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Narrative of a journey round the world during the years 1841 and 1842 [volume 1] Simpson, George 1847

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The University of British Columbia Library
1847.  TO
The Author ought perhaps to account for the length
of time which has elapsed since the conclusion of his
Travels, in 1845, to the date of their publication. It
may probably be deemed sufficient to state that the
various and important occupations in which, during that
long period, he had been constantly engaged under the
Hudson's Bay Company, throughout their extensive
territories, as well as at their remote trading-posts in
other parts of North America, precluded him from
bestowing an earlier and requisite attention to the
subject. I
s^es^g&sasgj CONTENTS
Departure from London — Voyage across the Atlantic — Halifax—
Boston—Route to Montreal—Montreal—Departure from La Chine—
Ottawa — Matawa — Height of land — Lake Nipissing, lee—French
River—Lake Huron—Sault Sainte Marie—Lake Superior, a Week in
the Ice—-Chippeway Indians—Kaministaquoia, Kakabeka Fall—Height
of land—Route to Lac la Pluie—Fort Frances, Chippeway Indians—
Riviere la Pluie—Lake of the Woods—River Winipeg—Lake Winipeg
—Red River—Lower Fort—Departure of Lords Caledon and Mulgrave
for Buffalo Hunting . . . . .1
Red River Settlement, position, origin, condition—Departure from
Red' River Settlement — Face of country — Salt lake — Fort Ellice —
Qu'Appelle River, crank canoes—Wolverine Knoll, native legend —
Native lodges—Rain and swamps — Dog Knoll—• Salt lakes—Native
lodge, hieroglyphics—Halt in heavy rain—Wanderings of Tom Taylor
—Bow River—Indian story—War in the plains—Carlton—The Saskatchewan—Picturesque country—-Crees—Scarcity of water—Red River
emigrants, love of native spot—Buffalo hunt—Turtle River—Scarcity of
water—Fort Pitt—Miseries of a native lodge—Alarm of Blackfeet—
Effects of hail—Extreme vicissitudes—Oddity of native names—Edmonton—Native tribes—Visitors of quality       . . .49
Departure from Edmonton—Rev. Mr, Rundle—Gull Lake—Native
gossips—Duck hunt—Red Deer's River—Unexpected meeting—March CONTENTS.
through wet bush — Altered character of vegetation—State of commissariat — Difficulties of march—Rugged scene — Peechee's home— Perpendicular rocks — Indian skirmish, courage of a woman — The spout
—Bow River Traverse—Porcupine—Natural gateway—Height of land
Reminiscence of Scotland—Improvement in climate—Kootonais River
Adventures of two of our men—Scarcity of water—Bad road.—Co-
umbia River—Search for horses—Gloomy ravine—Hieroglyphics—
Tenacity of musquitoes—Fresh horses—Scenery now softer—Flatbow
Indians—Hot springs—Burning forests—Park-like prairie—Kootonais
Indians, chief's son—Grande Quote Lake, missing companion— Grande
Quote River—Improvement in vegetation—Plunge of two loaded horses
—Use of a horse—Starvation among natives—Female horse-dealer—
Extensive and interesting view—March through wet bush—Kootonais
River Traverse—Peculiar canoe—Kootonais village—Food pf natives
—Mr. and Mrs. Gbarlo—Natural pit—Burning woods—Kullespelm
Lake—Pend' d'Oreille River—Pend' d'Oreille Indians—Card-playing—
Results of education—-Native dress—Fresh horses—Supper or no
supper ?—Mr.McDonald from Colvile—Excellent breakfast—Ludicrous
accident—Fort Col vile—Fine farm—Chaudi&re Indians—Peechee—
Departure from Colvile—Chaudiere Falls—Grande Coulee—Oka-
nagan—Murder of Mr. Black—Scarcity of wood—Isle des Pierres
Rapids—Sault du Pr^tre—Rattlesnakes—Snake River—Wallawalla—
Rev. Mr. Mungh—McKenzie's and Ross's Heads—Prairie fowl—Snake
Indians—Basaltic rocks—Cayuse chief in love—Les Chutes, past and
present — Petites Dalles — Long Narrows—Hair seals—Mission of
Whaspicum — Aquatic forest — Cascades — Pillar Rock—Arrival at
Vancouver     .......    106
Departure from Vancouver—The Willamette—Wappatoo Island—
The Cowlitz—Variety of races in bateau—Cowlitz Farm—Enormous
trees—The Checaylis—Natural mounds—Fort Nisqually—Embarkation on Beaver Steamer—Frazer's River—Feveda, superior fuel—
Wooding and watering—Comouc fleet—Quakeolth chief—Johnston's
Straits — Dense fog — Quakeolth fleet — Trading — Food, &c, of
Quakeolths—Native pronunciation of English — Manners of natives
generally—Dishonesty and treachery of natives— Shushady harbour—
Trading with Newettees—Hiaquay shells—Humming-birds—Canoeing
alone with a native chief—Native blankets, canoes, &c. — Indignant
harangue of a chief—Dense fog, danger of shipwreck — Shark — Calvert's Island—Sir Alexander McKenzie—Fort McLoughlin—Balla-
lio 11 a  Indians — Large  canoe — Lip-piece — Power of chiefs — Fort CONTENTS.
Simpson—Ingenuity of natives, North-vrest Arrowsmith—Smallpox—
Fort Stikine—The Secatquouays—Humanity of female chief—Condition of Slaves—Messrs. Shakes and Quatkay—Hanego Joe—Stephen's
Passage—Fort Taco—Abundance of deer—Big-horn sheep and mountain goat—Taco River—Lynn's Canal—Ancke Indians—Arrival at
Sitka . . . ii . . .173
Sitka—Trade—Fur-seals, &c.—Count Baronoff—Northern discovery
—Departure from Sitka—Glaciers and floating ice—Fort Stikine—Fort
Simpson—Indian fight about potatoes—Sebassamen—Fort McLoughlin
— Gigantic seaweed—Newettees, names of chiefs— Quakeolth fleet—
Native jealousy—Johnston's Straits—Dense fog—Catalogue of dangers
and disasters—Abundance of herring spawn—Influence of white fist on
savages — Nisqually — Captain Berkeley, Juan de Fuca, and Admiral
Fonte—Steam, its physical and moral power-—Condition of slaves—
Rev. Mr. Demers — Arrival at Vancouver — A stranger — Vancouver
— Willamette  Settlement,   position  and  condition — Civilization   of
natives .......    219
Departure from Vancouver—Boating down the Columbia—Embarkation on board of the Cowlitz, the grand epoch of my journey—Damage
from lightning—Bar of the Columbia—Discovery of Columbia; comparative merits of Heceta, Meares, and Gray — Disputed territory, claims
of United States — Christmas Day, home and abroad — Whales—Cape
Mendocino—New Albion and California—Bodega and Ross, Russian
American Company, Russian Sovereignty—Russian discoveries—Russia
and England — Sir Francis Drake, past and present — First glance of
California—Port of San Francisco, discovered by land—Upper California,
motives for colonizing it—San Francisco, entrance of harbour—Presidios
—Siege of a mud kitchen — General description of harbour — Russians
and English, compared with Californians—Yerba Buena    . .    253,
More detailed description of harbour — Native balsa—Whalers,
San Francisco and Sandwich Islands—Trade in hides—Foreigners—
Indolence of people, its causes—Branding, &c, of cattle—Value of
herds—Missions, their rise and fall—Express by land to Monterey— *■«■
Timothy Murphy—Father Quigas—Summary justice — General Val-
leg0 —Breakfast, cookery—Valley of Sonoma—Lasso—Civilization of
aborigines—General Vallego's buildings, troops, garden, &c.— Dinner,
ball, and Captain Prado—"AuldLang Syne" — Paradise of wild fowl
—Captain Sutter's history and prospects—Anglification of San Francisco— Californian justice-T-Mission of San Francisco, old and new
times—Mission of Santa Clara — Prospects of priesthood — Revenue
laws .......    285
Voyage to Monterey—Landing—Town, buildings and furniture, &c.
— Neighbourhood — Christening of bridge — Mr. Spence — Governor
Alvarado—Unsophisticated cockney—Californian ignorance—Mr.
Ermatinger's journey from Vancouver to Monterey—Californians and
Indians—Murderous desecration of baptism—Selfishness and indifference of public authorities—Compromise with custom-house—Schooner
California, untried convicts—Revenue law, impolitic and oppressive—
Spanish America in general, its fiscal and political condition—Contrast
between Spanish and English colonies—Fruits of Spanish American
independence—Pueblo of Branciforte—Mission of Santa Cruz—Mission
of San Carlos, past and present . . . .341
Voyage from Monterey—Mrs. Wilson—Von Resanoff and Donna
Conception—Town, its situation and buildings, &c.—Inhabitants, manners, and dress, and customs, &c.—Resemblance of Spanish colonist to
old Spaniard—Californian happiness and ease—Compadres and Com-
madres—Californian hospitality—Bishop of Santa Barbara—Episcopal
pomp—Roman see, its estimate of distant dependencies—Home-made
wine and brandy — Church — Santa Guadalupe and the miraculous
blanket—Organist—Candlemas-day, gunpowder—Valley of Santa Barbara—Aqueducts and cisterns — Grist-mill—Garden—Indian village,
remarkably old woman—Ball, with Scotch reel—Embarkation—Carcase
of right whale—Perfect paradise for fish—Bishop's present of wine—
San Pedro, pueblo of Nuestra Senora, with its bulls and its bears—
Mission of San Gabriel—Valley of the Tulares, bands of horses—
44 Police" of California—San Diego—Concluding remarks on California
—Gradual spread of English race in new world—Ultimate destiny of
California—British claims, financial and territorial—Arrival in region
of trade-winds   . . . . . a .    372
aS®aBK£S3^^£££#££& k__
Course and distance—Appropriate name of Pacific Ocean—Gradual
increase of temperature — Bottle-nosed porpoise and flying fish—Alba-
tros and tropic bird—Amphibious voyage, its literary advantages—
Volcanic mountains of Hawaii—Early discovery of Sandwich Islands by
Spaniards—Cook's discovery accidental—Mutual relations of the islands
of the group—Volcanic origin of group—Volcanic agency, its general
direction—Lahaina, residence of king—Communication between islands
in days of barbarism—Peopling of Polynesia—Brig Joseph Peabody—
Ruggedness of Woahoo—First impression of torrid zone—Distant view
of Honolulu—Harbour, its discovery—English pilots—Coral reefs—
Every thing to remind us of England, contrast between us and early
navigators—Harbour, general description—Towing through channel—
Governor Kekuanaoa and others—Our residence—Honolulu, population
and buildings, climate, &c.—Valley of Nuannau, scene of -important
battle .......    412 Frontispiece
to face page 1
wjaaKa?ffl**aBCSW4ft; wmmmtm—m
HI——I      rat  M«C!L3*rHJnUK&fte9C^^ NARRATIVE
Departure from London — Voyage across the Atlantic — Halifax—
Boston—Route to Montreal—Montreal—Departure from La Chine—
Ottawa — Matawa — Height of land — Lake Nipissing, Ice—French
River—Lake Huron—Sault Sainte Marie—Lake Superior, a Week in
the Ice—Chippeway Indians—Kaministaquoia, Kakabeka Fall—Height
of land—Route to Lac la Pluie—Fort Frances, Chippeway Indians—
Riviere la Pluie—Lake of the Woods—River Winipeg—Lake Winipeg
—Red River—Lower Fort—Departure of Lords Caledon and Mulgrave
for Buffalo Hunting.
On the morning of the 3rd of March, 1841, 1 left
London for Liverpool. In addition to my secretary,
Mr. Hopkins, I was accompanied by four or five gentlemen connected with the Hudson's Bay Company's
service, and also by a gentleman in the service of the
Russian American Company, on his route from Petersburg to Sitka, which his superiors were thus preferring
for him, as shorter by thirty degrees of longitude, the
breadth of all the rest of the world, to that of his native
empire.    In less than ten hours we reached our port of
/ A 2
embarkation, taking up our quarters for the night at the
Grecian Hotel in Dale Street.
Next day, after an early dinner, we were conveyed in
a small steamer from the Egremont Pier to the Caledonia, Captain McKellar, a vessel of 1,300 tons, and 450
horse power. At half-past five, the last of the passengers, amounting in all to forty-four, having arrived,
together with the mail-bags, the melancholy signal of
the farewell bell was immediately followed by a rush of
" friends " for the shore; and, in ten minutes more, at
the sound of the bugle, the good ship's paddles were
plashing in the waters of the Mersey.
The first incident that varied the usual monotony of
sickness and discomfort was the glimpse of a whale in
the morning of our sixth day. In fact, we nearly ran
foul of the monster while he was lounging on the surface,
within a few feet of the paddles; but, not liking the
look of us, he immediately dived, so that we saw nothing
more of him. Next day furnished us with a still richer
theme for discussion. While we ourselves had so little
wind that all our light canvass was set, we met, at some
distance, a ship under close-reefed topsails, pronounced,
by the by, by some of our " blue noses " to be the An-
dover, bound from New Brunswick for Liverpool. Though
some of us took the responsibility of ridiculing the
timidity of the unknown skipper, yet our weatherwise
friends concluded that he must have just escaped from
a gale, of which we were very likely to have our turn.
Within eight and forty hours, their prognostications
were verified with a vengeance.
On the morning of our ninth day, Captain McKellar
discovered that the barometer had fallen between two
iKSiKrafflBffi^fflBe^^^ls^giggl ROUND THE WORLD.
and three inches during the night, having descended to
26°.9,—the lowest point which, in his experience, it had
ever reached. The wind gradually increased in violence,
till, by three in the afternoon, it blew a perfect hurricane, during which, so far from being able to mount the
rigging, the crew could hardly show themselves on deck,
unless sheltered from the fury of the blast. One of our
boats was swept overboard; part of our cutwater was
carried away; much of our canvass was torn to rags;
and seven of our men were severely injured. The sea
had risen into mountains, whose whitened crests, shorn
off as soon as formed, were scattered through the air
like drifts of snow, while the solid masses, one after
another, were making a clean breach over us. The sky,
as if its murky curtain rested on the very waters, was
almost as dark as night; the rain fell heavily; and our
ship, like " a thing of life," might have been supposed
to struggle and groan in the agonies of dissolution.
If the scene without was awful, the scene within was
still more appalling to the nerves. Passengers and crew
alike appeared to give themselves up for lost; and, in
fact, the more experienced among us, as being more
sensible of the extent and variety of our perils, laboured
under greater terror than the rest. The storm came
from all the points of the compass in succession, commencing at N. E., travelling round to E., S., and W.,
and finally settling about N. This characteristic of the
tempest raised such a cross sea, that, even when, about
six in the morning, the wind abated, the vessel could not
keep her course; and she was, therefore, laid-to for
several hours.
On the second day thereafter, the sea still running
B 2 *««*
high, with a foul wind, the Caledonia, in a heavy pitch,
carried away her jib-boom; and, in order to clear the
wreck, she was obliged to make better weather of it, by
putting about a little. Within four-and-twenty hours
more, a depth of fifty-three fathoms showed that we
were now on the banks of Newfoundland. Had our hurricane caught us here amid the short swell of the shallow
waters, we should, in all human probability, have met
the same fate as befel the unfortunate President, under
somewhat similar circumstances, in this very storm.
Towards the close of our next day's dinner, the cry
of " land | sent the hungriest of us on deck, when the
supposed terra firma proved to be only an immense field
of ice, which, from the inequalities of its surface, had
assumed, with a little help from refraction, the appearance of a wooded country. As this floating island lay
in our very path, we were obliged to round it, keeping
along its southern 'shore; and so extensive was it, that
we did not get fairly rid of it till midnight.
While we were coasting along what had been mistaken for land, the cry of " light ahead " turned out to
be a still more extraordinary error. As we were several
hundred miles to the eastward of Isle des Sables, the
announcement in question excited the greatest astonishment. Seeing, however, was believing; and all the
knowing ones, though sorely puzzled as to the cause of
the phenomenon, did yet clearly distinguish a magnificent revolver. The paddles were accordingly stopped
to have a cast of the lead, while every glass on board
was gazing intently in the right direction. But, in a
short time, old Mother Earth was ascertained to be the
principal revolver in the case, for, in rather less than
as&ttfasoMKcF&iigg ROUND THE WORLD.
half an hour, the unknown light proved to be a newly-
risen star. This optical illusion was doubtless connected
with the proximity of the adjacent glacier, as well as
of some icebergs that we saw about the same time; and
the aurora borealis, whether it be an optical illusion or
not, was peculiarly vivid for several hours during the
About noon on the 18th, we descried the dreary
shores of Nova Scotia, covered with snow and lined
with ice; and, by five in the evening, after a run of
precisely fourteen days, we entered the harbour of Halifax, amid the hearty cheers of a large concourse of
" blue noses." We did not, however, come to our
moorings before half-past six, fully half an hour after
sunset. Almost immediately afterwards, the Britannia,
belonging to the same line as the Caledonia, came into
port, on her homeward voyage from Boston to England,
in order to receive the mail. The simultaneous arrival
of two large steamers naturally threw the town into a
state of great animation and bustle, more particularly
as each of them would transact all her business with the
least possible delay, or rather with the greatest possible
To the establishment of this communication between
the two continents, Halifax owes much, both on commercial and on political grounds. Still, however, the
work is only half done. In summer, to be sure, the
mails are conveyed so rapidly to Quebec by steam, that
the first news from England is received throughout
Canada by that route; but, during the winter, the bags
are dragged over such wretched roads, that they every
where meet, as  stale  news, the letters  and journals OVERLAND JOURNEY
which have accompanied themselves from England, and
preferred the circuitous route through the United States
to the straight cut through British America.
Of this flourishing city and its celebrated haven I
could not presume to offer any opinion, after a nocturnal visit of only five hours. We started again for
Boston soon after eleven in the evening, several of
our passengers having left us, but many more having
joined us.
On the forenoon of the 20th we entered Boston Bay.
The upper end of the inlet presented many small
islands, on which were fortifications, not yet finished,
of considerable strength. The navigation appeared to
be intricate; but by half-past eleven we were safely
moored, having accomplished a distance of three hundred and ninety miles from Halifax in thirty-six hours.
As the officers of the customs allowed our baggage to
pass without examination, we soon found ourselves in
the heart of the city, which was full of life and bustle.
There was here far more to remind an Englishman
of home than any thing I had ever seen in New York.
Even before landing, the gently undulating shores of
the bay, highly cultivated, and partially covered with
snow, had recalled to my memory the white cliffs and
green hills of England; and within the town, the oldest
and finest in the Union, both the buildings and the
inhabitants had a peculiarly English air about them.
Moreover, in many respects, that do not strike the eye,
Boston resembles her fatherland. She is the centre and
soul of those religious establishments, which have placed
the United States next to Great Britain in the divine
task of shedding on the nations the light of the Gospel;
F^ia8s*BtsaBNmEG&siiasmgB&&y&B& ROUND THE WORLD.
she is the nursery and home of most of those commercial adventurers, who have elevated the influence of
America above that of England, in more than one of
those regions which lie within the contemplated range
of my wanderings.
But Boston has more of America about her, as well
as more of England, than any one of her republican
rivals. It was in her town-hall that the revolution was
planned; it was from her quays that the imports, which
the old country taxed, were thrown into the tide; it
was by her citizens that freedom's first battle was
fought on Bunker's Hill. Both of these apparently contradictory characteristics of Boston are mainly owing
to one and the same cause. The Pilgrim Fathers were
republicans in feeling, while their descendants continued to be so under a practically republican constitution ; and the close resemblance to England in every
thing but the government of the church and the state
was the natural result of the fact, that the colony, of
which Boston was the capital, virtually began her
career, as a portion of the old country, by receiving
into her bosom all the various grades and classes of
society at once.
After dining at the Tremont, an* excellent hotel, we
left the city at fiYe in the afternoon, by railway, for
Lowell, the Manchester of New England; and, proceeding thence by a similar mode of conveyance, we
reached Nashua, distant thirty-five miles from Boston,
about nine o*clock. In 1819 this place was a mere
village, of about nineteen houses in all; but now it contained, in connexion with its manufactories, nineteen
thousand inhabitants, with the usual concomitants of 8
churches, hotels, prisons, banks, &c.    The country was
industriously cultivated and densely peopled.
As our party, by the addition of some of our fellow-
passengers in the Caledonia, was now increased to fourteen, we formed ourselves, on starting from Nashua in
the morning, into two detachments, which pursued different roads, in order to lessen the chances of famine
and detention. One band dashed off in a sleigh with
six horses; and the other, to which I belonged, rattled
along in a coach and four. We soon passed into New
Hampshire, which is hilly and well settled ; but whether or not it were skilfully cultivated the snow prevented us from judging.
We reached Concord, the capital of the state, in time
for a rather late breakfast, for which a drive of thirty-
five miles had thoroughly sharpened the appetite.
Here, as bad luck would have it, we exchanged our
coach for a sleigh. For the first few miles we congratulated ourselves on the improvement; but the sun, as
the day advanced, kept thawing the snow, till at last,
on coming to a deep drift, we were repeatedly obliged
to get out, sometimes walking up to our knees, and
sometimes helping to lift the vehicle with levers out of
the snow. About three o'clock, however, we fairly
stuck fast, in spite of all our hoisting, and hauling, and
pushing. The horses struggled and plunged to no purpose, excepting that the leaders, after breaking part of
their tackle, galloped off " over the hills and far away,"
leaving us to kick our heels in the slush, till they were
brought back, after a chase of several miles.
Having extricated ourselves by placing our baggage
on another sleigh, which was condescendingly driven by
" Captain" Smith, we kept rolling and pitching, till,
about eleven at night, we broke down with a crash in
a deep drift. Assistance being procured, the body of
the sleigh was mounted on a clumsy pair of runners;
and, as the night was cold, we were all glad to lend a
helping hand, to save our fingers from being frostbitten. At Lebanon, a village of Quakers, which we
reached about half-past one, we exchanged our disabled
vehicle for a more serviceable sleigh, consoling ourselves
at the same time with a good supper..
Our road was somewhat romantic, being cut on the
face of a range of abrupt hills that overlooked the
Connecticut River. Reaching the village of Royalton
at sunrise, we again exchanged our vehicle for the
equipage in which our competitors in the race to Montreal had performed the last stage; and, while we were
drawing odious comparisons to the prejudice of our new
outfit, we were soon put in better humour by finding in
the bottom of the sleigh a writing-desk, containing the
money and papers of one of my own original companions, who had joined the other detachment.
We were now travelling through Vermont,—the State
of green mountains. The country appeared to be well
worthy of its name; and one part of the road was
peculiarly beautiful, passing through a narrow valley,
known as the Gorge, between steep hills on either side.
Montpelier, where we breakfasted, was perhaps the
sweetest spot that I saw on my travels, looking rather
like the residence of hereditary ease and luxury, than
the capital of a young republic of thrifty graziers. It
was, in fact, an assemblage of villas. The wide streets
ran between rows of trees; and the houses, each in its OVERLAND JOURNEY
own little garden, were shaded by verandahs. By
eleven at night we overtook our friends at the American Hotel in Burlington, on Lake Champlain. After
supper, at which each party recounted to the other its
various perils by I flood and field," we retired about
one o'clock to obtain a little repose, after forty-two
hours of hard jolting, leaving orders to call us at five
in the morning.
Four hours being very scanty allowance of sleep for
two whole days, I was not surprised at being nearly
as drowsy as ever when I was roused by a peal of blows
at my door. In spite, however, of laziness, and a cold
morning to boot, I had completed the operations of
washing and dressing by candle-light, having even
donned hat and gloves to join my companions, when
the waiter entered my room with a grin. | I guess,"
said the rascal, " I've put my foot in it; are you the
man that wanted to be called at two ?" " No," was my
reply. " Then," said he, " I calculate, I've fixed the
wrong man, so you had better go to bed again."
Having delivered himself of this friendly advice, he
went to awaken my neighbour, who had all this time
been quietly enjoying the sleep that properly belonged
to me. Instead of following the fellow's recommendation, I sat up for the rest of the night, thinking one
hour's snooze hardly worth the trouble of rubbing my
eyes a second time.
In the afternoon, an hour or so after passing the town
of Highgate, the outposts of one of our regiments, that
were stationed in a dark forest, showed us that we had
got beyond the frontier. At three in the morning, we
crossed the Richelieu, which empties Lake Champlain
ggg»aga«gsseggEg-3g«ttsaa3^^ ROUND THE WORLD.
into the St. Lawrence, by a wooden bridge, a good
deal the worse for the wear, and three quarters of a mile
in length.
Being now in the village of St. John's, one or two
of us went ahead to the principal inn; and, as our
knocking and shouting elicited no answer, we enforced
our noisy salutations by adding that there were fourteen
more coming, with a whole host of drivers. When at
length we effected an entrance, eagerly demanding fires
and suppers, the landlord was not to be found, though,
on examining the premises, his lair was warm, and his
clothes, down even to the indispensable garment, were
all waiting their owner's appearance more patiently
than we were. The establishment was searched up
stairs and down stairs, inside and outside, while the
luckless man's brother wandered about, the very ghost
of despair; and we were inclined to reproach ourselves
as the innocent cause of the domestic tragedy. In a
few minutes, however, did " mine host" return with a
face wreathed in the blandest smiles. The mystery was
now quickly explained. The election had taken place
the day before, accompanied by much rioting; and the
landlord, having zealously espoused the cause of the
successful candidate, had been threatened with all sorts
of vengeance by the losing party. The doomed innkeeper had accordingly considered us, more particularly
after the announcement of our numbers, as the bearers
of his death-warrant, brimful, of course, of wrath and
whiskey; and, as the fiercest fire-eater would have done
in his place, he smuggled himself away for dear life into
some unmentionable and inscrutable corner or other.
This little adventure and our keen appetites together OVERLAND JOURNEY
made us forget our fatigues over a substantial meal,
supper and breakfast in one ; and, finding all the beds
engaged, we continued our journey to La Prairie, and
thence, across the ice of the St. Lawrence, to Montreal.
In traversing the noble river, we enjoyed perhaps the
best view that can be obtained of the metropolis of the
Canadas, rising from the waters' edge up the immediate
bank of the stream, and then stretching away along the
face of the higher ground behind. If the aspect of the
city be grander from the mountain, as it is called, in
the rear at any given point, the sight from that part of
the St. Lawrence, which we passed, is superior in this
respect, that, besides being nearly as complete at every
instant, it rapidly evolves an endless variety, during a
race of about seven miles.
On this flourishing emporium I shall offer only this
single remark, that it contrasts, as if in a nutshell, the
characteristic qualities of the two races that inhabit it.
The French were the original possessors of the city,
while the English at first found themselves to be houseless strangers in a strange land. But the latter have
forced their way by inches from the waters' edge into
nearly all that constituted Montreal in the days of
Wolfe and Amherst; and the former have been driven
from their ancient seats into the newer sections of the
city, being gradually jostled out even there from every
thing like a thoroughfare of commerce.
On the 1st of May, the season being more backward
than usual, the navigation was so far open as to permit
the steamers to ply on the St. Lawrence as far as
Beauharnois and Chateauguay ; and on that day, therefore, the heavy canoes were despatched for the interior
i.aargag^^£flaa^^ ROUND THE WORLD. 13
under the charge of one of the gentlemen, who had
accompanied me from London. The weather was still
cold and unsteady; patches of deep snow were to be
seen; and neither meadow nor bush displayed any
symptom of reviving vegetation.
In the light canoes I was to have several fellow-
travellers not connected with the Hudson's Bay Company's service. My friend, Colonel Oldfield, head of the
engineer department in Canada, was to accompany me,
along with his aide-de-camp, Mr. Bainbrigge, as far as
Lake Nipissing, in order to survey the country with
respect to the means of navigation; and the Earls of
Caledon and Mulgrave were to be my fellow-travellers
all the way to Red River settlement, whence they intended to proceed to hunt the buffalo.
Under these circumstances, our departure excited
more than ordinary interest; and accordingly, on the
morning of the 4th of May, many friends of my fellow-
travellers and myself came out to an early breakfast
in order to witness our start for the wilderness. By
nine o'clock, our two canoes were floating in front of the
house, on the Lachine Canal, constructed to avoid the
famous rapids of St. Louis. The crews, thirteen men
to the one vessel and fourteen to the other, consisted
partly of Canadians, but principally of Iroquois from
the opposite village of Kaughnawaga, the whole being
under the charge of my old and faithful follower, Morin.
To do credit to the concern in the eyes of the strangers,
the voyageurs had been kept as sober as voyageurs
could be kept on such an occasion ; and each one had
been supplied with a feather for his cap. This was all
very fine; but the poor fellows were sadly disappointed, •mm\
that a northwester, which was blowing, prevented the
hoisting of our flags.
The canoes, those tiny vehicles of an amphibious
navigation, are constructed in the following manner.
The outside is formed of the thick and tough bark of
the birch, the sheets being sewed together with the
root of the pine-tree split into threads, and the seams
gummed to make them air-tight. The gunwales are of
pine or cedar of about three inches square ; and in their
lower edges are inserted the ribs, made of thin pieces of
wood, bent to a semicircle. Between the ribs and the
bark is a coating of lathing, which, besides warding off
internal injury from the fragile covering, senves to impart a firmness to the vessel. These canoes are generally about thirty-five feet from stem to stern; and
are five feet wide in the centre, gradually tapering to a
point at each end, where they are raised about a foot.
When loaded, they draw scarcely eighteen inches of
water; and they weigh between three hundred and four
hundred pounds.
When all was ready, the passengers embarked, the
centre of each canoe being appropriated to their accommodation. In the first canoe the two noblemen and
myself took our seats; and the second contained Colonel
Oldfield, Mr. Bainbrigge, our Russian companion, and
Mr. Hopkins. At ten minutes before eleven, the men
struck up one of their hereditary ditties, and off we
went amid the cheers and adieus of our assembled
As the wind was high, the waves of the St. Lawrence
rather resembled those of the sea than of a river, while,
borne on the biting gale, the snow drifted heavily in
^ssssemsisgsmME^g^s^^mBa^im ROUND THE WORLD.
our faces. At Point Clare, where we dined, we luckily
obtained the shelter of a roof, through the politeness of
Mr. Charlebois, whose wife proved to be an old friend
of mine, being a daughter of Mr. Dease, the northern
discoverer, one of the gentlemen who had accompanied
me across the Atlantic. At St. Anne's rapid, on the
Ottawa, we neither sang our evening hymn nor bribed
the lady patroness with shirts, caps, &c.^for a propitious
journey :—but proceeded.
In the Lake of the Two Mountains we found our
heavy canoes, now three days out from Lachine, still
wind-bound; and, after bidding them good bye with
our lighter, craft and stronger crews, we reached the
Hudson's Bay Company's establishment about half-past
six. On approaching the land, we were saluted by the
one cannon of the fort, while Mr. Mac Tavish waited on
the wharf to give us a hearty welcome ; and, on reaching
the house, we were kindly received by his lady. After
being resuscitated by warm fires and an excellent supper,
we spread our bedding on the floor.
Being trammelled by a roof, we indulged ourselves to
the unusually late hour of half-past two; and even then
we lost a little time in searching for some of our men,
who, according to custom in such cases, were out of the
way. In consequence of the height of the water, the
forests along the bank appeared to grow out of a lake.
At the foot of the Long Sault, a succession of rapids
of about twelve miles in length, we breakfasted. Soon
afterwards, we reached the Lock of Carillon, the first of
a series of artificial works, erected by government
to avoid the rapids in question; passing through the
whole, without delay or expense, as part and parcel of
i &mm
Colonel Oldfield's suite. In the lake above Grenville,
into which these works conducted us, we met a steamer
gliding so gently and silently along, that she might
almost be supposed to have gone astray on these once
secluded waters.
Next morning, after toiling for six hours, we breakfasted at eight, with the wet ground for our table, and
with rain, in place of milk, to cool our tea. By one in
the afternoon, while attempting to pass close under the
falls of the Rideau, we were swept into the middle of
the river by the violence of the current, our gunwales
being covered by the foam that floated on the water.
These Falls are about fifty feet in height and three
hundred in breadth, being at the time we saw them
more magnificent than usual by reason of the high state
of the waters. It is from their resemblance to a curtain that they are distinguished as the Rideau; and they
also give this name to the river that feeds them, which
again lends the same appellation to the canal that connects the Ottawa with Lake Ontario.
Through a wide and smooth reach of the stream we
came in an hour to the Chaudiere rapids, forming the
lowest of a series of impediments which extends upwards to the lake of the same name. Between the
Rideau and the Chaudiere there is a remarkable contrast. The former is a mere fall of water from one level
to another, but the latter presents a desperate struggle
of the majestic Ottawa, leaping, with a roar of thunder,
from ledge to ledge and from rock to rock, till at last,
wearied, as it were, with its buffetings, it sinks exhausted
into the placid pool below.
At the outlet of the canal, which is situated between
n i
the Rideau and the Chaudiere, stands Bytown, named
after my late much valued friend, Colonel By of the
Engineers; while on the opposite bank the ground
above the Chaudiere is occupied by the once flourishing
^village of Hull, the creation of an enterprising backwoodsman of New England, named Wright.
Up to Chaudiere Lake the canoes were sent perfectly
light by water, while the baggage and passengers were
conveyed on wheels to the prettily situated village of
Aylmer. Being here rejoined by our little squadron,
we encamped up the lake on the grounds of my friend
General Lloyd, from whose hospitable mansion our tea-
table, if the bottom of a.tent could be deemed such,
was provided, not for the first time in my voyaging
experience, with the luxuries of milk and cream.
Here the bull-frogs, gathering new vigour from the
light of our fires, serenaded us all night, to our infinite
annoyance. Soon after sunrise, we made a portage
round Les Chutes des Chats into the rapids which terminate the lake of the same name. In the course
of the day, we had heavy work with a succession of difficult portages, breakfasting on the first, and meeting on
the second my trusty half-bred guide Bernard, who
now came into my canoe, while Morin was transferred
to the other. The last of the series, the Grand Calumet,
we were obliged to leave for next morning's amusement,
though it was only half a mile distant.
Our encampment would have formed a rich and varied
subject for a painter's brush. The tents were pitched
in a small clump of pines, while round a blazing fire
the passengers were collected amid a medley of boxes,
barrels, pots, cloaks, &c.; and to the left, on a rock
vol. i. c
I mm\
above the foaming rapids, were lying the canoes; the
men flitting athwart their own separate fire as actively as
if they had enjoyed a holiday, and anxiously watching a
huge cauldron that was suspended over the flames by
three poles. The foreground consisted of two or three
magnificent trees on a slight eminence; and the background was formed by dense woods and a gleaming
It was six in the morning before we left the Grand
Calumet behind us ; and thence we proceeded without
farther impediment to Fort Coulonge, distant about
two hundred and ten miles from Montreal. Some of
us had looked forward to this place with a good deal of
interest, as a short halt would here be necessary in
order to transact business and receive supplies. In
addition to Mr. Siveright, who was in charge of the
establishment, I here met Mr. Cameron, another of the
Company's officers, who had come all the way from his own
station of Lake Temis-cameng to wait my arrival. As
the latter gentleman accompanied us, on our departure,
with his canoe and five men, our party now became quite
formidable, mustering forty persons in all. After making
portages at several rapids, and among them the justly
admired Culle Butte, racing round the base of a rocky
hill in a very narrow channel, we encamped for the
night at the entrance of Lac des Allumettes.
In the morning—the morning, be it observed, of the
9th of May — the water was crusted with ice thick
enough to require the aid of poles in order to break a
path for the canoes. After touching at the Company's
post on the borders of the lake, we halted at five, being
three hours earlier than usual, for breakfast, that the
K,3f* »K«. X&l$ZSK2Bj£~StttX£aitxrH?^ ROUND THE WORLD.
sun might do our work for us by melting away our icy
barrier. We soon stumbled on another obstacle in the
shape of a boom placed athwart the river by the lumberers of the neighbourhood.
The custom among these hardy fellows is for each
person to place his mark on his own timber, when he
fells it in winter; the logs are then dragged to the
bank of the river over the snow, there remaining to be
wafted by the rising of the waters to the nearest boom.
At this common point of union, each lumberer combines first his sticks into cribs and then his cribs into
rafts—the latter being like floating hamlets, with four
or five huts and a population of twenty or thirty men.
In descending a rapid, the raft is again separated into
its cribs, each crib generally carrying its own proportion
of the crew; and in some places, at the Joachin, for
instance, all fastenings are untied so as to let the trees
take their chance, one by one, down the unmanageable
These lumberers may be considered as the pioneers
of that commerce, which cannot fail ere long to find its
way up this noble river, abounding, as it does, in every
conceivable requisite for trade and agriculture, such as
water-power, abundance of timber, good climate, and a
variety of soil, sandy, stony, and rich. The scenery is
generally picturesque, here rising in lofty rooks, and
there clothed with forests to the water's edge; and the
whole, being now deserted by its ancient lords, is left
free to the civilizing influences of the axe and the
In the course of this day and the next, we made
several portages, reaching, about five in the afternoon,
c 2 20
the point at which the Matawa flows into the Ottawa
from the south-west. This spot might be considered as
the first grand hinge in our route. We were here to
leave the magnificent stream, on which we had accomplished the entire distance of nearly four hundred miles;
for even at Lachine, and still farther down, the two
great rivers of Canada, the Ottawa with its earthy
yellow, and the St. Lawrence with its lake-born blue,
are nearly as distinct from each other as when rushing
to their confluence down their respective channels. At
this place was a small post belonging to the Company,
where we left Mr. Bainbrigge to await the arrival of a
small canoe, which I had ordered to follow us from
Fort Coulonge to secure the retreat of Colonel Oldfield;
and, as soon as his little vessel arrived, he was to
follow, and, if possible, to overtake us.
At one of the rapids below Matawa, the heavy canoes,
which came up a few days after ourselves, lost a very
valuable chest of medicines,—one of the very few accidents which could be imputed to the carelessness of a
voyageur during the long course of my experience.
This morning, however, we were reminded that serious
disasters had occurred and might occur again, for we
breakfasted near two crosses, that had been placed
over the bodies of two men, who were drowned, while
running the adjacent rapid.
Before bidding good bye to our old friend, the Ottawa, let me here offer a description of a day's march,
as a general specimen of the whole journey. To begin
with the most important part of our proceedings, the
business of encamping for our brief night, we selected^
about sunset, some dry and tolerably clear spot;   and,
immediately on landing, the sound of the axe would be
ringing through the woods, as the men were felling
whole trees for our fires, and .preparing, if necessary, a
space for our tents. In less than ten minutes our three
lodges would be pitched, each with such a blaze in front
as virtually imparted a new sense of enjoyment to all
the young campaigners, while through the crackling
flames were to be seen the requisite number of pots and
kettles for our supper. Our beds were next laid, consisting of an oil-cloth spread on the bare earth, with
three blankets and a pillow, and, when occasion demanded, with cloaks and great coats at discretion; and,
whether the wind howled or the rain poured, our pavilions of canvass formed a safe barrier against the weather.
While part of our crews, comprising all the landsmen,
were doing duty as stokers, and cooks, and architects,
and chambermaids, the more experienced voyageurs,
after unloading the canoes, had drawn them on the
beach with their bottoms upwards, to inspect, and, if
needful, to renovate the stitching and the gumming;
and as the little vessels were made to incline on one
side to windward, each with a roaring fire to leeward,
the crews, every man in his own single blanket, managed
to set wind and rain and cold at defiance, almost as
effectually as ourselves.
Weather permitting, our slumbers would be broken
about one in the morning by the cry of " Leve, leve,
leve !" In five minutes, woe to the inmates that were
slow in dressing; the tents were tumbling about our
ears; and, within half an hour, the camp would be
raised, the canoes laden, and the paddles keeping time
to some merry old song.    About eight o'clock, a con- &P&M1
venient place would be selected for breakfast, about
three quarters of an hour being allotted for the multifarious operations of unpacking and repacking the
equipage, laying and removing the cloth, boiling and
frying, eating and drinking; and, while the preliminaries were arranging, the hardier among us would
wash and shave, each person carrying soap and towel
in his pocket, and finding a mirror in the same sandy or
rocky basin that held the water. About two in the
afternoon we usually put ashore for dinner ; and, as
this meal needed no fire, or at least got none, it was
not allowed to occupy more than twenty minutes or half
an hour.
Such was the routine of our journey, the day, generally speaking, being divided into six hours of rest and
eighteen of labour. This almost incredible toil the
voyageurs bore without a murmur, and generally with
such a hilarity of spirit as few other men could sustain
for a single forenoon.
But the quantity of the work, even more decidedly
than the quantity, requires operatives of iron mould.
In smooth water, the paddle is plied with twice the
rapidity of the oar, taxing both arms and lungs to the
utmost extent; amid shallows, the canoe is literally
dragged by the men, wading to their knees or their
loins, while each poor fellow, after replacing his drier
half in his seat, laughingly shakes the heaviest of the
wet from his legs over the gunwale, before he again
gives them an inside berth j in rapids,- the towing-line
has to be hauled along ever rocks and stumps, through
swamps and thickets, excepting that, when the ground
is utterly impracticable, poles are substituted, and oc-
E ?«»™*-^^*>**'«~"-'*^ ROUND THE WORLD.
casionally also the bushes on the shore. Again, on the
portages, where the tracks are of all imaginable kinds
and degrees of badness, the canoes and their cargoes
are never carried across in fewer than two or three
trips—the little vessels alone monopolizing, on the first
turn, the more expert half of their respective crews.
Of the baggage, each man has to carry at least two
pieces, estimated at a hundred and eighty pounds avoirdupois, which he suspends in slings of leather placed
across the forehead, so that he has his hands free to
clear the way among the branches of the standing trees
and over the prostrate trunks.
But, in addition to the separate labours of the land
and the water, the poor fellows have to endure a combination of both sorfe of hardship at least three or four
times every day. The canoes can seldom approach
near enough to the bank to enable the passengers to
step.ashore from the gunwale ; and, no sooner is a halt
made, than the men are in the water to ferry us on their
backs to dry ground. In this unique department of
their duties they seem to take a pride; and a little
fellow often ambitiously tries to get possession, of the
heaviest customer in the party, considerably exceeding,
as has often been the case in my experience, the standard
aforesaid, of two pieces of baggage.
To return to our voyage up the Matawa, I could
not help remarking the influence of the state of the
weather on a traveller's estimate of scenery. Under
our. sunny sky, the winding banks, wooded, in every
bay and on every point, down to the waters' edge, were
charmingly doubled, as it were, in the smooth and
transparent stream;   while Captain  Back, under the 24
horrors of a heavy shower, described this as the most
dismal spot on the face of the earth, as a fit residence
only for the demon of despair. Rain, be it observed, is
a comparative trifle, while one enjoys the shelter of an
oil-cloth in the canoe. The misery hardly begins to be
felt, till you are deposited, with all your seams exposed
to the weather, on the long grass, though even this
stage has the merit of being far less wretched than that
of forcing your way among the dripping branches.
Here, for the event is worth noting, we encountered the
first attack of the musquitoes.
Next day, we made eleven portages, crossing the
height of land and reaching a feeder of Lake Nipissing.
The only portage worthy of special notice was that of
the Falls of Lake Talon, where a large body of water
rushes through a narrow opening in the rocks from a
height of about fifty feet. Separated from the boiling
cauldron, into which the torrent throws itself by a projecting ledge, a silent pool, forming a kind of gloomy
recess, carries the canoes to the foot of a rock so
smooth and steep as to be almost impracticable to
novices. This declivity and a narrow platform at the
top constitute the portage. This spot furnishes a
striking proof that the waters of this country must
once have occupied a much higher level. The platform
must have been part of the bed of the stream; the
declivity must have formed a section of the Fall; and
the dark and stagnant recess must have been a foaming
whirlpool. Many other portages on the route present
similar features, though perhaps in an inferior degree.
We had now got fairly into the region of the fur-traders,
beyond the ken alike of the farmer and the lumberer;
and we' here discovered the traces of beaver in the pieces
of willow, which had been barked by this extraordinary
To make the day's work with our eleven portages
still harder, we did not encamp till after ten at night,
while the closing division of our toil consisted of a
swamp of about three quarters of a mile in length, the
tract being, on the whole, the wettest and heaviest on
our journey. Our resting-place was bad — the ground
damp, the water muddy, the frogs obstreperous, and
the snakes familiar. In spite, however, of all these
trifles, fatigue was as good as an opiate ; and in sound
sleep we soon forgot the troubles of the day.
After indulging in the morning till half-past two, we
reached Lake Nipissing at daybreak. Here I left
Colonel Oldfield, instructing Mr. Cameron, at the same
time, to remain with him till Mr. Bainbrigge should
arrive. After seeing them safely planted by the side
of a glorious fire, we bade them adieu. In less, however, than half an hour our progress was arrested by a
field of ice; and, having worked our way through it to
the shore with difficulty, we cleared our ground, pitched
our tents, and resigned ourselves to our fate.
After the fatigues of yesterday, our men, delighted
with the godsend, soon fell asleep on the bare ground,
even without the trouble of a wish, while we ourselves,
besides making up all arrears of shaving, washing,
dressing, &c, killed time with eating, drinking, chatting,
and strolling. From a native family in the neighbourhood we purchased some fish for a few biscuits; and
we soon found that the biscuits might have been saved,
for we succeeded in spearing twenty or thirty dorey, OVERLAND JOURNEY
averaging two pounds each. Having attempted in the
afternoon to find a path for our canoes, we were obliged
to encamp for the night with a gain of only three quarters of a mile.
Making way next morning, we breakfasted on the
portage between Lake Nipissing and its outlet, French
River. On this stream we saw a few savages, who,
though poorly clad, appeared to be faring well. Here
we ran our first rapids; and in the afternoon we made a
portage at the Recollet Fall, which, throwing itself
from a slanting ledge of rocks almost in the direction
of the river's breadth, leaves hardly room enough for a
canoe to pass between the vortex at its foot and the
perpendicular wall of the opposite bank. As we had
the current in our favour, and were but little impeded
by portages, we made our best march to-day, viz.:
ninety-five miles. Encamping for the night, within
a short distance of Lake Huron, we heard, for the first
time, our little friend the whip-poor-will, a sure harbinger of warm weather; and a pair of these favourites
of the voyageur serenaded us all night with their cheerful cry, which so closely imitates the name, that one is
often inclined to suspect some person of imitating it.
Next morning we descended to Lake Huron through
some remarkable rapids, which, in form and breadth,
bear a close resemblance to canals cut in the solid rock.
In one of these we were nearly snagged, after a fashion
unknown on the Mississippi. While running down in
gallant style, we perceived, by the dim twilight, a tree
bridging the narrow current so as to form a complete
barrier. The paddles were immediately backed; and
a few blows from an axe quickly cleared our passage.
rnir'w mm'ri ROUND THE WORLD.
Before sunrise we entered Lake Huron, having now
before us, with the single exception of Sault Sainte
Marie, seven or eight hundred miles of still water to
the head of Lake Superior.
We dined on an island celebrated for a stone
which, when struck, emits a musical or metallic sound ;
and about eight in the evening we reached the Com-
pany's establishment, taking the name of La Cloche
from the natural bell just mentioned. The northern
shore of Lake Huron consists of rocky hills, dotted with
stunted trees, chiefly pines; and the adjacent waters
are closely studded with islands, varying from ten feet
in diameter to many miles in length. Though the
whole of this neighbourhood may be deemed an almost
hopeless desert, yet the southern side of the lake is
more fertile, as are also the Manitoulin Islands. These
more promising districts are pretty well peopled either
by Europeans or by Indians.
Next day, being the 16th of the month, and the
thirteenth from Lachine, we reached the Sault Sainte
Marie about five in the afternoon. This celebrated
strait empties Lake Superior into Lake Huron, having
a British settlement, with a post of the Hudson's Bay
Company on the one side, and an American village,
with an inconsiderable garrison, on the other. Haying
left our baggage to be conveyed -across the portage in
carts, we visited our establishment, under the charge of
Mr. Ballenden; and we were here mortified to learn
from Mr. J. D. Cameron, one of the Company's principal officers, that the ice of Lake Superior was still as
firm and solid as in the depth of winter.
This was likely to be a far more seiious and obstinate
business "than that of Lake Nipissing. We, however,
pushed forward, encamping at Pointe aux Pins, about
nine miles distant, without having seen the enemy. We
were accompanied by Mr. Cameron, who was bound for
Michipicoton as well as ourselves, and also by Mr. Bal-
lenden, who was to pass the night with us for the transacting of business; and, as a curious contrast to the
proximity of the ice, the night was so warm, that we
accomplished our reading and writing in the open air
by moonlight.
Next morning, after proceeding six or eight miles,
we found to our sorrow that Mr. Cameron's information
was too true ; and on landing at Gros Cap we discovered
that, as far as the eye could reach, the lake was clad in
its wintry garb. As our camp was likely to be a standing one, we arranged our housekeeping with more than
ordinary care, cutting plenty of firewood, and strewing
our tents with a fragrant carpet of the branches of the
white pine. We here saw our first tokens of returning
spring in many budding flowers ; and, as partridges and
other birds were plentiful, we contrived to pass this,
our first, day of detention very pleasantly.
Next morning, as we had " nae motive" for rising,
any more than the poet of the I Seasons" had, we
luxuriated in bed till the fashionable hour of seven. To
make amends for the delay, we had beautiful weather,
the air calm, the sky cloudless, and the sun powerful;
but to show how little influence all this had on the one
thing needful, the thermometer, which stood at 73° in
the shade, was not far above the freezing point in the
water. In the afternoon, we managed to advance a mile,
in order to gain an elevated point, whence we could give ROUND THE WORLD.
our hopes and fears a wider range. We had really
become very impatient. The heat of the weather appeared to be good for nothing excepting to broil ourselves, for we found the ice, thus at once our bane and
antidote, a highly agreeable addition to our water and
wine. Our brightest prospect, in fact, was that of eating
our way through the luxury.
Early next morning, I received occupation enough for
one day at least. A boat from our establishment
brought me the journal and other papers of my late
lamented relative, Mr. Thomas Simpson, whose successful exertions in arctic discovery and whose untimely
end had excited so much interest in the public mind.
By the same conveyance we got a supply of white fish.
This fish, which is peculiar to North America, is one of
the most delicious of the finny tribe, having the appearance and somewhat the flavour of trout.
In the afternoon, a trapper, who was proceeding to
the Sault Sainte Marie with some natives in a canoe,
informed us that there was open water for a little dig*
tance to the westward. This man's hint enabled us to
gain six miles—a great deal, by the by, where every
little helped.
During the night, a slight breeze broke the field,
though the masses still continued to be closely packed.
We started at three o'clock, and, after a hard day's
work, accomplished about thirty miles. Our progress
was much embarrassed by the mirage, which assumed
various forms, being at one time an island, at another
open water, and then again impenetrable icebergs.
Next morning, starting about seven, we made three
or four miles in six hours; and then, as there was no OVERLAND JOURNEY
suitable spot for encamping, we were obliged to return
to our old quarters, having toiled eight hours in vain, to
great hazard of damaging our frail barks. Next day
we did nothing, being partly deterred from moving
by constant rain, and partly prevented by heavy fog
from seeing the state of the ice. Here we lay, with a
solid lake before us, within a month of midsummer,
and below the latitude of London. To aggravate the
evil, we had no provender remaining but biscuits, which,
such as they were, would not hold out many days
longer. Lord Mulgrave, however, fortunately knocked
down a hare and a partridge for our dinner; while,
curiously enough, Lord Caledon, when we were similarly detained in Lake Nipissing, supplied our table
with fish.
Between three and seven in the morning, we advanced
two miles, being obliged, after this exploit, to make a
halt till noon, on account of the increase of the fog.
After our next move, we pitched our camp,- about eight
in the evening, at the mouth of the Montreal River, not
more than eighteen miles distant from our last encampment. Our march had been extremely tedious, being
effected by forming a lane through the masses of broken
ice. But the last few miles were much less obstructed,
and we began to hope, in right earnest, that the troubles of a week in Lake Superior were drawing to a
close. Resuming our course at two in the morninov
we found fewer difficulties than yesterday, excepting
that, soon after starting, we got enclosed in a field of
ice, which was drifting rapidly out to sea. This circumstance might have proved to be our worst luck of
all, for a heavy gale was blowing from the shore; and
before we could get clear of our dangerous neighbours,
we were about three miles from the land. The weather
was completely characteristic of this inland ocean, a
heavy rain for about ten hours in the morning, and then
a thick fog for the remainder of the day. About four
in the afternoon, we reached Michipicoton, the good
folks of the fort having been prevented by the mist
from knowing anything of our approach, till the familiar song of the voyageurs struck their ears.
At this place, as I could not pay my usual visit to
Moose Factory in July, I was to hold a temporary
council for the Southern Department; and accordingly,
after taking off our wet cloaks and coats, and stowing
away a substantial meal, Mr. Cameron and myself proceeded to business along with Mr. George Keith, the
gentleman in charge of the establishment, and Mr.
Cowie, another of the Company's officers. Feeling the
house uncomfortably close after so Jong an exposure to
the open air, we preferred sleeping in our tents; and,
as the rain fell heavily during the night, we found ourselves next morning in something of a puddle.
Having completed my work by eleven in the forenoon, I again resumed my journey, and we kept paddling away till eight in the evening, in spite of rain,
fog, and wind. For a great distance to the westward
of Miehipicoton, the northern shore of Lake Superior
consists of rugged mountains of bare rock, with a few
scattered trees of stunted growth. The aboriginal population is, of course, very scanty, subsisting almost
entirely on the produce of the waters, such as whitefish,
sturgeon, trout, pike, herring, &c. Occasionally, however, the fisheries fail through the caprice of the finny
' 32
tribes, or from other causes; and in such cases the
miserable natives are maintained, for weeks and months
at a time, at our posts, on potatoes and salted fish.
But it is not in this way alone that the poor savages
are indebted to the fur-traders. To give them the benefit of moral and religious instruction, the Company
has established a missionary of the Wesleyan persuasion
at the Pic, our next halting-place on the lake, and it also
assists two other missionaries, who pay periodical visits
to the different camps. On this subject I do no more
than bare justice in reminding the reader that, on these
shores, as forming a part of Upper Canada,, the Hudson's Bay Company neither enjoys the monopoly of
trade, nor bears the responsibilities of government.
In illustration of the belief of the Indians in a special
Providence, the following story may be worth telling.
Some three or four years ago a party of Saulteaux,
being much pressed by hunger, were anxious to cross
from the mainland to one of their fishing stations, an
island about twenty miles distant; but it was nearly as
dangerous to go as to remain, for the spring had just
reached that critical point, when there was neither open
water nor trustworthy ice. A council being held to
weigh the respective chances of drowning and starving,
all the speakers opposed the contemplated move, till an
old man of considerable influence thus spoke:—" You
know, my friends, that the Great Spirit gave one of
cur squaws a child yesterday. Now, he cannot have
sent it into the world to take it away again directly;
and I would, therefore, recommend our carrying the
child with us, and keeping close to it, as the assurance
of our own safety."    In full reliance on this reasoning,
nearly the whole band immediately committed themselves to the treacherous ice; and they all perished
miserably, to the number of eight and twenty.
During the next two days we made beautiful progress, calling at the Pic, which is prettily situated at
the mouth of a small river of the same name. Though
we had not the pleasure of seeing the resident missionary, who was absent among the Indians, yet we
carried off Mr. Mac Murray, the gentleman in charge,
to our dining-hall, a little rocky island in the vicinity
of his fort. Having a fair wind for part of the time,
we hoisted sail, to the great relief of our men; and,
with the benefit of the full moon, we pressed forward
during the second night, in the hope of reaching Fort
William about sunrise. By four o'clock, however, the
breeze became rather too much for us, particularly as
we had a long traverse ahead, and we accordingly took
shelter at the Thunder Mountain till ten in the morning. The Thunder Mountain is one of the most appalling objects of the kind that I have ever seen, being
a bleak rock, about twelve hundred feet above the level
of the lake, with a perpendicular face of its full height
towards the west; and the Indians have a superstition,
which one can hardly repeat without becoming giddy,
that any person who may scale the eminence, and turn
thrice round on the brink of its fearful wall, will live
for ever. About two in the afternoon, we gladly stepped
ashore at Fort William, situated near the mouth of the
Kaministaquoia River.
Before saying good-bye to Lake Superior, let me add
that, since the date of my visit, the barren rocks which
we passed have become an object of intense interest,
VOL.  I. D 34
promising to rival, in point of mineral wealth, the
Altai Chain and the Uralian Mountains. Iron had long
been known to abound on the northern shore, two
mines having been at one time worked, and abandoned
chiefly on account of temporary obstacles, which the
gradual advance of agriculture and civilization was sure
to remove; and more recently, the southern shore,
though of a much less favourable character in this respect, was found to possess rich veins of copper and
silver. Under these circumstances, various enterprising
inhabitants of Canada have prosecuted investigations,
which, appear to have satisfactorily proved that, in
addition to their iron, the forbidding wastes of the
northern shore contain inexhaustible treasures both of
the precious and of the useful metals, of gold and silver,
of copper and tin; and already have associations been
formed to reap the teeming harvest.
At Fort William we exchanged our two canoes for
three smaller vessels of the same kind, inasmuch as the
waters would henceforward be shallower, and the navigation more intricate. During the interval occupied in
arranging this important matter, with a new distribution of crews and baggage, I had an interview with a
band of Saulteaux or Chippeways, who had been waiting my arrival near the fort. The chamber of audience
was an empty floor in a large store, on one side of
which we took our seats, while the Indians, in all about
forty men, occupied the other, Mr. Swanston, the gentleman in charge, acting as interpreter. The ceremony
of shaking hands with every person having been punctiliously performed, the Indians squatted themselves
on the boards, excepting that their chief, known as
L'Espagnol, stood forward in the centre of the room.
The orator, a tall and handsome man, somewhat advanced
in yeats, was arrayed in a scarlet coat with gold epaulettes, the whole being apparently spick and span new,
for the bright buttons were still enveloped in their original papers ; and whether from the want of inexpresr
sibles, or from a Highland taste, the tail of his shirt
answered the purpose of a kilt.
Having again shaken hands with the air of a prince,
L'Espagnol delivered himself very fluently to the effect,
that he and his followers, after passing from the British
to the Americans, bad soon found reason to reflect that
they had always been well treated by the Hudson's Bay
Company; that, with our leave, they would now settle
near the fort, so that the smoke of their homes might;
thenceforward rise among Canadian forests; and that,
being all Catholics* they should like to have a priest
among them. This speech, at its conclusion, elicited
a unanimous grunt of approbation from L'EspagnoPs
people. In reply, I briefly reminded them that, in defiance of one promise already given, they had kept
wandering from place to place; offering them, at the
same time, protection, if they should decide henceforward to remain here, but declining to interfere in
the matter of their religion. With the help of a present, this answer appeared to satisfy them, and the high
contracting parties separated.
As the navigation for the first fifty miles was much
obstructed by rapids and shallows, we were to be accompanied to that distance by a fourth canoe, as a
tender; and at six o'clock, after a stay of six hours,
our little squadron, in full song, darted merrily up the
D 2 36
•jt     ||'I
beautiful river, whose verdant banks formed a striking
and agreeable contrast with the sterile and rugged coast
of Lake Superior. About eight, we encamped at Pointe
de Meuron, the site of an establishment which was once
maintained here by the Hudson's Bay Company as a
check on Fort William, the grand rendezvous of the
In the morning, there was a sharp frost for some hours
after starting, our extremities being nipped by the cold
and the paddles being coated with ice. Early in the
forenoon, we reached the Mountain Portage formed by
the Kakabeka Falls. Out of sight of the main track—
the scene being accessible only by a tangled path—the
Kaministaquoia, here taking a sudden turn, leaps into
a deep and dark ravine, itself a succession of leaps,
while the spectator stands right in front, near enough
to be covered with the spray. Inferior in volume
alone to Niagara, the Kakabeka has the advantage of
its far-famed rival in height of fall and wildness of
scenery. About the middle of the descent, a beautiful
rainbow, at the time of our visit, spanned the charming
waters, harmonizing sweetly at once with the white
foam, the green woods, and the sombre rocks.
The river, during the day's march, passed through
forests of elm, oak, pine, birch, &c, being studded with
isles not less fertile and lovely than its banks; and
many a spot reminded us of the rich and quiet scenery
of England. The paths of the numerous portages were
spangled with violets, roses, and many other wild
flowers, while the currant, the gooseberry, the raspberry, the plum, the cherry, and even the vine, were
abundant.    All this bounty of nature was imbued, as it
riros»»gca«a«aMCTra&aa^^ jygpws^.y^ ROUND THE WORLD.
were, with life by the cheerful notes of a variety of
birds, and by the restless flutter of butterflies of the
brightest hues. Compared with the adamantine deserts
of Lake Superior, the Kaministaquoia presented a perfect paradise.
One cannot pass through this fair valley without
feeling that it is destined, sooner or later, to become
the happy home of civilized men, with their bleating
flocks and their lowing herds, with their schools and
their churches, with their full garners and their social
hearths. At the time of our visit, the great obstacle
in the way of so blessed a consummation was the hopeless wilderness to the eastward, which seemed to bar
for ever the march of settlement and cultivation. But
that very wilderness, now that it is to yield up its long-
hidden stores, bids fair to remove the very impediments
which hitherto it has itself presented. The mines of
Lake Superior, besides establishing a continuity of
route between the east and the west, will find their
nearest and cheapest supply of agricultural produce in
the valley of the Kaministaquoia.
In the course of the afternoon, my canoe struck a
rock in one of the rapids, tearing a hole in her bottom.
Soon, however, the wreck was docked on dry land, and,
with the aid of stitching and gumming, was again as
good as new in no time. The rock must have been a
sharp one, for the covering of bark is so tough, that a
round stone has often been known to smash the ribs of
the vessel without breaking the skin.
Next day, being Sunday, the 30th of the month, we
crossed the Dog Portage, about two miles in length,
early in the morning.    The view from the summit is 38
justly admired by all who see it. At the spectator's
feet is stretched a panorama of hill and dale, chequered
with the varied tints of the pine, the aspen, the ash,
and the oak, while through the middle meanders the
silvery stream of the Kaministaquoia, often doubling
and turning as if willing /to linger for ever on so lovely
a spot. According to the traditions of the natives, the
portage derives its name from the circumstance that
two enormous dogs, having taken a nap at the top of
the hill, left the impress of their figures behind them;
and certain it is, that such figures have been marked
on the turf in the same manner as the white horse near
Bath. -
On Monday, being the last day of May, we crossed
the height of land between Canada and the Hudson's
Bay Company's territories, consisting of three considerable portages, the Prairie, the Milieu, and the
Savanne. At the commencement of the first, we left
behind us one of the thousand sources of the St. Lawrence in the form of a shallow pool strewed with the
poles, which successive voyageurs, at this the head of
their uphill work, have thrown away as useless. The
last, which is nearly two miles long, lies through a
perfectly level swamp, which, as far back as " Auld
lang syne," has been paved with a triple row of round
rails, placed end to end. Where this bridge happens
to be entire, the traveller gets along wonderfully well
with a groove for each shoe; where one rail has vanished,
he is pretty sure to put one foot into it; and, where
only one stick remains, or no stick at all, he has no help
but to let both his legs take their chance of reaching
the bottom.    Your novice generally takes a paddle as
a crutdh; and friends of mine have sometimes doubly
armed themselves in this way.
At the farther end of the Savanne, we descended the
little river Embarras, so named from the great number
of fallen trees lying across its narrow channel. We
sometimes cut through these obstructions, sometimes
crept under them, and sometimes pushed them back,
like swinging gates; but occasionally we found them
so matted into dams, that we had to make portages
round them.
On the 1st of June, soon after passing through the
beautiful Lake of a Thousand Lakes, we descended a
small and troublesome river, something like our yesterday's Embarras, to the French Portage, generally
acknowledged to be the very worst in this part of the
country. The path lay over a succession of steep
ascents and descents, while the bottom was generally a
miry swamp, obstructed by underwood and fallen trees.
The length of two and a half miles cost even the unencumbered passengers a struggle of nearly two hours.
Our troubles in wading through this combination of hill
and valley, of morass and forest, were aggravated by
clouds of sand-flies, which almost fatigued our arms in
sweeping them from our faces and feet.
In the morning, we passed down a small river and
through Sturgeon Lake into the Maligne, a stream
abounding in sharp stones and short portages. Thence
we proceeded through Lac la Croix to the Macan, which
strikingly resembles the Maligne. At nearly all the
rapids and falls on these two rivers, the Indians have
erected platforms, which stretch about twenty feet from
the shore; and on these they fix themselves, spear in '"PJIOT
hand, for hours, as silent and motionless as possible, till
some doomed fish comes within the range of their unerring weapon. If they take more sturgeon than what
they immediately require, they tether the supernumeraries by a string, through the mouth and gill, to the
bank; and this mode of confinement, at least for a week
or two, affects neither the weight nor the flavour of the
On the morrow, towards noon, we made a short portage from the Macan to a muddy stream, falling into
Lac la Pluie. As 'we were passing down this narrow
and shallow creek, fire suddenly burst forth in the woods
near us. The flames, crackling and clambering up each
tree, quickly rose above the forest; within a few minutes more the dry grass on the very margin of the
waters was in a running blaze; and, before we were
well clear of the danger, we were almost enveloped in
clouds of smoke and ashes. These conflagrations, often
caused by a wanderer's fire or even by his pipe, desolate
large tracts of country, leaving nothing but black and
bare trunks, and even these sometimes mutilated into
stumps,—one of the most dismal scenes on which the
eye and the heart can look. When once the consuming
element gets into the thick turf of the primeval wilderness, it sets everything at defiance; and it has been
known to smoulder for a whole winter, under the deep
After traversing Lac la Pluie and five or six miles of
the river of the same name, we reached our post between
ten and eleven in the evening, being saluted by about a
hundred Saulteaux, the warriors of a band of about five
hundred souls; and these savages, after accompanying
SS3z»a Bras»*s*:-7#3£^ ROUND THE WORLD.
us to the fort with one of their wild songs, presented
me with a letter written by one of their own nation,
who had been educated in Canada, and was now acting
as interpreter for the Wesleyan Missionary of the establishment.    The documeut ran thus:
We, the undersigned chiefs and principal men of the Indians, whom
you now see encamped around this fort, do hereby present our good
wishes on your safe arrival.
It is not known to any of us that you ever was so requested by any of
the tribes inhabiting this country, as that which we now humbly request,
which is, that you will be pleased to hear the words of your children,
who are now awaiting to address you on things which concern the
welfare of themselves and their children.
And now, Father, we know that you are the Governor of this our
common country, and we know that your ear is open to the words of all
We humbly hope that it may be so to uswards.
Signed on behalf of our people,
Kechenegah TE UN,
Wa na nie.
In accordance with this request, I invited my
" children" to attend me at four in the morning; and,
instead of pitching our tents among so many needy
friends, we made our beds within Fort Frances. But,
while I was napping, the enemy were pelting away at
me with their incantations. In the centre of a conjuring tent—a structure of branches and bark forty
feet in length by ten in width—they kindled a fire ;
round the blaze stood the chiefs and medicine-men,
while as many of the others as could find room were
squatted against the walls; then, to enlighten and con- Ill 1
vert me, charms were muttered, rattles were shaken,
and offerings were committed to the flames. After all
these operations were supposed to have done their best,
the hitherto silent spectators, at a signal given, started
from their hams to their feet, and marched round the
magic circle, singing, whooping, and drumming in
horrible discord. With occasional intervals, which
were spent by the performers in taking the fresh air, this
exhibition was repeated during the whole night; so that,
when the appointed hour arrived, the poor creatures
were still engaged in their superstitious observances.
True to their time, two processions, one from either
side of the establishment, met in the open square of the
fort, waving their banners and firing their guns. They
had all dressed, or rather decorated, themselves for the
occasion; their costumes, being various enough to show
that fashion, as it is called, had not yet got so far to
the westward. Their glossy locks were plaited all round
the head into tails, varying in number according to the
thickness of the bush or the taste of the owner; at the
ends of the different ties were suspended such valuable
ornaments as thimbles, coins, buttons, and clippings of
tin ; their heads were adorned with feathers of all sorts
and sizes ; and their necks were encircled with rows of
beads at discretion and large collars of brass rod.
As to clothing, properly so called, every one had
leggings and a rag round the loins, while some of the
chiefs, with the addition of scarlet coats and plenty of
gold lace, had very much the cut of parish-beadles.
The staple commodities, however, appeared to be paint
and chalk. The naked bodies of the commoners displayed an inexhaustible variety of combinations of red ROUND THE WORLD.
and white, often surpassing in brilliancy as well as ia
tightness of fit the dashing uniforms of the grandees $
and evetf face, whether noble or ignoble, was %meared
entirely out of sight, the prevailing distribution appear*
ing to be, forehead white, nose and cheeks red, mouth
and chin black,
Meanwhile, we had been stirring, to the utmost of out
ability, not to be outdone in magnificence. Lord Caledon
and Lord Mulgrave had donned their regimentals J
and we, civilians, had equipped ourselves like so many
mandarins in our dressing-gowns, which luckily happened to be of rather showy patterns and hues. After
much shaking of hands, about sixty of the Indians
squeezed themselves into the apartment, while the other%
with the women and children, remained tmtside. When
all were seated, each chief, in turn, sent round his
calumet among us, in the costliness of which they
appeared to emulate each other.
All these preliminaries being concluded, the spokes*
man of the party stepped forward; and, first ostentatiously displaying a valuable present of sundry packs of
furs, he commenced his harangue, in a bold and manly
Voice, with great fluency and animation. After a
tedious prelude, which I was obliged to cut short, about
the creation, the flood, &C,—the object probably being
to show how and why and when the Great Spirit had
made one race red and another white,—he plunged at
once from this transcendental height into the practical
vulgarities cf rum, complaining that we had stopped
their liquor, though we, or at least our predecessors,
had promised to furnish it " as long as the waters flowed
down the rapids."    " Now," said he, in allusion to our
empty casks, " if I crack a nut, will water run from it ?"
In reply, I explained to the Indians that spirits had
been withdrawn, not to save expense to us but to benefit
them. I then pointed out the advantages of temperance,
promising them, however, a small gift of rum every
autumn, not as a luxury but as a medicine. In thanking
them for their present of furs, I told them that, besides
receiving a suitable present in return, they would be
paid the usual price for every skin. In conclusion, there
was another shaking of hands; and then this grand
council between the English and Chippeways broke up
about six o'clock, to the satisfaction of both nations.
The Salteaux, a branch of the Chippeways, were formerly one of the most powerful tribes in this country.
By repeated visitations, however, of measles and smallpox, they have dwindled down to three or four thousand
souls; and even this inconsiderable number, though
scattered over a vast extent of territory, can scarcely
keep body and soul together. As the fur trade, unless
under systematic and judicious management, naturally
tends to exhaust itself, the hunting-grounds of the Sal-
teaux, as being nearer to a market than those of any
other tribe, have been proportionally drained of their
natural wealth; and, though the soil is fertile, producing
wild rice in great abundance, yet the savages in question
are at once too indolent and too proud to become, as
they loftily express themselves, " troublers of the earth."
This their love of a wandering life is the more deeply to
be regretted, inasmuch as, till they settle down as
agriculturists, they can derive little or no advantage
from the proffered labours of the missionaries, whom
the Hudson's Bay Company has introduced among them. ROUND THE WORLD.
The following incident, which occurred during our
short stay at Lac la Pluie, may serve to illustrate, in
some important particulars, the character of these
Indians. Before coming to take his seat in council,
Lord Mulgrave left a dirk in his bedroom, near the
open window; but, on his returning to his apartment,
the weapon was nowhere to be found. As the Indians,
excepting our conscript fathers, had been hanging about
all the morning, they were immediately suspected; and
when the chiefs were upbraided with this treacherous
dishonesty, one of them addressed the people, urging
them, for the honour of the tribe, to give up the
offender. But, as neither the thief nor the booty was
forthcoming, we started, somewhat chagrined at the
occurrence. While preparing for breakfast, about ten
miles below the fort, we were overtaken by a small
canoe, from which three youths joyously rushed towards
us with the missing dirk. The article having been discovered in the store soon after our departure, the chiefs
despatched their myrmidons after us, with orders to
follow us, if necessary, all the way to Red River.
Having been rewarded with a hearty meal and some
tobacco, the three lads retraced their steps in excellent
The river which empties Lac la Pluie into the Lake
of the Woods is, in more than one respect, decidedly
the finest stream on the whole route. From Fort
Frances downwards, a stretch of nearly a hundred miles,
it is not interrupted by a single impediment, while yet
the current is not strong enough materially to retard an
ascending traveller. Nor are the banks less favourable
to agriculture than the waters themselves to navigation, 46
resembling, in some measure, those of the Thames near
Richmond. From the very brink of the river, there
rises a gentle slope of greensward, crowned in many
places with a plentiful growth of birch, poplar, beech,
elm, and oak. Is it too much for the eye of philanthropy to discern, through the vista of futurity, this
noble stream, connecting, as it does, the fertile shores
of two spacious lakes, with crowded steamboats on its
bosom, and populous?towns on its borders?
In spite of a contrary wind, we next day got within
fifteen miles of the farther end of the Lake of the
Woods. Though the shores of this sheet of water are
more rocky than those of Lac la Pluie, yet they are
very fertile, producing the rice already mentioned in
abundance, and bringing maize to perfection. The
lake is also literally studded with woody islands, from
which it has doubtless derived its name ; and these
islands, being exempted from nocturnal frosts, which
exist chiefly in the neighbourhood of swamps, are better
adapted than the mainland for cultivation.
Before sunrise in the morning, we reached our establishment of Rat Portage, situated at the head of the
magnificent stream which empties the Lake of the
Woods into Lake Winipeg. This river, which takes
the same name as the inland sea that receives it, forms,
along its rocky channel, so many falls and rapids, many
of them of almost matchless grandeur, that its length
of more than two hundred miles is broken by no fewer
than thirty-seven portages. After an amphibious course
of two days and a half, about noon on Tuesday the 8th
of the month, we reached Fort Alexander, distant about
a mile and a half from Lake Winipeg.
K3»r«W, Bnrrri~BC«3ra3ra^i«arMit>^:^.^ r^nrpi-s^^y^ ROUND THE WORLD.
Starring again after a halt of a few hours, our progress was much impeded by a southerly wind, which
had also had the usual effect of driving off the waters
from this end of the lake to s«ch an extent, that we
wrere obliged to make a portage in a channel, which I
had usually passed under full paddle.
Next morMng, we eatered on the grand traverse,
leading to the mouth of the Red River. The adjacent
shores are so low, that: there is generally some difficulty
in striking the entrance of the stream; but on this
occasion we were assisted by a column of smoke, which,
as we were informed, would guide us into our destined
haven. About seven in the evening, we arrived at the
Lower Fort of Red River Settlement, haying previously
passed a large village of Indians, settled as agriculturists under the charge of the Reverend Mr. Smithurst,
of the Church Missionary Society. So far as musqui-
toes, sand-flies, and bull-frogs were concerned, this was
our worst encampment on the whole route.
Next afternoon, we reached Fort Garry, twenty-
three miles higher up the river, where we were kindly
welcomed by my relatives, Mr. and Mrs. Finlayson.
Thus had we accomplished in safety our long voyage of
about two thousand miles. On the whole, we had been
fortunate with regard to the weather. During our
thirty-eight days, rain had fallen only on parts of six;
and, though immediately on leaving Montreal we had
encountered piercing winds and chilly nights, yet we
soon had, in general, as delightful a temperature as we
could wish.
About ten days after my arrival, I despatched Lords
Caledon and Mulgrave to the plains, under the escort
i $m&
of Mr. Cuthbert Grant, an influential native of mixed
origin, and a party of hunters. Being desirous of en^
countering as many of the adventurers of the wilder|
ness as possible, these young noblemen had determined
on passing through the country of the Sioux to St.
Peter's on the Mississippi; and for this purpose they
had provided themselves with guides, &c. Lord Caledon
succeeded in carrying his intentions into effect, gaining
golden opinions among the hunters by his courage,
skill, and affability; but Lord Mulgrave, from indisposition, retraced his steps, first to Fort Garry and
thence to Sault Sainte Marie,—that connecting link between the canoe and the steamboat.
.-.«naiuMwmt!i-nMw rti&ssaniisan?»jawneawg ROUND THE WORLD.
Red River Settlement, position, origin, condition—Departure from
Red River Settlement—Face of country—Salt lake—Fort Ellice —
Qu'appeUe River, crank canoes—Wolverine Knoll, native legend—
Native lodges—Rain and swamps — Dog Knoll—Salt lakes—Native-*
lodge, hieroglyphics—Halt in heavy rain—Wanderings of Tom Taylor
—Bow River—Indian story—War in the plains—Carlton—The Saskatchewan—Picturesque country—Crees—Scarcity of water—Red River
emigrants, love of native spot—Buffalo hunt—Turtle River—Scarcity of
water—Fort Pitt—Miseries of a native lodge—Alarm of Blackfeet—i
Effects of hail—Extreme vicissitudes—Oddity of native names—Edmonton—Native tribes—Visitors of quality.
Having safely arrived at the Red River of Lake
Winipeg—as narrated in the preceding chapter—I may,
previous to the continuation of my journey, take the
opportunity of here laying before my reader a brief
account of the British Establishment now settled on the
banks of that stream.
In the year 1811, the Hudson's Bay Company ceded
to the late Earl of Selkirk, in full right, a large portion
of their territories in North America, The tract of
land so granted was, in every respect, well calculated
for the purposes of agriculture; and it was hoped that,
together with the cultivation of the soil, successful
measures might eventually be adopted to promote the
civilization of the Indian tribes in that quarter.
The grant in question extended chiefly along the
plains, watered by the Assiniboine and the Red Rivers,
VOL. I. E swwa
and their tributary streams. From the former of these
two rivers the general district received the name of
Assiniboia, while the particular colony or settlement
was named after the latter and larger stream, into which
the waters of the former are discharged.
It was near the junction of these rivers—about forty
or fifty miles from Lake Winipeg (lat. 50°, long. 97°
west of London) — that Lord Selkirk first proposed to
try the important experiment connected with his plans
of British emigration. In the work which he published,
in 1805, upon that subject—with relation chiefly to
the highlands of Scotland at that time—he had fully
developed his views as to the beneficial effects likely to
accrue to the mother country by relieving it cautiously
of its superabundant population. He had observed,
however, with anxiety, the extent to which the high-
landers were miarrating from their native land, their
movements being unfortunately directed, not towards
British possessions abroad, where British colonies might
be advantageously formed, but to the territories of
foreign powers, and particularly to those of the United
States of America. Strongly impressed with objections to these ill-directed movements, he did all that
lay in his power to divert them into a better channel.
In his endeavours, however, he found that most of the
principal highland proprietors were averse to emigration
of any sort, and that the successive administrations, and
heads of departments, to whom he had, at the time,
submitted his plans, held out to him little or no encouragement. The first memorial he had presented to
Government was in 1802, regarding not only the state
of the highlands of Scotland, but also   that  of Ire-
j-sarwraagz^gfcg ROUND THE WORLD.
land. It met, however, with no very favourable
reception. But this did not prevent him from persevering. He determined to support his theory by
practical exertion, and at his own expense. In more
recent times, however — and after his death — it would
appear that the views and opinions he had entertained
on this important subject were to receive a more impartial and unprejudiced consideration; and, accord-
in&ty> ^or a considerable period, emigration, from Great
Britain and Ireland, has been aided, supported, and
directed, by the British Government.
With respect to the Red River Settlement, it may
be mentioned that the Hudson's Bay Company, after
making the grant of land alluded to, appointed, by
virtue of the powers given to them by their royal charter,
a governor of the district in which the colony was to be
planted; and Lord Selkirk nominated the same gentleman to take the principal and personal charge of hjus
settlers. The first body of emigrants was composed
chiefly of a small number of hardy mountaineers from
Scotland, a party well adapted to act as pioneers, to
encounter and overcome the difficulties they might meet
with in their route. When the new governor of the
district, thus attended, first arrived at the spot fixed
upon for the settlement, he immediately began to prepare for the arrival of the first detachment of the regular colonists and their families, building houses for
them, and making every practicable arrangement for
their reception. In the beginning of the year 1813,
the settlers amounted to about a hundred persons;
early in 1814, there arrived about fifty more; and, in
the autumn of the same year, their numbers amounted
E 2 &*
to two hundred. An additional hundred soon afterwards
arrived at Hudson's Bay from the highlands of Scotland
to join the settlement; having been encouraged to
migrate thither by letters they had received from their
friends settled at Red River.
During the first years of the establishment—owing to
occurrences of a peculiarly unfortunate nature, over
which the colonists had no control — the settlement
advanced but slowly. From about the year 1821, however, it seemed fixed and secure. A considerable number of the Scotch, indeed, were, at various times,
tempted to remove to the United States ; but the general body, consisting chiefly of highlanders, Orkney-
men, together with a number of half-breeds, remained
fixed at the settlement. The latter class, (half-breeds)
of every stock, derive their aboriginal blood generally
from the Swampy Crees, the similarity of whose language to that of the Chippeways would make one suppose they were branches of the same original trunk.
Exclusive of the settlers above-mentioned, manyiof the
old and retired servants of the Hudson's Bay Company
are in the habit of establishing themselves, with their
families, at the settlement. Lord Selkirk died in 1820,
since which event no efforts have been made to bring
colonists to the Red River from Europe; but the
census, which is taken at regular intervals, numbers, at
present, above five thousand souls; and, in spite of the
occasional emigrations from the Red River towards the
Mississippi and the Columbia, it appears that the population is found to double every twenty years.
It was naturally to be expected, at the commencement of a colony of this description, located at so great
a distance from any civilized district, that many obstructions and inconveniences would unavoidably occur.
Every practicable step, however, was taken to alleviate
or remove the difficulties.    The heads of families, as
they arrived, were put in possession of lots of land which
they immediately began to cultivate ; additional houses
were speedily built;   a mill was erected;   sheep and
cattle were sent up to the settlement $   and all means
adopted to promote the success of the colony.     The
soil proved rich and productive, and the plough met
with no obstruction.    The usual American step necessarily taken for clearing away the forest previous to
tilling the land was not required.    The plains adjoining
the settlement were not encumbered with wood, though,
upon the immediate banks of the rivers, there was generally to be found an abundance  and variety of fine
timber.    The rivers abounded with fish;  the adjoining
prairies with buffaloes, and the more distant woods with
elk, deer, &c.    The hunting-grounds of the neighbouring Indians were not interfered with;  and their neighbours,  the  Saulteaux  tribe, proved,  from   the first,
friendly and well-disposed towards the settlers.
Some years after the original formation of the colony,
it gradually extended itself down along the banks of
the Red River, reaching, at present, to no great distance
from the shore of Lake Winipeg.
Generally speaking, the Canadians occupy the Assini-
boine and the upper section of the Red River, while the
Europeans, more or less intermingled, are settled at
the lower section of the latter stream ; and, as the Canadians are almost universally Roman Catholics, and all
the rest, including settled Indians, generally Protestants*
I 5E3J
the local distribution of creeds and languages prevents
those embarrassments with respect to education and
religion, which perplex many other communities.
Among the Roman Catholics are a bishop and two or
three priests, who, in addition to an allowance from the
Hudson's Bay Company, receive tithes, amounting, as in
Lower Canada, to the twenty-sixth bushel of all kinds
of grain. Besides seminaries for elementary instruction, the bishop superintends a school of industry, where
the young females are taught to turn their wool into
The Protestants have two clergymen of the Church
of England, who do duty in four places of worship, three
of them in the main settlement, and one among the
aboriginal proselytes ; and there are six principal schools
for the ordinary branches of a plain education, two of
them among the Indians, and four among the others.
The charges of religion are defrayed partly by the
Hudson's Bay Company, and partly by the Church
Missionary Society,—the flocks neither paying their
tithes nor wholly maintaining the sacred fabrics. As
to the charges of education, four fifths of them fall on
the pious and charitable association just mentioned,
while the remaining fifth is borne by such individual
parents as are able and willing to spare fifteen shillings a year for the moral and intellectual culture of a
Fort Garry, the principal establishment in the
place, is situated at the forks of the Red River and
the Assiniboine, being about fifty miles from Lake
Winipeg, and about seventy-five from the frontier; and
it occupies, as nearly as  possible,  the  centre of the ROUND THE WORLD.
settlement. This, which is the official residence of the
Governor of the colony, is a regularly built fortification,
with walls and bastions of stone. Nearly opposite, on
the right bank of the united streams, is the Roman
Catholic cathedral. The principal Protestant church
is about two miles further down, on the left bank.
In the immediate neighbourhood of this last-men-
tioned place of worship stands the Red River academy,
a large and flourishing school, kept by Mr. and Mrs.
Macallum, for the -sons and daughters of gentlemen in
the service. Below Fort Garry many respectable dwellings, most of them of two stories, belong to the wealthier
class of inhabitants. The lower fort, which is about
four times the size of the upper establishment, is in
process of being enclosed by loopholed walls and bastions. This is my own head-quarters when I visit the
settlement; and here also resides Mr. Thorn, the Recorder of Rupert's Land—-so named in the royal charter.
On entering Red River from Lake Winipeg, the
shores, for the first ten miles, are low and swampy,
abounding in wild fowl of every kind ; but, farther up,
they rise to a height varying from thirty to sixty feet.
On the eastern or right bank there is abundance of
poplar, birch, elm, oak, &c, pines also being plentiful
a few miles back; while the western side, generally
speaking, is one vast prairie, with scarcely any timber.
Nearly as far up as the forks, the houses and farms of
the settlers are almost exclusively on the left bank,
while each occupier generally owns, within a convenient distance, part of the opposite bush as a wood-lot.
The soil of Red River Settlement is a black mould of
considerable depth, which, when first tilled, produces II
extraordinary crops, as much, on some occasions, as
forty returns of wheat; and, even after twenty successive years of cultivation, without the relief of manure
or of fallow, or of green crop, it still yields from fifteen
to twenty-five bushels an acre. The wheat produced is
plump and heavy; there are also large quantities of
grain of all kinds, besides beef, mutton, pork, butter,
cheese, and wool in abundance. Agriculture, however,
has not been without its misfortunes. In the year
1826, in consequence of the heavy snows and continued
severity of the preceding winter, the thaws of the
spring flooded the whole country, not only filling the
channels of the two rivers, but also covering the adjacent plains to a great depth. Every stream, from
mouth to source, was a torrent, and every swamp a
lake; till, at last, swamp and stream, as they rose and
rose, united to drown nearly all the labours of preceding years. Fence after fence, and house after
house, floated away on the bosom of the deluge, while
the helpless owners were huddled tegether on spots
which the forbearance alone of the surging sea showed
to be higher than the rest; and the receding waters
left, and that at a period too late for successful cultivation, little but the site of Red River Settlement.
But the temporary evil, as is generally the case with
the devastations of nature, brought with it a permanent
benefit. The ruined hovels, (for many of the original
settlers had been glad of any shelter) were gradually
replaced by dwellings of more convenient structure;
and the submerged lands were irrigated and manured
into more than their natural fertility. For the next
three seasons, however, frogs were, if possible, more
numerous than ever they were in Egypt; and, in
a subsequent year, the crops were almost entirely devoured by caterpillars. Previously to the great flood,
whole armies of locusts most seriously damaged the
crops for three successive years.
The summers, though not quite so long as in Canada,
are yet pretty much the same in other respects. The
winters are not only more tedious but also more severe.
For weeks together, the thermometer shows, at some
hour or other of the four-and-twenty, upwards of thirty
degrees below zero; and there is hardly a winter in
which the mercury escapes being solidly frozen. During
the hardest weather, however, horses may be left out of
doors to find provender for themselves under the snow,
provided they have been hardened by constant exposure
to the advancing cold.
But cattle, though bearing so much of a general resemblance to the buffalo, cannot forage for themselves
in this way ; being unable to scrape away the snow from
the grass. In the winter of 1833-4, I placed five hundred head in the most favourable spots to pass the
winter in the open air. Two hundred of them died in
the experiment, most of them in a very singular way.
In order to guard against the wolves, the cattle were
confined at night within a narrow enclosure, where,
to say nothing of their mutilating or destroying
each other's horns, the accumulation of dung, by
freezing in their hoofs, lamed and disabled them.
Within the settlement, the cattle find food for themselves about seven months in the plains and woods;
but, during the remainder of the year, they are maintained on the straw of the farms, and on hay cut on the 58
boundless common behind the pasturing grounds of the
flocks and herds*
In addition to agriculture, or sometimes in place of
it, the settlers, more particularly those of mixed origin,
devote first the summer, and then the autumn, and sometimes the winter also, to the hunting of the buffalo,
bringing home vast quantities of pemmican, dried
•meat, grease, tongues, &c, for which the Company's
voyaging business affords the best market; and even
many of the stationary agriculturists send oxen and
carts, on shares, to help the poorer hunters to convey
their booty to the settlement.
The colony is governed by a corporation, called the
Council of Assiniboia, which, under an express provision of the Charter, exercises judicial powers as well
as legislative authority; and, in order to put both
branches of the duty on a more satisfactory footing, the
Company, two years ago, introduced into the country
the professional gentleman already mentioned, as the
pioneer of legislation, and the organ of the court.
To resume my journal. I had intended to remain at
Red River till about the middle of July; but, having
changed my contemplated route, in consequence of information obtained on the spot, I was obliged to start ten
or twelve days earlier than I had proposed. As my new
road was to lie through the country of the Blackfeet Indians, I was happy to obtain, for the whole way to Fort
Vancouver, the escort of Mr. Rowand, who, having been
in charge of the Saskatchewan for many years, had great
influence among the tribes of the prairies. With that
gentleman's aid, and a well-appointed party of eighteen
or twenty men in all, we had but little to fear from any
Indians that we could meet.
As the country was practicable for wheels as far as
Edmonton, we resolved to relieve our horses by taking
as much of our baggage as possible in light carts; and,
in order to save us a day, or perhaps more, in calling
at Fort Pelly for a relay of horses, we despatched three
men, about a week before our own start, to have the
requisite band of nags brought for us from that establishment to a conspicuous landmark in the sea of
plains, known as the Butte aua? Chiens. Still farther
to expedite matters, we sent off, about four days afterwards, three carts of heavy baggage, with six men and
a few horses.
In addition to my fellow-travellers and myself, my
own immediate party was thus reduced to six men,
thirty horses, and one light cart; and accordingly,
about five in the morning of the 3rd of July, our cavalcade left Fort Garry under a salute. While we defiled
through the gates into the open plains with an horizon
before us as well defined as that of the blue ocean, the
scene resembled the moving of an Eastern caravan in
the boundless sands of Arabia,—a medley of pots and
pans and kettles, in our single vehicle, the unruly pack-
horses pranckig under their loads, and every cavalier,
armed to the teeth, assisting his steed to neigh and caper
with bit and spur. The effect was not a little heightened
by a brilliant sunrise, the firing of cannon, the streaming of flags, and the shouting of the spectators. Mr.
Finlayson and his brother volunteered to accompany us
on our first stage, so as to see us fairly out of the
settlement. Wm
lUJjtj    I
'| :| If It j
HI 1
Soon after starting, we were brought to a halt by an
accident, which, besides producing more serious consequences, might have affected my comfort to a great extent.
While coming out in the Caledonia, I had picked up,
with a special reference to my long and arduous journey,
a smart, active, and intelligent highlander of the
'name of McIntyre, who also possessed the peculiar
recommendation of being able to communicate with me
in one of the unknown tongues, the Gaelic of the north
of Scotland. Well, whether the horse was too frisky,
or the rider too ambitious to show off the animal's
points, McIrityre's charger, taking fright and becoming
unmanageable, contrived to dislodge its saddle, so as to
throw the poor fellow heavily on his head. Though he
was stunned for a few minutes, yet, on recovering his
consciousness, he appeared to be but little injured; to
make assurance doubly sure, however, in so important a
matter, he had a little blood taken from him immediately, an operation which entirely removed every unpleasant symptom.
We halted for breakfast near the Roman Catholic
chapel of the White Horse Plains, distant from Fort Garry
about twenty miles. This meal, contrary to the snapping
system of the aquatic part of our journey, now became
quite a luxurious lounge, inasmuch as the horses could
not eat, like the voyageurs, as fast as ourselves. On
the important occasion in question, we regularly tarried
three or four hours, turning our nags loose to make the
most of their time. Having completed the grand business of internal improvement at our leisure, we killed
the remaining interval, each man according to his taste,
in  dressing,   or  bathing, or sleeping,  or  reading, or
writing, or doing nothing. As the axle of our cart
had broken at the very outset, it was here repaired by
the neighbouring blacksmith; and, in order to provide
against the recurrence of such a calamity under less
favourable circumstances, a second vehicle was engaged
to accompany us.
About two in the afternoon, the Messrs. Finlayson,
after many farewells, returned to Fort Garry, while we
entered on our second stage. We had hardly started,
when, by a coincidence equally unexpected and unpleasant, our cart upset over perhaps the only stone
within twenty miles of us,—the country being nearly
as free of such impediments as the tidiest garden. In
fact, the mould, which, as already mentioned, forms the
soil, has nothing harder than itself to bind it together ;
so that the banks of every little creek melt under the
influence of the freshets of spring, almost as readily as
if they were wreaths of snow.
As we never encamped, at least with our own will,
except in the vicinity of water, we kept marching along,
till we reached, about nine in the evening, a small lake,
and there, after a hearty supper, we turned in for the
night, or rather some of us did so, for most of my
friends slept in the open air. The musquitoes were so
troublesome, that the horses, hungry and tired as they
were, could neither feed nor rest. The scenery of the
day had been generally a perfect level. On the east,
north, and south, there was not a mound or tree to vary
the vast expanse of greensward, while to the west were
the gleaming bays of the winding Assiniboine, separated from each other by wooded points of considerable
In the morning, we forded the Champignon. The
country generally bore the same appearance as yesterday, excepting that our path occasionally ran through
a clump of trees. We also crossed the beds of many
shallow lakes, which contain water only during the
spring, brushing the luxuriant grass with our very
knees; and, on the hard ground, the surface was beautifully diversified with a variety of flowers, such as the
rose, the hyacinth, and the tiger-lily. The rankness of
the vegetation savoured rather of the torrid zone, with
its perennial spring, than of the northern wilds, which,
within two or three months, had been lying cold and
dead in the embrace of a hyperborean winter.
In the course, however, of our afternoon's ride, the
character of the country underwent a complete change.
The plains gave place to a rolling succession of sandy
hills, which were generally Govered with brush; and
now and then we passed through spots which looked
like artificial shrubberies. This ridge, evidently one of
Nature's steps from a lower to a higher level, may be
traced from Turtle Mountain, in the neighbourhood of
the international boundary, to the banks of Swan River
in lat. 52° 30', and even round to the Basqua Hill on
the waters of the Lower Saskatchewan. It appears to
have been, in former days, the shore of an inland sea,
comprising, in one undistinguishable mass, Lakes Winipeg, Manitoba, and Winipegos, with many of their
feeders. This view may perhaps derive confirmation from
the fact, that the largest of the three fragments of the
primeval sheet of water, namely, Lake Winipeg, still
continues to retire from its western side, and to encroach
on its eastern bank.
Ijfrros^JweaeKuraw*^^ ROUND THE WORLD.
In our evening's encampment, the musquitoes were
so numerous, that they literally mottled the poor horses
with black patches of great size, extending at the same
time a very unreasonable share of their attentions to
ourselves. We had some compensation, however, for
this annoyance in the excellence of the water, for we
had been fortunate enough to fix our halt on a running
stream, instead of being doomed to swallow the seething dregs of half-dried lakes; and we were the more
ready to appreciate the difference, as we had not yet
overtaken the heavy carts that contained our wine and
Breakfasting next morning on the banks of a small
rivulet, we found the last night's fires of our advanced
guard still burning, a discovery which diffused general
joy, for, to say nothing of the want of luxuries, even
our necessary provisions had begun to look very lean
upon it. On resuming our journey, we passed among
tolerably well wooded Mils, while, on either side of us,
there lay a constant succession of small lakes, some of
them salt, which abounded in wild fowl. In the neighbourhood of those waters, the pasture was rich and luxuriant ; and we traversed two fields, for so they might
be termed, of the rose and the sweetbriar, while each
loaded the air with its own peculiar perfume. On
reaching the summit of the hills, that bounded the pretty
valley of the Rapid River, we descried an encampment,
which we supposed to be that of our own people waiting
for us. On a nearer approach, however, we distinguished merely some lodges of Saulteaux.
Though we spent about an hour in fording the stream
under the very eyes of the savages, yet they offered us 64
no assistance; they endeavoured, on the contrary, to
mislead us as to the grand object of our inquiries, saying that our friends ahead had passed before the sun
was high, till, on being accused of telling an untruth,
they admitted that the event in  question had taken
place several hours later.    Their object, as it was now
six o'clock, was to make us halt at the river for the
night, tliat they might have an opportunity of teasing
Us for presents, besides the chance of increasing their
stock of horses.  About an hour afterwards, on reaching
a slight eminence, we perceived our people just stopping
to encamp; and, with our imaginations full of hyson
and souchong, of tongues and biscuit, we quickly overtook our commissariat, once more enjoying the wanderer's best consolation in the shape of a good supper,
washed down with tea at discretion.
Having now to   regulate our pace by that of the
loaded carts, we were obliged next day to march much
more slowly  than  hitherto.    Some of my  utilitarian
friends brought a good supply of wild fowl, which were
very numerous in the small lakes among which we were
still winding our way.    About eight in the morning we
came to a large lake, where we were prevented from attempting to breakfast by the experience of Mr. Row-
and.    While coming to  meet  me  at  Red River, in
the spring, that  gentleman,  attracted by the beauty
of the situation, had  encamped  for the  night,  with
his  kettle  bubbling   and   steaming   all   comfortably
about him,  when,   lo  and behold !—the   first  sip   of
the  welcome  beverage  revealed   the   horrible  truth,
that the lovely lake was filled with salt water i
We, therefore, jogged on for another hour, having to
wait for our heavy carts till eleven at night; a delay
which induced me to threaten, in case of a repetition,
the stopping of the drams of the delinquents. In the
morning we crossed the end of Shoal Lake, lying in a
hilly and well-wooded district. Our guide; George
Sinclair, having volunteered to conduct us to a fine encampment on Birdtail Creek, we urged forward our
jaded cattle till nine in the evening; but, being still at
fault, we were obliged to stop at a stagnant lake,
swarming with musquitoes, and yielding very bad water.
Our horses were now beginning to be knocked up,
having often deviated from the track to-day, and even
sometimes lain down with their loads and riders.
During the night, the po#r animals, in order to get
rid of their tiny tormentors, strayed to the top of a hill,
where the breeze was too much for the musquitoes;
and this circumstance, as involving the delay of a search,
prevented us from starting before five o'clock. After
an hour's ride over hilly and rugged ground, we reached
George Sinclair's promised encampment on the Bird-
tail Creek, a rapidly flowing tributary of the Assini-
boine; and beyond this stream was an undulating prairie
of vast extent, with the river last mentioned in the
On a neighbouring height we saw three bands of
antelopes. Some of our party attempted to approach
them by skirting round the valley; but the watchful
animals, bounding away with characteristic elegance and
rapidity, were quickly out of sight, preserving their
venison for some more fortunate visitors. With the
exception of our own nags, and, of course, also of the
horrible musquitoes, these were the first animals that
we had seen since leaving Red River Settlement; but
we were now entering on prairies well known as the
home of many varieties of the deer.
On ascending the hills, which formed the eastern embankment of the valley of the Assiniboine, we discerned, on the opposite side of the river, a large band
of steeds. Thinking that the animals might belong to
some of the daring tribes of the plains, we prepared our
fire-arms, &c, for the possible visit of the owners, in
their professional capacity of horsestealers; but, after
firing signals, without attracting the attention of any
human being, we came to the conclusion, and as it
afterwards proved correctly, that the band in question
was the stud of Fort Ellice, quietly grazing at some
distance from the establishment. After breakfast we
forded the river, sending our carts and baggage across
in a batteau, which had apparently been left there for
our use ; then swimming the horses over; and, finally,
making our own passage in the barge's last trip. About
noon we arrived at Fort Ellice, remaining there three
or four hours.
At this post, commonly known as Beaver Creek,
from the name of the brook on which it stands, we
obtained tidings of a large body of emigrants, who had
left Red River for the Columbia a few days previously
to our arrival from Montreal. They had reached Fort
Ellice on the 22nd of June, and started again next day.
As these people were pursuing the same route as ourselves, and would beat a good track, we resolved, as far
as practicable, to follow their trail. In the first instance, however, we had to go out of their path, in
order to keep our appointment aforesaid at the Butte
HattW«ass*q>ftaBBic; ROUND THE WORLD.
aux Chiens. To arrive niore quickly at this rendezvous
of our relay of horses, we here engaged, as a special
guide, an old fellow of an Indian, who talked largely of
knowing a short cut across the country to the Dog
Knoll. Before starting, we exchanged some of our cattle
and vehicles for fresher and better articles of the same
kind, recruiting and renovating our little brigade to the
utmost of our ability.
Passing through a swampy wood, we crossed the
Qu'appelle, or Calling River. Our horses and carts
forded the stream; and we ourselves traversed it in a
canoe of alarmingly simple construction, being neither
more nor less than a few branches, covered with buffalo
robes. This makeshift barely served the purpose of
taking us over, before it got altogether filled with
water. On surmounting the steep hill which faced us,
we found ourselves on a level meadow, several thousand
acres in extent; and here, being informed by our new
guide that we could not possibly reach any other water
that night, we reluctantly encamped at the early hour
of six in the evening.
To make up for the early halt of yesterday, we 'were
againjin the saddle by half-past three in the morning,
trotting away with our fresh chargers through some
extensive prairies, studded with clumps of trees. We
soon stumbled on some lodges of Saulteaux, one very
talkative fellow accompanying us for a few miles* His
grandest piece of news was, that we were likely to
overtake a large party of Crees, who, after starting on
a campaign some time since, had been arrested in their
progress by a fearful and fatal malady. Though the
Indians have the knack of inventing enormous fables,
f 2
Jul T-Tiiii—Wii
iff* "m ii
I K'ilP
and also of fortifying them with a formidable array of
circumstances, yet I issued a general order that every
person should carry his gun loaded with ball. We
were suffering considerable inconvenience, with regard
to our provisions, from the heat of the weather. Even
the meat which we had brought from Fort Ellice was
already tainted; and we were, moreover, tantalized by
seeing some antelopes, which, with the best intentions
of hungry men, we failed to hit.
While we were encamped on a mound at breakfast,
we observed some fires in the plains around us, while a
solitary savage was seen firing signals. Our fears, or
perhaps our discretion, immediately identified these
symptoms with the Cree warriors, whom we were expecting to find in our path. Our people were quickly
on the alert, answering the signals, and preparing for
the reception of the enemy; who, so far as we could
discern, turned out to be three poor Saulteaux, two
men and a boy, on their way to Fort Ellice. In the
vicinity of this mound there was a very remarkable
knoll, known as the Butte a Carcajar, which, though not
exceeding three hundred feet in height, is yet a conspicuous landmark in these generally level and open
prairies. Like almost every river, hill, and vale, in this
primitive country, it has its traditionary legend, which
runs thus:—
Many, many summers ago, a large party of Assini-
boines, pouncing on a small band of Crees, in the neighbourhood of this knoll, nearly destroyed them. Among
the victors was the former wife of one of the vanquished, who, in a previous foray, had been carried off
by her present husband  from  her  ancient lord  and
l-mk am .MC^MgKaairTwo^^wntwPt^^^ jifpfpn^^^r^ ROUND THE WORLD.
master.' Whether it was that her new friend was
younger than her old one, or that she was conscious of
having been a willing accomplice in the elopement, the
lady, rushing into the thickest of the fight, directed
every effort against the life of her first lover. In spite,
however, of the faithless Amazon's special attentions,
the Wolverine, for such was his name, effected his
escape from the field of carnage, while the conquerors
were gloating over the scalps of his brethren in arms.
Creeping stealthily along for the whole day, under
cover of the woods, he concealed himself at nightfall in
a hole on the top of the rising ground in question.
Bu#, though he had thus eluded the vigilance of his
national enemies, there was one who, under the influence of personal hatred, had never lost sight or scent
of his trail; and no sooner had he sunk, exhausted by
hunger and fatigue, into a sound sleep, than the unswerving and untiring bloodhound sent an arrow into
his brain, with a triumphant yell. Before the morning
dawned, the virago proudly presented to her Assiniboine
husband the bleeding scalp of his unfortunate rival;
and the scene of her desperate exploit was thenceforward known as the Butte a Carcajar, or the Wolverine Knoll. In proof of the truth of the story, the
Indians assert that the ghosts of the murderess and her
victim are often to be seen, from a considerable distance, struggling together on the very summit of the
In our afternoon's march, we passed through a swampy
country, which was beset by underwood. The old fellow, who had undertaken to guide us to the Dog Knoll,
was several times at fault; and our compass was a very II
unsatisfactory substitute in the matter, inasmuch as our
route was constantly winding, like a river, round the
extremities of lakes and swamps. At night we made
our beds in a.small hollow, where, in order to cheat, if
possible, the renowned horsestealers of the neighbourhood, we did our best to conceal our fires and cattle
from view. These rogues are so clever in their way,
that they have been known, even under the very noses
of a guard, to carry off every nag of a caravan at the
dead of night.
Next morning, the prairie became harder and more
open, while the grass was withering under the recent
drought, from the want of shelter and the absence of
inherent moisture. This was the very country for the
antelope; and we accordingly caught many a glimpse
of these beautiful creatures, bounding over the hillocks.
On reaching the Broken-Arm River, we were obliged,
by reason of an impassable swamp on either side, to
lose a few hours in going round its sources. In the
evening, just as we came in sight of the spot where we
intended to halt for the night, we espied two lodges of
natives; and, after waiting to collect our party, wTe
advanced with due precaution. The savages, however,
were evidently more afraid than we were, for, after
much commotion, the men gradually disappeared, leaving
the women and children to take their chance.
Between the two tents there was a vapour-bath,
made of branches of willow, stuck in the ground and
bent forward, so as to form a dome about three feet in
height. This was covered with skins to confine the
steam, generated by throwing water on a hot stone.
On going up to the bath, we were much amused to see
the legs of a man hanging out like the tail of a snake,
while a wreath of willow round the body gave the fellow
the appearance of a statue of Bacchus. He never
stirred at our approach; and it was not till the steam
was subsiding, that he deigned to take any notice of us,
though we were certainly the largest body of whites
that he had ever seen in the country. When he condescended to move, one of the skins fell off, disclosing
another Indian quietly squatted at his ease, who was
just as regardless of our approach as his companion.
This affectation of an, indifference, which the bathers
could not feel, any more than their [fugitive brethren,
was more peculiarly characteristic of the Saulteaux,—
the tribe to which our new friends belonged.
The lodges of these people occupied a small knoll, in
the middle of a dried swamp, round which the plains
were on fire. Before we had pitched our tents in the
vicinity, the two bathers came dashing towards us on
horseback with turbans of otter skin, necklaces of
bear's claws, and various other ornaments of a similar
kind ; their grand object appeared to be to get presents,
if possible, from us. We traded with one of our visiters
to the extent of exchanging one of our exhausted hacks
for a fresh horse; and, one of them having very gracefully thrown his turban over my arm, I gave him an
order on our nearest establishment for double its value.
After this trafficking, with the addition of a gift of
ammunition, we all parted excellent friends. In order
to please us, these men told us a flattering tale, according to their custom in such cases, with respect to the
proximity of the Dog Knoll, assuring us that we could
not fail to reach it next afternoon.
u 8SI
i H
In the morning, we forded the White Sand River,
with the mud up to the bellies of our horses; and one
of the carts, perversely enough, managed, in this bottomless mire, to upset over a stone, though luckily
without damaging its load. Hitherto our weather had
been dry, clear, and warm. Now, however, a cold rain
fell all the afternoon and night. To aggravate the
evil, our road lay through swamps and thickets, which
were often almost impassable to our carts; and our
guide became quite bewildered, leading us a dance first
in one direction, then in another, and so on. What
with the wet, and the chilliness, and the uncertainty,
we were by no means in high spirits or good humour.
The weather also deprived us of an excellent supper,
for, though a red deer crossed the track within a few
yards of some of our people, he escaped with impunity,
inasmuch as every gun was unfit for service.
We spent a miserable night under the pouring torrent, while the wolves and foxes rendered our position
more hideous by their howling, to the special discomfort of the novices, who considered the serenade
merely as a prelude to an attack, — a kind of war-
whoop on the part of the hungry quadrupeds. In the
morning, after being dragged by our blundering guide
through swamp and brushwood, and across two tributaries of the White Sand river, we degraded the old
fellow to the ranks, placing ourselves once more under
the direction of Sinclair; and, before breakfast, we
caught a distant glimpse of the object of our long and
anxious search. Pushing forward with renovated
spirits, we speedily came in full view of the Butte aux
Chiens, towering, with a height of about four hundred ROUND THE WORLD.
feet, over a boundless prairie, as level and smooth as a
pond. This vast plain has evidently once been the
bed of a lake, with the Dog Knoll as an islet in its
centre. It is covered with an alluvial soil of great fertility ; it is strewed with water-worn stones; and it
presents various aqueous deposits.
s-jl Reaching this giant among pigmies about noon, we
found at the top, in a bundle of brushwood, a note to
the effect, that our people, after waiting there for three
days, had gone to encamp with their horses for three
days more on the borders of a neighbouring lake.
The note was dated on the 9th of July; and as we got
it only on the 11th, we began to fear that the men might
again shift their ground before we could catch them.
They themselves, however, had seen us; and we soon
had the satisfaction of receiving a valuable acquisition
in the nineteen fresh horses. This reinforcement just
came in time, for our poor animals were so jaded as to
be scarcely able to go beyond a walk; and, this very
morning, the sight of a wolf, which started un$er their
noses, could not squeeze a canter or a trot out of the
whole band.
For several days, I had been distressed by what I
believed to be a rheumatic affection of the back; but
an eruption soon showed itself on my side, depriving me
of sleep and rendering me almost unable to travel.
Still, however, I continued to press forward, deciding
in my own mind that the pain was less of an evil than
delay would have been. On leaving the Dog Knoll, we
traversed about twenty-five miles of prairie, among
several large and beautiful lakes. Our cavalcade now
consisted in all of nineteen persons, fifty horses, and six
M erti
carts, the order of our march being as follows. The
guide was followed by four or five horsemen to beat a
track; then came the carts, each with a driver, attended
by one or two cavaliers; and lastly followed the. unmounted animals, whether loaded or light, under the
charge of the rest of our people. Our ordinary rate of
travelling was four or five miles an hour, for ten, twelve,
or fourteen hours a day,—the carts sometimes requiring a longer time to accomplish the day's march.
Next morning, we followed, for about twenty miles,
the shores of Lac Sale, having waters as briny as those
of the Atlantic; and we were actually obliged, for want
of fresh water, to ride along without any breakfast till
half-past eleven, while, even for this late meal, we had
pushed forward so rapidly as to leave our carts nearly
four hours behind us. What with hunger and thirst,
and the pain in my side, I had a wearisome forenoon
of it.
The most curious circumstance, with respect to these
saline lakes, is, that they are often separated from fresh
water only by a narrow belt of land. This reminds me,
by the by, of a somewhat similar phenomenon recorded
in the work of my friend, Baron Wrangell, on Siberia
and the Polar Sea. In the coldest parts of the country,
there may be found lakes of different levels, within two
or three feet of each other. In that case, the subterranean communication may be supposed to be barred by
perpetual frost; but, in the other case, the anomaly
cannot be so easily and satisfactorily explained.
For three or four days, the soil had been absolutely
manured with the dung of the buffalo, so that myriads
of these animals must recently have passed over the
rax.-.* xu ■aT!K»qaff«Tiwwar? ROUND THE WORLD.
ground; and we hoped soon to meet with a herd of
them; for, independently of the sport, we wished to
replenish our larder, which the heat of the weather did
more to clear than our kettles and frying-pans.
Having encamped for the night within view of a
native lodge, we sent a man to bring us intelligence as
to the true state of affairs. He found no other lodge
than the one which we had seen ; and even that was
deserted, while every thing betokened the rapid flight of
its inhabitants,—clothes and utensils being thrown about
in confusion, and the meat of a buffalo being scattered
on the ground. Shouting after the fugitives, but receiving no answer, our emissary left for them an epistle,
which he had written on a piece of bark, to this effect.
In the first place, he drew the figure of a man with a
hat on his head and a pipe in his mouth, thus presenting
to the savages the well-known emblems of civilized
beings and peaceable intentions ; and he then added, in
more mysterious hieroglyphics, " Why do you fly away
and distress your children without cause, for we are
your friends ?" In the course of the night, the poor
Saulteau, having read the letter, came to our camp, and
explained that, having mistaken us for hostile warriors, he and his had fled into the woods, almost in a
state of nudity. How wretched the lives of such poor
creatures, obliged to wander about almost in single
families for food, and scared at the sight of a fellow
man, as the sheep is scared on the approach of the
Next morning, we marched till ten o'clock in a soaking rain. An encampment in such weather is by no
means an exhilarating sight.    On halting, we were wet Ili*«9»1
||l 11
I   !>
and chilly, but had no place to shelter ourselves from
the shower. After a drawn battle of nearly an hour
with the wind and rain in the way of making a 'fire, we
at last succeeded ; and then, heaping on whole piles
of wood, we contrived to keep ourselves tolerably comfortable till our tents were pitched. The horses were
the very picture of misery, as they huddled themselves together. To all this add drooping spirits and
a murky sky, and you have a pretty correct idea of that
kind of pic-nic breakfast on which the clouds drop their
The weather improving in the afternoon, we travelled
a long distance through a picturesque country, crossing
the end of an extensive lake, whose gently sloping
banks of greensward were crowned with thick woods.
Near this lake, to our no small satisfaction, we fell upon
the trail of the emigrants already mentioned, which,
besides preventing any uncertainty as to our route, gave
us a well beaten track for both horses and carts. The
business of a guide is no trifle in these regions, possessing, as they do, so few distinctive features. Our
present leader, an Indian of the name of Mis-quas-
quisis, or Young Grass, was peculiarly cautious and
skilful, ascending every rising ground, and scanning
the different objects in view, hills, lakes, woods, &c.;
and then, muttering a few words to himself, he would
wind his way, till he again reached some other point of
In the course of this day's march, we passed a spot,
whose little history, within my own experience, forcibly
illustrated the sameness of the scenery and the difficulties of pilotage.    On my return from the Columbia in
BBapaaBgaw^gyg^c ROUND THE WORLD.
1825, while the grass was still so short as hardly to retain any trace of the footsteps of my party, my faithful
servant Tom Taylor, and another man of the name of
George Bird, dismounted to follow a red deer; and,
after an unsuccessful chase, they resolved to return to
our party. After halting for twenty-four hours in order
to be joined by them, I gave them up for lost. At the
close of six weeks, I reached Norway House, on Lake
Winipeg, with a gloom on my spirits, which even the
completion of a long and arduous journey could not
remove. I stepped ashore, with my mind full of the
sad occurrence, when who should advance to welcome
me but the invaluable Tom Taylor and his companion
in misfortune. Of the story of their wanderings, which
might fill a volume, the outline was as follows.
After abandoning all hope of falling upon the track
of our party, they set themselves seriously to work in
order to find their way to some encampment of the
savages, or to one of the Company's posts. After a day
or two, their ammunition was expended, and their flints
became useless, while their feet were lacerated by the
thorns, timber, stones, and prickly grass. They had no
other clothing than their trousers and shirts, having
parted from us in the heat of the day; so that they
were now exposed to the chills of the night, without
even the comfort of a fire—a privation which placed
them, as it were, at the mercy of the wolves. From
day to day, they lived on whatever the chances of the
wilderness afforded them, such as roots and bark, and
eggs in every stage of progress.
At length, after fourteen days of intense suffering,
despair began to take possession of their minds, and they
<ttm Ill
were strongly tempted to lie down and die. Next morning, however, the instinctive love of life prevailed, and
they slowly and painfully crept forward, when suddenly
the sight of our track revived their energies and their
hopes. Almost intoxicated with joy, they followed the
clue of safety; till at length, after growing more and
more indistinct for a time, it entirely disappeared from
their eyes. At this awful moment of disappointment
and despondency, Tom Taylor, as if led by a merciful
Providence to the spot, slowly recognised the scenes of
his infant rambles, though he had never seen them since
his childhood.
Life was now in the one scale almost as certainly as
death was in the other ; and under the influence of this
definite motive for exertion, the two famished and lacerated wanderers reached before night the Company's
establishment on Swan River. Being well acquainted
with Mr.McDonell, the gentleman in charge, they crawled
rather than walked to his private room, standing before
him with their torn and emaciated limbs, while their
haggard cheeks and glaring eyes gave them the appearance of maniacs. After a minute inspection of his
visitors, Mr. McDonell, with the aid of sundry expletives,
ascertained by degrees that one of his friends was "The
Governor's Tom;" and, having thus penetrated to the
bottom of the mystery, he nursed them into condition,
with the kindness of a father and the skill of a doctor,
and then carried them to Norway House.
Next morning, we continued to follow the track of
the emigrants, which led us over a great deal of burnt
^ground.—a variety of surface, which, when it extends to
more than the length of a single march, is the most
iiij i
i-rtjra*- ROUND THE WORLD.
embarrassing of all the obstacles to which a horseman
can be exposed. Men may triumph over physical privations through moral influences, but horses, as Murat
said, have no patriotism. In this part of the country
we saw many sorts of birds, geese, loons, pelicans, ducks,
cranes, two kinds of snipe, hawks, owls, and gulls; but
they were all so remarkably shy, that we were constrained to admire them at a distance. In the afternoon,
we traversed a beautiful country, with lofty hills and
long valleys, full of sylvan lakes, while the bright green
of the surface, as far as the eye could reach, assumed a
foreign tinge under an uninterrupted profusion of roses
and blue-bells. On the summit of one of these hills we
commanded one of the few extensive prospects that we
had of late enjoyed. One range of heights rose behind
another, each becoming fainter as it receded from the
eye, till the farthest was blended, in almost undistin-
guishable confusion, with the clouds, while the softest
vales spread a panorama of hanging copses and glittering lakes at our feet.
We were now within a day's march of Carlton, the
lowest of the Company's establishments on the Saskatchewan ; and, in order to make sure of reaching it .on
the morrow, we selected, at our night's encampment,
the best horses for ourselves, intending to go a-head of
our baggage in the morning, with no other incumbrance
than a single day's provisions.
By half-past four, our detachment of eight in all got
under way. Having passed over a hilly and partially
wooded district, we reached the Bow River, being the
south branch of the Saskatchewan, about ten o'clock.
This stream, taking its rise in the Rocky Mountains, imk™
near the international frontier, is of considerable size,
without any physical impediment of any moment; but
its upper waters are so much infested with warlike tribes,
that, though believed to be rich in game, it is yet seldom
ascended by traders. Some years back, indeed, three
or four posts were established on its banks; but they
were soon abandoned, after the sacrificing of several
lives in their defence. In addition to these permanent
forts, a flying expedition on a large scale was projected
in the year 1822, with the view of testing the truth of
the rumours as to the riches of Bow River.
The expedition in question, besides Messrs. McKenzie
and Rowand, the gentlemen in charge, consisted of eight
or ten subordinate officers and a hundred men. After
ascending to the utmost limits of the navigation for
boats, surveying detachments were despatched in every
direction, which met with many natives, who had never
seen a European before. These unsophisticated savages,
however, had their curiosity most strongly excited by a
negro of the name of Pierre Bungo. This man they
inspected in every possible way, twisting him about and
pulling his hair, which was so different from their own
flowing locks; and at length they came to the conclusion that Pierre Bungo was the oddest specimen of a
white man that they had ever seen.
These negroes, of whom there were formerly several
in the Company's service, were universal favourites with
the fair sex of the red race; and at the present day, we
saw many an Indian that appeared to have a dash of the
gentleman in black about him. Finding that the resources of the country had been overrated, our people
retired the following year, with the loss of a considerable ROUND THE WORLD.
part of the original outlay of £i0,000, carrying with
them an enormous quantity of leather, but very few furs.
They had lived in the midst of plenty, having consumed,
during the winter, fifteen hundred buffaloes, besides great
quantities of venison of every kind.
About twenty years ago, a large encampment of
Gros Ventres and Blackfeet had been formed in this
neighbourhood for the purpose of hunting during the
summer. Growing tired, however, of so peaceful and
ignoble an occupation, the younger warriors of the
allied tribes determined to make an incursion into the
territories of the Assiniboines. Having gone through
all the requisite enchantments, they left behind them
only the old men, with the women and children. After
a successful campaign, they turned their steps homeward in triumph, loaded with scalps and other spoils;
and, on reaching the top of the ridge that overlooked
the camp of the infirm and defenceless of their band,
they notified their approach in the proudly-swelling
tones of their song of victory. Every lodge, however,
was as still and silent as the grave; and, at length,
singing more loudly, as they advanced, in order to conceal their emotions, they found the full tale of the
mangled corpses of their parents and sisters, of their
wives and children. In a word, the Assiniboines had
been there to take their revenge.
Such is a true picture of savage warfare, and perhaps
too often of civilized warfare also — calamity to both
sides, and advantage to neither. On beholding the
dismal scene, the bereaved conquerors cast away their
spoils, arms, and clothes; and then, putting on robes
of leather and smearing their heads with mud, they
VOL. I. G 82
betook themselves to the hills, for three days and nights,
to howl, and mourn, and cut their flesh. This mode
of expressing grief bears a very close resemblance to
the corresponding custom among the Jews in almost
every particular.
At our crossing-place, the Bow River was about a
third of a mile in width, with a strong current. About
twenty miles farther down, it falls into the Saskatchewan ; and the united streams then flow -towards
Lake Winipeg, forming at their mouth the grand rapid
of about three miles in length, the finest thing of the
©   ' ©
kind in the whole country. We passed the river without difficulty in a bateau, which had been left there
for our accommodation and that of the emigrants, while
our horses swam over without any accident. After a
rest of four hours, of which our cattle stood much in
need, we had just mounted to resume our march, when
Pierre Dunomais, who had guided the emigrants to
Carlton, came up to us on his way back to Red River
Settlement. Not to miss so favourable an opportunity
of sending letters, we detained our new friend for a
Pierre brought news of a war, which had just begun
to rage between the Crees and the Blackfeet, in the
very country which we were about to traverse. This
unwelcome business, in which several lives had already
been lost, arose from a very trivial cause. Peace having
been made, perhaps for the hundredth time, between the
two tribes, the Crees visited the Blackfeet, who were
then encamped near Fort Pitt, for the purpose of buying horses ; and, in return for the nags, they gave all
that they possessed, even their guns and ammunition.
I' a a;
In order to celebrate their friendly meeting, according
to custom, by a race—an amusement as keenly enjoyed
by these savages as by the enlightened jockeys of Newmarket and Ascot — the two tribes laid down their
united stakes in a heap. The Blackfeet, inasmuch
as they had taken care not to sell their best chargers,
were, of course, victorious. On proceeding, however,
to appropriate the prize of victory, they were anticipated by a Cree, who rescued a tattered capot, doubtless an old friend of his own, from the pile of booty;
and the Blackfeet, viewing this as a violation of the
peace, betook themselves to their tents. On their way,
they met a celebrated chief of the Crees, known as the
Crow's Shoes, with two of his men, all unarmed ; and,
after a little conversation, they slaughtered all three
on the spot. In order to revenge the death of their
friends, the Crees, first seizing arms from the Blackfeet, slew nine of them, till, finding themselves outnumbered, they fled.
Such was Pierre's story ; and, however improbable
or inaccurate some of the details might be, the essential fact that we had to pass through a scene of military operations was established beyond a doubt. In
fact, I give all such narratives chiefly as a picture of
manners, for, whether true or false in themselves, they
are always sufficiently correct for that purpose.
A smart ride of four or five hours from the Bow
River, through a country very much resembling an
English park, brought us to Fort Carlton, on the Saskatchewan, where we found every soul in the establish-
ment enjoying a siesta with open gates — a conclusive
proof of either of the carelessness of our people or of
g 2 84
the peaceful disposition of the neighbouring savages.
Our dav's work had been remarkable, almost to a ludi-
crous degree, from the number of falls that we encountered, for each of us had a roll or two on the turf,
so harmless, however, as not to leave even a single
bruise to boast of. Besides the exhausted state of our
horses, the ground was drilled into a honeycomb by
badger-holes, which, being pretty well-screened by
grass at this season of the year, could seldom be discerned soon enough to be avoided.
At Carlton, we took up our quarters for a couple of
nights. We had accomplished about six hundred miles
in thirteen days — a very fair rate of travelling, considering that many of our horses had come the whole
distance heavily laden. This fort stands in latitude
53° north; it is in the form of a lozenge, being surrounded by wooden stockades of considerable height,
with bastions at each angle and over the gateway. In
the immediate vicinity, there are large gardens and
fields, which produce abundance of potatoes and other
vegetables; but wheat, though it has sometimes succeeded, has been far more frequently destroyed by the
early frosts of autumn, which, even on Red River, occasionally blight the hopes of the less active among
the settlers.
The Saskatchewan is here upwards of a quarter
of a mile wide, presenting, as its name implies, a
swift current. It is navigable for boats, from Rocky
Mountain House, in longitude 115°, to Lake Winipeg,
in longitude 98°, upwards of seven hundred miles in a
direct line; but, by the actual course of the stream,
nearly double that distance.    Though, above Edmonton, ROUND THE WORLD.
the river is much obstructed by rapids, yet, from that
fort to Lake Winipeg, it is descended without a portage alike by boats and by canoes, while, even on the
upward voyage, the only break in the navigation is the
Grand Rapid already mentioned.
The post of Carlton is visited by Saulteaux, Crees,
and Assiniboines in great numbers, about three hundred
of these different tribes being, in some measure, attached to the establishment as hunters; and occasionally, though not of late years, the Blackfeet have
made hostile forays into the neighbouring country. In
this district, and indeed on the whole of the Saskatchewan, though red deer and moose are now becoming
scarce, yet the buffalo appears to multiply in spite of
perpetual persecution on the part alike of the whites
and the savages. Besides maintaining all our people
and all the natives, during the whole year, in an apparently wasteful and extravagant manner, the animal in
question is made up, at our three principal posts of
Carlton, Pitt, and Edmonton, into pemmican and dried
meat for the general supply of the Company's service.
In spite of the abundance of the larger kinds of game,
the fur-bearing animals were at one time remarkably
numerous; and even now the diminution has arisen
chiefly from the recklessness with which the Indians
destroy, often in mere wantonness, all ages at every
The dav after that of our arrival was devoted to the
writing of letters, and to the making of preparations
for the rest of our journey. Late in the afternoon, the
main body of our people arrived, having crossed the
Bow River with a good deal of difficulty and delay, in K9BB
consequence of the extreme weakness of many of the
horses. As our route hence lay on the north or left
bank of the Saskatchewan, the carts &c, as soon as
they came, were despatched across the river in order to
save time in the morning.
About noon, on Saturday the 17th of July, we resumed our journey, with about a week's work before us,
to Edmonton. In place of sixteen completely exhausted horses, we received only six fresh steeds; and,
as even they had strayed, we were obliged to start
without them, leaving two men to bring them after us.
Our route lay over a hilly country, so picturesque in
its character, that almost every commanding position
presented the elements of an interesting panorama. In
the course of the evening, our two men with the six
horses overtook us, while encamped for the night at a
distance of thirty miles from the fort.
We were now in the hunting grounds of the Crees,
probably the largest tribe in the country. Of this
nation there are two distinct branches, the Crees properly so called, and the Swampies, who occupy the
borders of Hudson's Bay, all round, from Churchill to
East Main, to a depth of two or three hundred miles.
Of the Swampies, nothing more is required to be said
than what I have already stated under the head of Red
River Settlement, while their inland brethren demand
more particular notice.
About forty years ago, they were described by Sir
Alexander McKenzie as having carried their victories
as far as the borders of the Arctic Circle and across the
Rocky Mountains, chiefly because the fire-arms, which
they had purchased from the whites, had not yet found ROUND THE WORLD.
their way as an article of traffic to the northern tribes.
Thus formidably equipped, the Crees had a great advantage over their comparatively defenceless neighbours,
whom they stigmatized as slaves,—a name still applied,
though without any offensive reference to its original
meaning, to the Chipewyans, the Yellow Knives, the
Hares, the Dogribs, the Loucheaux, the Nihanies, Daho-
tanies, and others on the shores of McKenzie's and
Liard's rivers and their tributaries.
Soon afterwards, however, the relative power of the
Crees was considerablv diminished. The measles and
smallpox, finding their way into the country from the
Missouri, swept off a large portion of their tribe, while
the northern races, besides being exempted from this
scourge, had been provided with fire-arms through the
gradual advance of the white traders into the interior,
so as even to become the assailants, instead of being the
victims. Thus checked in one direction, the Crees,
branching off into a variety of bands, gradually advanced towards the south, no longer confining themselves
as hunters to the thickwood countries, but scouring the
open prairies on horseback, with the buffalo to feed and
to clothe them, and also, through the Company's establishments, to supply them with arms, ammunition, and
tobacco. They extend from the most southerly waters
of the Assiniboine to Athabasca, which forms part of
the basin of MeKenzie's river, and to Isle a la Crosse,
which is situated on the most northerly feeder of any
magnitude of Hudson's Bay.
Down to 1818, the Crees were believed to be regularly
diminishing in numbers; but, in that year and the next,
; 88
they were carried off in thousands by a second visitation
of the measles. Since then they have been recruiting
their strength; and they are now perhaps fully as
numerous as they were in the days of Sir Alexander
Next day, the hottest that we had yet had, we experienced a good deal of inconvenience from thirst. In
the afternoon, after marching a considerable distance
without seeing a drop of water, we reached a small
lake; but, as the hour was too early for encamping, we
passed it, more particularly as its stagnant surface was
by no means attractive; but we soon regretted our fastidiousness, for, when the evening began to darken, we
had seen neither lake nor brook, though searching for
7 O ©
the luxury on both sides of our track. Having sent
some men a-head to look for water, we were at length
delighted, about nine in the evening, to learn, that they
had discovered a large lake at some distance from our
road. Huge fires were immediately lighted to serve as
beacons to those who were behind ; but it was not till
eleven that the whole cavalcade reached the camp.
The fatigues and discomforts of the day, being speedily
drowned in oceans of tea, served only to make us relish
our suppers and beds the more.
Since we had fallen upon the trail of the emigrants,
we could observe, by the number of their encampments,
that we were marching at three or four times their
pace; so that, though they had started twenty-eight
days before us, they were overtaken by us next morning, after we had been out exactly sixteen in all. From
the information of Indians, we were looking out for ROUND THE WORLD.
these people; and accordingly, about two hours after
starting, we gained a view of their lengthened cavalcade,
winding its course over the plains.
These emigrants consisted of agriculturists and others,
principally natives of Red River settlement. There
were twenty-three families, the heads being generally
young and active, though a few of them were advanced
in life, more particularly one poor woman, upwards of
seventy-five years of age, who was tottering after her
son to his new home. This venerable wanderer was a
native of the Saskatchewan, the name of which, in fact,
she bore. She had been absent from this the land of
her birth for eighteen years; and, on catching the first
glimpse of the river, from the hill near Carlton, she
burst, under the influence of old recollections, into a
violent flood of tears. During the two days that the
party spent at the fort, she scarcely ever left the bank
of the stream, appearing to regard it with as much veneration as the Hindoo regards the Ganges.
As a contrast to this superannuated daughter of the
Saskatchewan, the band contained several very young
travellers, who had, in fact, made their appearance in
this world since the commencement of the journey.
Beyond the inevitable detention, which seldom exceeded
a few hours, these interesting events had never interfered with the progress of the brigade; and both
mother and child used to jog on, as if jogging on were
the condition of human existence.
Each family had two or three carts, together with
bands of horses, cattle, and dogs. The men and lads
travelled on the saddle, while the vehicles, which were
covered with awnings against the sun and rain, carried
i 90
the women and the young children. As they marched
in single file, their cavalcade extended above a mile in
length; and we increased the length of the column by
marching in company. The emigrants were all healthy
and happy, living in the greatest abundance and enjoying the journey with the highest relish.
Before coming up to these people, we had seen evidence of the comfortable state of their commissariat in
the shape of two or three still warm buffaloes, from
which only the tongues and a few other choice bits had
been taken. This spectacle gave us hopes of soon
seeing the animal ourselves; and accordingly it was not
long before we saw our game on either side of the road,
grazing or stalking about in bands of between twenty
and a hundred, to the number of about five thousand in
all. In spite of their fatigue, such of our steeds as had
been trained to the sport were quickly in the thick of
the herd; and one old stager, that had been condemned
as unfit alike for pack and rider, maintained the chace so
eagerly, that he could not be brought back from the pursuit.
The buffalo is larger than the domestic cattle, excepting that its legs are shorter. Its large head, about a
third part of its entire length, gives it a very uncouth
appearance, while its shaggy beard and mane resemble
the lion's, though on a larger scale; and, when running
fast, it tosses its rugged frontispiece at every step.
But, notwithstanding its terrific looks, it is really a
timid creature, excepting that, when urged by despair
to do justice to its physical powers, it becomes a fearful
Several parties, of about six or eight men each,
having been formed for the occasion, each division ap- ROUND THE WORLD.
proached its own chosen quarry cautiously, till, within a
few hundred feet of the devoted band, it rushed at full
gallop on its prey. Taking the alarm, the animals immediately started off at a canter in single file, an old
bull usually taking the lead. When alongside, as they
soon were, the hunters fired, loading and discharging
again and again, always with fatal effect, without
slackening their pace. The dexterity with which the
experienced sportsman can manage his gun is quite
wonderful. While his steed is constantly galloping, he
primes his lock, pours out the proper quantity of powder,
firgt into his left hand and then into the muzzle, drops
a ball upon the charge without wadding, having merely
wetted it in his mouth, and then knocks down the
fattest cow within his reach,—all in less than half a
minute. The morning's chace resulted in about fifty
killed; but so abundant were provisions at this moment,
that, after taking the tongues, we left the carcases to
the mercy of the wolves.
The affair, however, is very different when the professional hunters go in hundreds to the plains to make
as much as they can of the buffalo. When they meet
the herd, which often makes the whole scene almost
black with its numbers, they rush forward, pell-mell,
firing and loading as already mentioned ; and, while the
bullets fly, amid clouds of smoke and dust, the infuriated and bewildered brutes run in every direction with
their tormentors still by their sides. By reason of the
closeness of the conflict, serious accidents from shots
are comparatively rare; and nearly all the casualties are
the result of falls, which few riders have leisure either to
prevent or to soften.
STPwII ' ill I1'
■j. j i ;.■ \m i:.
I «l ft!
When the buffaloes are dispersed, or the horses exhausted, or the hunters satisfied, then every man proceeds to recognise his own carcases, having marked one
with his cap, another with his coat, a third with his
belt, a fourth with his fire-bag, and so forth ; and then
come into play the science and art of curing what has
been killed. Sometimes dried meat is preferred, the
bones being taken out, and the flesh hung up in the
sun; but, if pemmican be the order of the day, the lean,
after being dried, is pounded into dust, which, being
put into a bag made of the hide, is enriched with nearly
an equal weight of melted fat.
The buffaloes are incredibly numerous. In the year
1829, for instance, I saw as many as ten thousand of
their putrid carcases lying mired in a single ford of
the Saskatchewan, and contaminating the air for many
miles round. They make yearly migrations from one
part of the country to another, reversing, in this respect,
the ordinary course of birds of passage. During the
winter, they go north in order to obtain the shelter of
the woods against the severity of the weather, while, on
the approach of summer, they proceed to the open
plains of the south with the view of eluding the attacks
of the musquitoes. At this time of the year, they had
deserted the country through which we had been travelling of late; and the wolves, thus deprived of their
staple food, were so wretchedly thin, that we could have
easily counted their ribs with the eye alone. During
the autumn, the buffaloes resort in large numbers to the
salt lakes, led thither by instinct to purge themselves.
While the hunting-parties were eagerly pursuing their
game, the rest of the cavalcade moved slowly forward
till ab6ut noon, when we halted for breakfast at the
Turtle River, the emigrants still being in company. In
order to do honour to the day,—the first occasion perhaps on which two large bands of civilized men had met
as friends in these vast prairies,—I put the men in high
spirits with a dram, while a donation of wine, tea, and
sugar rendered the women the merriest and happiest
gossips in the world.
The elders of this little congregation sat in council
o      ©
with Mr. Rowand and myself on the subject of their
route and various incidental matters. On leaving Red
River, the emigrants had intended to perform the whole
distance by land. Hitherto, however, they had been so
slow in their movements, having taken forty-three days
to one third of their journey, that, in this way, they could
hardly reach their destination before the commencement
of the winter. We, therefore, proposed that they should
proceed by the Athabasca Portage of the Rocky Mountains to the Boat Encampment, and thence descend the
Columbia to Vancouver.. The people agreed to this
change of their plan ; but they subsequently, in accordance with the original arrangement, followed our track
all the way to the westward.
Our breakfast was a complete specimen of a hunter's
meal, consisting of enormous piles of roasted ribs, with
marrow and tripe at discretion,—the spoils of the morning's chace. About three in the afternoon, we took
leave of our fellow-travellers with mutual wishes for a
prosperous journey, soon falling again upon the Turtle
River. Of this stream the tortuous windings are very
remarkable, sometimes flowing east, then north, next
west, and finally south, and returning again, after all, Wm:
■sit pill
■ II
Iff IP ill!
within a few paces of its original point of departure. As
we were now on the verge of an immense prairie, where
no water could be obtained, we filled every pot and
kettle for our supper. During the whole day, comprising a march of fifty miles, we saw no other water than
that of the Turtle River ; nor was there any, for more
than half that distance beyond our night's encampment.
Notwithstanding the scarcity of this necessary of life,
animals of various kinds were abundant. In addition
to the buffaloes, we saw wolves, badgers, foxes, beaver,
and antelopes. Of the last-mentioned species, one of
our men succeeded in bringing down a fine buck ; but,
as it was at some distance from the road, we were contented, in the present state of our larder, with the tongue
alone. Soon after going to bed, we were startled by the
cry of | Indians are coming S" With our imaginations
full of horse-stealers, every man shook off his sleep,
cocked his gun, and prepared himself for the worst. Indians did come, but they proved to be Crees, who, as their
tribe had no reputation in this way, were allowed to
remain with us all night.
It was the noon of next day before we found water, the
grass along our route being completely withered; and, as
a general rule, any neighbourhood that refused drink to
our horses yielded them very little food. By five in the
afternoon, we again entered the immediate valley of the
Saskatchewan for the first time since leaving Carlton ;
and at this spot we came upon the only pines that we
had seen after our departure from Red River. We
reached Fort Pitt about dark j and, before passing
through the gates, we were saluted by a volley from
eleven lodges of Crees,—an honour which our nags by
Z'.jSrgr*munr*F*m»r;-i*sa^l ROUND THE WORLD.
no means appreciated, for, tired as they were, they
evinced their terror by kicking and plunging.
These Crees, like all those that we had previously
met with, were keeping out of the way of the Blackfeet.
We visited one of the lodges, where a favourite warrior,
who had been severely wounded at the battle of the racecourse, was lying. On betaking himself to flight with
his companions, this poor fellow had leant forward on his
horse's neck, receiving, in that position, a wound of the
most singular character. A ball hit him below the right
shoulder, passed in a curved direction across the spine,
and finally lodged near the joint of the left shoulder.
After an interval of thirty-three days, we found his left
arm dreadfully inflamed and swollen, while the rest of
his body was a mere skeleton. With the view of extracting the bullet, the Indians, who profess surgery as
well as physic in their own way, had made several punctures to no purpose; and all that any of us could do for
the unfortunate sufferer was to administer a little medicine for temporary relief.
The whole scene in this lodge was of a most melancholy nature. On one side lay the dying warrior, his
glassy eye and haggard looks revealing the agony which
neither voice nor gesture deigned to tell; near him was
a child about three years old, with its shrivelled flesh
barely concealing its bones, whose ceaseless moaning
formed a striking contrast with the stubborn endurance
of its father; and perhaps the most pitiable object in
the tent was the hapless wife and mother, sinking under
anxiety and fatigue, and blending, as it were, in her silent dejection at once the apathy of her husband and
the sensibility of her boy.   But this physical misery
ffl 96
excited more of our sympathy on account of its superstitious accompaniments. During the night, the medicine-man was plying his mystic arts to restore health to
the sick, while, to provide against the worst, drums were
beating to drive away all evil spirits. What a picture
of the fruits of barbarism and heathenism united !
Fort Pitt is prettily situated on the north or left bank
of the river. It is frequented by the Crees, Assiniboines,
and Blackfeet, having been planted among them only
about ten years before our visit; and, as it is thus comparatively new among these dangerous tribes, it still
keeps up, both by day and by night, the system of watch
and ward, which has been discontinued at our older
establishments on the Saskatchewan, Edmonton, Carlton,
and Rocky Mountain House. At this place we exchanged
all our horses, with the exception of two or three of the
more hardy of m the band; most of them had been rendered useless for any present purpose by soreness of
backs, weakness of joints, &c.
Soon after our arrival, several mounted men were observed crossing from the opposite shore : they proved to
be the commissariat of the fort returning home perfectly
light. In the course of the morning, these hunters,
while watching for moose in the neighbourhood of a
wood and a lake, had discovered two Blackfeet crawling
towards their horses. They fired at the thieves, learning
immediately from a groan that they had not missed their
aim; but, not knowing how many more of the enemy
might be at hand, they fled, without taking time even
to saddle their animals. However disagreeable this intelligence might be, we consoled ourselves by reflecting
that, if travellers were to be influenced by wars and ROUND THE WORLD.
rumours of wars, they would never pass through these
plains at all.
Though we were now on the safer side of the Saskatchewan, in the country of the Crees, yet, in order to
save a day's march on the distance between Fort Pitt
and Edmonton, we resolved to cross the river into the
territory of the Blackfeet, merely taking care to move
in somewhat closer order than usual. Starting accordingly from the establishment about eleven in the morning, we had hardly gained the opposite shore, when an
Indian dog on the track, whose master could not be far
off, excited our vigilance, if not our fears.
On passing the spot where the hunters had seen the
Blackfeet, we halted to make a search, but discovered
no trace of an enemy, whether living or dead. We travelled about thirty miles through bolder scenery than
that which we had previously traversed, breaking the axle
of one of our carts, and replacing it by a rough kind of
makeshift at the encampment. As unremitting caution
was now indispensable, our horses were hobbled, and a
guard mounted, for the night.
Next morning, being the 22nd of July, we had a sharp
frost before sunrise, and afterwards a heavy dew. The
whole country was so parched up, that no water could
be found for breakfast till eleven o'clock; and again
in the afternoon we passed over a perfectly arid plain of
about twenty-five miles in length, encamping for the
night at the commencement of the Chaine des Lacs, a
succession of small lakes stretching over a distance of
twenty or thirty miles. During the afternoon, we saw
our first raspberries ; they proved to be of large size and
fine flavour.    Two days previously, we had feasted on
the service-berry, or misasquitomina, a sort of cross
between the cranberry and the black currant; and, before leaving Red River, we had found wild strawberries
ripe. The misasquitomina, by the by, is generally an
ingredient in the better sort of pemmican, which is made
with marrow-fat instead of ordinary grease. In the
course of the day, Mr. Rowand's horse, stepping into a
badger-hole, gave him a very heavy fall, by which his
face was much cut, and by which also, a& appeared some
months afterwards, his breastbone was broken.
Next afternoon we passed over a space of about four
miles in length, where the grass was thoroughly beaten
down, apparently the work of hail. Such storms, which
are almost always partial in their operation, are often
remarkably furious in this country. While travelling
from Red River to Canada in the fall of 1837, I was
overtaken near Lac la Pluie by a violent tempest of the
kind, which, if we had not gained the fort in time,
might have proved fatal. As the angular masses of ice
rattled on the roof, we entertained fears for the safety
of the building ; and, in point of fact, the lodges of the
Indians were thrown down and their canoes shattered;
while their luckless dogs, tumbling about like drunken
men, scrambled away howling in quest of shelter.
Some of the pieces, measured in presence of Mr. Fin-
lay son, of Red River, and Mr. Hargrave, of York Factory, we found to be fully five inches and a half in
Throughout this country every thing is in extremes—
unparalleled cold and excessive heat: long droughts,
balanced by drenching rain and destructive hail. But
it is not in climate only that these contrarieties prevail; ROUND THE WORLD.
at some seasons both whites and natives are living, in
wasteful abundance, on venison, buffalo, fish, and game
of all kinds; while at other times they are reduced to
the last degree of hunger, often passing several days
without food.
In the year 1820, when wintering at Athabasca Lake,
our provisions fell short at the establishment, and on
two or three occasions I went for three whole days and
nights without having a single morsel to swallow; but
then again I was one of a party of eleven men and one
woman, which discussed three ducks and twenty-two
geese at a sitting. On the Saskatchewan the daily
rations are eight pounds of meat a head, whereas in
other districts our people have been sent on long journeys with nothing but a pint of meal and some parchment for their sustenance.
Towards sunset we encamped on the confines of an
extensive forest, a tongue of which, stretching away to
the northward, is known as La Grande Pointe. In the
afternoon we had come upon a large bed of the eye-
berry, or oosquisikoomina, very nearly resembling the
strawberry in taste and appearance. It grows abundantly in Russia; and flourishing, as it does, in the
same soils and situations as the strawberry, it would
doubtless thrive in England. The nights were getting
chilly; and, whenever the sky was clear, a heavy dew
fell from sunset to sunrise on particular spots, so as to
look, when morning dawned, like large lakes in the
distance. As the power of the sun increased, these
mists gradually resolved themselves into streaks of
various shapes and sizes, which, rising from the ground
in the form of clouds, finally disappeared.
H 2 esass
Next morning, being anxious to reach Edmonton
before night, we proceeded in advance of our heavy
baggage. For the first three or four leagues the country appeared to have been the bed of some large lake;
and many spots, of several miles in area, were as
smooth and flat as if they had been levelled by artificial
means. The whole plain was covered with a luxuriant
crop of the vetch, or wild pea, almost as nutritious a
food for cattle and horses as oats. As we drew near to
the Saskatchewan, we had to cross as many as five
creeks, with steep and lofty banks, the last, in particular, being a stream scarcely twenty feet in span,
between rugged declivities about two hundred feet in
The summit of one of the rising grounds in the
neighbourhood of these creeks presented a man on
horseback, who, catching a glimpse of us, suddenly disappeared down the opposite side of the hill. We urged
our horses forward at full speed, in order to overtake
the fugitive, closely examining every bush and every
hollow, till, on reaching the last five creeks, we found
the object of our pursuit in the shape of a native hunter
attached to the fort. This man, who rejoiced in the
name of Potato, while his brother was equally blessed
with the title of Turnip, had, in two days, knocked
down a moose, a red deer, and a buffalo—pretty good
wages for less than half a week's work. While speaking of names, I cannot help mentioning that our guide
from Fort Pitt was one of three brothers, who bore the
congenial or uncongenial appellations of Sand-fly, Mus-
quito, and Napoleon Bonaparte.
On arriving in front of Edmonton, which was on the ROUND THE WORLD.
opposite bank of the Saskatchewan, we notified our
approach by a volley of musketry, which was returned by
the cannon of the fort. A boat was quickly despatched
to convey us across the river; and on landing we found
the residents of the establishment, and more particularly Mrs. Rowand and her daughters, assembled to
receive us.
Edmonton is a well-built place, something of a hexagon in form. It is surrounded by high pickets and
bastions, which, with the battlemented gateways, the
flagstaffs, &c, give it a good deal of a martial appearance ; and it occupies a commanding situation,
crowning an almost perpendicular part of the bank,
about two hundred feet in height. The river is nearly
as wide as at Carlton, while the immediate banks are
well wooded, and the country behind consists of rolling
This fort, both inside and outside, is decorated with
paintings and devices to suit the tastes of the savages
that frequent it. Over the gateways are a most fanciful variety of vanes; but the hall, of which both the
ceiling and the walls present the gaudiest colours and
the most fantastic sculptures, absolutely rivets the astonished natives to the spot with wonder and admiration.
The buildings are smeared with a red earth found in
the neighbourhood, which, when mixed with oil, produces a durable brown.
The vicinity is rich in mineral productions. A seam
of coal, about ten feet in depth, can be traced for a
very considerable distance along both sides of the river.
This coal resembles slate in appearance; and though it
requires a stronger draught of air than that of an ordinary
chimney, yet it is found to answer tolerably well for
the blacksmith's forge. Petrifactions are also found
here in abundance; and at the fort there was a pure
stone, which had once been a log of wood about six
feet in length, and four or five in girth; the resemblance being so complete, as even to deceive the eye.
The storm, of which we yesterday observed the effects in the beating down of the grass, had been severely
felt here, though in the shape rather of lightning than
of hail. One flash had fallen on the bank within a few
yards of the walls, cutting two deep gulleys down to
the water's edge.
The number of the native inhabitants of the Saskatchewan district may serve to demonstrate how
scanty is the aboriginal population of North America at
the present day, more particularly as the tract in question is, perhaps, the most populous in the country:—
Blackfeet   .
Blood Indians
Gros Ventres
Small as this census is for a territory at least as large
*• ©
as England, the force of the Company's servants is infinitely smaller.    But, in any case of inevitable colli-
sion, our people never recede from their purpose. To
give an instance:—a band of Assiniboines had carried
off twenty-four horses from Edmonton; and, being
pursued, they were overtaken at the small river Bout-
biere. One of the keepers of the animals, a very courageous man, of the name of Francois Lucie, plunged
into the stream, grappling in the midst with a tall
savage; and, in spite of his inferiority of strength, he
kept so close, that his enemy could not draw his bow.
Still, however, the Indian contrived to strike his assailant on the head with the weapon in question, and
thereby to knock him off his horse into the water.
Springing immediately to his feet, Lucie was about to
smite the Assiniboine with his dagger, when the savage
arrested his arm by seizing a whip which was hanging
to his wrist by a loop, and then, turning round the
handle with a scornful laugh, he drew the string so
tight as to render the poor man's hand nearly powerless. Francois continued, nevertheless, to saw away
at the fellow's fingers with his dagger till he had nearly
cut them off; and when, at length, the Assiniboine, of
necessity, relaxed his grasp, Francois, with the quickness of thought, sheathed the deadly weapon in his
In the spring of the year, Mr. Rowand had secured,
as a guide to conduct us as far as the Rocky Mountains, a man of the name of Peechee, who, though himself a half-breed, had been brought up among the
savages, and was, in fact, a chief of the Mountain Crees.
Beyond Edmonton the country is impracticable for
carts, so that all our baggage would have to be conveyed on horseback; and on this account we reduced nf
our wardrobes to the smallest possible compass, taking
with us only such articles of clothing as were absolutely
necessary for the voyage.
On the third day after our arrival, the firing of guns
on the opposite side of the river, which was heard early
in the morning, announced the approach of nine native
chiefs, who came forward in advance of a camp of fifty
lodges, which was again followed by another camp of
six times the size. These chiefs were Blackfeet, Piegans,
Sarcees, and Blood Indians, all dressed in their grandest
clothes and decorated with scalp-locks. I paid them a
visit, giving each of them some tobacco. Instead of
receiving their presents with the usual indifference of
savages, they thanked me in rotation, and, taking my
hand in theirs, made long prayers to me as a high and
powerful conjurer. They implored me to grant, that
their horses might always be swift, that the buffalo
might constantly abound, and that their wives might
live long and look young. One of them vented his
gratitude in a song; and another blessed the house in
which he had been so well treated.
Our nine visitors remained the whole morning,
smoking and sleeping: nor would they take their departure till they had obtained a present for each of the
chiefs that were coming behind them. Though we had
resolved to make a start to-day, yet we could not safely
resume our journey while these Indians were hanging
about the place, inasmuch as they would have given
information to the approaching bands; and then we
should have been annoyed, and perhaps plundered, by
the fellows for whole days in succession.
In  order  to  escape   unseen  and  unsuspected,  we
a  «■  Mmmmsamtme ft
adopted the following expedient. A boat, which was
loaded with our baggage, was sent about six miles up
the river in the evening with orders to be concealed as
much as possible; and early next morning we were to
proceed with the horses, under cover of the woods, along
the northern bank to join it. Then and there we were
to cross the Saskatchewan, and pursue our journey
towards the south-west.
On this our last afternoon, we made a tour of the
farm. The pasturage was most luxuriant; and a large
dairy was maintained. Among the cattle was a buffalo
heifer seven years of age, procured for the purpose of
crossing the breed; but every domestic bull had always
appeared to be afraid of her. Sheep could not be kept,
for, in addition to the severity of the climate, the packs
of dogs and wolves in the neighbourhood would have
destroyed them. Barley generally yielded a fair return;
but wheat was almost sure to be destroyed by the early
frosts. The garden produced potatoes, turnips, and a
few other hardy vegetables.
!    t   !■!'fill'i'-.  H      '
I! H
i'-'li l!.l!l
Departure from Edmonton—Rev. Mr. Rundle—Gull Lake—Native
gossips—Duck hunt—Red Deer's River—Unexpected meeting—March
through wet bush — Altered character of vegetation—State of commissariat—Difficulties of march — Rugged scene-—Peechee's home—Perpendicular rocks -— Indian skirmish, courage of a woman — The spout
—Bow River Traverse—Porcupine—Natural gateway—Height of land
—Reminiscence of Scotland—Improvement in climate—Kootonais River
—Adventures of two of our men—Scarcity of water—Bad road—Columbia River—Search for horses—Gloomy ravine—Hieroglyphics—
Tenacity of musquitoes—Fresh horses—Scenery now softer—Flatbow
Indians—Hot springs—Burning forests—Park-like prairie—Kootonais
Indians, chief's son—Grande Quete Lake, missing companion— Grande
Quete River—Improvement in vegetation—Plunge of two loaded horses
—Use of a horse—Starvation among natives—Female horse-dealer—
Extensive and interesting view—March through wet bush-—Kootonais
River Traverse—Peculiar canoe—Kootonais village—Food of natives
—Mr. and Mrs. Cbarlo—Natural pit—Burning woods—Kullespelm
Lake—Pend' d'Oreille River—Pend' d'Oreille Indians—Card-playing—
Results of education—Native dress — Fresh horses—Supper or no
supper ?—Mr.McDonald from Col vile—Excellent breakfast—Ludicrous
accident—Fort Col vile — Fine farm—Chaudiere Indians—Peechee—
Departure from  Col vile — Chaudiere Falls — Grande Coulee—Oka-
nagan — Murder of Mr. Black — Scarcity of wood—Isle des Pierres
Rapids—Sault du Pretre—Rattlesnakes—Snake River—Wallawalla—
Rev. Mr. Mungh—McKenzie's and Ross's Heads—Prairie fowl—Snake
Indians—Basaltic rocks—Cayuse chief in love—Les Chutes, past and
present—Petites Dalles — Long Narrows — Hair seals—Mission of
Whaspicum—Aquatic forest — Cascades—Pillar Rock—Arrival at
About five in the morning of the 28th of July, we
started from Edmonton in high spirits, with a fresh band ROUND THE WORLD.
of forty-five fine horses, and struck into the adjacent
woods, before the Indians made their appearance on the
opposite side of the river. Crossing the Saskatchewan
at the place, where we found our boat, we breakfasted
in a secluded spot; and thence we pursued our course,
during the whole day, through a land of marshes and
thickets, forming a remarkable contrast with the rolling
prairies which we had recently traversed. As the
forests had been almost entirely destroyed by fire, the
fallen timber, often concealed alike from horse and
rider by the high grass, occasioned a good deal both of
delay and of danger. In spite, however, of all bur
difficulties, we contrived, with our new stud, to
accomplish sixty miles by eight in the evening.
In the afternoon, we had met Mr. Rundle, the
Wesleyan missionary of Edmonton, who had been visiting a camp of Crees on the borders of Gull Lake; and,
as that gentleman was anxious to have some communication with me, he returned with us to our encampment, which we made near the Atcheskapesequa Seepee,
or Smoking-weed River. This stream flowed in a deep
and shady valley; and its clear water afforded us an
exquisite treat after our long and hot ride.
In the morning, Mr. Rundle accompanied us as far as
the Battle River, which falls into the Saskatchewan,
near Fort Pitt. We were now beyond the level prairie
with its badger holes, which have obtained for the
people of the Saskatchewan the name of Les Gens des
Blaireaux; but we had woods instead, which, if they
were less perilous, were fully more embarrassing. The
scenery, as we approached the mountains, was becoming
bolder every hour.   The plains were replaced by ranges
of lofty hills ; and we were straining our eyes to catch
the first glimpse of the perpetual snows of the mighty
barrier that lay in our path. The weather continued
to be exceedingly warm, the thermometer showing 83° in
the shade; and the flies of every species, from the bulldog, which takes out the bit from man and beast, to
the diminutive moustique, annoyed, to an almost insupportable degree, both ourselves and our cattle. To
make matters worse, we were this morning attacked,
for the first time, by wasps, which every now and then
made our poor animals dance and bolt, and roll on the
ground ; and so much did the horses dread the insect
in question, that not one in the band would approach
the spot where any other had been stung,—the whole of
them sometimes dashing off, in all possible directions,
at full gallop.
After passing two or three very beautiful lagoons,
we encamped for the night on the banks of the Gull
Lake, a fine sheet of transparent water of about twenty
miles in length by five or six in width, surrounded by
high hills, of which the remotest summits to the westward command a view of the Rocky Mountains. Though
we saw no traces of Mr. Rundle's Crees, yet the report
of a musket, booming like that of a cannon along the
lake, indicated their vicinity ; and, on our answering
what was probably meant as a signal, we were visited
by a few of them, who proved to be relations of some
of our men. Our object in desiring an interview was
to obtain, if possible, a supply of fresh meat, inasmuch
as the small stock, which we had brought from Edmonton, was already exhausted. The Indians, who
were almost as badly off as ourselves, had nothing to ROUND THE WORLD.
spare but the remains, the inferior joints of course, of a
red deer; but these, such as they were, they promised
to bring us in the morning.
On decamping, a heavy fog threatened us with a wet
day. Gradually, however, the sun dispersed the vapours;
and, as there was no wind, the heat became excessive,
while our work grew harder in consequence of the gradual
rise of the country. After fording the Paskap Seepee,
or Blind River, we reached Reedy Lake; and thence,
crossing a range of high hills, we breakfasted on an
extensive prairie beyond them. Our friends of Gull
Lake had brought us a little meat, and that not very
tempting in its appearance; but, such as it was, it saved
our pemmican for one day longer. They remained with
us two or three hours, smoking and chatting; and, our
guide Peechee being a great man among them, they
formed a circle round him, whiffing and talking and
listening; for, notwithstanding the taciturnity of savages
among whites, they are, when by themselves, the most
loquacious of mortals, apparently regarding idle gossip
as one of the grand objects of life. In addition to the
venison, which we got from the Indians, our breakfast
was enriched by the presence of a few ducklings—without
green peas. We had caught a sight of a colony of
ducks in a small swamp; and, after scrambling in the
high grass and shallow water with a most zealous combination of all our talents and appetites, we succeeded
in bagging seven of the rising brood. The excitement
of such a hunt cannot possibly be appreciated by your
civilized sportsman, inasmuch as his larder is not materially interested in the question of failure or success.
Soon after   the commencement of  our afternoon's OVERLAND JOURNEY
march, we had to cross the Red Deer's River, a large
and beautiful stream flowing between well wooded
banks of considerable height; and, while we were riding
three or four miles down the current in quest of a ford,
we found on the bank perfectly fresh tracks of bear,
red deer, moose, antelopes, and wolves. Had we been
on a hunting excursion instead of travelling against
time, we might here have enjoyed a few days of excellent
sport. While the horses were fording the river, we had
a pleasant bath, after which we continued our march
across a prairie almost covered with dwarf willows.
While quietly forcing our way through the bushes
with our party very much scattered, we suddenly
encountered a small band of Sarcees, the boldest of all
the tribes that inhabit the plains. The savages appeared
to be taken as much by surprise as ourselves; and, in
a moment, the guns were uncovered on both sides. A
halt, of course, was made; and a parley ensued, the
subject of discussion being the present war between the
Crees and the Blackfeet. The Sarcees, as allies of the
latter tribe, naturally blamed the former ; and we took
credit to the whites for having kept their common
enemy comparatively quiet. With the aid of a little
tobacco and ammunition, we prolonged the conversation
for a sufficient length of time to allow all our people to
get fairly out of sight; and we then parted from our
fickle customers on the most friendly terms. We came
almost immediately to a small river, whose banks of
two hundred feet in height were so steep, that our horses
slid sideways the greater part of the distance to the
water's edge; and, however troublesome the operation
was in itself, we were not sorry to place so formidable ROUND THE WORLD.
a barrier between the Sarcees and ourselves. In order
to give our somewhat doubtful friends as wide a berth
as possible, we marched more briskly than usual till the
evening, selecting for our night's encampment a rising
ground which commanded the view to a considerable
distance; and, to make assurance doubly sure, every
gun was loaded, while four men mounted guard.
Still remembering the Sarcees, we made an early
move, and marched vigorously for about seven hours.
Before breakfast, however, we met a new object of
alarm in the fresh trail of a large party of horsemen,
who must have passed as late as last evening; but, on
second thoughts, we were glad to observe that the band
in question had kept a good deal to the westward of
our track. In this same neighbourhood, we got up an
amusing scene in the shape of a hunt of some young
geese. Some of the men, without taking time to strip,
jumped into the water, splashing and tumbling about
after their prey, while the others from the bank kept
up a constant fire on the birds; and thus, between
killed, and wounded, and taken, the whole flock fell
into the hands of our cooks.
In the course of the afternoon, we descended into a
glen between ranges of steep and lofty hills, through
which flowed the river La Biche, at one place contracted
into a mere rivulet, and at another spread over a channel of two hundred feet in width. In forcing our way
through the tangled underwood of this valley, we were
almost as thoroughly drenched by the deposits of a
recent shower on the leaves, as if we had been actually
exposed to the rain itself; and this thicket again led us
into a dense forest of pines, through which the track, 11:11
■ IS Hi
besides being obstructed by fallen timber, was so narrow as seriously to impede the pack-horses.
We encamped for the night in an open space amid
an amphitheatre of towering hills, which were covered
with dark forests. Every hour of this day's march had
marked our ascent to a higher level. At Fort Pitt, as
already mentioned, we had seen our first pines; since
then we had passed few trees of the kind, till they
began, this morning, to increase rapidly in number,
while, in the same proportion, every other species gradually disappeared. The willow and poplar were the
last to dispute the sway of this evergreen child of the
mountains, though, before reaching our encampment,
even they had given up the contest; and nothing was
to be seen but the black, straight, naked stem of the
pine, shooting up to an unbroken height of eighty or a
hundred feet; while the sombre light, as it glimmered
along numberless vistas of natural columns, recalled to
the imagination the gloomy shades of an assemblage of
venerable cathedrals.
In the way of eating, we had now little to expect
beyond our own stores of pemmican and dried meat.
Our supper of to-day was the first meal, at which we
had not fresh viands of some kind or other; and we
had no great reason to expect any considerable improvement for some time to come. Next day, indeed,
we crossed several small plains, which are often well
stocked with buffalo, one of them in particular being on
this account distinguished as La Prairie de la Graisse ;
but, as our luck would have it, not a hoof was to be
seen. This disappointment was the more to be regretted, inasmuch as the increasing cold -
Mill  I;
both with the advance of the season and with our own
elevation — would now have kept any booty much
longer sound and sweet.
In La Prairie de la Graisse we caught our first view
of the white peaks of the mountains, looking like clouds
on the verge of the horizon. Beyond this point, our
track lay through swamps, which, even in this the
driest month of a dry season, were almost impracticable.
The horses constantly sank to their girths; and, in endeavouring to extricate themselves, they occasionally
dislodged their packs or riders into the seething morass.
Nor was our progress much more expeditious in the
woods than in the bogs. The horses were, every now
and then, diving into the pathless forest, with the
drivers at their heels, whose cries might be heard ringing through the usually solitary glades for miles ; and
the fugitives, when overtaken, were generally found to
have either slipped their packs altogether, or else to
have them hanging loose under their bellies. In adjusting all this, the men would lose the track, so that
we had to make occasional halts to collect our people.
One man in particular was missing for several hours
this morning; and others, who were sent in search of
him, found him trying to drive three obstinate brutes
before him.- Though this poor fellow had fired fifteen
signals for assistance, yet not one of them had been
heard by us; and this was the more extraordinary, as
the report of one's own gun appeared to reverberate
through the woods like the discharge of a heavy piece
of ordnance.
About ten we halted for breakfast, that some of our
VOL. I. i •! ifi !
:   illII rI
hunters might follow a recent track of the buffalo ; but
they saw only three stragglers, which, however, were
out of reach. In the afternoon, we emerged from the
woods on a long open valley terminating in a high
rid^e, whence we obtained one of those majestic views,
found only " 'midst mountain fastnesses." As far as
the eye could reach, mountain rose above mountain,
while at our feet lay a valley surrounded by an amphitheatre of cold, bare, rugged peaks. In these
crags, which were almost perpendicular, neither could
tree plant its roots nor goat find a resting-place;
the I Demon of the Mountains" alone could fix his
dwelling there. On the stony bosom of the valley in
question we pitched our tents for the night. Here
we found one of the sources — in spring, a torrent,
but now almost dry — of the river La Biche; and
here we bade adieu to that stream, which, during the
last three days, we had crossed at least forty times.
One of the overhanging peaks, from its bearing a rude
resemblance to an upturned face, is called the Devil's
The path, which we had been following, was a track
of the Assiniboines, carried, for the sake of concealment,
through the thickest forests. The Indians and Peechee
were the only persons that had ever pursued this route;
and*we were the first whites that had attempted this
pass of the mountains.
In the morning, we entered a defile between mountainous ridges, marching for nine hours through dense
woods. This valley, which was from two to three miles
in width, contained four beautiful lakes, communicating
with each other by small streams; and the fourth of
the series, which was about fifteen miles by three, we
named after Peechee, as being our guide's usual home.
At this place he had expected. to find his family; but
Madame Peechee and the children had left their encampment, probably on account of a scarcity of game.
What an idea of the loneliness and precariousness of
savage life does this single glimpse of the biography of
the Peechees suggest!
Having marched for nine hours over broken rocks
and through thick forests, we found, on halting for
breakfast, that six of our horses, three of them with
packs, were missing; and we instantly despatched all
our men but two in quest of them, determining at the
same time to remain for the rest of the day in order to
await their return. The beauty of the scenery formed
some compensation for this loss of time. Our tents
were pitched in a level meadow of about five hnndred
acres in extent, enclosed by mountains on three sides,
and by Peechee's lake on the fourth. From the very
edge of the water, there rose a gentle ascent of six or
eight hundred feet, covered with pines, and composed
almost entirely of the accumulated fragments of the
adamantine heights above; and on the upper border of
this slope there stood perpendicular walls of granite, of
three or four thousand feet, while among the dizzy
altitudes of their battlemented summits the goats and
sheep bounded in playful security.
As ill luck would have it, one of the missing horses
carried our best provisions ; but, by stewing two partridges and making a little pemmican into a kind of
i 2
burgoo, we contrived to produce both breakfast and
supper for eight hungry travellers. Though we had
considerably increased our elevation by this morning's
march, yet the heat was great, reaching as high as
70° in the shade.
The defile, through which we had just passed, had
been the scene of an exploit highly characteristic of
savage life.    One of the Crees, whom we saw at Gull
Lake, had been tracked into the valley, along with his
wife and family, by five youths of a hostile tribe.    On
perceiving the  odds that were against him, the man
gave himself up for lost, observing to the woman that,
as they could die but once, they had better make up
their minds to submit to their present fate without resistance.    The wife, however, replied that, as they had
but one life to lose, they were   the more  decidedly
bound to defend it to the last, even under the most
desperate  circumstances';   adding that, as they were
young and by no means pitiful, they had an additional
motive for preventing their hearts from becoming small.
Then,   suiting   the  action  to  the  word,  the heroine
brought the foremost warrior to the earth with a bullet,
while the husband, animated by a mixture of shame
and hope, disposed of two more of the enemy with his
arrows.    The fourth, who had by this time come to
pretty close quarters, was ready to take vengeance on
the courageous woman, with uplifted tomahawk, when
he stumbled and fell;   and, in the twinkling of an eye,
the dagger of his intended victim was buried in his
heart.    Dismayed at the death of his four companions,
the sole survivor of the assailing party saved himself ROUND THE WORLD.
by flight, after wounding his male opponent by a ball
in the arm.
It was six o'clock next morning before our people
returned with the missing horses, which they had found
about fifteen miles behind. On starting, we proceeded
up a bold pass in the mountains, in which we crossed
two branches of the Bow River, the south branch, as
already mentioned, of the Saskatchewan. From the
top of a peak, that rose perpendicularly at least two
thousand feet, there fell a stream of water, which,
though of very considerable volume, looked like a
thread of silver on the gray rock. It was said to be
known as the Spout, and to serve as a landmark in this
wilderness of cliffs.
About two in the afternoon, we reached, as Peechee
assured us, the Bow River Traverse, the spot at which
a fresh guide from the west side of the mountains, of
the name of Berland, was to meet us with a relay of
horses. But, whether this was the Bow River Traverse or not, no Berland was here to be found. Thinking that the two guides might have different notions as
to the precise place of rendezvous, we despatched two
men to another crossing-place about two miles farther
up the stream, instructing them, according to circumstances, either to return to this point and pursue our
track, or else to cut across the country in order to join
us. The river, the same as that which we crossed before reaching Carlton, was here about a hundred and
fifty yards in width, with a strong and deep current.
We conveyed baggage and horses, and everything else,
on a raft covered with willows; and, as we finished the OVERLAND JOURNEY
operation only at sunset, we encamped for the night on
the south or right bank of the stream,
As we were always glad to make our guns save our
pemmican, we had to-day knocked down a porcupine
which, being desperately hungry, we pronounced to
be very good fare. We had also tried, but in vain, to
get within shot of some of the goats and sheep that
were clambering and leaping on the peaks; the flesh of
the latter is reckoned a great delicacy; but that of the
former is not much esteemed.
The water of the river was cold, being formed chiefly
of melted snow; and the temperature of a small tributary in the neighbourhood of our camp proved
to be only 42°, while, in the course of the afternoon, the mercury had stood at 70° in the shade. We
enjoyed the coolness both for drinking and bathing,
though the water, like that of the Alps, was known to
give the goitres, even as far down as the fork of the
two grand branches of the Saskatchewan, to such as
might habitually and permanently use it. Our men,
poor fellows, had had quite enough of the luxury, in the
swimming way, for, in managing the raft, they had
been three or four hours in the current.
Next morning, we began to ascend the mountains in
right earnest, riding where we could, and walking where
the horses found the road too steep to carry us, while by
our side there rushed downwards one of the sources of
the Bow River. We were surrounded by peaks and crags,
on whose summits lay perpetual snow; and the only
sounds that disturbed the solitude were the crackling of
prostrate branches under the tread of our horses, and ROUND THE WORLD.
the roaring of the stream, as it leaped down its rocky
course. One peak presented a very peculiar feature in
an opening of about eighty feet by fifty, which, at a
distance, might have been taken for a spot of snow, but
which, as one advanced nearer, assumed the appearance
of the gateway of a giant's fortress.
About seven hours of hard work brought us to the
height of land, the hinge, as it were, between the
eastern and the western waters. We breakfasted on
the level isthmus, which did not exceed fourteen paces
in width, filling our kettles for this our lonely meal
at once from the crystal sources of the Columbia and
the Saskatchewan, while these feeders of two opposite oceans, murmuring over their beds of mossy
stones as if to bid each other a long farewell, could
hardly fail to attune our minds to the sublimity of the
scene. But, between these kindred fountains, the common progeny of the same snow wreaths, there was this
remarkable difference of temperature, that the source
of the Columbia showed 40°, while that of the Saskatchewan raised the mercury to 53^°, the thermometer
meanwhile standing as high as 71° in the shade.
From the vicinity of perpetual snow, we estimated
the elevation of the height of land to be seven or eight
thousand feet above the level of the sea, while the surrounding peaks appeared to rise nearly half of that
altitude over our heads. Still this pass was inferior in
grandeur to that of the Athabasca Portage. There, the
road, little better than a succession of glaciers, runs
through a region of perpetual snow, where nothing
that can be called a tree presents itself to relieve and m
cheer the eye. There, too, the relative position of the
opposite waters is such as to have hardly a parallel on
the earth's surface; for a small lake, appropriately enough
known as the Committee's Punch-bowl, sends its tribute,
from one end to the Columbia, and from the other to
the McKenzie.
In addition to the physical magnificence of the scene,
I here met an unexpected reminiscence of my own native
hills in the shape of a plant, which appeared to me to
be the very heather of the Highlands of Scotland ; and
I might well regard the reminiscence as unexpected,
inasmuch as, in all my wanderings of more than twenty
years, I had never found anything of the kind in North
America. As I took a considerable degree of interest
in the question of the supposed identity, I carried away
two specimens, which, however, proved, on a minute
comparison, to differ from the genuine staple of the
brown heaths of the f land o' cakes." We made also
another discovery, about which there could be no mistake, in a troublesome and venomous species of winged
insect, which, in size and appearance, might have been
taken for a cross between the bull-dog and the house-
fly. .|
On resuming our march, we had not descended half a
mile, before we felt a difference in the climate, a change
noticed by all travellers in these regions; and the trees
were also of fine growth. Whatever may be the reason
of the sudden alteration, the same clouds have been
known to clothe the eastern side with hail and snow,
and to refresh the western with gentle rain. With
reference, however, to this state of the atmosphere, the r^
temperature of the water is somewhat anomalous, for,
after a lapse of two or three days, the stream, which
we followed, was subsequently found to be still half a
degree cooler than the source of the Bow River on the
height of land. In the progress of our descent, we took
some interest in tracing, as it were, Nature's manufacture
of a river; as every rill that trickled down the rocks,
with its thread of melted snow, contributed its mite to
the main current of various names, the Kootonais, or
the McGillivray, or the Flat-bow. Even at our first
encampment, after only half a day's march, the flood
had already gathered a breadth of fifty feet.
Next morning, we forded the river twentv-three
times, each attempt becoming, of course, more difficult
than the preceding one; and we crossed it once more,
immediately before breakfast, near its confluence with
another stream of about equal magnitude. During this
single march, the fifty feet of yesterday evening had
swollen out into a hundred yards ; and the channel
was so deep, that the packs got soaked on the backs of
the horses. Here we made a meal of our third porcupine, the only fresh meat that we could get; for,
though our track bore the recent marks of the bear,
the buffalo, the antelope, the sheep, the moose, the red
deer and the wolf, yet the noise of our cavalcade seemed
to scare all these animals into the woods.
Our two men, who had been sent to the upper traverse of the Bow River in quest of Berland, were here
to rejoin us; and accordingly, just as we were mounting for our afternoon's march, they arrived with the
unwelcome news that they had seen no trace either of 122
horses or of guide. If Berland had kept his appointment at all, our only remaining chance was to look for
him at a crossing place on the Bow River, about a day's
march below our own traverse; and accordingly, as La
Graisse, one of the men who had just returned, gallantly
volunteered, along with an Iroquois of the name of Jose
Tyantas, to undertake this forlorn hope of an expedition, we forthwith despatched the hardy fellows with
a little pemmican and a few pairs of mocassins, leaving
them to supply all other wants with their guns. In
fact, they were not so liable to starve as ourselves ; for,
being on foot, they were less likely to frighten the
game of the country to a distance; and, in proof of
this, La Graisse had brought us part of a red deer that he
had shot, which, though tough and hard, we relished as
a great luxury.
Our afternoon's work was exceedingly slow and laborious, as we had to pass through an intricate forest
along the banks of the river. Having crossed a very
steep hill with the view of encamping, by Peechee's
advice, on the borders of a small lake, we were disappointed to find nothing but its dried bed without a
single drop of water in it; and, being alike unable to
advance and unwilling to return, we sent back our men
for water with the whole of our surviving stock of pots
and kettles. As an evidence of the difficulties of our
route, our whole day's march did not exceed twenty
Next morning, however, our bad roads surpassed
themselves. Besides being mountainous, the ground
was rugged  and boggy;  the  forests were thick and ROUND THE WORLD.
tangled; and prostrate trees of large dimensions, piled
and interlaced together, barricaded our track. Leading
our horses, we forced our way along by winding about
in every direction, by hewing or removing fallen trunks,
and by making the animals, according to circumstances,
leap, or scramble, or crouch. At the end of about
four hours, we had not accomplished more than two
Emerging from this labyrinth on a clear plain, where
a good road lay along the precipitous bank of the river
of about a hundred and fifty feet in height, one of the
horses, which fortunately had neither rider nor pack,
missed its footing, but was caught by the trees on its
way down. We breakfasted near a lofty mountain,
which was to form our afternoon's mark. Its base was
marked not only by the Kootonais but also by the
Columbia properly so called, the former sweeping far
to the south, and the latter still further to the north, in
order to unite their waters a little above Fort Colvile.
After marching about an hour, we reached the nearer
side of the mountain, where, in consequence of Peechee's
representations as to the impossibility alike of our crossing it before dark, and of encamping on it for the night,
we reluctantly halted at the early hour of five o'clock.
Three wearied and disabled horses were here abandoned
with a faint hope of their being subsequently recovered,
if, in their present helpless condition, they could only
protect themselves' from the wolves.
Soon after midnight, the people began to search for
the horses, some of which were found in the woods at a
distance of five or six miles: and the mere fact that the ml
l j
animals could be caught at all amid thick forests in the
dark, spoke volumes for the patience and steadiness, the
carefulness and sagacity, the skill and tact, of our half-
breed attendants. Perhaps, all the grooms in an English
county could not have done that morning's work. After
all the delay, we were still able to start by five.
The ascent of the mountain was rugged and difficult.
Though the forests were more oracticable than those of
yesterday, yet our track lay generally on the steep and
stony edge of a glen, down which gushed the sources of
the Columbia. At one very remarkable spot, known as
the Red Rock, our path climbed the dry part of the
bed of a boiling torrent, while the narrow ravine was
literally darkened by almost perpendicular walls of a
thousand or fifteen hundred feet in height; and, to
render the chasm still more gloomy, the opposite crags
threw forward each its own forest of sombre pines, into
the intervening space. The rays of the sun could
barely find their way to the depths of this dreary vale,
so as to render the darkness visible ; and the hoarse
murmur of the angry stream, as it bounded to escape
from the dismal jaws of its prison, only served to make
the place appear more lonely and desolate. We were
glad to emerge from this horrid gorge, which depressed
our spirits even more than it overawed our feelings.
Our road then lay over some high hills of parched
clay, where the reflection of the heat from below and a
scorching sun above almost roasted us alive; every
shrub and every blade of grass was brown and sapless,
just as if newly swept by the blast of a sirocco. During
the  hottest part  of the day,  our  thermometer was ROUND THE WORLD.
stowed away in one of our packages; but, when obtained
in the evening, it still stood at 81° in the shade.
From these hills an abrupt descent brought us into a
large prairie, through which our river wound a serpentine course; and, as the loaded horses did not arrive till
live o'clock, we here encamped for the night, making
one hearty meal for the day after a fast of twenty-four
hours. Our day's work of twenty miles had fatigued
us all to excess; for, by reason of the steepness and
ruggedness of the road, we had been obliged to walk, or
rather to climb and slide, a great portion of the way.
On one of the trees, however, we found something that
made us forget our toils—a hieroglyphic epistle, sketched
thus with a piece of burnt wood :
gg| %$m
We speedily interpreted*this welcome letter to mean,
that Edward Berland was waiting us with a band of
twenty-seven horses at the point where our river received
a tributary before expanding itself into two consecutive
lakes. As the spot in question was supposed to be
within a few miles of us, Peechee was despatched to
secure our phantom guide ; and two men were also sent
in the opposite direction to bring up a missing pack-
This prairie had perhaps been selected by our corre- ■BBC
■"aI. I! ■¥
spondent as his post-office, from its being the place at
which the only two routes, by which we could have
crossed the height of land in this part of the
country, happened to converge. The emigrants, having
been treacherously deserted at Bow River by their
guide, a half-breed of some education, providentially met
an Indian of the name of Bras Croche, who, being better
acquainted with the mountains than Peechee, carried
them through a little to the southward by a pass infinitely superior to ours; and they fell upon our track
again near our present encampment.
The valley, for the prairie was surrounded by mountains, swarmed with musquitoes to a greater degree than
any place that we had hitherto seen. These insects
were as formidable as they were numerous, for they
found our horses and ourselves such a treat in this their
lonely haunt, that they kept coqlly and steadily sucking
our blood, after the whole of us, both men and beasts,
were nearly suffocated by the smoke that had been
raised in order to drive them away. We could neither
eat, nor write, nor read, our hands being constantly employed in repelling or slaughtering our small but powerful enemies. The Canadians vented their curses on the
old maid, who had the credit of having brought this
scourge upon earth, by praying for something to fill up
the hopeless leisure of her single blessedness; and, if
the tiny tormentors would but confine themselves to
nunneries and monasteries, the world might see something more like the fitness of things in the matter.
Wherever the soil was composed of clay, we had
noticed large holes at the roots of trees, which had
literally been eaten out by the wild sheep. These
animals use argillaceous earth as a medicine, just as the
dog nibbles grass and the fowl swallows gravel; and
probably their instinct teaches them that, in the situations in question, the vegetable fibres, something in the
nature of yest, render the stuff both softer and lighter.
About nine in the morning, Peechee brought Berland
to us, who had been prevented, as he said, by illness,
but, as we suspected, by laziness, from going forward to
the Bow River. Of our new guide's horses, many, having
never carried either rider or pack, were comparatively
useless; and we were, therefore, obliged to complete
our muster with a few of the best and hardiest of our old
band. We left three men to take back the remainder
to Edmonton; and by them we forwarded letters to the
east side of the mountains.
It was eleven o'clock before we evacuated this fearful
nest of musquitoes. As we advanced, the mountains
gradually became softer, while their summits were no
longer clad with snow. The scenery, from having been
sublime, was now merely picturesque. Our path lay
along a prairie of about two miles in width, skirted on
the right by sloping hills, and on the left by the mountains, presenting at their bases an apparently artificial
arrangement of terraces and shrubberies. In consequence of the recent drought, every horse raised such
a cloud of dust as almost to conceal itself from view;
and as, through the same cause, the country was on
fire, the atmosphere was filled with smoke, which gave
the sun the same appearance of a red wafer which he so
often assumes in the murky skies of London. Flfi
In the afternoon we saw a lodge of Flat-bow Indians,
our first natives on the west side of the continent.
Compared with the Crees, their skins were darker, their
features less pleasing, and their figures less -erect. The
head of the house wore a robe thrown over his shoulders ; the mother sported a chemise of leather, rather
short and dirty; the younger children had no other
dress than what nature had given them ; and two
grown lads, whose bodies were mapped with shreds and
patches, had decorated themselves with caps of green
baize and plumes of feathers. We encamped at the
commencement of the second Kootonais Lake, obtaining for supper a few small trout of excellent flavour,
absurdly enough called by the Canadians poisson connu.
About six in the morning, the two men returned with
the missing packhorse. Near our encampment we observed that the stones in the bed of a little stream
were covered with a yellow crust. Before starting for
the day, Berland conducted us to three hot springs,
about three miles distant, which doubtless caused the
phenomenon in question. The waters tasted slightly
of alum, and appeared to contain a little magnesia;
and, though we had neglected to take our thermometer
with us, yet, on returning to the camp, we estimated
the three temperatures respectively at about ninety, a
hundred, and a hundred and twenty degrees. Two winters back, Berland, while suffering from a severe illness,
made a bathing-place of these springs; and he either
actually was, or believed that he was, benefitted by them.
Odr route lay at first along the face of a steep hill,
which rose abruptly from the shores of the lake; and ROUND THE WORLD.
the footing was so bad, that two of the wild horses,
which had been loaded with packs by way of experiment, slid or rolled down the rugged surface, thereby
lacerating themselves dreadfully. After getting beyond
the end of the lake, we crossed over a lofty mountain:
to the well-wooded banks of the river. The forest,
which was still burning, had been on fire for some
weeks, and many a magnificent tree lay smouldering in
our path. We encamped in a thick and gloomy wood,
on an uncomfortable bottom of decaying vegetables and
rank weeds. To-day we had left an Indian, with horses,
provisions, &c, for the use of our two men, who had
gone back a second time to Bow River; and on the
occasion of sending our tired cattle to Edmonton, we
had provided in the same way for the safety and comfort of our courageous emissaries.
On decamping, we marched three hours through
burning forests, in which our track was blocked up by
fallen piles of still smoking timber. After crossing a
small river, we entered a prairie lying along the Kootonais, which bore a considerable resemblance to a fine
park. Here and there were thick clumps, which yielded
an inviting shade; in other places, the trees, standing
apart, formed themselves into grand avenues; and the
open sward was varied with gentle slopes and mounds*
We here encamped for breakfast, a temperature of
S5° in the shade imparting an exquisite zest to the cold
and clear water of the Kootonais; and the stream
afforded us a highly agreeable addition to our meal, in
the shape of some fine trout.
However dexterous our people were in collecting our
; a
horses from the pasture for each of our two daily starts,
they were rather reckless and cruel in their treatment
of the poor animals. We had an example of this
to-day, when one of our best horses had its skull wantonly fractured by a blow. Continuing our march
along the prairie, we reached, towards sunset, a camp
of six or eight lodges of Kootonais Indians. The
whole premises appeared to be in a state of great consternation, till we were ascertained to be only whites;
and then all the inhabitants, men, women, and children,
rushed forth, to the number of sixty or seventy, to
shake hands with us. They were a miserable set of
beings, small, decrepit, and dirty. Though of the men
there were two that might be called handsome, yet of
the women there were none; and, in fact, the more
venerable members of the fair sex, particularly when
they shut their eyes and scratched their heads, hardly
bore the semblance of human beings. The camp was
under the command of an old chief, who, in virtue
of a long pigtail, had formerly got the name of Grande
Queue. Many years ago, when selecting some boys to
be sent from the Columbia to Red River for their education, I had taken a son of this chief as one of them,
naming him Kootonais Pelly, after his own tribe, and
the Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company. The
youngster, a fine, clever, docile lad, died—a blow from
which the father never recovered ; and though the men-
7 Q
tion of the deceased would have been utterly repugnant
to savage etiquette, yet I was pretty sure that the
Grande Queue, as well as myself, was thinking rather
of the poor boy than of any thing else.
Being in great want of provisions, we offered a liberal
reward to such as would follow us to our next encampment with either meat or fish ; and though we travelled
ten or twelve miles farther, till we reached Mac Donald's
River, near its confluence with the Kootonais, yet almost all our friends, young and old, male and female,
were there as soon as ourselves, bringing with them
some raspberries and a considerable quantity of dried
moose. Hungry as we were, this meat was so dry and
tough as to be scarcely eatable. These people remained
with us the whole night, squatting themselves in a
double ring, the men in the inner circle, and the women
and children in the outer one; and in this position they
were contented to smoke and sleep. While we were
drinking our wine, they looked very wistfully at the
flagon; and, to humour their silent solicitations, we
gave a glass to two or three of the leaders, who drank
it, with all becoming gravity, as " Great Chief's Rum,"
though they were evidently disappointed by the want of
pungency in the draught. They were all very dirty,
dressed in skins; but, squalid and poor as they were,
they possessed a band of about two hundred fine horses.
The hair of the oldest among them was as long, and
dark, and luxuriant as that of the young people—a
peculiarity observable among Indians in general, arising
probably from their knowing neither care nor thought,
or perhaps from their always going bareheaded.
After passing slowly through some woods in the
morning, we crossed a hill of considerable height; and
on reaching the valley below, where we intended to
breakfast, we were surprised to find it preoccupied by
k 2
a party of whites and their horses. Our new friends
proved to be a guide and two men, whom Mr. McDo-
nald, of Fort Colvile, immediately on hearing of Ber-
land's illness, had sent to take his place. They, of
course, brought no horses, expecting to have to take
charge of the sick man's band. This was unfortunate,
for at this particular time we had far greater need of
cattle than of guides. The three men, however, did
bring us letters from the Columbia, which gave satis-
fact or v intelligence of both friends and business in that
In the afternoon, we skirted along the shore of the
Grand Quete Lake of about twenty miles in length and
four in width. From the borders of this sheet of water
there rose abruptly on all sides lofty mountains of black
rock, covered from base to summit with cheerless forests
of pine, while the fathomless depths of the mirror that
reflected them might have been taken for a lake of ink,
in which the very fishes might have been expected to
perish. Through the woods on the eastern side lay our
path,—if path it could be called, where fragments of
ironstone, with edges like scythes, were cutting the feet
of our poor horses at every step.
On encamping for the night at the southern end of
the lake, one of the party was found to be missing, a
circumstance which—considering the perils that we had
encountered even with the help of daylight—excited a
good deal of alarm. Signals were fired, and people were
sent to search for him. At length, about eleven o'clock,
the night being as dark as pitch, we were planning a closer
and more extensive exploration of the scene of our after- ROUND THE WORLD.
noon's march, when, to our infinite relief, our missing
companion was brought to the camp safe and sound.
Having lingered behind the party, he had lost his way,
which he succeeded in finding again only by the last
glimmer of the twilight; and had not his good fortune
thus come to his aid, his night's lodging would have been
on the cold ground, with no other covering than what
he had been wearing during the heat of the day. This
little event reminded us more forcibly than ever of the
long absence of our two men who had gone back to Bow
River; and we could only hope and trust for the best.
Nor was this adventure the sole misfortune of the day,
for one of our horses had strayed with a valuable box of
papers, and had only been again caught, after an anxious
hunt of several hours.
Next morning, our new guide, a half-breed of the
name of Pion, was installed in office, while Berland was
sent ahead as far as the Kootonais River Traverse with
a letter, which he was thence to despatch to Fort Col-
vile by some of the neighbouring Indians. Our path
led us along the Grand Quete River, a stream which, in
depth and blackness, appeared to retain the characteristics
of its reservoir. The trees and underwood, however,
beset us so closely that we could catch only occasional
glinrpses of anything beyond them. We were now
getting down into a region of varied vegetation. In
addition to the pine, of which one of our party counted
no fewer than sixteen sorts, there were the poplar, the
birch, the cedar, &c.; and the underwood, which gave
us a vast deal of trouble, consisted of willow, alder,
thorn, rose, and poire.    Of wild fruits we found a large •fcpfflf
choice, raspberry, service-berry, gooseberry, currant, bear-
plantberry, grain de chapeau, grain d'original, atcheka-
pesequa, hips and haws,&c, with two almost unknown
berries—a red one, that was deemed poisonous, and a
white one, that was said to be eaten by the natives.
The blue berry, usually growing here in great abundance,
had this season entirely failed.
The banks of the river showed good signs of beaver,
that animal having been carefully protected against destructive waste by the comparatively thrifty and provident Kootonais; and there were also many fresh tracts
of deer and bighorn, which, as they crossed our line of
inarch in every direction and at every angle, were sometimes apt to be confounded with our own road—our
nags, in such cases, being generally better pilots than
ourselves.    Some of our party, having got bewildered
to-day among the numerous paths, determined to follow
a couple of pack-horses that were trotting along before
them, when both the animals, probably thinking rather
of allaying their thirst than of prosecuting their journey,
suddenly dropped into the current through its screen of
brushwood.    The foremost of those who were following
these faithless guides had barely time to rein up his
steed within a single step of the shelving bank, while
the apparently lost horses were seen swimming awfty as
if nothing had happened.    With considerable difficulty
the animals were extricated from the deep water, though,
as ill luck would have it, one of them had soaked part
of our clothing, and the other our lighter provisions,
such as biscuit, tea, sugar, salt, and the like.   The accident might have been more serious, for, if the two nags ROUND THE WORLD.
had not been followed in their aberrations, they would
have made a total loss of it.
Next morning, we met a few miserable Kootonais with
some horses, which they appeared to turn to profitable
account. Each of the animals might well be styled a
family horse, being led by the father, and loaded with
the mother and younger children, along with pots, kettles, mats, &c. On asking one of them, who was more
destitute than the rest, how he came to be so wretchedly
poor, we were told by him, with a boastfulness of tone
and manner, that he had lost his all by gambling,—the*
grand amusement of Indians in general, but more particularly of those on the west side of the mountains.
Where we halted for breakfast, we were gradually joined
by thirty or forty more of these miserable savages, all
wending their way after their friends to the lake. These
unfortunate creatures were very grateful for some victuals and a little tobacco, which we bestowed on them
out of our own rather meagre stores. They declared that
they were starving, while, even if their tongues had been
silent, their haggard faces and emaciated bodies would
have told the same melancholy tale.
Before leaving these Indians, we had a specimen of
their ingenuity at a bargain. From a female chief we
had bought a fine mare with her colt of two years of
age, giving in exchange one of our own horses, a blanket,
twenty rounds of ammunition, and a fathom of tobacco.
When we were all ready, however, for starting on our
afternoon's march, the lady, who had doubtless come to
the conclusion that she had sold her favourite too cheap,
tried to jockey us into paying for the foal which the mare
k 14
was to produce next spring. This demand, though most
seriously meant, we treated as an excellent jest, setting
out forthwith, in order to avoid any farther extension of
so fertile a principle of extortion.
In the afternoon, while traversing some thick forests,
we met about fifty or sixty of the same tribe, all starving
like those that had gone before them, while the red
paint wi