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Adventures on the Columbia river, including the narrative of a residence of six years on the western… Cox, Ross, 1793-1853 1831

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Array       ADVENTURES
The party attacked by the natives at the Wallah Wallah
River—Two killed—Encamp on an island for safety—Indians
demand two white men as a sacrifice—Arrival of a chieftain;
—His speech, and peace restored .        .        .        .1
Author and party lost in a snow-storm—Curious instance of
mental abstraction—Poor Ponto—Arrive at Spokan House—
A marriage—Great ravine— Agates — Hot-springs — Kitchen .
garden—Indian manner of hunting the deer—Method adopted
by the wolves for the same purpose — Horse-racing — Great
heat .        .        .   '    .        .        .        .        .        .28
Letter from Mr. Stuart—His account of New Caledonia—
Navigation of the Columbia obstructed by ice—Miserable
situation of the party during the winter—Author frost-bitten
—Amusements—Departure of Mr. Keith—His letters—Author
and party quit their winter encampment—Rapid change of
seasons—Arrive at Fort George .        .        .        .50 VI CONTENTS.
Author placed in charge of Oakinagan—Erects new buildings
there — Musquitoes — Sagacity of the horses—Rattlesnakes
good food — Sarsaparilla — Black snakes — Climate —Whirlwinds—Handsome situation—Character of the tribe—Manner
of trading—Extraordinary cures of consumption .        78
Author nearly blinded by hawks—Foxes — Great number
of wolves—Their method of attacking horses—Lynxes—Bears
—Anecdote of a kidnapping bruin—Ingenious plan of getting
off bear-skins—Account of the horses on the Columbia— Great
feat performed by one .        .        .        .        .        .96
Letter from the proprietors—Author winters at Oakinagan
—Letter from Mr. Mackenzie—A number of horses stolen—
Successful plan to recover them—Description of soil, climate,
productions, &c. of the lower part of the Columbia . 116
Description of climate, soil, &c- above the rapids—Sketch
of various tribes—The Chohoptins—Yackamans—Oakinagans
—Sinapoils—Spokans—Anecdote—Pointed-hearts—Cause of
war—Cootonais—Kettle Indians-^-Kamloops, &c. . 138
Ascent of the Columbia—Its lakes—Dangerous navigation
-—High water—Arrive at the mountains—Melancholy detail
of the death of six of the party .... 162 I
Canoe Valley and River—Appearance of mountains—M'Gil-
livray's Rock—Dangerous situation'of party on a raft—Arrive
at Rocky Mountain House—Volcanic appearances — Animals, &c.—Indian tradition respecting Mammoth—Difference
in size of trees        ........ 185.
Descent of the Athabasca River—Party disappointed in
receiving provisions—Elk River and Lake—Join the brigade
from Lesser Slave Lake—Arrive at lie a la Crosse—Dreadful
effects of the opposition between the North-West and Hudson's Bay Companies—Sketch of Mr. Peter Ogden . 212
English river — Pass numerous lakes and rapids—Arrive
at Cumberland House—Saskachawaine river—Lake Winepic
—Aurora Borealis— River Winepic — Meet various parties
—Rainy Lake and Fort—Death of an Indian .        . 245
Leave Rainy Lake—Messrs. M'Gillivray and La Rocque
—Sketch of Messrs. Wentzel and M'Neill— Great falls of
the mountain—Description of Fort William, its inhabitants,
&c.       *_>      .        . 273
Enter Lake Superior — St. Mary's Falls — Sketch of Mr.
Johnston — Lake Huron — French River —Lake Nipising—
Arrive on the Ottawa—A Back-woodsman—Chaudiere Falls vm
—Hull—Longue Saul t-—Mr. Grant—Laughable mistake—
Mr. M'Donald Le Pretre—Mr. M'Gilles—Snyder's Tavern-
Lake of the Two Mountains—La Chine-—Arrive at Montreal _        .        .294
Sketches of the Canadian Voyageurs—Anecdote of La Liberie—The Freemen, or Trappers—The Half-breeds—Anecdote — Retired Partners — Josephine —sFraneaise — Amusing
Letter—Iroquois Indians—Anecdote .        j       .331
Coalition of the two Companies—New Caledonia—description of the Chilcotins, Talkotins, &c.—Soil, produce, lakes,
rivers, animals, climate — Peculiarities of the natives —
Suicides — Cruelty to relatives — Horrible treatment of
prisoners—Sanguinary, quarrels—Extraordinary ceremonies
attending the dead—Barbarities practised on widows, &c.—
Table of population .        .        . .        . 358
. 395 A
The party attacked by the natives at the Wallah Wallah river
—Two killed—Encamp on an island for safety—Indians demand two white men as a sacrifice—Arrival of a chieftain;
—His speech, and peace restored.
On the 24th of October we proceeded overland
with the produce of the summer's trade to Oakinagan, where, being joined by the people of that
district, we embarked for Fort George, at which
place we arrived on the 8th of November.   \
There were few natives at the falls or rapids,
and they conducted themselves quietly.    We ex- ^ EXPEDITION.
amined the spot in which we had interred poor
LtAmaureux, and found it untouched. The low
state of the water at this advanced season caused
us to make a few dScharges, which would not have
been necessary in the summer: it however enabled us to shoot down the great narrows below
the falls without taking out a pack. We remained only a few days at Fort George, from
which place we took our departure for the interior
on the 18th of November.
We had eight canoes, and our party consisted
of Messrs. Keith, Stewart, La Rocque, M'Tavish,
M'Donald, M'Millan, M'Kay, M'Kenzie, Montour, and myself. We had fifty-four canoe-men,
including six Sandwich islanders. We passed in
safety the places where hostility was apprehended;
and the day after we had passed the falls, we
threw by our leathern armour as no longer necessary, and the men stowed their muskets into long
cases, which were placed under the trading goods
in the bottom of the canoes.
On arriving a few miles above the entrance of
the Wallah Wallah river, at a place about equidistant between that and Lewis River, a number ATTEMPT   TO   PLUNDER. O
of canoes filled with natives paddled down on our
brigade, apparently without any hostile design.
We were on the south side, and advancing slowly
with the poles. Mr. Keith was in the first canoe,
Mr. Stewart in the second, Messrs. La Rocque
und M'Millan in the third, Messrs. M'Donald and
M'Kay in the fourth, M'Tavish and I in the fifth,
Montour in the sixth, M'Kenzie in the seventh,
and Pierre Michel, the interpreter, in the eighth.
The Indians at first asked a little tobacco from
Mr. Keith, which he gave them: they then proceeded to Mr. Stewart, who also gave them a
small quantity; after which they dropped down
on Messrs. La Rocque and M'Millan, from whose
canoe they attempted to take some goods by force,
but were repulsed by the men, who struck their
hands with the paddles. They next came to
M'Donald, and seized a bale of tobacco which
was in the forepart of his canoe, which they
attempted to take out. At the same time my
canoe was stopped, as well as those in the rear,
and a determined resolution was evinced to plunder us by force.
We were awkwardly circumstanced: the only arms at hand were those in the possession of the
officers; and with the exception of paddles, the
men had no weapons ready. Anxious to avoid
coming to extremities as long as possible, without
compromising our character, we endeavoured to
keep them in check with the paddles; but our
efforts were unavailing, and some hard blows
were given and received. Still we refrained from
the dernier ressort, and Mr. Keith gave orders not
to fire while there was a possibility of preserving
the property. The fellow who had seized the
bale in M'Donald's canoe was a tall athletic
man : he resisted all their entreaties to let it go,
and had taken it partly out of the canoe, when
M'Kay gave him a severe blow with the butt end
of his gun, which obliged him to drop the prize.
He instantly placed an arrow in his bow, which
he presented at M'Donald; but the latter coolly
stretched forth his brawny arm, seized the arrow,
which he broke, and threw into the fellow's face.
The savage, enraged at being thus foiled, ordered
his canoe to push off, and was just in the act of
letting fly another arrow, when M'Kay fired, and
hit him in the forehead : he instantly fell; upon SKIRMISH.
which two of his companions bent their bows; but
before their arrows had time to wing their flight
M'Donald's double-barrelled gun stopped them.
He shot one between the eyes, and the ball from
the second barrel lodged in the shoulder of the
survivor. The moment they fell a shower of
arrows was discharged at us; but owing to the
undulating motion of their canoes, as well as ours,
we escaped uninjured. Orders were now issued
to such as had their arms ready, to fire; but in a
moment our assailants became invisible. After
they had discharged their arrows, they had thrown
themselves prostrate in their canoes, which, drifting rapidly down the current, were quickly carried beyond the reach of our shot.
We lost no time in putting ashore for the purpose of arming the men, and distributing ammunition. The few Indians who were on our side
of the river fled on seeing us land, and those who
had gained the opposite bank fired several shots
at us; but, owing to the great distance, their balls
fell short.. The Columbia at this place was nearly
a mile wide; night was fast approaching, and it
was necessary to select a proper place for an en- ENCAMPMENT.
campment, at which we might remain, until measures should be adopted for bringing about a
reconciliation with the natives. A short distance
higher up in the centre of the river lay a narrow
island, about two miles in length, quite low, void
of timber, and covered with small stones and
sand. It was deemed the safest place to withstand an attack, or prevent a surprise; and orders
were therefore given to collect as much drift-wood
as possible on the main shore for the purpose of
cooking. This Was speedily effected, after which
we pushed off; but had not proceeded more than
one hundred yards when several arrows were
discharged at us from the side we had just left,
although at the time we embarked no Indian was
visible for miles around. One man was slightly
wounded in the neck, and another rather severely
in the shoulder: a few of the arrows struck the
canoes; but the greater part did not reach us.
We however gained the island without further
injury, and forthwith proceeded to intrench ourselves behind a line of sand-banks, by which we
were effectually covered from the range of the
enemy's shot from either side. PERILOUS   SITUATION. 7
The brigade was divided into three watches.
The night was dark, cold, and stormy, with occasional showers of rain. It was judged prudent to
extinguish the camp fires, lest their light might
serve as a beacon to the Indians in attacking us.
This precaution, although by no means relished
by the men, probably saved the party ; for, about
an hour before day-break, several of the savages
were discovered close to the camp, which they
were silently approaching on their hands and feet;
but on being fired at by our sentinels they quickly
retreated, apprehensive of injuring each other in
the dark ; and shortly after we heard the sound
of their paddles quitting the island.
Our meditations this night were far from
pleasing; and when we reflected on the hopelessness of our situation, in the centre of a great river,
the natives on each side of which were brave,
powerful, and hostile; our numbers, comparatively few, and the majority men in whose courage
we could not confide; added to which, the impossibility of procuring the least assistance, we
almost despaired of being able to join our friends
in the interior. We therefore made up our minds
for the worst; interchanged short notes directed 8 PERILOUS   SITUATION.
to such of our friends as we felt anxious should
know our fate, and resolved to sell our lives
Shortly after day-break a council of war was
held; and after some discussion, we determined
to quit the island, demand a parley, and offer a
certain quantity of goods to appease the relations of the deceased.
The only dissentient to a compromise was
our Highland friend M'Donald, whose spirit
could not brook the idea of purchasing safety from
It blew a strong gale during the day, which
prevented us from embarking, and constrained us
to pass another melancholy night on the island,
without wood sufficient to make a solitary fire.
Towards midnight the storm subsided ; the sky
was dark, and*not a star twinkled through the
gloomy atmosphere. Mr. Keith commanded the
second watch, and I was sitting with him at the
extremity of the camp, when we observed a large
fire on a hill in a north-west direction. It was
immediately answered by one in the- opposite
point, which was followed by others to the eastward and westward; while the indistinct sounds 9
of paddles from canoes crossing and recrossing,
afforded strong proofs that our enemies by vigilant
watching, and constant communication, had determined that we should not escape them in the
Shortly after these threatening indications a
flight of ravens passed quietly over our heads,
the fluttering of whose wings was scarcely audible. Some of the Canadians were near us, and
one of them, named Landreville, in rather a dejected tone, said to his comrades, " My friends,
it is useless to hope. Our doom is fixed : tomorrow we shall die." —" Cher frere, what do
you mean ?" eagerly inquired half-a-dozen voices.
"Behold yon, ravens," he replied; "their appearance by night in times of danger betokens
approaching death. I cannot be mistaken. They
know our fate, and will hover about us until the
arrows of the savages give them a banquet on our
Landreville in other respects was a steady sensible man, but, like his countrymen, deeply imbued with superstitious ideas. Mr. Keith saw
the bad impression which these ominous forebodings was likely to produce on the men, and 10 OMENS.   ■
at once determined to counteract it. This he knew
it would have been useless to attempt by reasoning with people whose minds such absurd notions
would have closed against conviction, and therefore thought it better to combat their prejudices
with their own weapons. " I have no doubt, my
friends," said he, " that the appearance of ravens
at night portends either death or some great disaster. We believe the same thing in Scotland;
the opinion prevails throughout all Europe, and
you have inherited it from your French ancestors;
but at the same time, I must tell you, that no
fatality is ever^apprehended, except their appearance is accompanied by croaking; then indeed
the most direful consequences are likely to follow;
but when their flight is calm and tranquil, as we
have just witnessed, they are always the harbingers of good news." This well-timed reply completely dissipated their fears, and the poor fellows
exclaimed, "You are right, sir, you are right.
We believe you, sir; you speak reason. Courage,
friends; there's no danger."
The morning of the 1st of December rose cold
and bright over the plains of the Columbia, as we
prepared to quit our cheerless encampment.    The i
voyageurs were all assembled by Mr. Keith, who
told them that every exertion consistent with
reason should be adopted towards effecting an
amicable arrangement; but that it was absolutely
necessary to show the savages a bold front, and
that while we tendered them the hand of peace,
we should make them feel that we were not influenced by the dread of war. He reminded
them of the many glorious deeds performed in
Canada by their gallant French ancestors, a few
hundreds of whom often defeated as many thousand Indians $ and concluded by expressing a hope
that they would not degenerate from the bravery <
of their forefathers. They replied by three cheers,
and declared themselves ready to obey all his
He next addressed the Sandwich islanders, and
asked them, would they fight the bad people,
who had attempted to rob us, in case it was necessary? Their answer was laconic: " Missi Keit,
we kill every man you bid us." So far all was
satisfactory; and after having examined their
muskets, and given each man an additional glass
of rum, we embarked, and in a few minutes
reached the northern  shore,   where  we landed. 12 PARLEY..
Two men were left in each canoe; and the remainder of the party, amounting to forty-eight, including all the known shades of humanity, ascended
the bank. None of the natives were visible, and
we remained about half an hour, undecided as to
what course we should adopt, when a few mounted
Indians made their appearance at some distance.
Michel, the interpreter, was sent forward alone,
carrying a long pole, to which was attached a
white handkerchief, and hailed them several times
without obtaining an answer.
They appeared to understand the import of our
white flag; and after a little hesitation two of
them approached, and demanded to know what
we had to say ? Michel replied that the white
chiefs were anxious to see their chiefs and elders,
and to have a " talk" with them on the late disagreeable affair. One of them replied that he
would inform his friends, and let us know the
result; upon which he and his companion * gal-
lopped off. They returned in a short time, and
stated that the neighbouring chiefs, with the
friends and relatives of the men who had been
killed, would join us immediately.
In less than half an hour a number of mounted DEATH-SONG.
Indians appeared, preceded by about one hundred and fifty warriors on foot, all well armed with
guns, spears, tomahawks, bows, and well furnished quivers. They stopped within about fifty
yards of our party. Among them we recognised
several of the Wallah Wallahs ; but in vain looked
for our old friend Tamtappam, their chief: he was
A group of between thirty and forty equally well
armed now approached from the interior. Their
hair was cut short, as a sign of mourning; their
bodies were nearly naked, and besmeared with
red paint. This party consisted of the immediate
relatives of the deceased; and as they advanced
they chanted a death-song, part of which ran as
" Rest, brothers, rest! You will be avenged.
The tears of your widows shall cease to flow, when
they behold the blood of your murderers ; and
your young children shall leap and sing with joy,
on seeing their scalps. Rest, brothers, in peace ;
we shall have blood."
They took up their position in the centre; and
the whole party then formed themselves into an
extended crescent.   Among them were natives of 14
the Chimnapum, Yackaman, Sokulk, and Wallah
Wallah tribes. Their language is nearly the same;
but they are under separate chiefs, and in time of
war always unite against the Shoshone or Snake
Indians, a powerful nation, who inhabit the plains
to the southward.
From Chili to Athabasca, and from Nootka to
the Labrador, there is an indescribable coldness
about an American savage that checks familiarity.
He is a stranger to our hopes, our fears, our joys,
or our sorrows: his eyes are seldom moistened by
a tear, or his features relaxed by a smile; and
whether he basks beneath a vertical sun on the
burning plains of Amazonia, or freezes in eternal
winter on the ice-bound shores of the Arctic
Ocean, the same piercing black eyes, and stern
immobility of countenance, equally set at nought
the skill of the physiognomist.
On the present occasion, their painted skin, cut
hair, and naked bodies, imparted to their appearance a degree of ferocity from which we boded no
good result. They remained stationary for some
time, and preserved a profound silence.
Messrs. Keith, Stewart, La Rocque, and the
interpreter, at length  advanced  about mid-way NEGOTIATIONS.
between both parties unarmed, and demanded
to speak with them; upon which two chiefs, accompanied by six of the mourners, proceeded to
join them. Mr. Keith offered them the calumet of
peace, which they refused to accept, in a manner
at once cold and repulsive.
Michel was thereupon ordered to tell them that,
as we had always been on good terms with them,
we regretted much that the late unfortunate circumstance had occurred to disturb our friendly
intercourse; but that as we were anxious to restore
harmony, and to forget what had passed, we were
now willing to compensate the relations of the
deceased for the loss they had sustained.
They inquired what kind of compensation was
intended ; and on being informed that it consisted
of two suits of chiefs' clothes, with blankets, tobacco, and ornaments for the women, &c, it was
indignantly refused; and their spokesman stated
that no discussion could be entered into until two
white men (one of whom should be the big redheaded chief) were delivered to them to be sacrificed, according to their law, to the spirits of the
departed warriors.   . 16
Every eye turned on M'Donald, who, on hearing the demand, " grinned horribly a ghastly
smile ;" and who, but for our interposition, would
on the spot have chastised the insolence of the
speaker. The men were horrified, and " fear and
trembling" became visible in their countenances,
until Mr. Keith, who had observed these symptoms of terror, promptly restored their confidence,
by telling them that such an ignominious demand
should never be complied with.
He then addressed the Indians in a calm, firm
voice, and told them that no consideration whatever should induce him to deliver a white man to
their vengeance; that they had been the original
aggressors, and in their unjustifiable attempt to
seize by force our property, the deceased had lost
their lives: that he was willing to believe the
attack was unpremeditated, and under that impression he had made the offer of compensation."
He assured them that he preferred their friendship
to their enmity; but that, if unfortunately they
were not actuated by the same feelings, the white
men would not, however deeply they might lament
it, shrink from the contest.   At the same time he UNSUCCESSFUL    NEGOTIATION.
reminded them of our superiority in arms and
ammunition ; and that for every man belonging to
our party who might fall, ten of their friends
at least would suffer; and concluded by requesting them calmly to weigh and consider all these
matters, and to bear in recollection, that upon the
result of their deliberation would in a great measure depend whether white men would remain in
their country, or quit it for ever.
The interpreter having repeated the above, a violent debate took place among the principal natives.
One party advised the demand for the two white
men to be withdrawn, and to ask in their place a
greater quantity of goods and ammunition ; while
the other, which was by far the most numerous*
and to which all the relatives of the deceased belonged, opposed all compromise, unaccompanied
by the delivery of the victims.
The arguments and threats of the latter gradually thinned the ranks of the more moderate ;
and Michel told Mr. Keith that he was afraid an
accommodation was impossible. Orders were
thereupon issued to prepare for action, and the
men were told, when they received from Mr. Keith
the signal, to be certain that each shot should tell.
In the mean time a number of the natives had
withdrawn some distance from the scene of deliberation, and from their fierce and threatening
looks, joined to occasional whispers, we momentarily expected they would commence an
A few of their .speakers still lingered, anxious
for peace; but their feeble efforts were unavailing
when opposed to the more powerful influence of
the hostile party, who repeatedly called on them
to retire, and allow the white men to proceed on
their journey as well as they could. All but two
chiefs and an elderly man, who had taken an
active part in the debate, obeyed the call, and
they remained for some time apparently undecided what course to adopt.
From this group our eyes glanced to an extended line of the enemy who were forming behind them; and from their motions it became
evident that their intention was to outflank us.
We therefore changed our position, and formed
our men into single files, each man about three
feet from his comrade. The friendly natives
began to fall back slowly towards their companions, most of whom had already concealed
themselves behind large stones, tufts of wormwood, and furze bushes, from which they could
have taken a more deadly aim ; and Messrs. Keith
and Stewart, who had now abandoned all hopes
of an amicable termination, called for their arms.
An awful pause ensued, when our attention
was arrested by the loud tramping of horses, and
immediately after twelve mounted warriors dashed
into the space between the two parties, where
they halted, and dismounted. They were headed
by a young chief, of fine figure, who instantly ran
up to Mr. Keith, to wbQ^ fee-presented his hand
in the most friendly manner, which exampikl-- was
followed by his companions. He then commanded our eneniies to quit their places of concealment, and to appear before him. His orders
were promptly obeyed ; and having made hlimself
acquainted with the circumstances that led to the
deaths of the two Indians, and our efforts tpavafds
effecting a reconciliation, he addressed them in a
speech of considerable length, of which the following is a brief sketch :
" Friends and relations! Three snows have
only passed oVe¥ our heads since we were a poor
miserable people. Our enemies the Shoshones,
during the summer, stole our horses, by which we
were prevented from hunting, and drove us from
the banks of the river, so that we could not get
fish. In winter, they burned our lodges by night;
they killed our relations; they treated our wives
and daughters like dogs, and left us either to die
from cold or starvation, or become their slaves.
" They were numerous and powerful; we were
few, and weak. Our hearts were as the hearts of
little children : we could not fight like warriors,
and were driven like deer about the plains. When
the thunders rolled, and the rains poured, we had
no spot in which we could seek a shelter; no
place, save the rocks, whereon we could lay our
heads. Is such the case to-day ? No, my relations ! it is not. We have driven the Shoshones
from our hunting-grounds, on which they dare not
now appear, and have regained possession of the
lands of our fathers, in which they and  their ELOQUENT   ADDRESS. 21
fathers' fathers lie buried. We have horses and
provisions in abundance, and can sleep unmolested with our wives and our children, without
dreading the midnight attacks of our enemies.
Our hearts are great within us, and we are now a
nation I
" Who then, my friends, have produced this
change ? The white men. In exchange for our
horses and for our furs, they gave us guns and
ammunition; then-we became strong; we killed
many of our enemies, and forced them to fly from
our lands. And are we to treat those who have
been the cause of this happy change with ingratitude ? Never! Never ! The white people have
never robbed us; and, I ask, why should we
attempt to rob them ? It was bad, very bad!—
and they were right in killing the robbers."
Here symptoms of impatience and dissatisfaction
became manifest among a group consisting chiefly
of the relations of the deceased; on observing
which, he continued in a louder tone: "Yes! I
say they acted right in killing the robbers; and
who among you will dare to contradict me ?
" You know well my father was killed by the 23- ELOQUENT   ADDRESS.
.enemy, when you all deserted him likfefdoWardisJ '
and, while the Great Master of Life spares me,
no hostile foot shall again be set on our lands. I
know you all; and I knowjtfeat those who^are
afraid of their bodies in battle are thfeVes when
they are out of it; but the warrior of the strong
arfti and the great heart will never rob a friend."
After a short pause, he'resumed : " My Mends*
the Wiiite men are brave, and belong to a great
nation. They are many moons crossing the great
lake in coming from their own country to serv©
us. If you were foolish enough to attack them*
they would kill a great many of you; but suppose
you should succeed in destroying all that are now
present, what would be the consequence? A
greater number would come next year to retenge
the death of their relations, alid they would annihilate our tribe; or should not that happen, their
friends at home, on hearing of their deaths, would
say we were a bad and a wicked people, and white
men would never more come among us. We
should then be reduced to our former state of
misery and persecution; our ammunition would
be quickly expended;   our guns would become ELOQUENT   ADDRESS.
useless, and we should again be driven from our
Jands, and the lands of our fathers, to wander like
deer and wolves in the midst of the woods and
plains. 1 therefore say the whte men must v®$.
be injured ! They have offered you compensation
for the loss of your friends : take it: hut, if yo#
should refuse, I tell you to your faces that I will
join them with my own band of warriors; and
should one white man fall by the arrow of an
Indian, that Indian, if he were my brother, with
all his family, shall become victims to my veg?
geance." Then, raising his voice, he called put*
" Let the Wallah Wallahs, and all whpiove me,
and are fond of the white men, come fovfjfi #nql
smoke the pipe of peace !" Upwards of one hun-
jj#ed of our late adversaries obeyed the call, and
separated themselves from their g^ies. The harangue of the youthful chieftain silenced all oppof-
sition. The afeove is but a faint outline of the
arguments he made use of, for he spoke upwap^s
of two hours; and Michel confessed himself unable
to translate a great portion of his language, particularly when he soared into the wild flights of
metaphor, so common among Indians.   H£s deli- 24 ' MORNING   STAR.'
very was impassioned ; and his action, although
sometimes violent, was generally bold, graceful,
and energetic. Our admiration at the time knew
no bounds; and the orators of Greece or Rome,
when compared with him, dwindled in our estimation into insignificance.
Through this chiefs mediation, the various
claimants were in a short time fully satisfied,
without the flaming scalp of our Highland hero;
after which a circle was formed by oht people and
the Indians indiscriminately: the white and red
chiefs occupied the centre, and our return to
friendship was ratified by each individual in rotation taking an amicable whiff from the peace-
cementing calumet.
The chieftain whose timely arrival had rescued
us from impending destruction was called "Morning Star." His age did not exceed twenty-five
years. His father had been a chief of great bravery and influence, and had been killed in battle
by the Shoshones a few years before. He was
succeeded by Morning Star, who, notwithstanding
his youth, had performed prodigies of valour.
Nineteen scalps decorated the neck of his war ' MORNING .STAR.' 25
horse, the owners of which had been all killed in
battle by himself to appease the spirit of his deceased father. He wished to increase the number
of his victims to twenty; but the terror inspired
by his name, joined to the superiority which
his tribe derived from the use of fire-arms, prevented him from making up the desired complement, by banishing the enemy from the banks of
the Columbia.*
His handsome features, eagle glance, noble
bearing, and majestic person, stamped him one of
Nature's own aristocracy; while his bravery in the
field, joined to his wisdom in their councils, commanded alike the involuntary homage of the
young, and the respect of the old.
We gave the man who had been wounded in
the shoulder a chief's coat; and to the relations of
the men who were killed we gave two coats, two
blankets, two fathoms of cloth, two spears, forty
bullets and powder, with a quantity of trinkets,
and two small kettles for their widows. We also
distributed nearly half a bale of tobacco among all
* The Indians consider the attainment of twenty scalps as
the summit of a warrior's glory. 26
present, and our youthful deliverer was presented
by Mr. Keith with a handsome fowling-piece, and
some other valuable articles.
Four men were then ordered to each canoe, and
they proceeded on with the poles; while the remainder, with the passengers, followed by land.
We were mixed pell-mell with the natives for
several miles: the ground was covered with large
stones, small willows, and prickly pears; and had
they been inclined to break the solemn compact
into which they had entered, they could haye
destroyed us with the utmost facility.
At dusk we bade farewell to the friendly chieftain and his companions, and crossed to the south
side, where we encamped, a few miks above Lewis
River, and spent the night in tranquillity.
It may be imagined by some that the part we
acted in the foregoing transaction betrayed iQo
great an anxiety for self-preservation ; but when
it is recollected that we were several hundred
miles from any assistance, with a deep and rapid
river to ascend by the tecSous and laborious process of poling, and that the desultory Cossack
mode of fighting in .use among the Indians, par- THE   CAMPAIGN. 2f
ticularly the horsemen, would have cut us off in
piece-meal ere we had advanced three days, it
will be seen that, under the circumstances, we
could not have acted otherwise.
We reached Oakinagan without further interruption on the 12th of December, at which place
we remained a few days, to recruit the men, and
prepare for the land journey with the horses. 28 . EXPEDITION.
Author and party lost in a snow-storm—Curious instance of
mental abstraction—Poor Ponto—Arrive at Spokan House—
A marriage—Great ravine—Agates— Hot-springs—Kitchen-
garden—Indian manner of hunting the deer—Method adopted
by the wolves for the same purpose—Horse-racing—Great
On the 13th of December the Spokan brigade
to which I was attached took its departure from
Oakinagan. The party consisted, besides, of
Messrs. Stewart, M'Tavish, M'Millan, and Montour ; with twenty-one Canadians, and four
Sandwich islanders. We had twenty-six loaded
horses; and in addition to our ordinary stock of
provisions, we purchased forty dogs from the natives at Oakinagan, which were killed, after we
had crossed the river, and formed part of the
loading. SNOW-STORMS. 29
The cold was intense, and the ground covered
with ten to twelve inches of snow. This necessarily impeded our progress, and prevented us
from advancing more than twelve miles a day.
On the 16th, which was the fourth day of our
journey, it snowed incessantly. The line of
march was long and straggling, and those in front
were several miles in advance of the rear division,
of which I had charge with M'Tavish. We had
eight loaded horses, with four Canadians, and two
Sandwich islanders.
Towards evening a heavy storm arose from the
north-east, which added to the desolation by
which we were surrounded; while the chilling
monotony of the wide and extended plains was
partially varied by immense masses of drifting
snow, which, like the fitful vapour that so often
enshrouds our northern mountains, occasionally
concealed from our view the cheerless extent
of the wintry horizon. On the approach of darkness the violence of the storm subsided; but it
was followed by one of those calm, clear, freezing
nights so common in the interior of America, and
from the death-benumbing influence of which it 30 BIVOUACK   IN  THE   SNOW.
is nearly impossible to avoid that sleep from
which many an unfortunate wanderer never
awakens. We were now completely bewildered ;
all traces of the path had been destroyed by
the drift; the cold became every instant more
painfully intense, and
Horsemen and horse confessed the bitter pang.
Three of the poor animals having at length
given up, we were reluctantly obliged to stop
and unload them; and after searching, in vain,
for wood to make a fire, we were compelled to
make a large excavation in the snow, in which
we resolved to pass the night.
The horses which carried our provisions and
blankets were ahead, and we fired several shots
in the hope of obtaining relief, but without success. M'Tavish and I, however, fortunately obtained a blanket from one of the men, with which,
and some of the saddle-cloths, we contrived to
guard against the effects of the piercing cold
during the night.
We arose with the first dawn of morning, and
prepared to renew our march ; but on mustering - MENTAL   ABSTRACTION. 31
the horses, we found one of them dead, and the
two Sandwich islanders dreadfully frost-bitten.
To add to our distress, M'Tavish and I had omitted
the wise precaution of placing our moccasins under our bodies, (the warmth of which would have
preserved them from being congealed,) in consequence of which we found them, on awakening,
frozen as hard as clogs. All our endeavours to
soften them by puffing, rubbing, &c. were unavailing, and we were ultimately obliged to have recourse to an extraordinary process, which produced
the desired effect. After reloading, we resumed
our march; which, owing to the depth and hardness of the snow, was painfully tedious. We had
not advanced more than three miles when I missed
my fowling-piece; and imagining that I had left
ft at the place where we had passed the night, I
returned to look for it; but on arriving at the spot,.
I was much annoyed to find the object of my
search lying across my arms! To account for this
instance of mental abstraction^ it is necessary to
remember the disagreeable situation in which I
was placed;—in charge of a party who had lost
itself in a trackless wilderness of snow, and unable 32 PROVISIONS,
to discover any vestiges of its companions; two of
the number disabled from walking, and both men
and horses almost exhausted from cold and want
of nourishment; in addition to which, I had been
accustomed for some days previously to carry my
fowling-piece over the left shoulder, from which I
suddenly missed the weight, and, without mentioning the circumstance to any of the men, turned
back on my fool's errand.
Shortly after rejoining the party we came in
view of a cluster of small trees, from the centre of
which arose large volumes of friendly vapour.
Here we found Messrs. Stewart and M'Millan
with the remainder of the brigade, comfortably
seated round a cheering fire, partaking of a plentiful breakfast. We hastened to join them, and
quickly despatched part of a hind-quarter and a
few ribs of roasted dog.
Mr. Stewart had a beautiful English water-
spaniel, called Ponto. After breakfast he asked
M'Tavish how he liked his fare; to which the
latter replied that he thought it was excellent.-
" And pray, my dear Alick," said Stewart, " do
you know what   you have just been eating?" - POOR  PONTO. 33
"Not exactly," replied he; "I liked the meat so
well that I never thought of asking its name; but
I suppose it is one of the wild sheep that I hear
you have in these parts."—" No indeed," said
Stewart: " finding ourselves short of provisions,
we were obliged to kill Ponto, on part of which
you have made so hearty a breakfast."—" Poor
Ponto!" ejaculated the philosophical Highlander:
" I am sorry for him; but it cannot now be helped."
Ponto was a fine animal, full of vivacity, and had
become a general favourite. I could not account
for his death, seeing there was no necessity to
justify the murder of a civilised dog, while several
of those which had been purchased at Oakinagan
still remained untouched. On inquiring the reason, I was told that in consequence of his being
in excellent condition, he was deemed a fit dish
pour la table d'un bourgeois* This was by no means
satisfactory, as I observed at the men's messes
several prime pieces of the native dogs, which I
thought ought to have satisfied people more fastidious than we had a right to be on such an occa-
JR The Canadians call every proprietor un bourgeois.
sion: besides, I would have preferred picking the
bones of the most maigre of the Indian breed, to
the plumpest of our own faithful companions.
Their keen eye, sharp nose, and pointed upright
ear, proclaim their wolfish origin, and fail to enlist
our sympathies in their behalf; in consequence of
which our repugnance to eat them in periods of
necessity is considerably diminished.
We rested at this encampment the remainder
of the day to refresh the horses, and in the evening I was highly delighted at again seeing the
animated figure of poor Ponto as lively and playful as ever. He had not been injured, and the
melancholy story of his death, &c. was a pure
invention of the " old one's" to work on our juvenile sympathies.
From hence to Spokan we had a tedious and
miserable march of seven days in deep snow, in
the course of which we lost five horses; and of
those which survived the journey, several perished
during the winter.
I remained at Spokan in company with Messrs.
Stewart and M'Tavish, and passed rather an agreeable winter.   The deer were not so numerous as ADVERTISERS   FOR   A   WIFE.
in former seasons, and we chiefly subsisted on
horses. Towards the latter end of January carp
became plentiful in Spokan river, and about a
month later the trout-fishing commenced. We
took large quantities of both, which afforded us
excellent amusement; and from that period until
late in the spring, we generally breakfasted on
fish and dined on horse.
In the course of the winter an incident occurred
which threatened at the time to interrupt the harmony that had previously existed between our
people and the Spokan Indians. One of our
younger clerks, having become tired of celibacy,
resolved to take a wife; and as none of the Columbian half-breeds had attained a sufficiently
mature age, he was necessitated to make his selection from the Spokan tribe. He therefore
requested the interpreter to make an inquiry
in the village, and ascertain whether any unappropriated comely young woman was willing to
become the partner of a juvenile chief. A pretty-
looking damsel, about seventeen years of age,
immediately became a candidate for the prize. As
her father had died some years before, she was 36 BRIDAL   PURIFICATIONS.
under the guardianship of her mother, who, with
her brother, settled the terms of the negotiation.
Blankets and kettles were presented to her principal relations ; while beads, hawk-bells, &c.
were distributed among the remaining kindred.
About nine o'clock at night the bride was conducted to the fort gate by her mother, and, after
an apathetic parting, she was consigned to the care
of one of the men's wives, called " the scourer,"
conversant in such affairs, who had her head and
body thoroughly cleansed from all the Indian
paint and grease with which they had been saturated. After this purification she was handed
over to the dressmaker,, who instantly discharged
her leathern chemise, and supplied its place by
more appropriate clothing ; and the following
morning, when she appeared in her new habiliments, we thought her one of the most engaging
females that we had previously seen of the Spokan nation.
Matters rolled on pleasantly enough for a few
days, and the youthful couple appeared mutually
enamoured of each other; but a " little week" had
scarcely passed over their heads when, one day INDIAN   HARANGUE. 37
about two o'clock, a number of young warriors well
mounted galloped into the court-yard of the fort
armed at all points. Their appearance was so unusual, and unlike the general manner of the Spokan
nation, that we were at a loss to account for it,
and vague suspicions of treachery began to flit
across our imaginations ; but the mystery was
shortly cleared up. The bride, on perceiving the
foremost horseman of the band enter the court,
instantly fled into an adjoining store, in which she
concealed herself; while he and his associates
dismounted, and demanded to speak with the
principal white chief, at the same time requesting
the other chiefs would also appear. His wishes
having been complied with, he addressed us in
substance to the following effect: " Three snows
have passed away since the white men came from
their own country to live among the Spokans.
When the Evil Spirit thought proper to distress
the white people by covering the waters of the
rivers with ice, so that they could not catch any
fish, and sent snow all over the mountains and
the plains, by means whereof their horses were
nearly destroyed by the wolves,—when their own 38 INDIAN   HARANGUE,
hunters in fact could not find an animal, did the
Spokans take advantage of their afflictions ? Did
they rob them of their horses like Sinapoil dogs ?
Did they say, The white men are now poor and
starving; th§y are a great distance from their own
country and from any assistance, and we can
easily take all their goods from them, and sencl.
them away naked and hungry? No! we never
spoke or even thought of such bad things. The
white men came amongst us with confidence, and
our hearts were glad to see them; they paid us
for our fish, for our meat, and for our furs. We
thought they were all good people, and in particular their chiefs ; but I find we were wrong in so
thinking." Here he paused for a short period;
after which he thus recommenced : " My relations
and myself left our village some days ago for the
purpose of hunting. We returned home this
morning. Their wives and their children leaped
with joy to meet them, and all their hearts were
glad but mine. I went to my hut, and called on
my wife to come forth; but she did not appear.
I was sorrowful and hungry, and went into my
brother's hut, where I was told that she had gone EXPLANATION. 39
away, and had become the wife of a white chief.
She is now in your house. I come, therefore,
white men, to demand justice. I first require that
my wife be delivered up to me. She has acted
like a dog, and I shall live no more with her; but
I shall punish her as she deserves. And in the
next place, I expect, as you have been the cause of
my losing her, that you will give me ample compensation for her loss." Our interpreter immediately explained to the Indian that the girl's relatives were the cause of the trick that had been
played on him; and added, that had bur friend
been aware of her having been a married woman,
he never would have thought of making her his
wife. That he was willing to give him reasonable
compensation for her loss; but that she should
not be delivered to him except he undertook
not to injure her. He refused to make any promise, and still insisted on her restitution ; but as
we had reason to fear that her life would have
been sacrificed, we refused to comply. The old
chief next addresse43_im for some time; the result
of which was, that he agreed to accept of a gun,
one hundred rounds of ammunition, three blan- 40 a wife's value.
kets, two kettles, a spear/a dagger, ten fathoms of
tobacco, with a quantity of smaller articles, and to
leave his frail helpmate in quiet possession of her
pale-faced spouse, promising never more to think
of her, or do her any harm. Exorbitant as these
terms were, it was judged advisable to accede
to them rather than disturb the good fejeling
that had hitherto subsisted between us. After we
had delivered the above articles to him, we all
smoked the calumet; on perceiving which, the
fugitive, knowing that it was the ratification of
peace, emerged from her place of concealment,
and boldly walked past her late lord. She caught
his eye for a moment; but no sign of recognition
appeared; and neither anger nor regret seemed
to disturb the natural serenity of his cold and
swarthy countenance.
Shortly after the arrival of the parties from the
Cootonais and Flat-heads, we took our departure
for the sea; and having joined the gentlemen at
Oakinagan, proceeded together, and arrived without accident on the 3d of April at Fort George.
Here we found a handsome brig belonging to the
Company, which had arrived some time before, RECOGNITION. 41
well loaded with articles necessary both for the
interior and coasting trade.
• We remained only a fortnight at the fort, which
we again left on the 16ft of April for the interior.
We saw few Indians on the Columbia until we
reached they ^allah Wallah river, at which we
stopped half a day to purchase horses. We recognised several of the party who had attacked us
the preceding autumn, particularly the relatives
of the Indians who had been killed, and who were
easily distinguished by their short cropped hair.
They came however among us unarmed, and all
recollection of that unpleasant affair seemed to
have vanished from their memories.
About forty miles above Lewis River Messrs.
Stewart, M'Millan, and I, with three men, quitted the canoes to proceed overland to Spokan
House. During this journey, which occupied
five or six days, we did not meet a single native;
and with the exception of a few stunted red cedar
trees, and some Juniper birch and willow, the
country was divested of wood. Early on the
morning of the second day we entered a remark- 42
able ravine, with high, bold, and rocky sides,
through which we rode upwards of twenty moles,
when we were obliged to leave it in order to follow our direct course. The soil in this ravine
is a fine whitish-coloured clay, firm and hard.
There is but little vegetation, except on the sides,
where clusters of willow and choke-cherry are
occasionally met with. While we rode through
it we passed several small lakes, round the shores
of which I picked up some very fine pebbles of
the agate species, extremely hard, and possessing
great delicacy and variety of shading. The banks
of the Columbia, from the falls up to Lewis River,
abound with pebbles of the same description;
some of which I brought home, and had cut. They
take a beautiful polish, and in the opinion of lapidaries far exceed the cornelian in value.
It is a curious circumstance that we observed
no rattlesnakes in this valley; and we subsequently learned from the Indians that they never
$avr any; although those reptiles are very nume^
roils m the plains on each side. The natives were
unahle to assign any cause for this; and, except HOT SPRINGS. 43
it be in the peculiarity of the soil, we were equally
at a loss to account for it.
The following day we passed two warm springs,
one of which was so hot, that in a short time water
in a saucepan might be easily boiled over it. They
were both highly sulphuric; but we had not time,
nor indeed were we prepared to analyse their
properties. The soil in their immediate vici
nity was firm white clay, and the grass quite
On leaving the canoes we expected to have
reached Spokan on the third day; but in consequence of having no guide, joined to the difficulty of finding water, we took double the time on
which we bad calculated. Our provisions had
failed; and we were about killing one of our jaded
horses, when we came in sight of a few lean deer,
two of which we shot. This supply brought us
to Spokan House, which place we reached on the
12th of May. The party with the trading goods
arrived a few days after from Oakinagan.
I passed the summer at Spokan with the gen^
tlemen already mentioned, in addition to Messrs.
Mackenzie and Montour, in as agreeable a man- 44 HORTICULTURE.
ner as men possibly could in such a country.
Our kitchen-garden now began to .assume a
thriving appearance, and, in addition to a fine crop
of potatoes, we reared a quantity of other excellent esculents. The soil was deep and rich ; and
a few melons and cucumbers, which we had
put down, throve admirably. The Indians, who at
first would not touch any thing which we planted,
began at length to have such a relish for the produce of the garden, that we were obliged to have
sentinels on the watch to prevent their continual
trespasses. We offered some of them potatoes to
plant, and pointed out the good effects that would
result from their cultivation; but they were too
thoughtless and improvident to follow our advice.
We strongly impressed on their minds that if
the system was generally adopted it would prevent the recurrence of famine, to which they
were subject; but to this they replied, that it
would interfere with their hunting.and fishing,
and prevent their women from collecting their
own country fruits and roots in the autumn, and
thereby render them lazy.    All our arguments DANGEROUS   RAVINE. 45
were unavailing, and we were obliged to allow
them to continue in their own course.
During the summer we made several excursions of from one to three weeks' duration to the
neighbouring friendly tribes, for the purpose of
obtaining a more accurate knowledge of their respective lands. Of the information thus obtained
I shall have to speak hereafter. In some of these
journeys we had to cross the great ravine already
mentioned. It is computed to be about eighty
miles in length, and presents all along the same
rocky and precipitous sides. The pathways are
so steep and dangerous, that even Indians in passing them are obliged to dismount, and loaded
horses must be partly lightened. Some of the
horses by missing their footing have^been killed,
and many severely injured, in descending these
precipices. The bottom throughout consists
of the same firm white soil, interspersed with
small lakes. Several bold insulated rocks are
scattered here and there throughout the ravine,
some of which exceed a quarter of a mile in circumference, and are partially clothed with choke-
cherry and other inferior kinds of vegetation. 46 DEER.
From small horizontal channels worn on the
sides of the rocks, and which seemed to indicate
the action of water, we were led to imagine that
this valley was formerly one of the channels of
the Columbia, the course of which we supposed
must have been changed by one of those extraordinary convulsions in the natural world, the
causes of which are beyond human knowledge.
In the great plains between Oakinagan and
Spokan there are at particular seasons numbers of
small deer. The editor of Lewis and Clarke
classes them as antelopes; but how much soever
they may resemble those animals in swiftness
and shape, their horns, as described by naturalists, are totally different. Their flesh is sweet
and delicate, and they generally go in small
herds. Towards the latter end of the summer
they are in prime condition, and at that season *
we had some excellent sport in hunting them.
The Indians, however, are not satisfied with our
method of taking them in detail. On ascertaining the direction the deer have chosen, part of
their hunters take a circuit in order to arrive in WOLVES. 47
front of the herd, while those behind set fire to
the long grass, the flames of which spread with
great rapidity. In their flight from the devouring
element they are intercepted by the hunters, and,
while they hesitate between these dangers, great
numbers fall by the arrows of the Indians.
The wolves almost rival the Indians in their
manner of attacking the deer. When impelled by
hunger, they proceed in a band to the plains in
quest of food. Having traced the direction which
a herd have taken, they form themselves into a
horse-shoe line, the extreme points of which they
keep open on the grand ravine. After some cautious manoeuvring they succeed in turning the
progress of the deer in that direction. This object
effected, they begin to concentrate their ranks, and
ultimately hem in their victims in such a manner,
as to leave them no choice but that of being dashed
to pieces down the steep and rocky sides of the
ravine, or falling a prey to the fangs of their merciless pursuers.
During this summer we had also some good
horse-racing in the plains between the Pointed-
Heart and  Spokan lands.     In addition to the 48 SUMMER   AMUSEMENTS.
horses belonging to those tribes, we had a few
from the Flat-heads, and several from the Chau-
diere Indians. There were some capital heats,
and betting ran high. The horses were ridden by
their respective owners, and I have sometimes seen
upwards of thirty running a five-mile heat. The
course was a perfect plain, with a light gravelly
bottom, and some of the rearward jockeys were
occasionally severely peppered in the face from
the small pebbles thrown up by the hoofs of the
racers in front.
Thus passed the summer of 1815-, decidedly the
most pleasant and agreeable season I enjoyed in
the Indian country. Hunting, fishing, fowling-,
horse-racing, and fruit-gathering, occupied the
day; while reading, music, backgammon, &c.
formed the evening pleasures of our small but
friendly mess. The heat was intense during this
summer. The thermometer averaged from 84° to
96°, and on one occasion, the 5th of July, on which
day we had a horse-race, it rose to 111° in the
shade. The heat was however generally moderated by cooling breezes ; otherwise it would have
been quite insupportable. STATE   OF   THE   THERMOMETER.
Towards the latter end of August, and during
the month of September, about noon, the thermometer generally stood at 86°, while in the mornings and evenings it fell to 35°, or 30°.
VOL.   II. 50
Letter from Mr. Stuart—His account of New Caledonia—
Navigation of the Columbia obstructed by ice—Miserable
situation of the party during the winter—Author frost-bitten-^-Amusements—Departure of Mr. Keith—His letters—
Author and party quit their winter encampment—Rapid
change of seasons—Arrive at Fort George.
Mr. Alexander Stewart with his family left
us early in September to take charge of Lesser
Slave Lake, an important department on the east
side of the mountains, at which place it had been
arranged he was to pass the winter. He expected
to have met Mr. Keith at the portage of the Rocky
Mountains, on his way to the Columbia with dispatches from Fort William; but a month elapsed
before the arrival of that gentleman, during which LETTER   FROM   MR.   STUART. 51
period himself and family suffered great privations
from want of food, &c.
The distracted state of the interior, owing to the
disputes between the North-West and Hudson's-
Bay Companies, added to other unexpected circumstances, impeded the progress of Mr. Keith,
who did not reach the portage until the 15th of
October. He parted from Mr. Stewart on the following day, and reached the Chaudiere falls on the
22d, where he left his canoes, and arrived at Spokan House on the 24th, having previously ordered
the men to drop down to the mouth of the Spokan
river, at which place we were to join them.
Among others, I received a letter by him from my
friend Mr. John Stuart, dated New Caledonia,*
25th April, 1815, from which the following is an
" I find that the affairs of the Columbia appear
to be getting from bad to worse; and the many
difficulties and hardships, added to the dangers
* This district is very extensive, and lies on the west side of
the Rocky Mountains.—It communicates with Athabasca department by Peace River, and extends from lat. £2° to 55°
North.    . • »  , 52 LETTER   FROM   MR.   STUART.
peculiar to that unfortunate department, are hard
to bear, and will keep me particularly anxious
until I hear the result of the expedition of this
spring to and from Fort George. Although the
various encounters you have had with the natives
should have taught them to respect the whites,
and convince them that nothing is to be gained
by force ; yet, as the attack of last autumn * was
both daring and premeditated, I am afraid it is but
the forerunner of greater aggression. You will,
however, have one great advantage in the spring,
which is, that if the natives be at that season numerous along the communication,-it must be with a
hostile design, and perhaps by beginning the assault
yourselves you will be enabled to counteract its
effects. Plausible, however, as this may appear
in theory, it might probably have a very different
effect in practice. I shall therefore leave off my
advice, lest you might say to me what Hannibal
did to the pedant. Although I deeply regret my
absence from my friends on the Columbia, I have
* Alluding to the attack at the Wallah Wallah river, the
particulars of which are already detailed. LETTER   FROM   MR.   STUART.
no cause to complain of my lot; for here, if not *
perfectly quiet, we are at least hors de danger.
Messrs. M'Dougall and Harman are with me in
the department. They are not only excellent
traders, but (what is a greater novelty in this
country) real Christians, and I sincerely wish that
their steady and pious example was followed by
others. We are at separate posts; but as we feel
great delight in each other's company, we visit as
often as the situation of the country and our
business will permit; and in their conversation,
which is always rational and instructive, I enjoy
some of the most agreeable moments of my life.
"The salmon failed with us last season. This
generally occurs every second year, and completely so every fourth year, at which periods the
natives starve in every direction.
"They are of a lazy, indolent disposition, and, as
a livelihood is rather easily procured, seldom give
themselves much trouble in hunting the beaver or
any animal of the fur kind.
" We have no buffalo or deer, except the cari-
boux (rein-deer); and not many even of those ;
so that, properly speaking, we may say that water 54
alone supplies the people of New Caledonia with
" The natives are numerous, and live stationary
in villages of the same description as those on the
lower part of the Columbia. In their looks and
manner they bear a great affinity to the Chinooks.
The meaning of their national name is "Carriers;"
but the people of each village have a separate denomination. In a north-eastern direction their
country nearly borders the Columbia; but no
white man knows how far it extends towards the
north-west. Their language little varies from
that spoken on the sea-coast. The Carriers are
naturally of an open and hospitable disposition;
but very violent, and subject to sudden gusts of
passion, in which much blood is often shed.
However, those quarrels are soon made up, and as
soon forgotten.
" They seldom, even in the most favorable seasons, kill many beaver in winter, the depth of the
snow being, as they allege, too great. The utmost we can therefore do is to collect the produce
of their summer hunt; which, as we have to go
in different and distant directions, is a work of DEPARTURE   EROM   SPOKAN   HOUSE. M
much labour, and takes up a great portion of our
men's time. We have no cause to complain of last
year's trade ; and, to finish niy letter like a true
North-Wester, I have great pleasure in acquaint*
ing you that our returns are about 95 packs,*
which is a sufficient proof that the country is
worth being attended to, and that it is suscepti-*
ble of great improvement."
We left Spokan House on the 26th of October,
and, having joined the canoes, proceeded to Fort
George, at which place we arrived on the 8th of
Owing to the advanced season of the year, we
hastened our departure for the interior, and accordingly succeeded in quitting the fort on the
19th of November. Our party upwards consisted
of Messrs. Keith, Montour, Mackenzie, and my*
self, with fifty voyagmts, and Rivet, the interpreter.
Not being accustomed to travel at such a late
period, we found the weather rather cool for the
first few days.    Owing to the absence of the In-
* Each pack weighs   ninety pounds, and contains on an
average from fifty to sixty beaver-skins.
I 56
dians, few of whom were on the banks of the
Columbia, we were deprived of our ordinary supply of horses and dogs for the kettle, and were
forced to have recourse to our winter, stock of
flour, pork, and rice.
After passing the second falls the cold became
more severe; and occasional pieces of ice drifting
down the current, made us fear that our progress
would be considerably obstructed in proportion as
we advanced. Our apprehensions were unfortunately realised. As far as the entrance of Lewis
river the navigation was tolerably free; but from
thence the masses of floating ice became so large
and numerous, that our frail little barks were in
momentary danger of being stove to pieces, and it
required all the skill and labour of our men to avoid
them, and prevent the fatal consequences that
would have inevitably followed such collisions.
When it is recollected that we had to stem a
strong current in vessels built, some of thin cedar
plank, and others of the bark of the birch-tree,
and all heavily laden, it may naturally be supposed that our fears were not groundless.
For three days our advance was slow through FLOATING   ICE. 57
this dangerous navigation; but early on the fourth
a scene presented itself which seemed likely to
put a final stop to our progress. Some large
masses of ice in their descent got entangled among
the numerous rocks of a long and crooked rapid ;
these were quickly followed by others, until the
whole presented at the time of our arrival a line
about a quarter of a mile in extent, of high, sharp,
and fantastically shaped glaciers. Our men immediately commenced the portage with the greatest
good-humour, and finished it late in the evening,
when we were obliged to encamp in the dark, with
scarcely wood sufficient to cook our cheerless siip-4
per. The current on the following day was partially free from ice, and we began to hope that we
had passed the worst, until we arrived at a particular bend of the river, at which there was another rapid, choked up with a similar chain of
glaciers, but of greater magnitude. The men,
who had endured excessive hardships, still did
not grumble, and began the portage in high spirits. We had not advanced more than half over
it when the approach of darkness, joined to an
^unexpected supply of- drift-wood, induced us to 58 EXHAUSTION   OF   THE   MEN.
stop for the night, which we passed in tolerable
comfort. We finished the portage the following
morning before breakfast; and the remainder
of the day was hard labour between rapids and
drifting ice. We encamped late at the foot of a
long rapid. The men were greatly fatigued, and
some of them knocked up. Early the next morning, after each man got a refreshing glass of rum,
they commenced their work, and finished the portage at noon. About two miles above this we were
again obliged to unload, and carry the goods and
canoes upwards of nine hundred yards.
The exhaustion of the men this evening was
extreme, and it became quite apparent that they
could not much longer endure a continuance of
such dreadful hardship.
We had previously ascertained that the river
was frozen a considerable distance, and during a
walk of three miles, which I took with Mr. Keith,
it was one firm thick body of ice.
We breakfasted on the following morning at our
encampment; shortly after which a body of the
men approached the tent, and sent in word that
they wished to speak to Mr. Keith.    He came
out, when their spokesman, Basil Lucie, one of
the best and most obedient men in the brigade,
begged leave in a respectful manner to address a
few words to him on their present situation, He
stated that he and his comrades were reduced to
the lowest degree of weakness from the | excessive
and unexpected labour they had undergone ; that
while there was the least possibility of reaching
their destination they did not repine; but from
the continued mass of ice and chains of rapids
before them, that object was at present unattainable. He hoped Mr. Keith would not consider
their conduct in a mutinous point of view. They
were ready and willing to attempt all that men
could achieve, with even the slightest prospect of
success; but worn down as they were, they felt
themselves quite inadequate to make any further
efforts towards extricating us from our disagreeable
Mr. Keith glanced at the group, in whose features he read a co-incidence of sentiment with
their speaker, joined to a determination of manner
which, though humble and respectful, still evi- 60 mr. keith's reply.
dently showed that their resolution was fixed, and
was the result of previous deliberation.
The principles of passive obedience and non-
resistance in which the Canadian voyageurs are
brought up, appeared to be endangered by this
combination ; and the idea that his men were the
first that ever dared, in the Indian country, even
to remonstrate, gave a temporary shock to his
pride : it was, however, transient. Justice and
reason triumphed, and dissipated in a moment the
slight symptoms of wounded dignity that at first
ruffled his countenance.
Mr. Keith told them that he had no wish to
force them to any labour incompatible with their
strength; that his only object was if possible to get
to their destinations, which at present he admitted
could not be done ; that he did not find fault with
them for the expression of their sentiments, and
regretted that they had not all a more comfortable
wintering ground.   *3|^_g|
Lucie, after a short consultation with the men,
replied that they all felt particularly grateful for
the kind and considerate manner he had received SCARCITY   OF   PROVISIONS. 61
their appeal, and promised that no exertions on
their part should be wanting to contribute to the
comfort of himself and the other gentlemen.
There was fortunately about the encampment
plenty of drift-wood, of which in a short time they
collected an immense quantity. The trading goods
were piled up in a safe situation; and with the
assistance of the canoes, tarpaulins, and sails, the
men constructed tolerably good cots for themselves.
We had a large tarpaulin porch erected in front
of our tent, to which it was joined. In this porch
we sat to enjoy the fire, the sparks from which we
feared would have injured the canvass of our cold
habitation. Our situation was disagreeably novel.
About three hundred miles from our nearest post,
with no means of approaching it, and no provisions
save the scanty supply we had brought for consumption on our journey, and the usual quantities of rice and flour for our winter holidays.
We had seen no Indians for several days, and our
hopes of succour from them were consequently
very weak. Our hunters were also unsuccessful,
and reported that the surrounding country was 62 MOUNT   NELSON.
devoid of any animals that could be made subservient to our support. Neither did they in their
different trips see any vestiges of the natives ; and
most of the poor fellows returned from their cold
and hungry journeys with frost-bitten fingers and
About ten miles from our encampment, in the
midst of the extensive plains on the north side,
there is a high and conically shaped hill, which has
been honoured with the name of Mount Nelson, to
which Mr. Keith and I determined to proceed, for
the purpose of surveying the surrounding country.
The ground was covered with congealed snow,
and after an arduous walk we reached the summit
of the solitary mountain. We had a widely-extended prospect of the great plains in their
wintry clothing : their undulations reminded us
of the ocean, when the troubled waves begin
to subside after a storm; while the occasional
appearance of leafless trees in the distance, partially diversifying the chilling scene, resembled
the shattered masts of vessels that had suffered in
the conflict of waters.
In vain did we strain our eyes to ca_bch a glimpse AUTHOR   FROST-BITTEN. 63
of any thing in human or animal shape. Neither
man, nor fowl, nor cattle, nor beast, nor creeping
thing, met our longing and expectant gaze. Animated nature seemed to have abandoned the
dreary solitude, and silent desolation reigned all
around .
We reached the encampment late in the evening, shortly after which I felt an unusual pain
under the ball of one of my great toes. On examination, I ascertained that during our late walk
a hole had been worn in the sole of the moccasin,
which caused the toe to be frost-bitten. By the
advice of our experienced Canadians I had it immediately rubbed with snow, keeping it, at the
same time, some distance from the fire. The operation was painful; but it preserved the joint.
After a few days' rubbing the skin became white,
and ultimately peeled off like that of a whitlow
when it begins to heal. This was succeeded by a
new covering, which in a short time became as
strong as formerly.
A few years before, one of the clerks, named
Campbell, while out with a hunting party, met
with a similar accident.    He was a novice in the 64 TRAVELLING   LIBRARY.
country, and, contrary to the advice of his men,
kept the frozen part at the fire, and refused to
rub it with snow. The consequence was a mortification, which^in a few days proved fatal; for
at the place where the circumstance occurred he
was between 2000 and 3000 miles from medical
This was the only time, during my residence in
America, that I got nipped by the frost; indeed
the inhabitants of our islands in general bear cold
better than the Canadians, several of whom belonging to our party, although they were more
warmly clothed, suffered severely in their extremities.
Were it not for the plentiful supply of fuel, our
situation would have been insupportably miserable in this wretched encampment. As it
was, our time passed heavily enough. Our travelling library was on too small a scale to afford
much intellectual enjoyment. It only consisted
of one book of hymns, two song-books, the latest
edition of Joe Miller, and Darwin's Botanic Garden. The Canadians could not join us in the
hymns, and we endeavoured in vain to tune our AMUSEMENTS.
pipes for profane harmony. "Yankey Doodle,"
the "Frog's Courtship," and the "Poker," were
the only three that came within the scope of our
vocal abilities. In fine weather our friend Mackenzie attempted with tolerable success the simple ditty of
The devil flew away with the little tailor
And the broad-cloth under his arm.
Our constant perusal of Old Joe made us so intimately acquainted with all his super-excellent
good things, that we unconsciously became punsters, and were noted for many a day thereafter as
the greatest men in the country for choice hits and
As for Darwin, we were almost tempted to commit him to the flames : for to read of the loves of
the plants, when we knew they were all buried
in their cold, cold grave, and waiting like ourselves for the renovating influence of spring, only
gave additional torment to our situation.
In the intervals between harmony, joking, and
botany, as we sat striving to warm ourselves
under the tarpaulin porch, half blinded by the
puffs of smoke sent in by cold easterly gusts, we
endeavoured to amuse each other by a detail of
each schoolboy adventure* each juvenile anecdote,
and each
Moving accident by flood or field,
that had ever befallen us. But on the arrival
of dear delightful Christmas,—that happy season
of festivity, when the poor man's table displays
the accumulated savings of an economical advent,
and the rich man's groans under more than its
accustomed profusion; when emancipation from
the birch expands the youthful heart into joy
and gladness, and the partially-forgotten friendships of the old are renewed with greater fervency; when all denominations of Christians
combine social pleasure with innocent amusement, and join in praise and thanksgiving to Him
who came to save us;—our thoughts wandered
towards home, and the happy faces surrounding
the quiet and domestic hearth : the contrast was
too strong for our philosophy, and we were almost
tempted to call down inverted benedictions on
the unfortunate beaver, and those who first in- .REFLECTIONS.
vented beaver hats* beaver bonnets, and beaver
cloaks! From that moment I began to balance
between the comparatively pleasing uncertainties
of civilised life, and the sad realities to which the
life of an Indian trader is exposed. On the one
side I placed—exile, starvation, Indian treachery,
piercing colds, or burning heats, with the damp
earth too often for a bed; no society for a great
portion of the year, except stupid Canadian
vdyageurs, or selfish suspicious natives; ideas
s emi»barbarised by a long estrangement from the
oivilised world; and, should I even survive these
accumulated evils, and amass a few thousands.; to
find, on returning to my native country, the friends
of my youth dead, and myself forgotten; with a
Jtfoken-down and debilitated constitution; an
Indian wife, and a numerous offspring, whose
maternal tint, among the proud and the unthinking* too often subjects them to impertinent insult
and unmerited obloquy,.
To a British reader it would be useless to enumerate the opposing items, or to mention on which
side the scale preponderated : it is enough lo say
that I determined on the earliest opportunity to 68 mr. keith's departure.
exchange dog for mutton, and horse for beef; icy
winters and burning summers for our own more
temperate climate; and copper beauties for fair
A few men who had been despatched on foot
to Oakinagan succeeded in reaching that place,
and returned early in January with sixteen horses,
so wretchedly lean, that they were quite unfit
for the kettle, and almost unserviceable for any
purpose. However, after a few days' rest, Mr.
Keith selected eight of the strongest, which he
loaded; and with which, accompanied by Mr.
Montour and a party of the men, he set off for
Oakinagan. They took the greater portion of the
portable vivres with them.
Mr. Keith's departure was a sensible loss to
our little society. Gifted by Nature with faculties
of no ordinary description, he had the advantages
of an early and excellent education, which he
subsequently improved by an extensive course of
reading. He also possessed a sound, vigorous jin*
derstanding, with a strong memory ; and had not ARGUMENT  ON   COOKERY.
fortune cast him among the wilds of savage
America, I have no doubt he would have attained
eminence in any profession he might have chosen
in his native country.
Mackenzie and I passed six more melancholy
weeks in this spot, during which period we did
not see an Indian. Our time would have passed
heavily enough, only that we fortunately agreed
on no single subject. Episcopacy and Presby-
terianism, with all their off-shoots, formed a prolific source of polemical recreation ; and when we
became tired of the Mitre and the Kirk, we travelled back to Ossian and the Culdees. We argued on the immutability of the Magellanic clouds.
We discussed the respective merits of every writer
to whom the authorship of Junius has been attributed. We differed on the best mode of cooking
a leg of mutton; and could not agree the
superiority of a haggis over a harico, or of Ferin-
tosh over Inishowen. Plum-pudding and rice had
each its champion; and when he rose in all his
strength and thought to destroy me with the plentiful variety of a Scotch breakfast, I at once floored
him with the solid substantiality, of an English 70 LETTER   FROM   MR.   KEITH.
dinner. Thus with empty stomachs and half-
famished bodies we argued on luxuries while we
anticipated starvation; and we often awoke from
the pleasing dream of a fat " sirloin," to attack
the melancholy ribs of a fleshless horse.*
Mr. Keith reached Oakinagan on the 28th January, and on the following day addressed me a
letter, an extract from which may not be uninteresting to the reader.
" The loaded horses performed the journey
hither in about the time we had anticipated, having arrived here without any material accident
(except drowning Gueniltori) yesterday. As for
myself, having left them on-the 26th, accompanied
by Francois, with the intention of reaching the
fort that day, I accomplished my object at the
expense of your Poil de Souris and my Blond.
The latter gave up about three miles from the end
of his journey; and yours brought me on slowly.
* Poor Mackenzie ! In 1828 I received a letter from the
Columbia, announcing the melancholy intelligence that he and
four of his men bad the preceding year been surprised by the
savages on Traser's River, who barbarously murdered the entire
party. LETTER  FROM   MR.   KEITH. fi
Having once gone ahead, I had no alternative but
to push on bon gr£ mat grS, or encamp without
blanket or supper; which circumstance I hope you
will receive as a sufficient excuse for the rough
treatment I gave your horse. Grosses Pattes had
th© honour of carrying my saddle-bags for two
days and a half, both as a punishment for his
laziness, and as a relief to hard-working horsey,
Our business here has been considerably retarded in consequence of our haying giveij a regal
to the men in lieu of the New-Year's festivities,
which you know were douleurmsement tristet The
party for Thompson's River took their departure
th© day before yesterday ^ and ovfing to some
delay about procuring Indian canoes, the Spokan
people only crossed the river to-day. I have settled
with Mr. Ross to. send you four additional horses
for consumption, in oharge of two men, who will
leave this en the 1st proximo. The, weather here
has been latterly very mild, which* coupled with
other eipeumstances, induces me to think that you
have been enabled to quit your encampment."
Mr.   Keith  was  however mistaken as to his
hopes of a favourable change in the navigation.; 72
Another letter, dated " Spokan House/ February
10th," says—"After a very unpleasant and irksome journey, occasioned by bad roads and the
low and exhausted state of our horses, I arrived
here on the 8 th, and the loaded horses yesterday.
We left several of the poor animals on the way.
Le Gris le Galeux I left in charge of a middle-
aged Indian, with a note addressed to you.   I was
obliged to give six others in charge to the bearer,
whom you will please to reward.    They were
quite exhausted.    Their names are, La Gueule de
travers, La Tete Plate, La Cowrie Oreille, La Crime
■ de la petite Chienne, Le Poil de Souris, and Gardepie.
As you will probably be reduced to avail yourself
of the same shifts, I should hope those horses will
be tolerably well recruited by the time of your
arrival.    Mon Petit Gris, La Queue CoupSe, De la
VallSe, with La Crime de la Cornefendue, and La
petite Rouge, (nez blanc,) belonging to the Company, have been left in charge of the  bearer's
brother.    Upwards of three hundred beavers have
been picked up since our departure for the sea;
but starvation is staring us in the face, unless we
eat the melancholy remnant of our lean horses.
The natives are abundantly supplied with che-
vreuil; but they cannot be prevailed on to risk
killing their emaciated and worn-down horses by
bringing any meat to the fort. I am daily flattering myself by anticipation with the pleasure of
seeing you pop in. However, as this is leap-year,
we must make some extra allowance. Were all
leap-years invariably attended with the same com-
l^Bation of difficulties and obstacles which we
have encountered this winter, I would cheerfully
give up one day quadrennially of my life, at the
expense of shortening my existence, provided
such a sacrifice could preserve things in their
natural channel." %§-M
About the middle of February the snow and
ice began to show strong symptoms of solar influence. The former disappeared with wonderful
rapidity,, and the loud crackliag of the latter gave
notice of its continual disruption. I sent a few
men a day's march ahead, who brought back
word that the ice was so far broken up, that we
might try our fortune once more on water. We
therefore prepared for embarkation; and having
killed our two last horses, we bade adieu on the RAPID   CHANGES.
16th of February to our hibernal encampment,
without experiencing one feeling of regret at th©
separation. For a few days our progress was
slow, and exposed to much danger from the iron
mense quantity of floating ice, to avoid which
required all the strength and ingenuity of our
After many narrow escapes we reached Qahin?*
agan on the 28th of February, with empty stomachs
and exhausted bodies. ^ttji
To a person aceustomed to the gradual revolu*
tions of the seasons in Europe an American winter
changes with surprising rapidity. In less than a
week from the first appearance of warmth,
• subdued,
The frost resolves mio a trickling thaw.
Spotted the mountains shine ; loose sleet descends,
And floods the country round.    The rivers swell,
Of bonds impatient.    Sudden from the hills,
O'er rocks and woods in broad brown cataracts,
A thousand snow-fed torrents shoot at once !
The disappearance of the snow was followed
by the most delightful and refreshing  verdure, ARRIVAL   AT  SPOKAN   HOUSE.
and the early symptoms of vegetation  gave us
assurance that
Gentle spring in, ethereal mildness
was once more about to gladden the heart of man;
while the light-hearted Canadians under its genial
influence again chanted forth their wild and
pleasing chansons a Vaviron.
' We remained a few days at Oakinagan to recruit the men; after which I proceeded with my
party to Spokan House, at which place we arrived on the 9th of March.
Mr. Keith had been for some time under great
anxiety as to our fate, and had despatched several
Indians towards the Columbia with letters to me,
some of which I received en route.
The Flat-head and Cootonais parties had arrived
a few days previously; but owing to their want of
a sufficient supply of goods, occasioned by our
stoppage on the ice, they made an indifferent
winter's trade. We had scarcely time to recount
to each other the various uncos we had experienced during the winter, when we were obliged
to prepare for our spring voyage to the sea.    We ARRIVAL   AT   FORT   GEORGE.
left Spokan House on the 20th of March, and
having joined the other parties at Oakinagan,
proceeded with them downwards. The Columbia was one continued torrent, owing to the
thousand little rivulets which the thaw had forced
into it, and the beds of which in the summer
season are quite dry, or hardly visible. Our
passage was consequently rapid, and we arrived
at the sea on the 3rd of April. Our friends at
Fort George were all in prime health, and had
weathered out the winter in a much more comfortable manner than we had. Mr. M'Tavish
had made a trip in the Company's schooner to
the southward, and touched at the Spanish settlements of Monterey and St. Francisco, at which
places, in exchange for the produce of England,
he obtained a plentiful supply of an article which
is in great request among the Chinese, and for
which the unsophisticated traders of Canton will
barter their finest commodities; I mean bona-jide
silver made into the shape of Spanish dollars, half-
dollars, or pistareens.
As a fresh supply of trading goods was required
in the interior, our stay at Fort George was ne- CARNIVAL.
cessarily short. It was, however, a complete
carnival among proprietors, clerks, interpreters,
guides, and canoe-men. Each voyageur received
a liberal extra allowance of rum, sugar, flour, &c,
and a fortnight of continual dissipation obliterated
all recollection of the frozen and lenten severity
of the by-gone winter. m
Author placed in charge of Oakinagan—Erects new buildings
there—Musquitoes—Sagacity of the horses—Rattlesnakes
good food—Sarsaparilla—Black snakes—Climate—Whirlwinds—Handsome situation—Character of the tribe—Manner of trading—Extraordinary cures of consumption.
On the 16th of April we took our departure for
the interior. Our party consisted of sixty-eight
men, including o_£cer& Few Indians were on the
banks of the river, and they conducted themselves
peaceably. We arrived at Oakinagan on the 30th,
from whence Mr. John George M'Tavish, accompanied by Messrs. La Rocque, Henry, and a party
of Canadians, set off for the purpose of proceeding
across the mountains to Fort William, the grand
central depot of the interior on the east side. AUTHOR IN CHABGE OF OAKINAGAN.
Mr. RosS, who had been for the last two years
ih charge of Oakinagan, was by a new arrangement detained this year at Fort George as one of
the staff clerks; and I was selected as commandant of the former place. Messrs. M'Millan and
Montour were sent to Spokan, and my friend
M'Donald proceeded to Kamloops^ his old quarters. A sufficient number Of meft were left With
fiae for all purposes of hunting, tradings and de*
fence; but, for the first time since I entered the
country,, I found myself without a colleague or a
■ I had a long summer before me : it is the. most
idle season of the year ; and as it was intended to
rebuild and fortify Oakinagan during the vacation*
I lost no time in setting the men to work*
The immediate vicinity is poorly furnished with
timber* and our wood-cutters were obliged to proceed some distance up the river in search of that
necessary article, which was floated down in rafts.
We also derived colasiderabie assistance from the
immense quantities of df ift**wood which was intercepted in its descent down the Columbia by the
great bend which that river takes above Oakin- 80 NEW   BUILDINGS.
agan. " Many hands make light work;" and our
men used-such dispatch, that before the month
of September we had erected a new dwelling-
house for the person in charge, containing four
excellent rooms and a large dining-hall, two good
houses for the men, and a spacious store for the furs
and merchandise, to which was attached a shop
for trading with the natives. The whole was surrounded by strong palisades fifteen feet high, and
flanked by two bastions. Each bastion had, in its
lower story, a light brass four-pounder; and in the
upper, loop-holes were left for the use of musketry.
Our living consisted of salmon, horse, wild-fowl,
grouse, and small deer, with tea and coffee ; but
without the usual adjuncts of milk, bread, or butter. However, we looked upon those articles as
excellent fare, and in point of living therefore4_£Hi\
no cause of complaint throughout the summer.
I brought from Fort George a few bottles of
essence of spruce, and by following the printed
directions made excellent beer, which in the warm
weather I found a delightful and healthy beverage. MOSQUITOES. 81
Owing to the intense heat the men were obliged
to leave off work every day at eleven, and did not
resume until between two and three in the afternoon, by which period the burning influence of
the sun began to decline. In the interval they
generally slept.
The mosquitoes seldom annoyed us at mid-day;
but when we wished to enjoy the refreshing coolness of a morning or evening's walk, they fastened
on us with their infernal stings, against which we
had no defence except leather. By smoking, we
might indeed keep them at a civil distance from
our noses and the parts thereunto adjacent; but
this was a preventive which, if constantly practised, would have in a short time reduced our
tobacco to a small quantity.
The annoyance during our meals was worse.
We were obliged to have an iron pot at each end
of the table, filled with saw-dust or rotten wood ;
which substance, when ignited, produced a quantity of thick smoke without flame. It effectually
drove them away; but it was a desperate remedy;
for during the process of mastication we were
nearly suffocated from the dense clouds of vapour
by which we were enveloped. In the mean time
our tormentors hovered about the doors and windows, watching the gradual dispersion of the
smoke; and the moment the atmosphere became sufficiently clear they charged in from all
directions on our heads, necks, ears, face, and
hands, from whence it was impossible to dislodge
them, until a fresh supply of saw-dust, thrown
over the dying embers, put them once more to
The horses also suffered severely from these
insects and the horse-flies. We caused several
fires of rotten wood to be made in the prairie in
which they were grazing, and round which they
instinctively congregated to avail themselves of
the protection afforded by the smoke. Those
which had short tails and cropped manes suffered
more than the others; for with these weapons of
nature (of which, in America, at all events, it is
cruel to deprive them) they could whisk off great
numbers of the enemy ; while the cropped horses,
having no such defence, often had their hoofs
and legs severely burned by standing in the fires
to avoid the stings  of their assailants.    I have MOSQUITOES.
often observed the poor animals, when the smoke
began to evaporate, gallop up to the fort, and neigh
in the most significant manner for a fresh supply
of damp fuel; and on perceiving the men appointed for that purpose proceed to the different
fires, they followed them, and waited with the
most sagacious patience until the smoke began to
ascend and disperse their tormentors.
The point of land upon which the fort is built is
formed by the junction of the Oakinagan River
with the Columbia.
JCattlejmaki 84 RATTLESNAKES.
The point is about three miles in length and two
in breadth. At the upper end is a chain of hills,
round the base of which runs a rocky pathway
leading to the upper part of the river. Rattlesnakes abound beyond these hills, and on the opposite sides of the Oakinagan and Columbia
rivers: they are also found on both sides of the
Columbia, below its junction with the former
stream ; but it is a curious fact, that on the point
itself, that is, from, the rocks to the confluence of
the two rivers, a rattlesnake has never yet been
seen. The Indians are unable to account for this,
peculiarity; and as we never read of St. .Patrick
having visited that part of the world, we were
equally at a loss to divine the cause. The soil is
dry, and rather sandy, and does not materially
differ from that of the surrounding country.
Immense quantities of sarsaparilla grow on
Oakinagan Point, which at times proved very beneficial to some of our valetudinarians.* There
are also scattered over it a profusion of wild flowers,  some of beautiful hues,   but   scarcely any
* Some of our men were salivated by taking a strong decoction of this root. INDIAN    DELICACIES. 85
odour. Among them the sun-flower, for height
and luxuriance, is conspicuous. This is the favourite plant of the delightful little humming-bird,
(called by the Canadians oiseau des dames,) in the
flowers of which it banquets nearly the livelong
Numbers of black snakes are found on the
point; but they are perfectly harmless. We
caught some of them in the rooms ; and a few
have been found at times quietly coiled up in the
men's beds. The rattlesnakes-were very nume^
rous about the place where the men were cutting
the timber. I have seen some of our Canadians
eat them repeatedly! The flesh is very white,
and, they assured me, had a delicious taste. Their
manner of dressing them is simple. They at first
skin the snake in the same manner as we do eels,
after which they run through the body a small
stick, one end of which is planted in the ground,
leaning towards the fire: by turning this brocket
occasionally, the snake is shortly roasted. Great
caution however is required in killing a snake for
eating; for if the first blow fails, or only partially
stuns him, he instantly bites himself in different .
parts of the body, which thereby becomes poisoned, and would prove fatal to any person who
should partake of it. The best method is to wait
until he begins to uncoil and stretches out the
body, preparatory to a spring; when, if a steady
aim be taken with a stick about six feet long, it
seldom fails  to kill with  the first blow.
The climate of Oakinagan is highly salubrious.
We have for weeks together observed the blue expanse of heaven unobscured by a single cloud.
Rain, too, is very uncommon; but heavy dews
fall during the night.
Several dreadful whirlwinds occurred during
the summer, which in their effects more resembled
the sirocco than any thing I had ever experienced
in America. When the men observed these sudden and dangerous squalls rising, they threw
themselves prostrate on the ground, to avoid the
clouds of sand and dust, which otherwise would
have blinded them. They were generally most
violent on the hottest days; and on some occasions
they forced the planks which were piled at the
saw-pit several feet into the air.
The situation of Oakinagan is admirably adapted NA-TJVE   TRIBE.
for a trading town. With a fertile soil, a healthy
climate, horses in abundance for land carriage,
an opening to the sea by the Columbia, and a
communication to the interior by it and the
Oakinagan; the rivers well stocked with fish;
and the natives quiet and friendly; it will in my
opinion be selected as a spot pre-eminently calculated for the site of a town, when civilisation
(which is at present so rapidly migrating towards
the westward) crosses the Rocky Mountains and
reaches the Columbia.
The natives of Oakinagan are an honest, quiet
tribe. They do not muster more than two hundred warriors ; but as they are on terms of friendship with the Kamloops, Sinapoils, and other
small tribes in their rear; and as the Columbia in
front forms an impassable barrier against any surprise from their old enemies the Nez Percys, they
have in a great degree forgotten the practice of
1 glorious war," and are now settled down into
a peaceful and rather slothful tribe. Their principal occupations consist in catching and curing
salmon, and occasionally hunting for deer and
beaver, neither of which abounds on their lands. II
Acts of dishonesty are of rare occurrence among
either men or women; and breaches of chastity
among the latter are equally infrequent.
The chief is an old man, who apparently possesses but little power. However, from their
settled habits of living, and long abstinence from
war, I should imagine there is very little necessity
for the exercise of his authority.
Their principal amusement is gambling, at which
they are not so quarrelsome as the Spokans and
other tribes ; but when any doubtful case occurs,
it is referred for arbitration to one of their elders,
by whose decision the parties strictly abide.
Mr. M'Gillivray passed the winter of 1813-14
here, and had only four or five men with him,
two of whom were generally absent hunting The
buildings at that period were very poorly defended ; and, were the natives actuated by feelings of hostility, they could have easily robbed the
fort and destroyed his little party. This circumstance will show in the strongest point of view
their friendly feelings towards us.
Their manner of trading resembles that of most
other tribes.   A party arrive at the fort loaded I
with the produce of their hunt, which they throw
down, and round which they squat themselves in
a circle. The trader lights the calumet of peace,
and directing his face first to the east, and so to
the other cardinal points, gives at each a solemn
puff. These are followed by a few short quick
Ivhiffs, and he then hands the calumet to the chief
of the party, who repeats the same ceremony.
The chief passes it*to the man on his right, who
only gives a few whiffs, and so on through the
whole party until the pipe is smoked out. The
trader then presents them with a quantity of tobacco to smoke ad libitum, which they generally
finish before commencing their barter, being, as
they say themselves, " A long time very hungry
for a smoke."
When the smoking terminates, each man divides his skins into different lots. For one, he
wants a gun; for another, ammunition ; for a
third, a copper kettle, an axe, a blanket, a tomahawk, a knife, ornaments for his wife, &c, according to the quantity of skins he has to barter.
The trading business being over, another general
smoking-match takes place; after which they retire
__ W'H
to their village or encampment. They are shrewd,
hard dealers, and not a whit inferior to any native
of Yorkshire, Scotland, or Connaught, in driving a
The Oakinagan mode of curing some of our
diseases would probably startle many of the faculty. The following case in particular passed
under my own observation :
One of the proprietors had, in the year 1814,
taken as a wife a young and beautiful girl, whose
father had been one of the early partners, and
whose mother was a half breed (her grandmother
having been a native of the Cree tribe); so that,
although not a pure white, she was fairer than
many who are so called in Europe. He proceeded
with her to Fort George; but the change of climate, from the dry and healthy plains of Forts
des Prairies to the gloomy forests and incessant
rains on the north-west coast, was too much for
her delicate frame, and she fell into a deep consumption. As a last resource, her husband determined to send her to Oakinagan to try the
change of air, and requested me to procure her
accommodation  at  that   place for the summer. MEDICAL   TREATMENT.
This I easily managed. She was accompanied
by a younger sister, and an old female attendant.
For some days after her arrival we were in
hourly expectation of her death. Her legs and feet
were much swoln, and so hard, that the greatest
pressure created no sensation : her hair had fallen
off in such quantities as nearly to cause baldness ;
a sable shade surrounded her deeply sunk eyes.
She was in fact little more than a skeleton, with
scarcely any symptoms of vitality, and her whole
appearance betokened approaching dissolution.
Such was the state of the unfortunate patient,
when an old Indian, who had for some days observed her sitting in the porch-door, where she
was brought supported on pillows to enjoy the
fresh air, called me aside, and told me he had no
doubt of being able to cure her provided I should
agree to his plan ; but added, that he would not
give any explanation of the means he intended
to use, for fear we might laugh at him, unless we
consented to adopt them. We accordingly held a
consultation; the result of which was, that the
Indian should be allowed to follow his own me- MEDICAL   TREATMENT.
thod.     It could not make her worse, and there
was a possibility of success.
Having acquainted him with her acquiescence,
he immediately commenced operations by seizing
an ill-looking, snarling, cur dog, which he half
strangled; after which he deliberately cut its
throat. He then ripped open the belly, and
placed the legs and feet of the patient inside, surrounded by the warm intestines, in which position he kept them until the carcase became cold.
He then took them out, and bandaged them with
warm flannel, which he said was " very good."
The following day another dog lost its life, and
a similar operation was performed. This was
continued for some time, until every ill-disposed
cur in the village had disappeared by the throat-
cutting knife of our dog-destroying doctor, and we
were obliged to purchase some of a superior
breed. While she was undergoing this process
she took, in addition, a small quantity of bark daily
in a glass of port wine. In the mean time the
swelling gradually decreased, the fingers lost ti&faA
corpse-like nakedness, the hectic flushes became
rarer,  and   " that  most   pure spirit  of sense," MEDICAL   TREATMENT.
the eye, gave evident. tokens of returning^-aimnar
tie*n. When her strength permitted, she was
placed on the carriage of a brass field-piece, supported by bolsters, and drawn occasionally a mile
or two about the prairie. The Indian continued
at intervals to repeat this strange application, until
the swelling had entirely disappeared, and enabled
her once more to make use of her limbs.
Two-and^thirty dogs lost their lives in bringing
about this extraordinary recovery, and among
them might truly be numbered
Mongrel, puppy, whelp, and hound,
And curs of low degree.
She gradually regained possession of her ap*
petite; and when her husband arrived in the
autumn from Fort George, for the purpose of
crossing the mountains, she was strong enough to
accompany him. The following summer, on my
journey across the continent, I met them at Lac
la Pluie. Mhe was in the full enjoyment of
he^fclth, and " in the way which ladies wish to be,
who love their lords."
Before I quit this subject I may be permitted to 94 EXTRAORDINARY   BATH.
mention another remarkable cure by means nearly
similar, which occurred at Fort George. One
of the proprietors, who had been stationed there
for two years, had, like his countryman Burns,
an unconquerable "penchant hi'adorable moitii du
genre humain." And among the flat-headed beauties of the coast, where chastity is not classed as
the first of virtues, he had unfortunately too many
opportunities of indulging his passion. His excesses greatly impaired his health, and obliged
him to have recourse to the most powerful medicine of the materia medica. His constitution was
naturally weak, and the last attack was of so
serious a nature, as to deprive him for some days
of the powers of articulation. The contents of the
medicine chest were tried in vain, and all hopes
of his recovery had been abandoned, when a
Clatsop Indian undertook to cure him. Mr. M—
consented, and a poor horse, having been selected as a sacrifice, was shot. The Indian then
made an opening in the paunch, sufficiently wide
merely to admit the attenuated body of the patient,
who was plunged in a state of nudity into the
foaming mass of entrails up to the chin.    The WONDERFUL   RECOVERY.
orifice was tucked in tightly about his neck, to
prevent the escape of steam, and he was kept in
that situation until the body of the animal had
lost its warmth. He was then conveyed to bed,
and enveloped in well-heated blankets.
The following day he felt considerably better;
and in a few days afterwards another horse suffered. He underwent a second operation, which
was attended by similar results. From thence he
slowly regained his strength ; and by adhering to
a strict regimen, was finally restored to his ordinary health. Horses are scarce at Fort George,
were it not for which circumstance, Mr. M— assured me he would have killed two or three more
from the beneficial effects they produced on his
constitution. His late illness, however, was so
dangerous, and his recovery so unexpected, that
it checked for the future his amatory propensities. 96 SHOOTING    EXCURSIONS.
Author nearly blinded by hawks—Foxes—Great number of
wolves—Their method of attacking horses—Lynxes—Bears
—Anecdote of a kidnapping bruin—Ingenious, plan of
getting off bear-skins—Account of the horses on the Columbia— Great feat performed by one.
In the great plains on the east side of the Columbia, between Oakinagan and the Spokan lands,
there are, during the autumnal months, plenty of
deer, grouse, wild ducks, and geese.
I spent a great portion of this period with a few
of my men and some Indians on shooting excursions, and had excellent sport.
We stopped one very sultry day about noon to
rest our horses, and enjoy the cooling shade af- HAWKS. 97
forded by a clump of sycamore-trees with a
refreshing draught from an adjoining spring.
Several large hawks were flying about the spot,
two of which we brought down. From their great
size, immense claws, and large hooked beaks,
they could have easily carried off a common-
sized duck or goose. Close to our resting-place
was a small hill, round the top of which I observed
the hawks assemble, and judging that a nest was
there, without communicating my intention to any
of the party, I determined to find it out.
I therefore cautiously ascended the eminence,
on the summit of which I perceived a nest larger
than a common-sized market-basket, formed of
branches of trees, one wm regularly over the other,
and the least of which was an inch in circumference. Around it were scattered bones, skeletons, and half-mangled bodies of pigeons, spar-
**pows, humming-birds, &c. Next to a rattlesnake
and a shark, my greatest aversion is a hawk; and
$tti ftis occasion it was not diminished by observing the remains of the feathered tribe, which had,
from time to time, fallen a prey to their voracious
appetite.    I therefore determined to destroy the 98 HAWKS.
nest, and disperse its inhabitants ; but I had
scarcely commenced the work of demolition with
my dagger, when old and young flew out and
attacked me in every direction, but particularly
about my face and eyes ; the latter of which, as a
punishment for my temerity, they seemed determined to separate from their sockets.
In the mean time I roared out lustily for assistance, and laid about me with the dagger. Three
men promptly ran up the hill, and called out to
me to shut my eyes, and throw myself on the
ground, otherwise I should be shortly blinded,
promising in the mean time to assist me. I obeyed
their directions; and just as I began to kiss the
earth, a bullet from one of their rifles brought
down a large hawk, apparently the father of the
gang. He fell close to my neck, and in his expiring agonies made a desperate bite at my left
ear, which I escaped, and in return gave him the .
coup de grace, by thrusting about four inches of
my dagger down his throat. The death of their
chieftain was followed by that of two others,
which completely dispersed them ; and we retired after breaking up their den. s&
Red foxes and wolves are also in gfreat numbers
about the plains; but their skins are not now
purchased by the Company, as the price given
for them would not defray the expense of their
The prairie wolves are much smaller than those
which inhabit the woods. They generally travel
together in numbers, and a solitary one is seldom
met with. Two or three of us have often pursued
from fifty to one hundred, driving them before us
as quickly as our horses could charge.
Their skins are of no value, and we do not
therefore waste much powder and ball in shooting
them. The Indians, who are obliged to pay dear
for their ammunition, are equally careful not to
throw it away on objects that bring no remunerating value. The natural consequence is, that
the wolves are allowed to multiply; and some
parts of the country are completely over-run by
them. The Indians catch numbers of them in
traps, which they set in the vicinity of those places
where their tame horses are sent to graze. The
traps are merely ^^^avations covered over with
slight switches and hay, and baited with meat, 100 WOLVES.
&c, into which the wolves fall, and being unable
to extricate themselves, they perish by famine, or
the knife of the Indian. These destructive animals annually destroy numbers of horses ; particularly during the winter season, when the latter
*get entangled in the snow; in which situation they
become an easy prey to their light-footed pursuers, ten or fifteen of which will often fasten on
one animal, and with their long fangs in a few
minutes separate the head from the body. If
however the horses are not prevented from using
their legs, they sometimes punish the enemy
severely; as an instance of this, I saw one morning the bodies of two of our horses which had
been killed the night before, and around were
lying eight dead and maimed wolves; some with
their brains scattered about, and others with their
limbs and ribs broken by the hoofs of the furious
animals in their vain attempts to escape from their
sanguinary assailants.
While I was at Spokan I went occasionally to
the horse prairie, which is nearly surrounded by
^puriMly- wooded hills, for the purpose of watching
the manoeuvres of the wolves in their combined WOLVES. 101
attacks. The first announcement of their ap*
proach was a few shrill currish barks at intervals,
like the outpost firing of skirmishing parties.
These were answered by similar barking from
an opposite direction, until the sounds gradually
approximated, and at length ceased on the junc?^
tion of the different parties. We prepared our
guns, and concealed ourselves behind a thick
cover. In the mean time, the horses, sensible of
the approaching danger, began to paw the ground,
snort, toss up their heads, look wildly about them,
and exhibit all the symptoms of fear. One or two
stallions took the lead, and appeared to wait with
a degree of comparative Mmiposure for the appearance of the enemy.      Http
The allies at length entered the field in a semicircular form, with their flanks extende^ffor the
evident purpose of surrounding their prey. They
were between two and three hundred strong.
The horses, on observing their movement, knew
experience its <
and dreading to en-
counter so
numerous a force,  instantly turned
,  and
off in
a contrary Jlirection.
was the
for the wolves to ac^
vance; and immediately uttering a simultaneous
yell, they charged after the fugitives, still preserving their crescent form. Two or three of the
horses, which were not in the best condition, were
quickly overtaken by the advanced guard of the
enemy. The former, finding themselves unable
to keep up with the band, commenced kicking at
their pursuers, several of which received some
severe blows ; but these being reinforced by others,
they would have shortly despatched the horses
had we not, just in time, emerged from our
place of concealment, and discharged a volley at
the enemy's centre, by which a few were brought
down. The whole battalion instantly wheeled
about, and fled towards the hills in the utmost
disorder; while the horses, on hearing the fire,
changed their course and galloped up to us.
Our appearance saved several of them from the
fangs of their foes; and by their neighing they
seemed to express their joy and gratitude at our
timely interference.
Although the wolves of North America are the
most #tring of all the beasts of prey on that con*
tinent, they are by no means so courageous or LYNXES. 103
ferocious as those of Europe, particularly in Spain
or the ^P®nth of France, in which countries they
commit dreadful ravages both on man and beast;*
whereas an American wolf, except forced by
desperation, will seldom or ever attack a human
being; a remarkable instance of which is mentioned in the detail of my wanderings in the eighth
chapter, Vol. I. The lynxes are by no means so
^numerous as the wolves, but they are equally destructive, and individually more daring. They
generally travel alone, or in couples, and seldom
fly as the wolves do on the first approach of man.
The largest American lynx does not exceed in
size an English mastiff.
* During the late Peninsular war, the Duke of Wellington had
■dccasionto send despatches by a mounted dragoon,;Jt> a general
of division not quite a day's march distant from head-quarters.
The answer not having arrived at the period it was expected,
His Grace despatched three others to ascertain the cause.
They found the mangled remains of their unfortunate comrade
lying beside those of his horse, and the greater portion of the
flesh eaten off their bodies. His sword was firmly grasped in
his mutilated hand, and the dead carcases of seven height
wolves which lay about him exhibited strong marks of the
sabre, and of the desperation with which he fought before he
was overpowered by numbers. IfS"
104 BEARS.
Bears are scarce about the plains, but they are
found in considerable numbers in the vicinity of
the woods and lakes. Their flesh is excellent,
particularly in the summer and autumnal months,
when roots and wild fruit are had in abundance.
They are most dangerous animals to encounter,
especially if they are slightly wounded, or that
any of their cubs are in danger, in which case they
will rush on a man, though he were armed at all
points; and woe to him if Bruin should once enfold him in his dreadful grasp.
I have seen several of our hunters, as well as
many Indians, who had been dreadfully lacerated
in their encounters with bears : some have been
deprived of their ears, others had their noses nearly
torn off, and a few have been completely blinded.
JFrom the scarcity of food in the spring months
they are then more savage than at any other season ; and during that period it is a highly dangerous experiment to approach them.
The following anecdote will prove this; and,
were not the fact confirmed by the concurrent
testimony of ten more, I would not have given it
a place among my memorabilia. KIDNAPPING.
In ^Ispring of this year (1816) Mr. M'Millan
had despatched ten Canadians in a canoe down
the Flat-head River on a trading excursion. The
third evening after quitting the fort, while they
were quietly sitting round a blazing fire eating a
hearty dinner of deer, a large half-famished bear
cautiously approached the group from behind an
adjacent tree; and before they were aware of his
presence, he sprang across the fire, seized one of
the men (who had a well-furnished bone in his*t!
hand) round his waist, with the two fore paws,
and ran about fifty yards with him on his hind
legs before he stopped. His comrades were so
thunder-struck at the unexpected appearance of
such a visitor, and his sudden retreat with pauvre
Louisson, that they for some time lost all presence
of mind; and, in a state of fear and confusion, were
running to and fro, each expecting in his turn to
be kidnapped in a similar manner; when at length
Baptiste Le Blanc, a half-breed hunter, seized
his gun, and was in the act of firing at the bear,
but was stopped by some of the others, who told
him he would inevitably kill their friend in the
position in which he was then placed.    During 106 KIDNAPPING.
this parley Bruin relaxed his grip of the captive,
whom he kept securely under him, and very leisurely began picking the bone which the latter
had dropped. Once or twice Louisson attempted
to escape, which only caused the bear to watch
him more closely; but on his making another attempt, he again seized Louisson round the waist,
and commenced giving him one of those infernal
embraces which generally end in death. The
"^poor fellow was now in great agony, and vented
the most frightful screams; and observing Bap-
tiste with his gun ready, anxiously watching a safe
opportunity to fire, he cried out, Tire! tire! mon
cherfrere, si tu maimes. Tire, pour Vamour du bon
Dieu! A la tite ! a la tite! This was enough for
Le Blanc, who instantly let fly, and hit the bear
over the right temple. He fell, and at the same
moment dropped Louisson; but he gave him an
ugly scratch with his claws across the face, which
for some time afterwards spoiled his beauty.
After the shot Le Blanc darted to his comrade's
assistance, and with his couteau de chasse quickly
finished the sufferings of the man-stealer, and
rescued his  friend from impending death;  for, r
with the exception of the above-mentioned scratch,
he escaped uninjured. They commenced the
work of dissection with right good-will; but on
skinning the bear, they found scarcely any meat
on his bones; in fact, the animal had been famishing, and in a fit of hungry desperation made
one of the boldest attempts at kidnapping ever
heard of in the legends of ursine courage.
The skins of these animals are not at present
held in the same estimation that they were formerly, particularly the brown or grizzly kind, few
of which are now purchased. Good rich black
ones and cubs still bring a fair price at the trading
posts nearest to Canada and Hudson's Bay.
About twenty-five years ago the Company had
a great number of bear-skins lying in their stores,
for which there was no demand. One of the directors, a gentleman well known for the fertility
of his expedients as an Indian trader, hit upon a
plan for getting off the stock, which succeeded
beyond his most sanguine expectation. He selected a few of the finest and largest skins in the
store, which he had made into a hammercloth
splendidly ornamented in silver with the royal 108 TRADING   MANOEUVRE.
arms. A deputation of the directors then waited
upon a late Royal Duke with the hammercloth,
and respectfully requested that he would be graciously pleased to accept it as a slight testimony of
their respect. His Royal Highness returned a
polite answer, and condescendingly consented to
receive the present. A few days afterwards
the King held a levee, and his illustrious son
proceeded to court in his state-coach with its
splendid hammercloth. It attracted universal attention ; and to every inquiry as to where the skins
were obtained, the answer was, "from the Northwest Company." In three weeks afterwards
there was not a black, or even a brown bear-skin
in the Company's warehouse; and the unfortunate
peer, who could not sport a hammercloth of bear,
was voted a bore by his more lucky brethren.
The skin of the red fox is not now accounted
valuable ; and scarcely any are purchased. The
Indians therefore seldom trouble themselves in
hunting these animals, and in some districts they
are consequently greatly on the increase. There
are no black foxes on the Columbia ; but next to
them in beauty and value are the silver grey, 109
which bring a high price, and several of which
are purchased at Oakinagan and Spokan. The
mandarins of China hold them in great estimation, and those which we sent to Canton were
eagerly purchased for their use.
I The number of horses among the various tribes
on the Columbia and its tributary streams differs
with the circumstances of the country. Among
the Flat-heads, Cootonais, Spokans, &c, whose
lands are rather thickly wooded, there are not
more than sufficient for their actual use, and every
colt, on arriving at the proper age, is broken in
for the saddle. But in the countries inhabited by
the Wallah Wallahs, Nez Percys, and Shoshones,
which chiefly consist of open plains, well watered
and thinly wooded, they are far more numerous,
and thousands are allowed to go wild. Their
general height is about fifteen hands, which they
seldom exceed; and ponies are very scarce.
Those reared in the plains are excellent hunters,
and the swiftest racers; but are not capable of
enduring the same hardships as those bred in the
vicinity of the high and woody districts. We
have seen from seven hundred to a thousand 110 HORSES.
wild horses in a band; and some of the party
who crossed the continent by the Missouri route,
told me that in parts of the country belonging
to the Snake Indians, bands varying from three
to four thousand were frequently seen; and
further to the southward they are far more numerous.* The Indian horses are never shod;
and, as we were equally with them deprived of
smith, farrier, and iron, we were unable to introduce that valuable practice into the country.
Owing to this circumstance, their hoofs, parties j
larly of such as are in constant work, are nearly
worn away before they are ten or eleven years
old, after which they are unfit for any labour except carrying children. They are easily managed,
and are seldom vicious. An Indian horse is never
taught to trot. The natives dislike this pace, and
prefer to it the canter or light gallop. They are
hard taskmasters; and the hair-rope bridles, with
the padded  deer-skin  saddles which they use,
* The Spaniards at St. Francisco informed our traders that
in the year 1812 they were obliged to kill upwards of 30,000
horses in California, in order to preserve sufficient grass for the
buffalo, the fat of which forms an article of exportation. Ill
lacerate the mouths and backs of the unfortunate
animals in such a manner, as to render them at
times objects of commiseration to men of harder
hearts than the late worthy member for Galway.
In summer they have no shelter from the heat;
in winter no retreat from the cold ; and their only
provender throughout the year is the wild loose
|grass of the prairies, which in the latter season is
^generally covered with snow; and in the former
is brown and arid, from the intense heat of the sum
I have already given some details of the hardships to which the horses in this country are
subject, and shall merely add one anecdote
more. In the spring of 1813, before the dissolution of the Pacific Fur Company, while I
was stationed at Spokan House with Mr. Clarke,
he received a letter from Mr. Farnhara, who had
the charge of the party sent to. the Flat-heads,
stating that he had arrived at the Flat-head portage, a distance of seventy-two miles from Spokan
House, where he should be obliged to remain a
few days to recruit his horses; that his trading
goods were exhausted, and he was entirely out of
tobacco; that a large party of Flat-heads were fol- 112 EXTRAORDINARY   FEAT.
lowing them with a quantity of valuable skins ;*
that his rival, Mr. M'Donald, was also unsupplied
with tobacco; that whichever of them got the
first supply of that article would, by treating the
Indians to a grand smoking-match, succeed in
getting the produce of^heir hunt; and that in
order to attain that object, it was absolutely necessary the tobacco required should be with him
that night, otherwise the natives would all go 1
over in a body to Mr. M'Donald, with whom
they had been longer acquainted than with him.
It was eleven o'clock in the forenoon when this
letter reached us, and Mr. Clarke thought it impossible for any horse to go a distance of seventy-
two miles during the remainder of that day: at
all events, he knew that none of the Company's
horses were fit for such a task; and was about
giving up the idea as hopeless, when I offered to
undertake it, with a celebrated horse of his own,
called "Le Bleu." The case was important: a
blow was necessary to be struck; and although
he prized the horse above all his chattels in the
Indian country, he at once determined to sacrifice
his private feelings to the interests of the Com- EXTRAORDINARY   FEAT. 113
pany. Two men were selected to accompany
me, and orders were given to catch " Le Bleu."
He was a noble animal, between fifteen and sixteen hands high, seven years of age, admirably
built, and derived his name from his colour, which
was a dappled white and sky-blue. He was also
a prime racer, and had beaten all competitors on
the turf.
Owing to the delay occasioned by catching the
horses we did not start till twelve o'clock. I remained in company with the men for the first two
hours, at a slight canter, after which I took the
lead in a hard gallop, and quickly lost sight of
them. I followed an excellent well-beaten pathway for upwards of sixty miles through the
Pointed-heart Plains; but late in the evening it
brought me to a thick wood, through which it runs
for a distance of ten miles, when it terminates at
the portage.
Shortly after entering the wood, night overtook
me; and I several times lost the pathway, whicl4
owing to the darkness, and a quantity of fallen
trees and brushwood, became extremely intricate.
The sagacity of my horse, however, extricated me llii COMPLETE   SUCCESS.
from these Sgaremens, and a Ji$tle after eight
o'clock I emerged from the forest, and was delighted at the cheering appearance of a range of
fires along the hanks of the river. The Bleu,
which had been for some time dtfojiffing, on seeing
the light, knew his task was at an end, and
galloped up in fine style to Farnham's tent, when
he was immediately let loose to regale himself
in the prairie.
I had brought a few fathoms of thick twist-
tobacco with me; on learning which the Indians
crowded about us, and in a few seconds each
man's head was enveloped in clouds of smoke.
They promised that we should have all their
skins; but in order to make assurance doubly
sure, we requested them to-bring their respective
packages to the tent,and deposit them therein until
morning. This was at once complied with, after
which the smoking recommenced. About two
hours after, two of our rivals arrived with a quantity of tobacco. They had started from Spokan
shortly after me, but were never able to overtake
the gallant Bleu. They were much better acquainted  with the intricacies   of  the pathway 115
through the wood than I was; and if their horses
had been equal to mine, it is very probable the result would have been different. They were much
chagrined at our success ; and on taxing the Indians with having deserted them for strangers,
they replied, that being the first to satisfy their
hungry cravings for tobacco, they could do no
less than give us the preference ; but added that
they would punctually pay them any debts which
they had contracted with Mr. M'Donald, which
promise they faithfully kept.
About midnight the two men, whom I had left
behind me, reached the encampment. They also
were for some time lost in the wood, and like
myself were obliged to depend on the sagacity of
their horses to set them right.
We returned to Spokan House by easy stages;
but I did not ride the Bleu. In less than a week
after he was perfectly recovered from the fatigue
of his journey, and in the -pmmer of the same
year beat the fleetest horses of both Companies
on the race-course, srt THE  AUTHOR  WISHES
Letter from the proprietors—Author winters at Oakinagan—
Letter from Mr. Mackenzie—A number of horses stolen—
Successful plan to recover them—Description of soil, climate, productions, &c. of the lower part of the Columbia.
The summer of 1816 did not tend to diminish
my growing aversion to the Indian country.
Horse-racing, deer-hunting, and grouse-shooting
were pleasant pastimes enough, but the want of
companionable society rendered every amusement
" stale, flat, and unprofitable." Zimmerman in
vain displayed the charms of solitude: he never,
vegetated amongst savages. Bad French and
worse Indian began to usurp the place of English,
and I found my conversation gradually becoming TO   LEAVE   THE   COUNTRY.
a barbarous compound of various dialects.   The
cherished object too of a young man's ambition
was still at an immeasurable distance, and I felt.
that an old age of affluence could only be purchased by the sacrifice in youth of all the comforts of social life.    In the midst of these and
similar reflections the monotony of my life was,
for a moment,  relieved by  the  arrival  of Mr.
Donald Mackenzie with two canoes and twenty
men from Fort William.   This gentleman had been
one of the proprietors of the Pacific Fur Company, from which, after its dissolution, he changed
to the North-west.    He was now on his way to
Fort George with dispatches, and took charge of
the autumn brigade to that place.    By Mr. Mackenzie  I received letters from home, which at
once determined me to apply for leave to quit the
country;  and having written to the proprietors to
that effect,  I received  the   following   answer:
% Fort George, September 30th, 1816.
" Dear Sir,
" In   acceding to your most earnest request
of being discharged from   our   service ensuingr 118 RESIGNATION   ACCEPTED.
spring, we give way to the voice of nature and of
humanity, which cannot, will not for a moment
allow us to hesitate when the object is to reanimate and cheer up the drooping spirits of your
venerable and aged parents. At the same time
rest assured that on no other consideration could
we ever be induced to part with your most useful
services, more particularly at a period when we
are on the eve of being put to such shifts tofill up
the different requisitions.
" As to your character, as far as prudence, integrity, and perseverance, joined to an unceasing
desire to please find render yourself useful, can
command regard, you certainly are deservingly
entitled to ours, and no encomium on our part
could add to our high opinion of your merit.
" In expectation of seeing you next spring at
this place, prior to your taking your final  departure, we remain, with Sincere regard,
" Dear Sir,
" Your most obedient servants,
" James Keith,
"Angus Bethune,
"Donald Mackenzie,
" For North-west .Gompany." WINTER   ARRANGEMENTS. 119
Mr. Mackenzie was himself the bearer of this
letter. He strongly urged me to change my resolution, and declared if I consented to remain in
the country my promotion should take place in a
short time after the expiration of my engagement;
but as my mind was made up to return home, I
refused acceding to his friendly wishes.
It was arranged I should pass the winter in my
present post (Oakinagan), in which, on account
of my popularity with the natives, I had succeeded in obtaining more furs than most of my
predecessors. Mr. Mackenzie went. to Spokan
with MeSsfs. M'Donald and^-ifontour for the outposts, Mr. Ross proceeded to Kamloops, and Mr.
M'Millan to his old post at the Flat-heads.
Mr. Mackenzie had made arrangements with.
the chiefs of the various tribes for the transmission
of an express from Oakinagan to Fort George,
promising*to each a handsome present$ provided
it reached its destination, and that an answer was
brought back. In pursuance of this plan, he forwarded despatches to the sea, to which he received an answer, as will be seen from t.fie following Better: 120 CORRESPONDENCE.
" Spokan House, February 12th, 1817.
" Dear Cox,
" It was but yesterday, on my return from the
Nez-Perces, that I had the pleasure of perusing
your much esteemed letter of the 29th of December.     My  despatches reached Fort George in
thirty-six days, and were answered on the 12th of
December \ so that in sixteen days from the fort
they reached your place.    The safety of this conveyance will, I hope, do away with the necessity
of the usual Fall voyage to the sea.    On arriving
here I found I had ninety souls to provide with
the necessaries of life, and therefore determined
on an excursion to Lewis River.    Your friend,
Mr. M'Donald, accompanied me, and, besides the
Canadians, I took ten Sandwich Islanders, whom
I armed and accoutred quite en militaire.    The
Nez-Perces did not half relish the swarthy aspect
of these invincibles, and fancied  I intended to
resent former grudges.    However, we did not see
them all.
" My trip has simply answered the purpose of
obtaining provisions for the passing day, which, at
this post, I assure you has been no contemptible CORRESPONDENCE.
attainment. The horses I purchased are already
nearly consumed ; you will therefore, I trust, excuse my sending two of my people in your direction. I have ordered them to encamp in your
environs; and the Nipising, who is chasseur, is to
supply your board with game. It will prove a
seasonable variety to your dried salmon.
" I regret the frost prevents me sending you
potatoes: they would. be of no service. I have
received accounts from Mr. M'Millan. He informs
me he was nearly surrounded by the Piegans
(the Black-feet); but they were prevented by
hunger from advancing near enough to the fort.
He has had a lucky escape. Should you be induced to alter your mind about quitting the Company, I shall feel very happy by your remaining
with us. You may rely on all I have told you.
You need feel no scruples on that head. I passed
an agreeable time with our friend Finan. He is
certainly a most worthy mortal, and desires to be
remembered to you.
" Yours, &c.
g_ Donald Mackenzie."*
* This gentleman is now governor of the colony established
at Red River. 122 SKETCH   OF   GH^BiSJOTER.
Mr. Mackenzie, as already mentioned, had
crossed the continent with Mr. Hunt. In the
course of that journey he passed through the lands
of the Snake Indiatos, in which he observed great
numbers of beavers ; and his chief motive in
coming to the Columbia was to form a trading
establishment in that dangerous district, no attempt at which had been made since the massacre
of Mr. Read and his party. Mr. Mackenzie was
peculiarly qualified for this hazardous under*
taking. He was an experienced trader, and possessed am accurate knowledge of the localities of
the country. He could, with his rifle, drive a
dozen balls consecutively at one hundred paces
through a Spanish dollar, which accomplishment
alone was enough to secure him the respect of the
Indians. To the most cautious prudence he united
the most dauntless I intrepad|ty; in fact, no hardships could fatigue, no dangers intimidate him.
As we had many reasons to suspect that the
Pierced-noses, through whose lands a party proceeding to the country of the Snakes must pass,
were actuated by feelings of hostility, Mr. Mackenzie undertook the winter's trip to Lewis River,
not so much for the purpose of purchasing horses, TEDIOUS   WINTER   RESIDENCE. 123
(for that Mr. M'Donald could have done,) as to
form a judgment from personal observation of their
disposition. Although his reception was not the
most friendly, he was satisfied there was little
danger to be apprehended, and he theife|e>re determined to make the attempt early in the summer.
I passed five weary winter months at Oakinagan without a friend to converse with; and the
severity of the season debarred me from the exercise of field sports, which, during the summer, partially relieved the unsocial tedium of my
existence. Tea and tobacco were my only luxuries ; and my pipe was my pot^otnpanion. Dried
salmon was our principal article of food, with a
bit of lean deer, with which the natives occasionally supplied us, like
Angels' visits, few and far between.
Our horses were too few and too poor for the
kettle; and scarcely a week elapsed that one did
not fall a victim to the villanous wolves  which
: infested the snow-covered plains.
One morning in the beginning of February, the
men whom I had sent out to collect the horses
found ten missing, and the fresh traces of human
feet in the snow convinced them they must have
been stolen. I immediately sent for the Oakinagan chief, and told him I should require his
assistance in recovering the horses. This he
readily granted, and forthwith ordered five of his
young men to catch their horses and join him at
the fort. I selected three Canadians and two
Sandwich Islanders to accompany me, and in less
than an hour all our warlike arrangements were
completed. We proceeded in the first instance to
the prairie; and the chief having made his observations, declared at once they must have been
stolen by the Sinapoils. It had snowed hard the
preceding night; which circumstance, without the.
assistance of the Indians, would have puzzled our
men to find out the traces of the robbers. The
chief however quickly discovered their route, and
we followed his guidance until late in the evening, when we were obliged to stop to rest the
horses, and take a little refreshment. He told me
we were within a few hours' march of the robbers, SEARCH. 125
and advised us to continue on during the night,
by which means we were certain of catching them
unprepared, when we could kill them all, and
recover our horses. Having no relish for raising
scalps, I declined his sanguinary proposal; at
which he did not appear too well pleased. We
resumed our journey before day-break the following morning; and after riding about two hours,
the chief desired us to dismount, and lead our
horses. We complied. In less than half an hour
our path opened into a small glen, in the bottom
of which were half a dozen mat-covered lodges,
and around them we perceived about fifteen horses
scraping the snow. The stolen ones were among
them. We instantly mounted; and before the
robbers were aware of our approach we had surrounded their miserable encampment. On hearing the war-whoop of our Oakinagan allies, they
rushed out, partly armed ; but seeing our numbers,
they held down their bows, and quietly submitted.
I never saw such a group of meagre wretches.
They were quite naked; and
Sharp misery had worn them to the bones. 126 DISCOVERY.
Their wives and children crouched under mats,
and kepkiiip a howling cry, while the Oakinagan
chief thus addressed them :
;gp-ff.i_gftnapoils! you are dogs; you are robbers.
You stole the horses from our good friends the
white men; and as a punishment we shall now
take away your horses." One of them replied :
"We are dogs; we are robbers; we did steal
the good white men'^ikorses; but we are poor,
and cold, and hungry. The wolves destroyed all
our own horses but five; and as our dried salmon
was all gone, and our wives and children starving,
sooner than see them die, we took the horses from
the white men, because we knew they were good
people, and could easily purchase others. We are
sorry for what we have done ; but if you take our
five remaining hordes, we shall all die of hunger."
This appeal made no impression on the flinty-
hearted chief, who counselled us to take the five
horses as a punishment to the robbers. I refused
however to adopt his advice; for, independently
of the inhumanity of such a course, I did not deem
it prudent to resort to measures of severity against
a tribe who might have many opportunities of LENITY. 127
reMiating on our hunters in the plains. I there^
fore told them that in consequence of tl__eir starving condition, we would abstain fisom punishing
them on that occasion, but any future trespass
should not escape with impunity. As they all
appeared to wantr.«something to eat, 1 ordered one
of their horses to be shot, and leaving the body
for their own use, we returned to the fort, which
we reached late that evening. Our v forbearance
produced no expression  of gratitude from   the
5S*aapoils ; and Om. -chief reproached us for having
acted in such a^itoild manner. I made him and
his young men a suitable present, and so ended
this pursuit of the ' black-mail' drovers.
As this was the last winter MiiSpent in the In-
f|8^B'country, I shall, before commencing the journal of my voyage across the continent, give some
brief remarks on the soil and prodiintions of the
various districts on the Columbia, the manners
and customs of the different tribes, their distinctive peculiarities, &c.
The climate about the entrance of the river, and
thence to the first rapids, is mild. The mercury
seldom falls below the freezing point; and never 128 PERIODICAL  RAINS.
rises above 80. Westerly winds prevail during the
spring and summer months, and are succeeded
by north-westers, which blow pretty freshly
during the autumn. October ushers in the south
wind and rain, both of which continue without
intermission until January, when the wind begins
to veer to the westward; but the rain seldom
ceases until the termination of April. The gentlemen who have wintered at Fort George tell
me the torrents which pour down during this
period are dreadful. For weeks together the sun
is invisible; and the only protection for those
whose duty compels them to be in the open air, is
a shirt made from the intestines of the sea-lion,
the parts of which are ingeniously sewed together with fine threads of nerf. A kind of capu-
chon, or hood, is attached to the collar; and when
this garde-pluie is on, the wearerjnay bid defiance
to the heaviest rain. These shirts are made by
the natives in the vicinity of the Russian settlements to the northward of the Columbia, and
some of them are neatly ornamented.
Nature has been peculiarly bountiful to the natives of this district; and nothing but the grossest ^NATURAL  PRODUCTIONS.
neglect of her gifts can reduce them to Want.
The spring months supply them with immense
quantities of small fish resembling pilchard,
which by Lewis and Clarke a»fealled anchovies.
These are smoke-dried, and form an important
article of barter with the upper Indians for roots.
From June to the latter end of August they
have an abundance ofdeliciously flavoured salmon,
which, from its richness, at first produced a
general dysentery among our people.
We found the wild raspberries an excellent
remedy for this disorder, which was effectually
checked by their astringent qualities.
The months of August and September furnish
a plentiful supply of prime* sturgeon. This fish
attains a great size. Some of those we took were
eleven feet in length; and, with the entrails out,
weighed from three to four hundred pounds.
This period also produces a variety of wild
fruit:—in June, small white strawberries of sweet
flavour; these are followed by red and amber
raspberries of the ordinary size, but somewhat
sour. They are found in moist shady grounds, .
and grow on bushes from ten to fifteen feet high.
VOL.   II. I 130
.imSFURAL   PRODU.<Knt>-SrS-
During the months of July, August and September the following hinds of fruit are obtained
in considerable quantS_uEfe: viz. blue-berijie_p
black-berries, wild cherries, -^gooseberries, wild
pears, and a spe<£$|s of bitter crab apple, ^M0t,:.
cannot boused unless coddled or boiled.
vieThere is an evergreen about the size of a common gooseberry bush, and with small thick leaves
resembling laurel. In the month of August it
produces abundance of fruit of a small oblong-
form, which grow in t_jiiek clusters. This Uruit has
an insipid taste, butris lpoked on as healthy, and
great quantities of it may be eaten without in j ury.
It is ntuqh esteemed by the natives, who preserve
it for their winter use, by making it into small
cakes, which are gradually dried before a slow
fire, d
The country alls* abounds in various nutf^feij
roots, of which the Indians are extremely fond,
and soine of which are excellent an ti-scorbutics.*-]
They etflJeet large quantities of a kind resembJiigf
young onions, which, in the first instance, they
dry on hot stones.    They are then pulverised;
and, being worked into a paste, are formed into NATURAL I PRODUCTIONS.
•|^j?£S\_f?&m five, toj six pou^dsioW^g^j^lych they
lay by for seasons oft>scarcity. ^j^l^gad has
$Oast.e resembling liquorice^ An inferior descrip-
K^dcffoMiif^cmbling sji[m#ngds taken in the
months #J vftetober .%$d: November. It is poor,
dry, and has an insipid taste. The fleshy white,
the teetl#i<a$(g/ethe snout bent like j|hgJaeak of a
parrot, and itf^^s^ajns very little si_J^ta|Mg|^
The principal quadrupeds are the j^, red deer,
black-tailed deer ; the black, brown, and grizzly
bear, the lasti of w||ifijLei& extremely f^jgcious;
the w'ol8wpafether, tiger-cat, ^M-rgajt, marmot,
beaver, ?laind-otter, musk-ra$-f$fopd-rat, and, the
most valuable o&jftt) the fur tribe,j^h% sea-otter.
White)AieasSi [are occasion^y killed on the coast
to the northward of the Columbia ;sJ>ut they are
scarcei ;ht
The most remarkable of the feathered tribe are
the bladBirfH^wifevaHd nurf^gle&jthe hawk, p§l|T
can, and cormorant; the s^aii, hero^ crane, bustard, grey and white goose, anct various species of
wild ducks, &c.
The.soil;in the valleys Gonsjsisaof a bed of rich
black mould, about six inches in depth, which 132 VEGETABLES.
covers a stratum of grey earth extremely cold.
The letter lies on a layer of large gravelly sand;
and under all is a bed of hard flinty stones. On
the high grounds, under a thin covering of black
mould, are found good quarry stones well adapted
for building. There is a bank of white earth resembling chalk to the southward of Point Adams;
and further on, in the same direction, the Indians
find red, green, and yellow earths, and a species
of heavy shining clay resembling lead-mine. No
limestone is found in the neighbourhood.
Few of the various vegetable seeds which were
planted came to perfection. The turnijps indeed
attained a prodigious size. One weighed fifteen
pounds and a half, and was thirty-three inches in
circumference ; they were in flower at the end of
December, and were left in the ground; but the
seeds were destroyed by the mice which infestefij
the garden. The radishes throve tolerably well;
but owing to the coldness of the earth the potatoes
failed the second year.
The trees most common in the neighbourhood
of Fort George are the cedar, spruce, pine, alder,
&c.    The cedars are from twenty to thirty feet in HABITS   AND   MANNERS. 133
circumference, and proportionably high. The
alders also are extremely large, some of them
measuring from twelve to twenty inches in diameter. A few leagues above the fort, ash and oak
are found ; the former is of tolerable size; but the
latter, compared with its noble brother in England, is a mere dwarf.
In the 14th chapter, Vol. I, I have referred to the
peculiarities, moral qualities, and mechanical ingenuity of the natives who reside about the mouth
of the Columbia. Little therefore remains to be
said on these subjects. The same kind of houses
and canoes, the same flattening of the heads, an
equal love of thieving and lying on the part of the
men; shameless profligacy among the women;
the same mode of living, and a similarity in their
manner of burial, are observable among the various
tribes, from the rapids to the ocean. They all,
too, speak the same language, which is decidedly
the most unpronounceable compound of gutturals
ever formed for the communication of human
thoughts, or the expression of human wants. The
following are a few of their words: 134
Tcht, one.
Makust, two.
Thlown, three.
Lakut, four.
Quannum, five.
Takut, six.
Sinebakitst', seven.
Stouktekane, eight.
Quaiust, nine.
Itallilum, ten.
Ekoun icht, eleven.
Ekoun makust, twelve.
Makust thlalt, twenty.
Moolak, a deer.
Equannet, salmon.
Kaienoult) tobacco.
Passischqua, a blanket.
Tillikum, men.
Kamoox, a dog.
Sakquallal, a gun.
Mittaight o  kok,  sit   down
Tahe  _se  koolama, show me
your pipe, ffi
Patlach   nain   maika?   will
you give it to me?
Mr. Franchere, who attained a more thorough
knowledge of their language than any one in the
Company's service, states that the letters F, V,
and others, are not articulated in any of their
words. The letter R is also wanting; but some
words, pronounced with a thick guttural lisp, such
as chreluit, approach its sound. The combinations
thl, il, and It, are frequent, and are also very
common in the Mexican language.
In proportion as we approach the rapids from
the sea, female impurity becomes less perceptible;
beyond this point it entirely ceases. I think it
necessary to mention this fact, in consequence of PERSONAL. OBSERVATIONS.
the sweeping densure passed by Lewisjarid Clarke
on all .the women claeli&aan the Rocky Mdjtfitf&ing
and the sea. The reader must not supp^eftiifa^
I wish to cast any doufetLon the general accuracy
of thrjsje intelligent travellers; indeed, circumstanced as thfeyiiwere, the. immeriseaflmd^lcprrect
and valuable information .contained in their journal i& surprising but in this instance thejrihave
wandered from the facts, xrj
Having ascended the Columbia nine times, and
descended,}!}; eight, I had better opportunities of
judging of the n^afehers of the natives than those
who merely g passed up and down; and during
those vark&s ^QteBe'y^fejfeever saw the slightest
apprdximation to levity of manners among the
women above the rapicbu a:
|gsSBb& two most important rivers which fall into
ralqiflblumbia below^he rapids are the Wallamat,
or Multnomah, and the Cow&liskee. The entrance
of the former is about one hundred miles from
the sea, and its general course is a little to the
eastward of south.-JI was ^merely a few miles
above its junction with the Columbia; but Messrs, > 136 THE   RIVERS   WALLA MAT
Clapp, Franchere, and Halsey, who ascended it
a considerable distance, state that it runs through
a low well-wooded country for upwards of sixty
miles, when the navigation is interrupted by a
considerable fall, above which the channel contracts, and the banks become higher and less
woody. The climate in the Wallamat is remarkably mild, and not so moist as that on the coast.
It possesses a rich and luxuriant soil, which yields
an abundance of fruits and roots.* The Indians
are tranquil: there are no noxious reptiles : beaver, deer, and elk are plentiful; and when, in
the course of time, the improvements of scientific
cultivation extend to the Columbia, the country
about the Wallamat will be rendered one of the
most delightful districts to the westward of the
Rocky Mountains. We know little of the Cowe-
liskee. It enters the Columbia about half a day's
march below the Wallamat from the northward:
its banks are high, and thickly woodpl,' and the
* A few years since the tobacco plant was discovered in the
Wallamat. The samples sent home are, I understand, of an
excellent description.
- AND   COWia&iSKEE. 137
current much interrupted by rapids. Our traders,
owing to the difficulty of the navigation, did not
ascend it more than thirty miles. The tribe who
inhabit its banks are called the Skilioots. They
are friendly, and differ little from the lower
Indians. 138 &.4W-  WARFARE.
Description of climate, soil, &c. above the rapids<—Sketch of
various tribes^-The Chohoptins—Yackamans—Oakinagans
—Sinapoils—Spokans—Anecdote—Pointed - hearts—Cause
of war—Cootonais—Kettle Indians—Kamloops, &c.
I have already alluded so often to the natives
about the first rapids, and the great falls, that I
may here pass them over with a few words 'explanatory of the causes that induced them to commit
so many acts of hostility. In their various contests with the tribes below the former, and above
the latter, they were generally the greatest sufferers, owing to the fire-arms which those opposed
to them obtained from us in exchange for their
furs, horses, &e. TEMPERATURE.
There are no animals of the fur kind in the
1|l3fghbourhood ofithe<falls, and scarcely any about
the rapids :* there is therefore noth_hfgi4_^ induce
t_&rtofce-.tablish a trading post at either plail4; and
as the natives are aware ofctfeis^iSfid of theft, consequent inability'-to procurtdHre-arms, $*$£,-' they;
like the Black-feet, identify us vdth their old
;pgi_ft_^ffij%nd allow no opportunity to escape of
attacking and robbing us. A small party, unencumbered by merchandi-lfep^may pass in safety;
fiiherwise, as has been already seen, it is a hazardous experiment, s^jf^
BnFrom the falls to <tfci#k_tnlfs of the Spokans the
SMtnate is remarkabl^fhealthy; in summer, excessively hot; in winter, intensely cold ; but subject during these* seasons to lit^^^riation^^
cloud is seldom seen; and during the vaMoW
Joufheys I have made up and downstfe'xColut.ihl^
I did not witness*J in the above space ten rainy
PEhe'soil is unproductive, and is chiefly a light
* The animals which Lewis and Clarke saw at this place,
and which they called sea-otters, are seals. We have killed
them as high up as the Dalles below the falls. 140 NATURAL  PRODUCTIONS.
yellowish sandy clay. The plains are covered
with a short kiadJof grass, mixed with prickly
pears, wormwood, and tufts of long coarse grass
from three to four feet high. Patches of clover
are here and there visible, and in their vicinity
the chappallel, and the camas or quamash roots,
mentioned by Lewis and Clarke, are found.
Wild onions grow in considerable quantities along
the banks of the river above the falls. They are
small; and from March to May their flavour is
excellent; but after the latter month they lose
their relish, and become dry and hard,
ai..Cotton-wood, small willow, sumac, furze, and
sarsaparilla, are also found occasionally on the
sides of the Columbia; but from the falls, until we
approach Spokan River, none of the larger trees
are visible. Throughout this distance (about five
hundred miles) our only fuel was derived from
the timber drifted down by the spring freshes
from the upper parts of the Columbia, and which
in some particular bends of the river accumulates
in great quantities. In other places, however,
it is very scarce; and when we could not pur- Native animals;
<chase drift-wood from Indians, we were often
obliged to encamp without any fire.
The principal animals are horses, i$mall deer,
prairie wolves, red foxes, badgers, polecats,
hares, and dogs. Otters are sometimes seen;
but the great staple animal, the beaver, is a
stranger to this district. The Indians allege
that buffaloes were formerly numerous about the
plains, and assert that remains of these animals
are still found. Between Lewis River and Spokan House we saw many bleached antlers of elk,
together with the large curved horns of the sheep
which are now found in the vicinity of the Rocky
Mountains. These animals have long since fled
from the plains. None of the present race of
Indians have seen any of them, and are unable to
account for their disappearance. We were equally
at a loss to divine the cause.; and whether the
annual burning of the grass by the natives in
hunting the deer had any influence in driving
..them away, I shall leave to the curious in animal
emigratfen to determine.
No rattlesnakes are seen below the falls. A
short distance above them these reptiles make
L 142 l&^Q&QV.s annals,
their first appearance, and are numerous as iMif^pi
the Chaudiere.fe^ a couple of days*ajgiarch above
ighfeb theye%^Hj disappear. There is in some
places a srn^kjl blacj§$s:nake, the bite of which
causes deatfomueh quicker than that of the rattlesnake. An old jIi^ftoaL near Oakinagan told me
that a &feild of hM a girl about five yejE^j^J_t|
one day looking^for blue-berries with other chil-
dren, was.bitten h$r a veryj.|j$saB.J)lack snake, and
died ini^about an hour afterwards. There are
numbei5&$)f dark-brown, green, and garter snakes,
but they are perfectly innocuous*!!;.
I have alreadyi<gpoken of th&WaJlah Wallah_vf
and of their friendly disposition. /With the exception of the attack to the autumn of lSM,.tka3rf
never manifested any hostility to our people; and
we had reason to know the part they took in that
transaction was compulsory. The entrance of
their ri^gr is in lat. 46° 4'. There jsjjgearcely any
beaver on their landswi but deej&wildijfo^l.J^a®d
roots, are obtained in plenty, and, with, the salmofc
constitute their principal feod. They are a well-
formed raeeis cleanly ins their persons, good hunters,   and exeelle©ft3h@_isemen.    The  Chohoptins, PERPE_CU<ail!TW.**BF ARE.
or Nez-Perces, di^S^is Iftfele fromMhem irt/ilheir
language, customs^io?' model q&j li_»aiag.   The. productions of their kujds are nearly similar; and
they have immense bands of wild an_td tame horsess
They reside prindipally on the banks o£nLe'#is
River, and are a numerous and poweffiii itr^ms
They and the Wallah JSSsdlahs are constantly at
war with the Shoshones, ot jSnake Indians, who
inhabit the great fdsins to the ^u^hasmrd.   The
only cause* assigned byjsjbe Wallah Wallahs for
this war aw, .that the Sgsafces interdict then|L_rdai
hunting the black-tailed deer, which are numerous on tfeek. lands, and in retaliation they oppose
the latteifain/diieir endeavours to catch salmon in
the Ey_umbia.   They allege that; thiso-oppositioii
would cease if the  Shoshones abandoned fheiri
claim to the exclusive ri^ht of hub ting theldab'kfi
tailed deer. A&thifeiisaf^vilege, however^which
the latter are not witting to concede, their warfaref
may be interminable.v/si ii^iP^IPl
The Yackamans are a numerous; tribe, whorife
habit the lands ,on the northern bj|i§^fl>f the
Columbia, from its junettoh above Lewis River until
some distance above a river which flows from the 144 _#:       CLOTHING.
northward, and is called after the name of the
tribe. They are on friendly terms with the Cho-
hoptins and Wallah Wallahs, and make common
cause with them against the Shoshones.
From the falls to this place there is little variation in the dress of the natives. The men wear
leathern shirts and gaiters, and the women are
covered with shifts of the same material; but a
short distance above the Yackaman river, and
from thence to Oakinagan, we met during the
fishing season some straggling bands, wretchedly
poor, and nearly naked. The men are withom|
any garments. The women wear a leathern belt
round the waist, from which a narrow slip passes
from the front, and is secured behind, something:
in the manner of the maro worn by the male
.motives of the Sandwich Islands. The rest of
their persons is quite naked; and their appearance,
particularly that of their old women, is extremely
disgusting. They have few horses; and other
animals are scarce on their lands.
Continuing our course upwards, we arrive among
the Oakinagans, where decency in covering again
appears.    Of this tribe I have alrea% spoken- THE   SIN A POTEST.
sufficiently; and shall therefore mer#fy remark,
that although far from cleanly in their lodges,
they keep their persons always well covered.
The latitude of Oakinagan is 48° 6' north, and the
longitude about 117° west.
The next tribe we meet are the Sinapoils, who
occupy a district on the northern banks of the
Columbia, between the Spokan and Oakinagan
rivers. They subsist principally on salmon and
cammas, and sometimes small deer. Beaver is
scarce; and they are consequently poorer-than
the neighbouring tribes, on whose lands that valuable animal abounds. They are dirty and slothful ; and, from their habits of dishonesty, are regarded by the other natives with the utmost contempt. From the poverty of their territory no
trading poit has been hitherto established amongst
them. This circumstance has indisposed them
towards the white men, and they seized every
opportunity of committing depredations on our
people. They are however poor in arms, and
poorer in spirit; and their aggressions were
chiefly confined to petty pilfering and horsestealing.
vol. ii. illis       k 146 THE   SINAPOILS.
The Sinapoils are much addicted to gambling,
and its concomitant vice, quarrelling. We could
never rightly ascertain whether they had a chief;
but from their insubordination, local feuds, and
love of thieving, we were inclined to doubt the
existence of any controlling authority. They
never committed any open act of hostility on us;
but this we had good reason to know was occasioned by the manner in which they were kept
in check by the friendly tribes of Spokan, Oakinagan, and Kamloops; any of whom would n&m
only willingly take our part, but would punish
the assailants with greater severity than we might
be inclined to use if left to our own discretion.
In justice however to this unfortunate race, it
must be borne in mind that they are tantalised by
Seeing in the possession of their neighbours the
Oakinagans and Spokans various articles which
they obtain in exchange for the productions of
their more favoured lands; and the Sinapoils
therefore cannot resist the temptation, when opportunity offers, to steal from the traders what the
poverty of their country prevents them from obtaining honestly. THE   SPOKANS.
About forty-five miles above the Sinapoil village, Spokan river joins the Columbia from the
eastward. At Oakinagan the plains begin to disappear ; and from thence to the Sinapoil lands
high naked bluffs predominate. A short distance
above the latter place some straggling pines become
visible, which increase thence upwards in size and
quantity. The Spokans have a small village at
the entrance of their river, but their chief and
permanent place of residence is about forty miles
higher up, where we built our fort, and where the
Pointed-heart River joins thev Spokan from the
south-east. Their lands present a pleasing variety
of well-wooded hills, open prairies, and rich flat
bottoms, which produce abundance of nutritive
roots and wild fruit. Beaver, deer, and various
kinds of wild fowl, &c. are occasionally plentiful,
while their river supplies them with excellent
salmon, trout, and carp. Yet, notwithstanding
these advantages, such is their improvidence, that
they are often reduced to starvation. In times of
scarcity they collect a quantity of pine-moss,
which they boil, and form into a kind of black 148 THE   SPOKANS.
cake about half an inch thick.    It is a horrible
preparation, and has a bitter saponaceous taste.
The Spokans are an honest friendly tribe.
They are good hunters, but somewhat indolent,
fond of gambling, despotic husbands, and indulgent fathers. Their women are great slaves, and
most submissive to marital authority. They did
not exhibit the same indifference to the superior
comforts of a white man's wife as that displayed
by the Flat-head women, and some of them consequently became partners of the voyageurs. They
made excellent wives, and in general conducted
themselves with propriety. Although the Spokan
men are extremely jealous, and punish with
severity any infidelity on the part of their wives,
they are themselves not over-scrupulous in their
own conduct. We learned from the wives of the
voyageurs, that female violation is by no means
uncommon among them. The frequent journeys
which the women in the execution of their laborious duties are obliged to make alone into the.
woods in search of fuel, roots, &c. afford great
facility to the commission of this offence ; and^Mfl THE   SPOKANS.
ravisher depends on impunity from the well-
known fear of the woman to tell her husband,
who might either abandon her, or, by taking the
offender's life, embroil their respective families in
a sanguinary contest.
Slavish and submissive as the Spokan women,
are, they do not all tamely submit to the occasional lapses of their husbands; an instance of
which occurred in the summer of 1815, while I
was at Spokan House. One of the tribe named
Singhelsdsscoghaght, (or the horse,) from his great
swiftness, and dexterity in riding, was a tall and -
rather handsome Indian. He was remarkable for
his gallantries, and it was also whispered among
the females that he never spared a woman whom
he caught unprotected in the woods. His wife
had for some time suspected him of carrying on
an intrigue, and, being constantly on the watch,
she soon discovered that her suspicions were not
groundless. The very night of the discovery, while
he was in a profound sleep, she inflicted on him a
dreadful injury, of which he died before morning.
On the intelligence becoming public, a crowd of
his relations assembled round the lodge, to whom 150 THE   POINTED-HEARTS.
she openly avowed herself as the author of his
death, stating at the same time her reasons for
committing the dreadful act; but she had scarcely
finished when an arrow from her husband's brother
quivered in her heart. Her relations instantly
collected. Guns, arrows, and tomahawks were
in immediate requisition, and before we could
arrive to check the bloody conflict, two men and
two women had fallen victims. Our presence
restored tranquillity; and, as the sufferers on each
side were equally divided, we experienced no great
difficulty in bringing about a reconciliation, and
each party rested satisfied with its respective loss.
The Pointed-hearts, or, as the Canadians call
them, les Cozurs d'AlSnes, (Hearts of Awls,) are a
small trib 2 inhabiting the shores of a lake about
fifty miles to the eastward of Spokan House.
Their country is tolerably well stocked with beaver, deer, wild-fowl, &c.; and its vegetable pro-r
ductions are similar to those of Spokan. Some of
this tribe occasionally visited our fort at the latter
place with furs to barter, and we made a few
excursions to their lands. We found them uniformly honest in their traffic; but they did not
evince the same warmth of friendship for us as the
Spokans, and expressed no desire for the establishment of a trading post among them. They are
in many respects more savage than their neighbours, and I have seen some of them often eat
deer and other meat raw. They are also more
unfeeling husbands, and frequently beat their
wives in a cruel manner. )£$$
About twenty years before our arrival, the Spokans and Pointed-hearts were at war, caused by
a kind of Trojan origin. A party of the former
had been on a hunting visit to the lands of the
latter, and were hospitably received. One day
a young Spokan discovered the wife of a Pointed-
heart alone, some distance from the village, and
violated her. Although she might have borne
this in silence from one of her own tribe, she was
not equally forbearing with regard to a stranger,
and immediately informed her husband of the
outrage. He lost no time in seeking revenge,
and shot the Spokan as he entered the village.
The others fled to their own lands, and prepared
for war. A succession of sanguinary conflicts
followed, in the course of which the greatest war- 152 THE   COOTONAIS.
riors of both sides were nearly destroyed. At the
end of a year, n%wever, hostilities ceased; since
which period they have been at peace. The two
nations now intermarry, and appear to be on the
best terms of friendship.
Leaving the Pointed-hearts, we cross the Flathead river, and come to the Cootonais, who inhabit a
small and beautiful district near the foot of the
Rocky Mountains, and about sixty miles, to the
north-east of the Flat-head lands. It is nearly surrounded by a chain of lofty and thickly-wooded
mountains, and is consequently very difficult of
access. Beaver is plentiful in this country, and of
a superior description. Otters, martens, and bears,
are also found, with excellent deer and mountain
sheep.* Wfelf
The Cootonais are the remnant of a once brave
and powerful tribe, who, like the Flat-heads,
were perpetually engaged in war with the Black-
feet for the right of hunting on the buffalo grounds.
Previous to our arrival among them they entertained the most deadly hatred against white men,
to whom  they attributed  all  their misfortunes,
* The tobacco plant has lately been discovered in this district. !  * THE   COOTONAIS. 153
owing to the assistance which their enemies received in arms and ammunition _$om the Northwest Company's people to the eastward of the
They appeared to be perfectly aware that beaver was the only object that induced us to visit
their country; and they accordingly exerted
themselves to procure it, not, as some of them
candidly declared, for our interest, but for the
purpose of obtaining fire-arms, spears, &c. to
enable them to meet their old enemies the Black-
feet on more equal terms.
teihey are a very peculiar tribe. Their language
bears no affinity whatever to that of any of the
western nations. It is infinitely softer and more
free from those unpronounceable gutturals so common among the lower tribes. As with the Flat-
heads, buffalo is the cause of all their misfortunes;
for, although, as I have before mentioned,.their
lands abound in plenty of other animals, their
hereditary attachment to the buffalo is so unconquerable, that it drives them every year to the
plains, where they come in contact with the
Black-feet.    In these contests they are generally 154 THE   COOTONAIS.
victors, but they always return with diminished
numbers. They have latterly entered into a kind
of alliance, offensive and defensive, with the Flat-
heads, by which they have agreed that neither
party shall make peace with the Black-feet until
the latter shall permit them to hunt without molestation on the buffalo plains. As this is a concession not likely to be granted, it is probable that
the war will terminate only w7ith the extermination of one or other of the parties.
The Cootonais are by no means so wagfi&liearted
towards the whites as their neighbours the Flat-
heads ; but Mr. Montour, who spent some years
among them, states, that they are strictly honest
in all their dealings, and remarkable for their adherence to truth ; a virtue, by the bye, of which
few Indians can boast. Polygamy is unknaw» 1
among them; and he never knew an instance
wherein any of their women admitted overtures
of an improper nature. They appear to be jealous of white men, and studiously conceal their
females whenever any of the traders approach
their lodges.
A Cootonais seldom smiles.    He  thinks that THE   CHAUDIERES.
sooner or later he is doomed to fall in the field
of battle; and this certainty of death, joined to
the number of relatives annually killed in their
constant warfare, imparts to his features a settled
The greatest cleanliness and neatness are observable abbut their persons and lodges. They are
rather handsome, above the mido^e size, and, compared with other tribes, remarkably fair. On the
whole, we may say of this interesting people, that,
in their intercourse with white men, they are
rather haughty and reserved; in conversation,
candid; in trade, honest; brave in battle; and
devotedly attached to each other and their country. The trading post established among the
Cootonais is situated in about 49° 30' north latitude, and 115° west longitude.
The Chaudieres or Kettle Indians, and the small
band under the hermaphrodite chief, are mentioned in the First Volume, together with the productions of their respective lands. The Chau-
diere fall is situated in 48° 37' north latitude, and
the longitude, by chronometer, is about 116° west.
A small tribe exists on the upper lakes of the 156 THE   KAMLOOPS.
Columbia, which wanders about in straggling parties of three, four, or five each. They appear to
be timid in approaching white people, but are not
unfriendly. They have no horses, are poor hunters, go nearly naked, and subsist principally on
About one hundred and fifty miles to the northwest of Oakinagsgi, in the direction of Thompson's
River, the Company has a post established among
a tribe called the Kamloops, to which there is a
communication by land, or by means of the Oakinagan river and lake. Beaver is rather plentiful
in this quarter; and, with salmon, constitutes
their chief riches. They have few horses, and
deer are scarce on their lands. Messrs. La Rocque
and M'Donald, who wintered among them, state
that the Kamloops are less friendly than any tribe
among whom we had posts established. They are
addicted to thieving and quarrelling, w7ear little
covering, and are extremely dirty in their persons.
Like other tribes, they are subject to occasional
famine, owing to their neglecting to provide in the
fishing season a sufficiency of salmon for the periods of scarcity. BURIAL   PLACES.
I Beyond Kamloops to the northward the department of New Caledonia commences, inhabited by
a tribe called the Carriers; of whom I have given
a sketch in a letter from Mr. John Stuart. A
more comprehensive description of their country,
its productions, &c, will be'found in the Appendix.
From the upper parts of the Columbia andjts
subordinate streams, to the lower falls, the natives
inter their dead in a similar manner to that which
I have described among the Spokans. From the
falls to the lower rapids the bodies of the deceased
are enveloped in mats and skins, and placed in
cemeteries in a retired situation ; one of which is
described in the early part of the First Volume.
Thence to the mouth of the river the dead are
placed in canoes in the manner mentioned in my
sketch of the Chinooks.
They all believe in a future state of rewards and
punishments. Their moral code differs but little
from that of the Flat-heads. The articles of food,
clothing, &c., most in use amongst them while
living, they hope also to enjoy in the abodes of
future happiness;   while, in their place of punish- 158 INTOXICATION.
ment, cold, hunger, and thirst, await the bad
There is one item in the Oakinagan creed relative to future torments, which is, I imagine, peculiar to that tribe. An evil spirit, with face, arms,
and legs like a man,'and a long tail and ears like
a horse, jumps about from tree to tree with a stick
in his hand, with which he unmercifully belabours all the condemned, who are prevented by
the agility of his movements from touching him*
This is an additional punishment to what all other
tribes believe their wicked will have to suffer.
We never brought ardent spirits amongst them
for the purposes of barter, and therefore cannot
say how far an abundance of it would have seduced
them to its intemperate use; but the few whom
we knew to have tasted any did not seem to relish
it, except on one occasion that we gave a few
glasses to old Illimspokanee, the chief of the
Spokans. He staggered home in a state of intoxication, and in a couple of days returned and begged
for a little more of the f4 strong water" (rum);
but as we did not wish to encourage its consumption by the Indians, and were apprehensive of the TREATMENT    OF   FEMALES.
evil effects which Ms example might produce, we
refused to give him any more, alleging that our
stock was exhausted.
The treatment of the women differs materially
among the various tribes. Where food is principally obtained by the exertions of the men (as
among the Cootonais, Flat-heads, Spokans, &c.) the
women are condemned to great drudgery. When
a hunter kills a deer, he merely cuts out the
tongue, or takes enough for a meal, and on returning to his lodge despatches his wife for the body.
She is guided to the spot by notches which he
|&ts made in the trees. She also collects firewood, carries water, cooks, makes and cleans his
shirts, prepares the meat and fish for curing, &c.
They possess little or no influence, and, notwithstanding their laborious duties, seem perfectly
contented. Among the lower tribes, however,
where their exertions in collecting the Wappitoo
roots contribute to the general support, they assume an air of liberty and independence quite
unknown among the upper natives; and in all
cases of importance the elderly women equally
with the men are consulted. 160 MORAL   CHARACTER'.
From the foregoing brief sketch it will be seen
that those qualities which may be ranked among
the virtues, are more conspicuous among the warlike
tribes of the Cootonais and Flat-heads than among
those lower down. With the exception of slips of
red cloth, or a few feathers adorning their heads,
they enter the field of battle perfectly naked,
Pride in their port, defiance in their eye.
Their bravery is pre-eminent:—a love of truth
they think necessary to a warrior's character.
They are too proud to be dishonest, too candid to
be cunning. Their many avocations leave them
no leisure for gambling; and their strict subordination, joined to the necessity of exerting all their
energies against the common enemy, prevents
them from quarrelling.
Here I may close my account of the occurrences, &c. which came under my observation
during my residence on the Columbia and its
tributary streams. A few characteristic sketches
of the Canadians, half-breeds, Iroquois, &c. will
appear in the Appendix; together with an interesting description of New Caledonia, and a state- RENDEZVOUS..
ment of various circumstances which occurred
subsequent to my quitting the Indian country,
and the insertion of which here would, I imagined,
have broken in on the chronological order of my
Towards the latter end of March, 1817, the
other wintering parties joined us at Oakinagan,
from whence we all proceeded to Fort George,
which we reached on the 3d of April. 162    DEPARTURE FROM FORT GEORGE.
Ascent of the Columbia—Its lakes—Dangerous navigation—.
High water—Arrive at the mountains—Melancholy detail
of the death of six of the party.
Wednesday, April 16th, 1817. At one p. m.
on this day we took our departure from Fort
George under a salute of seven guns. Our party
consisted of eighty-six souls, and was perhaps the
largest and most mixed that ever ascended the
Columbia. In it were five Scotchmen, two English, and one Irish; thirty-six Canadians, twenty
Iroquois Indians, two Nipisings, one Cree, and
three half-breeds; nine natives of the Sandwich I
Islands; with one boy, a servant, two women, and
two children. The whole embarked in two barges
and nine canoes, (two of which were of bark,) ASCENT OF THE COLUMBIA.       163
jgach containing on an average twenty-two packages, each weighing ninety pounds.
#fc)wing to a strong head-breeze, we were unable
to double Tongue-point, on the west side of which
we were obliged to encamp in view of the fort.
We remained here on the 17th and 18th, during
which days it blew a perfect hurricane from the
eastward, accompanied by heavy showers. Our
tents were repeatedly blown down ; and we might
have suffered severely from the incessant rain,
had not the governor of Fort George considerately despatched to us an additional quantity of
port and rum, with which we succeeded in neutralising the overpowering humidity of the atmosphere.
The wind having moderated on the morning of
the 19th, we resumed our voyage after breakfast.
■ We had occasional showers during the day, and
passed some scattered lodges of natives, from
whom we purchased a quantity of excellent sturgeon. Encamped a little after five o'clock on
Oak Point.
We embarked at day-break on the 20th, with
calm weather : purchased a quantity of sturgeon. 164 ENCAMPMENT.
Towards evening a smart breeze sprung up in our
favour, which enabled us to hoist sail; and we
continued on in fine style until five, when v#e
encamped at the village of Kyeassino, a friendly
chief, a short distance below the mouth of the
Multnomah or Wallamut. We had a few slight
showers during the day.
On the 21st we arose with the dawn, and embarked. Some of the canoes having struck on
sunken trees, we were obliged to put ashore for a
couple of hours to repair the damage and dry the
goods. We encamped at dusk about five miles
above La Prairie du Th6, so called by the Canadians from a species of mint which grows in it,
and which they are fond of using as a substitute
for tea. Passed a few lodges of Indians, but did
not stop.    Weather same as yesterday.
The morning of the 22nd was cloudy and chilly,
with a slight head-breeze, which lasted nearly the
entire day. We however made good way; and
at three p. m. arrived at the foot of the rapids.
Made two discharges, and passed them sans accident. Encamped at sun-set at the west end of the
portage.    As this was the scene of several attacks,
we formed a strong barricade of canoes and goods
about the encampment, and divided the party into
three watches. Several of the natives visited us..
The men were unarmed and well-behaved; and
the females appeared solicitous to bestow their
favours on some of our people. They appeared
somewhat surprised and offended to find that love
had no influence in our camp ; and left us late in
the evening, evidently chagrined at their reception.
The night passed over quietly; and we commenced the portage at day-break, on the morning
of the 24th, with cool calm weather. The Indians behaved very friendly, and offered their
^services to assist in carrying the goods. We did
not think it prudent to refuse them, and at half-
past ten the portage was cleared. We breakfasted at the upper end, and purchased a few
salmon from the natives, to whom we gave the
usual present of tobacco; after which we proceeded on. The weather during the day was
extremely warm for the season. Put ashore once
to repair the canoes, and encamped late in the ,
evening at the point of the Mangy Dog. 166 THE   PORTAGE.
The weather continuing calm, we embarked at
half-past one on the morning of the 24th; but
owing to the darkness, several of our canoes
struck on sunken rocks and trees, which compelled
us to put ashore at day-light to repair the damage. .
At nine we proceeded on, and doubled Cape
Horn in calm weather; a circumstance of very
rare occurrence in voyages on the Columbia.
At three p. m. arrived at the Dalles (narrows),
and immediately began the portage, but were only
enabled to get half through it, when we encamped. The young chief, and the old chief-
tainess, accompanied by several Indians, paid us
a visit. They were unarmed, and conducted
themselves peaceably.
We finished the portage at ten o'clock on the
morning of the 25th, and breakfasted before embarking ; after which we continued on, with a
strong breeze in our favour. Passed several dangerous points; and with much difficulty, owing to
the low state of the water, we succeeded in
making our way without unloading, through the,
narrow channel to [the right of the small Dalles.
At four p. m.   we encamped at   the foot of the THE   PORTAGE.
Great Falls on the south side. A few Indians
crossed over to our encampment; but the weather
being wet and stormy, they shortly after returned.
26th. It blew a strong gale the greater part of
last night; but moderated at day-break, when we
crossed to the north side, and commenced the
portage, which we finished in two pauses. We
purchased twenty dogs for the kettle. None of
the natives who came to us were armed, and we
never observed them so tranquil. Our number,
however, was sufficient to insure us a respectful
reception among any single tribe of the Columbia. Mr. Mackenzie wrote a letter here to Fort
.George, which he intrusted to one of the chiefs,
who promised to have it safely conveyed to its
destination. On quitting this place we distributed a quantity of leaf-tobacco among the Indians, who crowded round the canoes, eagerly
expecting this last act of our friendship. It was
past eleven when we embarked. We had a strong
breeze in our favour all day, and passed several
bad rapids. Encamped late, a short distance
above John Day's River ; so called from its having
been the place at which that hunter was attacked.
L 168 expedition continued.
We had a strong aft breeze during the greater
part of the 27th, which enabled us to go d la voile.
Purchased seven horses, moderately cheap, from
a party of Shyatogoes and Wallah Wallahs, who
followed us the greater part of the day, and encamped with us at night. 3jS*
28th; ^Embarked at the usual hour with a slight
aft wind; about noon, it increased to a double-
reefed-to^sail gale, which again fell away at four
to a gentle breeze. Saw very few Indians,^||jM
encamped at six p. m. a little below the grand
rapid, on the south side. The weather on the
29th was clear, and the wind favourable. We
passed the Kah&nsi Rapid at two p. m. without injuring a canoe, and had a fine breeze all the
afternoon. Shortly after sun-set we made our
beds a little above the Wallah Wallah River.
Tom Tappam the chief, andj several of his tribe,
visited us, and promised to trade some horses.
We slept u_d$l nine on the morning of the 30th,
and began re-dividing and re-distributing the men
and baggage for Mr. Mackenzie's tour to the
Shoshone Indians. We purchased nine horses
from Tom Tappam, and gave for each goods to .EXPEDITION   CONTINUED.
the value of seven beaver skins* by the north-west
tariff.    The weather during the day was rather *
warm and boisterous.
Thursday, 1st of May. Left the Wallah Wallahs
after breakfast, with a slight breeze. Between
twelve and one we put ashore at the mouth of
Lewis River, where we took an early dinner;
after which Mr. Mackenzie, with twenty-two
men and three canoes, left us under a salute of
three cheers. We continued on, up the Colum-
bia, and encamped after sun-set two miles above
the Yackaman River. Passed a few Indians,
from whom we traded one horse. It blew pretty
fresh during the day.
Nothing particular occurred ©n the 2nd. The
weather was warm, and we encamped near the
beginning of the marl-banks, called by the
Canadians, from their colour, les Terres Jaunes.
The 3rd was equally devoid of interest. The
weather was rather windy ; and we encamped at
the foot of the Priest's Rapid. We saw none of
the natives for the last two days.
After breakfast ;on the morning of the 4th, the
party who were to cross the  Rocky Mountains 170 RESCUE   FROM   DROWNING.
bid adieu to the loaded canoes, and the gentlemen of the Columbia. It consisted of Messrs.
Bethune, M'Dougall, Joseph M'Gillivray, Alexander M'Tavish, and myself; with sixteen men,
Holmes the tailor, and the boy Perrault, in two
canoes. Encamped about three leagues below
Pacquin's Rapid.    Fine weather all day.
5th. Breakfasted at the above rapid; at which
we were constrained to unload part of the lading,
and about noon arrived at the portage of the
Rocky Island Rapid.
While Gingras and Landreville were getting one
of the canoes up the rapid, the latter made a false
stroke of his pole, by which it missed bottom, and
the canoe was upset in the middle of the waves.
Gingras held fast by the bars until it was drawn
into an eddy, when he found bottom, and got
ashore. In the mean time eight men leaped into
the other canoe, and instantly pushed off to the
assistance of Landreville, who was for a couple
of minutes invisible; when at length, appearing
above the surface of the water, they seized him
by the hair, and drew him on board nearly lifeless.    All our baggage was subsequently picked EXPEDITION   CONTINUED.
up; and we remained here the remainder of the
day to dry it, and repair the canoes. A few poor
Indians visited us. They had no provisions to
trade, and appeared to be more in want of food
and clothing than any I had ever seen. One old
woman in particular was completely naked, and
presented a most disgusting appearance.
Nothing of consequence occurred on the 6th or
7th; and about sun-set on the 8th, we reached
Oakinagan Fort, where we passed the night.
At four p. m. we bid adietf'to Oakinagan,
having previously killed two horses, the flesh of
which we took with us. Encamped a short distance above the road leading to Spokan House.
The weather, for the last few days, was remarkably mild. It changed, however, on the 10th ; on
which day we had incessant rain. We encamped
three leagues above la Rapide d'lgnace.
On Sunday the 11th we embarked at daybreak. The late rain gave the country a most refreshing appearance; and along the banks of the
river we pulled a quantity of small wild onions,
which grew in great abundance, both among the 172 HIGH    FLOODS.
rocks, and in the low bottoms. Encamped five
miles below the entrance of Sinapoil River, a
small stream which falls into the Columbia from
the north.    Weather rather sultry.
The men had hard work on the 12th.    Owing I
to the sudden rise of the" water, caused by the late
rain and melting of the snows, we were obligedI
to disembark several times during the  day, to*
allow the canoes to be dragged up with lines.
Encamped opposite the entrance to Spokan River:
The country from Oakinagan to this place is quite
devoid of wood, but the banks of the river are
bold, and in many places rocky.    This naturally
contracts the river into a more narrow compass,
and makes the current much more difficult to stem.
We began, the morning of the 13th, by making
a portage above our encampment; after which
we breakfasted, and pursued our route. We had
a strong smooth current all day, and encamped
on the south side a few leagues below the Grand
Rapid. From Spokan River, upwards, the banks
of the Columbia are rather thickly wooded, and
present a very picturesque  appearance.   There THE   CHAUDIERE   PORTAGE. 173
are also several rich bottoms of red and white
clover, and some aromatic herbs,
Wasting their sweetness on the desert air.
Met a couple of families of poor beggarly Indians.
Very sultry weather all day.
14th. On arriving at the Grand Rapid we
were forced to carry the canoes, as well as the
baggage, to the upper end. This occupied the
greater portion of the day, and we did not finish
it before three ?. m. At four we arrived at the
Great Kettle Falls, the portage of which we completed at sun-set. Encamped at the upper end
of the falls; shortly after which an Indian arrived
from Spokan House with letters from Mr. M'Donald, which contained no intelligence of interest.
Embarked at the usual hour, on the 15th, and
made pretty good way until one p. m., when we
arrived at a particular part of the river, called the
First Dalles, or narrows, above the Kettle Falls,
where the channel is confined between a range of
high and dangerous rocks, nearly a mile in extent;
the whole of which distance the men were obliged
to carry the canoes and baggage.   Encamped at 174 HIGH   FLOODS.
la Riviere de Beliers, so called from some mountain sheep having been killed near the spot by our
hunters some years before. The Indians assert
that no rattlesnakes are to be found on either
bank of the Columbia above this river ; and all our
men, who had been previously in the employment
of the Company, hunting in that part, fully corroborated this statement. The Riviere de Beliers-
comes from the north-west.
About seven o'clock on the morning of the 16th
we passed the mouth of the Flat-head River,
which falls into the Columbia over a foaming cascade, caused by a large collection of immense
rocks, which choke up the entrance. During the
day we passed a number of small, rivers, which,
owing to the melting of the snow, caused by the
excessive heat, had been swollen into torrents.
The force of the current rushing out from these
rivers repeatedly drove the canoes back with
great violence, and it required all the skill and
strength of our men to pass them. Encamped late,
near M'Gillivray's River, a fine bold strean_4.!
which takes its rise in the Rocky Mountains, and
running in nearly a north-east direction, through CAPTURE   OF   A   BEAR.
the Cootonias lands, here joins the Columbia. A
refreshing breeze from the north sprung up in the
evening. The country on each side, from the
Kettle Falls to this place, is thickly wooded, principally with pine, spruce, and small birch. The
northern shore is rather low; but the south side
presents a bold rocky appearance. About an
hour before we encamped we observed a large
black bear in the act of swimming across the
river, which -Mr. M'Gillivray wounded. The
enraged animal instantly changed its course downwards, and came in contact with our canoe, into
which it attempted to get, by seizing the gunwale
with its fore paws. " This nearly upset us; but the
foreman aimed a well-directed blow at his head
with his pole, which completely stunned it, and
we succeeded in hauling it on board. It was in
rather good condition, and proved a welcome and
unexpected treat.
17th. Set off a little before sun-rise ; and about
an hour afterwards entered the first lake formed
by the Columbia. It is between eleven and twelve
leagues long, and about one and a half in breadth;
the current smooth and steady, and pretty free 176 FIRST   LAKE.
from snags or sunken trees. The shores are bold
and well wooded with a variety of timber of fine
size; and in the distance we first caught a view
of the most westernychain of the Rocky Mountains covered with snow. A head-wind, during
the greater part of the day, considerably retarded
our progress; and we encamped late, near the
upper end of the lake, where a few Indians visited
us. They appeared to be very poor, and brought
about a dozen beaver skins to trade, which we
told them we couJ_4{ not purchase, as we were
obliged to cross the mountains; but that our
party, going downwards in the autumn*, would
stop a few days with them, and trade all the skins
they had. They were rather disappointed; but
a little tobacco, and some trifling presents, sent
them away in good humour.
Shortly after, embarking on the morning of theft
18th, we left the lake, and entered that part of
the river called the Straits, which separates the
Upper from the Lower Lake. It is only a few
miles in length, and quickly brought us to the
upper lake, which is not so long as the first. The
high hills in its immediate vicinity were covered DIFFICULTIES   IN  NAVIGATION.
with snow, the chilling influence of which we
sensibly experienced by the cold blasts from
shore. Encamped at sun-set at the upper end of
the lake, on a fine sandy beach. During the
day we struck on two sand-banks, and were
slightly injured by a sunken tree. Saw no
Indians, i
19th. About two miles above our encampment ef last night the Columbia becomes very
narrow, with steep and thickly wooded banks,
covered with immense quantities of fallen trees.
The current is very strong, and, owing to the great
Ipeiglit of the water, the men at intervals had
scarcely any beach on which to walk in dragging
eup the canoes. Our progress was consequently
slow; and we put ashore for the night about
.fifteen miles above the lake.
At nine o'clock on the morning of the 20th
we reached the Second Dalles, or narrows,
which are formed by a contraction of the channel of the river into a very small compass.
There are high and slippery rocks on each side,
which makes it a work of great danger and diffi-
culty to pass them.   The baggage was all carried 178
by the men, and the canoes were towed up with
strong lines, after being in great danger of filling
from the frightful whirlpools close along the
shore. The weather became much cooler from
the proximity of the mountains. Several patches
of snow were observable on the beach during the
day, and towards evening some rain fell.
From dawn of day until noon on the 21st we
did not make three miles, owing to the impetuosity of the current, the shelving banks, and the
extreme weakness of our men, several of wh®aifj
were knocked up. We were detained at one place
upwards of four hours to repair our shattere*_l|
canoes, and encamped about six o'clock on a low
gravelly point. We had several smart showers
during the afternoon.
22d. About two p.m. arrived at a place called j
the Upper Dalles, where the river is again confined for a considerable distance between a line of
high slippery rocks. Got about half way through
this channel, and stopped for the night in a small
nook formed by the rocks, on which we lay scattered  and  exposed to severe   rain during the RIVER  TORRENTS.
We rose wet and unrefreshed on the morning of
the 23d, and in five hours passed the Dalles, the
upper part of which consists of a chain of whirlpools, which compelled us to carry both canoes
and baggage some distance over the rocks; in the
execution of which duty, some of the men nar-
pfi«?ly escaped with their lives. Those who carried our canoe, from mere exhaustion fell several
times, by which it was much damaged ; and we
were detained until 3 p. m.  to get it repaired*
■Bieamped at dusk on a sandy beach, for wh%3fe
we had been some time on the look-out. The rain
continued during the evening and the night to
pour down in torrents.
Our progress on the 24th was equally slow.
The various tributary streams which we passed
en this and the last two days, and which take
their rise from the surrounding mountains, had
by the recent rains been swollen into torrents,
the waters of which, as they rushed with headlong force into the Columbia, repeatedly drove us
iteek with irresktible strength, and at times we
were in danger of filling. On two occasioiss,
where the opposite shore of the Columbia con-
sisted of perpendicular rocks, we were obliged,
after various fruitless attempts to pass the minor
streams, to unload and carry the canoes and bag<
gage some distance along their banks until we -
reached a smooth space of current, when we
crossed, and by that means surmounted the difficulties of their respective embouchures. It rained
on us all the afternoon.
25th. Nothing of importance occurred on this
day to vary the disagreeable tedium of our journey. The foreman, steersman, and four of the
middlemen of our canoe were quite knocked up;
while those in the other canoe were comparatively
strong and healthy:—indeed the distribution of
the men was grossly partial, and was productive
in the sequel of the most deplorable consequences.
It rained hard all day; and on retiring to rest we
had not a dry article of covering about us.
On the 26th we only made three miles, in the
course of which our canoe filled in a dangerous
rapid, and we were near perishing. We succeeded
however in gaining a low stony island, on which
there was no wood to light a fire : our pemmican
was completely damaged by the late accident; and, EXHAUSTED   STATE.
as a climax to our misery, it rained incessantly the
whole day.
The river here opened out to a considerable
breadth, and in some places was very shallow.
The Rocky Mountain portage at which we were to
leave our canoes appeared in sight, and was not
more than three miles distant. As we threw our
jaded bodies on our stony couch this evening, we
most truly experienced that
Weariness can snore upon the flint,
When restive sloth makes the down-pillow hard.
We rose at the usual hour on the 27th, and at
nine a.m. arrived at the entrance of Canoe River,
where the portage commences, and with indescribable pleasure we bade a final adieu to our crazy
battered canoe. Messrs. M'Dougall and Bethune .
had reached it the day before, and had almost despaired of seeing us. Finding so many of our men
invalids, those gentlemen deemed it imprudent to
bring them across the mountains, the fatigues of
which they would not be able to encounter. Six
Canadians, and Holmes the English tailor, were
therefore sent back in the best canoe to Spokan 182 ACCIDENT.
House. Out of the seven men, two only were
able to work; but, as the current was in their
favour, it was hoped they would arrive in three
days at the Kettle Falls, from whence they could
easily reach Spokan. As our stock of provisions
was very scanty, we could only spare them enough
for the above period. On separating from their
comrades, some of them appeared dejected and
melancholy, and foreboded that they would never
see Canada again. Their prophecy, alas! was
but too true.
* I did not hear the fate of this unfortunate party Vtetil
three years afterwards. The following is the melancholy detail. On leaving the Rocky Mountains, they drove rapidly
down the current until they arrived at the Upper Dalles or n®i> j
rows, where they were obliged to disembark. A cod-line was
made fast to the stern of the canoe, while two men preceded it
along the banks with poles to keep it from striking against the
rocks. It had not descended more than half the distance, when
it was caught in a strong whirlpool, and the line snapped. The
canoe for a moment disappeared in the vortex; on emerging
from which, it was carried by the irresistible force of the current to the opposite side, and dashed to pieces against the; ;
rocks. They had not the prudence to take out either their
blankets or small quantity of provisions, which were of course
all lost. Here then the poor fellows found themselves deprived of
all the necessaries of life, and at a period of the year in which
it was impossible to procure any wild fre*t or roots.    To return DREADFUL   DETAIL.
to the mountains was impossible, and their only chance of preservation was to proceed downwards, and to keep as near the
banks of the river as circumstances would permit. The continual rising of the water had completely inundated the beach,
in consequence of which they were compelled to force their
way through an almost impervious forest, the ground of which
was covered with a strong growth of prickly underwood. Their
only nourishment was water; owing to which, and their weakness from fatigue and ill health, their progress was necessarily
slow. On the third day poor Mapon died, and his surviving
comrades, though unconscious how soon they might be called
on to follow him, determined to keep off the fatal moment as
long as possible. They therefore divided his remains in equal
parts between them, on which they subsisted for some days.
From the swollen state of their feet their daily progress did not
exceed two or three miles. Holmes, the tailor, shortly followed Ma$on, and they continued for some time longer to sustain life on his emaciated body. It would be a painful repetition to detail the individual death of each man. Suffice it to
say that m a little time, of the seven men, two only, named La
^Pierre- and Dubois, remained alive. La Pierre was subsequently found on the borders of the upper lake of the Columbia by two Indians who were coasting it in a canoe. They
took him on board, and brought him to the Kettle Falls, from
whence he was conducted to Spokan House.
He stated that, after the death of the fifth man of the party,
Dubois and he continued for some days at the spot where he
had ended his sufferings, and on quitting it they loaded themselves with as much of his flesh as they could carry ; that with
this they succeeded in reaching the upper lake, round the
shores of which they wandered for some time in vain in search
of Indians; that their horrid food at length became exhausted,
and they were again reduced to the prospect of starvation :
that on the second night after their last meal, he (La Pierre) 184
observed something suspicious in the conduct of Dubois, which
induced him to be on his guard; and that shortly after they
had lain down for the night, and while he feigned sleep, he observed Dubois cautiously opening his clasp knife, with which
he sprung on him, and inflicted on his hand the blow that was
evidently intended for his neck. A silent and desperate conflict followed, in which, after severe struggling, La Pierre succeeded in wresting the knife from his antagonist, and having
no other resource left, he was obliged in self-defence to cut
Dubois' throat; and that a few days afterwards he was discovered by the Indians as before mentioned. Thus far nothing
at first appeared to impugn the veracity of his statement; but
some otherv natives subsequently found the remains of two of
the party near those of Dubois, mangled in such a manner as
to induce them to think that they had been murdered ; and as
La Pierre's story was by no means consistent in many of its
details, the proprietors judged it advisable to transmit him td
Canada for trial. Only one Indian attended : but as the testimony against him was merely circumstantial, and unsupported
by corroborating evidence, he Was acquitted. CANOE   RIVER  AND   VALLEY. 185
t.anoe Valley and River—Appearance of mountains—M'Gilli-
vrays Rock—Dangerous situation of party on a raft—Arrive
- at Rocky Mountain House—Volcanic appearances—Animals, &c.—Indian tradition respecting Mammoth—Difference in size of trees.
Our baggage and provisions were divided between the nine remaining men, who in consequence
of the number we had sent back, were obliged to
earry about ninety pounds weight each, besides
their own kits, which in such cases are never
taken into consideration.
Canoe River, which here joins the Columbia, is
^one of its principal sources, and is situated in lat.
52° 7' 9" N.    In the dry season, it is broad but 186 WILD   AND   IMPRESSIVE   SCENERY.
very shallow, and near its entrance spreads over
several sandy shoals.
On the morning of the 28th of May at ten
o'clock we set off on foot along the banks of Canoe
River, which winds its way through a wide and
cheerless valley. We had not proceeded far when
we found it impossible, from the great rise of the
water, to pass the ordinary fords. It appeared
like a lake, and completely set at nought the
topographical knowledge of'our guide. This obliged us to strike into the woods, our progress
through which was extremely fatiguing, and at
three p. m. we bivouacked about two miles beyond
a long woody point, which stretches some distance
across the valley. The weather was cloudy all
day, with slight showers, which, during the night,
increased to heavy rain, from which we had no
We rose early on the morning of the 29th of
May, in no very enviable situation. A thick mist
still enveloped us, and rendered the awful solitude
of this gloomy valley peculiarly impressive. It
appeared never to have been trodden by the foot
of man, until  the  enterprising spirit of British LOFTY ROCKS AND MOUNTAINS.     187
commerce, after having forced its way over the
everlasting snows of the Rocky Mountains, penetrated into the anti-social glen, and from thence
entered the mighty waters of the Columbia. As the
mists gradually ascended into the higher regions,
we obtained a more distinct view of the surrounding scenery. On the northern side tiers of mountains, thickly covered with large pine and cedar,
towered to an immeasurable - height; while the
southern presented dark perpendicular rocks of
immense altitude, partially covered with moss,
stunted pine, &c, over which at intervals cascades
of seven or eight hundred feet high forced a passage to swell the torrent below. The sun, except
in the intervals between the rocks, was invisible ;
and, with the exception of our own party, no trace
of animated nature could be distinguished in this
magnificent solitude.
About eleven a. m. we passed a second woody
point, which runs into the valley from the north
Side ; and at two p. m. stopped for the remainder
of the day. The men were much fatigued from
'their heavy loads, and some of them vvere hardly
able to proceed. 188 DANGEROUS   FORD.
We set off at day-break on the 30th, sometimes
skirting, and at others fording the river. At seve^l
a. m. we arrived at a particular part, called the
grande traverse, owing to its great depth and
breadth. To cross this was a measure of much
danger. We all advanced in line, the tallest and
strongest mixed alternately with the lowest, each
holding the other firmly by the hand. This arrangement was peculiarly necessary; for during
our progress several of the smaller men were swept
off their legs by the force of the current, and
would inevitably have perished, but for the support they derived from their stronger brethren.
We effected the passage between eight and nine,
when we were obliged to stop to dry our clothes,
and breakfast. After this, which did not occupy
much time, we proceeded on, and about noon encamped within a short distance of the grande cdtey
or principal hill which we have to ascend in passing
from the Columbia.—Weather charming all day.
Shortly after dawn on the morning of the 31st
we commenced the steep ascent of the first great
hill. At its base were cedar and pine trees of
enormous magnitude; but, in proportion as we as- ROUGH   TRAVELLING. Jl8i@
cended, they decreased in size, and at the summit
of the hill their appearance was quite dwarfish.
We completed the ascent in about four hours and
a half, and did not find it so difficult as we had
anticipated. This however may be attributed to
our having commenced the task early in the
A short time before we reached the summit, and
from thence to the level of the table land, our
progress lay through a wilderness of deep snow,
Ip&ich we had to beat down to form a pathway for
the loaded men. This work, owing to the holes
into which several of the party occasionally fell,
was both fatiguing and dangerous.
At one p. M. we arrived at two small lakes
between which we encamped. They are only a
few hundred feet each in circumference, and the
distance between them does not exceed twenty^
five or thirty feet. They lie on the most level
part of the heigh&of land, and are situated between
an immense cut of the Rocky Mountains. From
them two rivers take their rise, which pursue different courses, and fall into separate oceans: the
first winds into the valley we had lately left, and, 190 MOUNTAINS  AND   GLACIERS.
after joining the upper part of the Columbia* empties itself into the North Pacific; while the ©Iher,
called the Rocky Mountain River, a branch of
the Athabasca, follows firfet an eastern and then a
northern course, until-it forms a junction with the
Unjiga or Peace River. This falls into Great
Slave Lake, the waters of which are ultimately
carried by M'Kenzie^s River to the Arptic Ocean.
The country round our encampment presented
the wildest and most terrific appearance of desolation that can, be well imagined. The sun
shining on a range of stupendous glaciers, threw a
Shilling brightness over the chaotk mass of rocks,
ice, and snow, by which we were surrounded.
Close to our encampment one gigantic mountain of
a conicalform towered majestically into the clouds
far above the others,* while at intervals the interest of the scene was heightened by the rumbling j
noise of a descending avalanche ; wMch, after being
detached from its bed of centuries j&ereased in
bulk in its headlong career downwards,  until it
* This is called M'Gillivray's Rock, in honour of the late
Mr. Wm, M'Gillivray, a principal director of the Company.
burst with a frightful crash, more resembling the
explosion of a magazine than the dispersion of a
mass of snow.
One of our rough-spun unsophisticated Canadians, after gazing upwards for some time in silent
wonder, exclaimed with much vehemence, "I'll
take my oath, my dear friends, that God Almighty
never made such a place!"
Sunday June 1. Set off about an hour before
day-break in deep snow; and at nine o'clock,
having arrived at its termination, we stopped to
breakfast. For the last few miles this lofty valley
widens considerably, and permits the sun to act
with greater effect, in consequence of which the
snow quickly disappears beneath its all-dissolving
influence. At eleven a. m. we reached a charming
spot of rich meadow ground called by our hunters
Vencampement dufimi, in which we found five of the
Company's horses quietly grazing. Their harness
was placed in a conspicuous situation adjoining
a large fire, the remains of which were burning at
the period of our arrival. These horses had been
sent to meet us from our establishment at the east
end of the mountains, and, from the fresh traces 192 ROCKY-MOUNTAIN   RIVER.
about the fire, we judged that the persons to whose
care they had been intrusted had only left that
morning. They proved - an acceptable relief to
our poor men, wrho quickly transferred to them
their loads; after which we resumed our journey
with great spirits, and encamped at four p. m. on
the banks of the mountain stream, which for the
last few leagues begins to assume the appearance
of an important river.
Took advantage of the refreshing coolness of the
morning of the 2nd, and advanced some miles
before sun-rise. Stopped twice during the day to
refresh the horses, and at two p. m., after passing
through a thick wood of small pine a few miles in
length, we arrived on the banks of the Rocky
Mountain river, at a particular spot called the
Traverse du Trou, where it was necessary for our
party to cross. All hands immediately set about
preparing a raft, which was^uiekly constructed.
The river at the crossing-place was between three
and four hundred yards wide, with a gentle current running smoothly about a quarter of a mile in
length, when it is broken by a broad and rather
shallow rapid.   The horses were first senl^over, RAFT   LOST.
and gained the opposite bank in safety. Four men
then embarked on the raft with part of the baggage ; but owing to their having lost bottom too
soon with their poles, the raft was carried in a few
minutes into the rapid, where it became entangled
among the rocks. The place was fortunately shallow, and they succeeded after some difficulty in
gaining the shore. The raft was lost, and we were
therefore obliged to construct another. I embarked
on it in company with Messrs. M'Gillivray and
M'Dougall, Gingras the guide, Louis, an Iroquois
Indian, and a half-breed lad named Perrault. We
took with us the remainder of the baggage. After
pushing off, we poled away with might and main,
and had crossed two-thirds, of the river, when,
oh the point of entering an eddy, which would
have brought us out of all danger, we lost bottom
with our poles, and were carried almost instantaneously into the rapid, through which we were
driven a short distance, when we were brought up
by the rocks, on which one end of the raft beeame
fast. Gingras instantly jumped over, and quickly
gained the shore. One of the men, who had
crossed over first, immediately came off to us with
a line for the purpose of trying to secure the raft
until the baggage could be transported ashore.
Having fastened one end, he returned, accompanied by Perrault, each carrying heavy bundles^
This however lightened the raft so much, that it inr
stantly swung round; the line, one end of which
was held by the Canadian, snapped in two,!and-.|
before we had time to look about us, we found
ourselves again descending the rapid. All hands
immediately jumped overboard, and seized the
raft, in the hope of stopping its progress; but the
overpowering strength of the current baffled all
our puny efforts. We might as well have attempted
to arrest the flight of an eagle, or stop a cannon,
ball in its career. M'Gillivray, Louis, and I, after
receiving some severe contusions, succeeded in
regaining the raft; but M'Dougall parted company, and having clambered up the sides of a
craggy rock, which was a few feet above the
surface of the water, remained perched on its
summit for some hours, in a most pitiable condi*
tion, from which he was not extricated until late in
the evening.
Only three of us now remained, and we had .t-ATARACT.
neither pole nor paddle, by which we couM guide
our course. We quickly cleared the rapid ; but
had scarcely time to breathe an aspiration of
thanksgiving, when we were hurried into another,
from which we again escaped harmless. On
emerging from this we were forced with inconceivable rapidity through a succession of cascades
and rapids, two miles in extent; in the course of
which, owing to our repeatedly striking on the
rocks, the timbers began to separate. A brief
space of smooth water at length appeared, and
we once more indulged a faint hopie of escape,
when a loud and roaring noise announced the imr
mediate vicinity of a cataract; The current became swifter. I looked in vain for relief to my
two companions. But neither the active mind of
my friend M'Gillivray, ever fertile in resources, nor
the long experience of the Iroquois, accustomed
from his infancy to similar scenes, could suggest
any chance of escape. The thunders of the cata*
ract now dinned in our ears ; the spray from the
boiling abyss began to envelope us; and every
«ttcceeding moment diminished the slight hopes
which had hitherto occasionally shot across our 196 NARROW   ESCAPE'.
bewildered senses. An attempt to describe my
feelings would be vain. The frightful rapidity of
the current, joined to the apprehension of instant
annihilation, banished even the recollection of
"kindred home," which, for a moment, obtruded
itself on iny imagination. With hope fled despair,
and in silent resignation we awaited our fate; but
at the moment when it appeared inevitable, the
sharp eye of M'Gillivray observed that the raft was
caught by a counter current immediately above the
fall. He had a small stick, with which he sounded,
and found the depth did not exceed three feet.
He instantly jumped overboard, followed by Louis
and myself; and with a little exertion we succeeded in dragging the raft into an eddy, free from
the influence-of the great body of water, from
whence we easily brought it to shore without the
loss of a single article! Our companions on shore,
after we had been carried out of their sight, had
abandoned all hopes of ever seeing us again, and
were therefore agreeably4 surprised at finding us
once more safe on terra jirma.
Messrs. Alexander M'Tavish, Bethune, and four
men, still remained on the western side, and in
consequence of the narrow escape which our two
first parties had, they determined not to attempt
crossing in such a dangerous spot. Having loaded
our horses, we proceeded about five miles below
the traverse, when we encamped. M'Tavish's
party passed the night on the opposite bank in a
miserable situation, being totally deprived of either
food or covering, and without means even to
make a fire.
Started early on the morning of the 3rd, and
after travelling about four miles we arrived opposite the spot where our friends had passed the
night. They had no means of joining us but by a
raft. The river was smooth ; which circumstance,
Strengthened by the irrepressible gnawings of
hunger, conquered their dislike to that mode of
crossing. Having neither axe nor line, they collected as many pieces of drift-wood as they could
find on the beach, which they bound together by
withes, after which they embarked. The raft
however had scarcely left the shore when it began
to give way, and Messrs. Bethune, M'Tavish, and
two men immediately jumped off, and regained
the land at the expense of a good ducking.    The 198 ATHABASCA   RIVER.
other two men however succeeded in crossing the
river on separate pieces, and joined us in safety.
Francois, a Creole, now volunteered to swim
over on horseback, and bring with him an axe and
some line for the purpose of making a raft lower
down. This proposition was gladly accepted, and
having taken the strongest of our five horses,
be plunged in and gained the opposite bank.
As Mr. Bethune did not like to venture a second
time at this place, we appointed to meet him at th&K
junction of the Rocky Mountain with the Athabasca river, where we hoped he would be able to
join us. We then continued our progress, and at
nine a. m. arrived at the mouth of the river, where
it joins the Athabasca; and, to our great surprise,
observed Mr. Bethune's party proceeding at a
great distance down the western bank of the river.
We hailed them, and fired several shots: but as
they paid no attention to our signals, we imagined
they were acquainted with a better place to cross
the river than that which we had pointed out.
We therefore set all hands to work to construct
rafts for our party. The Athabasca river at this
place was about four hundred yards wide; the cur-
rent strong, but free from rapids, and with the
exception of two rocks in the centre of the river,
there was no apparent danger to be apprehended.
We remained until one o'clock, making two rafts,
with poles and paddles necessary for working
them. The horses were first sent across, followed
by two men, after which we embarked five on
each raft> and pushed off. I took care not to separate from my friend M'Gillivray and the Iroquois. After poling for a few minutes we lost
bottom, and were obliged to have recourse to the
paddles, with which we worked on tolerably well
until we reached the centre of the stream, where
we found the current much more rapid than we had
anticipated. Owing to this circumstance, and the
difficulty of steering the raft, we found ourselves
carried along with great velocity towards one of
the rocks already mentioned. The danger was
imminent; for, had we come broadside against it,
we should undoubtedly have gone to pieces and
perished. We therefore exerted ourselves to the
utmost to prevent the collision, and were so far
fortunate as to escape, with merely a slight shock
from the corner of the raft touching a projecting 200 ARRIVAL   AT  THE   " OLD   FORT."
point of the rock. After this we went on smoothly;
and reached the eastern side in safety, having
drifted about a mile down the river from the place
of embarkation.
The horses were quickly loaded, and we proceeded along the banks about nine miles, when,
ascending a high hill, which commanded an extensive prospect, we observed a volume of smoke
some distance ahead. Supposing it had been made
by our lost companions, two active men were sent
to ascertain the .fact. They shortly returned,
and stated they had seen a fire on the opposite
bank of the main fiver, but no appearance of any
human being about it. We therefore conjectured
the fire had been made by Bethune's party, and
that they had continued on.
We accordingly increased our pace, in the hope
of overtaking them, and arrived late in the evening at an uninhabited house, heartily tired. This
place is called the " Old Fort," and was built
several years before as a hunting lodge for trappers;
but owing to the scarcity of provisions was subsequently abandoned: its lat. is 52° 53' 10" N.
From the junction of the two rivers to the old MOUNTAIN   PRAIRIE.
fort, the country on each side presents a pleasing
I variety of prairies, open woods, and gently rising
eminences; and one spot in particular, called
La prairie de la Vache, (in consequence of buffalo
having been formerly killed in it,) forms a landscape, that for rural beauty cannot be excelled in
any country. Some slight showers during the day.
June 4th. Early this morning we despatched two
parties in quest of Messrs. M'Tavish, Bethune,
and the men who remained with them, and at nine
o'clock they returned, bringing .them all back in
safety, but in a state of great exhaustion from
want of food, and exposure without covering to the
night air. They had advanced within four miles of
our encampment, when they perceived our men;
and the river being smooth, they constructed a raft
and crossed over in safety. Remained hereig couple
of hours to refresh the party, after which the horses
were loaded, and we proceeded for about three
miles through a handsomely diversified country,
when our progress was arrested by a bold mountain
torrent, which fell into the Athabasca. It was too
deep to ford, and we were again obliged to have 20^ SEPARATION   OF   THE   PARTY,
recourse to our old expedient of rafts in order to
cross it.
The navigation of the main river from this place
to Rocky Mountain House being free from obstructions, Mr. M'Dougall determined to proceed
thither by water; and taking four of the men with
him, they embarked on one of the rafts, and we
quickly lost sight of them. We continued on
through a handsome country with a tolerable
pathway until sun-set, when we encamped on the
border of a small rivulet which runs into the
We loaded our horses at three in the morning of |
the  5th,   and for a couple of hours were quite
shrouded in oceans of mist; but as it began to
dissipate, we had an extensive view of the surrounding scenery.
The genial influence of a June sun relieved the^
wintry perspective of snow-clad mountains, and
as it rose above their lofty summits, imparted a
golden tinge to the green savannahs, the open
woods, and the innumerable rivulets which contributed their waters to swell the Athabasca.    It HUNTING  LODGE.
j was indeed a landscape of contrarieties, scarcely
to be met with but in the Alpine regions of the
Rocky Mountains.
At eight A. m. we arrived at a hunting-lodge belonging to the Company. No person was in it;
but we found what was much more acceptable,
the body of a buffalo, which had. been recently
killed, and left for us by the hunters. It was none
of the fattest; but to such half-famished devils it
iFas an unexpected luxury. Having eaten, or
rather devoured our breakfast, and reserved sufficient for supper, we resumed progress with renovated spirits. At eleven we came to a considerable
Stream, which it was necessary to cross. It had
recently however spread over a flat bottom, and,
.forming a shallow lake of some acres in extent,
completely covered the pathway; in consequence
©f which our guide experienced much difficulty in
conducting us through it.
About a mile beyond this river we arrived at
the foot of a stupendous rock, called Le Rocker de
Miette, over which we had to pass. We commenced our task a little after eleven; and at half-
past two arrived at its base on the northern side, 204 LAKES.
where we remained an hour to refresh the horses.
The road over this rock is tolerably good, but extremely steep. The horses surmounted it with
great labour; and the knees of the majority of our
party were put to a severe test in the ascent. From
the summit we had an extensive view of the country,
the general features of which do not differ materially from the scenery through which we passed
the preceding day. A little above the southern
point of the rock we observed that the Athabasca
river opened into a lake of about three miles in
length, and two in breadth, and a few miles below
its northern extremity the river formed another
lake of nearly similar dimensions. Independently
of these, the continual accession of waters which
the Athabasca received from its tributary streams
caused it to burst its natural boundaries, and in '
many places we had to wade from one to two miles
through the flood. Encamped at sun-set, at the
head of the lower lake; and, maugre our>fatigue
from travelling " o'er mountain and through flood,"
succeeded in despatching with wonderful celerity
the remains of our buffalo.
At eight a. m. on the morning of the 6th we came. ARRIVAL AT ROCKY MOUNTAIN HOUSE.
opposite Rocky Mountain House, which is built
en the western shore of the second lake. A canoe
was immediately despatched for us, and we crossed
over. This building was a miserable concern of
rough logs, with only three apartments, but scrupulously clean inside. . An old clerk, Mr. Jasper
Hawes, was in charge, and had under his command two Canadians, two Iroquois, and three
hunters. Its lat. is 53° 18' 40" N. Mr. M'Dougall
had arrived the day before us, after leaving his raft
at the upper end of the lower lake, from whence
he and his party walked to the house.
We expected to have found a supply of provisions here, that would enable us to reach English
river; but, to our extreme disappointment, none
was to be had. Mr. Hawes informed us that the
hunters were not able to kill more animals than
were barely sufficient to support his party; but
added, that there was every probability of our obtaining a supply from Lesser Slave Lake, where
Mr. Alexander,Stewart had wintered, and whose
party we expected to join in our route to Fort
William. Remained here all day getting our
canoes into order, preparatory to our bidding fare- 206 SUPPOSED VOLCANO.
well to the Rocky Mountains. The distance from
the Columbia to this place, which we travelled on
foot, is by computation about eighty-five or ninety
miles. This took nearly ten days to accompibM|
Some of our men were greatly exhausted; but
when we take into consideration the fatigues
which they endured in ascending the Columbia*
the burdens they carried in crossing the mountain,
joined to the difficulties of the road, it must be
acknowledged that few could surpass them iii
strength, patience, or perseverance. The house
is situated near a stream called La Riviere a la
Boucdne, in consequence of some of the hunter!
who first visited this place having alleged that
they saw a volcano near its source, which emitted
great quantities of smoke. On making inquiry
from our people, I could not learn that they had
ever seen an actual eruption ; but they assert that
in the autumnal months the ground is quite hot,
and that smoke issues from it in various places!
during which period, they add, a strong sulphu_f£j|
smell pervades the atmosphere.
We saw nothing from which we could judge
whether the mountains contained any metallic I   AKIMALS OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS.       207
ores or metals, and I could not find on the banks
of the various streams any of those fine agates
which I found on the Columbia. We, however,
had no time, nor were we qualified to enter into
scientific researches; and it will not be until civir
lisation has approached a few hundred leagues
nearer these great mountains that their various
productions will be known. At present, however,
I am of opinion that they contain nothing sufficient to repayJ3. party in visiting them merely for
wentific purposes. The animals found in the
larious passes of the mountains are the buffaloes, ibex, big-horns, or mountain sheep, bears,
and sometimes a few wolves. These are too well
known to require any description here. Some of
the Upper Crees, a tribe who inhabit the country
in the vicinity of the Athabasca river, have a cu^
rious tradition with respect to animals which they
-State formerly frequented the mountains. They
allege that these animals were of frightful magnitude,
being from two to three hundred feet in length,
and high in proportion; that they formerly ferei
in the plains, a great distance to the eastward;
from which they were gradually driven by the In-
dians to the Rocky Mountains; that they destroyed
all smaller animals; and if their agility was equal
to their size, would have also destroyed all the
natives, &c. One man has asserted that his grandfather told him he saw one of those animals in a
mountain pass, where he was hunting, and that
on hearing its roar, which he compared to loud
thunder, the sight almost left his eyes, and his
heart became as small as an infant's.
Whether such an animal ever existed I shaft
leave to the curious in natural history to determine ;
but if the Indian tradition have any foundation
in truth, it may have been the mammoth, some of
whose remains have been found at various times in
the United States.
The height of the Rocky Mountains varies considerably. The table land which we crossed I
should take to be about 11,000 feet above the
level of the sea. From the immense number of
rapids we had to pass in ascending the Columbia,
and its precipitous bed above the lakes, I consider that at their base the mountains cannot be
much under 8000 feet above the level of the Pacific ; and from the valley of Canoe River to the DESCENT OF THE RIVER.
level- part of the heights of land cannot be less
than 3000 feet, but the actual altitude of their
highest summits must be much greater. They
are covered with eternal ice and snow, and will
probably be for ever inaccessible to man.
I June 7th. We were detained a considerable
portion of this day getting the canoes finished,
and at half past one p. m. we took leave of the
Melancholy hermitage of Mr. Jasper Hawes. We
had two good bark canoes and six men in each.
The lake extended about half a mile below the
house, when we entered the river, the current of
which is very strong, with here and there a few
rapids, at none- of which we were obliged to unload.
- Encamped at dusk on a small lowislarid.    Had
several smart showers during the day.
June 8th. It rained the greater part of the
night. Embarked at day-break in a thick fog,
which continued upwards of two hours. At eight
damaged our canoes in a rapid, at the foot of
which we stopped to breakfast and repair.    At
| noon passed a small river from the east called
M'Leod's Fork.   Late' in the evening passed two
VOL. ti. o
lodges of Indians, and encamped a short distance
below them. They paid us a visit, and proved to
be Crees of the Forts des Prairies department.
They brought with them a few bags of dried meat
and fruit, which they wished to barter for rum;
but as \ve had none of that cheering beverage to
give them, we tendered them our bills on the
Company, for which they would have obtained
value from any proprietor or clerk of the establishment ; at the same time explaining to them,
that we stood in great need of provisions. I Mr,
Bethune knew that they were attached to the
inj&r§6ts of our rivals the Hudson's-Bay Company,, and therefore offered them higher prices
than he would have done to those of a friendly
tribe; but it was all unavailing. They would
hear of nothing—speak of nothing—until rum was
produced; and on finding that none cjpld be obtained, those splendid specimens of savage hos?
pitaljt^s carried away Ihejr extra provisions, air
though they were informed that we had neit
enough to subsist on for a couple of days!
From Rocky Mountain House to  this place
the country on each side of the river is low, VEGETATION.
and tolerably well wooded, but a strong and
marked difference is observable in the size of
the trees on the eastern side of the mountains. Here all is dwarfish and stunted; while
on the Columbia the vegetable world is seen in
its richest and most magnificent forms — including all the varieties from a luxuriant growth of
blackberry or wild-cherry, to the stately pine,
and majestic cedar. It is difficult to account
for this difference; but if I might hazard an
opinion,1 I would attribute it to the great humidity of the climate on the Columbia. There,
westerly and south-westerly winds preva^eight
months out of the twelve, and carry with them
immense masses of clouds from the North Pacific. A great portion of these break, over the
Kgh lands on the coast; and such*: as escape
are arrested in their flight eastward by the
Rocky Mountains, and burst over their western
base. So that at the very source of the* Co*
lumbia the pine and cedar are as gigantic as
at its entrance into the ocean. 212 HUNTING- LODGE   OF   IROQUOIS,
Descent of the Athabasca River—Party disappointed in re-
'   ceiving provisions—Elk River and Lake-—Join the brigade
from Lesser Slave Lake—Arrive at He a la Crosse—Dreadful effects of the opposition between the North-West and
HudsonVBay Companies—Sketch of Mr. Peter Ogden.
Monday, June 9th. At eleven a.m. passed a
small river from the eastward, called the Pembina,I
from a profusion of berries of that name which
grow on its banks. At two p.m. stopped at a hunting-lodge of free Iroquois. The head of the family
had a letter addressed, " To the gentlemen from the
Columbia." It was eagerly broken open, and we
found it was written by Mr. Alexander Stewart,
and dated from Lesser Slave Lake, from which
place he was on the point of setting off with his , UNPLEASANT   INTELLIGENCE. 213
winter's trade of furs for Fort William. In it he
regretted his inability to assist us with any provisions, alleging as a reason, that he had a bare
sufficiency for the support of his own people outwards; but recommending that a portion of our
party should be sent to Slave Lake, where they
would find fish enough during the summer, and
be able to* set off the ensuing spring without any
fear of starvation.
. This intelligence was dreadful, the more so from
its being unexpected-; for the spring party from the
Columbia had hitherto, after crossing the mountains, invariably obtained from the people at Lesser
Slave Lake, a fresh stock of dried meat or other
food sufficient to support them to English River, or
Cumberland House. I We of course expected the
usual supply, all hopes of which were now banished by Mr. Stewart's letter.' A council was
immediately held to consider what plan we should
adopt in this emergency, when it was suggested
that M'Tavish and I should proceed forthwith
with six men to Slave Lake, and remain there
until the spring for our passage to Canada. To
me, another year in the Indian country would be 214 MENACE   AND  DEFIANCE.
an age: the idea was horrible; and I at once refused to accede to such an arrangement. M'Tavish
was equally unbending, and declared his fixed
determination to proceed. It was urged that we
had not provisions fbr three days, and that with
such a scdnty allowance, and no certainty of procuring a supply, inevitable starvation awaited us.
Finding that this gloomy picture made no impression on us, recourse was had,to threats, and it
was pretty broadly insinuated that force would be
adopted to compel obedience. Matters now became desperate; we loaded our guns, trimmed our
flints,* the hilt of the dirk became more conspicuous, and menace was answered by defiance.
The canoe-men looked okin silent amazement, but
did adot attempt to interfere ; indeed had they been
so inclined, we felt certain that those belonging
to our own canoe would not have deserted us. Our
opponents at length thought it prudent to yield to
our wishes, and a sort of .sulky reconciliation took
rjlace, after which we embarked. We had previously ascertained from the Iroquois-, that Mr.
Stewart's brigade was not more than four days
ahead ;  and as they were heavily laden with furs, DESCENT  OF  THE   ATHABASCA.
while our canoes were quite light, we determined
to strain every nerve to overtake them. The river
was broad, with a swift current, and free from
-rapids ; and we therefore continued on all night, a
-disagreeable head wind occasionally annoying us.
June 10th. The Athabasca is here a noble river,
jfiowing through a rich pasture country thinly
wooded : saw several tracks of buffalo; but while
we had the current in our favour, we did not think
it prudent to stop. The stream carried us down in
.fine style, until six p. m., when we arrived? at the
entrance of La Riviere de la Biche, (Elk River),
where we left the Athabasca, which, pursuing the
.course I have already mentioned, ultimately discharges its waters into the Arctic Ocean. For the
■-last one hundred and twenty miles its navigation
was uninterrupted by rapids, with a smooth steady
current, and the soil on each bank of the richest
description. $&§£ W%&&&::'
We now shaped our course easterly, and ascended Riviere de la Bicke about three miles,
when we encamped. The waiter was very low,
and we were dreadfully tormented with, mosqmir
toes; but our  hunters   having discovered some 216 ROUTE   CONTINUED.
fresh; tracks of buffalo, cheered our . drooping
spirits a little.
June 11th. , Rose at day-break, but could
scarcely see twenty yards ahead, from a thick
fog. Owing to the shallowness of the river, the
passengers preferred walking, in order to lighten
the canoes. Made half a breakfast of our dried
pemmican, of which we had not now enough for
dinner. At ten a. m. the river became wider and
deeper, which enabled us to embark and resume the
paddles. At eleven passed a small stream called
Auger's River : and about two p. m. came up to a
recent encampment of the Slave Lake brigade, the
fires of which were still burning. Here we also
found some pieces of buffalo meat, which those
gentry did not think fat enough to carry, but
which proved very grateful to our poor fellows.
At eight passed the river Pinette, and encamped at
dusk. The land on each side was very low, and
thinly wooded with small pine and poplar. In
some parts we observed patches of prairie ground
of two or three miles in extent. Saw one buffalo,
about three in the evening, but missed him.
June 12th.    We had.good' deep water for pad- FORTUNATE   RENCONTRE.
dling, from day-break until six a. m., when the
river for about four miles spread over a stony
bottom, which obliged us to land, while the men
worked up with the lines and poles. It then became
narrower and deeper, and continued so for several
miles, until eleven a.m., when it entered Lac
de la Biche, which we crossed in three hours with
calm weather. As we approached the eastern
shore, we.observed smoke issuing from a small
cove, and immediately. after the white canvass of
a tent met our delighted eyes. A few minutes
more brought us to land, when we had the inex^
pressible pleasure of meeting Mr. Alexander
Stewart, and the Slave Lake brigade, consisting of
eight canoes, and about forty-five men. This was
a fortunate circumstance. We had not eaten a
mouthful that day, up to two o'clock, with starvation staring us in the face, no natives on our
route, and our chance of killing animals more than
doubtful., We now however recompensed ourselves for all these uncertainties and apprehensions, .by a plentiful repast of roast buffalo and
This lake, from the time we took to traverse it> 218       NATURE OF THE COUNTRY.
I should suppose to be about thirty miles in
circumference. It is nearly circular, and abound-!
in white-fish. The surrounding country is extremely low, without any rising ground in sight;
and on the western side the land is quite marshy!
The shores are tolerably wooded, principally with
fane, birch, and poplar.
i   During the night a number of the men were employed on the lake catching fish by torch-light,  I
and were rather successful.
June 13th. About three miles to the eastwara
of our encampment lies a small lake, called by the
Canadians Le Petit Lac de Biche. The ~ country
Jaetweeh the two lakes forms the height of land
which divides the waters that fall into the Arctic
Ocean from the eastward, from those which fall
into Hudson's Bay from the westward. Mr. Stewart's men had commenced this portage yesterday,
and it took us the greater part of this day to finish
it;_ which will not appear extraordinary, when it
is considered that ten large canoes, and between
two and three hundred packs of beaver, each
weighing upwards of ninety pounds, had to be
carried three miles through a swampy marsh, full TEDIOUS  NAVIGATION.
of underwood, during the greater part of which
time it rained heavily. Encamped at four p. m.
on the shore of the little lake which we had previously crossed, and which was not more than half
a mile in breadth.
June 14th. It continued raining the greater
part of the night. Commenced another portage
this mojrning, of two hundred and fifty paces in
length, which brought us to a small stream called
Little Beaver River, into which we threw the
eanoes. There was not sufficient water to float
them when loaded, in consequence of which we
had to construct dams at intervals of four or five
Ihundred paces.. This was both a tedious and
laborious work; and we encamped at six p. m.,
|i&vii*g advanced Only five miles since morning.
Some of the men were sent ahead, to make tore
•dams. The passengers walked during the day,
an4 our hunters killed one fat moose deer. The
Country p thinly wooded and marshy, and full of
wild onions and a species of plant which .served
fas an excellent substitute for cabbage-
June 15th.    It rained hard all night, and the
greater part of this forenoon, owing to which we 220 SUCCESS   IN   HUNTING,
did not start until twelve o'clock, and, being obliged to continue the damming system all day, our-
progress wras of course extremely tedious. Passed'
several handsome prairies, and observed in many
places along the banks of the little" river marks of
beaver cuttings. Birch, pine, and poplar, form
the principal timber here. Made a small portage,
and encamped at seven p. m. Our hunter killed
another prime moose.
June 16th. Set off at three a. m., still in the
dams. At seven made a short portage, at the end
of which we stopped to breakfast and repair the
canoes, which had been greatly shattered by their
ditch navigation. About one p. m. we had a sufficient body of water to admit of our embarking,
and we proceeded with a tolerably smooth current
until half past four, when we encamped, having
overtaken our hunters, who had killed a fat bull-
buffalo, and two beavers, on which we made an
excellent dinner. The country was not so well
wooded as yesterday. We had cloudy, and occasionally rainy weather, which for the season was
also rather chilly.
June 17th.    Embarked at half past three a. m PICTURESQUE   SCENERY. 221
Made several portages on account of rapids and
shoals. : Our progress was therefore slow. Killed
a buck-moose in good condition. On shore the
greater part of the day. It consisted principally
of rich meadow land, with clusters of birch and
poplar scattered here and there along the banks
; of the river.    Encamped at six p. m.  .^
June 18th^ Set off at four, and had a pretty
smooth steady current all day.    The country now
r assumes a more picturesque appearance, rather
thickly wooded, and the banks of the river more
bold and hilly. The rapidity of our progress
brought us considerably in advance of the hunters,
and at three p. m. we put ashore to wait for them.
The place at which we stopped was called La
JolieButte, by way of pre-eminence, from the varied
and handsome landscape by which it was surrounded. The hunters joined us at six, after
which we continued on, and encamped at eight
p. m. in sight of Moose Portage. Only three
beavers were killed this day.
June 19th. Sent the hunters off ahead at daybreak, and at half past five commenced Moose
Portage, which we passed in less than twTo hours.
Here we found, fixed on poles in a conspicuous
part of the portage, some letters from the gentlemen stationed at Forts des Prairies, containing
satisfactory news. From their date Hfe conjectured that the messengers who brought them
must have been very recently at the portage*
At nine a. m. joined the hunters, who had ju&jj
returned from a long chase to the northward, in
the course of which they only killed one bull and
one moose: and as we stood in great need of a
supply, we were obliged to stop here the >i4M
mainder of the day, to give the meat-men time to
bring in the bodies of those animals. The hunters,
however, started off ahead.
June 20th. The meat-men did not return
until nine this morning, when we embarked; but
at eleven the hunters' signal drew us to shore,,
and the meat-men were despatched. They re*
mained away six hours, and returned at five p. m
loaded * with the carcases of an immensely sized
bull, and a huge grizzly bear. Encamped at
eight, at the Portage du Lac Froid, a small lake,
the water of which some of our people imagine is
colder than that of Beaver River, and, in-order to HALT  AND   EXCURSION.
account for this extra frigidity, it is supposed that
it is fed from the bottom by springs of a peculiar
nature, I tasted it; but whether it was 05_fj_a§£
to the heat of the weather, or to a vitiated palate,
I must candidly confess, that I could not discover
any perceptible difference in its temperature.
, The country through which we passed for.
the last few days is highly diversified with hill and
dale, meadow-ground and timber, and has many
charming spots for building. MMl
I June 21st. Set off at four a.m., and drove
down the current in fine style until two p. m.,
:|Fchen we came up with our hunters. They had
just returned after a long and fatiguing pursuit of
a herd of buffaloes, three of which they killed*
besides five th«y wounded, but which made their
escape. Encamped here, and sent off a party for
the meat A ridge of pretty high hills thickly
wooded runs parallel with the course of the river
feom Lac Froid to this place. M'Tavish and I
took a stroll inland in the track of the hunters;
and had not proceeded more th^n^t mile when we
observed several buffaloes grazing. I instantly
fired, and hit one under the left shoulder.   The 224 *    BUFFALO   KILLED.
remainder/fled ; but the wounded animal, bellowing in a frightful manner, with rage and fury
flashing from his rolling eyes, charged on us.
We retreated behind the cover of a tree, from
whence M'Tavish took a steady aim, and lodged
a ball in his head directly over the right eye. He
instantly fell, and we cautiously approached him,
but took care to plant a couple more bullets
about his head, before we came within arm's-
length, m^
'...■ June 22d. The .meatmen did not return until
half past ten this morning, when we set off, but
were obliged to stop from twelve to three for
another buffalo which our hunters had killed.
Encamped at eight p. m. in a handsome prairie on
the north side. Observed recent marks of buffalo
and moose, and numerous beaver cuttings..
June 23d. Embarked at half past three a. M;
Stopped hour for a moose which was
killed about half a mile inland. The river for the
two last days had no rapid of. any consequeHm|
and.the weather was very warm. A little after
eight p. m. observed a small leather hut on the
.north. side,   in   which  .we   found,  three   free DISAGREEABLE   NEWS. 225
trappers, who had been formerly engagks of the
North-West Company; but who, after the expiration of their engagement, preferred the wild
and wandering life of a trapper, to remaining in
the Company's service, or returning to Canada.
We encamped a little below their hut, and they
visited us after supper. Their news was by no
means of an agreeable nature. They informed us,
that they had learned from some natives that a
party of the Cree Indians from Forts des Prairies,
urged by large promises of reward from the
Hudson's-Bay Company, had gone on a war
expedition to destroy our establishment at lie h la
Crosse and all its inmates; adding, that whether
successful or not, it was more than probable we
might meet this party en route. ^M
As this intelligence was quite unexpected, and
as we were badly prepared tofjjncounter a war
party of savages, Mr. StewafSMrho had now the
command, ordered the hunters not to advance
more than a mUe ahead, and, in case they observed
any appearance of natives, to return immediately
to the main brigade. la the mean time our firearms were put in order, and the men, the greater
VOL.  II. p 226 NAfJJgl  OF   THE   COJPTRY.
part ,§f.^Lpm had no weapons save £&eir knives,
were ordered to furnigji t|.f|msg}gg£ with clubs.
W§ t^gn f^^red to rest, leayi^ five ser^i^ejs and
an $fj|ger on guard, to be reeved every tytq
June 24th. Set off at hajf-pas.t three, A.$f.
At haifT^^t |^)3 p. m., passed Jiac Vert, a small
hfce so called from the greenish tinge of its water.
;P$pampe4 at half-pas.t seven at the entrance of a
small river called \& Poule d'Eau. The gountry
these two days is t^l^^poded, and very flat.—
In many places the fiver had overflowed its banks.
S aw no animals.
June 25th. Embarked at half-past three.—
Shopped from §|gven to tyg^ to repair the canoes,
and dry some of j j^e beaver wljich had been
flightly damaged from leaj^s. Tfhe country through
which Wfe fussed jhjs day was quite flat anjl
marshy, occasioned by the inundations in times of
Jfcjgh w&l;er' Encamped at d]$ska at the entrance of
a small river cajjefi La Plonge.
June gfith.   B§siv£j? I|iver at this jfepe br^nej_^|e;-
into several channels. , We took the principal one,
and at  e}e>Ten A.|i. wi^jit its termination ARRIVAL  AT  THE   FORT.
where it enters the lake of He d la Crosse, nearly
opposite the fort. Stoppjed here for- half-an-hour
fouv se faire la barbe, and make other little
arrangements connected \sith -the toilet. These
being completed, we embarked, but having the
fear of the Crees before our eyes, our progress
was slow and cautious across, the lake, until our
avant-couriers announced to us that the flag of the
North-West floated from the bastions, and that
all was safe. The Chanson a Vaviron was instancy
struck up, and at one p.m. we reached the wharf*
where we were met. by Messrs. J\|'Murray and
Ogden, who were in charge of the fort. Those
gentlemen had also heard the rumoured intention
of the Crees to attack the establishment, but they
were of opinion that the attempt would not be
made. They had only eight men under their
command; but the place was surrounded by
strong palisades, and flanked by two bastions,
which, although not very beautiful specimens of
fortification, would have, puzzled a battalion of
Indians to take. The Hudson's-Bay Company
had a fort on a point of land running into the lake,
mhkch was not more than a quarter of a mile 228 COMMERCIAL WARFARE.
distant from our establishment. It had been
taken the preceding winter by the North-West
Company, and at the period of our arrival there
were about twenty (men) prisoners in it, and
upwards of one hundred and twenty women and
children, besides dogs innumerable. They were
miserably supplied with provisions, and all seemed
dejected and emaciated. Their principal reliance
for food was on the lake; and when the fish failed,
their chief support was tripe de rocker. I conversed with some of the men. They were from
the Orkneys, and wished they were safe home
again. They spoke in no flattering terms of the
treatment they received from their captors; but
admitted that such of the North-Westers as had
been made prisoners by their party fared no
It will undoubtedly sound odd in the ears of
British readers, to hear of forts attacked and
prisoners taken by commercial companies, natives
of the same country, and subjects of the same
king. To account for this it will be necessary to
take a short retrospect, in order to explain the
causes that led to a state of things which was RIVAL  COMPANIES.
ultimately productive of so many disastrous and
melancholy consequences.
The opposition between the Hudson's-Bay and
the North-West Companies was for many years
carried on without any violent breach of the peace
on either side. As I have observed in the introduction, the indolent habits of the persons belonging to the former, unstimulated by any hope of
extra reward or prospective promotion, gave to
the North-West Company powerful advantages,
of which they did not fail to avail themselves;
and while their enterprising agents explored the
most remote parts of the continent for the extension of their trade, their chartered opponents,
with a Dutch-like kind of apathy, quietly confined
themselves to their ancient territory.
Both parties were thus situated, when the late
Earl of Selkirk conceived the idea of establishing
a Colony of Scotch and Irish on the Red River,
which falls into Lake Winepic. The soil was fertile, the climate temperate, and, Were it not for its
great distance from civilization, was admirably
calculated for a new settlement. It was/however,
the great dep6t of the North-West Company for 230 COLONIAL  HARDSHIPS.
knakiilg pemmican, the principal article of food
used by their canoe-men in voyaging. If the colony
succeeded, it would gradually cut off the buffalo,
from which the pemmican is made, and ultimately
oblige the Company to import from Canada, at
an enormous expense, a great portion of the provisions necessary for their travelling parties.    It
may therefore be supposed, that the settlers were
not regarded with the most friendly feelings; and
every obstacle short of actual violence was thrown
in the way of their location.    Their first year was
one of incredible hardships, arising from their ignorance of the country and its productions, a«4|
the   total   failure   of their   provisions;   whffcW
joined to the various modes of annoyance practice™
by the North-West Company, induced the grea^M
part to aVail themselves of an offer made by
members of that co&derh to transport them gratuitously to Canada in their canoes.
The want of success in his first attempt at colonization being, in a great degree, caused by tfj£:
opposition  of  the   North-West Compd&y, %£&$>;-
Selkirk determined to adopt retaliatory measures |
and for this purpose purchased a nuiSlhfcr of shares OVERTURES  AND  INTRIGUES.
in the Hudson's-Bay Cdilipali^ of whieB he became dift Sbf-hfe director. His Lordffif|) Msr Well
aware that several clerks, who had b^eft hiafi^
years in the service of the rival Compa'ftjfc- W&fe -
W_^bMel[led at not having been sooner profhbted
to the proprietor^, afid that Ifie eliirfis of IS§
old alid faithful were too often passed over,
while young fa¥eurites of comp&^tively little
expefieifce Were plkcSd  above thehii     It   was
Ip-eVefbfe &ii impiftant object \vitH fiifti td ilt-
j|P8& as many a§ ^ds^ible of thosi so diss%$i_I*
fied to JBlil if§ p$ftf By tt_e" &*_feT of Mrfe Mtaffe1_£
gniich sBV^ra; at the expiration of their* Vaf w&§
engagehtehts with the Sforth-West C6mj^fyi
The ifiost active of these genHemen W&§ mfi
|f26lin R6betls6h, an enterpffeff-|f tfa&e*r Wft§'BM
often Vferittifed MM life, both &l_lrJHg Indians. §fid
White-ttfeii t6 a&vahce the iiitefe§f_J of life et^tfe
blishment.    Having a perfect knowledge m $&
SjpSttiness of the interim Loir® Bellifk entrusted
fiitii With lt_* chief managet-ieiit; and as he knew
ftdtti experience the g^eat supef fflittf of the Cahl-
dian voyageurs over  the   0$riiejf  meh,   in the
management of canoes, &c, he engaged a number:
of them at Montreal at a much higher rate of wages
than had been previously paid by the North-West
The opposition between the rival parties now
assumed a new and more marked character, and
the invigorating spirit which had been infused into
the hitherto cautious councils of the Hudson's Bay,
by the daring policy of Mr. Robertson, soon became manifest. He knew the strong holds and the
weak points of his opponents, and being of opinion that much depended on the first impression
made on the Indians, he at once determined to
push for Athabasca, the great northern department of the North-West, and the most productive
in beaver. No rival trader had ever before
ventured to encroach on Athabasca, and this
unexpected invasion was deemed the ne pit®
ultra of audacity, the seizure of the bull by
the horns.
Mr. Robertson was successful in his first expedition. The high prices he offered for their furs
seduced the natives from their allegiance to their
old masters, and hundreds came crowding to his RIVAL  TRADERS.
standard. In other parts of the interior the
struggle was more obstinate, and the North-
Westers, to secure the wavering loyalty of the
Indians, were compelled to keep pace with the
advanced prices of their opponents.
A reinforcement of settlers having in the mean
time arrived at Hudson's Bay, they were despatched to the Red River, where they built a
strong fort, and began to re-establish the colony.
Several of the natives joined them, and the influence of the North-West became sensibly diminished in that quarter.
Thus far Lord Selkirk's plan of operations for
the year 1814-15 succeeded beyond his expectations ; arid great preparations were made by him
for opening the ensuing campaign on a much more
extended scale. The exertions of the North-
Westers were equally vigorous. Double the usual
quantity of trading goods was sent to the interior,
the men's wages were raised, and several clerks
were elected proprietors. The orders to both
f&rties were, to secure as much provisions and furs
as they could collect, coute qui coute.
Mr. Clarke, lately of the Pacific Fur Company, .484 COMMERCIAL   WARFARE.
oli his arrival in Cariadafrom the Columbia ft$§£
eMjfaged by Lord S^ll#kf and proceeded with a
strong force to Athabasca, in Which depaftaieiif 5
he had spefitt many years while fel the service5 0? i
the North-West, duriiig Which period he was tt
gi^at favotiHte with 1_lie Chepweyaw.
It is fiot rfey intention hoWe^vMr to give a de*t§#|
of the various quarrels* the j^ri-fon^i*-. made, the
fdf§§ supplied; bit the lfef_l of MiHed and wounded*
on each side; b3§ irofti %fee following extracts of
Ml^#s, which. I receive**! feefbre quilfeig the
Columbia, it will be seen tk&t the Hudson's-Bay
ffe^jlf^ H§fl "fh§ jrrgfijfet _fM^islfe&'>'&
" Wett Wittia&j 28th July; 1816*
" Ydu already know the strong opposition thai
cafrie into thg country, the gie&test part of whiefc j
went to Athabasca, and Slave Lake. You must
also have heard of their success at the former
placei Having been obliged from starvation to give
theihselves u.p to th§ North*.West j althoug^i your
old friend* swore he would rather die than Come
under any obligations to our p&pfle. He tost
seventeen men by faftiffte. At Slave I&l&Ui&y
were more successful; but at the diH&feW establishments they had in other gslrts of th&eWflfci^
they lost thirteen moi'e5 by staffefion. Last June
they received a mortal blow ffbfii the Co_l§acfe#
of Red River; of which Affair? as I was oft the Ig&t
a few days aftef^ I shall giW-^jftfif fc det^l^'^P|l
Pf^Btlrse know that fWo of our forts wete ^fehj
and all the property ; and that Captain Caiheron-f
was made pH§oner. The fbftfc iMfer^Wfesequehtly
burnetii .
''Mr. A. M'Donell, Wfl& $$$k steoifed at
Quappelle riVer, held his fort in deflate of theMi
He was threatened with destruction if he made
any attelhpt to prass downward. His opponent
however started with 3i&^___t$§/ snd retufilg of furs
and pr^lMbns; of the latter he had about three
hundred taureaux (pe#_$8lf&ns) well guided * as
* A nom de guerre given by the writer to tHe sd^_sofWJ_ute
men by Ifidian wites. They are also called &ois BrW&,^A-
but why, it is difficult to determine.
f This gentleman was a proprietor of the North-West Com-
they thought, but those blackguard Brutes (I know
not for what cause) fell in with them, took them
all prisoners, and carried the property to Mr.
M'Donell. No blood was shed on this occasion.
Some time after Mr. M'Donell being anxious for
the arrival of the gentlemen from the northward,
sent a party of five Canadians with two carts
loaded with provisions for us, by land; and the
above blackguards took upon themselves to accompany them, to the number of fifty. On passing
by the colony, at the distance of two miles, they
were stopped by the governor and twenty-six men
^ell armed. The Brutes were at that time but
thirteen, including the Canadians. A few words
arose between the governor and one of our men.
The former ordered his men to fire, when two
only, with much reluctance, obeyed. The fire was
immediately returned by the Brulis, when seven
pastantly fell. A retreat was begun by the
Hudson's-Bay people; but out of twenty-six, only
four escaped,. Officers killed, Governor Semple,
Messrs M'Lean, Rogers, Holt, Wilkinson, and
Doctor White, A Mr. Burke, who commanded
their artillery, was wounded, and is now a pri- COMMERCIAL  WARFARE.
soner here with three others. The Brule's had
only one man killed, and one wounded. They
took the fort, with a great quantity of arms and
ammunition, and have sworn vengeance against
every description of Hudson's-Bay men. Even
the Indians attached to the interests of the latter,
were obliged to come under the banners of the
BrulSs. They were commanded by six officers,
some of whom you know.* This happened on
the 19th of June, and we arrived on the 23rd.   ,
i Lord Selkirk is coming up in person with a
strong force, expecting, no doubt, to carry every
thing before him. His body-guard was taken
from him before leaving Montreal, as the regiment
was disbanded. He has however hired some of
them on his own account. We expect him daily.
His friend Miles M'Donell with two canoes
went in almost to Bas de la Riviere ; but on learning from the Indians the above intelligence, he
* The leader of this party, Mr. Alexander Fraser, is the
same individual who lost his life at the commencement of the
year 1829 in Paris, in a quarrel with a Mr. Warren, who was
subsequently tried for the oflence, and sentenced to eighteen
months imprisonment. Mr. Fraser was wholly blameless in
the unfortunate affair, which ended in his death. 238 CO&IJfgRCIAL   WARFARE.
t^ojight proper to change his course, and imme-
4^to_ly returned to wait his Lordship^s orders*
Five of |he?r canoes are stugk fast near this place,
one further on, and three have returned to the Saufy
in a state of mutiny. By this you may see what;
his Lordship's prospects may be."
" Fort William, 3Qth July, 182G.
" My dear Cox,
" Times have much altererd since I have been
on this side the mountains. The habits of indolence which I acquired on the banks of the Column
bia, render every thing on this busy bustling scene
rather disagreeable ; and, to add to my vexation;
notwithstanding my long services, and my exertions to avoid it, I have been appointed to winter
in a most villanous starving post, with a strong
force of the Hudson's Bay to oppose me.
" Mr. Clarke was remarkably unfortunate in his,
Athabasca expedition.    He lost numbers  of his
people from starvation; and  in order to save the
remainder he was forced to capitulate, surrender
his fort, and the whole of his property.
" At Red River, during the winter,  the Hud- C0M.lfg$LQ?Af.  WARFARE. 239
son's Bay drove all before tj&fg. They took several
j||pur forts* and made a. j|r%)|ver of one o| our proprietors (Mr. Cameron,) whom they sent to the
Bay, to be from thenj[£ transmitted for trial to
England. They met however a severe felpwin the
goring. Thpy attacked a party of h^lf-^r§eds, and
^gre def^e-d with the lo§§ of twenty-five mjftij
including three pacers. Their forts and provisions
fell into our hands, their men were made prisoners,
£nd ttyg^ghple of their (Colonists an4 traders ^fev§
driven out of the Re$ River.
| We a_re daily expecting Lord Selkirk with a
force pf two hundred men from Montreal, but he
will be undoubtedly forced to retreat fooj_§ yyant pf
l^iffisions. He is yet ignorant of the disasters
that have befgileja ht&fevQurite Colony. What the
^.spllwiJJ b$rlsi_^ jtest detei^aine."
The writers of those letters were two of the
most moderate men in pjur Company; but from the
apathy they evince in speaking pf the ruthless
massacre of the unfortunate settlers* the esprit de
corps which aninjaf^jl the fighting members may
teCAPJuatmed.    In fact the infernal spirit of ri- 240 COMMERCIAL  WARFARE.
valry had attained such a height, that the mildest
and the bravest of both parties became in turn the
most reckless desperadoes. Force was the only
tribunal to which they appealed, and arms their
only arguments.
The peace with the United States had thrown
idle in Canada a number of soldiers whose regiments had been disbanded. Among those was
de Meuron's regiment, upwards of two hundred
of which were engaged by Lord Selkirk, as a
corps d?observation, to awe the North-Westers. On
hearing however of the fate of the Colonists at
Red River, he did not think it prudent to venture
beyond Fort William, and immediately returned?
to the seat of government in Canada. A number
of the most influential members of the rival Companies had been the year before appointed magis*
trates for the Indian territory; and owing to the
representations of his Lordship, as to the manner
in which his Majesty's subjects were murdering
each other with impunity, the Governor-General
issued a proclamation, commanding the immediate
arrest of all persons concerned in the recent outrages and threatening with the severest punishment
all future breaches of the peace.* His Excellency
also appointed Messrs. Coltman and Fletcher, two
gentlemen of the highest respectability, and unconnected with either Company, as commissioners
to proceed forthwith to the Indian country, for the
purpose of investigating into the origin of the outrages, and to order the arrest of all persons implicated, with a view to their being transmitted
to Canada for trial. It was however rather late
in the season to proceed to the interior, and
their departure was therefore delayed until the
spring of 1817.
In the mean time, the war was carried on with
unabated vigour during the winter of 1816-17.
One partner, one clerk, and a few men belonging
to the North-Westers, were captured by the
Hudson's-Bay people ; but the latter were generally defeated. Several of their officers and
numbers of their men were made prisoners; and
some of their forts were obliged to capitulate on
unconditional terms.
* This document was forwarded by express to the interior,
and treated with sovereign contempt by the majority of those
to whom it was addressed.
VOL.   II.
The spirit of ruinous competition! had at this
period gained such a height, that the prices given
to the Indians for their furs, after deducting the
expenses of carriage and other contingent charges,
far exceeded their value to the Company. Their
profits became sensibly diminished, and the persons who derived the greatest benefits froift
the opposition were the clerks and other employes.
Such Was the situation of affairs when we
arrived at He a la Crosse. As I have already
mentioned, the Hudson's-Bay establishment at
this place had been captured the preceding winter
by the North-West, and the officer in charge
Bent forward to join some more of his companions
in captivity.
We remained a couple of days at the fort w
refresh the men, and were hospitably entertained
by our hosts, on excellent white fish, and tea
without sugar. One of those gentlemen, Mr.
Peter Ogden, was nearly related to a high judicial
functionary, and in early life was destined for the
same profession. The study of provincial jurisprudence, and the seignorial subdivisions of Cana*- MIGHT  AND   Rlgfl&t
dian property, had no charms for the mercurial
temperament of Mr. Ogden; and, contrary to the
wishes of his friends, he preferred the wild and
untrammelled life of an Indian trader, to the
I law's delay," and the wholesome restraints
which are provided for the correction of over-
exuberant spirits in civilised society. His accounts
of his various rencontres with Orkney men and
Indians would have filled a moderate-sized octavo,
.fed if reduced to writing would undoubtedly
stagger the credulity of any person unacquainted
with the Indian country; and although some of
his statements were slightly tinctured with the
prevalent failing of La Guienne, there was vraisem-
blance enough throughout to command our belief
in their general accuracy. In a country, however,
in which there is no legal tribunal to appeal to,
and into which the " King's writ does not run,"
many acts must be committed that would not
stand a strict investigation in Banco Regis. " My
legal primer," said Ogden, " says that necessity
has no law;" and in this place, where the custom
of the country, or as lawyers say, the Lex non 244
scripta is our only guide, we must, in our acts of
summary legislation, sometimes perform the parts
of judge, jury, sheriff, hangman, gallows and
English river—Pass numerous lakes and rapids-—Arrive at
Cumberland House—Saskachawaine river—Lake Winepic
—Aurora Boreal is—River Winepic—Meet various parties
—Rainy Lake and Fort—Death of an Indian.
Sunday, June 29th. At half-past eleven a. m.
this day we bid adieu to the humorous, honest,
eccentric, law-defying Peter Ogden, the terror
of Indians, and the delight of all gay fellows.
It blew pretty fresh during the day, which
obliged us to keep our square-sail closely reefed.
We generally kept from two to six miles from
shore, and occasionally shipped a good deal of
water. Encamped at eight p. m. at the extremity
of the lake. It is computed to be eighteen leagues
in length, and from three to five in breadth, and
is indented by a number of deep bays, the shores Em
of which were at times scarcely visible with the
naked eye. A few islands are scattered over it,
on which we observed immense numbers of pelicans.
June 30th. Embarked at three a.m. At five,
passed the Portage Sonnant, which was followed
by several bad rapids, through which we ran without unloading, i At six, passed Caribceuf river, celebrated for its excellent fish, and at eight passed
the Portage de la Puisse, where we stopped to
breakfast and repair the canoes. At half-past
two, passed the Portage des Anglais; and at six
crossed Knee Lake, a pretty large body of water.
Encamped at eight, at La Riviere Creche: charming weather all day.
July 1st, 1817. Embarked at three a. m. and
at four overtook the loaded canoes, which we
passed* Glossed Lac du Sable w$tb a stiff breeze,
and shot down Les Rapides des Serpens, with^
out unloading. This brought us into Lac des
Serpens, which we crossed with a fair wind at
half past ten, and immediately after entered Lac
des Souris ; at the end of which we breakfasted.
Continued on at noon with a fine breeze across STRAITENED   SUPPLIES. 247
Lac des Epingles, and at half-past two passed the
portage at its termination. At three passed the
Portage des Bouleaux, at which we only took out
half the loading; and at four passed another
portage, called Le Canot Cass6. Shortly after
crossed Le Lac d'Huile d'Ours with a fair wind,
and encamped at six, a little below Le Rapide
qui ne parle point. Four lodges of the Che-
pewyan Indians were near our encampment, from
whom we purchased a small quantity of meat.
We also caught nine excellent pike. It rained
JjQecasionally during the evening. Saw three moose
and five bears, but could not get a shot at them.
July 2nd. On examining our nets this morning
we found only six pike, a miserable supply for so
many people. Set off at three a.m. with a fair
wind, and had tolerably good navigation until
eight, when we arrived at the Portage des Halliers,
a% the southern end of which we breakfasted. At
one passed the Portage de Traite; at two, that of
the Petit Rocher, and at three, a demi-portage
called Les Ecors, where the lading only was
carried. Encamped at five, at La Riviere des
Cotes, where we expected to make a good haul 248 dangerous rapids.
with our nets. We caught ten pike during the
day at the different portages. Saw. two large
bears, but could not hit them. Weather very
July 3rd. Our nets this morning produced
thirty white-fish, pike, pickerel, and carp. Embarked at three a.m. and crossed Le Lac du
Diable with a fair breeze. At six finished the
Portage du Diable On the left side. The road is
long, crooked, and narrow; which accounts, I
should suppose, for the name given by the Canadians to the portage. A small lake next followed,
which brought us to a chain of short ugly rapids
called Les Petits Diables, down which we shot
without unloading, but damaged the canoes considerably. At the end of the last " Little Devil,"
we were obliged to unload* the trading packages,
&c. At this place the water forces its way through
three small straits into a lake about five miles
long, which is terminated by Le Rapide de l'Outre,
at the end of which we breakfasted. At ten
renewed our progress, and entered Le Lac de
l'Outre, which brought us to a portage called Le
Petit Rocher de la Montagne, which we finished 249
at half past twelve. At two made the Portage
de la Montagne. The distance between the two
portages does not exceed half a mile, and they
derive their name from high rocky eminences in
the vicinity. Encamped at five, at the south end
of Le Lac de la Queue Depouillee ; where we set
our nets. Passed some fine rising grounds during
the day,- well stocked with spruce, poplar, birch,
cypress, and willow. Near the water's edge, we
observed quantities of wild gooseberry, currant,
strawberry, blueberry, &c.
July 4th. Caught only twenty carp, pike, and
white-fish. Started at three. At five arrived at
the entrance of Riviere au Rapide, where there are
a couple of small houses for the rendezvous of the
people belonging to Lac la Ronge, a trading establishment situated about six leagues from this
place. As this was esteemed a capital fishing
spot, we sent on the loaded canoes, and remained
ourselves here the remainder of the day, to recruit
our stock of provisions. Weather very sultry all
July 5th. Caught only thirty fish, seventeen of
vhich were speared. _ Embarked at three, and in 250
• half an hour afterwards made the portage of La
Riviere au Rapide, which is very short. This
brought us into a handsome lake, and at six made
the Portage de l'lle, over a small island, by which
a eir&iitous passage by the river is considerably
shortened. After re-embarking We passed through,
another lake interspersed with islands, which
brought us to a narrow rapid channel, through
which we passed until we arrived at Portage de
Barril at eight o'clock, where we overtook th©,
loaded canoes. They had only caught fish enough
for breakfast. After quitting this place we entered
another lake a few miles in extent, in the centre
of which was a very bad rapid. At nine arrived
at another portage called Le grand Rapide du Fort
de Traite. It is the longest carrying place on
English River. Here we breakfasted and repaired
the canoes. Caught also eight good pike. Pro*?
ceeded on at eleven, and crossed Le Lac du Fori
deTraite_:hx three hours and a half, with rather 1
head wind the greater part of the way.
At three passed the Portage du Fort de Trake^
which is rather long. Here took leave of the
English River, which,.taking the name of Churchill, ROUTE   CONTINUED. 2Sfc
turns down to Hudson's Bay. During the six
days thai we were sailing down this river,  we
Jessed sixteen lakes, and passed upwards of ttoffcy
sapids, at sixteen of which we were obliged to
make portages.
, A little after three p. m. entered a small river
with an imperceptible current, in which we had not
proceeded more than half a mile, when it widened
considerably^ and presented to our view an extensive prospect of fine flat country, bounded at a
great distance by well-wooded hills. A little
further on, the channel again became quite contracted, and more difficult to navigate, owing to
several small islands interrupting the course of the
current. At one detroit, we were obliged to unload
and carry the goods some distance. This brought
us to a lake which we crossed at half past four,
and on the shores of which we encamped, for the
purpose of trying to procure a supper of fish.
Killed too hares, a pair of ducks, and a brace of
partridges during the day, which we boiled with
tfipe du rocker, a species of nutritive moss growing
K|ithe rocks and which made excellent soup.
July 6th.   Embarked at three,    Our nets only $££■
produced four fish this morning. Entered Lac du
Bois at half past three, and crossed it in five
hours. It is a fine body of water, surrounded by
a champaign country, tolerably well wooded. At
the end of the lake made three small portages,
close to each other, and about two miles lower
down made half a portage called Le Decharge
au Lac du Bois, all which we completed at half
past ten a. m. Mr. Stewart's canoe and mine
remained here the rest of the day to fish; one
only of the loaded canoes joined us. Dined and
supped chiefly on tripe de rocker.
July 7th. We caught during the night, with
the net, lines, and spears, fifty well-assorted fish,
which gave a tolerable meal to our half-starved
hard-working men. Set off at the usual hour. At
seven crossed Pelican Lake, at which we stopped to
breakfast.    Here also we caught a few carp.
Proceeded on at nine, and shortly after arrived
at the head of Lac Miron, where we remained till
noon wind-bound. The weather having moderated
a little, we embarked about a quarter past twelve,
but had not reached more than the centre of the
lake when we were overtaken by a storm of thun- DANGEROUS   NAVIGATION.
der, and heavy rain, accompanied by dreadful
squalls from every quarter of the compass. To
return was impossible, and we continued occasionally shipping large quantities of waterr and
momentarily expecting to be upset by the violence
of the storm. We crossed, however, in safety; and
at four, encamped at the Portage d'Epinettes, for
the purpose of drying ourselves, and spreading the
nets. The weather continued rainy and squally
during the night.
July 8th. This morning only produced five
pike for the two canoes. Started at half-past three.
At four, made the short Portage de l'lle; and at
half past seven passed the Portage des Bouleaux
dans la Riviere Creuse. It was long and slippery
owing to the recent rains. Shortly below it, ran
down a dangerous rapid, called la Carpe, without
unloading, and were near perishing from the intricacy of the channel. At nine, made the Portage
de la Carpe, at the end of which we breakfasted,
repaired the canoes, and caught twenty white-fish
with a kind of hook formed by one of the men
put of the handle of the cooking-kettle. Proceeded on at noon, through a clear channel, until 254 GALE   AND   THU*NDER-STORM.
three p. m. when we arrived at-the Rapide des
Ecors, which we shot down without unloading.
At five, made the Portage de la Pente, after which
a steady uninterrupted current brought us, at half
past six, to Lac Castor. Here Mr. Stewart's
canoe took the lead, and we continued on in a
heavy gale and thunder-storm until night overtook us in the centre of the lake. We were for
some time in a very critical situation, oWing to the
darkness, which was only relieved by an occasional flash of ligfaihi&g. We at length approached
shore, and observed a long, h%h, and rocky point,
which it would be madness to attempt to double.
Orders were therefore given to land at the most
practicable part; and, after beating abfcfut for some
time in search of a beach, we succeeded about
eleven o'clock in running the canoes into a smaft
cove at the southern end of the point. It rained
on us the whole night, and we had not a mouthful
of provisions.
July 9th.    The gale coftlinued without ifitetV
mission accompanied by heavy rain all the forenoon; and owing to our tent being in Mr. Stewart's
canoe* we were deprived of any sheftefr.    About 255
five p.m. the weather moderated, and enabled us
to push off.    We doubled the point in safety, after
which we hetisted sail, and in half an hour afterwards joined Mr. Stewart, who had encamped at
the head of La Riviere Maligsne, where he waited
our arrival.    Stopped here the remainder of the
tiitay, being anxious to ascertain how the loaded
canoes had weathered out the gale.   The unsettled
Estate of the wind prevented us from catching any
fish, and we were obliged to retire again on th«s
l_iight to our stony cwmh supperless.
I July 10th.    Embarked at three a. m. and entered  La Riviere Maligne.     We had not proceeded far, when, in running down La Raj&cte
IpHfcehe, our canoe came in contact with the rocks,
by which eight  ribs were broken,  and & was
otherwise badly damaged.    This delayed us some
time to repair.    After launching again we had not
proceeded thfough more than two or three miles
pif smooth water, when we got into a chain of
-shallow, crooked, and rocky rapids, in every one
of which we sustained mdre or less injury.    At
eight a. m. passed the mouth of Rat River, a small
stream; and within a quarter of nine, arrived*at 256 SCARCITY   OF   PROVISIONS.
the termination of La Riviere Maligne, where it
discharges its waters into Cumberland-House
Lake. This river is most appropriately named by
the Canadians; for I believe, for its length, it is the
most dangerous, cross-grained piece of navigation
in the Indian country.
Owing to a head wind, we were unable to
proceed until half past four p. m., when it veered
about in our favour. We instantly hoisted sail, and
made the Grande Traverse in three - hours. Encamped at nine on a low muddy beach. Caught
three small fish, which were boiled with some
tripe de rocker, and afforded a spoonful of soup to
each of the poor famished men.
July 11th. Started at two a. m., and a short
distance above our encampment passed the lodge
of a fisherman belonging to Cumberland House,
from whom we obtained a most welcome and
seasonable supply of three prime sturgeon. At
four, made the Traverse de l'lle with a strong side
breeze, when we landed to allow time to our hungry voyageurs to regale themselves on the fisherman's supply. A roaring fire quickly crackled on
the beach, and in less than an hour the sturgeon RIVAL   SETTLEMENTS.
entirely disappeared. Proceeded on at six, and at
seven arrived at Cumberland House, of which we
found a gentleman named Fairis in. charge, who
treated us to an.excellent breakfast of tea, fish, and
steaks. Remained here during the day to recruit
the men.
At this period the rival Companies had large
forts here, which were well fortified; but no breach
of the peace had occurred during the winter
between the respective traders. Friendly intercourse was out of the question, and a suspicious
kind of armed neutrality was preserved on each
The country round Cumberland House is low,
with a rich soil and thinly wooded. Land animals
are scarce; but the lake furnishes an abundance of
white-fish, pike, and sturgeon. A few horses are
employed about the forts chiefly for domestic purposes. The Indians who occasionally visit it,
are a friendly well-disposed tribe, rather addicted
n the use of ardent spirits.
July 12th. Sent off the loaded canoes at one
p. m. ; but did not start ourselves till five, when
we took our leave of Mr. Fairis, and shortly after- 258
wards .encamped on an island not far from the
July 13th. At three a.m. embarked, and entered the Saskachawaine River, a noble broad
stream with a strong steady current, uninterrupted
by rapids. According to Canadian computation,
we made forty-nine leagues before night set in. I
doubt the accuracy of this calculation, although
we certainly made wonderful progress. The
country on each side of the river is extremely low,
and totally devoid of timber, but is dreadfully
prolific in mosquitoes. Those insects swarmed
about us in such myriads, that we in vain attempted to effect a landing, and to preserve the
small quantity of blood £$11 remaining in our
veins, were constfaiited to pass the entire nigh
on the water, driving quietly and calmly down the
current. Numerous parties however of the enemy
occasionally swarmed about our heads, which we
partially protected by constant smoking.
Early on the morning of the 14th we enterec
Lac Vase,  and made the  first traverse in Lac
Bourbon with a fair wind, but in tke midst of the   I
most dangerous swells.      &1&S RAPIDS. 259
The wind having increased to a heavy gale, we
were obliged to put ashore at eight o'clock on
Martel's island, where we were detained until
four p.m., when we were enabled to proceed.
Passed the Grande Traverse of Bourbon Lake in
moderate weather, and encamped at ten p.m. on
a low stony island, which we selected in consequence of its being free from mosquitoes. Here
we found several hundred gulls' eggs, on which
we made an excellent supper. The weather for
the last few days was extremely sultry, with
thunder and lightning at intervals. This night
we found it ratHer cool.
July 15th. Embarked at three a. m. Hard
rain during the morning. On quitting Bourbon
Lake we entered a long strait full of dangerous
rapids, which brought us to Lac de Travers, about
five miles in breadth. On leaving this we entered
another chain of dangerous rapids, which finally
brought us, at seven a.m., to the great rapid of
.Lac Winepic. This exceeded by far in body of
water, and general magnitude, any rapid I had
seen to the eastward of the Rocky Mountains.
The canoes were let down for a distance of three 260
miles with double lines; and in some places, where
large rocks projected into the river, the lading-
was taken out, and carried to the other side of the
point. Reached the foot of the rapid without
any accident, at a quarter before nine, where we
stopped to breakfast. Four Canadian free trappers, named Montreuil, Racette, Martin, and son,
were encamped at this place with their squaws.
As it blew too hard to attempt entering Lake
Winepic, we pitched our tents and partook of an
excellent breakfast with old.Martin, consisting of
cherry-tree tea, with boiled and fried sturgeo^_8
Late in the evening we were agreeably surprised
by the arrival of a party bound to the interior,
consisting of Messrs John D. Campbell, Alexander
M'Donell, Samuel Black, and my old Columbian
companion, M'Kay, with sixteen men, and two
canoes. They pitched their tents alongside ours;
and as their garde-vins were tolerably well
stocked, we sat up the entire night swallowing
the news which they brought from the civilised
July 16th.   Embarked at three a. m., having
previously purchased from Martin six sturgeon for LAKE   WINEPIC.
each canoe. The morning was calm and cloudy
as our little flotilla entered the great waters of
Lake Winepic. About eight o'clock a smart
breeze sprung up, which enabled us to hoist sail.
At ten. it increased to a close-reefer, and we
scudded along for a couple of hours in glorious
style; at times two or three miles from the shore.
About noon, however, the gale became so violent
that we were compelled to make the best of our
way to a landing-place, where we pitched our
tents for the day.
July 17th. It blew a perfect hurricane the*
entire day, which prevented us from attempting
to embark.
July 18th. Shortly after midnight the gale
moderated, and at half past one this morning we
set. off in calm weather. About sun-rise a favourable breeze sprang up, which wafted us on till
twelve, when its increasing violence again obliged
ferto seek the shore, a few miles above La Pointe
|J0_aligne; along rocky neck of land so called,
which stretches some distance into the lake, and
which in stormy Weather is difficult to double.
Remained   here  until six p. m,, when the gale 262
having ^federated, we again embarked, and continued on all night, alternately with the sail and
the paddle.
July 19th. Light fair breezes wafted us on
gently during the greater part of the day. They
rather impeded than accelerated our progress; for
by the custom of voyaging, the paddles are laid
aside while the sail is hoisted, and the men very
naturally keep it up while the smallest breath
ruffles the water. At four passed file 4e St.
Martin ; and at eight, encamped at a point called
La Tete de Picheu. Weather dark and calm
during the night.
July 20th. Embarked at two a. m., with a stiff
breeze, which brought us past La Tete de Brochet
in fine style. The wind having increased to a
hard gale, we put ashore-at half past eleven, at
the south side of the Traverse, des lies *L'Ecorce,
which it would be dangerous to attempt passing
in stormy weather. About five it moderated, and
we continued on with a fair wind all evening.
The navigation here being rather dangerous, and
the weather extremely dark, it was judged prudent
to encamp at ten p. m., in a snug little cove on AURORA   B0REALIS.
the northern shore, about half-way between La
Tete de Chien and Le Detroit du Due. The
country all round was in a state of conflagration,
the smoke from which was quite suffocating. The
scene was magnificent, and there was imparted to
it a terrible degree of interest by the howling of
wolves and other beasts of prey, which the extending flames forced from their long-frequented
The Aurora Borealis too appeared in all its
splendid kaleidoscope variety of forms. At times
a vertical battalion of strange figures seemed to
rush in fierce encounter on an horizontal phalanx ;
the whole mass became mingled, and in an instant
flew off into new and more fantastic shapes. A loud
and crackling noise oCaCasionally struck on our
ears, and it was difficult to determine whether it proceeded from the evanescent meteors
above, or the feUting timbers of the burning forest
I July 21st. Left pur encampment at half past
two a.m. And at five passed .through a small
strait called Le Detroit du Due, where the two
shores approach to within a quarter of a mile of 264
each other.    Beyond this however the lake again five leagues.
At ten a smart breeze sprung up. Met two
Indians (Sauteus) in a small canoe close to a rocky
point called La Tete de Boeuf, from whom we
purchased a small quantity of dried meat.^ At noon
a hard gale came on, accompanied by thunder,
heavy rain, and dangerous squalls: we however
continued on for some time ; buthaving shipped a
good deal of water, we were forced to put ashore a
few miles below another strait, named Le Detroit
de la Tete de Boeuf, at which place we stopped for
the remainder of the day.
July 22nd. Embarked at four a. m., with a
steady breeze, which continued the greater part of
the day. At noon doubled La Pointe de Metasse
in a hard gale, which nearly filled the canoes.
Here we breakfasted, and at two p. m. arrived at
Fort Alexander, situate at the end of Lake Winepic, and at the entrance of Winepic River. Messrs.
Heron and Crebassa were in charge, with three
men and a dozen of women.
July 23rd. Remained at Fort Alexander until
fjaree  p. m., when we bid adieu to our   friend WINEPIC   RIVER. 265
Mr. Alexander Stewart, who was not to proceed beyond this place. We previously sent off
the loaded canoes, at an early hour in the
Winepic River is greatly obstructed by rapids ;
at numbers of which portages must be made, or
part of the goods unloaded. In the last case they
are only called DSckarges. It would be tiresome
and useless to give the various names by which the
Canadians distinguish those places. We passed
six in the afternoon, and encamped at dusk at the
head of Portage des Chenes.
. July 24th. Set off at day-break, and encamped
at seven p. m., after having made five .portages
during the day. In passing through Lac de
.Bonnet, we met Mr. Hughes, a proprietor, who
with, six men in a canoe was proceeding to Forts
^des Prairies, of which department he had charge-
Weather extremely sultry.
July 25th. Commenced our morning's work by
making seven portages " all in a row," at the
upper end of which we stopped to breakfast and
repair the canoes. Here we were overtaken by
Mr. Crebassa in a light canoe with twelve men, 266
on his way to Fort William with despatches.
Encamped late at the end of Portage Brul6,
July 26th.   We had much thunder and torrents
of rain the greater part of last night, by which our
goods and covering were quite wet.    Remained a
few hours at the encampment to dry our clothes,
&c.   At eight a.m. Mr. Leith, one of the proprietors, accompanied by Lieutenant Austin of the
37th foot, with thirteen of his regiment, andiwei|JH
well-armed Iroquois, arrived at our encampment.
They were on their way to Red River, for thai
purpose of arresting all the delinquents they could
catch, who had been concerned in the recent
outrages.   We stopped to breakfast with them^l
While it was preparing,   I   asked   one of the
soldiers, (an Irishman,) how he liked the mode of
travelling in that country ?    % By J , Sir," he
replied, "it's awkward enough. Here we are
cramped up in -a bit of a canoe, put like chayney
gods, with our muskets and knapsacks, striving
to keep ourelothes and 'coutrements clane. We
haven't seen a sign of Christianity these two or
three months > not a church, or chapel, or housed
or garden ; nor even a horse, or a cow, or a sheep; HIBERNIAN   DESCRIPTION.
nothing during the entire day; just rocks, rivers,
lakes, portages, waterfalls, and large forests;
bears roaring a tattoo every night, and wolves
howling a rbuWle every morning. OI to the
devil I bob it!—Give me India or Spain, with all
their hard fighting, before such an infernal, outlandish, unchristian country."
Parted from those gentlemen a little after nine
o'clock, and shortly after overtook the brigade of
loaded canoes. Passed two lodges of Sauteus,
and encamped late a few miles above Portage de
l'lle.    Weather during the day excessively sultry.
July 27th. Embarked at day-break. About
five a. m. Colonel Dickson, and a gen^teman
named Gale, passed us on their route to Red
River. Their journey also was connected with
the investigation ordered by the Governor General.
Bibout an hour afterwards we met Messrs Simon,
M'Gillivray jun., and Roderick M'Leod, with
two canoes, bound for Athabasca: we remained
to breakfast with them, and stopped a couple of
hours. A smacking breeze during the greater
part of the day gave the men considerable relief
from paddling.
*/y:ir\ 268
Encamped at seven p.m. a few miles below
the Portage des Rats.
July 28th. Passed Rat Portage early. A few
lodges of natives were encamped at it, from whom
we could purchase nothing. On quitting this
portage we entered Lac du Bois, with tolerably
calm weather. We employed the paddle and
sail alternately, until one p.m., when we arrived
at a long and narrow peninsula, which stretchf|j|
a considerable distance into the lake. A portage
was made across this point in a short time, by
which the tedious and circuitous passage round
its extremity was avoided. We observed great
quantities of wild rice growing here, which the
Canadians called la folk avoine. Had a fair wind
all the afternoon, and encamped at half past
seven, within three leagues of the Grande Traverse.
July 29th. Observed some faint appearances of
the Aurora Borealis during the night. Set off at
day-break, and at ten a.m. passed the Grande
Traverse with a light breeze. This brought us to
Lac la Pluie River, at the entrance of which we
passed a few natives.    During the evening passed FORT   LAC   LA   PLUIE.
a Mr. Grant, with a few men, who were
returning in a canoe to the fort at Lac la Pluie,
from a provision voyage. Encamped at seven p. m.
July 30th. Set off at the usual hour. At two
p.m. met Mr. M'Pherson, with a brigade of
eleven loaded canoes, bound for Athabasca. Not
a voyageur in the whole party, at the period we met
them, could be accused of sobriety. Encamped
at dusk.
July 31st. At nine a.m. arrived at the fort
of Lac la Pluie, in which we found a number of
gentlemen, guides, interpreters, and engages ;
some outward-bound, and others belonging to
various departments destined for the interior.
Among them was my old esteemed friend, Mr. La
Rocque, whose name frequently occurs in the
eventful scenes of the Columbia, to which place
he was now about returning with a reinforcement
of forty men, principally Iroquois Indians, from
We remained seven days at Lac la Pluie,
waiting the arrival of goods from Fort William,
and making the necessary distribution of men, &e.
for the different trading .posts.    This place is a "=«
considerable dep6t of provisions; so that during
our stay we fared sumptuously on cakes, pemmican, tea, coffee, wild fowl, fish, and deer ; with a
moderate modicum of rum and shrub. We had
two excellent fiddlers ; and as several of the gentlemen had wives, we got up three or four balls,
in which the exhilarating amusement of the " light
fantastic toe" was kept up to a late hour in the
morning. We walked through no lazy minuets;
we had no simpering quadrilles; no languishing
half-dying waltzes ; no,—ours was the exercise of
health;. the light lively reel, or the rattling good
old-fashioned country dance, in which the grace-"-
ful though untutored movements of the Norjh-
West females, would have put to the blush many
of the more refined votaries of Terpsichore.
Several lodges'of Sotoes, or as the Canadians
spell the word Sauteus, were encamped near the
fort. They were formerly a very powerful tribe ;
but the small-pox, war, and rum, have considerably diminished their numbers. They are greatly
addicted to the use of ardent spirits, and make a
point never to commence a barter of their furs
until  a  suitable   quantity of rum  be  given   to
them gratuitously. When they recover from
the intoxication produced by this preliminary
debauch, they proceed to business. A certain
portion of their furs is set apart for a gun,
another  for ammunition, a third for blankets, a
pburth for tomahawks or knives, a fifth for
tobacco, a sixth for the wants of the wife and
l|yidren, and then a portion for rum.
I visited the) encampment of this40party after
they had finished their trade. The men were
gambling and drinking. to excess. While joy
sparkled in the eyes of some, others, whose losses
had been j great, looked like demons. A dispute
arose between two fine young men respecting
a knife: one gave his antagonist a blow across
the face, upon which the other darted to his
lodge, seized his gun, and taking a deadly aim
*shot the aggressor through the body. He was
in the act of drinking rum out of a pint measure,
when he received the fatal bullet. He did not
start, no feature changed, and he walked on,
singing a war-song, carrying the rum in his hand,
until he raised his foot to pass over the threshold
of his lodge, when he fell dead at the door. 272 INTOXICATION   AND   MURDER.
A scene of indescribable confusion followed.
Each warrior ran for his gun, dagger, or tomahawk, while the women and children flew
towards the fort for protection. Fearful that an
indiscriminate massacre would be the consequence, a number of gentlemen rushed among
them, and with much persuasion, joined to some
force, succeeded in disarming the more violent,
and restoring tranquillity. Compensation was
ultimately made to the relatives of the deceased ;
and so terminated this drunken homicide. SEPARATION.
Leave Rainy Lake—Messrs. M'Gillivray and La Rocque—
Sketch of Messrs. Wentzel and M'Neill— Great falls of
the mountain—Description of Fort William, its inhabitants, &c.
Thursday, August 7th. At two p. m. took
our departure from Lac la Pluie for Fort William,
in two light canoes, containing nine voyageurs
each. Messrs. Robert Henry and Alexander
M'Tavish were in one; and Messrs. Ferdinand
Wentzel, Hector M'Neill, and myself, were in
the other. Mr. La Rocque and party set off at
the same time for the Columbia; and Messrs.
Joseph M'Gillivray and William Henry for Athabasca and Lesser Slave Lake.
By the new distribution, I was deprived of the
VOL.   II. s 274
LEAYING old friends.
pleasure of my friend M'Tavish's company, which
I much regretted; however, as we were to
proceed together in the same brigade to Canada,
the separation was infinitely less painful than that
which I experienced in parting from my old
friends M'Gillivray and La Rocque.
We had spent many happy days together on the
banks of the distant Columbia. Our studies and
amusements were the same. We had suffered in
common many privations incident to that dangerous district; and whether in a canoe, or on
horseback; over a hit of backgammon, or on the
midnight watch, there was a community of feeling
that peculiarly endeared us to each other. I was
about re-entering the busy scenes of civilised life,
while they were returning to encounter all thfc
dangers and hardships attendant on a trader's
occupation; and the pressure therefore of the*
parting grasp was rendered doubly painful by
the reflection, that in all human probability we
should never meet again.
Those only who knew them as I did, and were
acquainted with their many excellent and social
qualities, "their  scorn for wrong, their zeal for ROUTE   CONTINUED.
truth," can appreciate the justice of this poor
tribute to the manliness of their character, and
the steady sincerity of their friendship.
About an hour after quitting the fort, we made
one portage; and shortly after passed a small
trading-post of Lord Selkirk's.
Encamped about six p. m. on an island in the
August 8th. Embarked at half past one a. m.
Had a steady breeze all the morning. Made several
portages. Messrs. H. Mackenzie and M'Lean, of
the North-West Company, passed us on their way
to Winepic River, and shortly after we met six
canoes belonging to the Hudson's-Bay Company,
twenty-five days from Point Meuron, bound to the
interior. Passed several Indian encampments, at
|ta.ich we procured a quantity of wild rice. This
we boiled, and took in preference to the sturgeon
we were furnished with at the fort, and which had
now a very mauvaise odeur. Encamped alone this
evening, in consequence of Messrs. Henry and
M'Tavish having very good-naturedly gone on
ahead, and left us to^ manage matters as well as
we could.    It was not, however, with my friend 276
M'Tavish's consent that we were left behind ;■ for
I knew he would have preferred remaining with
us, had his own wishes been consulted; but
when any of the little great men of the North-
West obtain a command, they imagine they have
no legitimate method of showing their temporary
superiority, but by leaving their subordinate
officers as far en arriere as possible.
I derived much pleasure from the conversation
of my two new compagnons de voyage, Messrs;
Wentzel and M'Neill. The former had been
upwards of sixteen years in the Indian country,
principally in the department of Athabasca^ and
had obtained a thorough knowledge of the manners, customs, and language of the natives of that
quarter. He was an active enterprising trader;
but, having no family connexions to place his
claims in the prominent point of view which they
ought to occupy, and being moreover of an honest
unbending disposition, his name was struck out of
the house-list of favourite clerks intended for
proprietors, and he had the vexation to see many
young men promoted over his head, several of
whom had never slept a night with a hungry BIOGRAPHICAL   SKETCH.
stomach, or seen a shot fired in anger. Disgust
followed disappointment, and he was now proceeding to Canada, determined, if justice were
not rendered him by the directors, to quit the
service of the Company for ever.*
M'Neill belonged to a highly respectable family
in the north of Ireland, and had at an early age
entered the regiment of foot as an ensign.
Owing, however, to a serious quarrel with his
commanding officer, he was obliged to quit the
service; and being too proud to seek any assistance from his relatives, whom he had reason to suspect were displeased at his conduct,
he re-entered the army as a private soldier.
He was quickly appointed a serjeant, and behaved with distinguished bravery throughout the
peninsular campaigns, in which he was twice
After the battle of the Pyrenees he was promoted to the rank of serjeant-major; and upon
the termination of hostilities in the south of
France, his regiment with others  were ordered
* This gentleman is the same whose name so frequently
occurs in Captain Franklin's Journal. 278 WARLIKE   CHARACTER.
from Bourdeaux to Canada. His American services were of short duration. Peace speedily
followed Sir George Prevost's disgraceful retreat
from Plattsburg, and the battalion to which
M'Neill belonged was ordered to be disbanded.
This unwelcome intelligence reached him at a
period when he had every reason to hope, that he
would have been speedily restored to his former
rank. Not wishing to return home, he preferred
accepting his discharge in Canada, where he was
shortly after introduced to one of the agents of
the North-West Company, which then stood in
need of a few fighting characters, to make a stand
against the encroachments pf their rivals.
M'NehTs face was in itself a letter of recommendation. His countenance was a ruddy bronze,
with a noble nose of the Nassau cut, a superb pair
of full-blown Cossack whiskers, and an interesting transverse sabre-wound over his right eye.
Valour was then at a premium, and M'Neill's
character, joined to his warlike visage, at once
secured him a handsome engagement. On his
arrival in the interior, an opportunity quickly
offered for trying his hand at his old profession. 279
He was despatched with a few men to intercept a
party of Indians who were loaded with furs, in
order to prevent them falling into the hands of the
Hudson's-Bay Company. He found, however,
that he had been anticipated by a clerk of the
latter establishment. Warm words took place
between them, and a duel was the consequence.
M'Neill drove a ball through his adversary's hat,
and there the affair ended. Some time after he
was engaged in two broad-sword encounters, in
which he wounded one of his opponents, and
disarmed the other. His fame soon became
established; and wherever he appeared, opposition
A year of inactivity followed his first campaign ;
and as no fighting reinforcement appeared among
the ranks of the enemy, he became dissatisfied
with his situation. A quarrel occurred between
him and the proprietors. He alledged that he was
badly treated, and did not experience the attention
to which he considered himself justly entitled;
while the latter stated, that his unruly conduct
was a terrible example of insubordination to all
the younger clerks in tho establishment; and that 280
in his bearing to his superiors, he showed more of
the major than -of the serjeant-major.
Without stopping to inquire upon whom the
greater share of blame rested, it is sufficient to
say, that the gentlemen of the interior were
graciously pleased to dispense with his services a
year before the termination of his engagement,
and generously allowed him the full amount of
his salary for the entire period. He was now on
his way to Canada, uncertain as to his future
course of life; but so strongly imbued with a
dislike of the Indian country, that he swore he
would rather carry a halbert all his life, than roll
in a coach and four, obtained by cheating the
poor Indians.
August 9 th. Embarked at half past three a.m.
Made four portages during the day, and passed a
few Sotoes in canoes. Embarked at eight o'clock
in Lac d'Eturgeon. The scenery, since we left
Lac la Pluie, is much more diversified with woods
and rising grounds, than below that establishment.  Weather very warm for the last three days.
August 10th. At eight a. m. made the Portage
des Deux Rivieres, and at nine, that of Les Morts, PORTAGES.
at which we breakfasted. Arrived at the Portage
des Francais at half-past one p. m., and, owing
to its length, and bad pathway, did not finish it
until half past seven. Encamped, at dusk, at the
entrance of Riviere des Francais. Had a great
deal of thunder and heavy rain during the afternoon.
August 11th. Made the Portage de la Pente
at ten a. m. At noon passed the Portage des
Barrils, and entered Mille Lac with a fair breeze.
At five p.m. passed an uninhabited house, built
last year for a trading-post by order of Lord
Selkirk. Encamped at eight, in a handsome
savannah, close to a river which takes its name
from the place (La Savanne.)
August 12th. Started at day-break. At ten
met an old guide, named Joseph Paul, in charge
of a brigade of seven loaded canoes destined for
English River. At eleven, arrived at Savannah
portage, which we did not finish until three p. m.
At five passed the Portage de Milieu; at which
we met a single canoe heavily laden, destined for
the Red River. At dusk we made the Portage de
la Prairie, and encamped on the shores of another
ilii 282
Lac Froid ; a small body of clear water, so called
from its extreme frigidity.
August 13th. Found the air very chilly during
the night, which some of our Canadian Savans
attributed to the proximity of Lac Froid. A
heavy dew also fell. Embarked at half past^
four; and at half past five, made the Portage de
l'Eau Froide, the air round which we found extremely cold. We continued down a chain of small
rapids, in one of which we were obliged to unload.
After this we descended a small river, with low
banks, and a smooth current; in which, at three
p. m., we met Messrs. John George M'Tavish and
J. Thompson, on their way to the interior. Encamped at seven, at Lac des Chiens, where we
were joined by a Mr. Connolly, a senior clerk for
many years in charge of one of the principal
trading-posts in the interior. We encamped
together; and he invited us to his tent, where we
made a sensible impression on the contents of a
well-stocked garde-vin. This gentleman left
Ireland when a boy, with his family, who settled
in Canada. He had at this period been seventeen
years in the Company's service, and was to be PICTURESQUE   SCENERY.
elected a partner the following year. He was un
veritable bon garcon, and an Emeralder of the .first
August 14th. At four A. m. parted from our
worthy host of the tent, when each pursued
his different route. At six, met Mr. Duncan
M'Dougall, proceeding to Winepic River in a
loaded canoe. We stopped a couple of hours
with him, and breakfasted together. This gentleman had been one of the directors of the late
Pacific Fur Company, and had subsequently
joined the North-West. He was one of our party
crossing the mountains ; but at the English River,
he set off in a light-canoe with Mr. Bethune for
Fort William, from which place he was now
returning to his winter-quarters.
Came to the termination of the lake about
eleven o'clock, and finished the Portage des Chiens
at noon. The country about this place is very
handsome, and the view from the rising grounds
about the portage highly picturesque and diversified. At one, passed another portage, called Le
Petit Chien; and in the course of the evening
passed  several rapids, at six of which we were
illliti m
obliged to unload and let the canoes.down with the
line. Encamped at dusk at the Portage des Cedres.
From Lac des Chiens the country assumes quite a
hilly, and in some places a mountainous, appearance. The timber too, particularly the pine/||M
spruce, becomes, much larger, and nearly approaches the magnitude of the trees on the
August 15th. At five a.m. made the Portage
de l'lle; previous to which we were obliged to
unload at two rapids. At eight, made the Portage
Ecarte; and soon after, a loud and roaring noise
announced our approach to the great falls of
Portage de la Montagne, which we reached a little
before ten o'clock.
This stupendous cataract is second only to
Niagara. It is one hundred and fifty-six feet in
height, and upwards of two hundred in.breadths
The river, in its advance to the fall, moves slowly
and majestically forward until its course is interrupted by a huge mass of rough craggy rocks,
over whose dark grey front it rushes with a tremendous noise resembling distant thunder.
We  stopped  to breakfast at.the. foot of the RAPIDS. &8§
cataract, the spray from which dashed over us.
It was a melancholy-looking spot. The morning
was dark and cloudy, and not a ray of sun-shine
appeared to enliven the dread abyss; owing to
which circumstance, and the banks on each side
being high, rocky, and thickly wooded, we were
deprived of seeing that beautiful phenomenon
of the prismatic rainbow, so often observed at
Niagara and other great falls. The scene was
one of sombre grandeur; and, however it might
have been relished by a philosopher, or an embryo
Demosthenes, was well calculated to damp the
animal spirits of the most vivacious disciple of
tMomus. ||^
For six leagues below this cataract there is a
chain of shallow rapids, down which we had to
pass the canoes with the cod-lines. Encamped
late at the foot of the last rapid, without a mouthful of any substance for dinner or supper ; indeed
we had been in a starving state for the last four
days, having had only a scanty meal per diem.
in the course of the day we met a brigade of
loaded canoes, bound for Forts des Prairies, and
Klother for Lac la Pluie. 286
August 16th. Embarked at day-break; and at
six passed Point Meuren, one of Lord Selkirk's
establishments, so called from a number of De
Meuron's regiment having been employed in
building it. The situation is handsome; but the
settlement consists of a few straggling huts,
miserably provided with the common necessaries
of life.
At eight o'clock we arrived at Fort William, as
the welcome sound of the breakfast-bell was
summoning the inmates to their morning's repast.
We instantly repaired to the Salle a manger, and
over a bowl of coffee, fresh eggs, excellent hot
cakes, and prime cold venison, quickly forgot our
late privations.
Fort William is the great emporium for the
interior. An extensive assortment of merchandise
is annually brought hither from Montreal,/?J|B
large canoes, or the Company's vessels on the
lakes, which, in return, bring down the produce of
the wintering posts to Canada, from whence it is
shipped for England. A number of the partners
and clerks, whose turn of rotation has not arrived
for going to Montreal, assemble here every sum- FUR   TRADE.
mer, and deposit the furs which they purchase
during the winter, when they obtain a fresh
supply of trading goods for the ensuing season;
Those on their way to Canada also remain some
time previous to their final departure. In addition
to these, one or two of the principal directors, and
several clerks, come up every spring from Montreal to make the necessary changes, and superintend the distribution of the merchandise for the
wintering parties. Fort William may therefore
be looked upon as the metropolitan post of the
interior, and its fashionable season generally conr
tinues from the latter end of May to the latter
end of August. During this period, good living
and festivity predominate; and the luxuries of
the dinner-table compensate in some degree for
the long fasts and short commons experienced by
those who are stationed in the remote posts. The
voyageurs too enjoy their Carnival, and between
rum and baubles the hard-earned wages of years
are often dissipated in a few weeks.
We arrived too late to see Fort William in its
prime. A great portion of the interior aristocracy
had departed for their winter destinations;   and
il m
If! 288
most of those outward-bound had set off before
our arrival. A small portion of respectability,
however, remained; and during the two days
that we stopped, our time was passed agreeably
The following is a list of the company who
assembled at the dinner-table : viz. Messrs. John
M'Donald (le Borgne*), Haldane, Ronald Cameron, James Grant (le Borgne), and Doctor
M'Loughlin. The above comprised all the
members of the proprietory present; the doctor having two shares in consequence of long
services, and being resident physician at the
Among the clerks were, Captain R. M'Kenzie,
nearly fifty years of age, twenty-five of which he
had spent in the Indian country; Mr. Crebassa;
also a North-Wester of twenty-five years standing,
who was now on his way to Canada to abide his
trial, on certain charges preferred against him by
some of Lord Selkirk's agents ; Mr. Wentzel, my
travelling companion,  of whom I have already
* So called by the Canadians, owing to the gentleman having lost one eye. COMPANY   AT   FORT   WILLIAM. 289
spoken; Mr. Cummings, thirteen years in the
Company's service, and presumptive heir to a
partnership; Mr. Alexander M'Tavish, from
the Columbia, going to Canada from ill health;
Mr. Hector M'Neill, from Athabasca, quitting
the country in consequence of having nd one to
fight with. There were also from the establishment k Montreal, Messrs. Grant, M'Robb, Cowie,
M'Lean, and Robinson; and at the end of the
table a long list of worthies, consisting of hieroglyphic clerks, interpreters, and guides, who are
looked upon as warrant officers, and at headquarters are permitted to dine witlh the mess. -
The dining-hall is a noble apartment, and sufficiently capacious to entertain two hundred. A
finely executed bust of the late Simon M'Tavish
is placed in it, with portraits of various, proprietors.
A full-length likeness of Nelson, together with a
splendid painting of the battle of the Nile, also
decorate the walls, and were presented by the
Hon. Wliam M'Gillivray, to the Company. At
the upper end of the hall there is a very large
map of the Indian country, drawn with great
accuracy by Mr. David Thompson, astronomer to
vol. n. 1 2m
the Company, and comprising all their trading-
posts, from Hudson's Bay to the Pacific Ocean,
and from Lake Superior to Athabasca and Great
Slave Lake.
This immense territory is very little known,
except to those connected with the Company;
and if it did not interfere with their interests, the
publication of Mr. Thompson's map would prove
a most valuable addition to our geographical
knowledge of the interior of that great continent.
The buildings at Fort William consist of a
large house, in which the dining-hall is situated,
and in which the gentleman in charge resides;
the Council-house ; a range of snug buildings for
the accommodation of the people from the interior;
a large counting-house; the Doctor's residence;
extensive stores for the merchandise and furs; a
forge; various work-shops, with apartments for
the mechanics, a number of whom are always
stationed here. There is also a prison for refractory voyageurs. The whole is surrounded by
wooden fortifications, flanked by bastions, and is
sufficiently strong to withstand any attack from
the natives.    Outside the fort is a ship-yard, in NATURE OF THE COUNTRY.       291
which the Company's vessels on the lake are
built and repaired. The kitchen-garden is well
stocked, ane_: there are extensive fields of Indian
corn and potatoes. There are also several head
of cattle, with sheep, hogs, poultry, &c, and a
few horses for domestic use.
The country about the fort is low, with a rich
moist soil. The air is damp, owing to frequent
rains, and the constant exhalation from Lake
Superior. This produces agues; and numbers of
the people who have wintered here, have been
more or less afflicted with that troublesome disorder.
In addition to the persons whose names I have
already mentioned, we also found at Fort William,
Captain Miles M'Donnell, a gentleman connected
with Lord Selkirk's establishment, in the custody
of a constable named Fitzpatrick, on certain
charges preferred against him by some members
of the North-West Company, and for which he
wras about to be conducted to Canada. There
was also a Mr. Joillette, a notary from Assomp-
tion, who came up as secretary to the commissioners, Messrs. Coltman and Fletcher;  by the
il 292
tetter of whom he was discharged from his furi^
tions, and was now waiting for a passage to:
Montreal. Besides the; above, there was a Subaltern's detachment of the 70th foot, and a number
of disbanded soldiers, who had belonged to De
Meuron's regiment, and who were ready and
willing to cut the throats of all persons opposed to
the interest of their employers.
Most part of the voyageurs, soldiers, Indians^;
half-breeds, &c, were encamped outside the fort
in tents, leathern lodges, mat-covered huts, sgjB
wigwams. On inquiry, I ascertained that the
aggregate number of the persons in and about the
establishment was composed of natives of the
following countries : viz. England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Sweden,
Holland, Switzerland, United States of America,
the Gold Coast of Africa, the Sandwich Islands,
Bengal, Canada, with various tribes of Indians,
and a mixed progeny of Creoles, or half-bree^JjH
What a strange medley!—Here were assembled,
on the shores of this inland sea, Episcopalians,
Presbyterians, Methodists, Sun-worshippers, men
from  all parts of the world,  and  whose creeds OBSERVATORY.
were " wide as the poles asunder," united in one
common object, and bowing down before the same
An observatory (rather a crazy structure) stands
in the court-yard of the fort. From it the eye
takes in an extensive view of flat country, thickly
wooded, with the bold shores of Thunder Island
at a distance, rising abruptly-*Lout of Lake Superior; while immediately around the fort the
scene was enliv^ied by animating groups of
women, soldiers, voyageurs> and Indians, dancing,
singing, driaking, and gambling; in their features
comprising all the shades of the human species,
and in their dress, all the varied hues of the rainbow.
* We had one East-Indian from Bengal, two Negroes, and
the De Meurons were a mixtiu*eYof nearly^^tery nation in
Europe., $jfc ig&j[ 2M 294
Enter Lake Superior—St. Mary's Falls—Sketch of Mr. Johnston—Lake Huron—French River—Lake Nipising—Arrive
on the Ottawa—A Back-woodsman—Chaudiere Falls—
Hull—Longue Sault—Mr. Grant—Laughable mistake—
Mr. M'Donald Le Pretre—Mr. M'Gilles—Snyder's Tavern
—Lake of the Two Mountains—La Chine—Arrive at
August 18th. Received our sailing orders and
provisions for our voyage last night; and at six
a. m. this morning took our departure from Fort
William, inv company with a brigade of loaded
canoes. Messrs. Wentzel, M'Neill, and I travelled
in the same canoe. The day was remarkably warm
and calm. Our route lay along the northern
shore of Lake Superior, and we encamped at
seven p. m. on a stony beach.   The country ap- VOYAGE ON LAKE SUPERIOR.      295
peared to be generally high and rocky. Some
handsome open spots were visible at intervals
alongshore; and other parts were thickly wooded.
August 19th. This day was also calm, and we
continued on with the paddle until dusk, when we
put ashore in a small bay. The general appearance
of the land was rocky, diversified however by
several beautiful situations admirably calculated
for settlements.
August 20th. Embarked at day-break. The
shores appeared higher, and were indented with
larger bays than we had yet seen. We had se-
veral^slight showers. About noon it came on to
blow rather fresh, and at two p. m. we were obliged to put ashore from the violence of the gale,
which kept us stationary the remainder of the
August 21st. Started at three a.m. At six
a hard breeze sprung up, accompanied by heavy
rain; and as the lowering appearance of the clouds
portended no favourable change, we put ashore at
ten "o'clock at one of the Company's trading-posts,
called Le Pic. The house is handsomely situated
on the shores of a small bay.   A proprietor was 296
/me£e}iarge. He was on the beach when we approached in)shore ; and on seeing us disembark,
he turned on his heel and retreated into the fort.
This movement foreboded any thing but a hospitable reception; and we therefore pitched our
tent, and prepared for breakfast. As Wentzel had
formerly known him, he paid him a visit; but
M'Neill and I preferred remaining in the tent,
from which no friendly invitation offered to dislodge us.
Between one and two p. m. the rain ceased, and
enabled us to quit the dominions of the surly landlord of the Pic. A stiff breeze wafted us on rapidly the remainder of the day, and we encamped
late in a small bay. After leaving the Pic the
shores appeared quite rocky, with little timber,
and the interior mountainous.
August 22d. Had a strong breeze all day, which
at half past four |g m. brought us to the River de
la Chienne, close to the great bay of Michipicoten, 1
to cross which in stormy weather is rather hazard-*
ous. We therefore encamped at the river, where
we remained all night. During the day we passed
several islands, which, like the northern shore of RENCONTRE. 297
the lake, are rocky ; they are also thinly wooded,
and, as the voyageurs told me, possess a very un-
JlffiQiductive soil.
August 23d. Rose at three; but the threatening
aspect of the clouds deterred us from embarking*
until half past four a. m., when we commenced
crossing the bay, or, as the voyageurs called it, the
Grande Traverse de Michipicoten. We made use of
the paddle and the sail by turns, and finished the
traverse in five hours. At noon arrived at a point
called Gargue en trois, from which a strong breeze
brought us, at half past four, to Montreal island/
on which we encamped. The northern coast more
rocky and mountainous than yesterday.
August 24th. Embarked at four, in calm weather, which about seven increased to a breeze, that
brought us on rapidly till ten, when it obliged us
to laniliat Point Mamas. Here we overtook Mr.
Fletcher, a barrister, and superintendant of the
police at Quebec. This gentleman had been appointed, by the Governor-General, joint commissioner with Mr. Coltman, to inquire into the
causes of the various affrays between the two
Companies, and was now on his way to Canada
with the result of his mission. We remained wind-
bound at this place until three p. m., when, the gale
moderating, we continued on in company with
Mr. Fletcher. Encamped at dusk at the opening
of the bay of Batchiwina, one of the most extensive
inlets on the northern shores of Lake Superior. Mr.
Fletcher invited us to his tent, which was plentifully stocked with toutes les bonnes choses calculated
to render travelling in such a country very agreed
able; and as our Fort William supply of luxuries
was rather in a consumptive state, this gentleman
in the kindest manner helped us most liberally
from his store.
From Point Mamas to this place the shore is
rather low, and much less rugged than any part
we had hitherto seen.
August 25th. Embarked at day-break with a
fair breeze, and made the traverse of the Batchiwina without using a paddle.*     At one p. m.
* This is a dangerous traverse. The year before, as Mr,
Kenneth Mackenzie and fourteen men were crossing it in a
a gale of wind under heavy sail, their canoe upset, and that
gentleman and ten of the voyageurs were unfortunately
drowned. ST.   MARY S   FALLS.
doubled a cape called by the Canadians Le Gros
Cap, at which place the lake suddenly narrows to
little better than a mile in breadth. The country
on both sides is low and well wooded.
At five p.m. arrived at St. Mary's Falls, or, as
the Canadians name the place, Le Saut de Sainte
Marie, at which Lake Superior terminates, and
discharges its waters into Lake Huron. The North-
West Company had extensive stores at this place,
of which a Mr. Kennedy had charge. Mr. Fletcher
stopped with us at the Company's house, where
we had an excellent dinner of fish, wild fowl, and
The southern side of St. Mary's forms part of
the territory of the. United States ; the northern
belongs to Great Britain. On the American side
there are several settlements, in consequence of
which the North-Westers regard this place as the
commencement of civilisation. We crossed over
in the evening in company with Mr. Fletcher,
from the stern of whose canoe a British jack was
flying. On landing, we were received in the
kindest manner by Mr. Johnston, the principal
I inhabitant of the place, who politely invited us to mm*
his house, where we spent a few hours. He
returned with us to the Company's establishment,
and the night was far advanced before we separated.
August 26th. In consequence of the canoes
requiring some repairs, we remained at St. Mary's
Falls this day, which we passed in the most agreeable manner at the residence of Mr. Johnston.
The history of this gentleman is remarkable.
He was a member of a highly respectable family
in the county Antrim, and in early life moved in
the most fashionable circles in Ireland. A circumstance, however, which blasted his early
hopes of happiness, induced him to abandon his
laative ccrmitry, and about twenty-eight years
before this period he arrived in America. After
wandering for some time about the continent, he
made his way to St. Mary's Falls, where he shortly
became a great favourite with the Indians, and
entered extensively into the fur trade. The chief
had only one child, a daughter. She was a beau«
tiful and interesting girl, and, although sought for
as a wife by many of the youthful warriors, she
declined all the?* offers.    Her father was old and LOVE   AND   MARRIAGE.
infirm, and wished hejr £o marry before his death ;
^hut still his affection for his daughter was so great,
that he would not exercise his parental authority
:m compelling her to choose. It soon, however,
became apparent that Mr. Johnston was the object
of her choice. For some time previous, as he told
me himself, he began to experience the truth of
St. Pierre's opinion, that " man without woman,
and woman-without man, are imperfect beings in
the order of nature." On learning, therefore, that
he had found favour in the sight of this youthful
Indian, he at once came to the resolution of rendering both himself and her perfect. Her father
consented, and they were married according to
the rites and ceremonies of the tribe. Death
shortly after deprived the old .ma$,yOf his command ; and Mr. Johnston, whose wisdom and
courage were highly admired by the .Indians, was
unanimously elected his successor.
ti;S0_me years after his union with the chief's
daughter, an extensive property fell to him in the
north of Ireland, to which place he repaired in
order to take possession. While there, offers of a
tempting nature were made to induce  him to
mm 302
reside in the country of his nativity, but his fealty
to the " Lady of the lake" could not be shaken;
and the moment he had finished his business, he.
hastened back to St. Mary's, ffis family consisted of two sons and two daughters, and a
Miss Campbell, an interesting girl, whose father
had a few years before been shot in a duel by a
Mr. Crawford. One son was employed in a
public department Jn Canada, and theotl_#was
an officer in a local corps. The mother received
us in a friendly manner at the door, but did not
join us at the breakfast or dinner table.
Mr. Johnston has extensive plantations of corn,
potatoes, &c, with a beautifully arranged and
well-stocked fruit and flower garden. During the
late short war with America, he induced one
thousand Indian warriors (of whom he took the
command) to join the British forces, and rendered
important services while so employed.
He suffered severely for his loyalty; for, during
his absence with the army, a predatory party of
Americans attacked his place in the hope of
obtaining a large quantity of valuable furs, which
they were informed he had in his stores, but SCIENTIFIC   RESEARCHES.
fchich a short time before his departure he had
fortunately removed. Disappointed in their hopes
of plunder, they burned his house, out-offices,
&c.; destroyed the greater part of his valuable
stock, and carried away every portable article
they could find.* At the period, therefore, of our
visit the buildings were quite new, and were
constructed with much taste. The furniture was
elegant, and the library select and excellent.
Mr. Johnston possessed a highly cultivated
mind, much improved by extensive reading. He
had made many excursions round the shores of
Lake Superior, and along the banks of its tributary
streams, in which scientific researches imparted a
pleasing variety to the business of an Indian
trader. His collections of specimens were varied
and well selected; and if the result of his inquiries
be published, they will, I have no doubt, prove a
valuable addition to our geological knowledge of
interior America.
■ * I met Mr. Johnston a few years afterwards in England,
and was happy to learn that he succeeded in obtaining from
Government, compensation for the losses he sustained on the
above occasion. 304
Mr. Johnston was an enthusiastic admirer".."of
Indian manners and customs ;. and if a woisdwere
uttered condemnatory of their morals, he poured
forth a torrentx)f eloquent, but vitu^s|Ea^0e Attire
against the fashionable follies of the cirtjsed
world ; which, as it was felt he spoke jure uxoris,
if it failed to establish .the superior morality of
Indian manners, silenced at least all oppositions^ I
Two retired traders, named Nolin and Erman*
tinger, also resided on the same:-side with Mr.
Johnston, a short distance below his house- .They
had Indian wives, and large families, and appeared
to be in comfortable circumstances.    :
Mr. Johnston has plenty of cattle, hogs, sheep§
domestic fowl, &c.; and has also a ver^^po^fl
windmill close to his dwe^ag-house. Fish is
feand in great abundance, particularly trout.-
They are of enormous size—sixty pounds is not
uncommon; and Mr. Johnston assured me he saw
one caught, in Lake Superior,, which weighed
ninety pounds!
He treated us to an excellent dinner, fine wine,
and a few tumblers of Irish mountain dew, which
had never seen the face of an exciseman.    We left LA&E  HURON.
Mr. Johnston's at dusk; but he crossed over with
us, and we spent together another night of social
and intellectual enjoyment.
August 27th. Embarked at seven a.m., and
hid adieu to the worthy Hibernian chieftain of
St. Mary's, Entered Lake Huron with a stiff
breeze, which kept up during the greater part of
itbe day, with rain at intervals. We were obliged to
land at five p. m., owing to the increasing violence
of the gale. Passed a number of islands, for every
1$ie of which the Canadians have peculiar names.
IFhe part of the lake through which we passed this
day was rather narrow, the shores on each side
being visible.    Country low, and thickly wooded.
August 28th. Left our encampment at daybreak with a fair wind, shortly after which the
lake suddenly widens, and we' quickly lost sight
of the southern shore. At noon passed the traverse
opposite Michillimackana, and at two passed the
River de Tresallons. Encamped late on an island.
Several smart showers during the day. Country
low and woody.
August 29th.    Set off at five a. m.    Passed a
number of islands during the day.   They were
vol. ii. u B06 ISLANDS.
generally rocky, and covered with pine, birch,
dwarf oak, and immense quantities of the Indiam
weed called Sacacommis. Encamped at six p. m.
on an island, in company with a brigade of teeded
canoes, under the cffiKrge of a guide named Guil-
laume d'Eau. Weather excessively sultry, with
slight rain.
August 30th. Started at four a.m. .^Passed
nearly as many islands as yesterday, and much of
the same appearance. The shore of the main land
still low and rocky, with a few handsome spots.
Sultfy weather and light breezes. Eieamped on
an island at seven p. m.
August 31st. Embarked atTFour. Charming
weather alWay. Seme of the islands we passed
were rather long and fertile. The Korlh shore of
the lake Sip. low, but during the day we observed
a few ridges of rather high hills some distance in
the interior. Encamped at half past five at the
ifctrahee of Riviere des"v0^n£ais, at which place
we quitted Lake Hiiroir, efon our way to the
Ottawa. The country about the mouth of the
ri^fer is rather low and swampy.
Septeri-ber 1-st.    At %alf pasfrrfbur a. m. com- FRANCISCAN   MISSIONARY. 307
meneed ascending the fHfeiere des Francais; and
at seven passed a rapid called «La Petite Fauci-He;
at which we were obliged to carry the greater
part of the lading. At half past three p. m.
came to a small cascade a few-feet perpendicular,
called-^he Portage de Recollet, previous-to which
we-passed several small rapids, 'ilhe'Canadians
say this portage obtained its present name In consequence ef a ^Franciscan i friar \ having made -his
way 4o it as a missionary, for ^the purpose of converting the 'Indians, during the period that the
French'had possession of Canada_f^e lived to an
old age, and during his last illness was attended
fey the natives ; who, after-hisdeath, deposited his
remains in a grave behind his solitary hut.-®uring
the remainder^#f the day the-river*was uninterrupted by any rapids; and we encamped, at six
p. M., close to a few lodges of Indians. Weather
very sultry all day.
- September 2nd. Embarked at half past three.
PassecLseveral small rapids in the morning. At
eight made'the1 Portage de Parisien, and at eleven
passed the three discharges of La Grande* Faueilie,
Les'Pins, and Portage des Pins, all tshort.    The 308
banks of the river thickly wooded, with a rocky
soil. At four p. m. made the Portage de Chau-
diere, at the head of the river, where it takes its
rise from Lake Nipising. Encamped at five, a
short distance in the lake. Passed a free trader
named La Ronde, on his way to Montreal, in a
canoe with fourteen packs of beaver, and nearly
as many children.
September 3rd. Started at two a.m., with
calm weather, which continued until we got about
half-way over the Grande Traverse, when we were
struck by a hard squall, which nearly filled our
canoes. At ten a.m. arrived at a snug house
belonging to Mr. La Ronde's son, at which we
breakfasted. Here we left Lake Nipising, and
entered a small stream which falls into it, and
which is called La Petite Riviere. Its banks are
low, with a rich soil, and well wooded. About
two miles up the river made rather a long portage
called La Vase, above which j a dam has been
constructed, for the purpose o§ keeping some
water in the channel, which at this place isjlittle
better than a ditch. We floated the canoes
through this canal about two miles, when weif/vere mosquitoes. 309
compelled to stop and make another pretty long
portage, named the Middle Vase, at the end of
which we encamped.
£i$&ptember 4th. Rose at five a. m., after suffering the most dreadful torments all night from the
combined attacks of the mosquitoes and sand-flies,
which insinuated themselves through the smallest
aperture of the tent, and fastened their infernal
fangs on every part of our bodies, the neck, cheeks,
and forehead in particular. At nine a. m. made
another portage, called the Last Vase. It is a
mile and a half in length, full of fine trees, with
an excellent road, and a rich black soil. From the
Middle Vase to this there is a narrow communication by water, sufficiently large to float a canoe
and no more. Remained encamped at the end of
iHiM_ortage all day, in consequence of heavy rain,
^ ffie^fthe^anoes wanting repairs.
September 5th. Embarked at half past four a. m.,
and crossed a small lake about four hundred yard's
wide, at the end of which we made the Decharge
de Sable. From this we had a clear navigation of
four leagues, which brought us to the Decharge de
la Tortue. At half past ten, made a portage called 310
route continued.
Mamvasise de la Musi^iff^the road of IvKiefris extremely awkward &nd dangerous. A few years
before, a man while carrying a canoe fell against
a large rock, by which his head w&s completely
severed from his body. His j|_Mve iss? in the middle
of the pathway. At half past twelve, made- the-
portage deS Pins de la Musiqrae*; and at half pafet
four tirade another portage called Les Talons, the?
roa.d id which is bad and rocky, and we were obliged to repair the canoesr after crossing it. Within
a few ininutes of six, made the Decharge de fe_
Carpe^ and at half past seven, passed another
decharge named La Prairie, at the erid of whiefa
we encamped.
The batiks of this river at&geherally high; rocky,
and thickly Wooded with pine, ash, beech, and
poplar. Thfe stream itself is narfovir, and, except
where it is interrupted by cascades or rafridfe the
current moves dh very sluggishly. The reflection
of the dark foliage of the trees gives the place a
gloomy appearahee-i which m une^ivened by the
sight of game, or the.warbling of a single bird.
September 6th. Retrained until half past six
repairing the canoes, after which we embarked. OTTAWA   RIVER.
At nine arrived at a pretty high fall, called the
Portage des Paresseux, the view from which is
highly picturesque. At half past ten, passed a
small decharge, called Les Epingles, and at noon
made the D6charge des Grosses Roches. At two,
passed the D6charge du Campion ; at three, the
•Decharge des Roses ; and at seven, the Portage du
Plein Champ, at the end of which we encamped.
The river this day appeared a little wider, but the
general aspect of the country did not differ from
that described yesterday.
- September 7th. Embarked at six a. p.; passed
a few rapids, and at seven arrived at the termination of the river where it falls into the Ottawa,
called by the Canadians La Grande Riviere. Remained here the rest of the day, for the loaded
canoes behind. A range of high hills are visible
on. the north side of the Ottawa, which extend
dawmto the Labrador coast.
September 8th. Mr. Fletcher took the sun's
altitude at noon, and determined this place to be
in latitude 46° 19' N. exactly the same as the
mouth of the Columbia; and the longitu4e about
80° West.     Did  not   embark   until   four p. m.
Passed two rapids, in one of which we partly
unloaded, and encamped at five to wait for the
canoes. The banks of the Ottawa, as far as we
have proceeded, are high, the soil gravelly, and
the wood principally pine and birch. Had very
fine weather all day.
September 9th. Set off at half past five a. m.
Unloaded part of our packages at Les Batteries de
Matawan and L'Eveillee; and took out all our
loading at the Trou and Les Deux Rivieres, at the
foot of which latter place we encamped. These
are all large rapids, and the two latter are dangerous. During the day we passed some very
fine low bottoms, admirably adapted for building
on, and completely sheltered by the hills in their
rear. Wood and soil same as yesterday, and the
current of the river generally rapids
September 10th. It rained hard all night,.
Remained until eight a. m., repairing the canoes.
At half past ten arrived at the great rapid called
Le Rocher Capitaine, at which we were obliged
to unload, and carry the goods by a long portage.
Encamped, at five, at a handsome spot called the
Pointe aux Chenes, from the great quantity of oak VEGETATION.
trees growing on it. It is one of the prettiest
situations I have ever seen for a village.
September 11th. Embarked at five a.m., in
a thick fog. At seven arrived at a dangerous rapid
called the Joachim, at which we were obliged to
unload and carry the canoes and packs over a
very bad portage, which we finished at half past
eight. About an hour after came to another equally
dangerous rapid called the Second Joachim, where
we also unloaded, and finished the portage at a
quarter past eleven. Here we breakfasted,
.and stopped to gum and repair the canoes. We
walked between the two portages, and passed a
small inland lake about a furlong in breadth.
Continued on at one p. m., and had no farther
obstructions in the river during the day. Encamped at seven in a pretty little bay. The banks
of the Ottawa this day appeared to be well supplied with excellent pine, birch, and other trees.
The oak had a dwarfish appearance, and very little underwood was visible; a circumstance which
must materially facilitate the location of new
September 12th.    Embarked at half past two
mmm 314
a.m. At seven passed a rapid caHed the Culbufce,
at which we paetly? unloaded. Within a few
minutes of nine passed another, called Les Allu-
mettes, where also we were obliged to earry part
of our lading. At two p. be. arrived at a trading*-
po_st called Fort Coulonge, in charge of a worthy
substantial old soul, caBed, from his age andi
weight, Alderman Godim He gave us a-repast of
the best he had, which was no. great things; but
as he was unable to supply us with any provisions
for; the use of the men, we took our leave of him
at sun-set, and drove down the current all night,
which, being free from rapids, exposed us to no
great danger. The poor voyageurs, who were m
a starving condition, kept up les chansons d Taviron
until day^break, to divert their hunger.
September 13th. At six a.m. arrived at the
r-apid of the Grand Calumet, where we had to make
a portage of our canoes and baggage, which was
not completed until a quarter past eleven. This
portage is very long, but the pathway is excellent.
At twelve passed a rapid called Tergir, at which
we partly unloaded j and in less than an hour
afterwards came to the Portage de la Montagne, DiOrsmous navigation. 315
whtehfwe finished at half past one. Road exee_f-
feht. Some time after we __hot down a very
dangerous rapid caHed Du Sable, without u&load-
i»g- Our canoes" touched the rocks? Several Mnaesr
arid sflstairied ccmsNfegrable isjury. At half past
four made Portage du Fort, rather short; and sefe
siix esesfepfed at the entrance of Lse des Chats.
We walked several miles on' each bank during
the day, arid observed the predominant timber
to be stately pine, and very fine cedar.  •
September 14th. The Ottawa here forms a lake,
whiehthe Canadians, as I ha^ftfaeady ^eiitioned,
called Lac des Chats, but why I could not learn.
The shores of the lake are father low, and the
trees much smaller than those higher up. We
embarked at four a. m., and crossed the lake at
half past ten; after which we entered a number of
dangerous and intricate channals? formed by several
rocky islands, through which we had the greatest
difficulty in passing, from a combination of rocks,
snags, &d. On extricating ourselves from this
labyrmth, we arrived at Portage des Chats, which
we passed at noon. At the end of this portage
we found a Mr. Hodgeson settled,, who had for-
Ml 316
merly been a clerk in the service of the Hudsoii's-
Bay Company. The only refreshment he could
afford to our half-starved men, was a meal of potatoes and butter. Finding nothing very attractive
about this solitary settlement, we lost no time in
resuming our journey.
Encountered no other rapids during the day, and
at nine p. m. arrived at the house of an American
back-woodsman, who with his family had retired
to rest. It was a miserable smoky dwelling, and
it was no easy task to rouse them from a loft in
which their dormitory was situated. The master
of the family at length made his appearance^
which was highly unprepossessing. On his head
he wore an old bear-skin cap, and over his
shoulders was thrown a kind of half-worn deerskin covering. He was upwards of six feet in height,
with square shoulders, piercing grey eyes, largefl
bushy whiskers, a smoke-dried countenance, and
a beard which for months had not felt a razor.  J
The salutation of this uncouth savage gave us no
favourable idea of his hospitality. On opening the
door he roared out in a sharp nasal accent, " D—n
and h—t ye, what do ye want?   Why do ye FORCED   CONTRIBUTION. 317
make sich a d n noise at this hour of the
night, ye d—d French rascals ?"
§| We are hungry, and want something to eat." .
" I have none to give,—so be off."
" But we will pay you for it in hard dollars."*
" B—t me if I care.-^-I have nothing,—so don't
trouble me any more."
The Canadians however having assured us that
he was generally well supplied with provisions, we
told him we should forthwith institute a search,
and take by force that which he refused for money.
|This threat induced the boor to dislodge from a
large cupboard, some cold meat, dried fish, and
Indian corn, which with a mess pf potatoes
served to blunt the keen edge of our appetite for
the night.
September 15th. Started at day-break. At
half past seven passed a large log-house occupied
by several Americans, from whom the men obtained corn and fish enough for a meal. At half
past nine arrived at Portage des Chenes, where
• M'Neill, Wentzel and I obtained, a couple of days before,
sixty dollars from Mr. Fletcher, who had gone on ahead for
Montreal. ■
9ve o%taf»ed aai*exGellent>breakfastat'two^illisggI
ahead in the house of Mr. M'Collum, & native
of *Prince Edwaril%-Island, from which place he
had lately removed to the banks of the Ottawa,
where'he setup a small tavern,^h6*first I had seen
fornix years.
A short distance below this^ffi&rtage the nswi${
Ration is interi*L£$e1l^y*tfee|F^
diere, at which the village^ UMi^ssituated. We
walked ^litherffrom M'Oollum's. $hi» settlement
appeared to be in a thriving condition,<and, under
thesuperintef-dence of its enterprising proprietor
Mri. Wright, bids fair to be a place of considerable
importance. ^We observed a few comfortable
houses; anc_*his shop, the only one in the village
of any respectability, was tastefully ornamented
by a handsome steeple. No provisions could be
obtained8 for love or money, and, with^the exception e^some bad>i*ttm, our *&©n*eould procure no
refreshment of any description. T?he lorops jprn*,
mised to be very^_feim4ant, but a premature frost
had in a great degree injured them. The potatoes
were very large, jfeut quite moist, which, some of
the inhabitants told me, is their general character-
istic both?da the banks of the St^towrence and
the Ottawa. The soil near the shore is rocky and
barren, but a short ^distance in the interior it is
rich and highly productive. Rafting is the prkH>
cipal business of the*settlers; and white oak, red
and white pine, the chief timber sent downwards.
Hpitwithstanding the immense distance these
rafts 'feve to descend, and the number of hands
employed in hewing the f jfermber, the busasiss is
tolerably profitable.
I 'Twenty-two families ®f emigrants, chiefly Irish
and Scotch, had reached Hull a short time previous
to C4ir^airhs_tl. Theyrwei?e stationed in a range of
small miserable tete, and appeared to be in a state
of great destitution. The pottion of land which
each expected had not been yet dHocated, and the
poor creatures complained with apparent justice
of the grossrwant of attention on $he part of those
whose duty it was to supeMieafd ^h^tr: location.
A fewrdodges^of Indians were iMso here. 4Fhe
men assisted our voyageurs in carrying the pa&ks
across the portage ; and^heir s^ttaws, who were
poor and dirty, made certain advances, whfeh, to
judge .by their amatory glances,-some   of^e
lllll 320
Canadians   perfectly   understood   without   any
lingual explanation.
The navigation of the Ottawa, at this place, is
obstructed by a line of bold, dark-looking rocks,
which stretch across the river, and over which the
descending torrent, after rushing with headlong
fury, and forming a beautifully extended prismatic
curtain, falls into a foaming ctaldron, the frightful
ebullition of which requires no small degree of
nerve to survey with composure.
We remained this evening at Hull, and but
for the hospitable attention we received from
a Mr: Downes, who was in the employment of
Mr. Wright, we should not have imagined our-
selveshsfithin the preeincts of civilisation.
September 16th. It rained hard during the •
morning, which delayed our departure until nine
o'clock. Passed a number of poor straggling
huts some distance below Hull, inhabited by some
of the newly arrived settlers. At eleven p. m.
passed the River Rideau, which falls into the
Ottawa over a high perpendicular rock, and forms
a beautiful and picturesque cascade. This river,
I understand, runs   through a fruitful   district, DANGEROUS   RAPID. 321
which is thickly settled, chiefly by Scotch emigrants. A few miles lower down passed another
stream called La Riviere Blanche, near the mouth
of which there is a thriving village. During the
day we observed several farms thinly scattered
along the banks, the occupants of which were
very reluctant in parting with any of their provisions. Had a smooth steady current all day,
uninterrupted by rapids. The appearance of the
country was low, and tolerably well wooded; but
the Canadians say that, in high water, some of the
flat bottoms are inundated. At nine p. m. put
ashore at a farm-house, where we procured a
little addition to our scanty supply for supper.
As the weather was fine, and the navigation free
from danger, we re-embarked at eleven p. m.,
and drove gently down the current all night.
September 17th. At half past eight a. m. we
arrived at the great rapid called Le Long Sault,
the navigation of which is so dangerous, that
guides reside at the place for the special purpose
of conducting the canoes through it. While we
were waiting for our pilot, we asked one of the
kabitans where we could obtain a good breakfast ?
vol. ii. | x 7-§§«?
AN agreeable mistake.
He pointed to a handsome house on an eminence
above the rapid, and merely said "la!" A few
seconds brought us to the door, which was opened
by a ruddy blue-eyed damsel, who conducted us
to the parlour. We told her we wished to see her
master or mistress immediately, upon which she
curtsied obedience and withdrew.
From the windows of this apartment we had an
extensive and picturesque view of hills, forests,
corn-fields, farm-houses, and gardens ; while close
to the foot of the hill the majestic Ottawa rolled
its turbulent waters over a mass of large detached
rocks upwards of two miles in extent. The parlour
itself was the beau idtal of elegance and comfort.
The breakfast-table was partly laid, and a polished
copper tea-kettle simpered most harmoniously on
a bright brass footman, which was suspended from
the shining bars of a Rumford grate.
While we were indulging by anticipation in the
pleasures of a substantial dejeune, the door opened,
and a female en dishabille, of prepossessing appearance, entered. A large bunch of keys in her
hand announced her domestic supremacy. She
saluted us in the most cordial and friendly manner* an agreeable mistake.
and begged to know if we had come from the interior ?    Having  replied in  the  affirmative,   she
||f* You are Nor-Westers I presume, gentlemen V
"Yes, Madam," said Wentzel, " and have been
travelling all night in search of a breakfast, which
one of the habitans told us we could get here."—
"You shall have the best the house affords,"
was the reply.
" Hot rolls?"—" Yes."
ft Fresh eggs ?"—" Most decidedly."
"A broiled clhop?"—" I'll try."
" And do you hear me, landlady/' said M'Neill.*
as she was quitting the room; " This is a sharp
motning,— could we get a whet out of Boniface's
own bottle?" To this a favourable answer was
I also returned, and away she flew to comply with
our various requisitions.
In a few minutes Marguerite made her appearance, carrying a large tray furnished with the hot
rolls, fresh eggs, broiled chops, and the wheti
She was followed by her mistress, who was accompanied by a middle-aged gentleman in his
dressing-gown. m
UNEXPECTED discovery.
■ ••      ;
" You are welcome,^gentlemen," said he; " Ha!
my dear Wentzel, is this you ? I'm delighted to
see you.    How did you find me out ?"
" Find you out," replied Wentzel, % Why, my
dear Grant, can this be your house ?" % Certainly," said he; " and permit me to introduce
you, gentlemen, to Mrs. Grant."
We all began to stammer out excuses for our
apparent rudeness, and explained the trick which
the Tony Lumpkin of the village had played on
us. Mrs. Grant laughed heartily at our confusion,
and graciously sealed our pardon by pledging us
in a flowing bowl of refreshing Hyson.
Mr. Grant had been formerly a member of the
North-West Company, and while in the Indian
country had been associated with Wentzel in many
hazardous excursions. In short, they were old
friends, and were naturally overjoyed at their
unexpected meeting, the pleasure of which was
much heightened by the ludicrous mistake that
led to it. At 11 o'clock, we ttiok leave of our
worthy host and his amiable lady; and in less
than two hours arrived at the foot of Le Long Sault,
which is one of the longest and most dangerous ROUTE   CONTINUED.
rapids in the interior. Here we met another retired
partner of the North-West Company, Mr. John
M'Donald, who insisted on our visiting his house.
An excellent dinner was quickly prepared, during
the demolition of which we cracked half a dozen
of Mr. Mac's prime Madeira. This gentleman _
was a strict Roman Catholic, and, during his residence in the Indian country, was distinguished by
the Canadians from others of the same name by
the title of Le Pritre (Priest), owing to the rigid
manner in which he made his men adhere to the
various fasts of the Catholic church; a proof of
orthodoxy with which the great majority of them
would have gladly dispensed. From this circum-
. stance, joined to his general character among the
voyageurs, I was led to expect in Mr. M'Donald
a second St. Francis; but in lieu of the austere
monk, we saw in the retired trader a cheerful,
healthy, and contented old man—a proof, if any
were wanting, that true piety and social gaiety are
not incompatible. S|yPlP9
At five p. m. we took our leave of the hospitable
Pritre, who anxiously pressed us to spend the
night at his house; an invitation which our ar- 326
rangements precluded us from accepting. Passed
several handsome farms during the evening; and
after night-fall had set in, we arrived at the entrance of Riviere a la Graisse, on the banks of
which a long straggling village is situated. Having seen the men properly accommodated, we left
them at the mouth of the river, and proceeded
towards the village, in which, after some inquiry*
I found an old Columbian friend, named Donald
M'Gillis, comfortably settled. He quickly collected a few rustic bon vivans to greet our arrival,
and the night was far advanced in festive mirth
before our good-natured host permitted us to throw
our jaded bodies on a bed.
Sept. 18th. We did not rise till ten this mom*
ing, at which time some of the men insisted on
awakening us. They told us that two of the
loadedi canoes which stopped to repair below the
Sault the evening before, had not yet arrived. We
therefore told them to wait a couple of hours
longer, at the expiration of which, if they did not
arrive, we should proceed. Took a late breakfast,
shortly after which we bade farewell to my friend
M'Gillis, who accompanied us to the beach. Seeing EXCELLENT   TAVERN.
ho appearance of the two canoes, we ordered our
men to make little use of the paddles; and as the
day was remarkably fine, after descending a few
miles, Wentzel, M'Neill, and I landed, and proceeded seven or eight miles on a good road running parallel with the river, until we arrived at
an excellent tavern kept by a curious and eccentric^ person named Snyder, a German by birth,
at which place we determined to pass the night.
We therefore sent orders to the canoes to encamp
before the tavern; and, having inquired what we
could obtain for dinner, were presented with a bill
of fare that would not have derogated from the
credit of the first inn in Eihgland. It was not,
however, like many of those documents—all show
and no substance: the German put nothing on
paper, that he was not prepared to put on the
table; and in less than an hour after our orders
were given, the dinner was served up in a style of
neatness and even elegance which I have seldom
seen surpassed in any house of public entertainment. Wl^t^S
- After dinner we invited the old man to join us.
He was a most entertaining companion.    Fame
sfs$alJ 328
had celebrated him as a first-rate narrator of
anecdotes, and the report we found was not ex*
aggerated. His conversation was a complete
antidote to ennui, and effectually checked any
propensities we might have had to sleep. The
North-Westers, he said, were the founders of
his fortune: they always stopped at his house
in their journeys to and from the interior, and, no
matter how other customers might fare, a Nor-
Wester should always have the best bed and bottle
in his house. He kept his word,—but we could
not keep our beds. Five months continued sleeping on the hard ground had so vitiated our taste
for comfort, that we in vain endeavoured to compose ourselves to rest; and, after suffering the
torments of luxury for a couple of hours, were
obliged to order the beds to be removed, after
which we slept tolerably well on the mat-
September 19th. Partook of an early breakfast
with the worthy old Rhinelander, immediately
after which we embarked. Some distance below
Snyder's we entered the Lake of the Two Mountains, which is formed by the extension of the ROUTE   CONTINUED. 329 \
Ottawa. Stopped at a village on the western
shore of the lake, from which it derives its name.
The principal inhabitants of this place are Iroquois
Indians, a small remnant of that once powerful
tribe. They are all Roman Catholics,, and have
a plain neat church. Here I also found another
old friend from the Columbia, Mr. Pillet, with
whom we stopped a couple of hours. He had
a snug farm, a comfortable house, a handsome
wife, and two pretty children, and altogether appeared to be in happy circumstances.
The two canoes which had been so long in the
rear overtook us here, and we continued on together the remainder of. the day. On passing the
village of St. Anne's we were hailed by Mr.
Daniel M'Kenzie, one of the senior proprietors of
the North-West Company, for whom I had some
letters. We therefore put ashore, and found with
him Messrs. Cameron and Sayers, against whom
certain charges had been preferred by some members of the Hudson's-Bay Company, relative to
the outrages in the interior, the result of which it
was deemed prudent they should abide at this
retired village.   Remained a few hours with those 330
gentlemen, with whom we took a luncheon ; after
which we resumed our voyage.
The country from Riviere a la Graisse to Snyder's, and from thence to St. Anne?s, is highly
cultivated, well stocked with farms and thriving
villages, and is rich in scenery of the most beautiful and romantic description.
At four p.m. arrived at the termination of the
Ottawa, where it forms a junction.with the Great
St. Lawrence, down which we continued until
six, when we arrived at the village of La Chine,
at which place canoe-voyaging terminates with
the parties homeward-bound, and commences
with those destined for the interior.
After some delay we procured a caliche sufficiently large to hold Wentzel, M'Neill, and myself.
We next purchased, at a neighbouring auberge, a
keg of rum, which we presented as a valedictory
allowance to our voyageurs, and, having shook each
man cordially by the hand, drove off amidst their
benedictions, for Montreal, in which city we arrived at half past nine p. m., at Clamp's Coffee-
House in Capital Street, after a journey of ^ve
months and three days from the Pacific Ocean. , _ INHABITANTS   OF   CANADA. 331
Sketches of the Canadian Voyageurs-—Anecdote of La Liberte
—The Freemen, or Trappers—The Half-breeds—Anecdote
—Retired Partners —Josephine—Francaise—'■Amusing Let-
ter—Iroquois Indians—Anecdote.
There are three descriptions of men in the Com^
pany's employment, namely:—the white Canadians, the Half-breeds, and the Iroquois Indians.
A few words respecting each class may not be
uninteresting to the general reader. The first are
the descendants of the original French settlers
They are generally engaged for five years; and, at
the period I speak of, the foreman and steersman
of each canoe received one thousand livres per
annum, the middlemen six hundred, with an
equipment, which means a suit of clothes and  a
e"4'ift «M
large carrot of tobacco annually. The number of
men in each canoe varies, according to its size,
from six to ten. The strongest and most expert
are employed in the bow and stern; for upon
their skilful management in conducting the vessel
through the dangerous rapids, the safety of the
crew chiefly depends. Their rations at first view
may appear enormous. Each man is allowed
eight pounds of solid meat per diem, such as buffalo, deer, horse, &c, and ten pounds if there be
bone in it. In the autumnal months, in lieu of
meat, each man receives two large geese, or four
ducks. They are supplied with fish in the same
proportion. It must, however, be recollected that
these rations are unacompanied by bread, biscuit,
potatoes, or, in fact, by vegetables of any description. In some of our journeys up the Columbia
they were allowed pork and rice; and on particular occasions, such as wet weather, or making
a long portage, they received a glass of rum.
At Christmas and New-year they are served out
with flour to make cakes or puddings, and each
man receives half a pint of rum. This they call a
regale, and they are particularly grateful for it. CHARACTER   OF   THE   CANADIANS.
With no rent to pay, or provisions to purchase,
it may be thought these men save the greater part
of their wages. Such, however, is not the fact.
There is not perhaps in the world a more thoughtless or improvident race of people than the Canadian voyageurs. Every article of extra clothing
or finery which they want must be obtained from
the Company's stores ; and as there is no second
shop at which to apply, prices immeasurably beyond the value are charged for the various articles
they purchase. In this manner, between the expenses attending their Indian wives, and children,
the purchasing of horses, gambling, &c, the wages
of years are dissipated.
I know of no people capable of enduring so
much hard labour as the Canadians, or so submissive to superiors. In voyages of six months'
duration, during which
" Sunday shines, no Sabbatk-day to them,"
they commence at day-break, and from thence to
night-fall hard paddling and carrying goods occupy their time without intermission. They are
remarkably good-natured and affectionate to each
mttm 334
other, and it is no uncommon thing to hear one
man address his comrade as "mon frere," or "mm
cousin," without any degree of consanguinity existing between them. The enlivening anecdote, or
la chanson h Vaviron, by turns softens down the
severity of their laborious duties, in the midst of
which they uniformly display the same elasticity of
spirits and gaieth de cecur by which their vivacious
French ancestors were so much distinguished. It
is laughable to hear the nominal distinctions they
are obliged to adopt in reference to many of the
partners and clerks, who have the same surname.
There are Mr. Mackenzie, le rouge; Mr. Mackenzie, le blanc; Mr. Mackenzie, le borgne; Mr.
Mackenzie, le picoti; Mr. M'Donald, le grand;
Mr. M'Donald, le pritre; Mr. M'Donald, le bras
crocke; and so on, according to the colour of the
hair, the size, or other personal peculiarity of each
Mr. Shaw, one of the agents, had passed many
years in the interior, and was by the voyageurs
called Monsieur Le Chat. On quitting the Indian
country -he married a Canadian lady, by whom he
had several children.    Some years-after this event, LAUGHABLE   INCIDENT.
one of his old foremen, -named Louis La Liberie,
went to Montreal to spend the winter. He had
heard of his old bourgeois* marriage, and was anxious
to see him. Mr. Shaw was walking on the Champ
de Mars with a couple of officers, when La Libert^
spied him. He immediately ran up, and seizing
him by both hands, began as follows :—" Ah, mon
cher Monsieur le Chat, comment vous portez-vousV
"Tres bien, Louison." "Et comment se porte Madame
la Chattel" "Bien, bien; Louison, elle est tres
bien."—" Et tous ks petits Chatons?" This was
too much for Mr. Shaw, who answered shortly
that kittens and all were well, and, telling him to
caU at his house, turned away with his military
friends, leaving the Catechetical Louison quite
astonished at the abruptness of his departure.
La Libert^ was an extraordinary old man; he
had several fine daughters by an Indian wife,
and became father-in-law to three proprietors.
He was therefore proud of his connexions, and,
feeling indignant at Mr. Shaw's supposed cavalier
treatment, adopted an eccentric method of manifesting his resentment. He ordered a cOat to be
made of fine green cloth, with silver buttons, a 336
waistcoat of crimson velvet, back and front, (like
the sailor at Portsmouth,) with cornelian buttons,
braided sky-blue pantaloons, Hessian boots with
gold tassels and silver heels, a hat, feathers, and
silk sash ; and thus accoutred, with a long calumet
in his right hand, and a splendidly ornamented
smoking-bag in his left, he proceeded to the
Champ de Mars, during a regimental parade, and
observing Mr. Shaw walking in company with
some ladies and gentlemen, he vociferated, " Ha
ha, Monsieur le Chat, voyez ma veste, voila les bou-
tons ! • En avez-vous de mime ? Ha, ha, Monsieur le
Chat, regardez mes bottes—je suis ferri dL argent.
Je suis le beau-pere de Monsieur M(Dinnill; 1
Monsieur Mackenzie est mon gendre; etje me sacre
de tous les Chats, et de toutes ks Chattes!" Some of
his friends, who previous to his leaving home
observed him drinking a quantity of rum, followed
him to the parade ground, and with much difficulty at length succeeded in forcing him away,
while the poor old man every now and then lifted
up a leg, and dared any Shaw, or officer on the
ground, to show silver heels to his boots!
The. dress of a voyageur generally consists of a DRESS   OF   THE   CANADIANS.
capot made out of a blanket, with leather or cloth
trowsers, mocassins, a striped cotton shirt, and
a hat or fur cap. They seldom annoy themselves
with a waistcoat; and in the summer season their
necks are generally exposed. They all wear belts
of variegated worsted, from which their knives,
smoking-bags, &c. are suspended. They enjoy
good health, and, with the exception of occasional attacks of rheumatism, are seldom afflicted
with disease. The principal trading establishments
are supplied with well-assorted medicine-chests
containing books of directions, lancets, &c. An
assortment of the more simple medicines is made
up for each out-post; and as each" clerk must
learn how to bleed, we generally manage, between low diet, salts, castor-oil, opodeldoc, friar's-
balsam and phlebotomy, to preserve their health
unimpaired, and cure any common accident which
may befal them.
The Canadians are not much inclined to Indian
warfare. This, however, does not proceed from
any want of courage; for in the late short war
with the United States they conducted themselves
with eminent bravery.   A local corps, composed of
;;■!■;: ■;>""'. 338
the officers and men of the North-West Company,
was raised by the Honourable William M'Gillivray. His son Mr. Joseph M'Gillivray, as I have
mentioned elsewhere, was an officer in it; and
he gave us some laughable details relative to the
conduct of the privates in the campaign in which
he was engaged. When on duty in company with
the regular forces or the militia they were guilty
of much insubordination, and it was quite impos-
■ sible to make them amenable to military law.
They generally came on parade with a pipe in their
mouths and their rations of pork and bread stuck
on their bayonets. On seeing an officer, whether
general, colonel, or subaltern, they took off their
hats and made a low bow, with the common salutation of Bon jour, Monsieur le Giniral, or le
Colonel, as the case might be, and, if they happened to know that the officer was married, never
failed to inquire after the health of Madame et
les enfans. On parade they talked incessantly,
called each other ' pork eaters,' quarrelled about
their rations, wished they were back in the
Indian country agaa&^&c., and when called to
order by their officers  and   told to hold their CANADIAN   VOLUNTEERS. 3iB
tongues, one or more would reply, 8 Ah, dear
captain, let us off as quick as you can ; some of
us have not yet breakfasted, and it's upwards of
an hour since I had a smoke." If the officer was
a North-Wester he generally told them to have
patience, and he would give them their congS tout
de suite. In moments when danger ought to have
produced a little steadiness, they completely set
discipline at defiance, and the volatile volunteer
broke out into all the unrestrained mirth and anti-
military familiarity of the thoughtless voyageur.
In vain the subaltern winked, in vain the captain
threatened, in vain the colonel frowned; neither
winks, threats or frowns could restrain the vivacious laugh, silence the noisy tongue, or compose
the ever changing features into any thing like
military seriousness.
These repeated infractions of the code ynilitnife
subjected many of them to temporary <50iifine-
ment; but as night approached, if the sentinel
was a voyageur, he told the prisoner to " alkr
coucher avec sa femme, et retourner k lendemain de
bonne keure." This friendly advice was immediately followed, and they had always the honour 340
to return according to promise. They could not be
got to wear stocks; and such as did not use cravats
came on parade with naked necks, and very often
with rough beards. In this condition they presented a curious contrast to the unchangeable
countenances and well-drilled movements of the
British soldiery, with whom they occasionally did
duty. Notwithstanding these peculiarities the
voyageurs were excellent partisans, and, from their
superior knowledge of the country, were able to
render material service during the war. They had
great confidence in their officers, particularly their
colonel, Mr. M'Gillivray, whose influence frequently saved them from the punishment to which
their repeated breaches of discipline subjected them.
There are scattered throughout the North-West
territories a few dozen Canadian trappers called
free-men. These individuals were formerly engaged as voyageurs in the Company's service, and
preferred, after the termination of their respective
engagements, to remain in the Indian country
rather than returns to Canada. They have generally Indian families, and from their peculiar occupation lead a wandering life. THE   HALF-BREEDS.   , 341
They must bring the produce of their hunts to
the Company's posts, when they receive payment in goods according to a regulated tariff, or
the value in money is placed to their credit, and
paid on their arrival in Montreal. From their
constant exposure to the sun, these men are as
irretrievably bronzed as the native Indians, from
whom, owing to their long separation from their
countrymen, they differ but little either in their
habits or modes of living. Some of them have
large bands of horses; and, I understand, a plurality of wives is not unfrequent among them !
This race is now numerous throughout the Indian country; particularly on the east side of, the
Rocky ■ Mountains. Owing to. the recent arrival
of white people at the Columbia, they are comparatively few on the western side. The sons of
the voyageurs, on attaining a proper age, are generally engaged in the Company's service. They are
called Les Bois Brules—but why, it is difficult to
ascertain. While they are taught to despise the
traditions of their mothers' tribe, 'no one busies
»M 342
himself in unfolding to them the divine truths of
Christianity, and the loose manners of their fathers
are but ill calculated to impress them with any
great respect for the ties of morality. It is therefore not surprising, that when precept is silent,
and parental example vicious, they should exhibit
conduct at variance with the relations of civilised
life. They are fond of ardent spirits, and are
much addicted to swearing : while the abominable
custom of Indian mothers in talking in the most
undisguised manner before their children of sexual
intercourse, creates a grossness of ideas with regard to female purity, which may account in a
great degree for their carelessness on that head.
They are good canoe-men, and excellent hunters, remarkably active either on horseback or on
foot; brave, daring, rather passionate, and, while
they possess all the vivacity of their father, they
at rimes manifest a slight symptom of Indian
ferocity; this however is only evinced when any
insulting allusion is made to their mixed origin.
They are open-hearted and generous, practise
little cunning, detest hypocrisy; and while they
are determined not to submit quietly to a wrong, HALF-BREED   WOMEN.
are extremely cautious against giving any unnecessary cause of offence.
The proprietors generally send their sons to
Canada or England for education. They have a
wonderful aptitude for learning, and in a short
time attain a facility in writing and speaking both
French and English that is quite astonishing.
Their manners are naturally and unaffectedly
polite, and their conversation displays a degree
of pure, easy, yet impassioned eloquence, seldom
heard in the most refined societies.
On finishing their studies those intended for the
Company's service enter as apprentice-clerks; and
in course of time, according to their talents and
seniority, become proprietors.
The Half-breed women are excellent wives and
mothers, and instances of improper conduct are
rare among them. They are very expert at the
needle, and make coats, trowsers, vests, gowns,
shirts, shoes, &c, in a manner that would astonish our English fashioners. They are kept in
great subjection by their respective lords, to
whom they are slavishly submissive. They are
not allowed to sit at the same table, or indeed at 344
any table, for they still continue the savage
fashion of squatting on the ground at their meals,
i at which their fingers supply the place of forks.
They wear no caps in the house; but in travelling
hats are used instead of bonnets. With the exception of the head their dress resembles that
worn by the Bavarian broom-girls, who of late
years visit our shores.
A gentleman whose name frequently occurs in
these pages, but which it is here unnecessary to
repeat, had, a few years after his arrival in the
Indian country, taken a half-breed girl as a partner. She was the daughter of a Canadian by a
Cree mother, and was very young, handsome, and
possessed such amiable and engaging manners
that he determined to bring her with him on his
first visit to Canada, and legalize their union by
the seal of marriage. She had made some progress in reading, and had two fine boys whom he
sent to Scotland for their education.    In short, no
man was  more happy than young i no
woman was judged more perfect than his interesting wife. He was obliged one year to conduct a
brigade of loaded Canoes from his wintering^post CONJUGAL   INFIDELITY. 345
to Fort William, and during his absence, which
occupied about four months, left his wife behind
He returned sooner than was expected, and,
leaving the canoes some distance below the fort,
arrived there about midnight. The dogs knew
his signal, and he proceeded without any noise or
obstruction to his bed-room, in which he found
his guilty partner in the arms of another. He
instantly drew his dagger, with which he nearly
destroyed the paramour, while she fled to one of
the married men's apartments, in which she remained concealed during the night. Next morning, when his passsion had cooled, he sent for
her, and -addressed her feelingly on her base and
ungrateful conduct. He declared he could not
think of living again with her; that he should
send her to her father, (who was a free trapper,)
and give her all her clothes, trinkets, &c.; and,
should her future life prove correct, promised that
her usual supply of clothes and provisions should
be regularly furnished her. She retired weeping,
and deeply affected. Her misconduct preyed
heavily on her mind ; and in less than four months 346
after joining her father, she was numbered with
the dead.    Her seducer quitted the Company's
service, and Mr. never after took a wife.
Instances of this nature are however of rare occurrence among the Half-breed women; and
taking their numbers and want of education into
consideration, perhaps fewer cases of infidelity
occur among them than among any equal portion
of females in the civilised world.
When a young trader becomes united to an
Indian or half-breed woman he seldom calculates
on a family, and foolishly imagines he can easily
dissolve a connexion which is unsanctioned by the
ceremony of marriage. He is however much deceived. When the period which he had originally
fixed for quitting the Indian country arrives, he
finds that the woman who had been for many
years a faithful partner cannot in a moment be
" whistled off," and " let down the wind to prey
at fortune." Children have grown up about him ;
the natural affection of the father despises the
laws of civilised society,—the patriot sinks in the
parent,—each succeeding year weakens the recollection of home, and of— INDIAN   WIVES. 347
The pleasant fields, travelled so oft
In life's morning march, when his bosom was young;
and in most cases the temporary liaison ends in a
permanent union. Those so circumstanced, on
quitting the Company bring their families to Canada, where they purchase estates, on which they
live in a kind of half Indian, half civilised manner,
constantly smoking their calumet and railing at
the fashionable frivolities of the great world.
When a trader wishes to separate from his Indian wife he generally allows her an annuity, or
gets her comfortably married to one of the voyageurs, who, for a handsome sum, is happy to
become the husband of la Dame d'un Bourgeois. A
retired partner, thus disembarrassed, arrives in
Canada determined to enjoy the pleasures of matrimony with an educated female. His arrival is
quickly known,—his object buzzed about. The
ladies of Montreal and Quebec are immediately
on the qui vive; invitations are numerous, the
wealthy North-Wester is universally admired ;
bronzed features, Oxford-grey hairs, and a digagi
tout ensemble impart peculiar interest to his appearance.    When he speaks, every tongue is silent; 348 MATRIMONY. N
Each moving accident by flood and field
is listened to with breathless attention, and many
a fair auditor unconsciously wishes that
Heaven had made her such a man.
Music follows, then a song; dancing succeeds;
and he retires bewildered in joy, and cursing the
fortune that so long debarred him from the enjoyment of such happiness. His selection is quickly
made, and he at length becomes a legal Benedict.
I believe such unions are generally happy ; but
the censorious, particularly those who remain
faithful to their Indian wives, assert that many
of their old associates have been sadly duped in
their matrimonial speculations.
These envious scandal-mongers alledge that the
unfortunate husband too quickly discovers that a
bright eye, a fair face, a sweet voice, or a tune
.on the piano is rather an empty compensation for
the waste of a hard-earned fortune; while, if he
attempts to remonstrate against his wife's extravagance, his interesting bronze is compared to
copper, the Oxford-grey assumes a whiter hue,
the air digagi degenerates to the air slovenly; ANTI-PROGENITIVENESS. 349
and an English tongue, quite at variance with his
ideas of-conjugal submission, reminds him that
when all the officers in the garrison were dying
for her, she was thrown awray upon a weather-
beaten, rheumatic, dog-eating, moss-chewing barbarian, whose habits were better adapted to the
savage society of Indian squaws, than to that of
ladies of education. The latter gentlemen, however, retaliate on the former by alledging that all
their ill-natured reports are caused by the refusal
of the white ladies to visit or associate with those
brought down from the interior, whom they regard
as little better than savages. There may be some
truth on each side; but on which it preponderates
I am unable to determine.
Very few men wish to have any offspring by
their Indian wives; a sterile woman is therefore
invaluable. They are however scarce, and happy
is the man who succeeds in obtaining one.
One of the clerks on the Columbia, Mr. J ,
was particularly cautioned by his father, who was
an old proprietor, against taking an Indian wife,
lest he should be burdened with children during
his clerkship. The son promised obedience ;. but
being stationed at Kamloops, he learned that an 350
Indian recently drowned had been married five
years, during which period his wife never had a
child. This was a prize not to be lost; and as he
knew the parental prohibition was more levelled
against children than a wife, he lost hb time in
proposing for the young widow. His offers were
liberal, and were gladly accepted by her relations.
From a fancied resemblance to a late celebrated
empress he called her Josephine. The resemblance
however was imperfect, for nine months had
scarcely elapsed when his Josephine brought forth
a thumping swarthy pet. He was in despair—
immediately dissolved the connexion, gave the boy
to one of the men's wives to nurse, and sent home
.the mother with a plentiful stock of clothes and
presents, which quickly obtained her another
husband. Safes.
Mr. J was transferred that autumn from
the Columbia to the Athabasca department^ to
replace a Mr. C who was about quitting the
country, and leaving behind him a handsome Half-
breed wife.    J succeeded him both in bed
and board, with what results wiU appear from the
following extract, of a letter which I subsequently
received from him: A   SECOND  MARRIAGE.
" You are aware of the cause which obliged me
to repudiate my Columbian wife, Josephine. Another great man repudiated his Josephine for the
opposite cause; but, rfimporte, I divorced myself,
and resolved thenceforth never to run the risk of
having another child in the pays sauvage.    On my
arrival here I found my friend C on the point
of quitting Athabasca, and bidding adieu to his
wife, la belle Francaise, one of the finest women
in the department. Her history is rather hors du
commun. Her father was a Canadian guide, and
at the age of fourteen gave her in marriage to an
interpreter with whom she lived three years without children, when she became a widow in consequence of her husband having been killed by
some of the Blood Indians.    Mr. C shortly
after became her husband, and brought her to
Athabasca, where she lived with him eight years
sans enfans. -Pip
" She had lived eleven years, with two husbands,
and her character therefore was firmly established.
She was besides a fine woman, good tempered,
and remarkably ingenious. I therefore determined to secure such a prize, and made my pro-
1 352
posals in due form. She was her own mistress ;
and, happy at catching such a respectable successor to her late lord, she at once consented to
become mine. tr^jl
" Ere a few months passed, symptoms of a most
suspicious nature began to appear; but I could
not imagine my Francaise would turn mother; it
might be dropsy—any thing in fact but pregnancy
—but " list, oh list." On the 1st of April we
became one, (the day was ominous,) and on that
day nine months precisely (it is a melancholy
coincidence of dates) she presented me with a
New-Year's gift in the shape of a man-child!
But the cup of my misfortunes is not yet full.
Owing to some mamillary malformation, she
was unable to supply the brass bantling with
milk, which obliged me to give it to nurse to one
of the ^nen's wives. Apprehensive of having
another, I resolved on a separation, but I knew
not how to break my intention to her. The newborn delight of a mother seemed to absorb all her
faculties. The child is continually in her hands,
she says he's my picture, and, to do the little rascal justice, I think there is a likeness ; but to my Indian tribes. MS
story :—while I was deliberating as to the least
painful mode of conveying my resolution to her,
I received a few days since the astounding intelligence of her being encore enceinte !! Murder !
murder 1 isn't this too bad ? Still I can't blame her,
knowing that I am o.particeps criminis. But, what
will the governor say ? Ay, that *s the question.
In two years, two copper grand-children ; three
I mean, for I understand my Columbian pet is
thriving apace. Why, the old gentleman will destroy me. Was ever a man so tricked ? There 's
the fruits of striving to cheat Nature ; but I must
send him a long, explanatory, apologetical letter,
introduce morality, &c. Francaise may now as
well remain until I hear from him ; and if he interposes no objection, I do not intend to change
her.    I have called my last Hector.    Adieu!"
The third description of men in the Company's
service are the Iroquois, Nipisings, and others
of the native tribes of Canada. These Indians
have been all nearly reclaimed from their original
state of barbarism, and now profess the Roman
Catholic religion. They engage for limited periods in the Company's service as canoe-meii and .
VOL.   II. \  Z    /ftlg 354
hunters, but on lower terms than are usually
allowed to the French Canadians. They are
strong, able-bodied men, good hunters, and well
acquainted with the management of canoes. They
are immoderately attached to the use of ardent
spirits; are rather quarrelsome, revengeful, and
sometimes insubordinate; and during their periods of intoxication the utmost prudence and;
firmness are necessary to check their ferocious
propensities, and confine them within proper
bounds. They are generally employed on the
east side of the mountains* but we had a few of
them on the Columbia. One, named George
Teewhattahownie, was a powerful man about six
fe^t:high. On one occasion, during our voya^
to the sea, we had a stiff breeze, and George, who
was foreman of my canoe, kept up a heavy press
of sail. I requested him repeatedly to take in a
reef, and pointed out the danger to which we were
exposed in the event of an accident. He appeared
to pay no attention to my request, and I was at
length obliged to use peremptory and threatening
language, which produced a forced and sulky
obedience.    A few days after our arrival at Fort EFFECTS  OF  DRUNKENNESS.
George he came into my room in a state of intoxication, and ungovernable rage, with a vessel
containing rum in his left hand, and in his right
his couteau de chasse; in short his whole appearance was wild and savage, and I at once guessed
his visit was not of a friendly nature. His opening speech realised my suspicions.
" Cox, you toad, prepare for death! you abused
me, and I must have my revenge."
- -'Mifou 're not sober, George ; go sleep a while,
and we '11 talk on this subject to-morrow."
J" No; you insulted me before the men, and I
must have satisfaction; but as you 're a young
man, I will now only take one of your ears!"
I became a little easy on finding he had lowered
his demands; but as I had an equal affection for both
lugs, and as " the prejudice ran in favour of two,''
I had no wish, like Jack Absolute, to affect singu^
larity in that respect. After some further parley,
and finding he was determined to try his knife on
my auricular cartilages, I told him to retire, Or I
should be obliged to order him into confinement.
I Ha! crapaud !" said he, " do you threaten Tee-
whattahownie ?"  and at the same instant rushed 356
on me like a grizzly bear. I was now forced to
draw my dagger in self-defence, and in parrying
off his thrust gave him a severe wound across the
fingers of the right hand. He dropped the knife,
but instantly seized it with the left hand, and at
the same time attempted to catch me, which I
avoided by running under his arm, and as he
turned round was compelled to give him a severe
cut, which nearly laid open one side of his head.
He now became quite furious, roared like a buffalo, and with the blood streaming down his face
appeared more like a demon than a human being.
I thought to fly, but in the attempt he seized the
skirt of ray coat, and I was obliged once more to
give him another wound across the left hand,
which obliged him to drop the knife ; a desperate
struggle then followed for the dagger, which,
from his great strength, he must have wrested
from me, had not the noise occasioned by his
bellowing and my cries for assistance brought
Mr. Montour and some of the men into the room.
With much difficulty they succeeded in binding
him hand and foot, and lodging him in the guards
room.    He tore off the dressings that were applied CONTRITION.
to his wounds, refused every assistance, and the
greater part of the night was spent in wild yells
and ferocious threats against me. Nature at last
became exhausted, and he fell asleep, in which
state his wounds were dressed. None of them
were dangerous. Between the loss of blood and
a long fast he became quite cool on the following
day, and when told of what had occurred he
could scarcely believe it, cursed the rum as the
cause, and made a solemn promise never again to
drink to intoxication. At the end of a couple of
days I interceded and had him liberated. He
appeared most grateful, acknowledged that he
deserved what he got, expressed his surprise that
I did not kill him, and declared if he ever heard a
man say a bad word of me for wounding him he
would knock him down. I believe his regret was
sincere, and from that period until the following
year, when I quitted the Columbia, I never saw
him in a state of inebriety.
^ If ill 358
Coalition of the two Companies—New Caledonia—Description of the Chilcotins, Talkotins, &c.—Soil, produce, lakes,
rivers, animals, climate — Peculiarities of the natives —
Suicides — Cruelty to relatives — Horriole treatment of
prisoners—Sanguinary quarrel-*—Extraordinary ceremonies
attending the dead—Barbarities practised on widows, &c.—
*   Table of population.
It will be seen from a perusal of the foregoing
pages that they contain simply a detail of such
events as occurred under my own observation, or
were cotemporaneous with my residence in the
interior. I thought it better to follow this course,
than, by the introduction of new matter, to break
in on the regular chronological order of the narrative. Since I left the Indian country I have
maintained a correspondence with many of my
old associates there, particularly Mr. Joseph
M'Gillivray, from whose friendly communications UNION   OF   THE   COMPANIES.
the information contained in the following pages
is chiefly extracted.
It will, I have no doubt, be found highly in-
tefesMrtg;   and his description of New Caledonia
furnishes the only information We possess of a
jjoffion of  the   American   continent   respecthlg
. i^Meh we have been heretofore perfectly ignotaM.
A few yeaf& subsequent to my quitting the Columbia the Company abandoned Fort George (of
which I have made such frequent mention), and
erected another cto Sfc larger sc§1b in a beautiful
situation at Beetle vue Point on the northern shore,
and aboHt eighty miles from the entrance of the
river. This point was so named b^ Lieutenant
Broughton, who had beeii. sefet up the Colura_b1aJ
by Vaiicoliver, and in hoftor of the latter the
Company h§_f called the new establishment "Fort
The long and violent opposition bet\&%en the
liu^sofr's-fea^ aTE-d North-West Companies1 ceased
in the year 1821 by their coalition. The ruinous
rivalship that so long existed between them must
hstve ulfi«_»_£texly proved destructive to both, had
riot a few sensible men com?e forward, _tnd by their 360
united exertions succeeded in forming a junction^
The preliminaries were signed in London, in March
1821, and confirmed at Fort William by the wintering partners in the July following. The particulars of the treaty would be uninteresting to the
general reader; and I shall here only remark that
the old North-westers are by no means pleased
with it, and loudly complain of some of its minor
arrangements, &c.
This district extends from 51° 30' north lat, to
about 56°, Its extreme western boundary is 124°
10'. Its principal trading post is called Alexandria, after the celebrated traveller Sir Alexander
Mackenzie. It is built on the banks of Fraser's
River, in about lat. 53° N. The country in its
immediate vicinity presents a beautiful and pictu*
resque appearance. The banks of the river are
rather low; but a little distance in-land some
rising grounds are visible, partially diversified by
groves of fir and poplar.
Sir Alexander Mackenzie, in his voyage of dis»
eovery across the continent in 1793, came to the NATURE OF THE COUNTRY.
spot on which the fort is built, and was dissuaded
by the Indians from following the course of the
river to its mouth. On quitting this place he
proceeded to the West Road riyer, from whence.
by an overland journey he succeeded in reaching
the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
This country is full of small lakes, rivers, and
marshes. It extends about ten days' march in a
north and north-east direction. To the south and
south-east the Atnah, or Chin Indian country
extends about one hundred miles; on the east
there is a chain of lakes, and the mountains bor-*
dering Thompson's River; while to the westward
and north-west lie the lands of the Naskotins and
Clinches. ft/fk-
The principal rivers are Fraser's, Quesnel's,
Rough Poplar, Chilcotin, and West Road. Of
these Fraser's River only is navigable. It receives
the waters of Quesnel's and West Poplar rivers,
which issue from small lakes to the eastward.
The lakes are numerous, and some of them
tolerably large : one, two, and even three days
are at| times required to cross some of them.
They abound in a plentiful variety offish, such as 362
trout, sucker, Sec.; and the natives assert that
white fish is sometimes taken. These lakes are
generally fed by mountain streams, and many of
them spread out, and are lost hi the surroufidifif
marshes. ^§|
In visiting the Naskotin and Chin Indians otlr
conveyance is by canoes on Fraser's River; but
our journeys to Bear Lake, Kloukins, and Chilco-
tins, must be performed on foot.
The trading goods are now obtained from the
Columbia department, to which the returns of
furs are forwarded. Horses are used for convey
ing the goods, and the journey generally occupies
six weeks. The roads are extremely bad, m& in
every direction we encounter numerous rifelets,
small lakes, and marshes.
The soil is poor : an indifferent mould, not exceeding eight inches* in depth, covers a bed of
gravel and sand. All the vegetables we planted,
notwithstanding the utmost care and precautie©i
nearly failed; and the last crop of potatoes did
not yield one-fourth of the seed plafited.
On the banks of the river, and in the interior,
the frees consist of poplar, eyf>r§s&, alder, cedar, VEGETATION.
birch, and different species of fir, spruce, and
willow. There is not the same variety of wild
fruit as on the Columbia; and this year (1827)
the berries generally failed. Service-berries,
choke-cherries, gooseberries, strawberries, and
red whortleberries are gathered; but among the
Indians the service-berry is the great favourite.
There are various kinds of rootspvhieh the natives
preserve and dry for periods of scarcity. There
is only one kind which we can eat. It is called
Tza-chin, has a bitter taste, but when eaten with
salmon imparts an agreeable zest, and effectually
destroys the disagreeble smell of that fish when
smoke-dried. St. John's wort is very common,
and has been successfully applied as a Ibmenta-*
tion in topical inflammations. A kind of weed,
which the natives convert into a species of flax, is
in general demand* An evergreen similar to that
we found at the mouth of the Columbia, (and be*
fore described,} with small berries growing in
dusters like grapes, also flourishes in this district.
Sarsaparilla and bear-root are found ki abundance. A strong decoction of the two latter with
the berries last mentioned has been repeatedly 364
tried by our men in venereal cases, and has always
proved successful.
White earth abounds in the vicinity of the fort;
and one description of it, mixed with oil and lime,
might be converted into excellent soap. Coal in
considerable quantities has been discovered; and
in many places we observed a species of red
earth, much resembling lava, and which appeared
to be of yolcanic origin.
We also found in different parts of New Caledonia
quartz, rock crystal, cobalt, talc, iron, marcasites of
a gold colour, granite, fuller's earth, some beautiful
specimens of black marble, and limestone in small
quantities, which appeared to have .been forced
down the beds of the rivers from the mountains.
The jumping-deer, or chevreuil, together with
the rein and red-deer, frequent the vicinity of the
mountains in considerable 'numbers, and in the
summer season they oftentimes descend to the
banks of the rivers and the adjacent flat country.
The marmot and wood-rat also abound: the
flesh of the former is exquisite, and capital robes
are made out of its skin ; but the latter is a very
destructive animal. i b*iu& ANIMALS. 365
Their dogs are of diminutive size, and strongly
resemble those' of the Esquimaux, with the curled-
up tail, small ears, and pointed nose. We purchased numbers of them for the kettle, their flesh
constituting the chief article of food in our holiday feasts for Christmas and New Year.
The fur-bearing animals consist of beavers;
bears, black, brown, and grizzly; otters, fishers,
lynxes, martins; foxes, red, cross* and silver;
minks, musquash, wolverines, and ermines. Rabbits also are so numerous that the natives manage
to subsist on them during the periods that salmon
is scarce.
Under the head of ornithology we have the
bustard, or Canadian outarde, (wildgoose,) swans,
ducks of various descriptions, hawks, plovers,
cranes, white-headed eagles, magpies, crows,
vultures, wood-thrush, red-breasted thrush, or
robin, woodpeckers, gulls, pelicans, hawks, partridges, pheasants, and snow-birds.
The spring commences in April, when the wild
flowers begin to bud, and from thence to the latter
end of May the weather is delightful. In June
it rains  incessantly, with  strong southerly  and 366
easterly winds. During the months of July and
August the heat is intolerable; and in September
the fogs are so dense that it is quite impossible
to distinguish the opposite side of the river any
morning before ten o'clock. Colds and rheumatisms are prevalent among the natives during
this period: nor are our people exempt from
them. In October the falling of the leaves and
occasional frost announce the beginning of winter.
The lakes and parts of the rivers are frozen in
November. The snow seldom exceeds twenty-
four inches in depth. The mercury in Fahrenheit's thermometer falls in January to 15° below 0;
but this does not continue many days. In general, I may say, the climate is neither unhealthy
nor unpleasant; and if the natives used common
prudence, they would undoubtedly live to an advanced age.
The salmon fishery commences about the middle of July, and ceases in October. This is a
busy period for the natives; for upon their industry in saving a sufficiency of salmon for the
winter depends their chief support. Their method
of catching the salmon is ingenious, and does not
differ much from that practised by the upper
natives of the Columbia. A certain part of the
river is enclosed by a number of stakes about
twelve feet high, and extending about thirty feet
from the shore. A netting of rods is attached to
the stakes to prevent the salmon running through.
A conical machine, called a vorveau, is next formed:
it is eighteen feet long, and five feet high, and is
made of rods about one inch and a quarter
. asunder, and lashed to hoops with whattap.* One
end is formed like a funnel to admit the fish.
Two smaller machines of nearly equal length are
joined to it. It requires a number of hands to
attach these vorveaux to the stakes. They are
raised a little out of the water; and the salmon in
their ascent leap into the boot or broad part, and
fall into the enclosed space, where they are easily
killed with spears. This contrivance is admirably calculated to catch fish; and when salmon is abundant, the natives take from eight
to nine hundred daily.
* A tough fibrous root used in sewing bark canoes. It is
split into various lengths, quite flat and flexible, and seldom exceeding one-eighth of an inch in breadth. rpfsiH
The salmon fishery this year (1827) completely
failed, which obliged us to send to Kamloops, a
post belonging to the Columbia department, for a
supply. We got thence two thousand five hundred, and subsequently one thousand five hundred from Mr. Connolly, which, with some of our
old stock and thirty-five kegs of potatoes, kept
us from starvation.
Jub, suckers, trout, and white-fish are caught
in the lakes ; and in the month of October, to-*
wards the close of the salmon fishery, we catch
trout of a most exquisite flavour. Large-sized
sturgeon are occasionally taken in the vorveaux,
but they are not relished by the natives.
In consequence of several of the Chilcotin
tribe having represented that beaver was plentifal
in their country, some of our people visited it,
whose statements fully corroborated those of the
Indians; and the northern council of Rupert's
Land therefore determined about two years ago
to establish a trading post in that quarter. A
circumstance, however, shortly after occurred
which has hitherto prevented the Company from
carrying their intention into effect. INDIAN  REVENGE.
The Talkotins, who inhabit the banks of Fra-
ser's River, in the vicinity of Alexandria, were
formerly on the most friendly terms with the
Chileotins, and when salmon failed among the
latter they were always permitted to fish in Fraser's River.
In the winter of 1326 four young men of the
Talkotins proceeded on a hunting excursion to the
Chilcotin lands. A quarrel, the cause of which
we could never ascertain, occurred between them,
and three of the young men were butchered.
The fourth, who escaped dangerously wounded,
arrived at the fort on the 19th March, and immediately communicated the disastrous intelligence to his-countrymen. One Chilcotin, who
was at the fort, would have fallen a victim to
their revenge, had we not interfered,- and with
much' difficulty concealed him until an opportunity offered for his escape; which, notwithstanding the vigilance of his enemies, he effected.* A sanguinary war followed, and in
some  skirmishes the Talkotin. chief lost three
This poor fellow was subsequently murdered by a Tal
2 A 370
nephews. This determined him to carry ^hostilities into the enemy's camp; and, having selected a
chosen band of warriors, twenty-four in number,
they departed on the 19th of April, and on the
20th of June returned with five prisoners, and the
scalps of twelve men, women, and children,
whom they had surprised and killed.
A large party of Chileotins, who were quite
ignorant of the rival chief's successful expedition,
appeared on the 21st June on the banks of the
river opposite the fort. They killed one stray
Talkotin, but retired without coming Jo a general
engagement. A few weeks afterwards a party,
consisting of twenty-seven, made their appearance, and their chief made an oration, which,
owing to a strong wind, we could not understand-
Ihey encountered some of our people who were
attending the gardens on the opposite bank of the
river, but -did not injure them. They also retired
without ^coming to blows. During the pmmer
the TalkjO-tins were constantly kept on the qui
vwe by various rumours of intended attacks;
and at length., on the morning of the 24th September, a formidable party of Chileotins, amewaafc.
ing to eighty warriors, appeared on the banks of
the river. The Talkotins were lodged in a log-
house, surrounded by rows of strong palisades,
with numerous loop-holes between. The battle
commenced a little after day-break ; but, owing to
the manner in which the latter were protected, their
loss was trifligg—say one man and one old woman
kijjed ; while that of the Chileotins, amounted to
six killed and nia§y t^apgerously wounded. Still
they pressed on, and mighit have been ultim$%Iy
successful, had we not forwarded to the TaHfoJifig
a supply of arms and ammunition, which effectually checked t^fir advajppes on the log-honsg.
A woman of the Chilcotin tribe, who happened to
be at the fort, observing the assistance we had
given the enemy, stole away unperceived tP*4
communicated to her couatrypen the £#£Uj_-£-
sjfet&ce; on learning which, they at once 4M@¥-
mi$gfl to retreat. On their departure they
denounced y#,ggeance agsuptyrt us, a#4 . thp_e$$§j|e4
to cut off all whijte meu tsh$t wght thereafter fall
in the^F way.
No friendly overture has been sjf^eg m&de by
either tribe; and although we s§gt \ford repeatediy
to the Chileotins that we should feel happy in
bringing about a reconciliation, we have "not as
yet received an answer, and none of them have
been seen in our neighbourhood since Sept. 1826.
Notwithstanding this apparent disinclination on
their part to renew relations of friendship, we determined in the autumn of 1827 to establish a
trading post in their country; but were prevented
from doing so by the total failure of salmon.
I herewith subjoin a brief sketch of the district.
The Chilcotin river takes its rise in a lake of the
same name: its course from Alexandria is S.S.E.;
its length, including its meanderings, about one
hundred and eighty miles; and its breadth varies
from forty to sixty yards: it is quite shallow,
and full of rapids. The lake is about half a mile
in breadth, and sixty miles in length, and is surrounded by lofty mountains, from which a number
of small rivulets descend. It contains abundance
of sucker, trout, and white fish. Salmon however
is the favourite fish; but as it does not regularly
ascend their river, they are often obliged to^ibS*
tent themselves with the produce of the lake.
They are poor   hunters, otherwise they   might THE   CHILCOTINS.
chiefly subsist on animal food; for the rein-deer,
with the red and moose deer, are found in great
numbers in the mountains; and in the autumnal
months the black-tail and jumping-deer are plentiful. Beaver must be abundant; for men, women,
and children are clad in robes of the fur of that
It is impossible to ascertain with accuracy the
number of the tribe; but I conceive the men
capable of bearing arms cannot be under one hundred and eighty. They are cleanly in their persons, and remarkably hospitable.
The Chileotins speak.the Carrier language, but
many of their .words bear a strong affinity to. the
Slave Indian,dialect.
.They are. extremely fond of iron-works, and
appear to be well acquainted with the use of firearms. We saw one excellent gun in their possession, marked " Barret, 1808." The owner said
he purchased it from Indians who came from the
sea-coast. According to their accounts, travellers
may in six days, from the end of Chilcotin Lake,
after crossing a range of mountains, reach a river
in a southerly   direction   which   discharges   its 3$4 INDIAN  TRIBES.
waters into the ocean, at a place vtrhetfe the Indians eairry on a traffic with Europeans. From
their general behaviour we were led to imagine
they must have had frequent intercourse wfoh the
' whites; and a peculiar kind of blanket, resembling
a.rug, whfch Was in common use amongst them,
we supposed had been obtained from Russian
traders'. The journey from Alexandria to the
Chilcotin lake occupies eighteen days ; and as a
proof of the richness of the country in fur-bearing
animals, I have only to state that the small e3_>
perimental party sent thither in December 1826
purchased from the natives between three and
fcfar hundred excellent beaver skins.
The Indians  on the  upper part of Fraser'^
River are divided into various tribes, under the
. following names: viz. Slowereuss, Dinais, Nascud,
Dinnee, and Talkotin. They are evidently sprung
from one common origin. Their manners and customs are the same; and there is no variation in
their language, which bears a close affinity to that
spoken by the Chepewyans and Beaver Indians.
Several families generally club together  and
build a house, the sitse of which is proportioned INDIAN  WOMEN.
to the number of inhabitants, and is partitioned
off into several divisions. The building has one
long ridge pole, which in several places is uncovered, for the free egress of the smoke. They
are supremely dirty and lazy, and full of vermin,
which they take great pleasure in eating. They
nevertfethe or wash their bodies, which, with the
interior of their dwellings, and the surrounding
neighbourhood, present a shockingly repulsive
appearance of filthy nastiness, which we never
observed among any other tribe. When reproached
with their want of cleanliness they replied, that
the dirt preserved them from the intense cold of
winter, and protected them equally from th4
scorching sun of summer!
The women are, if possible, worse than Jtoe
men; and when they wish to appear very fine
they saturate their hah* with salmon oil, after
which it is powdered over with the down of birds,
and painted with red ochre mixed with oil. Such
another preparation for the head is certainly not
iised by any other portion of his majesty's coppsiH
coloured subjects. While in this oleaginous state
they are quite unapproachable, near a. fire;v and
■r -r3tf6                    EFFECTS   OF  INDOLENCE.
even the voyageur, whose sense of smelling is not
over-refined, cannot bring his nasal organ into a
warm apartment with one of those bedizened beau
It is quite common to see six or eight of the
men during the summer, while their wives and
children are digging roots for their subsistence,
stretch their filthy covering on branches, and expose their naked bodies to the sun, changing their
position as it revolves in its course.
Independently of the starvation to which their
incurable indolence subjects them, it also entails
on them diseases which often prove fatal to numbers ; and asthma, with rheumatic and pulmonary
complaints, are quite common among them.
j They are generally about the middle size, and
few of them reach to the height of five feet nine
inches. Their colour is a light copper, with the
same long lank hair and black eyes which distinguish the other aborigines of America. Their
features are good, and, were it not for the barbarous
incrustation which surrounds them, might be called
prepossessing. The women are. stouter than the
men,;but inferior to them in beauty.   The dress of INDIAN  GAMBLERS*
both consists of a robe made of marmot, or rabbit
skin, tied round the neck and reaching to the knees,
with a small slip of leather or cloth covering underneath. In the summer months the men dispense even with this slight covering, and wander
about in a complete state of nudity. They are
fond of European clothing ; and such of them as
were enabled to purchase a coat, trousers, and
shirt, took great pride in appearing in them at the
They are much addicted to gambling, and umpires are chosen to see that each party plays-fairly;
still their games seldom terminate without a quarrel. They will gamble their guns, robes, - and
even their shoes. One of them, who had been out
three months on a hunting excursion, returned
with a large lot of prime beaver, with which he
intended to purchase a gun for himself, and other
articles for his wife and children. His evil genius
induced him to play ; and in a short time he lost
half his stock. He then desisted, and was about
retiring to the fort; but in the mean time several
of the gamblers collected about him, and upbraided
him with want of spirit.    His resolution was over- 378 INDIAN   MARRIAGES.
come, and he recommenced: fortune was still
unpropitious, and in less than an hour he lost the
remainder of his furs. The following day he came
to us with tears in his eyes, and having related his
misfortune, and promised never to run so great
a risk again, we gave him goods on credit to the
amount of twenty beavers.
They are fond of feasting, and on particular
occasions invite their friends from villages thirty
or forty miles distant. When the entertainment
is over, the guest has nothing more to expect; and
no matter how long he may remain* there is no
renewal of hospitality. Gambling is carried on to
a dreadful extreme at these assemblages.
Polygamy is practised, but is not very general,
few of them being able to support more than one
wife. There are no marriage ceremonies. The
choice of each party is left unfettered; and it frequently happens that if their tempers do not agree,
the union is dissolved by mutual consent. The
women are unfruitful, which may be attributed
to the many laborious avocations to which they are
condemned, particularly that of digging for roots;
and abortions are also frequent among them>/.j|g|v '8#_.cide. 379
Prostitution is notoriously practised among unmarried females, and is productive of disease to a
deplorable extent. Few escape the consequences
resulting from this general depravity, and many
fall victims to it. Leprosy is also common among
the young people of both sexes, and proceeds from
the same demoralising cause. Sickness or excessive labour produces a depression of spirits among
the females, many of whom while in that state
commit suicide. We sata the bodies of several of
these wretched beings who had hanged themselves from trees in sequestered parts of the
Their doctor, or man of medicine, differs little
from the same personage on the Columbia, except
that the profession here is rather dangerous.
The same mode of throwing the patient on his
back, beating the parts affected, singing in a loud
voice to drown his cries, &c. is practised here; but
in the event of his death, his relatives generally
sacrifice the quack or some one of his connexions.
This summary mode of punishment is admirably
calculated to keep the profession free from intruders ;   and their medical  practitioners,  I am
happy to state, are becoming every day less numerous.
The affectionate regard for friends and relatives
which, more or less, characterises other tribes,
appears to be unknown amongst those savages.
A few instances, which came under our personal
knowledge, may be sufficient to prove their total
want of all the finer feelings of humanity.
In December 1826 an elderly man, nearly
related to the Talkotin chief, fell short of provisions, and although he.was surrounded,by numbers who had an abundance of dried salmon,, he
was actually allowed to die of starvation in the
midst of plenty. The day after, his death the
corpse was burned, and no one seemed to mourn
his loss.
One night during the same winter a young
woman, nearly naked, her body covered with
bruises, and dreadfully frost-bitten,, came to the
fort, and begged for admission. This was readily
granted. She alleged she had been in a starving
condition, and had asked her husband for a little
dried salmon, which he refused to give, although
he had plenty in his lodge ; that she watched an A   SAVAGE   HUSBAND.
opportunity during his absence to take a small
piece, which he discovered her in the act of eating; and that without any other cause he gave her
a dreadful beating, and then turned her out, declaring she should no longer live with him. She
added, that all her friends refused her assistance,
and that she would have inevitably perished from
the inclemency of the weather but for the protection and relief we afforded her. During her
narrative her uncle entered, and, on learning the
particulars, he declared he would make up the
quarrel; and went away, promising to return
shortly with some rabbits. With much difficulty
we succeeded in restoring her to health; but
neither husband, uncle, nor any other relation ever
after troubled us with inquiries concerning her,
and she still remains at the fort living on our
Another instance, and I shall have done:—\
In January 1827 two stout young men, brothers,
with their wives and children, and a grey-headed,
infirm old man, their father, encamped for a few
days close to the fort.
Late in the evening of the second day after
their departure we were surprised at seeing the 382 INDIAN   CHARACTER."
unfortunate old man crawling towards the house,
and crying out piteously for " fire and salmon."
His hands and feet were frost-bitten, and he was
scarcely able to move. A piece of salmon and a
glass of rum quickly revived him, when he told us
that on that morning his sons abandoned him at
the plaee they had slept at the night before, and,
on going away, told him he might take care of
himself as well as he could, as they would not
any longer be encumbered with him!
These ceases establish a degree of barbarism I
believe unparalleled in any coimiry; and I know
of no redeeming feature to counterbalance them.
W@ have repeatedly afforded relief to numbers
who wess dyisg from starvation or disease, and
wh&, but for fmr assistance, would have perished;
yet ingratitude is so strongly implanted in their
savage nature, that these very individuals m
periods of plenty faave been the first t» pre?v$nt
u# from taking a salmon; and whenever a dispute
or Bajsundejfstgjldfeg arose between our people
and the ©$_#¥££, ik@8& scoundrels have been seen
brandishing their weapons and urging their eovfir
try men to exterminate us.
They are also incorrigible thieves  and ltara. INDIAN   WINTER   DWELLINGS. 383
No chevalier d'industrie could excel them in gkHful
operations ; and it required our utoaost vigilance
to guard against their felonious propensities:
while their disregard of truth is so glaring, that
we have actually heard them contradict facts of
which we ourselves had been eye-witnesses.
During the severity of winter they make ex*
cavations in the ground sufficiently capacious to
contain a number of persons; and in these holes
they burrow until the warm weather once more
permits them to venture above ground. They
preserve their dry salmon rolled up in baskets of
birch bark in holes of a similar description, but
somewhat smaller. The smell from these sub*
terranean dwellings while thus occupied is horribly offensive, and no white man could stand
sdthin its influence, Men, women, and children,
dogs, fleas, &c. all live together in this filthy
It has been already mentioned that in the battle of September 1S27 they killed some Chileotins, and took others prisoners. Their treatment
of both dead and living was in perfect accordance
with their general character.    After having taken;
off the scalps, they raised the bodies of the deceased on stumps of trees, and exhibited them
to the Atnahs, a band of whom had been specially invited to witness these trophies of their
valour. One would then plunge his knife into
the corpse, a second hack the skull with his axe,
and a third perforate the body with arrows.
Women and children equally participated in this
savage amusement, and all washed their hands
and faces in the blood of their victims, which
they did not remove until it dried and fell
Among the prisoners was one woman with a
child at her breast. A Talkotin ruffian instantly
cut its throat, and, holding the infant on the point
of his knife, asked the mother, with a degree of
horrible exultation, if it ► smelt good." She
replied, "No." He repeated the question, but
still received the same answer. Irritated at her
obstinacy, he seized her violently by the neck,
and asked her the third time if it " smelt
good." The wretched woman, knowing that
death awaited her, in the event of another refusal,
at length faltered out an affirmative.    I Is it very WAR-DANCE.
good?" repeated the savage. "Yes," she replied,
" very good;" upon which, flinging her from him,
and dashing the lifeless remains of her infant on
the ground, he walked away.
The war-dance next commenced ; and the unfortunate prisoners were introduced into the middle of the circle, and compelled to join in the
dancing and singing, while at intervals their inhuman conquerors displayed the scalps of their
fathers, brothers, or husbands, and rubbing them
across their faces, asked with ferocious joy if they
" smelled good ?"
We endeavoured to purchase some young children which were among the captives, with a view
of returning them to their friends ; but they refused all our offers. They, however, promised
that none of them should be injured; but their
habitual perfidy was manifested in this as in all
their other transactions ; for we learned that on
the same night a child was killed, and the body
burned; a few days afterwards another was
thrown alive into a large fire, and consumed ; and
in the course of the winter our people discovered
the remains of three others, with scarcely any flesh
vol. ii. 2 b 386 DOMESTIC   QUARRELS.
on their bones; and we had good reason to believe
they had been starved to death.
Inhumanity to prisoners, however, is a vice
which these Indians practise in common with all
the savage tribes of America; but in their domestic quarrels the Talkotins evince the same brutal
and sanguinary disposition; a remarkable instance
of which occurred in the year 1826. A young
man, who had killed a rein-deer, determined to
give a treat to his friends, and having concealed
it, as he thought, in a place of security, proceeded to their various dwellings for the purpose
of inviting them to the feast. In the interim,
however, some of the tribe discovered the hidden
treasure, the greater part of which they made
away with. He became highly exasperated at
his disappointment, and in his passion slew one
man whom he found sitting at a fire broiling part
of the animal. The friends of the deceased instantly armed themselves, and having surrounded
the lodge in which the owner of the deer resided,
butchered all his relations, amounting to seven
individuals. He however escaped, and being a
person   of some influence, quickly  collected   a SAVAGE   LIFE.
number of his friends, determined on revenge; but
the murderers in the mean time fled to the mountains, where they have lurked about ever since,
occasionally obtaining relief by stealth either from
our people, or from some of their own countrymen.
Since the battle of September 1827 the Talkotins have, as a measure of security, established
their village within pistol-shot of our fort.    They
are by no means pleasant neighbours.    They are
in a constant state of apprehension from the Chileotins, and pass the nights up to two or three
o'clock each  morning   singing,  screaming,   and
howling in a most disagreeable manner.     It isv
almost impossible to sleep.   The slightest rustling
in the branches, or the barking of a dog, turns out
the whole population;   and if a strange Indian
appears, he is. immediately magnified into a host
of warriors, coming to destroy both them and the
white men. ¥$g8_|
9$ The ceremonies attending the dead are very
singular, and quite peculiar to this tribe. The
body of the deceased is kept nine days laid out in
his lodge, and on the' tenth it is burned. For
this purpose a rising ground is selected, on which
K 388
are laid a number of sticks, about seven feet long,
of cypress neatly split, and in the interstices is
placed a quantity of gummy wood. During these
operations invitations are despatched to the natives of the neighbouring villages requesting their
attendance at the ceremony: when the preparations are perfected the corpse is placed on the
pile, which is immediately ignited, and during
the process of burning the by-standers appear to
be in a high state of merriment. If a stranger
happen to be present they invariably plunder
him; but if that pleasure be denied them, they
never separate without quarrelling among themselves. Whatever property the deceased possessed is placed about the corpse; and if he
happened to be a person of consequence, his
friends generally purchase a capet, a shirt, a pair
of trousers, &c, which articles are also laid round
the pile. If the doctor who attended him has
escaped uninjured, he is obliged to be present at
the ceremony, and for the last time tries fh}s skill
in restoring the defunct to animation. Failing in
this, he throws on the body a piece of leather, or
some other article, as a present, which in some BURNING   OF   THE   DEAD.
measure appeases the resentment of his relations,
and preserves the unfortunate quack from being
maltreated. During the nine days the corpse is
laid out the widow of the deceased is obliged to
sleep alongside it from sunset to sunrise; and from
this custom there is no relaxation, even during the
hottest days of summer! While the doctor is
performing his last operation she must lie on the
pile; and after the fire is applied to it, she cannot
stir until the doctor orders her to be removed;
which, however, is never done until her body is
completely covered with blisters. After being
placed on her legs, she is obliged to pass her
hands gently through the flames, and collect some
of the liquid fat which issues from the corpse,
with which she is permitted to rub her face and
body ! When the friends of the deceased observe
the sinews of the legs and arms beginning to contract, they compel the unfortunate widow to go
again on the pile, and by dint of hard pressing to
straighten those members.
If during her husband's lifetime she had been
known to have committed any act of infidelity, or
omitted administering to him savoury food,  or 390.
neglected his clothing, &c, she is now.made to
suffer severely for such lapses of duty by his
relations, who frequently fling her on the funeral
pile, from which she is dragged by her friends;
and thus, between alternate scorching and cooling,
she is dragged backwards and forwards until she
falls into a state of insensibility, j
e After the process of burning the corpse has terminated the j widow collects the larger bones,
which she rolls up in an envelope of birch bark,
and which she is obliged for some years afterwards to carry on her back! She is now considered and treated as a slave ; all the laborious
duties of cooking, collecting fuel, &c. devolve on
her. She" must obey the orders of all the women,
and even of the children belonging to the village,
and the slightest mistake or disobedience subjects her to the infliction of a heavy punishment.
The ashes of her husband are carefully collected
and deposited in a grave, which it is her duty to
keep free fronrweeds ; and should any such appear, she is obliged to root them out with her
fifigers! During this operation her husband's relatives stand by and beat her in a cruel manner
until the task is completed, or she falls a victim
to their brutality. The wretched widows, to
avoid this complicated cruelty, frequently commit
suicide. Should she, however, linger on for three
or four years, the friends of her husband agree to
relieve her from her painful mourning. This is
a ceremony of much consequence, and the preparations for it occupy a considerable time, generally from six to eight months. The hunters
proceed to the various districts in which deer and
beaver abound, and after collecting large quantities of meat and fur, return to the village. The
skins are immediately bartered for guns^ ammunition, clothing, trinkets, &c. Invitations are
then sent to the inhabitants of the various friendly
villages, and when they have all assembled the
feast commences, and presents are distributed to
each visitor. The object of their meeting is then
explained, and the woman is brought forward,
still carrying on her back the bones of her late
husband, which are now removed, and placed in
a carved box, which is nailed, or otherwise fastened to a post twelve feet high. Her conduct
as a faithful widow is next highly eulogised, and 392 CONCLUSION.
the ceremony of her manumission is completed
by one man powdering on her head the down of
birds, and another pouring on it the contents of a
bladder of oil! She is then at liberty to marry;
again, or lead a life of single blessedness; but
few of them I believe wish to encounter the risk
attending a second widowhood.
The men are condemned to a similar ordeal;
but they do not bear it with equal fortitude; and
numbers fly to distant quarters to avoid the brutal
treatment which custom has established as a kind
of religious rite.
Mr. M'Gillivray here concludes his remarks on
the various tribes about Fraser's River by a table,
which he formed from the most authentic sources
of information, and which will show their relative
numbers of married and unmarried men, women,
&c. j 393
shores ■
ut the
of the
ch cir-
to the
to our
ces for
5 CO      ns
® §5 "b2 «* *■ ©i? ■-
3 *Sti
r nu
t ch
t pr
are b
=S   >5 5s   (tf   3         3   b ..3         (tf   S   P
3   >   3   ■»
ins. 1
f the
e in 5
le gre
of mo
hey h
ture ft
d the
ey re
ley pi
E.*0 w)^7
n mounta
water o
he latitud
ove, but t
te range
poor.   T
aid to ven
unters, an
beaver to
it, and tb
r, where t
ahs, the s
F Deserte
yan leavi
ake himse
unts on the Chilcot
reside, supplies the
Mackenzie places t
ns hunt with the ab
Bear Lake, and tl
s plentiful.
F.the Talkotins are
le N.E. j but are afr
hey are very bad h
do not bring much
ff of that departmer
at Thompson's Rive
Eception of the Atn
m the N.E. head o
; so that a Chi pew
. direction, would m
This tribe h
of which they
River.   Sir A
The Naskot
hunt towards
vi here beaver i
The lands o
mountains to t
Chileotins. T
The Atnahs
exorbitant tan
their furs.
With the e.
direct line fro
1 p°
■5 °
UPSa-V \J&& V>-*^/^fc/ «-0*..~^
o         ©            o             o
r-          o             o               i-i
<N               i~*                  ffl
s imperfect; but
f families, and 130
twenty and forty.
; but we are not
.73   C
©             ©                ffl                   o
QO            «              t»                 eo
<N                    !-H                       ^
ffl              fc-                 ©                    ©
. Sanojr^
(0          t-            *«               •■*
ie Chileotins i
iefs, 52 heads o
en the age of
nds in beaver
i their hunting
-*                   T*                       ©                           »
©            rp              CO                *-<
IO                 IQ                     ©                         <N
t-i           «9             eo                ©
Our census of t
e reckoned two ch
arried men betwe
leir country abou
3t acquainted wit!
sj jo sp«aH
<N               U5                  CN                     ©
i-i              T)»                <N                    tj<
o ^
^ .3    .3  on          o  *  <b             «
■—^pa^y—^pg  APPENDIX.
Extract of a Letter from the Interior, dated July 1829.
| The intelligence from this country is by no means of a
pleasant nature. 'The number of lives lost last winter is
incredible, particularly in your old department, the Columbia.
The Company's ship, after a tolerably quick passage
from England, was lost on the bar, and the entire crew,
twenty-six in number, were inhumanly butchered by the
Your friend Ogden, in a hunting excursion, was attacked by a party of the Black-feet, who killed four of his
men \ and six of the people stationed at New Caledonia
were murdered by the Carriers during the winter.
Two American parties, under the command of Messrs.
Smith and Tulloch, were completely cut off; not a soul
escaped; and property to a considerable amount fell into
the hands of the savages.
These misfortunes have considerably weakened our influence with the Indians on the Columbia, whose behaviour, in consequence, has become very bold and daring,
and we greatly fear the ensuing winter may be productive
of more disasters.
We shall have much difficulty in filling up the appoint- 396
ments for that district next spring; in fact, symptoms of
rebellion have already begun to manifest themselves, and
several of our gentlemen have been heard to declare, that
in the event of their being nominated to the Columbia,
they will retire from the service sooner than risk their lives
among such sanguinary barbarians.—God speed them ! I
say. Numbers of them have been long enough enjoying
idleness and luxury on the east side of the mountains, and
it is only fair they should experience some of our Columbian privations.—I have had my full share of them, and
am therefore under no apprehensions of being ordered
there in a hurry.
Extract of another Letter.
In your last you expressed a wish to know the population of the new colony at the Red River, and how they
are getting on. I have not been there lately, but I enclose
you the last census taken about two years ago, since which
period it has scarcely increased. Besides men, women,
boys, and girls, I give you a list of the most useful animals
in possession of the settlers, in order that my statistics
may be peffect so far as regards the animal world.
189 married men. tpKiS
37 unmarried do.
193 married women and widows.
96 young womeij.
237 girls.
90 young men.
210 boys.
1052 souls. APPENDIX.
178 bouses 33 barns.
126 stables 164 horses.
87 mares 27 bulls.
295 cows 76 oxen.
147 calves 20 swine. •
96 carts 31 ploughs.
39 harrows 13 boats.
173 canoes.
There are 672| acres of land in a state of cultivation ;
144,105 acres of prairie, and 21,901 acres of woodland.
The total extent of lands measured amounts to 170,135
acres three roods.
The population would have been double £he above number were it not for the falling off of the Swiss apd itfhe
De Meu*€>ns,# most of whom have abandoned the colony,
and proceeded to St. Louis and the banks of the Mississippi,
and their places have not been supplied by any fresh arrivals from England.    - OtT-klilj
Extract of a Letter from Churchill, or Prince of Wales'
Fort, 1829.
After spending several years among our new establishments on the north-west side of this great continent, behold me now in one of our most ancient settlements on
the north-east side. Any thing in the shape of antiquity
is a novelty in the pays sauvage; and as I know you are
fond of novelty, I must give you a sketch of this redoubtable fortress.    Churchill was erected in 1733, under the
* De   Meuron's regiment was disbanded in Canada at the late peace,
and numbers of the men proceeded to Lord Selkirk's colony at the Red
River. CrHivvi^, 39-8 APPENDIX.
superintendence of Mr. James Robson, chief architect to the
Hudson's Bay Company. It was well fortified with a
rayeline and four bastions, and the walls measure twenty-
seven feet in breadth. Forty pieces of cannon were
mounted on the walls: in fact the place was deemed impregnable : yet, notwithstanding all this apparent strength,
it was captured by La Peyrouse, without any trouble, and
nearly all rased to the ground. Had the Company's servants done their duty at the time, they might have bid
defiance to any force; but de mortuis nil, &c"V About the
fort are now to be seen decayed carriages without guns,
rust-eaten guns without carriages, groups of unappropriated balls of various calibre, broken down walls, and
dilapidtted storef. The governor's old house is the only
place any way inhabitable; and even it will require immense repairs to make it tolerably tenantable. I assure
you I would prefer residing in one of our snug square-built
little boxes on the Columbia to this melancholy remnant
of departed greatness.
The following names are cut out in large characters in
the wall in front of the fort: Richard Norton, 1752;
Guilford Long of Rotherhithe, 1754 j John
Newton, 1752.*
In the year 1800 Mr. Atkinson found the following
inscription written in a piece of cedar wood, about a foot
square and five feet above the ground, on Old Factory
Island in James' Bay, about thirty miles to the northward
of East Main Factory.    All the letters were quite visible.
" In the year 1692 wintered three ships at this island,
with one hundred and twenty-seven men, under the govern-
* Churchill is in lat. 58° 44' N., and long. 95° 30' west. APPENDIX.
ment of Captain James Knighjt, \ Then we erected this
monument in lemembrance of it."
Three different tribes occasionally visit us. They belong to
the Crees, Chipewyans, and Esquimaux, and we purchase
from them beaver, otter, martin, red, silver, and white
foxes, &c. The Crees who have' visited us have never
exceeded twelve men, young and old. The Chipewyans
vary considerably in their numbers. From twenty to fifty
occasionally come, and the total number who have visited
the fort does not exceed one hundred. Our Esquimaux
cdlbmeWreside at and about Chesterfield Inlet. They
do not muster more than one hundred and twenty full-
grown men, about forty of whom visit us annually. They
are all quiet, well-behaved people, and tolerably honest. *
About two-thirds of our provisions consist of country
produce; the remaining one-third, namely, flour and oatmeal, we procure from England. Among the former we
have fresh and salt geese, partridges, venison, and fish.
The geese are principally procured in the spring from the
Crees and Chipewyans, and numbers are salted by our
people. The latter tribe chiefly supply us with the venison,
which they bring in a half-dried state, nearly a distance
of seventeen days' march. During the summer season we
occasionally kill a chance deer. In the winter we are well
supplied with partridges, the chief part of which our men
take in nets.
Our principal fish is the salmon and jack-fish : the
former is taken during the summer season in nets at a
place called Cuckold's Point, between two and three miles
from the fort; and the-jack is taken in October and November at Peer's River, distant about .^wenty-five miles
from Churchill.    Neither however is plentiful. m
It was from this place that Hearne set out on his arctic
ocean hunting expedition; and as I think he says enough
about the climate, soil, productions, &e. J-shall not tire
you by alluding to these subjects. Suffice it to say, that
Chuuchill is a rascally, disagreeable, cold, unsocial, out-
of-the-way, melancholy spot,—and I don't care how soon
I am changed. No hunting, horse-racing, or any other
of the sports which we enjoyed on the Columbia, which 1
once thought bad enough : but, talking of Indian trading
posts, I may truly say, " bad is the best." So, wishing
you all manner of good things, with plenty of i$&te boys,
and abundance to feed them, I remain ton tendre ami a la
mort. J .
■ l&lpf j Uf /&U i/.i c I
$>•      /4--&S18   


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