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Title: Pathfinders of the West - Being the Thrilling Story of the Adventures of the Men Who - Discovered the Great Northwest: Radisson, La Vérendrye, - Lewis and Clark
Author: Laut, Agnes C. (Agnes Christina), 1871-1936
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Frontispiece: Stealing from the Fort by Night.]

Pathfinders of the West
















Set up and electrotyped.  Published November, 1904.  Reprinted February,


August 15, 1904.


A few years ago, when I was a resident of the Far West and tried to trace
the paths of early explorers, I found that all authorities--first,
second, and third rate--alike referred to one source of information for
their facts.  The name in the tell-tale footnote was invariably your own.

While I assume _all_ responsibility for upsetting the apple cart of
established opinions by this book, will you permit me to dedicate it to
you as a slight token of esteem to the greatest living French-Canadian
historian, from whom we have all borrowed and to whom few of us have
rendered the tribute due?





  I love thee, O thou great, wild, rugged land
  Of fenceless field and snowy mountain height,
  Uprearing crests all starry-diademed
  Above the silver clouds!  A sea of light
  Swims o'er thy prairies, shimmering to the sight
  A rolling world of glossy yellow wheat
  That runs before the wind in billows bright
  As waves beneath the beat of unseen feet,
  And ripples far as eye can see--as far and fleet!

  Here's chances for every man!  The hands that work
  Become the hands that rule!  Thy harvests yield
  Only to him who toils; and hands that shirk
  Must empty go!  And here the hands that wield
  The sceptre work!  O glorious golden field!
  O bounteous, plenteous land of poet's dream!
  O'er thy broad plain the cloudless sun ne'er wheeled
  But some dull heart was brightened by its gleam
  To seize on hope and realize life's highest dream!

  Thy roaring tempests sweep from out the north--
  Ten thousand cohorts on the wind's wild mane--
  No hand can check thy frost-steeds bursting forth
  To gambol madly on the storm-swept plain!
  Thy hissing snow-drifts wreathe their serpent train,
  With stormy laughter shrieks the joy of might--
  Or lifts, or falls, or wails upon the wane--
  Thy tempests sweep their stormy trail of white
  Across the deepening drifts--and man must die, or fight!

  Yes, man must sink or fight, be strong or die!
  That is thy law, O great, free, strenuous West!
  The weak thou wilt make strong till he defy
  Thy bufferings; but spacious prairie breast
  Will never nourish weakling as its guest!
  He must grow strong or die!  Thou givest all
  An equal chance--to work, to do their best--
  Free land, free hand--thy son must work or fall
  Grow strong or die!  That message shrieks the storm-wind's call!

  And so I love thee, great, free, rugged land
  Of cloudless summer days, with west-wind croon,
  And prairie flowers all dewy-diademed,
  And twilights long, with blood-red, low-hung moon
  And mountain peaks that glisten white each noon
  Through purple haze that veils the western sky--
  And well I know the meadow-lark's far rune
  As up and down he lilts and circles high
  And sings sheer joy--be strong, be free; be strong or die!


The question will at once occur why no mention is made of Marquette and
Jolliet and La Salle in a work on the pathfinders of the West.  The
simple answer is--they were _not_ pathfinders.  Contrary to the notions
imbibed at school, and repeated in all histories of the West,
Marquette, Jolliet, and La Salle did not discover the vast region
beyond the Great Lakes.  Twelve years before these explorers had
thought of visiting the land which the French hunter designated as the
_Pays d'en Haut_, the West had already been discovered by the most
intrepid _voyageurs_ that France produced,--men whose wide-ranging
explorations exceeded the achievements of Cartier and Champlain and La
Salle put together.

It naturally rouses resentment to find that names revered for more than
two centuries as the first explorers of the Great Northwest must give
place to a name almost unknown.  It seems impossible that at this late
date history should have to be rewritten.  Such is the fact _if we
would have our history true_.  Not Marquette, Jolliet, and La Salle
discovered the West, but two poor adventurers, who sacrificed all
earthly possessions to the enthusiasm for discovery, and incurred such
bitter hostility from the governments of France and England that their
names have been hounded to infamy.  These were Sieur Pierre Esprit
Radisson and Sieur Médard Chouart Groseillers, fur traders of Three
Rivers, Quebec. [1]

The explanation of the long oblivion obscuring the fame of these two
men is very simple.  Radisson and Groseillers defied, first New France,
then Old France, and lastly England.  While on friendly terms with the
church, they did not make their explorations subservient to the
propagation of the faith.  In consequence, they were ignored by both
Church and State.  The _Jesuit Relations_ repeatedly refer to two young
Frenchmen who went beyond Lake Michigan to a "Forked River" (the
Mississippi), among the Sioux and other Indian tribes that used coal
for fire because wood did not grow large enough on the prairie.
Contemporaneous documents mention the exploits of the young Frenchmen.
The State Papers of the Marine Department, Paris, contain numerous
references to Radisson and Groseillers.  But, then, the _Jesuit
Relations_ were not accessible to scholars, let alone the general
public, until the middle of the last century, when a limited edition
was reprinted of the Cramoisy copies published at the time the priests
sent their letters home to France.  The contemporaneous writings of
Marie de l'Incarnation, the Abbé Belmont, and Dollier de Casson were
not known outside the circle of French savants until still later; and
it is only within recent years that the Archives of Paris have been
searched for historical data.  Meantime, the historians of France and
England, animated by the hostility of their respective governments,
either slurred over the discoveries of Radisson and Groseillers
entirely, or blackened their memories without the slightest regard to
truth.  It would, in fact, take a large volume to contradict and
disprove half the lies written of these two men.  Instead of consulting
contemporaneous documents,--which would have entailed both cost and
labor,--modern writers have, unfortunately, been satisfied to serve up
a rehash of the detractions written by the old historians.  In 1885
came a discovery that punished such slovenly methods by practically
wiping out the work of the pseudo-historians.  There was found in the
British Museum, the Bodleian Library, and Hudson's Bay House, London,
unmistakably authentic record of Radisson's voyages, written by
himself.  The Prince Society of Boston printed two hundred and fifty
copies of the collected Journals.  The Canadian Archives published the
journals of the two last voyages.  Francis Parkman was too
conscientious to ignore the importance of the find; but his history of
the West was already written.  He made what reparation he could to
Radisson's memory by appending a footnote to subsequent editions of two
of his books, stating that Radisson and Groseillers' travels took them
to the "Forked River" before 1660.  Some ten other lines are all that
Mr. Parkman relates of Radisson; and the data for these brief
references have evidently been drawn from Radisson's enemies, for the
explorer is called "a renegade."  It is necessary to state this,
because some writers, whose zeal for criticism was much greater than
their qualifications, wanted to know why any one should attempt to
write Radisson's life when Parkman had already done so.

Radisson's life reads more like a second Robinson Crusoe than sober
history.  For that reason I have put the corroborative evidence in
footnotes, rather than cumber the movement of the main theme.  I am
sorry to have loaded the opening parts with so many notes; but
Radisson's voyages change the relative positions of the other explorers
so radically that proofs must be given.  The footnotes are for the
student and may be omitted by the general reader.  The study of
Radisson arose from, using his later exploits on Hudson Bay as the
subject of the novel, _Heralds of Empire_.  On the publication of that
book, several letters came from the Western states asking how far I
thought Radisson had gone beyond Lake Superior before he went to Hudson
Bay.  Having in mind--I am sorry to say--mainly the early records of
Radisson's enemies, I at first answered that I thought it very
difficult to identify the discoverer's itinerary beyond the Great
Lakes.  So many letters continued to come on the subject that I began
to investigate contemporaneous documents.  The path followed by the
explorer west of the Great Lakes--as given by Radisson himself--is here
written.  Full corroboration of all that Radisson relates is to be
found--as already stated--in chronicles written at the period of his
life and in the State Papers.  Copies of these I have in my possession.
Samples of the papers bearing on Radisson's times, copied from the
Marine Archives, will be found in the Appendix.  One must either accept
the explorer's word as conclusive,--even when he relates his own
trickery,--or in rejecting his journal also reject as fictions the
_Jesuit Relations_, the _Marine Archives_, _Dollier de Casson_, _Marie
de l'Incarnation_, and the _Abbé Belmont_, which record the same events
as Radisson.  In no case has reliance been placed on second-hand
chronicles.  Oldmixon and Charlevoix must both have written from
hearsay; therefore, though quoted in the footnotes, they are not given
as conclusive proof.  The only means of identifying Radisson's routes
are (1) by his descriptions of the countries, (2) his notes of the
Indian tribes; so that personal knowledge of the territory is
absolutely essential in following Radisson's narrative.  All the
regions traversed by Radisson--the Ottawa, the St. Lawrence, the Great
Lakes, Labrador, and the Great Northwest--I have visited, some of them
many times, except the shores of Hudson Bay, and of that region I have
some hundreds of photographs.

Material for the accounts of the other pathfinders of the West has been
drawn directly from the different explorers' journals.

For historical matter I wish to express my indebtedness to Dr. N. E.
Dionne of the Parliamentary Library, Quebec, whose splendid sketch of
Radisson and Groseillers, read before the Royal Society of Canada, does
much to redeem the memory of the discoverers from ignominy; to Dr.
George Bryce of Winnipeg, whose investigation of Hudson's Bay Archives
adds a new chapter to Radisson's life; to Mr. Benjamin Sulte of Ottawa,
whose destructive criticism of inaccuracies in old and modern records
has done so much to stop people writing history out of their heads and
to put research on an honest basis; and to M. Edouard Richard for
scholarly advice relating to the Marine Archives, which he has
exploited so thoroughly.  For transcripts and archives now out of
print, thanks are due Mr. L. P. Sylvain of the Parliamentary Library,
Ottawa, the officials of the Archives Department, Ottawa, Mr. F. C.
Wurtele of Quebec, Professor Andrew Baird of Winnipeg, Mr. Alfred
Matthews of the Prince Society, Boston, the Hon. Jacob V. Brower and
Mr. Warren Upham of St. Paul.  Mr. Lawrence J. Burpee of Ottawa was so
good as to give me a reading of his exhaustive notes on La Vérendrye
and of data found on the Radisson family.  To Mrs. Fred Paget of
Ottawa, the daughter of a Hudson's Bay Company officer, and to Mr. and
Mrs. C. C. Farr of the Northern Ottawa, I am indebted for interesting
facts on life in the fur posts.  Miss Talbot of Winnipeg obtained from
retired officers of the Hudson's Bay Company a most complete set of
photographs relating to the fur trade.  To her and to those officers
who loaned old heirlooms to be photographed, I beg to express my
cordial appreciation.  And the thanks of all who write on the North are
permanently due Mr. C. C. Chipman, Chief Commissioner of the Hudson's
Bay Company, for unfailing courtesy in extending information.



[1] I of course refer to the West as beyond the Great Lakes; for
Nicotet, in 1634, and two nameless Frenchmen--servants of Jean de
Lauzon--in 1654, had been beyond the Sault.

Just as this volume was going to the printer, I received a copy of the
very valuable Minnesota _Memoir_, Vol. VI, compiled by the Hon. J. V.
Brower of St. Paul, to whom my thanks are due for this excellent
contribution to Western annals.  It may be said that the authors of
this volume have done more than any other writers to vindicate Radisson
and Groseillers as explorers of the West.  The very differences of
opinion over the regions visited establish the fact that Radisson _did_
explore parts of Minnesota.  I have purposely avoided trying to say
_what_ parts of Minnesota he exploited, because, it seems to me, the
controversy is futile.  Radisson's memory has been the subject of
controversy from the time of his life.  The controversy--first between
the governments of France and England, subsequently between the French
and English historians--has eclipsed the real achievements of Radisson.
To me it seems non-essential as to whether Radisson camped on an island
in the Mississippi, or only visited the region of that island.  The
fact remains that he discovered the Great Northwest, meaning by that
the region west of the Mississippi.  The same dispute has obscured his
explorations of Hudson Bay, French writers maintaining that he went
overland to the North and put his feet in the waters of the bay, the
English writers insisting that he only crossed over the watershed
toward Hudson Bay.  Again, the fact remains that he did what others had
failed to do--discovered an overland route to the bay.  I am sorry that
Radisson is accused in this _Memoir_ of intentionally falsifying his
relations in two respects, (1) in adding a fanciful year to the
1658-1660 voyage; (2) in saying that he had voyaged down the
Mississippi to Mexico.  (1) Internal evidence plainly shows that
Radisson's first four voyages were written twenty years afterward, when
he was in London, and not while on the voyage across the Atlantic with
Cartwright, the Boston commissioner.  It is the most natural thing in
the world that Radisson, who had so often been to the wilds, should
have mixed his dates.  Every slip as to dates is so easily checked by
contemporaneous records--which, themselves, need to be checked--that it
seems too bad to accuse Radisson of wilfully lying in the matter.  When
Radisson lied it was to avoid bloodshed, and not to exalt himself.  If
he had had glorification of self in mind, he would not have set down
his own faults so unblushingly; for instance, where he deceives M.
Colbert of Paris.  (2) Radisson does not try to give the impression
that he went to Mexico.  The sense of the context is that he met an
Indian tribe--Illinois, Mandans, Omahas, or some other--who lived next
to another tribe who told _of_ the Spaniards.  I feel almost sure that
the scholarly Mr. Benjamin Sulte is right in his letter to me when he
suggests that Radisson's manuscript has been mixed by transposition of
pages or paragraphs, rather than that Radisson himself was confused in
his account.  At the same time every one of the contributors to the
Minnesota _Memoir_ deserves the thanks of all who love _true_ history.


Since the above foreword was written, the contents of this volume have
appeared serially in four New York magazines.  The context of the book
was slightly abridged in these articles, so that a very vital
distinction--namely, the difference between what is given as in
dispute, and what is given as incontrovertible fact--was lost; but what
was my amusement to receive letters from all parts of the West all but
challenging me to a duel.  One wants to know "how a reputable author
dare" suggest that Radisson's voyages be taken as authentic.  There is
no "dare" about it.  It is a fact.  For any "reputable" historian to
suggest--as two recently have--that Radisson's voyages are a
fabrication, is to stamp that historian as a pretender who has not
investigated a single record contemporaneous with Radisson's life.  One
cannot consult documents contemporaneous with his life and not learn
instantly that he was a very live fact of the most troublesome kind the
governments of France and England ever had to accept.  That is why it
impresses me as a presumption that is almost comical for any modern
writer to condescend to say that he "accepts" or "rejects" this or that
part of Radisson's record.  If he "rejects" Radisson, he also rejects
the _Marine Archives of Paris_, and the _Jesuit Relations_, which are
the recognized sources of our early history.

Another correspondent furiously denounces Radisson as a liar because he
mixes his dates of the 1660 trip.  It would be just as reasonable to
call La Salle a liar because there are discrepancies in the dates of
his exploits, as to call Radisson a liar for the slips in his dates.
When the mistakes can be checked from internal evidence, one is hardly
justified in charging falsification.

A third correspondent is troubled by the reference to the Mascoutin
Indians being _beyond_ the Mississippi.  State documents establish this
fact.  I am not responsible for it; and Radisson could not circle
west-northwest from the Mascoutins to the great encampments of the
Sioux without going far west of the Mississippi.  Even if the Jesuits
make a slip in referring to the Sioux's use of some kind of coal for
fire because there was no wood on the prairie, and really mean turf or
buffalo refuse,--which I have seen the Sioux use for fire,--the fact is
that only the tribes far west of the Mississippi habitually used such
substitutes for wood.

My Wisconsin correspondents I have offended by saying that Radisson
went beyond the Wisconsin; my Minnesota friends, by saying that he went
beyond Minnesota; and my Manitoba co-workers of past days, by
suggesting that he ever went beyond Manitoba.  The fact remains that
when we try to identify Radisson's voyages, we must take his own
account of his journeyings; and that account establishes him as the
Discoverer of the Northwest.

For those who know, I surely do not need to state that there is no
picture of Radisson extant, and that some of the studies of his life
are just as genuine (?) as alleged old prints of his likeness.







The Boy Radisson is captured by the Iroquois and carried to the Mohawk
Valley--In League with Another Captive, he slays their Guards and
escapes--He is overtaken in Sight of Home--Tortured and adopted in the
Tribe, he visits Orange, where the Dutch offer to ransom him--His Escape



Radisson returns to Quebec, where he joins the Jesuits to go to the
Iroquois Mission--He witnesses the Massacre of the Hurons among the
Thousand Islands--Besieged by the Iroquois, they pass the Winter as
Prisoners of War--Conspiracy to massacre the French foiled by Radisson



The Discovery of the Great Northwest--Radisson and his Brother-in-law,
Groseillers, visit what are now Wisconsin, Minnesota, Dakota, and the
Canadian Northwest--Radisson's Prophecy on first beholding the
West--Twelve Years before Marquette and Jolliet, Radisson sees the
Mississippi--The Terrible Remains of Dollard's Fight seen on the Way
down the Ottawa--Why Radisson's Explorations have been ignored



The Success of the Explorers arouses Envy--It becomes known that they
have heard of the Famous Sea of the North--When they ask Permission to
resume their Explorations, the French Governor refuses except on
Condition of receiving Half the Profits--In Defiance, the Explorers
steal off at Midnight--They return with a Fortune and are driven from
New France



Rival Traders thwart the Plans of the Discoverers--Entangled in
Lawsuits, the Two French Explorers go to England--The Organization of
the Hudson's Bay Fur Company--Radisson the Storm-centre of
International Intrigue--Boston Merchants in the Struggle to capture the
Fur Trade



Though opposed by the Monopolists of Quebec, he secures Ships for a
Voyage to Hudson Bay--Here he encounters a Pirate Ship from Boston and
an English Ship of the Hudson's Bay Company--How he plays his Cards to
win against Both Rivals



France refuses to restore the Confiscated Furs and Radisson tries to
redeem his Fortune--Reëngaged by England, he captures back Fort Nelson,
but comes to Want in his Old Age--His Character





M. de la Vérendrye continues the Exploration of the Great Northwest by
establishing a Chain of Fur Posts across the Continent--Privations of
the Explorers and the Massacre of Twenty Followers--His Sons visit the
Mandans and discover the Rockies--The Valley of the Saskatchewan is
next explored, but Jealousy thwarts the Explorer, and he dies in Poverty





The Adventures of Hearne in his Search for the Coppermine River and
Northwest Passage--Hilarious Life of Wassail led by Governor
Norton--The Massacre of the Eskimo by Hearne's Indians North of the
Arctic Circle--Discovery of the Athabasca Country--Hearne becomes
Resident Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, but is captured by the
French--Death of Norton and Suicide of Matonabbee





How Mackenzie found the Great River named after him and then pushed
across the Mountains to the Pacific, forever settling the Question of a
Northwest Passage



The First White Men to ascend the Missouri to its Sources and descend
the Columbia to the Pacific--Exciting Adventures on the Cañons of the
Missouri, the Discovery of the Great Falls and the Yellowstone--Lewis'
Escape from Hostiles




Stealing from the Fort by Night . . . . . . Frontispiece

Map of the Great Fur Country

Three Rivers in 1757

Map of the Iroquois Country in the Days of Radisson

Albany from an Old Print

The Battery, New York, in Radisson's Time

Fort Amsterdam, from an ancient engraving executed in Holland

One of the Earliest Maps of the Great Lakes

Paddling past Hostiles

Jogues, the Jesuit Missionary, who was tortured by the Mohawks

Château de Ramezay, Montreal

A Cree Brave, with the Wampum String

An Old-time Buffalo Hunt on the Plains among the Sioux

Father Marquette, from an old painting discovered in Montreal

Voyageurs running the Rapids of the Ottawa River

Montreal in 1760

Château St. Louis, Quebec, 1669

A Parley on the Plains

Martello Tower of Refuge in Time of Indian Wars--Three Rivers

Skin for Skin, Coat of Arms and Motto, Hudson's Bay Company

Hudson's Bay Company Coins, made of Lead melted from
  Tea-chests at York Factory

Hudson Bay Dog Trains laden with Furs arriving at Lower
  Fort Garry, Red River

Indians and Hunters spurring to the Fight

Fights at the Foothills of the Rockies, between Crows and Snakes

Each Man landed with Pack on his Back and trotted away over Portages

A Cree Indian of the Minnesota Borderlands

A Group of Cree Indians

The Soldiers marched out from Mount Royal for the Western Sea

Traders' Boats running the Rapids of the Athabasca River

The Ragged Sky-line of the Mountains

Hungry Hall, 1870

A Monarch of the Plains

Fur Traders towed down the Saskatchewan in the Summer of 1900

Tepees dotted the Valley

An Eskimo Belle

Samuel Hearne

Eskimo using Double-bladed Paddle

Eskimo Family, taken by Light of Midnight Sun

Fort Garry, Winnipeg, a Century Ago

Plan of Fort Prince of Wales, from Robson's drawing, 1733-1747

Fort Prince of Wales

Beaver Coin of the Hudson's Bay Company

Alexander Mackenzie

Eskimo trading his Pipe, carved from Walrus Tusk, for the
  Value of Three Beaver Skins

Quill and Beadwork on Buckskin

Fort William, Headquarters Northwest Company, Lake Superior

Running a Rapid on Mackenzie River

Slave Lake Indians

Good Hope, Mackenzie River, Hudson's Bay Company Fort

The Mouth of the Mackenzie by the Light of the Midnight Sun

Captain Meriwether Lewis

Captain William Clark

Tracking up Stream

Typical Mountain Trapper

The Discovery of the Great Falls

Fighting a Grizzly

Packer carrying Goods across Portage

Spying on Enemy's Fort

Indian Camp at Foothills of Rockies

On Guard

Indians of the Up-country or Pays d'en Haut




[Illustration: Map of the Great Fur Company.]

Pathfinders of the West




The Boy Radisson is captured by the Iroquois and carried to the Mohawk
Valley--In League with Another Captive, he slays their Guards and
escapes--He is overtaken in Sight of Home--Tortured and adopted in the
Tribe, he visits Orange, where the Dutch offer to ransom him--His Escape

Early one morning in the spring of 1652 three young men left the little
stockaded fort of Three Rivers, on the north bank of the St. Lawrence,
for a day's hunting in the marshes of Lake St. Peter.  On one side were
the forested hills, purple with the mists of rising vapor and still
streaked with white patches of snow where the dense woods shut out the
sunlight.  On the other lay the silver expanse of the St. Lawrence,
more like a lake than a river, with mile on mile southwestward of
rush-grown marshes, where plover and curlew and duck and wild geese
flocked to their favorite feeding-grounds three hundred years ago just
as they do to-day.  Northeastward, the three mouths of the St. Maurice
poured their spring flood into the St. Lawrence.

The hunters were very young.  Only hunters rash with the courage of
untried youth would have left the shelter of the fort walls when all
the world knew that the Iroquois had been lying in ambush round the
little settlement of Three Rivers day and night for the preceding year.
Not a week passed but some settler working on the outskirts of Three
Rivers was set upon and left dead in his fields by marauding Iroquois.
The tortures suffered by Jogues, the great Jesuit missionary who had
been captured by the Iroquois a few years before, were still fresh in
the memory of every man, woman, and child in New France.  It was from
Three Rivers that Piescaret, the famous Algonquin chief who could
outrun a deer, had set out against the Iroquois, turning his snowshoes
back to front, so that the track seemed to lead north when he was
really going south, and then, having thrown his pursuers off the trail,
coming back on his own footsteps, slipping up stealthily on the
Iroquois that were following the false scent, and tomahawking the
laggards.[1]  It was from Three Rivers that the Mohawks had captured
the Algonquin girl who escaped by slipping off the thongs that bound
her.  Stepping over the prostrate forms of her sleeping guards, such a
fury of revenge possessed her that she seized an axe and brained the
nearest sleeper, then eluded her pursuers by first hiding in a hollow
tree and afterward diving under the debris of a beaver dam.

[Illustration: Three Rivers in 1757.]

These things were known to every inhabitant of Three Rivers.  Farmers
had flocked into the little fort and could venture back to their fields
only when armed with a musket.[2]  Yet the three young hunters rashly
left the shelter of the fort walls and took the very dangerous path
that led between the forests and the water.  One of the young men was
barely in his seventeenth year.[3]  This was Pierre Esprit Radisson,
from St. Malo, the town of the famous Cartier.  Young Radisson had only
come to New France the year before, and therefore could not realize the
dangers of Indian warfare.  Like boys the world over, the three went
along, boasting how they would fight if the Indians came.  One skirted
the forest, on the watch for Iroquois, the others kept to the water, on
the lookout for game.  About a mile from Three Rivers they encountered
a herdsman who warned them to keep out from the foot of the hills.
Things that looked like a multitude of heads had risen out of the earth
back there, he said, pointing to the forests.  That set the young
hunters loading their pistols and priming muskets.  It must also have
chilled their zest; for, shooting some ducks, one of the young men
presently declared that he had had enough--he was going back.  With
that daring which was to prove both the lodestar and the curse of his
life, young Radisson laughed to scorn the sudden change of mind.
Thereupon the first hunter was joined by the second, and the two went
off in high dudgeon.  With a laugh, Pierre Radisson marched along
alone, foreshadowing his after life,--a type of every pathfinder facing
the dangers of the unknown with dauntless scorn, an immortal type of
the world-hero.

Shooting at every pace and hilarious over his luck, Radisson had
wandered some nine miles from the fort, when he came to a stream too
deep to ford and realized that he already had more game than he could
possibly carry.  Hiding in hollow trees what he could not bring back,
he began trudging toward Three Rivers with a string of geese, ducks,
and odd teal over his shoulders, Wading swollen brooks and scrambling
over windfalls, he retraced his way without pause till he caught sight
of the town chapel glimmering in the sunlight against the darkening
horizon above the river.  He was almost back where his comrades had
left him; so he sat down to rest.  The cowherd had driven his cattle
back to Three Rivers.[4]  The river came lapping through the rushes.
There was a clacking of wild-fowl flocking down to their marsh nests;
perhaps a crane flopped through the reeds; but Radisson, who had
laughed the nervous fears of the others to scorn, suddenly gave a start
at the lonely sounds of twilight.  Then he noticed that his pistols
were water-soaked.  Emptying the charges, he at once reloaded, and with
characteristic daring crept softly back to reconnoitre the woods.
Dodging from tree to tree, he peered up and down the river.  Great
flocks of ducks were swimming on the water.  That reassured him, for
the bird is more alert to alarm than man.  The fort was almost within
call.  Radisson determined to have a shot at such easy quarry; but as
he crept through the grass toward the game, he almost stumbled over
what rooted him to the spot with horror.  Just as they had fallen,
naked and scalped, with bullet and hatchet wounds all over their
bodies, lay his comrades of the morning, dead among the rushes.
Radisson was too far out to get back to the woods.  Stooping, he tried
to grope to the hiding of the rushes.  As he bent, half a hundred heads
rose from the grasses, peering which way he might go.  They were
behind, before, on all sides--his only hope was a dash for the
cane-grown river, where he might hide by diving and wading, till
darkness gave a chance for a rush to the fort.  Slipping bullet and
shot in his musket as he ran, and ramming down the paper, hoping
against hope that he had not been seen, he dashed through the
brushwood.  A score of guns crashed from the forest.[5]  Before he
realized the penalty that the Iroquois might exact for such an act, he
had fired back; but they were upon him.  He was thrown down and
disarmed.  When he came giddily to his senses, he found himself being
dragged back to the woods, where the Iroquois flaunted the fresh scalps
of his dead friends.  Half drawn, half driven, he was taken to the
shore.  Here, a flotilla of canoes lay concealed where he had been
hunting wild-fowl but a few hours before.  Fires were kindled, and the
crotched sticks driven in the ground to boil the kettle for the evening
meal.  The young Frenchman was searched, stripped, and tied round the
waist with a rope, the Indians yelling and howling like so many wolves
all the while till a pause was given their jubilation by the alarm of a
scout that the French and Algonquins were coming.  In a trice, the fire
was out and covered.  A score of young braves set off to reconnoitre.
Fifty remained at the boats; but if Radisson hoped for a rescue, he was
doomed to disappointment.  The warriors returned.  Seventy Iroquois
gathered round a second fire for the night.  The one predominating
passion of the savage nature is bravery.  Lying in ambush, they had
heard this French youth laugh at his comrades' fears.  In defiance of
danger, they had seen him go hunting alone.  After he had heard an
alarm, he had daringly come out to shoot at the ducks.  And, then, boy
as he was, when attacked he had instantly fired back at numerous enough
enemies to have intimidated a score of grown men.  There is not the
slightest doubt it was Radisson's bravery that now saved him from the
fate of his companions.

His clothes were returned.  While the evening meal was boiling, young
warriors dressed and combed the Frenchman's hair after the manner of
braves.  They daubed his cheeks with war-paint; and when they saw that
their rancid meats turned him faint, they boiled meat in clean water
and gave him meal browned on burning sand.[6]  He did not struggle to
escape, so he was now untied.  That night he slept between two warriors
under a common blanket, through which he counted the stars.  For fifty
years his home was to be under the stars.  It is typically Radisson
when he could add: "I slept a sound sleep; for they wakened me upon the
breaking of the day."  In the morning they embarked in thirty-seven
canoes, two Indians in each boat, with Radisson tied to the cross-bar
of one, the scalps lying at his feet.  Spreading out on the river, they
beat their paddles on the gunwales of the canoes, shot off guns, and
uttered the shrill war-cry--"Ah-oh!  Ah-oh!  Ah-oh!" [7]  Lest this
were not sufficient defiance to the penned-up fort on the river bank,
the chief stood up in his canoe, signalled silence, and gave three
shouts.  At once the whole company answered till the hills rang; and
out swung the fleet of canoes with more shouting and singing and firing
of guns, each paddle-stroke sounding the death knell to the young
Frenchman's hopes.

By sunset they were among the islands at the mouth of the Richelieu,
where muskrats scuttled through the rushes and wild-fowl clouded the
air.  The south shore of Lake St. Peter was heavily forested; the
north, shallow.  The lake was flooded with spring thaw, and the Mohawks
could scarcely find camping-ground among the islands.  The young
prisoner was deathly sick from the rank food that he had eaten and
heart-sick from the widening distance between himself and Three Rivers.
Still, they treated him kindly, saying, "Chagon!  Chagon!--Be merry!
Cheer up!"  The fourth day up the Richelieu, he was embarked without
being fastened to the cross-bar, and he was given a paddle.  Fresh to
the work, Radisson made a labor of his oar.  The Iroquois took the
paddle and taught him how to give the light, deft, feather strokes of
the Indian canoeman.  On the river they met another band of warriors,
and the prisoner was compelled to show himself a trophy of victory and
to sing songs for his captors.  That evening the united bands kindled
an enormous campfire and with the scalps of the dead flaunting from
spear heads danced the scalp dance, reënacting in pantomime all the
episodes of the massacre to the monotonous chant-chant, of a recitative
relating the foray.  At the next camping-ground, Radisson's hair was
shaved in front and decorated on top with the war-crest of a brave.
Having translated the white man into a savage, they brought him one of
the tin looking-glasses used by Indians to signal in the sun.  "I,
viewing myself all in a pickle," relates Radisson, "smeared with red
and black, covered with such a top, . . . could not but fall in love
with myself, if I had not had better instructions to shun the sin of

Radisson saw that apparent compliance with the Mohawks might win him a
chance to escape; so he was the first to arise in the morning, wakening
the others and urging them that it was time to break camp.  The stolid
Indians were not to be moved by an audacious white boy.  Watching the
young prisoner, the keepers lay still, feigning sleep.  Radisson rose.
They made no protest.  He wandered casually down to the water side.
One can guess that the half-closed eyelids of his guards opened a
trifle: was the mouse trying to get away from the cat?  To the Indians'
amusement, instead of trying to escape, Radisson picked up a spear and
practised tossing it, till a Mohawk became so interested that he jumped
up and taught the young Frenchman the proper throws.  That day the
Indians gave him the present of a hunting-knife.  North of Lake
Champlain, the river became so turbulent that they were forced to land
and make a _portage_.  Instead of lagging, as captives frequently did
from very fear as they approached nearer and nearer what was almost
certain to mean death-torture in the Iroquois villages--Radisson
hurried over the rocks, helping the older warriors to carry their
packs.  At night he was the first to cut wood for the camp fire.

About a week from the time they had left Lake St. Peter, they entered
Lake Champlain.  On the shores of the former had been enacted the most
hideous of all Indian customs--the scalp dance.  On the shores of the
latter was performed one of the most redeeming rites of Indian warfare.
Round a small pool of water a coppice of branches was interlaced.  Into
the water were thrown hot stones till the enclosure was steaming.  Here
each warrior took a sweat-bath of purification to prepare for reunion
with his family.  Invoking the spirits as they bathed, the warriors
emerged washed--as they thought--of all blood-guilt.[8]

[Illustration: Map of the Iroquois country in the days of Radisson.]

In the night shots sounded through the heavy silence of the forest, and
the Mohawks embarked in alarm, compelling their white prisoner to lie
flat in the bottom of the canoe.  In the morning when he awakened, he
found the entire band hidden among the rushes of the lake.  They spent
several days on Lake Champlain, then glided past wooded mountains down
a calm river to Lake George, where canoes were abandoned and the
warriors struck westward through dense forests to the country of the
Iroquois.  Two days from the lake slave women met the returning braves,
and in Radisson's words, "loaded themselves like mules with baggage."
On this woodland march Radisson won golden opinions for himself by two
acts: struck by an insolent young brave, he thrashed the culprit
soundly; seeing an old man staggering under too heavy a load, the white
youth took the burden on his own shoulders.

The return of the warriors to their villages was always celebrated as a
triumph.  The tribe marched out to meet them, singing, firing guns,
shouting a welcome, dancing as the Israelites danced of old when
victors returned from battle.  Men, women, and children lined up on
each side armed with clubs and whips to scourge the captives.  Well for
Radisson that he had won the warriors' favor; for when the time came
for him to run the gantlet of Iroquois _diableries_, instead of being
slowly led, with trussed arms and shackled feet, he was stripped free
and signalled to run so fast that his tormentors could not hit him.
Shrieks of laughter from the women, shouts of applause from the men,
always greeted the racer who reached the end of the line unscathed.  A
captive Huron woman, who had been adopted by the tribe, caught the
white boy as he dashed free of a single blow clear through the lines of
tormentors.  Leading him to her cabin, she fed and clothed him.
Presently a band of braves marched up, demanded the surrender of
Radisson, and took him to the Council Lodge of the Iroquois for

Old men sat solemnly round a central fire, smoking their calumets in
silence.  Radisson was ordered to sit down.  A coal of fire was put in
the bowl of the great Council Pipe and passed reverently round the
assemblage.  Then the old Huron woman entered, gesticulating and
pleading for the youth's life.  The men smoked on silently with deep,
guttural "ho-ho's," meaning "yes, yes, we are pleased."  The woman was
granted permission to adopt Radisson as a son.  Radisson had won his
end.  Diplomacy and courage had saved his life.  It now remained to
await an opportunity for escape.

Radisson bent all his energies to become a great hunter.  He was given
firearms, and daily hunted with the family of his adoption.  It so
happened that the family had lost a son in the wars, whose name had
signified the same as Radisson's--that is, "a stone"; so the Pierre of
Three Rivers became the Orimha of the Mohawks.  The Iroquois husband of
the woman who had befriended him gave such a feast to the Mohawk braves
as befitted the prestige of a warrior who had slain nineteen enemies
with his own hand.  Three hundred young Mohawks sat down to a collation
of moose nose and beaver tails and bears' paws, served by slaves.  To
this banquet Radisson was led, decked out in colored blankets with
garnished leggings and such a wealth of wampum strings hanging from
wrists, neck, hair, and waist that he could scarcely walk.  Wampum
means more to the Indian than money to the white man.  It represents
not only wealth but social standing, and its value may be compared to
the white man's estimate of pink pearls.  Diamond-cutters seldom spend
more than two weeks in polishing a good stone.  An Indian would spend
thirty days in perfecting a single bit of shell into fine wampum.
Radisson's friends had ornamented him for the feast in order to win the
respect of the Mohawks for the French boy.  Striking his hatchet
through a kettle of sagamite to signify thus would he break peace to
all Radisson's foes, the old Iroquois warrior made a speech to the
assembled guests.  The guests clapped their hands and shouted, "Chagon,
Orimha!--Be merry, Pierre!"  The Frenchman had been formally adopted as
a Mohawk.

The forests were now painted in all the glories of autumn.  All the
creatures of the woodlands shook off the drowsy laziness of summer and
came down from the uplands seeking haunts for winter retreat.  Moose
and deer were on the move.  Beaver came splashing down-stream to
plaster up their wattled homes before frost.  Bear and lynx and marten,
all were restless as the autumn winds instinct with coming storm.  This
is the season when the Indian sets out to hunt and fight.  Furnished
with clothing, food, and firearms, Radisson left the Mohawk Valley with
three hunters.  By the middle of August, the rind of the birch is in
perfect condition for peeling.  The first thing the hunters did was to
slit off the bark of a thick-girthed birch and with cedar linings make
themselves a skiff.  Then they prepared to lay up a store of meat for
the winter's war-raids.  Before ice forms a skim across the still
pools, nibbled chips betray where a beaver colony is at work; so the
hunters began setting beaver traps.  One night as they were returning
to their wigwam, there came through the leafy darkness the weird sound
of a man singing.  It was a solitary Algonquin captive, who called out
that he had been on the track of a bear since daybreak.  He probably
belonged to some well-known Iroquois, for he was welcomed to the
camp-fire.  The sight of a face from Three Rivers roused the
Algonquin's memories of his northern home.  In the noise of the
crackling fire, he succeeded in telling Radisson, without being
overheard by the Iroquois, that he had been a captive for two years and
longed to escape.

"Do you love the French?" the Algonquin asked Radisson.

"Do you love the Algonquin?" returned Radisson, knowing they were

"As I do my own nation."  Then leaning across to Radisson,
"Brother--white man!--Let us escape!  The Three Rivers--it is not far
off!  Will you live like a Huron in bondage, or have your liberty with
the French?"  Then, lowering his voice, "Let us kill all three this
night when they are asleep!"

From such a way of escape, the French youth held back.  The Algonquin
continued to urge him.  By this time, Radisson must have heard from
returning Iroquois warriors that they had slain the governor of Three
Rivers, Duplessis-Kerbodot, and eleven other Frenchmen, among whom was
the husband of Radisson's eldest sister, Marguerite.[9]

While Radisson was still hesitating, the suspicious Iroquois demanded
what so much whispering was about; but the alert Algonquin promptly
quieted their fears by trumping up some hunting story.  Wearied from
their day's hunt, the three Mohawks slept heavily round the camp-fire.
They had not the least suspicion of danger, for they had stacked their
arms carelessly against the trees of the forest.  Terrified lest the
Algonquin should attempt to carry out his threat, Radisson pretended to
be asleep.  Rising noiselessly, the Algonquin sat down by the fire.
The Mohawks slept on.  The Algonquin gave Radisson a push.  The French
boy looked up to see the Algonquin studying the postures of the
sleeping forms.  The dying fire glimmered like a blotch of blood under
the trees.  Stepping stealthy as a cat over the sleeping men, the
Indian took possession of their firearms.  Drawn by a kind of horror,
Radisson had risen.  The Algonquin thrust one of the tomahawks into the
French lad's hands and pointed without a word at the three sleeping
Mohawks.  Then the Indian began the black work.  The Mohawk nearest the
fire never knew that he had been struck, and died without a sound.
Radisson tried to imitate the relentless Algonquin, but, unnerved with
horror, he bungled the blow and lost hold of the hatchet just as it
struck the Mohawk's head.  The Iroquois sprang up with a shout that
awakened the third man, but the Algonquin was ready.  Radisson's blow
proved fatal.  The victim reeled back dead, and the third man was
already despatched by the Algonquin.

Radisson was free.  It was a black deed that freed him, but not half so
black as the deeds perpetrated in civilized wars for less cause; and
for that deed Radisson was to pay swift retribution.

Taking the scalps as trophies to attest his word, the Algonquin threw
the bodies into the river.  He seized all the belongings of the dead
men but one gun and then launched out with Radisson on the river.  The
French youth was conscience-stricken.  "I was sorry to have been in
such an encounter," he writes, "but it was too late to repent."  Under
cover of the night mist and shore foliage, they slipped away with the
current.  At first dawn streak, while the mist still hid them, they
landed, carried their canoe to a sequestered spot in the dense forest,
and lay hidden under the upturned skiff all that day, tormented by
swarms of mosquitoes and flies, but not daring to move from
concealment.  At nightfall, they again launched down-stream, keeping
always in the shadows of the shore till mist and darkness shrouded
them, then sheering off for mid-current, where they paddled for dear
life.  Where camp-fires glimmered on the banks, they glided past with
motionless paddles.  Across Lake Champlain, across the Richelieu, over
long _portages_ where every shadow took the shape of an ambushed
Iroquois, for fourteen nights they travelled, when at last with many
windings and false alarms they swept out on the wide surface of Lake
St. Peter in the St. Lawrence.

Within a day's journey of Three Rivers, they were really in greater
danger than they had been in the forests of Lake Champlain.  Iroquois
had infested that part of the St. Lawrence for more than a year.  The
forest of the south shore, the rush-grown marshes, the wooded islands,
all afforded impenetrable hiding.  It was four in the morning when they
reached Lake St. Peter.  Concealing their canoe, they withdrew to the
woods, cooked their breakfast, covered the fire, and lay down to sleep.
In a couple of hours the Algonquin impatiently wakened Radisson and
urged him to cross the lake to the north shore on the Three Rivers
side.  Radisson warned the Indian that the Iroquois were ever lurking
about Three Rivers.  The Indian would not wait till sunset.  "Let us
go," he said.  "We are past fear.  Let us shake off the yoke of these
whelps that have killed so many French and black robes (priests). . . .
If you come not now that we are so near, I leave you, and will tell the
governor you were afraid to come."

Radisson's judgment was overruled by the impatient Indian.  They pushed
their skiff out from the rushes.  The water lay calm as a sea of
silver.  They paddled directly across to get into hiding on the north
shore.  Halfway across Radisson, who was at the bow, called out that he
saw shadows on the water ahead.  The Indian stood up and declared that
the shadow was the reflection of a flying bird.  Barely had they gone a
boat length when the shadows multiplied.  They were the reflections of
Iroquois ambushed among the rushes.  Heading the canoe back for the
south shore, they raced for their lives.  The Iroquois pursued in their
own boats.  About a mile from the shore, the strength of the fugitives
fagged.  Knowing that the Iroquois were gaining fast, Radisson threw
out the loathsome scalps that the Algonquin had persisted in carrying.
By that strange fatality which seems to follow crime, instead of
sinking, the hairy scalps floated on the surface of the water back to
the pursuing Iroquois.  Shouts of rage broke from the warriors.
Radisson's skiff was so near the south shore that he could see the
pebbled bottom of the lake; but the water was too deep to wade and too
clear for a dive, and there was no driftwood to afford hiding.  Then a
crash of musketry from the Iroquois knocked the bottom out of the
canoe.  The Algonquin fell dead with two bullet wounds in his head and
the canoe gradually filled, settled, and sank, with the young Frenchman
clinging to the cross-bar mute as stone.  Just as it disappeared under
water, Radisson was seized, and the dead Algonquin was thrown into the
Mohawk boats.

Radisson alone remained to pay the penalty of a double crime; and he
might well have prayed for the boat to sink.  The victors shouted their
triumph.  Hurrying ashore, they kindled a great fire.  They tore the
heart from the dead Algonquin, transfixed the head on a pike, and cast
the mutilated body into the flames for those cannibal rites in which
savages thought they gained courage by eating the flesh of their
enemies.  Radisson was rifled of clothes and arms, trussed at the
elbows, roped round the waist, and driven with blows back to the
canoes.  There were other captives among the Mohawks.  As the canoes
emerged from the islands, Radisson counted one hundred and fifty
Iroquois warriors, with two French captives, one white woman, and
seventeen Hurons.  Flaunting from the canoe prows were the scalps of
eleven Algonquins.  The victors fired off their muskets and shouted
defiance until the valley rang.  As the seventy-five canoes turned up
the Richelieu River for the country of the Iroquois, hope died in the
captive Hurons and there mingled with the chant of the Mohawks'
war-songs, the low monotonous dirge of the prisoners:--

  "If I die, I die valiant!
  I go without fear
  To that land where brave men
  Have gone long before me--
  If I die, I die valiant."

Twelve miles up the Richelieu, the Iroquois landed to camp.  The
prisoners were pegged out on the sand, elbows trussed to knees, each
captive tied to a post.  In this fashion they lay every night of
encampment, tortured by sand-flies that they were powerless to drive
off.  At the entrance to the Mohawk village, a yoke was fastened to the
captives' necks by placing pairs of saplings one on each side down the
line of prisoners.  By the rope round the waist of the foremost
prisoner, they were led slowly between the lines of tormentors.  The
captives were ordered to sing.  If one refused or showed fear, a Mohawk
struck off a finger with a hatchet, or tore the prisoners' nails out,
or thrust red-hot irons into the muscles of the bound arms.[10]  As
Radisson appeared, he was recognized with shouts of rage by the friends
of the murdered Mohawks.  Men, women, and children armed with rods and
skull-crackers--leather bags loaded with stones--rushed on the slowly
moving file of prisoners.

"They began to cry from both sides," says Radisson; "we marching one
after another, environed with people to witness that hideous sight,
which seriously may be called the image of Hell in this world."

The prisoners moved mournfully on.  The Hurons chanted their death
dirge.  The Mohawk women uttered screams of mockery.  Suddenly there
broke from the throng of onlookers the Iroquois family that had adopted
Radisson.  Pushing through the crew of torturers, the mother caught
Radisson by the hair, calling him by the name of her dead son, "Orimha!
Orimha!"  She cut the thongs that bound him to the poles, and wresting
him free shoved him to her husband, who led Radisson to their own lodge.

"Thou fool," cried the old chief, "thou wast my son!  Thou makest
thyself an enemy!  Thou lovest us not, though we saved thy life!
Wouldst kill me, too?"  Then, with a rough push to a mat on the ground,
"Chagon--now, be merry!  It's a merry business you've got into!  Give
him something to eat!"

Trembling with fear, young Radisson put as bold a face on as he could
and made a show of eating what the squaw placed before him.  He was
still relating his adventures when there came a roar of anger from the
Mohawks outside, who had discovered his absence from the line.  A
moment later the rabble broke into the lodge.  Jostling the friendly
chief aside, the Mohawk warriors carried Radisson back to the orgies of
the torture.  The prisoners had been taken out of the stocks and placed
on several scaffoldings.  One poor Frenchman fell to the ground bruised
and unable to rise.  The Iroquois tore the scalp from his head and
threw him into the fire.  That was Radisson's first glimpse of what was
in store for him.  Then he, too, stood on the scaffolding among the
other prisoners, who never ceased singing their death song.  In the
midst of these horrors--_diableries_, the Jesuits called them--as if
the very elements had been moved with pity, there burst over the
darkened forest a terrific hurricane of hail and rain.  This put out
the fires and drove all the tormentors away but a few impish children,
who stayed to pluck nails from the hands and feet of the captives and
shoot arrows with barbed points at the naked bodies.  Every iniquity
that cruelty could invent, these children practised on the captives.
Red-hot spears were brought from the lodge fires and thrust into the
prisoners.  The mutilated finger ends were ground between stones.
Thongs were twisted round wrists and ankles, by sticks put through a
loop, till flesh was cut to the bone.  As the rain ceased falling, a
woman, who was probably the wife of one of the murdered Mohawks,
brought her little boy to cut one of Radisson's fingers with a flint
stone.  The child was too young and ran away from the gruesome task.

Gathering darkness fell over the horrible spectacle.  The exhausted
captives, some in a delirium from pain, others unconscious, were led to
separate lodges, or dragged over the ground, and left tied for the
night.  The next morning all were returned to the scaffolds, but the
first day had glutted the Iroquois appetite for tortures.  The friendly
family was permitted to approach Radisson.  The mother brought him food
and told him that the Council Lodge had decided not to kill him for
that day--they wanted the young white warrior for their own ranks; but
even as the cheering hope was uttered, came a brave with a pipe of live
coals, in which he thrust and held Radisson's thumb.  No sooner had the
tormentor left than the woman bound up the burn and oiled Radisson's
wounds.  He suffered no abuse that day till night, when the soles of
both feet were burned.  The majority of the captives were flung into a
great bonfire.  On the third day of torture he almost lost his life.
First came a child to gnaw at his fingers.  Then a man appeared armed
for the ghastly work of mutilation.  Both these the Iroquois father of
Radisson sent away.  Once, when none of the friendly family happened to
be near, Radisson was seized and bound for burning, but by chance the
lighted faggot scorched his executioner.  A friendly hand slashed the
thongs that bound him, and he was drawn back to the scaffold.

Past caring whether he lived or died, and in too great agony from the
burns of his feet to realize where he was going, Radisson was conducted
to the Great Council.  Sixty old men sat on a circle of mats, smoking,
round the central fire.  Before them stood seven other captives.
Radisson only was still bound.  A gust of wind from the opening lodge
door cleared the smoke for an instant and there entered Radisson's
Indian father, clad in the regalia of a mighty chief.  Tomahawk and
calumet and medicine-bag were in his hands.  He took his place in the
circle of councillors.  Judgment was to be given on the remaining

After passing the Council Pipe from hand to hand in solemn silence, the
sachems prepared to give their views.  One arose, and offering the
smoke of incense to the four winds of heaven to invoke witness to the
justice of the trial, gave his opinion on the matter of life or death.
Each of the chiefs in succession spoke.  Without any warning whatever,
one chief rose and summarily tomahawked three of the captives.  That
had been the sentence.  The rest were driven, like sheep for the
shambles, to life-long slavery.

Radisson was left last.  His case was important.  He had sanctioned the
murder of three Mohawks.  Not for a moment since he was recaptured had
they dared to untie the hands of so dangerous a prisoner.  Amid deathly
silence, the Iroquois father stood up.  Flinging down medicine-bag, fur
robe, wampum belts, and tomahawk, he pointed to the nineteen scars upon
his side, each of which signified an enemy slain by his own hand.  Then
the old Mohawk broke into one of those impassioned rhapsodies of
eloquence which delighted the savage nature, calling back to each of
the warriors recollection of victories for the Iroquois.  His eyes took
fire from memory of heroic battle.  The councillors shook off their
imperturbable gravity and shouted "Ho, ho!"  Each man of them had a
memory of his part in those past glories.  And as they applauded, there
glided into the wigwam the mother, singing some battle-song of valor,
dancing and gesticulating round and round the lodge in dizzy,
serpentine circlings, that illustrated in pantomime those battles of
long ago.  Gliding ghostily from the camp-fire to the outer dark, she
suddenly stopped, stood erect, advanced a step, and with all her might
threw one belt of priceless wampum at the councillors' feet, one
necklace over the prisoner's head.

Before the applause could cease or the councillors' ardor cool, the
adopted brother sprang up, hatchet in hand, and sang of other
victories.  Then, with a delicacy of etiquette which white pleaders do
not always observe, father and son withdrew from the Council Lodge to
let the jury deliberate.  The old sachems were disturbed.  They had
been moved more than their wont.  Twenty withdrew to confer.  Dusk
gathered deeper and deeper over the forests of the Mohawk Valley.
Tawny faces came peering at the doors, waiting for the decision.
Outsiders tore the skins from the walls of the lodge that they, too,
might witness the memorable trial of the boy prisoner.  Sachem after
sachem rose and spoke.  Tobacco was sacrificed to the fire-god.  Would
the relatives of the dead Mohawks consider the wampum belts full
compensation?  Could the Iroquois suffer a youth to live who had joined
the murderers of the Mohawks?  Could the Mohawks afford to offend the
great Iroquois chief who was the French youth's friend?  As they
deliberated, the other councillors returned, accompanied by all the
members of Radisson's friendly family.  Again the father sang and
spoke.  This time when he finished, instead of sitting down, he caught
the necklace of wampum from Radisson's neck, threw it at the feet of
the oldest sachem, cut the captive's bonds, and, amid shouts of
applause, set the white youth free.

One of the incomprehensible things to civilization is how a white man
_can_ degenerate to savagery.  Young Radisson's life is an
illustration.  In the first transports of his freedom, with the Mohawk
women dancing and singing around him, the men shouting, he leaped up,
oblivious of pain; but when the flush of ecstasy had passed, he sank to
the mat of the Iroquois lodge, and he was unable to use his burned feet
for more than a month.  During this time the Iroquois dressed his
wounds, brought him the choice portions of the hunt, gave him clean
clothing purchased at Orange (Albany), and attended to his wants as if
he had been a prince.  No doubt the bright eyes of the swarthy young
French boy moved to pity the hearts of the Mohawk mothers, and his
courage had won him favor among the warriors.  He was treated like a
king.  The women waited upon him like slaves, and the men gave him
presents of firearms and ammunition--the Indian's most precious
possessions.  Between flattered vanity and indolence, other white men,
similarly treated, have lost their self-respect.  Beckworth, of the
Missouri, became to all intents and purposes a savage; and Bird, of the
Blackfeet, degenerated lower than the Indians.  Other Frenchmen
captured from the St. Lawrence, and white women taken from the New
England colonies, became so enamored of savage life that they refused
to leave the Indian lodges when peace had liberated them.  Not so
Radisson.  Though only seventeen, flattered vanity never caused him to
forget the gratitude he owed the Mohawk family.  Though he relates his
life with a frankness that leaves nothing untold, he never at any time
returned treachery for kindness.  The very chivalry of the French
nature endangered him all the more.  Would he forget his manhood, his
birthright of a superior race, his inheritance of nobility from a
family that stood foremost among the _noblesse_ of New France?

[Illustration: Albany, from an Old Print.]

The spring of 1653 came with unloosening of the rivers and stirring of
the forest sap and fret of the warrior blood.  Radisson's Iroquois
father held great feasts in which he heaved up the hatchet to break the
kettle of sagamite against all enemies.  Would Radisson go on the
war-path with the braves, or stay at home with the women and so lose
the respect of the tribe?  In the hope of coming again within reach of
Three Rivers, he offered to join the Iroquois in their wars.  The
Mohawks were delighted with his spirit, but they feared to lose their
young warrior.  Accepting his offer, they refused to let him accompany
them to Quebec, but assigned him to a band of young braves, who were to
raid the border-lands between the Huron country of the Upper Lakes and
the St. Lawrence.  This was not what Radisson wanted, but he could not
draw back.  There followed months of wild wanderings round the regions
of Niagara.  The band of young braves passed dangerous places with
great precipices and a waterfall, where the river was a mile wide and
unfrozen.  Radisson was constrained to witness many acts against the
Eries, which must have one of two effects on white blood,--either turn
the white man into a complete savage, or disgust him utterly with
savage life.  Leaving the Mohawk village amid a blare of guns and
shouts, the young braves on their maiden venture passed successively
through the lodges of Oneidas, Onondagas, Senecas, and Cayugas, where
they were feasted almost to death by the Iroquois Confederacy.[11]
Then they marched to the vast wilderness of snow-padded forests and
heaped windfall between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.

Snow still lay in great drifts under the shadow of hemlock and spruce;
and the braves skimmed forward winged with the noiseless speed of
snow-shoes.  When the snow became too soft from thaw for snow-shoes,
they paused to build themselves a skiff.  It was too early to peel the
bark off the birch, so they made themselves a dugout of the walnut
tree.  The wind changed from north to south, clearing the lakes of ice
and filling the air with the earthy smells of up-bursting growth.
"There was such a thawing," writes Radisson, "ye little brookes flowed
like rivers, which made us embark to wander over that sweet sea."
Lounging in their skiff all day, carried from shore to shore with the
waves, and sleeping round camp-fires on the sand each night, the young
braves luxuriated in all the delights of sunny idleness and spring
life.  But this was not war.  It was play, and play of the sort that
weans the white man from civilization to savagery.

One day a scout, who had climbed to the top of a tree, espied two
strange squaws.  They were of a hostile tribe.  The Mohawk bloodthirst
was up as a wolf's at the sight of lambs.  In vain Radisson tried to
save the women by warning the Iroquois that if there were women, there
must be men, too, who would exact vengeance for the squaws' death.  The
young braves only laid their plans the more carefully for his warning
and massacred the entire encampment.  Prisoners were taken, but when
food became scarce they were brutally knocked on the head.  These
tribes had never heard guns before, and at the sound of shots fled as
from diabolical enemies.  It was an easy matter for the young braves in
the course of a few weeks to take a score of scalps and a dozen
prisoners.  At one place more than two hundred beaver were trapped.  At
the end of the raid, the booty was equally divided.  Radisson asked
that the woman prisoner be given to him; and he saved her from torture
and death on the return to the Mohawks by presenting her as a slave to
his Indian mother.  All his other share of booty he gave to the
friendly family.  The raid was over.  He had failed of his main object
in joining it.  He had not escaped.  But he had made one important
gain.  His valor had reëstablished the confidence of the Indians so
that when they went on a free-booting expedition against the whites of
the Dutch settlements at Orange (Albany), Radisson was taken with them.
Orange, or Albany, consisted at that time of some fifty thatched
log-houses surrounded by a settlement of perhaps a hundred and fifty
farmers.  This raid was bloodless.  The warriors looted the farmers'
cabins, emptied their cupboards, and drank their beer cellars dry to
the last drop.  Once more Radisson kept his head.  While the braves
entered Fort Orange roaring drunk, Radisson was alert and sober.  A
drunk Indian falls an easy prey in the bartering of pelts.  The
Iroquois wanted guns.  The Dutch wanted pelts.  The whites treated the
savages like kings; and the Mohawks marched from house to house
feasting of the best.  Radisson was dressed in garnished buckskin and
had been painted like a Mohawk.  Suspecting some design to escape, his
Iroquois friends never left him.  The young Frenchman now saw white men
for the first time in almost two years; but the speech that he heard
was in a strange tongue.  As Radisson went into the fort, he noticed a
soldier among the Dutch.  At the same instant the soldier recognized
him as a Frenchman, and oblivious of the Mohawks' presence blurted out
his discovery in Iroquois dialect, vowing that for all the paint and
grease, this youth was a white man below.  The fellow's blundering
might have cost Radisson's life; but the youth had not been a captive
among crafty Mohawks for nothing.  Radisson feigned surprise at the
accusation.  That quieted the Mohawk suspicions and they were presently
deep in the beer pots of the Dutch.  Again the soldier spoke, this time
in French.  It was the first time that Radisson had heard his native
tongue for months.  He answered in French.  At that the soldier emitted
shouts of delight, for he, too, was French, and these strangers in an
alien land threw their arms about each other like a pair of long-lost
brothers with exclamations of joy too great for words.

[Illustration: The Battery, New York, in Radisson's Time.]

From that moment Radisson became the lion of Fort Orange.  The women
dragged him to their houses and forced more dainties on him than he
could eat.  He was conducted from house to house in triumph, to the
amazed delight of the Indians.  The Dutch offered to ransom him at any
price; but that would have exposed the Dutch settlement to the
resentment of the Mohawks and placed Radisson under heavy obligation to
people who were the enemies of New France.  Besides, his honor was
pledged to return to his Indian parents; and it was a long way home to
have to sail to Europe and back again to Quebec.  Perhaps, too, there
was deep in his heart what he did not realize--a rooted love for the
wilds that was to follow him all through life.  By the devious course
of captivity, he had tasted of a new freedom and could not give it up.
He declined the offer of the Dutch.  In two days he was back among the
Mohawks ten times more a hero than he had ever been.  Mother and
sisters were his slaves.

But between love of the wilds and love of barbarism is a wide
difference.  He had not been back for two weeks when that glimpse of
crude civilization at Orange recalled torturing memories of the French
home in Three Rivers.  The filthy food, the smoky lodges, the cruelties
of the Mohawks, filled him with loathing.  The nature of the white man,
which had been hidden under the grease and paint of the savage--and in
danger of total eclipse--now came upper-most.  With Radisson, to think
was to act.  He determined to escape if it cost him his life.

Taking only a hatchet as if he were going to cut wood, Radisson left
the Indian lodge early one morning in the fall of 1653.  Once out of
sight from the village, he broke into a run, following the trail
through the dense forests of the Mohawk Valley toward Fort Orange.  On
and on he ran, all that day, without pause to rest or eat, without
backward glance, with eye ever piercing through the long leafy vistas
of the forest on the watch for the fresh-chipped bark of the trees that
guided his course, or the narrow indurated path over the spongy mould
worn by running warriors.  And when night filled the forest with the
hoot of owl, and the far, weird cries of wild creatures on the rove,
there sped through the aisled columns of star light and shadow, the
ghostly figure of the French boy slim, and lithe as a willow, with
muscles tense as ironwood, and step silent as the mountain-cat.  All
that night he ran without a single stop.  Chill daybreak found him
still staggering on, over rocks slippery with the night frost, over
windfall tree on tree in a barricade, through brawling mountain brooks
where his moccasins broke the skim of ice at the edge, past rivers
where he half waded, half swam.  He was now faint from want of food;
but fear spurred him on.  The morning air was so cold that he found it
better to run than rest.  By four of the afternoon he came to a
clearing in the forest, where was the cabin of a settler.  A man was
chopping wood.  Radisson ascertained that there were no Iroquois in the
cabin, and, hiding in it, persuaded the settler to carry a message to
Fort Orange, two miles farther on.  While he waited Indians passed the
cabin, singing and shouting.  The settler's wife concealed him behind
sacks of wheat and put out all lights.  Within an hour came a rescue
party from Orange, who conducted him safely to the fort.  For three
days Radisson hid in Orange, while the Mohawks wandered through the
fort, calling him by name.

Gifts of money from the Jesuit, Poncet, and from a Dutch merchant,
enabled Radisson to take ship from Orange to New York, and from New
York to Europe.

[Illustration: Fort Amsterdam, from an ancient engraving executed in
Holland.  This view of Fort Amsterdam on the Manhattan is copied from
an ancient engraving executed in Holland.  The fort was erected in 1623
but finished upon the above model by Governor Van Twiller in 1635.]

Père Poncet had been captured by the Mohawks the preceding summer, but
had escaped to Orange.[12]  Embarking on a small sloop, Radisson sailed
down the Hudson to New York, which then consisted of some five hundred
houses, with stores, barracks, a stone church, and a dilapidated fort.
Central Park was a forest; goats and cows pastured on what is now Wall
Street; and to east and west was a howling wilderness of marsh and
woods.  After a stay of three weeks, Radisson embarked for Amsterdam,
which he reached in January, 1654.

[1] Benjamin Sulte in _Chronique Trifluvienne_.

[2] It was in August of this same year, 1652, that the governor of
Three Rivers was slain by the Iroquois.  Parkman gives this date, 1653,
Garneau, 1651, L'Abbé Tanguay, 1651; Dollier de Casson, 1651, Belmont,
1653.  Sulte gives the name of the governor Duplessis-Kerbodot, not
Bochart, as given in Parkman.

[3] Dr. Bryce has unearthed the fact that in a petition to the House of
Commons, 1698, Radisson sets down his age as sixty-two.  This gives the
year of his birth as 1636.  On the other hand, Sulte has record of a
Pierre Radisson registered at Quebec in 1681, aged fifty-one, which
would make him slightly older, if it is the same Radisson.  Mr. Sulte's
explanation is as follows: Sébastien Hayet of St. Malo married Madeline
Hénault.  Their daughter Marguerite married Chouart, known as
Groseillers.  Madeline Hénault then married Pierre Esprit Radisson of
Paris, whose children were Pierre, our hero, and two daughters.

[4] A despatch from M. Talon in 1666 shows there were 461 families in
Three Rivers.  State papers from the Minister to M. Frontenac in 1674
show there were only 6705 French in all the colony.  Averaging five a
family, there must have been 2000 people at Three Rivers.  Fear of the
Iroquois must have driven the country people inside the fort, so that
the population enrolled was larger than the real population of Three
Rivers.  Sulte gives the normal population of Three Rivers in 1654 as
38 married couples, 13 bachelors, 38 boys, 26 girls--in all not 200.

[5] At first flush, this seems a slip in _Radisson's Relation_.  Where
did the Mohawks get their guns?  _New York Colonial Documents_ show
that between 1640 and 1650 the Dutch at Fort Orange had supplied the
Mohawks alone with four hundred guns.

[6] One of many instances of Radisson's accuracy in detail.  All tribes
have a trick of browning food on hot stones or sand that has been taken
from fire.  The Assiniboines gained their name from this practice: they
were the users of "boiling stones."

[7] I have asked both natives and old fur-traders what combination of
sounds in English most closely resembles the Indian war-cry, and they
have all given the words that I have quoted.  One daughter of a chief
factor, who went through a six weeks' siege by hostiles in her father's
fort, gave a still more graphic description.  She said: "you can
imagine the snarls of a pack of furiously vicious dogs saying 'ah-oh'
with a whoop, you have it; and you will not forget it!"

[8] This practice was a binding law on many tribes.  Catlin relates it
of the Mandans, and Hearne of the Chipewyans.  The latter considered it
a crime to kiss wives and children after a massacre without the bath of
purification.  Could one know where and when that universal custom of
washing blood-guilt arose, one mystery of existence would be unlocked.

[9] I have throughout followed Mr. Sulte's correction of the name of
this governor.  The mistake followed by Parkman, Tanguay, and
others--it seems--was first made in 1820, and has been faithfully
copied since.  Elsewhere will be found Mr. Sulte's complete elucidation
of the hopeless dark in which all writers have involved Radisson's

[10] If there were not corroborative testimony, one might suspect the
excited French lad of gross exaggeration in his account of Iroquois
tortures; but the Jesuits more than confirm the worst that Radisson
relates.  Bad as these torments were, they were equalled by the deeds
of white troops from civilized cities in the nineteenth century.  A
band of Montana scouts came on the body of a comrade horribly mutilated
by the Indians.  They caught the culprits a few days afterwards.
Though the government report has no account of what happened, traders
say the bodies of the guilty Indians were found skinned and scalped by
the white troops.

[11] Radisson puts the Senecas before the Cayugas, which is different
from the order given by the Jesuits.

[12] The fact that Radisson confessed his sins to this priest seems
pretty well to prove that Pierre was a Catholic and not a Protestant,
as has been so often stated.




Radisson returns to Quebec, where he joins the Jesuits to go to the
Iroquois Mission--He witnesses the Massacre of the Hurons among the
Thousand Islands--Besieged by the Iroquois, they pass the Winter as
Prisoners of War--Conspiracy to massacre the French foiled by Radisson.

From Amsterdam Radisson took ship to Rochelle.  Here he found himself a
stranger in his native land.  All his kin of whom there is any
record--Pierre Radisson, his father, Madeline Hénault, his mother,
Marguerite and Françoise, his elder and younger sisters, his uncle and
aunt, with their daughter, Elizabeth--were now living at Three Rivers
in New France.[1]  Embarking with the fishing fleet that yearly left
France for the Grand Banks, Radisson came early in the spring of 1654
to Isle Percée at the mouth of the St. Lawrence.  He was still a week's
journey from Three Rivers, but chance befriended him.  Algonquin canoes
were on the way up the river to war on the Iroquois.  Joining the
Indian canoes, he slipped past the hilly shores of the St. Lawrence and
in five days was between the main bank on the north side and the muddy
shallows of the Isle of Orleans.  Sheering out where the Montmorency
roars over a precipice in a shining cataract, the canoes glided across
St. Charles River among the forests of masts heaving to the tide below
the beetling heights of Cape Diamond, Quebec.

[Illustration: One of the earliest maps of the Great Lakes.]

It was May, 1651, when he had first seen the turrets and spires of
Quebec glittering on the hillside in the sun; it was May, 1652, that
the Iroquois had carried him off from Three Rivers; and it was May,
1654, when he came again to his own.  He was welcomed back as from the
dead.  Changes had taken place in the interval of his captivity.  A
truce had been arranged between the Iroquois and the French.  Now that
the Huron missions had been wiped out by Iroquois wars, the Jesuits
regarded the truce as a Divine provision for a mission among the
Iroquois.  The year that Radisson escaped from the Mohawks, Jesuit
priests had gone among them.  A still greater change that was to affect
his life more vitally had taken place in the Radisson family.  The year
that Radisson had been captured, the outraged people of Three Rivers
had seized a Mohawk chief and burned him to death.  In revenge, the
Mohawks murdered the governor of Three Rivers and a company of
Frenchmen.  Among the slain was the husband of Radisson's sister,
Marguerite.  When Radisson returned, he found that his widowed sister
had married Médard Chouart Groseillers, a famous fur trader of New
France, who had passed his youth as a lay helper to the Jesuit missions
of Lake Huron.[2]  Radisson was now doubly bound to the Jesuits by
gratitude and family ties.  Never did pagan heart hear an evangel more
gladly than the Mohawks heard the Jesuits.  The priests were welcomed
with acclaim, led to the Council Lodge, and presented with belts of
wampum.  Not a suspicion of foul play seems to have entered the
Jesuits' mind.  When the Iroquois proposed to incorporate into the
Confederacy the remnants of the Hurons, the Jesuits discerned nothing
in the plan but the most excellent means to convert pagan Iroquois by
Christian Hurons.  Having gained an inch, the Iroquois demanded the
proverbial ell.  They asked that a French settlement be made in the
Iroquois country.  The Indians wanted a supply of firearms to war
against all enemies; and with a French settlement miles away from help,
the Iroquois could wage what war they pleased against the Algonquins
without fear of reprisals from Quebec--the settlement of white men
among hostiles would be hostage of generous treatment from New France.
Of these designs, neither priests nor governor had the slightest
suspicion.  The Jesuits were thinking only of the Iroquois' soul; the
French, of peace with the Iroquois at any cost.

In 1656 Major Dupuis and fifty Frenchmen had established a French
colony among the Iroquois.[3]  The hardships of these pioneers form no
part of Radisson's life, and are, therefore, not set down here.  Peace
not bought by a victory is an unstable foundation for Indian treaty.
The Mohawks were jealous that their confederates, the Onondagas, had
obtained the French settlement.  In 1657, eighty Iroquois came to
Quebec to escort one hundred Huron refugees back to Onondaga for
adoption into the Confederacy.  These Hurons were Christians, and the
two Jesuits, Paul Ragueneau and François du Péron, were appointed to
accompany them to their new abode.  Twenty young Frenchmen joined the
party to seek their fortunes at the new settlement; but a man was
needed who could speak Iroquois.  Glad to repay his debt to the
Jesuits, young Radisson volunteered to go as a _donné_, that is, a lay
helper vowed to gratuitous services.

It was midsummer before all preparations had been made.  On July 26,
the party of two hundred, made up of twenty Frenchmen, eighty Iroquois,
and a hundred Hurons, filed out of the gates of Montreal, and winding
round the foot of the mountain followed a trail through the forest that
took them past the Lachine Rapids.  The Onondaga _voyageurs_ carried
the long birch canoes inverted on their shoulders, two Indians at each
end; and the other Iroquois trotted over the rocks with the Frenchmen's
baggage on their backs.  The day was hot, the _portage_ long and
slippery with dank moisture.  The Huron children fagged and fell
behind.  At nightfall, thirty of the haughty Iroquois lost patience,
and throwing down their bundles made off for Quebec with the avowed
purpose of raiding the Algonquins.  On the way, they paused to scalp
three Frenchmen at Montreal, cynically explaining that if the French
persisted in taking Algonquins into their arms, the white men need not
be surprised if the blow aimed at an Algonquin sometimes struck a
Frenchman.  That act opened the eyes of the French to the real meaning
of the peace made with the Iroquois; but the little colony was beyond
recall.  To insure the safety of the French among the Onondagas, the
French governor at Quebec seized a dozen Iroquois and kept them as
hostages of good conduct.

Meanwhile, all was confusion on Lake St. Louis, where the last band of
colonists had encamped.  The Iroquois had cast the Frenchmen's baggage
on the rocks and refused to carry it farther.  Leaving the whites all
embarrassed, the Onondagas hurriedly embarked the Hurons and paddled
quickly out of sight.  The act was too suddenly unanimous not to have
been premeditated.  Why had the Iroquois carried the Hurons away from
the Frenchmen?  Father Ragueneau at once suspected some sinister
purpose.  Taking only a single sack of flour for food, he called for
volunteers among the twenty Frenchmen to embark in a leaky, old canoe
and follow the treacherous Onondagas.  Young Radisson was one of the
first to offer himself.  Six others followed his example; and the seven
Frenchmen led by the priest struck across the lake, leaving the others
to gather up the scattered baggage.

The Onondagas were too deep to reveal their plots with seven armed
Frenchmen in pursuit.  The Indians permitted the French boats to come
up with the main band.  All camped together in the most friendly
fashion that night; but the next morning one Iroquois offered passage
in his canoe to one Frenchman, another Iroquois to another of the
whites, and by the third day, when they came to Lake St. Francis, the
old canoe had been abandoned.  The French were scattered promiscuously
among the Iroquois, with no two whites in one boat.  The Hurons were
quicker to read the signs of treachery than the French.  There were
rumors of one hundred Mohawks lying in ambush at the Thousand Islands
to massacre the coming Hurons.  On the morning of August 3 four Huron
warriors and two women seized a canoe, and to the great astonishment of
the encampment launched out before they could be stopped.  Heading the
canoe back for Montreal, they broke out in a war chant of defiance to
the Iroquois.

The Onondagas made no sign, but they evidently took council to delay no
longer.  Again, when they embarked, they allowed no two whites in one
canoe.  The boats spread out.  Nothing was said to indicate anything
unusual.  The lake lay like a silver mirror in the August sun.  The
water was so clear that the Indians frequently paused to spear fish
lying below on the stones.  At places the canoes skirted close to the
wood-fringed shore, and braves landed to shoot wild-fowl.  Radisson and
Ragueneau seemed simultaneously to have noticed the same thing.
Without any signal, at about four in the afternoon, the Onondagas
steered their canoes for a wooded island in the middle of the St.
Lawrence.  With Radisson were three Iroquois and a Huron.  As the canoe
grated shore, the bowman loaded his musket and sprang into the thicket.
Naturally, the Huron turned to gaze after the disappearing hunter.
Instantly, the Onondaga standing directly behind buried his hatchet in
the Huron's head.  The victim fell quivering across Radisson's feet and
was hacked to pieces by the other Iroquois.  Not far along the shore
from Radisson, the priest was landing.  He noticed an Iroquois chief
approach a Christian Huron girl.  If the Huron had not been a convert,
she might have saved her life by becoming one of the chief's many
slaves; but she had repulsed the Onondaga pagan.  As Ragueneau looked,
the girl fell dead with her skull split by the chief's war-axe.  The
Hurons on the lake now knew what awaited them; and a cry of terror
arose from the children.  Then a silence of numb horror settled over
the incoming canoes.  The women were driven ashore like lambs before
wolves; but the valiant Hurons would not die without striking one blow
at their inveterate and treacherous enemies.  They threw themselves
together back to back, prepared to fight.  For a moment this show of
resistance drove off the Iroquois.  Then the Onondaga chieftain rushed
forward, protesting that the two murders had been a personal quarrel.
Striking back his own warriors with a great show of sincerity, he bade
the Hurons run for refuge to the top of the hill.  No sooner had the
Hurons broken rank, than there rushed from the woods scores of
Iroquois, daubed in war-paint and shouting their war-cry.  This was the
hunt to which the young braves had dashed from the canoes to be in
readiness behind the thicket.  Before the scattered Hurons could get
together for defence, the Onondagas had closed around the hilltop in a
cordon.  The priest ran here, there, everywhere,--comforting the dying,
stopping mutilation, defending the women.  All the Hurons were
massacred but one man, and the bodies were thrown into the river.  With
blankets drawn over their heads that they might not see, the women
huddled together, dumb with terror.  When the Onondagas turned toward
the women, the Frenchmen stood with muskets levelled.  The Onondagas
halted, conferred, and drew off.

[Illustration: Paddling past Hostiles.]

The fight lasted for four hours.  Darkness and the valor of the little
French band saved the women for the time.  The Iroquois kindled a fire
and gathered to celebrate their victory.  Then the old priest took his
life in his hands.  Borrowing three belts of wampum, he left the
huddling group of Huron women and Frenchmen and marched boldly into the
circle of hostiles.  The lives of all the French and Hurons hung by a
thread.  Ragueneau had been the spiritual guide of the murdered tribe
for twenty years; and he was now sobbing like a child.  The Iroquois
regarded his grief with sardonic scorn; but they misjudged the manhood
below the old priest's tears.  Ragueneau asked leave to speak.  They
grunted permission.  Springing up, he broke into impassioned, fearless
reproaches of the Iroquois for their treachery.  Casting one belt of
wampum at the Onondaga chief's feet, the priest demanded pledges that
the massacre cease.  A second belt was given to register the Onondaga's
vow to conduct the women and children safely to the Iroquois country.
The third belt was for the safety of the French at Onondaga.

The Iroquois were astonished.  They had looked for womanish pleadings.
They had heard stern demands coupled with fearless threats of
punishment.  When Ragueneau sat down, the Onondaga chief bestirred
himself to counteract the priest's powerful impression.  Lounging to
his feet, the Onondaga impudently declared that the governor of Quebec
had instigated the massacre.  Ragueneau leaped up with a denial that
took the lie from the scoundrel's teeth.  The chief sat down abashed.
The Council grunted "Ho, ho!" accepting the wampum and promising all
that the Jesuit had asked.

Among the Thousand Islands, the French who had remained behind to
gather up the baggage again joined the Onondagas.  They brought with
them from the Isle of Massacres a poor Huron woman, whom they had found
lying insensible on a rock.  During the massacre she had hidden in a
hollow tree, where she remained for three days.  In this region,
Radisson almost lost his life by hoisting a blanket sail to his canoe.
The wind drifted the boat so far out that Radisson had to throw all
ballast overboard to keep from being swamped.  As they turned from the
St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario up the Oswego River for Onondaga, they
met other warriors of the Iroquois nation.  In spite of pledges to the
priest, the meeting was celebrated by torturing the Huron women to
entertain the newcomers.  Not the sufferings of the early Christians in
Rome exceeded the martyrdom of the Christian Hurons among the
Onondagas.  As her mother mounted the scaffold of tortures, a little
girl who had been educated by the Ursulines of Quebec broke out with
loud weeping.  The Huron mother turned calmly to the child:--

"Weep not my death, my little daughter!  We shall this day be in
heaven," said she; "God will pity us to all eternity.  The Iroquois
cannot rob us of that."

As the flames crept about her, her voice was heard chanting in the
crooning monotone of Indian death dirge: "Jesu--have pity on us!
Jesu--have pity on us!"  The next moment the child was thrown into the
flames, repeating the same words.

The Iroquois recognized Radisson.  He sent presents to his Mohawk
parents, who afterwards played an important part in saving the French
of Onondaga.  Having passed the falls, they came to the French fort
situated on the crest of a hill above a lake.  Two high towers
loopholed for musketry occupied the centre of the courtyard.  Double
walls, trenched between, ran round a space large enough to enable the
French to keep their cattle inside the fort.  The _voyageurs_ were
welcomed to Onondaga by Major Dupuis, fifty Frenchmen, and several

The pilgrims had scarcely settled at Onondaga before signs of the
dangers that were gathering became too plain for the blind zeal of the
Jesuits to ignore.  Cayugas, Onondagas, and Senecas, togged out in
war-gear, swarmed outside the palisades.  There was no more dissembling
of hunger for the Jesuits' evangel.  The warriors spoke no more soft
words, but spent their time feasting, chanting war-songs, heaving up
the war-hatchet against the kettle of sagamite--which meant the rupture
of peace.  Then came four hundred Mohawks, who not only shouted their
war-songs, but built their wigwams before the fort gates and
established themselves for the winter like a besieging army.  That the
intent of the entire Confederacy was hostile to Onondaga could not be
mistaken; but what was holding the Indians back?  Why did they delay
the massacre?  Then Huron slaves brought word to the besieged fort of
the twelve Iroquois hostages held at Quebec.  The fort understood what
stayed the Iroquois blow.  The Confederacy dared not attack the
isolated fort lest Quebec should take terrible vengeance on the

[Illustration: Jogues, the Jesuit missionary, who was tortured by the
Mohawks.  From a painting in Château de Ramezay, Montreal.]

The French decided to send messengers to Quebec for instructions before
closing navigation cut them off for the winter.  Thirteen men and one
Jesuit left the fort the first week of September.  Mohawk spies knew of
the departure and lay in ambush at each side of the narrow river to
intercept the party; but the messengers eluded the trap by striking
through the forests back from the river directly to the St. Lawrence.
Then the little fort closed its gates and awaited an answer from
Quebec.  Winter settled over the land, blocking the rivers with ice and
the forest trails with drifts of snow; but no messengers came back from
Quebec.  The Mohawks had missed the outgoing scouts: but they caught
the return coureurs and destroyed the letters.  Not a soul could leave
the fort but spies dogged his steps.  The Jesuits continued going from
lodge to lodge, and in this way Onondaga gained vague knowledge of the
plots outside the fort.  The French could venture out only at the risk
of their lives, and spent the winter as closely confined as prisoners
of war.  Of the ten drilled soldiers, nine threatened to desert.  One
night an unseen hand plunged through the dark, seized the sentry, and
dragged him from the gate.  The sentry drew his sword and shouted, "To
arms!"  A band of Frenchmen sallied from the gates with swords and
muskets.  In the tussle the sentry was rescued, and gifts were sent out
in the morning to pacify the wounded Mohawks.  Fortunately the besieged
had plenty of food inside the stockades; but the Iroquois knew there
could be no escape till the ice broke up in spring, and were quite
willing to exchange ample supplies of corn for tobacco and firearms.
The Huron slaves who carried the corn to the fort acted as spies among
the Mohawks for the French.

In the month of February the vague rumors of conspiracy crystallized
into terrible reality.  A dying Mohawk confessed to a Jesuit that the
Iroquois[4] Council had determined to massacre half the company of
French and to hold the other half till their own Mohawk hostages were
released from Quebec.  Among the hostiles encamped before the gates was
Radisson's Indian father.  This Mohawk was still an influential member
of the Great Council.  He, too, reported that the warriors were bent on
destroying Onondaga.[5]  What was to be done?  No answer had come from
Quebec, and no aid could come till the spring.  The rivers were still
blocked with ice; and there were not sufficient boats in the fort to
carry fifty men down to Quebec.  "What could we do?" writes Radisson.
"We were in their hands.  It was as hard to get away from them as for a
ship in full sea without a pilot."

They at once began constructing two large flat-bottomed boats of light
enough draft to run the rapids in the flood-tide of spring.  Carpenters
worked hidden in an attic; but when the timbers were mortised together,
the boats had to be brought downstairs, where one of the Huron slaves
caught a glimpse of them.  Boats of such a size he had never before
seen.  Each was capable of carrying fifteen passengers with full
complement of baggage.  Spring rains were falling in floods.  The
convert Huron had heard the Jesuits tell of Noah's ark in the deluge.
Returning to the Mohawks, he spread a terrifying report of an impending
flood and of strange arks of refuge built by the white men.  Emissaries
were appointed to visit the French fort; but the garrison had been
forewarned.  Radisson knew of the coming spies from his Indian father;
and the Jesuits had learned of the Council from their converts.  Before
the spies arrived, the French had built a floor over their flatboats,
and to cover the fresh floor had heaped up a dozen canoes.  The spies
left the fort satisfied that neither a deluge nor an escape was
impending.  Birch canoes would be crushed like egg-shells if they were
run through the ice jams of spring floods.  Certain that their victims
were trapped, the Iroquois were in no haste to assault a double-walled
fort, where musketry could mow them down as they rushed the hilltop.
The Indian is bravest under cover; so the Mohawks spread themselves in
ambush on each side of the narrow river and placed guards at the falls
where any boats must be _portaged_.

Of what good were the boats?  To allay suspicion of escape, the Jesuits
continued to visit the wigwams.[6]  The French were in despair.  They
consulted Radisson, who could go among the Mohawks as with a charmed
life, and who knew the customs of the Confederacy so well.  Radisson
proposed a way to outwit the savages.  With this plan the priests had
nothing to do.  To the harum-scarum Radisson belong the sole credit and
discredit of the escapade.  On his device hung the lives of fifty
innocent men.  These men must either escape or be massacred.  Of
bloodshed, Radisson had already seen too much; and the youth of
twenty-one now no more proposed to stickle over the means of victory
than generals who wear the Victoria cross stop to stickle over means

Radisson knew that the Indians had implicit faith in dreams; so
Radisson had a dream.[7]  He realized as critics of Indian customs fail
to understand that the fearful privations of savage life teach the
crime of waste.  The Indian will eat the last morsel of food set before
him if he dies for it.  He believes that the gods punish waste of food
by famine.  The belief is a religious principle and the
feasts--_festins à tout manger_--are a religious act; so Radisson
dreamed--whether sleeping or waking--that the white men were to give a
great festival to the Iroquois.  This dream he related to his Indian
father.  The Indian like his white brother can clothe a vice under
religious mantle.  The Iroquois were gluttonous on a religious
principle.  Radisson's dream was greeted with joy.  _Coureurs_ ran
through the forest, bidding the Mohawks to the feast.  Leaving ambush
of forest and waterfall, the warriors hastened to the walls of
Onondaga.  To whet their appetite, they were kept waiting outside for
two whole days.  The French took turns in entertaining the waiting
guests.  Boisterous games, songs, dances, and music kept the Iroquois
awake and hilarious to the evening of the second day.  Inside the fort
bedlam reigned.  Boats were dragged from floors to a sally-port at the
rear of the courtyard.  Here firearms, ammunition, food, and baggage
were placed in readiness.  Guns which could not be taken were burned or
broken.  Ammunition was scattered in the snow.  All the stock but one
solitary pig, a few chickens, and the dogs was sacrificed for the
feast, and in the barracks a score of men were laboring over enormous
kettles of meat.  Had an Indian spy climbed to the top of a tree and
looked over the palisades, all would have been discovered; but the
French entertainers outside kept their guests busy.

[Illustration: Château de Ramezay, Montreal, for years the residence of
the governor, and later the storehouse of the fur companies.]

On the evening of the second day a great fire was kindled in the outer
enclosure, between the two walls.  The trumpets blew a deafening blast.
The Mohawks answered with a shout.  The French clapped their hands.
The outer gates were thrown wide open, and in trooped several hundred
Mohawk warriors, seating themselves in a circle round the fire.
Another blare of trumpets, and twelve enormous kettles of mincemeat
were carried round the circle of guests.  A Mohawk chief rose solemnly
and gave his deities of earth, air, and fire profuse thanks for having
brought such generous people as the French among the Iroquois.  Other
chiefs arose and declaimed to their hearers that earth did not contain
such hosts as the French.  Before they had finished speaking there came
a second and a third and a fourth relay of kettles round the circle of
feasters.  Not one Iroquois dared to refuse the food heaped before him.
By the time the kettles of salted fowl and venison and bear had passed
round the circle, each Indian was glancing furtively sideways to see if
his neighbor could still eat.  He who was compelled to forsake the
feast first was to become the butt of the company.  All the while the
French kept up a din of drums and trumpets and flageolets, dancing and
singing and shouting to drive off sleep.  The eyes of the gorging
Indians began to roll.  Never had they attempted to demolish such a
banquet.  Some shook their heads and drew back.  Others fell over in
the dead sleep that results from long fasting and overfeeding and fresh
air.  Radisson was everywhere, urging the Iroquois to "Cheer up! cheer
up!  If sleep overcomes you, you must awake!  Beat the drum!  Blow the
trumpet!  Cheer up!  Cheer up!"

But the end of the repulsive scene was at hand.  By midnight the
Indians had--in the language of the white man--"gone under the
mahogany."  They lay sprawled on the ground in sodden sleep.  Perhaps,
too, something had been dropped in the fleshpots to make their sleep
the sounder.  Radisson does not say no, neither does the priest, and
they two were the only whites present who have written of the
episode.[8]  But the French would hardly have been human if they had
not assured their own safety by drugging the feasters.  It was a common
thing for the fur traders of a later period to prevent massacre and
quell riot by administering a quietus to Indians with a few drops of

The French now retired to the inner court.  The main gate was bolted
and chained.  Through the loophole of this gate ran a rope attached to
a bell that was used to summon the sentry.  To this rope the
mischievous Radisson tied the only remaining pig, so that when the
Indians would pull the rope for admission, the noise of the disturbed
pig would give the impression of a sentry's tramp-tramp on parade.
Stuffed effigies of soldiers were then stuck about the barracks.  If a
spy climbed up to look over the palisades, he would see Frenchmen still
in the fort.  While Radisson was busy with these precautions to delay
pursuit, the soldiers and priests, led by Major Dupuis, had broken open
the sally-port, forced the boats through sideways, and launched out on
the river.  Speaking in whispers, they stowed the baggage in the
flat-boats, then brought out skiffs--dugouts to withstand the ice
jam--for the rest of the company.  The night was raw and cold.  A skim
of ice had formed on the margins of the river.  Through the pitchy
darkness fell a sleet of rain and snow that washed out the footsteps of
the fugitives.  The current of mid-river ran a noisy mill-race of ice
and log drift; and the _voyageurs_ could not see one boat length ahead.

To men living in savagery come temptations that can neither be measured
nor judged by civilization.  To the French at Onondaga came such a
temptation now.  Their priests were busy launching the boats.  The
departing soldiers seemed simultaneously to have become conscious of a
very black suggestion.  Cooped up against the outer wall in the dead
sleep of torpid gluttony lay the leading warriors of the Iroquois
nation.  Were these not the assassins of countless Frenchmen, the
murderers of women, the torturers of children?  Had Providence not
placed the treacherous Iroquois in the hands of fifty Frenchmen?  If
these warriors were slain, it would be an easy matter to march to the
villages of the Confederacy, kill the old men, and take prisoners the
women.  New France would be forever free of her most deadly enemy.
Like the Indians, the white men were trying to justify a wrong under
pretence of good.  By chance, word of the conspiracy was carried to the
Jesuits.  With all the authority of the church, the priests forbade the
crime.  "Their answer was," relates Radisson, "that they were sent to
instruct in the faith of Jesus Christ and not to destroy, and that the
cross must be their sword."

Locking the sally-port, the company--as the Jesuit father
records--"shook the dust of Onondaga from their feet," launched out on
the swift-flowing, dark river and escaped "as the children of Israel
escaped by night from the land of Egypt."  They had not gone far
through the darkness before the roar of waters told them of a cataract
ahead.  They were four hours carrying baggage and boats over this
_portage_.  Sleet beat upon their backs.  The rocks were slippery with
glazed ice; and through the rotten, half-thawed snow, the men sank to
mid-waist.  Navigation became worse on Lake Ontario; for the wind
tossed the lake like a sea, and ice had whirled against the St.
Lawrence in a jam.  On the St. Lawrence, they had to wait for the
current to carry the ice out.  At places they cut a passage through the
honeycombed ice with their hatchets, and again they were compelled to
_portage_ over the ice.  The water was so high that the rapids were
safely ridden by all the boats but one, which was shipwrecked, and
three of the men were drowned.

They had left Onondaga on the 20th of March, 1658.  On the evening of
April 3d they came to Montreal, where they learned that New France had
all winter suffered intolerable insolence from the Iroquois, lest
punishment of the hostiles should endanger the French at Onondaga.  The
fleeing colonists waited twelve days at Montreal for the ice to clear,
and were again held back by a jam at Three Rivers; but on April 23 they
moored safely under the heights of Quebec.

_Coureurs_ from Onondaga brought word that the Mohawks had been
deceived by the pig and the ringing bell and the effigies for more than
a week.  Crowing came from the chicken yard, dogs bayed in their
kennels, and when a Mohawk pulled the bell at the gate, he could hear
the sentry's measured march.  At the end of seven days not a white man
had come from the fort.  At first the Mohawks had thought the "black
robes" were at prayers; but now suspicions of trickery flashed on the
Iroquois.  Warriors climbed the palisades and found the fort empty.
Two hundred Mohawks set out in pursuit; but the bad weather held them
back.  And that was the way Radisson saved Onondaga.[9]

[1] The uncle, Pierre Esprit Radisson, is the one with whom careless
writers have confused the young hero, owing to identity of name.
Madeline Hénault has been described as the explorer's first wife,
notwithstanding genealogical impossibilities which make the explorer's
daughter thirty-six years old before he was seventeen.  Even the
infallible Tanguay trips on Radisson's genealogy.  I have before me the
complete record of the family taken from the parish registers of Three
Rivers and Quebec, by the indefatigable Mr. Sulte, whose explanation of
the case is this: that Radisson's mother, Madeline Hénault, first
married Sébastien Hayet, of St. Malo, to whom was born Marguerite about
1630; that her second husband was Pierre Esprit Radisson of Paris, to
whom were born our hero and the sisters Françoise and Elizabeth.

[2] I have throughout referred to Médard Chouart, Sieur des
Groseillers, as simply "Groseillers," because that is the name
referring to him most commonly used in the _State Papers_ and old
histories.  He was from Charly-Saint-Cyr, near Meaux, and is supposed
to have been born about 1621.  His first wife was Helen Martin,
daughter of Abraham Martin, who gave his name to the Plains of Abraham.

[3] This is the story of Onondaga which Parkman has told.
Unfortunately, when Parkman's account was written, _Radisson's
Journals_ were unknown and Mr. Parkman had to rely entirely on the
_Letters of Marie de l'Incarnation_ and the _Jesuit Relations_.  After
the discovery of _Radisson's Journals_, Parkman added a footnote to his
account of Onondaga, _quoting_ Radisson in confirmation.  If Radisson
may be quoted to corroborate Parkman, Radisson may surely be accepted
as authentic.  At the same time, I have compared this journal with
Father Ragueneau's of the same party, and the two tally in every detail.

[4] See _Jesuit Relations_, 1657-1658.

[5] _Letters of Marie de l'Incarnation_.

[6] See Ragueneau's account.

[7] See _Marie de l'Incarnation_ and Dr. Dionne's modern monograph.

[8] This account is drawn mainly from _Radisson's Journal_, partly from
Father Ragueneau, and in one detail from a letter of _Marie de
l'Incarnation_.  Garneau says the feasters were drugged, but I cannot
find his authority for this, though from my knowledge of fur traders'
escapes, I fancy it would hardly have been human nature not to add a
sleeping potion to the kettles.

[9] The _festins à tout manger_ must not be too sweepingly condemned by
the self-righteous white man as long as drinking bouts are a part of
civilized customs; and at least one civilized nation has the gross
proverb, "Better burst than waste."




The Discovery of the Great Northwest--Radisson and his Brother-in-law,
Groseillers, visit what are now Wisconsin, Minnesota, Dakota, and the
Canadian Northwest--Radisson's Prophecy on first beholding the
West--Twelve Years before Marquette and Jolliet, Radisson sees the
Mississippi--The Terrible Remains of Dollard's Fight seen on the Way
down the Ottawa--Why Radisson's Explorations have been ignored

While Radisson was among the Iroquois, the little world of New France
had not been asleep.  Before Radisson was born, Jean Nicolet of Three
Rivers had passed westward through the straits of Mackinaw and coasted
down Lake Michigan as far as Green Bay.[1]  Some years later the great
Jesuit martyr, Jogues, had preached to the Indians of Sault Ste. Marie;
but beyond the Sault was an unknown world that beckoned the young
adventurers of New France as with the hands of a siren.  Of the great
beyond--known to-day as the Great Northwest--nothing had been learned
but this: from it came the priceless stores of beaver pelts yearly
brought down the Ottawa to Three Rivers by the Algonquins, and in it
dwelt strange, wild races whose territory extended northwest and north
to unknown nameless seas.

The Great Beyond held the two things most coveted by ambitious young
men of New France,--quick wealth by means of the fur trade and the
immortal fame of being a first explorer.  Nicolet had gone only as far
as Green Bay and Fox River; Jogues not far beyond the Sault.  What
secrets lay in the Great Unknown?  Year after year young Frenchmen,
fired with the zeal of the explorer, joined wandering tribes of
Algonquins going up the Ottawa, in the hope of being taken beyond the
Sault.  In August, 1656, there came from Green Bay two young Frenchmen
with fifty canoes of Algonquins, who told of far-distant waters called
Lake "Ouinipeg," and tribes of wandering hunters called "Christinos"
(Crees), who spent their winters in a land bare of trees (the prairie),
and their summers on the North Sea (Hudson's Bay).  They also told of
other tribes, who were great warriors, living to the south,--these were
the Sioux.  But the two Frenchmen had not gone beyond the Great
Lakes.[2]  These Algonquins were received at Château St. Louis, Quebec,
with pompous firing of cannon and other demonstrations of welcome.  So
eager were the French to take possession of the new land that thirty
young men equipped themselves to go back with the Indians; and the
Jesuits sent out two priests, Leonard Gareau and Gabriel Dreuillettes,
with a lay helper, Louis Boësme.  The sixty canoes left Quebec with
more firing of guns for a God-speed; but at Lake St. Peter the Mohawks
ambushed the flotilla.  The enterprise of exploring the Great Beyond
was abandoned by all the French but two.  Gareau, who was mortally
wounded on the Ottawa, probably by a Frenchman or renegade hunter, died
at Montreal; and Dreuillettes did not go farther than Lake Nipissing.
Here, Dreuillettes learned much of the Unknown from an old Nipissing
chief.  He heard of six overland routes to the bay of the North, whence
came such store of peltry.[3]  He, too, like the two Frenchmen from
Green Bay, heard of wandering tribes who had no settled lodge like the
Hurons and Iroquois, but lived by the chase,--Crees and Sioux and
Assiniboines of the prairie, at constant war round a lake called

[Illustration: A Cree brave, with the wampum string.]

By one of those curious coincidences of destiny which mark the lives of
nations and men, the young Frenchman who had gone with the Jesuit,
Dreuillettes, to Lake Nipissing when the other Frenchmen turned back,
was Médard Chouart Groseillers, the fur trader married to Radisson's
widowed sister, Marguerite.[4]

When Radisson came back from Onondaga, he found his brother-in-law,
Groseillers, at Three Rivers, with ambitious designs of exploration in
the unknown land of which he had heard at Green Bay and on Lake
Nipissing.  Jacques Cartier had discovered only one great river, had
laid the foundations of only one small province; Champlain had only
made the circuit of the St. Lawrence, the Ottawa, and the Great Lakes;
but here was a country--if the Indians spoke the truth--greater than
all the empires of Europe together, a country bounded only by three
great seas, the Sea of the North, the Sea of the South, and the Sea of
Japan, a country so vast as to stagger the utmost conception of little
New France.

It was unnecessary for Groseillers to say more.  The ambition of young
Radisson took fire.  Long ago, when a captive among the Mohawks, he had
cherished boyish dreams that it was to be his "destiny to discover many
wild nations"; and here was that destiny opening the door for him,
pointing the way, beckoning to the toils and dangers and glories of the
discoverer's life.  Radisson had been tortured among the Mohawks and
besieged among the Onondagas.  Groseillers had been among the Huron
missions that were destroyed and among the Algonquin canoes that were
attacked.  Both explorers knew what perils awaited them; but what
youthful blood ever chilled at prospect of danger when a single _coup_
might win both wealth and fame?  Radisson had not been home one month;
but he had no sooner heard the plan than he "longed to see himself in a

A hundred and fifty Algonquins had come down the Ottawa from the Great
Beyond shortly after Radisson returned from Onondaga.  Six of these
Algonquins had brought their furs to Three Rivers.  Some emissaries had
gone to Quebec to meet the governor; but the majority of the Indians
remained at Montreal to avoid the ambuscade of the Mohawks on Lake St.
Peter.  Radisson and Groseillers were not the only Frenchmen conspiring
to wrest fame and fortune from the Upper Country.  When the Indians
came back from Quebec, they were accompanied by thirty young French
adventurers, gay as boys out of school or gold hunters before the first
check to their plans.  There were also two Jesuits sent out to win the
new domain for the cross.[5]  As ignorant as children of the hardships
ahead, the other treasure-seekers kept up nonchalant boasting that
roused the irony of such seasoned men as Radisson and Groseillers.
"What fairer bastion than a good tongue," Radisson demands cynically,
"especially when one sees his own chimney smoke? . . .  It is different
when food is wanting, work necessary day and night, sleep taken on the
bare ground or to mid-waist in water, with an empty stomach, weariness
in the bones, and bad weather overhead."

Giving the slip to their noisy companions, Radisson and Groseillers
stole out from Three Rivers late one night in June, accompanied by
Algonquin guides.  Travelling only at night to avoid Iroquois spies,
they came to Montreal in three days.  Here were gathered one hundred
and forty Indians from the Upper Country, the thirty French, and the
two priests.  No gun was fired at Montreal, lest the Mohawks should get
wind of the departure; and the flotilla of sixty canoes spread over
Lake St. Louis for the far venture of the _Pays d'en Haut_.  Three days
of work had silenced the boasting of the gay adventurers; and the
_voyageurs_, white and red, were now paddling in swift silence.  Safety
engendered carelessness.  As the fleet seemed to be safe from Iroquois
ambush, the canoes began to scatter.  Some loitered behind.  Hunters
went ashore to shoot.  The hills began to ring with shot and call.  At
the first _portage_ many of the canoes were nine and ten miles apart.
Enemies could have set on the Algonquins in some narrow defile and
slaughtered the entire company like sheep in a pen.  Radisson and
Groseillers warned the Indians of the risk they were running.  Many of
these Algonquins had never before possessed firearms.  With the muskets
obtained in trade at Three Rivers, they thought themselves invincible
and laughed all warning to scorn.  Radisson and Groseillers were told
that they were a pair of timid squaws; and the canoes spread apart till
not twenty were within call.  As they skirted the wooded shores, a man
suddenly dashed from the forest with an upraised war-hatchet in one
hand and a blanket streaming from his shoulders.  He shouted for them
to come to him.  The Algonquins were panic-stricken.  Was the man
pursued by Mohawks, or laying a trap to lure them within shooting
range?  Seeing them hesitate, the Indian threw down blanket and hatchet
to signify that he was defenceless, and rushed into the water to his

"I would save you," he shouted in Iroquois.

The Algonquins did not understand.  They only knew that he spoke the
tongue of the hated enemy and was unarmed.  In a trice, the Algonquins
in the nearest canoe had thrown out a well-aimed lasso, roped the man
round the waist, and drawn him a captive into the canoe.

"Brothers," protested the captive, who seems to have been either a
Huron slave or an Iroquois magician, "your enemies are spread up and
down!  Sleep not!  They have heard your noise!  They wait for you!
They are sure of their prey!  Believe me--keep together!  Spend not
your powder in vain to frighten your enemies by noise!  See that the
stones of your arrows be not bent!  Bend your bows!  Keep your hatchets
sharp!  Build a fort!  Make haste!"

But the Algonquins, intoxicated with the new power of firearms, would
hear no warning.  They did not understand his words and refused to heed
Radisson's interpretation.  Beating paddles on their canoes and firing
off guns, they shouted derisively that the man was "a dog and a hen."
All the same, they did not land to encamp that night, but slept in
midstream, with their boats tied to the rushes or on the lee side of
floating trees.  The French lost heart.  If this were the beginning,
what of the end?  Daylight had scarcely broken when the paddles of the
eager _voyageurs_ were cutting the thick gray mist that rose from the
river to get away from observation while the fog still hid the fleet.
From afar came the dull, heavy rumble of a waterfall.[6]

There was a rush of the twelve foremost canoes to reach the landing and
cross the _portage_ before the thinning mist lifted entirely.  Twelve
boats had got ashore when the fog was cleft by a tremendous crashing of
guns, and Iroquois ambushed in the bordering forest let go a salute of
musketry.  Everything was instantly in confusion.  Abandoning their
baggage to the enemy, the Algonquins and French rushed for the woods to
erect a barricade.  This would protect the landing of the other canoes.
The Iroquois immediately threw up a defence of fallen logs likewise,
and each canoe that came ashore was greeted with a cross fire between
the two barricades.  Four canoes were destroyed and thirteen of the
Indians from the Upper Country killed.  As day wore on, the Iroquois'
shots ceased, and the Algonquins celebrated the truce by killing and
devouring all the prisoners they had taken, among whom was the magician
who had given them warning.  Radisson and Groseillers wondered if the
Iroquois were reserving their powder for a night raid.  The Algonquins
did not wait to know.  As soon as darkness fell, there was a wild
scramble for the shore.  A long, low trumpet call, such as hunters use,
signalled the Algonquins to rally and rush for the boats.  The French
embarked as best they could.  The Indians swam and paddled for the
opposite shore of the river.  Here, in the dark, hurried council was
taken.  The most of the baggage had been lost.  The Indians refused to
help either the Jesuits or the French, and it was impossible for the
white _voyageurs_ to keep up the pace in the dash across an unknown
_portage_ through the dark.  The French adventurers turned back for
Montreal.  Of the white men, Radisson and Groseillers alone went on.

Frightened into their senses by the encounter, the Algonquins now
travelled only at night till they were far beyond range of the
Iroquois.  All day the fugitive band lay hidden in the woods.  They
could not hunt, lest Mohawk spies might hear the gunshots.  Provisions
dwindled.  In a short time the food consisted of _tripe de roche_--a
greenish moss boiled into a soup--and the few fish that might be caught
during hurried nightly launch or morning landing.  Sometimes they hid
in a berry patch, when the fruit was gathered and boiled, but
camp-fires were stamped out and covered.  Turning westward, they
crossed the barren region of iron-capped rocks and dwarf growth between
the Upper Ottawa and the Great Lakes.  Now they were farther from the
Iroquois, and staved off famine by shooting an occasional bear in the
berry patches.  For a thousand miles they had travelled against stream,
carrying their boats across sixty _portages_.  Now they glided with the
current westward to Lake Nipissing.  On the lake, the Upper Indians
always _cached_ provisions.  Fish, otter, and beaver were plentiful;
but again they refrained from using firearms, for Iroquois footprints
had been found on the sand.

From Lake Nipissing they passed to Lake Huron, where the fleet divided.
Radisson and Groseillers went with the Indians, who crossed Lake Huron
for Green Bay on Lake Michigan.  The birch canoes could not venture
across the lake in storms; so the boats rounded southward, keeping
along the shore of Georgian Bay.  Cedar forests clustered down the
sandy reaches of the lake.  Rivers dark as cathedral aisles rolled
their brown tides through the woods to the blue waters of Lake Huron.
At one point Groseillers recognized the site of the ruined Jesuit
missions.  The Indians waited the chance of a fair day, and paddled
over to the straits at the entrance to Lake Michigan.  At Manitoulin
Island were Huron refugees, among whom were, doubtless, the waiting
families of the Indians with Radisson.  All struck south for Green Bay.
So far Radisson and Groseillers had travelled over beaten ground.  Now
they were at the gateway of the Great Beyond, where no white man had
yet gone.

The first thing done on taking up winter quarters on Green Bay was to
appease the friends of those warriors slain by the Mohawks.  A
distribution of gifts had barely dried up the tears of mourning when
news came of Iroquois on the war-path.  Radisson did not wait for fear
to unman the Algonquin warriors.  Before making winter camp, he offered
to lead a band of volunteers against the marauders.  For two days he
followed vague tracks through the autumn-tinted forests.  Here were
markings of the dead leaves turned freshly up; there a moccasin print
on the sand; and now the ashes of a hidden camp-fire lying in almost
imperceptible powder on fallen logs told where the Mohawks had
bivouacked.  On the third day Radisson caught the ambushed band
unprepared, and fell upon the Iroquois so furiously that not one

After that the Indians of the Upper Country could not do too much for
the white men.  Radisson and Groseillers were conducted from camp to
camp in triumph.  Feasts were held.  Ambassadors went ahead with gifts
from the Frenchmen; and companies of women marched to meet the
explorers, chanting songs of welcome.  "But our mind was not to stay
here," relates Radisson, "but to know the remotest people; and, because
we had been willing to die in their defence, these Indians consented to
conduct us."

Before the opening of spring, 1659, Radisson and Groseillers had been
guided across what is now Wisconsin to "a mighty river, great, rushing,
profound, and comparable to the St. Lawrence." [7]  On the shores of
the river they found a vast nation--"the people of the fire," prairie
tribes, a branch of the Sioux, who received them well.[8]  This river
was undoubtedly the Upper Mississippi, now for the first time seen by
white men.  Radisson and Groseillers had discovered the Great
Northwest.[9]  They were standing on the threshold of the Great Beyond.
They saw before them not the Sea of China, as speculators had dreamed,
not kingdoms for conquest, which the princes of Europe coveted; not a
short road to Asia, of which savants had spun a cobweb of theories.
They saw what every Westerner sees to-day,--illimitable reaches of
prairie and ravine, forested hills sloping to mighty rivers, and open
meadow-lands watered by streams looped like a ribbon.  They saw a land
waiting for its people, wealth waiting for possessors, an empire
waiting for the nation builders.

[Illustration: An Old-time Buffalo Hunt on the Plains among the Sioux.]

What were Radisson's thoughts?  Did he realize the importance of his
discovery?  Could he have the vaguest premonition that he had opened a
door of escape from stifled older lands to a higher type of manhood and
freedom than the most sanguine dreamer had ever hoped?[10]  After an
act has come to fruition, it is easy to read into the actor's mind
fuller purpose than he could have intended.  Columbus could not have
realized to what the discovery of America would lead.  Did Radisson
realize what the discovery of the Great Northwest meant?

Here is what he says, in that curious medley of idioms which so often
results when a speaker knows many languages but is master of none:--

"The country was so pleasant, so beautiful, and so fruitful, that it
grieved me to see that the world could not discover such inticing
countries to live in.  This, I say, because the Europeans fight for a
rock in the sea against one another, or for a steril land . . .  where
the people by changement of air engender sickness and die. . . .
Contrariwise, these kingdoms are so delicious and under so temperate a
climate, plentiful of all things, and the earth brings forth its fruit
twice a year, that the people live long and lusty and wise in their
way.  What a conquest would this be, at little or no cost?  What
pleasure should people have . . . instead of misery and poverty!  Why
should not men reap of the love of God here?  Surely, more is to be
gained converting souls here than in differences of creed, when wrongs
are committed under pretence of religion! . . .  It is true, I
confess, . . . that access here is difficult . . . but nothing is to be
gained without labor and pains." [11]

[Illustration: Father Marquette, from an old painting discovered in
Montreal by Mr. McNab.  The date on the picture is 1669.]

Here Radisson foreshadows all the best gains that the West has
accomplished for the human race.  What are they?  Mainly room,--room to
live and room for opportunity; equal chances for all classes, high and
low; plenty for all classes, high and low; the conquests not of war but
of peace.  The question arises,--when Radisson discovered the Great
Northwest ten years before Marquette and Jolliet, twenty years before
La Salle, a hundred years before De la Vérendrye, why has his name been
slurred over and left in oblivion?[12]  The reasons are plain.
Radisson was a Christian, but he was not a slave to any creed.  Such
liberality did not commend itself to the annalists of an age that was
still rioting in a very carnival of religious persecution.  Radisson
always invoked the blessing of Heaven on his enterprises and rendered
thanks for his victories; but he was indifferent as to whether he was
acting as lay helper with the Jesuits, or allied to the Huguenots of
London and Boston.  His discoveries were too important to be ignored by
the missionaries.  They related his discoveries, but refrained from
mentioning his name, though twice referring to Groseillers.  What hurt
Radisson's fame even more than his indifference to creeds was his
indifference to nationality.  Like Columbus, he had little care what
flag floated at the prow, provided only that the prow pushed on and on
and on,--into the Unknown.  He sold his services alternately to France
and England till he had offended both governments; and, in addition to
withstanding a conspiracy of silence on the part of the Church, his
fame encountered the ill-will of state historians.  He is mentioned as
"the adventurer," "the hang-dog," "the renegade."  Only in 1885, when
the manuscript of his travels was rescued from oblivion, did it become
evident that history must be rewritten.  Here was a man whose
discoveries were second only to those of Columbus, and whose
explorations were more far-ranging and important than those of
Champlain and La Salle and De la Vérendrye put together.

The spring of 1659 found the explorers still among the prairie tribes
of the Mississippi.  From these people Radisson learned of four other
races occupying vast, undiscovered countries.  He heard of the Sioux, a
warlike nation to the west, who had no fixed abode but lived by the
chase and were at constant war with another nomadic tribe to the
north--the Crees.  The Crees spent the summer time round the shores of
salt water, and in winter came inland to hunt.  Between these two was a
third,--the Assiniboines,--who used earthen pots for cooking, heated
their food by throwing hot stones in water, and dressed themselves in
buckskin.  These three tribes were wandering hunters; but the people of
the fire told Radisson of yet another nation, who lived in villages
like the Iroquois, on "a great river that divided itself in two," and
was called "the Forked River," because "it had two branches, the one
toward the west, the other toward the south, . . . toward Mexico."
These people were the Mandans or Omahas, or Iowas, or other people of
the Missouri.[13]

A whole world of discoveries lay before them.  In what direction should
they go?  "We desired not to go to the north till we had made a
discovery in the south," explains Radisson.  The people of the fire
refused to accompany the explorers farther; so the two "put themselves
in hazard," as Radisson relates, and set out alone.  They must have
struck across the height of land between the Mississippi and the
Missouri; for Radisson records that they met several nations having
villages, "all amazed to see us and very civil.  The farther we
sojourned, the delightfuller the land became.  I can say that in all my
lifetime I have never seen a finer country, for all that I have been in
Italy.  The people have very long hair.  They reap twice a year.  They
war against the Sioux and the Cree. . . .  It was very hot there. . . .
Being among the people they told us . . . of men that built great
cabins and have beards and have knives like the French."  The Indians
showed Radisson a string of beads only used by Europeans.  These people
must have been the Spaniards of the south.  The tribes on the Missouri
were large men of well-formed figures.  There were no deformities among
the people.  Radisson saw corn and pumpkins in their gardens.  "Their
arrows were not of stone, but of fish bones. . . .  Their dishes were
made of wood. . . .  They had great calumets of red and green
stone . . . and great store of tobacco. . . .  They had a kind of drink
that made them mad for a whole day." [14]  "We had not yet seen the
Sioux," relates Radisson.  "We went toward the south and came back by
the north."  The _Jesuit Relations_ are more explicit.  Written the
year that Radisson returned to Quebec, they state: "Continuing their
wanderings, our two young Frenchmen visited the Sioux, where they found
five thousand warriors.  They then left this nation for another warlike
people, who with bows and arrows had rendered themselves redoubtable."
These were the Crees, with whom, say the Jesuits, wood is so rare and
small that nature has taught them to make fire of a kind of coal and to
cover their cabins with skins of the chase.  The explorers seem to have
spent the summer hunting antelope, buffalo, moose, and wild turkey.
The Sioux received them cordially, supplied them with food, and gave
them an escort to the next encampments.  They had set out southwest to
the Mascoutins, Mandans, and perhaps, also, the Omahas.  They were now
circling back northeastward toward the Sault between Lake Michigan and
Lake Superior.  How far westward had they gone?  Only two facts gave
any clew.  Radisson reports that mountains lay far inland; and the
Jesuits record that the explorers were among tribes that used coal.
This must have been a country far west of the Mandans and Mascoutins
and within sight of at least the Bad Lands, or that stretch of rough
country between the prairie and outlying foothills of the Rockies.[15]
The course of the first exploration seems to have circled over the
territory now known as Wisconsin, perhaps eastern Iowa and Nebraska,
South Dakota, Montana, and back over North Dakota and Minnesota to the
north shore of Lake Superior.  "The lake toward the north is full of
rocks, yet great ships can ride in it without danger," writes Radisson.
At the Sault they found the Crees and Sautaux in bitter war.  They also
heard of a French establishment, and going to visit it found that the
Jesuits had established a mission.

Radisson had explored the Southwest.  He now decided to essay the
Northwest.  When the Sautaux were at war with the Crees, he met the
Crees and heard of the great salt sea in the north.  Surely this was
the Sea of the North--Hudson Bay--of which the Nipissing chief had told
Groseillers long ago.  Then the Crees had great store of beaver pelts;
and trade must not be forgotten.  No sooner had peace been arranged
between Sautaux and Crees, than Cree hunters flocked out of the
northern forests to winter on Lake Superior.  A rumor of Iroquois on
the war-path compelled Radisson and Groseillers to move their camp back
from Lake Superior higher up the chain of lakes and rivers between what
is now Minnesota and Canada, toward the country of the Sioux.  In the
fall of 1659 Groseillers' health began to fail from the hardships; so
he remained in camp for the winter, attending to the trade, while
Radisson carried on the explorations alone.

This was one of the coldest winters known in Canada.[16]  The snow fell
so heavily in the thick pine woods of Minnesota that Radisson says the
forest became as sombre as a cellar.  The colder the weather the better
the fur, and, presenting gifts to insure safe conduct, Radisson set out
with a band of one hundred and fifty Cree hunters for the Northwest.
They travelled on snow-shoes, hunting moose on the way and sleeping at
night round a camp-fire under the stars.  League after league, with no
sound through the deathly white forest but the soft crunch-crunch of
the snowshoes, they travelled two hundred miles toward what is now
Manitoba.  When they had set out, the snow was like a cushion.  Now it
began to melt in the spring sun, and clogged the snow-shoes till it was
almost impossible to travel.  In the morning the surface was glazed
ice, and they could march without snow-shoes.  Spring thaw called a
halt to their exploration.  The Crees encamped for three weeks to build
boats.  As soon as the ice cleared, the band launched back down-stream
for the appointed rendezvous on Green Bay.  All that Radisson learned
on this trip was that the Bay of the North lay much farther from Lake
Superior than the old Nipissing chief had told Dreuillettes and

Groseillers had all in readiness to depart for Quebec; and five hundred
Indians from the Upper Country had come together to go down the Ottawa
and St. Lawrence with the explorers.  As they were about to embark,
_coureurs_ came in from the woods with news that more than a thousand
Iroquois were on the war-path, boasting that they would exterminate the
French.[18]  Somewhere along the Ottawa a small band of Hurons had been
massacred.  The Indians with Groseillers and Radisson were terrified.
A council of the elders was called.

"Brothers, why are ye so foolish as to put yourselves in the hands of
those that wait for you?" demanded an old chief, addressing the two
white men.  "The Iroquois will destroy you and carry you away captive.
Will you have your brethren, that love you, slain?  Who will baptize
our children?"  (Radisson and Groseillers had baptized more than two
hundred children.[19])  "Stay till next year!  Then you may freely go!
Our mothers will send their children to be taught in the way of the

Fear is like fire.  It must be taken in the beginning, or it spreads.
The explorers retired, decided on a course of action, and requested the
Indians to meet them in council a second time.  Eight hundred warriors
assembled, seating themselves in a circle.  Radisson and Groseillers
took their station in the centre.[20]

"Who am I?" demanded Groseillers, hotly.  "Am I a foe or a friend?  If
a foe, why did you suffer me to live?  If a friend, listen what I say!
You know that we risked our lives for you!  If we have no courage, why
did you not tell us?  If you have more wit than we, why did you not use
it to defend yourselves against the Iroquois?  How can you defend your
wives and children unless you get arms from the French!"

"Fools," cried Radisson, striking a beaver skin across an Indian's
shoulder, "will you fight the Iroquois with beaver pelts?  Do you not
know the French way?  We fight with guns, not robes.  The Iroquois will
coop you up here till you have used all your powder, and then despatch
you with ease!  Shall your children be slaves because you are cowards?
Do what you will!  For my part I choose to die like a man rather than
live like a beggar.  Take back your beaver robes.  We can live without
you--" and the white men strode out from the council.

Consternation reigned among the Indians.  There was an uproar of
argument.  For six days the fate of the white men hung fire.  Finally
the chiefs sent word that the five hundred young warriors would go to
Quebec with the white men.  Radisson did not give their ardor time to
cool.  They embarked at once.  The fleet of canoes crossed the head of
the lakes and came to the Upper Ottawa without adventure.  Scouts went
ahead to all the _portages_, and great care was taken to avoid an
ambush when passing overland.  Below the Chaudière Falls the scouts
reported that four Iroquois boats had crossed the river.  Again
Radisson did not give time for fear.  He sent the lightest boats in
pursuit; and while keeping the enemy thus engaged with half his own
company on guard at the ends of the long _portage_, he hurriedly got
cargoes and canoes across the landing.  The Iroquois had fled.  By that
Radisson knew they were weak.  Somewhere along the Long Sault Rapids,
the scouts saw sixteen Iroquois canoes.  The Indians would have thrown
down their goods and fled, but Radisson instantly got his forces in
hand and held them with a grip of steel.  Distributing loaded muskets
to the bravest warriors, he pursued the Iroquois with a picked company
of Hurons, Algonquins, Sautaux, and Sioux.  Beating their paddles,
Radisson's company shouted the war-cry till the hills rang; but all the
warriors were careful not to waste an ounce of powder till within
hitting range.  The Iroquois were not used to this sort of defence.
They fled.  The Long Sault was always the most dangerous part of the
Ottawa.  Radisson kept scouts to rear and fore, but the Iroquois had
deserted their boats and were hanging on the flanks of the company to
attempt an ambush.  It was apparent that a fort had been erected at the
foot of the rapids.  Leaving half the band in their boats, Radisson
marched overland with two hundred warriors.  Iroquois shots spattered
from each side; but the Huron muskets kept the assailants at a
distance, and those of Radisson's warriors who had not guns were armed
with bows and arrows, and wore a shield of buffalo skin dried hard as
metal.  The Iroquois rushed for the barricade at the foot of the Sault.
Five of them were picked off as they ran.  For a moment the Iroquois
were out of cover, and their weakness was betrayed.  They had only one
hundred and fifty men, while Radisson had five hundred; but the odds
would not long be in his favor.  Ammunition was running out, and the
enemy must be dislodged without wasting a shot.  Radisson called back
encouragement to his followers.  They answered with a shout.  Tying the
beaver pelts in great bundles, the Indians rolled the fur in front
nearer and nearer the Iroquois boats, keeping under shelter from the
shots of the fort.  The Iroquois must either lose their boats and be
cut off from escape, or retire from the fort.  It was not necessary for
Radisson's warriors to fire a shot.  Abandoning even their baggage and
glad to get off with their lives, the Iroquois dashed to save their

[Illustration: Voyageurs running the Rapids of the Ottawa River.]

A terrible spectacle awaited Radisson inside the enclosure of the
palisades.[21]  The scalps of dead Indians flaunted from the pickets.
Not a tree but was spattered with bullet marks as with bird shot.  Here
and there burnt holes gaped in the stockades like wounds.  Outside
along the river bank lay the charred bones of captives who had been
burned.  The scarred fort told its own tale.  Here refugees had been
penned up by the Iroquois till thirst and starvation did their work.
In the clay a hole had been dug for water by the parched victims, and
the ooze through the mud eagerly scooped up.  Only when he reached
Montreal did Radisson learn the story of the dismantled fort.  The
rumor carried to the explorers on Lake Michigan of a thousand Iroquois
going on the war-path to exterminate the French had been only too true.
Half the warriors were to assault Quebec, half to come down on Montreal
from the Ottawa.  One thing only could save the French--to keep the
bands apart.  Those on the Ottawa had been hunting all winter and must
necessarily be short of powder.  To intercept them, a gallant band of
seventeen French, four Algonquins, and sixty Hurons led by Dollard took
their stand at the Long Sault.  The French and their Indian allies were
boiling their kettles when two hundred Iroquois broke from the woods.
There was no time to build a fort.  Leaving their food, Dollard and his
men threw themselves into the rude palisades which Indians had erected
the previous year.  The Iroquois kept up a constant fire and sent for
reinforcements of six hundred warriors, who were on the Richelieu.  In
defiance the Indians fighting for the French sallied out, scalped the
fallen Iroquois, and hoisted the sanguinary trophies on long poles
above the pickets.  The enraged Iroquois redoubled their fury.  The
fort was too small to admit all the Hurons; and when the Iroquois came
up from the Richelieu with Huron renegades among their warriors, the
Hurons deserted their French allies and went over in a body to the
enemy.  For two days the French had fought against two hundred
Iroquois.  For five more days they fought against eight hundred.  "The
worst of it was," relates Radisson, "the French had no water, as we
plainly saw; for they had made a hole in the ground out of which they
could get but little because the fort was on a hill.  It was pitiable.
There was not a tree but what was shot with bullets.  The Iroquois had
rushed to make a breach (in the wall). . . . The French set fire to a
barrel of powder to drive the Iroquois back . . . but it fell inside
the fort. . . . Upon this, the Iroquois entered . . . so that not one
of the French escaped. . . .  It was terrible . . . for we came there
eight days after the defeat." [22]

Without a doubt it was Dollard's splendid fight that put fear in the
hearts of the Iroquois who fled before Radisson.  The passage to
Montreal was clear.  The boats ran the rapids without unloading; but
Groseillers almost lost his life.  His canoe caught on a rock in
midstream, but righting herself shot down safely to the landing with no
greater loss than a damaged keel.  The next day, after two years'
absence, Radisson and Groseillers arrived at Montreal.  A brief stop
was made at Three Rivers for rest till twenty citizens had fitted out
two shallops with cannon to escort the discoverers in fitting pomp to
Quebec.  As the fleet of canoes glided round Cape Diamond, battery and
bastion thundered a welcome.  Welcome they were, and thrice welcome;
for so ceaseless had been the Iroquois wars that the three French ships
lying at anchor would have returned to France without a single beaver
skin if the explorers had not come.  Citizens shouted from the terraced
heights of Château St. Louis, and bells rang out the joy of all New
France over the discoverers' return.  For a week Radisson and
Groseillers were fêted.  Viscomte d'Argenson, the new governor,
presented them with gifts and sent two brigantines to carry them home
to Three Rivers.  There they rested for the remainder of the year,
Groseillers at his seigniory with his wife, Marguerite; Radisson, under
the parental roof.[23]

[1] Mr. Benjamin Sulte establishes this date as 1634.

[2] See _Jesuit Relations_, 1656-57-58.  I have purposely refrained
from entering into the heated controversy as to the identity of these
two men.  It is apart from the subject, as there is no proof these men
went beyond the Green Bay region.

[3] These routes were; (1) By the Saguenay, (2) by Three Rivers and the
St. Maurice, (3) by Lake Nipissing, (4) by Lake Huron, through the land
of the Sautaux, (5) by Lake Superior overland, (6) by the Ottawa.  See
_Jesuit Relations_ for detailed accounts of these routes.  Dreuillettes
went farther west to the Crees a few years later, but that does not
concern this narrative.

[4] The dispute as to whether eastern Minnesota was discovered on the
1654-55-56 trip, and whether Groseillers discovered it, is a point for
savants, but will, I think, remain an unsettled dispute.

[5] The _Relations_ do not give the names of these two Jesuits,
probably owing to the fact that the enterprise failed.  They simply
state that two priests set out, but were compelled to remain behind
owing to the caprice of the savages.

[6] Whether they were now on the Ottawa or the St. Lawrence, it is
impossible to tell.  Dr. Dionne thinks that the band went overland from
Lake Ontario to Lake Huron.  I know both waters--Lake Ontario and the
Ottawa--from many trips, and I think Radisson's description here
tallies with his other descriptions of the Ottawa.  It is certain that
they must have been on the Ottawa before they came to the Lake of the
Castors or Nipissing.  The noise of the waterfall seems to point to the
Chaudière Falls of the Ottawa.  If so, the landing place would be the
tongue of land running out from Hull, opposite the city of Ottawa, and
the _portage_ would be the Aylmer Road beyond the rapids above the
falls.  Mr. Benjamin Sulte, the scholarly historian, thinks they went
by way of the Ottawa, not Lake Ontario, as the St. Lawrence route was
not used till 1702.

[7] _Jesuit Relations_, 1660.

[8] _Jesuit Relations_, 1660, and _Radisson's Journal_.  These "people
of the fire," or Mascoutins, were in three regions, (1) Wisconsin, (2)
Nebraska, (3) on the Missouri.  See Appendix E.

[9] Benjamin Sulte unequivocally states that the river was the
Mississippi.  Of writers contemporaneous with Radisson, the Jesuits,
Marie de l'Incarnation, and Charlevoix corroborate Radisson's account.
In the face of this, what are we to think of modern writers with a
reputation to lose, who brush Radisson's exploits aside as a possible
fabrication?  The only conclusion is that they have not read his

[10] I refer to Radisson alone, because for half the time in 1659
Groseillers was ill at the lake, and we cannot be sure that he
accompanied Radisson in all the journeys south and west, though
Radisson generously always includes him as "we."  Besides, Groseillers
seems to have attended to the trading, Radisson to the exploring.

[11] If any one cares to render Radisson's peculiar jumble of French,
English, Italian, and Indian idioms into more intelligent form, they
may try their hand at it.  His meaning is quite clear; but the words
are a medley.  The passage is to be found on pp. 150-151, of the
_Prince Society Reprint_.  See also _Jesuit Relations_, 1660.

[12] It will be noted that what I claim for Radisson is the honor of
discovering the Great Northwest, and refrain from trying to identify
his movements with the modern place names of certain states.  I have
done this intentionally--though it would have been easy to advance
opinions about Green Bay, Fox River, and the Wisconsin, and so become
involved in the childish quarrel that has split the western historical
societies and obscured the main issue of Radisson's feat.  Needless to
say, the world does not care whether Radisson went by way of the
Menominee, or snow-shoed across country.  The question is: Did he reach
the Mississippi Valley before Marquette and Jolliet and La Salle?  That
question this chapter answers.

[13] I have refrained from quoting Radisson's names for the different
Indian tribes because it would only be "caviare to the general."  If
Radisson's manuscript be consulted it will be seen that the crucial
point is the whereabouts of the Mascoutins--or people of the fire.
Reference to the last part of Appendix E will show that these people
extended far beyond the Wisconsin to the Missouri.  It is ignorance of
this fact that has created such bitter and childish controversy about
the exact direction taken by Radisson west-north-west of the
Mascoutins.  The exact words of the document in the Marine Department
are; "In the lower Missipy there are several other nations very
numerous with whom we have no commerce who are trading yet with nobody.
Above Missoury river which is in the Mississippi below the river
Illinois, to the south, there are the Mascoutins, Nadoessioux (Sioux)
with whom we trade and who are numerous."  Benjamin Sulte was one of
the first to discover that the Mascoutins had been in Nebraska, though
he does not attempt to trace this part of Radisson's journey definitely.

[14] The entire account of the people on "the Forked River" is so exact
an account of the Mandans that it might be a page from Catlin's
descriptions two centuries later.  The long hair, the two crops a year,
the tobacco, the soap-stone calumets, the stationary villages, the
knowledge of the Spaniards, the warm climate--all point to a region far
south of the Northern States, to which so many historians have stupidly
and with almost wilful ignorance insisted on limiting Radisson's
travels.  Parkman has been thoroughly honest in the matter.  His _La
Salle_ had been written before the discovery of the _Radisson
Journals_; but in subsequent editions he acknowledges in a footnote
that Radisson had been to "the Forked River."  Other writers (with the
exception of five) have been content to quote from Radisson's enemies
instead of going directly to his journals.  Even Garneau slurs over
Radisson's explorations; but Garneau, too, wrote before the discovery
of the Radisson papers.  Abbé Tanguay, who is almost infallible on
French-Canadian matters, slips up on Radisson, because his writings
preceded the publication of the _Radisson Relations_.  The five writers
who have attempted to redeem Radisson's memory from ignominy are: Dr.
N. E. Dionne, of the Parliamentary Library, Quebec; Mr. Justice
Prudhomme, of St. Boniface, Manitoba; Dr. George Bryce, of Winnepeg,
Mr. Benjamin Sulte, of Ottawa; and Judge J. V. Brower, of St. Paul.  It
ever a monument be erected to Radisson--as one certainly ought in every
province and state west of the Great Lakes--the names of these four
champions should be engraved upon it.

[15] This claim will, I know, stagger preconceived ideas.  In the light
of only Radisson's narrative, the third voyage has usually been
identified with Wisconsin and Minnesota; but in the light of the
_Jesuit Relations_, written the year that Radisson returned, to what
tribes could the descriptions apply?  Even Parkman's footnote
acknowledged that Radisson was among the people of the Missouri.  Grant
that, and the question arises, What people on the Missouri answer the
description?  The Indians of the far west use not only coal for fire,
but raw galena to make bullets for their guns.  In fact, it was that
practice of the tribes of Idaho that led prospectors to find the Blue
Bell Mine of Kootenay.  Granting that the Jesuit account--which was of
course, from hearsay--mistook the use of turf, dry grass, or buffalo
refuse for a kind of coal, the fact remains that only the very far
western tribes had this custom.

[16] _Letters of Marie de l'Incarnation_.

[17] _Jesuit Relations_, 1658.

[18] See Marie de l'Incarnation, Dollier de Casson, and Abbé Belmont.

[19] _Jesuit Relations_, 1660.

[20] It may be well to state as nearly as possible exactly _what_
tribes Radisson had met in this trip.  Those rejoined on the way up at
Manitoulin Island were refugee Hurons and Ottawas.  From the Hurons,
Ottawas, and Algonquins of Green Bay, Radisson went west with
Pottowatomies, from them to the Escotecke or Sioux of the Fire, namely
a branch of the Mascoutins.  From these Wisconsin Mascoutins, he learns
of the Nadoneceroron, or Sioux proper, and of the Christinos or Crees.
Going west with the Mascoutins, he comes to "sedentary" tribes.  Are
these the Mandans?  He compares this country to Italy.  From them he
hears of white men, that he thinks may be Spaniards.  This tribe is at
bitter war with Sioux and Crees.  At Green Bay he hears of the Sautaux
in war with Crees.  His description of buffalo hunts among the Sioux
tallies exactly with the Pembina hunts of a later day.  Oldmixon says
that it was from Crees and Assiniboines visiting at Green Bay that
Radisson learned of a way overland to the great game country of Hudson

[21] There is a mistake in Radisson's account here, which is easily
checked by contemporaneous accounts of Marie de l'Incarnation and
Dollier de Casson.  Radisson describes Dollard's fight during his
fourth trip in 1664, when it is quite plain that he means 1660.  The
fight has been so thoroughly described by Mr. Parkman, who drew his
material from the two authorities mentioned, and the _Jesuit Relations_
that I do not give it in detail.  I give a brief account of Radisson's
description of the tragedy.

[22] It will be noticed that Radisson's account of the battle at the
Long Sault--which I have given in his own words as far as
possible--differs in details from the only other accounts written by
contemporaries; namely, Marie de l'Incarnation, Dollier de Casson, the
Abbé Belmont, and the Jesuits.  All these must have written from
hearsay, for they were at Quebec and Montreal.  Radisson was on the
spot a week after the tragedy; so that his account may be supposed to
be as accurate as any.

[23] Mr. Benjamin Sulte states that the explorers wintered on Green
Bay, 1658-1659, then visited the tribes between Milwaukee and the river
Wisconsin in the spring of 1659.  Here they learn of the Sioux and the
Crees.  They push southwest first, where they see the Mississippi
between April and July, 1659.  Thence they come back to the Sault.
Then they winter, 1659-1660, among the Sioux.  I have not attempted to
give the dates of the itinerary; because it would be a matter of
speculation open to contradiction; but if we accept Radisson's account
at all--and that account is corroborated by writers contemporaneous
with him--we must then accept _his_ account of _where_ he went, and not
the casual guesses of modern writers who have given his journal one
hurried reading, and then sat down, without consulting documents
contemporaneous with Radisson, to inform the world of _where_ he went.
Because this is such a very sore point with two or three western
historical societies, I beg to state the reasons why I have set down
Radisson's itinerary as much farther west than has been generally
believed, though how far west he went does not efface the main and
essential fact _that Radisson was the true discoverer of the Great
Northwest_.  For that, let us give him a belated credit and not obscure
the feat by disputes.  (1) The term "Forked River" referred to the
Missouri and Mississippi, not the Wisconsin and Mississippi.  (2) No
other rivers in that region are to be compared to the Ottawa and St.
Lawrence but the Missouri and Mississippi.  (3) The Mascoutins, or
People of the Fire, among whom Radisson found himself when he descended
the Wisconsin from Green Bay, conducted him westward only as far as the
tribes allied to them, the Mascoutins of the Missouri or Nebraska.
Hence, Radisson going west-north-west to the Sioux--as he says he
did--must have skirted much farther west than Wisconsin and Minnesota.
(4) His descriptions of the Indians who knew tribes in trade with the
Spaniards must refer to the Indians south of the Big Bend of the
Missouri.  (5) His description of the climate refers to the same
region.  (6) The _Jesuit Relations_ confirm beyond all doubt that he
was among the main body of the great Sioux Confederacy.  (7) Both his
and the Jesuit reference is to the treeless prairie, which does not
apply to the wooded lake regions of eastern Minnesota or northern

To me, it is simply astounding--and that is putting it mildly--that any
one pretending to have read _Radisson's Journal_ can accuse him of
"claiming" to have "descended to the salt sea" (Gulf of Mexico).
Radisson makes no such claim; and to accuse him of such is like
building a straw enemy for the sake of knocking him down, or stirring
up muddy waters to make them look deep.  The exact words of Radisson's
narrative are: "We went into ye great river that divides itself in 2,
where the hurrons with some Ottauake . . . had retired. . . .  This
nation have warrs against those of the Forked River . . . so called
because it has 1 branches the one towards the west, the other towards
the South, wch. we believe runns towards Mexico, by the tokens they
gave us . . . they told us the prisoners they take tells them that they
have warrs against a nation . . . that have great beards and such
knives as we have" . . . etc., etc., etc. . . . "which made us believe
they were Europeans."  This statement is _no_ claim that Radisson went
to Mexico, but only that he met tribes who knew tribes trading with
Spaniards of Mexico.  And yet, on the careless reading of this
statement, one historian brands Radisson as a liar for "having claimed
he went to Mexico."  The thing would be comical in its impudence if it
were not that many such misrepresentations of what Radisson wrote have
dimmed the glory of his real achievements.




The Success of the Explorers arouses Envy--It becomes known that they
have heard of the Famous Sea of the North--When they ask Permission to
resume their Explorations, the French Governor refuses except on
Condition of receiving Half the Profits--In Defiance, the Explorers
steal off at Midnight--They return with a Fortune and are driven from
New France

Radisson was not yet twenty-six years of age, and his explorations of
the Great Northwest had won him both fame and fortune.  As Spain sought
gold in the New Word, so France sought precious furs.  Furs were the
only possible means of wealth to the French colony, and for ten years
the fur trade had languished owing to the Iroquois wars.  For a year
after the migration of the Hurons to Onondaga, not a single beaver skin
was brought to Montreal.  Then began the annual visits of the Indians
from the Upper Country to the forts of the St. Lawrence.  Sweeping down
the northern rivers like wild-fowl, in far-spread, desultory flocks,
came the Indians of the _Pays d'en Haut_.  Down the Ottawa to Montreal,
down the St. Maurice to Three Rivers, down the Saguenay and round to
Quebec, came the treasure-craft,--light fleets of birch canoes laden to
the water-line with beaver skins.  Whence came the wealth that revived
the languishing trade of New France?  From a vague, far Eldorado
somewhere round a sea in the North.  Hudson had discovered this sea
half a century before Radisson's day; Jean Bourdon, a Frenchman, had
coasted up Labrador in 1657 seeking the Bay of the North; and on their
last trip the explorers had learned from the Crees who came through the
dense forests of the hinterland that there lay round this Bay of the
North a vast country with untold wealth of furs.  The discovery of a
route overland to the north sea was to become the lodestar of
Radisson's life.[1]

[Illustration: Montreal in 1760: 1, the St. Lawrence; 20, the Dock;
18-19, Arsenal; 16, the Church; 13-15, the Convent and Hospital; 8-12,
Sally-ports, River Side; 17, Cannon and Wall; 3-4-5, Houses on Island.]

"We considered whether to reveal what we had learned," explains
Radisson, "for we had _not_ been in the Bay of the North, knowing only
what the Crees told us.  We wished to discover it ourselves and have
assurance before revealing anything."  But the secret leaked out.
Either Groseillers told his wife, or the Jesuits got wind of the news
from the Indians; for it was announced from Quebec that two priests,
young La Vallière, the son of the governor at Three Rivers, six other
Frenchmen, and some Indians would set out for the Bay of the North up
the Saguenay.  Radisson was invited to join the company as a guide.
Needless to say that a man who had already discovered the Great
Northwest and knew the secret of the road to the North, refused to play
a second part among amateur explorers.  Radisson promptly declined.
Nevertheless, in May, 1661, the Jesuits, Gabriel Dreuillettes and
Claude Dablon, accompanied by Couture, La Vallière, and three others,
set out with Indian guides for the discovery of Hudson's Bay by land.
On June 1 they began to ascend the Saguenay, pressing through vast
solitudes below the sombre precipices of the river.  The rapids were
frequent, the heat was terrific, and the _portages_ arduous.  Owing to
the obstinacy of the guides, the French were stopped north of Lake St.
John.  Here the priests established a mission, and messengers were sent
to Quebec for instructions.

Meanwhile, Radisson and Groseillers saw that no time must be lost.  If
they would be first in the North, as they had been first in the West,
they must set out at once.  Two Indian guides from the Upper Country
chanced to be in Montreal.  Groseillers secured them by bringing both
to Three Rivers.  Then the explorers formally applied to the French
governor, D'Avaugour, for permission to go on the voyage of discovery.
New France regulated the fur trade by license.  Imprisonment, the
galleys for life, even death on a second offence, were the punishments
of those who traded without a license.  The governor's answer revealed
the real animus behind his enthusiasm for discovery.  He would give the
explorers a license if they would share half the profits of the trip
with him and take along two of his servants as auditors of the returns.
One can imagine the indignation of the dauntless explorers at this
answer.  Their cargo of furs the preceding year had saved New France
from bankruptcy.  Offering to venture their lives a second time for the
extension of the French domain, they were told they might do so if they
would share half the profits with an avaricious governor.  Their answer
was characteristic.  Discoverers were greater than governors; still, if
the Indians of the Upper Country invited his Excellency, Radisson and
Groseillers would be glad to have the honor of his company; as for his
servants--men who went on voyages of discovery had to act as both
masters and servants.

D'Avaugour was furious.  He issued orders forbidding the explorers to
leave Three Rivers without his express permission.  Radisson and
Groseillers knew the penalties of ignoring this order.  They asked the
Jesuits to intercede for them.  Though Gareau had been slain trying to
ascend the Ottawa and Father Ménard had by this time preached in the
forests of Lake Michigan, the Jesuits had made no great discoveries in
the Northwest.  All they got for their intercessions was a snub.[2]

While messages were still passing between the governor and the
explorers, there swept down the St. Lawrence to Three Rivers seven
canoes of Indians from the Upper Country, asking for Radisson and
Groseillers.  The explorers were honorable to a degree.  They notified
the governor of Quebec that they intended to embark with the Indians.
D'Avaugour stubbornly ordered the Indians to await the return of his
party from the Saguenay.  The Indians made off to hide in the rushes of
Lake St. Peter.  The sympathy of Three Rivers was with the explorers.
Late one night in August Radisson and Groseillers--who was captain of
the soldiers and carried the keys of the fort--slipped out from the
gates, with a third Frenchman called Larivière.  As they stepped into
their canoe, the sentry demanded, "Who goes?"  "Groseillers," came the
answer through the dark.  "God give you a good voyage, sir," called the
sentry, faithful to his captain rather than the governor.

The skiff pushed out on the lapping tide.  A bend in the river--and the
lights of the fort glimmering in long lines across the water had
vanished behind.  The prow of Radisson's boat was once more heading
upstream for the Unknown.  Paddling with all swiftness through the
dark, the three Frenchmen had come to the rushes of Lake St. Peter
before daybreak.  No Indians could be found.  Men of softer mettle
might have turned back.  Not so Radisson.  "We were well-armed and had
a good boat," he relates, "so we resolved to paddle day and night to
overtake the Indians."  At the west end of the lake they came up with
the north-bound canoes.  For three days and nights they pushed on
without rest.  Naturally, Radisson did not pause to report progress at
Montreal.  Game was so plentiful in the surrounding forests that
Iroquois hunters were always abroad in the regions of the St. Lawrence
and Ottawa.[3]  Once they heard guns.  Turning a bend in the river,
they discovered five Iroquois boats, just in time to avoid them.  That
night the Frenchman, Larivière, dreamed that he had been captured by
the Mohawks, and he shouted out in such terror that the alarmed Indians
rushed to embark.  The next day they again came on the trail of
Iroquois.  The frightened Indians from the Upper Country shouldered
their canoes and dashed through the woods.  Larivière could not keep up
and was afraid to go back from the river lest he should lose his
bearings.  Fighting his way over windfall and rock, he sank exhausted
and fell asleep.  Far ahead of the Iroquois boats the Upper Country
Indians came together again.  The Frenchman was nowhere to be found.
It was dark.  The Indians would not wait to search.  Radisson and
Groseillers dared not turn back to face the irate governor.  Larivière
was abandoned.  Two weeks afterwards some French hunters found him
lying on the rocks almost dead from starvation.  He was sent back to
Three Rivers, where D'Avaugour had him imprisoned.  This outrage the
inhabitants of Three Rivers resented.  They forced the jail and rescued

Three days after the loss of Larivière Radisson and Groseillers caught
up with seven more canoes of Indians from the Upper Country.  The union
of the two bands was just in time, for the next day they were set upon
at a _portage_ by the Iroquois.  Ordering the Indians to encase
themselves in bucklers of matting and buffalo hide, Radisson led the
assault on the Iroquois barricade.  Trees were cut down, and the Upper
Indians rushed the rude fort with timbers extemporized into
battering-rams.  In close range of the enemy, Radisson made a curious
discovery.  Frenchmen were directing the Iroquois warriors.  Who had
sent these French to intercept the explorers?  If Radisson suspected
treachery on the part of jealous rivals from Quebec, it must have
redoubled his fury; for the Indians from the Upper Country threw
themselves in the breached barricade with such force that the Iroquois
lost heart and tossed belts of wampum over the stockades to supplicate
peace.  It was almost night.  Radisson's Indians drew off to consider
the terms of peace.  When morning came, behold an empty fort!  The
French renegades had fled with their Indian allies.

[Illustration: Château St. Louis, Quebec, 1669, from one of the oldest
prints in existence.]

Glad to be rid of the first hindrance, the explorers once more sped
north.  In the afternoon, Radisson's scouts ran full tilt into a band
of Iroquois laden with beaver pelts.  The Iroquois were smarting from
their defeat of the previous night; and what was Radisson's amusement
to see his own scouts and the Iroquois running from each other in equal
fright, while the ground between lay strewn with booty!  Radisson
rushed his Indians for the waterside to intercept the Iroquois' flight.
The Iroquois left their boats and swam for the opposite shore, where
they threw up the usual barricade and entrenched themselves to shoot on
Radisson's passing canoes.  Using the captured beaver pelts as shields,
the Upper Indians ran the gantlet of the Iroquois fire with the loss of
only one man.

The slightest defeat may turn well-ordered retreat into panic.  If the
explorers went on, the Iroquois would hang to the rear of the
travelling Indians and pick off warriors till the Upper Country people
became so weakened they would fall an easy prey.  Not flight, but
fight, was Radisson's motto.  He ordered his men ashore to break up the
barricade.  Darkness fell over the forest.  The Iroquois could not see
to fire.  "They spared not their powder," relates Radisson, "but they
made more noise than hurt."  Attaching a fuse to a barrel of powder,
Radisson threw this over into the Iroquois fort.  The crash of the
explosion was followed by a blaze of the Iroquois musketry that killed
three of Radisson's men.  Radisson then tore the bark off a birch tree,
filled the bole with powder, and in the darkness crept close to the
Iroquois barricade and set fire to the logs.  Red tongues of fire
leaped up, there was a roar as of wind, and the Iroquois fort was on
fire.  Radisson's men dashed through the fire, hatchet in hand.  The
Iroquois answered with their death chant.  Friend and foe merged in the
smoke and darkness.  "We could not know one another in that skirmish of
blows," says Radisson.  "There was noise to terrify the stoutest man."
In the midst of the mêlée a frightful storm of thunder and sheeted rain
rolled over the forest.  "To my mind," writes the disgusted Radisson,
"that was something extraordinary.  I think the Devil himself sent that
storm to let those wretches escape, so that they might destroy more
innocents."  The rain put out the fire.  As soon as the storm had
passed, Radisson kindled torches to search for the missing.  Three of
his men were slain, seven wounded.  Of the enemy, eleven lay dead, five
were prisoners.  The rest of the Iroquois had fled to the forest.  The
Upper Indians burned their prisoners according to their custom, and the
night was passed in mad orgies to celebrate the victory.  "The sleep we
took did not make our heads giddy," writes Radisson.

The next day they encountered more Iroquois.  Both sides at once began
building forts; but when he could, Radisson always avoided war.  Having
gained victory enough to hold the Iroquois in check, he wanted no
massacre.  That night he embarked his men noiselessly; and never once
stopping to kindle camp-fire, they paddled from Friday night to Tuesday
morning.  The _portages _over rocks in the dark cut the _voyageurs'_
moccasins to shreds.  Every landing was marked with the blood of
bruised feet.  Sometimes they avoided leaving any trace of themselves
by walking in the stream, dragging their boats along the edge of the
rapids.  By Tuesday the Indians were so fagged that they could go no
farther without rest.  Canoes were moored in the hiding of the rushes
till the _voyageurs_ slept.  They had been twenty-two days going from
Three Rivers to Lake Nipissing, and had not slept one hour on land.

It was October when they came to Lake Superior.  The forests were
painted in all the glory of autumn, and game abounded.  White fish
appeared under the clear, still waters of the lake like shoals of
floating metal; bears were seen hulking away from the watering places
of sandy shores; and wild geese whistled overhead.  After the terrible
dangers of the voyage, with scant sleep and scanter fare, the country
seemed, as Radisson says, a terrestrial paradise.  The Indians gave
solemn thanks to their gods of earth and forest, "and we," writes
Radisson, "to the God of gods."  Indian summer lay on the land.
November found the explorers coasting the south shore of Lake Superior.
They passed the Island of Michilimackinac with its stone arches.
Radisson heard from the Indians of the copper mines.  He saw the
pictured rocks that were to become famous for beauty.  "I gave it the
name of St. Peter because that was my name and I was the first
Christian to see it," he writes of the stone arch.  "There were in
these places very deep caves, caused by the violence of the waves."
Jesuits had been on the part of Lake Superior near the Sault, and poor
Ménard perished in the forests of Lake Michigan; but Radisson and
Groseillers were the first white men to cruise from south to west and
west to north, where a chain of lakes and waterways leads from the
Minnesota lake country to the prairies now known as Manitoba.  Before
the end of November the explorers rounded the western end of Lake
Superior and proceeded northwest.  Radisson records that they came to
great winter encampments of the Crees; and the Crees did not venture
east for fear of Sautaux and Iroquois.  He mentions a river of
Sturgeons, where was a great store of fish.

The Crees wished to conduct the two white men to the wooded lake
region, northwest towards the land of the Assiniboines, where Indian
families took refuge on islands from those tigers of the plains--the
Sioux--who were invincible on horseback but less skilful in canoes.
The rivers were beginning to freeze.  Boats were abandoned; but there
was no snow for snow-shoe travelling, and the explorers were unable to
transport the goods brought for trade.  Bidding the Crees go to their
families and bring back slaves to carry the baggage, Radisson and
Groseillers built themselves the first fort and the first fur post
between the Missouri and the North Pole.  It was evidently somewhere
west of Duluth in either what is now Minnesota or northwestern Ontario.

This fur post was the first habitation of civilization in all the Great
Northwest.  Not the railway, not the cattle trail, not the path of
forward-marching empire purposely hewing a way through the wilderness,
opened the West.  It was the fur trade that found the West.  It was the
fur trade that explored the West.  It was the fur trade that wrested
the West from savagery.  The beginning was in the little fort built by
Radisson and Groseillers.  No great factor in human progress ever had a
more insignificant beginning.

The fort was rushed up by two men almost starving for food.  It was on
the side of a river, built in the shape of a triangle, with the base at
the water side.  The walls were of unbarked logs, the roof of thatched
branches interlaced, with the door at the river side.  In the middle of
the earth floor, so that the smoke would curl up where the branches
formed a funnel or chimney, was the fire.  On the right of the fire,
two hewn logs overlaid with pine boughs made a bed.  On the left,
another hewn log acted as a table.  Jumbled everywhere, hanging from
branches and knobs of branches, were the firearms, clothing, and
merchandise of the two fur traders.  Naturally, a fort two thousand
miles from help needed sentries.  Radisson had not forgotten his
boyhood days of Onondaga.  He strung carefully concealed cords through
the grass and branches around the fort.  To these bells were fastened,
and the bells were the sentries.  The two white men could now sleep
soundly without fear of approach.  This fort, from which sprang the
buoyant, aggressive, prosperous, free life of the Great Northwest, was
founded and built and completed in two days.

The West had begun.[4]

It was a beginning which every Western pioneer was to repeat for the
next two hundred years: first, the log cabins; then, the fight with the
wilderness for food.

Radisson, being the younger, went into the woods to hunt, while
Groseillers kept house.  Wild geese and ducks were whistling south, but
"the whistling that I made," writes Radisson, "was another music than
theirs; for I killed three and scared the rest."  Strange Indians came
through the forest, but were not admitted to the tiny fort, lest
knowledge of the traders' weakness should tempt theft.  Many a night
the explorers were roused by a sudden ringing of the bells or crashing
through the underbrush, to find that wild animals had been attracted by
the smell of meat, and wolverine or wildcat was attempting to tear
through the matted branches of the thatched roof.  The desire for
firearms has tempted Indians to murder many a trader; so Radisson and
Groseillers _cached_ all the supplies that they did not need in a hole
across the river.  News of the two white men alone in the northern
forest spread like wild-fire to the different Sautaux and Ojibway
encampments; and Radisson invented another protection in addition to
the bells.  He rolled gunpowder in twisted tubes of birch bark, and ran
a circle of this round the fort.  Putting a torch to the birch, he
surprised the Indians by displaying to them a circle of fire running
along the ground in a series of jumps.  To the Indians it was magic.
The two white men were engirt with a mystery that defended them from
all harm.  Thus white men passed their first winter in the Great

Toward winter four hundred Crees came to escort the explorers to the
wooded lake region yet farther west towards the land of the
Assiniboines, the modern Manitoba.  "We were Caesars," writes Radisson.
"There was no one to contradict us.  We went away free from any burden,
while those poor miserables thought themselves happy to carry our
equipage in the hope of getting a brass ring, or an awl, or a
needle. . . .  They admired our actions more than the fools of Paris
their king. . . .[5]  They made a great noise, calling us gods and
devils.  We marched four days through the woods.  The country was
beautiful with clear parks.  At last we came within a league of the
Cree cabins, where we spent the night that we might enter the
encampment with pomp the next day.  The swiftest Indians ran ahead to
warn the people of our coming."  Embarking in boats, where the water
was open, the two explorers came to the Cree lodges.  They were
welcomed with shouts.  Messengers marched in front, scattering presents
from the white men,--kettles to call all to a feast of friendship;
knives to encourage the warriors to be brave; swords to signify that
the white men would fight all enemies of the Cree; and abundance of
trinkets--needles and awls and combs and tin mirrors--for the women.
The Indians prostrated themselves as slaves; and the explorers were
conducted to a grand council of welcome.  A feast was held, followed by
a symbolic dance in celebration of the white men's presence.

Their entry to the Great Northwest had been a triumph: but they could
not escape the privations of the explorer's life.  Winter set in with a
severity to make up for the long, late autumn.  Snow fell continuously
till day and night were as one, the sombre forests muffled to silence
with the wild creatures driven for shelter to secret haunts.  Four
hundred men had brought the explorers north.  Allowing an average of
four to each family, there must have been sixteen hundred people in the
encampment of Crees.  To prevent famine, the Crees scattered to the
winter hunting-grounds, arranging to come together again in two months
at a northern rendezvous.  When Radisson and Groseillers came to the
rendezvous, they learned that the gathering hunters had had poor luck.
Food was short.  To make matters worse, heavy rains were followed by
sharp frost.  The snow became iced over, destroying rabbit and grouse,
which feed the large game.  Radisson noticed that the Indians often
snatched food from the hands of hungry children.  More starving Crees
continued to come into camp.  Soon the husbands were taking the wives'
share of food, and the women were subsisting on dried pelts.  The Crees
became too weak to carry their snow-shoes, or to gather wood for fire.
The cries of the dying broke the deathly stillness of the winter
forest; and the strong began to dog the footsteps of the weak.  "Good
God, have mercy on these innocent people," writes Radisson; "have mercy
on us who acknowledge Thee!"  Digging through the snow with their
rackets, some of the Crees got roots to eat.  Others tore the bark from
trees and made a kind of soup that kept them alive.  Two weeks after
the famine set in, the Indians were boiling the pulverized bones of the
waste heap.  After that the only food was the buckskin that had been
tanned for clothing.  "We ate it so eagerly," writes Radisson, "that
our gums did bleed. . . .  We became the image of death."  Before the
spring five hundred Crees had died of famine.  Radisson and Groseillers
scarcely had strength to drag the dead from the tepees.  The Indians
thought that Groseillers had been fed by some fiend, for his heavy,
black beard covered his thin face.  Radisson they loved, because his
beardless face looked as gaunt as theirs.[6]

Relief came with the breaking of the weather.  The rain washed the iced
snows away; deer began to roam; and with the opening of the rivers came
two messengers from the Sioux to invite Radisson and Groseillers to
visit their nation.  The two Sioux had a dog, which they refused to
sell for all Radisson's gifts.  The Crees dared not offend the Sioux
ambassadors by stealing the worthless cur on which such hungry eyes
were cast, but at night Radisson slipped up to the Sioux tepee.  The
dog came prowling out.  Radisson stabbed it so suddenly that it dropped
without a sound.  Hurrying back, he boiled and fed the meat to the
famishing Crees.  When the Sioux returned to their own country, they
sent a score of slaves with food for the starving encampment.  No doubt
Radisson had plied the first messengers with gifts; for the slaves
brought word that thirty picked runners from the Sioux were coming to
escort the white men to the prairie.  To receive their benefactors, and
also, perhaps, to show that they were not defenceless, the Crees at
once constructed a fort; for Cree and Sioux had been enemies from time
immemorial.  In two days came the runners, clad only in short garments,
and carrying bow and quiver.  The Crees led the young braves to the
fort.  Kettles were set out.  Fagged from the long run, the Sioux ate
without a word.  At the end of the meal one rose.  Shooting an arrow
into the air as a sign that he called Deity to witness the truth of his
words, he proclaimed in a loud voice that the elders of the Sioux
nation would arrive next day at the fort to make a treaty with the

The news was no proof of generosity.  The Sioux were the great warriors
of the West.  They knew very well that whoever formed an alliance with
the French would obtain firearms; and firearms meant victory against
all other tribes.  The news set the Crees by the ears.  Warriors
hastened from the forests to defend the fort.  The next day came the
elders of the Sioux in pomp.  They were preceded by the young braves
bearing bows and arrows and buffalo-skin shields on which were drawn
figures portraying victories.  Their hair was turned up in a stiff
crest surmounted by eagle feathers, and their bodies were painted
bright vermilion.  Behind came the elders, with medicine-bags of
rattlesnake skin streaming from their shoulders and long strings of
bears' claws hanging from neck and wrist.  They were dressed in
buckskin, garnished with porcupine quills, and wore moccasins of
buffalo hide, with the hair dangling from the heel.  In the belt of
each was a skull-cracker--a sort of sling stone with a long handle--and
a war-hatchet.  Each elder carried a peace pipe set with precious
stones, and stuck in the stem were the quills of the war eagle to
represent enemies slain.  Women slaves followed, loaded with skins for
the elders' tents.

[Illustration: A parley on the Plains.]

A great fire had been kindled inside the court of the Cree stockades.
Round the pavilion the Sioux elders seated themselves.  First, they
solemnly smoked the calumet of peace.  Then the chief of the Sioux rose
and chanted a song, giving thanks for their safe journey.  Setting
aside gifts of rare beaver pelts, he declared that the Sioux had come
to make friends with the French, who were masters of peace and war;
that the elders would conduct the white men back to the Sioux country;
that the mountains were levelled and the valleys cast up, and the way
made smooth, and branches strewn on the ground for the white men's
feet, and streams bridged, and the doors of the tepees open.  Let the
French come to the Sioux!  The Indians would die for the French.  A
gift was presented to invoke the friendship of the Crees.  Another rich
gift of furs let out the secret of the Sioux' anxiety: it was that the
French might give the Sioux "thunder weapons," meaning guns.

The speech being finished, the Crees set a feast before their guests.
To this feast Radisson and Groseillers came in a style that eclipsed
the Sioux.  Cree warriors marched in front, carrying guns.  Radisson
and Groseillers were dressed in armor.[7]  At their belts they wore
pistol, sword, and dagger.  On their heads were crowns of colored
porcupine quills.  Two pages carried the dishes and spoons to be used
at the feast; and four Cree magicians followed with smoking calumets in
their hands.  Four Indian maids carried bearskins to place on the
ground when the two explorers deigned to sit down.  Inside the fort
more than six hundred councillors had assembled.  Outside were gathered
a thousand spectators.  As Radisson and Groseillers entered, an old
Cree flung a peace pipe at the explorers' feet and sang a song of
thanksgiving to the sun that he had lived to see "those terrible men
whose words (guns) made the earth quake."  Stripping himself of his
costly furs, he placed them on the white men's shoulders, shouting: "Ye
are masters over us; dead or alive, dispose of us as you will."

Then Radisson rose and chanted a song, in which he declared that the
French took the Crees for brethren and would defend them.  To prove his
words, he threw powder in the fire and had twelve guns shot off, which
frightened the Sioux almost out of their senses.  A slave girl placed a
coal in the calumet.  Radisson then presented gifts; the first to
testify that the French adopted the Sioux for friends; the second as a
token that the French also took the Crees for friends; the third as a
sign that the French "would reduce to powder with heavenly fire" any
one who disturbed the peace between these tribes.  The fourth gift was
in grateful recognition of the Sioux' courtesy in granting free passage
through their country.  The gifts consisted of kettles and hatchets and
awls and needles and looking-glasses and bells and combs and paint, but
_not_ guns.  Radisson's speech was received with "Ho, ho's" of
applause.  Sports began.  Radisson offered prizes for racing, jumping,
shooting with the bow, and climbing a greased post.  All the while,
musicians were singing and beating the tom-tom, a drum made of buffalo
hide stretched on hoops and filled with water.

Fourteen days later Radisson and Groseillers set out for the Sioux
country, or what are now known as the Northwestern states.[8]  On the
third voyage Radisson came to the Sioux from the south.  On this
voyage, he came to them from the northeast.  He found that the tribe
numbered seven thousand men of fighting age.  He remarked that the
Sioux used a kind of coke or peat for fire instead of wood.  While he
heard of the tribes that used coal for fire, he does not relate that he
went to them on this trip.  Again he heard of the mountains far inland,
where the Indians found copper and lead and a kind of stone that was
transparent.[9]  He remained six weeks with the Sioux, hunting buffalo
and deer.  Between the Missouri and the Saskatchewan ran a well-beaten
trail northeastward, which was used by the Crees and the Sioux in their
wars.  It is probable that the Sioux escorted Radisson back to the
Crees by this trail, till he was across what is now the boundary
between Minnesota and Canada, and could strike directly eastward for
the Lake of the Woods region, or the hinterland between James Bay and
Lake Superior.

In spring the Crees went to the Bay of the North, which Radisson was
seeking; and after leaving the Sioux, the two explorers struck for the
little fort north of Lake Superior, where they had _cached_ their
goods.  Spring in the North was later than spring in the South; but the
shore ice of the Northern lakes had already become soft.  To save time
they cut across the lakes of Minnesota, dragging their sleighs on the
ice.  Groseillers' sleigh was loaded with pelts obtained from the
Sioux, and the elder man began to fag.  Radisson took the heavy sleigh,
giving Groseillers the lighter one.  About twelve miles out from the
shore, on one of these lakes, the ice suddenly gave, and Radisson
plunged through to his waist.  It was as dangerous to turn back as to
go on.  If they deserted their merchandise, they would have nothing to
trade with the Indians; but when Radisson succeeded in extricating
himself, he was so badly strained that he could not go forward another
step.  There was no sense in risking both their lives on the rotten
ice.  He urged Groseillers to go on.  Groseillers dared not hesitate.
Laying two sleds as a wind-break on each side of Radisson, he covered
the injured man with robes, consigned him to the keeping of God, and
hurried over the ice to obtain help from the Crees.

The Crees got Radisson ashore, and there he lay in agony for eight
days.  The Indians were preparing to set out for the North.  They
invited Radisson to go with them.  His sprain had not healed; but he
could not miss the opportunity of approaching the Bay of the North.
For two days he marched with the hunters, enduring torture at every
step.  The third day he could go no farther and they deserted him.
Groseillers had gone hunting with another band of Crees.  Radisson had
neither gun nor hatchet, and the Indians left him only ten pounds of
pemmican.  After a short rest he journeyed painfully on, following the
trail of the marching Crees.  On the fifth day he found the frame of a
deserted wigwam.  Covering it with branches of trees and kindling a
fire to drive off beasts of prey, he crept in and lay down to sleep.
He was awakened by a crackling of flame.  The fire had caught the pine
boughs and the tepee was in a blaze.  Radisson flung his snow-shoes and
clothing as far as he could, and broke from the fire-trap.
Half-dressed and lame, shuddering with cold and hunger, he felt through
the dark over the snow for his clothing.  A far cry rang through the
forest like the bay of the wolf pack.  Radisson kept solitary watch
till morning, when he found that the cry came from Indians sent out to
find him by Groseillers.  He was taken to an encampment, where the
Crees were building canoes to go to the Bay of the North.

The entire band, with the two explorers, then launched on the rivers
flowing north.  "We were in danger to perish a thousand times from the
ice jam," writes Radisson.  ". . .  At last we came full sail from a
deep bay . . . we came to the seaside, where we found an old house all
demolished and battered with bullets. . . .  They (the Crees) told us
about Europeans. . . .  We went from isle to isle all that
summer. . . .  This region had a great store of cows (caribou). . . .
We went farther to see the place that the Indians were to pass the
summer. . . .  The river (where they went) came from the lake that
empties itself in . . . the Saguenay . . . a hundred leagues from the
great river of Canada (the St. Lawrence) . . . to where we were in the
Bay of the North. . . .  We passed the summer quietly coasting the
seaside. . . .  The people here burn not their prisoners, but knock
them on the head. . . .  They have a store of turquoise. . . .  They
find green stones, very fine, at the same Bay of the Sea
(labradorite). . . .  We went up another river to the Upper Lake
(Winnipeg)." [10]

For years the dispute has been waged with zeal worthy of a better cause
whether Radisson referred to Hudson Bay in this passage.  The French
claim that he did; the English that he did not.  "The house demolished
with bullets" was probably an old trading post, contend the English;
but there was no trading post except Radisson's west of Lake Superior
at that time, retort the French.  By "cows" Radisson meant buffalo, and
no buffalo were found as far east as Hudson Bay, say the English; by
"cows" Radisson meant caribou and deer, and herds of these frequented
the shores of Hudson Bay, answer the French.  No river comes from the
Saguenay to Hudson Bay, declare the English; yes, but a river comes
from the direction of the Saguenay, and was followed by subsequent
explorers, assert the French.[11]  The stones of turquoise and green
were agates from Lake Superior, explain the English; the stones were
labradorites from the east coast of the Bay, maintain the French.  So
the childish quarrel has gone on for two centuries.  England and France
alike conspired to crush the man while he lived; and when he died they
quarrelled over the glory of his discoveries.  The point is not whether
Radisson actually wet his oars in the different indentations of Hudson
and James bays.  The point is that he found where it lay from the Great
Lakes, and discovered the watershed sloping north from the Great Lakes
to Hudson Bay.  This was new ground, and entitled Radisson to the fame
of a discoverer.

From the Indians of the bay, Radisson heard of another lake leagues to
the north, whose upper end was always frozen.  This was probably some
vague story of the lakes in the region that was to become known two
centuries later as Mackenzie River.  The spring of 1663 found the
explorers back in the Lake of the Woods region accompanied by seven
hundred Indians of the Upper Country.  The company filled three hundred
and sixty canoes.  Indian girls dived into the lake to push the canoes
off, and stood chanting a song of good-speed till the boats had glided
out of sight through the long, narrow, rocky gaps of the Lake of the
Woods.  At Lake Superior the company paused to lay up a supply of
smoked sturgeon.  At the Sault four hundred Crees turned back.  The
rest of the Indians hoisted blankets on fishing-poles, and, with a west
wind, scudded across Lake Huron to Lake Nipissing.  From Lake Nipissing
they rode safely down the Ottawa to Montreal.  Cannon were fired to
welcome the discoverers, for New France was again on the verge of
bankruptcy from a beaver famine.

A different welcome awaited them at Quebec.  D'Argenson, the governor,
was about to leave for France, and nothing had come of the Jesuit
expedition up the Saguenay.  He had already sent Couture, for a second
time, overland to find a way to Hudson Bay; but no word had come from
Couture, and the governor's time was up.  The explorers had disobeyed
him in leaving without his permission.  Their return with a fortune of
pelts was the salvation of the impecunious governor.  From 1627 to 1663
five distinct fur companies, organized under the patronage of royalty,
had gone bankrupt in New France.[12]  Therefore, it became a loyal
governor to protect his Majesty's interests.  Besides, the revenue
collectors could claim one-fourth of all returns in beaver except from
posts farmed expressly for the king.  No sooner had Radisson and
Groseillers come home than D'Argenson ordered Groseillers imprisoned.
He then fined the explorers $20,000, to build a fort at Three Rivers,
giving them leave to put their coats-of-arms on the gate; a $30,000
fine was to go to the public treasury of New France; $70,000 worth of
beaver was seized as the tax due the revenue.  Of a cargo worth
$300,000 in modern money, Radisson and Groseillers had less than
$20,000 left.[13]

Had D'Argenson and his successors encouraged instead of persecuted the
discoverers, France could have claimed all North America but the narrow
strip of New England on the east and the Spanish settlements on the
south.  Having repudiated Radisson and Groseillers, France could not
claim the fruits of deeds which she punished.[14]

[1] The childish dispute whether Bourdon sailed into the bay and up to
its head, or only to 50 degrees N. latitude, does not concern
Radisson's life, and, therefore, is ignored.  One thing I can state
with absolute certainty from having been up the coast of Labrador in a
most inclement season, that Bourdon could not possibly have gone to and
back from the inner waters of Hudson Bay between May 2 and August 11.
J. Edmond Roy and Mr. Sulte both pronounce Bourdon a myth, and his trip
a fabrication.

[2] "Shame put upon them," says Radisson.  Ménard did _not_ go out with
Radisson and Groseillers, as is erroneously recorded.

[3] I have purposely avoided stating whether Radisson went by way of
Lake Ontario or the Ottawa.  Dr. Dionne thinks that he went by Ontario
and Niagara because Radisson refers to vast waterfalls under which a
man could walk.  Radisson gives the height of these falls as forty
feet.  Niagara are nearer three hundred; and the Chaudière of the
Ottawa would answer Radisson's description better, were it not that he
says a man could go under the falls for a quarter of a mile.  "The Lake
of the Castors" plainly points to Lake Nipissing.

[4] The two main reasons why I think that Radisson and Groseillers were
now moving up that chain of lakes and rivers between Minnesota and
Canada, connecting Lake of the Woods with Lake Winnipeg, are: (1)
Oldmixon says it was the report of the Assiniboine Indians from Lake
Assiniboine (Lake Winnipeg) that led Radisson to seek for the Bay of
the North overland.  These Assiniboines did not go to the bay by way of
Lake Superior, but by way of Lake Winnipeg.  (2) A mémoire written by
De la Chesnaye in 1696--see _Documents Nouvelle France_,
1492-1712--distinctly refers to a _coureur's_ trail from Lake Superior
to Lake Assiniboine or Lake Winnipeg.  There is no record of any
Frenchmen but Radisson and Groseillers having followed such a trail to
the land of the Assiniboines--the Manitoba of to-day--before 1676.

[5] One can guess that a man who wrote in that spirit two centuries
before the French Revolution would not be a sycophant in
courts,--which, perhaps, helps to explain the conspiracy of silence
that obscured Radisson's fame.

[6] My reason for thinking that this region was farther north than
Minnesota is the size of the Cree winter camp; but I have refrained
from trying to localize this part of the trip, except to say it was
west and north of Duluth.  Some writers recognize in the description
parts of Minnesota, others the hinterland between Lake Superior and
James Bay.  In the light of the _mémoire_ of 1696 sent to the French
government, I am unable to regard this itinerary as any other than the
famous fur traders' trail between Lake Superior and Lake Winnipeg by
way of Sturgeon River and the Lake of the Woods.

[7] _Radisson Relations_, p. 207.

[8] We are now on safe ground.  There was a well-known trail from what
is now known as the Rat Portage region to the great Sioux camps west of
the Mississippi and Red River valleys.  But again I refuse to lay
myself open to controversy by trying definitely to give either the
dates or exact places of this trip.

[9] If any proof is wanted that Radisson's journeyings took him far
west of the Mississippi, these details afford it.

[10] _Radisson's Journal_, pp. 224, 225, 226.

[11] Mr. A. P. Low, who has made the most thorough exploration of
Labrador and Hudson Bay of any man living, says, "Rupert River forms
the discharge of the Mistassini lakes . . . and empties into Rupert Bay
close to the mouth of the Nottoway River, and rises in a number of
lakes close to the height of land dividing it from the St. Maurice
River, which joins the St. Lawrence at Three Rivers."

[12] _Les Compagnies de Colonisation sous l'ancien régime_, by

[13] Oldmixon says: "Radisson and Groseillers met with some savages on
the Lake of Assiniboin, and from them they learned that they might go
by land to the bottom of Hudson's Bay, where the English had not been
yet, at James Bay; upon which they desired them to conduct them
thither, and the savages accordingly did it.  They returned to the
Upper Lake the same way they came, and thence to Quebec, where they
offered the principal merchants to carry ships to Hudson's Bay; but
their project was rejected."  Vol. I, p. 548.  Radisson's figures are
given as "pounds "; but by "_L_" did he mean English "pound" or French
livre, that is 17 cents?  A franc in 1660 equalled the modern dollar.

[14] The exact tribes mentioned in the _Mémoire of 1696_, with whom the
French were in trade in the West are: On the "Missoury" and south of
it, the Mascoutins and Sioux; two hundred miles beyond the "Missisipy"
the Issaguy, the Octbatons, the Omtous, of whom were Sioux capable of
mustering four thousand warriors, south of Lake Superior, the Sauteurs,
on "Sipisagny, the river which is the discharge of Lake Asemipigon"
(Winnipeg), the "Nation of the Grand Rat," Algonquins numbering two
thousand, who traded with the English of Hudson Bay, De la Chesnaye
adds in his mémoire details of the trip from Lake Superior to the lake
of the Assiniboines.  Knowing what close co-workers he and Radisson
were, we can guess where he got his information.




Rival Traders thwart the Plans of the Discoverers--Entangled in
Lawsuits, the two French Explorers go to England--The Organization of
the Hudson's Bay Fur Company--Radisson the Storm-centre of
International Intrigue--Boston Merchants in the Struggle to capture the
Fur Trade

Henceforth Radisson and Groseillers were men without a country.  Twice
their return from the North with cargoes of beaver had saved New France
from ruin.  They had discovered more of America than all the other
explorers combined.  Their reward was jealous rivalry that reduced them
to beggary; injustice that compelled them to renounce allegiance to two
crowns; obloquy during a lifetime; and oblivion for two centuries after
their death.  The very force of unchecked impulse that carries the hero
over all obstacles may also carry him over the bounds of caution and
compromise that regulate the conduct of other men.  This was the case
with Radisson and Groseillers.  They were powerless to resist the
extortion of the French governor.  The Company of One Hundred
Associates had given place to the Company of the West Indies.  This
trading venture had been organized under the direct patronage of the
king.[1]  It had been proclaimed from the pulpits of France.
Privileges were promised to all who subscribed for the stock.  The
Company was granted a blank list of titles to bestow on its patrons and
servants.  No one else in New France might engage in the beaver trade;
no one else might buy skins from the Indians and sell the pelts in
Europe; and one-fourth of the trade went for public revenue.  In spite
of all the privileges, fur company after fur company failed in New
France; but to them Radisson had to sell his furs, and when the revenue
officers went over the cargo, the minions of the governor also seized a
share under pretence of a fine for trading without a license.

Groseillers was furious, and sailed for France to demand restitution;
but the intriguing courtiers proved too strong for him.  Though he
spent 10,000 pounds, nothing was done.  D'Avaugour had come back to
France, and stockholders of the jealous fur company were all-powerful
at court.  Groseillers then relinquished all idea of restitution, and
tried to interest merchants in another expedition to Hudson Bay by way
of the sea.[2]  He might have spared himself the trouble.  His
enthusiasm only aroused the quiet smile of supercilious indifference.
His plans were regarded as chimerical.  Finally a merchant of Rochelle
half promised to send a boat to Isle Percée at the mouth of the St.
Lawrence in 1664.  Groseillers had already wasted six months.  Eager
for action, he hurried back to Three Rivers, where Radisson awaited
him.  The two secretly took passage in a fishing schooner to Anticosti,
and from Anticosti went south to Isle Percée.  Here a Jesuit just out
from France bore the message to them that no ship would come.  The
promise had been a put-off to rid France of the enthusiast.  New France
had treated them with injustice.  Old France with mockery.  Which way
should they turn?  They could not go back to Three Rivers.  This
attempt to go to Hudson Bay without a license laid them open to a
second fine.  Baffled, but not beaten, the explorers did what
ninety-nine men out of a hundred would have done in similar
circumstances--they left the country.  Some rumor of their intention to
abandon New France must have gone abroad; for when they reached Cape
Breton, their servants grumbled so loudly that a mob of Frenchmen
threatened to burn the explorers.  Dismissing their servants, Radisson
and Groseillers escaped to Port Royal, Nova Scotia.

[Illustration: Martello Tower of Refuge in Time of Indian Wars--Three

In Port Royal they met a sea-captain from Boston, Zechariah Gillam, who
offered his ship for a voyage to Hudson Bay, but the season was far
spent when they set out.  Captain Gillam was afraid to enter the
ice-locked bay so late in summer.  The boat turned back, and the trip
was a loss.  This run of ill-luck had now lasted for a year.  They
still had some money from the Northern trips, and they signed a
contract with ship-owners of Boston to take two vessels to Hudson Bay
the following spring.  Provisions must be laid up for the long voyage.
One of the ships was sent to the Grand Banks for fish.  Rounding
eastward past the crescent reefs of Sable Island, the ship was caught
by the beach-combers and totally wrecked on the drifts of sand.
Instead of sailing for Hudson Bay in the spring of 1665, Radisson and
Groseillers were summoned to Boston to defend themselves in a lawsuit
for the value of the lost vessel.  They were acquitted; but lawsuits on
the heels of misfortune exhausted the resources of the adventurers.
The exploits of the two Frenchmen had become the sensation of Boston.
Sir Robert Carr, one of the British commissioners then in the New
England colonies, urged Radisson and Groseillers to renounce allegiance
to a country that had shown only ingratitude, and to come to
England.[3]  When Sir George Cartwright sailed from Nantucket on August
1, 1665, he was accompanied by Radisson and Groseillers.[4]  Misfortune
continued to dog them.  Within a few days' sail of England, their ship
encountered the Dutch cruiser _Caper_.  For two hours the ships poured
broadsides of shot into each other's hulls.  The masts were torn from
the English vessel.  She was boarded and stripped, and the Frenchmen
were thoroughly questioned.  Then the captives were all landed in
Spain.  Accompanied by the two Frenchmen, Sir George Cartwright
hastened to England early in 1666.  The plague had driven the court
from London to Oxford.  Cartwright laid the plans of the explorers
before Charles II.  The king ordered 40s. a week paid to Radisson and
Groseillers for the winter.  They took chambers in London.  Later they
followed the court to Windsor, where they were received by King Charles.

The English court favored the project of trade in Hudson Bay, but
during the Dutch war nothing could be done.  The captain of the Dutch
ship _Caper_ had sent word of the French explorers to De Witt, the
great statesman.  De Witt despatched a spy from Picardy, France, one
Eli Godefroy Touret, who chanced to know Groseillers, to meet the
explorers in London.  Masking as Groseillers' nephew, Touret tried to
bribe both men to join the Dutch.  Failing this, he attempted to
undermine their credit with the English by accusing Radisson and
Groseillers of counterfeiting money; but the English court refused to
be deceived, and Touret was imprisoned.  Owing to the plague and the
war, two years passed without the vague promises of the English court
taking shape.  Montague, the English ambassador to France, heard of the
explorers' feats, and wrote to Prince Rupert.  Prince Rupert was a
soldier of fortune, who could enter into the spirit of the explorers.
He had fought on the losing side against Cromwell, and then taken to
the high seas to replenish broken fortunes by piracy.  The wealth of
the beaver trade appealed to him.  He gave all the influence of his
_prestige_ to the explorers' plans.  By the spring of 1668 money enough
had been advanced to fit out two boats for Hudson Bay.  In the _Eagle_,
with Captain Stannard, went Radisson; in the _Nonsuch_, with Captain
Zechariah Gillam of Boston, went Groseillers.  North of Ireland furious
gales drove the ships apart.  Radisson's vessel was damaged and driven
back to London; but his year was not wasted.  It is likely that the
account of his first voyages was written while Groseillers was away.[5]
Sometime during his stay in London he married Mary Kirke, a daughter of
the Huguenot John Kirke, whose family had long ago gone from Boston and
captured Quebec.

Gillam's journal records that the _Nonsuch_ left Gravesend the 3d of
June, 1668, reached Resolution Island on August 4, and came to anchor
at the south of James Bay on September 29.[6]  It was here that
Radisson had come overland five years before, when he thought that he
discovered a river flowing from the direction of the St. Lawrence.  The
river was Nemisco.  Groseillers called it Rupert in honor of his
patron.  A palisaded fort was at once built, and named King Charles
after the English monarch.  By December, the bay was locked in the
deathly silence of northern frost.  Snow fell till the air became
darkened day after day, a ceaseless fall of muffling snow; the
earth--as Gillam's journal says--"seemed frozen to death."  Gillam
attended to the fort, Groseillers to the trade.  Dual command was bound
to cause a clash.  By April, 1669, the terrible cold had relaxed.  The
ice swept out of the river with a roar.  Wild fowl came winging north
in myriad flocks.  By June the fort was sweltering in almost tropical
heat.  The _Nonsuch_ hoisted anchor and sailed for England, loaded to
the water-line with a cargo of furs.  Honors awaited Groseillers in
London.  King Charles created him a _Knight de la Jarretière_, an order
for princes of the royal blood.[7]  In addition, he was granted a sum
of money.  Prince Rupert and Radisson had, meanwhile, been busy
organizing a fur company.  The success of Groseillers' voyage now
assured this company a royal charter, which was granted in May, 1670.
Such was the origin of the Hudson's Bay Company.  Prince Rupert was its
first governor; Charles Bayly was appointed resident governor on the
bay.  Among the first shareholders were Prince Rupert, the Duke of
York, Sir George Cartwright, the Duke of Albermarle, Shaftesbury, Sir
Peter Colleton, who had advanced Radisson a loan during the long period
of waiting, and Sir John Kirke, whose daughter had married Radisson.

That spring, Radisson and Groseillers again sailed for the bay.  In
1671, three ships were sent out from England, and Radisson established
a second post westward at Moose.  With Governor Bayly, he sailed up and
met the Indians at what was to become the great fur capital of the
north, Port Nelson, or York.  The third year of the company's
existence, Radisson and Groseillers perceived a change.  Not so many
Indians came down to the English forts to trade.  Those who came brought
fewer pelts and demanded higher prices.  Rivals had been at work.  The
English learned that the French had come overland and were paying high
prices to draw the Indians from the bay.  In the spring a council was
held.[8]  Should they continue on the east side of the bay, or move
west, where there would be no rivalry?  Groseillers boldly counselled
moving inland and driving off French competition.  Bayly was for moving
west.  He even hinted that Groseillers' advice sprang from disloyalty
to the English.  The clash that was inevitable from divided command was
this time avoided by compromise.  They would all sail west, and all
come back to Rupert's River.  When they returned, they found that the
English ensign had been torn down and the French flag raised.[9]  A
veteran Jesuit missionary of the Saguenay, Charles Albanel, two French
companions, and some Indian guides had ensconced themselves in the
empty houses.[10]  The priest now presented Governor Bayly with letters
from Count Frontenac commending the French to the good offices of
Governor Bayly.[11]

France had not been idle.

When it was too late, the country awakened to the injustice done
Radisson and Groseillers.  While Radisson was still in Boston, all
restrictions were taken from the beaver trade, except the tax of
one-fourth to the revenue.  The Jesuit Dablon, who was near the western
end of Lake Superior, gathered all the information he could from the
Indians of the way to the Sea of the North.  Father Marquette learned
of the Mississippi from the Indians.  The Western tribes had been
summoned to the Sault, where Sieur de Saint-Lusson met them in treaty
for the French; and the French flag was raised in the presence of Père
Claude Allouez, who blessed the ceremony.  M. Colbert sent instructions
to M. Talon, the intendant of New France, to grant titles of nobility
to Groseillers' nephew in order to keep him in the country.[12]  On the
Saguenay was a Jesuit, Charles Albanel, loyal to the French and of
English birth, whose devotion to the Indians during the small-pox
scourge of 1670 had given him unbounded influence.  Talon, the
intendant of New France, was keen to retrieve in the North what
D'Argenson's injustice had lost.  Who could be better qualified to go
overland to Hudson Bay than the old missionary, loyal to France, of
English birth, and beloved by the Indians?  Albanel was summoned to
Quebec and gladly accepted the commission.  He chose for companions
Saint-Simon and young Couture, the son of the famous guide to the
Jesuits.  The company left Quebec on August 6, 1671, and secured a
guide at Tadoussac.  Embarking in canoes, they ascended the shadowy
cañon of the Saguenay to Lake St. John.  On the 7th of September they
left the forest of Lake St. John and mounted the current of a winding
river, full of cataracts and rapids, toward Mistassini.  On this stream
they met Indians who told them that two European vessels were on Hudson
Bay.  The Indians showed Albanel tobacco which they had received from
the English.

It seemed futile to go on a voyage of discovery where English were
already in possession.  The priest sent one of the Frenchmen and two
Indians back to Quebec for passports and instructions.  What the
instructions were can only be guessed by subsequent developments.  The
messengers left the depth of the forest on the 19th of September, and
had returned from Quebec by the 10th of October.  Snow was falling.
The streams had frozen, and the Indians had gone into camp for the
winter.  Going from wigwam to wigwam through the drifted forest. Father
Albanel passed the winter preaching to the savages.  Skins of the chase
were laid on the wigwams.  Against the pelts, snow was banked to close
up every chink.  Inside, the air was blue with smoke and the steam of
the simmering kettle.  Indian hunters lay on the moss floor round the
central fires.  Children and dogs crouched heterogeneously against the
sloping tent walls.  Squaws plodded through the forest, setting traps
and baiting the fish-lines that hung through airholes of the thick ice.
In these lodges Albanel wintered.  He was among strange Indians and
suffered incredible hardships.  Where there was room, he, too, sat
crouched under the crowded tent walls, scoffed at by the braves, teased
by the unrebuked children, eating when the squaws threw waste food to
him, going hungry when his French companions failed to bring in game.
Sometimes night overtook him on the trail.  Shovelling a bed through
the snow to the moss with his snow-shoes, piling shrubs as a
wind-break, and kindling a roaring fire, the priest passed the night
under the stars.

When spring came, the Indians opposed his passage down the river.  A
council was called.  Albanel explained that his message was to bring
the Indians down to Quebec and keep them from going to the English for
trade.  The Indians, who had acted as middlemen between Quebec traders
and the Northern tribes, saw the advantage of undermining the English
trade.  Gifts were presented by the Frenchmen, and the friendship of
the Indians was secured.  On June 1, 1672, sixteen savages embarked
with the three Frenchmen.  For the next ten days, the difficulties were
almost insurmountable.  The river tore through a deep gorge of sheer
precipices which the _voyageurs_ could pass only by clinging to the
rock walls with hands and feet.  One _portage_ was twelve miles long
over a muskeg of quaking moss that floated on water.  At every step the
travellers plunged through to their waists.  Over this the long canoes
and baggage had to be carried.  On the 10th of June they reached the
height of land that divides the waters of Hudson Bay from the St.
Lawrence.  The watershed was a small plateau with two lakes, one of
which emptied north, the other, south.  As they approached Lake
Mistassini, the Lake Indians again opposed their free passage down the

"You must wait," they said, "till we notify the elders of your coming."
Shortly afterwards, the French met a score of canoes with the Indians
all painted for war.  The idea of turning back never occurred to the
priest.  By way of demonstrating his joy at meeting the warriors, he
had ten volleys of musketry fired off, which converted the war into a
council of peace.  At the assemblage, Albanel distributed gifts to the

"Stop trading with the English at the sea," he cried; "they do not pray
to God; come to Lake St. John with your furs; there you will always
find a _robe noire_ to instruct you and baptize you."

The treaty was celebrated by a festival and a dance.  In the morning,
after solemn religious services, the French embarked.  On the 18th of
June they came to Lake Mistassini, an enormous body of water similar to
the Great Lakes.[13]  From Mistassini, the course was down-stream and
easier.  High water enabled them to run many of the rapids; and on the
28th of June, after a voyage of eight hundred leagues, four hundred
rapids, and two hundred waterfalls, they came to the deserted houses of
the English.  The very next day they found the Indians and held
religious services, making solemn treaty, presenting presents, and
hoisting the French flag.  For the first three weeks of July they
coasted along the shores of James Bay, taking possession of the country
in the name of the French king.  Then they cruised back to King Charles
Fort on Rupert's River.[14]  They were just in time to meet the
returned Englishmen.

Governor Bayly of the Hudson's Bay Company was astounded to find the
French at Rupert's River.  Now he knew what had allured the Indians
from the bay, but he hardly relished finding foreigners in possession
of his own fort.  The situation required delicate tact.  Governor Bayly
was a bluff tradesman with an insular dislike of Frenchmen and
Catholics common in England at a time when bigoted fanaticism ran riot.
King Charles was on friendly terms with France.  Therefore, the
Jesuit's passport must be respected; so Albanel was received with at
least a show of courtesy.  But Bayly was the governor of a fur company;
and the rights of the company must be respected.  To make matters
worse, the French voyageurs brought letters to Groseillers and Radisson
from their relatives in Quebec.  Bayly, no doubt, wished the Jesuit
guest far enough.  Albanel left in a few weeks.  Then Bayly's
suspicions blazed out in open accusations that the two French explorers
had been playing a double game and acting against English interests.
In September came the company ship to the fort with Captain Gillam, who
had never agreed with Radisson from the time that they had quarrelled
about going from Port Royal to the straits of Hudson Bay.  It has been
said that, at this stage, Radisson and Groseillers, feeling the
prejudice too strong against them, deserted and passed overland through
the forests to Quebec.  The records of the Hudson's Bay Company do not
corroborate this report.  Bayly in the heat of his wrath sent home
accusations with the returning ship.  The ship that came out in 1674
requested Radisson to go to England and report.  This he did, and so
completely refuted the charges of disloyalty that in 1675 the company
voted him 100 pounds a year; but Radisson would not sit quietly in
England on a pension.  Owing to hostility toward him among the English
employees of the company, he could not go back to the bay.  Meantime he
had wife and family and servants to maintain on 100 pounds a year.  If
England had no more need of him, France realized the fact that she had.
Debts were accumulating.  Restless as a caged tiger, Radisson found
himself baffled until a message came from the great Colbert of France,
offering to pay all his debts and give him a position in the French
navy.  His pardon was signed and proclaimed.  In 1676, France granted
him fishing privileges on the island of Anticosti; but the lodestar of
the fur trade still drew him, for that year he was called to Quebec to
meet a company of traders conferring on the price of beaver.[15]  In
that meeting assembled, among others, Jolliet, La Salle, Groseillers,
and Radisson--men whose names were to become immortal.

It was plain that the two adventurers could not long rest.[16]

[1] Chailly-Bert.

[2] The Jesuit expeditions of Dablon and Dreuillettes in 1661 had
failed to reach the bay overland.  Cabot had coasted Labrador in 1497;
Captain Davis had gone north of Hudson Bay in 1585-1587; Hudson had
lost his life there in 1610.  Sir Thomas Button had explored Baffin's
Land, Nelson River, and the Button Islands in 1612; Munck, the Dane,
had found the mouth of the Churchill River in 1619, James and Fox had
explored the inland sea in 1631; Shapley had brought a ship up from
Boston in 1640; and Bourdon, the Frenchman, had gone up to the straits
in 1656-1657.

[3] George Carr, writing to Lord Arlington on December 14, 1665, says:
"Hearing some Frenchmen discourse in New England . . . of a great trade
of beaver, and afterward making proof of what they had said, he thought
them the best present he could possibly make his Majesty and persuaded
them to come to England."

[4] Colonel Richard Nicolls, writing on July 31, 1665, says he
"supposes Col. Geo. Cartwright is now at sea."

[5] It plainly could not have been written while _en route_ across the
Atlantic with Sir George Cartwright, for it records events after that

[6] Robson's _Hudson Bay_.

[7] See Dr. N. E. Dionne, also Marie de l'Incarnation, but Sulte
discredits this granting of a title.

[8] See Robson's _Hudson Bay_, containing reference to the journal kept
by Gorst, Bayly's secretary, at Rupert Fort.

[9] See State Papers, Canadian Archives, 1676, January 26, Whitehall:
Memorial of the Hudson Bay Company complaining of Albanel, a Jesuit,
attempting to seduce Radisson and Groseillers from the company's
services; in absence of ships pulling down the British ensign and
tampering with the Indians.

[10] I am inclined to think that Albanel may not have been aware of the
documents which he carried from Quebec to the traders being practically
an offer to bribe Radisson and Groseillers to desert England.  Some
accounts say that Albanel was accompanied by Groseillers' son, but I
find no authority for this.  On the other hand, Albanel does not
mention the Englishmen being present.  Just as Radisson and
Groseillers, ten years before, had taken possession of the old house
battered with bullets, so Albanel took possession of the deserted huts.
Here is what his account says (Cramoisy edition of the _Relations_):
"Le 28 June à peine avions nous avancé un quart de lieue, que nous
rencontrasmes à main gauche dans un petit ruisseau un heu avec ses
agrez de dix ou dou tonneaux, qui portoit le Pavilion Anglois et la
voile latine; delà à la portée du fusil, nous entrasmes dans deux
maisons desertes . . . nous rencontrasmes deux ou trois cabanes et un
chien abandonné. . . ."  His tampering with the Indians was simply the
presentation of gifts to attract them to Quebec.

[11] See State Papers, Canadian Archives: M. Frontenac, the commander
of French (?) king's troops at Hudson Bay, introduces and recommends
Father Albanel.

[12] State Papers, Canadian Archives.

[13] For some years there were sensational reports that Mistassini was
larger than Lake Superior.  Mr. Low, of the Canadian Geological Survey,
in a very exhaustive report, shows this is not so.  Still, the lake
ranks with the large lakes of America.  Mr. Low gives its dimensions as
one hundred miles long and twelve miles wide.

[14] There is a discrepancy in dates here which I leave savants to
worry out.  _Albanel's Relation_ (Cramoisy) is of 1672.  Thomas Gorst,
secretary to Governor Bayly, says that the quarrel took place in 1674.
Oldmixon, who wrote from hearsay, says in 1673.  Robson, who had access
to Hudson's Bay records, says 1676; and I am inclined to think they all
agree.  In a word, Radisson and Groseillers were on bad terms with the
local Hudson's Bay Company governor from the first, and the open
quarrel took place only in 1675.  Considering the bigotry of the times,
the quarrel was only natural.  Bayly was governor, but he could not
take precedence over Radisson and Groseillers.  He was Protestant and
English.  They were Catholics and French.  Besides, they were really at
the English governor's mercy; for they could not go back to Canada
until publicly pardoned by the French king.

[15] State Papers, Canadian Archives, October 20, 1676, Quebec: Report
of proceedings regarding the price of beaver . . . by an ordinance,
October 19, 1676, M. Jacques Duchesneau, Intendant, had called a
meeting of the leading fur traders to consult about fixing the price of
beaver.  There were present, among others, Robert, Cavelier de la
Salle, . . . Charles le Moyne, . . . two Godefroys of Three
Rivers, . . . Groseillers, . . . Jolliet, . . . Pierre Radisson.

[16] Mr. Low's geological report on Labrador contains interesting
particulars of the route followed by Father Albanel.  He speaks of the
gorge and swamps and difficult _portages_ in precisely the same way as
the priest, though Albanel must have encountered the worst possible
difficulties on the route, for he went down so early in the spring.




Though opposed by the Monopolists of Quebec, he secures Ships for a
Voyage to Hudson Bay--Here he encounters a Pirate Ship from Boston and
an English Ship of the Hudson's Bay Company--How he plays his Cards to
win against Both Rivals

A clever man may be a dangerous rival.  Both France and England
recognized this in Radisson.  The Hudson's Bay Company distrusted him
because he was a foreigner.  The fur traders of Quebec were jealous.
The Hudson's Bay Company had offered him a pension of 100 pounds a year
to do nothing.  France had pardoned his secession to England, paid his
debts, and given him a position in the navy, and when the fleet was
wrecked returning from the campaign against Dutch possessions in the
West Indies, the French king advanced money for Radisson to refit
himself; but France distrusted the explorer because he had an English
wife.  All that France and England wanted Radisson to do was to keep
quiet.  What the haughty spirit of Radisson would _not_ do for all the
fortunes which two nations could offer to bribe him--was to keep quiet.
He cared more for the game than the winnings; and the game of sitting
still and drawing a pension for doing nothing was altogether too tame
for Radisson.  Groseillers gave up the struggle and retired for the
time to his family at Three Rivers.  At Quebec, in 1676, Radisson heard
of others everywhere reaping where he had sown.  Jolliet and La Salle
were preparing to push the fur trade of New France westward of the
Great Lakes, where Radisson had penetrated twenty years previously.
Fur traders of Quebec, who organized under the name of the Company of
the North, yearly sent their canoes up the Ottawa, St. Maurice, and
Saguenay to the forests south of Hudson Bay, which Radisson had
traversed.  On the bay itself the English company were entrenched.
North, northwest, and west, Radisson had been the explorer; but the
reward of his labor had been snatched by other hands.

[Illustration: "Skin for Skin," Coat of Arms and Motto, Hudson's Bay

Radisson must have served meritoriously on the fleet, for after the
wreck he was offered the command of a man-of-war; but he asked for a
commission to New France.  From this request there arose complications.
His wife's family, the Kirkes, had held claims against New France from
the days when the Kirkes of Boston had captured Quebec.  These claims
now amounted to 40,000 pounds.  M. Colbert, the great French statesman,
hesitated to give a commission to a man allied by marriage with the
enemies of New France.  Radisson at last learned why preferment had
been denied him.  It was on account of his wife.  Twice Radisson
journeyed to London for Mary Kirke.  Those were times of an easy change
in faith.  Charles II was playing double with Catholics and
Protestants.  The Kirkes were closely attached to the court; and it
was, perhaps, not difficult for the Huguenot wife to abjure
Protestantism and declare herself a convert to the religion of her
husband.  But when Radisson proposed taking her back to France, that
was another matter.  Sir John Kirke forbade his daughter's departure
till the claims of the Kirke family against New France had been paid.
When Radisson returned without his wife, he was reproached by M.
Colbert for disloyalty.  The government refused its patronage to his
plans for the fur trade; but M. Colbert sent him to confer with La
Chesnaye, a prominent fur trader and member of the Council in New
France, who happened to be in Paris at that time.  La Chesnaye had been
sent out to Canada to look after the affairs of a Rouen fur-trading
company.  Soon he became a commissioner of the West Indies Company; and
when the merchants of Quebec organized the Company of the North, La
Chesnaye became a director.  No one knew better than he how bitterly
the monopolists of Quebec would oppose Radisson's plans for a trip to
Hudson Bay; but the prospects were alluring.  La Chesnaye was deeply
involved in the fur trade and snatched at the chance of profits to
stave off the bankruptcy that reduced him to beggary a few years later.
In defiance of the rival companies and independent of those with which
he was connected, he offered to furnish ships and share profits with
Radisson and Groseillers for a voyage to Hudson Bay.

M. Colbert did not give his patronage to the scheme; but he wished
Radisson a God-speed.  The Jesuits advanced Radisson money to pay his
passage; and in the fall of 1681, he arrived in Quebec.  La Chesnaye
met him, and Groseillers was summoned.  The three then went to the
Château Saint-Louis to lay their plans before the governor.  Though the
privileges of the West Indies Company had been curtailed, the fur trade
was again regulated by license.[1]  Frontenac had granted a license to
the Company of the North for the fur trade of Hudson Bay.  He could not
openly favor Radisson; but he winked at the expedition by granting
passports to the explorers, and the three men who were to accompany
him, Jean Baptiste, son of Groseillers, Pierre Allemand, the pilot who
was afterward given a commission to explore the Eskimo country, and
Jean Godefroy, an interpreter.[2]  Jean Baptiste, Radisson's nephew,
invested 500 pounds in goods for barter.  Others of Three Rivers and
Quebec advanced money, to provision the ship.[3]  Ten days after
Radisson's arrival in Quebec, the explorers had left the high fortress
of the St. Lawrence to winter in Acadia.  When spring came, they went
with the fishing fleets to Isle Percée, where La Chesnaye was to send
the ships.  Radisson's ship, the _St. Pierre_,--named after
himself,--came first, a rickety sloop of fifty tons with a crew of
twelve mutinous, ill-fed men, a cargo of goods for barter, and scant
enough supply of provisions.  Groseillers' ship, the _St. Anne_, was
smaller and better built, with a crew of fifteen.  The explorers set
sail on the 11th of July.  From the first there was trouble with the
crews.  Fresh-water _voyageurs_ make bad ocean sailors.  Food was
short.  The voyage was to be long.  It was to unknown waters, famous
for disaster.  The sea was boisterous.  In the months of June and July,
the North Atlantic is beset with fog and iceberg.  The ice sweeps south
in mountainous bergs that have thawed and split before they reach the
temperate zones.[4]  On the 30th of July the two ships passed the
Straits of Belle Isle.  Fog-banks hung heavy on the blue of the far
watery horizon.  Out of the fog, like ghosts in gloom, drifted the
shadowy ice-floes.  The coast of Labrador consists of bare, domed,
lonely hills alternated with rock walls rising sheer from the sea as
some giant masonry.  Here the rock is buttressed by a sharp angle
knife-edged in a precipice.  There, the beetling walls are guarded by
long reefs like the teeth of a saw.  Over these reefs, the drifting
tide breaks with multitudinous voices.  The French _voyageurs_ had
never known such seafaring.  In the wail of the white-foamed reefs,
their superstition heard the shriek of the demons.  The explorers had
anchored in one of the sheltered harbors, which the sailors call
"holes-in-the-wall."  The crews mutinied.  They would go no farther
through ice-drift and fog to an unknown sea.  Radisson never waited for
the contagion of fear to work.  He ordered anchors up and headed for
open sea.  Then he tried to encourage the sailors with promises.  They
would not hear him; for the ship's galley was nearly empty of food.
Then Radisson threatened the first mutineer to show rebellion with such
severe punishment as the hard customs of the age permitted.  The crew
sulked, biding its time.  At that moment the lookout shouted "Sail ho!"

All hands discerned a ship with a strange sail, such as Dutch and
Spanish pirates carried, bearing down upon them shoreward.  The lesser
fear was forgotten in the greater.  The _St. Pierre's_ crew crowded
sail.  Heading about, the two explorers' ships threaded the rock reefs
like pursued deer.  The pirate came on full speed before the wind.
Night fell while Radisson was still hiding among the rocks.
Notwithstanding reefs and high seas, while the pirate ship hove to for
the night, Radisson stole out in the dark and gave his pursuer the
slip.  The chase had saved him a mutiny.

As the vessels drove northward, the ice drifted past like a white world
afloat.  When Radisson approached the entrance to Hudson Bay, he met
floes in impenetrable masses.  So far the ships had avoided delay by
tacking along the edges of the ice-fields, from lake to lake of ocean
surrounded by ice.  Now the ice began to crush together, driven by wind
and tide with furious enough force to snap the two ships like
egg-shells.  Radisson watched for a free passage, and, with a wind to
rear, scudded for shelter of a hole-in-the-wall.  Here he met the
Eskimo, and provisions were replenished; but the dangers of the
ice-fields had frightened the crews again.  In two days Radisson put to
sea to avoid a second mutiny.  The wind was landward, driving the ice
back from the straits, and they passed safely into Hudson Bay.  The ice
again surrounded them; but it was useless for the men to mutiny.  Ice
blocked up all retreat.  Jammed among the floes, Groseillers was afraid
to carry sail, and fell behind.  Radisson drove ahead, now skirting the
ice-floes, now pounded by breaking icebergs, now crashing into surface
brash or puddled ice to the fore.  "We were like to have perished," he
writes, "but God was pleased to preserve us."

On the 26th of August, six weeks after sailing from Isle Percée,
Radisson rode triumphantly in on the tide to Hayes River, south of
Nelson River, where he had been with the English ships ten years
before.  Two weeks later the _Ste. Anne_, with Groseillers, arrived.
The two ships cautiously ascended the river, seeking a harbor.  Fifteen
miles from salt water, Radisson anchored.  At last he was back in his
native element, the wilderness, where man must set himself to conquer
and take dominion over earth.

Groseillers was always the trader, Radisson the explorer.  Leaving his
brother-in-law to build the fort, Radisson launched a canoe on Hayes
River to explore inland.  Young Jean Groseillers accompanied him to
look after the trade with the Indians.[5]  For eight days they paddled
up a river that was destined to be the path of countless traders and
pioneers for two centuries, and that may yet be destined to become the
path of a northern commerce.  By September the floodtide of Hayes River
had subsided.  In a week the _voyageurs_ had travelled probably three
hundred miles, and were within the region of Lake Winnipeg, where the
Cree hunters assemble in October for the winter.  Radisson had come to
this region by way of Lake Superior with the Cree hunters twenty years
before, and his visit had become a tradition among the tribes.  Beaver
are busy in October gnawing down young saplings for winter food.
Radisson observed chips floating past the canoe.  Where there are
beaver, there should be Indians; so the _voyageurs_ paddled on.  One
night, as they lay round the camp-fire, with canoes overturned, a deer,
startled from its evening drinking-place, bounded from the thicket.  A
sharp whistle--and an Indian ran from the brush of an island opposite
the camp, signalling the white men to head the deer back; but when
Radisson called from the waterside, the savage took fright and dashed
for the woods.

All that night the _voyageurs_ kept sleepless guard.  In the morning
they moved to the island and kindled a signal-fire to call the Indians.
In a little while canoes cautiously skirted the island, and the chief
of the band stood up, bow and arrow in hand.  Pointing his arrows to
the deities of north, south, east, and west, he broke the shaft to
splinters, as a signal of peace, and chanted his welcome:--

  "Ho, young men, be not afraid!
  The sun is favorable to us!
  Our enemies shall fear us!
  This is the man we have wished
  Since the days of our fathers!"

With a leap, the chief sprang into the water and swam ashore, followed
by all the canoes.  Radisson called out to know who was commander.  The
chief, with a sign as old and universal as humanity, bowed his head in
servility.  Radisson took the Indian by the hand, and, seating him by
the fire, chanted an answer in Cree:--

  "I know all the earth!
  Your friends shall be my friends!
  I come to bring you arms to destroy your enemies!
  Nor wife nor child shall die of hunger!
  For I have brought you merchandise!
  Be of good cheer!
  I will be thy son!
  I have brought thee a father!
  He is yonder below building a fort
  Where I have two great ships!" [6]

The chief kept pace with the profuse compliments by vowing the life of
his tribe in service of the white man.  Radisson presented pipes and
tobacco to the Indians.  For the chief he reserved a fowling-piece with
powder and shot.  White man and Indian then exchanged blankets.
Presents were sent for the absent wives.  The savages were so grateful
that they cast all their furs at Radisson's feet, and promised to bring
their hunt to the fort in spring.  In Paris and London Radisson had
been harassed by jealousy.  In the wilderness he was master of
circumstance; but a surprise awaited him at Groseillers' fort.

The French habitation--called Fort Bourbon--had been built on the north
shore of Hayes or Ste. Therese River.  Directly north, overland, was
another broad river with a gulflike entrance.  This was the Nelson.
Between the two rivers ran a narrow neck of swampy, bush-grown land.
The day that Radisson returned to the newly erected fort, there rolled
across the marshes the ominous echo of cannon-firing.  Who could the
newcomers be?  A week's sail south at the head of the bay were the
English establishments of the Hudson's Bay Company.  The season was far
advanced.  Had English ships come to winter on Nelson River?  Ordering
Jean Groseillers to go back inland to the Indians, Radisson launched
down Hayes River in search of the strange ship.  He went to the salt
water, but saw nothing.  Upon returning, he found that Jean Groseillers
had come back to the fort with news of more cannonading farther inland.
Radisson rightly guessed that the ship had sailed up Nelson River,
firing cannon as she went to notify Indians for trade.  Picking out
three intrepid men, Radisson crossed the marsh by a creek which the
Indian canoes used, to go to Nelson River.[7]  Through the brush the
scout spied a white tent on an island.  All night the Frenchmen lay in
the woods, watching their rivals and hoping that some workman might
pass close enough to be seized and questioned.  At noon, next day,
Radisson's patience was exhausted.  He paddled round the island, and
showed himself a cannon-shot distant from the fort.  Holding up a pole,
Radisson waved as if he were an Indian afraid to approach closer in
order to trade.  The others hallooed a welcome and gabbled out Indian
words from a guide-book.  Radisson paddled a length closer.  The others
ran eagerly down to the water side away from their cannon.  In signal
of friendship, they advanced unarmed.  Radisson must have laughed to
see how well his ruse worked.

"Who are you?" he demanded in plain English, "and what do you want?"
The traders called back that they were Englishmen come for beaver.
Again the crafty Frenchman must have laughed; for he knew very well
that all English ships except those of the Hudson's Bay Company were
prohibited by law from coming here to trade.[8]  Though the strange
ship displayed an English ensign, the flag did not show the magical
letters "H. B. C."

"Whose commission have you?" pursued Radisson.

"No commission--New Englanders," answered the others.

"Contrabands," thought Radisson to himself.  Then he announced that he
had taken possession of all that country for France, had built a strong
fort, and expected more ships.  In a word, he advised the New
Englanders to save themselves by instant flight; but his canoe had
glided nearer.  To Radisson's surprise, he discovered that the leader
of the New England poachers was Ben Gillam of Boston, son of Captain
Gillam, the trusted servant of the Hudson's Bay Company, who had
opposed Radisson and Groseillers on Rupert's River.  It looked as if
the contraband might be a venture of the father as well as the son.[9]
Radisson and young Gillam recognized each other with a show of
friendliness, Gillam inviting Radisson to inspect the ship with much
the same motive that the fabled spider invited the fly.  Radisson took
tactful precaution for his own liberty by graciously asking that two of
the New England servants go down to the canoe with the three Frenchmen.
No sooner had Radisson gone on the New England ship than young Gillam
ordered cannon fired and English flags run up.  Having made that brave
show of strength, the young man proposed that the French and the New
Englanders should divide the traffic between them for the winter.
Radisson diplomatically suggested that such an important proposal be
laid before his colleagues.  In leaving, he advised Gillam to keep his
men from wandering beyond the island, lest they suffer wrong at the
hands of the French soldiers.  Incidentally, that advice would also
keep the New Englanders from learning how desperately weak the French
really were.  Neither leader was in the slightest deceived by the
other; each played for time to take the other unawares, and each knew
the game that was being played.

[Illustration: Hudson's Bay Company Coins, made of Lead melted from Tea
Chests at York Factory, each Coin representing so many Beaver Skins.]

Instead of returning by the creek that cut athwart the neck of land
between the two rivers, Radisson decided to go down Nelson River to the
bay, round the point, and ascend Hayes River to the French quarters.
Cogitating how to frighten young Gillam out of the country or else to
seize him, Radisson glided down the swift current of Nelson River
toward salt water.  He had not gone nine miles from the New Englanders
when he was astounded by the spectacle of a ship breasting with
full-blown sails up the tide of the Nelson directly in front of the
French canoe.  The French dashed for the hiding of the brushwood on
shore.  From their concealment they saw that the ship was a Hudson's
Bay Company vessel, armed with cannon and commission for lawful trade.
If once the Hudson's Bay Company ship and the New Englanders united,
the English would be strong enough to overpower the French.

The majority of leaders would have escaped the impending disaster by
taking ingloriously to their heels.  Radisson, with that adroit
presence of mind which characterized his entire life, had provided for
his followers' safety by landing them on the south shore, where the
French could flee across the marsh to the ships if pursued.  Then his
only thought was how to keep the rivals apart.  Instantly he had an
enormous bonfire kindled.  Then he posted his followers in ambush.  The
ship mistook the fire for an Indian signal, reefed its sails, and
anchored.  Usually natives paddled out to the traders' ships to barter.
These Indians kept in hiding.  The ship waited for them to come; and
Radisson waited for the ship's hands to land.  In the morning a gig
boat was lowered to row ashore.  In it were Captain Gillam, Radisson's
personal enemy, John Bridgar,[10] the new governor of the Hudson's Bay
Company for Nelson River, and six sailors.  All were heavily armed, yet
Radisson stood alone to receive them, with his three companions posted
on the outskirts of the woods as if in command of ambushed forces.
Fortune is said to favor the dauntless, and just as the boat came
within gunshot of the shore, it ran aground.  A sailor jumped out to
drag the craft up the bank.  They were all at Radisson's mercy--without
cover.  He at once levelled his gun with a shout of "Halt!"  At the
same moment his own men made as if to sally from the woods.  The
English imagined themselves ambushed, and called out that they were the
officers of the Hudson's Bay Company.  Radisson declared who he was and
that he had taken possession of the country for France.  His musket was
still levelled.  His men were ready to dash forward.  The English put
their heads together and decided that discretion was the better part of
valor.  Governor Bridgar meekly requested permission to land and salute
the commander of the French.  Then followed a pompous melodrama of
bravado, each side affecting sham strength.  Radisson told the English
all that he had told the New Englanders, going on board the Company's
ship to dine, while English hostages remained with his French
followers.  For reasons which he did not reveal, he strongly advised
Governor Bridgar not to go farther up Nelson River.  Above all, he
warned Captain Gillam not to permit the English sailors to wander
inland.  Having exchanged compliments, Radisson took gracious leave of
his hosts, and with his three men slipped down the Nelson in their
canoe.  Past a bend in the river, he ordered the canoe ashore.  The
French then skirted back through the woods and lay watching the English
till satisfied that the Hudson's Bay Company ship would go no nearer
the island where Ben Gillam lay hidden.

Groseillers and his son looked after the trade that winter.  Radisson
had his hands full keeping the two English crews apart.  Ten days after
his return, he again left Hayes River to see what his rivals were
doing.  The Hudson's Bay Company ship had gone aground in the ooze a
mile from the fort where Governor Bridgar had taken up quarters.  That
division of forces weakened the English fort.  Introducing his man as
captain of a French ship, Radisson entered the governor's house.  The
visitors drained a health to their host and fired off muskets to learn
whether sentinels were on guard.  No attention was paid to the unwonted
noise.  "I judged," writes Radisson, "that they were careless, and
might easily be surprised."  He then went across to the river flats,
where the tide had left the vessel, and, calmly mounting the ladder,
took a survey of Gillam's ship.  When the irate old captain rushed up
to know the meaning of the intrusion Radisson suavely proffered
provisions, of which they were plainly in need.

The New Englanders had been more industrious.  A stoutly palisaded fort
had been completed on young Gillam's island, and cannon commanded all
approach.  Radisson fired a musket to notify the sentry, and took care
to beach his canoe below the range of the guns.  Young Gillam showed a
less civil front than before.  His lieutenant ironically congratulated
Radisson on his "safe" return, and invited him to visit the fort if he
would enter _alone_.  When Radisson would have introduced his four
followers, the lieutenant swore "if the four French were forty devils,
they could not take the New Englanders' fort."  The safety of the
French habitation now hung by a hair.  Everything depended on keeping
the two English companies apart, and they were distant only nine miles.
The scheme must have flashed on Radisson in an intuition; for he laid
his plans as he listened to the boastings of the New Englanders.  If
father and son could be brought together through Radisson's favor,
Captain Gillam would keep the English from coming to the New England
fort lest his son should be seized for poaching on the trade of the
Company; and Ben Gillam would keep his men from going near the English
fort lest Governor Bridgar should learn of the contraband ship from
Boston.  Incidentally, both sides would be prevented from knowing the
weakness of the French at Fort Bourbon.  At once Radisson told young
Gillam of his father's presence.  Ben was eager to see his father and,
as he thought, secure himself from detection in illegal trade.
Radisson was to return to the old captain with the promised provisions.
He offered to take young Gillam, disguised as a bush-ranger.  In
return, he demanded (1) that the New Englanders should not leave their
fort; (2) that they should not betray themselves by discharging cannon;
(3) that they shoot any Hudson's Bay Company people who tried to enter
the New England fort.  To young Gillam these terms seemed designed for
his own protection.  What they really accomplished was the complete
protection of the French from united attack.  Father and son would have
put themselves in Radisson's power.  A word of betrayal to Bridgar, the
Hudson's Bay governor, and both the Gillams would be arrested for
illegal trade.  Ben Gillam's visit to his father was fraught with all
the danger that Radisson's daring could have desired.  A seaman half
suspected the identity of the bush-ranger, and Governor Bridgar wanted
to know how Radisson had returned so soon when the French fort was far
away.  "I told him, smiling," writes Radisson, "that I could fly when
there was need to serve my friends."

Young Gillam had begun to suspect the weakness of the French.  When the
two were safely out of the Hudson's Bay Company fort, he offered to go
home part of the way with Radisson.  This was to learn where the French
fort lay.  Radisson declined the kindly service and deliberately set
out from the New Englanders' island in the wrong direction, coming down
the Nelson past young Gillam's fort at night.  The delay of the trick
nearly cost Radisson his life.  Fall rains had set in, and the river
was running a mill-race.  Great floes of ice from the North were
tossing on the bay at the mouth of the Nelson River in a maelstrom of
tide and wind.  In the dark Radisson did not see how swiftly his canoe
had been carried down-stream.  Before he knew it his boat shot out of
the river among the tossing ice-floes of the bay.  Surrounded by ice in
a wild sea, he could not get back to land.  The spray drove over the
canoe till the Frenchman's clothes were stiff with ice.  For four hours
they lay jammed in the ice-drift till a sudden upheaval crushed the
canoe to kindling wood and left the men stranded on the ice.  Running
from floe to floe, they gained the shore and beat their way for three
days through a raging hurricane of sleet and snow toward the French
habitation.  They were on the side of the Hayes opposite the French
fort.  Four _voyageurs_ crossed for them, and the little company at
last gained the shelter of a roof.

Radisson now knew that young Gillam intended to spy upon the French; so
he sent scouts to watch the New Englanders' fort.  The scouts reported
that the young captain had sent messengers to obtain additional men
from his father; but the New England soldiers, remembering Radisson's
orders to shoot any one approaching, had levelled muskets to fire at
the reënforcements.  The rebuffed men had gone back to Governor Bridgar
with word of a fort and ship only nine miles up Nelson River.  Bridgar
thought this was the French establishment, and old Captain Gillam could
not undeceive him.  The Hudson's Bay Company governor had sent the two
men back to spy on what he thought was a French fort.  At once Radisson
sent out men to capture Bridgar's scouts, who were found half dead with
cold and hunger.  The captives reported to Radisson that the English
ship had been totally wrecked in the ice jam.  Bridgar's people were
starving.  Many traders would have left their rivals to perish.
Radisson supplied them with food for the winter.  They were no longer
to be feared; but there was still danger from young Gillam.  He had
wished to visit the French fort.  Radisson decided to give him an
opportunity.  Ben Gillam was escorted down to Hayes River.  A month
passed quietly.  The young captain had learned that the boasted forces
of the French consisted of less than thirty men.  His insolence knew no
bounds.  He struck a French servant, called Radisson a pirate, and
gathering up his belongings prepared to go home.  Radisson quietly
barred the young man's way.

"You pitiful dog!" said the Frenchman, coolly.  "You poor young fool!
Why do you suppose you were brought to this fort?  We brought you here
because it suited us!  We keep you here as long as it suits us!  We
take you back when it suits us!"

Ben Gillam was dumfounded to find that he had been trapped, when he had
all the while thought that he was acting the part of a clever spy.  He
broke out in a storm of abuse.  Radisson remanded the foolish young man
to a French guard.  At the mess-room table Radisson addressed his

"Gillam, to-day I set out to capture your fort."

At the table sat less than thirty men.  Young Gillam gave one scornful
glance at the French faces and laughed.

"If you had a hundred men instead of twenty," he jeered.

"How many have you, Ben?"

"Nine; and they'll kill you before you reach the palisades."

Radisson was not talking of killing.

"Gillam," he returned imperturbably, "pick out nine of my men, and I
have your fort within forty-eight hours."

Gillam chose the company, and Radisson took one of the Hudson Bay
captives as a witness.  The thing was done as easily as a piece of
farcical comedy.  French hostages had been left among the New
Englanders as guarantee of Gillam's safety in Radisson's fort.  These
hostages had been instructed to drop, as if by chance, blocks of wood
across the doors of the guard-room and powder house and barracks.  Even
these precautions proved unnecessary.  Two of Radisson's advance guard,
who were met by the lieutenant of the New England fort, reported that
"Gillam had remained behind."  The lieutenant led the two Frenchmen
into the fort.  These two kept the gates open for Radisson, who marched
in with his band, unopposed.  The keys were delivered and Radisson was
in possession.  At midnight the watch-dogs raised an alarm, and the
French sallied out to find that a New Englander had run to the Hudson's
Bay Company for aid, and Governor Bridgar's men were attacking the
ships.  All of the assailants fled but four, whom Radisson caught
ransacking the ship's cabin.  Radisson now had more captives than he
could guard, so he loaded the Hudson's Bay Company men with provisions
and sent them back to their own starving fort.

Radisson left the New England fort in charge of his Frenchmen and
returned to the French quarters.  Strange news was carried to him
there.  Bridgar had forgotten all benefits, waited until Radisson's
back was turned, and, with one last desperate cast of the die to
retrieve all by capturing the New England fort and ship for the fur
company, had marched against young Gillam's island.  The French threw
open the gates for the Hudson's Bay governor to enter.  Then they
turned the key and told Governor Bridgar that he was a prisoner.  Their
_coup_ was a complete triumph for Radisson.  Both of his rivals were
prisoners, and the French flag flew undisputed over Port Nelson.

Spring brought the Indians down to the bay with the winter's hunt.  The
sight of threescore Englishmen captured by twenty Frenchmen roused the
war spirit of the young braves.  They offered Radisson two hundred
beaver skins to be allowed to massacre the English.  Radisson thanked
the savages for their good will, but declined their offer.  Floods had
damaged the water-rotted timbers of the two old hulls in which the
explorers voyaged north.  It was agreed to return to Quebec in Ben
Gillam's boat.  A vessel was constructed on one of the hulls to send
the English prisoners to the Hudson's Bay Company forts at the south
end of the bay.[11]  Young Jean Groseillers was left, with seven men,
to hold the French post till boats came in the following year.  On the
27th of July the ships weighed anchor for the homeward voyage.  Young
Gillam was given a free passage by way of Quebec.  Bridgar was to have
gone with his men to the Hudson's Bay Company forts at the south of the
bay, but at the last moment a friendly Englishman warned Radisson that
the governor's design was to wait till the large ship had left, head
the bark back for Hayes River, capture the fort, and put the Frenchmen
to the sword.  To prevent this Bridgar, too, was carried to Quebec.
Twenty miles out the ship was caught in ice-floes that held her for a
month, and Bridgar again conspired to cut the throats of the Frenchmen.
Henceforth young Gillam and Bridgar were out on parole during the day
and kept under lock at night.

The same jealousy as of old awaited Radisson at Quebec.  The Company of
the North was furious that La Chesnaye had sent ships to Hudson Bay,
which the shareholders considered to be their territory by license.[12]
Farmers of the Revenue beset the ship to seize the cargo, because the
explorers had gone North without a permit.  La Chesnaye saved some of
the furs by transshipping them for France before the vessel reached
Quebec.  Then followed an interminable lawsuit, that exhausted the
profits of the voyage.  La Barre had succeeded Frontenac as governor.
The best friends of La Barre would scarcely deny that his sole ambition
as governor was to amass a fortune from the fur trade of Canada.
Inspired by the jealous Company of the North, he refused to grant
Radisson prize money for the capture of the contraband ship, restored
the vessel to Gillam, and gave him clearance to sail for Boston.[13]
For this La Barre was sharply reprimanded from France; but the
reprimand did not mend the broken fortunes of the two explorers, who
had given their lives for the extension of the French domain.[14]  M.
Colbert summoned Radisson and Groseillers to return to France and give
an account of all they had done; but when they arrived in Paris, on
January 15, 1684, they learned that the great statesman had died.  Lord
Preston, the English envoy, had lodged such complaints against them for
the defeat of the Englishmen in Hudson Bay, that France hesitated to
extend public recognition of their services.

[1] Within ten years so many different regulations were promulgated on
the fur trade that it is almost impossible to keep track of them.  In
1673 orders came from Paris forbidding French settlers of New France
from wandering in the woods for longer than twenty-four hours.  In 1672
M. Frontenac forbade the selling of merchandise to _coureurs du bois_,
or the purchase of furs from them.  In 1675 a decree of the Council of
State awarded to M. Jean Oudiette one-fourth of all beaver, with the
exclusive right of buying and selling in Canada.  In 1676 Frontenac
withdrew from the _Cie Indes Occidentales_ all the rights it had over
Canada and other places.  An ordinance of October 1, 1682, forbade all
trade except under license.  An ordinance in 1684 ordered all fur
traders trading in Hudson Bay to pay one-fourth to Farmers of the

[2] It is hard to tell who this Godefroy was.  Of all the famous
Godefroys of Three Rivers (according to Abbé Tanguay) there was only
one, Jean Batiste, born 1658, who might have gone with Radisson; but I
hardly think so.  The Godefroys descended from the French nobility and
themselves bore titles from the king, but in spite of this, were the
best canoemen of New France, as ready--according to Mr. Sulte--to
_faire la cuisine_ as to command a fort.  Radisson's Godefroy evidently
went in the capacity of a servant, for his name is not mentioned in the
official list of promoters.  On the other hand, parish records do not
give the date of Jean Batiste Godefroy's death; so that he may have
gone as a servant and died in the North.

[3] State Papers, 1683, state that Dame Sorel, La Chesnaye, Chaujon,
Gitton, Foret, and others advanced money for the goods.

[4] In 1898, when up the coast of Labrador, I was told by the
superintendent of a northern whaling station--a man who has received
royal decorations for his scientific research of ocean phenomena--that
he has frequently seen icebergs off Labrador that were nine miles long.

[5] Jean was born in 1654 and was, therefore, twenty-eight.

[6] I have written both addresses as the Indians would chant them.  To
be sure, they will not scan according to the elephantine grace of the
pedant's iambics; but then, neither will the Indian songs scan, though
I know of nothing more subtly rhythmical.  Rhythm is so much a part of
the Indian that it is in his walk, in the intonation of his words, in
the gesture of his hands.  I think most Westerners will bear me out in
saying that it is the exquisitely musical intonation of words that
betrays Indian blood to the third and fourth generation.

[7] See Robson's map.

[8] State Papers: "The Governor of New England is ordered to seize all
vessels trading in Hudson Bay contrary to charter--"

[9] _Radisson's Journal_, p. 277.

[10] Robson gives the commission to this governor.

[11] Later in Hudson Bay history, when another commander captured the
forts, the prisoners were sold into slavery.  Radisson's treatment of
his rivals hardly substantiates all the accusations of rascality
trumped up against him.  Just how many prisoners he took in this
_coup_, no two records agree.

[12] Archives, September 24, 1683: Ordinance of M. de Meulles regarding
the claims of persons interested in the expedition to Hudson Bay,
organized by M. de la Chesnaye, Gitton, Bruneau, Mme. Sorel. . . .  In
order to avoid difficulties with the Company of the North, they had
placed a vessel at Isle Percée to receive the furs brought back . . .
and convey them to Holland and Spain. . . .  Joachims de Chalons, agent
of the Company of the North, sent a _bateau_ to Percée to defeat the
project.  De la Chesnaye, summoned to appear before the intendant,
maintained that the company had no right to this trade, . . . that the
enterprise involved so many risks that he could not consent to divide
the profits, if he had any.  The partners having been heard, M. de
Meulles orders that the boats from Hudson Bay be anchored at Quebec.

[13] Archives, October 25, 1683: M. de la Barre grants Benjamin Gillam
of Boston clearance for the ship _Le Garçon_, now in port at Quebec,
although he had no license from his Britannic Majesty permitting him to
enter Hudson Bay.

[14] Such foundationless accusations have been written against Radisson
by historians who ought to have known better, about these furs, that I
quote the final orders of the government on the subject: November 5,
1683, M. de la Barre forbids Chalons, agent of La Ferme du Canada,
confiscating the furs brought from Hudson Bay; November 8 M. de la
Chesnaye is to be paid for the furs seized.




France refuses to restore the Confiscated Furs and Radisson tries to
redeem his Fortune--Reëngaged by England, he captures back Fort Nelson,
but comes to Want in his Old Age--his Character

Radisson was now near his fiftieth year.  He had spent his entire life
exploring the wilds.  He had saved New France from bankruptcy with
cargoes of furs that in four years amounted to half a million of modern
money.  In ten years he had brought half a million dollars worth of
furs to the English company.[1]  Yet he was a poor man, threatened with
the sponging-house by clamorous creditors and in the power of
avaricious statesmen, who used him as a tool for their own schemes.  La
Chesnaye had saved his furs; but the half of the cargo that was the
share of Radisson and Groseillers had been seized at Quebec.[2] On
arriving in France, Groseillers presented a memorial of their wrong to
the court.[3]  Probably because England and France were allied by
treaty at that time, the petition for redress was ignored.  Groseillers
was now an old man.  He left the struggle to Radisson and retired to
spend his days in quietness.[4]  Radisson did not cease to press his
claim for the return of confiscated furs.  He had a wife and four
children to support; but, in spite of all his services to England and
France, he did not own a shilling's worth of property in the whole
world.  From January to May he waited for the tardy justice of the
French court.  When his suit became too urgent, he was told that he had
offended the Most Christian King by attacking the fur posts under the
protection of a friendly monarch, King Charles.  The hollowness of that
excuse became apparent when the French government sanctioned the
fitting out of two vessels for Radisson to go to Hudson Bay in the
spring.  Lord Preston, the English ambassador, was also playing a
double game.  He never ceased to reproach the French for the
destruction of the fur posts on Hudson Bay.  At the same time he
besieged Radisson with offers to return to the service of the Hudson's
Bay Company.

Radisson was deadly tired of the farce.  From first to last France had
treated him with the blackest injustice.  If he had wished to be rich,
he could long ago have accumulated wealth by casting in his lot with
the dishonest rulers of Quebec.  In England a strong clique, headed by
Bridgar, Gillam, and Bering opposed him; but King Charles and the Duke
of York, Prince Rupert, when he was alive, Sir William Young, Sir James
Hayes, and Sir John Kirke were in his favor.  His heart yearned for his
wife and children.  Just then letters came from England urging him to
return to the Hudson's Bay Company.  Lord Preston plied the explorer
with fair promises.  Under threat of punishment for molesting the
English of Hudson Bay, the French government tried to force him into a
contract to sail on a second voyage to the North on the same terms as
in 1682-1683--not to share the profits.  England and France were both
playing double.  Radisson smiled a grim smile and took his resolution.
Daily he conferred with the French Marine on details of the voyage.  He
permitted the date of sailing to be set for April 24.  Sailors were
enlisted, stores put on board, everything was in readiness.  At the
last moment, Radisson asked leave of absence to say good-by to his
family.  The request was granted.  Without losing a moment, he sailed
for England, where he arrived on the 10th of May and was at once taken
in hand by Sir William Young and Sir James Hayes.  He was honored as
his explorations entitled him to be.  King Charles and the Duke of York
received him.  Both royal brothers gave him gifts in token of
appreciation.  He took the oath of fealty and cast in his lot with the
English for good.  It was characteristic of the enthusiast that he was,
when Radisson did not sign a strictly business contract with the
Hudson's Bay Company.  "I accepted their commission with the greatest
pleasure in the world," he writes; ". . . without any precautions on my
part for my own interests . . . since they had confidence in me, I
wished to be generous towards them . . . in the hope they would render
me all the justice due from gentlemen of honor and probity."

But to the troubles of the future Radisson always paid small heed.
Glad to be off once more to the adventurous freedom of the wilds, he
set sail from England on May 17, 1684, in the _Happy Return_,
accompanied by two other vessels.  No incident marked the voyage till
the ships had passed through the straits and were driven apart by the
ice-drift of the bay.  About sixty miles out from Port Nelson, the
_Happy Return_ was held back by ice.  Fearing trouble between young
Jean Groseillers' men and the English of the other ships, Radisson
embarked in a shallop with seven men in order to arrive at Hayes River
before the other boats came.  Rowing with might and main for
forty-eight hours, they came to the site of the French fort.

The fort had been removed.  Jean Groseillers had his own troubles
during Radisson's absence.  A few days after Radisson's departure in
July, 1683, cannon announced the arrival of the annual English ships on
Nelson River.  Jean at once sent out scouts, who found a tribe of
Indians on the way home from trading with the ships that had fired the
cannon.  The scouts brought the Indians back to the French fort.  Young
Groseillers admitted the savages only one at a time; but the cunning
braves pretended to run back for things they had forgotten in the
French house.  Suspecting nothing, Jean had permitted his own men to
leave the fort.  On different pretexts, a dozen warriors had surrounded
the young trader.  Suddenly the mask was thrown off.  Springing up,
treacherous as a tiger cat, the chief of the band struck at Groseillers
with a dagger.  Jean parried the blow, grabbed the redskin by his
collar of bears' claws strung on thongs, threw the assassin to the
ground almost strangling him, and with one foot on the villain's throat
and the sword point at his chest, demanded of the Indians what they
meant.  The savages would have fled, but French soldiers who had heard
the noise dashed to Groseillers' aid.  The Indians threw down their
weapons and confessed all: the Englishmen of the ship had promised the
band a barrel of powder to massacre the French.  Jean took his foot
from the Indian's throat and kicked him out of the fort.  The English
outnumbered the French; so Jean removed his fort farther from the bay,
among the Indians, where the English could not follow.  To keep the
warriors about him, he offered to house and feed them for the winter.
This protected him from the attacks of the English.  In the spring
Indians came to the French with pelts.  Jean was short of firearms; so
he bribed the Indians to trade their peltries to the English for guns,
and to retrade the guns to him for other goods.  It was a stroke worthy
of Radisson himself, and saved the little French fort.  The English
must have suspected the young trader's straits, for they again paid
warriors to attack the French; but Jean had forestalled assault by
forming an alliance with the Assiniboines, who came down Hayes River
from Lake Winnipeg four hundred strong, and encamped a body-guard
around the fort.  Affairs were at this stage when Radisson arrived with
news that he had transferred his services to the English.

Young Groseillers was amazed.[5]  Letters to his mother show that he
surrendered his charge with a very ill grace.  "Do not forget,"
Radisson urged him, "the injuries that France has inflicted on your
father."  Young Groseillers' mother, Marguerite Hayet, was in want at
Three Rivers.[6]  It was memory of her that now turned the scales with
the young man.  He would turn over the furs to Radisson for the English
Company, if Radisson would take care of the far-away mother at Three
Rivers.  The bargain was made, and the two embraced.  The surrender of
the French furs to the English Company has been represented as
Radisson's crowning treachery.  Under that odium the great discoverer's
name has rested for nearly three centuries; yet the accusation of theft
is without a grain of truth.  Radisson and Groseillers were to obtain
half the proceeds of the voyage in 1682-1683.  Neither the explorers
nor Jean Groseillers, who had privately invested 500 pounds in the
venture, ever received one sou.  The furs at Port Nelson--or Fort
Bourbon--belonged to the Frenchmen, to do what they pleased with them.
The act of the enthusiast is often tainted with folly.  That Radisson
turned over twenty thousand beaver pelts to the English, without the
slightest assurance that he would be given adequate return, was surely
folly; but it was not theft.

The transfer of all possessions to the English was promptly made.
Radisson then arranged a peace treaty between the Indians and the
English.  That peace treaty has endured between the Indians and the
Hudson's Bay Company to this day.  A new fort was built, the furs
stored in the hold of the vessels, and the crews mustered for the
return voyage.  Radisson had been given a solemn promise by the
Hudson's Bay Company that Jean Groseillers and his comrades should be
well treated and reëngaged for the English at 100 pounds a year.  Now
he learned that the English intended to ship all the French out of
Hudson Bay and to keep them out.  The enthusiast had played his game
with more zeal than discretion.  The English had what they wanted--furs
and fort.  In return, Radisson had what had misled him like a
will-o'-the-wisp all his life--vague promises.  In vain Radisson
protested that he had given his promise to the French before they
surrendered the fort.  The English distrusted foreigners.  The
Frenchmen had been mustered on the ships to receive last instructions.
They were told that they were to be taken to England.  No chance was
given them to escape.  Some of the French had gone inland with the
Indians.  Of Jean's colony, these alone remained.  When Radisson
realized the conspiracy, he advised his fellow-countrymen to make no
resistance; for he feared that some of the English bitter against him
might seize on the pretext of a scuffle to murder the French.  His
advice proved wise.  He had strong friends at the English court, and
atonement was made for the breach of faith to the French.

The ships set sail on the 4th of September and arrived in England on
the 23d of October.  Without waiting for the coach, Radisson hired a
horse and spurred to London in order to give his version first of the
quarrel on the bay.  The Hudson's Bay Company was delighted with the
success of Radisson.  He was taken before the directors, given a
present of a hundred guineas, and thanked for his services.  He was
once more presented to the King and the Duke of York.  The company
redeemed its promise to Radisson by employing the Frenchmen of the
surrendered fort and offering to engage young Groseillers at 100 pounds
a year.[7]

[Illustration: Hudson Bay Dog Trains laden with Furs arriving at Lower
Fort Garry, Red River.  (Courtesy of C. C. Chipman, Commissioner H. B.

For five years the English kept faith with Radisson, and he made annual
voyages to the bay; but war broke out with France.  New France entered
on a brilliant campaign against the English of Hudson Bay.  The
company's profits fell.  Radisson, the Frenchman, was distrusted.
France had set a price on his head, and one Martinière went to Port
Nelson to seize him, but was unable to cope with the English.  At no
time did Radisson's salary with the company exceed 100 pounds; and now,
when war stopped dividends on the small amount of stock which had been
given to him, he fell into poverty and debt.  In 1692 Sir William Young
petitioned the company in his favor; but a man with a price on his head
for treason could plainly not return to France.[8]  The French were in
possession of the bay.  Radisson could do no harm to the English.
Therefore the company ignored him till he sued them and received
payment in full for arrears of salary and dividends on stock which he
was not permitted to sell; but 50 pounds a year would not support a man
who paid half that amount for rent, and had a wife, four children, and
servants to support.  In 1700 Radisson applied for the position of
warehouse keeper for the company at London.  Even this was denied.

The dauntless pathfinder was growing old; and the old cannot fight and
lose and begin again as Radisson had done all his life.  State Papers
of Paris contain records of a Radisson with Tonty at Detroit![9]  Was
this his nephew, François Radisson's son, who took the name of the
explorer, or Radisson's own son, or the game old warrior himself, come
out to die on the frontier as he had lived?

History is silent.  Until the year 1710 Radisson drew his allowance of
50 pounds a year from the English Company, then the payments stopped.
Did the dauntless life stop too?  Oblivion hides all record of his
death, as it obscured the brilliant achievements of his life.

There is no need to point out Radisson's faults.  They are written on
his life without extenuation or excuse, so that all may read.  There is
less need to eulogize his virtues.  They declare themselves in every
act of his life.  This, only, should be remembered.  Like all
enthusiasts, Radisson could not have been a hero, if he had not been a
bit of a fool.  If he had not had his faults, if he had not been as
impulsive, as daring, as reckless, as inconstant, as improvident of the
morrow, as a savage or a child, he would not have accomplished the
exploration of half a continent.  Men who weigh consequences are not of
the stuff to win empires.  Had Radisson haggled as to the means, he
would have missed or muddled the end.  He went ahead; and when the way
did not open, he went round, or crawled over, or carved his way through.

There was an old saying among retired hunters of Three Rivers that "one
learned more in the woods than was ever found in l' petee
cat-ee-cheesm."  Radisson's training was of the woods, rather than the
curé's catechism; yet who that has been trained to the strictest code
may boast of as dauntless faults and noble virtues?  He was not
faithful to any country, but he was faithful to his wife and children;
and he was "faithful to his highest hope,"--that of becoming a
discoverer,--which is more than common mortals are to their meanest
aspirations.  When statesmen played him a double game, he paid them
back in their own coin with compound interest.  Perhaps that is why
they hated him so heartily and blackened his memory.  But amid all the
mad license of savage life, Radisson remained untainted.  Other
explorers and statesmen, too, have left a trail of blood to perpetuate
their memory; Radisson never once spilled human blood needlessly, and
was beloved by the savages.

Memorial tablets commemorate other discoverers.  Radisson needs none.
The Great Northwest is his monument for all time.

[1] Radisson's petition to the Hudson's Bay Company gives these amounts.

[2] See State Papers quoted in Chapter VI.  I need scarcely add that
Radisson did not steal a march on his patrons by secretly shipping furs
to Europe.  This is only another of the innumerable slanders against
Radisson which State Papers disprove.

[3] It seems impossible that historians with the slightest regard for
truth should have branded this part of _Radisson's Relation_ as a
fabrication, too.  Yet such is the case, and of writers whose books are
supposed to be reputable.  Since parts of Radisson's life appeared in
the magazines, among many letters I received one from a well-known
historian which to put it mildly was furious at the acceptance of
_Radisson's Journal_ as authentic.  In reply, I asked that historian
how many documents contemporaneous with Radisson's life he had
consulted before he branded so great an explorer as Radisson as a liar.
Needless to say, that question was not answered.  In corroboration of
this part of Radisson's life, I have lying before me: (1) Chouart's
letters--see Appendix.  (2) A letter of Frontenac recording Radisson's
first trip by boat for De la Chesnaye and the complications it would be
likely to cause.  (3) A complete official account sent from Quebec to
France of Radisson's doings in the bay, which tallies in every respect
with _Radisson's Journal_.  (4) Report of M. de Meulles to the Minister
on the whole affair with the English and New Englanders.  (5) An
official report on the release of Gillam's boat at Quebec.  (6) The
memorial presented by Groseillers to the French minister.  (7) An
official statement of the first discovery of the bay overland.  (8) A
complete statement (official) of the complications created by
Radisson's wife being English.  (9) A statement through a third
party--presumably an official--by Radisson himself of these
complications dated 1683.  (10) A letter from the king to the governor
at Quebec retailing the English complaints of Radisson at Nelson River.

In the face of this, what is to be said of the historian who calls
Radisson's adventures "a fabrication"?  Such misrepresentation betrays
about equal amounts of impudence and ignorance.

[4] From Charlevoix to modern writers mention is made of the death of
these two explorers.  Different names are given as the places where
they died.  This is all pure supposition.  Therefore I do not quote.
No records exist to prove where Radisson and Groseillers died.

[5] See Appendix.

[6] State Papers record payment of money to her because she was in want.

[7] Dr. George Bryce, who is really the only scholar who has tried to
unravel the mystery of Radisson's last days, supplies new facts about
his dealings with the Company to 1710.

[8] Marquis de Denonville ordered the arrest of Radisson wherever he
might be found.

[9] Appendix; see State Papers.






M. de la Vérendrye continues the Exploration of the Great Northwest by
establishing a Chain of Fur Posts across the Continent--Privations of
the Explorers and the Massacre of Twenty Followers--His Sons visit the
Mandans and discover the Rockies--The Valley of the Saskatchewan is
next explored, but Jealousy thwarts the Explorer, and he dies in Poverty



A curious paradox is that the men who have done the most for North
America did not intend to do so.  They set out on the far quest of a
crack-brained idealist's dream.  They pulled up at a foreshortened
purpose; but the unaccomplished aim did more for humanity than the
idealist's dream.

Columbus set out to find Asia.  He discovered America.  Jacques Cartier
sought a mythical passage to the Orient.  He found a northern empire.
La Salle thought to reach China.  He succeeded only in exploring the
valley of the Mississippi, but the new continent so explored has done
more for humanity than Asia from time immemorial.  Of all crack-brained
dreams that led to far-reaching results, none was wilder than the
search for the Western Sea.  Marquette, Jolliet, and La Salle had
followed the trail that Radisson had blazed and explored the valley of
the Mississippi; but like a will-o'-the-wisp beckoning ever westward
was that undiscovered myth, the Western Sea, thought to lie like a
narrow strait between America and Japan.

The search began in earnest one sweltering afternoon on June 8, 1731,
at the little stockaded fort on the banks of the St. Lawrence, where
Montreal stands to-day.  Fifty grizzled adventurers--wood runners,
voyageurs, Indian interpreters--bareheaded, except for the colored
handkerchief binding back the lank hair, dressed in fringed buckskin,
and chattering with the exuberant nonchalance of boys out of school,
had finished gumming the splits of their ninety-foot birch canoes, and
now stood in line awaiting the coming of their captain, Sieur Pierre
Gaultier de Varennes de la Vérendrye.  The French soldier with his
three sons, aged respectively eighteen, seventeen, and sixteen, now
essayed to discover the fabled Western Sea, whose narrow waters were
supposed to be between the valley of the "Great Forked River" and the
Empire of China.

[Illustration: Indians and Hunters spurring to the Fight.]

Certainly, if it were worth while for Peter the Great of Russia to send
Vitus Bering coasting the bleak headlands of ice-blocked, misty shores
to find the Western Sea, it would--as one of the French governors
reported--"be nobler than open war" for the little colony of New France
to discover this "sea of the setting sun."  The quest was invested with
all the rainbow tints of "_la gloire_"; but the rainbow hopes were
founded on the practical basis of profits.  Leading merchants of
Montreal had advanced goods for trade with the Indians on the way to
the Western Sea.  Their expectations of profits were probably the same
as the man's who buys a mining share for ten cents and looks for
dividends of several thousand per cent.  And the fur trade at that time
was capable of yielding such profits.  Traders had gone West with less
than $2000 worth of goods in modern money, and returned three years
later with a sheer profit of a quarter of a million.  Hope of such
returns added zest to De la Vérendrye's venture for the discovery of
the Western Sea.

Goods done up in packets of a hundred pounds lay at the feet of the
_voyageurs_ awaiting De la Vérendrye's command.  A dozen soldiers in
the plumed hats, slashed buskins, the brightly colored doublets of the
period, joined the motley company.  Priests came out to bless the
departing _voyageurs_.  Chapel bells rang out their God-speed.  To the
booming of cannon, and at a word from De la Vérendrye, the gates
opened.  Falling in line with measured tread, the soldiers marched out
from Mount Royal.  Behind, in the ambling gait of the moccasined
woodsman, came the _voyageurs_ and _coureurs_ and interpreters,
pack-straps across their foreheads, packets on the bent backs, the long
birch canoes hoisted to the shoulders of four men, two abreast at each
end, heads hidden in the inverted keel.

The path led between the white fret of Lachine Rapids and the dense
forests that shrouded the base of Mount Royal.  Checkerboard squares of
farm patches had been cleared in the woods.  La Salle's old
thatch-roofed seigniory lay not far back from the water.  St. Anne's
was the launching place for fleets of canoes that were to ascend the
Ottawa.  Here, a last look was taken of splits and seams in the birch
keels.  With invocations of St. Anne in one breath, and invocations of
a personage not mentioned in the curé's "petee cat-ee-cheesm" in the
next breath, and imprecations that their "souls might be smashed on the
end of a picket fence,"--the _voyageur's_ common oath even to this
day,--the boatmen stored goods fore, aft, and athwart till each long
canoe sank to the gunwale as it was gently pushed out on the water.  A
last sign of the cross, and the lithe figures leap light as a mountain
cat to their place in the canoes.  There are four benches of paddlers,
two abreast, with bowman and steersman, to each canoe.  One can guess
that the explorer and his sons and his nephew, Sieur de la Jemmeraie,
who was to be second in command, all unhatted as they heard the long
last farewell of the bells.  Every eye is fastened on the chief
bowman's steel-shod pole, held high--there is silence but for the
bells--the bowman's pole is lowered--as with one stroke out sweep the
paddles in a poetry of motion.  The chimes die away over the water, the
chapel spire gleams--it, too, is gone.  Some one strikes up a plaintive
ditty,--the _voyageur's_ song of the lost lady and the faded roses, or
the dying farewell of Cadieux, the hunter, to his comrades,--and the
adventurers are launched for the Western Sea.

[Illustration: Fight at the Foot-hills of the Rockies between Crows and



Every mile westward was consecrated by heroism.  There was the place
where Cadieux, the white hunter, went ashore single-handed to hold the
Iroquois at bay, while his comrades escaped by running the rapids; but
Cadieux was assailed by a subtler foe than the Iroquois, _la folie des
bois_,--the folly of the woods,--that sends the hunter wandering in
endless circles till he dies from hunger; and when his companions
returned, Cadieux lay in eternal sleep with a death chant scribbled on
bark across his breast.  There were the Rapids of the Long Sault where
Dollard and seventeen Frenchmen fought seven hundred Iroquois till
every white man fell.  Not one of all De la Vérendrye's fifty followers
but knew that perils as great awaited him.

Streaked foam told the voyageurs where they were approaching rapids.
Alert as a hawk, the bowman stroked for the shore; and his stroke was
answered by all paddles.  If the water were high enough to carry the
canoes above rocks, and the rapids were not too violent, several of the
boatmen leaped out to knees in water, and "tracked" the canoes up
stream; but this was unusual with loaded craft.  The bowman steadied
the beached keel.  Each man landed with pack on his back, lighted his
pipe, and trotted away over portages so dank and slippery that only a
moccasined foot could gain hold.  On long portages, camp-fires were
kindled and the kettles slung on the crotched sticks for the evening
meal.  At night, the voyageurs slept under the overturned canoes, or
lay on the sand with bare faces to the sky.  Morning mist had not risen
till all the boats were once more breasting the flood of the Ottawa.
For a month the canoe prows met the current when a portage lifted the
fleet out of the Ottawa into a shallow stream flowing toward Lake
Nipissing, and from Lake Nipissing to Lake Huron.  The change was a
welcome relief.  The canoes now rode with the current; and when a wind
sprang up astern, blanket sails were hoisted that let the boatmen lie
back, paddles athwart.  Going with the stream, the _voyageurs_ would
"run"--"_sauter les rapides_"--the safest of the cataracts.  Bowman,
not steersman, was the pilot of such "runs."  A faint, far swish as of
night wind, little forward leaps and swirls of the current, the blur of
trees  on  either bank, were signs to the bowman.  He rose in his
place.  A thrust of the steel-shod pole at a rock in mid-stream--the
rock raced past; a throb of the keel to the live waters below--the
bowman crouches back, lightening the prow just as a rider "lifts" his
horse to the leap; a sudden splash--the thing has happened--the canoe
has run the rapids or shot the falls.

[Illustration:  "Each man landed with pack on his back, and trotted
away over portages."]

Pause was made at Lake Huron for favorable weather; and a rear wind
would carry the canoes at a bouncing pace clear across to
Michilimackinac, at the mouth of Lake Michigan.  This was the chief fur
post of the lakes at that time.  All the boats bound east or west,
Sioux and Cree and Iroquois and Fox, traders' and priests' and
outlaws'--stopped at Michilimackinac.  Vice and brandy and religion
were the characteristics of the fort.

[Illustration: A Cree Indian of the Minnesota Borderlands.]

This was familiar ground to De la Vérendrye.  It was at the lonely fur
post of Nepigon, north of Michilimackinac, in the midst of a wilderness
forest, that he had eaten his heart out with baffled ambition from 1728
to 1730, when he descended to Montreal to lay before M. de Beauharnois,
the governor, plans for the discovery of the Western Sea.  Born at
Three Rivers in 1686, where the passion for discovery and Radisson's
fame were in the very air and traders from the wilderness of the Upper
Country wintered, young Pierre Gaultier de Varennes de la Vérendrye, at
the ambitious age of fourteen, determined that he would become a
discoverer.[2]  At eighteen he was fighting in New England, at nineteen
in Newfoundland, at twenty-three in Europe at the battle of Malplaquet,
where he was carried off the field with nine wounds.  Eager for more
distinguished service, he returned to Canada in his twenty-seventh
year, only to find himself relegated to an obscure trading post in far
Northern wilds.  Then the boyhood ambitions reawakened.  All France and
Canada, too, were ringing with projects for the discovery of the
Western Sea.  Russia was acting.  France knew it.  The great priest
Charlevoix had been sent to Canada to investigate plans for the
venture, and had recommended an advance westward through the country of
the Sioux; but the Sioux[3] swarmed round the little fort at Lake Pepin
on the Mississippi like angry wasps.  That way, exploration was plainly
barred.  Nothing came of the attempt except a brisk fur trade and a
brisker warfare on the part of the Sioux.  At the lonely post of
Nepigon, vague Indian tales came to De la Vérendrye of "a great river
flowing west" and "a vast, flat country devoid of timber" with "large
herds of cattle."  Ochagach, an old Indian, drew maps on birch bark
showing rivers that emptied into the Western Sea.  De la Vérendrye's
smouldering ambitions kindled.  He hurried to Michilimackinac.  There
the traders and Indians told the same story.  Glory seemed suddenly
within De la Vérendrye's grasp.  Carried away with the passion for
discovery that ruled his age, he took passage in the canoes bound for
Quebec.  The Marquis Charles de Beauharnois had become governor.  His
brother Claude had taken part in the exploration of the Mississippi.
The governor favored the project of the Western Sea.  Perhaps Russia's
activity gave edge to the governor's zest; but he promised De la
Vérendrye the court's patronage and prestige.  This was not money.
France would not advance the enthusiast one sou, but granted him a
monopoly of the fur trade in the countries which he might discover.
The winter of 1731-1732 was spent by De la Vérendrye as the guest of
the governor at Château St. Louis, arranging with merchants to furnish
goods for trade; and on May 19 the agreement was signed.  By a lucky
coincidence, the same winter that M. de la Vérendrye had come down to
Quebec, there had arrived from the Mississippi fort, his nephew,
Christopher Dufrost, Sieur de la Jemmeraie, who had commanded the Sioux
post and been prisoner among the Indians.  So M. de la Vérendrye chose
Jemmeraie for lieutenant.

And now the explorer was back at Michilimackinac, on the way to the
accomplishment of the daring ambition of his life.  The trip from
Montreal had fatigued the _voyageurs_.  Brandy flowed at the lake post
freely as at a modern mining camp.  The explorer kept military
discipline over his men.  They received no pay which could be
squandered away on liquor.  Discontent grew rife.  Taking Father
Messaiger, the Jesuit, as chaplain, M. de la Vérendrye ordered his
grumbling _voyageurs_ to their canoes, and, passing through the Straits
of the Sault, headed his fleet once more for the Western Sea.  Other
explorers had preceded him on this part of the route.  The Jesuits had
coasted the north shore of Lake Superior.  So had Radisson.  In 1688 De
Noyon of Three Rivers had gone as far west as the Lake of the Woods
towards what is now Minnesota and Manitoba; and in 1717 De Lanoue had
built a fur post at Kaministiquia, near what is now Fort William on
Lake Superior.  The shore was always perilous to the boatman of frail
craft.  The harbors were fathoms deep, and the waves thrashed by a
cross wind often proved as dangerous as the high sea.  It took M. de la
Vérendrye's canoemen a month to coast from the Straits of Mackinaw to
Kaministiquia, which they reached on the 26th of August, seventy-eight
days after they had left Montreal.  The same distance is now traversed
in two days.

Prospects were not encouraging.  The crews were sulky.  Kaministiquia
was the outermost post in the West.  Within a month, the early Northern
winter would set in.  One hunter can scramble for his winter's food
where fifty will certainly starve; and the Indians could not be
expected back from the chase with supplies of furs and food till
spring.  The canoemen had received no pay.  Free as woodland denizens,
they chafed under military command.  Boats were always setting out at
this season for the homeland hamlets of the St. Lawrence; and perhaps
other hunters told De la Vérendrye's men that this Western Sea was a
will-o'-the-wisp that would lead for leagues and leagues over strange
lands, through hostile tribes, to a lonely death in the wilderness.
When the explorer ordered his men once more in line to launch for the
Western Sea, there was outright mutiny.  Soldiers and boatmen refused
to go on.  The Jesuit Messaiger threatened and expostulated with the
men.  Jemmeraie, who had been among the Sioux, interceded with the
_voyageurs_.  A compromise was effected.  Half the boatmen would go
ahead with Jemmeraie if M. de la Vérendrye would remain with the other
half at Lake Superior as a rear guard for retreat and the supply of
provisions.  So the explorer suffered his first check in the advance to
the Western Sea.



Equipping four canoes, Lieutenant de la Jemmeraie and young Jean
Ba'tiste de la Vérendrye set out with thirty men from Kaministiquia,
_portaged_ through dense forests over moss and dank rock past the high
cataract of the falls, and launched westward to prepare a fort for the
reception of their leader in spring.  Before winter had closed
navigation, Fort St. Pierre--named in honor of the explorer--had been
erected on the left bank or Minnesota side of Rainy Lake, and the two
young men not only succeeded in holding their mutinous followers, but
drove a thriving trade in furs with the Crees.  Perhaps the furs were
obtained at too great cost, for ammunition and firearms were the price
paid, but the same mistake has been made at a later day for a lesser
object than the discovery of the Western Sea.  The spring of 1732 saw
the young men back at Lake Superior, going post-haste to
Michilimackinac to exchange furs for the goods from Montreal.

On the 8th of June, exactly a year from the day that he had left
Montreal, M. de la Vérendrye pushed forward with all his people for
Fort St. Pierre.  Five weeks later he was welcomed inside the
stockades.  Uniformed soldiers were a wonder to the awe-struck Crees,
who hung round the gateway with hands over their hushed lips.  Gifts of
ammunition won the loyalty of the chiefs.  Not to be lacking in
generosity, the Indians collected fifty of their gaudiest canoes and
offered to escort the explorer west to the Lake of the Woods.  De la
Vérendrye could not miss such an offer.  Though his _voyageurs_ were
fatigued, he set out at once.  He had reached Fort St. Pierre on July
14.  In August his entire fleet glided over the Lake of the Woods.  The
threescore canoes manned by the Cree boatmen threaded the shadowy
defiles and labyrinthine channels of the Lake of the Woods--or Lake of
the Isles--coasting island after island along the south or Minnesota
shore westward to the opening of the river at the northwest angle.
This was the border of the Sioux territory.  Before the boatmen opened
the channel of an unknown river.  Around them were sheltered harbors,
good hunting, and good fishing.  The Crees favored this region for
winter camping ground because they could hide their families from the
Sioux on the sheltered islands of the wooded lake.  Night frosts had
painted the forests red.  The flacker of wild-fowl overhead, the skim
of ice forming on the lake, the poignant sting of the north wind--all
fore-warned winter's approach.  Jean de la Vérendrye had not come up
with the supplies from Michilimackinac.  The explorer did not tempt
mutiny by going farther.  He ordered a halt and began building a fort
that was to be the centre of operations between Montreal and the
unfound Western Sea.  The fort was named St. Charles in honor of
Beauharnois.  It was defended by four rows of thick palisades fifteen
feet high.  In the middle of the enclosure stood the living quarters,
log cabins with thatched roofs.

[Illustration: A Group of Cree Indians.]

By October the Indians had scattered to their hunting-grounds like
leaves to the wind.  The ice thickened.  By November the islands were
ice-locked and snow had drifted waist-high through the forests.  The
_voyageurs_ could still fish through ice holes for food; but where was
young Jean who was to bring up provisions from Michilimackinac?  The
commander did not voice his fears; and his men were too deep in the
wilds for desertion.  One afternoon, a shout sounded from the silent
woods, and out from the white-edged evergreens stepped a figure on
snowshoes--Jean de la Vérendrye, leading his boatmen, with the
provisions packed on their backs, from a point fifty miles away where
the ice had caught the canoes.  If the supplies had not come, the
explorer could neither have advanced nor retreated in spring.  It was a
risk that De la Vérendrye did not intend to have repeated.  Suspecting
that his merchant partners were dissatisfied, he sent Jemmeraie down to
Montreal in 1733 to report and urge the necessity for prompt forwarding
of all supplies.  With Jemmeraie went the Jesuit Messaiger; but their
combined explanations failed to satisfy the merchants of Montreal.  De
la Vérendrye had now been away three years.  True, he had constructed
two fur posts and sent East two cargoes of furs.  His partners were
looking for enormous wealth.  Disappointed and caring nothing for the
Western Sea; perhaps, too, secretly accusing De la Vérendrye of making
profits privately, as many a gentleman of fortune did,--the merchants
decided to advance provisions only in proportion to earnings.  What
would become of the fifty men in the Northern wilderness the partners
neither asked nor cared.

Young Jean had meanwhile pushed on and built Fort Maurepas on Lake
Winnipeg; but his father dared not leave Fort St. Charles without
supplies.  De la Vérendrye's position was now desperate.  He was
hopelessly in debt to his men for wages.  That did not help discipline.
His partners were not only withholding supplies, but charging up a high
rate of interest on the first equipment.  To turn back meant ruin.  To
go forward he was powerless.  Leaving Jemmeraie in command, and
permitting his eager son to go ahead with a few picked men to Fort
Maurepas on Lake Winnipeg, De la Vérendrye took a small canoe and
descended with all swiftness to Quebec.  The winter of 1634-1635 was
spent with the governor; and the partners were convinced that they must
either go on with the venture or lose all.  They consented to continue
supplying goods, but also charging all outlay against the explorer.

Father Aulneau went back with De la Vérendrye as chaplain.  The trip
was made at terrible speed, in the hottest season, through stifling
forest fires.  Behind, at slower pace, came the provisions.  De la
Vérendrye reached the Lake of the Woods in September.  Fearing the
delay of the goods for trade, and dreading the danger of famine with so
many men in one place, De la Vérendrye despatched Jemmeraie to winter
with part of the forces at Lake Winnipeg, where Jean and Pierre, the
second son, had built Fort Maurepas.  The worst fears were realized.
Ice had blocked the Northern rivers by the time the supplies had come
to Lake Superior.  Fishing failed.  The hunt was poor.  During the
winter of 1736 food became scantier at the little forts of St. Pierre,
St. Charles, and Maurepas.  Rations were reduced from three times to
once and twice a day.  By spring De la Vérendrye was put to all the
extremities of famine-stricken traders, his men subsisting on
parchment, moccasin leather, roots, and their hunting dogs.

He was compelled to wait at St. Charles for the delayed supplies.
While he waited came blow upon blow: Jean and Pierre arrived from Fort
Maurepas with news that Jemmeraie had died three weeks before on his
way down to aid De la Vérendrye.  Wrapped in a hunter's robe, his body
was buried in the sand-bank of a little Northern stream, La Fourche des
Roseaux.  Over the lonely grave the two brothers had erected a cross.
Father and sons took stock of supplies.  They had not enough powder to
last another month, and already the Indians were coming in with furs
and food to be traded for ammunition.  If the Crees had known the
weakness of the white men, short work might have been made of Fort St.
Charles.  It never entered the minds of De la Vérendrye and his sons to
give up.  They decided to rush three canoes of twenty _voyageurs_ to
Michilimackinac for food and powder.  Father Aulneau, the young priest,
accompanied the boatmen to attend a religious retreat at
Michilimackinac.  It had been a hard year for the youthful missionary.
The ship that brought him from France had been plague-stricken.  The
trip to Fort St. Charles had been arduous and swift, through stifling
heat; and the year passed in the North was one of famine.

Accompanied by the priest and led by Jean de la Vérendrye, now in his
twenty-third year, the _voyageurs_ embarked hurriedly on the 8th of
June, 1736, five years to a day from the time that they left
Montreal--and a fateful day it was--in the search for the Western Sea.
The Crees had always been friendly; and when the boatmen landed on a
sheltered island twenty miles from Fort St. Charles to camp for the
night, no sentry was stationed.  The lake lay calm as glass in the hot
June night, the camp-fire casting long lines across the water that
could be seen for miles.  An early start was to be made in the morning
and a furious pace to be kept all the way to Lake Superior, and the
_voyageurs_ were presently sound asleep on the sand.  The keenest ears
could scarcely have distinguished the soft lapping of muffled paddles;
and no one heard the moccasined tread of ambushed Indians
reconnoitring.  Seventeen Sioux stepped from their canoes, stole from
cover to cover, and looked out on the unsuspecting sleepers.  Then the
Indians as noiselessly slipped back to their canoes to carry word of
the discovery to a band of marauders.

[Illustration: "The soldiers marched out from Mount Royal."]

Something had occurred at Fort St. Charles without M. de la Vérendrye's
knowledge.  Hilarious with their new possessions of firearms, and
perhaps, also, mad with the brandy of which Father Aulneau had
complained, a few mischievous Crees had fired from the fort on
wandering Sioux of the prairie.

"Who--fire--on--us?" demanded the outraged Sioux.

"The French," laughed the Crees.

The Sioux at once went back to a band of one hundred and thirty
warriors.  "Tigers of the plains" the Sioux were called, and now the
tigers' blood was up.  They set out to slay the first white man seen.
By chance, he was one Bourassa, coasting by himself.  Taking him
captive, they had tied him to burn him, when a slave squaw rushed out,
crying: "What would you do?  This Frenchman is a friend of the Sioux!
He saved my life!  If you desire to be avenged, go farther on!  You
will find a camp of Frenchmen, among whom is the son of the white

The _voyageur_ was at once unbound, and scouts scattered to find the
white men.  Night had passed before the scouts had carried news of Jean
de la Vérendrye's men to the marauding warriors.  The ghostly gray of
dawn saw the _voyageurs_ paddling swiftly through the morning mist from
island to island of the Lake of the Woods.  Cleaving the mist behind,
following solely by the double foam wreaths rippling from the canoe
prows, came the silent boats of the Sioux.  When sunrise lifted the
fog, the pursuers paused like stealthy cats.  At sunrise Jean de la
Vérendrye landed his crews for breakfast.  Camp-fires told the Indians
where to follow.

A few days later bands of Sautaux came to the camping ground of the
French.  The heads of the white men lay on a beaver skin.  All had been
scalped.  The missionary, Aulneau, was on his knees, as if in morning
prayers.  An arrow projected from his head.  His left hand was on the
earth, fallen forward, his right hand uplifted, invoking Divine aid.
Young Vérendrye lay face down, his back hacked to pieces, a spear sunk
in his waist, the headless body mockingly decorated with porcupine
quills.  So died one of the bravest of the young nobility in New France.

The Sautaux erected a cairn of stones over the bodies of the dead.  All
that was known of the massacre was vague Indian gossip.  The Sioux
reported that they had not intended to murder the priest, but a
crazy-brained fanatic had shot the fatal arrow and broken from
restraint, weapon in hand.  Rain-storms had washed out all marks of the

In September the bodies of the victims were carried to Fort St.
Charles, and interred in the chapel.  Eight hundred Crees besought M.
de la Vérendrye to let them avenge the murder; but the veteran of
Malplaquet exhorted them not to war.  Meanwhile, Fort St. Charles
awaited the coming of supplies from Lake Superior.



A week passed, and on the 17th of June the canoe loads of ammunition
and supplies for which the murdered _voyageurs_ had been sent arrived
at Fort St. Charles.  In June the Indian hunters came in with the
winter's hunt; and on the 20th thirty Sautaux hurried to Fort St.
Charles, to report that they had found the mangled bodies of the
massacred Frenchmen on an island seven leagues from the fort.  Again La
Vérendrye had to choose whether to abandon his cherished dreams, or
follow them at the risk of ruin and death.  As before, when his men had
mutinied, he determined to advance.

Jean, the eldest son, was dead.  Pierre and François were with their
father.  Louis, the youngest, now seventeen years of age, had come up
with the supplies.  Pierre at once went to Lake Winnipeg, to prepare
Fort Maurepas for the reception of all the forces.  Winter set in.
Snow lay twelve feet deep in the forests now known as the Minnesota
Borderlands.  On February 8, 1737, in the face of a biting north wind,
with the thermometer at forty degrees below zero, M. de la Vérendrye
left Fort St. Charles, François carrying the French flag, with ten
soldiers, wearing snow-shoes, in line behind, and two or three hundred
Crees swathed in furs bringing up a ragged rear.  The bright uniforms
of the soldiers were patches of red among the snowy everglades.
Bivouac was made on beds of pine boughs,--feet to the camp-fire, the
night frost snapping like a whiplash, the stars flashing with a steely
clearness known only in northern climes.  The march was at a swift
pace, for three weeks by canoe is short enough time to traverse the
Minnesota and Manitoba Borderlands northwest to Lake Winnipeg; and in
seventeen days M. de la Vérendrye was at Fort Maurepas.

Fort Maurepas (in the region of the modern Alexander) lay on a tongue
of sand extending into the lake a few miles beyond the entrance of Red
River.  Tamarack and poplar fringe the shore; and in windy weather the
lake is lashed into a roughness that resembles the flux of ocean tides.
I remember once going on a steamer towards the site of Maurepas.  The
ship drew lightest of draft.  While we were anchored the breeze fell,
and the ship was stranded as if by ebb tide for twenty-four hours.  The
action of the wind explained the Indian tales of an ocean tide, which
had misled La Vérendrye into expecting to find the Western Sea at this
point.  He found a magnificent body of fresh water, but not the ocean.
The fort was the usual pioneer fur post--a barracks of unbarked logs,
chinked up with frozen clay and moss, roofed with branches and snow,
occupying the centre of a courtyard, palisaded by slabs of pine logs.
M. de la Vérendrye was now in the true realm of the explorer--in
territory where no other white man had trod.  With a shout his motley
forces emerged from the snowy tamaracks, and with a shout from Pierre
de la Vérendrye and his tawny followers the explorer was welcomed
through the gateway of little Fort Maurepas.

[Illustration: Traders' Boats running the Rapids of the Athabasca

Pierre de la Vérendrye had heard of a region to the south much
frequented by the Assiniboine Indians, who had conducted Radisson to
the Sea of the North fifty years before--the Forks where the
Assiniboine River joins the Red, and the city of Winnipeg stands
to-day.  It was reported that game was plentiful here.  Two hundred
tepees of Assiniboines were awaiting the explorer.  His forces were
worn with their marching, but in a few weeks the glaze of ice above the
fathomless drifts of snow would be too rotten for travel, and not until
June would the riverways be clear for canoes.  But such a scant supply
of goods had his partners sent up that poor De la Vérendrye had nothing
to trade with the waiting Assiniboines.  Sending his sons forward to
reconnoitre the Forks of the Assiniboine,--the modern Winnipeg,--he set
out for Montreal as soon as navigation opened, taking with him fourteen
great canoes of precious furs.

The fourteen canoe loads proved his salvation.  As long as there were
furs and prospects of furs, his partners would back the enterprise of
finding the Western Sea.  The winter of 1738 was spent as the guest of
the governor at Château St. Louis.  The partners were satisfied, and
plucked up hope of their venture.  They would advance provisions in
proportion to earnings.  By September he was back at Fort Maurepas on
Lake Winnipeg, pushing for the undiscovered bourne of the Western Sea.
Leaving orders for trade with the chief clerk at Maurepas, De la
Vérendrye picked out his most intrepid men; and in September of 1738,
for the first time in history, white men glided up the ochre-colored,
muddy current of the Red for the Forks of the Assiniboine.  Ten Cree
wigwams and two war chiefs awaited De la Vérendrye on the low flats of
what are now known as South Winnipeg.  Not the fabled Western Sea, but
an illimitable ocean of rolling prairie--the long russet grass rising
and falling to the wind like waves to the run of invisible
feet--stretched out before the eager eyes of the explorer.  Northward
lay the autumn-tinged brushwood of Red River.  South, shimmering in the
purple mists of Indian summer, was Red River Valley.  Westward the sun
hung like a red shield, close to the horizon, over vast reaches of
prairie billowing to the sky-line in the tide of a boundless ocean.
Such was the discovery of the Canadian Northwest.

Doubtless the weary gaze of the tired _voyageurs_ turned longingly
westward.  Where was the Western Sea?  Did it lie just beyond the
horizon where skyline and prairie met, or did the trail of their quest
run on--on--on--endlessly?  The Assiniboine flows into the Red, the Red
into Lake Winnipeg, the Lake into Hudson Bay.  Plainly, Assiniboine
Valley was not the way to the Western Sea.  But what lay just beyond
this Assiniboine Valley?  An old Cree chief warned the boatmen that the
Assiniboine River was very low and would wreck the canoes; but he also
told vague yarns of "great waters beyond the mountains of the setting
sun," where white men dwelt, and the waves came in a tide, and the
waters were salt.  The Western Sea where the Spaniards dwelt had long
been known.  It was a Western Sea to the north, that would connect
Louisiana and Canada, that De la Vérendrye sought.  The Indian fables,
without doubt, referred to a sea beyond the Assiniboine River, and
thither would De la Vérendrye go at any cost.  Some sort of barracks or
shelter was knocked up on the south side of the Assiniboine opposite
the flats.  It was subsequently known as Fort Rouge, after the color of
the adjacent river, and was the foundation of Winnipeg.  Leaving men to
trade at Fort Rouge, De la Vérendrye set out on September 26, 1738, for
the height of land that must lie beyond the sources of the Assiniboine.
De la Vérendrye was now like a man hounded by his own Frankenstein.  A
thousand leagues--every one marked by disaster and failure and sinking
hopes--lay behind him.  A thousand leagues of wilderness lay before
him.  He had only a handful of men.  The Assiniboine Indians were of
dubious friendliness.  The white men were scarce of food.  In a few
weeks they would be exposed to the terrible rigors of Northern winter.
Yet they set their faces toward the west, types of the pioneers who
have carved empire out of wilderness.

[Illustration: The Ragged Sky-line of the Mountains.]

The Assiniboine was winding and low, with many sand bars.  On the
wooded banks deer and buffalo grazed in such countless multitudes that
the boatmen took them for great herds of cattle.  Flocks of wild geese
darkened the sky overhead.  As the boats wound up the shallows of the
river, ducks rose in myriad flocks.  Prairie wolves skulked away from
the river bank, and the sand-hill cranes were so unused to human
presence that they scarcely rose as the voyageurs poled past.  While
the boatmen poled, the soldiers marched in military order across
country, so avoiding the bends of the river.  Daily, Crees and
Assiniboines of the plains joined the white men.  A week after leaving
the Forks or Fort Rouge, De la Vérendrye came to the Portage of the
Prairie, leading north to Lake Manitoba and from the lake to Hudson
Bay.  Clearly, northward was not the way to the Western Sea; but the
Assiniboines told of a people to the southwest--the Mandans--who knew a
people who lived on the Western Sea.  As soon as his baggage came up,
De la Vérendrye ordered the construction of a fort--called De la
Reine--on the banks of the Assiniboine.  This was to be the forwarding
post for the Western Sea.  To the Mandans living on the Missouri, who
knew a people living on salt water, De la Vérendrye now directed his

[Illustration: Hungry Hall, 1870; near the site of the Vérendrye Fort
in Rainy River Region.]

On the morning of October 18 drums beat to arms.  Additional men had
come up from the other forts.  Fifty-two soldiers and _voyageurs_ now
stood in line.  Arms were inspected.  To each man were given powder,
balls, axe, and kettle.  Pierre and François de la Vérendrye hoisted
the French flag.  For the first time a bugle call sounded over the
prairie.  At the word, out stepped the little band of white men,
marking time for the Western Sea.  The course lay west-southwest, up
the Souris River, through wooded ravines now stripped of foliage, past
alkali sloughs ice-edged by frost, over rolling cliffs russet and bare,
where gopher and badger and owl and roving buffalo were the only signs
of life.  On the 21st of October two hundred Assiniboine warriors
joined the marching white men.  In the sheltered ravines buffalo grazed
by the hundreds of thousands, and the march was delayed by frequent
buffalo hunts to gather pemmican--pounded marrow and fat of the
buffalo--which was much esteemed by the Mandans.  Within a month so
many Assiniboines had joined the French that the company numbered more
than six hundred warriors, who were ample protection against the Sioux;
and the Sioux were the deadly terror of all tribes of the plains.  But
M.  de la Vérendrye was expected to present ammunition to his
Assiniboine friends.

Four outrunners went speeding to the Missouri to notify the Mandans of
the advancing warriors.  The _coureurs_ carried presents of pemmican.
To prevent surprise, the Assiniboines marched under the sheltered
slopes of the hills and observed military order.  In front rode the
warriors, dressed in garnished buckskin and armed with spears and
arrows.  Behind, on foot, came the old and the lame.  To the rear was
another guard of warriors.  Lagging in ragged lines far back came a
ragamuffin brigade, the women, children, and dogs--squaws astride
cayuses lean as barrel hoops, children in moss bags on their mothers'
backs, and horses and dogs alike harnessed with the _travaille_--two
sticks tied into a triangle, with the shafts fastened to a cinch on
horse or dog.  The joined end of the shafts dragged on the ground, and
between them hung the baggage, surmounted by papoose, or pet owl, or
the half-tamed pup of a prairie-wolf, or even a wild-eyed young squaw
with hair flying to the wind.  At night camp was made in a circle
formed of the hobbled horses.  Outside, the dogs scoured in pursuit of
coyotes.  The women and children took refuge in the centre, and the
warriors slept near their picketed horses.  By the middle of November
the motley cavalcade had crossed the height of land between the
Assiniboine River and the Missouri, and was heading for the Mandan
villages.  Mandan _coureurs_ came out to welcome the visitors,
pompously presenting De la Vérendrye with corn in the ear and tobacco.
At this stage, the explorer discovered that his bag of presents for his
hosts had been stolen by the Assiniboines; but he presented the Mandans
with what ammunition he could spare, and gave them plenty of pemmican
which his hunters had cured.  The two tribes drove a brisk trade in
furs, which the northern Indians offered, and painted plumes, which the
Mandans displayed to the envy of Assiniboine warriors.

On the 3d of December, De la Vérendrye's sons stepped before the ragged
host of six hundred savages with the French flag hoisted.  The explorer
himself was lifted to the shoulders of the Mandan _coureurs_.  A gun
was fired and the strange procession set out for the Mandan villages.
In this fashion white men first took possession of the Upper Missouri.
Some miles from the lodges a band of old chiefs met De la Vérendrye and
gravely handed him a grand calumet of pipestone ornamented with eagle
feathers.  This typified peace.  De la Vérendrye ordered his fifty
French followers to draw up in line.  The sons placed the French flag
four paces to the fore.  The Assiniboine warriors took possession in
stately Indian silence to the right and left of the whites.  At a
signal three thundering volleys of musketry were fired.  The Mandans
fell back, prostrated with fear and wonder.  The command "forward" was
given, and the Mandan village was entered in state at four in the
afternoon of December 3, 1738.

The village was in much the same condition as a hundred years later
when visited by Prince Maximilian and by the artist Catlin.  It
consisted of circular huts, with thatched roofs, on which perched the
gaping women and children.  Around the village of huts ran a moat or
ditch, which was guarded in time of war with the Sioux.  Flags flew
from the centre poles of each hut; but the flags were the scalps of
enemies slain.  In the centre of the village was a larger hut.  This
was the "medicine lodge," or council hall, of the chiefs, used only for
ceremonies of religion and war and treaties of peace.  Thither De la
Vérendrye was conducted.  Here the Mandan chiefs sat on buffalo robes
in a circle round the fire, smoking the calumet, which was handed to
the white man.  The explorer then told the Indians of his search for
the Western Sea.  Of a Western Sea they could tell him nothing
definite.  They knew a people far west who grew corn and tobacco and
who lived on the shores of water that was bitter for drinking.  The
people were white.  They dressed in armor and lived in houses of stone.
Their country was full of mountains.  More of the Western Sea, De la
Vérendrye could not learn.

Meanwhile, six hundred Assiniboine visitors were a tax on the
hospitality of the Mandans, who at once spread a rumor of a Sioux raid.
This gave speed to the Assiniboines' departure.  Among the Assiniboines
who ran off in precipitate fright was De la Vérendrye's interpreter.
It was useless to wait longer.  The French were short of provisions,
and the Missouri Indians could not be expected to support fifty white
men.  Though it was the bitter cold of midwinter, De la Vérendrye
departed for Fort de la Reine.  Two Frenchmen were left to learn the
Missouri dialects.  A French flag in a leaden box with the arms of
France inscribed was presented to the Mandan chief; and De la Vérendrye
marched from the village on the 8th of December.  Scarcely had he left,
when he fell terribly ill; but for the pathfinder of the wilderness
there is neither halt nor retreat.  M. de la Vérendrye's ragged army
tramped wearily on, half blinded by snow glare and buffeted by prairie
blizzards, huddling in snowdrifts from the wind at night and uncertain
of their compass over the white wastes by day.  There is nothing so
deadly silent and utterly destitute of life as the prairie in
midwinter.  Moose and buffalo had sought the shelter of wooded ravines.
Here a fox track ran over the snow.  There a coyote skulked from cover,
to lope away the next instant for brushwood or hollow, and
snow-buntings or whiskey-jacks might have followed the marchers for
pickings of waste; but east, west, north, and south was nothing but the
wide, white wastes of drifted snow.  On Christmas Eve of 1738 low
curling smoke above the prairie told the wanderers that they were
nearing the Indian camps of the Assiniboines; and by nightfall of
February 10, 1739, they were under the shelter of Fort de la Reine.  "I
have never been so wretched from illness and fatigue in all my life as
on that journey," reported De la Vérendrye.  As usual, provisions were
scarce at the fort.  Fifty people had to be fed.  Buffalo and deer meat
saved the French from starvation till spring.

[Illustration: A Monarch of the Plains.]

All that De la Vérendrye had accomplished on this trip was to learn
that salt water existed west-southwest.  Anxious to know more of the
Northwest, he sent his sons to the banks of a great northern river.
This was the Saskatchewan.  In their search of the Northwest, they
constructed two more trading posts, Fort Dauphin near Lake Manitoba,
and Bourbon on the Saskatchewan.  Winter quarters were built at the
forks of the river, which afterwards became the site of Fort Poskoyac.
This spring not a canoe load of food came up from Montreal.  Papers had
been served for the seizure of all De la Vérendrye's forts, goods,
property, and chattels to meet the claims of his creditors.  Desperate,
but not deterred from his quest, De la Vérendrye set out to contest the
lawsuits in Montreal.



Which way to turn now for the Western Sea that eluded their quest like
a will-o'-the-wisp was the question confronting Pierre, François, and
Louis de la Vérendrye during the explorer's absence in Montreal.  They
had followed the great Saskatchewan westward to its forks.  No river
was found in this region flowing in the direction of the Western Sea.
They had been in the country of the Missouri; but neither did any river
there flow to a Western Sea.  Yet the Mandans told of salt water far to
the west.  Thither they would turn the baffling search.

The two men left among the Mandans to learn the language had returned
to the Assiniboine River with more news of tribes from "the setting
sun" who dwelt on salt water.  Pierre de la Vérendrye went down to the
Missouri with the two interpreters; but the Mandans refused to supply
guides that year, and the young Frenchman came back to winter on the
Assiniboine.  Here he made every preparation for another attempt to
find the Western Sea by way of the Missouri.  On April 29, 1742, the
two brothers, Pierre and François, left the Assiniboine with the two
interpreters.  Their course led along the trail that for two hundred
years was to be a famous highway between the Missouri and Hudson Bay.
Heading southwest, they followed the Souris River to the watershed of
the Missouri, and in three weeks were once more the guests of the smoky
Mandan lodges.  Round the inside walls of each circular hut ran berth
beds of buffalo skin with trophies of the chase,--hide-shields and
weapons of war, fastened to the posts that separated berth from berth.
A common fire, with a family meat pot hanging above, occupied the
centre of the lodge.  In one of these lodges the two brothers and their
men were quartered.  The summer passed feasting with the Mandans and
smoking the calumet of peace; but all was in vain.  The Missouri
Indians were arrant cowards in the matter of war.  The terror of their
existence was the Sioux.  The Mandans would not venture through Sioux
territory to accompany the brothers in the search for the Western Sea.
At last two guides were obtained, who promised to conduct the French to
a neighboring tribe that might know of the Western Sea.

[Illustration: Fur Traders' Boats towed down the Saskatchewan in the
Summer of 1900.]

The party set out on horseback, travelling swiftly southwest and along
the valley of the Little Missouri toward the Black Hills.  Here their
course turned sharply west toward the Powder River country, past the
southern bounds of the Yellowstone.  For three weeks they saw no sign
of human existence.  Deer and antelope bounded over the parched alkali
uplands.  Prairie dogs perched on top of their earth mounds, to watch
the lonely riders pass; and all night the far howl of grayish forms on
the offing of the starlit prairie told of prowling coyotes.  On the
11th of August the brothers camped on the Powder Hills.  Mounting to
the crest of a cliff, they scanned far and wide for signs of the
Indians whom the Mandans knew.  The valleys were desolate.  Kindling a
signal-fire to attract any tribes that might be roaming, they built a
hut and waited.  A month passed.  There was no answering signal.  One
of the Mandan guides took himself off in fright.  On the fifth week a
thin line of smoke rose against the distant sky.  The remaining Mandans
went to reconnoitre and found a camp of Beaux Hommes, or Crows, who
received the French well.  Obtaining fresh guides from the Crows and
dismissing the Mandans, the brothers again headed westward.  The Crows
guided them to the Horse Indians, who in turn took the French to their
next western neighbors, the Bows.  The Bows were preparing to war on
the Snakes, a mountain tribe to the west.  Tepees dotted the valley.
Women were pounding the buffalo meat into pemmican for the raiders.
The young braves spent the night with war-song and war-dance, to work
themselves into a frenzy of bravado.  The Bows were to march west; so
the French joined the warriors, gradually turning northwest toward what
is now Helena.

It was winter.  The hills were powdered with snow that obliterated all
traces of the fleeing Snakes.  The way became more mountainous and
dangerous.  Iced sloughs gave place to swift torrents and cataracts.
On New Year's day, 1743, there rose through the gray haze to the fore
the ragged sky-line of the Bighorn Mountains.  Women and children were
now left in a sheltered valley, the warriors advancing unimpeded.
François de la Vérendrye remained at the camp to guard the baggage.
Pierre went on with the raiders.  In two weeks they were at the foot of
the main range of the northern Rockies.  Against the sky the snowy
heights rose--an impassable barrier between the plains and the Western
Sea.  What lay beyond--the Beyond that had been luring them on and on,
from river to river and land to land, for more than ten years?  Surely
on the other side of those lofty summits one might look down on the
long-sought Western Sea.  Never suspecting that another thousand miles
of wilderness and mountain fastness lay between him and his quest,
young De la Vérendrye wanted to cross the Great Divide.  Destiny
decreed otherwise.  The raid of the Bows against the Snakes ended in a
fiasco.  No Snakes were to be found at their usual winter hunt.  Had
they decamped to massacre the Bow women and children left in the valley
to the rear?  The Bows fled back to their wives in a panic; so De la
Vérendrye could not climb the mountains that barred the way to the sea.
The retreat was made in the teeth of a howling mountain blizzard, and
the warriors reached the rendezvous more dead than alive.  No Snake
Indians were seen at all.  The Bows marched homeward along the valley
of the Upper Missouri through the country of the Sioux, with whom they
were allied.  On the banks of the river the brothers buried a leaden
plate with the royal arms of France imprinted.  At the end of July,
1743, they were once more back on the Assiniboine River.  For thirteen
years they had followed a hopeless quest.  Instead of a Western Sea,
they had found a sea of prairie, a sea of mountains, and two great
rivers, the Saskatchewan and the Missouri.



But the explorer, who had done so much to extend French domain in the
West, was a ruined man.  To the accusations of his creditors were added
the jealous calumnies of fur traders eager to exploit the new country.
The eldest son, with tireless energy, had gone up the Saskatchewan to
Fort Poskoyac when he was recalled to take a position in the army at
Montreal.  In 1746 De la Vérendrye himself was summoned to Quebec and
his command given to M. de Noyelles.  The game being played by jealous
rivals was plain.  De la Vérendrye was to be kept out of the West while
tools of the Quebec traders spied out the fur trade of the Assiniboine
and the Missouri.  Immediately on receiving freedom from military duty,
young Chevalier de la Vérendrye set out for Manitoba.  On the way he
met his father's successor, M. de Noyelles, coming home crestfallen.
The supplanter had failed to control the Indians.  In one year half the
forts of the chain leading to the Western Sea had been destroyed.
These Chevalier de la Vérendrye restored as he passed westward.

Governor Beauharnois had always refused to believe the charges of
private peculation against M. de la Vérendrye.  Governor de la
Galissonnière was equally favorable to the explorer; and De la
Vérendrye was decorated with the Order of the Cross of St. Louis, and
given permission to continue his explorations.  The winter of 1749 was
passed preparing supplies for the posts of the West; but a life of
hardship and disappointment had undermined the constitution of the
dauntless pathfinder.  On the 6th of December, while busy with plans
for his hazardous and thankless quest, he died suddenly at Montreal.

Rival fur traders scrambled for the spoils of the Manitoba and Missouri
territory like dogs for a bone.  De la Jonquière had become governor.
Allied with him was the infamous Bigot, the intendant, and those two
saw in the Western fur trade an opportunity to enrich themselves.  The
rights of De la Vérendrye's sons to succeed their father were entirely
disregarded.  Legardeur de Saint-Pierre was appointed commander of the
Western Sea.  The very goods forwarded by De la Vérendrye were

[Illustration: "Tepees dotted the valley."]

But Saint-Pierre had enough trouble from his appointment.  His
lieutenant, M. de Niverville, almost lost his life among hostiles on
the way down the Saskatchewan after building Fort Lajonquière at the
foothills of the Rockies, where Calgary now stands.  Saint-Pierre had
headquarters in Manitoba on the Assiniboine, and one afternoon in
midwinter, when his men were out hunting, he saw his fort suddenly fill
with armed Assiniboines bent on massacre.  They jostled him aside,
broke into the armory, and helped themselves to weapons.  Saint-Pierre
had only one recourse.  Seizing a firebrand, he tore the cover off a
keg of powder and threatened to blow the Indians to perdition.  The
marauders dashed from the fort, and Saint-Pierre shot the bolts of gate
and sally-port.  When the white hunters returned, they quickly gathered
their possessions together and abandoned Fort de la Reine.  Four days
later the fort lay in ashes.  So ended the dream of enthusiasts to find
a way overland to the Western Sea.

[1] The authorities for La Vérendrye's life are, of course, his own
reports as found in the State Papers of the Canadian Archives, Pierre
Margry's compilation of these reports, and the Rev. Father Jones'
collection of the _Aulneau Letters_.

[2] The _Pays d'en Haut_ or "Up-Country" was the vague name given by
the fur traders to the region between the Missouri and the North Pole.

[3] Throughout this volume the word "Sioux" is used as applying to the
entire confederacy, and not to the Minnesota Sioux only.







The Adventures of Hearne in his Search for the Coppermine River and the
Northwest Passage--Hilarious Life of Wassail led by Governor
Norton--The Massacre of the Eskimo by Hearne's Indians North of the
Arctic Circle--Discovery of the Athabasca Country--Hearne becomes
Resident Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, but is captured by the
French--Frightful Death of Norton and Suicide of Matonabbee

For a hundred years after receiving its charter to exploit the furs of
the North, the Hudson's Bay Company slumbered on the edge of a frozen

Its fur posts were scattered round the desolate shores of the Northern
bay like beads on a string; but the languid Company never attempted to
penetrate the unknown lands beyond the coast.  It was unnecessary.  The
Indians came to the Company.  The company did not need to go to the
Indians.  Just as surely as spring cleared the rivers of ice and set
the unlocked torrents rushing to the sea, there floated down-stream
Indian dugout and birch canoe, loaded with wealth of peltries for the
fur posts of the English Company.  So the English sat snugly secure
inside their stockades, lords of the wilderness, and drove a thriving
trade with folded hands.  For a penny knife, they bought a beaver skin;
and the skin sold in Europe for two or three shillings.  The trade of
the old Company was not brisk; but it paid.

[Illustration: An Eskimo Belle.  Note the apron of ermine and sable].

It was the prod of keen French traders that stirred the slumbering
giant.  In his search for the Western Sea, De la Vérendrye had pushed
west by way of the Great Lakes to the Missouri and the Rocky Mountains
and the Saskatchewan.  Henceforth, not so many furs came down-stream to
the English Company on the bay.  De la Vérendrye had been followed by
hosts of free-lances--_coureurs_ and _voyageurs_--who spread through
the wilderness from the Missouri to the Athabasca, intercepting the
fleets of furs that formerly went to Hudson Bay.  The English Company
rubbed its eyes; and rivals at home began to ask what had been done in
return for the charter.  France had never ceased seeking the mythical
Western Sea that was supposed to lie just beyond the Mississippi; and
when French buccaneers destroyed the English Company's forts on the
bay, the English ambassador at Paris exacted such an enormous bill of
damages that the Hudson Bay traders were enabled to build a stronger
fortress up at Prince of Wales on the mouth of Churchill River than the
French themselves possessed at Quebec on the St. Lawrence.  What--asked
the rivals of the Company in London--had been done in return for such
national protection?  France had discovered and explored a whole new
world north of the Missouri.  What had the English done?  Where did the
Western Sea of which Spain had possession in the South lie towards the
North?  What lay between the Hudson Bay and that Western Sea?  Was
there a Northwest passage by water through this region to Asia?  If
not, was there an undiscovered world in the North, like Louisiana in
the South?  There was talk of revoking the charter.  Then the Company
awakened from its long sleep with a mighty stir.

The annual boats that came out to Hudson Bay in the summer of 1769
anchored on the offing, six miles from the gray walls of Fort Prince of
Wales, and roared out a salute of cannon becoming the importance of
ships that bore almost revolutionary commissions.  The fort cannon on
the walls of Churchill River thundered their answer.  A pinnace came
scudding over the waves from the ships.  A gig boat launched out from
the fort to welcome the messengers.  Where the two met halfway, packets
of letters were handed to Moses Norton, governor at Fort Prince of
Wales, commanding him to despatch his most intrepid explorers for the
discovery of unknown rivers, strange lands, rumored copper mines, and
the mythical Northwest Passage that was supposed to lead directly to

The fort lay on a spit of sand running out into the bay at the mouth of
Churchill River.  It was three hundred yards long by three hundred
yards wide, with four bastions, in three of which were stores and wells
of water.  The fourth bastion contained the powder-magazine.  The walls
were thirty feet wide at the bottom and twenty feet wide at the top, of
hammer-dressed stone, mounted with forty great cannon.  A commodious
stone house, furnished with all the luxuries of the chase, stood in the
centre of the courtyard.  This was the residence of the governor.
Offices, warehouses, barracks, and hunters' lodges were banked round
the inner walls of the fort.  The garrison consisted of thirty-nine
common soldiers and a few officers.  In addition, there hung about the
fort the usual habitués of a Northern fur post,--young clerks from
England, who had come out for a year's experience in the wilds;
underpaid artisans, striving to mend their fortunes by illicit trade;
hunters and _coureurs_ and _voyageurs_, living like Indians but with a
strain of white blood that forever distinguished them from their
comrades; stately Indian sachems, stalking about the fort with whiffs
of contempt from their long calumets for all this white-man luxury; and
a ragamuffin brigade,--squaws, youngsters, and beggars,--who subsisted
by picking up food from the waste heap of the fort.

The commission to despatch explorers to the inland country proved the
sensation of a century at the fort.  Round the long mess-room table
gathered officers and traders, intent on the birch-bark maps drawn by
old Indian chiefs of an unknown interior, where a "Far-Off-Metal River"
flowed down to the Northwest Passage.  Huge log fires blazed on the
stone hearths at each end of the mess room.  Smoky lanterns and pine
fagots, dipped in tallow and stuck in iron clamps, shed a fitful light
from rafters that girded ceiling and walls.  On the floor of flagstones
lay enormous skins of the chase--polar bear, Arctic wolf, and grizzly.
Heads of musk-ox, caribou, and deer decorated the great timber girders.
Draped across the walls were Company flags--an English ensign with the
letters "H. B. C." painted in white on a red background, or in red on a
white background.

At the head of the table sat one of the most remarkable scoundrels
known in the annals of the Company, Moses Norton, governor of Fort
Prince of Wales, a full-blooded Indian, who had been sent to England
for nine years to be educated and had returned to the fort to resume
all the vices and none of the virtues of white man and red.
Clean-skinned, copper-colored, lithe and wiry as a tiger cat, with the
long, lank, oily black hair of his race, Norton bore himself with all
the airs of a European princelet and dressed himself in the beaded
buckskins of a savage.  Before him the Indians cringed as before one of
their demon gods, and on the same principle.  Bad gods could do the
Indians harm.  Good gods wouldn't.  Therefore, the Indians propitiated
the bad gods; and of all Indian demons Norton was the worst.  The black
arts of mediaeval poisoning were known to him, and he never scrupled to
use them against an enemy.  The Indians thought him possessed of the
power of the evil eye; but his power was that of arsenic or laudanum
dropped in the food of an unsuspecting enemy.  Two of his wives, with
all of whom he was inordinately jealous, had died of poison.  Against
white men who might offend him he used more open means,--the triangle,
the whipping post, the branding iron.  Needless to say that a man who
wielded such power swelled the Company's profits and stood high in
favor with the directors.  At his right hand lay an enormous bunch of
keys.  These he carried with him by day and kept under his pillow by
night.  They were the keys to the apartments of his many wives, for
like all Indians Norton believed in a plurality of wives, and the life
of no Indian was safe who refused to contribute a daughter to the
harem.  The two master passions of the governor were jealousy and
tyranny; and while he lived like a Turkish despot himself, he ruled his
fort with a rod of iron and left the brand of his wrath on the person
of soldier or officer who offered indignity to the Indian race.  It was
a common thing for Norton to poison an Indian who refused to permit a
daughter to join the collection of wives; then to flog the back off a
soldier who casually spoke to one of the wives in the courtyard; and in
the evening spend the entire supper hour preaching sermons on virtue to
his men.  By a curious freak, Marie, his daughter, now a child of nine,
inherited from her father the gentle qualities of the English life in
which he had passed his youth.  She shunned the native women and was
often to be seen hanging on her father's arm, as officers and governor
smoked their pipes over the mess-room table.

Near Norton sat another famous Indian, Matonabbee, the son of a slave
woman at the fort, who had grown up to become a great ambassador to the
native tribes for the English traders.  Measuring more than six feet,
straight as a lance, supple as a wrestler, thin, wiry, alert, restless
with the instinct of the wild creatures, Matonabbee was now in the
prime of his manhood, chief of the Chipewyans at the fort, and master
of life and death to all in his tribe.  It was Matonabbee whom the
English traders sent up the Saskatchewan to invite the tribes of the
Athabasca down to the bay.  The Athabascans listened to the message of
peace with a treacherous smile.  At midnight assassins stole to his
tent, overpowered his slave, and dragged the captive out.  Leaping to
his feet, Matonabbee shouted defiance, hurled his assailants aside like
so many straws, pursued the raiders to their tents, single-handed
released his slave, and marched out unscathed.  That was the way
Matonabbee had won the Athabascans for the Hudson's Bay Company.

Officers of the garrison, bluff sea-captains, spinning yarns of iceberg
and floe, soldiers and traders, made up the rest of the company.  Among
the white men was one eager face,--that of Samuel Hearne, who was to
explore the interior and now scanned the birch-bark drawings to learn
the way to the "Far-off-Metal River."

[Illustration: Samuel Hearne.]

By November 6 all was in readiness for the departure of the explorer.
Two Indian guides, who knew the way to the North, were assigned to
Hearne; two European servants went with him to look after the
provisions; and two Indian hunters joined the company.  In the gray
mist of Northern dawn, with the stars still pricking through the frosty
air, seven salutes of cannon awakened the echoes of the frozen sea.
The gates of the fort flung open, creaking with the frost rust, and
Hearne came out, followed by his little company, the dog bells of the
long toboggan sleighs setting up a merry jingling as the huskies broke
from a trot to a gallop over the snow-fields for the North.  Heading
west-northwest, the band travelled swiftly with all the enthusiasm of
untested courage.  North winds cut their faces like whip-lashes.  The
first night out there was not enough snow to make a wind-break of the
drifts; so the sleighs were piled on edge to windward, dogs and men
lying heterogeneously in their shelter.  When morning came, one of the
Indian guides had deserted.  The way became barer.  Frozen swamps
across which the storm wind swept with hurricane force were succeeded
by high, rocky barrens devoid of game, unsheltered, with barely enough
stunted shrubbery for the whittling of chips that cooked the morning
and night meals.  In a month the travellers had not accomplished ten
miles a day.  Where deer were found the Indians halted to gorge
themselves with feasts.  Where game was scarce they lay in camp,
depending on the white hunters.  Within three weeks rations had
dwindled to one partridge a day for the entire company.  The Indians
seemed to think that Hearne's white servants had secret store of food
on the sleighs.  The savages refused to hunt.  Then Hearne suspected
some ulterior design.  It was to drive him back to the fort by famine.
Henceforth, he noticed on the march that the Indians always preceded
the whites and secured any game before his men could fire a shot.  One
night toward the end of November the savages plundered the sleighs.
Hearne awakened in amazement to see the company marching off, laden
with guns, ammunition, and hatchets.  He called.  Their answer was
laughter that set the woods ringing.  Hearne was now two hundred miles
from the fort, without either ammunition or food.  There was nothing to
do but turn back.  The weather was fair.  By snaring partridges, the
white men obtained enough game to sustain them till they reached the
fort on the 11th of December.

[Illustration: Eskimo using Double-bladed Paddle.]

The question now was whether to wait till spring or set out in the
teeth of midwinter.  If Hearne left the fort in spring, he could not
possibly reach the Arctic Circle till the following winter; and with
the North buried under drifts of snow, he could not learn where lay the
Northwest Passage.  If he left the fort in winter in order to reach the
Arctic in summer, he must expose his guides to the risks of cold and
starvation.  The Indians told of high, rocky barrens, across which no
canoes could be carried.  They advised snow-shoe travel.  Obtaining
three Chipewyans and two Crees as guides, and taking no white servants,
Hearne once more set out, on February 23, 1770, for the "Far-Away-Metal
River."  This time there was no cannonading.  The guns were buried
under snow-drifts twenty feet deep, and the snow-shoes of the
travellers glided over the fort walls to the echoing cheers of soldiers
and governor standing on the ramparts.  The company travelled light,
depending on chance game for food.  All wood that could be used for
fire lay hidden deep under snow.  At wide intervals over the white
wastes mushroom cones of snow told where a stunted tree projected the
antlered branches of topmost bough through the depths of drift; but for
the most part camp was made by digging through the shallowest snow with
snow-shoes to the bottom of moss, which served the double purpose of
fuel for the night kettle and bed for travellers.  In the hollow a
wigwam was erected, with the door to the south, away from the north
wind.  Snared rabbits and partridges supplied the food.  The way lay as
before--west-northwest--along a chain of frozen lakes and rivers
connecting Hudson Bay with the Arctic Ocean.  By April the marchers
were on the margin of a desolate wilderness--the Indian region of
"Little Sticks,"--known to white men as the Barren Lands, where dwarf
trees project above the billowing wastes of snow like dismantled masts
on the far offing of a lonely sea.  Game became scarcer.  Neither the
round footprint of the hare nor the frost tracery of the northern
grouse marked the snowy reaches of unbroken white.  Caribou had
retreated to the sheltered woods of the interior; and a cleverer hunter
than man had scoured the wide wastes of game.  Only the wolf pack
roamed the Barren Lands.  It was unsafe to go on without food.  Hearne
kept in camp till the coming of the goose month--April--when birds of
passage wended their way north.  For three days rations consisted of
snow water and pipes of tobacco.  The Indians endured the privations
with stoical indifference, daily marching out on a bootless quest for
game.  On the third night Hearne was alone in his tent.  Twilight
deepened to night, night to morning.  Still no hunters returned.  Had
he been deserted?  Not a sound broke the waste silence but the baying
of the wolf pack.  Weak from hunger, Hearne fell asleep.  Before
daylight he was awakened by a shout; and his Indians shambled over the
drifts laden with haunches of half a dozen deer.  That relieved want
till the coming of the geese.  In May Hearne struck across the Barren
Lands.  By June the rotting snow clogged the snow-shoes.  Dog trains
drew heavy, and food was again scarce.  For a week the travellers found
nothing to eat but cranberries.  Half the company was ill from hunger
when a mangy old musk-ox, shedding his fur and lean as barrel hoops,
came scrambling over the rocks, sure of foot as a mountain goat.  A
single shot brought him down.  In spite of the musky odor of which the
coarse flesh reeked, every morsel of the ox was instantly devoured.
Sometimes during their long fasts they would encounter a solitary
Indian wandering over the rocky barren.  If he had arms, gun, or arrow,
and carried skins of the chase, he was welcomed to camp, no matter how
scant the fare.  Otherwise he was shunned as an outcast, never to be
touched or addressed by a human being; for only one thing could have
fed an Indian on the Barren Lands who could show no trophies of the
chase, and that was the flesh of some human creature weaker than
himself.  The outcast was a cannibal, condemned by an unwritten law to
wander alone through the wastes.

Snow had barely cleared from the Barren Lands when Hearne witnessed the
great traverse of the caribou herds, marching in countless multitudes
with a clicking of horns and hoofs from west to east for the summer.
Indians from all parts of the North had placed themselves at rivers
across the line of march to spear the caribou as they swam; and Hearne
was joined by a company of six hundred savages.  Summer had dried the
moss.  That gave abundance of fuel.  Caribou were plentiful.  That
supplied the hunters with pemmican.  Hearne decided to pass the
following winter with the Indians; but he was one white man among
hundreds of savages.  Nightly his ammunition was plundered.  One of his
survey instruments was broken in a wind storm.  Others were stolen.  It
was useless to go on without instruments to take observations of the
Arctic Circle; so for a second time Hearne was compelled to turn back
to Fort Prince of Wales.  Terrible storms impeded the return march.
His dog was frozen in the traces.  Tent poles were used for fire-wood;
and the northern lights served as the only compass.  On midday of
November 25, 1770, after eight months' absence, in which he had not
found the "Far-Off-Metal River," Hearne reached shelter inside the fort

Beating through the gales of sleet and snow on the homeward march,
Hearne had careened into a majestic figure half shrouded by the storm.
The explorer halted before a fur-muffled form, six feet in its
moccasins, erect as a mast pole, haughty as a king; and the gauntleted
hand of the Indian chief went up to his forehead in sign of peace.  It
was Matonabbee, the ambassador of the Hudson's Bay Company to the
Athabascans, now returning to Fort Prince of Wales, followed by a long
line of slave women driving their dog sleighs.  The two travellers
hailed each other through the storm like ships at sea.  That night they
camped together on the lee side of the dog sleighs, piled high as a
wind-break; and Matonabbee, the famous courser of the Northern wastes,
gave Hearne wise advice.  Women should be taken on a long journey, the
Indian chief said; for travel must be swift through the deadly cold of
the barrens.  Men must travel light of hand, trusting to chance game
for food.  Women were needed to snare rabbits, catch partridges, bring
in game shot by the braves, and attend to the camping.  And then in a
burst of enthusiasm, perhaps warmed by Hearne's fine tobacco,
Matonabbee, who had found the way to the Athabasca, offered to conduct
the white man to the "Far-Off-Metal River" of the Arctic Circle.  The
chief was the greatest pathfinder of the Northern tribes.  His offer
was the chance of a lifetime.  Hearne could hardly restrain his
eagerness till he reached the fort.  Leaving Matonabbee to follow with
the slave women, the explorer hurried to Fort Prince of Wales, laid the
plan before Governor Norton, and in less than two weeks from the day of
his return was ready to depart for the unknown river that was to lead
to the Northwest Passage.

The weather was dazzlingly clear, with that burnished brightness of
polished steel known only where unbroken sunlight meets unbroken snow
glare.  On the 7th of December, 1770, Hearne left the fort, led by
Matonabbee and followed by the slave Indians with the dog sleighs.  One
of Matonabbee's wives lay ill; but that did not hinder the iron
pathfinder.  The woman was wrapped in robes and drawn on a dog sleigh.
There was neither pause nor hesitation.  If the woman recovered, good.
If she died, they would bury her under a cairn of stones as they
travelled.  Matonabbee struck directly west-northwest for some _caches_
of provisions which he had left hidden on the trail.  The place was
found; but the _caches_ had been rifled clean of food.  That did not
stop Matonabbee.  Nor did he show the slightest symptoms of anger.  He
simply hastened their pace the more for their hunger, recognizing the
unwritten law of the wilderness--that starving hunters who had rifled
the _cache_ had a right to food wherever they found it.  Day after day,
stoical as men of bronze, the marchers reeled off the long white miles
over the snowy wastes, pausing only for night sleep with evening and
morning meals.  Here nibbled twigs were found; there the stamping
ground of a deer shelter; elsewhere the small, cleft foot-mark like the
ace of hearts.  But the signs were all old.  No deer were seen.  Even
the black marble eye that betrays the white hare on the snow, and the
fluffy bird track of the feather-footed northern grouse, grew rarer;
and the slave women came in every morning empty-handed from untouched
snares.  In spite of hunger and cold, Matonabbee remained good-natured,
imperturbable, hard as a man of bronze, coursing with the winged speed
of snow-shoes from morning till night without pause, going to a bed of
rock moss on a meal of snow water and rising eager as an arrow to leave
the bow-string for the next day's march.  For three days before
Christmas the entire company had no food but snow.  Christmas was
celebrated by starvation.  Hearne could not indulge in the despair of
the civilized man's self-pity when his faithful guides went on without

[Illustration: Eskimo Family, taken by Light of Midnight Sun.--C. W.

By January the company had entered the Barren Lands.  The Barren Lands
were bare but for an occasional oasis of trees like an island of refuge
in a shelterless sea.  In the clumps of dwarf shrubs, the Indians found
signs that meant relief from famine--tufts of hair rubbed off on tree
trunks, fallen antlers, and countless heart-shaped tracks barely
puncturing the snow but for the sharp outer edge.  The caribou were on
their yearly traverse east to west for the shelter of the inland woods.
The Indians at once pitched camp.  Scouts went scouring to find which
way the caribou herds were coming.  Pounds of snares were constructed
of shrubs and saplings stuck up in palisades with scarecrows on the
pickets round a V-shaped enclosure.  The best hunters took their
station at the angle of the V, armed with loaded muskets and long,
lank, and iron-pointed arrows.  Women and children lined the palisades
to scare back high jumpers or strays of the caribou herd.  Then scouts
and dogs beat up the rear of the fleeing herd, driving the caribou
straight for the pound.  By a curious provision of nature, the male
caribou sheds its antlers just as he leaves the Barren Lands for the
wooded interior, where the horns would impede flight through brush, and
he only leaves the woods for the bare open when the horns are grown
enough to fight the annual battle to protect the herd from the wolf
pack ravenous with spring hunger.  For one caribou caught in the pound
by Hearne's Indians, a hundred of the herd escaped; for the caribou
crossed the Barrens in tens of thousands, and Matonabbee's braves
obtained enough venison for the trip to the "Far-Off-Metal River."

The farther north they travelled the scanter became the growth of pine
and poplar and willow.  Snow still lay heavy in April; but Matonabbee
ordered a halt while there was still large enough wood to construct
dugouts to carry provisions down the river.  The boats were built large
and heavy in front, light behind.  This was to resist the ice jam of
Northern currents.  The caribou hunt had brought other Indians to the
Barren Lands.  Matonabbee was joined by two hundred warriors.  Though
the tribes puffed the calumet of peace together, they drew their war
hatchets when they saw the smoke of an alien tribe's fire rise against
the northern sky.  A suspicion that he hardly dared to acknowledge
flashed through Hearne's mind.  Eleven thousand beaver pelts were
yearly brought down to the fort from the unknown river.  How did the
Chipewyans obtain these pelts from the Eskimo?  What was the real
reason of the Indian eagerness to conduct the white man to the
"Far-Off-Metal River"?  The white man was not taken into the confidence
of the Indian council; but he could not fail to draw his own

Scouts were sent cautiously forward to trail the path of the aliens who
had lighted the far moss fire.  Women and children were ordered to head
about for a rendezvous southwest on Lake Athabasca.  Carrying only the
lightest supplies, the braves set out swiftly for the North on June 1.
Mist and rain hung so heavily over the desolate moors that the
travellers could not see twenty feet ahead.  In places the rocks were
glazed with ice and scored with runnels of water.  Half the warriors
here lost heart and turned back.  The others led by Hearne and
Matonabbee crossed the iced precipices on hands and knees, with gun
stocks strapped to backs or held in teeth.  On the 21st of June the sun
did not set.  Hearne had crossed the Arctic Circle.  The sun hung on
the southern horizon all night long.  Henceforth the travellers marched
without tents.  During rain or snow storm, they took refuge under rocks
or in caves.  Provisions turned mouldy with wet.  The moss was too
soaked for fire.  Snow fell so heavily in drifting storms that Hearne
often awakened in the morning to find himself almost immured in the
cave where they had sought shelter.  Ice lay solid on the lakes in
July.  Once, clambering up steep, bare heights, the travellers met a
herd of a hundred musk-oxen scrambling over the rocks with the agility
of squirrels, the spreading, agile hoof giving grip that lifted the
hulking forms over all obstacles.  Down the bleak, bare heights there
poured cataract and mountain torrent, plainly leading to some near
river bed; but the thick gray fog lay on the land like a blanket.  At
last a thunder-storm cleared the air; and Hearne saw bleak moors
sloping north, bare of all growth but the trunks of burnt trees, with
barren heights of rock and vast, desolate swamps, where the wild-fowl
flocked in myriads.

[Illustration: Fort Garry, Winnipeg, a Century Ago.]

All count of day and night was now lost, for the sun did not set.
Sometime between midnight and morning of July 12, 1771, with the sun as
bright as noon, the lakes converged to a single river-bed a hundred
yards wide, narrowing to a waterfall that roared over the rocks in
three cataracts.  This, then, was the "Far-Off-Metal River."  Plainly,
it was a disappointing discovery, this Coppermine River.  It did not
lead to China.  It did not point the way to a Northwest Passage.  In
his disappointment, Hearne learned what every other discoverer in North
America had learned--that the Great Northwest was something more than a
bridge between Europe and Asia, that it was a world in itself with its
own destiny.[1]

But Hearne had no time to brood over disappointment.  The conduct of
his rascally companions could no longer be misunderstood.  Hunters came
in with game; but when the hungry slaves would have lighted a moss fire
to cook the meat, the forbidding hand of a chief went up.  No fires
were to be lighted.  The Indians advanced with whispers, dodging from
stone to stone like raiders in ambush.  Spies went forward on tiptoe.
Then far down-stream below the cataracts Hearne descried the domed
tent-tops of an Eskimo band sound asleep; for it was midnight, though
the sun was at high noon.  When Hearne looked back to his companions,
he found himself deserted.  The Indians were already wading the river
for the west bank, where the Eskimo had camped.  Hearne overtook his
guides stripping themselves of everything that might impede flight or
give hand-hold to an enemy, and daubing their skin with war-paint.
Hearne begged Matonabbee to restrain the murderous warriors.  The great
chief smiled with silent contempt.  He was too true a disciple of a
doctrine which Indians' practised hundreds of years before white men
had avowed it--the survival of the fit, the extermination of the weak,
for any qualms of pity towards a victim whose death would contribute
profit.  Wearing only moccasins and bucklers of hardened hide, armed
with muskets, lances, and tomahawks, the Indians jostled Hearne out of
their way, stole forward from stone to stone to within a gun length of
the Eskimo, then with a wild war shout flung themselves on the
unsuspecting sleepers.

The Eskimo were taken unprepared.  They staggered from their tents,
still dazed in sleep, to be mowed down by a crashing of firearms which
they had never before heard.  The poor creatures fled in frantic
terror, to be met only by lance point and gun butt.  A young girl fell
coiling at Hearne's feet like a wounded snake.  A well-aimed lance had
pinioned the living form to earth.  She caught Hearne round the knees,
imploring him with dumb entreaty; but the white man was pushed back
with jeers.  Sobbing with horror, Hearne begged the Indians to put
their victim out of pain.  The rocks rang with the mockery of the
torturers.  She was speared to death before Hearne's eyes.  On that
scene of indescribable horror the white man could no longer bear to
look.  He turned toward the river, and there was a spectacle like a
nightmare.  Some of the Eskimo were escaping by leaping to their hide
boats and with lightning strokes of the double-bladed paddles dashing
down the current to the far bank of the river; but sitting motionless
as stone was an old, old woman--probably a witch of the tribe--red-eyed
as if she were blind, deaf to all the noise about her, unconscious of
all her danger, fishing for salmon below the falls.  There was a shout
from the raiders; the old woman did not even look up to face her fate;
and she too fell a victim to that thirst for blood which is as
insatiable in the redskin as in the wolf pack.  Odd commentary in our
modern philosophies--this white-man explorer, unnerved, unmanned,
weeping with pity, this champion of the weak, jostled aside by
bloodthirsty, triumphant savages, represented the race that was to
jostle the Indian from the face of the New World.  Something more than
a triumphant, aggressive Strength was needed to the permanency of a
race; and that something more was represented by poor, weak,
vacillating Hearne, weeping like a woman.

Horror of the massacre robbed Hearne of all an explorer's exultation.
A day afterward, on July 17, he stood on the shores of the Arctic
Ocean,--the first white man to reach it overland in America.  Ice
extended from the mouth of the river as far as eye could see.  Not a
sign of land broke the endless reaches of cold steel, where the snow
lay, and icy green, where pools of the ocean cast their reflection on
the sky of the far horizon.  At one in the morning, with the sun
hanging above the river to the south, Hearne formally took possession
of the Arctic regions for the Hudson's Bay Company.  The same Company
rules those regions to-day.  Not an eye had been closed for three days
and nights.  Throwing themselves down on the wet shore, the entire band
now slept for six hours.  The hunters awakened to find a musk-ox nosing
over the mossed rocks.  A shot sent it tumbling over the cliffs.
Whether it was that the moss was too wet for fuel to cook the meat, or
the massacre had brutalized the men into beasts of prey, the Indians
fell on the carcass and devoured it raw.[2]

[Illustration: Plan of Fort Prince of Wales, from Robson's Drawing,

The retreat from the Arctic was made with all swiftness, keeping close
to the Coppermine River.  For thirty miles from the sea not a tree was
to be seen.  The river was sinuous and narrow, hemmed in by walls of
solid rock, down which streamed cascades and mountain torrents.  On
both sides of the high bank extended endless reaches of swamps and
barrens.  Twenty miles from the sea Hearne found the copper mines from
which the Indians made their weapons.  His guides were to join their
families in the Athabasca country of the southwest, and thither
Matonabbee now led the way at such a terrible pace that moccasins were
worn to shreds and toe-nails torn from the feet of the marchers; and
woe to the man who fell behind, for the wolf pack prowled on the rear.

When the smoke of moss fires told of the wives' camp, the Indians
halted to take the sweat bath of purification for the cleansing of all
blood guilt from the massacre.  Heated stones were thrown into a small
pool.  In this each Indian bathed himself, invoking his deity for
freedom from all punishment for the deaths of the slain.[3]  By August
the Indians had joined their wives.  By October they were on Lake
Athabasca, which had already frozen.  Here one of the wives, in the
last stages of consumption, could go no farther.  For a band short of
food to halt on the march meant death to all.  The Northern wilderness
has its grim unwritten law, inexorable and merciless as death.  For
those who fall by the way there is no pity.  A whole tribe may not be
exposed to death for the sake of one person.  Civilized nations follow
the same principle in their quarantine.  Giving the squaw food and a
tent, the Indians left her to meet her last enemy, whether death came
by starvation or cold or the wolf pack.  Again and again the abandoned
squaw came up with the marchers, weeping and begging their pity, only
to fall from weakness.  But the wilderness has no pity; and so they
left her.

Christmas of 1771 was passed on Athabasca Lake, the northern lights
rustling overhead with the crackling of a flag.  There was food in
plenty; for the Athabasca was rich in buffalo meadows and beaver dams
and moose yards.  On the lake shore Hearne found a little cabin, in
which dwelt a solitary woman of the Dog Rib tribe who for eight months
had not seen a soul.  Her band had been massacred.  She alone escaped
and had lived here in hiding for almost a year.  In spring the Indians
of the lake carried their furs to the forts of Hudson Bay.  With the
Athabascans went Hearne, reaching Fort Prince of Wales on June 30,
1772, after eighteen months' absence.

He had discovered Coppermine River, the Arctic Ocean, and the Athabasca
country,--a region in all as large as half European Russia.

For his achievements Hearne received prompt promotion.  Within a year
of his return to the fort, Governor Norton, the Indian bully, fell
deadly ill.  In the agony of death throes, he called for his wives.
The great keys to the apartments of the women were taken from his
pillow, and the wives were brought in.  Norton lay convulsed with pain.
One of the younger women began to sob.  An officer of the garrison took
her hand to comfort her grief.  Norton's rolling eyes caught sight of
the innocent conference between the officer and the young wife.  With a
roar the dying bully hurled himself up in bed:--

"I'll burn you alive!  I'll burn you alive," he shrieked.  With oaths
on his lips he fell back dead.

[Illustration: Fort Prince of Wales (Churchill), from Hearne's Account,
1799 Edition.]

Samuel Hearne became governor of the fort.  For ten years nothing
disturbed the calm of his rule.  Marie, Norton's daughter, still lived
in the shelter of the fort; the wives found consolation in other
husbands; and Matonabbee continued the ambassador of the company to
strange tribes.  One afternoon of August, 1782, the sleepy calm of the
fort was upset by the sentry dashing in breathlessly with news that
three great vessels of war with full-blown sails and carrying many guns
were ploughing straight for Prince of Wales.  At sundown the ships
swung at anchor six miles from the fort.  From their masts fluttered a
foreign flag--the French ensign.  Gig boat and pinnace began sounding
the harbor.  Hearne had less than forty men to defend the fort.  In the
morning four hundred French troopers lined up on Churchill River, and
the admiral, La Perouse, sent a messenger with demand of surrender.
Hearne did not feel justified in exposing his men to the attack of
three warships carrying from seventy to a hundred guns apiece, and to
assault by land of four hundred troopers.  He surrendered without a

[Illustration: Beaver Coin of Hudson's Bay Company, melted from Old Tea
Chests, one Coin representing one Beaver.]

The furs were quickly transferred to the French ships, and the soldiers
were turned loose to loot the fort.  The Indians fled, among them Moses
Norton's gentle daughter, now in her twenty-second year.  She could not
revert to the loathsome habits of savage life; she dared not go to the
fort filled with lawless foreign soldiers; and she perished of
starvation outside the walls.  Matonabbee had been absent when the
French came.  He returned to find the fort where he had spent his life
in ruins.  The English whom he thought invincible were defeated and
prisoners of war.  Hearne, whom the dauntless old chief had led through
untold perils, was a captive.  Matonabbee's proud spirit was broken.
The grief was greater than he could bear.  All that living stood for
had been lost.  Drawing off from observation, Matonabbee blew his
brains out.

[1] I have purposely avoided bringing up the dispute as to a mistake of
some few degrees made by Hearne in his calculations--the point really
being finical.

[2] I am sorry to say that in pioneer border warfares I have heard of
white men acting in a precisely similar beastly manner after some
brutal conflict.  To be frank, I know of one case in the early days of
Minnesota fur trade, where the irate fur trader killed and devoured his
weak companion, not from famine, but sheer frenzy of brutalized
passion.  Such naked light does wilderness life shed over our
drawing-room philosophies of the triumphantly strong being the highest
type of manhood.

[3] Again the wilderness plunges us back to the primordial: if man be
but the supreme beast of prey, whence this consciousness of blood guilt
in these unschooled children of the wilds?







How Mackenzie found the Great River named after him and then pushed
across the Mountains to the Pacific, forever settling the question of a
Northwest Passage

There is an old saying that if a man has the right mettle in him, you
may stick him a thousand leagues in the wilderness on a barren rock and
he will plant pennies and grow dollar bills.  In other words, no matter
where or how, success will succeed.  No class illustrates this better
than a type that has almost passed away--the old fur traders who were
lords of the wilderness.  Cut off from all comfort, from all
encouragement, from all restraint, what set of men ever had fewer
incentives to go up, more temptations to go down?  Yet from the fur
traders sprang the pioneer heroes of America.  When young Donald Smith
came out--a raw lad--to America, he was packed off to eighteen years'
exile on the desert coast of Labrador.  Donald Smith came out of the
wilderness to become the Lord Strathcona of to-day.  Sir Alexander
Mackenzie's life presents even more dramatic contrasts.  A clerk in a
counting-house at Montreal one year, the next finds him at Detroit
setting out for the backwoods of Michigan to barter with Indians for
furs.  Then he is off with a fleet of canoes forty strong for the Upper
Country of forest and wilderness beyond the Great Lakes, where he
fights such a desperate battle with rivals that one of his companions
is murdered, a second lamed, a third wounded.  In all this Alexander
Mackenzie was successful while still in the prime of his manhood,--not
more than thirty years of age; and the reward of his success was to be
exiled to the sub-arctics of the Athabasca, six weeks' travel from
another fur post,--not a likely field to play the hero.  Yet Mackenzie
emerged from the polar wilderness bearing a name that ranks with
Columbus and Carrier and La Salle.

[Illustration: Alexander Mackenzie, from a Painting of the Explorer.]

Far north of the Missouri beyond the borderlands flows the
Saskatchewan.  As far north again, beyond the Saskatchewan, flows
another great river, the Athabasca, into Athabasca Lake, on whose blue
shores to the north lies a little white-washed fort of some twenty log
houses, large barn-like stores, a Catholic chapel, an Episcopal
mission, and a biggish residence of pretence for the chief trader.
This is Fort Chipewyan.  At certain seasons Indian tepees dot the
surrounding plains; and bronze-faced savages, clad in the ill-fitting
garments of white people, shamble about the stores, or sit haunched
round the shady sides of the log houses, smoking long-stemmed pipes.
These are the Chipewyans come in from their hunting-grounds; but for
the most part the fort seems chiefly populated by regiments of husky
dogs, shaggy-coated, with the sharp nose of the fox, which spend the
long winters in harness coasting the white wilderness, and pass the
summers basking lazily all day long except when the bell rings for fish
time, when half a hundred huskies scramble wildly for the first meat

A century ago Chipewyan was much the same as to-day, except that it lay
on the south side of the lake.  Mails came only once in two years
instead of monthly, and rival traders were engaged in the merry game of
slitting each other's throats.  All together, it wasn't exactly the
place for ambition to dream; but ambition was there in the person of
Alexander Mackenzie, the young fur trader, dreaming what he hardly
dared hope.  Business men fight shy of dreamers; so Mackenzie told his
dreams to no one but his cousin Roderick, whom he pledged to secrecy.
For fifty years the British government had offered a reward of 20,000
pounds to any one who should discover a Northwest Passage between the
Atlantic and the Pacific.  The hope of such a passageway had led many
navigators on bootless voyages; and here was Mackenzie with the same
bee in his bonnet.  To the north of Chipewyan he saw a mighty river,
more than a mile wide in places, walled in by great ramparts, and
flowing to unknown seas.  To the west he saw another river rolling
through the far mountains.  Where did this river come from, and where
did both rivers go?  Mackenzie was not the man to leave vital questions
unanswered.  He determined to find out; but difficulties lay in the
way.  He couldn't leave the Athabascan posts.  That was overcome by
getting his cousin Roderick to take charge.  The Northwest Fur Company,
which had succeeded the French fur traders of Quebec and Montreal when
Canada passed from the hands of the French to the English, wouldn't
assume any cost or risk for exploring unknown seas.  This was more
niggardly than the Hudson's Bay Company, which had paid all cost of
outlay for its explorers; but Mackenzie assumed risk and cost himself.
Then the Indians hesitated to act as guides; so Mackenzie hired guides
when he could, seized them by compulsion when he couldn't hire them,
and went ahead without guides when they escaped.

[Illustration: Eskimo trading his Pipe, carved from Walrus Tusk, for
the Value of Three Beaver Skins.]

May--the frog moon--and June--the bird's egg moon--were the festive
seasons at Fort Chipewyan on Lake Athabasca.  Indian hunters came
tramping in from the Barren Lands with toboggan loads of pelts drawn by
half-wild husky dogs.  Woody Crees and Slaves and Chipewyans paddled
across the lake in canoes laden to the gunwales with furs.  A world of
white skin tepees sprang up like mushrooms round the fur post.  By June
the traders had collected the furs, sorted and shipped them in
flotillas of keel boat, barge, and canoe, east to Lake Superior and
Montreal.  On the evening of June 2, 1789, Alexander Mackenzie, chief
trader, had finished the year's trade and sent the furs to the Eastern
warehouses of the Northwest Company, on Lake Superior, at Fort William,
not far from where Radisson had first explored, and La Vérendrye
followed.  Indians lingered round the fort of the Northern lake engaged
in mad _boissons_, or drinking matches, that used up a winter's
earnings in the spree of a single week.  Along the shore lay upturned
canoes, keels red against the blue of the lake, and everywhere in the
dark burned the red fires of the boatmen melting resin to gum the seams
of the canoes; for the canoes were to be launched on a long voyage the
next day.  Mackenzie was going to float down with the current of the
Athabasca or Grand River, and find out where that great river emptied
in the North.

The crew must have spent the night in a last wild spree; for it was
nine in the morning before all hands were ready to embark.  In
Mackenzie's large birch canoe went four Canadian _voyageurs_, their
Indian wives, and a German.  In other canoes were the Indian hunters
and interpreters, led by "English Chief," who had often been to Hudson
Bay.  Few provisions were taken.  The men were to hunt, the women to
cook and keep the _voyageurs_ supplied with moccasins, which wore out
at the rate of one pair a day for each man.  Traders bound for Slave
Lake followed behind.  Only fifty miles were made the first day.
Henceforth Mackenzie embarked his men at three and four in the morning.

[Illustration:  Quill and Bead Work on Buckskin, Mackenzie River

The mouth of Peace River was passed a mile broad as it pours down from
the west, and the boatmen _portaged_ six rapids the third day, one of
the canoes, steered by a squaw more intent on her sewing than the
paddles, going over the falls with a smash that shivered the bark to
kindling-wood.  The woman escaped, as the current caught the canoe, by
leaping into the water and swimming ashore with the aid of a line.  Ice
four feet thick clung to the walls of the rampart shores, and this
increased the danger of landing for a _portage_, the Indians whining
out their complaints in exactly the tone of the wailing north wind that
had cradled their lives--"Eduiy, eduiy!--It is hard, white man, it is
hard!"  And harder the way became.  For nine nights fog lay so heavily
on the river that not a star was seen.  This was followed by driving
rain and wind.  Mackenzie hoisted a three-foot sail and cut over the
water before the wind with the hiss of a boiling kettle.  Though the
sail did the work of the paddles, it gave the _voyageurs_ no respite.
Cramped and rain-soaked, they had to bail out water to keep the canoe
afloat.  In this fashion the boats entered Slave Lake, a large body of
water with one horn pointing west, the other east.  Out of both horns
led unknown rivers.  Which way should Mackenzie go?  Low-lying
marshlands--beaver meadows where the wattled houses of the beaver had
stopped up the current of streams till moss overgrew the swamps and the
land became quaking muskeg--lay along the shores of the lake.  There
were islands in deep water, where caribou had taken refuge, travelling
over ice in winter for the calves to be safe in summer from wolf pack
and bear.  Mackenzie hired a guide from the Slave Indians to pilot the
canoes over the lake; but the man proved useless.  Days were wasted
poking through mist and rushes trying to find an outlet to the Grand
River of the North.  Finally, English Chief lost his temper and
threatened to kill the Slave Indian unless he succeeded in taking the
canoes out of the lake.  The waters presently narrowed to half a mile;
the current began to race with a hiss; sails were hoisted on
fishing-poles; and Mackenzie found himself out of the rushes on the
Grand River to the west of Slave Lake.

[Illustration: Fort William, Headquarters Northwest Company, Lake

Here pause was made at a camp of Dog Ribs, who took the bottom from the
courage of Mackenzie's comrades by gruesome predictions that old age
would come upon the _voyageurs_ before they reached salt water.  There
were impassable falls ahead.  The river flowed through a land of famine
peopled by a monstrous race of hostiles who massacred all Indians from
the South.  The effect of these cheerful prophecies was that the Slave
Lake guide refused to go on.  English Chief bodily put the recalcitrant
into a canoe and forced him ahead at the end of a paddle.  Snow-capped
mountains loomed to the west.  The river from Bear Lake was passed,
greenish of hue like the sea, and the Slave Lake guide now feigned such
illness that watch was kept day and night to prevent his escape.  The
river now began to wind, with lofty ramparts on each side; and once, at
a sharp bend in the current, Mackenzie looked back to see Slave Lake
Indians following to aid the guide in escaping.  After that one of the
white men slept with the fellow each night to prevent desertion; but
during the confusion of a terrific thunder-storm, when tents and
cooking utensils were hurled about their heads, the Slave succeeded in
giving his watchers the slip.  Mackenzie promptly stopped at an
encampment of strange Indians, and failing to obtain another guide by
persuasion, seized and hoisted a protesting savage into the big canoe,
and signalled the unwilling captive to point the way.  The Indians of
the river were indifferent, if not friendly; but once Mackenzie
discovered a band hiding their women and children as soon as the
boatmen came in view.  The unwilling guide was forced ashore, as
interpreter, and gifts pacified all fear.  But the incident left its
impression on Mackenzie's comrades.  They had now been away from
Chipewyan for forty days.  If it took much longer to go back, ice would
imprison them in the polar wilderness.  Snow lay drifted in the
valleys, and scarcely any game was seen but fox and grouse.  The river
was widening almost to the dimensions of a lake, and when this was
whipped by a north wind the canoes were in peril enough.  The four
Canadians besought Mackenzie to return.  To return Mackenzie had not
the slightest intention; but he would not tempt mutiny.  He promised
that if he did not find the sea within seven days, he would go back.

That night the sun hung so high above the southern horizon that the men
rose by mistake to embark at twelve o'clock.  They did not realize that
they were in the region of midnight sun; but Mackenzie knew and
rejoiced, for he must be near the sea.  The next day he was not
surprised to find a deserted Eskimo village.  At that sight the
enthusiasm of the others took fire.  They were keen to reach the sea,
and imagined that they smelt salt water.  In spite of the lakelike
expanse of the river, the current was swift, and the canoes went ahead
at the rate of sixty and seventy miles a day--if it could be called day
when there was no night.  Between the 13th and 14th of July the
_voyageurs_ suddenly awakened to find themselves and their baggage
floating in rising water.  What had happened to the lake?  Their hearts
took a leap; for it was no lake.  It was the tide.  They had found the

How hilariously jubilant were Mackenzie's men, one may guess from the
fact that they chased whales all the next day in their canoes.  The
whales dived below, fortunately; for one blow of a finback or sulphur
bottom would have played skittles with the canoes.  Coming back from
the whale hunt, triumphant as if they had caught a dozen finbacks, the
men erected a post, engraving on it the date, July 14, 1789, and the
names of all present.

It had taken six weeks to reach the Arctic.  It took eight to return to
Chipewyan, for the course was against stream, in many places tracking
the canoes by a tow-line.  The beaver meadows along the shore impeded
the march.  Many a time the quaking moss gave way, and the men sank to
mid-waist in water.  While skirting close ashore, Mackenzie discovered
the banks of the river to be on fire.  The fire was a natural tar bed,
which the Indians said had been burning for centuries and which burns
to-day as when Mackenzie found it.  On September 12, with a high sail
up and a driving wind, the canoes cut across Lake Athabasca and reached
the beach of Chipewyan at three in the afternoon, after one hundred and
two days' absence.  Mackenzie had not found the Northwest Passage.  He
had proved there was no Northwest Passage, and discovered the
Mississippi of the north--Mackenzie River.

[Illustration: Running a Rapid on Mackenzie River.]

Mackenzie spent the long winter at Fort Chipewyan; but just as soon as
the rivers cleared of ice, he took passage in the east-bound canoes and
hurried down to the Grand Portage or Fort William on Lake Superior, the
headquarters of the Northwest Company, where he reported his discovery
of Mackenzie River.  His report was received with utter indifference.
The company had other matters to think about.  It was girding itself
for the life-and-death struggle with its rival, the Hudson's Bay
Company.  "My expedition was hardly spoken of, but that is what I
expected," he writes to his cousin.  But chagrin did not deter purpose.
He asked the directors' permission to explore that other broad
stream--Peace River--rolling down from the mountains.  His request was
granted.  Winter saw him on furlough in England, studying astronomy and
surveying for the next expedition.  Here he heard much of the Western
Sea--the Pacific--that fired his eagerness.  The voyages of Cook and
Hanna and Meares were on everybody's lips.  Spain and England and
Russia were each pushing for first possession of the northwest coast.
Mackenzie hurried back to his Company's fort on the banks of Peace
River, where he spent a restless winter waiting for navigation to open.
Doubts of his own ambitions began to trouble him.  What if Peace River
did not lead to the west coast at all?  What if he were behind some
other discoverer sent out by the Spaniards or the Russians?  "I have
been so vexed of late that I cannot sit down to anything steadily," he
confesses in a letter to his cousin.  Such a tissue-paper wall
separates the aims of the real hero from those of the fool, that almost
every ambitious man must pass through these periods of self-doubt
before reaching the goal of his hopes.  But despondency did not benumb
Mackenzie into apathy, as it has weaker men.

By April he had shipped the year's furs from the forks of Peace River
to Chipewyan.  By May his season's work was done.  He was ready to go
up Peace River.  A birch canoe thirty feet long, lined with lightest of
cedar, was built.  In this were stored pemmican and powder.  Alexander
Mackay, a clerk of the company, was chosen as first assistant.  Six
Canadian _voyageurs_--two of whom had accompanied Mackenzie to the
Arctic--and two Indian hunters made up the party of ten who stepped
into the canoes at seven in the evening of May 9, 1793.

Peace River tore down from the mountains flooded with spring thaw.  The
crew soon realized that paddles must be bent against the current of a
veritable mill-race; but it was safer going against, than with, such a
current, for unknown dangers could be seen from below instead of above,
where suction would whirl a canoe on the rocks.  Keen air foretold the
nearing mountains.  In less than a week snow-capped peaks had crowded
the canoe in a narrow cañon below a tumbling cascade where the river
was one wild sheet of tossing foam as far as eye could see.  The
difficulty was to land; for precipices rose on each side in a wall,
down which rolled enormous boulders and land-slides of loose earth.  To
_portage_ goods up these walls was impossible.  Fastening an
eighty-foot tow-line to the bow, Mackenzie leaped to the declivity, axe
in hand, cut foothold along the face of the steep cliff to a place
where he could jump to level rock, and then, turning, signalled through
the roar of the rapids for his men to come on.  The _voyageurs_ were
paralyzed with fear.  They stripped themselves ready to swim if they
missed the jump, then one by one vaulted from foothold to foothold
where Mackenzie had cut till they came to the final jump across water.
Here Mackenzie caught each on his shoulders as the _voyageurs_ leaped.
The tow-line was then passed round trees growing on the edge of the
precipice, and the canoe tracked up the raging cascade.  The waves
almost lashed the frail craft to pieces.  Once a wave caught her
sideways; the tow-line snapped like a pistol shot, for just one instant
the canoe hung poised, and then the back-wash of an enormous boulder
drove her bow foremost ashore, where the _voyageurs_ regained the

[Illustration: Slave Lake Indians.]

The men had not bargained on this kind of work.  They bluntly declared
that it was absurd trying to go up cañons with such cascades.
Mackenzie paid no heed to the murmurings.  He got his crew to the top
of the hill, spread out the best of a regale--including tea sweetened
with sugar--and while the men were stimulating courage by a feast, he
went ahead to reconnoitre the gorge.  Windfalls of enormous spruce
trees, with a thickness twice the height of a man, lay on a steep
declivity of sliding rock.  Up this climbed Mackenzie, clothes torn to
tatters by devil's club (a thorn bush with spines like needles), boots
hacked to pieces by the sharp rocks, and feet gashed with cuts.  The
prospect was not bright.  As far as he could see the river was one
succession of cataracts fifty feet wide walled in by stupendous
precipices, down which rolled great boulders, shattering to pebbles as
they fell.  The men were right.  No canoe could go up that stream.
Mackenzie came back, set his men to repairing the canoe and making axe
handles, to avoid the idleness that breeds mutiny, and sent Mackay
ahead to see how far the rapids extended.  Mackay reported that the
_portage_ would be nine miles over the mountain.

Leading the way, axe in hand, Mackenzie began felling trees so that the
trunks formed an outer railing to prevent a fall down the precipice.
Up this trail they warped the canoe by pulling the tow-line round
stumps, five men going in advance to cut the way, five hauling and
pushing the canoe.  In one day progress was three miles.  By five in
the afternoon the men were so exhausted that they went to bed--if bare
ground with sky overhead could be called bed.  One thing alone
encouraged them: as they rose higher up the mountain side, they saw
that the green edges of the glaciers and the eternal snows projected
over the precipices.  They were nearing the summit--they must surely
soon cross the Divide.  The air grew colder.  For three days the
choppers worked in their blanket coats.  When they finally got the
canoe down to the river-bed, it was to see another range of impassable
mountains barring the way westward.  All that kept Mackenzie's men from
turning back was that awful _portage_ of nine miles.  Nothing ahead
could be worse than what lay behind; so they embarked, following the
south branch where the river forked.  The stream was swift as a
cascade.  Half the crew walked to lighten the canoe and prevent grazing
on the rocky bottoms.

Once, at dusk, when walkers and paddlers happened to have camped on
opposite shores, the marchers came dashing across stream, wading
neck-high, with news that they had heard the firearms of Indian
raiders.  Fires were put out, muskets loaded, and each man took his
station at the foot of a tree, where all passed a sleepless night.  No
hostiles appeared.  The noise was probably falling avalanches.  And
once when Mackenzie and Mackay had gone ahead with the Indian
interpreters, they came back to find that the canoe had disappeared.
In vain they kindled fires, fired guns, set branches adrift on the
swift current as a signal--no response came from the _voyageurs_.  The
boatmen evidently did not wish to be found.  What Mackenzie's
suspicions were one may guess.  It would be easier for the crew to
float back down Peace River than pull against this terrific current
with more _portages_ over mountains.  The Indians became so alarmed
that they wanted to build a raft forthwith and float back to Chipewyan.
The abandoned party had not tasted a bite of food for twenty-four
hours.  They had not even seen a grouse, and in their powder horns were
only a few rounds of ammunition.  Separating, Mackenzie and his Indian
went up-stream, Mackay and his went down-stream, each agreeing to
signal the other by gunshots if either found the canoe.  Barefooted and
drenched in a terrific thunderstorm, Mackenzie wandered on till
darkness shrouded the forest.  He had just lain down on a soaking couch
of spruce boughs when the ricochetting echo of a gun set the boulders
crashing down the precipices.  Hurrying down-stream, he found Mackay at
the canoe.  The crew pretended that a leakage about the keel had caused
delay; but the canoe did not substantiate the excuse.  Mackenzie said
nothing; but he never again allowed the crew out of his sight on the
east side of the mountains.

So far there had been no sign of Indians among the mountains; and now
the canoe was gliding along calm waters when savages suddenly sprang
out of a thicket, brandishing spears.  The crew became panic-stricken;
but Mackenzie stepped fearlessly ashore, offered the hostiles presents,
shook hands, and made his camp with them.  The savages told him that he
was nearing a _portage_ across the Divide.  One of them went with
Mackenzie the next day as guide.  The river narrowed to a small
tarn--the source of Peace River; and a short _portage_ over rocky
ground brought the canoe to a second tarn emptying into a river that,
to Mackenzie's disappointment, did not flow west, but south.  He had
crossed the Divide, the first white man to cross the continent in the
North; but how could he know whether to follow this stream?  It might
lead east to the Saskatchewan.  As a matter of fact, he was on the
sources of the Fraser, that winds for countless leagues south through
the mountains before turning westward for the Pacific.

Full of doubt and misgivings, uncertain whether he had crossed the
Divide at all, Mackenzie ordered the canoe down this river.  Snowy
peaks were on every side.  Glaciers lay along the mountain tarns, icy
green from the silt of the glacier grinding over rock; and the river
was hemmed in by shadowy cañons with roaring cascades that compelled
frequent _portage_.  Mackenzie wanted to walk ahead, in order to
lighten the canoe and look out for danger; but fear had got in the
marrow of his men.  They thought that he was trying to avoid risks to
which he was exposing them; and they compelled him to embark, vowing,
if they were to perish, he was to perish with them.

To quiet their fears, Mackenzie embarked with them.  Barely had they
pushed out when the canoe was caught by a sucking undercurrent which
the paddlers could not stem--a terrific rip told them that the canoe
had struck--the rapids whirled her sideways and away she went
down-stream--the men jumped out, but the current carried them to such
deep water that they were clinging to the gunwales as best they could
when, with another rip, the stern was torn clean out of the canoe.  The
blow sent her swirling--another rock battered the bow out--the keel
flattened like a raft held together only by the bars.  Branches hung
overhead.  The bowman made a frantic grab at these to stop the rush of
the canoe--he was hoisted clear from his seat and dropped ashore.
Mackenzie jumped out up to his waist in ice-water.  The steersman had
yelled for each to save himself; but Mackenzie shouted out a
countermand for every man to hold on to the gunwales.  In this fashion
they were all dragged several hundred yards till a whirl sent the wreck
into a shallow eddy.  The men got their feet on bottom, and the
wreckage was hauled ashore.  During the entire crisis the Indians sat
on top of the canoe, howling with terror.

All the bullets had been lost.  A few were recovered.  Powder was
spread out to dry; and the men flatly refused to go one foot farther.
Mackenzie listened to the revolt without a word.  He got their clothes
dry and their benumbed limbs warmed over a roaring fire.  He fed them
till their spirits had risen.  Then he quietly remarked that the
experience would teach them how to run rapids in the future.  Men of
the North--to turn back?  Such a thing had never been known in the
history of the Northwest Fur Company.  It would disgrace them forever.
Think of the honor of conquering disaster.  Then he vowed that he would
go ahead, whether the men accompanied him or not.  Then he set them to
patching the canoe with oil-cloth and bits of bark; but large sheets of
birch bark are rare in the Rockies; and the patched canoe weighed so
heavily that the men could scarcely carry it.  It took them fourteen
hours to make the three-mile _portage_ of these rapids.  The Indian
from the mountain tribe had lost heart.  Mackenzie and Mackay watched
him by turns at night; but the fellow got away under cover of darkness,
the crew conniving at the escape in order to compel Mackenzie to turn
back.  Finally the river wound into a large stream on the west side of
the main range of the Rockies.  Mackenzie had crossed the Divide.

For a week after crossing the Divide, the canoe followed the course of
the river southward.  This was not what Mackenzie expected.  He sought
a stream flowing directly westward, and was keenly alert for sign of
Indian encampment where he might learn the shortest way to the Western
Sea.  Once the smoke of a camp-fire rose through the bordering forest;
but no sooner had Mackenzie's interpreters approached than the savages
fired volley after volley of arrows and swiftly decamped, leaving no
trace of a trail.  There was nothing to do but continue down the
devious course of the uncertain river.  The current was swift and the
outlook cut off by the towering mountains; but in a bend of the river
they came on an Indian canoe drawn ashore.  A savage was just emerging
from a side stream when Mackenzie's men came in view.  With a wild
whoop, the fellow made off for the woods; and in a trice the narrow
river was lined with naked warriors, brandishing spears and displaying
the most outrageous hostility.  When Mackenzie attempted to land,
arrows hissed past the canoe, which they might have punctured and sunk.
Determined to learn the way westward from these Indians, Mackenzie
tried strategy.  He ordered his men to float some distance from the
savages.  Then he landed alone on the shore opposite the hostiles,
having sent one of his interpreters by a detour through the woods to
lie in ambush with fusee ready for instant action.  Throwing aside
weapons, Mackenzie displayed tempting trinkets.  The warriors
conferred, hesitated, jumped in the canoes, and came, backing stern
foremost, toward Mackenzie.  He threw out presents.  They came ashore
and were presently sitting by his side.

From them he learned the river he was following ran for "many moons"
through the "shining mountains" before it reached the "midday sun."  It
was barred by fearful rapids; but by retracing the way back up the
river, the white men could leave the canoe at a carrying place and go
overland to the salt water in eleven days.  From other tribes down the
same river, Mackenzie gathered similar facts.  He knew that the stream
was misleading him; but a retrograde movement up such a current would
discourage his men.  He had only one month's provisions left.  His
ammunition had dwindled to one hundred and fifty bullets and thirty
pounds of shot.  Instead of folding his hands in despondency, Mackenzie
resolved to set the future at defiance and go on.  From the Indians he
obtained promise of a man to guide him back.  Then he frankly laid all
the difficulties before his followers, declaring that he was going on
alone and they need not continue unless they voluntarily decided to do
so.  His dogged courage was contagious.  The speech was received with
huzzas, and the canoe was headed upstream.

The Indian guide was to join Mackenzie higher upstream; but the
reappearance of the white men when they had said they would not be back
for "many moons" roused the suspicions of the savages.  The shores were
lined with warriors who would receive no explanation that Mackenzie
tried to give in sign language.  The canoe began to leak so badly that
the boatmen had to spend half the time bailing out water; and the
_voyageurs_ dared not venture ashore for resin.  Along the river cliff
was a little three-cornered hut of thatched clay.  Here Mackenzie took
refuge, awaiting the return of the savage who had promised to act as
guide.  The three walls protected the rear, but the front of the hut
was exposed to the warriors across the river; and the whites dared not
kindle a fire that might serve as a target.  Two nights were passed in
this hazardous shelter, Mackay and Mackenzie alternately lying in their
cloaks on the wet rocks, keeping watch.  At midnight of the third day's
siege, a rustling came from the woods to the rear and the boatmen's dog
set up a furious barking.  The men were so frightened that they three
times loaded the canoe to desert their leader, but something in the
fearless confidence of the explorer deterred them.  As daylight sifted
through the forest, Mackenzie descried a vague object creeping through
the underbrush.  A less fearless man would have fired and lost all.
Mackenzie dashed out to find the cause of alarm an old blind man,
almost in convulsions from fear.  He had been driven from this river
hut.  Mackenzie quieted his terror with food.  By signs the old man
explained that the Indians had suspected treachery when the whites
returned so soon; and by signs Mackenzie requested him to guide the
canoe back up the river to the carrying place; but the old creature
went off in such a palsy of fear that he had to be lifted bodily into
the canoe.  The situation was saved.  The hostiles could not fire
without wounding one of their own people; and the old man could explain
the real reason for Mackenzie's return.  Rations had been reduced to
two meals a day.  The men were still sulking from the perils of the
siege when the canoe struck a stump that knocked a hole in the keel,
"which," reports Mackenzie, laconically, "gave them all an opportunity
to let loose their discontent without reserve."  Camp after camp they
passed, which the old man's explanations pacified, till they at length
came to the carrying place.  Here, to the surprise and delight of all,
the guide awaited them.

[Illustration: Good Hope, Mackenzie River.  Hudson's Bay Company Fort.]

On July 4, provisions were _cached_, the canoe abandoned, and a start
made overland westward, each carrying ninety pounds of provisions
besides musket and pistols.  And this burden was borne on the rations
of two scant meals a day.  The way was ridgy, steep, and obstructed by
windfalls.  At cloud-line, the rocks were slippery as glass from
moisture, and Mackenzie led the way, beating the drip from the branches
as they marched.  The record was twelve miles the first day.  When it
rained, the shelter was a piece of oil-cloth held up in an extemporized
tent, the men crouching to sleep as best they could.  The way was well
beaten and camp was frequently made for the night with strange Indians,
from whom fresh guides were hired; but when he did not camp with the
natives, Mackenzie watched his guide by sleeping with him.  Though the
fellow was malodorous from fish oil and infested with vermin, Mackenzie
would spread his cloak in such a way that escape was impossible without
awakening himself.  No sentry was kept at night.  All hands were too
deadly tired from the day's climb.  Once, in the impenetrable gloom of
the midnight forest, Mackenzie was awakened by a plaintive chant in a
kind of unearthly music.  A tribe was engaged in religious devotions to
some woodland deity.  Totem poles of cedar, carved with the heads of
animals emblematic of family clans, told Mackenzie that he was nearing
the coast tribes.  Barefooted, with ankles swollen and clothes torn to
shreds, they had crossed the last range of mountains within two weeks
of leaving the inland river.  They now embarked with some natives for
the sea.

One can guess how Mackenzie's heart thrilled as they swept down the
swift river--six miles an hour--past fishing weirs and Indian camps,
till at last, far out between the mountains, he descried the narrow arm
of the blue, limitless sea.  The canoe leaked like a sieve; but what
did that matter?  At eight o'clock on the morning of Saturday, July 20,
the river carried them to a wide lagoon, lapped by a tide, with the
seaweed waving for miles along the shore.  Morning fog still lay on the
far-billowing ocean.  Sea otters tumbled over the slimy rocks with
discordant cries.  Gulls darted overhead; and past the canoe dived the
great floundering grampus.  There was no mistaking.  This was the
sea--the Western Sea, that for three hundred years had baffled all
search overland, and led the world's greatest explorers on a chase of a
will-o'-the-wisp.  What Cartier and La Salle and La Vérendrye failed to
do, Mackenzie had accomplished.

But Mackenzie's position was not to be envied.  Ten starving men on a
barbarous coast had exactly twenty pounds of pemmican, fifteen of rice,
six of flour.  Of ammunition there was scarcely any.  Between home and
their leaky canoe lay half a continent of wilderness and mountains.
The next day was spent coasting the cove for a place to take
observations.  Canoes of savages met the white men, and one impudent
fellow kept whining out that he had once been shot at by men of
Mackenzie's color.  Mackenzie took refuge for the night on an isolated
rock which was barely large enough for his party to gain a foothold.
The savages hung about pestering the boatmen for gifts.  Two white men
kept guard, while the rest slept.  On Monday, when Mackenzie was
setting up his instruments, his young Indian guide came, foaming at the
mouth from terror, with news that the coast tribes were to attack the
white men by hurling spears at the unsheltered rock.  The boatmen lost
their heads and were for instant flight, anywhere, everywhere, in a
leaky canoe that would have foundered a mile out at sea.  Mackenzie did
not stir, but ordered fusees primed and the canoe gummed.  Mixing up a
pot of vermilion, he painted in large letters on the face of the rock
where they had passed the night:--

"Alexander Mackenzie, from Canada, by land, the twenty-second of July,
one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three."

The canoe was then headed eastward for the homeward trip.  Only once
was the explorer in great danger on his return.  It was just as the
canoe was leaving tide-water for the river.  The young Indian guide led
him full tilt into the village of hostiles that had besieged the rock.
Mackenzie was alone, his men following with the baggage.  Barely had he
reached the woods when two savages sprang out, with daggers in hand
ready to strike.  Quick as a flash, Mackenzie quietly raised his gun.
They dropped back; but he was surrounded by a horde led by the impudent
chief of the attack on the rock the first night on the sea.  One
warrior grasped Mackenzie from behind.  In the scuffle hat and cloak
came off; but Mackenzie shook himself free, got his sword out, and
succeeded in holding the shouting rabble at bay till his men came.
Then such was his rage at the indignity that he ordered his followers
in line with loaded fusees, marched to the village, demanded the return
of the hat and cloak, and obtained a peace-offering of fish as well.
The Indians knew the power of firearms, and fell at his feet in
contrition.  Mackenzie named this camp Rascal Village.

At another time his men lost heart so completely over the difficulties
ahead that they threw everything they were carrying into the river.
Mackenzie patiently sat on a stone till they had recovered from their
panic.  Then he reasoned and coaxed and dragooned them into the spirit
of courage that at last brought them safely over mountain and through
cañon to Peace River.  On August 24, a sharp bend in the river showed
them the little home fort which they had left four months before.  The
joy of the _voyageurs_ fairly exploded.  They beat their paddles on the
canoe, fired off all the ammunition that remained, waved flags, and set
the cliffs ringing with shouts.

Mackenzie spent the following winter at Chipewyan, despondent and
lonely.  "What a situation, starving and alone!" he writes to his
cousin.  The hard life was beginning to wear down the dauntless spirit.
"I spend the greater part of my time in vague speculations. . . .  In
fact my mind was never at ease, nor could I bend it to my wishes.
Though I am not superstitious, my dreams cause me great annoyance.  I
scarcely close my eyes without finding myself in company with the dead."

The following winter Mackenzie left the West never to return.  The
story of his travels was published early in the nineteenth century, and
he was knighted by the English king.  The remainder of his life was
spent quietly on an estate in Scotland, where he died in 1820.

[Illustration: The Mouth of the Mackenzie by the Light of the Midnight
Sun.--C. W. Mathers.]




The First White Men to ascend the Missouri to its Sources and descend the
Columbia to the Pacific--Exciting Adventures on the Cañons of the
Missouri, the Discovery of the Great Falls and the Yellowstone--Lewis'
Escape from Hostiles

The spring of 1904 witnessed the centennial celebration of an area as
large as half the kingdoms of Europe, that has the unique distinction of
having transferred its allegiance to three different flags within
twenty-four hours.

At the opening of the nineteenth century Spain had ceded all the region
vaguely known as Louisiana back to France, and France had sold the
territory, to the United States; but post-horse and stage of those old
days travelled slowly.  News of Spain's cession and France's sale reached
Louisiana almost simultaneously.  On March 9, 1804, the Spanish grandees
of St. Louis took down their flag and, to the delight of Louisiana, for
form's sake erected French colors.  On March 10, the French flag was
lowered for the emblem that has floated over the Great West ever
since--the stars and stripes.  How vast was the new territory acquired,
the eastern states had not the slightest conception.  As early as 1792
Captain Gray, of the ship _Columbia_, from Boston, had blundered into the
harbor of a vast river flowing into the Pacific.  What lay between this
river and that other great river on the eastern side of the
mountains--the Missouri?  Jefferson had arranged with John Ledyard of
Connecticut, who had been with Captain Cook on the Pacific, to explore
the northwest coast of America by crossing Russia overland; but Russia
had similar designs for herself, and stopped Ledyard on the way.  In 1803
President Jefferson asked Congress for an appropriation to explore the
Northwest by way of the Missouri.  Now that the wealth of the West is
beyond the estimate of any figure, it seems almost inconceivable that
there were people little-minded enough to haggle over the price paid for
Louisiana--$15,000,000--and to object to the appropriation required for
its exploration--$2500; but fortunately the world goes ahead in spite of

May of 1804 saw Captain Meriwether Lewis, formerly secretary to President
Jefferson, and Captain William Clark of Virginia launch out from Wood
River opposite St. Louis, where they had kept their men encamped all
winter on the east side of the Mississippi, waiting until the formal
transfer of Louisiana for the long journey of exploration to the sources
of the Missouri and the Columbia.  Their escort consisted of twenty
soldiers, eleven _voyageurs_, and nine frontiersmen.  The main craft was
a keel boat fifty-five feet long, of light draft, with square-rigged sail
and twenty-two oars, and tow-line fastened to the mast pole to track the
boat upstream through rapids.  An American flag floated from the prow,
and behind the flag the universal types of progress everywhere--goods for
trade and a swivel-gun.  Horses were led alongshore for hunting, and two
pirogues--sharp at prow, broad at stern, like a flat-iron or a
turtle--glided to the fore of the keel boat.

[Illustration: Captain Meriwether Lewis.]

The Missouri was at flood tide, turbid with crumbling clay banks and
great trees torn out by the roots, from which keel boat and pirogues
sheered safely off.  For the first time in history the Missouri resounded
to the Fourth of July guns; and round camp-fire the men danced to the
strains of a _voyageur's_ fiddle.  Usually, among forty men is one
traitor, and Liberte must desert on pretence of running back for a knife;
but perhaps the fellow took fright from the wild yarns told by the
lonely-eyed, shaggy-browed, ragged trappers who came floating down the
Platte, down the Osage, down the Missouri, with canoe loads of furs for
St. Louis.  These men foregathered with the _voyageurs_ and told only too
true stories of the dangers ahead.  Fires kindled on the banks of the
river called neighboring Indians to council.  Council Bluffs commemorates
one conference, of which there were many with Iowas and Omahas and
Ricarees and Sioux.  Pause was made on the south side of the Missouri to
visit the high mound where Blackbird, chief of the Omahas, was buried
astride his war horse that his spirit might forever watch the French
_voyageurs_ passing up and down the river.

[Illustration: Captain William Clark.]

By October the explorers were sixteen hundred miles north of St. Louis,
at the Mandan villages near where Bismarck stands to-day.  The Mandans
welcomed the white men; but the neighboring tribes of Ricarees were
insolent.  "Had I these white warriors on the upper plains," boasted a
chief to Charles Mackenzie, one of the Northwest Fur Company men from
Canada, "my young men on horseback would finish them as they would so
many wolves; for there are only two sensible men among them, the worker
of iron [blacksmith] and the mender of guns."  Four Canadian traders had
already been massacred by this chief.  Captain Lewis knew that his
company must winter on the east side of the mountains, and there were a
dozen traders--Hudson Bay and Nor'westers--on the ground practising all
the unscrupulous tricks of rivals, Nor'westers driving off Hudson Bay
horses, Hudson Bay men driving off Nor'-westers', to defeat trade; so
Captain Lewis at once had a fort constructed.  It was triangular in
shape, the two converging walls consisting of barracks with a loopholed
bastion at the apex, the base being a high wall of strong pickets where
sentry kept constant guard.  Hitherto Captain Lewis had been able to
secure the services of French trappers as interpreters with the Indians;
but the next year he was going where there were no trappers; and now he
luckily engaged an old Nor'wester, Chaboneau, whose Indian wife,
Sacajawea, was a captive from the Snake tribe of the Rockies.[1]  On
Christmas morning, the stars and stripes were hoisted above Fort Mandan;
and all that night the men danced hilariously.  On New Years of 1805, the
white men visited the Mandan lodges, and one _voyageur_ danced "on his
head" to the uproarious applause of the savages.  All winter the men
joined in the buffalo hunts, laying up store of pemmican.  In February,
work was begun on the small boats for the ascent of the Missouri.  By the
end of March, the river had cleared of ice, and a dozen men were sent
back to St. Louis.

At five, in the afternoon of April 7, six canoes and two pirogues were
pushed out on the Missouri.  Sails were hoisted; a cheer from the
Canadian traders and Indians standing on the shore--and the boats glided
up the Missouri with flags flying from foremost prow.  Hitherto Lewis and
Clark had passed over travelled ground.  Now they had set sail for the
Unknown.  Within a week they had passed the Little Missouri, the height
of land that divides the waters of the Missouri from those of the
Saskatchewan, and the great Yellowstone River, first found by wandering
French trappers and now for the first time explored.  The current of the
Missouri grew swifter, the banks steeper, and the use of the tow-line
more frequent.  The voyage was no more the holiday trip that it had been
all the way from St. Louis.  Hunters were kept on the banks to forage for
game, and once four of them came so suddenly on an open-mouthed,
ferocious old bear that he had turned hunter and they hunted before guns
could be loaded; and the men saved themselves only by jumping twenty feet
over the bank into the river.

For miles the boats had to be tracked up-stream by the tow-line.  The
shore was so steep that it offered no foothold.  Men and stones slithered
heterogeneously down the sliding gravel into the water.  Moccasins wore
out faster than they could be sewed; and the men's feet were cut by
prickly-pear and rock as if by knives.  On Sunday, May 26, when Captain
Lewis was marching to lighten the canoes, he had just climbed to the
summit of a high, broken cliff when there burst on his glad eyes a first
glimpse of the far, white "Shining Mountains" of which the Indians told,
the Rockies, snowy and dazzling in the morning sun.  One can guess how
the weather-bronzed, ragged man paused to gaze on the glimmering summits.
Only one other explorer had ever been so far west in this region--young
De la Vérendrye, fifty years before; but the Frenchman had been compelled
to turn back without crossing the mountains, and the two Americans were
to assail and conquer what had proved an impassable barrier.  The
Missouri had become too deep for poles, too swift for paddles; and the
banks were so precipitous that the men were often poised at dizzy heights
above the river, dragging the tow-line round the edge of rock and crumbly
cliff.  Captain Lewis was leading the way one day, crawling along the
face of a rock wall, when he slipped.  Only a quick thrust of his
spontoon into the cliff saved him from falling almost a hundred feet.  He
had just struck it with terrific force into the rock, where it gave him
firm handhold, when he heard a voice cry, "Good God, Captain, what shall
I do?"

[Illustration: Tracking Up-stream.]

Windsor, a frontiersman, had slipped to the very verge of the rock, where
he lay face down with right arm and leg completely over the precipice,
his left hand vainly grabbing empty air for grip of anything that would
hold him back.  Captain Lewis was horrified, but kept his presence of
mind; for the man's life hung by a thread.  A move, a turn, the slightest
start of alarm to disturb Windsor's balance--and he was lost.  Steadying
his voice, Captain Lewis shouted back, "You're in little danger.  Stick
your knife in the cliff to hoist yourself up."

With the leverage of the knife, Windsor succeeded in lifting himself back
to the narrow ledge.  Then taking off his moccasins, he crawled along the
cliff to broader foothold.  Lewis sent word for the crews to wade the
margin of the river instead of attempting this pass--which they did,
though shore water was breast high and ice cold.

[Illustration: Typical Mountain Trapper.]

The Missouri had now become so narrow that it was hard to tell which was
the main river and which a tributary; so Captain Lewis and four men went
in advance to find the true course.  Leaving camp at sunrise, Captain
Lewis was crossing a high, bare plain, when he heard the most musical of
all wilderness sounds--the far rushing that is the voice of many waters.
Far above the prairie there shimmered in the morning sun a gigantic plume
of spray.  Surely this was the Great Falls of which the Indians told.
Lewis and his men broke into a run across the open for seven miles, the
rush of waters increasing to a deafening roar, the plume of spray to
clouds of foam.  Cliffs two hundred feet high shut off the view.  Down
these scrambled Lewis, not daring to look away from his feet till safely
at bottom, when he faced about to see the river compressed by sheer
cliffs over which hurled a white cataract in one smooth sheet eighty feet
high.  The spray tossed up in a thousand bizarre shapes of wind-driven
clouds.  Captain Lewis drew the long sigh of the thing accomplished.  He
had found the Great Falls of the Missouri.

[Illustration: The Discovery of the Great Falls.]

Seating himself on the rock, he awaited his hunters.  That night they
camped under a tree near the falls.  Morning showed that the river was
one succession of falls and rapids for eighteen miles.  Here was indeed a
stoppage to the progress of the boats.  Sending back word to Captain
Clark of the discovery of the falls, Lewis had ascended the course of the
cascades to a high hill when he suddenly encountered a herd of a thousand
buffalo.  It was near supper-time.  Quick as thought, Lewis fired.  What
was his amazement to see a huge bear leap from the furze to pounce on the
wounded quarry; and what was Bruin's amazement to see the unusual
spectacle of a thing as small as a man marching out to contest possession
of that quarry?  Man and bear reared up to look at each other.  Bear had
been master in these regions from time immemorial.  Man or beast--which
was to be master now?  Lewis had aimed his weapon to fire again, when he
recollected that it was not loaded; and the bear was coming on too fast
for time to recharge.  Captain Lewis was a brave man and a dignified man;
but the plain was bare of tree or brush, and the only safety was
inglorious flight.  But if he had to retreat, the captain determined that
he _would_ retreat only at a walk.  The rip of tearing claws sounded from
behind, and Lewis looked over his shoulder to see the bear at a hulking
gallop, open-mouthed,--and off they went, explorer and exploited, in a
sprinting match of eighty yards, when the grunting roar of pursuer told
pursued that the bear was gaining.  Turning short, Lewis plunged into the
river to mid-waist and faced about with his spontoon at the bear's nose.
A sudden turn is an old trick with all Indian hunters; the bear
floundered back on his haunches, reconsidered the sport of hunting this
new animal, man, and whirled right about for the dead buffalo.

[Illustration: Fighting a Grizzly.]

It took the crews from the 15th to the 25th of June to _portage_ past the
Great Falls.  Cottonwood trees yielded carriage wheels two feet in
diameter, and the masts of the pirogues made axletrees.  On these
wagonettes the canoes were dragged across the _portage_.  It was hard,
hot work.  Grizzlies prowled round the camp at night, wakening the
exhausted workers.  The men actually fell asleep on their feet as they
toiled, and spent half the night double-soling their torn moccasins, for
the cactus already had most of the men limping from festered feet.  Yet
not one word of complaint was uttered; and once, when the men were camped
on a green along the _portage_, a _voyageur_ got out his fiddle, and the
sore feet danced, which was more wholesome than moping or poulticing.
The boldness of the grizzlies was now explained.  Antelope and buffalo
were carried over the falls.  The bears prowled below for the carrion.

After failure to construct good hide boats, two other craft, twenty-five
and thirty-three feet long, were knocked together, and the crews launched
above the rapids for the far Shining Mountains that lured like a
mariner's beacon.  Night and day, when the sun was hot, came the
boom-boom as of artillery from the mountains.  The _voyageurs_ thought
this the explosion of stones, but soon learned to recognize the sound of
avalanche and land-slide.  The river became narrower, deeper, swifter, as
the explorers approached the mountains.  For five miles rocks rose on
each side twelve hundred feet high, sheer as a wall.  Into this shadowy
cañon, silent as death, crept the boats of the white men, vainly
straining their eyes for glimpse of egress from the watery defile.  A
word, a laugh, the snatch of a _voyageur's_ ditty, came back with elfin
echo, as if spirits hung above the dizzy heights spying on the intruders.
Springs and tenuous, wind-blown falls like water threads trickled down
each side of the lofty rocks.  The water was so deep that poles did not
touch bottom, and there was not the width of a foot-hold between water
and wall for camping ground.  Flags were unfurled from the prows of the
boats to warn marauding Indians on the height above that the _voyageurs_
were white men, not enemies.  Darkness fell on the cañon with the great
hushed silence of the mountains; and still the boats must go on and on in
the darkness, for there was no anchorage.  Finally, above a small island
in the middle of the river, was found a tiny camping ground with
pine-drift enough for fire-wood.  Here they landed in the pitchy dark.
They had entered the Gates of the Rockies on the 19th of July.  In the
morning bighorn and mountain goat were seen scrambling along the ledges
above the water.  On the 25th the Three Forks of the Missouri were
reached.  Here the Indian woman, Sacajawea, recognized the ground and
practically became the guide of the party, advising the two explorers to
follow the south fork or the Jefferson, as that was the stream which her
tribe followed when crossing the mountains to the plains.

[Illustration: Packer carrying Goods across Portage.]

It now became absolutely necessary to find mountain Indians who would
supply horses and guide the white men across the Divide.  In the hope of
finding the Indian trail, Captain Lewis landed with two men and preceded
the boats.  He had not gone five miles when to his sheer delight he saw a
Snake Indian on horseback.  Ordering his men to keep back, he advanced
within a mile of the horseman and three times spread his blanket on the
ground as a signal of friendship.  The horseman sat motionless as bronze.
Captain Lewis went forward, with trinkets held out to tempt a parley, and
was within a few hundred yards when the savage wheeled and dashed off.
Lewis' men had disobeyed orders and frightened the fellow by advancing.
Deeply chagrined, Lewis hoisted an American flag as sign of friendship
and continued his march.  Tracks of horses were followed across a bog,
along what was plainly an Indian road, till the sources of the Missouri
became so narrow that one of the men put a foot on each side and thanked
God that he had lived to bestride the Missouri.  Stooping, all drank from
the crystal spring whose waters they had traced for three thousand miles
from St. Louis.  Following a steep declivity, they were presently
crossing the course of a stream that flowed west and must lead to some
branch of the Columbia.

[Illustration: Spying on an Enemy's Fort.]

Suddenly, on the cliff in front, Captain Lewis discovered two squaws, an
Indian, and some dogs.  Unfurling his flag, he advanced.  The Indians
paused, then dashed for the woods.  Lewis tried to tie some presents
round the dogs' necks as a peace-offering, but the curs made off after
their master.  The white men had not proceeded a mile before they came to
three squaws, who never moved but bowed their heads to the ground for the
expected blow that would make them captives.  Throwing down weapons,
Lewis pulled up his sleeve to show that he was white.  Presents allayed
all fear, and the squaws had led him two miles toward their camp when
sixty warriors came galloping at full speed with arrows levelled.  The
squaws rushed forward, vociferating and showing their presents.  Three
chiefs at once dismounted, and fell on Captain Lewis with such greasy
embraces of welcome that he was glad to end the ceremony.  Pipes were
smoked, presents distributed, and the white men conducted to a great
leathern lodge, where Lewis announced his mission and prepared the
Indians for the coming of the main force in the boats.

[Illustration: Indian Camp at Foothills of Rockies.]

The Snakes scarcely knew whether to believe the white man's tale.  The
Indian camp was short of provisions, and Lewis urged the warriors to come
back up the trail to meet the advancing boats.  The braves hesitated.
Cameahwait, the chief, harangued till a dozen warriors mounted their
horses and set out, Lewis and his men each riding behind an Indian.
Captain Clark could advance only slowly, and the Indians with Lewis grew
suspicious as they entered the rocky denies without meeting the
explorers' party.  Half the Snakes turned back.  Among those that went on
were three women.  To demonstrate good faith, Lewis again mounted a horse
behind an Indian, though the bare-back riding over rough ground at a mad
pace was almost jolting his bones apart.  A spy came back breathless with
news for the hungry warriors that one of the white hunters had killed a
deer, and the whole company lashed to a breakneck gallop that nearly
finished Lewis, who could only cling for dear life to the Indian's waist.
The poor wretches were so ravenous that they fell on the dead deer and
devoured it raw.  It was here that Lewis expected the boats.  They were
not to be seen.  The Indians grew more distrustful.  The chief at once
put fur collars, after the fashion of Indian dress, round the white men's
shoulders.  As this was plainly a trick to conceal the whites in case of
treachery on their part, Lewis at once took off his hat and placed it on
the chief's head.  Then he hurried the Indians along, lest they should
lose courage completely.  To his mortification, Captain Clark did not
appear.  To revive the Indians' courage, the white men then passed their
guns across to the Snakes, signalling willingness to suffer death if the
Indians discovered treachery.  That night all the Indians hid in the
woods but five, who slept on guard round the whites.  If anything had
stopped Clark's advance, Lewis was lost.  Though neither knew it, Lewis
and Clark were only four miles apart, Clark, Chaboneau, the guide, and
Sacajawea, the Indian woman, were walking on the shore early in the
morning, when the squaw began to dance with signs of the most extravagant
joy.  Looking ahead, Clark saw one of Lewis' men, disguised as an Indian,
leading a company of Snake warriors that the squaw had recognized as her
own people, from whom she had been wrested when a child.  The Indians
broke into songs of delight, and Sacajawea, dashing through the crowd,
threw her arms round an Indian woman, sobbing and laughing and exhibiting
all the hysterical delight of a demented creature.  Sacajawea and the
woman had been playmates in childhood and had been captured in the same
war; but the Snake woman had escaped, while Sacajawea became a slave and
married the French guide.

Meanwhile, Captain Clark was being welcomed by Lewis and the chief,
Cameahwait.  Sacajawea was called to interpret.  Cameahwait rose to
speak.  The poor squaw flung herself on him with cries of delight.  In
the chief of the Snakes she had recognized her brother.  Laced coats,
medals, flags, and trinkets were presented to the Snakes; but though
willing enough to act as guides, the Indians discouraged the explorers
about going on in boats.  The western stream was broken for leagues by
terrible rapids walled in with impassable precipices.  Boats were
abandoned and horses bought from the Snakes.  The white men set their
faces northwestward, the southern trail, usually followed by the Snakes,
leading too much in the direction of the Spanish settlements.  Game grew
so scarce that by September the men were without food and a colt was
killed for meat.

By October the company was reduced to a diet of dog; but the last Divide
had been crossed.  Horses were left with an Indian chief of the
Flatheads, and the explorers glided down the Clearwater, leading to the
Columbia, in five canoes and one pilot boat.  Great was the joy in camp
on November 8, 1805; for the boats had passed the last _portage_ of the
Columbia.  When heavy fog rose, there burst on the eager gaze of the
_voyageurs_ the shining expanse of the Pacific.  The shouts of the
jubilant _voyageurs_ mingled with the roar of ocean breakers.  Like
Alexander Mackenzie of the far North a decade before, Lewis and Clark had
reached the long-sought Western Sea.  They had been first up the
Missouri, first across the middle Rockies, and first down the Columbia to
the Pacific.

Seven huts, known as Fort Clatsop, were knocked up on the south side of
the Columbia's harbor for winter quarters; and a wretched winter the
little fort spent, beleaguered not by hostiles, but by such inclement
damp that all the men were ill before spring and their very leather suits
rotted from their backs.  Many a time, coasting the sea, were they
benighted.  Spreading mats on the sand, they slept in the drenching rain.
Unused to ocean waters, the inland voyageurs became deadly seasick.
Once, when all were encamped on the shore, an enormous tidal wave broke
over the camp with a smashing of log-drift that almost crushed the boats.
Nez Perces and Flatheads had assisted the white men after the Snake
guides had turned back.  Clatsops and Chinooks were now their neighbors.
Christmas and New Year of 1806 were celebrated by a discharge of
firearms.  No boats chanced to touch at the Columbia during the winter.
The time was passed laying up store of elk meat and leather; for the
company was not only starving, but nearly naked.  The Pacific had been
reached on November 14, 1805.  Fort Clatsop was evacuated on the
afternoon of March 23, 1806.

The goods left to trade for food and horses when Lewis and Clark departed
from the coast inland had dwindled to what could have been tied in two
handkerchiefs; but necessity proved the mother of invention, and the men
cut the brass buttons from their tattered clothes and vended brass
trinkets to the Indians.  The medicine-chest was also sacrificed, every
Indian tribe besieging the two captains for eye-water, fly-blisters, and
other patent wares.  The poverty of the white man roused the insolence of
the natives on the return over the mountains.  Rocks were rolled down on
the boatmen at the worst _portages_ by aggressive Indians; and once, when
the hungry _voyageurs_ were at a meal of dog meat, an Indian impudently
flung a live pup straight at Captain Lewis' plate.  In a trice the pup
was back in the fellow's face; Lewis had seized a weapon; and the
crestfallen aggressor had taken ignominiously to his heels.  When they
had crossed the mountains, the forces divided into three parties, two to
go east by the Yellowstone, one under Lewis by the main Missouri.

Somewhere up the height of land that divides the southern waters of the
Saskatchewan from the northern waters of the Missouri, the tracks of
Minnetaree warriors were found.  These were the most murderous raiders of
the plains.  Over a swell of the prairie Lewis was startled to see a band
of thirty horses, half of them saddled.  The Indians were plainly on the
war-path, for no women were in camp; so Lewis took out his flag and
advanced unfalteringly.  An Indian came forward.  Lewis and the chief
shook hands, but Lewis now had no presents to pacify hostiles.  Camping
with the Minnetarees for the night, as if he feared nothing, Lewis
nevertheless took good care to keep close watch on all movements.  He
smoked the pipe of peace with them as late as he dared; and when he
retired to sleep, he had ordered Fields and the other two white men to be
on guard.  At sunrise the Indians crowded round the fire, where Fields
had for the moment carelessly laid his rifle.  Simultaneously, the
warriors dashed at the weapons of the sleeping white men, while other
Indians made off with the explorers' horses.  With a shout, Fields gave
the alarm, and pursuing the thieves, grappled with the Indian who had
stolen his rifle.  In the scuffle the Indian was stabbed to the heart.
Drewyer succeeded in wresting back his gun, and Lewis dashed out with his
pistol, shouting for the Indians to leave the horses.  The raiders were
mounting to go off at full speed.  The white men pursued on foot.  Twelve
horses fell behind; but just as the Indians dashed for hiding behind a
cliff, Lewis' strength gave out.  He warned them if they did not stop he
would shoot.  An Indian turned to fire with one of the stolen weapons,
and instantly Lewis' pistol rang true.  The fellow rolled to earth
mortally wounded; but Lewis felt the whiz of a bullet past his own head.
Having captured more horses than they had lost, the white men at once
mounted and rode for their lives through river and slough, sixty miles
without halt; for the Minnetarees would assuredly rally a larger band of
warriors to their aid.  A pause of an hour to refresh the horses and a
wilder ride by moonlight put forty more miles between Captain Lewis and
danger.  At daylight the men were so sore from the mad pace for
twenty-four hours that they could scarcely stand; but safety depended on
speed and on they went again till they reached the main Missouri, where
by singularly good luck some of the other _voyageurs_ had arrived.

[Illustration: On Guard.]

The entire forces were reunited below the Yellowstone on August 12th.
Traders on the way up the Missouri from St. Louis brought first news of
the outer world, and the discoverers were not a little amused to learn
that they had been given up for dead.  At the Mandans, Colter, one of the
frontiersmen, asked leave to go back to the wilds; and Chaboneau, with
his dauntless wife, bade the white men farewell.  On September 20th
settlers on the river bank above St. Louis were surprised to see thirty
ragged men, with faces bronzed like leather, passing down the river.
Then some one remembered who these worn _voyageurs_ were, and cheers of
welcome made the cliffs of the Missouri ring.  On September 23d, at
midday, the boats drew quietly up to the river front of St. Louis.  Lewis
and Clark, the greatest pathfinders of the United States, had returned
from the discovery of a new world as large as half Europe, without losing
a single man but Sergeant Floyd, who had died from natural causes a few
months after leaving St. Louis.  What Radisson had begun in 1659-1660,
what De la Vérendrye had attempted when he found the way barred by the
Rockies--was completed by Lewis and Clark in 1805.  It was the last act
in that drama of heroes who carved empire out of wilderness; and all
alike possessed the same hero-qualities--courage and endurance that were
indomitable, the strength that is generated in life-and-death grapple
with naked primordial reality, and that reckless daring which defies life
and death.  Those were hero-days; and they produced hero-types, who flung
themselves against the impossible--and conquered it.  What they conquered
we have inherited.  It is the Great Northwest.

[Illustration: Indians of the Up-country or _Pays d'en Haut_.]

[1] Mention of this man is to be found in Northwest Company manuscripts,
lately sold in the Masson collection of documents to the Canadian
Archives and McGill College Library.  It was also my good fortune--while
this book was going to print--to see the entire family collection of
Clark's letters, owned by Mrs. Julia Clark Voorhis of New York.  Among
these letters is one to Chaboneau from Clark.  In spite of the cordial
relations between the Nor'westers and Lewis and Clark, these fur traders
cannot conceal their fear that this trip presages the end of the fur


For the very excellent translations of the almost untranslatable
transcripts taken from the Marine Archives of Paris, and forwarded to
me by the Canadian Archives, I am indebted to Mr. R. Roy, of the Marine
Department, Ottawa, the eminent authority on French Canadian
genealogical matters.

Some of the topics in the Appendices are of such a controversial
nature--the whereabouts of the Mascoutins, for instance--that at my
request Mr. Roy made the translation absolutely literal no matter how
incongruous the wording.  To those who say Radisson was not on the
Missouri I commend Appendix E, where the tribes of the West are




I have received the two letters with which you have honored me; I have
even received one inclosed that I have not given, for reasons that I
will tell you, God willing, in a few days.

I have received your instructions contained in the one and the other,
as to the way I should act, and I should not have failed to execute all
that you order me for the service of our Master, if I had been at full
liberty so to do; you must have no doubt about it, because my
inclination and my duty agree perfectly well.  All the advantages that
I am offered did not for a moment cause me to waver, but, in short,
sir, I could not go to Paris, and I shall be happy to go and meet you
by the route you travel.  I shall be well pleased to find landed the
people you state will be there; in case they may have the commission
you speak of in your two letters, have it accompanied if you please
with a memorandum of what I shall have to do for the service of our
Master.  I know of a case whereby I am sufficiently taught that it is
not safe to undertake too many things, however advantageous they may
be, nor undertaking too little.  I am convinced, sir, that having
orders, I will carry them out at the risk of my life, and I flatter
myself that you do not doubt it.

There is much likelihood that the men you sent last year are lost.

I should like, sir, to be at the place you desire me to go; be assured
I will perish, or be there as soon as I possibly can; it is saying
enough.  I do not answer to the rest of your letter, it is sufficient
that I am addressing a sensible man, who, knowing my heart, will not
doubt that I will keep my word with him, as I believe he will do all he
can for my interests.

I am, with much anxiety to see you, sir, your most humble and most
obedient servant,

(signed) CHOUART.

I will leave here only on the 25th of next month.





I learn by the letter you have written me, of the 2nd November last,
that my father has returned from France without obtaining anything at
that Court, which made you think of leaving Quebec; my sentiment would
be that you abandon this idea as I am strongly determined to go and be
by you at the first opportunity I get, which shall be, God willing, as
soon as I have taken means to that effect when I have returned from the

I hope to start on this voyage in a month or six weeks at the latest; I
cannot determine on what date I could be near you; my father may know
what difficulties there are.  However, I hope to surmount them, and
there is nothing I would not do to that end.

The money I left with my cousin is intended to buy you a house, as I
have had always in mind to do, had not my father opposed it, but now I
will do it so as to give you a chance to get on, and always see you in
the country where I will live.

I have been made, here, proposals of marriage, to which I have not
listened, not being here under the rule of my king nor near my parents,
and I would have left this kingdom had I been given the liberty to do
so, but they hold back on me my pay and the price of my merchandise,
and I cannot sail away as orders have been given to arrest me in case I
should prepare to leave.

What you fear in reference to my money should not give you any
uneasiness on account of the English.  I will cause it to be pretty
well known that I never intended to follow the English.  I have been
surprised and forced by my uncle's subterfuges to risk this voyage
being unable to escape the English vessels where my uncle made me go
without disclosing his plan, which he has worked out in bringing me
here, but I will not disclose mine either: to abandon this nation.  I
am willing that my cousin should pay you the income on my money, until
I return home.  M. the earl of Denonville, your governor, will see to
my mother's affairs, as they who render service to the country will not
be forsaken as in the past, and being generous as he is, loyal and
zealous for his country, he will inform the Court what there is to be
done for the benefit of our nation.

I am, my dear mother, to my father and to you,

most obedient servant,
  (signed) CHOUART.

And below is written:--


I pray you to see on my behalf M. du Lude, and assure him of my very
humble services.  I will have the honor of seeing him as soon as I can.
Please do the same with M. Peray and all our good friends.



Held at fort Pontchartrain, in lake Erie strait, 8th June, 1704.

By the indians Kiskacous, Ottawa, Sinagot of the Sable Nation, Hurons,
Saulteurs (Sault Indians), Amikoique (Amikoués), Mississaugas,
Nipissings, Miamis and Wolves, in the presence of M. de
Lamothe-Cadillac, commanding at the said fort; de Tonty, captain of a
detachment of Marines; the rev F. Constantin, Recollet missionary at
the said post; Messrs Desnoyers and Radisson, principal clerks of the
Company of the Colony, and of all the French, soldiers as well as

The one named FORTY SOLS, (40 half-penny), indian chief of the Huron
nation speaks as much on behalf of the said nation as of all those
present at the meeting.

The French having come, he said:--

"We ask that all the French be present at this Council so that they
hear and know what we will say to you.

"We are well on this land, it is very good, and we are much pleased
with it; listen well, father, we pray you.

"Mrs de Tonty went away last year; she did not return; we see you going
away to-day, father, with your wife, your children and all the
Frenchwomen as well as that of M. Radisson, who is going down with you;
that reveals to us that you abandon us.

"We are angry for good and ill-disposed if the women go away.  We pray
you to pay attention to this because we could not stop you nor your
young men: we demand that Radisson remains, or at least, that he
returns promptly."


"We will escort your wife and the other Frenchwomen who intend to go
down to Montreal.  Now, mind well what we are asking you.

"We readily see that the Governor is a liar, as he does not keep to
what he has promised us; as he has lied to us we will lie to him also,
and we will listen no more to his word.

"What brings that man here (speaking of M. Desnoyers)?  We do not know
him and do not understand him; we are ill-disposed.  It is two years
since you have been gathering in our peltries, part of which has been
taken down; we will allow nothing to leave until the French come up
with goods."


"Father, we pray you to send back that man (speaking of M. Desnoyers),
because if he remains here, we do not answer for his safety; our people
have told us that he despises our peltries and only wanted beaver;
where does he want us to get it.  We absolutely want him to go; nothing
will leave the house where the trading is done and where the peltries
and bundles are, until the French arrive here with merchandise and they
be allowed to trade.  When we came here, the Governor did not tell us
that the merchants would be masters over the merchandise; he lied to
us; we ask that all the Frenchmen trade here; we pray you to write and
tell him what we are saying, and if he does not listen to us, we will
also refuse to accept his word.

"The land is not yours, it is ours, and we will leave it to go where we
like without anybody finding fault.  We regret having allowed the
surgeon to leave as we apprehend he will not come back.

"We pray you will cause to remain Gauvereau the blacksmith and gunsmith.

"I have nothing more to say, I have spoken for all the nations here

M. de Lamothe had a question put to the Ottawa and the other nations,
if that was their sentiment; they all answered: Yes, and that they were
of one and the same mind.  He told them that, seeing they had taken
time to think over what they had just said, he would consider as to
what he had to answer them, and, put them off to the morrow, after
having accepted their necklace.

(Not signed.)


Held at fort Pontchartrain, in lake Erie strait, the 9th June, 1704.

By the Indians Kiskacous; Ottawas; Sinagotres, the Sable nation;
Hurons; Sauteux (Sault Ste Marie Indians); Amikoique (Beaver nation);
Mississaugas; Miamis and Wolves in the presence of M. de
Lamothe-Cadillac, commanding at the said fort; de Tonty, captain of a
detachment of Marines; the rev F. Constantin, Recollet missionary at
the said post, Messrs Desnoyers and Radisson, principal clerks of the
Company of the Colony, and of all the French, soldiers as well as

M. de Lamothe addressed all the said nations:--

"As you requested me to pay attention to your words, please listen, the
same, to-day.

"I was aware that Mdme. de Tonty's trip to Montreal last year had given
you umbrage, because she did not come back; and the cause of it is her

"I knew also that my wife's setting out for Montreal as also the other
Frenchwomen was causing you uneasiness, because you believed I was
going to abandon you.  It is true she was going away, but it was not
for ever.  I showed her your necklace; that her children would miss her
very much and that they begged of her to stay.  When she heard of your
grief, she accepted your necklace and she will stay for some time,
because she does not like to refuse her children; the other Frenchwomen
will remain also.

"You spoke ill of the Governor when you said he was a liar.  If anyone
told you that he was forsaking you, I will be pleased if you will tell
me who it is.  As for me I have no knowledge of it.

"M. Desnoyers was present when you offered your necklace, and like me
he heard your statement.  He told me you were wrong to complain about
him because he would not take your peltries and that he wanted beaver
only; you are complaining inopportunely seeing that he has not done any
trading.  You should tell me who made those reports.  But as you are
not glad to see him, he has decided to go back, and as I am going down
to Montreal on good business, he will accompany me, and also M.
Radisson, because the Governor wants him, and he must obey, and we will
arrange so that we come back together.

"You have asked me to write down your speech to the Governor.  I will
be the bearer of it.  I have not the authority to have the French to
trade here; it is a matter that M. the Governor will settle with M. the

"The Governor did not lie to you because he did not notify you the
first year, that the merchants would be masters of the merchandise,
because it was the King who sent it here then and I could dispose of
it; since then, an order came from the King in favor of the merchants.

"This land is mine, because I am the first one who lighted a fire
thereon, and you all took some to light yours.

"I am very glad that you like this land, and that you find it is good.

"It is of no consequence that the surgeon left, because when one goes
another comes, and the same applies for the gunsmith.

"I have no more to tell you.  Here is some tobacco that you may all
smoke together, and that it may give you wisdom until I return and the
Governor sends you his word.  Attend to your mother during my absence,
and see that she does not want for provisions, for if you do not take
care of her, on my return I will not give you a drink of brandy.

"M. de Tonty replaces me; I pray you to be on good terms with him."

FORTY SOLS, chief of the Hurons, spoke for all the indians:--

"We remember well, father, of what we said yesterday because you repeat
it to-day.  We thank you for having listened to us and granted all we
asked you.  We thank the women for not going away, because their
remaining is as if you remained.  From to-morrow we will stimulate our
young men to go after provisions for our mother.

"It is three years ago, when in Montreal at the general meeting our
chiefs died, the governor told us to have courage, that he was sorry
for us, that he saw we were very far to come and get goods in Montreal,
and he invited us to come and settle around you, and that he would send
us merchandise at the same price as in Montreal.  This worked well for
two years, but goods rose up too much in price the third year.

"The first year you came, we were very happy, but now we are naked, not
even having a bad shirt to put on our back.  We would be pleased by the
establishment of several stores here, because if we were refused in
one, we could go to another.

"We are very glad of M. Desnoyers' going back because we do not know
him and we fear some of our young men may be ill-disposed.

"We were under the impression the Governor had sold us to the merchants
since they are the masters of the commerce.

"It is true that we took of your fire to light ours but we have waited
two years without anything coming this way so that your land is ours.
I told the same thing to the Governor last year in Montreal.

"Have courage, father, we will pray God for you during your voyage so
that you may bring back good news."

(Not signed.)


Cie des Indes

(Indies Co'y)

Renders account to the said company of the death of Mr. Radisson,
receiver at Montreal, of the nomination ad interim of Mr. Gamelin to
fill the vacancy of receiver, of account to render by Mr. Deplessis,
heir of Mr. Radisson to reëstablish price of summer beaver as before
ordinance of the 4th January, 1733.



I have received the letter you did me the honor to send me of the 9th
March last.

M. Radisson, your receiver at Montreal, died there the 14th of June and
immediately M. Gamelin, merchant, to whom Messrs La Gorgendière and
Daine had given three years ago, had commissioned to look after your
interests in default or in case of death of M. Radisson, applied to M.
Michel, my sub-delegate to affix the seals on of all your effects,
which was done according to the account rendered you by Messrs. La
Gorgendière and Daine.

It was necessary to fill the vacancy.  I have appointed temporarily in
virtue of the authority, you gave, gentlemen, the same M. Gamelin; I
thought I could not have your interests in better hands, as much for
his honesty than his intelligence in regulating his sales and his
receipts.  Independently of the knowledge he has of the different
qualities of beaver, I have had the honor to speak to you on this
subject in my preceding letters and to say that the only obstacle I
find to giving him the office of receiver at Montreal was his quality
of merchant outfitter for the upper country, which might render him
suspicious to you because of the returns he gets in beaver.  Although I
have a pretty good opinion of him to believe his loyalty proof against
any particular interest, you shall see, gentlemen, by the copy of the
commission I have given him, which is sent you, that it is on condition
either directly or indirectly to do no traffic in the upper country,
and to confine himself either to marine trade or other inland commerce,
to which he has agreed, but nevertheless has represented to me that
being engaged as a partner with M. Lamarque, another merchant, for the
working out of the post named "the Western Sea" and that of the Sioux;
this partnership only terminating in 1737; that he was looking around
to sell his share, but, if this thing was impossible requesting me to
kindly allow him to continue until that term, past which he would cease
all commerce in the upper country.  I agreed to this arrangement on
account of his good qualities, and this will not turn to any account of
consequence; whatever, selection you may make, gentlemen, you will not
find a better one in this country.

M. de La Gorgendière having offered me his son to act as clerk to M.
Gamelin and comptroller in the Montreal office, for the auditing to be
made, without increasing on that score the expenditure of your
administration, I have consented on these conditions; M. Gamelin to
give him 800 livres (shillings) on the commission of one per cent the
company allow the receiver at Montreal, and M. Daine has assured me he
was satisfied with his work.

I will not entertain, you, messieurs, with the discussion of the
account to be rendered by M. Duplessis, M. Radisson's heir, to your
agent, who claims he owes 5 to 6000 livres.  Those discussions did not
take place in my presence.

Most of the beaver shipped this year were put up in bundles, and
shortage in cotton cloth for packing prevented shipment of the whole.

The disturbances which have occurred for some years in the upper
country have effectively prevented the Indians from hunting; the post
of the Bay which abounds ordinarily with beaver, produced nothing;
those of Detroit and Michilimakinac, only furnished very little.
Happily the post of the Sioux and of the Western Sea produced near to
100,000 which swelled up the receipt; otherwise it would have been very

The party commanded by M. Desnoyelles against the Indians Sakis and
Foxes was not as successful as expected on account of the desertion and
retreat of 100 Hurons and Iroquois who left him when at the Kakanons
(Kiskanons of Michilimakinac?) without his being able to hold them, so
that this officer found himself after a long tramp at those Indians'
fort, not only inferior in numbers but also much in want of provisions.
He was under the necessity of returning after a rather sharp skirmish
which took place between some of his men and the enemy.  We lost two
Frenchmen and one of our indians; the Foxes and Sakis lost 21 men,
either killed, wounded or captured.

If the Sakis come back to the Bay, as they pledged themselves to M.
Desnoyelles we are in hopes here that peace will again flourish and
consequently the trade of the upper country.

I have seen, gentlemen, what you were pleased to say as to reduction in
price on the summer-beaver.  I had been assured by reliable persons
that this reduction might become very injurious to your commerce.  I
have learned that some of this kind of beaver were carried to the
English who pay two livres (shillings) for one and at a higher price
than you pay over your counters.  It was from what you wrote me in
1732, that the hatters could make no use of that beaver, that at your
request I published an ordinance of the 4th January, 1733, reducing the
price of summer-beaver either green (gras) or dry (sec) to ten pence a
pound, on condition that it should be burned.  There could be nothing
suspicious in that.  But since you now deem that that reduction may be
harmful, as I have also had in mind to invite the indians and even the
French under this pretence to take the good as well as the bad beaver
to the English; I will restore the price of the summer-beaver as it was
before my ordinance.  I will not be at a loss for a cause: it is not in
your interest to give a lower price.  You run your commerce, gentlemen,
with too much good faith to give rise to suspicion that you wished for
a reduction in price to 10 pence for this kind of beaver, and having it
burned only to procure it yourself at that price and not burn it.
Besides, the quantity received is too small a matter to deserve

[Sidenote: Beaver hats half worked made in the country.]

M. the marquis de Beauharnois and I have received the orders of the
King with reference to beaver hats half worked made in Canada.  His
Majesty has ordered us to break up the workmen's benches and to prevent
any manufacture of hats.  We have made some representations on this
subject, to those made to us, namely by a man named ------, hatter, and
your receiver at Quebec.  It is true that the making of beaver hats
half worked and other for export to France could turn out of
consequence in ruining your privilege and the hat establishments in
France.  These are the only inconveniences, to my mind, to be feared,
as I do not look upon such, the making of hats for the use of residents
of the country.  So that we have satisfied ourselves, until further
orders, to forbid the going, out of the colony, of all kind of hats, as
you will see by the ordinance we have published together, M. the
General and I.  If we had been more strict, the three hatters
established in this colony, who know no other business than their
trade, the man ------ amongst others, who follow that calling from
father to son, would have been reduced to begging.

The quantity of hats they will manufacture when export is stopped,
cannot be of any injury to the manufactures of the kingdom and be but
of small matter to your commerce.  Moreover, I am aware that these
hatters employ the worst kind of beaver, which they get very cheap, and
your stores at Paris are that much rid of them.

[Sidenote: Defects in list of cloth sent.]

The cloths you sent this year are of better quality than the precedding
shipment.  Messrs La Gorgendiere, Daine and Gamelin have observed on
defects which happen in the lists; they told me they would inform you.

[Sidenote: Remittance of 300 livres (shillings) to the Baron de

I have the honor to thank you, gentlemen, for the remittance of 300
livres you were pleased to grant to M. the Baron of Longueuil, on my

It is very difficult to prevent the Indians going to Chouaguen; the
brandy that the English give out freely is an invincible attraction.

I have heard, the same as you, that some Frenchmen disguised as Indians
had been there; if I can discover some one, you may be sure that I will
deal promptly with them.  You may have heard that the man LENOIR,
resident of Montreal, having gone to England three years ago without
leave, I have kept him in prison till he had settled the fine he was
condemned to pay, and which I transferred to the hospitals.  I add that
a part of the interest you have in the Indians not going to Chouaguen,
I have another on account of the trading carried on for the benefit of
the King at Niagara and at fort Frontenac which that English post has
ruined.  By all means you may rely on my attention to break up English
trade.  I fear I may not succeed in this so long as the brandy traffic,
although moderate, will find adversaries among those who govern

[Sidenote: Foreign trade; Beaver at trade at Labrador.]

I will do my best to prevent the beaver which is traded at Labrador and
the other posts in the lower part of the River to be smuggled to France
by ships from Bayonne, St Malo and Marseille.  This will be difficult
as we cannot have at those posts any inspector.  I will try, however,
to give an ordinance so as to prevent that, which may intimidate some
of those who carry on that commerce.

It is true that the commandants of the upper country posts have relaxed
in the sending of the declarations made or to be made by the
_voyageurs_ as to the quantity and quality of the bundles of beaver
they take down to Montreal.  M. the General and I have renewed the
necessary orders on this subject so that the commandants shall conform
to them.

[Sidenote: Asks for continuation of gratuity received by Mr. Michel,
even to increase it.]

M. Michel, my subdelegate at Montreal has received the bounty of 500
livres you have requested your agent to pay to him; he hopes that you
will be pleased to have it continued next year.  I have the honor to
pray you to do so, and even augment it, if possible.  I can assure you,
gentlemen that he lends himself on all occasions to all that may
concern your commerce.  As for myself, I am very flattered by the
opinion you entertain that I have at heart your interests.  I always
feel a true satisfaction in renewing you these assurances.

I am, respectfully,

[Sidenote: Thanks for the coffee sent.]

GENTLEMEN, M. de La Gorgendière has delivered to me on your behalf, a
bale of Moka coffee.  I am very sensible, gentlemen, to this token of
friendship on your part.

I have the honor to thank you, and to assure you that I am very truly
and respectfully, etc.

(signed) HOCQUART.



(No locality) 1697

All the discoveries in America were only made step by step and little
by little, especially those of lands held by the French in that part of
the North.

It being certain that during the reign of king Francis I, several of
his subjects, amateurs of shipping and of discoveries, in imitation of
the Portuguese and the Spaniards, made the voyage, where they found the
great cod bank.  The quality of birds frequenting this sea where they
always find food, caused them to heave the lead, and bottom was found
and the said great bank.

He got an opinion on the nearest lands, and other curious persons
desired to go farther, and discovered Cape Breton, Virginia and
Florida.  Some even inhabited and took possession of the divers places,
abandoned since, through misunderstanding of the commanders and their
poor skill in knowing how to keep on good terms with the indians of
those countries, who, good natured all at the beginning, could not
suffer the rigor with which it was wanted to subjugate them, so that
after a short occupation, they left to return to Europe.  And since,
the Spaniards and the English successfully have taken possession of the
land and all the coasts that the said English have kept until this day
to much advantage, so that Frenchmen who have returned since have been
obliged to settle at Cape Breton and Acadia.

About the year 1540, the said Cape Breton was fortified by Jacques
Carrier, captain of St Malo, who afterward entered the river St.
Lawrence up to 7 or 8 leagues above Quebec, where desiring to know
more, the season also being too far advanced he stopped off to winter
at a small river which bears his name and which forms the boundary of
M. de Becancourt's land whom he knew; he made sociable a number of
Indians who came aboard his ship and brought back beaver pretty

Since, he made another voyage with Saintonge men which did not prevent
several other ships to go after the said beaver; men from Dieppe,
Brittany and La Rochelle, some with a passport and others by fraud and
piracy, especially the latter, the Civil war having carried away
persons out of dutifulness, the Admiralty and the Marine being then
held in very little consideration, which lasted a long time.

However, I believe for having heard it said, that the lands after new
discoveries were given since to M. Chabot or to M. Ventadour, where a
certain gentleman from Saintonge named M. du Champlain, had very free
admittance and who may have mingled with those of his country who had
navigated with Carrier and had given him a longing to see that of which
he had only heard speak.

He was a proper man for such a scheme; a great courage, wisdom,
sensible, pious, fair and of great experience; a robust body which
would render him indefatigable and capable to resist hunger, cold and

This gentleman then solicited permission to come to Canada and obtained
it.  His small estate and his friends supplied him with a medium sized
vessel for the passage.  This new commandant or governor pitied much
the Indians and had the satisfaction at his arrival to see that he was
much feared and loved by them.  He took memoranda through his
interpreter of their wars, their mode of living and of their interests.
At that time they were numerous and proud of the great advantages they
had over the Iroquois, their enemy.  With this information he recrossed
to France; gave an account of his voyage, and was so charmed with the
land, the climate and of the good which would result from a permanent
establishment that he persuaded his wife to accompany him.  His example
induced missionaries of St. François and some parisian families to
follow him.  He was granted a commission or governor's provisions to
take his living from the country.

He erected a palissade fort at the place now occupied by the fort St
Louis of Quebec.

To please the indians he went with them and three Frenchmen only,
warring in the Iroquois country, which has no doubt given rise to our
quarrel with this nation.

The Commerce was then in the hands of the Rochelois (?) who supplied
some provisions to the said M. de Champlain, a man without interest and
disposed to be content with little.

He returns to France in the interests of the country and took back
Madam his wife who died in a Ursuline convent, at Saintes, I believe,
and he at Quebec, after having worked hard there, with little help
because of the misfortunes of France.

M. the Cardinal of Richelieu have inspired France with confidence by
the humiliation of the Rochelois (?) wanted to take care of the marine
and formed at that time, about 1626 or 1627 what was then called the
"Society of One Hundred," in which joined persons of all
qualifications, and also merchants from Dieppe and Rouen.  Dieppe was
then reputed for good navigators and for navigation.

The said M. the Cardinal got granted to the said company the islands of
St Christophe, newly discovered and all the lands of Canada.  The
Company composed of divers states did not take long to disjoin, and of
this great Company several were formed by themselves, the ones
concerning themselves about the Isles and the others about Canada,
where they were also divided up in a Company of Miscou, which is an
island of the Bay in the lower part of the River, where all the Indians
meet, and a Company of Tadoussac or Quebec.

The Basques, Rochelois, Bretons, and Normans, who during the disorders
of the war had commenced secretly on the River, crossed their commerce
much by the continuation of their runs without passport.  Sometimes on
pretext of cod or whale fishing, notwithstanding the interdiction of
decrees, the gain made them risk everything, as the two sides of the
river were all settled and many more came down from inland.

Those Companies for being badly served on account of inexperience and
through poor economy, as will happen at the beginning of all affairs,
were put to large expenses.

The English had already seized on Boston abandoned by the French after
their new discovery; beaver and elk peltry were much sought after and
at a very high price in Europe; they could be had for a needle, a
hawk-bell or a tin looking-glass, a marked copper coin.  Our possession
was there very well-off.  The English who made war to us in France,
also made it in Canada, and began to take the fleet about Isle Percée,
as it was ascending to Quebec.

As four or five vessels came every year loaded with goods for the
Indians, it was at that time quantity of peas, plums, raisins, figs and
others and provisions for M. de Champlain; a garrison of 15 or 20 men;
a store in the lower town where the clerks of the Company lived with 10
or 12 families already used to the country.  This succor failing, much
hardship was endured in a country which then produced nothing by
itself, so that the English presenting themselves the next year with
their fleet, surrender was obligatory; the governor and the Recollets
crossed over to France and the families were treated honestly enough.

Happily in 1628 or 1629, France made it up with England and the treaty
gave back Canada to the French, when M. de Champlain, returned and died
some years later.

Those of the Company of 100, who were persons of dignity and
consideration, living in Paris, thought fit to leave the care and
benefits of commerce for Canada with the Rouen and Dieppe merchants,
with whom joined a few from Paris.  They were charged with the payment
of the governor's appointments, to furnish him with provisions and
subsistence and to keep up the garrisons of Quebec and Three-Rivers
where there was also a post on account of the large number of Indians
calling; to furnish the things necessary for the war; to pay themselves
off the product and give account of the surplus to the directors of the
Company who had an office at Paris.

It has been said that Dieppe and Rouen benefitted and that Paris
suffered and was disgusted.

To M. de Champlain succeeded M. de Montmagny, very wise and very
dignified; knight of Malta; relative of M. de Poinsy, who commanded at
the Island of St Christophe where the said M. de Montmagny died after
leaving Canada after a sojourn of 14 or 15 years, loved and cherished
by the French and the natives--we say the French, although the
complaints made against him by the principals were the cause of his
sorrow and he resigned voluntarily.

It is to be remarked that all the commerce was done at Rouen to go out
through Dieppe on the hearsay and the fine connections that the Jesuit
Fathers who had taken the Recollets' place, took great care to have
printed and distributed every year.

Canada was in vogue and several families from Normandy and the Perche
took sail to come and reside in it; there were nobles, the most of them
poor, we might say, who found out from the first, that M. de Montmagny
was too disinterested to be willing to consider the change they desired
for their advantage.  They intrigued against him five or six families
without the participation of the others, got leave from him to go to
France to ask for favors and there had one of themselves as governor;
obtained liberty in the beaver trade, which until then had been
strictly forbidden to the inhabitants who had been reserved the fruits
of the country to advance the culture of the land such as pease, Indian
corn, and wheat bread.  That was the first title of the inhabitants to
trade with the indians.

To arrive at that end they promised to pay annually 1000 beaver to the
Paris office for its seignorial right which it did not receive through
its attention and management of its affairs.

They got permission to form a Board from their principal men, to
transact with the governor all matters in the country for peace, for
war, the settlement of accounts of their society or little republic,
and also sitting on cases concerning interests of private individuals.

It was then that to keep up this sham republic or society, a tax of
one-fourth was imposed on the export of beaver.

By these means the authority of the Company and its store were ruined
and the whole was turning to the advantage of those four or six
families, the others, either poor or slighted by the authority of M.
D'Ailleboust, their governor.

On this footing it was not hard for them to find large credit at La
Rochelle, because loans were made in the name of the Community,
although it consisted only of these four or six families; which from
their being poor found themselves in large managements enlarged their
household, ran into expense, that of their vessels and shipments was
excessive and the wealth derived from the beaver was to pay all.

Their bad management altered their credit and brought them to agree,
after several years' enjoyment so as not to pay La Rochelle, to take
their ships to Hâvre-de-Grace, where, on arrival they sold to Messrs
Lick and Tabac; this perfidy which they excused because of the large
interest taken from them, alarmed La Rochelle who complained to Paris,
and after much pressing a trustee was appointed to give bonds in the
name of the society for large sums yet due to the city of La Rochelle.

Their vessels all bore off to Normandy; they took on their cargoes
there in part, and part at La Rochelle, the trade having been allowed
those two places, because Rouen and Dieppe had several persons on the
roll of the Company and obligation was due La Rochelle for having
loaned property.

The governor and the families addressed reproaches to each other, and
the King being pleased to listen to them, had the kindness to appoint
from the body of the company persons of first dignity to give attention
to what was going on in this colony, who were called Commissioners;
they were Messrs de Morangis, de la Marguerid, Verthamont and Chame,
and since, Messrs de Lamoignon, de Boucherat and de Lauzon, the latter
also of the body of the Company offered to pass over to this country to
arrange the difficulties, and he asked for its government, which was
accorded him.

He embarked at La Rochelle because of the obligation of the creditors
of that city to treat him gently; Rouen did not care much.  He was a
literary man; he made friends with the R. F. Jesuits, and created a new
council in virtue of the powers he had brought, rebuke the one and the
other place, even the inhabitants, in forbidding them to barter in what
was called the limits of Tadoussac, which he bounded for a particular
lease as a security for his payment and of what has always since been
called the offices of the country or the state of the 33,000 livres;
the emoluments of the Councillors, the garrison, the Jesuits, the
Parish, the Ursulines, the Hote-Dieu, etc.

The pretext given was that the Iroquois having burned and ruined the
Hurons or Ottawa, the tax of one-fourth did not produce enough to meet
those demands, and because Tadoussac also was not sufficient to meet
all the expenditure contemplated to give war to the Iroquois, he it was
also who began in not paying the thousand weight in beaver owing for
seignorial right to the Company who was irritated and blamed his
conduct, and after the lapse of some years his friends write him they
could not longer shield him he anticipated his recall in returning to
France, where he has since served as sub-dean of the Council, residing
at the cloister of Notre-Dame with his son, canon at the said church.

I only saw him two years in Canada where he was hardly liked, by reason
of the little care he took to keep up his rank, without servant, living
on pork and peas like an artisan or a peasant.

However, having decided to go back, for a second time he threw open the
Tadoussac trade, by an order of his Council.

M. de Lamoignon, the first president, got named to replace him, M.
D'Argenson, young man of 30 to 32 years steady as could be, who
remained four or five years to the satisfaction of everybody; he kept
up the Council as it is intended for the security of his emoluments and
of the garrison, selected twelve of the most notable persons to whom he
gave the faculty of trading at Tadoussac and all the sureties to be
wished for the administration and maintenance.

He had the misfortune to fall out with the Jesuit Fathers, and they,
with messieurs de Mont Royal, of St Sulpice who had sent Mr the abbey
de Queysac, in the hope of making a bishop of him; the former wishing
to have one of their nomination presented to the Queen-mother of the
reigning King, whom God preserve, M. de Laval, to-day elder and first
bishop, who, very rigid, not only backed the Jesuits against the
governor in all difficulties but specially in the matter of the liquor
traffic with the indians.  Although (D'Argenson) a much God-fearing-man
he had his private opinions, and this offended him; he asked M. de
Lamoignon for his recall, which was done in 1661, when M. d'Avaugour
came out.

It was in 1660 that the Office in Paris, at the request of the
governor, of the Local council and on the advice of Messrs de
Lamoignon, Chame and other commissioners made an agreement with the
Rouen merchants to supply the inhabitants with all goods they would
require with 60% profit on dry goods and 100% on liquors, freight paid.

It was pretended that the country was not safely secured by ships of
private parties, and that when they arrived alone by unforeseen
accidents, they happened unexpectedly, to the ruin of the country; as
well as the beaver fallen to a low price and which was restored only at
the marriage of the king should keep up.

The creditors then pressing payment of their claims, a decree ordered
that of the 60%, 10% should be taken for the payment of debts which
were fixed at 10,000 livres at the rate of the consumption of the time
and of which the Company of Normandy took charge.  The country was
favorable enough to this treaty because they were well served, but when
the treaty arrived at first, the bishop who was jealous because he had
not been consulted and that some little gratification had been given to
facilitate matters had it opposed by some of the inhabitants and by M.
D'Avaugour, governor in the place of the said D'Argenson.

The Society of Normandy consented to the breaking off of the treaty on
receiving a minute account and being paid some compensation, as to
which they had no satisfaction because of the changes, for M.
D'Avaugour, like the others, fell out with the Bishop who went to
France and had him revoked, presenting in his stead M. de Mezy, a
Norman gentleman who did nothing better than to overdo all the
difficulties arising on the question of the Bishop and the Governor's

The beaver dropped down, as soon, to a low price, and there was a
difference by half when the King in 1664 formed the Company of the West
Indies, which alone, to the exclusion of all others, had to supply the
country with merchandise and receive also all the beaver; in 1669, came
M. de Tracy, de Courcelles and Talon; the latter did not want any
Company and employed all kinds of ways to ruin the one he found
established.  He gave to understand to M. Colbert that this country was
too big to be bounded; that there should come out of it fleets and
armies; his plans appeared too broad, still he met with no
contradiction at first, on the contrary he was lauded, which moved him
to establish a large trade and put out that of the company, which
through bad success in its affairs at the Isles, was relaxing enough of
itself in all sorts of undertakings.

M. Talon desiring to bring together the government and the
superintendence was spending on a large scale to make friends and
therefore there was not a merchant when the Company quit who could
transact any business in his presence; he gets his goods free of dues,
freight and insurance; he also refused to pay the import tax on his
wines, liquors and tobacco.

Finally his friends or enemies told him aloud that it was of profits of
his commerce that the King would be enriched.

They fell out, M. de Courcelles and he; their misunderstanding forced
the first to ask for his discharge.  M. de Frontenac, who succeeded him
also complained and I believe he returned to France without his congé
whence he never came back although he had promised so to all his

You are aware as well as and perhaps better than I of the disputes of
M. de Frontenac and M. du Chesneau.

And that is all I have been told for my satisfaction of what occurred
previous to 1655 when I came here to attend to the affairs of the Rouen

I have also learned at the time of my arrival that properly speaking,
though there were a very large number of Indians, known under divers
names, which they bear with reference to certain action that their
chiefs had performed or with reference to lakes, rivers, lands or
mountains which they inhabit, or sometimes to animals stocking their
rivers and forests, nevertheless they could all be comprised under two
mother languages, to wit: the Huron and the Algonquin.

At that period, I was told, the Huron was the most spread over men and
territory, and at present, I believe, that the Algonquin can well be
compared to it.

To note, that all the Indians of the Algonquin language are stationed
and occupy land that we call land of the North on account of the River
which divides the country into two parts, and where they all live by
fishing and hunting.

As well as the Indians of the Huron language who inhabit land to the
South, where they till the land and winter wheat, horse-beans, pease,
and other similar seeds to subsist; they are sedentary and the
Algonquin follow fish and game.

However, this nation has always passed for the noblest, proudest and
hardest to manage when prosperous.  When the French came here the true
Algonquin owned land from Tadoussac to Quebec, and I have always
thought they were issued from the Saguenay.  It was a tradition that
they had expelled the Iroquois from the said place of Quebec and
neighborhood where they once lived; we were shown the sites of their
villages and towns covered by trees of a fresh growth, and now that the
lands are of value through cultivation, the farmers find thereon tools,
axes and knives as they were used to make them.

We must believe that the said Algonquin were really masters over the
said Iroquois, because they obliged them to move away so far.

Nobody could tell me anything certain about the origin of their war but
it was of a more cruel nature between these two nations than between
the said Iroquois and Hurons, who have the same language or nearly so.

It is only known that the Iroquois commenced first to burn, importuned
by their enemies who came to break their heads whilst at work in their
wilderness; they imagined that such cruel treatment would give them
relaxation, and since, all the nations of this continent have used
fire, with the exception of the Abenakis and other tribes of Virginia.

These Iroquois having had the best of the fight and reduced the
Algonquins since our discovery of this country, principally because
their pride giving us apprehension about their large number, they would
not arm themselves until a long time after the Dutch had armed the
Iroquois, made war and ruined all the other nations who were not nearly
so warlike as the Algonquin, and after the war, diseases came on that
killed those remaining; some have scattered in the woods, but in
comparison to what I have seen on my arrival, one might say that there
are no more men in this country outside of the fastnesses of the
forests recently discovered.

The Hurons before their defeat by the Iroquois had, through the hope of
their conversion obliged the Jesuits to establish with them a strong
mission, and as from time to time it was necessary to carry to them
necessities of life, the governors began to allow some of their
servants to run up there every three or four years, from where they
brought that good green (gras) Huron beaver that the hatters seek for
so much.

Sometimes this was kept up; sometimes no one offered for the voyage
there being then so little greediness it is true that the Iroquois were
so feared; M. de Lauson was the only one to send two individuals in
1656 who each secured 14 to 15,000 livres and came back with an indian
fleet worth 100,000 crowns.  However, M. D'Argenson who succeeded him
and was five years in the country sent nobody neither did Messrs
Avaugour and de Mezy.

It was consequently after the arrival of M. Talon that under pretext of
discovery, and of finding copper mines, he alone became director of
those voyages, for he obliged M. de Courcelles to sign him congés which
he got worked, but on a dispute between the workers he handled some
himself, of which I remember.

You know the number and the regulations given under the first
administration of M. the Earl of Frontenac.

It is certain that it is the holders of congés who look after and bring
down the beaver, and, can it be said that it is wrong to have an
abundance of goods.

The French and the Indians have come down this year; the receipts of
the office must total up 200 millions or thereabouts, which judging
from your letter, will surprise those gentlemen very much.  The clerks
have rejected it as much as they liked; I am told that they admitted
somewhere about six thousands of muscovy; during our administration
there were 28 or 30 thousands received, which is a large difference
without taking into account other qualities, and all this does not give
the French much trouble, and at the most for the year we were not
informed.  I have given my sentiments to the meeting, and in particular
to M. de Frontenac and to M. de Champigny.

We should be agreeable to our Prince's wishes who is doing so much good
to this country: his tenants who must supply him in such troubled
times, lose, and it is proper that people in Canada contribute
something to compensate them by freely agreeing to a pretty rich
receipt on their commodity but what resource in regard to the indian so
interested that everything moves with him, through necessity; they are
asked and sought after to receive English goods, infinitely better than
ours, at a cost half as low and to pay their beaver very high.

This commercial communication gives them peace with their enemies and
liberty to hunt, and consequently to live in abundance instead of their
living at present with great hardship.  Should we not say that it
requires a great affection not to break away in the face of such strong
attractions; if we lose them once we lose them for ever, that it is
certain, and from friends they become our enemies; thus we lose not
only the beaver but the colony, and absolutely no more cattle, no more
grains, no more fishing.

The colony with all the forces of the Kingdom cannot resist the Indians
when they have the English or other Europeans to supply them with
ammunitions of war, which leads me to the query: what is the beaver
worth to the English that they seek to get it by all means?

If also the rumors set agoing are true the farmers-general would not
sell a considerable part to the Danes at a very high price, should they
not have had somebody in their employ who understands and knows that
article well, it appears to me that the thing is worth while.

All the same, people are asking why they want to sell so dear, what
costs them so little, for taking one and the other, that going out this
year should not cost them more than 50s (_sous_), the entries,
Tadoussac, and the tax of one fourth, does it not pay the lease with
profit.  This is in everybody's mind, and everyone looks at it as he

I was of opinion to arrange the receipts on a basis that these
gentlemen got M. Benac to offer, so as to avoid the difficulties on the
qualities, and this opinion served to examine the loss this proposition
would bring to the country in the general receipt.

I have no other interest than the Prince's service, and to please these
gentlemen I should like to know, heartily, of some expedient, because
it is absolutely necessary to find one to satisfy the Indian; M. the
Earl of Frontenac is under a delusion: I may say it, they will give us
the goby, and after that all shall be lost, I am not sure even, if they
would not repeat the Sicilian Vespers, to show their good will, and
that they never want to make it up.  I am so isolated that I do not say
anything about it, as I am afraid for myself, but I know well that it
is Indian's nature to betray, and that our affairs are not at all good
in the upper country.

To a great evil great remedy.  I had said to M. de Frontenac that the
25 per cent could be abolished and make it up on something else, as it
is a question of saving the country, but he did not deem fit of
anything being said about it.

I also told him and M. de Champigny that we might treat with a Dutchman
to bring on a clearance English and Dutch goods which are much thought
of by our indians for their good quality and their price, that this
vessel would not go up the river but stay below at a stated place,
where we could go for his goods, and give him beaver for his rightful

The company should have the control of these merchandise, so as to sell
them to the indians on the base of a tariff, so as to prevent the
greediness of the _voyageurs_ which contributes very much to the
discontent of the natives, because at first the French only went to the
Hurons and since to Michilimakinac where they sold to the Indians of
the locality, who then went to exchange with other indians in distant
woods, lands and rivers, but now the said Frenchmen holding permits to
have a larger gain pass over all the Ottawas and Indians of
Michilimakinac to go themselves and find the most distant tribes which
displeased the former very much.

This has led to fine discoveries and four or five hundred young men of
Canada's best men are employed at this business.

Through them we have become acquainted with several Indian's names we
knew not, and 4 and 500 leagues farther away, there are other indians
unknown to us.

Down the Gulf in French Acadia, we have always known the Abenakis and

On the north shore of the River, from Seven islands up we have always
known the Papinachois, Montagnais, Poissons Blancs, (White Fish),
(these being in what is called limits of Tadoussac), Mistassinis,


There are Hurons, remains of the ancient Hurons, defeated by the
Iroquois, in Lake Huron.

There is also south of the Chaudière (River), five leagues from Quebec,
a large village of Christian Abenakis.

The Hurons & Abenakis are under the Jesuit Fathers.

These Hurons have staid at Quebec so as to pray God more conveniently
and without fear of the Iroquois.

The Abenakis pray God with more fervor than any Indians of these
countries.  I have seen and been twice with them when warring; they
must have faith to believe as they do and their exactitude to live well
according to principles of our religion.  Blessed be God!  They are
very good men at war and those who have give and still give so much
trouble to the Bostoners.


Wolves and Algonquins both sides of the river.


There are Iroquois of the five nations who have left their home to pray
(everyone is free to believe) but it is certain that threefourths have
no other motive nor interest to stay with us than to pray.

There are, then, Senecas, Mohawks, Cayugas, Wyandotts, Oneida partly on
the mountain of Mont-Royal under the direction of Messrs of St Sulpice,
and partly at the Sault (Recollet) south side, that is to say, above
the rapids, under the R. F. Jesuits, whose mission is larger than St

150 leagues from Mont Royal the Grand River leading to the Ottawas; to
the north are the Temiscamingues, Abitiby, Outanloubys, who speak

At lake Nepissing, the Nipissiniens, Algonquin language, always going
up the Grand River.

In lake Huron, 200 leagues from Montreal, the Mississagues and
Amikoués: Algonquins.

At Michilimackinac, the Negoaschendaching or people of the Sable,
Ottawas, Linage Kikacons or Cut Tail, the men from Forked Lake
Onnasaccoctois, the Hurons, in all 1000 men or thereabouts half Huron
and half Algonquin language.

In the Michigan or lake Illinois, north side, the Noquets, Algonquins,
Malomini (Menomeenee), or men of the Folle-Avoine: different language.


The Wanebagoes otherwise Puans, because of the name of the Bay;
language different from the two others.

The Sakis, 3 leagues from the Bay, and Pottewatamis, about 200 warriors.

Towards lake Illinois, on River St Joseph, the Miamis or men of the
Crane who have three different languages, though they live together.
United they would form about 600 men.

Above the Bay, on Fox river, the Ottagamis, the Mascoutins and the
Kicapoos: all together 1200 men.

At Maramegue river where is situated Nicholas Perrot's post, are some
more Miamis numbering five to six hundred; always the same language.

The Illinois midway on the Illinois river making 5 to 6 different
villages, making in all 2000 men.

We traffic with all these nations who are all at war with the Iroquois.
In the lower Missipy there are several other nations very numerous with
whom we have no commerce and who are trading yet with nobody.

Above Missoury river which is of the Mississippi below the river
Illinois, to the south, there are the Mascoutins Nadoessioux, with whom
we trade, and who are numerous.

Sixty leagues above the missisipi and St Anthony of Padua Fall, there
is lake Issaquy otherwise lake of Buade, where there are 23 villages of
Sioux Nadoessioux who are called Issaquy, and beyond lake Oettatous,
lower down the auctoustous, who are Sioux, and could muster together
4000 warriors.  Because of their remoteness they only know the Iroquois
from what they heard the French say.

In lake Superior, south side are the saulteurs who are called Ouchijoe
(objibway), Macomili, Ouxcinacomigo, Mixmac and living at Chagoumigon,
it is the name of the country, the Malanas or men of the Cat-fish; 60
men; always the Algonquin language.

Michipicoten, name of the land; the Machacoutiby and Opendachiliny,
otherwise Dung-heads; lands' men; algonquin language.  The Picy is the
name of a land of men, way inland, who come to trade.

Bagoasche, also name of a place of men of same nation who come also to
trade 200 and 300 men.

Osepisagny river being discharge of lake Asemipigon; sometimes the
indians of the lake come to trade; they are called Kristinos and the
nation of the Great Rat.  These men are Algonquins, numbering more than
2000, and also go to trade with the English of the north.

There are too the Chichigoe who come sometimes to us, sometimes north
to the English.

Towards West-Northwest, it is nations called Fir-trees; numerous; all
their traffic is with the English.

All those north nations are rovers, as was said, living on fish and
game or wild-oats which is abundant on the shores of their lakes and

In lake Ontario, south side, the five Iroquois nations; our enemies;
about 1200 warriors live on indian corn and by hunting.

We can say, that, of all the Indians they are the most cruel during
war, as during peace they are the most humane, hospitable, and
sociable; they are sensible at their meetings, and their behaviour
resembles much to the manners of republics of Europe.

Lake Ontario has 200 leagues in circumference.

Lake Erie above Niagara 250 leagues; lakes Huron and Michigan joined
552 leagues: to have access to these three lakes by boat, there is only
the portage of Niagara, of two leagues, above the said lake Ontario.

All those who have been through those lakes say they are terrestrial
paradises for abundance of venison, game, fishing, and good quality of
the land.

From the said lakes to go to lake Superior there is only one portage of
15 (?).  The said lake is 500 leagues long in a straight line, from
point to point, without going around coves nor the bays of Michipicoten
and Kaministiquia.

To go from lake Superior to lake Asemipigon there is only 15 leagues to
travel, in which happen seven portages averaging 3 good leagues; the
said lake has a circumference of 280 leagues.

From lake Huron to lake Nipissing there is the river called French
River, 25 leagues long; there are 3 portages; the said lake has 60 to
80 leagues of circumference.

Lake Assiniboel is larger than lake Superior, and an infinity of
others, lesser and greater have to be discovered, for which I approve
of M. the Marquis of Denonville's saying, often repeated:--that the
King of France, our monarch was not high lord enough to open up such a
vast country, as we are only beginning to enter on the confines of the
immensity of such a great country.

The road to enter it is by the Grand River and lake Ontario by Niagara,
which should be easy in peaceful times in establishing families at
Niagara for the portage, and building boats on Lake Erie.  I did not
find that a difficult thing, and I want to do it under M. the Marquis
of Denonville, who did not care, so soon as he perceived that his war
expedition had not succeeded.

I have given you in this memorandum the names of the natives known to
us and with whom our wood rovers (coureurs de bois) have traded; my
information comes from some of the most experienced.

The surplus of the memorandum will serve to inform you that prior to M.
de Tracy, de Courcelle and Talon's arrival, nothing was regulated but
by the governor's will, although there was a Board; as they were his
appointments and that by appearances, only his creatures got in, he was
the absolute master of it and which was the cause that the Colony and
the inhabitants suffered very much at the beginning.

M. de Tracy on his arrival by virtue of his commission dismissed the
Board and the Councillors, to appoint another one with members chosen
by himself and the Bishop, which existed until the 2nd and 3rd year of
M. de Frontenac's reign, who had them granted at Court, provisions by a
decree for the establishment of the Council.

It is only from that time that the King having given the country over
to the gentlemen of the Co'y of West Indies, the tax of one fourth and
the Tadoussac trade were looked upon as belonging to the Company, and
since to the King, because M. Talon, who crippled as much as he could,
this company dare not touch to these two items of the Domain, of which
the enjoyment remained to them until cessation of their lease.

So, it was in favor of this company that all the regulations were
granted in reference to the limits and working out of Tadoussac as well
as to prevent cheating on the beaver tax.

Tadoussac is leased to six gentlemen for the sum of ---- yearly; I took
shares for one fourth, as it was an occasion to dispose of some goods
and a profit to everyone of at most 20 ---- yearly.

About beavers there is no fraud to be feared, everybody preferring to
get letters of exchange to avoid the great difficulties on going out,
the entry and sale in France, and of large premiums for the risks; in a
word, no one defrauds nor thinks of it.  The office is not large enough
to receive all the beaver.

The ships came in very late; I could not get M. Dumenu the secretary to
the Board to send you the regulations you ask for the beaver trade; you
shall have them, next year, if it pleases God.  They contain
prohibition to embark from France under a penalty of 3000 livres' fine,
confiscation of the goods, even of the ships; however, under the treaty
of Normandy, I had a Dieppe captain seized for about 200 crowns worth
of beaver, and the Council here confiscated the vessel, and imposed a
fine of 1500 livres, on which the captain appealed to France, and he
obtained at the King's Council, replevin on his ship and the fine was
reduced to 30 livres.

As prior to M. Talon nobody sent traders in the woods as explained in
this memorandum there was not to my knowledge any regulation as to the
said woods before the decree of 1675.  On the contrary I remember that
those two individuals under M. de Lauzon's government who brought in
each for 14. or 15,000 livres applied to me to be exempted from the tax
of one fourth, because, they said we were obliged to them for having
brought down a fleet which enriched the country.

(Not signed.)


[Transcriber's note: Many index entries contain references like the "9
n." in the "Arms" entry.  The "n." appears to refer to the footnote(s)
that were on their host pages in the original book.  In this e-book,
all footnotes have been moved to the end of their respective chapters.]


Abenaki Indians, the, 363.

Abitiby Indians, the, 364.

Acadia, Indian tribes located in, 363.

Albanel, Charles, Jesuit missionary, 141; overland trip of, to Hudson
Bay, 143-146; at King Charles Fort, 147.

Albany (Orange), 32; Iroquois freebooting expedition against, 36-38;
Radisson's escape to, 39-41.

Algonquin Indian, murder of Mohawk hunters by a, 20.

Algonquin Indians, Radisson and Groseillers travel to the West with,
73-79; territory of the, 359; wars with the Iroquois, 359-360; tribes
of, on Lake Huron, 364.

Allemand, Pierre, companion of Radisson, 154.

Allouez, Père Claude, 142.

Amsterdam, Radisson's early visit to, 42.

Arctic Ocean, Hearne's overland trip to, 257-265; arrival at, 265-266;
Mackenzie's trip of exploration to, 281-286.

Arms, supplied to Mohawks by Dutch, 9 n.; desire for, cause of Sioux'
friendliness to Radisson, 120, 122.

Assiniboine Indians, origin of name, 10 n., 85; Radisson learns of,
from prairie tribes, 85; defence of the younger Groseillers by, 184; De
la Vérendrye meets the, 218-221; accompany De la Vérendrye to the
Mandans, 223-227; Saint-Pierre's encounter with, 237.

Assiniboine River, 218, 219, 221-222.

Athabasca country, Hearne explores the, 268-269.

Athabasca Lake; Hearne's arrival at, 268-269.

Athabasca River, 277.

Athabascan tribes, Matonabbee and the, 249.

Aulneau, Father, 210, 211; killed by Indians, 214.


Baptism of Indian children by Radisson and Groseillers, 92.

Barren lands, region of "Little Sticks," 253-254, 259-260.

Bath of purification, Indian, 14, 268.

Bay of the North.  _See_ Hudson Bay.

Bayly, Charles, governor of Hudson's Bay Company, 140; in Canada,
140-142; encounter with the Jesuit Albanel, 141-142, 147; accusations
against Radisson and Groseillers, 147-148.

Bear, Lewis's experience with a, 318.

Beauharnois, Charles de, governor of New France, 201, 203, 235.

_Beaux Hommes_, Crow Indians, 232.

Beckworth, prisoner among Missouri Indians, 33.

Belmont, Abbé, cited, 5 n., 98 n.

Bering, Vitus, 195.

Bigot, intendant of New France, 236.

Bird, prisoner of the Blackfeet, 33.

Bird's egg moon, the (June), 279.

Blackbird, Omaha chief, grave of, 311.

Bochart, governor of Three Rivers.  _See_ Duplessis-Kerbodot.

Boësme, Louis, 70.

_Boissons_, drinking matches, 280.

Boston, Radisson and Groseillers in, 136.

Bourassa, _voyageur_, 213.

Bourdon, Jean, explorations by, 102, 134 n.

Bow Indians, the, 232-233.

Bridgar, John, governor of Hudson's Bay Company, 166, 169, 171, 173,
174, 175, 180.

Brower, J. V., cited, 88 n.

Bryce, Dr. George, 6 n., 88 n., 187 n.

Buffalo-hunts, Sioux, 92 n., 124.

Button, Sir Thomas, explorations of, 134 n.


Cadieux, exploit and death of, 197-198.

Cameahwait, Snake Indian chief, 324-326.

Cannibalism among Indians, 24, 77.

Cannibals of the Barren Lands, 255.

Cape Breton, discovery and fortification of, 350.

Caribou, Radisson's remarks on, 127.

Caribou herds in Barren Lands, 255; Indian method of hunting, 259.

Carr, George, letter from, to Lord Darlington, 136 n.

Carr, Sir Robert, urges Radisson to renounce France, 136.

Carrier, Jacques, 71, 193, 350-351.

Cartwright, Sir George, Radisson and Groseillers sail with, 136-137;
shareholder in Hudson's Bay Company, 140.

Catlin, cited, 14 n., 226.

Cayuga Indians, the, 34, 55, 364.

Chaboneau, guide to Lewis and Clark, 312, 326, 332.

Chame, M., commissioner of Company of Normandy, 355, 357.

Champlain, governor in Canada, 351-353.

Charlevoix, mission of, 202.

Chichigoe tribe of Indians, the, 365.

Chinook Indians, Lewis and Clark friends with, 328.

Chipewyans, bath of purification practised by, 14 n.; Hearne's journey
with, 257-263; massacre of Eskimo by, 263-265.

Chouart, M., letters of, 335-337.  _See_ Groseillers, Jean Baptiste.

Chouart, Médard.   See Groseillers, Médard Chouart.

_Chronique Trifluvienne_, Sulte's, 4 n.

Clark, William, companion of Meriwether Lewis, 308-309; exploration of
Yellowstone River by, 329; hero-qualities of, 332-333.  _See_ Lewis.

Clatsop Indians, Lewis and Clark among the, 328.

Clearwater River, Lewis and Clark on the, 327.

Coal, use of, by Indians, 89.

Colbert, Radisson pardoned and commissioned by, 148; withholds
advancement from Radisson, 152; summons Radisson and Groseillers to
France, 176-177; death of, 177.

Colleton, Sir Peter, shareholder in Hudson's Bay Company, 140.

Colter, frontiersman with Lewis and Clark, 332.

Columbia River, Lewis and Clark travel down the, 327.

Company of Miscou, the, 352.

Company of Normandy, the, 354-357.

Company of the North, the, 151, 154, 175, 176.

Company of One Hundred Associates, the, 133, 352, 353.

Company of Tadoussac, the, 352.

Company of the West Indies, the, 133, 153; account of formation of, 357.

Comporté, M., letter to, from M. Chouart, 335-336.

Coppermine River ("Far-Off-Metal River"), 245, 249, 252, 262, 267.

Copper mines, Radisson receives reports of, 112, 124; discovery of, by
Hearne, 267.

Council Bluffs, origin of name, 311.

Council pipe, smoking the, 16, 29.

Couture, explorations of, 103, 129-130.

Couture (the younger), 143.

Cree Indians, first reports of, 69, 85; Radisson's second visit to,
112-113, 116; wintering in a settlement of, 117; a famine among,
118-119; De la Vérendrye assisted by, 206-208.

Crow Indians, De la Vérendrye's sons among, 232-233.


Dablon, Claude, Jesuit missionary, 103, 134 n., 142.

D'Ailleboust, M., governor of Company of Normandy, 354.

Dakota, Radisson's explorations in, 89.

D'Argenson, Viscomte, governor of New France, 99, 129-130, 356-357, 360.

D'Avaugour, governor, 104, 105, 107, 133, 143, 357, 360.

Death-song, Huron, 24, 54.

De Casson, Dollier, cited, 5 n., 96 n., 98 n.

De la Galissonnière, governor, 235.

De la Jonquière, governor, 236.

De Lanoue, fur-trade pioneer, 204.

De la Vérendrye, Francois, 215, 222, 229, 230, 233.

De la Vérendrye, Jean Baptiste, 197, 205, 208-209, 210, 212; murder of,
by Sioux, 214.

De la Vérendrye, Louis, 215, 229.

De la Vérendrye, Pierre, 215, 222, 229, 230, 235, 315.

De la Vérendrye, Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, leaves Montreal on search
for Western Sea (1731), 194-197; at Nepigon, 201; previous career,
201-203; traverses Lake Superior to Kaministiquia, 204; Fort St. Pierre
named for, 206; among the Cree Indians, 206-208; return to Quebec to
raise supplies, 210; loss of eldest son in Sioux massacre, 214;
explores Minnesota and Manitoba to Lake Winnipeg, 215-216; at Fort
Maurepas, 217; return to Montreal with furs, 218; explores valley of
the Assiniboine, 219-221; visits the Mandan Indians, 224-225; takes
possession for France of the Upper Missouri, 225; superseded by De
Noyelles (1746), 235; decorated with Order of Cross of St. Louis, 235;
death at Montreal, 236.

De Niverville, lieutenant of Saint-Pierre, 236-237.

Denonville, Marquis of, 336, 366, 367.

De Noyelles, supersession of De la Vérendrye by, 235.

De Noyon, explorations of, 204.

Dieppe, merchants of, interested in Canada trade, 352, 353.

Dionne, Dr. N. E., cited, 76 n., 88 n., 106 n., 139 n.

Dog Rib Indians, Mackenzie among, 283-284.

Dollard, fight of, against the Iroquois, 96-98, 198.

Dreuillettes, Gabriel, discoveries by, 70-71, 103, 134 n.

Drewyer, companion of Meriwether Lewis, 331.

Drugging of Indians, 63-64.

Duchesnau, M. Jacques, 149 n., 358.

Dufrost, Christopher, Sieur de la Jemmeraie, 197, 203, 205, 209, 210,

Du Péron, Francois, 47.

Duplessis-Kerbodot, murder of, by Iroquois, 5 n., 19, 45.

Dupuis, Major, at Onondaga, 46, 55-66.

Dutch, arms supplied to Mohawk Indians by, 9 n.; war of, with the
English, 137-138.


England, arrival of Radisson and Groseillers in, 137; effect of war
between Holland and, on exploring propositions, 137-138; Hudson's Bay
Company organized in, 139-140; fur-trading expeditions from, 140-149.
_See_ Hudson's Bay Company _and_ Radisson.

Erie Indians, the, 34.

Eskimo, massacre of, by Chipewyans, 263-265.


"Far-Off-Metal River," the, 245, 249, 252; Hearne reaches the, 262.

Feasts, Indian, 60, 62-63, 67 n.

_Festins à tout manger_, 60, 67 n.

Fields, companion of Meriwether Lewis, 330-331.

Flathead Indians, assistance given Lewis and Clark by, 327, 328.

Floyd, Sergeant, of Lewis and Clark's expedition, 332.

Forked River, term applied to Mississippi and Missouri rivers, 86, 100;
Radisson's account of people on the, 86-87.

Fort, Dollard's so-called, at the Long Sault, 97; Radisson and
Groseillers', in the Northwest, 114-115.

Fort Bourbon (Port Royal), on Hayes River, 161-175, 182-186.

Fort Bourbon, on Saskatchewan, 229.

Fort Chipewyan, 277.

Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark's winter quarters, 327-328.

Fort Dauphin, 229.

Fort King Charles, 139, 146.

Fort Lajonquière, 237.

Fort Mandan, stars and stripes hoisted at, 312.

Fort Maurepas, construction, 209; description, 216-217; De la Vérendrye
at, 217.

Fort Orange, Radisson and the Iroquois at, 36-38; Radisson's escape to,

Fort Poskoyac, 229, 235.

Fort Prince of Wales, building of, 243; description, 244-245; Hearne
becomes governor of, 270; surrender and destruction of, 271-272.

Fort de la Reine, construction of, 222; De la Vérendrye returns to,
after visiting Mandans, 228; abandonment of, 237.

Fort Rouge, 221.

Fort St. Charles, 208-209, 210, 215.

Fort St. Louis, of Quebec, first fortification on site of, 351.

Fort St. Pierre, 206.

Fort William, 280, 283, 287.

Fraser River, Mackenzie's explorations on, 294-302.

Frog moon, the (May), 279.

Frontenac, governor of New France, 154, 358, 360, 361, 362, 367.

Fur companies of New France, 130, 133, 151, 153, 175-176, 352-358.

Fur company, Hudson's Bay.  _See_ Hudson's Bay Company.

Fur trade, the French, 101-102, 104; regulations governing the, 104,
153 n.; effect of, on development of West, 113.


Gantlet, running the, 15-16.

Gareau, Leonard, journey and death of, 70.

Garneau, cited, 5 n., 87 n.

Gillam, Ben, encounters with Radisson, 163-164, 168-175.

Gillam, Zechariah, Radisson's first transactions with, 135-136;
Groseillers' voyage to Hudson Bay with, 138-139; at Rupert River with
Hudson's Bay Company ship, 148; active enmity of, toward Radisson,
165-167, 168-169, 171, 176, 180.

Godefroy, Jean, companion of Radisson, 154.

Godefroy family, the, 154 n.

Goose month (April), 253-254.

Gorst, Thomas, 140 n., 147 n.

Grand River of the North.  _See_ Mackenzie River.

Gray, Captain, 308.

Great Falls of the Missouri, Lewis discovers the, 317.

Great Rat, nation of the, 131, 365.

Green Bay, western limit of French explorations until Radisson, 69;
Radisson's winter quarters at, 79-80, 99-100.

Groseillers, nephew of explorer, title of nobility ordered granted to,

Groseillers, Jean Baptiste, accompanies Radisson to Hudson Bay (1682),
154; trip up Hayes River, 158, 161; left in charge of Fort Bourbon,
175; troubles with Indians and with English, 182-183; surrenders fort
to Radisson, acting for Hudson's Bay Company, 184; letters to mother,
184, 335-337; carried to England by force, 186; offer from Hudson's Bay
Company, 187.

Groseillers, Médard Chouart, birth, birthplace, and marriage, 45;
journey to Lake Nipissing, 71; engages with Radisson in voyage of
exploration to the West (1658), 71-79; winter quarters at Green Bay,
79-80; explorations in West and Northwest, 80-90; return to Quebec, 99;
second trip to Northwest (1661), 103-129; imprisoned and fined on
return to Quebec (1663), 130; goes to France to seek reparation, 133;
meets with neglect and indifference, 133-134; deceived into returning
to Three Rivers and going to Isle Percée, 135; goes to Port Royal,
N.S., becomes involved with Boston sea-captain, and reaches England
_via_ Boston and Spain (1666), 135-137; backed by Prince Rupert, fits
out ship for Hudson Bay, and spends year in trading expedition
(1668-1669),138-139; on return to London, created a _Knight de la
Jarretière_, 139; second voyage from England (1670), 140; involved with
Radisson in suspicions of double-dealing, 147-148; in meeting of fur
traders at Quebec, 149; retires to family at Three Rivers, 151;
summoned by Radisson to join expedition in private French interests to
Hayes River (1681-1682), 153-158; successful trade in furs, 158, 167;
jealousy and lawsuits on return to Quebec, 175-176; summoned to France
by Colbert (1684), 176-177; petition for redress of wrongs ignored by
French court, 179; gives up struggle and retires to Three Rivers, 179.


Hayes, Sir James, 180, 181.

Hayes River, Radisson's canoe trip up the, 158-160; Fort Bourbon
established on, 161; Radisson's second visit to, 182-186.

Hayet, Marguerite, Radisson's sister, 6 n., 43; death of first husband,
19, 45; marriage with Groseillers, 45; letters from son, 184, 335-337.

Hayet, Sébastien, 6 n., 43 n.

Hearne, Samuel, cited, 14 n.; departure from Fort Prince of Wales on
exploring trip, 249-252; in the Barren Lands, 253-255, 259-260; crosses
the Arctic Circle, 261; discovers the Coppermine River, 262-263;
massacre of Eskimo by Indians accompanying, 264-265; arrival at Arctic
Ocean, 265; takes possession of Arctic regions for Hudson's Bay
Company, 266-267; returns up the Coppermine River and discovers copper
mines, 267; travels in Athabasca region, 268-269; returns to Fort
Prince of Wales, 269; becomes governor of post, 270; surrenders fort to
the French, 271-272.

Hénault, Madeline, Radisson's mother, 6 n., 43.

Hudson Bay, overland routes to, 71; Radisson's early discoveries
regarding, 90-91, 127-128.

_Hudson Bay_, Robson's, cited, 139 n., 140 n., 147 n., 161 n., 166 n.

Hudson's Bay Company, origin of, 139-140; early expeditions, 140-149;
distrust of Radisson by, 150; contract between Radisson and, 181-182;
final treaty of peace made between Indians and, 185; poor treatment of
Radisson by, 188; quietly prosperous career of, 241-242; encroachments
of French traders, 242-243; demand for activity, 243-244; possession
taken of Arctic regions for, by Hearne, 266-267.

Huron Indians, death songs of, 24, 54; massacre of Christian, by
Iroquois, 50-54; band of, with Dollard, against the Iroquois, 97-98;
territory of, 359; tribes of, at Michilimackinac, 364.

Husky dogs, 277.


Icebergs, Labradorian, 155.

Iroquois Confederacy, the five tribes composing the, 34;
characteristics of, 366.

Iroquois Indians, murder of inhabitants of Three Rivers by, 5 n., 19,
45; treatment of prisoners by, 15-16, 25-28, 54; Radisson's life with,
16-39; Frenchmen at Montreal scalped by, 48; hostages of, held at
Quebec, 48, 55-56; siege of Onondaga by, 55-67; encounters between
Algonquins and Radisson and, 76-78, 79-80;  Radisson's fight with, on
the Grand Sault, 94-96; Bollard's battle with, 97-98; Radisson's fights
with, on second Western trip, 107-108, 109-111; wars between Algonquins
and, 359.

Isle of Massacres, 50-54.

Issaguy tribe of Indians, 131 n.


Jemmeraie, Sieur de la, De la Vérendrye's lieutenant, 197, 203, 205,
209, 210; death of, 211.

_Jesuit Relations_, cited, 57 n., 69 n., 71 n., 73 n., 80 n., 81 n., 82
n., 91 n., 92 n., 96 n., 141 n.; quoted, 88.

Jesuits, in Onondaga expedition, 44-67; lives of Iroquois saved by, 65;
start with Radisson and Groseillers on first Western expedition, 73;
turn back to Montreal, 77.

Jogues, Father, 4, 56, 68, 69.

Jolliet, 84 n., 149, 151.


Kaministiquia, fur post at, 204.

Kickapoo Indians, location of, 364.

King Charles Fort.  _See_ Fort King Charles.

Kirke, Mary, marriage with Radisson, 138; becomes a Catholic, 152.

Kirke, Sir John, shareholder in Hudson's Bay Company, 140; claims of,
against New France, 152; forbids daughter's going to France, 152;
friendly influence used for Radisson, 180.

_Knight de la Jarretière_, Groseillers created a, 139.


La Barre, governor of New France, 176

La Chesnaye, cited, 115 n., 131 n.; backs Radisson in Northern
expedition, 152-153; outcome of Radisson's dealings with, 175-176.

Lake Assiniboel, 366.

"Lake of the Castors," the (Lake Nipissing), 76 n., 106 n., 364.

Lake Ontario, tribes about, 366.

Lake Superior, exploration of, by Radisson, 89; explorer's second visit
to, 111-112.

Lamoignon, M. de, president of Company of Normandy, 355, 356, 357.

La Perouse, French admiral, 271.

Larivière, companion of Radisson and Groseillers, 105, 106-107.

La Salle, 84 n., 85, 149, 151, 194.

Lauzon, M. de, governor of Company of Normandy, 355-356, 368.

La Vallière, 103.

La Vérendrye.  _See_ De la Vérendrye.

Ledyard, John, 308.

_Letters of Marie de l'Incarnation_, cited, 46 n., 58 n., 60 n., 63 n.,
81 n., 90 n., 96 n., 98 n., 139 n.

Lewis, Meriwether, starts on expedition to explore Missouri and
Columbia rivers, 308-309; reaches villages of Mandan Indians, 311-313;
first views the Rocky Mountains, 314-315; discovers the Great Falls of
the Missouri, 317; narrowly escapes death from a bear, 318-319; enters
the Gates of the Rockies, 321; reaches sources of the Missouri,
322-323; makes friends with Snake Indians, 323-327; crosses Divide to
the Clearwater River and travels down the Columbia, 327; arrival on
Pacific Ocean, 327; winters at Fort Clatsop (1805-1806), 327-328;
return trip by main stream of the Missouri, 329; adventures with
Minnetaree Indians, 329-331; arrival at St. Louis, 332; tribute to
character and qualities of, 332-333.

Liberte, traitor in Lewis and Clark's expedition, 311.

Little Missouri, Lewis and Clark pass the, 313.

"Little Sticks," region of, 253-254, 259-260.

London, Radisson's first visit to, 137-138.

Long Sault, Rapids of, Dollard's battle at, 96-98, 198.

Lord Preston, English envoy in France, 177, 180, 181.

Low, A. P., quoted, 128 n., 146 n., 149 n.


Mackay, Alexander, Mackenzie's lieutenant, 288, 291, 292, 293, 296, 299.

Mackenzie, Sir Alexander, early career of, 276; stationed at Fort
Chipewyan, 276-277; exploration of Mackenzie River by, 280-285; crosses
the Arctic Circle, 285; reaches Arctic Ocean, 285-286; returns up the
Mackenzie to Fort Chipewyan, 286; exploration of Peace River by,
288-294; discovers source of Peace River, 294; crosses the Divide and
reaches head waters of Fraser River, 294; travels down the Fraser,
294-298; adventures with Indians, 298-300; reaches the Pacific Ocean,
302-303; return to Fort Chipewyan _via_ Peace River, 304-305; later
life, 306.

Mackenzie, Charles, 311.

Mackenzie, Roderick, 278, 279.

Mackenzie River, exploration of, 280-287, 296-302.

Mandan Indians, bath of purification practised by, 14 n.; Radisson
discovers the, 86, 88; De la Vérendrye's visit to, 222, 225-227; the
younger De la Vérendryes' second visit to, 230-231; Lewis and Clark at
villages of, 311-313, 332.

Manitoba, Radisson's explorations in, 113-128.

Marquette, Père, 84 n.

Martin, Abraham, Plains of Abraham named for, 45 n.

Martin, Helen, Groseillers' first wife, 45 n.

Martinière, plan of, to capture Radisson for French, 188.

Mascoutins, "people of the fire," 80, 131 n., 364, 365; location of
the, 86; Radisson among the, 100.

Matonabbee, chief of Chipewyans, 248-249; aid afforded Hearne by,
256-263; massacre of Eskimo directed by, 264-265; suicide of, 272.

Ménard, Father, 105, 112.

Messaiger, Father, 204, 205, 209.

Miami Indians, location of the, 364.

Michigan, Indian tribes in, 364.

Michilimackinac, Island of, Radisson; passes, 112; early headquarters
of fur trade, 201; Indian tribes at, 364.

Micmac Indians, the, 363.

Minnesota, dispute as to discovery of eastern, 71 n.; Radisson's
explorations in, 89; Radisson may have wintered in, on second trip, 113.

Minnetaree Indians, Lewis and the, 329-331.

Mississippi, Radisson discovers the Upper, 80-81.

Mississippi Valley, Radisson first to explore the, 85-89.

Missouri, tribes of the, 86; De la Vérendrye takes possession of the
Upper, 225; Lewis and Clark explore the, 313-323.

Mistassini, Lake, Father Albanel at, 146.

Mistassini Indians, the, 363.

Mohawk Indians, murder of French of Three Rivers by, 5 n., 19, 45;
adoption of Radisson by a family of, 17; murder of three, by Radisson
and an Algonquin, 20; jealous as to French settlement among Onondagas,
47-48; siege of Onondaga by, 55-59; outwitted by Radisson at Onondaga,
59-67; location of the, 364.

Montagnais Indians, the, 363.

Montana, punishment of Indians by scouts in, 25 n.

Montmagny, M. de, governor in Canada, 353-354.

Montreal, expedition for Onondaga leaves, 47; Iroquois scalp Frenchmen
at, 48; return of Onondaga party, 66; De la Vérendrye's departure from,
194-197; Indian tribes located in vicinity of, 363-364.

Munck, explorations of, 134 n.


"Nation of the Grand Rat," 131, 365.

Nelson River, Radisson on the, 140, 161, 164-167, 170-174, 179 n.

Nemisco River, called the Rupert, 139.

Nepigon, De la Vérendrye at, 201, 202.

New York in 1653, 41-42.

_New York Colonial Documents_, 9 n.

Nez Perces Indians, help given to Lewis and Clark by, 328.

Nicolet, Jean, 68, 69.

Nicolls, Colonel Richard, quoted, 136 n.

Nipissing, Lake, 76 n., 106 n., 364.

Nipissinien Indians, the, 364.

Northwest, the Great, discovery of, by Radisson, 80-85.

Northwest Fur Company, the, 279, 280, 287.

Northwest Passage, reward of L20,000 offered for discovery of, 278.

Norton, Marie, 247, 270, 271-272.

Norton, Moses, governor of Fort Prince of Wales, 244; character of,
246-247; death of, 269-270.


Ochagach, Indian hunter, 202.

Octbaton tribe of Indians, 131 n.

Ojibway Indians, 115, 365.

Oldmixon, John, cited, 92 n., 114 n., 130 n., 147 n.

Omaha Indians, Radisson's possible visit to, 86, 88.

Omtou tribe of Indians, 131 n.

Oneida Indians, the, 34, 364.

Onondaga, settlement at, 46; Iroquois conspiracy against, 46-48;
garrison besieged at, 55-63; escape of French from, 64-67.

Onondaga tribe, the, 34; Jesuit mission among (1656), 46-47;
treacherous conduct of, toward Christian Hurons, 50-54.

Orange.  _See_ Albany.

Orimha, Radisson's Mohawk name, 16.

Oudiette, Jean, 154 n.

"Ouinipeg," Lake, 69, 71.

Outanlouby Indians, the, 364.


Pacific Ocean, Mackenzie's expedition reaches the, 302-303; Lewis and
Clark's expedition reaches, 327.

Papinachois Indians, the, 363.

Parkman, Francis, cited, 5 n., 19 n., 46 n., 87 n., 96 n.

_Pays d'en Haut_, "Up-Country," defined, 201 n.

Peace River, the, 281; exploration of, 287; Mackenzie reaches the
source of the, 294.

Pemmican, defined, 223.

"People of the Fire," the, Mascoutin Indians, 80 n., 86 n., 100, 131 n.

Pictured Rocks of Lake Superior, the, 112.

Piescaret, Algonquin chief, 4.

Pipe of peace, smoking the, 121-123.

Plains of Abraham, named for Abraham Martin, 45 n.

Poinsy, M. de, commander at St. Christopher, 353.

Poissons Blancs (White Fish) Indians, the, 363.

Poncet, Père, 41.

Port Nelson, 140, 161-175, 182-186.

Port Royal, Nova Scotia, Radisson and Groseillers at, 135.

Prince Maximilian, 226.

Prince Rupert, patron of French explorers, 138-139, 180; first governor
of Hudson's Bay Company, 140.

Prisoners, treatment of, by Iroquois, 15-16, 25-28, 54.

Prudhomme, Mr. Justice, 88 n.

Purification, bath of, Indian rite, 14, 268.


Quebec, Iroquois hostages for safety of Onondaga held at, 48, 55-56;
celebration at, on return of Radisson and Groseillers, 99; meeting of
fur traders at (1676), 149; Indian tribes located about, 363.


Radisson, Pierre Esprit (the elder), 6 n., 43 n.

Radisson, Pierre Esprit, uncle of the explorer, 43 n.

Radisson, Pierre Esprit, date and place of birth, 6; genealogy of, 6
n., 43 n.; captured by Iroquois Indians, 9; adopted into Mohawk tribe,
17; escape to Fort Orange (1653), 39-41; proof of Catholicism of, 41
n.; visits Europe and returns to Three Rivers (1654), 42-44; joins
expedition to Onondaga (1657), 47; besieged by Iroquois throughout
winter, 55-64; saves the garrison and returns to Montreal, 65-67; goes
on trapping and exploring trip to the West (1658), 73-74; reaches Lake
Nipissing and Lake Huron, 78; in winter quarters at Green Bay, 79-80;
crosses present state of Wisconsin and discovers Upper Mississippi,
80-85; explorations to the west and south, 86-89; in Minnesota and
Manitoba, 89-91; encounter with Iroquois at Long Sault of the Ottawa,
94-96; at scene of Dollard's fight of a week before, 96-98; arrival at
Quebec (1660), 99; sets forth on voyage of discovery toward Hudson Bay
(1661), 105; traverses Lake Superior, 111-112; builds fort and winters
west of present Duluth, 113-116; visits the Sioux, 123-124; reaches
Lake Winnipeg, 127; returns to Quebec (1663), 129; bad treatment by
French officials, 130; goes to France to gain his rights, 133-134;
ill-treatment, deception by Rochelle merchant, dealings with Captain
Gillam of Boston, and visit to Boston (1665), 134-136; goes to England,
137-138; marriage with Mary Kirke, 138; formation of Hudson's Bay
Company (1670), 139-140; trading voyage to Port Nelson (1671), 140-141;
recalled to England and poorly treated (1674-1675), 148; receives
commission in French navy (1675-1676), 148; complications between
wife's father and French government, 152; backed by La Chesnaye,
engages in new expedition to Hudson Bay, 152-153; returns to Quebec
(1681) and sails to Hayes River (1682), 153-158; troubles with English
and Boston ships, 161-175; jealousy and lawsuits on return to Quebec,
175-177; unsuccessfully presses claims in France, 179-180; commissioned
by Hudson's Bay Company, 181-182; sails to Hayes River and takes
possession of Fort Bourbon and French furs (1684), 182-185; return to
England, 186-187; annual voyages to Hudson Bay for five years, 188;
distrusted on breaking out of war with France, and neglect in old age,
188-189: consideration of character and career, 189-190.

_Radisson's Relation_, cited, 9 n., 46 n., 63 n., 80 n., 81 n., 98 n.,
99 n., 122, 127, 163 n., 179; language used in, 82; time of writing,

Ragueneau, Father Paul, 46 n., 47, 48, 50, 51, 52, 53, 59 n., 63 n.

Rascal Village, Indian camp, 305.

Red River, first white men on, 219.

Rhythm as an Indian characteristic, 160 n.

Ricaree Indians, insolence of, to Lewis and Clark, 311-312.

Robson, cited, 139, 140, 147, 161, 166.

Rochelle, Radisson's visit to, in 1654, 43.

Rocky Mountains, Radisson's nearest approach to the, 89; Pierre de la
Vérendrye reaches the, 233; Lewis's first view of the, 314-315; Lewis
and Clark enter Gates of the, 321.

Rouen, merchants of, interested in Canada trade, 352, 353, 357.

Roy, J. Edmond, cited, 102 n.

Roy, R., translations of documents, 335.

Rupert River, the Nemisco renamed the, 139.


Sacajawea, squaw guide to Lewis and Clark, 312, 321, 326, 332.

St. Louis, departure of Lewis and Clark's expedition from, 308-309;
return to, 332.

Saint-Lusson, Sieur de, 142.

Saint-Pierre, Legardeur de, 236-237.

Saskatchewan River, exploration of, 229.

Sautaux Indians, the, 89-90, 92 n., 131 n., 365.

Scalp dance, the, 12, 14.

Seneca Indians, the, 34, 55, 364.

Sioux Indians, the, 69; Radisson and the, 85, 88, 120-124; desire of,
for firearms, 120, 122; location of the, 365.

Skull-crackers, Indian, defined, 25, 121.

Slave Lake, Mackenzie on, 282.

Slave Lake Indians, the, 280, 282, 290.

Smith, Donald (Lord Strathcona), 275-276.

Snake Indians, Lewis and Clark make friends with, 323-326.

Society of One Hundred.  _See_ Company of One Hundred Associates.

Songs, Indian, 159, 160.

Sturgeons, Radisson's river of, 112.

Sulte, Benjamin, cited, 4, 5 n., 6 n., 7 n., 19 n., 43 n., 68 n., 76
n., 86 n., 99 n., 102 n., 139 n., 154 n.


Tadoussac (Quebec), Company of, 352.

Talon, intendant of New France, 7 n., 142-143, 357-358, 360, 367, 368.

Tanguay, Abbé, 5 n., 19 n., 88 n.

Tar bed, Mackenzie's discovery of a, in the Arctic, 286.

Temiscamingue Indians, the, 364.

Thousand Islands, massacre of Huron captives by Iroquois at, 53-54.

Three Forks of the Missouri, Lewis and Clark arrive at, 321.

Three Rivers, population of, 7 n.; in 1654, 44-45; De la Vérendrye born
at, 201; Indians of, 363.

Touret, Eli Godefroy, French spy, 137.

Torture, Indian methods of, 15-16, 25-28, 54.

_Travaille_, defined, 224.

_Tripe de roches_, defined, 78.


Vérendrye.  _See_ De la Vérendrye.

Ville-Marie (Montreal), Indian tribes about, 363-364.

Voorhis, Mrs. Julia Clark, Clark letters owned by, 312 n.


Wampum, significance to Indians, 17.

War-cry, Indian, sounds representing the, 11 n.

Waste, viewed by Indians as crime, 60.

West Indies Company.  _See_ Company of the West Indies.

Windsor, member of Lewis and Clark's expedition, 315-316.

Winnipeg, Lake, first reports of, 69, 71; Radisson arrives at, 127;
rumours of a tide on, 216; De la Vérendrye on, 216-218.

Wisconsin, Radisson's travels in, 80-8l, 89.

Wolf Indians located at Three Rivers, 363.

Wyandotte Indians, the, 364.


Yellowstone River, exploration of, by Lewis and Clark, 313, 329.

York (Port Nelson), 140, 161-175, 182-186.

Young, Sir William, champions Radisson's cause, 180, 181, 188.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Pathfinders of the West - Being the Thrilling Story of the Adventures of the Men Who - Discovered the Great Northwest: Radisson, La Vérendrye, - Lewis and Clark" ***

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