. They,
therefore, exerted their influence to procure the
fupreflion of thefe people, and accordingly, ?no one
was allowed to go hp the country to traffic with the
Indians, without a licence from the government.
At firft thefe permiflions were, of courfe, granted only to thofe whofe charaC* erwas fuch as could
give no alarm to the zeal of the miflionaries : but
they were afterwards beftpwed as rewards for.^fer-
vices, on officers, and their widows;and they, who
were not willing or }able to make ufe of them,
(which may be fuppofed to be always the cafe with
thofe of the latter defcription) we allowed to fell
them to the merchants, who neceffarily employed
the Coureurs des bois, in quality of their agents;
ftfid thefe people, as may be imagined, gave sufficient caufe for the renewal of former complaints;
fo that the remedy proved, in fact, worfe ihan the
difeafe. '    t.   ' " ' '%,. 3E. 4^-J
i|£# W-       c      f{:  '    * -'; . ; At
: f
At length, military pofts were eftablifhed at the
confluence of the different large lakes of Canada,
which, in a great mSafure, checked the evil confe-
queftces that followed from the improper conduCt
of thefe forefters, and, at the fame time, protected
the tMie. Befidesi^a mimber of able and ref-
peCtable men retired tIqW the army, prosecuted
the trade in perfon under their^TPefpective licences, with great order atid regularity, and extended it to fuch a diffence, as, in thofe days,
was confidered to be an Aftonifhing effort of com-
metcial enterprize. ' ^friefe perfons and the mffiio-
naties having bombined their views at the fame
tirhe, fectired the refjffeCt of the nat?vfes, and the
obeflrence of the people'ritceflarily employe^ffin the
lafjorioQs parts of this undertaking. Thfefe gen-
tlenTferi denfjfnirtated thelmfefves commanders, and
not traders, though they were intiridd to borri thofe
characters i/attd, as for tt?e miffionarifes, ifftifierings
&nd hardfhips in the profeciltron ©ftfij^great work
^Which mey had undertaken, derfertf&tf&pplaure and
^admiration, they had' kn tmdoubted claim to be
'Mil jvJ       i-± JPs f      J^jf
Jiafnired and ^pratided: they fpare&Tkrlabotir and
avoided no danger in the execution of their impor-
tant office ; and it is to be ferioufry lamented, that
their pious endeavours did not meet with the fuc-
cels which they deferved : for there is hamlyatrace
to be found beyond the cultivated parts, of their
meritorious functions. IS *'     P
The I OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.        $
The caufe of this failure muft be attributed to a
want of due confider^tion in the mode employed
by the miflionaries to propagate $he religi^ of
which they were the zealous ministers. They
^bituated themfelves to t^rfavage life, and natu-
ralifed thenifelves to the favage mjanners, and, by
thus becoming dependant* as it were, on the na-
tives,they acquired their contemp%rather than tb&y:
veneration. Ifilhgy had Been as well acquainted
with human nature, as they wQ?e with the articles
of their §dth, th#y would have known* that tjae
uncultivated nj|nd of $ji Indian niyft be difpofed
hy much preparatory method and ^iftructioft' to
receive thej revealed truths of Qlriftianity, £o aCt
under its fanCtions* and be iiftpelJtot to good by
the hopfjigjf '#$ reward, or turned fftvm $yil &y the
fea* pf its punyhmenl£i They fhqi|td ha^e began
their work by teaching fogie of thofe ufeful arts
which are the inlets of knowledge, and lead tlifc
-Ulind by degrees to ohje$5 of higher coniprehen-
^0©n. Agr^culH$f$ fe formed tg.|ix and combine
fodiefty, and fo preparatory to obj^tf of fuperior
confideration, fhould have b§en |^e §|fl: thing introduced among a favage people f| it attacb|fc)$he
wandering tri>be to thatflpot where it adds fo rriuch
to their .Con^fejfjBs ; w|*ik it gives them a ffen!$-of
property, add of lafl$#g poffeffion, iafte^j. of the
uncertain hopeg. of the c|[afe, and the fugi$$ve pE$~
duce of ymcultivated. wilds.    Such were the meaias
C % } by
r- I
by which the forefts of Paraguay were converted
into a fcene of abundant cultivation, and its favage
inhabitants introduced to all the advantages of a
civilized life.
The Canadian miflionaries fhould have been
contented to improve the morals of their own
countrymen, fo that by meliorating their character
and conduCt, they would have given a ftriking
example of the effeCt of religion in promoting the
comforts of life to the furrounding favages ; and
might by degrees have extended its benign influence to the remoteft regions of that country,
whicii was the objeCt, and intended to be the fcene,
of their evangelic labours. But by bearing the
light of the Gofpel at once to the diftance of two
thoufand five hundred miles from the civilized part
of the colonies, it was foon obfcured by the cloud
of ignorance that darkened the human mind ia
thofe diftant regions.
The whole of their long route I have oftel travelled, and the recollection of fuch a people as the
miflionaries having been there, was confined to a
few fuperannuated Canadian^, who had not left that
country fince the ceflion to the Englifh, in 1763,
and who particulaly mentioned the death of fome*
and the diftrefling fituation of them all. But if
thefe religious men did not attain the objeCtsfof
their perfevering piety, they were, during their mif-
fion, of great fervice to the commanders who en-
I .^ gaged OF THE FUR TRADE, &c. 7
gaged in thofe diftant expeditions, and fpread the
fur trade as far Weft as the batiks of the Safkatchiwine river, in 53. North latitude, and longitude
102 Weft. ■.' :....NJ&N.!  —n;   ;;■'■■•'   ;
At an early period of thisSr intercourfe with the
lavages, a cuftora was introduced of a very excellent tendency, but is now unfortunately difconti-
nued, of not felling any fpifituous liquor to the
natives. This admirable regulation was for fome
-time obferved, with all the refpeCt due to the religion by which it was fanCtioned, and whofe fevereft
ceofures followed the violation of it. A painful
penance could alone reftore the offender to the fuf-
pended rites of the facrament. The cafuiftry of
trade, however, difcovered a way to gratify the Indians with their favourite cordial, without incurring the ecclefiaftical penalties, by giving, inftead
of felling it to them. '<•
But notwithftanding all the reftriCtions with
which commerce was opprefled under the French
government, the fur trade was extended to the im-
menfe diftance which has been already ftated; and
furmounted many moft difcouraging difficulties,
which will be hereafter noticed; while, at the fame
time, no exertions were made from Hudfon's Bay
to obtain even a fhare of the trade of a country
wliich, according to the charter of that company,
belonged to it, and,from its proximity, is fo much
more accelfible to the mercantile adventurer,
m        'l I I :   of * A GENERAL HISTORY >   &
j Of thefe trading commanders, I underftood, that
two attempted to penetrate to the Pacific Ocean,
but the utmoft extent of their journey I could never learn; which may be attributed, indeed, to a
failure of the undertaking.
For fome time after the conqueft of Canada,
this trade was fufpended, which muft have Been
very advantageous to the Hudfon's Bay Company
as all the inhabitants to the Weftward of Lake
Superior, were obliged to go to them for fuch ai>
tides as their habitual ufe h&d rendered neceflary.
Some of the Canadians who had lived long with
them, and were become attached to a favage lifij^
accompanied them thither annually, till mercantile
adventurers again appeared from their own country,
after an interval of feveral years, owing, as 1 fup-
pofe, to an ignorance of the country in the conquerors, and their want of commercial confidence
in the immenfe length of the journey neceflary to
reach the limits beyond which this commerce muft
begin; the rifk of property; the expences attending
fuch a long tranfport; and an ignorance of the
language of thofe who, from their experience, muft
be neceflarily employed as the intermediate agents
between them and the natives. But, notwithftand-
ing thefe difficulties, the trade, by degrees, began to
fpread over the different parts to whioji it had been
carried by the French, though at a great rifk of
the lives, as well as the property, of their new pof-
feflbr I
fcfl3^s,'for the natives had been taught by their
fcrmerfallies to -entertain hoftile difpofitions towards
the«ngliih, from their having been in alliance witfe
their natural enemies the Iroquois; and there were
not wanting a fufficfont nurft'Ber of difcontented,
difappointed people to keep alWe fuch a notion; Co
that for a long time they were confidered J&nd
treated as obj$<9[& of hoftihty. To prove JlMi
difpofition of the Indians, we have only to refet
to the conduCt of Pontiac, at Detroit, and the sutf*
prife and taking of MichiHtnakiaac, about tlfifr
period. ;        ■•■• ? ■    '■•'■   -" &|P^' *;■""< 7.*■»
Heiice it arofe, that it was fo late as the yeirs
1766, before which, the trade I mean to confid®^
commenced xrom Michilimakinac. The firft who
attempted it were fatisfied to go the length of the
River Cameniftiquia, about thirty miles to the
Eaftward of the Grand$ Portage, where the French
had a principal eftablifhment, zmd was the line of
thdr communication with the interior country. -1|fc
was once deftroye&fey fire. Here they went aril
retftfrHed fuccefifSl in the following fpring to Michilimakinac. Thfeir fuccefs indviced them to renew their journey, and incited others to follow
their example. Some of them remained at Came-
niftiquia, while others proceeded to and beyond
the Grande Portage, which, fince that time has
become the principal entrepdt of that trade, and is
fituated in a bay, in latitude 48. North, and lon-
?«' ■ " gitude
il I
gitude 90. Weft. After pafling the ufual feafon
there, they went back to Michilimakinac as befpre,
and encour^ed by the trade, returned in increafed
numbers. One ofjchefe, Thomas'Curry, witlioSi
fpirit of enter|^izg:if^perior to that of his contemporaries, determined to penetrate to the furtheft
limits of theiFrench difcdveries in that country;
or at leaft till the froft fhould flop him. For this
purpofe he procured guides and interpreters, who
were acquainted with the country, and with four
canoes arrived at Fort Bourbon, v^jh'ich was one of
their pofts, at the Weft end of the Cedar Lake,
on the waters of the Safkatchiwine. His rifk and
jtoil were well recompenfed, for he came back the
following fpring with his canoes filled with fine
furs, with which he proceeded to Canada, and
was fatisfied never again to return to the Indian
E^m{5h^§7per^odrpeople began to fpreaofover
^yery part of tfee country, particularly where tiffc
French had eftablilhed fettlements.^^S'c^ ^(H
^ffMr. James Finfey was the firft who follow^
Mr. Carry's example, and witlrljhe fame number
of canoes, arrived, in the courfe of the next feafon,
at Nipawee, the laft of the French .fettlements on
the bank of the Safkatchiwine River, in latitude
nearly 5^ North, and longitude 103 Weft : he
found the good fortune, as he followed, in every
refpeCt, the example, of his predeceflbr.      .$jjjtu .iB
As L
OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.    ,
As may be fuppofed, there were now people
enough ready to replace them, and the trade wa$
purfued with fuch avidity, and irregularity, that in
a few years it became the reverfe 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 themfelves or neighbours, the Hudfon's-Bay Company;
who. in the year 1774, and not till then, thought
proper to move from home to the Eaft bank of
Sturgeon Lake, in latitude $$* 56. Norch, and
longitude 102. 15. Weft, and became more
jealous of their fellow fubjeCts; and* perhaps,
with more caufe, than they had been of thofe of
France. From this period to the prefent time,
they have been following the Canadians to their
different e|lablifhments, while, on the contrary,
there is,not a folitary inftance that the Canadians
have followed them; and there are many tradings
pofts which they have not yet attained. Thkf
however, will no longer be a myftery when the nature and po|icy of the Hudfon's-Bay Company i$
compared with that whjjph has been purfued by their
rivals in this trade. — But to return to my fubjeCt.
Thisr £ompetition, which has been already mentioned, gave a fatal blow to the trade fnfm Canada, and, with other incidental caufes, in my opi^
nion, contributed to its ruin. This trade was
carried o$ in a very diftant country, out of the
D reach Ift
reach of legal reftraint, and where there waili free
fcope given to any ways or means in attaining advantage. The confequence was not only the lofs
of commercial benefit to the perfons engaged in it,
but of the good opinion of the natives, and the
refpeCt of their men, who were inclined to follow
their example; fo that with drinking, caroufing,
and quarrelling with the Indians along their route,
and among themfelves, they feldom reached their
winter quarters; and if they did, it was generally
by dragging their property upon fledges, as the
navigation was clofed up by the froft. When at
length they were arrived, the objeCt of each was
to injure his rival traders in the opinion of the natives as much as was in their power, by mifrepre-
fentation and prefents, for which the agents employed were peculiarly calculated. They confi-
dered the command of their employer as binding
on them, and however wrong or irregular the
tranfaCtion, the refponfibility refted with the principal who directed them. This is Indian law.
Thus did they wafte their credit and their property with the natives, till the firft was paft redemption, and the laft was nearly exhaufted ; fo
that towards the fpring in each year, thf rival parties
found it abfolutely neceflary to join, and make
one common ftock of what remained, for the purpofe of trading with the natives, who could entertain no refpeCt for perfons who had conducted
theinfelves OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.        13
themfelves with fo much irregularity and deceit.
The winter, therefore was one continued fcene of
difagreements and quarrels. If any one had the
precaution or good fenfe to keep clear of thefe
proceedings, he derived a proportionable adv^ptage
from his good conduCt, and frequently proved a
peace-maker between the parties. To fuch an
height had they carried this licentious conduCt,
that they were in a continual ftate of alarm, and
were even frequently flopped to pay tribute on
tjheir 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 fometimcg^ indeed, proved necef-
fary for their defence.;     .
Thus was the trade car^d on for feveral years,
and confequently becoming worfe, and worfe, fo that
the partners, who met t|hem at the Grande Portage,
naturally complained of their ill fuccefs. But fpe-
cious reafop, were always ready to prove that it
arofe from circumftances which they could not at
that tim%contPQl; and encouragements were held
forth to hope^that a change would foon take place,
which would make ample amends for paft difap-
1>3Jt was about this time, that Mr. Jofeph Rro-
bifher, one of the gentlemen engaged in the trade,
determined to penetrate into the country yet unexplored, to the North and Weftward, and, in the
1 D 2 If fpring I
14.  '     M GENERAL HISTORY   |
fpring of the year 177^, uiet the Indians^from that
quarter on their way to Fort Churchill,' at Portage
de Traite, fo named from that cinMimftance on the
banks of the Miflinipi, or Churchill River, latitude 55. 25. North, longitude io3|0Weft. It
was, indeed, with fome difficulty that he could
induce them to trade with him, but he at length
procured as many furs as lis canoes could carry.
In this perilous expedition he fuftained every kind
dfh#d(hip incident to a journey through a wild
and favage country, where his fubfiftence depended
on what the woods and the waterk produced.
Thefe difficulties, neverthelefs, did lot difcourage
him from returning in the following year, when
he was equally fuccefsful. He then fent his brother to explore the country ftill furtler Weft, who
penetrated as far as the lake of Ifle a la Croffe, in
latitude $$. 26. North, and longitude 108 Weft.
He, however, never after wintered among the
Indians, though he retained a large intereft in the
trade, and a principal fhare in th# direction of it
till the ylar 1798, when he retired to enjoy the
fruits of his labours j and, by his hofpitality, became
known to every reipeCtable ftranger who vifited
The fuccefs of this gentleman induced others to
follow hife example, and in the fpring of the year
1778, fome of the traders on tfee Safkatchiwine
River, finding they had a quantity of goods to
fpare, OF THE FUR TRADE, &c. "\   15
fpare, agreed to put them into a joint ftock, and
gave the charge and management of them to Mr.
Peter Pond, who, in four canoes, was direfted to
emgfthe Engllfti River, fb titled by Mr. Frobiiher,
to follow his track, and proceed ftill further ; W.'
poflible, to Athabafca, a country hitherto unknown
but from Indian report. In this enffarprife he at length
fucceeded, and pitched his tent on the banks of
the Elk River, by him erroneoufly called the Athabafca River, about forfjr miles from the Lake of
the Hills, into which it empties itfelf.
Here he pafled the winter of 1778-9; faw a
vaft concourfe of the Knifteneaufc and Chepewyan
tribes, who ufed to carry their furs annually to
Churchill; the latter by the barren grounds, where
they fuffered innumerable hardfhips, and were
fometimes even ftarved to death. The former fol*
lowed the courfe of the lakes and rivers, through a
country that abounded in animal^ and where
there was plenty of fith : but though they did not
fuffer from want of food, the intolerable fatigue of
fuch a journey could not be eafily repaid to an
Indian : they were therefore highly gratified by
feeing people come to thtSr country to relieve them
frofn fuch long, toilfome, and dangerous journies ;
&nd were immediately reconciled to give an advanced price for the articles neceflary to their comfort and convergence. Mr. Pond's reception and"
fuccefs was accordingly beyond his expectation ;
and I        A GENERAL HISTORY ,;||
and he procured twice as many furs as his canoes
would carry. §They, alfo fupplied him with as
much provision as he required during his refidence
among them, and Jufficient for his homeward
voyage. Such of the furs as he could not embark,
he fecured in one of his winter huts, and they were
found the following feafon, in the fame ftate ig
which he left them.
Thefe, however, were but partial, advantages,
and could not prevent the people of Canada fron|f
feeing the improper conduCt of fome of their af-
fociates, which rendered it dangerous to remain any
longer among the natives. Moft of them who
pafled the winter at the Safkatchiwine, got to the
Eagle hills, where, in the fpring of the year 1780,
a few days previous to their intended departure,
a large band of Indians being engaged in drinking
about their houfes, one of the traders, to eafe himfelf of the troublefome importunities of a native,
gave him a dofe of laudanum in a glafs of grog,
which effectually prevented him from giving further trouble to any one, by fetting him afleep for
ever. This accident produced a fray, in which
one of the traders, and feveral of the men, were
killed, while |he reft had no other means to fave
themfelves but by a precipitate flight, abandoning
a considerable quantity of goods,^and neaj half
the furs which they had collected during the winter and the fpring.
Aboufc OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.        17
About the fame time, two of the eftablifhments
on the Afliniboin river, were attacked with lefs juf-
tice, when feveral white men, and a greater number
of Indians were killed. In fhort, it appeared,
that the natives had formed a refolution to extilk
pate the traders; and, without entering into any
further reafonings on the fubjeCt, it appears to be
incontrovertible, that the irregularity purfued in
carrying on the trade has brought it into its prefent
forlorn fituation; and nothing but the greateft ca-
lami^that could have befallen the natives faved
the traders from deftruCtion : this was the fmall
pox, which fpread its deftruCtive and defolating
power, as the fire conftttnes the dry grais of the
field. The fatal infection fpread around with a
baneful rapidity which no flight could efcape, and
with a fatal effeCt that nothing could refift. It d&-
ftroyed with its peftilential breath whole families
andUribes; and the horrid fcene prefented to thofe
who had the melancholy and afflicting opportunity
of beholding it, a combination of the dead, the
dying, and fuch as to avoid the hoftid fate of
their friends around them, prepared to difappoint
the plague of itsfrprey, by terminating their own
J| The habits and lives of thefe devoted people,
which provided not to-day for the wants of to-morrow, muft have heightened the pains of fuch an
affliction, by leaving them not only without remedy,
but r;
: ;
but even without alleviation.    Nought was left
them but to fubmit in agony and defpair.
To aggravate the picture, if aggravation were
poflible, may be added, the putrid carcafe| which
Jjhe wojyes, wjjth a furious voracity, dragged forth
from the huts, or which were mangled within
them by the dogs, whofe hunger was fatisfied
with the disfigured remains of their mafters. Nor
was it uncommon for the father of a family,
whom the infection had not reached, to call therfi
around him, to reprefent the cruel fufferings and
horrid fate of their relations, |om the influence
of fome ev^ji fpirit who was preparing to extirpate
their race ; and to incite them to baffle death,
with all its horrors, by their own poniards. At
the fame time, if their hearts failed them in this
neceffary aCt, he was himfelf ready to perform the
deed of mercy with his own hanrf, as the laft
aCt of his aff|gtion, and inftantly to follow them
to the common place of reft and refuge from
human evil.
It was never fatisfaCtorily afcertained by what
means this malignant diforder was introduced, but
it was generally fuppofed to be from the Miflifouri,
by a war party.
The confequence of tl% melancholy event to
the traders muft be felf-evident ; the means of
difpofing of their goods were cut off;   and no
furs were o&fkined, but lush as.had been gathered OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.        19
red from the habitations of the deceafed Indians,
which could not be very considerable : nor did
they look from the lofles of the present year,
with any encouraging expectations tO|$hofe which
were to come. The only fortunate people confifted of a party who had again penetrated to the
Northward and Weftward in 1780, at fom$ diftance ug|jhe Miflinipi, or Englifh River, to Lake
la Rouge. Two unfortunate circumftances, howe-,
ver, happened to them ; which are as follow.
Mr. Wadin, a Swifs gentleman, of ftriCt probity
and known fobriety, had gone there in the year
1779, and remained during the fummer 1780.
His partners and others, engaged in an oppofite
intereft, ghen at the Grande portage, agreed to
fend a quantity of goods on their joint account,
which was accepted, and Mr. Pond was propofed
by them to be their reprefentative to aCt in conjunction with Mr. Wadin. Two men, of more
oppofite characters, could not, perhaps, have been
found. In fhort from^yarious caufes, their fituation became very uncomfortable to each other,
and mutual ill-will was the natural confequence :
without entering, therefore, into a minute hiftbry
of thefe transactions, it will be fufficient to ob—
ferve, tfet^about tj$g-f .end of the year 1780, or
the beginning of the year 1781, Mr. Wadin had
received Mr. Pond and one of his own clerks to
dinner ; and, in the courfe of the night, the for-
mer was fhot through the lower paft ofthe thiglv
when it was faid that he expired from the lofs
of blood, and was buried next morning at eigt|e
4'clock. Mr. Pond, and the clerk, were tried
for this murder at Montreal, and acquitted : neverthelefs, their innocence was not fo apparent as to
extinguifh the original fufpicion. ■'-"''':;-.: '■*¥]
The other circumftance was this. In the fpring
of the year, Mr. Pond fent the abovementioned
clerk to meet the Indians from the Northward/
who ufed to go annually to Hudfon's Bay; when
he eafily perfuaded them to trade with him, and
return back, that they might not take the contagion which had depopulated the country to the
Eaftward of them: but moft unfortunately they
Caught it here, arid carried it with themp^tf
the deftruction of themfelves and fhe neighbouring tribes.
The country being thus depopulated, the traders
and their friends from Canada, who, from various
caufes already rrfentioned, were very much reduced
in number, became confined to two parties, who
began fenoufly to think of making permanent!!
eftablifhments on the Mntfftipi river, and at Atha-
baie'a; for which purpofe, 1781-2, they felederl
their heft canoe-men, beingignorant that the fmall
pox penetrated that way^Trie? moft expeditious
party got only in time to the Portage la Loche, or
.IfflftQfiOuim'gam, whicri divides the waters of the
,:"*f ■        -IP Miflinipi OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.        s*
tyBffinipi from thofe that fall into ths Elk river, to
difpatch one canoe ftrong handed, and light -
loaded, to thafc ,qountry; but, on their arrival
there, they^ojjnd, in every direction, the ravages
of the fmall pox $ fo that, from the great diminution of thq:/natives, they returned in th# fpring
witlypo moreutnan feven packages of beaver. The
ftrong woods and Jjiountainous countries afforded
a refuge to thofe who fled from the contagion of
the plain^ bujt they were fo alarmed at the fur-
rounjling deftruCtion, that they avoided the traders, and were difpirited from hunting except for
their fubfiftenee. The traders, however, who returned intc*< the country in the year 1782-3, found
$ie inhabitants in fome fort of tranquility, and
more numerous than they had reafon to expeCt, fo
that their fuccefs was proportionably better.
During the, winter of 178^-4, the merchants
of Canada, engaged in this trade, formed a junction
of interefts, under the nanie of the North-Weft
Company, and divided it into fixteen fhares, with-
ou%depo§ting any capkal; each party fqrnifhing
a proportion, or quota of fuch articles as were neceflary to$ftfjy on the trade : the respective parties
agreeing to fifftrfy the friends they had in the
country, w%) were not provided for, according
to this agreement, out of the proportions which
they held. The management of the whole was
accordingly entrufted to Meffrs. Benjamin and
Mtitf' E % Jofeph ' ill
Jofeph Frobifher, and Mr. Simon M'Tavifh, two
diftinCt houfes, who had the greateft intereft and
influence in the country, and for which they were
to receive  a  ftipulated commiflion in all tran-
In the fpring, two of thofe gentlemen went
to the Grande Portage withr thei?lfcredentials,
which were confirmed and ratified by all the parties having an option, except Mr. Peter Pond,
who was not fatisfied with the fhare allotted him.
Accordingly he, and another gentleman, Mr. Peter
Pangman,who had a right to be a partner, but for
whom no provifion had been made, eStme to
Canada, with a determination to return to the
country, if they could find any perfons to join
them, and give their fcheme a proper fupport.
The traders in the country, and merchants at
Montreal,1 thus entered into a co - partnerfhip,
which, by thefe means, was confolidated and directed by able men, who, from the powers with
which they were entrufted, could carry on the
trade to the utmoft extent it would bear. The
traders in the country, therefore, having every reafon
to expeCt that their paft and future labours would
be recompenfed, forgot all their former animofi-
ties, engaged with the utmoft fpirit and activity,
to forward the general intereft ; fo that, in the
following year, they met their agents-at the Grande
Portage, with theirlfcanoes laden with rich furs
from [I! ,   OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.        23
from the different parts of that immenfe tract
of country. But this fatisfaction was f not to be
enjoyed without fome interruption; and they were
mortified to find that Mr. Pangman had prevailed
on Meflrs. Gregory and Macleod to join him, and
give him their fupport in the bufinefs, though
deferted by Mr. Pond, who accepted the terms
offered by his former aflbciates.
In the counting houfe of Mr. Gregory I had
been five years; and at this period had left him,
with a fmall adventure of goods, with which he
had entrufted me, to feek my fortune at Detroit.
He, without any felicitation on my part, had procured an infertion in the agreement, that I (hould
be admitted a partner in this bufinefs,on condition
that I would proceed to the Indian country in
the following fpring, 1785. His partner came
to Detroit to make me fuch a propofition. I
readily aflented to it, and immediately proceeded
to the Grande Portage, where I joined my aflbciates.
f|P We now found that independent of the natural difficulties of the undertaking, we fhould
have to encounter every other which they, who
were already in pofleffion of the trade of the country,
could throw in our way, and which their circumfiances enabled them to do. Nor did they doubt,
from their own fuperior experience, as well as that
of their clerks and men, with their local knowledge ?4   *      A GENERAL HISTORYf||
ledge of the country and its inhabitants, that tfrey
fhould foon compel us to leave the country to
them. The evej3£, however, did not juftify their
expectations; for, after the fevereft ftruggle ever
known in that part of the world, and fuffering
every oppreflion which a jealous and rival fpirit
could inftigate; after the murder of one of oy$
clerks, who received a bullet through his powdef
horn, in the execution of his duty, they were
compelled to allow us a fhare of the trade. As
we had already incurred a lofs, this union was, in
every refpeCt, a defirable event to us, and was concluded in the month of July 1787^; ■ • .',$tj
This commercial eftablifhment was now founded on a more solid bafis than any hitherto
known in the country ; and it not only contf*
nued in full force, vigour, and profperity, in [fpite
of all interference from Canada, but maintained
at leaft an equal fhare of advantage with the
Hudfon's-Bay Company, notwithfthanding the fu-j
periority of their local fituation. , The following
account of this felf-ereCted conjbern will manifeft
the caufe of its fuccefs.
... It aflumed the title of the North-Weft Company, and was no more fchan an affociation of
commercial men, agreeing among themfelves to
^arry on the fur trade, unconnected with anf
other bufinefe, though many of the parties engaged had extenfive concerns altogether foreign
***%* r   f    OF mm FUR TRADE, &c.        25
to it.>^ It may? be faid to have been fupported
iintirely upon credit ; for, whether the capital
belonged to the proprietor, or was borrowed, it
equally bore intereft, for which the affociation
was annually accountable. It confifted of twenty
fhares, unequally divided among the perfons concerned. Of thefe, a certain proportion was held
by the people who managed the bufinefs in Canada,
and were ftfled agents for the Company. Their
duty was to.:import the neceflary goods from
England, ftore them at their own expence at
Montreal, get them made up into the articles
fuked to the trade, pack and forward them, and
fupply the cafh that might be wanting for the
outfits ; for which they received, independent of the
pi'ofit on their fhffljes,^ commiflion on the amount
of the accounts, which they were obliged to make
out||nnually, and keep the adventure of each year
diftinCt. Two of them went annually to the Grande
Portage, to manage and tranfact the bufinefs there,
and rifr the communication at Detroit, Michili-
maBhi&c, St Mary's, and at Montreal, where they
received, ftored, packed up, and fhipped the company*^ furs for England, on which they had alfo
a final! commiflion. The remaining fhares were
held by the proprietors, who were obliged to winter
and manage the bufinefs of the concern with the
Indians, and their refpeCtive clerks, &c. They
wg£e 4Sot fuppofed to be under any obligation to
furnifh Mi
airnifh 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
intereft. Some of them, from their long fervices
and influence, held double fhares, and were allowed to retire from the bufinefs at any period of
the exifting concern, with one of thofe fhares,
naming any young man in the company's fervice
to fucceed him in the other. Seniority and merit
were, however, confidered as affording a claim to
the fucceflion, which, neverthelefs, could not|be
difpofed of without the concurrence of the majority of the concern; who, at the fame time relieved the feceding perfon from any refpoiifibfej
lity refpeCting the fhare that he transferred, and
accounted for it according to the annual value or
rate of the property; fo that the feller could have
no advantage but that of getting the fhare of ftock
which he retained realifed, and receiving for the
transferred fhare what was fairly determined to be
the worth of it. The former was alfo difcharged
from all duty, and became a dormant partner.
Thus, all the young men who were not provided
for at the beginning of the contract, fucceeded in
fucceflion to the character and advantages of partners. They entered into the Company's fervice
for five or feven years, under fuch expectations,
and their reafonable profpeCts were feldom diiap*-
pointed : there were, indeed, inftances when they
™     fucceeded
I OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.        07
fucceeded to ihares, before their apprenticefhip
was expired, and it frequently happened that they
were provided for while they were in a ftate of
articled clerkfhip. Shares were transferable only
to the concern at large, as no perfon could be
admitted as a partner who had not ferved his time
to the trade. The dormant partner indeed might
difpofe of his intereft* to any one he chofe, but if
the tranfaction were not acknowledged by his aflbciates, the purchafer could only be confidered as
his agent or attorney. Every fhare had a vote
and two thirds formed a majority. This regular
and equitable mode of providing for the clerks of
the company, excited a fpirit of emulation in the
difcharge of their various duties, and in fact, made
every agent a principal, who perceived his own
profperity to be immediately connected with that
of his employers. Indeed, without fuch a fpirit,
fuch a trade could not have become fo extended
and advantageous, as it has been and now is.
In 1788, the grofs amount of the adventure for
the year did not exceed forty thoufand pounds, *
but by the exertion, e/iterprife, and induftry of
the proprietors, it was brought in eleven years to
* This might be properly called the ftock of the company,
as it included, with the expenditure of the year, the amount qf
the property unexpended, which had been appropriated for the
adventure of that year, and was carried on to the account of
fhe following adventure.
W   W triple.
r- : u
triple that amount and upwards; yielding peo~
portionate profits, and furpaffing, in fhort, any thing
known in America.
Such, therefore, being the profperous ftate 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.
In 1798 the concern underwent a new form,
the fhares were increafed to forty-fix, 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 ftock, I
and under the old firm; the others beginning a
new one; and it now remains to be decided,whether
two parties, under the fame regulations and by the
fame exertions, though unequal in number, can
continue to carry on the bufinefs to a fuccefsful
iffue. The contrary opinion has been held, which,
if verified, will make it the intereft of the parties
again to coalefce; for neither is deficient in capital
to fupport their obftinacy in a lofing trade, as it is
not to be fuppofed that either will yield on any
other terms than perpetual participation.
It will not be fuperfluous  in  this place, to
explain the general mode of carrying on the fur
The agents are obliged to order the neceflary
PS goods
I OF T|IE FUR TRADE, &c.        29
goods from England in the month of October,
eighteen months before they can leave Montreal;
that is, they are not fhipped from London until
the fpring following, when they arrive in Canada
in the fummer.    In the courfe of the following
winter they are made up into fuch articles as are
required for the favages; they are then packed into
parcels of ninety pounds weight each, but cannot
be fent from Montreal until the May following ;
fo that they do not get to market until the enfuing
winter, when they are exchanged for furs, which
come to Montreal the next fall, and from thence
are fhipped, chiefly to London, where they are not
fold or paid for before the fucceeding fpring, or
even as late as June; which is forty-two months
after the goods were ordered in Canada ; thirty-fix
after they had been fhipped from England, and
twenty-four after they had been forwarded from
Montreal ; fo that the merchant, allowing that
he has twelve months credit, does not receive a
return to pay for thofe goods, and the neceflary
expences attending them, which is about equal
to the value of the goods themfelves, till two years
after they are confidered as cafh, which makes this
a very heavy bufinefs.    There is even a fmall proportion of it that requires twelve months longer to
bring round the payment, owing to the immenfe
diftance it is carried, and from the fhortnefs of
the feafon^, which prevents the fup, even after
F a they R'
they are collected, from coming out of the country
for that period *.
The articles neceflary for this trade, are coarfe
woollen cloths of different kinds; milled blankets
of different fizes; arms and ammunition ; twift
and carrot tobacco; Manchefter goods; linens,
and coarfe fheetings ; thread, lines and twine;
common hardware ; cutlery and ironmongery of
feveral defcriptions; kettles of brafs and copper,
and fheet-iron ; filkand cotton handkerchiefs;hats,
fhoes and hofe; calicoes and printed cottons, &c.
Spirituous liquors and provifions are purchafed
in Canada. Thefe, and the expence of 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 amouii^
againft the adventure.
* This will be better illuftrated by the following ftatement:
We will fuppofe the goods for 1798 ;
The orders for the goods are fent to this country 2£th OcT:, 1796.
They, are fhipped from London.    ..... March 1797.
They arrive in Montreal June I797*
They are made up in the courfe of that fummer and winter.
They are fent from Montreal May 1798.
They arrive in the Indian country, and are exchanged
for furs the following winter 1798-9*
"Which furs come to Montreal. Sept. 1799*
And are fhipped for London, where they are fold in
March and April, and paid for in May or June.   .   1800.
This or
This expenditure in Canada ultimately tends
to the encouragement of Britifh manufactory, for
thofe who are employed in the different branches
of this bufinefs, are enabled by their gains to
purchafe fuch Britifh articles as they muft other-
wife forego.
f The produce of the year of which I am
now fpeaking, confifted of the following furs and
peltries i
6000 Lynx fkins,
600 Wolverine fkins,
1650 Fiiher fkins,
100 Rackoon fkins,
3800 Wolf fkins,
106,000 Beaver fkins
2100 Bear fkins,
1560 Fox fkins,
4000 Kitt Fox fkins,
r 4600 Otter fkins,
17,000 Mufquafh fkins, 700 Elk fkifis,      *>j||
32,000 Marten fkins,      750 Deer fkins,
,:    1800 Mink fkins,   -   1200 Deer fkins, dreffed,
500 Buffalo robes, and a quantity of cafto-
Of thefe were diverted from the Britifh market,
being fent through the United States to China,
13,364fkins, fine beaver, weighing 19283 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 Britifh channel arofe from the following circumftance :
An adventure of this kind was undertaken by
a refpectable houfe in London, half concerned*
with the North-Weft Company in the year 1792.
if"" . ■  , The 32 I   «A GENERAL HISTORY
The furs were of the beft kind, and fuitable to
the market; and the adventurers continued this
connexion for five fucceflive years, to the annual amount of forty thoufand pounds. At the
winding up of 1792, 1793, I794> I79S» in the
year 1797, (the adventure of 1796 not being
included, as the furs were not fent to China,
but difpofed of in London), the North-Weft
Company experienced a lofs 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 Eaft
India Company's fhips, together with the duty
payable, and the various reftriCtions 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
fold in the courfe of twelve months. From fuch
advantages the furs of Canada will no doubt find
their way to China by America, which would
not be the cafe if Britifh subjects had the fame
privileges that are allowed to foreigners, as London would then be found the beft and fafeft
But to return to our principal fubjeCt. — We
fhall now proceed to confider the number of men,
employed in the concern : viz, fifty clerks, feventy-
one interpreters and clerks, one thoufand one
hundred and twenty canoe men, and thirty-five
guides. o3
guides. Of thefe, five clerks, eighteen guides,
and three hundred and fifty canoe men, were
employed for the fummer feafon in going from
Montreal to the Grande Portage, in canoes, part
of whom proceeded from thence to Rainy Lake
as will be hereaftec explained, and are called Pork-
eaters, or Goers and Comers. Thefe were hired
in Canada or Montreal, and were abfent from
the firft of May till the latter end of September.
For this trip the guides had from eight hundred
to a thoufand livres, and a fuitable equipment;
the foreman and fteerfman from five to fix hundred
livres; the middlemen from two hundred and fifty to
three hundred and fifty livres, with an equipment
t)f one blanket, one fhirt, and one pair of trowfers;
and were maintained during that period at the ex-
pence 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 thefe went to winter, and had more than
double the above wages and equipment. All the
winterers were hired by the year, and fometimes
for three years ; and of the clerks many were apprentices, who were generally engaged for five or
feven years, for which they had only one hundred
pounds, provifion 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 ; w
1            ■ iil
num; with all neceflaries, till provifion was made
for them. Thofe who acted in the two-fold capacity of clerk and interpreter, or were fo denominated, had no other expectation than the payment
of wages to. the amount of from one thoufand livres
per annum, with clothing and provifions. The
guides, who are a very ufeful fet of men, acted alfo
in the additional capacity of interpreters, and had
a ftated quantity of goods, confidered as fufficient
for their wants, their wages being from one to
three thoufand livres. The canoe men are of two
defcriptions, foremen and fteerfmen, and middlemen. The two firft were allowed annually one
thoufand two hundred, and the latter four hundred,
livres each. The firft clafs had what is called an
equipment, confifting of two blankets,, two fhirts,
two pair of trowfers, two handkerchiefs, fourteen
pounds of carrot tobacco, and fome trifling articles.
The latter had ten pounds of tobacco, and all the
other articles : thofe are called North Men, or
Winterers ; and to the laft clafs of people were attached upwards of feven hundred Indian women and
children, victualled at the expence of the company.
The firft clafs of people are hired in Montreal
five months before they fet out, and receive their
equipments, and one third of their wages in advance;
and an adequate idea of the labour they undergo
maybe formed from the following account of the
country L
OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.        |5
country through which they pafs, and their manner of proceeding.
The neceflary number of canoes being purchafed, at about three hundred livres each, the goods
formed into packages, and the lakes and rivers free
of ice, which they ufually are in the beginning of
May, they are then difpatched from La Chine,
eight miles above Montreal, with eight or ten
men in each canoe, and their baggage ; and fixty-
five packages of goods, fix hundred weight of bif-
cuit, two hundred weight of pork, three bufhels of
peafe, for the men's provifion; two oil cloths to
cover the goods, a fail, &c. an axe, a towing-lifle,
a kettle, and a fponge to bail out the water, with a
quantity of gum, bark, and watape, to repair the
veffel. An European 6n feeing one of thefe flen-
der veflels thus laden, heaped up, and funk with
her gunwale within fix inches of the water, would
think his fate inevitable in fuch a boat, when he
reflected on the nature of her voyage ; but the Ca*
nadians ard fo expert that few accidents happen.
Leaving La Chine, they proceed to St. Ann's,
within two miles of the Weftern extremity of the
ifland of Montreal, the lake of the two mountailp
being in fight, 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 fpot that
the Canadians confider they take their departure,
G as {    ' 1 K
i tiff I , -■'
.   fit 111
ill H
yfTIsi ''  !
llir   i
as it pofT^Tes the laft church on the ifland, which
is dedicated to the tutelar faint of voyagers.
The lake of the two mountains is about twenty
miles long, but not more than three wide,  and
furrounded by cultivated fields, except the Seign-
ory belonging  to the  clergy,  though nominally
in pofleffion of the two tribes of Iroquois and Algonquins, whofe village is fituated 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 fide.    On the Eaft is the ftation
on the Algonquins, and on the Weft,   one of the
Iroquois, confifting in all of about five hundred
warriors. Each party has its miflionary, and divine
worfhip is performed according to the rites of the
Roman Catholic religion, in their refpeCtive languages in the fame church : and fo afliduous have
their paftors been, that thefe people have been in-
ftructed in reading and writing in their own language, and are better inftructed than. the Canadian inhabitants of the country of the lower ranks:
but notwithftanding thefe advantages, and though
the eftablifhment is nearly coeval with the colonization of the country, they do not advance towards
a ftate of civilization but retain their ancient habits,
language, and cuftoms, and are becoming every
day more depraved, indigent, and infignificant.
H The ■    §    OF THE FUR TRADE, kc. |;    37
The country around them, though very capable of
cultivation, prefents only a few miferable patches
of ground, fown by the women with maize and vegetables. During the winter fe&fon, they leave their
habitations, and pious paftors, to follow the chafe,
according to the cuflom of their forefathers. Such
is, indeed, the ftate of all the villages near the cultivated parts of Canada. But we fhall "now leave
them to proceed on our voyage.
At the end of the lake the water contracts inth
the Utawas River, which, after a courfe of fikiih *
miles, is interrupted by a fucceflion of rapids and
cafcades for upwards of ten miles, at the foot of
which the Canadian Seignories terminate; and all
above them were wafte land, till theconclufionofthe
American war, when they were furveyed by order
of government, and^granted to the officers and
men of the eighty-fourth regiment, when reduced;
but principally to the former, and confequently
little inhabited, though verj^capable of cultivation.
The voyagers are frequenter obliged to unload
their canoes, and carry the goods upon their backs,
or rather fufpended in flings from their^rieads.
^Each man's ordinary load is two packages, though
fome carry three. Here the canoe is towed by a
ftrong line. There are ^fiie places where the
ground will not admit of their carrying the whole;
they then make two trips, that is, leave half llheir
lading, and gb and land it at the diftance required |
G z and I   I
and then return for that which was left.    In tjlis
diftance are  three carrying-places, the length of
which depends in a great meafure upon the ftate
of the water, whether higher or lower; from the
laft of thefe the river is about a mile and an half
wide, and has a regular current for about fixty miles,
when it ends at the firft  Portage  de  Chaudiere,
where the body of water falls twenty-five feet, over
cragged, excavated rocks, in a moft wild, romantic
manner.    At a fmall diftance below, is the river
Rideau on the left, falling over a perpendicular
rock, near forty feet high, in one fheet, afluming
the appearance of a curtain ; and from which cir||
cumftance it derives its name.    To this extent the
lands have Been furveyed, as before obferved, and .
are very fit for culture.    Many loyalifts are fettled
upon thefriver Rideau, and have, I am told, thriving plantations.    Some American  families preferring the Britifh territory, have alfo eflablifhed
themfelves  along  a river  on  the  oppofite  fide,
where the foil is excellent.    Nor do I think thm
period is far diftant, when the lands will become
fettled from this vicinity to Montreal.
Over this portage, which is fix hundred and
forty-three patftes long,.fthe canoe and all the lading
is carried. The rock^s fo fleep and difficult of
accefs, that it requires twelve men to take the canoe out of the water : it is then carried by fix meny
two at each,end on the fame fide, and two under
the 3'
OF THE FUR TRADI, &c\        o9
the oppofite gunwale in the middle.    From hence
to the next is but a fhort diftance, in which they
make two trips to the fecond Portage de Cha*|*
diere, whigh is feven hundred paces to carry the
loading alone.    From hence to the next and laft
Chaudiere,  or Portage des  Chenes,- is ahout fix
miles, with a very ftrong current, where the goods
are carried feven hundred and forty paces;  the
canoe being towed up by the line, when the water
is not very high.    We now enter J^ac des Chau-
dieres, which is computed to be thirty miles in
length.    Though it is called a lake, there is a
ftrong draught downwards, and its breadth is from
two to four miles.    At the end of this is the Por-
tage des Chats, over which the canoe and lading
are carried two hundred and fevepty-four paces;
and very difficult & is for the former. The river is
here barred fey a ridge of black rocks, rifing .-.£}.
pinnacles and covered with wood, ^hich, from the
fmall quantity of foil that nou#ifhes it, is low and
ftinted^:   The river finds its way over and through
thefe rocks, in numerous channels falling fifteen
feet and upwards.    From hence two trips are made
through a ferpentine channel, formed by the rocks
for feveral miles, when the current flackens, and is
accordingly called the  Lake des Chats.    At the
channels of the grand Calumet, which are computed to be at the diftance of eighteen miles, the current recovers its ftrength, and proceeds to the Portage I
tage Dufort, which is two hundred and forty-five
paces long; over which the canoe and baggage are
tranfported. 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 followsWie Mountain Portage, where
the canoe and lading are alfo carried three hundred
and eighty-five paces; then to the Decharge of
the Derive where the goods are carried two hun-
dred and fifty paces; and thence to the grand Calumet. This is the longeft carrying-place in this
river, and is about two thoufald and thirty-five
paces!, It is a high Mfltfor mountain. From the
upper part of this Pd&age the current is fleady,
and is only a branch of the Utawas River, which
joins the main channel, that keeps a more Southern courfe, at the diftance 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 fucceeds the Portage des
Allumettes, which is but twenty-five paces, over
a rock difficult of accefs, and at a very fhort dif-
'* The place where the goods alone are carried, is called a
Decharge, and that where goods and canoesare both tranfported
Overland, is denominated a Portage.
tance OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.        41
fance from the Decharge. From Portage de
Chenes to this fpot, is a fine deer-hunting country,
and the land in many parts very fit for cultivation.
From hence the river fpreads wide, and is full of
iflands, with fome current for feven leagues, to the
beginning of Rivifpe Creufe, or Deep River, which
runs in the form of a canal, about a mile and an
half wide, for about thirty-fix miles ; bounded
upon the North by very high rocks, with low land
on the South, and fandy ; it is intercepted again by
falls and cataracts, fo that the Portages of the two
Joachins almoft join. The firft is nine hundred
and twenty, fix paces, the next feven hundred
and twenty, and both very bad roads. From
hence is a fleady current of nine miles to the Rivet
du Moine, where there has generally been a trading houfe; the flream then becomes ftrong for
four leagues, when a rapid fucceeds, which requires
two trips. A little way onward is the Decharge,
and clofe to it, the, Portage of the Roche Capi-
taine, feven hundred and ninety-feven paces in
length. From hence two trips are made through
a narrow channel of the Roche Capitaine, made by
an ifland four miles in length. A ftrong current
now fucceeds, for about fix leagues to the Portage
of the two rivers, which it 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 ■.
from whence, including the rapids of Matawoen,"
where there is no carrying-place, it is about thirty-
fix miles to the forks of the fame name ; in latitude 46I. North, and longitude 78 J. Weft, and
is at the computed diftance of four hundred miles
from Montreal. At this place the Petice Riviere
falls into the Utawas. The latter river comes
from a North-Wefterly direction, forming feveral
lakes in its courfe. The principal of them is Lake
Temefcamang, where there has always been a trading poft, which may be faid to continue, by a
fucceflion of rivers and lakes, upwards of fifty leagues from the Forks, paffing near the waters of
the Lake Abbitiby, in latitude 48 f. which is received by the Moofe River, that empties itfelf into
James Bay.
The Petite Riviere takes a South-Weft direction,
is full of rapids and cataracts to its fource, and is
not more than fifteen leagues in length, in the
courfe of which are the following interruptions—
The Portage of Plein Champ, three hundred and
nineteen paces; the Decharge of the Rofe, one
hundred and forty-five paces ; the Decharge of
Campion, one hundred and eighty-four paces; the
portage of the Grofle Roche, one hundred and
fifty paces ; the Portage of Pareffeux, four hundred and two paces ; the Portage of Priarie, two
hundred and eighty-feven paces ; the Portage of
La Cave, one hundred paces; Portage of Talon,
two OF THE FUR TRADE, Sec        43
two hundred and feventy-five paces ; which, for its
length, is the worft on the communication ;  Portage Pin de Mufique, four hundred and fifty-fix
paces; next toithis is Mauvais de Mufique, where
many men have been crufhed to death by the canoes, and others have received irrecoverable injuries.
The laft in this river is the Turtle Portage, eighty-
three paces, on entering the lake of that name,
where, indeed, the river may be faid to take its
source.    From the firft vafe to the great river, the
country has the appearance of having been overrun by fire, and confifts in general of huge rocky
hills.    The diftance of this Portage which is the
height of land, between the waters of^the St. Lau-<
rence and the Utawas, is one thoufand five hundred
and thirteen paces to a fmall canal in a plain, that
is juft fufficient to carry the loaded canoe about one
mile to the next vafe, which is feven. hundred and ,
twenty-five paces.    It would be twice this diftance,
but the narrow creek is dammed in the beaver fafh-
ion, to float the canoes to this barrier, through
which they pafs, when the river is juft fufficient to
bear them through a fwamp of two miles to the
laft vafe, of one thoufand and twenty-four paces IS
length.    Though the river is increafed in this part,
fome care is neceflary to avoid rocks and flumps of
trees.    In about fix miles is the lake Nepifingui,
which is computed to be twelve leagues long,
though the route of the canoes is fomething more :
.'¥    '     rlHI    H £»"      Ik JL
it is about fifteen miles wide in the wideft part,,
and bounded with rocks.    Its inhabitants confift
of the remainder of a numerous converted tribe,
Cfdled Nepifinguis of the Algonquin nation.    Out
of it flows the Riviere des Francois, over rocks of a
configurable height.    In a bay to the Eaft of this,
the road leads oyer the Portage of the Chaudiere
des Francois, five hundred and forty-four paces, to
ftill water.    It muft have acquired the name of
Kettle, from a great number of holes in the folid
rock of a cylindrical form, and not unlike that culinary utenfil.    They are obfervable in many parts
along ftrong bodies of water, and where, at certain
feafons, and diftinCt periods, it is well known the
water imindates ; at the bottom of them afe generally found a number of fmall ftones and pebbles.
This circumftance justifies the conclufion, that at
fome former period thefe rocks formed the bed of
£ branch of the difcharge of this lake, although
fome of them are upwards of ten feet above the
,prefent level of the water at its greateft height*
They are, indeed,"to be seen along every great riveffl
throughout  thifkwide  extended   country.    The
French fiver is very irregular, both as to its breadth
$nd form, and is fo interfperfed with iflands, that in
the whole courfe of it the banks are feldomvifible.
Of its various channels, that which is generally followed by the canoes is obftruCted by the following
P$ttag€$, viz. des Pins, fifty-two paces; FeapfiSe,
thirty-fix M
m OF THE FUR TRADE, &c. 45
thirty-fix paces; Parisienne, one hundred paces;
Recolet, forty-five paces; and the Petite Feaufille*
twenty-five paces. In feveral parts there are guts
or channels, whfere the water flows with great velocity, which are not more than twice the breadth of
a canoe. The diftance to Lake Huron is eftinmted
at twenty-five leagues, which this river enters ill
the latitude 45. 53. North, that is, at the point df
land three or four miles within the lake. There is
hardly afoot of foil to be feen from one end of the
French river to the other, its banks confifting of
hills of entire rock. The coaft of the lake is th&
fame, but lower, backed at fome diftance by high
lands. The courfe runs through numerous iflands
to the North of Weft to the river Teffalon, com-
puted to be about fifty leagues from the French
river, and which I found to be in latitude 46. 12.21.
North; and from thence erofling, from ifland to ifland, the arm of the lake that receives the1 water of
Lake Superior (which continues the fame courfe),
the route changes to the South of Weft ten leagues
to the Detour, paffing the end of the ifland of St. Jo-
feph, within fix miles of the former place. On ttiat
ifland there has been a military eftablifhment finc$£
the upper pofts were given up to the Americans in
the year 1794; and is the Wefternmoft military
pofition which we have in this country. 1 It is a
place of no trade, and the greater part, if not the
whole of the Indians, come here for no other pur-
H 2 pofe 'Ill
pofe but to receive the prefents 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 ufed formerly to do at Michilimakinac, but principally with Britifh fubjeCts.
The Americans pay them very little attention, and
tell them that they keep pofleflion of their country
by right of conqueft : that, as their brothers, they
will be friends with them while they deferve it; and
that their traders will bring them every kind of
goods fhey require, which they may procure by
their induftry.
Our commanders treat them in a very different
manner, and, under the character of the reprefen-
tatives of their father; (which parental title the
natives give to his prefent Majefty, the common
father of all his people) prefent them with fuch
things as the actual ftate of their flores will allow.
4 How far this conduct, if continued, may, at a
future exigency, keep thefe people in our intereft,
if they are even worthy of it, is not an object of my
prefent confideration : at the fame time, I cannot
avoid exprefling my perfect conviction, that it
would not be of the leaft advantage to our prefent
or future commerce in that country, or to the people
themfelves; as it only tends to keep many of them
in a ftate of idienefs about our military eflablifh-
:£§b fifi    IS ments. H-
I      OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.       47
ments. The ammunition which they receive is
employed to kill game, in order to procure rum in
return, though their families may be in a ftarving
condition : hence it i$, that, in confequence c0
flothful and dhTolute lives, their numbers are in a
very perceptible ftate of diminution.
From the Detour to ifland of Michilimakinac^
at the confluence of the Lakes Huron and Michi*
gan, in latitude 45.54. North is about forty-miles.
To keep the direct courfe to Lake Superior, the
north fhore from the river Teflalon fhould be followed ; crofling to the North-Weft end of St. Jo-
feph^and pafling between it and the adjacent iflands, which makes a diftance of fifty miles to thi'
fall of St. Mary, at the foot of which, upon the
South fhore, there is a village, formerly a place of
great refort for the inhabitants of Lake Superior,
and confequently of confiderable 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 ftarving, 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 fettle
there, was the great quantity of white fifh that are
to be taken in and about the falls, with very little
trouble, particularly in the autumn, when that fifh
leaves the lakes, and comes to the running and
fhallow fill
I flaW!
E mi
fhallow waters to fpawn. Thefe, when fait can be
procured, are pickled juft as the froft fets in, and
prove very good food with potatoes, which they
have of late cultivated with fuccefs. The natives
live chiefly on this fifh, which they hang up. by the
tails, and preferve throughout the winter, or at
leaft as long as they laft ; for whatever quantity they
may have taken, it is never known that their oeco-
nomy is fuch as to make them laft through the
winter; which renders their fituation very diftreffing;
for if they had ^tivity sufficient to purfue the labours of the chafe, the woods are become fo barren
of game as to afford them no great profpect of relief. In the fpring of the year they, and the other
inhabitants, make a quantity of fugar from the
maple tree, which they exchange with the traders
for neceflary articles, or carry it to Michilimakinac,
where they expect a better price. One of thefe
traders was agent for the North-Weft Company,
receiving, ftoring and forwarding fuch articles as
come by the way of the lakes upon their veflel:
for it is to be obferved, that a quantity of their goods
are fent by that route from Montreal in boats to
Kingfton, at the entrance of Lake Ontario, and
from thence in veflels to Niagara, then over land
ten miles to a water communication, by boats, to
Lake Erie, where they are again received into vefi-
fels, and carried over that lake up the river Detroit,
through the lake and river Sinclair to Lake Huron1
111 and OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.       4$
and from thence to the Falls of St. Mary's, when
they are again landed and carried for a mile above
the falls, and fhipped over Lake Superior to the
Grande Portage. This is found to be a lefs ex-
penfive method than by canoes, but attended with
more rifk, and requiring more time, than one fhort
feafon of this country will admit; for the goods are
always fent from Montreal the preceding fall; and
befides, the company get their provifions from Detroit, as flour and Indian corn; as alfo confiderable
fupplies from Michilimakinac of maple fugar, taU
low, gum, &c. &c.
For the purpofe of conveying all thefe things,
they have two veflels upon the Lakes Erie and
Huron, and one on Lake Superior, of from fifty
to feventy tons burthen. This being, therefore,
the depot for traniports, the Montreal canoes, on
their arrival, were forwarded over Lake Superior,
wi^i only five men in each ; the others were fent
to Michilimakinac for additional canoes, which
Were required to profecute 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 fixty leagues
from St. Mary's coaft ways, andfituated on a plea-
fant bay on the North fide of the lake, in latitude
i 48. North and longitude 90. Weft from Greenwich, where the compafs has not above five degrees
IJaft variation*    _
m.   ' ' -f ' ":' '   ' •'        At li
At the entrance of the bay is an ifland #iich
fcreens the harbour from every wind except the
South. The fhallownefs of the water, however,
renders it neceflary for the veflel to anchor near a
mile from the fhore, wherer^here is not more than
fourteen feet water. This lake juftifies 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 Weft, where
there is no variation of the compafs whatever,
while its Southern extremity, at the River St. Louis,
is in latitude 46. 45, North, and longitude 92. 10.
Weft : its greateft breadth is one hundred and
twenty miles, and its circumference, including its
various bays, is not lefs than one thoufand two
hundred miles. Along its North fhore is the fafefll
navigation, as it is a continued mountainous embankment of rock, from three hundred to bne thoii||
fand five hundred feet in height. There are numerous coves and fandy bays to land, which are
frequently fheltered by iflands from the fwell of
the lake. This is particularly the cafe at the diftance of one hundred miles to the Eaftward
of the Grande Portage, and is called  the Pays
Plat.'i|       :      N f • -N-Ni!       '^P
This feems to have been caufed by fome con-
vulfion of nature, for many of the iflands difplay a
compofition of lava, intermixed with round ft ones
of the fize of a pigeon's egg.    The furrounding
rock OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.       5i
rock is generally hard, and of a dark blu^-grey,
though it frequently has the appearance of iron and
copper. The South fide of the lake, from Point
Shagoimigo Eaft, is almoft a continual ftraight
line of fandy beach, interfperfed with rocky precipices of lime-ftones, fometimes rifing to an hundred feet in height, without a bay. The embankments from that point Weftward are, in genera},
of ftrong clay, mixed with ftones, which renders the
navigationirkfome and dangerous. On the fame
fide, at the River Tonnagan, is found a quantity
of virgin copper. The Americans, foon after they
got pofleflion ©f that country, fent an engineer thither ; and I fhould not be furpnfed to hear of their
employing people to work the mine. Indeed, it
might be well worthy the attention of the Britifh
fubjects to work the mines on the North coaft,
though they are not fuppofed to be fo rich as thofe
on the South.
Lake Superior is the largeft and moft magnificent body of frefh water in the world : it is clear
and pellucid, of great depth, and abounding in a
great variety of fifh, which are the moft excellent
of their kind. There are trouts of three kinds,
weighing from five to fifty pounds, flurgeon, pickerel, pike, red and white carp, black bafs, herrings, &c. &c. and the laft and beft of all, the
Ticamang, or white fifh, which weighs from four
I to 1
to fixteen pounds, and is of a superior quality in
thefe waters.
This Lake may be denominated the grand re-
fervoir of the River St. Laurence, as no confide-
rable rivers difcharge themfelves into it. The principal ones are, the St. Louis, the Nipigon, the Pic,
and the Michipicoten. Indeed, the extent of
country from which any of them flow, or take
their courfe, in any direction, cannot admit of it,
in confequence of the ridge of land that feparates
them from the rivers that empty themfelves into
Hudfon's-Bay, the gulph of Mexico, and the waters that fall in Lake Michegan, which afterwards
become a part of the St. Laurence.
This vaft collection of waters is often covered
with fog, particularly, when the wind is from the
Eaft, which, driving againft the high barren rocks
on the North and Weft fhore, diflblves in torrents!
of rain. It is very generally faid, that the florms
on this lake are denoted by a fwell on the preceding
day; but this circumftance did not appear from
my obfervation to be a regular phenomenon, as the
fwells more frequently fubfided without any fubfe-
quent wind.
-" Along the furrounding rocks of this immenfelake,
evident marks appear of the decreafe of its water,
by the lines obfervable along them. The fpace,
however, between the highefl and the loweft, is not
fo great as in the fmalfer lakes, as it does not
amount OF THE FUR TRADE, &c. 53
amount to more than fix feet, the former being
very faint.
The inhabitants that are found along the coaft
of this water, are all of the Algonquin nation, the
whole of which do not exceed i5o familes.*
Thefe people live chiefly on fifh ; indeed, from
what has been faid of the country, it cannot be ex*
peCted to abound in animals, as it is totally defti-
tute of that fhelter, which is fo neceflary to them.
The rocks appear to have been over-run by fire,
and the flinted timber, which once grew there, is
frequently feen lying along the furface of them :
but it-is not eafy to be reconciled, that any t||irig-
fliould grow where there is fo litde appearance of
foil. Between the fallen trees there are briars^with
hurdeberry and goofeherry bullies, rafpberries, &c,
which invite the bears ii$greater or lefler numbers,
s they are a favourite food of that animal: beyond
thefe rocky banks are found a few moofe and fallow deer. The waters alone are abundantly inhabited.
A very curious phenomenon was obferved fome
* In the year 1668, when the firft miflionaries vifited the
South of this lake,: they, found the country full of inhabitants.
They relate, that, about this time a band of the Nepifingues,
who were converted, emigrated to the Nipigon country, which
is to the North of Lake Superior. Few of their defcendants
are now remaining, and not a trace of the religion communicated to then? is tb be difcovered.
years 1
years ago at the Grand Portage, for which no obvious caufe could be afligned. The water withdrew with great precipitation, leaving the ground
dry that had never before been vifible, the fall
being equal to four perpendicular feet, and ruining!
back with great velocity above the common mark.
It continued thus falling and rifing for feveral
hours, gradually decreafing till it flopped at its
ufual height. There is frequently an irregular
influx and deflux, which does not exceed ten inches
and is attributed to the wind.
The bottom of the bay, whiqh forms an amphitheatre, is cleared of wood, and inclofed; and
on the left corner of it, beneath an hill, three or
four%undred feet in height, and crowned by others
of a ftill greater altitude, is the fort, picketed in
with cedar pallifadoes, and inclofing houfes built
with wood and covered with fhingles. They are
calculated for every convenience of trade, as well
as to accommodate the proprietors and clerks du||
ring their fhort refidence there. The North men
live under tents : but the more frugal pork-eater
lodges beneath his canoe. The foil immediately
bordering on the lake has not proved very propitious, as nothing but potatoes have been found to
anfwer the trouble of cultivation. This lircum-
fiance is probably owing to the cold damp fogs of
the lake, and the moifture of the ground from the
fprings that iffue from beneath the hills.    There
are OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.        $$
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 ferious conficb-
I fhall now leave thefe geographical notices, to
give fome 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 fuoh goods and provifions as are neceflary for the interior country.
This is a labour which cattle cannot conveniently
perform in fummer, as both horfes and oxen were
tried by the company without fuccefs. They are
only ufeful for light, bulky articles; or for tranf-
porting upon fledges, during the winter, whatever
goods may remain there, efpecially provifion, of
which it is ufual to have a year's ftock on hand.
Having finifhed this toilfome part of their duty,
if more goods are neotflary to be tranfpbrted, they
are allowed a Spa&ifh dollar for each package : a$#
fo inured are they to this kind of labour, that I
have known fome of them fet off with two packages of ninety pounds each, and return with two
others of the Nfeme weight, fin the courfe c§L$t&
hours, beihg a diftance of eighteen miles over hills
and mountains. This neceflary part of the bufinefs
being over, if the feafon be early they have fome
refpite, but this depends upon the time the North
men begin to   arrive from their winter quarters,
which 1
in  II
Ii   l
which they commonly do early in July.    At this
period, it is neceflary to felect from the pork-eaters,
a number of men, among whom are the recruits,
or winterers, fufficient to man the North canoes
neceflary to carry to the river of the rainy lake
the goods and provifion requifite for the Athabafca
country; as the people of that country, (owing to
the fhortnefs of the feafon and length o%he roadJ
can come no further)", are equipped there and exchange ladings with the people of whom we are
fpeaking, and both return from whenc# they caniil
This voyage is performed in the courfe o| a n^Mh,
and they are allowed proportionable wag^s for theia
The north men being arrived at the Grande Portage, are regaled with bread, pork, butter, liquor,
and tobacco, and fuch as hatfe not  enteredrf inog|
agreements during the winter, which is cuftomarj^
are contracted with', to return  and perform the
voyage for on§', two, or three,years : the% accounts!
^re alfo fettled, and fuch as choofe to fend any of
their earnings to Canada, receive drafts to tranfmit
to-their relations-or friends : and as foon as they can
be got ready, which requires no more than a fortnight, they are again difpatched to their refpeCtive
departments. Itekiindeed, very creditable to them
as fervants, thahthough they are fometimes affdfei-
bled to die number of twelve hutidred men, indulging themfelves in the free ufe.of liqror, and quarrelling; OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.        £7
relling with each other, they always fnow greateft
refpeCt to their employers, who are comparatively
but few in number, and beyond the aid of any
legal power to enforce due obedience. In fhort, a
degree of fubordination can only be maintained by
the good opinion thefe men entertain of their employers, which has been uniformly the cafe, fince
the trade has been formed and conducted on a regular fyftem.
The people being difpatched to their refpeCtive
winter quarters, the agents from Montreal, aflifted
by their clerks, prepare to return there, by getting
the fu«$ acrofs the Portage, and re-mafting 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 mefs together, to the number of fometimes an hundred, at feveral tables, in one large
hall, the provilfon confifting of bread, fait pork,
beef, hams, fifh, and venifon, butter, peas, Indian
corn, potatoes, tea, fpirits, wine, &c. and plenty of
milk, for which purpofe feveral milch cows are
conftantly kept. The mechanics have rations of
fuch provifion, but the canoe-men, both from the
North and Montreal, have no other allowance here,
or on the voyage, than Indian corn and melted
fat. The corn for this purpofe is prepared before it leaves Detroit, by boiling it in a ftrong alkali. 58   f    A GENERAL HISTORY
kali, which takes off the outer hufk; it is Aen well
wafhed, and carefully dried upon flages, when it is
fit for ufe. One quart of this is boiled for two
hours, over a moderate fire, in a gallon of water; to
which, when it has boiled a fmall ifcrrie, are added
two ounces of melted fuet; this caufe s the corn to
fplit, and in the time mentioned makes a pretty
thick pudding. If to this is added a little fait,
(but not before it is boiled, as it would inteneupt
the operation), it makes an wholefome, palatable
food, and eafy of digefliom This quantity is full}!
fufficient for a man's fubfiftence during twenty-four
hours; though it is not fufficiently heartening tof
fuflain the flrength neceflary for a ftate of ac4
tive labour, j The Americans call this difh Ho-
minee *.
The trade from the Grande Portage, is, in fome
particulars, carried on in a different manner with
that from Montreal. The canoes ufed in the latter
tranfport are now too large for the former, and
fome of about half the fize are procured from the
natives, and are navigated by four, five, or fix
men, according to the diftance which they have to
go. They carry a lading of about thirty-five packages, on an average ; of thefe twenty-three are for
* Corn is the cheaper! provifion that can be procured,
though from the expence of tranfport, the bufhel cofl about
twenty (hillings fterling, at the Grande Portage. A man's
daily allowance does not exceed ten-pence. -
the OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.        39
the purpose of trade, and the reft are employed for
provifions, flores, and baggage. ; In each of thefe
canoes are a foreman and fteerfman; the one to be
always' on the look out, and direct the paffage of
the veffel, and the other to attend the helm. They
alfo carry her, whenever that office is neceflary.
The foreman has the command, and the middlflf
men obey both ;-t*he tatter earn only two-thirds of
the wages which are paid the two former. Independent of thefe a conductor or pilot is appointed
to every four or fix of thgfe canoes, whom they are
all obliged to obey ; and is, or at leaft is intended
to be, a perfon of fupericp: experience, for which
he is propottionably paid.    ||jj
In thefe canoes, thus loaded, they embark at the
North fide of the portage, on the river Au Tourt,
which if very incpnfiderable ; and after about two
miles of a W^Spry courfe, is ohftruct^d by the. Parr
tridge Postage, fi$e hundred pace§j long. Inf^the
fpring this rrigkes a confutable fall, when the
water is high, over a perpendiqular rock of one
hundred and twenty feet. Frprn thence the river
continues to be ftallow, and requires great care to
prevent th$ bottom of th£ canoji/rom being inj^f^
by fharp rocks, for a diftan^e^cf three mi|ss and
an half to the Pf&irie, or?$/Le%4&fflv whfPihalf the
lading igfftikgnojat, ^t^^jar^edhy part of the erw;
while two of them are conducting the canoe among
the rocks^srith the remamder^ to the CWMfeogoS
K Mortage, Isl
Ml I
Portage, three miles and an half more, when they
unload and come back two miles, and embark
what was left for the other hands to carry, which
they alfo land with the former; all of which is car-
riedfiix hundred and eighty paces, and the canoe
led up againftMie raj^id.    From hence the water is
bete*-daicuhit8d to carry canoes, and leads by a
winSliig courfe to $!&£■ North of Weft three miles
to thle Outird Portage, over which the canoe, and
every thing in her;r is carried for two thoufand four
hundred paces.    At the further end is a very high
hill to defcend, o^ef which hangs a rock upwards
of feven hundred feet high.    Then fucceeds the
Outard Lake,  about fix miles long, lying in a
f^orth^Yeft courfe, an<Pab(#St two rMiles%ide in
the broadeft f&rt.    After paffing a very fmall rivulet; they come to the Elk Portage, c^er which
th& canoe and lacfHig are again carried one thou-
fand^one hundre^ind twenty paces ;' when they
fenter the lake of the fame name£ whfch Sfcan hand-
fome piece ofwatei^ ruining NoYth-Weft about
four miles, and n§t more than one mile and an half
wide *.    They^theSPland ft the Portage de Cerife,
&V& (which, and in th&'face of a confiderable hill, the
canoe and cargo are again tranfpbrted for one thou-
iahd anil fifty pl^#|^Thft is onl^ feparated from
the fedond  Porta^eP-dte Cerife,  by^a Thud-pond
Here is a moft excellent fifuery for white .fifh, "which are
exquifitev ?*W-
1 (where OF THE FUR TRADE,~&c.        61
(where there is plenty of water lilies), of a quarter
of a mile in length; and this is again feparated by
a fimilar pond, from the laft Portage de Cerife,
which is four hundred and ten paces.    Here the
fame operation is to be performed for three hundred and eighty paces.    They next enter on t^;
Mountain L|ke, running North-Weft by Weft fix
miles long, and about two miles in  its greateft
breadth.    In the centre of th^ lake, and to the
right is the Old Road, by which I newzv pafled;
but an adequate notion may be formed of it from
the road I am going to describe, and which is uni-
verfally preferred.     This is firft, the fmall new
portage over which every  thing is  carried for
fix hundred and twenty fix paces, over hills and
gullies ; the whole is then embarked on a narrow
line of water, that meanders South-Weft about two
miles and an half.    It is neceflary to unload here,
for the length of the canoe, and then proceed Weft
half a mile, to the new Grande Portagg, which is
three thoufand one hundred paces*|n length, and
over very rough ground, which requires the utmoft
exertions of the men, and frequently lames them :
from hence they approach the Rofe Lake, the portage of that name being oppofite to the junction of
the road from the Mountain Lake.    They then
embark on the Rofe Lake, about one mile from
the Eaft end of it, and fleer Weft by South, in an
oblique courfe, acrofs it two miles; then Weft-
North-Weft ill
North-Weft paffing the Petite Peche to the Marten Portage three miles. In this part of the lake
the bottom is mud and flime, with about three or
four feet of water over it; and here I frequently
ftruck a canoe pole of twelve feet long, without
meeting any other obflruCtion than if the whole;
were water : it has, however, a peculiar fuction or
attractive power, fo that it is difficult to paddle a
canoe over it. There is a fmall fpace along the
South fhore, where the water is deeji| and this
effect is not felt. In proportion to the diftance
from this part, the fuction becomes more powerful:
I have, indeed been told that loaded canoes have
been in danger of being fwallowed up , and have
only owed theif prefervation to other canoes,
which were lighter. I have, myfelf, found it very
difficult to get away from this attractive power,
with fix men, and great exertion, though we did
not appear to be in any danger of inking.
Over againft this is a very high, rocky ridge, on
the South fide, called Marten Portage, which is
but twenty paces long, and feparated from the'
Peche Portage, which is four hundred and eighty
paces, by a mud-pond, covered with white lilies.
From hence the courfe is on the lake of the fame
name, Weft-South-Weft three mile^lto the height
of land, where the waters of the Dove or Pigeon
River terminate, and which is one of the fources
of the great St. Laurence in this direction.    Having
carried OF TflE FUR TRADE, &c. |_ 63
carried the canoe and lading over it, fix hundred
and fevepty-nine paces, they embark on the lake
of Hauteur de Terre * , which is in the fhape of an
horfe-fhoe. It is entered near the curve, and left
at the extremity of the Wtfftern limb, through a
very fhallow channel, where the canoe paffes half
loaded for thirty paces with the current, which conducts thefe waters through the fucceeding lakes and
rivers, till they difcharge themfelves, by the river
Nelfon, into Hudfon's-Bay. The firft of thefe is
Lac de pierres a fufil, running Weft-South-Wefl
feven miles long, and two wide, and, making an
angle at North-Weft one mile more, becomes a
river for half a mile, tumbling over a rock, and
forming a fall and portage, called the Efcaler, of
fifty-five paces; but from hence it is neither lake
Or river, but poffefles the character of both, and
runs between large rocks, whicfi caufe a current
or rapid, for about two miles and an half, Weft-
North-Weft, to the portage of the Cheval du Bois.
Here the canoe and contents are carried three hun-
dred and eighty paces, between rocks; and within
a quarter of a mile is the Portage des Gros Pins
which is fix hundred and forty paces over an high
* The route which we have been travelling hitherto, leads
along the high rocky land or bankrof Lake Superior on the
left. The face of the country offers a wild fcene of huge hills
and rocks, feparated by ftony vallies, lakes, and ponds. WheN
ever there is the leaft foil, it is well covered with trees.
ridge. 1
ridge. The oppofite fide of it is wafhed by a fmall
lake three miles round ; and the courfe is through
the Eaft end or fide of it, three quart^r^pf a mile
North-Eaft, where there is a rapid. An irregular,
meandering channel, between rocky banks, then
fucceeds, for feven miles and an half, to the Mara-
boeuf Lake, which extends North four miles, and
is three quarters of a mile wide, terminating by a
rapid and decharge, of one hundred and eighty
pace% the rock of Saginaga being in fight, which
caufe s a fall of about feven feet, and a portage of
fifty-five paces.
Lake Saginaga takes its names froi$L its nume^
rous Iflands. Its greateft length from Eaft to Weft
is about fourteen miles, with very irregular inlets,
is no where more than three miles wide, and terminates at the fmall portage of Le Rocher, of forty-
three paces. From thence is a rocky, ftony paffage of one mile, to Prairie Portage, which is very
improperly named, as thf re is no ground about it
that anfwers to that defcription, except a fmall
fpot at the embarking place at the Weft end ;
to the Eaft is an entire bog ; and it is with great
difficulty that the lading can be landed upon
flages, formed by driving piles into the mud, and
fpreading branches of trees over them. The port,
age rifes on a ftony ridge, over which the canoe
and cargo muft be carried for fix hundred and
eleven paces. This is fucceeded by an embarkation n OF THE FUR TRADE, &c. 65
tion on a fmall bay, where the bottom is the fame
as has been defcribed in the Weft end of Rofe
Lake, and it is with great difficulty that a laden
canoe is worked over it, but it does not compre^-
hend more than a diftance of two hundred yards.
From hence the progrefs continues through irre-
l^ular channels, bounded by rocks, in a Wefterly
courfe for about five miles, to the little Portage des Couteaux , of one hundred and fixty-
five paces, and the Lax: des Couteaux, running
about South-Weft by Weft twelve miles, and
from a quarter to two miles wide. A deep bay
runs Eaft three miles from the Weft end, where it
is difcharged by a rapid river, and after running
two miles Weft, it again becomes ftill water. In
this river are two carrying-places, the one fifteete,
and the other one hundred and ninety paces. From
this to the Portage des Carpes is one mile North-
Weft, leaving a narrow lake on the Eaft that runs
parallel with the Lake des Couteaux, half its length,
where there is a carrying-place, which is ufed when
tfie water in the river laft mentioned is too low.
The Portage des Carpes is three hundred and ninety fteces, from whence the water fpreads irregularly between rocks, five miles North-Weft and
South-Eaft to the portage of Lac Bois Blanc, which
is ofie hundred and eighty paces. Then follows the
lake of that name, but I think improperly fo called,
H )jm        ' a§ *
66        .  A GENERAL HISTORY
as the natives name it the Lake Paffeau Minac
Sagaigan, or lake of Dry Berries.
Before the fmall pox ravaged this country, and
completed, what the Nodowafis, in their warfare,
had gone far to accomplifh, the deftruCtion of its
inhabitants, the population was very numeroujyl
this was alfo a favourite part, where they made
their canoes, &c. the lake abounding^ fifh, the
country round it being plentifully fupplied with
various kinds of game, and the rocky ridges, that
form the boundaries of the water, cqyered with a
variety of berries.
When the French were in pofleflio% of this
country, they had feveral trading eftablifhments on
the iflands and banks of this lake. Since that period, the few people remaining, who were of the
Algonquin nation, could hardly find fubfiftence;
game having become fo fcarce, that they depended
principally for food upon fifh, and wild rice which
grows fpontane^eufly in thefe parts.-
This lake is irregular in its form, ajid its utmoft
^tent from Eaft to Weft is fifteen miles; a poin?
of land, called Point au Pin, justing into it, divides
it in two parts : |t then makes a fecond angle at
the Weft end, to the lefler Portage de Bois Blanc,
two Jaundred paces in length. This channel is
not wide, and is intercepted by feveral rapids in
the courfe of a mile : it runs Wefl^orth-Weft to
the Portage des Pins, over which the canoe and
Jill OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.    Mm
lading is again carried four hundred paces.    From
hence the channel is alfo intercepted by very dangerous rapids for two miles Wefterly, to the point
of Pointe du Bois, which is two hundred and eighty
paces.    Then   fucceeds  the   Portage   of   Lake
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 figure.
It extends eighteen miles, in a meandering form,
and in a wefterty direction; it is in general  very*
narrow, and at about two-thirds of its length be*
comes very contracted, with a ftrong current.
Within three miles of the laft Portage is a remarkable rock, with a finooth face, but fplit and
cracked in different parts; which hang over the
water. Into one of its horizontal chafms a great
number of arrows have been fhot, which is faid to
have ^bee^ done by a war party of the Nadowafis
or Sieux, who had done much mifchief in this
country, and left thefe weapons as a warning to the
Chebois or natives, that, notwithstanding its lalffes,
rivers, and rocks, it was not inacceflible to their
Lake Croche is terminated by the Portage de
Rideau, four hundred paces long, and derives its
name from the appearance of the water, fal|ng
oarer a rock of upwards of thi&y feet. Several rapids fucceed, with intervals of ftill water, for about
t%?ee miles t§ the Flacon portage, which is very
L difficult, »■
difficult, is four hundred paces long, and leads to
the Lake of La Croix, fo named from its fhape.
It runs about North-Weft eighteen miles to the
Beaver Dam, and then finks into a deep bay nearly
Eaft. The courfe to the Portage is Weft by North
for fixteen miles more from the Beaver Dam, and
into the Eaft bay is a road which was frequented
by the French, and followed through lakes and
riverjf until they came to Lake Superior by the
river Caminiftiquia, thirty miles Eaft of the grand
Portage. :   'iffc- ' :■   w . ' ■     ■
Portage la Croix is fix 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 fix or feven miles
North-North-Weft, and by a narrow ftrait communicates with Lake Namaycan, which takes its
name from a particular place at the foot of a fall,
where the natives   fpear flurgeon :   Its courfe is
sibout North-North-Weft and South-South-Eaft,
with a bay running Eaft, that gives it the form of
a triangle : its length is about fixteen miles to the
Nouvelle Portage.    The difcharge of the lake is
from a bay on the left, and the portage one hundred and eighty paces, to which fucceeds a very
fmall river, from whence there is but a fhort diftance to the next  Nouvelle Portage, three hundred and twenty paces long.    It is then neceflary
to embark on a fwamp, or overflowed country,
where j|£bM*Kr,^B
where wild rice grows in great abundance. There
is a channel or fmall river in the centre of this
fwamp, which is kept with difficulty, and runs
South and North one mile and a half. With deepening water, the courfe continues North-North-
Weft one mile to the Chaudiere Portage, which is
caufed by the difcharge of the waters running on
the left of the road from Lake Namaycan, which
ufed to be the common route, but that which I
have defcribed is the fafeft as well as fhorteft.
From hence there is fome current though the water is wide fpread, and its courfe about North by
Weft three miles and an half to the Lac, de la
Pluie, which lies nearly Eaft and Weft; from
thence about fifteen miles is a narrow flrait that
divides the lake into two unequal parts, from
whence to its difcharge is a diftance of twenty-four
miles. There is a deep bay running North-Weft
on the right, that is not included, and is remarkable for furnifhing the natives with a kind of
foft, red ftone, of which they make their pipes; it
alfo affords an excellent fifhery both in the fummer
and winter; and from it is an eafy, fafe, and fhort
road to the Lake du Bois, (which I fhall mention
prefently) for the Indians to pafs in their fmall
canoes, through a fmall lake and on a fmall river
whofe banks furniih abundance of wild rice. The
difcharge of this lake is called Lake de la Pluie
River, at whofe entrance there is a rapid, below
which I
which is a fine bay, where there had been an ex-
tenfive picketted fort and building when poffeffed
by the French : the fite of it is at prefent a beautiful
meadow, furrounded with groves of oaks. From
hence there is a ftrong current for two miles, where
the water falls over a rock twenty feet, and, from
the confequent 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 prefent trading eflablifhment, fituated
on an high bank on the North, fide of the river,
in 48. BjA North latitude.
Here the people from Montreal come to meet
thofe who arrive from the Athabafca country, as
has been already defcribed, and exchange lading
with them. This is alfo the refidence of the firft,
chief, or Sachem, of all the Algonquin tribes, inhabiting the different parts of this country. He is by
diftinCtion called NeCtam, which implies' perfonal
pre-eminence. Here alfo the elders meet in conn*
cil to treat of peace or war.
This is one of the fineft rivers in the North-
Weft, and runs a courfe Weft and Eaft one hundred and twenty computed miles ; but in taking its
courfe and diftance minutely I make it only eighty.
Its banks are covered with a rich foil, particularly to
the North, which in many parts, are clothed with fine
open groves of oak, with the maple, the pine, and
the cedar. f The Southern bank, is not fo elevated, OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
ted, and difplays the maple, the white birch, and
the cedar, with the fpruce, the alder and various
underwood. Its waters abound in fiih, particularly
the flurgeon, which the natives both fpear and take
with drag-nets. But notwithftanding the promife
of this foil, the Indians do not attend to its cultivation, though they are not ignorant of the common procefs, and are fond of the Indian corn Jtwhen
they can get it from us.
' Though the foil at the fort is a ftiff clay, there is
a garden, which, unaflifted as it is by manure, or
any particular attention, is tolerably productive.
We now proceed to mention the Lake du Bois,
into which this river difcharges itfelf in latitude 49.
North, and was formerly famous for the richnefs of
its banks and waters, which abounded with whatever
was neceflary to a favage life. The French had
feveral fettlements in and about it; but it might be
almoft concluded, that fome fatal circumftance had
deftroyed the game, as war and the fmall pox had di-
minifhed the inhabitants, it having been very unproductive in animals fince the Britifh fubjeCts have
been engaged in travelling through it; though it
now appears to be recovering its priftine ftate. The
few Indians who inhabit it might live very comfortably, if they were not fo immoderately fond of
fpirituous liquors.
This lake is alfo rendered remarkable, in confe-
quence of the Americans having named it as the
BS3 if m\
in i
In   1
i I'ltftl III   ■
111 II
1   if
ill >
fpot, from which a line of boundary, between them
and Britifh America, was to run Weft, until it
ftruck the Miffiflippi; which, however, can never
happen, as the North-Weft part of the Lake du Bois
is inlatitude 49. 37. North, and longitude 94. 31.
Weft, and the Northernmoft branch of the fource
of the Miffiflippi is in latitude 47. 38, North, and
longitude g5. 6. Weft, afcertained by Mr. Thom-
fon, aftronomer to the North-Weft Company, who
was fent exprefsly for that purpofe in the fpring
of 1798, He, in the fame year, determined the
Northern bend of the Miflifoury to be in latii
tude47« 32. North, and longitude 101. 25. Weft;
and, according to the Indian accounts, it runs,to
the fouth of Weft, fo that if the Miflifoury were
even to be confidered as the Miffiflippi, noWefterfj
line could flrike it.
It does not appear to me to be clearly determll
ried what courfe the Line is to take, or from what
part of Lake Superior it ftrikes through the couri j
try to the Lake du Bois: were it to follow the principal waters to their fource, it ought to keep through
Lake Superior to the River St. Louis, and follow
that river to its fource; clofe to which is the fource
of the waters falling into the river of Lake la PluiJ|
which is a common route of the Indians to the
Lake du Bois : the St. Louis pafles within a fhort
diftance of a branch of the Miffiflippi, where it
hecomes navigable for canoes.    This will appear
more OF THE FUR TRADE, &c1        73
more evident from conf ulting the map; and if the
navigation of the Miffiflippi is confidered as of any
confequence, by this country, from that part of the
globe, fuch is the neareft way to get at it.
But to return to our narrative. The Lake du
Bois is, as far as I could learn, nearly round, and
the canoe courfe through the centre of it among a
clufter of iflands, fome of which are fo extenfive
that they may be taken for the main land> The
reduced courfe would be nearly South and North.
But following ^the navigating courfe, I make the
diftance feventy-five miles, though in a direct line
it would fall very fhort of that length. At about
two-thirds of it there is a fmall carrying-place,
when the water is low. The carrying-place out of
the lake is on an ifland, and named Portage du
Rat, in latitude 49. 37. North, and longitude 94J.
Weft, it is about fifty paces long. The lake difcharges itfelf at both ends of this ifland, and forms,
the River Winipic, which is a large body of water,
interfperfed with numerous iflands, caufing various
channels and interruptions ofiportages and rapids*
In fome parts it has the appearance of lakes, with
fteady currents; I eftimate its winding courfe to the
Dalles eight miles ; to the Grand Decharge twenty-
five miles and an half, which is a long carrying-
place for the gociis; from thence to the little De-
charge one mile and an half; to the Terre Jaune
Portage two miles and an half; then to its galet fe-
venty ill
venty 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
LIfle, where there is a trading-poll, and, about
eleven miles, on the North fhore, a trading efta-
blifhrnent, which is the road, in boa|f, to Albany
River, and from thence to Hudfon's Bay. There
is alfo a communication w||h Lake Superior,
through wha£ is called the Nipigan country, which
eliters that Lake about thirty-five leagues l£aft of
the Grande Portage. In fhort, the Country is fo
broken by lakes and rivers, that people may find their
way in canoes in any direction they pleafe. It is
now four miles to Portage de L'Ifle, which is but
fhoU, though feveral canoes have been loft in attempting to run the rapid. From thence it is
twenty-fix miles to Jacob's Falls, which are about
fifteen feeghigh; and fix miles and an half to the
woody point; forty yards from which is another
Portage. They both form an high fall, but not
perpendicular. ^Jftom thence to another galet, or
rocky Portag^g is abj^ut two miles; which is one
continual rapid and cafcade; and about two miles
further is the Chute a l'Efcla^, wjaich is upwards
of thirtyrfeet. The Portage is long, through a
point covered with wood : it is fist miles and an
half more to the barrier, and ten iniles to the Grand
Rapid. a|From'thence, on the Northtfide, is afafe
road, when the waters* are   high,   through   final!
rivers OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.        75
rivers and lakes, to the Lake du Bonnet, called the
Pinna,was, from the man who discovered it: to the
White River, fo called from its being, for a confix
derable length, a fucceflion of falls and cataracts,
is twelve miles. Here are feven portages, in fo
fhort a fpace, that the whole of them are difcerni-
ble at the fame moment. From this to Lake du
Bonnet is fifteen miles more, and four miles acrofs
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 fame
name is three miles. This Portage is near half a
league in length, and derives its name from a cuf-
tom the Indians have of crowning ftones, laid in a
circle, on the higheft rock in the portage, with
wreaths of herbage and branches. There have
been examples of men taking feven packages of
ninety pounds each, at one end of the portage, and
putting them d@wn at the other without flopping.
To this, another fmall portage immediately fucceeds, over a rock producing a fall. From thence
to the fall of Terre Blanche is two miles and an half;
to the firft portage Des Eaux qui remuent is three
miles; to the next, of the fame name, is but a few
yards diftant; to the third and laft, which is a De-
charge, is three miles and an half; and from this
to the laft Portage of the river one mile and an
half j and to the eftablifhment, or provifion houfe,
M 1 .  is Hi
is two miles and an half. Here alfo the French
had their principal inland depot, and got their canoes made.
It is here, that the prefent traders, going to great
diftances, and where provifion is difficult to procure,
receive a fupply to carry them to the Rainy Lake,
or Lake Superior. From the eftabliihment to the
entrance of Lake Winipic is four miles and an half,
latitude 50. 37. North. :;||:   r
The country, foil, produce, and climate, from
Lake Superior to this place bear a general referifB
blance, with a predominance of rock and water :
the former is of the granite kind. Where there is
any foil it is well covered wkh wood, fuch as oak,
elm, afh of different kinds, maple of two kinds^
pines of various defcriptions , aniong which are
what I call the cyprefs, with the hickory, iron-
wood, hard, poplar, cedar, black and white birch,
&c. &c. Vaft quantities of wild rice are feen
throughout the country, which the natives collect
in the month of Auguft for their winter flores. *
To the North of fifty degrees, it is hardly known,
or at leaft does not come to maturity.
Lake Winipic is the great refervoir of feveral
large rivers, and difcharges itfelf by the River
Nelfon into Hudfon's Bay.    The firft in rotation,
* The fruits are, ftrawberries, hurtleberries, plumbs, and
cherries,  hazlenut^ goofeberries, currants, rafpberries, poi-
res, &c.
next] OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.      I77
next to that I have juft defcribed, is the Affiniboin,
or Red River, which, at the diftance of forty miles
coaftwife, difembogues on the South-Weft fide of
the lake Winipic. It alternately receives thofe
two denominations from its dividing, at the diftance of about thirty miles from the lake, into two
large branches. The Eaftern branch, called the
Red River, runs in a Southern direction to near
the head waters of the Miififfippi. On this are
two trading eftablifhments, The country on either fide is but partially fupplied with wood, and
confifts of plains covered with herds of the buffalo
and the elk, efpecially on the Weftern fide. On
the Eaftern fide are lakes and rivers, and the whole
country is well wooded, level, abounding in beaver,
bears, moofe-deer, fallow-deer, &c. Sec. The natives, who are of the Algonquin tribe, are not very
numerous, and are considered as the natives of Lake
Superior.    This country being near the Miffiflippi,
is alfo inhabited by the Nadowafis, who are the na-
. ■tit**
tural enemies of the former; the head of the water
being the war-line, they are in a continual ftate of
hoftility; and though the Algonquins are equally
brave , the others generally out-number them; it
is very probable, therefore, that if the latter continue
to venture out of the woods, which form their only
protection, they will foon be extirpated. There is
not, perhaps, a finer country in the world for the
refidence of uncivilifed man, than that which occu-
M 2 pies ^
pies the fpace between this river and Lake Superior|
It abounds in every thing neceflary to the wants
and comforts of fuch a people. Fifh, venifon, and
fowl, with wild rice, are in great plenty ; while, at
the fame time, their fubfiftence requires that bodily
exercife fo neceflary to health and vigour.
This great extent of country was formerly very
populous, but from the information I received, the
aggregate of its inhabitants does not exceed three
hundred warriors; and, among the few whom I
faw, it appeared to me that the widows were more
numerous than the men.    The rackoon is a native
of this country, but is feldom found to the Northward of it. :'^m n -# ■   " ■ "Wm
The other branch is called after the tribe of the
Nadawafis, who here go by the name of Affini-
boins, and are the principal inhabitants of it.    It
runs from the North-North-Weft, and, in the latitude of 51}. Weft, and longitude 103!. rifing in
the fame mountains as the river Dauphin, of whicli
I fhall fpeak in due order.    They muft have feparated from their nation at a time beyond our knowledge, and live in peace with the Algonquins and
The country between this and the Red River,
is almoft a continual plain to the Miflifoury. The
foil is fand and gravel, with a flight intermixture
of earth, and produces a fhort grafs. Trees are
very rare; nor are there on the banks of the river
fufficient, OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.jt 79
fufficient, except in particular fpots, to build houfes
and fupply fire-wood for the trading eftablifhments,
of which there are four principal ones. Both thefe
rivers are navigable for canoes to their fource, without a fall; though in fome parts there are rapids,
caufed by occafional beds of lime-ftone, and gravel;
but in general they have a fandy bottom.
The Afliniboins, and fome of the Fall, or Big-
bellied Indians, are- the principal inhabitants of this
country, and border on the river, occupying the
centre part of it; that next Lake Winipic, and
about its fource, being the flation of the Algonquins and Knifleneaux, who have chofen 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 divifion
juft mentioned, as the lower'and upper parts of
this river have thofe animals, which are not found
in the intermediate diftrict.    They confine themfelves to hunting the buffalo, and trapping wolves,
which cover the country.    What they do not want
of the former for raiment and food, they fometimes
make into pemmican, or pounded meat, while they
melt the fat, and prepare the fkins in their hair, for
winter.    The wolves they never eat, but produce
a tallow from their fat, and prepare their fkins; all
which they bring to exchange for arms and ammunition, rum, tobacco, knives, and various baubles,
with thofe who go to traffic in their country.
In .1
I ill 1
So,        H GENERAL HISTORY |||
The Algonquins, and the Knifleneaux, on the
contrary, attend to the fur-hunting, fo that they
acquire the additional articles of cloth, blankets,
&c. but their paflion for rum often puts it out of
their power to fupply themfelves with real necef-
The next river of magnitude is the river Dauphin, which empties itfelf at the head of St. Martin's Bay, on the Weft fide of the Lake Winipic,
latitude nearly 52. 15. North, taking its fource in
the fame mountains as the laft-mentioned river, as
well as the Swan and Red-Deer River, the latter
paffing through the lake of the fame name, as we»
as the former, and both continuing their coufot
through the Manitoba Lake, which, from thence,
runs parallel with Lake Winipic, to within nine
miles of the Red River, and by what is called the
river Dauphin, difembogues its waters, as already
defcribed, into that Lake. Thefe rivers are verjt
rapid, and interrupted by falls, &c, the bed being
generally rocky. All this country, to the South
branch of the Safkatchiwine, abounds in beaver,
moofe-deer, fallow-deer, elks, bears, buffalos, &c*
The foil is good, and wherever any attempts have
been made to raife the efculent plants, &c. it has
been found productive.
On thefe waters are three principal forts for trade.
Fort Dauphin, which was eftablifbed by the French
before the conqueft.    Red-Deer River, and Swan-
11 OF THE FUR TRADE, &c. 8i
River Forts, with occafional detached pofts, from
thefe. The inhabitants are the Knifleneaux, from
the North of Lake Winipic; and Algonquins from
the country between the Red River and Lake Superior ; and fome 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 confiderable
river except the Safkatchiwine, which I fhall mention prefently, that empties itfelf into the Lake
Thofe on the North fide are inconfiderable,
owing to the comparative vicinity of the high land
that feparates the waters coming this way, from
thofe difcharging into Hudfon's bay. The courfe
of the lake is about Weft-North-Weft, and
South-South-Eaft, and the Eaft end of it is in 50.
37. North. It contracts at about a quarter of its
length to a ftrait, in latitude 51, 45. and is no more
than two miles broad, where the South fhore is
gained through iflands, and crofling various bays to
the difcharge of the Safkatchiwine, in latitude 53.
15. This lake, in common with thofe of this
country, is bounded on the North with banks
of black and grey rock, and on the South by a low,
level country, occafionally interrupted with a ridge
or bank of lime-ftones, lying in flratas, and rifing
to the perpendicular height of from twenty to forty
feet; 82
m iiii-i
feet; thefe are covered with a fmall quantity of
earth, forming a level furface, which bears timber,
but of a moderate growth, and declines to a fwam^|
Where the banks are low, it is evident in many
places that the waters are withdrawn, and never rife to
thofe heights which were formerly wafhed by them.
The inhabitants who are found along this lake||
are of the Knifleneaux and Algonquin tribes, and
but few in number, though game is not fcarce, and
there is fifh in great abundance. The black bafs
is found there, and no further Weft ; and beyond
it no maple trees are feen, either hard or foft.
On entering the Safkatchiwine, in the courfe of
a few miles, the great rapid interrupts the paffage.
It is about three mile's long. Through the great-
eft part of it the canoe is towed, half or full laden,
according to the ftate of the waters : the canoe and
its contents are then carried one thoufand one hundred paces. The channel here is near a mile
wide, the waters tumbling over ridges of rocks
that traverfe the river. The fouth bank is very
high, rifing upwards of fifty feet, of the fame rock
as feen on the South fide of the Lake Winipic,
and the North is not more than a third of that
height. There is an excellent flurgeon-fifhery
at the foot of this cafcade, and vaft numbers
of pelicans, cormorants, &c. frequent it, where
they watch to feize the fifh that may be killed
or difabled by the force of the waters.
About OF THE FUR TRADE, &c     §83
^ About two miles frorrl this Portage the navigation is again interrupted by the Portage of
the Rocher Rouge, which is an hundred yards
long; and a mile and half from thence the river
is barred by a range of iflands, forming rapids between them; and through thefe it is the fame diftance to the rapid of Lake Travers, which is four
miles right a£r©fs, and eight miles in length.
Then fucceeds the Grande Decharge, and feveral
rapids, for four miles to the Cedar Lake, which
is entered through a fmall channel on the left, formed by an ifland, as going round it would occafion
lofs of time. In this diftance banks of rocks
( fuch as have already been defcribed ), appear at
intervals on either fide ; the reft of the country is
low. This is the cafe along the South bank of the
lake and the iflands, while the North fide, which is
very uncommon, is level throughout. This lake
runs firft Weft four miles, then as much more
Weft-South-Weft, acrofs a deep bay on the right,
then fix miles to the Point de Lievre, and acrofe
another bay again on the right; then North-Weft
eight miles, acrofs a ftill deeper bay on the right ;
and feven miles parallel with the North coaft,
North-North-Weft through iflands, five miles more
to Fort Bourbon *, fituated on a fmall ifland, dividing this from Mud-Lake.      .
* This was alfo a principal poft of the French, who gave it
its name.
-—1 m
The Cedar Lake is from four to twelve riffles
wide, exclufive of the bays. Its banks are co-
vered with wood, and abound in game, and its
waters produce plenty of fifh, particularly the flur-
geon. The Mud-Lake, and the neighbourhood
of the Fort Bourbon, abound with geefe, duckaj
fwans, &c. and was formerly remarkable for a
vaft number of martens, of which it cannot now
boaft but a very fmall proportion.
The  Mud-Lake muft have formerly been a
part of the Cedar Lake, but the immenfe quantity of earth and fand, brought down by the Safkatchiwine, has filled up this part of it for a circumference whofe diameter is at leaft fifteen or twenty
miles : part of which .fpace is ftill covered with a
few feet of water,  but the greatefl proportion is
fhaded with   large treesf fuch as the iiard, the
fwamp-afh, and the willow.    This  land confifts
of many iflands, which confequently form various
channels, feveral of which are occafionally dry, and
bearing young wood.    It is, indeed, more than
probable that this river wiMy in the courfe of time,
convert the whole of the Cedar Lake into a forefl.
To the North-Weft the cedar is not to be found.
From this lake the Safkatchiwine may be con-
fidered as'havigable to near its fourcesih the rocky
mountains, for canoes, and without a carrying-
place, making a great bend to Cumberland Houfe,
on Sturgeon Lake.    From the confluence of its
North OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.        85
North and South branches its courfe is Wefterly;
fpreading itfelf, it receives feveral tributary ftreams,
and encompafles a large track of country, which
is level, particularly along the South branch, but
is little known.    Beaver, and other animals, whofe
furs are valuable, are amongft the inhabitants of
the North-Weft branch, and the plains are covered
wilh buffalos, wolves, and fmall foxes; particularly
about the South branch, which, however, has of
late claimed fome attention, as it is now underftood,
that where the plains terminate towards the rocky
mountain, there is a fpace of hilly country clothed
with wood, and inhabited alfo by animals of the
fur kind.    This has been actually determined to
be the cafe towards the head of the North branch,
where the trade has been carried to about the latitude 54. North, and longitude i*4f. Weft. The
bed and banks of the latter, in fome few places,
difcover a ftratum of free-ftone; but,  in general,
they are compofed of earth and fand.    The plains
are fand and gravel, covered with fine grafs, and
mixed with a fmall quantity of vegetable  earth.
Ttes is particularly observable along the North
branch, the Weft fide of which is covered with
There are on this river five principal factories
for the convenience of trade with the natives. Ne-
pawi Houfe, South-branch Houfe, Fort-George
Houfe, Fort-Auguftus Houfe, and Upper Efta-,
r*   4 Jp                   pi
1 11 ':li
1 1 ill 11
11 w\i
■ -"   X 'y
rill 1
M It
m I 31   |
11 iiil';
^  btT '                                              +
B il'Tl F     '
vi 1 li ill
1 •/
86        • A GENERAL HISTORY   *
blifhment. There have been many others, which,
from various caufes, have been changed for thefe,
while there are occafionally others depending on
each of them.
The inhabitants, from the information I could
obtain, are as follow :
At Nepawi, and South-Branch Houfe, about
thirty tents of Knifleneaux, or ninety warriors; and
fixty tents of Stone-Indians, or Affiniboins, 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 thofe
who trade at Forts George and Auguftus, and are
about eighty tents or upwards of Knifleneaux : on
either fide of the river, their number may be two
hundred. In the fame country are one hundred
and forty tents of Stone-Indians ; not quite half of
them inhabit the Weft woody country; the othoB
never leave the plains, and their numbers cannot be
lefs than four hundred and fifty men. At the
Southern Head-waters of the North branch dwells
a tribe called Sarfees, confifting of about thirty-five
tents, or one hundred and twenty men. Oppofite
to thofe Eaftward, on the head-waters of the South
Branch, are the Picaneaux, to the number of from
twelve to fifteen hundred men. Next to them, on
the fame water, are the Blood-Indians, of the fame
nation as the laft, to the number of about fifty
tents, or two hundred and fifty men.    From them
111 f
i OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.        87
downwards extend the Black-Feet Indians, of the
fame nation as the two laft tribes : their number
may bd 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 fix hundred warriors.
Of all thefe different tribes, thofe who inhabit
the broken country on the North-Weft fide, and
the fource of the North branch, are beaver hunters;
the others deal in provifions, wolf, buffalo, and fox
fkins ; and many people on the South branch
do not trouble themfelves to come near the trading
eftablifhments. . Thofe who do, choofe fuch eftablifhments as are next to their country. The
Stone-Indians here, are the fame people as the
Stone-Indians, or Afliniboins, who inhabit the river
of that name already defcribed, and both are detached tribes from the Nadawafis, who inhabit the
Weftern fide of the Miffiflippi, and lower part of
the Miflifoury. The Fall, or Big-bellied Indians,
are from the South-Eaft ward alfo, and of a people
who inhabit the plains from the North bend of the
laft mentioned river, latitude 47. 32. North, longitude 101. 25. Weft, to the South bend of the
Afliniboin River, to the number of feven hundred
men. Some of them occafionally come to the latter
river to exchange dreffed buffalo robes, and bad
wolf-fkins for articles of no great value,      :m
, , »
'■ The Picaneaux, Black-Feet, and Blood-Indians;,
are a diftinCt people, fpeak a language of their own,
and, I have reafon to think, are travelling North-
Weftward, as well as the others juft mentioned :
nor have I heard of any Indians with whofe language, that which they fpeak has any affinity.
They are the people who deal in Jiorfes and take
them upon the war-parties towards Mexico; from
which, it is evident, that the country to the South-
Eaft of them, confifts of plains, as thofe animals
could not well be conducted through an hilly and
woody country, interfedted by waters.
The Sarfees, who are but few in number, ap<
pear from their language, to come on the contrary
from the North-Weftward, and are of the fame
people as the Rocky-Mountain Indians defcribed in
my fecond journal, who are a tribe of the Chepewyans ; and, as for the Knifleneaux, there is no
queftion of their having been, and continuing to
be, invaders of this country, from the Eaftward.
Formerly, they ftruck terror into all the other tribes
whom they met; but now they have loft the refpeCt
that was paid them ; as thofe whom they formerly
confidered as barbarians, are now their allies, and
confequently become better acquainted with them,
and have acquired the ufe of fire-arms. The
former are ftill proud without power, and affect to
confider the others as their inferiors : thofe confequently are extremely jealous of them, and, depending OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.        89
pending upon their own fuperiority in numbers
will not fubmit tamely to their infults ; fo that the
confequences often prove fatal, and the Knifleneaux
are thereby decreafing both in power and number :
fpirituous liquors alfo tend to their diminution, as
they are inftigated thereby to engage in quarrels
which frequently have the moft difaftrous termination among themfelves.
The Stone-Indians muft not be confidered in
the fame point of view refpeCting the Knifleneaux,
for they have been generally obliged, from various
caufes, to court their alliance. They, however,
are not without their difagreements, and it is fometimes very difficult to compofe their differences.
Thefe quarrels occafionally take place with the
traders, and fometimes have a tragical conclufion.
They generally originate in confequence of flealing
women and horfes : they have great numbers of the
latter throughout their plains, which are brought,
as has been obferved, from the Spanifh fettlements
in Mexico; and many of them have been feen
even in the back parts of this country, branded with
the initials of their original owners names. Thofe
horfes are diftinctly employed as beafts of burden,
and to chafe the buffalo. The former are not confidered as being of much value, as they may be purchafed for a gun, which cofts no more than twenty-
one fhillings in Great-Britain. Many of the hunters cannot be purchafed with ten, the comparative
value, 1 H i
♦ alitii -
11 ma Ml i  i
H It i
II Willi
value of which exceeds the property of any native.
Of thefe ufeful animals no care whatever is taken,
as when they are no longer employed, they are
turned loofe winter and fummer to provide for
themfelves. Here, it is to be obferved, that the
country, in general, on the Weft and North fide
of this great river, is broken by the lakes and rivers
with fmall intervening plains, where the foil is
good, and the grafs grows to fome length. Tm
thefe the male buffalos refort for the winter, and if
it be very fevere, the females alfo are obliged to
leave the plains.
But to return to the route by which the progrefs
Weft and North is made through this continent.
We leave the Safkatchiwine * by entering the
river which forms the difcharge of the Sturgeon
Lake, on whofe Eaft bank is fituated Cumberland
houfe, in latitude 53. 56. North, longitude 102.
15. The diftance between the entrance and Cumberland houfe is eftimated at twenty miles. It is
very evident that the mud which is carried down
by the Safkatchiwine River, has formed the land
that lies between it and the lake, for the diftance
* It may be proper to obferve, that the French had tvm
fettlements upon the Safkatchiwine, long befort, and at the
conquefl of Canada ; the firft at the Pafquia, near Carrot River,
and the other at Nipawi, were they had agricultural inftru-
ments and wheel carriages, marks of both being found about
thofe eftablifhments, where the foil is excellent.
ofi OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.       91
of upwards of twenty miles in the line of the river,
which is inundated during one half of the fummer,
though covered with wood. This lake forms an
irregular horfe-fhoe, one fide of which runs to the
North-Weft, and bears the name of Pine-Ifland
Lake, and the other known by the name already
mentioned, runs to the Eaft of North, and is the
largeft : its length is about twenty-feven miles, and
its greateft breadth about fix miles. The North
fide of the latter is the fame kind of rock as that
defcribed in Lake Winipic, on the Weft fhore.
In latitude 54. 16. North, the Sturgeon-Weir
River difcharges itfelf into this lake, and its bed
appears to be of the fame kind of rock, and is almoft a continual rapid. Its direct courfe is about
Weft by North, and with its windings, is about
thirty miles. It takes its waters into the Beaver
Lake, the South-Weft fide of which confifts of the
.fame rock lying in thin ftratas : the route then
-proceeds ftom ifland to ifland for about twelve
miles, and along the North fhore, for four miles
more, the whole being a North-Weft courfe to
the entrance of a river, in latitude 54. 32, North.
The lake, for this diftance, is about four or five
miles wide, and abounds with fifh common to the
country. The part of it upon the right of that
which has been defcribed, appears more confide-
rable. The iflands are rocky, and the lake itfelf
furrounded by rocks.   The communication from
O hence Illifli .
hence to the Bouleau Lake, 'alternately narrows
into rivers and fpreads into fmall lakes. The interruptions are, the Pente Portage, which is fucceeded by the Grand Rapid, where there is a De-
charge, the Carp Portage, the Bouleau Portage in
latitude 54. 5o. North, including a diftance, together with the windings, of thirty-four miles, in
a Wefterly direction. The lake de Bouleau then
follows. This lake might with greater propriety,
be denominated a canal, as it is not mote than a
mile in breadth. Its courfe is rather to the Eaft
of Nor$h for twelve miles to Portage de rifle,
From thence there is ftill water to Portage d'Epi-
nettes, except an adjoining rapid. The diftanc™
not more than four miles Wefterly. After crofling
this Portage, fcis not m$re 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 feparated
from Lake du Chkique, or Pdfican Lake, by a
fhort, narrow, and fmall flrait. That lake is not
more than feven nobles long, and its courfe about
North-Weft. The Lake des Bois the$fc|ucceeds,
the paffage to wjnch is through fmall lakes, feparated by falls and rapids. The firft is a Deehargers
then follow the three galets, in immediate fuccef-
fion. From hence Lake des Bois runs about twenty one miles. Ife courfe is South-South-Eaft, and
North-North-Weft, and is full of iflands. The
.      N *     ' paffage OF THE FUR TRADE, &c. : fj
paffage continues through^ an intricate, narrow,
winding, and fhallow channel for eight miles. The
interruptions in this diftance are frequent, but depend much on the ftate of the waters. Having
pafled them, it is neceflary to crofs the Portage
de Traite, or, as it is called by the Indians, Athi-
quifipichigan Ouinigam, or the Portage of the
Stretched Frog-Skin, to the Miflinipi. The waters
already defcribed difcharge themfelves into Lake
Winipic, and augment thofe of the river Nelfon.
Thefe which we are now entering are called the
Miflinipi, or great Churchill River. -:|j|
All the country to the South eaft of this, within
the line of the progrefs that has been defcribed, is
interfperfed by lakes, hills, and rivers, and is full
of animals, df the fur-kind, as well as the moofe
deer. Its inhabitants are the Knifleneaux Indians,
who are called by the fervants of the Hudfon's-
Bay Company, at York, their home-guards.
The traders from Canada fucceeded for feveral
years in gettihg the largeft proportion of their
furs, till the year 1793, when the fervants of that
company thought proper to fend people amongft
them, ( and why they did not do it before is beft
known to themfelves), for the purpofe of trade
and fecuring their credits, which the Indians were
apt to forget. From the fhort diftance they had
to come, and the quantity of goods they fupplied,
the trade has, in a great meafure, reverted to them,
O 2 >
I i
rill r
as the merchants from Canada could not meet
them upon equal terms. What added to the lofs
of the latter, was the murder of one of their traders, by the Indians, about this period. Of thefe
people not above eighty men have been known to
the traders from Canada, but they confift ofJ|
much greater number.
The Portage de Traite, as has been already hinted, received its name from Mr. Jofeph Frobifh-
er, who penetrated into this part of the country
from Canada, as early as the years 1774 and 1775,
where he met with the Indians in the fpring, on
their way to Churchill, according to annual cuf-
tom, with their canoes full of valuable furs. They
traded with him for as many of them as his canoes could carry, and in confequence of this tranf-
aCtion, the Portage received and has fince retained its prefent appellation. He alfo denominated
thefe waters the Englifh River. The Miflinipi, is
the name which it received from the Knifleneaux,
when they firft came to this country, and either
deftroyed 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, ftretching, and
drying the fkins of thofe animals. And as a fign
of their derifion, they flretched the fkin of a frog
and hung it up at the Portage. This was, at that
time, the utmoft extent of their conqueft or warfa-
ring-progrefs OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.        95
ring-progrefs Weft, and is in latitude 55. 25.
North, and longitude 103I. Weft. The river
here, which bears the appearance of a, lake, takes
its name from the Portage, and is full of iflands.
It runs from Eaft to Weft about fixten miles, and
is from four to five miles broad. Then fucceded
falls and cafcades which form what k called the
grand rapid. From thence there is a fucceflion
of fmall lakes and rivers, interrupted by rapids and
falls, viz, the Portage de Bareel, the Portage
de L'Ifle, and that of the Rapid River. The
courfe is twenty miles from Eaft-South-Eaft to
North - North - Weft. The Rapid-River Lake
then runs Weft five miles, and is of an oval form.
The rapid river is the difcharge of Lake la Rouge,
where there has been an eftabjifhment for trade
from the year 1782. Since the fmall pox ravaged
thefe parts, there have been but few inhabitants ;
thefe are of the Knifleneaux tribe, and do not exceed thirty men. The direct navigation continues
to be through rivers and canals, interrupted by
rapids; and the diftance to the firft Decharge is
four miles, in a Wefterly direction. Then follows Lake de la Montagne, which runs South-
South-Weft three miles and an half, then North
fix miles, through narrow channels, formed by iflands, and continues North-North-Weft five miles,
to the portage of the fame name, which is no fooner crofled,  than another appears in fight, leading
to i
I 1
I ■    1 iLii' 11   J
Mi P
l SI
HI 1
L   i;!'il
t 1
• i 11
to the Otter Lake, from whence it is nine miles
Wefterly to the Otter Portage, in latitude 55. 39.
Between this and the Portage du Diable,  are feveral rapids, and the diftance three miles and an
half.    Then fucceeds the lake of the fame name,
running from South-Eaft to  North-Weft,  five
miles, and Weft four miles and an half.    There is
then a fucceflion of fmall lakes, rapids, and falldj
I producing the Portage des Ecors, Portage du Galet, and Portage des Morts, the whole comprehending a diftance of fix miles, to the lake of
the latter name.    On the left fide is a point covered with human bones, the relics of the fmallj
pox; which circumftance gave the Portage and
the lake this melancholy denomination.    Its courfe
is South-Weft fifteen miles, while its breadth does
not exceed three miles.    From thence a rapid rivel
leads to Portage de Hallier, which is followed bj]
Lake de L'Ifle d'Ours : it is, however, improperlji
called a lake, as it contains frequent impediments
amongft its iflands, from rapids.    There is a very
dangerous one   about the centre of it, which is
named the rapid qui ne park point, or that never
fpeaks, from its filent whirlpool-motion.    In fome
of the whirlpools the fuction is fo powerful, that
they are carefully avoided.    At fome diftance from
the filent rapid, is a narrow flrait, where the Indians have painted red figures on the face of a rock,
and where it was their cuflom formerly to make
an OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.       97
an offering of fome of the articles which they had
with them, in their way to and from Church^.
The courfe in this lake, which is very meandering,
may be eftimated at thirty-eight miles, and is terminated by the Portage du Canot Tourner, from the
danger to which thofe are.fubjeCt who venture to
run this rapid.    From thence a river of one mile
and an half North-Weft courfe leads to the Portage de Bouleau, and in about: half a mile to Por-   *
tage des Epingles, fo called from the fharpnefs of
its ftones.    Then follows the Lake des Sourfe, the
direction acrofs which is amongft iflands, North-
Weft by Weft fix miles.x   In this traverfe is an ifland, which is remarkable for a very large  flone,
in the form of a bear, on which the natives have
painted the head and fnout of that animal ;  and
here they alfo were formerly accuftomed to offer
facrifices.    This lake is feparated only by a narrow ftrait from the Lake du Serpent, which runs
North North-Weft feven miles, to a narrow channel, that connects it with another  lake,  bearing
the fame name, and running the fame courfe for
eleven miles, when the rapid of the fame denomi-      Jf
nation is entered on the Weft fide of the lake.
It is to be remarked here, that for about three or  *   <•*
four miles on the North-Weft fide of this lake,      m
there is an high bank of clay and fand, clothed
with cyprefs trees, a circumftance which is not ob-    *   '*
fervable on any lakes hitherto mentioned, as they        W     4
are   %m SB
are bounded, particularly on the North, by black
and grey rocks. It may alfo be confidered as a
moft extraordinary circumftance that the Chepewyans go North-Weft from hence to the barren grounds, which are their own country, without the afliflance of canoes; as it is well known
that in every other part which has been defcribed,
from Cumberland Houfe, the country is broken
on either fide of the direction to a great extent :
fo 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 alfo be found to be very much the cafe
in proceeding to Portage la Loche.
The laft mentioned rapid is upwards of threef
miles long, North-Weft by Weft ; there is, however, no carrying, as the line and poles are fufficient to drag up the canoe againft the current.
Lake Croche is then croffed in a Wefterly direction of fix miles, though its whole length may be
twice that diftance ; after which it contracts to
a river that runs Wefterly for ten miles, when it
forms a bend, which is left to the South, and entering a proportion of its waters called the Grafs
River, whofe meandering courfe is about fix miles,
but in a direct line not more than half that
length, where it receives its waters from the great
river, which then runs Wefterly eleven miles before it forms the Knee Lake,   whofe direction is
11.  Ill OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.        99
to the North of Weft.    It is full  of iflands for
eighteen miles, and its greateft apparent breadth
it not more than five miles.    The Portage of the
fame name is feveral hundred yards   long, and
over large ftones.    Its latitude is 55. 5o. and longitude 106. So.    Two miles further North is the
commencement of the Croche Rapid, which is a
fucceflion of cafcades for about three miles, making abend due South to the Lake du Frimeau,
whofe courfe is various, and through iflands, to
the diftance of about fifteen miles.    The banks
of this lake are low, ftony,  and marfhy, whofe
grafs and rufhes afford fhelter and food to great
numbers of wild fowl.    At its Weftern extremity
is Portage la Puife, from whence the river takes
a meandering courfe, widening and contracting at
intervals,   and  is  much interrupted   by   rapids.
After a Wefterly courfe of twenty miles, it reaches
Portage Pellet.    From hence, in  the courfe  of
feven miles, are  three rapids, to which fucceeds
the Shagoina Lake, which may be eighteen miles
in circumference.    Then Shagoina ftrait and rapid leads  into the Lake of Ifle a la Croffe, in
which the courfe is South twenty miles, and South-
South-Weft fourteen miles, to the Point au Sable;
oppofite to which is the difcharge of the Beaver-
River, bearing South fix milet; the lake in the diftance run, does not exceed  twelve   miles in its
greateft breadth.    It now turns Weft-South-Weft,
-   '        " P I • ¥       the
Ni ii
|ti|i.!l iii ;!
the ifle a la Croifee being on the South, and the
main land^on the North; and it clears the one and
the other in the diftance of three miles, the water
prefenting 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 Creufe, or Deep River,
being a canal of ftill water, which is here four
miles wide. On following the laft courfe, Ifle a
la Croffe Fort appears on a low ifthmus, at the
diftance of five miles, and is in latitude 55. 25,
North, and longitude 107. 48. Weft. 1H
This lake and fort take their names from the
ifland juft mentioned, which, as has been already
obferved, received it denomination from the game
of the crofs, which forms a principal amufement
among the natives.
The fituation of this lake, the abundance of the
fineft fifh in the world to be found in its waters,
the richnefs of furrounding banks and forefts, in
moofe and fallow deer, with the vaft numbers of
the fmaller tribes of animals, whole fkins are precious, and the numerous flocks of wild fowl that
frequent it in the fpring and fall, make it a moft
defirable fpot for the conftant refidence of fome,
and the occafional rendezvous of others of the inhabitants of the country, particularly of the Knifleneaux.
Who the original people were that were driven
from! OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.      101
from it, when conquered by the Knifleneaux is
not now known, as not a fingle veftige remains of
them. The latter, and the Chepewyans, are the
only people that have been known here; and it is
evident that the laft-mentioned confider themfelves
as ftrangers, and feldom remain longer than three
or four years, without vifiting their relations and
friends in the barren grounds, which they term
their native country. They were for fometime
treated by the Knifleneaux as enemies; who now
allow them to hunt to the North of the track
which has been defcribed, from Fort du Traite
upwards, but when the occasionally meet them,
they infift on contributions, and frequently punifh
refiftance with their arms. This is fometimes 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 occafion, which the Chepewyans on no other
account ever purchafe; and thofe only who have
had frequent intercourfe with the Knifleneaux
have any inclination to drink it.
When the Europeans firft penetrated into this
country, in 1777, the people of both tribes were
numerous, but the fmall pox was fatal to them all,
fo that there does not exift of the one, at prefent
more than forty refident families; and the other
has been from about thirty to two hundred families.
Thefe numbers are applicable to the conftant and
lefs ambitious inhabitants, who are  fatisfied with
P 2 the \
Hi il >W I
>   i II r
the quiet pofleflion of a country affording, without
rifk or much trouble, every thing neceflary to
their comfort; for fince traders have fpread themfelves over it, it is no more the rendezvous of
the errant Knifleneaux, part of whom ufed annually to return thither from the country of the
Beaver River, which they had explored to its fource
in their war and hunting excurfions and as far as
the Safkatchiwine, where they fometimes met people of their own nation, who had profecuted fimilar conquefts up that river. In that country
they found abundance of fifh and animals, fuch
as have been already defcribed, with the addition
of the Buffalos, who range in the partial patches
of meadow fcattered along the rivers and lakes.
From thence they returned in the fpring to the
friends whom they had left; and, at the fame' time
met with others who had penetrated, with the fame
defigns, into the Athabafca country, which will be
defcribed hereafter.
The fpring was the period of this joyful meeting, when their time was occupied in feafting,
dancing, and ocher paftimes, which were occasionally fufpended for facrifice, and religious foJenV
nity : while the narratives of their travels, and the
hiftory of their wars, amufed and animated the
feftival. The time of rejoicing was but fhort, and
was foon interrupted by the neceflary preparations
for their annual journey to Churchill, to exchange
their OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
their furs for fuch European articles as were now become neceflary to them. The fhortnefs of the feafon s, and the great length of their way requiring the
utmoft difpatch, the moft aCtive men of the tribe,
with their youngeft women, and a few of their children undertook the voyage, under the direction of
fome of their chiefs, following the waters already
defcribed, to their difcharge at Churchill Factory,
which are called, as has already been obferved, the
Miflinipi, or Great Waters. There they remained
no longer than was fufficient to barter their commodities, with a fupernumerary day or two to gratify themfelves with the indulgence of fpirituous
liquors. At the fame time the inconfiderable
quantity they could purchafe to carry away with
them, for a regale with their friends, was held facred, and referved to heighten the enjoyment of
their return home, when the amufements, feflivity,
and religious folemnities of the fpring were repeated.
The ufual time appropriated to thefe convivialities
being completed, they feparated, to purfue their
different objects ; and if they were determined to
go to war, they made the neceflary arrangements
for their future operations.
But we muft now renew the progrefs of the route.
It is not more than two miles from Ifle a la Croffe
Fort, to a point of land which forms a cheek of
that part of the lake called the Riviere Creufe, which
preferves the breadth already mentioned for upwards \
wards of twenty miles; then contracts to about two,
for the diftance of ten miles more, when it opens
to Lake Clear, which is very wide, and commands
an open horizon, keeping the Weft fhore for fix
miles. The whole of the diftance mentioned is
about North-Weft, when, by a narrow, crooked
channel, turning to the South of Weft, the entry is
made into Lake du Boeuf, which is contracted
near the middle, by a projecting fandy point; independent of which it may be defcribed as from
fix to twelve miles in breadth, thirty-fix miles long,
and in a North-Weft direction. At the North-
Weft end, in latitude 56. 8. it receives the waters of the river la Loche, which, in the fall of the
year, is very fhallow, and navigated with difficulty
even by half-laden canoes. Its water is not fuffi-i
cient to from ftrong rapids, though from its rocky
bottom the canoes are frequently in confiderable
danger. Including its meanders, the courfe of this.
river may be computed at twenty-four miles, and
receives its firft waters from the lake of the fame
name, which is about twenty miles long, and fix
wide; into which a fmall river flows, fufficient to
bear loaded canoes, for about a mile and an hal£
where the navigation ceafes; and the canoes, with
their lading, are carried over the Portage la Loche
for thirteen miles.
This portage is the ridge that divides the waters
which difcharge themfelves into Hudfon's Bay, from
thofe OF THE FUR TRADE, &c. 105
thofe that flow into the Northern ocean, and is in
the latitude 56. 20. and longitude 109. 15. Weft.
It runs South Weft until it lofes its local height
between the Safkatchiwine and Elk Rivers; clofe
on the bank of the former, in latitude 53. 36. North,
and longitude 113. 45. Weft, it may be traced in
an Eafterly direction toward latitude 58.12. North,
and longitude io3f. Weft, when it appears to take
its courfe due North, and may probably reach the
Frozen Seas.
From Lake le Souris, the banks of the rivers and
lakes difplay a fmaller portion of folid rock. The
land is low and ftony, intermixed with a light,
fandy foil, and clothed with wood. That of the
Beaver River is of a more productive quality : but
no part of it has ever been cultivated by the natives or Europeans, except a fmall garden at the Ifle
a la Croffe, which well repaid the labour beftowed
upon it.
The Portage la Loche is of a level furface, in
fome parts abounding with ftones, but in general
it is an entire fand, and covered with the cyprefs,
the pine, the.fpruce fir, and other trees natural to
its foil. Within three miles of the North-Weft
termination, there is a fmall round lake, whofe diameter does not exceed a mile, and which affords a
trifling refpite to the labour of carrying. Within
a mile of the termination of the Portage is a very
fteep precipice, whofe afcent and defcent appears
to •Ill
111 I
to be equally impracticable in any way, as it con-
fifts of a fucceflion of eight hills, fome of which are
almoft perpendicular ; neverthelefs, the Canadians
contrive to furmount all thefe difficulties, even with
their canoes and lading.
This precipice, which rifes upwards of a thoufand feet above the plain beneath it, commands a
moft extenfive, romantic, and ravifhing profped.
From thence the eye looks down on the courfe of
the little river, by fome 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 refrefhed and adorned
by it, is about three miles in breadth, and is confined by two lofty ridges of equal height, difplaying
a moft delightful intermixture of wood and lawn,
and ftretching on till the blue mift obfcures the
profpeCt. Some parts of the inclining heights are
covered with flately forefts, relieved by promontories of the fineft verdure, where the elk and buffalo find pafture. Thefe are contrafted by fpots
where fire has deftroyed the woods, and left a dreary void behind it. Nor, when I beheld this wonderful difplay of uncultivated nature, was the moving fcenery of human occupation wanting to complete the picture. From this elevated fituatioji, I
beheld my people, diminifhed, as it were, to half
their fize, employed in pitching their tents in a
charming meadow, and among the canoes, which,
being OF THE FUR TRADE, &c. 107
being turned upon their fides, prefented their reddened bottoms in contraft with the furroundiqg
verdure. At the fame time, the procefs of gumming them produced numerous fmall fpires of
fmoke, which, as they rofe, enlivened the fcene,
and at length blended with the larger columns that
afcended from the fires where the fuppers were preparing. It was in the month of September when
I enjoyed a fcene, of which I do not prefume to
give an adequate defcription ; and as it was the rut-
tine feafon of the elk, the whittling of that animal
was heard in all the variety which the echoes could
afford it.
This river, which waters and reflects fuch enchanting fcenery, runs, including its windings, upwards of eighty miles, when it difcharges itfelf in
the Elk River, according to the denomination of
the natives, but commonly called by the white
people, the Athabafca River, in latitude 56. 42.
At a fmall diftance from Portage la Loche, feveral carrying-places interrupt the navigation of
the river i about the middle of which are fome mineral fpriftgs, whofe margins are covered with ful-
phureous, incruftations. At the junction or fork,
the iElk River is about three quarters of a mile in
breadth, and runs in a fteady current, fometimes
contracting, but never increafing its channel, till,
after receiving feveral fmall ftreams, it difcharges
t&t  Q. "T'i 1    * ttfer \
itfelf into the Lake of the Hills, in latitude 58; 36.
North.    At about twenty-four miles  from  the
Fork, are fome bitumenous fountains, into which
a pole of twenty feet long may be inferted without
the leaft refiftance.    The bitumen is in a fluid ftate,
and when mixed with gum, or the refinous fubftance collected from the fpruce fir, ferves to gum
the canoes.    In its heated ftate it emits a fmell
like that of fea-coal.    The banks of the river,
which are there very elevated, difcover veins of the
fame bitumenous quality.    At a fmall diftance
from the Fork, houfes have been erected for the
convenience of trading with a party of the Knifleneaux, who vifit the adjacent country for the purpofe of hunting.
At the diftance of about forty mites from the
lake, is the Old Eftablifhment, which has been
already mentioned, as formed by Mr. Pond in the
year 1778-9, and which was the only one in this
part of the world, till the year 1785. In the year j
1788, is was transferred to the Lake of the Hills, l
arid formed on a point on its Southern fide, at about
eight miles from the difcharge of the river. It was
named Fort Chepewyan, and is in latitude 58. 38.
North, longitude no. 26. Weft, And much better
fituatea for trade and fifhing, as the people here
have recourfe to water for their fupport.
Tnis being the^place which I made my head*
quarters for eigfit years, and from whence I took
mj OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.      109
my departure, on both my expeditions, I fhall give
feme account of it, with the manner of carrying on
the trade there, and other circumfiances connected
with it.
. The laden eanoes which leave Lake la Pluie
about the firft of Auguft, do not arrive here till the
latter end of September, or the beginning of October, when a neceflary proportion of them is difpatched up the Peace River to trade with the Beaver
and Rocky-Mountain Indians. Others are fent to
the Slave River and Lake, or beyond them, and
traffic with the inhabitants of that country. A
fmall part of them, if not left at the Fork of th
Elk River, return thither for the Knifleneaux,
while the reft of the people and merchandife remain
here to carry on trade with the Chepewyans.
Here have I arrived with ninety or an hundred
men without any provifion for their fuftenance ;
for whatever quantity mi^ht have been obtained
from the natives during the fummer, it could not
be more than fufficient for the people difpatched to
their different pofts; and even if there were a ca-
fual fuperfluity, it was abfolutely neceflary to pre-
ferve it untouched, for the demands pf the fpring.
The whole dependance, therefore, of thofe who remained, was on the lake, and fifhing implements
for the means of our fupport. § The nets are fixty
fathom in length, when fet, and contain fifteen
mefhes of five inches in depth. * The manner of
ufins; \
ufing; them is as follows : A fmall flone and wood-
en buoy are fattened to the fide-line oppofite to
each other, at about the diftance of two fathoms:
when the net is carefully thrown into the water,
the flone finks it to the bottom, while the buoy
keeps it at its full extent, and it is fecured in its
fituation by a flone at either end. The nets are
vifited every day, anoV 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
froft has fet in, and the ice has acquired its greateft
thicknefs, which is fometimes as much as five feet,
holes are cut in it at the diftance of thirty feet from
each other, to the full length of the net; one of
them is larger than the reft, being generally about
four feet fquare, and is called the bafon : by means
of them, and poles of a proportionable length, the
nets are placed in and drawn out of the water. The
fetting of hooks and lines is fo fimple an employment as to render a defcription unneceflary. The
white fifh are the principal object of purfuit : they
fpawn in the fall of the year, and, at about the fetting in of the hard froft, crowd in fhoals to theihal-
low water, when as many as poflible are taken, in
order that a portion of them may be laid by inlthe
froft to provide againft the fcarcity of winter ; as,
during that feafon, the fifh of every defcription de-
creafe in the lakes, if they do not altogether difap-
pear. Some have fuppofed that during this period
<. they OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
they are ftationary, or affume an inactive ftate. If
there fhould be any intervals of warm weather during the fall, it is neceflary to fufpend the fifh by the
tail, though they are not fo good as thofe which are
altogether preferved by the froft. In this ftate
they remain to the beginning of April, when they
have been found as fweet as when they were
caught. *
Thus do thefe voyagers live, year after year, entirely upon fifh, without even the quickening flavour of fait, or the variety of any farinaceous root
or vegetable. Salt, however, if their habits had
not rendered it unneceflary, might be obtained in
this country to the Weftward of the Peace River*
where it lofes its name in that of the Slave River,
from the numerous fait-ponds and fprings to be
found there, which will fupply in any quantity, in
a ftate of concretion, and perfectly white and clean.
When the Indians pafs that way they bring a
fmall quantity to the fort, with other articles of
- During a fhort period of the fpring and fall,
great numbers of wild fowl frequent this country,
which prove a very gratifying food after fuch a
long privation of fleih-meat.    It is remarkable,
* This fifhery requires the moft unremitting attention, as
the voyaging Canadians are equally indolent, extravagant, and
improvident, when left to themfelves, anp1 rival the favages in a
neglect of the morrow.
however. \
however, that the Canadians who frequent th«
Peace, Safkatchiwine, and Affiniboin rivers, and
live altogether on venifon, have a lefs healthy appearance than thofe whofe fuftenance is obtained
from the waters. At the fame time the fcurvy is
wholly unknown among them.
In the fall of the year the natives meet the traders at the forts, where they barter the furs or provifions 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 fame manner
and come back 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 of ice, that they may kill therewith fire-armff
which the Chepewyans are averfe to employ.
The major part of the latter return to the barrel}
grounds, and live during the fummer with their
relations and friends in the enjoyment of that
plenty which is derived from numerous herds of
deer. But thofe of that tribe who are moft partial
to thefe defarts, cannot remain there in winter,
and they are obliged, with the deer, to take fhelter
in the woods during that rigorous feafon; wheij
they contrive to kill a few beavers, and fend them
by young men, to exchange for iron utenfils and
Till the year   1782, the people of Athabafca
1 OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.      113
fent or carried their furs regularly to Fort Churchill, Hudfon's Bay; and fome of them have, fince
that time, repaired thither, notwithstanding they
could have provided themfelves with all the ne-
ceflaries which they required. The difference of
the price fet on goods here and at that factory,
made it an objeCt with the Chepewyans, to undertake a journey of five or fix months, in the courfe
of which they were reduced to the moft painful
extremities, and often loft their lives from hunger
and fatigue. At prefent, however, this traffic is
in a great meafure difcontinued, as they were
obliged to expend in the courfe of their journey,
that very ammunition which was its moft alluring
object. *\%
Some Account of the Knisteneaux Indians.
THESE people are fpread over a vaft extent of
country. Their language is the fame as that of
the people who inhabit the coaft of Britifh America on the Atlantic, with the exception of the Efquimaux*, and continues along' the Goaft of La-
* The fimilarity between their language, and that of the
Algonquins, is an unequivocal proof that they are the fame
people. Specimens of their refpe&ive tongues will be hereafttf
brador, if
brador, and the gulph and banks of St. Lauranca
to Montreal.    The line then follows the Utawas
river to its fource;  and continues  from thence
nearly Weft along the high lands which divide the
waters that fall into Lake Superior and Hudfon's
Bay.    It then  proceeds' till it ftrikes the middl^
part of the river Winipic, following that water
through the Lake Winipic, to the difcharge of
the Safkatchiwine into it \ from thence it accompanies the latter to Fort George, Mhen the line,
ftriking by the head of the Beaver River to pie
Elk River, runs along its banks to its difchargi in
the Lake of the Hills; from which it may be carried back Eaft, to the Ifle a la Croffe, and fo on
to Churchill by the Miflinipi.    The whole of the
tract  between this line and Hudfon's Bay and
Straits, ( except  that of the  Efquimaux in Ihe
latter ), may be faid to be exclufively the country
of the Knifleneaux. J Some of them, indeed, have
penetrated further Weft  and South to the Red1
River, to the South of L&ke   Winipic,  and the
South branch of the Safkatchiwine.
They are of a moderate ftature, well proportioned,
and of great activity. Examples of deformity are
feldom to be feen 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 feveral tribes, and by fome is left in
H the OF THE FUR TRADE, &c;|   115
the long, lank, flow of nature. They very generally extract their beards, and both fexes manifeft
a difpofition to pluck the hair from every part of
the body and limbs. Their eyes are black, keen,
and penetrating; their countenance open and
agreeable, and it is a principal object of their vanity to give every poflible decoration to their perfons. A material article in their toilettes is vermilion, which they contraft with their native blue,
white, and brown earths, to which charcoal is frequently added.
Their drefs is at onoe fimple and commodious.
It confifts of tight leggins, reaching near the hip :
a ftrip of cloth or leather, called aflian, about a
foot wide, and five feet long, whofe ends are drawn
inwards and hang behind and before, over a belt
tied round the waift for that purpofe : a clofe veft
or fhirt reaching down to the former garment, and
cinctured with a broad ftrip of parchment fattened
with thongs behind ; and a cap for the head, con-?
fifting of a piece of fur, or fmall fkin, with the
brufh of the animal as a fufpended ornament : a
kind of robe is thrown occafionally over the whole
of the drefs, and ferves both night and day.
Thefe articles, with the addition of fhoes and mittens, conftitute the variety of their apparel. The
materials vary according to the feafon, and confift
of dreffed moofe-fkin, beaver prepared with the fur,
or   European  woollens.    The leather  is neatly
R painted,
1 \
■ ■■<
ii ill
painted, and fancifully worked in fome parts with
porcupine quills, and moofe-deer hair : the fhirts
and leggins are alfo adorned with fringe and taffels;
nor are the ihoes and mittens without fomewhat of
appropriate decoration, and worked with a confi-
derable degree of fkill and tafte. Thefe habiliments are put on, however, as fancy or convenience
fuggefts; and they will fometimes proceed to the
chafe in the fevereft froft, covered only with the
flighteft ofthemr Their head-drefles are compofed
of the feathers of the fwan, the eagle, and other
birds. The teeth, horns, and claws of different
animals, are alfo the occafional ornaments of the
head and neck. Their hair, however arranged, is
always befmeared with greafe. The making of
every article of drefs is a female occupation; and
the women, though by no means inattentive to
the decoration of their own perfons, appear to have
a ftill greater degree of pride in attending to the
appearance of the men, whofe faces are painted
with more care than thofe of the women.
The female drefs is formed of the fame materials as thofe of the other fex, but of a different
make and arrangement. Their fhoes 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 faftened over the
fhoulders with cords, a flap or cape turning down
about eight inches, both before and behind, and
agreeablj OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.      117
agreeably ornamented with quill-work and fringe;
the bottom is alfo fringed, and fancifully painted
as high as the knee. As it is very loofe, it is en-
clofed round the waift with a ftiff belt, decorated
with taflels, and fattened behind. The arms are
covered to the wrift, with detached fleeves, which
are fewed 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
waift. The cap, when they wrear one, confifts of
a certain quantity of leather or cloth, fewed at one
end, by which means it is kept on the head, and
hanging down the back, is faftened 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 fometimes faftened in large knots over the ears. They
are fond of European articles, and prefer them to
their own native commodities. Their ornaments
confift in common with all favapjes, in bracelets,
rings, and fimilar baubles. Some of the women
tatoo three perpendicular lines, which are fometimes double : one from the centre of the chin to
that of the under lip, and one parallel on either
fide to the corner of the mouth.
Of all the nations which I have feen on this continent, the Knifleneaux women are the moft comely.    Their figure is generally well proportioned
and the regularity of their features would be ac^
knowledge^ \
i   i
knowledged by the more civilized people of Europe.
Their complexion has lefs of that dark tinge which
is common to thofe favages who have lefs cleanly
Thefe people are, in general, fubjeCt to few di£
orders. The lues venerea, however, is a common
complaint, but cured by the application of fimples,
with whofe virtues they appear to be well acquainted. They are alfo fubjeCt to fluxes, and
pains in the breaft, which fome have attributed to
the very cold and keen air which they inhale; but
I fhould imagine that thefe complaints muft frequently proceed from their immoderate indulgence
in fat meat at their feafts, particularly when they
have been preceded by long failing.
They are naturally mild and affable, as well as
juft in their dealings, not only among themfelves,
but with ftrangers. * They are alfo generous and
hofpitable, and good-natured in the extreme, except
when their nature is perverted by the inflammatory
influence of fpirituous liquors. To their children
they are indulgent to a fault. The father, though
he aflumes no command over them, is ever anxious
to inftruct them in all the preparatory qualifications
for war and hunting; while the mother is equally
* They have been called thieves, but when vice can with
juftice be attributed to them, it may be traced to their connection with the civilized people who come into their country to
attentive i—
OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.      119
attentive to her daughters in teaching them every
thing that is confidered as neceflary to, their character and fituation. It does not appear that the
hufband makes any diftinCtion between the children of his wife, though they may be the offspring of different fathers. Illegitimacy is only attached to thofe who are born before their mothers
have cohabited with any man by the title of hufband. it!
It does riot' appear, that chaftity is confidered by
them as a virtue; or that fidelity is believed to be
effential to the happinefs of wedded life. Though
it fometimes happens that the infidelity of a wife is
punifhed by the hufband with the lofs of her hair,
"nofe, and perhaps life 1 fuch feverity proceeds from
its having been praCtifed without his permiflion :
for a temporary interchange of wives is not uncommon ; and the offer of their perfons is confidered
as a neceflary part of the hbfpitality due to ftrangers.
When a man lofes his wife, it is confidered as a
duty to marry her fiftef, if fhe has one; or he may,
if he pleafes, have them both at the fame time.
It will appear from the fatal confequences I have
repeatedly imputed to the ufe of fpirituous liquors,
that I more particularly confider thefe people as
having been, morally fpeaking, great fufferers from
their communication with the fubjeCts of civilized
nations.    At the fame tiiie they were not, in a
ftate \
ftate of nature, without their vices, and fome of
them of a kind which is the moft abhorrent to cultivated and reflecting man. I fhall only obferve
that incefi and befliality are common among them.
When a young man marries, he immediately
goes to live with the father and mother of his wife,
who treat him, neverthelefs, as a perfect ftranger,
till after the birth of his firft child : he then attaches himfelf more to them than his own parents;
and his wife no longer gives him any other deno*
ruination than that of the father of her child.
The profeflion of the men is. war and hunting,
and the more active fcene of their duty is the field
of battle, and the chafe in the woods. They alfo
ipear fifh, but the management of the nets is left to
the women. The females of this nation are in the
farpe fubordinate ftate with thofe of all other favage
tribes ; but the feverity of their labour is much di-
minifhed by their fituation on the banks of lakes
and rivers, where they employ canoes. In the
winter, when the waters are frozen, they make
their journies, which are never of any great length,
with fledges drawn by dogs. They are, at the
fame time fubjeCt to every kind of domeftic drudgery : they drefs the leather, make the clothes and
fhoes, weave the nets, collect wood, erect the tents,
fetch water, and perform every culinary fervice; fo
that when the duties of maternal care are added, it
will appear that the life of thefe women is an uninterrupted 121
terrupted fucceflion of toil and pain. This, indeed, is the fenfe they entertain of their own fituation ; and, under the influence of that fentiment,
they are fometimes known to deftroy their female
children, to fave them from the miferies which they
themfelves have fuffered. They alfo have a ready
way, by the ufe of certain fimples, of procuring
abortions, which they fometimes practife, from
their hatred of the father, or to fave themfelves the
trouble which children occafion.: 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 folemn
ceremonials, with fmoking, and are concluded by
a feaft. The body is dreffed in the beft habiliments poffeffed by the deceafed, or his relations, and
is then depofited in a grave, lined with branches :
fome domeftic utenfils are placed on it, and
a kind of canopy erected over it. During this ceremony, great lamentations are made, and if the
departed perfon is very much regretted the near relations cut off their hair, pierce the flefhy part of
their thighs and arms with arrows, knives, &c. and
blacken their faces with charcoal. If they have
diftinguifhed themfelves in war, they are fometimes
laid on a kind of fcaffolding; and I have been informed that women, as in the Eaft, have been
known to facrifice themfelves to the manes of their
hufbands. ■Mm
ft    'Hill
;      „
hufbands. The whole of the property belonging
to the departed perfon is deftroyed, and the relations take in exchange for the wearing apparel,
any rags that will cover their nakednefs. The feaft
beftowed on the occafion, which is, or at leaft ufed
to be, repeated annually, is accompanied with eu-
logiums on the deceafed, and without any acts of
ferocity. On the tomb are carved or painted the
fymbols of his tribe, which are taken from the different animals of the country.
Many and various are the motives which induce
a favage to engage in war. To prove his courage,
or to revenge the death of his relations, or fome of
his tribe, by the maffacre of an enemy. If the tribe
feel themfelves called upon to go to war, the elders
convene the people, in order to know the general
opinion. If it be for war, the chief publifhes fiis
intention to fmoke in the facred ftem at a certain
period, to which folemnity, meditation and falling
are required as preparatory ceremonials. When
the people are thus aflembled, and the meeting
fanCtified by the cuflom of fmoking, the chief enlarges on the caufes which have called them together, and the neceflity of the meafures propofed on
the occafion. He then invites thofe who are willing to follow him, to fmoke out of the facred ftem,
which is confidered as the token of enrollment; and
if it fhould be the general opinion, that afliflance is
neceflary, others are invited, with great formality,
II a&t to
If   ii?!
!'■ ) OF THE FUR TRADE, &c;      123
to join them. Every individual who attends thefe
meetings brings fomething with him as a token of
his warlike intention, or as an object of facrifice,
which, when the aflembly diffolves, is fufpended
from poles near the place of council.
They have frequent feafts, and particular circumfiances never fail to produce them ; fuch as a
tedious illnefs, Ipng faffing, &c. On thefe occafions it is ufual for the perfon who means to give
the entertainment, to announce his defign, on a
certain day, of opening the medicine bag and fmoking out of his facred ftem. This declaration is
confidered as a facred vow that cannot be-broken.
There are alfo flated periods, fuch as the fpring
and autumn, when they engage in very long and
folemn ceremonies. On thefe occafions dogs are
offered as facrifices, and thofe which are very fat,
and milk-white, are preferred. They alfo make
large offerings of their property, whatever it may
be. The fcene of thefe ceremonies is in an open
inclofure on the bank of a river or lake, and in
the moft confpicuous fituation, in order that fuch
as are paffing along or travelling, may be induced
to make their offerings, There is alfo a particular
cuflom among them, that, on thefe occafions, if
any of the tribe, or even a ftranger, fhould be paffing by, and be in real want of any thing that is
difplayed as an offering, he has a right to take it,
fo that he replaces it with fome article he can fpare,
S though \
j 24   '    . A GENERAL HISTORY   .    M.
though it be of far inferior value ; but to take of
touch any thing wantonly is confidered as a facri-
legious act, and highly infulting to the great Matter of life, to ufe their own expreflion, who is the
facred object of their devotion.
The fcene of private facrifice is the lodge of the
perfon who performs it, which is prepared for that
purpofe by removing every thing out of it, and
fpreading green branches in every part. The fire
and afhes are alfo taken away. A new hearth is
made of frefh earth, and another fire is lighted,
The owner of the dwelling remains alone in it; and
he begins the ceremony by fpreading a piece of
new cloth, or a well-d||fled moofe-fkin neatly
painted, on which he opens his medicine-bag and
expofes its contents, confifting of various armies*
The principal of them is a kind of houfehold god,
which is a fmall carved image about eight inches
long. Its firft covering is of down, over which a
piece of beech bark is clofely tied, and the whole
is enveloped in feveral folds of red and blue cloth,
This lit tie. figure is an objeCt of the moft pious
regard. The next article is his war-cap, which is
decorated with the feathers and plumes of fcarce
birds, beavers, and eagle's claws, &c. There is
alfo fufpended from it a quill or feather for every
enemy whom the owner of it has flain in battle.
The remaining contents of the bag are, a piece of
Brazil tobacco, feveral roots andJimples, which
^i C3 arc
> I OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.      M
are in great eftimation for their medicinal qualities,
and a pipe. Thefe articles being all expofed, and
the ftem refting upon two forks, as it muft not
touch the ground, the mailer of the lodge fends
for the perfon he moft efteems, who fits down oppofite to him; the pipe is then filled and fixed to
the ftem. A 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 confumed. This arrangement being made,
the men affemble, and fometimes the women are
allowed to be humble fpectators, while the moft
religious awe and folemnity pervades the whole.
The Michiniwais, or Afliftant, takes up the pipe,
lights it, and prefents it to the officiating perfon,
who receives it Handing and holds it between both
his hands. He then turns himfelf to the Eaft,
and draws a few whiffs, which he blows to that
point. The fame ceremony he obferves to the
other three quarters, with his eyes directed upwards
during the whole of it. He holds the ftem about
the middle between the three firft fingers of both
hands, and raifing them upon a line with his forehead, he fwings it three timei round from the Eaft,
with the fun, when, after pointing and balancing it
in various directions, he repofes it on the forks :
he then makes a fpeech to explain the defign of
their being called together, which concludes with
an acknowledgment of paft mercies, and a prayer \
for the continuance of them, from the mailer of
Jtife. He then fits down, and the whole company
declare their approbation and thanks by uttering
the word bo! with an emphatic prolongation of
the laft letter. ^| The Michigiwais then takes up
the pipe and holds it to the mouth of the officiating perfon, who, after fmoking three whiffs out of
it, utters a fhort prayer, and then goes round with
it, taking his courfe from Eaft to Weft, to every
perfon prefent, who individually fays fomething to
him on the occafion: and thus the pipe is generally fmoked out; when, after turning it three or
four times round his head, he drops it downwards,
and replaces it in its original fituation. He then
returns the company thanks for their attendance,
and wifhes them, as well as the whole tribe, health
and long; life.
Thefe fmoking rites precede every matter of
great importance, with more or lefs ceremony, but
always with equal folemnity. The utility of them
will appear from the following relation.
If a chief is anxious to know the difpofition of
his people towards him, or if he wifhes to fettle
any difference between them, he announces his
intention of opening his medicine-bag and fmoking in his facred ftem; and no man who entertains a grudge againft any of the party thus affem-
bled can fmoke with the facred ftem; as that ceremony diflipates all differences, and is never vio*
lated. No OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.      127
No one can avoid attending on thefe occafions;
but a perfon may attend and be excufed from aflif-
ting at the ceremonies, by acknowledging that he
has not undergone the neceflary purification. The
having cohabited with his wife, or any other woman, within twenty-four hours preceding the ceremony, renders him unclean, and, confequently,
difqualifies him from performing any part of it.
If a contract is entered into and folemnifed by the
ceremony of fmoking, it never fails of being faithfully fulfilled. If a perfon, previous to his going a
journey, leaves the -facred ftem as a pledge of his
return, no confideration whatever will prevent him
from executing his engagement.*
The chief, when he propofes to make a feaft,
fends quills, or fmall pieces of wood, as tokens of
invitation to fuch as he wifhes to partake of it.
At the appointed time the guefts arrive, each bringing a difh or platter, and a knife, and take their
feats on each fide of the chief, who receives them
fitting, according to their refpeCtive ages. The pipe
is then lighted, and he makes an equal divifion
of every thing that is provided. While the company are enjoying their meal, the chief fings, and
accompanies his fong with the tambourin, or fhi-
tfiiquoi, or rattle.    The gueft who has firft eaten
* It is however to-be lamented, that of late there is a relaxation of the duties originally attached to thefe feftivals. 128 A GENERAL HISTORY -
his portion is confidered as the moft diftinguifh||J
ed perfon. If there fhould be any who cannot
finifh the whole of their mefs, they endeavour to
prevail on fome of their friends to eat it for them,
who are rewarded for their afliflance with ammunition and tobacco. It it proper alfo to remark,
that at thefe feafts a fmall quantity of meat or
drink is facrificed, before they begin to eat, by
throwing it into the fire, or on the earth.
Thefe feafts differ according to circumfiances;
fometimes each man's allowance is no more than
he can difpatch in a couple of hours. At other
times the quantity is fufficient to fupply each of
them with food for a week, though it muft be
devoured in a day. On thefe occafions it is very
difficult to procure fubftitutes, and the whole muft
be eaten whatever time it may require. At fome
of thefe entertainments there is a more, rational arrangement, when the guefts are allowed to carry
home with them the fuperfluous part of their por-"
tions. Great care is always taken that the bones
may be burned, as it would be confidered a profanation were the dogs permitted to touch them.
The public feafts are conducted in the fame
manner, but with fome additional ceremony;
Several chiefs officiate at them, and procure the
neceflary provifions, as well as prepare a proper
place of reception for the numerous company.
Here the guefts difcourfe upon public topics,#e-
peat OF THE FUR TRADE, Sec. ,    129
peat the heroic deeds of their forefathers, and excite the rifing generation to follow their example.
The entertainments on thefe occafions confift of
dried meats, as it would not be practicable to
drefs a fufficient quantity of frefh meat for fuch a
large affembly; though the women and children
are excluded.
Similar feafts ufed to be made at funerals, aqd
annually, in honour of the dead; but they have
been, for fome time, growing into difufe, and I
never had an opportunity of being prefent at any
of them.
The women, who are forbidden to enter the
places facred to thefe feftivals, dance and fing
around them, and fometimes beat time to the
mufic within them ; which forms an agreable
With refpeCt to their jdivifions of time, they
compute the length of their journies by the number of nights pafled in performing them; and they
divide the year by the fucceflion of moons. In
this calculation, however, they are not altogether
correct, as they cannot account for the odd days.
The names which they give to the moons are
defcriptive of the feveral feafons.
May    .
. Atheiky 0 Pifhim. |i|&
. Frog-Moon.
June   .
. Oppinu 0 Pifhim.
. The Moon in which
birds begin to lay
their eggs.
July I
"HidIt I1 is L
Aupafcen o Pifhim.
Auguft.      Aupahou o rifliim.
September Wafkifcon o Pifhim.
The Moon when
birds call their
The Moon when
the young birds
begin to fly.
The Moon when
the moofe-deer eaft
their horns.
The Rutting-Moon.
Wifac o Pifhim   .
Thithigon Pewai o Pifhim
Kufkatinayoui o Pifhim
Pawatchicananafis o Pifhim. Whirlwind-Moon.
Kufhapawafticanum o Pifhim Extreme cold Mooir.
Kichi Pifhim.      .        .        . Big   Moon;   fome
'"W fay, Old Moon;
Mickyfue Pifhim.        .        . Eagle Moon.
Nifcaw o Pifhim.      >.       . Goofe-Moon.
Thefe people know the medicinal virtues of
many herbs and fimples, and apply the roots of
plants and the bark of trees with fuccefs. Bufrthe
conjurers, who monopolize the medical fcienfte,
find it neceflary to blend myftery with their art,
and do not communicate their knowledge. Their
materia medica they adminifter in the form of purges and clyfters; but the remedies and furgical operations are fuppofed to derive much of their effect
from magic and incantation. When a blifter
rifes in the foot from the froft, jhe chaffing of the
fhoe, &c. they immediately open it, and apply
the  heated blade of a knife to the part, which
painful OF THE FUR TRADE, &cT      131
painful as it may be, is found to be efficacious.
A (harp flint ferves them as a lancet for letting
blood, as well as for fcarificatibn in bruifes and
fwellings. For fprains, the dung of an animal juft
killed is confidered as the beft remedy. They
are very fond of European medicines, though they
are ignorant of their application : and thofe articles form a confiderable part of the European traffic with them.
Among their various fuperftitions, they believe
that the vanour which is feen to hover over moift and
fwampy places, is the fpirit of fome perfon lately
dead. They alfo fancy another fpirit which appears, in the fhape of a man, upon the trees near
the lodge of a perfon deceafed, whofe property has
not been interred with them. He is reprefented
as bearing a gun in his hand, and it is believed
that he does not return to his reft, till the pro-
i petty that has been withheld from the grave has
r been facrificed to it.
Examples of the Knisteneaux and Algonquin Tongues.  - H
Good Spirit
-   Ki jai Manitou    -
Ki jai Manitou.
Evil  Spirit
-   Matchi Manitou -
Matchi Manitou.
1 Man
-   Ethini
1 Woman
-   Efquois
Head    ,     -       -
Forehead    -
My teeth    -
Throat      -
Fingers      *
My back   -
My belly   -
My knees
My father
My mother
My boy (fon)    -
My girl (daughter)
My brother, elder
My fitter, elder    -
My grandfather  -
My grandmother
Nap hew   -
Non-genfe -
A' wafh ifh
Us ti quoin
Es caa tick
Wes ty-ky
Es kis och
Ofkiwin    -
Oo tith ee go mow
O toune
Wip pit tah
Otaithani   -
With i tip
O tow  ee gie    |
O qui ow
O koot tas gy   -
O nifk       -
Che chee   -
Wos kos fia
O's fpig  gy
No pis quan
O povam   -
No che quoin nah
O thea
Noo ta wie
Nigah wei
Ni  ftefs      -
Ne mifs
Ne moo fhum   -
N' o kum
Abi nont-chen.
O catick.
O tonne.
Aba-e winikan.
O-ta wagane.
O'quoi gan.
Nigon dagane.
O nic.
Ni nid gineSt
Ni-pi quoini.
Ni my fat,
Ni gui tick.
Ni gatte.
Noflai. a
7 OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.      135
My uncle   -
N* o'ka mifs
Ni ni michomen.
My nephew
Netoo fim
Ne do jim.
My niece   -
Ne too fim efquois
Ni-do-jim equois.
My mother in law
Nifigoufe   -
My brother in law
My companion
Ne- wechi wag
My hufband
Ni nap pern
Ni na bern.
Blood I    -
Mith coo   -
Old Man   -
Shi nap
Aki win fe.
I am angry
Ne kis fi wafh
Nif katiffiwine*
I fear        -
Ne goos tow
Nifeft gufe.
Ne hea tha torn
Mamoud gikifi.
Oda wagan.
Mis- conaa
Pemi ka wois.
Chief, great rule
Kitchi ©nodis.
Ke moutifke*
Michai woi.
Rein deer
Fallow deer
Wa wafquefh.
Qui qua katch
Quin quoagki.
Otchi ta mou.
Sa quafue
Ni guick*
Mayegan   -
Wapouce   -
Ma (qua
Mac qua.
Od-jifck.      JR.
T %
Porcupine 134
I'li j- !|
I' I
I Mikmi
Fox -       •
Muik Rat •
Cow Buffalo
Meat-flefh   •    '  -
Dog -       -
Buck t • -       -
Crow, Gorbeau   -
Pheafants    -
White Goofe
Grey Goofe
Water Hen
Pike or Jack
Carp p|
White Fifh    ;  .-
Fim (in general)
Fins - •
Trout        -     ' -
Craw  Fifh    ••-',
Wafp -      «-
Cau quah
Ma kifew
Wajafk ^    -      :-
Noflii Mouftouche
Makufue    -
Sy  Sip
Ca Cawkeu
Mes fei thew
Okes kew
Wey   Wois
Peftafifh     -     - .-
Pi thew
Omi Mee
Wa   Wah
Na may bin
Na May    |
Chi chi kan
Nay goufe
A fhag gee
Ah moo
Kinibick    -
Wai wa be gou noge.
Nochena pichik.
Wi-afs. m
KaKak.   •§;;-•
Nic kack.
Woi wois.
Pen ainfe.
Che qui bis.
O mi-mis.
Wa Weni.
Na me bine.
Na Maiu.
Wa qnoek.
O nidj-jgan.
Na Men Goufe. m
A cha kens chaque*
O ma ka ki.
A mon.
Ki nai bick.
Fire Steel   -
Fire wood
Cradle     . -
Fifh Hook
Ax      -     -
Birch Rind
Touch Wood
Road -
Ifland#     -
THE FUR TRADE, &c.      135
Knifleneaux. Algonquin.
-   Ofcajick
-    Saboinigan
-    Appet
-   Mich-tah   -
-   Teckinigan
-   Ta comagau
-   Augufk or Atouche
Mettic ka nouins.
-   Quofquipichican
Maneton Miquifcane*
-   Shegaygan     -    -
-   Chi-kifebifoun    -
Na be chi be foun.
-    Sicahoun    -
Pin ack wan.
-   Athabe
-   Miftick
-   Miftick
Mitic.     -   .
-   Aboi
-   Chiman
-    Wafquoi
Wig nafs.
-    Wafquoi
-   Poufagan    -
-   Nepefhah
-    Mafquofi   -
-    Mifqui-meinac    -
Mifqui meinac.
-    O-tai-e minac
O'-tai-e minac.
-    Pecouch
-    Scou tay    -
Scou tay.
-    Shomenac
-   Pakifhihow
A Winni.
-   Afus ki
A Shifki.          / ■■';;■
-    Kifijiwin    -
Ki fi chi woin.
-   Mefcanah   -
-    Pipoun
-    Miniftick   -
-    Sagayigan
-   Pifim
-    Tibifca pefim (th
night Sun
Dibic k'jifs.
p* V
-   Kigigah
Kigi gatte.
Night    /  -
-.   Tibifca
Dibic kawte.
-    Counah
So qui po.
-   Kimiwoin
Ki mi woini.
Drift      .   -
-    Pewan
Pi woine.
Hail           -
-   Shes eagan
Me qua menfan.
Ice    -
-   Mefquaming
Me quam.
-   Aquatin
-   Picafyow
-   Nepec
-   MefTe afky ( all the
Mifli achaki.
-   Wachee
-   Kitchi   kitchi
Kitchi-kitchi ga
Morning    |
•   Kequifliepe
Mid-day     -
•   Abetah quifhei
Na ock quoi.
1   Unygam
-   Menou learning
Mino ka ming.
-    Sipee
- ' Bawaftick
Ba wetick.
-    Sepeefis
Sipi wes chin.
-    Thocaw
Ne gawe.
-    Afkee
Ach ki.
I   Attack
Thunder   -
-    Pithufeu
Ni mi kt.
Wind &    -
-    Thoutin
No tine.
-    Athawoftin
-    Quifhipoi
-    Ta   kafhikd
O'n-a guche.
-    Kiwoirin
Ke woitinak.
-   Sawena woon
Eaft       t:-
-   Cofhawcaftak
Weft  "       -
-    Paquifimow
-   Wabank
Wa-bang* .
Bone OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.     137
Greafe or oil
Marrow fat
Cincture    -
Smoking bag
Portage fling
Strait on   -
Medicine   -
Red I
Michim waboi   -
Ma  qua fee
Ofcan pimis
Ne pa win
Pendog ke
Tabanafk   -
Papacke wyan.
Wape weyang
Maneto weguin  -
Chi ki-bifoon
Aftiffack    -
Mafkifin    -
Kufquepetagan   -
Goi afk     *       -
Mas ki kee
Mes coh    -
Kafqutch ( fame as
black)   -
Saw waw   i
Wi con qui wine.
Ne pai wine.
Pen dig.
O* na gann.
Pe Matinang.
A chi gan.
Pa pa ki weyan.
Wape weyan.
Maneto weguin.
Aflabab. -      '
Ni gafke-tafe befounu
Grey m
Grey, &c
Ugly     | -
-   Mache na goufeu
Mo u s-counu-goufe»
Handfome -
-   Catawaflifeu
Nam bifla.
-   KifS Sawenogan
Quoi Natch.
Deaf gi     -
-   Nima petom
Ka ki be chai.
-   Mithiwafhin
-   Paawie
Fat     -
-   Outhineu    -
Big     -       -
-   Mufhikitee
Small or little
-   Abifafheu   -
Short -
-   Chemafrfh
Skin   -
-   Wian
Long -
-   Kinwain
-   Mafcawa    -
\ Mas cawife.
-    Sagatahaw
-   Nitha miflew
Cha goufi.
Lean    -
-   Mahta waw
Ka wa ca tofa.
-   Nima Guftaw
Son qui taige.
Young man
-   Ofquineguifh
-    Kiffin         i(     -
-   Kichatai
Kicha tai.
-   Minoufcaming    -
-   Nibin
-   Tagowagonk
-   Peyac
Peche ik.
-   Nifheu
-   Nifhtou
-   Neway
Ne au.
-   Ni-annan  -
-   Negoutawoefic   -
Ni gouta waswois.
-   Nifh woific
-   Jannanew
She was wois.
-   Shack
Shang was wois.
-   Mitatat
mi      ^Eleven Eleven |
Twelve .*
Thirteen -
Fourteen -
Seventeen |
Nineteen -
Twenty-two, &c.
I Peyac ofap -
- Nifheu ofap
- Nichtou ofap
- Neway ofap
- Niannan ofap
MitalTwois, hachi,
Mitaflwois, hachij
Mitaflwois, hachi,
>-   Nigoutawoefic ofap Mitaflwois, hachij
Nifh woefic ofap      MitalTwois, hachi,
nigi wafwois.
Jannanew ofap    -
Shack ofap
Nifheu mitenah  -
Nifhew    mitenah
peyac ofap
Mitaflwois*, hachi,
Mitaflwois, hachi,
fliang as wois.
Nigeta nan, hacr>i>
Nifheu mitenah
nifhew ofap    -
Nifhou mitenah     Nifwois mitanan.
Neway mitenah   -    Neau mitanan.
Niannan mitenah     Nanan mitanan*
Negoutawoific mitenah      -        -    Nigouta was wois
Nifhwoific mitenah Nigi was wois mitanan.
Jannaeu mitenah      She was wois mitanan.
U Ninety
•*ML \
l&r#S • -
Shack mitenah   -
Shang was wois mitanan.
Hundred    -
Mitana mitinah  -
Two Hundred   -
Nefhew mitena a
I Nige wack.-
One thoufand
Mitenah    mitena
mitenah -
1 Kitchi-wack.
Firft |;    -       -
Squayatch -
More j
Awa chi min.
Athiwack   mitha
wafhin   -
Awachimin 0 nichi
Beft   - ■    -       -
Athiwack   mitha
wafhin   -
Kitchi 0 nichi   fhin
I, or me
Nin.               M'
You, or thou
fcitha         -
They, or them    -
Win na wa.
We   -       -       -
Nithawaw -
Nina wa.
My, or mine
Nida yam.
Kegoi nin.
wa. si  ;i;
His, or her's
All    -
Kakithau    -
Some, or fome few
Pey peyac   -
The fame  -
Mi ta yoche.
All the-world
M?fh* acki wanque
Mifhiwai afky.
All the me$
Kakithaw Ethinyock Mifli Inini woclH
Mina wa.
Now and then
■■                                        *»                       mm
Sometimes -
I as-cow-pj&o.
"*                        m              •■
Arrive OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.      14*
Arrive   •   -
To burn    -
To fing
To cut
To hide    -
To cover  -
To believe
To fleep    -
To difpute
To dance -
To give
To do
To eat
To die
To forget -
To fpeak  -
To cry ^tears)
To laugh -
To fet down
To walk   -
To fall
To work   -
To kill     -
To fell      -
To live
To fee
To come  -
Cry (tears)
It hails
There is   -
There is fome
It rains
Ta   couchin
Otamaha   -
Ke ko mi towock
Mith -
Winnekifkifew    i
Athimetakcoufe*  ■
Pimoutais  -
Ah tus kew
Nipahaw   -
Attawoin    -
Wabam      -  mm
Egothigog -
Manteau    -
Shifiagan   -
Aya wa     -
Qui qui jan.
Cafo tawe.
A co ha oune.
Tai boitam.
Ni pann.
Ki quaidiwine.
- Nimic.
- Mih. t|f|. .
- O-gitoune.
- Wifliniwin.
I    Ni po wen.
- Woi ni mi kaw,
- Aninntagoufle.
- Ma wi.
- Pa-pe.
- Na matape win.
- Pemouflai.
- Panguifhin.
- Anokeh.
- Nifhi-woes*
- Ata wois.
- Pematis.
- Wab.
- Pitta-fi-moufs.
- Mi mi nic.
- Ambai ma wita.
- Sai faigaun.
- Aya wan.
- Qui mi woin.
After 142
After to-morrow
Awis wabank
-   Awes wabang.
Anoutch-    -
»   Non gum.
-    Awoite-
Much        -       -
-    Ni bi wa.
Pichifqua    -
. -    Pitchinac.
Make, heart
Quithipeh -
-   Wai we be.
This morning
-   Shaf baa.
This   night
-    De bi cong.
Efpiming    -
-    OJdtchiai.
Tabaflifh    -
-   Ana mai.
-   Ne da wache*
-    Sha fhaye.
Yet, more   -
-    Mina wa.
Yefterday   -
-    Pitchinago.
Far   -
-    Wafla.
Near                    -
-    Paifhou^
Nima wecatch
-   Ka wi ka.
No   -
Nima   If -.
-   Ka wine.
Yes    -       -  | -
Ah    - -    -
-    In.        '    \            ■    1
-   Pa-nima.
-   Ka qui nick*
Make   hafte
-    Niguim.
Its long fince
-   Mon wifhv
Some Account of the Chepewyan Indians.
THEY are a numerous people, who confider
the country between the parallels of latitude 60.
and 65. North, and longitude 100. to no. Weft,
as OF THE FUR TRADE, &c. 143
as their lands or home. They fpeak a copious
language, which is very difficult to be attained*
and furnifhes diale&s to the various emigrant tribes
which inhabit the following immenfe track of
country, whofe boundary I fhall defcribe*. It
begins at Churchill, and runs along the line of
feparation between them and the Knifleneaux, up
the Miflinipi to the Ifle a la Crofle, paffing 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 direftly
Weft to the Peace River ; and up that river to
its fource and tributary waters; from whence it
proceeds to the waters of the river Columbia; and
follows that river to latitude 5 2. 24. North, and
longitude 122. 54. Weft, where the Chepewyans
have the Atnah or Chin nation for their neighbours.
It then takes a line due Weft to the fea-coaft,
«$thin which, the country is poffefied by a people
Who fpeak their language*-}*, and are confequently
idefcended from them : there can be no doubt,
therefore, of their progrefs being to the Eaftward.
A tribe of them is even known at the upper eftab-
lilhments on the  Safkatchiwine; and I do not
* Thofe of them who come to trade with us, do not exceed
eight hundred men, and have a fmattering of the Krfifteneaux
tongue, in which they carry on their dealings with us.
f The coaft is inhabited on the North-Weft by the Efkimaux,
apd on the Pacific Ocean by a people different from both.
pretend to afcertain how far they may follow the
Rocky Mountains to the Eaft,
It is not poflible to form any juft eftimate of
their numbers, but it is apparent, neverthelefs, that
they are by no means proportionate to the vaft extent of their territories, which may, in fome degree,
be attributed to the ravages of the fmall pox, which
are, more or lefs, evident throughout this part of
the continent.
The notion which thefe people entertain of the
creation, is of avery fingular nature. They believe
that, at the firft, the globe was one vaft and entii|
ocean, inhabited by no living creature, except a
mighty bird, whofe eyes were fire, wofe glances were
lightning, and the clapping of whofe wings were
thunder. On hisdefcent to the ocean, and touching
it, the earth inftantly arofe, and remained onihe furface 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 circumftance occafions their averfion to the
flefh of that animal, as well as the people who eat
it. This extraordinary tradition proceeds to relate,
that the great bird, having finifhed his work, made
an arrow, which was to be preferved with great
care, and to remain untouched; but that the Chepewyans were fo devoid of underftanding, as tocai|
ry it away; and the facrilege fo enraged the great
bird, that he has never fince appeared.
i OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.      145
They have alfo a tradition amcngft them, that
they originally came from another country, inhabited by very wicked people, and had   traverfed a
great lake, which was narrow, (hallow, and full of
iflands, where they had fuffered great mifery, it
being always winter, with ice and deep fnow.    At
the Copper-Mine River, where they made the firft
land, the ground was covered with copper, over
which a body of earth had fince been colle&ed, to
the depth of a man's height.    They believe, alfo,
that in ancient times their anceftors lived till their
feet were worn out with walking, and their throats
with eating.    They defcribe a deluge, when the
waters fpread over the whole earth, except the
higheft mountains, on the  tops  of which  they
preferved themfelves.
They believe, that immediately after their death,
they pafs into another world, where they arrive at
a large river, on Which they embark in a ftone ca*
noe, and that a gentle current bears them on to an
extenfive lake, in the centre of which is a moft
beautiful ifland; and that, in the view of this delightful abode, they receive that judgment for their
condu& during life, which terminates their final
ftate and unalterable allotment. If their good
a&ions are declared to predominate, they are landed
upon the ifland, where there is to be no end to their
happinefs; which, however, according to their notions, confifts in an eternal enjoyment of fenfuai
pleafure, .
k iii
pleafure, and cafnal gratification. But if their bad
aftions weigh down the balance, the ftone canoe
finks at once* and leaves them up to their chits in
the water, to behold and regret the reward enjoyed
by the good, and eternally ftruggling, but with
unavailing endeavours, to reach the blifsful ifland,
from which they are excluded for ever.
They have feme faint notions of the transmigration of the foul; fo that if a child be born with
teeth, they inftantly imagine, from its premature
appearance, that it bears a refemblance to fome
perfon who had lived to an advanced period, and
that he has afiumed a renovated life, with thefe
extraordinary tokens of maturity.
The Chepewyans are fober, timorous, and vagrant, with a felfifh difpofition which has fometimes created fufpicions of their integrity. Their
ftature has nothing remarkable in it; but though
they are feldom corpulent, they are fometimes ro-
buft. Their complexion is fwarthy ; their features
coarfe, and their hair lank, but not always of a
dingy black; nor have they univerfally the piercing
eye, which generally animates the Indian countenance. The women have a more agreeable afped:
than the men, but their gait is awkward, which
proceeds from their being accuftomed, nine months
in the year, to travel on fnow-fhoes and drag fledges of a weight from two to four hundred
pounds.    They are very fubmiffiye to their htfs-
4h bands
; lllli P OF THE FUR TRADE, &c. i
bands, who have, however, their fits of jealoufy $
and, for very trifling caufes, treat them with fuch
cruelty as fometimes to occafion their death. They
are frequently objeds of traffic; and the father
pofleffes the right of difpofing of his daughter*.
The men in general extrad their beards, though
fome of them are feen to prefer a bufhy, black
beard, to a fmooth chin. They cut their hair in
various forms, or leave it in a long, natural flow,
according as their caprice or fancy fuggefts. The
women always wear it in great length, and feme of
them are very attentive to its arrangement. If
they at any time appear defpoiled of their treffes, it
is to be efteemedaproofof the hufband's jealoufy,
and is confidered as afeverer punifhment than manual correftion. Both fexes have blue or black
bars, or from one to four ftraight lines on their
cheeks or forehead, to diftinguifh the tribe to
which they belong, Thefe marks are either ta-
tooed, or made by drawing a thread, dipped in the
neceflary colour, beneath the fkin.
There are no people more attentive to the comforts of their drefs, or lefs anxious refpeding its
exterior appearance. In the winter it is compofed
of the fkins of deer, and their fawns, and dreffed
as fine as any chamois leather, in the hair. In the
fummer their apparel is the fame, except that it is
*Theydonot,however,fellthemasflaves,butas companions to
thofe who arefuppofedtolivemorecomfortablythanthemfelves.
* prepare4
fftinlfffif % Ii
prepared without the hair. Their fhoes and leggins are fewn together, the latter reaching upwards
to the middle, and being fupported by a belt, under
which a fmall piece of leather is drawn to cover the private parts, the ends of which fall down
both before and behind. In the fhoes they put
the hair of the moofe or rein-defer with additional
pieces of leather as focks. The fhirt or coat,
when girted round the waift, reaches to the middle
of the thigh, and the mittens are fewed tpjfbe
fleeves, or are fufpended by firings from the fhoul-
ders. A rufFor tippet furrounds the neck, and the
fkin of the head of the deer forms a curious kind
of cap. A robe, made of feveral deer or fawn
fkins fewed together, covers the whole. This drefs
is worn fingle or double, but always in the
Winter, with the hair within and without. Thus
arrayed, a Chepewyan will lay himfelf dolvn
on the ice in the middle of a lake, and repofe in
comfort; though he will fometimes find a difficulty
in the morning to clifencumber himfelf from the
fnow drifted on him during the night. If in his
paflage he fhould be in want of provifion, he cuts
an hole in the ice, when he feldom fails of taking
fome trout or pike, whofe eyes he inftantly fcoops
out, and eats as a great delicacy; but if they fhould
not be fufficient to fatisfy his appetite, he will, in
this neceflity make his meal of the fifh in its raw
ftate $ but, thofe whom I faw, preferred to drefs their
vi&uals v OF THE FUR TRADE, &c. |?49
vi&uals when circumfiances admitted the neceflary
preparation. When they are in that part of their
country which does not produce a fufficient quantity of wood for fuel, they are reduced to the fame
exigency, though they generally dry their meat in
the fun.* |j^
The drefs of the women differs from that of the
men. Their leggins are tied below the knee; and
their coat or fhift is wide* hanging down to the
ancle, and is tucked up at pleafure by means of a
belt, which is faftened round the waift. Thofe
,who have children have thefe garments made very
* The provifion called Pemican, on which the Chepewyans,
"as well as the other lavages of this country, chiefly fubfift in
their journies, is prepared in the following manner. The lean
parts of the flefli of the larger animals are cut in thin flices, and
are placed on a wooden grate over a flow fire, or expofed to
the fun, and fometimes to the froft. Thefe operations dry it,
and in that ftate it is pounded between two ftones : it will then
keep with care for feveral years. If, however, it is kept in
large quantities, it is difpofed to ferment in the fpring of the year
when it muft be expofed to the air, or it will foon decay. The
infide fat, and that of the rump, which is, much thicker in
thefe wild than our domeftic animals, is melted down and
mixed, in a boiling ftate, with the pounded meat, in equal proportions : it is then put in bafkets 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 fpice, fait,
or any vegetable or farinaceous fubftance. A little time reconciles it to the palate. There is another fort made with the addition of marrow and dried berries, which is of a fuperior
X  2 full
i \,
f I fill
full about the fhouldertf, as when they are travelling
they carry their infants upon their backs, next their
fkin, in which fituation they are perfedly comfortable and in a pofition convenient to be fuckled.
Nor do they difcontinue to give their milk to
them till they have another child. Child-birth is
not the objed of that tender care and ferious attention among the favages as it is among civilifed
people. At this period no part of their ufual occupation is omitted, and this continual and regular exercife muft contribute to the welfare of the
mother, both in the progrefs of parturition and in
the moment of delivery. The women have a Angular cuflom of cutting off a fmall piece of the
navel - string of the new-born children, and hang
it about their necks: they are alfo curious in the
covering they make for it, which they decorate with
porcupine's quills and beads.
Though the women are as much in the power
of the men, as any other articles of their property,
they are always confulted, and poflefs a very c|n-
fiderable 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 fimple nature.
The girls are betrothed at very early period to
thofe whom the parents think the beft- able to fupport them; nor is the inclination of the woman
confidered.    Whenever a feparation takes place,
TrW If OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.| x5i
which fometimes happens, it depends entirely on
the will and pleafure of the hufband. In common
with the other Indians of this country, they have a
cuftom refpedingthe periodical ftate of a woman,
which is rigoroufly obferved : at that time fhe muft
feclude herfelf from fociety. They are not even
allowed in that fituation to keep the fame path as
the men, when travelling : and it is confidered a
great breach of decency for a woman fo cir-
cumftanced to touch any utenfils of manly occupation. Such a circumftance is fuppofed to defile
them, fo that their fubfequent ufe would be followed by certain mifchief or misfortune. There
are particular fkins which the women never touch,
as of the bear and wolf; and thofe animals the
men are feldom known to kill.
They afe not remarkable for their adivity as
hunters, which is owing to the eafe with which
they fnare deer and fpear fifh : and thefe occupations are not beyond the ftrength of their old men,
women, and boys : fo that they participate in thofe
laborious occupations, which among their neighbours, are confined to the women. They make
war on the Efquimaux, who cannot refift their
fuperior numbers, and put them to death, as it is a
principle with them never to make prifoners. At
the fame time they tamely fubmit to the Knifleneaux, who are not fo numerous as themfelves,
when they treat them as enemies*
11 1    :■    ii
J '
■M il
|||They do not affed that cold referve atlmeeting,
either among themfelves or ftrangers, which is common with the Knifleneaux, but communicate mutually, andatoncjl, allfthe information of which they
are poffefled. Nor are they roufed like them from
an apparent torpor toa ftate of great adivity. They
are confequently more uniform in this refped,
though they are of a very perfevering difpofition
when their intereft is concerned.
§|§As thefe people are not addided to fpirituous
liquors, they have a regular and uninterrupted ufe
of their understanding, which is always direded to
the advancement of their own intereft; and this
difpofition, as may be readily imagined, fometimes
occafions them to be charged with fraudulent habits. They will fubmit with patience to the feve-
reft treatment, when they are confcious that^hey
deferve it, but will never forget or forgive any
wanton or unneceflary rigour. A moderate con-
dud I never found to fail, nor do I hefitate $j| re-
prefent them, altogether, as the moft peaceable
tribe of Indians known in North America.
There are conjurers and high-priefts, but I was
hot prefent at any of their ceremonies; though
they certainly operate in an extraordinary manner
on the imaginations of the people in the cure of
diforders. Their principal maladies are, rheumatic pains, the flux and confumption. The venereal
complaint is very common; but though its progrefs
m IS 1 bS
is flow, it gradually undermines the conftitution, and
'brings on premature decay. ; They have recourfe
to fuperftition for their cure, and, charms are their
only remedies, except' the bark of the willow,
which being burned and reduced to powder, is
ftrewed upon green wounds and ulcers, and places
contrived for promoting perfpiration. Of the ufe
of fimples and plants they have no knowledge;
nor can it be expeded, as their county does not
produce them.
Though they have enjoyed fo long an inter courfe
with Europeans, their country«$Mfdl? barren, as not
to be capable of producing the ordinary neceflaries
naturally introduced by fuch a communication^
and they continue, in a great meafure, their own inconvenient and awkward modes of taking theif
game and preparing it when taken. Sometimes
they drive the deer into the fmall lakes, where they
fpear them, or force them into inclofures, where the
bow and arrow are employed againft them. Thefe
animals are alfo taken in fnares made of fkin. In
the former inftance the game is divided among
thofe who>have been engaged in the purfuit of it.
In the datter it is coMdered as private property ;
neverthelefs, any* unfuccefsful hunter paffing by,
may tkke a deer fo taught, leaving the head, fkin,
and faddle foTChe owner. -Thus, though they have
no regular go^rnment, as every man is lord in his
own family, they are influenced, more or lefs, by cer-
ii tain 154 A GEIfERAL HISTORY
tain 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
occafioned by blows, wreftling, and pulling of the
hair, while their abufive language confifts in applying the name of the moft offenfive animal to
the objed of their difpleafure, and adding the term
ugly, and chiay, or ftill-born.*
Their arms and domeftic apparatus, in addition
to the articles procured from Europeans, are fpears,
bows, and arrows, fishing-nets, and lines made of
green deer-fkin things. They have alfo nets for
taking the beaver as he endeavours to efcape from
his lodge«*when it is broken open. It is fet in a
particular manner for the purpofe, and a man is
employed to watch the moment when he enters the
fnare, or he would foon cut his way through it.
He is then thrown upon the ice, where he remains
as if he had no life in him..
■^jfcThe fhow-fhoes are of very fuperior work-
manfhip. The inner part of their frame is ftraight,
the outer one is curved, and it is pointed at both
ends, with that in front turned up. They are alfo
laced with great neatnefs with thongs made of
deer fkin. The fledges are formed of thin flips
of board turned up alfo in front, and are
highly polifhed with crooked knives, in order to
* This name is alfo applicable to the foetus of an animal,
when killed, wtrich is confidered as one of the greateft delicacies.
II Aide OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.      155
ffide along with facility.' Clofe-grained wood is,
on that account, the beft; but theirs are made of
the red or fwamp fpruce-fir tree.
The country, which thefe people claim as their
land, has a very fmall quantity of earth, and produces little or no wood or herbage. Its chief veger
table fubftance is the mofs, on which the deer feed |
and a kind of rock mofs, which, in times of fcarcity,
preferves the lives of the natives. When boiled
in water, it diflblves into a clammy, glutinous \
fubftance, that affords a very fufficient nourifhment.
But, notwithftanding the barren ftate of their country, with proper care and economy, thefe people
might live in great comfort, for the lakes abound
with fifh, and~ the hills are covered with deer.
Though, of all the Indian people of this continent
they are confidered as the moil provident, they fuffer feverely at certain feafons, and particularly in the
dead of winter, when they are under the necefiity of
retiring to their fcanty, ftinted woods. To the
Weftward of them the mufk-ox may be found,
but they have no dependence on it as an article of
fuftenance. There are alfo large hares, a few white
wolves, peculiar to their country, and feveral kinds
of foxes, with white and grey partridges, &c. The
beaver and moofedeer they do not find till they
come within 60. degrees North latitude; and the
buffalo is ftill further South. That animal is known
to frequent an higher latitude to the Weftward of
their country. Thefe people bring pieces of beautiful variegated marble, which are found on the
furface of the earth. It is eafily worked, bears a
fine polifh, and hardens with time; it endures heat,
and is manufadured into pipes or calumets, as they
are very fond of fmoking tobacco; a luxury which
the Europeans communicated to them.
Their amufements or recreations are but few.
Their mufic is fo inharmonious, and their dancing
fo awkward, that they might be fuppofed to be
afhamed of both, as they very feldom praftife
either. They alfo fhoot at marks, and play at the.
games common among them; but in fad theylpre-
fer fleeping to either; and the greater part of their
time is pafled in procuring food, and refting from
the toil neceflary to obtain it
They are alfo of a querulous difpofition, and are
continually making complaints; which they exprefs
by a conftant repetition of the word eduiy, " it is
hard, | in a whining and plaintive tone of voice.
They are fuperftitious in the extreme, and almoft
every adion of their lives, however trivial, is more
or lefs influenced by feme whimfical notion, ^fine-
ver obferved that they had any particular form of
religious worfhip; but as they believe in a good
and evil fpirit, and a ftate of future rewards and
punifhments, they cannot be devoid of religious
impreffions.    At the fame time they manifeft a decided OF THE FUR TRADE, &c. 157
cided unwillingnefs to make any communications
on the fubjed.
The Chepewyans have been accufed of abandon-
ing their aged and infirm, people to peri hi, and of
not burying their dead; but thefe are melancholy
neceffities, which proceed from their wandering way
of life. They are by no means univerfal, for it is
within my knowledge, that a man, rendered help-
lefs by thepalfy, was carried about for many years,
with the greateft tendernefs and attention, till he
died a natural death. That they fhould not bury
their dead in their own country cannot be imputed
to them as a cuflom arifing from a favage infenfi-
bility, as they inhabit fuch high latitudes that the
ground never thaws; but it is well known, that
when they are in the woods, they ..cover their dead
with trees. Befides, they manifefl no common
refped to the memory of their departed friends, by
a long period of mourning, cutting off their hair,
and never making ufe of the property of the deceafed. Nay, they frequently deftroy or facrifice their
own, as a token of regret and forrow.
If there be any people who, from the barren ftate
of their country, might be fuppofed to be cannibals
by nature, thefe 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 inftance
orthat difpofition; nor among all the natives jwhich
"     Y |§   . I     I
;•;■ -j:
r,J V-f'iW             ■» .
111 m
I'met with in a route of five thoufand miles, did I
fee or hear of an example of cannibalifm, but fuch
as arofe from that irrefiftihle neceflity, which has
been known to impel even the moft civilifed people
to eat each other.
Examples of the  Chepewyan Tongues,
1   Dinnie.
-    Chequois.
Young; man
-    Quelaquis.
Young woman
-    Quelaquis chequoi
My fon
-    Zijrazay.
My daughter
-    Zi lengay.
My hufband
-    Zi dinnie.
My wife    -
-    Zi zayunaL
My brother
-    Zi raing.
My father S
.   -    Zitah.        J||n
My mother
-    Zi nah.
My grandfather
-    Zi unai.
Me or my -
-    See.
I    -   1     -
;    -    Ne.   ■        ,     '
Yon   f§|-   .-;■;
-   Nun. |
-    Be.
-    Edthie.
-    Law.
3-eg    ; j| "   N
-    Edthen.
, -    Cuh.
-    Nackhay.
-    Goo.
-    K ac-hey.
Belly         ,    ^
-   Bitt.
Tongue OF THE
Blood 1    -
The Knee
Clothes or  Blanket
Robe or Blanket
White partridge
Grey partridge
Buffalo      -       '   -
Moofe deer
Rein-deer -
Wolf .      - -
Dog - a
Otter-fkin -
Fat -    '    7f
- Edthu.
- Thiegah.
- Lofleh.
- Dell.
- Cha-gutt.
- Etiunay.
- Eeh.
- Thell.      -
- Kinchee.
• - Thuth. M
- Bah.   #...
- Geefe.
- Sah.
I   - Kagoace.
pi   - Keth.    .
- Gah.
- Cafs bah.
- Deyee.
- Giddy.    |,     ,  ,-
- Dinyai.
- Edthun.
- Zah.      ,.
- Zafs.
- Naby-ai.
- Thah.
- Naguiyai.
- Yefs ( Nouneay. )
- Naguethey.
- Cak
- Sliengh.
- Zah thith.
- Naby-ai thith.
- Deny-ai thith.
- Icah.
§j£   - Thlefs*
- Bid.
Pike V
iii!! II r
Ten N   v
. Uldiah.
. Slouey.
-    Slouyzinai.
■ O'Gah. If? *
■ Ge-eth.
|§ Slachy.
•    Tagh-y.
Alki tar-hy-y.
Alki deing-hy.
Cakina hanoth-na.
Canothna.    ;'J^^
Na ghur cha noth na.
Yath.      J|: *   -S
Tefle.   " ~ Jj|
Zeth.    ' W r
Telkithy. |
Telkithy counna.
Befs.       ■     \§K
Red   -
Deli coufe.
Black -
Dell zin.
Trade, or barter
Not good
Leyzong houHey.
Bad, ugly
Lone fince
Now, to-day
By-and-bye, or ]
Houfe, or lodge
Door -
The o ball.
His    -
Small, or little
I love you
Ba ehoinichdinh.
I hate you
Bucnoinichadinh hillay.
, I am to be pitied
My relation
Sy lod, innay.
Give me water
Too hanniltu.
Give me meat
Give me fifh
Sloeeh anneltu.
Give me meat
to eat
Bid Barheether.
Give me water
to drink
To Barhithen.
Is it far off
Netha uzany.
Is it near
Nilduay uzany.
It is not far
It is not near
How many
5 V
What call you him,
or that -    Etlahoullia.
Come here
-   Yeu delTay.
Pain, or fuffering
-   I-yah.
It's hard
, -    Eduyah.
You lie
-   Untzee.
What then
-   Edlaw-gueh.
i i
■ •
OF   A
Embarked at Fort Chepewyan, on the Lake of the Hills, in com*
m pany with M. Le Roux. Account of the party, provi**
/ions, &c9 Direction of the courfe. j 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. Succefflve defcription of feveral carrying
places. A canoe loft in one of the Falls. Encamp on Point
de Roche. Courfe continued* Set the nets, &c. Arrive
at the Slave Lake. 'The weather extremely cold. Banks
of the river defcribed, with its trees, foil, &c. Account
of the animal productions, and the fijhery of the Lake. Obliged to wait till the moving of the ice. Three families of
Indians arrive from Athabafca. Beavers, geefe, and
Jwans killed. The nets endangered by ice. Re-imbark and
land on a fmall ifland. Courfe continued along the Jhores9
and acrofs the hays of the Lake. Various fuccejfes of the
hunters. Steer for an ifland where there was plenty of
cranberries and fmall onions. Kill feveral rein deera
Land on an ifland named Ifle a la Cache. Clouds of
mufquitoes. K
June 1789.
( Wednef. 3. )   VV E embarked at nine o'clock in the
morning, at Fort Chepewyan, on the South fide of the
Vol, I. Z Lake
h, J
9 V
Lake of the Hills, in latitude 58. 40. North, and
longitude no. 30. Weft from Greenwich, compafs
fixteen degrees variation Eaft, in a canoe made of birch
bark. The crew confifted of four Canadians, two of
whom were attended by their wives, and a German; we
were accompanied alfo by an Indian, who had acquired
the title of Englifh Chief, and his two wives, in a fmall
canoe, with two young Indians; his followers in another
fmall canoe. Thefe men were engaged to ferve us in the
twofold capacity of interpreters and hunters. This Indian
Was one of the followers of the chief who conducted Mr.
Hearne to the copper-mine river, and has fince been a
principal leader of his countrymen who were in the habit
of carrying furs to Churchill Factory, Hudfon's Bay,
and till of late very much attached to the intereft of
that company. Thefe circumfiances procured him the
appellation of the Englifh Chief.
We were alfo accompanied by a canoe that I had
equipped for the purpofe of trade, and given the charge of
to M. Le Roux, one of the Company's clerks. In this
I was obliged to {hip part of our provifion ; which,jwith
the clothing neceflary for us on the voyage, a proper
^ffortment of the articles of merchandize as prefents, to
enfure us a friendly reception among the Indians, 'and the
ammunition and arms requifite for defence, as well as a
fupply for our hunters, were more than our own canoe
could carry; but by the,time we fhould part company,
there was every reafon to fuppofe that our expenditure
would make fufHcient room for the whole.
We proceeded twenty-one miles to the Weft, and then
took a courfe of nine miles to North-North* Weft, when
we I 1
we entered the river, or one of the branches of the lake, of
which there are feveral. We then fleered North five
miles, when our courfe changed for two miles to North-
Eaft, and here at feven in the evening we landed and pitched
our tents. One of the hunters killed a goofe, and a couple
of ducks; at the fame time the canoe was taken out of thei
water, to be gummed, which neceflary bufinefs was effedt ual-
ly performed..
( Thurfday 4. ) We embarked at four this morning, and
proceeded North-North-Eaft half a mile, North one mile
and a half, Weft two miles, North-Weft two miles, Weft-
North-Weft'one mile and a half, North-North-Weft half
a mile, and Weft-North-Weft two miles, when this branch
iofes itfelf in the Peace River. It is remarkable, that the
currents of thefe various branches of the lake, when the
Peace River is high, as in May and Auguft, 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 lefs than an
hundred and twenty. The banks are rather low, except
in one place, where an huge rock rifes above them. The
low land is covered with wood, fuch as white birch, pines
of different kinds, with the poplar, three kinds of willow,-
and the liard. iWm\
The Peace River is upwards of a mile broad at this fpot,
and its current is ftronger than that of the channel which
communicates with the lake. It here, indeed, aiTumes the
name of the Slave River.*    The courfe of this day was as
* The Slave Indians having been driven from their original
country, by their enemies the Knifleneaux, along the borders
of this part of the river, it received that title, though it by no
Z 2 follows :
ij, i|!
follows :—North-Weft two miles, North-North-Weft,
through iflands, fix miles, North four miles and a half,
North by Eaft two miles, Weft by North fix miles, North
one mile, North-Eaft by Eaft two miles, North one mile.
We now defcended a rapid, and proceeded North-Weft
feven miles and a half, North-Weft nine miles, North by
Weft fix miles, North-Weft by Weft one mile and a half,
North-Weft by North half a mile, North-North-Weft
fix miles, North one mile, North-Well: by Weft four miles,
North-North-Eaft one mile. Here we arrived at the
mouth of the Dog River, where we landed, and unloaded
our canoes, at half paft feven in the evening, on the Eaft
fide, and clofe by the rapids. At this ftation the river is
near two leagues in breadth.
(Friday 5.) At three o'clock in the morning we embarked,
but unloaded our canoes at the firft rapid. When we hail
reloaded, we entered a fmall channel, which is formed by
the iflands,and, in about half an hour, we came to the carrying place. It is three hundred and eighty paces in length,
and very commodious, except at the further end of it. We
found fome difficulty in reloading at this fpot, from the large
quantity of ice which had not yet thawed. From hence
to the next carrying place, called the Portage d'Embarras,
is about fix miles, and is occafioned by the drift wood filling up the fmall channel, which is one thoufand and
twenty paces in length; from hence to the next is one mile
and a half, while the diftance to that which fucceeds, does
not exceed one hundred and fifty yards. It is about the
fame length as the laft ; and from hence to the carrying
means involves the idea of fervitude, but was given to thefe fugitives as a term of reproach, that denoted more than common
places called the Mountain, is about four miles further,
when we entered the great River. The fmaller one, or
the channel affords by far the beft paflage as it is without
hazard of any kind, though I believe a fhorter courfe would
be found on the outfide of the iflands, and without fo 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 about a mile of dangerous
rapids. The landing is very fteep, and clofe to the fall.
The length of this carrying-place is eight hundred and
twenty paces.
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 dafhed to pieces. The
woman who had the management of it,' by quitting it in
time preferved her life, though fhe loft the little property
it contained.
The courfe from the place we quitted in the morning is
about North-Weft, and comprehends a diftance of fifteen
miles. From hence to the next and laft carrying place, is
about nine miles; in which diftance there are three rapids:
courfe North-Weft by Weft. The carrying path is very
bad, and five hundred and thirty-five paces in length.
Our canoes being lightened, pafled on the outfide of the
oppofite ifland, which rendered the carrying of the baggage
very fhort indeed, being not more than the length of a
canoe. In the year 1786, five men were drowned, and
fome packages loft in the rapids on the other fide of the
river, which occafioned 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 fix miles, and encamped on Point de Roche, at half paft five in the afternoon.
The men and Indians were very much fatigued ; but the
hunters had provided feven geefe, a beaver, and four ducks*
We embarked at half paft two in the morning, and
fleered North-Weft by North twenty-one miles, North-
Weft by Weft five miles, Weft-North-Weft four miles,
Weft fix miles, doubled a point North-North-Eaft one
mile, Eaft five miles, North two miles, North-Weft by
North one mile and a half, Weft-North-Weft three miles,
North-Eaft by Eaft two nailers, doubled a point one mile
and a half, Weft by North nine miles, North-Weft by
Weft iix miles, North-North-Weft five miles ; here we
landed at fix o'clock in the evening, unloaded, and encamped. Nets were alfo fet in a fmall adjacent river.
We had an head wine] during the greater part of the day,
and the weather was become fo cold that the Indians Were
obliged to make ufe of their mittens. In this day's progrefs we killed feven geefe and fix ducks.
( Sunday 7. ) At half paft three we renewed our voyage,
and proceeded Weft-North-Weft one mile, round an
ifland one mile, North-Weft two miles and a half, South
by Weft three miles, Weft-South-Weft one mile, South-
Weft by South half a mile, North-Weft three miles, Wefl-
North-Weft three miles and a half, North-Weft three miles, North-Weft by North four miles, North two miles and
la half, North-Weft by North two miles. The rain, which
tiad prevailed for fome time, now came on with fuch violence,
that we were obliged to land and unload, to prevent the goods
and baggage from getting wet; the weather, however, foon
cleared up, fo that we reloaded the canoe, and got under way.
We now continued our courfe North ten miles, Weft one
mile and a half, and North one mile and a half, when the
rain came on again, and rendered it absolutely neceflary for
us to get on fhore for the night, at about half paft three.
We had a ftrong North-North-Eaft wind throughout the
day, which greatly impeded us. M. Le Roux, however,
with his party, pafled on in fearch of a landing place more
agreeable to them. The Indians killed a couple of geefe,
and as many ducks.    The rain continued through the rer
maining part of the day.
(Monday 8.) The night was very boifterous, and the
rain did not ceafe 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.
(Tuefdayo.) We embarked at half paft two in the
morning, the weather being calm and foggy. Soon after
our two young men joined us, whom we had not feen for
two days; but during their abfence they had killed four
beavers and ten geeie. After a courfe of one mile North-
Weft by North, We obferved an opening on the right,
which we took for a fork of the river, but it proved to be
a lake. We returned and fleered South-Weft by Weft
one mile and a half, Weft-South-Weft one mile and a
half, Weft one mile, when we entered a very fmall branch
of the river on the Eaft 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 paffage, but
has fince been carried away. The courfe of this river h
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 feem in any degree to
have given way, but near the fhore. The gnats arid
mufkitoes, which were very troublefome during our paffage
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 oh both fides covered with the various kinds of wood
common to this country; particularly the Weftern fide;
the land being lower and confiftihg of a rich foil. This
artificial ground is carried down by the ftream, and refts
upon drift wood, fo as to be eight or ten feet deep. The
eaftern banks are more elevated, and the foil a yellow clay
mixed with gravel; fo that the trees are neither fo large or
numerous as on the oppofite fhore. The ground was not
thawed above fourteen inches in depth; notwithftanding
the leaf was at its full growth ; while along the lake there
was fcarcely any appearance of verdure.
The Indians informed me, that, at a very fmall diftance
from either bank of the river, are very extenfive plains,
frequented by large herds of buffaloes; while the moofe and
rein-deer keep in the Woods that border on it. The beavers, which are in great numbers, build their habitations
in the fmall lakes and rivers, as in the larger ftreams, the
ice carries every thing along with it, during the fpring.
The mud banks in the river are covered with wild fowl;
and we this morning killed two fwans, ten geefe, and one
beaver, without fuffering the delay of an hour ; fo that we
might have foon filled the canoe with them, if tHat had been
our obje6t.
From the fmall river we fleered Eaft, along the infide
j   of a long fand bank, covered with drift wood and enlivened
,   by a few willows, which ftretches on as far as the houfes
I  erected by Meflrs. Grant and Le Roux, in  1786.    We
I  often ran aground, as for five fucceflive 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 feen fince the preceding Sunday.    We
i  now unloaded the canoe, and pitched our tents, as there
i  was every appearance that we fhould be obliged to remain
here for fome time.    I then ordered the nets to be fet, as
it was abfolutely neceflary that the ftores provided for our
future voyage fhould remain untouched.    The fifh we
now caught were carp, poiflbn inconnu, white fifh, and
( Wednef. 10. ) It rained during the greateft part of the
preceding night, and the weather did not clear up till the
afternoon of this day. This circumftance had very much
weakened the ice, and I fent two of the Indians on an hunting party to a lake at the diftance of nine miles, which,
they informed me, was frequented by animals of various
kinds. Our fifhery this day was not fo abundant as it had
been on the preceding afternoon.
( Thurfday 11.) The weather was fine and clear with
a ftrong westerly wind. The women were employed in
gathering berries of difre&nf forts, of which there are great
plenty; and I accompanied one of my people to a fmall
adjacent ifland, where we picked up fome dozens of
fwan, geefe, and duck-eggs; we alfo killed a couple of
ducks and a goofe.
In the evening the Indians returned, without having
feen any of the larger animals.    A fwan and a grey crane
Vol. L A a Weie
lili I ■
were the only fruits of their expedition. We caught no
other fifh but a fmall quantity of pike, which is too common to be a favourke food with the people of the country.
iRie ice moved a little to the eaftward.
(Friday 12.) The weather continued the fame as
yefterday, and the mufquitoes began to vifit us in great
numbers. The ice moved again in the fame dire&ion,
and I afcended an hill, but could not perceive that it
was broken in the middle of the lake. The hunters killed
a goofe and three ducks.
( Saturday 13. } The weather was cloudy, and the wind
changeable till about fun-fet, when it fettled in the north.
It drove back the ice which was now very much broken
along the fhore, and covered our nets. One of the hunters
who had been at the Slave River the preceding eve»
nang, returned with three beavers and fourteen geefe. He
was accompanied by three families of Indians, who left
Athabafca the fame day as myfelf : they did not bring me
any fowl; and they pleaded in exeufe, that they had
travelled with f& much expedition, as to prevent them
from procuring fufficient provifions for themfelves. By a
meridian line, I found the variation of the compafs to be
about twenty degrees eaft.
(Sunday 14.) The weather was clear and the wind
remained in the fame quarter. The ice was much broken,
and drivenfto th,e fide of $he lake, fo that we were apprehen-
five for tfeetofet of our nets, as they could not, at prefent, be
extricated. At fun-fet there was an appearance of a violent guft of wind from the fouthward, as the fky became
em a fiidHew, in' that quitter, of a very duiky blue colour,
awith^lighi€dtog w$* very frefquenj^   But indfcad of wind WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA, r m
mere came on a very heavy rain, which promifed to dimn
nifh the quantity of broken ice.
(Monday 15.) In the morning, the bay ftill continued
to be fo full of ice, that we could not get at our nets.
About noon, the wind veered to the Weftward, and not
only uncoveied the nets, but cleared a paffage to the
oppofite iflands. When we raifed the nets we found
them very much fhattered, and bmt few fifh taken. Wa
now ftruck our tents, and embanked at fun-fet, when we
made the traverfe, which was about eight miles Norfehr
Eaft by Ndrth in about two hours. At half paft eleven
P. M. we landed on a fmaH ifland and proceeded to gtinx
the canoe. At tfiis time the atmofphere was fuffixriently
clear to admit o£ reading or writing without tiie aid of artificial light. We had not feen afkar fince tjie fecond day
after we left Athabafca. About twelve o'clock, the moon
made its appearance abov.e the tops,ojf the trees* the1 tower
horn being in a ftate of eclipfe, which continued for about
fix minutes, in a cloudlefs fky.
I took foundings three times in the courfe of the traverse,
when I found fia fathoms, water, with a mud4$botjfcpm.
(Tuefday t6;) We? weue prevented frorn embarking
this morning by a very ftrong wind from, the North, and
the vaft quantity of floating^ ice. Some, trout were caugl$
wjth the hook and line;, but the net- was^not fo fuccefsful.
I had an obfenvation which gave 61. 28%.North latitude;.
The wind becoming moderate, we embarked about one,
taking a North-Weft courfe, through iflands of ten miles,
in which we took in a cohfiderable quantity of water.
Aa % After
After making feveral traverfes, we landed at five P. M. and
having pitched our tents, the hooks, lines, and nets, were
immediately fet. Daring the courfe of the day there
was occafional thunder.
( Wednef. 17. ) We proceeded, and taking up our nets
as we paffed, we found no more than feventeen fifh, and
were flopped within a mile by the ice. The Indians,
however, brought us back to a point where our fifhery
was very fuccefsful. They proceeded alfo on an hunting
party, as well as to difcover a paflage among the iflands;
but at three in the afternoon they returned without having
fucceeded in either objecX> We were, however, in expectation, that, as thfe wind blew very ftrong, it would force
a paflage. About fun-fet, the weather became overcafl,
with thunder, lightning, and rain.
(Thurfday 18.) The nets were taken up at four this
morning with abundance of fifh, and we fteered North-
Weft four miles, where the ice again prevented our progrefs. A South-Eaft Wind drove it among the iflands, in
fuch a manner as to impede our paflage, and we could perceive at fome diftance a-head, that it was but little broken.
We now fet our nets in four fathom water. Two of our
hunters had%illed3a rein-deer and its fawn. "They had
met with two Indian families, and in the evening, a man
belonging to one of them, paid us a vifit : he informed
me, that the ice had not ftirred on the fide of the ifland op- j
pofite to us. Thefe people live entirely on fifh, and were
waiting to crofs the lake as foon as it fhould he clear of ice.
( Friday  19.  )   This morning our nets were unproductive, as they yielded us no more than fix fifh,  which
were of a very bad kind. In the forenoon, the Indians
proceeded to the large ifland oppofite to us; in fearch of game.
The weather was cloudy, and the wind changeable : at the
fa me time,e were peftered by mufquitoes, though, in a
great meafure, furrounded with ice.
( Saturday 20.)  We took up our nets, bdt without any
fifh.    It rained very hard during the night and this morning : neverthelefs,  M. Le Roux and his people   went
back to the point which we had quitted on the   18th.     I
promised to fend for them ;  but as I was watching for a
paflage  through  the ice, I  did not  think it piudent to
move till I  could obtain it.    It  rained  at  intervals  till
about five o'clock ; when we loaded our canoe, and fleered
for the large ifland^ Weft {ix miles.    When we came to,
the point of it, we found a great quantity of ice; w«jp
however, fet our nets, and foon caught plenty of fifh.
In our way thither we met our hunters, but they had taken nothing.    I took foundings at an hundred yards frdm,
the ifland, when we  were in twenty-one fathom water.
Here we found abundance of cranberries and fmall   fpring
onions.    I now difpatched two men for M. LeRoux, aiSP
his people.
(Sunday 21.) A Southerly wind blew through the
night, and drove the ice to the Northward. The two men
whom I had fent to M. Le Roux, returned at eight this
morning; they parted with him at a fmall diftance from
us, but the wind blew fo hard, that he was obliged to put
to fhore. Having aglimpfe of the fun, when it was twelve
by my watch, Tfound the latitude 61. 34. North latitude.
At two in the afternoon, M. Le Roux, and his people ar-^
rived. \At five, the ice being almoft all driven paft to the
North ward, we accordingly embarked; and fleered Weft
fifteen miles, through much broken ice, and on the outride,
of the iflands, though it appeared to be very fplid to the,
]North-Eaft. I founded three times in this diftance, an$
found it feventy-five, forty-four, and fixty fathom water.
We pitched our tents on one of a cruller of ftnall ifland^
that were within three miles of the main land, which we
could not reach in confequence of the ice.
We faw fome rein-deer on one of the iflands, and our
hunters went in purfuit of them, when they killed five
large and two fmall ones, which was eafily accompiifhed,
as the animals had no fhelter to which they could run for
protection. They had, without doubt, croffed the ice to
this fpot, and the thaw coming on had detained them
there, and made them an eafy prey to the purfuer,.
This ifland was accordingly named Ifle de Carrebceuf.
I fat up the whole of this night to obferve the fettirrg
and rifing of the fun. That orb was he/ifath the horizon,
four hours twenty-two minutes, and rofe North 20. EaU
by compafs. It, however, froze fo hard, that during thm
fun's difappearance the water was covered with ice half a,
quarter of an inch thick.
( Monday 22. ) We embarked at half paft three in the,
morning, and rounding^the outfide of the iflands, fleered.
North-Weft thirteen miles along the ice, edging in for the,
main land, the wind Weft, then Weft two miles; but itf
blew fo hard as to oblige us to lanq| on an ifland at half.
paft nine, from whence we could juft diflinguifh land to.
the South-Eaft, at. the diftance of about twelve leagues;
tjiough we could not determine, whether it was a continuation . WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.      177
nuation of the iflands, or the fhores of the lake.* I took
an obfervation at noon, which gave me 61. 53. North,
the variation of the compafs being at the fame time, about
two points. M. Le Roux's people having provided two
bags of ' pemican f to be left in the ifland againft their return ; it was called Ifle a la Cache*
The wind being moderated, we proceeded again at half
paft two in the afternoon, and fleering Weft by North
among the iflands, made a courfe of eighteen miles. We
encamped at eight o'clock on a fmall ifland, and fince
eight in the morning had not pafled any ice. Though the
weather was far froth* being warm, we were tormented,
and our reft interrupted, by the hoft of mufquitoes that
accompanied us.
* Sometimes the land looms, fo that there may be a great
deception as to the diftance : and I think this was the
cafe as prefent.
f Flefh dried in the fun, and afterwards pounded for the
convenience of carriage.
Landed at fome lodges of Red-Knife Indians : procure one of
them to affifl in navigating the bays. Conference with the
Indians.    Take leave  of M. \ Leroux,   and continue the
h&woyage. Different appearances of the land ; its vegetable
produce. Vifit an ifland where the wood had been felled.
Further defcription of the coafi. Plenty of rein and mooje-
deer, and white partridges. Enter a very deep bay. Interrupted by ice. Very blowing weather. Continue to coafi
the bay. Arrive at the mouth of a river. Great numbers
of fifh and wild fowl. Defcription of the land en either
fide. Curious appearance of woods that had been burned.
Came in fight of the Horn Mountain. Continue to kill
geeje andjwans, &c. ^Violent form.
i! !
(Tuefday 23.) X OWARDS   morning,   the   Indians
who had not been able to keep up with us the preceding
day, now joined us, and brought two fwans and a goofe.
At half paft three we re-embatked, and fleering Weft by
North a mile and an half, with a Northerly wind, we came
to the foot of a traverfe acrofs a deep bay,  Weft five miles,
which receives a confidei able river at the bottom of it; the
diftance about twelve miles.    The North-Weft fide of the
bay was covered with many fmall iflands that were fur-
rounded with ice; but the wind driving it a little off the land,
we had a clear paflage on the infide of them.    We fleered
South-Weft nine miles under fail, then North-Weft
nearly, through the iflands, forming a courfe of fixteen
miles.    We landed on the main land at half paft two in
the afternoon at three lodges of Red-Knife Indians, fo
called from their copper knives.    They informed us, that
there were many more lodges of their friends at not great
diftance ; and one of the Indians fet offto fetch them : they
alfo faid, that we fhould fee ho more of them at prefent ;
as the Slave and Beaver Indians, as well as others of the
tribe, would not be here till the time that the fwans eaft
their feathers.   In the afternoon it rained a torrent.
( Wednef. 24. ) M. Le Roux purchafed of thefe Indians
upwards of eight packs of good beaver and marten fkins;
and there were not above twelve of them qualified to kill
beaver.    The English chief got upwards of an hundred
fkins on the fcore of debts due'to him, of which he had
many outftanding in this country.    Forty of them he gave
on account of debts due by him fince the winters of 1786
and 1787, at the Slave Lake ;  the reft he exchanged for
rum and other neceflary articles; and I added a fmall quantity of that liquor as an encouraging prefent to him and his*
young men.    I had feveral confutations with thefe 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 obje£t of my refearch,
but the mouth of it.    In order to fave as much time as
poflible 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 alfo purchafed a
large new canoe, that he might embark with the two
young Indians in my fervice.
Vol. I. Bb This
This day, at noon, I took an obfervation, which gave
me 62. 24. North latitude; the variation of the compafs
being; about twenty-fix or twenty-feven degrees to the
In the afternoon I aflembled the Indians, in order to inform, them that I fhould take my departure on the fol*
lowing day; but that people would remain on the fpot till
their countrymen, whom they had mentioned, fhould arrive ; and that, if they brought a fufficient quantity of
fkins to make it anfwer, the Canadians would return for
more goods, with a view to winter here, and build a fort,*
which would be continued as long as they fhould be
found to deferve it. They aflured me, that it would be
a great encouragement to them to have a fettlement of ours
jn their country ; and that they fhould exert themfelves to
the utmoft to kill beaver, as they would then be certain of
getting an adequate value for them. Hitherto, they faid,
the Chepewyans always pillaged them; or, at moft, gave
little or nothing for the fruits of their labour, which had
greatly difcouraged them; and that, in confequence of this
treatment, they had no motive to purfue the beaver, but to
obtain a fufficient quantity of food and raiment.
I now wrote to Meflrs. Macleod and Mackenzie, and
addrefled my papers to the former, at Athabafca.
(Thurfday 25.) We left this place at three this morning, our canoe being deeply laden, as we had embarked
fome packages that had come in the canoes of M. Le
* Foit, is the name given to any eftabiifhment in this
Roux. We were faluted on our departure with fome
vollies of fmall arms, which we returned, and fleered
South by Weft ftraight acrofs 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 feveral parts, and full of iflands.
I founded in the courfe of the traverfe and found fix fathoms
with a fandy bottom. Here, the land has a very different
appearance from that on which we have been fince we
entered the lake. Till we arrived here there was one
continued view of high hills and iflands of folid rock,
whofe furface was occasionally enlivened with mofs, fhrubs,
and a few fcattered trees, of a very ftinted growth from an
insufficiency of foil to nourifh them. But, notwithftand*
ing their barren appearance, almoft every part of them
produces berries of various kinds, fuch as cranberries, juniper-berries, rafpberries, partridge berries, goofeberries,
and the pathagomenan, which is fomething like a rafp-
berry ; it grows on a fmall flalk about a foot and a half
high, in wet, mofly fpots. Thefe fruits are in great abundance, though they are not to be found in the fame places,
but in fituations and afperSls fuited to their peculiar
II :■:
!i   i'lf:
The land which borders the lake in this part is loofe
and fandy, but is well covered with wood, compofed of
trees of a larger growth : it gradually rifes from the fhore*
arid at fome diftance forms a ridge of high land running
along the coaft, thick with wood and a rocky fummit rifing
above it.
We fleered South-South-Eaft nine  miles, when we
were very much interrupted by drifting ice, and with fome
Bb 2 difficulty
difficulty reached an ifland, where we landed at feven. I
immediately proceeded to the further part of it, in order to
difcover if there was any probability of our being able to
get from thence in the courfe of the day. It is about five
miles in circumference^ and I was very much furprized 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 flumps were become
altogether rotten. On making inquiry concerning the caufe
of this extraordinary circumftance, the Englifh chief informed me, that feveral winters ago, many of the Slave Indians inhabited the iflands that were fcattered over the bay,
as the furrounding waters abound with fifh throughout the
year, but that they had been driven away by the Knille-
naux, who continually made war upon them. If an efla-
hlifhment is to be made in this country, it muft be in the
neighbourhood of this place on account of the wood and
the fifhery.
At eleven we ventured to re-embark, as the wind had
driven the greateft part of the ice paft the ifland, though
we ftill had to encounter fome broken pieces of it, which
threatened to damage our canoe. We fleered South-Eaft
from point to point acrofs five bays, twenty-one miles.
We took foundings feveral times, and found from fix to ten
fathom water. I obferved that the country gradually def-
cended inland, and was ftill better covered with Wood than
in the higher parts. Wherever we approached the land,
we perceived deferted lodges. The hunters killed two
fwans and a beaver; and at length we landed at eight o'clock
in the evening, when we I unloaded and gummed our
(Friday 26.) We continued our route at five o'clock,
fleering South-Eaft for ten miles acrofs two deep bays :
then South-South-Eaft, with iflands in fight to the Eaft-
ward. We then traverfed another bay in a courfe of three
miles, then South one mile to a point which we named the
Detour, and South-South-Weft four miles and an half,
when there was an heavy fwell off the lake. Here I took
an obfervation, when we were in 61, 40. North latitude.
We then proceeded South-Weft four miles, and Weft-
South-Weft among iflands : on one of which our Indians
killed two rein-deer, but we loft three hours aft wind in
going for them : this courfe was nine miles. About feven
in the evening we were obliged to land for the night,
as the wind became too ftrong from the South-Eaft. We
thought we could obferve land in this dire6tion when the
wind was coming on from fome diftance. On the other
fide of the Detour, the land is low, and the fhore is flat
and dangerous, there being no fafe place to land in bad
weather, except in the iflands which we had juft pafled.
There feemed to be plenty of moofe and rein-deer in this
country, as we faw their tracks wherever we landed. There
were alfo great numbers of white partridges, which are
at this feafon of a grey colour, like that of the moor-fowl.
There was fome floating ice in the lake, and the Indians
killed a couple of fwans.
(Saturday 27.) At three this morning we werei
canoe, after having pafled a very reftlefs night from the
perfecution of the mufquitoes. The weather was fine
and calm, and our courfe Weft-South-Weft nine miles,
when we came to the foot of a traverfe, the oppofite point
in fight bearing South-Weft, diftance twelve miles. The
bay is at leaft eight miles deep, and this courfe two miles
m Ii   I
more, in all ten miles. It now became very foggy, and
as the bays were fo numerous, we landed for two hours,
when the weather cleared up; and we took the advantage of
feering South thirteen miles, and pafled feveral fmall-bays,
when we came to the point of a very deep one, whofe
extremity was not difcernible; the land bearing South
from us, at the diftance of about ten miles. Our guide
not having been here for eight winters, was at a lofs what
courfe to take, though as well as he could recollect, this
bay appeared to be the entrance of the river. According™
we fleered down it, about Weft-South-Weft, till we were
involved in a field of broken ice. We ftill couid not difcover the bottom of the bay, and a fog coming on, made
it very difficult for us to get to an ifland to the 5outh-
Weft, and it was nearly dark when we effected a landing.
( Sunday 28.) At a quarter paft three we were again
on the water, and as we could perceive no*current fetting
into this bay, we made the beft of our way to the point
that bore South from us yefterday afternoon. We continued our courfe South three miles more, South by Weft
feven miles, Weft fifteen miles, when by observation we
were in 61 degrees North latitude; we then proceeded
Weft-North-Weft two miles. Here we came to the foot
of a traverfe, the oppofite land bearing South-Weft, diftance fourteen miles, when we fleered into a deep bayj
about a Wefterly courfe; and though we had no land a
head in fight, we indulged the hope of finding a paflage,
which, according to the Indian, would conduct us to the
entrance of the river.
Having a ftrono; wjfld aft, we loft fiVth of the Indians, noil
could we put on fhore to wait for them, without rifking
material WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.      185
material damsfee to the canoe, till we ran to the bottom of
the bay, and were forced among the rufhes; when we
difcovered that there was no paflage 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 fun-
fet. The Englifh chief was very much irritated againfl
the Red-Knife Indian, and even threatened to murder him,
for having undertaken to guide us in a courfe of which he
was ignorant; nor had we any reafon to be fatisfied with
him, though he ftill continued to encourage us, by declaring
that he recollected having paffed from the river, through
the woods, to the place where he had landed. In the
blowing weather to-day, we were obliged to make ufe of
our large kettle, to keep our canoe from filling, although
we did not carry above three feet fail. The Indians very
narrowly efcaped.
(Monday 29. ) We embarked at four this morning,
and fleered along the South-Weil fide of the bay. At
half paft five we reached the extremity of the point, which
We doubled, and found it to be the branch or paffage that
was the object of our fearch, and occafioned by a very long
illand, which feparates it from the main channel of the
river. It is about half a mile acrofe, and not more than fix
feet in depth; the water appeared to abound in fifh, and
was covered with fowl, fuch as fwarts, geefe, and feveral
kinds of ducks, particularly black ducks, that were very
numerous, but we could not get within gun fhot of them.
The current, though not very ftrong, fet us South-Weft
by Weft, and we followed this courfe fourteen miles, till
HI J 3
we pafled the point of the long ifland, where the Slave Lake
difcharges itfelf, and is ten miles in breadth. There is not
more than from five to two fathom water, fo that when
the lake is low, it may be prefumed the greateft part of
this channel muft be dry. The river now turns to the
weftward, becoming gradually narrower for twenty-fout
miles, till it is not more than half a mile wide; the current,
however, is then much ftronger, and the foundings were
three fathom and a half. The land on the North fhore
from the lake is low, and covered with trees; that to the
South is much higher, and has alfo an abundance of wood.
The current is very ftrong, and the banks are of an equal
height on both fides, confifting of. a yellow clay, mixed
With fmall ftones; they are covered with large quantities
of burned wood, lying on the ground, and young poplar
trees, the have fprung up fince the fire that deftroyed that
larger wood. It is a very curious and extraordinary circumftance, that land covered with fpruce pine, and white
birch, when laid wafle by fire, fhould fubfequently produce
nothing but poplars, where hone of that fpecies of f?h
were previoufly to be found. p|
A ftifF breeze from the Eaftward drove us on at a great
rate under fail, in the fame courfe, though obliged to wind
among iflands. We kept the North channelfor about
ten miles, whofe current is much ftronger than that of the
South; fo that the latter is confequently the better road to
come up. Here the river widened, and the wind dying
away, we had recourfe to our paddles. We kept our
courfe to the North-Weft, on the North fide of the river,
which is here much wider, and aflumes the form of a
fmall lajce; we could not, however, difcover an opening
in any direction, fo that we were at a lofs what couife to
take, fcT'JI'
take, as our Red-Knife Indian had never explored beyond
our prefent fituation. He at the fame lime informed us
that a river falls in from the North, which takes its rife in
the Horn Mountain, now in fight, which is the country of
the Beaver Indians; and that he and his relations frequently
meet on that river. He alfo added, that there are very
extenfive plains on both fides of it, which abound in buffa-
loes and moofe deer.
By keeping this courfe, we got into /hallows, fo that we
were forced to fleer to the left, till we recovered deep water,
which we followed, till the channel of the river opened on
us to the fouthward. We now made for the fhore, and encamped foon after funfet. Our courfe ought to have been
Weft fifteen miles, fince we took to the paddle, the Horn
Mountains bearing from us North-Weft, and running
North-North-Eaft and South-South-Weft. Our foundings, which were frequent during the courfe of the day,
were from three to fix fathoms water. The hunters killed
two geefe and a fwan : it appeared, indeed, that great
numbers of fowls breed in the iflands which we had pafled.
(Tuefday 30.) At four this morning we got under way
the weather being fine and calm. Our courfe was South-
Weft by South thirty-fix miles. On the South fide of
the river is a ridge of low mountains, running Eaft and
Weft by compafs. The Indians picked up a white goofe,
which appeared to have been lately fhot with an arrow,
and was quite frefh. We proceeded South-Weft by South
fix miles, and then came to a bay on our left, which is full
of fmall iflands, and appeared to be the entrance of a river
from the South. Here the ridge of mountains terminates.
This courfe was fifteen miles.
Vol. I. Cc At 1
At fiyi 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 tempeft came on, with
thunder, lightning, and rain, which, however, fosnceafed,
but not before we had fufFered the inconvenience of being
drenched by it. The Indians were very much fatigued,
having been employed in running after wild fowl, which
had lately eaft their feathers; they, however, caught five
fwans, and the fame number of geefe. I founded feveral
times in the courfe of the day, and found from four to fix
fathoms water.
Continue our courfe. The river narrows. Loft the lead.
Faffed a fmall river. Violent rain. Land on a fmall
ifland* Expeft to arrive at the rapids. Conceal two bags
ofpemican in an ifland. A view of mountains. Pafs feveral encampments of the natives. Arrive among the iflands.
Afcend an high hill. Violence of the current. Ice feen along
the banks of the river. Land at a village of the natives.
Their conducl and appearance. Their fabulousJlories. The
Englifh Chief and Indians difcontented. Obtain a new
guide. Singular cufloms of the natives. An account of
their dances. Defcription of their perfom, drefs, ornaments*
buildings, arms for war and hunting, canoes, &c. Faffed
on among iflands. Encamped beneath an hill, and prevented
from afcending by the mufquiioes. Landed at an encampment. Conducl 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, &.    Exchange our guide*    State of the weather.
VI i
1789 July.
we continued our voyage, and in a fhort time found the
river narrowed to about half a mile. Our courfe was
Wefterly among iflands, with a ftrong current. Though
the land is high on both fides, the banks are not perpendicular.    This courfe was twenty-one miles; and on found-
Cc z ihg
151 1
ing we found nine fathoms water. We then proceeded,
Weft-North-Weft nine miles, and pafled a river upon the
South-Eaft fide; we founded, and found twelve fathoms;
and then we went North-Weft by Weft three miles.
Here I loft my lead, which had faftened at $ie bottom,
with part of the line, the current running fo ftrong that
we could not clear it with eight paddles, and the ftrength
of the line, which was equal to four paddles. Continued
North by Weft five miles, and faw an high mountain,
bearing South from us; we then proceeded North-Well
by North four miles. We now pafled a fmall river on
the North fide, then doubled a point to Weft South-Well.
At one o'clock there came on lightning and thunder, with
wind and rain, which ceafed in about half an hour, and
left us almoft deluged with wet, as we did not land. There
were great quantities of ice along the banks of the river.
We landed upon a fmall ifland, where there were the
poles of four lodges Handing, which we concluded to have
belonged to the Kniftineaux, on their war excurfions , fix
or feven years ago. This courfe was fifteen miles Weft,
to where the river of the Mountain falls in from the Southward. It appears to be a very large river, whofe mouth is
half a mile broad. About fix miles further a fmall river
flows in the fame direction; and our whole courfe was
twenty-four miles. We landed oppofite to an ifland, the
mountains to the Southward being in fight. As our canoe
was deeply laden, and being alfo in daily expectation of
coming to the rapids or fall, which we had been taught to
contider with apprehenfion, we concealed two bags of pe-
mican in the oppofite ifland, in the hope that they would
be of future fervice to us. The Indians were of a different
opinion, as they entertained no expectation of returning
fhat feafon, when the hidden provifions would be fpoiled.
Near us were two Indian encampments of the laft year.
By the manner in which thefe people cut their wood, it
appears that they have no iron tools. The current was very
ftrong during the whole of this day's voyage; and in the
article of provifions two fwans were all that the hunters
were able to procure. |&£
( Thurfday 2. ) The morning was very foggy; but at
half paft five we embarked; it cleared up, however, at
feven, when'we difcovered that the water, from being very
limpid and clear, was become dark and muddy. This alteration muft have proceeded from the influx of fome river
to the Southward, but where thefe ftreams firft blended their
waters the fog had prevented us from obferving. At nine
we perceived a very high mountain a-head, which appeared,
on our nearer approach, to be rather a duller of mountains, ftretching as far as our view could reach to the Southward, and whofe tops were loft in the clouds. At noon
there was lightnings thunder, and rain, and at one, we
came abreaft of the mountains : their fummits appeared
to be barren and rocky, but their declivities were covered
with wood : they appeareda}fo to be fprinkled with- white
ftones, which gliftened in the fun, and were called by the
Indians maneioe afeniah, or fpirit ftones. I fufpe6led that
they were Talc, though they pofleffed a more brilliant
whitenefs: on our return, however, thefe appearances were
diffolved, as they were nothing more than patches of fnow.
Our courfe had been Weft>South-Weft thirty miles,
and we proceeded with great caution, as we continually
expected to approach fome great rapid or fail. This was
fuch a prevalent idea, that ail of us were occafionaliy per-
W 3
fuaded that we heard thofe founds which betokened a fall
of water. Our courfe changed to Weft by North, along
the mountains, twelve miles, North by Weft twenty-one
miles, and at eight o'clock in the evening we went on fhore
for the night on the North fide of the river. We saw
feveral encampments of the natives, fome of which had
been erected in the prefent fpring, and others at fome
former period. The hunters killed only one fwan and a
beaver: the latter was the firft of its kind which we had
feen in this river. The Indians complained of the pefrfe-
verance with which we pufhed forward, and that they were
not accuflomed to fuch fevere fatigue as it occafioned.
(Friday 3.) The rain was continual through the night,
and did not fubfide till feven this morning, when we em-5
barked and fleered North-North-Weft for twelve miles,
the river being endofed by high mountains on either fide.
We had a ftrong head-wind, and the rain was fo violent as
to compel us to land at ten o'clock.    According to mfi
reckoning, fince my laft obfervation, we had run two
hundred and feventeen miles Weft, and forty-four miles j
North.    At a quarter paft two the rain fubfided, and we
got again under way, our former courfe continuing for five
miles.    Here a river fell in from the North, and in a fhort
time the current became ftrong and rapid, running witJB
great rapidity among rocky iflands, which were the firft
that we had feen in this river,«and indicated our near approach to rapids and falls.    Our prefent courfe was North*
Weft by North ten miles, North-Weft three miles, Weft-
North-Weft twelve miles, and North-Weft three miles,
when we encamped, at eight in the evening, at the foot of
an high hill, on the north fhore, which in fome parts rofe
perpendicular from the river.    I immediately afcended it*
accompanied WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.      193
accompanied by two men and fome Indians, and in about
an hour and an half, with very hard walking, we gained
.the fummit, when I was very much furprized to find it
crowned by an encampment. The Indians informed me,
that it is the cuflom of the people who have no arms to
choofe thefe elevated fpots for the places of their refidence,
as they can render them inacceflible to their enemies, particularly the Knifleneaux, of whom they are in continual
dread.. Theprofpedl from this height was not foextenfive
as we expected, as it was terminated by a circular range of
hills, of the fame elevation as that on which we flood.
The intervals between the hills were covered with fmall
lakes, vhich were inhabited by great numbers of fwans.
We faw no trees but the pine and the birch, which were
fmall in fize and few in number.
We were obliged to fhorten our flay here, from the
fwarms of mufquitoes which attacked us on all fides, and
were, indeed, the only inhabitants of the place. We faw
feveral encampments of the natives in the courfe of the
day, but none of them were of this year's eftablifhment.
Since four in the afternoon the current had been fo ftrong
that it was, at length, in an actual ebullition, and produced
an hifling noife like a kettle of water in a moderate ftate of
boiling. The weather was now become extremely cold,
which was the more fenfibly felt, as it had been very fultry
fome time before and fince we had been in the river.
(Saturday 4. ) At five in the morning the wind and
weather having undergone no alteration from yefterday, we
proceeded North-Weft by Weft twenty-two miles, North-
Weft fix miles, North-Weft by North four miles, and
Weft North-Weft five miles; we then pafled the mouth
'    •    • I"      • Mfi    of
of a fmall river from the North, and after doubling a point,
South-Weft one mile, we pafled the influx of another river
from the South. We then continued our courfe North-
North-Weft, with a mountain a-head, fifteen miles, when
the opening of two rivers appeared oppofite to each other:
we then proceeded Weft four miles, and North-Weft
thirteen miles. At eight in the evening, we encamped on
an ifland. The current was as ftrong through the whole
of this day as it had been the preceding afternoon ; neverthelefs, a quantity of ice appeared along the banks of the
river. The hunters killed a beaver and a goofe, the former
of which funk before they could get to him : beavers, otters, bears, &c. if fhot dead at once, remain like a bladder,
but if there remains enough of life for them to ftruggle,
they foon fill with water and go to the bottom.
( Sunday 5.) The fun fet laft night at fifty-three minutes paft nine, by my watch, and rofe at feven minutes
before two this morning : we embarked foon after, fleering
North-North-Weft, through iflands for five miles, and
Weft four miles. The river then encreafed in breadth,
and the current began to flacken in a fmall degree; after
the continuation of our courfe, we perceived a ridge of high
mountains before us, covered with fnow, Weft-South-
Weft ten miles, and at three-quarters paft feven o'clock,
we faw feveral fmokes on the North fhore, which we made
every exertion to approach. As we drew nearer, we difcovered the natives running about in great apparent con-
fufion ; fome were making to the woods, and others hurrying to their canoes. Our hunters landed before us, and
adurefled the few that had Hot efcaped, in the Chipewyan
language, which, fo great was their confufion and terror,
they did not appear to underftand. But when they perceived
ceived that it was impoflible to avoid us, as we were all
landed, they made us figns to keep at a diftance, 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 Englifh chief and his
young men were employed in reconciling them to our
arrival; and when they had recovered from their alarm of
hoftile intention, it appeared that fome of them perfectly
comprehended the language of our Indians; fo that they
were at length perfuaded, though not without evident figns
of reluctance and apprehenfion, to come to us. Their
reception, however, foon diffipated their fears, and they
haftened to call their fugitive companions from their hiding
There were five families, confifting of twenty-five or
thirty perfons, and of two different tribes, the Slave and
Dog-rib Indians. We made them fmoke, though it was
evident they did hot know the ufe of tobacco ; we like-
Wife fupplied them with grog; but I am difpofed to think,
that they accepted our civilities rather from fear than inclination, We acquired a more effectual influence over them
by the diftribution of knives, beads, awls, rings, gartering,
ftre-fteels, flints, and hatchets; fo that they became more
familiar even than we expected, for we could not keep them
put of our tents : though I did not obferve that they attempted to purloin any thing.
The information which they gave Tefpecting the river,
had fo much of the fabulous, that I fhall not detail it : it
#ill be fufficient juft to mention their attempts to perfuade
us, that it would require feveral winters to get to the fea,
and that old age would come upon us before^ the period
Vol. I. D d
of our return : we were alfo to encounter monfters of
fuch horrid fhapes and deftru6tive powers as could only
exift in their wild imaginations. They added, befides,
that there were two impaflable falls in the river, the firft
of which was about thirty days march from us.
Though I placed no faith in thefe ftrange relations,
they had a very different effect upon our Indians, who
were already tired of the voyage. It was their opinion
and anxious wifh, that we fhould not hefitate to return.
They faid that, according to the information which they
had received, there were very few animals in the country
beyond us, and that as we proceeded, the fcarcity would
increafe, and we fhould absolutely perifh from hunger, if
no other accident befel us. It was with no fmall trouble
that they were convinced of the folly of thefe reafonings;
and, by my defire, they induced one of thofe Indians to
accompany us, in confideration of a fmall kettle, an axe, a
knife, and fome other articles.
Though it was now three o'clock in the afternoon, the
canoe was ordered to be reloaded, and as we were ready
to embark our new recruit was defired to prepare himfelf
for his departure, which he would have declined; but as
none of his friends would take his place, we may be faid,
after the delay of an hour, to have compelled him to em*
bark. 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
faftened one of them to the hair on the upper part of his
wife's head, blowing on it three times with the utmoft
violence in his power, and uttering certain words. The
other two he faftened with the fame formalities, on the
heads of his two children.
During our fhort flay with thefe people, they amufed
ns with dancing, which they accompanied with their voices ; but neither their fong or their dance poflefled much
variety. The men and women formed a promifcuous
ring. The former have a bone dagger or piece of flick between the fingers of the right hand, which they keep extended above the head, in continual motion : the left they
feldom raife fo high, but work it backwards and forwards
in an horizontal direction ; while they leap about and throw
themfelves into various antic poftures, to the meafure of
their mufic, always bringing their heels clofe to each other
at every paufe- The men occafionally howl in imitation
of fome animal, and he who continues this violent exer-
cife for the longeft period, appears to be confidered as the
beft performer. The women fuffer 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
clumfy and covered with fcabs. The latter circumftance
proceeds probably from their habitually roafting them before the fire. Many of them appeared to be in a very
unhealthy ftate, wbich is owing, as I imagine, to their natural filthinefs. They are of a moderate ftature, and as far
as could be difcovered, through the coat of dirt and greafe
that covers them, are of a fairer complexion than thegerier:
rality of Indians who are the natives of warmer climates.
Some of them have their hair of a great length ; while
others fuffer a long trefs to fall behind, and the reft is cut
fo fhort as to expofe their ears, but no other attention
whatever is paid to it. The beards of fome of the old
men were long, and the reft had them pulled out by the
roots, fo that hot an hair could be feen on their chins.
The men have two double lines, either black or blue,*tat-
Dd   2
1 III 11
'tooed upon each cheek, from the ear to the nofe. The
griftle of the latter is perforated fo as to admit a goofe-qu'ril
or a fmalSpiece of wood to be pafled through the orifice.
Their clothing is made of the dreffed fkins of the rein or
moofedeer, though more commonly of the former. Thefe
they prepare in the ryair for winter, and make fhirts of
both, which reach to the middle of their thighs. Some of
them are decorated with an embroidery of very neat work-
manfhip with porcupine quills and the hair of the moofe,
coloured red, black, yellow, and white. Their upper
garments are fufficiently large to cover the whole body,
with a fringe round the bottom, and are ufed both fleeping
and awake. Their leggins come half way up the thigh,
and areJfewed to their fhoes ; they are embroidered round
the ancle, and upon every feam. The drefs of the women
is the fame as that of the men. The former have no covering on their private parts, except a taflel of leather
which dangles from a fmall cord, as it appears, to keep off
the flies, which would otherwife be very troublefome^
Whether circumcifion be practifed among them, I cannot
pretend to fay, but the appearance of it was general among
thofe whom I faw.
Their ornaments confift of gorgets, bracelets for the
nrmsand wrifts, made of wood, horn, or bone, belts, garters,
and a kind of band to go round the head, compofedofftrips
of leather of one inch and an half broad, embroidered with
porcupine quills, and fluck round with the claws of bears
or wild fowl inverted, to which are fufpended a few fhort
thongs of the fkin of an animal that refembies the ermine,
in the form of a taffei. Their cinctures and garters
are formed of porcupine quills woven with finews, in a
flyle* of peculiar fkill and neatnefs: they have others of
8p! different WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.      199
different materials, and more ordinary workmanfhip ; and
to both they attach a long fringe of firings of leather,
worked round with with hair of various colours. Their
mittens are alfo fufpended from the neck in a pofition
convenient for the reception of the hands.
Their lodges are of a very fimple ftrutSlure : a few poles
fuported by a fork, and forming a femicircle at the bottom,
with fome branches or a piece of bark as a covering, constitutes the whole of their native architecture. They build
two of thefe huts facing each other, and make the fire
between them. The furniture harmonifes with the buildings : they have a few difhes of wood, bark, or horn ; the
veflels in which they cook their victuals, are in the fhape
of a gourd, narrow at the top and wide at the bottom, and
of watape*, fabricated in fuch a manner as to hold water,
which is made to boil by putting a fucceflion of red-hot
ftones into it. Thefe veflels contain from two to fix gallons. They have a number of fmall 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-
fix mefhes in depth. The fhort deep ones they fet in the
eddy current of rivers, and the long ones in the lakes.
They likewife make lines of the finews of the rein-deer,
and manufacture tneir hooks from wood, horn, or bone.
Their arms and weapons for hunting, are bows and arrows,
* Watape is the name given to the divided roots of the
fpruce-fir, which the natives weave into a degree of compactnefs
that renders it capable of containing a fluid. The different
parts of the bark canoes are alfo fewed together with this kind
of filament.
fpears, daggers, and pogamagans, or clubs. The bows
are about five or fix feet in length, and the firings are of
finews or raw fkins. The arrows are two feet and an
half long, including the barb, which is varioufly formed of
bone, horn, flint, iron, or copper, and are winged with
three feathers. The pole of the fpears is about fix feet in
length, and pointed with a barbed bone of ten inches.
With this weapon they fir ike the rein-deer in the water.
The daggers are "flat and fharp-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 inftru-
ment is about two feet in length, and is employed to dif-
patch their enemies in battle, and fuch animals as they
catch in fnares placed for that purpofe. Thefe are about
three fathom long, and are made of the green fkin of the
rein or moofe-deer, but in fuch fmall ftrips, that it requires
from ten to thirty ftrands to make this, cord, which is not
thicker than a cod-line ; and ftrong enough to refill any
animal that can be entangled in it. Snares or nobfes are
alfo made of finews to take lefler animals, fuch as hares
and white partridges, which are very numerous. Their
axes are manufactured of a piece of brown or grey flone
from fix to eight inches long, and two inches thick.
The infide is flat, and the outfide round and tapering to an
edge, an inch wide. They are faftened by the middle with
the flat fide inwards to an handle two feet long, with a
cord of green fkin. This is the tool with which they fplit
their wood, and we believe, the only one of its kind among
them. They kindle fire, by ftriking together a piece oM
white or yellow pyrites and a flint flone, over a piece of
touchwood. They are univerfally provided with a fmall bag
containing thefe materials, fo that they are in a continual
ftate of preparation to produce fire. From the adjoining
tribes, the Red-Knives and Chepewyans, they procure, in
barter for marten fkins and a few beaver, fmall pieces of
iron, of which they manufacture knives, by fixing them
at the end of a fhort ftick, and with them and the beaver's
teeth, they finifh all their work. They keep them in a
fheath hanging to their neck, which alfo contains their
awls both of iron and horn.
Their canoes are fmall, 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 fo flight a
con ft ruction, that the man whom one of thefe light vef-
fels bears on the water, can, in return, carry it over land
without any difficulty/ It is very feldom that more than
oneperfonembarks in them, nor are they capable of receiving more than two. The paddles are fix feet long, one
half of which is occupied by a blade, of about eight inches
wide. Thefe people informed us, that we had pafled large
bodies of Indians who inhabit the mountains on the Eaft
Ude of the river,
At four o'clock in the afternoon we embarked, and our
Indian acquaintance promifed to remain on the bank of the
river till the fall, in cafe we fhould return. Our courfe
was Weft-South-Weft, and We foon pafled the Great Bear
Lake River, which is of a confiderable depth, and an hundred yards wide: its water is clear, and has the greenifh hue
of the fea. We had not proceeded more than fix miles when
we were obliged to land for the night, in confequence of
an heavy guft 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 ftorm every
m i
1 *
day throughout the year. He found himfelf very uncom*
fortable in his new fituation, and pretended that he was\
very 111, in order that he might be permitted to return to
his relations. To prevent his efcape, it became neceflary to
keep a ftrict watch over him during the night.
( Monday 6.) At three o'clock, in a very raw and cloudy morning, we embarked, and fleered Weft-South-Weft
four miles, Weft four miles, Weft-North-Weft five mile||
Weft eight miles, Weft by South fixteen miles, Weft
twenty-feven miles, South-Weft nine miles, then Weft
fix miles, and encamped at half paft feven. , We pafled
through numerous iflands, and had the ridge of fnowy
mountains always in fight. Our conductor informed us
that great numbers of bears, and fmall white buffaloes,
frequent thofe mountains, which are alfo inhabited by Indians. We encamped in a fimilar fituation to that of the
preceding evening, beneath another high rocky hill, which
I attempted to afcend, in company with one of the hunters,
but before we had got half way to the fummit, we
were almoft fuffbcated by clouds of mufquitoes, and were
obliged to return. I obferved, however, that the mountains terminated here, and that a river flowed from the
Weftward : I alfo difcovered a ftrong ripling current, or
rapid, which ran clofe under a fleep precipice of the hill.
(Tuefday 7. } We embarked at four in the morning,
arid crofted to the oppofite fide of the river, in confequence
of the rapid ; but we might have fpared ourfelves this
trouble, as there would have been no danger in continuing
our courfe, without any circuitous deviation whatever.
yhis circumftance convinced us of the erroneous account
given by the natives of the great and approaching dangers
of our navigation, as this rapid was flared to be one of
them.    Our courfe was now North-North-Weft three
miles,  Weft-North-Weft four miles, North-Weft  ten
miles, North two miles, when we came to a river that
flowed from the Eaft ward.    Here we landed at an encampment of four fires, all the inhabitants of which ran off
with the utmoft fpeed, except an old  man and an old
woman.    Our guide called aloud to the fugitives, and entreated them to flay, but without effect:  the old man,
however, did not hefitate to approach us, and aeprefented ■
himfelf as too far advanced in life, and too indifferent about
the fhort time he had to remain in the world, to be very
anxious about efcaping from any danger that threatened
him ; at the fame time he pulled his grey hairs from his head
by handfulls todiftribute among us, and implored our favour
for himfelf and his relations. ^Our guide, however, at length
removed his fears, and perfuaded him to recall the fugitives, who confifted  of eighteen people, whom I  reconciled to me on their return with prefents of beads, knives,
awls, &c. with which they appeared to  be  greatly delighted.    They differed in no refpe£t frdm thofe whom we
had already feen ; nor were they deficient in hofpitable attentions; they provided us with fifh, which was very well
boiled, and cheerfully accepted by us.   Our guide ftill fick-
ened after his home, and was fo anxious to return thither,
that we were under the neceffity of forcing him to embark.
Thefe people informed us that we were clofe to another
great rapid, and that there were feveral lodges of their relations in its vicinity. Four canoes, with a man in each,
followed us, to point out the particular channels we fhould
follow for the fecure  paffage  of the rapid.    They alfo
Vol. I. E e abounded
I    1   .
i !»4»£ I?; i 204   VOYAGE THROUGH THE NORTH-
abounded in difcouraging iftories concerning the dangers
and difficulties which we were to encounter.
From hence our coarfe was North-North-Eaft two
miles, when the river appeared to be enclofed, as it were,
with lofty, perpendicular,white rocks, which did not afford
us a very agreeable profpe£t. We now went on fhore
in order to examine the rapid, but did not perceive any
figns of it, though the Indians ftill continued to magnify
its dangers*: however, as they ventured down it, in their
fmall canoes, our apprehenfions were confequently removed,  and we followed them at fome diftance, but did not
find any increafe in the rapidity of the current; at length
the Indians informed us that we fhould 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 founding I found fifty fathoms water. At the two rivulets that offer their tributary flreams from either^Kde, we
found fix families, coniiftiug of about thirty-five perfons,
who .gave us an ample quantity of excellent fifh, which
were, however, confinedtwo hite fifh, the poiflbn inconnu,
and another of a round form and greenifh colour, which was
about fourteen inches in length. We gratified them
with a few prefents, and continued our voyage. The men,
however, followed us in fifteen canoes.
This narrow channel 4s three miles long, and its courfe
North-North-Eaft. We then fleered North three miles,
and landed at an encampment of three or more families,
containing twenty-two perfons, which was fituated on the
bank of a river, of a confiderable appearance, which came
from the Eaftward. We obtained hares and partridges front
thefe people, and prefented in return fuch articles as greatly WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.      20J
ly 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 iflued, and
in whofe vicinity fome of their people were employed in
fetting fnares for rein deer. They engaged to go for their
articles of trade, and would wait our return, which we af-
fured them would be within two months. There was a
youth among them in the capacity of a flave, whom our
Indians underftood much better than any of the natives of
this country, whom they had yet feen : he was invited to
accompany us, but took the firft opportunity to conceal
himfelf, and we faw him rto more.
We now fleered Weft five miles, when we again landed,
and found two families, containing feven people, but had
feafon to believe that there were others hidden in the
woods. We received from them two dozen of hares, and
they were about to boil two more, which they alfo gave
us. We were not ungrateful for their kindnefs, and left
them. Our courfe was now North-Weft 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 aflured us, from any apprehenfion
of our ill-treatment, but of the Efquimaux, whom he reprefented as a very wicked and malignaxit people; who
would put us all to death. He added, alfo, that it was but
*wo funrmers fince a large party of them came up this river, and killed marry of his relations. Two Indians followed us? from the laft lodges.
At half paft two in the morning we embarked, and
fleered a Wefterly courfe, and foon after put afhore at two
lodges of nine Indians.    We made them a few triftir%
Ee 2 prefents
prefents, but without difembarking, and had proceeded but
a fmall diftance from thence, when we obferved feveral
fmokes beneath an hill, on the North fhore, and on our
approach we perceived the natives climbing the afcent to
gain the woods. The Indians, however, in the two fmall
canoes which were a-head of us, having, aflured them of our
friendly intentions, they returned to their fires, and we
difembarked. Several of them were clad in hare-fkins, 1>ut
in every other circumftance they refembled thofe whom
we had already feen. We were, however, informed that
they were of a different tribe, called the Hare Indians, as
hares and fifh are their principal fupport, from the fcarcity
of rein-deer and beaver, which are the only animals of the
larger kind that frequent this part of the country. They
were twenty-five in number ; and among them was a
woman who was afflicted with an abcefs in the belly, and
reduced, in confequence, to a mere fkeleton : at the fame
time feveral old women were ringing and howling around
her ; but whether thefe noifes were to operate as a charm
for her cure, or merely to amufe and confole her, I do not
pretend to determine. A fmall quantity of our ufual
prefents were received by them with the greateft fatis-
Here we made an exchange of our guide, who had
become fo troublefome that we were obliged to watch him
night and day, except when he was upon the water. The
man, however, who had agreed to go in his place foon repented of his engagement, and endeavoured to perfuade us
that fome of his relations further down the river, would
readily accompany us, and were much better acquainted
with the river than himfelf. But, as he had informed us
ten minutes before that we fhould fee no more of his tribe,
We paid very little attention to his remonftrances, and compelled him to embark.
In about three hours a man overtook us in a fmall canoe,
and we fufpected that his object was to facilitate, in fome
way or other, the efcape of our conductor.    About twelve
we alfo obferved an Indian walking along the North Eaft
fhore, when the fmall 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 fome flefh of the rein-deer, which they offered
to us, but it was fo rotten, as well as offenfive to the fmell,
that we excufed ourfelves frotn accepting it.    They had
alfo their wonderful flories of danger and terror, as well as
their countrymen,  whom we had already feen ; and we
Were now informed, that behind the oppofite ifland there
,was a Manitoe or fpirit,  in the river, which fwallowed
every perfon that approached it.    As it would have employed half a day to have indulged our curiofity in proceeding to examine this phaenomenon, we did not deviate
from our courfe,  but left thefe people with   the ufual
prefents, and proceeded on our voyage.    Our courfe and
diftance this day were Weft twenty-eight miles, Weft-
North-Weft twenty-three miles, Weft-South-Weft fix
miles, Weft by North five miles, South-Weft four miles,
and encamped at eight o'clock.    A fog prevailed the greater
part of the day, with frequent fhowers of fmall rain.
The new guide makes his efcape.    Compel another to fupply his
place.    Land at an encampment of another tribe of Indians.    Account of their  manners,   drefs,   weapons, &c*
Traffic with them.    Defcription of a beautiful fi/b.    En£m
gage another guide.    His curious behaviour.    Kill a fox
and ground-hog.    Land at an encampment of a tribe called
the Deguthee Denees, or ^htarellers.    Saw flax growing®
wild.    The varying character of the river and its  banksM
Diflant mountains.    Perplexity from the numerous channels
of the river.    Determined to proceed.    Land where there
had been an encampment of the Efquimaux.    Saw  large$
flocks of wild fowl.    View of the fun at midnight.    Defcription of a place lately deferted by the Indians.    Houfes of
the natives defcribed.    Frequent Jhowers.    Saw a  black
fox.    The difcontents of our hunters renewed, and pacifiedM
Face of the country.    Land at a fpot lately inhabited.    Peculiar ciremftances of it.    Arrive at the entrance of the lake\
Proceed to an ifland.    Some account of it.
( Thurfday 9.) J[_ HUNDER and rain prevailed &orin^
the night, and, in the courfe of it, our guide deferted; we
therefore compelled another of thefe people, very, much
againft his will, to fupply the place of his fugitive coun«|
tryman. We alfo took away the paddles of one of them
who remained behind, that he m'ght not follow us on any
fcheme of promoting the efcape of his companion, who
I was W   WEST GONffNENT OF- AMERICA.'    209
was not eafijy pacified. At length, however, we fucceeded
in the act: of conciliation, and at half paft Jtjaree quitted our
flation. In a fhort time we faw a fmoke on the Eaft fhore,
and directed our courfe towards it. Our new guide began
immediately to call to the people that belonged to it in a
particular manner, which we did not comprehend. He
informed us that $hey were not of his tribe, but wejce a
very wicked, malignant people, who would beat us cruelly
pull our hair wi^h great violence from our heads, and maltreat us in various other ways.
The men waited ouk arrival, but the women and children took to the woods. There were but four of thefe
people, and previous to our landing,, they all harangued
us at the fame moment, and apparently with violent
anger and refentment. Our hunters did not underftand
them, but no fooner had our guide adrefled them,
*than they were appeafed. I prefented them with beads,
awls, etc. and when the women and children returned
from the woods, they were gratified with fimiliar articles.
There were fifteen of them ; and of a more pleafing appearance than any which we had hitherto feen, as they
were healthy, full of flefh, and clean in their perfons.
Their language was fomewhat different, but I believe
chiefly in the accent, for they and our guide converfed intelligibly with each other ; and the Englifh chief clearly
comprehended one of them, though he was not himfelf
Their arms and utenfils differ but little from thofe which
have been defcribed in a former chapter. The only iron
they have is in fmall pieces, which ferve them for knives.
They obtain this metal from the Efquimaux Indians.
Their arrows are made of very light wood, and are winged
*m ■—» J
only with two feathers; their bows differed from any which
we had feen, .and we underftood that they were furnifhed
by the Efquimaifx, who are their neighbours: they eonfift
of two pieces, with a very ftrong cord of finews along the
back, which is tied in feveral places, to preferve its fhape;
'when this cord becomes wet, it requires a ftrong bow flrin^j
and a powerful arm to draw it.    The veffel in which they
prepare their food, is made of a thin frame of wood, and
of an oblong fhape ; the bottom is fixed in a groove, in the
fame manner as a cafk.    Their fhirts are not cut fquare at
the bottom, but taper to a point, from the belt downwards
as low as the knee, both before and behind, with a border,
embellifhed with a fhort fringe.    They ufe alfo another
fringe, fimilar to that which has been already defcribed,
with the addition of the flone of a grey farinaceous berry,
of the fize and fhape of a large barley-corn : it is of a browiS
colour, and fluted, and being bored is run on each firing of
the fringe; with this they decorate their fhirts, by fewing
it in a femicircle on the breaft and back, and croffing over
both fhoulders; the fleeves are wide and fhort, but the mittens fupply their deficiency, as they are long enough toj
reach over a part of the fleeve, and are commod.ouily (urn
pended by a cord from the neck.    If their leggins were
made with waiftbands, they might with great propriety be
denominated trowfers: they faften them with a cord round
the middle, fo that they appear to have a fenfe of decency
.which their neighbours cannot boaft.     Their fhoes are
fewed to their leggins, and decorated on every feam.    One
of the'men was clad in a fhirt made of the fkins of the
mufk-rat.    The drefs of the women is the fame as that of
the men,  except in their fhirts, which are longer, and
without the finifhing of a. fringe on their breaft.    Their
peculiar mode of tying the hair is as follows : — that
which ill
which grows on the temples, or the fore part of thewUkulI,-
is formed into two queues, hanging down before the ears ;
that of the fcalp or crown is fafhioned in the fame manner
to the back of the neck, and is then tied with the reft of
the hair, at fome diftance from the head. A thin cord is
employed for thefe purpofes, and very neatly worked witl$
hair, artificially coloured. The women, and, indeed, fome
of the men, let their hair hang loofe on their fhoulders,
whether it be long or fhort.
We purchafed a couple of very large moole fkins from,
them, which were very well dreffed ; indeed we did not
fuppole that there were any of thofe animals in the country ; and it appears from the accounts of the natives themfelves, that they are very fcarce. As for the beaver, the
exiftence of fuch a creature does not feem to be known by
them. Our people bought fhirts of them, and many curious articles, &c. They prefented us with a moft delicious fifh, which was lefs than an herring, and very beautifully fpotted with black and yellow : its dorfal fin reached
from the head to the tail; in its expanded ftate it takes a
triangular form, and is variegated with the colours that
enliven the faales : the head is very fmall, and the mouth
is armed with fharp pointed teeth.
We prevailed on the native, whofe language was moft
intelligible, to accompany us. He informed us that we
fliould fleep ten nights more before we arrived at the fea ;
that feveral of his relations refided in the immediate vicinity of this part of the river, and that in three nights we
fhould meet with the Efquimaux, with whom they had
formerly made war, but were now in a ftate of peace and
amity.   He mentioned the laft Indians whom we had feen.
Vol. I. Ff in
in terms of great derifion ; defcribing them as being na
better than old women, and as abominable liars ; which
coincided with the notion we. already entertained of them.
As we pufhed off, fome of my men difcharged their fowl-'
ing pieces, that were onl\ loaded with powder, at the report of which the Indians were very much alarmed, as they
had not before heard the difcharge of fire arms. This circumftance had fuch an effect upon our guide, that we
had reafon to apprehend he would not fulfil his promife,
When, however, he was informed that the noife which he
had heard was a fignal of friendfhip, he was perfuaded to
embark in his own fnaall canoe, though he had been offered
a-feat in ours.
Two of his companions, whom he reprefented as his
brothers, followed us in their canoes ; and they amufed us
not only with their native fongs, fo enlivened by them/
that the antics he performed, in keeping time to the fing-
irig, alarmed us with continual apprehenfion that his boat
muft upfet: but he was not long content with his confined
fituation, and paddling up along-fide our canoe, requefted
us to receive him in it, though but a fhort time before he
had refolutely refufed to accept our invitation. No fooner
had he entered our canoe, than he began to perform an
Efquimaux dance, to our no fmall alarm. He was, however, foon prevailed upon to be more tranquil ; when he
began to difplay various indecencies, according to the
cuftoms of the Efquimaux, of which heboafted an intimate
acquaintance. On our putting to fhore, in order to leave
hi!s canoe, he informed us, that on the oppofite hill the Efquimaux, three winters before, killed his grandfather. We
faw a fox, and a ground hog on the hill, the latter of
Which the brother of our guide fhot with his bow and
arrow. Bfe
About four in the afternoon we perceived a fmoke on
the Weft fhore, when we traverfed and landed. The
natives made a moft terrible uproar, talking with great
vociferation, and running about as if they were deprived of
their fenfes, while the greater part of the women, with
the children, fled away. Perceiving the diforder whMli
our appearance occafioned among thefe people, we had
waited fome time before we quitted the canoe; and #liave
no doubt, if we had been without people to introduce usf
that they would have attempted fome violence againft W*
for when the Indians fend away their women andkhildren^
it is always wim'an hoftile defign. At length we pacified
them with the ufual prefents, but they preferred beads^TO
any of the articles that $&fFer$d them ; particularly ffich as
were of a blue colour ; and one of them even requefted to'
exchange a knife which I had given him for a fmall quan^
tity o¥*tnbfe ornamental baubles. I purchafed of them
tw#fhirts for my hunters ; and at the fame time tbelppre-
fen'ted me with fome arrows, and dried fifh. This party
confifted of five families, to the amount, as I suppofe, of
forty men, women, and children ; but I did not fee them
all, as feveral were afraid to venture from their hiding-
places.    They are called Deguthee Dines, or the Quarellks,
Our guide, like his predeceflbrs, now manifefted his
wifh to leave us, and entertained fimilar apprehenfions that
we fhould not return by this*paflage. He had his alarms
alfo reflecting the Efquimaux, who might kill us^and
take away the women. Our Indians, however, aflured him
that we had no fears of any kind, and thjuNhe need not be
Ff % alarmed
' 14
til L
ini if it
ii ii
i i
Hit 1
alarmed fog himfeJS^Theyblfo convinced him that *$$
fhould return by the way we were going, fo that he. con-
fen ted to re-embark without giving us any further trouble;
and eight fmall canoes followed us. Our courfes this day
were Sjputh-Weft b^Weft fix miles, South-Weft by
South thirty miles, South-Weft three miles, Weft by
South twelve miles, Weft by; North two miles, and we
encamped at eight in the evening on the Ejgtfter.n bank of
ttet^er|3&.     %Jpfe   ..— ;" .-/JL .      .   .f' .-■
The Indians^whom I found here, informed $ne, that
from tj|e place where I thisjmorning met the iirft of their
tribe, the diftance overland, on-.$jhe Eaft fide, to the fea,
was,SlS|JSlPS S and that from hence, by proceeding, to tj|£j|.
Weftward,  it was ftill fhorter.    They alfo reprefented the
land on both fides as projecting to a point.    Thefe people
do not appear to harbour any thievifh difpofitlpns; at leaft
we did not perceivet|hat they took, or^wanted to take, anjL.
thing from us by Health or artifice. They enjoyed the amu-
fements of dancing and jumpinjg in common with thofe we;
had already (fen ;  and^indeed,. thefe excretes feem to be
their favourite diverfion^ About   mid-daj^jthe weatheji
was fultry, but in the afternoon it became ^old.r^There
was a large quantity of wild flax, the growth of the laft
year, laying on the ground, and the new plants werefproufc|
ing u$ through it.    This circumftance I did not obferve
in any other part.
At four in the morning we embarked, at a fmall Qifta&ce
frornjjhe place of our encampment; the river, which here
becomes narrower, flows between high rocks; and a mean-
dring courfe took us l North-Weft four  miles.    At  this
'to n***
fpot the banks became low jj indeed, from the firft rapid, the
country does not wear a mountainous appearance ; but
the banks of the river are generally lofty, in* fome places
perfectly naked, arid in others well covered with fmall
trees, fuch as the fir and the birch. We continued our laft
courfe for two miles, with mountains before us, whofe tops
were covered with fnow.
The land is low on both fides of the river, except thefe
mountains, whofe bafe is diftant about ten miles : here the
river widens, and runs through various channels, formed
by iflands, fome of which are without a tree, and little
more than banks of mud and fand ; while others are covered
with a kind of fpruce fir, and trees of a larger fize than we
had feen for the laft ten days. Their banks, which are
about fix feet above the furface of the water, difplay a
face of folid ice, intermixed with veins of black earth and
as the heat of the fun melts the ice, the trees >ifequently
fail into the river^M &
W f:J|
So various were the channels of the river at this time,
that we were at a lofs which to take. Our guide preferred
fhe Eailernmoft, on account of the Efquimaux, but I determined to take th&middle channel, as it appeared to be a
larger body of water^'and running North and South :
feefides, as there was a greater chance of feeing them I
concluded, that we could always go to the Eaftward, whenever we might prefer it. Our courfe was now Weft by
North fix miles, North-Weft by Weft, the fnowy mountains being Weft bySouth from us, and ftretching to the
Northward as far as we could fee. 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  obfervation this day that gave
me 3
me 67. 47. North latitude, which was farther North
than I expeelsed, according to the courfe J kept; but the
difference was owing to the variation ofthe compafs, which
was more Eaflerly than I imagined!. From hence it was
evident that thefe waters emptied;|hemfelves into the Hyperborean Sea ; and though it was probable that, from the
want of provifion, we could not return to Athabafca in the
courfe of the feafon, I neverthelefs, determined to penetiate
to the difcharge of them.
My new conductor being vesy.much difcouraged and.
quite tired of his fituation, ufed his influence to prevent
our proceeding. sHe had never been, he faid, at the Bena-
hulla Toe, or White'-.Man's Lake; and that when he wen*
to the Efquimaux Lake, which is at no great diftance, he
pafled over land from the place where we found him, and
to that part where the Efquimaux pafs the fummer. In
fhort, my hunters alfo became fo difheartened from thefe
accounts , and other circumfiances, that I was confident
they would have left me, if it had been in their power.. *-$m
however, fatisfied them, in fome degree, by the affurance,
that I would proceed onwards but feven days more, and
if I did not then get to the fea, I would return. Indeed,
the low ftate of our provifions, without any other confine-
ration, formed a very fufficient fecurity for the maintenance
of my engagement. Our laft courfe was thirty-two miles,*
with a ftronger current than could be expe&ed in fuch a
low country.
We now proceeded North-North-Weft four miles,
North-Weft three miles, North-Eaft two miles, North-
Weft by Weft three miles, and North-Eaft two miles.
At half paft eight in the evening we landed and pitched
'Qm our!
our tents, near to where there had been three encampments
of the Efquimaux, fince the breaking up of the ice. The
natives, who followed us yefterday, left us at our flation
this morning. In the courfe of the day we law large flocks
of wild fowl.
(Saturday 11.) I fat up all night to obferve the fun.
At half paft twelve I called up one of the men to view a
fpectacle which he had never before feen ; when,- on feeing
the fun fo high, he thought it was a fignal to embark, and
began to call the reft of his companions, who would fcarce-
ly be perfuaded by me, that the fun had not defcended
nearer to the horizon, and that it was now but a fhort time
paft midnight.
We repofed, however, till three quarters after three,
when we entered the canoe, and fleered about North-Weft,
the river taking a very ferpentine courfe. About feven
we faw a ridge of high land : at twelve we landed at a fpot
where we obferved that fome of the natives had lately been.
I counted thirty places where there had been fires*; and
fome of the men who went further, faw as many more.
They muft have been here for a confiderable time, though
it does not appear that they had ere6ted any huts. A great
number of poles, however, were feen fixed in the river, to
which they had attached their nets, and there feemed to
be an excellent fifhery. One of the fifh, of the many
which we faw leap out of the water, fell into our canoe ;
it was about ten inches long and of a round fhape. About
the places where they had made their fires were fcattered
pieces of whalebone, and thick burned leather, with parts
pf the frames of three canoes; we could alfo obferve where
they had fpilied train oil; and there was the lingular appearance W"
ranee of a fpruce fir, ftripped of its branches to the top
like an Englifh may-pole. The weather was cloudy, and
the air cold and unpleafant. From this place for abo«
five miles, the river widens, it then flows in a variety of
narrow, meandering channels, amongft low iflands, enlivened with no trees, but a few dwarf willows.
At four, we landed, where there were three houfes, 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 furface of the ground,
and one half of it is covered oyer with willow branches;
which probably ferves as a bed for the whole family.    A
fpace, in the middle of the other part, of about four feet
wide, is deepened twelve inches more, and is the only
fpot in the houfe where a grown perfon can Hand upright.
One fide of it is covered, as has been already defcribed,
and the other in the hearth   or fire-place,   of which,
however, they do not make much ufe.    Though it was
clofe to the wall, the latter did not appear to be burned.
The door or entrance is in the middle of one end of the
houfe, arid is about two feet and an half high and two
feet wide, and has a covered way or porch five  feet in!
length ; fo that it is abfolutely neceflary to creep on all
fours in order to get into, or out of, this curious  habita*
tion.    There is an hole of about eighteen inches fquare
on the top of it, which ferves the three-fold purpofe of a
window,    an  occafional  door,   and   a   chimney.    The
under-ground part of the floor is lined with fplit wood.
Six or eight flumps of fmall trees driven into the earth,
With the root upwards,  on which  are  laid fome crofs:
pieces of timber, fupport the roof of the building, which
is Wt
is an oblong fquare of ten feet by fix. The whole is
made of drift-wood covered with branches and dry grafs ;
over which is laid a foot deep of earth. On each fide of
thefe houfes are a few fquare holes in the ground of
about two feet in depth, which are covered with fplit
wood and earth, except in the middle. Thefe appeared
to be contrived for the prefervation of the winter ftock of
provifions. In and about the houfes we found fledge
runners and bones, pieces of whalebone, and poplar bark
cut in circles, which are ufed as corks to buoy the nets,
and are fixed to them by pieces of whalebone. Before
each hut a great number of itumps of trees were fixed in
the ground, upon which it appeared that they hung their
fifh to dry.
We now continued our voyage, and encamped at
eight o'clock. I calculated our courfe at about North-
Weft, and, allowing for the windings, that we had made
fifty-four miles. We expected, throughout the day, to
meet with fome of the natives. On feveral of the iflands
we perceived the print of their feet in the fand, as if
they had been there but a few days before, to procure wild fowl. There were frequent fhowers of rain
in the afternoon, and the weather was raw and difa-
greeable. We faw 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 drfcontents 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 fee a larger lake
on the morrow.    Neither he nor his relations, he faid,
Vol.   I.
knew any thing about it, except that part which is oppofite to, and not far from, their country. The Efquimaux alone, he added, inhabit its fhores, and kill
a large fifh that is found in it, which is a principal
part of their food ; this, we prefumed, muft be the
whale. He alfo mentioned white bears and another
large animal which was feen in thofe parts, but our
hunters could not underftand the defcription which he
gave of it. He alfo reprefented their canoes as being|
of a large conftru6lion, which would commodioufly
contain four or five families. However, to reconcile
the Englifh chief to the neceflary continuance in my
fervice, I prefented him with one of my capots or
travelling coats ; at the fame time, to fatisfy the guid|j
and keep him, if poflible, in good humour, I gave him
a fkin of the moofe-deer, which, in his opinion, was
a valuable  prefent.
(Sunday 12.) It rained with violence throughout the
night, and till two in the morning ;  the weather continuing very cold.    We proceeded on the fame meandering   courfe   as   yefterday,   the    wind  North-North-
Weft, and the country fo naked that fcarce  a fhrurjj
was to be feen.    At ten   in  the  morning, we landed^
where there were four huts, exactly the fame as thofe
which   have   been   fo   lately   defcribed.    The adjacent
land is high and covered  with fhort grafs and flowers,
though the earth was  not  thawed above   four  inches
from the furface; beneath which was a folid body of
ice.    This beautiful appearance, however, was ftrangelyr
contrafted with the ice and  fnow that are feen in the
yallies.    The foil,  where there is any, is a yellow clay
mixed with   ftones.    Thefe huts appear to have been
inhabited during the laft winter ; and we had reafon
to think, that fome 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
fledges were laid together, near the houfes, in a manner that feemed to denote the return of the proprietors. There were alfo pieces of netting made of
finews, and fome bark of the willow. The thread of
the former was plaited, and no ordinary portion of
time muft have been employed in manufacturing fo
great a length of cord. A fquare Hone-kettle, with
a flat bottom, alfo occupied our attention, which was
capable of containing two gallons ; and we were puzzled as to the means thefe people muft have employed to have chifelled it out of a folid rock into
its prefent form. To thefe articles may be added, fmall
pieces of flint fixed into handles of wood, which, probably,
ferve as knives; feveral wooden difhes ; the ftern and
part of a large canoe ; pieces of very thick leather,
which we conjedtured to be the covering of a canoe;
feveral bones of large fifh, and two heads; but we
could not determine the animal to which they belonged, though we conjectured that it muft be the fea-
When we had fatisfied our curiofity we re-embarkedr
but we were at a lofs what courfe to fleer, as our guide
feemed to be as ignorant of this country as ourfelves.
Though the current was very ftrong, we appeared to have
come to the entrance of the lake. The flream fet to the
Weft, and we went with it to an high point, at the diftance
of about eight miles, which we conjectured to be an ifland;
but, 'on approaching it, we perceived it to be connected
G g  I with
Hi Mr"
with the fhore by a low neck of land. I now took an
obfervation which gave 69. 1. North latitude. From the
point that has been juft mentioned, we continued the fame
courfe for the Wrefternmoft point of an high ifland, and
the Wefteinmoft land in fight, at the diftance of fifteen
The lake was quite open to us to the Weftward, and
out of the channel of the river there was not more than
four feet water, and in fome places the depth did not exceed
one foot. From the fhallownefs of the water it was impoflible to coaft to the Weftward.. At five o'clock we
arrived at the ifland, and during the laft fifteen miles, five
feet was the deepeft water. The lake now appeared to be
covered with ice, for about two leagues diftance, and no
land ahead, fo that we were prevented from proceeding in
this direction by the ice, and the fhallownefs of the water
along the fhore.
We landed at the boundary of our voyage in this direction, and as foon as the tents were pitched I ordered the
nets to be fet, when I proceeded with the Englifh chief to
the higheft part of the ifland, from which we difcovered
the folid ice, extending from the South-Weft by compafs
to the Eaftward. As far as the eye could reach to the
South-Weftward, we could dimly perceive a chain of
mountains, ftretching fuither to the North than the edge
of the ice, at the diftance of upwards of twenty leagues.
To the Eaftward we faw many iflands, and in our progrefs
we met with a confiderable number of white partridges,
now become brown. There were alfo flocks of very beautiful plovers, and I found the neftofone of them with four
eggs.    White owls, likewife, were among the inhabitants
of the place : but the dead, as well as the living, demanded
our attention, for we came to the grave of one of the
natives, by which lay a bow, a paddle, and a fpear. The
Indians informed me that they landed on a fmall ifland,
about four leagues from hence, where they had feen the
tracks of two men, that were quite frefh ; they had alfo
found a fecret (lore of train oil, and feveral bones of white
bears were fcattered about the place where it was hid.
The wind was now fo high that it was impracticable for
us to vifit the nets* |j
My people could not, at this time, refrain from expref-
fions of real concern, that they were obliged to return
•without reaching the fea: indeed the hope of attaining this
object: encouraged them to bear, without repining, the
hardfhips of our unremitting voyage. For fome time paft
their fpirits were animated by the expectation that another
day would bringthem to theMerdeVouefll: and even in our
prefent fituation they declared their readinefs to follow me
wherever I fhould be pleafed to lead them. We faw feveral
large white gulls, and other birds, whofe backs, and upper
feathers of the wing, are brown ; and whofe belly, and under
feathers of the wing are white.
'HEW 1
ill b'flu
The baggage removed from  the rifing of the water.   One
of the   nets   driven   away   by   the   wind  and   current*
Whales are feen.    Go in purfuit of them, but prevented
from continuing it  by the fog.    Proceed to take a view
of the ice.    Canoe in danger from the Jwell.    Examine
the iflands.     Defcribe one  of them.     Erecl   a pofl t9
perpetuate   our   v'tfit   there.     The   rifing   of the water
appears   to   be   the   tide.    Succcfsful fifhing.    Uncertain
weather.    Sail among the iflands.     Proceed to a  river.
Temperature   of the   air   improves.    Land on a fmall
ifland, which is  a place of fepulture.    Defcription of it*
See a great  number  of wild fowl.    Fine view   of the
river from the high  land.    The  hunters   kill rein-deerM
Cranberries, &c. found in great plenty.    The appearance
and flate   of the   country.    Our  guide  deferts.    Large
flight   of geefe  :   kill   many   of  them.      Violent   rain.
Return up the river.    Leave the channels for the' main
flream.    Obliged to  i§w   the  canoe.    Land  among   the
natives.    Circumfiances  concerning them-.    Their account
of tbe Efquimaux   Indians.    Accompany   the  natives   to
their huts.    Account  of our provifions.
(Monday 13.) V V ^ ^a^ no f°oner retired to reft
laft night, if I may ufe that expreflion, in a country where
the fun never finks beneath the-horizon, than fome of the
people were obliged to rife and remove the baggage, on
account of the rifing 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 from its pofition by the wind and current.
We caught feven poiflbns inconnus, which were unpalatable ; a white fifh, that proved delicious ; and another about
the fize of an herring, which none of us had ever feen before, except the Englifh chief, who recognized it as being
of a kind that abounds in Hudfon's Bay. About noon the
wind blew hard from the Weftward, when I took an obfervation, which gave 69. 14. North latitude, and the meridian variation of the compafs was thirty-fix degrees Eaft-
This afternoon I re-afcended the hill, but could not difcover that the ice had been put in motion by the force of
the wind. At the fame time I could juft diftinguifh two
fmall iflands in the ice, to the North-Weft by compafs.
I now thought it neceflary to give a new net to my men
to mount, in order to obtain as much provifion as poflible
from the water, our flores being reduced to about five
hundred weight, which, without any other fupply, would
not have fufficed for fifteen people above twelve days. One
of the young Indians, however, was fo fortunate as to find
the net that had been miffing, and which contained three
of the poiflbns inconnus.
(Tuefday 14.) It blew very hard from the North-Weft
fince the preceding evening. Having fat up till three in
the morning, I flept longer than ufual; but about eight one
* The longitude has fince been difcovered by the deaa
reckoning to be 13;. Weft.
!' '    of 1
of my men faw a great many animals in the water, which
he at firft fuppofed to be pieces of ice. About nine, however, I was awakened to refolve the doubts which had
taken place refpecting this extraordinary app6arance, I
immediately perceived that they were whales; and having
ordered the canoe to be prepared, we embarked in purfuit
of them. It was, indeed, a very wild and unreflecting
enterprife, and it was a very fortunate circumftance that we
failed in our attempt to overtake them, as a ftroke from
the tail of one of thefe enormous fifh would have dafhe<i|
the canoe to pieces. We may, perhaps, have been indebted
to the foggy weather for our fafety, as it prevented us from
continuing our purfuit. Our guide informed us that they
are the fame kind of fifh which are the principal'food of
the Efquimaux, and they were frequently feen as large as
our canoe. The part of them which appeared above the
water was altogether white, and they were much larger than
the largeft porpoife.
About twelve the fog difperfed,  and being curious to
take a view of the ice, I gave orders for the canoe to be got
in readinefs.    We accordingly embarked, and the Indians
followed us.    We had not, however, been an hour on the
water,  when the wind rofe on a hidden from the North-'
Eaft, and obliged us to tack about,  and the return of the
fog prevented us from afcertaining our diftance from the
ice;  indeed, from this circumftance, the ifland which we
had fo lately left was but dimly feen.    Though the wind
was clofe, we ventured to hoift the fail, and from the violence of the fwelMt was only by great exertions that two men
could bale out the water from our canoe.    We were in a
ftate of aclual danger, and felt every correfponding emotion
of pleafure when we reached the land.    The Indians had
fortunately WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.     227
fortunately got more to^windward, fo that the fwell in fome
meafure drove them on fhore, though their canoes were
nearly filled with water; and had they been laden, we fhould
have feen them no more. As I did not propofe to fatisfy
my curiofity at the rifk of fimilar dangers, we continued
our courfe along the iflands, which fcreened us from the
wind. I was now determined to take a more particular
examination of the iflands, in the hope of meeting with
parties of the natives, from whom I might be able to obtain
fome interefting intelligence, though our conductor dif-
couraged my expectations by reprefenting them as very
fhy and inacceflible people. At the fame time he informed
me that we fhould probably find fome of them, if we navigated the channel which he had originally recommended
us to enter.
At eight we encamped on the Eaftern end of the ifland,
which I had named the Whale Ifland. It is about {even
leagues in length, Eaft and W7eft by compafs ; but not
more than half a mile in breadth. We faw feveral red
foxes, one of which was killed. There were alfo dve or
fix very old huts on the point where we had taken our
flation. The nets were now fet, and one of them in five
fathom water, the current fetting Norh-Eaft by compafs.
This morning I ordered a poft to be erected clofe tc^our
tents, on which I engraved the latitude of the place, my
own name, the number of perfons which I had with me,
and the tirne we remained there.
( Wednef. 15. ) Being awakened by fome cafual circumftance, at four this morning, 1 was furprifed on perceiving that the water had flowed under our baggage. As
the wind had not changed, and did not blow With greater
Vol. I. H h violence
violence than when we went to reft, we were ail of opi-.
nion that this circumftance proceeded from the tide. We
Bad, indeed, obferved at the other end of the ifland that the
water rofe and fell; but we then imagined that it muft
have been occafioned by the wind. The water continued
to rife till about fix, but I could not afcertain the time
with the requlfite precifion, as the wind then began to
blow with great violence ; I therefore determined, at all
events, to remain here till the next morning, though, as
it happened, the ftate of the wind was fuch as to render
my flay here an act of neceflity. Our nets were not very
fuccefsful, as they prefented us vMth only eight fifh. From
an obfervation which I obtained at noon, we were in 69.
7. North latitude. As the evening approached, the wind
increafed, and the weather became cold. Two fwans were
the only provifion which the hunters procured for us.
( Trrarfday 16. ) The rain did not ceafe till feven thiij
morning, the weather being at intervals very cold and un-
pleafant. Such was its inconftancy, that I could not make
an accurate obfervation; but the tide appeared to rife fixteen
or eighteen inches.
We now embarked, and fleered under fail among thii
iflands, where I hoped to meet with fome of the natives,
but my expectation was not gratified. Our guide imagined that they were gone to their diftant haunts, where they
fifh for whales and hunt the rein-deer, that are oppofite to
his country. His relations, he faid, fee them every year,
but he did not encourage us to expe6t that we fhould find
any of them, unlefs it were at a fmall river that falls kito
the great one, from the Eaftward, at a confiderable diftance
from our immediate fituation.   We accordingly made for
the river, and flemmed the current. At two in the afternoon the water was quite fhallow in every part of our
courfe, and we could always find the bottom with the
paddle. At feven we landed, encamped, and fet the nets.
Here the Indians killed two geefe, 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
pieafant circumftance was not without its inconvenience,
as it fubjected us to the perfecution of the mufquitoes.
( Friday 17. ) On taking up the nets, they were found
to contain but fix fifh.    We embarked at four in the morning, and pafled four encampments,   which appeared  to
have been very lately inhabited.    We then landed upon a
fmall round ifland, clofe to the Eaftern fhore, which pof-
fefled fomewhat of a facred character, as the top of it feemed
to be a place of fepulture, from the numerous graves which
we obferved there.    We found the frame of a final! canoe, with various difhes, troughs, and other utenfils, which
had been the living property of thofe who could now ufe
them no more, and form the ordinary accompaniments of
their laft abodes.    As no part of the fkins that muft have
covered the canoe was remaining, we concluded that it had
been eaten by wild animals that inhabit, or occafionally
frequent, the ifland.    The frame of the canoe, which was
entire, was put together with whalebone : it was fewed in
fome parts, and tied in others.    The fledges 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, fewed with whalebone; to three
other thin fpars of wood, which were of the fame height,
and fixed in the runners by means of mortifes, were fewed
two thin broad bars lengthways, at a fmall diftance from
each other; thefe frames were fixed together with three or
four crofs bars, tied fait upon the runners; and on the lower
edge of the latter, fmall pieces of horn were faftened by
wooden pegs, that they might Aide with greater facility.
They are drawn by fhafts, which I imagine are applied to
any particular fledge as they are wanted, as I faw no more
than one pair of them.
About half paft one we came oppofite to the firft fpruce-
tre,e that we had feen for fome time : there are but very
few of them on the main land, and they are very fmall;
thofe are larger which are found on the iflands, where they
grow in patches, and clofe together. It is, indeed, very
extraordinary that there fhould be any wood whatever in a
country where the ground never thaws above five inches
from the furface. We landed at feven in the evening.
The weather was now very pleafant, and in the courfe of
the day we faw great numbers of wild fowl, with their
young ones, but they were fo fhy that we could not approach them. The Indians were not very fuccefsful in
their foraging party, as they killed only two grey cranes,
and a grey goofe. Two of them were employed on the
high land to the Eaftward, through the greater part of the
day, in fearch of rein-deer, but they could difcover nothing
more than a few tracks of that animal. I alfo afcended
the high land, from whence I had a delightful view of the
river, divided into innumerable ftreams, meandering through
iflands, fome of which were covered with wood, and others
with grafs. The mountains, that formed the oppofite horizon, were at the diftance of forty miles. The inland'
view was neither fo extenfive nor agreeable, being terminated by a near range of bleak, barren hills, between which
are fmall lakes or ponds, while the furrounding country is
covered with tufts of mofs, without the fhade of a fingle
tree. Along the hills is a kind offence, made with bran-
ches, where the natives had fet fnares to catch white partridges.
(Saturday 18. ) The nets did not produce a fingle
fifh, and at three o'clock in the morning we took our departure. The weather was fine and clear, and we pafled
feveral encampments. As the prints of human feet were
very frefh in the fand, it con Id not have been long fince
the natives had vifited the fpot. We now proceeded in
the hope of meeting with fome of them at the river,
whither our guide was conducting us with that expectation.
We obferved a great number of trees, in different places,
whofe branches had been lopped off to the tops. They
denote the immediate abode of the natives, and probably
ferve for fignals to direct: each other to their refpe£tive
winter quarters. Our hunters, in the courfe of the day killed
two rein-deer, which were the only large animals that we
had feen fince we had been in this river, and proved a very
feafonable fupply, as our Pemmican had become mouldy
for fome time paft ; though in that fituation we were under
the neceflity of eating ifr*
In the vallies and low lands near the river, cranberries
are found in great abundance, particularly in favourable
afpects. It is a Angular circumftance, that the fruit of
two fucceeding years may be gathered at the fame time,
from the fame fhrub. Here was alfo another berry, of a
very pale yellow colour, that refembles a rafpberry, and is
of a very agreeable flavour. There is a great variety of
other plants and herbs, whofe names and properties are
unknown to me.
11 -;
1 1
The weather became cold towards the afternoon, with
the appearance of rain, and we landed for the night at feven
in the evening. The Indians killed eight geek. During
the greater part of the day I walked with the Englifh chief,
and found it very difagreeable and fatiguing. Though the
country is fo elevated, it was one continual morafs, except
on the fummits of fome barren hills. As I carried my
hanger in my hand, I frequently examined if any part of
the ground was in a ftate of thaw, but could never force
the blade into it, beyond the depth of fix or eight inches.
The face of the high land, towards the river, is in fome
places rocky, and in others a mixture of fand and flone,
veined with a kind of jed earth, with which the natives
bedaub themfelves.
(Sunday 19.) It rained, and blew hard from the North,
till eight in the morning, when we difcovered that our
conductor had efcaped. I was, indeed, furprifed at his ho-
nefty, as he left the moofe-fkin which I had given him for
a covering, and went off in his fhirt, though the weather
was very cold.    I inquired of the Indians if they had given
him anv caufe of offence, or had obferved any recent dif-
j * j
pofition in him to defert us, but they aflured me that they
had not in any inftance difpleafed^him : at the fame time
they recollected that he had expreffed his apprehenfions of
being taken away as a flave ; and his alarms were probably
increafed on the preceding day, when he faw them kill
the two rein-deer with fo much readinefs, In the afternoon the weather became fine and clear, when we faw
large flights of geefe with their young ones, and the hunters
killed twenty-two of them. As they had at this time
eaft their feathers, they could not fly. They were of a
fmall kind,and much inferior in fize to thofe that frequent
the vicinity of Athabafca. At eight, we took our ftation
near an Indian encampment, and, as we had obferved in
fimilar fituations, pieces of bone, rein-deer's horn, &c.
were fcattered about it. It alfo appeared, that the natives
had been employed here in working wood into arms,
utenfils, &x.
( Monday 20. ) We embarked at three this morning,
when the weather was cloudy, with fmall rain and aft wind.
About twelve the rain became fo violent as to compel us to encamp at two in the afternoon. We faw great
numbers of fowl, and killed among us fifteen geefe and
four fwans. Had the weather been more favourable, we
fhould have added confiderably to our booty. We now
pafled the river, where we expected to meet fome of the
natives, but difcovered no figns of them. The ground
clofe to the river does not rife to any confidcrable height,
and the hills, which are at a fmall diftance, are covered
with the fpruce fir and fmall birch trees, to their very
( Tuefday 21. ) We embarked at half paft one this
morning, when the weather was cold and unpleafant, and
the wind South-Weft. At ten, we left the channels formed by the iflands for the uninterrupted channel of the
river, where we found the current fo ftrong, that it was
abfolutely neceflary to tow the canoe with a line. The
land on both fides was elevated, and almoft perpendicular,
and the fhore beneath it, which is of no great breadth, was
covered with a grey flone 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 thofe on fhore every two hours, fo that it
was Bf!
was very hard and fatiguing duty, but it faveda great deal
of that time which was fo precious to us. At half paft
eight, we landed at the fame fpot where we had already
encamped on the ninth inftant.
In about an hour after our arrival, we were joined by
eleven of the natives, who were flationed further up the
river, and there were fome among them whom we had not
feen during our former vifit 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
fatisfactory. They all gave evident tokens of their fufpi-
cion, and each of them made a diftinct harangue on the
occafion. Our Indians, indeed, did not underftand their
eloquence, though they conjectured it to be very unfavourable to our affertions. The toother, neverthelefs,
propofed to barter his credulity for a fmall quantity of
heads, and promifed to believe every thing I fhould fay, if
I would gratify him with a few of thofe baubles : but he
did not fucceed in his propofition, and I contented myfelf
with giving him the bow and arrows which our conductor
had left with us. H
My people were now neceffarily engaged in putting theN
fire-arms in order, after the violent rain of the preceding
day ; an employment which very much attracted the cu-
riofity, and appeared, in fome degree to awaken the appre-
heniions, of the natives, To their inquiries concerning
the motives of our preparation, we anfwered by fhewing a
piece of meat and a goofe, and informing them, that we5
were preparing our arms to procure fimilar provifions: at
the fame time we aflured them, though it was our intention
to kill any anirndls we might find, there was no intention to
hurt or injure then* They, however, entreated us not
to difcharge our pieces in their prefence. I requefted the
Eflghfh chief to afk them fome queftions, which they either
did not or would not underhand ; fo that I failed in obtaining any information from them.
All my people went to reft; but I thought it prudent to
fit up, in order to watch the motions of the natives. This
circumftance was a fubject of their inquiry ; and their cu-
riofity was ftill more excited, when they faw me emp-oyed
in writing. About twelve o'clock I perceived four of
their women coming along the fhore; and they were no
fooner feen by their friends, than they ran haftily to meet
them, and perfuaded two of them, who, I fuppofe, were
young, to return, while they brought the other two who
were very old, to enjoy the warmth of our fire; but, after
flaying there for about half an hour, they alfo retreated.
Thofe who remained, immediately kindled a fmall fire, and
laid themfelves down to fleep round it, like fo many whelps,
having neither fkins or garments of any kind to cover them,
notwithftanding the cold that prevailed. My people having
placed their kettle of meat on the fire, I was obliged to
guard it from the natives, who made feveral attempts to
poffefs themfelves of its contents; and this was the only
inftance I had hitherto difcovered, of their being influenced
by a pilfering difpofition. It might, perhaps, be a general
opinion, that provifions were a common property. I now
faw the fun fet for the firft time fince 1 had been here before. During the preceding night, the weather was fo
cloudy, that I^ould not obferve its defcentto the horizon.
The water had funk, at this place, upward of three feet
fince we had pafled down the river.
Vol. I. I i ( Wednef
( Wednef. 22.) We began our march at half paft three
this morning, the men being employed to tow the canoe.
J walked with the Indians to their huts, which were at a
.greater diftance than I had any reafon to expect, for it
occupied three hours in hard walking to reach them. We
pafled a narrow and deep river in our way, at the mouth
of which the natives had fet their nets. They had hid
their effects, and fent their young women into the woods,
as we faw 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 infide the earth was dug
away, fo as to form a level floor. At each end was a flout
fork, whereon was laid a ftrong ridge-p,<$e, which formed a
fupport to the whole fjjrwuture, and a covering of fpruce
bark preferved it from the rain. Various fpars of different
heights were fixed within the hut, and covered with fplit
fifh that hung on them to dry; and fires were made in
different parts to accelerate the operation. There were
rails alfo on the outfide of the building, which were hung
around with fifh, but in a frefher ftate than thofe within.
The fpawn is alfo carefully preferved and dried in the fame
manner. We obtained as many fifh from them as the
canoe could conveniently contain, and fome firings of beads
were the price paid for them, an article which they preferred to every other. Iron they held in little or no efti-
1 nation.
During the two hours that I remained here, I employed
the Englifh chief in a continual ftate of inquiry concerning
thefe pep^ife The information that refulted from this
Conference was as fallows.
This nation or tribe is very numerous, with whom thi
Efquimaux had been continually at variance, a people who
take every advantage of attacking thofe who are not in a
ftate to defend themfelves; and though they had promifed
friendfhip, had lately, and in the moft treacherous manner,
butchered fome of their people. As a proof of this cir-i
cumftance, the relations of the deceafed fhewed us, that
they had cut off their hair on' the occafion. They alfo
declared their determination to withdraw all confidence iri
future from the Efquimaux, and to collect themfelves in
a formidable body, that they might be enabled to revenge
the death of their friends. 8
From their account, a ftrong party of Efquimaux occa-
fionally afcends this river, in large canoes, in fearch of
flint ftones, which they employ to point their fpears and
arrows. They were now at their lake due Eaft from the
fpot where we then were, which was at no great diftance
over land, where they kill the rein-deer, and where they
would foon begin to catch big fifh for the winter flock.
We could not, however, obtain any information refpecting
the lake in the direction in which we were. To the
Eaftward and Weftward where they faw it, the ice breaks
up, but foon freezes again.
The Efquimaux informed them that they faw large
canoes* full of white men to the Weftward, eight or ten
winters ago, from whom they obtained iron in exchange
for leather. The lake where they met thefe canoes, is
called by them Belhoullay Toe, or White Man's Lake.
They alfo reprefented the Efquimaux as drefling like themfelves. They wear their hair fhort, and have two holes
perforated, one on each fide of the mouth, in a line with
the under lip, in which they place long beads that they
Ii 2 find 238   VOYAGE THROUfH THE NORTH-     *
Jind in the lake, Their bows are fomewhat different from
thofe ufed by the natives we had feen, and they employ
flings from whence they throw ftones with fuch dexterity
that they prove very formidable weapons in the day of
We alfo learned in addition from the natives, that we
fhould not fee any more of their relations, as they had all
left the river to go in purfuit of rein deer for their provifions, and that they themfelves fhould engage in a fimilar
expeditioivin 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 Weftward.
We proceeded with the line throughout the day, except
two hours, when we employed the fail. We encamped
at eight in the evening. From the place we quitted this
morning, the banks of the river are well covered with
fmall wood, fpruce, firs, birch, and willow. We found
it very warm during the whole of our progrefs.
(Thurfday 23.) At five in the morning we proceeded
on our voyage, but found it very difficult to travel along
the beach. We obferved feveral places where the natives
had flationed themfelves and fet their nets fince our paflage
downwards. We paffed a fmall river, and at five o'clock
our Indians put to fhore in order to encamp, but we proceeded onwards, which difpleafed them very much, I from
the fatigue they fuffered, and at eight we encamped at our
pofition of the 8th inftant. The day was very fine, and
we employed the towing line throughout the courfe of it.
At ten, our hunters returned, fullen and diffatisfied.    We
life i had WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.     239
had not touched any of our provifion ftores for fix days,
in which time we had confumed two rein-deer, four fwans,
forty-five geefe, and a confiderable quantity of fifh : but it
is to be confidered, that we were ten men, and four women.
I have always obferved, that the north men pofleflcd very
hearty appetites, but they were very much exceeded by
thofe with me, fince we entered this river. I fhould really
have thought it abfolute gluttony in my people, if my own
appetite had not increafed in a fimilar proportion. 240   VOYAGE THROUGH THE NORTH-
Employ the towing line* Defcription of a place where th%
Indians come to collect flint. Their Jhynefs and fufpi-
cions. Current leffem. Appearance of the country. Abun^
dance of hares. Violent form. Land near three lodges
Alarm of the Indians. Supply of fifh from them. Their
fabulous accounts. Continue to fee Indian lodges. Treatment of a difeafe.- \ JMifunderfianding with the natives. The interpreter harangues them. Their accounts
fimilar to thofe we have already received. Their curious conducl. Purchafe fome beaver fkins. Shoot one
of their dogs. The oonfequence of that ad. Apprehen-
fions of the women. Large quantities of liquorice. Swallow* s nefls feen in the precipices. Fall in with a party of
natives killing geefe. Circumfiances concerning them*
Hurricane. Variation of the weather. Kill great numbers
of geefe. Abundance of feveral kinds of berries*
State of the river and its bank*
(Friday 24.) Jt~\f£ five we continued our courfe,
but, in a very fhort time, were under the neceffity of
applying to the aid of the line, the ftrearn being fo ftrong
as to render all our attempts unavailing to ftem it with the
paddles. We pafled a fmall river, on each fide of which
the natives and Efquimaux collect flint. The bank is an
high, fleep,  and foft rock, variegated with red, green,
and yellow hues. From the continual dripping of water,
parts of it frequently fall and break into fmall ftony flakes
like flate, but not fo hard. Among them are found
•pieces of Pctrolium, which bears a reflemblance to yellow
wax, but is more friable. The Englifh chief informed
me, that rocks of a fimilar kind are fcattered about the
.country, at the back of the Slave Lake, where the Che-
pewyans collect copper.
At ten, we had an eft wind, and the men who had beeti
engaged in towing, re-embarked. At twelve we obferved
a lodge on the fide of the river, and its inhabitants running
about in great confufion, or hurrying to the woods.
Three men waited our arrival, though they remained at
fome diftance from us, with their bows and arrows ready
to be employed; or at leaft, that appeared to be the idea
they wifhed to convey to us, by continually mapping
the firings of the former, and the figns they made to forbid
our approach. The Englifh chief, whofe language they,
in fome degree, underftood, endeavoured to remove their
.diftruft of lis; but till I went to them with a prefent
of beads, they retu fed to have any communication with us.
When they firft perceived our faH, they took us for
the Efquimaux Indians, who employ a fail in their canoes.
They were fufpicious of oar de&grts, and queftioned us
with a view to obtain fome knowledge of them. Oa
feeing as in poifeflion of fome of the clothes, bows, &c
which moft have belonged to fome of the Deguthee
Deneet, or Quarrelers, they imagined, that we had killed
fome of diem, and were bearing away the fruits of our
victory. They appeared, indeed, to be of the fame tribe,
though they were afraid of acknowledging it.   From their
Iii 3
queftions, it was evident that they had not received any
notice of our being in thofe parts.        |p
They would not acknowledge that they had any women with them, though we had feen them running to the
woods ; but pretended that they had been left at a con-
fiderable diftance from the river, with fome relations,
who were engaged in killing rein deer. Thefe people
had been here but a fhort time, and their lodge was not
yet completed ; nor had they any fifk in a ftate of preparation for their provifion. I gaye them a knife and fome
beads for an horn-wedge or chifel, with which they fplit
their canoe-wood. One of my Indians having broken his
paddle, attempted to take one of theirs, which was immediately contefted by its owner, and on my interfering to
prevent this a£t of injuflice, he manifefted his gratitude to
me on the occafion. We loft an hour and a half in this
The Englifh chief was during the whole of the time in
the woods, where fome of the hidden property was difco-
.vered, but the women contrived to elude the fearch that
was made after them. Some of thefe articles were purloined, but I was ignorant of this circumftance till we had
taken our>departure, or I fhould certainly have given an
ample remuneration. Our chief expreffed his difpleafure
at their running away to conceal themfelves, their property, and their young women, in very bitter terms. He
faid his heart was fet againft thofe flaves ; and complained
aloud of his difappointment in coming fo far without
feeing the natives, and getting fomething from them.
We employed the^ fail and the paddle fince ten this
morning, and pitched our tents at feven in the evening.
We had no fooner encamped than we were vifited by an
Indian whom we had feen before, and whofe family was
at a fmall diftance up the river : at nine he left us. The
weather was clear and ferene.
( Saturday 25.) We embarked tnTs morning at a quarter
paft three, and at feven we pafled the lodge of the Indian
who had vifited us the preceding evening. There appeared
to have been more than one family, and we naturally
concluded that our vifitor had made fuch an unfavourable
report of us, as to induce his companions to fly on our
approach. Their fire was not exringuifhed, and they had
left a confiderable quantity of fifh fcattered about their
The weather was now very fultry; but the current had
relaxed of its force, fo that the paddie was fufficient for
our progrefs during the greateft 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 fmall growth, and the firft which we had
feen on our return. A pigeon alfo flew by us, and hares
appeared to be in great plenty. We paffed many Indian
encampments which we did not fee in our paflage down
the river. About feven the fky, to the Weftward, became
of a fteel-biue colour, with lightning and thunder. We
accordingly landed to prepare ourfelves againft the coming
norm ; but before we could erect our tents, it came on
with fuch violence, that we expected it to carry every
thing before it. The ridge-pole of my tent was broken
in the middle, where it was found, and nine inches and
an half in circumference; and we were obliged to throw
Vol. I. Kk ourfelves 13fea
ourfelves flat on the ground to efcape being wounded by
the flones that were hurled about in the air like fand.
The violence of the ftorm, however, fubfided in a fhort
time, but left the fky overcaft with the appearance of
( Sunday 26. ) It rained from the preceding evening to
this morning, when we embarked at four o'clock. At
eight we landed at three large Indian lodges. Their inhabitants, who were afleep, exprefled uncommon alarm and
agitation when they were awakened by us, though moft
of them had feen us before. Their habitations were
crowded with fifh, hanging to dry in every part; but as we
wanted fome for prefent ufe, we fent their young men to
vifit the nets, and they returned with abundance of large
white fifh, to which the name has been given ofpoiffon
inconnu; fome of a round fhape, 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. Thefe people are very fond of iron work of any
kind, and my men purchafed feveral of their articles for
fmall pieces of tin.
There were five or fix perfons whom we had not feen
before; and among them was a Dog-rib Indian, wham
fome private quarrel had driven from his country. The
Englifh chief underftood him as well as one of his own
nation, and gave the following account of their converfation :—
He had been informed by the people with whom he
now lives, the Hare Indians, that there is another river on
the other fide of the mountains to the South-Weft, which It   WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.     245
ifells into the BelhouUay Toe, pr White man's Lake,
in comparifon of which that on whofe banks we then
were, was but a fmall ftream ; that the natives were very
large, and very wicked, and kill common men with their
eyes; that they make canoes larger than ours; that thofe
who inhabit the entrance of it kill a kind of beaver, the
fkin of which is almoft red ; and that large canoes often
frequent it. As there is no known communication by
water with this river, the natives who faw it went over
the mountains. mk
As he mentioned that there were fome beavers in this
part of the country, I told him to hunt it, and defire the
others to do the fame, as well as the martens, foxes,
Reaver-eater or wolvereen, 6cc. which they might carry to
barter for iron with his own nation, who are fupplied with
goods by us, near their country. He was anxious to
know whether we fhould return that way : at the fame
time he informed us that we fhould fee but few of the natives along the river, as all the young men were engaged
in killing rein-deer, near the Efquimaux Lake, which, he
alfo faid, was at no great diftance. The latter he reprefented as very treacherous, and added, that they had killed one
of his people. He told us likewife, that fome plan of revenge was meditating, unlefs the offending party paid a
fuflicient price for the body of the murdered perfon.
My Indians were very anxious to poflefs themfelves 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 exercife the utmoft
vigilance, as the Indians who accompanied me were ever
ready to take what they could from the natives, without
K k 2 making
making them any return. About twelve we pafled a river
of fome appearance, flowing from the Eaftward. One of
the natives who followed us, called it the Winter Road
River. We did not find the ftream ftrong to-day along
the fhore, as there were many eddy currents : we therefore employed the fail during fome hours of it, and went
on fhore for the night at half paft feven.
( Monday 27. ) The weather was now fine, and we
renewed our voyage at half paft two. At feven we landed
where there were three families, fituated clofe to the rapids.
We found but few people; for as the Indian who followed
us yefterday had arrived here before us, we fuppofed that
the greater part had fled, on the intelligence which he gave
of our approach. Some of thefe people we had feen before, when they told us that they had left their property at
a lake in the neighbourhood, and had promifed to fetch it
before our return ; but we now found them as unprovided
as when we left them. They had plenty of fifh, fome of
which was packed up in birch bark.
During the time we remained with them, which was
not more than two hours, I endeavoured to obtain fome
additional intelligence refpeCting 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 the mountains, on the
oppofite fide of their own river : they had, however, been
informed that it was larger than that which wafhed the
banks whereon they lived, and that its courfe was towards
the mid-day fun. They added, that there were people at
a fmall diftance up the river, who inhabited the oppofite
mountains, and had lately defcended from them to obtain.
f up plies P   WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.     247
fupplies of fifh. Thefe people, they fuggefted, muft be
well acquainted with the other river, which was the object:
of my inquiry. I engaged one of them, by a bribe of fome
beads, to defcribe the circumjacent country upon the fand.
This lingular map he immediately undertook to delineate,
and accordingly traced out a very long point of land between the rivers, though without paying the leaft attention
to their courfes, which he reprefented 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 1 took to be Unalafcha
Fort, and confequently the river to the Weft to be Cook's
River; and that the body of water or fea into which this
river difcharges itfelf at Whale Ifland, communicates with
Norton Sound. I made an advantageous propofition to
this man to accompany me acrofs the mountains to the
other river, but he refufed it. At the fame time he recommended me to the people already mentioned, who were
fifliing in the neighbourhood, as better qualified to aflift
me in the undertaking which I had propofed.
One of this fmall company of natives was grievoufly
afflicted with ulcers in his back ; and the only attention
which was paidjto his miferable condition, as far at leaft as
we could difcover, proceeded from a woman, who carefully employed a bunch of feathers in preventing the flies
from fettling upon his fores.
At ten this morning we landed near the lodges which
had already been mentioned to us, and I ordered my people
to make preparation for pafling the remaining part of the
day here, in order to obtain that familiarity with the natives which might induce them to afford me, without re-
ferve, the information that I fhould require from them*
This object, however, was in danger of being altogether
fruftrated, by a mifunderftanding that had taken place between the natives and my young Indians, who were already
arrived there. Before the latter could difembark, the former feized the canoe, and dragged it on fhore, and in this
act of violence the boat was broken, from the weight of
the perfons in it. This infult was on the point of being
ferioufly revenged, when I arrived, to prevent the consequences of fuch a difpofition. The variation of the compafs
was about twenty-nine degrees to the Eaft.
At four in the afternoon I ordered my interpreter
to harangue the natives, aflembled in council ; but his
long difcourfe obtained little fatisfadtory intelligence
from them. Their account of the river to the Weftward, was fimilar to that which we had already received ;
and their defcription of the inhabitants of that country,
was ftill more abfurd and ridiculous. They reprefented
them as being of a gigantic ftature, and adorned with
wings; which, however, they never employed m flying.
That they fed on large birds, which they killed with
the greateft eafe, though common men would be certain victims of their voracity if they ventured to ap*
proach them. They alfo defcribed the people that inhabited the mouth of the river as pofleffing the extraordinary power of killing with their eyes, and devouring
a large beaver at a fingle meal. They added that canoes
of very large dimenfions vifited that place. They did not,
however, relate thefe ftrange circumfiances from their
own knowledge, but on the reports of other tribes, as
they themfelves never ventured to proceed beyond the
firft mountains, where they went in fearch of the fmall
tvhite buffaloes,   as   the   inhabitants  of the  other fide
endeavour to  kill them  whenever  they meet.    They
likewife mentioned that the  fources   of thofe   ftreams
which are tributary to both  the great rivers, are feparated by the mountains.    It appeared to us ,  however,
that thefe people   knew more  about the country than
they chofe to communicate, or at leaft reached me, as
the interpreter, who had long been tired of the voyage,
might conceal fuch a part of their communications as,
in his opinion, would induce me to follow new routes,
or extend my excurfions.    No fooner  was the conference  concluded,   than they began to dance,  which is
their favourite, and, except jumping, their only amufe-
ment.    In   this paftime  old and young, male and  female, continued their exertions,  till their ftrength was
exhaulted.    This exercife was accompanied by loud imitations of the various noises produced by the rein-deer,
the bear, and the wolf.
When they had finifhed their antics, I defired the Englifh chief to renew the former fubjects; which he did
without fuccefs. I therefore aflumed an angry air, expreffed my fufpicions that they withheld their information,
and concluded with a menace, that if they did not give me
all the fatisfaction in their power, I would force one of
them along with me to-morrow, to point out the road to
the other river. On this declaration, they all, at one and
the fame moment, became fick, and anfwered in a very
faint tone, that they knew no more than they had already
communicated, and that they fhould die if I took any of
them away. They began to perfuade my interpreter to
remain with them, as they loved him as well as they did
themfelves, and that he would be killed if he continued
with me. Nor did this propofition, aided as it was by the
folicitation of his women, fail of producing a confiderable
effect upon him, though he endeavoured to conceal it from
I now found that it would be fruitlefs 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 fome ©f the natives, who promuld to wait for us there.
Thefe people had actually mentioned this river to me when
we pafled them, but I then paid no attention to that circumftance, as I imagined it to be either a mifunderftanding
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 fupplied with fifh, as well dry as
frefh, by thefe people; they alfo gathered as many hurtle
berries as we chofe, for which we paid with the ufual articles of beads, awls, knives, and tin. I purchafed a few
beaver-fkins of them, which, according to their accounts,
are not very numerous in this country; and that they do
not abound in moofe-deer and buffaloes. They were alarm-?
ed for fome of their young men, who were killing geeie
higher up the river, and entreated us to do them no harm.
About fun-fet I was under the neceflity of fhooting one of
their dogs, as we could not keep thofe animals from our
baggage. It was in vain that I had remonftrated on this
fubject, fo that I was obliged to commit the act which has
been juft mentioned. When thefe people heard the report
of the piftol, and faw the dog dead, they were feized with
a very general alarm, and the women took their children
on their backs and ran into the woods.    I ordered the
caufe of this act offeverity to be explained, with theaffur-
ance that no injury would be offered to themfelves. The
woman, however, to whom the dog belonged, was very
much affected, and declared that the lof> of five children
during the preceding winter, had not affe&ed her fo much
as the death of this animal. But her grief was not of very
long duration; and a few heads, occ. foon afluarred her
forrow. But as they can without difficulty get rid of their
affliction, they can with equal eafe aflume it, and feign
ficknefs if it be neceflary with the fame verfatility. When
we arrived this morning, we found the women in tears, from
an apprehenfion that we were come to take them away.
To the eye of an European they certainly were objects of
difguft; bur there were thofe among my party who obferved fome hidden charms in thefe females which rendered
them objects of defire, and means were found, I believe
that very foon diflipated their alarms and fubdued their
On the upper part of the beach, liquorice grew in great
abundance and it was now in bloffom. I pulled up fome
of the roots, which were large and long; but the natives
were ignorant of its qualities, and confidered it as a weed
of no ufe or value.
(Tuefday 28.) At four this morning I ordered my
people to prepare for our departure j and while they were
loading the canoe, I went with the Englifh chief to vifit
the lodges, but the greater part of their inhabitants had
quitted them during the night, and thofe that remained
pretended ficknefs, and refufed to rife. When, however,
they were convinced that we did not mean to take any of
them with us, their ficknefs abandoned them, and when
Vol. L LI
^l we /
we had embarked, they came forth from their huts,, to
defire that we would vifit their nets, which were at a fmall
diftance up the river, and take all the fifh we might find in
them. We accordingly availed ourfelves of this permiflion^
and took as many as were neceflary for our own fupply.
We landed fhortly after where there were two more
lodges, which were full of fifh, but without any inhabitants,
who were probably with the natives whom we had juft
left. My Indians, in rummaging thefe places, found
feveral articles which they propofed to take; I therefore gave
beads and awls, to be left as the purchafe of them; but this
a£t of juftice they were not able to comprehend, as the
people themfelves were not prefent. I took up a net and
left a large knife in the place of it. It was about four fathoms long, and thirty-two mefhes in depth : thefe nets are
much more convenient to fet 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; fo that
the current could not be fo ftrong here, as in many other
parts of the river; indeed if it were fo, the difficulty of
towing would be almoft infuperable, as in many parts the
rocks, which are of a great height and rather project: over the
water, leave no fhore between them and the ftream. Thefe
precipices abound in fwallows' nefts. The weather was
now very fultry, and at eleven we were under the neceflity
of landing to gum our canoe.
In about an hour we fet forward, and at one in the
afternoon, went on fhore at a fire, which we fuppofed to
have been kindled by the young men, who, as we had been
already informed, were hunting geefe. Our hunters found
their canoe and the fowl they had got, fecreted in the
woods; and foon after, the people themfelves, whom they
brought to the water fide. Out of two hundred geefe we
picked thirty-fix which were eatable j the reft were putrid
and emitted an horrid flench. They had been killed fome
time without having been gutted, and in this ftate of loath-
fome rottennefs, we have every reafon to fuppofe they are
eaten by the natives. We paid for thofe which we had
takers and departed. At feven in the evening, the weather
became cloudy and overcaft; at eight we encamped ; at nine,
it began to thunder with great violence; an heavy rain fucceeded, accompanied with an hurricane, that blew down our
tents, and threatened to carry away the canoe, which had
been faftened to fome trees with a cod-line. The ftorm
lafted two hours and deluged us with wet.
( Wednef. 29. ) Yefterday the weather was cloudy
and the heat infupportable jj and now we could not put
on clothes enough to keep us warm. We embarked
at a quarter paft four with an aft wind, which drove
us on at a great rate, though the current is very ftrong.
At ten we came to the other rapid which we got up
with the line on the Weft fide, where we found it
much ftronger than when we went down j the water
had alfo fallen at leaft five feet fince that time, fo that
feveral fhoals appeared in the river which we had not
feen before. One of my hunters narrowly efcaped being
drowned in crofiing a river that falls in from the Weftward, and is the moft confiderable, except the mountain
river, that flows in this direclion. We had ftrons;
Northerly and cold wind throughout the whole of the
day, and took our ftation for the night at a quarter
paft eight. We killed a goofe and caught fome young
ones. \
11 I
(Thurfday 30. ) 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-Weft. We were enabled to employ the fail
during part of the day, and encamped at about feven in
the evening. We killed eleven old geefe and forty young
ones which had juft begun to fly. The Englifh chief
was very much irritated againft one of his young men :
that jealoufy occafioned this uneafinefs, and that it was
not without very fufficient caufe, was all I could difcover.' For the laft two or three days we had eaten the
liquorice root, of which there is great abundance on
the banks of the river. We found it a powerful aftrin-
( Friday 31. ) The rain was continual throughout the
night, and did not fubfide till nine this morning, when
we renewed our progrefs. The wind and weather the
fame as yefterday. About three in the afternoon it cleared
up and the wind died away, when it became warm. At
five the wind veered to the Eaft, and brought cold along
with it. There were plenty of whirtle berries, rafpber-
ries, and a berry called Poire, which grows in the greateft
abundance. We were very much impeded in our way
by fhoals of fand and fmall ftones, which render the
water fhallow at a diftance from the fhore. In other
places the bank of the river is lofty : it is formed of
black earth and fand, and, as it is continually falling,
difplayed to us, in fome parts, a face of folid ice , to
within a foot of the furface. We finifhed this day's
voyage at a quarter before eight and in the courfe of it
killed feven geefe.
We now had recourfe to our corn, for we had only
confumed three days of our original provifion fince we
began to mount the current. It was my intention to
have afcended the river on the South fide from the laft
rapid, to difcover if there were any rivers of confequence
that flow from the Weftward : but the fand-banks were fo
numerous and the current fo ftrong, that I was compelled
to traverfe to the oppofite fide, where the eddy currents
are very frequent, which gave us an opportunity of fetting our nets and making much more head-way.
1 Hr
Voyage continued. SuJpecJ the integrity of the interpreter*
Stars vifible. Springs of mineral water, and lumps of
iron ore. Arrive at the river of the Bear Lake*
Coal mine in a flate of combufiion. Water of the river
diminifhed. Continue to fee Indian encampments, and
kill geefe, &c. Hunting excurfions. A canoe found on
the edge of a wood. Attempt to ajcend a mountain.
Account of the paffage to it. See a few of the natives. Kill a beaver and fome hares. Defign of the
Engli/h chief. Kill a wolf. Changeable flate of the
weather. Recover the Pemmican, which had been hidden in an ifland. Natives fly at our approach. Meet
with dogs. Altercation with the Engli/h chief. Account of the articles left by the fugitives. Shoals
of the river covered with faline matter. Encamp at
the mouth of the river of the mountain. The ground
on fire on each fide of it. Continue to fee encampments
of the natives. Various kinds of berries. Kill gee/e9
fwans, &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 Af. Le Roux on the lake. Further
circumfiances till our return to Fort Chepewyan. Con-
clufion of the voyage.
1789 August.
{ Saturday 1.)     VV  ^ embarked at three this morning,  the weather being  clear and cold, with the wind
at South-Eaft. At three in the afternoon we traverfed
and landed to take the canoe in tow : here was an encampment of the natives, which we had reafon to fuppofe
they had quitted the preceding day. At five we perceived a family, confifting of a man, two women, and
as many children, flationed by the fide of the water,
whom we had not feen before. They informed us,
that they had but few fifh, and that none of their
friends were in the neighbourhood, except the inhabitants of one lodge on the other fide of the river, arid
a man who belonged to them, and who was now occupied in hunting. I now found my interpreter very
unwilling to afk fuch queftions as were dictated to
him, from the apprehenfion, as I imagined, that I might
obtain fuch intelligence as would prevent him front
feeing Athabafca this feafon. We left him with the
Indian, and pitched our tents at the fame place where
We had pafled the night on the fifth of laft month.
The Englifh 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 pafled there*
and that we fhould meet with three lodges of his tribe
above the river of the Bear Lake. Of the river to
the Weftward he knew nothing but from the relation
of others. This was the firft night fince our departure from Athabafca, when it was fufliciently dark to
render the flars vifible.
( Sunday 2.) We fet off at three this morning with
the towing-line. I walked with my Indians, as they
Went fafter than the canoe, and particularly as I fufpect-
ed that they wanted to arrive at the huts of the natives
before me.    In our way, I obferved feveral fmall fprings
of mineral water running from the foot of the mountain, and along the beach I faw feveral lumps of iron
ore. When we 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 fmall canoe. This
river is about two hundred and fifty yards broad at this
place, the water clear and of a greenifh. colour. When
I landed on the oppofite fhore, I difcovered that the
natives had been there very lately from the print of
their feet in the fand. We continued walking till five
in the afternoon, when we faw feveral fmokes along:
the fhore. As we naturally concluded, that thefe were
certain indications where we fhould meet the natives
who were the objects of our fearch, we quickened our
pace ; but, in our progrefs, experienced a very fulphu-
rous fmell, and at length difcovered that the whole
bank was on fire for a very confiderable diftance. It
proved to be a coal mine, to which the fire had communicated from an old Indian encampment. The beacfe
was covered with coals, and the Englifh chief gathered
fome of the fofteft he could find, as a black dye ; it
being the mineral, as he informed me, with which the
natives  render their  quills black.
Here we waited for the large canoe, which arrived
a^n hour after us. At half paft ten we faw feveral Indian marks, which confifted of pieces of bark fixed on
poles, and pointing to the woods, oppofite to which is
an old beaten road, that bore the marks of being lately frequented; the beach alfo was covered with tracks.
At a fmall diftance were the poles of five lodges Handing ; where we landed and unloaded our canoe. I
then difpatched one of my men and two young Indians
to fee if they could fiid any natives within, a day's
march of us. I wanted the Englifh chief to go, but
he pleaded fatigue, and that it would be of no ufe.
Tl^s was the firft time he fpd refufed to comply with
my defire, and jealoufy, 1 believe, was the caufe of it
in the prefent inftance; though I had taken every precaution that he fhould not have caufe to be jealous
of the Canadians. There was not, at this time, the
leaft appearance of fnow on the opp >fite mountains,
though they were almoft covered with it when we
pafled before. Set two nets, and at eleven o'clock at
night the men and Indians returned. They had been
to their firft encampment, where there were four fires,
and which had been quitted a fhort time before ; fo
that they were obliged to make the circuit of feveral
fmall lakes, which the natives crofs with their canoes.
This encampment was on the boiders of a lake which
was too large for them to venture round it, fo that
they did not proceed any further. They faw feveral
beavers and beaver lodges in thofe fmall lakes. They
killed one of thefe animals whofe fur began to get
long, a fure indication that the fall of the year approaches. They alfo faw many old tracks of the moofe
and rein-deer. This is the time when the rein deer
leave the plains to come to the woods, as the muf-
quitoes begin to difappear ; I, therefore, apprehended
that we fhould not find a fingle Indian on the river
fide, as they would be in, or about the mountains fetting fnares to take them.
(Monday 3.) We proceeded with a ftrong Wefterly
wind, at four this morning, the weather being cloudy
and cold.    At twelve it cleared  up and became fine :
Vol. L Mm the
the current alfo increafed. The water had fallen fo
much fince our paflage dowft the river, that here, as
in other places, we difcovered many fhoals which were
not then vifible. We killed feveral geefe of a larger
fize than thofe which we had generally feen. Several
Indian encampments were feen along the river, and we
landed at eight for  the night.
(Tuefday4.) At four in the morning we renewed
©ur courfe, 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 the canoe,
when the weather became extremely warm. Numerous
tracks of rein-deer appeared on the fide of the river.
At half paft five We took our flation for the night,
and fet the nets. The current was very ftrong all day,
and we found it very difficult to walk along the beach,
from the large ftones which were fcattered over it.
( Wednef. 3. ) We raifed our nets but had not the
good fortune to take a fingle fifh. The water was
now become fo low that the eddy currents would not
admit of fetting them. The current had not relaxed
its ftrength ; and the difficulty of walking along the
beach was continued. The air was now become (o
cold, that our exercife, violent as it was* fcarce kept
lis warm. We pafled feveral points which we fhould
not have accomplifhed> if the canoe had been loaded.
We were very much fatigued* and at fix were glad
to conclude our toilforne march. The Indians killed
two geefe. The women who did not quit the canoe,
Were continually employed in making fhoes of rhoofe-
fltin, for the men, as a pair did not laft more than a day.
(Thutfday 6.) WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.      263
(Thurfday6.) The rain prevented us from proceeding till half paft fix, when we had a ftrong aft wind,
which, aided by the paddles, drove us on at a great ratia.
We encamped at fix to wait for our Indians, whom
we had not feen fince the morning ; and at half paft
feven they arrived very much diffatisfied with their day's
journey. Two days had now elapfed fince we had
feen the leaft appearance of Indian habitations.
( Friday 7. ) We embarked at half paft three, and
foon after perceived two rein-deer on the beach before
us. We accordingly checked our courfe; but our In-
dians, in contending who fhould be the firft to get
near thefe animals, alarmed and loft them. We, however, killed a female rein-deer, and from the wounds
in her hind-legs, it was fuppofed that fhe had been
purfued by wolves, who had devoured her young one:
her udder was full of milk, and ope of the y$png Indians poured it among fome boiled corn, which he ate
with great delight, efteeming it a very delieous food,
.At five in the afternoon we faw an animal runing
along the beach* but could not determine, whether it
was a grey fox or a dog. In a fhort time we went
afhore for the night, at the entrance of a fmall river,
as I thought there might be fon^f natives in the vicinity pf the place. I ordered my hunters to put their
fuzees in order, and gave them ammunition to proceed
on an hunting party the next day; they were alfo in-
ftructed to difcover if there were any natives in the
neighbouring mountains. I found a fmall canoe at the
edge of the woods, which contained a paddle and a
bow : it had been repaired this fpring, and the work-
manfhip of the bark excelled any that I had yet feen.
Mm 2 W   We
1 j
€2 w
We faw feveral encampments in the courfe of the day;
The current of the river was very ftrong, and along
the points equal to rapids.
■  f
( 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 ftrong, cold,
and Wefterly wind. At three the Indians proceeded
on the hunting expedition, and at eight they returned
without having met with the leaft fuccefs ; though
they faw numerous tracks of the rein-deer. They came
to an old beaten road/ which one of them followed
for fome time : but it did not appear to have been
lately frequented. The rain now returned and continued till  the morning.
(Sunday 9.) We renewed our voyage at half paft
three, the weather being cold and cloudy ; but at ten
it became clear and moderate. We faw another canoe
at the outfide of the wood, and one of the Indians
killed a dog, which was in a meagre, emaciated condition. We perceived various places where the natives
had made their fires ; for thefe people refide but a fhort
time near the river, and remove from one bank to
the other, as it fuits their purpofes. We faw a path
which was connected with another on the oppofite
fide of the river. The water had rifen confiderably
fince laft night, and there had been a ftrong current
throughout the day. At feven we made to the fhore
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-Eaft. The Indians were before
us in purfuit of game. At ten we landed oppofite to
the mountains which we had pafled on the fecond of
the laft month, in order to afcertain the variation of
the compafs at this place ; but this was accompliftied
in a very imperfect manner, as I could not depend
on my watch, j One of the hunters joined us here, fatigued and unfuccefsful. As thefe mountains are the
laft of any confiderable magnitude on the South-Weft
fide of the river, I ordered my irien to crofs to that
fide of it, that I might afcend one of them. It was
near four in the afternoon when I landed, and 'I loft
no time in proceeding to the attainment of my object:.
I was accompanied only by a young Indian, as the
curiofity of my people was fubdued by the fatigue they
had undergone ; and we foon had reafon to believe
that we fhould pary dearly for the indulgence of our
own. The wood, which was chiefly of fpruce firs,
was fo thick that it was with great difficulty we made
our way through it. When we had walked upwards
of an hour,' the under-wood decreafed, while the white
birch and poplar were the largeit and talleft of their
kind that I had ever feen. The ground now began
to rife, and was covered with fmall pines, and at length
we got the firft view of the mountains fince 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 feen them from the river, my companion expreffed a very great anxiety to return ; his
fho and leggins were torn to pieces, and he was
al rmed at the idea of paffing through fuch bad roads
during the night. I perfifted, however, in proceeding,
wi     a determination to pafs the night on the moun-
& tains
tains and return on the morrow. As we approached
them, the ground was quite marfhy, and we waded in
water and grafs up to the knees, till we came within
a mile of them, when I fuddenly funk up to my armpits, and it was with fome difficulty that I extricated
myfelf from this difagreeable fituation. I now found
it impoflible to proceed: to crofs this marfhy ground
in a ftraight line was impracticable ; and it extended
fo far to the right and left, that I coa&ld not attempt
to make the circuit: I therefore determined to return
to the canoe, and arrived there about midnight, very
much fatigued with  this fruitlefs journey.
{ Tuefday ii. ) We obferved feveral tracks ajong the
beach, and an encampment at the edge of the woods,
which appealed to be jfive or fix days old. We fhould
have continued our route along this fide of the river,
but we had not feen our hunters fince yefterday morn^
ing. We accordingly embarked before three, and at
five traverfed the river, when we faw two of them
coming jdown in fearch of us. They had killed no
other animals thai* one beaver, and a few hares. According
to their account, the woods were fo thick that it
was impoflible to follow the game through them. They
had feen feveral of the native's encampments, at no
great diftance from the river ; and it was their opinion
that they had difcovered us in our paffags down it, and
had taken cajre to avoid us ; which accounted for the
fmall number we had feen on our return.
I requefted the Englifh chief to return  with me to
the other fide of the river, in order that he might proceed to difcover the natives,   whofe tracks and habitations WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.      267
tions we had feen there; but he was backward in
complying with my defire, and propofed to fend the
young men ; but I could not truft to them, and at
the fame time was become rather doubtful of him.
They were ftill afraid left I fhould dbtain fuch accounts
of the other river as would induce me to travel overland to it, and that they fhould be called upon to
accompany me. I was, indeed, informed by one of my
own people, that the Englifh chief, his wives and companions, had determined to leave me on this fide of
the Slave Lake, in order to go to 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 fome of his relations, who, during the laft
fpring, had been engaged in war.
We now traverfed the river , and continued to track
the Indians till paft twelve, when we loft all traces of
them; in confequence, as We imagined, of their having
croffed to the Eaftern fide. We faw feveral dogs on
both fhores; and one of the young Indians killed a
wolf, which the men ate with great fatisfadtion : we
fhot, alfo fifteen young geefe that were now beginning
to fly. It was eight when we took our evening fla-
tion, having loft four hours in making our traverfes*
There was no interruption of the fine weather during
the courfe of this day.
( Wednef. 12* ) We proceeded on our voyage at
three this morning, and difpatched the two young Indians acrofs the river, that we might not mifs any of
the natives that fhould be on the banks of it. We
law many places where fires had been lately made along
§1 m
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 obfervab'e  in  feveral
places in the woods, and as it might be prefumed that they
could not be at any great diftance, it was propofed to
the chief to  accompany me   in   fearch of them.    We
accordingly, though with  fome hefitation  on  his part,
penetrated  feveral   miles into  the  woods,   but without
difcovering the objects of our refearch.    The  fire had1
fpread all over the country, and had burned about three
inches  of the black,  light foil, which covered a  body
of cold clay, that was fo hard as not to receive the leaft
impreffion of our feet.    At ten we returned from  our
unfuccefsful excurfion.    In the mean time the  hunters
had killed feven geefe.    There were feveral fhowers of,
rain, accompanied with gufts of wind and thunder.    The
nets had been fet during our abfence.
(Thurfd. 13. ) The nets were taken up, but not one
fifh was found in them ; and at half paft three we
continued our route, with very favourable weather. We
pafled feveral places, where fires had been made by the
natives, and many tracks were perceptible along the
beach. At feven we were oppofite the ifland where our
Pemmicam had been concealed : two of the Indians
were accordingly difpatched in fearch of it, and it proved
very acceptable, as it rendered us more independent of
the provifions 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 otherwife have
required. In a fhort time we perceived a fmoke on
the fhore to the South-Weft, at the diftance of three
leagues,   which   did not appear   to  proceed from  any
running fire. The Indians, who were a little way a head
of us, did not difcover it, being engaged in the purfuit
of a flock of geefe, at which they fired feveral fhots, when
the fmoke immediately difappeared ; and in a fhort time
we Taw feveral of the natives run along the fhore, fome of
whom entered their canoes. Though we were almoft
oppofite to them, we could not crofs the river without
going further up it, from the ftrength of the current;
I therefore ordered our Indians to make every poflible
exertion, in order to fpeak with them, and wait our
arrival. But as foon as our fmall canoe ftruck off, we
could perceive the poor affrighted people haften to the
fhore, and after drawing their canoes on the beach,
hurry into the woods. It was paft ten before we landed
at the place where they had deferted their canoes, which
were four in number. They were fo Co terrified that
they had left feveral articles on the beach. 1 was very
much d fpleafed with my Indians, who inftead of feeking
the natives, were dividing their property. I rebuked
the Englifh chief with fome feverity for his conduct:,
and immediately ordered him, his young men, and my
own people, to go in fearch of the fugitives, but their
fears had made them too nimble for us, and we could
not overtake them. We faw feveral dogs in the woods,
and fome of them followed us to our canoe.
The Englifh chief was very much difpleafed at my
reproaches, and expreffed himfelf to me in perfon to
that effect. This was the very opportunity which I
wanted, to make him acquainted with my diffatisfaction:
for fome time paft. I flated to him that I had come
a great way, and at a very confiderable expence, without
having completed the object of my wifhes, and that I
Vol. I. N n fufpe&ed 270   VOYAGE THROUGH THE NORTH-       ■'<
fufpected he had concealed from me a principal part of
what the natives had told him reflecting the country,
left he fhould be obliged to follow me : that his reafon
for not killing game, &c. was his jealoufy, which
likewsfe prevented him from looking after the natives as
he ought ; and that we had never given him axiy caufe
for any fufpic'ions of us. Thefe fuggeftions irritated
him in a very high degree, and he accufed me of fpeaking
ill words to him ; he denied the charge of jealoufy,
and declared tliat he did not conceal any thing from
us ; and that as to the ill fuccefs of their hunting, it
arofe from the nature of the country, and the fcarcity,
which had hitherto appeared, of animals in it. He concluded by informing me that he would not accompany
me any further ; that though he was without ammunition, he could live in the fame maner as the flaves,
( the name given to the inhabitants of that part of the
country ), and that he would remain among them. His
harangue was fucceeded by a loud and bitter lamentation ; and his relations aflifted the vociferations of his
grief; though they faid 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 footh it, and induce the chief
change his refolution, which he did, but with great
apparent relu6lance; when we embarked as we had
hitherto done.
The articles which the fugitives had left behind them,
on the prefent occafion, were bows, arrows, fnares for
moofe and reih-deer, and for hares ; to thefe may be
added a few difhes, made of bark, fome fkins of the
marten and the beaver,   and old beaver robes, with a*
lH    fmall WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.      271
fmall robe made of the fkin of the lynx. Their canoes
were coarfely made of the bark of the fpruce-fir, and will
carry two or three people. I ordered my men to remove them to the fhade, and gave moft of the other
articles to the young Indians. The Englifh chief would
not accept of any of them. In the place, and as the
purchafe of them, I left fome cloth, fome fmall knives,
a file, two fire-fteels, a comb, rings, with beads and
awls. I alfo ordered a marten {kin to be placed on a
proper mould, and a beaver fkin to be ftretched on a
frame, to which I tied a fcraper. The Indians were of
opinion that all thefe articles would be loft, as the natives were fo much frightened that they would never
return. Here we loft fix hours ; 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 paft eight, at the entrance of the river of the mountain ; and while the
people were unloading the canoe, 1 took a walk along
the beach, and on the fhoals, which being uncovered
fince we pafled down, by the finking of the waters,
were now white with a faline fubftance. I fent for
the Englifh Chief to fup with me, and a dram or
two difpelled all his heart-burning and difcontent. He
informed me that is was a cuflom with the Chepewyan
chiefs to go to war after they had fhed tears, in order
to wipe away the difgrace attached to fuch a feminine
weaknefsy and that in the enfuing fpring he.fhould
not fail to execute his defign; at the fame time he
declared his intention to continue with us as lq.Bg as
I fhould want him. I took care that he fhould carry
fome liquid confolation to   his lodge,  to prevent the
N n 2 return
return of his chagrin.    The weather was fine, and the
Indians killed three geefe.
( 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 fide of it. In traverfing, I took foundings,
and found five, four and an half, and three and an
half fathoms water. Its ftream was very muddy, and
formed a cloudy ftreak along the water of the great
river, on the Weft fide to the Eaftern rapid, where
the waters of the two rivers at length blend in one.
It was impoflible not to confider it as an extraordinary
circumftance, that the current of the former river fhould
not incorporate with that of the latter, but flow, as
it were, in diftinct ftreams at fo great a diftance, and
till the contracted ftate of the channel unites them.
We pafled feveral encampments of the natives, 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 paft five in the afternoon.
There were plenty of berries, which my people called
poires ; they are of a purple hue, fomewhat bigger than
a pea, and of a lufcious tafte; there were alfo goofe-
berries, and a few ftrawberries.
(Saturday 15.) We continued our courfe from three
in the morning till half paft five in the afternoon.
We faw feveral encampments along the beach, till it
became too narrow to admit them ; when the banks
rofe into a confiderable degree of elevation, and there
were more eddy currents.    The IncBans killed twelve
geefe,  and berries  were collected in   great afcundance.
The weather  was fultry throughout the day.
(Sunday 16.) We continued our voyage at a quarter
before four, and in five hours pafled the place where
we had been flationed on the 13th of June. Here the
river widened, and its fhores became flat. The land
on the North fide is low, compofed of a black foil,
mixed \ with ftones, but agreeably covered with the
afpen, the poplar, the white birch, the fpruce fir, &c.
The current was fo moderate, that We proceeded upon
it almoft as faft as in dead water. At twelve we pafled
an encampment of three fires, which was the only
one we faw in the courfe of the day. The weather
was the fame as yefterday.
( Monday 17. ) We proceeded at half paft three ;
and faw three fucceflive encampments. From the peculiar ftructure of the huts, we imagined that fome of
the Red-Knife Indians had been in this part of the
country, though it is not ufual for them to come this
way. I had laft night ordered the young Indians to
precede us, for the purpofe of hunting, and at ten we
overtook them. They had killed five young fwans ;
and the Englifh chief prefented us with an eagle, three
cranes, a fmall beaver, and two geek. We encamped
at feven this evening on the fame fpot which had
been  our refting-place on the  29th  of June.
(Tuefday 18.) At four this morning I equipped all
the Indians for an hunting excurfion, and fent them
onward, as our ftock of provifion was nearly exhaufted.
We followed at half paft fix, and erofled over to the
North fhore, where the land is low and fcarcely vifible in the horizon. 1 now got an obfervation, when
it was 61. 33. North latitude. We were near five
miles to the North of the main channel of the river.
The frefh tracks and beds of buffaloes were very per-,
ceptible. Near this place a river flowed in from the
Horn mountains which are at no great diftance. We
landed at five in the afternoon, and before the canoe
was unloaded, the Englifh chief arrived with the tongue
of a cow, or female buffalo, when four men and the
Indians where difpatched for the flefh ; but they did
not return till it was dark. Thev informed me, that
they had feen feveral human tracks in the fand on
the oppofite ifland. The fine weather continued without
( Wednef. 19. ) The Indians were again fent forward
in purfuit of game : and fome time being employed
in gumming the canoe, we did not embark till half
paft five, and at nine we landed to wait the return
of the hunters. I here found the variation of the
compafs to be about  twenty degrees  Eaft.
The people made themfelves paddles and repaired the
canoe. It is an extraordinary circumftance for which
I do not pretend to account, that there is fome peculiar quality in the water of this river, which corrodes wood, from the deftructive effect: it had on the
paddies. The hunters arrived at a late hour without
having feen any large animals. Their booty confifted
oniy of three fwans and as many geefe. The women
were employed in gathering cranberries and crowber-
ries, which were found  in  great  abundance.
( Thurfday 20.) We embarked at four o'clock, and
took the North fide of the channel, though the current was on that fide much ftronger, in order to take
a view of the river, which had been mentioned to me
in our paflage downwards, as flowing from the country
of the Beaver Indians, and which fell in hereabouts.
We could not, however, difcover it, and it is probable
that the account was referable to the river which we
had pafled on Tuefday. The current was very ftrong,
and we crofled over to an ifland oppofite to us ; heie
it was ftill more impetuous, and aflumed the hurry
of a rapid. We found an awl and a paddle on the
fide of the water; the former we knew to belong to
the Kniflineaux : I fuppofed it to be the chief Merde-
d'ours and his party, who went to war laft fpring,
and had taken this route on their return to Athabafca.
Nor is it improbable that they may have been the
caufe that we faw fo few of the natives on the banks
of this river. The weather was raw and cloudy, and
formed a Very unpleafant contrail to the warm, funny
days which immediately preceded it. We took up our
abode for the night at half paft feven, on the Northern fhore, where the adjacent country is both low
and flat. The Indians killed five young fwans, and a-
beaver.    There was an appearance  of rain.
(Friday 21.) The weather was cold, with a ftrong
Eafterly wind and frequent fhowers, fo that we were
detained in our flation. In the afternoon the Indians
got on the track of a moofe-deer, but were not fo
fortunate as to overtake it.
(Saturday 22.) The wind veered round to the Weftward.
ward, and continued to blow ftrong and cold. We,
however, renewed our voyage, and, in three hours
reached the entrance of the Slave Lake, under half fail;
with the paddle, it would have taken us at leaft eight
hours. The Indians did not arrive till four hours after
us; but the wind was fo violent, that it was not ex-,
pedient to venture into the lake ; we therefore fet a
net and encamped for the night. The women gathered
large quantities of the fruit, already mentioned, called
Pathagomenan, and cranberries, crowberries, moofeber-
ries, &c.    The Indians killed two fwans and three geefe.
( Sunday 23. ) The net produced but five fmall pike,
and at five we embarked, and entered the lake by the
fame channel through which we had paffed from it. The
South-Weft fide would have been the fhorteft, but we
were not certain of there being plenty of fifh along
the coaft, and we were fure of finding abundance of them
in the courfe we preferred. Befides, I expected to find
my people at the place where I left them, as they had
received orders to remain there till the fail.
We paddled a long way into a deep bay to get the
wind, and having left our maft behind us, we landed
to cut. another. We then hoifted fail and were driven
on at a great rate. At twelve the wind and fwell were
augmented to fuch a degree, that our under yard broke,
but luckily the maft thwart refilled, till we had time to
fallen down the yard with a pole, without lowering fail.
We took in a large quantity of water, aud had our
maft given way, in all probability, we fhould have filled
and funk. Our courfe continued to be very dangerous,
along a flat lee-fhore, without being able   to land tilt
three in the afternoon. Two men were continually
employed in bailing out the water which we took in.
on all fides. We fortunately doubled a point that
fcreened us from the wind and'fwell, and encamped
for the night, in order to wait for our Indians. We
then fet our nets, made a yard and maft, and gummed
the canoe. On vifiting the nets, we found fix white
fifh, and 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 fifh, ten pikes, and a couple of trouts.
At five we embarked with a light breeze from the South,
when we hoifted fail, and proceeded llowly, as our
Indians had not come up with us. At eleven we went
on fhore to prepare the kettle, and dry the nets ; at
one we were again on the water. At four in the afternoon we perceived a large canoe with a fail, and two
fmall ones a-head ; we foon came up with them, when
they proved to be M. Le Roux and an Indian, with
his family, who were on an 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 fituation. He had feen no more
Indians where I had left him ; but had made a voyage to
Lac la Marte,' where he met eighteen fmall canoes of
the Slave Indians, from whom he obtained five packs of
fkins, which were principally thofe of the marten.
There were four Beaver Indians among them, who had
bartered the greateft part of the abovementioned articles
with them, before his arrival. They informed him that
their relations had more fkins, but that they were afraid
to venture with them, though they had been informed
Vol. I. 60 that
that people were to come with goods to barter for them.
He gave thefe people a pair of ice chifels each, and
other articles, and fent them away to conduct their
friends to the Slave Lake, where he was to remain during
the succeeding winter.
We .fet three nets, and in a fhort time caught twenty
fifh of different kinds. In the dufk of the evening the
Englifh chief arrived with a moft pitiful account that
he had like to have been drowned in trying to follow
us, and that the other men had alfo a very narrow
efcape. Their canoe, he faid, had broken on the fwell,
at fome diftance from the fhore, but as it was flat, they
had with his afliflance been able to fave themfelves. He
added, that he left them lamenting, left they fhould not
overtake me, if I did not wait for them : he alfo
expreffed his apprehenfions that they would not be able
to repair their canoe. This evening I gave my men
fome rum to cheer them after their fatigues.
( Tuefday 25. ) We rofe this morning at a late hour,
when we vifited the nets, which produced but few fifh :
my people, indeed, partook of the flores of M. Le Roux.
At eleven the young Indians arrived, and reproached me
for having left them far behind. They had killed two
fwans, and brought me one of them. The wind was
Southerly throughout the day, and too ftrong for us to
depart, as we were at the foot of a grand traverfe.. At
noon I had an obfervation, which gave 61. 29. North
latitude.   Such was the ftate of the weather, that we could
not vifit our nets.    In the afternoon the fky darkened, and
j '
there was lightning, accompanied with loud claps of
thunder. The wind alfo veered round to the Weftward,
and blew an hurricane.
( Wednef. 26. ) It rained throughout the night, and
till eight in the morning, without any alteration-in the
wind. The Indians went on an hunting excurfion, but
returned altogether without fuccefs in the evening. One
of them was fo unfortunate as to mifs a moofe-deer. In
the afternoon there were heavy fhowers, with thunder,&c.
( Thurdf 27. ) We embarked before four, and hoifted
fail. At nine we landed to drefs 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 fprang up to the Southward, to which we
fpread our fail, and at half paft five in the afternoon went
on fhore for the night. ,We then fet our nets. The
Englifh chief and his people being quite exhaufted
with fatigue, he this morning expreffed his defire to remain behind, in order to proceed to the country of
the Beaver Indians, engaging at the fame time that he
would return to  Athabafca in  the courfe of the winter.
( Friday 28.) It blew very hard throughout the night,
and this morning, fo that we found it a bufinefs of
fome difficulty to get to our nets ; our trouble, however, was repaid by a confiderable quantity of white fifh,
trout, bcc. Towards the afternoon the wind increafed.
Two of the men who had been gathering berries faw
two moofe-deer, with the tracks of buffaloes and reindeer. About fun-fet we heard two fhots, and faw a
fire on the oppofite fide of the bay ; we accordingly
made a large fire alfo, that our oppofite might be determined. When we were all gone to bed, we heard
the report of a gun very near us, and in a very fhort
time the Englifh chief prefented himfelf drenched with
wet, and in much apparent confufion informed me that
the canoe with his companions was broken to pieces ;
and that they had loft their fowling pieces, and the flefh.
O'ci of
of a rein-deer, which they had killed this morning.
They were, he faid, at a very fhort diftance from us ;
and at the fame time requeued that fire might be fent
to them, as they were ftarving with cold. They and
his women, however, foon joined us, and were immediately accommodated with dry clothes.
( Saturday 29. ) I fent the Indians on an hunting
party, but they returned without fuccefs ; and they
expreffed their determination not to follow me any
further,  from their apprehenfion of being drowned.
{ Sunday 30. ) We embarked at one this morning,
and took from the nets a large trout, and twenty white
fifh. At fun-rife a fmart aft breeze fprang up, which
wafted us to M. Le Roux's houfe by two in the afternoon. It was late before he and our Indians arrived ; when, according to a promife 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 fuftained with me.
I propofed to the Englifh chief to proceed to the
country of the Beaver Indians, and bring them to dif-
pofe of their peltries to M. Le Roux, whom I intended
to leave there the enfuing winter. He had already engaged to be at Athabafca j in the month of March itext,
with plenty of furs.
( Monday 31. j I fat up all night to make the neceflary arrangements for the embarkation of this morning, and to prepare inftru£tions for M. Le Roux. We
obtained fome provifions here, and parted from him at
five, with fine calm' weather. It foon, however, became neceflary to land on a fmall illand, to flop the
leakage of the canoe, which had been occafioned by the
fhot of an arrow under the water mark, by fome Indian I     WEST CONTINENT OF AMERICA.     281
-dian children. While this bufinefs was proceeding, we
took the opportunity of dreffing fome fifh. At twelve
the wind fprang up from the South-Eaft, which was
in the teeth of our direction, fo that our progrefs was
greatly impeded.i I had an obfervation, which gave 62.
15. North latitude. We landed at feven in the evening,
and pitched our tents.
1789. September.
( Tuefday 1. ) We continued our voyage at five in
the morning, the weather calm and fine, and pafled the
Ifle a la Cache about twelve, but could not perceive
the land, which was (een in our former paffage. On
paffing the Carreboeuf Iflands, at five in the afternoon,
we faw land to the South by Weft, which we thought
was the oppofite fide of the lake, ftretching away to a
great diftance. We landed at half paft fix in the evening, when there was thunder, and an appearance of
change in the weather.
( Wrednef. 2. ) It rained and blew hard the latter part
of the night. At half paft five the rain fubfided, when
we made a traverfe of twelve miles, and took in a good
deal of water. At twelve it became calm, when I had
an obfervation,? which gave 61. 36. North latitude.
At three in the afternoon there was a flight breeze
from the Weftward, which foon increafed, when we
hoifted fail, and took a traverfe of twenty-four miles for
the point of the old Fort; where wre arrived at feven
and flopped for the night. This traverfe fhortened our
way three leagues ; indeed we did not expect to have
cleared the lake in fuch a.fhort time.
( Thurfday 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
111 hours
hours without flopping; notwithftanding we were fhelJ$
tered from the fweli by a long bank.    We now entered
the fmall river,   where the wind could have  no effect
upon us.    There were frequent fhowers in the courfe
of the day, and we encamped at fix in the evening.
(Friday 4.) The morning was dark and cloudy, neverthelefs we embarked at five ; but at ten it cleared up.
We faw a few fowl, and at feven in the evening went
on fhore 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 fhore, and were
detained for the remaining part of the day.
(Sunday 6.) It rained throughout the night, with a
ftrong North wind. Numerous flocks of wild fowl
paffed to the Southward : at fix in the afternoon, the rain,
in fome meafure, fubfided, and we embarked, but it foon
returned with renewed violence; we neverthelefs took
the advantage of an aft wind, though it coft us a complete drenching. The hunters killed feven geefe, and
we pitched our tents at half paft fix in the evening.
( Monday 7. ) We were on the water at five this
morning, with an head-wind, accompanied by fucceffive
fhowers. At three in the afternoon we ran the canoe on
a flump, and it filled with water before fhe could be got
to land. Two hours were employed in repairing her, and
at feven in the evening we took our ftation for the night.
(Tuefday 8.) We renewed our voyage at half paft
four in a thick milt whibh lafted till nine, when it cleared
away, and fine weather fucceeded.. At three in the afternoon we came to the firft carrying-place, Portage des
Noye's, and encamped at the upper end of it to dry our
clothes, fome of which were almoft rotten.
( Wednef. 9.) We embarked at five iii the morning,
and our canoe was damaged on the men's fhoulders who
were bearing it over the carrying-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 Montagne. After having pafled the carrying places, we encamped at the Dog River, at half paft
four in the afternoon, in a ftate of great fatigue. The
canoe was again gummed, and paddles were made to
replace thofe that had been broken in afcending the rapids. A fwan was the only animal we killed throughout the day.
(Thurfday 10.) There was rain and violent wind during the night ; in the morning the former fubfided and
the latter increafed. At half paft five we continued our
courfe with a North-Wefterly wind. At feven we hoifted
fail : in the forenoon there were frequent fhowers of rain
and hail, and in the afternoon two fhowers of fnow :
the wind was at this time very ftrong, and at fix in the
evening we landed at a lodge of Knifleneaux, confiding
of three men and five women and children. They were
on their return from war, and one of them was very fick ;
they feparated from the reft of their party in the enemy's
country, from abfolute hunger. After this feparation,
they met with a family of the hoftile tribe, whom they
deftroyed. They wrere entirely ignorant of the fate of
their friends, but imagined, that they had returned to
the Peace River, or had perifhed for want of food. I gave
medicine to the fick,* and a finally portion of ammunition
* This man had conceived an idea, that the people with
whom he had been at war, had thrown medicine at him,
to the healthy; which, indeed, they very much wanted*
as they had entirely lived for the laft fix months on the
produce of their bows and arrows. They appeared to
have been great  fufferers by their expedition.
(Friday n.) It froze hard during the night, and was
very cold throughout the day, with an appearance of
fnow. We embarked at half paft four in the morning,
and continued our courfe till fix in the evening:* when
we landed for the night at our encampment of the third
of June.
(Saturday 12.) The weather was cloudy and alfo very
cold. At .eight we embarked with a North-Eaft wind,
and entered the Lake of the Hills. About ten, the
wind veered to the Weftward, and was as ftrong as we
could bear it with the high fail, fo that we arrived at
Chepewyan fort by three o'clock in the afternoon, where
we found Mr. Macleod, with five men, bufily employed
in building a new houfe. Here, then, we concluded this
voyage, which had occupied the confiderable fpace of
one hundred and two days.
which had caufed his prefent complaint, and that he def-
paired of recovery. The natives are fo fuperftitious, that
this idea alone was fufficient to kill him. Of this weak-
nefs I took advantage ; and allured him, that if he would
never more go to war with fuch poor defencelefs people,
that I would cure .him. To this propolition he readily
confented, and on my giving him medicine, which confifted of Turlington's balfam, mixed in water, I declared,
that it would lofe its effect, if he was not fincere in the
promife that he made me. In fhort, he actually recovered,
was true to his engagements, and on all occafions manifefted
his gratitude to me.
VOL.    I.
Preface. -
A general hiftory of the fur trade from Canada to the
North-Weft.        - -      f  - .
Some account of the Knifleneaux Indians*
Examples of the Knifleneaux and Algonquin Tongues.
Some account of the Chepewyan Indians
Examples  of the  Chepewyan Tongue.
Embark at Fort Chepewyan, on the Lake of the Hills,
in company with M. Le Roux* Account of the party,-
provifions, &c. Direction of the courfe. 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. Suc-
ceflive defcription of feveral carrying - places. A
canoe loft in one of the Fails. Encamp on Point
de Roche. Courfe continued. Set the nets, &c.
Arrive at the Slave Lake. The weather extremely
cold. Banks of the river defcribed, with its trees,*
foil, &c. Account of the animal productions, and-
Vol. I. ■ ' P p f
the- iSs
the rlfhery of the Lake. Obliged to wait till the
moving, of the ice. Three families of Indians arrive
from Atabafca. Beavers, geefe, and fwans killed. The
nets endangered by ice. Re-embark and land on a
fmall ifland, Courfe continued along the fhores,
and acrofs the bays of the Lake. Various fucceffese
of the hunters. Steer for an ifland where there was
plenty of cranberries and fmall onions. Kill feveral
rein deer. Land on an ifland named Ifle a la
Cache.    Clouds   of  mufquitoes* m
Land at forfie lodges of Red-Knife Indians i pro^
cure one of them to afnft in navigating the bays.
Conference with \he Indians. Take leave of Mrv
Le Roux, and' continue the voyage. Different appearances of the Fand j. its vegetable produce. Vifir
an ifland where the wood had been felled. Further defcription of the coaft. Plenty of rein and
moofe deer, and white partridges. Enter a very
deep bay. Interrupted by ice. Very blowing weather.
Continue to coaft the bay. Arrive at the mouth
of a river. Great numbers of fifh and wild-fowl.
Defcription of the land on either fide. Curious appearance of woods that had been burned. Came
in fight of the Horn Mountain. Continue to
kill geefe and fwans, &g.   Violent ftorm.
Continue our cotfrfe. The river narrows. Lofe t2fc
lead. Pafs a fmall river.. Violent rain. Land
on a fmall ifland. Expect to arrive at the rapids.
Conceal t«*lt:bags of pemmican in an ifland. A view
of mountains.   Pafs feveral encampments of the natives,   Arrive among the iflands.    Afcend a high,
hill.   Violence of the current. § Ice feen along the
banks of the river.    Land at a village of the natives.
Their conduct and appearance.    Their  fabulous
Itories.    The   Englifh  Chief and Indians difconr
tented. Obtain a new guide. Singular cuftoras of the
natives.    An  account of their dances.    Defcription
of their perfons, drefs, ornaments, buildings, arms
for war and hunting, canoes, &c.   Pafs on among
iflands.    Encamp beneath  a   bill,   and  prevented
from   afcending by the mufquitoes.    Land 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.
The new guide m^kes his efcape. Compel another
to fupply his place. Land at an encampment of
another tribe of Indians. Account of their manners, drefs, weapons, &c. Traffic with them. Defcription of a beautiful fifh. Engage another guide.
His curious behaviour. Kill a fox and ground-hog.
Land at an encampment of a tribe called the De-
guthee Denees, or Quarreliers. See flax growing
wild. The varying character of the river and its
banks. Diftant mountains. Perplexity from the
numerous channels of the river. Determine to
proceed. Land where there had been an encampment of the Efquimaux. Saw large flocks of wild
fowl.   View of the fun at midnight.    Defcription
oi MS
of a place lately deferted by the Indians. Houfes
of the natives defcribed. Frequent fhowers. See a
black fox. The difcontents of our hunters renewed,
and pacified. Face of the country. Land at a fpot
lately inhabited. Peculiar circumfiances of it. Arrive at tfee entrance of the lake. ProceedJltO an
ifland.    Some account of it.
The baggage removed from the rifing of the water.
One of the nets driven away by the wind ana
current. Whales are feen. Go in purfuit of them,
but prevented from continuing it by the fog. Pro-
ceed to take a view of the ice. Canoe in danger
from the fwell. Examine the iflands.. Defcribe one
of them.- Erect a poft to perpetuate our viiit there.
The rifing df the water appears to be tut tide. Suc-
cefsful fifhing. Uncertain weather. Sail among
the iflands. Proceed to a river. Temperature of
of the air improves. Land on a fmall ifland,
which is a place of fepulture. Defcription of it.
See a great number of wild fowl. Fine view ofT
the river from the high land.. The hunters kill
rein-deer. Cranberries, &c. found in great plenty.
The appearance and ftate of the country. Our
guide deferts. Large flight of geefe: kill many of
them. Violent rain. Return up the river. Leave
the channels for the main ftream. Obliged to
tow the canoe.jl Land among the natives. Circumfiances concerning them. Their account of
the Efquimaux Indians. Accompany the natives
to their Jiuts.   Accouat of our provifions.
CHAP. gg^g."-
Employ the towing line.    Defcription of a place where
the Indians come to collect flint.    Their fhynefs and
fufpicions.    Current   leffens.    Appearance of the
country.    Abundance   of   hares.    Violent ftorm.
Land near three  lodges.    Alarm of the Indians.
-Supply of fifh from them.    Their fabulous accounts.
Continue to fee Indian lodges.    Treatment of a
difeafe.    Mifunderftanding with the natives.    The
interpreter harangues them.    Their accounts fimilar
to thofe we have already received.    Their curious
conduct.    Purchafe fome beaver fkins.    Shoot one
of their dogs.    The confequence of that act.    Ap-
prehenfions of   the   women.    Large quantities of
liquorice.    Swallow's nefts feen in the precipices.
Fall in with a party of natives killing geefe.    Circumfiances   concerning   them.     Hurricane.    Variation of the weather.    Kill great numbers of geefe.
Abundance of feveral kinds of berries.    State of the
river and its bank. - *■ ||§
Voyage continued. Sufpect the integrity of the interpreter. Star vifible. Springs of mineral water,
and lumps of iron ore. Arrive at the river of the
Bear Lake. WCoal mine in a ftate of combuflion.
Water of the river diminifhed. Continue to fee
•Indian encampments, and kill geefe, &c. Hunting
excurfions. A canoe found on the edge of a wood.
Attempt to afcend a mountain. Account of the
paffage to it. See a few of the natives. Kill a
beaver, and fome hares. Defign of the Englifh
chief. Kill a wolf. Changeable ftate of the weather.
Recover 20,0
Recover the pemmican, which had been hidden
in an ifland. Natives fly at our approach. Meet
with dogs. Altercation with the Englifh chief.
Account of the articles left by the fugitives. Shoals
of the river covered with faline matter. Encamp
at the mouth of the river of the mountain. The
ground on fire on each fide of it. Continue to
fee encampments of the natives. Various kinds
of berries. Kill geefe, fwans. &c. &c. bcc. Corroding quality of the water. Weather changeable.
Reach the entrance of the Slave Lake. Dangers
encountered on entering it. Catch pike and
trout. Meet M. Le Roux on the lake. Further
circumfiances till our return to Fort Chepewyan*
Conclufion of the voyage.       -
258  1 1
**v     „*'-'
1 ifowm
i \i flli
& Iitndtn .Put/iWirJjS Oet.j$M. fyl4kxmJr Mack Kenzie A^3S^Vcrfi>/i   .ilrecl J'ln


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