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Notes of a twenty-five years' service in the Hudson's Bay Territory. In two volumes McLean, John, 1799-1890 1849

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Array       NOTES
îpubltsîet in ©tWnats to Her ifflafestg.
a=a=«*  PREFACE.
The writer's main object in first committing to writing the following Notes was to
while away the many lonely and wearisome
hours which are the lot of the Indian trader ;—
a wish to gratify his friends by the narrative
of his adventures had also some share in
inducing him to take up the pen.
While he might justly plead the hackneyd
excuse of being urged by not a few of those
friends to publish these Notes, in extenuation
of the folly or presumption, or whatever else it
may be termed, of obtruding them on the
world, in these days of " making many
books ;" he feels that he can rest his
vindication   on  higher grounds.     Although
a 3 jttms
several works of much merit have appeared
in connexion with the subject, the Hudson's
Bay territory is yet, comparatively speaking, but little known; no faithful representation has yet been given of the situation
of the Company's servants — the Indian
traders ; with the degradation and misery
of the many Indian tribes, or rather remnants
of tribes, scattered throughout this vast terri-
tory, the publie are little acquainted ; erroneous
statements have gone abroad in regard to the
Company's treatment of these Indiana ; as
also in regard to the government, policy,
and management of the Company's affairs.
On these points, he conceives that bis
plain, unvarnished tale may throw some new
Some of the details.may seem trivial, and
some of the incidents to be without much
interest to the general reader ; still as it
was one chief design of the writer to draw vu
a faithful picture of the Indian trader's life,
-—its toils, annoyances, privations, and perils,
when on actual service, or on a trading or
exploring expedition ; its loneliness, cheerless-
ness, and ennui, when not on actual service ;
together with the shifts to which he is reduced
in order to combat that ennui;—such incidents, trifling though they may appear to be, he
conceives may yet convey to the reader a livelier idea of life in the Hudson's Bay Company's
territories than a more ambitious or laboured
description could have done. No one, indeed,
who has passed his life amid the busy haunts
of men, can form any just idea of the interest
attached by the lonely trader to the most
trifling events, such as the arrival of a stranger
Indian,—the coming of a new clerk,—a scuffle
among the Indians,—or a sudden change of
weather. No one, unaccustomed to their
" short commons, " can conceive the intense,
it may be said fearful, interest and excitement viii PREFACE.
with which the issue of a fishing or hunting
expedition is anticipated.
Should his work contribute, in any degree, to awaken the sympathy of the Christian world in behalf of the wretched and
degraded Aborigines of this vast territory;
should it tend in any way to expose, or to
reform the abuses in the management of the
Hudson's Bay Company, or to render its monopoly less injurious to the natives than hitherto
it has been; the writer's labour will have
been amply compensated. Interested as he
still is in that Company, with a considerable
stake depending on its returns, it can scarcely
be supposed that he has any intention, wantonly or unnecessarily, to injure its interests.
Gtjelph, Canada West,
1st March, 1849. CONTENTS
The Hudson's Bay Company and Territories 13
I enter the Hudson's Bay Company's Service—Padre Gibert   21
On Service—Lake of Two Mountains—Opposition—Indians
—Amusements at the Posts    27
Portage des Chats—Tactics of our Opponents—Treachery of
an Iroquois—Fierce yet ludicrous nature of the Opposition 42
.   .       CHAPTER V.
Arrival at the Chats—Installed as Bourgeois—First Trading Excursion—Bivouac in the Woods—Indian Barbarity   54
Trip to Fort Coulonge—Mr. Godin—Natives 65 Superseded—Feelings on the Occasion—More Opposition—
M. Macdonell—Tactics—Melancholy Death of an Indian .   76
Activity of our Opponents—Violent Conduct of an Indian
—Narrow Escape—Artifice—Trip to Indian's Lodge—
Stupidity of Interpreter 92
Expedition to the Bear's Den—Passage through the Swamp
—Cunning of the Indians—A Scuffle—Its Results .   .   .104
Père Duchamp—Mr. S.'s Instructions—Unsuccessful—Trading Excursion—Difficulties of the Journey—Lose our
way—Provisions fail — Reach the Post—Visit to an
Algonquin Chief—His abusive Treatment—Success   .   . 116
Success of the Iroquois Traders—Appointed to the Charge
of the Chats—Canadian disputes Possession — Bivouac
without, a Eire—Ruse to baffle my Opponents—Roman
Catholic Bigotry 135
Journey to Montreal—Appointment to Lac de Sable—Advantages of this Post—Its Difficulties—Governor's flattering Letter—Return from Montreal—Lost in the Woods—
Sufferings—Escape 146
Narrowly escape Drowning—Accident to Indian Guide-
Am nearly Frozen to Death—Misunderstanding between Algonquins and Iroquois—Massacre at  Hannah
Bay.... .. i6i CONTENTS. XI
Fall through the Ice—Dangerous Adventure at a Rapid—
Opponents give in—Ordered to Lachine—Treatment on
my Arrival—Manners, Habits, and Superstitions of the
Indians—Ferocious Revenge of a supposed Injury—Different Methods of the Koman Catholic and Protestant
Missionary—Indian Councils—Tradition of the Flood—
Beaver Hunting—Language 176
Embark for the Interior—Mode of Travelling by Canoes—
Little River—Lake Nipissing—French River—Old Station of Indian Robbers — Fort Mississaga—Indians—
Light Canoe-Men — Sault Ste. Marie—Lake Superior—
Canoe-men desert—Re-taken—Fort William—M. Thibaud
—Lac la Pluie and River—Indians—White River—Narrow Escape—Conversation with an Indian about Baptism 197
Continuation of the Voyage—Run short of Provisions—
Dogs' Flesh—Norway House—Indian Voyageurs—Ordered
to New Caledonia—Lake Winnipeg—Mcintosh's Island
submerged — Cumberland House — Chippewayan and
Crée Indians—Portage La Loche—Scenery—Athabasca—
Healthiness of the Climate 218
Arrival of Mr. F. from Caledonia—Scenery—Land-slip—
Massacre at Fort St. John's—Rocky Mountain Portage
—Rocky Mountains — Magnificent Scenery—McLeod's
Lake—Reception of its Commander by the Indians    .   . 233 Xll
Arrival at New Caledonia—Beautiful Scenery—Indian
Houses—Amusements at the Fort—Threatened Attack of
Indians — Expedition against them—Beefsteaks—New
Caledonian Fare—Mode of catching Salmon—Singular
Death of native Interpreter — Indian Funeral Rites—
Barbarous Treatment of Widows 241
Indian Feast—Attempt at Dramatic Representation—Religion—Ordered to Fort Alexandria—Advantages of the
Situation — Sent back to Fort St. James—Solitude—
Punishment of Indian Murderer—Its Consequences—
Heroic Adventure of Interpreter -	
Appointed to the Charge of Fort George—Murder of Mr.
Yale's Men—Mysterious Loss of Mr. Linton and Family—
Adventures of Leather Party—Failure of Crops—Influenza 274
Climate of New Caledonia^—Scenery—Natural Productions
—Animals—Fishes—Natives—Their Manners and Customs—Duelling—Gambling—Licentiousness—Language .284 NOTES
the Hudson's bay company and tereitoeies.
That part of British North America known by
•the name of the Hudson's Bay territory extends
from the eastern coast in about 60° W. long, to the
Russian boundary in 142° W. ; and from the Gulf
of St. Lawrence, along the Ottawa River and the
northern shores of Lakes Huron and Superior, and
thence to the boundary line of the United States ;
extending in latitude thence to the northern limit
»     VOL. I. B
of America; being in length about 2,600 miles,
and in breadth about 1,400 miles. This extensive
space may be divided into three portions, each
differing most materially in aspect and surface.
The first and most extensive is that which is on
the east, from the Labrador coast, round Hudson's
Bay, northward to the Arctic region, and westward to the Rocky Mountains. This is entirely a
wooded district, affording that plentiful supply of
timber which forms so large a branch of the Canadian export trade. These interminable forests
are principally composed of pines of large size,
but which towards the northern boundary are of
a very stinted growth. Another portion is the
prairie country, reaching from Canada westward
to the Rocky Mountains, and intersected by the
boundary line of the United States. In general,
the soilfs rich alluvial, which being covered with
luxuriant herbage, affords pasturage for the vast
herds of wild buffaloes which roam over these extensive plains. The western part is that which
lies between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacifie
Ocean, including   the   Oregon   territory,   which THE MONTREAL DEPARTMENT.
was likely to have led to a serious? misunderstanding between Great Britain and the United
These extensive portions are divided by the
Hudson's Bay Company into four departments,
and these departments are again subdivided into
districts. At the head of each department and
district a chief factor or chief trader generally
presides, to whom all the officers within their
respective jurisdictions are amenable. Those in
charge of posts'* whatever may be their rank, are
subject to the authority of the person at the head
of the district; and that person receives his in-
structions from the superintendent of the department. The whole affairs of the country at large
are regulated by the Governor and Council, and
their decisions again are referred, for final adjustment, to the Governor and Committee in
The Montreal department comprehends all the
districts and posts along the Gulf and River St*
Lawrence ; also the different posts along the banks
of the  Ottawa and the interior  country.    The
depot of the department is at Lachine, where
all the returns are collected, and the outfits
■ The southern department has its depot at Moose
Factory, in James's Bay ; it includes the districts
of Albany, Rupert's House, Temiscamingue, Lake
Huron, and Lake Superior, together with several
isolated posts along the shores of the Bay.
The northern department is very extensive,
having for its southern boundary the line which
divides the British from the American territories,
sweeping east and west from Lac La Pluie, in 95°
W. long, and 49° N. laf» to the Rocky Mountains
in 115° W. long.; then, with the Rocky Mountains
for its western boundary, it extends northward to
the Arctic Sea. The whole of this vast country
is divided into the following districts : Norway
House, Rainy Lake, Red River, Saskatchewan, English River, Athabarca, and McKenzie's
River. The depot of this department is York
Factory, in Hudson's Bay, and is considered the
grand emporium ; here the grand Council is held,
which is formed of the Governor and such chief THE  COLUMBIA  DEPARTMENT.
factors and chief traders as may be present. The
duty of the latter is to sit and listen to whatever
measures the Governor may have determined on,
and give their assent thereto, no debating or
vetoing being ever thought of ; the Governor
being absolute, his measures therefore more require obedience than assent. Chief traders are
also permitted to sit in council as auditors, but
have not the privilege of being considered
The Columbia department is bounded on the
east by the Rocky Mountains, and on the west by
the Pacific Ocean. An ideal line divides it on the
south from the province of California, in lat.
41° 30' ; and it joins the Russian boundary in
lat. 55°. This, although a very extensive department, does not consist of many districts ; New
Caledonia is the principal, situated among the
Rocky Mountains, and. having several of its posts
established along the banks of the Fraser River,
which disembogues itself into the Gulf of
Georgia in nearly 49° lat. and 122° W. long.
The next is Colville, on the  Columbia  River, 18 THE  NAVAL  DEPARTMENT.
along with some isolated posts near the confluence
of the same river.    The forts, or trading posts,
along the north-west coast, have each their respective  commander.     The  shipping business is
conducted by   a person appointed for that purpose, who is styled, par excellence, the head of
the " Naval department."    The Company have a
steamboat   and   several sailing vessels,   for  the
purpose chiefly of trading with the natives along
the coast.    The primary object, however, is not
so much the trade, as to keep brother Jonathan
in cheek, (whose propensity for encroaching has of
late been " pretty much" exhibited,) and to deter
him from forming any   establishments  on   the
coasts ; there being a just apprehension that if
once a footing were obtained on the  coast,  an
equal eagerness might be manifested for extending
their locations into the interior.    Strong parties of
hunters are also constantly  employed along the
southern frontier for the purpose of destroying
the fur-bearing animals in that quarter ; the end
in view being to secure the interior from the en*-
croachments of foreign interlopers.    The depot of GOVERNOR AND DEPUTY-GOVERNOR.
this department is at Fort Vaucouver, on the
Columbia River.
The Hudson's Bay Company, as it at present
exists, was incorporated in- the winter of 1820—I
£1, a coalition having been then formed with
the North-West Company. Upon this taking
place, an Act of Parliament was obtained which
gave them not only the possession of the terri*
tory they had originally held by virtue of their
royal charter, but also investing them with the
same rights and privileges conferred by that
charter in and over all the territories that had
been settled by the North-West Company for
a term of twenty-one years.
The Governor, Deputy-Governor, and managing
Committee, are, properly speaking, the only capitalists. The stock is divided into one hundred
shares; sixty of which their Honours retain for
themselves ; and the remaining forty are divided
among the chief traders and chief factors, who
manage the affairs in the Indian country. A chief
factor holds two of these shares, and a chief trader
one ; of which they retain the full interest for one
year after they retire, and half interest for the six
following years. These cannot be said to be stockholders, for they are not admitted to any share in
the executive management ; but according to the
present system they are termed Commissioned
Officers, and receive. merely the proceeds of the
share allotted to them. They enjoy, however, one
very superior advantage,—they are not subjected'
to bear their share in any losses which the Company may sustain. It is generally reckoned that
the value of one share is on an average about S50ln
sterling a-year. By the resignation of two chief
traders, one share is at the Company's disposal the
year after, which is then bestowed on a clerk..
When two chief factors retire, a chief trader is
promoted in like manner. Promotion also take
place when the shares of the retired partners
fall in. PADRE GIBERT.
I entered the service of the Company in the
winter of 1820—21, and after passing my contract
at Montreal in the month of January, I took up
my residence for the remainder of the season with
a French priest, in the parish of Petit le Maska,
for the purpose of studying the French language.
The Padre was a most affable, Hberal-minded man,
a warm friend of England and Englishmen, and a
staunch adherent to their government, which he
considered as the most perfect under the sun.
The fact is, that the old gentleman, along with
many others of his countrymen who had escaped
from the horrors of the French Revolution, had
b3 found an asylum in our land of freedom, which
they could find nowhere else; and the personal
advantages that had accrued to him from that circumstance, naturally induced a favourable disposition towards his benefactors, their laws, and their
institutions. Though the Padre was extremely
liberal in his political opinions, his management of
his worldly affairs bore the stamp of the most
sordid parsimony. He worshipped the golden carf,
and his adoration of the image was manifest in
everything around him. He wore a cassock of
cloth which had in former times been of a black
colour, but was now of a dusky grey, the woollen
material being so completely incorporated with
dust as to give it that colour. His table was
furnished with such fare as his farm produced,
.with the addition, on particular occasions, of a
bottle of black strap. A charming nymph, of some
fifty years of age or so, had the management of
the household, and discharged all heE duties with
strict decorum and care. I have the beauties of
her person in my mind's eye to this day. She was
hump-backed, short-necked,  and  one-eyed,   and MARGUERITE AND JOSEPH.
squinted bewitehingly with the remaining one:
she had a short leg and a long one, a high shoulder
and a low. In short, the dear creature seemed to
be formed, or rather deformed, by the hand of
nature on purpose to fill the situation of housekeeper for a priest,—so that whatever might be
his age, no scandal could possibly attach itself
to him from such a housekeeper. The manservant was directly the counterpart of the charming Marguerite ; he also was far advanced in the
vale of years, and was of a most irascible temper.
To stir up Joseph to the grinning point was a very
easy matter j. and his frantic gesticulations, when-
thus goaded to wrath by our teasing pleasantries,
(there were two other young gentlemen beside ■
myself^) were of the most extraordinary description, and afforded infinite amusement. We never
failed to amuse ourselves at Joseph's expense,,
when the Padre's absence permitted our doing so
with impunity,—especially as a small present of
tobacco, which was always kept at hand for such,
occasions, soon made us friends again. But it
sometimes happened that such jokes were carried too far, so as to render the offering of incense quite
unacceptable, when the touch of metal could alone,
produce the desired effect.
I remained with Father Gibert untiL spring,
and shall take leave of him by relating an
anecdote or two illustrative of his loyalty and
benevolence. Some time during Madison's unprovoked war with Great Britain, an alarm came
from the upper part of the parish of which Father
Gibert was curé, that a party of Americans had
been seen marching down the country. The Capitaine of militia, who was the cwrës next door
neighbour, was immediately sent for, and by their
joint influence and authority a considerable number of habitans were soon assembled under arms,
such as they were. The Father then shouldering his musket, and placing himself at the head
of his parishioners, led them into his garden,
which was enclosed by a picket fence, and bordered on the highway. Here the loyal band took
their stand under cover of the fence, waiting to
give Jonathan a warm reception the moment he
came within   reach.     The supposed  Americans FRIENDS OF ST. PATRICK.
proved to be a small detachment of British troops,
and thus the affair ended.
On another occasion during the same period
the Padre's loyalty and good humour were manifested, though in a different manner. While
amusing himself in the garden one day, he overheard two Irish soldiers engaged in conversation
to this effect :—
" You know that the ould boy asks every body
afore he gives any praties, if they belong to St.
Patrick ; well, is it a hard matter to tell him we
do, agrah ? "
" Sure you'd be telling a he, Paddy ! "
" Never mind that," said Paddy, " I'll spake."
The old gentleman immediately returned to the
house, and entering by a back door, was snugly
seated in his arm-chair, book in hand, when the
two Hibernians were admitted.
"Well, my boys, what is your business with
" We would be wanting a few praties, if your
Riverence could spare them."
" Aha !    you   are from   Ireland,  I perceive. 26
Irishmen very fond of potatoes ! Well, my boys,
I have a few remaining, and you shall have some
if you belong to St. Patrick."
" Faith, and it is all as your honour'says; we
are Irishmen, and we belong to St. Patrick."
The old gentleman ordered Joseph to supply
them with the " blessed root," without any further
parley. Then addressing the speaker in a voice of
assumed choler, exclaimed :—
" You are a great raskail ! does your religion
teach you to tell lies ? You are Protestant both
of you. However, if you do not belong to St.
Patrick, you belong to the King of England, and
I give my potatoes for his sake. ' But you must
never try to impose upon an old priest again, or
you may not come so well off." •ARRIVAL AT MONTREAL,
I arrived at Montreal about the beginning of
May, and soon learnt that I was appointed to the
post at Lake of Two Mountains. The Montreal
department was headed at that time by Mr. Thane,
a man of rather eccentric character, but possessed
of a heart that glowed with the best feelings of
humanity. I was allowed to amuse myself a few
days in town, having directions however to call at
the office every day, in case my services should be
required. The period of departure at length
arrived. 1 was one evening accosted by Mr.
Thane in these terms :—" I say, youngster, you
have been trifling away your time long enough 28
here ; you must hold yourself ready to embark
for your destination to-morrow morning at five
o'clock precisely. If you delay one moment, you
shall have cause to remember it." Such positive
injunctions were not disregarded by me. I was of
course ready at the time appointed, and after all
the hurry, had the honour of breakfasting with my
commander before departing ; but the woful and
disheartening accounts of the hardships and privations I was to suffer in the country to which I was
to proceed, fairly spoiled my appetite. I was told
that my only lodging was to be a tent, my only
food Indian corn, when I could get it ; and many
other comforts were enumerated with the view of
producing a certain effect, which my countenance
no doubt betrayed, whilst he chuckled with the
greatest delight at the success of his jokes. I took
leave, and found myself that evening at the Lake
of Two Mountains. On my arrival, a large building was pointed out to me as the Company's establishment, to which I soon found admittance, and
was, to my great surprise, ushered into a large well
furnished apartment.    Tea had just been served. THE  IROQUOIS  AND  ALGONQUINS.
with a variety of substantial accompaniments, to
which I felt heartily disposed to do ample justice^
after my day's abstinence. Thisiwas very different
entertainment from what I had been led to expect
in the morning ; would it had been my lot to be
always so agreeably deceived !.
The village of the Lake of Two Mountains is
inhabited by two distinct tribes of the aborigines—
viz. the Iroquois and the Algonquins ; the latter
are a tribe of the Sauteux nation, or Ojibbeway,,
and live principally by the chase. The former cultivate the soil, and engage as voyageurs, or. in any
other capacity that may yield them the means of
subsistence. They are a very hardy industrious
race ; but neither the habits of civilized fife, nor
the influence of the Christian religion, appear,
to have mitigated, in any material degree, the
ferocity that characterized their pagan ancestors.
Although they do not pay great deference to the
laws of God, they are sufficiently aware of the
consequences of violating the laws of man, and
comport themselves accordingly.
The Catholic seminary and church, along with CATHOLIC SEMINARY AND  CHURCH.
the gardens of the establishment, almost divide
the village into two equal parts ; yet this close
proximity does not appear to encourage any
friendly intercourse between the two tribes. They
in fact seldom pass their respective limits, and,
with few exceptions, cannot converse together/
the language of the one being unintelligible to the
The Company established a post here in the
spring of 1819, and when I arrived it was in
charge of Mr. Fisher, then a senior clerk. He
had two other clerks under him, besides myself/
a like number of attachés, two interpreters, two
servants, and a horse to ride upon. With such an-
establishment to rule over, need it be matter of
surprise ithat our bourgeois was in his own estimation a magnate of the first order ? N'importe,—
whatever might be his vanity, he possessed those
qualities which constitute a first-rate Indian
tsâder, and he required' them to fill successfully
his present situation. A number of petty traders
were settled in the village, who, whenever the
Company entered the lists against them, laid aside 0PENTNG  OF  THE  SPRING CAMPAIGN.
the feuds that subsisted among themselves, and
joined to oppose their united efforts against the
powerful rival that threatened to overwhelm them
all. The spring fur campaign was about to open
when I made my début at the post. The natives
being daily expected from the interior, all parties
watched their arrival night and day. This was
not a very harassing duty to us, as we relieved
each other; but the situation of our superior was
exceedingly irksome and annoying. The moment
an Indian canoe appeared (the Indians always
arrived at night), we were ordered to apprize him
of it ; having done so, he was immediately at the
landing-place, our opponents being also there,
attending to their own interests. Some of the
natives were supplied by the Company, others by
the petty traders ; and according as it happened
to be the customers of either that arrived, the
servants assisted in unloading the canoes, conveying the baggage to their houses, and kindling a
fire. Provisions were furnished in abundance by
both parties. While these preliminary operations
were being performed by the servants, the traders INDIAN HUNTERS.
surrounded the principal object of their solicitude
—the hunter ; first one, then another, taking
him aside to persuade him of the superior claims
each had on his love and gratitude. After being
pestered in this manner for some time, he, (the
hunter,) eventually allowed himself to be led away
to the residence of one of the parties, where
he was treated to the best their establishment
afforded ; the natives, however, retaining their furs,
and visiting from house to house, until satiated
with the good cheer the traders had to give them,
when they at length gave them up, but not always
to the party to whom they were most indebted.
They are generally great rogues ; the sound of
the dollars, which the Company possessed in
abundance, often brought the furs that were due
to the petty trader to the Company's stores ;
while some of our customers were induced by
the same argument to carry their furs to our,
For a period of six weeks or so, the natives
continued to arrive ; sometimes in brigades,
sometimes   in single canoes;   during the whole THEIR  INTEMPERANCE.
of this period we were occupied in the manner
now described, day and night. So great was
the pressure of business, that we had scarcely
time to partake of the necessary refreshment.
When they had at length all arrived, we enjoyed
our night's rest, if indeed our continually disturbed
slumbers could be called rest:—what with the
howling of two or three hundred dogs, the tinkling
of bells with which the horses the Indians rode
were ornamented, the bawling of the squaws when
beaten by their drunken husbands, .and the yelling
of the savages themselves when in that beastly
state, sleep was impossible,—the infernal sounds
that continually rent the air, produced such a
symphony as could be heard nowhere else out of
Pandemonium. No liquors were sold to the
natives at the village, but they procured as much
as Lhey required from the opposite side of the lake.
Some wretches of Canadians were .always ready,
for a trifling consideration, to purchase it for them;
thus the law prohibiting the sale of liquor to the
-Indians was evaded. After wallowing in intemperance for some time, they ultimately submitted
II 34
to the authority of the priests, confessed their
sins, received absolution, and became good Christians for the remainder of the season. If any
indulged in the favourite vice—a few always did—
they were confined to their quarters by their
Families. After attending mass on Sundays, they
amused themselves playing at ball, or running foot
races ; and it was only on such occasions they were
seen to associate with their neighbours the Iroquois. They took opposite sides in the games ;
small stakes were allowed, merely to create an
interest in the issue of the contest. The chiefs
of both tribes sat smoking their pipes together,
viewing the sports in silent gravity, and acting as
umpires in all cases of doubt between the parties.
They, in fact, led a glorious life during the three
months they remained at the village ; that period
was to them a continued carnival. The best fare
the country afforded—the best attire that money
could procure—all that sensuality, all that vanity
could desire—their means permitted them to enjoy.
Their lands not having been hunted on during the
war, the beaver multiplied at an  extraordinary OPPOSITION.
rate, and now swarmed in every direction. Every
individual belonging to the tribe might then have
acquired an independent fortune. They, arrived
at the village, their canoes laden with furs; but the
characteristic improvidence of their race blinded
them to future consequences. Such was their
wasteful extravagance, that the money obtained
by the sale of their furs was dissipated ere
half the summer season was over. The traders
supplied them afterwards with all requisites at a
moderate per centage ; and when they embarked
itt.R.utumn for their hunting grounds, they found
themselves deeply involved in debt, a few only
In the course of this summer, some of our
opponents foreseeing the probable issue of the
contest they were engaged in, proposed terms of
capitulation, which were in most instances readily
assented, to by the Company ; the inventories and
outstanding debts were assumed at a certain valuation. They retired from the field, some with
annuities for a stipulated period, while to others a
round sum of money was granted ; in either case 36
the party bound himself, under certain penalties,
not to interfere in the trade for a stated period
of time.
In this manner the Company got rid of all petty
opponents, with the exception of two who continued the unequal contest. By the latter end of
August the natives had all started for the interior,
leaving behind only a few decrepit old men and
women. The scene was now completely changed ;
a death-like stillness prevailed where but a few
days before all was activity, bustle and animation.
Two of my brother scribes were ordered to the
interior ; one* to the distant Lake Nipissingue, the
other to the Chats. Mr. Fisher set off to enjoy
himself in Montreal, Mr. Francher, the accountant,
being appointed locum-tenens during his absence.
Another young Scot and .myself, together with
two or three non-descripts, formed the winter
establishment.    Having just quitted the scenes of
* This gentleman's name was Cockburn ;—he met his end a
few years afterwards in a very melancholy manner, while on
his way to Montreal (having retired from the service). He
rolled over the canoe on a dark night, and disappeared for
civilized life, I found my present solitude suffi-
. cien tly irksome ; the natural buoyancy of youthful
.spirits, however, with the amusements we got up
amongst us, conspired to banish all gloomy thoughts
from my mind in a very short time. We—my
friend Mac and myself—soon became very intimate
with two or three French families who resided in
the village, who were, though in an humble station,
kind and courteous, and who, moreover, danced,
fiddled and played whist.
There was another family of a different status
from the others, that of Capt. Ducharme, the
king's interpreter, a kind-hearted, hospitable man,
who frequently invited us to his house, where we
enjoyed the charms of polished society and good
cheer. The captain's residence was in the Iroquois
division of the village ; this circumstance led us
to form another acquaintance that for. some, time
afforded us some amusement, en passant. We
discovered that, a very ugly old. widow, who resided in that quarter, had two very pretty young
daughters, to whom we discoursed in Gaelic; they
answered in Iroquois ;  and in a short time the
best understanding imaginable was -established
between us, (Mac and myself, be it always understood.) No harm came of it, though ; I vow there
did not ; the priests, it seems, thought otherwise.
Our acquaintance with the girls having come to
their knowledge, we were one day honoured with
a visit from the Iroquois padre ; the severe gravity
of whose countenance convinced us at a glance of
the nature of [his mission. I must do him the
justice to say, however, that his address to us was
mild and admonitory, rather than severe or reproachful. I resolved from that moment to speak
no more Gaelic to the Iroquois maidens ; Mac
continued his visits.
We always amused ourselves in the evenings
with our French confrères, (whom I have mentioned
as " nondescripts," from the circumstance of their
being under no regular engagement with the Company,) playing cards or fiddling and dancing.
We were on one occasion engaged in the latter
amusement en pleine midi—our Deputy Bourgeois being one of the party, and all of us in the
highest possible glee, when lo ! in  the midst of A   REPRIMAND
our hilarity, the hall door flew open and the great
man stood sternly before us* The hand-writine
on the wall could scarcely have produced a more
startling effect on the convivial party of old, than
did this unexpected apparition upon us* We
listened to the reprimand which followed in all
due humility, none more crest-fallen than our
worthy Deputy. Mr. Fisher then opened his
portmanteau and drew forth a letter, which he
presented to my friend Mac, exclaiming in a voice
of thunder, "Read that, gentlemen, and hear
what Mr. Thane thinks of your conduct." We
read and trembled; Mac's defiance of the authority of the priests offended them mortally; a
formal complaint was consequently preferred
against the innocent and the guilty, (although
there was no guilt in fact, unless speaking Gaelic to
the wood-aymphs could be so construed,) and
drew upon us the censures this dreadful missive
conveyed. The magnate remained a few daysj
and on his departure for town, we resumed our
usual pastimes, but selected a different path to
Captain Ducharme's. The Fathers had requested,
c 2 40
when this establishment was first formed, that
some of the Company's officers should attend
church on Sundays for the purpose of showing a
good example to the natives. I did so, on my part,
very regularly until Christmas Eve, when having
witnessed the ceremonies of the midnight mass,
I determined on remaining at home in future. I
shuddered with horror at the idolatrous rites, as
they appeared to me, which were enacted on that
occasion. The ceremonies commenced with the
celebration of mass; then followed the introduction of the " Infant Jesus," borne by four of the
choristers, attired in surplices of white linen. The
image being placed by them on a sofa in front of
the altar, the superior of the seminary made his
début, retiring to the railing that surrounds the
altar, when he knelt, and bending low his head
apparently in devout adoration, he arose, then
advanced two steps towards the altar and knelt
again ; he knelt the third time close to the side of
the image, which he devoutly embraced, then
withdrew: the younger priests performed the
same ceremonies; and after them every one  of CATHOLTC CEREMONIES.
their congregation : yet these people protest that
their religion has no connexion with idolatry, and
that the representations of Protestants regarding
it are false and calumnious. If we credit them,
however, we must belie the evidence of our own
senses ; but the fact is, there are not a few Roman
Catholics who speak with very little respect themselves of some of these mummeries. PREPARATIONS FOR  SPRING.
Mr. Fisher returned from town in the month
of March; he had learnt that our opponents intended to shift the scene of operations to the Chats,
(where the greater number of the Indians pass on
their way going to or returning from their hunting
grounds,) and were making preparations of a very
extensive nature for the spring competition. The
Company were not tardy in adopting such measures as were deemed the most efficient to meet
them on their own terms. We understood that
they had hired two bullies for the purpose of deciding the matter par voie de fait.    Mr. Fisher TACTICS  OF  OPPONENTS. 43*
hired two of the same description, who were supposed to be more than a match for the opposition
party. On the 28th of April, 1822, our opponents
set off in two large canoes, manned by eight men
in each ; we followed in three canoes with twenty-
four men, under the command of three leaders—
namely, Captain Ducharme, who had volunteered
on the occasion, Mr. Lyons, a retired trader, and
myself. Nothing occurred worthy of description
on our passage to the Chats.
The Ottawa is at this point interrupted by
a ledge of rock, which extends across its whole
breadth. In forcing, a passage for itself through
this barrier, it is divided into several channels,
which form as many beautiful cascades as they
fall into the extensive basin that receives them
below. On one of the islands thus formed, the
natives make a portage. Here, then, we took our
station close to a cascade; our opponents commenced building a hut on one side Of the path, we
on the other. While this operation was in progress,
basilisk looks denoted the strength of feeling that
pervaded the breasts of either party, but not a 44
Word was exchanged between us. Our hut was
first completed, when our champion clambered
aloft, and crowed defiance ; three times he crowed
(aloud), but no responding voice was heard from
the opposite camp. This act was altogether voluntary on the part of our man, but it did not
displease us, as the result convinced us that we
stood on safe ground, should any violence be
attempted. Our opponents were enraged at the
want of spirit evinced by their men, and determined on being revenged upon us in a manner that
showed the virulence of their animositv. A num-
ber of lumber men were making up their rafts
within a short distance of us at the time, who
were for the most part natives of the Emerald Isle.
Paddy's "knocking down for love" is proverbial.
Our opponents immediately sent them word that
the Hudson's Bay Company had brought up a bully
from Montreal who defied " the whole of the
Grand River." "By my faith, does he thin,"
said Pat ; | let us have a look at him, any how."
On the succeeding evening (after the occurrence
of the circumstance above related) we were sur- A DISPUTE.
prised to see the number of canoes that arrived at
the portage from all directions. The crew of each
canoe as they landed went direct to our opponents,
where they appeared to be liberally supplied with
spirits. Their object was sufficiently evident, as
the potent agent they had employed, in a short
time, produced the desired effect. Oaths, and execrations were heard amid crowing and yelling.
.Our Canadians all took to their heels, except our
noble game-cock and two others; and now the
drama opened. A respectable good looking fellow
stept out from the crowd, accompanied by another
man, a Canadian, and advancing to our champion,
asked him " if he would not sell his feathers " (his
hat. being decorated with them). It is unnecessary to state the reply. An altercation ensued,
and blows would undoubtedly have succeeded, had
I not then interfered. I invited the stranger to my
tent, and having opened my garde de vm, produced some of the good things it contained. A
-little conversation with my guest, proved him to
be a shrewd sensible man ; and when I explained
the nature of our dispute with our rivals, he com-
c 3 46
prehended in an instant the object they had in
view in circulating the reports which induced him
and others to assemble at the portage. The con"
sanguinity of the sons of Erin and Caledonia was
next touched upon, and the point settled to our
mutual satisfaction ; in short, my brother Celt and
-I parted as good friends as half-an-hour's acquaintance and a bottle of wine could make us. At the
conclusion of our interview he departed, and
meeting our champion, cordially shook him by the
hand ; then addressing his companions, remarked,
•" This, my lads, is a quarrel between the traders,
.in which we have no right to interfere at all ; for
my own part, I am very much obliged to the
jintlemin on both sides o' the road, for traiting me
.so jintaily; but Jack Hall shall not be made a tool
of by anybody whatsumdever."
Jack Hall embarked with his crew, and was
soon afterwards followed by the others. Both
parties were thus again in their previous positions,
and a little tact saved us from the fatal consequences that might have ensued, had their vil-
• lainous  design proved   successful.     The  daring ARRIVAL OF INDIANS.
insult was keenly felt by us all, and accordingly
one of our trio despatched a message to the only
individual of the opposite party who had any pretension to the title of gentleman, soliciting the
pleasure of his company to take the air next
morning. The invitation was accepted. Our
party kept the appointment, and remained for two
hours on the ground, awaiting the arrival of their
friends; but the friends allowed them the sole
enjoyment of the morning air.
A few days afterwards the natives began to
make their appearance, and scenes of a revolting
nature were of frequent occurrence. Rum and
brandy flowed in streams, and dollars were scattered about as if they had been of no greater
value than pebbles on the beach. The expenses
incurred by both parties were very great; but
jshile this lavish expenditure seriously -affected
the resources of the petty traders, the coffers of
the Company were too liberally filled to be sensibly
diminished by such outlay. Nevertheless, the
natives.would not dispose of their furs until they
reached the village. 48
We remained at the portage until the 7th of
June, when the natives having all passed, we
embarked, and arrived at the lake on the 10th,
where we were shocked to learn that our Bourgeois* had had a very narrow escape from the
treachery of an Iroquois during our absence»
the particulars of which were thus related to
us. Mr. Fisher had advanced a sum to this
scoundrel two years before, and seeing him pass
his door the ensuing spring after the debt had
been contracted, with his furs, which he carried to
our opponents, he watched his return, and calling
him in, demanded payment ; an insolent reply was
the return for his kindness, which so much exasperated him, that he kicked him out in presence
of several other Indians. The insult was not forgotten. Soon after his arrival this spring, he sent
for Mr. Fisher, who complied with the invitation,
expecting payment of his debt. The moment he
entered the house, however, he discovered that
he had been inveigled.    The Indian stood before
* The term Bourgeois is used for Master throughout the
him, his face painted, and a pistol in his hand»
which he presented. In an instant Mr. Fisher
bared his breast, and staring his enemy fiercely
in the face, exclaimed, " Fire, you black dog !
What ! did you imagine you had sent for an old
woman ?".
Mr. Fisher's knowledge of the Indian character
saved his life ; had he betrayed the slightest
symptom of fear, he was a dead man ; but the
undaunted attitude he assumed staggered the
resolution of the savage ; a new bias seemed to
operate on his mind, probably through a feeling
of respect for the determined courage displayed
by his intended victim. He could not brace his
nerves to a second effort ; his hand dropped listlessly by his side ; his gaze was fixed on Mr. Fisher
for a moment; then dashing the pistol violently
on the ground, he beckoned him to withdraw.*
Immediately after the close of the spring trade,
the most formidable of our opponents hinted that
* At that period some of the Iroquois made good hunts,
trapping beaver along the main rivers and outskirts of the
Algonquin lands. . 50
he might be induced to quit the field ; a negotiation was accordingly opened with him, which soon
terminated in a favourable issue, on very advantageous terms to the retiring party.
The solitary being who remained behind was
thus thrown upon his own resources, and his
efforts to maintain the unequal contest unaided,
were so feeble and ineffectual, that the Company
might be said to hold a monopoly of the fur-trade
at this period ; but thereafter they paid dearly for
their triumph, as further sacrifices had yet to
be made ere they could enjoy it in quiet. A
Canadian merchant, in easy circumstances, who
dwelt opposite to the village, having learned the
advantageous terms obtained by the petty traders
from the Company, addressed a very polite note
to Mr. Fisher, stating his intention to try his
fortune as a trader, but that he would have no
Objection to postpone the attempt for five years,
provided the Company would allow him 1502.
per annum, during that period. The proposal
was submitted to Mr. Thane, who laconically
replied, "Let him do his worst, and be . . . ." OF   THE  OPPOSITION.
Accordingly* St. Julien immediately commenced
operations. He hired one end of an Indian house,
which he fitted up as a trader's shop : Fisher hired
the other end. St. Julien then removed to another:
. Fisher occupied the other end of that house also.
St. Julien next rented a whole house : Fisher
purchased a house, placed it upon rollers, and
wheeled it directly in front of that of his rival,
•rearwards, scarcely leaving sufficient room for one
person to pass between the premises. This caused
•great amusement to the Indians; not so to St.
Julien, who had not anticipated so excessive a
desire on the part of any of the Company's officers
for so close an intimacy ; and at the end of six
weeks he took his departure without pay or pension from the Company.
In the course of this summer our Algonquins
received a visit from a party of Ottawas, (this
tribe occupies the hunting grounds in the vicinity
of Michimmakina or Makinaw, and speaks the
Sauteaux language,) which created considerable
alarm in the village, as they came for the purpose
of demanding satisfaction for the murder of one 52
of their tribe, which had been perpetrated two
years before by an Algonquin. The details of
the atrocious deed were communicated to me as
follows. The Ottawas and Algonquins, with their
families, were proceeding in company to the Lake,
in the spring of 1819, when being encamped in
the neighbourhood of the long Sault rapid, the
Algonquin sprang upon his unsuspecting companion, and cleft his skull with his tomahawk,
without the least apparent provocation; then
dragging the body to the water's edge, he cut it
up into small pieces, and threw them in. He next
despatched the woman, and mutilated her body
in the same savage manner, having first committed
the most horrible barbarity on her person ; (the
recital of which curdled my blood; and yet our
Christianized (?) Algonquins laughed heartily on
hearing it!) The demon in human form, with
the yet reeking tomahawk raised over the heads
of his wife and children, made them swear that
they would never divulge the horrid deed ; but
they did disclose it ; and it was from the .wife the
tale of horror was elicited.    The  object of the STATE OF THE COMPANY 3 ACCOUNTS.
Ottawas was not revenge. Compensation to the
full estimated value of the lives of a man and
woman was all they demanded; and that they
received to an amount that far exceeded their
expectations. Had the murderer been in the
village the chiefs declared they would have given
him up ; but they had already delivered him
over to the proper authorities, and he was
then in prison waiting his sentence. ,
It has been already mentioned, that the Company had assumed the outstanding debts of the
petty traders. When the accounts were closed
this autumn, the aggregate amount of liabilities
due to the Company exhibited the enormous sum
of seventy-two thousand dollars—not a shilhng
of that sum has ever been repaid.
Soon after the departure of the natives for the
interior, I was notified of my appointment to the
charge of the Chats post. My friend Mac also
received marching orders ; and after parting with
him I took leave of the Lake of Two Mountains
on the 20th of August.  INSTALLED AS ÎIOUHOKOIS.
summon them to return» An old interpreter and
two men, constituting the force at this station,
soon made their appearance. Such an uncommon
event as an arrival seemed to produce an exhilarating effect upon them. Immediately after my
landing the charge was made over to me ; and on
the following day my predecessor, Mr. Macdonald,
took his departure!- leaving me to the fellowship
of my own musings, which for a time assumed but
sombre hues; but I was then young, and the
hopes and aspirations of an ardent mind threw
a halo around the gloomy path that lay before me,
and resting upon the bright spots that glimmered
in the distant background» concealed from my
view the toils and miseries I had to experience
in the intermediate passage.
On assuming the responsibility of this post,
I found myself in a position which gratified my
vanity. I was Bourgeois of the Chats ; had an interpreter and two men subject (to my orders ; and
could make such arrangements as my own inclinations dictated, without the surveillance of a superior.   I was, in fact, master of my own time and 56
of my own actions ; could fiddle when I pleased,
and dance when I had^ mind with my own shadow ;
no person here dared to question my actions.
About the beginning of September the natives
began to pass for the interior, and to my great
surprise appeared to be in want of further supplies, although they had left the Lake amply
provided with everything necessary. Some of
them took advances here again to a considerable
amount. I learned from them that a petty trader
who had just then sprung into existence, intended
to establish a couple of posts in the interior of the
district—(this post being subject to the Lake of
Two Mountains.) This was rather an unpleasant
piece of intelligence, and quite unexpected by my
superiors or myself. I despatched a messenger
to head-quarters to give the alarm, and was soon
joined by a reinforcement of men conducted by
a junior clerk and an interpreter. Preparations
were then made to follow up this new competitor
the moment he appeared. He did not allow us
to remain long in suspense. A few days afterwards   his   party was observed passing in two FIRST  TRADING EXCURSION.
canoes ; our people were immediately in their
wake, and I remained with but one man and the
old interpreter during the winter. I had only
two Indian hunters to attend to ; one in the immediate vicinity of the post, the other about three
days' journey distant. Late in autumn I was gratified by a visit from the superintendent of the
district, who expressed himself perfectly satisfied
with my arrangements. As soon as the river
set fast with ice, I resolved on paying a visit to
my more remote customer, and assumed the snow-
shoes for the first time. I set out with my only
man, leaving the old interpreter sole occupier of
the post. My man had visited the Indian on
several occasions during the previous winter, and
told me that he usually halted at a Chantier,* on
the way to his lodge. We arrived late in the
evening at the locality in question, and finding
a quantity of timber collected on the ice, concluded that the shanty must be close at hand.
We accordingly followed the lumber-track until we
* The hut used by the lumbermen, and the root of the
well-known " shanty."     . .
reached the hut which had formerly afforded such
comfortable   accommodation  to my   companion.
Great was our disappointment, however, to find
it now  tenantless, and  almost buried in snow.
I had made an extraordinary effort to reach the
spot in the hope of procuring good quarters for
the night, and was now so completely exhausted
by fatigue that I could proceed no further.    The
night was dark, and to make  our situation as
cheerless as possible, it was discovered that my
companion had left his " fire-works " behind—a
proof of his inexperience.    Under these circumr
stances   our preparations were   necessarily few.
Having laid a few boughs of pine upon the snow,
we wrapped ourselves up in our blankets, and lay
doWn together.    I passed the night without much
rest;   but   my   attendant—a  hardy Canadian—
kept the wild beasts at bay by his deep snoring,
until dawn.   I found myself completely benumbed
with cold ; a smart walk, however, soon put the
blood in circulation,  and ere long we  entered
a shanty where we experienced the usual hospitality of these generous folks.   Here we borrowed A WESTER ENCAMPMENT.
a " smoking-bag," containing a steel, flint, and
tinder. With the aid of these desiderata in the
appointments of a voyageur, we had a comfortable
encampment on the following night.
The mode of constructing a winter encampment
is simply this :—you measure with your eye the
extent of ground you require for your purpose,
then taking off your snow-shoes, use them as
shovels to clear away the snow. This operation
over, the finer branches of the balsam tree are
laid upon the ground to a certain depth ; then
logs of dry wood are placed at right angles to the
feet at a proper distance, and ignited by means
of the " fire-works " alluded to. In such an
encampment as this, after a plentiful supper of
half-cooked peas and Indian corn—the inland
travelling fare of the Montreal department—and
a day's hard walking, one enjoys a repose to which
the voluptuary reclining on his bed of down is a
perfect stranger.
We reached our destination on the following
day about noon, where we found but little to
recompense us for our journey.    Both our own 60
people from the outpost and our opponents had
already traded all the furs the Indian had. to dispose of, although his supplies at the Lake of Two
Mountains and at my post amounted to a sum
that would have required his utmost exertions to
pay. We remained that night at his lodge, and
very early on the succeeding morning, started on
our return. With the exception of a couple of
trips I made to the inland posts, nothing disturbed
the monotony of my avocations during the remaining part of the winter. Petty traders swarmed all
over the country ; the posts which were established
in the interior to cope with them traded freely
with the natives, in order to secure their furs from
competitors. Thus the immense sacrifices which
the Company had made to obtain a monopoly, as
they imagined, yielded them no advantage whatever ; and repeated defalcations on the part of the
natives, induced them to curtail their advances at
their principal station. The natives, however,
found no difficulty in procuring their requisites in
exchange for their furs, either from the posts
belonging to the Company in the interior, or from INDIAN S DISHONESTY.
the opposition ; for they were, with few exceptions, of the same character as the individual
already alluded to.
The Indian whom I mentioned as residing m
the neighbourhood of the establishment arrived,
late in autumn, from the Lake, where he could
not obtain a charge of ammunition on credit. I
supplied all his wants liberally, knowing him to
be a good hunter, though a notorious rogue ; and
he set out for his hunting grounds, to all appearance well pleased.
In the course of the winter a Yankee adventurer
opened a " grog shop," within a short distance of
the depot, who appeared to have no objection to
a beaver's skin in exchange for his commodities.
My Indian debtor returned in the month of March,
with a tolerable " hunt," and pitched his tent
midway between the post and my Yankee neighbour. I called upon the Indian immediately for
payment, which he told me I should receive fnoy
the morrow. I went accordingly at the time
appointed, and was annoyed to find that he had
already disposed of a part of his furs for the Yan-5
jJiU*- 62
Indian's furs seized.
kee's whiskey ; and I therefore demanded payment
in a tone of voice which clearly indicated that I
was in earnest. To-morrow was mentioned again ;
but having come with the determination of being
satisfied on the spot, I seized, without further
ceremony, what furs remained, and throwing them
out of the wigwam to my man, who was placed there
to receive them, I remained within, to bear the
brunt of the Indian's resentment, should he show
any, until my man had secured the prize. I was well
prepared to defend myself, in case of any violence
being offered. Nothing of the kind was attempted,
however ; and I took my leave, after sustaining a
volley of abuse, which did me no harm. The
Indian paid me a visit next morning, for the purpose of settling accounts, a small balance being
due to him, which, at his own request, was paid
in rum. I soon after received another visit, for
nectar, on credit ; this request I granted.
The visits, however, were repeated so often for
the same purpose, that I at length found it advisable
to give a denial, by proxy, not wishing to part on
bad terms with him, if possible, on aecount of the INDIAN BARBARITY.
spring hunt. I absented myself from the house,
having instructed my interpreter how to act. I
took my station in a small grove of pines, close by,
watching for the appointed signal to apprise me of
the departure of the Indian. My attention was
suddenly arrested by most doleful cries at the
house ; and presently the voice of my interpreter
was heard, calling me loudly by name. I ran at
the top of my speed, and arrived just in time to
save the life of a poor old woman, who had been
making sugar in my neighbourhood. I found the
father and two sons, both approaching manhood,
in a complete state of nudity, dancing round the
body of their victim (to all appearance dead), their
bodies besmeared with blood, and exulting in the
barbarous deed they had committed. My interpreter informed me, that as soon as they observed
the old woman approaching the house, the Christian father told his sons that now was the time to
take revenge for the death of their brother, whose
life had been destroyed by this woman's | bad
medicine." We drove the wretches away, and
carried the miserable woman into the house ; and so
d 2 64
dreadfully bruised and mangled were her head and
face, that not the least trace of her features could
be distinguished. At the end of a month she
recovered sufficiently to crawl about. Her son
passed in the spring, with an excellent hunt. When
I related to him the manner his mother had been
treated by the Indians, and the care I had taken
of her, he coolly replied that he was sure they
were bad Indians. " It was very charitable of you,"
said he, " to have taken so much care of the old
woman. Come to my wigwam next winter, and I
shall trade with you, and treat you well." In the.
meantime every skin he had went to our opponents, although he was deeply indebted to the
Company. ——-
A large canoe arrived from Montreal about the
latter end of June, by which I received orders to
proceed to Fort Coulonge, situated about eighty
miles higher up the Ottawa, to relieve the person
then in charge of that post. I accordingly em-
"barked in the same canoe, accompanied by my
young friend Mr. MacDougal, who joined me
last autumn, and who kindly volunteered to proceed along with me to my destination. This canoe
was under the charge of people hired for the trip,
and directed by the bowsman, or guide. I soon
discovered that I was considered merely as a piece
of live lumber on board.   My companion and my- 66
self were reduced to the necessity of cooking our
own victuals, or of going without them. We
pitched our tent as best we could, and packed it
up in the morning without the slightest offer of
assistance from the crew.
No incident worthy of notice occurred until
we reached the Grand Calumet Portage, the
longest on the Ottawa River. The crew slept
at the further end of the portage, whither the
canoe and part of the cargo had been carried
during the day, and we pitched our tent there
also in the usual awkward manner. The weather
was very fine in the evening, but soon after nightfall a tremendous storm burst upon us : our tent
deavoured to compose ourselves to rest underneath, but found it impracticable. We then
attempted to pitch it anew, but our strength and
ingenuity were not sufficient for the purpose. We
tried afterwards to find shelter under the canoe
(the rain pouring in torrents), but the crew were
already in possession, and so closely packed, that
not an inch was unoccupied.    Thus baffled  on MR. GODIN.
every hand, we passed the night completely exposed to the " pelting of the pitiless storm,"
learning a lesson of practical philosophy which I
have not yet forgotten.
We arrived at Fort Coulonge early the next
day, when a portly old gentleman, bearing a
paunch that might have done credit to an Edinburgh baillie, came puffing down to the landing-
place to receive us. We soon discovered that
Mr. Godin was only " nominally " in charge of
the establishment, for that his daughter, a stout,
masculine-looking wench, full thirty summers
blown, possessed what little authority was required for the management of affairs.
We arrived on Wednesday. The father proposed setting out for Montreal on Friday ; the
daughter objected the ill luck of the day : it was
finally determined that they should embark on
Thursday, however late. The necessary preparations were immediately, commenced under her
ladyship's superintendence, and being completed
late in the evening, they embarked, leaving me
perfectly alone.    The contracts with the men had AN UNCOMFORTABLE  SITUATION.
just expired, which I proposed to renew, but the
answer from one and all was, " I shall follow my
bourgeois." This was the result of the old gentleman's arrangements (having been ordered off
contrary to his wishes), and which might have
been anticipated by those who appointed me to
the situation ; but it would have been derogatory
to the exalted rank of their highnesses to bestow
any consideration on such trivial matters as related to the comfort or convenience of a paltry
apprentice ! Their neglect, however, might have
been attended on this occasion with serious conser
quences to the Company's interests, as I had never
seen any of the Indians of that quarter before,
and knew very little of their mode of trading.
It was a fortunate circumstance for myself that I
understood the language sufficiently well to converse with the natives, otherwise mj situation
would have been disagreeable in the extreme. I
remained alone until the latter end of July, when
I was joined by an English lad, whom I induced
by the promise of high wages to leave his former
employers (lumbermen) and share my solitude. MR. GODIN.
The history of my predecessor being rather
singular, a few words here regarding him may
perhaps not be considered out of place. He
commenced his career as a hired servant, or
Voyageur, as they are termed in the country,
and was thirty years of age before he knew a
letter of the alphabet. Being a man possessed
of strong natural parts, and great bodily strength
withal, he soon distinguished himself as an under
trader of uncommon tact,—his prowess as a
pugilist also gave him a very decided advantage in
the field of competition. Endowed with such qualifications, his services were duly appreciated by
the traders, and he knew full well how to turn
them to his own advantage. He served all parties
alike ; that is, he served each in turn, and cheated
and deceived them all.
After the organization of the North-West
Company, he entered their service ; and returning
to the same quarter, Temiscamingue, where he
had wintered for his last employer, he passed the
post unperceived, and falling in with a band of
Indians, whom he himself had supplied the pre-
D 3
«Hi	 1
ceding autumn, told them he still belonged to
the same party, and traded all their furs on the
spot. The North-West Company gave him charge
of a post, when his subtle management soon
cleared the country of opposition.
The natives of Temiscamingue were in those times
very treacherous, as they would be at this day,
did they not dread the consequences ; several men
had been murdered by them, and they at length
became exceedingly bold and daring in deeds of
violence. One example is sufficient :—Godin happened, on one occasion, to remain at his post
with only one man, who attended the nets,—
fish being the staff of life in that quarter.
Visiting them regularly every day to procure his
own and his master's subsistence, his return ^was
one morning delayed much beyond the usual
time. Godin felt so anxious, that he determined
on going to the fishery to learn the cause; and
just as he had quitted the house with that intention, he met an Indian who had been for some
time encamped in the vicinity, and asked him—
" I have killed a white dog this morning," was
the reply.
" Indeed ! " said Godin, feigning ignorance of
the Indian's meaning : " Pray, to whom did he
" He was a stray dog, I believe."
Conversing with him in this strain, he threw the
Indian completely off his guard, while he approached him until he was sufficiently near him
for his purpose, when, raising his powerful arm,
he struck the savage a blow under the ear that
felled him to the ground,—he fell to rise no more.
The next moment, a couple of well-disposed
Indians came to inform Godin of the murder of
his man, which it appeared they could not prevent. " My children," said he, with the utmost
composure, " the Master of life has punished
your kinsman on the spot for taking the life of
a white man ; he told me just now that he had
killed a white dog, and had scarcely finished the
sentence when he fell down dead at my feet.
Feel his body, it must be still warm ; examine it,
and satisfy yourselves that he has suffered no MR. GODIN.
violence from me, and you see that I have no
weapons about me."
Godin was soon afterwards removed to Fort
Coulonge, and was allowed a high salary by the
North-West Company. Here he learned to read
and write, and married a fair countrywoman of
his own, who resided the greater part of the time
in Montreal, where, to make the gentleman's
establishment complete, he had the good taste to
introduce his mistress. A circumstance that
presents  his character in its true colours made
lis wife acquainted with his infidelity. Writing
to both his ladies at the same time, he unwittingly
ddressed his mistress's letter to his wife, by which
she learnt, with other matters, that a present
of ten prime otters had been sent to her rival.
The enraged wife carried the letter to Mr. Thane,
from whom, however, she met with a very different reception to what she had anticipated.
After perusing the letter, he ordered her immediately out of his presence. " Begone, vile
woman!" he exclaimed: "What! would you
really wish to see your husband hanged?" MR. GODIN.
The Company were well aware of Godin's tricks,
but winked at them on account of his valuable
services. He was removed from Fort Coulonge
in consequence of mismanagement, (occasioned
by aberration of his mental faculties,) and was
allowed by the Company to retire with a pension
of 100?. per annum. The transcript of a public
letter, addressed to Mr. Thane, will show his
attainments in literature ; and with this I shall
close my sketch of Mr. Godin :—
| Monr Tane,
I Cher Monr,
" Vot letre ma té livie par Guiaume dean
aisi qui le butin tout a bon ord le Shauvages on
ben travaie set anne et bon aparans de bon retour
st. anne Dieu merci je ne jami vu tant de moustique et de maragoen com il en a st anne je pens
■ desend st anne ver le même tan com l'anne
" Je sui,
I Cher Monr, &c.
" Joseph Godin."
ix*»- 74
The Indians attached to this post speak the
Sauteux language, and are denominated " Têtes des
Boules" by the French, and " Men of the Woods"
by the other Indians. Although so near to priests
and ministers, they are still Pagans, but are nevertheless a quiet harmless race, and excellent
hunters. The greater part of them originally
belonged to Temiscamingue, and were drawn to
this quarter by Mr. Godin. A considerable number of Algonquins also trade here, where they
pass the greater part of their lives without visiting
the Lake. The people appear to me to differ in
no respect from their heathen brethren, save in the
very negligent observance of certain external forms
of worship, and in being more enlightened in the
arts of deceiving and lying.
About the middle of August, I was gratified by
the arrival of Mr. Godin's interpreter, and three
men, by whom I received letters from head-quarters, informing me that my neighbours of last
winter intended to establish posts in this quarter
also, and that I should soon be joined by a strong
reinforcement of men, to enable me to cope sue- I'EF.UNG  tow a uns 0PP0NENT8. 10
ccssfn 11 v with them.   We complain of solitude in
the Indian forests, yet the vicinity of such a
neighbour is considered the greatest evil: and
© © *
instead of cherishing the feelings enjoined in the
Decalogue, one hates his neighbour as the d 1,
and employs every means to get rid of him.
The natives having been all supplied, had taken
their departure for their hunting-grounds by the
latter end of August j I then commenced making
the arrangements requisite for the coming contest.
every satisfaction. The latter injunction I felt
very little inclination to comply with at the time ;
in fact, the slight put upon me caused my northern
blood to rise to fever heat; and in this excited
frame of mind I sat down to reply to the " great
man's" communication, in which I gave vent to
my injured feelings in very plain language. What
he may have thought of-the epistle, I know not,
as he never deigned to reply. It was inconsiderate in me, however, to have so acted; but
prudence had not yet assumed her due influence
over me.
Mr. S. had been at that time twenty-four
years in the service, I only three; he had therefore a superior claim to any I could advance :
but why not inform me at once that my appointment to the charge was merely temporary ? This
double dealing manifested a distrust of me, for
which no cause could possibly be assigned: that
excited my resentment, and not the circumstance
of being superseded.
Towards the latter end of the month of September, our opponents made their appearance in 1
three small canoes, while I embarked in pursuit
with the same number. One of my north canoes
was in charge of three men, the others contained
two, counting myself as a man. Having become
rather expert as an amateur voyageur, I considered myself capable of undertaking the leal
duty now, and accordingly volunteered my services as steersman, as no additional hand could
be spared, without great inconvenience to my
bourgeois. A little experience convinced me,
however, that my zeal exceeded my ability.
My opponent was in a light canoe, and moved
about with a celerity that my utmost exertions
could not cope with; for as soon as an Indian
canoe appeared, he paddled off for it ; I of course
attempted to compete, but generally arrived just
in time to find that he had already concluded
his transaction with the hunters.
We reached Black River on the third day from
Fort Coulonge, where it appeared my opponent's
intention to remain for some time, to await the
arrival of certain Indians who were expected
down by that river.     I determined therefore to INCREASING PERPLEXITY.
despatch a canoe to Fort Coulonge, to acquaint
Mr. S. with the particulars above related ; and
sent back therewith such of the property as
I thought could be dispensed with at the time,
as it was quite evident we could not keep up
with our opponent in the portages with such a
quantity of baggage as we then had, and we
could obtain no information that could be depended upon as to their ultimate destination—
it might be at the distance of a hundred miles,
or only ten.
My messengers were but two days absent ;
and I was not a little mortified to learn from
them, that Mr. S., instead of attending to my
suggestions, not only returned all the property
I had sent, but nearly an equal quantity in
addition. He wrote me his reasons for doing so ;
but I felt assured that he had no other object in
view than to show me that he was the superior,
I the subordinate ; and I resolved from that
moment, to perform no more extra duty.
After continuing a fortnight at our encampment,
we again embarked, when I ordered the third man VDilT TO FOUT tëOli'J/OWOB.
in 'b': I"iv,'' canoo into my own, And tossingmy
p.'i'i'ii'- down iii.c'/un, took my station in tho
ii'i'ii'' of my canoo» A fow hours puddling
in'-I if in. ut to an old shanty in tho island of
A nnirii 11<■, wii'-i<-, to my groat j"y, I pcrcoivod
my <<ii i;i in i'ii I.  in lend I'd   In  IIX ulS winl'i   'jinn l'i;i.
w '• accordingly commonccd orocting a couplo of
in"i'■■-, a îii"i<■, and dwollinff'housOf in oloso proxi»
m 11 y i o lu m. Tbis if i hi; tno host soason of tho
y''in' for tho nativos to hunt; it was tho interest of
all parties not to molost thorn \ and wo thorofor o
omployod our timo in preparing suitable accom*
Ml' ill II I I « ll I   I'll      l.lli •   W III l.'T.
On tno completion of our airangomentSi I sot
»»iii, about tho beginning of October» on a visit to
l'm i voulongc i and on tlio day after my arrival
there wo observed a north oanoo paddling slowly
past; and distinguished tho foaturos of ovory indi*
vidua! on board through a telescope» but could
i cci i(M line no ono t i kiwi'Vit, to dear up tho doubti
tho im i '• » j>i <• i <• i was sont after thorn in a small
en m ic, with i nui i nil n inn to malco a oloso scrutiny»
I Icy HO m inner iliiicuvcrcd  I  he vvnn in  |iiir;iiiil MR. JE. MACDONELL.
than they ceased paddling. After a long confabulation he learned that they were proceeding to
Sault St. Marie, where they intended to settle.
I passed two days with my bourgeois, and
returned home, where we—our opponents and
ourselves—watched each other's movements, being
our only occupation until the end of November,
when Mr. S. paid me a visit, which proved
anything but gratifying.
He (Mr. S.) had learned from some lumbermen, that the " Settlers for the Sault Ste. Marie"
were an opposition party conducted by Mr.
JEneas Macdonell, my predecessor at the Chats ;
and that he purposed to settle for the winter
near Lac des Allumettes. This gentleman's
engagement had been cancelled at the earnest
solicitation of his father, whom death had lately
deprived of another son ; and who now, to requite
the favour granted to him by the Company, sent
this son in opposition! We had barely a sufficient number of men to perform the necessary
duties of the two posts already established ; we
were, therefore, completely at a loss to meet this
|JJ£AJ 82
emergency.    Mr. S. could spare one man  only
from his own post, whom he brought up to me.
I embarked early next morning with one of
my own men, in search of the " settler." On
reaching Lac des Allumettes on the same evening,
our attention was arrested by the voices of
Indians, singing on an island. We immediately
pulled in for the spot, and found a large camp of
Algonquins, men, women and children, all in
a state of intoxication ; from whom I learned,
though with much difficulty, the whereabouts of
Macdonell's retreat. Quitting this disgusting
scene as speedily as possible, we resumed our
paddles, and soon afterwards discovered the opposition post. When we landed, my quondam messmate advanced to receive me, and, after a cordial
shake of the hand, kindly invited me to pass the
night with him. I gladly accepted the offer ; and
was not a little concerned to perceive that his
preparations for winter were already complete ;
a circumstance which gave him a decided advantage. Happening in the course of conversation to express my surprise  at seeing him in TACTICS.
the character of an opponent, he told me that
nothing could be farther from his intention than
to oppose the Company. He came to this quarter
for the purpose of preparing timber for the
Quebec market ; in provincial phrase, " to make
a shanty."    But I knew well enough his designs.
I started early next morning on my return,
and immediately thereafter prepared a small outfit ; and re-embarked next evening with five men
in two canoes, leaving the interpreter in charge
of the post, with one man to assist him.
Having experienced very bad weather on our
way, and consequently some delay, we did not
reach our new station until late in the evening
of the fourth day. I immediately sent back two
of the men to the interpreter, and retained three
with myself, which placed me on a par with my
opponent in point of numbers. But he was
now ready for active operations, while I had every
thing to prepare. I resolved, however, to forego
every personal comfort and convenience rather
than allow him to enjoy any advantage over me.
I accordingly assisted in erecting  a small  hut,
which I intended should serve for dwelling-house
for myself and men, trading-shop, store and all.
A couple of days after our arrival, Macdonell
was seen walking down to the water's edge with
a very cautious step, accompanied by one of his
men, bearing bis canoe, basket fashion, on one
arm, and a large bundle on the other, from which,
notwithstanding his steady pace, the jumbling
sound of liquor was distinctly heard.
" Holla, Mac, where are you going with your
" Why, I am going across to Herd's shanty, to
get my axes ground."
" My dear fellow, how can you think of risking
yourself in such a gimcrack contrivance as that ?
I must absolutely send a couple of my men along^
with you to see no accident happens to you."
Having a parcel of goods ready for emergencies
of this kind, my men started in a moment, and
embarked at the same time as my neighbour.
I continued with my only man completing my
castle ; but the earth being already hard frozen,
no  clay could be  obtained for the purpose of opponent's return. 85
plastering ; the interstices between the logs were
therefore caulked with .moss ; a large aperture
being left in the roof to serve the double
purpose of chimney and window. I had formerly
seen houses so constructed—somewhere—but let
no one dare to imagine that I allude to " my own,
my native land." Stones were piled up against
the logs, to protect them from the fire. The
timber required for floor, door, and beds, was all
prepared with the axe ; our building being thus
rendered habitable without even going to the
extent of Lycurgus' frugal laws, for the axe was
our only implement.
My opponent returned in four days, having
been at an Indian camp, not far distant, where
both he and our people traded a considerable
quantity of furs. This was our only trip by
open water. As soon as the river became icebound, we were again in motion.
To enter into minute details of our various
movements would but prove tedious ; I shall
therefore present a general sketch of our mode of
m -4
life at this period, and such occurrences as I may
consider worthy of note.
Macdonell had chosen his situation with great
judgment. The majority of the Algonquins take
their start from the Grand River at this place
•for their hunting-grounds. Some of them not
being more than a day's journey distant from us,
the joyful intelligence soon spread amongst them
that an opposition party had been established
in their neighbourhood ; they accordingly flocked
about us as soon as travelling became practicable
on the ice, and generally brought with them the
means of ensuring a friendly reception. One
party came in at this early season with all their
fall hunts, which they bartered for liquors and
provisions, and encamped close by, enjoying
themselves, until an event occurred that alarmed
them so much, (being with some reason considered
by them as a punishment for the wicked life they
had led,) that with the utmost precipitation they
struck their camp.
I was joined early in the month of January by VISIT   TO  AN  ALGONQUIN  CHIEF.
a party of men and a clerk, whom Mr. S. had
ordered, or rather " requested," from Montreal $
and having, on the day of their arrival, received
an invitation from one of our Algonquin chiefs
to pay him a trading visit, I started next day,
leaving Mr. Lane in charge, accompanied by two
men, and reached the chiefs wigwam late in the
evening. As soon as I was seated, he asked me
if I had not met the Matawin Indians. On my
replying in the negative, he informed me that
they had passed his place early in the morning,
loaded with furs, and that they expressed their
intention of proceeding to the post before they
halted. These Indians had all been supplied by
myself in autumn to a large amount ; so that the
intelligence acted on my nerves like an electric
shock. I felt much fatigued on entering the
lodge, but I now sprung to my feet, as fresh for
the journey as when I had commenced it ; and
ordering one of my men to return with me, left
the other, an experienced hand, to manage affairs
with the chief.
jlir-- MELANCHOLY death
I arrived at my post about two next morning,
when I found the Indians, some at our hut, some
at our opponent's, all of them approaching the
climax of Indian happiness, and Mr. Lane in a
state of mind bordering on distraction. Neither
he nor any of the men had ever seen any of these
Indians before, nor did they understand a word
of the language. The Indians were honest
enough, however, to give him their furs in charge
till my return; reserving only a small quantity
to dispose of at discretion. My arrival was soon
announced at my neighbour's, and brought the
whole bevy about me in an instant, only one
individual remaining behind. On inquiring into
the cause of his absence, his companions replied
that he had fallen asleep immediately after he
had supped, and that they did not wish to disturb him.
A few hours afterwards I was not a little
surprised to see my neighbour entering our hut
hurriedly, who addressed me thus :—
" My dear Mac, it is true we are .in opposition, OP  AN   INDIAN.
but no enmity exists between us. A dreadful
misfortune happened in my house last night.—
Come and see 1*
I instantly complied with his request ; proceeded to his hut, and saw the Indian who was
said to be asleep, with his eyes closed—for ever ;
a sad spectacle, for it was evident that the death
W the poor wretch had been caused by intemperance ; he was found in the morning lying on
his face, and his body already stiff. We were
both alike involved in the same awful responsibility, for the Indians drank as much at one house
as the other, though his death occurred at the
establishment of the other party. The Company \
only permit the sale of «liquors to the natives
when the presence of opponents renders it an
indispensable article of trade, as it is by this
unhallowed traffic that the petty traders realize
their greatest profit. Yet this plea of necessity,
however satisfactory it may appear, in a certain
quarter^ will not, I feel assured, be accepted in
our vindication by the world, nor hereafter in our
justification at that tribunal where worldly con- 90
siderations have no influence. Information soon
reached the camp of the calamity that had happened, which promptly silenced the clamorous
miçth that prevailed ; and the voice of mourning
succeeded—the Indians being all in good crying
trim, that is, intoxicated ; for I have never seen
an Indian shed a tear when sober.
No more liquor was traded ; the relatives of the
deceased departed with the body to the Lake of
Two Mountains,, and the other Indians started for
tij.eix hunting-grounds—thus granting us a short
respite from the arduous duties in which we had
been engaged. Whjfô the Indians remained about
US we never enjoyed a moment's refreshing rest»
our hut being crowded with them night and day,
It was at times with difficulty we could prepare
our victuals, or, when cooked, command sufficient
time to partake of a hasty meal, in the midst of
the " living mass " that environed us. AH thfe
was extremely annoying ; but other comforts, must
be added ere this picture of the life we then Jed
is complete. The motions of our opponents must
needs be attended to, at dawn of day ; each morn- AT THIS PERIOD.
ing every path was carefully examined, to ascertain that no one had started during night : these
precautions were also punctually taken by our opponents; and every stratagem that could be devised
to elude each other's vigilance put in practice, it
being the " interest " of each party to reach the
Indians alone.
UUAju _*i
When we discovered that our opponents had
outwitted us, we would despatch messengers in
pursuit ; and I need scarcely add, the same means
were resorted to by our neighbours, when inquisitive about our movements. We had now the advantage in point of numbers, being nearly two to
one ; yet it so happened that we seldom could perform a trip unattended; very frequently by a
single man against two or three—still he got his
share ; for the system of trade in this quarter does
not allow violent means being employed to obtain OUR OPPONENTS.
possession of the products of the hunt. The mode
of procedure is this :—On entering the lodge of
an Indian, you present him with a small keg of
nectar, as a propitiatory offering ; then, in sup-»
pliant tones, request payment of the debt he may
owe you, which he probably defers to a future
day—the day of judgment. If your opponent be
present, you dare not open your lips in objection
to the delay ; for you may offend his dignity, and
consequently lose all his furs. This you are aware
of, and accordingly proceed to untie your pack,
and exposing its contents to view, solicit him to
give, at least, the preference in trade. Your opponent, on the other side of the fire-place, having
also poured out his libation, imitates your example
in every respect ; and most probably he may secure
the wife, while you engage the husband as customers.
A few weeks elapsed without the arrival of any
hunters, and we were beginning to recover from
the effects of our late fatigues, when a numerous
band arrived from a considerable distance,
and encamped on the same spot that had been
e3 94
occupied by those lately noticed, and the same
riotous scenes were again enacted, although these
new comers were fully aware of the misfortune
thathad already occurred in consequence of similar
disgusting intemperance.
Among this band was a son of the principal
sachem of the Algonquins, who was acknowledged
heir apparent to his dad's verminy and who assumed the airs of a man of great consequence, in
virtue of his prospective dignity. The father bore
a respectable character ; the son was a sot. In
consideration of his furs, however, I paid him
some little attentions, though much against my
inclination. He came one evening reeling into
our hut, more than " half-seas over," having been
thus far advanced on his voyage to Elysium
through the insinuating influences of my opponent's " fire-water;" and seating himself on athreer
legged stool, close to the fire-place, he soon began
tonod ; then, losing his equilibrium, ultimately fell
at full length on the floor. I could not suppress
a smile at sight of his copper highness's prostrate
position, when springing up in a furious passion, he PLI- —
seized an axe, and proceeded to demolish the seat.
I wrested the axe from his grasp, and reprimanded
him sharply for his insolence. This exasperated
him .ta the utmost : he swore I was in league with
the stool to insult him ; but that he should be
revenged on us both before morning. Uttering
these menaces, he set out for the camp.
It so happened that a strong party of men
arrived on that evening from Fort Coulonge with
supplies, and were huddled together with myself
and my men, all under the same roof. The greater
part of them lay down to rest ; but a few still continued the vigil,, indulging in the favourite luxury
of smoking, and chatting about the enjoyments of
'* Mont-rial,"—when, all of a sudden, the dread-
inspiring war-whoop echoed through our little
hut ; the next instant the door flew off its wooden
hinges-j and feïï. with a crash on the floor, exhibiting to view the person of the Indian, standing
on the threshold, holding a double-barrelled gun
in his hand, with blackened face and his eyes
flashing fire.
The men had now all started to their feet, as 96
well as myself. The moment the eyes of the-
savage fell upon me, in the midst of the crowd, he
brought the piece to bear upon me, or at least
attempted to do so ; but I sprang upon him with
a bound, and beat the muzzle down ; instantly
the discharge followed : we then struggled for the
possession of the gun, which I quickly wrested
from his grasp ; and applying the butt end of it
gently" to his ear, laid him sprawling at my
On the discharge of the gun, I heard a voice ;
calhng out, " Mon Dieu !" and another, in a plaintive tone, exclaiming, " Ah mon garçon !" This
was all I heard distinctly, when every voice joined'
in one cry, "Tueons le crapaud;" and presently the
wretched Indian was kicked and cuffed by as many
as could press round him. I called on them to
desist—as well have spoken to the wind !—not a
soul heeded my orders. At length one of them
observed, " What occasion is there for more beating of him—the black dog is dead enough."
I looked about for the person whom I supposed
to have been wounded, in vain—the whole mass NARROW ESCAPE.
was in motion. As soon as the tumult had subsided, however, I was glad to find that no one had
received any serious injury ; the ball had grazed
the thigh of a youth (who had arrived from Montreal on a visit to his father), and lodged in a log of
the building.
The uproar occasioned by the men soon brought
the Indians from the camp about the hut; and
perceiving the apparently lifeless body stretched on
the floor, they raised a yell that was reverberated
by the surrounding hills. " Revenge ! revenge !"
shouted every savage present. We mustered too
strong, however, to permit their threats being put
into execution without great hazard to themselves;
which fact pressed itself so powerfully on their
minds, that for the present they discreetly vented
their rage in abuse, and returned to their quarters.
Satisfied by the feeble beating of the Indian's
pulse that the vital spark was not extinct, I
would not allow his kinsmen to remove him*
Towards morning, recovering the use of speech,
he inquired, in  a voice  scarcely audible, if he
llii--j ARTIFICE.
"had shed the blood of a white man?" I replied in the affirmative. " Then," said he, " it.
would have been better had you despatched me at
once, for I shall certainly be hanged."
With the view of pacifying the natives, I
deemed it advisable to represent the young man's
wound as very severe, and exercised my wits to
give my representation the semblance of truth. I
caused the young man's leg to be carefully bandaged ; and, luckily, happening to have a fresh
beaver in the house, the bandage was speedily
besmeared with its blood, and the sound patient
placed in bed, with instructions how to act his
part. The Indians returned early on the follow*
ing morning to inquire after their young chief,
and being all perfectly sober, 1 descanted on the
calamity of the 'previous night, describing my
young man's case to be of such a serious nature
as to induce the apprehension that death, or .at
least amputation of the limb, would be the consequence. In confirmation of the veracity of
this statement, the afflicted leg was. exposed to ARTIFICE.
view, while the patient's groans, which impressed
on the minds of the bystanders the conviction ot;
the pain he endured, prevented too close a
scrutiny. ,
"Alas.4" they exclaimed, "itis all very true.
Wagh ! thjs is indeed a sad business ; but the
bad fire-water is to blame for it all."
My stratagem had succeeded. Most of the
natives acknowledged the justice of the punish*
ment inflicted on their young chief, who had a
brother present, however, whose sullen countenance betrayed the vindictive feelings in his
breast, although. he maintained a profound
The Fort Coulonge party started early next
day, dragging their wounded companion on a
sled, until they were out of sight. The relatives
of the chief removed him to the camp, where he
soon recovered. All the other Indians took
their departure on the day following the affray.
Shortly afterwards we were favoured with a visit
from one whose hunting-grounds bordered on
Rice Lake,   a distance of   150 miles.     I had
iw trip to Indian's lodge.
advanced this Indian all the supplies he required
previous to Mr. Siviright's arrival, which formed
a pretty large amount. On examining the books,
he animadverted upon the advance in terms of
disapprobation, as being very imprudent to risk
so much with an Indian. Most gratified and
happy was I then to learn from the hunter that
he had sufficient to liquidate the debt, and nearly
as much more to trade. On making out his
requisition for the latter purpose, it was found
that four sleds at least would be required for
the transport of all the property. To employ
this number in one direction, however, would
leave my neighbour at liberty to prosecute his
views in another quarter without the necessary
attendance. Still, I determined on risking a
point, and securing at all hazards the valuable
prize now offered. Obtaining a piece at the
sacrifice of a paum is considered good play.
I proceeded accordingly with the Indian, accompanied by four men, all with heavily laden
sleds, with a pack of goods strapped over my
shoulders weighing  eighty  pounds.     Macdonell TRIP  TO   INDIANS LODGE.
did not follow, as the Indian gave him no encouragement. We reached the Indian's lodge on
the eleventh day from the post, when the abundant display of furs I beheld gave assurance of
being amply remunerated for my trip» There
were eleven packs of beaver piled upon a scaffold, besides some others, amounting to at least
600/. sterling» My hospitable customer detained
me two days with him to partake of his good
cheer. After settling accounts with him, to-
gether with payment of the sum he owed, seven
of the eleven packs were placed in my posses-
lion, with which I started on my return, as proud
as if I had been advanced to a share in the
We arrived at the post after an
of twenty-five days ; and I was mortified to
learn that my substitute had most stupidly
bungled affairs. A number of Indians had come
in during my absence who were considered our
best friends, and entering our hut without noticing our opponent, threw down their bundles,
thereby clearly indicating, according to the usual
custom, their intention of trading with one party
only. On the other hand, should they leave a
bundle at the door, it shows that they intend to
divide its contents between two parties. With
these particulars .the interpreter's experience ren*
dered him perfectly well acquainted, but he
" cau'd na be fasht."
It is customary when the Tndiaws arrive, to
present each with a pipe, a plug of tobacco,
and, though last, not least in their estimation^
" a dram." The usual politessse was expected;
as a matter of course on this occasion. Seeing
it was not forthcoming, the Indians demanded
it. They were answered that no instructions had
been left to that effect.
" Very well," said they, " we shall soon find
it elsewhere."   And away they went.
Maedonell received them with open arms»
His reception not only induced them to trade
every skin they had brought with them, but
they also invited him to their camp ; and he
consequently returned with his own and his
men's sleds laden with furs. AN INTERPRETER.
I learnt all these particulars from himself ;
for he and I were on as good terms as the
nature of our occupation and our relative positions would admit. I was, moreover, made acquainted through him that the Indians had
expressed regret at my absence, and that an
immense quantity of " beaver " still remained
at their camp. t
The spring was now fast approaching, the
ice so bad as to render travelling dangerous,
and but little snow on the ground. Still, I
determined on paying a visit to these Indians,
in order to retrieve the loss, if possible, sustained through the mismanagement of the interpreter. They might yet be in want of some
supplies, poor fellows ; and we were all so
anxious they should want for nothing we could
spare for their accommodation;—we, therefore,
good, humane souls, supplied them even at the
hazard of our lives. EXPEDITION TO
I set off on this trip accompanied by another
interpreter recently sent from Montreal, and one
of my men, all with heavy burdens on our backs,,
the season not allowing the use of sledges. The
second day we arrived at an Indian lodge about
half-way to the Bear's Camp, where I learned
that our opponent at the lower outpost had given
our people the slip, but had been induced to
return from the supposition that the extensive
swamp in his way was impassable, being so inundated as to present the  appearance  of a lake. THE BEAR S DEN.
Urged on, however, by youthful ardour and
ambition, I determined to make at least one
attempt ere I relinquished the enterprise ; although
I acknowledge that the idea of overcoming difficulties deemed insurmountable by an opponent,
had as much to do with the resolution as the
desire of doing my duty. Followed by my men,
I accordingly plunged in, along the margin of
the marsh ; the water reached our middle, but
we found it to decrease in depth as we proceeded,
though never below the knee. The water being
very cold, our legs soon became quite benumbed ;
nevertheless we moved onward. A certain passage
in history occurred to my mind, which records
the perseverance of a great man in a like situation.
I too persevered, though with a different object
in view. We all have our hobbies. I waded for
furs, he for glory. We occasionally" met with
large trunks of trees as we proceeded, on which
we mounted, and restored the circulation to our
limbs by stamping upon them ; and thus, after
five or six hours' painful exertion we reached dry
\MMmm 106
land, where a rousing fire and a hearty breakfast
made us soon forget the miseries of the swamp.
We reached the old bears den next evening,
who, with his party, expressed much surprise to
see me at such a season, and in recompense for
my exertions, " traded" * every article of goods
I had.
There were here seven Indians, who, notwithstanding the frequent visits that had been paid
them, in the course of the winter, by the people
of the lower posts, had still upwards of forty
packs of beaver. I got one pack, with which I
set off on my return, pleased enough. We found
•the water in the swamp so far subsided as to
permit an easy passage ; but the ice on the Grand
River was so much worse that we were compelled
to travel in the woods the greater part of the
On arriving at the post, I found the opposition '
party in active preparation for their departure*
Macdonell having received orders from his father
* ^a^ftcej-^DOuglit. ANOTHER OPPONENT.
to that effect. He embarked as soon as the navigation became practicable. Opponent as he was,
I experienced some painful sensations at parting
with biTn ; but soon had the consolation to see our
opponent at the lower post occupy his place,-^-
a measure which he ought to have adopted at
a much earlier period, as even then it gave him
a much better chance for a share of the spring
trade than below, where he might be said to be
placed between two fires. His removal, however,
enabled us to concentrate our whole strength
against him, so that he could not move a foot
without a strong party at his heels. Thus circumstanced, he chose to await the arrival of the
natives quietly at his post, and we were happy
•te follow his example.
The spring passed in a happy state of quiescence,
•which was scarcely disturbed by the arrival of the
Indians, who, this year, had all taken a fancy to
visit their ghostly fathers at the Lake,* and had,
consequently, no time to spend with us ; some
* Of the Two Mountains. 108
intending to get married, some having children
to be baptized, and some carrying their dead, in
order that the last sacred rites for the benefit of
their departed spirits might be performed upon
them. A few têtes de boules remained for some
time, but under so strict a surveillance that they
could seldom communicate with our opponents
without being observed, and the discovery subjected them to some chastisement.
I shall here relate a circumstance that occurred
at this time, as an example of the cunning of the
Indians in devising plans to evade us. Soon after
their arrival, an old squaw brought to our house
several casseaux * of sugar, and pointing out one,
which she said was left open for immediate consumption, said she would return for it presently.
She came next day and took the casseaux down
to the tent of the Algonquin chief, who had
passed the spring close by, and was now building
a canoe, preparatory to his departure for the Lake.
Soon after I went to have a chat with the chief,
* Packages made of bark. CUNNING OF THE INDIANS.
and found only his squaw at home. I observed
the casseau, and asked for what purpose it was
brought there. " Mine hostess " smiled, and answered, " You ought to know everything about it,
when it has just quitted your house and passed
the night with you. You whites pretend to be
very cunning," she continued, " but when an
Indian, or even an old squaw tries to cheat you,
your * white ' knowledge is no match for her.
Now look into that casseau, Anamatik,* and see
what is in it."
I looked, and found, instead of sugar, a very
valuable bundle of furs.
" What do you think of the sugar ? "
" Oh, it is very fine indeed ; so much finer than
any that I have, that I must take it along with
" Your white neighbour will be angry with
you, for it is left here for him.**
" Let him come to my house if he wants any."
* My Indian cognomen.
I set off with my prize, and as soon as it was
deposited in a place of safety, took up a favourable position to watch my opponent, whom I soon
perceived making for the tent with long and rapid
strides. I could not help laughing heartily at the
idea of his disappointment, when told what had
happened. The " fair deceiver," to whom the bone
of contention had belonged, soon made her
appearance with downcast looks, humbly entreating payment for her furs, and I paid her the full
amount, after lecturing her severely on the
treachery of her conduct in doing " what she willed
with her own."
My opponent embarked on the 10th «Tune,
and I immediately followed him to the lower post,
which he left in charge of one man, and then
set off for Montreal. I kept him company as
far as Fort Coulonge, where I met with a very
friendly reception from my bourgeois,—the col-:
lee ted trade of the different posts having far
exceeded his most sanguine expectations. He
set out for Montreal with returns of the value ^-"
of 5,000£. sterling, and left me in charge for the
summer at Fort Coulonge, and Mr. Lane at
the outpost. Only one family of Algonguins
passed the summer inland,—the same miscreants
that had nearly murdered the old wornan at the
Chats ; a deed which I had neither forgotten, nor
could divest myself of the feelings of indignation
it had awakened in my breast.
In the course of the summer, the interpreter
of the post being in want of some paddles, employed this exemplary father to make them, and
paid for them in rum. The quantity was so small,
however, that it only had the effect of exciting
their thirst, and they returned early in the night
for more, which was peremptorily refused. The
doors were bolted, and we retired to rest ; but
rest they ' were determined we should not have
that night; and they continued knocking at the
doors and windows, and bawling out at the top
of their lungs, " Rum,—more rum !" Until daylight next morning. I rose very early, in not
the best humour possible, and taking the key of
f2 112
the store in my hand—I know not for what
purpose—went out, and was followed by the
Indian, still demanding more rum. I told him
he should have none from me. " But I must
have some." " Then you shall go elsewhere for
it;" and without more ado, I turned him out,:
pushing him with some violence from the door.;
He fell on his face on the platform that ran in
front of the building, and leaving him there to
recover his footing at leisure, I returned towards
the dwelling-hotise ; but had scarcely reached the
end of the platform, when the yell of defiance»
" Hee-eep, hoo-aw I" resounded in my ears*
I instantly wheeled round, and found myself
face to face with the Indian. The old villain
attempted to collar me, but, enraged to madness, I now grappled with him, and with all my
might hurled him from the platform to the
I stood for a moment hesitating whether I
should strike him while down, but had little time
to deliberate,—the savage was again on his legs* A SCUFFLE,
He rushed towards a gun that stood against a fur-
press hard by; I instantly comprehended his
intention, and finding a stick at hand, in the
twinkling of an eye, I struck him a blow that laid
him senseless on the ground. Being scarcely
aware of what I was doing, I was about to repeat
the blow, when I found the uplifted weapon
seized from behind. It was Primeau, my inter*
prêter, who addressed me in a soothing' tone,
telling me I had already *' done for " the
This startling announcement restored me to
reason. Was I indeed guilty of the blood of a
fellow-creature ? The thought chilled me with
horror. I dashed the stick to the ground. It was
instantly picked up by one of his three sons,
whom the noise of the scuffle had now brought all
up ; brandishing it aloft, he aimed a blow at my
head, which I parried with my arm, the limb
dropping senseless to my side. My men, however, were now on the spot to defend me, and a
fierce scuffle took place between them and the
HT" 114
Indian's sons. Had they been the stronger party
on this occasion, my fur-trading career would
have terminated that morning. They, however,
got a sound drubbing ; while their1 wretched
father, who had been the cause of the disturbance,
lay unheeded and Unconscious on the spot where
he had fallen, not exhibiting the least sign of
t A place of temporary accommodation being
prepared by his" family, he was hotne thither on
a blanket, and I retired to my quarters in a state
of mind not easy to be described. Soon after,
the interpreter came in wfth a message from the
Indians, entreating me to come and advise with
them touching the manner in which they-should
dispose of their father's body. I went, and just as
I stepped within the camp, to the astonishment of
all present, the dead man sprang upon his feet.
Seeing me. at his. side, he exclaimed, " You shall
have cause to repent this ! " The Words were
scarcely out of his mouth, when he sank down
again, and for a period of six weeks after he ITS RESULTS.
remained as helpless as an infant. He was subsequently carried down to the Lake of Two
Mountains, where he recovered from the effects
of this castigation, to die, two years after, in a fit
of drunkenness.
Mb. Siviright arrived about the latter end
of August, accompanied by another junior clerk,
and a few days afterwards the opposition were
seen passing. I embarked with my fellow-scribe,
and arrived next day at the lower outpost, when
I was much disappointed to find my old interpreter, whom I had with me at the Chats, in the
service of our opponents. He was my Indian
tutor, and took every pains, not only to teach
me the language, but to initiate me in the mys- PERE DUCHAMP.
teries of the trade, in which he was justly con*
sidered an adept. Our opponents offered him
a high salary, which he would not accept until
he had previously made a tender of his valuable
services to the Company, whom he had faithfully
served for a period of thirty years and upwards.
He requested a small addition to his salary, which
was refused.
My regard for the worthy old man, however,
was hot in the least diminished by the circumstance of his being in opposition. Père Duchamp
and I had still our friendly tête-à-tête whenever
we had an opportunity. The autumn passed
without any incident having occurred worthy of
note, I and my opponent being occupied in the
usual way,—watching each other night and day,
chasing each other, and circumventing each other
when we could.
Late in the month of October, I was surprised
to observe a couple of middle-sized canoes, deeply
laden, put ashore at our opponent's, where the
crews, five in number, passed the night. Next
morning, as soon as they were gone, I called
F 3
,UL»u* 11$
On my old friend, who happened to be alone at
the time, to inquire about his visitors.
He demurred for a little, and at length said :
" For your sake, and to you only, would I disclose
the secret of these people's object and destination»
They called at Fort Coulonge yesterday, and gave
themselves out for a party of hunters, bound for
the Temiscamingue quarter ;—they are a partyurf
Iroquois, supplied with a valuable assortment
of goods for trade, and their destination is Lac
de la Vieille, in the very centre of the Algonquin
This was a most important piece of intell»-.
gence: some of these Indians had been supplied
at Fort Coulonge, some at my post, and all of
.them were deeply indebted at the Lake of Two
Mountains. I passed the day in the anxious
expectation of seeing Mr. S», or at least receiving
instructions from him with reference to these
people. No one coming, I resolved to proceed
to Fort Coulonge, and communicate viva voce
the information I had received.
Late in  the evening, I embarked in a small INSTRUCTIONS TO FOLLOW THEM.
«canoe, with two men, and reached the Fort at
early dawn; and rousing Mr. S. from his slumbers, I at once announced the object of my
" Well," said he, " this requires consideration :
retire to rest, and I shall think about it."
I retired accordingly, and slept till breakfast-
time, when the subject was discussed ; and his
^decision was, that I should send one of the two
young men who were at my post in pursuit of
the Iroquois, with instructions to follow them
up, until the season should be so far advanced
as merely to admit of his return by open water,
unless the Iroquois pitched their tent before
I volunteered myself to go after them with
an outfit; but no; it would be dividing our
forces, thereby allowing an advantage to our more
formidable opponents ; besides, we had not much
to apprehend from the Iroquois with their trifling
means. " Très bien," I said to myself, and set
off on my return forthwith. I of course lost
no time in executing 'the orders I had received.
My bourgeois had his opinion of the - matter,
and I had mine ; I knew that the Iroquois, when
left to themselves, would make their own prices
for their goods, and thus, even with the small
outfit they had, fleece the Indians of the principal
part of their furs.
Among the Indians whom I had supplied, was
an individual whose advances amounted to a heavy
sum. I felt extremely anxious about him, and
resolved to pay him a visit as soon as travelling
was- practicable ; meantime, Swanston, who had
been in pursuit of the Iroquois, returned from
his disagreeable voyage on the 28th November,
having learned nothing more than we already
I set off the next day, ostensibly on a
"visit to Mr. S., but really with the intention
of starting from his post on my intended " de-
rouine,"* arrived at Fort Coulonge among the
drift ice, and on the 1st December started, accompanied by the interpreter Primeau and another
man, all of us with heavy burdens on our backs.
* " Derouine,"—a trading visit to the Indians. DIFFICULTIES.
This proved the most toilsome trip I had yet
undertaken ; the smaller lakes only were passable
on the ice, and the rivers were nearly all open;
The difficulties we thus encountered necessarily
retarded our progress, and occupied so much more
time than we had calculated upon, that our provisions were nearly consumed by the time we
reached the first Indian camp, where we expected
to procure a guide to conduct us to the party we
were in search of. We succeeded in hiring a
young man, but we only obtained a small supply
of flour, the Indians having no other kind of
provision to spare.
Three days travelling brought us to the
borders of the Indian's lands, where we soon
discovered one of his early winter encampments ; had we been a few days sooner we could
have easily traced him from this spot, but the
snow, which had recently fallen to a great depth,
had nearly obliterated the marks, he had left
behind  him.*     My interpreter,  accustomed  to
* When Indians remove in winter, in passing on rivers and
lakes, they stick, at intervals, in the snow, branches of balsam, 122
" tracking," followed the scent for two days ; our
guide, discontented with the short allowance, gave
no assistance, till coming to an extensive "brûlé,"*
he was completely at fault, as no marks of any
kind could be discovered.
Our situation was now extremely critical?
we were reduced to one solitary meal of flour
and water per diem, and but a few handfuls
of this poor fare remained ; to return by the
way we came was out of the question, to
proceed to the post was in truth our only alternative, and none of us was sufficiently acquainted
with that part of the country sure of finding
it ; while the Indian, positively refusing to keep us
company any longer, turned back, and left us to
get out of our difficulties as we best could.
The interpreter proposed that another attempt
should be made to find the Indian's encampment^
and volunteered to go alone ; this proved the poor
inclining in the direction they may have gone. In the woods,
small saplings are cut or broken down ; if there is no underwood, an occasional "blaze" serves as a sign-post to the
experienced woodsman.
* "Brule," a part of the forest consumed by ■fire. LOSE OUR WAY.
fellow's zeal, but he returned to our encampment
next morning unsuccessful ; we therefore resolved
to go back, and, finding our way without much
difficulty for a couple of days, we reached the
upper end of a long portage leading to the Ottawa
River, where we encamped late in the evenings
and supped on the hope of getting to the post
next forenoon. Jjgtj|:
' We started early in the morning, the Canadian
leading, and about noon fell on fresh snow»
shoe tracks—the tracks, we supposed, of some
of our people who had come to seek us; and
feeling assured that our sufferings would terminate with the day, we pursued our route with
renovated vigour and speed ; when lo ! our encampment of the preceding night came in view,
the excitement of our minds having prevented
us from discerning our mistake, as we might
have done, sooner. The sun was still high, but
the circumstance of the encampment being already
prepared, induced us to put up there again for
the night.    It was a sad disappointment, and!
felt it as such, though I affected a gaiety that
was far from my heart; while with downcast
looks and heavy hearts my poor fellows betook
themselves to rest at a very early hour.
Next morning we set off determined to be
more cautious ; the mistake of the previous day
was ascribed to the sound of a high cascade at
the head of the rapid, which we had mistaken
for another considerably farther down ; our Canadian still acted as guide—the blind leading the
blind—and after two hours' walk we fell upon
our own tracks again ;—the poor fellow had
yielded so completely to despair, that he walked
about mechanically, scarcely knowing or caring
whither he went; he was therefore ordered to
the rear, and Primeau succeeded as leader. We
saw nothing more of our tracks, but encamped
in the evening with much the same prospects
as before. I felt extremely weak, having carried
Primeau's pack along with my own, as the old
man could scarcely move when beating the track
in the deep snow.    Having a few fresh beaver SIGHT OF  THE GRAND RIVER.
skins, 'we cut off the thicker parts about the
head and legs, and made a bouillon of them,
which we drank, and then turned in.
In the morning it became a subject of serious
debate what direction we should proceed in ;
the sky, however, having been clear the preceding evening, I observed the sun setting, and
determined in my own mind the proper course ;
both my companions differed from me, but
readily agreed to follow me. I therefore took
the lead, and was so fortunate as to discover an
old track, soon after leaving our encampment,
which we followed until it brought us in sight
of the Grand River—the long-looked for object
of our fast failing hopes. Tears of joy burst
from my eyes, as I beheld before me the wide
expanse of the noble stream ; although covered
with ice and divested of the beauties of sum»
mer, it never appeared more lovely to me. We
reached the post after night-fall ; opening the
door cautiously, I threw in my snow-shoes, then
bolting in myself, was gratified with the sight
of a table garnished with the best things the
country afforded, which my two friends had
prepared for their Christmas dinner; the sight,
however, was all that prudence allowed us for
the present to enjoy, our long abstinence rendering it necessary to confine ourselves, for a
time, to a very weak diet.
Next day I despatched a messenger to Fort
Coulonge with the narrative of my adventures;
and as soon as my strength was sufficiently recruited I set off again, accompanied by a tête
dé boule as my guide, who led us direct to the
camp of the Indian I had so long been in search
of; where I had the mortification to learn, that
On my first attempt I had returned from within
a day's journey of him, and that if I had then
succeeded in finding him, I should have secured
the whole of the valuable hunts of him and his
people, which were now in possession of the
Iroquois traders. On my return to the post
I communicated my sentiments freely to Mr. S.
in writing, regarding the oversight that had led
to consequences so injurious to the Company,
and went afterwards, at his own request, to talk ATTEMPT TO MEND IT.
over the matter with him. It was now decided
that I should go with a party of men to establish
a post against them, Le. to shut the stable-door
after the steed was stolen. To accomplish this
object supplies of every kind must be hauled
on sledges by the men, at an enormous expense,
and after all we could not furnish the means of
competing with the Iroquois with any prospect
of advantage. I however lost no time in executing the orders of my superior, and set
off with as many men as could be spared for
the purpose.
On arriving at our destination, we built a
temporary hut for our own accommodation, and
â small store for the goods; but I soon discovered that the Iroquois had not only already
secured all the Indians' furs, but had so completely ingratiated themselves with them that
we were scarcely noticed. I remained two
months in this wretched situation, and, as Mr.
S.'s instructions left me in some measure to
the exercise of my own judgment, I resolved
on transferring the honourable charge to persons 128
less sanguine than myself, and returned to my
post, where I knew my services could be turned
to better account. In returning I happened to
fall in with a small band of Indians, who ' had
not yet been visited by the Iroquois, one of
whom was the brother of the Algonquin chiefy
who had been so severely chastised the preceding winter. At his lodge I passed the night;
and was not only treated with the usual Indian
hospitality, but received a very pressing in-»
vitation to return with a supply of goods, which
he promised to trade.
Such invitations are never neglected. The
moment I arrived at my post I laid aside the
articles required by the Indians, and after one
day's rest, started, myself and two men, carrying1
everything on our backs. It being late in the
season, we encountered every possible difficulty;
on our way: the small streams overflowed, and
the ice was so bad on the rivers as to preclude
travelling on them. We were therefore under
the necessity of taking to the woods, through
a horridly rugged country, now ascending hills. VISIT AN ALGONQUIN CHIEF.
so steep that we could only scramble up their
sides by holding on by the branches and underwood, the descent on the opposite side being
equally difficult and laborious; now forcing our
way through deep ravines overgrown with
underwood, all but impervious ; sinking to
the ground at every step, and raising on our
snow-shoes a load of half-melted snow, which
strained the tendons of the legs and caused acute
Early in the morning of the sixth day we
arrived at the camp, but, to our astonishment^
neither heard the voice nor saw the form of a
human being, though there were infallible signs
that the camp was inhabited. It was the sugar
season. I entered the great man's hut with a
cautious step, and found every soul in it fast
asleep. I marked with surprise the confusion
that prevailed around,—sugar kettles upset, pots,
pans, wearing apparel, blankets, and other articles,
scattered about in every direction ;—what could
it mean?   I awoke the chief, and the mystery
was solved. He appeared to be just recovering
from the effects of the night's debauch,—the
Iroquois were in the camp. Mine host " grinnedr
horribly a ghastly smile" as he placed himself,,
rather unsteadily, in a sitting posture in his bed,
and in a hoarse tremulous voice bade me welcome,
at the same time rousing his better-half, who
appeared to be in the same happy state as himself.
A clatter ensued that soon set the whole household in motion, and I hastened to make the cusç
tomary offering of a small keg of rum to the chief,
and another of shrub to the squaw, who immediately ordered a young woman (the family
drudge) to prepare my breakfast. Meanwhile
the chief, along with two of his relatives, amusedv
himself quaffing his nectar, which evidently*
began to have its usual effects, and from the expressions I overheard, I could gather that he had
neither forgotten his brother's treatment last1
winter, nor forgiven me the part I had acted on
the occasion. I listened with affected indifference
for a time to the taunts he began to throw out,; HIS  AEUSIVE  TREATMENT.
and at last, to get rid of them, went to visit the
other huts, where I found the Iroquois preparing
for their departure; they had several parcels of
beaver, which they took no pains to conceal from
me, but there was still much more remaining.
After seeing them depart I returned to my
chief, who received me with a volley of abuse, in
which he was joined by his associates. The women,
who were sober, observing by my looks that I
was getting excited, requested me to withdraw;
I did so, but was followed by the chief to the
next hut, which I quitted immediately ; I found
myself still. pursued by the same insufferable
insolence. My philosophy being unequal to so
severe a trial, I turned upon my tormentor, and
seizing him by the throat, .dashed him to thé
ground, and left him .there speechless. I then
made for a hut a short distance apart from the
others, belonging to a tête de boule, where I
remained in quietness for about the space of
fifteen minutes ; when suddenly my Canadian
came   rushing   into   the   hut,   his   countenance
IMXU* 132
betraying the utmost alarm, and staring me wildly
in the face, he stammered out, " Les-, sauvages !
les sauvages, monsieur, prennent leurs armes!
Sauvons-nous ! Sauvons-nous ! " The Iroquois,
coming in the next instant, confirmed his report ;
but I had, in fact, been flying the whole morning,
and thought it now high time to take my stand.
My Iroquois appearing quite calm, I told him I
was determined not to stir from the spot, and
asked if he would remain with me.
" I came here for that purpose," said he, " and
shall stand by you to the last."
Our tête de boule had two guns, which he
loaded; Sabourin had his, which he promised to
use in his own defence : thus prepared, we awaited
the expected attack. The remainder of the dayr
however, passed without molestation, and after
night-fall, I sent out my trusty Iroquois to reconnoitre; he soon returned with the welcome in«*
teUigence that the Indians had all retired to rest/
We did the same.
Next morning I went to the chiefs lodge, and Iiu
found him perfectly sober ; I saluted him according to custom, which he returned with j a scowl,
repeating my Words in a contemptuous manner ;
this exasperated my yet excited feelings to the
highest degree. I felt assured that the fellow
had invited me on purpose to insult me, if not
for a worse purpose ; and, addressing him in language that plainly bespoke, my feelings, I immediately ordered my men to prepare for our
departure. He remained silent for a moment,
and then whispered in his wife's ear ; she turned
round to me, smiling, and asked if I had not
brought the goods, my men were packing up, to
trade ?
" Yes," I replied.
" Then," said she, " you must not be in such
a hurry to go away."
The husband now spoke to me in a conciliatory
tone, begging me to place all that had happened
to the account of the " fire-water," and for heaven's sake not to acquaint his father with his
conduct. 4
This I readily assented to ; we entered upon
business, and nearly all the goods I had were
exchanged for their full value in beaver. We
found the travelling much better on our return,
the small streams having subsided, and the snow
so much diminished, that we could walk without
The Iroquois passed early in spring with
eighteen Indian packs in their canoes,—each pack
might be estimated at 60/.,—our other opponent
started for Montreal about the same time as last
year, and I was ordered down to Fort Coulonge
to take Mr. S.'s place for the summer. He
returned from Montreal about the end of August,
and I was much gratified to learn from him that;
I had been again appointed to the charge of the
Chats, so that all the merit or demerit of good,
or bad management would now be entirely my
G 2
J! 136
own. A few days after, a middle-sized canoe
arrived, manned by three Canadians, with whom
I embarked for the scene of my first essay as an
Indian trader.
On arriving at the post, I was surprised to find
an old Canadian and his cara sposagm possession,
—a circumstance of which I had had no previous
intimation. This worthy pair seemed determined
to maintain their position in defiance of me ; and
not wishing to employ violent means to dispossess them if it could possibly be done otherwise, I passed the night in the hall. Having,
however, obtained possession of the outworks,'
I was determined to carry the citadel ; and, summoning the contumacious occupants into my
presence next morning, I demanded, in a peremptory tone, the immediate surrender of the keys.
" Show me your authority," said he.
" If I do not show it, you shall feel it presently!"
Seeing that I ordered my men to put my threat
into execution, Jean Baptiste assumed a more
humble attitude, and requested me, as a favour, VISIT  TO FORT  COULONGE.
to permit him to remain in the kitchen until he
could find a passage to Montreal ;—with this
request I willingly complied.
My old opponent had still a post in this
-district, ami I was directed to send a party in
opposition to him ; which being done, I remained
.quiet until the winter communication became
practicable, when I determined on paying a visit
.to my friends in the Fort Coulonge district. The
.distance being short, and my object having no
connexion with the Company's interests, I set off
on my pleasure jaunt alone. I put up the first
night at a sort of tavern just then opened by
an American at the upper end of the Chats'
Lake, the only habitation at that time in the
quarter, whence I started at early datvn, expecting to reach Fort Coulonge before night. The
lumbermen having commenced sledging their winter supplies, the road formed by these vehicles
presented a hard, smooth surface, on which I
made good speed, as I had nothing to encumber
me, save my blanket and tomahawk.
Arriving at a long bend of  the river about Pli j
2 p.m., I put on my snow-shoes to cut across the
point and meet the road again, flattering myself
that I should thus shorten the distance some two
or three miles. The weather being mild, and the
sun overcast, I was as much at a loss to find my
Way in the woods as if I had been blindfolded ;
I nevertheless continued my onward course, and
again came on the road. I proceeded in high
spirits for a considerable time, when I perceived a
man before me going in the same direction with
myself; quickening my pace I soon came up
With him, and asked him if he was bound for the
" I guess I don't know of any fort in this part
of the world," said he.
" What ! not know of Fort Coulonge, and you
so near to it ? are you not going there ? "
" I have heard of such a place," said Jonathan ;
" but I'd take a tarnation long time to get to
it, I calculate, if I followed my nose as it points
I told him who I was, whither bound, and
where I slept last night. OVERTAKE OUR OPPONENTS.
" I guess then you had better sleep there again,
.fer it is not quite three miles off."
| This was the result of making a short cut, and
I resolved to follow the long and sure road in
A shanty that had been recently occupied,
afforded me comfortable lodgings for the night,
and I arrived at Fort Coulonge about noon next
day, where I passed the night, and started for the
outpost. Here I remained two days, and would
have remained still longer, had it not been discovered one morning that our opponents were
off in the direction of my outpost on the Bonne
Chere. As the Indians in that quarter were
excellent hunters, and owed me much, I deemed
it advisable to follow them ; my friends, too, sent
an interpreter and three men along with me, for
the purpose of trading what they could on
account of their own post—chacun pour soi being
the order of the day.
We soon overtook our opponents, and I
resolved, if possible, to give them the slip by
the way.     Accordingly, when   within   a   day's journey of the establishment, I pretended to have
sprained my foot so badly, that I walked with
the greatest seeming difficulty. My -men, who
were aware of the ruse, requested me to place
my bundle on their sledges, to enable me to
keep up with them. This farce commenced in
the evening. Next morning my leg was worse
than ever, until we came on the river at about
ten miles' distance from the post. I was delighted to find but little snow upon the ice, so
that I had a fair opportunity of putting the
metal of my legs to the test, and the opposition
party having sledges heavily laden, I walked
hard, my foot on a sudden becoming perfectly
sound, in order to tire them as much as possible
before I bolted. Having apparently effected my
purpose, I set off at the top of my speed, and
aever looked behind me until I had cleared the
first long reach, when turning round, I saw a
man in pursuit about half-way across; I started
again, and saw no more of my pursuer.
On arriving  at the  post I  was   gratified to
learn that the Indians, whom I was so anxious SUCCESS.
about, had been in a few days previously, while
our opponents were off in another direction;
so that ,they had been seen by none save
our own people. Finding two men at home,
I proceeded with them to the Indian camp, and
arrived at dawn of day. I met with a very
•friendly reception, and had the good fortune to
prevail upon the Indians to deliver me their
furs upon the spot, which formed a very heavy
load for both myself and men. We met our
opponents in returning ; but though they had
ocular proof of my success, they nevertheless
went on to the camp.
Having arrived at the post, I found some
Indians there all intoxicated ; I was also mortified
to find the person in charge in the same state.
I immediately displaced him, and made over the
charge, pro tempore, to one of the men. The
conduct of my worthless deputy hurt me so much
that I could not remain another night under the
same roof with him. I therefore set off on my
return to the Chats, although already late in the
g3 -J42
'..afternoon, expecting to reach the first shanty in
:the early part of the night.
The Bonne Chere river is very rapid in the
upper part, and does not "set fast"* until late
in the season, unless the cold be very intense.
I arrived at this part soon after night-fall, and
■perceiving by the clear light of the moon the
dangers in my way, I deemed it imprudent to
proceed farther ; and having nothing to strike
fire with, I cut a few branches of balsam and
strewed them under the spreading boughs of a
large cedar, and wrapping myself up in my
blanket, lay down. The weather being mild,
I thought I could sleep comfortably without fire ;
but was mistaken. When I awoke from my first
sleep, which must have been sound, I found my
limbs stiff with cold, while my teeth chattered
violently in my head. To remain in this condition till daylight was almost certain death;
I resolved, therefore, at all hazards to find my
way to the -shanty, which might be about ten
miles distant. The light of the moon being very
bright, enabled me to avoid the openings in the
ice, and by moving on cautiously, about three
o'clock in the morning I reached the shanty ;
which belonged to a warm-hearted son of Erin,
who received me with the characteristic hospitality of his countrymen, placing before me the
best his cabin afforded, and with his own blankets
and those of his men making up a comfortable
bed, on which I slept till late in the day, and next
night in my own bed.
As the greater part of my customers wintered
in the vicinity of the outpost, and I had no longer
any confidence in the person in charge there, I resolved on passing the remainder of the winter at it
myself; I therefore requested that a person should
be sent up from the Lake of Two Mountains to
take care of the establishment during my absence.
On the arrival of this person, I proceeded to the
outpost, but shall pass over the transactions that
occurred there, being similar in all respects to
those already narrated.    One circumstance, how- ever, occurred, which, though not in my vocation,
I think worthy of notice.
Two itinerant missionaries called at the Lake of
Two Mountains and distributed a number of religious tracts among the natives, together with "a
few copies of the Gospel according to St. John, in
the Indian language. My Algonquin interpreter
happened to get one of the latter, and took much
pleasure in reading it. Towards the latter end
of the season I received a packet from my superior at the Lake, and, to my surprise, found in
it a letter with the seal of the Church affixed,
addressed to my interpreter, which I put into his
hands, and observed him perusing very attentively. Soon after he called me aside, and told
me that the letter in question conveyed a
peremptory command from the priest to destroy
the bad book he had in his possession, or else his
child that died in autumn would be denied the
rites of christian sepulture.
We are told that the age of bigotry is past :
facts like this prove the contrary.    I asked him BIGOTRY.
if he intended to obey the commands of his
ghostly father. " Not exactly," said he ; "I shall
send the book to him, and let him do with it
what he pleases ; for my part, I have read it over
and over again, and find it all good, very good ;
why the ' black coat ' should call it bad is a,
mystery to me." JOURNEY TO MONTREAL.
Early in spring I returned to the Chats, and
after the close of the trade took my departure
for Montreal, having finished my apprenticeship.
I renewed my contract for three years, and was
appointed to the charge of Lac de Sable, a post
situated hi a tributary of the Ottawa, called
Rivière aux Lièvres, two hundred miles distant
from Montreal.
I embarked on the  15th August,   1826, and
arrived at the post on the 1st September; where LAC DE SABLE—DIFFICULTIES.
I was gratified to find a comfortable dwelling-
house, and a large farm with pigs, poultry, and
cattle in, abundance. All this was very well,
but there was also a powerful opposition, and
I had experience enough to know that the enjoyment of any kind of comfort is incompatible
with the life we lead in opposition.
The difficulties of my situation, moreover, were
from various causes extremely perplexing. The
old North-West agents, acting for the Hudson's
Bay Company in Canada, had declared a bankruptcy the preceding winter ; the principal
manager having quitted the country rather pre-
eipitately, as was supposed, and forgotten to
appoint a successor ; the management devolved
in consequence upon  tie  head accountant, Mr.
C e, who, however well he might be qualified
for the duties of the situation, felt the responsibility of acting without authority to be too great,
and confined himself accordingly to such measures
only as he was confident would subject him to no
inconvenience when the day of reckoning arrived.
Meantime the business of this department sus-
i*» ■S il
tained a serious check ; the old hands of' the post,
having been tampered with by the opposition in
the course of last winter, quitted the service to
a man, and I now found the establishment to
consist of a clerk, interpreter, and one man only.
I was given to understand that three men additional would join me as soon as they could, and
that I must not expect any more ; thus our
number would be seven against twenty-two.
A disparity so. vast precluded all hopes of
maintaining the contest with advantage to the
Company or credit to myself. Fortune, however,
declared in our favour; dissensions arose in the
ranks of our opponents, clerks and men deserted,
supplies for trade ran short, and from being the
weaker party we were now the stronger.
Governor Simpson having taken up his residence at La Chine in autumn, men and goods
were furnished in abundance, and the petty
traders were made to see, ere the winter passed,
the futility of entering the lists in competition
with a Company possessing so vast resources.
Mr. MacD 1 having wintered two years at FLATTERING LETTER.
this post, and being consequently well acquainted
with the natives, I entrusted the direction of affairs
against the opposition entirely to him, and remained quietly at home, having only the few
Indians that wintered in the neighbourhood of the
post to attend to; my situation,.however, was
often far from agreeable, being frequently reduced
to the company of my pigs and poultry for weeks
together, and obliged to act as trader, cook, hewer
of wood, and drawer of water.
In the course of the winter I was favoured with
a visit from Mr. F r, to whose district this post
had just been annexed, and had the gratification
to receive, through him, a letter from Governor
Simpson, conveying, in very flattering terms, his
approbation of my conduct. I was told that I was
in the direct road to preferment—that my merits
should be represented to the Council on his arrival
in the interior—and that he should be happy to
have an opportunity of recommending me to the
Governor and Committee, when he returned to
England. We shall see, in the sequel, how these
promises were fulfilled. 150
I   embarked,   on   the  15th June,   1827,   for
Montreal, and found Mr. K h, a chief factor
in the service, at the head of affairs ; and my outfit
being prepared in a few days, I re-embarked,
taking my passage, as formerly, on board of a large
canoe, deeply laden. The last rapid and portage
on the Rivière aux Lièvres is vrithin eight miles
of the establishment, and generally takes the men
a day to pass it. Arriving at this place late in
the evening, I resolved on going on a-foot ; it
being fine moonlight, I felt confident of finding
my way without difficulty. The weather having
been immoderately hot for some time past, I had
sat in the canoe divested of my upper garments,
and thought I might, without inconvenience, dispense with them now, as I expected to reach the
house ere the night air could proveinjurious to me.
Setting off, therefore, in " light marching
order," I immediately gained the high grounds, in
order to keep clear of the underwood that covers
the banks of the river ; and just as the moon appeared above the surrounding hills, arrived on
the banks of a small stream, where I observed a LOST IN THE WOOD.
portage path sunk deep in the ground, a circumstance which proved it to be much frequented—by
whom or for what purpose I could not say, for I
had seldom passed the limits of my farm during
last winter, and was nearly as ignorant of the
topography of the environs as the first day I arrived. I had not heard of the existence of a river
in the quarter, nor did I imagine there was any ;
the conclusion I arrived at therefore was, that I
had lost my way, and that my most eligible course
was, to endeavour to find the main stream, and by
following it, retrace my course to the portage.
I soon fell on the river, but my retrograde march
proved exceedingly toilsome ; at every step I was
obliged to bend the branches of the underwood to
one side and another, or pressing them down under
my feet, force my way through by main strength :
some short spaces indeed intervened, that admitted
of an easier passage ; still my progress was so slow
"that the sun appeared before I reached the upper
end of the portage. Finding an old canoe here,
belonging to the post, I resolved on crossing to the
opposite side of the river, where I knew there was LOST IN THE  WOOD.
a path that led to the house, by which the Indians
often passed when travelling in small canoes. I
accordingly ran to the lower end of the portage for
a paddle, where I found my men still asleep ; and
having heard that the lower end of this path came
out exactly opposite to the upper end of the portage, I struck out into the woods the moment I
landed, fancying that I could not fail to discover it.
. The sun got higher and higher as I proceeded,
and I went faster and yet faster, to no purpose ;—no
path appeared ; and I at length became convinced
that.I was lost—being equally in difficulty to find
my way back to the river as forward to the post.
The weather was very sultry ; and such had been
the drought of the season that all the small creeks
were dried up, so that I could nowhere procure a
drop of water to moisten my parched lips. The
sensations occasioned by thirst are so much more
painful than those we feel from hunger, that
although I had eaten but little the preceding day,
and nothing on that day, I never thought of food.
While my inner man was thus tortured by thirst,
my outer man scarcely suffered less from another SUFFERINGS.
cause. The country through which I passed being
of a marshy nature, I was incessantly tormented
by the venomous flies that abound in such situations,—my shirt, and only other habiliment, having sustained so much damage in my nocturnal
expedition, that the insects had free access partout*
I came to the foot of a high hill about two o'clock
p.m., which I ascended, and got a very good view
of the surrounding country from its summit ; hills
and lakes appeared in every direction ; but the
sight of these objects only served to impress my
mind with the conviction, that, unless Providence
should direct my steps to the establishment, the
game was up with me. Having descended, I
sauntered about the remainder of the day, my
ideas becoming more and more bewildered, and
* There are three different kinds of these tormenting
insects, viz. the mosquito, the black-fly, and the gnat—the
latter tne same as the midge in N. Britain—who relieve each
other regularly in the work of torture. The mosquitoes
continue at their post from dawn to eight or nine o'clock, a.m.;
the black-flies succeed, and remain in the field till near sunset ; the mosquitoes again mount guard till dark, and are
finally succeeded by the gnats, who continue their watch and
incessant attacks till near sunrise. LOST IN THE  WOOD.
my strength declining; and passed the night
sometimes sitting, sometimes standing, sometimes
moving" about ;—but sitting, standing, or moving
about, subjected to the same tortures.
I endeavoured during the night to compose my
mind as much as possible ; some happy thought
might perchance suggest itself, which might lead
to my deliverance. Nor were my efforts without
some success : I called to mind the position of the
post with respect to the rising and setting ■ sun ;
another circumstance of importance also recurred
to me.
A Canadian hunter, who received his supplies^
at my post, had told me that such Indians as did
not wish to pay their debts at the post, frequently
passed unperceived by a chain of small lakes that
ran parallel to the river, and extended from Lac
de Sable to somewhere near the rapid, whence
I had taken my departure. I recollected, too,
his having mentioned that some Indian famines'
occasionally made. sugar on the borders of these
lakes, and that a good path lay from their camp
to the post.    Having passed the night in a deep
valley, the sun did not appear until lato in tho
morning, when I shaped my coune, to t lie belt
of my judgment, for the post. Two or three
hours' walk brought me to the foot of a high hill,
nearly destitute of wood on one side ; and expect*
ing that tome discovery might be made from the
top which might be of use to me, I resolved on
attempting the ascent—an undertaking of no small
difficulty in my enfeebled state. I succeeded in
gaining the top, and to my unspeakable joy, per»
(Wived a chain of lakes within about two miles
of me, exactly corresponding to the description
given me by the Canadian hunter. I also heard
the reports of guns, but so indistinctly that I
could not determine the direction the report came
from. Noting with the utmost care the course
that would lead me to the lakes, I descended the
steep declivity with a, degree of speed that surprised myself,—such is the powerful influence the
mind exercises over the body.
I expected an hour's walk would bring me to
the lakes, but the sun being in the zenith, and
my way lying through a dense forest of pine, LOST IN THE WOOD.
I could not keep a straight course. I proceeded
onward, however, as well as reason could direct
me, and most willingly would I have exchanged
a little of that faculty for the instinct that leads
the brute creation with unerring certainty through
the pathless depths of the forest.
The sun was rapidly declining, and my hopes
with it, when suddenly I fancied I heard the
murmuring sound of running water. Could it
be really so ? "What a delightful feast I should
have! for I had passed the day, like the preceding, without a drop of water to allay my
raging thirst. I listened; the sound became
more distinct—it was no illusion. I quickened my pace, and soon came upon a charming rivulet, flowing rapidly oyer a bed of white
pebbles, its water clear as crystal. I rushed into
the midst of it, and fervently thanking the Giver
of all good, threw myself on my knees, and drank
draught after draught till my thirst was quenched.
I felt refreshed to an extraordinary degree, and
concluding that the stream would lead me to the
river, or to  some lake communicating with it, THUNDER STORM.
I followed its course, wading' in the water that
there might be " no mistake," and soon came out
on the border of a small lake, where I had the
additional satisfaction of hearing the report of
guns so distinctly as to convince me that the
party firing them could be at no great distance:
I walked round the lake, and at its far end fell
on a portage path that soon conducted me to
another lake. This, then, must be the chain of
lakes I was in search of I I was transported at
the thought.
But an incident soon occurred that served
to damp at once my spirits and my person : a
distant peal of thunder was heard ; peal after
peal succeeded ; the heavens were obscured, and
heavy drops of rain, the harbingers of an approaching storm, fell from the dark clouds. I
strained every nerve to reach the firing party
ere the storm, should burst upon me. I reached
the foot of the hill, but the firing had ceased.
I nevertheless ascended as quickly as'my wearied
limbs would carry me, but on reaching the spot
found no one there. »i£t.
The storm now burst upon me in all its futyj,
Hash followed flash in quick succession, and the
rain fell in torrents, which, however, as the
few clothes that still adhered to my person were
already saturated by the previous rain, caused
me but little additional inconvenience. I descended to the lake, and by the time I reached
the far end of it the darkness had increased so
much, that I could proceed no farther. Perceiving an old encampment—a few half-decayed
branches of balsam, at the foot of a large hem?
lock—I took up my quarters there for the night.
The tufted branches of this tree render it a
much more secure retreat ins a thunder-storm
than the pine, whose pointed branches and
spiral shaped topi frequently attract the electric
Towards morning the storm seemed to have
expended its fury ; and, strange to say, in the
midst of it I enjoyed two or three hours' sleep.
Nature had been so exhausted by protracted
sufferings, that (though the flies were driven to
their covert) I believe I could have slept upon RIVIERE AUX LIEVRES»
a bed of thorns, covered with gnats and mosquitoes. As soon as it was sufficiently clear to
enable me' to find my way, I quitted my henaj-
lock and fell on the portage path, which soon
led me to another small lake, and which I proceeded to citeàmambulate as usual, keeping a
sharp look-out for the path that led to the
post; when suddenly the report of a gun burst
from an adjoining hill. At the same instant, I
observed a net pole standing in the water at
the bottom of a small bay close by, and directed my steps towards it; when on approaching
it I discovered a broad path ascending from the
water's edge, and immediately after the buildings
of a sugar camp. ,
Allowing the party on the hill to blaze aWay,
I followed the path, and in less than half-an-
hour came out upon the Rivière aux Lièvres, immediately opposite the house. I perceived the
men of the establishment, with some Indians,
all in a bustle ; some preparing to embark in a
canoe, others firing. I sat down to gaze for a
moment on the most interesting scene I had ever
h2 160
witnessed, and then gave a loud cry, which it.
was evident nobody heard, although the river
is not more than a stone-cast across. I made a
second effort with better success. The Indians
raised a shout of triumph ; the men hallooed,
" Le voilà I  le voilà !  Je le vois !  Je le vois à
l'autre bord ! Embarquez ! embarquez ! "
A few minutes more, and I found myself restored to at best a prolonged life of misery and
exile. Let it not be inferred from this expression that, I felt ungrateful for my deliverance ;
on the contrary, my escape from a death so.
lingering and terrible made a deep impression
upon my mind. I afterwards gave a holiday to
my men in remembrance of it, -and made them
all happy for one day. MISHAP.
BAY. ^
Nothing occurred this year out of the usual
routine, save an accident that, happened to myself, and had nearly proved fatal. A couple of
hounds had been presented to me by a friend, for
the purpose of hunting the deer that abounded
in the neighbourhood. The dogs having one
day broken loose from the leash, betook themselves to the hills ; and the first intimation we
;had of their being at liberty, was the sound of
'fheir voices in full cry on an adjacent hill. I
instantly seized my gun, and following a beaten
track that led to a small lake at the base of the
hill, I perceived a deer swimming towards an
island in the middle of the lake, and only a little
beyond the range of gun-shot. An old fishing-
canoe happening to be at hand, I immediately
launched it, and gave chase, without examining
the condition it was in. I proceeded but a short
distance, however, when I perceived that it leaked
very much. I continued, nevertheless, to paddle,
till 1 got nearly half-way across to the island;
but by this time the quantity of water in the
canoe had increased so much, that my ardour
for the chase began to give way to anxiety for
my own safety. I perceived a large hole in the
stern of the canoe, now almost level with the
surface of the lake, through which the water
gushed with every stroke of the paddle. The
fore-part appearing free from injury, I immediately inverted my position,—a movement neces-
•sarily effected with much difficulty in so small a
craft; and having thus placed myself, the stern
was consequently raised a little higher. I then
'paddled gently towards a long point projecting DEER  HUNTING.
from, the mainland, much nearer me than the
island; and although I used the utmost caution
in paddling, the canoe sunk under me some distance from the shore. The lake, however, was
fortunately shallow at this place, so that I soon
found bottom. Had there been the least ripple on
the water, I could not have escaped ; but the
weather was perfectly calm, and the lake smooth
as glass.
In the early part of next winter, I went again
in pursuit of the deer; and although I incurred
no great risk of losing my life, I yet experienced
such inconveniences as seldom fall to the lot of
amateur hunters in other parts of the world.
I left the house early in the morning, and, starting
a deer close by, gave chase, following the track
over hill and dale, until I reached a high ridge
bordering on Lac de Sable. Here the deer
slackened his pace, and appeared, by his track, to
have descended slowly into a valley, where he
remained until I started him a second time.
I still continued the pursuit, without thinking of
time or distance from the establishment.     At 164
length the night evidently began to close, and
1 felt faint and exhausted from want of food, and
the exertions I had made during the day. I
therefore gave up the chase ; but to retrace my
steps by the devious path by which I had pursued the deer, would have occupied the greater
part of thé night ; I therefore resolved on returning by a more direct course ; but the upshot was,
that, after wandering about for some time, and
repeatedly falling on my own tracks, I passed, the
night in the woods.. Although nearly overcome
with fatigue, I durst not think of lying down,
well knowing what the. consequence would be \
I therefore walked backwards and forwards, on a
beaten track, the whole night ; and next morning\
adopted the sure course of finding my way by
my tracks of the preceding day. Meeting an
Indian by the way,.who had been sent in search
of me, he led me by a short cut, and we arrived
at the house about two o'clock, p.m.
In the autumn of  1829,   another   opponent-
entered the lists against us, — an  enterprising
Canadian, who had been for a long time in the INDIAN GUIDE.
Company's service.     This adventurer proceeded
some distance  inland,  and I need scarcely say
that a party was sent to keep him company.
i Understanding that the new competitor gave our
people more trouble than had been anticipated,
I  determined on taking an active part in the
game ; and as I had only two men with me at
Lac de Sable, whose services were required there,
I set off alone, intending to  take with me an
. Indian who had an encampment by the way, as
I was unacquainted with the route.    I slept at
the Indian's wigwam, who readily accompanied
me next morning ; but the weather being intolerably cold, the poor fellow got both his ears
frozen, et aliud quidquam prœterea,  in crossing
a large lake not far from his camp.     The moment
he. perceived his mishap, he assailed me in the
most abusive   terms, and swore that he would
accompany me no farther ; which, being conscious
that I was partly the cause of his misfortune,
■ I bore with as much equanimity as I could ; and
-arriving at the opposite  side  of the lake,  we
0JUM 166
kindled a fire, and I proceeded to treat his case
according to the usual practice; that is,'rabbing
the part affected with snow, or bathing it with
cold water until it is thawed, and the circulation
restored. Having happily succeeded, I forthwith
dismissed him, and determined to find my way
alone; and having a tolerable idea of the direction in which I should go, and the weather being
clear, I entertained no doubt of falling somewhere on the river whereon the post is situated.
I came upon it, as it seemed to me, a considerable distance below the establishment, just
- as the sun was setting.
Having travelled in deep snow the whole day,
I felt so much fatigued that I could scarcely
exert myself sufficiently to keep my body warm,
the cold being intense. I walked as briskly as
my diminished strength would allow ; but at
length became so weak, that I was obliged to
lay myself down at short intervals. In this
wretched state,—my limbs benumbed with cold,
and  ihinking I should   never   see   daylight,—I DANGER FROM FROST.
jgnddenly came upon a hard beaten path: this
.inspired me with new vigour, as it indicated the
['close vicinity of a shanty. I soon discovered the
jdesired haven, and crawling up the steep bank
Ljthat led to it, I knocked at thé door with my
- snow-shoes, and was immediately admitted.
The noise I made roused the inmates, who had
been sound asleep ; and who, seeing my helpless
condition, exerted themselves in every possible
tway to relieve me. I was nearly in the last stage
of exhaustion, being unable to take off my snow-
shoes, or even articulate a word. One of these
noble woodsmen guided me next day to the post ;
when, as a small mark of gratitude for his
generous kindness, I presented him and his
companions with what is always acceptable to a
shanty-man, a liberal allowance of the "cratiiur,"
to enjoy themselves withal.
If it be asked why I did not make a fire,
when I had the necessary apparatus; I answer,
that I had but a very small axe, quite unfit
for felling so large timber as grew on the banks DISAGREEABLE ACCIDENT.
of this river ; and I was, besides, so benumbed
and exhausted as to be unequal to the task
even of lighting a fire.
Sometime after my return from Montreal in
the autumn of 1830, I went to pay a visit to one
of my customers whose lands were at a considerable distance. I was accompanied by one man
in a small canoe ; and as it was necessary that one
of us should carry the canoe over the portages,
and the other the property, I chose the former,
being the lightest though by far the most inconvenient load. I found it very oppressive at first,
but use rendered it more easy. This was the first
time I carried a canoe.
On our return from the Indian's camp we met
with rather a disagreeable accident, while ascending a small and very rapid river. In pushing
forward the canoe against the stream, my pole
happened to glance off a stone, and the canoe
swinging round came in contact with the trunk
of a tree projecting from the bank, and we, or
at least I, was upset in an instant.    Fortunately • INDIAN  QUARRELS.
the current, though strong, was smooth and free
-from whirlpools; so that, after swimming down
a short distance in search of a   landing-place,
I rejoined my companion, whom I found standing
on the bank perfectly dry.    On inquiring of him
how he happened to avoid a ducking, he told me
he sprang ashore while I was attempting to parry
xjff the tree ; doubtless his having done so was in
a great measure the cause of the accident.    He,
however, acted a very prudent part after landing,
-having caught hold of the canoe in the act of
upsetting,  and thus preserved the   goods from
being lost or damaged. Is|
In the course of this year, the Iroquois and
Algonquins   were   nearly coming  to   blows  on
account of  the  hunting-grounds.    This  quarrel
-originated from a speech which Colonel McKay,
then at the head of the Indian department, had
addressed to the Iroquois, in which, making use
of the metaphorical language of the people, he
^observed that Indians of all tribes ought to live
together in the utmost concord and amity, seeing they inhabited the same villages, "and «te out
of the same dish." This the Iroquois interpreted
in a way more suitable to their own wishes than
consistent with its real meaning. " Our father,"
said they, " tells us we eat out of the same dish
with the Algonquins;—he means that we have
an equal right to the hunting-grounds." They
proceeded, accordingly, to avail themselves of the
supposed privilege. The consequence was a very
violent quarrel, in which Government was ultimately obliged to interfere.
The Indians Informed ur, this spring, of a
dreadful murder that had been committed in the
early part of the winter by some of the natives
of Hudson's Bay. The particulars of this tale
of blood I since learned from an individual that
escaped from the massacre. The Indians attached
to the posts established along the shores of Hudson's Bay are comparatively civilized; most of
them speak English, and are employed as
voyageurs by the Company. Pew or no precautions are taken at these posts to guard against
treachery ; the gates are seldom shut, and some
of the posts are destitute of palisades or defence
of any kind. Of this description was the post
where the catastrophe occurred which I am about
to relate.
The post of Hannah Bay is situated about sixty
miles to the north of Moose Factory, and was at
this time under the charge of a Mr. Corrigal.
His establishment consisted of two or three half-
breeds, and an Indian who had been brought up
by the whites. He and some of the men had
families. In the course of the winter five Indians
came in with their " hunts," and agreeably to their
usual practice encamped close by. Those Indians
are designated " Home Guards,"-:—a term generally
applied to the Indians attached to a trading post ;
they hunt in winter at a convenient distance from
the post, and are employed in summer as voyageurs, or in performing any other necessary duty.
Notwithstanding their thus being frequently in
company with white men and Christians, they still
retain many of the barbarous habits, and much l'fil
172                      THE  "HOME  GUARDS."
of the superstitious belief of their forefathers,
aggravated, I regret to say, by some of the vices
of the whites.
Among the number of those just mentioned
was an individual who had acquired considerable influence among his tribe, from his pretending to be skilled in the art of divinationT
This man told his fellows that he had had â
communication from the Great Spirit, who assured
him that he would become the greatest man in
Hudson's Bay if he only followed the course prescribed to him, which was, first, to cut off their
own trading post, and then with the spoil got
there to hire other Indians, who should assist in
destroying all the other posts the Company possessed in the country. Accordingly, it was
determined to carry their design into execution,
whenever a favourable opportunity occurred.
This was not long in presenting itself. They
came one day to the establishment, and told the
people that the "man of medicine" had come for
the purpose  of performing   some   extraordinary
feat that would astonish them all. The silly
creatures- believed the story, and went to the
borders of the lake, where they observed thé
sorcerer showing off a variety of antics very much
to their amusement. The conspirators, seeing
this part of the stratagem succeed, rushed into
the house, and immediately despatched Mr. Cor-
rigal and his family. The men, hearing the
report of the guns, hastened back towards the
house. The two that first arrived were saluted
by a volley of balls j the one fell dead, the other
.fled. The third, seeing what had happened,
seized his youngest child, and also fled. Thé
murderers pursued. The poor fellow, encumbered
by the weight of his child, necessarily fell behind.
A ball from the pursuers killed the child, and
wounded him in the hand. Dropping, then, the
lifeless body, he soon came up with his fellow,
and both escaped without further injury. t  .'£
It was about noon when they began their flight.
.One of them reached Moose Factory next day
about noon, the other soon after.    The distance—*■
nearly sixty miles—travelled in so short a space
of time, may appear incredible; but fear gave
them wings, they fled for their lives and never
halted. One of them, my informant, lost all the
toes of one of his feet by the. frost.
Measures were immediately adopted to frustrate
the further diabolical designs of the Indians, as
well as to avenge the innocent blood that had
been shed. Messengers were despatched with all
possible haste to Rupert's house, the nearest post,
to give the alarm, and a party of men, under an
efficient leader, was sent to seize the murderers.
This expedition, however, proved unsuccessful,
as the Indians could not be found in that direction ; but, in the meantime, two of them who had
come to Rupert's house to " spy the land," were
seized and sent bound to Moose Factory, and one
of them was compelled to act as guide to another
party. Led by him, they approached the camp
without being perceived, and found the " man of
medicine" sitting very composedly in his tent,
surrounded by the spoils he had taken from the THEIR PUNISHMENT.
fort. He was secured, and the rest of his associates, who were absent hunting, were soon
" tracked," and secured likewise. They then all
underwent the punishment they deserved.
The fort presented a horrible spectacle. Men,
women, and children shared the same fate, and
the mangled limbs of their victims were scattered
among the articles of property which the wretches,
not being able to carry off with them, had attempted to destroy. NARROW ESCAPE.
Finding that my presence was more wanted at
the outpost than elsewhere, I resolved on taking
up my residence there for the winter lSol-32.
Our active opponent gave us much annoyance,
causing great expense to the Company, without
any benefit to himself; on the contrary, it ultimately ruined him.
While accompanying our party on a trading
excursion in the beginning of winter, I had a FALL THROUGH  THE TCE.
Very narrow escape. We were teavelling on the
Catineau, a very rapid stream, that joins the
Ottawa, a ' little below Hull. A young lad,
interpreter to the opposition, and I, had one
morning gone considerably in advance of the
others, walking smartly to keep ourselves warm,
when I suddenly broke through the ice. The
current here running strong, I should soon
have been swept under the ice, had I not, by
extending my arms upon it on either side of me,
kept my head above water. At the hazard of
his own life, my companion came to my assistance ; but the ice was too weak to admit of
his approaching sufficiently near to reach me his
hand; he therefore out a long pole, and tying
his belt to it, threw it to me ; and laying hold
OÊ-it, I dragged myself on the sound ice. But
the danger was not yet over; the weather was
intensely cold, so that my clothes were soon
frozen solid upon me, and having no means of
lighting a fire, I ran into the woods; and in order
to keep my body from being frozen into the
same mass with my clothes, continued running DANGEROUS  ADVENTURE
up and down with all my might, till the rest of
the party arrived.
I had a still more narrow escape in the month
of March ensuing. I had been on a visit to the
post under my own immediate charge, termed
head-quarters par excellence ; returning to the
post alone, I came to a place where our men,
in order to avoid a long detour occasioned by a
high and steep hill coming close to the river,
were accustomed to draw their sledges upon the
ice along the edge of a rapid. About the middle
of. the rapid, where the torrent is fiercest, the
banks of the river are formed of rocks rising almost
perpendicularly from the water's edge; and here
they had to pass on a narrow ledge of ice, between
the rock on the one side, and the foaming and
boiling surge on the other. The ledge, at no
time very broad, was now reduced, by the falling
in of the water, to a strip of ice of about eighteen
inches, or little more, adhering to the rock. The
icè, hoWever, seemed perfectly sold* ana I made
no doubt that, with caution, I should succeed in
passing safely this formidable strait. AT  A  RAPID.
The weather .having been very mild in thé
fore-part of the day, my shoes and socks had been
saturated with wet, but were now frozen hard
by the cold of the approaching night. Overlooking this circumstance, I attempted the dangerous passage; and had proceeded about halfway, when my foot slipped, and I suddenly found
myself resting with one hip on the border of
ice, while the rest of my body overhung the rapid
rushing fearfully underneath. I was now literally
in a state of agonizing suspense : to regain my
footing was impossible ; even the attempt to move
might precipitate me into the rapid.
My first thought indeed was to throw myself
in, and endeavour by swimming to reach the solid
ice that bridged the river a short distance below ;
a glance at the torrent convinced me that this
Was a measure too desperate to be attempted ;—
I should have been dashed against the ice, or
hurried beneath it by the current. But my time
was not yet come. Within a few feet of the
spot where .1 was thus suspended, in sublimis,
the rock projected a   little   outward, so as to OPPONENTS SUCCUMB.
break the force of the current. It struck me
that a new border of ice might be formed at thiâr
place, under and parallel to that on which I wast
perched;, exploring Cautiously, therefore, with a
stick which I fortunately had in my hand, all
along and beneath me, I found my conjecture
well founded ; but whether the ice were strong
enough to bear me, I could not ascertain. But
it was my only hope of deliverance ; letting myself down therefore gently, I planted my feet on
the lower ledge, and clinging with the tenacity
of a shell-fish to the upper, I crept slowly along
till I reached land.
This autumn, I had the satisfaction of seeing
all my opponents quit the field, some of whom
had maintained a long and obstinate struggle;
yet, although I had reason to congratulate myself
on their departure, as it promised me relief from
the painfully toilsome life I had led, I must do
one of the parties, at least, the justice to say,
that, in different circumstances, I should have
beheld their departure with regret. Dey and
McGilHvray carried on the contest longer than PROCEED  TO  LACHINE.
the others, and did so without showing any of
that rancorous feeling which the other petty
traders manifested towards the Company. Mac-
Gillivray and . myself, when ■ travelling together,
often shared the same blanket, and the same
kettle ; and found, that while this friendly feeling
was mutually advantageous to ourselves, it did
not in any way compromise the interests of our
employers. I parted from him, wishing him
every success in any other line of business he
might engage in.
After the removal of my competitors, I found
the time to hang heavily on my hands ; and the
ease I had so often sighed for, I now could scarcely
endure ; but I was not allowed long time to sigh
for a change. On the 5th of April an Iroquois
•came up from Montreal with a packet conveying orders to me to proceed forthwith to Lachine,
whence I should embark by the opening of the
navigation for the northern department. I was
alone at the post when these unexpected orders
came to hand, all the men being absent at the
outpost ; and as it behoved me to use the utmost
^*— nm
diligence in order to get away ere winter travelling should break up, leaving an old squaw in
charge, I set out for the outpost in quest of Mr.
Cameron, who was appointed my successor; and
on the 7th of April took my departure.
On arriving at the Grand River, I found travelling on the ice to be attended with great danger,
and several accidents had already happened; but
I had the good fortune to reach Grenville at the
head of the Long Sault in safety ; here, however,
my farther progress was arrested for a fortnight,
the roads being impassable. I arrived at Lachine
in the end of April, and after handing in the
documents relative to my late charge, Mr. K	
told me I was at liberty to spend the intervening
time until the embarkation, where and how I
pleased. Gratified by this indulgence, I was
about to frame a speech expressive of my gratitude, when he continued,—" for, Sir, you are to
understand we do not keep a boarding-house
here." This stopped my mouth, and I reserved
my thanks for 'a future occasion ; for I could not
out feel, that being an officer of the Company, it
was robbing me of a part of my pay under the
pretext of an indulgence. Availing myself, however, of this ungenerous grant of freedom, I spent
some halcyon days in the company of relatives
most dear to me, and expected no interruption to
my enjoyment until the time appointed for the
embarkation : but a few days after I had joined
my relatives in the vicinity of Montreal, I received
a letter, commanding me, in the most peremptory
manner, to repair to Lachine,—" circumstances
not foreseen at my arrival from the interior required   my   departure   without   further   delay."
I accompanied the bearer of Mr. K 's letter,
and found, on arriving at Lachine, that I had
been appointed to conduct some of Captain Back's
party, who proved rather troublesome to him at
'Montreal, to the Chats, and there to await my
passage to the north by the Brigade.
I had now served the Hudson's Bay Company
faithfully and zealously for a period of twelve
years, leading a life of hardship and toil, of which
no idea can be formed except by those whose
hard lot it may be to know it by experience.
i2 184
How enthusiastically I had laboured for them,
may be better gathered from the foregoing narrative than from any statement I could here
make. And what was my reward? I had no
sooner succeeded in freeing my district from
opposition, than I was ordered to resign my
situation to another, who would enjoy the fruits
of my labour:—when I arrived at the Company's head-quarters to take my departure for a
remote district, I was ordered to provide for
myself until I embarked ; and when enjoying
myself in the bosom of my family, to suit the
convenience of one of their correspondents, I
was torn away from them prematurely,, and without warning,—treatment, which caused one of
them so severe a shock as nearly to prove fatal !
Before I take leave of the Montreal department, it may be well to allude more particularly
to the manners and customs of the natives. The
mode of life the Algonquins lead, while at their}
village, has been already touched upon; within
these few years a great change has taken place,
not in their morals, but in their circumstances.
ma I*—
The southern and western parts of their hunting-
grounds are now nearly all possessed by the white
•man, whose encroachments extend farther and
farther every year. Beaver meadows are now to
be found in place of beaver dams ; and rivers are
crossed on bridges formed by the hand of man,
where the labours of the beaver afforded a passage for the roving Indian and hunter only a few
years before.
Happy change, it may be said; but so say not
the Indians ; the days of happiness are gone for
^em, at least for those of the present generation ;
though I have no doubt that their posterity may,
in course of time, become reconciled to, and adopt
those habits of fife which their altered circum-
.stances may require. A few have done so already,
but many of them still remain on the most remote
parts of their lands, having no longer the means of
enjoying themselves at their village, or of satisfying the avarice of priests and traders. Here
they pursue, without restraint or interruption,
the mode of life most congenial to their habits.
I have already observed, that I could discover 186
but little difference between the (so called) Chrisf-
tiàn Indians, and their unbaptized countrymen,
when beyond the surveillance of their priestsV
They practise all the superstitious rites of their
forefathers, and place implicit confidence in the
.power of magic, although they admit that the
same results cannot be obtained now, as formerly,
in consequence, as they say, " of the Cross having
come in contact with the Medicine." They have
their genii of lakes, rivers, mountains, and forests,
to whom they offer sacrifice. I was present at the
sacrifice of a beaver, made by an Algonquin to
his familiar, or " totem," in order to propitiate
him, because he had been unsuccessful in hunting.
The beaver was roasted without being skinned,
the fur only being appropriated to the spirit,
whilst the flesh afforded a luxurious feast to the
sacrificer ; and in this part of the ceremony I
willingly participated.
When any of them is taken ill, the indisposition
is ascribed to the effects of " bad medicine ;" and the
person is mentioned whom they suspect of having
laid the disease upon them. Many violent deeds are THEIR   SAVAGE  NOTIONS.
committed to revenge these supposed injuries. An
Algonquin, who had lost a child, blamed a tête
de boule, who was domiciled at Lac de Sable,
for his death. The ensuing spring the tête de
boule took a fancy to visit the Lake of Two.
Mountains, and set off in company with the
On arrival of the party at the Grand River,
he who had lost his child invited the tête de
boule to his tent, and entertained him in the
most friendly manner for a time, then suddenly
drawing his knife, he plunged it into the side of
his unsuspecting guest. The poor wretch fled,
and concealed himself in a pig-sty, where his
groans soon discovered him to the Algonquin,
who, again seizing him, thrust his knife into
his throat, and did not withdraw it until he
ceased to live.
" Now," exclaimed his murderer, " I am
avenged for the death of my child. You wanted
to go to the Lake to be baptized, and here I
have baptized you in your own blood."
Many other instances   might be adduced to LOVE OF  ARDENT SPIRITS.
prove that the savage disposition of these Indians'
has not been greatly ameliorated by their profession of Christianity ; they have, in fact, all the
vices with but few of the virtues of their heathen countrymen.
. They are immoderately fond of ardent spirits,
men, women and—shocking to say—children. This
hateful vice, which contributes more than any
other to the debasement of human nature, seems-
to produce more baneful effects upon the Indian,
both physically and morally, than upon the European. The worst propensities of his nature are
excited by it. While under the influence of this
demon he spares neither friend nor foe ; and in
many instances the members of his own family
become the victims either of his fury or his
The crime of incest is by no means unknown
among them ; rum, the greatest scourge and
curse of the Indian race, is undoubtedly the
principal cause of this dreadful corruption : but
is it not strange that religion should have so
little  effect in  reforming their manners ?    The
Mississagays, the neighbours of the Algonquins,
who speak the same language, were only converted a few years ago by the Methodists, and
from being the most dissipated and depraved of
Indians, are now become sober, industrious and
It seems, therefore, impossible even for the
most unprejudiced to avoid the conclusion that the
difference in manners must in a great measure
he ascribed to the different methods adopted
by the Roman Catholic and Protestant missionaries in converting the natives. The Roman Catholic convert is first baptized, then instructed
.in the forms of worship, taught to repeat Pater
nosters and Ave Marias, to make the sign of the
cross, and to confess. He is now a member of
the Church, and is dismissed to his woods—a
Christian, can we say ? The Methodists pursue
a different course. Their converts must not
only reform their lives, but give indubitable
proofs that they are reformed ; they are taught
so as to understand thoroughly the sound principles of Christianity ;  and they must give  an
account of their faith, and a reason for the hope
that is in them, before they are admitted as members of the Christian community. " The tree is
known by its fruits."
The Sachems, or chiefs of the Algonquins,
possess little or no authority, but their advice
is of some weight. There are gradations of rank
in the chieftainship ; the Kitchi Okima, or great
chief, takes precedence at the Council, and propounds the subject of discussion; the inferior chiefs
(Okimas) speak in turn, according to seniority ;
every old man, however, whether chief or not, is
allowed to give his opinion, and the general voice
of the assembly decides the question at issue.
It is seldom, however, that any question arises
requiring' much deliberation in the present times
of peace. When a party of strange Indians arrives
at the village, a council is called to ascertain
the means the community may possess of discharging properly the rites of hospitality; each
individual states the modicum he is willing to
contribute, in cash or in kind, and the proceeds,
which are always sufficient to entertain the guests a
sumptuously, according to Indian ideas, while
tiiey remain, are placed at the disposal of the
Kitchi Okima.
Councils are held and harangues delivered when
they receive their annual presents from Government ; these consist of blankets, cloth, ammunition, and a variety of small articles, all of which
in their present impoverished state are highly
valued by them. They profess an attachment
to the British Government ; but, like certain
more civilized nations, they will fight for the
cause that is likely to yield them most advantage. Their loyalty to Britain, therefore, is less
to be depended on than their hatred to America. A general idea has gone abroad regarding their taciturnity which does not accord with
my experience. Far from being averse to collo
quial intercourse, they delight in it; none more
welcome to an Indian wigwam than one who
can talk freely. They pass the winter evenings
in relating their adventures, hunting being their
usual theme, or in telling stories ; and often have INDIAN  TRADITIONS.
I heard the woods resound with peals of laughter excited by their wit, for they too are witty
in their own way.
Their tradition of the flood (kitchi a te-
soka, or "great tale,") is somewhat remarkable.
The world having been overflowed by water,
all mankind perished but one family, who .embarked in a large canoe, taking a variety of
animals along with them. The canoe floated
about for some time, when a musk-rat, tired
of its confinement, jumped overboard and dived ;
it soon reappeared, with .a mouthful of mud,
which it deposited on the surface of the water,
and from this beginning the new world was
When the veracity of an Indian is doubted,
he points to heaven with 'his forefinger, and
exclaims :—
"He to whom we belong, knows that .what I
say is true."
No white man trusts more firmly in the validity  of a solemn  oath than the Indian in. this INDIAN MORALITY.
asseveration. Still it must be confessed that
they are prone to falsehood; but they seem to
allow themselves a much greater licence in this
respect in their intercourse with the whites than
amongst themselves.
When an Indian is about to enter a wigwam,
he utters the word or sound " Quay " in a pe-
(ffiuiar tone ; the word repeated from within is
considered as an invitation to enter. Should he
neglect to announce himself in this way he is
considered as ill-bred—an unmannerly boor. The
left-hand side of the wigwam as you . enter is
considered the place of honour ; here the father
of the family and chief squaw take their station,
the young .men on the opposite side, and the
women next to the door, or at the upper end
of the fire-place, both ends being alike plebeian.
When a person of respectability enters, the father,
moving towards the door, resigns his. place to
his guest, places skins under him, and otherwise pays every attention to his comfort. They
are  extremely hospitable,  and   cheerfully share ■»*ï
their last morsel with the stranger who may be
in want. Hospitality, however, is a virtue which
civilization rarely improves.
A good hunter always leaves his lodge by dawn
of day, and seldom tastes food till he returns late
at night. Hunting beavers is a most laborious
occupation, and becomes more so in proportion
to the scarcity of these animals; for this reason,
that when a. great number of beavers occupy a
lake, their places of retreat are in closer proximity
to each other, and for the most part inhabited ;
if the number be reduced, it is likely they will
have the same places of retreat, and the hunter
must bore through the ice, before he can ascer-j
tain whether they are inhabited or not.
The sagacity of their dogs is truly surprising.
The beaver house being first destroyed by the
hunter, the dogs are urged by a peculiar call to
scent out their retreats, which they never fail to
do, whatever may be the thickness of the ice.
They keep running about the borders of the lake,
their noses close to the ground, and the moment THE INDIAN DIALECTS.
they discover a retreat, begin to bark and jump
on the ice ; the hunter then cuts a hole with
bis trench, and with a stick which he carries
along with him feels for the beaver ;. should he
find one, he introduces his bare arm into the
hole, and seizing his prey by the tail, drags it
out on the ice, where it is dispatched with a
spear. There is less danger in this operation
than one would imagine, for the beaver allows
itself to be seized without a struggle, but sometimes inflicts severe wounds on his captor after
he is taken out of the water.
When the retreat is not inhabited, the entrance
to it is barred by sticks, and the hunter proceeds to chisel again, and continues his operations
until the beaver is either taken, or shut out from
all his haunts, in which case he is compelled to
return to the house to take breath, where he is
either shot or caught in a trap.
The language of these Indians is a dialect of
the Sauteux or Bungee, intermixed with Crée,
and a few words of French derivation. The
greater part of them have a smattering of French INDIAN DIALECTS.
or English ; but the acquisition of a foreign
language is extremely difficult to them, from
the peculiar formation of their own, which wants
the letter r. An Algonquin pronounces the word
"marrow" "manno" or "mallo." Their dialect
has all the softness of the Italian, but is extremely
poor and defective.
On the £5th April, 1833, I embarked on board
of. a steamboat at Lachine, and reached Hull
on the 27th. Here the regular conveyance by
land carriages and steamboat ended, and the
•traveller in those days was obliged to wait his
passage by the canoes of shanty men, or hire a
boat or canoe for himself. I had recourse to
the latter expedient, and reached the post of
the Chats, then in charge of my esteemed friend
ffMMMmm* 198
Mr.   McD 1,   on   the  30th.     Captain Back
arrived on the 1st of May, put ashore for a few
supplies and my wards,, and immediately re-
The brigade arrived on the 2d, and the guide
delivered me a letter from Mr. K , informing
me that I was to consider myself merely as
a passenger, the command of the men being
entrusted to the guide by Governor Simpson's
orders. This arrangement relieved me of much
anxiety and trouble ; though I would rather have
preferred undergoing any personal inconvenience
to being placed under the command of an
ignorant Canadian, who might use his "brief"
authority in a way very offensive to my feelings;
without being guilty of anything that I could
complain of.
My fears, however, were disappointed, as he
showed every deference to my wishes, as well as
the utmost courtesy to the other passengers,
most of whom were of a rank not likely to find
much consideration from a Canadian boatman;
they consisted of a young priest not yet ordained, DEPARTURE  FROM LES CHATS.
an apprentice clerk, three youths who had
been at their education in Lower Canada, and
The brigade consisted of three Montreal
canoes, laden with provisions for the trip, and
some tobacco for the southern department ; and
manned by sixty Iroquois and Canadians, the
latter engaged to winter, the former for the
The day was far spent when we left the
portage of the Chats, and we encamped in the
evening near the head of the rapids. The mode
of travelling in canoes being now well known,
I shall not detail the occurrences of each day,
but confine myself to the narration of such
incidents as may be most worthy of notice
throughout the voyage. The moment we landed
the tent was pitched by men employed for the
purpose; the other men unloaded the canoes,
and carried the goods beyond high-water mark,
where it was piled and covered with oil-cloths.
It is the particular duty of the bowsman to
attend to the canoe, to repair and pitch it when
Hit-* 200
necessary, and to place it in security when the
cargo is discharged. In consideration of these
services he is exempt from the duty of loading
or unloading, his wages are higher than those
of the steersman, and he ranks after the guide.
The latter generally messes with the gentlemen,
his canoe always takes the lead in the rapids,
but in still water the post of honour is held by
the best going canoe. The guide rouses the men
in the morning; the moment the call is heard,
" Lève, lève ! " the passengers spring upon their
feet, tie up their beds, and if they are not smart
about it, the tents go down about their ears,
and they must finish the operation in the open air.
Several of our men having alreadv deserted,
we encamped upon islands, when they could be
found, or kept watch on the mainland. Our hour
of departure was three o'clock, a.m. ; when the
weather permitted we breakfasted at seven, dined
at one or two o'clock, p.m., and encamped at
sunset. In calm weather the canoes went abreast,
singing in chorus and keeping time with the,
paddles.    All was then gaiety, and, to appear-
ance, happiness; but this is one of those bright
spots in a voyageur's life which are few and far
.We reached Fort Coulonge on the 3d, and it
being late, I took up my quarters with my worthy
old bourgeois, Mr. S. Here we received some
additional supplies of provisions for the crews and
passengers. We arrived at Lac des Allumettes
on the 5th, where I put ashore merely to say
bon jour to an old acquaintance. We encamped
rather early this evening, to allow the men a little
extra rest, on account of the laborious duty they
had performed for some days before. Next day,
when ascending the rapid of Roche^ Capitaine, the
canoe in which I was passenger came in violent
contact with another; but mine only sustained
damage. The bow being stove in, the canoe began
to fill ; we however gained the shore, to which
fortunately we were close, at a leap, and lost no
time in discharging the cargo. Drying the goods
and repairing the canoe occupied us a \ good part
of the day.
We reached  the  Forks of Mattawin  on the
Uliu 202
8 th, where we found a small outpost belonging
to the Fort Coulonge district, recently established
for the purpose of securing the hunts of the
Indians of this quarter, who were in the habit
of trading with shanty men. Being no longer
under any apprehensions of the men deserting, we
now discontinued the watch and slept in comfort.
The passage of the Little River was effected
with much toil and difficulty, from the shallowness
of the water. We entered Lake Nipissing on
the 10th ; descended French River, a rapid and
dangerous stream, without accident, and entered
Lake Huron on the morning of the 12th. The
guide pointed out to me a place near the mouth
of the river where the Indians used to waylay the
canoes on their passage to and from the interior;
a sort of rude breastwork still marks the spot.
After much destruction of life and property by
the savages, they were eventually caught in their
own toil; the voyageurs, instead of descending
the river at this place, passed by land, and coming
unawares on the Indians killed them all.
We reached the post of the Cloche early on INDIANS.
the 13th, and spent two hours in the company
of Mr.  McB u,  who   entertained us   most
kindly ; and on the 14th looked in at Mississaga
post, an establishment which appeared to possess
but few attractions as a place of residence ; consisting of a few miserable log buildings, surrounded by a number of pine-bark wigwams,
the temporary residence of the natives ; several
of whom came reeling into the house after our
arrival, there being an opposition party there.
These Indians were, without comparison, the
most uncouth, savage-looking beings I ever beheld ; mouth from ear to ear, cheek-bones remarkably high, low projecting forehead, hair like a
horse's mane, and eyes red and swollen by continual intoxication. American whisky had no doubt
contributed to increaseHheir natural deformity.
After leaving this post we had a strong breeze
of adverse wind for the remainder of the day, and
encamped in consequence earlier than usual. On
the following morning we were very early roused
from our slumbers by the call of " Canot à lege,"
(hght  canoe).     Our beds were   tied up,  tents
pom» 204
packed, canoes launched and loaded in an instant*J
and we set off in pursuit of the mail, which we
overtook at breakfast time,  and found Mr. G.
K th in charge, who had just returned from
England, and was now proceeding to assume the
charge of Lake Superior district.    Mr. K th
exchanged some of his men, who were found
incapable of performing fight canoe duty, for
some of our best ; an arrangement that did not;
appear to please our guide much.
The duty which the crew of a light canoe have
to perform is laborious in the extreme, and re-:
quires men of the greatest strength and vigour!
to stand it. They are never allowed to remain
more than four hours ashore by night, often' only
two or three ; during the day they are constantly
urged on by the guide or person in command,;
and never cease paddling, unless during the few
moments required to exchange seats, or while they
take their hasty meals ashore. They are liberally
plied with grog, well paid, and well fed, and-
seldom quit the service until it is hinted to them
that the duty is become too hard for them.    A SAULT  STE. MARTE.
light canoe-man considers it quite a degradation
to be employed in loaded craft.
We arrived early on the 16th at the Company's
establishment at Sault Sainte Marie, where there
is a large depot of provisions for the purpose of
supplying the canoes passing to and from the
interior and the surrounding districts. The south
side of the river is occupied by the Americans as
a military post, and it was gratifying to see the
friendly intercourse that subsisted between the
American officers and the gentlemen in the Company's service. Would that the same good feeling were more universal between two nations of
one blood and the same language !
The rapid which unites the waters of Lakes
Huron and Superior is avoided by making a
portage. The carrying of the canoes and goods
to the upper end of this portage occupied the
men till about noon, when we embarked on the
" Sea of Canada," having Messrs. Bethune and
McKenzie on board as passengers. We proceeded about fifteen miles and encamped. We
were ready to embark at the usual hour next
VOL.  I. K
fMMMMM 206
morning, but being prevented by the high wind,
to make the best of the time we turned in
again, and after a most refreshing nap got up to
breakfast.  .
The weather moderating soon after, all hands
were ordered to embark, but all hands were not
there; four of them had deserted during the
night, and were not missed until the crews mustered for embarkation.
While we were holding a consultation regarding this unpleasant matter, an Indian canoe
luckily cast up, and it was determined to despatch
a party of Iroquois, conducted by a passenger in
disguise, in pursuit of the fugitives. Another
party was sent by land, and after an absence of
about three hours returned with their prisoners.
No criminals ever appeared more dejected than
they ; so humble did they seem, that they got off
with a slight reprimand.
We reached the post of Michipikoton early on
the morning of the 19th, and passed the remainder of the day waiting for despatches which
Mr. K was preparing for the interior.   We
left on the 20th, put ashore at the Pic on the 23d,
where we dined with Mr. McMurray, and after
experiencing much bad weather, adverse winds,
together with showers of snow, we reached Fort
William on the 28th, about noon.
We found the grand depot of the North-West
Company falling rapidly to decay, presenting in
its present ruinous state but a shadow of departed
greatness. It is now occupied as a petty post,
a few Indians and two or three old voyageurs
being the sole representatives of the crowded
throngs of former times. It must have been a
beautiful establishment in its days of prosperity ;
hut the buildings certainly do not appear to have
been erected with a view to durability. We here
exchanged our large Montreal canoes for those
of the North, (the former carrying seventy pack-
. ages of ninety pounds, the latter twenty-five,
exclusive of provisions ;) and each of the passengers had a canoe for his own accommodation
—an arrangement that seemed to increase in
no small degree the self-importance of some
of our number. Our guide was now obliged to
prmmmm I*W
perform the duty of bowsman, still, however,
retaining his authority over the whole brigade.
We bade adieu to FortWiUiam and its hospitable commander on the 29th.    Mr. Mel h
had supplied all our wants most liberally, but the
men were now allowed only Indian corn and a
small quantity of grease ;—a sad and unpleasing
change for poor Jean Baptiste ; but he had no
help but to submit, though not perhaps with the
utmost " Christian resignation."
Our men being now well disciplined, and our
canoes comparatively light, we sped over our way
at an excellent rate. We encamped on the
4th of June at one of the Thousand Lakes, and
the canoes were drawn up before M.Thibaud (the
priest) arrived. I was surprised to observe his
frowning aspect on landing, and ascribed it to the
circumstance of his being the " harse," or harrow,
a term of derision applied to the slowest canoe.
Calling me aside, however, he explained the cause
of his discontent, which was very different from
what I had surmised : his crew, whenever they
found themselves sufficiently far in the rear to be
out of hearing, invariably' struck up an obscene
song, alike unmindful of his presence and remonstrances; and this day had not only sung, but
indulged in conversation the most indecent imaginable. This announcement appeared to me the
more strange, that most of these young men had
never before quitted home; and I had always
understood thé authority of the priest to be, at
least, equal to that of the parent. Although,
therefore, I never had any very great reverence
for the (so-called) successors of St. Peter, I yet felt
for my fellow-traveller, and addressed the miscreants who had insulted him in terms of grave
reprehension, threatening them with severe punishment if such conduct should again be repeated.
We arrived at the post of Lac de la Pluie,
on the 8th of June ; and, after a short halt, and
carrying our impedimenta across the portage on
which the fort is situated, commenced the descent
of Lac de la Pluie river,—a beautiful stream,
running with a smooth, though strong current, and
maintaining a medium breadth of about 200 yards.
Its banks, which are clothed with verdure to the
fgSMMM 210
water's edge, recede by a gradual slope until they
terminate in a high ridge, running parallel to the
river on both sides. This ridge yields poplar,
birch, and maple, with a few pines, proving the
excellence of the soil. The interior, however, is
said to be low and swampy.
We passed the residence of an old retired servant of the Company, on the 9th, who, if I may
judge from the appearance of his farm and the
number of his cattle, must vegetate very much at
his ease.
Observing in the evening a large Indian camp,
I requested the guide to put ashore for a little.
We were received kindly, but in a manner quite
different to what I had been accustomed. The
young men were drawn up on the shore, and eyed
us with a savage fierté in their looks, returning our
salutation in a way that convinced us that we were
at length among the " wild men of the woods."
The weather being extremely hot, we found them
in almost a complete state of nudity, with only a
narrow shred of cloth around their loins. They
speak the Sauteux language ;  and I had much
difficulty in making myself understood by them.
In their physiognomy and personal appearance
they exhibit all the characteristic features of the
genuine aboriginal race ; and this party certainly
appeared, one and all, to be " without a cross ; " but
there had been long a trading post at Lac la Pluie,
and I noticed, in a neighbouring camp, a lass with
brown hair and pretty blue eyes. Where did
she get them?( After bartering some sturgeon
with the Indians, and presenting them with a
little tobacco, we parted good friends, and encamped so near them as to be annoyed the whole
night by the sound of their drum.
On the following morning we entered the Lake
of the Woods, and next morning White River, a
very violent stream, full of falls and dangerous
rapids. The portages are innumerable, and often
close together. After crossing one of these portages, we observed, with astonishment, a number
of people on the next portage, La Cave, about
pistol-shot distance from us. They proved to be
Mr. Hughes, formerly partner of the North-West
Company ; Mr. Berens, a member of Committee,
PXKB» L—»■
and suite : they were painfully situated, in conse*
quence of the loss of their bowsman, who, by
missing a stroke with his pole, fell into the rapid,
and was drowned : the steersman was saved with
great difficulty.
We got safe through this dangerous river, on
the 15th ; but two of the men had a narrow escape
in one of the • last portages. Our guide here, as
everywhere else, having a picked crew, pushed on,
and left us considerably in the rear. Approaching1
a fall, Le Bonnet, where no traces of a portage
could be discovered, the men unloaded the canoes,
and commenced carrying the goods through the
woods ; but the boute» (bowsmen and steersmen)
determined on wading down with the canoes, the
water being shallow, until they should come closé-
to the fall ; where, by lifting them across a narrow
point, they could place them in the smooth water
beneath. The attempt was made accordingly, by
the leading canoe ; but the rock over which the
current flows being smooth, and covered with a
slimy-moss, the men slipped, and were in an instant precipitated over the fall.  When we saw the
canoe rushing over the brink, with the poor fellows
clinging to it, we all concluded they had reached
the end of their voyage.    Running down to the
foot of the fall, which was about eleven feet high,
having previously ordered a canoe to be carried
across the point, and some shots to be fired to
recall the guide, who was now nearly out of sight,
I was astonished to find the canoe had not upset,
although the men had got into it, and it was half
full of water, and so near the shore that I extended my arm to lay hold of the bow.    The next
moment, however, the stern having come within
the influence of a whirlpool, it was hurried out
into the middle of the stream, and dashed with
such violence against a rock, that the crashing of
the timbers was distinctly heard from the shore.
This shock, which had nearly proved fatal to the
men, threw the canoe into an eddy, or counter-
current, which whirled it to the opposite shore,
where it was about to sink when assistance came.
In the evening, we arrived at the post of Bas
de la Rivière, in charge of an Orkney-man, by
name Clouston, who had risen from the ranks,
K 3
[M*a 214
and who, seeing what small fry he had to deal
with, treated us somewhat superciliously. Our
stock of provisions being exhausted, we applied
to Maister Clouston for a fresh supply : he granted
us what I thought very inadequate to our wants ;
but he said it was all that was allowed by the
Governor for the passage of the Lake. Here
M. Thibaud found two men with a small canoe,
who had been sent by the Bishop of Red River
to convey him to his destination, waiting his
arrival.     We parted  with   feelings   of   mutual
We left this post late on the 16th, and had
proceeded but a short distance on the Lake,
when a strong head wind compelled us to put
ashore. We now experienced constant bad
weather, never completing a day's sailing without interruption from some cause or other ; and
in consequence of these delays, it was found
necessary to curtail our allowance of provisions.
On the 20th, we pitched our tents near a camp
of Sauteux, from whom the men procured a
small quantity of sturgeon, in exchange for some CONVERSATION  WITH AN INDIAN.
articles of clothing. I was surprised to find
Indians, in a quarter so remote from those tribes
with whom I had hitherto been conversant,
speaking a dialect which I understood perfectly :
their erratic habits, and intercourse with the
Crées and Algonquins, may perhaps account for
this similarity of dialect.
I entered into conversation with a shrewd old
fellow, who had been often at Red River settlement. Among other questions, I asked him
whether he had not been baptized ?
" Baptized Î " he exclaimed ; " don't speak of
it, my brother. Baptized—that I may go to the
devil i Indians think a good Indian goes to
the good place when he dies; but the priests
send all to the evil one."
I asked him how he made that out ?
" Why, I learned it from the priests themselves. When I first went to Red River, I met
a French priest, who earnestly besought me to
be converted. I heard him attentively, and his
words had a great effect upon me ; but I had
been told there was another priest there, who
ma 216
had different thoughts about religion, • and I
thought I would go to him too. He was very
kind to me, and spoke nearly the same words
as the French priest ; so that I thought there
was no difference in their religions. He asked
me if I would be baptized ? and I told him that
I would; but I wanted to learn the French
prayer. ' Ah ! my son,' he said, f that must
not be : if you adopt that bad religion, you will
be burned for certain.' And he spoke so strong,
that I almost thought he was right. But before
I would do anything, I went to the French priest
again, and told him what the English priest said
to me ; and then said I would learn the English
prayer. ( Ah ! my son,' said he, ' if you do so,
it will lead you to perdition : all that pray after
the English manner go to the fire.' And he said
much more, and his words were very strong too;
so I saw that I could be no better by forsaking
the belief of my fathers, and I have not gone to
French or English priest since."
This is by no means a solitary case ; and it is
One of the sore evils which arise from the cor-
ruption of Christianity, and the divisions of
Christians. Nor, in the case of creeds so
opposite as' those of Protestants and Roman
Catholics—creeds as opposite as light and darkness—is it easy to point out a remedy. After
all, it is surely better for these poor Indians to
adopt some form of Christianity, however corrupt, than to remain in the darkness and debasement of heathenism. And if our missionaries
would act upon the noble maxim of the greatest
of the Apostles—" never to enter upon the sphere
of another man's labours," — consequences so
injurious would be avoided. If they have not
so much Christianity and good sense as to do
so of themselves, where there is the power, they
should be compelled to do it. The Company
have the power, but are too much occupied
with matters which they deem more momentous,
to waste a thought upon this.
JX*Md 218
High winds detained us in camp on the 21st.
The crews of two canoes, having finished their
last meal to-day, bartered some more of their
clothes for dogs. We reached a small outpost
called Berens House on the 23d, where we procured a couple of sturgeon, and a dog valued at
ten shillings, for which I gave my note of hand.
I had a preein of this cynic mutton at breakfast ;
and could not help thinking it would have made
a most appropriate and philosophical addition to
the larder of the wise man of the tub. The men,
however, having been for some time on short
commons, seemed to relish it. We supped
lightly enough on the remainder of Mr. Clouston's
bountiful supply, giving a share to the men.
After a most tedious and miserable passage,
we reached the outlet of Lake Winnipeg on the
24th, and arrived next morning at Norway House.
Here the men were liberally supplied; and I
found myself at breakfast with a number of chief
factors and chief traders, just arrived from their
respective districts, and on their way with their
valuable returns to York Factory. Captain Back
was also here, having sent on his men and baggage under the command of Dr. King, intending
himself to follow in a light canoe, after having
forwarded his despatches to Europe.
The day after my arrival, I was notified by
one of the officials, that it was arranged that
I should pass the summer here, giving such
assistance to the gentleman in charge as might
be required of me ; and that my future destination should be determined upon at York Factory.
ftVMMM 220
I now passed my time very agreeably, having
just enough employment in the day-time to keep
off ennui, and the company of several gentlemen,
and, what I thought still better, that of a fair
countrywoman,* in the evening.    I was gratified-'
to find that there existed here a far greater degree
of intimacy between gentlemen of différent ranks
in the service, than in the Montreal department,
where a clerk is considered as a mere hfreling j-
here, on the contrary, commissioned officers look
upon clerks as candidates for the same rank which-
themselves hold, and treat them accordingly.
The Governor, having taken up his residence
for some   years  past   in   England, crosses   the
Atlantic   once   a   year,   and   during   his brief -
sojourn, Norway House forms his head-quarters.
Here it is that the sham Council is held, and -
everything connected with the business of the -'
interior arranged.     Here also is the  depot for-"
the districts of Athabasca and McKenzie's River}-a
which supplies all the   provisions -required for
inland transport.   These provisions are furnished "
* Mistress of the establishment. .ORDERED TO NEW CALEDONIA.
by the Saskatchewan district, or are purchased
by the Company from the colonists of Red River,
who have no other customers.
The natives of this quarter speak a jargon of
Crée and Sauteux, which sounds very harshly.
They all understand English, and some of them
speak it fluently. Many of them are constantly
employed as voyageurs ; between Norway House
and York Factory ; and none perform the trip
more expeditiously, or render their cargoes in
better condition than they. Of Christianity,
they have learned just as much as enables them
to swear ; in other respects, they are still Pagans.
On the 20th of July, I received a letter from
Mr. Chief Factor Cameron, who acted as President of the Council in the Governor's absence,
conveying orders for me to proceed to New
Caledonia ; Mr. Charles being instructed to furnish me with a passage to Athabasca, and to
forward me afterwards to Fort Dunvegan, on
Peace River, where I was to wait the arrival of
the party sent annually from New Caledonia
for a supply of leather. 222
The brigade having been despatched on the
27th, Mr. C. and I embarked on the 28th, and
overtook it at the entrance of Lake Winnipeg.
The crews being ashore, and enjoying themselves,
we passed on ; but did not proceed far, ere the
wind blew so violently as to compel us to put
ashore. After a delay of about four hours, we
" put to sea " again ; and the wind gradually
abating as we proceeded, we encamped in the
evening nearly opposite to Mcintosh's Island.
This island, some years ago, presented an extensive surface of land covered with wood : there
is not now a vestige of land to be seen ; the spot
where it existed being only known to voyagers
by a shoal which is visible at low water. But
not only have the islands been swept away, but
the mainland along the west end of the lake
seems gradually being encroached upon and
engulphed by the waves ; an undeniable proof
of which is, that the old post of Norway House,
which formerly stood at a considerable distance
from the water's edge, is now close to it, and the
burial-ground is nearly all submerged. M. CONSTANT.
We arrived at the foot of Grand Rapid late
©ri the 29th of July, and passed the portage on
the 30th, assisted by the natives—Sauteux, Crées,
and half-breeds. These five luxuriously on sturgeon, with little toil. Among them I observed
two or three old Canadians, who could scarcely
be distinguished from the natives by language,
manners, or dress; such persons, when young,
having formed an attachment to some of the
Indian young women, betake themselves to their
half-savage mode of fife, and very soon cannot
be persuaded to quit it.
We arrived on the 5th of August at Rivière
du Pas, where an old Canadian, M. Constant,
had fixed his abode, who appeared to have an
abundance of the necessaries of life, and a large
family of half-Indians, who seemed to claim him
as their sire. We breakfasted sumptuously on
fish and fowl, and no charge was made; but a
gratuity of tea, tobacco, or sugar is always given ;
so that M. Constant loses nothing by his considerate attentions to his visitors.
We reached Cumberland House on the 8th.
I 224
Here I was cheered by the sight of extensive
corn-fields, horned cattle, pigs and poultry, which
gave the place more the appearance of a farm
in. the civilized world, than of a trading post in
the far North-West; and I could not help
envying the happy lot of its tenant, and contrasting . it with my own, which led me to the
wilds of New Caledonia—to fare like a dog, without knowing how long my exile might be
We arrived at the post of Isle à la Crosse,
where we were detained a day in consequence
of bad weather. This post is also surrounded by
cultivated .fields, and I observed a few cattle;
but the voice of the grunter was not heard.
The Indians who frequent this post are chiefly
Chippeweyans, with a few families of Crées. The
former differ in features, language, and manners
from any I had yet seen. Their face is of
a peculiar mould, broad ; the cheekbone remarkably prominent, chin small, mouth wide, with
thick lips, the upper covered with beard; the
body strongly built and muscular.    They appear
destitute of the amiable qualities which characterise the Crées.' Whenever we met any of them
on our route, and asked for fish or meat, " Budt
hoola,"* was the invariable answer; yet no
Indians were ever more importunate than they
in begging for tobacco. On the contrary, when
we fell in with Crées, they allowed us to help
ourselves freely, and were delighted to see us
do so, receiving thankfully whatever we gave
them in return. The features of the Crées are
not so strongly marked as those of the Sauteux,
although they are a kindred people ; yet they
are as easily distinguishable from each other, as
an Englishman from a Frenchman.
We left Isle à la Crosse on the 12th, and
without meeting with any adventure worthy of
notice, reached the end of Portage la Loche
about two o'clock p.m. of the following day, with
canoe and baggage. In this, as in every other
part of their territories, the Company use boats
for the  transport of property;   but by a very
* There is none.
judicious arrangement, much time and labour are
saved at this portage, which is said' to be twelve
miles in length. Boats are placed at the upper
and lower ends, so that the men have only to
carry across the property, which, in truth, of
itself is a sufficiently laborious operation for
human beings. The people from the district of
McKenzie's River come thus far with their
returns, and receive their outfit in boats manned
by half-breeds, who are hired at Red River for
the trip.
The prospect which the surrounding country
presents from the upper end of the portage is
very striking; and the more so from the sudden
manner in which it bursts upon the view. You
suddenly arrive at the summit of a remarkably
steep hill, where, on looking around, the first
object that attracts attention is a beautiful green
hill standing on the opposite side of the deep
glen, through which the clear Water River flows,
forming the most prominent feature of an extensive  range,  cut up   by  deep ravines, whose ATHABASCA.
sides are clothed with wood, presenting already
all the beautiful variety of their autumnal hues ;
while, at intervals, a glimpse was caught of
the river meandering through the valley. In
former times these hills were covered with herds
of buffaloes, but not one is to be seen now.
We once more proceeded -down the stream, and
arrived at Athabasca on the 21st of August,
where we found Dr. King, who had been delayed
some days repairing his boats ; Capt. Back having
proceed onwards in a light canoe to fix on a
winter residence.
Fort Chippeweyan was, in the time of the
North-West Company, next in importance to
Fort William. Besides having several detached
posts depending, immediately upon itself, and
carrying on a very extensive trade with the
Chippeweyans, (the best hunters in the Indian
country,) it served as depot for the districts of
McKenzie's River, and Peace River.
The trade of this district, although it bears
no  comparison to that  of former times, is yet
! 228
pretty extensive. It is still the depot for Peace
River, and commands the trade with the Chip-
peweyans. Trade is carried on in this quarter
solely by barter, which secures the Company from
loss, and is apparently attended with no inconvenience to the natives, who used formerly to
take their supplies on credit.
Beaver is the standard according to which all
other furs are rated ; so many martens, so many
foxes, &c, equal to one beaver. The trader, on
receiving the Indian's hunt, proceeds to reckon
it up according to this rule, giving the Indian
a quill for each beaver; these quills are again
exchanged at the counter for whatever articles
he wants. The people of this post subsist entirely on the produce of the country, fish, flesh,
and fowl, of which there is the greatest abundance. Both soil and climate are said to he
unfavourable to the cultivation of grain or vegetables ; the attempt is made, however, and sometimes with success.
I took my departure from Athabasca on thé BEAVER INDIANS.
24th of August, accompanied by Mr. Charles
Ross, who had passed the summer there as locum
tenens, and was now proceeding to assume the
charge of his own post, Fort Vermillion, where
we arrived on the 1st of September.
This post is agreeably situated on the right
bank of Peace River, having the river in front,
and boundless prairies in the rear. The Indians
attached to it are designated Beaver Indians, and
their language is said to have some affinity to
the Chippeweyan. This is, however, the only
point of resemblance between them. The Beavers
are a more diminutive race than the Chippe-
weyans, and their features bear a greater resemblance to those of the Crées. They are allowed
to be generous, hospitable and brave; and
are distinguished for their strict adherence to
Most Indians boast of the murder of white
men as a glorious exploit ; these, on the contrary,
glory in never having shed the blood of one,
although they often imbrue their hands in the
blood of their kindred ; being very apt to quarrel
among themselves, chiefly on account of their
gallantry. When an illicit- amour is detected,
the consequence is frequently fatal to one of
the parties ; but the unmarried youth, of both'
sexes, are generally under no restraint whatever.
I bade adieu to Mr. Ross, a warm-hearted1
Gael, on the 3d, and arrived at Fort Dunvegan-
on the 10th of September, then under the charge
of Mr. Mcintosh, chief factor, where I met witif
a Highland welcome, and passed the time most:
agreeably in* the company of a well educated
gentleman. The Indians here are of the same
tribe as those of Forfe Vermillion, but are not
guiltless of the blood of the whites1. This post
is also surrounded by prairies. A large farm
is cultivated, yielding in favourable seasons a
variety of vegetables and grain: but the crops
are subject to injury from» frost ; sometimes are'
altogether destroyed. When1 the wind blows for
some time from the west, it cools in its passage HEALTHINESS OP  CLIMATE.
across', the glaciers of the Rocky Mountains^ to
such a degree, that the change of temperature-"
caused: by it is   not  only severely felt in the
vitality of the mountains, but at a great distance
from them, as far even as Red River.
From the great age attained by many of the
retired servants of the Company, who pass their
lives in this country, the salubrity of the climate
may fairly be inferred. Meeting a brigade of
small canoes between Fort Vermillion and this
place, and observing an old man with a white
head and wrinkled face, sitting in the centre of
one of them, I made up to him, and after saluting him à la Française, presented him with a
piece of tobacco—the Indian letter of introduction. I inquired of him how long it was since
he had left home.
" Sixty-two years, Monsieur," was the reply ;
and as the canoes assembled around us, he
pointed out to me his sons, and his sons' sons, to
the third and fourth generation.
I heard of no malady which the white inhabitants are liable to, except the goitres ;   caused,
iJSlMS 232
it is presumed, in part by the use of snow-water,
and in part by the use of the river-water, which
is strongly impregnated with clay, so much so,
as sometimes to resemble a solution of the earth
itself. SCENERY.
Mr. Paul Fraser, a senior clerk, arrived from
Caledonia with three canoes, on the 26th of September, and on the 28th we took our departure.
Above Fort Dunvegan the current becomes so
strong that the canoes are propelled by long poles,
in using which the men had acquired such dexterity that we made much better progress than
I could have expected. As we ascended the river,
the scenery became beautifully diversified with
hill and dale and wooded valleys, through which
there generally flowed streams of limpid water.
in 234
I observed at one place a tremendous land-slip, 1
caused by the water undermining the soil. Trees
were seen in an inverted position, the branches
sunk in the ground and the roots uppermost;
others with only the branches appearing above
ground ; the earth rent and intersected by chasms
extending in every direction ; while piles of earth
and stones intermixed with shattered limbs and
trunks of trees, contributed to increase the dreadful confusion of the scene. The half of a huge
hill had tumbled into the river, and dammed it
across, so that no water escaped for some time.
The people of Dunvegan, seeing the river suddenly dry up, were terrified by the phenomenon,
but they had not much time to investigate the
cause : the river as suddenly reappeared, presenting a front of nearly twenty feet iu height, and
foaming and pushing down JRJtii tiie noise of
On the 3d of October we reached the tenantiess
Fort of St. John's, where a hfi?rid tragedy was
enacted some years ago—the commander of the
post with all his men having been cut off by the
Indians. The particulars of this atrocious deed,
as related to me by the gentleman at the head of
the district at the time, were as follows :—
It had been determined that the post of
St. John's Should be abandoned, and the establishment removed to the Rocky Mountain portage,
for the convenience of the Tsekanies, who were
excellent hunters, but who could not be well
supplied from this post, on account of the greatness of the distance. Unfortunately a quarrel
had arisen about this time between the Indians
of St. John's and the Tsekanies. The former
viewed the removal of the post from their lands
as an insult, and a measure that gave their enemies
a decided superiority over them, and they took
a very effectual method of disappointing them.
Mr. Hughes, having sent off his men with a
load of property for the new post, remained alone.
This was the opportunity the Indians sought for,
and they did not fail to take advantage of it.
The unfortunate man had been in the habit of
walking daily by the river side, and was taking
his usual promenade the day after the departure 236
of his men, when he was shot down by two of the
assassins. They then carried his body to his room
and left it, and his blood still marks the floor.
The men, altogether unconscious of the fate that
awaited them, came paddling toward the landing-
place, singing a voyageur's song, and just as the
canoe touched the shore a volley of bullets was
discharged at them, which silenced them for ever.
They were all killed on the spot. The post has
remained desolate ever since. Fort Dunvegan
was also abandoned for some years, which reduced
the natives to the greatest distress.
As soon as intelligence was received of the
catastrophe, a party of half-breeds and Crées,
under the command of one of the clerks, was
fitted out in order to inflict deserved punishment
on the murderers ; but just as the party had got
on the trail, and within a short distance of the
camp, they received orders from the superintendent to return.
These orders were no doubt, dictated by feelings
of humanity, as Mr. Mcintosh had learned that
some Indians, who were not concerned in the
murder, were in the same camp, and he was
apprehensive the innocent might be involved in
the same punishment with the guilty. The most
of them, however, were afterwards starved to
death; and the country having been abandoned
by the Company, gave the natives occasion to
remark, that the measure was dictated more by
fear of them than by motives of humanity.
The Rocky Mountains came in view on the
8th of October, and we reached the portage bearing their name on the 10th, the crossing of which
took us eight days, being fully ihirteen miles in
length, and excessively bad road, leading sometimes through swamps and morasses, then ascending and descending steep hills, and for at least
one-third of the distance so obstructed by fallen
trees as to render it all but impassable. I consider the passage of this portage the most laborious duty the Company's servants have to perform
in any part of the territory ; and, as the voyageurs
say, " He that passes it with his share of a canoe's
cargo may call himself a man."
l 3
i^ZES- 238
In the passage we came upon a large camp of
Tsekanies, Mr. Fraser 's customers. Their dialect
is similar to that of the Beaver Indians, but they
understand the Crée, which is the medium of
communication between Mr. F. and them. It
jhus appears that this language is understood
from the shores of Labrador to the f°°t of the
Rocky Mountains^
After passing the portage, the Rocky Mountains
reared their snow-clad summits all around us,
presenting a scene of gloomy grandeur, that had
nothing cheering in it. One scene, however,
struct, me as truly sublime. As. we proceeded
onward the mountains pressed closer on the river,
and at one place approgehed so near that the gap
seemed to have been made by the river forcing
a passage through them. We passed in our canoes
at the base of precipices that rose almost perpendicularly above us on either side to the height
of 3,000 or 4,000 feet! After passing through
these magnificent portals, the mountains recede
to a considerable distance, the space intervening m'leod's lake.
between them and the river being a flat, yielding
timber of a larger growth than I expected to find
in such a situation.
We arrived at McLeod's Lake—Mr. Fraser's
post—on the 25th, where a number of Indians
were waiting their supplies. They received us
quite in a military style, with several discharges
of fire-arms, and appeared delighted at the arrival
of their chief. They seemed to be on the best
possible terms together—the white chief and his
red " tail." They are Tsekanies, and are reputed
honest, industrious, and faithful.
The outfit for this post is conveyed on horseback from Stuart's Lake. A more dreary situation can scarcely be imagined, surrounded by
towering mountains that almost exclude the fight
of day, and snow storms not seldom occurring,
so violent and long continued as to bury the
establishment. I believe there are few situations
in the country that present such local disadvantages; but there is the same miserable solitude
everywhere ; and yet we find natives of England,
Scotland, and Ireland devoting their lives to a 240
m'leod's lake.
business that holds forth such prospects! I remained with my new friend one day, enjoying
the comforts of his eyry, and then set off for the
goal of my long course, where I arrived on the
28th of October.
Fort St. James, the depot of New Caledonia
district, stands near the outlet of Stuart's Lake,
and commands a splendid view of the surrounding
country. The lake is about fifty miles in length,
and from three to four miles in breadth, stretching away to the north and north-east for about
twenty miles ; the view from the Fort embraces
nearly the whole of this section of it, which
is studded with beautiful islands. The western
shore is low, and indented by a number of small- 24'J
bays formed by wooded points projecting into
the lake, the back-ground rising abruptly- into
a ridge of hills of varied height and magnitude.
On the east the view is limited to a range of
two or three miles, by the intervention of a high
promontory, from which the eye glances to the
snowy summits of the Rocky Mountains in the
distant back-ground. I do not know that I have
seen anything to compare with this charming
prospect in any other part of the country ; its
beauties struck me even at this season of the
year, when nature having partly assumed her
hybernal dress, everything appeared to so much
greater disadvantage.
The Indian village is situated in a lovely spot
at the outlet of the lake, and consists of only
five or six houses, but every house is occupied
by several families. These buildings are of a
very slight and simple construction, being merely
formed of stakes driven into the ground ; a square
piece of timber runs horizontally along the top
of this wall, to which the stakes axe fastened by
strips of willow bark.   This inclosure, which is INDIAN HOUSES.
of a square form, is roofed in by placing two
strong posts at each gable, which support the
ridge pole, on which the roof sticks are placed,
one end resting on the ridge pole, and the other
on the wall, the whole being covered with pine
bark : there is generally a door at each end,
which is cut in the wall after the building is
erected. These apertures are of a circular form,
and about two and a half feet in diameter, so
that a stranger finds it very awkward to pass
through them. In effecting a passage you fiust
introduce a leg, then bending low the body you
press in head and shoulders) in this position
you will have some difficulty in maintaining
your equilibrium, for if you draw in the rest
of the body too quickly, it is a chance but you
will find yourself with your head undermost :
the natives bolt through them with the agility
of a weasel.
For some time after my arrival here, I had
very little employment, then© being a- scribe
already in the establishment, whose experience
and   industry  required no  assistance from   me. 244
I thus found myself a supernumerary—a character that did not suit me, but I was obliged;
to content myself for the present. We were
joined early in winter by some of the gentlemen
in charge of posts, when we managed to pass
the time very agreeably. Mr. D-*—-, superintendent of the district, played remarkably well
on the violin and flute, some of us " wee bodies"
could also do something in that Way, and our
musical soirees, if not in melody, could at least
compete in noise, numbers taken into account,
with any association of the kind in the British
dominions. Chess, backgammon, and whist, completed the variety of our evening pastimes. In
the daytime each individual occupied himself
as he pleased. When together, smoking, " spinning yarns" about dog racing, canoe sailing, and
Vamouri sometimes politics; now and then an
animated discussion on theology, but without
bitterness ; these made our days fly away as
agreeably as our nights, i
While   thus   pleasantly occupied,  a piece  of
intelligence   was   received,   which   caused   the THREATENED ATTACK  OF INDIANS.
breaking up of our little society, and created
some alarm. A party of seven or eight Indians
having been drowned on their way to Alexandria,
in autumn, their relatives imputed the misfortune
to the whites. " Had there been no whites at
Alexandria," said they, " our friends would not
have gone there to trade; and if they had not
gone there, they would not have been drowned :"
ergo—the white men are the cause of their
death, and the Indians must be avenged.
Nothing, however, was known of their hostile
intentions until winter, when Mr. F. had occasion
to send a man to Stuart's Lake with despatches,
who, on arriving opposite to the Indian camp,
found himself suddenly surrounded by the natives.
They advanced rapidly upon him, brandishing
their arms, and uttering horrid yells, and would
have dispatched him on the spot but for the
interference of one of themselves, who nobly
threw himself between the Canadian and the
muzzles of the guns that were levelled at him,
and beckoned him to flee.    He took to his heels 246
accordingly, and never looked behind him till he
reached the fort.  •
A little before Mr» ISsher had learned from his
home guards that an attack on the fort was intended, and that they had lieem solicited by their
neighbours to join ia it, but had refused. So
far, indeed, from wishing to injure the whites,
they consented to carry the despatches which
conveyed the information I have just mentioned.
As Mr. F. urgently requested that assistance
should be afforded Mm with as little delay as
possible, it was determined that I should forthwith proceed to Alexandria, accompanied by
Waccan, the interpreter, and eight men well
Passing Fraser's Lake and Fort George posts,
we arrived at the Indian winter camp, which we
found abandoned ; but a well beaten track led
from it in the direction of Alexandria, a circumstance which made us apprehensive that our aid
might come toolate, and prompted us to redouble
our speed.     Onr party consequently was soon
very much scattered—a most unmiUtary procedure
—which .might have proved fatal to ourselves,
while we thought of relieving our friends.,
The interpreter, myself, and two Iroquois,
^fcrajjSig the advanced guard of the gravid army,
which consisted of full six men, still considerably
in the rear, on turning a point found ourselves
immediately in front of the camp. We were
thus as much taken by surprise as those whom
we wished to surprise ; but without hesitating
a moment we rushed up the bank, and were
instautiy in the midst of the camp. The uproar
was tremendous, the Indians seized their arms
with the most threatening gestures and savage
yells, and it would have been impossible for us
to execute our orders—which were to seize the
ringleader only—without a fierce struggle and
bloodshed on both sides ; and though more resolute, perhaps, than our enemies, we were by far
the weaker party, their numbers being at least
ten to one of ours.
Happily, however, there was an  Indian (one
jg«mn- 248
of our friends) j&om Alexandria, in the camp,
who, as soon as he could make himself heard,
informed us that the affair had been already
arranged to the satisfaction of both parties. Thus
terminated our expedition, without bloodshed
and without laurels. A few days earlier it might
have been otherwise; nor was Mr. F. without
blame in neglecting to advise us of the arrangement.
We continued our course towards Fort Alexandria, and reached it late in the evening. My
unexpected appearance gave my old bourgeois
of Two Mountains an agreeable surprise. Having
eaten nothing since morning, we made sad havoc
of his beefsteaks and potatoes.
" Well, Mac," said he, " to judge from your
appetite, the air of New Caledonia seems to
agree wonderfully with you. Pray how do you
like the beef-steaks ? "
" Never tasted anything better," said I.
Next morning he requested me to accompany
him to the store, as he said, to see a hind-leg DUTIES AT  THE DESK.
of the steer which had furnished me with my
steaks. I approached it, and lo ! it was the
hind-leg of a horse ! The beef-steaks, or rather
Awse-steaks, were again presented at breakfast,
and I confess I had not the same relish for them
as at supper, but my repugnance—such is the
effect of habit—was soon overcome.
I remained a few days here for the sake of
repose, and then returned. On the approach of
spring, my fellow-subordinate, Mr. McKenzie,
dissatisfied with the service, left for the east
side of the mountains, and I took his place at
the desk, the duties of which, although by no
means harassing, left me but little leisure. The
accounts of all the posts in the district, eight
in number, were made up here; I had also to
superintend the men of the establishment, accompany them on their winter trips, and attend to the Indian trade. But even if the duty
had been more toilsome, I had every inducement to perform it cheerfully, as Mr. Dease was
one of the kindest and most considerate of men.
pns« 250
On the 6th of May Mr. Dease took his departure for Fort Vancouver, with the returns of
hit/ district, which might be valued at 11,000?.
The outfit, together with servants' wages ami'
incidental expenses, amounted1 to about 8;0Q0l.,
leaving to the Company a clear profit of about
I was appointed to the1 charge of Stuart's Lake
during the summer, with- four men' to perform' the -
ordinary duties of the eatebhshment1--making hay>
attending fo gardens, &KS A few* cattle were
introduced in 1830, and we now begati' to derive
some benefit from the produce of the dairy. Our
gardens (a term applied in1 this country to any
piece of ground under* cultivation) in former
times yielded potatoes $ nothing would' now grow
save turnips; A few carrots' and cabbages Were
this year raised Otf a piece of new ground^ which'
added to the luxuries of our table. Heaven knows,
they were much wanted, for the other fare was
scarcely fit for dogs !' In. the early part of the
season it consisted entirely of salmon, which this MODE  OF  CATCHING  SALMON.
year was of the worst quality, having been two
years in the store. A few sturgeon, however, of
enormous* size, were caught, whose flesh was the
most tender and delicious I had ever eaten, and
would have been considered a delicacy by Apicius
himself; it need not be wondered at then that
the capture of one caused universaikjoy.
The salmon' (the New Caledonian staff of life)
ascend Frazer's River- and its tributaries, from the
Pacific in immense shoals, proceeding' towards
the sources of the streams until) stopped by
shallow water. Having deposited their spawn,
their dead bodies are seen floating down the:
current in) thousands'" few of them ever return
to the sea»; and? in consequence of the old fish
perishing in tins manner, theyrfeil in this quarter
every fourth year. The natives display a good
deal of ingeniistyïiK eatcMhg them. Where the:
current and depth of water permit, they bar it:
across by means of stakes driven* into' the bottom
with much labour, and standing about six inches
* BeUuga'f*
jfl3G 252
apart; these are strongly bound to a piece of
timber, or " plate," running along the top ; stays,
or supporters, are placed- at intervals of ten or
twelve feet, the upper end bearing against the
plate so as to form an angle with the stream.
Gaps are left in the works of sufficient size to
admit the varveaux, or baskets, in which the fish
are taken. After the whole is finished, square
frames of wicker-work, called keys, are let down
against the upper side, to prevent the fish from
ascending, and at the same time to allow the
water a free passage. The keys must be kept
entirely free from filth, such as branches, leaves,
&c, otherwise the whole works would soon be
swept away. The baskets are of a cylindrical
form, about two and a half feet in diameter at
the mouth, and terminate in a point of four or
five inches. When the fishing is over, all the
materials are removed, and replaced the ensuing
year with equal labour.
To preserve the fish for future consumption
the following process is adopted.    The back being 3MS
split up, and the back-bone extracted, it is hung
by the tail for a few days ; then it is taken down
and distended on splinters of wood; these are
attached to a sort of scaffold erected for the purpose, where the fish remains till sufficiently dry
for preservation. Even in dry seasons, during
this process, the ground all round the scaffold
is thickly covered with large maggots ; but in wet
seasons the sight becomes much more loathsome,
I have already observed that the salmon fail
periodically, and the natives would consequently
be reduced to the utmost distress, did not the
goodness of Providence furnish them with a substitute. Rabbits are sent to supply the place of
the salmon ; and, singular as it may appear, these
animals increase in number as the salmon decrease, until they swarm all over the country.
When the salmon return, they gradually disappear, being destroyed or driven away by their
greatest enemy, the lynx, which first appear in
smaller, then in greater numbers ; — ooth they
and their prey disappearing together.   As to the
VOL. I. M 254
cause that induces those animals to appear and
disappear in this manner, I cannot take upon
myself to explain.
In the course of this summer one of our interpreters, a native, lost his life in rather a singular
manner. He had made a bear-trap, and wishing
to ascertain how it would work, tried his own
weight on the spring, which yielded but too
readily, and crushed him in so dreadful a manner
that he only survived his experiment but a few
hours. As he had withdrawn from the Company's
service this year, his body was disposed of after
the manner of his own people, except that it Was
buried instead of being burned ; this, however,
was the first instance of an interment, it being
-introduced through our influence in pity to the
unfortunate widows, who are exposed to the
cruellest tortures at the burning of the body. I
never beheld a more affecting scene than the
present. the coffin was lowered
into the grave, the widow threw herself upon it,
shrieking and tearing her hair, and could only be INDIAN FUNERAL  RITES.
removed by main force: several other females,
relatives of the deceased, were also assembled in
a group hard by, and evinced all the external
symptoms of extreme grief, chanting the death-
song in a most lugubrious tone, the tears streaming down their cheeks, and beating their breasts*
The men, however, even the brothers of the deceased, showed no emotion whatever, and as soon
as the rites were ended, moved off the ground,
followed by the female mourners, who soon after
were seen as gay and cheerful as if they had
returned from a wedding. The widow, however,
still remained by the grave, being obliged to do
so in conformity with the customs of her nation,
which required that she should mourn day and
night, until the relatives of the deceased should
collect a sufficiency of viands to make a feast in
honour of his bones.
As already observed, the bodies were formerly
burned ; the relatives of the deceased, as well
as those of the widow, being present, all armed ;
a funeral pile was erected, and the body placed
m 2
ïfKMS. 256
upon it.    The widow then set fire to the pile,,
and was compelled to stand by it, anointing her
breast with the fat that oozed from the body
until the heat became insupportable : when the
wretched creature, however, attempted to draw
back, she was thrust forward by her husband's
relatives at the point of their spears, and forced
to  endure the dreadful torture until either the>
body was reduced to ashes, or she herself almost
scorched to death.    Her relatives were present
merely to preserve her life ; when no longer able
to stand they dragged her away;  and this in-!
tervention often led   to bloody quarrels!    The
body being burned, the ashes were collected in
a   box   and   given   in   charge   to   the] widow,
who carried them about with her until the feast
was prepared, when they were taken from her,
and deposited in a small hut or placed upon the
top of a wooden pillar neatly carved, as their
final resting-place.
During this interval she was in a state of the
most wretched slavery ; every child in the village
might command her and beat her unmercifully
if they chose, no one interfered. After the feast,
however, she regained her freedom, and along
with that the privilege of incurring the risk of
another scorching. Our interference relieved
them from the most cruel part of the ceremony ;
the temporary state of slavery is still continued.
-—"rn 258
Mr. Dease arrived from Fort Vancouver on the
5th of September, and expressed himself highly
gratified with the appearance our "gardens"
presented ; an ample stock of salmon had also
been laid in, so that we had nothing to fear from
want, which sometimes had been severely felt.
In the beginning of November, our despatches
from the east side of the mountains came to hand,
usually a joyful event, but saddened this year
by the intelligence we received, that our excellent
superintendent was   about to   leave  us, having INDIAN FEAST.
obtained permission to visit the civilized world
for medical advice ;—the doctor was only 5,000
miles off!
. In the beginning of the winter we were invited
to a feast held in honour of a great chief, who
died some years before. The person who delivered
the invitation stalked into the room with an air
of vast consequence, and strewing our heads with
down, pronounced the name of the presiding
chief, and withdrew without uttering another
Syllable. To me the invitation was most acceptable : although I had heard much of Indian feasts,
I never was present at any*
Late in the evening wè directed our steps
towards the "banqueting house," a large hut
temporarily erected for the occasion. We found
the numerous guests assembled and already seated
around " the festive board ; " our place had been
left vacant for us, Mr. Dease taking his seat,
next to the great chief, Quaw, and we, his
Meewidiyazees (little chiefs), in succession. The
company were disposed in two rows: the chiefs
and elders being seated next the wall, formed
a -85B
*- 260
the outer, and the young men the inner row';
an open space of about three feet ill breadth
intervening between them.-   Immense quantities
of roasted meat, bear, béaver, siffleu or marmot,
were piled up at intervals, the whole length of the
building ; berries mixed up with rancid salmon oil,-
fish roe that had been buried underground a twelve-<
month, in order to give it an agreeable flavour^
were the good things presented at this feast of
gluttony and flow of oil.     The berry mixture»
and roes were served in wooden troughs, each,
having a large wooden spoon attached to it.   :The,
enjoyments of the festival were ushered in with
a song, in which all joined;—
" I' approach the village,
Ya ha he ha, ya ha ha ha ;
And hear the voices of many people,
Ta ha, &c.
The barking of dogs,
Ya ha, &c.
Salmon is plentiful,
Ya ha, &c.
The berry season is good,
Ya ha, &c.
After the song commenced the demolition of
the mountains of meat, which was but slowly. INDIAN FEAST.
effected,   notwithstanding  the   unremitting   and
strenuous exertions of the guests.    The greatest
order, however, was maintained ; the relatives of
the deceased acted as stewards, each of them seiz«-
ing a roasted beaver, or something else, squatted
himself in front of one of the guests, and present*
ing the meat, which he held with both his hands
(males and females officiating), desired him to help
himself.    If the guest appeared backward in the
attack, he was pressed, in the politest terms, to
eat.    ,( Now, I pray you, tear away with a good
will ;"—" I am glad to see you eat so strongly;"—
" Come now, stuff yourself with this fine piece of
fat bear.''   And stuff himself he must, or pay a
forfeit, to avoid a catastrophe.    But having paid
thus, and acknowledged himself fairly overcome by
bis host's politeness, he is spared any further ex-r
ertions, and his viands are no longer presented to
him in this way, but placed in a dish beside
Well aware of our inability to maintain the
honour of our country in a contest of this kind,
we paid our forfeit at the commencement of the
m 3 262
onslaught, reserving our portions to be disposed of
at home.
The gormandizing contest ended as it began,
with songs and dances ; in the latter amusement,
however, few were now able to join ; afterwards
ensued a rude attempt at dramatic representation.
* Old Quaw, the chief of Nekaslay, first appeared
on the stage, in the character of a bear—an animal
he was well qualified to personate. Rushing from
his den, and growling fiercely, he pursued the
huntsman, the chief of Babine portage, who defended himself with a long pole; both parties
maintained a running fight, until they reached the
far end of the building, where they made their exit.
Enter afterwards a jealous husband and his wife,
wearing masks (both being men). The part these
acted appeared rather dull ; the husband merely
sat down by the side of his " frail rib," watching
her motions closely, and neither allowing her to
speak to nor look at any of the young men. As to
the other characters, one personated a deer, another
a wolf, a third a strange Tsekany. The bear
seemed to give the spectators most delight. DRAMATIC REPRESENTATION.
The scene was interesting, as exhibiting the
first rude attempts at dramatic representation of a
savage people ; and it served, in some measure, to
efface the impression made by the somewhat disgusting spectacle previously witnessed. The affair
concluded by an exchange of presents, and the
party broke up.
Two young men, natives of Oregon, who had
received a little education at Red River, had, on
their return to their own country, introduced a
sort of religion, whose groundwork seemed to be
Christianity, accompanied with some of the heathen
ceremonies of the natives. This religion spread;
with amazing rapidity all over the country. It
reached Fort Alexandria, the lower post of the
district, in the autumn ; and was now embraced by
all the Nekashxyans. The ceremonial consisted
chiefly in singing and dancing. As to the doctrines
of our holy religion, their minds were too gross to
comprehend, and their manners too corrupt to be
influenced by them. They applied to us for instruction, and our worthy chief spared no pains to
give it.  But, alas ! it is for the most part labour in
I 264
vain. Yet, an impression seemed to have been
made on a few ; and had there been missionaries-
there at the time, their efforts might have proved
successful. But the influence of the " men of
medicine," who strenuously withstand a religion
which exposes their delusive tricks, and consequently deprives them of their gains,—together
with the dreadful depravity everywhere prevalent,
—renders the conversion of the Tekallies an object
most difficult to accomplish.
It is a general opinion among Christians, that
there exists no nation or people on earth who are
entirely ignorant of a Supreme Being. I shall
contrast the language of this tribe with that of
the Sauteux or Ojibbeway, and let the reader
judge for himself,'
I have heard a heathen Ojibbeway, when giving
a feast, express himself thus : " The great Master
of Life, he who sees us and whom we cannot
see, having done me charity, I invite you, my
brother, to partake of it." On a like occasion,
a Takelly describes the manner in which he
killed his game, but never alludes to a deity. RELIGION.
When an Ojibbeway wishes to confirm the truth of
what he says beyond a doubt, he points to heaven
and exclaims, *' He to whom we belong hears
that what I say is true." The Takelly says,
" The toad hears me." You ask a Takelly what
becomes of him after death, he replies, " My
fife shall be extinct, and I shall be dead." Not
an idea has he of the soul, or of a future state of
rewards and punishments. The Ojibbeway answers,
" After death my soul goes either to a happy
land, abounding with game and every delight;
or to a land of misery, where I shall suffer for
ever from want. Whether it go to the good or
bad place depends on my good or bad conduct
In fact the Takelly language has not a term in
it to express the name of Deity, spirit, or soul.
When the Columbia religion was introduced
among them, our interpreters had to invent a
term for the Deity—Yagasite—the "Man of
Heaven." The only expression I ever heard
them use that conveyed any idea whatever of a
superior Being is, that when the salmon fail, they 266
say, P The Man who keeps the mouth of the river
has shut it up with his red keys,  so that the
salmon cannot get up."    One of our gentlemen,
a member of the Roman Catholic Church, teaching the Takellies to make the sign of the cross,-
with the words used on the occasion, his interpreter translated them, " Au nom du Père, de son
Frère, et puis de son petit Garçon ! " (In the name
of the Father, his Brother, and his little Boy !)
The accompts and despatches for head-quarters
being finished in the beginning of March, I was
ordered to convey them  to Fort Alexandria, to
the charge of which post I was now appointed.
This post   is  agreeably  situated on   the banks
of Frazer's River, on the outskirts of the great
prairies.    The surrounding country is beautifully
diversified by hill and dale, grove and plain ; the
soil is rich, yielding abundant successive crops of
grain and vegetable, unmanured; but the crops
are sometimes destroyed by frost.    The charming
locality, the friendly disposition of the Indians, and
better fare, rendered this post one of the most agreeable situations in the Indian country.    In spring, SENT BACK TO FORT ST. JAMES.
x ;
P.  2.J-J."
moreover, the country swarms with game—pheasants and a small species of curlieu in the immediate vicinity, and ducks and geese within a short
distance. The sport was excellent, and, with the
amusement the cultivation of my garden afforded
me4 enabled me to vegetate in great comfort—
a comfort I was not destined long to enjoy.
Mr. Ogden, chief factor, arrived from Fort °ti^Eft*ks
Vancouver about the end of May, and Mr. Fisher L^^Z l~~_~-i
from Stuart's Lake a few days afterwards ; and i
having consulted together, determined that I
should retrace my steps to Stuart's Lake without
delay. When I arrived at Fort St. James its
dreadful solitude almost drove me to despair.
I found myself sitting alone in the hall] where
my late excellent bourgeois and friends had
passed the time so happily, and I felt a depression
of spirits such as I never experienced before.
Fortunately for me, my old friend Mr. Fraser, a
gentleman of a gay and lively disposition, arrived
soon after, and continued with me for the remainder of the season, and his company soon
drove melancholy away. 268
The particulars of an affair which had occurred
here some years before, and threatened the most
serious consequences to the post, were about
this time related to me by Waccan, the interpreter.
A native of Frazer's Lake had murdered one
of the Company's servants, and, strange to sayj
no steps were taken to punish bim ; be concealed
himself some time, and finding he had nothing to
apprehend, returned to his village. At length he
was led by his evil genius to visit Stuart's Lake,
then under the command of a Douglas. Douglas
heard of his being in the village, and though he
had but a weak garrison, determined that the
blood of the white man should not be unavenged.
The opportunity was favourable, the Indians of
the village were out on a hunting excursion,
the murderer was nearly alone. He proceeded to
the camp accompanied by two of his men, and
executed justice* on the murderer. On their
return in the evening, the Indians learned what
had happened, and enraged, determined to re-
* "Wildjustice,"—Bacoh, ITS CONSEQUENCES.'
teliate. Aware, however, that Douglas was on
his guard, that the gates were shut and could
not be forced, they resolved   to employ Indian
The old chief accordingly proceeded to the
Fort alone, and knocking at the gate desired to
be admitted, which was granted. He immediately stated the object of his visit, saying that
a deed had been done in the village which sub*
jected himself and his people to a^heavy responsibility to the relatives of the dead ; that he feared
the consequences, and hoped that a present would
be made to satisfy them ; and continuing to
converse thus calmly, Mr. Douglas was led to
believe that the matter could easily be arranged.
Another knock was now heard at the gate : " It
is my brother," said the chief, " you may open
the gate ; he told me he intended to come and
hear what you had to say on this business."
The gate was opened, and in rushed the whole
Nekasly tribe, the chief's brother at their head ;
and the men of the Fort were overpowered ere 270
they had time to stand on their defence. Douglas,
however, seized a wall-piece that was mounted in
the hall, and was about to discharge it on the crowd
that was pouring in upon him, when^he chief
seized him by the arms, and held him fast. For
an instant his life was in the utmost peril. Surrounded by thirty or forty Indians, their knives
drawn, and brandishing them over his head with
frantic gestures, and calling out to the chief,
" Shall we strike ? shall we strike ?"
The chief hesitated ; and at this critical
moment the interpreter's wife* stepped forward,
and by her presence of mind saved him and the
Observing one of the inferior chiefs, who had
always professed the greatest friendship for the
* This woman is the daughter of Mr; James MacDougaL, a
gentleman who had a chief hand in the settlement .of the district. He served the Company for a period of thirty-five
years, enduring all the hardships that were in his time inseparable from an Indian trader's life; and was dismissed
from their service, in old age, without a pension, to starve
on such little savings as he had effected oat of his salary.
He is still alive (1841), struggling with adversity.
whites, standing in the crowd, she addressed
herself to him, exclaiming, " What ! you a friend
of the whites, and not say a word in their behalf
at such a time as this ! Speak ! you know the
murderer deserved to die ; according to your own
laws the deed was just; it is blood for blood.
The white men are not dogs ; they love their
kindred as well as you; why should they not
avenge their murder?"
The moment the heroine's voice was heard the
tumult subsided ; her boldness struck the savages
with awe ; the chief she addressed, acting on her
Suggestion, interfered ; and being seconded by the
old chief, who had no serious intention of injuring
the whites, was satisfied with showing them that
they were fairly in his power. Mr. Douglas and his
men were set at liberty; and an amicable conference having taken place, the Indians departed
much elated with the issue of their enterprise.
! A personal adventure of Waccan's is worth
recording. An interpreter, a Crée half-breed,
had been murdered by the Indians of Babine
post with circumstances of great barbarity ; and 272
the perpetrators of the deed were allowed to
exult in the shedding of innocent blood with
impunity, one feeble, ineffectual attempt only
having been made to chastise them. Waccan,
however, determined that the matter should not
end thus, the victim bring his adopted brother.
Having been sent to Babine post with an Indian
lad, he learned from him that the murderers were
encamped in a certain bay 'on Stuart's Lake, and
resolved to seize the'long wished-for opportunity
.of revenge; but fearing for his companion's safety
more than his own, he landed him at a considerable distance from the camp, directing him to
make the best of his way home if he 'should hear
many shots,
He then paddled down as near the camp as
he could without being discovered* and landing,
threw off every article of clothing save a shred
round his loins ; and with his gun in the one hand,
and dagger in the other, proceeded to the spot.
Having approached sufficiently near to see all
that passed in the encampment, he squatted
among the bushes, and watching his opportunity, OF  INTERPRETER»-
"picked off" the ringleader; then rushing from
his covert, and giving the war whoop, he planted
his dagger in his heart almost before the Indians
had time to know what had happened. Seeing
the infuriated " avenger of blood " in the midst
of them, they fled precipitately to the woods.
Waccan dared them to revenge the death of the
" dead dog " who had murdered his brother.
" Come," said he, " you that were so brave at
Babine Lake, and danced round the body of him
whom you did not face, but knocked down when
his back was to you, now is your time to show
yourselves men."
No one answering the challenge, he shouldered
his gun, walked along the beach to his canoe, and
paddling leisurely off from the shore, .sang the
Crée song of triumph. Il
,1 X
In the beginning of September, Mr. Ogden
arrived from Fort Vancouver, and I was appointed
by him to the charge of Fort George, whither I
proceeded forthwith. Mr. Linton, my predecessor, was directed to wait the arrival of the party
sent to Jasper's house for a supply of leather, ere
he took his departure for Chilcotin, an outpost of
Fort Alexandria.
Fort George was established a few years ago,
and passed through the bloody ordeal ere yet
the buildings were completed.    The gentleman in MURDER OF  MR. YALE S  MEN.
charge, Mr. Yale, had left his men at work, and
gone on a visit to Fort St. James, where he only
remained a few. days ; on his return he found his
men had been treacherously murdered by the
Indians during his absence. Their mangled bodies
were found in one of the houses, with one of their
own axes by their side, which evidently had been
the instrument of their destruction. The poor
men were in the habit of retiring to rest during
the heat of the day, and were despatched while
they slept.
A great change has come over this people since
that time ; the'y are now justly considered the best
disposed and most industrious Indians in the district. The situation of the post is exceedingly
dreary, standing on the right bank of Frazer's
River, having in front a high hih\ that shades the
sun until late in the morning, and in the midst of
| woods and wilds, whose melancholy gloom " is
saddening enough. Yet it has its agrémens, its
good returns,—the ne plus ultra of an Indian
trader's happiness,—its good Indians, and its good
fare ; the produce of the soil and dairy.
EITiHiir 276
Poor Linton had remained with' me-till late in
a u in nui ; wben the cold weather setting in with
unusual rigour, the ice began to drift on the river,
rendering the navigation already dangerous; and
no accounts having been received of the leather
party, he determined to embark for his destination
without further loss of time.' He, alas ! had already waited too long. Having occasion in the)
beginning of winter to send down a messenger
to Fort Alexandria, I was surprised to see him
two days after enter the fort, accompanied by one
of Mr. Fisher's men, who brought me the melan*
eholv tidings of Mr. L.'s death, part of his baggage having been found by the natives among the
ice. Sight souls had perished, no oue knows
how ; Mr. L,, his wife and three children, an
interpreter, his .wife and one child.
Some suspicions attached to a disreputable
family of Indians who were known to be encamped
on the banks of the river at the time; but. it is
more probable that the catastrophe occurred in a
rapid not far from this post, as a dog which the
party had with them came back at an early hour
the day after their departure. This misfortune
threw a gloom over the whole district, where
Linton was much beloved, and his death, so sudden and mysterious, made the blow be felt more
Before this sad intelligence reached us, the
safety of the leather party had become a source
of deep anxiety. They had been expected in
October, and no accounts had been received of
them in the month of December. Having forwarded Mr. Fisher's despatches to head-quarters,
I received orders from Mr. Ogden to proceed to
Jasper's house, in order, if possible, to obtain
information regarding them ; which I eagerly
obeyed, setting off with five men, and sledges
loaded with provisions, drawn by dogs. We had
not proceeded far, however, when we met the
truants all safe and sound. Their non-arrival in
the fall was occasioned by the winter setting in
unprecedentedly early.
They experienced the utmost difficulty in
crossing the Rocky Mountains, from the great
depth of snow that had already fallen ; and when
vol. i. N
ggBVif- 278
they reached the heights of Frazer's River, they
found the ice beginning to form along its shores.
They persevered, however ; sometimes forcing
their way through the ice, sometimes carrying
the canoes and property overland where the passage was blocked up by the ice. But all their
efforts proved unavailing, for they were at length
completely frozen in.
Their prospects were now most disheartening.
Their remaining provisions would only suffice for
four days on short allowance, and they had a
journey of fifteen days before them, whichever
way they should direct their course. Some of
the men yielded to despair, but the greater part
cheerfully embraced Mr. Anderson's views. Those
only who are unacquainted with the Canadian
voyageurs will deny them the possession of qualities of the highest value in this country—ready
obedience to their superiors, patience of fatigue
and hardship, and unyielding perseverance under
the most trying difficulties, so long as their
leaders show them the way. Mr. Anderson having
secured  the property  en cache, determined   to
return to Jasper's house, in order to procure at
least a part of the much wanted supply of leather.
On their way back they had the good fortune to
light upon a stray horse, which they converted
into provender : they also shot a moose deer ;
and thus providentially supplied, they suffered
little from want.
On arriving at the post, they found to their
sad disappointment that nothing could be got
there, except some provisions ; it was therefore
necessary to proceed to Fort Edmonton, at least
400 miles distant, with but one intermediate post.
They succeeded in reaching it, though in a most
deplorable condition, half starved and half frozen,
none of the party being provided with winter
clothing ; but they were most hospitably received
by the kind-hearted bourgeois Mr. Rowand ; and,
• after remaining a few days to recruit their
strength in this land overflowing with fat and
pemmican, and receiving their supplies, they set
off on their return, and reached their destination
without accident.
|pB5 280
Farming on a small scale had been attempted
here by my predecessor, and the result was such
as to induce more extensive operations.   I received orders, therefore, to clear land, sow and
plant, forthwith. These orders were in'part carried
into effect in the autumn.   Four, acres of land
were put in a condition to receive seed, and about
the same quantity at Fort Alexandria.    Seed was
ordered from the  Columbia,   and handmills to
grind our grain.    Pancakes and hot rolls were
thenceforward to be the order of the day ; Babine
salmon and dog's flesh were to be sent—" to Coventry !"   The spring, however, brought with it but
poor prospects for pancakes ; the season was late
beyond all precedent; the fields were not sown
until the 5th of May ; they, nevertheless, promised well for some time, but cold weather ensued,
and continued so long that the crops could not
recover before the autumn frosts set in, and thus
our hopes were blasted.   The farm at Alexandria,
had not much better success, owing to the neglect
of the good people themselves;—not having en-
closed their fields, the cattle destroyed the greater
part of the crops. Here, however, notwithstanding the failure of our grain crops, we had abundance of vegetables and a large stock of cattle,
so that our fare was far superior to that of the
other exiles in the district.
Mr. Ogden returned from Fort Vancouver about
the usual time, and was mortified to find that our
grand agricultural experiment had so completely
failed. He, however, had brought a supply of
flour sufficient to afford each commander of posts
a couple of bags, and thus the inconvenience
arising from our disappointment was, in some
degree, obviated.
From his first arrival amongst us, Mr. Ogden
evinced the most earnest desire to ameliorate
the condition of his subordinates in this wretched
district, and all felt grateful to him for his benevolent intentions. To Mr. Dease, however, the
praise is due of having introduced this new order
of things : he it was who first introduced cattle
from   Fort Vancouver;    it   was  he  who   first 282
introduced farming, and recommended it to
Late in autumn, the natives being all about
the post, the dread influenza, that had made such
fearful havoc among the Indians in other quarters,
broke out here also. The poor creatures had
a great deal of confidence in my medical skill,
from the circumstance of my having saved the
life of a boy who had eaten some poisonous
root, when despaired of by their own mountebanks.
On the present occasion I tried my skill on one
of the subjects best able to bear my experiments,
by administering a strong emetic and purge, and
causing him afterwards to drink a decoction of
mint. He was cured, and I afterwards prescribed
the same medicine to many others with a like
success ; so that my reputation as a disciple of
^EsculapiUs became firmly established.
Having last year applied to the Governor for
permission to visit head-quarters, for a purpose
which will be   noticed hereafter,  I received a
favourable answer, and, in the month of February, /S"^'1 ,
set off for the dépôt of the district preparatory
to my departure, where I remained for a month
in company with Mr« Ogden and several fellow-
\TBm 284
Ere I proceed on my long journey, I must pause
for a little to describe more particularly the
country, which I am about to quit, perhaps for
ever, and the manners of its savage inhabitants.
The climate of New Caledonia is exceedingly
variable at all seasons of the year. I have experienced at Stuart's Lake, in the month of July,
every possible change of weather within twelve
hours ; frost in the morning, scorching heat at
noon ; then rain, hail, snow. The winter season
is subject to the same vicissitudes, though not in
so extreme a degree : some years it continues mild STUART S LAKE.
throughout, These vicissitudes may, I think, be
ascribed to local causes—proximity to, or distance
from the glaciers of the Rocky Mountains, the
direction of the winds, the aspect of the place, &c.
Fort St. James is so situated as to be completely
exposed to the north-east wind, which wafts on
its wings the freezing vapours of the glaciers. The
instant the wind shifts to this quarter, a change
of temperature is felt ; and .when it continues to
blow for a few hours, it becomes so cold that,
even in midsummer, small ponds are frozen over.
The surrounding country is mountainous and
Frazer's Lake is only about thirty miles distant
from Fort St. James (on Stuart's Lake), yet there
they raise abundance of vegetables, potatoes and
turnips, and sometimes even wheat and barley.
The post stands in a valley open to the southwest,—a fine champaign country, of a sandy soil ;
it is protected from the north-east winds by a high
ridge of hills. The winter seldom sets in before
December, and the navigation is generally open
about the beginning of May,
1 3 286
Few countries present a more beautiful variety
of scenery than New Caledonia. Stuart's Lake
and its environs I have already attempted to describe, but many such landscapes present themselves in different parts of the country, where
towering mountains, hill and dale, forest and
lake, and verdant plains, blended together in the
happiest manner, are taken in by the eye at a
glance. Some scenes there are that recall forcibly
to the remembrance of a son of Scotia, the hills
and glens and " bonnie braes" of his own poor,
yet beloved native land. New Caledonia, however, has the advantage over the Old, of being
generally well wooded, and possessed of lakes of
far greater magnitude ; unfortunately, however,
the woods are decaying rapidly, particularly
several varieties of fir, which are being destroyed
by an insect that preys on the bark : when the
country is denuded of this ornament, and its
ridges have become bald, it will present a very
desolate appearance. In some parts of the country, the poplar and aspen tree are to be found,
together with a species of birch, of whose bark NATURAL PRODUCTIONS.
canoes are built ; but there is neither hard wood
nor cedar.
Such parts of the district as are not in the
immediate vicinity of the regions of eternal snow,
yield a variety of wild fruit, grateful to the
palate, wholesome, and nutritious. Of these,
the Indian pear is the most abundant, and most
sought after, both by natives and whites; when
fully ripe, it is of a black colour, with somewhat
of a reddish tinge, pear-shaped, and very sweet
to the taste. The natives dry them in the sun,
and afterwards bake them into cakes, which are
said to be delicious ; for my own part, having
seen the process of manufacturing them, I could
not overcome my prejudices so far as to partake
of a delicacy in whose composition filth formed
so considerable an ingredient. When dried, the
cakes are placed in wooden vessels to receive
the juice of green fruit, which is expressed by
placing weights upon it, in wooden troughs,
from which spouts of bark draw off the liquid
into the vessels containing the dry fruit ; this
being thoroughly saturated, is again bruised with 28a
the unclean hand, then re-formed into cakes, and
dried again ; and these processes are . repeated
alternately, until the cakes suit the taste of the
maker. Blue berries are plentiful in some parts
of the district ; there is a peculiar variety of
them, which I preferred to any fruit I ever tasted;
it is about the size of a musket-ball, of a purple
colour, translucid, and in its taste sweet and
acid are deliciously blended.
The district is still rich in fur-bearing animals,
especially beavers and martens, which are likely
- to continue numerous for many years to come,
•as they find a safe retreat among the fastnesses
of the Rocky Mountains, where they multiply
undisturbed. This is the great beaver nursery,
which continues to replace the numbers destroyed
in the more exposed situations ; there is, nevertheless, a sensible decrease in the returns of the
fur since the introduction of steel traps among
the natives: there are also otters, musk-rats,
niinxes, and lynxes. Of the larger quadrupeds
bears only are numerous, and in all their varieties,
grizzled, black, brown, and chocolate;  numbers
■«£■> ANIMALS.
of them are taken by the natives in wooden traps.
A chance moose or reindeer is sometimes found.
The mountain sheep generally keeps aloft in the
most inaccessible parts of the mountains, and is
seldom "bagged" by a Carrier, but often by the
Tsekanies. I have before observed that rabbits
sometimes abound. Another small animal, whose
flesh is delicious in season, the marmot, is found
in great numbers. In the neighbourhood of Fort
Alexandria, the jumping deer, or chevreuil, is
abundant. To these add dog and horse flesh,
and vou have all the varieties of animal food
the country affords to its inhabitants, civilized or
A most destructive little animal, the wood-rat,
infests the country, and generally nestles in the
crevices of the rocks, but prefers still more human
habitations ; they domicile under the floors of outbuildings, and not content with this, force their
way into the inside, where they, destroy and carry
off every thing they can ; nor is there any way of
securing the property in the stores from their
depredations but by placing it in strong boxes. 290
When fairly located, it is almost impossible to
root them out. They are of a grey colour, and
of nearly the size and form of the common rat,
but the tail resembles that of the ground squirrel.
The birds of this country are the same as in
Canada. I observed no strange variety, except
a species of curlicu that frequents the plains of
Fort Alexandria in the summer. Immense flocks
of cranes are seen in autumn and spring, flying
high in the air ; in autumn directing their flight
towards the south, and in spring towards the north. j
Some of the Lakes abound in fish ; the principal
varieties are trout, carp, white fish, and pike.
Stuart's Lake yields a small fish termed by the
Canadians " poisson inconnu ; " it seems as if it
were partly white fish and partly carp, the head
resembling the former ; it is full of small bones,
and the flesh soft and unsavoury. The sturgeon
has been already mentioned, but they are unfortunately too rare ; seldom more than five or six
are captured in a season ; they weigh from one
hundred to five hundred pounds. A beautiful
small fish of the size of the anchovy, and shaped NATIVES.
like a salmon, is found in a river that falls into
Stuart's* Lake ; it is said they pass the winter in
the lake, and ascend their favourite stream in
the month of June, where they deposit their spawn.
They have the silvery scales of the larger salmon,
and are exceedingly rich ; but the natives preserve
them almost exclusively for their own use. There
are four varieties of salmon, distinguished from
each other by the peculiar form of the head ; the
largest species seems to be the same we have in
the rivers of Britain, and weighs from ten to
twenty pounds î; the others do not exceed half
that weight.
New Caledonia is inhabited by the Takelly
or Carrier nation, and by a few families of
Tsekanies on the north-eastern extremity of the
district. The Takellies are divided into as many
tribes as there are posts-—viz. eight, who formerly
were as hostile to each other as if they had been
of different nations. The presence of the whites,
however, has had the beneficial effect of checking
their cut-throat propensities, although individual
murders still occasionally occur among them. 292
Before the introduction of fire-arms, the
honourable practice of duelling prevailed among
them, though in a fashion peculiar to themselves.
One arrow only was discharged, by the party
demanding satisfaction, at his opponent, who, by
dint of skipping about and dodging from side to
side, generally contrived to escape it ; fatal duels,
therefore, seldom if ever occurred ; and the
parties, having thus given and received satisfaction, retired from the field reconciled.* They
appear more prone to sudden bursts of passion
than most Indians I have seen, and quarrel often
and abuse each other in the most scurrilous terms.
With the Sauteux, Crées, and other tribes on
the east side of the mountains, few words are
uttered before the blow, often a fatal one, is
given ; whereas, with the Takellies, it is   often
* I would recommend this mode of conducting "affairs of
honour " to honourable gentlemen using the hair-trigger, as an
improvement. Though practised by savages, it must he
allowed to be somewhat less barbarous than ten paces' distance, and standing still! If the exhibition should appear
somewhat ludicrous, both parties would have the additional
" satisfaction " that their morning exercise had given a keener
zest to their breakfast.   It would be a sort of Pyrrhic dance» AUTHORITY OP CHIEFS.
many words and few blows. In the quarrels
which take place among them, the ladies are
generally the causa belli—a cause which would
soon lead to the depopulation of the country,
were all husbands to avenge their wrongs by
shedding the blood of the guilty.
Their chiefs have still considerable authority;
but much of the homage they claimed and received in former times is now transferred to the
white chiefs, or traders, whom they all esteem
the greatest men in the universe. " After the
Man of heaven," said old Q,uaw to Mr. Dease,
" you are next in dignity," Owing to the superstitious notions of the people, the chiefs are still
feared on account of the magical powers ascribed
to them ; it is firmly believed they can, at will,
inflict diseases, cause misfortunes of every kind,
and eyen death itself; and so strong is this
impression, that they will not even pass in a
direction where the shadow of a chief, or ({man
of medicine," might fall on them, " lest," say
they, " he should bear us some ill-will and afflict
us with some disease."
rffsiss ~«J
These conjurors, nevertheless, are the greatest
bunglers at their trade of any in the Indian
territory ; they practise none of the clever tricks
of the Sauteux sorcerers, and are perfectly ignorant of the medicinal virtues of herbs and plants,
with which the Sauteux and other Indians often
perform astonishing cures. The Takellies administer no medicine to the sick; a variety of
ridiculous gesticulations, together with singing,
blowing, and beating on the patient, are the means
they adopt to effect their end; and they»not seldom,
effectually cure the patient of " all the ills of life."
Whether they effect a cure or not, they are sure
to be well recompensed for their expenditure of
wind, an article of which they are not sparing:
they, in fact, exert themselves so much that the
perspiration pours from every pore. The only
real remedy they use, in common with other
Indians, is the vapour-bath, or sweating-house.
The house, as it is termed, which is constructed
by bending twigs of willow, and fixing both ends
in the ground, when finished, presents the appearance of a bee-hive, and is carefully covered to
prevent the escape of the vapour ; red-hot stones
are then placed inside, and water poured upon
them, and the patient remains in the midst of
the steam thus generated as long as he can bear
it, then rushing out, plunges into the cold stream;
This is said to be a sovereign remedy for rheumatism, and the natives have recourse to it in
all cases of severe pain : I myself witnessed its
efficacy in a Gase of paralysis^
The salubrity of the climate, however, renders
disease of every kind extremely rare, except subh
as are caused by the excesses of the natives themselves. The venereal is very common, and appears
to have been indigenous. At their feasts they
gorge themselves to such a degree as to endanger
their lives; after a feast many of the guests
continue ill for a considerable time, yet this
does not prevent them from gormandizing again
whenever an opportunity presents itself. Old
and young, male and female, are subject to
severe inflammation in the eyes, cMefly, I believe*
from their passing the winter in hovels underground, which have no outlet for  the smoke.
L 296
and passing from them into the glare of sunshine
upon the snow. What with the confined smoke
and tainted atmosphere -of these abominable
burrows, I found it painful to remain even for
a few minutes in them.
It has been remarked by those who first settled
in the district, that the Indians are rapidly decreasing in numbers since their arrival—a fact
which does not admit of a doubt : I myself have
seen many villages and encampments without an
inhabitant. But what can be the cause of it ?
Here there has been neither rum nor smallpox—
the scourges of this doomed race in other parts.
Yet, on the banks of the Columbia, which, when
first visited by the whites a few years ago,
literally swarmed with Indians, a disease broke
out which nearly exterminated them. Has the <
fiat, then, gone forth, that the aboriginal inhabitants of America shall make way for another
race of men ? To my mind, at least, the question presents not the shadow of a doubt. The
existence of the present race of Indians at some
future, and by no means distant period, will only TAKELLIAN WOMEN.
be known through the historical records of their
The Takellies do not use canoes on their hunting excursions, so that they are necessitated to
carry all their conveniences on their backs; and
it is astonishing to see what heavy loads they
can carry, especially the women, on whom the
transport duty generally devolves. Among this
tribe, however, the women are held in much
higher consideration than among other Indians :
they assist at the councils, and some ladies of
distinction are even admitted to the feasts. This
consideration they doubtless owe to the efficient
aid they afford in procuring the means of subsistence. The one sex is as actively employed
during the fishing season as the other. The
men construct the weirs, repair them when
necessary, and capture the fish ; the women split
them up—a most laborious operation when salmon is plentiful—suspend them On the scaffolds,
attend to the drying, &c. They also collect
berries, and dig up the edible roots that are
found in the country, and which are of great
£*■* .ml
service in years of scarcity. Thus the labour of
the women contributes as much to the support
of the community as that of the men.
The men are passionately addicted to gambling,
staking everything they possess, and continuing
at it night and day, until compelled to deasf
by sheer hunger, or by the loss of all. I could
not understand their game ; we, in fact, used
our best endeavours to abolish the pernicious
custom, and, to avoid countenancing it, were as
seldom present as possible. It is played with a
few small sticks, neatly carved, with a certain
number of marks upon them, tied up in a small
bundle of hay, which the player draws out sU«£:
eesaively, throws up and catches between his
hands; and when all are drawn, they are taken
up one by one, and dashed against a piece of
parchment, and rolled up again in the hay.
The whole party appear merry enough at the
commencement of the game, all joining chorus
in a song, and straining their lungs to such a
degree, that hoarseness soon ensues, when they
continue their amusement in silence.    When the ESTIMATION  OF  DOGS.
game is ended, some of them present a sad spectacle; coming forth, their hair dishevelled, their
eyes bloodshot, and faces ghastly pale, with
probably nothing to cover their nakedness, save
perhaps an old siffleux robe, which the winner
may be generous enough to bestow. They never
shoot or hang themselves, let their luck be
ever so bad, but sometimes shoot the winning
Dogs, if not held sacred, are at least as much
esteemed by them as their own kindred. I have
known an instance of a quadruped of the cynic
sect being appointed successor to a biped chief,
and discharging the duties of his office with the
utmost gravity and decorum ; appearing at the
feast given in honour of his deceased predecessor,
and furnishing his quota—(this of course by
proxy)—of the provisions. This dog-chief was
treated by his owner with as much regard as if
he had been his child ! All, indeed, treat their
dogs with the greatest respect, calling them by
the most   endearing   epithets :—" Embark, my
son ;"   " Be quiet, my child ;"   " Don't bark at
./the white men, they will not harm you."
The lewdness of the Carrier women cannot
possibly be carried to a greater excess. They
are addicted to the most abominable practices;
abandoning themselves in early youth to the free
indulgence of their passions, they soon become
debilitated and infirm ; and there can be no doubt
that to this monstrous depravity the depopulation
of the country may, in part, be ascribed.
They never marry until satiated with indulgence ; and if the woman then should be dissatisfied with the restraint of the conjugal yoke,
the union, by mutual consent, is dissolved for
a time ; both then betake themselves to their
former courses. The woman, nevertheless, dare
not, according to law, take another husband
during this temporary separation. Whoever infringes this law, forfeits his life to the aggrieved
party, if he choose, or dare to take it.
Polygamy is  allowed ;   but only  one of the
women is   considered as the wife.     The most SOCIAL  HABITS.
perfect harmony seems to subsist among them.
When the favourite happens to be supplanted by
a rival, she resigns her place without a murmur,
well pleased if she can only enjoy the countenance
of her lord in a subordinate situation. Yet a
rupture does sometimes occur, when the repudiated party not unfrequently destroys herself.
Suicides were frequent among the females in the
neighbourhood of Fort Alexandria.
The Takellies are a sedentary people, remaining shut up in their huts during the severer part
of the winter. You may then approach a camp
without perceiving any sign of its vicinity, unti
you come upon their well, or one of their salmon
caches. They are very social, congregating at
each other's huts, and passing their time talking
or sleeping. When awake, their tongues are
ever in motion,—all bawling out at the same
time ; and it has often surprised me how they
could possibly make themselves understood in
the midst of such an uproar.
All Indians with whom I have come in contact,
Christian as well as Pagan, are addicted to false-
tx»- 302
\      .
hood ; but the Takellies excel ; they are perfect;
adepts in the art, telling their stories with such
an appearance of truth, that even those who know
them well are often deceived. They were the
greatest thieves in the world when the whites
first settled among them. The utmost vigilance
failed to detect them. Some of our people have
been known to have their belts taken off them,;
without perceiving it till too late ; and many
a poor fellow, after passing a night in one of
their encampments, has been obliged to pass the
remainder of the winter with but half a blanket—
thé other half having been cut off while he
Theft, however, is not quite so prevalent as
formerly; and, strange to say, no Indians can
be more honest in paying their debts. It would
indeed be desirable that this credit system, long
since introduced, were abolished; but if this
were done, the natives would carry the greater
part of their hunts to another quarter. Some
of the natives of the coast, having become regular
traders  of  late  years,  penetrate  a  considerable INDIAN AHtS.
distance into the interior; in this manner the
goods obtained from the Company's posts along
the coast, or from foreign trading ships, pass from
hand to hand in barter, until they eventually
reach the borders of New Caledonia, where the
trade still affords a very handsome profit to
the native speculator.
These Indians are not given to hospitality in
the proper 'sense of the word. A stranger
arriving among them is provided with food for
a day only; should he remain longer, he pays
for it ; for that day's entertainment, however,, the
best fare is liberally furnished. Strangers invited
to their feasts are also provided for while they
There is much more variety and melody in the
airs they sing, than I have heard in any other
part of the Indian country. They have professed
composers, who turn their talent to good account
on the occasion of a feast, when new airs, are in
great request, and are purchased at a high rate.
They dance in circles, men and women promiscuously, holding  each  other by the hand;  and.
**— 304
keeping both feet together, hop a little to a side
all at once, giving at the. same time a singular
jerk to their persons behind. The movement,
seems to be difficult of execution, as it causes
them to perspire profusely ; they, however, keep
excellent time, and the blending of the voices of
the men and women in symphony has an agreeable effect.
The Takelly, or Carrier language, is a dialect
of the Chippewayan; and it is rather a singular
fact, that the two intervening dialects of the
Beaver Indians and Tsekanies, kindred nations,
should differ more from the Chippewayan than,
the Carrier; the two latter nations being perfectly intelligible to each other, while the former
are but very imperfectly understood by their
immediate neighbours, the Chippewayans.
An erroneous opinion seems to have gone
abroad regarding the variety of languages spoken
by the Indians. There are, in reality, only four
radically distinct languages from the shores of
Labrador to the Pacific : Sauteux, Chippewayan,
Atna and Chinook.    The Crée language is evi- LANGUAGE.
dently a dialect of the Sauteux, similar in
construction, and differing only in the modification
of a few words. The Nascopies, or mountaineers
of Labrador, speak a mixture of Crée and Sauteux, the former predominating.
Along the communication from Montreal to
the foot of the Rocky Mountains, following the
Peace River route, we first meet with the Sauteux tribes, who extend from the Lake of the
Two Mountains to Lake Winnipeg ; then the
Crées to Isle à la Crosse ; after them, Crées
and Chippewayans to Athabasca ; and along the
banks of Peace River, the Beaver Indians occupy
the lower, and the Tsekanies the upper part. The
Chippewayan is evidently the root of the Beaver,
Tsekariy and Carrier dialects ; it is also spoken by
a numerous tribe in the McKenzie's River district—the Hare Indians.
On the west side of the Rocky Mountains
the Carrier language is succeeded by the Atna,
which extends along the Columbia as far down
as the Chinooks, who inhabit the coast. The
Atna language, in its variety of dialects, seems to 30ft
have as wide a scope as either the Sauteux or
New Caledonia is one of the richest districts in
the Company's vast domain ; its returns average
about 8,000 beavers, with a fair proportion of
other valuable furs. When the district was first
settled, the goods required for trade were brought
in by the winterers from Lac la Pluie, which was
their dépôt. The people left the district as early
in spring as the navigation permitted, and returned
so late that they were frequently Overtaken by
winter ere they reached their destination. Cold,
hunger, and fatigue, were the unavoidable consequences ; but the enterprising spirit of the
men of those days — the intrepid, indefatigable
adventurers of the North-West Company—overcame every difficulty. It was that spirit that
opened a communication across the broad continent of America; that penetrated to the frost-
bound regions of the Arctic circle ; and that
established a trade with the natives in this remote
land, when the merchandise required for it was
in   one 'season   transported   from   Montreal   to
m^mm FARE   AT   THE   POSTS.
within a short distance of the Pacific. Such
enterprise has never been exceeded, seldom or
never equalled. The outfit is now sent out from
England by Cape Horn, to Fort Vancouver,
thence it is conveyed in boats to Okanagan, then
transported on horses' backs to Alexandria, the
lower post of the district, whence it is conveyed
in boats to Fort St. James.
There are generally two commissioned gentlemen in this district,—a chief-factor and chief-
trader, with six or seven clerks in charge of posts ;
and about forty men, principally Iroquois and
half-breeds. The fare at the different posts depends entirely on local circumstances. In some
places it is tolerable, in others, scarcely fit for
dogs. For the year's consumption, the Company
allow a clerk two bags of flour, sixty pounds of
sugar, twelve pounds of tea, and a small quantity of
wine and brandy. Butter is now produced in
abundance in the district. Where there are no
gardens, the men have only dried salmon,—as
poor fare as civilized man subsists on in any part
of the world.    It has at first the same effect on
nr—— 308
most people as if they fed on Glauber salts.'
Nevertheless, the men generally continue in this
wretched condition for many years, apparently
contented and happy ; the indulgence they find
among the females being, I grieve to say, the
principal inducement.
"^5" NOTES
13ublts!jn: in ©vtnnary to 31)cr JKajest!?.
1849. -1
k. clay, printer, bread street hill. CONTENTS
Journey to Norway House ....
Arrival at York Factory—Its Situation—Climate—Natives
—Rein-Deer—Voyage to Ungava—Incidents of the Voyage
—Arrival at Ungava— Situation and Aspect	
Exploring Expedition through the Interior of Lahrador—
Difficulties—Deer Hunt—Indian Gluttony—Description
of the Country—Provisions run short—Influenza .    .   .
Distressing Bereavement—Exploring Party—their Report—
Arrival at Esquimaux—Establish Posts—Pounding Rein-
Deer—Expedition up George's River—Its Difficulties—
Hamilton River—Discover a stupendous Cataract—Return
by George's River to the Sea—Sudden Storm and miraculous Escape	
60 IV
Esquimaux arrive from the North Shore of Hudson's Strait
on a Raft—Despatch from the Governor—Distress of the
Esquimaux—Forward Provisions to Mr. E .   Return
of the Party—Their deplorable Condition 81
Trip to Esquimaux, Bay—Governor's Instructions—My Report to the Com m it tee—Recommend the Abandonment
of Ungava Settlement—Success of the Arctic Expedition
conducted by Messrs. Dease and Simpson—Return by Sea
to Fort Chimo — Narrowly escape Shipwreck in the
Ungava River—Impolitic Measure of the Governor—Consequent Distress at the Post	
Another exploring Expedition—My Promotion—Winter
at Chimo—Obtain permission to visit Britain—Ungava
abandoned 98
Climate of Ungava—Aurora Borealis—Soil—Vegetable Productions—Animals—Birds—Fish—Geological Features . 102
The Nascopies—Their Religion—Manners and Customs—
Clothing—Marriage—Community of Goods 118
The Esquimaux—Probable Origin—Identity of Language
from Labrador to Behring's Straits—Their Amours—
Marriages—Religion—Treatment of Parents—Anecdote CONTENTS.
—Mode of Preserving Meat—Amusements—Dress—The
\ Igloe, or Snow-House—Their Cuisine—Dogs—The Sledge
—Caiak, or Canoe—Ouimiàk, or Boat—Implements—
Stature • 131
Labrador—Esquimaux Half-Breeds:—Moravian Brethren—
European Inhabitants—Their Virtues—Climate—Anecdote 155
Voyage to England—Arrival at Plymouth—Reflections—
Arrive at the place of my Nativity—Changes—Depopulation—London—The Thames—Liverpool—Embark for
New York—Arrival—The Americans—English and American Tourists—England and America.—New York    .   .16'
Passage from New York to Albany by Steamer—The
Passengers—Arrival at Albany—Journey to Montreal    . 187
Embark for the North—Passengers—Arrive at Fort William
—Despatch from Governor—Appointed to McKenzie's
River District—Portage La Loche—Adventure on Great
Slave Lake—Arrive at Fort Simpson—Productions of the
Post ' 193
Statements in the Edinburgh Cabinet Library—Alleged
Kindness of the Hudson's Bay Company to the Indians—
And Generosity—Support of Missionaries—Support withdrawn—Preference of Roman Catholics—The North-West
Company—Conduct of a British Peer—Rivalry of the
Companies—Coalition—Charges against the North-West
Company refuted 207 —ri
Arrival of Mr. Lefroy—Voyage to the Lower Posts of
the McKenzie—Avalanche—Incidents of the Voyage
—Voyage to Portage La Loche—Arbitrary and unjust
Conduct of the Governor—Despotism—My Reply to the
Governor " 228
Situation of Fort Simpson—Climate—The Liard—Effects of
the Spring Flood*—Tribes inhabiting McKenzie's River
District—Peculiarities—Distrèssthrough Famine—Cannibalism—Anecdote—Fort Good Hope saved by the Intrepidity of M. Dechambault—Discoveries of Mr. Campbell. 241
Mr. McPherson assumes the Command—I am appointed
to Fort Liard, but exchange for Great Slave Lake—The
Indians — Resolve to quit the Service—Phenomena of
the Lake «. 255
Reflections—Prospects in the Service—Decrease of the
Game—Company's Policy in consequence—Appeal of the
Indians—Means of Preserving them, and improving their
Condition—Abolition of the Charter—Objections answered ....         260
Wesleyan Mission—Mr. Evans—Encouragement given by
the Company—Mr. Evans' Exertions among the Indians—
Causes of the Withdrawal of the Company's Support—
Calumnious Charges against Mr. E.—Mr. E. goes to England—His sudden Death 278 CONTENTS.
Red River—Soils—Climate—Productions—Settlement of
Red River through Lord Selkirk by Highlanders—Collusion between the North-West and Hudson's Bay Companies—Inundation—Its Effects—French Half-Breeds—
Buffalo Hunting — English Half-Breeds — Indians—
Churches—Schools—Stores—Market for Produce—Communication by Lakes 289
Sir G. Simpson—His Administration .
Vocabulary of the Principal Indian Dialects in use among
the Tribes in the Hudson's Bay Territory 323
I started from Stuart's Lake on the 22d of
February, and arrived at Fort Alexandria on the
8th of March. Although the upper parts of the
district were yet buried in snow, it had disappeared in the immediate neighbourhood of the
establishment, and everything wore the pleasing
aspect of spring.
vol. n. B 10
Mr. F was about to remove to a new post.
he had erected on the west bank of the river.
Horses were provided for us to perform the
journey overland to Okanagan. We left on the
13th ; on the 15th we encamped on the borders of
Lac Yert, having experienced a violent snow-storm
jn the early part of the day. The lake and circumjacent country presented a beautiful scene; the
spurs of the Rocky Mountains bounding the horizon and presenting a rugged outline enveloped
in snow—the intervening space of wooded hill and
dale clothed in the fresh verdure of the season ;
and the innumerable low points and islands in the
lake contributing to the variety of the landscape.
Hitherto we had found much snow on the
ground, and our progress in consequence was very
slow. Our hardy horses subsisting on whatever
they could pick during the night, or when we
halted for our meals, began to falter, so that we
were under the necessity of stopping to allow
them to feed wherever any bare ground appeared.
On the evening of the 18th we came in sight
of Kamloops' Lake, which, to my great surprise, FORT kamloops.
was not only clear of ice, but the valley in which
it is situated appeared clothed with verdure, while
the heights on the other side were still covered
-'with snow. The valley looks to the south, and
is protected from the cold winds By the neighbouring high grounds.
On arriving at Kamloops' post we found two S
Canadians in charge, Mr. B^~tX having set off a C~
few days before for the dépôt at Fort Vancouver.
We met with a cordial reception from his men,
who entertained us with horse-flesh and potatoes
for supper ; and next day we bountifully partook
of the same delicacies, my prejudice against this
fare having completely vanished.
Fort Kamloops is situated at the confluence
of Thompson's River and its north branch; the
Indians attached to it are a tribe of the Atnahs*
Their lands are now destitute of fur-bearing
animals, nor are there many animals of the larger
kind to be found ; they however find subsistence
in the variety of edible roots which the country
affords. They have the character of being honest,
quiet, and well-disposed towards the whites. As
B 2
soon as the young women attain the age of
puberty, they paint their faces after a fashion
which the young men.understand without explanation. They also dig holes in the ground, which
they inlay with grass or branches, as a proof of »,
their industry ; and when they are in a certain
stated they, separatefrom the community and live
in', small huts, which they build for themselves.
Should any. one unwittingly touch them, or an
article belonging to them, during their indisposition, he is considered unclean ; and must purify
himself by fasting for a day, and then jumping
over a fire prepared by pure hands.
We left Kamloops on the 20th, and after travelling about twenty, miles found the ground covered
with show; which  increased, in  depth as we ad- ■
vanced.    The taackileft by Mr. B^^^s party was
of great service to usl
We encamped at the extremity of Okanagan
Lake, where we found a small camp of natives
nearly starved to death ; the unfortunate creatures
passed the night in our encampment, and we distributed as much of our provisions amongst them TO okanagan.
as we could possibly spare. This encampment
afforded me as miserable a night's lodging ! as
I had ever met with ; a snow-storm raged without
intermission till daylight, when we set out so completely benumbed that we could not mount our
horses till we had put the blood in circulation by
We overtook Mr. B-^^Von the 25th, his
horses completely jaded and worn out by the
fatigues of the journey ; the great depth of the
snow indeed would have utterly precluded travelling had he not adopted the precaution of driving
a number of young horses before the loaded
horses to make a track.
The country through which we have travelled
for the last few days is: exceedingly rugged, and
possesses few features to interest the traveller.
We arrived at the post of Okanagan on the
28th, situated on the left bank of the Columbia:
River. The ground was still covered with snow to
the depth of two feefy and had been five feet deep,
in the course  of the winter—an extraordinary —«H
circumstance, as there generally falls so little snow
in this quarter, that the cattle graze in the plain
nearly all winter. The Indians are designated
Okanagans, and speak a dialect of the Atnah.
Their lands are very poor, yielding only cats,
foxes, &c ; they subsist on salmon and roots.
Messrs. F  and D arrived from Tort
Vancouver on the 7th of April, and we embarked
on the 8th in three boats manned by retiring servants. Mr. Btif^" ■ accompanied us, having obtained permission to cross the Rocky Mountains.
We arrived at Col ville on the 12th, where we
met with a most friendly reception from a warmhearted Gael, (Mr. McD.) The gentlemen proceeding to the dépôt in charge of the accounts
df the Columbia department generally remain
here a few days to pot a finishing hand to these
accounts—an operation which occupied us till
die 22d, when we  re-embarked, leaving Messrs.
D and B t*^-   behind ;   the  former   being
remanded to Fort Vancouver ; and the latter,
having changed his mind, in an  evil hour for AND  RE-EMBARK.
himself, returned to his old quarters; where he
was murdered sometime afterwards 'by an Indian
who had lost his father, and thought that the
company of his old trader would solace him for
the absence of his children.
'/f4 'a- 16
I arrived at York Factory, the dépôt of the
Northern department, early in July. This .establishment presents a more respectable appearance
than any other that I have seen in Rupert's Land,
and reflects no small credit on the talents and
taste of him who planned, and partly executed,
the existing improvements, all which have been
effected since the coalition. When Mr. McT.
first assumed the command, the buildings were of
the most wretched description—the apartments
had more the appearance of cells for criminals,
than of rooms for gentlemen. ITS SITUATION.
The yielding nature of the swampy ground on
whiebKthe buildings were to be erected rendering
it necessary to lay a solid foundation, the object
was accomplished in the face of every difficulty,
and at a great expense ; and the present commodious buildings were commenced, but not finished
by the projector. Other improvements have been
made since then, so that they afford every comfort
and convenience that could be. expected in so
unfavourable a situation.
Thé dépôt is at present under the charge of a
chief factor, assisted by a chief trader,' a surgeon*
and two clerks: Here i there is always a- sufficient
supply of goods and provisions on: hand to meet
the demand of the trade for two years'—a wise,
precaution,. as in the event of- any accident happening to prevent ' the vessel from reaching her
destination,, the trade would not be interrupted.
The very emergency thus provided for occurred
• last-autumn'; the ship, after dropping anchor in
her usual ■: mooring ground, was compelled by
"Stress of weather to bear away for England, after
loosing her anchors, and sustaining other serious
B 3 18
damages. Yet notwithstanding this untoward
event, the gentlemen in charge of the different
districts set off for the interior with their outfits
The climate, although extremely disagreeable*,
is not considered unhealthy. In summer the extremes of heat and cold are experienced in the
course of a few hours ; in the morning you may be
wearing nankeen, and before noon, duffle. Were
the heat to continue for a sufficient length of time
to thaw the ground thoroughly, the establishment
could not be kept up save at a great sacrifice of
life, through the mephitic exhalations from the
surrounding swamps. The ground, however,
seldom thaws more than eighteen inches, and