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Voyages from Montreal through the continent of North America to the frozen and Pacific Oceans in 1789… Mackenzie, Alexander, 1764-1820 1902

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Array         VOYAGES from MONTREAL
IN  1789 and 1793
PUBLISHERS:    NEW   YORK,   190a i
Registered at the
Library of Congress, A ugust 1Q02
Published, August 1902. N. Introduction.
The exact date of Sir Alexander Macken-
zie?s birth is not aceurately known, although
it is supposed he was born at Inverness, Scot-
land, about 1755. He came to North America at an early age and obtained employment
in the counting-house of Messrs. Gregory
and Co., a connexion of the North-West Fur
Company. It was while he was with this
company that he obtained the experience and
knowledge neeessary to his profession of a
fur-trader, long before he nndertook his ar-
duous and dangerous expeditions to the far
North. He was soon to distinguish himself.
His firm gave him a small venture to Detroit
ön condition that he penetrate to the back
country, which was then almost entirely un-
explored, and open up trade with the Indians. He carried out his task in his usual
thorough manner, but not without a severe
struggle with a party of European traders,
who had already obtained a foothold on the
margin of this district, and who resented any
interference with their monopoly by outside
parties. Howeyer, finally the intruders were
permitted to remain and share in the trade
with the first comers.    For many years af ter
this, Mr. Mackenzie was occupied in trading
and exploring in various parts of the conti-
nent, but of these operations we have, unfor-
tunately, little or no record. After the
amalgamation of the North-West Company
with the older Hudson's-Bay Company, Mr.
Mackenzie appears to have resided in Canada,
where he became a member of the provincial
parliament, representing Huntingdon County.
He married in 1812, and afterwards bought
an estate at Avoch, Ross-shire, Scotland,
where he resided until his death in March,
1820. i h      §|      li^äW^
It is as an explorer of the väst and lonely
wilds of the North that Mackenzie's fame
chiefly rests. The bravery and hardihood
which carried him thousands of miles över
the prairie and muskegs of the illimitable
plains, down the rapids of great unknown
rivers, över the ranges of almost impassable
mountains, will always command the admi-
ration of all who care for noble deeds.
With a small party of Canadian voyageurs
and Indians, in birch-bark canoes, Mr. Mackenzie started to explore the unknown regions of the North. Skirting the Great
Slave Lake, he finally entered the Mackenzie River, and then began that long, deep
plunge into the wilderness, which lasted
many months, until  he finally emerged on
the shores of the Arctic Ocean, in Latitude
69. North. Here he set up a post with his
name and date of visit. The return voyage
was fraught with many dangers and vicissi-
tudes, but he finally arrived safely at Fort
Chippewayan in September, 1789.
Mr. Mackenzie's next expedition was even
more dangerous and difficult than the former.
He started from Fort Chippewayan on the
lOth of July, 1792, with the object of reach-
ing the Pacific Coast, an enterprise never
before attempted by a European. Af ter
more than nine months of perilous travel he
achieved his ambition and reached the Great
Western Ocean near Cape Menzies on the
22nd June, 1793. He is said to have in-
scribed on the face of a rock the date of his
visit, and here it was that he was nearly
murdered by the natives before setting out
on his return.
The results of Mr. Mackenzie's voyages to
the far North have not been meagre. The
opening of the territory to the west of the
Rocky Mountains, followed quickly after;
and the great Hudson's-Bay Company imme-
diately started to stud the whole northern
countiy with small trading posts, whence
have been drawn since incalculable riches in
the furs of the North.
All this is easy enough to write down, but
the tale is still far from be ing told in full.
What of the long days of gloom and loneli-
ness, days of peril and uncertainy, days when
hope had almost reached the vanishing point?
Who shall speak? It is a fascinating record
which has placed the name of this indomi-
table Scotchman beside the names of the
world's greatest explorers.
JUMJlil.lifHUtJi.yi.LJ.IJ-J, Preface.
On presenting this Volume to my Country,
it is not necessary to enter into a particular
accountof those voyageswhose journals form
the principal part of it, as they will be foundj
I trust, to explain themselves. It appears,
however, to be a duty, which the Public have
a right to expect from me, to state the reasons
which have influenced me in delaying the
publication of them.
It has been asserted, that a misunderstand-
ing between a person high in office and my-
self, was the cause of this procrastination.
It has also been propagated, that it was oc-
casioned by that precaution which the policy
of commerce will sometimes  suggest;   but
they are both equally devoid of foundation.
The one is an idle tale; and there could be
no solid reason for concealing the circum-
stances of discoveries, whose arrangements
and prosecution were so honourable to my
associates and myself, at whose expense they
were undertaken.    The delay actually arose
from the very active and busy mode of life in
which I was engaged since the voyages have
been completed;  and when,  at length, the
opportunity arrived, the apprehension of pre-
senting myself to the Public in the character
of an Author, for which the course and oc-
cupations of my life have by no means quali-
fied me, made me hesitate in committing my
papers to the Press; being much better cal-
culated 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 submission that becomes me.
I was led, at an early period of life, by
commercial views, to the country North-West
of Lake Superior, in North America, and being endowed by Nature with an inquisitive
mind and enterprising spirit; possessing also
a constitution and f rame of body equal to the
most arduous undertakings, and being f amiliar
with toilsome exertions in the prosecution of
mercantile pursuits, I not only contemplated
the practicability of penetrating across the
continent of America, but was confident in
the qualifications, as I was animated by the
desire, to undertake the perilous enterprise.
The general utility of such a discovery,
has been universally acknowledged; while
the wishes of my particular friends and commercial associates, that I should proceed in
the pursuit of it, contributed to quicken the
execution of this favourite project of my own
ambition: and as the completion of it extends
the boundaries  of  geographic  science,  and
adds new countries to the realms of British
commerce, the dängers I have encountered,
and the toi],s I have suffered, have found
their recompence; nor will the many tedious
and weary days, or the gloomy and inclement
nights which I have passed, have been passed
in vain.
The nr st voyage has settled the dubious
point of a practicable North-West passage;
and I trust it has set that long agitated ques-
tion at rest, and extinguished the disputes
respecting it for ever. An enlarged discus-
sion of that subject will be found to occupy
the concluding pages of this volume.
In this voyage, I was not only without the
necessary books and instruments, but also
felt myself deficient in the sciences of as-
tronomy and navigation; I did not hesitate,
therefore, to undertake a winter's voyage to
this country, in order to procure the one, and
acquire the other. These objects being ac-
complished, I returned, to determine the
practicability of a commercial communication
through the continent of North America, be-
tween the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, which
is proved by my second journal. Nor do I
hesitate to declare my decided opinion, that
very great and essential advantages may be
derived by extending our trade from one sea
to the other.
Some account of the fur trade of Canada
from that country, of the native inhabitants
and of the extensive districts connected with
it, forms a preliminary discourse, which will,
I trust, pro ve intere sting to a nation, whose
general policy is blended with, and whose
prosperity is supported by, the pursuits of
commerce. It will also qualify the reader
to pursue the succeeding voyages with superior
intelligence and satisfaction.
These voyages will not, I fear, afford the
variety that may be expected from them;
and that which they offered to the eye, is not
of a nature to be effectually transferred to
the page. Mountains and valleys, the dreary*
waste, and the wide-spreading forests, the
lakes and rivers succeed each other in general
description; and, except on the coasts of the
Pacific Ocean, where the villages were permanent, and the inhabitants in a great meas-
ure stationary, small bands of wandering
Indians are the only people whom I shall
introduce to the acquaintance of my readers.
The beaver and the buffalo, the moose-deer
and the elk, which are the principal animals
to be found in these countries, are already so
familiar to the naturalists of Europé, and
have been so often as well as correctly de-
scribed in their works, that the bare mention
of them, as they enlivened the landscape, or
were hunted for food; with a cursory ac-
count of the soil, the course and navigation of
lakes and rivers, and their various produce, PREFACE.
is all that can be reasonably expected from
I do not possess the science of the naturalist; and even if the qualifications of that
character had been attained by me, its curious
spirit would not have been gratified. I could
not stop to dig into the earth, över whose
surface I was compelled to pass with rapid
steps; nor could I turn aside to collect the
plants which nature might have seattered on
the way, when my thoughts were anxiously
employed in making provision for the day
that was passing över me. I had to encounter
perils by land and perils by water; to watch
the savage who was our guide, or to guard
against those of his tribe who might meditate
our destruction. I had, also, the passions
and fears of others to control and subdue.
To-day, I had to assuage the rising discon-
tents, and on the morrow, to cheer the f aint-
ing spirits of the people who accompanied
me. The toil of our navigation was inces-
sant, and oftentimes extreme; and in our
progress över land, we had no protection from
the severity of the elements, and possessed
no accommodations or conveniences but such
as could be contained in the burden on our
shoulders, which aggravated the toils of our
march, and added to the wearisomeness of
our way.
Though the   events which   compose  my
journals may have little in themselves to
strike the imagination of those who love to
be astonished, or to gratify the curiosity of
such as are enamoured of romantic adventures;
nevertheless, when it is considered, that I
explored those waters which had never before
borne any other vessel than the canoe of the
savage; and traversed those deserts where an
European had never before presented himself
to the eye of its swarthy natives; when to
these considerations are added the important
objects which were pursued, with the dangers
that were encountered, and the difficulties
that were surmounted to attain them, this
work will, I nätter myself, be found to excite
an interest, and conciliate regard, in the
minds of those who peruse it.
The general map which illustrates this voi-
ume, is reduced by Mr. Arrowsmith from his
three-sheet map of North America, with the
latest discoveries, which he is about to re-
publish. His professional abilities are well
known, and no encomium of mine will ad-
vance the general and merited opinion of them.
Before I conclude, I must beg leave to inform my readers, that they are not to expect
the charms of embellished narrative, or ani-
mated description; the approbation due to
simplicity and to truth, is all I presume to
claim; and I am not without the hope that
this claim will be allowed me.    I have de-
scribed whatever I saw with the impressions
of the moment which presented it to me.
The successive circumstances of my progress
are related without exaggeration or display.
I have seldom allowed myself to wander into
conjecture; and whenever conjecture has
been indulged, it will be found, I trust, to
be accompanied with the temper of a man
who is not disposed to think too highly of
himself: and if, at any time, I have delivered
myself with confidence, it will appear, I hope,
to be on those subjects, which, from the
habits and experience of my life, will justify
an unreserved communication of my opinions.
I am not a candidate for literary fame; at
the same time, I cannot but indulge the hope
that this volume, with all its imperfections,
will not be thought unworthy the attention
of the scientific geographer; and that, by
unfolding countries hitherto unexplored, and
which, I presume, may now be considered as
a part of the British dominions, it will be
received as a faithful tribute to the prosperity
of my country.
November 30, 1801.
xm  %
Table of Contents.
fc'    CHAPTER I.
Embarked at Fort Chepewyah, on the Lake of the
Hills, in company with M. Le Roux. Account
of the party, provisions, etc. Direction of the
course. Enter one of the branches of the Lake.
Arrive in the Peace River. Appearance of the
land. Navigation of the river. Arrive at the
mouth of the Dog River. Successive description
of several carrying places. A canoe löst in one of
the Falls. Encamp on Point de Roche. Course
continued. Set the nets, etc. Arrive at the Slave
Lake. The weather extremely cold. Banks of
the river described, with its trees, soil, etc. Account of the äninial productions, and the fishery
of the Lake. Obliged to wait till the moving of
the ice. Three families of Indians arrive from
Athabasca. Beavers, geese, and swans killed.
The nets endangered by ice. Re-embark and land
on a small island. Course continued along the
shores, and across the bays of the Lake. Various
successes of the hunters. Steer for an island where
there was plenty of cranberries and small onions.
Kill several reindeer. Land on an island named
Isle a la Cache.   Clouds of mosquitoes .       . 193
Landed at some lodges of Red-Knife Indians: pro
cure one of them to assist in navigating the bays
Conference with the Indians.    Take leave of M
Le Roux, and continue the voyage. Different
appearances of the land; its vegetable produce.
Visit an island where the wood had been felled.
Further description of the coast. Plenty of rein-
and moose-deer, and white partridges. Enter a
very deep bay. Interrupted by ice. Very blow-
ing weather. Continue to cross the bay. Arrive
at the mouth of a river. Great numbers of fish
and wild-fowl. Description of the land on either
side. Curious appearance of woods that had been
burned. Came in sight of the Horn Mountain.
Continue to kill geese and swans, etc. Yiolent
storm 211
Continued our course. The river narrows. Löst
the lead. Passed a small river. Yiolent rain.
Land on a small island. Expect to arrive at the
rapid. Conceal two bags of pemmican in an
island. A view of mountains. Pass several en-
campments of the natives. Arrive among the
islands. Ascend a high hill. Violence of the
current. Ice seen along the banks of the river.
Land at village of the natives. Their conduct
and appearance. Their fabulous stories. The
English chief and Indians discontented. Obtain
a new guide. Singular customs of the natives.
An account of their dances. Description of their
persons, dress, ornaments, buildings, arms for war
and hunting, canoes, etc. Passed on among islands. Encamped beneath a hill, and prevented
from ascending by the mosquitoes. Landed at an
encampment. Conduct of the inhabitants. They
abound in fabulous accounts of dangers. Land
at other encampments. Procure plenty of hares
and partridges. Our guide anxious to return.
Land and alarm the natives, called the Hare In-
dians, etc.   Exchange our guide.    State of the
weather 224
The new guide makes his escape. Compel another
to supply his place. Land at an encampment of
another tribe of Indians. Account of their man-
ners, dress, weapons, etc. Traffic with them.
Description of a beautiful fish. Engage another
guide. His curious behaviour. Kill a fox and
ground-hog. Land at an encampment of a tribe
called the Deguthee Denees, or Quarrellers. Saw
flax growing wild. The varying character of the
river and its banks. Distant mountains. Per-
plexity from the numerous channels of the river.
Determined to proceed. Land where there had
been an encampment of the Esquimaux. Saw
large flocks of wild-fowl. View of the sun at
midnight. Description of a place lately deserted
by the Indians. Houses of the natives described.
Frequent showers. Saw a black fox. The dis-
contents of our hunters renewed, and pacified.
Face of the country. Land at a spöt lately inhab-
ited. Peculiar circumstances of it. Arrive at the
entrance of the lake. Proceed to an island. Some
account of it 248
The baggage removed from the rising of the water.
One of the nets driven away by the wind and
current. Whales are seen. Go in pursuit of
them, but prevented from continuing it by the
fog. Proceed to take a view of the ice. Canoe
in danger from the swell. Examine the islands.
Describe one of them. Erect a post to perpetuate
our visit there. The rising of the water appears
to be the tide. Successful fishing. Uncertain
2 xvii CONTENTS.
weather. Sail among the islands. Proceed to a
river. Temperature of the air improves. Land
on a small island, which is a place of sepulture.
Description of it. See a great number of wild-
fowl. Fine view of the river from the high land.
The hunters kill reindeer. Cranberries, etc., found
in great plenty. The appearance and state of the
country. Our guide deserts. Large flight of
geese; kill many of them. Violent rain. Return
up the river. Leave the channels for the main
stream. Obliged to tow the canoe. Land among
the natives. Circumstances concerning them.
Their account of the Esquimaux Indians. Ac-
company the natives to their huts. Account of
our provisions 268
Employ the towing line.   Description of a place
where the Indians come to collect flint.    Their
shyness  and suspicions.    Current lessons.   Appearance of the country.    Abundance of hares.
Violent storm.   Land near three lodges.   Alarm
of the Indians.    Supply of fish from them.    Their
fabulous accounts.    Continue to see Indian lodges.
Treatment of a disease.   Misunderstanding with
the  natives.   The  interpreter harangues them.
Their accounts similar to those we have already
received.    Their curious conduct.   Purchasesome
beaver skins.    Shoot one of their dögs.   Theconse-
quence of that act.    Apprehensions of the women.
Large quantities of liquorice.    Swallows' nests
seen in the precipices.   Fall in with a party of the
natives killing geese.    Circumstances concerning
them.    Hurricane.    Variation  of  the weather.
Kill great numbers of geese.   Abundance of several kinds of berries.    State of the river and its
bank.      .       .       .       .       .       j       .       .287
Voyage continued. Suspect the integrity of the
interpreter. Stars visible. Springs of mineral
water, and lumps of iron ore. Arrive at the river
of the Bear Lake. Coal mine in a state of com-
bustion. Water of the river diminished. Con-
tiDue to see Indian encampments, and kill geese,
etc. Hunting excursions. A canoe found on the
edge of the wood. Attempt to ascend a moun-
tain. Account of the passage to it. See a few of
the natives. Kill a beaver and some hares. Design of the English chief. Kill a wolf. Change-
able state of the weather. Recover the pemmican,
which had been hidden in an island. Natives fly
at our approach. Meet with dögs. Altercation
with the English chief. Account of the artides
left by the fugitives. Shoäls of the river covered
with saline matter. Encamp at the mouth of the
river of the mountain. The ground on flre on
each side of it. Continue to see encampments of
the natives. Various kinds of berries. Kill geese,
swans, etc, etc, etc. Corroding quality of the
water. Weather changeable. Reach the entrance
of the Slave Lake. Dangers encountered on en-
tering it. Caught pike and trout. Met M. Le
Roux on the lake. Further circumstances till our
return to Fort Chepewyan. Conclusion of the
voyage 306
Leave Fort Chepewyan. Proceed to the Peace
River. State of the Lakes. Arrive at Peace
Point. The reason assigned for its name. The
weather cold. Arrive at the Falls. Description
of the country.   Land at the Fort, called The Old
J afgjgWfthjt^.iihiHrjfeisii-i&ugj
Establishment. The principal building destroyed
by fire. Course of the river. Arrive at another
fort. Some account of the natives. Depart from
thence. Course of the river continued. It divides
into two branches. Proceed along the principal
one. Land at the place of our winter's residence.
Account of its circumstances and inhabitants, etc
Preparations for erecting a fort, etc, etc. Table
of the weather. Broke the thermometer. Frost
sets in.   Description of birds.        .       .       . 339
The fur trade, from the earliest settlement
of Canada, was considered of the nr st im-
portance to that colony. The country was
then so populous, that, in the vicinity of the
establishments, the animals whose skins were
precious, in a commercial view, soon became
very scarce, if not altogether extinct. They
were, it is true, hunted at former periods,
but merely for food and clothing. The Indians, therefore, to procure the necessary
supply, were encouraged to penetrate into
the country, and were generally accompanied
by some of the Canadians, who found means
to induce the remotest tribes of natives to
bring the skins which were most in demand,
to their settlements, in the way of trade.
It is not necessary for me to examine the
cause, but experience proves that it requires
much less time for a civilized people to de-
viate into the manners and customs of savage
life, than for savages to rise into a state of
civilisation.    Such was the event with those
who thus accompanied the natives on their
hunting and trading excursions; for they
became so attached to the Indian mode of
life, that they löst all relish for their former
habits and native homes. Hence they de-
rived the title of Coureurs des Bois, became
a kind of pedlars, and were extremely useful
to the merchants engaged in the fur trade;
who gave them the necessary credit to proceed on their commercial undertakings.
Three or four of these people would join
their stock, put their property into a birch-
bark canoe, which they worked themselves,
and either accompanied the natives in their
excursions, or went at once to the country
where they knew they were to hunt. At
length, these voyages extended to twelve or
fifteen months, when they returned with rich
cargoes of furs, and followed by great num-
bers of the natives. During the short time
requisite to settle their accounts with the
merchants, and procure fresh credit, they
generally contrived to squander away all their
gains, when they returned to renew their
favourite mode of life: their views being an-
swered, and their labour sufliciently rewarded,
by indulging themselves in extravagance and
dissipation, during the short space of one
month in twelve or fifteen.
This indifference about amassing property,
and the pleasure of living free from all re-
xxii OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
straint, soon brought on a licentiousness of
manners which could not long escape the
vig;ilant observation of the missionaries, who
had much reason to complain of their being
a disgrace to the Christian religion; by not
only swerving from its duties themselves, but
by thus bringing it into disrepute with those
of the natives who had become converts to
it; and, consequently, obstructing the great
object to which those pious men had devoted
their lives. They therefore exerted their in-
fluence to procure the suppression of these
people, and accordingly, no one was allowed
to go up the country to traffic with the Indians, without a license from the government.
At first these permissions were, of course,
granted only to those whose character was
such as could give no alarm to the zeal of the
laaissionaries: but they were afterwards be-
stowed as rewards for services, on officers,
and their widows; and they, who were not
willing or able to make use of them (which
may be supposed to be always the case with
those of the latter description), were allowed
to sell them to the merchants, who neces-
sarily employed the Coureurs des bois, in
quality of their agents; and these people, as
may be imagined, gave sufficient cause for the
renewal of former complaints; so that the rem-
edy proved, in fact, worse than the disease.
At length, military posts were established
at the confluence of the different large lakes
of Canada, which, in a great measure checked
the evil consequences that followed from the
improper conduct of these foresters, and, at
the same time, protected the trade. Besides,
a number of able and respectable men, retired
from the army, prosecuted the trade in person, under their respective licences, with
great order and regularity, and extended it
to such a distance, as, in those days, was
considered to be an astonishing effort of com-
mercial enterprize. These persons and the
missionaries having combined their views at
the same time, secured the respect of the
natives, and the obedience of the people neces-
sarily employed in the laborious parts of this
undertaking. These gentlemen denominated
themselves commanders, and not traders,
though they were entitled to both those char-
acters: and, as for the missionaries, if suffer-
ings and hardships in the prosecation of the
great work which they had undertaken, de-
served applause and admiration, they had an
undoubted claim to be admired and applauded:
they spared no labour and avoided no danger
in the execution of their important office;
and it is to be seriously lamented, that their
pious endeavours did not meet with the suc-
cess which they deserved: for there is hardly
a trace to be found beyond the cultivated
parts, of their meritorious functions.
The cause of this f ailure must be attributed
to a want of due consideration in the mode
employed by the missionaries, to propagate
the religion of which they were the zealous
ministers. They habituated themselves to
the savage life, and naturalized themselves
to the savage manners, and, by thus becoming
dependent, as it were, on the natives, they
acquired their contempt rather than their ven-
eration. If they had been as well acquainted
with human nature, as they were with the
artides of their f aith, they would have known
that the uncultivated mind of an Indian must
be disposed by much preparatory method and
instruction to receive the revealed truths of
Christianity, to act under its sanctions, and
be impelled to good by the hope of its re-
ward, or turned from evil by the fear of its
punishments. They should have begun their
work by teaching some of those useful arts
which are the inlets of knowledge, and lead
the mind by degrees to objects of higher coni-
prehension. Agriculture, so formed to fix
and combine society, and so preparatory to
objects of superior consideration, should have
been the first thing introduced among a savage people: it attachés the wandering tribe
to that spöt where it adds so much to their
comforts; while it gives them a sense of
property, and of lasting possession, instead
of the uncertain hopes of the chase, and the
xxv ;S5=HHS
fugitive produce of uncultivated wilds. Such
were the means by which the forests of Paraguay were converted into a scene of abundant
cultivation, and its savage inhabitants intro-
duced to all the advantages of a civilised life.
The Canadian missionaries should have
been contented to improve the morals of their
own countrymen, so that by meliorating their
character and conduct, they would have given
astriking example of the effect of religion in
promoting the comforts of life to the sur-
rounding savages; and might by degrees have
extended its benign influence to the remotest
regions of that country, which was the ob-
ject, and intended to be the scene, of their
evangelical labours. But by bearing the
light of the Gospel at once to the distance of
two thousand five hundred miles from the
civilised part of the colonies, it was soon ob-
scured by the cloud of ignorance that dark-
ened the human mind in those distant regions.
The whole of their long route I have often
travelled, and the recollection of such a people as the missionaries having been there, was
confined to a few superannuated Canadians,
who had not lef t that country since the cession
to the English, in 1763, and who particularly
mentioned the death of some, and the dis-
tressing situation of them all. But if these
religious men did not attain the objects of
their persevering piety, they were,  during
their mission, of great service to the com-
manders who engaged in those distant expeditions, and spread the fur trade as far West
as the banks of the Saskatchiwine river, in
53. North latitude, and longitude 102. West.
At an early period of their intercourse with
the savages, a custom was introduced of a
very excellent tendency, but is now unfortu-
nately discontinued, of not selling any spiritu-
ous liquor to the natives. This admirable
regulation was for some time observed, with
all the respect due to the religion by which
it was sanctioned, and whose severest censures
followed the violation of it. A painful pen-
ance could alone restore the offender to the
suspended rites of the sacrament. The casu-
istry of trade, however, discovered a way to
gratify the Indians with their f avourite cordial
without incurring the ecclesiastical penalties,
by giving, instead of selling it to them.
But notwithstanding all the restrictions
with which commerce was oppressed under
the Erench government, the fur trade was
extended to the immense distance which has
been already stated; and surmounted many
most discouraging difnculties, which will be
hereafter noticed; while, at the same time,
no exertions were made from Hudson's Bay
to obtain even a share of the trade of a country, which according to the charter of that
company, belonged to it, and, from its prox-
imity, is so much more accessible to the mer-
cantile adventurer.
Of these trading commanders, I understood,
that two attempted to penetrate to the Pacific
Ocean, but the utmost extent of their journey
I could never learn; which may be attributed,
indeed, to a f ailure of the undertaking.
Eor some time af ter the conquest of Canada,
this trade was suspended, which must have
been very advantageous to the Hudson's-Bay
Company, as all the inhabitants to the west-
ward of Lake Superior were obliged to go to
them for such artides as their habitual use
had rendered necessary. Some of the Cana-
dians who had lived long with them, and
were become attached to a savage life, accompanied them thither annually, till mercantile
adventurers again appeared from their own
country, af ter an interval of several years,
owing, as I suppose, to an ignorance of the
country in the conquerors, and their want
of commercial confidence in the conquered.
There were, indeed, other discouragements,
such as the immense length of the journey
necessary to reach the limits beyond which
this commerce must begin; the risk of property; the expenses attending such a long
transport; and an ignorance of the language
of those who, from their experience, must be
necessarily employed   as   the   intermediate
agents between them and the natives.    But,
notwithstanding these difficulties, the trade,
by degrees, began to spread över the differ-
ent parts to which it had been carried by the
French, though at a great risk of the lives,
as well as the property of their new posses-
sors, for the natives had been taught by their
former allies to entertain hostile dispositions
towards the English, from their having been
in alliance with their natural enemies the
Iroquois.; and there were not wanting a sufii-
cient number of discontented, disappointed
people, to keep alive such a notion; so that
for a long time they were considered and
treated as objects of hostility. To pro ve
this disposition of the Indians, we have only
to ref er to the conduct of Pontiac, at Detroit,
and the surprise and taking of Michilimakinac,
about this period.
Hence it arose, that it was so late as the
year 1766, before which, the trade I mean
to consider, commenced from Michilimakinac.
The first who attempted it were satisfied to
go the length of the river Camenistiquia,
about thirty miles to the Eastward of the
Gr ande Portage, where the French had a
principal establishment, and was the line of
their communication with the interiör country. It was once destroyed by fire. Here
they went and returned successful in the fol-
lowmg spring to Michilimakinac.    Their suc-
cess induced them to  renew their journey,
and incited others to follow their example.
Some of them remained at Camenistiquia,
while others proceeded to and beyond the
Grande Portage, which, since that time has
become the principal entrepot of that trade,
and is situatedin a bay, in latitude 48. North,
and longitude 90. West. After passing the
usual season there, they went back to Michilimakinac as before, and encouraged by the
trade, returned in increased numbers. One
of these, Thomas Curry, with a spirit of en-
terprize superior to that of his contemporaries,
determined to penetrate to the furthest limits
of the Erench discoveries in that country; or
at least till the frost should stop him. For
this purpose he procured guides and interpreters, who were acquainted with the country, and with four canoes arrived at Fort
Bourbon, which was one of their posts, at
the West end of the Cedar Lake, on the
waters of the Saskatchiwine. His risk and
toil were well recompensed, for he came back
the following spring with his canoes filled
with fine furs, with which he proceeded to
Canada, and was satisfied never again to return to the Indian country.
Erom this period, people began to spread
över every part of the country, particularly
where the Erench had established settlements.
Mr. James Finlay was the first who fol-
lowed Mr.  Curry's example,  and with the
same number of canoes, arrived, in the course
of the next season, at Nipawee, the last of
the French settlements on the bank of the
Saskatchiwine river, in latitude nearly 43\.
North, and longitude 103. West: he found
the good fortune, as he followed, in every
respect, the example, of his predecessor.
As may be supposed, there were now people enough ready to replace them, and the
trade was pursued with such avidity, and
irregularity, that in a few years it became
the reverse of what it ought to have been.
An animated competition prevailed, and the
contending parties carried the trade beyond
the Erench limits, though with no benefit to
themselves or neighbours, the Hudson's-Bay
Company; who in the year 1774, and not till
then, thought proper to move from home to
the East bank of Sturgeon Lake, in latitude
53. 56. North, and longitude 102. 15. West,
and became more jealous of their fellow sub-
jects; and, perhaps, with more cause, than
they had been of those of Erance. From this
period, to the present time, they have been
following the Canadians to their different
establishments, while, on the contrary, there
is not a solitary instance that the Canadians
have followed them; and there are many trad-
ing posts which they have not yet attained.
This, however, will no longer be a mystery,
when the hature and policy of the Hudson' s-
Bay Company is compared with that which
has been pursued by their rivals in this trade.
—But to return to my subject.
This competition, which has been already
mentioned, gave a fatal blow to the trade
from Canada, and, with other incidental
causes, in my opinion, contributed to its ruin.
This trade was carried on in a very distant
country, out of the reach of legal restraint,
and where there was a free scope given to
any ways or means in attaining ad vantage.
The consequence was not only the loss of
commercial benefit to the persons engaged in
it, but of the good opinion of the natives,
and the respect of their men, who were in-
clined to follow their example; so that with
drinking, carousing, and quarrelling with the
Indians along their route, and among themselves, they seldom reached their winter
quarters; and if they did, it was generally
by dragging their property upon sledges, as
the navigation was closed up by the frost.
When at length they 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 misrepresentation and presents, for
which the agents employed were peculiarly
calcnlated. They considered the command
of their employer as binding on them, and
however wrong or irregular the transaction,
the responsibility rested with the 'principal
xxxii OF THE FUR TRADE, &c
who directed them. This is Indian law.
Thus did they waste their credit and their
property with the natives, till the first was
past redemption, and the last was nearly ex-
hausted; so that towards the spring in each
year, the rival parties found it absolutely
necessary to join, and make one common
stock of what remained, for the purpose of
trading with the natives, who could enter-
tain no respect for persons who had conducted
themselves with so much irregularity and
deceit. The winter, therefore, was one continued scene of disagreements and quarrels.
If any one had the precaution or good sense
to keep clear of these proceedings, he derived
a proportionable advantage from his good
conduct, and f requently proved a peacemaker
between the parties. To such an height had
they carried this licentious conduct, that they
were in a continual state of alarm, and were
even frequently stopped to pay tribute on
their route into the country; though they
had adopted the plan of travelling together
in parties of thirty or förty canoes, and keep-
ing their men armed; which sometimes, indeed, proved necessary for their defence.
Thus was the trade carried on for several
years, and consequently becoming worse and
worsa, so that the partners, who met them at
the Grande Portage, naturally complained of
their ill success.    But specious reasons were
3 xxxiii i
always ready to prove that it arose from circumstances which they could not at that time
control; and encouragements were held f orth
to hope that a change would soon take place,
which would make ample amends for past
It was about this time, that Mr. Joseph
Frobisher, one of the gentlemen engaged in
the trade, determined to penetrate into the
country yet unexplored, to the North and
Westward, and, in the spring of the year
1775, met the Indians from that quarter on
their way to Fort Churchill, at Portage de
Traite, so named from that circumstance, on
the banks of the Missinipi, or Churchill river,
latitude 55. 25. North, longitude 103^. West.
It was indeed, with some difficulty that he
could induce them to trade with him, but he
at length procured as niany furs as his canoes
could carry. In this perilous expedition he
sustained every kind of hardship incident to
a journey through a wild and savage country,
where his subsistence depended on what the
woods and the waters produced. These difå-
culties, nevertheless, did not discourage him
from returning in the following year, when
he was equally successful. He then sent his
brother to explore the country still further
West, who penetrated as far as the lake of
Isle a la Crosse, in latitude 55. 26. North,
juid longitude 108. West.
xxxiv OF THE FUR TRADE, &c
He, however, never af ter wintered among
the Indians, though he retained a large inter-
est in the trade, and a principal share in the
direction of it till the year 1798, when he re-
tired to enjoy the fruits of his labours; and,
by his hospitality, became known to every
respectable stranger who visited Canada.
The succéss of this gentleman induced
others to follow his example, and in the
spring of the year 1778, some of the traders
on the Saskatchiwine river, finding they had
a quantity of goods to spare, agreed to put
them into a joint stock, and ga ve the charge
and management of them to Mr. Peter Pond,
who, in four canoes, was directed to enter the
English River, so called by Mr. Frobisher, to
follow his track, and proceed still further; if
possible, to Athabasca, a country hitherto
unknown but from Indian report. In this
enterprise he at length succeeded and pitched
his tent on the banks of the Elk river, by him
erroneously called the Athabasca river, about
förty miles from the Lake of the Hills, into
which it empties itself.
Here he passed the winter of 1778-9; saw
a väst concourse  of *the  Knisténeaux  and
Chepewyan tribes, who used to carry their
furs annually to Churchill; the latter by the
barren grounds, where  they suffered  innu-
merable hardships, and were sometimes even
står ved to death.    The former followed the
course of the lakes and rivers, through a
country that abounded in animals, and where
there was plenty of fish: but though they did
not suffer from want of food, the intolerable
fatigue of such a journey could not be easily
repaid to an Indian: they were, therefore,
highly gratified by seeing people come to their
country to relieve them from such long, toil-
some,  and  dangerous   journeys;   and  were
immediately reconciled to give an advanced
price for the artides necessary to their com-
fort and convenience.    Mr. Pond's reception
and success was accordingly beyond his ex-
pectation;  and he procured twice as many
furs as his canoes would carry.    They also
supplied him with as much provision as he
required during his residence among them,
and   sunicient   for   his   homeward voyage.
Such of the furs as he could not embark, he
secured in one of his winter huts, and they
were found the following season, in the same
state in which he left them.
These, however, were but partial advan-
tages, and could not prevent the people of
Canada from seeing the improper conduct of
some of their associates, which rendered it
dangerous to rernain any longer among the
natives.    Most of them who passed the winter
at the Saskatchiwine, got to the Eagle hills,
where, in the spring of the year 1780, a few
days previous to their intended departure, a
xxx vi OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
large band of Indians being engaged in drink-
ing about their houses, one of the traders, to
ease himself of the troublesome importunities
of a native, gave him a dose of laudanum in
a glass of grog, which effectually prevented
him from giving further trouble to any one,
by setting him asleep for ever.    This accident
produced a fray, in which one of the traders,
and several of the men were killed, while the
rest had no other means to save themselves
but by a precipitate flight, abandoning a con-
siderable quantity of goods, and near half the
furs  which they had  collected  during the
winter and the spring.
About the same time, two of the establish-
ments on the Assiniboin river, were attacked
with less justice, when several white men, and
a great number of Indians were killed.    In
short,   it   appeared,   that   the   natives had
formed a resolution to extirpate the traders;
and, without entering into any further reason-
ings on the subject, it appears to be incon-
trövertible, that the irregularity pursued in
carrying on the trade has brought it into its
present forlorn situation;   and nothing but
the greatest calamity that could have befallen
the natives, saved the traders from destruc-
tion: this was the small-pox, which spread
its destructive and desolating power, as the
fire consumes the dry grass of the field.    The
fatal infection spread around with a baneful
rapidity which no flight could escape, and
with a fatal effect that nothing could resist.
It destroyed with its pestilential breath whole
families and tribes; and the horrid scene
presented to those who had the melancholy
and afnicting opportunity of beholding it, a
combination of the dead, the dying, and such
as to avoid the horrid j!ate of their friends
around them, prepared to disappoint the
plague of its prey, by terminating their own
The habits and lives of these devoted people, which provided not to-day for the wants
of to-morrow, must haveheightened thepains
of such an affiiction, by leaving them not only
without remedy, but even without alleviation.
Naught was left them but to submit in agony
and despair.
To aggravate the picture, if aggravation
were possible, may be added, the putrid car-
cases which the wolves, with a furious vorac
ity, dragged forth from the huts, or which
were mangled within them by the dögs, whose
hunger was satisfied with the disfigured re-
mains of their masters.    Nor was it uncom-
mon for the father of a family, whom the
inf ection had not reached, to call them around
him, to represent the cruel  sufferings and
horrid fäte of their relations, from the influ-
ence of some evil spirit who was preparing to
extirpate their race; and to incite them to
xxxviii OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
bafne death, with all its horrors, by their own
poniards. At the same time, if their hearts
failed them in this necessary act, he was
himself ready to perform the deed of mercy
with his own hand, as the last act of his
affection, and instantly to follow them to the
common place of rest and ref uge from human
It was never satisfactorily ascertained by
what means this malignant disorder was in-
troduced, but it was generally supposed to be
from the Missisouri, by a war party.
The consequence of this melancholy event
to the traders must be self-evident; the means
of disposing of their goods were cut off; and
no furs were obtained, but such as had been
gathered from the habitations of the deceased
Indians, which could not be very consider-
able: nor did they look from the losses of
the present year, with any encouraging ex-
pectations to those which were to come. The
only fortunate people consisted of a party
who had again penetrated to the Northward
and Westward in 1780, at some distance
up the Missinipi, or English river, to Lake
la Rouge. Two unfortunate circumstances,
however, happened to them; which are as
Mr. Wadin, a Swiss gentleman, of strict
probity and known sobriety, had gone there
in the year 1779, and remained during the
summer of 1780. His partners and others,
engaged in an opposite interest, when at the
Grande Portage, agreed to send a quantity of
goods on their joint account, which was ac-
eepted, and Mr. Pond was proposed by them
to be their representative to act in conjunc-
tion with Mr. Wadin. Two men, of more
opposite characters, could not, perhaps, have
been found. In short, from various causes,
their situations became very uncomfortable
to each other, and mutual ill-will was the
natural consequence: without entering, there-
fore, into a minute history of these transac-
tions, it will be sufficient to observe, that,
about the end of the year 1780, or the begin-
ning of 1781, Mr. Wadin had received Mr.
Pond and one of his own clerks to dinner;
and, in the course of the night, the former
was shot through the lower part of the thigh,
when it was said that he expired from the
loss of blood, and was buried next morning
at eight o'clock. Mr. Pond, and the clerk,
were tried for this murder at Montreal, and
acquitted: nevertheless, their innocence was
not so apparent as to extinguish the original
The other circumstance was this. In the
spring of the year, Mr. Pond sent the above-
mentioned clerk to meet the Indians from the
Northward, who used to go annually to Hudson^ Bay; when he easily persuaded them to
trade with him, and return back, that they
might not take tha contagion which had de-
populated the country to the Eastward of
them: but most unfortunately they caught it
here, and carried it with them, to the destruc-
tion of themselves and the neighbouring tribes.
The country being thus depopulated, the
traders and their friends from Canada, who,
from various causes already mentioned, were
very much reduced in number, became confined
to two parties, who began seriously to think
of making permanent establishments on the
Missinipi river, and at Athabasca; for which
purpose, in 1781-2, they selected their best
canoe-men, being ignorant that the small-pox
penetrated that way. The most expeditious
party got only in time to the Portage la Loche,
or Mithy-Ouinigam, which divides the waters
of the Missinipi from those that fall into the
Elk river, to despatch one canoe strong-
handed, and light-loaded, to that country;
but, on their arrival there, they found, in
every direction, the ravages of the small-pox;
so that, from the great diminution of the
natives^ they returned in the spring with no
more than seven packages of beaver. The
strong woods and mountainous countries
afforded a refuge to those who fled from the
contagion of the plains; but they were so
alarmed at the surrounding destruction, that
they avoided the traders, and were dispirited
from hunting, except for their subsistence.
The traders, however, who returned into the
country in the year 1782-3, found the in-
habitants in some sort of tranquillity, and
more numerous than they had reason to ex-
pect, so that their success was proportionably better.
During the winter of 1783-4, the merchants of Canada, engaged in this trade,
formed a junction of interests, under the
name of the North-West Company, and di-
vided it into sixteen shares, without deposit-
ing any capital; each party f urnishing a proportion or quota of such artides as were
necessary to carry on the trade: the respec-
tive parties agreeing to satisfy the friends
they had in the country, who were not ppo-
vided for, according to this agreement, out
of the proportions which they held. The
management of the whole was accordingly
entrusted to Messrs. Benjamin and Joseph
Frobisher, and Mr. Simon M'Tavish, two
distinct houses, who had the greatest interest
and influence in the country, and for which
they were to receive a stipulated commission
in all transactions.
In the spring, two of those gentlemen went
to the Grande Portage with their credentials,
which were confirmed and ratified by all the
parties having an option, except Mr. Peter
Pond, who was not satisfied with the share
allotted him. Accordingly he, and another
gentleman, Mr. Peter Pangman, who had a
right to be a partner, but for whom no provision had been made, came to Canada, with
a determination to return to the country, if
they could find any persons to join them, and
give their scheme a proper support.
The traders in the country, and merchants
at Montreal, thus entered into a co-partner-
ship, which, by these means, was Consolidated
and directed by able men, who, from the
powers with which they were entrusted,
would carry on the trade to the utmost ex-
tent it would bear. The traders in the country, therefore, having every reason to expect
that their past and future labours would be
recompensed, forgot all their former animosi-
ties, and engaged with the utmost spirit and
activity, to forward the general interest; so
that, in the following year, they met their
agents at the Grande Portage, with their
canoes laden with rich furs from the different
parts of that immense tract of country. But
this satisfaction was not to be enjoyed without some interruption; and tliey were mor-
tified to find that Mr. Pangman had prevailed
on Messrs. Gregory and Macleod to join him,
and give him their support in the business,
though deserted by Mr. Pond, who accepted
the terms offered by his former associates.
In the counting-house of Mr.  Gregory I
had been five years; and at this period had
left him, with a small ad venture of goods,
with which he had entrusted me, to seek my
fortune at Detroit. He, without any solici-
tation on my part, had procured an insertion
in the agreement, that I should be admitted
a partner in this business, on condition that
I would proceed to the Indian country in the
following spring, 1785. His partner came to
Detroit to make me such a proposition. I
readily assented to it, and immediately proceeded to the Grande Portage, where I joined
my associates.
We now found that independent of the
natural difliculties of the imdertaking, we
should have to encounter every other which
they, who were already in possession of the
trade of the country, could throw in our way,
and which their circumstances enabled them
to do. Nor did they doubt, from their own
superior experience, as well as that of their
clerks and men, with their local knowledge
of the country and its inhabitants, that they
should soon compel us to leave the country
to them. The event, however, did not justify
their expectations; for, af ter the severest
struggle ever known in that part of the world,
and suffering every oppression which a jeal-
ous and rival spirit could instigate; af ter the
murder of one of our partners, the laming of
another, and the narrow escape of one of our
clerks, who received a bullet through his
powder horn, in the execution of his duty,
they were compelled to allow us a share of
the trade. As we had already incurred a
loss, this union was, in every respect, a de-
sirable event to us, and was concluded in the
monthof July, 1787.
This commercial establishment was now
f ounded on a more solid bas js than any hither-
to known in the country; and it not only
continued in full force, vigour, and prosper-
ity, in spite of all interference from Canada,
but maintained at least an equal share of
advantage with the Hudson's-Bay Company,
notwithstanding the superiority of their local
situation. The following account of this self-
erected concern will manifest the cause of its
It assumed the title of the North-West
Company, and was no more than an association of commercial men, agreeing among
themselves to carry on the fur trade, uncon-
nected with any other business, though many
of the parties engaged had extensive concerns
altogether foreign to it. It may be said to
have been supported entirely upon credit;
for, whether the capital belonged to the pro-
prietor, or was borrowed, it equally bore in-
terest, for which the association was annually
accountable.    It consisted of twenty shares,
unequally divided among the  persons con-
cerned. Of these, a certain proportion was
held by the people who managed the busi-
ness in Canada, and were styled agents for
the Company. Their duty was to import the
necessary goods from England, store them
at their own expense at Montreal, get them
made up into artides suited to the trade,
pack and forward them, and supply the cash
that might be wanting for the outfits, for
which they received, independent of the
profit on their shares, a commission on the
amount of the accounts, which they were
obliged to make out annually, and keep the
adventure of each year distinct. Two of
them went annually to the Grande Portage,
to manage and transact the business there,
and on the communication at Detroit, Michilimakinac, St. Mary's, and at Montreal, where
they received, stored, packed up, and shipped
the company's furs for England, on which
they had also a small commission. The re-
maining shares were held by the proprietors,
who were obliged to winter and manage the
business of the concern with the Indians, and
their respective clerks, etc. They were not
supposed to be under any obligation to f urnish
capital, or even credit. If they obtained any
capital by the trade, it was to remain in the
hands of the agents; for which they were
allowed interest.    Some of them, from their
long   services   and   influence,   held  double
xlvi OF THE  FUR TRADE, &c.
shares, and were allowed to retire from the
business at any period of the existing concern,
with one of those shares, naming any young
man in the company's service to succeed him
in the other. Seniority and merit were,
however, considered as affording a claim to
the succession, which, nevertheless, could not
be disposed of without the concurrence of the
majority of the concern; who, at the same
time, relieved the seceding person from any
responsibility respecting the share that he
transferred, and accounted for it according to
the annual value or råte of the property; so
that the seller could have no advantage, but
that of getting the share of stock which he
retained realised, and receiving for the transferred share what was fairly determined to
be the worth of it. Xhe former was also
discharged from all duty, and became a dor-
mant partner. Thus, all the young men who
were not provided for at the beginning of the
contract, succeeded in succession to the char-
acter and advantages of partners. They en-
tered into the Company's service for tive or
se ven years, under such expectations, and
their reasonable prospects were seldom disap-
pointed: there were, indeed, instances when
they succeeded to shares, before their appren-
ticeship was expired, and it frequently hap-
pened, that they were provided for while they
were in a, state of artided clerkship.    S>hares
were transferable only to the concern at large,
as no person could be admitted as a partner
who had not ser ved his time to the trade.
The dormant partner indeed might dispose
of his interest to any one he chose, but if the
transaction was not acknowledged by his
associates, the purchaser could only be con-
sidered as his agent or attorney. Every
share had a vote, and two-thirds formed a
majority. This regular and equitable mode
of providing for the clerks of the company,
excited a spirit of emulation in the discharge
of their various duties, and in fact, made
every agent a principal, who perceived his
own prosperity to be immediately connected
with that of his employers. Indeed, without
such a spirit, such a trade could not have be-
come so extended and advantageous, as it
has been and now is.
In 1788, the gross amount of the adventure
for the year did not exceed förty thousand
pounds,* but by the exertion, enterprise, and
industry of the proprietors, it was brought,
in eleven years, to triple that amount and
upwards; yielding proportionate profits, and
* This might be properly called the stock of the
company, as it included, with the expenditure of
the year, the amount of the property unexpended,
which had been appropriated for the adventure of
that year, and was carried on to the account of the
following adventure.
xlviii *
surpassing, in short, any thing known in
Such, therefore, being the prosperous state
of the company, it, very naturally, tempted
others to interfere with the concern in a
manner by no means beneficial to the company, and commonly ruinous to the undertakers.
In 1798 the concern underwent a new form,
the shares were increased to forty-six, new
partners being admitted, and others retiring.
This period was the termination of the company, which was not renewed by all the
parties concerned in it, the majority continu-
ing to act upon the old stock, and under the
old finn; the others beginning a new one;
and it now remains to be decided, whether
two parties, under the same regulations and
by the same exertions, though unequal in
number, can continue to carry on the business
to a successful issue. The contrary opinion
has been held, which if verified, will make
it the interest of the parties again to coalesce;
for neither is deficient in capital to support
their obstinacy in a losing trade, as it is not
to be^supposed that either will yield on any
other terms than perpetual participation.
It will not be superfluous in this place, to
explain the general mode of carry ing on the
fur trade.
The agents are obliged to order the neces-
sary goods from England in the month of
October, eighteen months before they can
leave Montreal; that is, they are not shipped
from London until the spring following, when
they arrive in Canada in the summer. In
the course of the following winter they are
made up into such artides as are required for
the savages; they are then packed into parcels
of ninety pounds weight each, but cannot be
sent from Montreal until the May following;
so that they do not get to märket until the
ensuing winter, when they are exchanged for
furs, which come to Montreal the next fall,
and from thence are shipped, chiefly to London, where they are not sold or paid for before the succeeding spring, or even as late as
June; which is forty-two months af ter the
goods were ordered in Canada; thirty-six
after they had been shipped from England,
and twenty-four after they had been for-
warded from Montreal; so that the merchant,
allowing that he has twelve months' credit,
does not receive a return to pay for those
goods, and the necessary expenses attending
them, which is about equal to the value of
the goods themselves, till two years after
they are considered as cash, which makes this
a very heavy business. There is even a small
proportion of it that requires twelve months
longer to bring round the payment, going to
the immense distance it is carried, and from
the shortness of the seasons, which pre-
vents the furs, even after they are collected,
from coming out of the country for that
period. *
The artides necessary for this trade, are
coarse woollen cloths of different kinds;
milled blänkets of different sizes; arms and
ammunition; twist and carrot tobacco; Manchester goods; linens, and coarse sheetings;
thread, lines, and twine; common hardware;
cutlery and ironmongery of several descrip-
tions; kettles of brass and copper, and sheet-
iron; silk and cotton handkerchiefs, hats,
shoes, and hose; calicoes and printed cottons,
etc, etc, etc. Spirituous liquors and provisions are purchased in Canada. These, and
the expense of transport to and from the Indian country, including wages to clerks, interpreters, guides, and canoe-men, with the
expense of making up the  goods for the
* This will be better illustrated by the following
statement:—We will suppose the goods for 1798:
The orders for the goods are sent to this country
25th October, 1796; they are shipped from London
March, 1797; they arrive in Montreal June, 1797;
they are made up in the course of that summer and
winter; they are sent from Montreal May, 1798;
they arrive in the Indian country, and are excbanged
for furs the following winter, 1798-99; which furs
come to Montreal September, 1799; and are shipped
for London, where they are sold in March and April,
and paid for in May or June, 1800. A GENERAL HISTORY
märket, form about half the annual amount
against the adventure.
This expenditure in Canada ultimately
tends to the encouragement of British manu-
factory, for those who are employed in the
different branches of this business, are en-
abled by their gains to purchase such British
artides as they must otherwise forego.
The produce of the year of which I am
now speaking, consisted of the following furs
and peltries:
L     I
106,000 Beaver skins,
6,000 Lynx skins,
2,100 Bear skins,
600 Wolverine skins,
1,500 Fox skins,
1,650 Fisher skins,
4,000 Kitt Fox skins
100 Rackoon skins,
4,600 Otter skins,
3,800 Wolf skins,
17,000 Musquash skins,
700 Elk skins,
32,000 Mårten skins,
750 Deer skins,
1,800 Mink skins,
1,200 Deer skins dressed
500  Buffalo  robes,
and  a   quantity of  cas
to rum.
Öf these were diverted from the British
märket, being sent through the United States
to China, 13,364 skins, fine beaver, weighing
19,283 pounds; 1,250 fine otters, and 1,724
kitt foxes. They would have found their
way to the China märket at any råte, but
this deviation from the British channel arose
from the following circumstance:
An adventure of this kind was undertaken
by a respectable house in London, half con-
cerned with the North-West Company, in the
year 1792. The furs were of the best kind,
and suitable to the märket; and the adven-
turers continued this connexion for five suc-
cessive years, to the annual amount of förty
thousand pounds. At the winding up of the
concern of 1792, 1793, 1794, 1795, in the
year 1797 (the adventure of 1796 not being
included, as the furs were not sent to China,
but disposed of in London), the North-West
Company experienced a loss of upwards of
£40,000 (their half), which was principally
owing to the difnculty of getting home the
produce procured in return for the furs from
China, in the East India Company's ships,
together with the duty payable, and the vari-
ous restrictions of that company. Whereas,
from America there are no impediments; they
get immediately to märket, and the produce
of them is brought back, and perhaps sold in
the course of twelve months. Erom such
advantages, the furs of Canada will no doubt
find their way to China by America, which
would not be the case if British subjects had
the same privileges that are allowed to for-
eigners, as London would then be found the
best and safest märket.
But to return to our principal subject. We
shall now proced to consider the number of
men  employed  in  the  concern:   viz.,  fifty
clerks, seventy-one interpreters and clerks,
liii ■
one thousand one hundred and twenty canoe-
men, and thirty-five guides. Of these, five
clerks, eighteen guides, and three hundred
and fifty canoe-men, were employed for the
summer season in going from Montreal to the
Grande Portage, in canoes, part of whom
proceeded from thence to Rainy Lake, as will
be hereafter explained, and are called Pork-
eaters, or Goers and Comers. These were
hired in Canada or Montreal, and were absent
from the 1st of May till the latter end of
September. For this trip the guides had
from eight hundred to a thousand livrés, and
a suitable equipment; the foreman and steers-
man from four to six hundred livrés; the
middle-men from two hundred and fifty to
three hundred and fifty livrés, with an equipment of one blänket, one shirt, and one pair
of trowsers; and were maintained during that
period at the expense of their employers.
Independent of their wages, they were allowed
to trafiic, and many of them earned to the
amount of their wages. About one-third of
these went to winter, and had more than
double the above wages and equipment. All
the winterers were hired by the year, and
sometimes for three years; and of the clerks
many were apprentices, who were generally
engaged for five or se ven years, for which
they had only one hundred pounds, provision
and clothing.    Such of them who could not
liv ■M
be provided for as partners, at the expiration
of this time, were allowed from one hundred
pounds to three hundred pounds per annum,
with all necessaries, till provision was made
for them. Those who acted in the two-fold
capacity of clerk and interpreter, or were so
denominated, had no other expectation than
the payment of wages to the amount of from
one thousand to four thousand livrés per*an-
num, with clothing and provisions. The
guides, who are a very useful set of men,
acted also in the additional capacity of interpreters, and had a stated quantity of goods,
considered as sufficient for their wants, their
wages being from one to three thousand livrés.
The canoe-men are of two descriptions, foremen and steersmen, and middlemen. The
two first were allowed annually one thousand
two hundred, and the latter eight hundred,
livrés each. The first class had what is
called an equipment, consisting of two
blänkets, two shirts, two pair of trowsers,
two handkerchiefs, fourteen pounds of carrot
tobacco, and some trifling artides. The
latter had ten pounds of tobacco, and all the
other artides: those are called North Men,
or Winterers; and to the last class of people
were attached upwards of seven hundred Indian w,omen and children, victualled at the
expence of the company.
The first class of people are hired in Mon-
treal five months before they set out, and re-
ceive their equipments, and one-third of their
wages in advance; and an adequate idea of
the labour they undergo, may be formed from
the following account of the country through
which they pass, and their manner of pro-
The necessary number of canoes being pur-
ehåsed, at about three hundred livrés each,
the goods formed into packages, and the
lakes and rivers free of ice, which they usu-
ally are in the beginning of May, they are
then despatched from La Chine, eight miles
above Montreal, with eight or ten men in each
canoe, and their baggage; and sixty-five
packages of goods, six hundred weight of
biscuit, two hundred weight of pork, three
bushels of pease, for the men's provision;
two oil-eloths to cover the goods, a sail, etc,
an axe, a towing-line, a kettle, and a sponge
to bail out the water, with a quantity of gum,
bark, and watape, to repair the vessel. An
European on seeing one of these slender ves-
sels thus laden, heaped up, and sunk with
her gunwale within six inches of the water,
would think his fäte inevitable in such a boat,
when he reflected on the nature of her voyage;
but the Canadians are so expert that few ac-
cidents happen.
Leaving La Chine,   they proceed to St.
Ann's, within two miles of the Western ex-
tremity of the island of Montreal, the lake of
the two mountains being in sight, which may
be termed the commencement of the Utawas
river.     At the rapid of St.   Ann they are
obliged to take out part, if not the whole of
their lading.    It is from this spöt that the
Canadians consider they take their departure,
as it possesses the last church on the island,
which is dedicated to the tutelar saint  of
The lake of the two mountains is about
twenty miles long, but not more than three
wide,  and surrounded by cultivated fields,
except the Seignory belonging to the clergy,
though nominally in possession of the two
tribes  of  Iroquois  and  Algonquins,   whose
village is situated on a delightful point of
land under the hills, which, by the title of
mountains, give a name to the lake.    Near
the extremity of the point their church is
built, which divides the village in two parts,
formin g a regular angle along the water side.
On the East is the station of the Algonquins,
and on the West, one of the Iroquois, consist-
ing in all of about five hundred warriors.
Each party has  its missionary, and divine
worship is performed according to the rites
of the Boman Catholic religion, in their re-
spective languages in the same church: and
so assiduous have their pastors been, that
these people have been instructed in reading
lvii $mi
and writing in their own language, and are
better instructed than the Canadian inhabi-
tants of the country of the lower ranks:
but notwithstanding these advantages, and
though the establishment is nearly coeval
with the colonisation of the country, they do
not advance towards a state of civilisation,
but retain their ancient habits, language, and
customs, and are becoming every day more
depraved, indigent, and insignificant. The
country around them, though very capable of
cultivation, presents only a few miserable
patches of ground, sown by the women with
maize and vegetables. During the winter
season, they leave their habitations, and
pious pastors, to follow the chase, according
to the custom of their forefathers. Such is,
indeed, the state of all the villages near the
cultivated parts of Canada. But we shall
now leave them to proceed on our voyage.
At the end of the lake the water contracts
into the Utawas river, which, after a course
of fifteen miles, is interrupted by a succession of rapids and cascades for upwards of
ten miles, at the foot of which the Canadian
Seignories terminate; and all above them
were waste land, till the conclusion of the
American war, when they were surveyed by
order of government, and granted to the ofli-j
cers and men of the eighty-fourth regiment,
when reduced; but principally to the former,
lviii OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
and consequently little inhabited, though very
capable of cultivation.
The voyagers are frequently obliged to un-
load their canoes, and carry the goods upon
their backs, or rather suspended in slings
from their heads. Each man's prdinary load
is two packages, though some carry three.
Here the canoe is towed bv a strong line.
There are some places where the ground will
not admit of their carrying the whole; they
then make two trips, that is, leave half their
lading, and go and land it at the distance re-
quired; and then return for that which was
left. In this distance are three carrying-
places, the length of which depends in a
great measure upon the state of the water,
whether higher or lower; from the last of
these the river is about a mile and a half
wide, and has a regular current for about
sixty miles, when it ends at the first Portage
de Chaudiere, where the body of water falls
twenty-five feet, över cragged, excavated
rocks, in a most wild, romantic manner. A t
a small distance below, is the river Rideau
on the left, falling över a perpendicular rock,
near förty feet high, in one sheet, assuming
the appearance of a curtain; and from which
cireumstänce it derives its name. To this
extent the lands have been surveyed, as before observed, and are very fit for culture.
Many  loyalists are  settled upon  the river
Rideau, and have, I am told, thriving plan-
tations.    Some American families preferring
the British territory, have  also established
themselves   along  a river  on the  opposite
side, where the soil is excellent.    Nor do I
think the period  is far distant, when the
lands will become settled from this vicinity
to Montreal.
Över this portage, which is six hundred
and forty-three paces long, the canoe and all
the lading is carried.    The rock is so steep
and difficult of access, that it requires twelve
men to take the canoe out of the water: it is
then carried by six men, two at each end on
the same side, and two under the opposite
gunwale in the middle.    From hence to the
next is but a short distance, in which they
make two trips  to the  second Portage de
Chaudiere, which is seven hundred paces, to
carry the loading alone.    From hence to the
next   and   last  Chaudiere, or Portage  des
Chenes, is about six miles, with a very strong
current, where the goods are carried seven
hundred and förty paces;  the canoe being
towed up by the line, when the water is not
very high.    We now enter Lac des Chau-
dieres, which is computed to be thirty miles
in length.    Though it is called a lake, there
is a strong   draught   downwards,   and   its
breadth is from two to four miles.    At the
end of this is the Portage des Chats, över
which the canoe and lading are carried two
hundred and seventy-four paces; and very
diincult it is for the former. The river is
here barred by a ridge of black rock, rising
in pinnades and covered with wood, which,
from the small quantity of soil that nourishes
it, is low and stinted. The river finds its
way över and through these rocks, in numer-
ous channels, falling fifteen feet and up-
wards. From hence two trips are made
through a serpentine channel, formed by the
rocks, for several miles, when the current
slackens, and is accordingly called the Lac
des Chats. To the channels of the grand
Calumet, which are computed to be at the
distance of eighteen miles, the current rerf
covers its strength, and proceeds to the Portage Dufort, which is two hundred and forty-
five paces long; över which the canoe and
baggage are transported. Erom hence the
current becomes more rapid, and requires two
trips to the Decharge des Sables,* where the
goods are carried one hundred and thirty-five
paces, and the canoe towed. Then follows
the Mountain Portage, where the canoe and
lading are also carried three hundred and
eighty-five paces;  then to the Decharge of
* The place where the goods alone are carried, is
called a Decharge, and that where goods and canoes
are both transported överland, is denominated a
the Derige, where the goods are carried two
hundred and fifty paces; and thence to the
grand Calumet. This is the longest carry-
ing-place in this river, and is about two thousand and thirty-fivé paces. It is a high hill
or mountain. From the upper part of this
Portage the current is steady, and is only a
branch of the Utawas river, which joins the
main channel, that keeps a more Southern
course, at the distance of twelve computed
leagues. Six leagues further it forms Lake
Coulonge, which is about four leagues in
length; from thence it proceeds through the
channels of the Allumettes to the decharge,
where part of the lading is taken out, and
carried three hundred and forty-two paces.
Then succeeds the Portage des Allumettes,
which is but twenty-five paces, över a rock
difncult of access, and at a very short distance from Decharge. From Portage de
Chenes to this spöt, is a fine deer-hunting
country, and the land in many places very fit
for eultivation. Erom hence the river spreads
wide, and is full of islands, with some current for seven leagues, to the beginning of
Biviere Creuse, or Deep River, which runs in
the form of a canal, about a mile and a half
wide, for about thirty-six miles; bounded
upon the North by very high rocks, with low
land on the South, and sandy; it is inter-
cepted again by falls and cataracts, so that
lxii • r\
the Portages of the two Joachins almost join.
The first is nine hundred and twenty-six
paces, the next seven hundred and twenty,
and both very bad roads. From hence is a
steady current of nine miles to the river du
Moine, where there has generally been a trad-
ing house; the stream then becomes strong
for four leagues, when a rapid succeeds,
which requires two trips. A little way on-
ward is the Decharge, and close to it, the
Portage of the Roche Capitaine, seven hundred and ninety-seven paces in length. From
hence two trips are made through a narrow
channel of the Roche Capitaine, made by an
island four miles in length. A strong current now succeeds, for about six leagues to
the Portage of the two rivers, which is about
eight hundred and twenty paces; from thence
it is three leagues to the Decharge of the
Trou, which is three hundred paces. Near
adjoining is the rapid of Levellier; from
whence, including the rapids of Matawoen,
where there is no carrying-place, it is about
thirty-six miles to the forks of the same
name; in latitude 46. 45. North, and longitude 78. 45. West, and is at the computed
distance of four hundred miles from Montreal. At this place the Petite Riviere falls
into the Utawas. Thejatter river comes from
a North-Westerly direction, forming several
lakes in its course.    The principal of them A GENERAL HISTORY
is Lake Temescamang, where there has al-
ways been a trading post, which may be said
to continue,by a succession of rivers and lakes,
upwards of fifty leagues from the Eorks, pass-
ing near the waters of the Lake Abbitiby, in
latitude 48£, which is received by the Moose
River, that empties itself into James's Bay.
The Petite Riviere takes a South-West di-
rection, is full of rapids and cataracts to its
source, and is not more than fifteen leagues
in length, in the course of which are the following interruptions—The Portage of Plein
Champ, three hundred and nineteen paces;
the Decharge of the B»ose, one hundred and
forty-five paces; the Decharge of Campion,
one hundred and eighty-four paces; the Portage of the Grosse Roche, one hundred and
fifty paces; the Portage of Paresseux, four
hundred and two paces; the Portage of
Prairie, two hundred and eighty-seven paces;
the Portage of La Cave, one hundred paces;
Portage of Talon, two hundred and seventy-
five paces; which, for its length, is the worst
on the communication; Portage Pin de Mu-
sique, four hundred and fifty-six paces; next
to this, is mauvais de Musique, where many
men have been crushed to death by the canoes, and others have received irrecoverable
injuries. The last in this river is the Turtle
Portage, eighty-three paces, on entering the
lake of that name, where, indeed, the river
may be said to take its source. At the first
vase from whence to the great river, the
country has the appearance of having. been
over-run by fire, and consists, in general, of
huge rocky hills. The distance of this pertage which is the height of land, between the
waters of the St. Laurance and the Utawas,
is one thousand five hundred and thirteen
paces to a small canal in a plain, that is just
suflicient to carry the loaded canoe about one
mile to the next vase, which is seven hundred and twenty-five paces. It would be
twice this distance, but the narr o w creek is
dammed in the beaver fashion, to float the
canoes to this barrier, through which they
pass, when the river is just sufficient to bear
them through a swamp of two miles to the
last vase, of one thousand and twenty-four
paces in length. Though the river is in-
creased in this part, some care is necessary
to avoid rocks and stumps of trees. In about
six miles is the lake Nepisingui, which is
computed to be twelve leagues long, though
the route of the canoes is something more: it
is about fifteen miles wide in the widest part,
and bound with rocks. Its inhabitants con-
öist of the remainder of a numerous converted
tribe, called Nepisinguis of the Algonquin
nation. Out of it flows the Riviere des Éran-
cpis, över rocks of a considerable height. In
a bay to the East of this, the road leads över
5 -låtv
the Portage of the Chaudiere des Francois,
five hundred and forty-four paces, to still
water.    It must have acquired the naine of
Kettle, from a great number of holes in the
solid rock of a cylindrical form, and not un-
like that culinary utensil.    They are observ-
able in many parts along strong bodies of
water, and where, at certain seasons, and
distinct periods, it is well known the water
inundates; at the bottom of them are gener-
ally found a number of small stones and peb-
bles.    This circumstance justifies the conclu-
sion, that at some former period these rocks
formed the bed of a branch of the discharge
of this lake, although some of them are up-
wards of ten feet above the present level of
the water at its greatest height.    They are,
indeed, to be seen along every great river
throughout this wide extended country.   The
French river is very irregular, both as to its
breadth and form, and is so interspersed with
islands, that in the whole course of it the
banks are seldom visible.    Of  its various
channels, that which is generally followed
by the canoes is obstructed by the following
Portages, viz., des   Pins, fifty-two   paces;
Feausille, thirty-six paces;  Parisienne, one
hundred paces; Recolet, f orty-five paces; and
the Petite Feusille, twenty-five paces.    In
several   parts there are guts or channels,
where the water flows with great velocity,
which are not more than twice the breadth
of a canoe. The distance to Lake Huron is
estimated at twenty-five leagues, which this
river enters in the latitude 45. 53. North,
that is, at the point of land three or four
miles within the lake. There is hardly a
foot of soil to be seen from one end of the
Fench river to the other, its banks consisting
of hills of entire rock. The coast of the lake
is the same, but lower, backed at some distance by high lands. The course runs through
numerous islands to the North of West to the
river Tessalon, computed to be about fifty
leagues from the French river, and which I
found to be in latitude 46. 12. 21. North;
and from thence crossing, from island to island, the arm of the lake that receives the
water of Lake Superior (which continues the
same course), the route changes to the South
of West ten leagues to the Detour, passing
the end of the island of St. Joseph, within
six miles of the former place. On that island there has been a military establishment
since the upper posts were given up to the
Americans in the year 1794; and is the
Westernmost military position which we have
in this country. It is a place of no trade,
and the greater part, if not the whole of the
Indians come here for no other purpose but
to receive the presents which our goVernment
annually allows them.    They are from the
American territory (except about thirty f am-
ilies, who are the inhabitants of the lake
from the French river, and of the Algonquin
nation) and trade in their peltries, as they
used formerly to do at Michilimakinac, but
principally with British subjects. The Amer-
icans pay them very little attention, and tell
them that they keep possession of their country by right of conquest: that, as their broth-
ers, they will be f riends with them while they
deserve it; and that their traders will bring
them every kind of goods they require, which
they may procure by their industry.
Our commanders treat them in a very dif-
ferent manner, and, under the character of
the representative of their father (which parental title the natives give to his present
Majesty, the common father of all his people) present them with such things as the
actual state of their stores will allow.
How far this conduct, if continued, may,
at a future exigency, keep these people in
our interest, if they are even worthy of it,
is not an object of my present consideration:
at the same time, I cannot avoid expressing
my perfect conviction, that it would not be
of the least advantage to our present or future commerce in that country, or to the people themselves; as it only tends to keep many
of them in a state of idleness about our military establishments.   The ammunition which
lxviä. OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
they receive is employed to kill game, in
order to procure rum in return, though their
families may be in a starving condition:
hence it is, that, in consequence of slothful
and dissolute lives, their numbers are in a
very perceptible state of diminution.
From the Detour to the island of Michilimakinac, at the conference of the Lakes
Huron and Michigan, in latitude 45. 54.
North is about förty miles. To keep the
direct course to Lake Superior, the North
shore from the river Tessalon should be followed ; crossing to the North-West end of
St. Joseph, and passing between it and the
adjacent islands, which makes a distance of
fifty miles to the fall of St. Mary, at the foot
of which, upon the South shore, there is a
village, formerly a place of great resort for
the inhabitants of Lake Superior, and conse-
quently of considerable trade: it is now,
however, dwindled to nothing, and reduced
to about thirty families, of the Algonquin
nation, who are one half of the year starving,
and the other half intoxicated, and ten or
twelve Canadians, who have been in the Indian country from an early period of life,
and intermarried with the natives, who have
brought them families. Their inducements
to settle there, was the great? quantity of
white fish that are to be taken in and about
the falls, with very little trouble, particu-
larly in the autumn, when that fish leave the
lakes, and comes to the running and shallow
waters to spawn.    These, when salt can be
procured, are pickled just as the frost sets
in, and prove very good food with potatoes,
which they have of late cultivated with suc-
cess.    The natives live chiefly on this fish,
which they häng up by the tails, and pre-
serve throughout the winter, or at least as
long as they last; for whatever quantity they
may have taken, it is never known that their
economy is such as to make them last through
the winter, which renders their situation very
distressing; for if they had activity sufficient
to pursue the labours of the chase, the woods
are become so barren of game as to afford
them no great prospect of  relief.    In the
spring of the year, they and the other inhab-
itants make a quantity of sugar from the
maple tree, which they exchange with. the
traders for necessary artides, or carry it to
Michilimakinac, where they expect a better
price.    One of these traders was agent for
the North-West Company, reeeiving, storing,
and f orwarding such artides as come by the
way of the lakes upon their vessels: for it is
to be observed, that a quantity of their goods
are sent by that route from Montreal in boats
to Kingston, at the entrance of Lake Ontario,
and from thence in vessels to Niagara, then
över land ten miles to a water communica-
lxx ■mm
tion, by boats, to Lake Erie, where they are
again received into vessels, and carried över
that lake up the river Detroit, through the
lake and river Sinclair to Lake Huron, and
from thence to the Falls of St. Mary's, when
they are again landed and carried for a mile
above the falls, and shipped över Lake Superior to the Grande Portage. This is found
to be a less expensive method than by canoes, but attended with more risk, and re-
quiring more time, than one short season of
this country will admit; for the goods are
always sent from Montreal the preceding
fall; and besides, the company get their provisions from Detroit, as flour and Indian
corn; as also considerable supplies from
Michilimakinac of maple sugar, tallow, gum,
etc, etc.
Eor the purpose of conveying all these
things, they have two vessels upon the Lakes
Erie and Huron, and one on Lake Superior,
of from fifty to seventy tons bur den. This
being, therefore, the depot for transports, the
Montreal canoes, on their arrival, were for-
warded över Lake Superior, with only five
men in each; the others were sent to Michilimakinac for additional canoes, which were
required to prosecute the trade, and then tak-
ing 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
lxxi mil
and sixty leagues from St. Mary?s, coast-
ways, and situated on a pleasant bay on the
North side of the lake, in latitude 48. North,
and longitude 90. West from Greenwich,
where the compass has not above fiye degrees
East variation.
At the entrance of the bay is an island
which screens the harbour from every wind
except the South. The shallowness of the
water, however, renders it necessary for the
vessel to anchor near a mile from the shore,
where there is not more than fourteen feet
water. This lake justifies the name that has
been given to it; the Falls of St. Mary,
which is its Northern extremity, being in
latitude 46. 31. North, and in longitude 84.
West, where there is no variation of the compass whatever, while its Southern extremity,
at the river St. Louis, is in latitude 46. 45.
North, and longitude 92. 10. West: its great-
est breadth is one hundred and twenty miles,
and its circumference, including its various
bays, is not less than one thousand two hundred miles. Along its North shore is the
safest navigation, as it is a continued moun-
tainous embankment of rock, from three hundred to one thousand five hundred feet in
height. There are numerous coves and san dy
bays to land, which are frequently sheltered
by islands from the swell of the lake.    This
is partdcularly the case at the distance of one
hundred miles to the Eastward of the Grande
Portage, and is called the Pays Plåt.
This seems to have been caused bv some
convulsion of nature, for many of the islands
display a composition of lava, intermixed with
round stones of the size of a pigeon's egg.
The surrounding rock is generally härd, and
of a dark blue-grey, though it frequently has
the appearance of iron and copper. The
South side of the lake, from Point Shagoi-
migo East, is almost a continual straight line
of san dy beach, interspersed with rocky preci-
pices of lime-stones, sometimes rising to a
hundred feet in height, without a bay. The
embankments from that point Westward are,
in general, of strong clay, mixecj with stones,
which renders the navigation irksome and
dangerous. On the same side, at the river
Tonnagan, is found a quantity of virgin copper. The Americans, soon after they got
possession of that country, sent an engineer
thither; and I should not be surprised to
hear of their employing people to work the
mine. Indeed, it might be well worthy the
attention of the British subjects to work the
mines on the North coast, though they are
not supposed to be so rich as those on the
Lake   Superior is  the  largest  and most
magnificent   body   of   fresh   water   in   the
world:   it is clear  and   pellucid, of   great
depth, and abounding in a great variety of
fish, which are the most excellent of their
kind. There are trouts of three kinds,
weighing from five to fifty pounds, sturgeon,
pickerel, pike, red and white carp, black
bass, herrings, etc, etc, and the last, and
best of all, the Ticamang, or white fish,
which weighs from four to sixteen pounds,
and is of a superior quality in these waters.
This lake may be denominated the grand
reservoir of the River St. Laurence, as no
considerable rivers discharge themselves 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 course, in any
direction, cannot admit of it, in consequence
of the ridge of land that separates them from
the rivers that empty themselves into Hudson' s-Bay, the gulf of Mexico, and the waters
that fall in Lake Michigan, which afterward
become a part of the St. Laurence.
This väst collection of water is often cov-
ered with fog, particularly when the wind is
from the East, which, driving against the
high barren rocks on the North and West
shore, dissolves in torrents of rain.    It is
very generally said, that the storms on this
lake are denoted by a swell on the preceding
day; but this circumstance did not appear
from my observation to be a regular phenom-
lxxiv ^'Vpl
enon, as the swells more regularly subsided
without any subsequent wind.
Along the surrounding rocks of this im-
mense lake, evident marks appear of the de-
crease of its water, by the lines observable
along them. The space, however, between
the highest and the lowest, is not so great as
in the smaller lakes, as it does not amount
to more than six feet, the former being very
The inhabitants that are found along the
coast of this water, are all of the Algonquin
nation, the whole of which do not exceed 150
These people live chiefly on fish; indeed,
from what has been said of the country, it
cannot be expected to abound in animals, as
it is totally destitute ef that shelter, which
is so necessary to them. The rocks appear
to have been over-run by fire, and the stinted
timber which once grew there, is frequently'
seen lying along the surf ace of them: but it
is not easy to be reconciled, that anything
* In the year 1668, when the first missionaries visited the South of this lake, they found the country
full of inhabitants. They reläte, that about this
time a band of the Nepisingues, who were con-
verted, emigrated to the Nipigon country, which is
to the North of Lake Superior. Few of their de-
scendants are now remaining, and hot a trace of
the religion communicated to them is to be discov-
should grow where there is so little appearance of soil. Between the fallen trees there
are briars, with hurtleberry and gooseberry
bushes, raspberries, etc, which invite the
bears in greater or lesser numbers, as they
are a favourite food of that aniinal: beyond
these rocky banks are found a few moose and
fallow deer. The waters alone are abun-
dantly inhabited.
A very curious phenomenon was observed
some years ago at the Grande Portage, for
which no obvious cause could be assigned.
The water withdrewwith great precipitation,
leaving the ground dry that had never before
been visible, the fall being equal to four
perpendicular feet, and rushing back with
great velocity above the common mark. It
continued thus falling and rising for several
hours, gradually decreasing till it stopped at
its usual height. There is frequently an ir-
regular influx and deflux, which does not ex-
ceed ten inches, and is attributed to the wind.
The bottom of the bay, which forms an
amphitheatre, is cleared of wood and inclosed;
and on the left corner of it, beneath an hill,
three  or four hundred feet in height, and
crowned by others of a still greater altitude,
is the fort, picketed in with cedar pallisa-
does, and inclosing houses built with wood
and covered with shingles.    They are calcu-
lated for every convenience of trade, as well
lxxvi OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
as to accommodate the proprietors and clerks
during   their   short   residence   there.    The
north men live under tents: but the more
frugal pork-eater lodges beneath his canoe.
The soil immediately bordering on the lake
has not proved very propitious, as nothing
but potatoes have been found to answer the
trouble of cultivation.    This circumstance is
probably owing to the cold damp fogs of the
lake, and the moisture of the ground from
the springs that issue from beneath the hills.
There are meadows in the vicinity that yield
abundance of hay for the cattle; but, as to
agriculture, it has not hitherto been an object
of serious consideration.
I shall now leave these geographical no-
tices, to give some further account of the
people from Montreal.—When they are ar-
rived at the Grande Portage, which is near
nine miles över, each of them has to carry
eight packages of such goods and provisions
as  are necessary  for  the  interiör countr}7-.
This is a labour which cattle cannot conve-
niently perform in summer, as both horses
and oxen were tried by the company without
success.    They  are   only useful   for light,
bulky   artides;   or   for   transporting   upon
sledges, during the winter, whatever goods
may remain there, especially provision,  of
which it is usual to have a year?s stock on
Having finished this toilsome part of their
duty, if more goods are necessary to be
transported, they are allowed a Spanish dollar for each package: and so inured are they
to this kind of labour, that I have known
some of them set off with two packages of
nine ty pounds each, and return with two others of the same weight, in the course of six
hours, being a distance of eighteen miles över
hills and mountains. This necessary part of
the business being över, if the season be early
they have some respite, but this depends upon
the time the North men begin to arrive from
their winter quarters, which they commonly
do early in July. At this period, it is necessary to select from the pork-eaters, a number
of men, among whom are the recruits, or
winterers, sufficient to man the North canoes
necessary to carry, to the river of the rainy
lake, the goods and provision requisite for
the Athabasca country; as the people of that
country (owing to the shortness of the season and length of the road, can come no further), are equipped there, and exchange lad-
ings with the people of whom we are
speaking, and both return from whence they
came. This voyage is performed in the
course of a month, and they are allowed pro-
portionable wages for their services.
The North men being arrived at the Grande
Portage, are regaled with bread, pork, butter,
lxxviii OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
liquor, and tobacco, and such as have not en-
tered into agreements during the winter, which
is customary, are contracted with, to return
and perform the voyage for one, two, or three
years; their accounts are also settled, and
such as choose to send any of their earnings
to Canada, receive drafts to transmit to their
relations or friends; and as soon as they can
be got ready, which requires no more than a
fortnight, they are again despatched to their
respective departments. It is, indeed, very
creditable to them as servants, that though
they are sometimes assembled to the number
of twelve hundred men, indulging themselves
in the free use of liquor, and quarrelling with
each other, they always show the greatest
respect to their employers, who are compara-
tively but few in number, and beyond the aid
of any legal power to enforee due obedience.
In short, a degree of subordination can only
be maintained by the good opinion these
men entertain of their employers, which has
been uniformly the case, since the trade has
been formed and conducted on a regular system.
The people being despatched to their respective winter-quarters, the agents from
Montreal, assisted by their clerks, prepare to
return there, by getting the furs across the
portage, and re-making them into packages
of one hundred pounds weight each, to send
.   lxxix A GENERAL  1IIST0RY
them to Montreal; where they commonly arrive in the month of September.
The mode of living at the Grande Portage
is as follows: The proprietors, clerks, guides,
and interpreters, mess together, to the number of sometimes an hundred, at several tables,
in one large hall, the provision consisting of
bread, salt pork, beef, hams, fish, and venison, butter, peas, Indian corn, potatoes, tea,
spirits, wine, etc, and plenty of milk, for
which purpose several milch cows are con-
stantly kept. The mechanics have rations of
such provision, but the canoe-men, both from
the North and Montreal, have no other al-
lowance here, or in the voyage, than Indian
corn and melted fat. The corn for this purpose is prepared before it leaves Detroit, by
boiling it in a strong alkali, which takes off
the outer husk: it is then well washed, and
carefully dried upon stages, when it is fit for
use. One quart of this is boiled for two
hours, över a moderate fire, in a gallon of
water; to which, when it has boiled a small
time, are added two ounces of melted suet;
this causes the corn to split, and in the time
mentioned makes a pretty thick pudding. If
te this is added a little salt, (but not before
it is boiled, as it would interrupt the operation) it makes a wholesome, palatable food,
and easy of digestion.   This quantity is fully
suflicient   for  a man's   subsistence   during
twenty-four hours; though it is not sufli-
ciently heartening to sustain the strength
necessary for a state of active labour. The
Americans call this dish hominy.*
The trade from the Grande Portage is, in
some particulars, carried on in a different
manner with that from Montreal. The canoes used in the latter transport are now too
large for the former, and some of about half
the size are procured from the natives, and
are navigated by four, five, or six men, ac-
cording to the distance which they have to
go. They carry a lading of about thirty-five
packagés, on an average; of these twenty-
three are for the purpose of trade, and the
rest are employed for provisions, stores, and
baggage. In each of these canoes are a foreman and steersman; the one to be always on
the look-out, and direct the passage of the
vessel, and the other to attend the helm.
They also carry her, whenever that office is
necessary. The foreman has the command,
and the middle-men obey both; the latter
earn only two-thirds of the wages which are
paid the two former. Independent of these,
a conductor  or pilot is appointed to every
* Corn is the cheapest provision that can be procured, though from the expense of transport, the
bushel costs about twenty shillings sterling, at the
Grande Portage. A man's daily allowance does not
exceed ten-pence.
four or six of these canoes, whom they are
all obliged to obey; and is, or at least is
intended to be, a person of superior ex-
perience, for which he is proportionably
In these canoes, thus loaded, they embark
at the North side of the portage, on the river
Au Tourt, which is very inconsiderable; and
after about two miles of a Westerly course,
is obstructed by the Partridge Portage, six
hundred paces long. In the spring this
makes a considerable fall, when the water is
high, över a perpendicular rock of one hundred and twenty feet. From thence the
river continues to be shallow, and requires
great care to prevent the bottom of the canoe
from being injured by sharp rocks) for a distance of three miles and an half to the Priarie,
or Meadow, when half the lading is taken
out, and carried by part of the crew, while
two of them are conducting the canoe among
the rocks, with the remainder, to the Carre-
boeuf Portage, three miles and a half more,
when they unload, and comé back two miles,
and embark what was left for the other
hands to carry, which they also land with
the former; all of which is carried six hundred and eighty paces, and the canoe led up
against the rapid. From hence the water is
better calculated to carry canoes, and leads
by a winding course to the North of West
lxxxii OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
three miles to the Outard Portage, över which
the canoe, and every thing in her, is carried
for two thousand four hundred paces. At
the further end is a very high hill to de-
scend, över which hängs a rock upwards of
seven hundred feet high. Then succeeds the
Outard Lake, about six miles long, lying in a
North-West course, and about two miles wide
in the broadest place.
After passing a very small rivulet, they
come to the Elk Portage, över which the canoe and lading are again carried one thousand
one hundred and twenty paces; when they
enter the lake of the same name, which is an
handsome piecé of water, running North-West
about four miles, and not more than one mile
and an half wide.# They then land at the
Portage de Cerise, över which, and in the
face of a considerable hill, the canoe and
cargo are again transported for one thousand
and fifty paces. This is only separated from
the second Portage de Cerise, by a mud-pond
(where there is plenty of water lilies), of a
quarter of a mile in length; and this is again
separated by a similar pond, from the last
Portage de Cerise, which is four hundred and
ten paces. Here the same operation is to be
performed for three hundred and eighty
paces.    They next enter on the  Mountain
*Here is a most excellent fishery for white fish,
which are exquisite.
Lake, running North-West by West six
miles long, and about two miles in its great-
est breadth. In the centre of this lake, and
to the right is the Old Boad, by which I
never passed, but an adequate notion may be
formed of it from the road I am going to de-
scribe, and which is universally preferred.
This is first, the small new portage över
which everything is carried for six hundred
and twenty-six paces, över hills and gullies;
the whole is then embarked on a narrow line
of water, that meanders South-West about
two miles and an half. It is necessary to
unload here, for the length of the canoe, and
then proceed West half a mile, to the new
Grande Portage, which is three thousand one
hundred paces in length, and över very rough
ground, which requires the utmost exertions
of the men, and frequently lames them : from
hence they approach the Rose Lake, the portage of that naiiie being opposite to the junc-
tion of the road from the Mountain Lake.
They then embark on the Rose Lake, about
one mile from the East end of it, and steer
West by South, in an oblique course, across
it two miles, then North-West passing the
Petite Peche to the Mårten Portage three
miles. In this part of the lake the bottom
is niud and slime, with about three or four
feet of water över it; and here I frequently
struck a canoe pole of twelve feet long, with-
lxxxiv OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
out meeting any other obstruction than if the
whole were water: it has, however, a peculiar
suction or attractive power, so that it is dim -
cult to paddle a canoe o ver it. There is a
small space along the South shore, where the
water is deep, and this effect is not felt. In
proportion to the distance from this part, the
suction becomes more powerful: I have, indeed, been told that loaded canoes have been
in danger of being swallowed up, and have
only owed their preservation to other canoes,
which were lighter. I have, myself, found
it very difficult to get away from this attrac-
tive power, with six men, and great exertion,
though we did not appear to be in any danger
of sinking.
Över against this is a very high, rocky
ridge, on the South side, called Mårten Portage, which is but twenty paces long, and separated from the Perche Portage, which is
four hundred and eighty paces, by a mud-
pond, covered with white lilies. From hence
the course is on the lake of the same name,
West-South-West three miles to the height
of land, where the waters of the Döve or
Pigeon River terminate, and which is one of
the sources of the great St. Laurence in this
direction. Having carried the canoe and lading över it, six hundred and seventy-nine
paces, they embark on the lake of Hauteur
de Terre, which is in the shape of an horse-
shoe.# It is entered near the curve, and left
at the extremity of the Western limb, through
a very shallow channel, where the canoe
passes half loaded for thirty paces with the
current, which conducts these waters till they
discharge themselves, through the succeed-
ing lakes and rivers, and disembogues itself,
by the river Nelson, into Hudson's-Bay.
The first of these is Lac de pierres a fusil,
running West-South-West seven miles long,
and two wide, and making an angle at
North-West one mile more, becomes a river
for half a mile, tumbling över a rock, and
forming a fall and portage, called the Esca-
lier, of fifty-five paces; but from hence it is
neither lake or river, but possesses the char-
acter of both, and runs between large rocks,
which cause a current or rapid for about two
miles and an half, West-North-West, to the
portage of the Cheval du Bois. Here the
canoe and contents are carried three hundred
and eighty paces, between rocks; and within
a quarter of a mile is the Portage des Gros
Pins, which is six hundred and förty paces
över a high ridge.    The opposite side of it
* The route which we have been travelling hitherto
leads along the high rocky land or bank of Lake
Superior on the left. The face of the country offers
a wild scene of huge bilis and rocks, separated by
stony valleys, lakes and ponds. Wherever there is
the least soil, it is well covered with trees.
lxxxvi sa
is washed by a small lake three mile round;
and the course is through the East end or
side of it, three quarters of a mile NortK-
East, where there is a rapid.    An irregular
meandering channel, between rocky banks,
then succeeds, for seven miles and an half,
to the Maraboeuf Lake, which extends North
four miles, and is three-quarters of a mile
wide, terminating by a rapid and decharge
of one hundred and eighty paces, the rock of
Saginaga being in sight, which causes a fall
of about seven feet, and a portage of fifty-five
Lake Saginaga takes its name from its nu-
merous   islands.    Its greatest length  from
East to West is about fourteen miles, with
very irregular inlets, is nowhere more than
three miles wide, and terminates at the small
portage of Le Roche, of forty-three paces.
From thence is a rocky, stony passage of one
mile, to Priarie Portage, which is very im-
properly named, as there is no ground about
it that answers to that description, except a
small spöt at the embarking   place at the
West end: to the East is an entire bog; and
it is with great difficulty that the lading can
be landed upon  stages,  formed by driving
piles into the mud, and spreading branches
of trees över them.    The portage rises on a
stony ridge, över which the canoe and cargo
must be carried for six hundred and eleven
lxxxvii 1
paces.    This is succeeded by an embarkation
on a small bay, where the bottom is the same
as has been described in the West end of
Rose Lake, and it is with great difliculty that
a laden canoe is worked över it, but it does
not comprehend more than a distance of two
hundred  yards.    From hence  the  progress
continues through irregular channels, bounded
by rocks, in a Westerly course for about five
miles, to the little Portage des Couteaux, of
one hundred and sixty-five paces, and the
Lac des Couteaux, running about South-West
by West twelve miles, and from a quarter to
two miles wide.   A deep bay runs East three
miles from the West end, where it is dis-
charged by a rapid river, and after running
two miles West, it again becomes still water.
In this river are two carrying-places, the one
fifteen, and the other one hundred and ninety
paces.    From this to the Portage des Carpes
is one mile North-West, leaving a narrow lake
on the East that runs parallel with the Lac
des Couteaux, half its length, where there is
a carrying-place,   which  is used when the
water in the river last mentioned is too low.
The Portage des Carpes is three hundred and
ninety paces, from whence the water spreads
irregularly between rocks, five miles North-
West and South-East to the Portage of Lac
Bois Blanc, which is one hundred and eighty
paces.    Then follows the lake of that name,
lxxxviii OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
but I think improperly so called, as the natives name it the Lac Passeau Minac Sagai-
gan, or lake of Dry Berries.
Before the small-pox ravaged this country,
and completed, what the Nodowasis, in their
warfare, had gone far to accomplish, the de-
struction of its inhabitants, the population
was very numerous: this was also a favourite
part, where they made their canoes, etc, the
lake abounding in fish, the country round it
being plentifully supplied with various kinds
of game, and the rocky ridges, that form the
boundaries of the water, covered with a vari-
ety of berries.
When the French were in possession of
this country, they had several trading estab-
lishments on the islands and banks of this
lake. Since that period, the few people rena aining, who were of the Algonquin nation,
could hardly find subsistence; game having
become so scarce, that they depended princi-
pally for food upon fish and wild rice, which
grows spontaneously in these parts.
This lake is irregular in its form, and its
utmost extent from East to West is fifteen
miles; a point of land, called Point au Pin,
jutting into it, divides it in two parts: it
then makes a second angle at the West end,
to the lesser Portage de Bois Blanc, two hundred paces in length.    This channel is not
wide, and is intercepted by several rapids in
the course of a mile: it runs West-North-
West to the Portage des Pins, över which the
canoe and lading is again carried four hundred paces. From hence the channel is also
intercepted by very dangerous rapids, for two
miles Westerly, to the point of Pointe du
Bois, which is two hundred and eighty paces.
Then succeeds the portage of La Croche, one
mile more, where the carrying-place is eighty
paces, and is followed by an embarkation on
that lake, which takes its name from its fig-
ure. It extends eighteen miles, in a nean-
dering form, and in a westerly direction; it
is in general very narrow, and at about two-
thirds of its length becomes very contracted,
with a strong current.
Within three miles of the last Portage is
a remarkable rock, with a smooth face, but
split and cracked in different parts, which
häng över the water. Into one of its hori-
zontal chasms a great number of arrows have
been shot, which is said to have been done
by a war party of the Nadowasis or Sieux,
who had done much mischief in this country,
and left these weapons as a warning to the
Chebois or natives, that, notwithstanding its
lakes, rivers, and rocks, it was not inacces-
sible to their enemies.
Lake Croche is terminated by the Portage
de Rideau, four hundred paces long, and de-
rives its name from the appearance of the
water, falling över a rock of upwards of
thirty feet. Several rapids succeed, with in-
tervals of still water, for about three miles to
the Flacon portage, which is very difncult, is
four hundred paces long, and leads to the
Lake of La Croix, so named from its shape.
It runs about North-West eighteen miles to
the Beaver Dam, and then sinks into a deep
bay nearly East. The course to the Portage
is West by North for sixteen miles more from
the Beaver Dam, and into the East bay is a
road which was frequented by the French,
and followed through lakes and rivers until
they came to Lake Superior by the river
Caministiquia, thirty miles East of the
Grande Portage.
Portage la Croix is six hundred paces long:
to the next portage is a quarter of a mile, and
its length is förty paces; the river winding
four miles to Vermillion Lake, which runs
six or seven miles North-North-West, and by
a narrow strait communicates with Lake
Namaycan, which takes its name from a par-
ticular place at the foot of a fall, where the
natives spear sturgeon: Its course is about
North-North-West and South-South-East,
with a bay running East, that gives it the
form of a triangle: its length is about sixteen
miles to the Nouvelie Portage.
The discharge of the lake is from a bay on
the left, and the portage one hundred eighty
paces, to which succeeds a very small river,
from whence there is but a short distance to
the next Nouvelle Portage, three hundred and
twenty paces long.    It is then necessary to
embark on a swamp, or overflowed country,
where wild rice grows in great abundance.
There is a channel or small river in the cen-
tre of this swamp, which is kept with diffi-
culty, and runs  South and North one mile
and   a   half.    With   deepening   water, the
course continues North-North-West one mile
to the Chaudiere Portage, which is caused by
the discharge of the waters running on the
left of the road from Lake Namaycan, which
used to be the common route, but that which
I have described is the safest as well as short-
est.   From hence there is some current though
the water is wide spread, and its course about
North by West three miles and an half to
the Lac de la Pluie, which lies nearly East
and West; from thence about fifteen miles is
a narrow strait that divides the lake into two
unequal parts, from whence to its discharge
is a distance of twenty-four miles.    There is
a deep bay running North-West on the right,
that is not included, and is remarkable for
furnishing the natives with a kind of soft,
red stone, of which they make their pipes; it
also affords an excellent fishery both in the
summer and winter; and from it is an easy,
safe, and  short road to the Lac  du Bois,
xcii OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
(which I shall mention  presently) for the
Indians to pass in their small canoes, through
a  small  lake  and on a small river, whose
banks furnish abundance of wild rice.    The
discharge of this lake is called Lac de la
Pluie River,  at whose entrance there is a
rapid below, which is a fine bay, where there
had been  an  extensive   picketed  fort  and
building when possessed by the French: the
site of it is at present a beautiful meadow,
surrounded with groves of oaks.   From hence
there is a strong current for two miles, where
the water falls över a rock twenty feet, and,
from the consequent turbulence of the water,
the carrying-place, which is three hundred
and twenty paces long, derives the name of
Chaudiere.    Two miles onward is the present
trading establishment, situated on an high
bank on the North side of the river, in 48.
37. North latitude.
Here the people from Montreal come to
meet those who arrive from the Athabasca
country, as has been already described, and
exchange lading with them.    This is also the
residence of the first chief, or Sachem, of all
the Algonquin tribes, inhabiting the different
parts of this country.    He is by distinction
called Nectam, which implies personal pre-
eminence.    Here  also  the  elders   meet   in
council to treat of peace or war.
This is  one  of the  finest rivers  in the
North-West, and runs a course West and
East one hundred and twenty computed
miles; but in taking its course and distance
minutely I make it only eighty. Its banks
are covered with a rich soil, particularly to the
North, which, in many parts, are clothed
with fine open groves of oak, with the maplej
the pine, and the cedar. The Southern bank
is not so elevated, and displays the maple,
the white birch, and the cedar, with the
spruce, the ålder, and various underwood.
Its waters abound in fish, particularly the
sturgeon, which the natives both spear and
take with drag-nets. But notwithstanding
the promise of this soil, the Indians do not
attend to its cultivation, though they are not
ignorant of the common process, and are fond
of the Indian corn, when they can get it from
Though the soil at the fort is a stiff clay,
there is a garden, which, unassisted as it is
by manure, or any particular attention, is
tolerably productive.
We now proceed to mention the Lac du
Bois, into which this river discharges itself
in latitude 49. North, and was formerly fa-
mous for the richness of its banks and waters,
which abounded with whatever was necessary
to a savage life.     The French had several
settlements in and about it; but it might be
almost concluded, that some fatal circum-
xciv OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
stance had destroyed the game, as war and
the small-pox had diminished the inhabitants, it having been very unproductive in
animals since the British subjects have been
engaged in travelling through it; though it
now appears to be recovering its pristine
state. The few Indians who inhabit it might
Ii ve very comf ortably, if they were not so
immoderately fond of spirituous liquors.
This lake is also rendered remarkable, in
consequence of the Americans having named
it as the spöt, from which a line of boundary,
between them and British America, was to
run West, until it struck the Mississippi:
which, however, can never happen, as the
North-West part of the Lac du Bois is in
latitude 49. 37. North, and longitude 94.31.
West, and the Northernmost branch of the
source of the Mississippi is in latitude 47. 38.
North, and longitude 95. 6. West, ascertained
by Mr. Thomson, astronomer to the North-
West Company, who was sent expressly for
that purpose in the spring of 1798. He, in
the same year, de termined the Northern bend
of the Mississoury to be in latitude 47. 32,
North, and longitude 101. 25. West; and,
according to the Indian accounts, it runs to
the south of West, so that if the Mississoury
were even to be considered as the Mississippi,
no Western line could strike it.
It does not appear to me to be clearly de-
termined what course the Line is to take, or
from what part of Lake Superior it strikes
through the country to the Lac du Bois: were
it to follow the principal waters to their
source, it ought to keep through Lake Superior to the River St. Louis, and follow that
river to its source; close to which is the
source of the waters falling into the river of
Lac la Pluie, which is a common route of the
Indians to the Lac du Bois; the St. Louis
passes within a short distance of a branch of
the Mississippi, where it becomes navigable
for canoes. This will appear more evident
from consulting the map: and if the navigation of the Mississippi is considered as of any
consequence by this country, from that part
of the globe, such is the nearest way to get
at it.
But to retum to our narrative. The Lac
du Bois is, as far as I could learn, nearly
round, and the canoe course through the cen-
tre of it among a duster of islands, some of
which are so extensive that they may be
taken for the mainland. The reduced course
would be nearly South and North. But following the navigating course, I make the distance seventy-five miles, though in a direct
line it would fall very short of that length.
At about two-thirds of it there is a small
carrying-place, when the water is low.    The
carrying-place out of the Lake is on the isl-
xcvi OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
and, and named Portage du Rat, in latitude
49. 37. North, and longitude 94. 15. West;
it is about fifty paces long. The lake dis-
charges itself at both ends of this island, and
forms the River Winipic, which is a large
body of water, interspersed with numerous
islands, causing various channels and inter-
ruptions of portages and rapids. In some
parts it has the appearance of lakes, with
steady currents; I estimate its winding course
to the Dalles eight miles; to the Grand
Decharge twenty-five miles and an half,
which is a long carrying-place for the goods;
from thence to the little Decharge one mile
and an half; to the Terre Jaune Portage two
miles and an half; then to its galet seventy
yards; two miles and three quarters to the
Terre Blanche, near which is a fall of from
four to five feet; three miles and an half to
Portage de L'Isle, where there is a trading-
post, and, about eleven miles, on the north
shore, a trading establishment, which is the
road in boats, to Albany Biver, and from
thence to Hudson's-Bay. There is also a
communication with Lake Superior, through
what is called the Nipigan country, which
enters that Lake about thirty-five leagues East
of the Grande Portage. In short, the country is so broken by lakes and rivers, that
people may find their way in canoes in any
direction they please.    It is now four miles
7 xcvii ttH«
■ '
to Portage de L'Isle, which is but short,
though several canoes have been löst in at-
tempting to run the rapid. From thence it
is twenty-six miles to Jacob's Falls, which
are about fifteen feet high; and six miles and
an half to the woody point; förty yards from
which is another Portage. They both form
an high fall, but not perpendicular. From
thence to another galet, or rock Portage, is
about two miles, which is one continual rapid
and cascade; and about two miles further is
the Ghute a PEsclave, which is upward of
thirty feet. The Portage is long, through a
point covered with wood: it is six miles and
an half more to the barrier, and ten miles to
the Grand Rapid. From thence, on the North
side, is a safe road, when the waters are
high, through small rivers and lakeSj to the
Lake du Bonnet, called the Pinnawas, from
the man who discovered it: to the White
River, so called from its being, for a consid-
erable length, a succession of falls and cata-
racts, is twelve miles. Here are seven portages, in so short a space, that the whole of
them are discernible at the same moment.
From this to Lake du Bonnet is fifteen miles
more, and four miles across it to the rapid.
Here the Pinnawas Road joins, and from
thence it is two miles to the Galet du Lac du
Bonnet; from this to the Galet du Bonnet
one mile and an half; thence to the Portage
xcviii OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
of the same name is three miles. This portage is near half a league in length, and de-
rives its name from the custom the Indians
have of crowning stones, laid in a circle on
the highest rock in the portage, with wreaths
of herbage and branches. There have been
examples of men taking seven packages of
ninety pounds each. at one end of the portage, and putting them .down at the other
without stopping.
To this another small portage immediately
succeeds, över a rock producing a fall. From
thence to the fall of Terre Blanche is two
miles and an half; to the first portage Des
Eaux qui Remuent is three miles; to the
next, of the same name, is but a few yards
distant; to the third and last, which is a
Decharge, is three miles and an half; and
from this to the last Portage of the river, one
mile and an half; and to the establishment,
or provision house, is two miles and an half.
Here also the French had their principal inland depot, and got their canoes made.
It is here that the present traders, going to
great distances, and where provision is diffi-
cult to procure, receive a supply to carry
them to the Rainy Lake, or Lake Superior.
From the establishment to the entrance of
Lake Winipic, is four miles and an half, latitude 50. 37. North. g
The country,  soil, produce, and climate,
from Lake Superior to this place, bear a general resemblance, with a predominance of
rock and water: the former is of the granite
kind. Where there is any soil it is well cov-
ered with wood, such as oak, elm, ash of dif-
ferent kinds, maple of two kinds, pines of
various descriptions, among which are what
I call the cypress, with the hickory, iron-
wood, laird, poplar, cedar, black and white
birch, etc, etc. Väst quantities of wild rice
are seen throughout the country, which the
natives collect in the month of August for
their winter stores.* To the North of fifty
degrees it is hardly known, or at least does
not come to maturity.
Lake Winipic is the great reservoir of several large rivers, and discharges itself by the
River Nelson into Hudson's Bay. The first
in rotation, next to that I have just de-
scribed, is the Assiniboin, or Red River,
which at the distance of förty miles coast-
wise, disembogues on the south west side of
the Lake Winipic. It alternately receives
those two denominations from its dividing,
at the distance of about thirty miles from the
lake, into two large branches. The Eastern
branch, called the Bed River, runs in a
Southern direction to near the head waters of
* The fruits are, strawberries, hurtleberries, plums,
and cherries, hazelnuts, gooseberries, currants, rasp-
berries, poires, etc. OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
the Mississippi. On this are two trading
establishments. The country on either side
is but partially supplied with wood, and con-
sists of plains covered with her ds of the buf-
falo and elk, especially on the Western side.
On the Eastern side are lakes and rivers, and
the whole country is well wooded, level,
abounding in beaver, bears, moose-deer, fal-
low deer, etc, etc. 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 Mississippi, is also inhabited by the Nadowasis,
who are the natur al enemies of the former;
the head of the water being the war-line, they
are in a continual state of hostility; 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 soon be ex-
tirpated. There is not, perhaps, a finer country in the world for the residence of uncivil-
ised man, than that which occupies the space
between this river and Lake Superior. It
abounds in every thing necessary to the wants
and comforts of such a people. Fish, venison, and fowl, with wild rice, are in great
plenty; while, at the same time, their subsist-
ence requires that bodily exercise so necessary to health and vigour.
This great extent of country was f ormerly
véry populous, but from the information I
received, the aggregate of its inhabitants does
not exceed three hundred warriors; and,
among the few whom I saw, it appeared to
me that the widows were more numerous than
the men. The raccoon is a native of this
country, but is seldom found to the North-
ward of it.
The other branch is called after the tribe
of the Nadowasis, who here go by the name
of Assiniboins, and are the principal inhabitants of it. It runs from the North-North-
West, and in the latitude of 51. 15. West,
and longitude 103. 20., rising in the same
mountains as the river Dauphin, of which I
shall speak in due order. They must have
separated from their nation at a time beyond
our knowledge, and live in peace with the
Algonquins and Knisteneaux.
The country between this and the Red
River, is almost a continual plain to the Mississoury. The soil is sand and gr avel, with
a slight intermixture of earth, and produces
a short grass. Trees are very rare; nor are
there on the banks of the river sufficient,
except in particular spöts, to build houses
and supply fire-wood for the trading establish-
ments, of which there are four principal ones.
Both these rivers are navigable for canoes to
their source, without a fall; though in some
parts there are rapids, caused by occasional
beds of limestone, and gravel; but in general
they have a sandy bottom.
The Assiniboins, and some of the Fall, or
Big-bellied Indians, are the principal inhabitants of this country, and börder on the river,
occupying the centre part of it; that next
Lake Winipic, and about its source, being the
station of the Algonquins and Knisteneaux,
who have chosen it in preference to their own
country. They do not exceed five hundred
families. They are not beaver hunters, which
accounts for their allowing the division just
mentioned, as the lower and upper parts of
this river have those animals, which are not
found in the intermediate district. They
confine themselves to hunting the buffalo,
and trapping wolves, which cover the country. What they do not want of the former
for raiment and food, they sometimes make
into pemmican, or pounded meat, while they
melt the fat, and prepare the skins in their
hair, for winter. The wolves they never eat,
but produce a tallow from their fat, and prepare their skins; all which they bring to ex-
change for arms and ammunition, rum, tobacco, knives, and various baubles, with those
who go to traffic in their country.
The Algonquins, and the Knisteneaux, on
the contrary, attend to the fur-hunting, so
that they acquire the additional artides of
ciii T
cloth, blänkets, etc, but their passion for
rum often puts it out of their power to sup-
ply themselves with real necessaries.
The next river of magnitude is the river
Dauphin, which empties itself at the head of
St. Martin's Bay, on the West side of the
Lake Winipic, latitude nearly 52. 15. North,
taking its source in the same mountains as
the last-mentioned river, as well as the
Swan and Red-Deer rivers, the latter passing
through the lake of the same name, as well
as the former, and both continuing their
course through the Manitoba Lake, which,
from thence, runs parallel with Lake Winipic, to within nine miles of the Red River,
and by what is called the river Dauphin, dis-
embogues its waters, as already described,
into that lake. These rivers are very rapid,
and interrupted by falls, etc, the bed being
generally rocky. All this country, to the
South branch of the Saskatchiwine, abounds
in beaver, moose-deer, fallow-deer, elks,
bears, buffaloes, etc. The soil is good, and
wherever any attempts have been made to
raise the esculent plants, etc, it has been
found productive.
On these waters are three principal forts
for trade.    Fort Dauphin, which was estab-
lished by the French before the conquest.
Red-Deer River, and Swan-River Forts, with
.occasional detached posts from these.    The
inhabitants are the Knisteneaux, from the
North of Lake Winipic; and Algonquins
from the country between the Red River and
Lake Superior; and some from the Rainy
Lake: but as they are not fixed inhabitants,
their number cannot be determined: they do
not, however, at any time exceed two hundred warriors. In general they are good
hunters. There is no other considerable
river except the Saskatchiwine, which I shall
mention presently, that empties itself into
the Lake Winipic.
Those on the North side are inconsider-
able, owing to the comparative vicinity of the
high land that separates the waters coming
this way, from those discharging into Hudson^ Bay. The course of the lake is about
West-North-West and South-South-East, and
the East end of it is in 50. 37. North. It
contracts at about a quarter of its length to
a strait, in latitude 51. 45., and is no more
than two miles broad, where the South shore
is gained through islands, and crossing vari-
ous bays to the discharge of the Saskatchiwine, in latitude 53. 15. This lake, in com-
mon with those of this country, is bounded
on the North with banks of black and grey
rock, and on the South by a low level country, occasionally interrupted with a ridge or
bank of lime-stones, lying in stratas, and rising to  the   perpendicular   height of   from
i t
twenty to förty feet; these are covered with
a small quantity of earth, forming a level
surface, which bears timber, but of a moderate growth, and declines to a swamp.
Where the banks are low, it is evident in
many places that the waters are withdrawn,
and never rise to those heights which were
formerly washed by them.
The inhabitants who are found along this
lake are of the Knisteneaux and Algonquin
tribes, and but few in number, though game
is not scarce, and there is fish in great abundance. The black bass is found there, and
no further West; and beyond it no maple
trees are seen, either härd or soft.
On  entering   the   Saskatchiwine,  in  the
course of a few miles, the great rapid inter-
rupts the passage.    It is about three miles
long.    Through the greatest part of it the
canoe is towed, half or full laden, according
to the state of the waters: the canoe and its
contents are then carried one thousand one
hundred paces.    The channel here is near a
mile wide, the waters tumbling över ridges of
rocks  that traverse  the river.    The South
bank is very high, rising upwards of fifty
feet, of the same rock as seen on the South
side of the Lake Winipic, and the North is
not more than a third of that height.    There
is an excellent sturgeon-fishery at the foot of
this cascade, and väst numbers of pelicans,
cvi ÖF TÖÉ FUR TRAl)E, <fec.
cormorants, etc, frequent it, where they
watch to seize the fish that may be killed or
disabled by the force of the waters.
About two miles from this Portage the
navigation is again interrupted by the Portage of the Roche Rouge, which is an hundred
yards long; and a mile and an half from
thence the river is barred by a range of isl-
ands, forming rapids between them; and
through these it is the same distance to the
rapid of Lake Travers, which is four miles
right across, and eight miles in length. Then
succeeds the Grande Decharge, and several
rapids, for four miles to the Cedar Lake,
which is entered through a small channel on
the left, formed by an island, as going round
it would occasion loss of time. In this distance banks of rocks (such as have already
been described) appear at intervals on either
side; the rest of the country is low. This is
the case along the South bank of the lake and
the islands, while the North side, which is
very uncommon, is level throughout. This
lake runs first West four miles, then as much
more West-South-West, across a deep bay on
the right, then six miles to the Point de
Lievre, and across another bay again on the
right; then North-West eight miles, across
a still deeper bay on the right; and seven
miles parallel with the North coast, North'
North-West through islands, five miles more
to Fort Bourbon, *.situated on a small island,
dividing this from Mud Lake.
The Cedar Lake is from four to twelve
miles wide, exclusive of the bays. Its banks
are covered with wood, and abound in game,
and its waters produce plenty of fish, particularly the sturgeon. The Mud Lake, and
the neighbourhood of the Fort Bourbon,
abound with geese, ducks, swans, etc, and
was formerly remarkable for a väst number
of martens, of which it cannot now boast but
a very small proportion.
The Mud Lake must have formerly been a
part of the Cedar Lake, but the immense
quantity of earth and sand, brought down by
the Saskatchiwine, has filled up this part of
it for a circumference whose diameter is at
least fifteen or twenty miles: part of which
space is still covered with a few feet of water,
but the greatest proportion is shaded with
large trees, such as the liard, the swamp-ash,
and the willow. This land consists of many
islands, which consequently form various
channels, several of which are occasionally
dry, and bearing young wood. It is, indeed,
more than probable that this river will, in
the course of time, convert the whole of the
Cedar Lake into a forest. To the North-
West the cedar is not to be found.
*This was also a principal post of the French,
who ga ve it its name.
cviii 1RB
From this lake the Säskatchiwine may be
considered as navigable to near its source in
the rocky mountains, for canoes, and without
a carrying-place, making a great bend to
Cumberland House, on Sturgeon Lake. From
the confluence of its North and South
branches its Course is Westerly; spreading
itself, it receives several tributary streams,
and encompasses a large tract of country,
which is level, particularly along the South
branch, but is little known. Beaver, and
other animals, whose furs are valuable, are
amongst the inhabitants of the North-West
branch, and the plains are covered with buf-
faloes, wolves, and small foxes; particularly
about the South branch, which, however, has
of late claimed some attention, as it is now
understood, that where the plains terminate
towards the rocky mountain, there is a space
of hilly country clothed with wood, and in-
habited also by animals of the fur kind. This
has been actually determined to be the case
towards the head of the North branch, where
the trade has been carried to about the latitude 54. North, and longitude 114. 30. West.
The bed and banks of the latter, in some few
places, discover a stratum of free-stone; but,
in general, they are composed of earth and
sand. The plains are sand and gravel, covered with fine grass, and mixed with a small
quantity of vegetable earth.    This is partic-
cix &ll
ularly observable along the North  branch,
the West side of which is covered with wood.
There are on this river five principal
factories for the convenience of trade with
the natives. Nepawi House, South-branch
House, Fort-George House, Fort-Augustus
House, and Upper Establishment. There
have been many others, which, from various
causes, have been changed for these, while
there are occasionally others depending on
each of them.
The inhabitants, from the information I
could obtain, are as follow:
At Nepawi and South-Branch House, about
thirty tents of Knisteneaux, or ninety war-
riors; and sixty tents of Stone Indians, or
Assiniboins, who are their neighbours, and
are equal to two hundred men : their hunting
ground extends upwards to about the Eagle
Hills. Next to them are those who trade at
Forts George and Augustus, and are about
eighty tents or upwards of Knisteneaux: on
either side of the river, their number may be
two hundred. In the same country are one
hundred and förty tents of Stone Indians:
not quite half of them inhabit the West
woody country; the others never leave the
plains, and their numbers cannot be less than
four hundred and fifty men. At the Southern He ad-waters of the North-branch dwells
a tribe  called Sarsees, consisting of about
thirty-five tents, or one hundred and twenty
men. Opposite to those Eastward, on the
head-waters of the South Branch, are the
Picaneaux, to the number of from twelve to
fifteen hundred men. Next to them, on the
same water, are the Blood-Indians, of the
same nation as the last, to the number of
about fifty tents, or two hundred and fifty
men. From them downwards extend the
Black-Feet Indians, of the same nation as
the two last tribes: their number may be
eight hundred men. Next to them, and who
extend to the confluence of the South and
North branch, are the Fall, or Big-bellied
Indians, who may amount to about six hundred warriors.
Of all these different tribes, those who in-
habit the broken country on the North-West
side, and the source of the North branch, are
beaver-hunters; the others deal in provisions,
wolf, buffalo, and fox skins; and many
people on the South branch do not trouble
themselves to come near the trading es-
tablishments. Those who do, choose such
establishments as are next to their country.
The Stone-Indians here, are the same people
as the Stone-Indians, or Assiniboins, who
inhabit the river of that name already de-
scribed, and both are detached tribes from
the Nadowasis, who inhabit the Western side
of the Mississippi, and lower part of the Mis-
sisoury. The Fall, or Big-bellied Indians,
are from the South-Eastward also, and of a
people who inhabit the plains from the North
bend of the last mentioned river, latitude 47.
32. North, longitude 101. 25. West, to the
South bend of the Assiniboin Biver, to the
number of seven hundred men. Some of
them occasionally come to the latter river to
exchange dressed buffalo robes and bad wolf-
skins for artides of no great value.
The Picaneaux, Black-Feet, and Blood-
Indians, are a distinct people, speak a language of their own, and, I have reason to
think, are travelling North-West, as well as
the others just mentioned: nor have I heard
of any Indians with whose language that
which they speak has any affinity.—They are
the people who deal in horses, and take them
upon the war-parties towards Mexico; from
which, it is evident, that the country to the
South-East of them consists of plains, as
those animals could not well be conducted
through an hilly and woody country, inter-
sected by waters.
The Sarsees, who are but few in number,
appear from their language, to come on the
contrary from the North-West, and are of
the same people as the Rocky-Mountain Indians described in my second journal, who
are a tribe of the Chepewyans; and, as for
the Knisteneaux, there is no question of their
cxii OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
having been, and continuing to be, invaders
of this country, from the Eastward. Formerly, they struck terror into all the other
tribes whom they met; but now they have
löst the respect that was paid them; as those
whom they formerly considered as barbarians
are now their allies, and consequently become
better acquainted with them, and have ac-
quired the use of fire-arms. The former are
still proud without power, and affect to con-
sider the others as their inferiors: those consequently are extremely jealous of them, and,
depending upon their own superiority in num-
bers, will not submit tamely to their insults;,
so that the consequences often prove fatal,
and the Knisteneaux are thereby decreasing
both in power and number; spirituous liquors
also tend to their diminutiön, as they are in-
stigated thereby to engage in quarrels which
frequently have the most disastrous termina-
tion among themselves.
The Stone-Indians must not be considered
in the same point of view respecting the
Knisteneaux, for they have been generally
obliged, from various causes, to court their
alliance. They, however, are not without
their disagreements, and it is sometimes very
difncult to compose their differences. These
quarrels occasionally take place with the
traders, and sometimes have a tragicalcon-
clusion. They generally originate in conse-
8 cxiii I
quence of stealing women and horses: they
have great numbers of the latter throughout
their plains, which are brought, as has been
observed, from the Spanish settlements in
Mexico; and many of them have been seen
even in the back parts of this country, branded
with the initials of their original owners'
names. Those horses are distinctly employed
as beasts of burden, and to chase the buffalo.
The former are not considered as being of
much value, as they may be purchased for a
gun, which costs no more than twenty-one
shillings in Great Britain. Many of the hunt-
ers cannot be purchased with ten, the com-
parative value of which exceeds the property
of any native.
Of these useful animals no care whatever
is taken, as when they are no longer employed, they are turned loose winter and
summer to provide for themselves. Here, it
is to be observed, that the country, in general, on the West and North side of this
great river, is broken by the lakes and rivers
with small intervening plains, where the soil
is good, and the grass grows to some length.
To these the male buffaloes re sort for the
winter, and i f it be very severe, the females
also are obliged to leave the plains.
But to return to the route by which the
progress West and North is made through
this continent.
cxiv OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
We leave the Saskatchiwine* by entering
the river which forms the discharge of the-
Sturgeon Lake, on whose East bank is situ-
ated Cumberland house, in latitude 53. 56.
North, longitude 102. 15. The distance between the entrance and Cumberland house is
estimated at twenty miles. It is very evident that the mud which is carried down by
the Saskatchiwine River, has formed the land
that lies between it and the lake, for the distance öf upwards of twenty miles in the line
of the river, which is inundated during one
half of the summer, though covered with
wood. This lake forms an irregular horse-
shoe, one side of which runs to the North-
West, and bears the name of Pine-Island
Lake, and the other, known by the name al-
ready mentioned, runs to the East of North,
and is the largest: its length is about twenty-
seven miles, and its greatest breadth about
six miles. The North side of the latter is
the same kind of rock as that described in
Lake Winipic, on the West shore. In latitude 54. 16. North, the Sturgeon-Weir River
discharges itself into this lake, and its bed
*It may be proper toobservc, that the French had
two settlements upon the Saskatchiwine, long before, and at the conquest of Canada; the first at the
Pasquia, near Carrot River, and the other at Nipawi,
where they had agricultural instruments and wheel
carriages, marks of both being found about those
establishments, where the soil is excellent.
cxv m
appears to be of the same kind of rock, and
is almost a continual rapid. Its direct course
is about West by North, and with its wind-
ings, is about thirty miles. It takes its waters into the Beaver Lake the South-West
side of which consists of the same rock lying
in thin stratas: the route then proceeds from
island to island for about twelve miles, and
along the North shore, for four miles more,
the whole being a North-West course to the
entrance of a river, in latitude 54. 32. North.
The lake, for this distance, is about four or
five miles wide, and abounds with fish com-
mon to the country. The part of it upon the
right of that which has been described, appears more considerable. The islands are
rocky, and the lake itself surrounded by
rocks. The communication from hence to
the Bouleau Lake, alternately narrows into
rivers and spreads into small lakes. The
interruptions are, the Pente Portage, which
is succeeded by the Grand Rapid, where
there is a Decharge, the Carp Portage, the
Bouleau Portage in latitude 54. 50. North,
including a distance, together with the wind-
ings, of thirty-four miles, in a Westerly di-
rection. The Lake de Bouleau then follows.
This lake might with greater propriety be
denominated a canal, as it is not more than
a mile in breadth.   Its course is rather to the
East of North for twelve miles to Portage de
L'Isle. From thence there is still water to
Portage d'Epinettes, except an adjoining
rapid. The distance is not more than four
miles Westerly. After crossing this Portage, it is not more than two miles to Lake
Miron, which is in latitude 55. 7. North.
Its length is about twelve miles, and its
breadth irregular, from two to ten miles. It
is only separated from Lake duChitique, or
Pelican Lake, by a short, narrow, and small
strait. That lake is not more than seven
miles long, and its course about North-West.
The Lake des Bois then succeeds, the passage
to which is through small lakes, separated
by falls and rapids. The first is a Decharge:
then follow the three galets, in immediate
succession. From hence Lake des Bois runs
about twenty-one miles. Its course is South-
South-East, and North-North-West, and is
full of islands. The passage continues
through an intricate, narrow, winding, and
shallow channel for eight miles. The inter-
ruptions in this distance are frequent, but
depend much on the state of the waters.
Having passed them, it is necessary to cross
the Portage de Traite, or, as it is called
by the Indians, Athiquisipichigan Ouinigam,
or the Portage of the Stretched Frog Skin, to
the Missinipi. The waters already described
discharge themselves into Lake Winipic, and
augment those of the river Nelson.    These
which we are now entering are called the
Missinipi, or great Churchill River.
All the country to the South and East of
this, within the line of the progress that has
been described, is interspersed by lakes, hills,
and rivers, and is full or animals, of the furkind, as well as the moose-deer. Its inhabitants are the Knisteneaux Indians, who are
called by the servants of the Hudson's Bay
Company, at York, their home-guards.
The traders from Canada succeeded for
several years in getting the largest proportion
of their furs, till the year 1793, when the
servants of that company thought proper to
send people amongst them, (and why they
did not do it before is best known to themselves), for the purpose of trade, and secur-
ing their credits, which the Indians were apt
to forget. From the short distance they had
to come, and the quantity of goods they sup-
plied, the trade has, in a great measure, re-
verted to them, as the merchants from Canada could not meet them upon equal terms.
What added to the loss of the latter,*was the
mur der of one of their traders by the Indians,
about this period. Of these people not above
eighty men have been known to the traders
from Canada, but they consist of a much
greater number.
The Portage de Traite, as has been already
hinted, received its name from Mr. Joseph
cxviii OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
Frobisher, 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 spring, on their way to
Churchill, according to annual custom, with
their canoes full of valuable furs. They
traded with him for as many of them as his
canoes could carry, and in consequence of
this transaction, the Portage received and
has since retained its present appellation.
He also denominated these waters the English River. The Missinipi is the name
which it received from the Knisteneaux,
when they first came to this country, and
either destroyed or drove back the natives,
whom they held in great contempt, on many
accounts, but particularly for their ignorance
in hunting the beaver, as well as in prepar-
ing, stretching, and drying the skins of those
animals. And as a sign of their derision,
they stretched the skin of a f rog, and hung it
up at the Portage.    This was, at that time, t
the utmost extent of their conquest or war-
faring progress West, and is in latitude 55.
25. North, and longitude 103. 45. West.
The river here, which bears the appearance
of a lake, takes its name from the Portage,
and is full of islands. It runs from East to
West about sixteen miles, and is from four
to five miles broad.    Then succeed falls and
cascades which form what is called the grand
cxix ,U)IJ
rapid. From thence there is a succession of
small lakes and rivers, interrupted by rapids
and falls, viz., the Portage de Bareel, the
Portage de L'Isle, and that of the Bapid
Biver. The course is twenty miles from
East-South-East to North-North-West. The
Rapid-River Lake then runs West five miles,
and is of an oval form. The rapid river is
the discharge of Lake la Ronge, where there
has been an establishment for trade from the
year 1782. Since. the small-pox ravaged
these parts, there have been but few inhabitants ; these are of the Knisteneaux tribe, and
do not exceed thirty men. The direct navigation continues to be through rivers and ca-
nals, interrupted by rapids; and the distance
to the first Decharge is four miles, in a Westerly direction. Then follows Lake de la
Montagne, which runs South-South-West
three miles and an half, then North six miles,
through narrow channels, formed by islands,
and continues North-North-West five miles,
to the portage of the same name, which is no
sooner crossed, than another appears in sight,
leading to the Otter Lake, from whence it
is nine miles Westerly to the Otter Portage,
in latitude 55. 39. Between this and the
Portage du Diable, are several rapids,
and the distance three miles and an half.
Then succeeds the lake of the same name,
running   from   South-East to   North-West,
five  miles,   and West four   miles  and an
half. ^
There is then a succession of small lakes,
rapids, and falls, producing the Portage des
Ecors, Portage du Galet, and Portage des
Mörts, the whole comprehending a distance
of six miles, to the lake of the latter name.
On the left side is a point covered with human bones, the relics of the small-pox; which
circumstance gave the Portage and the lake
this melancholy denomination. Its course is
South-West fifteen miles, while its breadth
does not exceed three miles. From thence a
rapid river leads to Portage de Hallier, which
is followed by Lake de L'Isle d'Ours: it is,
however, improperly called a lake, as it con-
tains frequent impediments amongst its islands, from rapids. There is a very dangerous one about the centre of it, which is
named the Rapid qui ne parle point, or that
never speaks, from its silent whirlpool-motion. In some of the whirlpools the suction
is so powerful, that they are carefully
avoided. At some distance from the silent
rapid is a narrow strait, where the Indians
have painted red figures on the face of a
rock, and where it was their custom formerly
to make an offering of some of the artides
which they had with them, in their way to
and from Churchill.    The course of this lake,
which is very meandering, may be estimated
at thirty-eight miles, and is termin ated by
the Portage du Canot Tourner, from the danger to which those are subject who venture
to run this rapid. From thence a river of
one mile and an half North-West course
leads to the Portage de Bouleau, and in about
half a mile to Portage des Epingles, so called
from the sharpness of its stones. Then fol-
lows the Lake des Souris, the direction across
which is amongst islands, North-West by
West six miles. In this traverse is an island, which is remarkable for a very large
stone, in the form of a bear, on which the
natives have painted the head and snout of
that animal; and here they also were formerly accustomed to offer sacrifices, This
lake is separated only by a narrow strait
from the Lake du Serpent, which ruhs North-
North-West seven miles, to a narrow chan-
nel, that connects it with another lake, bear-
ing the same name, and running the same
course for eleven miles, when the rapid of
the same denomination is entered on the
West side of the lake. It is to be remarked
here, that for about three or four miles on
the North-West side of this lake, there is an
high bank of clay and sand, clothed with
cypress trees, a circumstance which is not
observable on any lakes hitherto mentioned,
as they  are bounded,   particularly  on   the
North, by black and grey rocks.   It may also
cxxii OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
be considered * as a most extraordinary cir-
cumstance, that the Chepewyans go North-
West from hence to the barren grounds,
which are their own country, without the
assistance of canoes; as it is well known
that in every other part which has been de-
scribed, from Cumberland House, the country is broken on either side of the direction
to a great extent: so that a traveller could
not go at right angles with any of the waters
already mentioned, without meeting with
others in every eight or ten miles. This will
also be found to be very much the case in
proceeding to Portage la Loche.
The last mentioned rapid is upwards of
three miles long, North-West by West;
there is, however, no carrying, as the line
and poles are sufficient to drag and set the
canoes against the current. Lake Croche is
then crossed in a Westerly direction of six
miles, though its whole length may be twice
that distance: after which it contracts to a
river that runs Westerly for ten miles, when
it forms a bend, which is left to the South,
and entering a portion of its waters called
the Grass River, whose meandering course is
about six miles, but in a direct line not more
than half that length, where it receives its
waters from the great river, which then runs
Westerly eleven miles before it forms the
Knee Lake, whose direction is to the North
of West. It is full of islands for eighteen
miles, and its greatest apparent breadth is
not more than five miles. The portage of
the same name is several hundred yards long,
and över large stones. Its latitude is 55. 50.
and longitude 106. 30. Two miles further
North is the commencement of the Croche
Rapid, which is a succession of cascades for
about three miles, making a bend due South
to the Lake du Primeau, whose course is
various, and through islands, to the distance
of about fifteen miles. The banks of this
lake are low, stony, and marshy, whose grass
and rushes afford shelter and food to great
numbers of wild fowl. At its Western extremity is Portage la Puise, from whence the
river takes a meandering course, widening
and contracting at intervals, and is much interrupted by rapids. After a Westerly course
of twenty miles, it reaches Portage Pellet.
From hence, in the course of seven miles, are
three rapids, to which succeeds the Shagoina
Lake, which may be eighteen miles in cir-
cumference. Then Shagoina strait and rapid
lead into the Lake of Isle a la Crosse, in
which the course is South twenty miles, and
South-South-West fourteen miles, to the
Point au Sable; opposite to which is the discharge of the Beaver-Biver, bearing South
six miles: the lake in the distance run, does
not   exceed   twelve   miles   in   its   greatest
cxxiv w
breadth. It now turns West-South-West,
the Isle a la Crosse being on the South, and
the main land on the North; and it clears
the one and the other in the distance of
three miles, the water presenting an open
horizon to right and left; that on the left
formed by a deep narrow bay, about ten
leagues in depth; and that to the right by
what is called la Riviere Creuse, or Deep
River, being a canal of still water, which is
here four miles wide. On following the last
course, Isle a la Crosse Fort appears on a
low isthmus, at the distance of five miles,
and is in latitude 55. 25. North, and longitude 107. 48. West.
This lake and fort take their names from
the island just mentioned, which, as has
been already observed, received its denomi-
nation from the game of the cross, which
forms a principal amusement among the natives.
The situation of this lake, the abundance
of the finest fish in the world to be found in
its waters, the richness of its surrounding
banks and forests, in moose and fallow deer,
with the väst numbers of the smaller tribes
of animals, whose skins are precious, and the
numerous flocks of wild fowl that frequent
it in the spring and fall, make it a most de-
sirable  spöt  for  the  constant  residence of
some, and the occasional rendezvous of oth-
cxxv ■asgSC
ers of the inhabitants of the country, particularly of the Knisteneaux.
Who the original people were that were
driven from it, when conquered by the Knisteneaux, is not now known, as not a single
vestige remains of them. The latter, and
the Chepewyans, are the only people that
have been known here; and it is evident that
the last-men ti oned consider themselves as
strangers, and seldom remain longer than
three or four years, without visiting their
relations and friends in the barren grounds,
which they term their native country. They
were for some time treated by the Knisteneaux as enemies; who now allow them to
hunt to the North of the track which has
been described, from Fort du Traite upwards, but when they occasionally meet
them, they insist on contributions, and fre-
quently punish resistance with their arms.
This is sometimes done at the forts, or places
of trade, but then it appears to be a volun-
tary gift. A treat of rum is expected on the
occasion, which the Chepewyans on no other
account ever purchase; and those only who
have had frequent intercourse with the Knisteneaux have any inclination to drink it.
When the Europeans first penetrated into
this country, in 1777, the  people  of both
tribes were numerous, but the small-pox was
fatal to them all, so that there does not exist
cxxvi OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
of the one, at present, more than förty resident families; and the other has been from
about thirty to two hundred families. These
numbers are applicable to the constant and
less ambitious inhabitants, who are satisfied
with the quiet possession of a country affbrd-
ing, without risk or much trouble, every
thing necessary to their comfort; for since
traders have spread themselves över it, it is
no more the rendezvous of the errant Knisteneaux, part of whom used annually to return
thither from the country of the Beaver
River, which they had explored to its source
in their war and hunting excursions, and as
far as the Saskatchiwine, where they sometimes met people of their own nation, who
had prosecuted similar conquests up that
river. In that country they found abundance
of fish and animals, such as have been al-
ready described, with the addition of the
buffaloes, who range in the partial patches
of meadow scattered along the rivers and
lakes. From thence they returned in the
spring to their friends whom they had left;
and, at the same time met with others who
had penetrated with the same designs into
the Athabasca country, which will be described hereafter.
The spring was the period of this joyful
meeting, when  their  time was  occupied in
feasting, dancing, and other pastimes, which
were occasionally suspended for sacrifice, and
religious solemnity: while the narratives of
their travels, and the history of their wars,
amused and animated the festival. The time
of rejoicing was but short, and was soon interrupted by the necessary preparations for
their annual journey to Churchill, to exchange
their furs for such European artides as were
now bécome necessary to them. The short-
ness of the seasons, and the great length of
their way requiring the utmost despatch, the
most active men of the tribe, with their
youngest women, and a few of their children
undertook the voyage, under the direction of
some of their chiefs, following the waters al-
ready described, to their discharge at Churchill Factory, which are called, as has already
been observed, the Missinipi, or Great Waters. There they remained no longer than
was sufficient to barter their commodities,
with a supernumerary day or two to gratify
themselves with the indulgence of spirituous
liquors. At the same time the inconsider-
able quantity they could purchase to carry
away with them, for a regale with their
friends, was held sacred, and reserved to
heighten the enjoyment of their return home,
when the amusements, festivity, and religious solemnities of the spring were repeated.
The usual time appropriated to these conviv-
ialities being completed, they separated, to
cxxviii 23SÖ
pursue their different objects; and if they
were determined to go to war, they made the
necessary arrangements for their future operations.
But we must now renew the progress of
the route. It is not more than two miles
from Isle a la Crosse Fort, to a point of land
which forms a cheek of that part of the lake
called the Riviere Creuse, which preserves
the breadth already mentioned for upwards
of twenty miles; then contracts to about
two, for the distance of ten miles more, when
it opens to Lake Clear, which is very wide,
and commands an open horizon, keeping the
West shore for six miles. The whole of the
distance mentioned is about North-West,
when, by a narrow, crooked channel, turning
to the South of West, the entry is made into
Lake du Boeuf, which is contracted near the
middle, by a projecting sandy point; inde-
pendent of which it may be described as from
six to twelve miles in breadth, thirty-six
miles long, and in a North-West direction.
At the North-West end, in latitude 56. 8. it
receives the waters of the river la Loche,
which, in the fall of the year, is very shal-
low, and navigated with difnculty even by
half-laden canoes. Its water is not sufficient
to form strong rapids, though from its rocky
bottom the canoes are frequently in consider-
able  danger.    Including  its  meanders, the
9 cxxix *
course of this river may be computed at
twenty-four miles, and receives its first waters from the lake of the same name, which
is about twenty miles long, and six wide;
into which a small river flows, sumcient to
bear loaded canoes, for about a mile and an
half, where the navigation ceases; and the
canoes, with their lading, are carried över
the Portage la Loche for thirteen miles.
This portage is the ridge that divides the
waters which discharge themselves into Hudson^ Bay, from those that flow into the
Northern ocean, and is in the latitude 56. 20.
and longitude 109. 15. West. It runs South -
West until it löses its local height between
the Saskatchiwine and Elk Rivers; close on
the bank of the former, in latitude 53. 36.
North, and longitude 113. 45. West, it may
be traced in an Easterly direction toward
latitude 58. 12. North, and longitude 103^.
West, when it appears to take its course due
North, and may probably reach the Frozen
From Lake le Souris, the banks of the rivers and lakes display a smaller portion of
solid rock. The land is low and stony, in-
termixed with a light, sandy soil, 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 small garden at the Isle
cxxx OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
a la Crosse, which well repaid the labour be-
stowed upon it.
The Portage la Loche is of a level surface,
in some parts abounding with stones, but in
general it is an entire sand, and covered with
the cypress, the pine, the spruce fir, and other
trees natural to its soil. Within three miles
of the North-West termination, there is a
small round lake, whose diameter does not
exceed a mile, and which affords a trifLing
respite to the labour of carrying. Within a
mile of the termination of the Portage is a
very steep precipice, whose ascent and descent appears to be equally impracticable in
any way, as it consists of a succession of
eight hills, some of which are almost perpen-
dicular; nevertheless, the Canadians contrive
to surmount all these difnculties, even with
their canoes and lading.
This precipice, which rises upwards of a
thousand feet above the plain beneath it,
commands a most extensive, romantic, and
ravishing prospect. From thence the eye
looks down on the course of the little river,
by some called the Swan river, and by others, the Clear-Water and Pelican river, beau-
tifully meandering for upwards of thirty
miles. The valley, which is at once refreshed
and adorned by it, is about three miles in
breadth, and is confined by two lofty ridges
of equal height, displaying a most beautiful
intermixture of wood and lawn, and stretch-
ing on till the blue mist obscures the pros-
pect. Some parts of the inclining heights
are covered with stately forests, relieved by
promontories of the finest verdure, where the
elk and buffalo find pasture. These are con-
trasted by spöts where fire has destroyed the
woods, and left a dreary void behind it.
Nor, when I beheld this wonderful display of
uncultivated nature, was the moving scenery
of human occupation wanting to complete the
picture. From this elevated situation, I beheld my people, diminished, as it were, to
half their size, employed in pitching their
tents in a charming nieadow, and among the
canoes, which, being turned upon their sides,
presented their redclened bottoms in contrast
with the surrounding verdure. At the same
time, the process of gumming them produced
numerous small spires of smoke, which, as
they rose, enlivened the scene, and at length
blended with the larger columns that ascended
from the fires where the suppers were pre-
paring. It was in the month of September
when I enjoyed a scene, of which I do not
presume to give an adequate description; and
as it was the rutting season of the elk, the
whistling of that animal was heard in all the
variety which the echoes could afford it.
This river, which waters and reflects such
enchanting scenery, runs, including its wind-
cxxxii OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
ings, upwards of eighty miles, when it dis-
charges itself in the Elk River, according to
the denomination of the natives, but com-
monly called by the white people, the Athabasca River, in latitude 56. 4,2. North.
At a small distance from Portage la Loche,
several carrying-places interrupt the navigation of the river; about the middle of which
are some mineral springs, whose margins are
covered with sulphureous incrustations. At
the junction or fork, the Elk River is about
three quarters of a mile in breadth, and runs
in a steady current, sometimes contracting,
but never increasing its channel, till, after
receiving several small streams, it discharges
itself into the Lake of the Hills, in latitude
58. 36. North. At about twenty-four miles
from the Fork, are some bituminous foun-
tains, into which a pole of twenty feet long
may be inserted without the least resistance.
The bitumen is in a fluid state, and when
mixed with gum, or the resinous substance
collected from the spruce fir, serves to gum
the canoes. In its heated state it emits a
smell like that of sea-coal. The banks of the
river, which are there very elevated, discover
veins of the same bituminous quality. At a
small distance from the Fork, houses have
been erected for the convenience of trading
with a party of the Knisteneaux, who visit the
adjacent country for the purpose of hunting.
At the distance of about förty miles from the
lake, is the Old Establishment, which has
been already mentioned, as formed by Mr.
Pond in the year 1778-9, and which was the
only. one in this part of the world, till the
year 1785. In the year 1788 it was trans-
ferred to the Lake of the Hills, and formed
on a point on its Southern side, at about
eight miles from the discharge of the river.
It was named Fort Chepewyan, and is in latitude 58. 38. North, longitude 110. 26. West,
and much better situated for trade and fish-
ing as the people here have recourse to water
for their support.
This being the place which I made my
headquarters for eight years, and from whence
I took my departure, on both my expeditions,
I shall give some account of it, with the mariner of carrying on the trade there, and other
circumstances connected with it.
The laden canoes which leave Lake la Pluie
about the first of August, do not arrive here
till the latter end of September, or the begin-
ning of October, when a necessary proportion of them is despatched up the Peace River
to trade with the Beaver and Rocky-Moun-
tain Indians. Others are sent to the Slave
River and Lake, or beyond them, and trafiic
with the inhabitants of that country. A
small part of them, if not left at the Fork of
the Elk River, return thither for the Kniste-
cxxxiv OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
neaux, while the rest of the people and mer-
chandise remain here, to carry on trade with
the Chepewyans.
Here have I arrived with ninety or an hundred men without any provision for their sus-
tenance; for whatever quantity might have
been obtained from the natives during the
summer, it could not be more than sufficient
for the people despatched to their different
posts; and even if there were a casual super-
fluity, it was absolutely necessary to preserve
it untouched, for the demands of the spring.
The whole dependence, therefore, of those
who remained, was on the lake, and fishing
implements for the means of our support.
The nets are sixty f athom in length, when
set, and contain fifteen meshes of five inches
in depth. The manner of using them is as
follows: A small stone and wooden buoy are
fastened to the side-line opposite to each
other, at about the distance of two fathoms;
when the net is carefully thrown into the
water, the stone sinks it to the bottom, while
the buoy keeps it at its full extent, and it is
secured in its situation by a stone at either
end. The nets are visited every day, and
taken out every other day to be cleaned and
dried. This is a very ready operation when
the waters are not frozen, but when the frost
has set in, and the ice has acquired its greatest thickness, which is sometimes as much as
five feet, holes are cut in it at the distance
of thirty feet from each other, to the full
length of the net; one of them is larger than
the rest, being generally about four feet
square, and is called the basin: by means of
them, and poles of a proportionable length,
the nets are placed in and drawn out of the
water. The setting of hooks and lines is so
simple an employment as to render a description unnecessary. The white fish are the
principal object of pursuit: they spawn in
the fall of the year, and, at about the setting
in of the härd frost, crowd in shoals to the
shallow water, when as many as possible are
taken, in order that a portion of them may
be laid by in the frost to provide against the
scarcity of winter; as, during that season,
the fish of every description decrease in the
lakes, if they do not altogether disappear.
Some have supposed that during this period
they are stationary, or assume an inactive
state. If there should be any intervals of
warm weather during the fall, it is necessary
to suspend the fish by the tail, though they
are not so good as those which are altogether
preserved by the frost. In this state they
remain to the beginning of April, when they
have been found as sweet as when they were
* This fishery requires the most unremitting ätten-
tion, as the voyaging Canadians are equally indo
cxxxvi ^p*jp
Thus do these voyagers Ii ve, year after
year, entirely upon fish, without even the
quickening flavour of salt, or the variety of
any farinaceous root or vegetable. Salt,
however, if their habits had not rendered it
unnecessary, might be obtained in this country to the Westward of the Peace River,
where it löses its name in that of the Slave
River, from the numerous salt-ponds and
springs to be found there, which will supply
in any quantity, in a state of concretion, and
perfectly white and clean. When the Indians pass that way they bring a small quantity
to thé fort, with other artides of trafnc
During a short period of the spring and fall,
great numbers of wild fowl frequent this
country, which pro ve a very gratifying food
after such a long privation of ilesh-meat. It
is remarkable, however, that the Canadians
who frequent the Peace, Saskatchiwine, and
Assiniboin rivers, and live altogether on venison, have a less healthy appearance than
those whose sustenance is obtained from the
waters. At the same time the scurvy is
wholly unknown among them.
In the fall of the year the natives meet the
traders at the forts, where they barter the
furs or provisions which they may have pro-
lent, extravagant, and improvident, when left to
themselves, and rival the savages in a neglect of the
cured: they then obtain credit, and proceed
to hunt the beavers, and do not return till the
beginning of the year; when they are again
fitted out in the same manner and 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 them with fire-arms,
which the Chepewyans are averse to employ.
The major part of the latter return to the
barren grounds, and live during the summer
with their relations and friends in the en-
joyment of that plenty which is derived from
numerous herds of deer. But those of that
tribe who are most partial to these deserts,
cannot remain there in winter, and they are
obliged, with the deer, to take shelter in the
woods during that rigorous season, when they
contrive to kill a few beavers, and send them
by young men, to exchange for iron utensils
and ammunition.
Till the year 1782, the people of Athabasca
sent or carried their furs regularly to Fort
Churchill, Hudson's Bay; and some of them
have, since that time, repaired thither, not-
withstanding they could have provided themselves with all the necessaries which they re-
quired. The difference of the price set on
goods here and at the factory, made it an ob-
ject with the Chepewyans to undertake  a
journey of five or six months, in the course
cxxxviii OF THE FUR TRADE, <fec.
of which they were reduced to the most
painful extremities, and often löst their lives
from hunger and fatigue. At present, however, this traffic is in a great measure discon-
tinued, as they were obliged to expend in the
course of their journey, that very ammunition which was its most alluring object.
cxxxix ii
These people are spread över a väst extent
of country. Their language is the same as
that of the people who inhabit the coast of
British America on the Atlantic, with the ex-
ception of the Esquimaux,* and continues
along the coast of Labrador, and the gulf and
banks of St. Laurence to Montreal. The
line then follows the Utawas river to its
source; and continues from thence nearly
West along the highlands which divides the
waters that fall into Lake Superior and Hudson^ Bay. It then proceeds till it strikes
the middle part of the river Winipic, following that water to the Lake Winipic, to the
discharge of the Saskatchiwine into it; from
thence it accompanies the latter to Fort
George, when the line, striking by the head
of the Beaver river to the Elk river, runs
along its banks to its discharge in the Lake
of the Hills; from which it may be carried
* The similarity between their language and that
of the Algonquins is an unequivocal proof that they
are the same people. Specimens of their respective
tongues will be hereafter given.
back East, to the Isle a la Crosse, and so on
to Churchill by the Missinipi. The whole of
the tract between this line and Hudson' s Bay
and Straits (except that of the Esquimaux in
the latter), may be said to be exclusively the
country of the Knisteneaux. Some of them
indeed, have penetrated further West and
South to the Bed Biver, to the South of Lake
Winipic, and the South branch of the Saskatchiwine
They are of a moderate stature, well pro-
portioned, and of great activity. Examples
of deformity are seldom to be seen among
them. Their complexion is of a copper col-
our, and their hair black, which is common to
all the natives of North America. It is cut
in various forms, according to the fancy of
the several tribes, and by some is left in the
long, länk, flow of nature. They very generally extract their beards, and both sexes
manifest a disposition to pluck the hair from
every part of their body and limbs. Their
eyes are black, keen, and penetrating; their
countenance open and agreeable, and it is a
principal object of their vanity to give every
possible decoration to their persons. A material artide in their toilets is vermilion,
which they contrast with their native blue,
white, and brown earths, to which charcoal
is frequently added.
Their dress is at once simple and commo-
xjxli i ii T
dious. It consists of tight leggins, reaching
near the hip: a strip of cloth or leather, called
assian, about a foot wide, and five feet long,
whose ends are drawn inwards and häng be-
hind and before, över a belt tied round the
waist for that purpose: a close vest or shirt
reaching down to the former garment, and
cinctured with a broad strip of parchment
fastened with thongs behind; and a cap for
the head, consisting of a piece of fur, or
small skin, with the brush of the animal as a
suspended ornament: a kind of robe is thrown
occasionally över the whole of the dress, and
serves both night and day. These artides,
with the addition of shoes and mittens, con-
stitute the variety of their apparel. The
materials vary according to the season, and
consist of dressed moose-skin, beaver pre-
pared with the fur, or European woollens.
The leather is neatly painted, and fancifully
worked in some parts with porcupine quills,
and moose-deer hair: the shirts and leggins
are also adomed with fringe and tassels; nor
are the shoes and mittens without somewhat
of appropriate decoration, and worked with a
considerable degree of skill and taste. These
habiliments are put on, however, as fancy or
convenience suggests; and they will sometimes proceed to the chase in the severest
frost, covered   only with  the   slightest of
Their head-dresses are composed of the
feathers of the swan, the eagle, and other
birds. The teeth, horns, and claws of differ-
ent animals, are also the occasional ornaments
of the head and neck. Their hair, however
arranged, is always besmeared with grease.
The making of every artide of dress is a fe-
male occupation; and the women, though by
no means inattentive to the decoration of
their own persons, appear to have a still
greater degree of pride in attending to the
appearance of the men, whose faces are
painted with more care than those of the
The female dress is formed of the same
materials as those of the other sex, but of a
different make and ärran gement.   Their shoes
are commonly plain, and their leggins gar-
tered beneath the knee.    The coat, or body
covering, falls down to the middle of the leg,
and is f astened över the shoulders with cords,
a flap  or  cape  turning  down  about  eight
inches, both before and behind, and agreeably
ornamented with quill-work andfringe; the
bottom is also fringed, and fancifully painted
as high as the knee.    As it is very loose, it
is enclosed round the waist with a stiff belt,
decorated with tassels, and fastened behind.
The arms are covered to the wrist, with de-
tached sleeves, which are sewed as far as the
bend of the arm; from thence they are drawn
cxliii *■
up to the neck, and the corners of them fall
down behind, as low as the waist. The cap,
when they wear one, consists of a certain
quantity of leather or cloth, sewed at one
end, by which means it is kept on the head,
and, hangin g down the back, is fastened to
the belt, as well äs under the chin. The
upper garment is a robe like that worn by the
men. Their hair is divided on the crown,
and tied behind, or sometimes fastened in
large knöts över the ears. They are fond of
European artides, and prefer them to their
own native commodities. Their ornaments
consist in common with all savages, in brace-
lets, rings, and similar baubles. Some of the
women tattoo three perpendicular lines, which
are sometimes double: one from the centre of
the chin to that of the under lip, and one
parallel on either side to the corner of the
Of all the nations which I have seen on this
continent, the Knisteneaux women are the
most comely. Their figure is generally well
proportioned, and the regularity of their f eat-
ures would be aeknowledged by the more civilised people of Europé. Their complexion
has less of that dark tinge which is common to those savages who have less cleanly
These people are, in general, subject to few
disorders.    The lues venera, however, is a
cxliv ^*Jjp
common complaint, but cured by the applica-
tion of simples, with whose virtues they appear to be well acquainted. They are also
subject to fluxes, and pains in the breast,
which some have attributed to the very keen
and cold air which they inhale; but I should
imagine that these complaints must fre-
quently proceed from their immoderate in-
dulgence in fat meat at their feasts, particularly when they have been preceded by long
They are naturally mild and affable, as well
as just in their dealings, not only among themselves, but with strangers.* They are also
generous and hospitable, and good-natured
in the extreme, except when their nature is
perverted by the inflammatory influence of
spirituous liquors. To their children they
are indulgent to a fault. The father, though
he assumes no command över them, is ever
anxious to instruct them in all the preparatory
qualifications for war and hunting; while the
mother is equally attentive to her daughters
in teaching them every thing that is considered as necessary to their character and situation. It does not appear that the husband
makes any distinction between the children
*They have been called thieves, but when that
vice can with justice be attributed to them, it may
be traced to their connexion with the civilised people who come into their country to traffic.
I   !
of his wife, though they may be the offspring
of difierent fathers. Illegitimacy is only at-
tached to those who are bom before their
mothers have cohabited with any man by the
title of husband.
It does not appear, that chastity is considered by them as a virtue; or that fidelity is
believed to be essential to the happiness of
wedded life. Though it sometimes happens
that the infidelity of a wife is punished by
the husband with the loss of her hair, nose,
and perhaps life; such severity proceeds from
its having been practised without his permission : for a temporary interchange of wives is
not uncommon: and the offer of their persons
is considered as a necessary part of the hos-
pitality due to strångers.
When a man löses his wife, it is considered
as a duty to marry her sister, if she has one;
or he may, if he pleases, have them both at
the same time.
It will appear from the fatal consequences
I have repeatedly imputed to the use of spir-
ituous liquors that I more particularly con-
sider these people as having been, morally
speaking, great sufferers from their communi-
cation with the subjects of civilised nations.
At the same time they were not, in a state of
nature, without their vices, and some of them
of a kind which is the most abhorrent to cul-
tivated and reflecting man.    I shall only ob-
cxlvi Tfc^p
serve, that incest and bestiality are among
When a young man marries, he immediately
goes to live with the father and mother of his
wife, who treat him, nevertheless, as a per-
fect stranger, till after the birth of his first
child: he then attachés himself more to them
than his own parents; and his wife no longer
gives him any other denomination than that
of the father of her child.
The profession of the men is war and hunt-
ing, and the more active scene of their duty
is the field of battle, and the chase in the
woods. They also spear fish, but the management of the nets is left to the women.
The females of this nation are in the same
subordinate state with those of all other savage tribes, but the severity of their labour is
much diminished by their situation on the
banks of lakes and rivers, where they employ
canoes. In the winter, when the waters are
frozen, they make their journeys, which are
never of any great length, with sledges drawn
by dögs. They are, at the same time, sub-
ject to every kind of domestic drudgery; they
dress the leather, make the clothes and shoes,
weave the nets, collect wood, erect the tents,
fetch water, and perform every culinary service ; so that when the duties of maternal care
are added, it will appear, that the life of
these women is an uninterrupted succession
of toil and pain. This, indeed, is the sense
they entertain of their own situation; and
under the influence of that sentiment, they
are sometimes known to destroy their fe-
male children, to save them from the miseries
which they themselves have suffered. They
also have a ready way, by the use of certain
simples, of procuring abortions, which they
sometimes practise, from their hatred of the
father, or to save themselves the trouble
which children occasion: and, as I have been
credibly inf ormed, this unnatural act is re-
peated without any injury to the health of
the women who perpetrate it.
• The funeral rites begin, like all other sol-
emn ceremonials, with smoking, and are con-
cluded by a feast. The body is dressed in
the best habiliments possessed by the de-
ceased, or his relations, and is then deposited
in a grave lined with branches; some domestic
utensils are place on it, and a kind of canopy
erected över it. During this ceremony, great
lamentations are made, and if the departed
person is very much regretted, the near relations cut off their hair, pierce the fleshy
part of their thighs and arms with arrows,
knives, etc , and blacken their faces with
charcoal If they have distinguished themselves in war, they are sometimes laid on a
kind of  scaffolding;   and I have been in-
formed, that women,   as in the East, have
cxlviii vf
been known to sacrifice themselves to the
månes of their husbands. The whole of the
property belonging to the departed person is
destroyed, and the relations take in exchange
for the wearing apparel, any rågs that will
cover their nakedness. The feast bestowed
on the occasion, which is, or at least used to
be, repeated annually, is accompanied with*
eulogiums on the deceased, and without any
acts of ferocity. On the tomb are carved or
painted the symbols of his tribe, which are
taken from the different animals of the country.
Many and various are the motives which in-
duce a savage to engage in war. To pro ve
his courage, or to revenge the death of his
relations, or some of his tribe, by the mas-
sacre of an enemy. If the tribe feel themselves called upon to go to war, the elders
convene the people, in order to know the general opinion. If it be for war, the chief pub-
lishes his intention to smoke in the sacred
stem at a certain period, to which solemnity,
meditation and fasting are required as preparatory ceremonials. When the people are
thus assembled, and the meeting sanctified by
the custom of smoking, the chief enlarges on
the causes which have called them together,
and the necessity of the -measures proposed
on the occasion.    He then invites those who
are willing to follow him, to smoke out of the
sacred stem, which is considered as the token
of enrolment; and if it should be the general
opinion that assistance is necessary, others
are invited, with great formality, to join
them. Every individual who attends these
meetings, brings something with him as a
token of his warlike intention, or as an object
of sacrifice, which, when the assembly dis-
solves, is suspended from poles near the place
of council.
They have frequent feasts, and particular
circumstances never fail to produce them,
such as a tedious illness, long fasting, etc.
On these occasions it is usual for the person
who means to give the entertainment, to an-
nounce his design, on a certain day, of open-
ing the medicine-bag, and smoking out of
his sacred stem. This declaration is considered as a sacred vow that cannot be broken.
There are also stated periods, such as the
spring and autumn, when they engage in very
long and solemn ceremonies. On these occasions dögs are offered as sacrifices, and those
which are very fat, and milk-white, are pre-
ferred. They also make large offerings of
their property, whatever it may be. The
scene of these ceremonies is in an open in-
closure on the bank of a river or lake, and in
the most conspicuQus situation, in order that
such as are passing along or travelling, may
be induced to make their offerings.   There is
also a particular custom among them, that,
on these occasions, if any of the tribe, or
even a stranger, should be passing by, and
be in real want of any thing that is displayed
as an offering, he has a right to take it, so
that he replaces it with some artide he can
spare, though it be of far inferior value; but
to take or touch any thing wantonly is considered as a sacrilegious act, and highly in-
sulting to the great Master of Life, to use
their own expression, who is the sacred ob-
ject of their devotion.
The scene of private sacrifice is the lodge
of the person who performs it, which is pre-
pared for that purpose, by removing every
thing out of it, and spreading green branches
in every part. The fire and ashes are also
taken away. A new hearth is made of fresh
earth, and another fire is lighted. The own-
er of the dwelling remains alone in it; and
he begins the ceremony by spreading a piece
of new cloth, or a well-dressed moose-skin
neatly painted, on which he opens his medi-
cine-bag and exposes its contents, consisting
of various artides. The principal of them
is a kind of household god, which is a small
carved image about eight inches long. Its
first covering is of down, över which a piece
of birch-bark is closely tied, and the whole is
enveloped in several folds of red and blue
cloth.    This little figure is an object of the
most pions regard. The next artide is his
war-cap, which is decorated with the f eathers
and plumes of scarce birds, beavers, and
eagle's claws, etc. There is also suspended
from it a quill or feather for every enemy
whom the owner of it has slain in battle.
The remaining contents of the bag are, a
piece of Brazil tobacco, several roots and simples, which are in great estimation for their
medicinal qualities, and a pipe. These artides being all exposed, and the stem resting
upon two forks, as it must not touch the
ground, the master of the lodge sends for the
person he most esteems, who sits down opposite to him; the pipe is then filled and fixed
to the stem. A pair of wooden pincers is
provided to put the fire in the pipe, and a
double-pointed pin, to empty it of the rem-
nant of tobacco which is not consumed. This
arrangement being made, the men assemble,
and sometimes the women are allowed to be
humble spectators, while the most religous
awe and solemnity pervades the whole. The
Michiniwais, or Assistant, takes up the pipe,
lights it, and presents it to the ofliciating
person, who receives it standing and holds it
between both his hands. He then turns him-
self to the East, and draws a few whiffs,
which he blows to that point. The same cere-
mony he observes to the other three quarters,
with his eyes directed upwards during the
clii OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
whole of it. He holds the stem about the
middle between the three first fingers of both
hands, and raising them upon a line with his
forehead, he swings it three times round
from the East, with the sun, when, after
pointing and balancing it in various direc-
tions, he reposes it on the forks: he then
makes a speech to explain the design of their
being called together, which concludes with
an acknowledgment for past mercies, and a
prayer for the continuance of them, from the
Master of Life. He then sits down, and the
whole company declare their approbation and
thanks by uttering the word ho ! with an em-
phatic prolongation of the last letter. The
Michiniwais then takes up the pipe and holds
it to the mouth of the officiating person, who,
after smoking three whiffs out of it, utters a
short prayer, and then goes round with it,
taking his course from East to West, to every
person present, who individually says some-
thing to him on the occasion; and thus the
pipe is generally smoked out; when, after
turning it three or four times round his head,
he dröps it downwards, and replaces it in its
original situation. He then returns the company thanks for their attendance, and wishes
them, as well as the whole tribe, health and
long life.
These smoking rites precede every matter
of  great importance, with more or less cere-
mony, but always with equal solemnity. The
utility of them will appear from the following relation.
If a chief is anxious to know the disposition of his people towards him, or if he
wishesto settle any difference between them,
he announces his intention of opening his
medicine-bag and smoking in his sacred stem;
and no man who entertains a grudge against
any of the party thus assembled can smoke
with the sacred stem; as that ceremony dis-
sipates all differences, and is never violated.
No one can avoid attending on these occa-
sions; but a person may attend and be ex-
cused from assisting at the ceremonies, by
acknowledging that he has not undergone the
necessary purification. The having cohabited
with his wife, or any other woman, within
twenty-four hours preceding the ceremony,
renders him unclean, and, consequently, dis-
qualifies him from performing any part of it.
If a contract is entered into and solemnised
by the ceremony of smoking, it never fails of
being faithfully fulfilled. If a person, pre-
vious to his going a journey, leaves the sacred
stem as a pledge of his return, no considera-
.tion whatever will prevent him from execut-
ing his engagement.*
* It is, however, to be lamented, that of late there
is a relaxation of the duties originally attached to
these festivals.
The chief, when he proposes to make a
feast, sends quills, or small pieces of wood,
as tokens of invitation to such as he wishes
to partake of it. At the appointed time the
guests arrive, each bringing a dish or platter,
and a knife, and take their seats on each side
of the chief, who receives them sitting, ac-
cording to their respective ages. The pipe is
then lighted, and he makes an equal division
of every thing that is provided. While the
company are enjoying their meal, the chief
sings, and accompanies his song with the
tambourine, or shishiquoi, or rattle. The
guest who has first eaten his portion is considered as the most distinguished person. If
there should be any who cannot finish the
whole of their mess, they endeavour to pre-
vail on some of their friends to eat it for
them, who are rewarded for their assistance
with ammunition and tobacco. It is proper
also to remark, that at these feasts a small
quantity of meat or drink is sacrificed, before
they begin to eat, by throwing it into the
fire, or on the earth.
These feasts differ according to circumstances; sometimes each man's allowance is
no more than he can despatch in a couple of
hours. At other times the quantity is sufn-
cient to supply each of them with food for a
week, though it must be devoured in a day.
On these occasions it is very diflicult to pro-
cure substitutes, and the whole must be eaten
whatever time it may require. At some of
these entertainments there is a more rational
arrängement, when the guests are allowed to
carry home with them the superfluous part
of their portions. Great care is always taken
that the bones may be burned, as it would be
considered a profanation were the dögs permitte d to touch them.
The public feasts are conducted in the same
manner, but with some additional ceremony.
Several chiefs officiate at them, and procure
the necessary provisions, as well as prepare a
proper place of reception for the numerous
company. Here the guests discourse upon
public topics, repeat the heroic deeds of their
forefathers, and excite the rising generation
to follow their example. The entertainments
on these occasions consist of dried meats, as
it would not be practicable to dress a sufii-
cient quantity of fresh meat for such a large
assembly; though the women and children
are excluded.
Similar feasts used to be made at funerals,
and annually, in honour of the dead; but
they have been, for some time, growing into
disuse, and I never had an opportunity of
being present at any of them.
The women, who are f orbidden to enter the
places sacred to  these festivals, dance and
sing around them, and sometimes beat time
to the music within them; which forms an
agreeable contrast.
With respect to their divisions of time,
they compute the length of their journeys by
the number of nights passed in performing
them; and they divide the year by the succession of moons. In this calculation, however, they are not altogether correct, as they
cannot account for the odd days.
The names which they give to the names
are descriptive of the several seasons.
Atheiky o Pishim
Frog Moon.
Öppinu o Pishim
The Moon in which
birds begin to lay
their eggs.
Aupascen o Pishim
The Moon when
birds east their
Aupahou o Pishim
The Moon when
the young birds
begin to fly.
Waskiscon   o
The    Moon   when
the moose deer
east their horns.
Wisac o Pishim
The Rutting-Moon.
Thithigon Pewai
o Pishim
Hoar-Frost Moon.
Kuskatinayoui o
Ice Moon.
sis o Pishim
E x t r e"m e    c o 1 d
num o Pishim
February     Kichi Pishim
m m •
Mickysue Pishim
Niscaw o Pishim
Big   Moon;    some
say, Old Moon.
Eagle Moon.
Goose Moon.
These people know the medicinal virtues of
many herbs and simples, and apply the roots
of plants and the bark of trees with success.
But the conjurers, who monopolise the med-
ical science, find it necessary to blend mys-
tery with their art, and do not communicate
their knowledge. " Their materia medica they
administer in the form of purges and clysters,
but the remedies and surgical operations are
supposed to derive much of their effect from
magic and incantation. When a blister rises
in the foot from the frost, the chafing of the
shoe, etc, they immediately open it, and
apply the heated blade of a knif e to the part,
which, painful as it may be, is found to be
efficacious. A sharp flint serves them as a
lancet for letting blood, as well as for scari-
fication in bruises and swellings. For sprains,
the dung of an animal just killed is considered as the best remedy. They are very fond
of European medicines, though they are ignorant of their application: and those artides
form an inconsiderable part of the European
trafnc with them.
Among their  various   superstitions, they
believe that the vapour which is seen to hover
over moist and swampy places, is the spirit
clviii OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
of some person lately dead. They also fancy
another spirit which appears, in the shape of
a man, upon the trees near the lodgé of a
person deceased, whose property has not been
interred with them. He is represented as
bearing a gun in his hand, and it is believed
that he does not return to his rest, till the
property that has been withheld from the
grave has been sacrificed to it.
Good Spirit
Ki jai Manitou
Ki jai Manitou.
Evil Spirit
Matchi manitou
Matchi manitou
Nap hew
A' wash ish
Abi nont-chen.
Us ti quoin
Es caatick
0 catick.
Wes ty-ky
Es kis och
Oo   tith   ee   ge
) Ni-de-ni-guom.
0 toune
0 tonne.
My teeth
Wip pit tah
With i tip
Aba-e winikan.
O tow ee gie
O-ta Wagane.
0 qui ow
My back
My belly
My knees
My father
My mother
My boy (son)
My girl (daugh-
My   brother,
My sister, elder
My grandfather
My grandmother
My uncle
My nephew
My niece
O koot tas gy
O nisk
Che chee
Wos kos sia
0's spig gy
No pis quan
O povam
Nigon dagane.
O nic.
Ni nid gines.
Ni-pi quoini.
Ni my sat.
No che quoin noh Ni gui tick.
Ok thea
Noo ta wie
Nigah wei
My   mother - in
My  brother • in- Nistah
My companion
Ni gatte.
Ni ni michomen.
Ne do jim.
Ne too  sim es- Ni-do-jim equois
Ni stess
Ne miss
Ne moo shum
No kum
N' o'kamiss
Ne too sim
Ni siffousiss.
Ne wechi wagan Ni wit - chi - wa
My husband
Old Man
I am an gry
I fear
Ni nap pem        Ni na bem.
Mith coo Misquoi.
Shi nap Aki win se.
Ne kis si wash en Nis Katissiwine.
Ne goos tow        Nisest guse.
Ne hea tha tom
Mamond gikisL
Oda wagan.
Mis conna
Pemi ka wois.
Chief,   great
Kitchi onodis.
Ke moutiske.
Shi kak.
Michai woi.
Rein deer
Fallow deer
Wa wasquesh.
Qui~qua katch
Quin quoagki.
Otchi ta mou.
Sa quasue
Ni guick.
Cau quah
Musk Rat
Wai wa be gou
Cow Buffalo
Noshi Mous
- Nochena pichik.
Sy Sip
Crow, Corbeau
Ca Cawkeu
Ka Kak.
Mes sei thew
Okes kew
A jack.
Nic käck.
White Goose
Wey Wois
Woi wois.
Grey Goose
Pos ta kisk.
Pen ainse.
Water Hen
Che qui bis.
Omi Mee
0 mi-mis.
Wa Wah
Wa Weni.
Pike or Jack
Na may bin
Na me bine.
Na May
Na Maiu.
White fish
Fish (in general)
Wa quock.
Chi chi kan
0 nidj-igan.
Nay gouse
Na Men Gouse.
Craw Fish
A shag gee
A chä kens chac
0 ma ka ki.
Ah moo
A mon.
Ki nai bick.
Sha-bo nigan.
Fire steel
Fire wood
Ta Comagau
Na - ba - ke - gou
Augusk or Atou
- Mettickanouins OF
Fish Hook
Quosquipichican Maneton Miquis-
Na   be   chi   be
Pin ack wan.
Birch Rind
Wig nass.
Touch Wood
Misqui meinac.
0'-tai-e minac
0'-tai-e minac.
Scou tay
Scou tay.
A Winni.
Asus ki
A Shiski.
Ki si chi woin.
Mini ss.
Ti bi se a pesim
Dibic Kiji
(the night Sun]
)                      .           |
Day      H
Kigi gatte.
Dibic kawte.
So qui po.
Ki mi woini
Shes eagan
Me qua mensan.
Me quam.
Messeasky   (all
the earth)
Missi achki.
Kitchi kitchi gä
• Kitchi kitchi gä
Abetah quisheik
Na ock quoi.
Mino ka ming.
Ba wetick.
Sipi wes chin.
Ne gawe.
Ach ki.
Ni mi ki.
No tine.
Ta kashike
Ke woitinak.
Sawena woon
S h a - w a - n a
Wa-ba- no-no
Pan guis-chi-mo,
Michim waboi
Ma qua see
Wi con qui wine
Grease or oil
Pimi-tais. OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
Marrow fat
Oscan pimis
Ne pa win
Pendog ke
Ne pai wine.
0' na gann.
Ketche pisou.
Pe matinang.
A chi-gan.
Pa pa ki weyan.
- Papise - c o - w a
Wape weyang
Maneto weguin
Chi ki-bisoon
Wape weyan.
Maneto weguin.
Fi gaske-tase be
Medjica wine.
Smoking bag
Portage sling
Strait on
Goi ask
Mas ki kee
Mes coh
Kasqutch (sam€
as black)
s O-jawes-cowa.
Saw waw
Grey, etc.
Mache  na  gou-
gouse. *■'.*
Nam bissa.
Kissi Sawenogar
t Quoi Natch.
Nima petom
J£a ki be chai.
Small or little
j Mache-cawa.
( Mas-cawise.
Nitha missew
Mahta waw
Ka wa ca tosa.
Nima Gustaw
Son qui taige.
Young man
Kicha tai.
Ni   gouta  was
Nish woisic
She was wois.
Shann was wois
Peyac osap
hachi pecheik
clxvi OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
Nisheu osap
hachi, nige.
Nichtou osap
hachi, niswois.
Neway osap
hachi, ne-au.
Niannan osap
hachi, nanan.
Nigoutawo e s i c Mitasswois,
hachi,   negou-
Nish woesic osap
hachi, nigi
Jannanew osap
hachi, shiwass-
U rtn/ktT    Aflffn
Il/I "It*"* flflTITAlfl
bnacK osap
hachi,    shang
as wois.
Nisheu mitenah
Nishew mitenah Nigeta nan,
peyac osap
hachi, pechic.
Nisheu  mitenah
nishew osap
Nishtou mitenah Niswois     mita-
Neway mitenah
Neau mitanan.
. Niannan    mitenah
Nanan mitanan.
Negouta woisic
Nigouta was
wois mitanan.
Nishwoisic mite
Nigi   was   wois
Jannaeu mitenah She was wos mi-
Snack mitenah
Shang was wois
Mitana mitenan
Two hundred
Neshew mitena a
t Nige wack.
One thousand
Mitenah  mitena Kitchi wack.
Awa-chi min.
Athiwack mitha
- A   wachimin   o
nichi shen.
Atniwack mitha-
Kitchi   o   nichi
I, or me
You, or thou
They, or them
Win na wa.
We       §     j||
Nina wa.
My, or mine
Nida yam.
Kegoi nin.
Wa.   §
His, or her's
Otayim mis.
Some,   or   some
Pey peyac
The same
Mi ta yoche.
All the world
Missi acki wan-
Mishiwai asky.
All the men
Kakithaw    Ethi
M i ssi   I n ini
Mina wa.
Now and then
I as cow-puco
clxviii OF THE FUR TRADE, &c
To burn
To sing
To hide
To cover
To believe
To sleep
To dispute
To dance
To give
To do
To eat
To die
^o forget
To speak
To cry (tears)
To laugh
To set down
To walk
To fall
To work
To kill
To sell
To Ii ve
To see
To come
Cry (tears)
It hails
There is
There is some
It rains
After to morrow
Ta couchin
Ke ko mitowock
Mith l
Ah tus kew
Aya wa
Awis wabank
Wica ac-ko.
Qui qui jan.
Caso tawe.
A co na oune.
Tai boitam.
Ni pann.
Ki quaidiwine.
Ni po wen.
Woi ni mi kaw.
Ma wi.
Na matape win.
Ata wois.
Mi mi nic.
Ambai ma wita.
Sai saigaun.
Aya wan.
Qui mi woin.
Non gum.
Ni bi wa.
, Pichisqua
Make, heart
Wai we be.
This morning
Shai bas.
This night
De bi cong.
0 kitchiai.
Ana mai.
Ne de wache
Sha shaye.
Yet more
Mina wa.
Nima wecatch
Ka wi ka.
Ka wine.
By-and-by e
Al way s
Ka qui nick
TVIake haste
It's long since
Mon wisha.
clxx OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
They are a numerous people, who consider
the country between the parallels of latitude
60. and 65. North, and longitude 100. to
110. West, as their lands or home. They
speak a copious language, which is very diffi-
cult to be attained, and furnishes dialects to
the various emigrant tribes which inhabit the
following immense track of country, whose
boundary I shall describe.* It begins at
Churchill, and runs along the line of separation between them and the Knisteneaux, up
the Missinipi to the Isle a la Crosse, passing
on through the Buffalo Lake, River Lake,
and Portage la Loche: from thence it pro-
ceeds by the Elk River to the Lake of the
Hills, and goes directly West to the Peach
River; and up that river to its source and
tributary waters; from whenoe it proceeds to
the waters of the river Columbia; and fol-
lows that river to latitude 52. 24=. North, and
longitude 22. 54. West, where the   Chepe-
* Those of them who come to trade with us, do not
exceed eight hundred men, and have a smattering
of the Knisteneau tongue, in which they carry on
their dealings with us.
wyans have the Atnah or Chin Nation for
their neighbours. It then takes a line due
West to the seacoast, within which, the country is possessed by a people who speak their
language * and are consequently descended
from them: there can be no doubt, therefore,
of their progress being to the Eastward. A
tribe of them is even known at the upper
establishments on the Saskatchiwine; and I
do not pretend to ascertain how far they may
follow the Bocky Mountains to the East.
It is not possible to form any just estimate
of their numbers, but it is apparent, never-
theless, that they are by no means propor-
tionate to the väst extent of their territories,
which may, in some degree, be attributed to
the ravages of the small-pox, which are,
more or less, evident throughout this part of
the continent.
The notion which these people entertain of
the creation, is of a very singular nature.
They believe that, at the first, the globe was
one väst and entire ocean, inhabited by no
living creature, except a mighty bird, whose
eyes were fire, whose glances were lightning,
and the clapping of whose wings were thun-
der. On his descent to the ocean, and touch-
ing it, the  earth instantly arose,   and  re-
*The coast is inhabited on the North-West by the
Eskimaux, and on the Pacific Ocean by a people
different from both.
clxxii OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
mained on the surface of the waters. This
omnipotent bird then called forth all the
variety of animals from the earth, except the
Chepewyans, who were produced from a dog;
and this circumstance occasions their aversion
to the flesh of that animal, as well as the
people who eat it. This extraordinary tradition proceeds to reläte, that the great bird,
having finished his work, made an arrow,
which was to be preserved with great care,
and to remain untouched; but that the Chepewyans were so devoid of understanding, as to
carry it away; and the sacrilege so enraged
the great bird, that he has never since ap-
They have also a tradition amongst them,
that they originally came from another country, inhabited by very wicked people, and
had traversed a great lake, which was narrow, shallow, and full of islands, where they
had suffered great misery, it being always
winter, with ice and deep snow. At the
Copper-Mine River, where they made the
first land, the ground was covered with cop-
per, över which a body of earth had since
been collected, to the depth of a man's height.
They believe, also, that in ancient times their
ancestors lived till their feet were worn out
with walking, and their throats with eating.
They describe  a deluge,   when the waters
spread över the whole earth, except the high-
clxxiii sippp    i—i--
n«3 »il
est mountains, on the tops of which they pre-
served themselves.
They believe, that immediately after their
death, they pass into another world, where
they arrive at a large river, on which they
embark in a stone canoe, and that a gentle
current bears them on to an extensive lake,
in the centre of which is a most beautiful
island; and that, in the view of this delight-
ful abode, they receive that judgment for
their conduct during life, which terminates
their final state and unalterable allotment.
If their good åctions are declared to predom-
inate, they are landed upon the island, where
there is to be no end to their happiness;
which, however, according to their notions,
consists in an eternal enjoyment of sensual
pleasure, and carnal gratification. But if
their bad actions weigh down the balance,
the stone canoe sinks at once, and leaves
them up to their chins in the water, to be-
hold and regret the reward enjoyed by the
good, and eternally struggling, but with un-
availing endeavours, to reach the blissful
island, from which they are excluded for ever.
They have some faint notions of the trans-
migration of the soul; so that if a child be
bom with teeth, they instantly imagine, from
its premature appearance, that it bears a re-
semblance to some person who had Ii ved to
an advanced period, and that he has assumed
clxxiv OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
a renovated life, with these extraordinary
tokens of maturity.
The Chepewyans are sober, timorous, and
vagrant, with a selfish disposition that has
sometimes created suspicions of their integ-
rity. Their stature has nothing remarkable
in it; but though they are seldom corpulent,
they are sometimes robust. Their complexion
is swarthy; their features coarse, and their
hair länk, but always of a dingy black; nor
have they universally the piercing eye, which
generally animates the Indian countenance.
The women have a more agreeable aspect than
the men, but their gait is awkward, which
proceeds from their being accustomed, nine
months in the year, to travel on snow-shoes
and drag sledges of a weight from two to four
hundred pounds. They are very submissive to
their husbands, who have, however, their fits
of jealousy; and, for very trifling causes,
treat them with such cruelty as sometimes to
occasion their death. They are frequently
objects of traffic; and the father possesses the
right of disposing of his daughter.* The
men in general extract their beards, though
some of them are seen to prefer a bushy black
beard, to a smooth chin. They cut their hair
in various forms, or leave it in a long, natural
* They do not, however, sell them as slaves, but as
companions to those who are supposed to live more
comfortably than themselves.
clxxv ■U
flow, according as their caprice or fancy suggests. The women always wear it in great
length, and some of them are very attentive
to its arrangement. If they at any time appear despoiled of their tresses, it is to be
esteemed a proof of the husband^ jealousy,
and is considered as a severer punishment
than manual correction. Both sexes have
blue or black bars, or from one to four
straight lines on their cheeks or forehead, to
distinguish the tribe to which they belong.
These marks are either tattooed, or made by
drawing a thread, dipped in the necessary
colour, beneath the skin.
There are no people more attentive to the
comforts of their dress, or less anxious re-
specting its exteriör appearance. In the winter it is composed of the skins of deer, and
their fawns, and dressed as fine as any
chamois leather, in the hair. In the summer
their apparel is the same, except that it is
prepared without the hair. Their shoes and
leggins are sewed together, the latter reaching upwards to the middle, and being sup-
ported by a belt, under which a small piece
of leather is drawn to cover the private parts,
the ends of which fall down both before and
behind. In the shoes they pnt the hair of
the moose or reindeer with additional pieces
of leather as socks.    The shirt or coat, when
girted round the waist, reaches to the middle
clxxvi OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
of the thigh, and the mittens are sewed to the
sleeves, or are suspended by strings from the
shoulders. A ruff or tippet surrounds the
neck, and the skin of the head of the deer
forms a curious kind of cap. A robe, made
of several deer or fawn skins sewed together,
covers the whole. This dress is worn single
or double, but always in the winter, with the
hair within and without. Thus arrayed a
Chepewyan will lay himself down on the ice
in the middle of a lake, and repose in com-
fort; though he will sometimes find a diffi-
culty in the morning to disencumber himself
from the snow drifted on him during the
night. If in his passage he should be in want
of provision, he cuts a hole in the ice, when
he seldom fails of taking some trout or pike,
whose eyes he instantly scoops out, and eats
as a great delicacy; but if they should not be
sufficient to satisfy his appetite, he. will, in
this necessity make his meal of the fish in its
raw state; but, those whom I saw, preferred
to dress their victuals when circumstauces
admitted the necessary preparation. When
they are in that part of their country which
does not produce a sufficient quantity of
wood for fuel, they are reduced to the same
exigency, though they generally dry their
meat in the sun.*
* The provision called. pemmican, on which the
Chepewyans, as well as the other savages of this
The dress of the women differs from that
of the men. Their leggins are tied below the
knee; and their coat or shift is wide, hang-
ing down to the ankle, and is tucked up at
pleasure by means of a belt, which is fastened
round the waist. Those who have children
have these garments made very full about the
shoulders, as when they are travelling they
carry their infants upon their backs, next
their skin, in which situation they are per-
fectly comfortable and in a position conveni-
ent to be suckled.    Nor do they discontinue
country, chiefly subsist in their journeys, is prepared
in the following manner: The lean parts of the flesh
of the larger animals are cut in thin slices, and are
placed on a wooden gråte över a slow fire, or exposed
to the sun, and sometimes to the frost. These operations dry it, and in that state it is pounded between
two stones; it will then keep with care for several
years. If, however, it is kept in large quantities, it
is disposed to ferment in the spring of the year,
when it must be exposed to the air, or it will soon
decay. The inside fat, and that of the rump, which
is much thicker in these wild than our domestic animals, is melted down and mixed, in a boiling state
with the pounded meat, in equal proportions: it is
then put in baskets or bags for the convenience of
carrying it. Thus it becomes a nutritious food, and
is eaten, without any further preparation, or the
addition of spice, salt, or any vegetable or farina-
ceous substance. A little time reconciles it to the
palate. There is another sort made with the addition of marrowand dried berries, which is of a superior quality.
to give their milk to them till they have another child. Childbirth is not the object of
that tender care and serious attention among
the savages as it is among civilised people.
At this period no part of their usual occupa-
tion is omitted, and this continual and regu-
lar exercise must contribute to the welfare of
the mother, both in the progress of parturi-
tion and in the moment of delivery. The
women have a singular custom of cutting off
a small piece of the navel string of the new-
born children, and häng it about their necks:
they are also curious in the covering they
make for it, which they decorate with porcu-
pine's qaills and beads.
Though the women are as much in the
power of the men, as other artides of their
property, they are always consulted, and
possess a very considerable influence in the
traffic with Europeans, and other important
Plurality of wives is common among them,
and the ceremouy of marriage is of a very
simple nature.    The girls are betrothed at a
verj' early period to those whom the parents
think the best able to support them: nor is
the  inclination  of   the  women  considered.
Whenever a separation takes place, which
sometimes  happens, it depends entirely on
the will and pleasure of  the husband.    In
common with the other Indians of this coun-
i! I ,
try, they have a custom respecting the peri-
odical state of a woman, which is rigorously
observed: at that time she must seclude her-
self from society. They are not even allowed
in that situation to keep the same path as the
men, when travelling: and it is considered a
great breach of decency for a woman so cir-
cumstanced to touch any utensils of manly
occupation. Such a circumstance is sup-
posed to defile them, so that their subsequent
use would be followed by certain mischief or
misf ortune. There are particular skins which
the women never touch, as of the bear and
wolf; and those animals the men are seldom
known to kill.
They are not remarkable for their activity
as hunters, which is owing to the ease with
which they snare deer and spear fish: and
these occupations are not beyond the strength
of their old men, women, and boys: so that
they participate in those laborious occupations, which among their neighbours are con-
fined to the women. They make war on the
Esquimaux, who cannot resist their superior
numbers, and put them to death, as it is a
principle with them never to make prisoners.
At the same time they tamely submit to the
Knisteneaux, who are not so numerous as
themselves, when they treat them as enemies.
They do not affect that cold reserve at
meeting, either  among themselves or stran-
clxxx OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
gers, which is common with the Knisteneaux,
but communicate mutually, and at once, all
the information of which they are possessed.
Nor are they roused like them from an ap-
parent torpor to a state of great activity.
They are consequently more uniform in this
respect, though they are of a very persever-
ing disposition when their interest is con-
As these people are not addicted to spirit-
uous liquors, they have a regular and unin-
terrupted use of their understanding, which
is always directed to the advancement of
their own interest; and this disposition, as
may be readily imagined, sometimes occa-
sions them to be charged with fraudulent
habits. They will submit with patience to
the severest treatment, when they are con-
scious that they deserve it, but will never
forget or forgive any wanton or nnnecessary
rigour. A moderate conduct I never found
to fail, nor do I hesitate to represent them,
altogether, as the most peaceable tribe of Indians known in North America.
There are conjurers and high-priests, but I
was not present at any of their ceremonies;
though they certainly operate in an extraor-
dinary manner on the imaginations of the
people in the cure of disorders. Their principal maladies are, rheumatic pains, the flux
and consumption.   The venereal complaint is
very common; but though its progress is slow,
it gradually undermines the constitution, and
brings on premature decay. They have re-
course to superstition for their cure, and
charms are their only remedies, except the
bark of the willow, which being burned and
reduced to powder, is strewed upon green
wounds and ulcers, and places contrived for
promoting perspiration. Of the use of simples and plants they have no knowledge; nor
can it be expected, as their country does not
produce them.
Though they have enjoyed so long an in-
tercourse with Europeans, their country is so
barren, as not to be capable of producing the
ordinary necessaries naturally introduced by
such a communication; and they continue, in
a great measure, their own inconvenient and
awkward modes of taking their game and
preparing it when taken. Sometimes they
drive the deer into the small lakes, where
they spear them, or force them into inclo-
sures, where the bow and arrow are employed
against them. These animals are also taken
in snares make of skin. In the former in-
stance the game is divided among those who
have been engaged in the pursuit of it. In
the latter it is considered as private property;
nevertheless, any unsuccessful hunter pass-
ing by, may take a deer so caught, leaving
the head, skin,  and saddle for the owner.
clxxxii OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
Thus, though they have no regular govern-
ment, as every man is lord in his own family,
they are influenced, more or less, by certain
principles which condone to their general
In their quarrels with each other, they very
rarely proceed to a greater degree of violence
than is occasioned by blows, wrestling, and
pulling of the hair, while their abusive language consists in applying the name of the
most offensive animal to the object of their
displeasure, and adding the term ugly, and
chiay, or still-born.*
Their arms and domestic apparatus, in addition to the artides procured from European s, are spears, bows, and arrows, fishing-
nets, and lines made of green deer-skin thongs.
They have also nets for taking the beaver as
he endeavours to escape from his lodge when
it is broken open. It is set in a particular
manner for the purpose, and a man is em-
ployed to watch the moment when he enters
the snare, or he would soon cut his way
through it. He is then thrown upon the ice
where he remains as if he had no life in him.
The snow-shoes are of a very superior
workmanship. The inner part of their frame
is straight, the outer one is curved, and it is
* This name is also applicable to the f oetus of an
animal, when killed, which is considered as one of
the greatest delicacies.
clxxxiii i
pointed at both ends, with that in front
turned up. They are also laced with great
neatness with thongs made of deer-skin. The
sledges are formed of thin slips of board
turned up also in front, and are highly polished with crooked knives, in order to slide
along with facility. Close-grained wood is,
on that acount, the best; but theirs are made
of the red or swamp spruce-fir tree.
The country, which these people claim as
their land, has a very small quantity of earth,
and produces little or no wood or herbage.
Its chief vegetable substance is the möss, on
which the deer feed; and a kind of rock
möss, which, in times of scarcity, preserves
the lives of the natives. When boiled in
water, it dissolves into a clammy, glutinous
substance, that affords a very sufficient nour-
ishment. But, notwithstanding the barren
state of their country, with proper care and
economy, these people might live in great
comfort, for the lakes abound in fish, and the
hills are covered with deer. Though, of all
the Indian people of this continent they are
considered as the most provident, they suffer
severely at certain seasons, and particularly
in the dead of winter, when they are under
the necessity of retiring to their scanty,
stinted woods. To the Westward of them the
musk-ox may be found, but they have no de-
pendence on it as an artide of sustenance.
clxxxiv OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
There are also large hares, a few white
wolves, peculiar to their country, and several
kinds of foxes, with white and grey partridges, etc. The beaver and moose-deer
they do not find till they come within 60 de-
grees North latitude; and the buffalo is still
further South. That animal is known to frequent an higher latitude to the Westward of
their country. These people bring pieces of
beautiful variegated marble, which are found
on the surfaee of the earth. It is easily
worked, bears a fine polish, and härdens with
time; it endures heat, and is manufactured
into pipes or calumets, as they are very fond
of smoking tobacco; a luxury which the Euro-
peans communicated to them.
Their amusements or recreations are but
few. Their musie is so inharmonious, and
their dancing so awkward, that they might
be supposed to be ashamed of both, as they
very seldom practise either. They also shoot
at marks, and play at the games common
among them; but in fact they prefer sleep-
ing to either; and the greater part of their
time is passed in procuring f ood, and resting
from the toil necessary to obtain it.
They are also of a querulous disposition,
and are continually making complaints \ which
they express by a constant repetition of the
word eduiy, "it is härd," in a whining and
plaintive tone of voice.
They are superstitious in the extreme, and
almost every action of their lives, however
trivial, is more or less influenced by some
whimsical notion. I never observed that
they had any partcular form of religious wor-
ship; but as they believe in a good and evil
spirit, and a state of future rewards and
punishments, they cannot be devoid of religious impressions. At the same time they
manifest a decided unwillingness to make any
Communications on the subject.
The Chepewyans have been accused of
abandoning their aged and infirm people to
perish, and of not burying their dead; but
these are melancholy necessities, which proceed from their wandering way of life. They
are by no means universal, for it is within my
knowledge, that a man, rendered helpless by
the palsy, was carried about for many years,
with the greatest tenderness and attention,
till he died a natural death. That they should
not bury their dead in their own country,
cannot be imputed to them as a custom aris-
ing from a savage insensibility, as they inhabit such 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. Besides, they manifest no common respect to the memory of their departed
friends, by a long period of mourning, cut-
ting off their hair, and never making use of
clxxxvi OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
the property of the deceased. Nay, they
frequently destroy or sacrifice their own, as
a token of regret and sorrow.
If there be any people who, from the barren state of their country, might be supposed
to be cannibals by nature, these people, from
the difficulty they, at times, experience in
procuring food, might be liable to that impu-
tation. But, in all my knowledge of them,
I never was acquainted with one instance of
that disposition; nor among all the natives
which I met with in a route of five thousand
miles, did I see or hear of an example of
cannibalism, but such as arose from that ir-
resistible necessity, which has been known to
impel even the most civilised people to eat
each other.
Example of the Chepewyan Tongue.
Young man
Young woman
My son
My daughter
My husband
My wife
My brother
My father
My mother
My grandfather
Me, or my
Quelaquis chequoi.
Zi azay.
Zi lengai.
Zi dinnie.
Zi zayunai.
Zi raing.
Zi tah.
Zi nah.
Zi unai.
clxxxvii A GENERAL H1ST0RY
i! Hl!
The Knee
Clothes or Blänket
Robe or Blänket
White partridge
Grey partridge
Moose deer
Rein deer
Cass bah.
fe     -4 OF THE FUR TRADE, &c.
Yess (Nouhoay).
Zah thah.
Naby-ai thith.
Deny-ai thith.
Slouey zinai.
Alki tar-hy-y.
Alki deing-hy.
Cakina hanoth-na.
Ca noth na.
Na ghur cha noth na
Trade, or barter
Not good
Bad, ugly
Long since
Now, to-day
By-and-bye, or pr
House, or lodge
Small, or little
I love you
I hate you
I am to be pitied
My relation
Give me water
Give me meat
Telkithy counna.
Deli couse.
Dell zin.
Leyzong houlley.
esently Garahoulleh.
The o ball.
Ba eioinichdinh.
Bucnoinichadinh hillay.
Sy lod, innay.
Too hanniltu.
Give me fish
Give me meat to eat
Give me water to drink
It is far off
Is it not far
It is near
How many
What call you him, or
Come here
Pain, or suffering
It's härd
You lie
What then
Sloeeh anneltu.
Bid Barheether,
To Barhithen.
Netha uzany.
Nilduay uzany
Etla houllia.
Yeu dessay.
CXci Ifpf
. 3*
JUNE, 1789.
Wednesday, 3.—We embarked at nine in
the morning, at Fort Chepewyan, on the
South side of the Lake of the Hills, in latitude 58. 40. North, and longitude 110 30.
West from Greenwich, and compass has sixteen degrees variation East, in a canoe made
of birch bark. The crew consisted of four
Canadians, two of whom were attended by
their wives, and a German; we were accompanied also by an Indian, who had acquired
the title of English Chief, and his two wives,
in a small canoe, with two young Indians;
his followers in another small canoe. These
men were engaged to serve us in the twofold
capacity of interpreters and hunt ers. This
chief has been a principal leader of his coun-
trymen who were in the habit of carrying
furs to Churchill Factory, Hudson's Bay, and
till of late very much attached to the interest
of that company. These circumstances pro-
eured him the  appellation  of the English
Chief.    | ■      « g
13 193 Rf!
We were also accompanied by a canoe that
I had equipped for the purpose of trade, and
given the charge of it to M. Le Roux, one of
the Company 's clerks. In this I was obliged
to ship part of our provision; which, with
the clothing necessary for us on the voyage,
a proper assortment of the artides of mer-
chandise as presents, to ensure us a friendly
reception among the Indians, and the ammunition and arms requisite for defence, as well
as a supply for our hunters, were more than
our own canoe could carry, but by the time
we should part company, there was every
reason to suppose that our expenditure would
make sufiicient room for the whole.
We proceeded twenty-one miles to the
West, and then took a course of nine miles
to North-North-West, when we entered the
river, or one of the branches of the lake, of
which there are several. We then steered
North five miles, when our course changed for
two miles to North-North-East, and here at
seven in the evening we landed and pitched
our tents. One of the hunters killed a goose,
and a couple of ducks: at the same time the
canoe was taken out of the water, to be
gummed, which necessary business was effec-
tually performed.
Tkursday, 4-—We embarked at four this
morning,  and  proceeded  North-North-East
half a mile, North one mile and a half, West
two miles, North-West two miles, West-
North-West one mile and a half, North-
North-West half a mile, and West-North-
West two miles, when this branch löses itself
in the Peace River. It is remarkable, that
the currents of these various branches of the
lake, when the Peace River is high, as in May
and August, run into the lake, which, in the
other months of the year returns its waters
to them; whence, to this place, the branch is
not more than two hundred yards wide, nor
less than an hundred and twenty. The banks
are rather low, except in one place, where an
huge rock rises above them. The low land is
covered with wood, such as white birch, pines
of different kinds, with the poplar, three kinds
of willow, and the liard.
The Peace River is upwards of a mile broad
at this spöt, and its current is stronger than
that of the channel which communicates with
the lake. It here, indeed, assumesthe name
of the Slave River.* The course of this dav
was as follows:—North-West two miles,
North-North-West, through islands,six miles,
North four miles and a half, North by East
*The Slave Indians, having been driven from
their original country by their enemies, the Knisteneaux, along the borders of this part of the river, it
received that title, though it by no means involves
the idea of servitude, but was given to these fugi-
tives as a term of reproach, that denoted more than
common savageness.
two miles, West by North six miles, North
one mile, North-East by East two miles,
North one mile. We now descended a rapid,
and proceeded North-West seven miles and a
half, North-West nine miles, North by West
six miles, North-West by West one mile and
a half, North-West by North half a mile,
North-North-West six miles, North one mile,
North-West by West four miles, North-
North-East one mile. Here we arrived at the
mouth of the Dog River,, where we landed,
and unloaded our canoes, at half past seven
in the evening, on the East side, and by
the rapids. At this station the river is near
two leagues in breadth.
Friday, 5.—At three o'clock in the morn-
ing we embarked, but unloaded our canoes at
the first rapid. When we had reloaded, we
entered a small channel, which is formed by
the islands, and, in about half an hour, we
came to the carrying-place It is three hundred and eighty paces in length, and very
commodious, except at the further end of it.
We found some difficulty in reloading at this
spöt, from the large quantity of ice which
had not yet thawed. Er om hence to the next
carrying-place, called the Portage d)Embar-
ras, is about six miles, and is occasioned by
the drift wood filling up the small channel,
which  is one thousand and twenty paces in
length 5 from hence to the next is one mile
and a half, while the distance to that which
succeeds, does not exceed one hundred and
fifty yards. It is about the same length as
the last; and from hence to the carrying-
place called the Mountain, is about four miles
further; when we entered the great river.
The smaller one, or the channel, affords by
far the best passage, as it is without hazard
of any kind; though I believe a shorter
course would be found on the outside of the
islands, and without so many carrying-places.
That called the Mountain is three hundred
and thirty-five paces in length; from thence
to the next, named the Pelican, there is about
a mile of dangerous rapids. The landing is
very steep, and close to the fall. The length
of this carrying-place is eight hundred and
twenty 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 dashed to pieces. The
woman who had the management of it, by
quitting it in time, preserved her life, though
she löst the little property it contained.
The course from the place we quitted in the
morning is about North-West, and compre-
hends a distance of fifteen miles.   From hence
to the next and last carrying-place, is about
nine miles; in which distance there are three
rapids: course  North-West by West.    The
carrying path is very bad, and Hxve hundred
and thirty-five paces in length. Our canoes
being lightened, passed on the outside of the
opposite island, which rendered the carrying
of the baggage very short indeed, being not
more than the length of a canoe. In the
year 1786, five men were drowned, and two
canoes and some packages löst, in the rapids
on the other side of the river, which occa-
sioned this place to be called the Tortage des
Noyes. They were proceeding to the Slave
Lake, in the fall of that year, under the direction of Mr. Cuthbert Grant. We proceeded from hence six miles, and encamped
on Point de Roche, at half past five in the
afternoon. The men and Indians were very
much fatigued; but the hunters had provided
seven geese, a beaver, and four ducks.
Saturday, 6.—We embarked at half past
two in the morning, and steered North-West
by North twenty-one miles, North-West by
West five miles, West-North-West four miles,
West six miles, doubled a point North-
North-East one mile, East five miles, North
two miles, North-West by North one mile
and a half, West-North-West three miles,
North-East by East two miles; doubled a
point one mile and a half, West by North
nine miles, North-West by West six miles
North-North-West five miles; here we landed
at six o'clock in the evening, unloaded, and
encamped. Nets were also set in a small ad-
jacent river. We had an head wind during
the greater part of the day and the weather
was become so cold that the Indians were
obliged to make use of their mittens. In this
day's progress we killed seven geese and six
Sunday, 7.—At half past three we renewed
our voyage, and proceeded West-North-West
one mile, round an island one mile, North-
West two miles and a half, South by West
three miles, West-South-West one mile,
South-West by South half a mile, North-
West three miles, West-North-West three
miles and a half, North seven miles and a
half, North-West by North four miles, North
two miles and a half, North-West by North
two miles. The rain, which had prevailed
for some time, now came on with such vio-
lence, that we were obliged to land and un-
load, to prevent the goods and baggage from
getting wet; the weather, however, soon
cleared up, so that we reloaded the canoe,
and got under way. We now continued our
course North ten miles, West one mile and a
half, and North one mile and a half, when
the rain came on again, and rendered it äbso-
lutely necessary for us to get on shore for the
night, at about half past three- We had a
strong   North-North-East  wind throughont
the day, which greatly impeded us; M. Le
Roux, however, with his party, passed on in
search of a landing place more agreeable to
them. The Indians killed a couple of geese,
and as many ducks. The rain continued
through the remaining part of the day.
Monday, 8.—The night was very boister-
ous, and the rain did not cease till two in the
afternoon of this day; but as the wind did
not abate of its violence, we were prevented
from proceeding till the morrow.
Tuesday, 9.—We embarked at half past
two in the morning, the weather being calm
and foggy. Soon after our two young men
joined us, whom we had not seen for two
days; but during their absence they had killed
four beavers and ten geese. After a course
of one mile North-West by North, we observed an opening on the right, which we took
for a fork of the river, but it proved to be a
lake. We returned and steered South-West
by West one mile and a half, West-South-
West one mile and a half, West one mile,
when we entered a very small branch of the
river on the East bank; at the mouth of
which I was informed there had been a carrying-place, owing to the quantity of drift
wood, which then filled up the passage, but
has since been carried away. The course of
this river is meandering, and tends to the
North, and in about ten miles falls into the
Slave Lake, where we arrived at nine in the
morning, when we found a great change in
the weather, as it was become extremely cold.
The lake was entirely covered with ice, and
did not seem in any degree to have given
way, but near the shore. The gnats and
mosquitoes, which were very troublesome
during our passage along the river, did not
venture to accompany us to this colder region.
The banks of the river both above and be-
low the rapids, were on both sides covered
with the various kinds of wood common to
this country, particularly the Western side;
the land being lower and consisting of a rich
black soil. This artificial ground is carried
down by the stream, and rests upon drift
wood, so as to be eight or ten feet deep.
The eastern banks are more elevated, and the
soil a yellow clay mixed with gravel; so that
the trees are neither so large or numerous as
on the opposite shore. The ground was not
thawed above fourteen inches in depth; not-
withstanding the leaf was at its full growth;
while along the lake there was scarcely any
appearance of verdure.
The Indians informed me, that, at a very
small distance from either bank of the river,
are very extensive plains, frequented by large
herds of buffaloes; while the moose and rein-
deer keep in the woods that börder on it.
The beavers,  which are in great numbers,
build their habitations in the small lakes and
201 rf
m- t
rivers, as, in the larger. streams, the ice car-
ries every thing along with it, during the
spring. The mud-banks in the river are covered with wild fowl; and we this morning
killed two swans, ten geese, and one beaver,
without suffering the delay of an hour; so
that we might have soon filled the canoe with
them, if that had been our object.
From the small river we steered East,
along the inside of a long sand-bank, covered
with drift wood and enlivened by a few wil-
lows, which stretches on as far as the houses
erected by Messrs. Grant and Le Roux, in
1786. We of ten ran aground, as for five
successive miles the depth of the water no-
where exceeded three feet. There we found
our people, who had arrived early in the
morning, and whom we had not seen since the
preceding Sunday. We now unloaded the
canoe, and pitched our tents, as there was
every appearance that we should be obliged
to remain here for some time. I then ordered
the nets to be set, as it was absolutely necessary that the stores provided for our future
voyage should remain untouched. The fish
we now caught were carp, poisson inconnu,
white fish, and trout.
Wednesday, 10. —It rained during the greatest part of the preceding night, and the
weather did not clear up till the afternoon of
this day.    This circumstance had very much
weakened the ice, and I sent two of the Indians on an hunting party to a lake at the
distance of nine miles, which, they informed
me, was frequented by animals of various
kinds. Our fisher}r this day was not so
abundant as it had been on the preceding
Thursday, 11.—The weather was fine and
clear with a strong westerly wind. The
women were employed in gathering berries of
different sorts, of which there are a great
plenty; and I accompanied one of my people
to a small adjacent island, where we picked
up some dozens of swan, geese, and duck-
eggs; we also killed a couple of ducks and a
In the evening the Indians returned, without having see any of the larger animals. A
swan and a grey crane were the only fruits of
their expedition. We caught no other fish
but a small quantity of pike, which is too
common to be a favourite food with the people of the country. The ice moved a little to
the eastward.
Friday, 12.—The weather continued the
same as yesterday, and the mosquitoes began
to visit us in great numbers. The ice moved
again in the same direction, and I åseended
an hill, but could not perceive that it was
broken in the middle of the lake. The hunters killed a goose and three ducks.
Saturday, 13.—The weather was cloudy,
and the wind changeable till about sunset,
when it settled in the North. It drove back
the ice which was now very much broken
along the shore, and covered our nets. One
of the hunters who had been at the Slave
Biver the preceding evening, returned with
three beavers and fourteen geese. He was
accompanied by three families of Indians,
who left Athabasca the same day as myself:
they did not bring me any fowl; and they
pleaded in excuse, that they had travelled
with so much expedition, as to prevent them
from procuring sufficient provisions for themselves. By a meridian line, I found the
variation of the compass to be about twenty
degrees East.
Sunday, 14.—The weather was clear and
the wind remained in the same quarter.   The
ice was much broken, and driven to the side
of the lake, so that we were apprehensive for
the loss of our nets, as they could not, at
present, be extricated.    At sunset there was
an appearance  of   a violent  gust of wind
from the southward, as the sky became on a
sudden, in that quarter, of a very dusky blue
colour, and the lightning was very frequent.
But instead of wind there came ön a very
heavy rain, which promised to diminish the
quantity of broken ice.
Monday, 15.—In the morning, the bay still
continued to be so full of ice, that we could
not get at our nets. About noon, the wind
veered to the Westward, and not only uncov-
ered the nets, but cleared a passage to the
opposite islands. When we raised the nets
we found them very much shattered, and but
few fish taken. We now struck our tents,
and embarked at sunset, when we made the
traverse, which was about eight miles North-
East by North, in about two hours. At half-
past eleven P. M. we landed on a small
island and proceed to gum the canoe. At
this time the atmosphere was sufficiently
clear to admit of reading or writing without
the aid of artificial light. We had not seen
a står since the second day after we left
Athabasca. About twelve o'clock, the moon
made its appearance above the tops of the
trees, the lower horn being in a state of
eclipse, which continued for about six min-
utes, in a cloudless sky.
I took soundings three times in the course
of the traverse, when I found six fathoms
water, with a muddy bottom.
Tuesday, 16.—We  were prevented from
embarking this  morning by a very strong
wind from the North, and the väst quantity
of floating ice.    Some trout were caught with
the hook and line, but the net was not so
successful.   I had an observation which gave
61. 28. North latitude.
205 IP  i
The wind becoming moderate, we embarked
about one, taking a North-West course,
through islands of ten miles, in which we
took in a considerable quantity of water.
After making several traverses, we landed at
five P. M., and having pitched our tents, the
hooks, lines, and nets were immediately set.
During the course of the day there was occa-
sional thunder.
Wednesday, 17.—We proceeded, and taking up our nets as we passed, we found no
more than seventeen fish, and were stopped
within a mile by the ice. The Indians, however, brought us back to a point where our
fishery was very successful. They proceeded
also on a hunting party, as well as to dis-
cover a passage among the islands; but at
three in the afternoon they returned without
having succeeded in either object. We
were, however, in expectation, that, as the
wind blew very strong, it would force a
passage. About sunset, the weather became o ver east, with thunder, lightning, and
Thursday, 18.—The nets were taken up at
four this morning with abundance of fish, and
we steered North-West four miles, where the
ice again prevented our progress.    A South-
East wind drove   it among the  islands, in
such a manner as to impede our passage, and
we could perceive at some distance ahead^
that it was but little broken. We now set
our nets in four fathom water. Two of our
hunters had killed a rein-deer and its fawn.
They had met with two Indian families, and
in the evening, a man belonging to one of
them, paid us a visit; he informed me, that
the ice had not stirred on the side of the
island opposite to us. These people live
entirely on fish, and were waiting to cross
the lake as soon as it should be clear of
Friday, 19.—This morning our nets were
unproductive, as they yielded us no more
than six fish, which were of a very bad kind.
In the forenoon, the Indians proceeded to the
large island opposite to us, in search of game.
The weather was cloudy, and the wind
changeable; at the same time, we were pes-
tered by mosquitoes, though, in a great meas-
ure, surrounded with ice.
Saturday, 20.—We took up our nets, but
without any fish. It rained very härd during
the night and this morning: nevertheless, M.
Le Roux and his people went back to the
point which we had quitted on the 18th, but
I did not think it prudent to move As I was
watching for a passage through the ice, I
promised to send for them when I could ob-
tain it. It rained at intervals till about five
o?clock; when we loaded our canoe, and
§teere4 for the large island, West six miles
When we came to the point of it, we found a
great quantity of ice; we, however, set our
nets, and soon caught plenty of fish. In our
way thither we met our hunters, but they
had taken nothing. I took soundings at an
hundred yards from the island, when we were
in twenty-one fathom water. Here we found
abundance of cranberries and small spring
onions. I now despatched two men for M.
Le Roux, and his people.
Sunday, 21.—A Southerly wind blew
through the night, and drove the ice to the
Northward. The two men whom I had sent
to M. Le Roux, returned at eight this morning ; they parted with him at a small distance
from us, but the wind blew so härd, that he
was obliged to put to shore. Having a
glimpse of the sun, when it was twelve by
my watch, I found the latitude 61. 34.
North latitude. At two in the afternoon, M.
Le Roux and his people arrived. At five,
the ice being almost all driven past to the
Northward, we accordingly embarked, and
steered West fifteen miles, through much
broken ice, and on the outside of the islands,
though it appeared to be very solid to the
North-East. I sounded three times in this
distance, and found it seventy-five, f orty-four,
and sixty fathom water. We pitched our
tents on one of a duster of small islands that
were within three miles of the main land,
which we could not reach in consequence of
the ice.
We saw some rein-deer on one of these
islands, and our hunters went in pursuit of
them, when they killed five large and two
small ones, which was easily accomplished,
as the animals had no shelter to which they
could run for protection. They had, without
doubt, crossed the ice to this spöt, and the
thaw coming on had detained them there,
and made them an easy prey to the pursuer.
This island was accordingly named Isle de
I sat up the whole of this night to observe
the setting and rising of the sun. That orb
was beneath the horizon four hours twenty-
two minutes, and rose North 20. East by
compass. It, however, froze so härd, that,
during the sun?s disappearance, the water
was covered with ice half a quarter of an
inch thick.
Monday, 22.—We embarked at half past
three in the morning, and rounding the out-
side of the islands, steered North-West thir-
teen miles along the ice, edging in for the
main land, the wind West, then West two
miles; but it blew so härd as to oblige us to
land on an island  at half  past  nine, from
whence we could just distinguish land to the
South-East, at the distance of  about twelve
leagues;   though  we   could not  determine
14 209
whether it was a continuation of the islands,
or the shores of the lake.* I took an observation at noon, which gave me 61. 53. North,
the variation of the compass being, at the
same time, about two points. M. Le Roux's
people having provided two bags of pem-
micanf to be left in the island against their
return; it was called Isle a la Cache.
The wind being moderated, we proceeded
again at half past two in the afternoon, and
steering West by North among the islands,
made a course of eighteen miles. We en-
camped at eight o'clock on a small island,
and since eight in the morning had not passed
any ice. Though the weather was far from
being warm, we were tormented, and our rest
interrupted, by the höst of mosquitoes that
accompanied us.
* Sometimes the land looms, so that there may be
a great deception as to the distance; and I think this
was the case at present.
f Flesh dried in the sun, and af terwards pounded
for the convenience of carriage.
JUNE, 1789. f
Tuesday, 23.—Towards morning, the Indians who had not been able to keep up with
us the preceding day, now joined us, and
brought two swans and a goose. At half past
three we re-embarked, and steering West by
North a mile and an half, with. a Northerly
wind, we came to the f oot of a traverse across
a deep bay, West five miles, which receives a
considerable river at the bottom of it; the
distance about twelve miles. The North-
West side of the bay was covered with many
small islands that were surrounded with ice;
but the wind driving it a little on° the land,
we had a clear passage on the inside of them.
We steered South-West nine miles under sail,
then North-West nearly, through the islands,
f orming a course of sixteen miles. We landed
on the main land at half past two in the aft-
ernoon at three lodges of Red-Knife Indians,
so called from their copper knives. They
informed us, that there were many more
lodges of their friends at no great distance;
and one of the Indians set off to fetch them:
they also said, that we should see no more of
them at present; as the Slave and Beaver In-
dians, as well as others of the tribe, would
not be here till the time that the swans east
their feathers. In the afternoon it rained a
Wednesday, 24-—M. Le Roux purchased
of these Indians upwards of eight packs of
good beaver and marten skins; and there
were not above twelve of them qualified to
kiU beaver. The English chief got upwards
of an hundred skins on the score of debts due
to him, of which he had many outstanding
in this country. Förty of them he ga ve on
account of debts due by him since the winters
of 1786 and 1787, at the Slave Lake; the
rest he exchanged for rum and other necessary artides; and I added a small quantity
of that liquor as an encouraging present to
him and his young men. I had several con-
sultations with these Copper Indian people,
but could obtain no information that was material to our expedition; nor were they ac-
quainted with any part of the river, which
was the object of my research, but the mouth
of it. In order to save as much time as pos-
sible in circumnavigating the bays, I engaged
one of the Indians to conduct us; and I ac-
cordingly equipped him with various artides
of clothing, etc. I also purchased a large
new canoe, that he might embark with the
two young Indians in my service.
This day, at noon, 1  i ook an observation,
which gave me 62. 24. North latitude;
the variation of the compass being about
twenty-six or twenty-seven degrees to the
In the afternoon I assembled the Indians,
in order to inform them that I should take
my departure on the following day; but that
people would remain on the spöt till their
countrymen, whom they had mentioned,
should arrive; and that, if they brought a
sufficient quantity of skins to make it answer,
the Canadians would return for more goods,
with a view to winter here, and build a fort,*
which would be continued as long as they
should be found to deserve it. They assured
me that it would be a great encouragement to
them to have a settlement of ours in their
country; and that they should exert themselves to the utmost to kill beaver, as they
would then be certain of getting an adequate
value for them. Hitherto, they said, the
Chepewyans always pillaged them; or, at
most, gave little or no thing for the fruits of
their labour, which had greatly discouraged
them; and that, in consequence of this treat-
ment, they had no motive to pursue the
beaver, but to obtain a sufficient quantity of
food and raiment.
I now wrote to Messrs. Macleod and Mac-
* Fort is the name given to any establishment in
this country.
kenzie,   and  addressed my papers   to  the
former, at Athabasca.
Thursday, 25.—We left this place at three
this morning, our canoe being deeply laden,
as we had embarked some packages that had
come in the canoes of M. Le Roux. We
were saluted on our departure with ~;ome vol-
leys of small arms, which we returned, and
steered South by West straight across the
bay, which is here no more than two miles
and a half broad, but, from the accounts of
the natives, it is fifteen leagues in depth,
with a much greater breadth in several parts,
and full of islands. I sounded in the course
of the traverse and found six fathom s with a
sandy bottom. Here, the land has a very
different appearance from that on which we
have been since we entered the lake. Till
we arrived here there was one continued view
of high hills and islands of solid rock, whose
surface was occasionally enlivened with möss,
shrubs, and a few scattered trees, of a very
stinted growth, from an insuniciency of soil
to nourish them. But, notwithstanding their
barren appearance, almost every part of them
produces berries of various kinds, such as
cranberries, juniper berries, raspberries, partridge berries, gooseberries, and the pathe-
gomenan, which is something like a raspberry;
it grows on a small stalk about a foot and a
half high, in wet, mossy spöts.   These fruits
are in great abundance, though they are not
to be found in the same places, but in situations and aspects suited to their pecuiiar na-
The land which borders the lake in this
part is loose and sandy, but is well covered
with wood, composed of trees of a larger
growth: it gradually rises from the shore,
and at some distance forms a ridge of high
land running along the coast, thick with
wood and a rocky summit rising above it.
We steered South-South-East nine miles,
when  we  were  very much  interrupted by
drifting ice, and with some difficulty reached
an island, where we landed at seven.    I im-
mediately proceeded to the further part of it,
in order to discover if there was any proba-
bility of our being able to get from thence
in the course of the day.    It is about five
miles in circumference, and I was very much
surprised to find that the greater part of the
wood with which it was formerly covered,
had been cut down within twelve or fifteen
years, and that the remaining stumps were
become altogether  rotten.    On  making in-
quiry concerning the cause of  this extraor-
dinary circumstance, the English chief in-
formed me, that several winters ago, many of
the Slave Indians inhabited the islands that
were scattered över the bay, as the surround-
ing waters abound with fish throughout the
year, but that they had been driven away
by the Knisteneaux, who continually made
war upon them. If an establishment is to be
made in this country, it must be in the neigh-
bourhood of this place, on account of the
wood and fishery.
At eleven we ventured to re-embark, as the
wind had driven the greatest part of the ice
past the island, though we still had to en-
counter some broken pieces of it, which
threatened to damage our canoe. We steered
South-East from point to point» across five
bays, twenty-one miles. We took soundings
several times, and found from six to ten
fathom water. I observed that the country
gradually descended inland, and was still
better covered with wood than in the higher
parts.—Wherever we approached the land,
we perceived deserted lodges. The hunters
killed two swans and a beaver; and at length
we landed at eight o'clock in the evening,
when we unloaded and gummed our canoe.
Friday, 26.—We continued our route  at
five o'clock, steering South-East for ten miles
across two  deep  bays;   then  South-South-
East, with islands in sight to the Eastward.
We then traversed another bay in a course of
three miles, then South one mile to a point
which we named the Detour, and South-South-
West four miles and an half, when there was
an heavy swell of the lake.    Here I took an
observation, when we were in 61 40. North
latitude We then proceeded South-West
four miles, and West-SouthWest among
islands: on one of which our Indians killed
two rein-deer, but we löst three hours aft
wind in going for them: this course was nine
miles. About seven in the evening we were
obliged to land for the night, as the wind became too strong from the South-East. We
thought we could observe land in this direction when the wind was coming on from some
distance. On the other side of the Detour,
the land is low, and the shore is Ilat and dangerous, there being no safe place to land in
bad weather, except in the islands which we
had just passed. There seemed to be plenty
of moose and rein-deer in this country, as we
saw their träeks wherever we landed. There
are also great numbers of white partridges,
which were at this season of a grey colour,
like that of the moor-fowl. There was some
floating ice in the lake, and the Indians killed
a couple of swans.
Saturday, 27.—At three this morning we
were in the canoe, after having passed a very
restless night from the persecution of the
mosquitoes The weather was fine and calm,
and our course West-South-West nine miles,
when we came to the foot of a traverse, the
opposite point in  sight bearing South-West,
distance twelve miles.    The  bay is at least
eight miles deep, and this course two miles
more, in all ten miles.    It now became very
foggy, and as the bays were so numerous, we
landed for two hours,  when   the  weather
cleared up, and we took the advantage of
steering  South  thirteen  miles,   and passed
several small  bays, when  we came to the
point of a very deep one, whose  extremity
was not discernible; the land bearing South
from us, at the distance of about ten miles.
Our guide not having been here for eight
winters, was at a loss what course to take,
though as well as he could recollect, this bay
appeared to be the entrance of the river.
Accordingly, we steered down it, about West-
South-West, till we were involved in a field
of broken ice.    We still could not discover
the bottom of the bay, and a fog coming on,
made  it very difficult for us  to  get to an
island to the South-West, and it was nearly
dark when we effected a landing
Sunday, 28.—At a quarter past three we
were  again on  the water, and as we could
perceive no current setting into this bay, we
made the best of our way to the point that
bore South from us yesterday afternoon.    We
continued our course South three miles more,
South  by West  seven miles,   West fifteen
miles, when by observation we were in 61 de-
grees North   latitude;   we  then proceeded
West-North-West two miles.    Here we came
to the foot of a traverse, the opposite land
bearing South-West, distance fourteen miles,
when we steered into a deep bay, about a
westerly course; and though we had no land
ahead in sight, we indulged the hope of find-
mg a passage, which, according to the Indian,
would conduct us to the entrance of the river.
Having a strong wind aft, we löst sight of
the Indians, nor could we put on shoré to
wait for them, without risking material dam-
age to the canoe, till we ran to the bottom of
the bay, and were forced among the rushes;
when we discovered that there was no passage there. In about two or three hours they
joined us, but would not approach our fire,
as there was no good ground for an encampment : they emptied their canoe of the water
which it had taken in, and continued their
route, but did not encamp till sunset The
English chief was very much irritated against
the Red-Knife Indian, and even threatened
to murder him, for having undertaken to
guide us in a course of which he was ignorant;
nor had we any reason to be satisfied with
him, though he still continued to encourage
us, by declaring that he recollected having
passed from the river, through the woods, to
the place where he had landed. In the blow-
ing weather to-day, we were obliged to make
use of  our large  kettle, to keep our canoe
from filling, although we did not carry above
three feet sail. The Indians very narrowly
Monday, 29.—We embarked at four this
morning, and steered along the South-West
side of the bay. At half past five we reached
the extremity of the point, which we doubled,
and found it to be the branch or passage that
was the obiect of our search, and occasioned
by a very long island, which separates it
from the main channel of the river. It is
about half a mile across, and not more than
six feet in depth; the water appeared to
abound in fish, and was covered with fowl,
such as swans, geese, and several kinds of
ducks, particularly black ducks, that were
very numerous, but we could not get within
gun shot of them.
The current, though not very strong, set us
South-West by West, and we followed this
course f ourteen miles, till we passed the point
of the long island, where the Slave Lake dis-
charges itself, and is ten miles in breadth.
There  is not more than from  five  to two
fathom water, so that when the lake is low,
it may be presumed the greatest part of this
channel must be dry.    The river now turns
to the Westward, becoming gradually nar-
rower for twenty-four miles,  till it is not
more than half  a mile wide; the current,
however, is then much  stronger, and the
sounding were three fathom and a half.   The
land on the North shore from the lake is low,
and covered with trees; that to the South is
much higher, and has also an abundance of
wood.    The current is very strong, and the
banks are of an equal height on both sides,
consisting of a yellow clay, mixed with small
stones; they are covered with large quanti-
ties of burned wood, lying on the ground,
and young poplar trees, that have sprung up
since the fire that destroyed the larger wood.
It is a very curious and extraordinary circum-
stance, that land covered with  spruce pine,
and  white birch, when laid waste by fire,
should  subsequently  produce   nothing   but
poplars, where none of that species of tree
were previously to be found.
A stiff breeze from the Eastward drove us
on at  a great råte under sail, in the same
course, though  obliged to wind among the
islands.    We kept the  North  channel  for
about ten  miles,   whose   current   is   much
stronger than that of the South; so that the
latter is consequently the better road to come
up.    Here the river widened,  and the wind
dying away, we had recourse to our paddles.
We kept our course  to the North-West, on
the North side of the river, which is here
much wider, and assumes the form of a small
lake;  we could not,   however,  discover an
opening in any direction, so that we were at
a loss what course to take, as our Red-Knife
I 221 I'
Indian had never explored beyond our present
situation. He at the same time informed us
that a river falls in from the North, which
takes its rise in the Horn Mountain, now in
sight, which is the country of the Beaver Indians; and that he and his relations frequently meet on that river. He also added,
that there are very extensive plains on both
sides of it, which abound in buffaloes and
moose deer.
By keeping this course, we got into shal-
lows, so that We were forced to steer to the
left, till we recovered deep water, which we
followed till the channel of the river opened
on us to the southward, we now made for the
shore, and encamped soon after sunset. Our
course ought to have been West fifteen miles,
since we took to the paddle, the Horn Mountains bearing from us North-West, and running North-North-East and South-South-
West. Our soundings, which were frequent
during the course of the day, were from three
to six fathoms water. The hunters killed
two geese and a swan: it appeared, indeed,
that great numbers of fowls breed in the
islands which we had passed*
Tuesday, 30.—At four this morning we got
under way, the weather being fine and calm.
Our course was South-West by South thirty-
six miles.    On the South side of the river is
a ridge of low mountains, running East and
West by compass. The Indians picked up a
white goose, which appeared to have been
lately shot with an arrow, and was quite
fresh. We proceeded South-West by South
six miles, and then came to a bay on our left,
which is full of small islands, and appeared
to be the entrahce of a river from the South.
Here the ridge of mountains terminates.
This course was fifteen miles.
At six in the afternoon there was an appearance of bad weather; we landed there-
fore, for the night; but before we could pitch
our tents, a violent tempest came on, with
thunder, lightning, and rain, which, however,
soon ceased, but not before we had suffered
the inconvenience of being drenched by it.
The Indians were very much fatigued, having
been employed in running after wild fowl,
which had lately east their feathers; they,
however, caught five swans, and the same
number of geese. I sounded several times
in the course of the day, and found from four
to six fathoms water.
JULY, 1789.
Wednesday, 1. At half pa*st four in the
morning we continued our voyage, and in a
short time found the river narrow ed to about
half a mile. Our course was Westerly among
islands, with a strong current. Though the
land is high on both sides, the banks are not
perpendicular. This course was twenty-one
miles; and on sounding we found nine fathoms
water. We then proceeded West-North-West
nine miles, and passed a river upon the
South-East side; we sounded, and found
twelve fathoms; and then we went North-
West by West three miles. Here I löst my
lead, which had fastened at the bottom, with
part of the line, the current running so strong
that wé could not clear i': with eight paddles,
and the strength of the line, which was equal
to four paddles. Continued North by West
five miles, and saw a high mountain, bearing
South from us; we then proceeded North-
West by North four miles. We now passed
a small river on the North side, then doubled
a point to West-South-West. At one o'clock
there came on lightning and thunder, with
wind and rain, which ceased in about half an
hour, and left us almost deluged with wet,
as we did not land. There were great quan-
tities of ice along the banks ( i tho river.
We landed upon a small island, where there
were the poles of four lodges standing, which
we concluded to havo belonged to the Knisteneaux, on their war excursions, six or seven
years ago. This eon-sc was fifteen miles
West, to where the river of the Mountain
falls in from the Southward0 I1: appears to
be a very large river, whoso mouth is half a
mile broad. About six miles further a small
river flows in the same direction; and our
whole course was twenty-four miles. We
landed opposite to an island, the mountains
to the Southward being in sight. As our
canoe was deeply laden, and being also in
daily expectation of coming to the rapids or
fall, which we had been taught to consider
with apprehension, we concealed two bags of
pemmican in the opposite island, in the hope
that they would be of future service to us.
The Indians were of a different opinion, as
they entertained no expectation of returning
that season, when the hidden provisions
would be spoiled. Near us were two Indian
encampments of the last year. By the man-
ner in which these people cut their wood, it
appears that they have no iron tools. The
current was very strong during the whole of
this day's voyage, and in the artide of pro-
15 225
visions two swans were all that the hunters
were able to procure.
Thursday, 2.—The morning was very
foggy: but at half past five we embarked; it
cleared np, however, at seven, when we dis-
covered that the water, from being very lim-
pid and clear, was become dark and muddy.
This alteration must have proceeded from the
influx of some river to the Southward, but
where these streams first blended their waters, the fog had prevented us from observ-
ing. At nine we perceived a very high mountain ahead, which appeared, on our nearer
approach, to be rather a duster of mountains,
stretching as far as our view could reach to
the Southward, and whose tops were löst in
the clouds. At noon there was lightning,
thunder, and rain, and at one, we came
abreast of the mountains; their summits appeared to be barren and rocky, but their de-
clivities were covered with wood; they appeared also to be sprinkled with white stones,
which glistened in the sun, and were called
by the Indians manetoe aseniahy or spirit
stones. I suspected that they were Talc,
though they possessed a more brilliant white-
ness; on our return, however, these appear-
ances were dissolved, as they were nothing
more than patches of snow.
Our  course  had   been West-South-West
thirty miles and we proceeded  with great
caution, as we continually expected to ap-
proach some great rapid or fall. This was
such a prevalent idea, that all of us were oc-
casionally persuaded that we heard those
sounds which betokened a fall of water. Our
course changed to West by North, along the
mountains, twelve miles, North by West,
twenty-one miles, and at eight t>'clock in the
evening, we went on shore for the night, on
the North side of the river. We saw several
encampments of the natives, some of which
had been erected in the present spring, and
others at some former period. The hunters
killed only one swan and a beaver; the latter
was the first of its kind which we had seen
in this river. The Indians complained of the
perseverance with which we pushed forward,
and that they were not accustomed to such
se ver e fatigue as it occasioned.
Friday, 3.—The rain was continual through
the night, and did not subside till seven this
morning, when we embarked and steered
North-North-West for twelve miles, the river
being enclosed by high mountains on either
side. We had a strong head-wind, and the
rain was so violent as to compel us to land at
ten o?clock. According to my reckoning,
since my last observation, we had run two
hundred and seventeen miles West, and förty -
four miles North.   At a quarter past two the
rain subsided, and we got again under way,
our former course continuing for fiye miles.
Here a river fell in from the North, and in a
short time the current became strong and
rapid, running with great rapidity among
rocky islands, which were the first that we
had seen in this river, and indicated our near
approach to rapids and falls. Our present
course was North-West by North ten miles,
North-West three miles, West-North-West
twelve miles, and North-West three miles,
when we encamped at eight in the evening, at
the foot of an high hill, on the North shore,
which in some parts rose perpendicular from
the river. I immediately ascended it, accompanied by two men and some Indians, and
in about an hour and an half, with very härd
walking, we gained the summit, when I was
very much surprised to find it crowned by an
encampment. The Indians inf ormed me, that
it is the custom of the people who have no
arms to choose these elevated spöts for the
places of their residence, as they can render
them inaccessible to their enemies, particularly the Knisteneaux, of whom they are in
continual dread. The prospect from this
height was not so extensive as we expected,
as it was terminated by a circular range of
hills, of the same elevation as that on which
we stood. The intervals between the hills
were  covered with small lakes, which were
inhabited by great numbers of swans.    We,
saw no trees but the pine and the birch, which
were small in size and few in number.
We were obliged to shorten our stay here,
from the swarms of mosquitoes which at-
tacked us on all sides and were, indeed, the
only inhabitants of the place. We saw several encampments of the natives in the course
of the day, but none of them were of this
year?s establishment. Since four in the after-
noon the current had been so strong, that it
was at length, in an actual ebullition, and
produced an hissing noise like a kettle of
water in a moderate state of boiling. The
weather was now become extremely cold,
which was the more sensibly felt, as it had
been very sultry sometime before and since
we had been in the river.
Saturday, 4- At five in the morning, the
wind and weather having undergone no alter-
ation from yesterday, we proceeded North-
West by West twenty-two miles, North-West
six miles, North-West by North four miles
and West-North-West five miles; we then
passed the mouth of a small river from the
North, and after doubling a point, South-
West one mile, we passed the influx of another river from the South. We then continued our course North-North-West, with a
mountain ahead, fifteen miles, when the open-
ing of two rivers appeared opposite to each
other: we then proceeded West four miles,
0 h
and North-West thirteen miles. At eight
in the evening, we encamped on an island.
The current was as strong through the whole
of this day as it had been the preceding af ter-
noon; nevertheless, a quantity of ice appeared
along the banks of the river. The hunters
killed a beaver and a goose, the former of
which sunk before they could get to him:
beavers, otters, bears, etc, if shot dead at
once, remain like a bladder, but if there re-
mains enough of life for them to struggle,
they soon fill with water and go to the bottom.
Sunday, 5. The sun set last night at fifty-
three minutes past nine, by my watch, and
rose at seven minutes before two this morn-
iing: we embarked soon after, steering North-
North-West, through islands for five miles,
and West four miles. The river then in-
creased in breadth, and the current began to
slacken in a small degree; after the continu-
ation of our course, we perceived a ridge of
high mountains before us, covered with snow.
West-South-West ten miles, and at three-
quarters past seven o?clock, we saw several
smokes on the North shore, which we made
every exertion to approach. As we drew
nearer, we discovered the natives running
about in great apparent confusion; some were
making to the woods, and others hurrying to
their canoes.    Our hunters landed before us,
and addressed the few that had not escaped,
in the Chipewyan language, which, so great
was their confusion and terror, they did not
appear to understand. But when they per-
ceived that it was impossible to avoid us, as
we were all landed, they made us signs to
keep at a distance, with which we complied,
and not only unloaded our canoe, but pitched
our tents, before we made any attempt to ap-
proach them. During this interval, the English chief and his young men were employed
in reconciling them to our arrival; and when
they had recovered from their alarm of hos-
tile intention, it appeared that some of them
perfectly comprehended the language of our
Indians; so that they were at length per-
suaded, though not without evident signs of
reluctance and apprehension, to come to us.
Their reception, however, soon dissipated
their fears, and they hastened to call their
fugitive companions from their hiding places.
There were five families, consisting of
twenty-five or thirty persons, and of two dif-
ferent tribes, the Slave and Dog-rib Indians.
We made them smoke, though it was evident they did not know the use of tobacco;
we likewise supplied them with grog; but I
am disposed to think, that they accepted our
eivilities rather from fear than inclination.
We acquired a more effectual influence över
them by the distribution of knives, beads,
j^V" »''fir
awls, rings, gartering, fire-steels, flints, and
hatchets; so that they became more familiar
even than we expected, for we could not keep
them out of our tents: though I did not ob-
serve that they attempted to purloin  any-
The information which they gave respect-
ing the river, had so much of the fabulous,
that I shall not detail it: it will be suificient
just to men tion their attempts to persuade
us that it would require several winters to
get to the sea, and that old age would come
upon us before the period of our return: we
were also to encounter monsters of such horrid shapes and destructive powers as could
only exist in their wild imaginations. They
added, besides, that there were two impass-
able falls in the river, the first of which was
about thirty days' march from us.
Though I placed no faith in these stränge
relations, they had a very different effect
upon our Indians, who were already tired of
the voyage. It was their opinion and anx-
ious wish, that we should not hesitate to return. They said that, according to the information which they had received, there
were very few animals ih the country beyond
us, and that as we proceeded, the scarcity
would increase, and we should absolutely
perish from hunger, if no other accident be-
fel us.    It was with no small trouble that
they were convinced of the folly of these
reasonings; and by my desire, they induced
one of those Indians to accompany us, in
consideration of a small kettle, an axe, a
knife, and some other artides.
Though it was now three o?clock in the
afternoon, the canoe was ordered to be re-
loaded, and as we were ready to embark our
new recruit was desired to prepare himself
for his departure, which he would have de-
dined; but as none of his friends would take
his place, we may be said, after the delay of
an hour, to have compelled him to embark.
Previous to his departure a ceremony took
place, of which I could not learn the mean-
ing; he cut off a lock of his hair, and having
divided it into three parts, he fastened one of
them to the hair on the upper part of his
wife?s head, blowing on it three times with
the utmost violen ce in his power, and utter-
ing certain words. The other two he fastened
with the same formalities, on the heads of
his two children.
During our short stay with these people,
they amused us with dancing, which they
accompanied with their voices: but neither
their song or their dance possessed much
variety. The men and women formed a pro-
miscuous ring. The former have a bone dag-
ger or piece of stick between the fingers of
the  right hand, which they keep extended
above the head, in continual motion: the
left they seldom raise so high, but work it
backwards and forwards in a horizontal direction; while they leap about and throw
themselves into various antic postures, to the
measure of their music, always bringing their
heels close to each other at every pause. The
men occasionally howl in imitation of some
animal, and he who continues this violent
exercise for the longest period, appears to be
considered as the best performer. The women
suffer their arms to häng as without the
power of motion. They are a meagre, ugly,
ill-made people, particularly about the legs,
which are very clumsy and covered with
scabs. The latter circumstance proceeds
probably from their habitually roasting them
before the fire. Many of them appeared to
be in a very unhealthy state, which is owing,
as I inmgine, to their natural filthiness. They
are of a moderate stature, and as far as could
be discovered, through the coat of dirt and
grease that covers them, are of a fairer com-
plexion than the generality of Indians who
are the natives of warmer climates.
Some of them have their hair of a great
length; while others suffer a long tress to
fall behind, and the rest is cut so short as to
exposé their ears, but no other attention
whatever is paid to it.    The beards of some
of the old men were long, jmd the rest had
them pulled out by the roots  so that not a
hair could be seen on their chins.    The men
have two double lines, either black or blue,
tattooed upon each cheek, from the ear to the
nose.    The gristle of the latter is perforated
so as to admit a goose-quill or a small piece
of  wood to be passed through  the  orifice.
Their clothing is made of the dressed skins of
the rein or moose-deer, though more com-
monly of the former.    These they prepare in
the hair for winter, and make shirts of both,
which reach to the middle of their thighs.
Some of them are decorated with an embroid-
ery of very neat workmanship with porcupine
quills and the hair of  the  moose, coloured
red, black, yellow, and white.    Their upper
garments are sufficientiy large to cover the
whole body, with a fringe round the bottom,
and are used both sleeping and awake.   Their
leggins come half way up the thigh, and are
sewed to their shoes: they are embroidered
round the ancle, and upon every seam.    The
dress of the women is the same as that of the
men.    The former have no covering on their
private parts, except a tassel of leather which
dangles from a small cord, as it appears, to
keep on° the flies, which would otherwise be
very troublesome.    Whether circumcision be
practised among them, I cannot pretend to
say, but  the  appearance of  it was  general
among those whom I saw.
Their ornaments consisfc of gorgets, brace-
lets for the arms and wrists, made of wood,
horn, or bone, belts, garters, and a kind of
band to go round the head, composed of
strips of leather of one inch and an half
broad, embroidered with porcupine quills,
and stuck round with the claws of bears or
wild fowl inverted, to which are suspended a
few short thongs of the skin of an animal
that resembles the ermine, in the form of a
tassel. Their cinctures and garters are formed
of porcupine quills woven with sinews, in a
style of peculiar skill and neatness: they
have others of different materials, and more
ordinary workmanship; and to both they at-
tach a long Linge of strings of leather,
worked round with hair of various colours.
Their mittens are also suspended from the
neck in a position convenient for the reception of the hands.
Their lodges are of a very simple structure:
a few poles supported by a fork, and forming
a semicircle at the bottom, with some branches
or a piece of bark as a covering, constitutes
the whole of their native architecture. They
build two of these huts f acing each other, and
make the fire between them. The furniture
harmonises with the buildings: they have a
few dishes of wood, bark, or horn; the vessels in which they cook their victuals are in
the shape of a gourd, narrow at the top and
wide at the bottom, and of watape,* fabri-
cated in such a manner as to hold water,
which is made to boil by putting a succession
of red-hot stones into it. These vessels con-
tain from two to six gallons. They have a
number of small leather bags to hold their
embroidered work, lines, and nets. They
always keep a large quantity of the fibres of
willow bark, which they work into thread on
their thighs. Their nets are from three to
förty fathoms in length, and from thirteen to
thirty-six inches in depth. The short deep
ones they set in the eddy current of rivers,
and the long ones in the lakes. They like-
wise make lines of the sinews of the rein-deer,
and manufacture their hooks from wood,
horn, or bone. Their arms and weapons for
hunting, are bows and arrows, spears, daggers, and pogamagans, or clubs. The bows
are about five or six feet in length, and the
strings are of sinews or raw skins. The arrows are two feet and an half long, including
the barb, which is variously formed of bone,
horn, flint, iron, or copper, and are winged
with three feathers.    The pole of the spears
* Watape is the name given to the divided roots
of the spruce fir, which the natives weave into a de-
gree of compactness that renders it capable of con-
taining a fluid. The different parts of the bark
canoes are also sewed together with this kind of fila-
is about six feet in length, and pointed with a
barbed bone of ten inches. With this weapon
they strike the rein-deer in the water. The
daggers are flat and sharp -pointed, about
twelve inches long, and made of horn or bone.
The pogamagon is made of the horn of the
rein-deer, the branches being all cut off, except that which forms the extremity. This
instrument is about two feet in length, and
is employed to despatch their enemies in
battle, and such animals as they catch in
snares placed for that purpose. These are
about three fathom long, and are made of the
green skin of the rein or moose-deer, but in
such small strips, that it requires from ten to
thirty strands to make this cord, which is
not thicker than a cod-line; and strong
enough to resisb any animal that can be en-
tangled in it. Snares or nooses are also made
of sinews to take lesser animals, such as
hares and white partridges, which are very
numerous. Their axes are manufactured of
a piece of brown or grey stone from six to
eight inches long, and two inches thick. The
inside is flat, and the outside round and
tapering to an edge, an inch wide. They are
fastened by the middle with the flat side in-
wards to a handle two feet long, with a cord
of green skin. This is the tool with which
they split their wood, and we believe, the
only one of its kind among them.    They
kindle fire, by striking together a piece of
white or yellow pyrites and a flint stone, över
a piece of touchwood. They are universally
provided with a small bag containing these
materials, so that they are in a continual
state of preparation to produce fire. From
the adjoining tribes, the Red-Knives and
Chepewyans, they procure, in barter for
marten skins and a few beaver, small pieces
of iron, of which they manufacture knives,
by fixing them at the end of a short stick,
and with them and the beaver's teeth, they
finish all their work. They keep them in a
sheath hanging to their neck, which also con-
tains their awls both of iron and horn.
Their canoes are small, pointed at both
en ds, fiat-bottomed and covered in the före
part. They are made of the bark of the
birch-tree and fir-wood, but of so slight a con-
struction, that the man whom one of these
light vessels bears on the water, can, in return, carry it över land without any difii-
culty. It is very seldom that more than one
person embarks in them, nor are they capable
of receiving more than two. The paddles
are six feet long, one half of which is occu-
pied by a blade of about eight inches wide.
These people informed us, that we had passed
large bodies of Indians who inhabit the mountains on the east side of the river.
At four in the afternoon we embarked, and
our Indian acquaintance promised to remain
on the bank of the river till the fall, in case
we should return. Our course was West-
South-West, and we soon passed the Great-
Bear-Lake Biver, which is of a considerable
depth, and a hundred yards wide: its water
is clear, and has the greenish hue of the sea.
We had not proceeded more than six miles
when we were obliged to land for the night,
in consequence of an heavy gust of wind, accompanied with rain. We encamped beneath
a rocky hill, on the top of which, according
to the information of our guide, it blew a
storm every day throughout the year. He
found himself very uncomfortable in his new
situation, and pretended that he was very ill,
in order that he might be permitte d to return
to his relations. To prevent his escape it became necessary to keep a strict watch över
him during the night.
Monday, 6.—At three o'clock, in a very
raw and cloudy morning, we embarked, and
steered West-South-West four miles, West
four miles, West-North-West five miles,
West eight miles, West by South, sixteen
miles, West twenty-seven miles, South-West
nine miles, then West six miles, and encamped at half past seven. We passed
through numerous islands, and had the ridge
of  snowy mountains always in sight.    Our
conductor informed us that great numbers of
bears and small white buffaloes frequent those
mountains, which are also inhabited by Indians. We encamped in a similar situation
to that of the preceding evening, beneath another high rocky hill, which I attempted to
ascend, in company with one of the hunters,
but before we had got half way to the sum-
mit, we were almost suffocated by clouds of
mosquitoes, and were obliged to return. I
observed, however, that a river flowed from
the Westward: I also discovered a strong
rippling current or rapid which ran close under a steep precipice of the hill.
Tuesday, 7.—We embarked at four in the
morning, and crossed to the opposite side of
the river, in consequence of the rapid; but
we might have spared ourselves this trouble,
as there would have been no danger in con-
tinuing our course, without any circuitous
deviation whatever. This circumstance con-
vinced us of the erroneous account given by
the natives of the great and approaching
dangers of our navigation, as this rapid was
stated to be one of them. Our course was
now North-North-West three miles. West-
North-West four miles, North-West ten
miles, North two miles, when we came to a
river that flowed from the Eastward. Here
we landed at an encampment of four fires, all
the inhabitants of which ran off with the utmost speed, except an old man and an old
16 241
woman. Our guide called aloud to the f ugi-
tives, and entreated them to stay, but without effect: the old man, however, did not
hesitate to approach us, and represented himself as too far advanced in life, and too in-
different about the short time he had to remain in the world, to be very anxious about
escaping from any danger that threatened
him; at the same time he pulled his grey
hairs from his head by handfuls to distribute
among us, and implored our favour for himself and his relations. Our guide, however,
at length removed his f ears, and persuaded
him to recall the fugitives, who consisted of
eighteen people; whom I reconciled to me on
their return with presents of beads, knives,
awls, &c, with which they appeared to be
greatly delighted. They differed in no re-
spect from those whom we had already seen;
nor were they deficient in hospitable atten-
tions; they provided us with fish, which was
very well boiled, and cheerf ully accepted by us.
Our guide still sickened after his home, and
was so anxious to return thither, that we were
under the necessity of f orcing him to embark.
These people inf ormed us that we were close
to another great rapid, and that there were
several lodges of their relations in its vicinity.
Four canoes, with a man in each, followed
us, to point out  the particular channels we
should follow for the secure passage of th$
rapid. They also abounded in discouraging
stories concerning the dangers and difficulties
which we were to encounter.
From hence our course Was North-North-
East two miles, when the river appeared to
be enclosed, as it were, with lofty, perpen-
dicular, white rocks, which did not afford us
a very agreeable prospect. We now went on
shore, in order to examine the rapid, but did
not perceive any signs of it, though the Indians still continued to magnify its dangers:
however, as they ventured down it, in their
small canoes, our apprehensions were conse-
quently removed, and we followed them at
some distance, but did not find any increase
in the rapidity of the current; at length the
Indians informed us that we should find no
other rapid but that which was now bearing
us along. The river at this place is not above
three hundred yards in breadth, but on sound-
ing I found fifty fathoms water. At the two
rivulets that offer their tributary streams from
either side, we found six families, consisting
of about thirty-five persons, who gave us an
ample quantity of excellent fish, which were,
however, confined to white fish, the poisson
inconnu, and another of a round form and
greenish colour, which was about fourteen
inches in length. We gratified them with a
few presents, and continued our voyage.   The
men, however, followed us in fifteen canoes.
This narrow channel is three miles long,
and its course North-North-East.    We then
steered North three miles, and landed at an
encampment of three or more families, con-
taining twenty-two persons, which was situ-
ated on the bank of a river, of a considerable
appearance, which came from the Eastward.
We obtained hares and partridges from these
people, and presented in return such artides
as greatly delighted them.    They very much
regretted that they had no goods or mer-
chandise to exchange with  us,   as  they had
left them at a lake, from whence the river is-
sued,  and in whose vicinity some of their
people were employed in setting snares for
rein-deer.    They engaged to go for their artides of  trade,  and would wait our return,
which we assumed them would be within two
months.    There was a youth among them in
the  capacity of a slave, whom our Indians
understood much better than any of the natives of this country whom they had yet seen;
he was invited to accompany us, but took the
first opportunity to conceal himself, and we
saw him no more.
We now steered West five miles, when we
again landed, and found two families, con-
taining seven people, but had reason to be-
lieve 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 also gave us.    We were not
ungrateful for their kindness, and left them.
Our course was now North-West four miles,
and at nine we landed and pitched our tents,
when one of our people killed a grey crane.
Our conductor renewed his complaints, not,
as he assured us, from any apprehension of
our ill-treatment,   but of   the   Esquimaux,
whom he represented as a very wicked and
malignant people; who would put us all to
death.    He added, also, that it was but two
summers since a large party of them came up
this river, and killed many of his relations.
Two Indians followed us from the last lodges.
Wednesday, 8.—At  half  past two in the
morning we embarked, and steered a Westerly
course,   and  soon after  put  ashore  at two
lodges of nine Indians.    We made them a
few trifling presents, but without disembark-
ing, and had proceeded but a small distance
from   thence,   when   we   observed   several
smokes beneath a hill, on the North shore,
and on our approach we perceived the natives
climbing the ascent to gain the woods.    The
Indians, however, in the two  small canoes
which were ahead of us, having assured them
of our friendly intentions, they returned to
their fires, and we disembarked.    Several of
them were clad in hare-skins, but in every
other   circumstance   they   resembled   those
whom we had already seen.    We were, how-
ever, informed that they were of a different
tribe, called the Hare Indians, as hares and
fish are their principal support, from the
scarcity 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 abscess in
the belly, and reduced, in consequence, to a
mere skeleton: at the same time several old
women were singing and howling around her;
but whether these noises were to operate as
a charm for her cure, or merely to amuse and
console her, I do not pretend to determine.
A small quantity of our usual presents were
received by them with the greatest satisfac-
Here we made an exchange of our guide,
who had become so troublesome that we were
obliged to watch him night and day, except
when he was upon the water. The man,
however, who had agreed to go in his place
soon repented of his engagement, and en-
deavoured to persuade us that some of his relations further down the river, would readily
accompany us, and were much better ac-
quainted with the river than himself. But,
as he had informed us ten minutes before
that we should see no more of his tribe, we
paid very little attention to his remonstrances,
and compelled him to embark.
In about three hours a man overtook us in
a canoe, and we suspected that his object was
to facilitate, in some way or other, the escape
of our conductor. About twelve we also observed an Indian walking along the North-
East shore, when the small canoes paddled
towards him. We accordingly followed, and
found three men, three women, and two children, who had been on an hunting expedition.
They had some flesh of the rein-deer, which
they offered to us, but it was so rotten, as
well as offensive to the smell, that we ex-
cused ourselves from accepting it. They had
also their wonderful stories of danger and
terror, as well as their countrymen, whom we
had already seen; and we were now informed,
that behind the opposite island there was a
Manitoe or spirit, in the river, which swal-
lowed every person that approached it. As
it would have employed half a day to have
indulged our curiosity in proceeding to ex-
amine this phenomenon, we did not deviate
from our course, but left these people with
the usual presents, and proceeded on our
voyage. Our course and distance this day
were West twenty-eight miles, West-North-
West twenty-three miles, West-South-West
six miles, West by North five miles, South-
West four miles, and encamped at eight
o'clock.    A fog prevailed the greater part of
the day, with frequent showers of small rain.
JULY, 1789.
Thursday, 9.—Thunder and rain prevailed
during the night, and, in the course of it, our
guide deserted; we therefore compelled an-
otheT of these people, very much against his
will, to supply the place of his fugitive coun-
tryman. We also took away the paddles of
one of them who remained behind, that he
might not follow us on any scheme of promot-
ing the escape of his companion, who was not
easily pacified. At length, however, we succeeded in the act of conciliation, and at half
past three quitted our station. In a short
time we saw a smoke on the East shore, and
directed our course towards it. Our new
guide began immediately to call to the people
that belonged to it in a particular manner,
which we did not comprehend. He informed
us that they were not of his tribe, but were a
very wicked, malignant people, who would
beat us cruelly, pull our hair with great vio-
lence from our heads, and maltreat us in
various other ways.
The men waited our arrival, but the women and children took to the woods.    There
were but four of these people, and previous
to our landing, they all harangued us at tbe
same moment, and apparently with violent
anger and resentment. Our hunters did not
understand them, but no sooner had our guide
addressed them, than they were appeased. I
presented them with beads, awls, etc, and
when the women and children returned from
the woods, they were gratified with similar
artides. There were fifteen of them; and of
a more pleasing appearance than any which
we had hitherto seen, as they were healthy,
full of flesh, and clean in their persons.
Their language was somewhat different, but
I believe chiefly in the accent, for they and
our guide conversed intelligibly with each
other; and the English chief clearly compre-
hended one of them, though he was not himself understood.
Their arms and utensils differ but little
from those which have been described in a
former chapter. The only iron they have is
in small pieces, which serve them for knives.
They obtain this metal from the Esquimaux
Indians. Their arrows are made of very light
wood, and are winged only with two f eathers;
their bows differed from any which we had
seen, and we understood that they were fur-
nished by the Esquimaux, who are their
neighbours: they consist of two pieces, with
a very strong cord of sinews along the back,
which is tied in several places,   to preserve
its shape; when this cord becomes wet, it
requires a strong boW-string, and a pöwerful
arm to draw it. The vessel in which they
prepare their food, is made of a thin frame
of wood, and of an oblong shape; the bottom
is fixed in a groove, in the same manner as a
cask. Their shirts are not cut square at the
bottom, but taper to a point, from the belt
downwards as low as the knee, both before
and behind, with a börder, embellished with
a short fringe. They use also another fringe,
similar to that which has been already de-
scribed, with the addition of the stone of a
grey farinaceous berry, of the size and shape
of a large barley-corn: it is of a brown col-
our, and fluted, and being bored is run on
each string of the fringe; with this they dec-
orate their shirts, by sewing it in a semicircle
on the breast and back, and crossing över
both shoulders; the sleeves are wide and
short, but the mittens supply their deficiency,
as they are long enough to reach över a part
of the sleeve, and are commodiously suspended by a cord from the neck. If their
leggins were made with waistbands, they
might with great propriety be denominated
trousers: they fästen them with a cord round
the middle, so that they appear to have a
sense of decency which their neighbours can
not boast.    Their shoes are sewed to their
leggins, and decorated on every seam.    One
of the men was clad in a shirt made of the
skins of the musk-rat. The dress of the
women is the same as that of the men, except
in their shirts, which are longer, and without
the finishing of a fringe on their breast.
Their peculiar mode of tying the hair is as
follows:—that which grows on the temples,
or the före part of the skull, is formed into
two queues, hanging down before the ears;
that of the scalp or crown is fashioned in the
same manner to the back of the neck, and is
then tied with the rest of the hair, at some
distance from the head. A thin cord is em-
ployed for these purposes, and very neatly
worked with hair, artificially coloured. The
women, and, indeed, some of the men, let
their hair häng loose on their shoulders,
whether it he long or short.
We purchased a couple of very large moose
skins from them, which were very well
dressed; indeed we did not suppose that
there were any of those animals in the country ; and it appears from the accounts of the
natives themselves, that they are very scarce.
As for the beaver, the existence of such a
creature does not seem to be known by them.
Our people bought shirts of them, and many
curious artides, &c. They presented us with
a most delicious fish, which was less than a
herring,  and very beautifully spotted with
black and yellow: its dorsal fin reached from
the head to the tail; in its expanded state
takes a triangulär form, and is variegated
with the colours that enliven the scales: the
head is very small, and the mouth is armed
with sharp-pointed teeth.
We prevailed on the native, whose language
was most intelligible, to accompany us. He
informed us that we should sleep ten nights
more before we arrived at the sea; that several of his relations resided in the imniediate
vicinity of this part of the river, and that in
three nights we should meet with the Esquimaux, with whom they had formerly made
war, but were now in a state of peace and
amity. He mentioned the last Indians whom
we had seen in terms of great derision; de-
scribing them as being no better than old
women, and as abominable liars; which coin-
cided with the notion we already entertained
of them.
As we pushed off, some of my men dis-
charged their fowling pieces, that were only
loaded with powder, at the report of which
the Indians were very much alarmed, as they
had not before heard the discharge of fire-
arms.    This circumstance had such an effect
upon our guide, that we had reason to ap-
prehend he  would not  fulfil  his  promise.
When, however, he was informed that the
noise which he  had heard was a signal of
friendship, he was  persuaded to embark in
his own small canoe, though he had been
offered a seat in ours.
Two of his companions, whom he repre-
sented as his brothers, followed us in their
canoes; and they amused us not only with
their native songs, but with others, in imitation of the Esquimaux; and our new guide
was so enlivened by them, that the antics he
performed, in keeping time to the singing,
alarmed us with continual apprehension that
his boat must upset: but he was not long
content with his confined situation, and pad-
dling up alongside our canoe, requested us to
receive him in it, though but a short time before he had resolutely refused to accept our
invitation. No sooner had he entered our
canoe, than he began to perform an Esquimaux dance, to our no small alarm. He was,
however, soon prevailed upon to be more
tranquil; when he began to display various
indecencies, according to the customs of the
Esquimaux, of which he boasted an intimate
acquaintance. On our putting to shore, in
order to leave his canoe, he informed us, that
on the opposite hill the Esquimaux, three
winters before, killed his grandfather. We
saw a fox, and a ground-hog on the hill, the
latter of which the brother of our guide shot
with his bow and arrow.
About four in the afternoon we perceived a
smoke on the West shore, when we traversed
and landed. The natives made a most ter-
rible uproar, talking with great vociferation,
and running about as if they were deprived
of their senses, while the greater part of the
women, with the children, fled away. Per-
ceiving the disorder which our appearance
occasioned among these people, we had waited
some time before we quitted the canoe; and
I have no doubt, if we had been without
people to introduce us, that they would have
attempted some violence against us; for when
the Indians send away their women and children, it is always with a hostile design. At
length we pacified them with the usual presents, but they preferred beads to any of the
artides that I offered them; particularly such
as were of a blue colour; and one of them
even requested to exchange a knife which I
had given him for a small quantity of those
ornamental baubles. I purchased of them
two shirts for my hunters; and at the same
time they presented me with some arrows,
and dried fish. This party consisted of five
families, to the amount, as I suppose, of
förty men, women, and children; but I did
not see them all, as several were afraid to
venture from their hiding-places. They are
called Deguthee Dinees, or the Quarrellers.
Our guide, like his predecessors, now man-
ifested his wish to leave us, and entertained
similar apprehensions that we should not re-
tura by this passage. He had his alarms also
respecting the Esquimaux, who might kill us
and take away the women. Our Indians,
however, assured him that we had no fears
of any kind, and that he need not be alarmed
for himself. They also convinced him that
we should return by the way we were going,
so that he consented to re-embark without
giving us any further trouble; and eight small
canoes followed us. Our courses this day
were South-West by West six miles, South-
West by South thirty miles, South-West three
miles, West by South twelve miles, West by
North two miles, and we encamped at eight
in the evening on the Eastern bank of the
The Indians whom I found here, informed
me, that from the place where I this morning
met the first of their tribe, the distance överland, on the East side, to the sea, was not
long, and that from hence, by proceeding to
the Westward, it was still shorter. They
also represented the land on both sides as
projecting to a point. These people do not
appear to harbour any thievish dispositions;
at least we did not perceive that they took,
or wanted to take, anything from us by stealth
or artifice. They enjoyed the amusements of
dancing and jumping in common with those
we had already seen; and, indeed, these ex-
ercises seem to be their favourite diversions.
About mid-day the weather was sultry, but
in the afternoon it became cold. There was
a large quantity of wild flax, the growth of
the last year, laying on the ground, and the
new plants were sprouting up through it.
This circumstance I did not observe in any
other part.
At four in the morning we embarked, at a
small distance from the place of our encampment: the river, which here becomes nar-
rower, flows between high rocks; and a
meandering course took us North-West four
miles. At this spöt the banks became low;
indeed, from the first rapid, the country does
not wear a mountainous appearance; but the
banks of the river are generally lofty, in
some places perfectly naked, and in others
well covered with small trees, such as the fir
and the birch. We continued our last course
for two miles, with mountains before us,
whose tops were covered with snow.
The land is low on both sides of the river,
except these mountains, whose base is distant about ten miles: here the river widens,
and runs through various channels, formed
by islands, some of which are without a tree,
and little more than banks of mud and sand;
while others are covered with a kind of
spruce fir, and trees of a larger size than we
had seen for the last ten days.   Their banks,
which are about six feet above the surface of
the water, display a face of solid ice, inter-
mixed with veins of black earth, and as the
heat of the sun melts the ice, the trees fre-
quently fall into the river.
So various were the channels of the river
at this time, that we were at a loss which to
take. Our guide preferred the Easternmost,
on account of the Esquimaux, but I deter-
mined to take the middle channel, as it appeared to be a larger body of water, and running North and South: besides, as there was
a greater chance of seeing them I concluded,
that we could always go to the Eastward,
whenever we might prefer it. Our course
was now West by North six miles, North-
West by West, the snowy mountains being
West by South from us, and stretching to the
Northward as far as we could see. Accord-
ing to the information of the Indians, they
are part of the chain of mountains which we
approached on the third of this month. I
obtained an observation this day that gave
me 67. 47. North latitude, which was farther
North than I expected, according to the
course I kept: but the difference was owing
to the variation of the compass, which was
more Easterly than I imagined. From hence
it Was evident that these waters emptied
themselves into the Hyperborean Sea; and
though it was probable that, from the want
of provision, we could not return to Atha-
basca in the course of the season, I neverthe-
less, determined to penetrate to the discharge
of them.
My new conductor being very much dis-
couraged and quite tired of his situation,
used his influence to prevent our proceeding.
He had never been, he said, at the Benahullo
Toe, or White Man's Lake; and that when
he went to the Esquimaux Lake, which is at
no great distance, he passed över land from
the place where we found him, and to that
part where the Esquimaux pass the summer.
In short, my hunters also became so disheart-
ened from these accounts, and other circumstances, that I was confident they would have
left me, if it had been in their power. I,
however, satisfied them in some degree, by
the assurance, that I would proceed onwards
but seven days more, and if I did not then
get to the sea, I would return. Indeed, the
low state of our provisions, without any
other consideration, formed a very sufficient
security for the maintenance of my engage-
ment. Our last course was thirty-two miles,
with a stronger current than could be expected
in such a low country.
We now proceeded North-North-West four
miles, North-West three miles, North-East
two miles, North-West by West three miles,
and North-East two miles.    At half past
eight in the evening we landed and pitched
our tents, near to where there had been three
encampments of the Esquimaux, since the
breaking up of the ice. The natives, who
followed us yesterday, left us at our station
this morning. In the course of the day we
saw large flocks of wild fowl.
Saturday, 11.—I sat up all night to ob-
serve the sun. At half past twelve I called
up one of the men to view a spectacle which
he had never before seen; when, on seeing
the sun so high, he thought it was a signal
to embark, and began to call the rest of his
companions, who would scarcely be persuaded
by me, that the sun had not descended nearer
to the horizon, and that it was now but a
short time past midnight.
We  reposed, however, till three quarters
after three, when we entered the canoe, and
steered about North-West, the river taking a
very serpentine course.   About seven we saw
a ridge of high land; at twelve we landed at
a spöt where we observed that  some of the
natives  had lately been.    I counted thirty
places where there had been fires; and some
of the men who went further, saw as many
more.    They must have been here for a con-
siderable time, though it does not appear that
they had erected any huts.    A great number
of poles, however, were  seen fixed in the
river, to which they had attached their nets,
and there seemed to be an excellent fishery.
One of the fish, of the many which we saw
leap out of the water, fell into our canoe; it
was about ten inches long, and of a round
shape. About the places where they had
made their fires, were scattered pieces of
whalebone, and thick burned leather, with
parts of the f råmes of three canoes; we could
also observe where they had spilled train oil;
and there was the singular appearance of a
spruce fir, stripped of its branches to the top
like an English May-pole. The weather was
cloudy, and the air cold and unpleasant.
From this place for about five miles, the river
widens, it then fiows in a variety of narrow,
meandering channels, amongst low islands,
enlivened with no trees, but a few dwarf wil-
At four, we landed, where there were three
houses, or rather huts, belonging to the natives. The ground-plot is of an oval form,
about fifteen feet long, ten feet wide in the
middle, and eight feet at either end; the
whole of it is dug about twelve inches below
the surface of the ground, and one half of it
is covered över with willow branches; which
probably serves as a bed for the whole family.
A space, in the middle of the other part,
of about four feet wide, is deepened twelve
inches more, and is the only spöt in the house
where  a grown person can  stånd  upright.
One side of it is covered,, as has been already
described, and the other is the hearth or fire-
place, of which, however, they do not make
much use. Though it was close to the wall,
the latter did not appear to be burned. The
door or entrance is in the middle of one end
of the house, and is about two feet and an
half high, and two feet wide, and has a covered way or porch five feet in length; so that
it is absolutely necessary to creep on all fours
in order to get into, or out of, this curious
habitation. There is a hole of about eighteen
inches square on the top of it, which serves
the threefold purpose of a window, an occa-
sional door, and a chimney. The under-
ground part of the floor is lined with split
wood. Six or eight stumps of small trees
driven into the earth, with the root upwards,
on which are laid some cross pieces of timber,
support the roof of the building, which is an
oblong square of ten feet by six. The whole
is made of drift-wood covered with branches
and dry-grass; över which is laid a f oot deep
of earth. On each side of these houses are a
few square holes in the ground of about two
feet in depth, which are covered with split
wood and earth, except in the middle. These
appeared to be contrived for the preservation
of the winter stock of provisions. In and
about the houses we found sledge runners and
bones, pieces of whalebone, and poplar bark
cut in circles, which are used as corks to buoy
261 1
t nH f
the nets, and are fixed to them by pieces of
whalebone. Before each hut a great number
of stumps of trees were fixed in the ground,
upon which it appeared that they hung their
fish to dry.
We now continued our voyage, and en-
camped at eight o'clock. I calculated our
course at about North-West, and, allowing
for the windings, that we had made fifty-four
miles. We expected, throughout the day, to
meet with some of the natives. On several
of the islands we perceived the print of their
feet in the sand, as if they had been there
but a few days before, to procure wild fowl.
There were frequent showers of rain in the
afternoon, and the weather was raw and dis-
agreeable. .We saw a black fox; but trees
were now become very rare objects, except a
few dwarf willows, of not more than three
feet in height.
The discontents of our hunters were now
renewed by the accounts which our guide had
been giving of that part of our voyage that
was approaching. According to his information, we were to see a larger lake on the
morrow. Neither he nor his relations, he
said, knew any thing about it, except that
part which is opposite to, and not far from,
their country. The Esquimaux alone, he
added, inhabit its shores, and kill a large fish
that is found in it, which is a principal part
of their f ood; this, we presumed, must be the
whale.    He also mentioned white bears, and
another large animal which was seen in those
parts, but our hunters could not understand
the description which he gave of it.   He also
represented their canoes as being of a large
construction,   which    would   commodiously
contain four or five families.    However, to
reconcile the English chief to the necessary
continuance in my service,  I presented him
with one of my capotes or travelling coats;
at the same time, to satisfy the guide, and
keep him, if possible, in good humour, I gave
him a skin of the moose-deer, which, in his
opinion, was a valuable present.
Sunday,   12.—It    rained   with    violence
throughout the night, and till two in the
morning; the weather continuing very cold.
We proceeded on the same meandering course
as yesterday, the wind North-North-West,
and the country so naked that scarce a shrub
was to be seen.    At ten in the morning, we
landed where there were four huts, exactly
the same as those which have been so lately
described.    The adjacent land is high  and
covered with short grass and flowers, though
the earth was not thawed above four inches
from the surface; beneath which was a solid
body of   ice.    This   beautiful   appearance,
however, was strangely contrasted with the
ice and snow that are seen in the valleys.
The soil, where there is any, is a yellow clay
mixed with stones. These huts appear to
have been inhabited during the last winter;
and we had reason to think that some of
the natives had been lately there, as the
beach was covered with the track of their
feet. Many of the runners and bars of their
sledges were laid together, near the houses,
in a manner that seemed to denote the return
of the proprietors. There were also pieces
of netting made of sinews, and some bark of
the willow. The thread of the former was
plaited, and no ordinary portion of time must
have been employed in manuf acturing so great
a length of cord. A square stone-kettle, with
a flat bottom, also occupied our attention,
which was capable of containing two gallons;
and we were puzzled as to the means these
people must have employed to have chiselled
it out of a solid rock into its present form.
To these artides may be added, small pieces
of flint fixed into handles of wood, which
probably serve as knives; several wooden
dishes; the stern and part of a large canoe;
pieces of very thick leather, which we con-
jectured to be the covering of a canoe; several bones of large fish, and two heads; but
we could not determine the animal to which
they belonged, though we conjectured that it
must be the sea-horse.
When we had satisfied our curiosity we re-
embarked, but we were at a loss what course
to steer, as our guide seemed to be as ignorant of this country as ourselves. Though the
current was very strong, we appeared to have
come to the entrance of the lake. The stream
set to the West, and we went with it to an
high point, at the distance of about eight
miles, which we conjectured to be an island;
but, on approaching it, we perceived it to be
connected with the shore by a low neck of
land. I now took an observation which gave
69. 1. North latitude. From the point that
has been just mentioned, we continued the
same course for the Westernmost point of an
high island, and the Westernmost land in.
sight, at the distance of fifteen miles.
The lake was quite open to us to the West-
ward, and out of the channel of the river
there was not more than four feet water, and
in some places the depth did not exceed one
foot. From the shallowness of the water it
was impossible to coast to the Westward. At
five o'clock we arrived at the island, and
during the last fifteen miles, five feet was the
deepest water. The lake now appeared to
be covered with ice, for about two leagues
distance, and no land ahead, so that we were
prevented from proceeding in this direction
by the ice, and the shallowness of the water
along the shore.
We landed at the boundary of our voyage
in this direction, and as soon as the tents
were pitched I ordered the nets to be set,
when I proceeded with the English chief to
the highest part of the island, from which we
discovered the solid ice, extending from the
South-West by compass to the Eastward. As
far as the eye could reach to the South-West-
ward, we could dimly perceive a chain of
mountains, stretching further to the North
than the edge of the ice, at the distance of
upwards of twenty leagues. To the Eastward
we saw many islands, and in our progress we
met with a considerable number of white
partridges, now be come brown. There were
also flocks of very beautiful plovers, and I
found the nest of one of them with four eggs.
White owls, likewise, were among the inhabitants of the place: but the dead, as well as
the living, demanded our attention, for we
came to the grave of one of the natives, by
which lay a bow, a paddle, and a spear. The
Indians informed me that they landed on a
small island, about four leagues from hence,
where they had seen the tracks of two men,
that were quite fresh; they had also found a
secret store of train oil, and several bones of
white bears were scattered about the place
where it was hid. The wind was now so
high that it was impracticable for us to visit
the nets.
My people could not, at this time, refrain
from expressions of real concern, that they
were obliged to return without reaching the
sea: indeed, the hope of attaining this object
encouraged them to bear, without repining,
the hardships of our unremitting voyage.
For some time past their spirits were ani-
mated by the expectation that another day
would bring them to the Mer d'ouest: and
even in our present situation they declared
their readiness to follow me wherever I
should be pleased to lead them. We saw several large white gulls, and other birds, whose
back, and upper feathers of the wing are
brown; and whose belly, and under feathers
of the wing are white.
JULY, 1789.
Monday, 13.—We had no sooner retired to
rest last night, if I may use that expression,
in a country where the sun never sinks beneath the horizon, than some of the people
were obliged to rise and remove the baggage,
on account of the rising of the water. At
eight in the morning the weather was fine
and calm, which afforded an opportunity to
examine the nets, one of which had been
driven from its position by the wind and current. We caught seven poissons inconnus,
which were unpalatable; a white fish, that
proved delicious; and another about the size
of an herring, which none of us had ever seen
before, except the English chief, who recog-
nised it as being of a kind that abounds in
Hudson?s Bay. About noon the wind blew
härd from the Westward, when I took an observation, which gave 69. 14. North latitude,
and the meridian variation of the compass
was thirty-six degrees Eastward.#
This afternoon I re-ascended the hill, but
could not discover that the ice had been put
* The longitude has since been discovered, by the
dead reckoning, to be 135. West.
in motion by the force of the wind. At the
same time I could just distinguish two small
islands in the ice, to the North-West by com-
pass. I now thought it necessary to give a
new net to my men to mount, in order to ob-
tain as much provision as possible from the
water, our stores being reduced to about five
hundred weight, which, without any other
supply, would not have sufficed for fifteen
people above twelve days. One of the young
Indians, however, was so fortunate as to find
the net that had been missing, and which con-
tained three of the poissons inconnus.
Tuesday, 14-—It blew very härd from the
North-West since the preceding evening.
Having sat up till three in the morning, I
slept longer than usual; but about eight one
of my men saw a great many animals in the
water, which he at first supposed to be pieces
of ice. About nine, however, I was awakened
to re solve the doubts which had taken place
respecting this extraordinary appearance. I
immediately perceived that they were whales;
and having ordered the canoe to be prepared,
we embarked in pursuit of them. It was, indeed, a very wild and unreflecting enterprise,
and it was a very f ortunate circumstance that
we failed in our attempt to overtake them,
as a stroke from the tail of one of these enor-
mous fish would have dashed the canoe to
pieces.    We  may,  perhaps, have been in-
debted to the foggy weather for our safety,
as it prevented us from continuing our pur-
suit. Our guide informed us that they are
the same kind of fish which are the principal
food of the Esquimaux, and they were fre-
quently seen as large as our canoe. The part
of them which appeared above the water was
altogether white, and they were much larger
than the largest porpoise.
About twelve the fog dispersed, and being
curious to take a view of the ice, I gave
orders for the canoe to be got in readiness.
We accordingly embarked, and the Indians
followed us. We had not, however, been an
hour on the water, when the wind rose on a
sudden from the North-East, and obliged us
to tack about, and the return of the fog prevented us from ascertaining our distance from
the ice; indeed, from this circumstance, the
island which we had so lately left was but
dimly seen. Though the wind was close, we
ventured to hoist the sail, and from the vio-
lence of the swell it was by great exertions
that two men could bale out the water from
our canoe. We were in a state of actual
danger, and felt every corresponding emotion
of pleasure when we reached the land. The
Indians had fortunately got more to wind-
ward, so that the swell in sonae measure drove
them on  shore, though their canoes were
nearly filled with water; and had they been
laden, we should have seen them no more.
As I did not propose to satisfy my curiosity
at the risk of similar dangers, we continued
our course along the islands, which screened
us from the wind. I was now determined to
take a more particular examination of the
islands, in the hope of meeting with parties of
the natives, from whom I might be able to
obtain some interesting intelligence, though
our conductor discouraged my expectations,
by repre senting them as very shy and inac-
cessible people. At the same time he informed me, that we should probably find
some of them, if we navigated the channel
which he had öriginally recommended us to
At eight we encamped on the Eastern end
of the island, which I had named the Whale
Island. It is about seven leagues in length,
East and West by compass; but not more
than half a mile in breadth. We saw several
red foxes, one of which was killed. There
were also five or six very old huts on the
point where we had taken our station. The
nets were now set, and one of them in five
fathom water, the current setting North-East
by compass. This morning I ordered a post
to be erected close to our tents, on which I
engraved the latitude of the place, my own
name, the number of persons which  I had
with me; and the time we remained there.
Wednesday, 15.—Being awakened by some
casual cireumstance, at four this morning, I
was surprised on perceiving that the water
had flowed under our baggage. As the wind
had not changed, and did not blow with
greater violence than when we went to rest,
we were all of opinion that this cireumstance
proceeded from the tide. We had, indeed,
observed at the other end of the island, that
the water rose and f ell; but we then imagined
that it must have been occasioned by the
wind. The water continued to rise till about
six, but I could not ascertain the time with
the requisite precision, as the wind then began to blow with great violence; I therefore
determined, at all events, to remain here till
the next morning, though, as it happened,
the state of the wind was such, as to render
my stay here an act of necessity. Our nets
were not very successful, as they presented
us with only eight fish. From an observation which I obtained at noon we were in 69.
7. North latitude. As the evening ap-
proached, the wind increased, and the weather
became cold. Two swans were the only
provision which the hunters procured for
Thursday, 16.—The rain did not cease till
seven this morning, the weather being at in-
tervals very cold and unpleasant.    Such was
its inconstancy, that I could not make an
accurate observation; but the tide appeared
to rise sixteen or eighteen inches.
We now embarked, and steered under sail
among the islands, where I hoped to meet with
some of the natives, but my expectation was
not gratified. Our guide imagined that they
were gone to their distaut haunts, where they
fish for whales and hunt the rein-deer, that
are opposite to his country. His relations,
he said, see them every year, but he did not
encourage us to expect that we should find
any of them, unless it were at a small river
that falls into the great one, from the Eastward, at a considerable distance from our im-
mediate situation. We accordingly made for
the river, and stemmed the current. At two
in the afternoon the water was quite shallow
in every part of our course, and we could al-
ways find the bottom with the paddle. At
seven we landed, encamped, and set the
nets. Here the Indians killed two geese, two
cranes, and a white owl. Since we entered
the river, we experienced a very agreeable
change in the temperature of the air; but this
pleasant cireumstance was not without its in-
convenience, as it subjected us to the perse-
cution of the mosquitoes.
Friday, 17.—On taking up the nets, they
were found to contain but six fish. We embarked at four in the morning, and passed
four encampments; which appeared to have
18 273
been very lately inhabited. We then landed
upon a small round island, close to the East-
ern shore, which possessed somewhat of a
sacred character, as the top of it seemed to
be a place of sepulture, from the numerous
graves which we observed there. We found
the fraine of a small canoe, with various
dishes, troughs, and other utensils, which
had been the living property of those who
could now use them no more, and form the
ordinary accompaniments of their last abodes.
As no part of the skins that must have covered the canoe was remaining, we eoncluded
that it had been eaten by wild animals that
inhabit, or occasionally frequent, the island.
The frame of the canoe, which was entire,
was put together with whale-bone; it was
sewed in some parts, and tied in others. The
sledges were from four to eight feet long; the
length of the bars was upwards of two feet;
the runners were two inches thick and nine
inches deep; the prow was two feet and an
half high, and formed of two pieces, sewed
with whalebone, to three other thin spårs of
wood, which were of the same height; and
fixed in the runners by means of mortises,
were sewed two thin broad bars lengthways,
at a small distance from each other; these
frames were fixed together with three or four
cross bars, tied fast upon the runners, and pn
the lower edge of the latter, small pieces of
horn were fastened by wooden pegs, that they
might slide with greater facility. They are
drawn by shafts, which I imagine are applied
to any particular sledge as they are wanted
as I saw no more than one pair of them.
About half past one we came opposite to
the first spruce-tree that we had seen for
some time: there are but very few of them
on the main land, and they are very small:
those are larger which are found on the
islands, where they grow in patches, and
close together. It is, indeed, very extraor-
dinary that there should be any wood what-
ever in a country where the ground never
thaws above five inches from the surface.
We landed at seven in the evening. The
weather was now very pleasant, and in the
course of the day we saw great numbers of
wild fowl, with their young ones, but they
were so shy that we could not approach them.
The Indians were not very successf ul in their
foraging party, as they killed only two grey
cranes, and a grey goose. Two of them were
employed on the high land to the Eastward,
through the greater part of the day, in search
of rein-deer, but they could discover nothing
more thana few tracks of that animal. I also
ascended the high land, from whence I had
a delightful view of the river, divided into
innumerable   streams,   meandering   through
islands,  some of which were  covered with
hi r
wood, and others with grass. The mountains, that formed the opposite horizon, were
at the distance of förty miles. The inland
view was neither so extensive nor agreeable,
being terminated by a near range of bleak,
barren hills, between which are small lakes
or ponds, while the surrounding country is
covered with tufts of möss, without the shade
of a single tree. Along the hills is a kind of
fence, made with branches, where the natives
had set snares to catch white partridges.
Saturday, 18.—The nets did not produce
a single fish, and at three o'clock in the
morning we took our departure. The weather
was fine and clear, and we passed several encampments. As the prints of human feet
were very fresh in the sand, it could not have
been long since the natives had visited the
spöt. We now proceeded in the hope of
meeting with some of them at the river,
whither our guide was conducting us with
that expectation. We observed a great number of trees, in different. places, whose
branches had been lopped off to the tops.
They denote the immediate abode of the natives, and probably serve for signals to direct
each other to their respective winter-quarters.
Our hunters, in the course of the day, killed
two rein-deer, which were the only large animals that we had seen since we had been in
this river, and proved a very seasonable sup-
ply, as our pemmican had become mouldy for
some time past; though in that situation we
were under the necessity of eating it.
In the valleys and low lands near the
river, cranberries are found in great abundance, particularly in favourable aspects. It
is a singular cireumstance, that the fruit of
two succeeding years may be gathered at the
same time, from the same shrub. Here was
also another berry, of a very påle yellow col-
our, that resembles a raspberry, and is of a
very agreeable flavour. There is a great
variety of other plants and herbs, whose
names and properties are unknown to
The weather became cold towards the after-
noon, with the appearance of rain, and we
landed for the night at seven in the evening.
The Indians killed eight geese. During the
greater part of the day I walked with the
English chief, and found it very disagreeable
and fatiguing. Though the country is so
elevated, it was one continual morass, except
on the summits of some barren hills. As I
carried my hänger in my hand, I frequently
examined if any part of the ground was in a
state of thaw, but could never force the blade
into it, beyond the depth of six or eight
inches. The face of the high land, towards
the  river, is in some places rocky, and in
others a mixture of  sand and stone, veined
with a kind of red earth, with which the natives bedaub themselves.
Sunday, 19. —It rained, and blew härd from
the North, till eight in the morning, when
we discovered that our conductor had escaped.
I was, indeed, surprised at his honesty, as he
left the moose-skin which I had given him
for a covering, and went off in his shirt,
though the weather was very cold. I in-
quired of the Indians if they had given him
any cause of offence, or had observed any re-
cent disposition in him to desert us, but they
assured me that they had not in any instance
displeased him: at the same time they recol-
lected that he had expressed his apprehen-
sions of being taken away as a slave; änd his
alarms were probably increased on the preceding day, when he saw them kill the two rein-
deer with so much readiness. In the after-
noon the weather became fine and clear, when
we saw large flights of geese with their young
ones, and the hunters killed twenty-two of
them. As they had at this timö east their
feathers, they could not fly. They were of
a small kind, and much inferior in size to
those that frequent the vicinity of Athabasca.
At eight, we took our station near an Indian
encampment, and, as we had observed in similar situations, pieces of bone, rein-deer's
horn, &c, were scattered about it.    It also
appeared, that the natives had been employed
here in working wood into arms, uten-
sils, &c.
Monday, 20.—We embarked at three this
morning, when the weather was cloudy, with
small rain and aft wind. About twelve the
rain became so violent as to compel us to en-
camp at two in the afternoon. We saw great
numbers of fowl, and killed among us fifteen
geese and four swans. Had the weather
been more favourable, we should have added
considerably to our booty. We now passed
the river, where we expected to meet some of
the natives, but discovered no signs of them.
The ground close to the river does not rise
to any considerable height, and the hills,
which are at a small distance, are covered
with the spruce fir and small birch trees, to
their very summits.
Tuesday, 21.—We embarked at half past
one this morning, when the weather was cold
and unpleasant, and the wind South-West.
At ten, we left the channels formed by the
islands for the uninterrupted channel of the
river, where we found the current so strong,
that it was  absolutely necessary to tow the
canoe with a line.    The land on both sides
was elevated, and almost perpendicular, and
the shore beneath it, which is of no  great
breadth, was covered with a grey stone that
falls from the precipice.    We made much
greater expedition with the  line,  than we
? m
could have done with the paddles. The men
in the canoe relieved two of those on shore
every two hours, so that it was very härd and
fatiguing duty, but it saved a great deal of that
time which was so precious to us. At half
past eight we landed at the same spöt where
we had already encamped on the ninth in-
In about an hour after our arrival, we were
joined by eleven of the natives, who were
stationed f arther up the river, and there were
some among them whom we had not seen
during our former visit to this place. The
brother of our late guide, however, was of
the party, and was eager in his inquiries after
him; but our account did not pro ve satisf ac-
tory. They all gave evident tokens of their
suspicion, and each of them made a distinct
harangue on the occasion. Our Indians, indeed, did not understand their eloquence,
though they conjeetured it to be very unfa-
vourable to our assertions. The brother,
nevertheless, proposed to barter his credulity
for a small quantity of beads, and promised
to believe every thing I should say, if I would
gratify him with a few of those baubles; but
he did not succeed in his proposition, and I
contented myself with giving him the bow
and arrows which our conductor had left with
My people were now necessarily engaged
in putting the fire-arms in order, after the
violent rain of the preceding day; an employ-
ment which very much attracted the curios-
ity, and appeared in some degree, to awaken
the apprehensions of the natives. To their
inquiries concerning the motives of our prep-
aration, we answered by showing a piece of
meat and a goose, and informing them, that
we were preparing our arms to procure similar provisions: at the same time we assured
them, though it was our intention to kill any
animals we might find, there was no intention to hurt or injure them. They, however,
entreated us not to discharge our pieces in
their presence. I requested the English chief
to ask them some questions, which they either
did not or would not understand; so that I
failed in obtaining any information from
All my people went to rest; but I thought
it prudent to sit up, in order to watch the
motions of the natives. This cireumstance
was a subject of their inquiry; and their
curiosity was still more excited, when they
saw me employed in writing. About twelve
o'clock I perceived four of their women com-
ing along the shore; and they were no sooner
seen by their friends, than they ran hastily
to meet them, and persuaded two of them,
who, I suppose, were young, to return, while
they brought the other two, who were very
old, to enjoy the warmth of our fire; but,
after staying there for about half an hour,
they also retreated. Those who remained,
immediately kindled a small fire, and laid
themselves down to sleep round it, like so
many whelps, having neither skins or gar-
ments of any kind to cover them, notwith-
standing 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 several attempts to possess themselves of its contents; and this was the only
instance I had hitherto discovered, of their
being influenced by a pilfering disposition.
It might, perhaps, be a general opinion, that
provisions were a common property. I now
saw the sun set for the first time since I had
been here before. During the preceding
night, the weather was so cloudy, that I could
not observe its descent to the horizon. The
water had sunk, at this place, upward of
three feet since we had passed down the river.
Wednesday, 22.—We began our march at
half past three this morning, the men being
employed to tow the canoe. I walked with
the Indians to their huts, which were at a
greater distance than I had any reason to ex-
pect, for it occupied three hours in härd walk-
ing to reach them. We passed a narrow, and
deep river in our way, at the mouth of which
the natives had set their nets.   They had hid
their effects, and sent their young women
into the woods, as we saw but very few of
the former, and none of the latter. They
had large huts built with drift-wood on the
declivity of the beach and in the inside the
earth was dug away, so as to form a level
floor. A.t each end was a stout fork, whereon
was laid a strong ridge-pole, which formed a
support to the whole structure, and a cover-
ing of spruce bark preserved it from the rain.
Various spårs of different heights were fixed
within the hut, and covered with split fish
that hung on them to dry; and fires were
made in different parts to accelerate the operation. There were rails also on the outside
of the building, which were hung around
with fish, but in a fresher state than those
within. The spawn is also carefully preserved and dried in the same manner. We
obtained as many fish from them as the canoe
could conveniently contain, and some strings
of beads were the price paid for them, an artide which they preferred to every other.
Iron they held in little or no estimation.
During the two hours that I remained here,
I employed the English chief in a continual
state of inquiry concerning these people.
The information that resulted from this con-
ference was as follows:
This nation or tribe is very numerous, with
whom the Esquimaux had been continually
i    ifé
at variance, a people who take every advan-
tage of attacking those who are not in a state
to defend themselves; and though they had
promised friendship, had lately, and in the
most treacherous manner, butchered some of
their people. As a proof of this cireumstance, the relations of the deceased showed
us, that they had cut off their hair on the occasion. They also declared their determina-
tion to withdraw all confidence in future from
the Esquimaux, and to collect themselves in
a formidable body, that they might be en-
abled to revenge the death of their friends.
From their account, a strong party of
Esquimaux occasionally ascends this river, in
large canoes, in search of flint stones, which
they employ to point their spears and arrows.
They were now at their lake due East from
the spöt where we then were, which was at
no great distance över land, where they kill
the rein-deer, and that they would soon begin
to catch big fish for the winter stock. We
could not, however, obtain any information
respecting the lake in the direction in which
we were. To the Eastward and Westward
where they saw it, the ice breaks up, but soon
freezes again.
The Esquimaux informed them that they
saw large  canoes  full of white men to the
Westward, eight or ten winters ago, from
whom they obtained iron  in exchange for
leather. The lake where they met these
canoes, is called by them Belhoullay Toe, or
White Man's Lake. They also represented
the Esquimaux as dressing like themselves.
They wear their hair short, and have two
holes perforated, one on each side of the
mouth, in a line with the under lip, in which
they place long beads that they find in the
lake. Their bows are somewhat different
from those used by the natives we had seen,
and they employ slings from whence they
throw stones with such dexterity that they
pr o ve very formidable weapons in the day of
We also learned in addition from the natives, that we should not see any more of
their relations, as they had all left the river
to go in pursuit of rein-deer for their provisions, and that they themselves should en-
gage in a similar expedition in a few days.
Rein-deer, bears, wolverines, martens, foxes,
hares, and white buffaloes are the only quad-
rupeds in their country; and that the latter
were only to be found in the mountains to
the Westward.
We proceeded with the line throughout the
day, except two hours, when we employed
the sail. We encamped at eight in the even-
ing. From the place we quitted this morning, the banks of the river are well covered
with small wood, spruce, firs, birch, and wil-
low.    We found it very warm  during the
whole of our progress.
Thursday, 23.—At five in the morning we
proceeded on our voyage, but found it very
diflicult to travel along the beach. We observed several places where the natives had
stationed themselves and set their nets since
our passage downwards. We passed a small
river, and at five o'clock our Indians put to
shore in order to encamp, but we proceeded
onwards, which displeased them very much,
from the fatigue they suffered, and at eight
we encamped at our position of the 8th in-
stant. The day was very fine, and we employed the towing line throughout the course
of it. At ten, our hunters returned, sullen
and dissatisfied. We had not touched any of
our provision stores for six days, in which
time we had consumed two rein-deer, four
swans, forty-five geese, and a considerable
quantity of fish: but it is to be considered,
that we were ten men, and four women. I
have always observed, that the north men
possessed very hearty appetites, but they
were very much exceeded by those with me,
since we entered this river. I should really
have thought it absolute gluttony in my people, if my own appetite had not increased in
a similar proportion.
JULY, 1789. §
Friday, 24:.—At five we continued our
course, but, in a very short time, were under
the necessity of applying to the aid of the
line, the stream being so strong as to render
all our attempts unavailing to stem it with
the paddles. We passed a small river, on
each side of which the natives and Esquimaux collect flint. The bank is an high,
steep, and soft rock, variegated with red,
green, and yellow hues. From the continual
dripping of water, parts of it frequently fall
and break into small stony flakes like slate,
but not so härd. Among them are found
pieces of Petrolium, which bears a resem-
blance to yellow wax, but is more friable.
The English chief informed me that rocks of
a similar kind are scattered about the country
at the back of the Slave Lake, where the
Chepewyans collect copper.
At ten, we had an aft wind, and the men
who had been engaged in towing, re-em-
barked. At twelve, we observed a lodge on
the side of the river, and its inhabitants running about in great confusion, or hurrying to
the woods.    Three men waited our arrival,
though they remained at some distance from
us, with their bows and arrows ready to be
employed; or at least, that appeared to be
the ide a they wished to convey to us, by con-
tinually snapping the strings of the former,
and the signs they made to f orbid our ap-
proach. The English chief, whose language
they, in some degree understood, endeavoured
to remove their distrust of us; but till I went
to them with a present of beads, they refused
to have any communication with us.
When they first perceived our sail, they
took us for the Esquimaux Indians, who em-
ploy a sail in their canoes. They were
suspicious of our designs, and questioned us
with a view to obtain some knowledge of
them. On seeing us in possession of some
of the clothes, bows, etc, which must have
belonged to some of the Deguthee Denees, or
Quarrellers, they imagined that we had killed
some of them, and were bearing away the
fruits of our victory. They appeared, indeed,
to be of the same tribe, though they were
af raid of acknowledging it. From their
questions, it was evident that they had not
received any notice of our being in those
They would not acknowledge that they had
any women with them, though we had seen
them running to the woods; but pretended
that they had been left at a considerable dis-
tance from the river, with some relations,
who were engaged in killing rein-deer.
These people had been here but a short time,
and their lodge was not yet completed; nor
had they any fish in a state of preparation
for their provision. I gave them a knife and
some beads for an horn-wedge or chisel, with
which they split their canoe-wood. One of
my Indians having broken his paddle, at-
tempted to take one of theirs, which was im-
mediately contested by its owner, and on my
interfering to prevent this act of injustice,
he manifested his gratitude to me on the occasion. We löst an hour and a half in this
The English chief was during the whole of
the time in the woods, where some of the
hidden property was discovered, but the
women contrived to elude the search that was
made after them. Some of these artides
were purloined, but I was ignorant of this
cireumstance till we had taken our departure,
or I should have given an ample remunera-
tion. Our chief expressed his displeasure at
their running away to conceal themselves,
their property, and their young women, in
very bitter terms. He said his heart was
against those slaves; and complained aloud of
his disappointment in coming so far without
seeing the natives, and getting something
from them.
We employed the sail and the paddle since
ten this morning, and pitched our tents at
seven in the evening. We had no sooner en-
camped than we were visited by an Indian
whom we had seen before, and whose family
was at a small distance up the river: at nine
he left us. The weather was clear and
Saturdayt 25.—We embarked this morning
at a quarter past three, and at seven we
passed the lodge of the Indian who had visited us the preceding evening. There appeared to have been more than one family,
and we naturally concluded that our visitor
had made such an unfavourable report of us,
as to induce his companions to fly on our ap-
proach. Their fire was not extinguished, and
they had left a considerable quantity of fish
scattered about their dwelling.
The weather was now very sultry; but the
current had relaxed of its force, so that the
paddle was suificient for our progress during
the greatest part of the day. The inland
part of the country is mountainous and the
banks of the river low, but covered with
wood, among which is the poplar, but of
small growth, and the first which we had
seen on our return. A pigeon also flew by
us, andjaares appeared to be in great plenty.
We passed many Indian encampments which
we did not see in our passage down the river.
About seven. the sky, to the Westward, became of a steel blue colour, with lightning
and thunder. We accordingly landed to
prepare ourselves against the coming storm;
but before we could erect our tents, it came
on with such violence that we expected it to
carry every thing before it. The ridge pole
of my tent was broken in the middle, where
it was sound, and nine inches and an half in
circumference; and we were obliged to throw
ourselves flat on the ground to escape being
wounded by the stones that were hurled
about in the air like sand. The violence of
the storm, however, subsided in a short time,
but left the sky overcast with the appearance
of rain.
Sunday, 26.—It rained from the preceding
evening to this morning, when we embarked
at four o'clock. At eight we landed at three
large Indian lodges. Their inhabitants, who
were asleep, expressed uncommon alarm and
agitation when they were awakened by us,
though most of them had seen us before.
Their habitations were crowded with fish,
hanging to dry in every part; but as we
wanted some for present use, we sent their
young men to visit the nets, and they returned with abundance of large white fish, to
which the name has been given of poisson in-
connu;   some of a round shape, and green
colour; and a few white ones; all which were
very agreeable food. Some beads, and a few
other trifles, were gratefully received in return. These people are very fond of iron
work of any kind, and my men purchased
several of their artides for small pieces of
There were five or six persons whom we
had not seen before; and among them was a
Dog-rib Indian, whom some private quarrel
had driven from his country. The English
chief understood him as well as one of his
own nation, and gave the following account
of their conversation:—
He had been informed by the people with
whom he now lives, the Hare Indians, that
there is another river on the other side of the
mountains to the South-West, which falls
into the Belhoullay Teo, or White-man's
Lake, in comparison of which that on whose
banks we then were, was but a small stream;
that the natives were very large, and very
wicked, and kill common men with their
eyes; that they make canoes larger than ours;
that those who inhabit the entrance of it kill
a kind of beaver, the skin of which is almost
red; and that large canoes often frequent it.
As there is no known communication by
water with this river, the natives who saw it
went över the mountains.
As he mentioned that there  were some
beavers in this part of the country, I told him
to hunt it, and desire the others to do the
same, as well as the martens, foxes, beaver-
eater or wolverine, &c, which they might
carry to barter for iron with his own nation,
who are supplied with goods by us, near their
country. He was anxious to know whether
we should return that way; at the same time
he informed us, that we should see but few
of the natives along the river, as all the
young men were engaged in killing rein-deer,
near the Esquimaux Lake, which, he also
said, was at no great distance. The latter
he represented as very treaeherous, and added, that they had killed one of his people.
He told us likewise, that some plan of re-
venge was meditating, unless the offending
party paid a suflicient price for the body of
the murdered person.
My Indians were very anxious to possess
themselves of a woman that was with the natives, but as they were not willing to part
with her, I interfered, to prevent her being
taken by force; indeed, I was obliged to ex-
ercise the utmost vigilance, as the Indians
who accompanied me were ever ready to take
what they could from the natives, without
making them any return. About twelve, we
passed a river of some appearance, flowing
from the Eastward. One of the natives who
followed us, called it the Winter Road River.
We did not find the  stream strong to-day,
along the shore, as there were many eddy
currents; we therefore employed the sail during some hours of it, and went on shore for
the night at half past seven.
Monday, 27.—The weather was now fine,
and we renewed our voyage at half past two.
At seven we landed where there were three
families, situated close to the rapids. We
found but few people; for as the Indian who
followed us yesterday had arrived here before us, we supposed that the greater part
had fled, on the intelligence which he gave
of our approach. Some of these people we
had seen before, when they told us that they
had left their property at a lake in the neigh-
bourhood, and had promised to fetch it before our return; but we now found them as
unprovided as when we left them. They
had plenty of fish, some of which was packed
up in birch bark.
During the time we remained with them,
which was not more than two hours, I en-
deavoured to obtain some additional intelligence respecting the river which had been
mentioned on the preceding day; when they
declared their total ignorance of it, but from
the reports of others, as they had never been
beyond the mountains, on the opposite side of
their own river; they had, however, been informed that it was larger than that which
washed the banks whereon they lived, and
that its course was towards the mid-day sun.
They added, that there were people at a
small distance up the river, who inhabited
the opposite mountains, and had lately de-
scended from them to obtain supplies of fish.
These people, they suggested, must be well
acquainted with the other river, which was
the object of my inquiry. I engaged one of
them, by a bribe of some beads, to describe
the circumjacent country upon the sand.
This singular map he immediately undertook
to delineate, and accordingly traced out a
very long point of land between the rivers,
though without paying the least attention to
their courses, which he represented as running into the great lake, at the extremity of
which, as he had been told by Indians of
other nations, there was a Belhoullay Couin,
or White Man?s Fort. This I took to be
Unalascha Fort, and consequently the river
to the West to be Cook's River; and that the
body of water or sea into which this river
discharges itself at Whale Island, communi-
cates with Norton Sound. I made an advan-
tageous proposition to this man to accompany
me across the mountains to the other river,
but he refused it. At the same time he rec-
ommended me to the people already mentioned, who were fishing in the neighbour-
hood, as better qualified to assist me in the
undertaking which I had proposed.
One of this small company of natives was
greviously afnieted with ulcers in his back,
and the only attention which was paid to his
miserable condition, as far at least as we
could discover, proceeded from a woman,
who carefully employed a bunch of feathers
in pre venting the flies from settling upon his
At ten this morning we landed near the
lodges which had already been mentioned to
us, and I ordered my people to make prep-
aration for passing the remaining part of the
day here, in order to obtain that familiarity
with the natives which might induce them to
afford me, without reserve, the information
that I should require from them. This ob-
ject, however, was in danger of being altogether frustrated, by a misunderstanding that
had taken place between the natives and my
young Indians, who had already arrived
there. Before the latter could disembark,
the former seized the canoe, and dragged it
on shore, and in this act of violence the boat
was broken, from the weight of the persons
in it. This insult was on the point of being
seriously revenged, when I arrived, to pre-
vent the consequences of such a disposition.
The variation of the compass was about
twenty-nine degrees to the East.
At four in the afternoon I ordered my interpreter to harangue the natives, assembled
in council; but his long discourse obtained
little satisfactory intelligence from them.
Their account of the river to the Westward,
was similar to that which he had already received : and their description of the inhabitants of that country was still more absurd
and ridiculous. They represented them as
being of a gigantic stature, and adorned with
wings; which, however, they never employed
in fly ing. That they f ed on large birds, which
they killed with the greatest ease, though
common men would be certain victims of their
ferocity if they ventured to approach them.
They also described the people that inhabited
the mouth of the river as possessing the ex-
traordinary power of killing with their eyes,
and devouring a large beaver at a single meal.
They added that canoes of very large dimensions visited that place. They did not, however, reläte these stränge circumstances from
their own knowledge, but on the reports of
other tribes, as they themselves never ventured to proceed beyond the first mountains,
where they went in search of the small white
buffaloes, as the inhabitants of the other side
endeavour to kill them whenever they meet.
They likewise mentioned that the sources of
those streams which are tributary to both the
great rivers are separated by the mountains.
It appeared to us, however, that these people
knew more about the country than they chose
to communicate, or at least reached me, as
the interpreter, who had long been tired of
the voyage, might conceal such a part of their
Communications as, in his opinion, would in-
duce me to follow new routes, or extend my
No sooner was the conference concluded,
than they began to dance, which is their fa-
vourite, and, except jumping, their only
amusement. In this pastime old and young,
male and female, continued their exertions,
till their strength was exhausted. This exer-
cise was accompanied by loud imitations of
the various noises produced by the rein-deer,
the bear, and the wolf.
When they had finished their antics, I de-
sired the English chief to renew the former
subjects; which he did without success. I
therefore assumed an angry air, expressed
my suspicions that they withheld their information, and concluded with a menace, that if
they did not give me all the satisfaction in
their power, I would force one of them along
with me to-morrow, to point out the other
river. On this declaration, they all, at one
and the same moment, became sick, and an-
swered in a very faint tone, that they knew
no more than they had already communicated,
and that they should die if I took any of
them away.    They began to persuade my in-
terpeter to remain with them, as they loved
him as well as they did themselves, and that
he would be killed if he continued with me.
Nor did this proposition, aided as it was by
the solicitation of his women, fail of produc-
ing a considerable effect upon him, though
he endeavoured to conceal it from me.
I now found that it would be fruitless for
me to expect any accounts of the country, or
the other great river, till I got to the river of
the Bear Lake, where I expected to find some
of the natives who promised to wait for us
there. These people had actually mentioned
this river to me when we passed them, but I
then paid no attention to that cireumstance,
as I imagined it to be either a misun der standin g of my interpreter, or that it was an in-
vention which, with their other lies, might
tend to prevent me from proceeding down
their river.
We were plentifully supplied with fish, as
well dry as fresh, by these people; they also
gathered as many whortle berries as we chose,
for which we paid with the usual artides of
beads, awls, knives, and tin.    I purchased a
few beaver-skins of them, which, according
to their accounts, are not very numerous in
this country; and that they do not abound in
moose-deer and buffaloes.   They were alarmed
for some of their young men, who were kill-
ing geese higher up the river, and entreat-
ed us to do them no harm.    About sunset I
was under the necessity of shooting one of
their dögs, as we could not keep those animals from our baggage. It was in vain that
I had remonstratéd on this subject, so that I
was obliged to commit the act which has been
just mentioned. When these people heard
the report of the pistol, and saw the dog dead,
they were seized with a very general alarm,
and the women took their children on their
backs and ran into the woods. I ordered the
cause of this act of severity to be explained,
with the assurance that no injury would be
offered to themselves. The woman, however,
to whom the dog belonged, was very much
affected, and declared that the loss of five
children, during the preceding winter, had
not affected her so much as the death of this
animal. But her grief was not of very long
duration; and a few beads, &c., soon assuaged
her sorrow. But as they can without diffi-
culty get rid of their amiction, they can
with equal ease assume it, and feign sickness
if it be necessary with the same versatility.
When we arrived this morning, we found the
women in tears, from an apprehension that
we were come to take them away. To the
eye of an European they certainly were objects of disgust; but there were those among
my party who observed some hidden charms
in these females which rendered them objects
of desire, and means were found, I believe,
that very soon dissipated their alarms and
subdued their coyness.
On the upper part of the beach, liquorice
grew in great abundance and it was now in
blossom. I pulled up some of the roots,
which were large and long; but the natives
were ignorant of its qualities, and considered
it as a weed of no use or value.
Tuesday, 28.—At four this morning I ordered my people to prepare for our departure;
and while they were loading the canoe, I
went with the English chief to visit the
lodges, but the greater part of their inhabitants had quitted them during the night, and
those that remained pretended sickness and
ref use d to rise. When, however, they were
convinced that we did not mean to take any
of them with us, their sickness abandoned
them, and when we had embarked, they came
forth from their huts, to desire that we would
visit their nets, which were at a small distance up the river, and take all the fish we
might find in them. We accordingly availed
ourselves of this permission, and took as
many as were necessary for our own supply.
We landed shortly after where there were
two more lodges, which were full of fish, but
without any inhabitants, who were probably
with the natives whom we had just left.    My
Indians, in rummaging these places, found
several artides which they proposed to take;
I therefore gave beads and awls to be left as
the purchase of them; but this act of justice
they were not able to comprehend, as the
people themselves were not present. I took
up a net and left a large knife in the place of
it. It was about four fathoms long, and
thirty-two meshes in depth; these nets are
much more convenient to set in the eddy current than our long ones. This is the place
that the Indians call a rapid, though we went
up it all the way with the paddle; so that
the current could not be so strong here, as in
many other parts of the river; indeed. if it
were so, the difficulty of towing would be
almost insuperable, as in many parts, the
rocks, which are of a great height, and rather
project över the water, leave no shore between
them and the stream. These precipices
abound in swallows' nests. The weather was
now very sultry, and at eleven we were under
the necessity of landing to gum our canoe.
In about an hour we set forward, and at
one in the afternoon, went on shore at a fire,
which we supposed to have been kindled by
the young men, who, as we had been already
informed, were hunting geese. Our hunters
found their canoe and the fowl they had got,
secreted in the woods; and soon after, the
people themselves, whom they brought to the
water side.    Out of two hundred geese, we
picked thirty-six which were eatable;  the
rest were putrid, and emitted a horrid stench.
They had been killed some time without having been gutted, and in this state of loathsome
röttenness, we have every reason to suppobj
they are eaten by the natives. We paid for
those which we had taken, and departed.
At seven in the evening, the weather became
cloudy and overcast; at eight we encamped;
at nine it began to thunder with great violence ; a heavy rain succeeded, accompanied
with a hurricane, that blew down our tents,
and threatened to carry away the canoe,
which had been fastened to some trees with
a cod-line. The storm lasted two hours, and
deluged us with wet.
Wednesday, 29.—Yesterday the weather
was cloudy, and the heat insupportable; and
now we could not put on clothes enough to
keep us warm. We embarked at a quarter
past four with an aft wind, which drove us
on at a great råte, though the current is very
strong. At ten we came to the other rapid,
which we got up with the line on the West
side, where we found it much stronger than
when we went down; the water had also fallen
at least five feet since that time, so that several shoals appeared in the river which we
had not seen before. One of my hunters
narrowly escaped being drowned in crossing
a river that falls in from the Westward, and
is the most considerable, except the mountain
303 LAÅ
river, that flows in this direction. We had
strong Northerly and cold wind throughout
the whole of the day, and took our station
for the night at a quarter past eight. We
killed a goose and caught some young ones.
Thursday, 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-West.
We were enabled to employ the sail during
part of the day, and encamped at about seven
in the evening. We killed eleven old geese
and förty young ones which had just begun
to fly. The English chief was very much irri-
tated against one of his young men: that
jealousy occasioned this uneasiness, and that
it was not without very suffieient cause, was
all I could discover. For the last two or
three days we had eaten the liquorice root,
of which there is a great abundance on the
banks of the river. We found it a powerful
Friday,   31. — The   rain   was    continual
throughout the night, and did not subside till
nine this morning, when we renewed our pro-
gress.    The wind and weather the same as
yesterday.    About three in the afternoon it
cleared up and the wind died away, when
it became warm.    At fiye the wind veered to
the East, and brought cold along with it.
There were plenty of whortle berries, raspber-
ries, and a berry called poire, which grows in
the greatest abundance. We were very much
impeded in our way by shoals of sand and
small stones which ren der the water shallow
at a distance from the shore. In other places
the bank of the river is lofty: it is formed of
black earth and sand, and, as it is eontinu-
ally falling, displayed to us, in some parts, a
face of solid ice, to within a foot of the sur-
face. We finished this day's voyage at a
quarter before eight, and in the course of it
killed seven geese.
We now had recourse to our corn, for we
had only consumed three days of our original
provision since we began to mount the current. It was my intention to have ascended
the river on the South side from the last
rapid, to discover if there were any rivers of
consequence that flow from the Westward;
but the sand-banks were so numerous and the
current so strong, that I was compelled to
traverse to the opposite side, where the eddy
currents are very frequent, which gave us an
opportunity of setting our nets and making
much more headway.
AUGUST, 1789.
Saturday, 1.—We embarked at three this
morning, the weather being clear and cold,
with the wind at South-East. At three in
the afternoon we traversed and landed to take
the canoe in tow: here was an encampment
of the natives, which we had reason to suppose they had quitted the preceding day. At
five we perceived a family, consisting of a
man, two women, and as many children, sta-
tioned by the side of the water, whom we
had not seen before. They informed us, that
they had but few fish, and that none of their
friends were in the neighbourhood, except
the inhabitants of one lodge on the other side
of the river, and a man who belonged to
them, and who was now occupied in hunting.
I now found my interpreter very unwilling to
ask such questions as were dictated to him,
from the apprehension, as I imagined, that
I might obtain such intelligence as would pre-
vent him from seeing Athabasca this season.
We left him with the Indian, and pitched
our tents at the same place where we had
passed the night on the fifth of last month.
The English chief came along with the Indian
to our fire; and the latter informed us that
the native who went down part of the river
with us had passed there, and that we should
meet with three lodges of his tribe above the
river of the Bear Lake. Of the river to the
Westward he knew nothing, but from the relation of others. This was the first night
since our departure from Athabasca, when it
was sufficiently dark to render the stars.
Sunday, 2.—We set off at three this morning with the towing-line. I walked with my
Indians, as they went faster than the canoe,
and particularly as I suspected that they
wanted to arrive at the huts of the natives
before me. In our way, I observed several
small springs of mineral water running from
the foot of the mountain, and along the beach
I saw several lumps of iron ore. When 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 small
canoe. This river is about two hundred and
fifty yards broad at this place, the water
clear and of a greenish colour. When I
landed on the opposite shore, I discovered
that the natives had been there very lately
from the print of their feet in the sand. We
continued walking till five in the afternoon,
when we saw several smokes along the shore.
As we naturally concluded, that these were
certain indications where we should meet the
natives who were the objects of our search
we quickened our pace; but, in our progress,
experienced a very sulphurous smell, and at
length discovered that the whole bank was
on fire for a very considerable distance. It
proved to be a coal mine, to which the fire
had communicated from an old Indian encampment. The beach was covered with
coals, and the English chief gathered some of
the softest he could find, as a black dye; it
being the mineral, as he informed me, with
which the natives render their quills black.
Here we waited for the large canoe, which
arrived an hour after us. At half past ten
we saw several Indian marks, which consisted
of pieces of bark fixed on poles, and pointing
to the woods, opposite to which is an old
beaten road, that bore the marks of being
lately frequented; the beach also was covered
with tracks. At a small distance were the
poles of five lodges standing; where we landed
and unloaded our canoe. I then despatched
one of my men and two young Indians to see
if they could find any natives within a day?s
march of us. I wanted the English chief to
go, but he pleaded fatigue, and that it would
be of no use. This was the first time he had
refused to comply with my desire, and jeal-
ousy, I believe, was the cause of it in the
present instance; though I had taken every
precaution that he should not have cause to
be jealous of the Canadians. There was not,
at this time, the least appearance of snow on
the opposite mountains, though they were
almost covered with it, when we passed before. Set two nets, and at eleven 0'clock at
night the men and Indians returned. They
had been to their first encampment, where
there were four fires, and which had been
quitted a short time before; so that they were
obliged to make the circuit of several small
lakes, which the natives cross with their
canoes. This encampment was on the borders of a lake which was too large for them
to venture round it, so that they did not proceed any further. They saw several beavers
and beaver lodges in those small lakes. They
killed one of these animals whose fur began
to get long, a sure indication that the fall of
the year approaches. They also saw many
old tracks of the moose and reindeer. This
is the time when the rein-deer leave the
plains to come to the woods, as the mosqui-
toes begin to disappear; I, therefore, appre-
hended that we should not find a single Indian on the river side, as they would be in or
about the mountains setting snares to take
Monday, 8.—We proceeded with a strong
Westerly wind,  at four  this morning, the
weather being cloudy and cold.    At twelve it
cleared up and became fine; the current also
increased. The water had fallen so much
since our passage down the river, that here,
as in other places, we discovered many shoals
which were not then visible. We killed several geese of a larger size than those which
we had generally seen. Several Indian encampments were seen along the river, and we
landed at eight for the night.
Tuesday, 4-—At four in the morning we renewed our course, when it was fine and calm.
The night had been cold and a very heavy
dew had fallen. At nine we were obliged to
land in order to gum the canoe, when the
weather became extremely warm. Numerous
tracks of rein-deer appeared on the side of
the river. At half past five we took our station for the night, and set the nets. The current was very strong all day, and we found it
very diffieult to walk along the beach, from
the large stones which were scattered över it.
Wednesday, 5.—We raised our nets, but
had not the good fortune to take a single fish.
The water was now become so low that the
eddv currents would not ad mit of setting
them. The current had not relaxed its
strength; and the difficulty of walking along
the beach was continued. The air was now
become so cold, that our exercise, violent as
it was, scarce kept us warm. We passed several points which we should not have accom-
plished, if the canoe had been loaded. We
were very much fatigued, and at six were
glad to conclude our toilsome march. The
Indians killed two geese. The women, who
did not quit the canoe, were continually employed in making shoes of moose-skin, for
the men, as a pair did not last more than a
Thursday, 6.—The rain prevented us from
proceeding till half past six, when we had a
strong af t wind, which, aided by the paddles,
drove us on at a great råte. We encamped
at six to wait for our Indians, whom we had
not seen since the morning; and at half past
seven they arrived very much dissatisfied with
their day?s journey. Two days had now
elapsed, since we had seen the least appearance of Indian habitations.
Friday,   7.—We  embarked  at  half past
three, and soon after perceived two rein-deer
on  the  beach  before  us.    We   accordingly
checked our course; but our Indians, in con-
tending who should be the first to get near
these animals, alarmed and löst them.    We,
however, killed a female rein-deer, and from
the wounds in her hind legs, it was supposed
that she had been pursued by wolves, who
had devoured her young one: her udder was
full of milk, and one of the young Indians
poured it among some boiled corn, which he
ate with great delight, esteeming it a very
delicious food. At five in the afternoon we
saw an animal running along the beach, but
could not determine whether it was a grey
fox or a dog. In a short time, we went
ashore for the night, at the entrance of a
small river, as I thought there might be some
natives in the vicinity of the place. I ordered my hunters to put their fusees in order, and gave them ammunition to proceed
on a hunting party the next day; they were
also instructed to discover if there were any
natives in the neighbouring mountains. I
found a small canoe at the edge of the woods,
which contained a paddle and a bow: it had
been repaired this spring, and the workman-
ship of the bark excelled any that I had yet
seen. We saw several encampments in the
course of the day. The current of the river
was very strong, and along the points equal
to rapids.
Saturday, 8.—The rain was very violent
throughout the night, and continued till the
afternoon of this day, when the weather began to clear, with a strong, cold, and Westerly wind. At three the Indians proceeded
on the hunting expedition, and at eight they
returned without having met with the least
success; though they saw numerous tracks
of the rein-deer. They came to an old beaten
road, which one of them followed for some
time;  but it did not  appear to have  been
lately frequented. The rain now returned,
and continued till the morning.
Sunday, 9.—We renewed our voyage at
half past three, the weather being cold and
cloudy; but at ten it became clear and moderate. We saw another canoe at the outside
of the wood, and one of the Indians killed a
dog, which was in a meagre, emaciated con-
dition. We perceived various places where
the natives had made their fires; for these
people re side but a short time near the river,
and remove from one bank to the other, as it
suits their purposes. We saw a path which
was connected with another on the opposite
side of the river. The water had risen con-
siderably since last night, and there had been
a strong current throughout the day. At
seven we made to the shore and encamped.
Monday, 10.—At three this morning we returned to our canoe; the weather fine and
clear, with a light wind from the South-East.
The Indians were before us in pursuit of
game. At ten we landed opposite to the
mountains which we had passed on the second
of the last month, in order to ascertain the
variation of the compass at this place: but
this was accomplished in a very imperfect
manner, as I could not depend on my watch.
One of the hunters joined us here, fatigued
and unsuccessful. As these mountains are
the last of any considerable magnitude on the
South-West side of the river, I ordered my
men to cross to that side of it, that I might
ascend one of them. It was near four in the
afternoon when I landed, and I löst no time
in proceeding to the attainment of my object.
I was accompanied only by a young Indian,
as the curiosity of my people was subdued by
the f atigue they had undergone; and we soon
had reason to believe that we should pay
dearly for the indulgence of our own. The
wood, which was chiefly of spruce firs, was so
thick that it was with great difficulty we made
our way through it. When we had walked
upwards of an hour, the under-wood de-
creased, while the white birch and poplar
were the largest and tallest of their kind that
I had ever seen. The ground now began to
rise, and was covered with small pines, and
at length we got the first view of the mountains since we had left the canoe; as they appeared to be no nearer to us, though we had
been walking for three hours, than when we
had seen them from the river, my companion
expressed a very great anxiety to return; his
shoes and leggins were torn to pieces, and he
was alarmed at the idea of passing through
such bad roads during the night. I persisted,
however, in proceeding, with a determination
to pass the night on the mountains and return
on the morrow.   As we approached them, the
ground was quite marshy, and we waded in
water and grass up to the knees, till we came
within a mile of them, when I suddenly sunk
up to my arm-pits, and it was with some dif-
ficulty that I extricated myself from this dis-
agreeable situation.    I now found it impos-
sible to proceed; to cross this marshy ground
in a straight line was impracticable, and it
extended so far to the right and left, that I
could not  attempt to make  the  circuit;   I
therefore determined to return to the canoe,
and arrived there about midnight, very much
fatigued with this fruitless jorney.
Tuesday, 11.—We observed several tracks
along the beach, and an encampment at the
edge of the woods, which appeared to be five
or six days old.    We should have continued
our route along this side of the river, but we
had not  seen our  hunters  since  y ester day
morning.    We accordingly embarked before
three, and at five traversed the river, when
we saw two of them coming down in search
of us.    They had killed no other animals
than one beaver, and a few hares.    According
to their account, the woods were so thick that
it was impossible to follow the game through
them.   They had seen several of the natives'
encampments, at no great distance from the
river; and it was their opinion that they had
discovered us in our passage down it, and had
taken care to avoid us; which accounted for
the small number we had seen on our return.
I requested the English chief to return
with me to the other side of the river, in order
that he might proceed to discover the natives,
whose tracks and habitations we had seen
there; but he was backward in complying with
my desire, and proposed to send the young
men; but I could not trust to them, and at
the same time was become rather doubtful of
him. They were still af raid lest I should
obtain such accounts of the other river as
would induce me to travel överland to it, and
that they should be called upon to accompany
me. I was, indeed, informed by one of my
own people, that the English chief, his wives
and companions, had determned to leave me
on this side 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 some of his relatons, who, during the
last spring, had been engaged in war.
We now traversed the river, and continued
to track the Indians till past twelve, when
we löst all traces of them; in consequence, as
we imagined, of their having crossed to the
Eastern side.    We saw several dögs on both
shores; and one of the young Indians killed
a wolf, which the men ate with great satis-
faction: we shot, also, fifteen young geese
that were now beginning to fly.   It was eight
when we took our evening station, having
löst four hours in making our traverse s.
There was no interruption of the fine weather
during the course of this day.
Wednesday, 12.—We proceeded on our
voyage at three this morning, and despatched
the two young Indians across the river, that
we might not miss any of the natives that
should be on the banks of it. We saw many
places where fires had been lately made along
the beach, as well as fire running in the
woods. At four we arrived at an encampment which had been left this morning.
Their tracks were observable in several piaces
in the woods, and as it might be presumed
that they could not be at any great distance,
it was proposed to the chief to accompany me
in search of them. We accordingly, though
with some hesitation on his part, penetrated
several miles into the woods, but without dis-
covering the objects of our research. The
fire had spread all över the country, and had
burned about three inches of the black, light
soil, which covered a body of cold clay, that
was so härd as not to receive the least impression of our feet. At ten we returned
from our unsuccessful excursion. In the
mean time the hunters had killed seven
geese. There were several showers of rain,
accompanied with gusts of wind and thunder.
The nets had been set during our absence.
Thursday, 13.—The nets were taken up,
tära "
SS mm
but not one fish was found in them; and at
half past three we continued our route, with
very favourable weather. We passed several
places, where fires had been made by the natives, and many tracks were perceptible along
the beach. At seven we were opposite the
island where our pemmican had been con-
cealed: two of the Indians were accordingly
despatched in search of it, and it proved very
acceptable, as it rendered us more independ-
ent of the provisions which were to be obtained by our fowling pieces, and qualified
us to get out of the river without that delay
which our hunters would otherwise have re-
quired. In a short time we perceived a smoke
on the shore to the South-West, at the distance of three leagues, which did not appear
to proceed from any running fire. The Indians, who were a little way ahead of us, did
not discover it, being engaged in the pursuit
of a flock of geese, at which they fired several
shots, when the smoke immediately disap-
peared; and in a short time we saw several
of the natives run along the shore, some of
whom entered their canoes. Though we were
almost opposite to them, we could not cross
the river without going further up it, from
the strength of the current; I therefore ordered our Indians to make every possible ex-
ertion, in order to speak with them, and wait
our arrival.    But as soon as our small canoe
struck off, we could perceive the poor af-
frighted people hästen to the shore, and after
drawing their canoes on the beach, hurry into
the woods. It was past ten before we landed
at the place where they had deserted their
canoes, which were four in number. They
were so terrified that they had left several
artides on the beach. I was very much dis-
pleased with my Indians, who instead of
seeking the natives, were dividing their property. I rebuked the English chief with some
severity for his conduct, and immediately ordered him, his young men, and my own people, to go in search of the fugitivs, but their
fears had made them too nimble for us, and
we could not overtake them. We saw several
dögs in the woods, and some of them followed
us to our canoe.
The English chief was very much displeased
at my reproaches, and expressed himself to
me in person to that effect. This was the
very opportunity which I wanted, to make
him acquainted with my dissatisfaction for
some time past. I stated to him that I had
come a great way, and at a very considerable
expense, without having completed the object
of my wishes, and that I suspected he had
concealed from me a principal part of what
the natives had told him respecting the country, lest he should be obliged to follow me:
that his reason for not killing game, &c, was
his jealousy, which likewise prevented him'
from looking after the natives as he ought;
and that wé had never given him any cause
for any suspicions of us. These suggestions
irritated him in a very high degree, and he
accused me of speaking ill words to him; he
denied the charge of jealousy, and declared
that he did not conceal any thing from us;
an that as to the ill success of their hunting,
it arose from the nature of the country, and
the scarcity, which had hitherto appeared, of
animals in it. He concluded by informing
me that he would not accompany me any
further: that though he was without ammunition, he could live in the same manner as
the slaves (the name given to the inhabitants
of that part of the country), and that he
would remain among them. His harangue
was succeeded by a loud and bitter lamenta-
tion; and his relations assisted the vocifera-
tions of his grief; though they said that their
tears flowed for their dead friends. I did
not interrupt their grief for two hours, but as
I could not well do without them, I was at
length obliged to soothe it, and induce the
chief to change his resolution, which he did,
but with great apparent reluctance; when we
embarked as we had hitherto done.
The artides which the fugitives had left behind them,  on the present occasion,   were
bows, arrows, snares for moose and rein-deer,
and for hares; to these may be added a few
dishes, made of bark, some skins of the mar-
ten and the beaver, and old beaver robes,
with a small robe made of the skin of the
lynx.    Their canoes were coarsely made of
the bark of the spruce-fir, and will carry two
or three people.    I ordered my men to remove
them to the shade, and gave most of the other
artides to the young Indians.    The English
chief would not accept of any of them.    In
the place, and as the purchase of them, I left
some cloth, some small knives, a filé, two fire-
steels, a comb, rings, with beads and awls.
1 also ordered a marten skin to be placed on
a proper mould,  and  a  beaver skin to be
stretched  on  a frame,   to  which  I tied a
scraper.    The Indians were of opinion that
all these artides would be löst, as the na-
tivs were so much frightened that they would
never return.    Here we löst six hours; and
on our quitting the place, three of the dögs
which I have already mentioned followed us
along the beach. •
We pitched our tents at half past eight, at
the entrance of the river of the mountain;
and while  the people were  unloading the
canoe, I took a walk along the beach, and on
the shoals, which being uncovered since we
passed down, by the sinking of the waters,
were now white with a saline substance.    I
sent for the English chief to sup with me,
21 321
' |.T: .
and a dram or two dispelled all his heart-
burning and discontent. He informed me
that it was a custom with the Chepewyan
chiefs to go to war after they had shed tears,
in order to wipe away the disgrace attached
to such a feminine weakness, and that in the
ensuing spring he should not fail to execute
his design; at the same time he declared his
intention to continue with us as long as I
should want him. I took care that he should
carry some liquid consolation to his lodge, to
prevent the return of his chagrin. The
weather was fine, and the Indians killed three
Friday, 14>—At a quarter before four this
morning, we returned to our canoe, and went
about two miles up the river of the mountains. Fire was in the ground on each side of
it. In traversing, I took soundings, and
found five, four and an half, and three and
an half fathoms water. Its stream was very
muddy, and formed a cloudy streak along the
water of the great river, on the West side to
the Eastern rapid, where the waters of the
two rivers at length blend in one. It was hn-
possible not to consider it as an extraordinary
cireumstance, that the current of the former
river should not incorporate with that of the
1 ätter, but flow, as it were, in distinct streams
at so great a distance, and till the contracted
state of the channel unites them.   We passed
several encampments of the 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 past
five in the afternoon. There were plenty of
berries, which my people called poires: they
are of a purple hue, somewhat bigger than a
pea, and of a luscious taste; there were also
gooseberries, and a few strawberries.
Saturday, 15.—We continued our course
from three in the morning till half past five
in the afternoon. We saw several encampments along the beach, till it became too narrow to admit them; when the banks rose into
a considerable degree of elevation, and there
were more eddy currents. The Indians killed
twelve geese, and berries were collected in
great abundance. The weather was sultry
throughout the day.
Sunday, 16.—We continued our voyage at
a quarter before four, and in five hours passed
the place where we had been stationed on the
13th of June. Here the river widened, and
its shores became flat. The land on the
North side is low, composed of a black soil,
mixed with stones, but agreeably covered
with the aspen, the poplar, the white birch,
the spruce-fir, &c. The current was so moderate, that we proceeded upon it almost as
fast as in dead water.    At twelve we passed
an encampment of three fires, which was the
only one we saw in the course of the day.
The weather was the same as yesterday.
Monday, 17.—We proceeded at half past
three; and saw three successive encampments.
From the peculiar structure of the huts, we
imagined that some of the Bed-Knife Indians
had been in this part of the country, though
it is not usual for them to come this way. I
had last night ordered the young Indians to
precede us, for the purpose of hunting, and
at ten we overtook them. They had killed
five young swans; and the English chief presented us with an eagle, three cranes, a small
beaver, and two geese. We encamped at
seven this evening on the same spöt which
had been our resting-place on the 29th of
Tuesday, 18.—At four this morning I
equipped all the Indians for an hunting ex-
cursion, and sent them onward, as our stock
of provision was nearly exhausted. We followed at half past six, and crossed över to the
North shore, where the land is low and
scarcely visible in the horizon. It was near
twelve when we arrived. I now got an observation, when it was 61. 33. North latitude.
We were near five miles to the North of the
main channel of the river. The fresh tracks
and beds of buffaloes were very perceptible.
Near this place a river flowed in from the
Horn Mountains, which are at no great dis-
tance. We landed at five in the afternoon,
and before the canoe was unloaded, the English chief arrived with the tongue of a cow,
or female buffalo, when four men and the Indians were despatched for the flesh; but they
did not return till it was dark. They informed me, that they had seen several human
tracks in the sand on the opposite island.
The fine weather continued without interrup-
Wednesday, 19.—The Indians were again
sent forward in pursuit of game; and some
time being employed in gumming the canoe,
we did not embark till half past Hvef and at
nine we landed to wait the return of the
hunters. I here found the variation of the
compass to be about twenty degrees East.
The people made themselves paddles and
repaired the canoe. It is an extraordinary
cireumstance for which I do not pretend to
account, that there is some peculiar quality
in the water of this river, which corrodes
wood, from the destruetive effect it had on
the paddles. The hunters arrived at a late
hour, without having seen any large animals.
Their booty consisted only of three swans and
as many geese. The women were employed
in gathering cranberries and crowberries,
which were found in great abundance.
Thursday, 20.- -We embarked at four
o^clock,  and  took  the  North  side  of the JOURNAL OF A VOYAGE TÄROUGH THE
channel, though the current was on that side
much stronger, in order to take a view of the
river, which had been mentioned to me in our
passage downwards, as flowing from the
country of the Beaver Indians, and which f ell
in hereabouts. We could not, however, dis-
cover it, and it is probable that the account
was referable to the river which we had
passed on Tuesday. The current was very
strong, and we crossed över to an island opposite to us; here it was still more impetu-
ous, and assumed the hurry of a rapid. We awl and a paddle on the side of the
water; the former we knew to belong to the
Knisteneaux: I supposed it to be the chief
Mer de-d'our's and his party, who went to
war last spring, and had taken this route on
their return to Athabasca. Nor is it improb-
able that they may have been the cause that
we saw so few of the natives on the banks of
this river. The weather was raw and cloudy,
and formed a very unpleasant contrast to the
warm, sunny days, which immediately pre-
ceded it. We took up our abode for the
night at half past seven, on the Northern
shore, where the adjacent country is both low
and flat. The Indians killed five young
swans, and a beaver. There was an appearance of rain.
Friday, 21.—The weather was cold, with a
strong Easterly wind and frequent showers,
so that we were detained in our statiom In
the afternoon the Indians got on the track of
a moose-deer, but were not so fortunate as to
overtake it.
Saturday, 22.—The wind veered round to
the Westward, and continued to blow strong
and cold. We, however, renewed our voyage,
and in three hours reached the entrance of
the Slave Lake, under half sail; with the
paddle, it would have taken us at least eight
hours. The Indians did not arrive till four
hours after us; but the wind was so violent,
that it was not expedient to venture into the
lake; we therefore set a net, and encamped
for the night. The women gathered large
quantities of the fruit already mentioned,
called Pathagomenan, and cranberries, crow-
berries, mooseberries, &c. The Indians killed
two swans and three geese.
Sunday, 23.—The net produced but five
small pike, and at five we embarked, and en-
tered the lake by the same channel through
which we had passed from it. The South-
West side would have been the shortest, but
we were not certain of there being plenty of
fish along the coast, and we were sure of
finding abundance of them in the course we
preferred. Besides, I expected to find my
people at the place where I left them, as they
had received orders to remain there till the
fall. m     I    :   §    #-■
We paddled a long way into a deep bay to
get the wind, and having left our mast behind us, we landed to cut another. We then
hoisted sail, and were driven on at a great
råte. At twelve the wind and swell were
augmented to such a degree, that our under
yard broke, but luckily the mast thwart re-
sisted, till we had time to fästen down the
yard with a pole, without lowering sail.
We took in a large quantity of water, and
had our mast given way, in all probability,
we should have filled and sunk. Our course
continued to be very dangerous, along a flat
lee-shore, without being able to land till
three in the afternoon. Two men were con-
tinually employed in bailing out the water
which we took in on all sides. We fortu-
nately doubled a point that screened us from
the wind and swell, and encamped for the
night, in order to wait for our Indians. We
then set our nets, made a yard and mast, and
gummed the canoe. On visiting the nets, we
found six white fish, 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 pro-
duced fourteen white fish, ten pikes, and a
couple of trouts.    At five we embarked with a
light breeze from the South, when we hoisted
sail, and proceeded slowly, as our Indians
had not come up with us. At eleven we went
on shore to prepare the kettle, and dry the
nets; at one we were again on the water.
At four in the afternoon, we perceived a large
canoe with a sail, and two small ones ahead;
we soon came up with them, when they
jDroved to be M. Le Roux and an Indian, with
his family, who were on a hunting party, and
had been out twenty-five days. It was his
intention to have gone as far as the river, to
leave a letter for me, to inform me of his
situation. He had seen no more Indians
where I had left him; but had made a
voyage to Lac la Marte, where he met eighteen small canoes of the Slave Indians, from
whom he obtained five pack of skins, which
were principally those of the marten. There
were four Beaver Indians among them, who
had bartered the greatest part of the above
mentioned artides with them, before his ar-
rival. They informed him that their relations had more skins, but that they were
af raid to venture with them, though they
had been informed that people were to come
with goods to barter for them. He gave
these people a pair of ice chisels each, and
other artides, and sent them away to conduct their friends to the Slave Lake, where
he was to remain during the succeeding
We set  three nets, and in  a short time
caught twenty fish of different kinds. In the
dusk of the evening, the English chief arrived
with a most pitiful account that he had like
to have been drowned in trying to follow us;
and that the other men had also a very narrow escape. Their canoe, he said, had broken
on the swell, at some distance from the shore,
but as it was flat, they had with his assist-
ance been able to save themselves. He added,
that he left them lamenting, lest they should
not overtake me, if I did not wait for them;
he also expressed his apprehensions that they
would not be able to repair their canoe. This
evening I gave my men some rum to cheer
them after their fatigues..
Tuesday, 25.—We rose this morning at a
late hour, when we visited the nets, which
produced but few fish: my people, indeed,
partook of the stores of M. Le Roux. A t
eleven, the young Tndians arrived, and re-
proached me for having left them so far behind. They had killed two swans, and
brought me one of them. The wind was
Southerly throughout the day, and too strong
for us to depart, as we were at the foot of a
grand traverse. At noon I had an observation, which gave 61. 29. North latitude.
Such was the state of the weather, that we
could not visit our nets. In the afternoon,
the sky darkened, and there was lightning,
accompanied  with  loud   claps  of   thunder.
The wind also veered round to the Westward,
and blew a hurricane.
Wednesduy, 26.—It rained throughout the
night, and till eight in the morning, without
any alteration in the wind. The Indians
went on a hunting excursion, but returned
altogether without success in the evening.
One of them was so unfortunate as to miss a
moose-deer. In the afternoon there were
heavy showers, with thunder, &c.
Thursday, 27.—We embarked before four,
and hoisted sail. At nine we landed to dress
victuals, and wait for M. Le Roux and the
Indians. A t eleven, we proceeded with fine
and calm weather. A t four in the afternoon,
a light breeze sprang up to the Southward, to
which we spread our sail, and at half past
five in the afternoon, went on shore for the
night. We then set our nets. The English
chief and his people being quite exhausted
with fatigue, he this morning expressed his
desire to remain behind, in order to proceed
to the country of the Beaver Indians, engag-
ing at the same time, that he would return to
Athabasca in the course of the winter.
Friday, 28.—It blew very härd throughout
the night, and this morning, so that we found
it a business of some difficulty to get to our
nets; our trouble, however, was repaid by a
considerable quantity of white fish, trout, &e.
Towards the afternoon the wind increased.
Two of the men who had been gathering berries saw two moose-deer, with the tracks of
buffaloes and rein-deer. About sunset we
heard two shots, and saw a fire on the opposite side of the bay; we accordingly made a
large fire also, that our position might be de-
termined. When we were all gone to bed, we
heard the report of a gun very near us, and
in a very short time the English chief presented himself drenched with wet, and in
much apparent confusion informed me that
the canoe with his companions was broken to
pieces; and that they had löst their fowling
pieces, and the flesh of a rein-deer, which
they had killed this morning. They were,
he said, at a very short distance from us;
and at the same time requested that fire might
be sent to them, as they were starving with
cold. They and his women, however, soon
joined us, and were immediately accommo-
dated with dry clothes.
Saturday, 29.—I sent the Indians on an
hunting party, but they returned without suc-
cess; and they expressed their determination
not to follow me any further, from their ap-
prehension of being drowned.
Sunday, 80.—We  embarked   at one this
morning,   and took   from the  nets  a large
trout, and twenty white fish.    At sunrise a
smart aft breeze sprang up, which wafted us
to M. Le Roux's house by two in the after-
noon. It was late before he and our Indians
arrived; when, according to a promise which
I had made the latter, I gave them a plenti-
frl equipment of iron ware, ammunition, tobacco, &c, as a recompense for the toil and
inconvenience they had sustained with me.
I proposed to the English chief to proceed
to the country of the Beaver Indians, and
bring them to dispose of their peltries to M.
Le Roux, whom I intended to leave there the
ensuing winter. He had already engaged to
be at Athabasca, in the month of March next,
with plenty of furs.
Monday, 31.—I sat up all night to make
the necessary arrängements for the embarka-
tion of this morning, and to prepare instruc-
tions for M. Le Roux. We obtained some
provisions here, and parted from him at five,
with fine calm weather. It soon, however,
became necessary to land on a small island,
to stop the leakage of the canoe, which had
been occasioned by the shot of an arrow under
the water mark, by some Indian children.
While this business was proceeding, we took
the opportunity of dressing some fish. At
twelve, the wind sprang up from the South-
East, which was in the teeth of our direction,
so that our progress was greatly impeded. I
had an observation, which gave 62. 15. North
latitude. We landed at seven in the evening,
and pitched our tents.
Tuesday, 1.—We continued our voyage at
five in the morning, the weather calm and
fine, and passed the Isle a la Cache about
twelve, but could not perceive the land, which
was seen in our former passage. On passing
the Carreboeuf Islands, at five in the afternoon, we saw land to the South by West,
which we thought was the opposite side of
the lake, stretching away to a great distance.
We landed at half past six in the evening,
when there was thunder, and an appearance
of chanere in the weather.
Wednesday, 2.—It rained and blew härd
the latter part of the night. At half past
five the rain subsided, when we made a traverse of twelve miles, and took in a good deal
of water. At twelve it became calm, when I
had an observation, which gave 61. 36.
North latitude. At three in the afternoon,
there was a slight breeze from the Westward
which soon increased, when we hoisted sail,
and took a traverse of twenty-four miles, for
the point of the old Fort, where we arrived
at seven, and stopped for the night. This
traverse shortened our way three leagues; indeed we did not expect to have cleared the
lake in sucli a short time.
It blew with erreat violence
throughout  the night,   and  at four in the
morning we embarked, when we did not make
more than tive miles in three hours, without
stopping; notwithstanding we were sheltered
from the swell by a long bank. We now en-
tered tbe small river, where the wind could
have no effect upon us. There were frequent
showers in the course of the day, and we en-
camped at six in the evening.
Friday, 4-—r-Tne morning was dark and
cloudy, nevertheless we embarked at Uve',
but at ten it cleared up. We saw a few fowl,
and at seven in the evening, went on shore
for the night.
Saturday, 5.—The weather continued to be
cloudy. At five we proceeded, and at eight it
began to rain very härd. In about half an
hour we put to shore, and were detained for
the remaining part of the day.
Sunday, 6.—It rained throughout the night,
with a strong North wind. Numerous flocks
of wild fowl passed to the Southward; at six
in the afternoon, the rain, in some measure,
subsided, and we embarked, but it soon returned with renewed violence; we, nevertheless took the advantage of an aft wind,
though it cost us a complete drenching. The
hunters killed seven geese, and we pitched
our tents at half past six in the evening.
Monday, 7.—We were on the water at five
this morning, with a head wind, accompanied
by successive showers. At three in the afternoon, we ran the canoe on a stump, and it
filled with water before she could be got to
land. Two hours were employed in repairing
her, and at seven in the evening, we took our
station for the night.
Tuesday, 8.—We renewed our voyage at
half past four in a thick mist which lästed
till nine, when it cleared away, and fine
weather succeeded. At three in the afternoon we came to the first carrying-place, Fortage des Noyes, and encamped at the upper
end of it to dry our clothes, some of which
were almost rotten.
Wednesday, 9.—We embarked at five in
the morning, and our canoe was damaged on
the men' s shoulders, who were bearing it över
the carrying-place, called Fortage du Che-
tique. 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 Förtage de la
Möntagne. After having passed the carrying-
places, we encamped at the Dog River, at
half past four in the afternoon, in a state of
great fatigue. The canoe was again gummed,
and paddles were made to replace those that
had been broken in ascending the rapids. A
swan was the only animal we killed throughout the day.
Thursday, 10.—There was rain and violent
wind during the night °. in the morning the
former   subsided  and the  latter  increased.
At half past five we continued our course
with a North-Westerly wind. At seven we
hoisted sail: in the forenoon there were frequent showers of rain and hail, and in the
afternoon two showers of snow: the wind
was at this time very strong, and at six in
the evening we landed at a lodge of Knisteneaux, consisting of three men and five women and children. They were ön their return
from war, and one of them was very sick:
they separated from the rest of their party in
the enemy?s country, from absolute hunger.
After this separation, they met with a family
of the hostile tribe, whom they destroyed.
They were entirely ignorant of the fäte of
their friends, but imagined that they had returned to the Peace River, or had perished
for want of food. I gave medicine to the
sick,# and a small portion of ammunition to
* This man had conceived an idea, that the people
with whom he had been at war, had thrown medicine at him, which had caused his present complaint,
and that he despaired of recovery. The natives are
so superstitious, that this idea alone was sufficient to
kill him. Of this weakness I took advantage; and
assured him, that if he would never more go to war
with such poor defenceless people, I would cure
him. To this proposition he readily consented, and
on my giving him medicine, which consisted of
Turlington's balsam, mixed in water, I declared
that it would lose its effect, if he was not sincere in
the promise that he made me. In short, he actually
recovered, was true to his engagements, and on all
occasioQS manifested his srratitude to me.
the healthy; which, indeed, they very much
wanted, as they had entirely lived for the
last six months on the produce of their bows
and arrows. They appeared to have been
great sufferers by their expedition.
Friday, 11.—It froze härd during the
night, and was very cold throughoiit the day,
with an appearance of snow. We embarked
at half past four in the morning, and continued our course till six in the evening,
when we landed for the night at our encampment of the third of June.
Saturday9 12.—The weather was cloudy,
and also very cold. At eight, we embarked
with a North-East wind, and entered the
Lake of the Hills. About ten, the wind
veered to the West-ward, and was as strong
as we could be ar it with the high sail, so
that we arrived at Chepewyan fort by three
o'clock in the afternoon, where we found Mr.
Macleod, with five men busily employed in
building a new house. Here, then, we concluded thic voyage, which had occupied the
considerable space of one hundred and two
OCTOBER 10, 1792.
Having made every necessary preparation,
I left Fort Chepewyan, to proceed up the
Peace River. I had resolved to go as far as
our most distant settlement, which would oc-
cupy the remaining part of the season, it being the route by which I proposed to attempt
my next discovery, across the mountains
from the source of that river; for whatever
distance I could reach this fall, would be a
proportionate advancement of my voyage.
In consequence of this design, I left the
establishment of Fort Chepewyan, in charge
of Mr. Roderic Mackenzie, accompanied by
two canoes laden with the necessary artides
for trade: we accordingly steered West for
one of the branches that communicates with
the Peace River, called the Pine River; at
the entrance of which we waited for the other
canoes, in order to take some supplies from
them, as I had reason to apprehend they
would not be able to keep up with us. We
entered the Peace River at seven in the morning of the 12th, taking a Westerly course.
It is evident, that all the land between it and
the Lake of the Hills, as far as the Elk River,
is formed by the quantity of earth and mud,
which is carried down by the streams of those
two great rivers. In this space there are several lakes. The Lake Clear Water, which is
the deepest, Lake Vassieu, and the Athabasca
Lake, which is the largest of the three, and
whose denomination in the Kneisteneanx language implies, a flat, low, swampy country,
subject to inundations. The two last lakes
are now so shallow, that from the cause just
mentioned, there is every reason to expect,
that in a few years they will have exchanged
their character, and become extensive forests.
This country is so level, that, at some sea-
sons, it is entirely overflowed, which accounts
for the periodical influx and reflux of the
waters between the Lake of the Hills and the
Peace River.
On the 13th at noon we came to the Peace
Point; from which, according to the report
of my interpreter, the river derives its name;
it was the spöt where the Knisteneaux and
Beaver Indians settled their dispute; the real
name of the river and point being that of
the land which was the object of conten-
When this country was formerly invaded
by the Knisteneaux, they found the Beaver
Indians inhabiting the land about Portage la
Roche; and the adjoining tribe were those
whom they called slaves.    They drove both
these tribes before them; when the latter
proceeded down the river from the Lake of
the Hills, in consequence of which that part
of it obtained the name of the Slave River.
The former proceeded up the river; and when
the Knisteneaux made peace with them, this
place was settled to be the boundary.
We continued our voyage, and I did not
find the current so strong in this river as I
had been ihduced to believe, though this, per-
haps, was not the period to form a correct
notion of that cireumstance, as well as of the
breadth, the water being very low; so that
the stream has not appeared to me to be in
any part that I have seen, more than a quarter of a mile wide.
The weather was cold and raw, so as to
render our progress unpleasant; at the same
time we did not relax in our expedition, and,
at three 011 the afternoon of the 17th we arrived at the falls. The river at this place is
about four hundred yards broad, and the fall
about twenty feet high: the first carrying
place is eight hundred paces in length, and
the last, which is about a mile onwards, is
something more than two-thirds of that distance. Here we found several fires, from
which cireumstance we concluded, that the
canoes destined for this quarter, Which left
the fort some days before us, could not be far
a-head.    The weather continued to be very
^'^!^w^5ilsgs^s£^giS;r^^ JOURNAL OF A VOYAGE THROUGH THE
cold, and the snow that fell during the night
was several inches deep.
On the morning of the 18th, as soon as we
got out of the draught of the fall, the wind
being at North-East, and strong in our fa-
vour, we hoisted sail, which carried us on at
a considerable råte against the current, and
passed the Loon River before twelve o?clock;
from thence we soon came along the Grande
Isle, at the upper end of which we encamped
for the night. It now froze very härd: indeed, it had so much the appearance of winter, that I began to entertain some alarm lest
we might be stopped by the ice : we theref ore
set off at three o?clock in the morning of the
19th, and about eight we landed at the Old
The passage to this place from Athabasca
having been surveyed by M. Vandrieul, formerly in the Company's service, I did not
think it necessary to give any particular ätten tion to it; I shall, however, just observe,
that the course in general from the Lake of
the Hills to the falls, is Westerly, and as
much to the North as the South of it, from
thence it is about West-South-West to this
The country in general is low from our en-
trance of the river to the falls, and with the
exception of a few open parts covered with
grass, it is clothed with wood.    Where the
banks are very low the soil is good, being
composed of the sediment of the river and
putrefied leaves and vegetables. Where they
are more elevated, they display a face of yel*
lowish clay, mixed with small stones. On a
line with the falls, and on either side of the
river, there are said to be very extensive
plains, which afford pasture to numerous herds
of buffaloes. Our people a-head slept here
last night, and, from their carelessness, the
fire was communicated to and burned down,
the large house, and was proceeding fast to
the smaller buildings when we arrived to ex-
tinguish it.
We continued our voyage, the course of the
river being South-West by West one mile
and a quarter, South by East one mile, South-
West by South three miles, West by South
one mile, South-South-West two miles, South
four miles, South-West seven miles and a
half, South by West one mile, North-North-
West two miles and a half, South Ove miles
and a quarter, South-West one mile and a
half, North-East by East three miles and a
half, and South-East by East one mile.
We overtook Mr. Finlay, with his canoes,
who was encamped near the fort of which he
was going to take the charge, during the en-
suing winter, and made every necessary pre-
parative for a becoming appearance on our ar-
rival the following morning.   Although I had
been since the year 1787, in the Athabasca
country, I had never yet seen a single native
of that part of it which we had now reached.
At six o'clock in the morning of the 20th,
we landed before the house amidst the rejoic-
ing and firing of the people, who were ani-
mated with the prospect of again indulging
themselves in the luxury of rum, of which
they had been deprived since the beginning of
May; as it is a practice throughout the North-
West neither to sell or give any rum to the
natives during the summer. There was at
this time only one chief with his people, the
other two being hourly expected with their
bands; and on the 21st and 22d they all arrived except the war chief and fifteen men.
As they very soon expressed their desire of
the expected regale, I called them together,
to the number of forty-two hunters, or men
capable of bearing arms, to offer some ad vice,
which would be equally advantageous to them
and to us, and I strengthened my admonition
with a nine gallon cask of reduced rum, and
a quantity of tobacco. At the same time I
observed, that as I should not often visit
them, I had instanced a greater degree of lib-
erality than they had been accustomed to.
The number of people belonging to this
establishment amounts to about three hundred, of which, sixty are hunters.   Although
they appear from their language to be of the
same stock as the Chepewyans, they differ
from them in appearance, manners, and cus-
toms, as they have adopted those of their
former enemies, the Knisteneaux; they speak
their language, as well as cut their hair, paint,
and dress like them, and possess their iinmod-
erate fondness for liquor and tobacco. This
description, however, can be applied only to
the men, as the women are less adorned even
than those of the Chepewyan tribes. We
could not observe, without some degree of
surprize, the contrast between the neat and
decent appearance of the men, and the nasti-
ness of the women. I am disposed, however,
to think, that this cireumstance is generally
owing to the extreme sabmission and abase-
ment of the latter: for I observed, that one
of the chiefs allowed two of his wives more
liberty and familiarity than were accorded to
the others, as well as a more becoming exteriör, and their appearance was proportionably pleasing; I shall, however, take a future
opportunity to speak more at large on this
There were frequent changes of the weather
in the course of the day, and it froze rather
härd in the night. The thickness of the ice
in the morning was a sufficient notice for me
to proceed. I aecordingly gave the natives
such good counsel as might influence their be-
haviour, communicated my directions to Mr.
!PMl.!J!ll!!tli!!JLiJ''M||il!.i!r.L'JdllM!!Bl!iiUl>}iJll JOURNAL OF A VOYAGE THROUGH THE
Findlay for his future conduct, and took my
leave under several vollies of musketry, on
the morning of the 23d.    I had already dis-
patched my loaded canoes two days before,
with  directions  to  continue  their progress
without waiting for me.      Our course was
South-South-East one mile and an half, South
three quarters; East seven miles and a half,
veering gradually to the West four miles and
an half.    South-East by South three miles,
South-East three miles and an half,  East-
South-East to Long Point three miles, Sonth-
West one mile and a quarter, East by North
four miles and three  quarters, West three
miles and an half, West-South-West one mile,
East by South five miles and a half, South
three miles and three quarters, South-East by
South   three  miles,   East-South-East   three
miles, East-North-East one mile, when there
was a river that flowed in on the right, East
two miles and an half, East-South-East half
a mile, South-East by South seven miles.and
an half, South two miles, South-South-East
three  miles and an half;  in the course of
which we passed an island South by West,
where a rivulet flowed in on the right, one
mile, East one mile and an half, South five
miles, South-East by South four miles and an
half, South-West one mile,  South-East by
East four miles  and an half,  West-South-
West half a mile, South-West six miles and
three quarters, South-East by South one mile
and an half,  South one mile and an half;
South-East by South two miles, South-West
three quarters of a mile, South-East by South
two miles and an half, East by South one
mile and three quarters,  South  two miles,
South-East  one  mile  and  an  half,   South-
South-East half a mile, East by South two
miles and an half, North-East three miles,
South-West by West short distance to the
establishment of last year, East-North-East
four miles, South-South-East one mile and
three quarters, South half a mile, South-East
by South three quarters of a mile, North-East
by East one mile, South three miles, South-
South-East one mile and three quarters, South
by East four miles and an half, South-West
three miles, South by East two miles, South
by West one mile and an half, South-West
two miles, South by West foar miles and an
half, South-West one mile and an half, and
South by East three miles.    Here we arrived
at the forks of the river; the Eastern branch
appearing to be not more than half the size
of the Western one.    We pursued the latter,
in a course South-West by West six miles,
and landed on the first of November at the
place which was designed to be my winter
residence: indeed, the weather had been so
cold and disagreeable, that I was more than
once apprehensive of our being stopped by
iSi TrrrT—r^T1"^-
the ice, and, after all, it required the utmost
exertions of which my men were capable to
prevent it; so that on their ar rival they were
quite exhausted. Nor were their labours at
an end, for there was not a single hut to re-
ceive us: it was, however, now in my power
to feed and sustain them in a more comfort-
able manner.
We found two men here who had been sent
forward last spring, for the purpose of squar-
ing timber for the erection of a house, and
cutting pallisades, &c, to surround it. With
them was the principal chief of the place,
and about seventy men, who had been anx-
iously waiting for our arrival, and received
us with every mark of satisfaction and regard
which they could express. If we might judge
from the quantity of powder that was wasted
on our arrival, they certainly had not been in
want of ammunition, at least during the sum-
The banks of the river, from the falls, are
in general lofty, except at low woody points,
accidentally formed in the manner I have already mentioned: they also displayed, in all
their broken parts, a face of clay, intermixed
with stone; in some places there likewise
appeared a black mould.
In the summer of 1788, a small spöt was
cleared at the Old Establishment, which is
situated on a bank thirty feet above the level NORTH-WEST CONTINENT  OF AMERICA.
of the river, and was sown with turnips, car-
rots, and parsnips. The first grew to a large
size, and the others thrived very well. An
experiment was also made with potatoes and
cabbage, the former of which were success-
ful; but for want of care the latter failed.
The next winter the person who had undertaken this cultivation, suffered the potatoes
which had been collected for seed, to catch
the frost, and none had been since brought to
this place. There is not the least doubt but
the soil would be very productive, if a proper
attention was given to its preparation. In
the fall of the year 1787, when I first arrived
at Athabasca, Mr. Pond was settled on the
banks of the Elk River, where he remained
for three years, and had formed as fine a
kitchen garden as I ever saw in Canada.
In addition to the wood which flourished
below the fall, these banks produce the cypress tree, arrow-wood, and the thorn. On.
either side of the river, though invisible from
it, are extensive plains, which abound in buf-
faloes, elks, wolves, foxes, and bears. At a
considerable distance to the Westward, is an
immense ridge of high land or mountains,
which take an oblique direction from below
the falls, and are inhabited by great numbers
of deer, which are seldom disturbed, but
when the Indians go to hunt the beaver in
those parts; and, being tired with the flesh
of the latter, vary their food with that of the
former. This ridge bears the name of the
Deer Mountain. Opposite to our present situation, are beautiful meadows, with various
animals grazing on them, and groves of pop-
lars irregularly scattered över them.
My tent was no sooner pitched, than I sum-
moned the Indians together, and gave each of
them about four inches of Brazil tobacco, a
(1 ram of spirits, and lighted the pipe. As they
had been very troublesome to my predecessor,
I informed them that I had heard of their mis-
conduct, and was come among them to inquire
into the truth of it. I added also that it
would be an established rule with me to treat
them with kindness, if their behaviour should
be such as to deserve it; but, at the same
time, that I should be equally severe if they
failed in those returns which I had a right to
expect from them. I then' presented them
with a quantity of rum, which I recommended
to be used with discretion; and added some
tobacco, as a token of peace. They, in return, made me the f airest promises; and having expressed the pride they f elt on beholding
me in their country, took their leave.
I now proceeded to examine my situation;
and it was with great satisfaction I observed
that the two men who had been sent hither
some time before us, to cut and square tim-
ber for our future operations, had employed
the intervening period with activity and skill.
They had formed a sufficient quantity of pal-
lisades of eighteen feet long, and seven inches
in diameter, to inclose a square spöt of an
hundred and twenty feet; they had also dug
a ditch of three feet deep to receive them;
and had prepared timber, planks, &c, for the
erection of a house.
I was, however, so much occupied in set-
tling matters with the Indians, and equipping
them for their winter hunting, that I could
not give my attention to any other object, till
the 7th, when I set all hands at work to con-
struct the fort, build the house, and form
store houses. Onthe preceding day the river
began to ran with ice, which we call the last
of the navigation. On the llth we had a
South-West wind, with snow. On the 16th,
the ice stopped in the other fork, which was
not above a league from us, across the intervening neck of land. The water in this
branch continued to flow till the 22d, when
it was arrested also by the frost, so that we
had a passage across the river, which would
last to the latter end of the succeeding April.
This was a fortunate cireumstance, as we de-
pended for our support upon what the hunters
could provide for us, and they had been pre-
vented by the running of the ice from Crossing the  river.    They  now,  however,   very
shortly procured us as much fresh meat as we
required, though it was for some time a toil-
some business to my people, for as there was
not yet a sufficient quantity of snow to run
sledges, they were under the necessity of
loading themselves with the spoils of the
On the 27th the frost was so severe that
the axes of the workmen became almost as
brittle as glass. The weather was very vari-
ous until the 2d of December, when my Faren-
heitfs thermometer was injured by an acci-
dent, which rendered it altogether useless.
The table on page 353, therefore, from the
16th of November, to this unfortunate cireumstance, is the only correct account of the
weather which I can offer.
In this situation, removed from all those
ready aids which add so much to the com-
fort, and, indeed is a principal characteristic
of eivilized life, I was under the necessity of
employing my  judgment and experience in
accessory circumstances  by no   means   con-
nected with the habits of my life, or the en-
terprise in which I was immediately engaged.
I was now among the people who had no
knowledge whatever of remediable applica-
tion to those disorders and accidents to which
man is liable in every part of the globe, in
the distant wilderness, as in the peopled city.
They had not the least acquaintahce with that
primitive medicine, which consists in an ex-
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perience of the healing virtues of herbs and
plants, and is frequently found among unciv-
ilised and savage nations. This cireumstance
now obliged me to be their physician and
surgeon, as a woman with a swelled breast,
which had been lacerated with flint stones for
the cure of it, presented herself to my atten-
tion, and by cleanliness, poultices, and healing salve, I succeeded in producing a cure.
One of my people, also, who was at work in
the woods, was attacked with a sudden pain
near the first joint of his thumb, which dis-
abled him from holding an axe. On examin-
ing his arm, I was astonished to find a narrow red stripe, about half an inch wide, from
his thumb to his shoulder; the pain was violent, and accompanied with chilliness and
shivering. This was a case that appeared to
be beyond my skill, but it was necessary to
do something towards relieving the mind of
the patient, though I might be unsuccessf ul
in removing his complaint. I accordingly pre-
pared a kind of volatile linament of rum and
soap, with which I ordered his arm to be
rubbed, but with little or no effect. He was
in a raving state throughout the night, and the
red stripe not only increased, but was also accompanied with the appearance of several
blotches on his body, and pains in his stom-
ach; the propriety of taking some blood from
frnm now occurred to me, and I ventured, from
absolute necessity, to perform that operation
for the first time, and with an effect that jus-
tified the treatment. The following night
aflbrded him rest, and in a short time he re-
gained his former health and activity.
I was very much snrprised on walking in
the woods at such an inclement period of the
year, to be saluted with the singing of birds,
while they seemed by their vivacity to be ac-
tuated by the invigorating power of a more
genial season. Of these birds the male was
something less than the robin; part of his
body is of a delicate fawn colour, and his
neck, breast, and belly, of a deep scarlet;
the wings are black, edged with fawn colour,
and two white stripes running across them;
the tail is variegated, and the head crowned
with a tuft. The female is smaller than the
male, and of a fawn colour throughout, except on the neck, which is enlivened by an
hue of glossy yellow. I have no doubt but
they are constant inhabitants of this climate,
as well as some other small birds which we
saw, of a grey colour.
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