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The fur hunters of the Far West; a narrative of adventures in the Oregon and Rocky mountains in two volumes.… Ross, Alexander, 1783-1856 1855

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1855. • • c ••
The Snake country—M'Donald's trip—Arrival of Mr. Dease—
Leave Fort Nez Percés—Reach the Rocky Mountains—Governor
Simpson's communication—M'Donald's return—Preparations
for the Snake country—Cross purposes—Disappointments—
Leave Spokane House—The medley—History of the fifty-five—
General remarks—Departure of the expedition—Game scarce—
Mr. Howe in 1810—Iroquois Binging hymns—Their plans—New
regulations—Comparison between large and small rifles—Hunting regulations—Delegates appointed—Hell's Gates—Remarks—•
Difficulties—New route-^-Wild horses—Game—Piegans—Iroquois desert—A hard ride—The deserters surprised—Six Nez
Percés—Rams' horns a curiosity—Indian legend—Gloomy accounts of the road. The Yalley of Troubles—Parties in search of
a pass—Prospects-more and more gloomy—The discovering
party—Wandering Snakes •—Their dress—Alarm—The party
under arms—Nez Percés—Surmises—Iroquois caught in their
own trap—Indian reports—Nez Percés off—Conduct of the
Iroquois—The discovering party arrive—Dine on the Snow— j CONTENTS.
Depth of snow in the mountain—Distance—A council held—
Discouraging circumstances—Disaffection—The camp in disorder—John Grey the ringleader—His plots counteracted—The
crisis—A bold undertaking—Road-making—Men and horses—
Extraordinary efforts—A novel sight—Depth of snow—-Try it
again—Plans for making the road changed—Persisted in—Completed—Anxieties—Extreme point of Flathead River—Its length
—Leave the YaUey of Troubles—Source of the Missouri River—
Cross the mountain—The effect of perseverance .       .    Page 1
Camp regulations—Beaver—Tracks of enemies—Hot spring—Snowstorm—Narrow escape—Missouri—Lewis and Clarke's track-
Successful trapping — Dangerous passes—The battle — Seven
trappers killed — Piegans roasted — Hardihood — Iroquois
shot — Horrid cruelties — Revenge — Salmon River — Herds
of buffalo — Canoe Point — Young grass —War roads — Night-
watch — Heedless trappers — Martin and his horses — Scouting parties—Discouraging prospects—Hackana in favour—New
prospects—Dangerous roads—Disappointments—Êffect-*-Hack-
ana in disgrace—A horse killed—The alarm—Escape of a child—
Rock-turn-again—Twelve days' experience — Return to Canoe
Point—The beaver cache — Swimming — Salmon River—Hot
springs—Enemies appear—Pursuit—Buffalo—Forlorn trappers—
Piegan war-party—Fruitless search—The mistake—Two men
robbed —Looking the wrong way—Subterraneous river—A four
days' ramble—Cold—Horses die—Division of the party—River
Malade—Alarm—War-party—A night's dancing—Indian cunning
—A horse killed—Scalps—Trapping difficulties—Watch—Perverse trappers—The alarm—Paying too dear for a drink of cold
water—A horse killed—A scamper—Piegans again—Chief's declaration -— New road — Frightful passes — Hard shifts — Reid's
River—Dismal prospects—Disaffected people—A stand still—Two
Bannatees—-Theirstory—Three Bannatees—Their fears      .   49 CONTENTS.
A calm after a storm—Gloomy aspect—Cheering prospects—Plenty,
and smiling countenances—Pee-eye-em and suite—His manner—
Cayouse plenipotentiaries—The peace—A ride round the great
Snake camp—The council—Ceremony of smoking—More honour
than comfort—A supperless night—Peace concluded—Escort—
Barter with the Snakes—The three rivers described—Beaver—
Division of the party—Horse-racing—An Iroquois outwitted—
The trick—Indians at home—Awkward position of the whites—
Ama-ketsa*—The crafty chief—Encamp in a wrong place—Excursion round the camp—Salmon—War-are-reekas—Their character—The trap quarrel—Conduct of the whites—Seize ten
of the Snake horses—Rogues surprised—Stratagem—A camp
cleared—The pipe stem—Stolen traps restored—Return of good
feelings—Raise camp—Waterfalls—Salmon-fishery—News of the
Iroquois—Point Turnagain—Comparison of distances—Natural
bridge—Subterraneous river—Hot and cold springs—Yalley of
lightning—Thunder—Rivière aux Malades—Poisonous beaver—
A horse drowned—Snake surprised—Bannatees jo. winter-
Hazardous travelling—Mount Simpson—The Governor's punchbowl—Source of Salmon River—Conjectures—The wounded
pheasant—Bear River—A bear hunt—The bear and the beaver—
The last shift—-A horse drowned—Hard work and little progress-
Canoe Point again—Disabled horses—Narrow escape—A man
died—Buflalo plenty—The wounded bull—Habits of the buffalo—
Iroquois arrive—Their story—Their conduct—American trappers.
Page 90
Report—Enemies in sight—The agreeable mistake—The ten Nez
Percés—Their story—Suspicious defile—Reconnoitring party—
Enemies discovered—The pursuit—A hard ride—The hiding-
place— Gathering the spoil—The peace-offering—Suspicious
party—Anxieties  of  the  whites—The  surprise—The   stolen Yl
horses—The thieves caught—Indians mute—Nez Percés reproved
, Thieves in custody—-Return to eamp—The court-martial—Wild
fowl—Sporting—Hard shooting—World of game—The mourning
.scene—The snowy mountain—Change of scenery—Yalley of
Troubles again—Ice and snow—Cold travelling—Hell's Gates—
Jl horse drowned—rArrive at Flathead house—-Finiits of the
expedition—Remarks—Yankee enterpaâse—New plan proposed—
The men—Contemplated results—Depot for the returns—Wants
created—Inland position—Speculation—Sketch of the Snake
people—Position of ihe Snakes—Their courage—Snake language  Page 131
Dawn of education on the Oregon—Speech of a Kootanais chief—
"The farewell—Juvenile adventurers—Result—Flathead River—
~The Forks—Interview—Party set out for the Rocky Mountains—
Tarting scene—Facilities—Bold undertaking—Yiew of the subject—Kettle Falls—-Fort Colville—Remarks—Gloomy place—
Petit Dalles—Some account of the place—Islands—A boat in
jeopardy — Kootanais River—Stony barrier—Desolation—No
Indians — No animals —Tirst lake — Extent—Scenery.—The
wounded Indian—Jealousy in the wilderness—New-fashioned
canoes—Link between the lakes—Upper lake—Sudden appearance of an Indian—Chief of .the Sinatcheggs—His story—Some
account of his country and people—The deception—Length of
upper lake—Some account of the country—The child—Peace-
offering—The wretched flock—Gloomy aspect—Perilous ^navigation—The ideal city—M'Kenzie's River—Dalles des Morts—
Seat of desolation — Natural curiosity—Moisture—Castle-rock
ores—Transparent substances—A man in a gold mine—Ross's
River—Cataract creeks—The circus—Diamond creek—Brilliant
objects—Beaver islands—M'MiMan's River—Landscape in confusion—Belle Yue point—Deceitful;#indings-^lhe steersman's
warning—Canoe River—-Northernmost point of Columbia —
Portage River—Main branch—Length'*^ north branch;—Land
on Portage point—Columbia voyage concluded   .       .       .156 CONTENTS.
Portage Point—Wild scenery—Forbidding prospect—The five
tribes—Begin the portage—The walking-stick Journal—Hard
day's work—Luxuries of the evening camp—Road described—
Leave Portage River—Scenery—Fbrtage Yalley—Climbing the
Grand Côte—Size of the timber—Encampment—Night scene
—Punch-bowl Lake—Sister Creeks—Farewell to Columbia-—Avalanches—Devastation—Giant of the rocks—Horses arrive—
Road\jbstructiona—The Hole—Athabasca—Length of portage—
East side scenery—First establishment—North-westers and bark
canoes—Jasper's house—Lapensie's grave—Solitary travelling
—FortAssiniboine—Exchange horses for canoes—The new road—
Sturgeon River—The party described—Garments—Arrive at Fort
Edmonton—Indians—Trade—A ball—Offensive dogs—Saskatchewan boats—Charming scenery—Fort Carlton—Hostile Indians
—Agriculture—The swampy country—Crées—Fort Cumberland
—Sturgeon—Trade—Gardens—The sun-dial—Domestic cattle—
Lake Bourbon—Arctic land expedition—Franklin and Richardson—The country of frogs and mosquitoes—Grand rapid—Mis-
kagoes—Winipeg—Mossy Point—Arrive at Norway House—
Migratory habits of the warlike tribes of the plains—Yiews of
the introduction of agriculture—Mr. Leith's bequest . Page 188
Nelson River—Route to York Factory—Norway House—Climate
—Great rendezvous—Governor Simpson—Annual Councils—The
fur trade—Remarks on the present system—The Governor's unlimited power—General remarks—My own final, arrangements—
Retiring servants—Leave Norway House—Qualities of our boat's
crew—Physical deformities—A canoe hero—Account of his life
—The voyageur's paradise—More words than work—Gloomy
prospects—Dreary shore—Useless hands—Spider Islands—Pop- vui
lar Islands — The storm — Narrow escape — Stormy Island —
Squalls—Second storm—Gale on the lake—Boat aground—Danger—Confusion—Boat high and dry—The stormy night—Beren's
River—The lop-stick—Grand view of the lake—Cat-Fish Creek—
Dog's Head—Anticipations—Plans and Projects—Story of a
night's adventures—Devout voyageurs—Saints invoked—The
solemn vow—The mysterious lights—The two channels—Grindstone Point—Drunken River—Arrive at the mouth of Red River
—Lake Winipeg and its feeders—Navigation—Start for the
Metropolis—The Public Road—Image Plains—Currency—Frog
Plains—Civilisation and Barbarism—Geographical Position—
Speculations—Fort Garry, the Metropolis—A day in Red River.
Page 227
The Snake country—MDonald's trip—Arrival of Mr. Dease—«
Leave fort Nez Percéa—Reach the Rocky Mountains—Governor
Simpson's communication—MDonald's return — Preparations
for the Snake country—Cross purposes—Disappointments—
Leave Spokane House—The medley—History of the fifty-five—
General remarks—Departure of the expedition—Game scarce-
Mr. Howe in 1810—Iroquois singing hymns—Their plans—New
regulations—Comparison between large and small rifles—Hunting regulations—Delegates appointed—Hell's Gates—Remarks—
Difficulties—New route—Wild horses—Game—Piegans—Iroquois desert—A hard ride—The deserters surprised—Six Nez
Percés—Rams' horns a curiosity—Indian legend—Gloomy accounts of the road. The valley of troubles—Parties in search of
a pass—Prospects more arid more gloomy—The discovering
party—Wandering Snakes — Their dress—Alarm—The party
under arms—Nez Percés—Surmises—Iroquois caught in theit
own trap—Indian   reports—Nez Percés off—Conduct of the
Iroquois—The discovering party arrive—Dine on the Snow—
Depth of snow in the mountain—Distance—A council held—
Discouraging circumstances—Disaffection—The camp in disorder—John Grey the ringleader—His plots counteracted—The
crisis—A bold undertaking—Road-making—Men and horses—
Extraordinary efforts—A novel sight—Depth of snow—Try it
again—Plans for making the road changed—Persisted in—Completed—Anxieties—Extreme point of Flathead River—Its length
—Leave the valley of troubles—Source of the Missouri River—
Cross the mountain—The effect of perseverance.
Haying given an account of the fur trade in the
<frFar West/' and of the people employed in it, in
our first volume, we proceed in this to relate our
personal adventures in the Snake country.
In the spring of the year 1823 I drew up a
statement on the subject of the trade in the Snake
country, which, after submitting to the gentlemen
superintending the Company's affairs on the Columbia, I forwarded to the Governor and Council
at York Factory. In the meantime, however, as
several of the trappers and hunters had, on Mr.
M'Kenzie's retiring, been left without much employment, a party was fitted out for the Snake country,
and placed under the direction of a Mr. Finan
M'Donald, a veteran of the north-west school, now
in the Hudson's Bay Company's service.
Soon after MDonald's departure, however, John
Warren Dease, Esq., a chief .trader of the new Company, arrived from Rupert's Land, informing me
that I had been named to succeed Mr. M'Kenzie in
the charge of the Snake country, and that he had AUTHOR  LEAVES   FORT NEZ  PERCYS.
come to relieve me, and take charge of Fort Nez
Percés. I observed that the charge of the Snake
country was more befitting a chief factor than a
clerk, and would suit him better than me ; and
that, besides, I had made up my mind to leave the
country. This avowal took my friend by surprise,
as my departure might have placed him in the
Snake, country—a quarter much dreaded by all
My arrangements, however, for the two years
having expired, and being prepared for leaving the
country, I left Fort Nez Percés in charge of Mr.
Dease, and set out with my family for the Rocky
Mountains ; but on my arrival there, I met Governor Simpson's letter, in reply to the statement I
had transmitted in the spring. This letter was
dated "York Factory, 13th July, 1823," and
therein the Governor observed, " We have given the
subject of your communication, in reference to the
Snake country, mature consideration, and have
resolved to fit out an expedition to th,at quarter,
whereof we tender you the management for three
years." This proposal was accompanied by the offer
of a liberal salary ; but, having set out with a view
of leaving the service, I hesitated to accept the
proposal. My inclinations prompted me to continue
my journey, and yet a desire to meet the Governor's
views inclined me strongly to close with Hie offer :
the latter opinion was supported by my friend P. S,
Ogden, Esq^ who, bemg on the spot, did everything
B 2 4
in his power to persuade me to accept the appointment.
Never did my mind undergo such a conflict as on
this occasion ; and two days were passed in anxious
suspense before I could determine. Ultimately,
however, I resolved to go back, on being promised
eighty men ; but for one year only. Embarking,
therefore, with my family, we took the current for
Fort Nez Percés ; but on arriving at the Kettle
Falls, I was astonished to learn that, on M'Donald's
return from his Snake trip, he and his men, instead
of being, as expected, at Fort Nez Percés, were all
at Spokane House ! Thither, I had consequently to
shape my course ; and I reached that place at the
close of October. But had I known that I should
have been required to start from Spokane, instead
of Fort Nez Percés, no consideration would have
made me return ; for this disarranged all my plans,
and was a departure from the Company's views,
which threw the Snake trade back again into the
old channel.
No step could have operated more to the detriment of our Snake affairs than the falling1 back
again upon Spokane as a depot for carrying on the
trade of that quarter I and if the reader refers to
the fourth chapter, he will very naturally ask the
question,—why did M'Donald, instead of going to
Fort Nez Percés, return to that place ? We have
already noticed that he was a veteran of the northwest school ; that he had passed many years among m'donald's trip.
the fascinating pleasures of the far-famed Spokane
House; and the moment that M'Kenzie had turned
his back on the Columbia, old prejudices were revived.
Before leaving this part of our subject, we might
make a remark or two on M'Donald's late trip to
the Snakes. Everything considered, the trip was as
successful as could have been expected in furs ; for
M'Donald was a zealous and faithful servant ; but
in other respects it was rather an unfortunate trip.
In a conference with a war-party of the Piegans,
one of his men, named Anderson, was treacherously
shot. In a pitched battle which took place between
his party and the Blackfeet, he lost seven more of
his men ; and in a squabble with the Iroquois of
his own party, he was badly wounded from an accidental discharge of a gun.
At Spokane House I remained but a few days.
Instead, however, of my complement of eighty men,
I could only muster forty ; and of that small number many of them were objectionable. With these,
however, I left on the 12 th of November, and proceeded up Flathead River to the post of that name,
situated at the foot of the mountains. There I remained for some time, and picked up fourteen more,
making my party, including myself, in all fifty-
five persons ; each of whom had to be fitted out,
according to his capacity as a hunter, with a gun,
from two to four horses, and from six to ten steel
traps, besides clothing and ammunition ;   and gene- party for an expedition.
rally all on credit. With this number I made preparations for setting out on my expedition.
On assembling my people, I smiled at the medley,
the variety of accents, of dresses, habits, and ideas ;
but, above all, at the confusion of languages in
our camp : there were two Americans, seventeen
Canadians, five half-breeds from the east side of the
mountains, twelve Iroquois, two Abinakee Indians
from Lower Canada, two natives from Lake Nipi-
singue, one Soulteaux from Lake Huron, two Crées
from Athabasca, one Chinook, two Spokanes, two
Kouttanais, three Flat-heads, two Callispellums,
one Palooche, and one Snake slave ! Five of the
Canadians were above sixty years of age, and two
were on the wrong side of seventy. The Iroquois
were good hunters, but plotting and faithless.
From five to ten of the more trusty and resolute
would always be required as a guard on the camp
and horses, and could therefore be but seldom employed in trapping beaver ; and as for the nineteen
natives, they were only of use as far as numbers
went, or in taking care of our horses : in these
respects, however, they proved very serviceable. So
that upon the whole, I could scarcely count on more-
than twenty trappers at any time.
One-half, perhaps two-thirds, of the people I had
under my command were more expert at the bow
and arrow than at the use of the beaver trap ; more
accustomed to indolence and free-will than to
subordination. ADDRESS  TO  THE  MEN.
In summing up, however, we must not forget
that twenty-five of the party were married, and
several of the youngsters carried guns ; so that in
our camp there were, exclusive of the men, twenty-
five women and sixty-four children. The rest of
the equipment consisted of seventy-five guns, a brass
three-pounder, 212 beaver-traps, and 392 horses, together with a good stock of powder and ball, and
some^trading articles. I now observed to my men,
that the journey would be long, and not at all times,
perhaps, exempt from danger ; but that we might,
with industry and perseverance, anticipate a successful trip. Yet, if there were any among the party
who preferred remaining at home to going on the
journey, the choice was now offered them : this I
stated as a bar to grumbling on the journey ; but
the whole, with one voice, exclaimed, " We prefer
going." This point being settled, I next warned
them that our safety and success would very much
depend upon our unanimity and care ; and that all
would be little enough to guard against surprise
and preserve our horses, on which tbe success of the
undertaking depended. Hence, I said, a night-
watch would be established and enforced rigidly^
during the journey, upon every one in turn. This
also met their approbation.
In the days of   the north-west,  the council of
Fort William did everything that could be done to
render the trapping system in the Snake country,
during M'Kenzie's time, as efficient as possible ; but ;ttfcSti!fft!i TTsn
their instructions had to travel 3,000 miles, and to
pass through the hands of many subordinates, each
of whom, according to the nature of things in this
country, had a voice, which influenced the final
arrangement, and not unfrequently stripped it of
its usefulness ! And the same remarks apply in
reference to the Hudson's Bay Company, for the
council of York Factory is as far removed from the
scene of action as the council of Fort William was.
M'Kenzie had to combat these evils ; so had his
successors : but all to little purpose ; for the system,
instead of improving by experience, is getting
worse every day.
The party being now ready, we left the Flat-
heads, and proceeded on our journey.    By starting
in the  depth of winter, less difficulty was  experienced  in providing for so   many people.     Our
camp, with all its defects, appeared at a little distance somewhat formidable ; as the whole cavalcade,
when in marching order, extended a line of a mile
or more in length.   Having made about eight miles,
and killing only one deer—for we had to depend
upon our guns for our suppers,—that small animal
proved but a slender repast for 137 hungry mouths.
We encamped at a place called Prairie de Chevaux,
and next  day at Prairie  de  Carnass ;   here our
hunters had a httle better luck, killing six deer,
so we had a better supper: and we required it, for
we had passed two days on only one light meal.
The day following we passed the crossing-place, IROQUOIS   HYMN-SINGING.
where» I picked up several pieces of the best iron
ore I had seen in the country ; at a short distance from that are the Forks. Here we left the
main branch of the Flat-head River, where it makes
a quick bend to N.W., to the lake of that name.
Then following up what is called Jacques Fork,
we encamped at Rivière aux Marons, or Wild
Horse River. Our travelling went on but slowly,
owing ^to the scarcity of provisions ; for we had
nothing with us. In the course of this day's travel,
we made a halt, and smoked our pipes at a spot
on which some faint traces of civilisation were to
be seen. A Mr. Howes, an enterprising individual
belonging to the Hudsons Bay Company, established himself here in 1810 ; but after passing part
of the winter, he crossed the mountains again, and
never returned. I believe this is the first and
only instance in which any of the servants of that
Company had penetrated so far to the west, prior
to the country falling into their own hands in
1821.       ^
Soon after encamping, the Iroquois began to sing
hymns : as soon as I heard that, I doubled the
watch, and gave strict orders to observe their motions, as the singing of sacred music by these hypocritical wretches is a sure sign of disaffection. As
I expected, early next morning, I found the Iroquois in a body, with old Pierre and John Grey at
their head, standing at my tent-door. Knowing
their character, this did not surprise me.    I was, 10
however, anxious to know the eause, and addressed
myself, as a matter of course, to the head man.
" What now, Pierre ?" I asked. " Oh, nothing/' replied he ; " the Iroquois merely wish to see their
Recounts." This being a reasonable demand, although
somewhat out of place, I of course complied with it ;
although I well knew that such a request was but
the introduction to some other more unreasonable
demand, for they had all of them seen their accounts
before starting: but this is the way they generally introduce all subjects. After explaining their
accounts, I asked them their motives, as this was
neither the time nor the place to be inquiring about
accounts, nor discussing arrangements. After several
remarks, Pierre observed, I Our debts are heavy,
and we are never able to reduce them in a large
party ; allow us to go off by ourselves, and we
shall do much better.'' I reminded them of their
conduct when left by M'Kenzie at the river Skam-
naugh, and of course resisted their intention ;
pointing out to them the consequences ; stating tltat
the party was already too small, and that a further
division would put an end to the expedition altogether. " Why," continued I, " did you not ex-
press your wishes before starting, when I offered you
either to come or to remain ? It is now no longer
time, and I hope such a request will not be made
again. The Company place great confidence in your
exertions, and I shall do everything in my power
to make your undertaking  comfortable  and  pro-
• w**1—       ■    -*-- NEW   REGULATIONS.
fitable." With these assurances they seemed satisfied, and we proceeded.
The Iroquois, however, lagged behind, and,
arriving some time after we had put up, encamped
on one side. This being an unusual step, I suspected all was not right, and that they were still
bent on playing us a trick. I, therefore, sent for
Pierre, and explained matters frilly to him ; when I
learned fer^ the first time from Pierre that Grey
was a plotting busy-body. Confidence was after a
time restored, and the Iroquois reconciled once
more. In consequence of deep snows and bad.
weather, we remained for several days in the same
encampment. Here I assembled the people, and
made some new regulations.
I observed to them that there appeared to be a
great and unnecessary waste of ammunition in the
camp ; that hitherto, while the party were travelling, half of the people—the ignorant as well
as the experienced hunters—were occupied in
pursuit of game, by which the animals were more
frequently frightened than killed, the duties of the
journey and camp both neglected, and provisions
were scarce : a change of system was, therefore,
necessary. To this end it was settled—that four
hunters, in turn, should precede the camp daily,
and all the rest attend to other duties ; and it was
anticipated that we should be always better supplied with provisions, other duties would be better
attended to, and not a third of the ammunition spent. 12
In observing the effect produced by guns of
different calibres, it was found that the rifles of
small bore, taking from 60 to 70 balls to the
pound, very frequently did not kill, although they
might hit: while rifles taking from 30 to 40 to
the pound seldom missed killing on the spot. The
former out of twenty shots seldom kills more than
seven or eight animals ; whereas of the latter, if
twenty shots are fired, fifteen are generally deadly.
It was, therefore, settled that the rifles of larger
calibre should be used in all places where animals
proved scarce.
Our party consisted of four classes of people,
differing in almost everything but the human
form—Canadians, half-breeds, Iroquois, and natives
of different nations. It was agreed, with the
consent of all, that I should appoint the person of
most influence in each party as a head over the
rest. This arrangement would relieve me of much
trouble, and promised to work well. In all difficult cases I was to call these headmen together, to
hold a council, so that things might go on smoothly.
From Rivière au Marons we raised camp, and
proceeded on our journey up what is called the valley
of Raucin au Mer, or Spetlum country, along the
base of the mountains, until we reached a defile of
the dividing ridge, called Hell's Gates, a distance
from Flathead Fort of about 70 miles, general
course, S.E. This place is rendered notorious as
being the great war-road by which the Piegans and
Blackfeet often visit this side of the mountains;
by the same pass the Flatheads and other tribes
cross over to the Missouri side in quest of buffalo.
The spot has, therefore, been the scene of many a
bloody contest between these hostile nations.
This being the usual and only place known to
the whites for passing the mountains, I hesitated
for some time between two opinions—whether to
cross there, or proceed in hopes of crossing somewhere else to more advantage. Difficulties presented themselves in either case : by adopting the
former, we should have been exposed to the Black-
feet and other tribes during a journey of three
weeks, the time we should have taken before we
could reach a pass, either to get clear of those
tribes, or back into the Snake country ; by the
latter, the road was entirely unknown to the
whites, and the mountains were lofty and abrupt.
Yet we decided on the latter, and determined to
continue our course.
Here again the Iroquois wished to go off, saying
that they would make good hunts in the recesses of
these Alpine ridges ; but I knew them too well to
be duped by their artifices. They would have
either sneaked back or lurked about among the
Flatheads, and gone with them; not to hunt the
beaver, nor pay their debts, for that never troubled
them, but to feast on buffalo. I, therefore, got
them brought round again, thinking that, if I once
succeeded in getting them into the heart of the 14
Snake country, all would be right, and they would
not be so anxious to go off by themselves.
In this encampment we remained for a day or
two, and our hunters killed four wild horses. Just
at the time we were starting one morning, and in
the act of crossing a deep ravine not far from our
camp, about twenty of those beautiful and hardy
tenants of the mountain came dashing down from
a neighbouring height, with their shaggy manes
and long tails waving in the wind ; bat, with all
their keen scent, the rifles of our hunters brought
four of them to the ground before they had time
to turn round ! It is a rare thing for them to be
either entrapped or approached, and our hunters
were more delighted with their success in this little
adventure than if they had killed a hundred
buffalo. We also got twenty-seven elks and thkèy-
two small deer at this place, which secured the
party for a while from hunger.
On leaving our encampment at Hell's Gates, I
discovered that one of my Iroquois, named Jacob,
had deserted. To have gone in pursuit of him
would have been vain, if he wished to keep out of
our way ; so we continued our journey. We had
not proceeded far, when the advanced party called
out, " Enemies ! enemies ! Blackfeet!" As soon as
the word "enemy" is uttered, every one looks at
the priming of his gun, and primes anew; which on
the present occasion was no sooner done than a
party mounted on horseback advanced at full speed. PIEGANS  AND   IROQUOIS.
We were soon prepared to receive them, either as
friends or foes. On our getting up to them, we
found eight Piegans squatted down at the corner of
a thicket, with their snow-shoes and other travelling necessaries at their side.
On our approach, they manifested a good deal of
uneasiness : not one of them got up to shake
hands with us-—a custom peculiar to most Indians ;
but they sat stiU, each having his bow and
arrows lying between his legs ready for action.
As soon as we spoke to them, however, their fear
vanished, and they became cheerful. In answer to
our queries, they said, " We have come from the
Missouri. There are no other Piegans in this
quarter.     We have been a month on our journey
in search  of   the whites  to trade."    But, seeing
* ©
scarcely anything with them, I asked them what
they had to trade; which rather puzzled them, for
they kept looking at each other for some time
without giving an answer. I took them to our
camp, gave them a smoke, and then warned them
not to follow us, nor attempt to steal our horses ;
for, if they did, I would shoot them.
Trade, however, was not their object—they were
scouts on the look out, from some large camp. On
putting up at night, I was informed that several of
the Iroquois had followed the Piegans, and traded
away all their ammunition for a few useless Indian
toys ; one of which was a head-dress of feathers !
On inquiring into the particulars, and finding the 1 6    DESERTERS SURPRISED AND BROUGHT BACK.
report to be true, I spoke to Pierre, the head man,
and reproved them for their conduct. Elk and
small deer now became abundant ; so that our
hunters had no difficulty in keeping the pangs of
hunger at a distance. Our traps brought us twelve
beaver ; being our first successful attempt since we
The second day after passing the Piegans two of
the Iroquois, named Laurent and Lizard, deserted
the party, and turned back.    It was some hours
before I had notice of the circumstance.   Now that
they had begun, there will be no end to desertion
thought I,  if  a stop is  not  speedily put  to  it :
because Jacob got off clear, others will think to do
so.   Losing no time, I took four men with me, and
hurried after the fugitives.     It was a leap in the
dark ;  for they might have hid themselves so well
in a few minutes' time that we could never have
found them out ; but we came upon the fellows as
they were making a fire at the distance of sixteen
miles off, and so surprised were they that  they
took no steps to get out of  the way.     We at
once laid hold of them, but could not by fair means
prevail upon them to return ;   we, therefore, had
recourse to threats, being determined, since they
gave us so hard a ride, not to deal too softly with
them.    Lizard, in particular, would neither lead
nor drive, and we threatened to drag him back at
one of the horse-tails before he consented to go.
Back, however, we brought them ; but, having to
èleep on the way, we had to keep watch over th
rascals all night. On the next day we got back to
the party early, raised camp, and proceeded ; but
we had not gone far before the cry of "Enemies ! enemies !" was again raised. A party immediately pushed on a-head, when the supposed enemies turned out to be friends; they were six Nez
Percés, whom we had supposed to be horse-thieves,
as none bf them had saddles, and yet they were
driving horses before them.
Although we had no danger to apprehend from
these people, yet their presence annoyed us, for it still
kept a door open for some of our party to desert ;
so we got clear of them as soon as possible, and
hastened on our journey. Before parting, however, Yallade, one of the Spokane Indians belonging
to our party, wished to accompany them. Yallade
was a good fellow in his way ; but, not being
accustomed to long journeys, he grew fainthearted ;
so I gave him his discharge, and he turned back.
As we left the Indians, however, four of the
Iroquois kept in the rear, and exchanged with the
Nez Percés two of their* guns for horses ! If they
had not guns to defend themselves, they had a
relay of horses to carry them out of danger. Such
improvident and thoughtless beings as Iroquois
should always be restricted to their hunting-imple*
ments ; all the rest goes in traffic among the
natives, to no purpose.
During some days past the weather had been
VOL. II. c 18
very severe; so that many of the old as well
as young were severely frostbitten in their fingers,
noses, cheeks, and feet. At every encampment
more or less beaver were caught daily. Elk,
deer, and mountain goats became very numerous ;
so that our new regulations made us fare well
in the way of provisions. Had it been our lot
to pass here in summer instead of in winter, there
are many level spots and fertile valleys that, from
the appearance of the country, might invite the
husbandman and the plough.
After putting up one evening, the uncommon
noise made by the wolves about our camp annoyed
us. At last, it struck me that it might be wolves
on two legs, imitating the animal ; and as the place
was very suspicious I doubled the night-watch,
and we laid down in our clothes, but passed a
restless night. In the morning, however, all was
safe, and we were early on our journey. In no
place of our trip, Hell's Gates itself scarcely excepted,
did we meet with such a gloomy and suspicious
place. At every bend of the river, wild and
romantic scenes opened to view ; the river alone
preventing the hills and cliffs from embracing
each other. We had to cross and recross twelve
times in half as many miles, until we reached a
rocky and slippery path on its margin, where
grew a few pine-trees, through which the narrow
and intricate path led.
Out of one of the pines I have just mentioned, m
and about five feet from the ground, is growing up
with the tree a ram's head, with the horns still
attached to it ; and so fixed and imbedded is it
in the tree, that it must have grown up with it :
almost the whole of one of the horns, and more
than half of the head, is buried in the tree ; but
most of the other horn, and part of the head, protrudes out at least a foot. We examined both, and
found the iree scarcely two feet in diameter. Here
we put up at an early hour, and called the place
Ram's Horn Encampment.
Our Flathead Indians related to us a rather
strange story about the ram's head. Indian legend
relates that one of the first Flathead Indians who
passed this way attacked a mountain ram as large
and stout as a common horse; that on being
wounded, the fierce animal turned round upon his
pursuer, who taking shelter behind the tree, the ram
came against it with all his force, so that he drove
his head through it ; but before he could get it
extracted again, the Indian killed him, and took off
the body, leaving the head as a memento of the
adventure. All Indians reverence the celebrated
tree, which they say, by the circumstances related,
conferred on them the power of mastering and
killing all animals ; hundreds, therefore, in passing
this way sacrifice something as a tribute to the
ram's head ; and one of the Iroquois, not to incur the
displeasure of the god of hunters, hung a bit of tobacco on the horn, to make his hunting propitious.
c 2
iT—^ 20
Late in the evening, when our hunters, who had
been in advance of the camp, arrived, they had a
sad story to tell.     " We have been," said they, " at
the head of the river ; our travelling in this direction is at an end : the mountains a-head surround
us in all directions, and are impassable; the snows
everywhere beyond the banks of the river are from
eight to ten feet deep, and that without a single opening or pass to get through ; so that we may as well
turn back without going further, for we shall have
to go by Hell's Gates at last."    Discouraging as
these   accounts   were,   we  made   preparations   to
advance ; for I was determined not to turn back,
while I could advance.    Leaving, therefore, Ram's
Horn Encampment, we proceeded in various directions,  often making several traverses through ice
and snow ; we then left the river, and crossed what
we called the Little Mountain ; the ascending and
descending of which occupied us  many hours  in
putting   two    miles   behind   us.     Regaining  the
river, we continued our journey until we reached
a little fork, where two small streams crossed each
other at right angles, in the middle of a deep valley,
hemmed in by lofty mountains ;  the appearance
of which seemed strongly to confirm the opinion of
the hunters, that we could proceed no further in
the present course.    Here we made a pause, and
all gazed in wonder at the bold and stupendous
front before us, which in every direction seemed to
bid defiance to our approach.    This gloomy and THE  VALLEY  OF  TROUBLES.
discouraging spot we reached on the 12th of
March, 1824, and named the place "The Yalley of
March 13tk.—Our situation and the hopeless
prospect before us made me pass a sleepless night ;
but on going through the camp this morning, I
found many, and the Iroquois in particular, with a
smile of gratification on their countenances, at the
idea of their having to turn back : the very idea
of such anticipations on their part aggravated the
evil on mine. After putting the camp in a position
of defence—for we had now to consider ourselves in
an enemy's country—I took six men with me and
proceeded in the direction our road lay, in order to
reconnoitre the passes in the mountains. We set
out on horseback, and finding in one place an
opening, out of which issued a small rivulet, we
followed it up about four miles or more, till we
reached its head, the source of the Flathead River ;
but not finding a pass to advance further with
horses, we tied them, and proceeded on foot. At
the head of the rivulet or creek we ascended one
of the mountains for more than a mile, till we
reached the top, where it was level ground ; but
the snow there was seven feet deep ; nor could
we form any idea as to the nature of the country
further on, it being thickly covered with timber.
So we returned, took our horses, and got back to
the camp late in the evening, to pass another comfortless night. 22
March 1 Uh.—During this day, I got six of my
most trusty men ready, with snow-shoes and four
days' provisions, and sent them across the mountains to ascertain the depth of snow, the nature of
the pass, and the distance to the other side. Their
instructions led them to follow the road along the
creek, where I had been on the 13th. We shall
now leave them to pursue their journey, while we
notice the occurrences about the camp.
The men I had despatched were no sooner started,
than I sent off four others, to see if any other more
favourable opening could be discovered in a different direction, while I and a few others proceeded
in another quarter ; but both parties proved unsuccessful. So we all returned, hungry, fatigued,
and discouraged ; and none more so than myself,
although I had to assume cheerfulness, in order to
encourage others.
March L5th.—The sun had scarcely appeared
over the mountain ridges, before some of our people
called out " Indians, Indians ; " when we beheld,
emerging from the woods, five solitary wretches on
snow-shoes, coming towards our camp. On their
arrival, I was rejoiced to find that they were
Snakes, as I expected to get some interesting information from them respecting the mountain passes
and other matters. They were, however, anything
but intelligent : we could neither understand them,
nor they us, consequently we could learn nothing
from them. «V
These strangers were the very picture of wretchedness, and had a singularly-odd appearance ; they
were wrapped up in buffalo-hides with the hair
next to their skin, and caps of wolfskin with the
ears of that animal erect as if alive ; and they resembled rather walking ghosts than living men.
Their condition, however, excited compassion. They
belonged, if we could judge from the jargon they
spoke, to the mountain Snakes. Yet, with all
their ignorance, I intended attaching them to
our party, had not an unforeseen circumstance
prevented it.
TJie day after the five Snakes arrived, two of
the hunters came running into the camp almost
breathless, calling out, " A war-party, a war-party."
This announcement rather surprised me: I knew not
where a war-party could come from at that season
of the year, and in such a part of the country as
we were in ; as Indians seldom go on war expeditions during winter. We, however, got our big
gun ready, match lighted, and all hands armed
in a few minutes ; when I observed at a short distance a large body of Indians coming down the
«lope of an hill, having every appearance of a war-
party. On their approaching our camp, not knowing what might happen, I immediately ordered the
Snakes off to the woods, telling them to join us
again as soon as the storm had passed over ; but
we never saw them afterwards.
When the Indians who were approaching us had àwïï
got within two hundred yards of our camp, they
made a halt, and collecting in a group, stood still.
At this group we pointed our gun. Taking then a
flag in my hand and one man with me, we went
up to them ; I telling my people at the time that
if there was danger, or the Indians attempted anything to us, I would wave a handkerchief as a signal
for them to fire off the gun at once. They, however, proved to be a mixture of Nez Percés and
Shaw-ha-ap-tens, eighty-four in number, headed by
two of the principal chiefs. We then all joined the
Although not a war-party, nor our declared
enemies, yet they are not at all times friendly
when abroad, and I could have very well dispensed
with their visit ; but under existing difficulties, they
were hailed with a heart-felt welcome by most of
my people, particularly the Iroquois.
It will be recollected, that some time ago we
fell in with six Nez Percés, with whom two of
my Iroquois had exchanged their guns for horses ;
which horses, it would appear, did not belong to
the fellows who had sold them, but belonged to
our visitors : the chiefs claimed them as soon as they
arrived, mentioning the six Nez Percés, and the
place where they had stolen the horses. The Iroquois had therefore to deliver them up ; and I was
not displeased at it. When the Indians were
going off, however, I interposed in behalf of the
Iroquois, and the chiefs consented to give  them TRAFFIC  WITH  THE  IROQUOIS,   AND  DEPART.      25
two old guns in lieu of the new ones they had given
for the horses.
On this occasion, the head chief told me that
since we had passed Hell's Gates, the Blackfeet had
stolen, at two different times, 135 of the Nez
Percés and Flathead's horses. He also informed
me that five of the Snakes had been at the camp
of the forjner on an embassy of peace, succeeded in
the object of their mission, and returned loaded
with presents : it was not likely, however, that
the five wretches we had seen were the delegates
spoken of. In reference to the pass through the
mountain, the absorbing question with me, the
chief observed that we could not possibly pass
before the month of May ; and then the only practicable road was in the direction my men had gone :
information which was not calculated to cheer us in
our present situation. At the expiration of two
days all the Indians left us, but not before they
had rifled the unprincipled Iroquois of almost
every article they possessed, in exchange for Indian
Expecting hourly the return of the six men
I had sent across the mountain on the 14th, I
had been revolving in my own mind the best plan
to be pursued. In the meantime, however, as I
expected their report would be such, as would
rather discourage any further advance, and as
such might have a decided effect on the conduct of
my people, I resolved on going to meet them, in 26
order to prepare their report before it reached our
camp, and to place it before the people in its most
encouraging  features.      So   I  set   off under   the
©    o
pretence of going to hunt ; but after proceeding
some five or six miles, and waiting all day, I
returned at night unsuccessful, telling my people of
course that I had seen plenty of game, but failed
in killing any.
I passed a sleepless night, and getting up early
the next morning, and telling my people that I was
going off again to hunt, I set out to wait, with
anxious forebodings, the arrival of my men. I
had not been long at my station before I was
agreeably relieved by their arrival ; and the more so
by their having loads of buffalo meat on their
backs : a very welcome article to us in our situation,
for animals had become very scarce about the
camp, and our hunters had to go a long distance
before finding any. The men had been six days
on their journey, and two of them were almost
snow blind : this grievous and painful malady
often afflicts people travelling on snow in the
spring of the year. We, however, sat down on
the crust of the snow, struck a fire, and made a
meal on the flesh they had brought with them.
During all this time, Grand Paul, the chief man,
related the story of their journey ; which I
will give the reader in his own words.
" From the head of the creek we proceeded across
the mountain in a south-easterly direction.   The first
three miles were thickly wooded, and the snow
from six to eight feet deep, with a strong crust on
the top. Afterwards, the eountry became more
open, with occasional small prairies here and there ;
the snow, however, keeping the same depth, with
the crust still harder and harder on the top as we
advanced, for about three miles further, till we had
reached fully the middle of the mountain. From
thence, all along to the other side, a distance of six
miles more, the snow ranged from five to six feet
deep, with the crust very strong, till we got to the
open plains. The distance, therefore, across, is
twelve long miles—a distance and depth of snow
that can never be passed with horses in its present
state. Beyond the mountain is a large open
plain, over which the snow is scarcely a foot deep.
There we found plenty of buffalo, sixteen of which
we killed ; but for want of wood and other materials we could not make stages to preserve the
meat, but had to abandon it to the wolves, excepting the little we have brought with us."
Here, then, was a description of the mountain pass,
as related by those who had examined it ; so that wo
knew something of the extent of the difficulties before us. According to the plan in my own mind, I
instructed the men how they were to act on getting
to the camp, in order that they might not discourage the people ; who at this time required but the
shadow  of an excuse to  turn back.     "Pass we 28
must," said I to them. " You will, therefore, proceed to the camp—without, however, letting any one
know that you had seen me—and the story that you
will tell there will be thus : that the mountain is
only eight, instead of twelve miles"—for it appeared
to me very possible that the men themselves might
have exaggerated the distance ; " that, after the
first three miles, the snow gets less and less ; and
that a south wind, with a few fine days, which we
may now hourly expect, would soon reduce the
quantity of snow. The [difficulty of passing will
be easily overcome ; and once on the opposite
side, buffalo for ourselves and grass for our horses
will be abundant. Thus a few days' exertions
would put all our troubles and difficulties behind
us, and in plenty of beaver we should soon forget
our toil, and make up for lost time."
The men went off to the camp, and did just as I
had told them. I returned late in the evening, but
without having killed any game ; so that my people, of course, marked me down in their own minds
as a blundering hunter. On reaching the camp, I
of course pretended not to know of my men's
arrival, went up to them, and asked the news of their
trip ; when Grand Paul, in the presence of all, repeated the story I had put into his mouth respecting the road, the snow, and the distance.
With all the difficulties of the undertaking pressing on my mind, I assembled the head men of the
different parties, and several others ; and we held a
council on the steps to be taken in order to cross
the mountain. But our council was very discordant.
Some began by observing that the undertaking was
utterly impossible ; others smiled at the folly of such
an attempt ; while some thought it even madness to
attempt making a road over such a field of snow.
Nettled at their obstinacy, I instantly checked
their remarks by observing that I did not call them
together to decide on the possibility or impossibility of making the road, having settled that point
already in my own mind ; but simply to have their
opinions on what they-might consider the easiest
and best way of doing it : for do it we must ; and
the sooner thev became unanimous the better.
This sudden check caused such a long pause, that
I got alarmed lest they would not speak at all.
After some time, however, old Pierre broke silence
by observing, that " We might try horses." Others
remarked that " It would be sooner done on foot ; "
while some said nothing at all, but observed a
Silllen silence. The general voice, however, was for
turning back. Here I had to interrupt them again.
I told them turning back was out of the question.
Some then observed that we might remain where
we were until the fine weather would make the
road for us. Old Pierre again spoke in favour of
trying the road ; some others spoke to the same
effect. On this occasion I had every reason to be
satisfied with the conduct of old Pierre, the Iro- 3
quois ; while on the other hand, John Grey and
his confederates opposed those who were for making
the road. On this occasion the disaffected were
the most listened to ; and Grey opposed everything but turning back. At last, however, they
all agreed to try the road any way I wished.
I then represented to them the necessity for our
persevering in the direction we were in, and that
without a moment's delay ; that according to
Paul's report, there were only eight miles, which
would scarcely be 300 yards to each ; and that the
joint efforts of so many men and horses would soon
remove the trifling difficulties before us ; my
opinion, therefore, was that we should set about
making the road on the following day. To this
they all agreed, and we parted in good spirits.
I began to think that all would go on well;
but I soon found out, to my great disappointment,
that what was settled within doors was soon forgotten out of doors ; for when our meeting broke
up, our resolutions fell to the ground. Old Pierre,
even, began to waver, and for every one that was
in favour of making the road, ten were against
it ; to add to our perplexities, there unfortunately fell, during the night, more than a foot of
March 20th,.—Notwithstanding the conflicting
opinions regarding the road, and the unlooked-for
fall of snow, I ultimately succeeded in getting forty-
five men to start with eighty horses, to begin the ROAD-MAKING  IN  SNOW.
road ; and never did I set out on any undertaking
with less hope of success than I did on this. On
arriving at the place, we were for some time at a
loss how to begin ; but after a good deal of
manoeuvring, one man on snow-shoes took the foremost horse by the bridle, while another applied* the
whip, to urge the animal on. When it had made
several plunges forward, it became fatigued, and
would neither lead nor drive ; so there we left it
in the snow, with nothing to be seen but the head
and ears above the surface.
The second was then whipped up alongside of
the first, and urged forward, making several
plunges still further on ; and then it lay in the
snow, some six or seven yards a-head of the other.
The third did the same, and so on until the last ;
when nothing was to be seen of our eighty horses
but a string of heads and ears above the snow ! We
then dragged out the first, next the second, and so
on, till we had them all back again. The difficulty
of getting them extricated was greater than that of
urging them forward ; ; but we were partly recompensed by the novelty of the scene, and the mirth and
glee which the operation diffused among the people.
All this was very well for a while ; but the men, as
well as the horses, soon got tired of it. This single
operation, for we only went OYer all the horses
once, occupied us nine hours ; but we got 580 yards
of the road half made, and returned to camp after
dusk. ^9.
Our first attempt, although an arduous one, produced no very flattering result—scarcely a quarter
of a mile of road ; but I represented to the people
that it was far beyond my expectation ; though in
my own mind, the task appeared beyond our means
of accomplishing, and one of the most discouraging
undertakings I had ever attempted. And if so hopeless under shelter of the woods, what would it be out
in the open plains, where the road would be liable,
from every blast of wind, drift, or snow, to be
filled up in as many hours as we should spend days
in opening it ? I, however, put the best face on
things, and did everything in my power to cherish
hope, which was so necessary to encourage my
people to persevere and finish the task which we
had begun.
March 21st—After some hesitation among the
people, we again resumed our labours at the road ;
but out of forty men and eighty-five horses which
had set out in the morning, twenty-eight of the
former and fifty of the latter were all that reached
the ground. Thus after eight hours' hard toil, in
much the same way as the day before, we only
made the distance of 370 yards, when dark night
brought us back to our quarters. With various degrees of success, and much anxiety and labour, we
continued, doing more or less each day, until the
27th, when we reached the extremity of the woods.
But in the open plains our progress promised to be
exceedingly slow and discouraging, both on account DISHEARTENING  LABOUR.
of the additional distance we had to travel backwards and forwards, as well as the uncertainty of
the winds and drift, which filled up the road nearly
as fast as we could open it. Nor had we, after
eight days' harassing labour, got over more than
one-third of the distance ! Although, if anything,
the depth of the snow had decreased, yet in no
place was it under seven feet. There were also
other inconveniences ; the mornings were cold as
in winter, but during the day the sun melted the
snow on our clothes and made them uncomfortable,
while in the evening they froze, and became stiff on
our backs. The ta&k was so disheartening, that on
the last day I could only muster eight men and a
few horses ; and before night I found myself left at
the task with only four of that number : I alone
worked with heart and hand.
After smoking our pipes, we turned our faces
towards the camp ; but not to enjoy pleasure ; for
a dark and discouraging gloom had now spread its
influence from one end of the camp to the other.
Still trying, however, to show a cheerful countenance, I began to praise our exertions, and
admire the progress we had made, in order to draw
from the better-affected portion of my people a full
disclosure of their feelings on the subject of the
road ; although I could read their feelings and their
thoughts as well as I knew my own. Disappointment now appeared inevitable, and I had soon to
regret that I had given them  the opportunity of
VOL. II. D 34
expressing themselves ; for their looks alone, without
words, might have convinced any man that nothing
was working within but a determined stand against
anv more road-making.     I therefore changed the
«/ © o
subject as quickly as possible.
In this perplexing situation I felt that something
must be done without delay ;   I therefore began to
mention to them the advantages we should derive
from changing our plan of proceeding altogether.
Not that I really thought we could better it ;  but
I foresaw that without something new to divert
their present feelings, we should never advance.
If discouraged before, I found but little to cheer
© *
or console me in the camp. Provisions were scarce;
neither did our horses more than ourselves fare too
well: everything, in fact, seemed to be against us.
The greatest difficulty, however, was with the
treacherous Iroquois, who in proportion as other
troubles embarrassed me, never failed to take advantage of them ; and at this time it was rumoured that they were trying to diffuse disaffection
throughout the whole party. Perceiving a storm
to be fast gathering, I prepared to avert it ; and
immediately convened a meeting, not only of the
four principal men, as they were called—for their
influence as well as their fidelity was at an end—
but of all hands.
After setting forth the great progress that we
had made, in so short a time, and awarding the
praise that was due to their unwearied exertions, I A  NEW  PLAN  PROPOSED.
proposed, as an improvement, that there should be
a week's respite from labour, in order to lay in a
stock of provisions and to give time for the snows
to decrease in the mountains and on the other side \
then, with a few fine days, we should be able to
finish the road in a short time. And as the horse
plan did not succeed well, I proposed that we
should adopt a more efficient and expeditious plan
of proceeding, which was this :—We should get
mallets and wooden shovels made ; two men, with
mallets, would break the crust of the snow, the
shovel men would follow them, and shovel it away,
while the greater part would keep behind, packing
down the snow with their feet. Twenty men
would be thus employed, and the others would
guard the camp, and provide food; and those who
worked in the snow one day would remain in camp
the next : we shoâld thus make short work of it.
Having stated my plan in a few words, I paused
for their answer.    Their silence was enough.
I now found, but too late, that I had committed
a blunder in assembling all the camp together ; for
it is always easier to gain on the few than on the
many. At last, they broke silence; and twenty
voices spoke at once. I was mortified to find
that my private instructions to Grand Paul, respecting the length of the road, had become known;
which by no means mended the matter. John
Grey stated, that " the road across the mountain
was twenty  miles, and the snows nearer twenty
D  2 feet deep, than seven." Old Pierre and others observed, " We had no provisions for ourselves, and
our animals were starving ; " while many swore
against making any more of the road : " We will
neither work with mallets nor shovels." In short,
the universal cry was for turning back, and relinquishing the road as impracticable. "Where are
the provisions?' was the general cry; "our families
are now starving." I told them that, if we had no
provisions, we had hunters, we had guns and
ammunition. " I will answer for provisions," said I :
"let there be but a good understanding and unanimity among ourselves ; secure that, and I will
answer for the rest. Besides," continued I, "in
accomplishing the task before us, we can boast of
having done what was never before equalled by
man in this country."
After some time, and a great deal of speechifying,
a few of them began to relent, and expressed
themselves friendly to the plan of making the
road ; simply, I supposed, because it was new.
Among the first, were some of the Iroquois: we
must give every one their due ; and had I not
known their character too well, I might have been
led to believe that they were in right good faith.
Even John Grey seemed to adopt my views ; this
man, an Iroquois half-breed from Montreal, and
educated, had no small degree of influence over his
countrymen ; but he was unfortunately a refractory
and base character.     However, after stating my JOHN   GREY  MUTINOUS.
views to them, they all agreed to continue the road,
after a week's respite. I began once more to
entertain some hopes of success ; we smoked our
pipes together, and parted for the night in the most
friendly manner.
Notwithstanding this apparently good understanding, I soon learnt that John Grey had been
very busy in trying to poison the minds of the
Iroquois and of the others, by strongly advising
them to turn back and not to submit to any more
road-making : he urged that I was but one man,
and could not force them to it ; that they had dug
long enough in snow ; that they would have a
summer's work of it, and he doubted if they could
do it in one summer ; and he swore that back he
was determined to go, and he would like to see
the man that would prevent him. Such language,
among people already tired and disaffected, had
great influence.
I knew that Grey was disseminating an ill
feeling in the camp, and I was of course preparing,
in the isolated position in which I stood, to counteract it. Nothing, however, declared itself openly
until the second day in the evening. I had hoped
his machinations would have failed of their effect ;
but a little before sunset he came to my tent,
saying that he wished to see me. I told him to
come in, and, after sitting down for a few minutes,
he said that "he was deputed by the Iroquois
and  other  freemen   to  let   me know that  they 38
regretted their promise made at the council, and
could not fulfil it ; that they were all resolved on
abandoning the undertaking, and turning back ! "
He urged, " that by remaining to make the road,
they would lose the spring hunt ; and besides that
they were tired of remaining in the large party,
and wished to hunt apart : moreover, that they
did not come to this country to be making roads;
they came to hunt beaver. As for myself" said
John, 1 others may do what they please, but I
shall turn back : I am a free man, and I suppose I
can do as I please."
John having proceeded thus far, I got out of all
patience, and interrupted hito, by observing " whatever you have got to say, John, on your own behalf
I am ready to hear, but not one word on behalf of
any one else. This," I continued, " savours very
much of a combination to defraud the Company
and disappoint me. You have all taken a wrong
view of things : every rose," continued I, " has its
thorn, John ; so has the hunting of beaver. You
say that by remaining to make the road you will
lose the spring hunt ; you will do no such thing ;
but by turning back you will lose not only the
spring but the fall hunt. The spring here m later
by a month than in any other part of the country.
Your plan is a bad one ; even were it at your
choice which is not the ease. Follow my advice,
John : I alone am answerable for your hunts. If
you disliked large parties, yon should have remained WITH JOHN   GREY.
at home, and not have come to this country at all :
small parties cannot hunt here. As to your digging
in snows and making roads, it is of two evils
perhaps the least : it is better for you to be making
roads for a few days, than to have for many weeks
to contend with a powerful and dangerous enemy ;
which would be the case if we passed through
Hell's Gates and had to fight our way among
the Blackfeet. We have all embarked on a sea
of troubles ; great quantities of furs are not to
be secured in these parts without fatigues, cares,
hardships, and perils. My advice therefore to you,
and to all, is to submit to circumstances, and
abandon the idea of turning back."
John, however, persisted in his opinion, and
swore that neither fair words nor anything else
should alter his mind, that "back he would go."
" You are a most unreasonable man," replied I ;
"you gave your consent two nights ago; things
are not worse now than they were then, and you
now withdraw that consent. But I did wrong in
asking your consent, I ought rather to have commanded it ; and for the future I am determined to
ask no man's consent : if you attempt to turn
back, I shall certainly try to stop you, or any one
else : " on my saying so, John abruptly got up, bade
me good night, and went off.
Grey's conduct made me pass an anxious and uncomfortable night. As usual, I got up early in
the morning, and soon afterwards, sure enough, as 40
he had said, John collected, saddled, and loaded his
horses ready for a start, and every eye in the camp
was directed to witness his departure. Affairs had
now come to a crisis ; the success or failure of the
expedition depended on the issue. I was determined now to act, and resolutely went up to him
with a cocked pistol in my hand, ordering him
either to pay his debt, or unsaddle his horses and
turn them off with the others, or he was a dead
man. John, seeing no person interfere, unsaddled
his horses, and I returned to my tent. Not another
word was spoken, and here the affair ended.
Although I had now succeeded in settling the
knotty point with Grey, yet I was not altogether
without my fears that something might take place
to disturb our arrangements : it was evident from
the sullen conduct of the Iroquois, that if left together they would still be plotting mischief. To
divide them as quickly as possible was my only
plan. I therefore fitted out and despatched a party
of ten men to cross the mountain in pursuit of buffalo; not forgetting to place four of the Iroquois
among them. The other hunters were dispersed in
every direction, in quest of smaller game ; and I
kept my friend John Grey in the camp with myself.
The small deer had become very scarce, and in
my anxiety to get a stock of provisions laid up,
that we might proceed with the road, I offered a
reward of a new gun to the hunter who should
prove himself most deserving.    This had a good BIG-HORNED  SHEEP.
effect ; but as the valleys furnished but little, they
had to proceed to the mountains in search of the
big-horned, or mountain sheep, as they are called.
A third party took to the woods to make mallets
and shovels. Thus I had them all divided the
next day, and this arrangement promised to preserve peace and good order for a time.
Scarcity of provisions troubled me greatly, and
to ensure success as far as possible, I studied to
make such a distribution of the people, that neither
plots nor treachery could well be carried on without
detection ; and with strict economy in the camp,
and an equitable division of everything that came
into it, we hoped to guard against the worst. The
big-horn sheep party had good luck during several
days; but those animals were smaller in size than I
had been in the habit of seeing elsewhere, with heads
very disproportionate to the size of their bodies,
and horns still more disproportionate to the size of
the head. The ' average weight of these animals
was 70 lbs., and the head of the male generally
weighed as much as a third of the body, while the
horns were twice the weight of the head without
them. One of the ram's horns brought into our
camp measured forty-nine inches in length, following
the curve or greatest circle round the convex side ;
and the circumference in the thickest part was
twenty-eight inches : this horn weighed eleven
On the seventh day after starting, the buffalo I
hunters^ from across the mountain, arrived successful ; and our supplies from all quarters put us
in possession of eight days' provisions in advance,
with which we prepared to resume our labours at
the road.
April 3rd.—At six o'clock in the morning, after
an interval of seven days, I set out with forty men
and seventy horses, with shovels and mallets for
each—John Grey among the number—to resume
our labours at the road. After reaching the place,
however, the weather turned out so bad with sleet
and snow, that we were forced to return home
without doing much : and, what was still worse,
many parts of the road already made were filled
up again. This was a very discouraging circumstance, and caused a good deal of murmuring:
indeed, the distance from our camp to the scene of
operations^ being not less than nine miles, and the
return another nine, was of itself^ without any
other labour, a day's work. Many hints were
given by the Iroquois that had I now and then a
dram of rum to give them, my road would soon be
made. I knew myself that a little, in our present
state, would have done more than anything else
towards hastening on the road ; and I would at this
time have given twenty guineas for as many pints
of rum, had it been in my power to get them.
April Mh.—At an early hour this morning we
were again at work, with the same number of
men as yesterday.    Whether from the novelty of SUCCESS   OF  THE  NEW  PLAN.
our shovel operations, or that the new plan was
better than the old one, I could not say ; but we
made, in the usual depth of snow and in the same
number of hours, 810 yards ; though we were so
tired at night as to be hardly able to mount our
On the 5th, with the same number of men as the
day before, we only made about 450 yards, although
we laboured for the same number of hours.
On the 6 th we did nothing at all. I attempted
to start in the morning, but the attempt proved
fruitless, there being a good deal of reluctance and
* o        ©
altercation among the parties ; so that I had at
last to yield to circumstances, and there was no
road-making that day. I was rather apprehensive
that, as the conflicting opinions were marked with
a good deal of bad feeling, they would have resulted
in a second break-up ; but, fortunately, we got all
our differences arranged, and closed the day in
April 7th.—Early this morning, I started with
thirty-five men, and happening to fall on a small
ridge part of the way, we succeeded in opening
rather more than a mile in length, in almost bare
plains* This was cheering, and greatly revived our
sinking spirits ; but we were kept in constant
alarms, fearing the wind and drift should rise : for
had it blown but an hour it might have destroyed
the labour of days. Our hopes now rested on calm
weather, and we had to labour day and night tiU we .'
should accomplish the task before us. Six of the
men volunteered to work all night, some encamped
on the ground, and others went home. I was among
the latter number ; for I could not venture to sleep
out one night, lest new troubles arising in the camp
should disarrange all my plans.
April 8th.—I set out at sunrise this morning
with every man and boy I could muster, leaving
only five men to guard the camp; and not a murmur was heard. Our success now depending on despatch, several of the women were in attendance, with
horses to carry us back at night. During last night,
the six men who volunteered their services had only
made about fifty yards. This day, to our annoyance, there fell a good deal of drizzling rain, which
wetted us to the skin, and in the evening our
clothes froze on our backs and became stiff; but
the people, notwithstanding, encamped at the edge
of the woods, instead of going home, so as to begin
early in the morning ; I and another man only returning to the camp.
April 9 th.—At an early hour, and before a
single man of the party who had slept out had got
his eyes open, I was on the ground to rouse them
up. And although we began to work somewhat
later in the day than usual, yet, before night, our
day's labour proved the best we had made; having
with our shovels, our mallets, our feet, and
the additional assistance of fifty-eight horses,
beaten down a distance of nearly two  miles in THE ROAD  IS  COMPLETED.
length. After this day's labour, and not until then,
did my people entertain a hope of success : from
that time we all indulged the anticipation of accomplishing our task in spite of every obstacle.
The wind alone, over which we had no control, was
all I now dreaded. The two next days, the 10th
and the 11th, our labour was severe.
April 12th.—At five o'olock in the afternoon of
this day, I with four others, after a day of severe
toil, reached the other side on horseback ; buj) being
too late, and our horses too tired to return, we encamped there. The dread of the wind blowing
kept me from sleeping, and when I did slumber a
little after the fatigue of the day, it was only to
dream of fine roads and pleasant walks, and then
awake to blame my fancy for having deceived me.
Nor was it till we had reached the other side, that
I was fully aware of my situation ; for had it come
on to blow, the road through which we had forced
our way would have been rendered impassible, and
I should then have found myself completely separated from my people for days : all our labour
and anxiety would then have been to no purpose,
had my people taken advantage of the opportunity
thus offered to return back. But, fortunately, the
night was calm, and I got back and joined my
people on the 13 th.
On the 14 th we raised camp, and bidding farewell to the Yalley of Troubles, where we had been
kept in anxious suspense for thirty-three days, we 46
put up for the night at the head of the creek, or
foot of the mountain, prior to our crossing it.
And an anxious night we passed.
The spot on which we now encamped forms the
extreme poiotof Flathead River, a distance of 345
miles from its entrance into the main Columbia a
little above the Kettle Falls; of which some 250
are navigable for craft of moderate size, and the
rest for loaded small canoes.
On the top of the mountain before us, over
which our road led, and not more than a mile from
our camp, was a small circular spring of water
issuing out of the ground ; I stood over it for some
time, smoking my pipe, with a foot on eaeh side of
it. Yet this spring is the source, as far as I can
learn, of the great Missouri River; which, after
meandering through the mountain, nearly parallel
with our road, crossed the grand prairie, where,
uniting with several other small streams, a river
O 3
fifty feet broad and about two and a half deep is
formed, which then flows in an easterly direction.
April 1 5th.—Long before daylight, we were all
on foot, in order to profit by the snow crust in
passing the mountain. When all were ready, I took
my stand on the side of the road as they began to
ascend, to see that all passed. As soon as we had
reached the summit of the mountain, the string, a
mile and a half in length, began to form. Six men,
with about thirty of the light horses, led the van ;
the loaded horses came next ; the families followed ; CROSSING  THE  MOUNTAIN.
and  I,  with four  of  the men,   brought   up the
Every now and then a halt unavoidably took
place. A load was upset or deranged ; a horse
got engulphed, or some of the families became
entangled in the snow ; so that it was one constant
run forward and backward, lifting, adjusting, and
encouraging all day. It was a novel scene in the
wilderness : nothing appearing above the surface
of the snow, of all that was moving, but the heads
and shoulders of the riders. Children were crying
with hunger, men complaining of thirst, women
screaming with affright, and dogs howling; yet,
amidst all this bustle, anxiety, and confusion, we
pressed forward, and got safely across, after fifteen
hours' exertions, just as the sun was setting, and
without loss or accident to either man or beast.
My hope now was, that the snow-storm might
render the road behind us impassible to both man
and beast ; so as to prevent the Iroquois or any
one else from attempting to turn back, or give us
further annoyance.
But the struggle was over. The distance, however, proved to be neither eight miles, as was
stated, nor yet twelve, as Paul had given us to
understand, but eighteen ! And, perhaps, few men
in the ordinary routine of their lives in this
country, ever suffered more anxiety, or laboured
harder to accomplish the task they had undertaken,
than we did during the past month.
Ii il
Making this road through the snow took the
united labour of fifty men and 240 horses, with
all the other available means within our power,
for twenty-one days. It must be allowed to have
been an arduous undertaking, with such a medley
of people and so difficult to manage ; the more so,
when it is taken into consideration that our supper
at night depended on the good or bad luck of our
hunters during the day. To their exertions and
perseverance, indeed, no small merit was due. CHAPTER XI.
Camp regulations—Beaver—Tracks of enemies—Hot spring—Snow-
storm-*-Narrow escape—Missouri—Lewis and Clarke's track—
Successful trapping — Dangerous passes — The battle — Seven
trappers killed — Piegans roasted — Hardihood — Iroquois
shot — Horrid cruelties — Revenge — Salmon River — Herds
of buffalo — Canoe Point — Young grass —War roads — Night-
watch — Heedless trappers — Martin and his horses — Scouting parties—Discouraging prospects—Hackana in favour—New
prospects—Dangerous roads — Disappointments—Effect—Hackana in disgrace—A horse killed—The alarm—Escape of a child—
•Twelve days' experience—Return to Canoe
-The beaver cache — Swimming—Salmon River—Hot
springs—Enemies appear—Pursuit—Buffalo—Forlorn trappers—
Piegan war-party—Fruitless search—The mistake—Two men
robbed —Looking the wrong way—Subterraneous river—A four
days' ramble—Cold—Horses die—Division of the party—River
Malade—Alarm—War-party—A night's dancing—Indian cunning
—A horse killed—Scalps—Trapping difficulties—Watch-—Perverse trappers—The alarm—Paying too dear for a drink of cold
water—A horse killed—A scamper—Piegans again—Chief's declaration — New road — Frightful passes — Hard shifts — Reid's
River—Dismal prospects—Disaffected people—A stand still—Two
Bannatees—Their story—Three Bannatees—Their fears.
Rock turn again-
The mountain, with all its perplexities and difficulties, being now behind us, we considered ourselves on hunting ground ; and also on enemy's
ground :   both circumstances  requiring additional
r vJΧ
care. For these reasons, new and stringent regulations, for our camp by night as well as our proceedings
by day, became absolutely necessary. It was, therefore, settled, as to the night-watch, that all the
horses should in future be collected every evening
into one band, close by our camp, and there hobbled and guarded ; and that not less than four
men at a time should be on the watch after dark,
to be relieved once every night, with a superintendent to each. As to our proceedings by day, it
was agreed that all hands should raise camp
together ; that no person should run a-head, either
to hunt or set traps, nor lag behind, but that while
travelling they should keep close together ; that no
traps should be put in the water before the party
encamped, and that no person should sleep out of
camp. The safety and success of the expedition
depending upon a rigid observance of these rules,
it was decided that any individual wilfully disregarding them should be punished.
We now proposed to advance through the
mountains without any plan as to our route, as
the appearance of the country for beaver and other
local circumstances would henceforth regulate all
our movements. Leaving, therefore, our mountain
encampment, we advanced in nearly an easterly
direction, crossing in succession five small branches
of the head waters of the Missouri. On one of
these it was that M'Donald lost his man Anderson,
last year, by the Piegans.    After proceeding some HOT  SPRING A  SNOW-STORM.
distance, we followed down one of these creeks for
upwards of twenty miles ; but during all that distance we only met with one solitary tree on its
banks : on this woodless creek, we encamped the
second day, and took seventy beaver at the first
lift. Here, however, fresh Piegan tracks were
frequent^ seen, which admonished us to take care
of our horses ; the new regulations were, therefore,
strictly enforced, both day and night.
At a little distance from our camp, we found one
of those hot springs so often mentioned in former
expeditions ; but this being the first I had ever seen,
I viewed it with some degree of curiosity. It was
of a circular form, ten feet in diameter, but only
about nine inches deep, having a white sediment at
bottom ; the water was reddish and tasting of iron ;
' © 3
no   grass   grew   about   its   margin.     The   water,
although hot, did not boil.
On leaving Hot Spring Encampment the following day, and while crossing a large open plain, we
were suddenly overtaken by a furious snow-storm.
In a moment the day was almost turned to night,
so that we got completely bewildered ; one was
running against another, without any knowing
whither to go for shelter. In this perplexing
situation I called out for each to shift for himself; and, meantime, I with some others went
off, and after several hours' wandering got to some
woods a httle before dusk, where we passed the
night.      The   storm   continuing   with   unabated
o ©
violence, we could not stir all the next day ; thexiay
following, however, the weather clearing up, we
began to travel about in search of our lost companions, and by night we had got together once
more ; except two of the Iroquois and their families, in all seven persons : as their horses were
found with their saddles and baggage on their
backs, we expected that those unfortunates had
perished in the storm. All hands were off in search
of them; and we kept looking along the adjacent
woods, never thinking they would have lodged in the
bare plains. But I and some others happening to
cross the plain where the storm had overtaken us,
and seeing a dog belonging to them howling in a
low place, it at once confirmed our suspicion that
they had perished ; we therefore approached the spot
with anxious steps, and after some time we, by mere
chance, found them alive : buried, however, under
two or three feet of snow. As soon as the storm
broke out, they had dismounted, and rolling themselves up in a leathern tent, lay quiet ; they had
tried to get up, and had made their way to the light
of the sun, but the snow having melted upon them,
their clothes had got wet, and the weather was so
piercingly cold that they durst not venture to leave
their hiding-place. There they had been for three
nights and two days, without food or fire ; and they
must have soon perished for want of both, if we
had not come to their relief; as they had nothing to
kindle a fire, and were at least six miles from the
woods.     .We   dug  them   out  of the   snow,  and
wrapping them up in part of our   clothing,  got
them to our camp ; where, after some care, they
all recovered.
After leaving Stormy Encampment, we wandered about through the intricate passes of the
mountains^trapping and hunting with tolerable
success for six days. During this time we passed
the middle branch of the Missouri, and the track
where Lewis and Clarke crossed over from that
river to the waters of the Columbia, on their journey
to the Pacific, in 1804. While in the last defile, we
took ninety-five beaver in one morning, and sixty
more during the same day ; but the next time we set
our traps, we only took three. Before we got out of
part of our rugged road, we had, in one place, to
ascend on the east side of a mountain for about
two miles, and then descend the same on the west
side. For the first mile the descent was so steep,
that anything dropped from the top rolled down
several hundred yards without stopping ; and for
the next mile in length, the intricate and tortuous
windings were so short, so frequent, and so steep—
sometimes up, sometimes down, side ways, cross
ways, and in perpendicular steps—that we had numerous hair-breadth escapes, with ourselves as well
as our horses, before we reached the bottom;
which, however, we providentially did without
Being now relieved from the mountains on the B
east side, we considered ourselves in tjie Snake
territory; a country comparatively more open than
that which we had been wandering through for
some time past. Advancing in a westerly direction, we came to that memorable spot, where, as
already noticed, M'Donald had lost seven of his
men in a pitched battle with the Piegans, the year
before ; and as we promised to notice the particulars
of that unfortunate rencontre, we give it here, in
the words of those who were eye-witnesses.
One day, when they had travelled until dark in
search of water, they found some at the bottom of
a deep and rocky ravine, down which they went
and encamped. They had seen no traces of
enemies during the day, and being tired, the}^ all
went to sleep, without keeping watch. In the
morning, however, just at the dawn of day, they
were saluted from the top of the ravine, before they
got up, with a volley of balls about their ears;
without, however, any being killed or wounded :
one of them had the stock of his gun pierced
through with a ball, and another of them his
powder-horn shivered to pieces; but this was all
the injury they sustained from the enemy's discharge. The alarm was instantly given, all hands
in confusion 'sprang up and went out to see what
was the matter; some with one shoe on and the
other off, others naked, with a gun in one hand
and their clothes in the other. When they perceived
the  Indians on the top of the rocks, yelling and
flourishing their   arms, the whites   gave   a  loud
huzza, and all hands were  collected together  in
an   instant ;  but  the  Indians  instead  of  taking
advantage  of  their   position,  wheeled about and
marched  off  without firing  another shot.
M'Donald, at the head of thirty men, set out
to pursue4hem ; but finding the ravine too steep
and rocky to ascend, they were apprehensive that
the sudden disappearance of the Indians was a
stratagem to entrap them, when they might have
been popped off by the enemy from behind
stones and trees, without having an opportunity
of defending themselves. Acting on this opinion,
they returned, and taking a supply of powder and
ball with them, they mounted their horses, to the
number of forty-five, and then pursued the enemy,
leaving twenty men behind to guard the camp.
When our people got to the head of the ravine, the
Indians were about a mile off, and all on foot,
having no horses, with the exception of five for
carrying their luggage ; i and our people, before they
could get up with them, had to pass another ravine
still deeper and broader than the one they were
encamped in, so that before they had got down on
one side of it the enemy had got up on the other
.side. And here again the Indians did not avail
themselves of their advantage, but allowed our
people to follow without firing a shot at them, as if
encouraging them on; and so bold and confident
were they, that   many of them  bent  themselves
— — 56
down in a posture of contempt, by way of bidding
them defiance.
As soon as our people had got over the second
ravine, they took a sweep, wheeled about, and met
the Indians in the teeth ; then dismounting, the
battle began, without a word being spoken on either
side. As soon as the firing commenced, the Indians
began their frantic gestures, and whooped and yelled
with the view of intimidating ; they fought like
demons, one fellow all the time waving a scalp on
the end of a pole: nor did they yield an inch of
ground till more than twenty of them lay dead ;
at last, they threw down their guns, and held up
their hands as a signal of peace. By this time our
people had lost three men, and not thinking they
had yet taken ample vengeance for their death, they
made a rush on the Indians, killed the fellow who
held the pole, and carried off the scalp and the five
horses. The Indians then made a simultaneous dash
on one side, and got into a small coppice of wood,
leaving their dead on the spot where they fell. Our
people supposed that they had first laid down their
arms and next taken to the bush because they
were short of ammunition, as many of the shots
latterly were but mere puffs. Unfortunately for the
Indians, the scalp taken proved to be none other
than poor Anderson's, and this double proof of
their guilt so enraged our people, that to the bush
they followed them.
M'Donald   sent   to  the   camp   for   buck-shot,
and then poured volleys into the bush among them,
from the distance of some twenty or thirty yards,
till they had expended fifty-six pounds weight ; the
Indians all this time only firing a single shot now
and then when the folly and imprudence of our
people led them too near ; but they seldom missed
their mark, and here three more of the whites fell.
At this part of the conflict, two of our own people,
an Iroquois and a Canadian, got into a high dispute
which was the bravest man ; when the former
challenged the latter to go with him into the bush
and scalp a Piegan. The Canadian accepted the
challenge ; taking each other by one hand, with a
scalping knife in the other, savage like, they entered
the bush, and advanced until they were within
four or five feet of a Piegan, when the Iroquois
said, " I will scalp this one, go you and scalp
another ;'J but just as the Iroquois was in the act
of stretching out his hand to lay hold of his
victim the Piegan shot him through the head, and
so bespattered the Canadian with his brains that he
was almost blind ; the latter, however, got back
again to his comrades, but deferred taking the
M'Donald and his men being fatigued with
firing, thought of another and a more effectual plan
of destroying the Piegans. It blew a strong gale
of wind at the time, so they set fire to the bush
of dry and decayed wood ; it burnt with the
rapidity of straw, and the devouring element laid 58
the whole bush in ashes in a very short time.
When it was first proposed, the question arose who
should go and fire the bush, at the muzzle of the
Piegans' guns. "The oldest man in the camp,"
said M'Donald ; " and I 'IP guard him." The lot
fell upon Bastony, a superannuated hunter on the
wrong side of seventy ; the poor and wrinkled old
man took the torch in his hand and advanced,
trembling every step with the fear of instant death
before him ; while M'Donald and some others
walked at his heels with their guns cocked. The
bush was fired, the party returned, and volleys of
buck-shot were again poured into the bush to aid
the fire in the work of destruction.
About one hundred yards from the burning
bush, was another much larger bush, and while the
fire was consuming the one, our people advanced
and stationed themselves at the end of the other, to
intercept any of the Piegans who might attempt
the doubtful alternative of saving themselves by
taking refuge in it. To ensure success, our people
left open the passage from the one bush to the
other, while they themselves stood in two rows,
one upon each side, with their guns cocked ; suddenly the half-roasted Piegans, after uttering a
scream of despair, burst through the flames and
made a last and expiring effort to gain the other
bush ; then our people poured in upon each side
of them a fatal volley of ball and buck-shot,
which almost finished what the flames had spared. CRUELTY  AND   ITS  PUNISHMENT.
Yet, notwithstanding all these sanguinary precautions, a remnant escaped by getting into the
bush. The wounded victims who fell under the
last volley, the Iroquois dealt with in their own
way-—with the knife.
After the massacre was ended, our people collected
their dead and returned to the camp at sunset ; not
We should suppose to rejoiee, but rather to mourn.
We afterwards learned that only seven out of
the seventy-five which formed the party of the
unfortunate Pîegans, returned home to relate the
O 3
mournful tale. Although our people were drawn
into this unfortunate affair with justice on their
side, yet they persevered in it with folly and ended
iè with cruelty : no wonder, then, if they afterwards
paid for their cruelty with their own blood.
Leaving the scene of this tragedy, we journeyed
on to the westward for some time, until we
reached a strong and rapid stream about fifty yards
broad, which empties itself into the Great South
branch, called by our hunters Salmon River. I
thought the more appropriate name would have
been Lewis's Fork, as it was the first Columbia
waters the exploring party fell on after crossing the
Rocky Mountains. This stream forced its way through
a verf bleak, sterile, and rocky part of the country ;
yet we crossed it and ascended up the west side for
upwards of ninety miles, until we got to a place
called Canoe Point, where the different branches
from the four points of the compass form a cross. {9
This stream runs in the direction of north-west.
It did not prove rich in beaver, fifty-five at a lift
being the most we took at one time, during our
journey on it. Here in many places the snow had
begun to disappear, and the young grass grew up
fast ; and here our horses fed, for the first time since
we left Flathead Fort, without digging in the
snow. The further we advanced, the scarcer were
the beaver; we often took no more than twenty a
day. Buffalo were abundant, immense herds of
these animals being seen in every direction ; but
they were not fat at this season : in one of the
valleys through which we passed, there could not
have been less than 10,000 in one herd, out of
which our hunters killed sixty; and we passed on,
leaving them still feeding on the young grass.
Here game of every description was in the utmost
abundance, deer were feeding in herds, and wild
fowls of every kind covered the waters; yet we
seldom disturbed any of them, except for amusement, for our camp teemed with provisions : nevertheless, so great was the temptation, and so natural
is it for hunters and trappers to waste ammunition,
that all day, whether travelling or in camp, we
heard shots in every direction.
With all this profusion about us, we weçe not
exempt from anxiety ; for Blackfeet .and Piegan
war-roads were everywhere seen, and fresh tracks
of men and horses were frequent : yet it was
with the utmost difficulty I  could convince  the HEEDLESS  TRAPPERS.
people of our dangerous situation, and the necessity
of watching their horses strictly at night.
One morning, on getting up at break of day (for
early rising is indispensable in these parts) I found
twenty-four of the Iroquois horses wandering at
large among the hills ; on calling the owners to
account, who had been on the watch that night, I
found that they had turned them out to feed : I
ordered the horses to be brought in, and warned
them against a repetition of such conduct. But
the next morning, I found six more out of the
guard, belonging to Martin, another of the Iroquois,
who confessed that he had turned his out to feed ;
a practice neither allowed nor necessary, as our
horses had always time enough to eat during the
day. I immediately sent off two men for the
horses, telling Martin that since he would not take
care of them, I should ; reminding him that he
owed the Company a heavy debt, and that if his
horses were stolen his hunt would be at an end,
as without them he could never pay his debt, and
moreover himself and family would become a
burden to the camp ; therefore, I should place
the horses to his credit, and he and his family
might henceforth provide for themselves without
» The next morning, on raising camp, I ordered
Martin's horses to be loaded, and we set off, leaving
him and his family sitting by the fire ; the other
Iroquois, not wishing to leave Martin behind, lent
him some of their horses for the day, so that he
journeyed along with us. On putting up at night,
old Pierre and two others came to intercede in
Martin's behalf; so, after receiving every assurance
that they would all take good care of their horses
in future, and observe the regulations of the camp,
I dehvered Martin's horses up to him : this was
what I wanted ; and the example had, for a long
time afterwards, a good effect, not only among
the Iroquois, but among the others.
In consequence of the fresh tracks of Indians
which had been  discovered lately, we selected a
%9    *
strong place for our camp ; then, after delivering a
fresh supply of ammunition to all hands, I sent out
two scouting parties to see that there were no
enemies lurking about, and at the same time to
search for beaver. Both returned unsuccessful,
having seen neither enemy nor beaver ; one of the
parties passed the defile where the veteran John
Day, who died in 1819, was buried ; the other
party fell on a branch of Reid's River. The day
following, I sent out two other exploring parties ;
but after two days' search, they returned, having
met with very few beaver.
At last, I applied to our Snake slave for information ; he gave me to understand that he knew the
country well, and that there was plenty of beaver
in the western quarter, but that the roads were
not passable with horses. I decided on sending him
and some others to visit that quarter ; and at the
end of three days they returned, and reported that
they had not seen much, but that the further we
went the more beaver we should find, and what
they had seen promised well to repay the trouble
of going there to trap.
I was so pleased with this information, that
I gave Hackana (that was the name we had given
the Snake) a second-hand gun as a present, which
he was not a little proud of; and the people among
themselves gave him also several trifling articles, so
that our Snake guide, for we honoured him with
that title, was held in considerable favour, and
promised to be a useful member of our little community in future.
We had, however, reached a point where it
became necessary for us to decide on the course we
intended to pursue for the rest of the season. I,
therefore, called all the people together, and described the country to them, and as it did not
appear to me that one side was preferable to the
other, I left it to them to make their choice. I
then told them that the country to our left, or
south-west, would lead us along the foot of the
Rocky Mountains to Henry's Fork, and crossing
there Lewis's River, or the main south branch, we
might proceed by the Blackfeet River to the
Buffalo Snakes, the Sherry-clikas, and Bears' Lake,
where the country was already known ; but on the
other hand, if we took the west and south-west side,
the country was in many places unknown to the
^ 64
whites, and we should have to run the risk, whether
we were successful or not.
Old Pierre and some others observed, " We have
already been through the country on our left, and
have trapped in that quarter for two years in succession ; there is nothing very inviting there ; we therefore prefer trying the west quarter." This opinion
they all agreed to, and it was much strengthened
by Hackana's late report ; so we decided on trying
the unknown and unfrequented part.
Having now settled our plan of operations, we
turned to the right, and entering a defile of the
mountains, proceeded on the track our Snake guide
had pointed out as leading to a beaver country.
We advanced in the direction our guide had been,
and found the rocky road most terrific ; yet in the
hope of soon reaching beaver, we continued till
both man and horse were almost exhausted with
climbing up and down ; we then encamped in
a place where our tired animals could not feed
nor ourselves get as much level ground as we could
sleep  on.
Next day, we reached the point where our
guide and his companions had turned back, and
where it was said that the beaver would well repay
the trapper for his troubles ; but all we found was
a small rocky creek, with scarcely any traces of that
animal. We encamped, however, and, after putting
one hundred and seventy traps in the water, we
only got fifteen beaver.   I then questioned our guide, DISAPPOINTMENTS.
and began to think that he knew nothing of the
country, and that we had been duped. We left
Creek Disappointment, and proceeded for three days
further, but with no better success ; here and there
we found a creek of brisk running water among
the rocks, but the stream seemed to be formed
from the melting snow. The place having not the
least signs of beaver, we encamped, and resolved
on turning back by the way we came.
The people had got into a bad humour with the
Snake and their disappointments in this quarter, so
that they were ready to quarrel with their shadows ;
even the women got by the ears, and two of them
fought like Amazons, until they had scarcely a rag
left on their backs. From Battle River, for that
was the name we gave this place, I sent off two
or three parties of discovery in various directions, and taking three men with me, we proceeded on the same duty ; but although we had
travelled all day and slept out, such was the
rugged nature of the country, that we had not
made the distance of ten miles when we were
stopped by perpetual snows : no beaver were to be
On the next morning I climbed up to the top of
a high rock, but I could see nothing of the country
around. This height I called Rock-turn-again ; and
on the top of it I deposited six balls, two flints, and
a piece of tobacco ; we then retraced our steps back
to the camp.    The other parties were likewise un-
VOL. II. F 1
successful ; and in their vexation, some were for
stripping our Snake impostor naked, others were
for tying him to a tree and leaving him.
During the day on which we arrived at: this
placeç* we had to make our way over a frightful
country. In winding among the rocks on the top
of one of the mountains, one of our horses was
killed, and a child belonging to one of the freemem
' O CD
was within a hair's breadth of sharing the same fate.
On this high ledge of rocks, the horses, and people
leading them one after another, formed a string of
nearly two miles in length ; nor was there in many
places room enough for a person toa turn round, or
look behind him, so narrow and dangerous was
the pass. In this situation, a chSd, who had been
tied to one of the [saddles, happened to slide, saddle
and all, under the horse's belly ; when the animal
took fright and began to kick, slipped over the
brink of the precipice and fell down it, together
with the child. The horse, getting jammed between
two pieces of the rock, could not move ; the mother
of the child began to scream, and the alarm spread
from one to another ; but long before it had
reached the extremity of the line, the cause of the
alarm had|! ceased. We heard only the sound,
without knowing the cause ; and I and many
others, thinking that we had been way-laid, and
attacked by the enemy, tried to follow the sound,
and reach the spot from whence it issued ; but the
whole party had got into confusion, and some time BEAVER  CACHE HOT   SPRINGS.
elapsed before we reached the place. At last, we
succeeded ; we then let down two men with ropes,
and extricated the child ; but before we had got
the men hauled up again, the horse died from the
injuries whick it had receivecL
On getting back, to Canoe Point, we resolved on
leaving some of our beaver en cache, to lighten our
horses ; we, therefore, concealed in the face of a
bank one thousand beaver, until our return. Our
late trial to the west had shaken our confidence
in that quarter, and many, therefore, were for
abandoning it altogether ; so we followed up the
east branch before going again to the west.
We prepared to cross the river, and after examining it for some distance, we found a ford ; but
although not more than seventy-five yards broad,
the current carried us so far down, that the
distance between where we entered it on one side
and where we got out on the other was more than
two hundred yards. It being late before we got
all over, we encamped for the night on the south
■,. On raising camp, we bent our course for God-
din's River, in an easterly direction ; on our way
thither we met with several hot springs, with
which this country abounds. In one of these
I was surprised to see a number of animaleulae,
as large as flies, swimming about : and they
seemed to thrive well in the hot element. I
intended to try whether or not these little inhabit-
f 2
M 68
ants of so warm a climate would not live in cold
water, but there was not a drop to be found for
miles around, and those I carried along with me
died before we reached any cold water.
On passing the height of land between Salmon
and Goddin's Rivers, we perceived five men on
horseback coming towards us ; but they wheeled
about immediately on seeing us. Taking them for
the advanced guard of a Piegan war-party, the
alarm was given, and it being near camping time,
we retreated for a short distance ; then, after fixing
the camp in a secure place near some woods, thirty
of us mounted our horses, and set off at full speed
in the direction we had seen the horsemen, in order
to try and satisfy ourselves who they might be ; but
they having taken to the mountain we lost all trace
of them. We hastened back to our camp, and after
putting it in a state of defence, and setting a double
guard on our horses, we passed the night in quietness, and awaited the morning in suspense ; long
before day, however, we were all armed and ready
for what might happen ; but all appearing quiet, we
took a turn round before raising camp, and seeing
nothing, we proceeded on our journey.
We saw but very few animals in these parts,
and began to get short of provisions ; for notwithstanding the abundance which we had met with on
Salmon River, we had laid in but a very scanty
supply, it being the custom to let the morrow
provide for itself. DAYS  VALLEY.
On reaching Goddin's River, so named after one
of my men who discovered it, I sent off eight men
to trap it downwards ; but made them leave their
horses with us, so that they might the better
conceal themselves from the enemy. I promised
at the same time to pick them up at the south end
on a certain day, while the main party proceeded
round a range of mountains in order to lay in a
supply of buffalo meat ; for we expected but few of
these animals in the direction we were about to
take : moreover, I wished to prepare some of their
hides for making canoes, in case we might afterwards  require them.
The second day we got to the buffalo, and
encamped in Day's Valley, the spot which M'Kenzie
and party visited in 1820. It was a most dreary-
looking place, and the young grass had scarcely
sprung out of the earth, so that our horses fared
but poorly : nothing was to be seen but the
tracks of buffalo and the traces of war-parties.
While our party were employed in trapping and
laying in a stock of provisions, I set off with ten
men to examine the country to the south-east. We
were absent for four days on our trip, and at the
extent of our journey we ascended a high mountain, had a good yiew of the country, and saw the
three pilot knobs quite plain, in the direction of the
east. We then passed for some distance along the
waters of the main south branch, and came to a
spot among the rocks which some Snakes had left
in -a hurry, their fire being stall alive. In their little
bulrush hut we found six beaver skins and severat
other articles, which they had abandoned through
fear on our approach. We searched about and tried
to find them, as I was very anxious to fell in with
some of the nation, in order to obtain information
about the country ; but in vain. Taking the beaver
away with us, and leaving instead articles of more
value to them, we returned to our eamp, having
seen but few beaver on our trip ; but the buffalo
were in thousands,-—a ssre sign that there were
no enemies about.
As soon as I reached the camp, I despatched two
men to River Goddin, in order to bring back the
eight men whom I had sent there to trap some
time before ; as we had changed our plan of pro-,
ceeding, and resolved, instead of going further
to the -east, to turn immediately to the wesl,
and follow up our first intention of hunting ift
that quarter for the season.
The two men set out early in the day, and
reached the place .appointed at sunset. A little
before their arrival, they perceived a smoke, and
taking it for granted that it must be our people,
they^heedlessly advanced among the bustes until
they had got within gun-shot of the place, with
the view of coming upon them by surprise, and I
frightening them; but on crossing the end of God-
din's River, which was there only a creek, when
close to where the smoke arose, they suddenly per- ESCAPE  FROM A  PIEGAN  WAR-PARTY.
ceived that tthey had fallen, not on thek comrades,
«as tibey expected, but on a Piegan war-party. On
discovering their mistake, they threw themselves
from their Shorses, ran in among the bushes, and
got into the creek ; the Indians in the meantime
axttering a hideous yell, seized their jhorses, while
<some others whooped and yelled about the bush in
search of them. All this time they were making
their way by «crawling among the mud and mire
under the banks of the creek, and the bushes being
thick rand night coming on, they fortunately got off
safely, owing solely to the approach of night ; their
torses, their traps and their blankets, however
were carried off by the Indians. The two men
continuing their flight all night and all the next
day, reached our «camp in the middle of the second
night, in a sad plight, without shoes on their feet,
and their clothes torn to rags.
After hearing their ,story, no doubt remained on
our minds as to the fate of the eight nnen ; so I im~
mediately aroused the camp, and we were ready for
a start by bneak i®£ day. Leaving fifteen men to
guard and conduct the camp after us, we, to the
number of thirty-five, went in pursuit of the
Piegans. On arriving .at the place we found
the nest, but the birds had flown ; so we gave
up the pursuit, <and iproeeeded up Goddin's River,
in search of our eight men. We had not proceeded fer, before we had the good ffortome to find
our  men  safe.     They  we»e   wholly   ignorant   of 72
our anxiety and their narrow escape, for they had
neither heard nor seen anything of the Piegans
before we reached them. It appeared that while
our men were creeping through the friendly creek,
which so fortunately aided their escape, they passed,
unseen, within ten yards of the very men whom
they had been in search of; and who were at the
time, unconscious of their dangerous situation, sleeping within half a mile of the Piegan camp.
We returned to meet the main party, and
reached the camp long before dark. On this disagreeable trip I lost my spy-glass. The following
day, I went and examined the Trois Tétons, so
named from their appearance. These three little
hills, standing in a group, are very conspicuous in
the middle of an open plain, having hot springs at
their base ; but there is no cold water nearer than
the south end of Goddin's River.
On starting the next day, we proposed following
up Goddin's River all the way to its source, as it
had never been either trapped or examined so far
before. Following up this intention, we entered
it at the extreme south point, where the two men
fell on the Piegan war-party. Here that river
enters the ground, and wholly disappears ; and the
reader will be better able to judge of the body of
water that is thus absorbed, when we reach its source.
Following up the river for about thirty miles to
the head of the main stream, we found it thirty-
five paces broad, the current strong, and running GODDIN'S  RIVER COLD.
over a rocky bottom. At this place, the river is
formed by three brandies emptying into it, one
from the north-west, another from the south-east,
and a third from the south, all of nearly equal
size, and descending from the surrounding heights.
None of them were stocked with beaver, as we only
got seven from eighty traps in one night, and few
nights were better : in one of the traps we caught
a deer, and I mention the circumstance on account
of its'novelty.
We ascended the south branch, which takes its
rise in a ridge of mountains that divides river
Goddin on the east from Salmon River on the west,
and on the very top of which we encamped on the
16 th of June. From this height I despatched two
parties of discovery in different directions, one of
which brought us accounts of having discovered a
river with considerable appearances of beaver in it,
on the south-west.
The weather until that day, during the month,
was extremely cold ; I should suppose not less
than 15° below zero on Fahrenheit's thermometer :
weather for blankets, mittens, and leather coats.
The ice continued thick on the water ; and since
the 6th instant, we had almost a succession of
stormy and boisterous weather ; while on the 14th
there fell nearly a foot of snow : here three of
our horses died from cold and fatigue.
During our journey, the Iroquois had been plotting to abandon the main party and hunt apart 74
by themselves*; more especially since my quarrel
with John Grey in the Valley of Troubles, and
with Martin for disregarding the regulations of the
camp, and neglecting his horses on Salmon River.
At la&t, Old iKerr® *was drawn into the cabal, axM.
came to me saying, that if I would but ^consent *fer
their going off, they would do much better apart.
I listened with patience to the old man's representation, but did not approve of it ; ï then refreshed
his memory with Oskononton's tale of IS 19, and:
put him in mind of their conduct at tie river
Skam-sftaugh, and their behaviour generally when
left to themselves. He still persisted, saying iiiat
they would do well, and pledged himself for their
conduct. I weighed the matter in my own 'mind,
and at last consented, thinking it better to let
tfhem go and to supply their wants cheerfully,
tian to be dragging a disaffected party along with
us ; so I fitted them out, and we parted friends :
but, to my surprise, Grey and Martin gave up the
idea, «aying they would still prefer remaining with
the mam party and running all chances. When
we turned *©ur backs on each other, Pierse and
las party made for the south branch ; while we
steered our course south-west, to the place where
the discovering party had met with beaver. On
Pierre% departure we arranged matters so as to
meet, on the first of October, at the Trois Tétons,
near Goddin's River.
On descending from the height of land, we had RIVIERE   AUX  MALADES.
to wind our steps over a prodigious elevation, the
path leading along the edge of a precipice which
overhung a foaming stream below ; our way was
full of rocks, and the place dangerous, and we had
to make leather muffles for our horses' feet, as their
hoofs were worn to the quick. On descending into
the low bottom, we found the climate changed for
the better ; the snow was off the ground, the
weather warm, and the new grass abundant.
Late in the evening we reached a stream, rt®~
ning through a deep valley, dn the direction of
south-west, called Riviere aux Malades ; on its east
bank we -encamped, at a late hour.
In the vicinity of our present «encampment were
the finest appearances of beaver we had yet seen :
in one place we counted 148 poplar trees cut
down by that animaj, in a space less than one hundred yards square. -Our first lift was ikvourable,
there being fifty-two beaver ; m. some of the traps
there were eight feet, and in others seven toes,
besides fifteen tramps that missed (altogether by the
sudden rising and falling of the water : these mischances caused a total lo's-s of thirty beaver in one
night. It is always difficult and doubtful trapping
where the water continues ebbing and flowing, £tnd
the chanees of success are small ; nevertheless, the
place was promising, the weather fine, and grass
good, so that our woca-out horses both fed and
In the afternoon *of the same day., we had to 76
turn our attention to something else than catching
beaver, for we perceived that a Piegan war-party
were descending the mountain; the cry "Enemies,
enemies," sounded in our ears, and the appearance
and numbers of the party justified our apprehensions, we having only three men in camp at the
Our first care, on perceiving the enemy, was
directed to the security of our horses, which were
all scattered ; for this purpose, one man with some
of the women and boys set off to collect and bring
them into camp ; but the confusion and fear operated so powerfully on them, that they made but
little progress—some drove them one way, some
another, so that considerable time elapsed before
they were got into a narrow point behind the camp.
While the people were securing the horses, the
other man and myself lost no time in getting our
gun pointed, the match lit, and the women and
children out of the way. Whilst all this was
going on, the uproar in the camp was great, and
being placed along the woods, it presented an appearance of large numbers, which made the enemy
still more doubtful of attacking us.
As soon as the Indians appeared on the heights,
and long before we saw them, they were discovered
by some of our hunters ; who, communicating their
fears to each other, scampered off in every direction to avoid the enemy and reach the camp ; some
throwing their beaver away,  others their  traps,
»nafi3u«ttii0^^iKtit«i(^M^ WARLIKE  DEMONSTRATION.
while a few abandoned their horses, traps, beaver,
and all, and took to their heels, hiding among the
rocks. The Indians observing these movements,
took us to be more numerous than we were, and
this was no doubt the chief cause why they did
not at once make a rush on our horses and carry
them off : which they might easily have done.
The Indians had no sooner descended into the
valley, where we were busied running after our
horses, than they assembled in a group together,
as if counselling for a moment ; then extending
themselves they made a demonstration of attack.
The only reason we could assign for their not
carrying it into effect, was their seeing so many
of our people here and there on horseback making
for the camp ; or perhaps they had no ammunition,
for they well knew that the whites were seldom
short of that necessary article, and would have given
them a warm reception. A party of them intercepted two of our men, John Grey and another
Iroquois, and wrested a rifle from the hands of
the latter, but they instantly restored it again,
on perceiving some of pur people in an opposite
At last, the whole cavalcade advanced towards
our camp in slow procession ; but our people who
had made for the woods coming fast in by ones
and twos, soon relieved my anxiety, for by the
time the Indians had got within a hundred yards
of  the  camp,   there were thirty men in it.     I it
went out with a flag to meet the Indians, and
moti»ned to them by signs not to» approach the
camp, but to sit down and smoker where they were ;
they did so, and in the meantime, giving them
some tobacco and leaving Kouttanais Jacques to
smoke with them, I returned to the camp, where
we were ready to receive them.
When all our people arrived, and I found that
the Indians were only ninety-two in numbef, I
invited them to our camp, where they passed the
nighfr in smoking, dancing, and singing. All our
people were under arms ; at the same time, and as
a> further security, I ordered forty of their horses
to be hobbled and put in with ours* I also secured their guns. On the following morning I
invited them together, an&è questioned them as to
their business in that quarter ; asking them if there
was not land enough in their own country for bury-
ing-ground, without coming to the Snake country
to trouble the whites and frighten the natives.
The chief replied, "We have been on an embassy of peace to the Sho-sho-nes. When we left
our ; own country, about three months ago, our
party consisted of three hundred men ; but not
finding the principal Snake chiefs, we went off to
-fey and fall in with our friends the Flatheads ; and
the main party returned home." On questioning
them about the party who had seized the horses
belonging to the two men at Goddin's River,
they denied all knowledge of that affair.    I then SUSPICIOUS   CIRCUMSTANCES.
said, " You tried to rob one of my men of his gun
yesterday ? " Fof this the chief apologized, saying,
i that they only wanted to look at it, as it was a
custom among Piegans to handle and look at every
strange gun they might see." But their excuse
carried an air of falsehood on the face of iL
I strongly suspected that they were: the very same
party which had taken, the two horses ; and, moreover, that they were not a party on an embassy of
peace to the Snakes^, as the chief had stated, but a
scouting expedition, on the look-out to take vengeance on the whitest for the misfortunes that had
happened to their people in the affray between
them and M'Donald's party last year : but the
severe handling they had met with on that occasion,
made the present party hesitate * to attack so formidable a body of whites as we were ; particularly
since they had failed to surprise us. S
Being harassed by the frequent appearance of
such visitors, and this party being completely in
our power, I intended giving them a fright, in
return for many they had given us ; I therefore
seized on two of their horses and four of their
guns, and told them I had done so, as a remuneration for the loss of our two horses and traps at
Goddin's River—for I suspected them of taking
them : " and besides," I said, " you give us too much
trouble, and prevent us from hunting and trapping
quietly in a country that you only frequent for
mischieR"    This declaration humbled them : they 80
made a thousand protestations of innocence ; adding,
that they were always friends to the whites ; and
although I did not believe a word they said, yet as
there Was a possibility of their being innocent,
I restored the guns and horses, telling them to
take care for the future.
After smoking and talking, I gave the chief five
balls, powder, and a piece of tobacco ; when,
according to Indian custom, they exchanged some
horses with our people, in token of friendship.
It was, however, amusing to witness their
manoeuvring in going off ; some went one way, some
another, dispersing here and there in small parties
until they had got to a considerable distance from
our camp ; then assembling in a crowd, they stood
for some minutes/and marching off in a body, took
to the mountains. For a little time we could not
account for the manner of their departure, till some
one observed that none of them had gone off in
the direction that the big gun was pointed.
As soon as they were out of sight, taking some
men with me we mounted our horses, and went
to a neighbouring height a few miles off, to watch
their motions ; and there we saw them join the
main party, which the chief had told us had gone
home. As soon as they had joined together,
they sat down, as we supposed to recount their adventures ; after which, they all marched off, taking
the direction of the Missouri.
On the next morning, the neighbourhood being SCALPS.
clear of enemies, different parties were sent off in
search of the traps and beaver that had been
thrown away on the first appearance of the Piegans ;
all of which we had the good fortune to recover.
At the place where the Indians had made their
demonstration of attack, our people found six scalps
stretched on circular bits of wood, and not yet dry !
The day after this bustle we took sixty beaver ;
but taking only eight at the next trial, we moved
our camp down the river, and passed a bad night,
from a storm of thunder and lightning.
From this place we advanced by slow marches,
for five or six days, further down, till we reached a
branch of the river coming in from the west, which
we named West Fork ; and although the appearances of beaver were favourable, yet our successes
came far short of our expectation, owing chiefly to
the unsettled state of the water. One morning,
we found in our traps no less than fort^-two feet
and toes of beaver that had thus escaped !
As the generality of our readers may not be
acquainted with the process of trapping beaver,
we shall here explain tjhe causes of our failure
From the great heat during the day, the snow
melted so fast that the water rushed down the
mountains, causing a sudden rise in the river; but
the cold nights as suddenly checking that rise,
its fall became as rapid ; ) hence the cause of our
traps missing so frequently. % When a trap is set
for  the  purpose of  catching  beaver, it requires
VOL. TI. G mil
about six inclies of water over it, and still deeper
water near ie: because] the moment the animal is
caught, which is invariably by the foot ot toes, it
plunges and drowns. But should the water rise for
several inches higher, the animal «an then . swim
over tte trap without its feet touching it, and of
course gets clear. On the contrary, should the
water iall several inches lower, so that the animal,
on being caught, could not, from the shallowness «of
the water, plunge and drown, it cuts its foot or toes
off, and makes its escape ; thus, in either case, a loss
ensues. Our success had, howewer, during several
nights past, averaged fifty-five beaver at a lift.
Here we found folack and red currants ripe : we
also saw the swallow, the blackbird, and wild
pigeon for the first time this season. During the
mornings and evenings the mosquitoes were very
When we first fell on Rivière aux Malades, I
had intended trapping it from end to end before
leaving it ; but being anxious to reach Reid's
River early, .and finding West Fork leading in that
direction, I changed my first plan. Leaving, therefore, the river, to be taken on our way back in the
autumn, we resolved at once on proceeding up
West Fork. Having finished trapping at its entrance, we made preparations for advancing to
Reid's River, in the hope of reaching it as high up
as possible, in order to trap-it downwards.
I    For this purpose I directed the main party, on A DRINK  OF  COLD  WATER.
raising camp one morning, to proceed in that direction ; while I and four men with me were to
remain mntil the return of part of our people who
had gone out in search of their traps, when we were
to have brought up the resa*, and followed after.
Turning, therefore, their backs on Eivière aux
Malades, the main party continued their journey,
whilst I 'and the men with me remained at the
place appointed ; wiiich was the top of 'a high hill,
not three miles from the encampment we had just
left. From this height, however, the weather being
very sultry, we descended a winding pass to the
creek below, in order to refresh ourselves with a
drink of  cold water.
During our stay the men we had been waiting
for had passed us unnoticed ; but they had not got
far before they met a courier from the main party
a-head with the news that the Piegans wei?e at the
camp. Two of the men, therefore, wheeled round,
and came back to look for us ; but we had passed
unseen, and they only discovered us on their return.
On seeing them coming as it were from the camp
we had left that morning, we very naturafty supposed them to be the men we had %een waiting
for ; but were a little «uneasy at the gestures they
were making to hurry our departure, and stiU
more so on hearing them vociferously call out,
" Enemies Î Enemies at the camp ! " find seeing
Hhcem start off in the direction of the 'main party.
To   extricate    ourselves * from    our    dangerous
G 2
;; al
position and ascend the hill again was a work of
some time : we, however, made all haste ; the
more especially as we took it for granted that the
enemy spoken of were at the camp behind us
Ascending, therefore, to the top of the hill, in order
to pursue bur journey, and then seeing none of our
people, we drove off at full speed, every now and
then looking behind us. ï We had the distance of
ten miles to go before we could join our companions,
or get any support ; three of our horses got completely knocked up, and falling down with the
excessive heat under their loads, we, almost exhausted from fatigue, left them to their fate.
At last we came up with the party, and found to
our surprise that, instead of running from the
enemy, we had been running to meet them ; for
there they were before us. The Piegans all the
time continued standing in a body, not far from our
people, as if determined to oppose our progress
further ; or perhaps, rather hesitating whether to
advance or retreat. Provoked by the loss of our
horses and the continual annoyance of the enemy,
I immediately served out ammunition to our people,
and then told them we should go and put an end
to this state of anxiety; so, leaving only the big
gun and five men to guard the camp, forty-five of
us mounted our horses and set off, with the full
determination of having a brush with the Piegans.
When we were within one hundred yards of the
party, who were all on foot, two of them, with a PIEGANS  AGAIN.
kind of flag, advanced to meet us ; we made signs
for them to keep off; they, however, continued
advancing. We then presented our guns at them,
though I gave strict orders not to fire ; but they
still unflinchingly advanced : so we resolved to wait
their arrival, and see what they had got to say.
The principal man, on reaching us, presented me
with his flag; then, clasping my horse's neck in
his arms, he began to crouch in a supplicating
manner. I gave him a push off with the butt-end
of my gun, which I was immediately sorry for ; he
nevertheless still held fast hold of my horse by the
neck. We then dismounted, and entered into a
parley with them. They proved to be Piegans,
and 110 strong, but badly armed ; having only
twenty-three guns, and scarcely a load of ammunition ; but they had quivers well filled with
Seeing there was no appearance of coming to
blows, I invited the two Indians to our camp, intimating to them that the others should remain where
they were. On reaching the camp, I despatched
some men for the horses that we had abandoned on
the road ; two of which, together with the property, were recovered, but the third had died.
I then questioned the Indians, as we had done
the party before, as to their business in that
quarter ; for we had flattered ourselves that we
should have been, at all events, clear of both Piegans
and Blackfeet in that direction.    On putting the se
question,, the chief smiling said,/' We are not horse-
thieves ; for ie we had been" so inclined, we might
have easily taken yours, as we* were among them
two nightsrago. Two of my people entered your
camp at nigfaà ; and as as proof of what I say, one
of them took a piece of deer's^ meat which was
roasting- at a fire, and stuck it on* a pole at one end
of your camp, and rubbed two spots of red paint on
a riding-saddle at one of the tent-doors. We are,
therefore, not looking for horses, nor wishing to
injure the whites ; but have come in search of
sixteen of our' relations, who came to this quartes"
hst year, and have not been heard of sincetjj
that is our business at present."
The circumstances mentioned by the chief, respecting the roasted venison and riding-saddle,
were correct. We had noticed both, but never
thought that they had been the'work of Indians ;
and it was certainly a broad hint for lis to guard
the camp better another time. We then questioned
the chief as to the affair at Goddin's River, and
gave- hin» an account of the party we had seen at
our first encampment on Rivière aux Malades ;
but he denied all knowledge of either*
For the fellow's candour and honesty I gave him
ten balls and powder, a piece of tobacco and a
knife, and shaking hands with thero, we parted
good friends.
From Piegan Encampment, a name we bestowed
on this  place, we  continued our journey* outwards REID S  RIVER.
from the head of West Fork, over a rugged country,
in search of Reid's River; and although scarcely
thirty miles distant, it took us six long summer
days to accomplish i4. During one of those days,
we travelled ten. hours before we made three miles :
never  did man or beast pass thorough a country
more forbidding or hazardous^
The rugged and rocky paths had worn our
horses' hoofs to the quick,, and we not unfrequently
stood undecided and hopeless of success. However, after immense labour, toil, and hardship, we
reached the river. Arriving on its rocky banks,
and looking,., as it were, over a mighty precipice,
into the gulf, below, we were struck with admiration, at the roaring cataract forcing its way
between ehasm» and huge roeks over a bed it had
been deepening for centuries. But although we
had reached the river, we had stiU little hope of
making our way along its precipitous bank : we
journeyed on, however, sometimes in sight of it,
and at other times miles from it, until we had
made the distance of 116 miles ; which took us
twelve days, during which time we only caught
fifty-one beaver.
But bad roads were not the only obstacles we
had to overcome : we had starvation to contend
with ; for animals of the chase, of every kind,
as well a& beaver, were scarce, and our hunters
often returned to camp more hungry and dissatisfied than they left it.   At this stage of our journey
the people began to murmur greatly against the
roads and want of provisions—evils Yve could neither
foresee nor prevent.
I now found that, although I had got rid of
most of the Iroquois, I had. not got rid of troubles ;
for there remained John Grey and Martin, who
were enough to poison the minds of the rest. I,
therefore, assembled all hands together, and told
them that we had met with nothing but what we
might have expected ; that as we had proceeded so
far in that direction, I was determined to proceed
further and make the best of it, to see its good as
well as its bad side ; that in the nature of things
we must soon get to a better part of the country
than this in which we had been involved for some
time past ; that a few days' perseverance might
bring us relief, as we should soon get to the Snakes
in the direction we were pursuing ; but that if a
week did not procure us the relief they desired, I
would be prepared to meet their views. They all
consented, and order was again restored ; but had
they had plenty of ammunition at the time, they
would have followed their own inclinations.
We had for some time past been anxiously looking for some of the Snakes, from whom we might
get information respecting the roads and country
through which we had to pass ; we had come to
some places where they had been encamped, but
they always got the start of us, and having fled to
the rocks, eluded our search.    But as we were pon-
agga "**m\ ' BSWgy
dering over our difficulties, two wretched beings
were found among the rocks. They proved to be
the sole remnant of a small band of the Bannatee
tribe, consisting of eighteen persons, whom, according to their own account, the Piegan party we had
seen at West Fork had fallen upon, killing every
man, woman, and child, excepting only the two
men before us. These poor creatures were almost
unintelligible through fear ; we nevertheless comprehended their misfortunes. They were mourning,
had cut their hair, and were apparently destitute
of food and raiment. We could scarcely get any
information from them, but understood the roads
were impassable. We gave them a few trifles, and
let them go back to their strongholds again.
Not an hour after the two Bannatees had gone
off, a party whom I had sent out on discovery
arrived at the camp with two men and a woman,
whom they had surprised and brought by force ;
but the captives were so frightened that neither
kindness nor presents could make them speak, or
look upon us as friends. So we had to let them
go as they came ; and we remained just as
ignorant as we were before, as to the roads and
country. CHAPTEE XII
A calm afteEastorm—Gloomy as-peaetf—Cbe^dngjprospects—Plenty,
and sniiling^counienanGes—Pee-eye-em and. suite—His manner—
Cayouse plenipotentiaries—The peace—A ride round the great
Shake camp—The council—Ceremony of smoking—More honour
than comfort—A gupfsrless night—Peace concluded—Escorft—
Barter with the Snakes^—The three rwers described—Beayer—<■
Division, of the party—Horse-racing—An Iroqpiois outwitted—
The triek—Indians at home—Awkward position of the^whites—
Ama-ketsa—The crafty chief—BTûcamp in a wrong place—Excursion round the camp—Salmon—lVar-are*reekasè—Their character—The trap quarrel—Conduct of^the whites—Seize ten
of the Snake horses—Rogues surjxrised—Stratagem—A. camp
cleared—The pipe stem—Stolen traps restored—Return of good
feelings—Raise camp—"Waterfalls—Salmon-fishery—News of the
Iroquoigr-^Point Turnagaatr—Comparison: of distances1—N-artfural
bridge—Subterraneous rayer—Hoti &nd cold springs—Valley oi
lig&tning—Thunder—Riviàse.aux Malades—Poisonous bearer—
A horse drowned—Snake, surprised—Bannatees in winter—
Hazardous travelling—Mount Simpson—The Governor's punchbowl—Source of Salmon River*—Conjectures—-The wounded
pheasant—Bear River—A bear hunt—The bear anil the bearer*—
The last shift—A horse drowned—Hard work and little progress'—
Canoe Point again—Disabled horses—Narrow escape—A man
died—Buffalo plenty—The wounded bull—Habits of the buffalo—
Iroquois arrive—Their story—Their conduct—American trappers.
Notwithstanding that we had seen some of the
Snakes, as we so much desired, we still remained CHEERING   PROSPECTS A VISI1;
as ignorant of the eountry as ever. Following up
the plan we were pursuing, we left the encampment, and proceeded down Reid's River.. At the
end of three days? toil we got clear out of the
mountains, and into a highly picturesque and open
country,, well furnished with animals of the chace.
Our first lift of beaver was sixty-four, a number
considered favourable m comparison with what we
had been doing for some time past. Added to this
cheering prospect, six elks and seventeen small
deer coming into camp at once, filled a starvinj
and dissatisfied people with abundance. And now
for the first time during the last twenty-five days,
I witnessed a smile of content throughout the
The lower part of Reid's River furnishing us
with plenty of beaver and other animals^ raised
once more a hope of making good hunts> ; and, for
a time:, my people were cheerful^ industrious^, and
obedient. Here we had a visit from Pee-eye-em,
one of the principal personages of the country,
accompanied by a retinue of forty warriors, all
armed with guns and mounted on horseback.
They had a flag, the one given them by M'Kenzie,
and arrived in. state. This chief was the great
sachem, so frequently and favourably mentioned by
our friends on former expeditions ; always remarkable for size, he had certainly not diminished in his
proportions ; he was dull and heavy in his manner,
never smiled, and spoke sk)wly, in a, low tone of 92      PEE-EYE-EM THE  CAYOUSE  DELEGATES.
voice.    His answers were generally a nod of the
head ; leaving us often to guess whether he meant
an affirmative or a negative.    Both himself and his *
escort were as fine a set of athletic men as I had
ever seen in the country.
Pee-eye-em appeared -pleased to see the whites
again on his lands, and often inquired with great
eagerness about Mr. M'Kenzie. I offered the chief
some tobacco ; but, preferring his own, he declined
taking ours.    After remaining for some time with
© o
us, he told me that his camp, or the Sherry-dikas,
was far off, and that he had come a journey of ten
days to visit his friend Ama-ketsa, the principal
War-are-reeka chief; whose camp, he said, was
only a few miles distant : this was the great Snake
camp mentioned to us by the Piegan chief while at
West Fork. Pee-eye-em then informed me that
while he was at Ama-ketsa's camp, a party of the
Cayouse tribe from Fort Nez Percés had arrived
there on a mission of peace ; and that, hearing o
the whites being in the neighbourhood* he had come
to invite me to their council, in order to see the
peace ratified.
Putting my people in a secure place, and taking
ten men with me, and also the Indian flag, I accompanied Pee-eye-em and his followers to the War-
are-reeka camp; where we all arrived at dusk,
after a hard ride of ten miles. Here I met my
Cayouse friends, who were no less rejoiced to see
me than I was to see them in a strange country. WAR-ARE-REEKAS  RATIFYING A PEACE.
On the whole, nothing could possibly have happened better, than that the person who had been
at the beginning of the peace, and instrumental in
bringing it about, should have arrived so seasonably
to witness its conclusion. The business was introduced at once. Each spoke in his turn, and I
among the rest. When we had concluded, Pee-
eye-em mounted his horse, with a singularly-painted
robe thrown round him, and rode about for some
time haranguing the people ; and every now and
then, the cry Ho ! ho ! ! ho ! ! ! was uttered by the
surrounding multitude by way of confirmation.
Then a number of the elderly men, collecting in a
group, held consultation ; when they all uttered in
a loud voice and drawling tone the same cry, which
appeared to convey the general consent : it only
wanted the ceremony of a council and smoking
to conclude the business.
The chief's lodge was quickly put in order, with
a fire in. the centre, when the ceremony of ratifying
the peace, according to Indian form, commenced.
The two Cayouse plenipotentiaries were placed in
the back part of the tent by Pee-eyè-em, 'and I
next to them ; eighteen Snake dignitaries next
entered and squatted themselves down on each side
of us. Lastly, Pee-eye-em sat opposite to us, with
his back to the door, having Ama-ketsa on his right
and another chief on his left; apparently with the
intention of keeping out all intruders, and preventing any one from either going out or coming
HHH 94
in during the solemn mtting. This completed the
diplomatic circle. After whidh a silence ensued for
some time.
The great medicine bag was then opened and
the decorated pipe of peace taken out of it ; the
pipe 'was then filled, with the usual formality, by
Pee-eye-em, who immediately afterwards took a
handful /or &wo of sand with which he covered a
small hole by the fireside ; then smoothing it over,
he made two small holes with his finger an the
sand, large enough to hold a goose's egg, one on
each side. TMs done, he then took out of the
medicine bag a small piece of wood "shaped like
a sugar éongs, with which he took up a piece of
burning horse-dung and laid it in #ie hole of «sand
to his left; resting the bowl of his pipe in thejoale
to the right, and holding the stem of Iris pipe all
the time in his left hand. He then took .up the
same piece of wood or tongs, ,and with it took the
burning piece of horse-dfcmg out of the hole to the
left and laid it upon his pipe; 'which was no
sooner lighted, than Pee-eye^em taking up the pipe
with both hands, drewiitree whiffs, allowing none
of the smoke to escape, but swallowing the whole
of it ; then taking the pipe from his mouth, he
held it vertically each time that he smoked, blowing
the cloud out of his mouth on to the stem : this he
did three successive times, and each time he uttered
a short prayer, as if invoking a blessing.
Then holding the pipe horizontally, and pointing SMOKING THE PIPE   OF  PEACE.
to the east, he «drew three whiffs, blowing the smoke
on to the -stem jas iDefoi© ; then burning it to the
west, next to the south, -and lastly to the north, he
did the -same: always «observing to repeat the short
prayer, when he turned the pipe. Lastly, pointing
the pipe to the ground, he drew thnee whiffs, blowing the smoke, ;as before, on to the stem ; signifying
that the animosities of war might be for ever after
buried beneath fee earth. But in all this ceremony, Pee^eye-em did not <®nce, as is generally
custoanary among Indians, hold the pipe ffco,or]hlow
the smoke, either to the sum mr the firmament.
AH this time Pee-eye-em was sitting on his
hams; but now .rising tap, and turning the pipe
stem, he presented it to «one of the Cayooases, telling
him to touch it with his mouth but not 4o exhale
any «smoke ; the Cayouse (tti ?so : then withdrawing
ike pipe for a moment, he presented it - to him a
second time, with the same positive injunction,
which the Cayouse observed. The caution was no
doubt intended to impress upon the Cayouse the
duty of reflecting on the responsibility of what he
was gcmig to do ; for "smoking with Indians on
sueh occasions is the sanafe as an oath wilth us : then
putting et to his mouth the tKrd time, the chief
said, " Yon may smoke now;' adding, after lie had
drawn a few whiffs, *"^we are now brothers."
ïîie Cayouse after smoking, handed me the pipe,
but without any ceremony. Tbe smoking then
went round and round the circle, with no other 96
formality than that Pee-eye-em always filled the
pipe and lighted it himself, with the same tongs as
before. The fire was always a piece* of horse-dung,
till the ceremony on the part of Pee-eye-em was
gone through.
© ©
The lodge during this time was like an oven, so
o © *
that I got up to go out and get a little fresh air ;
but Pee-eye-em shook his head, and made signs for
me to sit down again. I then asked for a drink of
water ; but Pee-eye-em giving another shake of the
head, I had to sit down and compose myself:
there we sat, half roasted, half stifled, thirsty, and
uncomfortable, until long after midnight ; when
Pee-eye-em getting up and opening the door went
out ; we all followed, and the ceremony ended.
7 p %/
I expected that the chief would have invited me
and the O&youses to supper and to pass the night in
his tent ; but supperless and houseless we had to pass
tho night, in the open air, in a camp stinking with
rotten fish, and pestered with snarling dogs : the
night being warm, the stench was horrible. Next
morning, seeing no signs of anything to eat, I
purchased two fine fresh salmon, which my men
cooked, and on which \v& made a hearty breakfast.
We then prepared to return to our camp, and I
invited the Cayouse chiefs to accompany us ; but
iust as wo were mounting our horses, Pee-eye-em.
with his flag in his hand, and a retinue of forty
followers, joined and accompanied us 'back to our
camp.     Comparing things, I  thought that there PEACE CONCLUDED.
was  more  honour  than   comfort  in   the   Snake
From the solemnity observed, it might have been
expected that we were all in earnest ; but so
changeable and treacherous are savages, that I was
apprehensive the Cayouse envoys would not get
back safely ; I therefore invited them to our camp,
promising them an escort to convey them out of
danger : we learned afterwards that they returned
to their own people in safety.
The peace having been occasionally progressing
for the last seven years, I now, for the first time,
began to entertain hopes that it might, after all,
be lasting. The hostile feelings had of late much
diminished, otherwise the Cayouses would never
have ventured so far, and in such small numbers,
into the heart of their enemy's country. The
Snakes had also, as we have already noticed, been
at the Nez Percés camp, and returned with a favourable impression.
We have noticed that Pee-eye-em accompanied
us to our camp, where, having remained for the
greater part of two days, he returned home ; on
which occasion, I presented him with a hundred
balls, and powder, and some few trifles, for which
he appeared very thankful. We parted with regret ;
for the more I knew of him the better I liked
him. He was sincere, well-disposed, and much
attached to the whites. From this time forward,
the Snakes became constant visitors at our camp ;
VOL.  II h 98
but were not always so friendly as I could have
wished. We, however, occasionally bought a few
salmon from them, so that they might become possessed of some useful and necessary articles ; but
especially to keep up a good understanding with
them.. A needle was given for a salmon, an awl
for ten, and a knife for fifty ! and they could have
enriched themselves at that rate, had we been able
to encourage the trade.
After our Snake visitors had left us, we continued our trapping down Reid's River with good
success^ taking from seventy to eighty beaver everf
morning until we reached its mouth ; a distance
from where we fell on it of one hundred and seventy
miles. Remaining a few days on the main- Snake
River, we shaped oui1 course north-west for sixty-
four miles, till we fell on river Pagette or middle
river ; up whieh stream we proceeded to its source,
a distance of one hundred and ten miles ; then
crossing over in a course nearly north, for some
thiufcy miles, we fell on river Wuzer, down which we
hunted until, at the distance of iifty miles, we again
reached the main rive#. We found large numbers
of beaver ; but for want of canoes could do nothing.
We then proceeded in a southerly direction till we
made the great Snake camp of Ama-ketsa, where
we had concluded the treaty of peace. During our
survey of all these rivers, including that of Rivière
aux. Malades, we caught 1855 beaver.
Here let us take a retrospective view of a circum- DEFECTION  OF  THE  IROQUOIS.
stance which occurred on leaving river Wuzer. As
we were about to proceed to where the Snakes were
numerous, I issued a certain quantity of ammunition to the hunters ; cautioning them at the same
time not to trade any of that essential article with
the natives, nor to waste it, as our safety depended
on it ; and our stock was getting lower every day.
The moment, however, the Iroquois and Half-breeds
found themselves in possession of a sufficient supply,
the plotting was revived ; and on the Yery day we
turned our backs on river Wuzer, they turned their
backs on us : I only discovered their defection on
reaching our encampment at night. John Grey,
Martin, and ten others had lagged behind, with the
intention of taking a different road to the one we
had taken, and we were then too fer apart to overtake them ; so we continued on, in the hope that
they might join us in a day or two.
On the fifth day, two of them with an Indian
guide arrived at our camp with the news that the
party had got into trouble with the Snakes ; which
did not surprise me. Our people had been exchanging horses, running races, and wrangling with
the natives. Martin and a Snake having betted
on their horses, the former lost the wager, when a
bystander seeing Martin dissatisfied, went up to
him, saying, f You do not know how to ride your
horse to advantage ; give him to me, and I will beat
the Snake, and get back your ammunition again."
Pleased at the proposal, Martin was simple enough
h 2
lit 100
to put his horse into the Indian's hands ; when" off
started both the Snakes. Martin waited in vain :
neither Snake nor horse ever returned. So, in addition to his ammunition, he lost his horse.
After this trick, our people and the Snakes
quarrelled; when the latter, getting displeased,
drove off four of their horses in broad daylight.
To revenge this act, six of the whites, mounting their best horses, pursued; in order to get a-head
and intercept the thieves at a narrow place where
they had to pass, they took a short cut and got
there first ; then dismounting, they tied their horses
at the edge of the woods ;   the men concealing
themselves in the bush.    The Indians not coming
up at the time expected, the whites thought they
might have taken another road ; so they went further into the bush and set about cooking something
for themselves before returning to camp, at the same
time loosing their horses a little to feed. While
they were thus employed, the Indians arrived, and
seeing the horses, gave two or three yelps ; the
horses took fright and joined the other four, and
the Indians drove them -all before them : leaving
their pursuers to return home on foot, with their
saddles on their backs !
This was the story which the two men brought us,
and they very pressingly asked for assistance. Thus
separated, one half of us involved in a quarrel with
the natives, and the other half in the vicinity of a
formidable camp, requiring all our united strength, AMA-KETSA  RECOVERS  THE  HORSES.
I was for a moment at a loss what to do : to have
sent a party back to their assistance, would have
been exposing ourselves ; to have left them without
support, would have been sacrificing them. As there
was httle time for hesitation, I resolved at once on
applying to our friend Pee-eye-em ; but on reaching
the Indian camp, I was mortified to find that Pee-
eye-em had gone off to join hi» own people at a
I had then nothing left but to apply to Ama-ketsa,
the next in power ; but he raised many objections,
and said the guilty Indians were Bannatees, over
whom he had no control. The temptation of a
new gun, however, made the wily chief alter his
tone, and he then undertook the mission : he recovered eight of the ten stolen horses, and arrived
at our camp on the fourth day after his departure,
bringing the whole party along with him. He had,
however, managed, through cunning and under
various pretences, to get from the Iroquois the remainder of their ammunition ; but I had to overlook the sacrifice, and was contented to see us all
together once more.
On Ama-ketsa's arrival with the party, he appeared very pleased and self-important ; spoke in
a laudatory strain of himself and the War-are-
reekas generally, and dwelt particularly on their
honesty and friendly disposition towards the whites ;
and thought we never could give him enough for
the services he had rendered us.  When I reproached
m *§
my people for their conduct, the fault was shifted
from one to another, and the Snakes blamed for
all. We lost eight days' time, besides the risk
we ran of more serious evils. Ama-ketsa strongly
urged us to put up for a few days by the side
of his camp ; and although I did not like the ràta*
ation, as much on account of the thoughtlessness
of my own people, as from any apprehension of the
Indians ; yet, willing to show him a favour after
the kind services he had done us, I complied with
his request. So we encamped in a strong position,
three-fourths surrounded by a bend of the river,
having only our front to guard at the northern extremity of the great Snake camp.
We had no sooner got our camp in order than
Ama-ketsa invited me to accompany him round the
Indian camp ; and in doing so, we had a train of at
least five hundred followers I From the spot where
~we set out to the other end, 'was a distance of nearly
five miles, and their tents were closely pitched on
both sides of the river. I estimated the number of
tents at about nine hundred of every description; and
allowing only five persons to each, which was below
the real number, we should have four thousand five
hundred souls : and there might have been about
half that number of horses about the place. There
appeared to be but few armed with guns, in proportion to the number armed with bows -and arrows.
This being the salmon season, Indians were flocking in from all quarters, and the quantity of salmon
taken about this place alone, though this was not
the great fish rendezvous, must have been immense :
not less, perhaps, than twenty thousand daily !
Ama-ketsa's camp'was ilteonstructed for defence,
and much exposed, had an enemy assailed it ; but
the division of labour was such, that every person
seemed to be well occupied. Horse-racing, footracing, gambling, fishing, camp-making, wood-
gathering, water-canyîng, swimming, smoking, eating, sporting, and playing, went on in different
parts of the Indian camp. The Snakes are not a
lazy people ; their camp was, however, "very dirty, as
all fish camps are. All classes we saw, with the
exception of a few persons, were meanly clad, even
for Indians ; and very few of the men, and scarcely
any women, were painted—a practice so prevalent
among other tribes. But they were plump, oily, and
sleek; with countenances rather dull than expressive ; and appeared sociable and friendly among
During our ramble we had several opportunities
of seeing and examining their native tobacco in
its manufactured state. I purchased a gallon of it
for a scalping knife ; but I did not much like it :
though as a substitute for tobacco, it is better than
nothing. The natives use it from habit ; but Ama-
ketsa and several others smoked ours. We mixed with
the people, stood and talked with them, and amused
ourselves in examining their manner of doing their
work ; but not one of them ever said to us, " Will 104
you eat ?" We likewise saw them make their cricket
and grasshopper broth ; which appeared to me
abominable and disgusting. We returned home
in the evening very hungry, and with no favourable
opinion of Snake hospitality.
We saw very few beaver among them ; but at
some distance from their camp, appearances were
promising, so that my people were more anxious
than prudent the following day, to set their traps.
I had forbid them to do so, in order to avoid difficulties with the natives ; but the chief assuring us
that there would not be the least danger of the
Indians either stealing or touching them, a few more
traps were put in the water, and their success encouraged others to try their fortune. The first and
second nights not one of the traps was touched 1
but on a subsequent trial no fewer than twelve
were stolen : this sudden check to our proceedings
opened our eyes to the character of the natives, and
left us to judge how far their character was in accordance with the account the honest chief had
given us. I spoke to Ama-ketsa on the subject,
with the view of having our traps restored. The
chief smiled, and made light of the matter ; the
other Indians taunted and jeered our people for
making inquiries after their traps.
Soon after this discovery, I had to chastise one
of them for attempting to steal a piece of rope out
of our camp. These Httle grievances we winked at
for sometime, trying to check them gently, in order ASSEMBLY  OF  THE  WHITES.
to keep on good terms with Ama-ketsa and his
people ; but this conciliatory plan only encouraged
them to assume a still greater degree of boldness.
Thus matters went on until one evening a fellow
picked up a bundle, and refusing to deliver it up, it
was taken from him by force ; he strung his bow,
and threatened the man who had taken it from
him, but was wise enough not to shoot.
On observing the daring aspect and conduct of
the Indians, I assembled all my people together,
and stated to them that I had known the character of these Indians for many years past, and
that from their insolent behaviour of late it behoved
us to keep a strict and vigilant eye on them ; that
it appeared evident to me they were seeking
to intimidate us, and if they once thought they
could succeed, they would rob us ; and then they
might attempt something else ; but before they had
gone too far, we must let them know that they
could not encroach on our property with impunity.
That united we were strong, and might teach them
^J9 ^J
to respect us ; whereas on the contrary, if we
allowed them to take the footing they were assuming, we might regret having carried our forbear-
©7 © © ©
ance too far. Twelve of our friends had already
fallen victims to their barbarity ; and what they
had once done, they might attempt again, since they
had stolen our traps, and had shown a disposition
to set us at defiance !
I concluded by saying, we will go and seize just
i a ri
so many of their horses as they have taken of our
traps, and keep them as pledges, until they restore
us >crar property :  this will show them that we are
not afraid of them.    But my people demurred to
this proposition : some said the Indians were too
numerous;  others, that we should all get killed.
The Iroquois objected, because it would put an end
to their traffic with the Indians ; while those who
had lost their traps, were, like myself, anxious to
get them back, and to show that we were not to be
trifled with.    Some, however, called out, " We will
go and take their horses, and after that fight them."
I told them that we had not come on their lands to
fight them, but to treat them kindly ; yet in doing
so, we must not allow the Indians to trample upon
us.    aFollow my advice," I said, "and there will
be no fighting in the matter : make & bold stand
in defence of our rights."
I then warned my men, that if any person exceeded his orders, he should be punished At last,
the whole party were convinced of the necessity of
taking a 'decisive step to check the insolent tone of
the Indians, and to pave the way for our getting
away without loss or disgrace.
Arming ourselves, therefore,*5 to the number of
thirty-five, we sallied forth, seized, bridled, and
brought into our camp ten of their horses ; we then
put everything in the best order for defence, knowing that this step would bring the matter to anjissue.
Two of the Indians /being at our camp at the time, PREPARATIONS   TO   RECEIVE   AN   ATTACK.   107
we counted out one hundred bullets before them,
and poured them into our big gun in their presence,
so that they might report the circumstance when
they got toitbe Indian camp ; we then sent them off
with a message, that as soon as the Indians delivered up our traps, we would deliver up their
When the two Indians had returned withithe
message to their camp, I instructed my people to
have their arms in readiness, in such a position that
each man could have his eye upon his gun, and
could lay hold of it at a moment's warning ; but to
appear as careless as if nothing was expected. That
if the Indians did come, as they certainly would,
to claim their horses, and insisted on taking Éliem,
I would .reason the matter with them ; and when
that Jailed, I would give the most forward of them
a blow with my pipe stem, which was to be the
signal for my people to act. "JEhe moment, therefore, the signal was given, the men were to shout
according to Indian custom, seise, «and make a demonstration with their arms ; but were not to
fire, until I >had first set the example. During this
time there was a great stir in the Indian camp;
people were observed running to and fro, and we
awaited the result with anxiety.
Not long after, we saw a procession of some, .fifty
or sixty persons, all on foot and unarmed, advancing
in a very orderly manner towards our camp ; in
front of which was placed our big gun, well loaded,
m i"Y*-Tii"i" ut rniirti unrigrnmifcrnfft hbb
1 il fit
pointed, and the match lit. My men were in the
rear, whistling, singing, and apparently indifferent.
On the Indians coining up to me and another man,
who stood in front to receive them near to where
the horses were tied, I drew a line of privilege, and
made signs for them not to pass it. They, however, looked very angry, and observed the fine with
reluctance, so that I had to beckon to them several
times before I was obeyed, or could make them understand. At last they made a sort of irregular halt.
I then made signs for the Indians to sit down ;
but they shook their heads. I asked where was
Ama-ketsa ; but got no satisfactory reply. One of
the fellows immediately introduced the subject of
the horses, in very fierce and insolent language ; I
however, to pacify him, and make friends, spoke
kindly to them, and began to reason the matter,
and explain it to them as well as I could ; but the
fellow already noticed, being more forward and
daring than the rest, sneered at my argument, and
at once laid hold of one of the horses by the halter,
and endeavoured to take it away without further
ceremony. I laid hold of the halter, in order to prevent him, and the fellow every now and then gave a
tug to get the halter out of my hand ; the others kept
urging him on, and they were the more encouraged,
seeing my people did not interfere ; the latter were,
however, on the alert, waiting impatiently for the
signal, without the Indians being in the least aware
of it.    Beginning to get a little out of humour, I BOLD STRATAGEM THE CAMP CLEARED. 109
made signs to the Indians, that if he did not let
go, I would knock him down ; but, prompted no
doubt by the strong party that backed him, and
seeing no one with me, he disregarded my threat
by giving another tug at the halter. I then struck
him smartly on the side of the head with my
pipe stem, and sent him reeling back among his
companions ; upon whieh my men sprang up,
seized their arms, and gave a loud shout ! The
sudden act, with the terror conveyed by the cocking
of so many guns, so surprised the Indians, that
they lost all presence of mind ; throwing their
robes, garments, and all from them, they plunged
headlong into the river, and swam with the current
till out of danger, every now and then popping
up their heads and diving again, like so many wild
fowl ! In less than a minute's time, there was not
a soul of the embassy to be seen about our camp !
Never was anything more decisive.
It may be satisfactory to the reader, to know
what kind of pipe stem it was that one could
strike a heavy blow with. The pipe-bowls generally used, both by Indians and Indian traders,
are made of stone, and are large and heavy ; the
stems resemble a walking-stick more than anything
else, and they are generally of ash, and from two-
and-a-half to three feet long.
We had intended removing camp the same day ;
but after what had happened, I thought it better to
pass another day where we were, in order to give
Hi 110
the Snakes as well as ourselves an opportunity of
making up mattes. Not a soul, however, came
near us all that day afterwards, and we were at a
loss to find out what was going on in the Snake
camp, I therefore got about twenty of my men
mounted on horseback, to take a turn round, in
order to observe the movements of the Indians ; but
they having brought me word that the women were
all employed in their usual duties, I felt satisfied.
During the following day, ten persons were observed making for our camp, who, on arrival, spread
out, a buffalo robe, on whieh was laid all our stolen
traps ! some whole, some broken into several pieces,
which they had been flattening for knives ; the whole
rendered almost useless to us. Ama-ketsa, who had
not been present: at the affray of the preceding day,
accompanied this party, and made a long and apparently earnest apology for the loss of our traps,
and the misunderstanding that ensued ; but he did
not forget to exculpate his own people from all
blame, laying the odium of the whole affair on the
Bannatees We knew the contrary : the War-are-
reekas were the guilty paœties^and perhaps Ama-ketsa
himself was not altogether innocent ; at least, some
of his people said so. We, however, accepted the
apology, and the traps, as they were ; and delivering
up all the horses, treated the chief with due honours,
satisfied that the business ended so well.
The chief had  no sooner returned to his camp
with the horses, than a brisk trade was opened ; the RETURN   OF   CONFIDENCE.
Indians^ men, women, and children, coming to us
with as much confidence as if nothing had happened. On the next morning, while we were preparing to start, one of my men fell from his horse
and broke Ms thigh; we, however, got it so set,
as not to prevent aur removal- Although every-
tsbing wore the appearance of peace, yet I thought
it necessary to take precautions^ in order to avoid
any trouble with the natives in passing their camp;
I therefore appointed ten men mounted on horseback to go before, the camp followed ia. order after,
while myself and twenty men brought up the Bear;
and all was peace and! good order.
From the great Snake camp our course lay south,
I purposing to take a sweep round the Snake Falls,
with the view of trapping beaver and trying to get
some accounts of our ten Iroquois. Fifty-seven
beaver taken the first night, rewarded the toil of a
long day's journey. At the Falls the concourse of
natives resembled that at the Columbia Narrows
{Dalles des morts) at this season of the year ; but
I was taught by our experience at Ama-ketsa's
camp, not to put up near them; so we passed on.
While at the Falls, the Indians- told me that they
had seen the Iroquois, about a month before, and
X 9
gave us to understand that they had got into
difficulties with the Snakes, and were spending
more time in hunting after women, than beaver..
From the Falls we continued^ur course south-east
for about seventy miles,, until we had reached the
si m| J
south end of a long range of high lands, which we
called Point Turnagain ; there we encamped on the
24th of August. This was the extent of our
journey to the south : from that point we turned
our faces towards home. Up to this date, we had
travelled, since leaving the Flatheads, including
trapping excursions apart from our regular journeys,
1110 miles ; scouting excursions, watching our
enemies, 490 miles; reconnoitring excursions for
beaver, for practicable passes, and in search of
new trapping ground, 530 miles; in addition to
our daily journeys, which amounted to 1320 miles:
making in the aggregate not less than 3450 miles !
From the mouth of river Wuzer, where we
turned from the west to the south, the distance to
Fort Nez Percés is not more than one hundred and
eighty miles due west : a distance which might be
travelled with horses in a week ; and yet we had
been travelling by^the Spokane and Flathead road
for upwards of seven months ! At this stage of
our journey, we had lost by casualties, chiefly from
bad roads and severe weather, eighteen of our horses,
and twenty-two^of our steel traps ; and had taken,
exclusive of the Iroquois, 3880 beaver. Anticipating, therefore, a successful hunt from the Iroquois
party, our prospects were still fair. From Point
Turnagain, we u took a wide range, and with tolerable success, until we again fell on Rivière aux
Malades, according to our original plan.
On our way thither we passed over one of those NATURAL BRIDGE AND SUBTERRANEAN RIVER.   113
natural bridges   so frequently noticed  on former
trips, the span of which was about thirty feet, the
height twelve feet ; and it appeared to be but one
solid rock, through which the water had forced a
passage, for under it passed a good stream, which
flowed over a gravelly bottom.    Following down
the current, the water aU of a sudden disappeared,
making its way under ground, similar to the river
Goddin :   no water was then  to  be seen.    We
passed and repassed seven times over the ground,
but saw nothing for a mile ; when the water as
suddenly burst out again, and flowed in a strong
current, sufficiently deep to have carried a loaded
boat on it !    After following it for some distance, it
disappeared ; and we, taking another direction, saw
it no more.    In the last opening, we shot an otter
and   two   musk  rats.     This   subterraneous river
flowed through one of the most delightful valleys
I had ever seen, skirted on each side by gentle
rising ranges of high lands, divided transversely
between these ranges by descending rivulets, whose
banks were lined with rows of bushes, as if planted
by the hand of man.    As we journeyed along, we
passed several cold and hot springs.    This enchanting vale I named the Garden of the Snake Country.
It   surpassed,   both  in   beauty  and   fertility, the
valley of the Wallamitte.
While journeying through this beautiful vale,
which is some thirty miles in length, we were overtaken by a heavy deluge of rain (accompanied by
VOL. II. i
:H 114
the most fearful thunder and lightning), whieh
drenehed us to the skin, before we could get encamped : after which, having made a large fire out
of doors, and while standing round it to dry ourselves, a flash of lightning passed as it were through
the flame and almost blinded us, while the loud peal
of thunder, instantaneously following, struck several
of the party dumb for a moment. Three of the
men were thrown down upon the ground, others
upon their knees, myself and another man were
forced out of the position in wMch we stood, to
a distance of three or four feet. The whole
camp remained for some time speechless. Within
a short distance of us, the lightnmg struck a tree,
setting it on fire. We had frequently this season
been visited by heavy thunder, and much lightning
is attracted to this mountainous quarter; but none
of us had ever seen anything so terrific as in this
place.    We therefore named it the Valley of Light
ning !
We now turn our attention to Rivière aux Malades. On reaching that stream we found beaver in
considerable numbers: the first lift yielded forty-
nine. The prospect before us was encouraging ; but
here a misfortune clouded our hopes, and made
beaver a secondary consideration. After breakfast the
second morning, a number of the people were taken
ill ; and the sickness becoming general throughout
the camp, it struck me that there must have been
something poisonous in our food or water.    Not POISONOUS BEAVER.
being able to discover anything, I began to inquire
more particularly what each person had eaten that
morning, and found that all those who had breakfasted on the fresh beaver taken out of the river
were affected, whilst those who had eaten other
food remained in good health.
Two hours had not elapsed before thirty-seven
persons were seized with jgripings and laid up.
The sickness first showed itself in a pain about the
kidneys, then in the stomach, and afterwards in the
back of the neck and all the nerves ; and at length
the whole svstem became affected. The sufferers were
almost speechless and motionless ; having scarcely
the power to stir, yet suffering great pain, with
considerable froth about the mouth. I was seriously
alarmed, for we had no medicine of anv kind in
our eamp, nor scarcely time to have used it ; so rapidly
was the sickness increasing, that almost every soul
in the camp, in the space of a few hours, was either
affected with the disease, or panic* struck 'with fear !
The first thing I applied was gunpowder : throwing, therefore, a handful or two of it into a dish
\J9 J
of warm water, and mixing it up, I made them
drink strong doses of it ; but it had little effect. I
then tried a kettle of fat broth, mixed up and
boiled with a handful or two of pepper whieh
some of the people happened to have. I made them
drink of that freely ; and whether it was the fat or
the pepper, I know not, but it soon gave relief.
Some were  only sick for part  of the  day ; but
I 2 116
others, owing perhaps to the quantity that they
had eaten, were several days before they got over
it ; and some of them felt the effects of it for a
month afterwards.
We then examined the flesh of the beaver, and
found it much whiter and softer, and, the people
who had eaten of it said, sweeter to the taste than the
flesh of beaver generally. As there was no wood
about the banks of the river, we supposed these
animals must have lived on some root of a poisonous quality, which, although not strong enough to
destroy them, yet was sufficiently deleterious to
injure us : from this it was that I named this
stream Rivière aux Malades.
Having trapped up the river to the place where
we had left it, we then crossed over in order to
trap some creeks in the mountains : here some of the
horses had to swim, and several persons had a
narrow escape of being drowned. On mustering
on the opposite bank, I perceived at a considerable
distance a Snake among the bushes, as if in the act
of hunting for ground squirrels : beckoning to some
of my people who were already mounted, and
pointing to the individual, we set off at full speed
to cut between him and the rocks, that we might
get hold of him in order to learn something of the
country we had to pass through. So intent was
he on his business, that we were almost on him
before he observed our approach ; but the moment
he saw us, he bent his bow, taking us for enemies.. Regardless of his bow and himself we rushed in and
laid hold of him ; and on our dismounting from our
horses, the poor creature let his bow and arrows fall
to the ground, and stood speechless, and almost
frightened to death.
We, however, mounted him behind one of the
men, and carried him to our camp, where we treated
him with every kindness, and at last, by means of
our man Hackana, got him to speak a little. I
ordered some beaver flesh to be set before him,
putting some of the white or poisonous into one
dish, and some of the good into another, purposely,
to see if he knew the difference ; but the two dishes
were no sooner set before him, than he gave us to
understand that the Indians invariably roast, but
never boil, the white kind ; telling us by signs, that
it was bad, unless roasted.
We then entered at some length with our captive
on the subject of their living, and how the Bannatees generally pass the winter ; when he observed,
We never want for plenty to eat, at all seasons.
We often suffer from cold, but never from hunger.
Our winter houses are always built among the
rocks, and in the woods ; and when the snows are
deep, we kill as many deer as we please with our
knives and spears, without our bows and arrows.^
To a question I put, he answered, " The Snakes
never build their winter houses under ground." To
other questions, he answered, " We can never venture in the open plains, for fear of the Blackfeet tt
and Piegans, and for that reason never keep horses.
Six of our people were killed by them this summer.
Were we to live m large bands^ we should easily fee
discovered." In reference to our road, he told us,
that the country a-head was very rocky and bad,
and that we could never make our way through it
with horses^ This miserable being, although the
very picture of wretchedness^, was far more intelligent and communicative than those we had got
hold of on Reid's River. After passing a night
with us, I gave him a knife, a small looking-glass,
and a grain or two of vermilion ; with whieh he
went off highly delighted.
We continued our journey, winding through
creeks and round rocks with great difficulty for
eight days, until we had reached the extreme height
of land between the sources of river Malade on
the west, and Salmon River on the north. This
ridge or height of land we passed on the 18th of
September. The country was mountainous ; and, a
little to our right, was a towering peak, at least
eight hundred feet higher than where we stood.
Here, remaining a day to rest and refresh our jaded
horses, I took a man along with me, in order to
try and ascend this lofty peak. We set out at
eight o'clock in the morning, and only got back at
sun-set, so tired, that we could scarcely drag ourselves along. But the view we enjoyed repaid us
well for our trouble. On the top of this height
was six inches of newly-fallen snow, and a small MOUNT SIMPSON.
circular pond of water about twenty feet in diameter. This height I named after our Governor,
Mount Simpson ; and the basin of water on its top,
the Governor's Punch BbwL No elevated height in
this country can present a more interesting prospect
than that viewed from the top of Mount Simpson : to
the west, in particular, it is of a highly picturesque
character* On looking towards the north, "How,'J
said I to myself, " are we to pass here ? ' The doubt
remained until I turned to view the quarter whence
we had come ; when, seeing it nearly as wild and
rugged as country could be, it struck me, that since
we had passed through the one, we might attempt
the other.
We therefore left Mount Simpson, and descending into the narrow and unknown strath of Salmon
River, shaped our course for Canoe Point, the place
where we had left our beaver en cache. On getting
down to the bottom of the valley, day was almost
turned into night, so high were the mountains on
each side o£ us ; and in many places the view was
so confined, that we could see nothing but the sky
above and the rocks around us. Here the Salmon
River, some three hundred and fifty miles long, was
scarcely four feet wide ; but many rills and creeks
pouring into it from the adjacent rocks, soon swelled
it into a rivers
It appeared to us at first probable that no
human being had ever trod in that path before ;
but we were soon undeceived, for we had not been 120
many hours there, before my people, in going about
their horses, found a pheasant pierced with a fresh
arrow, and not yet dead ; so, at the moment
we were indulging that idea, the Indians might
have been within fifty yards of us. As we advanced the valley widened, and the deer were seen
feeding in numerous herds, and so tame, that we
shot many of them without alighting from our
horses, or going off the road after them ; but it
was not until the third day that we put a trap in
the water, and seven beaver was all we got to reward us for so much labour.
At the distance of forty-seven miles from Mount
Simpson, we entered on the west side of a fine stream,
nearly as large as the main branch, being from
thirty to forty yards broad, with deep water and a
strong current. This place we called the Forks ;
the west branch, Bear River. On reaching the
Forks, we observed at some distance the appearance of a ploughed field, and riding up towards it,
found a large piece of ground more than four acres
» in extent, dug up and turned over. On getting to
the spot, we observed no less than nine black and
grizzly bears at work, rooting away. We immediately gave them chace, and, with the help of some
twenty or thirty dogs, got four of them surrounded
in front of a lofty and crumbling precipice, up which
they endeavoured to make their escape ; but the
place being steep, and the stones and gravel loose,
they made but slow progress, and the more so, as A  BEAR  HUNT.
the dogs kept attacking them behind. Our horses,
however, were so frightened, and became so restive,
that we could not manage them, nor get them to
approach the game ; for no animal terrifies a horse
more than a bear. At last, dismounting, we let the
horses go, and fired at the bears, which were still
scrambling to get up the rocky precipice ; we brought
three of the four down, but they had got so entangled
and surrounded by dogs, that in killing the bears
we killed seven of the dogs.
After our adventure, we set off on a trip of discovery up Bear River, for about thirty-four miles.
The valley through which the river flowed was
very pleasant, but became narrow as we advanced.
Four inches of new snow were on the ground, and
the ice was an inch thick. The weather was cold, and
in those snowy regions indicated an early winter ;
yet we persevered in our pursuit of beaver, notwithstanding our course lay north, and we had yet
before us some six or seven hundred miles before
we reached our winter quarters. The wood on the
banks of Bear River was only stunted willows,
nor was there any other description in the neighbourhood fit for anything but fire ; and but little
even fit for that, if we except, now and then, a
solitary pine not bigger than a good broom.
On rounding one of the many rocky points, we
observed, some, distance a-head of us, two animals
frolicking in the water ; on approaching the place,
we discovered two black bears, and got so near as to &mcaM
shoot one of them in the water. While dragging
it to shore, we noticed a beaver concealing itself in
the shoal watei^ and this cdisumstanee led us to
ascertain why the bear should have been standing so
long in the waters We found, by the number of
tracks about the place, that the bears had been in
pursuit of the beaver ; there being but one deep
hole where it could have swum under water and
made its escapes At that place was artfully stationed the bear we had shot, while; the other kept
pursuing its object in the pool of water, where we
found it, and it would have succeeded in kitting the
beaver but for our arrival.
Leaving six men to trap, I and another man returned to camp the seeond day, in order to examine
the road by which we had to pass down the main
river; but we found iiso absolutely bad, that nothing
but necessity compelled us to undertake it. After
trapping for three days up Bear River, the six
men returned to the camp, having killed one hundred and fifteen beavers We then, left
the Forks, and continued our route down the main
branch of Salmon Riven
About ten miles below the Forks, we entered a
narrow and gloomy defile, where the mountains on
each side closed in[ upon the river, between which
tbe stream became confined like the water race of a
mill, and shot through tha^narrow channel in a white
foaming cascade, with the noise of thunder. Along
the margin of the river in this< dangerous place,
the rocks and precipices descended almost perpendicularly to the water's edg% affording only a
tortuous path some fifty or sixty feet above the
water;, in the face of the precipice. - On this road
we had advanced one day until we were abruptly
stopped by a; dangerous chasm where a piece of thfê
hanging cliffs had slidden down, leaving a deep and
yawning gap of some yards broad across the road,
aver which we could not pass. Here the horses
being unable to get forward or baekwardy,fiot having
room to turn round, we had to use ropes to extricate
several of them from their perilous situation; all
hands calling out, " hold fast ! " " hold fast ! " While*
we in front were engaged in this no less dangerous
than difficult task, the others, beginning at the rear,
got the remainder turned back. We then retraced
our steps about a mile, where we encamped. Here
all our horses had to be tied, and we spent, a restless night, under' the apprehension that we should
have to go back again to Mount Simpson and seek
another pass to get clear of the mountains ; which
would have taken us, at that late season, some weeks
and soma hundred miles to accomplish.
After encamping, one of the men jocularly observed, that we ought to call the place p Hold fast L"
and the name remained. Ore the next day, however, we resolved on. attempting to cross the river ;
w@ examined it in several places, tried^ and tried
again, but failed the first day; the next, with diffi?
culiy, we erossed it to the opposite side.    In thin
vw 124
undertaking we drowned one of the horses, and lost
four of our steel traps and about twenty-five beaver ;
and with the utmost difficulty we saved ourselves.
Yet although we had accomplished the laborious task,
we were not yet sure of getting through. From
the crossing-place we wound among rocks and other
obstructions for nearly two days, without advancing
more than six or seven furlongs ! At last, however,
getting down again to the river, we got altogether
clear of the defile on the eighth day. We reached
Canoe Point at the end of a few hours' ride, after
leaving the defile, and found the beaver we had
left en cache safe.
At Canoe Point we remained for two days to rest
and refresh our horses ; for nearly one half of them
were more or less lame, their hoofs being worn
to the quick. Without being shod, no animals can
stand the journeys through such a rugged country ;
and after one Snake expedition many of them are
rendered useless. No less than twenty-seven of
our horses had to be muffled about the feet with
leather, which is at best but a temporary makeshift.
The season had now arrived when I was to
send to meet the Iroquois who left us on the 16 th
of June, and on leaving Canoe Point I despatched
six men to the Trois Tétons south of Goddin's
River, the appointed rendezvous ; while we proceeded on our journey in order to trap and make
provisions for our voyage home, having appointed
a place near the head waters of the Missouri where PARTY  TO  MEET  THE  IROQUOIS.
we were all to meet again. On the third day after
starting, Jean Baptiste Bouché, one of the aged
freemen, died in his sixty-ninth year : he had
been ailing for some time, and for the last ten days
had to be carried about on a litter. The deceased
was a quiet, sober, and industrious man. We
buried him in our camp, and burned the grave over,
so that no enemy might disturb his remains ; and
near to the spot stands a friendly tree, bearing the inscription of his name, age, and the date of his death.
As we advanced, we reached in a short time an
immense herd of buffaloes, and commenced laying
in a stock of provisions, until the men I had sent
for the Iroquois should return.
While on the subject of buffalo, we may notice
that there is perhaps not an animal that roams in
this, or in the wilds of any other country, more
fierce and formidable, than a buffalo bull during:th§
rutting season : neither the Polar bear, nor Jtîfê
Bengal tiger, surpass that animal in ferocity. When
not mortally wounded, buffalo turn upon maielor
horse; but when mortally wounded, they stand
fiercely eyeing their assailant, until life ebbs aWâV,J
As we were travelling one day among a hge£c|,
we shot at a bull and wounded him severely—-so
much so, that he could neither run after us, nor from
aïs ; propping himself on his legs, therefore, he stqetl
looking at us till we had fired ten balls through his
body, now and then giving a shake of the liead.
Although he was apparently unable to stir, yetâ#e
3 3 3
■'"-' a D J 3 O
WlÊ$L -> J J j J
,0 J J JO i 19
kept at a respectftd distance from him; for sueh
is the agility of body and quickness of eye, and
so hideous are the looks of buffalo, that we dared
not for some time approach him : at last, one more
bold than the rest went up and pushed the beast
over ;—he was dead ! If not brought to tbe ground
by the first or second shot, let the hunter be on his
guard ! The old bulls, when badly wounded and
unable to pursue their assailant, prop themselves,
as we have ^een, and often stand in that position till dead ; but the head of a wounded bull,
while in an upright position, is invariably turned
to his pursuer ; so if the hunter be in doubt,
let him change his position, to see if the bull
changes his position also. The surest mark of
his being mortally wounded and unable to stir, is,
when he cannot turn his head round to his pur-
c * t
gue£ ; in that case, you may safely walk up and
throw him down.
I The wild cow calves generally at one period, and
»    e    c
that period later by a month than our tame cattle ;
then they all, as if with one accord, withdraw
ffiemselves from the mountains and rocks, and resort
ki\%large   families  to the valleys, where  there  is
6 A o e e
qpgg. ground, with small chimps of wood affording
shelter and preservation ; as there they can see
tbe approach of an enemy from afar. The rcows
Herd together in the centre, and the bulls graze in
the «distance : all in sight of each other.
\*<Fhe calving season is May, when the heat of the
L.        C
C c t t c
sun is sufficiently strong for the preservation of
their young in the open air; during which time
the herd feeds round and round the place as if
to defend the young calves from the approach
of an enemy or from waives. The resident
Indian tribes seldom hunt or disturb the buffalo
at this season, or before the first of July. The
Indians often assured me, that, during the calving
season, the bulls keep guard ; and have been
frequently known to assemble together, in order
to keep at a distance any wolves, b>ears, or other
enemies, that might sttempt to approach the
The men whom I had sent some time ago from
Canoe Point in search -of the Iroquois, had arrived,
but had not met with them ; they met with enemies
instead, having ;a very narrow escape from a war
party of the Blackfeet, who came upon them early
one morning just as they were preparing to start ;
and so suddenly, that our people had to leave one of
their horses as a prey to them. Fortunately for
our people, the Indians were all on foot, I, however, lost no time in Bending off, on the second day
after their arrival, ;another party double in number
to the first. They fortunately got safely back on the
14th of October, after an absence of ten days ;
bringing along with them not only the ten Iroquois,
but seven American trappers likewise.
But they arrived trapless and beaverless ; naked
and destitute of almost everything ; and in debt 128
to the American trappers for having conveyed them
to the Trois Tétons !
And this is their story. " We proceeded," said
Old Pierre, | in a southerly direction, crossed over
the main river, and struck into the interior to be
out of the way of Indians ; there we trapped with
good success for nearly two months. At last some
of the Snakes found us out, and Canataye-hare
took one of their women for a wife, for whom he
gave one of his horses. The Indians wished for
another horse, but were refused ; the wife deserted,
and we changed to another place to avoid the
Indians. There a war party fell on us, and robbed
us of everything. We had nine hundred beaver,
fifty-four steel traps, and twenty-seven horses : all
of which, together with five of our guns, and
nearly all our clothing, the Indians carried off!
Naked and destitute as we then were, we set out on
our way back ; and on the third day after starting
we fell in with the Americans ; we promised them
forty dollars to escort us back to Goddin's River,
where we arrived the evening before the men you
sent to meet us : and the Americans came along
with us here. They had a good many beaver ; but
put them all en cache till they returned back."
Such is the tale Old Pierre told me. When it
was ended, I said, "Well, Pierre, what did I tell
you at parting ?" He held down his head, and said
I then questioned the Americans, who appeared DISAPPOINTMENT.
to be shrewd men : they confirmed part of the Iroquois' story. Smith, a very intelligent person, and
who seemed to be the leading man among them,
acknowledged to me that he had received one hundred and five beaver for escorting back the Iroquois
. to Goddin's River, although Pierre had not touched
upon this circumstance at all : no two of them,
however, told the story in the same way; nor did
the Americans agree in their version of it, so that
it appeared to me to be a piece of trickery from
beginning to end. Some time after they had arrived,
however, another story got into circulation ; perhaps
the true one. This story was not that they had
been robbed, as Old Pierre had stated, but that
while on their hunting ground, they fell in with the
seven Americans noticed, who succeeded in seducing
them to their side, under the pretext of giving them
five dollars for every beaver-skin they might deliver
at the Yellow Stone River, where the Americans
had a trading-post ; that with the view to profit
by this contemplated speculation, they had left
their furs en cache with those of the American
party where they had been hunting, and had come
back, not with the intention of remaining with us,
but rather, as the story ran, to get what they could
from us, and then to seduce their comrades to desert
in a body with their furs to the Americans, as a
party of them had already done in 1822 : this
story I had no difficulty in believing.
I, however, thought it best not to say that I either
heard or believed this last story ; at the same time I
tried to find out the truth of it : I knew there must
be some knavery going on between the Americans
and the Iroquois, from the constant intercourse
that existed between them. I, however, took such
steps as would most effectually prevent the possibility of their being able to carry their intentions
into effect. It aided my plans greatly that the
enemy kept hovering about, and I of course exaggerated the danger, making it a pretext for
doubling the watch by night, and remaining on
guard myself; but, in truth, it was to prevent
either the Iroquois or the Americans from taking
any undue advantage of us : in the meantime I
daily forced our march to get the nearer to home.
The measures we adopted succeeded so well,
that the Americans at last gave up the idea, preferring the protection of our camp to the risk of
turning back. CHAPTER XIII.
Report—Enemies in sight—The agreeable mistake—The ten Nez
Percés—Their story—Suspicions defile—Reconnoitring party—
Enemies discovered—The pursuit—A hard ride—The hiding-
place— Gathering the spoil—The peace-offering—Suspicious
party—Anxieties of the whites—The surprise—The stolen
horses—The thieves caught—Indians mute—Nez Percés reproved
—Thieves in custody—Return to camp—The court-martial—Wild
fowl—Sporting—Hard shooting—World of game—The mourning
scene—The snowy mountain—Change of scenery—Valley of
Troubles again—Ice and snow—Cold travelling—Hell's Gates—
A horse drowned—Arrive at Flathead house—Fruits of the
expedition—Remarks—Yankee enterprise—New plan proposed—
The men—Contemplated results—Depot for the returns—Wants
created—Inland position—Speculation—Sketch of the Snake
people—Position of the Snakes—Their courage—Snake language. IfS
We had no sooner done with the adventures of our
absent trappers than the people were thrown into
confusion by a report that enemies were approaching the camp. And although such reports were
not unfrequent, they never failed to create a momentary thrill, whenever a sudden alarm was given.
This is unavoidable.
We prepared to receive   the comers either  as
friends or foes, but were soon agreeably relieved from
our fears, by finding that they were our friends, the
Nez Percés. These poor weather-beaten wanderers,
only ten in number, passed the night with us, and
amused us with recounting their wild adventures.
We shall give the reader their own simple story.
" When we left our own country, about three
months ago," said they, " our object was to fall in
with the whites in the Snake country. We were
then seventeen in number, and on foot, the better
to conceal ourselves from the enemy. We intended
to have stolen horses for ourselves from the Blackfeet had an opportunity offered, in revenge for
those they had taken from us at Hell's Gates in the
spring. One turned back, and in crossing a rocky
defile at the head waters of the Missouri, we were
discovered, and waylaid by the Blackfeet ; six were
killed in that unfortunate affray, and the rest of us
had a very narrow escape, only getting clear of
the enemy by escaping in the dark. From that
time we only travelled at night. Despairing of
meeting the whites, and seeing the buffalo moving
to and fro, we knew that there must be enemies
lurking about, and had to hide ourselves ; we
suffered greatly from hunger and thirst, and had
almost given up any hopes of getting back to our
own country again, when all at once we perceived
the whites coming, whom at first we took for a
large war-party."
After   they  had   related   the   story   of   their SUSPICIOUS DEFILE.
1  QQ
1 OO
troubles, they began to mourn for their unfortunate
relations who were killed in the defile ; then they
appeared overjoyed at getting under the protection
of the whites, and vowed vengeance against the
The Nez Percés telling us that there were enemies
lurking about, and we having a suspicious defile to
pass, I thought it well to have the place examined
before raising camp the next day. This being
settled, I took five of the Indians along with us,
and we set off to the number of six-and-thirty
persons, taking care to have two of the Americans
and the most troublesome of my own men among
the party. Just as we had got the bad part examined, and reached the other side, we perceived, at
a long distance off, a number of moving objects
making for the mountains ; but whether men or
deer we could not ascertain. Losing no time, however, we resolved on giving chace. and therefore set
3 O © '
off at full speed to get between the objects we saw
and the woods they seemed to be making for.
Before we had advanced far, we were satisfied that
the objects were men and not deer; which made us
quicken our steps.
The Indians, on discovering us, began to quicken
their pace, and make for a hiding-place. We at the
same time advanced at full speed. The match was
warmly contested; but the Indians won the race by
a short distance, and got to the bush before we could
reach them.    In their hurry, however, they  had 1
thrown away everything that encumbered them,
robes, shoes, and some of them even their bows and
arrows ; and yet after all, we had got near enough
to have fired upon the last of them before they got
under cover, had we been so disposed. Immediately on getting to the bush where the Indians
had taken shelter, we dismounted, and invited them
to come out of the woods and smoke with us,
assuring them that we were their friends ; but they
answered, " Come in here and smoke with us : we
are your friends." We then sat down on a little
rising ground close to the Indians, to rest our
horses a little, for we had given them a good
heating ; keeping all the time in talk with the
Indians. They gave us to understand that they
were Crows, the name of a tribe on the Missouri ;
but although they spoke to us in that language,
the impression on our minds was, that they were
Blackfeet, and we told them so ; this they denied,
on account, no doubt, of having killed the Nez
Percés, some of whom they now saw with us.
Some of the people in the meantime went and
gathered together what things the Indians in their
hurry threw away ; namely, sixteen buffalo robes,
six dressed skins, fifty-two pairs of mocassins, and
two quivers full of bows and arrows; all of which
we laid in a pile, telling the Indians we did not wish
to injure them, nor take away anything belonging
to them. Then taking a piece of tobacco we stuck it
on a forked stick at the edge of the bush, for them PURSUIT   OF  THE  BLACKFEET.
to smoke after our departure. To questions we put,
they denied having seen the six men sent to river
Goddin, or the horse which they had lost ; they
said there were several parties of Blackfeet and
Piegans both, not far off; that they themselves
had been looking for some of their absent friends,
but were now on their way back to their own
country. We then prepared to return, but had
some difficulty in preventing the Nez Percés from
taking the spoil we had picked up, and also from
firing on the Indians in the bush ; however, I told
them that, since they were with the whites, and put
themselves under our protection, they must do as
we did ; but that if they were bent on revenge,
they might stop where they were until we had gone
away, and then settle matters as they might think
As we were in the act of mounting our horses
to return, we perceived at a distance the appearance
of a crowd of men and horses, following the track
by which the Indians had come, and making
straight for us. From their appearance at a
distance they seemed very numerous, and taking
them for another war-party, we considered ourselves
between two fires. Not wishing, however, to run
off, we examined a small point of the woods near
to the Indians, where we could retreat in case of
being too hard pressed ; we then secured our
horses, under a guard of ten men, while the other
twenty-six, with their guns ready, awaited the
arrival of the suspicious party. 136      THE  STOLEN  HORSES THIEVES  CAUGHT.
As soon as we had observed them, we discovered
the party to consist of four men only, driving,
however, a large band of horses before them ; when
they had got within a few hundred yards of us
they made a halt, which they had no sooner done,
than I ordered twenty of my men to remain where
they were, as a guard on the Indians, while I and
the other fifteen set off to meet, and see who the
new comers were. On getting up to them, what
was our surprise on finding forty-three of our own
horses, and also the one taken from my men on
their trip to the trappers; all of which the four
villains had stolen and were driving before them.
On our approach the thieves immediately fled ;
we pursued, and got hold of three of them, the
fourth making his escape among the rocks. They
belonged to the party in the bush. Our first impression was to have punished the offenders on the
spot ; but reflecting a little that there might have
been other horses stolen, we kept them as hostages,
to see how things would end. I therefore carried
them back to our camp.
After the bustle was over, we secured the thieves,
and collected all our horses ; then returning to the
place where I had left the twenty men to guard the
Indians, we tried to re-open a communication with
them. But they would not speak a word to us,
although they spoke to each other in our hearing. So
we took all the property we had picked up belonging to them, also the tobacco I had left for them to
smoke, together with the three prisoners, and re-
turned to our camp; where we arrived late, after a
hard day's work.
On reaching the camp, we were told that the
stolen horses had not been missed until late in the
afternoon, although they must have been driven off
soon after we started in the morning : two parties
had been in pursuit, but none of them happened
to fall on their trail ; and had they escaped us, we
never should have seen one of them. The rest
of our horses being safe, we held a court-martial
on the three criminals, when the sentence pronounced by every voice in the camp, with the
exception of myself and two others, was to have
them shot ; but after giving them a good fright, I
managed to procure their escape the following day.
Raising camp, therefore, we commenced our journey
through the defile we had examined the day before,
taking the condemned criminals with us as prisoners.
With a view of preventing the sentence from being
put into execution, I selected some men on whom
I could depend, and delivered the criminals into
their hands, with strict orders to let them go while
passing through the defile. The Nez Percés, Iroquois, and I, for obvious reasons, went on ahead,
and all ended as I wished.
I was very happy that the miserable wretches
got off with their lives, for depriving them of life
would have done us no good, neither would it have
checked horse-stealing in those barbarous places.
Having once more got out of our troubles with 138
the natives, we pursued our homeward journey
with great eagerness, as the cold of winter was
closely pressing us in the rear. We, however, continued trapping and hunting, in order to make up,
in some degree, for the loss we had sustained by
the misconduct of the Iroquois.
It not unfrequently happened, however, that
natural causes operated against us ; for we had to
break the ice in order to relieve our traps almost
everv  morning ; nor  was  this  all :   the immense
•/ CD   3
flocks of wild fowl which hovered about the
numberless rivulets and pools at the head-waters of
the* Missouri and other minor rivers, in their passage to a warmer climate, tempted even the most
industrious among us to forego the more profitable
pursuit of trapping for the gratification of shooting
geese and ducks. Much time was, therefore, lost,
and much ammunition spent, to little purpose.
But this superabundance of wild fowl was not
the only attraction to divert our attention. We
were, at the same time, surrounded on all sides by
herds of buffalo, deer, moose, and elk, as well as
grouse, pheasants, and rabbits. From morning to
night, therefore, scarcely anything else was to be
heard about our camp but the sound of guns and
the cries of wild fowl and other animals.
As we journeyed among the rocks and defile%
the Nez Percés took us a little out of our way, and
showed us the spot where their six companions had
fallen a sacrifice to the fury of their enemies ; and INDIAN  MOURNING.
also the place where the Blackfeet who had killed
them lay in ambush. That one of them escaped
with their lives was a matter of wonder to us.
These victims had, according to Indian custom, been
all scalped, cut to pieces, and their limbs strewed
about the place. On arriving at the fatal spot, the
poor fellows wrought themselves into a frantic state
of mourning, tearing their hair, cutting their flesh,
and howling like wild beasts for some time ; then
gathering up the remains of the dead, they buried
them at a distance.
After a few days' hard travelling, with more or
less success in the way of hunting, we encamped at
the foot of the celebrated mountain where we had
spent so much anxious labour in the spring, cutting
our road of eighteen miles long through a mass of
© © o
snow from eight to ten feet deep. The scene
was wholly changed : the mountain, then so terrific,
was now the reverse ; all the old snow had been
swept away by the summer heat. A sprinkling of
new-fallen snow, not six inches deep, was all that
concealed the features of the surface from the eye ;
and the next day, in six hours' time, we crossed it
without ever alighting from our horses. We encamped in the Valley of Troubles, equally celebrated
as being our prison for thirty-five days ; but its
appearance at this season, although still wrapped
in the white mantle of snow, was more cheering
than it was in the spring. At this time we
could smile with content,  inasmuch as every step 140
put our difficulties further behind us. Here we set
our traps, but only obtaining two otters, and no
beaver, our trapping ceased.
Soon after we had encamped, fresh tracks, supposed to be those of enemies, were discovered ;
which made me remark that there was no passing
that place without troubles. We therefore doubled
the guard on our camp and horses ; but next
morning all was safe. Raising camp, therefore, we
bade farewell to the Valley of Troubles, continued
our march, and visited the Ram's Head again. Our
road was encumbered with ice and snow, over
which we had to make our way with difficulty till
we reached Hell's Gates. Nor at that place were
our troubles diminished ; for the river which we
had to cross was partially frozen over with ice,
both solid and drift, and, with our utmost care,
one of our horses was drowned, and two of our
men were nearly sharing its fate.
Hell's Gates being now behind us, as well as our
dreaded enemies, we looked upon the danger and
troubles of the journey as ended. We quickened
our pace, and every step now became more and
more cheering, until the termination of our journey
at Flathead House, which we reached at the
end of November. As the reader may wish to
know the extent of our success in the object of our
pursuit, after all our toils, I may say that, aJl
things considered, our returns were the most profitable ever brought from the Snake country in one FRUITS   OF  THE   EXPEDITION.
year; amounting to 5000 beaver, exclusive of
other peltries. I had the satisfaction of receiving, from Governor Simpson, a letter of thanks
on the success of the expedition. This brings our
Snake adventures to a close.
The most prominent defects of the present trapping system and Snake expeditions are, first, the
quality of the hands employed ; secondly, the
equipping depot ; and thirdly, the mode of regulating the annual trips. In the selection of men
for a Snake expedition, it has always been customary, heretofore, to collect all the refuse about the
different establishments, merely with a view, it
would appear, to make up numbers :—all the lazy,
cross-grained, and objectionable among the engaged
class ; the superannuated, infirm, and backsliding
freemen ; the wayward half-breed, the ignorant
native ; and, last of all, and worst of all, the plotting and faithless Iroquois :—taking it for granted
that, if conducted by an experienced leader, all
would go on well.
So long as Spokane House is made the starting
point, so long will the Snake business be a loss. The
distance is too great; and experience has proved
that in proportion to the distance, so are the risks
and disappointments. Now we have already
pointed out the locality of Spokane House ; but,
that its unfitness may, if possible, be convincing to
all, we shall make such further remarks as wiU
set the question at rest for ever.    The distance, 142
then, from Nez Percés, by Spokane House, to reach
the Snake country, subjects the trapper to a laborious journey of 690 miles more than he would
be subject to by starting direct from Nez Percés :
the roads are worse, and the natives more hostile.
The distance from Nez Perces to Oakanazan is
200 miles north; from Oakanazan to Spokane
House, 140 miles east; from Spokane House
to the Flatheads, 170 miles east by south; and
from the Flatheads to the Valley of Troubles, 180
miles south. Thèse distances are, perhaps, not
critically correct, but they are near the truth. The
Valley of Troubles we consider to be the parallel of
Nez Percés, lying in the direction of almost due
east : for when the trapper is there, he is not
nearer, to the Snake country than he was when at
Nez Percés, the point from whence he started.
As this distance cannot be performed in winter,
it has to be travelled in the spring and fall of
the year, and at the time the trapper ought to
be engaged in his field of chase : indeed, he ought
to be on his hunting-ground all the year round.
And in the annual trips also, the whole body of
trappers abandoning their hunting-ground every
autumn, and returning thither every spring, is discouraging : it subjects them to severe trials, unnecessary expense, loss of time, and not unfrequently loss of lives, from the danger of the route.
Their short visits and casual sojournings never
allow them either time or   opportunity to make YANKEE  ENTERPRISE.
good hunts, or to form a community of interests
with the natives. Everything, therefore, essential
to both parties, in as far as regards the interest of
the trader or the social improvement of the Indians, is, and has always been, lost sight of by the
mistaken policy of the whites.
Let the reader turn back and take a glance at
Point Turnagain, and there he will find that we
had to commence our homeward journey on the
24th of August, at the very time we ought to have
been preparing for commencing our fall hunts; and
then we only got to the Flatheads on the ice and
snows of winter.
Having briefly stated, and I hope satisfactorily,
some of the evils resulting from the present system,
I now come to propose the remedy. I have
advocated the plan, although without success, for
the last ten years ; and the more I have seen of the
country and its resources, the more I am convinced
of its proving successful.
Our southern and more enterprising neighbours
have not lost sight of the advantages thus offered
them, but continue year after year advancing with
hasty strides, scouring the country, and carrying
off the cream of the trade ; and if we do not
speedily bestir ourselves, the Yankees will reap all
the advantages of our discoveries. While our great
men west of the mountains, as we have often
stated, look on with a degree of supineness unparalleled in former days ; contenting themselves with
the fabulous tales of others, and too often listening 144
to the unfavourable side of things :   as is manifest
from their adherence to the old system.      These
dignitaries no sooner attain what they consider the
last step in promotion's ladder,  than they sink
down   at   once   into   indolence   and   spend   the
remainder of their probationary term at ease ; as if
promotion quenched ambition and lulled the passion of enterprise to sleep : this has given rise to
a common saying in this country, that one chief
clerk is  worth two  chief traders, and  one  chief
trader is worth two   chief  factors.     Nor is the
remark   perhaps   destitute   of   truth,   for   during
the eight years the Snake country had been under
the   North-West   Company,   and   the   four  years
it   has now been  subject  to   the   Hudson's  Bay
Company, neither a Bourgeois of the former, nor
a titled functionary of the latter, has ever yet set
a   foot  in   that   quarter  to   see   and   judge   for
Now to my plan. First, I hold Fort Nez Percés
to be the most eligible starting point for the trade
of the Snake country, so long as the Columbia River
is the port of transportation ; for it possesses more
advantages and is liable to fewer objections than
any other.
Taking Nez Percés as the starting point in
future, I would next advert to what may be
called the mainspring of all the machinery—
the kind of trappers most fitted to the business
of the Snake country. Good, steady men of
character, thrifty and  persevering,   are  the men THE  MEtf.
required; no matter to what class or country they
may belong: such hands can always be depended
upon; their own interest would be a guarantee for
their good conduct. In short, such men as the
general run of servants throughout the country
are ; or I would say the more steady and better
class of them.
These men would not, however, be denominated
freemen; for in this country there is something
depraved in the word freedom. They should be
engaged for three or five years ; and once on their
field of chase, there remain stationary, for the purpose of trapping beaver at all seasons of the year,
or such other duties as might be found necessary.
With such men as we have described, and under
such regulations, there would be little doubt as to
a successful issue. Besides, we possess advantages
now which we did not before : we know the
country, we know the natives, we know the best
hunting-grounds, and we are acquainted with the
best roads, the difficulties, the dangers, the wants
of the natives, and the requisite articles for carrying on the trade to the best advantage. In
feet, we know almost everything connected with
the business.
The trappers remaining on their trapping-ground
all the year round, could avail themselves, under an
active and intelligent conductor, of all the advantages
© 3 O
the country possesses ; and they would have this
additional advantage, that in conveying their furs
""—©"7 •/ ©
VOL. II. L 146
to Fort Nez Percés, they would do so, not as
formerly at the expense of their spring or fall
hunt, but in the middle of summer, when there m
no hunting going on. In the heat of summer, the
beaver is always of an inferior quality, and then
all trapping ceases for a certain time. This season
would also be the time when the hostile tribes
would be absent, either hunting the buffalo or at
war, and consequently removed out of the way of
the whites ; so that the route would be clear and
the roads safe.
In the Snake country there is a field large
enough and rich enough for one hundred trappers^
for a quarter of a century to come. But I will
go upon -a smaller scale, and begin the business on
this new plan, with the same number as was
employed formerly; say fifty, with five extra hands
as a eamp guard. Now in my late expedition,
with the medley of fifty-five men, which composed
my party at first, there were only twenty-eight of
the number trappers ; some even of that number
very indifferent, and badly provided with traps,
having only, on an average, five each, when they
ought to have had double that number on sueh
long journeys. As we got a few skins from the
Iroquois before they left the party and after they
joined it again, and as I wish to make my calculations upon as fair a scale as possible, I shall say that
I only lost the hunts of eight, leaving my number
of actual trappers just twenty ; yet they averaged DEPOT  FOR  THE  RETURNS.
250 beaver each. Now if twenty trappers produce 5000 beaver in a given time, a simple question in the rule of three will tell us that fifty
trappers ought to produce 12,500 beaver in the
same time. And if we calculate upon the quality
of the hands, and the superior advantages they
would possess, in time as well as in everything else,
we ought reasonably to anticipate at least one-third
more from them ; the supply being inexhaustible.
But it is not on a starting point, nor on the
trappers alone, that the success of the business on
the improved system will chiefly depend; we must
have a trading establishment in the Snake country
likewise, to serve as a rallying point for all hands,
where they could assemble at stated periods.
This establishment would serve as a depot for the
returns, where they would remain in safety, from
time to time, to wait the season of transportation ;
and would relieve the hunters from the risk of
carrying about their beaver, on weak and jaded
horses, all the year round ; or of making caches,
a practice never free from more or less risk.
The advantages, however, of an establishment of
this kind can only be fully appreciated by those
conversant with the more minute details of the
Now let us see how far an establishment of this
kind would benefit the natives, or be favourable
to the trade generally. The Snakes have invited
us often to form an establishment among them.
r   l 2 148
They are often engaged in a defensive war ; they
have no traders, consequently they are under every
disadvantage. Not an hour, therefore, but they
would be teasing us for something: one would
want a gun—a gun requires ammunition ; and what
one would be in want of, so would another, so
would all. In short, they want everything, for they
have nothing; and by the time we could supply
them with all their wants, we should be enriched
and they would be civilised. They have promised
us every protection and every encouragement, and
so anxious are they to obtain the boon, that their
promises were unbounded, and we left them with
regret. The natives are numerous, beaver plentiful,
and a growing desire to possess our toys and
trinkets would soon make them industrious hunters.
On the whole, but few heavy articles would be
required ; as clothing they do not want. Vermilion,
beads, and buttons, axes, knives, awls^ and needles,
are the articles most desired by them, next to their
warlike implements. A blacksmith, and a few'
hundred weight of iron attached to the establishment, would alone be worth a whole trapping
The establishment would be a simple stockaded
fort or trading post ; the erection of which would
cost next to nothing, for the trappers, during the
idle season, would be amply sufficient to do all the
work necessary, as is customary in other parts of
the country.   It might or might not be a permanent
establishment : it might be here this year, and
removed to the distance of a hundred miles the
next, as occasion required ; it being chiefly intended
as a stronghold for the benefit of the trappers, as
well as for the convenience of trading with the
natives. At the same time, the trappers would, in
a more or less degree, by their presence in the
vicinity, serve as a guard for its protection.
And a post once established among them, the last
but not the least essential part of this simple plan
of improvement is to abolish altogether the transportation of property, either furs or merchandise,
by horses, and avail ourselves of the superior advantages offered by water communication ; it having
been satisfactorily proved, in the spring of 1819,
by Mr. M'Kenzie, that the navigation of the south
branch is perfectly practicable.
The expenses, therefore, both as to men and merchandise, of this post, exclusive of the hunters,
would be but a mere trifle annually; and it would
be well worth the experiment, for the security and
advantages it would afford to the trappers alone.
But I will now view it solely in the fight of a
trading post : as such, the Indians would flock to it
from all quarters, from interest as well as curiosity ;
and the spirit of emulation would be kindled
among a people long neglected. All the Snakes
would become purchasers, and every purchaser
would have to become a beaver hunter. But let
tis not raise our expectations too high.    The Snakes 150
are not now beaver hunters; but there is no doubt
that they would, like other Indians, soon become
so, on the introduction of whites among them ;
as the possession of one article would create a
desire to possess another: and in the meantime
their numbers would make up for their unskil-
Keeping these points in view, I would notice
that there are 36,000 souls in the Snake country;
and allowing six to a family, that would give
6000 families. Now my anticipations would not
surely be stretched beyond moderation, in expecting
two beaver skins from each family, even for the
first year; equal to 12,000 beaver. And should
the trappers realise our expectations, in doing their
duty, both results put together would yield 24,500
beaver annually. That ought, according to the
new system, to be the returns of the Snake
country in future ; and might have been the returns
for years past, had men been alive to their own
I have endeavoured to make myself understood,
by developing the outline of the plan as plainly
on paper as it appears in all its parts practicable
to me. But as I have not calculated the more
minute details of all the expenses which this braneh
of the trade would cost, nor perhaps made all due
allowances for contingencies (which could not well
be done), I dare not affirm what the annual profits
would be ;   but were I to hazard an opinion I SKETCH OF THE SNAKE PEOPLE.
should estimate the clear gain at not less than ten
thousand pounds sterling per annum.
Having presented the reader with a sketch of
my plan for improving the trade of the Snake
country, I shall next make a few remarks on the
condition of the natives, as we found them ; and
finally, conclude with a brief specimen of their
Although I have divided the great Snake
nation into three separate sections, the distinction
cannot be considered very definite, since they
invariably mix and intermarry with each other.
Besides^ they all seem to be governed by the same
laws : their manners, their feelings, and thdat
principal habits are likewise the same. Taking
them altogether then, as a family of the bwman
race, they have been considered and represented as
rather a dull and degraded people, diminutive in
size, weak in intellect, and wanting in courage.
And this opinion is very probable to a casual
observer at first sight, or when seen in small
numbers ; for their apparent timidity, grave, and
reserved habits, give them an air of stupidity.
An intimate knowledge of the Snake character
wiU, however, place them on an equal footing with
those of other kindred nations, either east or west
of the mountains, both in respect to their mental
faculties and moral attributes. The Snakes, from
their inland position, have seldom been visited
by the whites ; nor was it until the Oregon territory
./i 152
began to attract public attention, and stimulate a
spirit of inquiry into the regions of the far west,
that the Snakes, as a nation, became generally
known. Nor had traders ever penetrated into that
distant wilderness ; so that they remained, until
lately, in their primeval simplicity. Meanwhile they
have been surrounded on all sides by powerful and
warlike nations, which nations have, for nearly
a century past, been frequented by traders, and
consequently, all that time, furnished with fire-arms
and other weapons of war; to the great annoyance
and almost ruin of the poor and defenceless Snakes,
who have had to defend their country and protect themselves with the simple bow and arrow,
against the destructive missiles of their numerous
Hence it was that the Blackfeet, the Piegans,
and other tribes east of the mountains, and, at
a later period, those on the Columbia likewise, have
made the Snake country the theatre of war; and
hence the Snakes, from their unarmed and defenceless state, have been stigmatised as a dastardly race
unskilled in the art of war. Thus it is that so
many slaves, scalps, and other barbarous trophies
have, from time to time, been taken from them
and carried off; and these occasional successes have
always been represented to their disadvantage,
without, however, once assigning the real cause—the
unequal combat which they carried on. But arm
the Snakes, and put them upon an equal footing
with their adversaries, and I will venture to say,
from what I have seen of them, that few Indians
surpass them in boldness or moral courage : my
only wonder is, that they have been able, under
so many discouraging circumstances, to exist as
a nation, and preserve their freedom and independence so long.
.       . Shamcats.
. Watts.
• Payatshop.
. Whatsaw.
. Mannee.
i        • Equamoaks.
. Chinish.
.        • Cannought.
. Tabeboo.
. Shoshonee.
»       • Tisand.
. Quoitsand.
,       . Paw.
. Parrow.
,       . Agaitsh.
. Tiebit.
Cross over
.       * Maiimaw.
Far off    .
î       » Mirancoineat
Near to
1      • Steesheets.
>       . Sabeigh.
.       . Mayhow.
Night       ,
. E'Oh. 154
. Equamamequa»
. Johumby.
Morning  .
. Eyesequittaw.
.* Tecome.
. Wyesk.
. Mop.
. Poetsill.
. Eatate.
. Mawze.
. Bauks.
. Sherry.
. Warack.
Buffalo     .
. Pishish.
Blanket   .
. Cutto.
. Wheat.
. Buyap.
. Eyoutassteaw.
Fat           .       .
. Payuhoope.
. Cowa.
. Kooreackack.
. Nobill.
Thief        .
. Kaysleonand.
. Tieass tiass.
. Pyeanttea.
Yes          .       .
. Kaick.
No           .       .       .
. Waypo.
Work       .       I •    ,
. Gouree.
** It is now a quarter of a century, or more, since the discussion of the trade of the Snake country occupied the attention of
fur-traders. In those days it was, indeed, a question of some
importance, and worth contending for ; but that importance was at
the time, as the reader must be. aware, overlooked, or at least
never taken advantage of, by the English traders then in the
country ; and it is now regarded by those who know no better as
a tale twice told—of little value.   True, the lapse of years have TRADE OF THE SNAKE COUNTRY.
brought about many changes, and, among others, the country itself
may be said to have changed masters; nevertheless, up to the
present day it has not diminished in riches nor in importance to
fur-traders. And however I may regret that my remarks were not
made public at the time I first wrote, I am not on that account
to look on things past and gone as utterly useless ; nor ought what
I have said to be considered as out of place, inasmuch as it
illustrates the history of a bygone period. I can state with
undiminished confidence, that the Snake country towards the
Rocky Mountains is, and wilt be, rich in furs for some generations
to come, and full of interest to men of enterprise. Indeed, the
dangers by which it was then, and still is, in a more or less
degree, surrounded, will always tend to preserve the furs in that
inland quarter. Small trapping parties can never ruin the
country, but they wUl ruin themselves. It is only strong and
formidable parties that can ever inherit these riches; and now
that the Americans are fast spreading themselves In that direction,
these mines of wealth will not be overlooked, nor the Iong-
neglected natives, we trust, be allowed to remain much longer
in darkness and idolatry. CHAPTER  XIV.
Dawn of education on the Oregon—Speech of a Kootanais chief—
The farewell—Juvenile adventurers—Result—Flathead River—
The Forks—Interview—Party set out for the Rocky Mountains-
Parting scene—Facilities—Bold undertaking—View of the subject—Kettle Falls—Fort Col ville—Remarks—Gloomy place-
Petit Dalles—Some account of the place-^-Islands—A boat in
jeopardy — Kootanais River — Stony barrier—Desolation—No
Indians — No animals — First lake — Extent—Scenery—The
wounded Indian—Jealousy in the wilderness—New-fashioned
canoes—Link between the lakes—Upper lake—Sudden appearance of an Indian—Chief of the Sinatcheggs—His story—Some
account of his country and people—The deception—Length of
upper lake—Some account of the country—The child—Peace-
offering—The wretched flock—Gloomy aspect—Perilous navigation—The ideal city—M'Kenzie's River—Dalles des Morts—
Seat of desolation—Natural curiosity—Moisture—Castle-rock
ores—Transparent substances—A man in a gold mine—Ross's
River—Cataract creeks—The circus—Diamond creek—Brilliant
objects—Beaver islands—McMillan's River—Landscape in confusion—Belle Yue point—Deceitful windings—The steersman's
warning—Canoe River—Northernmost point of Columbia —
Portage River—Main branch—Length of north branch—Land
on Portage point—Columbia voyage concluded,     j
Haying closed my remarks on the Snake country, I resume my narrative. The reader will remember that we had reached the Flatheads at the
end of November. I passed the winter in charge
there ; and during my residence was desired by
Governor Simpson to try and procure two Indian DAWN  OF  EDUCATION   ON  THE  OREGON.    157
boys from their relations, for the purpose of being
educated at Red River Colony. This was a new
and promising feature in the policy of the place—
it was the dawn of a brighter day west of the
mountains, and ought long to be remembered with
These natives, notwithstanding their aversion to
part with their children—and particularly so on this
occasion, it being the first proposal that had ever
been made to them by the whites, for their children
to leave their native country, either for education or
any other purpose—had so much confidence that,
after a council or two had sat, the chiefs not only
complied with the request, but, as a more striking
example of their willingness, agreed to let two
of their own children avail themselves of the
proffered boon, whom they without hesitation delivered up to me.
When the business was over, with all the ceremony attending it, the father of one of the boys
got up and made an harangue :—$ You see/' said
he to me, " we have given you our children : not our
servants, or our slaves, but our own children |f striking at the same time one hand on his left breast,
and with the other pointing to one of his wives, the
mother of the boy. "We have given you our
hearts—our children are our hearts ; but bring
them back again to us before they become white
men—-we wish to see them once more Indians—
and after that, you can make them white men, if 158    THE  FAREWELL JUVENILE  ADVENTURERS.
you like. But let them not get sick, nor die: if
they get sick, we shall get sick ; if they die, wé
shall die. Take them ; they are now yours." The
chief then sat down, when all present broke out
into lamentations ; after which the chiefe rose, and
putting the boys' hands into mine, we parted. The
scene was very affecting, and I felt great regret at
their parting.
One of the boys was the son of a Kootanais chief,
and named by us Pelly, after the Governor of the
Hudson's Bay Company ; the other was a son of
one of the Spokane chiefe, and we called him Garry,
after one of the Directors ; they were about ten or
twelve years old, both fine promising youths of
equal age. As it is not likely we shall be recurring
to this circumstance again, we may mention that
the boys reached their destination, and were educated at the Missionary School. At the end of two
or three years, however, Kootanais Pelly, after
making considerable progress in learning, died ;
some years afterwards, Spokane Garry returned
back to his own country with a good English education, and spoke our language fluently. These
were the first Indians belonging to the Oregon territory ever taught to read and write ; for which the
praise is due to Governor Simpson.*
We return to  our subject.    Leaving  Flathead
* This boy, Spokane Garry, did not realise the expectations entertained of him on his return to his countrymen.—See Sir Geo.
Simpson's K Narrative," page 144. FLATHEAD  RIVER GOVERNOR  SIMPSON.     159
House early in the spring, with the furs of the
post and the Snake returns, which had of necessity
to pass the winter at that places vpe commenced our
voyage down Flathead Biver. This takes a long
time on account of the intricate navigation; that
river being shoal, and full of rapids, all the way
down to Lake Callispellum—a small sheet of water
so called after the tribe of that name, and through
which the river passes. A little beyond the west
end of the lake, we leave Flathead River altogether,
as it continues its course to the right; our road
led to the left, that we might avail ourselves of the
portage (an overland carriage of some thirty miles)
to Spokane House, and from thence by the same
mode of conveyance to the Forks or mouth of
Spokane River. There we arrived, after a voyage
of 240 miles, on the  12th April,  1825.
The reader will here notice that there is no water
communication leading either to or from Spokane
House, navigable for any craft larger than an
Indian canoe. Here I had the honour of an interview with Governor Simpson, for the first time, he
being then on his way across the mountains for
Rupert's Land. I made known to him my determination to leave the Columbia, and my intention of
going to Red River Settlement to see that place.
On mentioning Red River, the Governor observed
to me, I If you are resolved on leaving the service
and going to Red River, I shall have a situation 160       PARTY  FOR  THE  ROCKY  MOUNTAINS.
there for you until you have time to look about
you." I thanked his Excellency for the offer,
and prepared for my journey.
At the entrance of  Spokane  River, Governor
Simpson, chief Factor McMillan, myself,  my son,
then eleven years of age, the two  Indian boys,
Pelly and Garry, together with fifteen men, all embarked on board of two boats, and set out on our
way for the Rocky Mountains.    The season was
early, the weather fine, the grass already long, the
trees covered with foliage, and the whole face of
nature smiled ; every countenance, too, beamed with
cheerfulness : I alone was downcast.     I had to leave
my family behind, who had for years shared with
me in the toils and dangers of my travels ;  this
was to me a source of grief and anxiety, although
it had been arranged that they were to cross over
and join me the following year.    On these occasions, the Company afford every facility to families
leaving the country ; and as it is impossible for
women  and  children  to undertake  such  arduous
voyages in the spring of the year—owing to the
cold, the high state of the waters, the deep snows in
the mountains, and the general hurry and despatch
at that season—families in going from one part of
the country to another are provided with everything
for their comfort and convenience at more favourable seasons.    My family reached the mountains
in the same autumn, and wintered on the height of land ; they thence proceeding early in the spring,
joined me in health and good spirits at Red River
Colony in the summer of 1826.
But to return to the voyage, from our starting-
point to the Rocky Mountains. This has not yet
been noticed in our narrative ; nor, as far as I know,
been described by any person ; so that our attention
will now be more particularly directed to that part
of Columbia as we proceed.
Having started, we passed on to the Kettle
Falls, a distance of about 82 miles, which we may
call the first stage of our voyage, our course being
north-east, and the river full of rapids ; the prospects all along were pleasant : woods, plains, hills,
and dales, in endless succession. At the Falls, all
craft ascending or descending the river have to
make a portage, to pass that barrier. These Falls
roll over the rocks in various places ; they are not,
however, more than ten or twelve feet high, and
shift from place to place, according to the rising and
falling of the water, and the position of the rocks ;
so that at all stages of the water, the impediments
are pretty much the same, for as one place gets
better, another gets worse.
This place is a great rendezvous for the natives
during the salmon or summer season ; but neither
the concourse of Indians, nor the quantity of salmon killed at this place, are a tithe of the numbers
taken at the Dalles, or at Ama-ketsa's camp in the
Snake country.
M 162
At this place, the site of a new establishment,
to be named " Colville/"' was marked out, close to
the Falls. The situation of Colville has been extolled by many as a delightfiil spot ; there is a
small luxuriant vale of some acres in extent, where
the fort is to be built, under the brow of a woody
height : this is so fer pleasant enough, but in
every other respect the prospect on all sides is
limited. The place is secluded and gloomy ; unless
the unceasing noise of the Falls in front, and a
country skirted on the opposite side of the river
with barren and sterile rocks and impenetrable
forests in the rear, can compensate for the want of
variety in other respects. If so, the place may,
indeed, be called delightful ; otherwise, there are
very few places in this part of the country less
attractive,  or more wild.
From the Kettle Falls to the lower or Petit
Dalles, the second barrier in our journey, a distance
of twenty miles, the general course is N.N.W.,
the river very serpentine, but particularly so for the
first six miles, where it forms irregular courses, and
yet is smooth and free from rapids. At this place
we had to unload, and carried our property over
a portage of two hundred yards in length.
As we advanced, a httle above the site of Colville, a small stream enters on the west side of the
river Sunwhoyellpeatook or White Sheep River.
This is the only river that enters the main stream
till we reached the Petit Dalles, where the deep and PETIT  DALLES.
compressed body of water rushes with great velocity through a narrow passage. Here are a number
of cylindrical holes, which have been formed by
round stones or pebbles, being kept whirling round
by the current and the whirlpools, until they have
in the course of time made holes of various sizes
an the solid rocks ; some of them are not larger
than a snuff-box, while others are large enough to
contain tons of water.
Leaving the Petit Dalles, we proceeded against
a strong current until we had reached a distance of
sixteen miles, general course north, where the Columbia receives, on the east side, the tributary
stream of Flathead River, which we have already
traced to its source. At its entrance, where it shoots
*)ver a ledge of rocks eight or ten feet high, which
bars it across from side to side, it is fifty yards
broad, and falls into the main river in one white
foaming sheet. This river is sometimes called Pend
d'Oreille, sometimes Callispellum ; but it is more
generally known by the name Flathead River.
Near to this place are several islands of various
size ; some of them are formed entirely of drift wood,
and have enlarged year after year by accumulating
quantities which drift down the river ; others again
are formed of naked rocks which stud the river in
various places, interrupting the view and dividing
the stream into various channels. As we rounded
one of these high rocks one morning, against wind
and swell, one of our boats was almost dashed to
M 2 164
pieces and nearly upset ; our escape was a narrow4
one, for the rocks stopped our approach, and we
only reached the shore by the help of our companion boat. The east side of the river opposite
to this is skirted by a range of high land, rendered remarkable by four conspicuous knobs, which
show themselves at a distance ; here the river is
constantly shifting courses.
From the mouth of Flathead River we advanced through a rugged country, for the distance
of twenty-four miles, in a northerly direction, without meeting any other impediment than a strong
and rapid current. At the end of that distance,
as we rounded a low point of woods, on the east
side of the river, we came to the Kootanais, commonly called the McGillivray River ; this latter
stream is, at its entrance, double the breadth of the
Flathead River, although neither so deep nor so
The Kootanais River has its source in the Rocky
Mountains : in its westerly and meandering course
it passes through a considerable lake, and some time
before joining its waters with the Columbia, it
shoots over a height of fifteen feet. The entrance
of this river is rendered remarkable by having, on
the south side, one of those delightful spots which
man, in these wilds, is prone to admire ; and on
the left, the remains of a deserted Indian camp.
It is rendered still more remarkable by a dike of
round stones, which runs up obliquely against the STONY BARRIER.
main stream, on the west side, for more than one
hundred yards in length, resembling the foundation
of a wall ; it is nearly as high as the surface of the
water, and is clearly seen at low water. On the
opposite or east side is a similar range, of less extent. These are evidently the work of man, and
tiot destitute of ingenuity ; we supposed them to
be a contrivance for the purpose of catching fish
at low water : they are something similar to those
used by the Snakes during the salmon season. At
the upper end both ranges incline to the centre of
the river, where they nearly meet. If the object
was to bar the river across, it was certainly a
fruitless undertaking. On passing this barrier, the
river makes a quick and lengthy bend to the west,
and opens to more than its ordinary breadth, for a
distance of ten miles.
At the elbow of this bend, on the north side, is
a lofty mountain, opposite to which are a large
and small island, delightfully situated. The banks
are low, diversified with clumps of young poplars,
birch, and alder, which give to the surrounding
scenery a pleasing appearance. Here the general
aspect of the country is agreeable ; and we were
fortunate enough to find as much level ground as
we required to camp on for the night. This brings
us to the lower end of the first lake, the appearance of which caused much joy.
In looking back upon the part of the river we f
have voyaged, the mind is lost in wonder how
such a body of water, free from cascades, could have
ever made its way through a country so rocky and
mountainous. The river in most places is contracted
by the rocky heights on each side, and its low bed
makes it appear still more contracted than it really
is. The view in most places is limited and gloomy r
dark and impenetrable woods generally cover the
whole declivity down to the water's edge.
To this part of Columbia, Nature has dealt out?
her favours with a sparing hand : scarcely anyj
thing was to be seen but the river beneath us, and
the stern rocks and sombre wood above and around
us on every side. Not the least traces of animal
have we seen for some days past ; equally scarce
are the wild fowl ; even insects and reptiles seem
to have no place here—silence and desolation reign
undisturbed I could say of the few days past what
I could not have said before for the last fifteen years
-that I had passed a day and slept a night without
seeing an Indian, or the trace of any human being :
no wonder, then, that we should, after getting clear
of so dreary a part of the river, have felt a sensation
of relief on beholding the lake expand before us.
This brings us to the second stage of our voyage, a
distance of fifty miles.
At the entrance of the lake it has the appearance of a large river, with a high and conspicuous
knoll overlooking the  south-west entrance, which PAINTING   ON   THE   ROCKS.
points out its first course—north-west for fifteen
miles. During this distance a bold and abrupt
range of high lands on each side confine the river
between them. Immediately after the banks become low and the beach gravelly, along which are
scattered here and there some small cedars and dwarf
pines, and in one place a thicket of young firs
remarkable for their green and thriving appearance.
At a point on the west side a number of figures of
men and animals have been rudely portrayed on the
naked rocks with red ochre ; and into a large cavity,
at a considerable height above high-water mark, a
number of arrows have been shot, which remain as
a menace left by some distant tribe who had passed
there on a warlike expedition. The natives understand these signs, and can tell, on examining the
arrows, to which tribe they belong.
On these rocks the high-water mark .of former
years is indicated by a streak on the stones, and
by quantities of drift-wood lodged in the fissures
and clefts of the rocks at a distance of more than
thirty feet above the present surface of the water.
Here the waters are, apparently at least, more productive than the land, for the salmon and other
species of fish peculiar to the country sported about
in every direction, while the land presented but
Mttle to admire. In some parts, however, the trees
were of a good size, and not unfrequently spots of
rich soil were seen in the valleys. 168
In these parts we perceived, as we sailed along,
a remarkable whiteness on the rocks between the
high and low water mark. In other parts, again,
we noticed quite a different appearance : some of
the rocks showed a reddish, others a greenish hue,
not altogether displeasing to the eye. In the distance the general appearance of the country is very
pleasing—green, luxuriant, and diversified by thick
woods, with open plains, deep valleys, rivulets, and
spots of rich pasture.
After the first bend, the course of the lake is
due north, *and its 'average breadth about two
miles and a half; having a good sailing wind, we
soon got through it. At the upper end it contracts
to little more than a mile in breadth, and terminates in a course north by east ; but its general
course throughout is due north. This beautiful
sheet of water is forty-two miles long.
Just as we had reached the extreme point of the
lake we perceived in the edge of the bushes a thin
curl of smoke rising. Taking it for the residence
of some living inhabitant, we made for the spot,
and there found two Indians squatted before a
small fire, but without any lodge, or other shelter
than the woods afforded them ; one of them was
elderly, the other a young man of about twenty
years of age, who was suffering severely from a
wound in the breast. On inquiring how he came
by it, the old man, after some hesitation, related to
us the following storv :— EFFECTS  OF  JEALOUSY.
" We have been here," said he, " ten days. At
first we were a good many persons ; but my son,"
pointing to the wounded man, | had a quarrel
with one of his comrades about his wife, after
which the man went off, and my son's wife followed him, and we have not seen them since. My
son then in a fit of rage for his wife shot himself,
as you see, and I am taking care of him." From
this it would appear that the inhabitants of the
wilderness are subject to fits of jealousy. As soon
as the aged father had related his son's misfortune,
he began to cry and lament sadly.
They had applied nothing to the wound, but
had probed it with a small sharp stick, round the
point of which was tied a little of the inner rind of
the spruce bark pounded very soft, which kept
the wound running,—a painful operation, that
had reduced the patient almost to a skeleton.
Having nothing else, we gave him a piece of soap
to wash the wound, and then left them. The wound
was from a gun loaded with shot, which, as far as
we could judge, had penetrated almost through the
body ; but from what I have already seen of
wounds amongst Indians, I think it possible he
might recover.
At the water's edge we saw and examined a
birch-rind canoe of rather singular construction,
such as I had never seen in any other part of the
country, but used by the natives here ; for I saw
several of the same make when I passed this place
two years ago. Both stem and stern, instead of
being raised up in a gentle and regular curve, as is
customary elsewhere, lie flat on the surface of
the water, and terminate in a point resembling a
sturgeon's snout ; the upper part is covered, except
a space in the middle ; its length is 22 feet from
point to point, and the whole bottom between
these points is a dead level. Such craft must prove
exceedingly awkward in rough water ; and there is
often a heavy swell in these lakes.
We have noticed that the lake terminated in a
north-easterly direction, where we, of course, entered
the river again. During several miles there were
many sand flats, which during high water overflowed, and gave to the place more the appearance of a lake than a river ; but the current
decides the point in favour of the latter. Near
to this place flows on the east side a little rivet
which enters the parent stream through a low
woody pointy opposite to which, on the west side,
is a very conspicuous triangular mountain. The
country all round has a most savage and wild
appearance. Having proceeded sixteen miles in
the same direction as we left the lake, we came
to the second, or upper, lake. Here it began
to rain, and from rain turned to sleet, ending
in a heavy fell of snow ; and so very cold was
the weatiier that the men were obliged to have CHIEF  OF  THE  SINATCHEGGS.
recourse to their mittens and blanket coats : even
then, we passed a very cold and disagreeable
Just as we had encamped, a stout elderly savage
emerged from the rocks behind us. He appeared
at first rather surprised, shy, and reserved ; but
soon recovering his presence of mind, became talkative, and gave us much information respecting the
country, beaver and other animals, roads and distances ; also some account of himself and the Indians
of the place.
" My father," said he, f was a Kootanais chief;
but, in consequence of wars with the Blackfeet,
who often visited his lands, he and a part of his
people emigrated to this country about thirty years
ago. I am now chief of that band, and head of
aU the Indians here. We number about two
hundred, and call ourselves Sinatcheggs, the name
of the country; and here we have lived ever since.
I have been across the land on the west, as far as the
Sawthlelum-takut, or Oakanagan Lake, which Mes
due west from this, and can be travelled on foot in
six days. I and several of my people have likewise been to the She-whaps, which hes in a northwest direction from this ; but the road leading to
the latter place strikes off two days' journey from
this, and it takes eight days' travel to accomplish it.
We have no horses on our lands> nor is the country
suitable for them ; we make all our journeys on
foot.     This part is well stocked with beaver and 172
other kind of fttrs, and we have in consequence
often wished for a trader among us. The lakes
abound with sturgeon and other fish ; so that we
live well, and are at peace with all men."
Here the old man concluded his remarks, and
told us that his people were then living about two
miles up the river, where they were employed in
hunting wild animals and catching fish ; that his
stumbling upon us was the effect of mere chance,
he being at the time in pursuit of a wounded
moose deer ; but, on seeing the whites, he abandoned the pursuit, and came into our camp. We
gave the sachem of the Sinatcheggs an axe, a knife,
and some tobacco, and he took his departure highly
gratified with his reception.
Notwithstanding the weather was cold and unpleasant, we made an early start, and soon afterwards entered the second lake in a north-westerly
course for about ten miles. Everything around was
dreary and winter like ; and the tops of the highest
mountains were covered with snow. The wind
proving favourable, we hoisted sail, and proceeded
over a clear sheet of deep blue water. On entering the lake, our attention was at once attracted
by a number of white objects in the water, resembling at a little distance the appearance of
men. On a nearer approach, we found nothing
but stumps standing and leaning in every direction,
having their lower ends immovably fixed in the
sandy bottom.
Two years ago we passed this place in the night,
and had great difficulty in keeping our boats from
being either upset or broken by them, as they were
thickly studded in the channel through which we
had to pass.     Near the middle of the lake we
passed a prominent point of land on the east side,
with a high  bluff,  which we called Cape  Rock ;
opposite to which, on the west, the lake swells out
into a considerable bay, where the course inclines
more to the north.    On the same side is a high
peak,  treeless on the top, and capped with snow :
this peak marks  the broadest part  of the lake.
Looking   northward   from   this  point,    the   lake
appears very beautiful ; but the view is interrupted
by a lofty mountain, which at a distance appears
to bar the channel across, and terminates the lake.
We had no sooner arrived there than   on looking  back   we   saw plainly the   lofty top of the
triangular mountain passed at the upper end of the
first lake.
This body of water is in general broader, and
has a much finer appearance, than the other lake ;
but the shores are more rocky. Its length is about
thirty-three miles, its breadth threa miles, and it,
lies in the direction of north and south. As we
sailed along, we perceived several small rivers or
creeks enter it on either side ; but none of them of
a size to merit particular attention. The face of the
country generally is varied, broken, and mountainous.
On one occasion our attention was directed to a AN  INDIAN   FAMILY.
small Indian hut close by the water, and a child
about four or five years of age, endeavouring to
make its escape into the woods, by climbing up
the steep bank. As we approached the place, it
began to scream out, and tried again to get up,
but failed ; at last, however, it made a successful
effort, got up, and was out of sight in the bushes,
before we could land On jumping ashore, as we
were anxious to see some more of the Indians, we
speedily followed after, got hold of the little fellow
and brought him back to the hut. All this time we
saw nobody else ; but had no sooner showed our-
*/ 9>
selves to be friends, and paeifie d the little urchin by
acts of kindness, than an elderly woman made her
appearance out of a cleft of the rocks, and after her
two little girls crept out from the same hiding-
place. We spoke to them, and gave them a few
trifles ;  when the old woman ran off and brought
3 <3
us some roots and berries, which she laid down
before us : we then shook each of them bv the hand
and parted good friends.
The natives we have seen in these parts are few
and far between, and in their habits resemble wild
animals ; they seem to have no recognised camp like
other Indians. If the good old chief told us the
truth, that he was their pastor, or head, he has
a very scattered and wretched flock.
From the lower end of the first lake, all along
to this place, the country presents a varied aspect,
and we not unfrequently saw delightful spots that CEDAR   GROVE DEER  ISLAND.
will, at some future day,  prove  the  comfortable
abode of civilised man.
In taking leave of the lakes, we entered the
river in the usual course of north-west. At the end
of two miles we passed, on the east side, a cataract,
which shot over a precipice some thirty feet high ;
the water was clear as crystal and as cold as ice.
Near to the same spot is a fine thicket of stately
cedars, which we called Cedar Grove. Five miles
from Cataract Creek, we passed an island which,
from having started several deer on it, we named
Deer Island ; it is more than half a mife in length,
and formed entirely of driftwood, as appears from
the outer edges of it : the force of the current has
compressed the wood so closely and solidly together,
that it seems to have been laid in tiers, as by the
hands of man. The main body of the island has
become one solid mass of decayed vegetation ; out
of which are seen growing pines, poplars, and
a variety of trees, some of them measuring two
feet in diameter. Yet much of the original wood
of which the island was at first composed is still
solid, and in a good state of preservation, although,
perhaps, it had lain imbedded there for more than
a hundred years, and the surface or sward, formed
on the top from year to year, has increased the solid
earth to the thickness of several feet. In one or
two places we saw islands of this description beginning to be formed.
During the voyage we have generally omitted 176
to notice the numerous islands scattered throughout
the river, they presenting but little variety, for
except those that are purely rocky, they are
chiefly composed of drift wood. The immense
quantities which float down the river yearly, either
with the ice in the spring or during high water,
are often obstructed in the channel by sunken rocks ;
or the wood itself getting entangled, compressed,
and forced together by the current and ice, or fixed
in the sandy bottom, forms a nucleus, which keeps
accumulating until an island is formed.
In many places, notwithstanding the mountainous aspect of the country and rocky shores, the
current for short distances is smooth, and free from
rapids : from Deer Island to Otter Creek, a distance of eight miles, this is the general character of
the river. But from the latter to a place called
the Upper Little Narrows, there is a very dangerous place of more than a mile in length, lying
in the direction of east and west, a distance of
fifteen miles : the river there is full of rapids. Between Deer Island and the Narrows are to be
seen numerous sandy flats, remarkable for the
number and variety of shining particles—substances resembling different kinds of ores, lying
scattered almost everywhere along the beach, and
among the sand and rocks.*
k   In doubling one of many rapid   points which
almost   everywhere   arrest   the   progress   of   the
* A kind of talc common in that part of America. PERILOUS   NAVIGATION.
voyageur, the body of water was so strong and rapid,
that we failed with the paddle, setting-pole, and line
four times, in our attempts to ascend, and only got
up the fifth ; we therefore named the place Point
Try-it-again. At the head of this rapid we had to
cross the river, where the force of the water was so
great, that our boats were whirled round on the
surface by cross currents, so that they were in the
utmost danger of being swallowed up : one of the
shocks was so sudden that all hands were unseated.
Within the distance of seven miles we passed
eighteen strong rapids, crossed and recrossed the river
(to avoid bad places) one hundred and twelve times,
and passed in that distance sixteen cataracts, which
poured their tribute into the parent stream.
Few places can present a more gloomy or perilous prospect to the voyageur than the Little
Narrows ; for about a mile the view is almost completely shut up between mountains and rocks ; and
in getting our boats through, they were tossed
from side to side, leaving but little hope at times
of their ever getting up without accident. At the
head of this intricate passage, which we fortunately
got over in safety, the river forms endless windings,
for a distance of about ten miles ; when it enters,
on the east side, a considerable stream, which we
have named Beaver Creek, from the ravages of
that industrious animal seen about its banks. Here
also the tracks of deer and elk were seen, qti^
some wild ducks and geese.
dun 178
From the Narrows to Beaver River the general
aspect is diversified, from the hilly to the rocky and
mountainous, the channel being more or less rapid^
and the stones along the beach almost everywhere in-
crusted with a metallic substance resembling black-
lead, which gives them a smooth and glossy appearance. Here also the shining particles we noticed
some time ago have become more and more abun-
dant ; when the sun shines, they appear like bits
of tinsel lace, and are so dazzling as to affect the
At the distance of twelve miles, in the usual
course of north-west from Beaver Creek, there is a
remarkable height on the east side of the river ; it is
partly covered with snow, and partly with numerous
towering rocks, broken fragments, peaks, and serrated ranges, resembling the turrets, domes, spires,
and steeples of a city in ruins. What stamps the
impression of reality still more forcibly is the cloud
of mist that floats above this imaginary city ; and
the longer we looked at it, the stronger was the
illusion, so deceptive are objects seen with the
naked eye at a distance.
Twenty-two miles beyond the City of Rocks, a
fine river enters the Columbia, on the same side
as Beaver Creek. The largest we have met with
since passing the Kootanais River, I have named
M'Kenzie's River, after my companion and fellow
traveller of former years, M'Kenzie of Mayville.
At its entrance, and. on its banks, were numerous
tracks of the beaver, moose deer, and other animals; fresh bear tracks were also numerous.
At a short distance above the M'Kenzie River
commence the Grand Rapids, or Dalles des Morts.
These Dalles are about two miles in length from end
to end, in the direction of south-east and northwest ; and at the head of them is an abrupt bend,
forming the most dangerous part. Here the channel, which is scarcely forty yards broad, presents a
succession of white breakers, and a portage of
one hundred and fifty yards must be made, where
everything but the boats has to be carried. At the
bend or narrowest part of this intricate passage,
the river appears to have forced a passage for itself
through the solid rock ; but the huge sides of the
yawning chasm seem to threaten to resume their
former position by closing up the gap.
In the portage, the road by land is no less difficult, and but little less dangerous, than the passage
by water ; yet the adroit voyageur disregarding all
dangers, overcomes all difficulties. After three hours*
labour we landed the boats safely at the upper
end, paying but little attention to the objects
around us. Here many have closed their career,
and found a watery grave : here is to be seen a
cross, there a solitary grave, to tell their sad but
silent tale. Yet for all these warnings the boatmen
heedlessly push on, as if nothing had ever happened
to those who had gone before them !
N 2 180
A prospect more wild and dangerous than the
Grand Rapids we have seldom seen: at the upper
end is the spot where, in 1816, four of our men
perished. On this melancholy place stands, near to
the water's edge, a wide-spreading pine-tree, occu-*
pying the place of the weeping willow ; and close
by it is a lofty square rock, on which we inscribed their names. We then, in silence, turned our
backs on the Dalles des Morts, a distance from the
Lakes of seventy-five miles : this forms the fourth
stage of our journey.
From the upper end of the Grand Rapids, our
course leads due north ; and here, a little after
starting, we backed our paddles, and stood still for
some minutes, admiring a striking natural curiosity
on the east side. The water of a cataract creek,
after shooting over the brink of a bold precipice,
falls in a white sheet on to a broad flat rock, smooth
as glass, which forms the first step ; then upon a
second, some ten feet lower down ; and lastly on a
third, somewhat lower ; it then enters a subterraneous vault, formed at the mouth like a funnel, and
after passing through this funnel it again issues
forth, with the noise of distant thunder ; after
falling over another step, it meets the front of a
bold rock, which repulses back the water with such
violence as to keep it whirling round in a large
basin ; opposite to this rises the wing of a shelving cliff, which overhangs the basin, and forces back ORES  AND  METALLIC  SUBSTANCES.
the rising spray, refracting in the sunshine all the
colours of the rainbow. The creek then enters the
As we rounded Point Curiosity, a name we gave to
this place, we shot at a black bear, which although
badly wounded, got into the woods, and we had
no time to follow it. Soon afterwards we saw
some deer, and fired several shots at them, two of
them being killed on the spot. In these parts, the
constant fogs create so much humidity that the
air is always extremely damp ; even in fine weather
sportsmen must prime their guns anew, or they
will have but a poor chance of killing much game :
percussion guns would answer best in this climate.
As we advance, the river assumes a smoother surface,
and the country, for^a short distance, assumes a
more pleasing aspect.
Four miles from the Grand Rapids we passed
a cluster of rocky fragments, which obtained the
name of Castle Rock, from its singular appearance.
Near this place we picked up several pieces of lead
and iron ores ; the stones lying along the beach
were also variegated, and no less singular for their
whimsical shapes and colours, than remarkable for a
peculiar roughness of surface, resembling the rust of
old iron or coarse sand-paper ; others were coated
with a crust like black-lead, nor have the shining
particles among the sand and rocks diminished.
All the way from M'Kenzie's River up to Castle
Rock the   country is   remarkable for its gloomy 182
aspect, and the banks along the river for the
number and variety of spangled or shining substances, which everywhere attract attention.
And here, while surrounded with so many
novelties, one of our men, rather a green hand
from Canada, was so much delighted with the
spangled substances, that he fancied himself in one of
the gold-mines of Peru ; for he gathered together
and bagged nearly a bushel of these shining
treasures, saying to his companions that he would
enrich himself by selling them in his own country
for gold and silver.
At the distance of eight miles from Castle Rock
is Egg-shell Island ; this must be a great resort for
wild fowl in the summer season, as we found great
numbers of egg-shells scattered about the place. On
the east side, and about nine miles from Egg-shell
Island, a fine stream enters the river ; the first we have
met with above the Grand Rapids worth notice. Arriving at its entrance, we perceived some elk crossing
it, when I and one of the men set off in pursuit of
them; but we had to return, after a fruitless chase of
more than an hour, tired and unsuccessful, with our
clothes literally torn to rags. On our arrival, some
of the voyageurs, in a jocular mood, called out,
"We must name the river after Mr. Ross," and the
name remained. Ross's River is deeper, but not so
broad as M'Kenzie's, and it is a fine navigable
stream for canoes.
On the same side as Ross's River, we came to a THE   CIRCUS DIAMOND   CREEK.
place resembling an amphitheatre, with galleries,
boxes, and pit, as if cut out of the cliff by the
hand of man. This huge structure hangs rather
loosely and suspiciously over the side of the river,
and appears so awkwardly supported, that we were
rather alarmed to pass near it : this strange-looking
place, which we named the Circus, is about twelve
miles beyond Ross's River. Near to it were
three Indian birch-rind canoes laying on the beach,
turned upside down; but not a human being was
to be seen about the place. Not far from the
Circus, we passed Rapid Croche, so called from its
very crooked and serpentine appearance ; and near
to it Diamond Creek, a small stream remarkable
for the brilliant particles along its banks. Though
then small, yet if we may judge from the size of the
channel, a great and irresistible body of water
must discharge itself there at some season of the
year ; for its banks, which are low and flat, are
covered with large stones, trees, and drift wood,
which must have been hurled down by the force of
the current.
Eight miles beyond the Circus, we passed a
group of little islands, where beaver ravages were
to be seen ; from which circumstance we named
them Beaver Islands. Here we saw some geese, and
a few diving ducks, commonly called water-hens ; we
likewise saw two red squirrels, and some small butterflies, the first of the kind we had noticed during
the voyage.    At this place the mosquitoes were very 184
m'millan's river.
troublesome, notwithstanding the weather was cold
enough for blankets. A little distance from
Beaver Islands, a very pleasantly situated small
river forms the main stream on the west side ; I
named it M'Millan's River, as a tribute of friendship for James M'Millan, Esquire, formerly of
Columbia. Floating down this river, we noticed
numbers of black flies, large and small, called the
snow-fly ; we skimmed them off the surface of the
water with our hands, and many of them still
showed symptoms of life. Such is the dampness
of the climate here, that the smaller insects have
neither activity nor vigour to save themselves
by flight, except in the sunshine. In fact, the
state of the weather in these parts has a peculiar
influence over the whole face of nature : in a
dark day, everything appears in the most dismal
light, whereas if the sun happens to shine, the
rudest of Nature's works seem to smile and
produce a strikingly agreeable effect.
From M'Millan's River, a distance of eight
miles, we came to a considerable height, from
which we had a rather pleasing prospect. This
place I called Belle Vue Point. Here we had the
first view of the Rocky Mountains, lying northeast, distant about ten miles; and rocky, indeed, is
their appearance. Between the river we have
just named and Belle Vue Point the surrounding
aspect was strikingly wild and romantic ; an endless
variety  of  towering heights, rugged   peaks, and BELLE  VUE  POINT.
snow-capped mountains everywhere studded the
broken and barren surface.
After passing Belle Vue Point, the country was
more agreeable, and the river also ; but this improvement was but of short duration, for we had
only time to pass a point or two when the aspect
became gloomy, and the rapids and bad steps as
frequent as ever. As we advanced and viewed the
river ahead of us, it appeared to contract like the
tube of a funnel, and lose itself in the mountains ;
we, however, no sooner advanced to where it
seemed to terminate, than the mountains receded,
a passage presented itself, and we again beheld
the channel wide and navigable as ever, inviting
us to advance.
Again and again were we encouraged, until
we reached Crystal Creek, some two miles from
Belle Vue Point ; here, however, the mountains
closed in so near to each other as to confine the
view to the rocky heights on each side and the sky
above us : and here, indeed, the abrupt turnings of
the river seemed to preclude all hopes of any
forther progress ; yet we persevered, and our
efforts were crowned with success. For two days
past we had been following these short windings,
and doubtful points, where we could scarcely at
any time see the course of the river for half a
At last we reached a small opening, and were
relieved, inasmuch as we could see about us.    Not- 186
withstanding the intricate windings, and mountainous state of the country, the river is by no means
bad ; nor are the rapids or other difficult passages
to be compared, either for danger or difficulty, to
many places we had already passed We had np
sooner passed this opening than the mountains
closed in again upon the river, where the rapids and
difficult places became more and more frequent ;
but the active and adroit voyageurs seemed to
disregard all obstacles, and with paddle and pole
alternately, set all difficulties at defiance.
The Canadians are clever voyageurs ; in the
worst places, when the steersman calls out briskly,
" Tout à la fois : tout ensemble," giving a flourish
or two with his paddle, the effort they make is seldom unsuccessful, and all generally ends well. At
the distance of six miles from Crystal Ckeek, w$
arrived at the entrance of Canoe River, coming in
from the north-west, and about forty yards broad
at its mouth : this is the river I visited from the
She-whaps, across land, in September, 1816.
Here the main river veers gradually round, from
north-east to south-east, and marks the northernmost point of Columbia River. A little beyond
Canoe River a rapid little stream enters on the
east or mountain side, coming direct from the
height of land, which we shall have occasion to
mention more particularly hereafter : this stream
I have named Portage River. Opposite to it, the
Columbia spreads out, covering, during high water, COLUMBIA  VOYAGE   CONCLUDED.
a space of four hundred yards in breadth ; but at
low water it divides into three separate channels
each about fifty yards broad : the eastern channel
is the best, but all of them are shoal, and flow
rapidly over a rocky bottom; here, however, the
south channel spreads out, and finds its way among
the woods, as the bank there is low. From Portage
River the Columbia, in a south-east direction,
skirts the base of the mountains all along to its
source, a distance from our present position, following the circuitous course of the river, of one hundred and eighty miles, and it is navigable for boats
more than half the way.
According to the rough calculations we have
been able to make, this branch of the Columbia, in
all its windings, from the Great Forks near Fort
Nez Percés up to its source, may be considered
820 miles long. It offers a wide field to the
mineralogist, and unlimited employment to the lover
of natural history. Portage River, which is about
thirty yards wide, enters the Columbia at right
angles, and forms Portage Point. Here we landed,
secured our boats, and prepared for our journey
across the mountains ; which makes the fifth stage
of our route, and is a distance of sixty-eight miles
from the Grand Rapids. And this terminates our
voyage on the waters of the Columbia. CHAPTER XV.
Portage Point—Wild scenery—Forbidding prospect—The five
tribes—Begin the portage—The walking-stick Journal—Hard
day's work—Luxuries of the evening camp—Road described-
Leave Portage River—Scenery—Portage Valley—Climbing the
Grand Côte—Size of the timber—Encampment—Night scene
—Punch-bowl Lake—Sister Creeks—Farewell to Columbia—Avalanches—Devastation—Giant of the rocks—Horses arrive—
Road obstructions—The Hole—Athabasca—Length of portage—j
East side scenery—First establishment—North-westers and bark
canoes—Jasper's house Lapensie's grave—Solitary travelling
—Fort Assiniboine—Exchange horses for canoes—The new road—
Sturgeon River—The party described—Garments—Arrive at Fort
Edmonton—Indians—Trade—A ball—Offensive dogs—Saskatchewan boats—Charming scenery—Fort Carlton—Hostile Indians
—Agriculture—The swampy country—Crées—Fort Cumberland
—Sturgeon—Trade—Gardens—The sun-dial—Domestic cattle—
Lake Bourbon—Arctic land expedition—Franklin and Richardson—The country of frogs and mosquitoes—Grand rapid—Mis-
kagoes—Winipeg—Mossy Point—Arrive at Norway house—
Migratory habits of the warlike tribes of the plains—Views of
the introduction of agriculture—Mr. Leith's bequest.
With the last chapter we closed our remarks on
the water navigation of the Columbia, as far as
Portage Point, or as it has since been named Boat-
Encampment ; the spot from whence I turned back
two years ago.     But before leaving this stage of PORTAGE  POINT.
our journey, ï will make a few observations on
this interesting place.
Here the spectator has on one side a picturesque
view of most diversified scenery. The only
opening that anywhere presents itself is on the
south-west side ; and looking in that direction, we
saw the main stream before us ; the upper branch
flowing from the south-east on one hand, and
Canoe River and a parting glance of the descending
Columbia visible on the other. Turning round to
the east, the view is abruptly checked by the mountains ; not in a continuous range, but heights rising
one above another, almost everywhere shrouded in
a dark haze, which renders a passage over them
extremely doubtful. Yet through this apparently inaccessible barrier the traveller has to make his way.
We shall now glance at the country intervening
between Portage Point, the northernmost part of
the great north branch, and Cape Clear Weather,
the southernmost point of the still greater south
branch of Columbia ; where both rivers verge in the
mountains, at a distance of some seven hundred
miles apart. The figure of the country thus embraced represents a triangle, the base of which skirts
the Rocky Mountains, and terminates in a point at
the Great Forks, near Fort Nez Percés. The
northern section is well wooded and watered ; but
the character of the southern quarter is arid and
mountainous : yet, as a whole, it is a delightful
country in summer.
WAJIm. 19.0
Considering its extent, climate, animals of the
chase, horses, and scalps, all these temptations hold
out enticing prospects of booty to the marauding
brigands east of the mountains ; who, in consequence, visit it too frequently. It is the great
theatre of war, and the land for horse thieves ;
which may account for the scanty population. If
we leave out of the account casual visits of the
War-are-ree-kas, the few mountain Snakes on the
south, and the still fewer Sinatcheggs on the north,
there are only five petty tribes resident in all this
quarter ; namely, the Kootanais and Selish, or
Flatheads, at the foot of the mountains, and the
Pointed-hearts, Pend d'Oreilles, and Spokanes lower
down ; the whole not mustering more than 1850
As we ascended the river, we saw but few
traces of animals ; but when we happened to go
any distance into the woods, or from the river,
fresh tracks were so frequent as to cross each other
in all directions, particularly of the beaver.
Return we now for a moment to Portage Point,
where we arrived at nine o'clock in the morning :
such was our despatch, that we had no sooner concluded our voyage by water, and laid up our boats
on land, than, in the space of an hour, our arrangements for the arduous task of crossing the mountains
were completed.
With a load of ninety pounds' weight on each
man's back, and each carrying his gun and blanket, CROSSING  A  RIVEE.
we set out in a string one after another, on a narrow footpath across a low quagmire, overflowed in
many places with a foot or more of snow-water.
After proceeding for some distance, we crossed a low
and wet woody point ; then travelling nine miles
in an easterly course, we again fell on Portage
River ; on the wet and stony beach of which we
spread our blankets, and passed the night. Where
Portage River enters the Columbia, the current for
some distance is slack, but at our encampment it
flowed very swiftly.
After passing a cold night, owing to the wet
state of everything around us, we commenced
our journey at daybreak. A plunge or two in
the cold water was our morning dram, which we
had to repeat more frequently than we wished : in
short, our whole day was occupied in crossing and
recrossing this impetuous torrent.
When the current proves too strong or the
water too deep for one person to attempt it alone,
the whole join hands together, forming a chain, and
thus cross in an oblique line, to break the strength of
the current ; the tallest always leading the van. By
their united efforts, when a light person is swept off
his feet, which not unfrequently happens, the party
drag him along ; and the first who reaches the shore
always lays hold of the branches of some friendly
tree or bush that may be in the way ; the second
does the same, and so on till all get out of the water.
But often they are no  sooner out than in again ; 192
and perhaps several traverses will have to be made
within the space of a hundred yards, and sometimes
within a few yards of each other ; just as the rocks,
or other impediments bar the way. After crossing
several times, I regretted that I had not begun
sooner to count the number ; but before night, I
had sixty-two traverses marked on my walking-
stick, which served as my journal throughout the day.
When not among ice and snow, or in the water,
we had to walk on a stony beach, or on gravelly
flats, being constantly in and out of the water :
many had got their feet blistered, which was extremely painful. The cold made us advance at a quick
pace, to keep ourselves warm ; and despatch was
the order of the day. The Governor himself, generally at the head, made the first plunge into the
water, and was not the last to get out. His smile encouraged others, and his example checked murmuring.
At a crossing-place there was seldom a moment's
hesitation ; all plunged in, and had to get out as
they could. And we had to be lightly clad, so as
to drag less water. Our general course to-day was
north-east, but we had at times to follow every
point of the compass, and might have travelled
altogether twenty miles, although in a direct line
we scarcely advanced eight. The ascent appeared
to be gradual, yet the contrary was indicated by
the rapidity of the current. After a day of excessive fatigue, we halted at dusk, cooked our suppers, dried our clothes, smoked our pipes, then, each il
spreading his blanket, we laid ourselves down to
rest ; and, perhaps, of all rest, that enjoyed on the
voyage, after a hard day's labour, is the sweetest.
To give a correct idea of this part of our journey,
let the reader picture in his own mind a dark, narrow defile, skirted on one side by a chain of inaccessible mountains, rising to a great height, covered
with snow, and slippery with ice from their tops
down to the water's edge. And on the other side,
a beach comparatively low, but studded in an
irregular manner with standing and fallen trees,
rocks, and ice, and full of drift-wood ; over which
the torrent everywhere rushes with such irresistible
impetuosity, that very few would dare to adventure themselves in the stream. Let him again imagine a rapid river descending from some great
height, filling up the whole channel between the
rocky precipices on the south and the no less dangerous barrier on the north. And lastly, let him
suppose that we were obliged to make our way on
foot against such a torrent, by crossing and recross-
ing it in all its turns and windings from morning till
night, up to the"middle in water,—and he will understand that we have not exaggerated the difficulties
to be overcome in crossing the Rocky Mountains.
On the third morning, at daylight, we were
again on our journey ; but found our legs stiff and
our feet sore after the fatigues of yesterday. The
cold water had benumbed every joint and limb ; it
was with the utmost reluctance we could reconcile
VOL. II. o 194
ourselves to plunge into this cold and impetuous torrent again, on getting up in the morning. But we
had no choice ; so we continued our route, although
crossing far less frequently than before, until we had
travelled three miles. At this place the mountains
recede on one side, and on the other the country
becomes lower, forming a valley, with a varied and
beachy surface, but during the summer becomes an
inland lake ; over this valley we journeyed for
about two miles further, when we arrived at the
foot of the principal hill, commonly called the
Grande Côte. Here we leave the riva: to the left*
our road leading to the right.
At this place Portage River is scarcely twenty
yards broad ; but the width of the channel and
the traces of ravages left by the water among the
woods and rocks show that a powerful and impetuous body of water descends here at some season
of the year ; yet the general aspect is altogether
improved, and the country more open on the west,
and more pleasing than many places we had passed
further down.
At nine o'clock in the morning we commenced
the ascent of the Grande Côte, and continued to
ascend in a thousand sinuous windings till five
o'clock*in the afternoon; we then found ourselves
on the top of it, a distance of about three miles in
length, but scarcely a mile and a quarter in a
straight line. At first the ascent was gradual, but
it increased in difficulty as we advanced ; and this
-4 'g
was the more keenly felt as we became fatigued and
tired of the task. In some places the ascent was
so precipitous, and the short and intricate turnings
so steep, that we had to get up them by clinging
to the branches that stood in our way, and we not
unfrequently had recourse to our hands and knees ;
when this failed we had to be assisted by each
other, dragging first the man, and then his load up,
before we got to the summit. None, but a voyageur
or Indian can comprehend how men with heavy
loads could accomplish such a task. And much
greater would his surprise be if told that at certain
seasons, when the snows are off the ground, loaded
horses ascend and descend this route as far as
Portage Point, and that few accidents ever occur.
But although we were now on the top of the
Grande Côte, or Bell Hill, let not the reader imagine
that we had reached the highest part of the Rocky
Mountains ; for we saw heights towering above
heights, until their distant summits were lost in the
clouds. I therefore considered that the place we now
stood on was about half way from the base of the
Grande Côte to the top of the highest rock we saw
above us. The forest scenery, even at this height,
imparted variety, and relieved the eye from the dull
monotony of rocks and glaciers which everywhere
surrounded us. At the base the woods were thick,
and tbe trees measured from two to two-and-a-half
feet in diameter ; and all along the ascent the trees,
although not so numerous as below, were yet about
f o 2 19Q
the same size ; but on the top I found only a few
that measured more than a foot in diameter.
On the summit of the Grande Côte we found the
snow eight feet deep, and there we encamped for
the   night.     When   travelling   over   snow,   it  is
O CD 3
always customary for travellers to clear a spot
for their encampment ; but the men were so worn
out after their day's labour, that a little indulgence
was shown them on the present occasion. After
throwing the loads off their backs, instead of
setting them to clear away the snow and pitch the
tents as usual, they were ordered to lay a tier of
long green wood on the surface of the snow ; upon
which, after being covered over with wet faggots
and brushwood, a blazing fire was kindled, and we
prepared for rest. Travellers in severe weather, in
these parts, generally sleep with their feet towards
the fire ; it was so with us, as no regular encampment was made. Each rolling himself up in his
blanket, lay down on the surface of the snow,
with his feet to the centre, forming a circle round
the cheering fire ; every one stuck his shoes and
socks on a forked stick to dry, in order to be ready
for an early start. This being done, sleep soon
sealed up our eyes.
We were not, however, long permitted to enjoy
a bed of snow in peace ; for hardly had we slept,
when one poor fellow, who had placed his feet in
rather doubtful proximity to the fire, was awakened
by feeling it approach too near his toes.    Thus NIGHT  SCENE.
warned, he started up, exclaiming, | Le feu ! le feu ! "
In a moment we were roused ; but only to witness
a scene of confusion, mingled with jests and shouts
of laughter. It appeared that the fire had sunk
down a considerable way, owing to the melting of
the snow under it, and thus formed a miniature
crater, over which feet and blankets, as well as
shoes and socks, had experienced a too warm temperature. On jumping up, some, not aware of
their position, slid down, with an easy descent, into
the fiery gulph ; but, fortunately, the melted snow
which they carried down with them, and the activity of their comrades, who hastily dragged them
up, prevented anything more serious than a fright.
Some, however, were slightly burned ; but none
received any serious injury. The best part of the
joke was, that some one threw the poor fellow's bag
of stones, which he had collected along the way
and on which he set so much value, into the fiery
pit, and the distracted man had a hard scramble to
rescue his fossil treasures. Before we had got all
our odds and ends together, it was broad daylight ;
we, therefore, set out on our journey, promising
never again to encamp on the surface of the snow.
Leaving now the Grande Côte, we advanced on
the morning crust at a quick pace, through a broad
level valley, thickly wooded with dwarf pines, for
about six miles in an easterly direction, when we
reached what is called the great height of land. At
this place is a small circular basin of water, twenty
-K» 198
yards in diameter, dignified with the name of a
lake, out of which flow two small creeks. The
one on the west side discharges itself into Portage
River ; that on the east joins the Athabasca River
at a place called the Hole. This elevated pond
is further dignified with the name of the I Committee's Punch Bowl," in honour of which his
Excellency treated us to a bottle of wine, as we had
neither time nor convenience to make a bowl of
punch ; although a glass of it would have been very
acceptable. It is a tribute always paid to this
place when a nabob of the fur trade passes by.
Here I made a halt, turned round, and took a
last farewell of Columbia, with all its tributaries ;
and in doing so, I felt for the first time that I was
in one country, and my family in another. Notwithstanding the many anxious days and hairbreadth escapes I had undergone on the west side
of the Rocky Mountains and on the shores of the
Pacific during a period of fifteen years, I felt at this
moment a pang of regret at leaving it.
From Punch Bowl Lake we hastened on through
the same valley till we reached, at the end of fourteen miles, the Grand Batteur ; there we put up for
the night, not forgetting, however, to clear off the
snow, and place our fire on the solid earth. The
road over which we journeyed to-day was not bad ;
but, as an instance of its desolation, one solitary
mountain hawk was all we saw of the feathered
tribes.    On   our  way hither,   our   attention  was AVALANCHES GIANT  OF  THE  ROCKS.
is 9
drawn to various parts, in consequence of occasionally hearing a loud and rumbling noise, not
unlike that of distant thunder, or rather volcanic
irruptions ; and on looking in the direction from
whence the noise proceeded, we always saw a
dense volume of smoke rising up like a cloud of
dust in dry weather. This, after some time, we
rdiscovered to be the sliding down of immense
bodies of snow .and ice from the overhanging cliffs
and precipices of the mountains, sweeping along in
their descent, rocks, stones, trees, and everything
that happened to lie in the way.
One of those avalanches had fallen on the right
hand of the valley through which we were journeying. It lay spread over a space of 540 paces, and
extended far out into the valley. The height from
which this sheet fell could not be less than 1500
feet. We, therefore, did not consider it safe to be
travelling under such awful heights, nor did we select
any such places for our encampments at -night.
Not far from this place is a very singular rock,
placed on the shoulder of another. This huge
and conspicuous block we named the Giant of the
Rocks, The bold and rugged features of the prospect here defy all description.
With the morning dawn we left the Grand
Batteur, passing a chilly and disagreeable night,
from the mountains of snow around us : the snow
Itad, however, diminished here to about twenty
inches.   We had only advanced a few miles, when 200
we had the good fortune to meet, at Campment
d'Original, two of the Company's men from the
nearest trading post, on the east side of the mountains, with a band of light horses for our service.
This meeting, by men tired and worn out with
fatigue, was a source of much joy; and we were
on the look out for them, for horses are always
provided, at both spring and fall, for the purposes
of transport, and to assist the foot-passengers and
On meeting the horses, we breakfasted, mounted,
and continued our journey. Here the men were
relieved of their burdens, so that all went on cheerfully until we reached the end of the portage, at a
place called the Hole, from the depth of the water
at the edge of the bank, the Athabasca being
unfathomable there. Course east ; distance twenty-
two miles.
Punch Bowl Creek, swelled at last to the size
of a moderate river, runs along through the same
valley, parallel to the road we travelled, and discharges itself into the Athabasca at the Hole, as we
have already noticed, where the broad side of that
river abruptly met us on emerging from the woods.
It lies in the direction of north and south, and
flows in the latter course. It is a fine stream, sixty-
five yards broad, and skirts close along the base of
the mountains. Our road thus far was much
obstructed by fallen timber, through which the fire
had passed, lying pell mell on the ground, imbedded CROSS  THE  ATHABASCA.
in ice and snow ; to get over or through which was
just as much as our horses could do. Crossing the
Athabasca at the Hole, we journeyed along the east
bank for some miles, until it unites at right angles
with another river of nearly equal size, which
enters on the east side. This stream we crossed
*also, and encamped, after a hard day's travel, at the
Grande Traverse.
We had now left the Athabasca portage behind
us, and got clear of the mountains, and computed
the distance from Portage Point to the Hole at
eighty-five miles. On reaching the Hole, the
mountains abruptly terminate in a uniform range,
and present a bold and stupendous wall of great
elevation. On the east side, the country at once
opens into a wide and boundless prairie—the land
of buffalo, and the hunter's paradise. Of the
different passes and portages through these mountains, with which I am acquainted, the Athabasca,
which we have just crossed, is perhaps the longest,
as well as the most gloomy and difficult ; owing
chiefly to the water in Portage Valley. The
Kootanais Pass, the route by Hell's Gates, or the
Valley of Troubles, are all less tedious, if taken in
the proper season, and the obstacles they present are
more easily overcome than those of the Athabasca ;
yet the Athabasca itself can be travelled from one
end to the other on horseback, with the exception
of one or two steps in the Grande Côte,
On decamping from the Grande Traverse, we 202
pursued our journey for ten miles in a northerly
direction, until we reached the first post, called the
Rocky Mountain House, where we left our horses,
and prepared for taking the paddle. On approaching this establishment, situated under the brow of
the mountain ridge, we had anticipated a gloomy
place ; but the very reverse was the case. We
advanced, from the water's edge, up an inclined
plane, some two or three hundred yards in length,
smooth as a bowling-green, and skirted on each
side by regular rows of trees and shrubs, the whole
presenting the appearance of an avenue leading to
some great man's castle, which had a very pleasing
effect. Here, however, we found no lordly dwellings, but a neat little group of wood huts suited
to the climate of the country, rendered comfortable
and filled with cheerful and happy inmates ; and
what gave to the place a cheering aspect was the
young grass, forming a pleasing contrast to the
snow-clad heights around.
Here my old friend Joseph Felix Larocque, Esq.,
an old north-wester, and formerly of Columbia, was
in charge ; and with his usual kindness, treated us
to a dish of very fine titameg, or white fish, the
first of the kind I had ever seen. The white fish
here is considered, in point of quality, in the same
light as'salmon on the Columbia, the finest fish in
the country ; and many an argument takes place
whenever parties east and west of the mountains
meet, as to which is the best.     The Columbians, as JASPERS   HOUSE.
a matter of course, argue in favour of the semet-
leck, or salmon ; while the adverse party advocate
as strongly the titameg, or white fish. Delicious,
however, as we ' found the titameg, there was
nothing either in the taste or flavour to induce me
to alter the opinion I had formed. I give the preference to the good old salmon, .as the king of all
the piscatory tribes on either side of the mountains.
After two hours' delay we said good-bye to Mr.
Larocque, and, embarking in two canoes, took the
current down the Athabasca. Wherever there is a
north-wester in this country, the birch-rind canoe
is sure to be found. Although boats would have
been far more safe and suitable for our purpose, yet
we had to embark in those fragile shells to shoot a
dangerous stream. After proceeding, for some distance, we put ashore at the first lake, merely an
enlargement of the river ; but here everything is
dignified with the name of lake.
The country lying east of the mountains being
generally better known than that on the west, we
shall be less minute in our details, and touch as
seldom as possible on things already known.
Starting at an early hour, we passed through the
first lake, and found at the end of the second,
another establishment, named "Jasper's House," still
smaller, and of less importance than the first, so
called in honour of the first adventurer who established it ; but now in charge of a man by the 204   LAPENSIE'S   GRAVE SOLITARY  TRAVELLING.
name of Klyne, a jolly old feltow, with a large
family. Attached to this petty post are only a
few indolent freemen : not an Indian did we see
about the place. Here we breakfasted, spent half
an hour, and again took the current.
From Jasper's House the river widens and becomes larger ; the current strong, and rapids frequent. Their appearance admonished us to proceed
with great caution ; yet with all our care, we broke
one of our canoes, and before we could get to shore
our bark was half filled. Ten minutes' delay, and
we were again on the water ; but had not gone far
before a second disaster sent us ashore. At this
place a wooden cross was stuck up in the edge
of the woods, and on examining it, I found it
marked the grave of one of the old Tonquin adventurers noticed in the first part of our narrative. On it was cut, in still legible characters,
I Oliviè Lapensie, from Lachine, drowned here in
May, 1814."
Leaving Lapensie's Island, the thick woods on
our left closed in to the beach, and cast a dismal
gloom on the place ; but on the right, the country
presented a more open and level aspect. If we except the few individuals seen at the establishments,
not another living being did we see, either civilised or savage, till we had reached the Company's
third establishment, called Fort Assiniboine ; a petty
post erected on the north bank of the river, and so
completely embosomed in the woods, that we did FORT  ASSINIBOINE.
not catch a glimpse of it until we were among
huts, and surrounded by howling dogs and screeching children. At this sylvan retreat, there were
but three rude houses. Two white men, and six
half-breeds, were all the men we saw about the
place, and there was not a picket or palisade to
guard them from either savage or bear ; which said
a great deal for the peaceable state of the country.
This mean abode was dignified with the name of
fort ; and with the presence of a chief factor. It
is right to observe, however, that Fort Assiniboine
was but a new place, in process of building.
Here we exchanged our canoes for horses, and
leaving the Athabasca, we prepared to travel by land,
intending to strike across the country in a southeasterly direction for the Saskatchewan River ; after
an hour and a half's delay, we shook hands with
McKintosh, crossed the river, mounted our horses,
and set off on what was called the new road. In
company with us, were some of the half-breed
stragglers of the place, who found it convenient to
join us in our march ; and a strange and grotesque
medley our cavalcade formed. Our new companions called themselves half-breeds, but in my
opinion there was not a drop of white blood in
their veins.
The road formerly in use between the Athabasca
and Saskatchewan River, in this place, being always
very wet and boggy at this season, it was judged
advisable to try some new path, and on it we set 206
out ; but after some days' travel, we had little reason
to congratulate ourselves, for the new road proved
decidedly worse than the old. The wet weather, together with sleet and snow, added to our difficulties.
At any dry season of the year, however, when
the snow is off the ground, the road we took, with
the exception of the fallen timber, would be preferable to the old pass.. In addition, however, to
other difficulties, three deep and miry rivers cross
both the old and new path ; where, instead of our
horses carrying us, we had to drag them, as we had
perhaps more interest in saving them than they in
saving us. So soft and. miry were the bottoms
and banks of those watercourses, particularly the
last one, called Sturgeon River; that we had to dismount and get over it with our horses following us.
Afterwards our way lay over a high level plain,
where we made a halt to refresh our worn-out
animals, and brush up ourselves a little before
arriving among strangers.
While marching, our cavalcade resembled an
Indian scouting party more than anything else ; for
except at camping time, the party was never together. During the day, every one rambled about
as his fancy led him, either in quest of game or
pleasure. On all such excursions the Indians are
to be seen occasionally, gazing on the top of some
eminence or conspicuous place, like spies on the look
out ; and they seldom approach the camp otherwise
than at full speed, as if bringing some pressing in- HORSES   AND   ACCOUTREMENTS.
teffigence, and generally amuse themselves with
a few notes of some barbarous song. Thus
the hardy veterans perambulate the most gloomy
wildernesses and are always at home, and from day
to day and from meal to meal, depend upon chance
for their meat, drink, and clothing ; yet they are, in
their condition, the happiest of all mortals.
The horses east of the mountains, which we have
hitherto seen, are lazy, and without spirit ; but hard
usage and scanty fare may in a great degree account
for their jaded appearance. Our followers tell us,
that all the worn-out and otherwise useless horses
are collected together and sent to what is called
the " reserve," for the use of the Rocky Mountain
pass. The California breed I found as superior to
those of Columbia as the latter are to those we see
here. Hence we might ask the question, Is there
more Spanish blood in them? or does the horse
deteriorate the further he goes to the north?
Having noticed the quality of our horses, we
next come to our riding accoutrements. The bridle,
if we may so call it, consists of a long thong of
raw hide dressed in the country fashion, called
Atscacha or Cubaress, some thirty feet long. One
end of it is tied round the animal's lower jaw,
the other, after running through the rider's left hand,
passes over the animal, and drags on the ground
some fifteen feet behind the horse. This is awkward
when numbers are riding together among the whites,
but pleasing to the Indian ;   because every jerk as 208
the party moves along, causes the animal to rear
and frolic about : this is looked upon as a mark of
mettle, and shows a spirited animal, and the oftener
the jerk is repeated by tramping on the atscacha,
the more highly is the rider flattered, as it never
fails to draw from him a smile of approbation.
Awkward as the atscacha is, it comes finely into
play when the rider has occasion to dismount, to
shoot, or follow game, to tie his horse, or catch him
when at liberty: in all these cases, it is far more
handy than our bridle.
Next comes the saddle. It consists of a piece of
dressed leather, made up in a peculiar fashion, and
stuffed with grass or the hair of animals ; with a
broad and fringed crupper. The saddle is not unfrequently trimmed and handsomely ornamented
with quill work, and the saddle cloth outdoes all
the rest in tawdry ornaments; yet such is the
construction of the Indian saddle, that it never
fails to injure the horse's back : every horse carries
his saddle-mark or sore back, as long as his legs
carry him. Lastly, a piece of wood bent and
shaped to hold the foot, supplies the place of the
stirrup. The reader may now fancy the appearance
of such a cavalcade parading the wilderness. Thus
mounted, we generally started with the rising and
encamped with the setting sun. Our horses being
refreshed, we resumed our journey, and proceeding
over the plain at a good speed soon reached Fort
Edmonton, pleasantly situated on the north bank of BALL  AT  THE  FORT.
the Saskatchewan  River, a distance of one hundred miles from Fort Assiniboine.
Mr. Chief Factor Rowan, formerly a partner of
the North-West Company, and long in the country,
presides here as the chief man of what is called the
Fort des Prairies, or Saskatchewan districts. By
him we were received with open arms. Gentlemen in the service are in the habit of receiving
all strangers, whether of high or low rank, connected or not with the Company, with courtesy
and affability. From motives of interest all Indians
visiting the establishments are welcomed with kindness, and treated as children by the traders. The
habit becomes familiar to them, and they take a
pleasure in holding out the right-hand of fellowship to all comers and goers.
On the evening we reached the fori, Mr. Rowan,
according to custom, when a great man arrives, gave
a grand ball in honour of Governor Simpson, at
which all the people about the establishment, high
and low, old and young of every class, attended,
dressed in their best attire. I had often heard the
females of Fort des Prairies celebrated for their
attractions; and I must say that report had not in
the least degree exaggerated their accomplishments.
Modest and unassuming, they dressed well, danced
well, and made a good show of fineries. In short,
the whole entertainment was conducted with much
good taste and decorum..
I had seen very few places in the country where
VOL. II. P 210
domestic arrangements, either within doors or without, were conducted with so much propriety as at
this place. At almost every other post, men and
women are to be seen congregating together during
the sports and amusements of the men, and the
women are often seen flirting idly about the establishments, mixing among the men at their several
duties. But it is not so here: I did not notice a
woman, old or young, married or single, going
about the place idle; all seemed to home,
and to be employed about their own affairs. The
moral and pleasing effect was such as might be
expected, and reflects great credit on Mr. Rowan
and on his family.
Fort Edmonton is a large compact establishment,
with good buildings, palisades, and bastions, pleasantly situated in a deep valley. An extensive
and profitable trade is carried on with the warlike
tribes of the plains—Blackfeet, Piegans, Assini-
bôines, and Crées. All these roving bands look up
to Mr. Rowan as their common father, and he has
for more than a quarter of a century taught them
to love and to fear him. Attached to this place
are two large parks for raising grain, and, the soil
being good, it produces large crops of barley and
potatoes ; but the spring and fall frosts prove injurious to wheat, which, in consequence, seldom
comes to maturity
Adjoining the cultivated fields is  a very fine
level race-ground, of two miles or more in length; FORT   EDMONTON.
horse-racing being one of the chief amusements of
the" place during the summer season : and here we
may observe that Fort des Prairies is not only
celebrated for fine women, but for fine horses.
Mr. Rowan, a man of active habits, good humour,
and fond of riding and racing as ;a pastime, keeps
some of the best horses the country can produce,
and we were favoured with a specimen of them.
I rode round the race-ground a chestnut 'sixteen
hands high, and very spirited. I must not fail to
observe, after what has been already stated on the
subject of horses, that many of them, both for size
and muscle, were as fine animals as ever I had
seen in the country; from which we were convinced
that those belonging to what is called the " reserve"
are not to be taken as a criterion for the whole
country,—an instance how easily a careless observer might be deceived ; for had we not seen
Mr. Rowan's fine stud, we should have left the
Saskatchewan with a very unfavourable opinion of
the horses.
An abominable custom is very prevalent among
the traders on this § side the mountains, and
Edmonton is entitled to its own share of odium
—the keeping so many starving dogs about the
establishment in summer for their imaginary services in winter. There were no less than fifty-two
snarling and growling curs ; and they are said to
be very useful and profitable animals.
Formerly,  during the days of opposition, dogs
p  2 n
mmm^t     >"*)a^mmmm
might have been useful as runners, for the purpose
of securing furs ; but the peaceable state of the
country now affords both time and convenience for
the hunters to bring in their furs, and they do so :
yet the dogs are still kept. During by-gone days
the emulation among men for dogs as runners was
so great that all their hard earnings were spent
on them; and the tawdry paraphernalia required
to ornament a first-rate train was as expensive as
it was foolish : the wife might go without her
blanket ; but the husband must have his dogs, and
the dogs their scarlet ribbons and their bells !
The custom, however reprehensible in this point
of view, is equally so in others ; for the nuisance
of their presence in a fort is beyond endurance :
they are the terror of every woman and child
after dark. Nor can a stranger step, from one
door to another without being interrupted by
them ; and, worst of all, the place is kept like
a kennel : in wet weather the horrid stench is
These animals are in general of the wolf-breed,
and are said to be vigorous and long-winded : a
hundred miles a-day is a common journey for them.
They are not generally reared about the establishments, but purchased from the natives for a mere
trifle when young : when trained, they sell among
the whites as high as five pounds sterling—double
the price of a horse—and sometimes higher, according to fancy. SASKATCHEWAN BOATS.
From Edmonton a brigade of boats makes a
trip to York Factory and back once every year,
carrying out the annual stock of furs, and bringing back the supphes required for the trade :
this trip generally takes four months and a half
to perform. We had to wait the spring arrangements, and before they were completed fourteen
days had elapsed ; at the end of that period,
however, the flotilla, consisting of twelve barges,
started with us on board ; and we enjoyed a
very pleasant voyage down the broad and swift
The boats in this quarter are considerably larger
and stronger built than those in use on the Columbia.
New boats here will cost twenty-five pounds sterling. They are propelled with oars, are roomy
and comfortable, and carry from eighty to one
hundred pieces, of a hundred pounds weight each.
We descended this delightful stream with high
water, fair wind, and full sails ; the river being
smooth, and free from rapids, but not in all places
free from sand-bars. The land on each side rises
gradually from the water's ecfge, and recedes as
gradually back to the height of the last bank in
a green undulating surface of hill and dale, to a
considerable distance; then the country opens finely
to view, presenting a plain of almost boundless
extent. This place has neither the bold and
rocky shores, nor the wild and mountainous aspect,
of Columbia, but has been well termed the land of 214
prairies—a land teeming with buffalo and deer,
lakes and wild fowl ; and for diversity of landscape, or beauty of scenery, few countries can
equal—none surpass it. We continued our voyage
until we reached Carlton r general course, east ;
distance, three hundred and eighty miles. We
occasionally observed on the heights, as we sailed
along, some straggling bands of Indians, but met
with none of them.
Carlton House is built on the south bank, about
One hundred and fifty yards from the water side;
behind which is a rising ground, which commands
the place. This establishment is next in extent
and importance to Edmonton. It was at this timer
however, undergoing a thorough repair, and had a
very unfavourable appearance. The river, which
is here broad, and the opposite side agreeable,
presents a most delightful prospect in front. The
south side, however, as well as the east and west,
have nothing to boast of: high ground, covered
with dwarf poplar, confines the view.
Detached bands of the same warlike tribes who
frequent Edmonton*trade also at this place ; but
furs are rapidly declining. The trade is not considered profitable ; and the Indians are not at ali
times friendly. The Crées alone, who inhabit the
country to the north, are quiet and friendly; those
on the south are brigands. In suimmer a guard by
day and a watch by night are indispensable ; and
the hostile visitors have been» known to scalp soma
of the whites within a hundred yards of the fort
Carlton, like many other places in this country,
has too often changed masters to be what it ought
to be—a compact and formidable establishment, so
necessary where hostile Indians frequent. The
palisades are neither straight nor strong, two very
great faults in fortifying against Indians; and over
the front gate is a paltry sort of bastion, or blockhouse, in which few would venture to fire a pistol.
Altogether, the place had neither strength nor
beauty to recommend it ; and at the time we
arrived ten resolute Indians might have taken it
with the greatest ease.
There are, however, some good cultivated fields,
which, with moderate industry, are said to yield
abundant crops of barley and potatoes. Wheat
grows here, and hops have been raised with great
success ; the gardens also produce good returns of
onions, carrots, turnips, and cabbages. And here I
noticed the best root-houses I have seen in the
country. It is pleasing thus to witness the fntits
of industry and progress of civilisation in the
savage wilderness. Among the associations of this
place many stories exist, and many funny anecdotes
are told ; but as we do not profess to give a
history of the place, but merely a remark or two
on it, we shall notice but one. A gentleman, in
preparing for his rambles and amusements out of
LA 216
doors, set about making a fancy carriage in-doors,
and, the better to guard the work from injury and
the varnish from stains, he would have it done
in one of his private rooms ; but, in doing so, he
unluckily forgot to notice that the door, which
admitted the materials piecemeal, would not let out
the vehicle as a whole ! So there it remained—a
ludicrous miscarriage.
After a stay of four days we left Carlton ; and,
if we except the kindness of our good old friend
Chief Factor Stuart, we saw nothing else about
the place, either to awaken admiration or lessen the
pleasure we felt on leaving it to resume our voyage. Some distance from Carlton, as we descended
the river, the high lands and wide-spreading plains
gave place gradually to a country less and less
pleasing to the eye ; although the stream itself
increases in magnitude, and is smooth and free
from rapids. This unfavourable change may be
considered the commencement of what is called the
Mis-Keegoe or swampy country—a land of lakes,
morasses, and quagmires. As we descended, we
fell in with a small band of Crées ; and being the
first camp of Indians I had seen in this quarter,
I naturally drew a comparison between them
and those I had been accustomed to west of the
mountains. To me the contrast appeared very
striking : the former, humble and abject, approached
us with a bland smile, and cringing familiarity; CREES.
whereas the rude Columbians never accost the
whites but with an air of imperious contempt, which
is natural to them.
The Crées have none of that stern and forbidding look peculiar to some tribes west of the
mountains : the open and pleasing smile of familiarity is in their countenances. They are broader
built, larger about the shoulders, have broader faces
and larger feet than the lank Columbians ; but
they are not so straight, have an awkward gait, and
stoop forward when they walk. The only article
these poor creatures offered us for sale was a few
small bags of feathers—an article I had never seen
for sale among Indians before. From what we
could learn, this part of the country is almost
ruined in the more profitable article of furs, and
most animals of the chase are getting further off
every day ; which circumstance has thrown the
natives almost entirely on the produce of the waters
for* their living. The further we advanced the
more gloomy, wet, and swampy the country became, until we reached the next halting-place, called
Cumberland House. General course, north-east; distance from Carlton, two hundred and sixty miles.
Fort Cumberland is situated at the south end of
Sturgeon Lake, where fish of that name is taken
in great abundance ; they are very fine and well-
flavoured, although small in comparison to those
caught on the Columbia ; the largest generally
taken here not exceeding seventy pounds.    This 218
establishment is large and tolerably well buHjb, with
a handsome dwelling-house, having glass windows,
and what is still more uncommon in these parts, a
gallery in front—the only instance of the kind I
have yet seen in the country. Here James Leitlç.
Esq., one of the oldest partners of the North-West,
and senior chief factor in the Hudson's Bay service,
presided as chief manager of the department. The
trade of the place is, however, fast dwindling away
to nothing ; but in proportion as furs and animals
of the chase are decreasing, agriculture seems to
be increasing, and perhaps eventually the latter
may prove to the natives more beneficial than the
In addition to the cultivated fields, we have to
notice here the cheering prospect of domestic comfort. The introduction of domestic cattle from the
colony of Red River gives a new feature of civilisation to the place. Here are two fine milch cows
and a bull, and more are expeeted. In addition to
these, other proofs of industry and comfort are
manifest. A neat kitchen-garden, which furnishes
an ample supply of vegetables, adorns the place*
in the centre of which stands a sun-dial neatly cut
and figured ; the latitude of the place, 53° 57' N,
being marked on itL
Cumberland is, however, a gloomy place. Here
we found the advanced party of Franklin's
northern expedition waiting for orders. After a
week's delay, we embarked to pursue our voyage. FRANKLIN   AND   RICHARDSON.
The river, as we descended, loses much of its majestic appearance, owing to the bends it takes in its
course ; which led us round almost to every point
of the compass, until we made Lake Bourbon, commonly called Cedar Lake, from the timber found
along its shores. Here the first adventurers from
Canada built an establishment called Fort Bourbon,
which gives the name to the lake ; but no traces
of a fort now exist : it also denotes the extent of
the discoveries made by the French, on the line
from Montreal, prior to the taking of Quebec by
the English in 1759.
This lake, although not very large, is subject to
a heavy swell, owing probably to the water being
shallow. The west side is rocky and high, with
wood all round it. All the lakes in this quarter
produce abundance of white fish ; but they are not
alL-of equally good quality. In. some the fish are
much larger, firmer, and of superior quality ; and
this is said to be one of them.
Just as we got out of Lake Bourbon, we met
Captain Franklin and Dr. Richardson on their
overland Arctic expedition, making all the haste
possible to join their friends at Cumberland. We
breakfasted with them ; and after passing about an
hour together, bade each other good-bye, and
parted ; they starting for the west, and we for the
east. This lake led us into Cross Lake, from thence
we soon reached the Grand Rapid, where a portage
had to be made, at the foot of which the great WINIPEG ARRIVE  AT  NORWAY  HOUSE.
Saskatchewan loses itself in the wide-spreading
Winipeg. The whole route, from Cumberland to
this place, some twenty-five or thirty leagues, is
low boggy ground, and goes under the general
appellation of the Swampy Country.
The Grand Rapid is the only bad step in the
Saskatchewan, from Edmonton to Lake Winipeg.
Here we fell in with another small party of the
Crée nation, called Mis-Keegoes or Swampies, employed in killing sturgeon, which appeared to be
of the same size and quality as those of Sturgeon
Lake. These Indians were civil and kind, but
badly clothed, and appeared very poor ; having
something to eat, there was a smile of contentment
on every countenance. The females were partly
clad in European articles ; but the garments of
the men were of the produce of the chase.
From the Grand Rapid we coasted along the
west side of the barren and rocky shore of Lake
Winipeg. In this range there is a jutling point,
or peninsula, which runs out boldly for some considerable distance into the lake, and is called Mossy
Point ; the voyageur often doubles this point with
apprehension, as there is no way of getting on
shore to save either boats or cargoes in case of a
storm, and it is at all times exposed to the fury of
the waves. Mossy Point is therefore called the
Cape Horn of Lake Winipeg. After clearing the
point, we coasted along until we reached our next
halting-place, at the north end of the lake, called MIGRATORY   HABITS   OF   THE  TRIBES.
Norway House.      General  course,  east ;   distance
from Cumberland, two hundred miles.
From the source of the Saskatchewan to this
place, a distance of some nine hundred miles in
length, the natives in former days were very numerous ; as much so, as they are now the reverse.
The north side of the river is occupied principally
by the Crées, who, of all the Indians, were once the
most numerous and powerful ; being superior in
individual intelligence, and distinguished alike for
sagacity and mildness of disposition. Of this vast
and powerful tribe, the scanty remains are in a condition as abject and wretched as their forefathers were
independent and happy. Their wilderness scenery
is still the same ; their mountains, lakes, and rivers
present the same aspect as they did centuries ago ;
and their prairies and forests are green as ever, while
the wretched inhabitants are fast dying away.
The country on the south side of the river, all
the way to the Missouri, is inhabited by a number
of mixed and roving tribes, bold in war, and wild
as their own native lands; and, with the exception
of the Blackfeet, Piegans, and Assiniboines, who still
retain their national character, they are little
better known than by name. With regard to the
actual number of any one of these tribes, or of the
whole of them taken together, it is impossible to
form any correct estimate ; nor even can the
boundaries of territory which each tribe claims as
its own, be strictly defined» AGRICULTURE,   AND   ITS   EFFECTS.
When I was on the Missouri, I was told that the
Blackfeet and Piegans who frequent that quarter,
mustered together fifteen hundred lodges ; and while
passing through the Saskatchewan, I have been also
told that those of the same tribes who visit and
trade there, mustered one "thousand lodges ; but those
of the Missouri and Saskatchewan mix together.
Now allowing six to each lodge or tent, the aggregate number would be fifteen thousand five hundred
We have noticed on our route the commencement
of agriculture and the introduction of domestic cattle
at Cumberland House. From Edmonton down to
Carlton, and far below, a range of five hundred
miles, the country and climate invite the husbandman
and the plough, and if the system now introduced
be followed up with energy and success, the natives
will doubtless profit by it ; so that a remnant of
that almost extinct, and degraded race, may yet be
saved ; for the Crées are a mild, docile,, and half-
civilised people. But the introduction of agriculture, however beneficial to the natives, must
eventually prove ruinous to the interests of the
Company, as by it the Indians will be taught
habits of industry and attachment to a locality,
and learn from example and experience the useful
lesson that the cultivation of the soil is a more
certain resource than the chase. And when once
they are drawn by motives of interest and gratification to farming,   they will   be  useless  to the MR.   LEECH  OF  CUMBERLAND.
Company in a commercial point of view ; for the
Indians are the sinews of their trade. What ia
noble and praiseworthy instance of self-denial we
have in the conduct of men sacrificing their own
interests to benefit others ! We, therefore, wish
the principle thus begun may be carried out and
become general, not only on the Saskatchewan, but
everywhere else throughout their territories. There
is but one inference to be drawn, namely, that it
has been introduced chiefly to benefit the natives ;
and the laudable undertaking will no doubt, in the
end, be crowned with a successfiil result.
As Mr. Leith of Cumberland, one -of the warmest
hearted and most philanthropic gentlemen in this or
'any other country, emphatically observed to me, while
talking about the poverty of the Indians and the
introduction of agriculture among them, "It is a
plan introduced at the eleventh hour ; but better late
than never."    I saw at onee he was a man of feeling, and a friend to the Indian ;   and I showed
him a few hasty opinions that I had thrown together on the subject.     We then compared notes, and
met each other's objections by a comparison between
€he natives west and east of the Rocky Mountains.
After some further conversation, Mr. Leith opened
his mind to me freely,    indeed, I could see that if
he did not alleviate the condition of the natives,
it  was  not   the  will   but   the power   that   was
wanting.    He was a man well advanced in life, of
strict  integrity, and of a  religious turn of mind. 224
" The fur trade in these parts," remarked he, " is
dwindling away to nothing : the returns even now
scarcely cover the expenses ; and shall we, after
ruining the country and the natives to enrich ourselves, leave no other memento behind us but desolation and death ? Half a century ago, this country
was rich in furs and animals of the chase, the
natives were numerous, independent, and happy ;
but now, alas! natives, and riches, and happiness
have almost disappeared from the face of this
and other parts of the country." " And where,"
continued he, "are all those among ourselves, who
basked in the sunshine of a lucrative trade during
that short period ? Gone, like the natives themselves, to the land of forgetfulness ; and with
scarcely a solitary instance of one who did not
outlive his means ; so that nothing now remains
of all their labour under the sun." I inferred
.at once, from what he said, although he expressed
nothing more than I have stated, that he intended
to do something for the destitute natives.
The year after this, Mr. Leith left the country
for the last time and went home ; on his way out, I
happened to meet him at Norway House, and we
journeyed together to York Factory. Some years
afterwards we learned that he had left by his will*
10,000£. sterling for the religious instruction of the
* See Appendix. S Vil
J-*  Jm.   tj
* Note.—After a lapse of ten years, and after protracted litigation,
the trustees of Mr. Leith's will were enabled, in the year 1848, to
set apart £10,000 towards the endowment of a bishopric in Prince
Rupert's Land.
We have annexed an extract from the will for the information of
our readers ; leaving with them a decision on the many conflicting
opinions respecting the intentions of the testator. His benevolence
and desire to Christianise the Indians are placed beyond doubt.
Extract from the Will of James Leith, Esq., of
York Factory, Hudson's Bay (late of Torquay).
| I give, devise, and bequeath the remaining moiety or half-part
of my lands, heritages, personal estate, and effects not hereinbefore
disposed of by this my Will, unto my brother, the said William
Hay Leith, and his heirs, the Lord Bishop of London for the time
being, the Reverend the Dean of Westminster for the time being,
and the Governor and Deputy-Governor, for the time being, of the
Hudson's Bay Company, upon the trusts, and for the ends, intents,
and purposes following : that is to say, upon trust that the said
William Hay Leith and his heirs, the Lord Bishop of London for
the time being, the Dean of Westminster for the time being, and
the Governor and Deputy-Governor, for the time being, of the
Hudson's Bay Company, as aforesaid, do and shall with all convenient speed convert.the whole thereof into money, and lay out and
invest the same in their names in the public stocks or funds of
Great Britain, at interest, and do and shall, from time to time,
expend, lay out, and dispose of the interest, dividends, and annual
proceeds arising therefrom, in such manner as to them, or the majority of them, shall seem most desirable and advantageous for the
purpose of establishing, propagating, and extending the Christian
Protestant religion in and amongst the native aboriginal Indians in
that part of America formerly called Rupert's Land, but now more
generally known by the name of the Hudson's Bay Territory.   I
VOL. II. Q 226
beg here to remark, thai? I do not consider the- neighbourhood of a
colony a fit place for the commencement of such a work;; bui I
wish it to be understood as an observation only, as I must, leave it,
to the above-mentioned Trustees to act according to their own
opinions, guided by existing circumstances ; and I trust they will
do so as men of honour and understanding,"
WH1 dated 20th February, 1835.
Testator died 19th Jun% 183&
Will proved by the Executors in the Prerogative Court
Canterbury, 11th August, 1838.   Property valued under £9000.
Nelson Riveit—Route to York Factory—Norway House—Climate
—Great rendezvous — Governor Simpson — Annual councils-—
The fur trade—Remarks on the$| present system—The Governor's unlimited power—General remarks^—My own final arrangements—Retiring servants—Leave Norway House—Qualities of
our boat's crew—Physical deformities—A canoe hero—Account
of his life—The voyageur's paradise—More words than work*-—[
Gloomy prospects— Dreary shore—Useless hands—Spider Islands
—Poplar Islands—The storm—Narrow'escape—Stormy Island—
Squalls—Second storm—Gale on the'lake—Boat aground—Danger—Contusion—Boat high and dry—The stormy night—Beren's
River—The lop-stick—Grand view of the lake—Cat-Fish Creek-
Dog's Head—Anticipations—Plans and projects—Story of a
night's adventures — Devout voyageurs—Saints invoked—The
solemn vow—The mysterious lights—The two channels—Grindstone Point—Drunken River—Arrive at the mouth of Red River
—Lake Winipeg and its feeders—Navigation—Start for the
Metropolis^—The Public Road—Image Plains—Currency—Frog
Plains—Civilization and Barbarism—Geographical Position—
Speculations—Fort Garry, the Metropolis—A day in Red River.
We have noticed our arrival at Norway House,
situated at the northern extremity of Winipeg,
where issues the Nelson River, a stream of considerable magnitude, running, in a north-easterly
direction, through a rugged rocky country, and fall-
Q 2 228
ing into the sea at Port Nelson, in Hudson's Bay.
Although a number of large and small streams fall
into Lake Winipeg, yet the Nelson River is the
only outlet from it, and is one of the routes to
York Factory, but not the one generally followed
by the voyageurs. The other, and the common
route, is by descending this river to the distance of
about twenty miles, and then ascending a small
stream, which falls into it, as far as the height of
land named the "Painted Stone," from certain
figures carved and painted on it by the Indians,
and where they formerly left some offerings to propitiate the deity of the place. On the east side of
this height of land there is a chain of small lakes,
out of which Hay's River takes its source, and, after
passing through a barren uneven country intersected by some lakes and rivers, discharges itself
into the sea at York Factory, in latitude 57° 2'
north, and longitude 92° 36' west.
In the neighbourhood of Norway IJouse there
is a small river, which, according to report, was
entered, during the time of the French, by a trader
of the name of Perrault, about the year 1740, and
named by him Pointe du Nord. It was afterwards
called Rivière aux Brochet, or Pike River, from the
abundance of these fish found in its waters ; from
which circumstance, also, the first establishment
here was named Fort Brochet, and bore that name
until a few years ago, when it was changed from w
Fort Brochet to Norwegian Point. A number of
Norwegians were hired by the late Earl of Selkirk,
and were sent to that point for the purpose of
clearing the woods and making a winter road to
York Factory, but the project was found to be impracticable, and was therefore abandoned; hence
the place was called Norwegian Point, and from
Norwegian Point the factory is called Norway
During the year the place was by accident burnt
to the ground, and at the time of my writing it
lay in ashes. Preparations were in progress for
rebuilding it on a more extensive scale, a little
further down the river, on a rocky point, near to
a place called the Play Green Lake. I should not
be surprised if another name is given to the new
establishment, for the people of this country are
whimsical in giving new names to old places, and
think little of ^changing them. Vegetation here
dares hardly raise its head ; the gleams of summer—
if, in these forlorn regions, there be any summer—
are rapidly chased away by the blasts of autumn,
which again as rapidly flee before the storms of
winter. The soil seldom produces anything in perfection.
Norway House is a place of considerable business
and bustle during the summer season. It is the
great inland rendezvous of the fur trade in this
«quarter.    Here the people and returns of all the 230
trading posts belonging to the Company, from Lake
Superior on the south, the Rocky Mountains on the
west, and the Frozen Ocean on the north, are collected together once a year, on their way to York
Factory. Norway House would, therefore, he a fit
place for a missionary station. Although people
from all quarters muster here, yet none of those
scenes of carousing and fighting, for which Fort
William and other places were so celebrated, disgrace the meeting of friends. Peace, sobriety, and
good order have put an end to those demoralising
scenes which formerly disgraced human nature in
this country. There are likewise but few of Éhe
French Canadians now in the service : those favourite
children of the north-west school.
This brings us to the fur trade, the all-absorbing
pursuit in the country over which the Company
holds sway. These territories may be divided into
four great sections,—the northern and southern
departments of Rupert's Land, the ColumTbia District,
and the King's Posts, as they are called ; divisions
each of them ample enough in extent for the territory of a crowned head. Once a year the Governor-
in-chief, as the superintending officer is styled,
generally makes his tour through the greater part
of these wild dominions, holding his annual council
at the head quarters of each department, and assembling round him, on each occasion, all the commissioned functionaries, the factors and traders within GOVERNOR   SIMPSON.
i   i
convenient reach. There the business of the departments is investigated and the requisite appointments are made ; in short, it is there that the
various arrangements are settled for conducting
affairs at the different posts within their jurisdiction.
Few men in this country ever possessed such
authority as does Governor Simpson, the Company's
present representative ; and none, we believe, ever
gave more general satisfaction. Courteous ia his
manners, and active in his habits ; gifted in a high
degree with the power of self-command, and above
all with a keen discernment of character ; he appears
eminently fitted by the union of these qualities for
the commanding station which he so ably fills.
The extent of country over which Governor
Simpson presides, stretches from the Atlantic to the
Pacific i there is no place in all the vast wilderness
that he has not visited ; every spot in it is known
4o him ; there is scarcely a native but at some time
or other has experienced his smile and his liberality.
His fostering care has been over all.
We have paid some attention to the working of
the present system in all its parts, and it does not
appear to us, under all circumstances, that a change
in any way could be made that would hold out a
prospect of improving the trade or bettering the
condition of the natives ; everything seems to be
done that can be done ; therefore, any change from
the present mode of governing the country might
do more harm than good : even the monopoly itself
if removed, might be ruinous to the aboriginal inhabitants. It has been said that all monopolies are
illegal restraints on freedom ; to this general rule,
however, there are exceptions. The monopoly is the
best guarantee the natives of Rupert's Land have
that the country will not be the prey of lawless
strife ; unless it were placed under the fostering care
of a good and vigilant government.
It not unfrequently happens that the Council
meets at other places, as well as at head quarters ;
indeed, wherever it is convenient for the Governor
to attend. The Council of the northern department was held at Norway House this year, instead
of at York Factory. During the sittings, which
only occupy a few days, no other business is
attended to ; but the Council no sooner breaks up,
than matters of minor importance are looked into.
Each factor, trader, and post-master then sets about
preparing and forwarding the business of his own
especial charge.
When the public business was over, the Governor sent for me, and I repaired to his room. He
received me courteously, according to his custom.
After some conversation, he adverted to the subject
of my remaining in the country, and continuing
my former pursuits. " If you remain in the service," said he, " you shall have the entire manage- FINAL  ARRANGEMENTS.
ment of the Company's affairs in the Snake country
guaranteed to you for a certain number of years,
with a liberal salary." I tendered my thanks for
his handsome offer, but declined accepting it, urging
as a reason that I had already twice tried the fur
trade, and had twice been disappointed in my
expectations ; and, therefore, if experience was
worth anything, I ought not any longer to reject
its warnings ; but, above all, I urged as my
strongest motive for leaving the service, the neces-
O CD 3
sity of retiring to a place where I could have the
means of giving my children a Christian education,
the best portion I could leave them.
After a short pause, the Governor observed,
I Well, although you are determined on leaving the
service, I am still disposed to be your friend : what
can I do for you ?" I answered, "Your Excellency
has always been a friend to me, and if you are still
disposed to add another favour to those I have-
already received, grant me a spot of land in Red
River, that I can call my own, and I shall be very
thankful." I Your request shall be granted," said
he, " and the Company, in consideration of your
exertions and success in the Snake country, are
disposed to add something to it." On this occasion,
I had every reason to be satisfied. He sent for
the chief accountant, and ordered him to draw up
a deed for a hundred acres of land, free of all
expense, which he signed, handed to me, and we
parted. 234
At Norway House we had to remain for more
than a week, before the bustle of public business
was over; and another week almost passed before
we could get a boat's crew mustered, out of the
invalid class ejected from the service. All the
infirm and superannuated servant-s of the Company
are taken from the different posts and left at
Norway House, to be conveyed to their respective
countries ; or they are allowed to take up their abode
in Red River. It happened this year that several
of the invalids were destined for Red River, and
very anxious to get on. Hearing that I was on
my way thither, rather than wait the Company's
V *3 * ± V
regular conveyance they applied for a passage with
me, and promised to work their way. I looked at
them for some time, and certainly as far as appearances went they seemed to be worthless.   "What can
you do ?" asked I of one of them. "Sir, I can do
anything : I can steer, row, and sail ; I have been
brought up to the voyage." " And y«u," said I
to another, u what can you do ? " ~u I have been a
steersman for five years/' replied he. " And you,"
pointing to a third, " what have you been Î,J % We
are all boatmen," was his reply. Indeed, they
boasted so much of what they had done and could
do, that I overlooked their age, and took six of
them at their word. So we prepared to leave
Norway House. In our company was a Mr. Bird
and his family, whidh augmented our number to
twenty-seven  persons ; all  of whom,  as   well as SUPERANNUATED   NORTH-WESTERS.
myself, were bound for the same destination, and
had taken a last farewell of the service. Embarking, therefore, on Lake Winipeg, we turned our
faces towards Red River, hoisted sail, and proceeded  on our  voyage.
And as it may be interesting to the reader to
know something of the character of these superannuated sons of the wilderness, we shall sketch
them. In the first place, then, three of them were
able to help themselves, if not others ; but as for
the other three, their day was gone by : all of
them were poor, more or less mutilated, infirm,
and clogged with large families. But they were,
nevertheless, very talkative, and independent in
their way—North-Westers to the backbone; they
had las g yarns to tell of their past lives, as all
voyageurs have, and were full of life and spirits.
Of this motley crew, we shall notice some striking
peculiarities in the more aged and experienced of
them : one was blind of an eye, and lame from
having been frost-bitten ; another was a cripple
from the same cause ; and a third had lost his
thumb by accident. The last of this trio, the
patriarchal head, had reached the wrong side of
seventy years ; and his wife, from infirmity, walked
mi crutches; but the froward old man, still active
for his age, was as waggish and tzhoughtless as a
youth of fifteen.
One day, while in a jocular mood, the old man
began to talk over his past life: it was full of
adventure, and may appear amusing to others, as 236
it did to us.   I shall give it, as nearly as I can, in his
own words.
|| I have now," said he, " been forty-two years
in this country. For twenty-four I was a light
canoe-man ; I required but little sleep, but sometimes got less than I required. No portage was
too long for me ; all portages were alike. My
end of the canoe never touched the ground till I
saw the end of it. Fifty songs a day were nothing
to me. I could carry, paddle, walk, and sing with
any man I ever saw. During that period, I saved
the lives of ten Bourgeois, and was always the
favourite, because when others stopped to carry at
a bad step, and lost time, I pushed on—over rapids,
over cascades, over chûtes ; all were the same to me.
No water, no weather, ever stopped the paddle or the
song. I have had twelve wives in the country ;
and was once possessed of fifty horses, and six running dogs, trimmed in the first style. I was then
like a Bourgeois, rich and happy : no Bourgeois had
better-dressed wives than I ; no Indian chief finer
horses ; no white man better-harnessed or swifter
dogs. I beat all Indians at the race, and no white
man ever passed me in the chase. I wanted
for nothing ; and I spent all my earnings in the
enjoyment of pleasure. Five hundred pounds, twice
told, have passed through my hands ; although now
I have not a spare shirt to my back, nor a penny to
buy one. Yet, weje I young again, I should glory
in commencing the same career again. I would
igly spend  another half-century in  the same LIFE  OF  AN  OLD  VOYAGEUR.
fields of enjoyment. There is no hfe so happy as a
voyageur's life ; none so independent ; no place
where a man enjoys so much variety and freedom
as in the Indian country. Huzza ! huzza ! pour le
pays sauyage ! ' After this cri de joie, he sat down
in the boat, and we could not help admiring the wild
enthusiasm of the old Frenchman. He had boasted
and excited himself, till he was out of breath, and
then sighed with regret that he could no longer
enjoy the scenes of his past life.
The life of this hero may serve as an index to
that of the others : their history was of a similar
tenour. Their long-winded stories were of little
use in propelling our boat through Lake Winipeg.
Their habits of indolence and thoughtlessness, which
but little agreed with the character they had given
of themselves, could not be overcome. Nothing
could stimulate them to perseverance. They could
smoke, sing, and rehearse the most fabulous adventures of their own lives ; but they could not guide
the helm, ply the oar, or trim the sail : so that we
had to creep along the barren and rocky shores of
Winipeg. We have given our readers a brief sketch
of the life and habits of an old voyageur, and
a true picture of our crew.
It would, however, be unfair to judge all the
voyageurs by the example of poverty and depravity
before us. Instances are not wanting of the old
and retiring voyageurs leaving the  country hale 238
and hearty, with their pockets lined with the fruits
of industry, and their character untainted with vice.
All this time our bark was speeding her way? to
the south. We had started with a sail wind ; but
it soon died away, and we had to ply the; oar under
a hot sun, and got on but slowly. Our course lay
along the eastern shore, whose character is low and
rocky. Not a harbour or creek invited the tiny
craft to a friendly shelter until we reached the
Spider Islands, a small rocky group lying out in the
lake, ten miles from our starting point, where we
found a safe and convenient harbour. These small
islands, although very little higher than the blue
lake that surrounds them, shelter the voyageur from
everty wind.
From Spider Islands we steered our course across
a broad traverse for Poplar Islands, a distance of
ten miles mpre. Here the channel, narrow and
intricate, passes between a cluster of rocks and the
main land. This place we reached under easy
sail, a little before sunset ; but instead df encamping there, as we ought to have done, we undertook
at that late hour to cross another still broader bay,
stretching to a place called Colony Point. We had
soon reason to regret our imprudence ; for we had
scarcely gone half a mile, when the sky grew red,
and the wind, veering from north to west, blew a
gale, and forced us> into the bay. Here nothing
was to be seen before us but a chain of rocks, over THE   STORM.
which the breakers rushed with a violence that
threatened instant destruction. Our boat speeding
through the water, and the sun setting at the time,
added to our terror.
At this moment I perceived on our right something like an island; but we were then passing it.
Pointing to the object, I called to the man at the
helm to make for the island. " Impossible," said
he ; " the boat will swamp." " Swamp or sink,"
said I, " there is no other hope, for us." Calling a
man to the sheet, which I was then holding, I
sprang back to the helm, and brought up the boat
almost broadside to the wind, in order to gain the
island ; but, in doing so, we had a very narrow
escape : two or three heavy waves breaking over
us, almost sent us to the bottom. I still kept her
head for the island, as a last resource ; but the crew
seconded my endeavours very feebly : they lost all
presence of mind, and, in their confusion, let go the
sail ! What followed was a struggle between life
and death. Those men who had but a short time
before boasted so much of their skill and prowess
among lakes, now abandoned their posts and began
to count their beads and cross themselves : only one
man stood at his duty ; yet Providence favoured
us, and we reached the island in safety. It proved
so small, that the waves from each side met in the
lee with such violence, as to threaten us with instant
destruction. We got on the roeks with the utmost
difficulty ;   and fortunate it was, for had we run
■mf*mMmS*i,- 240
into the bay, no earthly power could have saved
I had now a specimen of the skill of my crew.
They were all boatmen a few days before ; but
when I reminded them of their boasting, they justified themselves by saying, " We have had. more experience in canoes than boats ;" adding, however,
I we never had a narrower escape." So boisterous
was the weather, that we were kept prisoners on
the island for two days, before we could venture on
the water again. I need scarcely say that there
was an end to all boasting. Ajs soon as we had
left the island, and resumed our voyage, I reminded
my men of their late conduct, to prepare them for
another time ; but they did not half like it. The
youngsters—even the women—teased them. But
the poor fellows were completely humbled, and tried
to avoid the subject. It put an end to all self-
conceit, for after that we had less talk and more
After leaving our rocky retreat, the dtoast continued in appearance much the same as before, here
and there marked with jutting points and bays,
with a low beach composed of sand and gravel.
The bays, although not large, form in their circuit
many miles in length. In order, therefore, to save
time and diminish labour, we steered in a direct
line from point to point. Notwithstanding the
narrow escapes we had met with by venturing
too far out, my men were very anxious to avoid as
much as possible the fatigue of the oar ; and the
canoe hero exclaimed, " There is as much difference
between the nimble paddle and the drawling oar as
between youth and old age." Most voyageurs in
this country are as averse to boats as they are
partial to canoes, and as awkward in the former
as they are adroit in the latter.
The third day after leaving Stormy Island, as we
were gliding across a bay from Beren's River to
Pigeon Point, with a light breath of wind, scarcely
sufficient to indicate the quarter from whence it
came, the sky clear and weather fine, we were
warned of danger by the appearance of a dark
cloud and heavy gale coming from the west. It
approached us with a noise like thunder, and with
the quickness of lightning. The placid surface of
the lake around us was, in an instant, turned into
a sheet of fire, leaving us scarcely a moment to
prepare for it. The gale struck the boat, and
wheeled her round. Such was its violence, that
the men were thrown down from their seats, and
the boat driven to the bottom of the bay, where it
lay among the rocks and stones, high on the beach,
without our receiving any other injury than that of
a fright ; for on approaching the shore, the boat
stuck fast on a sand-bar, till one or two heavy
waves passed over her, when with the next she fortunately floated, and carried us high up on the beach,
where we effected a landing. The moment the
boat struck on the bank, the confusion was equal
VOL. Ti. R
• %
to the danger, wives grasping their husbands,
husbands their children ; but no one thought of the
boat, the only thing that could save us.
When the wind had abated and the water subsided to its natural level, we found ourselves more
than thirty yards from the water's edge, high and
dry. Here we had to pass the night, fireless, sleepless, and shelterless, under a torrent of rain ; and
the floating of the boat next day took us six hours.
This affair taught us to avoid all traverses ; and
the old fellows, thankful for their deliverance, took
to their oars in good earnest, fully determined to
keep along shore. Near the mouth of Beren's
River, opposite to this place, the Company have a
trading-post. In passing it, however, we saw no
Indians. Here are also a few small islands, which
give to this part of the lake a pleasing effect : on
one of them a fine tall pine, trimmed into a maypole, with its broom head, was conspicuous at a
distance. One of my men, pointing to it,*observed,
" That's a lop-stick I trimmed eighteen years ago""
Pigeon Point, and all the vicinity, is weU clothed
with pine timber ; but in other respects the rocky
aspect continues, and the land is very little higher
than the water. Yet from this position we had a
good view of the lake, where it is at its greatest
breadth, I should say about thirty-five miles, and it
spreads out towards the west like an ocean. But
the water is very shallow, the bottom rocky, and
the beach full of stones.    When the wind blows CAT-FISH   CREEK.
from the west, sailing is difficult, so that we got on
exceedingly slow, taking three days from Pigeon
Point to Cat fish Creek; which, under favourable
circumstances, we might have done in as many hours.
Cat-fish Creek is a safe little harbour ; I should say
one of the best on the lake. Here we encamped
for the night, being our twelfth day on the lake. A
light breeze springing up, we sailed before daylight,
and were soon at Rabbit Point ; and from thence
crossed a deep bay to a place called the Dog's
Head. The lake becomes narrow in this part ; the
east side still more rocky and barren, with stunted
pines ; and the west side, for the first time, sufficiently near to show a rugged and broken surface, with a bold and rocky shore.
All these huge rocks and solitary islands afford
dry and safe halting-places^ to numerous aquatic
At the Dog's Head we considered ourselves out
of all danger, the land on either side being within
our reach ; so we encamped in a snug little harbour, just large enough for our boat, and no more.
We had no sooner put up for the night, than the
thought of soon reaching their destination so cheered
and animated the crew, that they passed the evening cracking their jokes and forming new plans
and projects for enjoying life in Red River. One
observed, " I wiU have my house built with double
rooms;" another, "I will have my rooms ceiled
and painted."    It was really amusing to hear men
R   A 244
without a shilling in the world enjoying life in their
airy dreams, where nothing was real. One of the
party related a night's adventures in this place, a few
years before, in going with a boat from Fort Alexander to Jack River.    His account was as follows :—
"We encamped at dusk one evening in this
place ; but the little harbour not proving safe,
owing to the direction of the wind, we took supper,
and then embarked again to look out for a place of
greater safety. We had scarcely got out on the
lake, and the sail up, before the atmosphere became
overcast; the thunder was heavy, lightning flashes
were frequent, and the night was very dark. We
tried with all haste to get back to land again ; but
before we could get the sail down or the boat
turned, the wind shifted and blew a gale from the
land, accompanied with a deluge of rain. In this
moment of peril we took to our oars, in the hope of
being able to regain the land ; but all our endeavours
proved fruitless : the state of the weather prevented
us from using our oars to advantage ; some of us
were pulling backward as often as forward. At
length no alternative remained but to submit to the
mercy of the winds and waves ; and unfortunately
both were against us.
" From the appearance of the opposite shore before
dark, we considered that we could not have been
more than five or six miles from it ; but from its
bold and rocky aspect, to have approached it with
the wind that then blew would leave us little hope; a.night's adventures.
to hoist sail and keep to the right, to avoid the
rocks, was equally dangerous, for in that case,
nothing but the open lake was before us ; rocks
and islands were evervwhere around us.
" Circumstances, however, decided for us : the
boat, no longer able to resist, was every moment in
danger of being swamped ; so we resolved on hoisting sail : it was with great exertion that we got it
half-mast high, and then keeping the boat to the
left as much as possible, we preferred to run the
risk of the opposite shore to the open lake on the
right. Some baled out the water, while others
kept a sharp look-out, which amounted to nothing ;
for except the lightning flashed, no one could see
another in the boat, and we every moment fancied
we heard the rush of waves dashing on the rocks
ahead of us. Some said they saw the rocks, and
called to prepare for the danger : death stared us
in the face.
" In the midst of this confusion a strange phenomenon appeared : a meteor of fire, resembling a
lighted candle, settled on the left end of the yard-
arm. Supposing it to have been fire communicated
by the lightning, we secured our guns under the
covering ; this done, another light settled on the
right end of the yard, and immediately afterwards
another showed itself on the top of the mast. The
lights were rather pale, and of a reddish hue. All
the three  continued  bright  and  steady for more
y...? • •■'•-:.. •      >- '-MS ;        ^Ms^mtmsma*s^. 246
than half an hour, without shifting ; nor had the
rain, the thunder, or the lightning the least effect
on any of them. At length they dropped off and
disappeared : first that on the left, then the (me on
the right, and lastly, the one on the mast-head.
" This extraordinary appearance so terrified us
that we could scarcely utter a word ; when suddenly we were startled by the boat entering among
bushes, where it soon afterwards grounded. Grasping the bushes, we held fast till daylight brought
us relief. In our anxiety to keep among the
friendly bushes, we thought of nothing else hut
self-preservation ; and while thus engaged, the
agitation of the water and working of the boat
unshipped the rudder, which we lost, as well as
two oars; and some articles of clothing. The wind
still continued to blow hard, but the thunder and
rain moderated.
" In our adventures we had only reached the
opposite side of the narrows» not more than six
miles from whence we started ; a&houglî we had
been tossing on the water a great part of the night,
and expected we had been driven at least thirty
miles, and that we were in the middle of the lake :
we must have been turning round and round. And
that saved us ; for had we been driven on shore
fifty yards to the left of where we were, instead
of willows we must have come in contact with bold
naked rocks ; or, had we been some three hundred SUPERSTITIOUS  FEARS.
yards farther to the right, we must have missed the
opposite shore of the narrows altogether, and found
ourselves out in the open lake, where we might
have been driven fifty miles without meeting with
land. On either hand our case would have been
" When daylight disclosed to us our situation, we
had every reason to be thankful, for the stem of
the boat was within twenty yards of the rocks.
But the three lights frightened us the most. Some
said it was two of the Apostles, Peter and Paul,
guarding the Virgin Mary ; others, that the appearance was ominous, and presaged that three of
us would be drowned ; while some said that only
three out of the nine who were in the boat would
survive the storm. We then knelt down, took our
losaries, and ran over our Ave-Marias and Paternosters ; praying, some to one saint, some to
another : I prayed to the Virgin Mary. This done,
we made a solemn vow, that if we lived to see a
priest we would have a grand mass offered up as
a thanksgiving to the Virgin Mary for our miraculous deliverance."
Here I interrupted him, and asked which of the
saimts he thought saved them. "TheVirgin Mary,"
replied he ; " and I have always been anxious to
get to Red River to perform my vow and get a
grand mass said before I die : some of the others
have already paid the debt of nature without seeing
a priest, but I hope to be more fortunate."     And 248
this ended the story of his nocturnal adventures,.
which he said he never could forget as long as he
1 ved.
Vows of this kind are always religiously observed by old voyageurs. As to the three tapers, I
have more than once witnessed the same phenomenon when sailing in dark nights in stormy
weather, but never observed the lights settle on
either the mast or yard-arm, except during storms
of thunder and lightning; and although the flame
appeared fully as large and bright as that of a
burning candle, yet it seemed to me to throw no
light, for the atmosphere round it was always
observed to be dark, although the object appeared
to us bright. Is the light, then, communicated by
the lightning, or is it an ocular deception ? We
should like to see this strange appearance more
fully explained.
From the Dog's Head, hoisting up sail, we soon
reached a place called the Loon Straits, where §
cluster of islands destroys the appearance of the
lake, which is here divided into two leading channels ; one of them, running in a south-easterly
direction, points out the line of communication for
Montreal through the great chain of lakes ; the
other, to the south-west, directs the traveller to
Red River. From the Loon Straits, where there
is a good harbour, we crossed over to Grindstone Point, on the west shore; so named from
the  quality of  the  stones  found  there.     These GRINDSTONE   POINT.
stones, although inferior to those imported from
home, are, nevertheless, considered a good substitute, and are frequently used : their cheapness
recommends them. At this place the character of
the rocks seemed to change : instead of the granite
found on the east side, freestone, limestone, large
flag-stones hard as flint, and others friable, occupy
the west side. This place is very rocky, and much
exposed to a heavy swell. While we put on shore
to breakfast, one of the hands related that soon
after he came to the country, the boat in which he
had taken a passage started from the Loon Straits
in the night, and having a sail-wind, some of the
hands lay down on the boat to sleep ; on arriving at
the point, however, they put on shore for breakfast.
Here, one of the men not answering to his name
when called, the others, thinking he was still asleep
in the boat, went to throw some water on him to
waken him; it was then discovered that the unfortunate fellow had fallen overboard during the passage, and was drowned.
Leaving Grindstone Point, a place destitute of
harbour or shelter, we continued our course along
the west side of the lake, which is thickly wooded
with spruce and red pine. Passing the grassy
narrows, we reached the sand-bar, which runs
obliquely almost across this arm of the lake.
Drunken River follows next : this is a small, insignificant creek, deriving a notoriety from being
the spot where, some years ago, a carousing party 250
of voyageurs revelled until they were all drunk;
hence the name. At Willow Island we passed the
last harbour to be found on this end of the lake;
ten miles from which is the mouth of Red River,
at the southern extremity of the lake.
Lake Winipeg is estimated to be three hundred
miles long and about thirty-five broad in the widest
place. It lies nearly in the direction of north and
south; the water is rather dark and muddy, and
although generally shoal, and somewhat dangerous,
yet sufficiently deep and navigable for good-sized
schooners. The character of the shore is low,
barren and rocky, without anything peculiar in its
general appearance. During the winter it freezes,
and is seldom clear of ice before the 10 th of June.
The principal feeders are the Great Saskatchewan
and Winipeg ; but four or five other rivers of considerable size enter it: namely, Poplar River and
Beren's River on the east, Swan River and the Little
Saskatchewan on the west, and Red River on the
south. Squalls and cross currents of air are frequent,
and it requires expert hands, as well as a skilful
pilot, to navigate it in safety. Canoes are said to
be preferable to boats, as almost any place affords
them shelter ; but I should decidedly give the preference to boats. When the wind is favourable,
boats have been known to run from one end of the
lake to the other in two days and two nights ; but a
week is considered a fair passage, although it took us
eighteen  days.     It not unfrequently happens that w>
boats have been detained in it twenty days, according to the state of the wind and weather.
At sun-rise on the 2nd of July, 1825, we made
the entrance of the river, which has an insignificant
appearance. Its breadth is about eighty yards, current moderate, and the water rather of a dark reddish
hue, although it enters the lake over a bed of pure
sand. A little distance from the lake, we found two
or three families in their nomade condition, living in
two wretched huts made of reeds and bits of bark;
they were engaged in fishing, and we purchased two
fine sturgeon for a cotton handkerchief each. These
Indians, a mixture of the Saulteaux and Crée nation,
had picked up a few words of broken French and
English, by which they made themselves easily
understood. They were clever at traffic, intelligent
and obliging.
One of them, who passed for the chief's son,
harangued us at some length. " My father," said
he, " is above," pointing with his hand up the river :
j I am sorry he is not here to speak to you. We
are but few people, not more than sixty or seventy
persons. We are dispersed for the purpose of living.
Animals of the chase are very scarce, and the
buffalo have deserted our lands.—The white
people," said he again, pointing up the river, " are
very numerous. They have frightened the wild
animals and game from our lands, and have introduced animals and game of their own," alluding to
the tame cattle and fowls.    1 While our buffalo re- 252
the Indian's complaint.
mained, we never prevented the whites from killing
them when they were hungry ; but they threaten
to kill us if we touch their buffalo : we now
chiefly live on fish, and they are getting scarce. But
although the whites will not let us kill their buffalo
nor shoot their game, they are good to us: they
give us guns to hunt, they, give us thread to fish,
tobacco to smoke, and show us how to make roots
grow. Our country, once rich, can now no longer
feed and clothe us. Look," said he, pointing to the
women and children, " look at their garments.
They are ragged. Our country is poor; we are no
longer independent." The orator then sat down,
and taking one of his children up in his arms,
began to show us how tattered his clothes were.
We, however, saw nothing very striking in their
condition. They seemed to be fat, and fl well
clothed ^and thriving as any Indians we had seen.
But it is peculiar to some Indians, to plead poverty
and to beg. As we proceeded, we came to another
little band, where we had a parley with the chiefs
Pigwise ; a short, stout, middle-aged man, with an
expressive countenance. He introduced himself to
us by showing his medal, and a paper signed by
Lord Selkirk, stating him to be a steady friend of
the whites. Seigneur Pigwise is not a native of
the soil, nor considered an influential chief among
his tribe, and owes his chieftainship to the whites
alone.    Such chiefs are never popular.
So far the surrounding prospect is anything but TV
inviting, the country being low, flat, and marshy.
Having advanced about ten miles up the river, we
disembarked on the west bank, and breakfasted
on the sturgeon we had purchased from the natives.
Breakfast over, we washed, shaved, and brushed
ourselves up a little; having, as I thought, entered
the confines of a civilised country where (we might
soon expect to see white men.
We had not been long on shore, before a fellow
of mongrel cast emerged from a thicket, driving
before him some horses. I immediately accosted
him with the view of arranging matters for proceeding on horseback to Fort Garry, the metropolis
of the colony ; but as the stranger could not speak
French or English very intelligibly, we had some
difficulty in settling the matter. At last, however,
with the assistance of a little Indian jargon, we
managed to understand each other, and a bargain
was struck; he furnishing me with a good-look-
in cr beast, saddle and bridle, for the consideration
of five shillings. I then asked him to show me the
road, and on his pointing ahead in the direction of
the river and assuring me I could not miss it, I
ordered the men to proceed with the boat ; then
mounting my horse, I set off at full speed over a
rough surface, covered with willow, poplar, and
other obstructions, so that I could scarcely see
twenty yards ahead.
My first object was to find the road ; but I rode
for several miles, and could not find it.    As I was 254
wandering to and fro, I met a fellow dressed in red
leggings, with a bunch of feathers stuck in his
cap, and in his hand a coil of shaganappe, like a
Piegan horse-thief. It struck me he must be looking for horses, and I for the road, so we were well
met. I asked him aboet the public road, how
far I was from it, and in whidh direction I should
find it. He stopped, stared at me for some time,
but made no reply. I repeated the inquiry, asking
him again, both in English and French, where was
the public road, but with no better success : he
remained mute, and we stood looking at each other
for some time. Thinking he did not understand
the term " public road," I asked him for the road to
Fort Garry. " There," said he, pointing his hand
before me in the direction of the river, as the other
had done before. "Where?" said I, after looking
all round and seeing none. " There," said he
again, pointing in the same direction. " Where?'
resumed I, " I see no road ! ' | Oh no ! there is
no road, but we go that way," pointing again in
the same direction.     Meaning all the time south.
But I was more indebted to the sun than to my
guides for pointing out the direction, for had it
been a cloudy or dark day, I might have wandered long enough without knowing in what
direction I was going, as the word " south" was
never once used : a motion of the hand, with the
word " There," was all I had to guide me. Seeing
I could make no better of it, I set off, and made wtai*S&
my way through the bushes ; taking -care, however,
to go as near south as possible. Having advanced
about fifteen miles, I stumbled on a sort of road or
foot-path, near to a place called the Image Plains, from
there being some large stones at the place painted
by the natives with images of men and beasts.
At Image Plains the country on the west is
open, free from bushes, and, as far as the eye can
reach, a boundless prairie. On the east, however,
a narrow belt of tall trees running south, points
out the direction of the river, and served me as a
guide. And here, for the first time, a small herd of
tame cattle grazing in the plains attracted my
attention, as being the most satisfactory sign I had
vet seen of civilisation in Red River. I gazed for
some minutes on a scene so novel and interesting,
after having been roaming so many years among
animals wild as the countries they inhabited. Will
these plains, thought I, so long the haunts of the
wild buffalo, become the property of the white
man I Is not only the red man, but his means of
subsistence, to perish before the mareh of civilisation ? While thus musing, I was overtaken by one
of the settlers, a very intelligent man of middle
age, and as he was riding the same way, we entered
into conversation.
My companion and I proceeded, conversing about
the present condition and prospects of the colony.
He informed me that I was now on the only road
that could be called public ;  though it appeared to 256     SCOTCH  SETTLERS-
me nothing more than a track marked out by the
feet of animals, leading at random through the
plains, and scarcely visible ten yards ahead of us.
As we journeyed, my fellow-traveller pointed out
to me a small isolated dwelling among the trees
skirting the river, and looking as if it had no
business there. As we advanced, similar buildings,
rudely and hastily constructed, became more and
more frequent. On asking my comrade from what
country the settlers had emigrated, he replied,
I From the Highlands of Scotland." In answer to
some other queries, he told me that the settlers were
pretty comfortable in the land of their adoption ;
that they paid five shillings for an acre of land, and
were exempt from either rent or taxes; that the
circulating medium of the colony was printed promissory notes, the highest for twenty shillings, and
the lowest for one shilling, sterling, issued by the
Honourable Hudson's Bay Company, and answering
well enough for every purpose of tradq. The
government, he said, was solely in the hands of
the Company, and was as liberal and indulgent
as could be expected ; but the market was limited
and money scarce, the price of labour high and
labourers few.
| There are," said he, " three Roman Catholic
priests in the settlement, who have a chapel for
their hearers. There is likewise a missionary of
the English church, but no congregation ; and a
Scotch congregation, but no minister !    This clergy- 1
man, whom, in the absence of one of our own persuasion, we of necessity hear, is a very faithful
man in his way; but his ways are not our ways,
and because we cannot fall into his views, there is
anything but cordiality between us : however, as we
have, so far, no choice in the matter, we are content
to give him our left hand of fellowship, reserving
our right for our own church, whenever, in the course
of events, we shall see her walls arise in our land."
My next question he answered by stating, " that
there were no towns, nor villages, nor merchants in
the colony." I then asked him if there were any
magistrates or any gaol ; and he replied in the
negative. " Then," said I, " you must consider
honesty a virtue." He answered me by saying,
" There is hardly a lock and key, bolt or bar, on
any dwelling-house, barn, or store amongst us, and
our windows are parchment without any shutters."
" That," said I, " speaks well for the honesty of the
inhabitants." In answer to some other questions,
he informed me that there were no mills in the
colony, nor hardly any attempt at machinery of
any sort. With regard to provisions, beef—the
principal article of food, there being no sheep in the
colony—was two shillings and fourpence per stone,
flour twenty shillings per hundredweight, and butter
ninepence per pound; while English goods were
charged twenty-five per cent, on prime cost.
We had now reached a place called the Frog
Plains, and I asked my companion why the place
vol. n. s FROG  PLAINS.
was so named. Pointing to a large swamp in the
immediate vicinity, he said, " Because the frogs hold
a concert there : formerly the French called it
La Grenouillère, and from that the English gave
it the name it now bears." And here, for the first
time, we got a glimpse of the river, sluggishly
flowing over its clayey channel, which the work of
centuries had gradually scooped out from the level
prairie. Here also we saw another small herd of
domestic cattle, and some small patches of arable land
lying along the banks of the river : for the plough
had not yet got beyond the footpath on which we
travelled. These patches reminded me of the state
of agriculture among the half-civilised natives of
the Sandwich Islands, where I have seen a field of
moderate size divided into a huSudred and twenty
plots, belonging to as many proprietors, each cultivating a piece not half the size of that tilled by an
Irish labourer for keeping a cow. But these practical indications of labour and industry, as etements
of civilisation and moral good, were greatly marred
by the continual passing and repassing of armed
savages, chanting their war-songs, dangling scalps^
and smiling with savage contempt on the slow
drudgery of the white man. So that, however
flattering were our hopes of Red River, as the source
of civilisation and Christianity among the heathen,
the results had hardly yet developed themselves.
But we must now glance at the geographical
position of the eountry.    Red River, lying in the
direction of ncorth and southy has its source at a
place called Otter-Tail Lake, near the height of land
which, divides the waters that run into Hudson's
Bay on the north, from those that flow to the
Gulf of Mexico on the south. As far as the Grand
Forks, a distance of one hundred and fifty miles,
it retains its breadth and depth, and is navigable
for barges ; but beyond that, in many places the
water is scarcely deep enough to float an Indian
If we except about ten miles at the mouth of
the river, which is swampy, all the rest, as far as
Pembina, in lat. 49° N. (where the boundary line
which separates Great Britain from the United
States passes), is good soil, rich and well adapted for
crops in favourable seasons ; yet, generally speaking,
the isolated position of the colony, and its northern
and frozen locality, almost preclude the inhabitants from intercourse with the rest of the civilised
world ; except once a year, when the Company's
ship from England reaches York Factory. Consequently the remote colony of Red River maybe
said to be as far from England as any colony or
people on the habitable globe. The winters are of
seven months' duration, and the mercury freezes.
Neither on the south are its prospects flattering :
there the American frontiers skirt the settlement ;
St. Peter's on the Mississippi being the nearest place
of social intercourse with civilised man. Yet the
outlet must in the nature of things be south, and
;-    '•-■  -    :s s 2 260
not north ; though an intercourse with the States
cannot be reciprocal, therefore cannot be lasting.
An intercourse might indeed prove beneficial to
Red River ; but Red River by that intercourse can
never prove beneficial to the States, it having
nothing to give the Americans but what they have
got at home. So much, then, for its prospects in
time of peace. In the event of a war, however,
between England and America, what would be
the lot of Red River ? It must, without a doubt,
be sacrificed. But, apart from the Americans, the
Red River settler's greatest dread would arise from
the aboriginal hordes that surround him ; for
although the savages of the north dare not go to
the south, or within the American lines, yet the
Indians of the south may with great facility travel
to the north. All things considered, the only object
Lord Selkirk could have had in view by colonising
it, was to keep a door open for the fur trade of
the far west ; and for that purpose it must*--prove
Our horses having rested themselves a little, we
resumed our travelling. As we journeyed on, my
companion and I talked over the affairs of the
colony ; and from what I had seen, and from the
information he gave me, I began seriously to reflect
on the choice I had made, and the result was anything but pleasant.
At some distance from the Frog Plains is the
Seven Oaks Creek ; that fatal spot noticed in a FORT  GARRY,   THE  METROPOLIS.
former Chapter,* where the tragedy of the 19 th of
June, 1816, was enacted. In the immediate vicinity
of this, my companion pointed out to me the locality
which Lord Selkirk, in a conference with the Scotch
emigrants in 1817, had fixed upon as the most convenient site for their church ; naming the parish
Kildonnan. From Parsonage Creek we advanced
through swamps knee-deep in mud and clay. From
this position Point Douglas came into view, a projecting tongue of land formed by one of the many
bendings of the river, and so named after the noble
founder of the colony. About a mile beyond this,
is situated, near the confluence of the Assiniboine
and the Red River, Fort Garry, the metropolis of :«...
the country, and further celebrated as the spot •;;••
where, in 1811, the Earl of Selkirk concluded a
treaty with the Indians for the privilege of settle-..
•   •      * » • •
ment.    This was the first groundwork of civilisa-•*     '•''..
CD • • •.. •    •
tion in this part of British North America.    I was"
anxious to see a place I had heard so much aboiffé*      	
■*• • •      •
but I must confess I felt disappointed.    Instead <££*• \»y»
a place walled and fortified, as I had expected, I saw]
nothing but a few wooden houses huddled together*/ •;•;•
without palisades, or any regard to taste or evçu;" /.".:!
comfort.    To this cluster of huts were, however;"      ;...
#« •
appended two long bastions in the same style as the*.     ••••!
*    * • • • • •
other buildings.
These buildings, according to the custom of the ■
country, were used as dwellings and warehouses for       •...
* Chap. III. vol. i. p. 90. :[;]:
• • •
• • •
a*  •
• •     •
• •
<■■ • •• •
• • ••
• •
• • • 262
carrying on the trade of the place. Nor was the
Governor s residence anything more in its outward
appearance than the cottage of a humble farmer,
who might be able to spend fifty pounds a year.
These^ however, were evidences of the settled and
tranquil state of the country.
I wished before closing my narrative to have
added a few things in reference to the statistics of
the settlement ; but on this point my companion
could give me no information. " No census," he
said, " had as yet been taken ; " there was, therefore, no document, nor any statement that could be
relied on.
Thus ended my first day in Red River ; and
having, after a somewhat varied and eventful life,
settled down, my remarks and my wanderings
jiaturally come to a close together.   1
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