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BC Historical Books

The history of the Northern interior of British Columbia, formerly New Caledonia, 1660 to 1880. With… Morice, A. G. (Adrien Gabriel), 1859-1938 1904

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Array       The HISTORY of the
[1660  TO   1880]
Honorary Member of the Philological Society of Paris and of the Natural
History Society of British Columbia, Corresponding Member of the
Canadian Institute, of the Historical and Scientific Society
of Manitoba, of the Geographical Society of Neuf-
chatel (Switzerland) and Member of the
Ethnological Committee, B.A.A.S.
1904 Entered according to Act of the Parliament of Canada, in the year
one thousand nine hundred and four, by Adrian Gabriel Morice,
at the Department of Agriculture.
THE present volume is an enlargement of a paper the
writer had prepared on Aboriginal History,embodying facts which, on account of the light they throw
on the manners and customs of the natives in pre-Euro-
pean times, he thought it well to preserve for posterity. As
he went on in his studies, he soon discovered that only a
part of the history of British Columbia had so far been
written ; that which is most interesting and, from a certain
point of view, most important, has to this day never been
presented to the public. Who knows, for instance, that
long before Victoria and New Westminster had been called
into existence, the province had been settled in a way, and
had possessed a regular capital—at Stuart Lake—whence
a representative of our own race ruled over reds and whites ?
Not one in a thousand Canadians or even British Columbians. The record of these times and ways of life which
are irrevocably past has never been written, not to say
published, and the only author who has ever touched on
some of the events with which we will soon entertain the
reader, Hubert Howe Bancroft, is so irretrievably inaccurate in his remarks that his treatment of the same might
be considered well-nigh worthless. Nay, two months have
scarcely elapsed since there was issued in this city, under
the auspices of that same Hudson's Bay Company to which
we shall have so frequently to refer, a little pamphlet, in
which we read that | although McKenzie came west .   .   .
in 1793, it was not until thirty years later (or in 1823) that
the first post was established in British Columbia." What
of the six most important forts which flourished long
before that date in the northern interior of the province,
and whose aggregate formed one of the most valuable
districts under the management of the fur-traders ? Yet,
if any set of individuals ought to be familiar with the early
history of British Columbia, it must surely be the members
of that trading corporation, whose immediate predecessors
discovered and kept under sway more than half of its
territory.    A b uno disce omnes.
This apparently unaccountable ignorance shall be our
excuse for offering the present volume to the kind appreciation of Canadian and other readers. The originality of
the material of which it is mainly composed and the novelty
of the scenes it records have, in our humble opinion,
rendered it imperative that we should enter into details and
tarry on minor facts which, under other circumstances,
might well have been passed over with a brief mention.
We have aimed at giving a faithful picture of the times,
persons and places of which we have written. The reader
will judge of the degree of success which our efforts have
met with.
It is hardly necessary to mention that none of the letters
and other manuscript documents we quote from was written
with a view to meet the critical eyes of modern readers.
Therefore it is but fair to remark that, out of consideration and regard for the proprieties of grammar and orthography, we have occasionally taken slight liberties—though
as seldom as possible—with the recorded utterances of the
Hudson's Bay Company and other writers, while religiously
conserving their sense or meaning.
Had it not been for the courtesy of Mr. A. C. Murray,
the gentleman  in  charge of Fort St. James, on Stuart
Lake, this little work could never have been made what it
is. For the generous access he gave us to all the old papers,
letters, journals, account books, and memoranda in his
keeping, we beg to return our sincerest thanks. The same
is also due to such gentlemen as the Hon. Senator R. W.
Scott, Secretary of State for Canada, who kindly put at
our disposal a photograph of the first British Columbian,
Simon Fraser, whose portrait has hitherto never appeared
in print; to Messrs. R. E. Gosnell and E. Scholefield, of Victoria, for the loan, by the former, of a volume of unpublished
letters by the pioneer traders and the blocks of some
illustrations, and for the readiness with which the latter
laid open for our benefit the well-guarded riches of the
Legislative Library at the provincial capital. Finally, the
services of Archbishop Orth, of Victoria, call likewise for
public acknowledgment, as do also those of Messrs. A. Mc-
Innes, of Alexandria ; G. Hamilton, an old Hudson's Bay
Company officer; James Bain, D.C.L., the obliging Librarian
of Toronto, and last, though not least, Bernard McEvoy,
the well-known poet and journalist, who so kindly lent us
his valued aid in seeing the work through the press.
Vancouver, B.C., February 12th, 1904.
The    Country   and  its  Aborigines.—Boundaries—Flora—Lakes and
streams—Fish and game—Various native tribes—Manners and customs of the same—Their  probable  origin—Original seat  of the
Babines ---.----...
Chapter I.
Earliest Historical Times.—Na'kwosl and his iron axe—Lost and found
—Quick with his bow—His son killed by his wives—Prompt retribution—A great patriarch—Chinlac and its sad fate—Spitted
through the ribs—A raid on the Chilcotins—Battling with spear and
armor—Why Khalhpan could not dance .....
Chapter II.
Still Pre-European Times.—A new chieftain—A dishonorable adventure—Stuart River massacre—'Kwah tries to avenge it—A successful attack—Between two "fires"—Hostile reception of the victors—
'Kwah becomes a gambler—Blood pays for an insult—Firearms first
heard of—The Beavers oppress the Sekanais—The latter retaliate   -
Chapter III.
Discovery by Alexander Mackenzie.—The fur-trade in the east—Alexander Mackenzie—He crosses the Rockies—-Liquor in great demand
—He ascends the Parsnip River—First intercourse with the Carriers
—Dread on both sides—An exciting episode—Panic and discouragement—A blind man opens the eyes of the adventurers—All's well
that ends well       .-.-......
Chapter IV.
First Foundations.—Mackenzie turns litterateur—Simon Fraser^First
view of Stuart Lake—Fraser prepares his great expedition—Difficulties   from  nature  and from men—A well  named river—The
Fraser—Ready,  ye warriors !—Surprise and   consternation—First
trading—Lake   Stuart—Its   aborigines—Errors   of  Bancroft   and
others - - ........
Chapter V.
Founding and Exploring.—Erecting a new fort—The pioneers starve—
And then complain of their abundance—Fraser Lake—A large bill
—Reinforcements—Fort George founded—Disagreeing authors all
in the wrong—Fraser's trip to the sea-coast—" Awful and forbidding appearance " of the river—Native ladders for a trail along an
abyss—The river not the Columbia—Bancroft unfair to Fraser
Chapter VI.
John Stuart and Harmon at Stuart Lake.—Stuart succeeds Fraser—
Harmon comes to Stuart Lake—The first drunken orgie—'Kwah is
chastised—Cremation of a Carrier—Harmon and McDougall go to
Babine—Received with a display of war clubs and axes—The very
first mail within British Columbia—Stuart's shortcomings—Massacres and murders—Conflict between the rival companies—Amalgamation of the latter 82
Chapter VII.
The Hudson's Bay Company in New Caledonia.—The Company's
Charter—Its organization—The servants and their grades—The
clerks and the apprentices—A privileged class—Original status—A
new Deed Poll—An'American proud of his title—Lord paramount
—Hudson's Bay Company forts—The Company's influence detrimental to the moral welfare of the Indians—Fire-water and
vendettas --...-.....
Chapter VIII.
William  Connolly Succeeds Stuart.—Governor  Simpson—Forts Alexander and  Chilcotin   are   founded—Bancroft   mistaken—Warlike
Indians—Fort Babine erected—Bancroft wrong again—Poor Mary !
—Douglas comes upon the scene —He acts as Connolly's fisherman—
Did he found Fort Connolly?—Difficult times—Furs, furs—A buffoon
causes a war ..........
Chapter IX.
An Episode and its Consequences.—A fanciful account of the occurrence
—The heroical r61e attributed to the wrong party—The real facts —
I The man he killed was eaten by the dogs; by the dogs he must
be eaten"—The aggressor on the defensive—Dr. Bryce's mistakes
—Bancroft's dramatized version of the affair—The Governor at
Stuart Lake—How the Company had the last word—But Douglas
had to leave	
Chapter X.
Connolly and Dease at Stuart Lake.—Greed for furs—Fisher has recourse to tricks to get them—Lively correspondence—The original
T€te Jaune Cache—Fifteen dogs on the tables—An alert in the
woods—Dease arrives at Stuart Lake—Why Connolly was relieved
of his post—Opposition traders on the Skeena—A clerk on strike—
John McLean at Stuart Lake—First burial among the Carriers       -    149
Chapter XI.
Peter S. Ogden takes Charge of the District.—Ogden's antecedents—
His characteristics—The trickster tricked—Resources of the different posts—Salmon—The engages—Hard on evil-doers—A boorish
officer and a clerk in a tight place—A philippic—Caught in his own
net -    167
Chapter XII.
. The District and its Resources.—A new route established—Salmon and
staple food—How that fish is caught—Articles of trade—Odd items
—Canoes and guns        ---------
Chapter XIII.
Peter S. Ogden Governs.—An undesirable post—Anderson's census—
Its inaccuracies—'Kwah falls sick—And dies—Ogden asserts his
authority—The wails of a culprit—A quick-tempered officer—Uprisings among the natives—A deserter causes trouble—Campbell's
expedition     ,	
Chapter XIV.
Among the Babines.—A new fort wanted—Domestic troubles of the
officer in charge—McBean is removed—His instructions to his successor—Morwick pays his imprudence with his life—The avenging
expedition—Treachery wins—Cameron despondent—A double murder and its consequences—Even D. McLean is apprehensive  -
Chapter XV.
First Catholic Missions.—Canadian priests on the Columbia—Ogden
asks for contributions towards their maintenance—Father Demers
goes to Stuart Lake—His description of the voyage—Missionary
work—Degraded Indians—Among the Shushwaps—Father Nobili
—The devil apes the Almighty—False prophets     ....
Chapter XVI.
Manson's Tribulations.—Manson succeeds Ogden—How Mcintosh
died—Desertions more and more numerous—The officers leave one
after the other—An unfaithful man—The manager is disgusted—The
terrible Waccan—His manifold services—A deserter caught—Anderson's new route is tried—And found wanting
Chapter XVII. page
Alexis B&langer and his Avenger. —An unnatural joy—Alexis is cast
away—One of his tricks—More misdemeanors—A provocation—
Shot while steering—D. McLean and his principles—" Where is
Tlel "—Approval of a crime—Forced to scalp—Was that right ?    -    256
Chapter XVIII.
"Club Law" in New Caledonia.—The personnel of the district—
Manson dissatisfied—Pack-trains under difficulties—A curt officer—
Paul Fraser is killed—Manson reproved—Trouble with the chief—
Annihilation threatened—Half-hearted reconciliation—The "Prince
of Darkness"—Douglas on the Crimean war—First symptoms of the
gold craze     -----------    271
Chapter XIX.
Gold versus Furs.—First discoveries—Hill Bar—New mail facilities—
The Horsefly discovered—The Cariboo mines—Fabulous yields—An
overland party reaches the gold-fields—The Cariboo waggon road—
A newspaper in the wilds—Improved conditions at Stuart Lake—
The small-pox—Traders and miners—Down on free traders—The
bottle is called into requisition       -------    287
Chapter XX.
From Chikotin to Omineca.—The Waddington trail—The Chilcotins—
Fourteen whites massacred—The Bentinck Arm massacre—The causes
of the rising—Punitive expeditions—D. McLean is shot—Some of
the murderers are captured—Their fate—The Western Union Telegraph Co.—Mining in Omineca—A Steamboat at Stuart Lake       -    306
Chapter XXI.
Some of the Later Pioneers. —Lively scenes near Fort St. James—Judge
P. O'Reilly—Themis at fault—G.  Hamilton succeeds P. Ogden—
P. Dunlevy and his trading ventures—A mystified official—James
Reid — Strenuous life finally crowned with success -       -        -    317
Chapter XXII.
Laudetur Jesus Christus !—First Anglican Missions—Various Catholic
expeditions—Father McGuckin—Bishop D'Herbomez visits the district—At Stuart Lake and Babine—Father Lejacq—A rebellious
medicine-man comes to grief—Danger from alien races—A mission
is established near Fort St. James—The first resident missionaries
and their flock 326
Appendices 337
lNDEX -       -    343
Map of New Caledonia      -------       Frontispiece
Shaman or " Medicine-Man "---  10
Taya, son of 'Kwah  15
" Grosse-Tete," Julian, Thomas and Athanase, descendants of 'Kwah - 23
Iron Dagger        -..--....--25
Sir Alexander Mackenzie     --------- 34
Daniel W. Harmon     .......... 34
Sir George Simpson    .......... 34
Sir James Douglas --"34
A Carrier Fisherman   ---.----..40
Simon Fraser  53
Kcezi, daughter of 'Kwah  86
Fort St. James To-day  102
Old Fort St. James  ill
Doubly "Carriers"  163
Peter Skene Ogden  167
Father Morice's Companions through the Mountains    -       -       -       - 183
Salmon Trap      -  184
Indian Crooked Knife  187
Iron Skin Scraper  187
'Kwah's Grave    --.-.---... 194
Rocher Deboule and the Skeena JUver  205
Carrier and Carried     .-.--.--.- 218
John Tod    .----.----.. 232
A. C. Anderson  232
Bishop Demers  232
Hon. John Work  232
James A. Grahame      ---------- 232
Fort McLeod  239
" Jem " Boucher  281
The Cariboo Waggon Road  298
Hon. Senator James Reid  324
Rev. J. M. McGuckin, O.M.I.  328
Stuart Lake Mission  334
xi. 01 History of the Northern Interior
of British Columbia.
The Country and Its Aborigines.
NEW CALEDONIA, the country to which we wish
to introduce the kind reader, was the nucleus out
of which the present province of British Columbia
was evolved. Authors disagree as to its boundaries. Thus,
while Alexander Begg, to whom we owe a " History of the
North-West," assigns to that district rather too modest
dimensions when he states1 that it extended only from 520
to 55° latitude north—thereby excluding part of the Chil-
cotin region—his namesake, Alexander Begg, the author
of the latest " History of British Columbia," sins the other
way by stretching its southern limits as far as Colville, in
the present State of Washington.2 Although it included at
one time Kamloops and the adjoining territory, it might
suffice for the ethnographer to call it simply the region
peopled by the Western Den6 Indians ; but as this statement would not probably add much to the knowledge of
most readers, we will describe it as that immense tract of
land lying between the Coast Range and the Rocky Mountains, from 5i°3o' to 570 of latitude north.
This region is mostly  mountainous,  especially  in the
1. " History of the North-West," p. 158.
2. " History of British Columbia," p. 12.
north, where lines of snow-capped peaks intersect the
whole country between the two main ranges. Endless
forests, mostly of coniferous trees, and deep lakes, whose
length generally exceeds considerably their breadth, cover
such spaces as are not taken up by mountains. The only
level or meadow lands of any extent within that district lie
on either side of the Chilcotin River, where excellent bunch
grass affords lasting pasturage to large herds of cattle and
The Douglas fir preponderates in the southern half of
the country, but cannot stand the cold prevalent north of
54°4o', while the three different species of spruce which
cover the northern part of the district hardly appear within
its more temperate zone. The black pine is fairly common
all over the country, and it is always indicative of a dry, j
sandy, and usually level ground, just as the poplar and the
aspen betoken a moist and rather rich soil. Apart from
the animals to which they give shelter, these woods afford
but very meagre resources adapted to the wants of man.
These are reduced to some varieties of berries, prominent
among which is the service berry, the fruit of the A melan-
cliier atnzfolia, which the aborigines compress into flat
cakes and keep in their larder for use in any emergency.
Lakes and rivers are practically numberless. The most
important among the former are : Lake Stuart, with its
tributaries Lakes Rey, Soullier, Tremble and Tatla; Lakes
Babine and Augier; Lakes Morice, Dawson, and Emerald,
which are the headwaters of the Nechaco; Lakes Loring
and McAulay, whence issues the Bulkley River; Lakes
French and Fraser, Peter and Vowell, whose waters flow
into the Nechaco ;   Lakes Cambie, St. Mary's, McLeod,
i. H. H. Bancroft, in his " History of British Columbia," asserts that
" the lake country from Chilcotin to Fort Fraser and beyond is generally
open I (p. 37), a statement which is far too comprehensive. THE COUNTRY AND ITS ABORIGINES
Bell, Turner, Nation, Quesnel and Chilco.     The map will
show the respective position of each.
The chief streams, apart from the Fraser, are the
Nechaco, which, some sixty-five miles from its mouth,
receives the Stuart, which drains the lake of the same
name, together with Lakes Tatla and Tremble, through
the Middle and the Thache Rivers ; the Blackwater, a
stream of minor importance, called West River by Sir
Alex. Mackenzie, who ascended its valley on his way to
the Pacific; the Quesnel, which heads in the lake of the
same name, and the Chilcotin (more properly Tsilhkhoh),
which takes its source in the lake called Chilco by the
whites, and waters the finest part of the country. Bear
Lake and Babine Lake, with their outlets, as well as the
Bulkley, belong to the basin of the Skeena, which may be
said to form the north-western boundary of the district;
while the Parsnip and the Finlay, with their tributaries the
Pack, Nation, Omineca, etc., flow into the Pacific Ocean,
after having forced their way through the Rockies under
the name of Peace River.
Most of these lakes and rivers contain excellent fish, two
(sometimes three or more) kinds of trout, whitefish, landlocked salmon, ling and a multitude of carpoides and other
inferior fish. A few sturgeon are occasionally caught in
Lake Stuart and outlet, but that fish is unknown in the
other basins. These sheets of water become also annually
the rendezvous of myriads of ducks, geese, and other
aquatic fowls, some of which, as the grebe, abound to such
an extent that, for a fortnight or so, they are daily taken
by the hundred in a single locality.
As to the fauna, its representatives are fairly numerous.
The natives class them into venison and fur animals.
Among the former are the moose and the cariboo, whose
habitat is mostly on the mountains of the north, while the
deer, plentiful in the south, does not seem to cross the
limits of the Douglas fir. The various fur-bearing animals
are the grizzly and the black bears,1 the beaver, foxes of
different color, though they are the offspring of the same
parents; the marten and fisher, the otter, the mink, and
other game of minor value.
These, from time immemorial, have been trapped or
chased by the American representatives of the human
species who call themselves Dene (men), and are divided
into four main tribes. From north to south these are:
the Sekanais, on the west slope of the Rocky Mountains
.and throughout the adjoining territory, almost as far as the
53rd degree of latitude; the Babines, who inhabit the
shores of the lake called after them and the Bulkley
valley, though many of them hunt also in the vicinity of
Lakes French and Cambie ; the Carriers, who have villages
all the way from Stuart Lake and tributaries to Alexandria, on the Fraser ; and, finally, the Chilcotins, who now
mainly occupy the valley of the river to which they have
given their name.
These tribes, though all belonging to the same ethnic
group of aborigines, differ not a little as regards language,
manners, and customs, and even physical appearance.
Thus the Sekanais, for instance, are slender and bony,
with fairly delicate features, very small eyes, and thin lips.
The Carriers are stouter and more heavily built, with
coarser traits, thicker lips, and quite large eyes. The
Babines and Chilcotins are shorter than the Carriers, with
broader shoulders and, the former at least, with even
thicker lips and flattish faces. A fifth tribe, that of the
Nahanais, roams through the territory immediately to
the north of the Babines and  the Sekanais, though on
1.   The brown bears in the district belong to the  same species as the
black ones.
great occasions they usually repair to their villages at
Thalhthan and in the vicinity of the Rockies. Several
of their women are almost fair complexioned.
These four or five tribes form what we call the Western
Denes. They have all very black and straight hair, dark
eyes, small hands and feet, and a complexion-of a swarthy
brown, though they are, as a rule, fairer than their heterogeneous neighbors, the Shushwaps.
None of them originally had any village chiefs in our
sense of the word. Indeed, the Sekanais, who are quite
nomadic and without houses or villages, were formerly
destitute of any kind of chiefs, but kept wandering in
quest of game under the nominal leadership of the older
heads of related families. As to the Babines, the Carriers,
and the Chilcotins, they possessed what they called tceneza,
hereditary " noblemen," who owned the hunting grounds
and were the honorary heads of various clans or gentes.
Succession to rank or property invariably followed the
female line among the Babines and the Carriers, while
among the Chilcotins and the Sekanais heredity was, as
amongst us, always on the side of the father.
These tribes concurred in their religious ideas. They
believed in a future world, and had some confused notions
of a Supreme Being who governed the universe through
the instrumentality of spirits, whose object was to protect
or injure the individual. In the first case, they were what
is now called totems or tutelary genii, and the second were
the immediate cause of disease, wherewith they were sometimes confounded. The latter had, however, to yield to
the incantations of a certain class of men known among
us as shamans,1 who, supposedly endowed with supernatural
powers, were regarded almost as the masters of life and
In case of death the bodies were buried among the
Chilcotins and the Shushwaps, burned among the Carriers,
the Babines and the Western Nahanais, but left uncared
for among the Sekanais and some Nahanais, who simply
dropped thereon the brush shelter used as a temporary
residence in the course of their incessant wanderings.
Only in the cases of prominent or much beloved members
of a band were the remains placed on a rough scaffolding
out of the reach of wild beasts, or encased within the
hollow or hollowed trunk of an upright tree.
Among the Carriers, the widow of a deceased warrior
used to pick up from among the ashes of the funeral pyre
the few charred bones which would escape the ravages of
fire and carry them on her back in a leathern satchel—
hence the name of the tribe—until the co-clansmen of the
deceased had amassed a sufficient quantity of eatables and
dressed skins to be publicly distributed among people of
different clans, in the course of an ostentatious ceremony
called I potlatch," a ceremony which prevailed among all
but the Sekanais and the Eastern Nahanais tribes.
To the customs in vogue among their congeners, the
Babines added that of letting their women wear, from the
time of their puberty, a labret or plug of bone or hardwood,
perhaps half an inch and more in diameter, between the
teeth and the lower lip, which was thus distended out of
all reasonable proportions. This caused the French Canadians in the employ of the early fur-traders to call the
whole tribe Babines, or " Lippy People."
Hunting and fishing have always been practically the
only means of subsistence of the Western Denes, and their
prospects in life are generally of the most precarious character, inasmuch as hunger and dire famine are not unknown
to them, especially when the run of salmon, which is the
daily bread of all but the Sekanais, has been a failure.
These aborigines are, for the most part, possessed of
strongly religious instincts. The Sekanais are the most
honest and moral; the Carriers the proudest and most progressive ; the Chilcotins are violent and none too scrupulous, while for loquacity and conservativeness the Babines
have few superiors.
With regard to their origin, the short space at our command in this little sketch evidently debars us from entering
into anything like an adequate discussion of that intricate
question. All we are prepared to state, after a careful
survey of their languages, manners and customs, is that:
1st, They are undoubtedly of a mixed origin ; 2nd, they
have come from the north-north-west; 3rd, they had, in
their early history, commerce, perhaps through intermarriage, with peoples of Jewish persuasion or origin.
As it is, none but the Babines have any reminiscence of
a home different from that they now occupy. If we are to
credit the Ackwilgates (or Western Babines) and their
neighbors, the Kitksons, a Tsimpsian tribe which has the
same tradition, the original seat of the whole Babine tribe
would have been on a flat along the left bank of the Bulkley,
a short distance above the mouth of the Bear River.
Kitksons and Babines then lived in close proximity and
intermarried freely, when a squirrel1 having, one day,
crossed the river on top of the weir erected for the capture
of salmon, the natives, frightened at the sight of such an
ominous occurrence, and dreading the sad fate it portended,
immediately scattered in all directions. The Kitksons
went down to the Skeena, and the Babines took refuge
in the shelter of the woods, whence they subsequently
emerged to settle, some on the lake now called after them,
others near the fall in the Bulkley, at the place known
to-day as Moricetown.
1. The Kitksons say a double-headed squirrel.
There they lived and thrived on the large supply 01
salmon which the impediment in the stream kept at their
doors, until the year 1820, or thereabouts, when a large
piece of the rocky cliff overhanging the same river at the
place now called Ackwilgate, some thirty miles below,
having fallen across the stream, this barred it so completely
that it formed a cataract of sufficient height to prevent the
fish from getting up to the Moricetown fall. Threatened
with starvation, the Western Babines went in a body,
armed cap-a-pie, and forcibly took the new terminus from
its owners of Tsimpsian parentage.
In course of time, the rock, which was to give a name to
the new place—Fallen Rock—wore away to such an extent
that salmon could return to their former haunts up the
river ; but the Babines or Ackwilgates have since retained
possession of both fisheries.
So much for the Babines and their traditions. We now
come to the real history of their congeners, and the authentic account of their doings immediately before, and ninety
years after, the advent of that superior race which was to
revolutionize their ideas, manners and 'customs, and whose
not always too edifying deeds we shall also have to record. CHAPTER  I.
Earliest Historical Times.
"X T A'KWCEL is the first really historical aborigine
l_ \ mentioned by the Carrier Indians of Stuart
Lake. His name has come down to the present
generation as that of one who was the personification of
old age, and after a careful computation based on the
various data forming our original chapter and many
others not furnished here, the date of his birth cannot be
set later than the year 1660. He grew up to attain, in
course of time, the honored position of tceneza, or hereditary nobleman, of the Stuart Lake sept, and he is likewise famous as having been the first Den6 who could boast
the acquisition of an iron axe or adze.
This came to him, probably about 1720, by way of
Tsechah, an Indian village close to what is now Hazelton,
on the Skeena. The wonderful implement was one of the
many wares brought up by the Tsimpsian traders, who got
it from some of the skippers or adventurers whose vessels
were patrolling the waters of the North Pacific Ocean in
the interest of commerce or geography. Some say that on
its reception Na'kwcel convoked his fellow-tribesmen to a
great banquet or ceremonial feast, where all the guests
could admire it hanging above them from one of the
rafters of the large lodge where they were assembled.
That implement was, of course, considered exceedingly
valuable, and its possession was the means of considerably
enhancing the notable's prestige among the entire Carrier
At that time it was customary for those Indians to
migrate, at the approach of every winter, to a place where
firewood was plentiful enough to supply the needs of the
different families grouped around their chiefs or tcenezas,
and to erect, for use during the cold season, large huts of
slender logs with spruce-bark roofs and doorways covered
with brush. One day, when some of Na'kwcel's family
were cutting boughs for the entrance to his lodge, the line
which fastened his adze to its handle getting loosened,
the blade suddenly dashed off and fell among the branches
already cut. After searching among these, it became
apparent that the instrument must have dropped down in
the snow, where it could not be found until the services of
the medicine-man had been resorted to.1
Physically, Na'kwcel was short and very corpulent, a
feature quite rare among the western D6nes. As to his
psychological disposition, a little episode is to this day
related, which goes to illustrate the man and his times.
As he was, one winter day, on the ice of Lake Greenwood, busy cutting up some cariboo, which friendly
neighbors had killed for him, footsteps on the frozen
snow told him of the approach of a native from Natleh,
Fraser Lake.     Immediately seizing his bow and arrows,
i. The native chronicler goes on to relate how that shaman, who enjoyed
a wonderful reputation even among his peers, had a personal totem or familiar
genius, in the shape of a skunk-skin, which he wore hanging from his neck.
This, during his trances, he used to press in his hands, when it emitted a
piercing scream. On the occasion of Na'kwcel's loss, in the midst of dancing,
singing and beating of drums, the shaman squeezed his skunk-skin, upon
which it cried as if the animal had been alive, and, detaching itself from the
neck of the medicine man, it made for the heap of boughs, wherein it plunged
and remained for a while. When it came back, it bore in its mouth the lost
Na'kwcel aimed his weapon at the stranger, exclaiming at
the same time:
I We have decreed against intercourse with people from
Natleh.    What does this fellow come here for ? "
Undisturbed by the threats, which he feigned not to
notice, the stranger leisurely limped on and finally joined
Na'kwcel's assistants, by whom he was hospitably entertained. Then, bending his own bow, with the arrow aimed
at Na'kwcel, this accidental guest exclaimed
1 Now, old Na'kwcel, your pretensions are altogether too
preposterous, and you speak like a man without sense.
Look at this, my arrow! Were I so minded, I could sink
it right now between your ribs."
Na'kwcel had two sons, A'ke'tces and Chichanit, both
of whom wielded great influence among their co-tribesmen.
Yet the former, who is the first known to-day of a line of
hereditary chiefs, the fourth of whom died of old age some
fifteen years ago, met with a tragic and, at the same time,
rather inglorious end, being done to death by his own
wives. The elder of these was called Chalh'tas, and seems
to have been a genuine virago ; while the other, known as
At6te, was of a milder disposition.
Now, A'ke'tces was constantly tormented by the demon
of jealousy. He loved, on that account, to isolate himself
and force his partners to share his cheerless seclusion, a
step which occasioned many a family dispute, at the end
of which his groundless suspicions asserted themselves
with renewed vigor. On the other hand, he was believed
to be endowed with malefic powers, a gift the possession
of which is sure to prove fatal among the natives.
One day, as the family stayed on Long Island, at the
outlet of Lake Stuart, whil.• the whole tribe was stationed
at Tsauche, about five miles to the south-west, on the
shores of the same lake, A'ke'tces had a violent altercation
with Chalh'tas, which resulted in the latter accusing him of
the death of her two children, but lately deceased. Upon
this blows ensued, when the woman, falling on him, called
upon Atdte to help her kill him, under pain of being
herself done to death if she refused. Then they shamefully mutilated his remains, which they conveyed to the
mouth of a stream emptying on the opposite side of the
lake, and buried them in the.sand.
Then, hiding his quiver among the rocks of the Stuart
River, near the water's edge, they hastily fled to Fraser
Lake, where they declared that, after one of their usual .
disputes, A'ke'tces had tried to put them to death, when
they had made off with his canoe, whereupon he had pursued them in the water and gone beyond his depth. On
the ground of that story, canoes searched for days every
nook of the river, where only the missing man's quiver
was found, until later on his mangled remains were accidentally1 unearthed, whereupon the anger of old Na'kwcel
and of his son Chichanit knew no bounds.
Several years elapsed, when Atete, who had been but an
unwilling accomplice in the murder, tired of her exile, and
resolved upon returning to her native land and telling the
whole truth. But as she neared Stuart Lake her return
was revealed to Chichanit, who sallied out and killed her
with his bow-point—a sort of spear affixed to one end of
his bow, a weapon quite common among the ancient
Carriers. Then, repenting of his act, committed just when
the woman endeavored to explain that she was innocent,
he decided to spare her surviving co-partner on condition
that she would come back and allow him to take her to
I. As the imagination of the natives must mix the marvellous or extraordinary with the common and ordinary, the Indians do not fail to say that a
rainbow, one end of which plunged where the body had been buried, was
instrumental in causing its discovery.
wife in memory of his late brother. Messengers were sent
who brought her back, and thenceforth she attended upon
Chichanit, as was usual with widows preparatory to their
being re-married to their late husband's nearest kin.
Meanwhile, Na'kwcel was constantly smarting under the
pain caused by the untimely death of his eldest son.
Though he was now well advanced in years, he used to
visit Chichanit's lodge and reproach Chalh'tas with her
crime, in which case blows would generally follow words,
to all of which she had to submit with as much equanimity as her own haughty nature would allow.
One day, when she was unravelling with a small stone
knife the strips of willow bark, the filaments of which were
intended as the material of. a fish net, her father-in-law
became so violent that, unable to stand his abuse any
longer, she grabbed him by the hair, and, throwing him to
the ground, stabbed him in the neck with her diminutive
implement. Fortunately for her intended victim, her knife
broke in the old man's collar-bone before it could inflict
serious injury, whereupon Na'kwcel called for help in
terms which are still recited for the sake of their quaint-
ness, and his son, running to his assistance, killed the
woman with his bow-point.
Na'kwcel was now aging considerably. After many
years passed in the company of his only remaining son,
he grew to be so old that, according to tradition and the
accounts of eye-witnesses, his hair, after having been snow
white, had become of a yellowish hue. He fell into such
a state of decrepitude that his knees and elbows were
covered with scaly excrescences, resembling a sort of parasitic moss. His hearing failed him, and his eyelids drooped
until he "became the very picture of old age. Basking in
the sun on a rock emerging from the shallow water, which
is still shown near the outlet of Lake Stuart, he would at NORTHERN INTERIOR OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
times send forth loud cries, as of rage at seeing himself so
powerless against the ravages of time ; then, bathing in
the tepid waters, he would exclaim, on coming out:
" Ha I tcilhyaz nasoestlcen a ! " (Ah ! here I am, a young
man again !)
Some time before his demise, he is reported to have
assured people that it was not without some design from
above that he had been permitted to live so long, and that
when he should die, Na'kal, the mountain which rises from
the eastern shore of the lake, would dance in his honor. The
natives date from his death the fall of part of a spur thereof, which the infiltration of water detached from the main
body of the mountain.
The exact date of Na'kwcel's death can, of course, only be
guessed ; but from all accounts it cannot be far from 1765,
as the old chief was certainly more than a centenarian
when he passed away. Indeed, considering the longevity
of the Indians, especially those of the old stock, he perhaps
lived to see his hundred and tenth birthday.1
About twenty years before his death a most melancholy
event, which was to cause a permanent change in the
ethnographical map of the country, had happened at the
confluence of the Stuart and Nechaco Rivers. There stood
at that time a flourishing village called Chinlac, the population of which was allied by blood and dialect to the Lower
Carriers of what is now called Stony Creek. The principal
chief was a certain Khadintel, a man who enjoyed the consideration of his subjects, and who must have been well up
in years, since he had two wives with a large number of
1. Taya, the present head chief of the Stuart Lake band, a son of 'Kwah
who saw Na'kwcel and lived for some lime with him, has hardly a grey hair at
eighty. An elder brother, whom the writer has known, was quite hale a few
days before he died, aged about a hundred years.
For some time previous to 174 5, the report had been
current amongst his people and their friends of other
localities that the Chilcotins intended to avenge on him the
death of one of their notables, and, agreeable to anticipations, a very large band of those Southern Denes did come
in due time, and in one morning practically annihilated the
whole population then present at Chinlac. A few only
owed their life to their temporary absence or to a speedy
At the time of the catastrophe the head chief, Khadintel,
was on a tour of inspection of his snares, some distance
down the Nechaco. He had reached the rapid next to the
confluence of the two rivers, paddling up in a large canoe
with two other men, when he suddenly caught sight of a
large number of canoes coming down stream.
"The Chilcotins!" he exclaimed. "Run up the bank
and flee for your lives. I am the one they want, and I
alone ought to die."
His companions were no sooner out of sight than a
volley of arrows was whizzing around him, which he so
dexterously dodged that, partly because his life appeared
charmed to his aggressors, and partly because they thought
it prudent to keep for any possible emergency the few
remaining arrows in their possession after the great expenditure of them they had made in the morning, Khalh-
pan, the captain of the war party, ordered a suspension of
hostilities.    Then, addressing his bold adversary, he said :
" Khadintel, you have the reputation of being a man.
If you are such, dance for me."
Whereupon the Chinlac chief commenced the dance of a
tceneza on the beach of the river, just to show that his
heart was above fear and emotion. When he had finished
he warned his departing enemy that, in the course of a few
years, he would return his visit. NORTHERN INTERIOR OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
The spectacle which met Khadintel's eyes on his return
to his village was indeed heart-rending. On the ground,
lying bathed in pools of blood, were the bodies of his own
two wives and of nearly all his countrymen,, while hanging
on transversal poles resting on stout forked sticks planted
in the ground, were the bodies of the children ripped open
and spitted through the out-turned ribs in exactly the same
way as salmon drying in the sun. Two such poles were
loaded from end to end with that gruesome burden.
Aided by his two companions, Khadintel religiously
burnt all the bodies, and placed the bones which had
partially escaped destruction in leather satchels adorned
with long fringes which, in the course of time, he entrusted
to the care of the surviving relatives of Khalhpan's
victims. Then he prepared the vengeance due to such an
unprovoked crime and, early in the spring of the third year
after the massacre, he found himself at the head of a large
band of braves he had gathered from among the few survivors of the Chinlac population and the allied villages of
Thachek, Nulkreh (Stony Creek) and Natleh (Fraser Lake).
Having reached the Chilcotin ^valley, at a place which,
from the topographical details now furnished by the old
men, must be identified with the plain where the modern
village of Anarhem stands, the avenging party beheld
from the top of the third terrace, or last of the superposed
plateaus, in the thickets of which they discreetly passed
the night, a long row of lodges, indicating a very large
Khalhpan, the Chilcotin chieftain, had a younger brother
known as 'Kun'qus, a man most powerfully built and of a
very amiable disposition. Expecting reprisals for his
brother's misdeed, that influential Chilcotin had built a
palisade round his house, wherein he lived with a wife
taken from among his own tribe and a second partner, a
Carrier woman, with her little brother, whom the members
of Khalhpan's expedition had brought him from Chinlac.
He had just gone to prepare laths for the erection of a
salmon trap, when, early in the morning, he was surprised
to hear, all of a sudden, the uproarious clamors of the
avenging party who, from different points of vantage, were
storming his village. Running home in all haste, he gave
the alarm to the sleeping population, and as he rushed
into his house he passed his Carrier wife and her brother
escaping in the direction of their attacking countrymen.
He lost some time in trying to pursue them armed with a
war-club which, to defeat his purpose, the woman had
previously fastened to the wall of the lodge.
By that time, several Chilcotins had already fallen before
the rage of the Carriers, when 'Kun'qus, aided by his first
wife, hastily donned his double armor, consisting of a
device made of dried rods of hardened amelanchier wood,
over which he spread the pesta, a sleeveless, tunic-like
cuirass of moose-skin covered with a coat of glued sand
and gravel. Thus attired, he went out and started shooting
wildly until his supply of arrows was exhausted, keeping
between his legs, till he fell pierced by an arrow, a little
son of his, whom he loved above all his other children.
The Carriers, who now recognized him, seeing him
practically powerless, assailed him from all parts. But
with a large stone dagger, whose blade he had mounted at
the end of a stick, he kept them all at bay, so that they
could hardly hurt him, inasmuch as their missiles were of
no avail against his double armor. In this predicament
they remembered the boast of a confederate, a little man
of insignificant parentage named Ycentcelh, who had previously offered to catch the big Chilcotin for them. Bidden
to make good his boast, Ycentcelh rushed at 'Kun'qus,
leading him to use his lance, which he skilfully dodged at
the very instant that he seemed doomed to destruction,
and grasping its shaft before 'Kun'qus could strike again,
gave his countrymen the long-sought-for opportunity.
Seizing the warrior from every available quarter, they
snatched from him all the native finery in which he was
attired, a beautiful ceremonial wig adorned with dentalium
shells, a costly breastplate, and a necklace mostly of the
same material. Then, under a heavy stroke from a war-
club launched on the forepart of his head, 'Kun'qus fell
down never to rise again. Then, falling on his helpless
body with all kinds of weapons, they made of it an unrecognizable mass of flesh.
The Carriers had now gratified their lust for vengeance.
Indeed, the destruction of Chinlac was more than avenged.
There the Chilcotins had set up two poles loaded with
children's bodies, while the Carriers did not return to their
country before they had put up as a trophy three such
poles with similarly innocent victims.
Meanwhile, Khalhpan, the primary cause of the whole
trouble, had been vainly sought for by the avenging northerners. He was absent, and did not come back until a short
time after their departure. His feelings can be imagined
when he came in sight of his village now transformed into a
solitude, peopled only by dogs howling around the mangled remains of their masters. Taking with him two or
three fugitives he found gloomily prowling about the field
of carnage, he set in pursuit of the retreating Carriers.
These had just forded a river at a point where a sandbank in the middle cut it in two, and they were in the act
of putting on their foot-gear again, when Khalhpan was
sighted on the opposite side of the stream. Khadintel
immediately advanced to meet him.
I People say that you are a man, and you would fain
pass yourself off as a terrible warrior," he said, in the best
Chilcotin he could command. " If you be such, come on,
Khalhpan ; come on, and retreat not."
Whereupon the Chilcotin chief advanced as far as the
sand-bank; but at the sight of his powerlessness against
such a host of enemies, he began to cry and to turn back.
" Now, Khalhpan," insisted his triumphant foe, " when,
all alone against your people, I was cornered on the river
bank and you wanted to kill me, I danced at your bidding.
If you are a man, dance now for me, as I did for you."
But his adversary merely returned as far as the sand
islet, when the sight of the multitude facing him, and the
remembrance of all his relatives gone and of his beloved
daughter, now dragged into slavery, were too much for
him. He requested his adversary to spare her life, and
broke into violent sobbing, which seeing, Khadintel, in
tones full of scorn, cried across the river :
" Khalhpan, it is upon men that we came down to avenge
a great wrong. I see that you are a woman, therefore I
allow you to live. Go in peace, and weep to your heart's
The affront to the Carrier tribe was thus washed out
in blood, but the destruction wrought by the Chilcotin
marauders remained irreparable. In the course of time,
the few persons who had escaped the massacre of 1745
Settled among their friends of Thachek and Lheitli (Fort
George). As to their own village, a bare spot on the
right bank of the Stuart River, and the several trails leading out of it, is all that now remains of what was formerly
the home of a thriving community.1
1. After the destruction of his native village Khadintel remarried, and by
his last wife he had a daughter named Samalh'ti, who died in 1842 at the age
of about ninety. She was then older than another woman who died recently
among the Denes leaving after her four generations of descendants. Samalh'ti
is our authority for the date of the Chinlac massacre.
Still Pre-European Times.
ALLIED to Na'kwcel's family was a certain Tsale-
kulhy6, the first now remembered of a line of
hereditary chiefs, whose regular seat was Pinche,
on Lake Stuart. He was born about 1735, and he was
probably a little younger than the first A'ke'tces, whose
sister or cousin he must have married, since his eldest son
ultimately succeeded to the latter's name and rank. This
circumstance accounts also for his own incorporation into
the Stuart Lake tribe.
Tsalekulhyd seems to have been of a rather troublesome
disposition, and he must have been something of a profligate, as the first incident in connection with which his
name is mentioned does certainly not redound to his
credit. A member of the Sekanais tribe was wont to
make periodical visits to the Stuart Lake band of
Indians, whom he had befriended. One evening a commotion arose in the camp, and, while trying to ascertain
the cause of it, the stranger beheld his own sister bleeding
to death from an arrow wound received at the hand of
Tsalekulhye. What the reason of such a rash act was is
not known, but can easily be surmised. Infuriated at the
sight of his dying relative, the Sekanais shot Tsalekulhy£,
and made for the woods. Happily for the latter the
wound inflicted was not serious, and he soon recovered. STILL PRE-E UROPE AN TIMES
In his second encounter with an adversary, late was not
so favorable to him. About the year 1780, an influential
member of the Naskhu'tin sub-tribe happened to die near
the confluence of the Blackwater River with the Fraser,
where those aborigines had but recently a village. As the
loss of the Indian was much felt, his relatives consulted the
shaman, who declared that Tsalekulhy6 was responsible
for his death. Bent on vengeance, his friends, in great
numbers, started armed cap-a-pie for what is now called
the Stuart River.
The natives were not at that time so sedentary as they
are to-day. As we have already seen, they shifted their
winter quarters as the need of fuel required, though,
as spring opened, the ancestors of the population now
stationed near the southern end of Lake Stuart moved
generally to the mouth of Beaver Creek, some five miles to
the south-west of the outlet of that lake. There they subsisted mainly on small fish, carp and trout, with an occasional duck or goose, until the middle of August, when
they transferred their penates exactly to the outlet of the
lake, where they set their weirs and traps. Finally, late in
September, they migrated again up the lake, and dispersed
•themselves along the shores and on the several islands,
where the women caught whitefish and trout in the preserves allotted them by hereditary right, while the men
trapped the various fur-bearing animals.
Early in the spring of 1780, or thereabouts, those Indians
were camped in three large detachments on the upper
course of the Stuart River. Their southermost party occupied a site still pointed out, slightly above Hay Island,
when a canoe came up with the alarming news, gathered
from friendly Indians, that a large force of Naskhu'tins
was on its way up to avenge its dead. Tsalekulhy6 was
then visiting his swan snares, and had repeatedly been told
that he was the man especially wanted by the southerners.
He therefore hastened to rejoin his friends in the lower
Doubtful of their ability to resist the aggressors, the
members of that party decided to move up and join the
other two allied bands. But a heavy snow-storm came on,
which caused a slight postponement of their departure.
This delay sealed their fate. All of a sudden, a great
outcry was raised on the top of the bank, and, before the
Stuart Lake people could take in the situation, arrows
were whizzing about, spears flying in all directions, and
"war-clubs stunning right and left, amidst the most hideous
yells and vociferations of the attacking party. Two
tcenezas, or headmen, were among the assailed. Both of
them were slain and mutilated, as well as other less conspicuous members of the band, while most of the women
the Naskhu'tins could lay hands on were taken prisoners
and enslaved. As to Tsalekulhye, the involuntary cause
of the disaster, he took to the water, and was on the point
of escaping, when he was recognized, killed and horribly
Such had been the swiftness of the enemy's movements,
and the consequent confusion of the assailed, that the former
had but two persons wounded during the whole affray.
Among Tsalekulhye's relatives present on the spot were
four brothers, the youngest but one of whom, a lad of
possibly fifteen summers, named Nathadilhthcelh, succeeded
in swimming across the river, loaded, at first, with a sister
and a brother only a few years old, whom, to save himself
and sister, he had to let go and condemn to a watery grave.
He is the same whom we will see called Mal-de-gorge in
the old Hudson's Bay Company journals. Both his elder
brothers were killed before his own eyes, and, while he bade
his sister run as fast as her legs would carry her along the
border of ice clinging to the shore and announce the sad
news of their misfortunes to the next band of Indians, he
himself stood in the vicinity of the doomed camp waiting
for the end of the massacre, out of reach of hostile eyes
and arrows.
Next morning three large canoes came down, and those
who owed their lives to flight and the blinding snow-storm,
together with the courageous Nathadilhthcelh, made bold
to return to the scene of the disaster, where, amidst noisy
mourning, the dead bodies of the fallen, with the exception
of that of Tsalekulhye, which could not be found, were
placed on a pile of dry wood and burned.
Now, Tsalekulhye had two sons, 'Kwah, a young man
about twenty-five years old, who had just been married,
and was destined to become a very prominent figure in the
annals of Stuart Lake, and CEhulhtzcen, a few years
younger, who was as yet single. Both brothers were on a
hunting tour at the time of the massacre of their co-tribesmen.
Great was their surprise and indignation when they were
told on their return of what had happened in their absence.
'Kwah was then but a young man, without title or claim to
consideration other than that which he owed to his father's
rank, to which, according to the Carriers' hereditary law,
he could not even aspire. Yet it was universally conceded
that to him and his relative, Nathadilhthcelh, must fall the
task of avenging the victims of the Blackwater Indians.
Many were even for immediate action ; but more moderate
counsels prevailed, as the old men knew well that the
Naskhu'tins, expecting reprisals, would be on their guard.
They resolved, therefore, to wait until one or two years had
elapsed without hostilities, wishing to lead the southern
Indians to suppose that their crime would remain
In the meantime 'Kwah went across the Rocky Mountains to get a supply of tanned skins to make moccasins
for his prospective followers. On his return, he assembled
quite a little army of braves from the Stuart Lake and
Stony Creek villages, and went on to execute what he considered a filial duty.
But he had gone no farther than Sin'kcet or Head Lake,
seven miles to the south of Stony Creek, when dissensions
or fears arose among his people, as it was openly hinted
that some of the Stony Creek Indians related to the
Naskhu'tins intended to become traitors by giving warning
of his approach. In the face of that lack of accord among
his braves, 'Kwah turned back with regret, proclaiming
before all his irrevocable abandonment of all hostile designs
on the southern Indians.
This was, however, but a subterfuge on his part; for he
had no sooner reached his native place again than, taking
with him but seven tried men, among whom was Nathadilhthcelh, he embarked for the confluence of the Nechaco
with the Fraser, where Fort George now stands, thus
changing completely his route and rendering impossible
treachery at the hands of Indians friendly to the Naskhu'tins. On reaching the Fraser, the little party abandoned
their canoe and continued their journey on foot, following
all the time the left bank of that river.
Summer was then well on, since when they arrived opposite the first camp of the Naskhu'tins, which was composed
of but a few persons, they spied them busy catching salmon.
Retreating somewhat for the sake of greater secrecy, they
built a large spruce bark canoe and profited by a dense fog
to gum it, as otherwise the smoke of the fire required to
melt the gum would have given the alarm—an Indian will
smell smoke for miles. The little band of Naskhu'tins had
just feasted on a fat bear, and were sleeping soundly when,
they were rudely awakened by the outcries of 'Kwah's followers. In a large house, with a doorway at each gable-
end, lived with his brother and family a tceneza known
under the name of Tsohtaih. While his brother precipitately rushed out of the lodge, only to find death at the hands
of one of his aggressors, who pierced him with his spear,
Tsohtaih made his exit with his son by the opposite door
and took to the water. He might have made good his
escape had it not been for 'Kwah himself, who
noticed the two fugitives and, seizing a canoe, set
out in pursuit of them.
The contest was altogether too unequal, and
before Tsohtaih could swim away any considerable
distance, 'Kwah was dealing him out repeated
thrusts of an iron dagger (which is still in the possession of one of his sons at Stuart Lake), until
he had been reduced to the state of an almost
shapeless mass of flesh and blood. His son, a
young man of perhaps twenty years of age, shared
his fate, while on land a child of but a few months
was seized and thrown into the river by one of the
northerners in memory of his own brother who
had been similarly treated by the Naskhu'tins.
After this exploit, 'Kwah's " warriors," whose lim-
rMGGER ited numbers did not allow him to undertake
greater deeds, as he knew that the alarm was sure to be
given by the women-folk who had escaped or been allowed
to go in peace, hastily decamped and set out to return by
land to their native country.
Now it happened that the main body of the Naskhu'tins
was stationed some distance farther down the Fraser, while
still a little lower was the camp of T'scelkwet, a most
irascible Indian, allied by family ties to some of the victims
of the Stuart River massacre.    In the main group of In-
dians stood the lodge of a man who was now married to
one of the women previously brought down from Tsalekulhye^ ill-fated winter quarters. That man had become
much attached to his wife, who had with her one of her little
daughters sharing her enforced exile. As the Indian was
in the act of fetching from his trap the salmon caught in
the course of the night, he was horrified to find among his
fish the disfigured body of Tsohtaih, which had floated
down until stopped by the fishing weir.
Guessing what had happened, and, on second thought,
fearing for the safety of his wife, he tried to neutralize the
effect of his first cry of surprise by declaring to all questioners that there was nothing the matter. Then he
hurriedly retired to his shack, and, seizing his war-club
and dagger, he made his wife sit at his feet while he told
the curious of his discovery.
Enraged at the sight of the mangled remains of their
headman, the Naskhu'tins immediately strove to vent their
anger on the foreign woman and her daughter; but, with
all the ardor which love and despair could inspire, her
husband successfully warded off all attacks on her, so that,
unable to accomplish their purpose—inasmuch as they
could not use arrows for fear of killing their countryman—
they resolved to turn their attention to the authors of
Tsohtaih's death, who were now beating a hasty retreat.
The Naskhu'tins had hardly left when T'scelkwet, who
had heard of the whole affair, assembled his own relatives
and set out on the tracks of the pursuers with the avowed
object of lending a helping hand to the Stuart Lake Indians in case of a conflict. Vainly did the outraged
Naskhu'tins endeavor to deter him from his undertaking-.
The irate old man would listen to no entreaties and he
equally scorned all threats. Finding themselves unequal
to the task of successfully meeting two wide-awake enemies,
attacking from opposite quarters—as the natives generally
show little bravery except in ambuscades or against a
sleeping adversary—they had to give up the pursuit.
Meanwhile 'Kwah's fellow-villagers in the north had
transported themselves a short distance above the mouth
of the Thache River on Lake Stuart, when he returned
with his little party of followers, all smeared over the face
with charcoal, as became native "warriors." Upon seeing
them back the Indians there assembled seized their bows
and arrows, shooting at random in the direction of the
oncomers, brandishing towards them their spears, daggers
and war-clubs, and gratifying them with quite a noisy
But this was only feigned hostility and the accomplishment of a sort of traditional rite customary on such
occasions. 'Kwah and his men were in their estimation
me, that is, legally impure, for having shed human blood,
and that unfriendly reception was intended as a protest
and a preservative against any bodily ill which might
otherwise have befallen them as a consequence of their
latest deeds.
One of the headmen finally put an end to the tumult,
and invited the whole assemblage to a repast composed
mainly of an immense number of kescel, or land-locked
salmon, a small fish one of which each guest took, and,
in the case of some personal ailment, applied to the
diseased limb or part of the body, the kescel being
considered, under the circumstances, as possessed of
particularly great curative properties.
In the eyes of his fellows, young 'Kwah was now a man ;
but a man, among the primitive Carriers and not a few
of their descendants, is not supposed to be above the
gambling passion. One of his friends was a youth whose
father bore the  significant name of  Utzi-lla-e'ka, which
may be freely translated Arrow-Heart or Keen-edged-
Heart. His natural crankiness and disposition for harboring a wrong were proverbial. Yet he must have been an
influential member of the band, since he rejoiced in the
possession of an iron axe, an implement which was still
exceedingly precious among the natives of the Stuart
Lake valley.
Taking this with him as an aid in camp-making, Arrow-
Heart's son left one day on pleasure bent for Thachek, in
company with the hero of the late Blackwater expedition. Arrived at that place, which was then a populous
village,1 'Kwah and his companion soon took to gambling.
Time and again luck was against them, until they lost
article after article of their wearing apparel. Reduced
to a state of almost perfect nakedness, and yet hoping
against hope, Arrow-Heart's son ventured to stake half
the value of his father's axe, which likewise went over to
. his opponent. Disheartened, and thinking his companion
would be more lucky, he turned over the remaining half of
the implement to 'Kwah, only to see it immediately lost.
Dejected, and in the thinnest attire, the truant couple
returned to their people, who we're then camped on Stuart
River, some fifty miles below the lake from whence it flows.
Maddened at the loss of his axe, Arrow-Heart broke into
reproaches against 'Kwah, whom he accused of being the
final cause of its going over to the Thachek people. To
placate the old man, who had a bad reputation and was
credited with an unwelcome familiarity with the black art
of sorcery, 'Kwah, after protesting that the fault was not
his, presented him with a marmot robe and a beautiful
necklace of dentalium shells, which, however, the irate
parent of a gambler spitefully declined to accept.
i. As is shown by the large number of stone arrow-heads and other ancient
weapons still found in the soil on the original site of that village.
Time went on without softening his hostile sentiments.
'Kwah would offer him the first-fruits of his hunts, only to
see them thrown away with disdain. One day, when he
was embarking in a small canoe in order to follow his
wife, who had just left with the family impedimenta in a
craft of her own, Arrow-Heart appeared on the bank, and
in a shrill voice addressed him thus :
" You good-for-nothing orphan, who live on the bones of
the village, why did you take my axe away from me ? "
Wounded to the quick by those epithets, than which none
can be more opprobrious in the eyes of a Dene,1 'Kwah
seized his bow and arrows and shot his insulter through
the heart. This was the signal for his quondam partner
in gambling to spring out of his lodge in hot pursuit of
the now retreating homicide, who made for the south as
swiftly as the sluggish stream and his own exertions
would allow. Finding his progress too slow by water, he
landed and darted away, keeping close to the river, where
he soon overtook his wife, who was paddling leisurely in
her own canoe. Together they crossed to the eastern
side, and both started for the hunting-grounds of friendly
Sekanais, among whom they stayed a full year or more.
At length, deeming the anger and resentment of Arrow-
Heart's people sufficiently cooled down, he returned to
Stuart River with a plentiful provision of dressed skins,
which he publicly distributed as an atonement for his deed.
By that time, however, the Sekanais themselves were in
no very happy position, owing to a circumstance which
none of them could have foreseen. Aborigines of the
eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains,2  they had been
i. In the eyes of the Denes there is no condition so lowly as that of an
orphan or a widow.
2. As proved by their own language and by the following statement of
Harmon, one of the first white men who ever came in contact with them (a
gradually driven into the recesses of that lofty range,
where they had acquired their name,1 and finally to the
west thereof, by a section of their own tribe now constituted into a distinct branch of the great D^n6 family,
the Beaver Indians, wjio for many years had been at
enmity with their parent stock. Of late years an element
had forced itself into the conflict which was telling terribly
against the Sekanais proper. " Detonating bows " due to
strangers in the east, who came nobody knew whence,
were playing havoc among the less favored mountaineers,
who, on several occasions, were slaughtered like sheep in
the most treacherous manner. Parties of Beavers armed
with guns would play with the fright inspired by their
weapons, and, discharging them in the midst of the unsophisticated Sekanais, would kill them to the last.
Thus it came to pass that no mountain fastnesses could
afford them shelter or anything like real security. Moreover, as fright is contagious, the terrible deeds of the
Beavers went to the ears of the far-away Carriers, who to
this day have remained persuaded of their innate lust for
carnage. So much so, indeed, that hardly a summer now
passes without some parties of the Western D6nes running
home with the intelligence that bodies of Beaver Indians
are lurking in the woods, evidently bent on slaughter.
To some of our readers an explanation of this reversal
of fortunes is hardly necessary.    It was but the natural
statement which we had never noticed until some time after the foregoing
had been written) : " They [the Sekanais] are a small part of a tribe who, but a
few years since, came from the east side of the Rocky Mountains" ("An Account
of the Indians Living West of the Rocky Mountains," p. 265, New York reprint).
Why their numbers were so insignificant the reader will soon see. Another
proof of that author's wonderful sagacity is his remark to the effect that " the
people who are now called Si-can-nies, I suspect, at no distant period,
belonged to the tribe called Beaver Indians."    (Ibid, ibid.)
1. The true name of that tribe is Tsffkihne, " People-on-the-Rocks," i.e.,
the Rocky Mountains. ?o STILL PRE-EUROPEAN TIMES
result of the approach of the Canadian traders representing
the North-West Company. Fire-arms and fire-water, the
one a relative blessing and the other an unmitigated curse,
which are but too often yoked together, were now within
measurable distance of the Rockv Mountains, leaving:
behind them a trail of blood and indescribable debauchery.
The white man, in his march from the east, was almost in
sight, bringing in the folds of his mantle, along with undoubted boons for the natives, the plague of drink and
consequent disorders, which was to thin their ranks to such
an alarming extent.
For a score of years or so the bulk of the Carrier tribe
was to remain free from the contamination of the new
invasion ; but, as we have seen, the Sekanais, who were
to meet sooner the pale-faced strangers, were being, in
the meantime, decimated by their death-dealing engines.
The last bloody encounter, wherein, as usual, the victims
were all on one side, took place near a hill between the
Rockies and the Carrier's territory, whose name is still
mentioned by the natives. A party of Beavers came on,
requesting the Sekanais to tell their children not to mind
the report of their arms, which they were going to discharge for the fun of it, when suddenly all the adult
Sekanais fell bathed in their blood.
This was the last butchery at the hands of the insolent
easterners, and it was not destined to go unavenged even
before the introduction of fire-arms among the Sekanais.
The latter began to feel shy of their congeners, who were
constantly crossing the Rockies, apparently to parade
their wonderful arms, and would not so easily listen to
their protestations of friendship and peace. We are told
that a band of Beavers, having broken into a camp of
Sekanais while professing the most amicable intentions,
one of the latter, who enjoyed the respect of his tribesmen,
immediately made for the woods and travelled for some
distance on the snow, cutting or bending as he went the
bush tops, with the object of drawing to his movements
the attention of bands of congenerous huntsmen possibly
roaming in the vicinity. He then returned to his original
camp, where the easterners were still to be seen, enjoying
the hospitality of his own people.
Several parties of nomadic Sekanais noticed the silent
signals left on the frozen snow and through the bush, and,
unable to read them to their own satisfaction, followed the
freshest tracks of the Indian to solve the enigma. These
led them to the Sekanais camp, where the Beavers were
now in an insignificant minority.
This gradual grouping of natives who could not bear
them any possible goodwill seems to have given the alarm
to the strangers, who thenceforth never went about without being armed to the teeth. One day, when one of
them was conversing with the inmates of a Sekanais tepee,
squatting on the ground with one of his feet hard on the
handle of an iron dagger, the Indian who had so cleverly
brought in such a concourse of his fellow-tribesmen professed admiration for the beautiful weapon and asked to
be allowed to examine it. But the Beaver would not even
momentarily part with it, so that the Sekanais had to
forcibly wrench it from under his foot, and, plunging it
into the stranger's breast, thereby gave the signal for the
massacre which ensued. The Beavers were taken by
surprise and, unable to seek and drop under the hammer
of their guns the few grains of powder which at that time
did duty as a percussion cap, they were overcome and
annihilated by their hosts. SIR ALEXANDER MACKENZIE.
(See p. 34.)
(See p. 117.)
(See p. 83.)
(See p. 125.)  CHAPTER  III.
Discovery by Alexander Mackenzie.
FOR more than a century the Hudson's Bay Company,
a commercial corporation with which the reader
will in due time become better acquainted, had
been claiming the monopoly of the fur trade over the
vast basin of Hudson Bay and its tributaries, while their
claim over the western territories adjoining what was then
Canada had come to be disputed by several merchants of
Montreal, on the plea that the said territories rightfully
belonged to their own colony and that the English company's pretension to trade thereon was condemned by the
very letter of its own charter. This, they argued, expressly
specified that the lands handed over to the new corporation were those " which were not actually possessed by any
of the [King's] subjects" at the time of its formation. As
individual efforts could not have much effect on the powerful
company, the chief fur-dealers of Montreal, among whom
Joseph Frobisher and Simon McTavish were the most
prominent personalities, united their interests in 1783, and
constituted themselves the North-West Fur-Trading
But the new concern  had  hardly been brought into
existence when, at the instigation of a troublesome character, an American named Peter Pond, a few fur-dealers,
among whom was  a young  man  known as Alexander
* M
Mackenzie, of whom we shall presently have much to say,
formed themselves into a rival corporation.
As a consequence, the fur trade for a time presented the
ludicrous spectacle of small localities enjoying the competition of three different posts, kept by men bitterly
hostile to one another. This bitterness having resulted
in the violent death of a certain John Ross, a bourgeois
or partner representing the interests of the minor North-
West company at Lake Athabaska, the two Canadian
concerns coalesced in 1787, and Alexander Mackenzie
was entrusted with the post so suddenly vacated by John
Alexander Mackenzie was a Scotch Highlander, born at
Stornoway, who had come to Montreal about 1779, when
he entered the service of Gregory, Macleod & Co. Of
a restless and somewhat impetuous disposition, he was by
nature inclined to be biased, and, if crossed in his plans,
he would become rather self-assertive and stubborn. But
his very defects were simply excesses of good qualities, and
they admirably fitted him for the tasks he was so gloriously to achieve.
Possessed of a fairly good education, the young man
does not seem to have taken kindly to the drudgery incident to the daily life of a fur-trader. Adventure and the
search after glory were much more congenial to his tastes.
These he successfully followed in his first expedition down
the noble stream which now bears his name. That journey
was effected during the summer of 1789, and it served
only to whet his appetite for • excitement and fame. It
was also a welcome preparation for the more difficult task
which remained in store for him.
There had been some contention as to the probable distance from Lake Athabaska to the Pacific Ocean, which
the   expeditions   of  adventurers   belonging   to   various
nationalities had made fairly known. There, according
to native reports, " white men were to be seen who wore
armor," whereby were meant either the Spaniards or
English, or even the aborigines of the coast, who, as will
appear further on, were often taken for whites by the
natives of the interior, and amongst whom the use of
armor was quite common. An expert had finally decided
that the distance to the grande mer de t'ouest, as the Pacific
was called by the French Canadians of the time, must be
very great. But this only urged Mackenzie to reach it by
During his expedition to the Arctic Ocean he had more
than once deplored his want of astronomical knowledge
and the lack of the proper instruments. To obtain this
desideratum, he crossed over to London in 1791, there
acquired the necessary information, and returned in the
spring of 1792, when he sent ahead of his expedition two
men to prepare timber for houses and palisades wherein to
winter, so as to be able to make an early start in 1793.
Mackenzie was the discoverer of New Caledonia and,
therefore, of the interior of British Columbia. Nay, as the
skippers who visited the North Pacific coast never ventured inland, he might with reason be put down as the
discoverer of the whole country. On that account, the
smallest details entered in his Journal, the aspect of the
country, and the nature of its fauna, such as they appeared
to him, but more especially his account of his first encounters with the natives are, in our eyes, invested with an
importance which could hardly be exaggerated. Having
left Fort Chippewayan on the 10th of October, 1792, he
arrived ten days later at the last post established on the
Peace River, "amidst the rejoicing and firing of the people,
who were animated 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 nor give any
rum to the natives during the summer,"1 which implies
that the contrary was the case in the course of other
The very first pages of Mackenzie's Journal are valuable
as giving us an insight into the policy followed by the
North-West Company with regard to their subordinates.
We therefore continue our quotation :
" As they [the Indians, who must have been Beavers]
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 advice . . .
and I strengthened my admonition with a nine gallon cask
of reduced rum and a quantity of tobacco."2
Leaving the new establishment, he crossed the Rocky
Mountains up to the junction of the Parsnip and the
Finlay, and, a short distance west thereof, he met, on the
former, the men he had sent to prepare his winter quarters.
With them he found an Indian chief, together with about
seventy of his men who, from their conduct and familiarity
with fire-arms, seem to have been Beavers encroaching on
Sekanais territory.
His tent had no sooner been pitched than he summoned
them together, reproached them with their past misbehaviour, after which he gave each of them " about four
inches of Brazil tobacco," and " presented them with a
quantity of rum," adding the somewhat naive recommendation that they should use it with discretion! In spite of
the bitter cold, he had to wait until the 23rd of December
before the house that was being; erected for him was in-
1. "Journal of a Voyage Through the North-West Continent of America,'
London, 1801, pp. 125, 126.
2. Ibid., p. 126.
habitable. He then set his men to build five more houses
for themselves, and thenceforth his life was that of a fur-
dealer, occasionally visited by the trappers, and subsisting
on the game of the country, which, happily, was quite
On the ist of January, 1793, he was, as usual, awakened
by volleys from his men's muskets, and, in return for their
good wishes, he treated them " with plenty of spirits." \
Five days afterwards he mentions the firing of the Indian
guns as a mark of sorrow at the death of a member of the
tribe, a circumstance which goes to prove that fire-arms
were already common in that part of the world. Intoxicants do not seem to have been much scarcer, since he
adds in a foot-note, that when those Indians " are drinking, they frequently present their guns to each other, when
any of the parties have not other means of procuring rum."
. In April the supply of liquor was exhausted among the
natives, who sent an embassy to him to " demand rum
to drink."2 Having at first refused to comply with
their request, their threats forced him to yield to their
At the opening of the spring he received a valued
reinforcement in the person of Alexander Mackay, who
was destined to meet with a violent death on the ship
Tonquin, which was captured by the Coast Indians.
Finally, on the 9th of May, 1793, Mackenzie left for his
perilous expedition in a birch-bark canoe 25 feet long,
4^ feet beam, and 26 inches hold. Therein he found place
for 3,000 pounds of baggage and provisions, together with a
crew of nine French Canadians, whose names are worthy
to be transmitted to posterity.    Besides Mackay and his
1. "Journal of a Voyage Through the North-West Continent of America,"
London, 1801, p. 137.
2. Ibid., p. 150.
chief, there were Joseph Landry, Charles Ducette, Baptiste
Bisson, Francois Courtois, Jacques Beauchamp, and Francois Beaulieu. These were accompanied by two Indians,
who were to act as hunters and interpreters.
Ascending the Parsnip River, the explorer met with
several elk and herds of buffalo, two noble animals which
have since disappeared forever from those quarters.1 Then
beaver succeeds to the larger game, and Mackenzie declares
that in no part of the world did he see so much beaver ,
On the 9th of June he meets with the first party of
undoubted Sekanais, a body of natives who had heard of
white men, but had never seen any. They immediately took
to flight, and on his sending his men to parley with them,
the latter were received with the brandishing of spears, the
i. The buffalo was never indigenous to the Carrier country, and the
Stuart Lake Indians call it by a Cree word ; but they knew of the elk,
which went as yezih, a Carrier term. The Sekanais have a native name of
their own for the buffalo, which circumstance confirms Mackenzie's account as
to its originally being found west of the Rockies. He also mentions having
seen several enclosures to drive in and capture the larger game, contrivances of
which the present writer had given a description long before he had seen
Mackenzie's Journal.
Mr. Malcolm McLeod is no doubt mistaken when, in the course of his note
xlvii to McDonald's " Peace River," he claims that Sir Alexander Mackenzie
confounds the moose with the elk. These are two very distinct animals, the
first of which (toeni, in Carrier) is still to be found within the territory of our
Indians, while as to the latter (yezih, in Carrier), the oldest aborigines claim
to have seen or heard of specimens of it long ago on the west side of the Rocky
Mountains. That this kind of deer did really exist at one time within reach
of their arrows is shown by the fact that when they first saw a horse they
called it a domestic elk (yezih-lhi, elk-dog), a name it has retained to this day.
That Mackenzie was of that opinion is shown by the fact that on p. 205 of his
Journal he distinctly mentions the " moose, elk and reindeer." Harmon is no
less explicit in his "Concise Account of the Principal Animals which are
found in the North-Western Part of North America." After mentioning the
buffalo and the deer, he comes to the elk which, he says, " is about the size
of a horse," after which he describes separately the moose and the cariboo.
display of bows and arrows, and loud vociferations. Having
succeeded in dispelling their fears, the explorer soon
noticed iron work in their possession. On inquiry he
found that they got it from people who lived up a large
river (the Carriers), who in turn procured it from others
who dwelt in houses (the Coast Indians), to whom it was
furnished by men like Mackenzie himself, who travelled in
canoes large as islands on the "stinking lake," the sea.
They professed to know of no stream that emptied therein,
but mentioned a large river whose " inhabitants built
houses, lived on islands, and were a numerous and warlike
people."1 This is the first implied reference we find in the
whole field of literature to the Fraser and the Carrier
Having persuaded one of the Sekanais to accompany
them in the capacity of guide, Mackenzie and party
reached (June 12th) a lake two miles long, which was no
other than the source of the Parsnip. After a portage of
only 817 paces, they came to another lake, whence they
entered a small stream which was to try sorely their
patience, and which, for that reason, they called the " Bad
River." This might be described as a generally shallow
creek with a rocky bottom, where rapids, whirlpools,
eddies, and treacherous rocks succeeded each other with
hardly any interruption. The party's canoe fared badly
along this wild river, getting broken with several holes in
the bottom, when the crew had to jump into the water, and
the whole cargo was wrecked, though afterwards recovered,
with the exception of the bullets, which were irretrievably
As a climax, the guide, on whom they had counted to
introduce them to the terrible Carriers, deserted on the
15th, and they were left alone to contemplate the "Great
1. Mackenzie's Journal, p. 204.
River," which they reached in the course of the same day,
and which Mackenzie took to be the Columbia, though he
occasionally calls it Tacoutche-Desse, after his Eastern Dene
interpreter.1 This, as everybody knows, was nothing else
than the large stream which nowadays goes by the name
of Fraser River.
On the 19th of June his men saw, without being able to
entertain them, a small party of Carriers, who fled at their
approach, and by threatening signs with their arms (which,
besides the usual bows and arrows, consisted of spears and
large knives), deterred them from attempting anything like
friendly intercourse.
On the morrow he passed a house which seemed to him
so novel that he describes it minutely, along with " a large
machine ... of a cylindrical form," which was none
other than a salmon basket. After meeting several other
lodges built on the same model, mostly on islands, he
cached in the ground ninety pounds of pemmican, and, on
June 21st, somewhere between what is now Quesnel and
Alexandria, he came upon the first party of Carriers with
whom he could hold intercourse. His account of his
experience with them is so graphic that, in spite of its
length and owing to the importance of the occurrence to
the historian and the ethnographer, we will reproduce it
almost in its entirety. It is but fair to fully notice the
risks the great explorer ran, and the wonderful tact with
which he came out of them without injury to himself or
his people.
I We perceived a small new canoe that had been drawn
up to the edge of the woods, and soon after another
appeared with one man in it, which came out of a small
1. The Carrier name is Lhtha-Khoh, which is no doubt responsible for the
word Tacoutche (iche means mouth) the desinence of which (Khoh) is the
Carrier equivalent of the Eastern Dene desse, river.
With one of Mackenzie's "machines" in the background.  DISCOVERY BY ALEXANDER MACKENZIE
river. He no sooner saw us than he gave the whoop to
alarm his friends, who immediately appeared on the bank,
armed with bows and arrows and spears. They were
thinly habited, and displayed the most outrageous antics.
Though they were certainly in a state of great apprehension, they manifested by their gestures that they were
resolved to attack us if we should venture to land. I therefore ordered the men to stop the way of the canoe, and
even to check her drifting with the current, as it would
have been extreme folly to have approached these savages
before their fury had in some degree subsided. My interpreters, who understood their language, informed me
that they threatened us with instant death if we drew nigh
the shore, and then followed their menace by discharging
a volley of arrows, some of which fell short of the canoe
and others passed over it, so that they fortunately did us
no injury. As we had been carried by the current below
the spot where the Indians were, I ordered my people to
paddle to the opposite side of the river, without the least
appearance of confusion, so that they brought me abreast
of them. My interpreters, while we were within hearing,
had done everything in their power to pacify them, but in
vain. We also observed that they had sent off a canoe
with two men down the river, as we concluded, to communicate their alarm and procure assistance.  .  .  ."
This circumstance induced him to leave no step untried
in order to establish friendly intercourse with them before
the arrival of the expected reinforcements. So he goes on
to say:
" I left the canoe and walked by myself along the beach,
in order to induce some of the natives to come to me,
which I imagined they might be disposed to do when they
saw me alone without any apparent possibility of receiving
assistance from my people.  ...    At the same time, in
order to possess the utmost security of which my situation
was susceptible, I directed one of the Indians to slip into
the woods with my gun and his own, and to conceal himself from their discovery ; he also had orders to keep as
near me as possible without being seen, and if any of the
natives should venture across and attempt to shoot me
from the water, it was his instructions to lay him low ; at
the same time he was particularly enjoined not to fire till
I had discharged one or both of the pistols that I carried
in my belt. .  .  .
1 In the meantime, my other interpreter assured them
that we entertained the most friendly disposition, which I
confirmed by such signals as I conceived would be comprehended by them. I had not, indeed, been long at my
station and my Indian in ambush behind me, when two of
the natives came off in a canoe, but stopped when they had
got within a hundred yards of me. I made signs for
them to land, and as an inducement displayed looking-
glasses, beads, and other alluring trinkets. At length, but
with every mark of extreme apprehension, they approached
the shore, stern foremost, but would not venture to land.
I now made them a present of some beads, with which
they were going to push off, when I renewed my entreaties,
and after some time prevailed on them to come ashore
and sit down by me. My hunter now thought it right to
join me, and created some alarm in my new acquaintance.
It was, however, soon removed, and I had the satisfaction
to find that he and these people perfectly understood each
other.1   ...    I expressed my wish to conduct them to
I. Mackenzie's interpreter must have been previously acquainted with the
Carrier dialect, or the explorer is mistaken as to the ease with which his
Indian conversed with the strangers, as a Sekariais and, d fortiori, a Beaver
who knows but his own idiom can hardly understand a Carrier. The probability is that each party used all he knew of the other's vocabulary, added to
the words which, with slight variations, are common to both tribes.
our canoe, but they declined my offer; and when they saw
some of my people coming towards us they requested me
to let them return, and I was so satisfied with the progress
I had made in my intercourse with them that I did not
hesitate a moment in complying with their desire.
" During their short stay they observed us and everything about us with a mixture of admiration and astonishment. We could plainly distinguish that their friends
received them with great joy on their return, and that the
articles which they carried back with them were examined
with a general and eager curiosity ; they also appeared to
hold a consultation, which lasted about a quarter of an
hour, and the result of which was an invitation to come
over to them, which was cheerfully accepted. Nevertheless,
on our landing, they betrayed evident sjgns of confusion,
which arose probably from the quickness of our movements. . . . The two men, however, who had come with
us appeared, very naturally, to possess the greatest share of
courage on the occasion and were ready to receive us on
our landing; but our demeanor soon dispelled all their
Having secured their confidence by gifts of trinkets and
the like, he was informed that the river on which they had
embarked was long, with a very strong current and several
rapids which no man could safely shoot. Mackenzie's new
friends described their immediate neighbors, the Shush-
waps, as " a very malignant race, who lived in large subterranean recesses," and they did their best to dissuade
him from continuing farther, if he valued his life at all.
According to their reports, the Shushwaps then possessed
iron arms and utensils, which they procured from neighbors
in the west, who obtained them from people like Mackenzie.
But he was not to be easily dissuaded.    Taking along
i.  "Journal," pp. 242-5.
two of his new acquaintances to secure him a favorable
reception from the Indians he would meet on his way
down, he was just leaving for the south, when a canoe was
sighted which was manned by three men, one of whom
cautioned him to wait until next day, as the messengers
he had noticed detaching themselves from the main group
had gone down to alarm the people, who would certainly
oppose his passage.
On the morrow he left early with his two Carrier guides',
only to fall in with another body of hostile Indians. The
guide went to them, and, " after a very vociferous discourse,"
one of them was persuaded to approach them, a man
who presented a " very ferocious aspect," after which his
example was followed by his companions, to the number
of seven men and,ten women.
A little farther down he had a repetition of his recent
encounter, and he states that so wild and ferocious was the
appearance of the Indians that he entertained fears for the
safety of the guides sent to conciliate them. At the main
village—which was afterwards to be called Alexandria, in
memory of his eventful trip—he found, among the Carriers,
a Beaver Indian and four Shushwaps, and he was not a
little astonished to be addressed in Cree by a Sekanais
woman who had been taken prisoner by a band of " Knis-
There, a map of the southern course of the river was
drawn for his benefit, to show him the madness of his
enterprise, while he was told that, after only seven days'
march due west, he could obtain his object by following a
route to the " stinking lake," where the Indians themselves
used to procure brass, copper and trinkets. From that
quarter they also got iron bars eighteen inches long,
which they fashioned into axes and arrow and spear points.
As he had not more than thirty days' provisions left, he
held a consultation with his men, the result of which was
that they would return up the river to the stream (Black-
water), whose valley they would follow by land to reach
the coast
On their way up they divided into two parties. To
lighten their craft, Mackay followed the shore on foot with
the two eastern Indians and one Carrier, who had promised
to guide them to the sea. On getting to the rendezvous
they had agreed upon, Mackenzie and his crew were
greeted by a story from Mackay and the easterners,
which we had better allow the explorer to relate in his
own words.
" They—Mackay and companions—informed us that
they had taken refuge in that place with the determination
to sell their lives, which they considered in the most
imminent danger, as dear as possible. In a very short
time after they had left us, they met a party of Indians
whom we had known at this place, and were probably
those whom we had seen to land from their canoe. They
appeared to be in a state of extreme rage, and their bows
bent with their arrows across them. The guide stopped
to ask them some questions, which my people did not
understand, and then set off with the utmost speed. Mr.
Mackay, however, did not leave him till they were both
exhausted from running. When the young man came up,
he then said that some treacherous design was meditated
against them . . . but refused to name the enemy. The
guide then conducted them through very bad ways, as fast
as they could run ; and, when he was desired to slacken
his pace, he answered that they might follow him in any
manner they pleased, but that he was impatient to get to
his family, in order to prepare shoes and other necessaries
for his journey. They did not, however, think it prudent
to quit him, and he would not stop till ten at night.
I On passing a track that was but lately made, they
began to be ferociously alarmed, and on inquiring of the
guide where they were, he pretended not to understand
them. They then all lay down, exhausted with fatigue;
and without any kind of covering; they were cold, wet and
hungry, but dared not light a fire from the apprehension of
an enemy. This comfortless spot they left at dawn of
day and, on their arrival at the lodges, found them deserted,
the property of the Indians being scattered about as if
abandoned forever.
| The guide then made two or three trips into the woods,
calling aloud and bellowing like a madman. At length he
set off in the same direction as they came, and had not
since appeared. To heighten their misery, as they did not
find us at the place appointed, they concluded that we
were all destroyed, and had already formed their plans to
take to the woods and cross in as direct line as they could
to the waters of the Peace River, a scheme which could
only be suggested by despair."1
At this recital, a general panic seized those around
Mackenzie, and, unloading everything except six packages,
which he left to the care of four men, the leader was
prevailed upon to return to the camp of the previous night,
which was more propitious for defence. There he saw to
it that the party's arms were in good order, filled each
man's flask with powder, and distributed one hundred
bullets, while some of the men were employed in melting
down shot to make more.
While they were busy with these warlike preparations,
an Indian landed where they stood, who, on perceiving
them, bolted away with the threat that he would hasten
and join his friends, who would come and kill the intruders.
They passed an  uneasy night and  kept strict  watch
I. "Journal," pp. 263-4.
over their surroundings. Early next day they returned to
Mackay, who complained that his men were discontented
and wanted to go home. Indeed, while Mackenzie was
taking observations at noon they went so far as to load, of
their own accord, his canoe to return east. Feigning not
to notice dissatisfaction, he let them go by water while he
followed over land.
Here a little incident still added to their apprehensions.
His men had already got to an Indian house, there to pass
the night, when, by inadvertence, he let go an arrow, which,
to his alarm, struck the lodge they had just entered. That
was too much for their strained nerves. They thought
themselves attacked by the mysterious Carriers, and the
explanation their chief gave them of the accident served
only to increase their fears. The arrow was without any
point, and yet it had penetrated more than an inch a hard,
dry log. Why remain in the power of a people possessed
of such means of destruction ? moralized his crew.
About midnight a rustling noise was heard in the woods,
which created a general panic, while their dog remained in
a state of nervous restlessness until two, when the sentinel
informed Mackenzie that he saw something like a human
form creeping along on all-fours. This ultimately proved
to be a blind old man, who was welcome as a means of
clearing up the mystery which had attended the Indians'
actions for the last few days. He explained that, shortly
after they had passed on their way to the sea coast,
natives had arrived from up the river who had declared
them to be perfidious enemies; and their unexpected
return so soon after they had proclaimed that they were
going to follow the river to its mouth had confirmed those
rumors and created a panic of which he had been one of
the victims, since, unable to follow them, he had been left
to his fate.
At these words Mackenzie must have remembered with
dismay the pleasure he had taken in firing off his gun to
show the extent of his power, and the unspeakable fright
they had manifested on hearing its report. This circumstance had now turned against him, and he and his men
were in the ludicrous position of people haunted by the
apprehension of those whom fear had driven away from
The next day, which was the 28th of June, was employed
in making a new canoe, and on the 29th they were agreeably surprised at beholding their Carrier guide, with a companion, make for their camp. He declared that he had
spent his time in search of his missing family, who had fled
like the others.
On Tuesday, 2nd July, 1793, the whole party reached
the mouth of the Blackwater, where Mackenzie harangued his men, declaring his firm and irrevocable resolution to go west, even though he might be left alone. Then
he made another cache, left his canoe on a scaffolding, and
handing each of his white companions a pack of some
ninety pounds, with a gun and ammunition—the
Indians grumbling with only half that weight—he directed
his steps in their company towards the village of the Naskhu'tins, which was then eleven miles distant from the
mouth of the Blackwater River, on a lake called Pcencho.
There he found, as usual, several articles of European
manufacture, among which he mentions a lance resembling
a sergeant's halberd, which had lately come from the sea
coast. Taking care to send two couriers in advance to
predispose people in his favor, he proceeded west, and in
the course of a few days he met a woman from the coast
all bedecked in ornaments of various kinds.
After crossing two mountains the whole party came upon
an arm of the sea, now Bentinck Inlet, among troublesome
Indians, where the indefatigable explorer wrote on a rock,
" Alexander Mackenzie, from Canada, by land, the twenty-
second of July, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-
In another month, August 24th,   the intrepid  voyagers
were safely back at Fort Chippewayan.1
1. While some authors are evidently unfair to S. Fraser, who was the first
British Columbian of note, others, like the writer of a sketch of the Hudson's
Bay Company, in a booklet on the '' History of the SS. Beaver," are hardly
just to the memory of Alexander Mackenzie when they state that " Simon
Fraser . . . appears to have been the first white man to cross the Canadian Rockies in charge of an expedition " (p. 6). That same author is scarcely
more accurate when he writes, immediately after the above astonishing statement, that Fraser discovered, in 1806-07, the river that bears his name. See
Chapter V.
First Foundations.
NOT unaware of the importance of his discoveries,
Alexander Mackenzie resolved to publish his Journal, and, after preparing it for the printer, he visited
Scotland, only to return to Canada in 179S without having
accomplished his object Thenceforth he was to stay in
Montreal, there to act in the capacity of a partner of the
North-West Company. Just then his services were badly
wanted, for in that very year several partners having
seceded from the Canadian concern, owing to the autocratic
ways of its chief, Simon McTavish, they set up a rival corporation, which soon became known as the X Y Company.
With the love of independence which characterized Mackenzie, he was only too inclined to join the seceders. Yet
he was persuaded to stay another three years with the
In 1799, however, he finally severed his connection with
them, crossed over to England, published in 1801 his
"Voyages," and was knighted by George III.
Sir Alexander's services to geography and ethnography were very valuable, and well deserved the recognition
they received. His journey to the Pacific, especially, was
an exceedingly dangerous venture, and the fact that he
emerged without bloodshed from his many difficulties
speaks volumes for his tact and prudence.     His observa-
tions on the manners and customs of the people he
encountered betray an able and evenly balanced mind.
We could almost wish that the chronicler had been more
particular about place names and topographical matters in
general, as it is with the extremest difficulty that a person,
however well acquainted with the territory he explored,
can follow him. Moreover, while he notes the passing of
several unimportant streams flowing into the Parsnip
River and elsewhere, we look in vain in his journal for any
mention of such large rivers as the Pack, or McLeod,
whose waters differ so much from those of the Parsnip,
into which it empties itself, and even the Nechaco, which
is as important as the Peace west of the Rockies.1
From a purely literary standpoint, his Journal, though
revised by his cousin, Roderick Mackenzie, stands open to
criticism. Again, its author does not seem to have been
blessed with anything like a keen ear, nor any aptitude for
native languages. On pages 257-8 of his volume he gives us
brief vocabularies of the " Nagailer or Chin Indians," and of
the "Atnah or Carrier Indians," which are philologically
worthless. Moreover, his so-called Carrier vocabulary is
made up of Shushwap words, while its " Nagailer " counterpart is intended to reproduce words which, in the mouth of
his informants, were evidently Carrier.
In the course of that same year (1801), the explorer
returned to Canada, and, freed from the bonds which had
so far kept him with the McTavish concern, threw himself body and soul into the X Y Company, of which he
became the directing spirit.
1. In his own Journal, Fraser occasionally notes some of these omissions,
and in one instance he supposes that Sir Alexander must have been asleep
when he passed a large stream he never mentions. Whereupon H. H.
Bancroft becomes very wroth, forgetting that Mackenzie is himself candid
enough to confess that it happened to him more than once to doze in his canoe
("Journal," p. 183).
51 r«!
It does not fall within our province to describe here the
heated contentions, the bitter rivalries, the fights and the
brigandage which ensued between the opposing factions.
Suffice it to say that McTavish's death, in 1805, removed
the main cause of the whole trouble, and the following year
the divided parties were reunited into one. What we are
concerned with is the territory traversed by the indomitable
Scotchman and its fate after it became known to the
The bitter struggle between the rival factions in the east
forced them to concentrate, instead of extending, their
energies, and the newly-discovered fields west of the Rocky
Mountains had to wait for the restoration of peace before
anything could be done for them. Four years after
Mackenzie's voyage, in the course of 1797, a certain James
Finlay did, indeed, ascend that part of the Peace River
which now bears his name, after which he followed that
explorer's route along the Parsnip almost to its source;
but that was merely travelling, and it is safe to say that no
tangible benefit thereby accrued to the fur trade or the
As for the older Hudson's Bay Company, it was far too
conservative and too much devoid of initiative to have
dreamed of establishing itself in a distant country just
revealed to the world through the exertions of one of its
natural enemies. Nay, it was only reaching the middle of
the continent when Alexander Mackenzie was visiting the
Pacific Coast1
1. The unaccountable ignorance of ihe early history of British Columbia to
which we have referred in our Preface manifests itself in many ways. Will it
be believed that the author of the sketch of New Caledonia in the " Dictionary of Well-known British Columbians," an important work published at
Vancouver four years ago, honestly supposes that the Hudson's Bay Company
had no precursors in the fur-trade within the limits of the Province ? He does
not seem to have ever heard of the North-West Company !
As that gentleman was leaving, in 1792, on his memorable
journey, a youth of sixteen1 was entering the service of the
North-West Company, who was to be the man of whom his
employers would avail themselves to reap the first-fruits of
Mackenzie's voyage. Sir Alexander had discovered the
land ; Simon Fraser was to establish the first trading-posts
Born at Bennington, on the Hudson, of a Scottish United
Empire Loyalist, a Captain Fraser, who died in prison after
he had been captured by the Americans at Burgoyne's
surrender, he was taken by his widowed mother to Upper
Canada, in the vicinity of Cornwall, where he passed his
infancy. In 1792 he joined as clerk the ranks of the
North-West Company, and ten years afterwards he
obtained the honorable position of a bourgeois or partner,
a fact which is certainly the best proof of his ability,
and should silence the attacks of such writers as H. H.
Bancroft, who never tires of belittling him. To be made a
partner of a powerful commercial company at twenty-six is
certainly no sign of a soft brain, of lack of education, or of
administrative incapacity.
After a first appointment to Grand Portage, he was sent
to Lake Athabaska, and in 1805, new men and more abundant resources having been added to the North-West
Company by the absorption of its active rival, the X Y
Company, it was decided, at a conference held at Fort
William, the headquarters of the entire concern, to extend
the Company's activities west of the Rocky Mountains.
Fraser was chosen as the man best fitted for the purpose.
In the spring of that same year (1805), one of his subordinates, James McDougall, who was to make his mark as a
popular fur-trader in the wilds of the extreme west, had
already visited the sheet of water which empties itself into
1. Others wrongly say nineteen.
the Parsnip River and which was soon to be called McLeod
Lake. Pushing still farther west, he had even reached a
lake some fifteen miles east of the present Fort St. James,
which, his guide having told him was within Carrier territory, has remained to this day known as Carrier Lake or
Lac Porteur.
In compliance with his orders, Fraser proceeded in the
autumn of the same year to a place on the Peace, immediately east of the Rockies, where he established a post
under the name of Rocky Mountain Portage. There he
left fourteen men (two clerks and twelve servants), and went
up with six others as far as a tributary of the Parsnip, the
Pack River, which Mackenzie had overlooked, and which
would have immensely lightened the difficulties of his
progress during the first half of his voyage. This stream
he entered and ascended until he came in view of a narrow
lake, seventeen miles long, which he named McLeod, in
honor of a friend in the service, Archibald Norman McLeod.
There, on a peninsula formed by a tributary (Long Lake
River) and its outlet, by latitude 55°o'2"north, he founded
the first permanent post ever erected within what we now
call British Columbia.1 This was to accommodate the trade
with the Sekanais Indians, and for a short time it even
served as a supply house for the forts later established
among the Carriers. It has existed to this day without a
year of interruption.
Leaving three men at the new post, he returned, in
November, to winter at the Rocky Mountain House with
his three remaining companions and the fourteen men he
had left there.
The three French Canadians now stationed at Fort
i. Or, at all events, west of the Rocky Mountains. In a " History of
British Columbia . . . adapted for the use of Schools," O. H. Cogswell
wrongly states (p. 34) that Fort McLeod was established in 1806.
McLeod were pioneers among the many fur-traders who
were to toil and die on the west side of the Rockies. They
might be considered the very first resident British Columbians. Their first immediate superior was La Malice, who
was, however, soon to be replaced by James McDougall.
The trio may not have enjoyed their enforced solitude on
the shore of Lake McLeod. They certainly do not seem
to have pulled well together, and before many months had
elapsed, La Malice, who was a worthless kind of a fellow,
had left on the pretence that his men would not do their
Things were going more smoothly at the parent house,
immediately to the east of the mountains, where good
humor, if nothing of a less peaceful character, was maintained by means of copious libations of rum.
On the 28th of January, 1806, McDougall was sent on a
second expedition to McLeod Lake. Taking with him a
limited store of tobacco, beads and ammunition, he set out,
accompanied by two Canadians and an Indian, and that
time he even went so far as the site of the present Fort St.
James, near the outlet of Lake Stuart, which he was the
first white man to behold. Where the imposing structures
and dependencies of that establishment now stand was then
to be seen a thick forest of spruce. One of these trees he
blazed and adorned with an inscription whereby he claimed
the spot in the name of the Company he represented. One
of the few Indians he saw, a man apparently of little worth,
called Tceyen or Shaman, whom he wished to invest with
some sort of authority, he presented with a piece of red
cloth, thereby securing his good offices in a possible hour
of need.    This done, he returned east.
On the 9th of February, two Canadians, Farcier and
Varin, were sent to La Malice with an assortment of axes,
knives, and other articles most in demand at McLeod Lake.
Meantime, Fraser was laying plans for his projected
expedition to the westward, and in April, 1806, he had five
bales of goods made up and carried to the western end of
the portage, there to remain ready for the early spring.
Moreover, fully realizing the importance and difficulty of
that undertaking, he was feeling his ground in advance and
studying the geography of the country he intended to
endow with its first trading establishments. His text-book
was no other than the Indians, not always quite reliable or
properly understood, who occasionally called at his place.
Thus, under date of 23rd April, 1806, he records in his Journal the arrival of natives from the Finlay River, near the
source of which he is told that there is " a large lake called
Bear Lake, where the salmon come up, and from which there
is a river that falls into another . . . that glides in a northwest direction. . . . It is in that quarter they get their
iron works and ornaments ; but they represent the navigation beyond that lake as impracticable, and say there are
no other Indians excepting a few of their relations that
ever saw white men thereabout, and to get iron works they
must go far beyond it, which they perform in long journeys
on foot."
§ We cannot understand what river this is," adds the
chronicler, who thereby confesses his ignorance as to the
lake itself. Bancroft is not so self-diffident In a foot-note
he peremptorily solves the problem. " It is Babine Lake
here referred to," he says.1
We are sorry to contradict so voluminous a writer, but
the lake above mentioned is simply Bear Lake, sometimes
called Connolly by a few strangers, and the river that
exercises the mind of Fraser is the Skeena. Bear Lake is
within Sekanais territory, and is frequently visited to this
day by the Finlay River Indians.     The source of their
1.  "History of the North-West," Vol. II., p. 96.
supply of implements of European manufacture was merely
the tribes of Tsimpsian parentage stationed along the
Skeena, who obtained them from their congeners on the
coast. The Sekanais of that early period probably did not
even know of Babine Lake, and the only inaccuracy in
their report is that relative to the proximity of Bear Lake
to the Finlay, which, as the present writer has personally
ascertained, is one hundred and eighty miles instead of
I half the length of the Rocky Mountain Portage."
This item of information seems to have preyed on
Fraser's mind, and two days later he adds, after further
inquiry from new arrivals, the unwelcome circumstance
that, though that river seems to have nothing in common
with the Columbia (he means the Fraser), it is through
it that they get most of their goods, among which he
mentions guns and ammunition. One of the reasons
which prompted his superiors to send him west was to
forestall the Americans, of whom they seem to have
vaguely heard in the east. It must, therefore, not have
been without a pang that he had to chronicle the fact
that, according to his informants, "white people came
there in the course of the summer; but, as they came on
discovery, they had little goods. I have seen a pistol,"
continues Fraser, " brass-mounted, with powder and ball,
which they say they had from them."
This was dismal intelligence indeed for a fur-trader who
was just on the point of setting out to establish new posts
where he thought he had not been preceded. Had he
been better acquainted with the ways of the Den6 nation,
he would have known that its members call whites anybody who conforms to the whites. Those who traded
occasionally at Bear Lake were only Tsimpsians from
the coast. Nay, the Skeena valley, precisely on account
of the monopoly claimed by the Tsimpsian adventurers,
is one of the territories of any importance within British
Columbia which has remained the longest free of any real
white man.
Before his departure for his important journey, which,
after information furnished by James McDougall, he foresaw would be long and tedious, Fraser received, on the
27th of April, Archibald McGillivray, who came from
the east to take charge of the Rocky Mountain Fort
during his absence. Prudence suggested as early a start
as possible in May, in order to avoid the June freshets;
but one of his men, the truant La Malice, did not arrive
until the 17th of that month, and a woman he brought
with him, and for whom he is said to have paid £yx>
sterling, caused still further delay. Fraser would have
none of her in his expedition, and La Malice refused to
go without her. Finally, his employer, short of men as
he was, had to yield.
At length, after he had sent to Fort Chippewayan two
canoes loaded with furs, together with an account of his
operations up to date, Fraser left on the 20th of May,
1806. After a portage of fifteen miles, two canoes were
loaded, when it was discovered that a third was necessary,
which was entrusted to La Malice. Fraser had with him
an able lieutenant in the person of John Stuart, a young
clerk, who was to be more or less identified in after years
with the fur-trade west of the mountains. Among his
crew was also a young half-breed, Jean Baptiste Boucher,
who, under the nickname of " Waccan," we will likewise
have to mention more than once in the following pages.
On the 28th of May they came upon two natives, who,
though they had never seen a white man, were possessed
of guns, which they had obtained from relatives among
the Beaver Indians. At noon of the same day, they
entered the Parsnip, whose banks they were sorry to find
overflowed, so that their progress was necessarily very
slow,1 the passage over rocks, through driftwood and
rapids occasioned by the high water, rendering their leaky
canoes unwieldy and far from safe.
Nation River was passed on the 2nd of June, and
three days afterwards they encamped two miles up the
Pack or McLeod River. There all the goods which were
not destined to outfit Fort McLeod were cached, when
they proceeded to the post where McDougall, now in
charge, was anxiously awaiting them. New canoes were
now made and two Sekanais engaged to introduce them
to the land of the Carriers.
Ignorance of the geography of the country was to lead
Fraser to repeat the mistake already made by Alexander
Mackenzie, and cause him to seek the Fraser by way
of the Parsnip and Bad Rivers, instead of through Crooked
River and what we now call Giscome Portage. We do
not see Bancroft's object in insisting that both Fraser and
Mackenzie could not have gone by way of that portage,
since, by their own account, there cannot be the shadow
of a doubt that they did not, the former going so far as to
state explicitly that, when he reached the head-waters of
the Parsnip, he was told by a Sekanais that, were he at
McLeod Lake, he could show him a shorter and better
route than that he was on.
At first Fraser was only following Mackenzie's itinerary
of 1793, and experiencing the same difficulties, increased,
however, by the unusual state of the water, resulting from
the lateness of the season, the first explorer having been
1. H. H. Bancroft, who is constantly bickering at Fraser's shortcomings,
real or imaginary, contrasts his slowness with Mackenzie's quicker movements.
Had that author lived a few years in the north of British Columbia, he would
certainly not show himself so partial and fault-finding, as he would then know
the immense difference a week or two of warm weather will make in the state of
our nvers.
fully a month in advance of Fraser, who started from the
eastern side of the Rockies, and had, moreover, to deliver
freight at Fort McLeod. Then, again, La Malice became
sick to the point of showing symptoms of delirium, and
all the other men complained of some ailment, a circumstance of which Bancroft takes occasion to have another
fling at poor Fraser, who, he seriously asserts, should have
had better men in his fort!
Arrived at the terrible Bad River, which was now
swollen by the freshets, La Malice was sufficiently
recovered to make trouble and thwart his employer by
threatening to remain behind, a step which Fraser was too
kind-hearted to allow.
At ten o'clock on the ioth of June they were in sight
of the Fraser, and the next day they encamped at the
confluence of the Nechaco. Up that beautiful river the
brigade encountered other enemies in the shape of grizzly
bears, two of which they chased. " One man was caught
and badly torn, the dogs coming up just in time to save
his life. The wife of one of the hunters escaped a horrible
death by throwing herself flat on her face, the enraged
brute, in consequence, passing her by in pursuit of her
flying husband." \
The first Carriers sighted by the expedition must have,
been the survivors of the Chinlac massacre recorded in
our first chapter, as they were met at the confluence of the
Stuart and Nechaco Rivers,2 to the number of thirty men,
arrayed in robes of beaver, lynx, and marmot skins.
The 26th of July, 1806, was a rather windy day on what
1. Bancroft, " History of the North-West," pp. 108-9.
2. To the best of our knowledge all the authors, without a single exception,
confound the two rivers, though in reality they are very distinct streams. The
Stuart River drains Lake Stuart, in the north, while the Nechaco, which is a
most important river, issues from Lakes Emerald, Dawson and Morice, in
the west.
the Indians then called Lake Na'kal, the surface of which
was being ploughed into deep furrows. The soap-berries
were ripening, and most of 'Kwah's people were camped
at the mouth of Beaver Creek, to the south-west of the
present Fort St. James, when what appeared to them two
immense canoes were descried struggling against the
wind, around a point which separated them from the
outlet of the lake.
Immediately great alarm arises in the crowd of natives.
As such large canoes have never plied on Carrier waters,
there is hardly a doubt that they must contain Tceyen's
friends, the wonderful strangers from " the country beyond
the horizon" he had been told to expect back. Meanwhile, the strange crafts are heading for Beaver Creek,
and lo! a sound the like of which has never been heard
in this part of the world strikes the native ear. What
can that mean ?    Might not this be a war party, after all ?
" No," declares Tceyen, who, donning his red piece of
cloth as an apron, seizes a tiny spruce bark canoe lying
on the beach and fearlessly paddles away. On, on he
goes, tossed about by the great waves, until he meets the
strangers, who, recognizing him by his badge, bid him
come on board. His fellow-tribesmen, now seeing in the
distance his own little canoe floating tenantless, take
" They have already killed him," they exclaim. " Ready,
ye warriors ; away with the women !"
At this cry, which flies from mouth to mouth, the men
seize their bows and arrows, and the women and children
seek shelter in the woods. But the curious crafts, which,
on coming nearer, prove to be large birch-bark canoes,
are now within hearing distance, and Tceyen cries out to the
men on shore to be of good cheer and have no fear, as the
strangers are animated by the most friendly dispositions,
The fugitives are hastily recalled, and Simon Fraser, with
John Stuart and his other companions, put ashore in the
presence of a crowd of wondering Carriers.
Lake Stuart was discovered, and a new province was
added to the geographical conquests of the North-West
Company. To accomplish this it had taken Fraser's party
only seven days less than Mackenzie had required to reach
the seacoast from his winter quarters.I
On landing, Fraser's men, to impress the natives with a
proper idea of their wonderful resources, fired a volley with
their guns, whereupon the whole crowd of Carriers fell
prostrate to the ground. To allay their fears and make
friends, tobacco was offered them, which, on being tasted,
was found too bitter, and thrown away. Then, to show its
use, the crew lighted their pipes, and, at the sight of the
smoke issuing from their mouths, the people began to
whisper that they must come from the land of the ghosts,
since they were still full of the fire wherewith they had
been cremated. Pieces of soap were given to the women,
who, taking them to be cakes of fat, set upon crunching
them, thereby causing foam and bubbles in the mouth,
which puzzled both actors and bystanders.
All these phenomena, however, were soon explained
away, leaving no suspicion in the native mind, but a most
pronounced admiration for the foreigners and their wares.
That this last impression was not quite reciprocal is
gathered from one of Fraser's letters, wherein he describes
his new acquaintances.
I They are," he writes, " a large, indolent, thievish set of
vagabonds, of a mild disposition. They are amazing fond
of goods, which circumstance might lead to imagine that
i. It should be borne in mind that, besides starting from the east instead
of the west side of the Rockies, Fraser had to ascend two important rivers
which Mackenzie did not even see.
they would work well to get what they seem to be so fond
of; but then, they are independent of us, as they get their
necessaries from their neighbors, who trade with the natives
of the seacoast"1
Trading and bartering were started on the spot. The
natives receiving illusory substitutes for their fur coats and
robes, and being instructed thenceforth to exert themselves
and procure as many as possible of the skins enumerated
to them.
The first introduction over, the young founder set his
men to work at clearing the ground for a new fort at the
exact spot McDougall had marked out, just one mile to
the north-west of the outlet of the large sheet of water
which, called at first Sturgeon Lake, was finally christened
Stuart Lake, as a compliment to Fraser's chief companion.
The latitude of the new place was 540 26' 52", by longitude about 124° 30'. It stood on a bay with shallow
waters, not on a peninsula, as Bancroft says.2 To the
beauty of its surroundings even fault-finding John McLean
was to bear testimony when, forty-three years later, he
wrote the following description, which is about accurate,
though by no means adequate:
" Fort St. James, the depot of New Caledonia district,
stands near the outlet of Stuart Lake, and commands a
splendid view of the surrounding country. The lake is
about fifty miles in length, and from three to four miles in
breadth, stretching away to the north and north-east for
about twenty miles. The view from the fort embraces
nearly the whole of this section of it, which is studded
with beautiful islands. The western shore is low, and
indented by a number of small bays formed by wooded
1. Quoted by Bancroft, " History of the North-West," Vol. II., p. 109.
2. Ibid, ibid.
points projecting into the lake, the background rising
abruptly into a ridge of hills of varied height and magnitude. On the east the view is limited to a range of two
or three miles by the intervention of a high promontory,
from which the eye glances to the snowy summits of the
Rocky Mountains in the distant background. I do not
know that I have seen anything to compare with this
charming prospect in any other part of the country; its
beauties struck me even at this season of the year, when
nature, having partly assumed her hybernal dress, everything appeared to so much greater disadvantage."1
McLean hardly does justice to the beautiful mountains
which rise on either side of Lake Stuart, one of which
towers 2,600 feet above the surface of the water, while on
the opposite shore another, though less prominent, is still
higher. These reminded Fraser of the absent fatherland
so often vaunted by his mother, and led him to call the
whole country New Caledonia.2   Then, again, the lake is
1. " Notes of a Twenty-five Years' Service in the Hudson's Bay Territory,"
London, 1849, Vol. I., p. 241-42.
2. While we may overlook the many geographical errors committed in
describing Fraser's progress by the few authors (Bancroft, Masson, Bryce) who
have referred to it, we must be allowed to question the propriety of Mr.
Masson's express statement, to the effect that Fraser established a fort he
named New Caledonia about fifty miles from the mouth of the Stuart River.
Dr. Bryce reiterates that assertion, though in vaguer terms, on page 142 of his
own book, " The Remarkable History of the Hudson's Bay Company."
Now, there has never been a vestige of such an establishment, and none of the
oldest aborigines has ever heard of it. Fraser's limited personnel did not
warrant three foundations without receiving reinforcements. Stuart, the very
man who is credited with having been placed in charge of that mythical post,
was in reality sent to see and report on the region of Lake Fraser. Fraser
himself writes to his partners in August, 1806: "We have established the
post [not the posts] beyond the mountains, and will establish another in the
most conventional (sic) place we can find before the fall," meaning Fort
Fraser. It is probable, however, that both Masson and Bryce refer only to
that place which was to be known later as Fort St. James.    In that case, both
wider than our author thinks.    By actual measurement, it
is in places over six miles broad.
Thus was the second fort established west of the
It was intended as a rendezvous for the natives of the
whole lake, the exact number of whom could hardly be
realized in the haste of the first visit. Both McDougall
and Fraser, seeing only one fraction of the entire population, do not seem to have been much impressed by its
importance; but it is safe to say that they scarcely met
one-quarter of the Indians claiming the lake or its immediate vicinity as their habitat. Yet the former states that
he saw some fifty natives hovering about the lower end of
the lake. If we take these to be hunters and heads of
families, as McDougall no doubt meant it, and if we give
four children to each—a very fair average for the Carriers
—the numbers of that band must have been something
like three hundred souls.
But, fourteen miles farther north, at the mouth of the
Pinche River, on the same body of water, there was, and
still remains, a village of Carriers who were somewhat less
numerous, though more sedentary. Again, a very large
settlement stood at the mouth of the Thach6 River, the
principal affluent of the lake, just opposite the site of the
of them are wrong, the former as to distances (Fort St. James being fully ninety
miles from the mouth of Stuart River), and the latter as to the site of the place
(said fort being not on Stuart River, but on Stuart Lake). On the other hand,
Masson can hardly be accurate in writing that Fraser " passed the summer "
at the lake called after him, since he had not yet so much as seen it on the
3rd of September.
1. To show how history is written in some quarters, here is a sentence
from Macfie's "Vancouver Island and British Columbia," p. 203 : " In 1806,
the first fur-trading post ever established in British Columbia was erected a
short distance from the great bend of Fraser River by the officer of the
Hudson's Bay Company after whom that stream was named." The italics are
ours, and represent as many egregious blunders.
present village, and another powerful clan, that of the
Beavers (which should not be confounded with the tribe of
the Beaver Indians east of the Rockies), had their homes
on the same stream, at a place called Grand Rapid, perhaps
eighteen miles above. Finally, on a minor tributary, flowing into the northern end of the lake now called the
Portage, were a few bands of Carriers, mostly fishermen,
living on the fine whitefish abounding in that quarter. All
told, one thousand souls is a conservative estimate for the
Stuart Lake population at that early period.
Founding and Exploring.
BY this time Fraser must have had enough of La
Malice, than whom few people seem to have been
more aptly named. So, to get rid of him and further
the interests of his own corporation, he sent him, as the
work on the new fort was getting well under way, with
letters, first to McDougall at Fort McLeod, and then
further east to the partners he had left at the Rocky Mountain House, whence he directed him to take to Fort Chip-
pewayan canoes loaded with the equipments of the new
posts up to McLeod's Lake.
On the other hand, August was now drawing to a close,
and as salmon was extraordinarily slow in making its
appearance, the limited supplies he had brought from the
east were soon exhausted. Berries, with a few small fish
and an occasional fowl, became the only means of subsistence left the fort-builders. At the same time, McDougall,
who, from the better equipment of his own establishment,
was supposed to be in a position to help them, was begging the starving Fraser for some ammunition and a
hunter to keep him alive.
Therefore, to disperse his forces and thereby render
their lives less precarious, as well as with a view of keeping his promise to establish another fort before the fall,
the young  commander sent John Stuart with two men
67 It   "
over land to the south, where, about forty miles from his
present quarters,1 he had been told was another lake with
a numerous native population. Stuart's mission was to
spy out the land and report to his chief at Chinlac, the
meeting-point of the Stuart and Nechaco Rivers.
John Stuart left on the 28th of August, and Fraser, with
the remaining men, now in really straitened circumstances,
were putting the last touches to what, in the course of
time, was to become the " formidable establishment of Fort
St. James."
To take away as many mouths as possible, with a hope
of feeding them more easily with the fruits of the chase or
other adventitious resources of travel, and, at the same
time, to keep his own appointment with his clerk, the
young bourgeois started with three men on the 3rd of
September, leaving a certain Blais temporarily in charge
of the new post.
But when chief and subordinate met again at Chinlac,
so encouraging was Stuart's report on the place he had
just visited, that Fraser resolved to repair thither in person, and, in company with his friend, who had to turn
back, he poled up the Nechaco to the short tributary issuing from the lake, which, to return the compliment his
superior had paid him, Stuart had already called Fraser
There the combined party erected a fort on a large bay
near its outlet. Salmon then came up with a vengeance.
Meal after meal, and day after day, it formed the piece de
resistance on all the tables, so that people who had pined
1. Bancroft (" History of British Columbia," p. 571) calls it 25 miles, and
adds : " Sixty miles south-easterly was Fort George, 80 miles north-easterly was
Fort McLeod, and 100 miles north-westerly was Fort Babine."   Now, by the '
original trail, Fraser Lake was over 45 miles from Stuart Lake; Fort George
is at least 150 miles, and old Fort Babine was 140 miles distant.
for its arrival were now reduced to the necessity of complaining of its frequency in their menu.
Fraser Lake is a quiet little sheet of water about thirteen miles long by scarcely three at its greatest breadth.
Then, as now, both ends were the sites of a native village,
and in the course of time Fort Fraser was to become the
resort of numerous Indians. Close by what is now called
Stony Creek there was the important settlement of
Thachek, to which we have already referred more than
once, and another village six miles off, on what is now
Gordon Lake. Hehn Lake, the source of the Mud River,
had another flourishing settlement; while on St. Mary's
Lake, in the south, were two or three lesser villages.
Finally, on French Lake, in the west, and one of its tributaries, Peter's Lake, were colonies of Carriers, whose settlements were but a portion of those which dotted the forest
to the source of the Blackwater and the seats of the
Chilcotins in the south. So many localities which were to
become dependent on the new fort for their supplies could
not but have rendered it extremely valuable to its founders.
To while away the weary hours of building inspection,
Fraser set about exploring the surrounding country. In
the course of his peregrinations he found, at Fond du Lac,
or the western village, " some spoons and a metal pot,"
which attested previous intercourse with the Coast Indians.
In this connection a little incident, quite insignificant
in itself, happened, which shows that he knew how to win
the sympathy of the natives by conforming to their whims
even in small matters. A chief had died and been cremated, and a memorial post was being erected, which contained, as usual, the few charred bones picked up from the
funeral pyre. Thereon Fraser, after a most solemn cere-
monv. engraved his name, to the immense satisfaction of
the warriors assembled.
The building operations over, he left a man in charge
with a few servants, and returned with the others to his
new home at Stuart Lake, where he passed the winter.
In the fall of 1806 he sent Stuart with the goods La
Malice was to have brought by the canoes from Athabaska, only to ascertain that no canoes had come and,
therefore, no goods or provisions were available. That
was sad news indeed, yet the traders made themselves
as comfortable as possible, and, if we are to credit Bancroft, Fraser and McDougall, even took to themselves
temporary wives from among the natives in their respective vicinity.
Thus closed the second year of the incipient settlements
within New Caledonia. Fraser was at Stuart Lake,
McDougall at McLeod's Lake, and Blais at Fraser Lake.
As to Stuart, he spent his first winter west of the Rockies
with his immediate superior.
The main question was now that of outfitting and supplies. Fraser's own experience had shown him the extreme difficulty of the water route." It was his original
intention " to get the goods taken across land "* to the new
posts. But the failure of La Malice to bring to its destination the much wanted outfit seems to have momentarily
dissuaded him from following the leanings of his own
judgment in the matter. So we see him, in the early
spring of 1807, dispatching a canoe filled with such pelts
as he had collected to ask for a new equipment and some
more men. His request was favorably received, and in
the autumn of that year two canoes, loaded with merchandise, were sent him under the leadership of Messrs. Jules
Maurice Quesnel and Hugh Faries.
Those gentlemen were also the bearers of important
instructions from headquarters.    It was rumored that the
1. MS. Letters, No. 8.
Americans, under Captains Lewis and Clarke, had reached
from the south the mouth of the Columbia River, and were
rapidly annexing the country in virtue of the right of discovery. On the other hand, it was but too evident that
the Parsnip and Bad River route was hardly practicable to
supply the new forts with their annual outfits. Much too
long and difficult, it was dangerous to the crews, and
especially to the goods, which could not reasonably be expected to reach their destination safely. The overland
route, if shorter, was much too expensive, and the native
packers hardly reliable as yet. Therefore, to forestall, if
possible, the Americans in their adventures around the
mouth of the Columbia, and eventually find a cheap route
for the yearly brigade of the Canadian trading concern,
Fraser was asked to undertake, at his earliest convenience,
the careful and complete exploration by water of the large
stream which everybody took to be the Columbia.
A pretty difficult task, sure enough; one which would
probably not have been set before anybody had its full
extent been realized. But Fraser was a man of courage,
as even his detractors are bound to admit; he was not the
one to shirk a duty.
With the new personnel brought him by the canoes
from the east, the young superintendent of the new domain
was enabled, in the fall of 1807, to erect a new post, and
thereby establish the fourth link in the chain of forts
wherewith he intended to bind the country to the interests
of his employers. This time, the junction of the Nechaco
with the " Great River " he was to explore was the chosen
site. The native population thus accommodated was not
to be so numerous as that doing business with the other
posts established by Fraser ; but its territory was one exceedingly rich in furs, and then the new place might prove
to be nothing but a stepping-stone towards the foundation
of another fort still farther south. Hugh Faries was the
first man in charge of the new post, which received the
name of Fort George, in honor of the then reigning
Considerable discrepancy occurs among the several
authors as to the date when Fraser set out on the expedition upon which his fame was to rest. Masson and Bryce
say that the start was effected on the 22nd of May, 1808.
The former is very obscure concerning the identity of the
place whence he left, which he says was 1 the mouth of the
little river he names Fraser, probably the one which bears
to-day the name of Nechaco " (a fine little river, indeed !).
This would mean Fort George. Dr. Bryce is more explicit.
" On May 22nd a start was made," he writes, " from the
forks,"1 which is but another name for Fort George. But
in his " History of British Columbia," Begg says that Fraser
left Fort George on the 26th of May.
Now, we venture to assert that none of those historians
is correct, either as to the date or as to the locality.
Though Fraser's Journal, such as published by Mr. Masson,
dates his departure on May 22nd, and though it is evident
from the context that he commenced his diary at Fort
George, his next date is " Sunday, 29th," after which all
the other dates follow consecutively, and without any hint
at a mistake in writing 29th instead of 23rd. On the
other hand, it is perfectly certain that between Fraser's
22nd and 29th day of May only a short day's distance was
covered, and there was no stop over anywhere. Finally,
local tradition is positive that he started from Stuart
Lake, his headquarters, not from Fort George, a new place,
hardly fit as yet for habitation, which lies at a distance of
three days' journey by water to the south-east.   It is, there-
1. "The Remarkable History of the Hudson's Bay Company," Toronto,
William Briggs, 1900, p. 143.
fore, but natural to infer that he left Stuart Lake on the
22nd of May, remained one day at Fort George, and finally
departed for the unknown on Saturday, May 28th.
If the mention of the 22nd as the first date in his journal
is not a typographical error due to Mr. Masson's printers,
it may be easily explained away by the supposition that,
leaving Stuart Lake on the 22nd, he entered that date,
intending to commence immediately his diary; but on
remembering that the route between Stuart Lake and
Fort George was now fairly well known, he had decided
to make his first entry coincide with his departure from
the latter place.
His lieutenants in this expedition were J. Stuart and J.
M. Quesnel. He had, moreover, with him nineteen
voyageurs, among whom was again the "Waccan" of his
first journey, together with two Indians, the whole party
in four canoes.
Starting on his "terrific voyage," as Dr. Bryce aptly calls
it, he had, fifteen miles from Fort George, a foretaste of
the difficulties that lay in store for him, when he nearly
wrecked one of his canoes " against a precipice which
forms the right bank of the river." This was his first
acquaintance with the Fort George canyon, and there he
was more lucky than the present writer, who once lost a
man at that identical spot. Next day he was shooting
the Cottonwood River canyon with his canoes, whose
cargoes had previously been portaged over to the lower end
of the rapid, where he cached three bales of dried salmon.
That day he did not go farther than the mouth of the river
which, on his return, he was to call Quesnel, after his
second lieutenant.
On Monday, the 30th, horse tracks told him of the approach of a new nation, that " very malignant race " upon
which Mackenzie had turned his back.    At Soda Creek
the excited Atnahs despatched couriers on horseback
to announce his approach to their friends in the south, and
in order to make his intentions perfectly clear, he is prevailed upon to wait there a full day.1 He employs part
of his enforced leisure in explaining the nature of the
wonderful engines of destruction he carries with him, the
like of which he tells the natives they will Soon be in a
position to procure from his people if they allow him to
pass. Thereupon he fires several shots, whose reports
astonish them so much that " they drop off their legs."2
After meeting large crowds of aborigines, who showed
themselves rather friendly, and who, he says, were inveterate smokers, his progress was barred, on the ist of
June, by a new and even greater difficulty than those so
far experienced. For two miles there was a strong rapid
with I high and steep banks, which contracted the channel
in many places to forty or fifty yards." No Wonder, then,
if " this immense body of water, passing through this
narrow space in a turbulent manner, forming numerous
gulfs and cascades, and making a tremendous noise, had an
awful and forbidding appearance."3 Finding the banks
too steep to allow of a portage, he launched, by way of
an  experiment, one  of   his canoes   lightly loaded  and
i. He mentions in this connection a Tahowtin woman married to a
Shushwap, whereupon his annotator remarks, by way of identification : "Nate-
ote-tain, Harmon. They lived on the Nateotin River. Cox . . . calls
them Talkotins." It is a hard task to keep serious in the face of these
explanations. By Nate-ote-iain Harmon means Nato-o'tin, people of Nato or
Babine, Babines; and the sub-tribe Eraser refers to are the Lhthao'ten (a contraction of Lhtha-ihoh-'len, people of the Lhthakhoh or Fraser River), whereby
are designated the southernmost Carriers. Cox's ' Talkotins is a rendering of
the same word by a person who has no ear for the native languages. A distance of at least four hundred miles separates the Lhtha-o'ten from the nearest
Nato o,tin.
2. Journal (in Masson's "Bourgeois du Nord-Ouest"), p. 160.
3. Ibid., p. 163.
manned by his five best men, only to see it drawn into an
eddy, to be " whirled about for a considerable time, seemingly in suspense whether to sink or swim, the men having
no power over her." Led from that dangerous vortex into
the main current, the little craft was now flying from one
danger to another, until the last cascade but one, where,
in spite of every effort, the whirlpools forced her against a
rock, upon which the men were fortunate enough to alight,
thus barely escaping with their lives.
" During this distressing scene, we were on the shore
looking on and anxiously concerned ; seeing our poor
fellows once more safe afforded us as much satisfaction as
to themselves, and we hastened to their assistance ; but
their situation rendered our approach perilous and difficult.
The bank was extremely high and steep, and we had to
plunge our daggers at intervals into the ground to check
our speed, as otherwise we were exposed to slide into the
river. We cut steps in the declivity, fastened a line to the
front of the canoe, with which some of the men ascended
in order to haul it up, while the others supported it upon
their arms. In this manner our situation was most
precarious ; our lives hung, as it were, upon a thread, as
the failure of the line or a false step of one of the men
might have hurled the whole of us into eternity. However,
we fortunately cleared the bank before dark."1
Fraser now finds further progress by water impossible.
Here are some of the inducements held out to him by
" As for the road by land, we could scarcely make our
way with even only our guns. I have been for a long
period among the Rocky Mountains, but have never seen
anything like this country. We had to pass where no
human being should venture ; yet in those places there is
i. Fraser's Journal, p. 164.
a regular footpath impressed, or rather indented, upon the
very rocks by frequent travelling. Besides this, steps which
are formed like a ladder by poles hanging to one another,
crossed at certain distances with twigs, the whole suspended
from the top, furnish a safe and convenient passage to the
natives down these precipices ; but we, who had not the
advantage of their education and experience, were often in
imminent danger when obliged to follow their example."
The natives now seriously advised him to abandon the
water route altogether, whereupon the " courageous and
conscientious man " asserts himself when he cannot help
writing : | Going to the sea by an indirect way was not the
object of the undertaking.   I therefore would not deviate."1
On that same day he furnishes us with the earliest written mention of the Chilcotins when he writes : " There is a
tribe of Carriers [he means Denes] among them, who inhabit
the banks of a large river which flows to the right; they
call themselves Chilk-odins."
On June 2nd he finds the river has risen eight feet in
twenty-four hours—something quite usual for that torrentlike stream—and tries to find horses for Mr. Stuart, who has
had enough of the river, and he wastes a good part of the
day in anxious suspense, as none of the Indians seem
really willing to part with their animals. His patience is,
however, rewarded on the morrow, when he gets four
horses, one of which on that same day tumbles, with his
load, over a precipice and is lost.
One of his men employed in portaging the baggage
almost met with a similar fate one day later. Having
missed the narrow path, he " got into a most intricate and
perilous situation. With a large package on his back, he
got so engaged among the rocks that he could neither
move forward nor backward, nor yet unload himself without
i. Fraser's Journal, p. 165
imminent danger. Seeing this poor fellow in such an
awkward and dangerous predicament, I crawled," writes
Fraser, " not without great risk, to his assistance, and saved
his life by causing his load to drop from his back over the
precipice into the river."1
he has hardly anything left to
of immense height, tremendous
breakers,  and  dashing  cascades,
by water,
mention but precipices
whirlpools,  treacherous
until he is obliged to confess that his is, indeed, a hopeless
undertaking. Yet he will not give it up. For four long
days more the painful task goes on; sometimes shooting
rapids where he is cautioned to leave his canoes altogether,
and then portaging goods and craft over high hills, precipices and ravines, with such terrible walking over the sharp
stones that " a pair of shoes [moccasins] does not last the
day, and the men have their feet full of thorns."
On the 9th of June " the channel contracts to about
forty yards, and is enclosed by two precipices of immense
height, which, bending over each other, make it narrower
above than below.. The water, which rolls down this
extraordinary passage in tumultuous waves and with great
velocity, had a frightful appearance. However, it being
absolutely impossible to carry the canoes by land, all hands,
without hesitation, embarked, as it were a corps perdu, upon
the mercy of this awful tide. . . . Thus skimming
along as fast as lightning, the crews, cool and determined,
followed each other in awful silence, and when we arrived
at the end we stood gazing at each other in silent congratulation at our narrow escape from total destruction."2
In the face of such a perilous undertaking, a modern
writer cannot refrain from exclaiming : " How difficult it is
to distinguish small from great actions !    Here was a man
1. Fraser's Journal, p. it
2. Ibid., pp. 170-71.
making fame for all time, and the idea of the greatness of
his work had not dawned upon him."1
Neither has it as yet dawned upon another who writes
of Fraser's achievement: " By this easy and pleasant service,
he secured for the perpetuation of his name the second
largest river in this region." The italics are ours, but as to
the statement itself, it can proceed from but one man,
Hubert Howe Bancroft !2
The natives here drew for the explorer a map of the river,
which they declared absolutely impracticable, dissuading
him at the same time from trying to follow it by land, as
there was no beach, no shore, but steep, high mountains and
precipices, which they would have to ascend and descend by
means of rope ladders. Nothing daunted by these warnings, Fraser continued with his canoe, only to find the rapids
getting worse and worse, " being a continual series of cascades intercepted with rocks and bounded by precipices."
On the ioth of June, finding further progress physically
impossible, he had to confess himself conquered by nature,
which confronted him with difficulties, increased a hundredfold by the high stage of the water. Therefore, on Sunday,
June I ith, leaving his canoes by the stream, he buried in the
ground such articles as could not be carried along, and
started on foot with his men, loaded with eighty-pound
packs, hoping for better luck in keeping at a distance from
the surging waters.
1. " History of the Hudson's Bay Company," by G. Bryce, p. 145.
2. "History of the North-West Coast," Vol. II., p. 119. The same
author ungenerously adverts to the fact that Mackenzie had seen part of the
Upper Fraser before that stream was explored and identified as quite distinct
from the Columbia, and indirectly contests the right of Fraser to name it.
The Mackenzie River is but the lower course of a long stream which is called
Finlay near its source, and then Peace, Athabaska, and Slave. Would anybody
pretend that no white man had seen and navigated any of these parts of the
same river before 1789? Should we then conclude that the Mackenzie is
It is not within the scope of this work to follow him
through the many hardships he had still to undergo at the
hands of nature and of men, especially as he is now within
sight of the Thompson River, and consequently on the
limits of New Caledonia. Yet, for the sake of any possible
antiquarian who may happen to read these lines, we cannot
omit to mention his reference to the Askettihs,1 a nation
I dressed in their coats of mail," which at first received him
with a volley of arrows. Their village, he writes, " is a
fortification of one hundred feet by twenty-four, surrounded
by palisades eighteen feet high, slanting inward, and lined
with a shorter row, which supports a shade, covered with
bark, constituting the dwellings."
As he gets nearer and nearer the tide-water he meets
with increasingly numerous European wares, among which
he mentions " a copper tea kettle and a gun of a large size,
which are probably of Russian manufacture,"2 and, farther
down, a sword of tremendous proportions made of sheet iron.
From Yale he takes to the water again, having in one place
to snatch a canoe by force from an Indian, who refuses all
sorts of payments, and who finally accompanies him,
trembling and sobbing at the thought of the terrible natives
they will meet at the mouth of the river. These effectively
prevent the party from reaching the salt water, and Fraser
has to turn back at the place where New Westminster now
But he has been on tide-water for some time, and by
actual observation he ascertains that the mouth of the
river he has explored is four degrees of latitude north of
the Columbia.
~His object was accomplished, and the world was soon to
learn that the Fraser was a totally different river from the
i.  Presumably the Lillooet Indians.
And now, having reached the goal of his ambition, he
could well retrace his steps. Yet at the hour of triumph
he narrowly escaped paying with his life the penalty of
his daring. Followed by a flotilla of canoes manned by
hostile Indians, as he returned to the village, where sheer
necessity had compelled him to take a canoe by force, j
he found the inhabitants of that locality so excited that
he feared the worst. His people wanted to take to flight
and return through the fastnesses of unknown mountains, where those who might escape the darts of their
pursuers were sure to find death by starvation. Yet such
was the ascendancy he had acquired over them that he
actually made them swear before God to stay together and
abide by his counsels.
The return journey was painful, though without remarkable incidents, and by the 6th of August he was back at
Fort George. Strange to say, while the descent of the
river had required forty days, the ascent of the same was
made within only thirty-three days.
After that " easy and pleasant service," Simon Fraser
proceeded east to report on his achievements, and on May
16th of the following year (1809), he was for one day the
guest at Fort Dunvegan, on the Peace River, of the very
man who was, shortly after, to continue in the west the
work he had so brilliantly commenced—we mean Daniel
Williams Harmon.
As a reward for his services Fraser was promoted, in
1811, to the charge of the whole Red River department,
which then extended as far west as the Liard River. Due
recognition of his merit was also offered him in the shape
of a knighthood, which, however, the insufficiency of his
means did not allow him to accept In 1816 he was
present at the unfortunate affair of the Seven Oaks, when
Governor Semple, of the Hudson's Bay Company, lost his
life in the conflict with the North-West Company people;
and when, shortly afterwards, Lord Selkirk took Fort
William in retaliation, Simon Fraser was one of the
partners arrested and sent to Montreal.
Having retired from the service about the time of the
coalition of the two companies (1821), he married the
daughter of Captain Allan McDonnell, of Matilda,
Ontario, and he died at St. Andrews, in the township of
Cornwall, on the 19th of April, 1862, aged eighty-six.
Simon Fraser was a Catholic—a circumstance which
goes some way to explain Bancroft's unwarranted antipathy—and, though not a model of perfection, he was
" ambitious, energetic, with considerable conscience, and
in the main holding to honest convictions." These very
encomiums have escaped Bancroft himself, who naturally
hastens to qualify them to the extent of practically -withdrawing them.1
Some have taken pleasure in a,lluding to Fraser's pretended illiteracy. He was no scholar, not any more than
Sir A. Mackenzie, or even John Stuart, who is credited
with having had a liberal education. The unpublished
lette.s of the trio lay no claim to elegance or even grammatical correctness. But in the case of Fraser, the reason
of his literary shortcomings almost redounds to his glory,
since it is no other than the straits his family was reduced
to by the death of its chief, Captain Fraser, in the
American prisons, where the service of his king had led
Simon Fraser, though an altogether self-made man,
became the founder of New Caledonia, the explorer of the
main fluvial artery of British Columbia, and one of the
first residents of that province. Less brilliant services
would entitle him to the respect of every Canadian.
1. " History of the North-West Coast," Vol. II., p. 89.
Stuart and Harmon at Stuart Lake.
THOUGH Simon Fraser had passed three full years
within New Caledonia, establishing forts and
directing their personnel, he was still supposed to
be the head of the Rocky Mountain House. To keep
him any longer in the wilderness of the extreme west
would have been paramount to a non-recognition of his
achievements. Therefore, on his promotion, his first clerk.
John Stuart, was named his successor in the command of
the new district. At the same time, in August, 1809,
another clerk, A. R. McLeod, with a number of working-
men, were sent to his aid.
The new commander hardly relished the title which
bound him to a country where he knew by experience that
life was so difficult. Instead of stationing himself at the
fort on Stuart Lake, which was the most central of all
the new establishments, he preferred to spend most of his
time at Fort McLeod, which was then more within reach
of those commodities which seem indispensable to civilized
life. Thence he would leave with the returns of his district,
which he would personally take to Rainy Lake or Fort
Chippewayan, and return with the equipments destined to
his own posts.
Then, as much later on, the staple food of all the
servants was dried salmon, and a shortness in the annual
run of that fish would mean vastly impoverished circumstances for the men and increased anxiety for the mind of
the chief officer. Now, it happened that the salmon season
of 1810 was a failure, and when Stuart crossed over to
headquarters, at Fort Chippewayan, he must have availed
himself of that circumstance to inveigh against the difficulties
of his charge. The result was a letter signed by three
partners, requesting D. W. Harmon, then at Fort Dun-
vegan, to go and superintend the affairs of new Caledonia,
unless he preferred to accompany Mr. Stuart as second in
Harmon was then thirty-two years of age, having been
born in 1778, in the State of Vermont, whence, on the 28th
of April, 1800, he had set out for Montreal and joined the
ranks of the Nor'westers. He passed four years at Swan
River, where he took to wife, after the fashion of the
traders of that time, a French Canadian girl of fourteen)
who, after she had presented him with fourteen children,
is said to have remained a handsome woman, " as straight
as an arrow." Soon thereafter he was sent to Peace River,
where Stuart found him stationed.
In pursuance of his double-edged orders, Harmon, who
was a most conscientious man, elected to go and help
Stuart rather than supersede him in his charge.1     There-
1. Stuart's connection with the management of New Caledonia affairs was
apparently so slight, and his title so nominal, that we have long hesitated
whether Harmon was not the dejure as well as de facto ruler of the same.
Two considerations strongly militate against this supposition. First, as late as
October 29th, 1814, Harmon writes himself (Journal, p. 206, New York reprint) : " I have received a letter from Mr. John Stuart, who has arrived at
McLeod Lake, desiring me to go and superintend the affairs of Fraser's Lake,
and to send Mr. La Rogue, with several of the people who are there, to this
place [Stuart Lake]," whereupon he immediately declares, as if he believed
himself under the obligation to obey, that he " shall depart" on the morrow, a
clear proof that he regarded Stuart as his superior. In the second place, by
his own implicit admission, Harmon was as yet but a clerk in the North-West
fore, on the 7th of October, 1810, he left Dunvegan with
his young family, together with Stuart, who was to remain
nominally the superintendent of the district, and three
days later he was at Fort St. John, where his men were at
once set to the task of preparing provisions to make up, at
least partially, for the deficiency of salmon in New
By the 1st of November the whole party had reached
Fort McLeod, where Harmon first saw the Sekanais, whose
destitute condition appealed to his kind heart. There
Stuart chose to stay for the winter, with James McDougall
as clerk, and, on the 3rd of November, Harmon, accompanied by thirteen servants, left for Stuart Lake, where
he arrived in the afternoon of the seventh.
Harmon has left us a most valuable journal of the doings
and happenings during his stay in New Caledonia, which
proves him to have been as truthful a man as he was keen
an observer. From it we glean that the new place impressed
him favorably, though of the natives themselves he seems
to have acquired but a poor idea. He is, we believe, the
first author to dub the Carriers " Tacullies," a term he
translates " people who go on the water." § Unfortunately
the natives know of no such name in their language,
though for some time they have been calling themselves,
and all American aborigines, Takhelhne, a word the meaning of which cannot be ascertained and which is undoubtedly
"of extraneous origin.
Harmon had hardly made himself at home in his new
post when he was called upon to witness a scene which
Company's service as late as 1818, while Stuart was evidently his senior and
most probably a partner at that time.    In common with those who had held
that rank in the Canadian Company, he was made a Chief Factor when that
corporation disappeared to make way for the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821.
1. A rather fanciful translation, we must say.    Thakhelhne would almost
have that meaning. „
told him of the difference between the East and the West.
This was the cremation of a woman, whose corpse was
burnt amidst " a terrible savage noise, howling, and crying
[on the part of her near relatives] and a kind of singing
[by people of a different clan]."
On the 1st of January, 1811, he was at Fraser Lake, where
he had sent men to rebuild the fort previously burnt
through the negligence of a native girl they were bringing up. That day furnishes him with occasion for an
entry which, to us, is of a melancholy interest, in view of
the demoralizing influence of the evil whose introduction
among the natives it chronicles. We copy from his
" This being the first day of another year, our people
have passed it, according to the custom of the Canadians,
in drinking and fighting. Some of the principal Indians of
this place desired us to allow them to remain at the fort
that they might see our people drink. As soon as they
began to be a little intoxicated and to quarrel among themselves, the natives began to be apprehensive that something
unpleasant might befall them also. They therefore hid
themselves under beds and elsewhere, saying that they
thought the white people had run mad, for they appeared
not to know what they were about. ... It was the
first time that they had ever seen a person intoxicated."1
On June 16th of the same year he furnishes us with the
first mention of the Babine Indians, one of whom had
come to the fort with his son and a number of Carriers in
six wooden canoes, a circumstance rather remarkable for
that early period. Questioned as to their country, they
told him of the Skeena River, which " a number of white
people ascend in barges every autumn to trade with the
Indians who reside along its shores."    These traders Har-
I. Harmon's Journal, pp. 196-97.
mon imagines to be Americans. They were simply
Indians from the seacoast.
And now, as usual, famine stares him in the face. On
August 2nd, five dried salmon was all that remained in
store for his whole establishment. He had therefore to send
up to Pinche all his personnel—men, women and children—
to gather berries as a means of prolonging their lives until
the arrival of the salmon would relieve their distress. On
the 23rd of September of the same year he relates an incident which might have had the most serious consequences
for the safety of his growing establishment, an incident
which links the past or pre-European times with the new
period, when the whites had become the makers of history.
Our readers have not forgotten 'Kwah, the warrior, the
gambler and the slayer of his insulter. He was now a man
enjoying the greatest consideration amongst his fellow-
Carriers, and his name had become great in adjoining villages. He had succeeded a dead warrior as A'ke'tces,
thereby attaining the rank of a " nobleman," and he was
in most prosperous circumstances. Indeed, he was soon
to rejoice in the possession of four wives, whom he would
station, each with her offspring, at the four corners of his
lodge. Yet it took two or three years for the newcomers
to notice him and realize his true position in the tribe.
Tceyen, as we have seen, was the first appointed chief in
our sense of the word. Then McDougall's mistake being
seen, he was deposed, to be replaced by another man, who,
in turn, had to yield his rank to 'Kwah.
The latter was still comparatively fresh in the enjoyment of his high estate when Harmon came from the east,
and it would seem as if the arrogance proper to parvenus
had then hetn hovering about the mind of the new chief.
To show his power and influence over the whites, he tried
to force the new clerk to advance credit to a  worthless
(One of 'Kwah's daughter?.)  STUART AND HARMON AT STUART LAKE
fellow, a pretension which the trader resented considerably.
Words followed words, when 'Kwah asked the obdurate
" Have you ever been to war ? "
" No," replied his interlocutor, who added that he had no
wish to take the life of a fellow-creature.
" Well, I have been to war, and I have killed a number
of my enemies," said the savage, who then asked for a
piece of cloth for his own use.
Complying with his request, Harmon saw kind after
kind of stuff sullenly refused until, unable to restrain himself any longer, he seized a square yard-stick, wherewith he
administered him a severe wound on the head. 'Kwah then
called out to his companions to take away Harmon, who
was then mercilessly pelting him, only to see his orders
disregarded by the Indians out of fear of the whites, who
were supposed to be hidden within the building.
Some time afterwards the Chief made a feast, to which
he invited Harmon. This gentleman, fearing some treachery, and yet unwilling to betray his true sentiments in the
face of the Indians, accepted the-invitation.^ Arming himself with two pistols, in addition to the sword he constantly carried as a North-West Company officer,1 he went
to 'Kwah's lodge with his interpreter, who was also similarly
armed. There he met "nearly an hundred Indians
assembled." In the course of the feast, the Chief made a
speech, to the effect that had he been similarly treated by
anybody else than the white man, he would have either lost
his own life or taken that of the person attacking him.
But now, he said, he considered himself as Harmon's wife,
who had used him in exactly the same way that he himself
I. Those gentlemen also wore a red coat with large brass buttons, knee-
breeches and a three-cornered hat with panache. Cf. " Traditions indiennes
du Canada Nord-Ouest," by E. Petitot, Alencon, 1887, p. 329.
used his own wives when they misbehaved. He ended by
thanking him for what he had done him, since it had given
him sense.1
Whereupon Harmon moralizes : " It will be seen by this
account that the white people have a great ascendency
over the Indians, for I believe that this chief is not
destitute of bravery."2
Quite so, we will add ; but his own usually righteous
course and lack of haughtiness in dealing with the natives
was a good deal responsible for the fortunate turn' of
affairs. Harmon might also bless his star that, instead of
a cranky, vindictive individual, such as abound in all the
tribes, he had met a sensible man, who was not above confessing a wrong. Otherwise the issue of the conflict would
certainly not have been to his advantage.
On New Year's Day, 1812, Harmon initiates us to the
great times he had with his people and the Indians. On
the previous year the latter had simply assisted as puzzled
and somewhat terrified spectators at the baneful effects
of "fire-water" on Canadians ; but even pious Harmon could
be progressive. His friend McDougall had come to pass
the holidays at Stuart Lake. After dinner several of the
Carrier and Sekanais headmen were invited to do away
with the remnants on the tables and " drink a flagon or
two of spirits." Fateful flagon, which once tasted was to
swell into gallons and kegs, how many hundreds—if not
thousands—of thy victims have been prematurely laid into
the grave!
1. After which Harmon records a naive remark of the dusky Chief, which
shows that he was not without realizing that the incident might have unpleasant
consequences : " Quas then told the Indians," writes the chronicler, " that if
he ever heard of any of them laughing at him for the beating which he had
received, he would make them repent of their mirth." "Journal," p. 177
(New York reprint, 1903).
2. Ibid., ibid.
On the 13th of the same month he assisted at the incineration of a man who had been married to two women.
His account of the event is precious, and corroborates in
every way what the present author has written on the same
subject after modern informants.
" The corpse was placed on a pile of dry wood," he
writes, " with the face upwards, which was painted and
bare. The body was covered with a robe made of beaver-
skins, and shoes were on the feet. . . . His gun and
powder horn, together with every trinket which he had
possessed, were laid by his side."1
After the fire had been lighted, his wives, one of whom
stood at the head and the other at the feet of the corpse,
kept patting it,2 while burning, with both hands alternately, a ceremony which was interrupted by turns of fainting arising from the intensity of the heat. "If they did
not soon recover from these turns and commence the operation of striking the corpse," continues the chronicler,
" the men would seize them by the little remaining hair 3
on their heads and push them into the flames in order to
compel them to do it. This violence was especially used
toward one of the wives of the deceased, who had frequently
run away from him while he was living."
Will the reader believe that over twenty years elapsed
before the whites among the naturally progressive Carriers
had the courage to interfere and become responsible for
the first burial of an Indian ? Some there are, no doubt,
who, in view of the inhuman cruelties perpetrated on the
widows at the cremation of corpses, would think that an
earlier intervention would have been but the accomplishment of civilization's duty towards an inferior race.
1. Harmon's Journal, p. 216 (original edition).
2. Harmon, not knowing the reason of that act, says " striking.:
3. The rest had been burnt in the course of the " ceremony."
89 !
Mr. McDougall was still at Stuart Lake. As that
gentleman seemed to have a special knack of procuring
peaceful introductions to the savage races—a specialty
probably based on his knowledge of the Sekanais dialect
Harmon profited by his presence to go and visit that tribe
of Babines of which he had already seen two representatives.
Starting on the 30th of January, 1812, accompanied by
twelve servants as a bodyguard and two Carriers as middlemen and interpreters, the two friends, after seven days'
travel over frozen lakes, met Indians who had never seen a
white man. On reaching their first village, the inhabitants
manifested great surprise and alarm at the sight of the
pale-faced strangers.    Harmon writes in this connection :
" As their village stands on a rise of ground, near to a
large lake, they saw us coming when we were at a considerable distance from them; and the men, women, and children came to meet us, all of whom were armed, some with
bows and arrows, and others with axes and clubs. They
offered no offence ; but, by many savage gestures, they
manifested a determination to defend themselves in case
they were attacked.    .    .    .
" The day following we proceeded on our route, and
during our progress we saw four more of their villages.
. . . They showed us guns, cloth, axes, blankets, iron
pots, etc., which they obtained from their neighbors, the
Atenas, who purchase them directly of the white people."1
Then the chronicler records the fact that the population
of the villages they visited formed an aggregate of about
2,000 souls. How melancholy, after this statement, to think
that those numbers, since the advent of the whites, should
have dwindled to scarcely 250!
To the spring of 1812 must be referred the very first
long-distance transmission of a letter within the territory of
1. Harmon's Journal, pp. 218-19 (original edition).
British Columbia and beyond it. On the 6th of April six
couriers arrived from Fraser Lake, bringing a letter
addressed to the manager of the North-West Company at
Stuart Lake by David Thompson, the explorer of the
river that bears his name. The letter was dated Ilk-kay-
ope Falls, Columbia River, August 28th, 1811. It had
taken exactly eight months and eight days to reach its
destination, and had been carried by Indians of all the
various intervening tribes, a wonderful example of honesty
and of respect for written paper.
In the meantime the superintendent of the whole district,
John Stuart, though residing mostly at McLeod's Lake,
was paying occasional visits to Stuart Lake and even to
Fraser Lake. He seems to have been one of those well-
meaning men who, unconscious of their own idiosyncrasies,
make life a burden to others. We have no doubt that
much of the blame which has been laid at the doors of his
former superior, Simon Fraser, might with justice be
addressed to him. Fraser has been accused of being naturally quarrelsome, and yet Stuart managed to pass three
years and make two long and trying expeditions in his
company; while, after the explorer had been separated
from him, Stuart appears as a man who has lost his bearings, trying life with the one only to wish for another.
Some years after the time of which we write he had just
been appointed to a good post, on the east side of the mountains, when he was already speaking of leaving on the
ensuing spring, which fickleness prompts a correspondent
to write: " Such a short stay was hardly worth his removal
from the Bas de la Riviere. Upon the whole, he is a good
man; but a person would require to be possessed of the
patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon to agree with
him on all subjects."1
1. John M. McLeod, of Fort Simpson, to John McLeod, sen. MS.
Poor McDougall could not boast such exalted accomplishments. As, barring the long absences caused by
voyages to the east and lesser trips to the west, they had
already lived two years together, a change was deemed in
order. So Stuart came west to pass the winter with his
trusted friend, Harmon, who had now, on the bank of Lake
Stuart, a flourishing establishment employing twenty-one
laboring men, one interpreter, and five women, besides
children. The North-West Company was certainly not
niggardly in its treatment of its officers and clerks.
But Stuart's company seems to have been portentous of
evil, inasmuch as both himself and Harmon with their interpreter were almost massacred by the Indians of Fraser
Lake, whither they had gone to buy furs and salmon.
Whatever may be said of the cause of the affray, about
which Harmon is not clear, " eighty or ninety of the village
armed themselves, some with guns and the others with axes
and clubs, for the purpose of attacking " the visitors. By
mild measures, however,' they succeeded in appeasing their
In the latter part of that winter Harmon took a trip to
his old home, Fort Dunvegan, returning to New Caledonia
in time to see Stuart depart, in April, for the far south in
quest of a water communication to replace the overland
route through Fort McLeod, which was so slow, so expensive and admitted the introduction of so limited supplies.
During his absence the management of the affairs of the-
whole district fell, as a matter of course, on Harmon's
Had the poor man been at the same time entrusted with
the task of repressing crime and dealing out justice within
the limits of New Caledonia, his hands would have been
more than full. In the space of a single week he has to
record two shocking murders, occurring  one among the
Sekanais and the other nearer home, among the Carriers
who traded at his own fort. In spite of its sickening details,
We think a reproduction of that part of his Journal which
bears on the double tragedy will help us to form a correct
idea of the manners and morals prevailing among the
Indians of New Caledonia in pre-Christian times :
" Saturday, June 12th, 1813.—A Sicauny has just arrived,
who states that a little this side of McLeod's Lake, where
he was encamped with his family, an Indian of the same
tribe rushed out of the woods and fired upon them and killed
his wife. Her corpse was immediately burned on the spot.
. . . All the savages who have had a near relation
killed are never quiet until they have revenged the death
either by killing the murderer or some person nearly related
to him. This spirit of revenge has occasioned the death of
the old woman above mentioned, and she undoubtedly
deserved to die ; for, the last summer, she persuaded her
husband to go and kill the cousin of her murderer, and that
merely because her own son had been drowned.
"Sunday, 20th.—Yesterday an Indian of this village killed
another who was on a visit from the other end of this lake,
just as he was entering his canoe to return. The former
approached the latter and gave him five stabs with a lance,
and. ripped open his bowels in such a shocking manner that
his entrails immediately fell upon the ground and he, of
course, immediately expired. The murderer made his
escape, and the chief of the village wrapped the corpse in
a moose-skin and sent it to his relations. Notwithstanding
this conciliatory act, the people of this place are apprehensive that the relatives of the person murdered will make
war upon them, and they will therefore set out to-morrow
to go to a considerable distance down this river, where
they will pass a greater part of the summer until harmony is
restored between the two villages.
93 v\
v I This murderer has a wife who is known to be a worthless woman, with whom he supposed the person murdered
had had improper intercourse, and it was to avenge this
that the act was committed. All the Carriers are extremely
jealous of their wives, while to their unmarried daughters
they cheerfully allow every liberty."1
Meanwhile Stuart was on the eve of returning from his
fruitless search after the much-wanted new route. He
directed Harmon to Fraser Lake to make room for himself,
as he intended to pass most of 1815 at Stuart Lake.
Harmon was thereby relegated to the minor post of Fraser
Lake, whence he occasionally sallied out, going once as far
as Blackwater in quest of pelts.
He had hardly been edified by the Indians of Stuart
Lake. But unchristianized savages of the same race are
pretty much the same everywhere. He perceived this
when, on the 18th of June, 1815, his new place received a
visit from a band of eight Babines, who, on their arrival,
began to gamble, as was usual at that time. The strangers
being constantly winners, bad feeling was engendered,
which developed into open disputes. The restoration of
the property won only prevented a serious conflict; but a
coolness between the two factions' was visible, which
culminated in one of the Babines being shot just as he
embarked in his canoe. Which seeing, his fellow tribesmen fastened their departure, but not without vowing
vengeance on the murderer of their friend.
In the spring of 1816 Harmon, having heard of the
serious illness of two of his brothers, began to feel homesick, and would fain have severed his connection with the
North-West Company had he not been strongly advised
to the contrary by George McDougall, a younger brother
of James, the pioneer trader of Fort McLeod.    Perhaps
1. Harmon's Journal, pp. 230-31 (original edition).
to dissipate by travelling those yearnings after the home
circle, he left shortly after (May 8th) for Fort Chippewayan
on Lake Athabaska, returning on the ist of September of
the same year. The ensuing winter he took a jaunt of
twenty-three days on the Fraser River, where he barely
escaped being massacred with his companions.
An Iroquois with his wife and two children were less
lucky, since about the same time they were killed, while
asleep, by two Carriers of Stuart Lake on whose beaver
preserves they were encroaching heedless of protest or
remonstrance. The reader will, no doubt, be surprised to
hear of Iroquois in the far west. They came in the rear
of the Canadian traders, generally as hired servants, but
sometimes also as freemen, trappers, and hunters. In the
vicinity of Jasper House, on the eastern slope of the Rocky
Mountains, they even formed quite a little settlement of
their own.
In the spring of 1819, after a residence of eight years
and a half in New Caledonia, Harmon was off" to Montreal,
whence he came back to the North-West in the course of
the following year. During that trip, which he probably
intended to be final, he was accompanied by the mother
of his children, whom he then formally married, a step
none of his confreres in the service ever had the courage
to take in connection with the unions they had formed
with native women.
Mr. Malcolm McLeod, in his notes on McDonald's
Journal of Sir George Simpson's voyage through northern
America, calls Harmon a Chief Factor,1 and states expressly that he finds his name in the list of Chief Factors
and Chief Traders in the original Deed Poll issued at the
time of the coalition of the North-West and Hudson's
Bay Companies.    This must be an oversight on the part
1. P. 104.
of Mr. McLeod. Harmon, who so far had been serving
in the capacity of clerk,1 was then appointed a Chief Trader
only, and his name as such appears on the Deed Poll of
1821, being the eighth in seniority. As he is believed to
have retired almost immediately from the service, we fail
to see how he could have been promoted to a Chief
Daniel Williams Harmon was, as we have seen, a most
conscientious man, and, especially since September, 1813,
he invariably acted as a God-fearing gentleman, going even
to the length of composing prayers for his daily use,
prescribing for himself days of fasting, and crowning his
attempts at self-improvement by doing justice to the
woman he had made his life consort. He was an affectionate father and, generally, a very sociable man, who
greatly appreciated the company of his equals.2
While he was absorbed in the task of developing and
consolidating, under Stuart's presidency, the various establishments founded by Fraser in the west, a band of
French-Cana'dian half-breeds, led by a Cuthbert Grant, and
acting in the interest of the same North-West Company
which Harmon was faithfully serving, were capturing Fort
Douglas, on the Red River, after having killed Robert
Semple, the Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, and
twenty of his men who had dared to come in the open and
meet the invaders. This bloody affair, which took place
on the 19th of June, 1816, had evidently been prompted
by the North-West Company. Many of its active members
had the strongest objections to the settlement of the Red
River valley, which for some years had been going on
under the patronage of Lord Selkirk. That gentleman
had purchased for the purpose a large tract of land from
1. At all events he was not yet a partner in 1818.
2. As a linguist, at least as regards the Dene dialects, he was a failure.
the Hudson's Bay Company, and his interests were, on
that account, supposed to be identical with those of the
Nor'westers' deadly enemies.
As a consequence of the high-handed measures taken
in these troubled times, the seizure of forts, pelts and other
property by both contesting parties, the noble Earl had
to bear the brunt of long and costly legal battles in the
Canadian courts. For the part he had taken in the capture
of Fort William he met with adverse verdicts, and when
he laid the responsibility of the Seven Oaks skirmish at
the doors of a few prominent North-West Company
partners, the courts also refused to be convinced by his
These results could not but add new force to the fire of
bitterness and discontent which was secretly burning within
the bosoms of the two opposing companies and, on one
i. At this late date the action of the Canadian courts is open to criticism,
and we are afraid Dr. Bryce is not far from right in his strictures on their
judgments. ("History of the Hudson's Bay Company," p. 256.) But that
writer is evidently carried away by his feelings when he speaks of Semple's fall
as of a murder. A homicide, to become murder, must be premeditated and
induced by wilful malice. Where is Bryce's evidence to show that Grant's
band had come with the object of taking away Semple's life ? They considered
themselves a war party bent on taking Fort Douglas, and thus retaliating for
the capture of Fort William. Had not the Governor sallied out with his men,
followed by a piece of cannon, his life would most probably have been spared.
Moreover, we must not forget that Grant always contended that the first shot
in the affray had been fired by the Hudson's Bay Company people at Semple's
order. At all events, he precipitated the conflict by foolishly attempting to
grasp the gun of the half-breed messenger sent to parley with him. That Dr.
Bryce does not refer to the Indian who is said to have given the coup de grace
to the wounded Governor, is shown by the fact that he connects the '' murder "
of Semple with " six of the North-West partners." Lastly, he repeatedly
styles the whole unfortunate affair "the skirmish of Seven Oaks." Useless to
remark that skirmishing is not murdering. It may be noted, in passing, that
Harmon's account of the affair lays all the blame on the Hudson's Bay
Company people; but that gentleman had probably been misinformed by
parties too friendly to the North-West Company.
G 97 1
side at least, keep up the thirst for vengeance. But the
death of Lord Selkirk, which occurred in April, 1820,
came as a God-sent sedative to heal the wounds opened
on the Manitoban plains by the muskets of the French
half-breeds. As it became evident that neither faction
would yield to the other so long as they enjoyed a separate
existence, it was agreed that a coalition of the conflicting
interests was the only means of effecting a lasting peace.
Therefore, on the 26th of March, 1821, the two corporations coalesced under the name of the Hudson's Bay
According to the Deed Poll then promulgated, the
yearly profits of the new concern were to go sixty per
cent, to the proprietors who furnished the capital, and
forty per cent, to the " wintering partners," as the trading
officers were then called. These were now divided into
two distinct classes, based mostly on seniority in the service,
that of the Chief Factors and that of the Chief Traders.
The forty per cent, interest in the Company's profits was
subdivided into eighty-five shares, of which a Chief Factor
was to receive two and a Chief Trader one. Twenty-five
of the former class and twenty-eight of the latter were
appointed, in equal numbers, from among the officers of
the two companies residing in the country, the remaining
seven shares being allotted to various deserving persons
from amongst the employees of both concerns.
Thus ended, after thirty-eight years of bitter struggles
and brilliant achievements, a trading corporation which
had been noted chiefly for its dash, its daring, and its
indomitable spirit of initiative and combativeness.
The Hudson's Bay Company in New Caledonia.
THE corporation which came thus to reap where
others had sown, and was to have such a paramount influence on the destinies of the natives
of New Caledonia, was then one hundred and sixty-one
years old, having been incorporated in 1670. On May 2nd
of that year King Charles II. of England granted his
cousin, Prince Rupert, the Duke of Albemarle, General
Monk and fifteen other noblemen or merchants of London,
a charter endowing their corporation with the vastest
powers over the land tributary to Hudson Bay, with a
view to trade with the natives thereof, administer justice,
and exercise all the rights of a sovereign over the said
It is worthy of remark that the actual originators of
the exploration which led to the formation of the Company
were two Frenchmen, Radisson and Groseillers, while its
bitterest enemy and most formidable competitor in years
to come was to be a corporation representing mostly the
French element in Canada.
We have not to dwell here on the long contest between
the North-West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company, nor is it necessary to recite the rivalry, bitter struggles, and final hostilities which culminated in the bloody
affair of Seven Oaks. Indeed, we will not even attempt
an appreciation of the latter corporation's action on the
1 ;'   jl-
country over which it had such a lasting and jealously
enforced monopoly. Our task is humbler and more
restricted in scope. What we are concerned with is its
bearing on the aborigines of New Caledonia, and the
doings of its representatives west of the Rocky Mountains.
Before we proceed with our account of successive events
within that territory, a few words on its constitution and
the workings of the same from 1821 to this day, as well as
the character of the influence it exercised over the Western
Denes, will certainly not be out of place.
When, for the sake of peace and in the interest of all
the parties concerned, the North-West Company united
with the Hudson's Bay Company, there originated a new
organization, in which was retained only what seemed
best in each corporation. The result was an association
which for efficiency would seem to have no possible rivals,
except the modern religious Orders of the Roman Catholic
Church, with whose government and organic conformation
it has many points of similarity. The vast extent of territory now under the undisputed control of the Hudson's
Bay Company was divided, for the sake of trading purposes, into three principal departments, the Northern, the
Southern, and the Western, which, in their turn, were subdivided into districts with a leading fort or capital, where
the chief officer resided.
New Caledonia formed the most important district of
the Western Department, the other parts of which, with
the exception of the Pacific or Coast division, almost
seemed to exist only to supply goods to the posts of the
northern interior. The main depot of the Company
west of the Rockies was Fort Vancouver, on the lower
Columbia River. Such forwarding and distributing
quarters were presided over by Chief Factors, or superior
officers, some of whom were also in charge of the most
important trading posts. This brings us to the consideration of the Company's personnel and its organization.
This was most elaborate, and the lines between the
different classes in the service were at all times strictly
drawn. Generally speaking, it was composed of three
categories : there were the officers or commissioned gentlemen, the clerks and the servants.
Among the latter promotion was naturally out of order,
each man pursuing the vocation his abilities or training
fitted him for. Yet, even in that lower class, there were
degrees which were implicitly recognized, the highest
of which was that of interpreter. Then came, in the
order named, mechanics, guides, steersmen, bowmen or
bouts, fishermen, middlemen (or common boatmen), and
Each one's wages varied according to the value of his
services and the number of years he had been in the Company's employ. The best paid among the engage's or
servants were the interpreters. Fifteen years after the
union of the two corporations, their salary averaged £22
per year. One who had seen thirty-four years of service
received as much as £35, while two others had to be content with £1$. Irrespective of seniority in the ranks, the
wages of the bouts—men who helped the steersmen from
the opposite end of the boat—were £24, and those of the
common boatmen £ig.
The servants lodged in quarters distinct from those of
the officers and clerks, and every Saturday afternoon
received their rations for the ensuing week. Their fare, as
will appear in the course of this work, was of the poorest;
but it is safe to remark that, except when boating or packing, their exertions were on a par with their menu, and
they were hardly expected to yield the amount of work
required of regular laborers in civilized parts of the world.
Employees, while getting goods at specially low prices,
were strictly forbidden to trade with the natives, and an
infraction of this rule was visited with a fine, generally of
two pounds sterling.
Intermediate between the servants and the clerks were
the so-called postmasters. These, as a rule, were taken
from the ranks of the servants, and were men whose
education, too defective to allow them to aspire higher,
was yet of such a character as to permit of their keeping
accounts and being in charge, at least ad interim, of minor
posts. As late as 1850 their wages varied between thirty
and sixty pounds sterling.
As to the second class, it was composed of the clerks
and the apprentices. The latter were young men with a
fairly good education, who entered the service with an
engagement generally for five years. At the expiration of
the first year they were entitled to £20, and the salary was
augmented by £5 every subsequent year, except the two
last, when the increase was .£10 per annum, unless they
had not given satisfaction. This gave them £$0 for the
last year of their apprenticeship, when they could pretend
to the title of clerk. These figures are those prevalent in
1850. Twenty years earlier they were less by £5 in every
Though they may then have continued to keep the
accounts of a post and do such clerical work as circumstances demanded, their new position fitted them for the
Indian trade and the charge of a regular fort.1 In 1836
the salary of the clerks in New Caledonia varied between
£50 and ;£ioo a year.
1. A circumstance which goes to show that one did not need to be a Chief
Trader to preside over a post, as a C. W. McCain seems to think when he
writes that "a Chief Trader . . . was the one in charge of a Fort."
(" History of the SS. Beaver," p. 9.)
The clerks, even when in a subordinate position in an
important establishment, sat at the officers' mess and, as
a rule, had rooms in the same house. They were called
gentlemen, and in letters were addressed as " Mr."
After the amalgamation of the North-West and Hudson's Bay Companies, a certain Charles McKenzie, who
had by a native woman a son with a good education,
received at the Red River Seminary, complains that the
successor to the two concerns would not recognize the
right of such children to promotion. " The Honorable
Company are unwilling to take natives even as apprenticed
clerks," he writes somewhat bitterly, " and the favored
few they do take can never aspire to a higher status, be
their education and capacity what they may."1
Whatever may be the truth of this statement as regards
the management of the Company in the east, it certainly
cannot apply to New Caledonia. In 1836 there were in
that country two half-breed clerks in charge of forts, one of
whom received a higher salary than a fellow clerk hailing
from Scotland. Nay more, the following pages will show us
the son of a native woman presiding over the whole district.
We now come to the privileged class of the commissioned gentlemen. These formed a veritable oligarchy,
and, together with the title of Esquire, to which the clerks
had no right, their names, when written by a third party,
were coupled with the grade they had reached in the
hierarchical scale. None of them received any salary,
their remuneration consisting of shares in the Company's
profits, so that their very title was a powerful incentive to
exertion towards furthering the Company's interests.
Upon their promotion they were sent a commission
accompanied by a covenant, which they had to execute in
1. Quoted in Dr. Bryce's " History of the Hudson's Bay Company," p. 175.
103 11
! !
i| >
the presence of a superior officer.    The burden of this was
a promise of fidelity to the Company.
And here we might as well enter into a few details unknown to the public concerning the intimate history of
this privileged class, the inner workings of the system
which established it, and the profits or remuneration that
yearly accrued to its members.
In the old Company—by contradistinction to the repast
of the same in 1872—there were, as we have seen, only
two grades of commissioned officers: the Chief Factors
and the Chief Traders. We remember that the former
received two shares of the Company's yearly profits, while
the latter could claim only one. But when we are told
that, from the time of the coalition to 1872, the average
value of a share was ^360, we realize that even a Chief
Trader met with an adequate remuneration. Of course,
this varied from time to time, and there were a few outfits
which yielded insignificant returns, or which even resulted in
an actual loss to the Company. Thus, on the trade of the
first year after the disappearance of the North-West Company, there was a loss of upwards of forty thousand pounds
sterling, which cost the wintering partners .£196 7s. id. per
share. The following year (outfit 1822), the returns were
on their way up to the normal amount, being then
£203 8s. 9d. Again, in 1869, the year before the transfer of
the country to Canada, there was a loss of thirty thousand
pounds, caused entirely by the first Riel insurrection.
Originally, certain Chief Factors and Chief Traders were
allowed to retire from the service before June 1st, 1822,
and for seven years thereafter received the benefit of their
commissions. After five years' service as a commissioned
officer, three Chief Factors and two Chief Traders could
withdraw annually, with the full benefit of their respective
commissions for one year and of half the amount of their
shares for the remaining six years. Vacancies to a commission were filled by the Chief Factors voting for three
different names, and the Governor and Committee in
London usually chose the men recommended by the lesser
Governor residing in the country. •
In course of time a Board of Managers was formed,
which had in hand the affairs of the whole Western Department and whose seat was at Fort Vancouver. It was
composed of Chief Factors whose long and faithful services entitled them to the rest afforded by that position,
which was more or less of a sinecure.
In 1834 a new Deed Poll was issued in place of that of
1821, which was abrogated. One of its clauses was to the
effect that, in the event of a loss on a year's trade, the
wintering partners would not be called upon to make the
same good. The number of Chief Factors was also reduced and the number of Chief Traders raised. The new
Deed Poll did not, like the old one, make provision for a
specified number of each ; so that, until its abrogation in
1871, there were seldom more than fourteen or fifteen
Chief Factors on active service, while Chief Traders varied
according to the number of shares held by officers who
had retired.
On June 1st, 1872, the Hudson's Bay Company was
reorganized on a new basis and a third Deed Poll then
came into force. By that arrangement the number of'
grades was increased, and to meet this change the old 40
per cent, gain coming to the commissioned officers was
subdivided into 100 shares instead of 85 as before. Since
that time the Company is nominally composed of the following grades : Inspecting Chief Factors, who originally
received three of the new shares, but now get only their
travelling expenses over and above what they have a right
to in virtue  of their  commission; then come the Chief
Factors with "2yi shares, the Factors with 2,  the  Chief
Traders with 1 y2, and Junior Chief Traders with 1 share.
Great dissatisfaction was expressed at the time of its
adoption at the new arrangement, which the wintering
partners contended sacrificed their rights and made light
of their interests. Since its promulgation the average
value of a share has fallen from ^360 to £211. Of late
years it has been the policy of the Company to discontinue
the granting of commissions and give fixed salaries to the
gentlemen in its employ.
The titles of the original Company were greatly coveted,
and, at this distance, we can well afford a discreet smile
at the unveiled satisfaction of an American who, forgetting
the democratic principles professed by all good representatives of his nationality, wrote to a brother officer, seemingly with the blush of a flattered maiden, on his promotion
to one of them
11 return you many thanks for your kind congratulations on my promotion to a Tradership. I have every
reason to believe that such is the case, having a letter from
Sir George Simpson informing me that my interest as
Chief Trader was to date from 1st June, 1853, and sending
me his sincere congratulations on the event. Mr. Douglas
was, no doubt, aware of it when we were at Langley. As
Sir George's letter is dated Lachine, 28th February, and
passed the Cowlitz postoffice on the nth of May, 1853,
and Chief Factor Ogden addressed me as Chief Trader
McLean in a letter of the 1 ith of June, surely there can
be scarcely a doubt on the subject, and I must confess that
it is more than I expected. It is to your kindness that, in
a great measure, I owe my having been promoted, and,
believe me, I will ever remember it."1
These officers, especially the Chief Factor in charge of
1. D. McLean to D. Manson, February 6th, 1854.
an important post, enjoyed the greatest consideration and
were treated with every mark of respect. As to the latter,
J. W. McKay, himself an old Hudson's Bay Company
man, has written of his greatness an account which is too
graphic not to be reproduced here.
" This exalted functionary," he writes, " was lord paramount ; his word was law ; he was necessarily surrounded
by a halo of dignity, and his person was sacred, so to
speak. He was dressed every day in a suit of black or
dark blue, white shirt, collars to his ears, frock coat, velvet
stock and straps to the bottom of his trousers. When he
went out of doors he wore a black beaver hat worth forty
shillings. When travelling in a canoe or boat, he was lifted
in and out of the craft by the crew ; he still wore his
beaver hat, but it was protected by an oiled silk cover,
and over his black frock he wore a long cloak made of
Royal Stuart tartan lined with scarlet or dark blue bath
coating. The cloak had a soft Genoa velvet collar, which
was fastened across by mosaic gold clasps and chains. It
had also voluminous capes.
" He carried with him an ornamental bag, technically
called a ' fire-bag,' which contained his tobacco, steel and
flint, touchwood, tinderbox, and brimstone matches.    In
camp his tent was pitched apart from the shelter given his
crew.    He had a separate fire, and the first work of the
boat's crew after landing was to pitch his tent, clear his
camp, and collect firewood sufficient for the night before
they were allowed to attend to their own wants.    Salutes
were  fired on his  departure  from  the  fort and on his
I All this ceremony was considered necessary ; it had a
good effect on the Indians ; it added to his dignity in the
eyes of his subordinates, but sometimes spoiled the Chief
Factor.    Proud indeed was the Indian fortunate enough
to be presented with the Chief Factor's cast-off hat, however battered it might become. He donned it on all
important occasions, and in very fine weather it might
constitute his entire costume."1
As to trading with the Indians, this was attended to by
one or more of the clerks, aided by an interpreter, generally a half-breed. As is well known, the unit of value was
equal to that of a prime beaver-skin of any weight, though
of the full grown animal; smaller beaver, martens and the
like being quoted as so many parts of a made beaver.
Until about 1862, when flour, bacon, sugar, and tea were
for the first time introduced as articles of trade in New
Caledonia, the fort stores contained merely a few indispensable implements, such as kettles, axes and knives, together
with a limited supply of guns and ammunition, wearing
apparel, and blankets. A gratuity of ammunition was
given to each out-going hunter.
Much has been said about the large profits realized by
the Hudson's Bay Company in the course of the last
century There can be no doubt that, after the disappearance of its powerful rival, the North-West Company, its
returns were of the most satisfactory character, though
probably no credence should be placed in the stories of
guns being originally bartered for piles of beaver-skins
reaching to the end of the guns standing alongside
of them. In New Caledonia its expenses were enormous ; yet the traders managed to make this district pay
handsomely. Discreet as the authorities are about such
matters, more than once their official letters betray their
satisfaction at the turn of affairs in that country.
In the course of 1845, business in the fur line does not
seem to have been so bright as usual; but the governor,
Sir George Simpson, consoles himself with the thought
1. Year Book of British Columbia, p. 24 (first edition).
that " the district may shortly recover its conspicuous
standing with regard to profits."1
Sure enough, the sagacious governor was a good prophet,
for three years later Thomas Lewes writes from Colville:
" You will observe from the account current that New
Caledonia has made rather handsome returns this outfit,
and an apparent gain of .£6,914 12s. nd."2
As to the credit and debts given to the Indians, it has
been said that the Company had recourse to that expedient
to keep them in subjection. This charge cannot be substantiated as regards New Caledonia. To the sorrow of those
who had to see them paid, large debts were indeed allowed
the Indians ; but the latter were mostly responsible therefor,
being at times exorbitant and almost threatening in their
demands. In fact, the credit advanced them is rather a
token of the kind-heartedness and liberality of the traders,
who, until a relatively recent date, had no competition to
With regard to the re-engagement of servants dissatisfied with the service, so much could not be said in favor of
the Company, and the writer has the best of reasons for
stating that means not too honorable were sometimes
resorted to in order to make them renew their engagement. Service, in many cases, was becoming so irksome
after a few years, especially with men placed under autocratic officers, that the correspondence of the higher
authorities is replete with requests to such as were at the
head of the different forts to use their best endeavors to
prevent the engage's from leaving the Company's employ.
In fact, in the course of time, desertions and retirements
became so numerous that the Company hit upon a plan
1. MS. letter to D. Manson, June 16th, 1845.
2. MS. letter to D. Mason, April 23rd, 1848.
which yielded the best of results, inasmuch as it urged the
natives round the forts to work and exertion. An unsigned
letter, probably from Sir James Douglas, dated 12th of
April, 1854, has the following:
I In your letter of the 2nd of October allusion is made
to the employment of Indians to make up for the deficiency of white servants, a very proper measure, and you
must provide goods for the payment of such service."x
The Hudson's Bay Company's forts in New Caledonia
consisted of quadrilateral enclosures, of an area varying
according to the importance of the place, built of stout,
upright logs, flanked by two bastions at the farthest
angles. These were square, tower-like buildings, furnished
each with a small cannon and a stand of large muskets.
The palisade, which was from fifteen to eighteen feet high,
admitted of no chinks between its component parts, and
was provided with a large, heavy gate in front of the fort,
and a smaller one on the opposite side. The front gate
had a wicket for every-day use, and the whole was made
of the most solid material. Inside of the palisade, and
contiguous thereto, ran a gallery about four feet below the
top of the same, which facilitated communication between
the two bastions.
Within the enclosure were the quarters of the servants,
generally a very long building with many partitions, the
store (which at Stuart Lake was originally in the gentlemen's house), salmon shed and meat house, residence of
the officer in charge, and of his clerks, etc.
What was the effect of the Hudson's Bay Company on
the native population of New Caledonia? The writer
sincerely wishes he had not to answer that question ; but
the close association of the two races during the last eighty
years renders imperative the consideration of the result of
1. MS. letter to D. Manson.
no CO     V
fn   a
CO    «
such commingling. Both written and oral information is
not wanting to force on us the conclusion that the influence
of the superior race was decidedly detrimental to the best
interests of the Western Den^s.
Instead of lifting the lower race up to the standard of
Christianized Europeans, the latter, in too many cases,
stooped to the level of the savages they had come to as
the representatives of a wonderful civilization. Gambling,
Indian fashion dancing, face-painting, potlatching or
heathen feasting, rendering murder for murder, the lax
observance of the Lord's Day, disregard of the sanctity of
the marriage tie—nay,intwo cases at least,even polygamy—
were not only countenanced, but actually practised by the
Company's officers and servants.1 The cremation of the
dead fell with time into" desuetude; but that custom was
replaced by others of an equally obnoxious nature, which
the whites taught the aborigines : such as scalping, which
was quite unknown among the Western D6nds, and that
which has sounded the death knell of morality, peace, and
order among the natives who have been cursed with its
introduction—we mean the drinking of intoxicants.
Of course, we are well aware of the gravity of our
charges; but, were it necessary, nothing could be more
easy than to prove them, even by the Company's own
official documents, laconic as they usually are when it is a
question of happenings which might throw discredit on
the concern. These are naturally reticent concerning the
wild orgies among the fort employees, and the large
kettlefuls of liquor which the officers—even to the Chief
Factors—caused to be distributed among the native guests
i. The two cases of polygamy were those of officers, each of whom was at
the head of a fort. One of them, a pure white man, who could hardly speak
of the natives without dubbing them rascals and scoundrels, co-habited
simultaneously with two of their women, and afterwards attained the rank of a
Chief Trader.
of the pagan feasts, at which they themselves did not
scruple to assist as participants ; but they contain enough
to tell us of the motives to which they yielded in propagating that evil among the aborigines.
We purposely say propagating that evil. As to its
introduction into New Caledonia, the responsibility for
that fateful step undoubtedly belongs to the North-West
Company, members of which had supplied liquor to the
Western Den6s even before they crossed the Rocky Mountains to establish themselves in the west. They were
so much the more guilty, as they could not adduce the
stimulating influence of trade competition to excuse their
conduct. Once introduced, it was difficult for the new
company, whose personnel remained practically unchanged
in New Caledonia, to stop the evil. Indeed, several of its
officers hardly deemed it an evil at all.
As early as 1831, William Todd, of McLeod Lake,
writes to headquarters, at Stuart Lake: " Mr. Connolly—
the officer in charge of the district—previous to his departure from here, made them [the Sekanais Indians] very
liberal promises of spirits and tobacco should their hunt, on
his arrival in the fall, be found to equal his expectations." \
A year had not elapsed, when Thomas Dears, then in
charge of Fort Connolly, writes also: " Those Indians
I saw were somewhat disappointed in not receiving a
gratuity of spirits. I am of opinion that if a small quantity
was allowed them, each according to his merits, it would be
a stimulant [No doubt it would.—Ed.] to exertion, and, at
any rate, it would entice them to visit the fort oftener."2
Ten years later, the officer momentarily presiding over
the whole district decides, in his official capacity, " Regarding rum to be given to the Indians, I would recommend
1. To P. W. Dease, August 28th, 1831.
2. February 5th, 1832.
that the usual allowance be given to those who pay their
This was evidently written in answer to a consultation
regarding the advisability of continuing the custom of
furnishing intoxicants to the natives, and said consultation
must have been the result of some occurrence which caused
the local manager to question the wisdom of following
in the footsteps of his predecessors. What this occurrence
may have been can easily be guessed by any one who
knows the effect " fire-water," even taken in small
quantities, has on inferior races.
The directing minds of the Company, though not realizing the extent of the evil, made laudable efforts to check
its ravages. In 1831, among the resolutions of their Annual
Council, held at Norway House, we find one prohibiting
the sale of liquor to the Indians, and regulating that " not
more than two gallons of spirituous liquors and four gallons
of wine be sold at the depots to any individual in the
Company's service, of what rank soever he may be."2
And, as the evil seemed to be growing, eight years later
the same body orders that " the brewing of beer and distilling of spirits be interdicted at all establishments and
posts belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company."3
Yet, so late as 1848, D. Manson, the gentleman then in
charge of the district, speaks of a keg of rum which was
regularly kept for the use of the Sekanais Indians, and we
have the best of evidence for stating that, long after that
date, intoxicants figured prominently in the Company's
transactions with the natives.4
1. Paul Fraser to  H.  Maxwell, of Babine,  March 29th,  1832 (sic for
2. Resolution 95.
3. Resolution 78, June 7th, 1845.
4. To Sir Geo. Simpson, February 20th, 1848.
King Charles's charter had given the officers of the
Company "power to judge all persons belonging to the
said Governor and Company, or that shall live under them
in all causes, whether civil or criminal, according to the
laws of this kingdom, and to execute justice accordingly."
Now, during its many years of supreme control over the
native populations, in the midst of which it had established
its posts, many unlawful acts were perpetrated and even
crimes committed. But there is not one instance on record
of a person having been tried for an offence and punished
accordingly. When the victim of a foul deed belonged to
the Company's personnel, prompt action was, indeed,
invariably taken; but even then there was not the semblance of a trial. He who had killed was killed, sometimes the innocent sharing the fate of the guilty, exactly
as was practised by the Indians themselves, a circumstance
the latter knew how to utilize to silence the Company's
employees who, for the sake of their trade, tried to put a
stop to the series of reprisals which followed. Regular
arrests and trials would, no doubt, have been sometimes
difficult and well nigh impossible ; but it is safe to say
that, in several cases, cool, impartial justice might have
easily enough taken the place of that which everybody
regarded as revenge and retaliation, prompted less by the
exigencies of society than by the impulse of feelings and
the thirst for blood.
As to the observance of Sunday, we will simply remark
that the Hudson's Bay Company in New Caledonia seems
to have considered the Lord's Day as the proper time for
travelling, which in the north, especially in winter, means
packing, felling trees, cutting firewood, sometimes in large
quantities, etc. Until a comparatively late date, Sunday
trading and outfitting were also weekly occurrences in that
The redeeming features of the Company's people in the
north were their undoubted honesty in dealing with the
natives, the superior quality of their goods, their humane
conduct towards the poor and needy, and the assistance
they gave the first missionaries and their immediate successors in the way of free passages in their boats and a
most generous hospitality at their forts.
Last Years of Stuart's Stay in New Caledonia.
William Connolly Succeeds Him.
THE person who was to harmonize the discordant
elements within the new corporation, and reconcile
the Nor'westers to the loss of their autonomy, was
a young man, a mere clerk of the Hudson's Bay Company.
This was George (afterwards Sir George) Simpson. A
son of the eldest brother of Thomas Simpson's mothe^
he had been born in Ross-shire, Scotland, and had engaged
for eleven years in commercial pursuits, when, in 1819, he
cast his lot with the Hudson's Bay Company, which was
then battling furiously with its enterprising rival. Early
the following year he sailed from England to Montreal,
whence he made for Lake Athabaska, where he wintered.
Of a pleasing appearance and gentlemanly address, with
blue eyes and finely chiselled features, he was rather below
the average in stature; but his suavity of manners and a
quiet dignity of deportment, which never left him, stamped
him as a man who was bound to make his mark in the
world. That habitual affability was only ruffled when, in
the course of his travels, he was hampered by companions
whose easy-going ways jarred on his nerves and did not
allow him to live up to his reputation of being one of the
very swiftest travellers on record. He would then urge
them on with an impetuosity which is said to have once
cost him a ducking which was not on his programme.
■ A stalwart French voyageur, who was a favorite with
the Governor [Sir George], was once, in crossing the Lake
of the Woods, so irritated by the Governor's unreasonable
urging that he seized his tormentor, who was small in
stature, by the shoulders and dipped him into the lake,
giving vent to his feelings in an emphatic French oath."I
As to his administrative abilities, there can be no
question. The fact that for fully thirty-nine years—that
is, until the date of his death, which occurred in 1860—he
remained the trusted Governor of the Hudson's Bay
Company in America suffices by itself to prove it.
We have not to enter here into the details, or even give
the outlines, of his administration. Norway House, on
Lake Winnipeg, became the American headquarters of
the Company. There, in conjunction with a few tried
Chief Factors, forming a sort of legislative assembly and
executive council combined, he used to direct the affairs
of his vast corporation, listen to complaints or requests,
judge litigious cases, review annually the interests of the
many posts under his jurisdiction, and close the whole
proceedings by a series of resolutions embodying the
changes in the personnel of the " gentlemen "—that is, the
officers and clerks—for the ensuing year.2 Copies of said
resolutions were then distributed among the various heads
of districts.
In the beginning a great reduction in the number
of posts was, of course, in order, several having been
established simply out of a necessity based on competition,
in the days of the two  rival corporations.    These con-
1. "The Remarkable History of the Hudson's Bay Company," by G.
Bryce, p. 270.
2. As to the servants, they were, with regard to changes from one place to
another, under the special jurisdiction of the manager of their district.
flicting interests having never penetrated into New
Caledonia, a reduction in the number of forts there was
not necessary. On the contrary, with the increase in
the personnel resulting from the abandonment of many
establishments in the east, expansion and multiplication
of posts became the order of the day.
We have seen the pioneer traders for a number of years
painfully transporting their supplies overland from the
east through Fort McLeod. This necessitated long
voyages, in the course of which the goods had to cross
the continent and be packed by men along difficult
portages, chief among which were the Rocky Mountain
Portage and that between McLeod Lake and Stuart
Lake, a distance of at least eighty miles. To obviate
these difficulties John Stuart had gone in search of
a water communication between the Fraser and the
Columbia, failing to find which he suggested the advisability of getting the New Caledonia outfits from the
Columbia, but via Okanagan and the newly founded
establishment at Kamloops. As the lower Fraser was
unavailable for the purpose, it had to be avoided, and
horses were to pack the goods between the Columbia and
the terminus of navigation on the former stream. This
arrangement necessitated the establishment of a depot, or
warehouse, to receive the goods and store them for safe
keeping pending the arrival of the canoes from Stuart
Lake. Hence the erection, in 1821, of a new fort on the
Fraser, just at the place where Sir Alexander Mackenzie
turned back, in memory of whom the new post was called
In the course of time this became an important establishment, which was not only a depot for the northern posts,
but a sort of embryo granary which supplied them with the
limited quantity of wheat that   could   be raised   in its
immediate vicinity.1 Moreover (and this was perhaps the
argument that had the most weight in the eyes of the Company), it accommodated a large number of Indians who,
unhappily, adding to their innate immorality the vices of
the whites (especially the abuse of intoxicants), were soon
to decrease rapidly. To-day their once populous village
and adjacent settlements are practically a desert; but even
ten years after the erection of the fort the native population
in that quarter must still have been numerous, since on the
list of Indians to whom credit had been advanced by the
gentleman in charge, on February 12th, 1831, the writer has
found the names of one hundred and sixty-nine hunters.
This would give a minimum of six hundred souls. The
amount of their debts varied between one-half and twenty-
one " skins," or twenty-one times the value of a " made
The preceding year (1830) that post had received, among
other pelts, 1,832 beaver-skins, to which must be added 22
beaver robes, 8 large dressed beavers, 1 small dressed
beaver, and 50 bear-skins.
Somewhat later an outpost of Alexandria was established
on a tributary of the Chilcotin River, which, after many
trials and varying fortunes, had to be abandoned, owing to
its isolation and consequent expensiveness, but especially
on account of the troublesome disposition of the natives
who frequented it.
The author of that most valuable work, the Year Book
of British Columbia,2 follows Bancroft, who states expressly
that Fort Chilcotin was established " about the same time "
as Alexandria^ To anyone familiar with the geography of
the country and the innate restiveness of the Chilcotin
1. The first Fort Alexandria stood on the left side of the Fraser.
2. K. E. Gosnell, Victoria, B.C, 1897, p. 73.
3. " History of the North-West," Vol. II., p. 461.
Indians, such a statement calls for confirmation. That
Bancroft is mistaken as to the date of the foundation of that
fort (which cannot be 1821, as the Year Book has it on the
faith of that author's somewhat vague assertion) is made
evident by the following statement from William Connolly's journal, which is undated, except for the very
explicit mention of the years 1825-26. It is in the handwriting of that gentleman, who had never been in New
Caledonia before the end of 1824, and written probably in
" The intelligence Mr. McDougall (George) conveys in
regard to Alexandria is not very agreeable. The Indians
in that quarter, having had some serious misunderstandings
a few years ago with the Chilcotins, the latter, in revenge,
lately murdered three of the former when they were hunting in the vicinity of the Chilcotin River, and the others, in
retaliation, perpetrated a like deed upon two young men of
the Chilcotin tribe who were amongst them. Since this
occurred all intercourse between the two tribes has been
broken off, and both being apprehensive of being attacked,
the Chilcotins retreated beyond our reach for the present,
which prevented Mr. McDougall from making them the
promised visit, and the others have, since that unfortunate
affair, done nothing.
"This event I am afraid, will be an obstacle to the establishment of a post on the Chilcotin River for the present" *■
In course of time Fort Alexandria became the seat of a
Chief Trader, who had under him a clerk in charge of Fort
Chilcotin. Both, however, were under the jurisdiction of
the Chief Factor at Stuart Lake.
While the Hudson's Bay Company was thus implanting
itself in the south of the district, it was extending its
influence in the north by means of a new fort it was
1. From a fly-sheet tom off an old journal book.
121 tj
establishing on the northern shore of Babine Lake, among
the numerous Indians whom Harmon and Jas. McDougall
visited in 1812. Trading excursions had yearly brought
to the doors of those aborigines the wares of the Canadians,
in competition with those they indirectly received from
the Pacific coast With the ever-increasing number of
servants to support, it was felt that a permanent post in
that quarter would be of the greatest benefit to the whole
district, were it only as a means of procuring the salmon
on which the inmates of the different posts subsisted. The
run of that fish failing along the basin of the Fraser,
recourse might be had to that of Lake Babine, which is
one of the tributaries of the Skeena.
A new post was therefore erected, in 1822, on the northern
bank of Lake Babine, in latitude 550 4'. For over twenty
years it bore among the Hudson's Bay Company's people a
name which, in the old papers of the time, is variously
spelt Kilmaurs, Killmars, and Kilmers. Nowadays that
place is known as Old Fort Babine.
Here we must again take exception to one of Bancroft's
assertions. This author states, in his " History of British
Columbia "* that " the post of Babine was built by Chief
Trader Brown in 1826-27." But in the minutes of the
Council held in 1825 at the temporary Norway House,
Chief Trader William Brown is explicitly mentioned as
being in charge of that fort, with Charles Ross as clerk.
At the time mentioned by Bancroft, Fort Kilmaurs was
already in a flourishing condition, with P. C. Pambrun at
its head. The Stuart Lake journal even records the fact
that, four men having been sent to bring the returns of that
place, these proved to be so abundant that four additional
men had to be despatched to help those originally sent2
P. 58.
2. Journal, April 4th, 1827.
The year 1824 was the last which John Stuart passed as
the manager of the New Caledonia District. In the
autumn of that year he was succeeded by William
Connolly,1 an Irishman, with a half-breed family, who
crossed the Rocky Mountains with supplies and twenty-
four men, whom he had brought from Norway House.
On returning from that country, for which he does not
seem to have had too great a liking, John Stuart went over
to the east side of the mountains, and two years afterwards,
(December 10th, 1826), we find him stationed at Lesser
Slave Lake. On the 5th of January, 1827, his thoughts
revert to the country of his first trials, and he writes from
Edmonton : " Most of the Crees attached to Fort Assini-
boine had in summer crossed the mountains in war
excursions and, I believe, killed some of the most valuable Indians of Western Caledonia ; but this is a conjecture."2
Five years afterwards he was promoted to the command
of the Mackenzie District; but six months later he was
already tired of his new position and was speaking of
retiring therefrom.3 Yet he did not act at once on his
original intention, and stayed some time longer at the
Forks of the Mackenzie River, a step he had to regret, as
we learn from an unpublished letter he wrote to his friend
John McLeod. That communication is dated March 2nd,
1834, and reads partly as follows :
1. Bancroft, in his "History of British Columbia," wrongly calls him
James. In his " History of the North-West," he speaks sometimes of a
James, sometimes of a William, Connolly, and a careful study of his text
reveals the fact that the two are really one and the same individual. On the
other hand, the anonymous author of the article "Douglas" in the "Biographical Dictionary of Well-known British Columbians," calls the same
gentleman John Connolly.
2. MS. letter to J. McLeod.
3. March 16th, 1833.
" I had a fair prospect of passing one of the most comfortable and pleasant [seasons] I experienced in the Indian
country, when a circumstance I could neither foresee nor
suspect [occurred]. Poor unfortunate Mary, of whom, in
common with me, you always had a high opinion, fell over
head and ears in love, and commenced an intrigue that
nearly terminated my life. Of this, although aware she
had ceased to treat me as her husband, I had not the
smallest suspicion until 7th February, when the poor
infatuated victim of delusion retired publicly into the bedchamber of that vile Abenekis, the abominable Anreon,
under a written promise that he would both protect her
and turn me out of the house. But the result turned out
different from [that] which either of them expected.
Shortly after I entered the room, and - before he could
make use of his pistols, I suddenly seized the bravado by
both arms and ordered Mary to her own room, and the
next day I sent her to Fort Liard, where she will remain
with Mr. McPherson until open water."
He then solaces his wounded feelings by stating that
" the thief and villain who seduced his ' wife' is now
leaving the district." After which he adds : " Poor Mary,
I both pity and forgive her. ... I cannot again
trust her. . . . Had she continued her former attention
. . . until I reached Norway House, she most certainly
would have become my wife."
Inasmuch as he asserts that his love for her was gone
forever, and that he cannot now marry her, one may be
pardoned for not seeing his reasons for taking her away
from the man she loved, who was as much her husband as
himself, and who was probably willing to make her his
wife.    He ends by saying :
" I have now only to say that, along with the returns, I
will  take my departure for England, from where it is
probable I will steer for the south of France, and in that
fine climate endeavor to spin out a frame for a few years
that is nearly exhausted by excess of labor and care,
ingratitude and disappointment." .
Such were his plans at the time he wrote; but again
his natural inconstancy, or perhaps circumstances over
which he had no control, caused him to alter them ; for
on leaving the service he settled at Forres, in Scotland,
where he died in 1846.1
The year that Stuart finally left New Caledonia there
came to that country a young man who was in after
years to become the principal maker of history within
British Columbia. This was James Douglas, a scion of
the noble house of the same name. Born in 1803, on the
I ith of August, in Demarara, British Guiana,2 of a Catholic
mother, he was educated at Lanark, Scotland, and at
seventeen he entered the service of the North-West
Company at Fort William. With the petulance which
occasionally asserted itself within him, he resented the
coalition of the two companies and the practical absorption
of his own by the English concern, and he was on the
point of returning to Scotland when he was persuaded to
remain in the service by John McLoughlin, a high officer
in the new corporation, who had taken a liking for the
John Stuart had just been relieved of the task for which
he seemed to have so little taste, and his successor was
directing his steps towards his new charge, when young
Douglas was despatched to that distant country, the bugbear of apprentices in the service. In 1825 we find him at
McLeod Lake, in  company   with   John  Tod, who  had
1. J. Stuart, who had been made a Chief Factor in 1821, was the maternal
uncle of Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal.
2. Not in Jamaica, as most authors have it. NORTHERN INTERIOR OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
accompanied Stuart on his last voyage to the western
lands in 1823, and as he was giving satisfaction, we see
the Annual Council of the Company recommending that he
be "engaged for a term of three years from the expiration
of his contract, at £60 a year."
Owing to the late foundations, New Caledonia had about
attained the high-water mark of its prosperity; and it may
serve our purpose to glance at the personnel then stationed
at the different posts. In 1825, at Stuart Lake, W.
Connolly, who was appointed a Chief Factor that very year,
had command over the whole district, and was assisted by
three clerks, James McDougall, P. C. Pambrun, and J. M.
Yale. The last named gentleman had momentarily left
his station, Fort George, pending an investigation into
an occurrence of which we will soon have more to say.
John McDonnell was in charge of Fraser Lake without an
assistant clerk, while at McLeod Lake John Tod had
with him Jas. Douglas ; at Alexandria Geo. McDougall
was aided by William B. McBean, and at Babine Chief
Trader Brown had Charles Ross for a companion.
Among the country produce of that early date we find
the following mentioned in the old account books of the
district: Birch bark, gum (or pitch, which sold at id. per
pound), sturgeon oil, pemmican, Indian rice, buffalo robes
(quoted at 5s. each, while samples of an inferior quality
retailed at 2s. 6d.), snowshoes, dressed buffalo, reindeer and
moose-skins, parchment (mostly for windows), buffalo
tongues, which could be had at 6d. apiece, etc.
But to return to our new arrival, Clerk J. Douglas. His
stay at Fort McLeod was not long, and he was soon called
to Stuart Lake to help in the many branches of service
incident to such an important post In view of the exalted
functions he was to exercise in after life, it is refreshing to
read, after a lapse of eighty years, a few of the entries in
the Journal of the Stuart Lake Fort wherein he is mentioned. Such passages, at the same time, give us an idea of
the truly strenuous life the early traders had to lead in the
isolated and undeveloped west.
One of their first cares, indeed the care that had precedence over all others, was to find the means of subsistence
for themselves and their numerous retinue of servants. To
procure fish they had started a fishery at " Montee," or the
mouth of Beaver Creek, the place across the lake where
they had met the first Indians in 1806 ; but the returns of
that establishment were usually so indifferent and at all
times so uncertain that the authorities at headquarters
deemed it expedient to found a second fishing station at
Petit Lac (or Small Lake), the head-waters of the river that
falls into the lake at the Portage, where fish were said to be
abundant. The new clerk, James Douglas, was entrusted
with the care of that fishery, as can be seen by the following extracts from his immediate superior's Journal:
"Saturday, 10th November, 1827.—Received from the
[old] fishery fifty-nine whitefish, the produce of two nights.
Clermont brought over the greater part.of the nets. . . .
To-morrow Mr. Douglas, with two fishermen, Bichon1 and
Clermont, and two men to assist them, will proceed to
Yokogh [or Petit Lac] to establish the fishery there. This
gentleman will not only superintend the fishery, but will
also collect the fish which the Indians may have to dispose
of immediately, for which purpose he is provided with
leather [dressed skins] and other articles of trade.
"Sunday, nth.—Mr. Douglas, with five men, set out for
the fishery of Yokogh. They are well provided with nets,
having eight of small thread, three of willow, and four of
Holland twine. . . . Most of the dogs are also sent to
the fishery.
1. This name is hardly decipherable in the MS.
" Wednesday, 14th.—Vadeboncceur came from the fishery
and informed me that these two days back they had not
taken a sufficiency for their consumption. I ordered them
to come across to-morrow to prepare to go and join Mr.
Douglas at the other fishery."
After this we see the future knight and Governor of
British Columbia continually hauling with dog sledges the
fish he had taken at his establishment or procured from the
neighboring Indians. Indeed, on the very eve of his
departure from the district, he is still busy with fish and
furs, as is shown by this other passage from the same
1. " Magnus esse vis ? a minimo incipe " (Wilt thou be great? learn first to
be little) is an old maxim which most historians cannot apparently imagine as
applicable to Sir James Douglas. To them he was such a great man that they
seem to think he never was little, in so far, at least, as social standing is
concerned. As soon as they introduce him upon the scene of the western
province, they clothe him with a halo of consideration which is quite disproportionate to his age and surroundings. They show him to us as a man in
authority (forgetting that he was a mere youth at the time) gravely studying
people and situations, founding forts and practically doing at Stuart Lake what
he was destined to do at Victoria. " From the time Douglas arrived on the
Pacific coast, in 1824," writes his biographer in the "Dictionary of Well-
known British Columbians," he was practically at the head of the Company's
business, and while McLaughlin was nominally his superior [what about
Connolly ?] Douglas was not only the mind which conceived, but the hand
which carried into effect all the enterprises of the Company. . . . On his
arrival in New Caledonia he set himself without delay to study the conditions
of the country, its geography and hydrography, and the languages and characteristics of the various tribes of natives with whom he would have business
dealings. He spent four [it should be six] years in the interior of New Caledonia . . . and during this period he founded several forts and had a
number of encounters with the savages, in which his prudence, address and
courage made him feared and respected by the natives "—so much feared (?)
that, for the sake of personal safety, he had finally to leave the country and
his own father-in-law. Others represent him as a Chief Factor in charge of
Fort St. James at a time when he was merely the head fisherman of the
establishment. There should be nothing derogatory to his undoubted greatness in the assertion that he learned to obey before he could command.
"January 1st, 1830.— . . . Mr. Douglas also returned
from his trip. In the way of furs he was more successful
than had been expected, having collected, principally among
the Kuzche Indians, about no pounds' weight of excellent
furs, chiefly beaver and marten. But the fish trade,has
entirely disappointed us, only about 1,600 having been procured, part of which the dogs have brought to the Fort
by Mr. Douglas' men."
James Douglas is very generally credited with having
established Fort Connolly, on Bear Lake. Begg and others
go even so far ias to say that he founded several such posts
within New Caledonia,1 an assertion which is erroneous on I
the face of it. That fort is conceded to have been erected in
1826. On the other hand, Bancroft states2 that Douglas
made, in August, 1827, a journey down the stream he called
Connolly River, a circumstance which would seem to imply
that he wintered at the new place. Indeed, some authors
give the date of the foundation of Fort Connolly as 1826-27.
Without absolutely disputing the accuracy of these statements, we will remark that, in view of the incontrovertible
facts in the possession of the writer, those assertions give
rise to some difficulties.
We have to deplore the loss of that part of the Stuart
Lake Journal which would have prevented all controversy
on the subject. As it is, the few sheets before us relating
to that epoch which time has spared are our excuse for the
doubts we venture to express as to the accuracy of the
various authors regarding that point. In a manuscript
document signed by William Connolly, and dated Walla-
Walla, July 18th, 1826, Mr. Douglas is directed to "proceed to Okanagan with [the horses] intended for New
Caledonia";   and,   under   date   March   27th,   1827,   the
1. " History of British Columbia," p. 135.
2. I History of the North-West," Vol. II., p.
Stuart Lake Journal says that " Mr. Douglas arrived in
the afternoon from Alexandria, which place he left on the
19th." In the face of these two unpublished statements
we fail to see how Douglas could have established Fort
Connolly in 1826, especially as Bear Lake, in the midst of
which it stood,1 is a place of difficult access, which cannot
well be reached from the south before July, and is situated
at the very opposite extremity of the district from that
where Alexandria stands, with a distance of over four
hundred miles intervening.
Yet it is certain that the fort had been erected before
1827, as we see Connolly sending thither supplies and
merchandise by dog trains as early as March 20th of
that year. But then Charles Ross, not James Douglas, is
mentioned as being in charge, as the following entry will,
" Tuesday, March 25th, 1827.— . . . About midday two
men cast up from Connolly's Lake with intelligence from
Mr. Ross that he had got a considerable increase to the furs
he had when he wrote Mr. Connolly last, and that he would
be in want of several essential articles for his summer
trade, which, though the season is advanced and much
necessary work remains yet to be done, Mr. Connolly is
determined to supply him with. It is certainly much to
be regretted 'that Mr. Ross did not forward the news
sooner; for, not expecting such a demand and such an
addition to the returns, Mr. Connolly had made no provision for it, and notwithstanding there are fifteen disposable men about this place, five only can be depended
upon for any voyage; two of that number are wanted to
prepare wood for the canoes and raise bark, so that three
only remain. As for the other ten, they are such drones
that if any of them were sent, they would not be back for
1. The original Fort Connolly stood on an island.
embarkation; and then there is still the Babine furs to be
brought here, a trip to McLeod's Lake, and Mr. McDonnell's voyage to the Upper Forks to be made."
We are drifting from Fort Connolly, and yet always
concerned with the drudgery of life in New Caledonia.
That post, therefore, was established in 1826 for the benefit
of the northern Sekanais Indians who roam in the vicinity
of the very Bear Lake whose identity had so much exercised Fraser's mind as he was on the point of starting on
his first voyage of discovery.
The journal of the central fort has become to us so
much the more precious as its earliest part has come down
to us in the shape of unconnected fragments. This will
be our excuse for reproducing the following passages, than
which no words of ours could better illustrate the difficulties under which men and masters then labored in that
isolated country.
Chief'Kwah, our old acquaintance of the second chapter,
who was not unknown to Harmon, as we have seen, is
mentioned on almost every other page as " old Qua,"
together with the quantity and quality of the furs he
brings in. One day he is shown us as making his appearance at the fort " with a most shabby hunt, consisting of
only eleven beavers." What a good hunt that would be
to-day, especially considering that the old man's expeditions were short and frequent! It was not considered so
at that time, and " in consequence [he was] treated with
the greatest indifference." Lo! the poor Indian, whose
worth and claim to the dignity of manhood are measured
by the number of animal skins he hands the white trader,
who will perhaps make thereon a profit of 500 per cent.!
From the natives we pass to the servants of the " gentlemen." They do not fare much better. Witness this
little incident:
"Monday, 31st March, 1827.— . . . Rene and Dubois
arrived about midday with the furs brought by the latter
as far as Riviere au Maskeg, where he was found by Ren£
in a state of extreme debility, originating in sickness and
heightened by privations, having, since the 25th inst, had
no other nourishment than that derived from a single
dried salmon."
The old document now takes us back to Fort Connolly
and initiates us into some of the cares weighing upon the
administration of the district.
"Friday, 2nd November, 1827.—A further supply of ammunition, etc., was also packed for Connolly's Lake, to
which post four or five men are to be sent for the winter, a
step which the existing scarcity of provisions rendered
indispensable, as it is only by proportioning the burden of
each post to its means of subsistence that we will be
enabled to escape the unsparing ravages of want."
Fraser Lake now comes in for a share of the chronicler's
"Monday, 12th November, 1827.— . . . The best summer trade I have seen at Fraser's Lake; but unfortunately
a melancholy circumstance took place a few days ago just
nigh the fort. The Grand Sauvage being encamped at a
small lake with his family, three of the Simpson River
Indians1 came upon him at night and, in revenge of the
murder of one of their relations, killed his wife and
wounded his daughter and a child. The woman being a
near relation of Yascho and the Sycuss2 Indians, couriers
had been sent with the intelligence, and Yascho was at the
village when Williams passed, but Mr. McDonnell had not
seen him.    He was apprehensive he would be unable to
1. The Skeena was originally called Simpson River by the Hudson's Bay
Company's people.
2. Or Stony Creek.
prevail upon them to remain quiet, and should they determine on going immediately to revenge the death of their
relation, it will inevitably ruin the fall hunts and the
returns will suffer, as that band are the principal beaver
hunters of Fraser's Lake."
Who said that a Hudson's Bay Company man's intellectual vision was limited to a pack of furs ?
The above occurrence—which, insignificant as it may
appear, finds its place in a work like the present, whose
aim is to reflect in its pages the particular manners of the
times referred to—recalls to mind a massacre of innocent
persons which then saddened another part of the district.
A band of Sekanais had come to enjoy the hospitality of
their Carrier friends at Pinche, on Lake Stuart. It happened that an Indian of that place, noted among his
kindred for his innate disposition to buffoonery, blackened
his face, as was customary with native " doctors," to impose
on the credulity of the strangers, at whom he stared wildly
as they were returning to their eastern mountains.
The party was headed by a chief who, owing to an accident caused by his own gun, was called Pouce-coupe', or
Thumb-cut-off, by whites and reds alike. Unfortunately,
as they were on their way back to their hunting grounds,
one of the Sekanais died after a very short illness. Persuaded that his death was the work of the Pinche " medicine-man," the whole party retraced their steps, bent on
Arrived at the south end of Lake Rey, which is parallel
to Lake Stuart, the Sekanais stealthily came upon a party
of Carrier women, with a man, camped on an island.
Falling: on them unawares, they killed the women and
wounded the man, who, feigning death, managed to escape
on the ice; then, running for dear life on the rugged
surface of the ice, without any foot-gear or hardly any
clothing, he was pursued by the whizzing of bullets and
arrows, which he so dexterously avoided that thenceforth
he was considered as possessed of no inconsiderable supernatural powers.
Whatever may be said of J. Douglas's connection with
the establishment of Fort Connolly, one thing is certain.
Early in 1828, or thereabouts, he married, Scotch fashion,
the daughter of his superior at Stuart Lake, Nellie Connolly, a maiden of perhaps fifteen summers, who was to be
known in after life as Lady Douglas. The youth's good
fortune must have excited the secret envy of his less favored fellows. At twenty-five, with a comely wife and the
brightest prospects based on his new connection, what
more could he desire ? And yet, as we shall see presently,
that very year was to be the turning-point in his life,
a year fraught with peril and pregnant with the most
momentous consequences.
We must preface our explanations with a remark.
Hardly five years had elapsed since J. M. Yale, then in
charge of Fort George, having absented himself (1823)
to pay a visit to Stuart Lake, had been stupefied to find,
on his return home, the mangled bodies of his two workmen in one of the outhouses, alongside of one of their
own axes, wherewith they had been done to death by two
Fraser Lake Indians. For his apparent neglect, Yale* was
visited with suspension from his charge and ordered to
headquarters at Stuart Lake pending the verdict of the
Council of the Company. There we momentarily saw
him, in 1825, acting as third clerk to Mr. Connolly.
His conduct having been fully investigated and himself
absolved from any blame, he was reinstated in his functions
at Fort George. The next chapter will tell us the sequel
to this affair.
1. After whom Fort Yale was to be called in after years.
An Episode and its Consequences.
FOR almost fifty years, Sir James Douglas is the
central figure in the history of British Columbia.
He was a man of many attainments and of undoubted ability, a true leader, whose memory will ever
live as that of the first successful Governor of that
province. His bust, which adorns the facade of the
magnificent Parliament buildings at Victoria, as well as
the obelisk erected in his honor in front of the imposing
pile, tell of the appreciative gratitude of the people of the
Pacific Coast.
Yet there is certainly no presumption in assuming that
not one in a thousand Canadians is aware of the fact
that to the Indian Chief of Stuart Lake, a man whom
the Hudson's Bay Company Journal of that period delights
in belittling, James Douglas owed his life and, indirectly,
his subsequent promotion to all the honors in the gift of
the Company, as well as his nomination to the post of
representative of Queen Victoria on the Pacific Coast. A
word from " Old Qua," that lowly native to whom he used
to show the cold shoulder when his hunt had not been up
to expectations, would have cut short his incipient career
and sent his ghost to the present abode of his ancestors.
Dr. Bryce, in his " Remarkable History of the Hudson's
Bay Company," relates the incident, partly after McLean,
and manages to crowd so many inaccuracies into his record
of the same and his references to New Caledonia in
general, that we think it not irrelevant to enter into some
details concerning that most fateful episode in Sir James's
early life. We will begin by Dr. Bryce's version of the
" Douglas had as his headquarters Fort St James, near
the outlet of Stuart Lake, i.e., just west of the summit of
the Rocky Mountains," he writes on page 398. " He
determined to enforce law and do away with the disorder
which prevailed in the district An Indian, who some
time before had murdered one of the servants of the
Hudson's Bay Company, had been allowed to go at large.
Judgment being long deferred, the murderer thought
himself likely to be unmolested, and visited Stuart Lake.
Douglas, learning of his presence, with a weak garrison
seized the criminal and visited vengeance on him. The
Indians were incensed, but knowing that they had to deal
with a doughty Douglas, employed stratagem in their
reprisals. The old Chief came very humbly to the fort,
and, knocking at the gate, was given admittance. He
talked the affair over with Douglas, and the matter
seemed in a fair way to be settled when another knock
was heard at the gate. The Chief stated that it was his
brother who sought to be admitted. The gate was
opened, when in rushed the whole of the Nisqually tribe.
McLean vividly describes the scene which ensued :
"' The men of the fort were overpowered ere they had
time to stand on their defence. Douglas, however, seized
a wall-piece that was mounted in the hall, and was about
to discharge it on the crowd that was pouring in upon him,
when the Chief seized him by the hands and held him fast
For an instant his life was in the utmost peril, surrounded
by   thirty   or  forty   Indians,  their   knives   drawn, and
brandishing them  over his  head  with  frantic gestures
and calling out to the Chief, " Shall we strike ?    Shall we
strike ? "
"' The Chief hesitated, and at this critical moment the
interpreter's wife (daughter of an old trader, James McDougall) stepped forward, and by her presence of mind
saved him and the establishment.
" ' Observing one of the inferior chiefs, who had always
professed the greatest friendship for the whites, standing
in the crowd, she addressed herself to him, exclaiming,
" What you a friend of the whites, and not say a word in
their behalf at such a time like this! Speak ! You know
the murderer deserved to die. According to your own
laws the deed was just. It was blood for blood. The
white men are not dogs ; they love their own kindred as
well as you.   Why should they not avenge their murder ?"
"' The moment the heroine's voice was heard the tumult
subsided; her boldness struck the savages with awe.
The chief she addressed, acting on her suggestion, interfered, and being seconded by the old Chief, who had no
serious intention of injuring the whites, and was satisfied
with showing them that they were fairly in his power,
Douglas and his men were set at liberty; and an
amicable conference having taken place, the Indians
departed, much elated with the issue of their enterprise.'"
Now this is very pathetic and even smacks slightly
of the drama; but the bare, cold facts are somewhat
different, if we are to believe eye-witnesses—one of whom
is still living near the writer—and the many Indians,
children or contemporaries of eye-witnesses, who all
agree in the following details.
For some reason, the nature of whith cannot now be
ascertained, two young men had killed two of the Company's servants, as we have seen at the end of the pre-
ceding chapter. One of them had already paid the penalty
of his crime by being secretly slain by the Company's
people, who had burned his remains in such a way as to
suggest an accident as the cause of his death.1 Several
years elapsed when, in the summer of 1828, his survivor,
Tzcelhnolle, hazarded a visit to the Stuart Lake Indians.
These, however, he found to be absent to a man, and of
the women-folk left in the camp only one is mentioned,
who had but lately been delivered of a child. Mr. Connolly was likewise away, having gone down to Alexandria
to take up the outfit for the following year, so that Mr.
Douglas was left temporarily in charge of the place.
On being told of the presence of Tzcelhnolle, that gentleman immediately took with him a few of the fort
men, armed with hoes and other garden implements, and
made for the untenanted lodges of the Indians.
Apprised of his coming by the sick woman, Tzcelhnolle,
who could easily have escaped by flight, stupidly chose to
hide himself under a pile of skins and other household
impedimenta, where he was found and brought to Douglas,
who, seizing him by the hair, asked for his name. The
now terrified young man answered that he was called
" You lie!" exclaimed Douglas, who fired at him with his
blunderbuss; but owing to the efforts of the youth to
free himself from his grasp the ball went wide of the mark,
whereupon, with hoes and the remnants of a camp-fire
near by, his assistants stunned the Indian and reduced his
lifeless body to the condition of a shapeless jelly. Then,
by order of Douglas, they passed a stout rope around his
neck and proceeded to drag him in the direction of the
1. Bancroft says that he had been killed by the Blackfeet! How awkward
of him to have gone hundreds of miles expressly to be killed by Indians of
whom none of the Carriers even so much as knew the name!
fort " The man he killed was eaten by the dogs ; by the
dogs he must be eaten," declared the inexorable clerk.
Several days, perhaps some weeks, afterwards, 'Kwah
returned with his followers. Tzcelhnolle's father also
came from Fraser Lake. The Chief was indignant at
the treatment meted out to the young man, who was a
distant relative of his, and urged, no doubt, by the
entreaties of his desolate father, he resolved to give a
good lesson to the young clerk.
Followed by a large number of his people, he boldly
went into the Indian hall, which at that time was also
the trading-room, within the dwelling-house of Connolly
and his clerks, and was greeted by Douglas, who, expecting
trouble, had previously taken the precaution of having one
of the little cannons mounted in the bastions brought into
the hall. At the sight of the excited crowd he seized the
wall-piece, but was immediately taken hold of by 'Kwah
and others, who began to reproach him with his cruelty to
his victim and demand compensation therefor.
Naturally, quite a commotion arose as a consequence.
The fort employees came from all parts to their master's
rescue, but soon realized their own powerlessness against
such numbers of natives. One of them, however, had the
presence of mind to go for the other cannon,1 which was
rudely snatched from him by the crowd, which Nancy
Boucher, the interpreter's wife, managed to keep outside.
Meanwhile Douglas's young wife bravely came in from
her sleeping apartments and took from Tzcelhnolle's father
a dagger, which, however, she had soon to return to its
owner. On the other hand, Tlceng, 'Kwah's nephew and
presumptive heir, was pointing to Douglas's breast the
Chiefs own poniard, the same wherewith the latter had
i. These small pieces were mounted with a stout handle like a rocket.
fought the Naskhu'tins, and kept impatiently asking his
I Shall I strike ? Shall I strike ? Say the word and I
stab him."
Which hearing, the women, screaming and crying,
implored the Chief to have pity on the white man,
promising all kinds of gifts if they spared his life.
Nathadilhthcelh joined his advice to their entreaties and
reminded his relative of the consideration with which he
had so far been treated by the Company, and strongly
counselled him not to allow any bloodshed. Then the
two ladies, running upstairs, began to throw1 in the midst
of the crowd tobacco, handkerchiefs, pieces of attire, and
other goods, which served for a time to divert the attention
of the natives from the now fairly cowed Douglas. Then
'Kwah, who never had any real intention to kill the clerk,
signified his acceptance of the gifts as a compensation for
Tzcelhnolle's death, and bade his followers quietly return
to their homes, as the " incident was closed."
The above is a careful digest of all the accounts of the
affair by disinterested native and surviving Hudson's Bay
Company parties, and the writer has no doubt as to its
perfect correctness. Let us now return to Dr. Bryce's
version of the same and scrutinize some of his statements.
In the first place, his misapprehension regarding the
position of Stuart Lake is so much the more inexcusable,
as a glance at any map of British Columbia would have
shown him that that locality is not "just west of the
summit of the Rocky Mountains." As a matter of fact,
Fort St. James, on that body of water, lies almost two
hundred miles west of the nearest peak within that range.
I. To throw to is, to a Carrier Indian, synonymous with to present, to
give as a mark of deference; and the action of the ladies, by recalling the
"potlatches" then in vogue, was well calculated to placate the invaders.
That Dr. Bryce is irretrievably mixed about the true
location of his hero's residence is apparent from the fact
that, two pages farther on, he speaks of the above incident
as Douglas's adventure " in the Rocky Mountains," and
again refers to his "stay in this part of the mountains."'
According to that writer, Douglas's motive in acting as
he did was his wish to " enforce law." The reader knows
by this time the real amount of legality there was in the
execution of an untried individual, of whose identity he
was not even sure. Indeed, so hasty and imprudent was
his conduct in that connection that it eventually led to his
recall from New Caledonia, where his life had become
anything but secure. Hence, Dr. Bryce is hardly in order
when he speaks of the "judgment having been deferred."
As we already know, the Hudson's Bay Company in New
Caledonia never held anything like a juridical trial.
As to the would-be stratagem resorted to by the Indians,
none of the survivors or their immediate descendants ever
heard of it. Such crookedness and premeditation are
altogether repugnant to excited aborigines, even though
they have to " deal with a doughty Douglas." We beg to
assure the reverend gentleman that 'Kwah and his people
were very little familiar with their intended victim's pedigree. To them he was but a poor voung man in such
straitened circumstances that he consented to attend to
the most menial of occupations, fishing for a living, which
they themselves left to their women.
But where the Winnipeg writer's remarks verge on the
ludicrous is when he unhesitatingly declares that " the
whole of the Nisqually tribe " rushed on to Douglas. We
would like to know by what miracle of bilocation that
tribe, whose habitat is in the State of Washington, over
eight hundred miles to the south of Stuart Lake, should
i. P. 400.
have suddenly appeared at Fort St. James, even to oblige
'Kwah against the doughty Douglas. Evidently Bryce
might improve his geographical notions, or else he is very
careless in transcribing names.1
I This story has been harped in variations by almost as
many authors as have given us gunpowder plots." This is
from H. H. Bancroft,2 who furnishes us himself with a
dramatized version of the incident, which he bases on J.
Tod, an excellent authority, to be sure, but one who was
at least eighty miles away at the time of its occurrence.
Moreover, we make bold to doubt whether that trader ever
went to the length of stating that one of the Fort George
murderers was killed by the Blackfeet According to'
Bancroft, Douglas, in search of the survivor, " found his eye
in close proximity to an arrow-point"; and yet he admits
that the Indian was hidden under " a pile of camp equipage," a rather uncomfortable position, we should say, to
bend his bow, the hard and powerful Carrier bow so much
dreaded by Mackenzie's men. Bancroft speaks of no
stratagem, but describes the fort gates as suddenly invaded
by two hundred savages with blackened faces, who finally
bind Douglas hand and foot and carry him away to the
1. His ethnographical notions concerning the aborigines he mentions are
hardly more satisfactory. He still speaks of the Indians north of the Crees as
the " Tinne," a misnomer to which the present writer has time and again
called attention in publications within the Doctor's reach. A page farther on
he states, that " to the Selish or Flatheads belong many of the tribes of the
Lower Fraser River, while the Shushwaps hold the country on the Columbia
and Okanagan Rivers " (p. 433). It is quite refreshing to leam that the
Shushwaps are distinct from the Selish. To be exact, Dr. Bryce should also
have stated that all, not many, of the tribes of the Lower Fraser (and many
more-on Vancouver Island and the opposite mainland of the United States)
belong to the Selish group of aborigines. Again, we would like to know
what are that author's authorities for his statement that the Shushwaps'
habitat is "on the Columbia and Okanagan Rivers."    See Appendix B.
2. " History of the North-West," Vol. II., p. 475.
.    i
mess room, where they lay him at full length upon the
table. None of the Indians have heard of such an indignity as having been inflicted on the young clerk.
Even John McLean cannot be relied on when he relates
that occurrence. He admits himself that its particulars
were furnished him long after the event by Waccan, the
interpreter; but at the time of the affray, J. B. Boucher,
dil Waccan, was one hundred and forty miles away, on a
" war expedition " to avenge the murder by the Babines of
his half-brother,1 Duncan Livingston. That half-breed,
who had been from his youth a trusted servant of the
Company, was then married to J. McDougall's daughter,
and the fact that he was McLean's informant accounts for
the heroic r61e that author attributes to [Waccan] the
interpreter's wife, a r61e which was in reality played by
Douglas's recently wedded spouse.2
After the humiliating experience above related, Mr.
Douglas and his confederates of Fort St. James must have
been in sad need of some restraining influence to keep
them in the path of prudence and moderation while dealing with the Indians. This most providentially came to
them in the shape of no less a personage than the Governor of the freshly reorganized Company, Mr. (afterwards
Sir George) Simpson, That gentleman was himself but
a young man so far as years go ; but his official position
and incumbent responsibilities, combined with his natural
i. McLean wrongly says " adopted brother."
2. Fearing for the legality of his marriage, Douglas was no sooner within
reach of a clergyman than he sought to be re-married by a Rev. Mr. Beaver.
At that early date the higher authorities of the Hudson's Bay Company had
not as yet legislated on the subject; but in 1845 the Council held at Norway
House on the 7th of June decreed (Resolution 85) that " in the absence of a
clergyman, Chief Factors only solemnize marriages, and that no person be
permitted to take a wife at any establishment without the sanction of the
gentleman in charge of the district."
tact, made him a man of good counsel and worthy of his
inferiors' deference.
Shortly after his accession to his high position, he
decided upon a tour of inspection of the different posts
retained after the amalgamation of the two companies, so
as to be the better able to pass judgment on possible difficulties and proffer advice or take measures based on personal knowledge of the men and places. Starting on July
12th, 1828, from York Factory, on Hudson's Bay, his party
entered the Peace River region after the incredibly short
time of a little over a month; yet he not only inspected
most thoroughly all the forts lying along his route, but
even had conferences with the natives and others to ascertain their needs and wishes and gratify them with an
occasional bit of fatherly advice or even of discreet reprimand, as the case might be.
By the 17th of September, 1828, he was in sight of Lake
Stuart. The Governor was a man of rare sense and penetration, who realized that to inferior minds externals and
the paraphernalia of state are adjuncts conducive to an
easier acquiescence in orders and direction.1 Fort St.
James was the emporium of New Caledonia, the capital of
an immense district new to the Hudson's Bay Company.
Therefore, it was resolved to impress its inhabitants, and
especially the natives in its vicinity, with a sense of the
importance of the new corporation through the honors
paid its head.
1. At times he would even go further and resort to expedients which
smacked somewhat of trickery, in order to enhance his prestige in the eyes of
simple folk. Thus, in the course of his famous journey across the continent,
he had a dog to the neck of which he had attached a diminutive music-box in
such a way that, once started, its performance seemed to be due to the
animal's throat. To this day Governor Simpson is remembered by the Carrier
Indians as the " Great Chief whose dog sings," and none of them ever entertained the least doubt concerning the musical abilities of his dog.
As they neared the lake, which could be seen from a
gentle elevation some distance back of the fort, they unfurled the British ensign, which was handed to the guide
marching at the head of the procession. Then, preceded
by the band, consisting of buglers and bagpipers, came the
Governor on horseback, supported behind by Doctor Ham-
lyn and Chief. Factor McDonald, also mounted ; twenty
men packing burdens next formed the line; then one horse
loaded, and, lastly, Mr. McGillivray with his wife and family
closed the rear.1
Arriving in view of the fort itself, the bugles sounded,
a gun was fired, and the bagpipes struck up one of the
favorite marches of the clans. Clerk Douglas, in the
absence of his superior, now daily expected from Fort
Alexandria, replied with cannon and musketry, after which
he advanced in front of the fort to receive the distinguished visitor. After the mutual exchange of civilities,
pipers and buglers entered the enclosure, and marching
along the inside gallery contiguous to the palisade,
paraded in full view of hundreds of wondering natives.
Two hours later a large canoe was sighted in the southwest, and amidst a renewal of military display, William
Connolly returned to his post in company with a few employees. Next day the other canoes came up, bringing
the outfits and the remainder of the fort's men, under the
command of J. M. Yale.
In the face of all this pomp and apparent bravado,
joined to the remarkable coincidence of the Chief Factor's
return with his own party, the poor bewildered natives
may well be excused for having supposed that the newcomers had no object in mind but to avenge the affront
offered their Company in the person of Mr. Douglas.2   The
i. "A Canoe Voyage from Hudson's Bay to Pacific," pp. 24-25.
2. The Governor's party consisted of at least thirty grown-up persons,
and after Connolly's return the force disposable at the fort cannot have been
less than sixty men. 14c
invitation to a conference with the " Great Chief" was not
calculated to dispel that impression. Yet it was accepted
by the native population, and nobody had reason to regret
his having yielded to the stranger's advances, since presents
and friendly advice took the place of the violent scene the
Indians had expected, and for which they had fully prepared themselves.
The chronicler of Simpson's doings and sayings during
his journey—Archibald McDonald—says in his journal
that " the chief that headed the party which entered the
fort in the summer was pointed at with marked contempt,
and it was only Mr. Douglas's intercession and forgiveness
that saved him from further indignities," a not improper
step on the part of the Governor and a generous conduct
much to the honor of the young clerk, if truthfully recorded.
We would, however, be more ready to give credence to
either statement was not McDonald to add immediately
after his mention of Mr. Simpson's superb contempt
for the culprit, that "at the close of the harangue, the chief
had a glass of rum, a little tobacco, and a shake of the
hand from the 'Great Chief'"1—a rather novel way of
showing scorn, we should say. As to Mr. Douglas's
magnanimous forgiveness, we shall see presently in what
it consisted.
After the Governor's departure for the coast, the directing minds at Fort St. James seem to have been fretting
more or less at the thought of the humiliating part that
gentleman and confederates had been forced to play in
their encounter with 'Kwah and his people. Evidently
they were bent on having the last word.
Even at that early date, and probably more then than
ever, the recurrence of a New Year was the occasion of
great gala at all the Hudson's Bay Company's posts in New
I.  " Peace River," p. 28.
Caledonia. As the clock struck twelve at night, the servants would fire a volley with their muskets, and go in a
body to pay their respects and offer their best wishes to
the bourgeois, who would treat them to a good share of the
cup that inebriates. In the forenoon it was the Indians'
turn. Head chief and petty chiefs would lead their people
to the fort, and, after a handshake with the presiding
officer, the former would be presented with a whole suit of
clothes and other commodities (in return wherefor they
were expected to help the traders with their influence
during the incoming year), while the others would receive
minor gifts proportionate to the rank and dignity of the
recipient. But the most appreciated of the favors conferred on that day was probably the share in the good
Hudson's Bay Company's rum, which set everybody aglow,
and eager for the dance which followed, when it did not
occasion even more lively and less friendly scenes.
On New Year's Day, 1829, four months after the above-
mentioned differences, the Company's authorities at Stuart
Lake were extraordinarily generous in their distribution of
spirits among the Indians, so much so that all the leading
men in their midst got helplessly drunk, when, at a signal,
all the women and such of the men as were not wanted,
were driven out of the fort, and the engage's, falling on the
prostrate forms of the leaders, gave them such a drubbing
as probably no Indian had ever received before. The head
chief only was spared. It was felt that to touch 'Kwah
would make matters altogether too disagreeable in the near
future. His nephew Tlceng also managed somehow to
crawl out of the lion's den.
The others were not a little surprised to find themselves
bruised and swollen all over on regaining possession of
their senses. Bad blood ensued, the natives became sullen,
and it became evident that Douglas's life would be more
secure on the banks of the Columbia than in the wilds of
New Caledonia.
None of the authors who have mentioned the Douglas
episode relate this finale. It is undoubtedly to this last
incident that the mysterious remark refers that " there are
other interesting circumstances connected with this affair,"
which the author found pencilled on the copy of McLean's
book in the Parliamentary Library, at Victoria, British
James Douglas managed to stay one year after the above
recited occurrences. Then, " conformably to the orders of
the Council,"1 he left Stuart Lake on the 30th of January,
1830,2 leaving behind him his wife, with a sick infant
daughter, who died on the 2nd of March of the same
year. Two months later (5th May), Mrs. Douglas set out
to join her husband, who in the course of five years was
to rise to the coveted position of Chief Factor.
1. Fort St. James Journal.
2. All the authors have so far wrongly stated that he retired therefrom in
Connolly and Dease at Stuart Lakt
rO the outsider, one of the mysteries of the fur-trade
is the voracious appetite of the Hudson's Bay
Company for furs, such as manifested by its
journals. The native hunters are no sooner back with
their packs of pelts than, presto! they are hurried off to
their hunting-grounds again. Should they wish to enjoy
a little rest at home, the most opprobrious epithets—
wretches, good-for-nothing scoundrels, lazy rascals, and the
like—rain on their devoted heads from the pens of the
chroniclers. Had there been a danger of the precious
skins finding another destination than the warehouses of
the Company, such eagerness would be intelligible ; but
for years and years that corporation enjoyed the strictest
monopoly within New Caledonia, and the uncontrollable
avidity of its representatives there could have but one
result: the utter extermination of the fur-bearing animals,
especially the beaver, towards which that region is now
fast approaching. American aborigines are noted for their
improvidence. Must we lay the same charge at the doors
of the Hudson's Bay Company? A person not a fur-
trader would be tempted to answer affirmatively.
Year in and year out, the Stuart Lake Journal is made
up of the recital of the furs received from the natives.
This is but natural.    What to us seems extravagant is the
desolation of the chroniclers when there remain hunters in
their vicinity, and the loud exclamations of disappointment when a party's hunt has been a failure. Scorn and
reproaches then seem the order of the day, just as jubilation and grateful encomiums attend the reception of the
more successful trappers.    Here is an example of the latter :
114th December, 1829.— . . . Chatlustas' little party
brought in their hunts, which form collectively a very
valuable and exceedingly respectable quantity of furs, consisting of eighty-two beaver skins, four otters, three marten,
a cat [lynx], and a few [musk-] rats. The beaver is of the
finest quality and very nicely dressed.
I The old man, who so far had been so lazy, having so
highly distinguished himself by this display of energy,
was in consequence treated with a becoming degree of
civility and received a capot as a mark of Mr. Connolly's
satisfaction. His son-in-law was gratified with a pair of
cloth leggings, and his son with a breech cloth. Then, to
crown the whole, a quart of French rum was added for the
general benefit, and with this they marched off in high glee."
This same avidity for furs at times prompted even little
jealousies between the managers of the different posts,
which at this late date we can afford to enjoy. At least
one man has come down to us as a victim of that foible.
His name was Alexander Fisher, and at the time of which
we write he had just succeeded George McDougall in the
charge of Alexandria. His neighbor in the south was
Samuel Black, who was, some years later, to meet with a
tragic death at the hands of his own Indians at Fort Kam-
Fisher was one of those men who seem weighed down
with personal wrongs, real or imaginary, and who do not
feel at ease unless they have somebody to fulminate
against.    Black, on the other hand, to judge from his private
correspondence, must have been a good-natured man, who
saw life through rose-colored glasses and had not a little
sense of the ludicrous, as we infer from the following communication, which we are inclined to regard in the light of
a satire on his correspondent's well-known foibles. He
writes to Fisher on the 29th of October, 1832 :
" Lolo and three men leave this place to-day to make the
usual round of the natives about the Canoe,1 from thence
across to North River, along Fraser River as far as the
Canoe or thereabouts. Lolo has orders to trade all the
salmon he can, and to send word to you to send for them
for the use of your post2 He may trade about two thousand, i.e., if the pass of fall salmon has been as abundant
about Canoe as at Fountain, he may trade more ; but will
send you some mark, besides the numberjof horses to be
sent by you for the fish. Lolo may trade about the Canoe
for the benefit of your post.    .    .    .
" Lolo tells me of the many tricks wherewith you deceive
the Indians, such as making holy water in wash hand-
basins, dressing up your cook to make him hold it, walking
about the house with a whitewash brush in your hand with
many mumblings and magical words, sprinkling the natives
in said holy water, telling them that if they do not come to
your place to dance and bring their furs with them this fall,
they will be swallowed up like another Sodom into a fiery
furnace or boiling caldron . . . thereby frightening the
Indians from walking on God's earth and going about their
usual occupations. However, as some of these poor devils
may have resisted such an imposition on their understanding which you practise in order to get their furs, Lolo makes
his usual tour among the natives belonging to this district,
1. Canoe Creek.
2. Two years before Fisher had himself asked for four thousand salmon
from Black.
being instructed by no means or pretence whatever to interfere in any way or trade a single skin from any Indian that
has been accustomed to frequent your post. At the same
time he is to get information as to the truth of the reports
concerning your proceedings, and when he returns and
gives me the necessary proofs of so infamous tricks as aforesaid, I shall, for the remainder of the season, act accordingly
for the general interest of the Honorable Hudson's Bay
Company, not to get the Indians' furs for one year, but for
always, and in order to establish the respectability of the
Company . . . and make truth triumph against
jugglery, tricks and profanations of God's holy rites and
sacraments.    .    .    ."
Fisher was prompt in his reply, of which we regret to
have but the first part before us. On the morrow of the
receipt of Black's letter he wrote from Alexandria :
" I have to acknowledge the receipt of your epistle of the
29th October on 6th November, per Lolo, your interpreter.
Under the mask or mantle of obliging me with salmon,
which you suppose is wanted for this post . . . you
direct your men and interpreter to continue to ruin the
trade of this district and run through the natives of this
" In my letter of the 5 th October I took the liberty to
request you to keep your men, women and children at your
own establishment or within its limits. A month thereafter,
day for day, your interpreter (Lolo) is again at the post or
fort of Alexandria, which amply bears me out in my statements that your threats of opposition have been put into
practice long ago and are still continued.
" There was no need of this salmon, as you knew well,
having sent a supply to me of 12 th. [12,000] prior to this
finesse of yours ; but I shall send for them, to save this
property from being lost to the Honorable Hudson's Bay
Company, Lolo having left them in the hands of the
Indians. I regret to find myself situated as I am (your
neighbor) ; for it is evident you wish to get me or yourself
into trouble.   I have with great caution avoided you. . . ."
Here Fisher's correspondence breaks off, and we feel we
lose something by the disappearance of the sheet or sheets
of paper containing his reply to Black's accusations of
jugglery, etc., were it only the occasion of a good smile at
the expense of the poor rapacious trader, who was in dead
earnest, whatever may have been Black's real intentions or
Rapacious is a strong word, but Fisher's propensity for
drawing unto himself by hook and crook undoubtedly
warrants it He was bent on appropriating the trade of
others, though he was soon to complain again to headquarters at Stuart Lake of encroachments on his own
territory, and though we shall see him vituperating a subordinate for appropriating one of his own men. Indeed,
the Stuart Lake Journal for 1830 discreetly charges him
with keeping by himself fifteen steel traps, instead of
sending them up to headquarters, as directed by Mr.
We have mentioned above George McDougall's departure from Alexandria. In 1827 he had accompanied the
New Caledonia packet bound for the east through Tete
Jaune Cache, then freshly discovered, which was to become
famous in the annals of the Hudson's Bay Company west
of the Rockies. From that time forth the Company was
to send yearly two expeditions outside of the New
Caledonia limits. One, composed of four or five canoes,
which, with increasing prosperity and consequent wants,
were soon to be discarded for as many boats, was despatched to Alexandria, there to meet the pack-trains, consisting of two hundred or two hundred and fifty horses from
the Columbia, through Okanagan and Kamloops, loaded
with the equipment of all the northern posts. The other
party was sent east to Jasper House through Tete Jaune
Cache, a route which in later years was abandoned for the
Peace River Pass. The object of that expedition was
to get a supply of leather, i.e., dressed moose or cariboo
skins, which, scarce in the west, Indians and engage's
needed to make moccasins, bags, ropes, pieces of attire, etc.
The original Tete Jaune Cache, also called Leather Pass
from the above mentioned circumstance, was at the first
forks of the Fraser with the Rocky Mountains, at a place
where an important branch comes from the north. A
yellow-haired trapper (tite jaune being the French for
yellow head) was responsible for its name, as that Indian,
who was an Iroquois, used to cache or put up in a
temporary store or shelter the furs he had procured in
those mountain fastnesses. The scenery in the pass is
" grand and striking beyond description. At the bottom of
a narrow rocky gorge, whose sides were clothed with dark
pines, or, higher still, with light green shrubs, the boiling,
impetuous Fraser dashed along. On every side the snowy
heads of mighty hills crowded round, whilst immediately
behind us, a giant among giants and immeasurably supreme,
rose Robson's Peak. This magnificent mountain is of
conical form, glacier-clothed, and rugged."1-'
In the near vicinity of the pass roams a band of Shush-
wap Indians who, owing to the perfect seclusion of their
quarters, were still, at a comparatively late date, destitute
of most of the comforts of civilization. When Viscount
Milton passed there in 1863 "they were clothed merely in*
a shirt and marmot robe, their legs and feet were naked,
and their long black hair the only covering to their heads.
1. " The North-West Passage by Land," Viscount Milton and W. B.
Cheadle, pp. 252-3.
Those Shushwaps of the Rocky Mountains inhabit the
country in the neighborhood of Jasper's House, and so far
as Tete Jaune Cache on the western slope."1
The route and distance of that pass, with which almost
every Hudson's Bay Company employee within New Caledonia was for a long time so familiar, is best illustrated by
a memorandum of Geo. McDougall's own trip, which lies
before us :
"On the 18th of March, 1827," he writes, " I left Stuart
Lake with a New Caledonia packet, to cross the Rocky
Mountains by Tete Jaune Cache. From Stuart Lake I
took five days to get to the Forks, or where Fort George
now is. I remained there one day (say 23rd), writing and
repairing sleds, etc. On the 24th we again started, proceeding up the Fraser River on the ice. The seventh
day (March 30th), we got to Tete Jaune Cache, where we
lost one day looking for Indians, to get provisions from
them, but could not find them. On the 1st of April we
left Tete Jaune Cache, but from having only temporary
snowshoes, that could hardly support us on the snow, our
guide, the Gauche, being so bad with . . . disease,
could not keep up with us, which caused us frequently
to lose our way, and owing to the quantity of snow, with
the very soft weather we had when crossing the Portage,
we only reached Jasper's House on the morning of the
18th of April, 1827."
Having taken a holiday hunting buffalo in the neighborhood of Fort Carlton, McDougall returned to Stuart Lake
after the usual vicissitudes of a long journey. There he
was sorry to find his brother James in a deplorable state
of health, but felt some satisfaction in having brought him
I his woman.    She will  be a good nurse for him,"  he
1. " The North-West Passage by Land," Viscount Milton and W. B.
Cheadle, pp. 252-3.
wrote, after his return to Alexandria, where he was
pleased to see that " hostilities had ceased between his
own Carriers and the Chilcotins." But he had to remark
that I sheer starvation had caused the death of many
among our Alexandria Indians." |
This unfortunate state of affairs appears to have been
chronic in that quarter, as we see from the following statements by Mr. Connolly, which add a little to our knowledge of the relations then existing between Black and
" Sunday, 7th of November, 1830.— ... I am sorry
to learn that the fishery below has been so unproductive
that the Indians had not been able to secure a sufficiency
of provisions to meet their own wants, and that with much
difficulty only 2,598 salmon have been obtained for the use
of the men of the establishment. This quantity, added
to the old stock, formed a total of 10,298 salmon ; but
that number appears so insufficient to Mr. Fisher that
he had sent to Kamloops for 4,000 more, which Mr. Black
very kindly furnished him, although his own prospects
of obtaining a stock adequate to the consummation of
his post were by no means certain.
" In consequence of quarrels between the Indians who
inhabit the banks of the Fraser River, called Atnahs
[Shushwaps], and their neighbors farther down, the former
entirely neglected their fisheries, and they are now all
assembled at the rapid without possessing any means of
subsisting. Such an assemblage of starved wretches so
near the establishment gives us very just grounds of apprehension that they will fall upon our horses before the
winter is over, but I hope that we will have the means of
preventing them from carrying their depredations to any
1. MS. letter, March 8th, 1828.
Times were more cheerful at Stuart Lake. Would the
reader like to learn how New Year's Day was spent
there in 1830? It was kept not on the first but on the
14th of January, though the first of the month did not
fall on Sunday. Might not the reason of that postponement have been that the whites at the fort were apprehensive of some kind of retaliation by the Indians on the
anniversary of their own chastisement ? What we know
for certain is that the fort employees did not lose anything by having waited for their traditional holiday.
Even the Journal man himself is naively proud of the
good things that were spread at their mess. Let the
reader rather judge for himself.
" 14th of January, 1830.—This day was celebrated the
return of the New Year, and nothing was heard but the
sounds of mirth and jollity. Feasting, carousing, dancing
and singing were the order of the day. The means of
feasting were, all things considered, very ample, the men
having received among them no less than fifteen dogs,
thirty-four pounds of flour, one and a half quart of salt,
and one pound of pepper. They were also gratified with
the customary allowance of one pint of rum per man."
Ten days later other cares succeed, for the manager of
the district, the carousals of New Year's Day. He becomes '
anxious about the fate of the new establishment at Chilcotin, which, on the 23rd of February, it is decided to
abandon, a step which must- have been countermanded at
the last moment, as we see, some time after, the occupant
of the place struggling against the ill-will of the natives.
Nearer home the Journal of the " capital" records the
thousand and one little incidents whose aggregate forms
what we call life. To-day it is Gagnon who is sent to
burn some wood in order to make soap, which doing he
allows the fire to spread, whereupon a general conflagration
ensues in the woods behind the fort. On the morrow the
blacksmith is shown us in the act of making an auger—
not so bad for such a place. Next day, news of an
alarming character is communicated by the Indians.
The Mal-de-gorge—by which significant sobriquet is
designated Nathadilhthcelh, the quondam youth who swam
across Stuart River with a brother and a sister on his
back—sends word that one of his people has fired
at and seriously wounded one of several strange Indians
who were skulking about their camp in the woods, an
incident which causes the whole party to come home, to
the great consternation of the authorities at the fort, who
for some time endeavor vainly to coax the natives into
returning to their hunting-grounds. Knowing that the
deed will be avenged by the foreigners, probably now
lurking in wait for their prey, nobody seems in a hurry to
listen to the expostulations from the traders.
Then an event of a greater magnitude is recorded. It
is the arrival, on the 12th of November, 1830, of Chief
Factor Peter Warren Dease, who comes to succeed W.
Connolly as manager of the whole district. But a few
years before Dease was a Chief Trader, who conducted
the material part of the Franklin Expedition from 1825
to 1827, and in the latter year he was in the far south in
charge of the Flathead post. On the 13th of August,
1828, Governor Simpson sent him, in the course of his
famous journey overland, a Chief Factor's commission
as a reward for his share in the above mentioned expedition.1
John McLean, who lived with him for a short time, says
that he was one of the kindest and most considerate of
men, a certificate of good character which is so much the
more   precious, as   the  man who  worded  it was  little
1. Dease had been made a Chief Trader in 1821.
accustomed to bestow such encomiums on Hudson's Bay
Company people.
The change in the management of the district seems to
have been so sudden and unexpected that we may not be
much astray in supposing that Connolly's retirement was
not altogether voluntary on his part. What may have
been the reasons of his superiors in withdrawing, not to
say dismissing, him from his post ? It cannot be that they
were dissatisfied with his management of the business
interests confided to him, for never were these in so
flourishing a condition. For this assertion we have the
best of authorities, that of Governor Simpson himself.
In a private letter addressed, in 1847, to one of Connolly's
successors, the Governor writes that, in spite of the satisfactory state of affairs in New Caledonia, " there is still
. . . much room for amendment to bring it up to the
palmy days of Connolly, from which time it has been
gradually declining."1
On the other hand, that gentleman never hints in his
journal, which is quite detailed and full of notes of a
personal nature, at any reason for being dissatisfied with
his post until he suddenly chronicles the fact that Mr.
Chief Factor Dease, who "has been appointed to New
Caledonia," is to arrive on the morrow. We can suggest
but one explanation. The part Connolly had taken in
avenging, on New Year's Day, 1829, the affront offered his
son-in-law, had come to the ears of the Governor and
Council, who must have also learned of the restlessness
it had caused among the natives. The time necessary
to receive the intelligence of the true state of affairs and
take the proper measures in consequence thereof had just
1. MS. letter from Norway House to D. Manson, July 1st. Simpson
admits that " this decline in the returns is due chiefly to the gradual exhaustion
of the country," a statement which fully bears us out in our initial remarks.
elapsed when Dease made his appearance at Fort St.
James, unheralded by anybody but himself1 only one day
before his arrival.
That this is not a wild conjecture is shown by the fact
that the resentment of the Stuart Lake Indians was known
far and wide, and Francis Ermatinger, writing from Kam-
loops to J. McLeod at Norway House, the headquarters of
the Company in America, had but lately said : " From
New Caledonia we have had no communication through
the winter, owing perhaps to the natives being still irrecon-
ciled to the death of the two murderers killed there in
Be this as it may, W. Connolly stayed a few months
more at Fort St. James, apparently to familiarize his
successor with the routine of his new position. In July,
1831, he was gone, never again to return. He seems to
have been a most painstaking man, bent on succeeding
by any means, fair or foul, in his search after pelts. He
was certainly not sparing of intoxicants to the native trappers whenever luck had favored them.
Dease and Connolly probably went down together, the
one to take up the outfit for the new fiscal year, and the
other on his way to more civilized quarters. Thomas
Dears, a senior clerk, had been left momentarily in charge
of the district. In the account he sends his new superior
of what had transpired at headquarters since his departure,
Dears first mentions a great feast given by Chief'Kwah,
to witness which numerous Indians had gathered from all
parts. For the sake of personal security he had kept all
his men in the fort, and though he speaks of the whole
affair as having passed off quietly, he is obliged to add, as
a reminder of the danger of such gatherings :
1. Through a letter he wrote Connolly.
2. MS. letter, dated March 14th, 1829.
| On the Indians of Fond du Lac embarking . . . old
Qua abruptly left his lodge with his bow and arrows.
The Indians of Fond du Lac seeing him sally forth, they
immediately put themselves on the defensive. At this
moment a quarrel commenced in the fort between a Sic-
cane and another Indian. They put a stop to the former
quarrel, and by a little persuasion on our part, and as they
did not seem very keen for battle, harmony was restored."1
Another particular which seems to have made more
impression on the mind of Dease's lieutenant at Stuart
Lake is the danger of a possible competition in the fur-
trade from an unexpected quarter, as evidenced by the
goods brought back by his Indians from a feast at the
| Upper Forks."
" It is reported by the Indians," he adds, "that they can
get blankets at one beaver the point, shirts one, guns four,
and so on. . . . From the assortment of articles, I think
they must have seen Europeans frequently, that is to say,
those of the Coast. Probably some vessel has remained
some time among them. Anethlash, an Indian chief of
the Coast, who was present at the Upper Forks' feast, told
Yosecha's party that he intended paying them a visit with
property for sale, and wished them to keep a few beavers
on hand."
Then, to his evident chagrin, he has to remark that some
of the Fraser Lake Indians have already gone there to
trade. Reverting to happenings nearer home, he says that
a party of six Babines had come to the portage between
their lake and Lake Stuart to kill some of the Indians
there. But he had been informed that, after stabbing
a young man, they let themselves be appeased by the
presents offered them, upon which happy termination
Dears somewhat  naively comments:   | On  hearing this
i. MS. letter, July, 1831.
it gave me satisfaction, for had they succeeded in their
horrid intentions it would have prevented many from
A month later, August 16th, Dears speaks of an epidemic
breaking out among 'Kwah's recent guests, and hints at
further difficulties in other quarters.
1 Mr. Roussain," he writes, " in his official letter to me
(which I enclose for your perusal) says that Whoenke
wishes to kill Wastiyaps. This I am of opinion that
gentleman must have learnt from Whoenke's enemies, and
from the information I have had and the general opinion
here, I think he has not a few, and I presume it is only
a report started by them to create a variance between the
whites and him."1
That same month, from a very different quarter, came a
bit of information which illustrates one of the minor
difficulties against which the traders had to contend. The
Sekanais of Finlay River had complained to William Todd,
then stationed at Fort McLeod, that so far they had been supplied with an entirely inadequate quantity of ammunition,
which at that time was given free ; but the fact soon became
apparent that what had been sent them of that article the
previous fall would have lasted throughout the winter had
they not been so imprudent as to gamble it away with a
party of Indians they met at the Rocky Mountain Portage.
To them | they lost not only every load of powder, but
likewise every other article of use with which they had been
previously furnished, which was the cause of their suffering
much in the course of the winter."2
i. Roussain was a Canadian then in charge of Fort Babine, who wrote, in
a beautiful hand, excellent French, disfigured by unbecoming misspellings.
In that connection we may state here that all the Hudson's Bay Company
officers of that time were as much familiar with French as with English.
2. MS. letter from W. Todd to P. W. Dease, August 28th, 1831.
162  11
This same clerk, Thomas Dears, was, on Mr. Dease's
return, entrusted with the charge of Fort Connolly, a change
he does not seem to have relished overmuch, though he was
more than pleased with the Sekanais who traded with him.
But in such an isolated place in the far north, where he had
six feet of snow at his very door, he thought a person was
entitled to a remuneration commensurate with the inconveniences under which he labored. So, in a letter to
Dease,1 he remarked that if his salary was not increased
to £100 he would leave the country in the autumn of 1833.
His threat does not seem to have had the result anticipated,
for this is about the last we hear of him in the mass of
correspondence before us.
Another departure (this time probably a dismissal) was
soon to leave a second place vacant at the opposite
extremity of the district. The horses used in packing the
outfits from the Columbia River to Alexandria were
generally left to winter at the latter place, though some
were at times sent to Fort Kamloops, where the cold was
not so severe nor the snow so deep. Others passed the
winter at Fraser Lake, and as early in the season as February (1832) several had already died of disease or of
accident. In announcing this to his superior at Stuart
Lake, their keeper, a certain D. McKenzie, console
him with the remark that " my philosophy teaches me to
believe that there is a fate in these casualties, and all good
Calvinists give belief to predestination."2 One would
hardly have expected to find a fur-trader talking theology
in the wilds of New Caledonia. It seems, however, that
his principles did not appear quite sound to his employers,
who made haste to send him away to familiarize himself
with other schools of thought.
1. February 5th, 1832. ■ v
2. MS. letter to P. W. Dease, February 20th, 1832.
Meanwhile, in the south Black's friend, Alexander Fisher,
was constantly pondering over people's encroachments on
his rights, and importuning Dease to such an extent with
his recriminations that the latter assigned to him a band of
Indians whose hunting-grounds were intermediate between
Alexandria and Kamloops, a decision of which Fisher
triumphantly notified Black by a letter dated September
14th, 1832.
A year later a clerk of many years' standing in the
service came from the east, who was, after a brief stay in
the country, to embody his impressions and give vent to
his grievances in a book on the twenty-five years he had
worked for the Hudson's Bay Company. John McLean
is, among the Company's people, the only author who has
ever written, from a personal knowledge, about New Caledonia.' As regards veracity, impartiality, keenness of
mind in observing and sureness of judgment, John McLean
is vastly inferior to Harmon, who, having no grudge against
anybody, was not exposed to see his statements warped by
the influence of personal feeling.
We will permit ourselves to quote but one instance of
McLean's unreliability. Contrasting the Carriers' religious notions with those of the Ojibways, he says: " The
Tekelly [he means the Carrier] says: ' The toad hears
me!'"2 for an oath; while those Indians' sole formula in
such cases was, in McLean's time, " The Being-on-high
hears me." He asserts that they have no idea of a soul,
no words to express the name of the Deity, of the spirit, or
of the soul.3   Yet from time immemorial they have called
i. We do not mention Chief Factor A. McDonald's " Peace River,"
which is merely the journal of Governor Simpson's voyage, nor Harmon's
book, because its author was a North-West Company man.
2. " Notes of a Twenty-five Years' Service in the Hudson's Bay Territory,"
Vol. II., p. 265.
the Deity Yuttoere, a spirit ni, and as for the idea of the
soul, they have no less than three words to express it,
according to the standpoint of the speaker, who may consider it as animating the body, as hovering about and thus
presaging death, or as separated from the body in after
life. Had McLean so many terms at his command to
render a single idea ?
McLean arrived at Stuart Lake in the fall of 1833. He
soon had a reminder of the insecurity of life in the far west
in the shape of trouble, which he says arose out of the
drowning of seven or eight Indians on their way to Alexandria ; but so involved is his account of the consequences
of the accident that it is next to impossible to locate the
disturbance which ensued. Both Stuart Lake and Fort
Alexandria are mentioned, and after one has read our
author, the impression left on the mind is that it occurred
in neither of those places.
Of the returns which Dease took down to Fort Vancouver in the summer of 1834, McLean writes that they
I might be valued at £11,000. The outfit, together with
the servants' wages and incidental expenses, amounted to
about ^3,000, leaving the Company a clear profit of
.£8,000," which may or may not have been correct, as the
animus of the whole book seems to be more or less that of
a philippic against the Hudson's Bay Company.
During Dease's absence the mantle of authority fell
on his shoulders, and he improves his opportunity to decry
the management of the post as regards the fare, which he
declares, with every appearance of truth, was " scarcely fit
for dogs."1
In the course of that summer (1834) a native, who had
sometimes acted as interpreter, died after a few hours of
agony, resulting from his having been caught in a bear-
1. " Notes of a Twenty-five Years' Service in the Hudson's-Bay Territory,"
trap he had made, and which he was so imprudent as to
test himself. His body was the first to be interred among
the Carriers, and for that change of method in disposing of
the dead we must credit the Company's people, who introduced it in pity to the unfortunate widows, who were exposed to the cruellest tortures at the burning of the body.
The year 1834 put an end to Peter Warren Dease's
stay at Stuart Lake. Between 1837 and 1839 he was
engaged, together with Thomas Simpson, a young relative
of the governor, in the Arctic exploration, for which he
was offered a knighthood, which he declined. Then,
according to Malcolm McLeod,1 the Imperial Government
tendered him a pension of a hundred pounds sterling, and
on his retirement from the Hudson's Bay Company he
settled (in 1842) in the vicinity of Montreal.
As to William Connolly, who so abruptly left Stuart
Lake in 1831, in spite of his successful labors on behalf of
his employers, he was not destined to meet with so much
good fortune. Yet the last echo of his after life which
has come down to us has a somewhat joyous ring about it.
I Mr. Connolly does not write me," we read in a letter
from Chief Factor A. McDonald to John McLeod, 1 but I
believe that, so far from his being in a dying state last
spring, he was about taking to himself a. better half ....
at Tadousac."2 He was still living in the course of 1848,
since in a private letter from Sir George to the gentleman
then in command of Fort St. James we read : " Connolly
will scarcely believe that it is possible to collect so
many furs in one season in his old and favorite district." 3
Finally he settled at Montreal, and at one time was even
elected mayor of that city.
1. " Peace River," etc., " Notes," p. 76.
2. MS. letter, dated February 20th, 1833.
3. MS. letter, June 24th, 1848.
Peter Skene Ogden Takes Charge of the District.
N the course of  1834 arrived at Stuart Lake a man
who   for many   years   was  to   exercise   a   potent
influence over the whole  district.    This was Peter
Skene Ogden.1
The man who was to cut such a prominent figure in the
annals of New Caledonia was a son of Chief Justice Isaac
Ogden, of Montreal, and was descended from an old and
honorable Scotch family. Though he was ever reticent
about his age, one can safely assert that he was born in
1794. From the characteristics he evinced at a time when
his natural abilities had won him an enviable place in the
Hudson's Bay Company, it may be gathered that his
youth was not passed without storms or, at least, incidents
of a more or less innocent complexion.
At seventeen he entered the service of the North-West
Company, where he, no doubt, expected to find the adventurous scenes in harmony with his own restless temperament The Utah and Shoshone countries had the first-fruits
of his labors as a fur-trader, and California received also
1. The Skenes belong to an old family, which owes its name to an incident
which is said to have happened as far back as 1010. As Malcom II. was
returning from the defeat of the Danes, he was saved from a ravenous wolf by
a youth, who killed it with his dagger. Hence the name Skene, a modern
derivation of the original Sgian, which means dagger. Some authors, and
even Ogden's own clerks, spelt it Skeen.
167 :!
occasional visits from him. As early as 1820 a manuscript
.memoir by John McLeod speaks of him as of a man
already vested with some authority in the service of his
corporation. Four years later he was at Flathead Post,
in the Snake District, where he stayed until 1831. In
April of that year a party of experienced traders was
despatched to the North Pacific Coast, somewhere near the
mouth of the Naas River, to divert into the direction of
the Canadian concern a share of the fur-trade, which so
far had been mostly in the hands of the Russians. While
Captain Simpson was operating by water, Ogden had
charge of the land party. The expedition was a success
in so far as the reception it received was concerned; but
owing to the high prices a keen competition forced
them to pay, they lost ^1,600 on the 3,000 odd skins
they got.
In 1834 P. S. Ogden was sent to the capital of New
Caledonia, where he was to give the full measure of his
administrative abilities. At the same time a Chief Factorship put on his efforts the seal of his superiors' official
approval.    He had been a Chief Trader since 1821.
P. S. Ogden was of middle stature, and has remained
famous among the Carriers for his great obesity. Indeed,
when he first appeared in their midst, the old men could
not help recalling Na'kwcel, who forms the subject of
our first chapter, and they maintained that the newcomer must be a reincarnation of their own patriarch.
Lively and yet dignified with his subordinates, imperious
though kind-hearted, he was generous while remaining a
vigilant guardian of his corporation's interests. On the
other hand, it may as well be confessed that he was subject,
like most men of his time and position, to those human
weaknesses to which all lack of social restraint exposed
him.    Yet he was fairly faithful to a native woman he had
taken unto himself (and perhaps married) before he was
promoted to his new dignity.
In private life, and especially with his friends, one of his
chief characteristics was his inveterate penchant for tricks
and good-natured malice. Even in his later years, when
stationed on the Columbia, nothing would delight him so
much as to befool those he cared for. Was a passing
missionary, for instance, to warn him that he was in dead
earnest and must absolutely leave by the next boat
Ogden would promise that his wishes would be complied
with; but in the meantime he would see to it that boat
and crew were noiselessly off* an hour or so before the
appointed time. The poor Father had to put up as best
he could with the old man's huge satisfaction at contemplating his guest's look of disappointment, and stay a
fortnight longer under the Company's roof.
Sometimes, however, he found his peer among his
intended victims. Witness a certain Father Chirouse, who
is reported to have more than once outwitted him. Father
Chirouse was a wily old soul, who was one day shopping
with a little servant in Ogden's store while the manager
was momentarily called away. The missionary coveted
sorao rather expensive articles which the size of his purse
did not allow him to purchase. Nothing daunted by the
smallness of his means, he boldly ordered the boy to put up
the goods into parcels, which he left in a conspicuous place.
After he had taken leave of his friend, his parcels were
noticed on the counter by Ogden, who, recalling his tricky
"Just like you, Father Chirouse," he shouted; "look at
the parcels you forgot"
" I beg your pardon, Mr. Ogden, I took all my things
" I tell you you did not."
169 Ill
I Excuse me, but really—"
I No excuse; you are absent-minded, as usual. Take
your parcels away."
I Really, I am sure they are not mine."
1 They are, I tell you," insisted the imperious old man,
who was bound to have the last word.
| Do you mean to say that—"
" I mean that I want you to take your things away."
| But—"
| Take them, I say, and if they are not yours—"
■ They are not."
" Well, then, I give them to you."
This was all the wily missionary wanted. Without further
ado he pocketed the goods he had not paid for, and the
trickster was tricked.
Chief Factor Ogden was above all a fur-trader, and,
though he must be credited with the honor of having
practically introduced farming into the district, he felt very
little sympathy for any other branch of business, and he
had absolutely no patience with pursuits the object of
which could not be counted in skins or pounds sterling.
He had hardly been five years at his new post when, the
interests of his charge having taken him on a visit to
Vancouver, he thus summarized the news in a letter to
John McLeod:
" Our profits will exceed ten thousand pounds. . . .
Among the many good things their Honors from Fenchurch
Street sent us last summer was a clergyman—and with him
his wife—the Rev. Mr. Beaver, a very appropriate name for
the fur-trade. . . . But this is not all. There are also
five more gentlemen, as follows: two in quest of flowers,
two killing all the birds in the Columbia, and one after
rocks and stones. All these bucks come with letters from
the President of the United States, and you know it would
not be good policy not to treat them politely. They are a
perfect nuisance."1
Another piece of news contained in the same epistle was
that David Douglas had fallen into a bull pit and been
gored to death. David Douglas was the botanist after
whom the Douglas fir is now called. We have also, for
the first time, the mention of a name which will occur
frequently under our pen in the following chapters. "A
young man," writes Ogden, "a young man, by name
Maclean—his father was killed in Red River—is in the
Snake country." This single line gives us a clue to the
innate dispositions of the future New Caledonian. His
father had died a violent death; he was himself to meet
with a similar fate, and most of his children were to die on
the gallows—a doomed family, indeed, and their end goes
a long way to determine the nature of their acts.
But for the present we are concerned only with P. S.
Ogden and his new field of action.
At the time when that gentleman assumed the command
of New Caledonia, that country counted eight forts—St.
James, on Lake Stuart; Babine, Fraser, and McLeod on the
lakes of the same names ; George and Alexandria on the
Fraser, and Chilcotin in the valley of the Chilco River, to
which w